Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 2/25/11

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NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Scouting players another new part of Elway’s game "
"Having the perspective of being where they are, the one thing that I’ve found since I retired is that the game is a heck of a lot easier sitting 20 rows up," Elway said. "In that end-zone box, you see everything and you don’t have those 300-pounders breathing down your neck. I think the perspective of me having been in the pocket and played that position, I guess I can look at it and try to understand what they’re thinking — what they do think about and what they don’t think about as far as reads, progressions and different offenses that they’re coming out of college (from) — rather than just looking at them as a pure player."

Elway and the scouting combine | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
"I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s about," Elway said. ""Obviously, I’ve heard all the stories about it but I’m looking forward to seeing all these players and meeting all these players and watching them work out.’’ Yes, Elway will be there for many of the 15-minute, one-on-one interviews the Broncos will have with up to 60 draft-eligible prospects.

Jeremy Bloom, Champ Bailey team up to make a senior smile - The Denver Post
As Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey broke from a group Thursday with an autographed football tucked under his arm, onlookers at Invesco Field cried for 98-year-old Alta Wadsack to tackle him. The spry Wadsack, a life-long Broncos fan, was right on Bailey's heels but instead of bringing the all-pro to the turf, she smiled radiantly and hugged him. It was a dream come true for Wadsack, thanks to friends, family, Bailey, the Denver Broncos and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime foundation.

Wideout needs not high on Broncos' list - The Denver Post
"Surgeries in the offseason are pretty standard," Fox said. "They should be back at some point in the season — Eddie before Demaryius. But I don't think it would affect our draft plans."

Elway settles into role as Broncos' draft evaluator - The Denver Post
And there is an evaluation perspective Elway brings to the Broncos that general managers like Brian Xanders, coaches like John Fox and scouts from Southeast to Pacific Northwest can match. "I look at a lot of guys probably a little bit different," Elway said Friday morning during an informal press gathering at the Westin hotel. "I look at it as if I were playing against them. "I know what I liked to play against and I know what I didn't like."

2011 Scouting Combine: Elway
Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway meets with a small group of press at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.

Broncos G.M. takes issue with report that Tebow lacks support | ProFootballTalk
"First of all, I think that report was false. I think there’s a lot of people in our building that are behind Tim Tebow," Xanders said. While Xanders’ tone of voice indicated he was unhappy with the report, his words could have been stronger. There’s no doubt a lot of people in the building support Tebow. But Lombardi indicated that there are a lot of people don’t support him. "[Tebow] is someone the franchise invested a lot into in terms of draft picks, the contract, but he’s going to create his role. But he’s done a good job so far with his limited opportunities. So that report was false," Xanders said.

Fox says Orton No. 1 QB but competition in camp will decide - The Denver Post
This wasn't a pin popping the enormous Tebowmania balloon. John Fox just released some air, is all.

Q&A: Fox high on Broncos DEs Ayers and Dumervil - The Denver Post
Fox is excited about the prospects of having Dumervil on the defense, especially given the success Fox has had with ends like Julius Peppers and Michael Strahan. Thursday at the scouting combine, Fox again touted Dumervil's return from last season's chest injury as being a key part of the Broncos' improvement on defense in 2011. "The last season he played, he had 17 sacks," Fox said. "That's all you need to know."

Broncos’ combine needs today: Tight ends, offensive linemen | All Things Broncos — Denver Broncos news, stats, analysis — Denver Post
Draft-eligible players at those positions will be brought before the media today. The top tight ends are Notre Dame’s Kyle Rudolph, Wisconsin’s Lance Kendricks and Tennessee’s Luke Spencer.

Did John Fox leak Broncos plan for No. 2 overall? - CBSSports.com
The surprise came moments later when he described his feelings about Broncos' 2009 first round pick Robert Ayers, a defensive end at the University of Tennessee, who struggled the past two seasons as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Fox, when asked what he thought of Ayers and how he fit in with his defensive scheme, "I saw him [Ayers] as a 4-3 defensive end. We've got him penciled in as a defensive end. I have the utmost confidence that he'll be a productive player for us this season." If Fox does, indeed, have the "utmost confidence" in Ayers and is comfortable with Dumervil's return after a torn pectoral muscle sidelined him all of last year, the Broncos will likely be looking at defensive tackle with the No. 2 overall pick rather than defensive end Da'Quan Bowers from Clemson or Robert Quinn from North Carolina.

