The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Still no charges against Doom Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Attendance once more topped the 4,000 mark at Dove Valley, and several Denver legends, including Karl Mecklenburg, were again part of the action yesterday (video, more video, photos, more photos).

The Snow Goose, who is coaching in an unofficial capacity, says John Elway has made it clear that his fellow Broncos royalty are welcome around the team. But as Andrew Mason stresses, there's a line between honoring alumni and accepting their assistance, and living in the past ala Al Davis's Raiders.

Chris Kuper continues to share first-team reps at right guard with Manny Ramirez, while Orlando Franklin apparently suffered a mild concussion on Saturday - not the neck crick that had been described earlier; Chris Clark (not Ryan Harris) is working in his spot. Quinton Carter's hamstring again kept him out of practice, while Justin Bannan apparently reaggravated his calf injury.

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Who wants to play for the Chargers? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver put on the pads yesterday for the first time since January (video, more videophotos, more photos), with the offense apparently getting a leg up on the defense for the day. Mike McCoy and Jack Del Rio spoke afterward, and Tom Jackson chatted with John Elway (videos).

During the morning session, Quinton Carter remained sidelined with his hamstring injury, while Justin Bannan and Chris Kuper took their initial first-team snaps of camp. Peyton Manning and Eric Decker were standouts, and Broncos royalty was in attendance in the form of Terrell Davis and Karl Mecklenburg; the Snow Goose is helping coach the pass rush in an unofficial capacity. Brock Osweiler practiced holding for field goals, while Philip Blake worked on snapping to the QBs.

In the evening walkthrough, Chris Clark stood in for Orlando Franklin at right tackle after Franklin tweaked his neck earlier in the day.

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Mike Adams, kick returner? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately for fans in attendance, a thunderstorm forced yesterday's practice (BTV, photosmore photos) to the private and cramped confines of an indoor facility.

Brandon Stokley practiced after missing Thursday's action with the flu, and Chris Kuper performed position drills. Quinton Carter suffered a hamstring injury, and Justin Bannan remains sidelined with a calf injury. Champ Bailey and Julius Thomas sat out team drills, while Knowshon Moreno caught passes in seven-on-seven drills. The coaches apparently wanted to save Champ the punishment of practicing on artificial turf.

Mike Adams surprisingly joined Andre Caldwell, Matt Willis, Ronnie Hillman, and Omar Bolden in returning kickoffs. During his eight NFL seasons, Adams has returned only two kicks, both last season.

The team is putting on the pads for today's practice and will have a closed walkthrough in the evening.

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Russ Hochstein era officially over Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! In accordance with the new CBA's ban on full-contact two-a-days, the Broncos held a private walkthrough yesterday evening to complete the first day of training camp. RG Chris Kuper, who had not worked with the starters during morning practice, was back with them for the evening.

As for that morning session (BTVphotos), the departure of undrafted rookie Eric Page, who was waived due to a knee injury, left Eric Decker, Syd'Quan Thompson, Tracy Porter, and Drayton Florence to field punts. C.J. Davis was the backup center, meaning rookie Philip Blake isn't just competing with starter J.D. Walton for the spot, if he is at all.

Peyton Manning's perfectionism was there for all to see, as was some reported improvement in his throwing since OTAs, although the toughest throws like deep comebacks were not.

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We’re talking about practice Lard

Good Evening, Broncos fans! The team kicked off training camp today in front of the largest crowd ever assembled at Dove Valley; nearly 4,400 fans gathered to see Peyton Manning & Co. practice (photos).

Although Chris Kuper has been cleared medically, he did not practice with the starting five today; Manny Ramirez subbed for him. Brandon Stokley sat out with a case of the flu; Andre Caldwell acted as the third receiver and made several impressive plays.

Over on defense, Mitch Unrein (due to an injury to Justin Bannan) and Rahim Moore ran with the first-teamers, with Tracy Porter lining up across from Champ Bailey and ahead of Drayton Florence and Chris Harris.

Manning and coach John Fox (videos) spoke afterward and praised the tempo of practice and the level of fan support. Peyton says he's already accustomed to wearing his new orange and blue colors, and that he appreciates being back to the familiarity of practice. So far, so good.

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Peytonpalooza begins in earnest Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peytonpalooza, the series of events formerly known around these parts as Broncos training camp, kicks off today at Dove Valley. Prepare yourselves for the forthcoming onslaught of Peyton Porn of this variety from NFL Network (He's HERE!). Later today, the "He THREW!" episode will air, to be followed by "He threw IN PADS" on Saturday.

