Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, tonight's our first true glimpse of where the Broncos, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow are at, as they face off against the Cowboys in Dallas at 8:30pm ET. Is Kyle Orton just a practice player who folds under the pressure of "real, actual" games? Is Tim Tebow a true "gamer" who can go from missing wide open passes in practice to willing his team to victory when the lights come on? Obviously, the truth for both is somewhere closer to the middle, but at least we all get to judge for ourselves, starting with tonight. If you're like me and live outside the Denver TV area, you can pony up $20 to see all of the Broncos' preseason games online. Or, you can listen to the game on 850KOA.com. Either way, we'll of course have a game thread and will be bringing you TJ's first Gut Reactoin game recap of the year and a Chewing the Fat tomorrow with our thoughts. It may just be practice for the team, but it's the real thing here.
Meanwhile, it sounds like the Big IF is about to become Sports Authority Field at Mile High, or in much easier parlance, SAFaMH. Just rolls off the tongue, like IAOFM, right? Right? Sports Authority is close to a deal (close enough to talk about it with the DP, so obviously it's happening) which will cost them $150M over the next 25 years to hold the naming rights to Mile High. Oh well - it's not as fun as The Big IF, but I suppose someone will come up with some nickname.
The whole roster has been in camp for about a week now, and the first depth chart has come out. The battles are picking up. You shouldn’t put too much faith in an initial training camp depth chart, but there are some things that are worth watching. We’ll talk about them below.
I wanted to note that courtesy of the new CBA, the rookie signings took a lot less time, carried little angst, and the young guys generally got into camp on time. If the new rookie scale does nothing else, it’s an utter winner on that basis alone. Nothing slows down a good player’s progress like missing part or all of camp - especially his first as a pro. It had turned into a pointless circus that infected the draft and signing process like a virus, in which neither side won much of anything. I like this a lot better because it’s better for the players, coaches and the teams.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Rick Reilly was apparently at last Saturday's scrimmage at the Big IF, and he writes that "the entire locker room" wants Kyle Orton to be the starting QB, rather than the fans' choice of Tim Tebow. Reilly quotes a source within the organization (from the wording, presumably a player) that the "coaching staff would totally lose the players" if they were to proceed with Tebow as the starter. Reilly also writes that Orton was irked by the fact that Tebow spoke to reporters as much as he did last year, apparently because by doing so Tebow failed to show the deference Orton felt he was due as the team's first-string QB.
To top it off, Reilly spoke with John Elway, who said of Tebow, "He's only had the one season. But he's an amazing football player. I'd never give up on Tim Tebow...One of the unique things about Tim is that he has that unique ability to make something happen when the play breaks down...You can't rely on your improvising. That's one thing I learned. I was always going to make those plays outside the pocket, but that can't be your bread and butter."
Happy Tuesday, friends. This is the week where we start preseason football, and I’m very excited to get my first look at what’s going on. As a Broncos expatriate in Cleveland, I’ll be listening to the game on 850KOA.com on Thursday night, and then I just realized that I won’t get to see the game until probably Sunday, which is pretty lame. I’ll have to listen super-intently, I guess.
This is the incredible (hopefully once-in-a-lifetime) “2 Weddings in 2 States in 2 Days” weekend, which I may or may not have mentioned in this space. If I did, picture me smirking for my critics who don’t like me talking about anything but football. If I didn’t, it’s pretty much the same picture. Funny how that works. The moral of the story, as always, is that I do what I want, and bitching about it only makes me more defiant.
Anyway, on Friday morning, I leave at the crack of dawn to fly to Providence, RI. I’ll drive across from there to my hometown of Norwich, CT for the wedding of one of my oldest friends, Tony Orsini, to his lovely fiancée Anastasia Barber. Saturday morning, I’m flying back to Cleveland to attend the wedding of my fraternity brother Drew Saum (you know him as the guy who rigged the Madden 12 election) to the equally lovely Molly Watson. It should be lots of fun, and I congratulate both couples.
So, yeah, Sunday for the visual game experience. I think it will be the first time in about 4 years that I’ve had to miss seeing Broncos football game for a significant amount of time after the game has played, and I’m not going to make a habit of it. I hope that everybody who can see the game before me is paying attention, and is applying the stuff that we talk about here, and I’ll catch up with y’all when I can. For now, let’s get to current football events. Ready…. BEGIN!!
