Cyrus Kouandjio’s second tour of duty in Denver lasted only two weeks.
Kouandjio was signed to the Broncos’ 53-man roster on Nov. 20 following a season-ending injury to guard Max Garcia, who was sent to injured reserve. Kouandjio was active in Weeks 12 and 13, serving as depth behind tackles Garett Bolles and Jared Veldheer and guards Billy Turner and Elijah Wilkinson.
Kouandjio was brought back to Denver because he knew the system, having appeared in three games and started one, at right tackle, in 2017. He initially returned this year, participating in the offseason program and training camp before being released at final cuts. It was a numbers game, and Kouandjio lost to sixth-round rookie Sam Jones, a weekly scratch.
“That’s more about position,” Joseph said on Sept. 1. “We have a couple guys as backups that are swing guys. Eli (G/T Elijah Wilkinson) is a swing guard and a swing tackle, so is [G/T] Billy Turner. He’s a swing guard and tackle. That’s rare to have two guys who can do that, so if you keep a Cyrus, now it’s three. We have two guys who can swing inside and out and we have two guys in Sam Jones and [G] Max Garcia who play center/guard. It’s a perfect mix for us. Again, I’m pleased with our backups at offensive line. It’s a deep group and all nine guys can play for us.”
A standout at Alabama and 2014 second-round pick of Bills, Kouandjio (6-7, 322) appeared in 25 career games for Buffalo, starting seven. He underwent surgery in January of 2017 to repair a hip injury and was waived that May. He then had a cup of coffee with the Lions, who cut him at the conclusion of training camp.
The Broncos deemed Kouandjio expendable in part because the current offensive line, a mish-mash configuration prompted by injury, has stunningly kept quarterback Case Keenum clean while springing massive holes for stud running back Phillip Lindsay, the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher.
“I think Garett is just playing really good football,” Joseph said Monday. “Obviously, the coaching is really, really good in that room between [Offensive Line -Tackles Coach] Chris [Strausser] and [Offensive Line – Guards/Centers Coach] Sean [Kugler]. That group is well-coached, we have great depth and there’s great culture in that room. I’m not surprised they’re playing well. Garett played really well the last three weeks as far as technique, being patient and even after the bad plays, responding the right way and getting back to technique. Our right tackle (T Jared Veldheer) is a great pro. He played great yesterday, again, versus two big-time rushers in [DE Carlos] Dunlap and [DE Michael] Johnson. Those guys are 6-foot-6, athletic, long rushers, and our tackles controlled those guys pretty well. I’ve been really proud of how both guys have played, and the interior guys are playing really well in the pass and the run game alike.”