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2011 Denver Broncos Coaching Staff Preview: The Assistants


In part 1 of this series, I talked about the Big 4 coaches for the Denver Broncos. In part 2, the subject was the position coaches. Here we have part 3 and the final installment of the review. This will cover the two assistants left out of the last review, the two Quality Control coaches and the Strength and Conditioning Staff for the team. The final 7 if you will. And when discussing the Denver Broncos, isn't the number 7 a good one to end with? After all, when number 7 won back to back Super Bowl Rings, he ended his career, right? Well, let;s  just see if we can end this series on such a high note. Ready Break!, er Jump!

Keith Burns - Assistant Special Teams



Following a 13-year playing career in which he became one of the most accomplished Special Teams players in the NFL, former Linebacker Keith Burns begins his 5th season on the Denver Broncos’ staff in 2011 as an Assistant Special Teams coach. Burns played 11 seasons for the Broncos before joining the club’s coaching staff in 2007.

During three seasons assisting with the instruction of Denver’s Special Teams, Burns has worked with a unit that has accounted for three return touchdowns (2 punt return, 1 kickoff return) and two blocked kicks (1 punt, 1 extra point) in addition to posting the 10th-best punt return average (9.5 yds.) in the NFL. The Broncos also have recorded the 2nd-most touchbacks on kickoffs (60) in the league over that span.


Individually, Burns has coached four players who have totaled five AFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards with kickers Matt Prater (2) and Jason Elam (1) along with wide receivers Glenn Martinez (1) and Eddie Royal (1) earning recognition from the league. Prater and Royal also have been tabbed AFC Special Teams Player of the Month by the NFL.


The Broncos had one of the NFL’s top kickoff coverage units in 2009 with Burns working with a group that placed 3rd in the league in average opponent drive start after kickoffs (22.9-yard line). Royal, who ranked 7th in the NFL in punt return average (11.2 yds.), became the 11th player in league history to have both a kickoff and punt return touchdown in the same game (at San Diego, 10/19/09). Prater made 19 of his final 20 Field 


Keith instructed a Broncos Special Teams unit in 2007 that played a key role in several victories, as Jason Elam became the first player since the 1970 NFL merger to convert four walk-off, game-winning Field Goals in the same season (2 in regulation, 2 in overtime). Denver also scored a touchdown on a punt return for the first time in four years (Martinez).

As a player with the Broncos, Burns led the team or tied for its season high in Special-Teams Tackles seven times and totaled 186 Special Teams stops in 166 career games with the club. He also added 70 defensive Tackles, 1.5 Sacks, two pass breakups and one forced fumble as a Bronco.

Keith was a key member of the Broncos’ Super Bowl Championship teams in 1997 and 1998 and helped Denver earn three AFC West titles and six playoff berths. 

Burns entered the NFL with Denver as a 7th-round choice (210th overall) in the 1994 NFL Draft from Oklahoma State University. In addition to playing for the Broncos, he spent the 1999 season with the Chicago Bears and competed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2004 campaign.


For his entire NFL career, Burns played 197 games (3 starts) and totaled 231 Special Teams Tackles. On March 27, 2007, the Denver Broncos announced Burns would retire as Special Teams Captain and assume the role of Assistant Coach Special Teams.


Sam Garnes - Assistant Secondary



Sam Garnes enters his first year with the Broncos after spending the 2010 with Carolina as a Special Teams assistant. After a 7-year playing career as a safety for the New York Giants (1997-2001) and New York Jets (2002-03), he coached with several teams, including in NFL Europe and the UFL.

Sam Garnes enters his first season with Denver and second in the NFL after being hired to his current position as the team’s assistant secondary coach on Jan. 27, 2011. Last season, Garnes was a special teams and strength and conditioning assistant under John Fox in Carolina, where he also worked closely with Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers.


During his playing days with the New York Giants, Garnes played safety for 5 seasons for then-defensive coordinator and current Broncos head coach John Fox. He finished his career with the New York Jets, where he played from 2002-03. Sam started 105-of-106 games and registered 577 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 10 interceptions, 41 passes defensed, 5 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries during career. He was selected by the Giants in the fifth round of the 1997 NFL Draft.

