Broncos safety T.J. Ward suspended by NFL for season opener against Ravens
By Johnny Hart
Make it not one, but two Denver Broncos starters who won’t be in action for the club’s season opener at home Sept. 13 against the Baltimore Ravens.
The NFL dropped a one-game suspension on Broncos safety T.J. Ward Thursday afternoon –– ahead of the team’s preseason finale at Sports Authority Field at Mile High against the Arizona Cardinals –– for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Ward’s ban, according to a statement from the team, stems from an incident in May 2014 at PT’s All Nude Strip Club in south Denver in which he allegedly threw a glass mug at a bartender.
He was cited for misdemeanor assault, but the charges were later dismissed.
In a statement released through the Broncos, Ward apologized for the transgression, saying he’s learned from the mistake and will “continue to be a pillar in the community.”
“I take full responsibility for the incident that occurred in May 2014 and am willing to accept the consequences of my actions by serving my one game suspension.” Ward said in the statement. “Although I was never arrested and all charges against me were ultimately dismissed, I have no one to blame but myself for being in the predicament that evening.”
Fellow defender Derek Wolfe will also be sidelined for the club’s opener, as he’ll be serving a four-game ban to start off the season for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs policy.
Both Wolfe and Ward will be eligible to play in Thursday’s fourth preseason game, but likely won’t. Ward can return to the team on Sept. 14 while Wolfe can return on Oct. 5.
With the two defenders out heading into the regular season, the team can now fill Ward and Wolfe’s spots on the final 53 roster with players who otherwise may not have made the squad out of training camp.
Denver Broncos trade tackle Chris Clark to Houston Texans for draft pick
By Johnny Hart
Contingent on passing a physical, tackle Chris Clark will join the Houston Texans after the Denver Broncos traded the veteran backup Monday morning for a 2016 draft pick.
In training camp, Clark had been in a backup role behind rookie left tackle Ty Sambrailo –– who is starting in place of the injured Ryan Clady –– after losing out a battle to start at right tackle to offseason acquisition Ryan Harris.
Clark had been the go-to guy at left tackle in case of injury to Clady the past few years, starting the first five games at the position in 2014 and three times later in the season, including the team’s AFC Divisional Round loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
In 2013, Clark started 17 games, including playoffs and the Super Bowl, when Clady went down with a Lisfranc injury in Week Two.
That year Clark graded out as the 14th best tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, giving up just eight sacks while protecting Peyton Manning’s blindside.
Trading Clark likely paves the way for 2014 third-round pick Michael Schofield to step into that swing tackle role as a back-up.
Denver Broncos cut roster by a dozen ahead of Tuesday’s 2 p.m. deadline
By Johnny Hart
Just more than 24 hours until all NFL rosters need to be whittled down to 75 spots, the Denver Broncos have moved or cut a dozen players.
Denver went from 90 players to 78 Monday morning, waiving nine including backup quarterback Zac Dysert and running back Jeremy Stewart.
Dysert had been competing for playing time at the third quarterback spot with rookie Trevor Siemian.
In only one preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Dysert mustered just 2-for-5 passing for 14 yards.
Siemian, on the other hand, has shined somewhat, going 12-for-16 in two games and tossing a game-winning touchdown pass in Houston a week ago.
Dysert, a seventh-round pick by the Broncos in 2013, spent his rookie season on the 53-man roster, but was waived during the training camp roster cut down last season. He spent 2014 on Denver’s practice quad.
After signing with the practice quad in early October last year, Stewart joined the Broncos active roster late in the season and played in six games.
Stewart fell victim to a deep group at running back, which saw the return of Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman from season-ending injuries last year and the emergence of C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson.
Other notable moves include the waiving of punter Spencer Lanning and tight end/fullback Joe Don Duncan.
Lanning, claimed off waivers on Aug. 14, was brought in to provide competition for veteran punter Britton Colquitt while Duncan, a camp darling, pushed for a job at fullback, leading the way for Thompson’s game-winning touchdown rush against San Francisco Saturday night.
Duncan’s departure means veteran James Casey will be the only fullback/tight end on the Broncos roster.
Seventh-year lineback Reggie Walker was the only player given an outright release from the team, and tight end Jeff Heuerman will be added to injured reserve at the 2 p.m. deadline Tuesday.
