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Week 12 Thanksgiving 10-pack

Packers Lions Football

We’ve moved the Friday 10-pack to Thursday, since posting it on Thursday puts the Thanksgiving games in play for our 10 takes regarding the coming weekend of games.

I also needed to get it done early because I’ll be spending Thursday night preparing to host The Dan Patrick Show on Friday, a process which may look a lot like achieving and maintaining a turkey-induced stupor.  Primarily because that’s precisely what it will be.

1.  At least the NFL tried to give us good games on Thanksgiving.

Every year, complaints arise regarding the quality of the games played on the fourth Thursday in November.  This year, the NFL did something about it.

Though the Lions continue to have a hammerlock on the early game, the NFL picked the Patriots to be the visiting team.  (Because CBS will televise the game, the road team had to be from the AFC; this year, the choices were the Jets and the Patriots.  Either way, a quality opponent would have been pegged for the game.)

For the afternoon contest, the NFL earmarked a game that, as of April, looked to be one of the 10 best of the year — Saints at Cowboys.  Though the Cowboys’ struggles have made the game less intriguing, the NFL opted not to take advantage of its captive audience by offering up the weakest home game on the Dallas schedule.  (Then again, the Lions already were booked.)

The night game — Bengals at Jets — also looked as of April to be a potentially great game, given that the Bengals and Jets both made the playoffs in 2009.  Who knew that the Bengals would be after 10 games The 2-Ocho Show?

Short of moving Thanksgiving to September, the risk that games that looked great in April will be relevant in November applies to every NFL season.  All we can ask is that the NFL attempt to provide quality games.

Even if the Lions and Cowboys would lose their automatic home games, there’s no way of knowing that the games picked prior to the season will involve quality teams by the time the games are played.  What if the Vikings had “earned” a home game on Thanksgiving as a result of their 2009 performance?  Or the 49ers, based on the widespread belief that they’d be much improved in 2010?

In April, every season is a crapshoot.  At least the NFL has finally decided to shoot for something other than crap on Thanksgiving.

2.  Favre could thrive under Frazier.

The decision of Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier to keep brett Favre at quarterback makes sense.  Frazier will earn the job for 2011 only by winning games, and Farve at quarterback gives Frazier the best chance to do that.

The Vikings don’t need to know what Tarvaris Jackson can do; he had relevance only when a change of quarterbacks may have belped salvage a playoff berth.  And Frazier has no interest in developing Joe Webb to become the possible starter for the next regime.

So what of the notion that Favre will continue to produce more turnovers than a baker on an IV full of Red Bull?  Without former coach Brad Childress peering over Favre’s shoulder and constantly telling him what to do and what not to do, it’s entirely possible that Favre will perform better.

Even though reeling off six in a row likely won’t be enough to edge out one of the three-loss teams currently in position to take both of the wild-card spots, a strong finish to the season would partially rehab Favre’s fading legacy — and it would give Frazier a fighter’s chance at keeping the job.  Having Childress out of the picture will make if easier for Favre to just relax and play.

3.  Delhomme’s revenge.

Earlier this year, the Carolina Panthers discarded quarterback Jake Delhomme like an empty bottle of screw-top wine.  And for good reason.  Ever since the completion of the 2008 regular season, Delhomme had been playing like a guy whose Gatorade had been spiked with a full bottle of screw-top wine.

On Sunday, Delhomme will get his first start since Week One, due to Colt McCoy’s ankle sprain.  Coincidentally, that start will come against the Carolina Panthers.

So the game will provide Delhomme with a shot at redemption, a chance to prove the Panthers wrong.

Then again, given that Delhomme received a contract worth $20 million guaranteed before the 2009 season, it’s the Panthers that should be thinking about revenge.

Either way, the link gives a sliver of meaning to an otherwise meaningless game.

4.  It’s getting no easier for Mike Vick.

If the Eagles and quarterback Mike Vick struggle at Soldier Field on Sunday, it’ll be easy to blame the Sports Illustrated jinx, given that he graces the magazine’s cover this week.  But we’re not much for jinxes, unless the person to be jinxed allows himself to think that the jinx exists.

