Tagged in: defensive end

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe undergoes second hip surgery this year

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe announced Monday that he underwent his second hip surgery of the year, which is the latest setback in his injury-filled career.

Wolfe, 32, missed all of past season with hip and back injuries. He had his first hip surgery in January and then had another one five months later.

“Feeling pretty good,” Wolfe said in an Instagram video that he recorded from his hospital bed. “We’re going to get a full recovery here and try to live a normal life.”

Wolfe’s $2 million salary this season is fully guaranteed, and his $3.8 salary cap figure ranks 13th on the Ravens. Baltimore re-signed Wolfe to a three-year, $12 million contract (including $5.4 million signing bonus) in March 2021, and he has yet to play a match since then.

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Wolfe injured his back and hip during joint practices with the Carolina Panthers in training camp. He was designated to return off injured reserve in November, but he reverted back to IR after briefly appearing in one practice.

Earlier this offseason, Wolfe told a hunting podcast that he didn’t know whether his hip injury would force him to retire. But Wolfe later tweeted in March that he fully intended on coming back this season.

Justin Madubuike stepped into the starting lineup in place of Wolfe last campaign, making 36 tackles and two sacks. Baltimore also signed Brent Urban, a former fourth-round pick, to provide more depth at defensive end.

A second-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2012, Wolfe has struggled to stay healthy. He has missed a total of 39 games over the last nine seasons.

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Cleveland Browns reach deal to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney to one-year, $11 million deal

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has agreed to re-sign with the Cleveland Browns on a one-year, $11 million contract after experiencing one of the best seasons of his career with the franchise, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Clowney concluded with nine sacks and two forced fumbles for the Browns last season while playing opposite All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett, who, like Clowney, also was a former No. 1 overall draft pick.

Clowney, 29, signed with the Browns last April on a one-year deal worth up to $10 million, which included $750,000 in sack bonuses.

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Before last season, he had battled injuries throughout his career. Clowney struggled in 2020 with the Tennessee Titans, finishing without a sack in eight matches before suffering a season-ending knee injury, which required surgery.

This past season, however, Clowney largely stayed healthy, playing 14 games.

He finished strong, getting two sacks and a forced fumble in Cleveland’s regular-season finale.

Afterward, Clowney expressed an interest in returning to Cleveland, but added that he wanted to capitalize financially off the banner year.

“You play at a high level,” he said, “you want to get paid.”

The Houston Texans made Clowney the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, he has 41 sacks in eight seasons. By any measure, it was a career renaissance for Clowney.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection hadn’t played that many games in a season since he appeared in 15 in 2018 or compiled that many sacks since he posted nine the same year.

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Baltimore Ravens re-sign DE Calais Campbell to 2-year, $12.5M contract

Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell is coming back to the Baltimore Ravens on a two-year deal, the team revealed Saturday.

Campbell’s contract is worth $12.5 million but could be as much as $16.5 million with incentives, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Campbell, 35, decided to return for his 15th NFL season after briefly contemplating retirement, saying he still has a desire to play after watching the Los Angeles Rams celebrate their championship.

He now will get to conclude his career in Baltimore after spending the past two seasons there and will try to get that elusive Super Bowl ring.

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Over the past two days, the Ravens addressed two areas of need while bolstering their leadership on defense, bringing back middle linebacker Josh Bynes on Friday and then keeping Campbell on Saturday.

Ravens Lamar Jackson and Tony Jefferson II took to Twitter to share their reactions to Campbell’s return.

A six-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has long been known for his capacity to get to the quarterback.

But he was more of a run-stopper than a pass-rush force in his two seasons with Baltimore, where he managed 4.5 sacks, including 1.5 last season.

Durability has been a problem for Campbell with the Ravens. After his streak of 98 straight starts ended, Campbell missed six of his past 25 games with Baltimore.

He is one of four NFL defenders since 2000 to record at least 700 tackles and 85 sacks. Among all active players, his 93.5 career sacks rank 10th and his 773 career tackles are 12th. Campbell is still in search of that first Super Bowl championship after six trips to the playoffs.

He played nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft, and three with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being traded to the Ravens in March 2020 for a fifth-round pick.

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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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Washington DE Montez Sweat has broken jaw, could miss a month

Washington defensive end Montez Sweat suffered a broken jaw in Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos and will miss perhaps a month – or more.

The loss deals a serious blow to Washington, which has lost four consecutive matches and entered its bye week with a 2-6 record. It’s the same record it had a year ago after eight games en route to a 5-3 finish and NFC East title.

Repeating that won-loss success will be difficult minus Sweat, whose injury was first reported by Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan. He hurt his jaw late in Sunday’s 17-10 beating, with his final snap of the game occurring at the 6:54 mark of the fourth quarter.

