Thu Jul 18 1:53pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, file photo, Denver Broncos president Joe Ellis speaks during a news conference at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. Ever since soon-to-be Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen stepped down from his daily duties as owner of the Denver Broncos, team president Joe Ellis ran the team in a "What would Pat do" sort of way. With Bowlen's death last month, that's no longer the case. Ellis tells The Associated Press it's time for the Broncos to establish a new identity. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Ever since soon-to-be Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen stepped down from his daily duties as owner of the Denver Broncos, team president and CEO Joe Ellis ran the team in a ''What would Pat do?'' sort of way.
With Bowlen's death last month, that's no longer the case.
Ellis told The Associated Press that while the team will always honor Bowlen's memory, it's time for the Broncos to establish a new identity.
''I got to thinking about that,'' Ellis said Thursday from the sideline as the Broncos became the first NFL team to open training camp . ''I think it's a fair question at this point because he's no longer with us. He was with us (the last five years) even though he was not out here. I got to go see him and I always sort of felt his presence. And I think Pat would want us to move on from him a little bit, you know? I don't think we're going to be able to do that totally because of what he's provided all of us ...
''But it's time to buckle up your chin strap here and do things the Broncos way,'' Ellis said. ''Yeah, we want to make Pat proud. We're going to honor him. It's a subtle honoring with the decal on the helmet and he'll always be in the back of my mind. But you know what, we have to act independently now in some fashion. I hope you can make sense of this.''
Bowlen died June 13 at age 75, nine weeks shy of his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When Alzheimer's forced him to step away five years earlier, Bowlen entrusted Ellis to operate the team with full authority and represent the Broncos in league matters until one of his seven children was deemed ready to take over. Ellis drew on his working relationship with the notoriously publicity-shy Bowlen that spanned nearly three decades to continue operating the team as Bowlen would have during those five years.
Ellis said he doesn't want to look back anymore.
''There's been so much talk about Pat and his excellence and everything that he's done and it's all well-deserved and it's well-acknowledged - he's going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,'' Ellis said. ''But I know if he were here and he were advising me, he'd say, `Listen, you know, your job is to get everybody in the organization to pull together and do this for our fans and do this for themselves and each other, players, coaches. And do what I always wanted to do and not make it about me, make it about them, make it about yourselves, make it about the fans. Make it about winning. Let's focus on that. Let's not focus on me anymore.'''
Ellis noted the Broncos have to change the way they do things to reverse their recent slide that includes back-to-back double-digit losses for the first time since the 1960s.
Even with those 5-11 and 6-10 seasons, the Broncos have as many Super Bowl appearances - seven - as losing seasons during Bowlen's ownership that began in 1984.
''We need to establish our own identity,'' Ellis said. ''So much of our identity the past several years has been based on the success of Pat in some ways, right? And people talk about the Pat Bowlen era. Even if a child were to take over, it's not the Pat Bowlen era anymore. So, this is kind of in some ways this is Year 1 of establishing a different identity as an organization. Never forgetting everything that was Pat.
''No one's ever going to forget what he did. We'll remember him. We've got the decal on the back. His name is on that field house. His father's name is on this facility's front here at UC Health Center. So, he will continue to be honored and remembered, but I do know that he would want us to put our own stamp on this program. I just know that in my heart.''
Ellis said he'll meet with Brittany Bowlen, who is hoping to take over the franchise, next week about returning to the team to gain more front office experience. She's currently working for global consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Denver. Ellis said her role would be generally focused on the business side.
''She's going to come here and work hard. She's got to prove herself,'' Ellis said. ''There's more pressure on her than any other employee. And then we'll see. If that works out, then there's room for growth. Pat always said, `Listen, I'd love to be able to keep it in the family if I can and have a child run it, but if that's not the case, then the team will be sold.' And so we're not there to assign anybody that role yet.''
