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Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 2/15/11

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Broncos' Thomas might miss next season | thomas, broncos, englewood - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
First, slot receiver Eddie Royal underwent a hip operation that will keep him out at least until late May, and now Thomas will be sidelined at least through August and maybe much longer.

Broncos wide receiver Thomas has surgery, faces lengthy rehab - The Denver Post
Thomas likely will spend the next six weeks with his surgically repaired leg in a cast or splint and will not be able to put any weight on the leg. After the initial six weeks, he will begin the process of slowly getting back his flexibility and strength in the injured foot and ankle.

Tag central: Who will get them if game goes on? - NFL - Football
Denver Broncos: Would they use the franchise tag on corner Champ Bailey? He had a great season, but he's 32. It's doubtful. Bailey wins in either scenario. He gets a big deal if he's not tagged but gets $14 million if he is.

NFL NEWS: GENERAL news: Potential franchise-tag numbers highlighted by increase for DTs
Franchise-tag amounts are based on the top-five salaries at each position. In the case of those players already paid top-five money, teams must tag at 120 percent of the prior year's salary, if that figure is greater than the franchise amount. According to a league source, the following numbers are in line with what the NFLPA expects franchise tags to equate to in 2011, assuming they are upheld in the next CBA:

Logan Mankins franchise tag analysis - New England Patriots Blog - ESPN Boston
Mankins prefers a long-term deal because it includes more guaranteed up-front money, but if the sides can't strike one, he would earn a projected $10.1 million on a one-year term. That's more than Mankins made in his first six years in the NFL.

NFL Owners to Meet March 3 -
All 32 owners are expected to be at the meeting in Fort Lauderdale that follows two days of committee meetings that were previously scheduled.

Pro Football Hall of Fame committee under attack, per usual - Peter King -
The process has always been an exercise in intensity, both inside the room and out. The 44 voters are passing judgment on what could be the last truly important thing in a former player's or coach's life, and so I appreciate the importance of our job. I also appreciate the interest people inside the business and outside have in the process. - AFC North 2010 season-in-review team reports
AFC North 2010 season-in-review team reports

Long lines, chaotic situation at Super Bowl | National Football Post
"Desperate people were going to the bathroom in empty beer cans, along the fence area, and they weren’t all men. Little kids were getting pushed around. Older people were becoming woozy, complaining of pain and dropping out. One elderly man told my wife he was feeling pain in his chest, his legs were numb, and he could no longer take it. People started jumping the gates that everyone had to snake through as they got closer to the stadium and tempers flared. And apparently there was nobody around as far as stadium personnel to help or guide anyone."

Ravens sign John Harbaugh to contract extension | ProFootballTalk
The challenge for Harbaugh now is to make the Super Bowl. This is an organization set up for long-term success, but the aging defensive tandem of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis can only have so many more runs left in them.

RFA tenders could be league’s next big power move | ProFootballTalk
Perhaps it’s all psychological. NFL teams are well aware of the tenders’ tenuous-at-best value. So are owners instructing their front offices to apply them as a means of disrupting the players union? Could the increased uncertainty shatter the NFLPA’s mettle, potentially causing the players to cave at the bargaining table? "Restricting four- and five-year players is clearly in the teams’ best interests," Smith observed. "They would have plenty of reasons to attempt to do it." ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently cited a plugged-in NFL person as saying, "This CBA has no chance. The owners don’t want a deal."

Raiders hire Rod Woodson as defensive backs coach | ProFootballTalk
But it also seems like a little bit of a head-scratcher, as Woodson has always seemed completely content as a father, husband, youth sports coach and NFL Network analyst. The rigors of NFL coaching will presumably change Woodson’s life significantly.

Member of "Never missed a Super Bowl" club passes away | ProFootballTalk
"Why football?" Cook asked in the commercial. "It’s really the only sport there is, isn’t it?"

League not considering 18 games with 16-per-player max | ProFootballTalk
"I don’t think that would be consistent with the goal of giving fans a better product," NFL Chief Marketing Officer Mark Waller told PFT Live on Monday. "So if you were essentially saying that two out of every 18 games would not have the full participation of the best players, then I don’t think that would be a sensible swap, and actually you could argue that it would actually be detrimental to the regular-season quality. So that’s not something that we’ve looked at."

Police report details allegation against Albert Haynesworth | ProFootballTalk
According to a police report obtained by NBC Washington, a waitress at the W Hotel in Washington said she was clearing glasses from a table where Haynesworth was sitting when Haynesworth attempted to pay with his credit card. Because the waitress said her hands were full, Haynesworth asked if he could put the card in the pocket of her blouse. According to the report, the waitress nodded that Haynesworth could put the card in her pocket, and when he did, he started to caress her breast.

Game broadcasters should have voice in Hall of Fame process | ProFootballTalk
An industry source made a solid recommendation today regarding the omission from the 44-member media-only selection committee of the folks who broadcast games for television. Men like Pat Summerall, John Madden, Dick Enberg, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Ron Jaworski, Troy Aikman, and Phil Simms (to name a few) have access to coaching film, they meet with coaches and opponents, and they have spent plenty of time at practices.

Pats confirm placement of franchise tag on Mankins | ProFootballTalk
"Logan Mankins is a tremendous player," the Patriots said in a team-issued release. "He has been a fixture on our offensive line since we drafted him in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft and he remains an important part of our future plans. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach a long-term agreement, despite many attempts and proposals by both sides. That remains our objective in utilizing the franchise designation and we are hopeful that Logan will be a Patriot for many years to come."

Naanee nailed for public intoxication, resisting arrest | ProFootballTalk
On the same day that Raiders running back Michael Bush was busted for drunk driving, Chargers receiver Legedu Naanee was arrested for public intoxication and resisting arrest, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"[The workout] was phenomenal, according to Trent," said Kirwan who conferred with former QB and current analyst Trent Dilfer who was on site last week. "But that’s in shorts. Who was rushing him? Nobody. JaMarcus Russell was awesome in his workout too. We’ll see how it pans out." - Draft Dose: A look back at Mr. Irrelevant
Ryan Succop (2009, Kansas City Chiefs) Succop, a placekicker out of South Carolina, secured the Chiefs' PK job out of training camp and has held on to it ever since. Succop made 25-of-29 field-goal attempts in his rookie season, and he followed that up by hitting 20-of-26 attempts for the AFC West champs in 2010.

Breaking down the first round | National Football Post
Historical data is one avenue of information that can help shed some light on the upcoming decisions that will be made by 32 teams looking to upgrade their rosters at the end of April. These statistics can help us determine which positions come at a premium as well as help reveal any tendencies the 32 NFL front offices may have when it comes to selecting players.

Curtis Marsh: A potential top-five CB prospect? | National Football Post
I will admit that coming into 2010, I never even heard of Marsh. However, as I was grinding my way through tape late in the year and was watching Utah State vs. Boise State, there was one guy who made it nearly impossible for Broncos wideouts Austin Pettis and Titus Young to consistently gain separation from. Sure enough that’s when I discovered Marsh.

Montana's kid chooses Montana | National Football Post
Nate Montana and his father met with officials from the athletic department, including coach Robin Pflugrad. Nate Montana was a walk-on at Notre Dame and transferred to Pasadena (Calif.) Community College last year. He rejoined the Irish this past season and the 21-year-old junior was third on the depth chart.

Agents, rookies won’t boycott Scouting Combine | ProFootballTalk
In a Monday conference call with NFLPA-certified agents, the union and the agents agreed that incoming rookies won’t be asked to boycott next week’s Scouting Combine.

Martez Wilson 2011 NFL Draft Interview - Mocking The Draft
MTD: How would you define your game? Maybe give us some strengths and a few things you need to work on. MW: I'd describe my game as versatile, relentless and fast...My strengths are my athletic ability, speed, shedding blocks, running sideline to sideline, aggressiveness and mental toughness. I need to work more on my hips, using my hands better, tackling better and just other things that need improvement.

The Prospect Playbook: Adrian Clayborn (DE-Iowa) v. Gabe Carimi (OT-Wisconsin) - Mocking The Draft
The Badgers would escape with a 31-30 victory, but the battle between Wisconsin's LT Gabe Carimi and Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn left many wondering where these two will land in this year's draft.

Under Armour signs Newton in record-breaking deal -
I was among those who spoke out against Cam Newton's media-day workout last week. I didn't see the point in Newton working out for the media when we don't own a draft pick. Now the rationale for the workout may be emerging.

2011 NFL Draft schedule set for primetime, even with NFL lockout - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
With the NFL lockout, it could create an atmosphere where franchises want to stock up on draft selections in order to fill out their rosters. It will be very interesting to see if teams end up trading future draft picks in order to increase their number of selections in the deep 2011 draft.


DeMaurice Smith: On an NFL Lockout and Inspiration From Egypt | The Nation
Smith’s pleasure reading of choice these days was also interesting: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, by Taylor Branch. Branch’s book focuses on the small, unsung struggles that made up the fabric of the civil rights movement. I heard Branch’s brilliant text in Smith's closing comments to me, a plea to owners who might be less rapacious than Goodell and the hardliners who are itching for a fight. "I just continue to believe, whether it’s the arc of history or the arc of moral justice, that more people than not want to do what’s right. And I know for a fact that there are owner families out there who are inextricably tied to their communities. You don’t have to look much further than Green Bay and Pittsburgh to know that those teams are defined by their communities, and vice versa."

The Rookie Sacrifice: NFL, NFLPA proposals unveiled | National Football Post
Ownership is clearly embarrassed by the monstrous bonuses and escalators of the top picks, and they are using a broad brush to fix this. Never again will there be outlandish contracts for "busts" such as Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell, outlier contracts that receive enormous attention and cloud the issue.

