Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 3/11/11

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Broncos' Fox, Elway, Xanders very busy in NFL draft preparation - The Denver Post
As one of the few head coaches on hand during the scouting combine's last day of workouts earlier this month, it's clear Broncos coach John Fox is decidedly an on-the-ground, see-it-with-my-own-eyes guy when it comes to draft prospects.

Q&A: Safety a position that is often overlooked in NFL - The Denver Post
Most agree on what a great safety looks like when they see one, but even among longtime NFL personnel people, there is always debate about whether safety is one of those high-impact, high-value positions. When I've asked personnel folks to rank the foundation positions on a football team, quarterback is always first, left tackle is usually next and an edge rusher is most often third. At the combine, John Elway said he would put a top-tier cornerback in the No. 3 spot with edge rusher, because he believes a team could manufacture a pass rush with play up front or coverage.

At No. 2, Broncos Desperately Need Impact
While the situation with the Broncos now isn’t exactly the same as the one John Fox inherited with the Panthers in 2002, the parallels abound. Both are teams with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft; both possess defenses that finished the previous season as the league’s worst; both haven’t been to the playoffs in five years since losing in their conference championship games.

Team Reports | NFL at CBSSports.com
Three-year breakdown: How the Broncos have done in the draft since 2008.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Broncos may be leaning toward drafting a tackle
Denver was home to the league's worst defense in 2010, leading to expectations that the Broncos will use the second overall pick in the draft to improve that side of the ball. The organization hasn't revealed much publicly concerning its draft plans, but we hear the team could be leaning toward a defensive tackle.

NFL NEWS

NFL free agency could happen sooner under one labor scenario - Peter King - SI.com
With the mediated NFL labor talks in their 15th day at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service offices here -- and the two sides staring down a Friday night deadline to either reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement or extend negotiations yet again -- there's a distinct possibility that trades and free agent movement could be allowed long before the two sides reach a new labor deal, sources close to the talks told SI.com Thursday.

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Walkthrough: On Lion Learning
Calvin Johnson did something amazing in one of those games, and the announcers said that he passed Cloyce Box on some Lions all-time list. Cloyce Box! Another hole in my football knowledge. I knew Box's name but little else, and I wasn't even sure what he was famous for. A brief Internet search showed that all Box did was catch 32 touchdown passes in six seasons and play in three straight NFL championship games, helping the Lions win two. That merited a deeper dig through the stacks.

NFL.com news: Florida to honor Heisman winners Tebow, Wuerffel, Spurrier
Tebow (2007) and fellow Heisman Trophy winners Steve Spurrier (1966) and Danny Wuerffel (1996) will be honored on the west side of the University of Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with life-sized representations, which will be unveiled during halftime of the Gators' spring game April 9.

Equipment Group Says It Will No Longer Refurbish Old Helmets - NYTimes.com
Football helmets more than 10 years old are worn by about 100,000 young players every fall, presenting what manufacturers and experts in the field have long considered an inappropriate safety risk, particularly in the current age of growing concerns about concussions.

ProFootballWeekly.com - ILB decision could shape Chargers' offseason plans
When the offseason began for the Chargers, they knew it would be nearly impossible to retain all their key free agents, especially since they had a laundry list of big names with expiring contracts. Now it is becoming more and more clear which direction the team is likely to go with some of its top players eligible to hit the open market.

Bears assistants find way to coach during dead period | National Football Post
Chicago Bears assistant coaches Dave Toub and Jon Hoke can’t have contact with any of their own players right now with the labor situation hanging over the NFL cloud like a dark cloud. That doesn’t mean they can’t do any coaching. Toub, the team’s special teams coordinator, and Hoke, the defensive backs coach, arrived in Italy today to conduct football clinics with some of the top players in the country.

At $13.5 billion, Paul Allen is NFL’s richest owner | ProFootballTalk
Some NFL players have objected to the league’s current labor relationships being described as "millionaires vs. billionaires," as plenty of NFL players aren’t millionaires. But it’s also worth noting that a lot of NFL owners aren’t billionaires; according to Sports Illustrated the poorest NFL owner is Pittsburgh’s Dan Rooney, who owns only a portion of the Steelers and has a net worth of $150 million.

