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Jared Polis plans $3 million television ad blitz for Colorado governor’s race

August 15, 2018 - 3:03pm

The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis is planning to spend $3 million on television ads in the final weeks of the campaign.

The Wednesday announcement about the ad buy for October underscores the advantage of Polis’ willingness to put millions of his own money into the election: The buy is more than the $2.38 million total that Republican candidate and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has raised so far.

The ads will play in the media markets of Denver, Colorado Springs-Pueblo, and Grand Junction-Montrose.

“Throughout Colorado, there is already incredible excitement for Jared’s bold plans to reduce the cost of health care, invest in our public schools, and tackle the rising cost of living so that Colorado families can get ahead,” said Polis campaign manager Jenn Ridder in a statement. “We have more than 3,000 volunteers on the ground who have knocked on 120,000 doors in just the last month.”

Ridder said the campaign is aiming to build on that momentum.

The race is drawing national attention from Republicans angling for a pickup opportunity for a governor’s seat. The Republican Governors Association has already put about $2 million into ads in the race.

The Colorado governor’s office is one of the few competitive races that is a pickup opportunity for Republicans. There are 36 governor races this election, and of those, 26 are races in states with Republican governors.

“Since we hold a large majority of governorships, we only have a handful of states that we can play offense in this year,” said Jon Thompson, spokesman for the RGA. “Colorado is one of our top pickup opportunities.”

Stapleton’s campaign hasn’t yet announced any media ad buy figures. Campaign officials said volunteers have knocked on more than 100,000 doors and made more than 250,000 phone calls.

In a statement, Stapleton campaign manager Michael Fortney said: “It’s perfect timing for Congressman Jared Polis to announce a big media buy. Just this week he also announced he is doing zero public events. Congressman Polis might think this is a winning strategy since he has purchased every seat he has ever won, but Colorado voters will recognize this arrogance.”

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Polis has given his campaign most of the $13.1 million it has collected. He limits donations from individuals to $100 per person.

Stapleton has contributed about $1 million of his campaign’s $2.38 million total raised, according to campaign filings.

Polis reported $1.26 million cash on hand at the end of July. Stapleton reported $301,811 cash on hand.

An earlier version of this story misattributed a statement from the Stapleton campaign.

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Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis won’t be charged in connection with March arrest

August 15, 2018 - 2:28pm

Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis will not be charged in connection with his March arrest for an alleged rape of a woman five years ago, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office announced Wednesday.

In a statement emailed to The Denver Post, district attorney Paul Howard said the decision was reached “after a careful and thorough investigation. … My office understands the sensitivity and significance of these investigations, but the evidence presented does not warrant any further action in this case.”

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Broncos coach Vance Joseph told Gotsis of the news before the afternoon walkthrough.

“I’m just relieved that everything has been taken care of,” Gotsis said in his first public comments since his arrest. “You have faith in the legal system and faith in the Lord and great support from everybody around me — Broncos, family, friends. I’m just glad it’s over with and I can just focus on football now.”

The alleged incident took place in 2013 when Gotsis was a member of Georgia Tech’s football team. Gotsis surrendered in Atlanta and paid a $50,000 bond. The charge was strong-arm rape (by physical force).

At the time of the arrest, officials said a decision on whether to press charges would be made within 90 days. Their decision arrived five months later.

“You don’t really know what happening but you have faith things are going to work out,” Gotsis said. “It was frustrating at times. It’s harder when you’re alone and not in the (Broncos’) building. When you’re in the building, you’re so caught up in football. When you’re alone and thinking about it … that’s why you have the friends and family to support you when you have no one else.”

The woman was 25 years old at the time of the alleged incident and reported it to police on Feb. 1.

Gotsis was selected by the Broncos in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft and has 55 tackles in two seasons.

 

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Visit Colorado’s “Creative Corridor” at these five eclectic mountain towns

August 15, 2018 - 1:24pm

Mountain towns excel at being eclectic delights, and recognizing and embracing that, five Colorado destinations have come together to form a “Creative Corridor” to showcase their wide-ranging arts and cultural offerings.

Of course, in true Colorado fashion, the circuit also shines the spotlight on outdoor adventure — a nod to Mother Nature, the skilled artist responsible for painting Crested Butte with vibrant wildflowers in the summer and gifting Carbondale with its mighty monolith, Mount Sopris.

The Creative Corridor spans 331 miles, and organizers hope it will help curate itineraries for visitors this summer. It’s akin to the Historic Hot Springs Loop that was developed a couple of years ago to draw visitors to Colorado’s bubbling, au naturel hot tubs. All of the destinations in the Creative Corridor are Colorado Creative Districts, a designation for the state’s most art-focused communities, which are brimming with galleries, artists in residence and special arts events.

Here are the stars of the new Creative Corridor, as well as some ideas for what to see, do and eat when visiting.

Carbondale

More than 200 creative organizations, businesses, artists and artisans have taken up residence in this central Rockies town.

Spend an afternoon bopping around Third Street Center (520 S. Third St., 970-963-3221), where you’ll stumble on grassroots art galleries. Other highlights here include the Powers Art Center (13110 Colorado 82, 970-963-4445), a memorial to pop artist Jasper Johns, and True Nature Healing Arts (100 N. Third St., 970-963-9900) a center for yoga and spiritual wellness with an underground kiva. For the cool factor, you can slumber in the stills at the Marble Distillery Inn (150 Main St., 970-963-7008).

A must-see: The Rio Grande ARTway, a hiking and biking trail, that has been beautified with a Latino Folk Art Garden and a Youth Art Park, with interactive sculptures, a woven teepee, gardens and even a funky, multimedia structure that serves as a bug hotel.

Where to eat: Phat Thai (343 Main St., 970-963-7001) is a Main Street institution where curries star on the menu alongside a Thai rendition of fried chicken.

Salida

The Arkansas River cuts through Salida’s downtown, drawing rafters and kayakers, and the nearby Collegiate Peaks are a draw for those looking upward to nearby fourteeners. But Salida is more than an outdoor lover’s paradise.

Its downtown is lined with studios, galleries and locally owned eateries, many in charming Victorian-era buildings. For a unique stay, the Mountain Goat Lodge (9582 U.S. 285, 719-539-7173) is a bed and breakfast just outside of town with friendly resident goats that provide the milk for the lodge’s breakfasts and cheese-making classes.

Where to eat: Satiate your sweet tooth at The Biker and The Baker (123 W. First St., 719-207-4001) which has an inventive and ever-changing dessert menu. (Think: Peanut butter and bacon chocolate cake or blueberry poppyseed creme brûlée). The dessert shop also sells wine, beer, cheese and charcuterie. Vintage furniture and bold floral wallpaper earn it an “A” in ambiance.

Crested Butte

Crested Butte’s artistic credentials include more than 70 creatives in town, including metal workers, photographers, plein-air painters and ski manufacturers. Take a self-guided tour of the galleries in the Elk Avenue historic district. Or, come for one of Crested Butte’s many festivals, including the Crested Butte Music Festival, which runs in July and August or the Film Festival that plays out Sept. 27-30. The Purple Mountain (714 Gothic Ave., 970-349-5888) is a bed and breakfast that serves a select Colorado craft beer complimentary to guests.

