After a rough outing for Denver left tackle Chris Clark and the worst pass protection of the season overall, expect the Broncos to take a look around the league again to see if there are any capable upgrades at that spot. There doesn’t appear to be much out there unless the Broncos are willing to take a chance on long-time New York Giants veteran David Diehl.
Quarterback Peyton Manning was sacked a season-high four times and two hits against him resulted in critical turnovers. The first was a sack/strip by Robert Mathis as Clark tried to block him in the first half. The ball was recovered in the end zone for a safety (and almost a touchdown) by Indianapolis.
The second turnover was a hit that led to a deflected pass and interception with 6:59 remaining. Indianapolis converted that turnover into a field goal and a 39-30 lead. That play came from the right side of the Denver offense, where the Broncos are missing right tackle Orlando Franklin. Franklin is expected to return from an ankle injury.
However, Clark has had issue as he tries to replace standout veteran Ryan Clady, who is out for the remainder of the season. While the Broncos have been able to compensate until now, Clark’s deficiencies showed up Sunday and could be an issue when Denver faces better defenses in the playoffs.
Of the teams that appear to be in the seller’s market as the Oct. 29 trade deadline approaches, only the Giants, Minnesota and Tampa Bay have any type of real hope for the Broncos. Jacksonville has already traded left tackle Eugene Monroe to Baltimore and Oakland has no depth from which to trade.
That leaves the Giants, who have moved the 33-year-old Diehl to right guard, as a primary trading partner. Minnesota has Charlie Johnson at left guard and J’Marcus Webb as a backup offensive tackle. Johnson is a former Colts draft pick who struggled during his time in Indianapolis. Webb struggled at left tackle during his time in Chicago before being let go by the Bears after last season.
Tampa Bay has starting left tackle Donald Penn, but Penn is under contract for two more years and is considered a capable starter. Diehl and the Giants would be the most logical target. Diehl is in the last year of his contract. He has also started two Super Bowls at left tackle, including the Giants win over New Eng-land in February 2012.
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