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Broncos to honor Bowlen in myriad ways in 2019

Mon Jun 17 5:56pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

Joe Ellis, president and chief executive officer of the Denver Broncos, talks about the death of team owner Pat Bowlen during a news conference Monday, June 17, 2019, at the NFL football team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Joe Ellis, president and chief executive officer of the Denver Broncos, talks about the death of team owner Pat Bowlen during a news conference Monday, June 17, 2019, at the NFL football team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


John Elway, general manager of the Denver Broncos, talks about the death of team owner Pat Bowlen during a news conference Monday, June 17, 2019, at the NFL football team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos are planning several ways to honor team owner Pat Bowlen , who died last week at 75 after a long battle with Alzheimer's just two months shy of his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Renaming their stadium in his honor isn't one of those.

The team has lacked a naming rights partner for several years, and an online effort pushed by Broncos broadcast partner Orange & Blue 760 called for fans to sign a petition asking the team to rename the stadium ''Pat Bowlen Field at Mile High.''

''I don't think he would want that. So, I don't think we're going to do that,'' team president and CEO Joe Ellis said Monday. ''We've honored him with a statue, with a Ring of Fame pillar, his plaque on the Ring of Fame. We'll do some things this season to honor him. But if we were to put his name on the stadium, I can remember him when he knew I was off-track saying, `Joe, just a second.'

''And I think that would be his reaction. Probably there are people who would disagree, and I respect that. But for now that is not something that would be in our plans.''

The team will hold a public tribute Tuesday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.

''It's kind of cool, we're setting up a museum walkway that has a lot of his personal and Broncos memorabilia, and then at the end of the line is a tribute to him where members of the public can pay their respects to his family,'' Ellis said. ''All family members will be there tomorrow between the hours of 10 and 3. I'm looking forward to it. It'll be a nice send-off for Pat.''

Ellis said the Broncos also will wear an orange and blue ''Mr. B.'' decal on their helmets this season. Bowlen's memory also will be honored before the regular-season home opener against Chicago and again in October on the same day fellow Hall of Fame inductee Champ Bailey is added to the team's Ring of Honor.

Ellis said it was important to give fans that chance because so few can attend the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 3.

He said the public outpouring of support from fellow owners, former players and coaches and from fans is proof that the team made the right call in putting together the five-hour public stadium tribute, which will be followed by a private funeral next Monday.

In reflecting on Bowlen's legacy, Ellis called him ''a really good friend, a great mentor, and he was a great boss.''

Ellis said that although Bowlen was famously shy and known publicly as a man of few words, ''I've got to tell you he was a great communicator,'' one who would check in often whenever he was away on league business.

''He just loved to stay in touch. He needed to know what was going on and what that did for me was let me know that he was paying attention,'' Ellis said.

''He ran this football team with his heart and not his pocketbook,'' said general manager John Elway.

That was something Ellis could attest to.

''He wanted to rip up everybody's contract all the time to give them more money,'' Ellis said, laughing.

Ellis said Bowlen's widow, Annabel, who also is suffering from Alzheimer's, visited team headquarters Friday afternoon shortly after her husband died. ''She just wanted to see Pat's office,'' Ellis said.

Ownership of the franchise is held in a trust Bowlen set up more than a decade ago in hopes one of his seven children will one day run the team. Although daughter Brittany is hoping to one day take over, the succession plan and the trustees' oversight of Bowlen's estate has been challenged in state district court in the last year by some members of the Bowlen family.

''Nothing has changed,'' Ellis said. ''Pat prepared himself for this day, planned ahead for this day. The trustees are going to follow Pat's plan. I'm going to carry out what Pat asked me to do and honor what he asked me to do and that's really as much as I would say at this time.''

Elway said nothing changes from his perspective, either.

''I've got 100 percent trust in what the trust is doing and the plan that Joe's put together and the plan that Pat put together knowing this was coming down. I've got 100 percent confidence that this organization is going to continue to stand on its feet. Whatever direction that may be, it'll be the right direction.''

