ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It’s one thing to block for a quarterback. It’s quite another when that quarterback is Peyton Manning, the NFL version of a national treasure.
As soon as the Broncos signed Manning in the offseason, the stakes for the Denver offensive linemen rose considerably. For sure, nobody wants to be the guy who gives up a sack, and in this case, nobody wants to be the guy who gives up the hit that could do serious damage to their quarterback’s surgically repaired neck.
"I don’t know if you can say it’s added pressure," offensive line coach Dave Magazu said. "I think they respect the fact of who we have back there. If their job is to protect you as a quarterback back there, I believe they would put forth their best effort."
So far, all is going well for Manning and his new line.
Through nine games, the Broncos (6-3) have allowed only 11 sacks -- tied with Houston for the least allowed and alone in the lead with the fewest number of sacks allowed per pass play. Before a protection mix-up in last week’s game against Carolina, when Charles Johnson went in untouched for a sack and strip against Manning, the Broncos had gone three games without allowing a quarterback sack.
Despite that hiccup, the linemen -- Orlando Franklin, Ryan Clady, Zane Beadles, Dan Koppen and Chris Kuper -- have done a solid job keeping Manning’s jersey clean and his body free of injuries.
"They have done a great job and certainly every quarterback appreciates it when you don’t get sacked," Manning said.
That the Bronco linemen are turning into stout pass protectors is a tribute to the versatility every holdover from the 2011 offense has shown as Denver has transformed itself from a running to a passing team.