It’s no surprise that after a stunning 13-3 season, Peyton Manning has stolen much of the spotlight for the Denver Broncos’ offense.
Along with the addition of Wes Welker as the team’s new slot receiver, the Broncos’ already stellar aerial attack is set to make even more national headlines within the next few months.
But commonly lost in the shadows of the playmakers is the essential core of the offense that allows all pistons to go full throttle. This, of course, is the offensive line.
Obviously designed as backbone or foundation of this unsatisfied group, the bar will be set extremely high this season for the big men up front to perform even better than they did last year.
Last season, Manning was sacked 21 times for the sixth lowest ranking in the NFL.
While this number is certainly low, the Broncos still need to look to improve their conditions up front.
The starting line, as of right now, is still solid. Orlando Franklin, now with some viable experience at right tackle, played extremely well in his rookie season, but his run-blocking needs to improve. Because Denver now has an assortment of different style running backs to choose from, it would make sense that the ground game will play a vital role in the offense as well.
With that being said, the interior line is certainly getting stronger as well. Zane Beadles was sent to his first Pro Bowl last season, and long-time veteran Dan Koppen, formerly from the New England Patriots, filled in the critical role at center for the injured J.D. Walton. Both players are expected to compete for the starting job this training camp.
The only major concern on the offensive line, as of now, is the Chris Kuper situation. Kuper, who was one of the long-term Broncos from the Tom Nalen-era, was sidelined for nearly the entire season last year with a nagging ankle injury. The Broncos were forced to replace his position with Manny Ramirez, who certainly proved himself as a legitimate starter.
Kuper is an eight-year veteran, but his lingering health issues are definitely a cause for concern. It would not be surprising if the Broncos decided to release Kuper prior to the start of the season.
The Broncos also franchise-tagged Ryan Clady for another year for more stability on the outside end, and they have also signed tackles Vinston Painter from Virginia Tech and Manase Foketi from West Texas A&M.
With the expectation and anticipation soaring through the roof, the offensive line appears to be in a very powerful movement and definitely in the right direction.