Elway did allow that Bowlen's death reinforces the urgency for him to reverse the slide that took the Broncos from Super Bowl champs three years ago to a team that posted double digit losses each of the last two seasons.

''No. 1, we've got to get it turned around, and No. 2, with Pat, thinking about Pat, it's his memory,'' Elway said. ''There's no question there's more motivation to get this thing turned around.''

Player Notes
Mackensie Alexander Jun 17 2:43am ET

Minnesota Vikings CBs Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes have expiring contracts and might be candidates for extensions. 'I'm not thinking about that,' Waynes said. 'I'm worried about this season.'

Malik Hooker Jun 17 2:33am ET

Indianapolis Colts FS Malik Hooker took part in the offseason program for the first time in three seasons, and he caught the eye of head coach Frank Reich.

Devin Funchess Jun 17 1:53am ET

Indianapolis Colts WR Devin Funchess struggled to establish a consistent rapport with QB Jacoby Brissett during organized team activities (OTAs), as starting QB Andrew Luck was held out. Head coach Frank Reich still praised the aptitude and route running of Funchess.

Fantasy Spin: Funchess had a high drop rate in Carolina last season, and it appears he is off to a slow start in his new home. He is expected to fulfill the No. 2 receiver spot filled by Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman last season, so there is a possibility he re-emerges as a decent fantasy option working with Andrew Luck, but wait to see how he does in the preseason.

Dante Pettis Jun 16 8:53pm ET

San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis has impressed QB Jimmy Garoppolo and head Kyle Shanahan with his new physique and attention to detail. 'Dante's body is maturing,' Garoppolo said. 'He's coming out of breaks with power, he has speed.' 'He worked while he was away,' Shanahan said. 'He tried to get bigger. He worked more at his routes and he came here with the idea of 'Hey, I'm not just coming here to get better back in shape, I'm coming here to get better.''

Fantasy Spin: While it remains to be seen who will emerge as the top receiver in the San Francisco passing attack, Pettis is certainly a solid bet. He is set to open the year as a starter, and he flashed some upside at the end of last season. Consider him a WR4 with the upside to be a regular fantasy starter.

Garrett Celek Jun 16 8:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers TE Garrett Celek (back) 'faces some pretty big odds' to make the 53-man roster, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.

DeSean Jackson Jun 16 3:33pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson has been embracing his role as a veteran and leader this offseason, according to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com. The 32-year-old was present for all but one session of voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) practices. 'He's done everything we've asked him to do,' receivers coach Carson Walch said. 'He's been great in the meeting room. Some of our young guys sometimes are in awe seeing DeSean Jackson in our building.'

Fantasy Spin: Jackson's expected to start on the right side for the Eagles, opposite Alshon Jeffery with Nelson Agholor in the slot. He led the league with 18.9 yards per reception with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season and finished with 774 yards and four touchdowns in just 12 games. His best games have been difficult to predict in the past, but he has a lot of upside as a WR3.

Alvin Kamara Jun 16 2:33pm ET

New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara will be tasked with an expanded role in 2019 with the departure of backfield mate Mark Ingram. 'I'm so anxious to see like, 'What else?'' Kamara said recently. 'You know what I'm saying? What else could I do? Where else could I line up? How else could I be successful? That's the best part of this profession for me. What's the next step you're going to take? 'Ok, he was good last year. How are you going to prove that you are what you are?''

Fantasy Spin: Kamara went from 201 touches as a rookie to 275 this past season with 81 receptions each season. Latavius Murray has been added to help shoulder the RB load, but look for another 275-plus touches this season for Kamara who should be one of the first five RBs off the board in any fantasy draft format this summer.

Bradley Roby Jun 16 2:03pm ET

Houston Texans CB Bradley Roby (undisclosed) has been sidelined most of the offseason by an undisclosed soft-tissue injury. 'He hasn't done much, so we'll just have to see (him) in training camp,' O'Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle.

