I can only relate to college and professional football as a fan, but I consider myself fortunate that I was able to play football through my high school years. My “tackle football career” was a short eight years on the offensive line. Offensive lineman don’t get the kudos the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers do, but anyone who watches football on a consistent basis knows the five individuals who make up the offensive line are an integral part of any offensive game plan. Unfortunately, these massive NFL men don’t make the highlight reel for their superb play, but rather, they are pointed out when they miss a block that results in a loss of yards, whether it is a busted running play or a quarterback sack. While fans enjoy celebrating the long runs and passes or find themselves scratching their heads when a play doesn’t result in positive yards, the offensive linemen is in the trenches battling to not only defeat the man in front of them, but to execute their assignment as 1/11th of the offensive machine for which they are a part. Realizing the importance of the offensive line, over the next few weeks, I am going to recognize some of the Broncos’ offensive linemen.
Chris Kuper was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 5th round of the 2006 NFL Draft and became a starting guard in 2007 when Chris Meyers was moved to center; replacing Tom Nalen due to injury.
Prior to becoming a professional football player, Chris attended A.J. Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska. During his time there, he played on both sides of the ball and was recognized as the conference’s Most Valuable Lineman his senior year. One year before graduating, Chris helped the Lynx reach the state championship.
After high school, Chris left Alaska and headed to the University of North Dakota where he became a three-year starter and earned All-America honors from the Associated Press his final two seasons. While attending UND, Kuper had a total of 27 starts his junior and senior seasons; being recognized as the Most Valuable Lineman in the North Central Conference his senior year. Chris’s solid play during his final season in North Dakota also put him in contention for the Gene Upshaw Award, which is given to the best offensive or defensive lineman in Division II.
After having played five years in the NFL, Chris has proven to be a solid, consistent offensive lineman. In 42 starts for the Denver Broncos, Chris has allowed only six sacks and was part of the offensive line in 2008 that set a team record by only allowing twelve sacks. That team record also tied the NFL record for fewest sacks allowed during a season. During that campaign, despite having seven running backs on injured reserve, the Bronco offensive unit ranked third in rushing yards per attempt (4.8). In addition to stellar rushing statistics, the 2008 Bronco offense performed well, overall. The unit was second in the league and first in the AFC in both yards per game (395.8) and yards per play (6.2). According to Stats Inc., Chris Kuper was the only starting guard in the NFL to not allow a sack during the 2008 season.
Thanks to the Broncos signing Chris Kuper to a six year deal in 2010, Bronco fans can be assured Kuper’s leadership (offensive co-captain in 2010 along with Kyle Orton and Daniel Graham), along with his solid play, will not only anchor the offensive line unit, but the entire team in 2011 and beyond.
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