Broncos and Wolfe come to terms

Broncos agree to $5.2 million deal with top pick Derek Wolfe
www.denverpost.com

Derek Wolfe, the first player the Broncos selected in the NFL draft last month, has agreed to terms with the team on a four-year, $5.2 million contract.  A defensive tackle from Cincinnati, Wolfe was selected with the No. 36 overall pick in the second round. He did not participate in the Broncos organized team activity (OTA) workout Monday because rules say his college class must complete graduation first. Wolfe played his college ball at the University of Cincinnati, which doesn’t graduate its 2012 class until June 9.

That means Wolfe will miss all three of the Broncos’ OTA sessions.

The power of the new CBA continues to pay dividends, at least for the teams.  These new rookie contracts--aside from being much less expensive--really cut down the signing period by a country mile.

What to make of the three practices Wolfe will miss?  Absolutely nothing.  It's three days in which he won't pull a hamstring.

I'll save my Pulp Fiction and Duran Duran references for another day, but I am willing to point out that the Chiefs wear red, and Matt Cassel looks a lot like Little Red Riding Hood.

Scouting the Broncos: RB Ronnie Hillman

Highlight film is notoriously useless for evaluating players since by its nature it’s focused on the best that the player can do and usually (although this seems to be changing, which I like) avoids their errors and weaknesses. Even with these limitations, there are things that stand out in the below video of new Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman. Taken with the fourth pick in the third round after a move up the board, the selection of Hillman confounded a lot of Denver fans. It hasn’t taken long to see the potential advantages that he brings to the Broncos.

For one, his shorter natural height is benefited by his tendency to run with a good pad level. He does run high from time to time, and if that doesn't change in the NFL, he’ll get to deal with the consequences. However - if you look at the number of tackles that he breaks, you get an immediate impression that for a somewhat smaller, lighter player, this is a kid (and at only 20, he is still a kid) who runs with surprising power and authority. He’s skilled at obtaining yards after the catch and it’s hard to argue with his production of 36 TDs and 3,243 yards in only two years of college. I don’t care what conference he was in - that’s serious production.

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The Daily Lard 5-21-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's first set of OTAs will run from today through Wednesday, with more to come next week, and the last a week after that. These are voluntary in nature, so it will be interesting to see who shows up for the Broncos. What of Matt Prater ($2.6M franchise tag, unsigned) and Ty Warren (asked to take a significant cut from $4M), who are reportedly unhappy with their contract situations?

Today will mark the next "first" time Denver's coaches get to see Peyton Manning working with his new teammates, and what will they see? Respected analyst Chris Brown isn't so sure - whether Manning will be able to play up to his old level, or whether the Denver coaching staff is up to snuff. Will Mike McCoy show enough trust in Manning to duplicate the simplicity of the Colts offense? Can the two meld their personalities quickly enough to reprise the successes Manning had with Tom Moore?

Of course, it will be several months before we know the answers to those questions.

In the meantime, Brown offers his breakdown of the Indy offense as constructed by Moore and run by PMFM, including 12 passing concepts. It's a perfect complement to Ted's series on the topic.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 5-21-12"

Another reason to appreciate the Oakland Raiders

Deep thoughts, cheap shots & bon mots ...
www.sfgate.com

The Raiders’ new regime gets its first test with linebacker Rolando McClain, recently sentenced to 180 days in jail. If Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen are serious about building with character, they’ll ease McClain out of the Raiders’ mix, making an eloquent statement: “That’s not how we roll.”

Hey kids, remember that time when the Broncos were thinking about drafting Rolando McClain at #11 in the 2010 Draft?

Me, too. Thankfully, the Oakland Raiders took that decision out of Josh McDaniels's hands and took McClain at #8.

The debate at the time was whether McClain's Crohn's Disease (did he have it or didn't he?) would affect him on the field.  As it turns out, there were bigger concerns, like McClain's penchant for discharging firearms.

Don't count on Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen purging McClain from the Raiders just yet, however.  McClain is only 23, and although he's been pretty average so far in his career, they're not about to divest themselves of the only decent linebacker they've got, unless you count Aaron Turmeric Curry as a viable option.

No matter how the Raiders play this one, you can bet on one thing: it's good for the Denver Broncos.

The Daily Lard 5-20-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mark Kiszla thinks Rod Smith falls a bit short of HOF worthiness (agreed), but he also believes the Broncos should retire his #80.

Yet, with offseason rosters expanded to 90 players these days, retiring numbers gets to be a matter of (im)practicality. Eventually, you start running out of numbers to use, even though you can always unretire a number whenever you bring in a GOAT like PMFM.

Were Smith's number to be retired, what about that of Shannon Sharpe? Smith's practice squad teammate Tom Nalen? They both meant as much to Denver's successes, and as seventh-round picks, the unlikelihood of their personal achievements is almost as impressive as what Smith overcame. And had Mike Shanahan kept his own hubris in check and not allowed Shannon to walk in 2000, all three would be exclusively Denver Broncos.

