Of all the practice players that the Denver Broncos could have promoted to their opening day roster for Sunday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, I'm happy that they selected Sealver Siliga. A defensive tackle who played his college football at Utah, Siliga is one of those underdog-type players who is getting his first real break to see action in the NFL regular season. He has a tremendous opportunity to make an impression on a defensive line that will be looking to put as much pressure on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as possible.
Siliga came out early as a junior into the NFL draft back in 2011. It was an unusual move for a player who was not projected to be drafted at that point. Siliga defended his decision at that time by saying that he felt that it was the best time, both physically and mentally, for him to turn pro. When the worst-case scenario came true (not getting drafted), Siliga signed with the San Francisco 49ers to be a member of their practice squad.
Unfortunately for Siliga, the 49ers decided to cut him before the 2011 season started. The Broncos ended up signing Siliga to their own practice squad a short while later in October. Since then, he's done everything the Broncos have asked of him in the weight room and on the practice field. He appears to be finally physically maturing into the kind of player that might be able to help with the Broncos' depth at defensive tackle. The Broncos have him listed at 6'2" and roughly 307 pounds, but he certainly looks much heavier than that.
Siliga's size and strength stood out to the Broncos in training camp and preseason in 2012. Siliga got some playing time in OTAs this summer with the first team defense due to the absence of Ty Warren and Derek Wolfe (contract issues). Clearly the Broncos liked what they saw in him then. He could be a very valuable addition to the team if Warren ends up with another injury this year. The 31-year-old Warren has missed the past two seasons due to injuries and some might wonder just how effective he can really be at this point in his career.
Keep an eye out for Siliga (probably wearing No. 98, the number he wore in preseason) on Sunday night. He's come a long way to get a chance to be playing in this important of a game (doesn't get much bigger in the regular season than a prime time opening night matchup against the Steelers). With a good performance, Siliga can guarantee himself more opportunities in the future and make it difficult for the Broncos to send him back down to the practice squad.
Julie is a featured NFL contributor who writes about the Denver Broncos for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A football fanatic, she started following the Broncos upon moving to Colorado in 2001.
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