Rookie production in a strange year

It's pretty much an inevitability that the lockout will create issues for all players new to their teams, whether traded players, veteran free agents, draftees or undrafted rookies. Even if a new agreement were reached tomorrow (an unlikely scenario), countless players will already be so far behind the curve, having missed out on playbooks, mini-camps, OTAs and coaching that they won’t be able to contribute right away. For some rookies, their first year could end up a lost one, as coaches will tend to use veterans when possible - they know the game better, and in the Broncos' case the offensive players will be working out of a simpler version of Josh McDaniels' playbook that they’ve already had to master, so they face a stronger likelihood of playing well.

But many of the draft picks are looking at an uphill climb. I think that LB Von Miller has a good shot at contributing right away - he’s played within both 3-4 and 4-3 defenses in college, he was moved around quite a bit as a senior in his Joker role and he’s played in coverage as well as setting the edge and attacking the quarterback. He’s likely to be on Robert Ayers’ left for a lot of his plays, and that won’t hurt either - Ayers has two years under his belt, although he was hurt for part of last season, and he’s shown that he’s a steady player who sets the edge, collapses the pocket and who will clear the way for Miller quite frequently. The strong side of the Broncos' defense could be tough to gain yardage against. For those reasons, Von’s likely to pick up quickly on the Broncos' defensive scheme, whatever it may be, because he’s already bounced from scheme to scheme and excelled in each.

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The Daily Lard 7-11-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter are reporting that an agreement on a new CBA is expected to be reached within the next 7 to 10 days and be ratified at the July 21 league meetings. If that is the case, teams would be provided a three-day window during which they can negotiate exclusively with their own free agents and sign undrafted rookies. Unrestricted veteran free agency would likely begin on July 28 and the preseason would be preserved in full, save possibly the HOF game scheduled for August 7.

Only a few days after free agency begins, teams would be required to set their rosters at 90 players and RFAs would have until August 3 to sign offer sheets, with clubs having four days to match those offers. According to the report, the revenue split is back to the players getting 48 percent and a minimum of 46.5 percent as had been previously agreed to weeks ago.

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The Daily Lard 7-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Former Broncos defensive lineman Pete Duranko passed away on Friday following an 11-year battle with ALS, the disease which would inspire him to become a national spokesman and fundraiser in search of a cure and to raise awareness. Duranko was drafted by the Cleveland Browns out of Notre Dame in 1966 but spent his entire NFL career from 1967 to 1974 with the Broncos, playing in 98 games and starting 76 of them. Regarding his own battle with ALS and his wife's fear of the day when Pete would be unable to care for himself, he told Patrick Saunders in 2003,

“She says, ‘I don’t know if I can handle it.' And I told her, ‘You never know what you can handle.”‘

Duranko was 67 years old and passed in his hometown of Johnstown, PA. Our thoughts go out to the Duranko family.

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Bumper stickers you may have missed

As I was navigating traffic between downtown Denver and the Tech Center the other day, I found myself with some time to kill.

That is to say I was stuck in traffic. 

Rather than complain--or worse, tune in to 104.3 The Fan--I decided to do what any Broncos fan would do when faced with a similar crisis.

I started reading bumper stickers.

Here are five that I saw.  

I'm quite sure I'll have more for you in the future.

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The Daily Lard 7-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The players and owners met for 10 hours yesterday but apparently accomplished little, will remain in touch over the weekend and reconvene for more negotiations on Monday. Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora writes that the loophole left by the Eighth Circuit's ruling likely allows the NFLPA to pursue an expedited injunction to protect the rights of unsigned players, and that if an agreement isn't reached in short order they may do just that. Plus, if Judge Nelson were to grant such an injunction then the NFL would be unable to appeal the decision.

Puzzlingly, Mike Freeman thinks the Eighth Circuit's decision only helps the owners. However, he still thinks reason will prevail in the end. Finally, Andrew Brandt says the two sides are hoping to come up with an agreement that will result in perhaps a decade of labor peace.

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Fat Camp: DB alignment concepts

Happy On The Road Friday, friends.  If you’re reading this in the morning or early afternoon, I’m on my way back to the Motherland for the weekend.  I haven’t been there since Thanksgiving of 2009, so I’m overdue for a visit during which I’ll surely remember why I skipped town 17 years ago - just in time to head back west.

Today, I’m going to talk about some defensive back alignment concepts and how they relate to the pre-snap reads that QBs and WRs have to make on offense.  I’ve been planning to write about this for a while - and it’s pretty straightforward, but after Tuesday’s July 5th fireworks I almost wish I had something good and non-football related on my mind with which to tweak my critics.  I don’t at the moment, but we’ll see how it plays.

