Loveland Reporter-Herald

A veteran name

- Payton must determine if incumbent DC will be back as he assembles staff

Second-year Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain has swept All-pro honors and traveled extensivel­y. Now he’s set to attend his first Pro Bowl Games this weekend in Las Vegas and then return to Denver for a midfebruar­y launch of his new foundation.

On Tuesday, he and the rest of the Broncos learned their new head coach is Sean Payton.

Who will coach Surtain and the defense? That’s a key question as Payton finalizes his contract.

Payton’s not the only one who has a say in whether coordinato­r Ejiro Evero returns to Denver for a second season, of course. The 42-year-old is still in the mix for head coaching jobs in Arizona and Indianapol­is.

“If we part ways or if he stays, he’s a great coach,” Surtain told The Post. “Hopefully he stays here for as long as he can because obviously our defense was on point this year with him. Even if he goes to another team, he’s going to shine a light in that room and provide a lot of leadership qualities wherever he is.”

Former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio has been mentioned in media stories as a possible defensive coordinato­r candidate but multiple league sources in the past two days have told The Post that Fangio returning to Denver just more than a year after being fired is unlikely.

If Evero does not get a head coaching job and isn’t retained by Payton, he’ll be in demand. ESPN reported Wednesday that Minnesota is hoping for a chance to interview him at some point for its defensive coordinato­r position. Denver can block lateral interviews unless Payton releases him because he’s under contract for 2023 — and he has deep connection­s on both the 49ers and Miami coaching staffs, among others.

On a podcast last week Colorado head coach Deion Sanders said that Mike Zimmer, the former Vikings head coach who served as an analyst at Jackson State in 2022, was joining his staff in Boulder in a to-be-determined capacity. Zimmer as of Wednesday afternoon was not yet listed in CU’S athletic department staff directory.

Zimmer also happens to be close friends with Payton and the duo spent 2003-05 together on Bill Parcells’ staff in Dallas.

If Payton is looking for a coaching veteran in the non-fangio department, checking in on Zimmer would be a natural move. Zimmer’s eight years in Minnesota also overlapped with Denver general manager George Paton’s time with the franchise.

Lombardi was on Payton’s staff from 2007-13 and again from 2016-20 after a two-year stint as Detroit’s offensive coordinato­r and coached quarterbac­ks for him for 10 seasons. He was the Chargers’ coordinato­r the past two seasons.

A pair of younger coaches who have history with Payton and would be in line for promotions from their current clubs if they interviewe­d in Denver include Saints quarterbac­ks coach/ passing game coordinato­r Ronald Curry (interviewe­d for Tampa’s offensive coordinato­r job Wednesday) and Buffalo quarterbac­ks coach Joe Brady.

“Our guys are under contract, so the only guys who could actually move without our permission are guys that are being promoted into coordinato­r positions,” New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis told reporters recently. “I’m sure if there was somebody they really wanted, who was a lateral move, he could call and ask and we’d probably say no.”

Pavel Zacha scored twice in the third period as the Boston Bruins held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Derek Forbort and Brandon Carlo both had goals in the second period as Boston snapped a three-game winless skid. A.J. Greer also scored in the final period and Linus Ullmark made 33 saves.

Mitchell Marner scored on the power play, his 19th goal of the season, for Toronto. Calle Jarnkrok had a goal in the third to keep the Maple Leafs in the game. Ilya Samsonov stopped 24 shots in his eighth consecutiv­e game in net for Toronto.

Samsonov was 5-1-1 over his last seven starts with a .925 save percentage and 2.24 goals-against average.

Stefan Noesen had a goal and an assist to help lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Sebastian Aho, Brent Burns, Derek Stepan and Jordan Martinook also scored for the Hurricanes, who have won seven games in a row. Antti Raanta made 29 saves.

Alex Tuch scored the lone goal for Buffalo. Ukko-pekka Luukkonen made 29 saves.

The Hurricanes completely dominated the Sabres out of the gates, taking control of the game and jumping out to an early 3-0 lead.

Things went from bad to worse late in the second period for Buffalo. Sabres leading scorer Tage Thompson left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. Thompson had been trying to play through injury in recent days and missed practice on Monday. Thompson has 34 goals and 68 points in 50 games. The injury puts his status for this weekend’s NHL Allstar Game in jeopardy.

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