NFL DRAFT

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Cover-2: DTs of the 2011 Draft, Part 2
A key man on Alabama’s 2009 national championship defense, Dareus refused to bend to the kind of hit in production you’d expect after guys like Terrence Cody and Rolando McClain left for greener pastures. He amassed 33 tackles in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and saw his sack total drop from six to five, despite many more double teams.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive ‘Late Rounders’ chronicles path to back half of draft "
Coverage is more than comprehensive for the top picks and the inevitable shuffling and reshuffling of analysts’ mock drafts, but "Late Rounders" took a different approach and concentrated on five lesser known players who were projected to go on day two or three of last year’s class, if at all.

NFL.com Blogs " Blog Archive Panthers shouldn’t repeat past draft mistakes "
Not only is LSU CB Patrick Peterson my favorite player in the draft, I think he’s the best player available. I don’t think you need to be a talent evaluator or a scout to see that Peterson just plays the game at a different speed. Unlock HQ Video HQ video delivered by Akamai My mother could scout Peterson and probably reach that conclusion. Take a look at the draft position of four select cornerbacks. Hall of Famer Rod Woodson was taken 10th overall in 1987 (behind notables Mike Junkin, Kelly Stouffer and Reggie Rogers). The Falcons took Deion Sanders, another Hall of Famer, at No. 5 in 1989. Champ Bailey was taken seventh overall in 1999, behind QBs Tim Couch and Akili Smith. Darrelle Revis lasted until the 14th pick of the 2007 draft.

NFL pro days offer coaches respite from labor news - Don Banks - SI.com
I guess I shouldn't have been all that surprised to see such a healthy dose of NFL coaches and decision-makers show up for the Badgers pro day on a snowy Wednesday in the upper Midwest. I mean, what else is there to do about now in a league held hostage by the CBA negotiations? At least a pro day offers something approximating football, and a respite from the financial-driven tug of war between owners and players.

Less experience equals more risk | National Football Post
There really isn’t much precedent for players like Newton having great success at the NFL level. Over the last 12 years, only two of the 34 quarterbacks drafted in the first round have been one-year wonders like Newton. One, Akili Smith, bombed out of the league quickly. The other was Mark Sanchez.

The Redskins give Cam Newton the best chance of success in NFL | National Football Post
Following the Auburn workout Tuesday, I didn’t want to have any knee-jerk reactions concerning the performance of Cam Newton. Newton has been exactly what I thought he would be throughout the postseason process, but I wanted to evaluate his pro day with an open mind.

Clemson's Jamie Harper runs a 4.48 | National Football Post
According to Bowers' agent, Joe Flanagan, Bowers' knee has healed up extremely well and he's ahead of schedule following his lateral meniscus procedure. Bowers led the nation with 16 sacks last season. "Da'Quan is eagerly looking forward to his opportunity to work out in front of NFL coaches and decision-makers," Flanagan told National Football Post. "Recent reports that Da'Quan's knee has not healed as well as expected are 100 percent inaccurate. Contrary to those reports, Da'Quan has progressed well ahead of schedule."

Source: Ryan Kerrigan meeting with Jaguars tonight | National Football Post
Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan had a dinner meeting tonight with the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation. Kerrigan was a three-year starter for the Boilermakers, a team captain and an academic All-American selection. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year recorded 70 tackles, 26 tackles for losses, 12 1/2 sacks and five forced fumbles.

Nick Fairley does a deal with Nike | ProFootballTalk
Though his football income in 2011 will depend on where he’s drafted and whether, you know, there’s football, former Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley has signed an endorsement deal with Nike, according to SportsBusiness Daily.

Combine sets NFL Network ratings records | ProFootballTalk
With a steady increase in the ratings since NFL Network first started showing the Combine, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the NFL is a year-round sport, with fans staying passionate during the offseason, even when we don’t have any football to watch and have to settle for future players running around in shorts and T-shirts. And the passion of fans during the offseason is all the more reason that the owners and the players need to get a deal worked out now, and not allow a months-long lockout to turn the offseason into a labor war.

Mike Pouncey NFL Draft Scouting Report - Mocking The Draft
Final Word: Pouncey is a good athlete overall and with his foot quickness, balance, and good understanding of the guard/center position will make an immediate contribution to whomever drafts him. His versatility to play either position is a plus and will raise his stock come draft day. He has good awareness and can handle complex defensive line schemes. He plays with good leverage and has outstanding balance when out in front in the running game. He needs to be more aggressive in finishing blocks through the whistle. Pouncey will be an outstanding professional with better technique use and gaining playing experience. He is likely going to be the first interior lineman drafted probably in the 1st round in the 2011 NFL draft.