For Vick, the bigger concern should be opposing defenses studying ever bit of tape from his performances to date, building on game plans that slowed him down and trying to devise the one tactic that will shut him down and/or knock him out.

Though the Bears present the latest challenge, a pair of games against the Cowboys, a rematch with the Giants, and a date with the Vikings remain.  With each passing week, defenses will be trying even harder to be the team that solves the Vick riddle, preferably by putting him back on the injury report.

Look for the Bears, mired in a seven-quality-teams-but-only-five-spots chase for the postseason, to pull out all the stops.

5.   Monday night loser could still be alive.

Thanksgiving weekend wraps up with a Monday night game between the 49ers and Cardinals.  It presents a rare stinker on ESPN’s 2010 slate.  But it’s not as bad as it appears, if we ignore the fact that each team has a record of 3-7.

If the 5-5 Seahawks lose on Sunday against the Chiefs, the loser of Monday night’s game will remain only two games out of first place with five games to play.

Sure, the loser will be a woeful 3-8.  But if we can get past that won-loss record, the reality is that the loser can still get hot in December and steal the division and reset its record to 0-0 in the single-elimination tournament that will commence with the NFC West champion hosting a playoff game.

6.  In Atlanta, home-field advantage possibly hangs in the balance.

The game of the week undoubtedly occurs in the Georgia Dome, where the red-hot Packers take on the red-hot Falcons.

Under quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons have won 18 games and lost only one at home.  Under quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have scored a total of 76 points in consecutive games against the Cowboys and Vikings.

The Packers are more than a good offense; their defense has allowed only 10 points in three games, including the pitching of a shutout of the Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

With these two teams destined to play beyond January 2, this game will go a long way toward determining where the second game may occur.  And regardless of what happens this time around, the location of a January rematch will have a lot to do with its potential outcome.

7.  Keep an eye on Tom Brady’s foot.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has no qualms when it comes to talking about his injuries.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is more apt to talk about his hair.

And so it’s impossible to know the exact diagnosis of and prognosis for Brady’s current foot injury, which caused him to miss practice on Tuesday and Wednesday and to be listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, a rare departure from his usual designation as probable.

Sporting a defensive line that could give the Patriots flashbacks to Super Bowl XLII and a Detroit team that is otherwise irrelevant in NFL circles, it’ll be interesting to see whether these Lions use their rare national spotlight as an occasion to roar, by pouncing on Brady’s bum foot.

8.  Colts are suddenly in trouble.

If the season ended today, the Colts’ season would be over.  And while they’ll play four of their final six games at home, the Colts face the prospect of missing the playoffs — and of winning fewer than 10 games — for the first time since Jim Mora refused to use the “P” word.

The slide very well could continue on Sunday night, when the surging Chargers come to town.  The Chargers have played the Colts well in recent years, providing Indy with a consistent thorn in their side.

And while both of the quarterbacks have had to overcome injuries to their supporting cast on offense, the Chargers are getting healthy a lot faster than the Colts.  And the Chargers will have receiver Vincent Jackson back, for the first time all year.

It could spell trouble once again for the Colts.  At 6-5, the Colts would have to make like the Chargers and finish strong in order to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

9.  Bucs get their chance to impress.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have handled every team they’ve faced, with the exception of the three elite franchises they’ve played — the Steelers, Saints, and Falcons.

This weekend, the Bucs draw the Ravens.  On the road.

On paper, this is another game that Tampa should lose.  If the Bucs find a way to win, it’ll be time to take this team seriously.

Actually, it’s already time to take this team seriously.  With upcoming games against the Redskins, Lions, and Seahawks, 10 wins could be in the offing.  With the Ravens, Falcons, and Saints also on the docket, victory in any one of those games will help the Bucs do the unthinkable — nailing down coach of the year honors for Raheem Morris, and possibly executive of the year recognition for Mark Dominik.  With a roster devoid of pricey veterans, the Bucs are one of the few teams that is playing like a true team.

10.  Chargers are following form, and will likely continue to do so.

After the Chargers lost five of their first seven games, we said (one or twice, or more often) that the team eventually would try to follow a slow start with a fast finish — and fail.