Where to eat: The Secret Stash (303 Elk Ave., 970-349-6245) serves wildly creative pizzas, including one with a Thai peanut and coconut-curry base that’s finished with a sweet Thai chili sauce and chopped peanuts.

Paonia

Paonia has a large share of organic farms, orchards and vineyards, making it the consummate host for farm-to-table meals and winemaker dinners. For a sample, pick fruit and do a hard cider tasting at Delicious Orchards (39126 Colorado 133, Hotchkiss, 970-527-1110). In town, Grand Avenue is idyllic, with turn-of-the-century buildings housing local shops and restaurants, art galleries, a movie theater and a radio station.

Where to eat: Try a five-course winemaker dinner at Leroux Creek Inn and Vineyards (12388 3100 Road, Hotchkiss, 970-872-4746). The dinners are classic French cuisine and use local produce, meat or fish from the organic farms and ranches in Delta County.

Ridgway

More than 10 percent of the 900 residents of Ridgway call themselves artists. Here’s a snapshot: Billings Artworks makes Grammy Awards, and Panji Bags makes eco-friendly, hardcover cases for instruments. The restored historic Sherbino Theater (604 Clinton St., 970-318-0892) offers live music, poetry readings and lectures and the town does full-moon artist studio tours, setting its art walks apart.

Where to eat: Provisions (616 Clinton St., 970-626-9861, provisionschef.com) is a European-style cafe with community-style tables inside an old barbershop.

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Broncos WR Carlos Henderson suspended for violating NFL substance abuse policy

August 15, 2018 - 1:08pm

Broncos wide receiver Carlos Henderson has been suspended one regular-season game for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

The suspension, which is without pay, likely stems from a January arrest for marijuana possession in Louisiana.

Henderson, a third-round pick in 2017 by the Broncos, did not play last year because of a thumb injury. His chances of making this year’s roster decreased when the Broncos drafted Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton.

Days before training camp, Henderson informed the Broncos he would not be reporting. He remains on the reserved/did not report list. Asked recently for an update on Henderson’s status, coach Vance Joseph said there was none.

If Henderson re-surfaces with another team, the suspension will follow him to the new club.

 

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Jalen Ramsey thinks former Wyoming QB Josh Allen “is trash”

August 15, 2018 - 12:45pm

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey didn’t mince words when it comes to former Wyoming and now Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

“I think Allen is trash,” Ramsey says in a recent interview with GQ.

The 23-year-old defensive back tells the magazine that he felt the NFL draft “was a little off,” especially when quarterback Lamar Jackson fell to the Baltimore Ravens at the No. 32 pick.

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From the interview:

“I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash. And it’s gonna show too. That’s a stupid draft pick to me. We play them this year, and I’m excited as hell. I hope he’s their starting quarterback. He played at Wyoming. Every time they played a big school–like, they played Iowa State, which is not a big school in my opinion because I went to Florida State, and he threw five interceptions, and they lost by a couple touchdowns or something like that. He never beat a big school. If you look at his games against big schools, it was always hella interceptions, hella turnovers. It’s like: Yo, if you’re this good, why couldn’t you do better? He fits that mold, he’s a big, tall quarterback. Big arm, supposedly. I don’t see it, personally.”

It’s not quite accurate. As GQ points out, Allen threw five picks against Nebraska in his sophomore season. And he never played Iowa State. He played Iowa and threw two interceptions in a 24-3 losing effort.

Allen wasn’t the only quarterback Ramsey had thoughts on. Some good, some bad, Ramsey chimed in on everyone from Tom Brady and Drew Brees to Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan.

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Broncos training camp rewind, practice 14: Work with Chicago Bears spirited, but not chippy

August 15, 2018 - 12:31pm
Player Attendance

Did not practice. S Su’a Cravens (knee), TE Troy Fumagalli (groin), S Dymonte Thomas (hamstring), G J.J. Dielman (knee), CB Michael Hunter (migraines), LB Shaquil Barrett (hamstring), CB Chris Harris (oblique) and G/C Sam Jones (back).

Physically unable to perform. WR Jordan Taylor (hips).

Did not report list. WR Carlos Henderson and WR Jimmy Williams.

Returned to practice. CB Marcus Rios (hip) and LB Joseph Jones (foot).

New Injuries

WR Courtland Sutton (ankle) left the practice field, but returned later.

Top Play

Early in 11-on-11 work against Chicago’s starting defense, QB Case Keenum showed nice touch by lofting a pass over a linebacker and into the hands of WR Demaryius Thomas, who was running a deep crossing route.

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The tempers. No fights. No scuffles. The Bears and Broncos got their work in over the course of two-plus hours without any of the nonsense that marred Jets-Redskins earlier this week.

WR Emmanuel Sanders. He won his first 1-on-1 matchup against CB Kyle Fuller to start a productive day that later included two early catches in 11-on-11.

Thumbs Down

Broncos secondary. Against Chicago’s three offensive units, there weren’t many hands on the football, much less a takeaway.

Odds and Ends
  • Before practice, the Broncos waived injured DE Paul Boyette (elbow) and signed rookie DL DeQuinton Osborne. Boyette was injured during Monday’s practice. Osborne was first-team All-Big 12 last year at Oklahoma State (44 tackles and six sacks). Osborne signed with Dallas after the draft but was released May 30.
  • On one practice field the entire day, it was the Chicago offense vs. the Broncos defense (first-, second- and third-team). On the other it was the Broncos offense vs. the Chicago defense. The special teams ran on both fields during their periods.
  • Bears coach Matt Nagy, who doubles as the offensive play-caller, stayed with his offense. Broncos coach Vance Joseph floated. Said Joseph : “I tried to watch the first defense (during) the first period and then watched (QB) Case (Keenum) the second time. I was standing in between the fields. It’s hard to go back forth but I wanted to see 4-5 plays on each side and then flip.”
  • G/C Sam Jones missed his first practice of camp after being injured on Tuesday. “He had back spasms, but it’s a little worse than we thought,” Joseph said. “But he’ll back in 2-3 days.” Jones’ second-team center snaps were divided between starting RG Connor McGovern and backup G/C Austin Schlottmann.
  • Joseph on S Su’a Cravens: “Hopefully on the practice field this week and hopefully play against Washington next week.”
  • Keenum’s first 11-on-11 series included a deep throw to Thomas and a pass to TE Jeff Heuerman, who got open down the left seam. QB Chad Kelly’s first period included a dart to Sutton on a quick slant.
  • Bears QB Mitch Trubisky went 4-of-4 passing on his second team period, including two passes to TE Trey Burton.
  • Kelly was under pressure when he danced around the pocket and his short throw was intercepted by DB Marcus Cooper. Kelly later had a pass batted up in the air that RB Devontae Booker leaped to attempt to bat down. The pass was incomplete.
  • Broncos DL Zach Kerr batted down a pass against QB Chase Daniel.

