Replacements still duds Lard

Good Morning/Afternoon, Broncos fans! Jim Leonhard went full-contact for the first time this year in practice yesterday (photos); Kevin Vickerson also put on the pads as he comes back from a concussion, but he did not work full-contactthere's a chance he'll play in tomorrow's home game against the 49ers.

As expected, Leonhard received some punts in practice yesterday, as did Syd'Quan Thompson, Matthew Willis, and Andre Caldwell. The return ability of Leonhard and Thompson could go a long way toward determining which of them make the final 53.

Keith Brooking and Mike Mohamed remained sidelined, and Brooking is unlikely to play in the final preseason game - making the decision whether to keep him a rather difficult one. Final cuts are due next Friday night, just hours after the Thursday night preseason finale in Arizona.

The team did move one small step closer to the 75-man limit that looms on Monday, as they waived injured WR Tyler Grisham yesterday.

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A Second Helping of Nate Irving vs the Seahawks

At the 13:33 mark of the third quarter during Saturday's preseason game against Seattle, the Broncos defense found themselves in a familiar position: facing a team that, like their own offense, runs a zone blocking scheme. On the first of back-to-back zone-blocked running plays, Nate Irving sliced through the OL to stop the run, and then David Bruton came up from his safety slot to stop Robert Turbin for a four-yard gain on the second.

Following that second play, Ed McCaffrey made a comment about something that I'd like to cover - he noted that along the Seattle offensive line, each of the players was performing a reach block. What the heck is a reach block, and what does it have to do with zone blocking? Let’s use the first of these two plays as our example. I’ll talk about the second in a subsequent piece.

A reach block is a simple technique that’s used when a lineman has to block an opponent who's either in the gap next to him, or lined up on the teammate next to him. It’s employed when the play is going to require the second blocker (the RG in the diagram below) to move towards a different responsibility - either as part of a full-line zone blocking scheme or perhaps when the second blocker is going to be pulling toward the play side. The reach block is an essential skill for an offensive lineman.

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Face-palming my way to brain trauma

I almost never read John Clayton’s articles on ESPN, because they tend to be horrible.  They call him the professor, but really he’s a sniveling little toolbag who doesn’t know anything about football.  He’s basically equivalent to Mark Kiszla, but he got lucky, by getting picked up by ESPN way back when.  Anybody who knows anything scoffs at this dude.

Every year, Clayton writes an article ranking QBs, and I just know it’s going to be a steaming piece of crap, but I read it anyway.  It’s kind of like rubbernecking to see a car accident, knowing that you’re being a jerk and holding up traffic behind you.  (In all likelihood, they’ll rubberneck too.)

Well, I read the annual trainwreck yesterday, and I decided that I should go all Drew Magary on it, and make the perfesser my own personal Mr. Lofty Acela of Beernerdness.  It’s not so much that I feel hostile because Clayton’s writing is awful (though it is); it’s more that his inability to think consistently or intelligently is shocking, no matter how many times I see it.

Here’s the spot where some of you ruminate on how arrogant I am, and how I think I am the biggest brain in the room, because I am about to pick on Clayton.  You know what?  Bite me.

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Cheatstrong Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! It's a dark day for American sport, as Lance Armstrong has finally given up his fight against doping accusations, will be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and Olympic bronze medal, and be banned from cycling for life.

But in announcing that he would no longer battle the mounting allegations, Armstrong was defiant as ever, railing against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and its pursuit of his case, and claiming that USADA could not take away his titles.

As the queue of accusers grew lengthier each year, even Armstrong's most ardent supporters had to know this outcome was an inevitability.

Armstrong's tireless work to raise cancer awareness, inspire those who suffer from it, and fund research to defeat it, should always outweigh his now-tainted athletic accomplishments, but there's still a great sadness to seeing an American sports hero knock himself off the platform.

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MJD situation shouldn’t prompt reinterpretation of Denver’s offseason

It's been a strange couple of days in Broncos Land. For some fans, Denver has, in that time, gone from a potential 8-10 win team to a franchise that is clearly "going for it" and "putting all its eggs" in on the 2012 campaign. 

It's as if they've upped the prescriptions on their orange-colored glasses.

