Manning has a Patchwork Pocket of Protection

Posted 9 months ago

By Robert Lovell

Peyton-Manning-Denver-BroncENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Peyton Manning is about to enter a season of Super Bowl expectations behind an offensive line that’s full of questions, surgical scars, fresh faces and, yes, promise.

Three centers with a combined 18 career starts at the position are vying for the starting job now that J.D. Walton and Dan Koppen are out, and the leading candidate, Manny Ramirez, has none of those starts, although he was Denver’s starting right guard for most of last season.

Ryan Lilja and Steve Vallos have a little more experience in the middle but are also guards by trade and provide depth and flexibility more than anything.

Lilja played guard for six seasons with Manning in Indianapolis and then converted to center in Kansas City last year, then retired after the Chiefs went 2-14.