Atwater, Davis, Lynch, Mecklenburg among HOF semifinalists

Former Broncos Steve Atwater, Terrell Davis, John Lynch, and Karl Mecklenburg are among 27 semifinalists who will be considered for enshrinement in the 2013 HOF class, it was announced Friday.

The list of 27 former players, coaches, and executives will be pared to 15 finalists (plus the two Senior Committee candidates) in January, and the Class of 2013 will be chosen on Saturday, February 2, the day preceding SB 46 in New Orleans.

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Fat Camp: The multiplicity of the Broncos defense

Happy Friday, friends.  I was going to write an article today breaking down the Broncos-Bucs game, but Andy Benoit did a really good job of it yesterday for Football Outsiders, and I don’t really feel like it’s necessary to go over the same ground he just plowed.

Instead, I want to write about a topic I’ve been meaning to get to for a few weeks, which is the unusual multiplicity of the Broncos defense this year.  Two passages from the aforementioned Benoit article get to this topic.  Here is the first one that jumped out at me:

Laudable as Denver’s offense has been, it’s the defense that has this team looking like Super Bowl favorites in the AFC. It’s almost fruitless trying to analyze this scheme, as John Fox and Jack Del Rio have sprinkled it with so many different flavors. 

The Broncos are really doing a bunch of stuff on defense this year.  They’re switching their fronts, and subtly adjusting their alignments, and mixing up their coverages, and varying their blitzes.  It’s to the point that offenses can’t really get a good read on what the Broncos are doing defensively, because they’re doing a bit of everything.

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Ditching his wife for Manning led Stokley back to Broncos

Brandon Stokley knows it's good to be Peyton Manning's friend
www.usatoday.com

Manning promised Stokley tickets to the Duke-North Carolina basketball game if Stokley would come to Durham, N.C., to play catch. Stokley, after promising Lana they would reschedule the anniversary trip, accepted, even if he didn’t feel like he had much to offer…

“I never thought I would be part of the deal. I really didn’t. I never asked him for that,” Stokley said.

“That’s not why I wanted him to come here, so that I could come back. I wanted him to come here because I love watching him play, and I wanted my son to go to games and watch Peyton Manning play. I tried to sell him on the organization and the city, let him know it’s a great place to play football and raise a family.”

Anyone think Lana Stokley would take a trip to New Orleans for their 11th anniversary as a makeup for their postponed 10-year celebration?

Ray Lewis to return Week 15 against Broncos

Source: Ray Lewis back Dec. 16
espn.go.com

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, sidelined with a torn triceps, is expected to return on Dec. 16 to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, a team source told ESPN.

Back when Lewis suffered this injury, the matchup in Baltimore may have looked like just another hurdle to Denver making the playoffs. Seven weeks later, the game instead looms as a showdown that could determine whether one of these teams lands a first-round bye, or even home-field advantage throughout.

Of course, each team has two more games in the interim which could altogether change the narrative yet again, so we'll see just how big Broncos/Ravens turns out to be. But without having to go very far out on a limb, our prediction is that it will be ginormous.

Broncos win would clinch AFCW and NFCS Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Adderall has become a hot topic in the NFL this season.

A slew of players have been suspended this season for apparent abuse of the ADHD med, including Broncos tight end Virgil Green. Most players have challenged their bans, with varying levels of success. Excuses for positive tests by players have ranged from needing to stay awake during long drives, to incorrectly filed paperwork with the league, to urine sample switcheroos.

Outside theories on the rise in positive tests have included players needing a boost to trudge through their lengthy playbooks, or seeking an awareness edge during games, or covering for a more sinister substance (ie steroids) by citing the more societally acceptable Adderall.

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Open Thread: TNF Week 13 - Saints @ Falcons

Bucky Brooks, Matt Bowen, Nathan JahnkeBenjamin Hoffman, and Bill Simmons analyze the matchup; here are the inactive lists. Enjoy the game!

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Benoit: Broncos might be NFL’s best

Film Room: Broncos-Buccaneers
www.footballoutsiders.com

It’s hard to pinpoint a single player in the league more valuable than Manning. Not only has he masterfully blended his fine-tuned system with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s, he’s also quickly identified and maximized the strengths of every receiver he works with. It’s fun to see on film all the little things Manning does to make the game easy for his teammates. It’s no accident that every Broncos player has adapted so well to the new system and seems to be improving by the week.

Laudable as Denver’s offense has been, it’s the defense that has this team looking like Super Bowl favorites in the AFC. It’s almost fruitless trying to analyze this scheme, as John Fox and Jack Del Rio have sprinkled it with so many different flavors.

Benoit expects Peyton Manning to spend much of Sunday going after young Tampa Bay corners E.J. Biggers and Leonard Johnson, and to find loads of success there.

As for the defense, he sees several players operating at a Pro Bowl level in recent weeks, and he's bewildered that Tony Carter's elite coverage skills weren't discovered earlier.

Are the Raiders getting their act together?

Oakland is expected to waive Rolando McClain today, which prompted the following from Bill Williamson:

McClain never lived up to his billing on the field. He was out of shape, slow and often out of position. He didn’t show the instincts expected from a top-10 pick. He was convicted on a gun charge last year, but it was recently overturned on an appeal, according to his attorney.

The new Oakland regime was charged with salvaging McClain’s time in Oakland. He didn’t make improvements and his playing time dwindled in some games. Now, it is over.

McClain will be the 27th player to leave since new general manager Reggie McKenzie took over. Last week, fellow starting linebacker Aaron Curry was cut.

Some thoughts:

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Miller named DPOM for November

While he's being discussed among Defensive POY candidates, Von Miller, and the Broncos, continue to accumulate in-season accolades.

The dominant second-year player and 2011 DROY, who earned the Defensive POW honor for his Week 11 performance against San Diego, has been named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Month for November, it was announced today.

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2012 Broncos have outscored 2011 Broncos Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Brandon Stokley (hip, wrist) and Manny Ramirez (back) were limited in practice yesterday, while Robert Ayers was the only player absent.

Ayers is back east mourning the unexpected loss of his father, the funeral service for whom will be held on Saturday in Virginia. It would appear unlikely that Ayers would play Sunday against Tampa Bay after having missed the entire week of practice, and rookie Malik Jackson has been prepping to fill in Ayers's spot backing up Elvis Dumervil at RDE.

Tampa Bay is also in relatively good shape, with defensive tackle Roy Miller the only player to miss practice Wednesday, and starting center Ted Larsen a limited participant (both due to illness). Their biggest issue is apparently offensive line depth, and they re-signed guard Derek Hardman to help them there.

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