Chris Kuper in pads and practicing

Manny Ramirez's days functioning as a turnstile along the Broncos offensive line are nearing an end.

Right guard Chris Kuper has returned to participate in today's padded practice, raising hopes that he will be available on at least a part-time basis on Sunday against Oakland. However, Lindsay Jones says the seventh-year player is unlikely to dress Sunday.

Ramirez is the only of Denver's five starting offensive linemen to receive a negative overall score from PFF (-5.3), although he did grade out at +2.1 for the opening win over Pittsburgh.

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Mort: NFL, referees nearing agreement

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that the two sides are closing in on an agreement which would bring the real officials back in time for Sunday's games.

Actually, that's not entirely true. Mort is reporting that a deal is done, but everyone else says there are still hurdles to be cleared. Classic Mort.

Peter King says that if an agreement is reached by tomorrow afternoon, then the regular refs would indeed be available to report for work on Sunday. This is apparently thanks in large part to the work of Ed Hochuli, who has taken the initiative of keeping his colleagues up to snuff on the latest rule changes and testing their knowledge weekly.

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Early metrics: Broncos are pretty good

Now that we're three weeks into the season, stats and metrics can begin to have at least some meaning.

But as noted in the title, it's still rather early - so take these rankings with a grain of salt.

Brian Burke's efficiency rankings - which consider passing, running, turnovers, penalties, and strength of schedule - have Denver as the third-most efficient team in the league (sixth in offense, third in defense), behind the Texans and Eagles.

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Lynch: FOX hoodwinked by NFL re:scabs

John Lynch says NFL “duped” FOX into going easy on replacements
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

Per Lynch, the NFL called FOX before the season started and said, ‘We’re close to a deal, so take it easy on these guys.”

With no deal done nearly three weeks later, Lynch has drawn a strong conclusion:  “They duped us.”

Lynch also complained about the folks who aren’t getting nearly enough blame for this situation — the people who own the teams.  “The other night I went to bed angry,” Lynch said. “It just speaks to the arrogance of the owners.”

It will be interesting to see if Lynch is punished or forced to issue some sort of apology for his frankness.

Ginger is Hammerless in ref dispute Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's appearing as if the officiating lockout will continue into the forseeable future, as if Jerry Jones's comments yesterday didn't establish that already.

The two sides met on Tuesday for the fourth consecutive day, but reportedly made little or no progress toward a deal. Incredibly, the NFL still has the nerve to spin this dispute as being about raising the quality of officiating, rather than about taking away pensions of the refs who are now so sorely missed.

Mike Freeman hears that Roger Goodell would have settled this dispute months ago were he anything more than a lapdog for the league's owners, but he also suggests that Ginger's lack of assertion may cost him his legacy as Commish. Freeman says an end to the impasse could come this week - and he's betting on a deal coming this weekend - but he hears the prideful owners don't want to appear to have been swayed by what happened on Monday.

But these owners aren't just prideful; they're a lovely mix of Lucky Sperm Club members and hardened business bullies who simply aren't used to hearing no as an answer.

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Young: Scabs affecting NFL’s competitive landscape

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Heading into Raiders Week off a dud

A late-game collapse by the Steelers on Sunday allowed the Raiders a fourth-quarter comeback capped by a game-winning field goal as time expired.

"They outplayed us defensively," Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark said. "Their defense made the stops when they needed to, and we didn't. It wasn't from a lack of trying. Maybe it was trying too hard."

Could Denver have been trying too hard on Sunday against the Texans? That’s hard to imagine. But there’s still a grain of truth there.

What happened against Houston was nothing more or less than a better team beating a lesser one. No one likes admitting when their team simply doesn’t have the players or the chops to overcome their opponent, but Denver fans are going to have to accept it this time. Ironically, the Texans have spent years building a team that could beat Peyton Manning.

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NFL bans Mays one game for Schaub hit

According to Adam Schefter, the hit by Broncos linebacker Joe Mays on Matt Schaub during Sunday's loss to the Texans has landed Mays a one-game suspension from the league.

Mays, who will appeal the ruling, has been effusively and repeatedly apologetic for the blow, which cost Schaub a significant chunk of his left earlobe.

The fifth-year player had earlier been penalized $7,875 for a Week 2 hit on Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

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NFL: Point of lockout is to improve officiating

Even after Monday debacle, NFL holding firm in referee negotiations
sportsillustrated.cnn.com

The league believes that the short-term pain of a football nation up in arms will be worth it two to four years down the road if they can improve the overall quality of officiating by adding what would be a taxi squad of three additional crews. In other words, it’s likely that Goodell understands that solving the lockout by abandoning the demand for the extra officials would be a popular move today, but the NFL would still have what it considers the problem of not being able to replace underperforming officials.

The owner$ can't po$$ibly believe what they're $aying, or expect u$ to believe it, can they?

What did you expect them to say?

NFL supports decision to not overturn Seahawks' touchdown
www.nfl.com

While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.

Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

The result of the game is final.

Surely, these fans will be mollified by the league's response.

Doug Farrar, Kevin SeifertMike Sando, Tom LeyLindsay Jones, and Alex Marvez analyze the league's statement.

Plus, reaction to the call from Bill Barnwell, Mike Lombardi, Mike SilverPeter King, Don Banks, Greg Bishop, Jason Whitlock, and Bill Simmons.

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