Doc's Musings

Mail: Scouting Denver’s offensive line

Tia writes:

Hello, IAOFM staff! First, I just wanted to say thank you for continuing to be the best source there is for Broncos news and analysis. Your recent article on TJ Ward and what he'll be able to do for us this season was particularly great (can't wait to see him in action!), and I was writing to ask if you may be willing to do a similar sort of preview for the O-Line, based on a mix of last year's performances and what you've seen/heard from TC so far?

That seems to be our weak spot at the moment based on early camp reports, though I'm sure they're slower to adjust due to having two guys learning new positions, but I would just love to hear your thoughts on whether or not there's anything to worry about there, and what this newly retooled group's strengths and weaknesses may be this year.

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Opioid use and chronic pain

The July 2014 issue of Consumer Reports includes an investigation into the dangers of painkilling medication - particularly opioid use and abuse.

I’d touched on these issues in Pro Sports: Beyond Cannabis Part 2, but this article takes them to a new level.

Included was this comment:

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Welcome back, Wolfeman

On Day 2 of training camp, Derek Wolfe blew past Ryan Clady and dropped Montee Ball for a three-yard loss. It’s just one play, without pads, but it’s great to see the man getting his old form back.

Andrew Mason noted that it was more Wolfe showing skill than Clady trying to work back to his form. At the same time, DeMarcus Ware was apparently abusing Chris Clark at RT.

Consider this: One DL formation could have Terrance Knighton at nose tackle, Wolfe and Malik Jackson at defensive tackle, with Ware and Von Miller attacking from the edges. It’s just one option, but it’s one that would have to make a lot of quarterbacks nervous.

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Scouting the 2014 Broncos: Tight Ends

A commenter recently slammed me for having a continuing interest in the tight end position. Properly used, I’d said, it’s a major way to improve your offense. The commenter responded that the position is nearly useless and will be phased out over the next decade.

In return, I noted Sid Gillman’s point that having two good TEs can let a team control the middle of the field. No shots were fired, but no agreement was reached, either.

The New England Patriots recently had two very good tight ends who did a lot of damage to opposing defenses, prompting teams to start looking at the position in earnest. The demand for good tight ends went up like a helium balloon. Rumors of the position’s demise were exaggerated. Having multiple effective tight ends is strongly back in vogue.

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Pro Sports and Cannabis, Part 2

Recently, I wrote about the potential for the usage of cannabidiol (CBD) in professional sports. While I'm trying to keep the jargon to a minimum, there’s a lot more information on CBD that can go a long way to helping understand it.

I’ll also cover some relevant pending legislation and add some fuel to the fire by talking about medical cannabis.

To recap, hemp, from which CBD is extracted, comes from fertilized hemp/cannabis plants. Cannabis, in turn, is created by eliminating all the male plants so that the females produce a sticky resin to attract pollination. That resin contains more of the THC that cannabis users are looking for.

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Pro Sports and Cannabis, Part 1

Cannabis, as it is legalized for many medical conditions, has been changing the treatment of many disorders.

I believe that recent discoveries about the cannabis family will change the face of pro sports as well.

One branch of that family is the recent ability to extract a specific class of substances derived from the hemp plant, the fertilized cousin of marijuana.

That branch isn't smoked. It's ingested orally or used topically, on the skin. It's safe, and it's legal in all 50 states.

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Scouting the Broncos: Offensive line versatility

When someone visiting Dove Valley asks who will play right tackle, they’re going to get a stock answer.

Ryan Clady and Louis Vasquez will start at their traditional slots. Orlando Franklin will will start at left guard. Manny Ramirez leads at center going into training camp. Chris Clark has earned the right to head the right tackle depth chart going into camp, with Winston Justice his first competition.

Beyond those factors, it’s wide open.

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Scouting the Broncos: Hillman versus Bibbs

The Broncos have added plenty of speed and physicality to their offensive backfield this offseason.

Denver didn’t take a running back in the draft, which was no surprise - they already had Montee Ball penciled in as their starter, and C.J. Anderson to back him up. If he shows maturity and better hands, Ronnie Hillman can certainly be the third back.

But it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Hillman ends up fighting for his job, given his history and the quality of the undrafted backs behind him.

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Evaluating the Broncos post-draft

Another free agency period dwindles away, and the draft is finally in the books. Most of us are about to fall over, myself among them. Doug, Ted, and TJ did an incredible job - again. Now I wanted to consider the team as it stands.

The question always comes up after free agency and the draft have given the Broncos a wealth of new talent. How will these players be used? Are some of them just practice squad/training camp bodies? Are the Broncos a stronger team today than they were in January?

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Attackers at tackle

Football is a game of constant change. And yet, many of the scheme changes of today are refinements of techniques that were being played in colleges back as far as the 1870s.

Once in a while, you get to see one that’s new. Or perhaps just new to me, in this case. Somewhere, someone’s almost certainly already done it - I just wasn’t there. The changes are made to help a player’s weakness(es).

Last season, Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman was trying to get the best out of his left tackle. Jermon Bushrod has the size for the position, but lacks the functional strength to play as well as he can. It makes him something of an underachiever. He just doesn’t fit the traditional mold of an offensive tackle, from being a bit light in the bubble. That leads to problems anchoring.

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