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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos reopened their facility Saturday and will practice Saturday afternoon in preparation for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

After wide receiver/returner Diontae Spencer received a positive test result for COVID-19 Friday morning, Broncos coach Vic Fangio elected to cancel that day’s practice and conduct the team’s activities virtually to keep the players out of the team’s facility.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel had received a positive test result Thursday morning, but the NFL, after conducting contract tracing, had cleared the Broncos to practice Thursday as the team held its usual on-field walk-through and practice. The league also had cleared the Broncos to practice Friday, but Fangio, as he has on other occasions this season, elected to keep the players out of the team’s complex and off the practice field for a day.

“When we had back-to-back … we could have practiced [Friday], it was our choice, my choice, to not practice [Friday],” Fangio said Saturday morning. “I just felt having two consecutive days with a positive test each day, that I just felt like we needed to not practice.”

Both Driskel and Spencer have been moved to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Fangio also said Saturday that he had already scheduled all of the team’s meetings virtually for Monday and Tuesday before the NFL sent a memo to teams Friday saying facilities were to be closed Monday and Tuesday given players, coaches and other team personnel may have out-of-state visitors during the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Broncos were set to practice early Saturday afternoon with Sunday’s game against the Saints set to kick off at 4:05 p.m. ET.

“It’s improvise and adjust, we talked about it the first day of training camp,” Fangio said. “We knew it was going to a season when that was going to be called upon several times probably, that’s held true and I think our players have done a great job … and I believe they’ll continue to do that.”

Thursday was the third time the Broncos have canceled practices and other on-site activities at their facility this season. The first was after guard Graham Glasgow tested positive in late October, and then earlier this month after defensive end Shelby Harris tested positive.

Glasgow has returned to the team; Harris recently returned to work with the team’s strength and conditioning staff, but has not yet returned to practice.

Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has missed the past four games with an extended bout with the virus that linebacker Alexander Johnson said required Donatell to be hospitalized. Running backs coach Curtis Modkins and offensive line coach Mike Munchak also have missed time this season because of the virus.

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Madden NFL 22 teases cover athletes with goats

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The Madden NFL 22 game cover will be released later this week. The day when we see which superstar nabs the cover is another big date on the NFL’s offseason calendar.

To promote this year’s cover release, EA Sports is teasing the identity of the athlete with literal goats. Former cover athlete Peyton Hillis interacts with the animals and reacts to the cover.

The video seems to promise two GOAT (greatest of all time) athletes. Given his Super Bowl win last season and his untouchable status as the NFL’s greatest QB, it’s safe to assume that Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady will be one of the athletes featured.

But who could join him? Could it be Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who lost to Brady in Super Bowl LV? Maybe it’s a former or current Brady collaborator. Whomever it is, the ungulate ad men in the video aren’t saying.

Who do you think will be joining Brady?



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WR Jamison Crowder agrees to pay cut to remain with New York Jets, source says

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder, the team’s leading receiver the last two seasons, avoided the possibility of being released by agreeing to a pay cut, a source confirmed Monday.

Crowder was due to make a non-guaranteed $10 million in base pay for 2021, the final year of a three-year, $28.5 million contract. Details of the renegotiated contract weren’t immediately available, but the new deal is expected to significantly lower his $11.4 million cap charge.

The Jets are among the league leaders in cap space (about $27 million), but they approached Crowder recently about a reduction. Crowder, who turns 28 on Thursday, skipped the voluntary portion of the offseason as the two sides haggled over the contract. NFL Network first reported the agreement.

The Jets’ mandatory minicamp starts Tuesday, and Crowder is expected to attend.

Coach Robert Saleh was optimistic that a deal would get done, saying 10 days ago that “Jamison’s definitely got a role here and we’re excited to have him.”

After signing receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole in free agency, and drafting Elijah Moore in the second round, the Jets had the leverage in talks with Crowder. He led the team with 59 catches and 699 yards in 2020, but his production was down because he missed four games due to leg injuries. The Jets also finished 32nd in total offense for the second straight year.

Even though Crowder is back, it will be interesting to see if his role diminishes in the regular season. Moore, selected 34th overall, has impressed the coaches in offseason practices. Like Crowder, he’s a slot receiver.

In another contract-relation development, safety Marcus Maye reported to the facility Monday ahead of the minicamp. Maye, who signed his franchise-tag tender ($10.6 million) earlier in the offseason, skipped the voluntary practices as the two sides attempt to negotiate a long-term deal. The deadline is July 15. If they can’t agree to a deal, Maye will play the 2021 season for the amount of the tender.

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Cam Newton expected to practice at New England Patriots minicamp after hand injury during OTAs

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Ten days after sustaining a minor injury on his right throwing hand, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is expected to take part in the team’s mandatory minicamp beginning Monday, according to coach Bill Belichick.

Newton had not been present at last Thursday’s practice when reporters were present, but returned the following day. The hand apparently responded well.

“He practiced last week. I’d expect him this week too,” Belichick said Monday.

Newton has been taking top repetitions in spring practices, with Belichick having previously declared him the team’s quarterback. Belichick previously left open the possibility that Newton could face a challenge for the starting job when the team shifts from a spring teaching mode to more of an evaluation mode at the start of training camp in late July.

In Newton’s absence last Thursday, third-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham was the first player to take snaps, followed by veteran Brian Hoyer and then first-round draft pick Mac Jones.

Jones was complimentary of Newton, noting that he gave him the nickname “Mac and Cheese” while calling him a “good mentor.”

Another notable storyline at Patriots mandatory minicamp surrounds cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Gilmore is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2021, which is below market value for a player of his caliber, and Belichick deflected a question when asked if he’s seen Gilmore at camp.

Gilmore is not present, according to the Boston Globe.

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