The season opener is three-and-a-half months away, but there is plenty of concern about the state of the Broncos’ offensive line already. And some of that is justified.
The Broncos’ starting line on Monday, from left to right, was: Tyler Polumbus, Seth Olsen, J.D. Walton, Chris Kuper and Zane Beadles. Walton and Beadles are rookies. Olsen is in his second season, but didn’t play on offense last year. Polumbus is probably best suited as a backup. Kuper is the most accomplished out of that group.
Things will change, or at least the Broncos hope. Tackles Ryan Clady (knee) and Ryan Harris (toe) and guard/center Russ Hochstein (knee) are all recovering and coach Josh McDaniels said he is optimistic about each of them.
“We expect and hope for everybody to be back by August,” McDaniels said. “Whether or not a guy is ready to participate fully by then, we’ll have to wait and see.”
McDaniels said Harris should return to practice soon, then Hochstein will likely return before Clady. Clady and Harris are two premier tackles, and Denver needs both of them back. The team didn’t play as well after Harris got hurt, and Clady might be Denver’s most irreplaceable player, an All-Pro left tackle. Hochstein’s return will give Denver some options, allowing the team to figure out if Olsen or Walton is best suited to start – with Hochstein filling in where needed. He can play left guard or center.And although the thought of being without any of the three come September is not ideal, McDaniels isn’t concerned at all about his offensive line right now.
“This time of the year is good for the lineman from a communications standpoint and execution in terms of communicating and working together but it’s not a physical time of year so they’re not really missing that,” McDaniels said. “That will obviously take place in August and hopefully they will be back by then.”