Tagged in: Las Vegas

Las Vegas Raiders’ Johnathan Abram has season-ending shoulder injury

Las Vegas Raiders third-year strong safety Johnathan Abram suffered a season-ending left shoulder injury in the Raiders’ 16-14 triumph at the Cleveland Browns on Monday night and will undergo surgery, a source confirmed to ESPN.

NFL Network first reported the season-ending nature of the injury.

Abram suffered the injury late in the match and was replaced by Roderic Teamer, who figures to replace Abram in the starting lineup in the Raiders’ final three games —  versus the Denver Broncos (7-7), at the Indianapolis Colts (8-6) and against the Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) — as Las Vegas (7-7) tries to keep its playoff hopes alive.

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The Raiders also placed cornerback Brandon Facyson on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, joining cornerback Nate Hobbs.

The Raiders also placed cornerback Trayvon Mullen on injured reserve Monday.

The third of the Raiders’ three first-round picks in 2019 — Abram was selected at No. 27, behind defensive end Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 and running back Josh Jacobs at No. 24 — Abram played just one half of his rookie season as he suffered a season-ending injury to the same shoulder in his NFL debut.

After a mostly down second season, Abram benefited mightily from the arrival of new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and was impactful as a box safety against the run.

Still, he remained a liability in pass coverage. Abram, whose 116 tackles ranks second on the team and who is tied for first with one interception, had not missed a snap this season before going down with less than eight minutes to play Monday.

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More testing shows Washington’s Logan Thomas does have torn ACL

Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas faces a longer recovery after further tests revealed a torn ACL, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Thomas is expected to undergo surgery this week and be ready for the start of the 2022 season.

Washington initially feared that Thomas had torn the ACL and MCL in his left knee in a Dec. 5 game vs. the Las Vegas Raiders. However, more tests the following week revealed knee damage — but not to his ACL.

The organization breathed a collective sigh of relief, knowing his recovery would be a lot easier without a torn ACL.

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But even last week, after Thomas was placed on injured reserve, coach Ron Rivera said doctors were going to “keep an eye on it. They’re going to have one more doctor look at it.”

Before putting him on IR, Washington had debated keeping Thomas on the active 53-man roster in case the team made the playoffs and could use him at some point in the postseason.

Because it was his second stay on IR, it ended his season.

At the time, Rivera said they didn’t want to rush Thomas back.

Thomas had signed a three-year extension worth up to $24.065 million in August. He caught a career-high 72 passes for 670 yards and six touchdowns in 2020 and became one of the NFL’s best red zone targets at tight end.

This season, Thomas was limited to six games — he missed five games with a hamstring injury — and caught 18 passes, three for touchdowns, and 196 yards.

Ricky Seals-Jones took over as the No. 1 tight end with Thomas out. Seals-Jones has caught 24 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games.

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Las Vegas Raiders agree to 4-year contract extensions with kicker Daniel Carlson, punter AJ Cole

Las Vegas Raiders place-kicker Daniel Carlson, who tied for the NFL lead in scoring last season with 144 points, has agreed to a four-year contract extension, his agent tweeted Wednesday.

The deal is worth $18.4 million with $10.2 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It makes Carlson the league’s third-highest-paid kicker.

Raiders punter AJ Cole also received a four-year extension Wednesday that will make him one of the league’s top-four-paid punters, his agent told NFL Network. Cole’s new deal is worth $12.4 million, including $5.9 million guaranteed, a source told Schefter.

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Cole leads the NFL with 51.1 yards per punt. His 42.8-yard net average ranks seventh.

Carlson, 26, was initially a fifth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2018 but was cut after two games when he missed three of his first four field goal attempts. The Raiders signed him Oct. 23 of that season.

With the Raiders, Carlson has made 95 of 108 field goal attempts, including 12-of-15 from 50 yards or longer, and 120 of 126 point-after attempts. His 104 points scored this season — 27-for-30 on field goals, 23-for-25 on extra points — are tied for third in the NFL with Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay, behind New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk (128) and Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (108).

Carlson’s combined 60 field goals the past two seasons are the most in the NFL, while his 92.3% conversion rate over that time frame ranks fourth in the league.

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Las Vegas Raiders RB Kenyan Drake to have season-ending ankle surgery

Las Vegas Raiders running back Kenyan Drake will travel “in a few days” to Birmingham, Alabama, to undergo season-ending surgery on his broken right ankle, Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia stated Monday in his weekly news conference.

