Aug 29, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; General view of a Minnesota Vikings helmet prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Dennison to remain with Vikings as special advisor

Rick Dennison, the Minnesota Vikings assistant who has declined to be vaccinated for COVID-19, will remain with the team as a senior offensive advisor.

The Vikings announced the arrangement as training camp opened on Tuesday, replacing the former offensive line coach with Phil Rauscher and naming Ben Steele as an assistant offensive line coach.

“Rick is a football coach and he’s got 40 years of experience doing what he’s doing,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters Tuesday. “I felt like it was important that we use him as a resource, but we also give him the opportunity to continue to work. With the way the protocols are, he can’t be around the players in person. But he has so much knowledge and so much experience that I felt like he could be a big help.”

Multiple outlets reported last week that Dennison had left the Vikings due to his vaccine refusal.

Dennison, 63, was Minnesota’s offensive line coach/run game coordinator for the past two seasons.

The NFL requires that all Tier 1 staff, which includes coaches, scouts, equipment managers and team executives, to be fully vaccinated. Players do not have the same rule but will be under restrictive COVID-19 protocols if they are unvaccinated.

Dennison played nine seasons at linebacker for the Broncos before beginning his coaching career in 1995 as a Denver offensive analyst. He served as offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills and Broncos, and designed the offense that Peyton Manning led to a victory in Super Bowl 50.

Rauscher joined the Vikings as an assistant offensive line coach in 2020 after working with the Washington Football Team (2018-19) and the Broncos (2015-17).

Steele, 43, was the tight ends coach for the Atlanta Falcons last season, a position he also held with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2017-18.

–Field Level Media

Jaguars (15) QB Gardner Minshew gives instructions during drills at Thursday's OTA session. The Jacksonville Jaguars held their Thursday session of organized team activity at the practice fields outside TIAA Bank Field, May 27, 2021.

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Gardner Minshew II: ‘No. 2 is not an option’ in Jags’ QB battle

Gardner Minshew II was quite graphic in declaring his disinterest in accepting the No. 2 role in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback competition.

Minshew, 25, will be battling 2021 NFL Draft top overall pick Trevor Lawrence for the starting job.

“I’ll say this man, in preparation for the competition, I haven’t taken a (expletive) in weeks, because No. 2 isn’t an option for me. No. 2 is not an option,” Minshew said on “The Green Light” podcast.

Minshew burst on the scene during his rookie season in 2019, taking over for an injured Nick Foles in the season opener. He threw for 3,271 yards with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions in 14 games for Jacksonville, which finished with a 6-10 record.

Minshew, like the Jaguars, had a much more difficult time in 2020. He played in just nine games and battled for playing time with Foles, Mike Glennon and even Jate Luton as Jacksonville limped to a 1-15 mark.

Lawrence was 34-2 as a starter at Clemson and led the Tigers to the national championship as a freshman.

The 6-foot-6 quarterback completed 758 of 1,138 passes at Clemson for 10,098 yards, 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also ran for 943 yards and 18 TDs.

Lawrence is the only quarterback ever to win three Atlantic Coast Conference championship games.

–Field Level Media

Jun 15, 2021; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers tackle Rashawn Slater (70) during minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers, first-rounder Rashawn Slater agree to terms

First-round pick Rashawn Slater agreed to his rookie deal with the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday.

Slater, the 13th overall pick in the 2021 draft, was one of five unsigned draft choices entering the day.

No. 2 pick Zach Wilson (Jets) and fellow quarterback and No. 3 pick Trey Lance (49ers) are not yet signed.

Slater is part of a designed upgrade of the offensive line in front of 2020 first-round pick Justin Herbert, who starred at quarterback as a rookie but was under constant duress.

Slater, 22, is pegged as the starter at left tackle and drew raves during minicamp for his quick assimilation to the pro system.

“Mainly, it’s taking the coaching,” said Slater. “If I get corrected on something, being able to show that I am able to fix that and not keep making the same mistakes. I pride myself on being coachable and accepting the feedback.”

