It’s the final cutdown Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Know what's worse than preseason football in general? The fourth preseason game of each year. Worse than that? Overtime in the fourth preseason game at 2am ET.

For helping us avoid that unparalleled misery: Thank You, Adam Weber. Thank You, Greg Orton. Now, good luck on the practice squad.

Thank You, Matt Prater - for making the winning kick at the gun of this morning's 16-13 victory over the Cardinals (BTV & NFLN highlights, Gamebook). For at least a day, we'll shelve the notion that your contract is richer than should be given a Broncos kicker.

Self-serving gratitude aside, a few important questions appeared to have been answered in last night's game, at least temporarily:

  • Getting away from the Mile High air allowed for some actual kick returns, and Omar Bolden, who was clearly itching to go on Jay Feely's first touchback, returned his third kickoff 103 yards for the Broncos' lone touchdown in more than four quarters. It was also the team's first second-half score since the opener against Chicago.
     
  • Jim Leonhard also had a nice return, on a punt, and he paired it with some nice thumping in the defensive secondary - even if one of his seemingly timely hits resulted in Arizona's only touchdown.
     
  • Only nine months after surgery to repair a torn ACL, Knowshon Moreno showed why the Broncos cannot afford to cut him. He ran well for someone not coming off a serious knee injury, and what does that tell us about his supposed lackluster work ethic? Yeah, so Josh McDaniels drafted him. Get over it.
     
  • Ronnie Hillman showed off the speed, quickness, agility, and decisiveness that made him a third-round pick. Anyone still think sending a high pick or two to Jacksonville and giving ~$10M/year to a 27-year-old high-mileage running back sounds like a good idea?

    Look for Denver to keep four running backs - Willis McGahee, Hillman, Moreno, and Lance Ball, whose status as a game captain speaks volumes about what the coaches think of him.
  • Brock Osweiler looked more functional, and less prone to ducking early and tucking. But QB talk brings up the biggest question that was raised last night, and that is, what should the Broncos do with Caleb Hanie?

    After a fine performance against San Francisco on Sunday, Hanie struggled mightily yesterday - taking five sacks including one that prevented a FG attempt before halftime.

    Yet, it's hard to envision Denver going with just Osweiler behind Peyton Manning. Weber did save the night for all of us, but he doesn't strike as a #2 NFL quarterback just yet. Who knows, maybe the team finds a better alternative to Hanie via the waiver wire tonight?
  • Philip Blake, Malik Jackson, and Danny Trevathan also excelled, making it appear that at least five of Denver's seven 2012 draftees (Wolfe, Hillman, Bolden, Jackson, Trevathan) will be regular game-day actives this season, if not significant contributors.
  • The replacement referees were again abysmal; however much they could potentially improve over the course of a season, there's just no chance they'd be up to an adequate level. Of the seven penalties called against Denver, perhaps two or three weren't highly questionable.

Broncos

John Fox and several others (videos) spoke after the game; here are some of their quotes. Bolden admitted later that indeed, he wants to return every kick sent his way; Hillman and Moreno drew praise from Fox.

Prior to the game, all 25 of Denver's inactive players (starters plus Chris Harris, Brandon Stokley, and Keith Brooking) worked out on the field. Manning worked with his wideouts and tight ends afterward.

With the team set to make 20 cuts today, the coaching staff and personnel department will meet this morning, and an announcement will likely come several hours prior to the 9pm ET deadline.

Jeff Legwold says the Broncos have tough calls to make at linebacker and defensive line, but the idea that Malik Jackson is anywhere near the bubble is absurd.

Mike Klis speculates that the decision whether to keep Hanie could come down to a choice between him and Brooking, Leonhard, or Moreno. If that's the case, then farewell, Caleb.

It also seems doubtful that Julius Thomas's potential will make him more worthy of keeping than any of those bubble players.

Trimmings

San Francisco demolished San Diego 35-3; Green Bay pasted Kansas City 24-3; Seattle zonked Oakland 21-3; Pittsburgh beat Carolina 17-16; Houston topped Minnesota 28-24; St. Louis pasted Baltimore 31-17; Indy beat Cincy 20-16; Tennessee edged New Orleans 10-6; Detroit took down Buffalo 38-32; Philly whipped the Jets 28-10; Jacksonville beat Atlanta 24-14.

Tragically, a fan in Houston died after falling three stories off an escalator at Reliant Stadium; he was reportedly trying to slide down a handrail and was likely intoxicated.

Miami traded lineman Ryan Cook to Dallas for undisclosed compensation.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has made it quite clear that mediocrity in 2012 won't be enough for Andy Reid to hang onto his job.

Scrapple

Chase Stuart's statistical analysis of QBs continues with a look at playoff performances. He finds that John Elway's performance in his final game ranks as the ninth-best SB by a quarterback, and the playoff career of JE also ranks ninth all-time. Sitting ahead of both Elway and Tom Brady is one Peyton MF Manning.

Matt Bowen breaks down the Cross Country Dagger route scheme used by Dallas and analyzes a pick-six by Bucs LB Mark Barron against the Patriots and their Sticks concept.

Trey Cunningham analyzes Shanny's squad in Washington for PFF.

Here's KSK's latest Sex/FF mailbag.

Which of these reported bubble players would you cut first?

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

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