Drake, who was carted off the field after being tackled and twisted down awkwardly from behind by Washington’s Daniel Wise midway through the second quarter of the Raiders’ 17-15 loss, took to Twitter Sunday night to say that the tackle that injured him “should be an illegal form of tackling like a horse collar.”

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Bisaccia said Monday that Drake was frustrated since he suffered a similar injury last season, when he had a high right ankle sprain in Week 7 while playing for the Arizona Cardinals versus the Seattle Seahawks. He missed one game with that injury.

“When you look at the play on tape, it did not look intentional,” Bisaccia said. “I think he got himself in a funky body position at the end, when he went to finish … the guy kind of rolled him over, got his ankle caught underneath there.

“Certainly, it ended up being a roll-up position at the end.”

Drake, 27, signed a two-year free-agent contract worth $14.5 million with $11 million guaranteed with the Raiders this offseason.

A versatile change-of pace back to complement starter Josh Jacobs, Drake rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 63 carries and caught 29 passes for 283 yards and a TD.

He also returned 10 kickoffs for 192 yards for the Raiders. The Raiders also have lost fullback Alec Ingold for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee and backup running back Jalen Richard was placed on the COVID list the morning of the Washington game.

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Derek Carr channels Jon Gruden advice in Las Vegas Raiders’ OT win over Dallas Cowboys

Derek Carr had not been himself since the Las Vegas Raiders emerged from their bye.

A three-game losing streak, with calls from fans for him to be replaced with Marcus Mariota at quarterback growing louder by the loss, had him feeling off.

So on a short week, and with a prime-time game at the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, Carr remembered a piece of advice his former coach Jon Gruden gave him.

Don’t ever take your arm out of a game.

So Carr channeled Gruden, who resigned Oct. 11 after the publication of offensive emails, in the course of the Raiders’ 36-33 overtime victory and passed for 373 yards, his most since Week 3, when the Raiders were 3-0.

Carr also acknowledged starting faster on offense was key. So finding wide receiver DeSean Jackson on the Raiders’ third play from scrimmage for a 56-yard touchdown was the chef’s kiss. Even if it was early.

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“We get that touchdown, I look at the scoreboard, OK, 7-0,” Carr said. “I’m excited. I’m an emotional, passionate person, but my mindset literally goes, ‘OK, 7-0.’ We’ve got to keep going.

“But I can’t exhale during the game, especially with this one, how close it was. We hit that play, it’s exciting … but I can’t exhale. Win or lose, whether it’s going good or bad, I have to stay in the moment.”

Carr also got his run game going, rushing for a 22-yard pickup.

He celebrated by flashing a “shaka” hand sign at Mariota, a Hawaiian native.

“I always call myself ‘Carriota’ and he gets a kick out of that one,” Carr stated of Mariota. “Anytime I scramble in practice or in a game, I’ll come up to him and be like, ‘Carriota, bro,’ and he’ll laugh at me. Probably just to appease me. It felt good to be able to pick up that. They actually got tripped up, and I felt it. Honestly it was just experience at that point. I knew they were in the man coverage look on the back end, and when that gain happened and they didn’t have contain, I just took off.”

Said interim coach Rich Bisaccia: “Derek is his biggest critic. … He’s been off sync a little bit; we’ve all been off sync.

“Today he looked like Derek Carr. It’s fun to watch him play.”

The Raiders, who play host to Washington in 10 days, have endured the Gruden resignation as well as the trauma and tragedy of former receiver Henry Ruggs III’s high-speed car crash that killed a 23-year-old woman and her dog.

After Ruggs was released, the Raiders’ vertical threat was gone. So they signed Jackson, who turns 35 on Wednesday but is rounding into form for Las Vegas. “One thing I’ve tried to do this year, especially when [Ruggs] was here, I was going to be so aggressive,” Carr said.

“It leads sometimes to not completing as many balls on a percentage chart, but to me, Gruden used to tell me, ‘Don’t ever take your arm out of a game.’ So when we call these things, let’s rip ’em.”

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Max Holloway edges Yair Rodriguez in bloody, back-and-forth UFC Fight Night main event

Yair Rodriguez, blood coming from several cuts on his face, pointed his finger and planted it in Max Holloway’s chest. Holloway, face swollen and bleeding from above his right eye, took his fist and patted it versus Rodriguez’s face.

Holloway’s legend continued Saturday with a unanimous-decision victory (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) over Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. And Rodriguez’s own lore leveled up after a warrior-like performance in a losing effort.

