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Broncos turning to 2011 lockout offseason for direction – Denver Broncos Blog

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In almost every way, this offseason has been unlike any other for almost every player on the Denver Broncos‘ roster.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every part of the Broncos’ offseason, even as the team tries to implement a plan for training camp in the weeks to come. Other than workouts quarterback Drew Lock organized with a small group of teammates, the Broncos’ offseason was largely a virtual-only affair. Only the team’s recovering injured players spent any time at the team complex.

“And that part, it’s kind of like my rookie year, a lot like that year,” is how linebacker Von Miller put it in recent weeks. ” … Coming in for camp, getting on the field for the first time, it will be something like that year this year.”

Beyond the health protocols that will be in place whenever the Broncos’ players and coaches return to work, when it comes to practices, ramping up their conditioning and working through the playbook, the 2011 training camp may provide at least some direction.

That year a lockout by the NFL’s team owners washed out the offseason programs around the league. The two sides didn’t hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement until July 25th that summer and training camps opened only after the 132-day lockout ended.

“But we won’t be behind any more than anyone else is,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. “It’d be different if half the teams were shut down and half weren’t and luckily me and a bunch of the other coaches have had experience with the lockout in 2011. From a football standpoint, it’s very similar to that. … It so happens that in 2011 I was with the Niners then and we were a totally new staff where everything was new. We hadn’t even met our players and we didn’t meet our players until training camp started, and we did fine that year. I don’t see it as a big issue.”

Fangio was Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator in the 2011 season as Harbaugh, in his first year in that job, led the team to a 13-3 finish as the 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship Game to close out that season.

Only three Broncos were in the league that season — Miller, safety Kareem Jackson and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey — and only Miller was with the Broncos at the time. Miller and Casey were rookies while Jackson was entering his second season.

The Broncos also had a new coaching staff that season as John Fox had been hired in January of that year.

“We didn’t even meet the guys, really, until they came in after the CBA got signed — it was like a three-day sprint between the CBA was done and we opened camp, like hey let me introduce everybody, see you at practice in 20 minutes,” Fox said. “At that point, right in the beginning, your biggest thing is kind of conditioning and seeing where all of the guys are at in that regard — you didn’t want to practice and have a bunch of guys go down because you didn’t ramp it up the right way. Installing things, you just deal with timetable you have, but guys did have to cram for the test a little bit.”

In terms of football, the Broncos’ virtual meetings have put this year’s rookie class ahead of where Miller and the rest of the Broncos’ rookies were at this point in 2011. This year’s Broncos spent weeks in daily online meetings with coaches and teammates, with their position groups.

“What I can tell you is we have everybody where they’ll have all the tools they’ll need when they hit the field,” Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said. “We can’t tell you how it will be physically. We’ve just created ways to use film and create interaction, have them talking to each other. It’s a very big plus.”

“I feel like we’ll all have a good handle on what we’re doing when we get on the field,” linebacker Bradley Chubb said. “If I was a rookie right now, I think I’d feel like, after our virtual meetings and all that, I understood the basics of what we’re doing. I don’t think it will take too long for everybody to get in the flow on the field. It might be a little different if we didn’t have those meetings. I’ve talked to Von about [2011], I think that would have been tough as a rookie, just to jump in during camp and try to get it.”

Because of the health and safety protocols that are expected to be place when teams get the green light to open training camp, which will limit how the players meet and gather in the facility, there will be plenty to deal with unlike any other of their years in football.

“And practices might be different, how we do it, we’ll see,” Miller said. “But coming in without any practices, OTAs or anything like that, I’ve done that. At least I know what that looks like and the older guys like me will just help the younger guys. That’s how it has to be.”

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Tired of contract talk, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey leaves videoconference, only to return minutes later

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After growing frustrated with reporters and briefly walking out during a videoconference Tuesday, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey stated clearly that he is not spending time concerned about a contract extension as he enters the final season of his rookie deal.

“I’m worried about what I can worry about,” Ramsey said after initially avoiding a pointed question regarding his contract situation. “I’m controlling what I can control.”

The No. 5 pick in 2016, Ramsey is scheduled to earn $13.7 million this season.

It’s expected the All-Pro cornerback is on track to earn a record-breaking extension after the Rams traded two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire him last October.

When asked Tuesday whether it felt important to him to have a new contract signed before the season opener in September, Ramsey responded, “My agent and the front office, they’ll handle all that.”

When asked the same question in a follow-up, Ramsey provided the same answer, then added a quick quip, “C’mon now… You got to take the answer I give you, man!”

