ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Broncos guard Max Garcia is moving from the left side of the O-line to the right to accommodate free agent newcomer Ron Leary, one of several additions GM John Elway made to toughen up his team in the trenches.
“I’ve been more comfortable on the left side because that’s where I’ve been pretty much my entire career in Dallas,” said Leary, who signed with Denver on the first day of free agency.
Garcia started all 16 games at left guard last season and played every snap but told new coach Vance Joseph and offensive line coach Jeff Davidson that he’d gladly move over.
“I don’t mind it. I don’t mind it at all. Really, I’m a team player. That’s really what it boils down to,” Garcia said. “I just see it as a part of the game. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m not one of those guys that is going to be playing at a set position my entire career because I haven’t done it yet. I started off at left tackle in college and then I moved to guard and moved to center. It really doesn’t matter to me.”
Plus, Garcia said, “I feel like I did better on the right side my rookie year” in 2015.
Garcia is one of the holdovers in Elway’s offseason makeover of the O-line.
In the first 24 hours of free agency, Elway plucked two nasty-streak players from two of the top offensive lines in the league. He signed former Cowboys guard Ron Leary for $35 million over four years and former Raiders tackle Menelik Watson for $18 million over three years.
“I think they’re great additions to the team,” Garcia said. “They bring a lot of toughness with how they played in the past and their rep that they’ve had in the league. You can’t really fake veteran leadership. That’s what they bring.”
Add in first-round draft pick Garett Bolles, a left tackle from Utah who was the 20th overall pick in the draft, and the Broncos have the makings of a new attitude on offense.
“I talked to him a couple days after we drafted him just to congratulate him and welcome him to the group,” Leary said. “He’s 25, so he’s a grown man. He talks like a grown man; he approaches the game like a grown man. He wants to play ball. He loves the game. He’s really physical. I know that’s what John and Vance were trying to do with the O-line. I think he fits perfectly with that.”
Garcia figures he can add some nastiness, too, because the gap blocking scheme that the new offensive coaching staff is installing really suits his skills.
“I’m going to be able to prosper a little bit more and just be able to use my physicality a little bit more,” Garcia said Tuesday. “We’ll be able to play a more vertical game instead of playing horizontally.”
The O-line in particular and the offense as a whole took a lot of heat last year because the Broncos’ defense was just as good in many respects as the unit that led them to a win in Super Bowl 50.
“It’s been one of those undertones … we have to do our job,” Garcia said. “We have to carry our own weight and pretty much make a name for ourselves. When the game is on the line, we want to control that. We don’t want to just give it up to the defense. It’s been like that in the past, but we definitely want to change that mentality and that attitude.”
The anchor of the line is center Matt Paradis, who is recuperating from double hip surgery and won’t be back in action until training camp.
“He’s a tough guy. He loves to battle,” Garcia said. “It’s killing him not being able to be out on the field or in the weight room with us and doing all the lifts that we do. I know it’s hurting him. I know once he gets back, we’re going to be rolling. The mental side of the playbook, he’s got it locked down already. When he gets back up there, we’ll be moving in full stride.”
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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