The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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Thank Goodness Pat Bowlen is nothing like Jerry Jones Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Make sure you're sitting down for this one. It's a real shocker:

An appeals court has ruled that D.J. Williams's six-game suspension for having submitted a non-human urine sample should not be overturned. However, the three-judge panel did say the league and players union need to improve the collection process, and it's hard not to agree with that.

After all, D.J. wouldn't have had the chance to futz around with his bottle of liquid if the collector were allowed into the locker room. What a strange job, right?

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Ready to Start Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! When Denver got thumped by Seattle last week, we found encouragement in the play of the starters, specifically the progress of Peyton Manning and the pass rush.

Causes for concern were the run defense, depth on the offensive line and throughout the defensive roster, and the influence of horrendous officiating.

Yesterday brought another loss, this time 29-24 to the 49ers (Gamebook, BTVNFLN, & PMFM highlights). The worries remain, for as much as John Elway & Co. have served to upgrade the team's depth, the second and third teamers continue to get whipped.

It's the reality of overhauling a team that won but four games in 2010 and scored more like a 6-12 team than the 9-9 record they sported (348 points for, 458 against = 6.2 expected wins, 11.8 expected losses).

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Injury bug still biting Steelers Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As we would expect, Peyton Manning tells Woody Paige he's not looking beyond 2012 when he envisions his Broncos career.

That's not to say he's planning a farewell tour this season, and Paige stresses that the Broncos plan for Peyton to be around for at least three seasons. As we pointed out the other day and Woody notes, the structure of Manning's contract tells us all we need to know there.

And although Peyton says all the right things in terms of trying to win a SB this year, out of respect for those teammates who will be gone in a year's time, he sounds like a guy who isn't quite sure what to expect of himself this season.

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Replacements still duds Lard

Good Morning/Afternoon, Broncos fans! Jim Leonhard went full-contact for the first time this year in practice yesterday (photos); Kevin Vickerson also put on the pads as he comes back from a concussion, but he did not work full-contactthere's a chance he'll play in tomorrow's home game against the 49ers.

As expected, Leonhard received some punts in practice yesterday, as did Syd'Quan Thompson, Matthew Willis, and Andre Caldwell. The return ability of Leonhard and Thompson could go a long way toward determining which of them make the final 53.

Keith Brooking and Mike Mohamed remained sidelined, and Brooking is unlikely to play in the final preseason game - making the decision whether to keep him a rather difficult one. Final cuts are due next Friday night, just hours after the Thursday night preseason finale in Arizona.

The team did move one small step closer to the 75-man limit that looms on Monday, as they waived injured WR Tyler Grisham yesterday.

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Cheatstrong Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! It's a dark day for American sport, as Lance Armstrong has finally given up his fight against doping accusations, will be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and Olympic bronze medal, and be banned from cycling for life.

But in announcing that he would no longer battle the mounting allegations, Armstrong was defiant as ever, railing against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and its pursuit of his case, and claiming that USADA could not take away his titles.

As the queue of accusers grew lengthier each year, even Armstrong's most ardent supporters had to know this outcome was an inevitability.

Armstrong's tireless work to raise cancer awareness, inspire those who suffer from it, and fund research to defeat it, should always outweigh his now-tainted athletic accomplishments, but there's still a great sadness to seeing an American sports hero knock himself off the platform.

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Hoodie was hard for Sapp Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! With training camp in the rearview and the preseason nearly over, the time for roster cutdowns is nearing.

The NFL released its calendar for the league year on Wednesday; the deadline for first cuts (from 90 to 75) is Monday afternoon, while final cuts (from 75 to 53) will be due by next Friday night.

Accordingly, Andrew Mason has updated his forecast for the Broncos' final 53, with recent injuries helping determine the bottom of the roster. Most notably, he sees RB Lance Ball, WR Jason Hill, T Ryan Harris, DE Jeremy Beal, LB Mike Mohamed, LB Keith Brooking, and S Jim Leonhard making the team, with QB Caleb Hanie, RB Knowshon Moreno, and CB Syd'Quan Thompson on the outside looking in.

Mason thinks the injury to G Chris Kuper will help Harris be the ninth lineman to make the squad, while Jeff Legwold figures Harris would have to be the eleventh man (we assume he's counting LS Lonie Paxton as a lineman).

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