The Daily Lard 2-27-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's hard to tell whether it was fueled by some inside knowledge, or whether he's just pulling a Woody, but Mike Klis wrote yesterday afternoon that Brian Dawkins is "expected to retire". The blog entry even has a headline that proclaims Denver will acquire a hard-hitting safety to replace Dawkins this offseason, and Klis even suggests that former Pats first-rounder Brandon Meriweather is a possible target.

Now, it's certainly not a stretch to presume that Dawk will retire, as that possibility was first floated by the DP a couple months back when he suffered the neck injury which prevented him from playing beyond the Broncos' Week 16 loss at Buffalo. But it was only yesterday we read again that Dawkins is still considering a return to Denver for one more season.

So who exactly who expects Dawkins to retire, and who says the Broncos will undoubtedly acquire a "safety who can thump"? The entire Denver FO? John Elway? Brian Xanders? The cook at Dove Valley? Mike Klis? Because it's not anywhere close to clear from how Klis wrote it, and the insertion of the word likely in the headline and in the stead of expected within the piece would have done wonders. Here we are again, parsing words because someone didn't do their job correctly.

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NFL Combine - Open Thread

Use this thread to discuss large men breaking the speed of sound, lifting heavy weights, and jumping long distances!

The Daily Lard 2-26-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Chiefs are expected to use their franchise tag on WR Dwayne Bowe if they're unable to sign him to a long-term deal. HC Romeo Crennel met with the press yesterday, and he spoke about each of the top QB prospects. But what caught everyone's attention were his comments about Peyton Manning:

I’m not supposed to talk about anyone else’s players. He’s still a player with Indianapolis. But with a talent like that, I would be crazy not to consider it if he were available. I’ll leave it at that.

Judy Battista thinks Crennel's words could land the Chiefs in hot water for tampering, but an NFL spokesperson told Will Brinson it was no biggie; Kevin Acee says Chargers fans shouldn't be scared of a potential Manning/KC marriage due to San Diego's record against Peyton and the Colts, as if that means anything at all (not really).

Colts owner Jim Irsay says he met with Manning recently; ex-Colts center Jeff Saturday talks to Peyton regularly and thinks he'll be playing this season. Mike Silver says Manning could end up in any of Seattle, Washington, Miami, Cleveland, KC, Arizona, or even with the Niners or Jets. Plus, he adds that Irsay is clearly in control of his franchise and was wise to dump GM Bill Polian along with his outsized ego, and he thinks Irsay would be well served to publicly acknowledge the team is moving on without Manning.

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The Daily Lard 2-25-12

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! Here's video of John Elway's Combine presser yesterday, and a summary of his comments from the official site. Of course, all anyone heard among Elway's words was the following regarding Tim Tebow:

We're hoping he's going to be the guy for a long, long time.

Again, these are just words, and only actions count. But until the Broncos sign and/or draft another quarterback, words are all we've got. Tebow fans will likely ignore the first two words of Elway's sentence and see unwavering organizational support, while the skeptics will zoom in on that second word.

It's all open to interpretation, and several writers read Elway's quotes in their own ways: Clark Judge focuses on hopingMike Tanier thinks Elway said nothing at all; Will Brinson says Elway made it pretty clear he's not committed to Tim; Jeff Legwold stresses that no matter what Elway thinks, he has to have a Plan B.

Doug Farrar and Jeff Darlington are more interested in when Elway will get to coaching Tim up, and the rules forbidding the Broncos from talking to Noel Mazzone.

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The Daily Lard 2-24-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The league's annual cattle call started yesterday, and if it weren't silly enough to have 300-lb men running in their underwear and 24/7 coverage of their centerfold measurements, the NFL is looking to ramp up the circus atmosphere to yet another level. Why? $traight ca$h, homie.

As Judy Battista details, among the ideas being floated is to have prospects compete with each other in running their forties and performing bench presses. Of course, this sounds like a terrific formula for these ultracompetitive individuals to injure themselves while overdoing it in the name of #winning. You know it'll happen, but you also know the NFL won't give a flying @#$% - as long as they can turn it into a primetime event aired exclusively on NFLN over the course of 12 magical nights.

Surely, fans will next be able to tweet questions to players during their pressers and peek in on what are now private interviews between teams and players, all for the low, low price of $30 on NFL.com. No thanks, to any of this.

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Training with Luke Richesson

Jack Del Rio, far better than many coaches, understands the value and responsibilities of a strength and conditioning coach. Most fans couldn’t name three of them around the league, but it’s a position that carries with it enormous responsibility and a potential benefit that is rare - the ability to increase the effectiveness of the players’ efforts and to simultaneously reduce the number of their injuries.

Del Rio had been a linebacker and a very good one. He’d become a consensus All-American in his senior year with the USC Trojans at the position. He was immediately drafted by the New Orleans Saints, made the All-Rookie Defensive Team, and was named the team’s most valuable rookie. Often on the move from one team to another as a player, Del Rio was voted to the Pro Bowl after the 1994 season, and he credited that in great part to the ferocious attitude that he’d always brought to his own conditioning. It was an attribute that others noticed.

