Without Chris Kuper, Broncos See Highs and Lows From O-Line


Knowshon Moreno (27) jumps over Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) during the third quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 26-13. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

It was the Tweet heard round Broncos’ Country Thursday morning.

"G Chris Kuper as been downgraded to questionable for tonight’s game with an ankle injury. He was previously listed as probable. – Denver Broncos (Twitter)"

As it turned out, Manny Ramirez filled in for Kuper at right guard.

“He had a little bit of soft tissue work during the week,” John Fox said of Kuper after the game. “I think he broke down some scar tissue in his ankle. It was a little bit sore for him. In the short week, I think maybe if it was a Sunday game we were talking about rather than a Thursday night game, he could have been ready. We expect him to improve moving forward.”

Kuper’s absence was definitely felt Thursday night as Peyton Manning was sacked three times in the first half of the Broncos’ 26-13 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Mike Mitchell, Lamaar Houston, and Desmond Bryant all got their mitts on the guy who threw completion No. 5,000 the same night. Throw in an extra quarterback hit, six tackles for a loss, and a short handed interception that was effected by pressure from the defensive line, and Manning didn’t have one of his best nights simply because of protection breakdowns.

Luckily the second half was a different story for the storied quarterback. He finished 26-for-36 (72.2%) for 310 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The offensive line also helped Knowshon Moreno rush for 119 yards on 32 carries. Perhaps the most overlooked play was when center Dan Koppen gave Moreno a healthy shove into the end zone when the Broncos were at the 1-yard line in the third quarter. Just like that, all Raider hope was lost as it became a 23-7 ball game.

Kuper will likely be back in time for the Broncos next game against the Baltimore Ravens.

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