The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Leonhard, Bolden top returners Lard

Good Evening, Broncos fans! The team has updated its depth chart today, with some notable changes:

- Knowshon Moreno has taken his rightful place as the primary backup to Willis McGahee - passing Lance Ball, who is now listed as third-string.

- Jim Leonhard is the #1 punt returner, with Eric Decker backing him up.

- Omar Bolden is the top kickoff returner, with Andre Caldwell next in line.

On a programming note, I will be away from the keyboard for a few days, and will leave you in the capable hands of my fellow IAOFM writers. See you on Sunday, and enjoy the rest of your week!

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The Broncos are not the Yankees, TYVM Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team held its first regular-season practice yesterday, with only Chris Kuper sidelined, due to his injured forearm.

John Fox (video) spoke after practice; team captains were elected yesterday, but will not be announced until tomorrow. The head coach says Tony Carter, fourth on the team's depth chart at corner, made the squad on the strength of his strong man-cover skills and special-teams play.

Brandon Stokley says practice was a bit more intense yesterday.

All teams must be under the salary cap at 4pm ET today; according to PFT, Denver has $11.1M in cap space, which suggests that any financial decisions for 2012 have been based upon budgetary considerations, not cap concerns.

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Saulsberry stakes final practice squad spot Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver completed its practice squad today by signing guard/center Quintin Saulsberry, an undrafted rookie who had been signed by the Vikings out of Mississippi State.

Saulsberry (6-2, 304) was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs, and the only player in MSU history to play and start every game of his career there. He played every position along the line except for left tackle.

Meanwhile, Jim Leonhard has switched jersey numbers from 45 to his more familiar 36, which had belonged to Rafael Bush; Leonhard wore 36 with the Ravens and Jets. Also swapping numbers were Ronnie Hillman (34 to 21), C.J. Davis (71 to 54), Steven Johnson (41 to 53), and Duke Ihenacho (39 to 33).

The team returns to practice today as they prepare for Sunday night's opener against the Steelers.

Updated 11:44am ET

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Helton saw Peyton at rock bottom Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! For the many thousands of words we've all read about Peyton Manning over the past six or seven months, we'd probably all like to think we know how far Denver's signal caller has come in his physical recovery.

But in a highly revealing piece from Judy Battista, Peyton describes a secret Coors Field throwing session held last summer with Todd Helton (down at the indoor batting cages), during which the QB's lack of arm strength startled the Rockies first baseman.

Later on came a depressing prognosis from the Colts coaching staff, who told Manning his arm reminded them more of Chad Pennington's, than of his own.

Ouch.

At the rock bottom of his physical state, Peyton threw with those who would not judge: his wife, and his brother Eli.

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Broncos likely not done tinkering Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Pending any potential waiver claims, trades, or signings, the 53-man roster and depth chart have been set.

Waiver claims (for players with fewer than four accrued seasons) are due by Noon ET today, and then the team can begin to construct its practice squad. Adam Weber, Ben Garland, Sealver Siliga, Adam Grant, Rafael Bush, Gerell Robinson, Cornelius Ingram, Jerry Franklin, Mike Mohamed, and Greg Orton would all appear to be viable candidates for the eight-man crew.

Of the fifteen unvested players Denver waived yesterday, only Syd'Quan Thompson is ineligible for the practice squad.

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It’s the final cutdown Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Know what's worse than preseason football in general? The fourth preseason game of each year. Worse than that? Overtime in the fourth preseason game at 2am ET.

For helping us avoid that unparalleled misery: Thank You, Adam Weber. Thank You, Greg Orton. Now, good luck on the practice squad.

Thank You, Matt Prater - for making the winning kick at the gun of this morning's 16-13 victory over the Cardinals (BTV & NFLN highlights, Gamebook). For at least a day, we'll shelve the notion that your contract is richer than should be given a Broncos kicker.

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Pre-game Lard and Open Thread: Broncos @ Cardinals

Good Evening, Broncos fans! Although any one of the four Denver players currently on IR will be eligible for activation later in the season thanks to the NFL's IR rule change, the team would have to designate that player by tomorrow night. So, forget about Jason Hunter coming back; the team will surely save the exception for a potential in-season injury to a more important player.

Once a player returns to practice, he will have 21 days to be added back to the 53-man roster.

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Replacement refs like lamp Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The team held another padless practice (BTVphotos) yesterday before heading to Arizona for tomorrow morning's tonight's game against the Cardinals.

Chris Kuper and Tony Hills were again the only nonparticipants; Jim Leonhard practiced and could play tonight, while Keith Brooking was limited yesterday and thus unlikely to play.

Brock Osweiler (video) spoke after practice; looking back to rookie minicamp, BO says he was essentially drowning in the playbook at the time, and is now "fairly comfortable" with its contents. The former Sun Devil expects to have plenty of acquaintances in attendance tonight in Glendale.

More importantly, tonight will mark the final chance for several players to make an impression on the Broncos' coaches, and perhaps put something good on tape to prompt another team to pick them up if they're one of tomorrow's 20 cuts. Of course, there's also the chance that the last men to make the final 53 will later be jettisonned in favor of other squads' cuts.

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Chargers fielding team of undrafted rookies Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Caleb Hanie is likely to be the team's starting QB tomorrow night in Arizona, with ASU alum Brock Osweiler following him into the game for an early homecoming.

Of course, with 20 roster cuts looming the next day, those on the bubble will likely need to plead their cases via special teams play.

Whether this is the case for Knowshon Moreno - who is the most discussed bubble player, and for good reason - remains to be seen. According to Jeff Legwold, Knowshon has not take a single ST snap this summer, so it wouldn't make sense for him to pop that cherry tomorrow night in live action.

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Raiders finally understand who their fans are Lard

Good Evening, Broncos fans! Denver is edging its way to better health, as veteran defenders Keith Brooking and Jim Leonhard were full participants in the team's (unpadded) practice on Tuesday (photos).

Brooking says he feels great, but isn't sure whether he'll play on Thursday night at Arizona.

Omar Bolden (knee) and Lance Ball (ribs) both practiced after suffering minor injuries on Sunday, while Tony Hills (neck) was sidelined along with Chris Kuper, who is still recovering from his broken forearm.

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