The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

The Daily Lard 5-17-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Let's all wish a Happy Birthday to HOFer Ace Parker, who turns 100 today and is the oldest living ex-NFL player; Andy Barall shares his story.

Mike Klis says the Broncos are working towards signing all of their draft picks, and are close to deals with top choices Derek Wolfe and Brock Osweiler. Of course, thanks to the rookie pay system as structured by the new CBA, this is all a formality.

Incredibly, there's talk the Ravens and Eagles could try to dock the pay of Terrell Suggs and Jason Peters for their recent injuries, on the grounds that they were suffered away from team facilities. Apparently, the CBA stipulates that injuries suffered during off-site training sessions are considered non-football injuries.

So between drafted rookies possessing zero negotiating power as to their salary or team, players potentially getting docked for injuries while working out, and restricted free agency resulting in zero offer sheets this year, what did the players really gain in the latest CBA? Lighter practices and earlier free agency? That's it? And to think, so many fans took ownership's side and decried the supposed greed and selfishness of the players after ownership locked them out...

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The Daily Lard 5-16-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning has his first bit of AFC West bulletin board material thanks to Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, who says:

We’ve got the mindset we’re going to win the AFC West. Peyton Manning, he’s a quarterback that everyone wants to have. He’s not going to turn the ball over, he’s not going to make critical mistakes.

But I’m going out there saying if my man can’t get open, he won’t have no one to throw the ball to. So as long as I do my part, we’re not too worried about Peyton Manning.

Okay, so it's the mildest of trash talk, but it's May. And, it's really more likely directed at Demaryius Thomas than at PMFM, who is 5-1 in his career against the Chiefs (albeit with a sub-Manning QB rating of 88.1). Thomas, meanwhile, has only six catches (three in 2010, three in 2011) in three career games against KC, for just 85 yards and zero touchdowns.

Then again, Denver's 2011 quarterback managed just eight completions in 30 attempts last year against the Chiefs, so it's easy to understand why Flowers is so confident. Won't be so easy in 2012, though, Brandon.

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‘08 was awesome, Bro* Lard 5-15-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The bro-fest continues with the reunion of J-Cutty and Jeremy Bates in Chicago. These two guys are so smitten with themselves and each other that they're actually starting to look alike.

Dan Pompei wrote a big fluff piece on the two for the Sun-Times on Sunday, replete with plenty of bro-love and mythicizing of Cutler's 2008 season. You all remember that grand year, yeah?

'Twas the greatest season in the history of offensive football. (Finishing 2nd in yards and 16th in points that year qualifies, right?)

You know, the one where they scored 114 in their first three games before averaging under 20 points for the next 13, and blew a three-game lead in the AFC West with three games left to play. You know, when Jay threw 18 picks including several in the end zone, and had the lowest TD% of his career?

Well, apparently it was a magical season for these two bros, and they're all giddy about reproducing that greatness this year in Chicago. At least John Mullin knows the truth, and isn't perpetuating the 2008 myth or participating in the fluffery.

In other news, Jay took Kristin home to Nashville last weekend for a giant bro convention, and he accepts that concussions are a part of the game.

* Not really

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The Daily Lard 5-14-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! John Fox (video) spoke after the third and final day (photos) of Denver's rookie minicamp. Echoing the words of Jack Del Rio from a day earlier, Fox says the signing of CB Drayton Florence is a matter of never having enough cornerbacks.

For anyone who doesn't believe that one, drudge up some memories of Jonathan Wilhite, Nate Jones, and Josh Bell, why don't you?

Florence's fellow corner Omar Bolden made it through the weekend with no knee issues, and without a brace. As Fox and Andrew Mason remind us, the elite QBs on Denver's 2012 docket will likely test Denver's newfound depth in the backfield.

Bolden is one of three recent Sun Devils on the team (along with QB Brock Osweiler and undrafted WR Gerell Robinson) and says the familiar faces are aiding his transition to the pros, as is the presence of veteran corners Champ Bailey, Drayton Florence, and Tracy Porter. He says the knee injury which cost him his fifth and final year of college eligibility did not keep him from attending every meeting, practice, and road game. 

Osweiler, meanwhile, says he and Robinson have been working out together in Phoenix ever since last month's draft.

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Warren mulling pay cut Lard 5-13-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Coordinators Mike McCoy and Jack Del Rio (videos) spoke after the second day (Broncos TV, photos via Andrew Mason) of Denver's three-day rookie minicamp yesterday.

McCoy continues to say the Broncos' offensive playbook will be an amalgam of strategies he's grown fond of and what Peyton Manning thrived with in Indy, and not simply a carbon copy of the Colts' playbook. The third-year OC acknowledges that (of course) tight ends will play a much larger role a season after the group tallied just 30 catches (47 targets), and he says Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are giddy at the chance to play with PMFM. Oh, and the zone-read is thankfully gone.

Del Rio has plenty of praise for Mike backer Joe Mays and says he intends for his defense to help Mays improve by shrinking the gaps he's responsible for covering.

The new DC says he hasn't seen Ty Warren of late, and there's apparently good reason: the defensive tackle is apparently struggling with accepting a significant pay cut the Broncos have demanded. But frankly, Warren had best get used to the idea, because no NFL team is going to pay millions to a 31-year-old 300-pounder who has missed the past two seasons with injury. It's just not happening.

