Category Archives: NFL

New Orleans Saints WR Mike Thomas returns to practice

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas returned to practice Thursday, giving him an opportunity  to return to the lineup for the first time since Week 1.

It’s still unclear if Thomas (ankle/hamstring) will be able to play Sunday at Chicago. But he was participating in individual drills during the early portion of practice open to the media Thursday — which is something he did not do last week or on Wednesday of this week.

Thomas, the NFL’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, was initially sidelined by a high ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 1. He appeared close to returning in Week 5, but then he was benched for team disciplinary reasons after a practice altercation in which he punched teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

Then Thomas returned to practice after New Orleans’ Week 6 bye — only to suffer a new hamstring injury. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that an MRI exposed a Grade 1 hamstring strain that was expected to sideline Thomas for one to two weeks.

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The Saints could certainly use him at Chicago.

Their No. 2 receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, is on the reserve-COVID list. And undrafted rookie receiver Marquez Callaway, who led the team with 75 yards on eight catches last week, has been dealing with an ankle injury of his own.

Thomas and Callaway were formally listed as limited in Thursday’s practice.

Sanders could technically be eligible to return to activity for the first time on Sunday after testing positive last Thursday. But he stated that he will miss two games on Uninterrupted’s “17 Weeks” podcast on SiriusXM/Pandora.

Callaway was present for the start of Thursday’s practice but did not participate in the portion open to the media.

The Saints (4-2) have won three consecutive games despite their depleted WR corps, with Drew Brees and the passing offense finding a better rhythm by the week. They converted 12 of 14 third-down attempts and never punted in last week’s 27-24 triumph over the Carolina Panthers.

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Cincinnati Bengals trade Carlos Dunlap to Seattle Seahawks

Veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap has been traded to the Seattle Seahawks for offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, it was revealed Wednesday.

The Seahawks’ defense has permitted the most yards of any team through six games in NFL history, and their pass rush has been a primary issue. The unit has only nine sacks through six games and didn’t even register an official hit on Kyler Murray during an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night.

Due to having to go through COVID-19 protocols, the earliest Dunlap could make his Seahawks debut is Week 9 at Buffalo.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous as hell but I’m excited,” Dunlap said on Instagram story about joining the Seahawks. “… It’s all up from here. It’s all up from here. Let’s go. I get to play. Above all, I get to play.”

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The trade ends a Cincinnati saga that spiraled past its breaking point Wednesday, when the Bengals asked Dunlap not to come to the team’s facilities as they sought a trading partner, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini, confirming a report by NFL Network.

Dunlap, 31, had two years left on a contract extension that was set to expire at the end of the 2021 campaign.

However, the likelihood of Dunlap finishing his career in Cincinnati diminished after the events of recent weeks.

The 2010 second-round draft pick had grown increasingly frustrated with his role in the Bengals’ defense and had come off the bench in the past three matches.

At the end of the team’s 37-34 loss to the visiting Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Dunlap went after defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo regarding his playcalling, according to a source.

The defensive end also posted a property listing minutes after the loss on social media in posts that were later deleted.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor called a news conference Wednesday evening after the trade became official.

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Antonio Brown signs one year contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antonio Brown has another team and another shot at playing in the NFL.

Brown, who is serving an eight-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, officially signed a one-year deal with the Bucs Tuesday.

The deal is worth up to $2.5 million but is heavily weighted with incentives and no guaranteed money.

Brown is going through COVID-19 protocol, can attend meetings and work with strength and conditioning coaches. He is eligible to initiate practicing with the team when his suspension ends Nov. 3. Brown will earn a base salary of $750,000 and has $250,000 in per game roster bonuses.

He also has three, $250,000 performance bonuses he could reach for receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. But those performance incentives are only payable if the Bucs reach the playoffs.

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In addition, there is a $750,000 bonus for winning the Super Bowl.

The Bucs are Brown’s third team since 2018.

He was traded from the Steelers to the Raiders for two draft picks but never played a match for them. A series of mishaps and unexcused absences led Jon Gruden’s team to release him.

Brown played one game with the New England Patriots with Tom Brady last campaign, catching five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in a rout over Miami.

But the Patriots cut him when he ran afoul of the law for assaulting a moving van driver.

