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NFL: Denver Broncos bring back former coach Gary Kubiak in scouting role

Gary Kubiak’s separation from the NFL is over.

Kubiak is returning to the Denver Broncos in a scouting capacity seven months after stepping down as their head coach over health concerns .

Kubiak will serve as a senior personnel adviser, scouting college and pro players. He’ll be based out of his Houston home and make periodic trips to Broncos headquarters for personnel meetings, general manager John Elway said Tuesday.

“With as much experience as he has evaluating players, Gary’s going to be a tremendous resource for our personnel department,” Elway said. “He’ll primarily help on the college side and assist us in free agency as well.”

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It’s just the kind of fit Kubiak had in mind at his retirement news conference when he said he still had a passion for the game even though he could no longer tolerate the rigors of being an NFL head coach.

“I’m getting out of coaching, but I have a lot to give,” Kubiak said at his farewell news conference on Jan. 2. “I’m going to find something else to do and I’m going to wake up with that same passion and do that.”

Kubiak went 24-11 in two seasons as Broncos head coach, guiding the team to a win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50 in his first season. Kubiak suffered a complex migraine last season and turned over offensive play-calling duties to his staff. He retired after the Broncos finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs, and Elway hired first-time head coach Vance Joseph, a Kubiak protege, as his replacement.

Kubiak went 87-77 in his decade as an NFL head coach, including eight seasons in Houston, where he suffered a mini-stroke at halftime of a game against Indianapolis in 2013.

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He’s spent 22 years with the Broncos, nine as Elway’s backup QB from 1983-91, 11 as offensive coordinator from 1995-2005 and two as head coach. He’s been a part of all three of the franchise’s Super Bowl victories.

In a statement, Kubiak called it an honor to “continue to be part of this great organization.”

“I said when I left that I still wanted to be involved in football,” Kubiak said. “This gives me an opportunity to be involved with the game, and I’m excited to get to work.”

Patriots receiver Hawkins retires, pledges brain to research

Receiver Andrew Hawkins says he is retiring from the NFL and donating his brain to research.

The six-year NFL veteran signed with the New England Patriots in May as a free agent. But he said in a video on uninterrupted.com that his body isn’t responding as he prepared for training camp.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation says Hawkins has pledged his brain for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The degenerative disease is known to cause cognitive and behavioral problems in athletes, members of the military and others who sustained repeated head trauma.

The 31-year-old undrafted free agent out of Toledo played three seasons each with the Bengals and Browns. In 2014 he had career highs of 63 catches and 824 yards. He also helped the Montreal Alouettes win back-to-back Grey Cup championships in the Canadian Football League.

Jaguars make Linder one of NFL’s highest-paid centers

The Jacksonville Jaguars have made Brandon Linder one of the NFL’s highest-paid centers.

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According to a person familiar with negotiations, Linder signed a five-year contract extension worth a little more than $50 million Tuesday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Jaguars do not disclose contract details.

Linder’s $10 million average salary is the most of any center in the league, and the deal includes more than $20 million guaranteed. NFL Network reported the guaranteed money at $24 million. Atlanta’s Alex Mack and Dallas’ Travis Frederick are the only NFL centers with more guaranteed money.

Linder, a third-round draft pick from Miami in 2014, has started 31 games in three seasons. He missed two games because of knee and ankle injuries last year. He also sat out one game as a rookie and missed 13 in 2015 because of a shoulder injury.

Roof will remain closed on Falcons’ new stadium in opener

The retractable roof for the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be closed when the facility debuts for an Atlanta Falcons preseason game next month.

There’s no date set on when the roof will be open for an event, even though the roof petals were open on Tuesday when Falcons and MLS Atlanta United officials led a media tour of the stadium.

Issues with the roof forced delays in the opening of the stadium. Those delays pushed back some fine-tuning in the mechanism of the roof.

“The roof will be in closed position for our opening events while some remaining work to fully automate the retractable portion of the roof is completed,” Steve Cannon, chief executive officer of Falcons and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank’s AMB Group, told The Associated Press.

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That final work on the roof can’t be done at the same time other work is being completed.

Cannon said games for the Falcons and Atlanta United are expected to be played with the roof open “later this fall.”

Dolphins linebacker Misi goes on injured reserve

Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi’s season has ended two days before the start of training camp.

A six-year starter, Misi was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after he failed to receive medical clearance. Misi suffered a career-threatening neck injury last season and played in only three games.

The Dolphins also signed cornerback Alterraun Verner, an eight-year NFL veteran who started 70 games for the Titans and Buccaneers. He is expected to compete for playing time at slot cornerback.


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