ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Four of the Denver Broncos’ starting O-linemen were either hobbled or sidelined at practice this week and one of them, left tackle Ty Sambrailo, will miss his second straight game Sunday with a sore left shoulder.
So, coach Gary Kubiak plans to rotate rookie guard Max Garcia, who has taken two NFL snaps, and newcomer Tyler Polumbus into the lineup against the Oakland Raiders (2-2).
”I think that we need to rotate some guys, I think we do. We have some veteran players like Ryan (Harris) who are a little beat up right now this early in the season and I think that it will make us a better team if our young players continue to contribute,” Kubiak said Friday.
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The Broncos (4-0) will go with the same O-line they had last week against Minnesota, with Harris moving from right tackle to the left edge to protect Peyton Manning’s blindside and Michael Schofield replacing Harris.
Harris (knee) and right guard Louis Vasquez (knee) are both probable against the Raiders (2-2). Left guard Evan Mathis missed two practices this week with a sore hamstring and is questionable.
”He practiced yesterday on a limited basis and today he was a little sore, so we just held him,” Kubiak said. ”We’re counting on him being ready to go. He feels like he’ll be ready to go.”
Still, Garcia is going to get some work.
”We’ve got two of the best at the guard positions, so anything we can do to get their legs back underneath them as quickly as possible and just have them be as fresh as they can is going to help all of us out,” Garcia said. ”So, if I can just go in there and work as a reliever for a series or two, then I’m all for it, and I think it’s going to be for the best of the team and then I get to develop, as well.”
Unlike defensive linemen who come at quarterbacks in waves, offensive linemen usually play every snap as coaches are reluctant to rotate the one position group in football where everyone has to work in unison.
Polumbus, who joined the team Oct. 1 after his release from Atlanta but didn’t play last weekend, said he’s eager to get into the game even if it’s just for spot duty.
”Yeah, we play this game because we want to play, so any chance to get out on the field is exciting,” he said. ”We’ll see what that means or what exactly my role will be. But if I get an opportunity to get out there, I’ll have some fun.”
Notes: The Broncos also ruled out WR Cody Latimer (groin). … DE Derek Wolfe returns from his four-game suspension this weekend and is expected to start ahead of Vance Walker, who started all four games in his absence and is coming off his best performance in Denver’s 23-20 win over Minnesota and Adrian Peterson. … Kubiak on having Mitch Tanney, the team’s director of football analytics, in the coaches booth and ”in his ear” giving real-time advice during games: ”I still have to say OK or no, but he just gives me a lot of information to work with.”
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