The full first-team offensive line of the Denver Broncos hasn’t ever taken a snap together, in practice or in games, due to injuries.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... For the second game vs. the San Francisco 49ers, Ty Sambrailo, the projected starter at right guard did not play, due to an elbow injury that will likely see him miss time in the regular season as well. The performance of the first unit was strong, but after that, they were a mess. Let us jump into the player grades.
Of the offensive line, expect the Broncos to keep at least eight. Factoring the injuries, they could look to keep nine. For me, the top-nine make the roster. The first five graded are who I expect to be the starters for the regular season opener.
Russell Okung, LT
Starting at left tackle for the first time in a Broncos uniform, Okung showed his strengths and weaknesses. He was excellent in the run game, but he had some struggles in pass protection in his short time on the field.
Part of his struggles could be attributed to him still coming back from injury and it being his first playing time in a while. His performance should make everyone comfortable with him being the left tackle and hopeful that he doesn’t miss time in the regular season.
Max Garcia, LG
Garcia showed some serious issues against the Niners. His run blocking was especially a concern. He looked slow and couldn’t keep his guys in front of him.
He also ended up beaten a couple of times where the ball carrier got tackled for a very short gain or even a loss. As for his pass protection, it was solid but he still has plenty of work left to become anything more than average in pass protection.
Matt Paradis, C
Paradis was one of the better players on the first unit offensive line. He was strong at the point of attack and held his ground in pass protection. However, Paradis wasn’t perfect.
There were a few plays where he got too far ahead of his man in the run game, leaving space behind him for his assignment to do a quick move to get behind. This happened a couple of times and was a consistent issue with the young center last season.
Michael Schofield, LT/RG
With Ty Sambrailo hurt, Schofield got the start at right guard where he played the opening series. Schofield was excellent there. His run blocking was fantastic, including opening a huge hole for the touchdown run to close out the first drive.
The only thing keeping his grade from being perfect was one pass play where Schofield was late getting to a delayed blitzer, but he got bailed out by the running back picking him up.
At left tackle, Schofield had a harder time but still played really well. His run blocking was a huge plus and his weakness was in the passing game. He had issues with speed rushers last year, and that's where he got hurt at left tackle—albeit he didn’t get hurt there as often as last year.
Schofield looks like a player who has really come along and has grown between since last year. His growth can be attributed to the coaching staff finding a flaw in his technique before last year's playoff run and putting in the work to fix it. Of course, many fans have become accustomed to blaming Schofield whenever the offensive line struggles, but that does not fit in here.
Grade: RG 97.9, LT 79.1
The right tackle had a really bad game. He was beaten multiple times around the edge, allowing pressure and his run blocking was really poor. It is easier to count the times he was good, rather than count the plays he was bad.
He has been dealing with an injury, but if he plays in Game 3 as he did in Game 2, a change should be considered.
Ty Sambrailo: DNP
Again, Sambrailo did not play due to injury, but expect him to be the starter at right guard when he gets back to health, or a top backup. He could even be plugged in at right tackle if Stephenson continues to play poorly.
Darrion Weems, RG
Weems has been a surprise this training camp and preseason and has come out of nowhere to compete for a roster spot. His play this last game was up and down in both phases, before he ended up leaving with a concussion.
Depending on how bad the concussion is and how long he will be in the concussion protocol, Weems should still make the team. The longer it is, the lower his chances of making it become. The O-line is already battling injuries and can’t be depleted any more than it is.
The backup played really well, but has been strictly at center, which can be a good and a bad thing. The Broncos like versatility on their offensive line with players capable of playing more than one spot, which builds their value and is why it is a bad thing for Ferentz.
On the flip side, the coaching staff could already be comfortable with him playing elsewhere on the line and just want to give him as much time at center as possible. There are many things that Ferentz needs to work on, but most of those come with experience.
Connor McGovern, RG
The final offensive linemen to make the squad is the rookie, but the Broncos could look to keep eight and sneak McGovern onto the practice squad. That is, if Weems' and Sambrailo's injuries are not worse than we think, or do not get worse than they are.
The rookie is the best aspect of the second unit offensive line from the Game 2, and he looked more than capable to be a starter, but most of his work did come against second and third unit defensive linemen. He got a very short time against first unit players after Weems left, but it was only for a couple of plays. That is also when McGovern looked the worst, but it wasn’t bad by any means.
Kyle Roberts, RT
There wasn’t a single player who saw the field that was worse than Kyle Roberts. It could have been just a bad game, but he looked like he didn’t even belong on a college field, let alone a pro field. He was consistently beaten and played a huge role in two fumbles lost.
He was beaten on both, with one leading directly to the fumble that was knocked out during Mark Sanchez's wind up. The other he allowed the pressure that saw Sanchez to try and escape, before getting the ball knocked out.
On one of them, Roberts had the perfect chance to just drop on and cover the football, but instead he tried to pick it up, which offensive linemen should never do. Right now, Roberts is looking like he is done with the Broncos and probably in the NFL. He will have to have an amazing game to bounce back.
Dillon Day, LG
Day was part of the second/third unit that looked atrocious. Besides Roberts, Day was a big reason why the offense struggled so much.
Day allowed consistent pressure and got pushed back more often than not as a run blocker. He too looked like he didn’t even belong on a college field.
Lars Hanson, RT
Hanson came in to close the game at right tackle and it was his first action of the preseason. It wasn’t pretty for Hanson, but he showed some technique that could be worked on.
However, there is a lot that Hanson has to improve on and that may make him not even worth keeping around on the practice squad.
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