Tagged in: Denver Broncos

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley takes next step in recovery, completes first contact practice

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Kenny Golladay participated in a padded practice Thursday, and Barkley took some contact seemingly without incident for the first time since tearing the ACL in his right knee 11 months ago.

It was the latest step in Barkley’s progression and a mandatory one before he gets into a match, according to coach Joe Judge. The Giants open the campaign Sept. 12 versus the Denver Broncos.

“We did a normal practice safely, and just talked to the guys and [they] gave me some good shots,” Barkley said afterward. “But it’s [about] route running and running routes just to get me back in the flow of things, so I guess you could say yes [I took my first hit].

“But [Thursday] felt good at practice and practicing with everyone on the team. Think that was definitely needed. Just grateful to be out there and just getting ready for the season.”

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Barkley will have to get through another fully padded practice next week before likely getting cleared by doctors.

The Giants don’t practice again until Monday.

Barkley is trending in the right direction and has a strong chance to play Week 1 versus Denver, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. There is optimism, but the Giants have been cautious and still could hold him back. It will ultimately be a team-driven decision.

“This whole process I’ve been a team player listening to the doctors, listening to the coaches, listening to the trainers, knowing that they have my best interest at heart,” Barkley said. “Whatever they feel that is best for me and best for the team, I’m willing to do.”

Barkley was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 9. He worked his way into live drills for the first time last week during joint practices with the New England Patriots while wearing a red no-contact jersey.

On Thursday, he shed the red jersey for the first time in live drills. Did he feel like his old self out on the field?

“I guess. I feel good. Taking it one day at a time,” Barkley said. “I’m just not even trying to think about do I look like my old self. I’m a very confident player. I know whenever I’m able to get back out there — maybe it might be one quarter, maybe it might be one play — whatever the opportunity is, when I’m back out there, I know I’m going to be able to go out there and be who I am and play how I am.

“Right now, I’m not focusing on if I’m making cuts, saying, ‘Is that how it was before?’ I’m focusing on getting in football shape, just living in the moment, enjoying the moment and playing football again.”

There isn’t much time left. The Giants have 10 days and just four practices before their season opener. Only one is expected to be with full pads. Getting through that would help Barkley inch nearer to being ready for Week 1.

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New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley ‘doing well’ in ACL rehab, unsure of status for start of season

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley says he is “doing well” in his rehab from a torn ACL, but won’t put a timetable on his return or provide any public assurance that he will be back for the beginning of the new season.

The Giants open the regular season versus the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12, some 11 months after the major surgery on Barkley’s right knee. He also had MCL and meniscus damage.

“You know me. I’m going to take it one day at a time. Just come in with my head down and ready to work,” Barkley said Wednesday after spending the second day of mandatory minicamp inside the team facility while most of his Giants teammates practiced.

“It’s going to be whenever my body tells me I’m ready or I’m able to show everyone I’m ready again. That’s when I’m going to be able to go out there and hopefully be elite, what I was before but even better.”

This is the approach Barkley and the Giants are taking. They aren’t going to set any potentially unrealistic expectations for his return, thus putting any unnecessary pressure on him to get back on the field.

The tight-lipped Barkley wouldn’t even go into detail about where he is in the rehab process, although sources have told ESPN recently that there have been no significant setbacks and that he has progressed to jump-cutting. “Looks good,” one of the sources said.

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Barkley was also positive about the progress he’s making, even if he was unwilling to publicly provide the full details.

“I just expect to come in every single day and work hard, work my butt off, listen to the coaches, listen to the trainers, listen to the doctors,” he said. “I’m going to take it one day at a time. Whenever I’m able to, I guess you can say, go out there and participate with the team again, I’ll be ready.

“I’m doing well. I’m doing pretty well. Just taking one day at a time. Just listening to the trainers from [senior vice president of medical services] Ronnie [Barnes] to [director of rehabilitation] Leigh [Weiss] to all the way down and still being in conversations with [surgeon] Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache and [head team physician] Dr. [Scott] Rodeo. Just listening to them and taking it one day at a time.”

It has become clear in recent weeks that the Giants are going to take it slowly with the Pro Bowl running back. They are looking at this situation with a long-range view that prioritizes his well-being and future over the short-term gain of being ready for training camp or the start of the campaign.

Barkley is not expected to be full-go for the start of training camp, a source told ESPN last month. They aren’t going to put him on the field in live situations until he’s 100%. It’s entirely possible that might not be until October.

