The Austria defender became a hugely popular figure during a four-and-a-half year stint with the club when he joined from Brann in 2005. A scorer in the 2-1 last-day win at Sheffield United which secured Wigan’s survival in 2007, Scharner’s wacky dress sense also earned him hero status and following his exit to West Brom, the defender opted not to celebrate when he scored against his old club last season. And, when Martinez came calling during the mid-season transfer window, Scharner had no hesitation in accepting, even though he was only six months into a two-year contract with Hamburg. Martinez said: “Paul has been a very good influence so far.” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has hailed the impact Paul Scharner has had following his return to the DW Stadium in January. Press Association Once again he finds himself embroiled in a relegation fight, and cast in the role of key man following the recent injuries to fellow defenders Antolin Alcaraz and Maynor Figueroa Martinez added: “He brought a real experience at the back and has taken a lot of responsibility in helping the team to get results. Obviously he had prior knowledge of the club, which meant he didn’t need any adaptation or transitional period.” Scharner’s popularity could be a crucial factor in ensuring Wigan’s supporters stay with their team for a tense three weeks, in which huge doubts over their Premier League future are clouding a first appearance in the FA Cup final. On Saturday, Scharner heads back to West Brom with his team five points adrift of safety and time running out to save themselves. Wigan do have the knowledge of losing just once in their last four visits to the Hawthorns, including gaining a narrow victory last season. But clearly Wigan are reaching the point of no return, which is why they are urging supporters to make the trip down the M6. “The relationship between the players and the fans is crucial at this stage of the season,” said Martinez. “Paul has always been an admired player by the fans and he brings that chemistry. It is important we are closer than ever because of the magnificent year it can be. “We need to make sure we keep playing our football and use every opportunity in the league to get the points we deserve.”
The NFL and the players association agreed last week to an opt-out clause for the upcoming season. Those who choose to voluntarily sit out will receive a $150,000 stipend and those with medical opt outs will receive $350,000 rather than their contractual salary. Elway said Peko notified the Broncos “it was more dangerous for him” to play during the pandemic. It’s uncertain whether Peko has a medical condition himself that imperiled his health or if his decision to skip the season was related to his wife’s recent bout with cancer.A year ago, Peko left the Buffalo Bills training camp to be with his wife, Giuliana, who was battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The couple later said she was cancer free. Peko, 27, spent parts of the 2016 and 2017 seasons in Denver, which signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State. He was in his second stint with the Broncos this year after playing with the Bills and Colts in 2018 and ’19. Broncos’ Kyle Peko opts out of 2020 season, Wilkinson on PUP Associated Press July 28, 2020 Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditBroncos general manager John Elway confirmed Tuesday that veteran defensive tackle Kyle Peko has opted out of the 2020 season over COVID-19 concerns.In addition to placing Peko on the reserve/higher risk opt-out list, the Broncos placed tackle Elijah Wilkinson on the physically unable to perform list and rookie guard Netane Muti on the non-football injury list. Wilkinson’s trip to the PUP could hinder the team’s plans to have him battle incumbent Garett Bolles for the starting left tackle job next month. Wilkinson and Muti count against the 80-man roster.___Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL The Broncos have been saying all offseason that left tackle was among the biggest position battles that would be decided at training camp. Before Wilkinson was placed on PUP on Tuesday, coach Vic Fangio was asked if the unique offseason put Bolles in a stronger position to fend off Wilkinson despite being flagged 46 times in his 48 career starts.“I think it remains to be seen who has any sort of advantage or disadvantage based upon the current atmosphere,” Fangio said. “I do think Garett — I saw him the other day — has had a very good offseason. I think he feels he’s in his best spot both physically, mentally and emotionally than he’s ever been in during his career. I think he feels good coming back with the same offensive line coach (Mike Munchak) for the first time I think in his career. He’s had me as the head coach now for two years. “I think the arrow is up as far as it goes for Garett. That’s easy to say here as we sit late July. We’ll see how it unfolds. I think he’s in a good spot as it relates to everything as much as he can be.”The Broncos also waived receiver Zimari Manning, a rookie from Tarlton State, bringing the roster to the league-mandated 80.