Surprise Top Ten Picks - CBSSports.com
There will certainly be some slight movement within the top ten of where the top seven or eight players in this draft end up: Denver could take DE Da'Quan Bowers instead of DT Marcell Dareus, Cincinnati could select QB Blaine Gabbert or Bowers instead of WR A.J. Green, etc. But thinking a bit more outside of the box for this year's draft brings up some potential "wow" picks come April—open your mind before discounting these possibilities:

NFL LOCKOUT

NFL Lockout: Owners Don't Want To Share Financial Data With Each Other
Each team reports its financial data to the NFL, but the NFL doesn't distribute that among all the owners. That way Jerry Jones doesn't know how much Daniel Snyder makes and neither of them know how much Robert Kraft or Jim Irsay spends. That's the way the owners like it. Not only does the arrangement allow a profitable owner like Jones to avoid revealing sensitive strategic info to rival teams, it also allows the league to disguise which teams are losing money and are being propped up by revenue sharing.

As labor clock ticks, league, union brace for litigation - USATODAY.com
Decertification would include players filing for an injunction to block an effective lockout. Beyond that initial action, players are expected to file antitrust lawsuits — including a case that includes star quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady as plaintiffs — that challenge a wide range of NFL operations. Franchise player tags, restricted free agency and the draft all could be targeted in individual antitrust cases. "It's no more or less of a threat than it's ever been," Jeff Pash, the NFL's counsel and lead negotiator, told USA TODAY as he walked down 21st Street NW in the nation's capital on Thursday night after mediation sessions at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services building. "We've known for years that the union's strategy is to litigate — to fake its own death and run to court. If they decide to do that, that's what they'll do, and we'll deal with it."

NFLPA questions NFL's desire to negotiate before extension deadline - NFL - SI.com
"We were told we were going to be meeting with the owners at 4 o'clock," said George Atallah, the union's assistant executive director of external affairs. "It is now 6:15, and we just received word that the owners broke for dinner without any formal bargaining or negotiating sessions today between players and owners. We're disappointed. We were -- as we have been for the last two years -- prepared to negotiate. Instead, we were stuck here waiting. This is a $9 billion business. The players shouldn't have to be treated like this, and the fans shouldn't be kept waiting, either."

Was NFL Owners’ Idea for 18-Game Schedule Just a Negotiation Tool? | Larry Brown Sports
Regardless of their desires, NFLPA exec De Smith says the union will not discuss an 18-game season. The rigidity of Smith’s stance on the issue makes me wonder if the owners can use that for leverage in negotiations with another topic. It also makes me wonder if they ever wanted 18 games in the first place, or if they were pushing the idea solely for the purpose of leverage in negotiations.

Jeff Pash, De Smith spar over commitment to negotiation | ProFootballTalk
Well, we can only wonder how much information the two sides in the NFL’s labor fight would be feeding to the media if there wasn’t a media blackout. As time runs out on the one-week extension, a dispute has emerged regarding the question of whether the union truly wants to do a deal.

Tumultuous day of labor news ends with spokesman Twitter spat | ProFootballTalk
Atallah, speaking to Bob Glauber of Newsday: "If owners continue to question players’ commitment to negotiations, we’re prepared two make public all our unanswered proposals." Aiello on Twitter in response: "While George is at it, ask him when is union going to respond to our 150 pages of draft CBA provisions that they received eight days ago. Waiting." Atallah on Twitter: "I would like to request an expense credit from the owners on the last three hours of my life."

Domonique Foxworth calls NFL’s financial information offer "laughable" | ProFootballTalk
"Things haven’t been great," Foxworth said. "They want to evaluate a billion dollar decision based on two numbers. It’s really hard to say with any certainty that anything positive will happen in the next couple of days."

Jeffrey Kessler is back in the building | ProFootballTalk
Kessler, seen as a divisive presence by some owners, was kept on the bench for the first three days of the week. Here’s what Florio wrote on Kessler Wednesday: "We think that the union is keeping him in town so that the league will worry that, if progress isn’t made, Kessler could show up." Well, progress hasn’t been made. It’s time to put any remaining cards on the table.

N.F.L. Talks Spill Into Frustration as Hopes for Deal Fade - NYTimes.com
On the eve of the labor bargaining deadline, the N.F.L. appeared to be teetering on the brink of its first work stoppage since 1987. The negotiations on the financial issues that divide owners and players are at a virtual standstill and representatives of both sides are trading barbs in public. By late in the evening, the meltdown in relations seemed nearly complete, playing out on television and on Twitter.

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