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Broncos insist things don't lighten up now


Broncos insist things don't lighten up now

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos made it through their treacherous front-loaded schedule undeterred if not unscathed.

Of Denver's 10 remaining games, just one is against a winning team, and that's the reeling Baltimore Ravens, who don't look so imposing with Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb on injured reserve.

Still, the Broncos (3-3) bristle at the notion that things lighten up for them now that Houston, Atlanta and New England are in their rearview mirror.

``Oh, it's still tough,'' safety David Bruton said. ``We've got the Saints this week. We've still got another playoff team next week with the Bengals. I mean, it doesn't seem to get any easier. We still play top competition each week.''

The Saints have won two straight after losing their first four games by a combined 20 points. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt returns from his suspension this week and will lead the Saints in Sean Payton's absence the rest of the season.

``Kind of like Coach (John) Fox said, you don't have to worry too much about their record when you look at the tape,'' tight end Jacob Tamme said. ``Very talented, really good football team.''

One Broncos player who's especially jazzed about the Saints game is cornerback Tracy Porter, but he insists it's because he missed last week's game with an illness and not because he played his first four seasons in New Orleans.

``It doesn't mean that much more, but it is going to be a weird feeling playing against my former team,'' said Porter, who returned to practice Monday.

Porter is still revered in New Orleans for his 74-yard interception return for a touchdown that sealed the Saints' Super Bowl win over the Indianapolis Colts three seasons ago.

After denying Peyton Manning his second title, Porter is now trying to help the star quarterback win another title and relishes the thought of a pick-six against his former Saints teammate, Drew Brees.

``It's kind of the same thing. I mean, both guys are first-ballot Hall of Famers. Both guys have a high-powered offense and we've just got to do our best to minimize the big plays and make plays when the ball's in the air,'' Porter said.

The Broncos had a half dozen takeaways in their last game, and half of those were by Chris Harris and Tony Carter in relief of Porter, who stayed behind in Denver and watched the Broncos score five unanswered second-half touchdowns in their 35-24 win against the Chargers.

``Oh man, that's exactly what those guys are supposed to do,'' Porter said. ``I mean, they come in, they step up, they take up my slack. I was jumping up off the couch when those guys intercepted the ball. I wanted to be a part of it, but those guys are my teammates so I'm not mad that they did it and I didn't.''

The Broncos returned from their bye Monday to discover the NFL was investigating whether the Chargers used a banned sticky substance during their game last week.

``I'm sure the league has their ways of dealing with it and they'll let us know the outcome,'' Fox said.

Chargers coach Norv Turner said Monday that nobody from the Chargers used Stickum, which was banned by the league in 1981, in the loss to the Broncos on Oct. 15 or in any other game. He said the league is looking into a towel that the team uses to dry the ball, the gloves worn by players and their arms.

Either way, ``we still beat them, so it doesn't matter,'' said Bruton, who said the Broncos players weren't aware of anything being amiss during the game.

``I didn't even hear about it until it was just brought to my attention like five minutes ago,'' Bruton said.

The Broncos were careful not to make any comments on the Chargers' sticky situation that could be used as bulletin board fodder for their rematch Nov. 18 in Denver.

``I'm not worried about what the Chargers do - especially this week,'' linebacker Keith Brooking said. ``We have a great opponent coming to town in the New Orleans Saints, so that's what we're focusing on.''


Notes: Porter was cleared only for non-contact work Monday and said he hopes to be back without restrictions Wednesday. ... LB D.J. Williams is hanging around the team during his 3-game suspension for an alcohol-related driving conviction, unlike during his 6-game ban for performance-enhancing substances to start the season, when he wasn't allowed at team headquarters. He seems to have been welcomed back. ``He's a great teammate,'' DE Elvis Dumervil said. ``Sometimes people make mistakes, but he's definitely a great guy to have in the locker room.''


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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson has his best practice yet

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson has his best practice yet

Kick off your Friday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. The Ravens are hopeful Earl Thomas will be a leader for their new defense which Thomas called "very complex." "This defense is very complex compared to what we were doing in Seattle,” Thomas said to Ravens media. “We were just playing Cover-3 all the time. Now, we’re making calls on the fly. That’s the biggest adjustment for me.”

Additionally, Thomas told media members after practice that he's made "fast friends" with quarterback Lamar Jackson. "He's a very funny guy, I don't know if you all know that," Thomas said.

2. Speaking of Lamar Jackson, he reportedly had his best day of practice so far this offseason according to Ravens media. Jackson's throws looked much better and he was quick in the pocket.

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens and Rotoworld for news points.


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RG3 likens KD's desire to play hurt to his own injury in 2012

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RG3 likens KD's desire to play hurt to his own injury in 2012

Like most athletes, Robert Griffin III was empathetic towards Kevin Durant when he first went down, taking to Twitter on Monday night to voice his concern. 

Today, the Ravens' veteran quarterback told ESPN's The Undefeated that he's all too familiar with Durant's decision to play and subsequent injury. RG3 likened it to his own brief playoff stint in 2013. Just four weeks removed from an injury to a knee that required reconstructive surgery in college, RG3 started – only to get hit late in the fourth and watch both his season and career come to a screeching halt. 

But that's not how RG3 views it. 

"I was looking at it like I'm out for here for my brothers. I'm out here for my team. And that was the only place I wasnted to be." 

And Griffin doesn't believe he's alone in that thought process, suggesting it was KD's mindset ahead of Game 5 as well.

"Most of us are built to fight. So whenever we get a situation where we’re a little injured or a little banged-up, our first reaction isn’t to get out of there and rest. Our first reaction is to figure out how we can keep going. That’s what makes a guy like Kevin Durant great." 

It remains to be seen whether KD's recovery will be smoother than RG3's. The former Heisman Trophy winner never came close to matching his breakout rookie season, eventually losing his starting job in Washington in 2014.

Durant will miss all of next season, meaning the former Montrose Christian star's next NBA appearance would be as a 32 year-old.