Unexpectedly, the center position has been the center of attention so far in Denver Broncos training camp.
Sure, the Broncos have Peyton Manning and added all-star wide receiver Wes Welker this offseason, but Manning can’t toss the ball to Welker without someone first snapping him the pigskin.
Rewind to last season and J.D. Walton was the starting center in the Mile High City, his third season in the role. But in Week Four, Walton’s ankle was broken, forcing him to miss the rest of the year.
Veteran Dan Koppen was signed and he played valiantly at center, helping hold together an offensive line that was without its most experienced player in Chris Kuper.
With Walton still on the mend – reports vary, saying he won’t return until at least October, maybe miss the entire season – Koppen was in line to anchor the o-line, until he tore an ACL in practice Sunday.
That pushed career backup Manny Ramirez into the starting spot at center, and fumbled snaps have already haunted he and Manning in their few days of practice together.
So, the Broncos have decided to pursue another veteran in Ryan Lilja, according to Fox Sports. Lilja is 31 and currently retired, playing from 2010-2012 with the Kansas City Chiefs and from 2004-2009 with the Indianapolis Colts and Manning. Lilja was mostly a guard throughout his nine-year career, but he played a bit of center for the Chiefs last season.
Simply, Denver needs offensive linemen and Lilja would be a great pickup due to his experience in the league and with Manning.
If they can’t lure him to the Mile High City, the Broncos may be forced to have Ramirez as their starting center all season.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow Rich on twitter or facebook for all your Denver Broncos news and opinion .