His fellow DT Kevin Vickerson has accepted a pay slice from $2.25M to $1.2M, and eventually Warren will have to do the same.

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The Daily Lard 5-12-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's coaches got their first look at the newest Broncos as the team kicked off its three-day rookie minicamp yesterday (BTV video, photos).

John Fox, Brock Osweiler and Ronnie Hillman (videos) talked with reporters afterward. Osweiler spoke about working to raise his elbow in his throwing motion and admits no sentimental reason for taking #6.

He instead hopes to acquire his more familiar #17 from WR Andre Caldwell. But Caldwell wore #87 in Cincinnati, and of course that belongs Eric Decker, who wore #7 as a Gopher but never will as a Bronco. Not sure Brock should be negotiating for number through the press, as that will likely only jack up the price. This could take a while to play out, as all numbers in the tens and eighties are currently assigned.

Hillman discussed sharing SDSU as an alma mater with Fox and says he took #34 to honor two of his favorite players in Ricky Williams and Walter Payton.

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Rodgers scouts centers’ butts Lard 5-11-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The topic of the day continues to be increasing player safety and easing the transition out of the game.

Ex-Chargers QB Dan Fouts will speak at the team's memorial for Junior Seau today, and he chatted with Clark Judge about the problems currently facing the game and its players. He says the NFL's culture of toughness and the reluctance of players to seek help must change.

Thankfully, that message appears to be taking hold in NFL circles, as Jarrett Bell details. Players like London Fletcher and Brandon Marshall have recently spoken up about post-career counseling, while NFLPA exec Nolan Harrison is calling for baseline concussion testing and better financial education for incoming players. Jack Bechta suggests that players take mandatory year-round life-skills classes for their first three years in the league, while Matt Bowen recommends that retired players continue their educations via NFL subsidies, like he did.

Mike Tanier thinks the NFL is serious about improving player safety, and that we should be patient with the league as their figure out how to do so.

The newly retired Jacob Bell has some excellent ideas for improving player care: brain scans at the Combine, mandatory meetings with psychologists for new players, and making concussion awareness part of the rookie symposium. Meanwhile, Mike Freeman is stunned by Roddy White's troubling lack of respect for his NFL predecessors, and he suggests several ways to improve the safety of the game and the treatment of players.

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The Daily Lard 5-10-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! More players continue to voice their opinions on concussions, the aftereffects of an NFL career, and bounties.

First up is G Jacob Bell, who suddenly retired just one month after joining the Bengals as a free agent, citing long-term health concerns and saying he didn't want to be limping around like his old coach Mike Munchak in Tennessee. Bell cites Junior Seau's suicide as part of the impetus for his decision, although he uses an unfortunate idiom in saying so.

Denver legend Karl Mecklenburg says he often struggles to remember people's names, his own hotel room numbers, and where he's parked his car. Retired running back Jamal Lewis says he suffered from post-concussion syndrome for most of his last NFL season, and that in retirement he experiences headaches, dizziness, memory loss, and sensitivity to light. Emmitt Smith says that he of course worries about the long-term effects of having played football.

As is his nature, old friend Bill Romanowski laughed off Cris Carter's accusations and said he gave and received threats in every football game he ever played in, hilariously adding that he only "went over the line five to 10 times." Puzzlingly, Falcons WR Roddy White says all these ex-players "are killing our game" by speaking up.

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Whoa, Tom Nalen is skinny! Lard 5-9-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In a surprising development, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) has found that ex-NFL players actually live longer than the normal US male population, with fewer deaths caused by cancer and heart disease.

However, the Niosh study of 3,439 former players oddly found that defensive linemen were felled by heart disease at a much higher rate than players at other positions. The research did not account for cognitive and mental health issues, but Niosh says it is now studying those causes of death as well.

Meanwhile, the war of words between ex-players over whether they'd allow their sons to play football continues on many fronts. Kurt Warner responded to the vitriolic comments from dimwits Merril Hoge and Amani Toomer by pwning them, and old friend Trevor Pryce, who played at Michigan with Toomer, called Amani's words "probably the most idiotic thing I've ever heard."

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The Daily Lard 5-8-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! At surface, the timing of Denver's firing of Brian Xanders may be a bit puzzling to some, or an indication that John Elway was unhappy with the job Xanders did with the recent draft.

But as the always astute Andrew Mason notes, there was no better time - not a season ago, not months ago. By letting Xanders stick around for a year and a half post-McDaniels, Elway gave the X-Man a chance to prove his worth, also buying time for John to himself to ease his way into running the organization. And by keeping Brian for the draft, the Duke avoided a repeat of the glaring error McDaniels made when he axed Jim and Jeff Goodman just two months prior to the 2009 Draft, wasting months and months of work. (Oddly, Mike Klis says McDaniels held off on major changes for a year, but the firing of the Goodmans and concurrent elevation of Xanders to GM stand clearly as evidence to the contrary.)

From the cynic's perspective, this also theoretically buys Elway another draft in the public's eye. If 2012 goes less swimmingly than the Peyton Manning-fueled anticipation would suggest, what are the chances that Jim Saccomano & Co. trumpet the 2013 offseason as the first one free of McDaniels and Xanders's input? In reality, #7 was likely running the show last weekend anyway, and the departure of Xanders was a mere formality at this point. But again - there is no hiding the fact that it's Elways show now.

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