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Broncos insert Hochstein at left guard, demote Hamilton

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos will play Russ Hochstein at left guard in place of longtime starter Ben Hamilton in Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.

The move was made as the Broncos try to ignite a stagnant offense that has scored only one combined touchdown in back-to-back losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We'll always evaluate everybody," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said Thursday. "If there's something we feel may give us a better opportunity to have success -- wherever it may be -- then we would not be opposed to doing anything. We're going to see how that goes, evaluate it ongoing."

Hochstein has shown his versatility since being acquired from the New England Patriots in an August trade. He filled in at right guard when Chris Kuper hurt his ankle and on the left side when Hamilton was out with a hamstring injury Oct. 4 against the Dallas Cowboys. Hochstein also began the Monday night game against the Steelers at tight end and has lined up in the backfield in short-yardage situations.

"Whenever I'm called upon, I try to work as hard as I can," Hochstein said. "I'm eager to help any way I can."

Hochstein's flexibility was one of the reasons the Broncos brought him in, along with his familiarity with McDaniels' style of offense dating to their days together with the Patriots.

"We feel like he'll be competitive in there, and we'll see how it goes," McDaniels said.

Hochstein will have his hands full Sunday when he sees a steady dose of Albert Haynesworth, the enormous anchor of the Redskins' defensive front.

"Whew, the guy's a great player," said Hochstein, a nine-year pro. "A very physical presence."

Outside of missing the 2007 season with concussion symptoms, Hamilton has started every game -- when healthy -- with the Broncos since 2002. He came out of the Sept. 27 game against the Oakland Raiders with a hamstring injury, then sat out the following week, with Hochstein stepping in on each occasion.

Hamilton is a holdover from the Broncos' old regime, when the team ran a zone-blocking scheme under then-coach Mike Shanahan. Still, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy believed Hamilton and the other linemen who were groomed on that way of blocking were making a quick transition to the new scheme.


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"I think they've done a great job up front, adapting to what we do," McCoy said. "We have plenty of things in there that they've done in the past. We've put a few different types of plays in there, scheme plays, maybe they haven't run as much. But they've bought into what we're doing and done a nice job."

Lately, the Broncos have struggled in the running game. Correll Buckhalter and rookie Knowshon Moreno combined to gain just 27 yards on 14 carries against the Steelers.

In the wake of that, Hochstein is replacing Hamilton.

"This is not an anointment of anybody or anything tremendously negative about Ben Hamilton," McDaniels said. "We're just going to see if this makes the situation any better. If it does, great. We'll always do what's best for our team. If this can help us, we'll be happy with it."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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