The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Longer lockout Lard 5-17-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The NFL last night won its first victory in the labor battle with the players, as the Eighth Circuit made permanent their stay of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction, or in plainer English the lockout is back on in a big way. Even more plainly, yesterday means that there is in fact now a real chance that the 2011 season will be delayed, as the lockout will likely continue throughout the appeals process if not longer. Arguments before the Eighth Circuit will begin on June 3, although yesterday's decision makes it appear the owners are likely to win their appeal of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction.

Granted, this decision is not a huge surprise in light of the Eighth Circuit's prior granting of a temporary stay, the lengthy time it took to make that decision permanent, and its expedition of the appeals process. And while this most certainly swings a good deal of leverage back to the owners, whatever penalty Judge Doty imposes in his looming decision regarding the TV lockout insurance money is expected to give "momentum" back to the players. Of course, the owners will surely appeal that decision as well, as is their right...

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The Daily Lard 5-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Former CU Buffs fullback Keith Miller is soon to make his debut with the Seattle Opera in their production of The Magic Flute. How did Miller go from being an NFL prospect to an opera singer? Well, it was the Broncos deciding they were not interested in him following a workout that sealed the deal. Miller had previously played in the XFL and Arena League, but after fruitless workouts with both Oakland and Denver, Miller decided in 2002 it was time to pursue his other calling. It was a good move, apparently - Miller has sung in more than 200 performances for the Metropolitan Opera and was featured in the NY Times a couple years back.

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The Daily Lard 5-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know, just the other day I was both wondering if Dennis Allen was trying to keep some super-low profile and wanting to hear more out of our new defensive coordinator. Happily, Krieger caught up with Allen on Friday and helps us get to know him just a bit better. While Allen is frustrated by the inability to coach up his new players due to the lockout, he's keeping busy by studying film of the Broncos' AFC West rivals. Plus, he expects the players to be familiar with the terminology of his defense the next time they meet, as they all got their new playbooks during the brief window of Judge Nelson's lockout injunction.

Like John Elway and Fox and Brain Xanders have been stressing all offseason, Allen made it clear he plans to employ a defense characterized by pressure, aggression and athleticism. Granted, we've heard this from each of Allen's many recent predecessors, but the rookie DC plans to get after the quarterback, turn the ball over, prevent big plays and be stout in the scoring area. Also echoing his bosses, Allen admitted that the Broncos may be interested in bringing back Justin Bannan (and perhaps Jamal Williams), the cutting of whom to avoid a $500,000 bonus looms as the biggest personnel blunder of 2011 (so far) for Denver.

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The Daily Lard 5-14-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Johns Elway and Fox apparently told Chris Mortensen yesterday that Brady Quinn is truly in the running for the starting gig, as hard as that is to believe. Of course, Mort probably just asked about Quinn's status - and what else could the Johns have said? "Yeah, he's on a one-year, $800K deal to be our backup, and if he's comfortable in that role we'll re-sign him next year. Tebow's our starter and we'd like a second-rounder for Kyle but will be glad to end up with a third-rounder for a guy who's going to make over $7 million this season with no team control beyond 2011." That may be what they're thinking, but of course they can't say it...

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Not quite as Big Vick Lard 5-13-11

Happy Friday the 13th, Broncos fans! Kevin Vickerson stunned his teammates by showing up in Denver this week down over 30 pounds from when they last saw him. LJ writes that Vickerson weighed in at a relatively svelt 285 pounds as opposed to the 321 he played at in 2010, armed with a two-year deal that will guarantee him $1 million this summer even if there's a lockout. Vickerson, who will be moving inside for John Fox and Dennis Allen's new defense, says he expects that Denver will sign another defensive tackle or two in free agency. Finally, he hopes to be a three-down player and says the FO wants him to be both a starter and a leader in 2011.

