The Daily Lard 5-16-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning has his first bit of AFC West bulletin board material thanks to Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, who says:

We’ve got the mindset we’re going to win the AFC West. Peyton Manning, he’s a quarterback that everyone wants to have. He’s not going to turn the ball over, he’s not going to make critical mistakes.

But I’m going out there saying if my man can’t get open, he won’t have no one to throw the ball to. So as long as I do my part, we’re not too worried about Peyton Manning.

Okay, so it's the mildest of trash talk, but it's May. And, it's really more likely directed at Demaryius Thomas than at PMFM, who is 5-1 in his career against the Chiefs (albeit with a sub-Manning QB rating of 88.1). Thomas, meanwhile, has only six catches (three in 2010, three in 2011) in three career games against KC, for just 85 yards and zero touchdowns.

Then again, Denver's 2011 quarterback managed just eight completions in 30 attempts last year against the Chiefs, so it's easy to understand why Flowers is so confident. Won't be so easy in 2012, though, Brandon.

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‘08 was awesome, Bro* Lard 5-15-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The bro-fest continues with the reunion of J-Cutty and Jeremy Bates in Chicago. These two guys are so smitten with themselves and each other that they're actually starting to look alike.

Dan Pompei wrote a big fluff piece on the two for the Sun-Times on Sunday, replete with plenty of bro-love and mythicizing of Cutler's 2008 season. You all remember that grand year, yeah?

'Twas the greatest season in the history of offensive football. (Finishing 2nd in yards and 16th in points that year qualifies, right?)

You know, the one where they scored 114 in their first three games before averaging under 20 points for the next 13, and blew a three-game lead in the AFC West with three games left to play. You know, when Jay threw 18 picks including several in the end zone, and had the lowest TD% of his career?

Well, apparently it was a magical season for these two bros, and they're all giddy about reproducing that greatness this year in Chicago. At least John Mullin knows the truth, and isn't perpetuating the 2008 myth or participating in the fluffery.

In other news, Jay took Kristin home to Nashville last weekend for a giant bro convention, and he accepts that concussions are a part of the game.

* Not really

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Nunnely retires; Jay Rodgers takes over defensive line

Broncos defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely announced his retirement today after 36 years of coaching. Jay Rodgers, who served as a defensive quality control coach last season, has been promoted to replace Nunnely.

Nunnely worked at the college level for 18 years before coaching the D-lines of the Saints for two years (1995-96), the Chargers for twelve years (1997-2008), and the Broncos for the past three (photos).

The 35-year-old Rodgers is entering his fourth year with the Broncos and is the younger brother of special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, who begins his second year in that position for Denver.

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Scouting the Broncos: Duke Ihenacho

Duke Ihenacho has gotten plenty of pre-camp media attention, more than most college free agents that I can recall offhand. Rob RangPat Kirwan and Doug Farrar all named the ex-San Jose State Spartan among their top undrafted rookies. The safety, who will wear #38 #39 for the Broncos, played 47 games for SJSU and finished with 268 tackles (15 for loss), seven interceptions, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and three defensive scores.

Head coach John Fox and new DC Jack Del Rio both talk about aggression; they both prefer to dictate to the offense, rather than utilize a read-and-react style. I’m glad about that.  Del Rio was well known for that quality as a linebacker, and he’s also sincere to the point of a religious belief about it as a coach - Elvis Dumervil describes him as having a “fiery side.” That’s a well-crafted understatement from Doom, who knows a thing or two about focused aggression. I expect, from the draft and from the form of the team right now, to see a lot of very aggressive, attacking play from their front 7. Ihenacho seems like the kind of player who might find a niche with Del Rio fairly quickly.

One reason is that while Duke’s not a man cover burner, he’s a player with a lot of different uses. He’s not the kind of guy you leave out by himself on an island, but he is the type who likes to blow up defenses and defenders, to cause and jump on fumbles, grab interceptions, and even blitz the quarterback. He’s fearless when hitting and tackling, is solid in run support, and with the Broncos’ emphasis on getting to the QB as part of protecting the defensive backfield, Ihenacho has the size, power, and aggressive nature that could become a successful part of that.

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The Daily Lard 5-14-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Fox (video) spoke after the third and final day (photos) of Denver's rookie minicamp. Echoing the words of Jack Del Rio from a day earlier, Fox says the signing of CB Drayton Florence is a matter of never having enough cornerbacks.

For anyone who doesn't believe that one, drudge up some memories of Jonathan Wilhite, Nate Jones, and Josh Bell, why don't you?

Florence's fellow corner Omar Bolden made it through the weekend with no knee issues, and without a brace. As Fox and Andrew Mason remind us, the elite QBs on Denver's 2012 docket will likely test Denver's newfound depth in the backfield.

Bolden is one of three recent Sun Devils on the team (along with QB Brock Osweiler and undrafted WR Gerell Robinson) and says the familiar faces are aiding his transition to the pros, as is the presence of veteran corners Champ Bailey, Drayton Florence, and Tracy Porter. He says the knee injury which cost him his fifth and final year of college eligibility did not keep him from attending every meeting, practice, and road game. 

Osweiler, meanwhile, says he and Robinson have been working out together in Phoenix ever since last month's draft.