Barkley seems to be on board with the plan, although he admitted it’s difficult to be patient.

So for now and likely most of this summer, he will just have to envision how he fits into the offense alongside newcomers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph and several others.

Free-agent acquisition Devontae Booker is filling Barkley’s role in the meantime.

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Denver Broncos sign right tackle Bobby Massie after injury to Ja’Wuan James

In the wake of Ja’Wuan James’ season-ending injury, the Denver Broncos on Wednesday signed Bobby Massie to play right tackle.

According to Massie’s representatives, Massie agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal. The 31-year-old has started 110 matches in his career and figures to be the Broncos’ starter at right tackle when they open the season Sept. 12 versus the New York Giants.

James suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury early last week. The Broncos on Monday will start phase 2 of their offseason program, which will permit some limited on-field work for players in attendance.

Massie was a player the Broncos were interested in signing in 2016, when he joined the Chicago Bears in free agency.

Massie spent the past five seasons with the Bears after playing his first four years in the league with the Arizona Cardinals.

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Massie missed the last eight games of the 2020 regular season because of a knee injury but had returned to practice before the end of the season. He did not play in the Bears’ wild-card loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The Broncos have largely been vexed at right tackle over the past eight years.

At least two players have started games at the position in each of the past eight seasons, as the Broncos used four different players at right tackle in 2020 and 2017.

The Broncos have not had a player start all 16 games of a season at right tackle since Orlando Franklin did it in 2012. James, who opted out last season because of concerns over COVID-19, has played a combined 63 snaps over three games — all in 2019 — since he signed a four-year, $51 million deal with the Broncos in March of that year.

James stated during the 2019 season he had suffered a torn meniscus as well as a torn MCL in separate games that season.

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QB Cam Newton returning to New England Patriots on 1-year deal

Cam Newton is re-signing with the Patriots on a one-year deal, sources have confirmed to ESPN.

The contract is worth up to $13.6 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. About $6 million of the deal is tied to incentives, a source told ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Newton posted a video on Instagram later Friday with a caption that read in part, “Run it back!! Chapter 2.”

Newton, who will turn 32 in May, hoped to return to New England after signing a modest one-year deal with the team in 2020. On the “I Am Athlete” podcast in late February, he said he would be open to another one-year deal in New England. “I’m getting tired of changing (teams),” the quarterback stated.

“I am at a point in my career where I know way more than I did last year. Yes, I would go back.”

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In 2020, Newton was 242-of-368 for 2,657 yards passing, with 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But while that production didn’t meet his personal standard — in part because the receivers and tight ends around him weren’t high-caliber options — he was effective as a rusher, with 592 yards on 137 attempts (4.3 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns.

Newton had started hot in 2020 after joining the Patriots in late June, but after testing positive for COVID-19 in early October, he said it was a challenge for him to catch up to the pace of the team’s ever-evolving offense.

His performance dipped notably, and he said it reinforced how important it is to be with a new team in the offseason.

The Patriots went 7-8 with Newton at the helm and concluded 7-9, missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.

Before joining the Patriots, Newton, the No. 1 pick in 2011, was released by the Carolina Panthers after missing 14 games in 2019 with a Lisfranc injury and the final two matches of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury that also required surgery.

He spent nine seasons with the Panthers and was named the NFL MVP in 2015, when he accounted for 45 total touchdowns in the regular season and led Carolina to Super Bowl 50, where it lost to the Denver Broncos.

Newton, who holds most of Carolina’s career passing records, has thrown for 31,698 yards and 190 touchdowns with 118 interceptions and has rushed for 5,398 yards and 70 touchdowns.

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Denver Broncos placing franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons

The Denver Broncos are placing the franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons for the second successive season, it was announced Friday.

Simmons, who was poised to become an unrestricted free agent, becomes the first player to be tagged this offseason. The Broncos now have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal.

“Designating Justin with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal,” general manager George Paton said in a statement Friday. We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come.”

NFL teams have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to place the franchise tag on their most valuable player.

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Simmons, the Broncos’ third-round pick in the 2016 draft, played on the franchise player tag in 2020, worth $11.4 million.

He concluded with 96 tackles and five interceptions. It was his third consecutive 90-tackle season. He has consistently been an active player in run defense along the line of scrimmage with the versatility to match up on a variety of players in coverage.

