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08-29-2010, 01:52 AM
Analysis: Broncos' young offensive linemen awaiting big test against Steelers' defense
By Jeff Legwold
The Denver Post
Posted: 08/25/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

If NFL preseason games are indeed learning experiences, the youthful core of the Broncos' offensive line will get a different lesson plan Sunday night during Denver's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Invesco Field at Mile High.

When coach Josh McDaniels decided to toss his two rookie linemen into the starting lineup, he did it with the intention of giving center J.D. Walton and left guard Zane Beadles as many experiences as possible in training camp to go with the Broncos' four preseason games.

Sort of a compressed, learn-on-the-job deal, pointed toward being able to start two rookies upfront when the Broncos' regular season opens Sept. 12 at Jacksonville.

Last weekend, the Broncos played against the Detroit Lions' aggressive 4-3 scheme, with defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch in full lather coming off the edge and rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh pounding away in the middle.

This weekend, the Broncos will play against one of the NFL's signature defenses the Steelers' 3-4.

It's different than other 3-4 looks because the Steelers are more intent on getting up the field at all times, and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is calling the shots. LeBeau, who was in the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class with former Broncos running back Floyd Little a few weeks ago, is willing to try just about anything to get to the quarterback.

The Steelers come from all angles, will rush anybody and drop anybody into coverage.

LeBeau is the guy generally credited with creating the zone blitz, and his plans always feature something unexpected. But what also sets his defenses apart is how hard his guys play for him.

That's always the measure of a coordinator's ability to engage the players he has how hard do they play for him and how deep will they dig when the team needs a big play?

The Steelers have routinely responded well to LeBeau's low-key, been-there-and-done-that approach. He is in
Post Poll - 1-Dimensional "O"?

The Broncos have rushed for merely 111 yards through two preseason games. How concerned are you about the Denver running game?
Very concerned: The Broncos' average of 55.5 yards rushing in two preseason games ranks 30th in the 32-team NFL. That is one ill omen.
Mildly wondering: Injuries at the backfield and O-line aren't good excuses. Injuries happen in the regular season, too.
What, me worry? Emphasis in preseason on the passing game, which looks solid, will pay dividends come crunch time.
such high standing among the Steelers, the entire team attended LeBeau's Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio.

Pittsburgh won't unveil a complete game plan against the Broncos, but Sunday will offer another preseason test for Denver's two rookie offensive linemen as well as left tackle D'Anthony Batiste to get a feel for what's coming their way during the regular season.

Batiste will get a full dose of Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, a former NFL defensive player of the year. Walton will play across the line of scrimmage from Casey Hampton, a former Pro Bowl nose tackle.

The Lions and New York Giants combined for just three touchdown drives and one field-goal drive in the Steelers' two preseason games.

Read more: Analysis: Broncos' young offensive linemen awaiting big test against Steelers' defense - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_15 ... z0xyJ9Vl9M (http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_15881189#ixzz0xyJ9Vl9M)