The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 9-10-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Nothing earth-shattering in Broncos Land today, so I'd like to take this opportunity to mark a pair of noteworthy occasions here at IAOFM. Plus, tomorrow should be all about the first Sunday of real NFL football rather than self-referencing snobbery. Anyway, tomorrow marks the first anniversary of IAOFM's existence, and it's been quite a year. Doc, TJ, Ted, David (who runs the technical side) and I have had an incredible time working with each other, we've made a bunch of new friends, and we're excited about what the future holds for our little endeavor. We set out a year ago to offer high level analysis of the Broncos, to make you think and laugh, and we believe IAOFM has been consistently evolving into a better product. We hope you feel the same way.

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The Daily Lard 9-9-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! How was that for a season opener? If you thought you had something better to do than watch Saints/Packers last night, it really wasn't. Green Bay outlasted New Orleans 42-34 (box score) in an all-out slugfest which featured 51 first downs, 17-of-26 third-down conversions, 876 yards of offense, 84 pass attempts for 731 yards and six touchdowns, two special teams touchdowns, and a goal-line stop by the Packers to conclude the game on an untimed down from the one-yard line.

As for what last night meant to us as Broncos fans: Be patient this season. No matter how far they exceed any of our expectations (if they do), it will take multiple years for Denver to be able to consistently compete with teams the caliber of today's Packers and Saints. We saw third and fourth receivers making huge plays, electric kick returners, two of the best QBs we'll ever see, and we can only hope at this point that Julius Thomas will someday be as effective as either Jermichael Finley or Jimmy Graham in the passing game. And of course, we won't be seeing that brand of football anyway, as the John Fox-led Panthers scored 34 points or more just 13 times in nine seasons (including playoffs). For comparison's sake, the Packers have scored 34 or more points 13 times in their last 48 games, while we only have to go back 37 games to find 13 such outputs by the Saints. On the bright side - and this is no small matter - Darren Sproles is no longer on our schedule twice a year - once every four years is bad enough, so let's all hope he finishes his career in the NFC.

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The Daily Lard 9-8-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team will hold its first full practice regular-season practice and issue their first injury report today. As Lindsay Jones reiterates, the Broncos are hoping to get DTs Brodrick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas back in time for Monday's opener.

So, today is the day the DP unleashed their preview of the Broncos' season, and the focus is John Elway. Where Woody Paige typically shares an interview with team owner Pat Bowlen, Mike Klis instead presents one with Elway as the clear face of the Broncos organization. Within it, Elway speaks of lifting the pall that's enveloped the franchise in recent years as the tragedy of Darrent Williams and Kenny McKinley's untimely deaths, and the ugliness of the Jay Cutler drama have come to dominate the Denver headlines.

Elway strangely theorizes that it's a good defense that creates home-field advantage (tell that to Colts and Saints fans) and defends himself against the ridiculous notion that great players can't become great team execs, just because a few of them have failed to do so in the past. As for that garbage, Elway scored a 29 on the Wonderlic and Dan Marino scored a 16. Marino's flop running the Dolphins predicts nothing for Elway's stewardship.

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The Daily Lard 9-7-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! On Broncos TV, Brian Xanders tells Chris Hall the team had settled on two or three players to make waiver claims on, but in the end decided the players already on the roster were preferable - or at least until they decided they weren't, and signed Tony Hills yesterday. Xanders also reminds us that waivers are a daily process and that the FO and coaches are constantly evaluating the roster - remember how Shanny used to try out several players almost every week during the season? Or the Curse of Brett Kern? And as Legwold points out, not only are the contracts of vested veterans not guaranteed if they're signed after Week 1, they are only paid on a week-to-week basis after that.

So in keeping with Ted's point yesterday to keep calm, realize that the roster as presently constructed is unlikely to remain unchanged for even three or four weeks. Plus, throughout the preseason we've generally been seeing the second and third units operating as a whole, rather than backups mixing in with starters. Yes, it's still about winning individual battles, but when the guys next to you are losing theirs...