Wilson was in California working out with a private quarterback coach as of Monday as the New York Jets opened training camp. The Jets are not scheduled to begin on-field workouts until Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins CB Xavien Howard reports to training camp

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard reported to training camp on Tuesday morning in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Howard accumulated $93,000 in fines after skipping Miami’s mandatory minicamp last month. His absence reportedly was tied to his displeasure with his existing five-year, $75.25 million contract extension he signed in May 2019.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection will have a base salary of $12.075 million in 2021, however teammate Byron Jones will make more this season ($14 million) after signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract in March 2020.

Howard, on Tuesday, was shown fist-bumping wide receiver Jakeem Grant on a video posted by the Dolphins.

Dolphins coach Brian Flores was rather vague when discussing Howard’s return.

“We’re excited to work with X and all the players that are here,” Flores said. “Those conversations with X’s rep, Chris (Grier) and myself will be internal and confidential.”

Howard, 28, led the NFL with 10 interceptions last season and recorded 51 tackles and one forced fumble in 16 games. He has 191 tackles, 22 interceptions and two forced fumbles in 56 career games (55 starts) since being selected by Miami in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the 3rd quarter of the Green Bay Packers 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

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Packers QB Aaron Rodgers shows up for training camp

Aaron Rodgers reported for work on Tuesday morning sporting sunglasses and a man bun.

The quarterback’s casual look notwithstanding, this marked the first time that Rodgers was with the Green Bay Packers since his exit interview after the team’s 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game.

Rodgers’ private plane landed at the Green Bay airport late Monday night. He promptly jumped into a waiting car and sped off.

Rodgers, fresh off being selected the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the third time in his career, skipped the Packers’ mandatory minicamp last month after expressing frustration with the team’s front office.

His presence on Tuesday allows Rodgers to avoid the $50,000 daily fine for sitting out camp-related events.

Rodgers, 37, has played with the Packers for his entire 16-year career. He has passed for 51,245 yards and 412 touchdowns, and he won a Super Bowl ring with the franchise at the end of the 2010 season.

–Field Level Media

Jun 9, 2021; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas (82) catches a pass during drills as part of minicamp at Inova Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: WFT, Logan Thomas agree to extension

Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas agreed to a three-year extension, per multiple reports.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Thomas had a breakout season with Washington in 2020, hauling in 72 passes for 670 yards and six touchdowns after signing a two-year, $6.15 million contract prior to the season.

Tuesday’s reported extension will keep Thomas with WFT through the 2024 season.

He was targeted 110 times by the multiple quarterbacks Washington used last season, including nine end-zone targets.

The former Virginia Tech quarterback turned 30 on July 1 and spent part of the offseason working on routes with new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

A fourth-round pick in 2014 by the Arizona Cardinals, Thomas came to Washington as a backup having also made stops in Buffalo and Detroit.

Thomas’ previous career bests came with the Lions in 2019 with 16 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Jun 1, 2021; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) and quarterback Drew Lock (3) during organized team activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos given longshot odds as training camp opens

The Denver Broncos are among the majority of NFL teams whose veteran players are scheduled to report to training camp Tuesday.

And according to oddsmakers, they do so facing an uphill battle to be a playoff threat in 2021.

The Broncos open training camp facing a quarterback battle between third-year pro Drew Lock and veteran Teddy Bridgewater, who was acquired from the Carolina Panthers. With Aaron Rodgers reportedly close to returning to play for the Green Bay Packers this season, it appears increasingly likely the Broncos’ job will go to one of the quarterbacks currently in camp.

The Broncos passed on a quarterback with the No. 9 overall pick in the NFL draft to select cornerback Patrick Surtain II. He is expected to be part of a very strong defense with pass rusher Von Miller returning from a 2020 season lost to injury and safety Justin Simmons awarded with a massive new contract over the offseason.

Denver is being offered as a 25-1 longshot to emerge as Super Bowl champion, 11-1 to win the AFC Championship and 6-1 to win the AFC West title by WynnBet. Those are among 15 futures markets being offered around the Broncos by the sportsbook.

