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With Broncos, Patriots flawed, no clear favorite in AFC (The Associated Press)
No clear-cut favorite in the AFC. With the regular season about to kick off, it's anybody's guess who'll be the conference's representative at the Super Bowl in Houston in February. The defending champion Denver Broncos will try to become the first team to repeat since New England in 2004-05. [...]
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[MLS: MLS Insider] – Jurgen Klinsmann calls up 26, including 13 MLSers, for World Cup qualifiers
... Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC), 
 Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
 DEFENDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas Cit ... [...]
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[MLS: Colorado Rapids] – Five Colorado Rapids players receive international call-ups
... Round of 16. The 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star has appeared in eight games for the Rapids after joining via an offseason trade with the New England Revolution. Jones ... [...]
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Avs Prospects Jost, Werner Finish Summer Camps
The past week was an exciting but fleeting glimpse of the future as NHL prospects took part in World Junior development camps. The end to Team Canada's camp was a difficult one, as the squad was defeated in all three of its exhibition contests.... [...]
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Broncos, Briefly: Sunday, August 28, 2016
A quick look at the recent buzz on the Denver Broncos. [...]
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The Squeeze: Von meets Vonn
A concentrated look at the recent juice on the Denver Broncos. [...]
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Rockies beat Nationals 5-3, taking another series from a first-place team
WASHINGTON — As they won another series against a first-place team Sunday, with a blend of power, strong starting pitching and serviceable relief work, the Rockies were left to wonder what could have been. Colorado’s 5-3 victory gave the Rockies their second straight series win over the Nationals. It came on the heels over recent such triumphs over the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles, all teams currently on track to play postseason baseball in October. But the goodwill those wins have created, and the ground in the standings they’ve helped make up, have too routinely been followed by veritable flops against teams further down the major-league totem pole than the Rockies. See: perplexing sweeps at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers. But why? “It’s the million-dollar question,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said before Sunday’s game. Greg Fiume, Getty ImagesDavid Dahl #26 of the Colorado Rockies celebrates with manager Walt Weiss #22 after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. Nolan Arenado, who hit his 35th home run of the season and finished a double short of a cycle, has been left scratching his head, too. “It’s kind of weird the way we’re playing,” said Arenado, who tied a career-high with four hits Saturday and increased his MLB-leading RBI total to 111. “When we face the best teams, we take it to another notch of competitiveness and stuff like that. When we play bad teams, it feels like we get complacent. We’ve got to change that. It’s a weird thing.” The Rockies’ latest victory over a division leader came with a familiar formula, and it began with starter Chad Bettis, who bounced back from a rough start in Milwaukee by keeping the Nationals off balance during seven strong innings. The right-hander gave up a leadoff home run to Trea Turner and then surrendered only three harmless singles before a solo home run by Wilson Ramos to lead off the seventh. That homer could have been a gut punch. Instead, it only emboldened Bettis, who buckled down to strike out the next three hitters and put a stamp on his best start in at least a month. He finished with six strikeouts and walked only one after walking a career-high seven in his last start. It also was the first time he finished seven innings since April 10 against the San Diego Padres. Related ArticlesAugust 27, 2016 Carlos Gonzalez reaches milestone in Rockies victory over Nationals August 27, 2016 Rockies provide late power to back bullpen in 11-inning victory over Nationals “I really liked his changeup today,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Bettis, who also coaxed Ben Revere into a double play to get out of a jam in the fifth. “I’ve always felt his changeup is a real good weapon, and he used it well today.” The Rockies backed Bettis with all the offense he needed in the third inning. Nolan Arenado, who tied a career high with four hits, followed a Carlos Gonzalez single with a line-drive home run to left field off Nationals starter Lucas Giolito, who was making his fifth career start. It was Arenado’s 35th home run of the season, tying him for the NL lead with Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs. David Dahl followed Arenado’s homer with a solo shot of his own off Giolito, marking the 10th time this season the Rockies hit back-to-back home runs. Mitchell Layton, The Denver PostCharlie Blackmon #19 of the Colorado Rockies celebrates a win after a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Rockies added a wacky insurance run in the eighth inning when Daniel Descalso, after hitting his second double off the game, scored from second on reliever Koda Glover’s wild pitch. The pitch hit home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinkski in the left shoulder and caromed toward the first-base dugout, giving Descalso time to scamper all the away from second. The Nationals cut the lead to 5-3 on Bryce Harper’s home run off Boone Logan in the ninth inning. But Adam Ottavino, who had his streak of 37 games without surrendering a run snapped Saturday, struck out Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos and got Ryan Zimmerman to fly out to end the game “It’s fun to watch him,” Bettis said of Ottavino. “He’s got great stuff, and today was just a small glimpse of what he can do.” Arenado was left standing on deck in the ninth inning, missing a chance to complete an unlikely cycle. After an RBI single in the first and the home run in the third, he hit a fly ball to right field in the fifth that Harper appeared to lose in the sun as Arenado coasted to third base. Harper was originally charged with an error, but the the play was later changed to credit Arenado with a tr [...]
