NFL Nation: Jordan Norwood

W2W4: Denver Broncos

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
The Denver Broncos (2-1) meet the Dallas Cowboys (0-3) Thursday night (8 ET) in AT&T Stadium in the preseason finale for both teams.

1. Somebody, anybody: There is a bit of self-preservation at work, but if it's not already too late, somebody on the Broncos' roster has to show the coaching staff he can catch a punt with some reliability and perhaps provide some impact in the return game along the way. Otherwise, the chances of the Broncos combing the list of transactions in the coming days to bring in a returner go up significantly. And if they bring somebody in, that means a Broncos player will have the unkindest cut of all -- one where you think you made the 53-man roster only to be released a day later. But since Jordan Norwood's season-ending knee injury, nobody has shown they can consistently make the plays fielding punts.

2. Tough decisions: It will bear watching which veterans, who don't project to be in the team's starting lineup, get the DNPs (did not play) in this one. Often those are players the team is considering releasing and do not want to suffer an injury that would require a settlement or a stint on injured reserve. The Broncos still have some roster spots in play, especially on the defensive line where things will be the tightest. If the Broncos keep just eight in the defensive front, and that is still the most likely scenario, Kevin Vickerson and Mitch Unrein could be playing for the last spot in the position group. It is a testament to the difference in depth on this roster and last year's given that both players were regulars in the rotations last season.

3. His night: The Broncos will not play any of their regulars in this one, so backup quarterback Brock Osweiler will get perhaps his most extensive work of the preseason. Granted, he hasn't played behind the starting offensive line or with the team's starting receivers, but he's completed just 55.6 percent of his passes in three preseason games -- 36 plays against the Seattle Seahawks, 24 plays each against the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans. He has flashed a power arm and shown progress in how he runs a challenging offense. But he still needs to be more settled in the pocket, feel pressure sooner and slide to make throws. He's still too quick to run if things break down even a little and learn a lesson Peyton Manning has always said was one of the most important as a young quarterback, "that a punt is not necessarily a bad play," so he doesn't force a ball into coverage when he doesn't have to.

Denver Broncos cut-down analysis

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
Most significant move: There may be no more difficult place on the roster for a young player to earn the trust of the coaching staff than on the offensive line. So much so that Orlando Franklin is the last Broncos' offensive linemen to start as a rookie, and he did it in 2011 -- John Fox's first season as the team's coach. But rookie Michael Schofield, a third-round pick in the May draft, and Paul Cornick, who spent the 2013 season on the team's practice squad, have shown enough to convince the Broncos to part ways with Winston Justice in the first round of cuts. Justice went through much of the early work in offseason workouts as Ryan Clady's backup at left tackle and got plenty of snaps in an audition as the starting right tackle as well. But the Broncos chose youth, and Justice, who is headed into his ninth season, was sent on his way.

Wild card: Often when the Broncos make this first round of roster cuts, there are actually players they want to bring back for the practice squad on the list. But to do that, the players must clear waivers, so sometimes the thinking is with rosters still at 75 around the league, teams may be less inclined to claim one of those players on waivers. Running back Brennan Clay, wide receiver Greg Wilson, wide receiver Greg Hardin and defensive tackle Will Pericak certainly fit that profile. Clay's play tapered off slightly as camp wore on, but during offseason work there were some with the Broncos who believed he had the best hands as a pass-catcher of anyone at the position. But he wasn't always assignment sound in recent days and wasn't going to get past fellow undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson on the depth chart.

Broncos' cuts: LB Jamar Chaney (moved to injured reserve), RB Brennan Clay, WR Greg Hardin, LB Jerrell Harris, T Winston Justice, defensive tackle Cody Larsen, S Charles Mitchell, WR Jordan Norwood, DT Will Pericak, quarterback Bryn Renner, DE Chase Vaughn (waived injured), RB Jerodis Williams and WR Greg Wilson. Norwood was a good bet to make the roster as a sixth receiver and punt returner until he tore his left ACL last week.

W2W4: Denver Broncos

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17
The Denver Broncos (1-0) meet the San Francisco 49ers (0-1) on Sunday afternoon (4 ET) at Levi’s Stadium.