Thursday’s schedule: Practice 9:30 a.m.-noon with the Chicago Bears (closed to the public)

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Man faces murder charges in killing of bartender at Thornton sports bar shooting

August 15, 2018 - 12:25pm

A man suspected of opening fire early Saturday after being kicked out of a Thornton sports bar now faces multiple murder charges in the death of a bartender there.

17th Judicial District Attorney's OfficeGary Wideman

Staff at the Extra Point Bar on West 100th Avenue kicked Gary Wideman, 36, out of the establishment after multiple fights had broken out, according to a news release from the district attorney’s office for the 17th Judicial District. Wideman returned with a handgun at about 1:30 a.m. and started shooting, the release states.

A bartender, Brenda Martinez, was killed. Several others were injured, including three who were shot and another who was stabbed.

Wideman faces two counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault and six counts of crime of violence, which could make any sentences more severe if he is convicted.

Prosecutors read Wideman the charges against him Wednesday in Adams County District Court. His next court appearance is scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 26.

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People were fleeing the bar when police arrived early Saturday morning. A trail of blood splatters remained on the pavement outside on Saturday afternoon, but police couldn’t confirm whether the blood was related to the incident the night before.

An employee at a nearby gas station who knew Martinez previously told The Denver Post that the bartender was a single mother and “the nicest person in the world.”

The Extra Point Bar will be closed until further notice, according to its Facebook page.

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Colorado Republicans name 3 new candidates in state House races

August 15, 2018 - 12:04pm

Colorado Republicans have picked three new candidates for state House races to fill vacancies on the ballot.

The vacancies were created when two candidates dropped out and a third opted to run for lieutenant governor.

Steven Szutenbach of Evergreen is running for the seat of Republican Rep. Tim Leonard, said Daniel Cole, spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party, on Wednesday. Leonard ended his re-election campaign after a judge refused to reduce his child support and alimony payments.

Szutenbach is a former legislative aide for state Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, according to the Canyon Courier.

Vicki Pyne, an Arvada resident, is running in House District 27 because Rep. Lang Sias has joined gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton’s ticket. Pyne is a program manager of CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children, in Jefferson and Gilpin counties, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Mary Elizabeth Fabian, a business consultant, is running in House District 18 instead of Jillian Likness, who withdrew from the race in early July citing health reasons, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. That’s an open race, as the incumbent, Democratic Rep. Pete Lee, is running for a state Senate seat.

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Vacancies are filled by committees with Republican officials in the district where there is an opening.

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Sex offender arrested in connection to Lone Tree kidnapping

August 15, 2018 - 11:22am

Law enforcement arrested a convicted sex offender suspected of kidnapping a woman Tuesday from a Lone Tree parking lot.

The City of Lone TreePaul Nader

Deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office arrested Paul Nader, 29, about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday after they received calls about a woman running away from a man and asking for help in the parking lot of a Castle Pines shopping center.

Law enforcement found the woman and learned that she was the same person reported kidnapped from a Lone Tree parking lot at approximately 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to a news release from the city of Lone Tree. Investigators believe Nader pushed the woman into a vehicle and drove away.

Nader, who lives in Colorado Springs, faces charges of first-degree kidnapping, sexual assault and aggravated robbery. He remained in custody Wednesday at the Douglas County Jail. His bond was set at $750,000.

Nader was convicted in 2013 of sexual exploitation of a child and attempted sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s sex offender database.

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Mountain West football preview: Boise State leads way as conference begins season No. 20

August 15, 2018 - 11:01am

DENVER — Boise State could very well make this a memorable 20th season for the Mountain West Conference.

Extremely memorable, perhaps. Because if things go just right and break just so, the Broncos may be in the conversation for the College Football Playoff.

That’s big preseason talk, but not out of the realm of feasibility given the return of seasoned quarterback Brett Rypien, a stalwart offensive line and a formidable defense. The strength of schedule is favorable as well, with games at Troy and Oklahoma State. They look like a major contender for the New Year’s Six bowl spot that’s saved for the best conference champion from outside the Power Five. Boise State earned that during the first year of the CFP when it went to the Fiesta Bowl and beat Arizona.

Still, Broncos coach Bryan Harsin is tapping the brakes on all the expectations surrounding his squad, which is the favorite to win the Mountain side of the division. There are plenty of potential pitfalls in the way, including resurgent Fresno State — the pick to win the West half of the league. Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford orchestrated quite a turnaround in 2017, taking a 1-11 Bulldogs team and turning it into a 10-4 squad that beat Houston in the Hawaii Bowl.

“From what I see and the competition we play and the league we’re in and the success our teams have, if you’re fortunate to win those games, you probably have a good shot,” Harsin said of an MW team reaching a big-time bowl game. “It’s exciting. We’re trying to compete in this league, in this division and make sure we take care of business here.

“If you do, you probably have a good shot at being mentioned in one of those games.”

How times have changed over the last two decades in the Mountain West: The Broncos weren’t in the conference picture when the league played its first game on September 16, 1999, with Brigham Young beating Colorado State 34-13.

There were eight teams in those days. Now, it’s expanded to a dozen.

A constant: Rocky Long.

He’s still coaching in the conference, going from head coach at New Mexico to defensive coordinator at San Diego State to taking over as the Aztecs’ head coach in 2011. His squad was picked to finish runner-up in the West.

“When (the Mountain West) started I don’t think anybody thought it would be what it is right now,” Long said. “I think that the caliber of football we play, the caliber of coaches in the league is better and better and better every single year.

“As long as (the bigger schools) keep playing us, they’ll keep getting beat.”

Things to know as the Mountain West heads into season No. 20:

HISTORY LESSON

The league formed when teams decided to break away from the Western Athletic Conference. Schools have come and gone, with Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, New Mexico, San Diego State, and UNLV still going. The conference has seen some top-tier teams depart (Texas Christian, Utah, BYU) and added other high-profile programs (Boise State).

PRESEASON AWARDS

Rypien was voted the conference’s preseason player of the year. He’s thrown for 9,876 yards and 60 TDs over 37 games.

Wyoming senior defensive back Andrew Wingard earned the preseason defensive player of the year nod for a second straight season. Wingard, who starred at Ralston Valley high School, has 367 career tackles and is 88 tackles short of breaking the Mountain West record held by New Mexico’s Carmen Messina (2008-11).

On special teams, Boise State sophomore Avery Williams earned the player of the year nod. He had two punt returns for scores in 2017.

EXPOSURE

The Mountain West has frequently been late-night viewing, with kickoffs after 10 p.m. on the East Coast. It’s the price of being on television, even if it’s not the ideal slot.

Given a choice, Harsin would pick a more favorable time.

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“Noon. Saturday. Consistently,” Harsin said. “Be able to go home and watch the other guys go through the misery at the end of the night.”

