Ryan Clady stands six-and-a-half feet tall, weighs more than 320 pounds, and has an even bigger heart.
On Friday, Interim Head Coach Eric Studesville announced Clady as the recipient of this year’s Ed Block Courage Award for the Denver Broncos. All 32 NFL franchises recognize one player who exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage for the award selected by his teammates.
“It’s definitely an honor to get this award,” Clady said. “I worked hard during the offseason to get where I am now and I’m definitely blessed to be in the position I am.”
The third-year offensive tackle suffered a knee injury in April, but that did not stop him from starting the team’s season opener in Jacksonville.
Thanks to diligent work rehabilitating his knee with Broncos Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos, Clady has started all 14 games this season, increasing his career starting streak to 46 games.
He has started every game for Denver after the team selected him as the 12th overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft from Boise State University.
“Ryan is a class-act player who is undoubtedly deserving of this season’s Ed Block Courage Award,” Antonopulos said.
“His courage, hard work and dedication are apparent with his remarkable return from a torn patella tendon he suffered in April. During his rehab, he was consistently ahead of schedule, and it takes a very special mindset and a very big heart to make that quick of a recovery.”
All 32 Ed Block Courage Award recipients from around the NFL will be honored at a banquet in Baltimore in early March.
The annual award is named in honor of Ed Block, the longtime head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts who was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian.
The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is an NFL-supported charity dedicated to recognizing courage in the league while improving the lives of abused/neglected children in NFL cities throughout the country.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Jeff Byers got his first Christmas present a little early this year.
After the Broncos placed Matt Prater on injured reserve on Thursday, they signed Byers to the active roster from the practice squad on Friday.
Byers earned All-America honors at Loveland High School in Loveland, Colo., before becoming a three-year starter at the University of Southern California. Now the rookie offensive lineman has a spot on the active roster of his hometown team.
“You never know where life takes you, and I’m really fortunate that life took me here,” Byers said. “I ended up here in front of my family and my friends. This community has given a lot to me when I was in high school. It just seems so fitting that I’m back here and I can do something for them.”
Studesville announced on Friday that he has pushed the Saturday practice schedule back to allow the players time to spend with their families on Christmas morning.
The coach said the best present he ever received came on Friday night, when his wife surprised him by flying two of his uncles into Denver to spend the holidays with their nephew. Tim Tebow also said there will be “about 16 Tebows” in town to celebrate with the quarterback and take in his second start as a pro.
“There will be more Tebows (laughing). There are not that many Studesvilles (laughing),” Studesville said. “The biggest thing this time of year for me is time with family. I love being around my family and sitting around and laughing and hearing their voices. So, if I’m around them – that’s why it made it so special that my uncles are here. The noise level goes up in the house and that is a good thing. So, seeing them and being around them is the best present I could have.”
After an injury to his ribs took him out of last weeks game in Oakland and kept him off the practice field on Wednesday, Knowshon Moreno got back to work on Thursday.
“He’s sore, but he got out, he practiced and got a bunch of reps,” Studesville said. “He wanted to take most of them, because he had missed Wednesday. We got him some work that we felt we needed to get him.”
With another day of practice on Friday, the coach said he expected his top running back to ready to face the Houston Texans at home on Sunday. Having worked closely with Moreno as the former running backs coach, Studesville said he observed “a little bit more bounce” in Moreno’s step.
The running back agreed, saying he always has a high-energy level.
“I always have a little bounce,” Moreno said. “I feel good.”
Studesville also said the team is hopeful they will have Demaryius Thomas available for Sunday. He said Brian Dawkins “is doing well” on the practice field after missing the past three games with a knee injury.
“He has practiced the last two days, got a little bit more each day – progressively involved a little bit more,” Studesville said of the safety. “We are looking forward to having him out on the field – his leadership and who he is.”
Moreno (ribs), Thomas (ankle), Dawkins (knee), David Bruton (ribs), Darcel McBath (quadricep) and Kyle Orton (ribs) were all limited in practice on Friday and are all questionable for Sunday. Daniel Coats (finger) and Eddie Royal (lower back) fully participated in practice and are probable.
For the Texans, TE Garrett Graham (hamstring) did not practice on Friday and is out, and WR Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice and is questionable. DT Damione Lewis (illness) did not practice and is probable, K Neil Rackers (right hamstring) did not practice and is probable and LB Brian Cushing (knee/ankle/foot) was limited in practice and is probable. DE Mark Anderson (knee), T Duane Brown (shoulder), RB Arian Foster (hip) and QB Matt Schaub (right elbow) fully participated in practice and are probable.
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are pictures from Friday’s practice: