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Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 2/26/11

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John Elway heeds draft lessons of his father - The Denver Post
"Those type things stick in my mind, different guys he kept talking about. I'd ask him, 'What'd you see?' ... The competitiveness, that's what I remember him saying ... that's what you're searching for, players who believe football is important to them, who compete, who fight through tough times. Beyond talent, height, weight and speed, that's what it takes."

Researching the Rookies
General Manager Brian Xanders, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway and Head Coach John Fox have been busy. Along with the rest of the coaching staff and various members of the football operations staff, the group will interview more than 250 players by the time the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine comes to a close.

2011 Scouting Combine: Sounds from Day 2
Broncos TV's Chris Hall recaps the second day of the 2011 Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Elway ponders the challenges of finding the next ... him - NFL - -
"The job has always been hard," Elway said in an interview with "But I'd say playing quarterback now is harder than ever. It's certainly harder than when I played." "I don't envy these guys today. There's more pressure on them. More scrutiny than ever before. When I played, we had time to develop. Today, people want quarterbacks to be great right away. It's unrealistic, but that's the kind of pressure they're under."

Q&A: Fox's draft history has hits and misses - The Denver Post
Fox had a voice in the personnel decisions with the Panthers and the team often went with his wishes, but Marty Hurney is the team's general manager and oversaw the team's roster decisions. McDaniels had complete personnel control in his brief tenure with the Broncos. Though McDaniels has since told others in the league it turned out that way because no one else with the organization would consistently offer an opinion, he clearly made the majority of the roster decisions in his 22 months on the job. The Broncos now, with John Elway as the top football executive and Brian Xanders having been given a more prominent role, have a more traditional set-up in the front office. Fox will have a voice, a big voice, in roster decisions, but he isn't making the final calls.

Elway's evaluations are giving Broncos a new perspective - The Denver Post
"He's very smart," Xanders said. "He listens. Like he says, he knows what he doesn't know. But he asks very tough questions. I'll say this too: Being a player in this league for 16 years, he knows what he wants that locker room to look like."

Broncos, Cardinals, Redskins Struggled to Pick Up Blitzes -- NFL FanHouse
There are a couple of ways that a blitzer can pick up the easiest of easy sacks. The simplest explanation is that confusion along the offensive line (or among running backs assigned for blitz pickup) lets someone come free even though the blocking scheme should have accounted for him. On other plays, especially if the defense calls a corner blitz, the unblocked blitzer is the responsibility of the quarterback and wide receivers -- the quarterback has to recognize it and the receiver has to break off his route so that the QB can get rid of the ball before the blitzer arrives. - Broncos' focus is on defensive line
Holding the second selection in the draft, it is widely assumed that the Broncos will select a defensive player in the first round. With the defensive-minded John Fox taking over as Denver's head coach, the philosophy in the Broncos' war room has shifted to that side of the ball. And after finishing dead last in the league in yards allowed per game in 2010 (390.8), the team has multiple needs to address. - Broncos meet with Da'Quan Bowers
Meetings with top prospects are frequent here, but the Broncos appear to be showing strong interest early in Bowers. Bowers would fit John Fox's 4-3 defense. The team ran a 3-4 the past few seasons and has a few ill-fitting parts. Fox always has favored building from the line out, and Bowers would be a good early building block. Another hallmark of Fox's teams is a strong run game, and the Broncos appear to be showing interest in veteran TE Daniel Fells and FB Mike Karney, both former Rams, who would aid a strong running back (like Denver's Knowshon Moreno) as key blockers.


Mike Shanahan says plenty about McNabb without saying anything | ProFootballTalk
That was the only logical takeaway from Mike Shanahan’s press conference Friday, after we filtered his words through our Shanahan translator. Shanahan said he had a "great conversation" with McNabb’s agent Fletcher Smith for about 90 minutes. "We’ll make a decision right after the draft exactly what direction we’re going to go," Shanahan said. Translation: We want to let McNabb go, but we’ll wait until we get a quarterback we like in the draft just in case.

Albert Haynesworth will outlast Clinton Portis in Washington | ProFootballTalk
Shanahan said Portis’ contract number was too high, and he prefers to let a player like that test the market rather than offer him a pay reduction. Shanahan was asked if he anticipated that happening with Portis. "If I said that, then usually . . . I’m pretty honest with you," Shanahan said. "I can’t tell you when. It could two days from now, three days from now."

