Broncos camp notes through Day 5: Offense

Of training camp performance evaluations, Denver's new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has said,

Really...right now you can't put too much stock in the depth chart.

Offense or defense, he’s right. You can’t write a camp update without talking about how the players are doing, but in the first week of camp, it’s good to remember that many of the updates are describing what will not be permanent moves.

There’s a long way to go, and the team is going to try plenty of different looks; several won’t mean much over time. Some guys are getting looked at for positions that they will take over as the preseason unwinds, but many of the changes are just ways of exploring options. What’s more important right now is watching to see what the players have as their strengths and weaknesses when going up against each other, to decide who fits where. Next Thursday, the players will get to show how far they’ve come in Chicago against the Bears, who have improved their team since the 2011 season.

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Back to the grind Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Healthy players got the day off yesterday (those nursing injuries had to come in for treatment) and return to practice this afternoon morning. Camp only began last Thursday, but Saturday already brings the team's annual scrimmage at SAF@MH, and the team heads to Chicago next Wednesday, and will open their preseason against the Bears a night later.

Roster decisions are still about four weeks away though, as first cuts (down to 80 from 90) don't arrive until August 28. So players still have plenty of time to prove their worth.

So far, rookies Brock Osweiler and Danny Trevathan have stood out to both Andrew Mason and Jeff Legwold. Mason has also been impressed by Mitch Unrein, but he says Caleb Hanie and Nate Irving have struggled, while Matt Willis may be relegated to trying to make the team primarly as a kick returner. Legwold metes praise out to rookies Derek Wolfe and Ronnie Hillman, and he says guards Austin Wuebbels and Wayne Tribue each appear to have a chance to stick around.

Updated 9:44am ET

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Was Virgil Green’s suspension really triggered by ADHD meds?

We've recently been quite critical of the NFL for the manner in which it has punished players who have failed PED tests and subsequently blamed doctor-approved ADHD medications.

The differing suspension lengths and seemingly inconsistent handling of subsequent appeals had caught our attention. Psychiatrist claims that individuals who lack a clinical need for ADHD meds have nothing to gain by taking them, only confirmed our suspicions.

Today, yet another player was suspended four games for PED use and proclaimed his innocence via the ADHD excuse. Giants safety Tyler Sash says he's been taking Adderall under a doctor's care, and claims it was that medication that tripped up his PED test.

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Translation: Three-year offer was hangup on three-year offer

Reports Mike Klis:

The guarantee in the first three years of a proposed contract extension was a primary hang up Ryan Clady and and his negotiating team had with the Broncos’ five-year, $50 million offer, according to an NFL source.

Obviously, we're not at all surprised that the issue with these stalled negotiations was the guaranteed portion of Denver's contract offer. After all, that's all that ever really matters in the NFL - except to the agents, who want glittery total and average annual values with which to bedazzle their own resumes.

It cannot ever be stated enough - always look at the guaranteed money and how it's distributed, and you have the real value of an NFL contract. Everything beyond that tends to amount to an annual option held exclusively by the team.

Let's re-examine a pair of notable Denver deals to explain:

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Expecting to manage: The 2012 Broncos as Super Bowl contenders

Friends, Coloradans, non-Coloradans, ninnies, lend me your eyes.  I finally made some time to write about football, and I also feel semi-motivated to do so, so I decided to throw a couple thousand words at you, like we were on a date. I’m springing for McDonald’s, going all Andrew “Dice” Clay with it.  I know what you’re thinking – yes, that does make you the heavyset woman in this deal.  Yum – Big Mac.

Since training camp has begun, it seems appropriate to start talking about current events.  This was supposed to be the year I went to Dove Valley for a few days to see it for myself, but with changing jobs a month ago, that wasn’t in the cards.  Next year, I guess. 

Anyway, I was watching NFLN the other day, and they seem to be featuring Heath Evans in a lot of their programming lately.  I can’t really figure out why – all this dude talks about is what it’s like to play for Sean Payton and Bill Belichick.  It seems like that’s the extent of his available insight.  While I respect both coaches, I think there’s a lot more to football than the way they do things.

