Tagged in: cincinnati

Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt doesn’t need surgery, expected to miss six weeks

Doctors determined Tuesday afternoon that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt does not surgery on his torn pectoral and the star pass-rusher is expected to miss about six weeks, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Watt, who suffered the injury on Sunday in a 23-20 overtime triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals, had sought out second and third opinions on the injury.

Watt on Tuesday tweeted a gif of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character saying “I’ll be back.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stated earlier Tuesday that the organization was “encouraged” about the injury outlook for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

“We’re probably in a lot better place than we were after the game,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “… I can definitively say that T.J. won’t play this week [against the Patriots], but I won’t make any commitments beyond that.

“We’re encouraged, and we’ll just continue to look at the situation and gain opinions and do what’s appropriate.”

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Watt appeared to suffer a torn left pectoral muscle in the final seconds of regulation when he tried to sack Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and as he walked off the field, he told medical personnel that he tore his pec. Watt recorded a sack and an interception in Sunday’s match.

Asked if Watt would go on injured reserve, Tomlin was noncommittal on Tuesday.

Injured reserve would rule Watt out for a minimum of four games. The Steelers can designate up to eight players to return from IR throughout the season, and each player can return twice.

In Watt’s absence, the team will first turn to outside linebackers Malik Reed, gotten in a trade with the Broncos last month, and Jamir Jones, whom the organization grabbed off waivers. The Steelers signed veteran linebacker Ryan Anderson to their practice squad later Tuesday, but Tomlin didn’t commit to playing new faces on Sunday.

Last season, Watt had 22.5 sacks to tie the NFL’s single-season sack record. He has 73 sacks in his career.

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New York Giants lose promising WR Collin Johnson to torn Achilles

The New York Giants lost wide receiver Collin Johnson for the season Wednesday on the same day that veteran Sterling Shepard returned to the practice field.

Johnson tore his Achilles tendon during Wednesday’s practice, per the team. The big receiver (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) out of the University of Texas had been receiving first-team reps in recent weeks at practice with Kadarius Toney and Shepard among those on the sideline.

Coach Brian Daboll had noted earlier in the week that Johnson and fellow wide receiver David Sills were making a strong impression. Johnson started Sunday’s preseason victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and had three receptions for 41 yards; Sills had five catches for 56 yards, with most of the damage coming with the first-string offense.

“Collin Johnson, David Sills, they’ve stepped their game up,” Daboll said. “And they’re right in the mix, not just to make a team but to play.”

The Giants’ opener is in 18 days in Tennessee. Toney (right leg), C.J. Board (ribs) and Darius Slayton are also dealing with minor injuries.

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Shepard, meanwhile, was making his way back from a torn Achilles suffered last December. He returned to practice for the first time Wednesday since the injury.

“It felt great, man,” said Shepard, who snuck in some reps during live drills and even caught a 20-yard pass from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. “Just being back on the field, it’s a blessing. Especially when you go through an injury like that and you’ve been on the sidelines for so long watching those guys get after it. You have to take every day and cherish them because you never know when you’re going to have to sit out that long.”

It had been eight months and five days since Shepard tore his Achilles.

He is the longest-tenured Giant and has 349 catches for 3,884 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career, all in New York.

Shepard’s return made it appear as if the Giants were actually getting healthier at the position. Toney, Board and Slayton participated in the early portions of Wednesday’s practice.

But Toney was seen grabbing at the back of his leg during the workout, and Johnson and Marcus Kemp (hamstring) suffered significant injuries. Both Johnson and Kemp landed on injured reserve later in the day.

The Giants claimed wide receivers Bailey Gaither and Jaylon Moore on Wednesday to fill the voids. They cut tight end Jordan Akins to make room on the roster.

Johnson, 24, has 29 catches for 377 yards in 26 career matches with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Giants. He made his mark with the Giants last year as a blocker.

But this summer it appeared he had taken his game to the next level. He was making plays consistently throughout training camp, earning him the trust of starting quarterback Daniel Jones and some first-team reps. Johnson even had 10 catches for 123 receiving yards in the first two preseason matches this season.

With Toney still banged up and Shepard coming back from a serious injury, it looked possible that Johnson could have started — or at least played a substantial role — Week 1 versus the Tennessee Titans. Instead his season came to a premature end.

