Broncos stockpiling veterans; Keith Brooking coming to Denver

Broncos sign five-time Pro Bowl veteran LB Keith Brooking
www.denverpost.com

The Broncos took another plunge into the free agent-market Monday, signing veteran linebacker Keith Brooking…Brooking started three games for the Cowboys last season after a 97-tackle season in 2010 and a 106-tackle season in 2009.

It was only a few minutes ago (okay an hour, but minutes seems more dramatic) that we surmised the Broncos weren't set at linebacker.

Does Brooking still have any gas in the tank? The Broncos aim to find out.  It would appear his days as a starter are over, however.  

We can be sure of one thing.  The Broncos haven't had a middle linebacker who gets as fired up as Brooking since Al Wilson.  Check out this pregame Hulk Hogan.  And for good measure, here's another.   Finally, here's the original, reminding you little Bronco maniacs to take your vitamins, say your prayers, and drink your protein shakes.

(H/t: Steve Williams)

Gut Reaction: Broncos release first depth chart

Let the training camp intrigue officially begin: the Denver Broncos just released their first depth chart.  In the spirit of the coverage of the Olympic Games, let me offer you a SPOILER ALERT before you read the next sentence just in case you wanted to wait until Thursday's preseason game.

Peyton Manning held off Caleb Hanie at quarterback.  

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, don't read too much into this depth chart (which is what we're about to do).  It's only the first of many depth charts.  In other words, it's a working document.

Now, let's experience some irrational exuberance, or in some cases, rational melancholy.

Your Gut Reaction begins.  And remember Rule #7: Gut Reactions will last as long as they have to.

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Saints suspensions shortened soon? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Saints and Cardinals opened the preseason last night at the annual HOF game; Drew Brees was Drew Brees, and New Orleans won 17-10 in a game that featured only three second-half points (although Cardinals DB Justin Bethel impressed with a blocked FG).

With the referees association amidst a labor dispute with the NFL, replacement officials got off to an inauspicious start by screwing up the coin toss. Embattled Arizona QB Kevin Kolb also had a rough debut, completing just one pass out of four attempts, and bruising his ribs on the play.

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Deion Sanders isn’t buying your Peyton Manning hype

Prior to tonight's Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, Deion Sanders said the following on NFL Network regarding Peyton Manning:

"He just doesn't have the weapons to get the ball to."

Sanders then went on to predict the Broncos wouldn't go any farther than Tim Tebow took the Broncos last year.

So there you go.  Here's hoping that non-weapons Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Andre Caldwell, Jacob Tamme, Ronnie Hillman, and Willis McGahee can get something done.   

Fannin again lost for season

Mario Fannin's NFL dreams have been put off for another season. For the second straight year, the former Auburn running back has suffered a season-ending injury, this time a torn Achilles tendon.

Fannin, who joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2011, was hurt during the team's scrimmage yesterday; he tore an ACL during training camp last summer, almost a year to the day. The 24-year-old was expected to compete for a backup spot behind Willis McGahee, and had earned praise for his combination of size (5-11, 224) and speed (4.37-second forty time).

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Broncos have time on their side for D.J. Williams decision

One of the biggest issues of Denver's offseason has concerned what the team will do once linebacker D.J. Williams is eligible to return from suspension.

Williams faces a six-game ban for having violated the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs, has been relegated to inaction throughout training camp, and was not in uniform for the Broncos' scrimmage yesterday at SAF@MH.

Complicating matters is that Williams may face an even longer ban pending his upcoming DUI trial.

Fifth-year veteran Wesley Woodyard has operated in Williams's starting weakside linebacker spot for the entirety of camp.

Also adding to the intrigue is Denver's Week 7 bye; as it now stands, the 30-year-old would be allowed to rejoin the team during the bye week, and play Week 8 when the Broncos host the Saints, a team ravaged by its own suspensions thanks to the recent bounty scandal.

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Peytonpalooza rocks house Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! If the multiple record-setting crowds at Dove Valley weren't evidence enough, the turnout for yesterday's scrimmage (video, photos, more photos) at SAF@MH showed in a stunning way that Peytonpalooza is all the rage in Denver.

With the team telling reporters it expected 20,000-30,000 fans to attend, a whopping 41,304 fans showed up to watch Peyton Manning make his first appearance at SAF@MH as a Bronco, and we're talking about practice. To put that in perspective, the average attendance last year for regular season games in Cincinnati was 49,251.

The remarkable crowd was nonplussed by a bunch of short passes by Manning in seven-on-seven drills, so he audibled to a deep post to Demaryius Thomas to begin the team element. Although the 50-yard pass resulted in an overthrow, Willis McGahee somehow claimed fault for that.

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Broncos sign safety Jim Leonhard

Following a workout today, veteran safety Jim Leonhard (5-8, 188) signed a one-year deal with the Broncos. The former Wisconsin Badger is entering his eighth NFL season, having spent three years in Buffalo, one in Baltimore, and three with the Jets. He worked out for the Bills on Thursday and reportedly received an offer, but chose to continue on to Denver anyway.

In seven seasons, Leonhard has played in 94 games (60 starts), accumulating 254 tackles, 66 assists, 3.5 sacks, six interceptions for 141 yards and one touchdown, 25 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and four recoveries. The 29-year-old has also returned 82 punts for 820 yards, and 12 kickoffs for 256 yards.

Updated 9:24pm ET

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Joey Porter, frothing dingleberry Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team practiced yesterday (video, John Foxphotos, more photos) and will conduct its annual SAF@MH scrimmage this afternoon

Ronnie Hillman (hamstring) did not practice yesterday, Justin Bannan reaggravated his calf injury, and Orlando Franklin was limited to wind sprints but may participate in the scrimmage as he works back from a concussion. Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, and Champ Bailey provided the highlights, while Jason Hunter again worked ahead of Robert Ayers and got a bit chippy with the offensive linemen on multiple occasions.

Eric Decker returned to action and made a one-handed TD catch, while Jeremiah Johnson continues to impress like he did last summer. Knowshon Moreno and Rahim Moore had a big open-field collision, and isn't it nice to read about Knowshon and contact, and with no mention of his health?

Jeff Darlington paid Dove Valley a visit, and he confirms what we've thought all along: the Broncos will be running Peyton Manning's offense, and all of this talk about blending the Colts' playbook with that of Mike McCoy's has been more smokescreen than anything else.

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Carter to miss part of preseason; Broncos will work out Leonhard

After adding safety Mike Adams via free agency, the Broncos entered training camp expecting one of Quinton Carter or Rahim Moore to start next to the ninth-year veteran. A week and change into camp, Moore has been impressing, but an injury to Carter on Day 2 has taken him out of the competition for now.

Carter had originally been diagnosed with a hamstring injury, but he also hurt his knee and underwent a minor arthroscopic procedure earlier this week. The second-year ex-Sooner is expected to miss at least the first two of Denver's preseason games.

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