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Broncos to add Mike Shanahan to Ring of Honor in ’21

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The Denver Broncos have selected former head coach Mike Shanahan for their Ring of Honor, the team announced on Tuesday. Shanahan will be the franchise’s 34th Ring of Famer.

The ceremony is expected to be held next year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Shanahan spent 14 seasons as head coach of the Broncos, leading the team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles during the 1997 and 1998 seasons and finishing as the winningest coach in franchise history with 146 total wins. He also spent seven seasons as an assistant with Denver.

“Mike Shanahan is the greatest coach in Denver Broncos history and among the winningest coaches of all-time,” President and CEO Joe Ellis said in a team statement. “He brought an unmatched standard and intensity as head coach, leading this franchise to its first two Super Bowl wins and building the Broncos into perennial contenders. We are thrilled that Mike has now been elected to the Broncos’ Ring of Fame.”

Shanahan is one of seven head coaches in NFL history with more than 175 career wins and two Super Bowl titles joining Don Shula, Bill Belichick, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin.

Before coaching the Broncos, Shanahan coached the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988 and for four games of the 1989 season before being fired. He then spent 14 seasons with Broncos followed by four seasons with the Washington Redskins finishing with a career coaching record of 178-144.

Shanahan also captured a Super Bowl title as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers during the 1994 season.

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Sources — Arizona Cardinals lineman Marcus Gilbert opts out of 2020 NFL season

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Less than an hour after Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said he has not had discussions with players about opting out of the 2020 NFL season, the team had its first player choose not to play.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert has opted out, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Kingsbury said late last month that if Gilbert, who missed last season with an ACL injury, could start camp playing at the level that helped him establish a nine-year career, then he’s “going to slide right back in there at right.”

A little less than an hour before the news about Gilbert broke, Kingsbury was asked on a videoconference call whether he had talked with any players about opting out.

“I’ve not had those discussions,” Kingsbury said. “That’s obviously an area that we respect and understand every person in this league has to do what’s best for themselves and their family, and so I think you’ve seen the league is very understanding of that and want guys to do what they need to do in their own personal lives.

“I’ve not had those discussions yet but that’s something obviously we’re open to.”

Gilbert has not played a full regular season since 2015 — with his last four seasons riddled with injuries and suspensions. He’s finished the past two years on injured reserve, and he returned for 2020 on a one-year deal for $1.05 million.

Losing Gilbert, however, doesn’t hamper the Cardinals’ depth at right tackle.

They drafted Josh Jones out of Houston in the third round in April; have Justin Murray, who started 12 games at right tackle last season; and signed Kelvin Beachum, who Kingsbury said can play right or left tackle, in mid-July.

“We’re excited about that depth,” Kingsbury said. “I think we didn’t expect to have Josh around there in the third round. We had him rated a lot higher than that, so to pick him up there was huge.

“We feel like we’re in a lot better place this year to start the season than we were last year and that’s what you want to see. You want to see that type of progression, particularly with your offensive line.”

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49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo unfazed by criticism after Super Bowl

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo broke his offseason silence Tuesday and said that he was unfazed by criticism he received after Super Bowl LIV.

After the Niners’ fourth-quarter implosion against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, Garoppolo became a target based on his struggles down the stretch as San Francisco coughed up a 10-point lead in the final 10 minutes. That spurred speculation that the 49ers might be interested in Tom Brady, the six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback who happens to be from nearby San Mateo.

While the Niners never pursued Brady, they did have brief internal conversations about making that move, something general manager John Lynch has previously acknowledged.

Garoppolo said Tuesday that he was unfazed by the rumor mill.

“When all that was going on, you hear about it and things like that,” Garoppolo said. “But I really wasn’t too worried. I’m always confident in my play. I know what I put out there (last) season and everything like that. It’s all about being confident. It’s just part of the business. I’ve seen both sides of it so I’ve been there.”

Instead of worrying about being replaced, Garoppolo said he spent the most unique of offseasons evaluating his own play from last season and embracing the opportunity to go through an offseason with two healthy knees rather than rehabilitating.

Garoppolo installed a home gym, where he was able to continue working out, and entered this year’s training camp feeling much healthier than he did a year ago.

“It’s definitely night and day compared to where it was last year at this time,” Garoppolo said. “This time last year it was more so getting back into being in a live pocket, having live bullets flying around me and getting used to that, so we’re past that. I haven’t really thought about it in a long time… I think my knee is able to do whatever it needs to do at this point.”

Coming off that knee injury, Garoppolo was able to start all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2019. He threw for 3,978 yards, fourth most in Niners history, and completed 69.1% of his passes, which ranked fifth in the NFL. His 102.0 passer rating ranked eighth. He was also the only quarterback in the league to finish in the top five of the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passing touchdowns.

But Garoppolo also struggled with turnovers, throwing 13 interceptions in the regular season and three more in as many postseason games. In the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, Garoppolo went 3-of-11 for 36 yards with an interception and overthrew receiver Emmanuel Sanders for a potential game-winning touchdown in the closing moments.

All of that has made Garoppolo somewhat polarizing in the eyes of league observers. But Garoppolo, who turns 29 in October, believes as coach Kyle Shanahan does that he had a productive 2019 season and that his best football is still in front of him.

“I think having my first full season under my belt, coming off the ACL and everything like that, everything that went into that season, it’ll only help me going forward,” Garoppolo said. “So, I think in terms of being a quarterback, I still have a long way to go. I’m still relatively young for a quarterback in terms of playing time. I think as a quarterback, you got to get out there, play, get live action like that. I think having a full season under my belt will help me going forward.”

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Lions remove Matthew Stafford from COVID-19/reserve list, cite false positive

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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was removed from the COVID-19/reserve list Tuesday and placed back on the active roster after what the team called a false positive test.

Stafford appeared Saturday on the COVID-19/reserve list, which means a player either has taken a test that has come back positive or has been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Lions, in a statement released Tuesday, said Stafford never had COVID-19 and instead had a false positive test after two negative coronavirus tests last Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, on Friday, Stafford took a test that came back positive on Saturday.

His following three tests were all negative.

“To be clear, Matthew does NOT have COVID-19 and never has had COVID-19 and the test in question was a false-positive,” the Lions said in a statement. “Also, all of Matthew’s family have been tested and everyone is negative.”

Stafford was the first starting quarterback to go on the COVID-19/reserve list and, at the time, the eighth Detroit player on the list. Since then, tight end Isaac Nauta, starting slot corner Justin Coleman and Stafford have been removed from the list, leaving on it T.J. Hockenson, Kenny Golladay, Jalen Elliott, Arryn Siposs and Amani Oruwariye.

False positive tests, though, are something Lions players are paying attention to because of what it could mean to a team if it happened during the regular season, which could cause a player to miss a game.

“I mean, it’s one of those things that are going to be questionable for sure but at the end of the day we knew coming into this that there were going to be situations like this,” linebacker Jarrad Davis said. “It’s just something that we have to hope the NFL and NFLPA can continue to work at to, I guess, knock things out, knock situations out that are going to come up like this.

“Yeah, this might be the first one that we’ve heard about but I’m sure that there’s more that are going to happen. So we just got to, hopefully they come up with a better way or continue to work on the way that we’re doing it to test everybody and I’m confident that everything will work out how it needs to.”

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