ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For the first time in his three years as Denver Broncos’ head coach, Vic Fangio allowed his players to select team captains for the season.
In previous years, Fangio had rotated the captains on a game-to-game basis – typically one offensive game captain, one defensive captain and one special teams captain.
The six captains selected for the 2021 season in a players’ vote: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, receiver Courtland Sutton, safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, outside linebacker Von Miller and kicker Brandon McManus.
"It’s honestly something I’ve thought about for the past couple years," Simmons said. "It means everything. I think it means more because it comes from your peers."
"I’m going to continue to maneuver the same way that I have," Sutton said. "Continue to push myself to be better, continue to push my teammates to be better and hopefully … influence the entire locker room and go win a whole lot of games."
So why captains this year, besides, you know, there’s good reason to change things up after finishing 7-9 and 5-11?
"I just thought this would be something good to do, for a multitude of reasons," Fangio said. "Give it a shot."
Among the locker room alphas who were snubbed: Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, right guard Graham Glasgow, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, inside linebacker Josey Jewell and left tackle Garett Bolles. Then again, it’s difficult to argue with the six who were chosen.
And if Drew Lock gets his starting quarterback job back again, he goes to the front of the leadership line.
Quietly during the offseason, the Broncos hired football analytics expert Matt Sheldon and called him a senior analyst. What Broncos fans should know he’s going to be upstairs in the coaches’ booth and in Fangio’s ear on game management-related matters. Sheldon had previously worked in a similar capacity for Adam Gase in Chicago, Miami and the New York Jets.
"He’s really good," Gase said in a text to 9NEWS.
From 2015-16, Sheldon overlapped with Fangio, who was then the Bears’ defensive coordinator.
“He’s got connection with me during the game in any kind of situational stuff,’’ Fangio said.
Fangio was criticized for not calling timeouts after two Derrick Henry runs late in the Broncos’ season-opening loss last year. The Broncos were up 14-13 at the time, but lost on a short Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 17 seconds left. The timeouts would have given the Broncos a little more than a minute for the Broncos’ offense to answer.
To Fangio’s credit, he admitted he should have called timeout after Henry’s first run. To further Fangio’s credit, he made the adjustment by hiring a game-day analytics analyst this year.
“Anything that you can think of, football-oriented,’’ Fangio said when asked of Sheldon’s game-day role.
Chubb, Fant return
Chubb (ankle) and tight end Noah Fant (knee) returned to practice Monday after sitting out last week to heal up from their ailments. Barring any setbacks, they should be ready to play in the season opener Sunday afternoon against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.
"I think so," Fangio said.
The Broncos filled the 16th spot on their 16-man practice squad Monday by signing former Nebraska receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El, a journeyman who first joined Denver’s following a minicamp tryout in mid-June. Pierson-El makes four receivers on the 16-man backup squad, joining Tyrie Cleveland, Seth Williams and Kendall Hinton. …
After three days off, all Broncos players tested negative for the COVID-19 virus. The only player not practicing was practice squad offensive tackle Quinn Bailey, who was excused for family reasons. Fangio on the team’s vaccination rate: "We’re not 100 percent but we’re happy with where we’re at."
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