ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Peyton Manning was a unanimous All-Pro selection. Louis Vasquez was not a unanimous pick, but is the only free agent who changed teams last year to make the first-team All-Pro squad -- and the first Broncos guard ever selected as a first-team All-Pro.
Their inclusions are not coincidental, and represent validation of the symbiotic relationship Manning and his offensive line possess.
No offensive line allowed fewer sacks -- both in raw total (20) and rate relative to pass plays (one every 34.8). No offensive line allowed its quarterbacks to be hit less often; Manning and Brock Osweiler were hit once every 13.6 pass plays, far better than the league average of one every 7.44 pass plays.
Some of that is due to Manning's ability to usually release the football within two seconds of the snap. But the offensive line must also respond to Manning's checks and calls before the snap, communicate and make the necessary adjustments.
"I kind of knew what I was getting into from the get go but as soon as I got here it was like a whole different world," said Vasquez. "Just how Peyton works, me coming into an offensive line where I already knew and played with another guy (at Texas Tech) Manny Ramirez. And then just the rest of the O-line guys have been welcoming, accepting and helped me along the way to be where I'm at today."
Vasquez is the Broncos' only offensive lineman to receive Pro Bowl or All-Pro recognition this year, and credits teammates for making it possible.
"Just having great players around me helps," Vasquez said. "Everybody else looks that good, guys like Peyton just make you want to elevate your game. Again, its humbling and I can't thank my teammates enough."
Of the 38 guards who played at least 900 snaps in 2013, Vasquez was one of two, along with Detroit rookie Larry Warford, to allow no sacks, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Low sack totals are nothing new for Vasquez; ProFootballFocus.com credited him with just three sacks allowed in the 2011 and 2012 seasons combined, as he was the most stable component of a then-struggling line. But he's also become one of the league's best run blockers, and helped blast holes through which Knowshon Moreno notched his first career 1,000-yard season.
By the end of the season, the Broncos' ground game was among the league's most productive, averaging 4.86 yards per carry from Week 12 onward, fifth-best in the league. Vasquez helped make that possible.
"He's been firm up the middle and in the run game (with) the push he gives," said Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase. "You can always feel like, 'Hey, when we need to get a yard, if we go behind him, he's going to get it for us, between him and Orlando (Franklin).'"
And fostering that kind of confidence is why Vasquez has a place in Broncos history.