photo - Broncos guard Ben Garland, an Air Force Academy Graduate, celebrates with Miles the Broncos mascot following Denver't 47-14 win over the Raiders Sunday, December 28, 2014 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Broncos guard Ben Garland, an Air Force Academy Graduate, celebrates with Miles the Broncos mascot following Denver't 47-14 win over the Raiders Sunday, December 28, 2014 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

This isn't on the Broncos, who gave an undrafted free agent every opportunity to make their practice squad, then their 53-man squad.

This isn't on Ben Garland, who took that opportunity, repped the franchise at every charity event he was invited to and several that he wasn't, beat the coaches to the practice facility almost daily, and made the most of it.

This is mostly a product of circumstance: the Broncos learned they have better options at left guard and didn't pursue Garland for a spot on their practice squad. So Garland, the pride of Grand Junction and Air Force, is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

Garland was signed to Atlanta's practice squad this morning, his representation said. He's been a Falcon before, for four seasons at Air Force and two serving in the Air Force. A native Coloradan with friends and family nearby, he wanted to remain a Bronco.

"He's the kind of guy you want your daughter to marry," general manager John Elway said. "Any time you let a guy like that go, it's tough." 

This was a vicious, cutthroat August for Garland. He opened training camp as the starter at left guard. By the fourth preseason game, in which the starters didn't play, he was a backup, and the writing was scribbled in highlighter on the Dove Valley walls.

Can't blame effort, though. That's for sure. He swapped positions midstream, moving from a 275-ish pound defensive lineman to a 310-pound offensive line because the Broncos asked him to. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said he would never bet against Garland "in football, or life in general," but acknowledged Garland's challenge would be pass-blocking. 

That part was all new.

The ascension of Max Garcia, plus the arrival of Evan Mathis, shut the door on Garland with the Broncos. Fun while it lasted, though. Seeing a Colorado guy soak in the bizarre atmosphere at Super Bowl XLVIII media day was a highlight. (Strangest dream he's ever had: "I was riding a dinosaur.") But mostly he's been the perfect example of a balanced professional, turning his free time into time for others. Big Ben never said no.

Plus, he still loathes Army and Navy, and there's something to be said for a man who sticks to his principles.

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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