The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Kuper injury not disastrous Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As feared, a severe ankle sprain will keep right guard Chris Kuper out for as long as a month.

While the credit is not all his, the team's streak of three wins and three games without Peyton Manning having taken a sack, does coincide with the return of Kuper from the forearm injury he suffered during training camp. Denver also had (by far) its most productive game running the ball with Kuper, totaling 225 yards on the ground against New Orleans.

In 175 snaps played over three games, Kuper has graded out at an excellent +3.5; backup Manny Ramirez has a -2.4 grade in 387 snaps.

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No trap games with PMFM at helm Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The trap game. It's been a while since the Broncos were good enough to actually have one, but the memories are still painfully fresh.

There was the 2006 playoff-costing finale against San Francisco, the 2008 duds against Kansas City, Miami, and Buffalo, and any number of recent losses to Oakland.

But instead of laying an egg in Cincinnati yesterday, Denver overcame a few big mistakes and left town with a 31-23 victory (Gamebook, ANS box score) over the Bengals.

Of course, there are some whopping differences between those middling squads and the 2012 Broncos - namely, Peyton Manning and Von Miller.

With the demanding perfectionist Manning leading the way, it's hard to picture this team having a letdown. Sure, it can lose - but probably not for having overlooked an opponent.

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Who’s afraid of Andy Dalton? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Among the main storylines for Denver's season is the string of marquee quarterbacks they've opposed and will continue to see.

The preseason chatter on that topic included Cincy's Andy Dalton, but now that tune is starting to change. Why? Because Dalton's had a few poor games in a row, with his team mired in a three-game losing streak.

Mike Klis is declaring that the TCU alum is amidst a sophomore slump, even suggesting that, "No other explanation is needed for his disappointing play this year as the Cincinnati Bengals' starting quarterback."

This, only a few weeks after having called the Red Rifle the league's 12th-best QB, even suggesting he could meet Cam Newton "in a future Super Bowl or three."

Perhaps he's being a bit tongue-in-cheek with the sophomore slump stuff, and we're not meaning to pick solely on Klis here.

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Front office love Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Been forgetting all week to mention a couple of points that came up in our game chat last Sunday.

For one, it was very encouraging to see the extra gear of speed provided by Ronnie Hillman on offense and Trindon Holliday returning punts. It's been a long time since the Broncos have regularly put the ball into the hands of anyone with as much pure speed as either of these guys - a quick look during the game at recent Denver rosters took us all the way back to 2006, for Tatum Bell's first (pre-mobile phone salesman/Lions baggage thief) stint with the team.

Each has some learning ahead of them - Hillman has Willis McGahee to show him better reads and the proper balance between decisiveness and patience with the ball, and Holliday could stand to gain a better understanding from Jim Leonhard of how/when to fair catch a ball. Both have time on their side - Hillman is the youngest player in the NFL, and Holliday has only returned 23 punts in his brief NFL career.

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Chiefs probing new depths of futility Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Anyone remember when the 2012 Chiefs were supposed to be all kinds of teh awesome?

Haha.

KC managed to stay with the host Chargers for three quarters - but then the floodgates opened, in the form of three quick touchdowns - two of them off Matt Cassel turnovers. The $63M man now has 18 out of his team's league-leading 29 turnovers, and the Chiefs have still not held a lead at any point during this season. Among entire teams, only the Cowboys have more giveaways (by one) than Cassel alone.

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Manning Offensive POM Lard

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! We've just overcome some technical difficulties brought on by our friend Sandy; apologies for the late Lard.

The latest Broncos accolade belongs to Peyton Manning, who was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for October. This is Peyton's fifth time winning the award, and the first such honor for a Bronco since Jay Cutler won in September 2008.

As for the state of his right thumb, Peyton says it's fine, and "more of an irritant than anything."

More great news comes in the form of Tracy Porter's return to practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis. It remains unclear whether Porter will be available for Sunday, but appears certain he won't start.

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Orlando Franklin as Cleopatra Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! No new word yet on the health of Denver cornerback Tracy Porter.

But if/when Porter is cleared to play, Mike Klis expects he'll spend a week working behind youngsters Chris Harris and Tony Carter, who have proven themselves more than capable in his absence.

As for the sophomore improvement exhibited by Rahim Moore, Klis says the 22-year old has matured quite a bit, perhaps thanks to the humbling experience of a difficult rookie season. Moore apparently worked extremely hard over the offseason and has earned newfound respect from both teammates and coaches.

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Get that Manning a manicure Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Thankfully, Peyton Manning says his right thumb is okay after it hit the helmet of Saints DE Martez Wilson on Sunday night.

However, the team is upset about the hit applied by Wilson on the play, and will likely ask the league to examine it and consider disciplinary action against the second-year player.

Turns out that only Peyton's thumbnail was damaged; maybe he (and all QBs?) should be wearing a nail polish to protect his nails, in the way knuckleball pitchers do.

The NFL trade deadline was supposed to come this afternoon, but due to Hurricane Sandy, the league offices have been closed, and the deadline has been pushed back to Thursday at 4pm ET. Among the players rumored to be potentially involved in deals are several high-profile running backs, Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe, and the punt protector who can't protect the punter; Titans TE Jared Cook has reportedly asked to be traded.

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Sixty-minute Broncos Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Last night was about questions answered.

Not regarding Peyton Manning - at least around these parts, there have been no concerns about the 36-year-old's play or physical condition since Week 3 - when he established for good that his arm was more than fine.

In the four weeks that have followed, Manning has played at a level far beyond any Broncos quarterback has ever performed. He's the first in NFL history to top 300 yards, 70% completions, and three touchdown passes in four consecutive games; against San Diego, he had become the first to do that three times in a row. File that under the category of arbitrary trivia, but it's still impressive and speaks to how great Peyton has been.

Over that stretch, Peyton has piled up 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns on a 75.4% completion rate and 127.9 QB rating, with just one interception and two sacks. Both sacks came against New England; against Oakland, San Diego, and New Orleans, the Denver QB was not taken down behind the LOS.

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Peyton was Double Secret Squirrel at Duke Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! By now, we're all quite aware that Peyton Manning did the bulk of his rehab work at Duke University with head coach David Cutcliffe, who had been his OC at Tennessee.

But while the work was being done, almost nobody knew it was happening - even Cutcliffe's assistant coaches. Manning's workouts took place at night, and Cutcliffe says his equipment staff were the only ones who knew Peyton was on campus.

As for the simulation of Indianapolis's 2009 AFC Championship win over the Jets - along with Brandon Stokley and other ex-mates - Manning's maniacal attention to detail manifested itself in reenacting plays down to the second. Even plays run by the imaginary Jets.

John Fox says that he and John Elway leaned heavily upon Cutcliffe for an evaluation of Manning prior to signing him, which prompts us to say one thing:

Thank you, David Cutcliffe.

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