HomeFootball DirtInjured ribs of Mike McGlinchey hinder Broncos' O-line continuity throughout game

Injured ribs of Mike McGlinchey hinder Broncos’ O-line continuity throughout game

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Right tackle Mike McClinchey was ruled out Friday from the Broncos’ season finale at Las Vegas, denying Denver the chance to have its entire offensive line intact from start to finish for the first time since 2011.

“We’ve had our fair share of injuries but not a lot,” coach Sean Payton said Friday, when he also ruled out tight end Chris Manhertz (illness) from Sunday’s game against the Raiders (7-9).

Payton said 10th-year veteran swing tackle Cam Fleming will start for Denver (8-8) in place of McGlinchey, who has started all 16 games alongside Garett Bolles, Ben Powers, Lloyd Cushenberry III and Quinn Meinerz.

“He’s experienced and I think it’s extremely important,” Payton said of the value of having a veteran third tackle. “He’s had a lot of snaps. When the offseason came and we were looking at who tackle-3 is, that is an important position.”

McGlinchey left the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason to sign a five-year, $87.5 million contract in Denver, making him the second-highest-paid Broncos player behind quarterback Russell Wilson, who signed a five-year, $242.6 million contract last year.

Wilson was benched last week after going 11-19 in two seasons and could be on his way out of Denver, leaving the Broncos with a massive dead cap charge of $85 million over the next two years. That would be more than double the $40 million in dead money the Falcons had after parting ways with QB Matt Ryan.

Despite missing the playoffs for an eighth consecutive year, one of the bright spots in Denver’s 2023 season has been the offensive line after a season in which left tackle Garett Bolles broke a leg and several other staters missed games with injuries.

“It’s extremely important” said Meinerz, who was named a Pro Bowl alternate this week. “I mean we’re all practicing every single week. We’re all playing in the games, all the snaps every single week. That just allows us to build that continuity. And it was a lot different this year compared to last year with how many different combinations we had because of injuries.”

McGlinchey’s injury aside, this is the healthiest the team has been in several years, and much of the credit in addition to Payton’s preparation philosophies goes to strength and conditioning coach Dan Dalrymple, who also worked with Payton in New Orleans from 2006-21.

“There’s no guarantee when you train X, Y, Z, practice X, Y, Z” that you’ll avoid the injury bug, Payton said. “But, I think there’s a pretty good guarantee (of injuries) if you don’t. We’ve had years where I’m sure we were more nicked up. … I feel like the one thing the league has done a good job with (is that) all of us are becoming more and more aware of when you have a day off in training camp, the next day is an alert day. Understanding that you have to (slowly ramp up).

“Then understanding certain days that are transition days, if you will. And then, soft tissue — how long on the field. All the tracking information. All of that has changed in, really, five years. That’ll continue to change. That’s part of teaching. We want to open up all the doors and listen, because you want to stay up to speed on that. A lot of that has changed, but ultimately, there is this sweat element and workload element that is hard to replicate.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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