The 27-year-old has the combination of on-field performance and off-field community engagement, given that he has played every defensive snap for each of the past three campaigns and was the Broncos’ nominee this past season for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

When Paton was hired in January, Broncos president of football operations John Elway said trying to re-sign Simmons was “one of the biggest things” Paton had on his to-do list.

Simmons has consistently been one of the most active players in the community and one of the team’s leading voices in social justice initiatives.

He has acquired the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award, given out by the Denver chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America each season to a Broncos player to recognize professionalism and depth in interactions with the media. Simmons is the only three-time winner of the award since it started in 2006.

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Denver Broncos reach deal with Minnesota Vikings’ George Paton to be general manager

John Elway and the Denver Broncos wanted George Paton to be the team’s new general manager so much, Paton was given a longer deal than Elway ever had in the same job.

Paton, who has spent the past 13 years with the Minnesota Vikings, has agreed to a six-year deal to be the Broncos’ general manager, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Broncos informed Paton’s hiring on Wednesday but did not disclose terms.

Paton had spent most of Tuesday in Denver for what was a second interview for him with team officials, and had returned to Minnesota Tuesday night.

Elway had promised to find the “best candidate, the best person” for the job. The Broncos also interviewed New Orleans Saints assistant general manager Terry Fontenot, Chicago Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, the New England Patriots’ Dave Ziegler and the Broncos’ director of college scouting Brian Stark.

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“Early in this process, it became clear why George has been such a coveted GM candidate for so many years. He is a proven evaluator who knows every detail of leading football operations,” Elway said in a statement.

“With his experience in all aspects of the job — the college and pro sides, salary cap, trades, working with the head coach and bringing the staff together — George is more than ready to succeed in this role. George has waited and worked for the right opportunity, which shows that he is smart and serious about winning. We’re thrilled to name George Paton as general manager of the Denver Broncos.”

Paton and Fontenot, who did his interview virtually because the Saints are still in the playoffs, were each interviewed a second time Tuesday.

Elway, who has been the Broncos’ top football decision-maker since 2011, announced Jan. 4 he was stepping away from the day-to-day personal operations but would stay as president of football operations at least through the final year of his current contract.

Elway also said he didn’t think the team’s current ownership battle between Pat Bowlen’s children would affect the Broncos’ ability to secure what he believed would be a top candidate. Paton’s six-year deal would likely bridge any potential change in the team’s ownership in the coming years.

Paton has control over the team’s roster, free agency and the draft. The Broncos have missed the playoffs in five consecutive campaigns since the Super Bowl 50 victory and finished this past season 5-11.

The team faces contract option decisions on linebacker Von Miller and Kareem Jackson, and Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons is scheduled to be among the team’s unrestricted free agents. A decision about the plan at quarterback also is among the front-burner issues for the Broncos.

The team has one of the youngest rosters in the league and enough salary-cap room to participate in the open market. Paton is widely considered among the top talent evaluators on the Vikings’ personnel staff, and his exit leaves Minnesota with a big void in the front office. Ryan Monnens, the current director of pro scouting, could be in line to replace Paton this offseason.

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Chuck Pagano to retire, while Chicago Bears likely to retain Matt Nagy, Ryan Pace

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has decided to retire, league sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

The Bears are likely to keep head coach Matt Nagy and general manger Ryan Pace, sources said.

Pagano, 60, spent just two seasons in Chicago after a six-year run as head coach of the Colts. He was hired by the Bears on Jan. 11, 2019, to replace decorated defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos.

In Pagano’s first season, the Bears’ defense lead the NFC in points permitted per game (18.6) and ranked second in the conference in net yards per game (324.1).

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Chicago’s defense again appeared to be the club’s strength in the early parts of the 2020 season, but the group’s performance leveled off as the year wore on. Chicago ended the regular season 15th in run defense and 11th versus the pass as the Bears (8-9) backed into the playoffs in Week 17.

Chicago was eliminated from the postseason by the New Orleans Saints in a 21-9 loss Sunday in the Superdome.

In six seasons as head coach of the Colts, Pagano went 53-43 in the regular season and 3-3 in the playoffs.

The fates of Nagy and Pace had been unclear after the Bears lost eight of 11 to end the year and concluded 1-7 versus playoff teams in 2020.

Nagy — named NFL Coach of the Year in 2018 — has guided the Bears to two postseason berths in the past three years. Pace just completed his sixth year as Chicago’s general manager.

