ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The injury bug has bit the Broncos more than any other team. That same bug has hit Denver’s offensive line more than any part of the team. Every position outside of Dalton Risner at left guard has been hit.
Garett Bolles, Quinn Meinerz, Cam Fleming, Billy Turner, Lloyd Cushenberry, Graham Glasgow and Tom Compton have all missed time due to various injuries.
But help may be on the way to the wounded unit.
At the end of Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Titans, the Broncos’ offensive line was made up of their third-string left tackle, starting left guard, third-string center, starting right guard and third-string right tackle.
All three of the positions playing backups on Sunday could get a big boost by the time the Broncos host the Raiders.
On Tuesday, Denver activated versatile lineman Tom Compton off the PUP, putting him on the active roster for the first time since he signed with the team in the offseason. Compton was sidelined in the offseason with a back injury that required him to have a procedure.
On Wednesday, he was on the field as a limited participant in practice with the hope that he would be able to suit up and play against Las Vegas.
“We sure want him to,” Nathaniel Hackett said before Wednesday’s practice, when asked if the veteran lineman will play on Sunday. “He’s a player that’s played a lot of games in this league. We need him. We need him for this team. So this is going to be a big week for him I think for him to take a big step forward.”
In his ten-year career, Compton has played every position along the offensive line outside of center. With the Broncos banged up across the line, he has the flexibility to fill in at a number of positions.
“I think right now that’s the good thing about having guy like that,” Hackett said about Compton’s versatility. “He can play probably all four positions in there — I don’t think he’s played center. He’s going to give us a lot of value in that flexibility that we need.”
Before suffering the injury, it was believed Compton was going to compete with Billy Turner and Calvin Anderson for the starting right tackle position. With Turner on IR and Anderson playing left tackle, Compton could easily take the starting right tackle position as early as Sunday.
On the other side of the line, Denver could get their backup left tackle back as well. Once Garett Bolles suffered a season-ending leg injury, veteran tackle Cam Fleming flipped from being the starting right tackle to the left side. However, shortly after, Fleming suffered a quadriceps injury in Week 7 that has held him out since. Just like Compton, Fleming was a limited participant in practice, giving hope he could be back in the starting lineup on Sunday.
Hackett’s offensive line could also be looking for a boost at center too.
After going down with what looked to be a devastating shoulder injury against the Titans, there’s hope Graham Glasgow is back at center against the Raiders.
“Right now, we feel like we dodged a little bit of a bullet with Graham,” Hackett stated on Wednesday. “I think after kind of seeing him walk off the field seeing how he was reacting, I was a little nervous, but he’s really bounced back very well. We’re going to play it day to day.”
Unlike Fleming and Compton, however, Glasgow did not practice on Wednesday.
Glasgow did an admirable job when he stepped in for Lloyd Cushenberry in Week 8. However, when Glasgow went down against the Titans, rookie Luke Wattenberg struggled building chemistry with Russell Wilson as the two had multiple fumbled snaps. Leading up to the Raiders game, Wattenberg and Wilson will get a week of practice to work on snaps.
“We always try to work it. You can never work it enough, especially going under there for a snap, everybody snaps it a little bit different,” Hackett said. “You want to try to get it as consistent as you can. We’ll try to continually work it now, if we got to go with him. So they’ll get a fully week from that standpoint.”
If Glasgow can’t play, the Broncos are still determining who will be Wattenberg’s backup at center.
Denver’s offense will welcome any help they can get as they try to not be the worst-scoring offense in the NFL. On Wednesday, when asked what the identity of the offense is right now, Hackett bluntly stated, “It’s not a good one.”
Getting multiple offensive lineman back could be a boost the Broncos’ offense so desperately needs.