Denver Broncos to unveil new game day metal detectors, encourage early fan arrival
By Johnny Hart
|Photo courtesy of the Denver Broncos.|
Ahead of Saturday’s preseason tilt with the San Francisco 49ers, the Denver Broncos are encouraging fans to well ahead of the 7 p.m. MDT kickoff as the club rolls out 93 new walk-through metal detectors at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Scott Bliek, assistant general manager of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, said in a press release that fans should “allow plenty of time to enter the stadium” as the new security procedures are implemented.
However, Bliek said earlier this week he doesn’t anticipate any delays because of the high number of walk-through devices.
With the new magnetometers (metal detectors), security will no longer use hand wands and pat downs on Broncos fans entering the stadium, with the end goal of being more efficient and less intrusive.
Bliek said that the new metal detectors should increase the flow of fans into the building while simultaneously beefing up security.
“With this process, we let the machines do the work instead of letting the man-power do the work,” Bliek said. “We should be able to speed the process up as they come into the building on game day and enhance the experience that they have when they come to the building.”
The Broncos are implementing the system ahead of a league security mandate to install the devices at all NFL stadiums. Sports Authority Field will join the list of Denver venues with metal detectors that include Pepsi Center and Coors Field.
“We’ve chosen to start now and get ahead of the curve,” Bliek said. “We think it’s going to be a better experience for our fans. Why wait to go through two more seasons to make the jump?”
Fans will only be asked to remove large metal objects –– cell phones, cameras, etc. –– and won’t be required to remove smaller items like belts or keys. Those with special medical equipment will undergo separate screening.
Those who set off the detectors will be required to step through a second time. If the machine goes off again, security staff will give them a secondary screening.
But in the end, the measures, Bliek said, will not only increase overall security, but also appease fans who have been calling for faster lines and less hassle.
“This is really more about a safety factor, but at the same time, we’ve heard from the fans that they want us to be less intrusive. They want the lines to go quicker. They want to come in faster,” Bliek said.
“This should be able to give us that nice balance of being able to be more secure and increasing their experience as they come to the building so that we can get them in quicker and get them to their seat.”
Elway: Evan Mathis signing 'nothing to do' with Max Garcia's play
By Johnny Hart
Max Garcia did nothing wrong.
All he did was go from fourth round pick to camp darling to Denver Broncos starting left guard as a rookie.
Tuesday, Max Garcia lost his starting job. And it wasn’t his fault.
“Max has got a tremendous career ahead of him,” Broncos general manager John Elway said Thursday. “We’re really excited about Max. This had nothing to do with the way Max was playing. It was just more of we thought we needed a little bit more experience up there.”
That boost in experience comes from 11-year veteran, two-time Pro Bowler and former All-Pro guard Evan Mathis, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Broncos Tuesday afternoon.
“I think with Evan there, he’ll play great, but it will make us better on the offensive line with more experience. It’ll be great for those young guys to learn from him,” Elway said.
Until Tuesday, the club had deployed the baby blockers theory on the left side of its offensive line, including Garcia at guard, fellow rookie Ty Sambrailo at left tackle, and 2014 practice squad center Matt Paradis in the middle.
By no fault of his own, Garcia will now be relegated to second team duty as a swing guard/center.
Mathis, who finished 2014 as Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked left guard, will fill that veteran role while beefing up the offensive line.
“I talked to Max first thing yesterday and explained to him that it wasn’t about anything he’s done,” head coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday after practice. “It’s about us having a chance to get a great player and improve our football team.”
Garcia, to his credit, is taking the demotion in stride, telling our ESPN Denver Broncos Insider and 9News reporter Mike Klis he doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him.
: “I’m happy to be a part of this team. I’m content with the situation I’m just going to keep striving to get better.”
Fans will get to see Garcia in the starting role for at least another week, however.
Despite Saturday’s preseason Game Three against the San Francisco 49ers being a dress rehearsal for starters, Kubiak said Mathis would not play.
“I think that’d be too much to ask. That wouldn’t be very smart on my part,” Kubiak said. “I’m not going to do that. He might suit up, but he’s not going to play. I can tell you that.”