It’s the only game Brown has played in more than 700 days. But he will try to carve out a role on a 5-2 Bucs team that incorporates Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller and rookie Tyler Johnson at receiver. Brown has more than 11,000 career receiving yards and 75 touchdowns.

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Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. has torn ACL in left knee

Odell Beckham Jr.’s season is officially over.

The Cleveland Browns revealed the star wide receiver suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Beckham underwent an MRI on Monday morning, which confirmed the tear.

He was injured on the Browns’ second snap Sunday while attempting to chase down a Cincinnati Bengals defender following a Baker Mayfield interception.

“Obviously it’s a big loss,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski stated Monday. “He’s a huge part of what we do. So now we’ll just have to huddle up, and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. “You never replace a player of Odell’s caliber with one player. It’s going to take multiple guys,” Stefanski added. “That’s the challenge we have and I think our guys will be up to the challenge.”

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On Mayfield’s first passing attempt versus the Bengals, he tried to force a throw to Beckham down the sideline.

The ball, however, was underthrown and picked off by Darius Phillips. Beckham turned around to chase the Cincinnati defensive back the other way, but crashed into Phillips and Cleveland fullback Andy Janovich, who also was trying to make the tackle.

After going 0-of-5 in the first quarter, Mayfield bounced back without Beckham to complete a franchise-record 21 consecutive passes and five touchdowns, including a game-winning, 24-yard scoring strike to rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones with 15 seconds left.

Afterward, Mayfield confessed to feeling guilty for the underthrow that led to Beckham’s injury.

“I’m probably going to beat myself up about that one for a long time,” Mayfield said. “He’s a guy who fights for this team, and in doing that, he got hurt. … it sucks.”

Mayfield stated that at halftime Beckham told him to “go be great” in the second half. Mayfield went on to become just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw three go-ahead touchdown passes in a fourth quarter in Cleveland’s 37-34 victory.

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Arizona Cardinals win on OT field goal to knock Seattle Seahawks from ranks of unbeaten

Of all the players to lead the Arizona Cardinals to an overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks, it was one of the most unlikely.

Rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with 1:04 left in overtime on his fourth snap of the match. He didn’t play in the first half.

That led to Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez redeeming himself after missing the game-winning field goal earlier in overtime, making a 48-yard kick with 20 seconds left in the extra period to give Arizona a 37-34 win while handing the Seahawks their first loss of the campaign.

Arizona improved to 5-2, holding onto second place in the NFC West with the Los Angeles Rams playing Monday night. Coach Kliff Kingsbury nearly cost the Cardinals the game earlier in overtime, when he iced Gonzalez with 2:47 left on second-and-15. Gonzalez made the initial kick but it didn’t count, then he missed the next one.

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Then came Simmons’ pick.

It was just another typical Cardinals-Seahawks game — full of drama, twists and turns.

Both teams combined for 1,091 yards — 572 by Seattle and 519 by Arizona.

Kyler Murray threw for 360 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on 34-for-48 passing. He also had 67 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

DeAndre Hopkins had 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Running back Chase Edmonds, who had two of the biggest plays in overtime, caught all seven of his targets for 87 yards. Larry Fitzgerald had 62 yards while catching all eight of his targets.

The match was moved to Sunday night amid concerns the Bucs-Raiders game might have to be postponed due to a positive coronavirus test on the Raiders and additional players being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list due to contact tracing.

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Minnesota Vikings’ Danielle Hunter to have season ending neck surgery

The Vikings will forge through the remainder of the campaign without their top two pass-rushers, one of whom has not seen the field in 2020.

Hours after Minnesota traded Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens, recouping much of the draft capital they sent to Jacksonville when they acquired the defensive end in August, a league source confirmed to ESPN that Danielle Hunter will undergo season-ending neck surgery to repair a herniated disc.

Hunter’s injury was initially described as a “tweak” by coach Mike Zimmer and was expected to keep him out six to eight weeks, according to a source. The defensive end’s last practice was Aug. 14, the Vikings’ first day of practice during training camp.

Hunter, who had 54.5 sacks through five seasons and back-to-back Pro Bowl honors, agreed to an extension in 2018 and is set to be under contract for the next three seasons. In spite of his production, becoming the fastest player ever to reach 50.0 sacks, Hunter is the 18th-highest-paid defensive end with an average salary of $14.4 million per year.

