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Broncos seek to shore up turnover problem

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Broncos seek to shore up turnover problem

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) It's the same drill in almost every football game: The ball hits the ground, players follow. Fingers get pried, eyes gouged, sometimes worse. Eventually, a referee dives into the pile trying to figure out who's at the bottom with his arms around the ball.

So far in 2012, that player is almost certainly not a member of the Denver Broncos.

Over their first five games, the Broncos have scrapped for 13 fumbles - seven by their own offense, six when the defense is on the field. Of those 13, the Broncos have recovered two.

``It's correctable,'' coach John Fox said of the Broncos' growing turnover problem. ``But you've got to get it corrected.''

Fox said they'll put more focus on that starting Thursday, when they return to practice to get ready for next Monday's game at San Diego.

Part of Denver's turnover problem is luck, part of it is not being at the right place at the right time. Once, they lost the ball on one of those desperate, multi-lateral plays with no time left. At least once, a Bronco - offensive lineman Orlando Franklin - actually had his arms around the football but replacement refs awarded it to the other team.

Whatever the reason, the Broncos rank 28th in the league in the plus-minus category for turnovers, which explains why a prolific offense - Peyton Manning has thrown for 1,507 yards - hasn't been even more productive during a 2-3 start.

Three of the offense's lost fumbles have come inside the opponent's 17-yard line. The Broncos' 10 turnovers have only resulted in 20 points for their opponents, but that doesn't count the points the Broncos have squandered by not scoring on these drives.

Two of those turnovers from point-blank range belong to receiver Demaryius Thomas in the last two games. Another came from running back Willis McGahee, whose fourth-quarter fumble at the New England 11 snuffed out Denver's comeback hopes.

``He just made a good play,'' McGahee said of the New England defender, Rob Ninkovich, who stripped the ball. ``I had it high and tight, but still, you've got to do better than that. I think that changed the game and I take full credit for that.''

Odds say the numbers have to get better for Denver.

The Broncos offense has fumbled seven times this season and lost all of them - 100 percent. The other 31 offenses have combined for 199 fumbles but recovered 100 of them - 50.2 percent.

``Sometimes, you're going to get unlucky,'' said tight end Jacob Tamme, who has become one of Manning's favorite targets, handling the ball 21 times without a fumble. ``Sometimes, guys make a great play and get their hand right there on it. So, hopefully, we'll continue to put an emphasis on it. As an offense, we work on it hard. We'll get a couple of those bounces, too.''

Also looking for bounces - the Broncos defense. It has two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

The most significant of those belongs to cornerback Tracy Porter, who sealed Denver's opening-day win against Pittsburgh with a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Porter was on the New Orleans Super Bowl title team in 2009 that finished the season creating 39 turnovers, second in the league. He returned Manning's interception 74 yards to seal the Saints' Super Bowl win over Indianapolis.

To him, the goal is simple: Get more people around the ball.

``It's a population thing,'' Porter said. ``You have more guys on the opposing team around the ball and population creates turnovers. It's something I've been taught, playing in New Orleans, and it helped us during our Super Bowl run. You get a lot of guys around the ball, the ball's going to come loose, the ball's going to get tipped. A lot of good things can happen.

``So starting in practice Thursday, we've got to emphasize getting people around the ball.''

The Broncos always practice that, of course. But in their postgame meetings Tuesday, after a game in which they lost three turnovers and got none, it was reemphasized on both sides of the ball.

``It's something I can promise you will get better, and it will get addressed,'' Fox said. ``In time, hopefully, we get it.''

Running back Lance Ball, who has touched the ball 20 times without dropping it, said ``ball security'' - as the coaches like to call it - is one of those important things that boils down to a very simple thought.

``You can talk technique,'' Ball said. ``But it's just holding on for your life. That's all there is to it.''

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Spurs trading Kawhi Leonard to Raptors in deal involving DeMar DeRozan, per report

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USA TODAY Sports

Spurs trading Kawhi Leonard to Raptors in deal involving DeMar DeRozan, per report

The NBA offseason has been nothing short of entertaining.

Overnight ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Toronto Raptors have agreed to a deal to acquire forward Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs in a trade package that includes guard DeMar DeRozan. 

Only DeRozan has been informed of the trade that will include more players on both sides. This trade has reportedly been in talks for several weeks, almost falling through multiple times. 

According to ESPN's Chris Haynes, Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto while DeRozan was told he would not be traded by members of Toronto's front office during summer league in Las Vegas. 

Leonard was open early into the offseaosn about wanting to be traded away from the Spurs and there were even talks of the Wizards being interested in him. 

DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, has three years $83 million left on his contract that includes an early-termination option for the 2021-21 season. 

A trade call with the league office is reportedly set for Wednesday to finalize the trade.

Stay with NBC Sports Washington for more info as this story develops. 

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10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

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USA TODAY Sports

10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

The Redskins had to improve the defensive line this offseason. The defense ranked dead last against the run in 2017, and without improvement up front defensively, the playoffs would again be out of reach in 2018. 

And for the second straight season, Washington tried. 

The team selected Daron Payne out of Alabama with their first-round pick and Tim Settle out of Virginia Tech in the fifth round. The front office also waived under-performing Terrell McClain in the offseason and moved on from veteran A.J. Francis.

Perhaps most important, the team should have 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen completely healthy this fall. He and Matt Ioannidis looked like a strong front in 2017 before a foot injury shut down Allen for the year in Week 5. Add in Anthony Lanier, who flashed big-time sack potential, and the Redskins have a strong, young nucleus.  

But how does it all work?

In the base 3-4 scheme, Payne might have the strength to play nose tackle. Settle definitely has the size for the nose. Both are rookies, however, and will need to learn a lot, and fast, to start Week 1. Veteran Stacy McGee, coming off groin surgery, might be able to hold off the rookies if he is fully healthy. When a nose is on the field, expect Allen and Ioannidis to line up at the defensive tackle spots. If he's not playing nose, Payne will rotate in at tackle as well. Another veteran, Ziggy Hood, will provide depth at tackle, if he makes the team. 

In the nickel package, which the team deploys more than half of their snaps, expect to see a healthy rotation of Allen, Payne, Ioannidis and Lanier. Keeping those players fresh should allow interior pocket pressure, and that could be great news for Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith

With Payne and Allen the headliners, and Ioannidis and Lanier valuable, and Settle capable at the nose, the Redskins have five D-line roster spots about locked down. 

Last year, the team kept six defensive linemen coming out of camp. If McGee is healthy, that spot will be his. If he's not, Hood likely hangs on. It's also possible the team keeps seven D-linemen, particularly as they monitor McGee's groin injury. 

The good news is last year, due to injuries and the talent on the roster, a number of players were forced into spots they didn't truly belong. Hood doesn't have the true size to play nose, but he was forced into the position. Lanier is best served as an interior pass rusher, but was forced to be a run stuffer. 

With more investments on the line, and better luck in the training room, the 2018 Redskins D-line should have more people playing where they belong. And that could go a long way. 

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