Cheatstrong Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! It's a dark day for American sport, as Lance Armstrong has finally given up his fight against doping accusations, will be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and Olympic bronze medal, and be banned from cycling for life.

But in announcing that he would no longer battle the mounting allegations, Armstrong was defiant as ever, railing against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and its pursuit of his case, and claiming that USADA could not take away his titles.

As the queue of accusers grew lengthier each year, even Armstrong's most ardent supporters had to know this outcome was an inevitability.

Armstrong's tireless work to raise cancer awareness, inspire those who suffer from it, and fund research to defeat it, should always outweigh his now-tainted athletic accomplishments, but there's still a great sadness to seeing an American sports hero knock himself off the platform.

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MJD situation shouldn’t prompt reinterpretation of Denver’s offseason

It's been a strange couple of days in Broncos Land. For some fans, Denver has, in that time, gone from a potential 8-10 win team to a franchise that is clearly "going for it" and "putting all its eggs" in on the 2012 campaign. 

It's as if they've upped the prescriptions on their orange-colored glasses.

All this, because Maurice Jones-Drew is unhappy with his contract situation in Jacksonville.

Mind you, these dramatic phrases were not used to describe the acquisition of Peyton Manning as recently as Monday or Tuesday.

Now that MJD might be available in trade (probably not, actually), Peyton's arm is suddenly thisclose to falling off, and the "window" of his status as a top quarterback is closing in but a year or two.

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Bite-size Nuggets: Trading picks for players is often a smart thing to do

I agree with what Doug wrote yesterday about Maurice Jones-Drew not being worth trading for - not for the Broncos, and not for anybody else, either.  While driving the last two days, I’ve heard all kinds of “trading for MJD” talk on Sirius, and I was thinking about how I’ve meant to do an article for quite a while about trades for veteran players.

More often than not, it’s a good idea to trade draft picks for proven veteran players.  A draft pick is a derivative asset, in the sense that it has no definable value, in and of itself, other than the fact that it confers upon the holder of it the right to acquire a football asset at a point in time.  A player is a football asset that’s more or less known.  There’s some uncertainty to how he’ll perform in a new place, while being a year older, but there’s less risk than with a guy straight out of college.

Whether it is a good idea to trade a pick for a player almost always hinges upon the reason why the player is available.  MJD may or may not be available, but if he is, it’s because he wants more money.  That’s almost never a good situation from which to acquire a guy.

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Hoodie was hard for Sapp Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! With training camp in the rearview and the preseason nearly over, the time for roster cutdowns is nearing.

The NFL released its calendar for the league year on Wednesday; the deadline for first cuts (from 90 to 75) is Monday afternoon, while final cuts (from 75 to 53) will be due by next Friday night.

Accordingly, Andrew Mason has updated his forecast for the Broncos' final 53, with recent injuries helping determine the bottom of the roster. Most notably, he sees RB Lance Ball, WR Jason Hill, T Ryan Harris, DE Jeremy Beal, LB Mike Mohamed, LB Keith Brooking, and S Jim Leonhard making the team, with QB Caleb Hanie, RB Knowshon Moreno, and CB Syd'Quan Thompson on the outside looking in.

Mason thinks the injury to G Chris Kuper will help Harris be the ninth lineman to make the squad, while Jeff Legwold figures Harris would have to be the eleventh man (we assume he's counting LS Lonie Paxton as a lineman).

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Why pursuing MJD would make no sense for the Broncos

There is only one scenario under which the Broncos should consider a trade for Maurice Jones-Drew:

He'd have to drop his demands for a new contract.

Anyone see that happening?


The Twittersphere is, um, atwitter (sorry) with speculation that Denver might be interested in trading for the disgruntled Jaguars back. Let's examine why that's not only highly unlikely to be true, but a terrible idea.

Consider the background:

When Jacksonville drafted MJD in the second round of the 2006 Draft, they did so planning for a future without Jaguars icon Fred Taylor. Three years later, Taylor had moved on to the Patriots, and Jones-Drew had shown himself worthy of the primary back role, but was entering the final year of his rookie contract.

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Happy trails, CP Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Old friend Clinton Portis is set to announce his retirement tomorrow.

I've already shared my feelings on the personable CP, and TJ did an analysis of the trade that sent Portis to Washington for Champ Bailey a few years ago. Of course, that trade has only continued to pay dividends to the Broncos, as Champ is still going, and strongly at that. Thanks for the memories, CP, and best of luck in retirement.

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The value of preseason games

We have all, at some point or another, probably bemoaned the four (or five, in the case of HOF game participants) preseason games as excessive and pointless. Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union Tribune writes,

They charge real money to watch these phony exhibition games, and Saturday night they couldn’t find enough free-spending Cowboys fans to sell out the joint. So the game was blacked out locally. The nerve of the NFL, the cheek, blacking out this glorified practice. Big deal. It was shown on tape delay as soon as it ended. Did you really need to know the score (Hint: 28-20, Chargers)?

Who can blame him? It’s a refrain that’s heard time and again. It immediately comes up when the league tries to talk about expanding the schedule to 18 regular season games. The usual suggestion is that two of the preseason contests would be changed to regular season affairs.

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Broncos activate Leonhard from PUP list

The Broncos have taken safety Jim Leonhard off the active PUP list, and he is practicing today.

Denver signed the eighth-year veteran on August 4, but his recovery from a torn patellar tendon had prevented him from taking part in practice or individual drills until today.

Updated 2:07pm ET

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You Got Served: Are the Broncos using the right defensive scheme?

The question of the day is whether Mark Kiszla knows what he’s talking about, when it comes to football.

Are you done laughing yet?

I’ll wait. 

Okay then, welcome back.  Since we know the answer is that he doesn’t know anything beyond the most basic level, we can pat him on the head like a good little dullard, and at least explore whether the basic point he was making is valid.

Kiszla thinks the Broncos have better personnel to play a 3-4 than they do a 4-3.  If you’ve read this site for long, you know that there’s no monolithic 3-4 that half the NFL uses, and there’s similarly no monolithic 4-3 in use by the other half.  There are 3-4’s that play like traditional 4-3’s (such as Houston and Dallas), 4-3’s that play like traditional 3-4’s (like Seattle and Miami), and then there are teams that play both fronts, most notably New England and Baltimore.

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Lights out, Merriman Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! A hamstring injury has prevented third-round pick Ronnie Hillman from playing this preseason, but he returned to practice yesterday and is hoping to play during Sunday afternoon's home game against the 49ers.

Hillman admits he's not quite back to full speed yet; Quinton Carter practiced after missing almost all of training camp, although his work was restricted to individual drills.

Another youngster, Danny Trevathan, returned after missing last week with an ankle injury, and Tracy Porter was back from illness.

However, veterans Jim Leonhard and Keith Brooking are still not practicing; Leonhard remains on the active PUP list, while Brooking suffered a hamstring injury shortly after joining the team. Both players worked with strength coach Luke Richesson yesterday and are unlikely to play in either of Denver's remaining preseason games. The guess here is Leonhard ends up on the regular PUP list, while Brooking doesn't make the final 53 (it's unlikely either of them received any guarantees in their contracts).

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