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Mile High Monday: Koppen Signing Stabilizes the Broncos O-Line


December 2, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos center Dan Koppen (67) hands the ball off to quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. (Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)

Dan Koppen is back in the fold in the Mile High City.

The center who played so well in 2012 after being thrust into the starting lineup will once again be the starter when the regular season kicks off on September 5th.

News that J.D. Walton recently had another surgery on his ankle left the Denver Broncos with a big hole in the middle of their offensive line. Denver moved quickly to address it and re-signed Koppen to a one year deal worth the veteran minimum of $940,000.

Now the line will look very similar to the group who started most of last season and played very well together.

Right tackle Orlando Franklin and left tackle Ryan Clady (once his contract issues are cleared up) will be anchoring the edges, and Zane Beadles will be back at left guard after a solid 2012 season.

Clady is entering his sixth season in the league and already has three Pro Bowls under his belt. He’s started every game the Broncos have played since he was drafted in 2008 and he’s currently in negotiations with the team on a long-term deal.

Franklin has also started every game played since he was drafted. The University of Miami product joined the club in 2011 and has emerged as a force on the right side.

Beadles was drafted in 2010 along with Walton and has started 46 regular season games, most of them at left guard, over his first 3 seasons.

The new face on the o-line will be ex-Charger Louis Vasquez at right guard. Vasquez was one of the prized free agents Denver signed during an aggressive offseason and should be a big upgrade in the middle. He started all 54 games he played during his time in San Diego and should be entering the prime of his career since 2013 will mark his fifth season in the NFL.

This is all great news for the Broncos. The offensive line is one of the most important groups on the football field. It a team can’t control the trenches they aren’t going to have much success offensively, and in the modern day NFL the offense has to be able to score points in bunches. It all starts and ends up front.

Continuity and familiarity is important at every position group, but if the offensive linemen trust each other and have big-game experience together the odds of success for the entire offense increases dramatically.

There’s no doubt that the Denver offense is primed for a big season, and shoring up the offensive line with a proven and familiar face is going to give them even more of an advantage. That is a scary proposition for the Broncos’ opponents.

Now all that’s left on the offensive side of the ball is to get Clady locked up. Then it’s full steam ahead in 2013.

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