Team-Focused Odds
–Broncos to win Super Bowl LVI: 25/1
–Broncos to win AFC Championship: 11/1
–Broncos to win AFC West: 6/1
–Broncos to make Playoffs: Yes — +155 / No — -210
–Broncos highest-scoring team — Regular Season: 50/1
–Broncos exact regular-season wins, with odds
0-3, 80/1
4, 50/1
5, 20/1
6, 10/1
7, 8/1
8, 6/1
9, 4/1
10, 5/1
11, 6/1
12, 8/1
13, 10/1
14, 20/1
15, 35/1
16-17, 60/1

Player-Focused Odds
–Drew Lock to win NFL MVP: 125/1
–Teddy Bridgewater to win NFL MVP: 200/1
–Drew Lock NFL passing-yards leader: 150/1
–Javonte Williams NFL rushing-yards leader: 40/1
–Melvin Gordon NFL rushing-yards leader: 200/1
–Courtland Sutton NFL receiving-yards leader: 150/1
–Jerry Jeudy NFL receiving-yards leader: 150/1
–Javonte Williams to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: 20/1
–Pat Surtain II to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: 12/1

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2019; Carson, California, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley (20) celebrates in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park. The Raiders defeated teh Chargers 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals sign CB Daryl Worley, OL Marcus Henry

The Arizona Cardinals signed a pair of free agents Monday, adding veteran cornerback Daryl Worley and offensive lineman Marcus Henry.

The team did not release details of the contracts, other than announcing both were for one season.

Worley, 26, joins his fifth team as he enters his sixth NFL season after originally being drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the third round in 2016 out of West Virginia. He was with three clubs during the 2020 season alone, spending time with the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Las Vegas Raiders.

Overall, Worley played in 10 games (five starts) during the 2020 season, recording 22 tackles and three passes defensed. In his five seasons, he owns 265 tackles, five interceptions and two sacks in 66 games (54 starts). He has also played for Carolina (2016-17) before joining the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018.

Henry, 28, has played just one NFL game — with the Cowboys last season — since signing with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2016 out of Boise State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is pursued by Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Chris Smith (92) at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens reportedly sign DE Chris Smith

Defensive end Chris Smith will sign with the Baltimore Ravens after working out for the team on Monday, according to multiple media reports.

The team also reportedly brought in pass rushers Dion Jordan and Shilique Calhoun for trials on Monday before deciding to offer Smith a contract.

Smith, 29, has played for four teams during a seven-year NFL career: the Jacksonville Jaguars (2014-16), Cincinnati Bengals (2017), Cleveland Browns (2018-19) and Las Vegas Raiders (2020).

He appeared in eight games for Las Vegas last season, recording one sack, four quarterback hits and five tackles.

In 68 career NFL games (two starts), Smith has 9.5 sacks, 23 QB hits, three forced fumbles, six passes defensed and 72 tackles. The Jaguars made him a fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft out of Arkansas.

Jordan, 31, played in 13 games (one start) for the San Francisco 49ers last season, logging three sacks, five QB hits, one pass defensed and one forced fumble. He previously played for the Miami Dolphins (2013-14), the Seattle Seahawks (2017-18) and the then-Oakland Raiders (2019).

Calhoun, 29, had two sacks, two forced fumbles and 18 tackles in 10 games for the Patriots in 2020. It was his second year in New England after he spent three seasons in Oakland.

–Field Level Media

Wide receiver Tutu Atwell runs after a catch during the University of Louisville   s Football Pro Day at the Trager indoor practice facility on Tuesday. March 30, 2021

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Rams place rookie WR Tutu Atwell on Reserve/COVID-19 list

The Los Angeles Rams placed rookie wide receiver Tutu Atwell on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday.

Atwell, 21, was a second-round pick (57th overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Louisville.

The Rams’ rookies reported to training camp on Sunday. According to the team, Atwell is following NFL protocols by isolating and participating in meetings remotely. He cannot practice until he is cleared.

Being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list means a player has either tested positive for the coronavirus or come in close contact with an infected person or persons.

Atwell caught 139 passes for 2,303 yards and 20 touchdowns in three years at Louisville. He topped the ACC with 1,272 receiving yards in 2019.

–Field Level Media