Friends, Coloradans, non-Coloradans, ninnies, lend me your eyes. I finally made some time to write about football, and I also feel semi-motivated to do so, so I decided to throw a couple thousand words at you, like we were on a date. I’m springing for McDonald’s, going all Andrew “Dice” Clay with it. I know what you’re thinking – yes, that does make you the heavyset woman in this deal. Yum – Big Mac.
Since training camp has begun, it seems appropriate to start talking about current events. This was supposed to be the year I went to Dove Valley for a few days to see it for myself, but with changing jobs a month ago, that wasn’t in the cards. Next year, I guess.
Anyway, I was watching NFLN the other day, and they seem to be featuring Heath Evans in a lot of their programming lately. I can’t really figure out why – all this dude talks about is what it’s like to play for Sean Payton and Bill Belichick. It seems like that’s the extent of his available insight. While I respect both coaches, I think there’s a lot more to football than the way they do things.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday's practice (highlights, John Fox, photos) saw Denver break out their no-huddle offense, with Peyton Manning typically sharp; the only incompletions resulted from drops by receivers.
Danny Trevathan, who's been receiving guidance from D.J. Williams and Karl Mecklenburg, made his first appearance with the starting base defense.
C.J. Davis continues to work as the backup to center J.D. Walton. For the first time, Derek Wolfe lined up at tackle in the team's top nickel package. Like Jeff Legwold, Andrew Mason has generally been impressed by Brock Osweiler, whom he suggests could be leading the competition to back Manning up.
CB Joshua Moore injured a hamstring, while it sounds like Omar Bolden may have suffered a concussion, if our Fox translator is working correctly.
The evening walkthrough was apparently rather laidback and uneventful ahead of today's day off; the team will scrimmage at SAF@MH on Saturday.
According to Mike Klis, the Broncos and the representatives for Ryan Clady agreed to put off talks on a long-term contract until after the 2012 season.
Klis reports the team has not improved upon the contract offer made public a week ago and which included $28M in guarantees.
But as we've noted before, the Broncos have in their corner most of the leverage in this situation. They will pay the left tackle a bargain basement-level $3.5M salary in this final year of his rookie contract, and they will have the option of using their franchise tag on him next offseason. The tag for offensive tackles is worth $9.3M this season, and is unlikely to increase significantly by next year. If the two sides were still unable to agree to a deal after the 2013 season, Denver would have the ability to retain Clady with a 20% raise over that tag value, or $11.16M based upon that current $9.3M figure.
Good afternoon, Broncos fans! Once again, the team practiced this morning in pads and in front of more than 4,000 fans (photos), with Quinton Carter (hamstring), Orlando Franklin (concussion), and Justin Bannan (calf) still sidelined due to injury.
On offense, Peyton Manning and Brandon Stokley excelled, while the defense earned its own praise in stopping the running game. Champ Bailey and Brock Osweiler elicited glowing reviews from Jeff Legwold.
The team will have another private walkthrough this evening, and their first day off tomorrow.
It creeps up on me every year: last Wednesday was Walter Payton’s birthday, and that’s something I like to celebrate.
He would have been 58.
Walter was cut down far too early of a rare autoimmune liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis, which may have led to his cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). But it’s his birth, rather than his death, that I like to remember. Somehow, I will always recall Payton as a man in his prime, exuberantly full of life.
He was not the first great running back I ever saw. I’ve been watching football for over five decades now, and I’ve seen a lot of the great backs, including watching Gale Sayers at Wrigley Field when I was still small.
Back then, football was just discovering the power of television to capture viewers with new angles and shots. They were starting to follow the players who controlled the path of the ball, finding new perspectives to show the big hits and big plays, so running backs got an increasing amount of airtime. I watched so many great ones - Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Eric Dickerson. More recently, I’ve gotten to enjoy the power and skill of Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, LaDainian Tomlinson and countless others. Payton was perhaps the best of them all, and for far more reasons than just his running skills. They called him ‘Sweetness’, and he was every bit of that.
