January 25, 2022

Acqua NYC

Fit And Go Forward

Broncos Will ‘Stay The Course’ with Eli Wilkinson as Starting RT

All the good that Demar Dotson did for the Denver Broncos in eight games at right tackle was overwritten by four quarters of Elijah Wilkinson.

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio intimated Monday that Wilkinson, now fully healthy, has reclaimed his starting job over Dotson, the RT1 since Week 4.

“We could have started Elijah the week before, and we just wanted to give him another week of prep and practice. We’ll probably stay that course right now,” Fangio told reporters.

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Denver made a troika of last-minute changes to their offensive line before Sunday’s win over Carolina. Out went left tackle Garett Bolles, who suffered from an illness, and in came Calvin Anderson. Out went right guard Graham Glasgow, who has a foot injury, and in came Netane Muti. Out went Dotson, for reasons unknown, and in came Wilkinson, who spent nearly two months on injured reserve following an early-season shinbone fracture.

The unit held up surprisingly well amid the 32-27 victory, allowing just one sack and five hits on quarterback Drew Lock, who — by no coincidence — threw for a career-high four touchdowns in his best performance to date.

“I thought they all three did a nice job, particularly Elijah, who hadn’t played in a long time,” Fangio said Monday. “Muti had never played in a regular NFL game. I thought they both did good and they were side by side there and I thought they worked well together. I thought Calvin went in and did a nice job also.”

However, the lone sack appeared to be Wilkinson’s fault; he turned inside to help Muti on a Panthers blitz but left the edge wide open as Lock was obliterated.

But no harm, no foul, apparently.

“It’s amazing what those guys can do up there,” Lock said. “Muti, I call him ‘Muto Muto’, but Muti, he’s playing smart. They lined [DL Derrick] Brown up in front of him. That’s a top-10 pick and he did way more than hold his own. Same thing with Calvin. Calvin slotted at right tackle and played in the Raiders game at right tackle, and we had to move him to left tackle. Elijah comes back in from getting a few reps here and there and bounced back from that injury. It just shows how resilient that group is.”

Wilkinson and company will face a stiffer test Saturday afternoon when the 10-3 Buffalo Bills come to town. Buffalo’s disciplined defense ranks seventh in the NFL in forced fumbles (13), 11th in interceptions (12), and 14th in sacks (31) and opposing QBR (91.6).

Follow Zack on Twitter @KelbermanNFL and @MileHighHuddle

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