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Manny Ramirez takes snaps with Peyton Manning for Broncos

  • By Associated Press
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- One practice in and Manny Ramirez has yet to send any snaps sailing over Peyton Manning's head that would incur the wrath of his quarterback. That's a good start for the Denver Broncos' newest center.

Granted, a few were slightly off-target -- making Manning have to reach up to grab -- and one exchange was botched early in the workout on Monday, but that was it.

Ramirez is trying to get the hang of things quickly, because this season could very well hinge on his hikes as he steps for Dan Koppen, who suffered a season-ending knee injury over the weekend.

For a player who's never snapped a ball in an NFL game, Ramirez appeared awfully calm. Then again, he does have Manning standing behind him and telling him precisely what to do.

"I'm the type of person that if something is wrong, I need to know about it," said Ramirez, who was rushed by reporters as he returned from the weight room to chat about his new role. "I'd rather him point it out right there and then, than have to wait and try to figure it out later on. I'd rather get it done now."

The Broncos were dealt quite a blow on Sunday when Koppen, who started 12 games under center last season, tore his left ACL in 9-on-7 drills. Koppen was brought in just last month to fill in for J.D. Walton, who's had a setback in his return from ankle surgery.

Next up, Ramirez. The team also brought in Steve Vallos, a six-year veteran who has played in Seattle, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Jacksonville with nine career starts.

The Broncos have a banged-up offensive line. All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady has been limited at camp due to a right shoulder. He spent most of the morning session watching in sweat pants. Tackle Orlando Franklin (toe, shoulder) and guard Chris Kuper (ankle) are also coming off surgeries. Franklin is back on the field, while Kuper is still mending.

Asked if he might consider moving Kuper to center once he returns, coach John Fox said he's open for just about anything.

"Right now we are trying to get him healthy," Fox said. "We will pretty much cross that bridge when we get there. He definitely is an option, same as J.D. Walton."

Although Koppen was the starting center most of last season, the team intended to use Ramirez heading into 2013. The seventh-year pro took all the snaps in offseason practices, trying to build a rapport with Manning.

Ramirez has a familiar face on the line next to him in right guard Louis Vasquez, his teammate at Texas Tech. "We're like brothers. We have that comfort level," said Ramirez, who started 11 games at right guard last season.

As for his injury-riddled line, Fox doesn't seem too concerned at the moment.

"We feel decent where we are," he said. "We always hate losing people for the season, but we will march on."

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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