DENVER (CBS4) – In the words of Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, losing Ryan Clady, the anchor of the offensive line, for the season to a torn ACL is devastating. But life goes on, and according to former Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, it’s all just part of the game.
“It’s the most unfortunate part of the game, and you know, thoughts and prayers out to Ryan Clady,” McCaffrey said. “They put so much time and effort into it. I feel bad for Gary Kubiak and (offensive coordinator) Rick Dennison and the rest of the team. Ryan Clady is an impact player.”
McCaffrey said that John Elway believes when he puts rosters together, two of the most important elements of the offense are passing the football and protecting the quarterback.
“And you lost your best offensive lineman, your left tackle, the security blanket for Peyton Manning,” he said. “They’re going to rotate a bunch of guys in there and try to put the best five linemen out onto the field. But it’s hard to replace a guy like Ryan Clady who plays at a Pro Bowl level, who was really primed to have a great season.”
The Broncos have already made some adjustments. Right off of the bat they named rookie Ty Sambrailo the starter as Clady’s replacement. That could change, but for now Sambrailo will get the reps in practice. They also signed former Bronco Ryan Harris who has plenty of experience in the zone blocking scheme.
But when it’s all said and done it’s still not clear if they will go with the experience in Harris or stick with the rookie in Sambrailo.
“Ty is in there right now to give them a chance. They know what Chris Clark can do; they’re going to see what Ty can do. They’re going to rotate guys in there at right tackle, at left tackle. I think (Louis) Vasquez is pretty much set at guard,” McCaffrey said. “They’re going to let the best player surface throughout, not just the OTAs, but through training camp and the preseason games.
“It’s open. Someone has a chance to win their spot. It’s tough for a rookie. I’ve heard great things about Ty. They say he’s a quick learner, looks pretty mobile for a big guy.”
McCaffrey said they should figure it out by the start of the season — or they can still make adjustments five games into the season like they did last year.
“They’re going to do the best with what they have; that’s all you can do.”
Demaryius Thomas is staying home for the summer. He decided not to participate in OTAs or any of the offseason workouts. John Elway has already expressed his disappointment about Thomas’ decision, but McCaffrey says it comes down to being a business decision and has to be expected with some players.
“You don’t want to get your feelings involved. Everybody understands that it’s a business decision. Gary Kubiak would love him in, Peyton Manning would love him in, his teammates would love him in,” he said. “It’s a new offense, but at the same time he is probably thinking, ‘Hey, a couple of guys have gone down with ACLs, I’m going to take as many practices off as I can and negotiate my contract. And when I show up, I will be ready to play.’ I think that is probably where he is coming from.”
That said, McCaffrey said he thinks “Broncos fans and everybody on the team would love Thomas to hurry up and make the decision and get into camp.”
McCaffrey said if there are any hard feelings against Thomas right now they will go away with time.
“They go away. They do. When he is not here, he is not here. You work with who you have and other guys have opportunities to show what they can do. If you are a receiver and getting more reps and playing time maybe you’ll earn a spot on the team because of his absence. But as soon as he reports he is on the team and it’s time to go to work.”
– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com