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Broncos sign former Colts' center Lilja

The SportsXchange

Ryan Lilja has six years' experience playing with Peyton Manning from their time together in Indianapolis. Now they get to play a seventh season together.

The Denver Broncos on Wednesday agreed to terms with the 32-yar-old free-agent center Ryan Lilja

With J.D. Walton and Dan Koppen injured, the Broncos are in a serious bind at the center, a critical position in the Manning-run offense, which operates frequently without a traditional huddle.

The Broncos moved guard Manny Ramirez to the center spot after Koppen torn his ACL on Sunday. Walton, the team's first choice at center, will miss extended time after a setback in his recovery from an ankle injury, which led to more surgery.

But now with the 6-foot-2, 290-pound Lilja in the fold, the Broncos have a little bit of depth.

Lilja played center last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, sliding over from his customary guard spot to replace injured Rodney Hudson.

A starter in nine postseason games, including two Super Bowls with the Colts, Lilja has never allowed more than three sacks in a season.

Lilja was a starter at guard with the Colts alongside Jeff Saturday, the Pro Bowl center whose name was bandied by media as a candidate to rescue the Broncos and act as the offensive line's rudder when Koppen was hurt. But Saturday quickly ended such speculation, saying he'd lost more than 50 pounds since his career ended with the Packers in 2012.
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