Training camp has been nothing if not eventful. As is common at this time of year, some events are positive, some are not. First, I was asked on a thread about the injuries to Josh Barrett and Kenny McKinley. McKinley had a knee injury that is unrelated to size or power - get hit the wrong way and you've got the injury. I haven't heard anything on time frames for Kenny. Barrett hurt his shoulder, but he won't be rehabbing in Denver - New England picked him up off of waivers when we went to put him on IR. In a way, that works out very well - we have several new special teams players (like Joe 'Tyson' Mays and Kevin Alexander) who may be able to contribute more in regular game play than Barrett was able to. And, we needed room for the new ST players. I doubt that Barrett being exposed was a total accident.
Although the Broncos loss of Moreno and Buckhalter caused most of us to hold our collective breath, Denver seems to have dodged a bullet. Moreno's injury is worse and at least 3 weeks is expected, while Buckhalter might be back in a week. Tyler Polumbus has given us reasons to hope for Clady's quick return, and training camp has started off with a bang!
I thought that it might be helpful to those of us who like to prepare for games against the foes Denver will meet first to keep an eye on some of them in training camp. This isn't intended as a long diatribe on all 16 games, but it seemed reasonable to know what our first few foes are showing: are they getting their players in camp? Anyone important (like Jared Gaither, starting RT for BAL) going down? Anyone new standing out? You've got questions, the Great and Powerful INT (and the not-so-much Doc Bear) has answers. I thought that I'd just start with our first 5 opponents, plus a short note on our division rivals.
When Josh McDaniels took on the task of remaking the Denver Broncos into a perennial playoff contender, his approach to player personnel was relatively direct. He put in place manuals for each of the positions that laid out in detail the height, weight and physical characteristics of each of the players that he wanted to see on the field as well as the mental attributes. He also reworked the scouting department, getting them up to speed on the way that they wanted players scouted and the types of skillsets that were valued by the organization. Overall, his approach was simple - he wanted tough, physical, smart versatile players at every slot on the field. With the draft of 2010, one of his final selections seems to be the epitome of that concept.
While a defensive lineman in college, and one who played both the DE and DT positions, Jammie (pronounced JAY-mee) Kirlew is exactly what the coach ordered. Whether or not he has the level of skill to make the leap from college to the NFL is still to be determined. Whether or not Kirlew fits into the outline that the Broncos have drawn is not - it fits him like a glove. One credit that he's earned was putting in place a system from the regional scouts to the tense moments of the draft know, understand their roles within it, and it's producing the kind of players that McDaniels and Xanders like. The further question of whether these are the players that the team can win with is yet to be determined. Jammie Kirlew was on the Denver board as a 5th round player, as was Syd'Quan Thompson. A quick quid pro quo involving the Denver pick in the 2011 draft and both players were slated to wear orange and blue.
Every year, during the lull between the appetizer or OTAs and the 'meat' of training camp, articles start to filter through the blogosphere suggesting various combinations of players for the 53 man final active roster. This year, many positions are fairly set (or appear to be so), while others are obvious battles that may go down to the last two or three roster slots. This year, the players at OL, WR, CB, and OLB seem to be looking at the most competitive fights. While judicious use of the PUP option may smooth out some things in the short run, finalizing a 53 man roster looks to be a tough set of choices.
Within the past week, to mix my sports metaphors, the Broncos stepped up to the plate. Despite back and forth theories and contradictions both within the fanbase and the media about how the Broncos were treating or mis-treating the well-named 'Doom', the delay was just a matter of working out the details. Doom was due his 3.168 million on his first contract, which would have ended later this year. But once the i's were dotted and the t's crosses, including this season, Elvis had a brand new 6 year, 61.5 million dollar contract.
So many folks have asked me about the story of why Walter Payton used that funny, straight-legged almost kicking style of running when he broke free that I feel like I was inadvertently teasing you. I didn't feel right about that, and as it turns out, I had quiet, nice day today. I had time to put together the things that I know about the tale. I hope that you enjoy it.
A brief background - I grew up in several cities, but I was born in Cook County Hospital and my family moved back to Chicago in the 60's, when I was 10. A friend over on MHR sent me this link (find it here) regarding some of the most memorable players in history. It's no shock that some of the Bears were first on the list. As these things tend to do, memory took me back to the prevailing 35 mph SW wind, the bitter cold in Wrigley Field and the experiences that I had there. i lived most of my life in Denver and Colorado, but with these being Chicago stories, I hope that you can enjoy them. Peace.
Some years back in Denver (Doug or TJ could tell you how many), Dan Reeves fired a young coach who was, in fairness, trying to get around Reeves with regard to the type of plays that would be run for star QB John Elway. Reeves was also reputed to have a personal dislike for the somewhat cocky young coach, and despite the value and importance of this individual personally to John Elway, Reeves went ahead and fired Mike Shanahan. Ironically, Shanahan went to the raiders to get some head coaching experience. Oakland is where he found out why so many coaches dislike Al Davis, where Shanahan won a court case that he never bothered to collect on and then came back as a friend of Elway's, as head coach of the Broncos (a job that evolved into head coach and general manager), and won two Super Bowls for a grateful Denver and all of Broncos Country. He holds a very high place in the annals of the Broncos history and in the hearts of many of the Broncos fans who were around during the miraculous period when Denver won 2 super Bowls, one against a heavily favored Green Bay team, a 'team of destiny', as they were being called. He also took apart a pretty good Atlanta Falcons team the following year that was, ironically, coached by Dan Reeves. By a seat-of-the-pants calculation, Mike Shanahan gave well over 15,000 hours of his life to the Denver Broncos and is rightfully a legend in this town.
Fat Man blogger TJ “The Dude” Johnson posts The Dude’s Mail Revue on Thursdays, in which he takes your questions about the state of the Denver Broncos. Got a titillating question? Put a dollar bill into the Dude’s G-String and he might answer it—after bowling practice.
One should rarely heap praise upon division rivals. While it might seem like a technically sound thing to do, it simply leaves you feeling a little dirty inside and you fall asleep at night knowing you've probably put bad karma into the world.
But there's always an exception.
So today, it's time to salute the San Diego Chargers.
The road to the AFC West title just got easier, and not because Elvis Dumervil signed his 1-year tender.