Oakland Raiders. Then the Broncos selected Bolles with the 20th pick in the draft, lauding the tenacity he showed while playing at the University of Utah.
They completed the reconstruction with this week’s addition of Barbre, who will compete for a starting job, coach Vance Joseph said Thursday.
The Broncos won’t don pads until Sunday, but Joseph said he already has been intrigued by the energy some of the new blood on the line has created.
“It’s a physical group, even without pads,” Joseph said. “Their pad level is low. They’re fighting, pushing the pile, so I’m impressed with those guys.”
“They’re getting better,” said offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. “We’re playing against a great defense, so it’s a great test for us every day to go out there against our front seven, especially our secondary. It’s competitive, and that’s what we want. It’s a great challenge for our offense, especially our guys up front, going against what we have to go against.”
Denver’s offensive line shouldered its share of blame during a 9-7 season in 2016 that ended without a playoff appearance for the first time since 2010. The Broncos ranked only 27th in the 32-team NFL in rushing, averaging just 92.8 yards per game. The 40 sacks they allowed ranked ninth-most in the league. At various points throughout the season, the line sprung leaks inside and out, and the unit was a large culprit when Denver’s offense stalled during a crushing three-game losing streak near the end of the season.
Barbre is only a few days removed from landing in Denver but said he already has a sense that his fellow linemen entered camp determined to improve.
“I definitely think they’re all working hard,” Barbre said. “You can’t ask for anything else but to come out and work hard every day, put in your work in the film room and then come out here and put it in on the field. That’s all we can ask for as a group.”
Perhaps the most scrutinized position on the line is left tackle, a vital spot against the dangerous pass rushers of the AFC West. The Broncos want Bolles to have an immediate impact, and his performance in camp has yielded mostly positive reviews.
But during a camp defined by competition across the offense — from quarterback to tight end to the No. 3 wide receiver position — Joseph sees some of the most intense battles taking place on a line eager to make strides. He said Ty Sambrailo and Donald Stephenson also have put themselves in the mix for jobs at tackle.
“The best two guys are going to play,” Joseph said of the tackles. “We’re looking to have four guys who can play tackle for us because in our division, every team has two edge rushers, and they can play left and right. We have to have two tackles who can play.”