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Del Rio steps in for Broncos

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio smiles

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio smiles on the sidelines during an game against the Baltimore Ravens in Jacksonville, Fla. (Oct. 24, 2011) (Credit: AP)

The Broncos return today from their bye week with a new head coach. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the former Jaguars head coach, will step in as Denver’s interim head coach until John Fox has recovered from a heart procedure.

Fox had initially planned to undergo surgery in the off-season to replace a heart valve, but after feeling light-headed while playing golf on Saturday, doctors decided to operate this week to rectify the problem. Fox, who became the Broncos’ head coach in 2011, will be out several weeks.

Del Rio is the logical choice to take over in Fox’s absence. He was Fox’s defensive coordinator in Carolina before taking over from Tom Coughlin as the Jaguars’ head coach in 2002. He went 69-73 in nearly nine season with Jacksonville before being fired 11 games into the 2011 season.

Del Rio was hired again by Fox before last season, and helped Denver’s defense improved to second overall in yards allowed and fourth in points allowed. The Broncos won the AFC West, due in large part to the arrival last year of quarterback Peyton Manning.

The Broncos are 7-1 and trail the 9-0 Chiefs in the AFC West. The teams face one another in two weeks. 

Del Rio's name has been mentioned in connection with the vacancy at USC created by the recent firing of head coach Lane Kiffin. Del Rio, a former USC linebacker, is expected to draw major consideration for the Trojans' job once the Broncos' season is over. 

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