Yesterday’s win didn’t come without pain and injury. Champ Bailey left the Broncos’ locker room on crutches, but is hopeful for Sunday’s game against the Colts. Bailey’s counterpart, Andre Goodman also sustained an injury (thigh) causing him to leave the game and not return.
As most of us dread getting up early to go back to work on Monday’s, football players literally have trouble climbing out of their beds on Monday mornings. The day after a game probably feels like you’ve been hit by a semi-tractor.
No amount of ice baths, painkillers, cortisone injections, and/or training tape can make a player completely forget about the pain and soreness. Those tools only dull the sensation so that the player can do a little running to warm the muscles, sit through meetings, and get through the day. Tuesdays are a day off for most NFL players. Some may come in to watch some film and receive treatment in the training room, but Tuesdays are generally reserved for rest and recovery.
As the Broncos shoot to heal Bailey and Goodman before they host the Colts, Wesley Woodyard, Ryan Harris and Chris Kuper will be alongside the two cornerbacks in the treatment room. Harris (ankle) hasn’t played in a regular season game yet this season. His buddy on the offensive line, Chris Kuper, missed all of last week’s practice with a knee/ankle injury. Woodyard sat out yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury.
The big concern has been getting the offensive line healthy. The team was without Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady for all of training camp. Just as Clady came back, Harris has battled the injury bug and Chris Kuper jumped in the unfortunate bandwagon since.
This plague that has hit the Broncos offensive line has impacted the Broncos running game, particularly in goal line situations. It took them three times to get into the endzone from the one-yard line on two different occasions yesterday. Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno finally forced their way in for six as the Seahawks defense grew weary. Overall, the Broncos rushed for 1.7 yards per carry.
The offensive line did a much better job protecting Kyle Orton. He wasn’t hurried as much as he was in Jacksonville, and they only gave up one sack. As the league has noticed, when Orton has time, he can make the pass from within the pocket.
All of Denver’s offense starts and ends with the offensive line. While it’s not the most glamorous position in sports, it’s certainly a top priority for any football team.
As the training room inevitably fills and empties throughout the season, all eyes should be keenly focused on the offensive linemen. Without them, there’s no fuel to the Broncos fire.
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