Drew Lock Jersey

After entering the offseason scrambling again at quarterback, John Elway emerged from draft weekend set for the present and maybe the future at a position that’s been his Frankenstein ever since Peyton Manning retired three years ago. Drew Lock will be Joe Flacco’s understudy — providing he can beat out Boise State QB Brett Rypien, who was among the undrafted players Denver signed after the draft concluded, for the backup job.


Lock, the second-round pick from Missouri will take a wait-and-watch approach like reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes did for a year behind Alex Smith in Kansas City, or even like Aaron Rodgers did for three seasons behind Brett Favre in Green Bay.
By taking Lock with the 42nd pick and immediately declaring him Flacco’s apprentice, the Broncos are dodging the kind of QB competition that blew up on them two straight summers with 2016 first-round bust Paxton Lynch.
Lock and head coach Vic Fangio also are avoiding the pressure cooker that awaits first-rounders Kyler Murray in Arizona and Dwayne Haskins in Washington, QBs expected to make immediate impacts.

“I think it will certainly take pressure off him and it will allow him to sit and learn,” Lock’s father, Andy, a restaurateur from Kansas City, told The Associated Press on Saturday. “And also I think from an organizational standpoint, maybe the Broncos don’t feel as much pressure to get him on the field early.

“It’s a great recipe, and I’m excited for that.”

So is his son, who realizes he has a lot to learn as a pro.

“I think I’m just going to take it day by day here,” Lock said, declining to declare any timetable for taking over as the starter. “I’m going to try to be the best teammate possible because I know if there’s one thing to help win over a team and win over a locker room, it’s come in and just be a good teammate.

“Then I think I’ll gain the respect and the trust of everybody in that locker room” like Mahomes did in K.C. and Rodgers did in Green Bay.

Lock was hoping to be a first-round selection but said he knows deep down his landing spot was much more important than his draft slot.

“Obviously, you’d like to get picked a little earlier, but I’m here,” Lock said. “We got Dalton (Risner) because of it, we got Noah (Fant) because of it, and if that’s the way it was supposed to be, then so be it. I’m a Bronco now and I couldn’t be more excited to be here.”

Elway said he saw the draft as another step in his makeover of the Broncos, which has included the hiring of Fangio, acquisition of Flacco and free agent signings such as Ja’wuan James and Kareem Jackson.
Elway said Fant and Risner should start right away and with “Drew coming in and competing for the backup spot, he gives us some depth there.”

“So, we feel much better where we’re sitting here now today than we did coming out of last season.”

WHO THEY GOT

In a draft loaded with defense, Elway focused first on improving a fetid offense. He used his first three picks on Iowa TE Fant , Kansas State RG Risner and Lock. His top defensive addition is Ohio State DT Dre’Mont Jones. Saturday’s picks were versatile Oregon LB Justin Hollins and Colorado WR Juwann Winfree in the sixth. He also acquired former Broncos special teams stud Dekoda Watson in a trade.

SURPRISE MOVES

Elway didn’t consider drafting a QB in the first round, but he traded with Cincinnati to move up to 42nd and select Lock 32 spots — a full round — after many projections had him going. Elway also pulled a stunner by taking Winfree, who started just seven games in college, missed the 2016 season with a torn ACL and sat out four games last year with a sprained ankle.

HOW THEY DID

Elway filled a major need by drafting Fant in the first round. Fant clocked a 4.5-second 40-yard time at the NFL scouting combine, faster than 17 wide receivers. In Hollins, they’re hoping they landed the ILB who could help the Broncos smother opposing tight ends like George Kittle who burned them for 210 yards and a TD in the first half of a game last season that essentially ended their slim playoff hopes.

WHAT’S NEXT

Addressing CB Chris Harris Jr.’s request for a hefty pay raise. The 30-year-old star is due $7.8 million in 2019, about half of what cornerbacks of his caliber are making. Harris is skipping the offseason program while Fangio installs his new defense and recently issued a pay-me-or-trade-me request after what he felt were disrespectful comments by Elway, who has a history of playing hardball with his stars.

