Ryan Lilja is trading the couch for camp, as the Denver Broncos have wooed the 31-year-old center out of retirement.
The Broncos and Lilja, who officially retired from the game after last season, have agreed to a one-year deal, the team announced Wednesday.
Center is still a relatively new position for the ninth-year pro, who started primarily at guard until last season, but he’ll have a familiar face behind him on the Broncos offense. A former Indianapolis Colt, Lilja spent the first five years of his career playing alongside current Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
Bringing in Lilja fills a desperate need for the Broncos, whose top two centers are currently inactive due to injury. J.D. Walton is still recovering from a broken ankle suffered back in Week 4 of last season, and former Patriots center Dan Koppen, who started the remainder of last season in Walton’s absence, tore his ACL on Saturday.
Manning has been taking snaps this week from Manny Ramirez (no, not that Manny Ramirez), who started 11 games at guard for Denver last season.
Lilja has appeared in 111 games (104 starts) over his eight-year career and was a member of Indianapolis’ Super Bowl XLI championship team.