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Ryan Clady finds comfort in a familiar style

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A new head coach is old hat to Ryan Clady.

When Clady takes the field this season, he will become the first Bronco since Ring of Famer Billy Thompson (1969-81) to play for five different head coaches in Denver, including interim bosses.

The Pro Bowl left tackle is Broncos' longest-tenured active player. As he heads into his eighth season since being the Broncos' 2008 first-round pick, he also must acclimate himself to Head Coach Gary Kubiak's style and scheme.

"It's always different," Clady said. "I've heard good things about Coach Kubiak though. It shouldn't be too hard of an adjustment."

But it does require learning a new offensive nomenclature.

"It's a little different for sure," he said. "It's always the same type of scheme. It's just the wording is different. It's just learning the new words."

The words are new, but the style is old and familiar.

A return to a zone-blocking intensive scheme brings Clady back to the style for which he was drafted. His success over the years that followed cemented his status as a player whose effectiveness is independent of strategy, but he is nevertheless pleased to get back to zone blocking.

"It's comforting. It was a long time ago, so it's a little different. I'm just used to the old scheme," Clady said. "I think I can handle it for sure."

Along with Louis Vasquez, Clady is now one of two recent All-Pro pillars on an offensive line that could see three new starters. With Vasquez moving back to right guard from the right tackle spot he manned late last year, Clady is the only starting offensive lineman returning at his position heading into offseason workouts.

Unlike last year, Clady will not spend the offseason rehabilitating from injury. The lisfranc injury he suffered in a Week 2 win over the New York Giants in 2013 hindered him throughout the calendar year that followed. It was not until the end of the 2014 season that he felt that the injury was behind him.

"I feel good. I feel healthy right now," Clady said. "Moving forward, I'm just going to continue to work on technique and try to get better."

While that is his focus, his status as the leader of the offensive line is also a priority. The departures of Orlando Franklin and Will Montgomery assure the Broncos new starters at left guard and center. Vasquez's shift back inside leaves right tackle up for grabs.

But at those new spots, the Broncos have players suited for the scheme; offseason pickups Shelley Smith and Gino Gradkowski played under Kubiak and Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison, and potential right tackle Michael Schofield was on the Ravens' radar last year when Kubiak and Dennison worked on Baltimore's staff.

"They're good," Clady said of the young linemen. "I definitely think they fit this system a little bit more than the last system. So I think that's definitely a benefit for them."

But they, too, will have to adjust. If they have any problems, they can follow the lead of Clady, whose ability to absorb a new scheme and apply it on the field has allowed him to survive the alterations to the roster over the years.

"It kind of [stinks] when you have to change offenses," Clady said. "I'm not completely comfortable, but I definitely feel like the wise vet for sure."

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