Broncos feel 'fortunate' to have Koppen at center

Broncos feel 'fortunate' to have Koppen at center
October 3, 2012, 10:33 pm
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FOXBORO -- Dan Koppen makes his return to Gillette Stadium on Sunday. And he won't be on the sidelines, as the Denver Broncos probably expected when they signed him not even a month ago.
The Broncos were expecting J.D. Walton to be starting at center against the Patriots. But Walton was placed on injured reserve with a broken and dislocated ankle, meaning Koppen -- the nine-year veteran -- will start under center against the team that released him before the regular season began.
"We haven't been together too long yet, but I'm sure glad we brought him in, because we lost J.D. Walton last week to an ankle fracture," said Broncos coach John Fox in a conference call on Wednesday. "Koppen's a guy that had gotten healthy, and we looked at him and brought him in to work him out. At no point were we thinking he was going to be lining up as the starting center as we head to Foxboro this weekend."
Peyton Manning was obviously disappointed to lose his starting center after just four weeks into the regular season. But Koppen's veteran presence to step right in and replace him has eased the quarterback's mental anguish.
"Well, certainly, I'm sick about J.D. Walton's injury," said Manning in a conference call on Wednesday. "I know how hard he's worked this offseason. He and I have spent a great deal of time together. It was probably the first thing I did when I got here, was getting snaps with J.D. and quarterback-center exchanges being vital. So, I was sick about his injury.
"And when you lose the starting center who's started every game for the past three years, it's very rare that you can replace him with a veteran like Dan, who's played in many huge games and is experienced. So we feel very fortunate. It's always nice having a veteran player -- who's been around winning for his entire career -- on your team."