As the preseason predictions abound, one point seems to come up repeatedly. Can Denver stop the run? Khaled Elsayed talked about it over at Pro Football Focus:
The unquestioned star of the Broncos defensive line (if you ask me anyway) in 2011 was Brodrick Bunkley. The wrecking ball of a defensive tackle has moved onto the Saints had our highest run defense grade of the year for any defensive tackle (+28.4) and he did it while being limited to base packages. With Bunkley now gone the lineup is going to consist of Ty Warren, Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe, none of whom can do what Bunkley was able to do.
Take Warren, he’s a talented player but hasn’t played a snap since the 2009 season. Justin Bannan is a solid rotational player coming off a good year, but nowhere near as destructive as Bunkley. And, even if rookie Wolfe takes the league by storm he’s a different type of tackle, so it’s hard to see how Denver will replace that production. Considering it’s an area they need to improve, letting Bunkley go could prove costly.
This is an interesting question, and the answers won’t come before the season starts. There’s been a lot of talk about the potential problems for the Broncos in stopping the run due to the loss of Bunkley. I have a somewhat different perspective on this issue. Given the roster changes, I’m not sure that losing Bunkley is the tragedy that some have suggested.
Happy Wednesday, friends. Here I go for the third day in a row. Yay! I left work at 5pm yesterday, which is rare, because it was primary election day in Florida. I live an hour from work, so in order to go vote, I had to get out on time, and hustle.
To my pleasant surprise, Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan of Sirius XM NFL Radio were at Dove Valley for Broncos training camp. I always like when they talk to football people, because coaches and players tend to open up to them a lot more than they do with other media. The difference is really clear with a guy like Bill Belichick, who obviously feels that telling regular idiot media anything of substance is a waste of time and breath, but that telling Tim & Pat some substantive things is worthwhile, because they know what he means. It’s a very similar phenomenon with John Fox, who appears on Movin’ the Chains every Tuesday evening during the season.
Sirius isn’t so good about making a lot of audio available online, so Doug asked me to paraphrase some of the things I heard, which included some good insight, much of which tended to confirm our speculation.
Onlookers noted the Broncos' practice on Tuesday for its intensity, and unfortunately, the price of going hard when it doesn't yet count can sometimes come with a heavy price.
A day after longtime starting right guard Chris Kuper was lost to a broken bone in his forearm (four to six weeks), the news is worse on newly-minted starting defensive end Jason Hunter.
Hunter suffered a torn triceps that will cost him at least two months, and possibly the entire season; a similar injury forced DT Ty Warren to miss all of 2011.
Updated 11:32am ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The unraveling life and career of Chad Johnson was front and center yesterday.
Just 41 days into their marriage, and three days after Johnson was arrested and charged with domestic violence, Evelyn Lozada filed for divorce, calling the union "irretrievably broken."
To make matters worse, the publicity-seeking wideout's release from the Dolphins was broadcast and recorded for posterity as part of HBO's Hard Knocks. At least Johnson and coach Joe Philbin appeared to handle the whole thing well, for what that's worth.
Chad expressed contrition in a statement, but considering the circumstances, chose some unfortunate wording when he said about his soon-to-be ex-wife, "I truly love her to death."
Does Elvis Dumervil have a wee bit of a temper problem?
Things haven't gone as promisingly as one might hope. First there was a little incident (allegedly) with a security guard at SAF (then known as Invesco). Next came the road rage thingy (or not). And today, Dumervil came to blows with Knowshon Moreno in practice.
It's good to be the king. It's not so good to be the king of getting really pissed off.
You never know when the muse is going to strike. It could be at the strip club. It might be at a staff meeting. Or perhaps you're in church tuning out a sermon on the Book of Job while considering the suffering of Nickelback fans. The point is this: you never ever know.
Enter Tim Tebow's 25th Birthday.
If shirtless the Teebs would just praise--
a hero to Christians and gays.
No good is his pass;
it falls to the grass
but zombies demand that he stays.
Feel free to take your shot. Give Teebs some media attention since he (and his blood-sucking brother) don't seek it; he only goes shirtless when it's raining--you know, because no one wants to run in the rain with clothing.
Good Evening, Broncos fans! We already covered the new injuries from today's practice (photos); CB Tracy Porter (illness) also joined LB Keith Brooking (hamstring), LB Danny Trevathan (ankle), and S Jim Leonhard (knee) on the sideline.
WR Andre Caldwell and defensive lineman Jamie Blatnick excelled in the morning session; the team will hold a walkthrough this evening, and Thursday will mark the final public practice of this year's training camp.
DE Elvis Dumervil apparently exhibited what is now becoming his trademark temper today, when he got into a tiff with RB Knowshon Moreno; D.J. Williams was again called to action with the injuries to Trevathan and Brooking.
One of the many 2011 Broncos storylines that, shall we say, slipped under the radar, was that the offensive line was the only one in the league to start the same five players for all sixteen regular-season games.
They won't have such good fortune in 2012.
Updated 5:10pm ET
Happy Tuesday, friends. I’ve had a chance to review Thursday night’s game a few times, and in the spirit of what I did yesterday with rookie QBs, I decided to share some thoughts about the Broncos’ 2012 rookie class. Since I’m so interested in player development, I’m thinking I may do so semi-regularly throughout the season.
Derek Wolfe - DT, 2nd-round pick
Wolfe makes me smirk, because not only was I all over him before the Draft, so was Doc. It was a good day to be an IAOFM guy while the Legwolds and other writers of the world were flailing. Remember, Legwold had never heard of Wolfe when the Broncos picked him.
Well, Wolfe looked like the real deal on Thursday. He has an excellent mix of size, strength, quickness, effort, and ability to use his hands well as a pass rusher. His hand use is really advanced for a rookie, and I think he has a nice innate feel for how a pocket is moving that he can employ in working toward the step-up/escape point. You can say that he gets garbage or coverage sacks, but how many times over the years have we wished that somebody could play inside and pick up a few of those?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! DT Justin Bannan (calf) finally returned to practice without a hitch yesterday (photos, more photos), while newly-signed linebacker Keith Brooking (hamstring) left early for an MRI. T Ryan Harris (ankle) and FB Chris Gronkowski (groin) were back in action; LB Danny Trevathan (ankle), S Quinton Carter (knee), and S Jim Leonhard (knee) remain sidelined.
Carter's knee injury apparently dates back to last season, and its repair was prompted by the hamstring injury he suffered early in camp. TE Julius Thomas says his knee recovery is still only at 80%, but along with Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas, he was one of the day's standouts.
Eric Decker had a productive day working against Champ Bailey, and the backup running backs all made notable plays. Ronnie Hillman also made a big play, and he would have been active in the preseason opener were it not for the rainy conditions.