Three things to watch:

1. The "other" Brandon Marshall: It will be the first glimpse of the Broncos without linebacker Danny Trevathan in the lineup. Trevathan, who was the team's leading tackler in 2013, is expected to miss up to eight weeks as he recovers from a fracture at the top of his tibia in his left leg. Marshall has worked in Trevathan's weakside spot this week. Trevathan is difficult to replace because of the variety of roles he fills in the defense, playing in the base as well as all of the specialty packages in the nickel (five defensive backs) and dime (six) as well. Marshall worked in the base, the nickel and the dime in practice this week, showing good speed to the ball. Against the 49ers he will get to show whether he can hold up against a power offense that also likes to push the ball to the tight ends in the passing game.

2. Return policy: The Broncos are three weeks of practice into the preseason and don't appear much closer to choosing a punt returner or kickoff returner. So consider those jobs still open for a worthy candidate or two to step forward. The fallback choices are not the ones the Broncos would prefer -- Wes Welker returns punts, Emmanuel Sanders kickoffs -- given the injury potential. Welker had two concussions last season alone and Sanders had been limited for much of camp with a thigh injury. Keep an eye on Omar Bolden in the kickoffs return role and Jordan Norwood on punt returns. Rookie wide receiver Cody Latimer has also taken some kickoffs in practice, and the potential kickoff returners have all had some ball security issues at times in practice.

3. Work fast: With the starters set to gobble up the most playing time entering the third quarter of next week's game -- Aug. 23 against the Houston Texans -- this one will be a good opportunity to see those who have pushed themselves up a crowded depth chart get some quality work. Wide receiver Norwood continues to show an understanding of the team's offense and has consistently been in the right place at the right time with catch after catch. Juwan Thompson, as the biggest back on the roster, gives the offense something the other backs can't in the run game. He has also shown good hands as a receiver and even a little more speed carrying the ball than the Broncos may have expected. Also, undrafted rookie linebacker Shaquil Barrett got some snaps with the starting defense this week and figures to get a long look as well.

