The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

First moment of truth Lard 8-11-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So, tonight's our first true glimpse of where the Broncos, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow are at, as they face off against the Cowboys in Dallas at 8:30pm ET. Is Kyle Orton just a practice player who folds under the pressure of "real, actual" games? Is Tim Tebow a true "gamer" who can go from missing wide open passes in practice to willing his team to victory when the lights come on? Obviously, the truth for both is somewhere closer to the middle, but at least we all get to judge for ourselves, starting with tonight. If you're like me and live outside the Denver TV area, you can pony up $20 to see all of the Broncos' preseason games online. Or, you can listen to the game on 850KOA.com. Either way, we'll of course have a game thread and will be bringing you TJ's first Gut Reactoin game recap of the year and a Chewing the Fat tomorrow with our thoughts. It may just be practice for the team, but it's the real thing here.

Meanwhile, it sounds like the Big IF is about to become Sports Authority Field at Mile High, or in much easier parlance, SAFaMH. Just rolls off the tongue, like IAOFM, right? Right? Sports Authority is close to a deal (close enough to talk about it with the DP, so obviously it's happening) which will cost them $150M over the next 25 years to hold the naming rights to Mile High. Oh well - it's not as fun as The Big IF, but I suppose someone will come up with some nickname.

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The Daily Lard 8-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Rick Reilly was apparently at last Saturday's scrimmage at the Big IF, and he writes that "the entire locker room" wants Kyle Orton to be the starting QB, rather than the fans' choice of Tim Tebow. Reilly quotes a source within the organization (from the wording, presumably a player) that the "coaching staff would totally lose the players" if they were to proceed with Tebow as the starter. Reilly also writes that Orton was irked by the fact that Tebow spoke to reporters as much as he did last year, apparently because by doing so Tebow failed to show the deference Orton felt he was due as the team's first-string QB.

To top it off, Reilly spoke with John Elway, who said of Tebow, "He's only had the one season. But he's an amazing football player. I'd never give up on Tim Tebow...One of the unique things about Tim is that he has that unique ability to make something happen when the play breaks down...You can't rely on your improvising. That's one thing I learned. I was always going to make those plays outside the pocket, but that can't be your bread and butter."

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The Daily Lard 8-9-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Andrew Mason writes that barring injury, it would be a "shock" if Kyle Orton does not start the Broncos' regular season opener in versus Oaktown. He says Orton has clearly been the Broncos' best QB throughout camp so far, showing more polish, command and smoothness than Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn, or Adam Weber, and that yesterday was no different. Mason also makes it a point to clarify that Tebow was not booed on Saturday, but rather the fans were cheering "Doom" for Elvis Dumervil when he sacked the popular QB.

Meanwhile, as we approach Thursday's preseason opener in Dallas, Mason says John Fox & Co. won't be installing a game plan so much as preparing players for the more routine aspects of game day. Plus, Eddie Royal was pulled from practice as what Fox called a "preventative" measure for the WR's surgically-repaired hip, while D.J. Williams and LenDale White practiced in pads for the first time since camp started. Finally, although he's listed as fifth on the team's depth chart at TE, Julius Thomas was working with starter Daniel Fells in two-TE sets.

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The Daily Lard 8-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Freeman writes that although it's far from a certainty that HGH testing will be instituted by the NFL, the players as a whole would like for it to happen. Freeman says the players he's spoken to about the topic estimate HGH use at between 10-20% of the league today, and that they see it as a growing problem that must be addressed. Contrary to the report originally obtained by the NY Times, it appears the league's proposed program will in fact include random testing, including unlimited testing during the regular season - so it's no joke.

But according to Freeman, the biggest hurdle at this point appears to be the good old trust factor - players point to the StarCaps case which has hung over the heads of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams for several years now as a reason to doubt the testing program. Hopefully, the two sides can come to an agreement here - the NFL continues to be the best pro sports league we have here, and leading the way on HGH testing would only further that standing.

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The Daily Lard 8-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team scrimmaged yesterday at the Big IF, and what else to focus on but the quarterbacks? Both Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn performed much better than did Tim Tebow, who took three sacks, completed just one of three passes and had both of his possessions end fruitlessly.

