Category Archives: NFL

49ers QB Nick Mullens at QB for injured Jimmy Garoppolo

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Friday what he’s hinted at all week: Nick Mullens will start at quarterback in substitution of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday versus the New York Giants.

Shanahan stated Wednesday that Mullens would “most likely” start in place of Garoppolo, who is dealing with a high right ankle sprain, but he made it official Friday on KNBR radio in San Francisco. Shanahan told “The Murph and Mac Show” that Mullens will start for Garoppolo and that Garoppolo will not be active for the game, leaving C.J. Beathard as Mullens’ backup.

Mullens will be making his first start since Dec. 30, 2018, which was the final appearance in an eight-game stretch for him as the starter after Garoppolo tore his left ACL in Week 3 of that campaign. He threw for 2,277 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and had a passer rating of 90.8 as the Niners went 3-5 in his starts.

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Early in the week, the Niners had expressed some positivity that Garoppolo could play, but it became apparent by Wednesday that it was unlikely. Garoppolo suffered the ankle injury in the first quarter of last week’s win versus the New York Jets and played through it before being removed from the game at halftime.

Mullens ended the game, going 8-of-11 for 71 yards with an interception as the 49ers rolled to a 31-13 win.

During training at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, this week, Mullens has taken on the role of starter in practice, with Beathard as the backup.

Garoppolo did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and is not expected to on Friday.

“He’s locked in,” tight end George Kittle stated Thursday about Mullens. “He’s got the game plan down, he’s got a rocket for an arm, he’s slinging it, he’s confident. And I know he’s just excited to get the opportunity to play. If he gets to play, I know he’s going to take advantage of that situation because that dude loves football.

He’s going to give it his all, so we’re definitely in good hands if Jimmy can’t go.” “I’m very confident in Jet,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “He’s done a great job in all the reps that he’s gotten in these two weeks.

Every time he’s gotten opportunities, he came through for us. Obviously, with those two guys being out, he should get more opportunities this week and he deserves it. I know he’s excited for it and we’re excited to see him.”

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Minnesota Vikings sign LB Todd Davis to fill void after Anthony Barr, Troy Dye injuries

The Minnesota Vikings signed veteran linebacker Todd Davis on Thursday after losing linebacker Anthony Barr to injury in their Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Barr, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was placed on injured reserve earlier this week after he tore his pectoral muscle in the second quarter of the Vikings’ 28-11 loss to the Colts in Week 2.

Barr is estimated to miss the remainder of the campaign. Fourth-round rookie Troy Dye substituted Barr on Sunday before suffering an ankle injury.

The injuries to both Barr and Dye led to Ryan Connelly making his debut two weeks after being claimed by Minnesota.

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Dye was placed on injured reserve Thursday in a corresponding move.

Davis has been a tackling machine over the course of his career. In 2019, the Sacramento State product had 134 tackles for the Broncos.

It’s unlikely that Davis sees many snaps this weekend since he just signed with Minnesota. That means the pressure could be on rookie linebacker Troy Dye to fill in at strongside linebacker.

Davis was released by the Denver Broncos earlier this month after five seasons with the team. He missed most of training camp with a calf injury.

Davis, 28, started at least 14 matches for the Broncos in each of the past four seasons. He played in 82 games for Denver since the team claimed him off of waivers in November 2014.

He had become a productive player for the Broncos as he played in all 16 games on a 2015 team that went on to gain Super Bowl 50. He then had at least 97 tackles in three of the past four seasons, and he topped 100 tackles in both 2018 (114) and 2019 (134).

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New York Giants adding Devonta Freeman on 1-year deal

The New York Giants are signing former Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman after losing Saquon Barkley for the campaign.

Freeman and the Giants agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, Freeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

Freeman is projected to sign the contract Wednesday morning, practice with the Giants later Wednesday and could play as soon as Sunday.

“Devonta turned down more money from other teams because he likes the opportunity with the Giants best,” Rosenhaus told Schefter.

Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee in Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. Dion Lewis played every snap in his absence.