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It was widely expected that the Vikings would have to restructure Hunter’s contract in the upcoming offseason to better reflect his value. But with the salary cap expected to drop considerably in 2021, Minnesota will soon need to resolve whether they can make Hunter the league’s highest-paid defensive end with a deal north of the $27 million per year paid to Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa, or potentially entertain offers for a trade.

The Vikings have not publicly acknowledged Hunter’s season-ending surgery. Weeks ago, the defensive end traveled to New York to get a second opinion on his neck injury.  Zimmer had said that the visit did not reveal any further clarity about his condition.

“[He’s] still kind of mulling his options, I think,” Zimmer said on Oct. 14.

Earlier Thursday, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman discussed the team’s decision to trade Ngakoue to the Ravens and whether he thought back in August that Minnesota would be able to field both pass-rushers this season, in spite of Hunter’s injury.

“I would say it was more — because we didn’t know where Danielle was at the time — what you envision sometimes unfortunately doesn’t always come true,” Spielman said.

“To have a Yannick and Danielle coming off the edges, to have an Anthony Barr and the way Zim has schematically used him to create pressure on the quarterback so he’s one-on-one with running backs, that’s how we envisioned it. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out like that. You try to readjust with some of the top playmakers you don’t have, especially on the defensive side. That’s what the coaches are doing right now.”

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Seattle Seahawks sign Mychal Kendricks to practice squad

The Seahawks made a modification at safety Wednesday with Lano Hill going to IR, promoting Damarious Randall from the practice squad. They also brought back a familiar face at linebacker. 

Damarious Randall has already been elevated from the practice squad twice to play in the Seahawks’ past two matches, and now the veteran safety has a spot on the 53-man roster, having been signed Wednesday to take the spot of safety Lano Hill, who was placed on injured reserve with a back injury that has kept him out of the past three games.

The Seahawks also added a pair of veteran linebackers to the practice squad, signing Mychal Kendricks, a 14-game starter for Seattle last campaign, and Ray-Ray Armstrong, an eight-year veteran who has appeared in 84 games over his career with the Cowboys, 49ers, Giants, Raiders, Rams and Browns.

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Randall, a 2015 first-round pick with 56 career starts on his resume, signed to Seattle’s practice squad ahead of the Week 4 game at Miami, and was elevated from the practice squad both for that game and the Week 5 victory over Minnesota. Under a new rule this season, practice squad players can be elevated for game weekends without counting towards the 53-man roster limit, but can only do so twice, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll indicated on Monday that this move could be coming with Randall.

“I hope we’ll get to see more of Randall going forward,” Carroll stated. “He’s a good ballplayer and he’s been around us now enough as he’s starting to dig in. So I’m excited about what he can add.”

Carroll’s Monday press conference also hinted that Hill’s move to IR could be coming.

“Lano’s got some issues with his back that haven’t really turned in the right direction,” Carroll said. “We’re looking after him right now. He’s not ready to come back yet.”

Kendricks, a former second-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, started 17 games for the Seahawks over the past two campaigns after signing with the Seahawks late in the 2018 season, both at weakside and strongside linebacker.

Last year Kendricks had 71 tackles, 3.0 sacks and one interception as Seattle’s starting strongside linebacker, but tore his ACL in Week 17, causing him to miss Seattle’s two playoff games. Kendricks is the latest accomplished veteran to join Seattle’s practice squad after Randall and former All-Pro defensive tackle Damon Harrison.

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Tennessee Titans LT Taylor Lewan confirms he suffered torn ACL

The Titans look primed to make another deep playoff run. But they’re going to have to do it without one of their better players.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan confirmed via Twitter that he suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s 42-36 overtime victory over the Texans. The three-time Pro Bowler went down in the second quarter of the OT thriller in which Tennessee managed to remain undefeated. An MRI on Monday confirmed he’s now lost for the season.

The Titans later placed Lewan on injured reserve and activated wide receiver Corey Davis from the reserve/COVID-19 list. “Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m going to handle this rehab like a Pro and come back better than ever,” Lewan posted on social media.

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The Titans can’t afford to sulk either.

They need to figure out Lewan’s replacement. Ty Sambrailo took over the blind side Sunday and proceeded to get beat off the edge by J.J. Watt, leading to a strip-sack of Ryan Tannehill.