A crystal ball is not required to predict the 2012 Broncos will struggle to reach the 9.5-win threshold set for them by the folks in Vegas. It will be a continuing theme around here that Denver faces some serious question marks.
But citing the historical precedent of teams whose records outperform their point differentials, like Bill Barnwell does, is a bit much.
We're no strangers to the fact that last season, Denver's 8-8 record exceeded their expected 5.8-10.2 record as suggested by their paltry 309 points for and subpar 390 points against.
But we'll continue to argue that the poor point differential owed more to the lack of a functioning quarterback than anything else. 309 points is a pittance, and was even aided by five non-offensive touchdowns (only four teams got a higher cut of their touchdowns from other units).
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Attendance once more topped the 4,000 mark at Dove Valley, and several Denver legends, including Karl Mecklenburg, were again part of the action yesterday (video, more video, photos, more photos).
The Snow Goose, who is coaching in an unofficial capacity, says John Elway has made it clear that his fellow Broncos royalty are welcome around the team. But as Andrew Mason stresses, there's a line between honoring alumni and accepting their assistance, and living in the past ala Al Davis's Raiders.
Chris Kuper continues to share first-team reps at right guard with Manny Ramirez, while Orlando Franklin apparently suffered a mild concussion on Saturday - not the neck crick that had been described earlier; Chris Clark (not Ryan Harris) is working in his spot. Quinton Carter's hamstring again kept him out of practice, while Justin Bannan apparently reaggravated his calf injury.
Position battle: No competition may be more hotly contested than at nickel back. Drayton Florence, a 10-year veteran, was signed as a free agent with the idea of playing either the nickel or right corner. Tracy Porter has the right spot locked up but at nickel, Chris Harris is hardly conceding the job he held last year as a rookie. Harris was the Broncos’ first-team nickel Sunday and went head-to-head against veteran Brandon Stokley.
One of the true bright spots last year was the play of (then) rookie Chris Harris. It seems Mr. Harris didn't get the memo that Drayton Florence and Omar Bolden came into camp with the notion of killing Harris's NFL career.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light, Chris Harris.
Camp Confidential: Denver Broncos
Former Chicago quarterback Caleb Hanie has the inside track to be Manning’s backup. Still, Adam Weber or rookie Brock Osweiler could pull off the surprise and beat him out…The Broncos are high on undrafted rookie linebacker Steven Johnson. The Kansas product could get some looks at middle linebacker in the preseason…The Broncos will look at a lot of punt return options. Having Decker do it may be risky. I think it is an area Denver will look to upgrade on the waiver wire…The Broncos would like to see middle linebacker Joe Mays shore up his tackling in camp. He is a solid player, but he whiffed too many times last season…Defensive lineman Ben Garland is making an impression. He is athletic and has great feet and could make the team.
A rare column from the cuddly Pork Chop--meaning that it's probably worth your time reading. He gives some additional observations outside the Paige/Klis/Jones contingent. The notes on Ben Garland, the punt return situation, and the battle at quarterback are interesting bits; further, always interesting is the state of flux that is the Denver Broncos' linebackers. Steven Johnson beating out Joe Mays? Could it really happen? One thing you can be sure of: Johnson works his butt off, as this video demonstrates.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver put on the pads yesterday for the first time since January (video, more video, photos, more photos), with the offense apparently getting a leg up on the defense for the day. Mike McCoy and Jack Del Rio spoke afterward, and Tom Jackson chatted with John Elway (videos).
During the morning session, Quinton Carter remained sidelined with his hamstring injury, while Justin Bannan and Chris Kuper took their initial first-team snaps of camp. Peyton Manning and Eric Decker were standouts, and Broncos royalty was in attendance in the form of Terrell Davis and Karl Mecklenburg; the Snow Goose is helping coach the pass rush in an unofficial capacity. Brock Osweiler practiced holding for field goals, while Philip Blake worked on snapping to the QBs.
In the evening walkthrough, Chris Clark stood in for Orlando Franklin at right tackle after Franklin tweaked his neck earlier in the day.