Broncos Camp Report: Day 20

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Denver Broncos training camp:
  • When the Broncos starting offense opened team drills in Tuesday’s first practice, it was undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson at running back as the group went though some situational work. It was a product of two running backs currently being sidelined, as Montee Ball recovers from an appendectomy and C.J. Anderson from a concussion, but also a sign of Thompson’s progress since training camp opened. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said Tuesday he was familiar with the Duke running back’s work long before Thompson was signed by the Broncos as an undrafted rookie in May. Manning and the Broncos' pass catchers have spent parts of the last two offseasons working at Duke. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is also a trusted Manning confidante and his former offensive coordinator at Tennessee. Thompson has earned raves from the Broncos for his ability to adjust on the fly and get the play right when Manning or backup Brock Osweiler make changes before the snap. Ronnie Hillman is still working at Ball’s primary backup, but Thompson, who is also the biggest back on the roster, is making a serious case to be among the final 53.
  • Tight end Jacob Tamme was back at practice Tuesday. He was excused for Monday’s practice as well as the team’s second practice this past Saturday night, as his wife just gave birth to the couple’s second child last week. Tamme, who has consistently made impact plays thus far in camp, created space to get the ball time and time again Tuesday, including a long completion from Osweiler toward the end of the workout. He will get plenty of snaps in some of the team’s two-tight end looks when the Broncos pair him with Julius Thomas. But Tamme's play has been top tier, starting with his one-handed touchdown reception in the team's first stadium scrimmage.
  • One overriding theme in this training camp as compared to last year's is the ability of the team’s defense to make life more difficult for the offense in team drills. In one team period Tuesday, had defensive players been allowed to hit the quarterback, DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller would have each had sacks when it was starters against starters. Ware beat left tackle Ryan Clady to the corner one play, and Miller then beat right tackle Chris Clark later in the same drill.
  • The Broncos will have combined practices with the Houston Texans next week as both team prepare for an Aug. 23 preseason game in Sports Authority Field at Mile High. However, it won’t be full-go in practice with the regular season being two weeks away. Broncos head coach John Fox said the two teams will practice at “thud" tempo, which means defenders and offensive players will make impact on plays but will not tackle to the ground.
  • In addition to Ball and Anderson, defensive end Chase Vaughn (right knee) and defensive end Greg Latta (right hip) were again held out of practice. Ball and Anderson did take part in the team’s walk-through Tuesday evening. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who had been held out of three straight practices because of a thigh injury -- though he did play 20 snaps in the preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday night -- returned to practice. When the Broncos starters lined up in a two-tight end set with two wide receivers in the formation, it was most often Sanders and Demaryius Thomas at wideout.
  • Odds and ends: Wide receiver Jordan Norwood, who caught a touchdown pass from Osweiler in the preseason opener and continues to push for a roster spot, got some work with Manning and some other starters in a 7-on-7 period Tuesday ... An end-of-game, end-of-half practice period featured a couple penalties, with defensive tackle Marvin Austin jumping offside on a third-down play that gave the offense a first down. The offense later had a false start penalty in the same period.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos continue to grind through their preseason work, and as they get set to roll through their third week with Monday morning's practice, here’s are some things to consider:
  • Nate Irving has shown the coaches he intends to be the team’s middle linebacker, and it would take some unexpected events at this point for Irving not to be the guy in the middle of the base defense. Now, that is certainly a specialty package of sorts given that the Broncos line up in the nickel more than twice as often as they do in base, but Irving has done everything the team wants him to do. And more importantly, he has improved his game since the last time they tried him in the middle before eventually moving him out of the job. So far he has been consistent in his run fits, quick to the ball and reliable in finishing tackles.
  • The Broncos are a deep team, one that’s finished 13-3 in back-to-back seasons and retained a fairly youthful roster. With that said, there aren’t all that many roster spots in play. Still, two players who arrived a bit under the mainstream radar are making pushes to star. Rookie running back Juwan Thompson, if he maintains his current momentum, is a viable option to get snaps in the offense with the proficiency he’s shown in pass protection and the athleticism running the ball. Toss in his special-teams abilities and he should make it. The tougher question will be fifth-year wide receiver Jordan Norwood. Norwood, who has started four games in his previous four NFL seasons combined, has shown he fits the offense and could contribute as a receiver -- there are several rosters in the league he could make -- so if he can win the punt returner job, the Broncos will have to make room.
  • Rookie tackle Michael Schofield didn’t get a snap on offense in the preseason opener -- he did play six snaps on special teams -- but in looking at practice it’s clear the kid still deserves a chance at the right tackle spot. Sure, he’s going to make a mistake or two, but he looks to have the goods and will bear watching in next Sunday’s preseason game in San Francisco.
  • One of the best things the Broncos did in the preseason opener was to give backup quarterback Brock Osweiler a chance to rebound from an interception. He’s in his third season of one of the more odd apprenticeships the league has to offer. He knows the playbook, but he still needs to play. And if that means he gets more snaps than the usual No. 2 in a preseason, so be it. But the fact the Broncos let him play through three quarters last Thursday night is time well invested. Osweiler rebounded from his mistake to later make a touchdown throw -- a 34-yard rocket to Norwood down the hash -- that showed why he clearly has starter potential. Plenty of surviving as a quarterback in the league is bouncing back from a mistake to play with confidence. The Broncos need to know Osweiler can do that, and the only way to find out is to give him preseason snaps.
  • It will be a surprise if the Broncos don’t consistently create pressure on opposing passers. Their specialty packages -- nickel and dime -- will be intriguing once they unveil what they will do in the regular season. But having Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Quanterus Smith and Malik Jackson all in some kind of a front-seven mix gives defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio plenty of options.

Browns: One big question

May, 4, 2012
What are the Cleveland Browns doing at wide receiver?

The short answer: nothing. That is, unless you believe fourth-round pick Travis Benjamin is the next Steve Smith. The Browns ignored wide receivers in free agency and didn't address the position in the draft until the 100th pick (that was Benjamin).