Sweat could be seen grabbing the side of his face after the play had concluded. It wasn’t until he got an X-Ray that the fracture was discovered. He can’t have any physical contact for a month. That means he’ll miss upcoming games vs. Tampa Bay, Carolina and Seattle.

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Washington had high hopes for Sweat and fellow end Chase Young this season.

But, so far, the two have combined for 5.5 sacks, with four by Sweat. Both have forced two fumbles this season. They had a combined 16.5 sacks a year ago in Young’s rookie season and stated they had discussed trying to break sack records by a tandem pass rush. The record is 39 by Minnesota’s Chris Doleman and Keith Millard in 1989.

Sweat had started 40 consecutive matches since entering the NFL in 2019. His size, length and athleticism made him difficult for offenses to always handle one-on-one in the run or pass game.

Washington also was thin at backup defensive end, having allowed veteran Ryan Kerrigan to leave via free agency in the offseason. Their backups are Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams, who has played nearly three times as many snaps as Toohill. Rookie Shaka Toney also can help as a situational pass rusher.

Washington’s offense has been hit hard by injuries this season; at the end of Sunday’s game of the original 11 expected starters only three were on the field. But, defensively, they’ve been healthier with only linebacker Jon Bostic lost for the season after four games. Corner William Jackson III has missed two games.

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Minnesota Vikings DE Danielle Hunter out for season with torn pectoral muscle

An MRI revealed that Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter tore a pectoral muscle on Sunday and will miss the remainder of the campaign, coach Mike Zimmer announced Monday.

Hunter suffered what was initially classified as a shoulder injury in the second quarter of Minnesota’s 20-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He was downgraded from questionable to out at the beginning of the third quarter and was not seen on the sideline in the second half.

Hunter, 27, is tied for 10th in the NFL with six sacks through seven games and played at least 83% of the defensive snaps in each of Minnesota’s first six matches before its Week 8 game with Dallas.

“I don’t think you replace him,” Zimmer said. “He’s one of a kind. It’s unfortunate that we’re going to miss the next half of the season with him, and all of last year. So, he’s a great kid and he’ll do a good job in his rehab and he’ll be ready to go.”

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Hunter missed the 2020 season with a neck injury that required him to have surgery last year.

He missed the majority of Minnesota’s offseason program while rehabbing his neck before being cleared to return to practice in August.

“I can’t imagine. I really can’t imagine what he’s going through,” Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen stated. “He rehabbed his neck to get back strong and then he comes back and something like this happens to him.

It can be very frustrating, and I know that he’s frustrated right now. But he’s got to just pick his head up and fight back just like he did last year, and it’s devastating for our football team losing one of our star players. It really hurts.”

The Vikings reworked Hunter’s contract ahead of mandatory minicamp to give the defensive end $5.6 million of his $12.15 million 2021 base salary as a signing bonus. The restructure also called for an $18 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2022 league year.

Considering the nature of Hunter’s season-ending injury, it’s not likely the Vikings will pick up his option, thus foreshadowing a reworked deal or release next March.

Hunter had 54.5 sacks through his first five NFL seasons, becoming the fastest player ever to reach 50 sacks after notching double-digit-sack seasons in 2018 and 2019 when he earned back-to-back Pro Bowl honors.

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Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will miss 6-8 weeks with broken foot

Dallas Cowboys defensive DeMarcus Lawrence sustained a broken foot in Wednesday’s practice that will force him to miss 6-8 weeks.

It is a huge blow to a defense that did not generate a sack in Week 1 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and could also be without its second-best pass rusher, Randy Gregory, Sunday versus the Los Angeles Chargers.

Lawrence was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice but immediately had an MRI, which revealed the break.

Lawrence did not practice for most of training camp because of offseason back surgery but he recorded six tackles, two quarterback pressures and forced a fumble against the Buccaneers.

He has 45.5 sacks for his career and is a two-time Pro Bowl pick. As for Gregory, coach Mike McCarthy did not sound hopeful before practice about him passing COVID-19 protocols in time to play versus the Chargers.

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“If you look at the history, it’s been 10 days pretty much everybody we’ve dealt with in the COVID protocol,” he said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”

With Lawrence out and if Gregory cannot play, then the Cowboys would potentially turn to Dorance Armstrong and Tarell Basham as their starters with Bradlee Anae and Chauncey Golston as backups.

They have combined for 10 sacks in their careers, or only 3.5 sacks more than what Lawrence recorded a year ago. Basham has 7.5 sacks in 59 games.

Golston, a third-round pick, missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury and was inactive for the season opener.

Perhaps the start of Wednesday’s practice was a bad omen for the Cowboys defensive line. Assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett was carted off the field with an apparent right knee injury that will require surgery.

Since the 31-29 loss to the Buccaneers, the Cowboys have lost four starters: Wide receiver Michael Gallup was placed on injured reserve with a calf strain, right tackle La’el Collins was suspended five games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Gregory was placed on the COVID-19 list and now Lawrence is out with the broken foot.

