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Stokley: Broncos moving Leary hurts LT, whether Sambrailo or Bolles

Denver Broncos guard Ron Leary (65) during minicamp at UCHealth Training Center. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Among the storylines heading out of minicamp into training camp for the Denver Broncos is how will the offensive line shake out.

And on Tuesday, there was a bit of a shake up with the big men up front.

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said after the team’s first minicamp practice that third-year guard Max Garcia would be moving back to the left side, where he started all 16 games in 2016, and free agent acquisition Ronald Leary to right guard.

“Hopefully that’s a better mesh for us. Leary played left the entire spring and Max played the right, but we think Max is more comfortable playing left and Ronald doesn’t care,” Joseph said on Tuesday. “That’s the best thing for us.”

But despite Garcia feeling more comfortable and Leary’s flexibility, “Stokley & Zach” co-host Brandon Stokley said the move could actually end up hurting the Broncos up front.

“Max Garcia’s not a rookie, but you have a younger guy who’s not as a proven player as a Ronald Leary next to your left tackle — if it’s Ty Sambrailo or Garett Bolles,” Stokley said. “You don’t have the luxury of having a Ronald Leary next to you.”

Leary — a sixth-year pro who signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos this offseason — graded among the top 25 guards in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

And moving the veteran away from a rookie in Bolles or a young pro in Sambrailo “hurts those guys a little bit more,” Stokley said.

“When you look at that left side and you say, man, it might be that rookie, you want Ronald Leary, your best offensive lineman next to him, helping him out and being able to pick up some slack for that young guy, that inexperienced guy playing left tackle,” Stokley said.

Joseph said that Sambrailo and Bolles continued to rotate first-team reps as the team navigates through mandatory minicamp.

On Tuesday, Joseph said of Bolles: “He’s made a lot of progress. It’s a tough spot to play as a rookie, and it takes a lot of football IQ to play that spot in the NFL. When he knows what to do, he can block his guy. His talent shows.

“The ultimate issue is knowing what to do and how to do it, but he’s a first-round pick for a reason. He’s a talent.”

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @johnnyhart7.

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About the Author

Johnny Hart

Johnny Hart is a digital content producer for Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan and 1043thefan.com. He's a proud graduate of Colorado State University, and he has covered Denver-area professional sports since 2012. Follow Johnny on Twitter: @johnnyhart7.

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