The back-and-forth bout, which ended up as one of the best of 2021, could have been a torch passing moment from Holloway, the former UFC featherweight champion, to the up-and-coming Rodriguez. Instead, Holloway, nicknamed “Blessed,” earned another huge victory in a historic career.

Rodriguez pushed Holloway to the brink, rallying with an elbow that cut Holloway in the fifth round. But Holloway held on.

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“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best — and the best is ‘Blessed,’ baby,” Holloway said in his postfight interview.

Both fighters were taken to a hospital after the fight.

Holloway outlanded Rodriguez in important strikes 230-159, per UFC stats. The 389 combined significant strikes are the third largest total in a single fight in UFC history — and Holloway has been involved in each of the top four highest totals, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Holloway landed 251 total strikes, becoming the first fighter to eclipse 3,000 total strikes in a UFC career. His 2,848 significant strikes are also a UFC record. Holloway is the only fighter in history to have 25 UFC fights and never get knocked down.

“Insane,” UFC president Dana White said. “It was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen.”

Holloway is arguably the best featherweight in UFC history, holding the 145-pound title from 2017 to 2019 with three title defenses. ESPN has Holloway ranked tied for No. 9 in the world in its pound-for-pound MMA rankings. At featherweight, Holloway is ranked No. 2 and Rodriguez is No. 8.

“Max is an amazing fighter,” Rodriguez stated. “He has a lot of experience. He’s done an amazing job. I have nothing to do but accept [the loss].”

Afterward, Holloway was noncommittal about what he wants next. He mentioned a possible title fight at lightweight, another shot at the man who took the featherweight title from him in Alexander Volkanovski, and even being on “the short list” for a fight versus Conor McGregor, who beat Holloway in 2013.

“We’re ready whenever,” Holloway said.

Holloway, 29, owns the most wins (18), most KO/TKO wins (8) and most stoppage victories (10) in UFC featherweight history. Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC) was undefeated in three consecutive fights coming in and has just two losses in 10 UFC fights.

The Mexico native had not fought since a unanimous-decision victory over Jeremy Stephens in October 2019. Rodriguez, 29, owns the record for the latest knockout in UFC history, a spectacular back elbow finish of “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, with one second remaining in the fifth and final round in November 2018.

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Denver Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson to miss rest of season because of torn right pectoral muscle

Denver Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson, who is the team’s second-leading tackler, will miss the remainder of the season after he suffered a torn right pectoral muscle in Sunday’s 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio stated Monday that tests had revealed the tear. Johnson, who has 32 tackles on the season, becomes the third Broncos defensive starter — and third linebacker — to head to injured reserve in the past four weeks. Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb went to injured reserve last month after surgery to remove a bone spur from his left ankle.

Johnson is also the second of those defensive starters, along with fellow inside linebacker Josey Jewell, to have suffered a torn pectoral muscle. Jewell suffered his injury in the Broncos’ Week 2 victory over Jacksonville. Fangio said the team’s medical staff will look at both injuries to evaluate why two players at the same position suffered the same injuries.

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“They’ll look at it, Josey’s was a contact injury, and [Johnson] fell on his,” Fangio said. “But they’ll look at it. It seems to be a more common injury nowadays around the NFL than it has been in the past.”

Fangio isn’t imagining it.

In 2019, the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine did a study to determine whether the number of players suffering torn pectoral muscles was on the rise. And after studying the injuries that had been made public, the report said torn pectorals had increased five times between 2010 and 2017 than had occurred from 2000 to 2010.

Jewell suffered his injury on special teams — covering a punt — while Johnson was injured in pass coverage on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to running back Kenyan Drake.

Micah Kiser entered the match after Johnson was injured and played the rest of the way. Kiser and Justin Strnad are expected to start at the two inside linebacker spots Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns, with Strnad expected to wear the communication earpiece in his helmet during the game.

Jewell had worn the earpiece, and then Johnson did in the weeks following Jewell’s injury.

“That’s the way it will be right now, [but] we’ll see how [Kiser] can do it with it, too, and make a decision by game time,” Fangio said. Fangio stated the Broncos might have to elevate one or two inside linebackers from their practice squad for Thursday’s game. Inside linebackers Curtis Robinson and Barrington Wade are on the Broncos’ practice squad and both were with the team throughout training camp.

