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Barring a catastrophe, Garett Bolles will be the Broncos’ opening day starter at left tackle

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It’s only the third day of training camp, but the battle between veteran Ty Sambrailo and rookie Garett Bolles at the left tackle position is almost over.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot of training camp left to go for the Denver Broncos, who had their third day of activities early on this morning through the afternoon. Position battles, especially at the quarterback position, will continue to receive more consideration and scrutiny over the next few days. Many battles will come right down to the wire and need significant evaluation from performances in preseason games to make a final decision. However, there is one position battle that already seems to be coming to a close.

According to various sources, first-round pick Garett Bolles seems to have a decisive upper hand against third-year pro Ty Sambrailo at the left tackle position and has already earned first-team reps in training camp.

The Broncos were high on Sambrailo when he was drafted in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but numerous injuries have derailed the promise he showed during his career at Colorado State. In his first two years with the team, Sambrailo has only seen action in only thirteen games, including seven starts.

Through the course of OTA’s and training camp to date, he has struggled on the field, especially in pass protection where he continues to be beaten like a rented mule routinely in practice. It’s evident that his continues to be plagued from issues surrounding his torn labrum back in November of 2015. That type of injury has a significant impact on leverage, strength and arm extension — all of which play an integral role for any offensive lineman’s ability to compete with efficacy on the gridiron.

It is doubtful that Sambrailo will ever return to the promise he had back when he was drafted. When the dust is settled, he will join the lengthy list of second-day busts selected by John Elway and his scouting staff. But with every unfortunate situation, there is a silver lining. With Sambrailo struggling, the doors of opportunity have blown open for Bolles — and it’s a virtual certainty that he isn’t going to let them shut on him any time soon.

Truth be told, it is hard to envision a scenario where Bolles could play any worse than Sambrailo has early on in his career. There’s an old saying that goes, “If you’re going to play like a rookie, you might as well play the rookie.” In this case, there is no doubt it’s in the Broncos’ best interest to allow their new shiny toy and first-round pick Bolles to see as many reps as possible, which will help him become better prepared for the wars to come this regular season.

Without question Bolles has the athleticism and demeanor to be a successful tackle in the league. Most certainly, there will be growing pains for him. There is and always have been for young players entering the league. Sure, he will miss a few blocks and he will blow a few assignments, but his determination and will to become great will allow him to learn from those mistakes.

Bolles’ potential is through the roof, and it’s entirely possible that he could surprise and be an impact player from day one. It wouldn’t be unprecedented, as Broncos Country has been witness to a situation like this before. Back in 2008, the team selected high-profile offensive tackle Ryan Clady out of Boise State in the first-round of the NFL Draft. Many thought he was too raw to make an impact as a rookie, but he did.

Clady started sixteen games as a rookie and went on to have four Pro-Bowl and two All-Pro seasons with the team. Here is to hoping that Bolles’ career arc will be much similar and that he will be able to provide the spark the team desperately needs on the offensive line in 2017.