ENGLEWOOD - From the group of Denver Broncos’ backup players, no one is more ready to fill in and play than center James Ferentz.
He’s also among the least likely to get a game-day snap. Starting center Matt Paradis never misses a snap on Sunday even though he rarely practices during the week.
“I’d like to think I’ve been ready for as long as I’ve been here,’’ said Ferentz, who is in his second season with the Broncos as a backup center-guard. “There’s only one way to truly find out and that’s to go out there when everybody is flying but I feel prepared. We all pay attention. I think every backup on the team feels prepared. We all take a lot of pride in that. We can all be called on at any moment.’’
Ferentz plays center for the Broncos’ first-team offense during the week. No other reserve gets that kind of practice time. But, Paradis has taken every offensive snap in the 29 games (counting postseason) since becoming the Broncos’ starting center at the beginning of the 2015 season.
Two bum hips have forced the Broncos to become more judicious in when they ask Paradis to snap.
“I know one thing, I want him out there running the show on Sunday,’’ said Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak. “It is tough. When he is missing, he does all of the non-competitive stuff and all the walkthroughs that we add this time of year. We keep him up to date from that standpoint, but it’s more important that Matt is there for us on Sunday than it is on Thursday. We’re just trying to manage him the right way.”
Paradis is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season as he consistently gets high grades from the scouting website Pro Football Focus. Which is remarkable considering Paradis has been pretty much playing without practicing the past month.
Which bothers him considerably. This is a kid who started working on the family farm since he was five. Think he likes not practicing?
“I feel bad,’’ Paradis said. “Obviously it would be better to practice and get all those reps. It just changes the way you prepare. You do a lot more in the film room. We have to do a lot more communicating with each other.’’
Even with the Broncos taking last week off, Paradis didn’t practice Monday, then worked out with the team on a limited basis Wednesday, but sat out again Thursday. The plan is for Paradis to practice some Friday, then play Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that may well have AFC playoff implications.
Paradis is the quarterback of the offensive line as he calls out the protections after pointing out a defensive alignment key. It can’t be easy for the offensive line to perform as a cohesive unit on Sunday when it doesn’t practice together during the week.
“He’s going to be a one-day practice guy, but he’s had some time off these two weeks,’’ Kubiak said. “We’ll get Matt to game day each week, but this week he’s able to do a little bit more.”
In the meantime, it’s Ferentz who snaps for the Broncos’ first-team offense during the week before giving way to Paradis on game day.
“Mostly we talk about how he would do things, because I want to be similar in a lot of ways,’’ Ferentz said. “Obviously, different guys play differently. But for the most part we try to make sure we operate in a very similar fashion.’’