FACEBOOK FRIENDS

The league will have seven games air on Facebook this season, beginning with two on Sept. 1 — Stony Brook at Air Force, followed by Idaho at Fresno State. Last season, six Mountain West games were on Facebook and reached more than 17 million fans, with the Utah State at Wyoming game on Oct. 14 reaching 4.6 million.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

Mountain Division

1. Boise State. 2. Wyoming. 3. Colorado State. 4. Utah State. 5. Air Force. 6. New Mexico.

West Division

1. Fresno State. 2. San Diego State. 3. UNLV. 4. Nevada. 5. Hawaii. 6. San Jose State.

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Colorado wildfire update: Bull Draw fire incinerates nearly 1,200 acres in 24 hours, climbs ranks of state’s largest wildfires

August 15, 2018 - 10:53am

The Bull Draw fire near the western border grew about 1,180 acres in the last day and continues to climb the list of the largest wildfires in Colorado’s history.

The fire, about 12 miles northwest of Nucla, covered 26,370 acres on Wednesday morning, making it the 17th largest fire in state hsitory. Five of the 20 largest fires ignited this year.

Winds are expected to help push the fire up Deep Canyon in the afternoon. The fire was ignited by lightning on July 29.

Crews continue to mop up scattered pockets of heat around the Campbell Point homes, where fires are creeping up through the vegetation below the houses. A 17-mile section of a Forest Service road called Divide Road remains closed.

Crews had about 19 percent of the fire contained Wednesday morning as more than 380 people continued to fight the blaze.

Twelve fires continue to burn across Colorado, totaling nearly 150,00 acres. Six of those fires were more than 90 percent contained.

The two people charged with allegedly starting the Lake Christine fire, Richard Miller and Allison Marcus, appeared in court for the first time Tuesday, according to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Both face fourth-degree arson charges for allegedly starting the 12,588-acre fire near Basalt by firing tracer rounds at a nearby shooting range. The fire, which was ignited on July 3, continued to burn Wednesday, though it is 90 percent contained.

Cabin Lake fire

The Rio Blanco County Sheriff ordered evacuations Tuesday for all residents on County Road 10 along the South Fork drainage as the Cabin Lake fire continued to grow due to “extreme fire behavior.”

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Winds up to 45 mph continue to fuel the blaze, which reached 3,700 acres Tuesday night. The fire, which doubled in size over the weekend, is 35 percent contained. A 23,000-foot-tall column of smoke was visible from multiple nearby counties.

All trailheads and campgrounds in the South Fork drainage remain evacuated and closed. Officials continue to investigate what started the fire.

Cache Creek fire

Wildland crews continue to battle the 2,544-acre fire that jumped containment lines on Sunday and Monday. The blaze, located about eight miles southwest of Rifle, was 40 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.

Almost 90 people continued to fight the blaze using bulldozers, fire engines and two Blackhawk helicopters from the Colorado National Guard.

Evacuation orders for six structures remain in effect. The fire destroyed an abandoned building near Cache Creek on Sunday.

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Will the Jets’ Sam Darnold be only member of prized class of NFL rookie QBs to start opener?

August 15, 2018 - 10:24am

When the quarterbacks came off the board so early and so often on NFL draft night in April, hope abounded and the countdown began: How long would it take for Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen to begin changing the on-field fortunes of their franchises?

Perhaps just a bit longer than some might have expected, it turns out.

While this highly celebrated class of rookie quarterbacks remains long on promise, it might end up being relatively short on immediate impact. The second week of preseason games leaguewide arrives now with Darnold, the draft’s No. 3 overall selection, well positioned to vie with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater for the New York Jets‘ starting job.

But if Darnold indeed emerges as the Jets’ season-opening starter, he could be standing alone among this rookie quarterback class. For now, at least, it appears that Mayfield will have to wait his turn behind Tyrod Taylor in Cleveland, that Allen probably won’t overtake Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron right away in Buffalo and that Rosen will begin his rookie season as an understudy to Sam Bradford in Arizona.

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So it could be Darnold who gets the first chance to try to prove to his team that it made a wise investment and to convince a fan base that better times truly are at hand.

“It’s been a while since I got drafted, or at least to me it seems like it,” Darnold said this week. “So I’ve been hearing all the buzz and everything for a while now. It’s really cool. It’s really fun to be a part of this organization, and the fans are incredible as well.”

The chance will come soon enough for each of these quarterbacks. All four were drafted in the top 10 — Mayfield went first to the Browns, Allen was taken seventh by the Bills and Rosen was selected 10th by the Cardinals — and each is regarded as a potential franchise quarterback.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all way to go about it. Take the 2004 quarterback class that included the New York Giants’ Eli Manning, San Diego’s Philip Rivers and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. Only Roethlisberger became a starter early in his rookie season. It took the Giants nine games to promote Manning over veteran Kurt Warner. The Chargers kept Rivers on the bench for two full seasons before allowing Drew Brees to leave the team in free agency and clear the starting spot for Rivers.

For some young quarterbacks, such as former top overall picks Tim Couch of the Browns and David Carr of the Houston Texans, early-career struggles can prove ruinous. For others, such as Peyton Manning and John Elway, the initial rookie missteps serve merely as steppingstones to all-time greatness. So who’s to know?

“You have to trust your instincts and play the guy when you think he’s ready,” an executive with one NFL team said this week. “With this group, I wouldn’t play Allen right away. He needs some time. I think the other three guys are ready to play any time. I’m not saying they’re ready to be Pro Bowl guys. But I think you could put them in there and do some things with them and get by. They’d make mistakes. But it wouldn’t ruin them, and they’d do enough good things that you wouldn’t embarrass yourself.”

The Browns, a combined 1-31 over the past two seasons, traded for Taylor as part of the offseason roster upgrade by their new general manager, John Dorsey. Taylor, formerly the starter for the Bills, is a capable placeholder for Mayfield, with a proven ability to avoid turnovers. The Cardinals, in Bradford, have an often-injured but proficient-when-healthy starter, with a career passer rating of 85.1.

Brett Carlsen, Getty ImagesJermaine Carter (56) of the Carolina Panthers sacks Josh Allen (17) of the Buffalo Bills during the second half at New Era Field on Aug. 9, 2018 in Orchard Park, N.Y. Carolina defeats Buffalo in the preseason game 28-23.

The temporary alternatives are less appealing for the Bills and Jets. The Bills reached the playoffs last season with Taylor but decided to begin anew at quarterback and sent him to Cleveland. If Allen is deemed not ready to be the season-opening starter, coach Sean McDermott must choose between Peterman, a second-year pro who had a five-interception first half in the first of his two starts last season, and McCarron, the former backup in Cincinnati to Andy Dalton. Allen is considered less polished as a passer and less NFL-ready than Mayfield, Darnold or Rosen. But his size, athleticism and dazzling arm strength have prompted comparisons with Carson Wentz, Philadelphia’s prodigious quarterback who might have been the league MVP last season if not for a December knee injury.

The Jets re-signed McCown, a respected pro but a backup for most of his NFL career, and added Bridgewater, the former starter in Minnesota returning from a devastating leg injury suffered two years ago, along with drafting Darnold. But the future could be now with Darnold, and Coach Todd Bowles wants to see plenty of the rookie during the preseason.

“I can get a fair evaluation of Josh,” Bowles said after one of the Jets’ joint practices this week with the Washington Redskins in Richmond. “I’ve seen him quite a bit. I’ve seen Teddy quite a bit. Sam’s the one that has to catch up.”

