August 29, 2013

NFL Notebook: Denver's seen enough of Flacco

The Associated Press

DENVER - Joe Flacco looms larger than life in Denver, and not just because he engineered the stunning upset of the Broncos in the playoffs that propelled the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl title.

Philip Rivers
click image to enlarge

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, second from left, throws a pass during a lighthearted workout on the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier on Wednesday. The Chargers play their final preseason game on Thursday against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Associated Press

The league's marketing campaign for next week's kickoff game features several large banners of Flacco fluttering from lamp posts on downtown streets -- and a giant one several stories high that hangs at Sports Authority Field alongside a banner of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

That has drawn an angry public reaction from Broncos fans who have taken to Twitter and to the streets to vent their frustration. One local sportscaster used a Sharpie to draw a mustache on a Flacco poster hanging along Denver's 16th Street Mall, and covered another with tape.

Some fans have organized an online petition asking the league, which purchased the advertising space from the Downtown Denver Partnership, to remove the Flacco banners.

The Ravens visit Denver Sept. 5 for the NFL's regular-season opener. They're the first champion to open on the road since the Super Bowl team began hosting the league's Thursday night kickoff celebration 10 years ago.

In a radio interview this week, Manning questioned the placement of the Flacco banner on the stadium, telling KOA 850 AM, the Broncos' radio affiliate in Denver, "It doesn't seem to make much sense that the Denver Broncos have to have an opposing player on their stadium."

BILLS: Preposterous as it might have once sounded, quarterback Matt Leinart finds himself suddenly having much in common with Jeff Tuel.

Upon arriving in Buffalo last weekend for what could be a last chance at resurrecting his career, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner offered Tuel -- an undrafted rookie out of Washington State -- advice on how to prepare for the possibility of being the Bills' opening-day starter.

"With football, it's crazy," Leinart said. "I told him, 'Hey, in this league, anything can happen. You always have to stay ready.'"

Leinart spoke from experience. It wasn't lost on the former Southern California star that he could have been referring to his own seven-year career that's gone from the promise of first-round-draft-pick potential, to spending nearly the entire offseason wondering if he still has an NFL future.

"Oh yeah, I've seen the worst in this league. And I've seen some pretty good highs," Leinart said. "So I've been through a lot."

If not for injuries sidelining the Bills' two top quarterbacks, rookie EJ Manuel (left knee) and veteran Kevin Kolb (concussion), Leinart might still have been waiting by the phone.

Instead, after signing with Buffalo on Sunday, Leinart will have what's essentially a one-time tryout to compete for a backup spot as the Bills (2-1) close the preseason against Detroit (2-1) Thursday. Tuel is expected to get limited playing time because the Bills are wary of having yet another quarterback hurt before opening against New England on Sept. 8.

That means Leinart and Thaddeus Lewis, who was acquired Sunday in a trade with Detroit, will get the majority of snaps after only two days of practice and a walkthrough.

BUCCANEERS: Tampa Bay signed wide receiver Jordan Norwood and waived defensive end Aaron Morgan.

Norwood had 36 receptions for 405 yards and one touchdown over the past two seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

RAIDERS: Terrelle Pryor will get his opportunity to earn the starting quarterback job when Oakland closes out the preseason against the Seattle Seahawks.

(Continued on page 2)

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