Ben Kotwica

Broncos To Conduct Training Camp K Competition

The Broncos will have a kicker not named Brandon McManus in place at the start of the 2023 season, but it remains to be seen who his successor will be. Only one kicker is on Denver’s roster at the moment, but that is likely to change in the near future.

Elliot Fry took part in spring practices for Denver after signing with the team last month. His lone competition at that point was veteran Randy Bullock, who was brought in on a tryout basis without joining the team’s 90-man roster. The former will be a participant in the Broncos’ kicking competition during training camp, but it remains to be seen who will be challenging him.

Mike Klis of 9News notes that at least one addition at the position will be coming in time for next month, which could include Bullock or another experienced option on the lookout for a new opportunity. The likes of Robbie Gould, Mason Crosby, Ryan Succop and Brett Maher remain unsigned, and it will be interesting to monitor their markets as teams look for upgrades or participants in their own competitions. Klis adds that roster cuts could be another source of Denver’s eventual Week 1 kicker.

Fry, 28, has made just three regular season appearances during his career (the most recent of which came in 2021), so his spot is certainly far from assured heading into training camp. Bullock, by contrast, has 138 games of experience but was let go by the Titans as part of a widespread cost-cutting effort on the team’s part. Either of those two, or another addition to be made later, will face the challenge of effectively replacing McManus after his nine-year run in the Mile High City which included generally consistent performances along with a dip in accuracy last season.

“Making that transaction was a tough call,” special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica said on the decision to release McManus. “I think there was a lot of thought going into that… He’s done a lot of great things, but that’s part of the business. Transactions occur, and there will be more transactions. We wish him nothing but the best.

Going to Jacksonville, I think that’s a great spot for him,” Kotwica added. “We’re excited about the guys we have in Elliott and Randy. We’ll see how this takes fold as we move forward to the season.”

Broncos To Hire Ben Kotwica As ST Coordinator; Mike Westhoff To Join Staff

While the Broncos are still searching for their new offensive and defensive coordinators, they are making a coordinator hire Friday. The team is set to add Ben Kotwica as its special teams boss, JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington tweets.

Kotwica has been a special teams coach in the NFL since 2007. He most recently worked as the Vikings’ assistant special teams coach, moving to Minnesota after Kevin O’Connell took over. Kotwica has not worked for Sean Payton previously, but he will head up a staff with a familiar name.

Payton’s Mike Westhoff meeting is expected to produce a hire. The Broncos and Westhoff have agreed to terms, Jeff Legwold of tweets. Westhoff has been on Denver’s radar for a bit, having resided on Payton’s New Orleans staff from 2017-18. He has been retired since, however.

Kotwica, 48, and Westhoff, 75, were on Rex Ryan‘s Jets staff together. The latter worked as Gang Green’s ST coordinator during that period, overlapping with Kotwica from 2007-12. Kotwica took over as the Jets’ ST boss in 2013, after Westhoff’s exit, and headed up Washington and Atlanta’s ST staffs from 2014-20. Despite being out of coaching since the Bills fired him during the 2016 sea son, Ryan has become a frontrunner for the Broncos’ DC job. He would have some familiar coworkers on staff.

Westhoff, who has been in coaching since 1974. He has been an NFL special teams coordinator since 1986, enjoying lengthy tenures with the Dolphins and Jets. A Don Shula hire in Miami back in 1986, Westhoff coached the Dolphins’ special teams for 15 seasons. He then headed up the Jets’ for 12 years. He will be the second former ST coordinator the Broncos have brought out of retirement in two years. Denver hired Jerry Rosburg in September to oversee game management, after concerning issues early in the season. Rosburg ended up finishing the season as the Broncos’ interim HC.

On his first day in charge, Rosburg fired Broncos ST coordinator Dwayne Stukes. Veteran NFL reporter Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings slotted the Broncos 25th. While the Eagles and Chiefs ranked 31st and 32nd this past season, respectively, those squads had considerably more to fall back on compared to the Broncos.

Coaching Notes: June, Vikes, Saints, Bengals

The Colts are making an interesting hire. Gus Bradley‘s first Indianapolis defensive staff will include Cato June, a former Pro Bowl Colts linebacker in the 2000s. June will make a big jump, going from Bowling Green’s outside linebackers coach to the Colts’ assistant linebackers coach, Pete Thamel of tweets. June made a name for himself in Indianapolis in the mid-2000s, climbing from 2003 sixth-round pick to 2005 Pro Bowler. June then started all four Colts playoff games during their 2006 Super Bowl-winning season. June played seven NFL seasons, before finishing his career in the United Football League, and has been coaching at the college level since 2015. Bradley coached June as the Buccaneers’ linebackers coach in the late 2000s.