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The Jets face the Redskins on Thursday night at FedEx Field in their second preseason game. Darnold, after missing the first few days of training camp because of a dispute over the final details of his rookie contract, is coming off a crisp 13-for-18 passing performance against the Atlanta Falcons in the exhibition opener, playing with backups. He could get work with the starters Thursday.

“Every time I get in there, I look to get better,” Darnold said. “That’s just who I am as a player. I just try to get in there and get better every single day no matter who I’m playing with because the reps are always the most important. The plays are the same. It’s just the ones, the twos or the threes. … It doesn’t matter who you’re with. … But every single time I get in there, I just look to compete and play my best.”

Another solid preseason outing or two by Darnold could make Bowles’ decision relatively easy.

“We’re happy with what we saw,” Bowles said. “We’ve got some things to build on, as has Teddy, as has Josh. And we’ll go from there.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Aspen collecting energy fees faster than the city can spend it

August 15, 2018 - 10:21am

The fund that collects fees levied on property owners who consume large amounts of energy is accumulating faster than officials can spend it.

That was a takeaway for Aspen City Council members Tuesday when they met with representatives from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, or CORE.

CORE manages the funds collected through the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program, or REMP. It was established in 1999 as part of the Aspen-Pitkin County Energy Conservation Code.

In recent years, the city’s portion of the fund produces more than $1 million annually. The fund balance is currently over $7 million.

During council’s Tuesday work session, Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron asked CORE executive director Mona Newton if she has the capacity to spend that much money on projects and grants.

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“It would be hard to spend that much money,” she replied.

Read the full story at AspenTimes.com.

Categories: All Denver News.

Is Maryland’s DJ Durkin overly intense or just passionate? It depends on whom you ask.

August 15, 2018 - 10:06am

At the end of 2015, DJ Durkin addressed the Maryland football team for the first time. Some players viewed him with skepticism, the natural reaction of hypercompetitive college athletes — who is this new guy, anyway? Standing before the players, pacing back and forth, Durkin chipped away at their doubt. He declared the Terrapins would become a great team under his watch if they bought into his vision. Players could sense his passion and intensity. They understood what the position meant to him.

“The guy worked his entire life to become a head coach, and he was going to do it to perfection,” former Maryland defensive end Roman Braglio said. “This guy had really dedicated his life to football.”

In less than two decades, Durkin rose from undersized defensive end at Bowling Green to Big Ten head coach. He built his coaching résumé on a consuming work ethic and renowned intensity, working under some of the most successful coaches of the era, until he signed a five-year, $12.5 million contract to revive Maryland. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, a small city referred to as the Cradle of Coaches for the number of high-profile coaches it has produced, Durkin established himself as one of the brightest young minds in football.

Over the past two months, Durkin, 40, has presided over tragedy and watched his rapid ascent unravel. The University of Maryland placed him on administrative leave Saturday, after an ESPN report described a “toxic” atmosphere that contributed to the June 13 death from external heatstroke of Jordan McNair. The 19-year-old offensive lineman collapsed during a May 29 workout. The job Durkin worked so obsessively toward and the career that had been pointed on an upward trajectory is in severe jeopardy.

University of Maryland president Wallace Loh announced Tuesday the school would investigate reports of abusive tactics used by Durkin and his staff. Regardless of what the school finds, Durkin was in charge of a program on the day a player suffered a death experts viewed as preventable.

Former players during Durkin’s tenure as an assistant at Stanford, Florida and Michigan described Durkin as passionate, caring, demanding and devoted to football. Several former players interviewed for this story supported Durkin and credited him with helping not only their football careers, but their lives off the field. Others have indicated they perceived Durkin as overly intense, even as an assistant coach.

“Coach Durkin was a different guy,” former Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers said Wednesday on “The Rich Eisen Show.” “His tactics were different. It felt extreme at times. I’m just as shocked reading all the stuff that’s going on now, because I thought he was only like that because it was his first time coaching us.

“It’s just the way he goes about getting the most out of his players. Me being from where I’m from, I didn’t like it, but at the end of the day I knew what the overall goal was. The way I would describe it, kind of like bully coaching. I don’t think he meant anything by it, but it’s kind of how it comes out.”

Multiple players who played under Durkin during his first season at Maryland said they were shocked to read about allegations of a team culture rife with intimidation and humiliation. For them, the coach they called “Durk” brought infectious energy to his teams, quick to crack a smile or leap to bump bodies with players to celebrate a big play in practice.

“It was surprising, because abusive is a word I wouldn’t connect to Durk,” former Florida linebacker Michael Taylor said. “But we played high-level football. It is very demanding. He just wanted you to do things his way.”

Durkin began his coaching career at Bowling Green in 2001, immediately after he ended his playing career. First-year head coach Urban Meyer hired him as a graduate assistant.

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“I immediately gave him full-time responsibility after about the first few weeks we were together,” Meyer said in 2016. Meyer wanted to hire Durkin on a permanent basis, and he might have had he not left Bowling Green for Utah. “That’s how good he was,” Meyer said.

After another stint as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, Durkin joined Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford in 2007. For three years, starting in his late 20s, Durkin coached defensive ends and ran special teams. Even as a young coach, Durkin’s prowess managing special teams made his promise evident.

“It’s a football team within a football team,” said Erik Lorig, a Stanford defensive end who would play six years in the NFL. “He ran special teams like it was a national football team. We were treated that way, and we had high expectations all the time. DJ was on his way up to be a football great, and to be a great football coach.”

Lorig described Durkin as “inspiring” and meticulous, eager to review and critique every snap Lorig played, hunting for ways to improve even his best performances.

“He brought a level of intensity of you wanted,” Lorig said. “I couldn’t have asked for anyone better than him, based on what I wanted out of my college football experience. I went from a pretty obscure college football athlete who hadn’t done anything profound to an NFL-caliber player who was dominant in the Pac-12 Conference and went on to a six-year NFL career. I would not have done that without DJ Durkin.”

Under Harbaugh, Durkin burnished his reputation as a coach who pushed his competitiveness to the edge, even away from football. He and Harbaugh played brutal one-on-one basketball games, high on physicality, low on skill. “There was no fouls being called, and there was a lot of blood on the court,” Durkin once said on a radio interview.

“His pregame speeches are some of the best I’ve ever heard,” former Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy, whom Durkin recruited to Stanford, said in 2015. “He’d talk about how the opponents were coming into our house and we were going to lock the gate behind them and not let them out ’til we were done with them. Stuff like that. Just stuff that gets college guys fired up and ready to go run through a brick wall.”

Durkin reunited with Meyer in 2010, moving to coach linebackers for him at Florida. He would eventually become Florida’s defensive coordinator under Will Muschamp, who replaced Meyer after he left to confront health issues. Durkin’s defenses produced loads of NFL players and ranked among the stingiest in the country. Rivals.com named him its recruiter of the year in 2012.

“Durk was good with us,” former Florida safety Marcus Maye, who now plays for the New York Jets. “I mean, he did a great job with us at Florida, as a coach, as a person. I really don’t know what’s going on over there, but as far as my experience with him, it was all good.”

