Ramirez says center job still his -- again

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There was a time when Manny Ramirez played on an NFL team that played 16 times in a regular season and lost 16 times in a regular season.

The 2008 Detroit Lions went 0-16, the only team to hang the doughnut under the W column since the league went to a 16-game season in 1978. So, some guys talk about vocational adversity in the NFL and other guys, guys like Ramirez, have traveled one of the bumpier roads in football.

"I just try to keep my head down, work my butt off and be ready to go," Ramirez said. "It's gotten me this far so I like to stick to that."

And maybe that's why Ramirez doesn't get flustered when folks keep asking him if he is the Denver Broncos' starting center. Ramirez spent most of the offseason a year ago watching the Broncos sign any and all centers to have "options" at the position.

Then when those centers were injured -- i.e. J.D. Walton, Dan Koppen and Ryan Lilja -- the Broncos then said Ramirez was really the guy all along. Then the Broncos went out and scored a league-record 606 points with Ramirez handling all of the things a center has to handle in an offense with Peyton Manning at quarterback.

And just about the time folks may have been ready to move on to other questions about other guys, Ramirez sailed a snap wide of Manning on the Broncos' first offensive play of Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seattle Seahawks defense went on to overpower the Broncos' offense in a 35-point win and the wheel started to spin again.

The Broncos have shuffled things a bit up front with Orlando Franklin moving to left guard from right tackle.

They were active in free agency in their pursuit of, yes, a center. They looked at several veterans before signing Will Montgomery. There was some thought inside their complex that Montgomery was signed with the intention he could be the team's starting center. Montgomery started every game in the previous three seasons.

But as the Broncos have gone through their offseason work thus far -- including this week's mandatory minicamp -- Ramirez is still the guy in the middle and Montgomery has worked largely with the second team. However, one of the big reasons the Broncos were so aggressive in signing guard Louis Vasquez in free agency last year was a feeling the Broncos have been susceptible at times, too many times, to stunting defensive linemen in the middle of the field.

Or right about the center's and guards' wheelhouse. But training camp will tell the rest of the tale. A three-day visit by the Houston Texans in August -- with that team's defensive front -- will be a measuring stick for the Broncos in their quest to find, as coach John Fox has put it, "the best five'' up front.

But right now Ramirez remains the starter in the middle.

"When I'm in there my approach has always been it's my job to lose," Ramirez said. " … That's how you go, that's the approach."