NFL NEWS: GENERAL

Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones accepts blame for Super Bowl seat mess - ESPN Dallas
"I do, along with the NFL, take responsibility for the seating issue and some of the things that we would like to improve on regarding the seating issues," Jones said during a 30-minute interview with Cowboys beat reporters on Friday morning. "The informing of the fans that were involved, the NFL and I take responsibility for. You always like to look at areas you can do better, get better. We certainly intend to and will get much better in terms of the seating and how that is handled. I don't have a lot of details for you relative to specifics there, as to specifically what we would like to improve on. That's part of the process of the work ahead to do it better."

Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis' mad spending is just what fellow NFL owners don't need - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
Davis has spent like Charlie Sheen on a bender as the NFL continues to tell its players union that salaries must be reduced in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement because the current financial model doesn't work. Roger Goodell now knows exactly how the late Pete Rozelle felt when having to deal with Davis. Davis also did what he wanted when Rozelle was NFL commissioner. That included moving the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982 and successfully suing the league for $18 million as part of an antitrust lawsuit. Davis was involved in other litigation against the league as well, even testifying on behalf of the United States Football League in the mid-1980s.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Bucs GM credits Freeman for sparking turnaround "
" Round 2 for Jim Harbaugh Why is this prospect different from other prospects? " Combine Bucs GM credits Freeman for sparking turnaround NFL.com Staff By NFL.com Staff | Published: February 24th, 2011 | Tags: Mark Dominik, Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers INDIANAPOLIS — The Buccaneers’ concerted effort to have a younger roster centered around QB Josh Freeman worked out well, allowing them to improve from 3-13 to 10-6. But the swift turnaround didn’t shock general manager Mark Dominik. "I’m proud of the team; I’m not surprised by the team," he said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I think it started with No. 5, Josh Freeman, with him bringing the team together and rallying around him. "We put some playmakers around Josh Freeman to give him a chance to succeed and the players believed in him," Dominik added. "It was very encouraging all the way through." Freeman improved in every statistical category during his second season, completing 291 of 474 passes for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Dominik sees that as the beginning of something special in Tampa Bay.

Raiders Shore Up Defense Before Free Agency - NYTimes.com
But the biggest moves have come on the defensive side of the ball after the Raiders allowed at least 30 points in six of their eight losses last season. The team announced its decision to place the franchise tag on Wimbley, guaranteeing him a deal projected to be worth more than $10 million next season.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Report: Panthers use RFA tenders on Williams, Johnson
According to PFW correspondent and Rock Hill Herald writer Darin Gantt, the Panthers will place the RFA tenders on RB DeAngelo Williams and DE Charles Johnson. The Panthers placed the franchise tag on C Ryan Kalil on Tuesday. If another team offers Williams or Johnson more money, the Panthers have the right to match it or receive draft-pick compensation.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Spags got first choice in McDaniels, who won't ignore Jackson
Even though the 33-year-old is known for his success developing QBs, that doesn't mean RB Steven Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the league's most productive backs, will be a forgotten man. "Josh would probably say he doesn't like to be classified as a 'passing guy,' " said Spagnuolo. "But I do think that what Josh has done in his history is taken whatever weapons were presented to him and use them accordingly. "I went back and looked at the years he's been an offensive coordinator, they've always rushed the ball pretty good. ... With a guy like Steven, he's certainly a guy we like to get the football to, so we'll find ways to get it to him and let our playmakers make plays."

Many teams holding off on free agency | National Football Post
In my most recent conversation with GMs and other top agents, I’m consistently hearing that a surprising number of teams are unwilling to discuss their interest in any free agents. One AFC South GM even said that he is "not going to participate at all this year regardless of when a new CBA is reached". One agent, that has 4 high profile free agents to be, said, "about 50% of the teams I spoke to have intimated they will have minimal interest in free agency this year". My guess is that the lack is interest in this year’s free agency comes from the top. Owners have been in savings/don’t spend mode for over a year now in preparation for a protracted labor war. I believe most are enjoying watching their cash pile up and hoping that draft picks will become even cheaper with a proposed rookie wage scale.

