The Denver Broncos kicked off the second week of OTAs on Tuesday. Rookie first-rounder Garett Bolles has began his pro career as the second-team left tackle, with Donald Stephenson seeing a lot of the work with the first-team last week.
As the Broncos got back to work following the Memorial Day weekend, the coaches gave another guy an opportunity with the ones — third-year tackle Ty Sambrailo.
“He’s looked athletic this offseason," Head Coach Vance Joseph said Tuesday. "He’s getting his strength back. He was with the first team today as a left tackle, so he’s doing fine. He’s coming along great.”
Sambrailo was selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he earned the starting left tackle job, after Ryan Clady was lost for the season to a torn ACL.
The rookie started the first three games of the season protecting Peyton Manning's blind side and he looked good doing it. Unfortunately, he injured his shoulder on the road in Week 3 and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Sambrailo's second season was plagued by injury as well. He never was the strongest guy, but working to recover from shoulder surgery set him back in that department even further. He started four games at right tackle in 2016. It was an abject failure.
Fans remember Denver's Week 5 home loss to Atlanta, where Sambrailo relinquished multiple sacks off the right edge. His terrible performance essentially gave Vic Beasley the Pro Bowl and the sack crown.
Fast forward to today, and many analysts assumed Sambrailo's days were numbered in Denver, especially after the team took Bolles in the first round. But if Sambrailo has in fact managed to get stronger — I've heard that his upper-body muscle mass is seriously improved — maybe he coudl factor into the competition at left tackle. Maybe.
It's only a matter of time before Garett Bolles is the starter on the left side. Meanwhile, with Menelik Watson recently paid good money, the Broncos aren't going to keep four tackles on the roster. Both Sambrailo and Stephenson have been getting looks at left and right tackle.
Vance Joseph said that the two tackles will split these 10 total OTA practices like the quarterbacks will — five each at left tackle — but they're also seeing snaps on the right side, respectively. What they're really competing for, however, is the swing tackle spot. The Broncos have to figure out which guy can play both positions, should the team get into hot water in-season.
Although it's difficult for me to believe he has a real shot at winning the starting job, I've always seen Sambrailo as best suited at left tackle. But until the team starts hitting, we can't read too much into anything that transpires along the offensive line.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.