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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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Anthony Smith dominates light heavyweight bout with first-round submission of Ryan Spann

Anthony Smith stated two years ago after a title loss to all-time great Jon Jones that maybe he’d never get another opportunity to defeat Jones.

But that was OK, Smith said, because he’d simply outlast Jones — and the rest of the UFC light heavyweight division.

Those comments have aged pretty well.

Smith took out another up-and-comer Saturday night, submitting Ryan Spann with a rear-naked choke at 3:47 of the first round in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

Smith dropped Spann twice with punches and then finished the job on the ground with his grappling acumen in an outstanding performance.

Smith has five first-round finishes since 2018, tied with Vicente Luque for the most in the UFC during that stretch, per ESPN Stats & Info.

“He’s got the skills,” Smith said in his postfight interview. “I think I’m better.” After referee Herb Dean stopped the fight following Spann’s tap, Smith started jawing at Spann.

The two men had to be separated by security and their teams. Smith took umbrage with some of the trash talk coming from Spann and his team leading up to this fight. But cooler heads prevailed and the two ended up embracing and exchanging pleasantries.

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Smith stated after the bout he wants another streaking prospect next: Aleksandar Rakic. The two fought in August 2020 with Rakic winning by unanimous decision.

“He’s just sitting around,” Smith said. “He’s not next in line for the title. Either I want that fight or I skip it.”

Rakic tweeted seconds later that he was free in December. To that, Smith responded: “Merry Christmas to me.”

Smith clipped Spann with a left hand behind the ear that dropped him early in the first round during an exchange.

Spann was able to get back to his feet after escaping an armbar attempt.

When the two got into another striking exchange, Smith was able to land a big left followed by a right hand that hurt Spann. Another right put Spann down; Smith took his back in a scramble and then cinched in the choke that ended things.

Smith (36-16) has won three consecutive — all by finish — and was coming off a first-round TKO victory over prospect Jimmy Crute.

The Nebraska native lost to Jones, who has since vacated the belt and left the division, at UFC 235 in March 2019. He is 4-2 since then. Smith, 33, has been very solid since moving up to light heavyweight from middleweight in 2018, going 7-3 with wins over former champions Rashad Evans and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, as well as former multiple-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson.

Spann (19-7) was seeking his first real signature win against a top light heavyweight. The Texas resident was coming off a first-round TKO win over Misha Cirkunov in March.

Spann, 30, has won nine of his last 11 fights and is a former LFA light heavyweight champion.

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Baltimore Ravens fear RB Gus Edwards, CB Marcus Peters have torn ACLs

The Baltimore Ravens fear they lost running back Gus Edwards and cornerback Marcus Peters to season-ending knee injuries Thursday, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Ravens think Edwards and Peters tore their ACLs during Thursday’s practice, sources told Schefter. Baltimore wasn’t practicing in full pads Thursday. Both players are undergoing testing to confirm the initial diagnoses.

This continues a horrid run of injuries for Baltimore and delivers a major blow to the Ravens’ Super Bowl aspirations.

Edwards becomes the third running back to suffer a season-ending injury in a span of 12 days. J.K. Dobbins tore the ACL in his left knee in the preseason finale Aug. 28, and Justice Hill hurt an Achilles tendon Sept. 9.

Ty’Son Williams, a practice player from a year ago who doesn’t have an NFL carry, becomes the Ravens’ lead back. The other two running backs on the roster –Trenton Cannon and Le’Veon Bell (practice squad) — only started practicing with the Ravens on Wednesday.

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The Ravens are also signing free-agent running back Devonta Freeman to their practice squad on Thursday, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told Schefter.

It is expected that Freeman will be promoted to the active roster.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown took to Twitter to wish the best for their injured teammates.

The Ravens have had the NFL’s most dominant ground attack, leading the league in rushing the past two campaigns. Dobbins and Edwards totaled 1,528 yards rushing last season, which accounted for 81% of the output by Baltimore running backs. Edwards signed a three-year, $12.38 million deal in June that included $8 million in guaranteed money.

The loss of Peters would represent the most significant injury to the defense this year. The Ravens have depth at cornerback, but it will be difficult to replace Peters’ playmaking ability. His 31 interceptions leads the NFL since he entered the league in 2015.

Since Peters was traded to Baltimore in Week 9 of 2019, the Ravens have permitted the fewest yards per pass attempt (6.1) and tied for the second-fewest touchdown passes allowed (31), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Anthony Averett, a fourth-round pick in 2018, would be a candidate to replace Peters and start opposite Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens open the season at the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football.

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