The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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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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