Peyton Manning, reefer opportunist Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've been saying since before the season began that fullback Chris Gronkowski wouldn't be seeing many offensive snaps. Or at least, that he shouldn't be.

Not sure why Jeff Legwold & Co. believed otherwise, unless they were just willing to believe whatever sound bite John Fox and Mike McCoy provided them.

And now that Virgil Green is becoming more involved in the offense following his four-game suspension, he's taking some snaps at fullback. We'll disagree with Legwold's claim that Denver's large scoring deficits have been the reason for Gronk's limited play, especially since Chris has hardly played offense in the games when the Broncos didn't trail big, including Sunday.

The biggest factor is using the no-huddle offense and substituting less, which requires players be versatile pieces that can be moved around a formation. That's clearly not what Gronkowski is.

However, that doesn't mean Gronkowski has been a wasted acquisition; as Legwold notes, Gronkowski has been active in all eight of Denver's games, and is second on the team in number of special teams snaps to David Bruton.

Broncos

Videos: John Fox and Peyton Manning speak after practice, from which Chris Hall reports for BTV; Champ Bailey visits with NFLN.

Tracy Porter again missed practice due to his frightening health situation; Sunday will be a homecoming for almost the entire coaching staff.

According to Andrew Mason, the players can sense that a win against Carolina would be extra special for John Fox. Of course, Fox is doing his best to hide that sentiment.

For those same no-huddle/personnel reasons, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have been the target of almost all of Manning's throws to WRs. Of course, that's also partly about talent, but as we've been saying for many months now, Peyton has never in any year thrown very often to more than three receivers, barring injury. 

Scott Kacsmar counts the quickness and magnitude of Peyton's return to dominance as the season's biggest surprise.

Kevin Fishbain explains that John Elway's front office made plenty of great offseason moves aside from the most obvious pair of transactions.

Over at KSK, some Peyton-heavy captionization of Week 9, and the noteworthy point that Manning bought 21 pizza joints in Colorado, two weeks prior to the legalization of marijuana use in the state.

Von Miller, Peyton Manning, and Ryan Clady are among Khaled Elsayed's list of the Top 51 players of the season thus far.

PFF's data confirms that Manning gets the ball out faster than most, and the sacks he takes are also on much quicker plays than those typical of the rest of the league's QBs.

Panthers

Eight players did not participate in practice yesterday for Carolina, who will have David Gettis returning kickoffs instead of the injured Kealoha Pilares.

Legwold says Carolina's defense has been stingy for several weeks now, but you already knew that from reading the Lard.

Trimmings

Brady Quinn admits he tried to play through his recent concussion, and that is precisely why the NFL and its teams have to take aggressive ownership of protecting players, unless we're expecting people who have just suffered head injuries to be rationally looking out for their own wellbeing. With Quinn still not cleared, Matt Cassel will start on MNF at Pittsburgh; anyone expecting a game closer than 28-3? Me neither.

The Chargers were found not to have been cheating with their Gorilla Gold towels, which are apparently used by many NFL teams. Well, they were widely used until now, since the NFL has banned the towels until the competition committee can review them in the offseason.

Unless he has a setback, Jake Locker will start this week for the Titans; Atlanta swapped fullbacks; Miami placed CB Richard Marshall on IR.

Many Colts players have shaved their heads in a showing of support for their ailing coach Chuck Pagano.

Scrapple

Mike Freeman says the decision to bring in Michael Vick is ultimately what will have brought down Andy Reid's tenure with the Eagles, calls Philly the likeliest destination for Sean Payton if not New Orleans, and says the Jags are about to get overhauled in the offseason.

Bucky Brooks ranks the Broncos fourth among SB contenders, with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall's Bears at the top of his list.

Sam Monson studies Doug Martin's demolition of the Raiders, while Matt Bowen breaks down some of Brandon Marshall's catches from Sunday and the play of Andrew Luck against Miami.

Jason Whitlock thinks both the Chiefs and Chargers will try to hire Reid, says Payton will go to the Cowboys, and idiotically tries to discredit Shanny for Denver's two Super Bowls.

In his mailbag, Mike Tanier says no QB has been better than Manning at making his offensive line better, and he says the Chiefs are kind of screwed if they expect to get a great QB atop the next draft.

Andy Benoit reviews some film from Week 9, plus his midseason NFC Pro Bowl picks; Doug Farrar includes Wesley Woodyard among his list of underrated defensive players, also giving Chris Harris an honorable mention.

Gil Brandt lists his top 20 rookies at the midway point, and it sure would be nice if legit evaluators like him would go beyond the laziness of citing how many winz the kid has. Everyone knows how many games the Colts have won, and one might come away thinking Luck is this year's John Skelton for that lack of added value.

Chase Stuart predicts the Broncos will go 7-1 from here and finish with 12 victories, one game behind the conference-leading Texans.

Mike Florio shows himself to be an inhumane huckster whose life priorities are way the f#$% out of whack when he suggests NFL players shouldn't be allowed to miss games for the birth of their children.

Offal

Via Justin Halpern, a hilarious look at Tim Tebow's inbox.

There's proof everyday that the NCAA is run by a bunch of overly punitive asshole administrators, but this story is particularly galling: two Indiana hoopsters have been fined and punished because the wife of their AAU coach and legal guardian bought bumper stickers from IU as recently as 1992.

RIP Darrell Royal, legendary former Texas coach and wishbone pioneer, who passed away at 88. Here's an SI cover story about his most famous win. (via Deadspin)

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

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