By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer

(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Dalton Risner Jersey

From the ankles up, Dalton Risner looked like any other draft pick arriving for his first day.

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Sharp suit, pressed shirt, Broncos hat.

But the footwear he chose was one of a kind.

The boots of this young man who grew up on a Colorado farm are size 18, heavily creased, scuffed up and dusty. It’s possible that the Wiggins native would have worn them no matter where he was drafted, but nowhere else would they have felt so right.

“These are the boots that I’m wearing at the corral, the boots I’m wearing out to feed and that’s just kind of who I am,” Risner said. “… These are my work boots right here. I’m coming in to work today. These are the boots that I’m going to be wearing to this complex when I’m showing up to work.

“This is no vacation. This is work.”

They may not be dressy, and they may not be polished, but Risner thought they were the most appropriate fit for what was essentially his first day of work at his new job.

“I would like to come in and have an immediate impact,” he said, speaking of his mindset as he prepares to begin his NFL career at possibly a new position along the offensive line. “Wherever that position is, I’m going to come in and work my ass off.”

That approach comes not just from the territory of his role as a brawling lineman, but perhaps with the territory of his small hometown, located about an hour away from Denver. And with that, there was always a hope that he could stay in his home state and bring his skills and tenacity to his favorite NFL team.

“In the back of my mind, I said, ‘No matter what, I feel safe that the Broncos are at 41. No matter how the draft goes. If I go first round, that’s great, but the fact that the Broncos are at 41, I felt like they wouldn’t pass on me,’” Risner recalled. “And I’m just so thankful that they didn’t. That shows their appreciation for me and how much I appreciate them. If I could go back right now and choose to be a 20th draft pick or 21st draft pick to the Seahawks, whatever it was, I’d choose 41 to the Broncos every day. … I’m happy to be a part of this.”

So was his family, which rolled seven peopledeep to accompany him to UCHealth Training Center and wrote “#LeagueBound” on one of the windows of his truck, which is already parked in the players’ parking lot.

“I think it means a lot to them,” Risner said. “They were obviously bawling. There’s a lot of happy tears, tears of joy. Just to be an hour down the road, I think, is a God thing. That’s something bigger at play. I don’t think that’s just luck. I don’t just think that’s how things pan out. That was God’s plan, and I’m so excited to see how God’s going to work through me in Denver: the impact I can have on the football team, and the impact that I can have on the community.”

To be able to play for the Broncos means that Risner is already quite familiar with the team. He grew up watching the team, which included Assistant Offensive Line Coach Chris Kuper during his playing days.

The coming transition from aspiration to reality will bring a very real change of perspective for Risner. Kuper won’t just be a player he admired; he’ll be one of the men tasked with shaping his NFL future, and that may mean one of the players he idolized will be barking at him if he isn’t meeting expectations during practice. And it may not be just him. Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Munchak may do the same as the offensive line coach.

For this young lineman wearing the cowboy boots, though, that won’t be too much to handle. In fact, that’s exactly what looking forward to.

“Those are two coaches that going into this process, I wanted to get coached by,” Risner said. “I’m sure there are going to be the days where they’re on me, but that’s what you want.”

As a Colorado kid, Risner will know a privilege that only a couple of Broncos on the roster — Phillip Lindsay and Sam Jones — have experienced as a local playing for the team they grew up watching.

“I’m just honored to be here and have the opportunity to play next to guys like Phillip and Sam,” Risner said. “I was talking to Phillip on the phone last night. It was so cool just to be welcomed by all these players. It was really, really special. I’m just humbled. I’m just so excited to work alongside all these guys — not only them two, but all the football players on this team.

“I’m just ready to become a part of the team and start working for all these guys.”

Noah Fant Jersey

Tight end Noah Fant didn’t need to be in Denver long to understand the expectations awaiting him as the Broncos’ first-round pick.

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“I’m starting to get a real good idea, coming in here, football is very important here,” Fant said. “I hadn’t been to Denver very many times before this, but I can tell just from the city, you know, how touted the team is … right when I got off the plane here, people were waiting around the baggage claim for pictures and things like that. Obviously that’s pretty special.”