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Denver Broncos’ Von Miller considered opting out of season

Dozens of players have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, and Denver Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller considered doing so as well.

The eight-time Pro Bowler was the second NFL player to reportedly test positive for the coronavirus back in May, but he feels as though the job the Broncos are doing to keep their players safe is enough for him to feel ready to return to the field.

“I weighed the positives and negatives and came to my own decision and felt like I could play,” Miller said during a video conference, per the Denver Post. “The job the Broncos are doing to keep us safe was enough for me to not opt out.”

Miller stated earlier this offseason that he was “shocked” to learn that he had tested positive for COVID-19 since he had been taking safety provisions seriously.  “It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus,” Miller said.

“Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite.”

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The former first-round pick was an early advocate for daily testing and said that it was the key to the NFL being able to host a safe and successful season. The league ended up taking Miller’s advice, as players are required to register multiple negative tests before they are permitted to take their physicals and hit the practice field. 

If there was one positive thing to come from his COVID-19 experience, Miller said that it has definitely started conversations among his teammates in the locker room. Since he takes it seriously, Denver’s other players will as well. 

“From my teammates, I get all types of questions about the virus,” Miller said. “I feel like it’s me pushing (the conversation) out there and saying, ‘This thing is serious. It’s very, very serious.’ … We see the types of things happening in baseball (with outbreaks) and we just don’t want that to happen in the NFL.”

While Miller will not be opting out this year, players have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to opt out of the 2020 season.

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Broncos star Von Miller tests positive for coronavirus

Super Bowl hero Von Miller of the Denver Broncos has tested positive for the coronavirus after having come down with flu-like symptoms, the player and the team stated Thursday.

Miller, 31, a superstar linebacker, “elected to share his diagnosis publicly to emphasize that anyone can be afflicted with coronavirus,” according to a team statement.

“It’s true,” Miller told NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver. “I’ve just been here in the crib, and I started to get a little cough. You know, I have asthma, and I started getting a little cough a couple days ago. My girlfriend, she told me when I was asleep, she said, my cough, it didn’t sound normal.”

Miller stated he’s still in a good mood and not in any obvious pain.

“I’m not sure what’s going on, but I tell you what, I’m in good spirits. I’m still Von,” he told KUSA. “I’m not feeling sick or hurting or anything like that.”

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The Broncos stated he’s the first person in their organization to have tested positive for the virus.

“Von is doing well and recovering at home in self-isolation,” the team said. “He remains under the care of team doctors, who are following all coronavirus treatment procedures to ensure a safe environment for Von and our community.”

Miller is among only a handful of defensive players ever to win the Most Valuable Player award in pro football’s ultimate game, leading his Broncos to a 24-10 triumph over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016.

Miller was asked April 6 how he was adjusting his offseason schedule, given the restrictions of Colorado’s stay-at-home guidelines. He gave no indication that he was ill, said he felt good about his offseason and said he had canceled his travel plans for the foreseeable future, including a trip to the Kentucky Derby.

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Broncos Derek Wolfe expected to miss rest of season

Defensive lineman Derek Wolfe will miss the rest of the season for the Denver Broncos after dislocating his elbow during Sunday’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. The injury came in the fourth quarter and after Wolfe sacked Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers two times during the game.

“I don’t know that he’ll be able to play again this year,” Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said.

The coach said it’s possible Wolfe will be placed on the injured reserve list.

“The time involved with that healing and where we are in the season probably precludes him from playing anymore,” Fangio said.

Despite being in his 8th season, and only playing 12 games, Wolfe had a career high 7 sacks in 2019.

Wolfe is in the final year of his contract with the Broncos.

Fangio praised Wolfe in his weekly news conference on Monday for his “resiliency.”

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“He was just solid and played good. He was where he was supposed to be with the right mindset and he played physical,” Fangio said. “I think he had a career high in sacks, which for a guy at this stage in his career speaks to his resiliency and the work that he’s put in and the effort that he was playing with.”

It was the first time Miller had missed a game since 2013, when he suffered a torn ACL in the second-to-last game of the regular season and then missed the regular-season finale and the Broncos’ three playoff matches, including Super Bowl XLVIII.

Miller, wearing a brace on his left knee, went through a workout before Sunday’s game with Denver head trainer Vince Garcia looking on, and the decision was made to keep Miller out of the lineup versus the Chargers.

As far as whether Miller would play this week versus the Texans, Fangio said this Monday: “I do think there is a good chance he will be able to go this week.”

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