Manning era begins in earnest Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I had intended to kick off the season with an extremely thorough version of the Lard, but car issues (the third of our road trip) have us stuck in Beantown for what is hopefully a matter of hours.

Travel problems aside, it's been a great mental break for me, and Ted did a real bang-up job of keeping you posted on the news. I hope you've appreciated his fine work here as much as I have.

Anyway, we're just a few hours away from the early kickoffs on the first Sunday of the 2012 season. The Broncos have thankfully been spared the usual early road game as dictated by CB$'s coverage of the US Open men's final, so we (you) all get to enjoy a full day of football before watching the Broncos and the debut of PMFM without the distraction of other games.

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Cold, cruel world: Broncos release Hanie

Broncos release Caleb Hanie; Brock Osweiler No. 2 QB
www.denverpost.com

In a move to help maintain budget flexibility for later in the season, the Broncos released backup quarterback Caleb Hanie on Saturday. He was replaced on the 53-man roster by defensive tackle Sealver Siliga who was promoted from the practice squad.

Hanie was released so his $1 million base salary would not be guaranteed. The Broncos also avoided paying him a $250,000 bonus for making the active game day roster. Don’t be surprised if Hanie is re-signed by the Broncos on Tuesday.

Death, taxes, and roster axes.

Last Lard from me

Happy Saturday, friends.  Doug will be back tomorrow, but for one last day, you're stuck with me.  News-wise, it's the calm before the storm, but tomorrow, stuff's about to get real.  For today, you draftnik types can watch some college ball, and start dreaming on this dude or that dude.  I liked what I saw of Utah's DT Star Lotulelei last night, but hopefully, the Broncos aren't picking in the Top 5, and don't have a chance to take him.  Let's start calling this stuff out - who do you like from the Saturday games?

For tomorrow's game, it looks less and less like James Harrison will play.  That will rob the Broncos and their fans of knowing how Peyton Manning's neck will hold up to a hit from the greatest neck-tester in the world.  It may be until the postseason before we know how the neck will manage a hit from Harrison, maybe later, if the Steelers don't make the playoffs, like I expect.

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A Second Helping of Von Miller vs San Francisco

One of the goals that Von Miller has set for his sophomore NFL season is to improve both his run defense and pass coverage.

We’ve already looked at a run play where he showed that improvement - now let’s take a peek at some simple things that he - and the rest of the Broncos - have done to improve in pass defense.

13:39 remains in the second quarter of the preseason game against San Francisco, and the 49ers have scored a touchdown in response to 17 straight points from the Broncos.

If things go well this season, Denver will be facing a lot of obvious passing downs in just such a position - playing with a lead while the opponent tries to get back into the game. It’s 3rd and 6, and the 49ers have driven deep into Broncos territory - they’re on the 15-yard line, and they are seeking either a touchdown or a first down.

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Lard with a ponytail

Happy Friday, friends.  Doug's still vacationing, I'm still pretending to fill his shoes, and from the looks of our numbers, y'all are still reading us.  Fridays are pretty awesome, so we're going to start with something that's extremely awesome.  My favorite ESPN personality John Clayton, as you've never seen him before.  (Unless you saw this video yesterday.

I knock ESPN, because they employ annoying jackasses like Clayton and Chris Berman, and because I think they generally underachieve despite massive resources.  That's the best This is SportsCenter I've seen in a long time, though.  Devil its due.

Who's excited for a full slate of NFL action this weekend?  You know I am.  Let's get to all the news that printed to fit.

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More half-assed Lard

Happy Thursday, friends.  I'm an up-early, tired SOB today, after flipping between the Giants-Cowboys and Bill Clinton's speech last night.  I had one thing on, and kind of watched the play-by-play of the other on Twitter.  I like the Big Dog, and I like football too, so I wanted to catch some of both.  It struck me how natural it felt to experience two events simultaneously, and how it's easy to forget that you couldn't really do that even five years ago.  I'll be interested to see how the ratings looked for both things.  The NFL played last night, instead of Thursday, because they didn't want to go up against the President's speech, but Clinton is a pretty big draw himself.  I wonder how the ratings captures somebody like me, who watched both events.