I could care less about the Casey Anthony trial, and I constantly lamented the lack of a Does Ted Give A Crap? Predictor in the MSNBC iPhone App, as I was repeatedly hit with breaking news alerts about the trial.  I guess that’s the main news of the last couple days, right?  I could go down the path of why the media should be much more measured about these kinds of things, and that Nancy Grace should be selling ugly knitted mittens at a flea market somewhere that has a high population of crazy people, but I’ll skip it for today.

Anyway, I’m planning on covering three concepts today: Landmarks, Leverage, and Posture.  Couldn’t you just see a Ted Bartlett CBA article about a Landmark court decision giving one side Leverage, and forcing the other to Posture?  I sure could, but this isn’t it.

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Eighth Circuit rules that lockout is legal

UPDATE 12:37PM ET - The NFL and NFLPA have issued a joint statement regarding the Eighth Circuit's decision:

While we respect the court's decision, today's ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation. We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come and allow for a full 2011 season.

Original Entry 11:37AM ET - The Eighth Circuit of Appeals has overturned Judge Susan Nelson's earlier injunction which had temporarily lifted the NFL lockout. As with the earlier temporary stay of Judge Nelson's injunction, Judge Kermit Bye stands alone as the opposing voice in the decision while his two colleagues ruled that the NFL's work stoppage had arisen out of a labor dispute and thus was protected by the Norris-LaGuardia Act.

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The Daily Lard 7-8-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! During a lengthy sitdown with John Fox yesterday, Woodrow picked the new HC's brain on the Denver QB situation. And while Fox says he has an idea who the starter will be, Paige surprisingly admitted to having no clue whether it's Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow whom Fox has in mind. We all were told when Fox was first hired that he's rather coy with his public statements, and that while he loves to talk he prefers not to actualy say anything while doing so - perhaps this is our first, best dose of that. Fox provided fodder for the backers of Tebow: he'd rather a "gamer" and leader who can handle pressure than someone who excels in practice - and for Orton fans: it's crucial the starter has a firm grasp on the offensive system. Surely, we can all interpret that through whatever lenses we're already wearing...

Fox went on to tell Paige that adding a running back is the team's #1 priority come free agency (more than a DT?!?!) and claimed the Broncos would fashion the "most sophisticated" rushing attack in the league, whatever that means. As Ted had alluded to upon the HC's hiring, Fox says he will leave the game-day playcalling to the coordinators and that his involvement will be heavier during the week, especially on defense.

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Tweets of the Week - Flintstones Vitamins, big man pedicures and stank breath

We've heard/read a gajillion times that the Broncos are likely to pursue a veteran free agent RB or two this summer, and just about every speculative column tabs DeAngelo Williams as a prime target for Denver. One name we haven't seen thrown about much is that of the Ravens' Willis McGahee, who is due to make $6 million in salary in 2011 and with whom Baltimore is said to be seeking a cheaper deal. Apparently D.J. Williams, McGahee's teammate from their Miami Hurricanes days would love to reunite with his old pal, or at least adopt some of his workout recovery wisdom...

DJ: @WillisMcGahee you need to be on my team! I'll play some Fullback for u too...@WoodDro59 I figured out why @WillisMcGahee been working out like a beast. My dog still take flinstone vitamins. I'm headed to wallgreens...@WoodDro59 I also seen @willismcgahee make a protien shake wit breast milk. He said it helps with his recovery.

WM: @DjWilliam55 @wooddro59 so that's how u feel...@DjWilliam55 @wooddro59 I'll giVe y'all the secret when I come over.

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The Daily Lard 7-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! A collection of lawyers on both sides met yesterday for almost 11 hours yesterday in New York, apparently continuing to work on the smaller details with the mindset of reducing the expected 10-14 day lag between an agreement and signed document. Sounds a bit like putting the cart before the horse right? Couldn't the players and owners be working on the more crucial facets of a potential agreement concurrently?

Either way, De Smith, the Commish, the players, owners and Judge Boylan are expected to rejoin the talks today, although Boylan is scheduled to go on vacation on Saturday. If an agreement isn't reached before then, it will be interesting to see if the two sides will be able to forge ahead without resorting to their prior games and without allowing NFLPA outside attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn to sabotage the negotiations in holding out for a beneficial verdict in the antitrust suit. Then again, it's thought that both the Eighth Circuit and Judge Doty have completed their rulings and would issue them if the two sides were to stalemate again.

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