Fant, selected by the Broncos with the 20th pick of the draft Thursday night, has already carved out a little slice of franchise history. He is the first tight end selected by the team in the first round since Riley Odoms at No. 5 in 1972, which was 25 years before Fant was born.

Fant arrives to a team starved for impact at the position. The Broncos haven’t had a tight end finish a season with more than 31 catches since 2015 when Owen Daniels had 46 receptions and three touchdowns. A Broncos tight end hasn’t been selected to the Pro Bowl since Julius Thomas in 2014.
It certainly hasn’t been for a lack of trying. The Broncos had used three draft picks in the past four drafts combined on tight ends only to see all three — Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli — each miss at least one season with injuries. Butt has missed all but three games in his first two seasons combined.

Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway made it clear Fant, who finished his career at Iowa with 19 touchdown catches, 18 of those over the last two seasons, brings immediate impact.

“We feel good about the other tight ends we have with Heuerman, Butt and Fumagalli coming back and doing well,” Elway said. “We just felt that adding Noah to that group — obviously we’ve have some health issues in that position — we just thought that what he brings to us in that situation, he can play three downs for us. Ultimately, you know he really can run. To have a guy that big and that size and really stretch the field.”

At 6-foot-4⅛ and 249 pounds with 4.50 speed in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine — faster than 17 wide receivers who ran in Indianapolis — Fant fits the Broncos’ offense. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers before joining Vic Fangio’s staff, has said he wants impact from the position.

Niners tight end George Kittle, also out of Iowa, was selected to the Pro Bowl after finishing with 88 receptions, 1,377 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns last season. Those totals included seven receptions for 210 yards and a touchdown last Dec. 9.

Fant said he doesn’t want to be considered a receiving-only tight end and has spoken to Kittle in the pre-draft process.

“I would consider myself a tight end through and through,” Fant said. “I love blocking, I love catching touchdowns and I love doing whatever is asked of me.”

Brian Dawkins Jersey

The worlds of Wawa and Brian Dawkins are colliding and we’ve got a serious case of FOMO.

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On April 16, Wawa will open the doors on a brand new store located in Jacksonville, Florida with the help of Weapon X himself, who will have his very own Wawa hoagie named after him in his hometown.

Known as the “Dawk”, the hoagie is built on a wheat roll with grilled chicken, Parmesan cheese, spinach, tomato, pickles, sweet peppers and yellow mustard. It sounds like the kind of food that would make you want to get a sack, interception, forced fumble and catch a touchdown pass in the same game.

Unfortunately for Philadelphians, the hoagie is only available from April 16 through June 2 at Wawa locations in Jacksonville, however, we can’t be too mad since it’s for a great cause and you can literally build your own at a Wawa near you since you know what’s in it.

Wawa will donate a portion of the proceeds from hoagie sales, up to $20,000, to benefit JaxPAL’s MobilePAL program, which benefits children in the community.

In addition to making the very first of his hoagie creation, Dawkins will be at the store, located at 2500 Monument Road in Jacksonville, to greet fans, give away free coffee and hand out prizes, including signed photos for the first 100 customers and a signed football to one lucky winner.

Color us jealous, but with Dawkins and Nick Foles headed to Jacksonville, it seems like a nice second home for Eagles fans.

If you’re in the area, doors open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and we’ll give bonus points to anyone who crawls in like you’re coming out of the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field.

Peyton Manning Jersey

Peyton Manning is still making news for his passing. Unfortunately for ESPN, the decorated ex-quarterback is passing – again – on a chance to be an analyst on “Monday Night Football,” per a report Monday.

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Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy cited sources in reporting that, “barring a miracle,” Manning won’t be on the broadcast team with Joe Tessitore and Anthony “Booger” McFarland when “MNF” kicks off its 50th season with a Sept. 9 doubleheader of Houston Texans-New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders.
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Manning previously declined an offer from ESPN, as well as from other networks with NFL partnerships, in spring 2018. At that time, “MNF” had lost longtime analyst Jon Gruden, who returned to the NFL head coaching ranks, and now the program has lost Jason Witten, who is resuming his career as a tight end for the Cowboys.

