Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Denver's injury situation is gradually improving, with Brandon Lloyd a full participant in practice and limited participation from Elvis Dumervil, Knowshon Moreno and D.J. Williams yesterday. It's not clear whether Williams is expected to get the start over Wesley Woodyard, but Dennis Allen says D.J. could face some conditioning issues, so figure to see at least a decent amount of Woodyard come Sunday.
On the flip side, Champ Bailey has still not practiced since injuring his hamstring, although he's at least running and cutting. Basically, Champ sounds like he's not going to play, but that he would if it were a playoff game.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In his latest mailbag (once he's through with his weekly cheap shots at Josh McDaniels), Woody Paige says the Broncos' brass is as divided over Tim Tebow's prospects as us fans are, and he says the team did in fact look into dealing Tebow away, but that they encountered little in the way of interest when they did so. Woody admits to not really knowing how Brian Xanders feels about Tebow, and he seems as puzzled as we are that Xanders has so far emerged scot free from all the blame which has landed at Josh McDaniels' feet for draft picks gone wrong.
Woody goes on to say the team's hierarchy has nobody to blame but themselves for the PR problem they've had this season after having used Tebow to sell season-ticket renewals and then trying and failing to trade Orton. He also repeats what he said on Sandy Clough's show last week, suggesting the team should deal Tebow before the deadline if they're intent on drafting a new QB next April. In that vein, Woodrow takes a look at the schedule and realizes (especially with the fine play of Detroit and Buffalo) that the Broncos are worthy entrants to the Suck for Luck race.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Obviously, there are many ways to view the outcome of Sunday's two-point victory - the Broncos made the plays they needed to win the game, they were fortunate to have the ball bounce their way on certain occasions, the Bengals shot themselves in the foot with ill-timed penalties, or Cincy just isn't that good. But as Frank Frigo tells it, there was another major factor at play: Marvin Lewis incredibly managed to out-conservative our own cautious John Fox, and it did in his team.
No, it wasn't Lewis' decision to forego a 54-yard FG attempt in the closing minutes; instead it was his puzzling choice to punt on 4th-and-1 at midfield twice to start the game and to kick a FG on another 4th-and-1 while down five points at Denver's five-yard line, late in the third quarter and with momentum clearly on the Bengals' side. According to Frigo's calculations, these unprogressive decisions cost the Bengals more than 34% in Game Winning Chance (GWC) with the chip-shot FG counting for almost half of that. Of course, the Broncos have not yet gone for it on a fourth down (they have not yet faced a situation where they should have), and during his nine years in Carolina, Fox went for it fewer than ten times in four of those seasons, so at some point this same fogyish strategy Lewis employed to keep his team from winning on Sunday will bite Denver in the rear. Mark it.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, the news of the day was that WR Eddie Royal will be out at least two weeks with a strained groin, with his return figuring to be Week 5 against San Diego or Week 7 at Miami following the Broncos' bye week. Obviously, Royal's injury underscores the urgency for WR Brandon Lloyd to return from his groin strain this week; according to LJ, there's a chance Lloyd, DE Elvis Dumervil, RB Knowshon Moreno and LB D.J. Williams will be back practicing sometime this week. As for Denver's other serious injury from Sunday, TE Julius Thomas is also out for at least two weeks with a high ankle sprain, and he was in a boot and on crutches yesterday.
Meanwhile, John Fox said yesterday the Broncos wouldn't again make the glaring mistake of entering a game with only three healthy WRs - and since Lloyd's return to health is not guaranteed, it's probably a safe bet the team will call up Eron Riley or D'Andre Goodwin from the practice squad to supplement the current group of Lloyd?, Eric Decker and Matt Willis for Sunday's game at Tennessee. It will also be interesting to see if the team is willing to enter Sunday with only Daniel Fells and Virgil Green healthy at TE, as doing so would likely hamper Denver's ability to utilize two-TE and max-protect sets. If the team were to make a pair of moves, DT Mitch Unrein and RB Jeremiah Johnson would figure to be prime candidates to be waived and stashed on the PS if they were to clear. Is Richard Quinn healthy and/or in football shape?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Who said Denver doesn't have any depth? The Broncos had to resort to lining up Tim Tebow at WR yesterday as they eked out a 24-22 victory (box score) over the Bengals, and they sit in a tie for first place in the AFC West (probably won't be able to write that again this year). Denver lost Eddie Royal to what appeared to be a groin injury, while Julius Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain; both left the stadium on crutches.
The victory came on the strength of two beautiful Kyle Orton TD passes to Eric Decker, 101 patient and hard-fought rushing yards from Willis McGahee (who also punched in Denver's first touchdown), and Dennis Allen's defense holding Cincy to 1-of-11 on third down and making just enough plays to hang on for dear life in the fourth quarter. Wesley Woodyard (10 T, 3 A, 1 TFL, 1 PD) showed why D.J. Williams is overpaid and expendable for these Broncos, while Joe Mays (5 T, 3 A, 2 TFL) continued to thump and dole out statement-making hits.
