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Tag:Eric Decker
Posted on: August 30, 2010 12:08 am
Edited on: August 30, 2010 12:15 am
 

Burning questions revisited

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

D. Dixon didn't do himself any favors Sunday night (US Presswire). Earlier this evening, we presented three burning questions the Steelers and the Broncos would face when they met at Invesco Field. After Denver finished off a 34-17 win, we have a few more answers (which are in bold).

Steelers

1. What the heck is going on with the starting QB spot? This has been one of my favorite questions all preseason, because much of what the Steelers coaching staff has done hasn’t made sense to me. Like tonight, for example. Byron Leftwich most likely will be the starter once the season begins, but he probably won’t play tonight until the second half when the second-team is going, after Ben Roethlisberger – who, of course, won’t be playing the season-opener – and Dennis Dixon, who should be the starter in place of Roethlisberger, takes their reps. A bonus question: why? I still don’t know the answer, but I’ll tell you this: Dixon lost any chance he had to be a starter by tossing two interceptions and showing his inexperience and poor decision-making.

2. How will C Maurkice Pouncey perform against a first-team defensive line? Earlier this week, Pouncey surpassed Justin Hartwig as the starting center, and tonight, he’ll test his wares against a very good nose tackle in Jamal Williams. He had some good moments against Williams and some bad moments where he allowed the Broncos to penetrate the backfield and get pressure on Dixon. But overall, this is a move that should work out well for Pittsburgh.

3. What’s up with RB Rashard Mendenhall? There have been rumors that Mendenhall suffered a broken arm in practice, but those talks have been debunked by reporters who actually are in the know. He is expected to start tonight. Of course, he played. No surprise there. He was workmanlike with 28 yards on five carries before calling it a night. But the breakout RB belonged to Steelers rookie Jonathan Dwyer, who recorded 89 yards and a score on just 13 carries while looking strong on one play and fast on the next.

Broncos

1. Will the run defense stop anybody? Last year, the Broncos ranked 26th in the NFL by allowing 128.7 rushing yards per game. So, after signing a plethora of defensive linemen in the offseason, where has that gotten the Broncos? Dead last in the preseason stats with 171 rushing yards per game. Tonight, Mendenhall will provide the next test for the Broncos defense to pass. Dwyer was awesome tonight, though it came mostly against second and third-stringers. Still, the Broncos allowed 175 rushing yards on the night. Obviously, that’s not what Denver’s coaches wanted.

2. Can RB Knowshon Moreno play tonight? It doesn’t sound like it. As the Denver Post reports, Moreno doesn’t look anywhere close to returning, as he’s taking his cuts rather gingerly. The Broncos need him to return to the starting lineup, but it most likely won’t be tonight’s starting lineup. No, he didn’t play. Instead, we saw the return of LenDale White, who actually looked pretty good. He had 34 yards and a score on 12 yards, and if he didn’t have to sit out a four-game suspension to open the season, he’d have a better chance of making the squad.

3. Will Tim Tebow return? Of course, we have to ask this question, no matter how dirty it makes us feel. Pregame reports are saying he was throwing during warmups, so it sounds like he might dress. And if he dresses, there’s a decent chance he plays. He played, and he threw a god-awful interception. But he also showed a nice touch and good awareness on his 3-yard TD pass to Eric Decker. Either way, he looked more competent than Brady Quinn.

A few more observations:

-There was plenty of talk about how punter Daniel Sepulveda would take Jeff Reed’s job as the kickoff specialist. Well, Sepulveda booted the game-opening kickoff out of bounds for a penalty. One word: ugh.

-James Farrior did his best Eli Manning impression with that cut on his head.

-There was a scary moment for Broncos fans when Kyle Orton tried to deliver a hit on Steelers LB James Harrison after he picked up and ran with an alleged fumble. We’ll say this: it didn’t end well for Orton, who briefly left the game following his tackle. Like I said on Twitter, you don’t want Orton anywhere near Harrison when the latter is returning a possible fumble.

-The Steelers accumulated four personal foul penalties in the first half. That’s pretty ridiculous. Not the sign of a real disciplined team.

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Posted on: July 23, 2010 9:22 am
Edited on: July 23, 2010 12:18 pm
 

5 Questions (or more) with Josh McDaniels, Part 1

T. Tebow (US Presswire) Josh McDaniels' first season and a half as head coach of the Denver Broncos has been one of the more spectacularly bloggable things in recent NFL history: whether it's trading his biggest name stars, or starting 6-0, or beating his old boss, or confidence, or drafting Tim Tebow in the first round ... the list goes on and on.

