The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 8-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Legwold checks in on DT Marcus Thomas, who has of course played for a different defensive coordinator in each of his five NFL seasons with the Broncos. Thomas, who will only be turning 26 next month, tells Legwold that, "Every year it seemed like I was trying to learn a new system, learn something new," followed by the obligatory, "I feel like this defense suits me and the things I can do."

As Legwold points out, Mike Shanahan called Thomas a "first-round talent" after he dealt three picks to the Vikings in a draft day trade for the 121st-overall pick the Broncos would use to select the ex-Gator. One of those picks (Denver's '08 third-rounder) would eventually end up with KC, who utilized it to draft Jamaal Charles. Interestingly, that #121 pick had been Denver's original fourth-rounder, but they'd dealt it away the year before as part of their two-part move up to get Jay Cutler, and other players tied to its transactions include WR Sidney Rice and the oft-rumored Denver target John Abraham. Pretty simple, right?

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The Daily Lard 8-14-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Broncos have been a bit banged up at receiver, but Eddie Royal did catch passes yesterday on a field adjacent to practice and should be back in full this week. Royal has been hampered by soreness in his previously healthy hip, presumably due to him compensating for his surgically repaired one. Plus, Matthew Willis was limited in practice and TE Richard Quinn will be out 2-4 weeks with a strained MCL.

Meanwhile, the team waived/injured WR Mark Dell and will likely place him on IR if he clears waivers; Dell suffered a serious knee injury in Thursday's game. They replaced him with former Purdue WR Greg Orton, who was an undrafted signee of the Bengals in 2009 and appeared in three preseason games for Cincy that year.

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The Daily Lard 8-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The details of Matt Prater's DUI arrest are pretty embarrassing*, laughable within the context that nobody got hurt and it all occurred within the confines of a parking lot. Sounds like our idiot kicker picked up a waitress/bartender/stripper at Shotgun Willie's, backed his Blazer into a parked car, and then tried to get a room in the hotel of said parking lot after being yelled at by a bunch of witnesses. When that didn't work out, he ditched the young lady and headed over to a nearby La Quinta where the police found him.

Prater then proceeded to fail his sobriety test and took a breathalyzer test at the police station, telling the cops along the way, "I really messed up. I'm going to lose my job. I deserve this." Meanwhile, the Broncos released the following statement:

Our organization is disappointed with the poor judgment shown by Matt Prater on Aug. 2. This matter, which was addressed with the team last week, continues to be thoroughly reviewed internally.

Drinking and driving is without doubt a serious matter, as comedic as this tale appears to be. But let's just be glad no one was injured, and hope that Prater and his teammates learn a good lesson from his shenanigans.

* Speaking of embarrassing, I'm reminded that I forgot to mention that it's Doc's birthday today! Please join all of us in wishing Doc a happy one, with many healthy ones to come!

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The Daily Lard 8-12-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Overall, it was a very encouraging preseason-opening performance by Denver last night in losing to Dallas 24-23 (box score). Both of Denver's starting lines controlled the action pretty well, although there was a divergence beyond the first teams as the defensive line showed plenty of depth while the offensive line showed practically none. All three QBs looked mostly very good: Kyle Orton displayed his usual poise, although his familiar immobility also popped up and contributed largely to his sole possession ending with Denver settling for a short FG. Tim Tebow was skittish on his first drive and was fortunate to get a PI call on a terrible decision/throw, but recovered quite nicely after that. Brady Quinn looked poised and confident in the second half, like a quality backup NFL QB - especially so on a horrific bounced snap which he calmly turned into a TD pass to Eron Riley.

Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee both ran well, and Jeremiah Johnson showed why he's been drawing so many raves in camp. His speed (which far exceeds that of the other RBs) and potential to be a change-of-pace guy could make it difficult to cut him. On defense, the star of the game for Denver was probably new DC Dennis Allen, who showed that his strong safeties will be quite active - Brian Dawkins, revelation Kyle McCarthy and Quinton Carter all were very involved, in a good way. Meanwhile, S/CB swingman Nate Jones struggled all game long and Perrish Cox outplayed Cassius Vaughn despite sitting below him on the depth chart. The third-string defense was quite poor, but who cares, right?

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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 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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