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.