To his left, Broncos center Matt Paradis will see some new faces. To his right, more new faces. Even his quarterback will be different.
Those are a lot of changes for a player who’s started only one season and now is the mainstay on the offensive line.
“It feels weird,” Paradis said. “It’s weird being the vet.”
So let the bonding begin promptly. Paradis and the offensive line have already gone to a Colorado Rockies baseball game with quarterback Mark Sanchez, who’s stepping in for a retired Peyton Manning and a departed Brock Osweiler. Those are just the sort of chemistry-building excursions necessary to fortify a reshuffled line.
“But we’re ahead of where you’d think we would be,” Paradis said.
Ever so quietly, Paradis had a productive year for the Super Bowl champions as he took every snap. What’s more, he allowed only one sack and drew just one penalty for a false start.
Given all the attrition and additions in the offseason, the line heading into training camp may look something like this: Russell Okung at left tackle, Ty Sambrailo at left guard, Paradis, Max Garcia at right guard — he started a handful of games at guard last season — and Donald Stephenson at right tackle.
That figures to be a lot of protection for Sanchez, Trevor Siemian or rookie Paxton Lynch. But it’s going to take some getting used to the cadence of someone other than Manning.
“I mean, obviously, Peyton was one of the best to ever play the game,” said the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Paradis, who was a sixth-round pick in 2014. “So there are differences. There are differences between every quarterback. There’s nothing too special for us. We’re snapping and blocking our assignments either way.”
Paradis is laid-back: While some of the Broncos celebrated the Super Bowl by making the rounds of talk shows, Paradis said his most elaborate plan was returning to Council to shake some hands. That’s simply his style.
“He’s quiet, a quiet leader,” offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said in January.
Around this time a year ago, Denver’s O-line suffered a blow when Ryan Clady (Boise State) tore his ACL in offseason training activities. During the season, Sambrailo hurt his shoulder. The Broncos searched all season for some consistency on the offensive line.
“I’m very excited about this group we’ve got. A lot of smart guys, athletic guys. ... It’s hard to give you an exact (example) how better we’re going to be, but I think we will be better,” said Paradis, who played for the rookie minimum salary of $435,000 last year and was the top earner ($391,648) through the league’s performance-based pay program.
This is a team that was credited with 411 rushes in the regular season and that threw it another 606 times. Expect even more running plays this season. “We’re going to run the ball, that’s our focus,” Paradis said.
Matt Paradis is entering his third NFL season, and he already has seniority on Denver’s offensive line. A look at the Broncos’ projected line for training camp and the total career starts for each (Denver starts in parentheses):