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Joe Burrow makes training camp debut for Cincinnati Bengals, participates in several drills

For the first time in training camp, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow practiced. Nearly three weeks after he had his appendix removed, Burrow donned his orange No. 9 jersey and participated in several drills throughout Sunday’s practice.

All of his work in team drills came in a 7-on-7 period that was more strenuous than coach Zac Taylor expected.

“We talked about doing two reps in 7-on-7,” Taylor said after practice. “And then he took 10. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

Previously, Burrow’s most notable work during practice occurred last Monday when he did some light tosses during an impromptu walkthrough.

On Sunday, Burrow decided to extend his limits.

Burrow took the entirety of the reps during that 7-on-7 drill. That also eased the workload on the rest of the team’s quarterbacks following Brandon Allen’s concussion in last Friday’s preseason game versus the Arizona Cardinals.

Burrow’s most notable passes were two long completions — one to veteran receiver Trenton Irwin and the other to rookie Kwamie Lassiter II. Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who watched the bulk of Burrow’s throws during that 7-on-7 period, said having the team’s star quarterback took what the defense was willing to allow as the quarterback brought positive energy to practice.

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“It’s funny because every pass he threw today, I was calling it out before he threw it,” Chase, who also played with Burrow at LSU, said. “I think I still know him perfectly fine.”

The third-year quarterback wasn’t the only key player to make significant progress Sunday.

Wide receiver Tee Higgins participated in team drills for the first time. Rookie Cordell Volson also took over as the team’s starting left guard with Jackson Carman out.

Cincinnati is looking to replicate last season’s success that featured a Super Bowl run that Burrow spearheaded. The top overall pick in the 2020 draft completed 70.4% of his passes for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as the Bengals played for the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in 33 years.

The Bengals have been hesitant to release any firm timetables for Burrow’s practice acclimation following the appendectomy July 26. Taylor said he was uncertain on when Burrow will return to full participation.

But he was with his teammates Sunday. It was the first time that Burrow, new tight end Hayden Hurst and all the returning players from last year’s Super Bowl run practiced together since organized team activities.

Said Higgins: “As soon as we got in the huddle I said, ‘Uh oh. We’re back.'”

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New Orleans Saints QB Andy Dalton and RB Mark Ingram agree to deal on jersey number

New Orleans Saints veterans Mark Ingram II and Andy Dalton have completed a jersey swap that can only be described as a win-win.

Dalton, who signed with the Saints this offseason, will get the No. 14 that he has worn throughout his career as a quarterback with TCU, the Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.

Ingram, meanwhile, gets to wear a more slimming No. 5 jersey.

Last season, Ingram hilariously tried to describe his angst over the unappealing jersey number options he had when he returned to New Orleans in a midseason trade.

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Not only was his former No. 22 not an option, but nothing in the 20s or single digits was available either. So Ingram very reluctantly decided to go with 14 “because it seemed the best of the worst.”

Ingram stated he didn’t like numbers in the 30s because “it’s too big of a number for me.”

“I don’t want no 30s,” Ingram said. “It’s just too wide. I’m short, stocky. I gotta have a number that fits me a little bit.”

The 40s were even worse, in Ingram’s sartorial opinion. Ingram said he contemplated asking kicker Wil Lutz if he could wear his No. 3 while Lutz was on injured reserve last year.

He even considered reaching out to former Saints quarterback Archie Manning about wearing No. 8 in his honor (both Manning’s 8 and Drew Brees’ 9 aren’t officially retired, but they never get assigned to new players).

Coincidentally, the No. 5 that Ingram has now landed in is the same one that former Saints running back Reggie Bush was unable to acquire as a rookie in 2006 before the NFL permitted running backs to wear single digits.

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Pittsburgh Steelers sign DT Larry Ogunjobi to one-year deal

Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday.

The Steelers did not disclose financial terms of the contract.

Ogunjobi now will have played for the Cleveland Browns, Bengals and Steelers, leaving the Baltimore Ravens as the lone AFC North team not to have had him on their roster.

Ogunjobi had also visited the New York Jets since his three-year, $40.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears fell apart after he failed his physical on March 18. The Bears wouldn’t say why he failed the physical, but Ogunjobi did undergo offseason surgery to repair a right foot injury.

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The Steelers had a glaring need for defensive line depth after the retirement of Stephon Tuitt earlier this offseason.

