ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The road to the starting left tackle — arguably the second-most important position on the offense behind the quarterback — is simple, at least in theory, for rookie Garett Bolles.
Entering training camp, beginning on Thursday, Bolles' biggest focus to earning the starting left tackle role doesn’t revolve around the typical concerns for rookies, such as learning the playbook or becoming stronger. As the first-round pick described it Monday at Dove Valley, it revolves around one thing:
“Just being consistent," he said.
“After going over tapes and having my [offseason] exit interview, I have to be consistent in my pass set,” Bolles said, on a day when the rookies reported for camp. “They’re not worried about my run game. I feel like that’s my strength, to be honest with you…Just being consistent with my pass set and being consistent with my hands and my eyes…Being consistent with that is going to make me that much better of a player.”
“I think the preseason games are going to really help me just because that’s how it was at college. By the third game, I felt ready and really confident with the new offense, and that’s how I feel it’ll be here,” he said. “Watch myself from game one to game four and get ready for week one [of the regular season].”
For Bolles, the best thing for his growth will come before the preseason games, as the competition in practice will be more rigorous than the games in August.
“My position is hard. I go against Von Miller and Shane Ray and guys like that,” he said. “I’m grateful that I have to go against those guys in practice and not at the game because those guys make tackles look bad and that’s what they do.”
It won’t just be the offensive coaches and players helping Bolles develop, either. Like a great mentee often does, Miller and Ray will try to break Bolles down during practice, but then build him up after. At times during OTAs Miller was spotted coaching Bolles up on the sideline after going up against him.
“I spent a lot of time with Von Miller and Shane Ray and learning from them and Menelik Watson and Ron Leary. Those are guys I look up to a lot,” Bolles said. “I have a leader that plays center in Matt Paradis. Those guys literally help me every single day. I trust in them; I believe in them. Everything that they tell me, I just take to a whole different notch so I can be ready to play.”
After jumping Donald Stephenson in the depth chart during OTAs, Bolles will continue to stick to the strategy that got him in a 50-50 competition with Sambrailo.
“I care about myself and where I go and what I do with the guys around me,” he said. “If I don’t start, that’s my fault because I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t doing the things I needed to do. If I do what I can do, and do everything I can possible, then I have a good chance.”
While the coaching staff has been mum about a potential favorite entering camp, apparently part of the locker room hasn't been as quiet about who they would prefer protecting the quarterback's blindside.
“They drafted me for a reason. I have the ability to play this position, but not only that, but the guys around me believe in me, and they want me to play because they know I can make the team better,” he said. “As I talk to Ron, Menelik, Von, Shane Ray, Chris Harris [Jr.] and Aqib Talib, all those guys believe in me.”
With a straightforward path to the starting left tackle position in his sights and the backing of his teammates, Bolles likes his chances.
“I feel very confident going into training camp,” he said. “I really do.”