But the Chargers have shown that they can do it again, reeling off three wins and moving to within a game of first place in the AFC West.  And they’ll likely continue their climb to the playoffs.

Where they’ll likely lose in one of the first two rounds.

While, as mentioned above, they match up well with the Colts, the Chargers eventually would face the Patriots, Jets, Ravens, or Steelers.  And with five losses already in the standings, the Chargers will have to take their pass-first offense to an open-air stadium in the Northeast.  In the middle of January.

Moving forward, and as our friend Scott Caplan of XX 1090 in San Diego pointed out during our weekly Wednesday morning radio visit, the Chargers should redouble their efforts to figure out why they can’t win more games in September and October.  If they could emerge into November and December with a better record, they’d be able to force some of the other elite teams to San Diego in January.

Hey, at least the Chargers wouldn’t have to face a long flight home after losing.

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Browns would prefer one of their backs to take control of job

Ben Tate AP

The Browns are deep enough at running back that they withstood an injury to their free agent starter, and still ran well with a pair of rookies.

But when Ben Tate returned, that meant chopping up the workload among three of them. That’s caused them to wonder about their ability to get into a rhythm, but offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had an easy solution to the problem.

“If they want to be out there more, they need to separate themselves and show that they’re obviously better than the other guy and we’ll keep them out there more,” Shanahan said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I don’t ever worry about running backs getting into a rhythm. They’re not quarterbacks. When you hand them the ball they better run hard and do as good as they can.”

Tate should know about not getting into a flow, having backed up Arian Foster for four years in Houston. So he empathizes with Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, who have had fewer opportunities lately.

“I had to do that for four years,” Tate said. “You just have to be ready at all times. You just have to watch and pay close attention to what’s going on and ask. When I was doing that, I would ask Arian [Foster] how the ‘backers are flowing. You have to be very in-tune with the game and understand what’s going on so when you’re out there you don’t miss a beat. I understand what they’re saying. Trust me. I’ve been there. If anybody knows, I know.

“Even now, sometimes you feel like your rhythm gets interrupted but you just have to deal with it. You have to do whatever’s best for the team.”

Tate has naturally gravitated into the lead role, but both West and Crowell have shown that they could do so as well. It’s a luxury for the Browns, as other teams who want to run have a hard time keeping backs on the field.

But it’s also going to take some ego managing on the part of coaches, to make sure they all stay engaged if they’re not the one getting fed that day.

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Reggie Bush remains out, Calvin Johnson remains in at Lions practice

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Getty Images

When the week started, Lions running back Reggie Bush was certain that he’d play against the Falcons on Sunday despite leaving last week’s game because of an ankle injury.

That prediction is now looking overly optimistic. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that Bush is not practicing in London on Friday, making it two straight days that Bush has not been able to join his teammates on the field after starting the week with a limited practice on Wednesday.

Bush’s absence in Week Six and inability to complete Week Seven mixed with the team’s bye week waiting after they finish Sunday’s game may push the Lions to use Joique Bell and Theo Riddick this week and revisit things with Bush down the road. In better news for the Lions, wide receiver Calvin Johnson practiced for the third straight day as the condition of his ankle appears to be trending in the right direction.

The official injury report will be released later on Friday and we’ll also find out the status of the team’s tight ends once it comes off the wire. Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron and Joseph Fauria all joined Bush on the sideline at practice and coach Jim Caldwell indicated Thursday that Pettigrew was the only one with a serious shot of playing this week.

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Peyton about a year away from Favre’s yardage record

favrepeyton Getty Images

After breaking Brett Favre’s record for career passing touchdowns last week, Peyton Manning is about a year away from breaking Favre’s record for career passing yards.

Through Thursday night’s win over the Chargers, Manning has 67,098 career passing yards. That puts him 4,740 behind Favre’s all-time NFL record of 71,838.

Manning has averaged 315 yards a game as a Bronco, so if he keeps up that pace, he’ll break Favre’s record in 16 more games. Expect more celebrations of Manning’s greatness at this time next year.

Manning is also 594 completions away from Favre’s career record, meaning Manning will likely break that record in 2016. At least one of Favre’s records is safe, however: Favre has the all-time record for career interceptions, with 336. Manning, who has 222 interceptions in his career, is the active leader. If Manning keeps throwing interceptions at his Denver pace of about 10 for every 16 games, he’d need to play about 12 more years to top Favre’s interception record. That one seems safe.