Rich McKay acknowledges limitations of replay | ProFootballTalk
But McKay cautions that there will always be problems with using slow-motion replay to review an official’s split-second judgment on the field of whether a player possessed a ball. "Quite frankly, it’s something we’ve talked about the last couple of years and there’s an inherent conflict between slow motion replay, super slow motion replay and what we ask our officials to do on the field," McKay said. "So we need to write the rule in a way as to not put our officials in a bad position."

NFL.com news: Bears, coach Smith agree to terms on two-year extension
"Of course I feel great about the extension, like I have every day I've been on the job as the head coach of the Chicago Bears," Smith said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, one hour after the team announced the deal. "Great organization, we have great players that come to work every day. We have an excellent coaching staff. I'm in position to be here and, of course, to get that extension based on what the players and our staff has done."

Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan show rookies can thrive at QB - Don Banks - SI.com
Once upon a time, and not all that long ago, conventional NFL wisdom held that drafting a first-round quarterback was a 50-50 crapshoot, a hit or miss proposition that was downright reliable in its unpredictability. But not lately. Have you noticed? With the possible exception of Denver rolling the dice on Tim Tebow at 25th overall last year -- a wild-card choice if there ever were one -- NFL teams have hit on their first-round quarterbacks for three years running.

NFL DRAFT: COMBINE

The skill position weigh-in results | National Football Post
The numbers from the top prospects

Scouting Defensive Backs | National Football Post
When we talked about defensive linemen and linebackers, we discussed how the scheme a team uses plays a big role in the types of players clubs draft or sign. Clubs always look for players that fit their scheme. When scouting defensive backs, fit is still important, but size and body types don’t play as big a role as they do defensive linemen and linebackers. With that said, there are still different skills players need to fit what teams are looking for. For this discussion we will focus on the general traits corners and safeties need.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Day 2 at the podiums "
11 a.m. — Brian Xanders, GM, Broncos

Julius Thomas, the Latest 'Basketball' Tight End - NYTimes.com
Julius Thomas – TE – Portland State – 6-5, 251 pounds Background/Statistics Played one year of high school football, deciding to channel his energy into basketball. He followed that pattern in college as well, where he was a four-year letterman for the Vikings in basketball. In only his second season of playing organized football, Thomas was named to the All-Big Sky Conference team. He caught 29 passes for 453 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2010.

A Combine like no other | National Football Post
That was then; this is now. While it is true that the head coaches and general managers were spared a lot of the business details of what is ahead, we are entering one of the most unique weeks in the history of the business of the NFL. Team executives have to plan out the coming weeks (months?) not knowing – at this moment – if there will be any NFL business to conduct during that time frame. If there is no NFL business, meaning a work stoppage in the form of a lockout, teams will need to be briefed on the consequences of that, which are many:

2011 NFL draft: Tony Grossi's mock 1.0 chooses Auburn's Nick Fairley for Cleveland Browns | cleveland.com
2. Denver -- Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn Comment: With Josh McDaniels gone, support for Tim Tebow has eroded.

NFL LOCKOUT

Television revenues key to NFL labor dispute - Jim Trotter - SI.com
Thursday, in a wood-paneled room on the 14th floor of the U.S. District Courthouse, union representatives reargued their case for blocking the owners' access to $4 billion in television revenues if there's no football in 2011. The union calls it lockout insurance and contends a Special Master erred earlier this month when he ruled the owners were entitled to the monies even if they shut their doors for the entire season. It's disappointing Thursday's three-hour hearing hasn't gotten more play because it carries more impact than any discussions taking place in Washington. No one knows this better than Judge David Doty, who declined to issue a ruling from the bench because he didn't want to tilt the scales in favor of one side, which is what he believes his ruling will do in the short run.

