ENGLEWOOD, Colo—In the tradition of the Denver Broncos offensive lineman who came before him, All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady is a man of few words. However, on Wednesday, he met the media following the conclusion of the third day of the Broncos offseason conditioning program.
He expressed relief surrounding the return of quarterback Peyton Manning, stressed the importance of the offseason program, and conveyed cautious optimism about new head coach Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme.
Perhaps the biggest question in all the NFL this season surrounded the future of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Clady, who makes his living protecting Manning’s blind side, said he was happy to hear Manning would be returning to the team for his 18th NFL season,
“I was relieved for sure,” he said. “I think we’re a better team with him than without him. I was a little nervous, but he loves football so much I figured he’s coming back at least another year.”
2015 will be Clady’s seventh NFL season. In that time, he’s come to understand how important these offseason workouts are for a player’s long-term success.
“I think it’s always important just to try to get stronger and faster in the offseason,” Clady said. “During the season you’re just trying to maintain, so this is the time to improve your body.”
Improving his body is going to be essential if Clady is going to thrive in Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme, which Clady says relies on, “a more athletic tackle.” However, despite its challenges, Clady says he’s happy to return to the system he played in when Mike Shanahan drafted him.
“It’s comforting. It was a long time ago, so it’s a little different,” Clady said, “I’m just used to the old scheme. It’s comforting. I think I can handle it for sure.”
When asked about the demands of the zone scheme, compared to what the Broncos ran last year, Clady shed some light on what he perceives are the biggest differences.
“I think it’s just a lot more running side to side and cutting more," he said. "Those are the main differences for us, in my opinion.”
With the departure of the Broncos starting left guard over the last two seasons, Clady is faced with the prospect of playing next to a new face in 2015. He isn't worried about it.
“It’s a little different," he said. "It’s all an adjustment. I played with probably five or six different guards in my career here. It’s nothing new.”
“The chemistry just takes time [with] repetition," he continued. "I think we’ll work on that and get to that, but I don’t think there is any new responsibility. I’m just trying to learn the system with everybody else and trying to improve as a player.”
Many fans expect to see a career renaissance from Clady, playing in the scheme he was drafted to anchor. The Broncos new offensive system will certainly play to his strengths. We could see big things from Ryan Clady in 2015.
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