MORE: Breaking down Alabama’s Citrus Bowl victoryHere are the five biggest questions for Alabama this offseason:Will Tua Tagovailoa stay?That is the biggest domino for Alabama this offseason. Tagovailoa is recovering from hip surgery and will make his decision on Jan. 6.If Tagovailoa returns, then the potential rewards are obvious: He has piled up 7,442 passing yards, 87 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions while compiling a 22-2 record as a starter. Provided his rehab works out, he would be ready for one last ride with the Crimson Tide if he spurns the NFL draft.If Tagovailoa leaves, then Jones likely would be the starter; but former four-star recruits Taulia Tagovailoa and Paul Tyson, along with incoming freshman Bryce Young, would be in the conversation to take over. Saban knows how to manage quarterback controversies, but this would be the most wide-open battle since freshman Jalen Hurts took over the starting job in the 2016 opener vs. USC.Who else goes to NFL draft?The Crimson Tide received a lift when linebacker Dylan Moses, a Sporting News preseason All-American who missed this season with a knee injury, announced he would return to school for his senior season.Let’s say Tagovailoa stays. Would that be enough to persuade any combination of receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith to return? What about running back Najee Harris? This is the class that rose to stardom on the spot in the 2018 College Football Playoff championship game against Georgia. Would they want to come back and attempt to finish on top? Offensive linemen Alex Leatherwood and safety Xavier McKinney also have decisions to make.Alabama has been able to withstand that roster attrition better than anybody else under Saban. This draft class, however, has the potential to be large if everyone goes.MORE: Alabama tacks on final, unnecessary touchdown vs. MichiganWill Saban shuffle coaching staff?Can Saban keep this coaching staff together — and does he want to?The offense thrived under Steve Sarkisian and made the necessary adjustments after Tagovailoa’s injury. Alabama stayed on pace in scoring offense and total offense with the other Playoff contenders. Unless Sarkisian entertains a head-coaching job, which seems unlikely, he should be back. That should mean more of the same on offense.Defensive coordinator Pete Golding is a little more intriguing. Alabama allowed an average of 47 points in losses to LSU and Auburn, and ranked outside the top 10 in scoring defense and total defense. Those aren’t numbers according to standard, and it was clear throughout most of the season that the Crimson Tide did not have a Playoff-caliber defense.Still, Alabama fielded one of its youngest defenses ever of Saban’s tenure, due to injuries to several key contributors. And, given the drama around last year’s mass exodus on the coaching staff, some continuity wouldn’t hurt.Can Saban avoid three-year title drought?Saban will turn 69 on Halloween, and he faces the usual round of retirement speculation as he enters another that 14th season with the program. The Citrus Bowl win marked nine straight seasons with at least 11 wins under Saban, but there is a pressure point heading into 2020. Since Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide haven’t had three consecutive seasons without a national championship.That is an absurd standard, but it’s one Saban has been able to meet with “The Process.” Critics are going to point to cracks in the dynasty, given the high-profile losses to Clemson, LSU and Auburn the last two seasons. Next year’s team can use the motivation of watching either LSU or Clemson win the national championship, and there will be enough talent to win a national title no matter who comes back.Saban will have more than enough to work with, on and off the field. No. 9 Alabama beat No. 17 Michigan 35-16 on Wednesday to cap the 2019 season with an 11-2 record. The Crimson Tide responded well to missing the College Football Playoff for the first time, but there are even more questions heading into Nick Saban’s 14th season with the Crimson Tide.Those questions range from the Crimson Tide’s 2020 schedule, which players return for their senior season or leave for the NFL draft and what the coaching staff looks like heading into the next decade. How will Alabama handle tough schedule?Alabama should face less criticism for its schedule next season, given a neutral-site opener against USC and a September blockbuster with Georgia. Alabama will travel to LSU as well, making for a tough schedule in the Tide’s bid at a national championship.Here’s a look at Alabama’s full 2020 schedule:Alabama 2020 football scheduleDateOpponentSept. 5vs. USC (Arlington, Texas)Sept. 12vs. Georgia StateSept. 19vs. GeorgiaSept. 26vs. Kent StateOct. 3at Ole MissOct. 10at ArkansasOct. 17vs. Mississippi StateOct. 24at TennesseeOct. 31OffNov. 7at LSUNov. 14vs. UT-MartinNov. 21vs. Texas A&MNov. 28vs. AuburnThe good news is Georgia, Texas A&M and Auburn all come to Bryant-Denny Stadium, but the season likely hinges on that Nov. 7 showdown in Tiger Stadium. In that regard, nothing has changed. Saban will be on the sideline for that one. It’s just a matter of who is coming with him for 2020.