In the wake of Witten’s abrupt departure, ESPN “took another swing” at Manning, according to McCarthy, despite “knowing he’d probably have little interest.” It was reported last month that ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro and head of content Connor Schell traveled to Denver to discuss the matter with the former Super Bowl winner for the Colts and Broncos.

Manning, however, is said to be reluctant to be put into a position of potentially having to criticize his brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and prefers to wait for an opportunity to run an NFL team’s front office if not lead an ownership group.

ESPN still will be able to showcase Manning on its airwaves, though, as the host and executive producer of “Peyton’s Places.” The show, which will examine NFL history as the league celebrates its 100th year, is set to air on ESPN+ in July, with compilations subsequently airing on ESPN and ABC.

“He won’t be doing ‘Monday Night,’ but ESPN will still be in the Peyton Manning business in a very big way,” a source told McCarthy, he says.

NFL Films is contributing to “Peyton’s Places,” and the former quarterback gushed last week (according to The Associated Press’ Barry Wilner) about how the company “has all this great archives of (Bears founder) George Halas talking about being in Ralph Hay’s Hupmobile showroom, (former Giants owner) Wellington Mara talking about how Vince Lombardi wanted him to take Polaroids and throw them down to the field when Vince was coaching with the Giants.”

“To maybe reenact it or kind of tell that story, it’s kind of why I signed up for it,” Manning said of the program, adding, “I hope people who love football will find it entertaining. I certainly have not been afraid to make fun of myself.”

Manning earned praise for an eight-episode series, “Detail,” that he hosted for ESPN+ last season, in which he analyzed various NFL quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and his brother Eli. “It’s just different in New York, it’s different,” he said of the pressure of being a starting quarterback in that city. “Phil Simms knows what it’s like, Joe Namath knows what it’s like . . . and Eli faces the music, he does his interviews after losses. It’s like watching film, it’s like lifting weights – it’s part of the job.”

As for the “MNF” job, McCarthy reported that ESPN may opt to just stick with McFarland, whose “likability, smarts and TV instincts” were said to have impressed network executives, along with Tessitore and sideline reporter Lisa Salters. Other candidates to replace Witten could include a pair of ESPN personalities, former head coach Rex Ryan and former NFL front-office executive Louis Riddick.

John Elway Jersey

Joe Flacco has already made clear his preference for the upcoming NFL Draft.

ohio state quarterback dwayne haskins throws vs. michigan

When the Broncos hit the clock with the 10th-overall pick, his vote would be for John Elway and Co. to select a “guy that can add value to the team with me as the understood quarterback.”

Flacco didn’t specify whether he prefers an offensive or defensive player with that selection, so long as he’s the man under center.

“I want to get this team to be the best it is with me at quarterback position,” Flacco said on April 16. “Obviously, that is not of most importance to draft a quarterback.”

Elway didn’t share Tuesday at his pre-draft press conference how he will spend the 10th-overall pick, but he doesn’t have an issue with the team’s starter making his opinion known.

“I like that,” Elway said. “I understand that. That’s what you want in your guy that’s your starting quarterback right now. You want him to have that mentality. I thought the comments were fine.”

Elway himself dealt with draft-day concerns when the team used its first-round pick on UCLA quarterback Tommy Maddox in 1992.

“I was standing at the baggage claim at [Stapleton International Airport], and we needed a wideout,” Elway remembered Tuesday. “I said, ‘Oh, [University of Tennessee wide receiver Carl] Pickens must’ve been gone.’ He didn’t go until the second round.”

Pickens earned offensive rookie of the year honors that season while Maddox started four games as Elway battled a shoulder injury.

Elway, though, ended up on the right side of the situation that he said angered him at the time.

“How’d that work out?” Elway rhetorically asked Tuesday.

