Broncos notes: Figuring out an offensive line with two left guards

ENGLEWOOD—It would be an exaggeration to say the Denver Broncos’ new offensive line has been stumbling through the offseason like it has two left guards.

But the Broncos do have two left guards.

The offensive line may be much improved as promised this season but for now it’s a fluid work in progress. First-round draft pick Garett Bolles has moved up to split first-team snaps with Ty Sambrailo. Which means that despite Sambrailo’s impressive offseason, it appears Bolles is on his way to becoming the Broncos’ starting left tackle.

Connor McGovern continues to work at center with the No. 1 offense while expected starter Matt Paradis heals from surgery on each hip.

But the most surprising, if subtle, development has been Ron Leary switching sides with Max Garcia for the minicamp sessions this week that serve as the conclusion to the Broncos’ offseason program. Leary moved from left guard to right and Garcia from right to left.

“It’s really about the best overall fit,’’ Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said Wednesday. “The best offensive lines play well together. It’s not having five Pro Bowl players, it’s about having five guys that play well together and guys that are tough and smart. Max’s best position is left guard, so for us to be the best offensive line we can, Max has got to be the best left guard he can. Ronald being a veteran player, he had no problem going to right.”

It’s a surprise move because Leary played well enough as a 47-game starting left guard the previous four years with the Dallas Cowboys to earn a four-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos as a free agent.

While Garcia played more left guard in place of the banged-up Evan Mathis than right guard for the banged-up Louis Vasquez as a rookie in 2015, and all 16 games as a left guard starter in 2016, money and NFL seniority usually have hand in who plays where.

Then again, Leary is making $11 million in 2017 cash alone. It might be a little easier to switch sides when you’re making $11 million.

Broncos waive Taurean Nixon

One day after Taurean Nixon picked off Paxton Lynch and returned it for a touchdown, the Broncos cut their third-year cornerback.

Nixon was waived to make room for Chris Lewis-Harris, a sixth-year veteran who played seven games each with the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens last season. Lewis-Harris’ defensive backs coach in Cincinnati from 2014-15 was Joseph.

“He was my fourth or fifth corner my two years there,’’ Joseph said. “He’s a smart player and he’s an experienced player. He’s played nickel and he’s played as an outside corner also. We wanted to add a guy with experience to the secondary room as far as the fourth or fifth corner. Losing (Kayvon) Webster in free agency is a big deal. That fourth or fifth corner is one play from playing so we wanted to add a guy to the roster that’s played an NFL game. If something would happen, we’d feel OK about it.”

To start the seventh-round compensatory selections in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Broncos in succession took quarterback Trevor Siemian at No. 250 overall, Nixon at No. 251 and safety Josh Furman at No. 252. The Broncos cut Furman as they were setting their 2015 season-opening roster. Nixon only played in two games for the Broncos.

Good thing the Broncos took Siemian before the other two in the seventh round. (Wait, what?)

Nixon was one of the Broncos’ fastest players but struggled with consistency. For instance, one play after his pick six Wednesday, Nixon was burned on a Lynch-to-Cody Latimer deep strike down the right sideline.

Broncos Bits

Sitting out practice Wednesday with minor ailments were Brandon Marshall, A.J. Derby, Isaiah McKenzie, Carlos Henderson and Marlon Brown. …

C.J. Anderson will serve food, raffle off Broncos gear and sign autographs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Chick-fil-A restaurant located on 9311 East Arapahoe Road in Greenwood Village. …

About 40 players and 35 cheerleaders with Down syndrome, and current and former Bronco players will participate in a touch football game Saturday morning at Valor Christian High School as part of Ed McCaffrey’s Dare to Play football camp. Kickoff is at 11:20 a.m.

 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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