Ogunjobi will be most important in stopping the run, a major focus of the 2022 Steelers after the run defense concluded last in the league a season ago. Ogunjobi had 12 tackles for loss last season in Cincinnati and has 41 in his career.

Ogunjobi has a little history with the Steelers. He was involved in the 2019 on-field altercation between Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and was suspended one game.

Last campaign, Ogunjobi was part of the overhaul that helped the Bengals go from the lowest sack total in the NFL in 2020 to 11th in 2021, registering a career-high seven, which was tied for the third most of any interior defensive lineman, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

His sack total last season was nearly half of his combined total over four seasons with the Browns (14.5).

Ogunjobi, 28, missed most of Cincinnati’s run to Super Bowl LVI after he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the wild-card victory versus the Las Vegas Raiders. Overall, the 2017 third-round draft pick has 21.5 career sacks with 229 tackles and two forced fumbles.

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Milwaukee Brewers designate outfielder Lorenzo Cain, 36, for assignment after ‘a great career’

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain was designated for assignment on Saturday, the team revealed before its game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Cain, 36, was hitting .179 in 145 at-bats while the Brewers’ offense struggled throughout June. The veteran was 4-for-26 this month with no walks and seven strikeouts. As a team, the Brewers rank 14th in OPS in the National League in June while falling out of first place after a strong start.

Cain broke in with the Brewers in 2010, then spent the next seven seasons in Kansas City before returning to Milwaukee as a free agent in 2018. He’s in the final season of a five-year, $80 million deal. The move comes on the same date that Cain reached 10 years of major league service.

“It just got to a point where it’s probably time,” Cain said in Cincinnati. “I haven’t been performing like I would’ve liked, but the situation is what it is. I’ve had a great career. I can’t really be upset about anything, but, yeah, it’s time. I wish all my teammates the best, coaches, trainers, everybody that I’ve played with or met throughout my entire career, I wish them nothing but the best. It’s been a really fun ride for me for sure.”

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Cain is a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner.

He also concluded in the top 10 in MVP voting twice in his career.

“No doubt, he did his part,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “At the end, it was time for this. It was just time.”

Cain was replaced in the roster by journeyman outfielder Jonathan Davis, who was called up from Triple-A Nashville.

“I would say it was mutual to part ways,” he said. “We have a really good team. I don’t think I was contributing the way I would’ve liked. I feel like they definitely had to make a move. I definitely would’ve liked to play a lot better — contribute to the team a little bit more — but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case this year.

“At the end of the day, it’s been fun. I think that team can go really far. They’re really well-coached, well-managed. Those guys play their hearts out. I’m definitely going to miss them. It’s been a fun ride for sure.”

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Cincinnati Bengals WR Tee Higgins to miss offseason workouts following shoulder surgery

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins is expected to miss offseason workouts while he recovers from shoulder surgery, coach Zac Taylor stated Monday.

Higgins had the procedure following the team’s trip to the Super Bowl and was sporting a protective brace on his left shoulder during an appearance at the Cincinnati Reds’ home opener.

Taylor stated he expects Higgins to be out for a couple of months.

“Made a decision to get it fixed,” Taylor said. “[I] don’t expect him to be part of the offseason.”

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Higgins missed the third and fourth games of the regular campaign because of a shoulder issue.

He returned to play in every remaining game for the AFC champions, aside from the regular-season finale in which Cincinnati rested nearly all of its starters.

The team’s second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft is coming off his best season as a pro. In 14 matches, he had 74 catches for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. Higgins appeared in all four playoff games.

In the team’s Super Bowl LVI loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Higgins had four catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s first championship appearance in 33 years.

The Bengals will start offseason workouts on May 2 and hold six voluntary organized team activities. Cincinnati will not have a mandatory minicamp, Taylor said on Friday.

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Cincinnati Bengals assistant Al Golden will become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator, agreeing to a three-year deal

Cincinnati Bengals assistant Al Golden has accepted the job to become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator, sources told ESPN. He’s agreed to a three-year deal, which sources say should be finalized in the upcoming days.

Golden is a longtime college head coach who gives first-year coach Marcus Freeman a veteran sounding board. Golden spent 10 years as a college head coach from 2006 to 2015, going 59-59 during stints at Temple and Miami, and brings reputation as an impactful recruiter in the Northeast.

The hire completes Marcus Freeman’s on-field coaching staff, which has included seven of 10 new assistants.

