The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

30 points? Piece of cake Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The specialness of YOUR 2012 Denver Broncos is now far beyond Peyton Manning.

This has become a team that scores 30 points when it's hardly running on all cylinders, as it has shown for the past three weeks (and four of the past five). These Broncos score 30 and win easily - even when John Fox¹ and the referees² do their best to make things closer.

Denver won its fifth straight game, by a 30-23 score over visiting San Diego (GamebookANS box score), and now owns a commanding three-game lead in the AFCW over those same Chargers, plus the head-to-head tiebreaker in the extremely unlikely case of a tie at season's end.

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Phil Rivers, meet Chris Harris, Jr. Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As expected, the team officially added D.J. Williams to the 53-man roster yesterday, and he is expected to be among the 46 game-day actives against San Diego today.

Williams will earn a $950K salary for the rest of the season, plus a $100K escalator for each game during which he's active - a far cry from the pre-suspension $4.9M salary he had been due to make.

Meanwhile, fellow defenders Von Miller and Kevin Vickerson are trying to keep their salaries whole by appealing the fines levied upon them by the NFL for hits on Cam Newton last week. Miller says he was successful in appealing fines for hits on Mark Sanchez last year, while Vickerson is hoping for a reduction of his penalty.

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Who wins a battle between Ditka and a stroke? Ditka Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Elvis Dumervil made a limited return to practice Friday, and is listed as questionable for Sunday's matchup against San Diego.

Chris Kuper and Tracy Porter also practiced on a limited basis, but Kuper is doubtful, while Porter will miss his fifth straight game.

Dumervil would likely play in a limited role if at all, while D.J. Williams will probably see some action tomorrow, once he's expectedly added to the active roster later today.

For the Chargers, RB Ryan Mathews returned to practice yesterday and expects to play, while LT Jared Gaither is listed as doubtful and figures to be replaced again by rookie Mike Harris.

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Von, Vick fined for iffy hits Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Elvis Dumervil missed practice for the second consecutive day due to the shoulder injury he suffered on Sunday.

But Elvis says he plans to practice today and play on Sunday, calling his shoulder strain much less severe than the one that delayed the start of his 2011 season.

The six sacks Dumervil has tallied against Philip Rivers are the most he's had against any quarterback.

Chris Kuper was limited in practice again, but Manny Ramirez is expected to again start in his place. FWIW, Manny graded out at +1.1 against Carolina - his third-best grade of the year, according to PFF.

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Jets are a clown show, Bro Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! During each of Denver's games this season, we've seen several shots of Peyton Manning speaking with his teammates after a drive.

Usually the camera shot only shows Manning surrounded by his five linemen and perhaps line coach Dave Magazu, but this apparently isn't a matter of just the quarterback and his linemen discussing protection and calls.

According to Peyton, the entire offense has been meeting after every possession, good or bad, to discuss what they saw on the field. Taking inspiration from the military, and encouraged to do so by John Fox, Manning & Co. refer to these get-togethers as their "debriefing sessions."

As for the location of these conferences, Manning says the skill players head over to where the big heavies sit, hence our television view of the backs of the offensive linemen, and Peyton facing the camera.

NFL Films captured a bunch of these conversations from the Carolina game in their latest Sound FX piece. (h/t AldenBrown)

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Even as praise rolls in, subtle front office moves get overlooked Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The credit continues to come in John Elway's direction for his stellar job turning the Denver franchise around.

In an interview with the AP, Elway revisits the decisions to come back to football, hire John Fox, and pursue Peyton Manning. But while the story covers the most discussed of John's Dove Valley moves, especially the recent ones, there are, of course, others worth recalling.

We recently lauded the front office's moves to re-sign Wesley Woodyard and sign Chris Harris as an undrafted rookie, but what about Elway's first big move - re-signing Champ Bailey?

Staying in the backfield, the choice of keeping Tony Carter over Drayton Florence (whom they'd given a $1.5M signing bonus only months earlier) stands as a move that evidences a rare ability to quickly recognize a mistake and move on from it, and obviously, Carter has been paying hefty dividends.

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LOL Chiefs Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! At some point, do we all have to feel badly for the Chiefs?

After having been predicted by a near consensus of NFL punditry to be this year's AFCW champs, KC has been reaching new levels of futility and despair by the week.

Last night, the Chiefs (1-8) lost to the Steelers (6-3) by an overtime score of 16-13, on a field goal set up by yet another turnover by Matt Cassel - this time an athletic interception by Lawrence Timmons. It was the team's 30th turnover on the season, but their only one of this game; they got to OT after Cassell connected with Dwayne Bowe on a 4th-and-15 conversion late in the fourth quarter.

Lowlight of the night for KC has to be the 15-yard celebration penalty they were hit with on a touchdown that had been called back.

Dumb rule, for sure. Still, quite befitting for the 2012 Chiefs.

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Von is the real Superman Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday's game was supposed to be a showdown between self-professed superheroes Cam Newton (Superman) and Denver's pass-rushing Dynamic Duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

It wasn't much of a battle, as the Broncos (6-3) cruised past the host Panthers (2-7) in an easy 36-14 win (GamebookANS box score).

Either Newton forgot his cape, or Von is the Kryponite to Cam's multiple powers, like he is to most quarterbacks.

Denver's Batman (Dumervil) came up with a strip sack of Newton before leaving with an early shoulder injury, and Robin (Miller) was the unquestioned star of the day, posting four tackles for loss, a sack, another hit on Newton, a forced fumble of his own, and a seemingly countless slew of hurries, including one which led directly to a beautiful 40-yard pick-six by the still-emerging Tony Carter.

Updated 9:33am ET

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Seemingly endless D.J. drama finally at a close Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The tumultuous, torturous offseason for D.J. Williams is finally nearing an end, although the linebacker is taking another hit in the bank account to get there.

According to Mike Klis, the man named Genos will be officially back with the Broncos tomorrow under a renegotiated (trimmed) contract, the details of which have not been released.

It's been a dramatic eight months for the ninth-year player, starting with news in March that he'd been suspended six games for providing a non-human urine sample after allegedly fumbling the bottle it had come from. D.J. attempted to fight that suspension by suing the NFL in federal court, but that suit was dismissed in June.

In the interim, a mistrial was declared in the first trial for his 2010 DUI case, and then he tweeted out a page from the Broncos' defensive playbook, albeit not one featuring any truly sensitive material. Still, it was another judgment error in a Denver career littered with them.

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Whither the LB depth problems? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, but to no great surprise, Tracy Porter has been ruled out for tomorrow's game in Carolina.

Chris Kuper, who will be out two to four weeks with his latest ankle injury, is the only other player who didn't practice; the other six Broncos listed on the injury report were full practice participants Friday and are listed as probable.

As has become Denver's wise habit for early East Coast games, the team flew to Carolina yesterday - a day earlier than they do for other road affairs - and the team's PR crew is sharing photos from their travel experience through the organization's Twitter account.

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