Marvin Lewis on Bengals’ bad year: "It’s my fault" | ProFootballTalk
"I don’t think I did a very good job — it’s my fault," Lewis said today on NFL Network. "I didn’t do a good enough job. I didn’t get our guys in a position to win the football game." Lewis also hinted, however, that he didn’t think his two big-name receivers, Owens and Chad Ochocinco, did a particularly good job, saying that Ochocinco didn’t have one of his better seasons and that Owens is likely to leave as a free agent. "I think when you’re playing NFL football, your best players have to win the game by making plays," Lewis said.

Inside the Panthers: Clausen: Experience will help
Whether he was ready to play when he became the starting quarterback last season: "I don’t know. You always have to be ready to be called on. That is what they drafted you for. Some guys have that time to be able to sit back and watch and I got to do that for the first three quarters of the game in the first game of the season and I got thrown in there on the last series cause Matt Moore went down, but you just have to be ready to go from day one. I think it was a tough situation but at the end of the day it is only going to help me get better."

NFL agents seem united but many may become obsolete - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
When the new labor pact is finalized, a rookie salary cap and NBA-style slotting system will almost certainly be instituted. That means agents with small client lists will find themselves at an even greater disadvantage than now. Larger firms already sign most of the top prospects, then foot the bill for expensive pre-draft training programs that can run close to $30,000 a player. Those groups also frequently provide other perks the proverbial mom-and-pop outfits can't provide. As one agent told about the pending rookie cap, "It's going to kill us." "There's going to be no change in recruiting," another agent said on condition of anonymity. "The money that you're going to have to spend is going to stay the same. You're just going to get less of it back in the beginning.

NFL scout: NFL scout flashes genitals at female officer, urinates on downtown building -
Luke Driscoll, 33, was arrested early Friday morning for urinating on a building near Union Station downtown. Metro police said he also exposed his genitals to a female officer. His speech was reportedly "very slurred" at the time. Driscoll is charged with public nudity and public intoxication. He is an 11-year member of the Rams' scouting department.

Bill Polian's job title changes | National Football Post
Eventually, though, vice president and general manager Chris Polian, Polian's son, will take over the Colts' football operations. "From an outsider's eye, it won't be noticeable," Irsay told the Indianapolis Star. "It's the natural progression with Chris taking on more of a role. But Bill's not clearing out his office and he's not going to be gone. He'll be around slightly, slightly less.

Packers, Steelers have set the bar har in Indy | National Football Post
However, one thing is clear when it comes to the draft and the scouting process here in Indianapolis: the Packers and Steelers have set the bar high. Multiple times I have heard coaches talk about building their teams through the draft, citing Green Bay and Pittsburgh as examples. Blogs " Blog Archive Cable: We had Raiders ‘going in right direction’ "
But Cable remains proud of what he did as head coach of the Raiders, with whom he had a 17-27 record (including a 4-8 mark as interim coach in 2008) before being fired after an 8-8 finish in January. He’s also appreciative of the support he has received from several of his former Raiders players. "We had it going in the right direction," Cable said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Jones addressess Super Bowl snafu at Combine
"I think that our opportunities for a Super Bowl in the future are very outstanding, very good, because of the venue that we have and because of the way the Super Bowl was supported, and, if you will, worked," Jones said Friday. "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, the informing of the fans that were involved. You always like to look at areas you can do better, get better."

Stanford Routt of Oakland Raiders signs three-year, $31.5M contract - ESPN
With the possibility of an NFL lockout on the horizon, Stanford Routt was happy to pass up the chance at free agency when the Oakland Raiders made him a big offer to stay off the open market. Routt agreed to a three-year, $31.5 million deal to stay in Oakland and will be guaranteed $20 million over the first two years of the deal.

Extend the NFL Season? 18 Weeks, Not 18 Games | Harvard Sports Analysis Collective
What if there were a way to make both parties happy: more revenue and less risk of injury? I believe there is, which is why I propose a 16-game season played over 18 weeks, with each team receiving two bye weeks, instead of one. The league would get an extra week of national media revenue, and the players would get an extra week off while playing the same number of games.

NFLStatAnalysis: Home Field Advantage in the NFL: Detroit Tops???
For years we talked about the benefits of home field advantage – has anybody ever really quantified it? We've heard that a home team get 3 points in the spread. We've all said things like, "I want to pick the Packers, but I don't know, the Giants are home..." But, the truth is, none of us know if home field really means all that much......until now.