July 16th: Training Camp Preview
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told ESPN reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala that his arm "feels really good" in a Zoom call on Tuesday. Roethlisberger missed almost all of the 2019 season after tearing three flexor tendons in his right elbow. The veteran quarterback also stated that he has thrown way more than usual during the offseason and is in tremendous shape entering his age-38 season. Many signs point to a revitalized Pittsburgh offense this season with Roethlisberger back under center, although there is at least some concern as he's entering his 17th NFL season and has a long injury history. That being said, he's still a huge upgrade on offense over Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges from a year ago. Draft Big Ben as an upside QB2 in fantasy drafts this month.
Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Andrew Billings has opted out of the upcoming 2020 season. Billings is the third Cleveland player to opt out, joining guard Drew Forbes and tackle Drake Dorbeck. The 25-year-old left the Cincinnati Bengals as a free-agent to sign a one-year deal with the Browns during the offseason and, while not in line to start, was expected to join the team's rotation at the DT position. Billings' vacancy should be a positive for third-round rookie Jordan Elliott, who will see a larger role on defense now.
San Francisco 49ers WR Trent Taylor (foot) passed his physical and is healthy heading into training camp.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) threw passes during practice Monday, Aug. 3.
Fantasy Spin: Roethlisberger missed most of the 2019 season because of an elbow injury but appears to be on track for Week 1. He posted terrific numbers in 2018 and should be considered a low-end No. 1 or a No. 2 quarterback in standard leagues.
New York Giants QB Alex Tanney (undisclosed) passed his physical Monday, Aug. 3, and was activated from the Active/Non-Football Injury list.
Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (knee) was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, Aug. 3.
Fantasy Spin: Penny is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and may not be ready for the start of the regular season. Fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation but may want to avoid Penny until he returns to practice. Chris Carson will receive most of the carries and should be a weekly starting option in all leagues.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook arrived at camp last Tuesday despite previously stating that he would not report unless he received a new deal. However, under the new collective bargaining agreement, the 24-year-old ran the risk of becoming a restricted free agent beyond 2020 by not showing up, something he ultimately did not want to do. Cook had a breakout season in 2019, finishing with 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He also added 53 catches for 519 yards and was also one of the most prolific runners after contact. He is slated to make $1.3 million if an agreement isn't reached. Nonetheless, with the team vowing to work to get a new deal done, fantasy managers can feel a bit more confident by selecting Cook in the first round of fantasy drafts for the upcoming campaign.
Minnesota Vikings LB Ben Gedeon (undisclosed) was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, Aug. 3.
Miami Dolphins LB Jerome Baker was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, Aug. 3.
Las Vegas Raiders CB Jordan Brown, TE Paul Butler, PK Dominik Eberle, C Erik Magnuson, LS Liam McCullough and WR Anthony Ratliff-Williams were waived Monday, Aug. 3. The team also waived LB Marquel Lee with a failed physical designation.
Minnesota Vikings DE Ifeadi Odenigbo and LB Anthony Barr were activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, Aug. 3.
New York Jets WR Quincy Enunwa was released Monday, Aug. 3.
New York Jets RB Trenton Cannon, LB Wyatt Ray and OG Benjamin Braden were waived Monday, Aug. 3.
Free-agent TE Jerell Adams (Saints) signed with the Baltimore Ravens Monday, Aug. 3. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Chicago Bears TE Eric Saubert and DT John Jenkins were activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, Aug. 3.
San Francisco 49ers WR Richie James (hand, thumb) was transferred from the Reserve/COVID-19 list to the Active/Non-Football Injury list Monday, Aug. 3.
San Francisco 49ers WR Sean Poindexter (undisclosed) and DE Kentavius Street (undisclosed) were activated from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, Aug. 3.
Cleveland Browns QB Garrett Gilbert was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, Aug. 3. P Jamie Gillan was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list. S Karl Joseph (foot) was also placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list and RB Brian Herrien was waived.
Cincinnati Bengals WR Moritz Bohringer was waived Monday, Aug. 3.