Franklin throwing his weight around for Broncos
Broncos rookie right tackle Orlando Franklin is keeping it simple, trying to fend off onrushing defensive players one play, then attempting to send them reeling backward the next.
''I try to bring as much physicality to the game as possible,'' Franklin said.
It was that same, nasty demeanor that initially piqued the Broncos' interest while breaking down Franklin's game tapes at the University of Miami before the draft. The team saw a player who wasn't afraid to mix it up and throw his substantial weight around - 330 pounds in all on a 6-foot-7 frame.
There would have to be technical modifications, particularly operating in pass protection. But there also was enough evident athletic ability that it seemed possible that the footwork, hand placement and balance necessary to succeed as a pro guarding the edge could be developed.
At the same time, it kept coming back to Franklin's physicality and power, explaining not only why Denver used a second-round pick on the rookie, but decided to insert him with the first-team offensive line from Day 1.
''I was kind of surprised, but they have a lot of trust in me,'' Franklin said.
The rookie, who credits childhood wrestling matches with family members that involved lost teeth for helping provide some of his edge, spent the early part of the summer doing film study with the aid of guards Russ Hochstein and Chris Kuper, the latter a Denver team captain and linemate to Franklin's immediate left on the No. 1 blocking unit. The two veterans helped Franklin grasp the varied schematic concepts being installed by new offensive line coach Dave Magazu.
Nonetheless, every day this summer remains an adventure for Franklin, like most first-year players indoctrinated into the pros, this summer in particular after no offseason workouts to fine tune mechanically.
''He's really grown,'' coach John Fox said.
Magazu often has told Franklin to continue following around Kuper like a puppy in order to properly continue his progression.
Even Franklin admits that Kuper ''pretty much baby-sits me.''
''Really, if Orlando just listens and becomes a technician he'll be fine.'' Magazu said. ''Kupe drives the bus and Orlando doesn't have his license yet, so he sits and listens.''
''We've got to keep working with him technically because every once in a while he'll have a relapse and do some dumb things. Orlando will feel pretty good about himself and he'll get out of the realm of what we're trying to do. But they work well together as a team. And Orlando's worked hard. He's got to figure out exactly what it means to be a pro, but he's on the right track.''
This summer marks the second year the Broncos have opted to potentially live through the growing pains of a fresh-faced player on their offensive line. Center J.D. Walton and left guard Zane Beadles each were thrown into the fray as rookies in 2010 when Josh McDaniels was head coach. The results weren't always pretty, but the pair did learn valuable lessons along the way that can be applied to their second seasons.
Add in Kuper and left tackle Ryan Clady, and Denver's offensive line remains the same from last season's group save for Franklin, who replaced Ryan Harris - now with Philadelphia.