Denver's offensive line is hardly recognizable these days.
This offseason, left guard Orlando Franklin left in free agency, signing with San Diego. Center Will Montgomery also left in free agency, signing with Chicago. Right guard Manny Ramirez was traded to Detroit during the draft in a move that helped Denver select pass-rusher Shane Ray.
And perhaps most devastating, tackle Ryan Clady tore his ACL in May and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season before it started.
That leaves Denver with just one* returning starter — Louis Vasquez — on the offensive line entering the 2015 season. The situation has some concerned that the Broncos' front five will struggle this season, at least early on.
C.J. Anderson, the team's starting running back, is not among the concerned.
"Not at all," Anderson said during a phone interview with MHR after speaking to high school athletes at a Football University Denver Camp for Gatorade's Beat the Heat program Friday evening.
"I see those guys work every day, they work hard," he said. "They know what we're trying to do."
Anderson said the team's young linemen, rookie tackle Ty Sambrailo and fourth-year center Gino Gradkowski among them, will have to mature quickly. Going up against elite defenders in practice should speed up their growth.
"Our tackles are blocking Von (Miller) and D(eMarcus) Ware, two of the top pass-rushers in the game today, so they're going to continue to keep improving."
And when it comes to run-blocking, Anderson said the running backs have a responsibility to make the offensive line look good.
"At the end of the day, I promise, no matter who's in the backfield, we'll make the right cut," Anderson said last week after OTAs. "They (the offensive line) will do their job, blocking people off the line, but it's our job to make the play good by making the right cut."
"I promise you we'll do that, no matter who the back is," Anderson added. "We'll make the right cut to make sure the o-line is effective.
While Anderson is not concerned about the team's offensive line, he is concerned about young athletes staying hydrated.
"You hear a lot of stories in the league where guys are not hydrated, or they think they are hydrated and they're cramping up, or not recovering properly," Anderson said. "I'm educating kids about being hydrated because you don't want to miss a game-changing play by being on the sideline."
Anderson's not just a mouthpiece for Gatorade — he walks the talk.
Anderson said that he, Miller, Ware and fellow running backs Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman carry gallon-sized bottles of fluids around the locker room.
"We all try to drink about a gallon to a gallon and a half a day. I continuously go to the bathroom so I can perform at a high level."
Anderson and his teammates are world class athletes, but it's just as important for young athletes, and even non-athletes, to stay properly hydrated.
"You have to put the correct amount of fluids inside yourself. You need to make sure you have enough fluids so you can perform at a high level. No matter what you're doing — broadcasting, sitting behind a desk, flipping burgers, whatever — because at the end of the day, if you aren't hydrated, you'll have health problems."
Water is, of course, the best way to hydrate. But electrolytes make Gatorade a good complement to water (Glacier Freeze is Anderson's favorite flavor, by the way).
Bryan Snyder, Denver's director of team nutrition, spoke at Friday's Beat the Heat camp with Anderson, and he echoed the Pro Bowl running back's message.
"You can have the best athletes in the world do everything right, and then not be hydrated, and not be fueled up properly, and not recover, and it's a big impact on their performance. We have guys that don't hydrate properly, they start cramping up, and we lose them for a quarter, or the rest of the game, and it impacts the team.
"On the flip side of that, if you do everything right — recover after workouts, stay hydrated, eat the right things before the game — that puts you ahead, and it puts you at an extreme advantage."
Snyder said the amount of fluids a person should drink in a day depends on size and sweat loss, but as a general rule, he recommended about six to eight 16 ounce bottles of water a day for the average Joe.
Anderson knows how to stay hydrated, and it helped him perform at a high level last season.
Anderson took over as Denver's starter midway through last season and gained 1,173 yards from scrimmage and scored 10 total touchdowns. Entering training camp as the team's starter, Anderson has one goal in mind.
"Just to make plays. Every time I get on the field I just try to make plays to help my team win. That's all I can do — that's all they ask me to do. When my number's called, make sure I'm ready to go."
*Vasquez finished the season as a tackle last season, but he is returning as a guard. So technically two Week 1 starters are returning from last season — Vasquez at guard and Chris Clark at tackle.