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Broncos Need to Shake Up O-Line Before it's Too Late

The Denver Broncos are running out of time to course-correct upfront.

The Denver Broncos' offensive line has struggled this season, especially with getting things going on the ground. Javonte Williams running the ball has helped hide the O-line's issues with his ability to break through tackles and make something from nothing, but he's out for the rest of the season. 

The Broncos' starting O-line for this season wasn't their ideal unit as Billy Turner and Tom Compton both are dealing with injuries. Compton is on the PUP list, and Turner has been on the 53-man roster but inactive as he deals with a lingering knee injury. Turner was Denver's guy at right tackle, while Compton would have added competition to tackle and left guard. 

Then Calvin Anderson failed to win the job in training camp, leading Denver to turn to Cam Fleming, who has been solid throughout four games. Has his play been great? Not at all, but it could be a lot worse. 

Fleming is very much a bandaid, and an upgrade doesn't seem to be coming anytime soon. Meanwhile, Turner's timetable is still very much in the air, and it'd be a surprise to see Compton play with a back injury this season. 

However, the Broncos need to shake up the offensive line. But what options are available to the team? 

Well, the unit that has struggled the most is the interior O-line. Of course, losing right guard Quinn Meinerz early in the first game hasn't helped their problems, but his replacement, Graham Glasgow, hasn't been the biggest issue on the interior. 

That would be center Lloyd Cushenberry III, who is constantly pushed into the backfield in the run or pass game. He doesn't have the mobility to pull outside and consistently whiffs when climbing to the second level. 

Left guard Dalton Risner has also been a liability, and he was reportedly nearly traded during the draft, and the Broncos kept that option open until injuries took their toll in training camp. 

So, again, what should the shakeup consist of? 

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The Broncos have a short week before the Indianapolis Colts arrive for a throwdown on Thursday Night Football. But the Broncos won't play again until Monday Night Football on October 17. So getting by the Colts before making the shake-up would be the best path forward. 

The timing of the shakeup coincides with when Meinerz should return to the starting lineup and be ready to go. With him back at right guard, other options open up elsewhere. The Broncos don't need to revamp the unit completely and would, of course, want to limit the number of moving pieces. 

With Meinerz back at right guard, the other move would be Glasgow to center or left guard. Center would be the better option with how much of a liability Cushenberry has been. While Glasgow hasn't been great, and it has been a long time since he played center, he has been better than Cushenberry and is more reliable. 

It's doubtful the Broncos would have to give Glasgow the same amount of help as they do with Cushenberry. Plus, limiting the space Glasgow has to work in should also benefit his play. While he has shown issues moving, they haven't been to the same level. 

The other option would be turning to the rookie center Luke Wattenberg, but that would be a risk. The rookie clearly had a lot of work to do from preseason before being ready. However, in limited reps in camp and preseason, Glasgow looked competent and ready to step in. 

There is also a call for Netane Muti to step into the starting lineup, but that would be a significant risk unless he has dramatically improved as a pass protector. That was always the biggest issue, but he also has issues moving on tape. This scheme asks for a lot of movement from its offensive linemen. 

So while Risner shouldn't be replaced with Muti yet, the leash should be shortened. The Broncos would have three games after Week 5 to try out the new-look O-line before their bye week, giving the unit time to see how it gels. Then, if Risner is still an issue or Glasgow falters, Denver could shake up the unit again during the bye week. 

The Broncos don't want to make huge shifts, so making just one at center with Meienrz returning at right guard is a small shake-up, especially doing so with a veteran like Glasgow. It'd be a slight adjustment to try and correct a significant issue and then have time to see if it works. 

Denver losing Williams will make the O-line look even worse. The Broncos have to figure something out with the unit because the center who was handed the job is the weakest link, and they can't survive the season with the issues they have from that spot. 

Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel.

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