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Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak is an intelligent man.
He’s already proven some of those smarts during his team’s first OTAs, resting veterans and giving the young guys more time to learn while developing chemistry. Of course, due to an injury to starting left tackle Ryan Clady as well as trading away center/guard Manny Ramirez during the NFL Draft, Kubiak’s had to encourage competition on the offensive line.
Kubiak – as well as the entire offense – is leaning heavily on youngsters like rookie Ty Sambrailo, the favorite to start in place of Clady, as well as Ben Garland at left guard. If training camp were to start today, the head coach explained it would consist of the starters we’ve seen throughout OTAs, which is Sambrailo, Garland, Gino Gradkowski (C), Louis Vasquez (RG) and Ryan Clark (RT).
But, Kubee doesn’t want his players to become too comfortable, explaining on Monday that competition will continue throughout camp.
“I think we’re going to line up just like we are right now until we go to camp,” Kubiak said of the offensive line, Monday. “But I don’t think there’s anything etched in stone. It’s going to be very competitive.
“The biggest thing at tackle is it’s really hard because you’re trying to settle Ty down and those things, but yet, somebody’s got to be a swing player too,” he continued. “So, they’re still moving around and I think we are very competitive all the way across the front. Louis is the one guy who has been a steady guy in what he’s done. I think really after that we’re going to be very competitive all the way across.”
Competition drives success in multiple ways. First and foremost, it allows the cream to rise to the top through practice and evaluation. Secondly, it prepares everyone, starters and backups alike, to be ready for game action.
With so many new starters on the offensive line compared to just last season – Vasquez is the only one – there are bound to be bumps in the road as the season starts. And, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the line shuffled, even multiple times during the year, if someone struggles.
Denver’s offensive line has been the biggest question mark on the team since the Broncos were brutally beaten by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, and it remains that way today. If the line cannot protect Peyton Manning and allow him time to make throws, the offense will sputter. If they can’t fully grasp Kubiak’s run-first attack and open up holes, the offense will struggle, mightily.
Games are won in the trenches; the most physical team will bully, batter and bash opponents into submission. Denver now has to hope the competition will bring the best out of their linemen.