Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blindside, One Man Brickwall, is Broncos Biggest FA addition, says Peyton Manning

Broncos' best offseason acquisition didn't come in free agency (technically)

Ryan Clady suffered a foot injury early in the year and missed Denver's run to the Super Bowl.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
DENVER -- For Ryan Clady, watching February's Super Bowl was hard -- and understandably so. The +Denver Broncos' left tackle, among the best at his position in the +NFL, had been out since Week 2 with a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot. He was powerless, a passive observer of his team's collapse.

I watched Clady watch a game once -- how meta is that? -- in Week 16 in +Houston. He'd traveled with the Broncos to Texas, and he was seated in the press box, squashed between writers, too big for his chair, his legs pressed beneath the desk in front of him. He cheered, too, breaking the cardinal rule of press boxes, but he's Ryan Clady, after all.

He cheered, and he flinched. At first, it seemed as if he flinched for Peyton Manning and cheered for his throws. But no, Clady flinched before the throw, cheered at the release. He watched his offensive line, watched his replacement and the block, block, block that preceded each throw, and if he followed the same routine in New Jersey in February, watching his Broncos vs. the +Seattle Seahawks, well, it had to have been excruciating.

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In the months since their Super Bowl rout at the hands of Seattle, the Broncos have made move after move, waving goodbye to the likes of Champ Bailey, Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno, among others, and inking deals with big-name free agents. T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, boom, boom, boom. Denver owned the opening days of free agency, and yet in the weeks since, one name has come up more often than any of those ballyhooed acquisitions.

It's Clady's.

"We've got Ryan Clady back," Broncos coach John Fox said at the NFL's annual meetings in March. "That makes us better instantly."

"It's almost like Ryan Clady was a free-agent acquisition," Manning echoed last week before a speaking engagement.

It's almost like he was a free-agent acquisition ... and if the former first round pick from +Boise State University were, he'd have been the Broncos' best
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Clady Recovering, Looking Towards 2014