Rebuilt offensive line looks bigger, stronger and meaner
When Vance Joseph was hired as a first-year head coach in January, his first order of business was forming his staff. His second was helping that staff design the team’s playbook and remake Broncos’ image that was somehow lost in their playoffless season of 2016.
The redesign started up front. The Broncos’ biggest offensive weaknesses trickled down from the front five, hindering the running game and punishing the Broncos’ young quarterbacks.
Denver decided to let left tackle Russell Okung walk and accept a massive deal with the Los Angeles Chargers. Then it went shopping for pounds. The first addition was Ron Leary, a guard on the Cowboys’ leagueleading offensive line last season whom Joseph believes was the best guard on the open market. Also acquired: tackle Menelik Watson, a relatively inexperienced behemoth of a man who suffered a string of injuries in four years at Oakland. The last big piece was first-round draft pick Garett Bolles, a tackle nabbed from a relatively weak O-line class in this year’s draft.
The reconfigured line is built to be bigger, stronger and meaner, and will likely play a mix of zone and power in offensive coordinator Mike Mccoy’s system.
But it’s in training camp where the pieces will be aligned and the true starters will be revealed. Will Bolles get the starting nod for Week 1 at left tackle? Is Watson indeed Denver’s guy on the right side? And will Matt Paradis, the Broncos’ cog in the middle, be healthy enough to be good to go by the opener after recovering from two hip surgeries?
Eyes may be on the quarterback battle, but the starting quarterback’s eyes and future depend on the linemen.
Rookie offensive lineman Garett Bolles (72) joined the Broncos as a first-round draft pick from the University of Utah. He is expected to be their starter at left tackle.