Broncos land Lilja to play center

BY Alex Marvez • July 31, 2013

Quarterback Peyton Manning and one of his former Indianapolis Colts offensive linemen are reunited once again.

A source confirmed to FOX Sports that Ryan Lilja reached agreement on a contract Wednesday with the Denver Broncos. Terms weren’t immediately available.

FOX Sports first reported Tuesday that the Broncos reached out to Lilja after a rash of injuries at center. Lilja, 31, needed roughly 36 hours to contemplate whether to emerge from retirement and accept Denver’s offer.

Lilja played guard with the Manning-led Colts from 2004-09. A 59-game starter in Indianapolis, Lilja spent the past three years in Kansas City after leaving the Colts via free agency. He played center with the Chiefs in 2012 and announced his retirement at season’s end.

Lilja’s addition was spurred by the season-ending knee injury suffered by Broncos center Dan Koppen during training camp practice Sunday. Koppen was replacing starting center J.D. Walton, who is sidelined until at least October following offseason ankle surgery.

The Broncos shifted Manny Ramirez from guard to center in subsequent practices. They also signed free-agent center Steve Vallos. Lilja, though, has a much better understanding of Manning’s audible system and quarterback-center connection for line calls.

The Denver Post first reported Lilja’s signing.

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