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Bengals not facing a blackout, at least this week anyway

Tennessee Titans v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

With three home games in a 12-day span, the Bengals have a significant concern about blackouts.

They’ve been able to push that off for Sunday, anyway.

Via the Cincinnati Enquirer, the team announced they reached the 85-percent threshold for this week’s game against the Ravens, clearing it to air on the local broadcast station.

The bigger test will come next week, when they play the hated (not really) Jaguars, which is followed by a Thursday night visit from the Browns.

They haven’t been blacked out this season, but it has taken until the Thursday before each of their games for that to become clear.

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Calvin Pryor hasn’t had expected impact on Jets defense

New York Jets v New England Patriots Getty Images

When the Jets drafted safety Calvin Pryor in the first round of May’s draft, the team talked about the impact he would have as a big hitter in the back end of a defense that hasn’t had good safety play during Rex Ryan’s time as head coach.

The Jets are now seven games into Pryor’s rookie season and they are waiting to see Pryor make that impact. Coach Rex Ryan said Thursday that Pryor missed an interception in the first game of the season and that the results have continued to be disappointing relative to the team’s expectations.

“Probably started with the first game when he dropped that pick-six. But, he hasn’t had the impact necessarily that I think all of us had expected, but quite honestly, our defense has been played a little differently than maybe we had anticipated,” Ryan said in comments distributed by the team. “So, I think we’ve had to make some of those adjustments along the way. It hasn’t gone according to plan so to speak.”

One of the problems seems to be the Jets’ lack of decent cornerback options, which leads them to play less man than Ryan likely anticipated. That leaves Pryor in a deeper role to provide help to those corners instead of being deployed closer to the line where his hitting can be more of a factor.

Ryan’s job security isn’t good, thanks in large part to those cornerbacks, so he may never gets a chance to use Pryor as intended in his defense.

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Lions aren’t looking to make moves at trade deadline

Martin Mayhew AP

Few have been as aggressive at the in-season trade deadline at the Lions, but it doesn’t seem that’s going to continue.

Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew told reporters he didn’t anticipate doing anything by Tuesday’s deadline. He’s done three such deals in

“I know we kind of talk to everybody around the league, get calls from different teams and things like that,” Mayhew said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “But I don’t anticipate us making any moves at the trade deadline.”

He’s presided over three deals since taking over in 2008, including sending wide receiver Roy Williams to Dallas.

But with some wondering about the future of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as he enters the final year of his contract, Mayhew said that wasn’t a consideration.

“I don’t have any plan to trade anybody, leave it at that,” he said.

Of course, plans can change. But unlike years past, the Lions seem fairly stable at the moment, with the league’s best defense, a quarterback who is taking care of the ball and a coach in Jim Caldwell who has brought his calm touch to an underachieving team.

At the moment, things are going well for the Lions, so messing with the formula might not be the best play.

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Peyton Manning does not approve of your scoreboard shenanigans

Peyton Manning AP

Philip Rivers laughed and played along with the joke.

Peyton Manning, however, seemed serious about the scoreboard shenanigans in Denver last night.

During the fourth quarter of the Broncos win, the stadium video board operator flashed shots of Rivers and Manning, causing the crowd to alternate between boos and hosannas. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, this went on for a bit before someone in the organization told them to knock it off.

“I really don’t know how to respond to that,” Rivers said. “Other than if you had told me when I was 10 years old they would show me in front of 75,000 and get booed, and Peyton Manning in the same clip and get cheered, I’d say that’s pretty awesome.”

Manning did not share those feelings.

“I’ve got to have a talk with our scoreboard operator,” Manning said. “He’s playing music and showing players dancing and getting the crowd fired up when we have the ball. I don’t think he should be doing that.

“And I don’t think he should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought that was kind of disrespectful. Our fans our great, our fans are loud, but our scoreboard operator, it wasn’t his best night.”

So get it straight, Mr. Scoreboard Operator. You’re going to have to tighten up your game. Or show more Buick and Papa John’s ads as punishment.

