Patriots, Bucs among those making biggest waves so far
(AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)Bill Belichick never was one to spend wildly in free agency. Whether by trade, free agency or re-signings, the group brings a good mix of offense, defense and special teams. In addition to keeping Von Miller, Justin Simmons and Shelby Harris, Paton filled his biggest defensive pothole by signing free agent cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. FUTURE CONSIDERATIONSThe Lions didn’t do much in free agency but nobody in Detroit should be bothered. The Lions are focused on rebuilding through the draft after sending QB Matthew Stafford to the Rams and then letting star wide receiver Kenny Golladay walk in free agency.
Denver Broncos exercise Von Miller's 2021 option
FILE - Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller takes up his position during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wisc., in this Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, file photo. The Denver Broncos have exercised star linebacker Von Miller's 2021 option. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer, File)ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos have exercised star linebacker Von Miller's 2021 option. The Broncos tweeted without comment an image of Miller celebrating the team's Super Bowl triumph five years ago. 2 overall pick behind Cam Newton, whom he dominated in Super Bowl 50 to help Denver beat Carolina 24-10 in Peyton Manning's farewell game.
Brady vs. Mahomes offers Super Bowl of contrasting styles
In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, left, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady speak during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. – Tom Brady is the quintessential pocket passer, standing tall behind his offensive line and slinging the ball all over the place. Two very different styles from two of the game's very best quarterbacks, each on display Sunday when Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face Mahomes and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. “This is going to be one of the great matchups in sports history,” said CBS Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Tony Romo, who will help to call the game. I just want to win no matter how it happens.”Brady and Mahomes may be similar in that respect, but the 24-year-old Chiefs quarterback takes a different approach to it.
Mahomes the rare quarterback with no weakness
In this still image from video provided by the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) speaks during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. In his short time as a starting quarterback, Mahomes has put together perhaps the best three-year stretch of play the game has ever seen. That would make the 25-year-old Mahomes the youngest quarterback ever with two Super Bowl wins, reaching the mark a year before Brady and Ben Roethlisberger both did. Tampa Bay cut its blitz by more than half in the first meeting when Mahomes gashed the Bucs for 462 yards and three TDs. Mahomes also thrives on corner and go routes as his strong arm helps him make some of the more difficult throws.
Out of Miller's shadow, Barrett aims to follow his footsteps
“He was determined to get it by any means, wouldn’t let failure be an option,” Barrett recounted. Barrett will have a starting — and maybe starring — role in Super Bowl 55 when the Buccaneers (14-5) face Mahomes and the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs (16-2) Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Barrett had a monster debut in Tampa, collecting an NFL-best 19½ sacks, forcing six fumbles and earning his first Pro Bowl nod in 2019. Mahomes remembers Barrett in Denver as a player who never let quarterbacks exhale whenever Miller or Chubb tapped out for a breather. He’s got great speed, he’s got great power, he’s got a ton of moves,” Remmers said.
Chiefs, Bucs ride (mostly) COVID-clear season to Super Bowl
– The Kansas City Chiefs had a pretty good idea what kind of COVID-19 protocols they would have to wade through in defense of their Super Bowl championship the moment they finally gathered for in-person training camp. And it was Burkholder who helped the Chiefs navigate the season with few positive tests and just one postponement — the fault of the other team — as they closed in on a Super Bowl repeat. Those were things we just didn't know, and it was a process to figure out how to do this.”AdUltimately, the Chiefs and Buccaneers are in the Super Bowl in part because they figured it out as well as anybody. It's easy to follow the example of Tom Brady, with six Super Bowl rings behind him and the Hall of Fame in front of him, when he demands the Buccaneers mask up. The same with Patrick Mahomes, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, when he tells the Chiefs to skip the family gatherings around the holidays.
Old (Brady), young (Mahomes), different Super Bowl 55 awaits
(AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)For Tom Brady, another trip to the Super Bowl — but this time, in a Tampa Bay uniform. “Whoever would've thought a home Super Bowl for us? It gave New England its third straight trip to the Super Bowl, and Brady's last of nine as a member of the Patriots. He's leading the Buccaneers to only their second Super Bowl; the Bucs won on their first trip, back in 2002. But nobody would mistake Johnson for Brady, who could join Peyton Manning as the only other quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two franchises.