Two Lombardi Trophies to end Elway’s career is evidence enough of that — and Flacco would presumably be thrilled to end his career in the same fashion.

“Joe’s 34 years old,” Elway said. “I think he’s had success in this league. So we made that [trade for Flacco] because we thought that he had a chance to come in here and fit in what we’re going to do offensively and continue his career. At 34 years old, that’s young at that position. Joe’s done it. He’s proven he’s done it. He’s won a Super Bowl. He knows what it takes. He’s been at that level.”

During the Broncos’ three-day minicamp last week, Flacco showed encouraging signs that he could replicate his previous success.

“Minicamp went well,” Elway said. “I thought he did a nice job in minicamp. He showed what he could do out there, what we thought he could do as far as the way he throws the ball. He can make all the throws, still has the strong arm. Joe was very good in [mini]camp.”

But neither Elway’s own experience battling a young quarterback nor Flacco’s showing in minicamp led Elway to rule out drafting a quarterback with the 10th-overall pick or in a later round. Of course, there weren’t any hints that he would draft a quarterback, either.

There was little to glean from Elway’s pre-draft media session, which he called “the most irrelevant press conference of the year.”

Asked for his thoughts on quarterback prospects Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones and Drew Lock, Elway chose to reply with a quip.

“They’re on the board,” Elway said.

Well, will the Broncos pick a quarterback at all?

“I don’t know yet.”

The answer likely depends upon how the draft unfolds and how Elway and the Broncos have stacked their draft board. The 2020 quarterback class may also play a role in their decision; Elway said Tuesday that the team is “aware of what’s out there.”

The only real clarity Elway offered is more procedural than it is news. The Broncos, he said, will bring in a fourth quarterback for training camp, which is the norm for most teams as they prepare for the season with a 90-man roster.

That player, though, could be a veteran, a younger free-agent or a draft pick.

“We’re going to look at it and see what’s available once we get through the draft and see how the draft goes,” Elway said.

But how the draft will go? Elway certainly isn’t saying.

Brandon McManus Jersey

Brandon McManus doesn’t want to see Emmanuel Sanders or Phillip Lindsay excessively celebrating after a touchdown this year.

That’s because, as part of the new rules passed by the NFL on Tuesday, a tweak could penalize the offensive team for an unsportsmanlike call following a score.

The fifth new rule from the Competition Committee — which John Elway serves on — says, “Allows teams to elect to enforce on the succeeding try or on the succeeding free kick an opponent’s personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown.”

What this means is, if Sanders, say, scores a touchdown and goes wild, getting called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, the extra point could feasibly be moved back 15 extra yards. McManus isn’t looking forward to that:


Phillip Lindsay reacted by laughing:


Lindsay is an electric player, but he’s yet to be called for any unsportsmanlike or personal fouls after scoring in his one-year career (he was tossed for throwing a punch). However, Sanders is the true old-school showman of a player who delights the crowd with bows, the wind-up and pitch of the football and even summersault front-flips into the end zone.

This new rule makes a lot of sense because, before, a personal foul or unsportsmanlike penalty meant moving the kickoff back 15 yards, which rarely affected the game. But, moving back the extra point — or two-point conversion — 15 extra yards, making it a 48-yard extra point try or a 17-yard two-point conversion certainly makes things more difficult for the team who just scored.

The new after touchdown rule is important, but maybe the most important of all the changes is the ability for teams to review offensive and defensive pass interference calls, including non-calls.

This was a response to the debacle in the Saints – Rams NFC Championship Game which sent the Rams to the Super Bowl and likely should have meant the Saints attending the NFL’s biggest game instead.

One other major rule change circles around blocks and whether or not players are looking. Blindside blocks — usually occurring on punts, and sometimes on pass interference calls — are no longer allowed.

Todd Davis Jersey

Hope springs eternal for Todd Davis.

On his third Broncos head coach since 2014, the starting off-ball linebacker is joining his teammates in embracing the culture change under first-time boss Vic Fangio.