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Peyton Manning shouts “Romo!” before snap, hands off

Peyton Manning AP

As Denver tried to run out the clock in the final three minutes of Thursday night’s game vs. San Diego, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning barked signals near the line of scrimmage.

Then, he shouted a word — a surname, it sure seemed — that caught the attention.

“Romo!” Manning barked, as this NFL.com clip confirms.

A few seconds later, Manning handed off to tailback Juwan Thompson, who gained five yards up the middle, giving Denver its final first down in a 35-21 victory.

Was “Romo” a reference to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo? Or was it a nod to Giants pitcher Sergio Romo? Or could it be a shout out to United Kingdom clothier The Romo Group?

Anyways, in the final minutes, Manning was also heard barking “Elway! Elway!” before the snap. This would figure to be a reference to former Broncos quarterback / current G.M. John Elway. “Apple!” and old-standard “Omaha!” were also yelled by Manning.

These 21st century microphones sure are powerful.

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Jahleel Addae says he had a stringer, not a concussion

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

San Diego Chargers safety Jahleel Addae appeared to come up woozy after a play in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Denver Broncos.

Addae charged up to deliver a hit to Broncos running back Juwan Thompson and came away from the play noticeably affected.

It appeared as though Addae may have suffered a concussion on the play. However, Addae says he was evaluated on the sidelined and cleared to return to the game.

According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Addae said he suffered a stringer on the play instead.

Addae had four tackles for the Chargers in the 35-21 loss to Denver.

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Manning, Sanders lead Broncos to 35-21 victory over Chargers

Sanders Getty Images

Peyton Manning tossed three touchdown passes to Emmanuel Sanders, Juwan Thompson rushed for two scores and the Denver Broncos cruised to a 35-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night.

Ronnie Hillman also rushed for 109 yards for Denver as the Broncos offense looked in fine form against the Chargers.

Manning connected with Sanders for touchdowns of 2, 3, and 31 yards as the Broncos took a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter. Thompson’s first score of the night extended the score to 28-7 with 7:34 left to play in the third quarter.

Sanders finished with nine catches on the night for 120 yards and three touchdowns while Demaryius Thomas also eclipsed the 100-yard mark with eight grabs for 105 yards for Denver.

The Broncos completely shut down the rushing offense of the Chargers Thursday night and forced Philip Rivers to do everything for San Diego offensively. Branden Oliver carried 13 times for just 36 yards on the night with Donald Brown carrying once for 8 yards. Rivers was the Chargers leading rusher due to one 17-yard scramble until Oliver broke a 23-yard run on the game’s final play.

Rivers 4-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive gave the Chargers some life. However, the Broncos answered right back with another touchdown drive to extend the lead to 35-14.

Rivers and Gates hooked up again on a 10-yard touchdown to again cut the deficit to 14 points with 9:31 left to play. A missed 53-yard field goal by Brandon McManus gave the Chargers a change to further cut down Denver’s lead, but Rivers was intercepted by Rahim Moore to all but seal the win for Denver.

San Diego had some questionable officiating decisions go against them that significantly hurt their chances. A fumble by kick returner Andre Caldwell was overturned upon replay review despite video showing the ball being ripped out of Caldwell’s hands by San Diego before his elbow hit the ground. In addition, the Broncos scored a fourth quarter touchdown one play after an interception by Eric Weddle in the end zone was negated by a defensive holding penalty on Marcus Gilchrist.

But Denver was clearly the better team on Thursday night and appears to clearly be the best team in the AFC right now.

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Chargers cut Denver’s lead to 28-14

Antonio Gates AP

After three straight Denver touchdowns turned a 7-7 game into a 28-7 deficit for San Diego on Thursday night, the visiting Chargers finally counter-punched.

Antonio Gates‘ four-yard fourth-down TD pass from Philip Rivers cut the Broncos’ lead to 28-14 with 2:39 left in the third quarter in Denver. The touchdown capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by a leaping 26-yard reception by Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd. However, Floyd appeared to suffer an arm injury on the play and went inside for medical treatment.

Rivers has completed 24-of-34 passes against the Broncos with a pair of scores, but nothing has come easy for San Diego, which has largely dinked-and-dunked in the passing game.