Jared Goff Jun 16 1:03pm ET

Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff is in line for a new contract, and Rams general manager Les Snead told the Los Angeles Times on Friday, June 14, that the team has had 'preliminary discussions' with Goff's agent, Ryan Tollner, regarding a timeline for talks. Los Angeles Times, Rams G.M. Les Snead said Friday that the Rams have had 'preliminary discussions' with Tollner regarding a timeline for talks regarding Goff's deal. '(It's) nothing heavy,' Snead said of the communications. 'No heavy lifting.'

Fantasy Spin: Meanwhile, Goff is coming off his best fantasy season yet, finishing seventh overall among fantasy QBs, and he should be valued as a low-end QB1 for 2019.

Mike Williams Jun 16 12:43pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams says he is preparing to take on an expanded role in 2019. 'We lost a big weapon in Tyrell (Williams), (so) a lot of people in the room have to step up,' Williams said Friday, June 14, on the the final day of the team's minicamp. 'I feel like me being the player that I am, I feel like I can do that... I feel like the role is going to change. I feel I'm going to get a lot more opportunities than I did last year. A lot more balls coming my way. I'm looking forward to it.'

Fantasy Spin: Williams was uber-productive last season as an NFL sophomore with 10 of his 43 receptions resulting in touchdowns and a league-best 83.7 percent of his catches going for first downs. Expect more targets and receptions for Williams this season but do expect a TD rate regression. He's a solid WR3.

Kareem Hunt Jun 16 12:33pm ET

Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt has drawn the praise of former Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce. 'I think so, without a doubt,' Kelce said Saturday, June 15, when asked if he believes the Browns are getting the best version of Hunt. '... I think you guys are getting an unbelievable athlete, somebody who can change the game with one or two carries, one or two touches and really give you a chance to win.'

Fantasy Spin: Hunt is suspended for the first eight games of the season due to his personal-conduct violations, but he could be a factor late in the fantasy season while also serving as a potential spoiler for Nick Chubb and his fantasy owners. Don't bother, though, with trying to stash Hunt from the start of the season unless you have the bench spot to burn.

Eli Manning Jun 16 11:23am ET

The New York Giants may decide to carry only two quarterbacks on their 2019 roster if the coaching staff is convinced that QB Daniel Jones would be able to capably fill in for QB Eli Manning when called upon. Previously, it had been believed that Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney would be fighting for the No. 3 quarterback spot on the roster but there's a possibility that neither player will make the team. If the Giants opt to keep three QBs, Tanney is believed to have a slight edge over Lauletta.

Fantasy Spin: Both Manning and Jones should be regarded as low-end QB3s for now, especially following the departure of Odell Beckham Jr., although Jones has added value in dynasty formats. Tanney and Lauletta possess no fantasy value.

Christian Kirk Jun 16 1:23am ET

Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk is displaying a 'good feel' for the offense under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Cody Core Jun 15 9:33pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals WR Cody Core (elbow) has been able to participate in minicamp.

Paul Worrilow Jun 15 5:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles LB Paul Worrilow (knee) missed a week of practice this offseason because of a knee injury.

Jalen Mills Jun 15 5:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills (foot) did not do much during offseason workouts because he is still recovering from a foot injury.

C.J. Prosise Jun 15 1:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RBs C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic and Travis Homer will all be candidates for the third-down back role during training camp. Prosise and Homer did miss some time this offseason because of hamstring injuries.

Patrick Mahomes Jun 15 11:33am ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes said that he would work on his footwork during the period between minicamp and training camp. He said that he misses many plays because his feet are in the wrong position and he relies too heavily on his arm.

Fantasy Spin: Generally speaking, it is an ill-advised strategy to select a quarterback in the first round of fantasy football drafts but Mahomes may be the exception to that rule. The defending Most Valuable Player is worthy of consideration as the top quarterback off the board in all formats.

Jason Verrett Jun 15 11:13am ET

San Francisco 49ers' CB Jason Verrett (Achilles') is expected to remain in the Santa Clara area during the break leading up to training camp and hopes to be able to return to the field when camp begins. He was unable to participate in OTAs and mandatory minicamp while recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon.

Christian Jones Jun 14 11:23pm ET

Detroit Lions LB Christian Jones (undisclosed) did not practice Thursday, June 14.