Broncos Update Insider - 5/15

The offensive line doesn't register on the Denver Bronco's list of concerns entering training camp.

Denver had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL last season, and it returns intact. Last year the Broncos allowed a franchise-record low 12 sacks and were tied for second in the NFL with 4.8 yards per rushing attempt.

Once center Casey Wiegmann decided to return for another season, the offensive line was solidified as perhaps the strength of the team.

"We hope so," right tackle Ryan Harris said. "I think it's unique when you get all five guys back, I don't think that happens a lot."

The Broncos have had some upheaval at just about every other position this offseason. Everyone on offense and defense is also learning a new system. The linemen are learning too, but coming back for a second straight year together helps the transition.

Wiegmann is the key to the communication on the line. The longtime veteran, who made his first Pro Bowl last year, stepped in for an injured Tom Nalen during training camp and the other linemen followed his lead.

"When you have someone you're familiar with like that, the communication is short," Harris said. "Instead of saying 'We have to go there,' you can say 'Right,' or 'Left,' or something that is familiar to that person."

The line started all last year together. They might not be as lucky this season to stay relatively injury free, but their presence will help the running game and whoever starts at quarterback. The continuity on the line is immediately evident in practice.

"They just work together, and their communication is amazing," said rookie center Blake Schlueter, a seventh-round pick. "You can tell they've been together a while. They all know what the other person is going to do."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos are loading up at the tailback position. They signed Darius Walker, who started a pair of games for the Texans in 2007. Walker fell out of favor in Houston last year. He will vie for a third-down role on the Broncos.

Denver also has Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington, LaMont Jordan and Peyton Hillis at the tailback position.

--Josh McDaniels isn't in a hurry to pick a quarterback and end any controversy. He said he has a lot of evaluation left before deciding if Chris Simms or Kyle Orton would start this season.

"We've got a lot of work and a lot of evaluation to go through," McDaniels said.

--Tight end Shannon Sharpe was voted into the Broncos' ring of fame, the 22nd player to be honored. He will be inducted during a halftime ceremony on Sept. 20 during a game against the Cleveland Browns.

Sharpe, who played 12 seasons with Denver and retired as the all-time leader among tight ends in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns, was passed over in January in his first time eligible to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

--First-year head coach Josh McDaniels is going to demand a lot from his quarterbacks, including everything that happens before the ball is snapped.

A major emphasis for McDaniels during minicamps is having Kyle Orton and Chris Simms, the two quarterbacks vying for the starting spot, control the huddle as directed.

"I know that sounds like a little thing," McDaniels said. "But with what we're doing in our system ... to be able to go out there and get in the huddle and get out of the huddle and run the play and execute it the right way, that's a positive."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If we can get a guy that can perform before the ball is snapped and make sure there are no pre-snap errors, we're halfway there." -- Broncos coach Josh McDaniels on his quarterbacks.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--RB Tatum Bell.
--DE Ebenezer Ekuban.
--WR Darrell Jackson.
--S Marlon McCree.
--C Tom Nalen.
--RB Michael Pittman.
--WR Edell Shepherd.
--LB Nate Webster.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered) --RB Andre Hall (not tendered as ERFA) has played well at times and should get a shot to make the team in training camp.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED --DL Kenny Peterson: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Jeb Putzier: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--RB J.J. Arrington: UFA Cardinals; $10M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--RB Correll Buckhalter: UFA Eagles; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Andra Davis: UFA Browns; $5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--S Brian Dawkins: UFA Eagles; $17M/5 yrs, $7.5M guaranteed; can void to $9.5M/2 yrs.
--DT Ronald Fields: UFA 49ers; $5M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--WR Jabar Gaffney: UFA Patriots; $10M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--CB Andre' Goodman: UFA Dolphins; $25M/5 yrs, $10M guaranteed.
--OT Brandon Gorin: UFA Rams; terms unknown.
--LB Nick Greisen: FA Ravens; terms unknown.
--S Renaldo Hill: UFA Dolphins; $10M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--P Dirk Johnson: FA Redskins; terms unknown.
--RB LaMont Jordan: UFA Patriots; $2.5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--OG Matt McChesney: FA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--QB Kyle Orton (trade Bears).
--DT J'Vonne Parker: Not tendered as ERFA by Panthers; terms unknown.
--LS Lonie Paxton: UFA Patriots; $5.38M/5 yrs, $1M SB.
--DT Darrell Reid: UFA Colts; $6.8M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--QB Chris Simms: UFA Titans; $6M/2 yrs, $1.5M SB; 2009 cap: $2.71M.
--RB Darius Walker: FA; terms unknown.
--OG Scott Young: UFA Browns; terms unknown (subsequently retired).

PLAYERS LOST
--RB Anthony Alridge (released).
--TE Adam Bergen (released).
--CB Dre' Bly (released).
--QB Jay Cutler (traded Bears).
--DE John Engelberger (released).
--QB Darrell Hackney (released).
--RB Alex Haynes (released).
--TE Nate Jackson (released).
--LB Niko Koutouvides (released).
--LS Mike Leach (released).
--S Marquand Manuel (released).
--TE Chad Mustard (released).
--CB Karl Paymah: UFA Vikings; $1.55M/1 yr.
--OT Erik Pears: Not tendered as RFA/Raiders; terms unknown.
--FB Andrew Pinnock (released).
--RB P.J. Pope (released).
--QB Patrick Ramsey: UFA Titans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Dewayne Robertson (released).
--WR Cliff Russell (released/failed physical).
--DT Josh Shaw (released).
--LB Jamie Winborn (released).
--RB Selvin Young (released/failed physical).





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