Players Union Tries to Keep TV Money From N.F.L. - NYTimes.com
United States District Court judge David Doty said he needed more time to consider the evidence before issuing a decision, which could come Friday or early next week. The N.F.L. Players Association says the league has long planned for a lockout and extended the television contracts to guarantee income if games were not played, in violation of the collective bargaining agreement that expires after Thursday. It is appealing a ruling by the special master Stephen Burbank earlier this month that allowed the N.F.L. access to the broadcast money while awarding the players $6.9 million in damages, instead of the $60 million the union sought for granting an extra game to NBC during the 2010 season.

NFLPA-Objection-To-TV-Contracts-Case-Ruling-Now-Public / News - NFLPlayers.com
The NFLPA and NFL presented arguments to US District Judge David Doty in Minneapolis on Thursday as the NFLPA partially appealed the initial ruling by Special Master Stephen Burbank. The Special Master found that the NFL violated the Reggie White Stipulation & Settlement Agreement (SSA) that is the foundation for the current Collective Bargaining Agreement in its re-negotiated contracts with NBC and ESPN and awarded the Players $6.9 million in damages. However, the NFLPA is challenging the Special Master’s opinion because it believes the NFL acted in bad faith and violated the SSA in all five network contract extensions, and the proper remedy is to prevent the NFL from accessing the $4 billion lockout payment money that the NFL insisted upon from the networks.

Documents show owners planned for lockout in TV contracts - Shutdown Corner - NFL  - Yahoo! Sports
Burbank's ruling seems to hinge on the notion that the NFL can somehow act in the best short-term interest of the players (actually, both parties) and its own long-term business interests at the same time. A specious notion at best, but that's what we're left with at this time. What the NFLPA can't seem to prove at this time is the crux of their case - that the owners willingly and specifically went out of their way to deny players revenue. Without that proof, the notion of lockout insurance becomes a bit more reasonable, if not entirely palatable.

Labor, the NFL lockout and American network TV - National Business of Sports | Examiner.com
Are the networks affiliates engaged in the proper use of their TV licenses? Affiliated stations are paying their network partners a fee for the right to have NFL games on their stations. The stations are supporting the NFL owners actions. The owners are collecting money from the public to support the lockout through a third party, whether it is Murdoch's FOX syndication, Comcast-GE's NBC, Redstone's CBS or Disney's ESPN. Don't look for this type of breakdown from CNN. Time Warner, CNN's parent company, has some conflicts as well.

NFL owners should open their books to players
What I'd like to see from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners is a simple display of good faith: Show the union your books. Don't keep secrets. If there are financial pressures that keep you from agreeing to the revenue-sharing plan proposed by the players, let's see the proof. Ask a neutral third party to review your financial data, redact anything sensitive and prepare an unbiased bottom-line assessment of the league's finances.

Who faces bad field position from a lockout? - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
If a settlement comes anytime from late August on, the likeliest scenario is a crash free-agency period – expect most players to accept one-year deals from their current teams and forestall the process until 2012 – and an abbreviated training camp that would last 10 days or so. Then the regular season would begin, and teams like Harbaugh’s Niners will be at a decided disadvantage. In addition to losing out on an opportunity to acclimate players to his system, Harbaugh would have a hard time upgrading the quarterback position, a major weakness for the Niners in recent years. That, I believe, is why Harbaugh has smartly made an effort to create an environment in which Alex Smith could return to the team in 2011.

Labor strife impacting NFL's draft plans - CBSSports.com
In what one source labeled an "unprecedented" move, the NFL has begun offering invitations to players they hope will attend the 2011 NFL Draft in New York. The fear is the NFLPA will boycott the event, which one prominent player representation firm deemed "a strong possibility." At least two players likely to be drafted early in the first round received invites on Thursday; typically, the league hands out these offers to the top eight to 12 prospects three weeks prior to the draft.

NFL warning coaches not to talk to players during lockout | ProFootballTalk
Although the NFL is downplaying the significance of today’s big meeting with all 32 head coaches and general managers, the league office does have an important message for the bigwigs who run every team: Once the lockout starts, cut off all contact with players. Last month Charley Casserly of CBS, who was a Redskins executive during the 1982 and 1987 players’ strikes, pointed out that there was sure to be some contact between coaches and players during the looming 2011 lockout. Casserly also noted that such contact would be cheating, and the league would discipline the involved coaches.

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