Del Rio retired after the 1996 season, but a lunch with Tony Dungy resulted in an offer from New Orleans head coach Mike Ditka for Del Rio to bring his knowledge to the Saints as their strength and conditioning coach. It was an entry level position for Del Rio, who was promoted to linebackers coach the following year, but his work in that role showed the kind of commitment that Del Rio expects from the players under him. It also explains why, when Del Rio went to Arizona to see the trainer that his players were raving about despite the vast changes and improvements that were and are sweeping through that field, JDR understood enough of what Luke Richesson was doing to make sure that the Jaguars made him an offer that brought him first to Florida. After seeing the results he got over three seasons, JDR has now brought him to Denver.

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The Daily Lard 2-23-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The last time we were graced by Woody's mailbag, he told us that too many people were coaching up Tim Tebow, and the solution was to add Sean Salisbury to the mix. We also learned that Mr. Paige had coined the brilliant acronym EFX™. What might he have for us today? How about we start with some caponomics? Or not...

I don't know cap space from my cap size. Honestly, each season I look at the Broncos' salaries, plus bonuses paid to free agents and rookies, and do my own audit to see if the Broncos are keeping up with other teams and aren't short-changing the fans. I know that's not scientific and not completely accurate, but I have a life, and also I am covering about 15 teams and/or sports in the state.

Silly reader. Woody has not time for your trifling questions. HE'S GOT A LIFE, not to mention the three jobs, and he is covering JV basketball at the other corner of the state, the presidential election, and the events in Syria. Why don't you go ask Legwold?

According to Jeff Legwold of The Post, who is accurate about such things, the Broncos have $91 million committed in salaries for next season.

Yes, Captain Accuracy is our preferred fact finder, never mind claims last offseason that Denver was entering the draft with five picks (they had seven). I'm actually sending my taxes to Legwold, and will be expecting a MEGA REFUND.

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Brian Hendricks and developmental players

Wyoming senior linebacker Brian Hendricks understands the odds. He knows that he’s at best likely to be a late pick or an undrafted free agent, but he also knows that NFL teams place additional value on athletes who have the basic skillset that can be developed into a particular position or function in football. He’s always been athletic, and he’s channeled that athleticism into football for the last four years. It’s where he wants to have a career. But like a lot of young players, he doesn’t have top and elite skills - yet. But Hendricks believes that with time, constant effort and training, he can contribute to a team. The question is going to be whether one of the 32 NFL teams believes that enough to take him on and give him a shot. If one does, it will be because that organization believes that he can be developed enough to be a regular contributor to the team.

Teams are looking for a lot of different things from the players that they take, but there are certain things that the teams tend to have in common. Every team wants a player who has a history of making key plays at important times. Hendricks, for example, made a touchdown-saving stop at the two-yard line (one of his nine tackles that day) against Colorado State in Fort Collins for the final regular season game of his college career. The tackle led to a chance for the Cowboys to make an interception in the endzone two plays later, saving a touchdown and helping the Cowboys to a 22-19 victory. The performance earned Brian his second Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week award. Those kinds of plays never hurt. Players who come up big with something on the line are essential to the team that wants to win the close ones - as Denver often did during the middle of 2011.

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The Daily Lard 2-22-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Naturally, there's plenty of reaction to Brady Quinn's quotes from Mike Silver's GQ article, which Quinn foolishly tried yesterday to portray as a misrepresentation of his words. Silver, being the pro's pro that he is, told Mike Florio he's got a recording of the entire interview, and that Brady has a copy too.

Doug Farrar, Barry Petchesky, and Christmas Ape offer their takes; Woody Paige doesn't really see anything over the line in Brady words, and he says Quinn is a class act; Demaryius Thomas doesn't believe in luck.

Meanwhile, Jeff Legwold thinks Sage Rosenfels and Byron Leftwich are legitimate veteran options to sign and compete with Tebow. Yikes.

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Fat Camp: Pass protection basics

The 2011 Denver Broncos were really bad at protecting the Quarterback, whether it was Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow.  Part of that was on the QBs themselves – Orton lacks escapability, and Tebow was extremely conservative about throwing against tight coverage, and often held the ball too long.  But most of the issue was the play of the individual protection players, and some questionable scheming. 

LT Ryan Clady had a down year, which still put him in the top 10 or so of players at his position.  His foot quickness has never gotten back to what he showed in his first two seasons, and sometimes he gets beat with quickness.  LG Zane Beadles and C J.D. Walton don’t anchor well enough, and both need to get significantly stronger as their careers progress.  RG Chris Kuper was the best of the bunch, but he’s coming off of a broken leg, which is a significant injury.  Finally, RT Orlando Franklin buried guys in the run game, but his foot quickness needs a lot of improvement if he’s going to play outside.

The good news is that this is a group of five players who are all still in their 20s and showed a high degree of durability.  I’ve said this before, but for an offensive lineman, durability is a skill.  Teams tend to carry only eight of them, so if a player gets hurt a lot, he’s a liability.  Linemen get hit a lot, but they tend to be lower-impact close area hits, where the guy they’re colliding with doesn’t have much of a running start.  You have to be able to take 1,000 or so of those hits and play every snap while managing some aches and pains and avoiding ankle sprains and the like.

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