In football news, the Cowboys had an impressive performance, and won 24-17 over the Super Bowl champion Giants.  Tony Romo made key plays at big moments, and RB DeMarco Murray, WR Kevin Ogletree, and CBs Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne impressed for the Cowboys.  The Giants got off to a slow start offensively, and were hurt by an early Victor Cruz drop on third down, and a fumble by rookie RB David Wilson.

Trailing 24-10, the Giants scored a TD with 2:36 remaining, and had two timeouts and the two-minute warning.  On third-and-1, Murray ran for a first down around left end, but a holding penalty was correctly called, giving the Cowboys 3rd-and-11, and a strong chance for a stop.  Romo hit Ogletree on a 13-yard slant to effectively end the game.  Give Romo and the Cowboys credit for making the plays they needed to make to win a game.

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You Got Served: Thoughts on the AFC South and AFC West

Happy Football Wednesday, friends.  I’m back with some thoughts today on 2 more divisions, and my plan remains to stick to the following schedule.

Tuesday: AFC East, AFC North

Wednesday: AFC South, AFC West

Thursday: NFC East, NFC North

Friday: NFC South, NFC West

Tonight, the season kicks off with the Giants playing the Cowboys.  Also, Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Convention.  Joe’s comments 4 years ago in Denver went a long way toward getting the dumbasses on the Hall of Fame veterans committee to consider his Syracuse classmate Floyd Little, and ultimately, to elect him.  Whether you like his politics or not, it was cool to see a Vice Presidential nominee, and soon-to-be Vice President, take up for a great Bronco, and help right an egregious wrong.  I don’t think Joe knows Randy Gradishar, though, so if you want to just watch tonight’s game, that’s cool. 

Edit - 7:52 PM :  Biden doesn't speak until Thursday night.  My mistake - I should have checked before I used his speech to set up my joke/complaint about Randy Gradishar.  TB

Anyway, on to analyzing a couple of divisions.  I promised the AFC South and the AFC West, and I’m going to deliver.  Ready… BEGIN!!

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A Second Helping of Elvis Dumervil vs San Francisco

Jack Del Rio has made no bones about it - he wants to increase the defense’s pressure on opposing offensive lines.

That pressure will affect the passing game by sacking, hurrying, and harassing the quarterback, making the job of the secondary easier. It also affects the run game, creating more tackles for loss, and more hits and tackles made at or near the line of scrimmage. Even in the simplified world of preseason football, the approaches Denver will take showed glimpses of themselves.

For a prime example, let's review a sack from two weeks ago by Elvis Dumervil against the 49ers and QB Alex Smith.

With 10:36 to go in the first quarter, the 49ers are down 3-0 and facing third and six - a tough down to achieve - and usually an obvious passing down. The 49ers are in a shotgun 11 formation with three wideouts, and Frank Gore alongside quarterback Alex Smith in the backfield.

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Poor substitute Lard, quickie style

I'm filling in for Doug, who is taking his first break from doing the Lard ever, in the two years of IAOFM's existence.  You know Doug, you love Doug - and I'm no Doug.  Think of this as a weakened strain of the Lard, administered to you so as to prevent withdrawal symptoms, like methadone. 

John Elway and Matt Russell chatted with Broncos fans for the official site Tuesday.  There's a lot of good stuff there, including comments by Russell on his scouting process, and compliments for Derek Wolfe, Ronnie Hillman, and Knowshon Moreno.  Russell had a weird comment about having signed Ryan Clady, toward the end of the article, unless I missed something.

Man, the internet at my office is slow this morning.  Either that, or the Denver Post's site sucks.  Mike Klis has an interesting look at Peyton Manning's mental game.  Usually, i don't bother reading Klis, but I did so out of duty today, and i'm glad I did.

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Leonhard, Bolden top returners Lard

Good Evening, Broncos fans! The team has updated its depth chart today, with some notable changes:

- Knowshon Moreno has taken his rightful place as the primary backup to Willis McGahee - passing Lance Ball, who is now listed as third-string.

- Jim Leonhard is the #1 punt returner, with Eric Decker backing him up.

- Omar Bolden is the top kickoff returner, with Andre Caldwell next in line.

On a programming note, I will be away from the keyboard for a few days, and will leave you in the capable hands of my fellow IAOFM writers. See you on Sunday, and enjoy the rest of your week!

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