A third attempted follow-up about how he felt regarding his contract situation resulted in Ramsey cutting off the question.

“I answered it: I said my agent and the front office, they gonna handle it,” Ramsey said. “I’m worried about what I can worry about, I’m controlling what I can control… Either accept the answer or keep it pushing. I don’t want to be disrespectful, but that’s the answer.”

A brief pause in questions resulted in Ramsey walking out of the videoconference for more than two minutes before a Rams public relations person persuaded him to return.

Ramsey then launched into a passionate 2-minute, 20-second monologue about his contract situation.

“I told y’all at the beginning of this, I said I’m controlling what I can control and when you asked me the question about my contract, I said I’m letting my agent, who is by far the best agent in the game, David Mulugheta, and the front office handle it,” Ramsey said. “I can’t do anything about it. I’m not worried about it. I’m trying to do my job as a football player. I’m trying to be a leader on the team, I’m not gonna do every Zoom session or however we gonna do them this year, talking about my contract. Look, if it comes, it comes. It’s gonna be a surprise to me like it’s gonna be a surprise to y’all …”

Ramsey added that he told his agent in August that he did not want to field any calls regarding his contract until a deal was in place.

“I said I want you to call me one time, I said, when my deal is done. I said, When you feel like my deal is done, call me. That’s it,” Ramsey said. “I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about football. I’m worried about other things in my life, like my blessings will come when they come, like I got all my trust in God, so when I give y’all an answer, that’s the answer.”

Ramsey is expected to hold the upper hand in negotiations after the Rams’ trade of 2020 and 2021 first-round picks and a 2021 fourth-round pick to acquire him.

Earlier this week, Rams coach Sean McVay said there was no update to provide on contract negotiations for Ramsey or for receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson, who also are entering the final season of their rookie deals.

“Obviously those guys are instrumental parts of what we want to do,” McVay said. “I’m just making sure I know what the heck I’m doing next after this right now, negotiating through the days.”

Rams general manager Les Snead has previously acknowledged the price the Rams paid to acquire Ramsey, indicating that it would be ideal for the team to reach a long-term extension with him.

Snead, however, declined on Monday to provide any details regarding Ramsey’s contract situation.

“We’ll keep the intimacy of those details with the players — let’s call it contracts that are expiring this year — we’ll keep those in-house,” Snead said, adding later, “We do have a very healthy relationship with, specifically… with Jalen’s agent, David Mulugheta.”

The four players drafted ahead of Ramsey in 2016 — Rams quarterback Jared Goff, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott — have each signed long-term extensions, all of which included record-breaking terms, with their teams.

Considered a premier lockdown cornerback, Ramsey has intercepted 10 passes and has 49 pass deflections in 59 career starts.



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NFL training camp 2020 – Cam Newton’s Patriots look; Could Alex Smith start in Washington?

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Quarterbacks dominated the storylines Tuesday as the NFL’s 2020 training camp rolls forward.

The New England Patriots aren’t actively promoting it, but after every player was granted access to the facility over the weekend following COVID-19 testing, there was a traditional photo shoot. That provided the first look at quarterback Cam Newton, as part of his media-guide headshot, in a Patriots uniform.

In Washington, coach Ron Rivera is pleasantly surprised with quarterback Alex Smith‘s progress; Jacksonville QB Gardner Minshew was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list, and to the surprise of nobody — especially his teammates — Tom Brady had a crisp throwing session for Tampa Bay.

Other highlights from Tuesday’s camps include Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott building chemistry in Dallas and the first glimpse of Darius Slay in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform.

Here’s what you need to know from camps across the league:

Jump to the best of the day:
Photos | Videos | Quotes | Notes from NFL Nation reporters

Top news of the day

Ron Rivera pleased with Alex Smith’s progress
The Washington Football Team coach Likes what he has seen from quarterback Alex Smith and can envision him becoming part of the competition at the position. But Rivera also made it clear that he has been pleased with second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins‘ development this offseason.

Tom Brady sharp in first Bucs workout open to media

The precision and accuracy that became trademarks of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s game don’t appear to have left him as he settles into his new home. Brady joined teammates for his first practice of training camp that was open to the media Tuesday and their second overall. Brady didn’t look like a quarterback with no offseason who was just starting to get acquainted with new teammates. The timing already looked strong, with the chemistry not far behind — some of that is because of the offseason workouts he organized with teammates at nearby Berkeley Preparatory School.