What Cleveland is left with is perhaps the worst wide receiver group in the NFL with Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Jordan Norwood and Carlton Mitchell. There are simply no elite playmakers in this group. Some of the wide receivers' ineffectiveness last season can be blamed on Colt McCoy and his lack of arm strength. But the Browns' wide receivers didn't help him out, either. Cleveland had the most drops in the NFL last season (33) and ranked second-to-last in average yards after the catch (4.4), according to ESPN Stats & Information. Little, who led the team in receptions, also averaged one drop for every five passes thrown his way, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Browns wanted to address wide receiver this offseason, but they didn't want to overspend on free agent Pierre Garcon, and all of their coveted draft prospects (Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright) were gone by their second first-round pick. Team president Mike Holmgren insisted the Browns aren't panicking and stressed that the wide receivers will catch the ball better. If not, rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden will have a rough initiation into the NFL.

Notes from Browns camp

August, 5, 2011
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns continued their 2011 training camp with a full-padded practice on Friday.

Here are several observations:
  • This was the best practice Cleveland had this week. It was crisp with a lot of contact. The pace is gradually picking up with the Browns about a week into training camp. Head coach Pat Shurmur focused on a lot on instructing at the start but is now beginning to push the pace of practices.
  • Friday marked the first full-contact activity for rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor. He had a great practice and usually got the better of Browns guard Shawn Lauvao in team drills. Taylor is hard to move and also showed the ability to get up field. It's early, but Taylor looks the part.
  • The Browns are working several receivers in the slot this week, including Josh Cribbs, Jordan Norwood and rookie Greg Little. All three bring something different to the position. But the Browns are trying to get a feel for what type of slot receiver they want in their new West Coast offense.
  • Backup offensive tackle Brandon Braxton is showing flashes. He has good size and gets good leverage and position in pass protection. Braxton is pushing veteran Tony Pashos, the projected starter, through the first week of camp.
  • On the injury front, No. 1 corner Joe Haden had stiffness in his hamstring and sat out Friday. Rookie defensive lineman Jabari Fletcher also suffered a sprained knee and was carted off the field. Running back Montario Hardesty (knee) dressed but didn't participate in contact drills. Shurmur said the team believes Hardesty will be ready when needed following last year's ACL tear.

Philadelphia Eagles cutdown analysis

September, 4, 2010
Check here for a full list of the Philadelphia Eagles' roster moves.

Biggest surprise: At the last minute, the Eagles were able to move Stacy Andrews and his reduced (but still too large) salary to the Seahawks for a seventh-round pick in 2011. Andrews had been a huge disappointment for the Eagles and now they feel fortunate to receive anything in return for him. Of the cuts, safety Quintin Demps was probably the biggest surprise. He ended up in Andy Reid's doghouse last season, but he made strides this offseason in having a better attitude. But with rookie Nate Allen claiming the starting safety spot, Demps apparently became expendable. He was a decent return man, but not good enough to warrant a roster spot. Guard Max Jean-Gilles was released, but he'll be brought back Sunday. The Eagles missed the 6 p.m. ET trade deadline on Andrews, so that's why that happened with Jean-Gilles.

No-brainers: I lot of folks were pulling for Chad Hall as a return man, but he simply didn't have enough success in the preseason. Wide receiver Jordan Norwood catches everything, so he'll be a good practice squad candidate. Tight end Cornelius Ingram will probably make it through to the practice squad as well. You knew it was a bad sign for Macho Harris recently when he was bouncing between positions. Looked like a player at this time last year but he never took the next step.

What's next: General manager Howie Roseman will be on the hunt for safeties and cornerbacks. I like the trade for defensive end Antwan Barnes from the Ravens. He was an excellent fourth-round pick for the Ravens in '07 and he has a lot of explosion coming off the edge. He'll be a good fit in the Eagles' up-the-field pass-rush, according to some AFC scouts I spoke to Saturday. Unlike the Cowboys, I think the Eagles will continue to churn the bottom of this roster. We'll keep you posted throughout the rest of the holiday weekend. It's interesting that the Eagles kept six cornerbacks and the Cowboys three. The Eagles only kept two tight ends, so they'll be looking around for help at that position.