There have been 592 sacks through nine weeks of play in the NFL this season.
Broncos tackle Ryan Clady hasn’t allowed a single one of them.
In fact, he’s the only left tackle in the league to have started each one of his team’s games without giving up a sack through Week 9.
“It feels good,” Clady said of the way he’s started the season. “I’ve always strived to get better every year.”
The fifth-year tackle has been playing at an elite level since he was drafted 12th overall by the Broncos in 2008. He is one of just five offensive linemen in NFL history to start every game and make multiple Pro Bowls during his first four seasons.
Clady joins Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr as the only players from that draft class to have started every possible game to open their careers.
This season, he’s been a veteran presence on a Broncos offensive line that has allowed just 10 sacks on the season, which is tied for second best in the NFL.
“I think we’re just kind of in a rhythm right now,” Clady said. “(Quarterback) Peyton Manning, he’s been getting rid of the ball fairly efficiently. That always helps and we’ve just been able to sustain guys back for long enough for him to get the ball out.”
Playing in his first season with Manning under center, Clady and the rest of the offensive line have been aided by the quarterback’s experience and knowledge of the game.
Manning has been able to get rid of the ball quickly and make pre-snap adjustments to help ward off opposing pass rushes.
“It helps usually,” Clady said of the pre-snap calls. “That’s just part of the game, putting us in good spots so we can have the best play out there at all times.”
Although the pass protection has been especially strong this season, Clady takes pride in his versatility as a blocker. Last year the Broncos led the league in rushing, an area he would like to see the team improve in during the second half of the 2012 season.
“We definitely need to work on our rushing ability this year,” he said. “We really haven’t had a lot of attempts or whatnot, but we definitely need to get better at that.”
A second-team All-Pro as a rookie, Clady didn’t need much time to adjust to playing in the NFL. Since then, he’s continued to work on his all-around game, which has been noticed by Offensive Line Coach Dave Magazu
“Ryan’s obviously an outstanding football player,” Magazu said. “Where he’s improved is, he’s developing his game from a run aspect, he’s becoming more of a contributor in the run game and not just being that left tackle guy that protects the quarterback… He’s really done a nice job and he’s worked hard at it, and you’re starting to see some of the results.”