Good Morning/Afternoon, Broncos fans! Apologies for the late Lard, but I was out of town, back just in time to catch the day's games - this will be an abbreviated edition. Of course, the big news is that the Broncos have given up on the already slim chance that Ty Warren would be able to return to health in time to have an impact on the 2011 season while wasting a roster spot for much of the year. Instead, they placed him on IR yesterday to open a spot for RB Jeremiah Johnson, who was promoted from the practice squad for today's game.
In other injury news, Marcus Thomas had been expected to rejoin the team before last week's opener, but he apparently suffered a groin strain during his conditioning test - that is what kept him out Monday night and will cause him to miss today's game as well.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team is apparently scheduled to work out veteran safety Darren Sharper on Tuesday along with at least one defensive lineman and several backs, including former Pats/Seahawks/Niners RB Thomas Clayton. But according to Jason La Canfora, it's highly unlikely the Broncos will sign Sharper, who most recently worked out for the Patriots and apparently turned down contract offers from two teams this summer. La Canfora figures the Broncos are simply working Sharper out in case of an injury later in the season. Of course, Sharper is plenty familiar with Dennis Allen, who was his secondary coach with the Saints for the past two seasons.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton was a full participant in practice yesterday and has been cleared to start on Sunday, while DE Robert Geathers is doubtful to play and T Andrew Whitworth is listed as probable.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Fascinating radio conversation Wednesday between Sandy Clough and Woody Paige, with the latter stating that the Broncos' decision makers 1) are not fond of Kyle Orton's quarterbacking skills 2) believe Tim Tebow is not ready to be an NFL QB now, if ever 3) would be willing to deal Tebow to Baltimore in exchange for a third-rounder prior to the trade deadline (according to Clough, Peter King said on satellite radio the other day that Baltimore would have interest in such a deal).
This calls to mind a few thoughts: What if the main source for Mike Silver's controversial column from last month really was John Elway? You know, the one that says Tebow was the fourth-best QB in training camp behind undrafted rookie Adam Weber, and that the team felt as if it had dodged a bullet when it failed to trade Orton to Miami and open the starting QB gig for Tebow? (Let's not suggest that there's fiction among Silver's writing, or how else would he ever gain readmittance to Dove Valley to perform his job? This was not an opinion piece from afar, but an article with exclusive quotes gathered in person, and as TJ reminded us last night, Silver and Elway go way back.)
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Over at PFF, Khaled Elsayed analyzes Monday's loss, calling Raiders LB Kam Wimbley the star of the night and crediting Von Miller with playing a game that hints at future stardom. The only other positive on the Broncos' ledger was the effort of Jason Hunter - no mention of Brian Dawkins. As for assigning blame, PFF graded all of the offensive linemen as having losing performances, especially Orlando Franklin and Chris Kuper, while Kyle Orton did not fare well under pressure. Let us know if you've heard that one before.
Meanwhile, Nathan Jahnke reviews the Bengals' victory over the Browns on Sunday, basically saying they won because they just managed to suck less than Cleveland did. Jahnke writes that DEs Robert Geathers (who did not practice yesterday) and Carlos Dunlap combined to apply plenty of pressure on Colt McCoy, that Cedric Benson had an impressive game, and that QB Andy Dalton forced plenty of passes and was lucky to not turn the ball over more and cost the Bengals the game. But Bruce Gradkowski graded out even worse, and aside from his quick-snap TD with nobody in coverage, he only completed 11 passes for 51 yards.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige is annoyed with claims that the team may not have fared any better Monday night had Tim Tebow been the quarterback, and frankly so am I. So, Kyle isn't the only problem. The offensive line isn't so great, the run defense was iffy for much of the game and poor late, and the team as a whole exhibited a complete utter lack of discipline. But why does the fact that Orton is not the only player at fault mean he deserves to keep the starting gig?
So, the pass protection isn't that great. In that case, do you prefer a QB who steps/shuffles/slides his way into a sack multiple times per game and at best throws it away under serious pressure? Or would you like to give your team a chance to make winning plays when there's a little bit of pressure? Let's not call this a knee-jerk reaction to one little game either, or was nobody watching the preseason when Orton was doing the very same thing? Look, I'm not saying Orton is a terrible QB. He's not - we saw him turn in some excellent performances over his first two seasons in Denver. But to truly excel, the guy needs a lot of good things happening around him: big, clean pockets, a solid running game which he will not contribute to (Monday's one first down aside), and apparently a dry, sunny day. Tebow may not be the answer, but we might as well find out. If he's not, Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley or Landry Jones might be...