As the Denver Broncos head to Gillette Stadium this weekend to play the New England Patriots, they will have a center that is very familiar to both teams. Ex-Patriot Dan Koppen will take over the starting role for J.D. Walton, who was placed on injured reserve Monday due to a dislocated left ankle. Koppen played in New England from 2003-2011 and started 120 of 121 regular season games while snapping to Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. Now he gets a shot at snapping to another future NFL HOFer full-time, Peyton Manning. Some people just have all the luck.
Koppen was signed on September 11th after being the final roster cut after preseason for the Patriots, and the Broncos snagged the veteran center for insurance purposes to back up Walton. Now it seems as if the right move was made being the Broncos did not miss a beat in the second half between Manning and Koppen.
The transition should go smoothly as the offense is very similar to what is run in New England with ex-Patriot offensive coordinator turned Broncos head coach turned Patriot offensive coordinator again, Josh McDaniels. Did you get all that? Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has not changed the style of offense much and other than the actual language of the plays, Koppen will be just fine. The actual progress of the offense might actually prove to mesh better with both Manning and Koppen, and I expect that this will be evident in not only pass protection, but giving the ground game more flexibility and holes to exploit.
Koppen is a solid veteran who can handle the pressure and the nuances of a Manning no-huddle and will undoubtedly make the players around him better. It is just a matter of coincidence that he gets his first start against the team that just cut him in order to get younger and more athletic after Koppen missed 15 games last year with a similar injury as Walton just sustained. The extra fire under center because of playing in Foxboro may be just what the Broncos need against yet another top-tier team.
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