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OL reserves shine for Denver in Dallas rout

Denver’s OL came into the game banged up, but the backups held up admirably in relief in one of the best team wins of the season

DENVER BRONCOS VS DALLAS COWBOYS, NFL Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Garett Bolles was out for the game, dealing with an ankle injury. Netane Muti was out on the COVID list. Bobby Massie, Graham Glasgow, and Dalton Risner all left the game at some point, leaving Denver with three backups in the offensive line for the second half.

Yet, that didn’t stop the Broncos from closing the game out and running all over Dallas. They chunked out 96 yards on the ground in the second half. Calvin Anderson played 100% of snaps in relief of Garett Bolles and Quinn Meinerz stepped in at right guard after Glasgow’s injury right before halftime.

They both performed admirably against Dallas, and Meinerz will be stepping into a full-time role moving forward. Let’s break both of them down against Dallas by the numbers and film.

Calvin Anderson

Calvin Anderson came into this game with less than 200 offensive snaps to his name. An undrafted free agent, he has been one of Mike Munchak’s pet projects in Denver and plays the role of “swing tackle.” He’s played at left and right tackle at various points for Denver, but was a college left tackle at Rice and Texas.

Run Blocking

Calvin Anderson absolutely road graded in the run game this week. His rugged style of play was a blast to watch, as he wasn’t afraid to put guys in the dirt. He was moving defenders and clearing out rushing lanes for pretty much the whole game, and some of his reps were just pure joy to watch.

One of his best traits has always been his aggressiveness as a blocker, and that certainly stood out in a big way on Sunday. I was pretty impressed with him in this area.

Pass Blocking

What surprised me the most was Anderson’s prowess as a pass-blocker. Coming out as a prospect, he wasn’t universally beloved as a pass-blocker by pretty much any scouting report. Yet, he handled himself well against Randy Gregory last Sunday.

There were a few reps where Shurmur had Teddy boot out to the right to help Anderson out, but he played largely one-on-one here and handled it well. PFF charted Anderson with just a single pressure allowed.

He was pretty aggressive in his sets and I thought he did a good job with using his length and hands well to mitigate Gregory. His one pressure was, in my opinion, a poor set footwork wise and Gregory got just enough inside to rush Bridgewater’s process. All told, Calvin Anderson handled himself well in this area, and it should be a good sign moving forward if Bolles misses more time.

Quinn Meinerz

We all know about “The Gut” and his potential. Meinerz shot up out of nowhere after an excellent Senior Bowl showing, going from D3 sleeper to legitimate top-100 talent. Denver picked him up in the third round, and he’s played at each spot on the interior of the offensive line at some point.

Run Blocking

I’m not sure I need to write anything extensive on Meinerz’s ability in the run game. I’ll let you all watch the clip and you can get it from there.

I will say, Meinerz’ aggressiveness can get the better of him sometimes. There are a few reps where he’ll slip and end up on the ground. It seems more like a rookie mistake than a debilitating issue, but it’s something he’ll need to iron out as he earns more playing time. That’s my biggest hiccup in his run blocking right now.

Pass Blocking

Meinerz didn’t allow a single pressure, but they only passed on just 13 reps in the second half as the run game begun to wear down Dallas and they controlled the clock and lead. Most of those passes were short and quick passes. It’s tough to really say it was an “exemplary” day for him as such.

Yet, going back to his previous outings against the Jets and Ravens, we know he can pass protect pretty well. It’s not a concern of his that I have, it’s mainly just sample size this week.

All told, Denver should be pretty dang pleased with how their backups played in this game. Dallas doesn’t boast the fiercest defensive line Denver will play, but they are pretty aggressive and stunt heavily to create havoc up front. Anderson and Meinerz proved they could handle themselves in this one. Hopefully, this performance creates momentum for them moving forward.


How confident are you in the O-line if Anderson and Meinerz end up with a lot of playing time?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    So confident, I’m ready to road-grade people
    (210 votes)
  • 67%
    My "gut" tells me we’ll be in decent shape
    (484 votes)
  • 2%
    Not too Bolled over by the group
    (18 votes)
712 votes total Vote Now