What Ben Hamilton provided to the Broncos in 2006 was consistency on a line that saw injuries at both tackle positions, and holes that helped the Broncos’ rushing offense finish in the league’s top 25 percent once again.
Injuries to Adam Meadows and Matt Lepsis forced the Broncos into changes on the outside, thrusting George Foster back into the lineup in December and Erik Pears into the starting 11 for the Week 8 game against Indianapolis. But even with more tweaks on the offensive line than at any other season since 2002, the Broncos’ running game still produced 134.5 yards a week and the sixth different tailback to break the 1,000-yard milestone in the past 12 seasons, as well as the 11th 1,000-yard season for a back since 1995.
The emergence of Pears at left tackle also means that three of the six players to start at least six games on the offensive line last year had a common pattern of development by going through the league once known as NFL Europe (now called NFL Europa). Pears was all-NFL Europe in 2006, and Lepsis spent the spring of 1999 with the now-defunct Barcelona Dragons.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Has started every game since the 2002 season opener, giving him the longest active streak of consecutive starts on the Broncos’ offense.