Freeman, 28, spent the first six years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons (2015-16) and has averaged 4.2 yards per carry throughout his career. But Freeman had 656 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 184 carries (3.6 average) last season. The Falcons let him walk as a free agent this offseason and instead signed Todd Gurley.

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Freeman had other chances this offseason.

He turned down a deal that could have been worth $3 million with the Seattle Seahawks and recently visited with the Philadelphia Eagles.

But the Giants offer Freeman the best opportunity for touches with Barkley lost for the campaign. They have Lewis and Wayne Gallman on the active roster. Veteran Rod Smith is on the practice squad.

“Wayne and Dion are definitely guys that will factor in,” coach Joe Judge stated Monday. “We’ll work to their strengths — they are two different types of backs. Both of them have a degree of toughness. Wayne’s got that long speed, get him ranging out and get him really moving.

Dion’s got that real good short-area quickness and burst to get going. He does a great job of finding small seams and getting through the hole. They are both different guys; we’re going to have to work with what they do well to give them an opportunity to be successful.”

Now add Freeman, who visited the Giants on Tuesday, to the mix.

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Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton out for season

The Denver Broncos’ passing attack now will have to forge on without not only its starting quarterback but also its top target.

Wide receiver Courtland Sutton is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Vic Fangio confirmed Monday.

Sutton had three catches for 66 yards before exiting the match. He missed the Broncos’ Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans while dealing with a sprained AC joint. Sutton, 24, earned a Pro Bowl berth last season after recording 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns.

He was expected to be the focal point of a passing attack that returned second-year tight end Noah Fant and added dynamic rookie receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler.

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The injury is just the latest in a series of significant blows to a Denver team that was looking to break out in Fangio’s second season at the helm.

Quarterback Drew Lock suffered a “bad bruise” on his shoulder that will force him to miss three to five weeks, Fangio stated Monday. Three-time All-Pro pass-rusher Von Miller suffered a dislocated peroneal tendon that multiple reports indicated could sideline him for the remainder of the campaign.

Running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) also is expected to miss several weeks, per multiple reports, and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) will sit out at least two more games after being placed on injured reserve.

An already young Broncos offense will now feature one of the youngest wide receiver groups in the league as three rookies — Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tyrie Cleveland — will get plenty of work in the weeks ahead. Fangio said “it will be the guys on the roster filling that void [left by Sutton].”

Denver had seven wideouts on roster and will go with six for now. The Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week before facing the New York Jets on the road in a “Thursday Night Football” matchup.

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Chicago Bears reach 3 year extension with Tarik Cohen

The Chicago Bears and running back Tarik Cohen reached a settlement Saturday on a three-year, $17.25 million contract extension.

Cohen’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed the deal to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cohen was in the final year of his four-year, $3 million rookie contract he signed after the Bears selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft.

In June, the 25-year-old North Carolina native said the situation provided an extra layer of motivation heading into the 2020 campaign.

“It’s definitely a motivating factor being that this is the year,” Cohen told reporters. “I feel like I can’t put any pressure on nobody else. It’s all on me. That’s how I like to go about it. I just take it upon myself, anything else like, I want to win as a team. I feel like if we win as a team that is good for everybody’s individual success.”

The 2018 Pro Bowl selection has been a valuable dual-threat benefit for Chicago.

He entered his fourth NFL season with nearly as many catches (203) as rushing attempts (250), showcasing the team’s efforts to get him the ball in space to use his elusiveness and game-changing speed.

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“On top of being a Pro Bowl talent, he’s the ultimate captain, teammate and competitor,” Telesco said in a statement. “Quite simply, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. Mike’s played a major role in establishing the culture and standard we now have in our locker room and sets a tremendous example, especially for the younger members of our team.”

Fourth-year offensive lineman Dan Feeney is expected to substitute Pouncey as the starting center, with Forrest Lamp likely filling in for Feeney at left guard.

The Chargers, the third-most injured team last season according to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost, are already without star safety Derwin James, who recently underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Fullback Gabe Nabers was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Thursday in a corresponding move.

