ENGLEWOOD - Matt Paradis played every Denver Broncos offensive snap last season and Connor McGovern played zero.
There is a backup plan this year that has one filling in for the other.
As Paradis recovers from offseason surgery on each hip this offseason, McGovern, a guard by professional trade, has been working at center.
Selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, McGovern spent his entire rookie season on the Broncos’ 53-man roster but never got the chance to dress on game day – not even in game 17 when the team was already eliminated from the playoffs.
In college, McGovern started at right guard, right tackle and left tackle. The Broncos drafted him as a guard, but McGovern began taking a few center reps in training camp last season.
It’s not unusual for mid- to late-round offensive linemen to essentially “redshirt” as rookies. Chris Kuper dressed for just one game as a rookie in 2006, then became a starting guard in his second season. Current Bronco tackle-guard Michael Schofield never played his rookie year of 2014, then started the next two years.
Paradis is expected back by the start of training camp but the Broncos will proceed cautiously. He is coming off a terrific 2016 season despite not practicing in the final two months as a way to protect his hips.
Plan A this year is for Paradis to anchor what should be a vastly improved offensive line this season. But if Paradis, who has actually gone two consecutive seasons without missing a game snap, experiences a setback and needs a week or two to rest, the Broncos are getting McGovern ready.
James Ferentz, the Broncos’ backup center last year, has also been working at center.
Breaking in Bolles
It would be a surprise if first-round draft pick Garett Bolles is not the Broncos’ starting left tackle on Monday night, Sept. 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
But he’s not expected to line up with the No. 1 offense right away.
“I don’t want my spot given to me,’’ Bolles said in an interview with 9News last week. “I want to earn it. There’s going to be trial and error. That’s how it is when you get used to a different organization. I was at Utah, there was trial and error there. I was at Snow College, there was trial and error.
“I’m always the type of person when somebody slaps me in the face, I’m going to get right back up and smack them in the face. I’m going to do whatever I can to help this organization, so we can win another Super Bowl.’’
Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo have been lining up at left tackle and they’re expected to keep the spot warm through the offseason. Bolles and his fellow rookies don't report for offseason work until Thursday night. Their first offseason practice with the veterans isn't until May 15.
Whether Bolles moves in by the start of training camp, the first preseason game at Chicago, the third preseason game against Green Bay, or not until next season depends on Bolles.
“He should come here with the mentality that we’re going to work,’’ said Broncos outside linebacker Shane Ray. “I don’t care if he was a seventh rounder, he’s going to get the same work that he would have gotten, period. I just hope he’s ready. We have big expectations for him.”
Make no mistake, the Broncos suffered from a Super Bowl hangover last year. No. 3 cornerback Bradley Roby admitted as much this week.
“Last year I felt like I didn’t train as well,’’ he said. “Coming off a Super Bowl, I wasn’t as focused as I should have been and I learned from that. This year, I’m way ahead of that.”