The portion on the Broncos' offensive line will be huge.
Three players who have never taken a regular-season snap in the NFL could be in the starting lineup in the trenches in Jacksonville against the Jaguars. It's believed to be the first time in franchise history that will have occurred, should the first team align in that manner.
The only thing that would prevent it from happening that way is if right tackle Ryan Harris' left ankle sprain heals sufficiently to allow him to play in the opener. Harris had his leg rolled up on by running back Lance Ball during the preseason finale during a first-quarter rush. Harris missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
He would be replaced by rookie second-round pick Zane Beadles, who spent training camp nearly exclusively at left guard but played tackle his final three years in college and has been working there on both sides of the line the last couple weeks.
The other two neophytes are more set for the weekend.
Rookie J.D. Walton, a third-round pick out of Baylor, was inserted with the first team in OTAs at center and has remained there. Stanley Daniels, cut four times since 2007 and an addition to Denver's roster in mid-May after stints on the Packers and Jets practice squads, will be the left guard. Daniels' physical play in the preseason won him the job over Beadles.
To compound matters, left tackle Ryan Clady only recently returned to the starting lineup coming off a serious knee injury and looked a step slow in a brief trial in that Minnesota game.
So Denver's not only going to be inexperienced, but this particular group hasn't had time to play together much during the preseason, either, and will be going against a physical, aggressive Jacksonville front seven.
The Broncos, who had trouble finding continuity in the running game in the preseason, may have to compensate some because of the uncertainty up front.
Denver likes to employ frequent three wide formations but may have to use more two tight end sets with Daniel Graham, Richard Quinn and newcomer Dan Gronkowski helping provide a push while protecting the flanks.
Jacksonville could test the middle of Denver's line with blitzes to test the communication within the group and try to create confusion.
Quarterback Kyle Orton wasn't going to be taking seven-step drops consistently and firing away from the pocket anyway, but he may have to get the ball out quicker with short passes and try to methodically drive Denver downfield until the line gets its feet wet, then perhaps take a shot or two downfield.
SERIES HISTORY: 8th regular-season meeting. Jaguars lead series, 4-3. Jaguars have won two straight games. Most historic meeting between these two teams came in a 1996 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, when the second-year Jaguars ended Denver's most successful season since 1991 in a 30-27 stunner at old Mile High Stadium.
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