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Rockies hope Gerardo Parra slowly finding rhythm at the plate, first base
WASHINGTON — Lost in the power show that was the Rockies’ third inning Sunday, when Nolan Arenado and David Dahl hit back-to-back home runs, was a quiet, 90-foot stroll by Gerardo Parra. Yes, Parra drew another walk in the series finale against the Washington Nationals, his third in two games. It’s a notable statistic because entering Saturday, Parra had only four walks in 312 plate appearances during what has been a rough first season in Colorado. But Parra’s recent ability to get on base during this atom-size sample — he also singled Sunday — comes at a key time. He made his third start at first base, where Rockies manager Walt Weiss said the veteran has impressed during his short stint at the position. “He looks comfortable to me,” Weiss said. “You watch for things. The awareness, the body language. He just looks comfortable over there. That’s kind of who he is. He loves playing. He’s been able to take that over there to first base. He hasn’t changed the way he approaches the game, which is a good thing. It helps him keep things simple over there and not get overwhelmed.” Related ArticlesAugust 28, 2016 Rockies beat Nationals 5-3, taking another series from a first-place team August 27, 2016 Carlos Gonzalez reaches milestone in Rockies victory over Nationals August 27, 2016 Rockies provide late power to back bullpen in 11-inning victory over Nationals The Rockies have started five different players at first base since Mark Reynolds went on the disabled list Aug. 12 with a broken hamate bone in his left hand. Production at the position has hard to come by since Reynolds’ injury, leaving Weiss hopeful that Parra’s three walks at Nationals Park mean he’s slowly beginning to find his way. “It’s usually a good sign when guys are working counts and having deeper at-bats, drawing walks,” Weiss said. “It usually tells you that the pitch recognition is getting better. So hopefully it’s a good sign for (Parra).” Arenado on a tear. The slump that plagued Arenado for much of the past couple of months certainly appears to be a thing of the past. After collecting four hits Sunday, Arenado is hitting .552 (16-for-29) with five home runs and 13 RBIs over his last seven games. The 32 runs ha has driven in since Aug. 1 are the most by a Rockies player during the month of August since Andres Galarraga drove in 33 in 1996. Also, Arenado’s 4-for-4 performance in the win over the Nationals raised his batting average to .291. His career high for a season is .287 (twice). Arenado could also challenge his career marks for home runs (42) and RBIs (130) that he established last season. He has 35 home runs and 111 RBIs with 32 games remaining. Chatwood to make rehab start. Right-hander Tyler Chatwood, on the 15-day disabled list with a midback strain, will make a rehab start with Double-A Hartford at Richmond on Monday. Chatwood said he will be on a restriction of 75 pitches or five innings. He went on the disabled list Aug. 16, two days after his back spasms flared up during a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Chatwood was previously on the DL in the middle of June after back issues forced him out of a start against the Miami Marlins. “This is the first time I haven’t really had back pain in a while, so I feel good,” Chatwood said. “I’ve just got to keep it that way.” [...]
