Broncos center Matt Paradis now the mainstay on the O-line
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) To his left, Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis will see some new faces. To his right, more new faces. Even his quarterback will be different.
Those are a lot of changes for a player who's started only one season and now is the mainstay on the offensive line.
''It feels weird,'' Paradis said. ''It's weird being the vet.''
So let the bonding begin promptly. Paradis and the offensive line have already gone to a Colorado Rockies baseball game with quarterback Mark Sanchez, who's stepping in for a retired Peyton Manning and a departed Brock Osweiler. Those are just the sort of chemistry-building excursions necessary to fortify a reshuffled line.
''But we're ahead of where you'd think we would be,'' Paradis said.
Ever so quietly, Paradis had a productive year for the Super Bowl champion Broncos as he took every offensive snap. What's more, he allowed only one sack and drew just one penalty for a false start.
Given all the attrition and additions in the offseason, the line heading into training camp may look something like this: Russell Okung at left tackle, Ty Sambrailo at left guard, Paradis under center, Max Garcia at right guard - he started a handful of games at guard last season - and Donald Stephenson at right tackle.
That figures to be a lot of protection for Sanchez, Trevor Siemian or rookie Paxton Lynch.
Although, it's going to take some getting used to the cadence of someone other than Manning.
''I mean, obviously, Peyton was one of the best to ever play the game,'' said the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Paradis, who was a sixth-round pick in 2014 out of Boise State. ''So there are differences. There are differences between every quarterback. There's nothing too special for us. We're snapping and blocking our assignments either way.''
Paradis is a laid-back lineman. Case in point: While some of the Broncos celebrated the Super Bowl by making the rounds of talk shows - and others earned spots in dancing competitions (Von Miller) - Paradis said his most elaborate plan was returning to his hometown of Council, Idaho, to shake some hands.
That's simply his style.
''He's quiet, a quiet leader,'' offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said in January.
He's drawn some comparisons to longtime Broncos center and Ring of Famer Tom Nalen, who snapped it to Hall of Fame QB turned team executive John Elway.
''Tommy was an exceptional football player, having coached him,'' Dennison said. ''(Paradis) has got a long way to go to step into those shoes, but he has some of those traits. We're hoping that he'll keep progressing.''
Around this time a year ago, Denver's O-line suffered a blow when Ryan Clady tore his ACL in offseason training activities. During the season, Sambrailo hurt his shoulder. The Broncos searched all season for some consistency on the offensive line.
''I'm very excited about this group we've got. A lot of smart guys, athletic guys,'' said Paradis, who played for the league's rookie minimum salary of $435,000 last year and also was the top earner ($391,648) through the league's performance-based pay program. ''Guys who are going to work hard. It's hard to give you an exact (example) how better we're going to be, but I think we will be better.''
Sanchez certainly enjoys the vibe with his new team.
''These guys are fun to be around and they love football, that's for sure,'' said Sanchez, who took the linemen to a Rockies game in late April. ''Everybody really knows what to do, so just fall in line and follow the guys around you. That's encouraging.''
This is a team that was credited with 411 rushes in the regular season and that threw it another 606 times. Expect even more running plays this season, especially with the return of C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, along with the arrival of rookie Devontae Booker.
''We're going to run the ball,'' Paradis said. ''That's our focus.''
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