Big Ben says says 2019 surgery repaired 3 torn elbow tendons

Speaking for the first time since before he suffered the season-ending elbow injury in Week 2, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he dealt with the elbow pain “for years,” but the feeling that radiated through his elbow after he threw a long pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster was different. A couple weeks later, Roethlisberger had season-ending surgery to reattach three torn flexor tendons in his right elbow.

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Quotes of the day

“They looked good. They looked real good. And as he was throwing the ball, I hear a couple of the guys whispering, like, ‘Dang, how many years do you think he’ll keep playing?’ That’s how good he looked, seriously. Me and [Rob Gronkowski] talked about it, like, his will to win, his will to go out there and still keep doing it – once you see a guy like that kinda display that attitude, you want to be part of it. It’s like, ‘Man, how much longer can I do it?'”

Bucs RB LeSean McCoy on QB Tom Brady’s slant passes

“[The virus] took one look at me and ran the other way.”

Gardner Minshew, Jaguars quarterback


What our NFL Nation reporters saw today

Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds discussed a “practice” Buffalo’s defensive players put together in Virginia this offseason, which allowed the core of the team’s defenders to begin building chemistry with some of the newer additions. Edmunds said they all wanted to get together, and the official plans came to be via a group chat. He called it a “get better” period, similar to what the team’s offensive players did in Florida back in June. And don’t worry, Bills fans, Edmunds said the players practiced safe social distancing throughout the workout. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Amari Cooper said he, and Dak Prescott, along with other receivers, tight ends and running backs, have worked out consistently together in the offseason, including some at a football field the quarterback built in his back yard.

“We’ve all been getting together pretty consistently for months now,” Cooper said. “Working on route running, working on the offense and everything like that. We’ve been getting a lot of work in, getting that timing right as if we were in minicamp or OTAs.” — Todd Archer

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Kimberley Martin and Jeff Saturday both love Cam Jordan’s comments that the Buccaneers will be “fighting for second place” behind the Saints.

Saints linebacker Demario Davis, who made his debut on the NFL Network’s Top 100 list at No. 67 after being named first-team All-Pro for the first time last year: “I’m big on always counting my blessings. … To be on the list is certainly a blessing, so I’m not gonna take that for granted. The way I view myself, though, I’m my toughest critic and I’m also my biggest cheerleader. In my mind, there’s always more to accomplish and always a feeling of not being seen accurately. So I feel like I should be higher on the list, and I use it as motivation.” — Mike Triplett

The Giants veterans finally got on the field after testing and physicals for most of the past week. It’s still just conditioning at this point though. It will be another two weeks until they get to put on the pads and the real player evaluation will begin. — Jordan Raanan

We got our first glimpse of Darius Slay in an Eagles uniform Tuesday. Sporting the No. 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant, he showed off his swagger by flexing for the camera. For the first time since taking over as defensive coordinator in 2016, Jim Schwartz has a No. 1 corner who can travel with the opponent’s top receiver.

“I had Steph Gilmore early in his career in Buffalo and Steph matched everybody last year with the Patriots, an All-Pro player,” Schwartz said. “Slay is a guy who is sort of at the same point, has done a lot of that in the past and it won’t be anything new for him. Really excited to have him and I think it’s going to add a different dimension to our secondary.” — Tim McManus

The Patriots went through a second day of strength and conditioning work on Tuesday, while also being allowed one hour for a walk-through session. Off the field, the team confirmed that former director of pro scouting Dave Ziegler has been elevated to assistant director of player personnel. That’s a significant change coming after director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort departed for a new job with the Titans in the offseason. — Mike Reiss

The Chiefs are expecting a four-game suspension for starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. In light of that, the other starter, Charvarius Ward, said it’s important he picks up his game from an already solid 2019 season. Ward said one area he will concentrate on is turnovers. He had two interceptions and one forced fumble last season. “Instead of batting the ball down this year, I’m going for it with two hands,” Ward said. — Adam Teicher

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo spoke to the media for the first time since a couple days after Super Bowl LIV on Tuesday. Garoppolo was his usual, upbeat self and spoke at length about the importance of adapting to all of the new protocols and safety measures in place. One thing Garoppolo believes should help him in 2020? Not having to recover from a torn ACL. he said his knee is “night and day” from where it was last year at this time.

After an offseason in which he acknowledged he heard the rumors of his being replaced by Tom Brady (he says he “wasn’t too worried”), Garoppolo is aiming for a breakthrough 2020. Coach Kyle Shanahan believes that having a full season under his belt as a starter should help Garoppolo take another step forward. If that happens, Garoppolo should cement his status as the Niners’ franchise quarterback. — Nick Wagoner

A major key to the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger‘s success this season is the development of the young wide receiver corps. The Steelers have a new coach (Ike Hilliard) tasked with guiding the group, and he has a track record of getting the most out of his rookies. Last year, he worked with Washington receiver Terry McLaurin and helped him to a 919-yard, 7-touchdown rookie campaign. Now, he’ll try to replicate McLaurin’s success in Steelers’ second-round pick Chase Claypool.

