Penalties a red flag in first test for Denver's revamped offensive line

From ESPN - August 12, 2017

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A rush to judgment is as much a part of preseason football as not playing the starters all that much.

And the jury is certainly out on the Denver Broncos' retooling of the offensive line -- at least until some regular-season games have actually taken place. But until rookie running back De'Angelo Henderson ripped through the Chicago Bears defense for a 41-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 49 seconds remaining in Thursday night's game, the Broncos' play up front had been spotty at best.

It had to be slightly disappointing for coach Vance Joseph, who only two days before had called the offensive line the most improved position group on the team. It is indeed just one preseason game, a sample size that is often misleading, but in a penalty-marred 24-17 victory -- 10 penalties were enforced of the 14 that were called against the Broncos -- the team's offensive line was the biggest offender.

Five different offensive linemen were flagged at least once, and Joseph repeatedly said following the game that those struggles impacted most everything the Broncos had hoped to get done.

"The penalties kind of killed us offensively," Joseph said. "It's hard to say who played well because of the penalties."

Aside from center Matt Paradis, who did not play because the Broncos are being cautious with him as he returns from offseason surgery on both hips, the Broncos opened with the line that has started for much of training camp.

But quarterback Trevor Siemian was sacked on Denver's first offensive snap, and until Henderson found some seams against the Chicago reserves in the fourth quarter, the Broncos struggled to run the ball. They did not have a rushing attempt by a running back longer than 6 yards in the first three quarters.

The Denver starters had three penalties on the opening possession -- two on offensive linemen (Menelik Watson and Max Garcia). It was all a bit of a flashback to last season when Denver's struggles up front were a season-long issue.


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