The Daily Lard 5-22-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Freeman dropped something of a bombshell yesterday regarding the league's handling of the Saints' bounty system.

As told to Freeman by several Saints players, the NFL's suspension letters to Sean Payton, Gregg Williams, Joe Vitt, and Mickey Loomis essentially offers them a way back into the league in exchange for their silence.

These players believe the NFL has little or no evidence of a bounty system in New Orleans, and that much of the punishment was levied in response to the recording of Williams's notorious pregame speech from last season.

They also maintain that the league has overblown the supposed admissions of Williams and Anthony Hargrove, claiming the NFL wrote Williams's confession and that Hargrove did not acknowledge the existence of a bounty system, as the NFL has alleged.

Obviously this is just one side of the story, and it could be a coordinated PR stunt by a still-defiant team. Or, there could be some truth to it and the NFL is handling this all like a bunch of dirty cops trying to show they care about player safety. Hopefully we'll learn the truth one of these days.

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The next battle?  Knee pads

Report: NFLPA would fight against pad proposal
www.nfl.com

A source told Marvez that the league has not provided proof to the NFLPA that the pads would have any effect on player safety, though the union has asked for it.

Marvez reported that another possible issue…is that players will resist being forced to wear leg padding out of vanity or concern that the padding will negatively affect their ability to perform—even if the intended goal of requiring pads is to keep the player on the football field.

“Guys want to feel as sleek as possible,” NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth told FOXSports.com last year. “Anything that inhibits that makes them feel it’s slowing them down or getting in their way. Some guys have never played with those pads. It’s difficult for them to wrap their heads around it mentally.”

It's not clear how wearing knee pads will help with player safety, although one assumes they won't hurt.

Let's be honest, though.  The NFL has a lot of legal reasons to demonstrate they really care about player safety at the moment.  If this includes forcing players to wear more padding, they are going to do it.  

The biggest holdouts, of course, will be the corners and wide receivers.  Like a group of hot chicks going out on the town, if they don't feel just right in their clothes, they may not come to the party.

You, too, can speculate on Manning’s arm strength after one practice!

Peyton Manning’s Broncos passing debut (Video)
photos.denverpost.com

Peyton Manning is taking charge of the offense already, decked out in the Broncos jersey for the first time Monday morning at the start of a three-day mini-camp for the Denver Broncos.


 

I'll give him an "8," Dick.  He's got a decent beat, and his footwork is something I think I can dance to.

A surprise in the D.J. Williams DUI trial

Mistrial declared in Broncos linebacker DJ Williams' DUI trial
www.denverpost.com

A mistake during jury selection has resulted in a mistrial in the DUI case against Denver Broncos linebacker Genos “DJ” Williams. Defense attorney Harvey Steinberg motioned for mistrial this afternoon in Denver County Court, arguing that he should have been allowed to challenge three jurors during selection this morning but was allowed to strike only two. The judge agreed. A new trial has been set for Aug. 15.

Prosecutors say Williams, 29, was drunk Nov. 12, 2010 when he was stopped near Ninth Avenue and Broadway in Denver for driving without headlights turned on.

Earlier today, Steinberg quizzed potential jurors on their feelings toward the Denver Broncos and professional athletes. “Some people think athletes get treated too well,” he said. “What if I told you it’s the opposite? That everyone in the system is afraid they’ll be accused of giving athletes special treatment?” Steinberg also told jurors that no blood alcohol test will be admitted as evidence. Two police officers are expected to testify about the 2010 stop on the prosecution’s behalf.

Oh, Harv. You're so cute and cuddly when you bring out the conspiracies like that.

The good news for Harv and his client? In this great country of ours, you're presumed sober until proven intoxicated and without the ability to operate a moving vehicle at high rates of speed.

The bad news?  The NFL says Williams' urine sample is still not human.  And that freaks me out.

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.

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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.

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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.

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