Broncos coach Fox recovering from surgery; Del Rio named interim head coach

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos on Monday named Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio as the team’s interim head coach, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway announced.

Del Rio will serve as interim head coach in addition to maintaining his current duties as defensive coordinator while Head Coach John Fox recovers from a surgery to replace an aortic valve in his heart.

Fox underwent the surgery early Monday. The team said he was out of surgery and doing well as of 11:45 a.m.

Fox is at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina.

John Fox's wife, Robin, issued a statement. “Our family greatly appreciates the overwhelming support and well-wishes we’ve received for John. Along with his medical team, we will take great care of him so he can fully recover and get back to coaching the Broncos as soon as possible.”

Jack Del Rio fills in

Del Rio led his first team practice Monday morning before he and Elway spoke to the media.

Del Rio, who spent nine years as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-11, has 17 years of NFL coaching experience and is in his second season with the Broncos.

Hired by Denver on in February 2012 as the team's defensive coordinator, Del Rio has helped the Broncos’ defense improve to sixth in the NFL in total yards per game (320.7), first in yards per rush (3.5) and 10th in both points per game (21.1) and takeaways (40) over the past 24 games.

In his third year as an NFL defensive coordinator, Del Rio also worked in that capacity under Fox with Carolina in 2002. That season, he took the NFL’s worst defense in terms of yards per game allowed and turned it into the league’s No. 2-ranked unit before being hired as head coach of the Jaguars the next year.

As head coach for Jacksonville, Del Rio led the club to two playoff appearances in 2005 and 2007, but was eventually fired after posting a losing overall record (69-73) over eight seasons.

Del Rio began his coaching career with the New Orleans Saints, serving as an assistant strength coach in 1997 before moving on to coach the linebackers in 1998. He also spent three seasons (1999-2001) coaching linebackers for the Baltimore Ravens, helping the club to a victory in Super Bowl XXXV during the 2000 season.

A veteran of 11 seasons as an NFL linebacker with New Orleans (1985-86), Kansas City (1987-88), Dallas (1989-91) and Minnesota (1992-95), Del Rio was selected in the third round (68th overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Saints.

He totaled 1,078 tackles, 12 sacks and 13 interceptions during his NFL career and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1994 with the Vikings.

Del Rio becomes the 15th individual to serve as head coach of the Broncos and the fifth to do so on an interim basis.