All this, because Maurice Jones-Drew is unhappy with his contract situation in Jacksonville.

Mind you, these dramatic phrases were not used to describe the acquisition of Peyton Manning as recently as Monday or Tuesday.

Now that MJD might be available in trade (probably not, actually), Peyton's arm is suddenly thisclose to falling off, and the "window" of his status as a top quarterback is closing in but a year or two.

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Bite-size Nuggets: Trading picks for players is often a smart thing to do

I agree with what Doug wrote yesterday about Maurice Jones-Drew not being worth trading for - not for the Broncos, and not for anybody else, either.  While driving the last two days, I’ve heard all kinds of “trading for MJD” talk on Sirius, and I was thinking about how I’ve meant to do an article for quite a while about trades for veteran players.

More often than not, it’s a good idea to trade draft picks for proven veteran players.  A draft pick is a derivative asset, in the sense that it has no definable value, in and of itself, other than the fact that it confers upon the holder of it the right to acquire a football asset at a point in time.  A player is a football asset that’s more or less known.  There’s some uncertainty to how he’ll perform in a new place, while being a year older, but there’s less risk than with a guy straight out of college.

Whether it is a good idea to trade a pick for a player almost always hinges upon the reason why the player is available.  MJD may or may not be available, but if he is, it’s because he wants more money.  That’s almost never a good situation from which to acquire a guy.

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Hoodie was hard for Sapp Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! With training camp in the rearview and the preseason nearly over, the time for roster cutdowns is nearing.

The NFL released its calendar for the league year on Wednesday; the deadline for first cuts (from 90 to 75) is Monday afternoon, while final cuts (from 75 to 53) will be due by next Friday night.

Accordingly, Andrew Mason has updated his forecast for the Broncos' final 53, with recent injuries helping determine the bottom of the roster. Most notably, he sees RB Lance Ball, WR Jason Hill, T Ryan Harris, DE Jeremy Beal, LB Mike Mohamed, LB Keith Brooking, and S Jim Leonhard making the team, with QB Caleb Hanie, RB Knowshon Moreno, and CB Syd'Quan Thompson on the outside looking in.

Mason thinks the injury to G Chris Kuper will help Harris be the ninth lineman to make the squad, while Jeff Legwold figures Harris would have to be the eleventh man (we assume he's counting LS Lonie Paxton as a lineman).

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Why pursuing MJD would make no sense for the Broncos

There is only one scenario under which the Broncos should consider a trade for Maurice Jones-Drew:

He'd have to drop his demands for a new contract.

Anyone see that happening?

Right.

The Twittersphere is, um, atwitter (sorry) with speculation that Denver might be interested in trading for the disgruntled Jaguars back. Let's examine why that's not only highly unlikely to be true, but a terrible idea.

Consider the background:

When Jacksonville drafted MJD in the second round of the 2006 Draft, they did so planning for a future without Jaguars icon Fred Taylor. Three years later, Taylor had moved on to the Patriots, and Jones-Drew had shown himself worthy of the primary back role, but was entering the final year of his rookie contract.

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Happy trails, CP Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Old friend Clinton Portis is set to announce his retirement tomorrow.

I've already shared my feelings on the personable CP, and TJ did an analysis of the trade that sent Portis to Washington for Champ Bailey a few years ago. Of course, that trade has only continued to pay dividends to the Broncos, as Champ is still going, and strongly at that. Thanks for the memories, CP, and best of luck in retirement.

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The value of preseason games

We have all, at some point or another, probably bemoaned the four (or five, in the case of HOF game participants) preseason games as excessive and pointless. Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union Tribune writes,

They charge real money to watch these phony exhibition games, and Saturday night they couldn’t find enough free-spending Cowboys fans to sell out the joint. So the game was blacked out locally. The nerve of the NFL, the cheek, blacking out this glorified practice. Big deal. It was shown on tape delay as soon as it ended. Did you really need to know the score (Hint: 28-20, Chargers)?

Who can blame him? It’s a refrain that’s heard time and again. It immediately comes up when the league tries to talk about expanding the schedule to 18 regular season games. The usual suggestion is that two of the preseason contests would be changed to regular season affairs.

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