Fortunately, we were able to speak with McDaniels about all of these things in a recent interview, thanks to the kind folks at Gatorade, the NFL,  and a group of charitable foundations who are partnering in the "Beat the Heat" program, dedicated to raising hydration awareness during training camp.

Read Part Two of our interview with Josh McDaniels here .

CBS Sports : Wanna ask you first -- you're working with Gatorade and the NFL on the Beat the Heat program. How big a factor is hydration awareness in your training camp preparation?

Josh McDaniels : Well, it's huge for us, and you're right -- the NFL and the Broncos have partnered with Gatorade on the Beat the Heat program. We certainly understand the importance of hydration and refueling our athletes in the summer months and really, that's the entire purpose of the program, to really focus on how to prevent heat-related illnesses and fight them. It requires us to constantly remind our athletes to hydrate before, during and after all their activities that we put them through in training camp.

And we have Gatorade all over the building -- in the cafeteria, in our locker rooms, in our meeting rooms, they have it at the hotel they stay in during training camp and we encourage them to drink as much as possible. And for any athlete or parent that wants to learn more about what we're doing with Gatorade, they can go to NFL.com/trainingcamp and for every download [of the awareness packet] Gatorade will donate $1 to fight heat-related illnesses.

CBS : Well, it's a fantastic program -- raises awareness and reminds us that football's on the way ... Speaking of which, you shipped Brandon Marshall to South Beach in the offseason and then drafted Demaryius Thomas in the first round. Can he step up and replace Brandon as a No. 1 option for you?

JMcD : Well, we certainly aren't going to necessarily place that burden on one player as we go into this training camp in 2010. Brandon's certainly a special player and he'll do good things for the Dolphins. But we have a pretty diverse group of receivers: DeMaryius certainly is going to add speed, length and size to that group and we're really excited about his future here in Denver.

We've also got some football players that were productive for us that are coming back: [Jabar] Gaffney , [Brandon] Stokley , [Eddie] Royal ... Brandon Lloyd had a great spring, Kenny McKinley is a kid that's up and coming, Matt Willis and certainly Eric Decker who we drafted in the third round too. We've got four or five players now who are over six feet tall, we're probably bigger than any wide receiver corps that I've ever been a part of in the NFL, and we're excited about some of the things we're gonna try to do with those big players.

DeMaryius ... we're gonna coach him hard and give him the opportunity to learn our system and be productive in it, but we've got some players -- along with him, that he'll be competing with -- that we feel also can be productive and hopefully there's a bunch of them that'll make plays for us this year.

CBS: One more thing on DeMaryius -- he played in Paul Johnson's system at Georgia Tech ... is him adjusting, especially in terms of route-running, because it's more simplistic there, is him adjusting to your system a big concern?

JMcD: It's certainly something that's gonna take some time for him to adjust to some of the things that we'll ask him to do. But he's a big receiver, and I think anyone would be lying to you if they said big receivers had a route tree that consists of 25 routes. We're not gonna try to do things that don't make sense to do with our bigger receivers and we certainly have some smaller receivers that aren't going to do some of the things that he can do. So, we're gonna try and put him in a position where he can use his strengths to help us, and we're certainly not going to shy away to try and work with him on improving his route-running in different areas, but, you know, we feel like he can be a productive player for us and we'll constantly try and improve every area of his game.

CBS: Alright, last season was a rollercoaster in terms of the way you guys started ... it was the story of the NFL and then obviously a disappointing finish. How do you manage expectations coming into 2010?

JMcD: Well, we're just focused on ourselves. We know we've got a lot of practice ahead of us before we enter into the regular season. And we're gonna try and take our football team as far as we can in the month of August and the beginning part of September before we start at Jacksonville. We can't really worry about the past and we can't focus too far into the future -- we're gonna try and take it day-to-day and we feel like we've put a solid nucleus of players in the locker room that will lead us this season and into the future and we're really excited about our opportunity to improve in areas we struggled in last year and we feel like we made some key additions both through free agency and the draft, and we're excited to see how it all unfolds this year.

(Stay tuned for Part Two of our interview with Josh McDaniels later today)

-- Will Brinson

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com