Yet incredibly, the "fans" in attendance booed Orton as he slid short of a conversion on a third-down run. Broncos fans booing one of their own players (who may even be the starting QB) during a scrimmage? Wow, that's mind-blowing. All Orton has said is that he plans to be in Denver and be the starter - he hasn't publicly uttered a single negative word about Tebow, and more importantly, there are preseason games yet to be played. The QBs' performances during those sessions will go a long way towards determining who among them will start. I don't know about you, but I'm going to presume (hope?) those folks who were booing Kyle yesterday were just Gators fans who've just recently "converted" into Broncos fans. You know, on April 22, 2010...

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The Daily Lard 8-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's a great day to be a Broncos fan, as Shannon Sharpe will deservedly be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Of course, Shannon follows John Elway, Gary Zimmerman and Floyd Little as the fourth Bronco to gain entrance to the HOF. Should make for an emotional night, and frankly I cannot wait for Shannon's speech. I'm a bit short on time, so I won't write more here. Enjoy the day, friends!

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The Daily Lard 8-5-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! So, Woodrow sat down with Tim Tebow - but the teaser "Then, I felt like it was grabbed back away," turned out to be the only (somewhat) juicy line in the whole thing. If Paige is worth his salt as a journalist, one would figure his next question was, "Taken away by who, Tim? John Fox? Kyle Orton?" Obviously, a starting QB gig is not gifted but rather earned, and apparently Tebow has yet to do that. Perhaps he will in the coming weeks; we'll start to see Thursday once the preseason begins in Dallas. I'll give the interview a "meh". Not much harm in my eyes, and little learned.

Meanwhile, Orton offered up something resembling support for Tebow, saying "I think he can handle (the criticism)...All of us have opinions, but they're just opinions." Hilariously, John Elway claimed to be completely unaware of the Merril Hoge-initiated fireworks in saying, "To be honest, I know there was some kind of storm stirring out there, but to what extent I don't know, because I haven't been paying attention." Haha, sure John - you didn't happen to catch even a minute of SportsCenter or Total Access?

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The Daily Lard 8-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Mike Freeman, the players and owners have finished hashing out the details of the new CBA, and it appears that there will in fact (thankfully) be curbs on Roger Goodell's power as it relates to the player conduct policy. Rather, word is that appeals of fines and suspensions would not be heard by Goodell (the very person who comes up with them in the first place) but by jointly selected appeals officials instead. Players will vote today to approve the CBA, and then the 2011 league year will begin by 4pm ET, with veterans who renegotiated contracts and free agency acquisitions finally able to practice.

As Doug Farrar writes, the disciplinary process was the main sticking point of the last few days, and it's likely that experienced arbitrators will handle those aforementioned appeals. And guess what? Once this afternoon passes, we'll have ten years of NFL labor peace, and August has just begun. Pretty great, if you ask me.

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Evening update 8-3-11

Good evening, Broncos fans! There were a few items worth noting from earlier today, and although many of you are already aware of them, I figure it's worth covering them here. For one, Adam Schefter filed an interesting report on ESPN regarding Denver's QB situation, including the following quote:

Kyle Orton is not going to be traded. Kyle Orton is not going to be a Miami Dolphin this season.

Meanwhile, Mike Lombardi echoed that thought on NFLN, saying,

[Orton] will be the starter in Denver. He will not be traded...He’s in limbo right now. I said all offseason I thought Tim Tebow wasn’t in their plans. . . I think ultimately he is not in their plans.

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The Daily Lard 8-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As Andrew Mason points out, Ty Warren has been banged up for much of the past three seasons, even before the hip injury that put him on IR last year. Warren missed three games each in both 2008 and 2009, after having played in 89 of 90 regular season games prior to that. However, Mason also thinks Warren should have more success in Denver than did Jamal Williams, thanks to being five years younger and finding himself part of a deeper rotation at DT.

On the flip side, Denver lost out in its bid to bring back Ryan Harris, who instead signed with the Eagles for less money, and in a not-so-comforting thought, Klis suggests that Chris Clark could actually "push" Orlando Franklin for the starting gig at RT.

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