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Broncos

Fangio changes Broncos’ practice plan due to injuries

With 11 players unable to practice on Monday, Denver head coach Vic Fangio decided to change the team’s practice schedule as the Broncos ended up being on the field for less than two hours, didn’t wear pads and the periods they did have were run at less than full speed.

Denver was without linebackers Justin Strnad (out for season, wrist surgery), Todd Davis (calf) and Malik Carney (illness, not COVID-related), tight end Austin Fort (knee), nose tackle Mike Purcell (calf), safety Alijah Holder (soft tissue), cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia (quad) and De’Vante Bausby (soft tissue), and receivers KJ Hamler (hamstring), Juwann Winfree (groin) and Tim Patrick (soft tissue).

“I was not expecting (this many soft-tissue injuries). There were some faults in how we set up the acclimation period along with other stuff. It doesn’t do anybody any good to whine about it now. We just have to adjust and improvise and react to it and we did (Monday).”

Fangio said after the revised practice.

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Rockies win, tie best start in team history

Rockies

Germán Márquez allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings while striking out nine and Nolan Arenado homered in his second straight game as the Rockies beat the Giants 5-2 on Tuesday night at Coors Field.

With the win Colorado is now 8-2 on the season matching the team’s best start in franchise history. The Rockies also started 2011 8-2, but stumbled to a 73-89 finish.

Despite his final line, manager Bud Black actually didn’t think Márquez was as sharp as he’s been this year, which speaks to how good he has become.

“I don’t think he was as sharp as we’ve seen him. I don’t think the fastball was as crisp, but he made pitches with the fastball, the secondaries were solid. From start to finish, I thought he was in complete control.”

Manger Bud Black talking about starting pitcher Germán Márquez

My thoughts: In a normal season an 8-2 start wouldn’t mean a whole lot, as evidenced by the Rockies in 2011. But this year it means the Rockies are in prime position to make the postseason.

It’s easier said than done, but with only 50 games remaining if Colorado plays .500 ball for the rest of the year they’ll finish 33-27 and almost assuredly qualify for the expanded postseason.

The most encouraging aspect so far has been the outstanding starting pitching from Márquez, Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela.

  • The Rockies and Giants are back at it again tonight (6:40 p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) with Gray getting the start for Colorado and Logan Webb making the start for San Francisco.
  • Before Tuesday’s game Black told The Denver Post that pitcher Jeff Hoffman could get more opportunities out of the bullpen or even potentially starting if he continues to pitch well.
  • MLB.com released its Top 100 Prospects List and the Rockies had two players on it. Shortstop Brendan Rodgers (31) and outfielder Zac Veen (60).

Nuggets

The Nuggets take on the San Antonio Spurs this afternoon (2 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM) in the team’s third seeding game since the NBA’s return. They’ll be shorthanded once again though as Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) are both out and Jamal Murray (hamstring) is questionable.

With that in mind Denver will need big contributions from Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. once again if they’re going to keep the momentum going after Monday’s overtime win against the Thunder.

  • Today’s Nuggets-Spurs game is one of a handful that will be broadcast by NBABet Stream and will follow the game with the betting public in mind.
  • TheDNVR.com’s Harrison Wind wrote about how the chemistry between Jokic and Porter is getting better and better.

Avalanche

The Avs are back on the ice today against Dallas (4:30 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM) in the second of three round-robin games before their playoffs began. Colorado is 0-4 against the Stars this season, but the last time the teams met was Jan. 14.

“They’re obviously a good hockey team (and) I think everyone in our room is aware of the troubles we might have had with them in the past and I think everyone is very determined to try to end them (Wednesday). If you want to talk about the law of averages, I guess we’re due, right?”

Avs defenseman Ian Cole told The Denver Post

Currently the Avs and Vegas Golden Knights are tied in the race for the West’s top seed. If there is a tie after the three round-robin games, then regular-season winning percentage will serve as the tiebreaker. That order was St. Louis (.662), Colorado (.657), Vegas (.606) and Dallas (.594).