Marcel Dareus: The nicer, safer option to Nick Fairley | ProFootballTalk
"I would describe myself as a nice guy," Dareus said. "If I knock a player down, I pick him up." We couldn’t help but contrast that answer to Dareus’ competition as the draft’s top defensive tackle: Nick Fairley as Auburn. Fairley has a reputation as a dirty player, who got a ridiculous amount of penalties for hits after the whistle. Blogs " Blog Archive Pick Six: Combine drills we’d like to see "
4. Baseball cap wearing The majority of these quarterbacks going through the combine are not going to be NFL starters. Well, unless they go to the Cardinals or Panthers, because it seems every quarterback on those rosters got a chance last year. But you want to make sure your quarterback knows how to wear that baseball cap. Throw your quarterback prospect a cap and see how he wears it. Does he go for the classic look? Or does he go with the lame backwards cap deal? The Panthers could have saved themselves a lot of heartache if they had seen this. Blogs " Blog Archive Lombardi: Character counts for NFL teams "
NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi, a former front-office executive, explains how teams evaluate a player’s character at the NFL Scouting Combine and in the days leading up to the draft. Blogs " Blog Archive La Canfora drops his mock "
NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora unveiled his mock draft Friday, projecting April’s top 10 picks. See what he predicts for rookie passers Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, as well as one LSU defender he sees climbing the charts. Blogs " Blog Archive Inside strength: Examining Mayock’s top 5 DTs "
General managers and coaches are salivating over this year’s talented, deep crop of defensive tackles. Jamie Dukes cross-examines Mike Mayock‘s top 5 defensive tackle prospects, shedding light on why Auburn’s Nick Fairley and four others are ready to bring immediate value to an NFL defense. - Rudolph preparing to show he's total package at TE
"My greatest strength is the ability to be a complete tight end," said Rudolph on Friday. "A tight end that can hold the point and block at the line of scrimmage, as well as a tight end that can get down the field and catch balls. I'm a tight end that can play on all downs.

Combine notes: day 2 | National Football Post
What we’re hearing live from Indianapolis


Debate emerges regarding owner involvement in CBA talks | ProFootballTalk
That said, we see two potential benefits from the involvement of one or more owners in next week’s resumed talks. First, it would provide an added P.R. boost for the entire process if owners were directly engaged. Second, having some owners personally experience the dynamics of mediation — including the intangible sense of cooperation and momentum that develops as progress is made and the tangible sense of impatience and inconvenience that makes folks willing to cooperate in the hopes of ending the ordeal — would help move things along, too.

NFL's powerful agents Drew Rosenhaus, Ben Dogra, Joel Segal and Tom Condon stand by DeMaurice Smith
Rosenhaus also hoped that more teams would follow the Raiders' recent aggressiveness in signing players in spite of the labor strife. "I think the union's position has been extremely fair," Rosenhaus said. "Quite frankly, the owners need to be able to see that. They could hurt their game dramatically by locking their players out, by turning their backs on their players when things are going so well."

Union’s DeMaurice Smith Tells Agents No Progress Made With N.F.L. -
The existing labor deal expires at 11:59 on Thursday night, although the sides could agree to extend the deadline to continue negotiations, something several agents said they now expected to happen. That would also give both sides time to consider their options if negotiations fail to conclude in a deal: a lockout of players and the decertification of the union among them.

NFLPA still hoping for deal as clock ticks down  |
The warning signs have been all over Indianapolis over the last two days. On Thursday, league officials met with coaches and general managers to discuss different scenarios and lockout rules. On Friday, it was DeMaurice Smith's turn. The NFL Players Association executive director spent two hours meeting with agents and answering questions, left for lunch and then returned for the afternoon session. Before walking in, he sent a clear message about the players' desire. "We want a deal and our hope is it will get done as quickly as possible," he said.

Green Bay Packers news | NFL lockout appears more certain after latest meetings | Green Bay Press-Gazette
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith addressed nearly 700 agents Friday about the seemingly intractable labor situation. And while Smith didn’t directly discuss recent negotiations with the owners, very few agents who attended the meeting sounded optimistic about a quick resolution. "I can’t see how there won’t be a lockout," said one agent, who asked not to be named. "It doesn’t look good right now. They’re very far apart (in negotiations)."