Category Archives: NFL

Broncos are expecting same old Raiders even without Gruden

Denver Broncos star linebacker Von Miller still sees the Las Vegas Raiders as Jon Gruden’s team even after their rival’s iconic coach resigned in disgrace.

While acknowledging “how they call the game will definitely change because they have a new play caller,” Miller insisted, “what they do is what they do.”

“They’re not going to come out here and be an option team. They’re not just going to come out here and change their whole identity because Gruden’s gone,” Miller argued. “They’re still going to do some of the things that they do well. We just don’t know when they will do it.

“To be honest, that’s really every week that we go out there,” Miller added. “We really don’t know what the other team is going to present.”

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Longtime special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia makes his debut as the Raiders’ interim head coach Sunday, with offensive coordinator Greg Olson taking over play-calling duties in a matchup pitting 3-2 teams who are seeking their first victory in October.

“No one wants to be a head coach in this particular situation, no one wants to be put in front of this under these particular circumstances,” said Bisaccia, whose first NFL job was under Gruden in 2002, when he was hired as special teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“But it’s an incredible opportunity, not only for me but for all the other coaches to see what we can do with this adversity, see what we can do with this challenge.”

Olson’s voice isn’t an unfamiliar one to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

“My rookie year he called plays,” Carr said. “I’ve heard his voice through the headset. I know how he calls the game and I know how he thinks. We’re in the same room. Every conversation I had with coach Gruden, I had with Oly this whole time.

“It’s not going to be anything crazy new but there are philosophies that some people have. So, I don’t want to give Oly’s secrets away, but could things be different? Yes. Could things be similar? Yes, absolutely.”

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Lions C Frank Ragnow has season-ending toe injury

The Detroit Lions continue to suffer a rash of injuries, with Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow now set to undergo season-ending toe surgery, a source confirmed to ESPN.

NFL Network was first to report that Ragnow met with Dr. Robert Anderson to get confirmation on the best course of action to treat the injury.

Ragnow was already on the injured reserve list for what Lions coach Dan Campbell described as a “version of turf toe.”

He suffered the injury during the first half of Detroit’s Week 4 loss at Chicago. The team also lost outside linebacker Romeo Okwara to a season-ending Achilles injury in that same match.

Ragnow earned his first Pro Bowl berth last campaign and became the NFL’s highest-paid center this offseason.

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The winless Lions have suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses on last-second field goals while being hit with an onslaught of injuries. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus (collarbone), wide receiver Tyrell Williams (concussion) and cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) and Jeff Okudah (Achilles) among others, are all on the injured reserve list.

The Lions (0-5) host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) on Sunday.

Ragnow’s injury is one of many ailments that have taken some of the team’s top players off the active roster.

The team placed receiver Quintez Cephus on the injured list Tuesday and added receiver Javon McKinley to the practice squad to replace tight end Jared Pinkney.

Cephus, who broke his collarbone after making a catch versus the Vikings, leads the team with 13.6 yards per catch and is its only wide receiver averaging 40 yards receiving per game.

Ragnow and Cephus joined a long list of hurt players. Linebacker Romeo Okwara had a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah, left tackle Taylor Decker, rookie defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu and wide receiver Tyrell Williams are on injured reserve with a total of 13 players.

Decker is eligible to return and coach Dan Campbell stated the veteran will probably rejoin the starting offense at left tackle with rookie Penei Sewell shifting back to the right side.

In May, the Lions signed Ragnow to a $54 million, four-year extension that keeps him under contract for a total of $70 million through the 2026 season. He earned second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition last year.

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New York Giants WR Kadarius Toney has ankle injury, apologizes for throwing punch Sunday

Add Kadarius Toney to the New York Giants’ list of injuries to monitor.

The rookie wide receiver is dealing with an ankle problem that has his status in doubt for Sunday when the Giants host the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium.

“He was at the doctor when we went through our squad meeting [Monday] but we’ll see where that comes out right there,” coach Joe Judge said. “I don’t think it’s anything significant, in regards to season-ending. We’ll see how it affects us immediately in the future for this week.”

The Giants also have to monitor starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who is in the concussion protocol. The Giants won’t know much officially on him until later in the week, according to Judge. Mike Glennon would start if Jones is unable to play.

New York did receive fairly encouraging news on running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hyperextended knee). X-rays on Barkley’s left ankle were negative, although the Giants wouldn’t put a timetable on his return. His injury was described by a source on Sunday evening as a “sprain.”

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Golladay and Barkley were undergoing further testing Monday afternoon but Judge was “hopeful they dodged a couple bullets right there.” Neither injury is anticipated to be long-term.

A source told ESPN on Monday afternoon that most of the injured Giants were probably out a “couple weeks.” In the grand scheme of a 17-game season, this was fairly encouraging news.

