Happy Friday, Broncos fans! In accordance with the new CBA's ban on full-contact two-a-days, the Broncos held a private walkthrough yesterday evening to complete the first day of training camp. RG Chris Kuper, who had not worked with the starters during morning practice, was back with them for the evening.
As for that morning session (BTV, photos), the departure of undrafted rookie Eric Page, who was waived due to a knee injury, left Eric Decker, Syd'Quan Thompson, Tracy Porter, and Drayton Florence to field punts. C.J. Davis was the backup center, meaning rookie Philip Blake isn't just competing with starter J.D. Walton for the spot, if he is at all.
Good Evening, Broncos fans! The team kicked off training camp today in front of the largest crowd ever assembled at Dove Valley; nearly 4,400 fans gathered to see Peyton Manning & Co. practice (photos).
Although Chris Kuper has been cleared medically, he did not practice with the starting five today; Manny Ramirez subbed for him. Brandon Stokley sat out with a case of the flu; Andre Caldwell acted as the third receiver and made several impressive plays.
Over on defense, Mitch Unrein (due to an injury to Justin Bannan) and Rahim Moore ran with the first-teamers, with Tracy Porter lining up across from Champ Bailey and ahead of Drayton Florence and Chris Harris.
Manning and coach John Fox (videos) spoke afterward and praised the tempo of practice and the level of fan support. Peyton says he's already accustomed to wearing his new orange and blue colors, and that he appreciates being back to the familiarity of practice. So far, so good.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peytonpalooza, the series of events formerly known around these parts as Broncos training camp, kicks off today at Dove Valley. Prepare yourselves for the forthcoming onslaught of Peyton Porn of this variety from NFL Network (He's HERE!). Later today, the "He THREW!" episode will air, to be followed by "He threw IN PADS" on Saturday.
In a couple of weeks, there will be the four-hour pregame show for his preseason debut in Chicago, along with the "He took his FIRST HIT as a Bronco!" segment that will loop endlessly on Sportscenter, with "He GOT UP and threw again!" shortly thereafter, we can only hope.
Until then, we'll get to hear/read over and over that expectations have been lifted in Denver, that everyone is watching Peyton, that his presence turns what is normally a mundane responsibility into a rock show, and that the defense finally gets to face a real quarterback in practice. And for six months, or until the Broncos are (or aren't) eliminated, we'll be reminded that the next Big Game is being played in the new QB's hometown.
According to head coach John Fox (video), the Broncos won’t be giving many first-string reps to longtime starting linebacker D.J. Williams.
Williams, entering his ninth season with the team, will be serving a six-game suspension for ‘non-human urine’ in a required urinalysis, and who may also be dealing with the legal aftermath of a DUI. The first attempt at trying the November, 2010 DUI incident ended in a mistrial over the selection of jurors in May. The case will be retried in August.
On the day players are reporting to Dove Valley for conditioning tests in advance of tomorrow's first training camp practice, the Broncos have already waived two undrafted rookies due to injuries.
The MAC record holder for career receptions, wideout Eric Page had been expected to compete for a roster spot as a punt returner. But according to Mike Klis, Page suffered a torn ACL recently, while former Texas A&M corner Coryell Judie reportedly has a disc problem in his back.
Picking up from where we left off on Monday, let's take a closer look at the play of Eric Decker.
I found a good article by Matt Waldman about Decker from last July, in which he compares the wideout's skill set with that of teammate and fellow 2009 draftee Demaryius Thomas, along with a highlight film breakdown of the strengths of Decker’s game. I liked it, even though it's from a year ago, when people still had some understandable concerns about Thomas’s Achilles injury and his overall health.
I don’t see much value in comparing the two to each other, beyond the sheer fun of perhaps passing an afternoon at a sunny table in the bar area of your friendly local brewpub, while sampling the offerings of the season. Much like those beers themselves, Decker and Thomas each have strengths and weaknesses. Broncos fans have yet to see both of them healthy and receiving passes from a top NFL quarterback.
Like most of us, I’m looking forward to the experience.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! During the team's annual shareholder meeting, Packers team president Mark Murphy offered some revealing comments regarding the possibility of an 18-game season:
Now, to be honest with you, I couldn't support a move to 18. I just think with all the focus on the player health and safety, it would be really hard to do that. . . . I would be in support of a move to two (preseason games) and 16. Reduce the number of preseason games.
We've talked about at the league level that it wasn't that long ago boxing was one of the most popular sports in America. And I think people just got turned off by the violence and the impact that it had on boxers. My concern in the long term is that parents look at the game and say, 'It's too violent, there's too many risks involved. I don't want my son playing the game.'
According to Mike Freeman, Murphy is far from alone in backing off a push for an 18-game schedule, and he hears this retreat has come in response to the lawsuits filed against the league by so many ex-players. Freeman says that not only the sheer volume of names, but also the prominence of them, has had a profound effect on the owners' outlook.
Has there ever been a more Peter Kingsian line than the following?
GATE 1, LAGUARDIA AIRPORT, NEW YORK -- Let the season begin.
Mind you, Peter King does not fly out of LGA's Gate C14 or worse, D10.
This is, after all, Mr. Starcock Elite Voyager we're talking about here. Mr. Starcock Elite Voyager only uses Gate 1, he'll have you know it, and don't bother trying to tell him the flight he's on usually departs from Gate B7 in a different terminal.
But aside from that obnxiousness, you should know that the NFL season begins right now.
A day before players are due to report for training camp at Dove Valley, John Elway announced via Twitter that the Broncos have agreed to terms with rookies Brock Osweiler and Ronnie Hillman.
Denver drafted Osweiler 57th overall out of Arizona State to be groomed as the QB-in-waiting behind Peyton Manning. Hillman was selected ten picks later out of San Diego State, and it is hoped he will challenge Willis McGahee for playing time, and he may help usher Knowshon Moreno out of town after three disappointing seasons.
Once Osweiler and Hillman's deals are finalized, the Broncos will have all of their players under contract, and they are reportedly negotiating with left tackle Ryan Clady on a long-term deal.
SDUT UTSD columnist Don Norcross thinks Denver's schedule will be too much for the Broncos to handle, even with Peyton Manning at the helm:
But at 36, Manning hasn’t played in more than a year. He’s adjusting to a new coaching staff, new teammates. Word from the Rockies is that’s he’s still not throwing with full velocity. Gotta be a rust factor there. And check out the Broncos’ schedule. It’s brutal. Road games include Falcons, Patriots and Ravens. Me, I think the Chargers’ toughest rival in the AFC West will be the Kansas City Chiefs. With RB Jamaal Charles, S Eric Berry and TE Tony Moeaki back after missing virtually all of 2011 with injuries, the Chiefs essentially get three first additional round draft picks this season. KC will be a tough out. Tougher than Denver.
Norcross might be right. On paper, Kansas City can make the case they're the toughest team in the AFC West.