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Warren mulling pay cut Lard 5-13-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Coordinators Mike McCoy and Jack Del Rio (videos) spoke after the second day (Broncos TV, photos via Andrew Mason) of Denver's three-day rookie minicamp yesterday.

McCoy continues to say the Broncos' offensive playbook will be an amalgam of strategies he's grown fond of and what Peyton Manning thrived with in Indy, and not simply a carbon copy of the Colts' playbook. The third-year OC acknowledges that (of course) tight ends will play a much larger role a season after the group tallied just 30 catches (47 targets), and he says Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are giddy at the chance to play with PMFM. Oh, and the zone-read is thankfully gone.

Del Rio has plenty of praise for Mike backer Joe Mays and says he intends for his defense to help Mays improve by shrinking the gaps he's responsible for covering.

The new DC says he hasn't seen Ty Warren of late, and there's apparently good reason: the defensive tackle is apparently struggling with accepting a significant pay cut the Broncos have demanded. But frankly, Warren had best get used to the idea, because no NFL team is going to pay millions to a 31-year-old 300-pounder who has missed the past two seasons with injury. It's just not happening.

His fellow DT Kevin Vickerson has accepted a pay slice from $2.25M to $1.2M, and eventually Warren will have to do the same.

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The Daily Lard 5-12-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's coaches got their first look at the newest Broncos as the team kicked off its three-day rookie minicamp yesterday (BTV video, photos).

John Fox, Brock Osweiler and Ronnie Hillman (videos) talked with reporters afterward. Osweiler spoke about working to raise his elbow in his throwing motion and admits no sentimental reason for taking #6.

He instead hopes to acquire his more familiar #17 from WR Andre Caldwell. But Caldwell wore #87 in Cincinnati, and of course that belongs Eric Decker, who wore #7 as a Gopher but never will as a Bronco. Not sure Brock should be negotiating for number through the press, as that will likely only jack up the price. This could take a while to play out, as all numbers in the tens and eighties are currently assigned.

Hillman discussed sharing SDSU as an alma mater with Fox and says he took #34 to honor two of his favorite players in Ricky Williams and Walter Payton.

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Broncos waive Jarmon

According to Mike Klis, the Broncos have waived DT Jeremy Jarmon, presumably to create room on the roster for newly-signed CB Drayton Florence.

Denver originally acquired Jarmon in exchange for veteran WR Jabar Gaffney, who recently headed back to New England following his release by Washington after one season.

Jarmon was among the Broncos' final cuts last season and had signed a future contract on January 2.

Rodgers scouts centers’ butts Lard 5-11-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The topic of the day continues to be increasing player safety and easing the transition out of the game.

Ex-Chargers QB Dan Fouts will speak at the team's memorial for Junior Seau today, and he chatted with Clark Judge about the problems currently facing the game and its players. He says the NFL's culture of toughness and the reluctance of players to seek help must change.

Thankfully, that message appears to be taking hold in NFL circles, as Jarrett Bell details. Players like London Fletcher and Brandon Marshall have recently spoken up about post-career counseling, while NFLPA exec Nolan Harrison is calling for baseline concussion testing and better financial education for incoming players. Jack Bechta suggests that players take mandatory year-round life-skills classes for their first three years in the league, while Matt Bowen recommends that retired players continue their educations via NFL subsidies, like he did.

Mike Tanier thinks the NFL is serious about improving player safety, and that we should be patient with the league as their figure out how to do so.

The newly retired Jacob Bell has some excellent ideas for improving player care: brain scans at the Combine, mandatory meetings with psychologists for new players, and making concussion awareness part of the rookie symposium. Meanwhile, Mike Freeman is stunned by Roddy White's troubling lack of respect for his NFL predecessors, and he suggests several ways to improve the safety of the game and the treatment of players.

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Denver Broncos 2012 veteran acquisitions

# Player Pos Ht Wt Age* Terms
83 Hill, Jason WR 6-0 202 27 Signed 2-15; 1 year, $700K
20 Adams, Mike S 5-11 200 31 Signed 3-15; 2 years, $4M ($2M guaranteed)
18 Manning, Peyton QB 6-5 230 36 Signed 3-20; 5 yrs, $96M ($18M guaranteed)
17 Caldwell, Andre WR 6-0 190 27 Signed 3-21; 2 yrs, $1.8M ($200K guaranteed)
22 Porter, Tracy CB 5-11 186 26 Signed 3-22; 1 year, $4M (likely fully guaranteed)
81 Dreessen, Joel TE 6-4 245 30 Signed 3-23; 3 years, $8.5M ($2.5M guaranteed)
84 Tamme, Jacob TE 6-3 236 27 Signed 3-23; 3 years, $9M ($3.5M guaranteed)
16 Hanie, Caleb QB 6-2 222 27 Signed 3-24; 2 years, $2.25M (no guarantees)
97 Bannan, Justin DT 6-3 312 33 Signed 4-11; 1 year, $1M (likely fully guaranteed)
14 Stokley, Brandon WR 6-0 192 36 Signed 4-16; 1 year
29 Florence, Drayton CB 6-0 193 32 Agreed 5-10; 2 years, $4.5M ($1.5M guaranteed, plus $1M in incentives)

* Age on 2012 birthday; See Related: 2012 Draft Picks and 2012 Undrafted Signees