The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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Happy trails, CP Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Old friend Clinton Portis is set to announce his retirement tomorrow.

I've already shared my feelings on the personable CP, and TJ did an analysis of the trade that sent Portis to Washington for Champ Bailey a few years ago. Of course, that trade has only continued to pay dividends to the Broncos, as Champ is still going, and strongly at that. Thanks for the memories, CP, and best of luck in retirement.

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Lights out, Merriman Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! A hamstring injury has prevented third-round pick Ronnie Hillman from playing this preseason, but he returned to practice yesterday and is hoping to play during Sunday afternoon's home game against the 49ers.

Hillman admits he's not quite back to full speed yet; Quinton Carter practiced after missing almost all of training camp, although his work was restricted to individual drills.

Another youngster, Danny Trevathan, returned after missing last week with an ankle injury, and Tracy Porter was back from illness.

However, veterans Jim Leonhard and Keith Brooking are still not practicing; Leonhard remains on the active PUP list, while Brooking suffered a hamstring injury shortly after joining the team. Both players worked with strength coach Luke Richesson yesterday and are unlikely to play in either of Denver's remaining preseason games. The guess here is Leonhard ends up on the regular PUP list, while Brooking doesn't make the final 53 (it's unlikely either of them received any guarantees in their contracts).

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Jim Miller logic fail Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! For those of us who suffered through Bears booth man Jim Miller's analysis of the preseason opener, it's no surprise the dummy declared there should be a QB controversy in Washington between RG3 and Kirk Cousins.

Of course, his reasoning is that Cousins is a winner, which is also the term he used while fluffing Bears QB Matt Blanchard. Something to the effect of, "He's on the Bears because he's a winner."

Mind you, Blanchard was a Division III quarterback, so do you think anyone would ever have even looked at his tape were he not winning at the DIII level? And BTW, the backup Denver defenders who got torched on Saturday night sacked Blanchard three times and picked him off once.

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Peyton progressing just fine, thank you Lard

Good Morning/Afternoon, Broncos fans! If you happened to watch last night's 30-10 loss to the Seahawks (BTV, NFLN) in its entirety, or if you saw none of it and instead just checked the box score, it would be quite easy to be discouraged by Denver's performance.

The closing half was so boring and lopsided that it made the fine play of Peyton Manning and the Broncos defense in the first 30 minutes almost fade from memory, and, well, there's that score.

Yet in the same way that last week's 31-3 win over the Bears didn't engender Super Bowl predictions, last night should be no cause for great concern.

Indeed, there were the three turnovers - each a terrible mistake by Zane Beadles, Manning, and Lance Ball - while purported PMFM security blanket Jacob Tamme dropped a pair of passes, including an easy would-be touchdown pass. Brock Osweiler and the second-team offense failed to move the ball (37 net yards and a lonely one first down), and the second- and third-team defenses gave up big play after big play to Russell Wilson and Co.

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Peyton, Brock to play first half Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Training camp closed yesterday with a walkthrough ( John Foxphotos); Tracy Porter, Keith Brooking, Danny Trevathan, and Kevin Vickerson did not participate.

John Fox says Porter and Ronnie Hillman will be gametime decisions for tonight's preseason home game against the Seahawks, but neither is likely to play. The corner missed most of the week's practices due to illness, but says he's feeling better.

Contrary to Gray Caldwell's report from a day earlier which said the Broncos' starters would play the entire first half, they are expected to instead play just two or three series. Brock Osweiler and the second-team offense should take over for Peyton Manning & Co. from there, with Caleb Hanie and Adam Weber playing in the second half. Manning is apparently not pushing the coaching staff to let him play more.

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IAOFM PSA: Don’t sit on really hot benches Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Yesterday morning's practice (photos, more photos) was essentially the final one of training camp, as the team will be on a schedule resembling that of the regular season going forward.

Ty Warren was back in action after missing two days for personal reasons; Tracy Porter (illness), Ronnie Hillman (hamstring), Danny Trevathan (ankle), Keith Brooking (hamstring), Jim Leonhard (knee) remained sidelined, while Kevin Vickerson (concussion) left early.

WR Matthew Willis and DE Jamie Blatnick were standouts, and Peyton Manning spent extra time working in the red zone with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Brandon Stokley.

Warren and fellow defensive tackles Justin Bannan, Derek Wolfe, and Mitch Unrein all worked with the first team, and Manny Ramirez again took a few snaps with the starting offense at center; Drayton Florence took Porter's place opposite Champ Bailey, who was back practicing after a day off.

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The Wolfe Man starteth? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The injury to Jason Hunter, which will undoubtedly land him on IR (few players are good enough to waste a roster spot on for a majority of the season), opened a door at defensive end yesterday.

But it wasn't the most obvious man (Robert Ayers, last year's starting LDE) who received the opportunity. Rather, it was second-round pick Derek Wolfe, who has already been working with the top nickel unit at tackle; now he'll be doing double duty.

Meanwhile, the injury to Chris Kuper has Manny Ramirez filling in at right guard, and during yesterday's practice (video, more videophotosmore photos) Ramirez also worked some at center. In those instances, Orlando Franklin also shifted leftward, with Chris Clark taking his spot at right tackle.

Peyton Manning and Adam Weber each led two-minute-drill drives which ended with game-tying Matt Prater field goals during situational work.

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Double surgery Wednesday Lard

Good Evening, Broncos fans! DE Jason Hunter underwent surgery today on his torn triceps, and the timeline for his recovery is double the original prognosis of two months, meaning his season is likely already over.

Chris Kuper also had surgery to repair the broken forearm bone he suffered in Tuesday's disastrous practice. The starting right guard is expected to be out six weeks, which would cause him to miss the first three games of Denver's season.

The team shed the pads for Wednesday's practice and was also without Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter, Keith Brooking, Danny Trevathan, Ronnie Hillman, Tyler Grisham, and Ty Warren.

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Palmer gives mate Raiders-appropriate ‘do Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The unraveling life and career of Chad Johnson was front and center yesterday.

Just 41 days into their marriage, and three days after Johnson was arrested and charged with domestic violence, Evelyn Lozada filed for divorce, calling the union "irretrievably broken."

To make matters worse, the publicity-seeking wideout's release from the Dolphins was broadcast and recorded for posterity as part of HBO's Hard Knocks. At least Johnson and coach Joe Philbin appeared to handle the whole thing well, for what that's worth.

Chad expressed contrition in a statement, but considering the circumstances, chose some unfortunate wording when he said about his soon-to-be ex-wife, "I truly love her to death."

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