O-line takes some heat

The offensive line, which played so well in 2008, drew some sharp criticism from Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels after the running game once again failed to do much against the Eagles.

The Broncos' rushing attack has been struggling for a few weeks, with rookie back Knowshon Moreno taking plenty of the blame.

When McDaniels was asked about Moreno struggling once again, he shot back that Moreno didn't deserve the blame.

"Let me just say this -- (Sunday), we did not win the line of scrimmage offensively, period," McDaniels said. "When I say that, I'm not talking about the backs. We did not win the line of scrimmage offensively, and they did a great job defensively of being more physical than we were up front. They knocked us back in the backfield quite a few times."

The line took another hit Sunday when starting left guard Russ Hochstein suffered a season-ending knee injury. Right tackle Ryan Harris was already out for the year. Although there are some top-notch pieces on the offensive line to build around, the team will have to decide if it wants to upgrade this offseason. The Broncos will have to decide if the linemen on the team fit the power-running scheme they want to use.

"I'm not taking blame off the backs, because they could do a better job of reading certain plays and all of that, but it starts with what we do up front," McDaniels said. "We know that as an organization, we know that as an offense, I think everybody knows that around the National Football League. Until we win the line of scrimmage -- which we've done a number of times -- you're not going to run the ball very well."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Kyle Orton has thrown more than one interception in a game only once this season, in a loss to Pittsburgh. Orton has been very solid all season, with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He will be a free agent after the season, and a major question facing the Broncos is what to do with him in the long term.

--RB Knowshon Moreno has averaged less than 3 yards per carry in each of Denver's last three games. He had 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Kansas City on Dec. 6, so he'll have a chance to finish off his rookie regular season with a positive performance.

--RB Correll Buckhalter had one long run against Philadelphia but was otherwise shut down by the Eagles. Buckhalter had a big game against the Chiefs in the first meeting, going over 100 yards, so he should have plenty of chances to turn it around this week.

--WR Brandon Marshall had seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City on Dec. 6. He was the only Broncos receiver to do much that day, which has been a theme the second half of the season. He should have a chance to add to his 101-catch season Sunday. His career high is 104 catches.

--WR Eddie Royal was inactive against Philadelphia, but his absence allowed players such as Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd to make some big catches. Royal has been ineffective all season, and the Broncos will have to decide what role Royal deserves in 2010.

--TE Daniel Graham has seen his role in the passing game vanish after RT Ryan Harris' season-ending injury. In the three games since Harris went on injured reserve, Graham has four catches for 25 yards.

--K Matt Prater has 116 points this season, which is a career best. Last season he had 114 points. He hit his only two field-goal attempts against Philadelphia, continuing an excellent season.

--CB Champ Bailey could see Dwayne Bowe in coverage this week. In the first meeting, with Bowe out because of suspension, Bailey held Chris Chambers to 11 yards. Bailey is coming off a solid game against Eagles WR DeSean Jackson.

--LB Andra Davis' playing time against Philadelphia was limited because the Eagles forced the Broncos into using the nickel defense for much of the game, but Davis still had six tackles. Davis' production has been remarkable this season considering he often comes out in passing situations.

--DE Vonnie Holliday has five sacks, which is second most on the Broncos this season. Holliday has been a key member of Denver's defensive line rotation, and he could be asked back for next season.expe



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