Hunter Hillenmeyer breaks down the labor situation | National Football Post
How will players remain unified when the checks aren’t coming in? Nobody knows exactly how that would play out. It’s not a strike where they can then go and negotiate with specific players and say, ‘Listen, we know you need to get paid, why don’t you come play for this.’ It’s a lockout. It’s not like they would be able to divide and conquer and go after certain players to get them to bail on the strike. Because that wouldn’t be what is going on. Looking at our league and the history of how labor disputes have gone, there’s not really a precedent to go by.

As lockout looms, NFL cities should be exploring their legal options | ProFootballTalk
And despite a looming lockout, the Bengals had no qualms about asking local officials to commit to spending $43 million for maintenance and repairs at Paul Brown Stadium over the next 10 years. Our guess is that each NFL team loaded up the relevant leases and related documents with language permitting a work stoppage. But with 32 teams, there’s a chance that one or more of the leases — and/or the laws of one or more of the states in which the NFL does business — contemplate that the free money for the construction of these stadiums carries with it an obligation to actually play the games.

Time to bench Richardson from bargaining game - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
Among other things, Richardson became so angry at Sean Morey(notes) after the recently retired player cited a slew of statistics on player safety and average career length that the Panthers’ owner snapped, "You guys made so much [expletive] money – if you played three years in the NFL, you should own your own [expletive] team."

Evidence that union plans to decertify comes from an unlikely source | ProFootballTalk
Here’s the relevant paragraph from Rich Lord of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "There is going to be a lockout of the players on March 3, because there is absolutely no chance of reaching a [contract agreement]," said Adam J. Kaiser, an attorney with New York firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, which represents the union in contract talks and in Mr. Newson’s case. The union will decertify, and "arbitrations will be almost impossible to resolve," leaving Mr. Newson in limbo."

N.F.L. Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Players Union -
The filing by the N.F.L., which was expected by the union, is a procedural move intended to prevent decertification. The N.F.L. claims that the union is engaging in "surface bargaining" and tactics designed to avoid reaching an agreement before the collective bargaining agreement expires so that it can file antitrust litigation against the league to try to block a lockout.

Drew Brees takes the high road regarding Jerry Richardson | ProFootballTalk
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, the other player who reportedly was disrespected by Richardson, has not addressed the reports. We’ve got a feeling that Manning will remain silent — and that if/when he throws six touchdown passes against the Panthers the next time the two teams meet, we’ll know how he feels about the situation.

Maryland Stadium Authority Keeps Rent Payment To Prepare For NFL Lockout - Mike Ozanian - SportsMoney - Forbes
If there is a lockout prior to the 2011 NFL season the state of Maryland may need to sell a lot more lottery tickets to fund its budget. It turns out that the Maryland Stadium Authority, which runs M&T Bank Stadium for the state of Maryland, did not make its rent payment to the state in the fiscal year ending June 2010 so that it could reserve money for a lockout.

NFL's complaint vs. NFLPA one step in sides' legal wrangling -
In maintaining that the union has violated Section 8 (b) (3) of the National Labor Relations Act, the NFL claimed that the union suspended negotiations after the financial data it seeks from owners was not produced. The NFL has said it won't turn over its books, and that an independent audit of revenues is sufficient. The union disagrees. The league also claims that there is no evidence of widespread disaffection by union members that would warrant decertification.

NFL files unfair labor practice charge against union - NFL - Football
The league's filing also accuses the NFLPA of "engaging in other actions demonstrating that the union has approached these negotiations with no intent to reach agreement through good faith collective bargaining." Atallah's e-mailed statement said: "The players didn't walk out and the players can't lock out. Players want a fair, new and long-term deal. We have offered proposals and solutions on every issue the owners have raised."

Local Politicians Urge the NFL to Avoid a Lockout - San Diego 6
A dozen mostly Democratic San Diego political leaders signed a labor-backed public letter released Monday, calling for the National Football League and players to avoid labor strife that could wipe out the 2011 season.

Faceoff: Who benefits from an NFL lockout? - Northern Star Online: Sports
College football is hugely popular when the NFL is thriving; one could only imagine how much harder the ESPN hype machine would work for college football if Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were nowhere to be found. Forgetting about football, though, a potential lockout could definitely help out the often struggling NHL. People want as many bone-crushing hits as they can get, and hockey can definitely help deliver them. Heck, if I were NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (which I'm not because I'm not stupid), I would be planning my marketing plan for a possible lockout right now.

The NFL's labor dispute: Answers to key questions -
Q: If owners are allowed to take more off the top, what would that money be used for? A: They are eager to help build a new stadium in Los Angeles and establish a team there. They also envision new stadiums for the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers. They want greater exposure internationally as well.