Unit by Unit: Offensive and defensive lines

Defensive lineman Patrick Chukwurah (in photo) is one of the Broncos' few unrestricted free agents. Read about Chukwurah and others in this analysis of the Broncos' offensive and defensive lines.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Erik Pears, LG Ben Hamilton, C Tom Nalen, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT George Foster. Backups -- T Adam Meadows, G Chris Kuper, G/C Chris Myers. Injured reserve -- LT Matt Lepsis, C Greg Eslinger.

Lepsis' injury was a huge blow for the Broncos' offense. Lepsis is good in the running game and an excellent pass blocker at left tackle.

Pears, who replaced Lepsis and struggled at times, will be better for the experience. He's a good athlete and could have a future on the line, perhaps at right tackle.

Former first-round pick Foster hasn't lived up to expectations, was benched in midseason and got his starting job back after Meadows got hurt.

Carlisle is one of the team's few unrestricted free agents, but Kuper or Myers could be a capable replacement if he leaves. The line didn't have its best year but it should be back strong in 2007 with a healthy Lepsis.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- SDE Ebenezer Ekuban, DT Gerard Warren, NT Michael Myers, WDE Kenard Lang. Backups -- DE John Engelberger, DT Kenny Peterson, DE Patrick Chukwurah, DE Elvis Dumervil, DT Antwon Burton, DT Demetrin Veal. Injured reserve -- DE Courtney Brown.

The starting four was solid, not spectacular. The Broncos have built some depth on the line and have an effective rotation. The unit took a hit in the preseason when Brown had knee surgery and never recovered. Lang went in the starting lineup and had a good year.

Chukwurah and Dumervil were quick off the edge and would probably work well in new coordinator Jim Bates' system. Chukwurah is an unrestricted free agent. So is Myers, an underrated run stuffer who has had two good years for the Broncos.

Warren had toe injuries all season and didn't have a big year after getting a big contract. If healthy, he should rebound in 2007.


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