Two Torontonians will be helping protect Peyton Manning this season.
One of Manning’s primary protectors will be former Ontario Varsity Football League star Orlando Franklin. The 2011 second round draft pick was born in Jamaica but grew up in Toronto. The 6-foot-7, 330-pound lineman started 16 games at tackle for the Broncos as a rookie. Franklin played guard in college, and has been practicing there with the Broncos this offseason.
Fellow Torontonian Phillip Blake also looks to play a role in protecting the Broncos new star this season. Blake, a 6-foot-2, 311-pound center, played at Toronto’s Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School before an outstanding collegiate career with the Baylor Bears. Blake was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.
Clint Daly, a columnist from Bleacher Report, lists Toronto’s Phillip Blake as one of the six sleepers to watch in Broncos training camp:
“Blake was a senior All-Big 12 center at Baylor who started 38 games in his three-year career. When invited to the combine, he made the most of it, impressing scouts with his athleticism. The Broncos drafted Blake in the fourth round with the 108th pick. Two-year starter JD Walton is, undoubtedly, the incumbent starter at center, but Blake could make that race tougher than you might think. An added benefit to Blake is that he’s versatile enough to play the guard position as well. So whether it be at center or at guard, expect to see Blake make an impact on the field this season.”
According to the AP’s Arnie Stapleton,the quarterback that the two Canadians will be helping to protect drew rave reviews from his coaches and teammates after his first full practice in pads in 18 months.
Manning put on an aerial show with Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker and others Saturday morning in the latest milestone to his comeback from a nerve injury that cost him all of last season and led to his release from the Indianapolis Colts.
“It was great,” wide receiver Brandon Stokley told Stapleton. “It was like the first day of school. Football without pads, it’s not football. So, when you put the pads on, you know you’re getting close to the season.”