October 24, 2011; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey (94) and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (96) stop Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) near the line of scrimmage in the first quarter of their game against the at EverBank Field. (Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports)

New Denver Broncos Louis Vasquez and Terrance Knighton

Louis Vasquez (65) on the sidelines during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Qualcomm Stadium in 2012. Vasquez opted to leave San Diego and join the Broncos on March 12, 2013. (Mandatory Credit: Jody Gomez-USA TODAY Sports)

My football playing career was a mere nine-years long (from 4th grade to 12th grade), and every year I was on the offensive and defensive line. As I got older, I learned that the offensive and defensive linemen never received the public attention or affection that the “skill players” did. After a Friday night football game, the articles the next day rarely mentioned anyone from the trenches, but the statistics of the quarterbacks, running-backs, and wide receivers seemed to be the foundation of the articles.

It was evident this last week with the flurry of free-agent movement in the NFL that over time this has not changed.  Case in point – the Wes Welker signing verses the Louis Vasquez signing. Both players obviously will make a tremendous impact for the Broncos but Welker received the majority of attention. Unfortunately, this is the sports culture we have created over time, but this week I will buck the trend and give the new Broncos’ linemen the attention they deserve. Continue reading for the player profiles (courtesy www.denverbroncos.com) of the new Bronco players that will earn their money down in the trenches.

Louis Vasquez (6-5, 335 pounds) is a fifth-year player who started all 54 regular-season games played for the San Diego Chargers during his first four NFL seasons.  According to STATS Inc., he has allowed just 11 sacks and one penalty during his career while playing for an offense that ranked fourth in the league in points per game (25.8) during that span.  He opened all 16 games for the Chargers in 2012 as one of only two San Diego offensive linemen to start every contest.  From 2010-11, Vasquez solidified an offensive line that helped the team rank third in the NFL in total offense (394.3 yards per game).  Selected by the Chargers in the third round (78th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft from Texas Tech University, Vasquez started 14 games during his first professional season and was named to the PFW/PFWA All-Rookie Team.  Louis (pronounced LEW-iss) Vasquez attended Corsicana (Texas) High School and was born on April 11, 1987.

Terrance Knighton (6-3, 330 pounds) is a fifth-year player who started 50-of-61 regular-season games with the Jacksonville Jaguars and totaled 259 defensive stops (150 solo), 21 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks (48 yards), one interception (-3 yards), nine passes defended and three forced fumbles.  Playing all 16 games in 2012 for the third time in his four professional seasons, Knighton ranked second on the Jaguars with 17 quarterback pressures and tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles.  He started the first 50 games of his career from 2009-12 while missing just one game due to injury during that span.  Selected by Jacksonville in the third round (72nd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, Knighton opened all 16 games during his first season and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team by PFW/PFWA and Sporting News.  A four-year letterman at Temple University, he became the school’s first player to earn first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors following his senior season.  Knighton, who played tight end and defensive line at Windsor (Conn.) High School, was born on July 4, 1986, in Hartford, Conn. 

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