Leary ready despite preseason of stops and starts


The development of Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles is undoubtedly important and he will be tested Sunday by Seattle defensive end Frank Clark. Same for Connor McGovern settling in at right guard, a musical chairs position last year.

But left guard Ron Leary may be the lynchpin to the offensive line.

If he stays available and effective, the Broncos could accomplish their goal of being an offense that runs to set up the play-action pass and then once they get a lead, can extinguish the fourth quarter clock with that same run game.

If Leary is in and out of the lineup, the continuity the Broncos tried so hard to create in training camp will be semi-shattered.

No pressure, Ron.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Leary said. “We’ve got a couple of new faces but this group right here is probably one of the hardest-working O-line groups I’ve been a part of.”

The right direction would include getting 16 games from Leary, which he has done only once (2013). He will make Bolles better. He knows how to keep interior pass rushers away from quarterback Case Keenum. And he knows how to lead. When he’s been on the field.

Leary, entering his seventh NFL season, missed the entire offseason program because of a knee injury that required surgery. Leary missed the first preseason game last month because of an ankle issue. And he missed the third preseason game when his knee flared up.

Those problems meant Leary is heading into the regular season with only 24 snaps, all against Chicago, including allowing a pressure when he was caught flat-footed while kicking out to pass protect.

Problem?

“That’s all I needed,” Leary said. “I’ve been playing for a while so I don’t need a whole lot of preseason reps to be ready to play ball. My biggest thing is making sure my wind is right for Sunday.”

Leary said he could have “definitely” played last week if the Broncos were in the regular season.

Any worry he would not be ready for Seattle?

“I wouldn’t say I was concerned, but it took a little longer than I thought,” Leary said. “That was a little frustrating. But I stayed the course last week and it was feeling really good. Now it feels great.”

Leary was managed by coach Vance Joseph during camp, his 58 regular season starts a nod that he didn’t need to be pushed in August. A left guard for Dallas before joining the Broncos, Leary played right guard for 11 games last year before a back injury shut him down.

The Broncos moved Leary back to his natural spot in the offseason, part of a reset that included trading for right tackle Jared Veldheer and settling in McGovern at right guard instead of trying to force free agent flop Menelik Watson into a new position. Watson was ultimately released.

“Right (guard) was a little uncomfortable at first,” Leary said. “It’s good to be back on the left. But if I had to play right in a pinch, I could do it at a high level.”

Bolles wants Leary to stay on his inside hip.

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