The Giants (1-4) did lose rookie cornerback Rodarius Williams for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Toney had an X-ray immediately after Sunday’s 44-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys when he had a career-best 189 yards receiving. They came back negative.

He didn’t seem to think it was anything that would affect his status for this week.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Toney said Monday when asked about his ankle and if he would practice and play this week.

The 20th-overall pick in this year’s draft also apologized Monday on Twitter for throwing a punch that got him an ejection late in the fourth quarter.

Judge stated the incident would be handled in-house and a league source told ESPN on Monday that Toney would not be suspended. He would go through the standard discipline process with the league that will likely result in a fine

Toney didn’t think this incident would be anything more than a one-off.

“Me and (Head Coach Joe) Judge talked, and you know, stuff like that. Really, it was just a one-time thing,” he said. “I’m a rookie making early mistakes. I’ve just got to learn from them and build from it.

“I felt like I needed to apologize to mainly everyone, because as far as little kids looking up to me and stuff like that, it’s not the example I want to set for them, you know what I’m saying? I feel like, everybody makes mistakes and stuff like that, but at the end of the day we always have to be accountable for our emotions and our actions also.”

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Roethlisberger throws 2 TDs, Steelers top Broncos 27-19

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers silenced the noise. At least for a week.

Funny how having something resembling a running game for the first time in a long time will do that.

Riding an offensive balance nonexistent for most of the last two years, the Steelers held off Denver 27-19 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.

Rookie Najee Harris ran for a career-best 122 yards and a touchdown for Pittsburgh (2-3) before a cramping issue in his calves forced him to stand on the sideline while a late rally by Denver fell short.

The Broncos (3-2) trailed by 18 in the fourth quarter before a pair of Teddy Bridgewater touchdown passes brought them within striking distance.

Bridgewater’s fourth-down heave to the end zone with 11 seconds left was intercepted by James Pierre, permitting the Steelers to exhale. For a minute anyway.

Asked if the triumph will quiet withering criticism he’s endured over the last month, Roethlisberger just smiled.

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“Probably not,” he said. “But we won the game, and that’s all that matters.”

And won in a way they’re probably going to need to keep pace in the highly competitive AFC North. With Harris churning through holes that didn’t exist over the first four games, the Steelers didn’t have to rely exclusively on their 39-year-old quarterback to make something happen.

That was kind of the plan all along and got lost amid a difficult first month. The Steelers dropped three of four behind a retooled offensive line that at times looked overmatched.

Not so much versus the Broncos.

The Steelers gave up one sack and kept Denver outside linebacker Von Miller in check while running the ball 35 times and passing just 25, the kind of ratio Roethlisberger is more than happy to live with.

Several times Roethlisberger lined up in the shotgun with the option to run or pass, saw coverage that indicated he should probably throw it and opted to hand it off to Harris anyway because the 22-year-old runner and the five linemen in front of him had it going.

“Why take it out of his hand when you’re grinding it, you’re getting it?” Roethlisberger stated. “It was kind of fun to watch him excel and take over.”

Yet cramps forced out Harris in the middle of the fourth quarter. Bridgewater, who spent the bulk of the week in the NFL’s concussion protocol before returning to practice Friday, nearly drew the Broncos even.

Bridgewater completed 24 of 38 passes for 288 yards with a pair of scores: a 2-yard dart to Kendall Hinton and a 39-yard rainbow to Courtland Sutton with 5:46 to go that drew Denver within 24-19.

Bridgwater then drove Denver to the Pittsburgh 3 in the final seconds before Pierre’s first career interception ended the threat.

“We can’t wait until the game is out of hand to have a sense of urgency,” Bridgewater said.

The loss made Denver’s perfect September look more like a mirage. The Broncos piled up wins against the Giants, Jaguars and Jets last month. Tested by Baltimore and Pittsburgh in back-to-back weeks, the Broncos came up short.

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New England Patriots trade CB Stephon Gilmore to Carolina Panthers for draft pick

A trade for New England Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the return of Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey helped the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday get over their first loss of the campaign.

Both happened almost simultaneously as players made their way to the practice field.

The Gilmore trade in particular brightened the mood.

“That’s pretty dope, man,” cornerback Donte Jackson said.

Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England for Gilmore, who had been set to be released later in the day. The 31-year-old from nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, is expected to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6.

Fitterer stated he expects Gilmore, who is arranged to be in Charlotte for a physical on Thursday, to be ready for an Oct. 24 game versus the New York Giants

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McCaffrey could be available to play on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after missing a 36-28 loss at Dallas with a hamstring injury.

Coach Matt Rhule said his star back looked good in practice Wednesday despite being limited and likely would be a game-time decision.

The Panthers got wind that Gilmore might be available on Tuesday night. That turned to reality on Wednesday morning when it was announced the Patriots planned to release the four-time Pro Bowl corner, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a partially torn quad.