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Minnesota Vikings bring back DT Sheldon Richardson

The Minnesota Vikings continue to prioritize their pass rush during mandatory minicamp.

One day after the team and defensive end Danielle Hunter agreed to a reworked contract for 2021, the Vikings brought back defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on a one-year, $3.6 million deal with incentives that could elevate the value to $4.35 million, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Richardson, who played with the Vikings during the 2018 campaign, said he was approached by Minnesota several weeks ago with an offer and waited to sign until Tuesday after not working out a deal to return to Cleveland Browns, where he played 2019-20.

“You know, I started something there. Honestly, just couldn’t come to an agreement with what I wanted from Cleveland,” Richardson said. “And me being cool with the organization here and knowing everything with what Zim [coach Mike Zimmer] and Coach Dre [defensive line coach Andre Patterson] bring to the table for me … they put me in position to make plays earlier in my career. It was a perfect fit.”

The Browns released Richardson in April in a move that created $11 million in salary-cap space. He started 31 matches in Cleveland and registered 4.5 sacks during the 2020 season.

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This is the second time Richardson has signed a one-year contract with Minnesota.

In 2018, the 2013 first-round pick inked an $8 million deal with the Vikings and proceeded to notch 47 pressures and five sacks that season. That performance helped him earn a three-year, $36 million contract with the Browns as a free agent in 2019.

But this time around, Richardson doesn’t view his contract as a prove-it deal to earn another big payday.

“I’m proven,” Richardson said. “I’ve proven my talent last year, years ago and pretty much every year I’ve played in the league. The way the business works, they hold you five days before the draft and there’s no more money in free agency. You’ve got to take what they hand out.”

After concluding with a franchise-low 23 sacks in 2020, shoring up several areas along the defensive line has been a priority for Minnesota this offseason. The Vikings signed defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson to a two-year, $21 million contract in March.

Although Tomlinson is set to occupy the three-technique spot opposite nose tackle Michael Pierce, Richardson’s athleticism and physical tools will help Minnesota upgrade its interior pass rush.

“I get in where I fit in, simple as that,” Richardson said. “This will be the first year where I’ve not started, so I’m just getting in where I fit in.”

Richardson, 30, played primarily as a three-technique in Cleveland but has played several positions throughout his eight-year career, starting out as a defensive end with the New York Jets before being moved to outside linebacker.

Playing other positions on the D-line is something Richardson said he’s willing to do if needed. “It’s as simple as that. I don’t mind it,” he said.

“I’ve played outside linebacker before in this league, so I really don’t mind it at all. And I was 330 when I did that. I’m 286 right now and feeling good. Like I said, just trying to get back in football shape and let the chips fall where they [may].”

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San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa (ACL) expected to be ready for training camp

More than 80 of the players on the San Francisco 49ers’ 90-man roster participated in Tuesday’s organized team activity — but the most positive news of the day might have been about one of the few players who wasn’t there.

Defensive end Nick Bosa was not in attendance at the voluntary session as he works his way back from the torn left ACL he suffered on Sept. 20, 2020. But, after the roughly 75-minute OTA, coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear that Bosa’s rehabilitation is going well and the expectation is that when training camp opens on July 31, Bosa will be a part of it.

“Nick’s in Florida,” Shanahan said. “I’ve been talking to Nick since February on this. He came out in February for a while to get checked up on his knee and stuff. With him coming off the ACL and everything, it’s going great. … He’s got a good setup out there with his brother and the guy who works with his knee. They’re in contact with our guys all the time and just didn’t want to take him off his routine right now. I totally agree with him out there. He’s going to show up at some time during this, but he won’t be going out there doing anything coming off the ACL, but we fully expect him to be ready for training camp.”

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Getting Bosa back at full strength would be a big development for a defense that dropped from fifth in sacks in 2019 (48) to 22nd last year (30).

Bosa suffered the torn ACL early in a Week 2 win versus the New York Jets. It was the first of a series of season-destroying injuries for the Niners, who slumped to 6-10 after winning the NFC championship the previous campaign.

The 49ers’ pass rush would also benefit from the return of another key edge rusher if Dee Ford is able to recover from his persistent back issues. Ford, who appeared in just one game in 2020, also didn’t participate Tuesday, but Shanahan said Ford had been at the team’s facility since February and has made progress.

“Everyone knows the sensitivity of his injury with his back and stuff, but he’s been putting in a lot of work here and we feel it’s going the right direction,” Shanahan said.

“Last week, we sent him home because he had been here so long, to go back to his hometown, see his doctor and plan on coming back here in the next couple of weeks. But don’t expect to see him till training camp on the field.”

Also not participating Tuesday was running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who recently had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, a league source told ESPN, confirming an NFL Network report. Wilson is expected to miss four to six months.

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