Tackles Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin, guards Chris Kuper and Zane Beadles and center Dan Koppen, the Broncos’ starters on the offensive line, play an important role every week, but one that doesn’t often draw much attention or recognition.
But the Broncos’ unsung men in the trenches received a bit of spotlight with Wednesday’s announcement that the group took home Week 8′s Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award, which honors the league’s top offensive line.
Winning this week’s award also makes the unit eligible to win the annual honor, which will be revealed during this year’s Super Bowl. The award “serves to celebrate the loyal teammates in the trenches that most consistently provide the time and protection that is critical to their teammates’ and overall team’s success.”
Sunday night against the Saints, the group was every bit as valuable in the ground game as in the passing game, helping the Broncos rush for a season-high 225 yards in addition to 305 yards through the air by quarterback Peyton Manning. The success on the ground featured season-bests for Willis McGahee and Ronnie Hillman, who rushed for 122 and 86 yards, respectively.
In addition to the recognition for the line as a whole, Clady earned Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s Offensive Lineman of the Week award.
A big part of Manning’s success through the air was his ability to get comfortable in the pocket, as Manning was not sacked once in 30 pass attempts.
“The Broncos offensive line provided consistent protection for Peyton the entire night,” John Madden said in a statement.