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Dylan McCaffrey poised for senior year at Valor Christian
HIGHLANDS RANCH — Dylan McCaffrey, America’s No. 2-rated high-school senior pocket passer by ESPN300, realizes that he has to be patient. He can’t look too far ahead. Short-term plans should be the focus. The big picture is just too big. For the heralded Valor Christian quarterback bound for The Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., McCaffrey’s senior year is too potentially fulfilling to look beyond it. The gauntlet of opening opponents for Valor, a consecutive big-school state title and third consecutive championship game appearance as a starter trumps what might unfold at Michigan and beyond. “I can get too ahead in the future sometimes and start worrying about the end of the season and college,” McCaffrey, the third of four sons of former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey, said Tuesday after Valor’s first day for upperclassmen. “Really, I just want to focus on Saguaro, and then after that we got Mullen. I want to just focus one week at a time and focus on that team.” Related ArticlesAugust 26, 2016 Pomona rallies late to beat Mullen in Zero Week showdown August 24, 2016 Pomona star lineman Jake Moretti focuses in on lengthy knee rehab August 24, 2016 Pomona football’s expectations high, though star lineman Jake Moretti is out August 20, 2016 Marcus Lindsay continues family football tradition at Denver South August 16, 2016 Columbine all-state RB Mike Griebel makes the switch to QB Valor Christian opened Saturday with a 49-28 loss to visiting Saguaro of Scottsdale, Ariz., in the ESPN Kickoff Classic. The Eagles continue their treacherous five-game nonconference stretch next week at Mullen before hosting Greater Atlanta Christian in another ESPN game at Valor on Sept. 9. The schedule then features Pomona in a rematch of the 2015 state championship game at Valor on Sept. 23 before the Eagles visit Cherry Creek in a rematch of the 2014 title game on Sept. 29. Saguaro and Atlanta Christian are both ranked nationally. Mullen, Pomona and Cherry Creek are expected to be title contenders in Class 5A. “I’m not sure the state of Colorado has ever seen a nonconference, five-game schedule like we’re playing,” Valor coach Rod Sherman said. “We have our work cut out for us.” Make no mistake, the 6-foot-5 McCaffrey and the Eagles are ready. Down the middle, Valor has the state’s No. 1-rated QB and the top defensive lineman in nosetackle Noah Elliss, a 6-5, 325-pounder who has yet to make his college commitment. McCaffrey will work behind a relatively inexperienced offensive line and throw to a handful of new receivers but the QB is confident the offense will gel in his third year as the starter. In comparison to two years ago, “I feel so much more comfortable,” McCaffrey said. “I’d like to think I know the offense really well now and that’s a huge plus. I’m not really nervous for practices anymore like I might of been when I was younger. I’m a lot more relaxed, a lot more ready.” Physically, McCaffrey said, “I’ve grown a couple inches and I know I’ve gotten a lot thicker. I feel faster and stronger.” Andy Cross, The Denver PostValor Christian quarterback Dylan McCaffrey throws during a walk-thru practice at Valor on Aug. 24, 2016. McCaffrey intends to make his biggest gains in his leadership. “I definitely try to be a good leader,” he said. “Our entire program at Valor Christian does a really good job of teaching that from when you’re a freshman. The seniors can have a lot of say in the program and can take control of a lot of things. That helps prepare you to lead anywhere.” Sherman said McCaffrey, who has the green light to change plays at the line of scrimmage, is the prep version of what the Broncos had in Peyton Manning. “When you have someone at the helm offensively who understands what you’re trying to do, is super athletic and can always get you into the right play, right protection, it’s invaluable,” Sherman said. “Dylan can do all those things. We’ll give him a lot of freedom at the line of scrimmage. He did it last year and I expect him to do it even better this year.” McCaffrey committed to coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines on Feb. 15. He’s thrilled to begin his senior year with that decision out of the way. “Makes it a lot easier. I can really focus on our season and I don’t have to worry about impressing coaches who come out to games and stuff,” McCaffrey said. “I can just focus on our season and what we need to do and how I’m supposed to prep for this game, rather than what coaches I have to talk to.” Younger brother Luke McCaffrey will also have a starting role for Valor. The sophomore free safety [...]