Gilmore became available because the Patriots were unable to get the corner to agree to a restructured deal. The Panthers beat out several other teams that showed interest in trading for Gilmore.

They will be responsible for $5.8 million of Gilmore’s 2021 contract. Fitterer said Gilmore agreed to play the remainder of the season without an extension, but he’s open to one after the year.

Much depends on how Gilmore plays. Coach Matt Rhule said he can’t wait to get Gilmore on the field.

“I think anytime you can get a [former] All-Pro player for a future sixth, we’re going to do it, right?” he said. “… This was just one of those things where it was too good to pass up. He’s too good of a player and he’s from here. Football character-wise, he just adds to the core of what we are.”

The need for a cover corner stated when Carolina lost first-round pick Jaycee Horn to a broken foot in a Sept. 23 win at Houston. Fitterer traded last week for Jacksonville’s C.J. Henderson, a first-round pick in 2020.

Henderson remains somewhat of a project.

“C.J. is for the future,” Fitterer said. “Stephon is to win now.”

Fitterer also didn’t rule out that Horn could return late in the season or possibly the playoffs, if Carolina qualifies, after undergoing surgery. But he made it clear the goal is to make the playoffs.

Gilmore gives the Panthers a veteran who can have a positive impact on a young secondary until then and one who can be an asset if Carolina makes the playoffs.

He also happens to live three doors down from Fitterer in a neighborhood south of Charlotte. Fitterer called Gilmore a “quality guy” who will be a “great presence for the younger guys.”

Gilmore and Patriots coach Bill Belichick had both offered public goodbyes before the announced trade.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold faced Gilmore twice when he was with the New York Jets, so he’s glad he won’t have to face Gilmore when the Patriots come to town. Gilmore had two interceptions against him.

“Dang good player,” Darnold said. “I had two of my toughest games against him.”

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Atlanta Falcons starting nickel corner Isaiah Oliver out for season with knee injury

Atlanta Falcons starting nickel corner Isaiah Oliver is done for the season and will need surgery, a source told ESPN, after he was carted off the field with a knee injury Sunday versus the Washington Football Team.

The team placed Oliver on injured reserve Tuesday. Oliver, a second-round pick in 2018 out of Colorado, had become one of Atlanta’s top defensive players after moving from outside corner to the slot full-time this year.

He allowed 53.3% of passes thrown at him to be completed, according to Pro Football Reference, and recorded nine tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups.

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The Falcons coaches had been happy with the way Oliver had been playing, and his versatility, praising him in multiple press briefings over the past month.

Now, the team will likely turn to rookie Avery Williams, who was taken in the fifth round out of Boise State, to replace Oliver in the lineup.

Atlanta also placed punter Cam Nizialek on injured reserve after he suffered a right hamstring injury Sunday. The Falcons promoted punter Dustin Colquitt, a two-time Pro Bowler, from the practice squad along with defensive lineman Mike Pennel to take the places of Nizialek and Oliver on the 53-man roster.

The Falcons also signed kicker Elliott Fry and safety Shawn Williams, who has started 60 matches in the NFL, to the practice squad. The Falcons have options when it comes to filling Oliver’s role. But when someone is coming into his own the way Oliver was, it hurts to see the contingency plan enacted.

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Jacksonville Jaguars place WR DJ Chark on IR with fractured ankle

The Jacksonville Jaguars placed wide receiver DJ Chark on injured reserve Monday due to a fractured left ankle he suffered early in Thursday night’s loss to Cincinnati, and head coach Urban Meyer stated it’s unclear how long Chark will be out.

In addition, the Jaguars placed right guard A.J. Cann on IR with a right MCL injury and activated offensive tackle Walker Little from the reserve-COVID list.

“It’s going to be awhile,” Meyer said of Chark and Cann. “Someone has to step up. [OL Ben] Bartch went in and played, played pretty well when he was in there. He’s been one of our most improved players.”

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If Chark’s injury ends his season, Thursday could be the last match Chark plays for the Jaguars.

He was in the final year of his rookie contract and was facing a prove-it year after Meyer called him out in the spring by saying he needed to be tougher and play more physical.

Chark had gotten off to a slow start in 2021, with just seven catches on 22 targets for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Chark missed a month of camp and preseason after having surgery to repair a broken finger on his right hand.

He said recently the plate they placed in his hand still remains and the finger does still bother him at times.

The Jaguars drafted Chark in the second round in 2018. He had a rough rookie season but rebounded in 2019 by catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns and making the Pro Bowl.

Chark caught 53 passes for 706 yards and five touchdowns last season and he admitted he let his frustration with the way the season was going and the inconsistent play from the quarterbacks bleed into his on-field performance.

