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Matt Lehr


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Denver has begun preliminary contract discussions with the agent representing free-agent guard Matt Lehr, who visited the Broncos on Monday before heading to Atlanta.

The Broncos, Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals are believed to be the front-runners for Lehr's services in a dwindling guard market. But the Bengals' interest likely is contingent on whether they're able to retain center Rich Braham. Lehr, a natural center, also might visit the Houston Texans.

Lehr, 25, played last season for the St. Louis Rams. He began his career with the Dallas Cowboys and started 20 games there but, at 6-foot-2, 293 pounds, apparently fell shy of the physical profile desired by coach Bill Parcells.

But Lehr's quickness and tenacity fit Denver's zone-blocking scheme.

The Broncos envision Lehr as a potential candidate for their vacancy at right guard, created by the release of veteran Dan Neil. P.J. Alexander also will get an opportunity to win the starting job. Lehr's ability to play the pivot is a bonus, considering starting center Tom Nalen is entering his 12th NFL season.

There remains a chance Denver could retain Cooper Carlisle and give him that same opportunity. The Broncos have a standing offer on the table to Carlisle, a free agent who visited the Falcons on Monday.

Carlisle is expecting a contract proposal today from Atlanta.

ETC.: Former Broncos quarterback Gus Frerotte, who would be an option for a backup job in Denver once again if the team is unable to land Jeff Garcia this week, visited the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday. Garcia was in Seattle and met with Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren on Tuesday. Garcia said Monday as he completed his trip in Denver he hoped to make a decision by the end of the week and that the trip to Seattle would be his last . . .

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