Broncos

Linebacker Von Miller spoke about a variety of topics on Tuesday, from how he gave “serious consideration” to opting out this year because of coronavirus concerns to how the death of Kobe Bryant and “The Last Dance” changed him.

Miller tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-April and said by early May he had lost 15 pounds.

“It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus. Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite. As soon as I got my second negative (test result) back, I started back training and started back running and it was tough no doubt about it. It was tough to just warm up, but I pushed through it and at about 2-3 weeks, I started to feel back to normal and hit it a little harder. I would say about two weeks after the virus, you still have a little wind issues, but that was for me – I have asthma and I felt like that was part of that.”

Von Miller on his battle and return from COVID-19 this offseason

As for dealing with Bryant’s death, Miller talked about reading Bryant’s book The Mamba Mentality: How I Play after and wanting to be able to lead his team in a similar fashion.

“Then ‘The Last Dance’ came out and I watched what Michael Jordan was doing back in his prime and I asked myself, ‘Hey, Michael Jordan was the best that ever played. Was I really making that commitment to the game? Was I really doing the same stuff he did? Like Kobe was one of the best to ever play. Was I doing the things that Kobe was doing? Was I demanding more out of my teammates? Was I demanding more out of myself? And I looked in the mirror and said I wasn’t. I just tried to change that and work as hard as I possibly could. I didn’t take any days off. I didn’t go on any vacations. I didn’t do anything but workout and grind and reinvest all of the time I would usually spend on like endorsements and all of this other stuff. I just reinvested that time back on myself.”

Von Miller talking about his offseason

My thoughts: There’s no question Miller has trained differently this offseason, the only question is how it will translate on the field. And that’s even assuming we have a football season.

It’s been great watching Miller learn and grow from the time the Broncos drafted him up until now, it would be great if he’s able to get back to the top of his game and eventually retire with the Broncos.

CSU Rams

Colorado State president Joyce McConnell is launching an “immediate and objective” investigation into the athletic department after allegations that student-athletes have been intimidated and threatened as leaders sought to disregard COVID-19 protocols.

CSU suspended football activities last week after a coronavirus outbreak. Then yesterday, multiple Rams players told ESPN.com that a position coach told players to hide possible symptoms of COVID-19 because “we can’t afford it” as a team.

According to the ESPN.com story: As the numbers continued to grow, some players felt compelled to minimize their symptoms, according to multiple people within the program. One source said a player who had a severe cough and eventually tested positive continued to work out. Another source said a player with symptoms, who subsequently tested positive, was “scared” to mention them to the coaching and medical staff.

TheColoradoan.com also published a story yesterday detailing the potential covering up of the COVID-19 health threat.

My thoughts: Multiple CSU players have come out to dispute the reports, but the fact that the ESPN.com story specifically says it was a position coach who was discouraging players makes it that much more believable to me.

Not only do I trust the reporting from ESPN and The Coloradoan, but if it was one or two coaches it would make sense that not all the players would have experienced the same thing.

Either way it’s a terrible situation and one that these athletes should not have to be dealing with. On Wednesday morning UConn announced it was canceling its football season due to COVID-19, the first FBS team to do so. At this point I don’t understand why colleges refuse to push the season back until spring at the very least, instead of continuing to put people’s lives at risk.

High school sports

CHSAA announced on Tuesday that the high school football season in Colorado would be pushed back until spring due to coronavirus.

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Porter, Murray shine in Nuggets’ final scrimmage

Nuggets

Michael Porter Jr. returned to action during Denver’s final scrimmage on Monday night and in doing so quickly made Nuggets fans remember what they were so excited about earlier this season. Porter scored 19 points (8-of-13 shooting) and grabbed seven rebounds in just 20 minutes of action.

Another positive development for Denver was point guard Jamal Murray’s return as well. Murray added 23 points (8-of-12) in 25 minutes. The fact that the Nuggets lost 114-110 to Orlando was inconsequential.

Porter, who was dealing with a sprained ankle before the shutdown, said he’s back to full health, both physically and mentally.

