Broncos O-line unfazed, moving on |

Broncos O-line unfazed, moving on

Eric W. Bolin
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
Denver Broncos center Tom Nalen takes a break in the third quarter of the Broncos' 23-20 victory in overtime over the Oakland Raiders in an NFL football game in Denver Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007. Nalen, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, sustained an upper arm injury in the Broncos' 41-3 loss to San Diego on Sunday, Oct. 7, and will be sidelined for the rest of the season as a result. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. ” One of the Denver Broncos’ biggest strengths when the season opened has quickly become a question mark.

With guard Ben Hamilton already out for the season with lingering effects from a concussion, center Tom Nalen was lost for the year during Sunday’s game against San Diego when he torn his right biceps.

But don’t tell the healthy players on the Broncos’ offensive line that times are tough.

“We’ll be fine,” Matt Lepsis said. “You just have to hone in on what you do a little more and kind of pick up the slack. Everybody needs to be on top of what they do a little more than usual, so we don’t have to rely on (new center Chris Myers) making calls so much.”

The usually reserved Lepsis is going to be counted on more to be the offensive line’s leader. He’s seen his share of duty. Lepsis, who is in his 11th season, was on both Super Bowl winning teams in 1998 and 1999. And with Nalen out of commission, he’s now the old veteran.

“Matt’s been in the game for a long time,” guard Montrae Holland said. “He has a lot of knowledge. I was talking to him yesterday, and told him he was the leader. He was next in line. We’re going to be looking up to him.”

He’s about the only constant in the Broncos’ line. This is Holland’s first season in Denver. Chris Myers is a three-year veteran, but it’s his first season as a starter. Chris Kuper is in just his second year.

At the same time last year, Lepsis is where Nalen was. The starting left tackle was placed on injured reserve after six games last year when he tore his right ACL.

Although Lepsis normally shies away from praise, Myers and Holland said he’s the centerpiece now.

“He’s always been one of the guys we all look up to,” Myers said. “In our mind, he’s a Pro Bowl type player. We’ve got to get out there and follow his lead now.”

Much of the focus will be on Myers in the Broncos’ next game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 21. He’ll take over for Nalen at center. Lepsis said Myers’ is ready.

“He’s been here for a while now, we’ve been through training camps together,” Lepsis said. Everybody knows what he’s capable of. I don’t think anybody is worried at all.”

The old Denver Broncos would never have spoken such words concerning the offensive line. No one talked to the media, especially not Nalen. And Lepsis preferred that anonymity. He’s content being unnoticed.

“It would just go unsaid,” Lepsis said. “I think Chris is going to step in and do a great job and you guys are going to be talking about whatever else happened.”

Though little else has gone right for the Broncos recently.

In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the defense is last in the league at stopping the run. Compound that with the frustration after a 35-3 loss at the hands of the Chargers on Sunday. Things are down in Denver, so the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time.

It gives Myers a chance to adapt.

“Modeling my game after Tom, Ben Hamilton and Cooper Carlisle, who’s in Oakland right now, I’ve taken a piece from all three of those guys and tried to make it my own,” Myers said.

Now, all three are gone, at least for this year. So a revamped and retooled offensive line still has a few kinks to work out. They’re fifth in the league in total offense, but just rank 26th in the NFL in points-per-game.

“We definitely are trying to work on our red zone right now,” Myers said. “We have a lot more things to work on after these couple of losses, now we have to worry about putting guys in different spots.

“We’ll just take it in stride. Someone will pick that slack up, trust me.”

Support Local Journalism