Colts QB Rivers, 39, retires from NFL after 17 seasons
“Every year, Jan. 20 is a special and emotional day,” Rivers said in a statement posted on the team’s website. “It is St. Sebastian’s Feast day, the day I played in the AFC championship without an ACL, and now the day that after 17 seasons, I’m announcing my retirement from the National Football League. I am grateful to the Chargers for 16 seasons, and the Colts for the 17th season.”Rivers was one of a kind. In the 2006 season opener, Rivers made his starting debut — and then the next 251 in a row including the playoffs. “My son never did throw a big ball like I did at that age and he throws it the exact same way,” Rivers said.
Super Host: Bucs become 1st to play Super Bowl at home
The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay (14-5) is the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. The prize is much different this year, though, because the Super Bowl will be played in front of a far smaller crowd than usual. The first Super Bowl in 1967 was played in front of 61,946 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Eagles backup Nick Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, a sign of things to come in the Super Bowl against New England.
Brady vs. Brees: A matchup for the ages and aged
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)The NFL has never seen a playoff matchup quite like the upcoming one between Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Drew Brees’ New Orleans Saints. Brees has thrown for more yards than any QB in the regular season with 80,358 and ranks second in TD passes with 571. Brady holds the mark for touchdowns with 581 and trails only Brees in yardage with 79,204. The combined age of the starting quarterbacks will be an NFL-record 85, surpassing the 84 from their two starts in the regular season this season. The team that swept the regular season series won 14 of the previous 22 matchups, which bodes well for the Saints this week.
The Latest: Heinicke starts for Washington vs. Brady, Bucs
So Taylor Heinicke is getting his second career NFL start when Washington hosts Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild card playoff Saturday night. Metcalf to cut the Los Angles Rams' lead to 13-10 in the second quarter of their wild card game. They held off Philip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 in the first of six wild card games this weekend. Four of those teams play on what the NFL is calling “Super Wild Card Weekend” with Green Bay earning the NFC’s first-round bye. Washington won the middling NFC East despite a 7-9 record to earn a home wild card game.
John Elway says he'll hire a GM who will report to him
FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, Denver Broncos general manager John Elway speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. Elway, who has been GM since 2011, will remain as president of football operations in 2021, the final year of his contract. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)DENVER – John Elway announced a major change in the Denver Broncos’ football operations Monday, saying he’ll hire a general manager who will report to him but have final say on the draft, free agency and the roster. Elway, who has been GM since 2011, will remain as president of football operations in 2021, the final year of his contract. Elway said the new GM will be “empowered to make all football decisions, working in partnership with Vic.”“John Elway is the most important and impactful person in the history of the Denver Broncos.
Lock returns to practice, apologizes again for COVID-19 slip
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Many viewers cringed at Denver’s ugly loss to the Saints behind a rookie receiver pressed into duty because every Broncos quarterback was barred by the NFL over coronavirus concerns. A three-year starter at Vanderbilt, Shurmur spent last season on the Chiefs’ practice squad. After Driskel’s positive test, a league investigation deemed Lock, Rypien and Bortles as high-risk close contacts and ordered them into quarantine Saturday. Hinton returned to catching passes, not throwing them, when he went back to the practice squad Wednesday. Miller has made it his goal to play this season after a freak ankle injury six days before the opener.
Broncos GM Elway, team president Ellis positive for COVID-19
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The novel coronavirus has reached the highest levels of the Denver Broncos organization with general manager John Elway and team president Joe Ellis testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. The team said contract tracing measures show that no players or coaches came into close contact with either Elway or Ellis recently. The Broncos have been under the league’s enhanced COVID-19 protocols since Modkins’ infection. He said the spikes in overall coronavirus cases across the country, including Colorado, “increases vulnerability" for NFL teams. Players, coaches and other employees also wear contract tracing devices to help curb any outbreaks.
