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.''
August 5th: ADP Value
The Washington Football Team has released running back Derrius Guice following a domestic abuse arrest. The oft-injured Guice was expected to be the lead back for Washington's running back committee this year, but the release obviously changes everything in Washington. Veteran running back Adrian Peterson should now see the bulk of the carries, while rookie Antonio Gibson gets chances on passing downs. Gibson gets a boost in dynasty leagues after Guice's release, while Peterson is now a viable top-100 pick in virtually all re-draft leagues. As for Guice, his arrest could be the end of his disappointing NFL career. He's off the radar in redraft and becomes borderline rosterable in dynasty.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has been one of the more impressive players at training camp, according to Cam Inman of The Mercury News. In particular, McKinnon's route running out of the backfield has looked crisp. It is welcomed news for the 28-year-old, as he has missed the entirety of the past two seasons with injuries. McKinnon may be able to carve out a role for himself as a pass-catching, third-down back, but he has to battle Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman for touches. If McKinnon continues his strong play, the 49ers backfield may become even more of a headache for fantasy owners.
Washington Football Team RB Derrius Guice was released Friday, Aug. 7.
Fantasy Spin: Guice likely will not receive much interest from other teams because of the arrest, but fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation. Adrian Peterson likely will handle most of the carries for Washington this season and can be at least a No. 3 running back in standard fantasy leagues.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is looking "bigger and stronger" according to head coach Dan Quinn. Quinn said that Ridley had a good offseason and is coming into training camp hungry. The Alabama product is a popular pick for a third-year breakout after he was well on his way towards his first 1000-yard season before getting hurt. The 25-year-old has had no trouble finding the end zone in his first two years, compiling 17 touchdowns, though he'll need to slightly raise his yards per game and catch percentage numbers to reach his goal. Playing in an offense that has ranked in the top-five in pass attempts in each of the last two years should give Ridley a great chance at becoming elite in 2020.
Nearly 70 players have opted out of the coming NFL season because of coronavirus concerns. Highlighting the list is LB Dont'a Hightower, LB C.J. Mosley, and RB Damien Williams. The good news is the deadline to opt out has passed and the list of big-name players is minimal, so fantasy owners can plan accordingly for the coming season and start drafting with more confidence.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley has 'really put in a good offseason ... he's bigger, stronger,' Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said Friday, Aug. 7, in a media conference call.
Fantasy Spin: Ridley has caught 127 passes over his first two seasons, including 17 TDs -- three more than teammate Julio Jones over the same span -- and is a legit WR2 in all formats.
The Pittsburgh Steelers activated wide receiver James Washington from the COVID-19 reserve list on Friday. Washington was placed on the list on August 2. The third-year wide receiver has 60 receptions for 952 yards and four touchdowns across his two NFL seasons. The team released linebacker John Houston, an undrafted rookie free-agent, in a corresponding move to create room on the roster for Washington. Washington will compete to be the No. 3 receiver in Pittsburgh behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson this season.
The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to re-sign defensive end Vinny Curry to a one-year deal worth up to $2 million. $1.3 million is guaranteed, making Curry basically a lock for the final roster. Curry spent the first six years of his NFL career in Philly, and returned last season, recording five sacks while playing 415 snaps. He's a rotational edge rusher and should return to a similar role.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard is entering the 2020 season as the longest-tenured Giant, and said Friday, Aug. 7, in a Zoom media conference call that 'I might have to shake the 'young' Shep.' He added that he plans to set a 'good example' for his younger teammates.
Fantasy Spin: Shephard, still only 27, has caught at least 57 passes in all four seasons in N.Y., including 57 in 10 games last season. He's a WR4 with upside, particularly in PPR leagues.
Free agent DE Vinny Curry is re-signing with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, Aug. 7, according to sources.
New England Patriots QB Cam Newton on Friday, Aug. 7, declared himself fully ready for training camp. 'At this particular time, I'm full go,' Newton said in a video conference call.
Fantasy Spin: Newton first will have to stay healthy and then also beat out Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the starting gig. If A and B are accomplished, Newton will enter the season as a QB2 but one with considerable upside.
Free agent DL Dion Jordan (Raiders) on Friday, Aug, 7, signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers, the team announced. Terms of the deal were not available.
New York Giants LS Zak DeOssie on Friday, Aug. 7, announced his retirement.
Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley reported for COVID-19 testing Friday, Aug. 7.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, Aug. 7.
Fantasy Spin: Washington could start opposite of Juju Smith-Schuster, but he'll need to step it up to stave off Chase Claypool. Washington figures to be a WR4 or WR5 in fantasy.
Updating a previous story, Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis (toe) is on the Physically Unable to Perform list as a result of offseason toe surgery. He's not expected to miss any games.
Fantasy Spin: This would be a greater concern if Davis was actually missing meaningful practices while on the PUP list. There shouldn't be any major concern, and he'll still enter the season as the No. 2 option behind A.J. Brown.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB M.J. Stewart was released Thursday, Aug. 6.
Las Vegas Raiders RB Rod Smith was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday, Aug. 6.
Updating a previous story, New York Jets WR Josh Doctson was placed on the Reserve/Opt-Out list Thursday, Aug. 6.
Updating a previous story, Jacksonville Jaguars DB Rashaan Melvin was placed on the Reserve/Opt-Out list Thursday, Aug. 6.