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.

Broncos

Andre Caldwell and Nate Irving returned from injuries to practice yesterday (video, Peyton Manningphotos); Kevin Vickerson was back from a concussion, although he did not participate in full-contact work; Jim Leonhard practiced, but not in full pads.

Manning suggested that because the first-teamers went longer than expected against Seattle, they may not play into the second half on Sunday, as is typical for the third preseason game. He also says the team will definitely be keeping a fullback on the final 53-man roster, so that the team can run out of two-back sets from a huddle, in addition to the no-huddle we're likely to see plenty of.

Then again, Chris Gronkowski didn't take many practice reps with Peyton and the first-team offense in camp.

Manning has apparently gotten the team to record video of practices from an elevated position so he can study his own footwork and mechanics, and he has QB coach Adam Gase use verbal and visual cues to maintain his in-play awareness.

John Fox says his team is not game-planning for Sunday's matchup against the Niners; rather, they're still in "camp mode" and installing their own schemes.

Following the waiving of Joshua Moore, Omar Bolden switched jersey numbers, from 47 to 31.

Go figure - the Broncos says they want to win games early in the season rather than lose them.

Jeff Legwold says the Broncos preferred Brock Osweiler over Nick Foles due to the ex-Wildcat's lesser mobility in and out of the pocket.

Legwold hit up the Rolodex to learn that the key to Denver's season will be protecting Manning, and he incorrectly says the Steelers have an "aggressive blitz package." In reality, the theory behind Dick LeBeau's zone blitz is to blitz safely, by not sending more than five players in on the pass rush - LeBeau's strategy is to send those five rushers from whence the offense least expects it, not to flood the blocking with more rushers than they can handle.

Look, even Mark Kiszla can clearly see the Broncos aren't in "all-in" mode.

Elway offers plenty of praise for his trusty old backup, calling Kubes one of the game's great offensive minds.

Trimmings

The Ginger Hammer hilariously says he expects the replacement officials to "do a very credible job."

Kicking off the third week of preseason action, Baltimore routed Jacksonville 48-17 and Green Bay defeated Cincy 27-13.

Tennessee gave CB Jason McCourty $20M in guarantees as part of a five-year extension and beat Arizona 32-27, but lost WR Marc Mariani, likely for the season, to a broken leg.

Colts owner Jim Irsay stupidly announced via Twitter that his team might make a trade involving a high draft pick and a big contract, although according to Jason La Canfora, Indy's target is neither Mike Wallace nor Maurice Jones-Drew. Meanwhile, MJD continues to soften his tone, saying he'd prefer to stay in Jacksonville.

Buffalo placed DT Torell Troup on IR; Chicago waived RB Kahlil Bell.

Pittsburgh will surprisingly have RB Isaac Redman and OT Max Starks for their game in Buffalo tomorrow, and the team fired ST coach Al Everest. Matt Bowen thinks the Steelers offense is much less dangerous without Wallace's speed.

As expected, the great Clinton Portis announced his retirement to soccer dad-dom yesterday; here's a look at some of his funnier moments.

Steve Van Buren, the first Eagle enshrined in the Pro Football HOF, died at 91.

Scrapple

Andy Benoit analyzes the Falcons roster, while PFF's Jeff Deeney examines the 49ers.

Bucky Brooks says Knowshon Moreno is among the most notable names who are in danger of being cut next week.

Drew Magary on the Vikings; the latest Sex/FF mailbag from KSK.

In his ridiculous annual rankings where 13 of the league's 32 starting QBs are considered elite - and Chad Pennington has somehow come to represent QBs just below elite status, John Clayton ranks Peyton Manning as the sixth-best quarterback despite his absence in 2011.

Offal

Despite now being a 250-lb punt protector, Tim Tebow still insists he's a quarterback, and he says last year's run was enough to validate that claim. Meanwhile, the Worldwide Leader continues to "break news" regarding Teebs that couldn't be any less newsworthy.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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