Of course, Tennessee’s offense would recover. Tannehill added to his two early touchdown passes with two more, while Derrick Henry rumbled for 212 yards and a pair of late scores.

Maybe the Titans are fine. They’ve boasted one of the league’s best offenses thus far, despite Lewan’s slow start to his seventh campaign. He’s currently graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 49 tackle among those with at least 200 snaps. He rated no worse than 22nd in the previous five seasons.

His successor will be filling big shoes regardless. Sambrailo, a 2015 second-round pick by the Broncos, has never started more than four matches in a season.

Tennessee drafted offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson No. 29 overall in April but he’s spent most of the season on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The rookie was removed Oct. 10. He also was a right tackle in college.

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush suffers torn ACL, out for the season

Devin Bush, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting inside linebacker, suffered a torn ACL during Sunday’s victory over the Browns.

The injury will require season-ending surgery, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stated his linebacker sustained a “significant knee injury” following Pittsburgh’s 38-7 win. 

The injury occurred near the end of the first half, with the Steelers enjoying a 24-0 lead. Bush sustained the injury after hitting Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson on an incomplete pass. The Browns scored their first touchdown of the game four plays later. 

Bush, the team’s 2019 first-round pick, played every single defensive snap until his injury, and he was the team’s defensive playcaller. While Bush was in the injury tent, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walked over to Norwig, who was standing just outside.

The two talked for a moment before Roethlisberger walked back to the sideline. Bush emerged a few seconds later and walked to the locker room under his own power with less than two minutes to play in the half.

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“I just want to send my thoughts and prayers to Devin and his family and everything he’s going through right now,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “It makes you sick when a young player like that gets hurt, and I need to send my thoughts and prayers to him.”

Bush was replaced in the lineup by Robert Spillane, a three-year veteran who is the middle of his second campaign with the Steelers.

A significant contributor to Pittsburgh’s special teams units, Spillane had not seen time on defense since getting eight reps during the Steelers’ season-opening triumph over the Giants. 

The No. 10 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Bush has started in 19 of his 20 games with the Steelers. Last year, the former Michigan standout recorded 109 tackles to go with four rumble recoveries, two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.

Through four games, Bush has recorded 21 tackles this season while helping Pittsburgh get off to its first 4-0 start since 1979.  Bush wasn’t the only Pittsburgh defender who sustained an injury on Sunday. Mike Hilton, who tallied three sacks during the Steelers’ first four games, also left Sunday’s game after suffering a shoulder injury.

Expect Tomlin to offer updates on both players during his weekly Tuesday press conference. 

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Le’Veon Bell Signs Reported 1-Year Chiefs Contract

Running back Le’Veon Bell signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday after being released by the New York Jets earlier in the week, the team stated.

Kansas City did not release terms of the pact, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bell is expected to sign a one-year deal. 

Schefter noted Bell wants to win a Super Bowl and believes the reigning champs give him the best chance to do so.

The three-time Pro Bowler is in his seventh season in the league, and Kansas City marks his third team after his career started with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. After missing the 2018 season because of a contract dispute, he signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in March 2019.

Bell’s 19 months with the Jets were rocky at best. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in May 2019 that head coach Adam Gase liked Bell on the field but “didn’t love the money.” 

Across 17 games with the Jets, Bell had 264 carries for 863 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught 69 passes for 500 yards and a touchdown. He got off to a slow start in 2020, as he missed three games with a hamstring injury and had only 74 yards on 19 carries in the two games he did play.

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When Bell returned in Week 5, he played only 67 percent of the offensive snaps. In 2019, he appeared for more than 80 percent of the team’s snaps in 11 games and over 90 percent five times.

In the days leading up to Bell’s Tuesday release, Gase was outspoken about the running back’s social media activity.

The Michigan State product liked multiple tweets about his lack of usage, and he had expressed his frustration throughout the campaign.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas wrote in a statement that the two sides explored the possibility of a trade, but they could not reach an agreement with another team before deciding to release him.

The Chiefs spent their first-round pick this year on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rumbled for 138 rushing yards in his debut. However, he has yet to top 64 yards in each of his other four games, and Kansas City lacks much reliable depth behind him.

Expect Bell to immediately slide in as a complement to Edwards-Helaire, particularly as a pass-catching option on third downs.

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