D.J. to learn of extended ban soon Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! As expected, the first group of real officials were welcomed back heartily last night, as Gene Steratore's crew was given a standing ovation before the game.

Steratore even got hugs from Ravens coach John Harbaugh and linebacker Ray Lewis, and safety Bernard Pollard says the players have a new appreciation for the skill of the regular refs.

Before the game, Roger Goodell apologized to the fans, but framed the lockout as something that had to happen, and even summoned up the nerve to call the craptastic officiating as part of the "beauty of sports."

Judy Battista reports that indeed, progress in negotiations had been made prior to Monday, so there was actually a possibility of a deal before the game-deciding blown call. But according to her sources, owners Jerry Richardson of the Panthers and Woody Johnson of the Jets were among the owners digging their heels in on Tuesday, while the Patriots' Robert Kraft and Giants owner John Mara - often described as key moderates during last year's player lockout - were more concerned with the impact of using scab officials.

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Open Thread: TNF Week 4 - Browns @ Ravens

Enjoy the game, everyone - and welcome back, refs!

Bucky BrooksGordon McGuinness and Benjamin Hoffman preview the matchup.

Here are the inactives for the game.

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Digesting the inside zone runs of the Raiders

Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Raiders were already down an early touchdown when Darren McFadden took a simple zone-blocking play and ran it 65 yards into the end zone. It’s basic ZB technique, and the Broncos will need to make sure that they’re disciplined in their gaps and able to both fight through the line’s blocks and to make sure that the safety has upfield containment to combat it.

Pittsburgh failed on both aspects, and the result will always be the same, no matter who’s running this basic play. Denver uses it, and so do many teams around the league. It’s also part of how Arian Foster has been burning the league for three seasons.

Here’s the basic lineup: Pittsburgh is in their classic, Okie-based odd-front defense. They’ve got three down linemen and two OLBs, spread wide this time. The ILBs are in their standard, base positioning. The Raiders are in 11 personnel and face 1st and 10 at their own 35. Their formation pulls one safety off into coverage, leaving only Ryan Mundy to handle the deep middle.

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You Got Served: Simultaneous possession edition

Happy Thursday, friends.  I’m back from my trip to Cleveland, and I’ve dug out of the two-days-away hole at work, so I decided that it was time to get back on the horse.  So have you seen any cases of simultaneous possession lately?  I saw one on Saturday night at a wedding reception.

The bride tossed the bouquet, and the maid of honor and my girlfriend both caught it.  They both held it for a few seconds, before Laura deferred to the MOH and let it go, which was the right call.  The MOH was actually really gracious about the whole thing, and let Laura have the bouquet, which was cool until she left it in a hotel in Charlotte on Monday morning.

As for the garter, who do you think caught it?  I got my fifth one in my last seven weddings attended (starting in 2009).  I think we can safely say that I have elite garter skills.  To wit:

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Broncos bring Mohamed back to PS, dump Ingram

The Broncos have re-signed linebacker Mike Mohamed to their practice squad today; Jacksonville had waived him from their PS yesterday, two weeks after having signed him.

To make room for Mohamed, their own 2011 sixth-round pick, Denver waived TE Cornelius Ingram.

With the one-game suspension of Joe Mays and the injury to Nate Irving (concussion), Denver is currently down to five healthy linebackers. Von Miller, Keith Brooking, and Wesley Woodyard are expected to start on Sunday, with sixth-rounder Danny Trevathan and undrafted rookie Stephen Johnson as backups.

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Was it worth it, owners? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, it's thankfully, finally over. Many hours after Chris Mortensen reported the NFL and NFLRA had come to an agreement on a new contract, they actually agreed to a fresh deal.

To get there, it only took three weeks of craptastic officiating and a call so bad that a Vegas sportsbook is refunding losing bets.

Some questions:

What if the tipping point Packers/Seahawks call had occurred instead in the Jacksonville/Indy Sunday game that was probably seen live by fifty people who aren't Jags or Colts fans? Would we still be celebrating a return of the regular officials today? Or would the resulting uproar not be enough to sway ownership?

Was it worth it, NFL owners? You've cost yourselves and your sport a good chunk of credibility. The fans who sided with you during the 2011 player lockout, and for two weeks of this officiating lockout? Even they finally realize now how little you truly care about the integrity of the game. We're curious to see if this affects the public opinion of player lawsuits regarding your handling of head injuries.

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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.

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