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“I think it’s exciting,” he recently told Mike Klis of 9News. “Especially with the new head coach and new coaching staff and new defense to learn, I’m excited to get in there and learn it as quickly as possible.”
Davis is a relic of sorts — a remaining survivor from the Broncos’ 2015 championship squad. He has watched so much star talent depart, it would only be natural to express pessimism about his short-term security or the collective process. Doubly so when his partner-in-crime, Brandon Marshall, was pink-slipped this offseason.

But the 29-year-old former undrafted free agent, who led the team with 114 tackles last season, is familiar with the peaks and valleys of this business. He’s not kidding himself.

“I think it will be a little different,” Davis said. “Every year it changes but the guys we just lost were players I had played with a long time. So it’ll be different, but you have to build some new bonds and take in some new family members.”

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The Broncos’ family has indeed grown by four, with Joe Flacco, Kareem Jackson, Ja’Wuan James and Bryce Callahan moving in. There remains much to prove from the wayward franchise, and especially from Davis, a limited, two-down inside ‘backer.

But you can’t — you won’t — curtail the ambition.

“I think this season is going to be good,” he said. “Our new quarterback, I think Joe will come in and do a great job for us. A great leader, a veteran presence. I think we picked up some good cornerbacks, some people who know how to play. And then we picked up a big right tackle, so I think we made the right moves during the offseason.”
Entering the second of the three-year contract he signed last year, Davis is penciled in atop the depth chart, alongside Josey Jewell. For now, as it’s possible, if not probable, the Broncos add competition via the NFL draft.

Davis, however, can take solace knowing some of this newfound optimism coursing through Colorado points his way, too.

“I like those guys with what little I’ve seen of them,” Fangio said at last week’s league meetings. “I haven’t seen a lot. I actually saw more of [ILB] Josey [Jewell] as a college player. That’s more fresh in my mind because I watched him last year. I like those guys.”

Domata Peko Jersey

His son was a year old when Domata Peko’s 325-pound frame and 600-watt smile rolled in to Paul Brown Stadium for the first time. The kid is 14 now, and Peko is a Bronco. Time flies.

“I was there so long, (my son) was a ball boy for our team,” the veteran Denver defensive tackle said of Cincinnati, his stomping grounds for more than a decade, and the site of a win-or-else meeting Sunday between the 5-6 Bengals and 5-6 Broncos. “It’s really crazy. It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait to show Cincinnati what they lost, what they’re missing. Very excited to go out there and prove a point.”

The point? You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, baby. Despite 11 seasons and anchoring a defense that reached the playoffs six times, twice as many appearances as the 20 years before Peko arrived in Cincinnati, the Bengals let him walk. The Broncos signed the former Michigan State star to a two-year, $7.5-million deal in March 2017, and the big lug got on his horse and rode west.

“(Cincinnati) gave me a lowball offer, and the Broncos gave me a really good offer,” Peko recalled. “And I had to make the best decision for my family. But definitely, it’s going to be fun going back there and coming back home to Cincy and playing in front of the crowd there.”

No. 94 still keeps a home in Northern Kentucky, along with enough mental snapshots to fill up two Instagram accounts.

“They’ll probably boo me a little bit,” Peko said with a knowing grin. “I’m going to keep doing my same routine when I go out there. Run out of the tunnel with fire, ready to go. And show the city what they’re missing.”

The Queen City got a little taste last November 19, when the 34-year-old defender racked up six tackles, two for losses, against his old squad at Mile High in a 20-17 Broncos loss, then the club’s sixth straight defeat.

Sunday’s meeting sets up with something of a different backdrop, as the Broncos hit the banks of the Ohio River riding a two-game win streak over strong Chargers and Steelers squads. The hosts, meanwhile, will be trotting out a backup — albeit a crazy-fast one — at quarterback in Jeff Driskel, a cat Peko remembers well from the signal-caller’s days on the Bengals practice squad in 2016.

