The Denver Broncos' self-inflicted managerial holes (two of the team's top executives, Matt Russell and Tom Heckert, are serving suspensions for DUIs) left executive vice president of football operations John Elway to seek alternate advice when replacing injured centers J.D. Walton and Dan Koppen.
"Hey, look, we just had a bad string of luck there between J.D. and Dan," Peyton Manning said, per the Denver Post. "John asked me about (Ryan) Lilja. I told him he's as good a teammate a quarterback can have. So John said, 'Why don't you reach out to him to see where he is?' "
Lilja blocked for Manning from 2004 to 2009 with the Indianapolis Colts, so it's a good bet that even without the injuries, the quarterback would have been consulted.
Manning also added that Lilja was considering a return to the league prior to signing with the Broncos last week, so the veteran offensive lineman didn't need a ton of coaxing to join the four-time NFL MVP.
"So this was not something where he just decided he wanted to play," Manning said. "Playing again has been on his radar. I had a good talk with him. So that's how that came about."
Lilja started deep on the Broncos' first depth chart. However, as John Fox intimated Monday, that list isn't how players will be lining up once the season starts. We expect the veteran to make his way toward the top.