Cann is in the final year of a three-year, $15.05 million contract he signed before the 2019 season. Cann has missed just five games since the Jaguars drafted him in the third round in 2015.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski could miss weeks with fractured ribs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski has fractured ribs that threaten to sideline him for weeks, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

Gronkowski did not travel with the Buccaneers to Foxborough, Massachusetts, for Sunday’s game versus the New England Patriots because of the effect that flying could have on his injury.

“We held out hope all week that Gronk would be ready,” a team source told ESPN. “He’s a different breed.”

Gronkowski suffered the injury during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams but returned to finish the match. Initially, the Buccaneers and Gronkowski did not think the injury was as severe as it turned out to be, and X-rays of Gronkowski’s ribs taken after the game came back negative.

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But further MRI testing during the week revealed the fractures not found on the X-rays, which do not show hairline fractures.

Gronkowski did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and was spotted only stretching during Friday’s practice. The Buccaneers had listed him as doubtful on Friday before downgrading him to out Saturday.

“He made progress but not enough,” coach Bruce Arians told ESPN’s Jenna Laine on Saturday.

After traveling to New England this weekend, the Buccaneers host Miami, play at Philadelphia on a Thursday night and then return home for Chicago before a road game at New Orleans and their Nov. 7 bye.

However, the four-time All-Pro isn’t the only one injured in the Bucs squad.

As along with him, linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul has sustained a shoulder injury and RB Giovani Bernard and CB Jamel Dean both can be seen on the Bucs sidelines with knee injuries.

Although due to Rob’s absence, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate will have more time on the field. The duo has caught a combined seven of eight targets for 75 yards this campaign.

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Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark fractures left ankle

Thursday’s game did not get off to an ideal start for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. was carted off the field due to an ankle injury suffered during the team’s first drive. He incurred the setback when he was blocking during a running play and got rolled up on as the action went his direction.

The Jaguars revealed he was ruled out for the remainder of the match.  Chark had seven catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the first three games, which were all Jacksonville losses.

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The LSU product was a Pro Bowler in 2019 with 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in a breakout effort after the Jaguars selected him with a second-round pick in 2018.

He was solid again in 2020 with 706 receiving yards and five touchdowns and figured to be a key piece in the team’s offense this year as rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence adjusted to the NFL.

However, look for the combination of Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. to see more targets while Chark is sidelined. 

It’s unclear at this point if the injury is season ending.

If it is, it could be the last game Chark plays for the Jaguars. He was in the final year of his rookie contract.

Chark missed a month of camp and preseason after having surgery to repair a broken finger on his right hand. He said recently the plate they placed in his hand still remains and the finger does still bother him at times.

The Jaguars also lost starting right guard A.J. Cann to a knee injury in the second quarter.

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Richard Sherman signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ‘Best offer I had’

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team revealed Wednesday.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Sherman signed a one-year contract.

Sherman had been in discussions with the Buccaneers for several weeks and said on “The Richard Sherman Podcast” that multiple teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers, also expressed interest.

“I went with the best offer I had, the best opportunity to go out there and put some great tape on, to lead another group,” Sherman stated. “I feel comfortable and confident in my abilities to go out there and execute and help that team win.”

Sherman said quarterback Tom Brady reached out to him as well.

“He’s the all-time great quarterback reaching out, and anytime he makes that call, it’s a very difficult opportunity to pass up,” Sherman said. Sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder on Tuesday that Sherman thinks he needs a week or two to be ready to play in a game.

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Also Wednesday, the Buccaneers placed wide receiver Scotty Miller on injured reserve.

A source told Schefter on Monday that Miller was dealing with a toe injury.

The Buccaneers will be Sherman’s third NFL team, after he spent the past three seasons with the 49ers and played the first seven years of his career in Seattle.

Sherman, 33, can provide valuable experience in one of the league’s youngest defensive backfields. He is also a sure tackler, which has been an issue for the Tampa Bay defense this campaign.

The Buccaneers are without Sean Murphy-Bunting, who was placed on injured reserve with a dislocated right elbow Sept. 20, and Jamel Dean, their third cornerback, who left Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams with a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return.

Sherman is dealing with legal issues and has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Friday in Washington. He was arrested in July in connection with an incident at the home of his wife’s parents in Redmond, Washington, and was charged with five misdemeanors, including two counts of domestic violence — criminal trespass in the second degree and malicious mischief in the third degree — as well as resisting arrest, driving while under the influence and reckless endangerment of roadway workers.

He pleaded not guilty to all five charges and said in a statement on Twitter in July that he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions and “behaved in a manner I’m not proud of.”

In February, King County prosecutors and the sheriff also obtained an “extreme risk protection order” for Sherman, barring him from having guns after a judge determined he posed a danger to himself and others. Details of the case were sealed.

The Buccaneers did their due diligence on Sherman’s legal situation and believe he has the necessary support systems in place, sources told ESPN’s Jenna Laine

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