Durkin rejoined Harbaugh at Michigan in 2015, and he led one of the nation’s best defenses before Maryland hired him. Some players said Durkin boosted morale upon arrival. Braglio recalled himself and teammates feeling embarrassed under former coach Randy Edsall, who would frequently single out players in team film sessions.

“The first team meeting we had with [Durkin], I knew that he was the guy that Maryland needed,” former offensive lineman Michael Dunn said. “He’s been around so many big-time programs, and he had an idea how he wanted to achieve winning.”

Cornerback Jarrett Ross, who said he “loved” playing for Durkin, said Durkin used grueling workouts, led by strength coach Rick Court, to establish his own culture. At one summer practice his first season, according to a 2016 story in the Carroll County Times, Durkin yelled at players, “No one cares if you’re tired” as they slogged from one station to another, before making them walk back 20 yards and retrace their steps on a sprint.

Court resigned from Maryland on Monday, becoming the first Maryland employee to lose his job in the wake of McNair’s death.

“It’s tragic,” Ross said. “No kid should ever go after college and have to go through something like that. That’s not how it should be. I looked at it as a shock. I never thought things would be this way, based on how it was when I was there. They looked after everybody. Seeing some of the reports, it just doesn’t sound like Durk and Court. I guess things changed, according to some people.”

Even after the tragedy, many of Durkin’s former players have remained loyal to him. Dunn emphasized he didn’t know the facts of the workout that led to McNair’s death, but he portrayed Durkin as uncommonly attentive among football coaches. Lorig, the former Stanford player, remembered Durkin comforting him after he tore his groin his senior season, which diminished his NFL stock.

“It wasn’t just he cared about his players to help him win games,” said Dunn, now in training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars. “He cared about his guys even after they left. That’s one of the biggest things about Coach Durkin, I just have so much respect for that. I know plenty of other coaches who might be all talk when it comes to stuff like that.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Fantasy football beginner’s guide: The best draft picks for Rounds 1-3

August 15, 2018 - 9:43am

You won’t win your fantasy league at the draft, but you can make it much more difficult to win a trophy if you don’t get your roster off to a strong start. One way to do that is to make sure you get maximum value out of your first three draft picks. And with a little strategic help, you can do exactly that.

According to ESPN, about a quarter of a fantasy team’s yearly point total (46 out of 182 points, on average) will be generated by the top three picks for your 16-man roster, illustrating their importance. We can go a step further and use our Draft Score metric — a formula that rates a player from 0 to 100 based on 2018 point projections, strength of schedule and injury risk, with higher scores indicating better fantasy football players — along with the Perfect Draft to optimize those early picks to make sure you’re getting the most production each week.

Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to do the mathematical gymnastics yourself. Here’s a round-by-round road map the three most important picks for every slot in a 12-team, point-per-reception (PPR) league, including contingency plans if a specific player isn’t available.

Note: Occasionally throughout this article we refer to how likely a player is to be available at a specific draft position. Those percentages come from the Fantasy Football Calculator’s scenario calculator, a dynamic look based on where players are being selected in mock drafts. The percentages change with new mock drafts. The percentages listed are as of Aug. 14.

Pick 1: RB/WR/TE

Start things off right with the best fantasy football player on the board, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell led the league in carries (321) and touches (406) producing 1,946 yards from scrimmage with 11 total touchdowns. He’s difficult to bring down, averaging 2.6 yards per carry after contact with 52 broken tackles (sixth-most) in 2017, and no player is projected to score more points than Bell in 2018.

At the turn, there won’t be many viable wideout options available. However, per Fantasy Football Calculator there is a 70 percent chance Mike Evans is available. If he is, grab him. He caught 71 of 136 targets for 1,001 yards and five touchdowns in 2017, and that included a sparkling 7-for-8 with two touchdowns on catchable targets traveling at least 20 yards in the air. If Evans isn’t there, Adam Thielen or Larry Fitzgerald are viable replacements.

Fitzgerald, who turns 35 at the end of August, is coming off three straight seasons with at least 100 catches, 1,000 yards and six touchdowns, joining Antonio Brown, an early first-round pick in PPR leagues, as the only wideouts to meet or exceed those marks in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

With the third pick look for tight end Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski, in that order. Only tight ends Jimmy Graham (36 percent of team targets) and Kyle Rudolph (28 percent) were targeted more often in the red zone than Kelce (26 percent) was last season. Gronkowski ranked fifth (24 percent). There is a risk in drafting Gronkowski — the injury experts at Sports Injury Predictor see Gronkowski missing almost five games this season — but with 22 players set to come off the board before your Round 4 pick, it makes sense here.

Pick 2: RB/WR/WR

You might get lucky and still have a chance at Bell with the second-overall pick. If not, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is a great consolation prize. He features prominently in the rushing (279 carries in 2017) and passing game (87 targets) for the Rams and is a true three-down back, carrying the ball 54 percent of the time on third down, the third-highest workload at the position last season.

It’s possible A.J. Green is available (21 percent chance) in the second round but don’t be afraid to call out for Thielen or Fitzgerald, either. Thielen averaged 2.3 yards per route run in 2017, the seventh-most at the position, and was successful on all 10 catchable deep throws last season.

Evans could be lingering in the third round (a surprisingly high 43 percent chance) but Doug Baldwin (pending his health) or Stefon Diggs are also solid additions to the roster. I would, however, advocate diversification and avoid adding both Vikings (Thielen and Diggs) to the same team.

Pick 3: RB/WR/WR

Take whoever is left out of Bell, Gurley and David Johnson. Some are discounting Johnson due to last year’s injury, but he is looking like the same back who pummeled the league in 2016 to the tune of 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns, both league-leading metrics for those categories.

Evans is your top pick in the second round unless Green got passed over by the owners in front of you. In Round 3 it’s best to double down on the receiver position and Diggs is the prize you seek.

Diggs had a career-high eight touchdowns in 2017 while averaging 1.9 yards per route run for the Vikings. Four of those touchdowns were on deep throws and two were running routes from the slot, making him one of the most versatile receivers in the game.

Pick 4: RB/RB/RB

This strategy may be controversial, but it makes sense, particularly in leagues with a flex position that would allow you to start that third running back. You will likely have a choice between Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott, who followed up his stellar rookie campaign in 2016 with 1,252 yards and nine total touchdowns in an abbreviated season (due to suspension). Plus, he gets to line up behind the second-best offensive line per Pro Football Focus.

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It’s tempting to grab a wideout with one of the next two picks, yet the players available aren’t more valuable than the options at running back. Green might be there but if you have the chance to solidify one position with Devonta Freeman then make it happen.

Freeman carried the ball 196 times and caught 36 passes in 14 games for the Atlanta Falcons last year, totaling 1,182 yards from scrimmage with eight total touchdowns. And like Elliott, he has the benefit of running behind one of the most-talented offensive lines in football.

There will be second- and third-tier wideouts available later in the draft so don’t be bashful about selecting a running back — Joe Mixon, LeSean McCoy or Derrick Henry — in the third round.