“I feel like I’m in a great headspace. I know we got a lot of good players, but my goal, right now, I’m not coming in here just trying to blend in with the team. I’m trying to do my part to help this team win a championship. I think I can be a big part of that.”

Michael Porter Jr.

The next time the Nuggets take the court the game will count again as they face Miami on Saturday (11 a.m., ESPN).

Rockies

The Denver Post‘s Patrick Saunders wrote today about how Colorado’s bullpen has been solid after the season’s first three games. He also added that it’s way too early to read too much into things though.

My thoughts: I couldn’t agree with Patrick more. He does an excellent job of pointing out that although Rockies relievers allowed just one run in 9 2/3 innings, they were in enough trouble that it’s hard to imagine them getting out of it had the games been at Coors Field.

He also pointed out that one of Colorado’s best relievers, Scott Oberg, will miss Friday’s home opener with a sore back and when he’ll return is yet unknown.

  • Next up for Colorado is a quick two-game series in Oakland against the A’s starting tonight (7:40 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 850 AM). Antonio Senzatela will start for the Rockies tonight and Germán Márquez is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday (1:40 p.m.).
  • Colorado added first base prospect Michael Toglia to its 2020 player pool, while left-handed reliever Tim Collins withdrew from Colorado’s satellite camp and will not pitch this season.
    Toglia was the Rockies first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
  • Former Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw blamed his struggles in Colorado on Coors Field.

“I got there and the sliders didn’t work. It didn’t matter what we did. We tried to tinker with it. We tried to change it. We tried to do different stuff and it just basically fell by the wayside.”

Bryan Shaw to The Seattle Times

Avalanche

Things are ramping up quickly as the NHL gets ready for its restart. The Avalanche arrived in Edmonton, host city for the Western Conference playoffs, on Sunday and had their first practice on Monday.

Colorado head coach Jared Bednar is impressed with the setup so far.

“Every team has their own players lounge/lunch/dinner room. We’ve been in there a couple times and there are some commons areas as well, to be able to go hang out and mingle. It is a really nice setup. And being right across the rink from where you’re (going to be) playing is great.”

Jared Bednar via Zoom

Colorado has an exhibition game against Minnesota on Wednesday (12:30 p.m., Altitude) before opening up round-robin play on Sunday vs. St. Louis (4:30 p.m.).

Broncos

The Broncos cornerbacks and safeties were front and center as both The Denver Post and TheDNVR.com wrote about them. And with good reason, there’s a lot of questions when it comes to the Broncos secondary.

My thoughts: Overall I like what Denver did this offseason. It’ll be weird seeing Chris Harris in a Chargers jersey this season, but it was the right move to make. He’d lost a step or two and just wasn’t the same player he was during most of his time in Denver.

The trade for A.J. Bouye was a nice addition and he likely will be a solid upgrade over Harris. The big question is, what will the Broncos get from Bryce Callahan this season? I’m cautiously optimistic that his foot injury will be behind him and he’ll be able to fill a big hole at cornerback.

Unfortunately it’s also highly possible he won’t be able to bounce back and we’ll look back on that signing as one of the worst in Broncos’ history.

  • Denver cut eight players on Monday and still must release two more today. Waived were: QB Riley Neal, RB Khalfani Muhammad, WR Kelvin McKnight, LB Tre’ Crawford, OL Nico Falah and DBs Kahani Smith and Shakial Taylor. DE Joel Heath was released.
  • TheAthletic.com’s Nick Kosmider took a stab at predicting the Broncos opening 53-man roster.
  • Meanwhile, The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla already is wondering if we’re even going to have an NFL season after the problems baseball is having after its opening weekend.
  • TheAthletic.com released its Quarterback Tiers Rankings. Quarterbacks are ranked by 50 coaches and evaluators and end up in one of five different tiers.
    Where did Denver’s Drew Lock end up? That would be the fourth tier, in a tie for 30th with Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew. There were only 35 QBs who were on the list. However, one of the 50 voters did rank Lock in the second tier.

Sports betting

Last week Wildwood Casino became the first casino to open a retail sportsbook in Cripple Creek.