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Los Angeles Chargers center Mike Pouncey having season-ending surgery

Four-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey has been placed on injured reserve and will soon undergo hip surgery that will keep him out for the remainder of the 2020 campaign, the Los Angeles Chargers informed Thursday, a tough blow for a team that was looking forward to a healthier offensive line this season.

Pouncey, 31, also spent time on IR with a hip injury while with the Miami Dolphins in 2016. He then started every game over the next two years, including his first season with the Chargers in 2018, but missed the final 11 weeks last year after undergoing neck surgery.

The veteran, in his 10th season, has started all 114 games he has played in during his career. He is in the final year of his contract with the Chargers.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said Pouncey’s surgery will take place before the end of September.

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“On top of being a Pro Bowl talent, he’s the ultimate captain, teammate and competitor,” Telesco said in a statement. “Quite simply, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. Mike’s played a major role in establishing the culture and standard we now have in our locker room and sets a tremendous example, especially for the younger members of our team.”

Fourth-year offensive lineman Dan Feeney is expected to substitute Pouncey as the starting center, with Forrest Lamp likely filling in for Feeney at left guard.

The Chargers, the third-most injured team last season according to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost, are already without star safety Derwin James, who recently underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Fullback Gabe Nabers was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Thursday in a corresponding move.

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Banged-up 49ers place CB Richard Sherman on IR

The San Francisco 49ers placed star cornerback Richard Sherman on the injured reserve list Wednesday and also could be without All-Pro tight end George Kittle this week.

Sherman strained his calf late in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to Arizona and was placed on IR when the injury didn’t get better right way. He will have to miss at least three games before he can come back but the Niners are hopeful it won’t be a longer-term injury.

Kittle sprained his knee in the same game and won’t take part in a full practice this week. Coach Kyle Shanahan said there’s a chance Kittle could participate in the lighter Friday practice before the team leaves to play the New York Jets on Sunday.

San Francisco played the season opener without two of its top receivers in Deebo Samuel (foot) and Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring), as well as its top two centers in Weston Richburg (knee) and Ben Garland (ankle).

Backup cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is in concussion protocol as well after getting hurt on the final drive last week and Jason Verrett remains sidelined by a hamstring injury.

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“We’ve dealt with this before,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “I think every team, you’ve got to deal with your injuries. … I think it’s really just about getting the guys out there you feel confident in who you know what they’re going to do and will do it on Sunday.”

Sherman has been one of the league’s top cover cornerbacks for the past decade. He was a second-team All-Pro last campaign when he locked down the defensive left side of the league’s top pass defense.

The 49ers start the week with Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson as the only two healthy outside cornerbacks. Johnson was promoted from the practice squad Wednesday.

“I know guys are ready to step up,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “It’s always next man up in this league. I think guys are ready and if we put the right week of practice in like we know we should, we should be firing on all cylinders this week.”

San Francisco also could be without backup receiver and returner Richie James Jr., who injured his hamstring in the game.

The Niners agreed to a deal with receiver Mohamed Sanu on Tuesday for more depth at that spot. Sanu must go through the COVID-19 protocol before he will be able to start practice Friday but is taking part in virtual meetings.

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Jets coach Adam Gase expects Le’Veon Bell to miss a couple of weeks

The Jets’ offense actually can get worse. They may be without versatile back Le’Veon Bell for at least two games.

Bell injured his hamstring late in the first half of Sunday’s season-opening 27-17 loss to the Bills. He tried to play through it, but Adam Gase pulled Bell out of the match early in the third quarter.

Gase stated on a Monday conference call that it could be “a couple weeks,” but the coach doesn’t want to put any timetable on how long Bell would be out.

“I just know what kind of shape he’s in and his work ethic and the way that he finds ways to play through injury and how he bounces back,” Gase said.

“I just wouldn’t be surprised if he came back quicker than anticipated. “I don’t want to put any kind of restrictions on him, being a guy that’s been around the league for quite a few years. Some of these guys find ways to be able to play through pain and play through injuries like this. I don’t want to say a longer time and then he’s going to be like, ‘What are you putting me in a box for?’”