McCoy is getting older but he had 16 rushes of 15 or more yards last season, tying with Alex Collins for the second-most in the NFL. A murky and unsavory situation involving an assault on his former girlfriend does carry some risk, however.

Pick 5: WR/TE/RB

Unless someone went off script, superstar wideout Antonio Brown should be available here. If he is, rejoice in having the best wide receiver in the game. If he isn’t, congrats, you just landed a top-four running back.

Brown will still be a great pick up: he caught 101 of 163 targets for a league-leading 1,533 yards last season, reaching the end zone nine times for the Steelers. Only Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons produced more yards per route run.

Continue taking pass-catchers with the second pick, especially if Kelce is available. He carries less risk than Gronkowski and has been targeted 103 or more times in each of the last three seasons. Kelce is also a favorite target for the Chiefs in the red zone (team-high 28 percent of targets).

In the third round, focus on a high-workload back like Jordan Howard of the Chicago Bears. Howard went over 1,100 yards for the second time in as many years while increasing his touchdown total from seven to nine. And if you dig breakaway speed, focus on Howard’s 15 runs of 15 yards or more in 2017, the fourth-most in the NFL that year.

Pick 6: RB/WR/WR

Dual-threat running back Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints provides a ton of value in PPR leagues. The third-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie after totaling 1,554 yards from scrimmage with 13 total touchdowns. No running back produced more yards per route run than Kamara did last season (2.8). And he should get off to a fast start with teammate Mark Ingram serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy.

In Round 2, A.J. Green should be available. The 30-year-old caught 75 of 143 targets in 2017 for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns, gaining a robust 2.1 yards per route run per the game charters at Pro Football Focus.

Add another receiver in Round 3, looking for T.Y Hilton, Diggs or Thielen to round out your first three picks. Hilton would be a coup, especially if quarterback Andrew Luck is healthy. From 2015 to 2016, Hilton was targeted a team-high 26 percent of the time with Luck under center, the same as the next two most-targeted receivers, wideout Andre Johnson (14 percent) and tight end Coby Fleener (12 percent), combined.

Pick 7: WR/WR/WR

This is the perfect spot to use the Zero RB strategy, which advocates steering clear of running backs until the fifth or sixth round of a draft. The top five running backs will be gone compared to just one wideout, Brown, leaving a bevy of top receivers in the pool.

Odell Beckham Jr. is the top choice here. Limited to just four games in 2017 due to an ankle injury, the Giants receiver looked like his “old self” in minicamp, per quarterback Eli Manning, and puts up big numbers when he is on the field. Since the NFL/AFL merger of 1970, only nine players have more receiving yards in their first four seasons than Beckham, and remember, he tallied just 302 yards in four games last season, his fourth year as a pro. Only six players have more receiving touchdowns to start a career.

Davante Adams is a great complement to Beckham in the second round. The 2017 Pro Bowler was targeted 117 times last year but just 46 of those came from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sidelined for nine games after suffering a broken collarbone in Week 6. Now that Rodgers is back under center, and former top target Jordy Nelson is in Oakland, it could be a big year for Adams in 2018.

Round out your receiving corps with Thielen, Baldwin, Fitzgerald or Demaryius Thomas.

Pick 8: RB/RB/RB

There is an argument to be made — I should know, I made it — that warrants selecting rookie Saquon Barkley in the top five of the first round. It’s a bold strategy, although considering his ability to run the ball (per Sports Info Solutions, 1,658 of his 2,767 rushing yards over the past two seasons occurred after contact) and catch passes out of the backfield either as a wideout or slot receiver, it makes sense. Since 2000, a running back who gets 301 or more opportunities with the ball ends the fantasy football season somewhere between the third and 15th most productive back of the year.

Barkley’s stock has gone up over the past few weeks, and there is a chance he isn’t available at this point of the draft. If that’s the case, look for Kamara or Melvin Gordon to be your first choice of the draft.

Keep the momentum going at the position with either Christian McCaffrey or Freeman in the second round followed by Jerick McKinnon (keep your eye on a preseason calf strain), McCoy or Jay Ajayi in the third.

McCaffrey touched the ball 222 times as a rookie for the Carolina Panthers (117 carries and 80 catches on 113 targets), averaging 2.1 yards per carry after contact. Plus, Jonathan Stewart is now with the New York Giants, giving McCaffrey a chance to pick up a share of the team-high 18 goal-to-go carries Stewart had for the Panthers in 2017.

Pick 9: RB/WR/RB

There will be a lot of high-profile names off the board by the time this first pick is made, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be had. Los Angeles Chargers Melvin Gordon is a building block for any fantasy squad and you can expect his production in 2018 to be close to what he produced last season: 1,581 yards from scrimmage with 12 total touchdowns. Seven of those came in the red zone, so you don’t have to worry about another player vulturing those scores, either.

In Round 2, there is a small chance Julio Jones is available (25 percent) but you’re more likely to be choosing between Michael Thomas and Keenan Allen. Of those two, Allen is the more likely to fall to you in this spot, and that’s OK, because Allen had the third-most red-zone targets in the NFL last season.

Follow up that pick with a running back in Round 3. Ajayi should certainly be there, along with Collins and Henry. Ajayi split time between Miami and Philadelphia in 2017 and, according to coach Doug Pederson, he’s “going into camp as the No. 1 guy.” That’s great, and deserving, news for Ajayi, who averaged 3.6 yards per carry after contact in an Eagles uniform during the second-half of the season.

Pick 10: WR/WR/QB

Targets are the lifeblood of fantasy football receivers, and no wideout gets more opportunities with the football than DeAndre Hopkins. In 2017, his 174 targets led the league and accounted for more than a third of the team’s targets during the season. No other receiver had a share over 29 percent.

Next up is either Jones or Thomas in the second round. Both get a lot of looks from their quarterbacks and both ranked in the Top 5 for yards per route run last season.

There will be a lot of running backs off the board by the time you get to your third pick so don’t be shy about getting the best fantasy football quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers was limited to just seven games in 2017 but when healthy he is routinely in the top echelon of passers. In 2016, at 33 years old, he threw for 4,428 yards and a league-leading 40 touchdowns with rates similar to that pace last year before a broken collar bone derailed his season in Week 6.

Pick 11: RB/RB/WR

Expect seven, maybe eight, running backs to be off the board at this time plus two or three of the top receivers. It’s tempting to go for a wideout here since there are so many running backs taken but the chances of a starting-caliber rusher falling to you in Round 3 are remote, at best. That’s why you should target Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette with your first- and second-round picks.

Cook’s debut was obscured by injury — 354 yards and two touchdowns on the ground over four games — yet as the lead back in an offense that generated over two points per drive (eighth in the NFL) last season he deserves considerations. And that was before the Vikings added Pro Bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Fournette’s rookie campaign produced 1,342 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns behind the eighth-best run-blocking unit per Pro Football Focus.

Since the first two picks from this slot are running backs, it pays to grab a receiver in the third round. Tyreek Hill will be available, but this is perhaps a bit higher than he should go based on the team’s change at quarterback (Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes II, the 10th overall pick in 2017) and how often Hill relies on deep passes to score (though Mahomes does have a big arm, the odds of sustaining that type of touchdown are shaky). If that’s too much risk for you to take, Thomas, Amari Cooper and Jarvis Landry are other options in this spot.

