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).

Broncos

Joe Mays and John Fox (videos) spoke after practice yesterday, while Von Miller visited with NFLN. Mays says he was very disappointed with the Broncos' struggles defending the run on Saturday night, and more specifically, his own missed tackles.

Chris Harris, whose story of making the team as an undrafted (and barely scouted) player seems even more incredible considering last year's lockout, admits to being a bit envious of this season's rookies and the full offseason program they've experienced.

Andrew Mason and Jeff Legwold assess the performances of Denver's rookies to this point; Legwold speculates the team could pursue a veteran QB after first cuts, and he notes that Philip Blake has been working as the second-team center of late.

Legwold says the Broncos were high on Russell Wilson heading into the draft, but that they favored Brock Osweiler due to his age, height, and mobility. He also says that, of course, Peyton Manning's preseason interceptions should be of little concern.

Mike Klis responds to reader complaints about PMFN (really), the offensive line, and Wilson/Osweiler.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Mark Kiszla thinks the Broncos aren't running the right defensive scheme and should switch to a 3-4 front. How much you wanna bet he doesn't even know the Patriots and Belichick (whom he mentions) play more 4-3 than 3-4 nowadays?

According to Bovada, Denver is +110 to make the playoffs, and -140 to miss them.

Trimmings

The autopsy report on Junior Seau found no alcohol or recreational drugs in his system at the time of his death; an insomnia medication was found, and an initial brain autopsy showed no evidence of football-related damage. But a more complete examination of his brain tissue is still pending.

Chiefs LB Tamba Hali was suspended one game by the league for violating the substance-abuse policy; Sam Mellinger and Kent Babb react. It's apparently a costly suspension for Hali, who loses $7.5M in guarantees he would have been due in 2013.

Miami named Ryan Tannehill their starting QB; Tennessee did the same with Jake Locker; Buffalo released Shawne Merriman (haha); Seattle dealt LB Barrett Ruud to New Orleans for a pick; Tampa Bay claimed WR Jordan Shipley off waivers from Cincy and signed CB Brandon McDonald; Atlanta lost T Will Svitek for the year; the Jets cut T Stephon Heyer; the league suspended free-agent CB Aaron Berry three games for violating the conduct policy.

After the Rams changed their minds about playing two home games in London, the Jaguars will reportedly play there annually for four years starting in 2013.

Would anyone be surprised to learn that Drew Rosenhaus breaks the rules when trying to land clients? Didn't think so.

Scrapple

Seth Payne isn't buying the notion that lighter practice rules will result in poorer form tackling, and he points to the Niners of Bill Walsh's day (who practiced without pads), and Ronnie Lott in particular, as his reasoning.

Gregg Doyel and Ian Rapoport see a terrible message being sent by the video of Jason Pierre-Paul dumping Prince Amukamara in an ice tub; Christmas Ape doesn't see the big deal.

Mike Kurtz kicks off a primer on NFL officiating by showing the placement of each official during each type of play.

Bucky Brooks expects Matt Flynn to get the nod in Seattle, but for Russell Wilson to get a chance to start should he falter.

Here's some pretty awesome statistical research on NFL/AFL champions from Chase Stuart which finds the Broncos' SB winners were among the worst defensive teams to win the title, but of course among the best offensive squads.

Bill Barnwell lists the team stats he considers the most effective for making NFL predictions.

Ben Stockwell evaluates the Raiders; Andy Benoit breaks down their pirate brethren Buccaneers; Drew Magary on J-Cutty, BMarsh, and the Bears; Christmas Ape on the Vikings, plus a translation of PK's EvoShield whoring infomercial MMQB.

Offal

Because Skip Bayless is human trash, he is trying to drum up a conversation about RG3 and Kirk Cousins that centers on race.

Brent Musberger re-upped with the Worldwide Leader, where OTL is continuing its apparent vendetta against the New Orleans Saints.

Eclectic Method - Bill Murray from Eclectic Method on Vimeo.

Which of the recently signed veteran defenders do you think the Broncos will end up keeping?

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

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