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Hamstrings are always tricky injuries.

Rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims missed all of training camp with a hamstring issue and then was inactive Sunday after aggravating his other hamstring. Linebacker Avery Williamson didn’t practice or play last week due to a hamstring. Gase didn’t seem optimistic that Williamson would play this week.

Unless Bell heals rapidly and miraculously, the Jets will be heading into this Sunday’s home opener versus the NFC-champion 49ers with 37-year-old Frank Gore and Josh Adams as their running backs.

Gore was the Jets’ leading rusher Sunday, with 24 yards on six carries. The Jets gained only 52 yards rushing in a game they trailed 21-0 in the second quarter. Gore surely would welcome a bigger workload, especially against one of his former teams. He has shown he can be productive. But he’s not the weapon Bell is for the offense.

Bell played the first series of the third quarter, but then Gase removed him from the game. He said he was mad at himself for keeping Bell in there and risking further injury

“We talked after the game,” Gase said. “He knew how I felt.”

Now the Jets have to get ready to bounce back without one of their best weapons and versus one of the best defenses last year. “We cannot play like we did this last game,” Gase said. “We have to correct a lot of things very quickly. We have to get a lot better really fast.”

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Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints agree to contract extension

Alvin Kamara is going to be with the New Orleans Saints for the long haul.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the running back has agreed to terms on a new five-year, $75 million deal. His deal includes a $15 million signing bonus. 

The 25-year-old has emerged as one of football’s most dangerous weapons, with 2,408 rushing yards, 243 receptions for 2,068 yards and 37 total touchdowns in his first three campaigns. He’s also a three-time Pro Bowler and was the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

In Kamara, Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Latavius Murray and Jared Cook, the Saints have one of the best offenses in football. Sean Payton’s group has reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons and heads into the 2020 campaign as a Super Bowl favorite.

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But Kamara’s ability to have a major impact in the running and passing games makes him so difficult for opposing defenses to defend.

That versatility also made him more valuable than a traditional between-the-tackles runner, and it’s a skill set Christian McCaffrey also cashed in on.

It’s no surprise three-down players have set the running back market in recent years, from pre-injury Todd Gurley (64 catches for 788 yards and six touchdowns in 2017) to McCaffrey.

It was only a matter of time before Kamara inked his own lucrative extension. He’s far too explosive and versatile for the Saints to risk losing.

Prior to Saturday’s deal, the Saints had less than $6 million in cap space this year and were already expected to have more than $240 million in cap costs for 2021, when the cap could drop as low as $175 million per team.

Furthermore, they are nearing the ends of contracts with fellow standouts like linebacker Demario Davis, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead and safety Marcus Williams.

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Chiefs start title defense with 34-20 victory over Texans

Just about the only thing that looked familiar about the NFL’s long-awaited return Thursday night was the sight of Patrick Mahomes effortlessly leading the Kansas City Chiefs up and down the field.

The Super Bowl MVP threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran through the rain for 138 yards and another score, and the Chiefs started defense of their first championship in 50 years by defeating the Houston Texans 34-20 on Thursday night before a socially distanced crowd of about 17,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill each caught TD passes for the Chiefs. They have won 10 consecutive dating to last season. That run includes a come-from-behind 51-31 victory over the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

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The Texans’ Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, but he also was under relentless pressure and was intercepted once.

David Johnson provided the biggest bright spot for Houston, running for 77 yards and a score.

The world has changed dramatically in the seven months since the Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Miami.

Within six weeks, the term COVID-19 had become a part of everyday life, the disease killing more than 900,000 people around the globe. The death of George Floyd at the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer in May touched off the Black Lives Matter movement, which in turn has led to a summer of social unrest that has gripped the country.

Against that backdrop came an NFL opener unlike any other: masks worn by everyone from fans to the coaching staffs; a series of videos raising awareness of social justice initiatives and encouraging the public to vote; and ultimately both teams locking arms in a display of unity previous to the coin toss.

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