Broncos offensive lineman Chris Kuper retiring after struggling with an ankle injury

Kuper was 5th round pick in 2006

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Broncos offensive lineman Chris Kuper is retiring after struggling with an ankle injury the last two seasons.

Kuper, a fifth-round pick in Denver's 2006 draft, started 79 games at guard over eight seasons.

"I'd like to thank Mr. Bowlen, John Elway, Coach Fox and the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play for the Broncos," Kuper said in a statement provided by the team. "I'm also appreciative of Mike Shanahan for drafting me and bringing me into this organization back in 2006. So many people have supported me during my career, including all my teammates and coaches, my parents, David and Tina, and especially my wife, Cynthia."

He dislocated his left ankle in the last game of the 2011 regular season, and though he started another seven games after that, he never returned to his previous level.

"Chris Kuper had a strong impact on this organization during his eight years in Denver," Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said in a statement provided by the team. "He was a great Bronco whose toughness and grit made us better. I congratulate Chris on his outstanding NFL career and wish him well in his retirement from football."

"Kup' consistently demonstrated the type of leadership you look for in a team captain," Broncos Head Coach John Fox said. "He earned the respect of his teammates and coaches for his dedication to the game."

Kuper was the last player left on the Denver roster from a 2006 draft class that included Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil.

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