As the Broncos prepare for their first preseason game of 2017, some big battles in the backfield are brewing. But for the big guys up front, those battles don’t change the way they’re approaching this season.
Trevor Seimian and Paxton Lynch will each get a chance to start a preseason game as they battle for the starting quarterback job. Head Coach Vance Joseph announced Monday that Siemian will start Thursday against the Bears, while Lynch will get his chance against the 49ers on Aug. 19 in Preseason Week 2.
For right guard Ron Leary, nothing changes based on who is under center. In fact, there are times Leary doesn’t even know who’s there.
“No, it’s pretty much the same,” Leary said after Monday’s practice Both of their voices are a little different from each other. Other than that, it’s really on us. Honestly, I don’t know who is under the center sometimes. I just focus on the play and just try to execute my block. I think that’s what the whole line does. When we do that, we trust the QBs to make the right decision.”
The same goes for the guys they’re opening holes for.
Denver has a trio of running backs expected to contribute this season in C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and Jamaal Charles. And with Booker on the shelf with a wrist injury through at least the preseason, veterans Stevan Ridley and Juwan Thompson are getting a chance along with sixth-round draft pick De’Angelo Henderson. Again, Leary says it doesn’t matter who’s handling the ball behind them.
“I don’t think it matters at all. Like I was just saying, we have a great, deep running back room. It has to be the deepest running back room in the league. As an o-line, we just try to focus on our blocks, make sure we stay on them and be really sticky with our blocks. Any one of those backs can make the cut and make the big run, so that’s kind of on us.”
With potentially four new starters surrounding center Matt Paradis, including Leary himself, the veteran guard says the focus of this line is on finding cohesion and consistency among themselves.
“I think it’s all a work in progress. We have a lot of moving parts, like you said, since the beginning of camp with guys being out and things like that. We’re making progress as a group. It’s giving other guys the opportunity to get better and to get reps. I think everybody is just looking forward to getting out there on Thursday and playing a real game.”
After the release of Denver’s first depth chart Monday, the O-line will see three new starters from last season – Leary at right guard, Menelik Watson at right tackle and Garett Bolles at left tackle. At left guard, Max Garcia will start Thursday, but is battling with recent acquisition Allen Barbre. Even Bolles knows that nothing is guaranteed until Week 1
“I have four preseason games to earn my spot,” Bolles said Monday, “so I’m just going to continue to work hard every single day. I have Ty Sambrailo and Don (Donald Stephenson) pushing me every single day. Until it’s official on Week 1, then that doesn’t faze me.”
The O-line is isn’t fazed by internal competition, or by who’s lining up behind them. They’re strictly focused on improving the results from the last two years.
“Everybody knows what has been said about [the offensive line] the last couple years,” Leary said. “They’re not satisfied with it. I can see that every day. Everybody is just trying to come out and focus on one thing to get better at. I think as we continue to do it individually, as a group, we’ll get better.”