In a couple of weeks, there will be the four-hour pregame show for his preseason debut in Chicago, along with the "He took his FIRST HIT as a Bronco!" segment that will loop endlessly on Sportscenter, with "He GOT UP and threw again!" shortly thereafter, we can only hope.

Until then, we'll get to hear/read over and over that expectations have been lifted in Denver, that everyone is watching Peyton, that his presence turns what is normally a mundane responsibility into a rock show, and that the defense finally gets to face a real quarterback in practice. And for six months, or until the Broncos are (or aren't) eliminated, we'll be reminded that the next Big Game is being played in the new QB's hometown.

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Push for 18 games waning Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! During the team's annual shareholder meeting, Packers team president Mark Murphy offered some revealing comments regarding the possibility of an 18-game season:

Now, to be honest with you, I couldn't support a move to 18. I just think with all the focus on the player health and safety, it would be really hard to do that. . . . I would be in support of a move to two (preseason games) and 16. Reduce the number of preseason games.

We've talked about at the league level that it wasn't that long ago boxing was one of the most popular sports in America. And I think people just got turned off by the violence and the impact that it had on boxers. My concern in the long term is that parents look at the game and say, 'It's too violent, there's too many risks involved. I don't want my son playing the game.'

According to Mike Freeman, Murphy is far from alone in backing off a push for an 18-game schedule, and he hears this retreat has come in response to the lawsuits filed against the league by so many ex-players. Freeman says that not only the sheer volume of names, but also the prominence of them, has had a profound effect on the owners' outlook.

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Chad Johnson changes name to Chad Johnson Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! With teams set to enter camp this week and sort out their depth charts, the Panthers swung a pair of trades yesterday which amounted in essence to a three-way deal.

They first acquired WR Louis Murphy from Oakland for an undisclosed conditional draft choice - it's expected to be a seventh-rounder. This was the second trade of the offseason between the two teams; back in March, the Raiders had sent lineman Bruce Campbell to the Panthers in return for RB Mike Goodson. Oakland drafted Murphy in the fourth round of the 2009 Draft; he posted 90 receptions for 1,371 yards and six touchdowns in three seasons with the team.

Later in the day, Carolina got a conditional seventh-rounder back from the Jets in exchange for the injury-prone tackle Jeff Otah. Otah had been a first-round pick in 2008 by Carolina, who moved up to take him just seven spots after Denver drafted Ryan Clady. A strong rookie season had plenty of folks saying he would join top overall pick Jake Long and Clady as elite ten-year tackles, but Otah would finish each of the next three seasons on IR, playing just 29 games in four NFL seasons.

The Jets are expecting Otah to compete with incumbent right tackle Wayne Hunter; Khaled Elsayed sees the deal as a positive for both teams.

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Broncos offer Clady $28M in guarantees Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Now that the team has reached an impasse in their negotiations on a long-term contract with the representatives for left tackle Ryan Clady, they're taking things public.

Mike Klis reports that Denver's latest offer to the 25-year-old tackle is a five-year deal with $28M in guarantees and a total value of $50M. The fifth-year player is set to make $3.5M in the final year of his rookie contract - a pittance relative to the position he plays. To wit, Klis says that salary would rank Clady 31st among the league's offensive tackles this season.

However, Clady's reps are reportedly using the contract of Browns LT Joe Thomas as a benchmark, and there's quite a gap between the two. Last summer, Thomas signed an eight-year deal with $44M in guarantees and a total value of $92M (most reports call it a seven-year deal, but Rotowire tends to have the most up-to-date figures).

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Zubaz pants still exist Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Players report to camp on Wednesday, with practices beginning the day after that. The team's annual scrimmage at SAF@MH is less than two weeks away (Saturday, August 4), and presumably this time the starting QB won't be booed.

In a preview of training camp, the DP writers label the secondary as Denver's biggest question mark. But with four starter-quality corners in Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter, Drayton Florence, and Chris Harris, and rookie Omar Bolden getting the opportunity to learn from all of them, we'll call the front seven a much greater concern.

After the team got zero sacks from its starting tackles in 2011, will Justin Bannan (only 31 pressures in three seasons according to PFF) and Ty Warren (hasn't played since 2009) provide anything in the pass rush? Is Joe Mays really a starting Mike linebacker (highest stop rate among inside backers, but also the most missed tackles in 2011)? Will Wesley Woodyard hold up well if he's called on to start six games in place of D.J. Williams? What if D.J. is suspended longer after his DUI trial concludes? If he's cut?

It's just about time to start finding out.

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