Over the past several seasons, the offensive line has been a significant cause of concern for the Denver Broncos. Whether it was new faces in the line-up or a handful of injuries that forced young players to earn their stripes with a trial by fire, the lack of quality protection in the passing game and consistency in run blocking has been concerning to say the least.
In order to improve the unit’s play in 2018, John Elway swung an offseason trade acquiring long-time veteran Jared Veldheer to man down the franchise’s right tackle spot. If all goes as planned, Veldheer should prove to be a significant upgrade over 2017 free agent signing Menelik Watson. But that’s not saying much, when you consider the fact that his play last season was some of the worst in recent memory and reminiscent of the lowly performances former lineman turnstile and current Los Angeles Charger Michael Schofield set forth in his short-time here in the Mile High City.
But if the Broncos want to get back to domination in the offensive trenches, the cohesiveness and development of the team’s left side of the line — manned by offensive tackle Garret Bolles and veteran guard Ronald Leary will be of the utmost importance. Which is why Leary has taken a proactive approach in the mentoring of Bolles, specifically in regard to his communication on the field.
And while we are only a few days into camp, Leary has noticed demonstrable improvement from the promising second-year player over the course of the offseason. That’s a development that fans should be excited about. Bolles has all the potential in the world to develop into a high-caliber, franchise left tackle the team has been searching for since Ryan Clady’s career went on a downward trajectory several years ago. Without question, having the opportunity to learn from one of the better guards in the league should bode well for the former Utah Ute.
“Lots of improvement. Just being out there with him, I’m forcing him to talk more, because I’m a big communicator out there and that’s something I don’t think he did a lot of last year,” stated Leary. “I’m making him talk, even if I know what’s going on I still want him to say it, so I know that he knows it. He’s a great job with it so, and he’s going to continue to get better.”
Leary’s tutoring, diligence and dedication to improving Bolles’ craft is something the former first-round pick is highly appreciative of.
“Knowing that I have the coaches and the teammates around me, having No. 4 (QB Case Keenum) back there pushing us, and especially Ron right next to me, I’m grateful for him,” remarked Bolles. “He just continues to help me with the little things that I think are going to help me craft my game.”
I was so happy to see #Broncos starting 5 OL out there (hadn't seen them together before today) Bolles, Leary, Paradis, McGovern, Veldheer -- important to build as much chemistry as you can before start of the regular season! #Broncos #FanCamp @1043TheFan— Cecil Lammey (@CecilLammey) July 29, 2018
As of now, the Broncos’ offensive line has Bolles and Leary on the left side, veteran Matt Paradis at center and Connor McGovern and the aforementioned Veldheer on the right side. It’s far from solidified, but building chemistry and maintaining cohesiveness is at the forefront of the Broncos’ offensive plans for and a key cog in their recipe for success in on that side of the ball in 2018.
“Our goal is going to be to keep five guys together and build great chemistry with our O-line this year,” stated Head Coach Vance Joseph.
And as the long days of training camp go on, cross your fingers and hope for the best in respect to the team’s offensive line. A formidable trench game will undoubtedly help the Broncos achieve higher success rushing and throwing the ball this coming season. Moreover, it will likely be a deterministic aspect in regard to whether or not they make a push for the playoffs and AFC West crown.