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Trevathan, Osweiler developing nicely Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday's practice (highlights, John Foxphotos) saw Denver break out their no-huddle offense, with Peyton Manning typically sharp; the only incompletions resulted from drops by receivers.

Danny Trevathan, who's been receiving guidance from D.J. Williams and Karl Mecklenburg, made his first appearance with the starting base defense.

C.J. Davis continues to work as the backup to center J.D. Walton. For the first time, Derek Wolfe lined up at tackle in the team's top nickel package. Like Jeff Legwold, Andrew Mason has generally been impressed by Brock Osweiler, whom he suggests could be leading the competition to back Manning up.

CB Joshua Moore injured a hamstring, while it sounds like Omar Bolden may have suffered a concussion, if our Fox translator is working correctly.

The evening walkthrough was apparently rather laidback and uneventful ahead of today's day off; the team will scrimmage at SAF@MH on Saturday.

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Broncos, Clady halt contract talks

According to Mike Klis, the Broncos and the representatives for Ryan Clady agreed to put off talks on a long-term contract until after the 2012 season.

Klis reports the team has not improved upon the contract offer made public a week ago and which included $28M in guarantees.

But as we've noted before, the Broncos have in their corner most of the leverage in this situation. They will pay the left tackle a bargain basement-level $3.5M salary in this final year of his rookie contract, and they will have the option of using their franchise tag on him next offseason. The tag for offensive tackles is worth $9.3M this season, and is unlikely to increase significantly by next year. If the two sides were still unable to agree to a deal after the 2013 season, Denver would have the ability to retain Clady with a 20% raise over that tag value, or $11.16M based upon that current $9.3M figure.

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Knowshon fully cleared Lard

Good afternoon, Broncos fans! Once again, the team practiced this morning in pads and in front of more than 4,000 fans (photos), with Quinton Carter (hamstring), Orlando Franklin (concussion), and Justin Bannan (calf) still sidelined due to injury.

Knowshon Moreno was cleared to join full-squad drills, although he is admittedly not quite 100% as of yet.

On offense, Peyton Manning and Brandon Stokley excelled, while the defense earned its own praise in stopping the running game. Champ Bailey and Brock Osweiler  elicited glowing reviews from Jeff Legwold.

The team will have another private walkthrough this evening, and their first day off tomorrow.

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Happy Birthday, Sweetness

It creeps up on me every year: last Wednesday was Walter Payton’s birthday, and that’s something I like to celebrate.

He would have been 58.

Walter was cut down far too early of a rare autoimmune liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis, which may have led to his cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). But it’s his birth, rather than his death, that I like to remember. Somehow, I will always recall Payton as a man in his prime, exuberantly full of life.

He was not the first great running back I ever saw. I’ve been watching football for over five decades now, and I’ve seen a lot of the great backs, including watching Gale Sayers at Wrigley Field when I was still small.

Back then, football was just discovering the power of television to capture viewers with new angles and shots. They were starting to follow the players who controlled the path of the ball, finding new perspectives to show the big hits and big plays, so running backs got an increasing amount of airtime. I watched so many great ones - Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Eric Dickerson. More recently, I’ve gotten to enjoy the power and skill of Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, LaDainian Tomlinson and countless others.  Payton was perhaps the best of them all, and for far more reasons than just his running skills. They called him ‘Sweetness’, and he was every bit of that.

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Bill Barnwell eschews context for hyperbole in explaining his Broncos bet

A crystal ball is not required to predict the 2012 Broncos will struggle to reach the 9.5-win threshold set for them by the folks in Vegas. It will be a continuing theme around here that Denver faces some serious question marks.

But citing the historical precedent of teams whose records outperform their point differentials, like Bill Barnwell does, is a bit much.

We're no strangers to the fact that last season, Denver's 8-8 record exceeded their expected 5.8-10.2 record as suggested by their paltry 309 points for and subpar 390 points against.

But we'll continue to argue that the poor point differential owed more to the lack of a functioning quarterback than anything else. 309 points is a pittance, and was even aided by five non-offensive touchdowns (only four teams got a higher cut of their touchdowns from other units).

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