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When the Denver Broncos reported to training camp they were met by cushy new team and position meeting rooms and an expanded training room that features two cryogenic chambers and a flotation pod along with other amenities courtesy of a $9.5 million facilities face-lift that capped a five-year [url=http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/tyrone-crawford-jersey]Tyrone Crawford Jersey[/url] , $45 million renovation.

 

An even bigger upgrade is the $56 million one on offense.

General manager John Elway signed quarterback Case Keenum to a two-year, $36 million deal and acquired right tackle Jared Veldheer from Arizona.

Then, he bolstered his backfield by drafting running back Royce Freeman out of Oregon and receivers Courtland Sutton of SMU and DaeSean Hamilton of Penn State.

They are the pillars of a 10-member draft class that’s led by first-rounder Bradley Chubb and has already drawn raves for its depth of talent and knowledge. All 10 spent four years in college honing their crafts, a reversal of last year’s draft class that was loaded with projects and problems.

The Broncos haven’t bolstered their offense like this since the Peyton Manning era, and with Keenum, they’re no longer bogged down by a QB competition like they were each of the last two summers – unless you count Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly’s battle for the backup job.

”We’re a better football team,” Elway said Friday on the eve of training camp. ”We have some better depth. I think Case is a big part of that. … Now, we have to all come together. It’s about getting continuity on the offensive line as well as the young wide receivers getting up to speed. As well as the young running back.

”So, offensively, I’m excited about it, especially with Case” leading the way.

So is coach Vance Joseph.

”I think it’s huge to have a starting quarterback in place [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/darius-leonard-jersey]Darius Leonard Jersey[/url] ,” Joseph said. ”In at league that’s built for parity, from the top to the bottom of the roster every team’s got talent. But the one position that makes a huge difference is quarterback. And we do have one in place. So, that’s exciting for our team.”

No more splitting snaps. No more getting used to two different cadences or throwing styles.

And no more wondering.

”It’s given us clarity for our football team,” Joseph said. ”We’re not guessing who the quarterback’s going to be. We’re not guessing who the leader’s going to be.”

In Sutton and Hamilton, the Broncos finally have receivers who can not only take pressure off Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders but also apply some pressure to the veteran starters who were smothered by D-backs last season.

”Adding those two young guys, they’re going to help us,” Joseph said. ”In this league it’s about matchups, it’s about getting 1-on-1s. When you have two guys and you have no tight end threat, not halfback threat, the defense can easily bracket those two guys.

”When you have three and you have a guy like Jake Butt in the slot, it’s going to be hard for teams to do that.”

Butt missed his rookie season while recovering from ACL surgery [url=http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/antwaun-woods-jersey]Antwaun Woods Jersey[/url] , which caused him to slip into the fifth round in the 2017 NFL draft. But the Broncos believe that if he can stay healthy, his presence is like adding a first-round talent to the offense.

The Broncos jettisoned veteran C.J. Anderson in the offseason in a cost-cutting move, leaving a group of running backs long on promise but short on experience, including rookies Freeman, David Williams and Philip Lindsay along with second-year pro De’Angelo Henderson and third-year pro Devontae Booker.

”It’s a young group, but I like that,” Joseph said. ”From a halfback perspective, you want guys who are young because that means they are healthy. Healthy. Willing. Open-minded.”

Notes: Joseph said it’s up to WR Carlos Henderson, who failed to report to camp, whether he has a future in Denver: ”He’s having some family problems right now and it’s strictly on Carlos whether he wants to continue to play football.” … Joseph said LG Ron Leary (knee) and RT Veldheer (foot) will both be eased into the lineup. The only player on PUP will be WR Jordan Taylor, still recovering from hip surgeries.

James Harden scored 30 points [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/charles-mann-jersey]Charles Mann Jersey[/url] , Chris Paul had 27 and the Houston Rockets sustained the latest second-half flurry by Stephen Curry, evening the Western Conference finals at two games apiece with a 95-92 victory Tuesday night.

Curry scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 27 points and 12 rebounds but the defending champions missed their final six shots from the floor and their NBA-record postseason winning streak at home ended at 16 games.

Paul rebounded Klay Thompson’s miss just before the final buzzer sounded for the first time and pounded the ball down in delight. A replay review ensued and it was determined Shaun Livingston fouled Paul before the game ended, so Paul made a free throw with 0.5 seconds left.

Curry couldn’t get off a final attempt before the buzzer.

Game 5 is Thursday night at Houston. Golden State will play its longest playoff round after closing out its first two playoff rounds in five games.

HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) – Longtime NHL executive Lou Lamoriello has joined the New York Islanders and will have full authority in all hockey matters.

The team on Tuesday announced the hiring of the 75-year-old Lamoriello as president of hockey operations. He comes to a team that has missed the playoffs eight of the last 12 seasons.

Lamoriello led the New Jersey Devils to three Stanley Cup titles during his 18 years as general manager. He spent the past three seasons as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Islanders managing partner Scott Malkin says in a statement the team is ”committed to giving Lou every resource and the full support of the entire organization.” Lamoriello says he is ”excited to join such a storied franchise.”

It was not immediately clear how the move will affect current president and general manager Garth Snow. He has four years left on his contract.

NFL

ATLANTA (AP) – The NFL approved a new owner for the Carolina Panthers, passed a rule to eject players who hit with their helmets, and took steps to spice up the kickoff.

Still to be resolved: a much more contentious issue.

What to do, if anything, about players who kneel during the national anthem?

At their annual spring meeting on Thursday, league owners welcomed David Tepper to their ranks by signing off on his record $2.2 billion deal to purchase the Panthers from disgraced team founder Jerry Richardson.

During a brief news conference in which he took only a handful of questions, Tepper immediately made a bit of news by seeming to imply he would be willing to listen to offers for a new stadium from other cities in North and South Carolina. The team has made no secret of its desire to replace 22-year-old Bank of America Stadium, and its lease runs only through the upcoming season.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) – The Mets have signed free agent Jose Bautista, getting the former home run champion two days after he was cut by the Atlanta Braves.

They made the move before playing Miami on Tuesday night. The team said he was available for the game [url=http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/daryl-johnston-jersey]Daryl Johnston Jersey[/url] , but he was not in the starting lineup they posted.

New York listed Bautista as an outfielder. He played only third base in his short stint with Atlanta, starting at the spot eight times. He hit .143 (5 for 35) with two home runs and five RBIs, and fared well against left-handed pitchers.

The 37-year-old Bautista signed for the $545,000 major league minimum. He hit .203 with 23 homers and 65 RBIs in 157 games last season with Toronto, and went unsigned as a free agent during the winter.

Bautista is a six-time All-Star, and led the AL with 54 homers in 2010 and 43 in 2011. He has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past eight seasons.

The Mets optioned infielder-outfielder Phillip Evans to Triple-A Las Vegas.

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