WHY WAS MEINERZ TAKING SNAPS AT CENTER? BECAUSE 2022, THAT’S WHY.
Why was one of the best young right guards in the NFL taking snaps at center during practice this week?
Because these are the Broncos, baby. And if Quinn Meinerz has learned anything over his first two seasons on the Front Range, it’s to expect anything. The unexpected, most of all.
“I’ve I kind of tried to keep up on my center skills, just because it’s always good to have that,” the second-year guard told The Post earlier this week. “And I’ve always been an ‘emergency’ type of center.”
That emergency could be waiting around the bend. Backup center Graham Glasgow was limited again at Thursday’s practice because of a shoulder problem and remains a maybe for Sunday’s showdown with the 2-7 Las Vegas Raiders. Rookie center Luke Wattenberg, who got chucked into the deep end in last weekend’s loss at Tennessee and was picked on repeatedly by the Titans defense, is Plan B.
But if Plan B blows up … “I was just out there getting some snaps,” Meinerz said of his center work at practice, “and just making sure that I’m prepared and ready in case there is a situation where I have to play center.”
The Broncos have already started six different offensive line combinations through the season’s first nine games. If Glasgow can’t go, Broncos Country could be staring at lucky combo No. 7.
Given an offense that’s struggled in discipline, consistency and — most alarmingly — points, musical chairs up front could have the locals signing the blues again.
The Broncos head into Week 10, per Nflpenalties.com, leading the league in false starts (19) and low blocks (one) while ranking second in delay-of-game calls (five).
“When there’s not a lot of experience playing next to someone you know … you kind of have to fall back on fundamentals,” backup tackle Quinn Bailey noted earlier this week. “And extra communication needs to happen and things need to pick up in other areas.
“I mean, it just is what it is. There’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t change it. You’ve just got to do what you can during the week to prepare for it and when it gets to the game (itself), if you’re playing with someone that you never played with before, you kind of have to do the extra stuff — just extra communication and focus on the fundamentals with them.”
Cohesive line play is about rote, repetition and reaction. Even a half-second of time spent thinking, a gentle pause — either because of an unfamiliar teammate or an unfamiliar call from your quarterback — is time NFL defenses will try to exploit.
“I kept reminding (Wattenburg) that in the game, even after the first little botched situation we had, (that) the reality is, ‘You know how to do this,’” QB Russell Wilson said of the rookie out of the University of Washington. “I have all the confidence in the world for him. This guy is so smart, he works his butt off every day. You couldn’t ask for a better rookie in terms of his preparation and how he prepares.”
Wilson and Wattenburg played like strangers down the stretch at Nissan Stadium as the rookie center entered a cold game looking fairly cold himself. Ergo, one of the goals this week at Uchealh Training Center is to increase familiarity with Wilson during the Qb-center exchange with multiple options. Meinerz included.
“I just feel so bad with people (suffering) injuries, because this is my first year battling injuries (too),” Meinerz said. “I’ve even missed a bunch of time this year. It’s extremely unfortunate. We’ve just got to keep our head down and keep trying to do our job to the best of our abilities.”
When a reporter asked Meinerz if he’s gotten in some snaps in at tackle, too, just to be on the safe side, he smiled.
“I haven’t played tackle since high school,” the young lineman replied. “I won’t rule anything out. But whatever. Whatever I need to do for the team, man.”