FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2016, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian pitches the ball against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game, in Denver. The defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos need a win Sunday
Jack Dempsey, File
December 09, 2016

While these weren't exactly the footsteps of Peyton Manning that Trevor Siemian wanted to follow, the Denver Broncos' QB at least had a little fun over his sprained left foot that sidelined him last week.

While rookie Paxton Lynch was running the offense at practice, Siemian recreated Manning's famous photo from a year ago of the injured QB sitting at a hot tub with iPad in hand, one foot soaking and his helmet on so he could listen to the plays being called.

Siemian sent the side-by-side photos ( ) to Manning, who he said got a big kick out of it, before posting them on Twitter with the caption, ''This seemed to work out well for the last guy.''

While Manning was no Adonis, several followers did note that the five-time MVP looked more chiseled than Siemian.

''I'd like to go on record that Peyton was flexing in his picture,'' Siemian said. ''I'm getting a lot of heat that he looks stronger than me. So, I've got to clear that air.''


SHOT BLOCKER: Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap wasn't much of a scorer on the basketball court. He was in the game for one reason: Make the other team miss.

Dunlap was adept at blocking shots when he played basketball while growing up, a skill he's parlayed into the NFL. The 6-foot-6 lineman leads the team with 14 passes defensed, which is six more than any other NFL lineman. He had four of them during a 32-14 win over the Eagles last Sunday and caused a misdirected pass by Carson Wentz that was picked off.

''It's something you've kind of got to have a knack for,'' Dunlap said. ''It's a lot of timing.''

Dunlap learned the timing while playing defense around the rim.

''That was my specialty,'' Dunlap said. ''I didn't score a lot of points; I blocked a lot of points. I blocked shots and got rebounds.''

The NFL doesn't keep detailed statistics on passes defensed, so Dunlap's accomplishment can't be put into historical perspective.


TREADING WATER: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has been a nonfactor in his rookie season, with one reception for 15 yards. Only recently has he begun to see more significant action, playing 34 of 58 snaps at Detroit on Nov. 24, and 11 of 74 snaps against Dallas on Dec. 1. Though Treadwell wasn't targeted on any of Sam Bradford's 37 passes in that game against the Lions, he emerged with valuable experience.

''That game really helped me with my mental state, just feeling the game, going the actual speed of the game,'' said Treadwell, the 23rd overall pick in the draft out of Mississippi. ''I was competing every day in practice making plays, but once you're in the game it's a whole new edge of intensity that you have to play with.''

With wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen each having already established career highs in receptions and yards, and the re-emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson in the offense, the Vikings haven't been counting on Treadwell. But the lack of production has been startling for a first-rounder.

''Once the season gets here, there's not a lot of reps, especially for someone who might be behind a couple guys. The starters are usually the ones who take all of them. So, it's just hard for him to get time, but I think in the past couple weeks, he has really shown some flashes,'' Bradford said. ''And he's a guy that we feel like if we can get him involved and get him some targets, I think it would be good. I think the biggest thing for him is just experience and just getting out there and playing.''


CONCUSSION WATCH: One year after reaching the Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers have been plagued by concussions. Ten players have been in the concussion protocol since the start of the preseason, including quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly, both All-Pros in 2015.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he will spend more time this offseason analyzing head injuries and ways to prevent them - and hopes other will, too.

''To be very frank about it, I think it's very important that, not just me, but that other people in this industry try to get to understand it a little bit more,'' Rivera said. ''Because who knows? Maybe there's something that we're missing in terms of preparation. ... I don't know if there is an answer to it, but I think that if we are better educated, maybe we can spot things before they happen. Maybe there's something else we can do as coaches and professionals in this business to see if we can make a difference.''


AARON DONALD, CHAMPION: Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald is an Xbox champion.

Donald, a 2015 All-Pro, beat Seahawks star receiver Doug Baldwin in the championship of Microsoft's Xbox NFL Player Charity Challenge. They competed in Madden 17 on Xbox One for the chance to win $51,000 and Microsoft products for the charity of their choice.

The game wasn't as close as all the pregame trash talk would have projected, with Donald winning 20-9.

Helping Donald win were strong performances by rookie quarterback Jared Goff (passing for 245 yards and two touchdowns) and Tavon Austin, who had eight receptions for 124 yards. Donald also got a goal-line stand by the Rams' defense in the first half.

''Doug was a fierce competitor tonight, but I'm so thankful I was able to pull off a championship win and give back to the Make-A-Wish Foundation,'' Donald said.

''I had my shots in the game, but Aaron played well and I tip my cap to him,'' Baldwin added. ''Definitely a little disappointing that I wasn't able to bring it home for the Southern Youth Sports Association.''


AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Dave Campbell and Arnie Stapleton, and Sports Writers Joe Kay and Steve Reed contributed.


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