Golden’s hire represents the only staffer with significant head college coaching experience.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has some familiarity with Golden, as he interviewed him for the Notre Dame top job in 2009 after firing Charlie Weis. The Irish ended up hiring Brian Kelly, who Freeman substituted in December.

Golden, 52, has spent the past six years as an NFL assistant with the Lions and the Bengals, as he transitioned to pro football after being fired in Miami. He coached linebackers for the Bengals and was viewed as a key staff component for the franchise’s Super Bowl run.

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Golden has received interest in returning to college the past few seasons, with schools courting him as both a candidate to be a coordinator and head coach. The opportunity at Notre Dame fits Golden, a former Penn State captain from New Jersey who emerged in the profession during stints as an assistant coach at Virginia, Boston College and Penn State.

Golden went 32-25 during his five campaigns in Miami, counting a run to No. 7 in the country in 2013. Golden’s time resurrecting Temple is remembered much more fondly in college football, as he pulled off one of the great turnarounds in the modern era of the sport.

When Golden took over at Temple, the school was an independent after being kicked out of the Big East. The Owls ended up in the MAC, where they went 17-8 his final two years, and he emerged as one of the country’s most respected coaches.

Golden’s staff at Temple included both Carolina coach Matt Rhule and Ohio State coach Ryan Day, and his tenure set the foundation for both Steve Addazio and Rhule to thrive as coaches there. Golden’s work led to his induction in Temple’s Hall of Fame.

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Cincinnati Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson clears concussion protocol, OK to play Saturday

The Bengals will have their top pass-rusher available for Saturday’s playoff game.

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson successfully cleared the concussion protocol and will play versus the Tennessee Titans in the teams’ AFC divisional-round playoff game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said on Thursday.

“He’s been in these moments before,” Taylor said in a teleconference with local reporters. “He’s one of our premier players. It’s good to have him.” Hendrickson left the team’s 26-19 wild-card-round victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Jan. 15 and entered the league’s concussion protocol.

He made progress toward returning throughout the week, starting with limited participation at Tuesday’s practice and then practicing in full on Wednesday.

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Since signing with the Bengals in the 2021 offseason on a four-year, $60 million deal, Hendrickson has been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.

In the 2021 season, he tallied 14 sacks, which led the team and is the most in a single season in Bengals history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He also ranked ninth in the NFL in pass rush win rate among edge rushers during the regular season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

The return of Hendrickson boosts a defensive line that will still be short-handed against the top-seeded Titans. Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier in the week.

He left the victory over Las Vegas with a foot injury and tweeted on Thursday that he had successful surgery.

Saturday’s game against Tennessee is Cincinnati’s first divisional-round game since January 1991. The Bengals are looking to make their first appearance in the AFC Championship Game since 1988.

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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield to have shoulder surgery ASAP, won’t play Sunday

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield won’t play Sunday versus the Cincinnati Bengals, so that he can move forward with surgery to repair the torn labrum in his non-throwing left shoulder.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield’s surgery could happen as soon as this week. A league source told ESPN that Mayfield could be back in time to participate in OTAs, which typically take place in May or June around the league.

Mayfield, who has been playing with the shoulder injury since Week 2, admitted following Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that he was “pretty damn beat up.” Mayfield was sacked nine times in the game.

“I’ve continued to lay it out on the line when I haven’t been healthy and tried to fight for our guys,” said Mayfield, who’s been playing with a harness on the shoulder to prevent it from popping out of place. “Now it’s time for me to start looking at what’s in the best interest of me and my health.”

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The Browns (7-9) were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday when the Bengals clinched the AFC North Division title.

Mayfield, who quarterbacked Cleveland to its first playoff triumph in 26 years last season, has struggled since suffering the shoulder injury, ranking 26th in the league in QBR (35.2).

On Monday, he also became the first NFL quarterback since 2019 to throw 10 consecutive incompletions, and the first since 2017 to be sacked at least five times and have five passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in the same game.

On Tuesday, Stefanski acknowledged that the shoulder injury and harness had affected Mayfield’s performance this season, but had no regrets about not giving him an extended rest to recover at any point.

“Throughout this whole thing, we have tried to make the right decision based on all the information available to us,” Stefanski said. “Constant dialogue with our medical staff, with Baker, and throughout have really felt comfortable based on all that information that he was able to play.”

Mayfield is under contract with Cleveland through the 2022 season, with the Browns having already exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

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