Happy Saturday, friends. Doug will be back tomorrow, but for one last day, you're stuck with me. News-wise, it's the calm before the storm, but tomorrow, stuff's about to get real. For today, you draftnik types can watch some college ball, and start dreaming on this dude or that dude. I liked what I saw of Utah's DT Star Lotulelei last night, but hopefully, the Broncos aren't picking in the Top 5, and don't have a chance to take him. Let's start calling this stuff out - who do you like from the Saturday games?
For tomorrow's game, it looks less and less like James Harrison will play. That will rob the Broncos and their fans of knowing how Peyton Manning's neck will hold up to a hit from the greatest neck-tester in the world. It may be until the postseason before we know how the neck will manage a hit from Harrison, maybe later, if the Steelers don't make the playoffs, like I expect.
Jeff Legwold's article is better than usual today, and has a couple of solid points in it. He's right that Orlando Franklin will probably need and get some help with LaMarr Woodley, and he's also right that Manning has historically hurt teams who like to blitz him, 2010 notwithstanding. I continue to doubt that the Broncos are going to use as much 2-back stuff as Legwold thinks. Any will be more than Manning is used to, but I don't think there will be a lot.
Andrew Mason says that Ronnie Hillman will need to improve his blocking if he's going to play very muc this season. That's typically the hardest thing for a rookie RB to pick up - the running part is pretty natural.
Legwold explains that neither Joel Dreessen or Jacob Tamme is number 1 or number 2 at TE. They're both going to play a lot, and make big contributions. Which one starts this game or that one is basically noise.
Jake Plummer visited practice yesterday, and he's apparently relocated to Boulder full-time. In the same article, Legwold speculates that the Broncos may release either Caleb Hanie or Keith Brooking before Sunday's game, and re-sign them Monday, so as to avoid having their 2012 salaries guaranteed. Personally, I don't see it happening.
Eric Decker is going to be doing a weekly blog on the official website this season. Not much to see in his first entry.
The big Friday news came in the form of a 3-judge panel overturning the Ginger Hammer's suspension of LB Jonathan Vilma, DE Will Smith, LB Scott Fujita, and DT Anthony Hargrove. All are eligible to play this weekend, but the NFL can re-suspend them for a different stated reason. As Andrew Brandt explains, the decision splits the matter into two parts, and says that the GH doesn't have jurisdiction to unilaterally decide cap violations, but that he does have full power under the "conduct detrimental" provision of the CBA. I think Brandt is right, that while this is a blow against Goodell's appearance of complete authority, it's only a minor blow; the players will almost certainly still serve suspensions at some point.
From the Department of Tebow, Mike Tannenbaum said yesterday that he'll get 10-20% of the snaps at QB for the Jets. That sounds about right.
Jerry Jones still wants an 18 game season. No surprise there.
This played out in the comments section of the Lard yesterday, but an idiot state legislator in Maryland named Emmett Burns (D-Baltimore County) wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti yesterday, basically threatening to mobilize his constituents against the Ravens if Bisciotti didn't force LB Brendon Ayanbadejo from publicly supporting marriage equality.
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote an epic takedown of Burns, and mouth-breathers like him, for Deadspin. I particularly loved point 3:
3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life?
Most people who are against marriage equality tend to be the same people who are always bellowing about loving freedom, and yet, they take a completely anti-freedom position. Really, they're hypocrites, who only really want freedom for things that they personally value.
That's what I have for today. It's been a fun four days of doing the Lard, but Doug will be back tomorrow.