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andrew Mason writes that barring injury, it would be a "shock" if Kyle Orton does not start the Broncos' regular season opener
in versus Oaktown. He says Orton has clearly been the Broncos' best QB throughout camp so far, showing more polish, command and smoothness than Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn, or Adam Weber, and that yesterday was no different. Mason also makes it a point to clarify that Tebow was not booed on Saturday, but rather the fans were cheering "Doom" for Elvis Dumervil when he sacked the popular QB.
Meanwhile, as we approach Thursday's preseason opener in Dallas, Mason says John Fox & Co. won't be installing a game plan so much as preparing players for the more routine aspects of game day. Plus, Eddie Royal was pulled from practice as what Fox called a "preventative" measure for the WR's surgically-repaired hip, while D.J. Williams and LenDale White practiced in pads for the first time since camp started. Finally, although he's listed as fifth on the team's depth chart at TE, Julius Thomas was working with starter Daniel Fells in two-TE sets.
Broncos fans were treated to seeing their favorite players on a very special day on Saturday. Before I get to recapping the week in camp and at the Invesco scrimmage, I wanted to take a minute to congratulate one of the most unique players to ever put on pads. Shannon Sharpe was one of a kind - his heart, his irrepressible nature, his remarkable natural skills and his unflinching work ethic, learned in the fields under the hot Georgia sun have been an inspiration to fans all over the league and especially in Bronco Country. Let it sink it, Shannon. You earned it. Thank you for all the memories, Shay - they’re endlessly sweet.
If by any chance you missed his enshrinement speech, do yourself a favor and catch it here.
The Broncos have released their first official depth chart of the year; some brief observations:
Without a doubt, the biggest stunner is that Chris Kuper, who received over $13M in guarantees as part of a contract extension in June of 2010 and has been a fixture at RG for four seasons, is listed with the third-team offense behind Russ Hochstein and Eric Olsen. Either this is motivational in nature, or the Broncos really will be scouring the waiver wire for linemen, and hard. FWIW, TJ has been telling me for a long time that he doesn't get why Kuper receives so much praise. Well, apparently Kuper is killing it at practice today, because just in the past hour he's jumped back up to the first team! Or, it was just a typo by the guys running the official site. (Thanks, Royalwithcheese)
2. Despite all the accolades for rookie Julius Thomas' play thus far in camp, and speculation that Richard Quinn's job was in jeopardy, Quinn sits with the second teamers behind newly-acquired Daniel Fells, with Thomas down with the fifth team and fellow rookie Virgil Green sixth.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Freeman writes that although it's far from a certainty that HGH testing will be instituted by the NFL, the players as a whole would like for it to happen. Freeman says the players he's spoken to about the topic estimate HGH use at between 10-20% of the league today, and that they see it as a growing problem that must be addressed. Contrary to the report originally obtained by the NY Times, it appears the league's proposed program will in fact include random testing, including unlimited testing during the regular season - so it's no joke.
But according to Freeman, the biggest hurdle at this point appears to be the good old trust factor - players point to the StarCaps case which has hung over the heads of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams for several years now as a reason to doubt the testing program. Hopefully, the two sides can come to an agreement here - the NFL continues to be the best pro sports league we have here, and leading the way on HGH testing would only further that standing.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled Tim Tebow/Kyle Orton debate for some other news this afternoon.
The Denver Broncos reported that undrafted free-agent running back Mario Fannin cleared waivers and is now back with the Broncos on injured reserve.
Yesterday the Broncos waived Fannin due to a knee injury he suffered in practice earlier in the week.
Robert Ayers posted some tweets yesterday admonishing the community about the booing of Kyle Orton on Saturday. They read,
Really wish fans stopped boing Orton... He is our qb and our coach thinks he gives us the best chance of winning... Fans please respect that...Not against Tebow at all.. I support whoever is our starting qb.. Regardless who it is.. We win and lose as a team... #TEAM
I’d echo his thoughts - folks, it’s just not right. We’re better than this. As a community, we need to start showing it. Cheer for all of them, or cheer for your favorite players - and if you don’t like the next one, please just put a sock in it. This isn’t Philadelphia, for heaven’s sake. I’d like to see the next crowd go out of their way to cheer like banshees for all of the Broncos.