Vickerson also spoke with (starts at around 18m40s) Mike & Scott on The Fan yesterday about the players' workouts, his role in the new defense and his weight loss, which he says will help him become that three-down player. BTW, try not to walk under any ladders today...

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Real, actual analysis from the (sort of) MSM Lard 5-12-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andy Benoit's latest film review is of the Broncos, and it sure is nice to see some meme-free analysis of our team from a newspaper, eh? Granted, he's not a beat reporter or a newspaper scribe at all, but still - Benoit writes that Kyle Orton was decisive and exhibited sound fundamentals, while Brandon Lloyd's breakout season is almost surely no fluke. He also points to Knowshon Moreno's shortcomings while acknowledging that he could still become a star someday, if not likely a workhorse.

And although Benoit doesn't focus on the offensive line's early struggles, he does mention notable improvement over the year by Ryan Clady and Zane Beadles. Benoit also points out that Marcus Thomas may have turned it up last year because it was a contract year and that the defense's undoing was a result of poor tackling, the lack of a pass rush, and poor linebacker play inside. Now, Benoit probably just skimmed through the season's game tapes - why can't the DP's writers come up with this sort of analysis - which focuses in on real game action rather than harping on trades gone by and eye-catching "bust" labels - when they actually sit through every game live?

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The Daily Lard 5-11-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andrew Brandt has some interesting thoughts on the recent news that the owners are thinking of tweaking the 2010 work rules should the lockout injunction be affirmed by the Eighth Circuit. Brandt points out that if the NFL goes another season without a salary floor or cap, the owners who don't spend as much as others could put themselves into hot water with the courts, as they could appear to be colluding to keep salaries and payrolls down. All of these players stuck in the murkiness of "am I an RFA or a UFA" like Denver's own Marcus Thomas and Ryan Harris would seemingly have a legitimate beef, right?

Meanwhile, Mike Freeman of CBS Sports writes that players and assistant coaches are skirting the lockout rules by staying in touch via text, phone, email and Skype. And as Doug Farrar points out, while this reality may damage the players' case in the labor battle, it's not something the NFL would likely try to make a big deal of.

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The Daily Lard 5-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Tim Tebow spoke with Dan Patrick last week on Patrick's radio show and of course answered the typical questions. One of his responses offered another hint at Tebow's relationship with Kyle Orton...

Tebow: No, I mean we haven’t talked too much, but we have a great relationship. I’ll look forward to going in there and just competing.

Translation: Of course we haven't spoken, especially after he left me out of his Vegas trip - you know I would've torn that place up. Kyle's been a jerk ever since Studesville announced that I had the starting gig - which I won't be relinquishing - the rest of the way. There won't be anything left to say after I crush him in training camp.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit from Tebow is that he thinks Urban Meyer will indeed return to coaching college ball at some point. Here's the podcast of Patrick's conversation with Tebow in full.

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WADA Lard 5-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Judy Battista writes that the NFL has been in contact with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) about possibly overseeing the league's PED testing going forward. And if Judge Nelson's lockout injunction is upheld by the Eighth Circuit (whose decision is expected any day now), without the existence of a players' union the league will be free to impose rules that include third-party and HGH testing, both of which the NFLPA has resisted in the past. But while the league is likely to begin drug testing in short order should the Eighth Circuit rule for the players, Battista writes that the inclusion of HGH testing would not occur until later on in the year.

Of course, if the courts continue to show they have the players' backs in their dispute with ownership, then such a unilateral move by the NFL to institute HGH testing could only serve to open the league to more legal losses, upon a sure challenge by the players. How do you feel about HGH testing in the NFL? Do you feel strongly either for or against it, or are you indifferent as to if/when it finally does get instituted?

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The Daily Lard 5-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans, and Happy Mother's Day! Kiszla thinks the Broncos should go with Tim Tebow this year to see what he's made of, and if that doesn't work out then maybe they'll have a shot at Andrew Luck next April. Sounds about right to me...

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