Gut Reaction: Preseason Week 4 - Broncos at Cardinals

Rejoice, Broncomaniacs.

We can move on to more important things--like destroying the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Before we do, though, let's take some time (just a little) to comment on tonight's game.

Thirty thoughts. No categories. Let's get freaky dirty.

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Pre-game Lard and Open Thread: Broncos @ Cardinals

Good Evening, Broncos fans! Although any one of the four Denver players currently on IR will be eligible for activation later in the season thanks to the NFL's IR rule change, the team would have to designate that player by tomorrow night. So, forget about Jason Hunter coming back; the team will surely save the exception for a potential in-season injury to a more important player.

Once a player returns to practice, he will have 21 days to be added back to the 53-man roster.

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A Second Helping of Tipped passes in the no-huddle

For well over a decade now, Peyton Manning's litany of skills has kept him in the conversation regarding who is the best quarterback in the NFL. He may have had four surgeries on his neck, and he’s 36 years old now, but if the topic is his supposed deterioration, try telling it to the 49ers starting defense he dismantled on Sunday.

One of those skills is the ball-handling required in using play-action to freeze defenses. With the running ability of Willis McGahee (and Ronnie Hillman in the wings), defenses have an even greater reason to respect Manning’s play-action passing.

When Manning moves to a no-huddle offense, the value of play-action becomes even greater - defenses have far less time (if any) for substitutions, so the balance that’s always a goal of John Fox's offense becomes an even greater weapon for Denver. Whether the Broncos want to run or pass, they’ve got an effective and productive scheme in place. Stopping the offense becomes more difficult still when any adjustments made by the defense end up being read and turned against them when Manning audibles.

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You Got Served: Taking stock of the Broncos roster

Happy Football Thursday, friends.  As the preseason comes to a close, we’re left to ponder the value of tonight’s game, which begins after my bedtime.  All I can really think of is that it gives the underdog lovers something to get all excited about. 

I’m continually interested in how fans latch on to some late or undrafted player, based on a play here or there, or his name, or where he went to school.  That underdog is going to be a major player, maybe even a star!  He’s a diamond in the rough, and I’ve been down since Day 1.  When the IAOFM crew was chatting during the Bears game, we were having a laugh about how Xavier Omon hysteria was about to be upon us when he made a few good runs against third-stringers.  Well, it came, and it went.  No other third-string defensive line that the Broncos played was sorry enough to be blocked by the Broncos' third-string offensive line.

For the Broncos, the value is that it gives them a chance to make a last-minute decision on who makes the team, and maybe more importantly, the practice squad.  For the most part, the decisions have most likely been made on the larger body of work, though.  If you think about it, tonight’s game is going to end around 2am Eastern.  Cuts to 53 have to be completed by 9pm Eastern time on Friday.  That leaves very little time for deliberation.

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NFL extends trade deadline

The NFLPA and the league have agreed to push the trade deadline back two weeks. Also, teams will be allowed to bring one player back from IR midseason, with restrictions.

Traditionally, the trade deadline has been the Tuesday following the conclusion of Week 6. The new deadline will be 4pm ET on Tuesday, October 30.

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Replacement refs like lamp Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team held another padless practice (BTVphotos) yesterday before heading to Arizona for tomorrow morning's tonight's game against the Cardinals.

Chris Kuper and Tony Hills were again the only nonparticipants; Jim Leonhard practiced and could play tonight, while Keith Brooking was limited yesterday and thus unlikely to play.

Brock Osweiler (video) spoke after practice; looking back to rookie minicamp, BO says he was essentially drowning in the playbook at the time, and is now "fairly comfortable" with its contents. The former Sun Devil expects to have plenty of acquaintances in attendance tonight in Glendale.

More importantly, tonight will mark the final chance for several players to make an impression on the Broncos' coaches, and perhaps put something good on tape to prompt another team to pick them up if they're one of tomorrow's 20 cuts. Of course, there's also the chance that the last men to make the final 53 will later be jettisonned in favor of other squads' cuts.

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A Second Helping of Manny Ramirez vs the 49ers

I really didn’t know much about Manny Ramirez until recently. That’s no shock - he was out of football entirely for much of 2010 before Denver signed him to a  future contract in January of 2011. He played in two games for Denver last year and was inactive for the other sixteen games, including playoffs.

But because Manny’s stepping in for Chris Kuper until Kupe’s forearm heals, I took a long look at his performance against San Francisco on Sunday.

Backstory: Manny was chosen by Detroit in the fourth round (117th overall) of the 2007 Draft. He appeared in one game as a rookie on special teams, then moved up to playing in four games the next year, three of them starts - two at right guard, one at left guard. He didn’t have a penalty, but gave up two sacks. The following year, things changed.

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NFL to use replacement refs

The NFL will open the regular season with replacement officials.

Replacements will be on the field beginning next Wednesday night when the Cowboys visit the Giants to open the season, league executive Ray Anderson told the 32 teams.

FWIW, Andrew Brandt thinks this impasse will end within a week. Let's hope he's right.

Marcus Thomas unleashes Twitter hell on ‘Madden 13’

Giants DT Marcus Thomas pleads with 'Madden 13' to fix his profile photo

Giants defensive tackle Marcus Thomas—not to be confused with running back Marcus Thomas who had a cup of coffee with the Lions in 2008 and waived by the Broncos in 2009—is fed up. The six-year vet thinks it’s been long enough for the folks at Madden to put a face with a name. Specifically: Thomas’ face with his Madden bio. After exhausting all options (we’re speculating here; for all we know, before Tuesday the extent of Thomas’ gripes may have consisted of cursing EA every time he fired up a game), the New York defender took to Twitter to publicly lodge a complaint…But thanks to the power of the internet, word got back to Donny Moore, whose Twitter bio reads “Madden NFL Live Content Producer & Ratings Czar.” Moore was apologetic and promised to fix the mistake…This prompted a change of heart from Thomas, who tweeted “Thanks, Mr. Madden. I love you.” We’re still not clear if Thomas knows that John Madden isn’t actually a programmer, just the face of a game that’s been around for nearly 20 years. Either way, mystery solved, all is right in the world. Now if Madden could just find a way to help the Jets score a touchdown…

Because how you look on Madden 13 echoes throughout eternity.

Gracias, John Elway

Poetry in demotion:

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