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The Daily Lard 9-6-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Some terrific news among Mike Klis' practice notes from yesterday - defensive tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas may both return to practice sometime this week, which of course would be an enormous development as the Raiders bring their dominant rushing attack to town Monday night. Plus, Demaryius Thomas practiced yesterday as expected, although there is no publicized timetable as to when he'll return to action - apparently at this point it's strictly a matter of Demaryius getting back into football shape. Granted, that could take awhile.

Meanwhile, Chris Kuper was back at practice yesterday after missing last week with a toe injury. The team is off today and will practice tomorrow.

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The Daily Lard 9-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Legwold says the FO just didn't see any players on the waiver wire who could contribute quickly to the team, hence their lack of claims. He also repeats what Klis wrote yesterday about the team not wanting to absorb any pre-existing contracts, but truly that one is hard to believe. As I wrote last night, most young players make the minimum salary for their respective experience levels, so anyone picked up on waivers would in essence be on one-year contracts as the claiming team would be able to cut them at any point with no bonus accelerations or cap hits.

Meanwhile, Demaryius Thomas has been working only with the medical and strength/conditioning staffs as he comes back from his Achilles injury. Brian Xanders says Thomas will be working with the scout team today as the team prepares for next Monday's opener against the Raiders.

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The Daily Lard 9-4-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Following yesterday's leaguewide cuts and waivers, the Broncos have an opportunity to claim some young talent today. For any players with less than four years of service, the Broncos will have second crack (behind Carolina) at picking them up - and in all instances, they will have to immediately cut or waive another player to make room on the 53-man roster. FWIW, players who are claimed on waivers today cannot then be traded to other teams - so while Denver has an advantage with their place in the waiver order, they cannot leverage it into acquiring other assets.

For players like RB Lance Ball, OL Chris Clark, Manny Ramirez and Herb Taylor, DL Ryan McBean and Mitch Unrein, and CB Chris Harris, this could mean the excitement of having cracked Denver's roster may be limited to but a day. Meanwhile, vested veterans (those with four years of service) will have their 2011 salaries guaranteed come next Saturday. All waiver claims must be submitted by teams by noon ET today and will be awarded at 4pm ET. Any players that clear waivers today will immediately become free agents.

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The Daily Lard 9-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's a big day, as final cutdowns are due across the league, and Denver is expected to be scouring the waiver wire for some much-needed depth - or didn't you see Thursday's game? Andrew Mason takes his shot at predicting the Denver roster (pre-waiver pickups, of course) and figures the team to keep only three RBs (Lance Ball over Jeremiah Johnson and Brandon Minor) and three TEs (with Virgil Green potentially sliding to the PS), plus five WRs (Eron Riley beating out David Anderson) and eight LBs (Lee Robinson and Mike Mohamed sticking). Mason also sees CB Chris Harris making the squad, with Darcel McBath beating out his fellow '09 draftee David Bruton at safety.

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The Daily Lard 9-2-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans, and welcome to the most parentheses-laden Lard in history! The best part about last night's 26-7 loss (box score) to the Cardinals is that it's over. There was injury (Syd'Quan Thompson - torn Achilles tendon, done for the year; Britt Davis - concussion; Nate Irving - chest; David Bruton - shoulder; Matthew Willis - turf toe), there was insult (Arizona led 26-0 until the final two minutes), and there was craptastic play on both sides of the ball, as the Broncos were outgained 398 to 293, with more than half of their yards (164) coming on the team's last two drives of the game.

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The Daily Lard 9-1-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Doug Farrar rounds up plenty of praise for Von Miller from Greg Cosell and Cecil Lammey, mixing it all in with his own. Farrar and Cosell see Miller as being similar to DeMarcus Ware, and they make note of Von's sack against James Carpenter where he starts outside and then suddenly shifts inside as his most impressive play thus far. Lammey sees Miller as being most successful as a 5-2 end, says he may be the fastest pass rusher in the league and lauds his anticipation of the snap.

Farrar also takes another look at Tim Tebow and the plight of QBs who run the spread option in college and their difficult transitions to the pro game. Farrar again hits up Cosell, who thinks Tebow's mechanics are just poor overall. Meanwhile, Jon Gruden echoes the points made by Mike Lombardi in that any team with plans for Tebow as a QB need to commit to him fully, and that means molding their offense to fit the player, rather than the other way around.

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