He broke into the professional coaching ranks in NFL Europe in 2006, coaching the secondary for the Cologne Centurions. In 2005, Garnes coached at Emerson (N.J.) High School. Sam made his NFL coaching debut in 2010 as the Special Teams and Strength and Conditioning Assistant for the Carolina Panthers, where he worked with Special Teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers and strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons. Prior to that, he spent five seasons in a variety of coaching positions after a 7-year NFL playing career. He served as a defensive assistant for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL in 2009, helping them win the league's first championship. Garnes also participated in the NFL's Minority Internship Program - first with the Panthers during their Training Camp in 2007 and then with the New Orleans Saints during Training Camp in 2008.


Brian Callahan - Quality Control - Offense



Brian Callahan enters his 2nd NFL season and 2nd campaign with the Broncos. He worked as an offensive coaching assistant for the Broncos in 2010 and helped coach the Running Backs for the team’s final 4 games after Eric Studesville was named the team’s interim head coach. Callahan was a graduate assistant for two seasons (2006-07) at his Alma mater, UCLA.  In 2007, he was responsible for breaking down UCLA opponents’ game video, aiding coaches with game preparation, directing the defensive scout team and breaking down opponents’ special teams units. before spending two seasons (2008-09) at Junipero Serra (Calif.) High School.

Callahan spent the last two years coaching at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., where he also held additional responsibilities as an assistant in its Academic Resource Center. Working as its Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks coach in 2009, he instructed the West Catholic Athletic League’s 1st-ranked receiver, 2nd-ranked rusher and 4th-ranked passer.


Jay Rodgers - Quality Control - Defense



Jay Rodgers enters his 3rd NFL season and 3rd with the Broncos, after serving as a Defensive coaching assistant with the club from 2009-10.

A former college Quarterback, Rodgers spent his 1st season with the Broncos (2009) as coaching assistant working primarily with the defense. He was part of a defensive staff that helped the club rank 7th in the league in yards per game allowed (315.0). Jay was an offensive coach before joining the Broncos, instructing Iowa State’s wide receivers from 2007-08 after coaching quarterbacks at Stephen F. Austin University (2005-06) and Missouri State University (2004).

Rich Tuten - Strength and Conditioning



Rich Tuten enters his 17th season as the Denver Broncos’ strength and Conditioning coach in 2011.

He has also worked as the director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of Florida (1993-94, ‘80-87) as well as the athletic strength director at the University of North Carolina (1988-92). He received a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from Clemson University in 1978 and was a three-year letterman for the Tigers at Nose Guard. 



Greg Saporta - Strength and Conditioning Assistant



Greg Saporta enters his 17th season as assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Broncos in 2011. In that role, he assists Strength and Conditioning Coach Rich Tuten in coordinating the year-round Strength and Conditioning program for the National Football League franchise.

Saporta came to Denver in 1995 from the University of Florida, where he had two separate stints as an Assistant Strength coach under Tuten. He originally began his career as a student assistant at Florida in 1981 and became Assistant Strength coach in 1985. Greg held that position until 1988 when he went to the University of North Carolina to assume the same position from 1988-92, once again working with Tuten, who had been named strength director at the school.

Saporta, 54, returned to Florida in 1992 to resume his position as assistant strength coach, which he held until April 1995 when he joined the Broncos’ staff. Originally from Manhattan, N.Y., Greg received a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a concentration in exercise physiology from Florida in 1985. He previously attended Buffalo State University in New York, where he lettered for two years in football and rugby while also competing on its track team.

Justin Lovett - Strength and Conditioning Assistant



Justin Lovett enters his 2nd year as a Strength and Conditioning Assistant for the Denver Broncos in 2011. Named to his current position on Feb. 23, 2010, he assists Strength and Conditioning Coach Rich Tuten in coordinating the organization’s year-round strength and conditioning program.

Lovett spent the 2009 season as an intern in the Broncos’ strength and conditioning program after starting with the team as a strength and conditioning volunteer during the 2008 offseason.

During the fall of 2008, Lovett served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Texas-El Paso, where he directed strength and conditioning for the women’s soccer program while assisting with football and track and field.

Before gaining experience in the NFL and college, he spent four seasons as the head strength and conditioning coach for Grandview High School in Aurora, Colo. During his time at Grandview, the school was named "The Top Overall Athletic Program" in the state of Colorado by Sports Illustrated in 2008.

Lovett played football and baseball at the University of Findlay during the 1995-96 season before transferring to Colorado State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science in 2003.

This concludes the 2011 Denver Broncos Coaching staff preview. I hope it was illuminating.

Go Broncos!