The Daily Lard 4-19-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's defensive tackle day over at NFL.com, where Pat Kirwan writes that Alabama's Marcell Dareus has the best chance to dominate in the pros, pointing out his youth (he's just 21 - almost two years younger than Nick Fairley) and remarkable 10-yard split time (1.66s). Meanwhile, Kirwan is among the crowd that thinks Fairley is a boom-or-bust prospect, citing the player's lack of dedication in the weight room and the perceived tendency to disappear in some games. Then again, Kirwan writes that Fairley sometimes looks like the next Warren Sapp.

Meanwhile, Bucky Brooks lauds the versatility of Dareus in terms of the various defensive fronts he can fit into and his pass-rushing abilities. As for Fairley, Brooks says the Auburn star looks on film like the most dominant defender in the draft, calling him an impact player and a tone-setter. Brooks is hearing the same knocks everyone else is regarding Fairley; questions of character, technique, motor, work ethic and attitude.

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Head Game: The future of NFL football and player safety

There are few topics - even with the legal brawl that the NFL has descended into - that have been getting as much interest, concern and press as the problems of concussions and long-term health issues in the modern game. A sham committee, bought and controlled by the league, has been replaced by real research and painfully difficult conclusions - there is no longer any doubt that multiple concussive issues are very real and extraordinarily difficult to deal with. That being said, I’m feeling increasing positive about the effect that this debate is having on youth and college football, and on the general population, who never really give a thought to how many concussions an average person might experience over time.

That being the case, I had occasion to respond to a recent email comment by a reader who had experienced three concussions of his own. I told him: 

I'm so pleased to hear that you're getting checked on the concussion issue. Getting a baseline at the very least, especially after three, is just so important. Over our lives, a few falls and a careless driver or two happen later on to a lot of people - probably most of them. Knowing that there's a potential problem and then applying whatever solutions are currently available (and that aspect of the field is growing rapidly) really makes sense:  the future holds a lot of promise with techniques of dealing with that area of healthcare.

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MNF opener? Lard 4-18-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Klis, the Broncos are actually under consideration to host one of the Monday Night openers for the 2011 season following six straight road openers. For AFC teams to play in the later slot, they have to do so during the 11AM BT (Broncos Time) slot, as CBS broadcasts the U.S. Open men's final during the later one. Hence, all of these early road games for Denver to start the season.

It's a safe bet that Denver would host the second of the two Monday Night games, because there's no way ESPN would want the squad that went 4-12 last year to open their season. But really - why would ESPN even be willing to have Denver be a part of either game? Can't be great for ratings - unless of course, Tim Tebow is starting...

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The Daily Lard 4-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his Sunday column, Dan Pompei writes that unfortunately for the Broncos, few teams are actually interested in moving up towards the top of the draft. He buys the notion that Cam Newton is headed to Carolina, but wonders if that's a very good fit. As for Newton's Auburn teammate, Pompei writes that the issue of Nick Fairley missing a flight for a team visit is not a noteworthy one but rather a common occurence, and not a reflection of the kid's character.

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The Daily Lard 4-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Via Williamson, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is reporting that Shanny and the Skins are desperate to trade up from the #10 spot for a quarterback, and McClain is guessing that it's Blaine Gabbert. Williamson points out that if Washington were to move all the way to #2 in a deal with the Broncos, they'd need to use some future picks (or maybe a player?) to do so, at least as far as the Jimmy Johnson draft chart goes. Big Bill also says that #10 may be a bit farther than Denver is interested in sliding back, but who knows - maybe they could move back to ten and then orchestrate another deal to move back up a few notches...

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You Got Served - Capital One Girls edition

Happy Friday, friends, and welcome to another edition of You Got Served.  There’s been a semi-interesting development in the labor front, and I owe you a Vegas debrief too, whether you want one or not.  In between, we’ll talk some football in advance of the approaching Draft.  Armed with a lighter checking account, iTunes on shuffle rocking some Aimee Mann, (One is the loneliest number) and the Will to Dominate, we proceed.  Ready…. BEGIN!!!