Patriots all-virtual in prep for delayed game vs. Broncos
– New England coach Bill Belichick says the team is continuing to prepare to play its against the Denver Broncos after the Patriots returned no new positive COVID-19 tests on Thursday. “This is really more of a medical situation than a football situation,” Belichick said during a conference call Thursday morning. “So we’ll work through the decisions and input from the people in the medical field, a combination of the Patriots and league. Gilmore didn’t test positive until Tuesday. If a player tests positive but shows no symptoms, he must either wait 10 days from the initial positive test, or can return after having two consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart.
Longtime baseball pro scout Gary Hughes dies at 79
SAN FRANCISCO – Gary Hughes, a beloved professional scout for numerous big league organizations during a 54-year career, has died in Northern California after a battle with cancer. “Gary Hughes was the quintessential baseball man,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Without Gary Hughes, I probably would have never played a day in the big leagues," said Kevin Millar, a 12-year major league veteran. Hughes' son, Michael “Rock” Hughes, longtime Marlins visiting clubhouse manager, is married to Counsell's sister. “Gary was one of the great baseball scouts," former baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said, "and one of the great baseball minds of our generation.”___AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
Bucs vs. Saints marks historic QB matchup with Tom Brady, Drew Brees
Bucs’ Tom Brady is 43 and Saints’ Drew Brees 41. Brees leads both categories with 77,416 yards and 547 TDs, followed by Brady with 74,571 yards, 541 TDs. In five career starts vs. Saints, Brady has thrown for 286.6 yards per game, 11 total TDs and three INTs. ... Brees passed for 2,979 yards with 27 TDs vs. career-low four INTs for career-high 116.3 rating last season. ... All-Pro WR Michael Thomas led Saints last season with NFL single-season record 149 catches for 1,725 yards, nine TDs.
Broncos' Jake Butt a feel-good story on NFL's cutdown day
Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt takes part in drills during an NFL football practice in empty Empower Field at Mile High, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)ENGLEWOOD, Colo. Star-crossed tight end Jake Butt felt better this summer than ever before. On Saturday he joined Washington quarterback Alex Smith as one of the NFL's biggest feel-good stories on cutdown day. Im really happy I stuck with it because I do feel really, really good out there. Bad days are going to come and tough days are going to come, but you cant quit.
Training camps have a different feel in this age of COVID-19
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. From the antimicrobial mist the Denver Broncos strolled through on their way to the practice fields to the hand-held whistles for masked-up coaches, NFL training camps have a very different look and feel this year. What it does is it really creates less of an opportunity for those guys to make our football team. Were going to have to find guys with the expanded practice squad, which we have spots for four veterans. Were going to have to find the right guys to be able to expand the practice squad with, Elway said. We have to appeal to their intelligence, their pride, their responsibility that, hey, this is different, Fangio said.
Elway joins call for change after George Lloyd's killing
Fangio's remarks came during a media call Tuesday after the team addressed the widespread demonstrations that were sparked by a white police officers killing of a handcuffed black man in Minnesota last week. Broncos safety Kareem Jackson spearheaded the effort, saying players needed to do more than tweet and talk about systemic racism, social injustice and police brutality. It isnt known if Elway will join the players at the state capitol. On Friday night, Elway tweeted that he spent much of the week listening to his players and coaches and realized his views he's held for decades were wrong. I realize I have a long way to go, but I will keep listening and learning, Elway added.
Broncos stop football to talk about race relations, Floyd
Team president Joe Ellis addressed the offense and defense in separate Zoom calls that replaced the teams regular video conference sessions, which are a substitute for in-person training during the pandemic. Maybe we can get out and put together a march as a team or something like that.After the Zoom calls, the Broncos tweeted, We will stand by our players. Fangio said society could learn a lot from an NFL locker room, where skin color is no barrier. I look forward to the Broncos and the NFL leading that charge, Fangio said. We pledge our allegiance to the flag for freedom and justice for all and we do not have our justice.