Broncos agree to terms with OL Ryan Lilja

Ryan Lilja will step out of retirement to reunite with Peyton

The veteran offensive lineman agreed to terms Wednesday with the
Denver Broncos, who are desperate for a starting center following a
season ending knee injury to Dan Koppen.

Lilja, who turns 32 in October, has quite a bit of familiarity
with Manning after playing guard for six seasons in

And while Jeff Saturday was Manning’s customary center with the
Colts, he’s now working as an ESPN analyst.

The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Lilja made a similar switch last season
as he went from guard to center for Kansas City. After the season,
he announced his intention to retire.

But his retirement didn’t last all that long.

Koppen tore his left ACL in a drill last weekend after the
Broncos brought him back last month to fill in for J.D. Walton,
who’s had a setback in his return from ankle surgery.

Manny Ramirez, who took most of the snaps at center during
Denver’s offseason practices, was working with Manning the last few
days in training camp. He sent a few hikes high, but nothing out of
Manning’s reach.

The team also recently brought in Steve Vallos, a six-year
veteran who has played in Seattle, Cleveland, Philadelphia and

”We always hate losing people for the season, but we will march
on,” coach John Fox said.

These days, the offensive line responsible for keeping Manning
safe and secure is pretty banged up. All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady
has been limited at training camp due to a right shoulder. Tackle
Orlando Franklin (toe, shoulder) and guard Chris Kuper (ankle) are
also coming off surgeries. Franklin is back with the starters,
while Kuper is going through drills on an adjacent field in

On Wednesday, the Broncos received another scare when cornerback
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie went down with a left ankle injury and
had to be carted off the field.

”I am not over concerned,” Fox said after practice. ”But any
time a player misses time, I am concerned. We will just get him
healthy and get him back out there.”

Guard Justin Boren also had to be helped off the field with a
big toe ailment.