1.  I’m not a lawyer, thank Baptist god, and I’ve never played one on television.  Mostly in my TV experiences, I’ve competed in spelling bees, glared menacingly at a camera guy while carrying trash off the Spruance following a hurricane sortie, or given a politically incorrect opinion or six.  All the sort of stuff you’d expect from a guy like me.  As a non-lawyer, I’m often left to speculate on legal matters which pertain to football, because there aren’t a lot of football writers who are admitted to the bar.  I had a pretty high Wonderlic score when I applied for a job at Progressive a few years ago, so I just kind of trust that, and wing it.

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The Daily Lard 4-15-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Mike Klis checked in on a few Broncos linemen who are working out together, including Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton, Chris Kuper and Ryan Harris. Meanwhile, WR Eric Decker is apparently working out with Cardinals superstar Larry Fitzgerald (good choice!) and Elvis Dumervil is sweating with his pop.

According to Klis, the players are getting regular updates on the labor situation from team union reps Kyle Orton, Brian Dawkins and Russ Hochstein.

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Talegating: Mark Herzlich

It’s one of the most inspiring stories in this year’s draft: He was born Sandon Mark Herzlich, Jr., on September 1, 1987, to Sandon and Barbara Herzlich, and became known as Mark. He also has a younger brother, Bradley. They’re a close-knit family, a factor that played a role in his recovery from being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in 2009, a cancer that attacks bones, and which took away part of his left femur, the bone in the thigh, which has been replaced by a 12-inch titanium rod. Mark moved back to be nearer to them in that time.

Herzlich has won a multitude of awards for the way that he handled his disease, and the way that he created outreach opportunities to convince other sufferers that they could beat their cancers, recover and have any life that appealed to them. He won the Rudy Award in 2010 - an honor that’s given to a college football player each year who shows exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment. It was presented to Herzlich's father at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Dallas. It was only one of many. He was also given the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award for the most courageous player during his senior year. 

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The Daily Lard 4-14-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Alabama DT Marcell Dareus and LSU CB Patrick Peterson visited Dove Valley yesterday, while next Monday will bring Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure to town. On Tuesday the Broncos will host Auburb QB Cam Newton, Abilene Christian WR Edmond Gates and Baylor RB Jay Finley, and on Wednesday Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert, Villanova OT Ben Ijalana and K-State RB Daniel Thomas will visit.

John Elway described Dareus as "big, strong, he comes from a good background. Reliable. His traits are all good," while describing Peterson as a "big guy who can run. Athletic. All he did in college was play bump, man coverage. So he has that experience. Plus, he's explosive in the return game."

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Broncography: LB Braxton Kelley

As the silly season of mock drafts and GM-speak ratchets up to full gear, it's easy to lose sight of the second and third columns of the depth charts. There's been plenty of chatter about the Broncos potentially drafting Von Miller out of Texas A&M to upgrade their linebacker corps. But for today, let's hop off the rumor/speculation carousel and focus on what Denver actually has in terms of young linebacking talent: Braxton Kelley.

Kelley was introduced to the Broncos as an undersized 6’0”, 226 lb. college free agent in 2009, a player many of us had hoped would turn out to be another Wesley Woodyard. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad and under strength and conditioning coach Rich Tuten’s constant tutelage (along with Tuten’s assistants, Greg Saporta and Justin Lovett). Kelley suffered an injury in June of 2010 and was placed on IR, but he's stayed with his training while recovering from his injury and has emerged from the experience as a 242-lb middle linebacker on a team that is in dire need of faster linebackers and talented depth. Kelley’s 40 time leading up to the 2009 Draft was 4.74, with a peak time of 4.65 - he was hardly a burner, but his speed was more than functional since he has an explosive first step and takes great angles to the ball. He was in a classic situation:  a player who played much faster on the field than he timed in a straight line 40.

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