Denver's Ring of Fame is an exclusive enough club, with Smith set to become the team's 23rd inductee. Let's worry about honoring every deserving Bronco before we consider elevating them to John Elway's level.

Continue reading "The Daily Lard 5-20-12"

Broncos and Ryan Clady talking extension

Broncos, Ryan Clady begin to address contract extension
www.denverpost.com

The Broncos have opened contract-extension talks with Ryan Clady, according to several NFL sources.

The left tackle is in the final year of his deal that will pay him $3.5 million in 2012. The franchise tag for left tackles this season was $9.4 million.

While the Broncos and Clady’s agent are talking, it may be a while before the two sides are close to an agreement.

This move by the Broncos is a prudent one.  While Clady isn't the Hall of Famer he appeared in his first season, he's probably among the top ten left tackles in the league today.  And, as Klis notes, Clady entered the league as a dominant pass blocker.  He's much more adept at run blocking now. 

Like shutdown cornerbacks, left tackles don't grow on trees.   If Clady can stay off the basketball court, this move is a no brainer.

Put Simon Fletcher in the Ring of Fame before Broncos fans puke

The Broncos added one of the all-time greats to their Ring of Fame earlier in the week in the form of wide receiver (and Eddie Kennison's tormentor) Rod Smith.

I should have enjoyed the announcement more than I did: Smith is my personal all-time favorite Denver Bronco. Unfortunately, all the announcement did was remind me that Simon Fletcher, the Broncos' all-time sack leader, is not in Mr. Smith's company; further, it makes me wonder if the Broncos' organization thinks we're all that stupid.

It makes me want to puke--even more than Jim Saccomano's twitter feed.

Can you think of one good reason Fletcher should be excluded from the Ring of Fame?  I can't, and it appears as if John Elway can't either.  As Mike Klis wrote last month, there was a press conference in which the current Broncos exec, and former teammate of Fletcher, actually believed for a few minutes that Fletcher had been elected.  Elway said at the time:

“Perfect. He’s a guy that was a great player and a guy I really enjoyed having as a teammate. He was a great football, a guy with a great sense of humor and a great teammate but a good man, too. I’m thrilled for Simon, it’s a well-deserved honor because he did have so many great years for the Broncos back in the late 80s early 90s. He was a guy, second round draft pick? Really did a great job. I’m really happy for Simon. An honor well deserved.”

Continue reading "Put Simon Fletcher in the Ring of Fame before Broncos fans puke"

The Daily Lard 5-19-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Former CU Buffs and Patriots LB Ted Johnson, who retired in 2005 due to the after effects of the head injuries he suffered in his 10 years in the league, spoke at a conference on pediatric concussions at Boston Children's Hospital yesterday.

During his 30-minute speech, Johnson said he suffered 100-150 concussions during his career, and he told the conference he's certain that head injuries played a role in the suicide of Junior Seau:

It's corrode or explode. And it all exploded by killing (himself). You can't tell me the head trauma he had over his career didn't affect him. That was the tip of the tipping point for me. ... It makes you take inventory on your own mortality. If that can happen to him, I've got to be more diligent in how I live my life. 'Cause it's a road I don't want to go down.

The ex-LB hopes players will be more forthcoming about their own head injuries, admitting that he "felt compelled to play against doctors' orders" by coach Bill Belichick in 2002.

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Who’s gonna smoke some weed tonight? Your favorite NFL player, that’s who

Brown: At least 50 percent of NFL players smoke pot
www.nfl.com

Lomas Brown, now an ESPN analyst, claims at least 50 percent of NFL players likely smoke marijuana, according to a report in the Detroit News. “I just don’t think you’ll be able to curb this,” Brown told the newspaper. In Brown’s eyes, this is actually an improvement. Brown claims up to 90 percent of players league-wide smoked marijuana when he began his career with the Lions in 1985.  It falls in line with some recent findings:

• Four out of 10 draft-eligible prospects from the 2012 class failed at least one school-administered drug test for marijuana; two in 10 failed multiple times, per a CBS Sports report from April.

• “About 70 percent” of prospects at the combine admitted to using marijuana, per an ESPN report.

• A 2009 report by the NCAA stated 26.7 percent of all football players admitted using marijuana over the past 12 months, the highest number of any athlete group they surveyed.

You'd think the boys down at the league office would realize the opportunity that sits in front of them.  If they can shift attention away from concussions and to purging of the deadly evil that is The Chronic out of our national pastime, they might just buy themselves a few years from public scorn over players' pensions, too.

Check yourself, Roger Goodell, before you wreck yourself.  Or better yet, get out your bong and groove to one of the better pot-smoking songs you'll ever find right here and now:

Broncos sign 5th rounder Malik Jackson

Per the official Twitter page of the Denver Broncos:

The Broncos have signed DE Malik Jackson, the second 2012 draft pick to sign with the team.

So that's two down and five to go. A day before, the Broncos took care of Omar Bolden--not in a Sopranos way, mind you, but in a hey, rookie, you can carry these sweaty jockstraps to the laundry room now way.

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