DENVER -- Their left tackle is on injured reserve, their right tackle left Sunday’s game with a knee injury, their center never started an NFL game at the position before the season opener. And yet the only quarterback in the league who has been sacked fewer times than the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning over the season's first six games is rookie Mike Glennon.
And Glennon has played in just two games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.
But the Broncos do have some concerns in the offensive front as they begin to prepare for their next game against the Indianapolis Colts. With Ryan Clady (foot) already on injured reserve and center Manny Ramirez still working through the position’s nuances -- he and Manning didn’t connect on two snaps Sunday, both bobbles were recovered by the Jaguars -- the Broncos will now hope for the best when it comes to right tackle Orlando Franklin.
Franklin suffered a left knee injury with 12:16 remaining in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno. Franklin was briefly examined on the Broncos bench by team doctors and then taken to the locker room and did not return to the game.
Franklin then left the stadium Sunday evening using crutches and is scheduled for an MRI Monday morning.
“Obviously we have our fingers crossed on Orlando,’’ Manning said.
Franklin has started every game since he was a second-round pick n the 2011 draft -- 41 consecutive games including three career postseason games and Sunday’s start. In his absence, and with tackle Winston Justice having been a inactive for the game, the Broncos moved right guard Louis Vasquez to Franklin’s right tackle spot after the injury and put Chris Kuper in at right guard.8
Vasquez has started all 60 of his career NFL games at guard and isn’t believed to have played tackle in any of his games at Texas Tech. He has worked sparingly at tackle during Broncos’ practices as the Broncos have tried to cross-train their linemen to at least be able to get through a game in a new spot. Manning said, however, it likely influenced how offensive coordinator Adam Gase may have called plays in the second half as well as the audibles Manning used.
For his part Kuper is still working to come back from multiple ankle surgeries as well as a severe infection in the joint this past offseason. He was limping noticeably following the game.
So it’s possible the Broncos work Justice at right tackle this week -- he was a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles and Colts at the position -- to allow Vasquez to move back to right guard.
“It was a pretty good example of versatility,’’ Manning said. “ … I know [Kuper] has been hungry to get out there, he’s worked real hard to get healthy and then pretty good versatility with [Vasquez] going to right tackle, I’m not even sure he’s ever played tackle.’’
"Our offensive line coach Dave Magazu does a terrific job of rotating guys, we do that a lot during training camp and even during the season,'' Broncos coach John Fox said. " ... We'll see with Orlando.''