Here is the latest from the league’s coaching staffs:

  • The Saints are also turning to the college ranks to fill one of their positional jobs. Kodi Burns will move from Tennessee’s wide receivers coach to the same position with the Saints, Thamel tweets. Burns is just 33 but has been a college position coach since 2014. He worked as Auburn’s passing-game coordinator in the two seasons prior to a 2021 move to Tennessee. Curtis Johnson, who interviewed for the Dolphins’ OC job, held this position last year. It is not yet certain if Johnson is part of new HC Dennis Allen‘s plans.
  • Veteran special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica will resurface in Minnesota. The Vikings hired Kotwica as their assistant ST coordinator. Formerly the ST coordinator with the Jets, Washington and Falcons, Kotwica sat out last season. The Falcons fired him midway through the 2020 campaign. The Vikings hired Matt Daniels as their ST coordinator.
  • Daronte Jones is also joining Kevin O’Connell‘s staff, doing so as the Vikes’ defensive backs coach. This will be a quick return for Jones, who served as Mike Zimmer‘s DBs coach for the 2020 Vikings. Jones became LSU’s defensive coordinator in 2021. Tuesday saw both ex-Tigers coordinators — Jones and OC Jake Peetz — land on their feet in the NFL. Peetz is now on the Rams’ staff. Jones, 43, previously worked with the Dolphins and Bengals’ secondaries. The Vikings also hired Mike Smith as outside linebackers coach. Not the ex-Falcons HC, Smith spent the past three seasons coaching the Packers’ outside linebackers. Smith had left the Packers to pursue other opportunities; this will now mean providing intel to an NFC North rival.
  • The Bengals‘ offensive line stands as one of the league’s top position groups to monitor. The unit will feature a new coach, with Cincinnati naming Derek Frazier as an assistant O-line coach. Frazier, who formerly worked as the Jets’ assistant O-line coach (2019-20), has extensive experience at the college level. He will share assistant O-line coaching duties with incumbent Ben Martin. Frank Pollack remains the Bengals’ top O-line coach. Cincinnati will also move Jordan Kovacs from defensive quality control coach to assistant inside linebackers coach. Kovacs, 31, has been with the Bengals since 2019.
  • The Bills are adding Jaylon Finner to their staff, per Aaron Wilson of Formerly the safeties coach at Division II Texas A&M Commerce, Finner will work as a defensive assistant in Buffalo.

Falcons Fire ST Coordinator Ben Kotwica

It’s been a busy day for the Falcons, and the changes keep coming.’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that Atlanta has fired special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica. Running backs coach Bernie Parmalee will take over the position.

[RELATED: Falcons Fire Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff]

ESPN Vaughn McClure notes that Kotwica had been on the hot seat since the team’s Week 2 loss to Dallas. Late in that game, the Falcons’ special teams unit fell victim to the “watermelon” onside kick late. The Cowboys recovered the ball and proceeded to win on a game-winning field goal.

Kotwica, 45, joined the Falcons in 2019. He had spent the previous five seasons as the Redskins special teams coordinator, and he also held that role with the Jets in 2013. Parmalee, who spent nine years in the league as a player, has served as the Falcons running backs coach since 2018. McClure tweets that game management coordinator Will Harriger will be the new running backs coach.

Earlier today, we learned that the Falcons had replaced Dan Quinn with defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. McClure tweets that Jeff Ulbrich will now take over as defensive coordinator. The former third-round pick had served as the Falcons linebackers coach since 2015, and he had earned a promotion to assistant head coach earlier this year.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Falcons, Panthers

New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will call plays in Tampa Bay, head coach Bruce Arians told The Rich Eisen Show (Twitter link via Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times). That’s something of a surprise, as Arians led the offense when he was the Cardinals’ head coach. Leftwich took over as Arizona’s OC after Mike McCoy was fired four games into the 2018 campaign, but he couldn’t get the Cardinals out of the NFL rankings cellar in terms of points and yards. Arians will still have a heavy hand in Tampa Bay’s offense, while new run game coordinator Harold Goodwin will also have input.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Former Redskins special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica has joined the Falcons in the same capacity, Atlanta announced today. He’ll replace Keith Armstrong, who was one of three Atlanta coordinators fired after the 2018 campaign. Washington ranked two spots higher in special teams DVOA than Atlanta a season ago, per Football Outsiders, finishing with better results in kickoffs and punt returns. Kotwica has worked in the NFL since 2007, working his way up from quality control coach to special teams coordinator with the Jets.
  • Armstrong, meanwhile, will take over as the Buccaneers‘ new special teams coach, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. He’d been linked to Tampa Bay ever since Arians was rumored to be taking the head coaching position, and for good reason: as Auman notes, Armstrong played for Arians at Temple 35 years ago. Armstrong, who was a candidate for the Cardinals’ head coaching job in 2018, was fired by the Falcons last week, but quickly interviewed for a gig with the Bills before landing with the Buccaneers.
  • The Buccaneers have hired former Broncos offensive line coach Sean Kugler for the same position, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). The Bills also had interest in interviewing Kugler before he signed on with Tampa Bay, according to Ryan Talbot of New York Upstate. Kugler, previously the head coach at UTEP, joined Denver in 2018 and guided a Broncos front five which ranked as a top-12 unit in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate. Other Tampa Bay hires include former Jets coach Mike Caldwell (linebackers) and ex-Cardinals coach Rick Christophel (tight ends), per Auman (Twitter links).
  • After being fired by the Jaguars last week, Perry Fewell is interviewing for the Panthers‘ secondary coach job on Wednesday, tweets Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. A former defensive coordinator for the Bills and Giants, Fewell worked with Carolina coach head coach Ron Rivera in Chicago in 2005. The Panthers still have Richard Rodgers in place as a secondary coach, but they’ve lost multiple defensive backs coach within the past year. Curtis Fuller resigned as the team’s secondary coach last summer, while assistant Jeff Imamura was fired as part of a housecleaning in early December.