Pick 12: RB/WR/TE

As a rookie, Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing yards (1,327) with 11 total touchdowns in 2017, touching the ball 325 times. He might not get the ball as often in 2018, but his efficiency out of the backfield will keep him as one of the most-productive fantasy players in the draft. Since 2008, the only rookie running back to achieve a higher ratio of PPR fantasy points to touches than Hunt was Elliott in 2016.

As mentioned before, Thomas gets a high target share from quarterback Drew Brees — Brees threw the ball to Thomas 149 times in 2017 (sixth-most) — but he also gets the highest rate of catchable throws from his passer than any other wideout in the NFL, per Sports Info Solutions. Over 81 percent of throws to Thomas have been classified as “catchable,” explaining why Thomas was able to be so productive in his first two seasons.

Categories: All Denver News.

Investigators pick through debris from Denver apartment building explosion

August 15, 2018 - 9:20am

Investigators are back digging through rubble Wednesday morning following a Tuesday afternoon explosion in Denver’s Baker neighborhood that injured nine and left a multi-complex home in shambles.

Denver police said on Twitter that northbound Santa Fe Drive was closed  from 3rd to 4th Avenue during the investigation.

“We’re trying to get to the very center of where the fire took place or the explosion,” said Greg Pixley, Denver Fire Department spokesman. “It could have been one or the other. Our investigation will help us determine that.”

Crews are working to make sure as they search through debris, they’re doing so without disturbing any possible evidence that might be needed if there’s a criminal case, Pixley said.

Pixley confirmed the fire department received a report of a natural gas explosion in the 400 block of Santa Fe Drive, which investigators are using as a key or clue to help work toward that determination.

“We can’t say at this point without a shadow of a doubt that is what took place, but we are using that in addition to other clues and statements,” Pixley said.

Seven injured in the explosion were across the street from the blast and were treated and released at the scene. Firefighters rescued one woman from the rubble who was in stable condition on Tuesday. One victim was in critical condition Tuesday.

Cadaver dogs sniffing through piles of debris didn’t find additional victims buried.

“We were lucky,” Pixley said. “We are hoping there are no more in the rubble, but as we go through this investigation which will involve an excavation of some of the debris, there is still the potential.”

Pixley said they have not received any reports of missing people.

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Xerox spinoff to lay off 410 employees in Colorado Springs, continuing trend of cutting jobs in Colorado

August 15, 2018 - 9:15am

A New Jersey-based telecom company will soon lay off 410 workers in Colorado Springs, according to notice filed with state labor officials last week.

Conduent Commercial Solutions LLC sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment on Friday that attributed the permanent cuts coming to its office at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road to “a change in business conditions.” The letter did not elaborate.

The cuts include 361 customer service workers, 32 customer service supervisors, six training staffers and five administrators. They will all go into effect at once on or around Oct. 12, the letter says.

Conduent, headquartered in Florham Park, N.J., is a commercial services company that works with businesses and government entities on improve digital interactions with customers and citizens. It spun off from Xerox Corp. in 2017 and local job cuts have continued to pile up since then.

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In July of last year, Conduent laid off 244 workers at a facility in Highlands Ranch two years after Xerox hired 300 people to work there. That came after Conduent closed a call center in Greeley in March 2017, eliminating 99 jobs. Xerox cut 85 jobs at an Aurora healthcare office in mid 2016.

Conduent posted an opening for a software engineer position in Colorado Springs online on Aug. 6. The company has 2.5-star rating on GlassDoor.com.

Categories: All Denver News.

Update: Aurora police take armed carjacking suspects into custody after manhunt

August 15, 2018 - 9:02am

Aurora police located multiple armed carjacking suspects and took them into custody after a brief manhunt near a Montbello hotel.

The department announced at 9:41 a.m. that they were searching for the suspects near the Embassy Suites northeast of Denver. Both Aurora and Denver police combed the area near North Havana Street and Interstate 70.

About 45 minutes later, the department said it had all suspects in custody and that there were no further updates at the time.

The Denver County Jail, the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility and the Lincoln College of Technology were near the area of the search.

UPDATE: All suspects are in custody. No further updates. https://t.co/WCdG9CwNiu

— Aurora Police Dept (@AuroraPD) August 15, 2018

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Location is approximate.

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FBI, CBI join search for pregnant mom, 2 daughters last seen in Frederick

August 15, 2018 - 8:45am
Colorado Bureau of Investigation via TwitterFrom left are Shannan Watts, Bella Watts and Celeste Watts.

The FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation are now involved in the search for a pregnant  woman and her two young daughters last seen in Frederick, according to a Wednesday morning update from Frederick Police Department.

Shannan Watts, 34, and her 3- and 4-year-old daughters Bella and Celeste “Cece” were declared endangered and missing by CBI on Tuesday.

Watts is described as 5 foot, 5 inches tall and 148 pounds with hazel eyes and black hair. Bella is 3 foot, 6 inches tall and 40 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. Celeste is 3 feet tall and 37 pounds with hazel eyes and blonde hair.

The children may have medical concerns, according to police.

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Anybody with this information about the disapperance is encouraged to contact Detective Dave Baumhover at 303-652-4222 or dbaumhover@frederickco.gov or the Frederick Police Department at 720-382-5700.

Categories: All Denver News.

Austin City Council to again try for MLS stadium vote

August 15, 2018 - 8:35am

AUSTIN, Texas — Another day, another scheduled vote on the future of pro soccer in Texas and Ohio.

The Austin City Council is scheduled to decide Wednesday whether to move ahead with a stadium plan that could prompt Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew to leave its home city after 22 years.

Austin delayed the vote a week, but is expected to make a decision whether to enter formal and final negotiations with Crew owner Anthony Precourt.

Precourt bought the Crew in 2013 and has been pushing for a move to Austin since 2017. If successful, the move would uproot a bedrock MLS franchise and give the league its third Texas team. The Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas are the others.

The Austin metropolitan area has just over 2 million people and remains the largest city in the country without a major sports franchise

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The vote is expected to be close among the 11 council members. The stadium plan is strongly supported by Austin Mayor Steven Adler, but some council members have resisted giving Precourt 24 acres to build a privately funded, 20,000-seat stadium. Critics call it a giveaway by Texas’ capital city and argue Austin could better use the space for parkland or affordable housing.

Precourt initially wanted downtown space for a picturesque venue on the river. Austin refused to make such a deal and instead has considered a tract of land near new retail and condominium developments north of downtown.

Some Columbus fans are fighting to keep their team at home. The fan group Save the Crew has gathered thousands of future ticket pledges and produced its own design for a potential new stadium in downtown Columbus, while hoping new investors will offer to buy the Crew.

Precourt also faces a lawsuit from the state and city seeking to block the move. It cites an Ohio law that owners of teams that use tax-supported facilities and accept state financial assistance must give at least six months’ notice and allow local investors the chance to buy the team. The law was enacted after the NFL’s Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996.

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