Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Yesterday morning's practice (photos, more photos) was essentially the final one of training camp, as the team will be on a schedule resembling that of the regular season going forward.
Ty Warren was back in action after missing two days for personal reasons; Tracy Porter (illness), Ronnie Hillman (hamstring), Danny Trevathan (ankle), Keith Brooking (hamstring), Jim Leonhard (knee) remained sidelined, while Kevin Vickerson (concussion) left early.
WR Matthew Willis and DE Jamie Blatnick were standouts, and Peyton Manning spent extra time working in the red zone with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Brandon Stokley.
Warren and fellow defensive tackles Justin Bannan, Derek Wolfe, and Mitch Unrein all worked with the first team, and Manny Ramirez again took a few snaps with the starting offense at center; Drayton Florence took Porter's place opposite Champ Bailey, who was back practicing after a day off.
Don't tell me how passionate you are; don't tell me how orange and blue your blood is; don't show me your faded tattoo. You want to prove once and for all you're a Broncos fan? Put out your damn eye and prove you're a real fan. Like this guy who loves the Chiefs:
Elway says Broncos' Manning throwing ball better than ever
“He’s throwing the post route and everything well,’’ Elway said. “I went back and looked at film from 2010 and 2009 to get a comparison of Peyton, and he looks to me to be the same guy throwing now that he was then.
“The ball is coming out quicker all the time the more and more time he gets with the offense and getting to know all his receivers and tight ends. ... That’s always been his style. He’s never been the Nolan Ryan of quarterbacks anyway. He’s always throwns the ball with great anticipation and touch.”
Obviously humility is the more societally acceptable choice, but don't you wish JE would have said, "That's always been his style. After all, he's not me"? He also clearly was too kind to Jay Cutler when the then-kitten claimed to have a stronger arm than the Duke.
My previous two looks at the Broncos' preseason-opening win over the Bears covered big plays from rookies Danny Trevathan and Steven Johnson. You could easily see how the design of each play facilitated their success - provided the linebackers were alert, quick, and effective enough. They were, and if those are the backups, it could be a fun year.
For our next analysis, I’d like to take on a similar play that was successful due to the pure effort of one player - defensive end Jeremy Beal.
A disappointing Combine dropped Jeremy to the seventh round of the 2011 Draft, and Denver's depth at the position relegated the former Sooner to the practice squad last year.
Of course, he's still stuck behind Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers, and Von Miller slides over to a DE function on most passing/nickel downs. Jason Hunter was threatening to think people into the corn fields until he tore his triceps, and now Derek Wolfe is at Hunter’s position - Beal’s task in making the squad isn’t easy, but just improved.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The injury to Jason Hunter, which will undoubtedly land him on IR (few players are good enough to waste a roster spot on for a majority of the season), opened a door at defensive end yesterday.
But it wasn't the most obvious man (Robert Ayers, last year's starting LDE) who received the opportunity. Rather, it was second-round pick Derek Wolfe, who has already been working with the top nickel unit at tackle; now he'll be doing double duty.
Meanwhile, the injury to Chris Kuper has Manny Ramirez filling in at right guard, and during yesterday's practice (video, more video, photos, more photos) Ramirez also worked some at center. In those instances, Orlando Franklin also shifted leftward, with Chris Clark taking his spot at right tackle.
Good Evening, Broncos fans! DE Jason Hunter underwent surgery today on his torn triceps, and the timeline for his recovery is double the original prognosis of two months, meaning his season is likely already over.
Chris Kuper also had surgery to repair the broken forearm bone he suffered in Tuesday's disastrous practice. The starting right guard is expected to be out six weeks, which would cause him to miss the first three games of Denver's season.
The team shed the pads for Wednesday's practice and was also without Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter, Keith Brooking, Danny Trevathan, Ronnie Hillman, Tyler Grisham, and Ty Warren.
Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams was found guilty by a jury today of driving while ability impaired and without headlights during a November 2010 incident.
The ninth-year player is already facing a six-game suspension for submitting a non-human urine sample for PED testing, and is likely to receive further punishment for this latest conviction. Williams pleaded guilty to charges of DWAI in a 2005 case, and the NFL tends to issue lengthier bans to repeat offenders of the personal conduct policy.
As the preseason predictions abound, one point seems to come up repeatedly. Can Denver stop the run? Khaled Elsayed talked about it over at Pro Football Focus:
The unquestioned star of the Broncos defensive line (if you ask me anyway) in 2011 was Brodrick Bunkley. The wrecking ball of a defensive tackle has moved onto the Saints had our highest run defense grade of the year for any defensive tackle (+28.4) and he did it while being limited to base packages. With Bunkley now gone the lineup is going to consist of Ty Warren, Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe, none of whom can do what Bunkley was able to do.
Take Warren, he’s a talented player but hasn’t played a snap since the 2009 season. Justin Bannan is a solid rotational player coming off a good year, but nowhere near as destructive as Bunkley. And, even if rookie Wolfe takes the league by storm he’s a different type of tackle, so it’s hard to see how Denver will replace that production. Considering it’s an area they need to improve, letting Bunkley go could prove costly.
This is an interesting question, and the answers won’t come before the season starts. There’s been a lot of talk about the potential problems for the Broncos in stopping the run due to the loss of Bunkley. I have a somewhat different perspective on this issue. Given the roster changes, I’m not sure that losing Bunkley is the tragedy that some have suggested.
Happy Wednesday, friends. Here I go for the third day in a row. Yay! I left work at 5pm yesterday, which is rare, because it was primary election day in Florida. I live an hour from work, so in order to go vote, I had to get out on time, and hustle.
To my pleasant surprise, Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan of Sirius XM NFL Radio were at Dove Valley for Broncos training camp. I always like when they talk to football people, because coaches and players tend to open up to them a lot more than they do with other media. The difference is really clear with a guy like Bill Belichick, who obviously feels that telling regular idiot media anything of substance is a waste of time and breath, but that telling Tim & Pat some substantive things is worthwhile, because they know what he means. It’s a very similar phenomenon with John Fox, who appears on Movin’ the Chains every Tuesday evening during the season.
Sirius isn’t so good about making a lot of audio available online, so Doug asked me to paraphrase some of the things I heard, which included some good insight, much of which tended to confirm our speculation.