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Dwyane Wade’s cousin fatally shot in Chicago
CHICAGO (AP) — NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin was an innocent bystander, police said, pushing her baby in a stroller near a Chicago school where she intended to register her children when she was fatally shot Friday. Nykea Aldridge’s famous relative, who grew up in Chicago’s south suburbs, tweeted to his nearly 6 million followers about her death, saying Friday it was an “act of senseless gun violence” and posting Saturday morning that Chicago needs “more help& more hands on deck.” Wade ended both days of tweets with the hashtag “EnoughIsEnough.” The 32-year-old mother of four recently relocated to an area on the city’s South Side, her family said. She was near the school, which is about a mile and a half southwest of the University of Chicago, when two males walked up and fired shots at a third man but hit Aldridge in the head and arm. She wasn’t the intended target, police said. Police said Saturday afternoon that two “people of interest” were being questioned by detectives but no one has been charged in the shooting. Authorities are investigating whether the encounter between the men was a robbery, possibly involving a driver from a ridesharing company, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Chicago has been plagued by gun violence for years, especially in a few South and West Side neighborhoods. This July alone, there were 65 homicides — the most that month since 2006. Wade, whose charitable organization, Wade’s World Foundation, does community outreach in the Chicago area, signed with the Chicago Bulls in July after 13 years with the Miami Heat. He and his mother, pastor Jolinda Wade, participated Thursday via satellite in a town hall meeting in Chicago on gun violence hosted by ESPN. “My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough,” he tweeted Friday. Wade also tweeted Saturday morning: “The city of Chicago is hurting. We need more help& more hands on deck. Not for me and my family but for the future of our world. The YOUTH!” adding in a following tweet, “These young kids are screaming for help!!! #EnoughIsEnough.” Outside the emergency room where Aldridge was pronounced dead, Jolinda Wade clutched her sister and spoke for the family as mourners stood in a circle holding hands and praying. She said she’d participated in the town hall meeting “never knowing that the next day we would be the ones that would actually be living and experiencing it.” “We’re still going to try to help and empower people like the one who senselessly shot my niece in the head,” Jolinda Wade said. “We’re going to try to help these people to transform their minds and give them a different direction.” It is not the first time Dwyane Wade’s family in Chicago has been affected by gun violence. His nephew, Darin Johnson, was shot twice in the leg in 2012 but recovered. Chicago had recorded 381 homicides by the end of July, up 30 percent from the same period of 2015. Its murder rate is higher than the more populous cities of New York and Los Angeles. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has spoken about the city’s violence, and tweeted about Aldridge’s death Saturday morning. He first posted, “Dwyane Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!,” and then tweeted, “My condolences to Dwyane Wade and his family, on the loss of Nykea Aldridge. They are in my thoughts and prayers.” Family members are caring for Aldridge’s baby, who wasn’t hurt. [...]
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Broncos ask veteran punter Britton Colquitt to take pay cut
Another year, another request to revise his contract. As first reported by Altitude Sports’ Vic Lombardi, Britton Colquitt, the Broncos’ veteran punter who was once the highest-paid player at his position, has been asked by the team to take a significant cut off his $3.25 million salary for 2016. They asked because they have the leverage. The Broncos drafted Riley Dixon in the seventh round this year, giving them a younger and cheaper alternative, to the tune of four years and $2.42 million, with approximately $530,000 due this season. John Leyba, The Denver PostDenver Broncos punter Britton Colquitt (4) punts the football during practice on day 7 of training camp August 4, 2016 at Dove Valley. The Broncos decided to have Dixon take all eight of their punts Saturday against the Rams, and handle all holding duties. He averaged 44.9 yards per punt, with one touchback and one inside the 20-yard line. Related ArticlesAugust 26, 2016 Jhabvala vs. Groke: Who is on the Broncos’ bubble with roster cuts looming? August 4, 2016 Broncos’ most heated camp competition is among punters. Seriously. “It really gets back to the same thing, when you have a veteran guy who’s been doing it for you, you know what they bring to the table and what they do,” coach Gary Kubiak said Saturday night. “When you have a young kid that’s competing with them, you never know how far they’ve come until you give them a chance. You can ask me about the quarterback, it’s the same thing with Riley. We wanted to watch him hold, we wanted to watch him punt. We have some tough decisions to make and we’re trying to help ourselves make those decisions with how they play.” Denver Broncos More Broncos News NFL scoreboard NFL standings Denver Broncos schedule 2016 Denver Broncos stats and scores Denver Broncos roster Broncos Mailbag Ask Mailbag questions The decision, however, may be mostly financial. Colquitt, the longest-tenured Bronco on the roster, signed a three-year, $11.7 million extension in 2013 that made him the highest-paid punter in the NFL with an average salary of $3.9 million. In August 2015, Colquitt accepted a $1.4 million reduction in salary for that year only. His salary for 2016, the final year on the deal, was to stay at $3.25 million. The Broncos must trim their roster from 90 to 75 players by Tuesday and reach the final 53-man group by Saturday. Should Colquitt not accept the latest request — it seems unlikely that he would — the Broncos could cut him and have only $750,000 in dead money. It would also make sense for them to try to shop him to get something in return. Minnesota special teams coordinator Mike Priefer held the same position in Denver during Colquitt’s first year with the team (2010) and previously coached Britton’s older brother, Dustin, in Kansas City. Carolina would also be an option as leading punter Mike Scifres was injured in the team’s presason game against New England on Friday. Kasey Redfern is Carolina’s only other option. [...]
