The Daily Lard 5-4-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! There is a growing dispute over the quality of evidence the NFL holds regarding the Saints' bounty scandal. Former US Attorney Mary Jo White says the NFL has some powerful evidence against New Orleans, perhaps referring to DE Anthony Hargrove's reported written statement detailing the bounty system and acknowledging his role in it.

That would probably qualify as strong-to-quite-strong evidence, right? Well, an NFLPA lawyer doesn't think so, and Mike Silver says the NFL must publicize whatever evidence they do have, stressing that there appears to be no proof of money changing hands, or of any players actually suffering injuries resulting from hits delivered with intent to harm.

Meanwhile, suspended LB Jonathan Vilma requested a meeting with the NFL prior to the announcement of his suspension, but he then decided not to go on advice from his lawyers.

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Terrell Suggs likely done for the year

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, the reigning AP NFL Defensive POY, is expected to miss the entire 2012 season due to a torn Achilles suffered possibly while playing basketball (or, not?) in Arizona. The former 10th-overall pick is due to make $4.9M this season and is expected to undergo surgery next week.

The Broncos will head to Baltimore for a Week 15 matchup that will look significantly more winnable if the Ravens are without Suggs, who accumulated 14 sacks, two interceptions, seven forced fumbles, and six passes defensed, and 75 tackles in 2011.

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RIP Junior Seau Lard 5-3-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans. We've continued to add quotes and links to our story on the death of Junior Seau, and will continue to do so. Some poignant words about player safety and the future of football from the man himself are worth emphasizing here, via Jim Trotter:

In March, we spoke about the perception that commissioner Roger Goodell was making the game too soft with his enhanced enforcement of player safety rules. "It has to happen," he said. "Those who are saying the game is changing for the worse, well, they don't have a father who can't remember his name because of the game. I'm pretty sure if everybody had to wake with their dad not knowing his name, not knowing his kids' name, not being able to function at a normal rate after football, they would understand that the game needs to change. If it doesn't there are going to be more players, more great players, being affected by the things that we know of and aren't changing. That's not right." (h/t Judy Battista)

RIP, Junior. You will be missed.

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Seau’s death ruled suicide; family will allow researchers to study brain

Originally posted 5/2/12 at 2:16 pm ET; latest update 5/4/12 at 7:52 am ET

Former Chargers, Dolphins, and Patriots linebacker Junior Seau was found dead at his home in Oceanside, California Wednesday morning, at the age of 43.

Police investigated Seau's death as a suicide, and the autopsy performed on Thursday confirmed it. Bennett Omalu, the forensic pathologist who made the initial discovery of CTE, participated in the autopsy, and on Thursday evening Seau's family announced they would allow CTE researchers to study Junior's brain.

Drafted fifth overall in the 1990 Draft, Seau played 20 seasons - 13 in San Diego,  three in Miami, and four in New England.  His best seasons came with Chargers, however, and often, his best games came against the Denver Broncos.

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Four current and former Saints punished; Porter spared

The NFL has announced that for his part in the Saints' bounty scandal, linebacker Jonathan Vilma will be suspended for the entire 2012 season.

Additionally, defensive end Will Smith was suspended for four games, DE Anthony Hargrove (who signed with Green Bay in March) got an eight-game penalty, and linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Browns) was hit with a three-game suspension.

Cornerback Tracy Porter, who signed a one-year deal with the Broncos after four seasons with the Saints, was never publicly implicated in the scandal, and he was not punished.

According to Albert Breer, the NFLPA is planning to defend the four suspended players on the grounds that the NFL lacks evidence to implicate them, and all four players are expected to appeal their punishments.

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The Daily Lard 5-2-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Part of the predraft smokescreen emanating from Denver was the notion that the Broncos were considering Coby Fleener at #25. It didn't make sense then, and it doesn't make sense now, what with the team having already signed two free agents at the position in Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme to add to youngsters Virgil Green and Julius Thomas.

But having watched plenty of Stanford games last season in the hopes that Denver would Luck their way into the #1 pick, I had grown quite fond of Fleener's skills, and was excited about the possibility of the Broncos adding him. A few readers pointed out the silliness of that notion, and here's a tip of the hat to them. Now that we're back to reality...

