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Broncos sign Prater to four-year deal

John Elway announced the Broncos have signed placekicker Matt Prater to a four-year deal:

Happy to announce we have signed kicker Matt Prater to a new four-year deal. This was the final piece in setting our roster for camp, and we are thrilled Matt is going to be a Bronco for a long time. Matt has developed into one of the NFL’s elite kickers and is a big part of our team.

Denver had used its franchise tag on Prater earlier in the offseason, but the seventh-year kicker had not signed it, and skipped the team's recent OTAs with negotiations ongoing. The two sides had faced a July 16 deadline to agree to a long-term deal.

Updated 10:41am ET July 3, 2012 to correct statistics (PFR is missing Prater's 2009 distance splits)

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NFL pushes 4:15pm kickoffs back 10 minutes

In a move sure to help Broncos fans miss fewer great endings and Denver kickoffs, the NFL announced it will push back all 4:15pm ET kickoffs to 4:25pm ET.

According to the league's research, over the past three seasons, doubleheaders forced TV networks to switch away from 66 games that were still ongoing. The NFL says this 10-minute shift would have prevented 51 of those Heidi-style preemptions.

Although this was likely not a problem for Broncos fans in the Mountain West viewing area, those of us who live elsewhere have all experienced the agony of waiting for some Jaguars/Titans snoozer to conclude while we miss Denver's opening possession or two. Sometimes, of course, this serves to save us from even worse pain, ala the 59-14 drubbing by the Raiders in 2010, when many of us were spared Oakland's first two scores.

Updated 12:24pm ET

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Happy Birthday, John Elway!

John Elway turns 52 today. Happy Birthday, John - and Thank You.

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Happy Floyd Little, Shannon Sharpe

Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe turns 44 today, which also happens to be the retired number of fellow Broncos HOFer Floyd Little. Happy Birthday, Shay!

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Judge dismisses D.J. Williams’s lawsuit; LB faces suspension

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by D.J. Williams against the league, meaning the Broncos linebacker will likely serve a six-game suspension for having violated the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

The league had accused Williams and former teammate Ryan McBean of submitting non-human urine samples for steroid testing, but the two players had already lost their appeals with the commissioner's office by the time their suspensions were announced in March. Both McBean and Williams had received six-game penalties; McBean settled for a three-game ban and dropped his own lawsuit against the league, but Williams was apparently not offered the same deal.

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154 ex-Broncos among those suing league over concussions

The number of retired players suing the NFL for its handling of head injuries has grown almost daily, to the point where there are now 90 lawsuits pending on behalf of 2,397 league alumni. Until now, it's been a bit difficult to keep track of the ex-Broncos among those seeking damages.

But thanks to the Washington Times, we now have a convenient and sortable table to track the plaintiffs. Among them are 154 former Broncos, including players from all five decades of the team's existence prior to the current one.

The cynical view suggests that some of these players are suing for financial gain. But there are far too many names, some of great fame and magnitude, for this to be solely about a money grab. 

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Ty Warren accepts pay cut from Broncos

Ty Warren has ended his unofficial holdout and joined the team for today's OTAs. Denver had sought to cut the veteran defensive tackle's salary from a contracted $4M down to $1M-1.5M according to earlier reports.

The former Texas A&M Aggie and first-round pick of the Patriots spent eight seasons with New England before signing a two-year, $8M free-agent deal with the Broncos last August. But a torn triceps muscle suffered during training camp caused him to miss the season; a hip injury had cost Warren his 2010 season.

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Another player wins ADHD suspension appeal; what about Virgil Green?

Giants RB Andre Brown won his appeal and will not have to serve the four-game suspension he had been hit with in March. He had originally been found to have violated the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

But Brown, who spent part of the 2010 season with the Broncos, says the suspension had resulted from a clerical error regarding his prescription for the ADHD medication Adderall.

Texans punter Brett Hartmann had also been suspended four games for ADHD meds and won his appeal last week. Unlike Brown, Hartmann must serve a reduced three-game suspension instead.

Updated 4:29 pm ET

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Broncos sign fourth-round pick Philip Blake

The Broncos announced the signing of center/guard Philip Blake today. Denver selected Blake with their second pick in the fourth round of April's draft, and he is the fifth draft choice to sign. Only QB Brock Osweiler and RB Ronnie Hillman remain unsigned.

Broncos trade for another Gronkowski (no, not that one)

John Elway has announced that the Broncos have acquired fullback Chris Gronkowski from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for cornerback Cassius Vaughn.

According to Mike Klis, director of personnel Matt Russell was responsible for the deal, meaning the former CU Buff has essentially assumed the job of recently fired GM Brian Xanders, in addition to his own duties running the scouting department.

Chris is the middle of the NFL's three Gronkowski brothers; older brother Dan, currently a TE for the Cleveland Browns, was acquired by Denver in a trade for notorious Josh McDaniels draftee Alphonso Smith. Rob, the youngest and best of the trio, announced his presence as the NFL's preeminent TE in 2011 before going on to dominate the offseason as well.

Updated 3:04 pm ET

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