ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With left tackle Ty Sambrailo ruled out because of a shoulder injury, the Broncos are forced to shuffle their offensive line.
Head Coach Gary Kubiak announced after Friday's practice that first-team right tackle Ryan Harris would shift to left tackle, with second-year veteran Michael Schofield moving up to the starting lineup at right tackle.
Schofield made the 53-man roster as the swing backup tackle, but became a third-round pick of the Broncos last year mostly based on his work at right tackle at the Michigan. He worked at left tackle throughout the summer so he could get a background there, but with Harris having some experience at left tackle, the shift at two positions was deemed to be the best option.
"I definitely got more comfortable at left tackle throughout the preseason, but right tackle has always been a comfort thing for me," said Schofield. "At Michigan, I always played it. I was always a right tackle. It's just a comfort thing."
Schofield had some difficulty at left tackle in the preseason finale against Arizona, allowing a sack and two pressures.
"The fourth game was a struggle for me. Up to that, I played pretty well," Schofield said. "The fourth game, I just went over to the left and my technique -- I kind of let it slip away during that game. On the right side I felt really good."
Harris, an eight-year veteran, started two games at left tackle for the Texans in 2013. His other start for the Texans came as an extra offensive lineman lined up as a tight end.
"Ryan's fine. Ryan's played there (at left tackle) against good players in this league. The majority of his work has been there because we've had some things going on all week," Kubiak said. "That's just part of this business." Harris said that his preparation and excitement is the same, but the adjustment from one side to the other requires some unique adjustment.
"I'll give you a challenge: you go wipe your butt tonight left-handed and see how it goes," Harris said. "There's always a difference, but it's just part of the deal.
"You play in the NFL, and things aren't going to be perfect -- ever. That's in life, too, whether you're a sportswriter or a fan. Things in life don't go perfect. You've got to be ready to adapt, and the team that's going to adapt the best is going to win on Sunday, and going to win the Super Bowl."
And Harris acknowledges there is extra pressure that goes with protecting Peyton Manning's blind side.
"Why wouldn't there be? It's only a future Hall of Famer," Harris said. "I think all of us on the offensive line have handled that quote-unquote pressure pretty well. It doesn't matter what side it comes from; you definitely want to protect him, and every time we do, good things happen. I think challenges are part of the process, and pressure is man-made, so we're looking forward to the challenge."
Schofield isn't just looking forward to the challenge, but the opportunity. He endured a frustrating rookie season in which he wasn't even active for a game, despite multiple changes on the offensive line.
"That was definitely hard, especially when they brought Louis [Vasquez] over to [right] tackle. That was kind of a shot at me, I felt like," Schofield said. "But I've been working my [rear end] off to try and get back out there."
Added Harris: "We all believe in Mike. He played big-time college ball. He played a lot in the preseason, and he's been taking reps here."
And as a third-round pick, Schofield knows it's time to begin showing that he was worth the investment.
"They drafted me last year in the third round, so I've got to prove I was worth that pick and come out there and dominate," Schofield said.
Harris believes Schofield built his confidence by grabbing a roster spot, beating out veteran Chris Clark, who was traded to Houston.
"I've just seen a really focused player," Harris said. "I didn't know him before this year, but he's been focused, especially since the season started, really ready to step in at a moment's notice."
Newly signed Tyler Polumbus will be available as needed as a swing backup tackle, Kubiak said.
"He's prepared and ready to go," Kubiak said. "It's really nice to have a guy come in like that. It's a great pickup for us because he's so familiar with what we're do. We're very fortunate from that standpoint.
"He's been active the last three weeks, so we didn't pick up a guy who hasn't played this year. This guy's been active, and he's been ready to play. Is it a lot to ask? Yes, but could we have been any more fortunate than to get a player who's in his position? Probably not."