Updated: August 18, 2003, 11:27 AM ETBy By Darrell Trimble | ESPN Insider
Denver Broncos: Mike Shanahan hasn't won a playoff game in four years, but his back-to-back Super Bowl championships apparently earned him a lifetime position as the team's head coach. Perhaps not a lifetime position, but one that will last at least six more years. Months of talks between Shanahan and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen culminated this weekend and Shanahan was awarded a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Denver through the 2008 season. According to the Denver Post, the deal makes Shanahan the highest paid coach in the game. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Seattle's Mike Holmgren, Washington's Steve Spurrier and Detroit's Steve Mariucci, each of whom makes at least $5 million a season. Jacksonville Jaguars: For the first time since having microfracture surgery on his left knee last November, DE Tony Brackens practiced with the team Sunday. Granted, it was on a limited basis, but nonetheless it was a cause for celebration. Coach Jack Del Rio said Brackens was held back in order to ease him into action, but he also declared that the veteran lineman's workload would increase later in the week. "The only limits on Tony are for us to work him in responsibly," Del Rio told the Florida Times-Union. "We don't want to go from running on the side to a full-go, full-speed, full-contact drill. But he's been cleared and is practicing, and we'll continue to increase his [practice repetitions]." Green Bay Packers: Though the linebacking corps was rebuilt, early signs indicate that the group has a long way to go before they can be considered above average. "We haven't started off too well any time so far," new linebackers coach Mark Duffner told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We've got to keep playing together and start to jell as a unit. We could (change positions), but I feel a little better about the trio as they've lined up." The trio of Hannibal Navies on the strong side, rookie Nick Barnett in the middle and holdover Na'il Diggs on the weak side, played poorly against the Browns on Friday night. Like the Packers, the Browns remade their linebacking unit but unlike Green Bay, they seem to have gotten it right. "The difference in the game was the linebackers," one scout said, referring to the Cleveland game. "Cleveland's were so good and Green Bay's were abysmal. The Browns' starters just flew around and were more involved. Maybe Green Bay's problem is they're playing a lot of base (defense) and they can't hang in there with base."