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Broncos notes: Fangio plan eliminates divisions, plays 15 conference opponents once a year

Lock to keep checking his Buzz Band. Von plays other side in adjustment to knee injury.
Credit: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio watches during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Carson, Calif.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Vic Fangio doesn’t win ‘em all and so far he hasn’t won more than he’s lost.

But say this for the Broncos’ first-year head coach: He’s always thinking.

Fangio was asked Wednesday about the real possibility the NFL could expand its regular season from 16 to 17 games starting in 2021.

“I’ll tell a story,’’ Fangio said. Hang on, he will get to it. But first his novel idea.

“Since the league went to 32 teams, which was when the Texans came in in 2002, my ideal suggestion --  which has never been put forth in front of anybody important — I don’t think there should be divisions,’’ Fangio said. “I think you’ve got 16 in each conference. Everybody should play each other once. That’s 15 games. Then if you want a 16th game, you play a natural rival from the other conference—Jets and Giants play every year. Eagles-Steelers, Texans-Cowboys, etcetera, play every year. Then keep it at 16 games, but you’ll avoid the problem that’s going to happen this year where probably an 8-8 team is hosting a 12-4 team.’’

Indeed, the Cowboys and Eagles share the NFC East lead with 6-7 records. Meanwhile, Seattle is a second-place team in the NFC West with a 10-3 mark. In the Tebow Year of 2011, the 8-8 Broncos won the AFC West and hosted 12-4 Pittsburgh, a wild card, in a first-round playoff game.

Tebow threw for 316 and the Broncos stunned the Steelers in overtime.

“You’re going to get the six best teams in each conference,’’ Fangio said in continuing his argument for conference rather than divisional standings. “The divisions always float. There are some that are easy some years, some that have a bunch of good teams, that switches back and forth every couple years.

“I just think that’d be a good way to avoid it, but I’m not for 17 games. I think it should stay at 16.”

OK, so why not 17 regular season games?

“I just think 16 is more than enough,’’ he said. “You can see some of these teams, us included to a degree, the injuries start to pile up. If they want an extra week of TV, give everybody two byes during the season.”

Buzz Band stays

To fans of both the “Toy Story” movie franchise and the Denver Broncos NFL franchise you’re in Lock. Rookie quarterback Drew Lock will continue to use the play-call, cheat sheet on his left forearm that doubles as a prop for his Buzz Lightyear celebrations after touchdown passes.

Does Lock hope to rely less on the play-call sheet  when lined up in the shotgun as he continues to play more and pick up the playbook?

“Yeah, honestly, it’s just used as necessary,’’ Lock said. “If I need to recheck it, I’m going to recheck it. It’s not like I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Holy cow, the media is going to see me check this at the line. I better not do it or else the play is going to be bad.’ No, if I need to look at it, I’m going to look at it.”

Bronco Bits

Von Miller said he did play more right outside linebacker last week against the Texans because of his left knee injury. On the right side, his push-off leg is the right. On the left side, his push-off leg is the left and he has a sprained MCL in his left knee that forced him to miss one game against the Chargers and hampered him against the Texans. …

Tight end Noah Fant missed practice Wednesday because of foot and hip ailments but he and Fangio say he should play Sunday at Kansas City. …

Dre’Mont Jones did not practice Wednesday because of his high ankle sprain but Fangio said he did not think his rookie defensive lineman would be placed on season-ending injured reserve. …

Right tackle Ja’Wuan James didn’t practice Wednesday so after playing a full first half for the first time this season, his left knee may again be an issue again this week. …

Outside linebacker Malik Reed returned to practice after he was inactive for the game at Houston because of  shoulder and ankle injuries. Reed may now be the backup after veteran Jeremiah Attaochu stepped up with 2 sacks against Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. …

Right guard Ron  Leary remains in the concussion protocol so Austin Schlottmann would be line for his second NFL start. Defensive lineman Adam Gotsis missed a rare practice Wednesday because of a knee ailment.

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