Countdown to Kickoff: 18

We’re down to 18 days until the 2011 NFL season begins with the Thursday night game between the Saints and Packers. And 18 also happens to be the number of receptions last season by Denver’s Brandon Lloyd that went for 25 or more yards. Lloyd and the Broncos open their season on Monday night against the Raiders. It’s the debut of run-first coach John Fox in Denver, so it will be interesting to see if Lloyd is as busy as he was last year under pass-happy Josh McDaniels.

Lloyd’s 18 receptions of 25-plus yards was tied for the second best single-season total in the last 10 years, topped only by Steve Smith of the Panthers, who had 19 such catches in 2008.

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