Manning era begins in earnest Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I had intended to kick off the season with an extremely thorough version of the Lard, but car issues (the third of our road trip) have us stuck in Beantown for what is hopefully a matter of hours.

Travel problems aside, it's been a great mental break for me, and Ted did a real bang-up job of keeping you posted on the news. I hope you've appreciated his fine work here as much as I have.

Anyway, we're just a few hours away from the early kickoffs on the first Sunday of the 2012 season. The Broncos have thankfully been spared the usual early road game as dictated by CB$'s coverage of the US Open men's final, so we (you) all get to enjoy a full day of football before watching the Broncos and the debut of PMFM without the distraction of other games.

There's no 100-degree-plus opener at Miami or Jacksonville for the Broncos to deal with, and we can only hope SAF@MH will not be featuring the obscene number of Terrible Towel twirlers as has sadly become routine in recent years.

Denver will, of course, have only Brock Osweiler backing up Peyton Manning following the release of Caleb Hanie. But there's also the possibility the team brings Hanie back later on.

Mike Klis expects that to happen as soon as Tuesday, which would make the transaction essentially a financial one. That similar moves were not made with Keith Brooking and Jim Leonhard tells Klis that both will suit up tonight, but we'll interpret it to mean the team considers the veteran defenders more important to their season than a crappy backup QB.

Pittsburgh is likely to be without LB James Harrison and RB Rashard Mendenhall, and they will definitely be playing sans LB Stevenson Sylvester and S Ryan Lundy. Isaac Redman will start in Mendenhall's place.

They added former Raiders CB DeMarcus Van Dyke yesterday and placed G David DeCastro on IR with the option to return later in the season. It's hard to imagine Van Dyke would suit up tonight.

Broncos

Klis isn't sure how much the Broncos will be huddling up on offense, but he apparently doesn't know the team still uses plenty of zone blocking in the running game; Jeff Legwold says the Handshake Haley-coordinated Steelers will also go no-huddle a bunch, and he expects the run defenses and pass offenses of both teams to excel, with Denver holding an edge on special teams.

Zombies will either say Mike Freeman is making stuff up, or that the players he cites are lesser men than the Jets' punt protector, but apparently there's more unity in the Denver locker room - because players see a team-centric QB rather than one out to spread His message and build His brand.

Andrew Mason predicts a Denver victory, as does Steelers writer Chris Adamski; Mike Tanier is taking the Steelers, while Benjamin Hoffman picks the Broncos.

Osweiler says he's still adjusting to the reality of football being his career rather than just a part of his life; Joel Dreessen cites Manning and John Elway as the primary reasons he chose Denver over Houston.

For some reason, Woody Paige thinks success for the Broncos will be determined by recapturing their home-field advantage, but if the team is better (it is) it will be reflected on the scoreboard, in the standings, and in their point differential. We will see the results on tape. It won't be about home field.

According to PFT, Denver has $12.3M in cap room, but that may not account for the $1M saved by the release of Hanie.

The Broncos will honor victims of the wildfires and Aurora shooting with a helmet decal throughout the season.

A Denver victory tonight would make birthday boy Dick LeBeau 1-7 in his career against PMFM.

Bucky Brooks examines a few of Peyton's favorite pass plays; Scott Kacsmar's accounting says a comeback win by Peyton & Co would tie Peyton with Dan Marino for the most by a QB in NFL history.

Trimmings

Oakland will be without Jacoby Ford tomorrow against the Chargers, who will not have RB Ryan Mathews; KC added Junior Hemingway to their practice squad.

Reinstated DE Will Smith will play today for the Saints; LB Jonathan Vilma will not. But according to Jason La Canfora, the Ginger Hammer will re-suspend the current and former Saints supposedly involved in the bounty scandal sometime this week.

Jacksonville activated RB Maurice Jones-Drew and cut RB Keith Toston to make room for him; St. Louis gave LB James Laurinaitis $23.5M in guarantees as part of a five-year extension; former Lions and Cowboys WR Roy Williams is retiring

Ravens fans honored the late Art Modell, while the Modell family asked the Browns not to attempt to do so, apparently realizing how much the man is still reviled in Cleveland.

Andy Benoit analyzes the Seahawks and 49ers.

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

The Lard