Good Morning, Broncos fans! Brandon Stokley (hip, wrist) and Manny Ramirez (back) were limited in practice yesterday, while Robert Ayers was the only player absent.
Ayers is back east mourning the unexpected loss of his father, the funeral service for whom will be held on Saturday in Virginia. It would appear unlikely that Ayers would play Sunday against Tampa Bay after having missed the entire week of practice, and rookie Malik Jackson has been prepping to fill in Ayers's spot backing up Elvis Dumervil at RDE.
Tampa Bay is also in relatively good shape, with defensive tackle Roy Miller the only player to miss practice Wednesday, and starting center Ted Larsen a limited participant (both due to illness). Their biggest issue is apparently offensive line depth, and they re-signed guard Derek Hardman to help them there.
Knowshon Moreno sounds like a player who discovered a new work ethic over the past couple months, and he admits his surgically repaired knee isn't quite back to 100% yet. Naturally, Knowshon's blocking acumen was a big reason he was promoted to the first team last week.
Wesley Woodyard has some vivid, painful memories of having tried to cover Clark from a 2009 meeting with Peyton's Colts, and he says Knowshon's successes in practice have gone a long way toward improving Denver's run defense.
It's no surprise to learn the Broncos already have four more touchdown drives of 80 yards or longer than they had all of last season. Oh, and BTW, they have already scored more points in 2012 (318) than they did in 2011 (309).
Denver continues to face a schedule that's far easier than that of their fellow AFC division leaders, and players continue to downplay their own success.
In his review of Week 12's tape, Andy Benoit sees Denver's quarters coverage as the reason for KC's success on the ground, and likewise says Knowshon Moreno was gaining his yards against six-man boxes. Benoit credits the play of Champ Bailey, Manning, and Demaryius Thomas, and figuring right into Denver's strengths, he says the Bucs pass defense gives QBs too much time and is especially weak in the short middle.
Tampa Bay is riding a three-game road winning streak, which is tied for the longest such string in their franchise history.
The Bucs defense has allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL, but the most passing yards. This is probably a poor combination when facing a Peyton Manning team.
Despite appearing to have a lot of pass-rushing talent on the defensive line, Tampa Bay has the 30th-worst rate of sacking opposing quarterbacks.
Although the team is struggling at corner, Greg Schiano doesn't plan to shift Ronde Barber back to his old position anytime soon.
Seeing Denver face Doug Martin will surely be a painful exercise on some level for Broncos fans who wanted the team to draft Martin, whom the Bucs took with the pick they acquired from Denver.
LB Rolando McClain was apparently kicked out of practice yesterday by Dennis Allen and is expected to be waived today. McClain's rookie contract had called for his salary to more than quadruple next season, so the move may have been inevitable.
Bengals lineman Andrew Whitworth says an unknown Raiders defender tried to gouge his eyes during an on-field scuffle, and he calls the player one amongst a group of cowards.
The credentials of the doctor behind the online course forced upon unruly fans by the NFL have come under questioning, and they're not holding up very well.
Jacksonville claimed DE Jason Babin off waivers and will be responsible for the $1.69M he had been due from the Eagles.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh nearly had a team mutiny on his hands in late October, but as Mike Silver tells it, his willingness to hear out his players has instead resulted in an even stronger locker room. But, you know, Silver probably made the whole thing up, because he doesn't like Tim Tebow.
As is typical of the caricature Rick Reilly has become, he took a Twitter shot at Cam Newton the other night, and the Panthers' PR folks responded in kind.
Bill Barnwell compares the Offensive ROY cases being made by RG3 and Andrew Luck.
Chase Stuart still sees the Broncos finishing with 13 wins, and he is starting to envision the possibility of seeing them in the Super Bowl.
Brandon Marshall laudably continues to be a strong spokesperson for spreading Borderline Personality Disorder awareness, and he's heard that some fellow NFL players use Viagra as an in-game, on-field PED.
Matt Bowen breaks down a Jay Cutler touchdown pass from Sunday.
Gil Brandt goes over all of the Ultimate Teammate's™ flaws as a passer, but where was this column twelve months ago?
This extremely well-trained pooch, who was named after Dexter Manley, has some very clear feelings about the Dallas/Washington rivalry.