“I said in the (defensive line) meeting, I was like, ‘Man, I remember on the practice squad, that fool was running around. He looked like Michael Vick. He runs like a 4.5 (40-yard dash),’” the big Broncos defender said.
“He’s a pretty quick guy, so we’ve definitely got to keep him contained as part of our plan … he has the threat of running, you’ve got to treat him like a Russell Wilson, that type of quarterback. The key to the game (is tailback) Joe Mixon, man — we’ve got to get after Mixon. He’s a good running back.”
With Peko at its heart, the Broncos defense allowed only 75 team rushing yards to Pittsburgh last weekend and just 95 in Los Angeles the week before that.

“(Peko) just shows you how to be a pro, every day,” Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris said. “Because you don’t have any excuse when you’re tired and everything, and this 50-year-old man is over here running around and out-running you to the ball.”

The old dude has played on 369 out of a possible 749 defensive snaps this season (49.3 percent), primarily on first and second downs. Not bad for a 50-year-old man.

“That’s the thing about Domata, he’s such a competitor,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s just great for the football team and he goes out there and does his thing on Sundays.”

He’ll be remembered in southern Ohio for the things he did on the other days, too — from launching The Domata Peko Foundation to feeding the homeless who had sought shelter underneath local bridges.

“Not everyone really goes under there, man,” said Peko, who plans to wear a quarterback towel with the No. 15 emblazoned on it as a tribute to his old Cincinnati teammate, the late Chris Henry. “You have to have a big heart for the people and a big heart for the city. And I thank God that he placed that into my heart, just to show love to others, show respect to others. And it’s going to be cool to go back. It’s going to be weird, because some people are going to hate on me for being back there. But I know a lot of fans are going to be happy to see me, so I’m excited for that.”

Ronald Leary Jersey

Deadlines spur research.

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After Mike Klis of 9News dug into Ronald Leary’s contract, it was deduced that the Broncos’ starting left guard is highly likely to return in 2019. The structure of Leary’s deal — including his guarantees — essentially precludes the team from parting ways.

Klis explains: “Leary had $5.35M of his $8.15M salary in ’19 guaranteed against injury. He is injured, finishing on IR with torn Achilles. If he can’t pass physical by March 17, and he won’t, his $5.35M becomes fully guaranteed. So Leary is back.”
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It was reported last week that Denver will decide Leary’s fate by March 17, when $5.35 million of his $8.150 million base salary for 2019 becomes fully guaranteed. That it’s protected against injury, however, is a new wrinkle which means he’ll stick around to see his $100,000 workout bonus and $15,625 in per-game bonuses, totaling $250,000, to go along with his $9.218 million salary cap number.

The Broncos would have saved $7.468 million in cap space and absorbed $1.750 million in dead money by axing Leary, who has a 2020 team option that must be exercised no later than next March.

Leary, the ex-Dallas Cowboy, signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos in 2017. He was an immediate revelation at right guard, grading out among Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated blockers and bordering on Pro Bowl status, before a back injury sent him to IR after 11 games.
He returned healthy in 2018 and Denver smartly moved him back to his natural left guard spot. He again performed at a high level, ranking as PFF’s No. 38 OG among 77 qualifiers. Then he sustained a torn Achilles’ tendon, a devastating setback that ended his second Broncos campaign after just six games.

As a whole, the Broncos’ offensive line was decimated by the injury bug, with center Matt Paradis (fibula) and guard Max Garcia (ACL), who replaced Leary, lost for the season. Times were so desperate that two tackles (Billy Turner, Elijah Wilkinson) started at guard, and a guard (Connor McGovern) manned the pivot.

“It’s hard to replace guys like Matt, Ron Leary, guys up front like Max,” now-former starting quarterback Case Keenum remarked in December.
Paradis, Garcia, Turner and starting right tackle Jared Veldheer are slated to become free agents, making life difficult on new OL coach Mike Munchak. There’s little doubt Munchak prefers to retain a semblance of continuity, even though Denver should push to bring back Paradis and Veldheer, and he’ll have his work cut out keeping newly-arrived quarterback Joe Flacco — a human statue — off his back.

It stands to reason that Leary would’ve been retained regardless of money matters. The Broncos simply cannot afford a mass exodus after finally stumbling upon a successful combination.