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Dekoda Watson, Vontarrius Dora, Sadat Sulleyman show Broncos have more talented pass rushers than they can keep
A Broncos outside linebacker unleashes a speed rush around the edge blowing past the left tackle and sacking an unsuspecting quarterback. He immediately leaps up and unveils a sack dance. Denver fans saw that a lot last season. The immediate thought comes – was that Von Miller or Shane Ray? Neither. The numbers were close, but it’s a new addition to the Broncos pass rush family, Dekoda Watson, who took down Rams quarterback Jared Goff in the third quarter Saturday. Watson’s story is unique. He’s a journeyman linebacker on his fifth NFL team headed into his seventh season. The Broncos saw an opportunity to transition him from an inside linebacker to an outside linebacker to show off his speed. He’s capitalized. Related ArticlesAugust 28, 2016 Broncos ask veteran punter Britton Colquitt to take pay cut August 27, 2016 Trevor Siemian likely seals spot as Broncos’ starter with preseason win vs. Rams August 27, 2016 Jhabvala: Is Von Miller primed to the carry torch as the Broncos’ leader? “I’ve been waiting and wishing for an opportunity, like, ‘Why can’t I be just like Von,’” Watson said. “I remember being in Tampa and thinking, ‘why can’t you let me go? Von goes. He doesn’t have to think. He just goes. When can I have that opportunity?’ I never got there. Now that I’m here and they’re telling me that I can go, it’s lovely.” Watson also took down Rams quarterback Sean Mannion for an additional sack and a half in the fourth quarter for 2 ½ total sacks Saturday. He’s had at least a ½ sack in every game this preseason and four sacks total, tied for most in the NFL. Denver Broncos More Broncos News NFL scoreboard NFL standings Denver Broncos schedule 2016 Denver Broncos stats and scores Denver Broncos roster Broncos Mailbag Ask Mailbag questions Denver kept five outside linebackers last season and appear to be in position to do the same this season. Miller, Ray, DeMarcus Ware and Shaquil Barrett appear to be locks. Watson is in a tight competition with a host of college free agents including Vontarrius Dora and Sadat Sulleyman. Dora had two sacks in the preseason opener against Chicago and also landed a hard hit on Goff that ended his day early Saturday. He has to continue to make plays every game if he hopes to have a chance at making the team. John Leyba, The Denver PostDenver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) warms up during pregame versus the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.Steve Nehf, The Denver PostAlexys Graff of Colorado Springs had a birthday request of Denver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray prior to the preseason game with the Los Angeles Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday, August 27, 2016.Steve Nehf, The Denver PostDenver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray takes a selfie with Alexys Graff, 9, of Colorado Springs before the preseason game agains the Los Angeles Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday, August 27, 2016. John Leyba, The Denver PostThe Denver Broncos versus the Los Angeles Rams August 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.John Leyba, The Denver PostDenver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) does his dance after a sack in the first quarter on Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) August 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.John Leyba, The Denver PostDenver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) Denver Broncos middle linebacker Todd Davis (51) and Denver Broncos nose tackle Darius Kilgo (98) wrap up Los Angeles Rams running back Benny Cunningham (23) for a loss during the first quarter August 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.John Leyba, The Denver PostDenver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) runs the ball to the outside against the Los Angeles Rams August 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.John Leyba, The Denver PostLos Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) throws a pass against the Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) during the first quarter August 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.John Leyba, The Denver PostDenver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) turns up field after a catch as Los Angeles Rams Joran Kovacs (42) comes in for the tackle during the second quarter August 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.John Leyba, The Denver PostDenver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) looks downfield during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams August 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.John Leyba, The Denver PostLos Angeles Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (20) puts a hit on Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) after a catch during the second quarter August 27, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.John Leyba, The Denver PostDenver Broncos wide receiver [...]
