As the now all too familiar dark clouds rolled into Dove Valley Thursday afternoon Gary Kubiak came to the podium for an unexpected press conference. Unfortunately the dark news, like the weather, was no longer a surprise.

Earlier Thursday ESPN’s, Adam Schefter first reported that two-time All-Pro left tackle, Ryan Clady, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Wednesday’s practice. That left Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison to reluctantly comment on the situation from a dark and dismal Dove Valley.

“Unfortunately we have some horrible news,” Kubiak began. “He (Clady) was just pass setting and you go back and watch the film you can see when he is pass setting he kind of picks his leg up off the ground like something didn’t feel right. He plays the next play and then pulls himself out,”

Initially the team thought that the injury was minor.

“Everything was positive last night. I actually worried yesterday but after I talked to Greek (head athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos) yesterday evening I felt good. We then came in this morning and did a MRI as a precaution and we got the result.”

The ACL injury will likely sideline Clady for the entire 2015 season and a clearer timetable will not be known until the swelling in his knee goes down during the following week.

Clady is coming off of a productive season in which he played in every game and made it to another Pro Bowl. His value along an inexperienced line heading into organized team activities this week could not be overstated Thursday and now the injury places the Broncos in a precarious situation.

Unlike Kubiak’s somber mood it seemed that Dennison was trying to find a reason for optimism despite the injury to arguably his best offensive lineman. However, when asked about the impact of Clady’s absence he was crystal clear.

“My heart goes out to Ryan because I know much work he has put into being a professional athlete,” Dennison said. “I’m crushed.”

Moving on from this injury is very unclear with several options available. Kubiak addressed the question of making roster moves in response to the injury.

“We will get it taken care of and then make some decisions. There will be no decisions made real quickly. I’m just devastated and feel bad for Ryan.”

For the Broncos now the cliché statement of “next man up” is all too real in May and is something Dennison addressed Thursday.

“That’s the only choice that you have. You have to go out and play. Their not going to stop the game or give us a mulligan or anything. We are expected to play,” he said.

The Broncos have a few veteran linemen that could move to the left side, especially Chris Clark who played the left tackle position well in 2013 when Clady missed all but two games with a Lisfranc injury. However, Kubiak stated Thursday that he hopes to keep Clark on the right side.

During Thursday’s practice the freshly drafted Ty Sambrailo played left tackle and last year’s draft pick out of the University of Michigan, Michael Schofield continued to get repetitions there.

“Obviously up front we have got some guys that are going to have to accelerate their process,” Kubiak said of his young lineman. “It’s a tough road but it is one that you have to step up and meet the challenge. It’s our job as coaches to get that done.”

Dennison went on to describe Sambrailo and Schofield’s progress as “developing” and when asked about when he needed to know who his starters are in the team’s timetable he made it clear there is a lot of time for them to figure it out.

“Preseason I couldn’t care less what we are thinking. There could be a lot of questions marks still but we will go into the first game knowing well what we are going to do. I hope there is competition and we don’t want anything etched in stone,” he said.

That approach will surely fit the Broncos for the near future. Of the Broncos eight potential offensive lineman starters, excluding Louis Vasquez, there is very little experience. Chris Clark’s experience moves him up the depth chart and it appears that Sambrailo and Schofield will fight for the left tackle spot for the time being.

The Broncos added veteran tackle Ryan Harris just hours after the team announced Clady’s injury to bolster the left tackle position’s depth per ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. Harris has played for both the Broncos and the Texans under Kubiak’s tutelage.

Outside of Peyton Manning suffering an ACL tear, Clady going down seems to be the worst case scenario for the Broncos who were already entering the 2015 season with questions along the line. Kubiak, who has only been at the helm a few months, said it best in his press conference Thursday.

“Very, very tough day for me and even tougher for Ryan.”

The team’s success may now hinge on a rookie or second year player making huge strides, at roughly the toughest position on offense, in order for the team and Kubiak to succeed in 2015. If that leap cannot be made Kubiak may have a few more tough days ahead.

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