Dumervil tears pec muscle as Broncos off to a horrific start in 2010

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 16:  Defensive end Elvis Dumervil #92 of the Denver Broncos leaves the line of scrimmage as the Denver Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders 23-20 in overtime during week two NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 16, 2007 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

If this past week offers any indication of how the Broncos will fair in 2010, then Josh McDaniels and company are in for a long season.

Just days after the Broncos lost starting running back Knowshown Moreno for 2-3 weeks because of a torn right hamstring, Elvis Dumervil suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will be out for up to five months.

Fans have the right to remain hopeful that Dumervil will return at some point this season, but the math suggests otherwise. If he’s out for five months, that makes his return December and at that point, Denver might as well keep him out the rest of the year.

The real kick to the stones for the Broncos is that they just signed Dumervil to a six-year, $61.5 million contract three weeks ago. And this was after they deliberated about whether or not to just let the linebacker play on the one-year tender they signed him to in June.

But you can’t blame the Broncos for shelling out big bucks to their best pass-rusher. Dumervil led the league in sacks last year and had become a vital component to the team’s defense. Injuries obviously can’t be predicted and there was no way of knowing that Dumervil was going to rip a chest muscle less than a month after the Broncos broke out their checkbook. Despite their incredibly bad timing and luck, it was still the right decision for Denver at the time.

So what now? The Broncos have a couple of options available on the free agent market, including the recently released Aaron Schobel and former Patriot Adiliuas Thomas. But who knows whether or not Schobel would want to play in Denver’s 3-4 and given the lack of interest in Thomas this offseason (and his poor production in ’09 for Bill Belichick), maybe the Broncos will pass on signing a veteran. Of course, the team also has some internal options, as Robert Ayers could switch sides or Jarvis Moss could actually cash in on some of his first round potential. (That later idea is far-fetched, I know.)

Either way, the Broncos couldn’t be off to a worse start in 2010. Moreno should be back in a couple of weeks, but no team wants to see their best pass-rusher go down a month before the season. That’s not to say that other players can’t and/or won’t step up, but this isn’t the most talented team in the league as it is.

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Is the LOLB position still a concern for the Packers?

While it hasn’t even been a month since the Patriots released him, it’s becoming clearer by the day that Packers GM Ted Thompson isn’t interested in signing free agent Adalius Thomas. With Green Bay’s apparent need at outside linebacker, one would think that Thompson would have reached out to Thomas (who has lost a step over the years, but is still an effective pass rusher) by now.

But maybe Thompson is right when he says that the left outside linebacker position isn’t a dire need like many people believe it is. Maybe Brad Jones is the answer to replace Aaron Kampman (who signed with the Jaguars earlier this offseason) on a full-time basis.

When Kampman (who wasn’t an ideal fit at OLB in a 3-4 anyway) went down with an injury after Week 11 last year, it was Jones (a 2009 seventh round pick from Colorado) and not former starter Brady Poppinga who was placed into the starting lineup. With a playoff berth on the line, the Packers went with an unproven seventh round pick in Jones over a player with starting experience in Poppinga.

The move was either a testament to Jones’ abilities or a total slap in the face of Poppinga. Considering Thomas hasn’t received a call from Thompson, the former is probably more appropriate. The Packers obviously feel as though Jones is ready to become a full-time starter after he registered 27 tackles and four sacks in limited action last season. And considering Jones played in a 3-4 at Colorado, it’s apparent that his learning curve wasn’t that big when he went from college to the pros. He earned the starting position last season and barring a complete meltdown in training camp, it’s clear that he’ll have the same role in 2010.

If Jones blossoms into a reliable starter, then Thompson should be hailed for not only finding a late round gem, but also resisting the urge to sign Thomas. If Jones fails, then the Packers could be left with a gaping hole at the LOLB position and Thompson will be scrutinized for not addressing the need when he had a chance in the offseason.

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Ryan to take a pass on Thomas?

As the Baltimore Sun points out, based on his recent comments, it appears as though Rex Ryan and the Jets aren’t interested in free agent linebacker Adalius Thomas.

“I think with [Thomas] we’ll end up first in the league in defense, and without him we’ll end up first in the league in defense,” Ryan said. “If we get him, great. [But] I’m not worried about him, he’s not on our team.”

As I wrote last week, I believe the Packers would be a great fit for Thomas. GM Ted Thompson ignored the Packers’ need for a left outside linebacker in last month’s draft and while Brad Jones is a capable starter, Dom Capers’ defense would be better suited having two pass-rushers on the outside. (Clay Matthews is already a fixture on the right side after an outstanding rookie campaign.)

That said, Thompson is a no-frills kind of guy, so I imagine that if he were interested that Thomas would have already been up to Green Bay for a visit. As of now, the only teams that have shown interest in the free agent are the Jets and the 49ers, who went hard after Thomas in 2007 before he signed with the Patriots.

With OTAs ready to kick off, I wouldn’t be surprised if Thomas were signed soon. He has lost a step over the past two years, but teams are always in the market for pass-rushers.

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The Packers would be a great fit for Thomas

It was only a matter of time before the Patriots gave outside linebacker Adalius Thomas the boot. He was already stealing money from them with his poor play before he became a distraction last season, thus leading to his release on Monday.

One team’s trash is sometimes another team’s treasure, as the Packers could emerge as serious contenders for Thomas’ services. Even though GM Ted Thompson insists that the left outside linebacker position in Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense isn’t a dire need, it is.

2009 seventh round pick Brad Jones saw a fair amount of playing time last year when Aaron Kampman went down with an injury. But while he was decent against the run, he’s not the pass-rusher that Clay Matthews is on the other side. And in Capers’ system, both outside linebackers have to be able to get after the quarterback.

That’s where Thomas comes in. While the 33-year-old has lost a step over the past couple of years, Thomas can still get after the quarterback when he’s motivated. And seeing as how Thompson did nothing to upgrade the outside linebacker position during the draft, the Packers could use someone to push Jones for the starting job.

The Packers could upgrade their LOLB spot by adding Thomas to a one-year deal and still groom Jones for the future if they wanted. If Thomas turns out to be a bust, then Jones has already shown that he’s a capable starter and the team could rid themselves of Thomas after the season.

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Patriots to stay away from Peppers?

One of the biggest rumors that made its rounds during the NFL offseason last year was the Patriots potentially acquiring defensive end Julius Peppers from the Panthers. Now that he’s an unrestricted free agent, those same Peppers-to-New England rumors are starting to pop up again.

It’s highly unlikely that the Panthers will pay the absurd $20.1 million in order to place the franchise tag on Peppers and keep him in Carolina for 2010. And if they don’t, Peppers is free to sign with any team of his choosing – including the Patriots.

But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes, New England was burned in March of 2007 when they signed free agent Adalius Thomas to a hefty five-year, $35 million contract, which also included $20 million in guaranteed money. At the time, Thomas was coming off an 11-sack, 83-tackle season in Baltimore and he was supposed to team up with Richard Seymour to give New England a fierce pass rush.

But in three seasons with the Patriots, Thomas has just 14.5 sacks and even managed to get into Bill Belichick’s doghouse last year by showing up late to a team meeting. Considering that Peppers is 30 and would break the bank as the biggest free agent name available this year, New England might be gun shy to acquire another Thomas in the making.

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