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Broncos finally settled on Trevor Siemian. But can he survive behind Denver’s offensive line?
His legs were moving, but C.J. Anderson was running in place. The Broncos tailback bumped into trouble twice on Denver’s first drive Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams and twice fell backward. His offensive line was leaning in the wrong direction. “It’s a work in progress,” Broncos center Matt Paradis said. Now that the Broncos finally, seemingly, have settled on a starting quarterback in Trevor Siemian, the next looming question might be even more important: Can he survive the first month? The Broncos’ offensive line, a ragtag unit that got trampled on last season, is piecing together a new front five. The first team, for the most part, finally played together Saturday. The results were mixed. Related ArticlesAugust 27, 2016 Trevor Siemian likely seals spot as Broncos’ starter with preseason win vs. Rams August 27, 2016 Broncos QB watch: Trevor Siemian shows good and bad vs. Rams Denver’s offense gained just 27 yards in the first quarter against the Rams’ first-team defense. The Broncos twice went three-and-out, with 7 total yards over six plays from scrimmage in their first two drives. All those plays were runs. Four of the six went for losses or no gain. The Rams, a 7-9 team last season, pushed into Denver’s backfield on six tackles for lost yardage. “We started slow,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “We were trying to run the ball, and we didn’t run the ball well. The first two games we went right down the field the first two drives. What I do is I build on the positives. That’s what we’ll continue to do.” On the bright side for the Broncos, Siemian was touched only twice on hits from the Rams’ defense. He was never sacked. But the Broncos are walking a thin line up front, so to speak. “We have a lot of work to do,” Broncos left tackle Russell Okung said. “We definitely have the talent up front. Guys have amazing skill sets. There’s time to bring it together.” Okung, the Broncos’ most expensive offseason free-agent offensive signing at $5 million this year, finally saw sustained playing time with the first-team line. Okung and fellow free-agent addition Donald Stephenson at right tackle saw sparse field time in the first two preseason games. The Broncos were protecting them, just as a string of training camp injuries nicked their depth. But with presumptive starting right guard Ty Sambrailo still sidelined with an elbow injury, the Broncos flashed their likely starting front five against the Rams, with Michael Schofield in for Sambrailo at right guard, Paradis at center and Max Garcia at left guard. If nothing else, the Broncos gained some experience on the offensive line over a year ago. Evan Mathis left for the Arizona Cardinals, but Okung and Stephenson replaced him as veterans. Paradis, who played every offensive snap last season, returns as the anchor. Schofield, so maligned a year ago, has learned to play multiple positions. “We have the potential to be the best offensive line in this league, undisputed,” Okung said Saturday night. “There’s a tenacity and physicality to our group. We have guys who can do everything, run block as well as pass block. And we have a balanced offense — that really plays to our group.” The Broncos’ O-line, though, has a long way to go before even entering the conversation of best lines. They ranked near the bottom third in the NFL last season for sacks and quarterback hits. Siemian, who will throw his first NFL pass Sept. 8 in Denver’s opener against the Carolina Panthers, may have to play on his toes this season. “There’s time to bring it together,” Okung said. “As long as we gain a blade of grass, we’re doing a good job there. Games are long. You can’t always win it early.” [...]
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