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Malcom Floyd heads to locker room after impressive catch

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

San Diego Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd made a stellar reception leaping between two Denver Broncos defenders.

Floyd landed hard after hauling the pass and headed into the locker room shortly after with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.

Floyd caught two passes for 42 yards on the night for San Diego, the final one covering 26 yards before heading inside to get further evaluation.

The Chargers announced that Floyd was probable to return to the game, which is a big boost for San Diego as they attempt to rally from a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter.

UPDATE 11:00 p.m. ET: Floyd returned to the game for the Chargers on their ensuing offensive possession.

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Manning to Sanders for third TD of night extends Broncos lead

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Peyton Manning connected with Emmanuel Sanders on a 3-yard touchdown pass to extend the Denver Broncos lead to 21-7 over the San Diego Chargers in the third quarter.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It was the third touchdown of the night between Manning and Sanders. The two players hooked up for a 2-yard touchdown and a 31-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the Broncos a 14-7 lead at halftime.

Manning led Denver on a six-play, 51-yard scoring drive with the touchdown to Sanders extending the Broncos lead.

Sanders has six catches for 92 yards and three scores on the night for Denver. Manning is 18 of 25 for 221 yards.

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Danny Smith: Dri Archer going through “growing pains” as returner

Dri Archer AP

As a third-round pick and the fastest player in the 40-yard dash at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine,  rookie Dri Archer will get every chance to become a return ace for the Steelers.

However, it’s been a rough go on kickoffs thus far for the Kent State product.

In five regular season games, Archer has returned just 1-of-9 kickoffs beyond his own 20-yard-line, and he’s yet to even reach the 25 on any return. He also has one punt return for two yards.

Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith believes Archer is going through “growing pains” as he learns his craft, especially as it pertains to using other elements of his game than speed. But he also believes the 5-foot-8, 173-pound Archer is “going to be a good football player” once everything clicks.

“There are a lot of fast guys working at McDonald’s that can’t play this game. There just is,” Smith said Thursday, according to the club. “There are a lot of things that you have to do, and he’s learning those things, and it’s a maturation process.

“I love the guy. I’ll never give up on him because he works.”

Smith believes Archer “presses” with an eye on making a big play, something the long-time special teams coach believes is to be expected.

But Smith also expects Archer to break out at some point.

“As soon as that kid makes a big play we’ll all be jumping on the bandwagon,” Smith said. “We’ll all be celebrating, ‘Hey he’s what we thought he was.’ It will come. It really will. I’ve seen it too many times. (It’s) because of his work habits and because of his athleticism and because of his want to I think he’s going to be fine. And the sooner the better.”

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Broncos dodge bullet, with help from officials

McAulay Getty Images

After the Chargers knotted Thursday night’s game at seven, Broncos kick returner Andre Caldwell appeared to fumble the ensuing kickoff at the Denver 26.  The ruling on the field was indeed a fumble, with a recovery by Chargers tight end Ladarius Green.

All turnovers are subject to replay review.  After referee Terry McAulay went under the hood, with real-time assistance from V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, McAulay reverse the ruling on the field:  “After review, the runner’s elbow was down and in complete control over the football.”

But that’s not what the video showed.  The ball was being ripped out before the elbow hit.

The ruling on the field becomes even more important in this situation.  Because the officials determined a fumble had happened, McAulay needed to see indisputable visual evidence that it hadn’t.  If anything, the clear, indisputable visual evidence showed that it had.

In other words, the evidence was strong enough to overturn a ruling on the field that Caldwell hadn’t fumbled.  Instead, the evidence erroneously was determined to be indisputable that the ball wasn’t coming out.

UPDATE 10:07 p.m. ET:  NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino has defended the decision on Twitter.  “On the fumble that was reversed the forearm was down before ball came loose,” Blandino said. “Forearm down before elbow.”  The movement of the ball before the forearm is down would seem to prevent a finding of indisputable visual evidence that the ruling of a fumble was incorrect.  Former NFL referee Mike Carey has repeatedly said during the CBS broadcast that, in his view, the outcome of the replay review was incorrect.

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