Doc's Musings

Vinston Painter’s progress

Broncos offensive tackle Vinston Painter was often overwhelmed in the preseason opener at San Francisco (he wasn’t alone - tenth-overall pick Chance Warmack learned that the NFL is different in his own first game), but the rookie has also been getting some positive comments from the coaching staff.  This is what Jeff Legwold had to say, over at the Worldwide Leader:

When the Broncos selected Painter in the sixth round this past April, they saw an athletic project with a pile of potential. What they got was a player who has steadily worked his way up the depth chart, some by necessity because of injuries and some because he has advanced slightly more quickly than expected. Painter has worked much of the time as the backup right tackle, just behind Orlando Franklin. But the coaching staff showed this past week it doesn't think he's quite ready for work with the starters yet. Rather than simply elevating Painter after Franklin was injured, the coaches jumbled things up front, moving Louis Vasquez to right tackle in one practice and Chris Clark there in another.

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Duke Ihenacho: Denver’s next undrafted gem?

Among those getting consistently high grades from training camp onlookers like Cecil Lammey and Andrew Mason has been second-year safety Duke Ihenacho. An undrafted rookie in 2012, the San Jose State alum had been described as one of the best free agents in the country last year by Pat Kirwan.

Duke spent the year on the practice squad, developing the NFL body that John Fox always refers to, and spent considerable time in the film room learning the intricacies of his craft. He drew attention immediately during this year’s OTAs and seems to have something new being written on him almost daily. On July 29, Mason wrote,

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Bill Simpson and helmet research

Several companies are working to create safer helmets for the NFL, one of them being the Simpson-Ganassi helmet. Its designer, Bill Simpson, is already in the Halls of Fame of five different motor racing sports, for his development of a system of safer head and neck stabilization for racing drivers.

His business partner in the football helmet project, Chip Ganassi, credits a Simpson racing helmet for saving his life during a devastating 1984 crash at Michigan International Speedway. Simpson also worked on the restraint system for the Apollo Lunar Rover on its moon mission, among other credentials.

Simpson was introduced to Tom Moore, Peyton Manning’s long-time mentor, back in 2010. The two of them hit it off immediately, and Simpson joined Moore at an October 3, 2010 game that featured the Colts against the Jaguars. WR Austin Collie was knocked out during the game, and another player was carted from the field after a cranial impact. Simpson later inquired as to the players’ health, and Moore said to him lightly that concussions were ‘just part of the game’. Simpson was aghast.

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A passing league and Ryan Clady

On the heels of Ryan Clady's new five-year contract, I was thinking about the importance of various players and positions with regard to the changes that are evident in the league. In the pass-centric game that is the modern NFL, there has been an increasing and well-warranted examination of the importance of the left offensive tackle position.

Questions remain as to how much more important it is or isn’t than any other position on the front line. Is locking up Clady at a partly guaranteed cost of $52.5 million dollars over five years wasting too much capital on a single LOT?

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Doc’s Musings: Familiarity breeds success

Jay Cutler is familiarizing himself with a new offensive coordinator and playbook for the third time in as many years, although new head coach Marc Trestman will be running the show and calling the plays over new new offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Writes Eli Kaberon:

When asked about digesting Trestman’s offense in time for the Sept. 8 season opener against the Bengals, Cutler told the media, “It takes time. It’s every day, just trying to get better and trying to learn the offense so that it’s less thinking and more just reacting out there."

“Whenever you want to get into it, it’s a three-year process to learn an offense,” Cutler said. “It just is what it is. It takes time. It’s hard to go out there Year One and blow the doors off. But we’re going to do the best we can with the time allowed and we’ll see where we’re at.”

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The pitfalls of double-teaming Von Miller

With Elvis Dumervil having moved on to Baltimore, I’ve noticed many suggestions that teams will be able to double-team Von Miller more often, and with effective results. They seem to quantify ‘more effective’ simply as a matter of reducing his sack total.

That some teams will try to do so is a fair bet. That it will bear fruit, to me, isn’t as cut and dried.

I’d like to examine the idea as a matter of logistics, more than as a Broncos fan. I have an admitted tendency to view Denver players and schemes through the filter of being a fan - I just don’t think that it’s important in considering this theory.

There are a few basic assumptions that play into the validity or inaccuracy of the idea. Let’s run through them:

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Brain trauma and the NFL

Over time, it’s become obvious that some people still believe that NFL players should always have known their sport involves a high risk of lifelong problems arising from multiple concussions - and they have to know it by now.

After all, they knew about head injuries and boxing back in the 1920s, right? It’s true - such a study was done, and it did show the dangers for boxers. There were more studies in the 1950s and 60s, as well.

There’s just one problem here: the NFL has been telling the players that this was a nonissue for them ever since the league began. And that, my friends, is where the ugly truths begin.

New info keeps on surfacing regarding the history of the NFL's conduct regarding concussions and brain trauma. In recent months, several reporters and sources put together timelines of the brain injury situation vis-a-vis the NFL. An older article also came up, and they fit together into one long tale.

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A Second Helping of Danny Trevathan against the Chargers

Second-year Denver linebacker Danny Trevathan is hoping to continue and increase his repetitions with starter Wesley Woodyard on nickel downs. Trevathan took some snaps last season with the radio helmet when Woodyard was injured, but his normal role is to match with Woodyard (who usually wears the radio) in the nickel/base formation.

If Woodyard is injured, Trevathan will be likely to step into Woodyard’s roles, with one of the other linebackers stepping into Trevathan’s.

Trevathan’s work showed up in the pivotal Week 6 game in San Diego last year, where the Broncos snoozed through the first half, handing over a couple of fumbles and spotting the Bolts a 24-point lead. Yet San Diego found they’d awakened a sleeping giant when the gun sounded for the second half.

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Is San Diego’s D.J. Fluker a tackle, or a guard?

The newest addition to the Chargers' starting lineup is former Alabama lineman D.J. Fluker, whom they chose with the 11th-overall pick in April's draft.

Although Fluker made his bones in college with his work at right tackle, there are already those who would like to see him move to guard as a pro. Among those pundits is ESPN’s Matt Williamson, as noted by UTSD reporter Tom Krasovic:

ESPN scout Matt Williamson suggests a shuffle. He would move Starks to right tackle, use Dunlap at left tackle and switch Fluker to right guard.

“That way you would have one great player this year on that line in Fluker,” Williamson said. “I think he can be a Pro Bowler at right guard. I think he will struggle some at right tackle. He will have trouble sliding and dealing with speed rushers. At right guard, he can move ahead and smash people, which are his strengths.”

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Running back roulette

Second-round pick Montee Ball made a lot of fans in Denver happy when he chose Mike Anderson’s old number 38, as an homage to ‘Sarge’. The Broncos are hoping that he can also recreate the kind of tough-nosed performances that made Anderson such a fan favorite during his time in Denver.

As a young man who started off his life as a Broncos fan, he’s already taken the right first steps.

One thing you can count on - any team of John Fox’s will try and use a committee approach to the game. Said OC Adam Gase,

Coach Fox has always been great mixing in the multiple backfields and using different guys. He did it in Carolina. We'll do the same thing here.

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