Ryan Lilja's knowledge of the Denver Broncos' offensive scheme, and his five years as Peyton Manning's teammate with the Indianapolis Colts weren't enough to outweigh concerns over the 31-year-old's long-term ability to stay healthy.
Lilja was released Saturday as part of the Broncos collection of moves to get their roster to 53 players before the league-imposed deadline. Lilja said during training camp he had considered himself largely retired when the Broncos came calling after Dan Koppen went on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
Lilja had also had knee and toe surgeries early in the offseason. After initially, and briefly, working his way up into the No. 2 center spot, Lilja then missed significant practice time because of his knee.
As a result Steve Vallos, the center the Broncos signed just before they reached out to Lilja, got those practice and game snaps. And in the end it was Vallos who earned the job.
"I just think it was a combination of everything," said Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway. "Health was a concern and also when you get to the 53, you have to have guys who are going to be able to practice during the week. And Vallos came in and did a tremendous job too, Steve won that job, I think he played well enough to win it."