Bill Barnwell writes that aside from quarterback (too easy), tight end is the position which got the biggest upgrade in Denver:

While Tamme is another ex-Colt, he's one of the few members of the Manning offense who isn't past his prime and might actually flourish in his new digs. Denver also made a nice investment by adding Joel Dreessen, who's consistently been an effective, efficient player behind Owen Daniels in Houston. Even if the Broncos hadn't added Manning, signing Tamme and Dreessen would have been a wise move; by doing so, the Broncos now have one of the five best one-two punches at tight end in football.

Well now, that's some hefty praise. We'll take it.

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You Got Served: Draft groupthink

Did you hear the one about the NFL team which “reached” for a player to fill a need?  That’s a no-no, picking for need.  You should be drafting the best player available (hereafter BPA), regardless of need, goes the story.  I reject that thought as being over-generalized, because if you have a bad team, you should be picking to fill roles that will allow you to be competitive.

If you’re the Giants, then fine - take the BPA - if there’s no massive need to fill.  Some would say that Jerry Reese did that over the weekend (including Reese), but I would tell you that RB David Wilson and WR Rueben Randle filled needs, and specifically replaced Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham.  The Draftnik groupthink didn’t have the Giants universally taking any position, so that allows Reese to say he went BPA, regardless of the reality.

Then there’s the Ravens taking Courtney Upshaw.  They got the BPA and he’s a pass rusher!  Huzzah for Ozzie Newsome!  Except that Upshaw isn’t a dynamic pass rusher, and that he does fill a clear need, with the departure of Jarret Johnson, as an edge-setter in the running game on the strongside.  If Ozzie had a slightly worse track record, you’d be reading about how as an Alabama alum, he shows too much love to Crimson Tide guys like Upshaw.  (Johnson also played at Alabama, actually.)

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Here is Peyton Manning wearing a Broncos jersey

via DirecTV

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Fare thee well, football-playing Michael Bolton with dreadlocks Lard 5-1-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver waived 27-year-old wide receiver Tim Toone yesterday. Toone had been added to the practice squad in January following the injury to Eric Decker and promotion of D'Andre Goodwin to the active roster, and Denver signed him to a future contract a week after that.

Toone was made 2010's Mr. Irrelevant after the Lions drafted him 255th overall out of Weber State, although his prize package for that achievement wasn't quite what Chandler Harnish has been promised. Harnish, it turns out, had been all set to join the Chargers as an undrafted free agent before Indy selected him, and the Raiders and Chiefs had also expressed interest in the Northern Illinois QB.

But back to Toone - Tim (5-10, 185) was made expendable by Denver's addition of undrafted wideouts Eric Page (like Toone, a diminutive returner at 5-10, 190) and Gerell Robinson. So in terms of WR and KR depth, the departure of Toone won't likely be more than a blip on the transaction log. But, then there's THAT HAIR.

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Discerning Denver’s offseason forest from the draft trees

I walked out of the draft nonplussed. If I'd been plussed, I'd have been much happier, but some days you just can't get plussed to save your life. The draft was so different from the energy of the free agent period (which was moderately ecstatic), that several moves during the draft took me completely off guard. Rather than go to the draft board, though, I took a somewhat different approach. I went back to the team - the one the Broncos had in February, and then I looked at the one they have today and how they put those pieces in place. I'm still getting my head around all the CFAs and I'm going to be buried in film for a while, but a pattern soon occurred to me that I couldn't ignore.

I was recently asked by a reader who's also a friend to consider looking at this year's FA/draft/CFA period in terms of what the Eagles were doing last year - they were supposed to be the winners of the Offseason Olympics in 2011, and Denver was in 2012. What were the basic approaches of each team? What I found - and I'll probably publish this at some point with supportive evidence - was that they really did a little preemptive striking; getting new and upgraded players into the positions that they could handle financially when the current players were near the end of their contracts and/or underplaying, aging, or asking for too much for their performance. It wasn't what the media made it out to be -  and, no shock there.

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