The good news for the Broncos is Nalen and Hamilton, who were on injured reserve, should be back in 2008. Nalen had a torn biceps and Hamilton couldn't shake off a concussion. Getting them back will allow the coaching staff to figure out how to use Kuper and Myers, two first-time starters that did well in their place.
The news wasn't all great -- Lepsis retired. He didn't play well last season but was a good tackle for many years. Harris could take his place in the lineup. Kuper could also move to tackle, or Pears could move from the right side to the left side. Pears played left tackle in 2006 after Lepsis injured his knee.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LDE John Engelberger, DT Marcus Thomas, DT Alvin McKinley, RDE Elvis Dumervil. Backups -- DE Tim Crowder, DE Jarvis Moss, DT Josh Mallard, DE Larry Birdine, DE Paul Carrington, DT Kenny Peterson, DT Steven Harris, DE Ebenezer Ekuban.
The good news for this group is there is some young talent. Crowder and Thomas could be starters for a long time. Dumervil is a top pass rusher, and he will be in his third year. Moss was a first-round pick in 2007, and although he wasn't playing well when he suffered a season-ending leg injury, he could become a productive player.
The problem is
there weren't many solid veterans that could allow those youngsters to
develop slowly. Engelberger is solid against the run but doesn't rush the
quarterback. McKinley quietly had a good, but unspectacular, season.
The Broncos tinkered with this position more than any other, bringing in
players like Birdine, Mallard and Carrington who could develop. Mallard
finished the season well.
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