“The world expected [Terry McLaurin] to be a special teams player and he ended up being our number one [wide receiver] last year,” Hilliard said. “We expect the same or more from Chase or any other young man that wants to step up and make plays.” — Brooke Pryor

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Stephen A. Smith expresses his disgust with Odell Beckham Jr. saying the NFL season shouldn’t happen when OBJ could opt out of the season.

One training camp battle to watch this summer: left tackle. Geron Christian, entering his third season, will have a good shot to win the starting job because he’s been in the league and while he’s been underwhelming, they do think he can at least be an effective pass protector. Rookie Saahdiq Charles, a fourth-round pick, will compete, too, but he missed six games last season and in a crazy offseason it’ll be harder for him to win the job.

They also might work him some at guard. Washington also has to solidify left guard between Wes Schweitzer and Wes Martin. Coach Ron Rivera feels good about the other three spots along the line with center Chase Roullier, guard Brandon Scherff and right tackle Morgan Moses. Rivera said he thinks that group is “very strong.” — John Keim

The Packers shouldn’t have to worry about their star receiver’s ability to social distance. Davante Adams has been doing it throughout the pandemic.

“To be real with you, I have no problem with being a hermit, man,” Adams said Tuesday. “I don’t do much. I’m a simple man. I work out. I live and breathe wide-out play and I love my family.” Adams had a daughter last year and said while they were in California this offseason, he left his house “maybe 10 times … for something unrelated to getting food.”

“Not to flex on anybody, but there’s not much I needed to leave the house for,” Adams said, noting that he has a chipping area where he works on his golf game, a basketball court, a home gym and, of course, an Xbox. He doesn’t think that will change now that he’s back in Green Bay. “It’s an absolutely beautiful city, but there’s not a whole lot out there that’s gonna drive me outside to put my family at risk at this point,” Adams said. “So hermit it is.” — Rob Demovsky

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley said after practice that he wants to show the world he’s a 1,000-yard receiver. Ridley believes he’s ready to be among the “elite” receivers, and he continues to follow the lead of arguably the league’s top pass-catcher — teammate Julio Jones. The last time the Falcons had two, 1,000-yard receivers was Jones and Roddy White in 2012. In happened in the NFC South last season with Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Watching the way Ridley absorbs instruction during workouts and continues to learn and bond with Jones, one can tell he’s destined for a big season, provided he stays healthy. — Vaughn McClure

The Seahawks’ return to the practice field this week — albeit just for conditioning work — meant the return of a familiar sight: Russell Wilson connecting with his No. 1 wide receiver, Tyler Lockett. Less familiar were the masks covering the faces of Wilson, Lockett, Greg Olsen and all of his fellow tight ends standing in the background of the video the Seahawks posted to their Twitter page. “Really pleased with the start,” coach Pete Carroll said about no Seahawks testing positive for COVID-19 so far. He praised the team’s leadership for sending the right message to others. — Brady Henderson

Slot receiver Randall Cobb, who signed with the Texans in March, said he’s only had “five to seven opportunities” to catch balls from quarterback Deshaun Watson. He estimated that had there been an offseason program, there would have been “about 25 to 30 opportunities to communicate, to go through routes and timing. He would be able to get a sense of the way my body moves, understanding of how I come out of routes and I would be able to get an understanding of his release, his ball placement and all those things,” Cobb said. “… We’re trying to do the best we can given the landscape, but it definitely isn’t something that’s easy.” — Sarah Barshop

Panthers coach Matt Rhule challenged wide DJ Moore before camp to take his game to the next level, saying the third-year receiver has to “go be that dominant, physical go-to receiver … that you’re going to go to and take that matchup of the [opponent’s] best corner and dominate it.”

Moore seems up to the task. He’s playing with a chip after being snubbed from the Pro Bowl last season in much the same way running back Christian McCaffrey was snubbed in his second season before making it in 2019. “Of course there’s going to be a big chip when you don’t make something you think you should make, so it makes you go harder for next year,” said Moore, who ranked ninth in receiving yards last season with 1,175 on 87 catches. “[Coach is] just challenging me to be the best player I can be on the field. Accept that challenge and run with it.” — David Newton



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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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