Tagged in: linebacker

Washington LB Thomas Davis Sr. says he’ll retire after 2020 season

Washington Football Team linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. will retire at the end of this campaign, he said in an Instagram post.

Washington (6-9) can extend Davis’ final season by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East on Sunday.

Davis, 37, has played 16 years in the NFL — the first 14 with Carolina and then the past two with the Los Angeles Chargers and Washington. Davis has served mostly in a backup role with Washington this season. He has played in seven games and received 132 snaps from scrimmage, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Washington coach Ron Rivera signed him because of Davis’ leadership and his familiarity with what Rivera wanted from his players.

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Rivera trusted Davis because of how he played for him in Carolina, where he made the Pro Bowl three consecutive seasons, from 2015 to 2017. He was a first team All-Pro performer in 2015, the year Carolina reached the Super Bowl. Davis signed a two-year deal with the Chargers in 2019 but was released last offseason.

Davis also endured three torn ACLs.

As a reminder of how he endured, Davis posted pictures of cleats on Instagram that sum up his career. One cleat has written on it “3 ACL Tears. 3 ACL Recoveries.” It also shows how many Pro Bowls he earned. On the other cleat, it reflects him winning the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Carolina drafted Davis with the 14th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft; he had played linebacker and free safety at Georgia. He was considered a top safety prospect before that draft, but the Panthers moved him to linebacker.

His speed and athleticism helped him have success in the NFL. In 199 games, Davis recorded 1,151 tackles, 29 sacks, 18 forced fumbles and 13 interceptions.

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree believed to have torn left ACL

The Pittsburgh Steelers are feared to have lost another key piece of their vaunted defense.

Outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who appeared to injure his left knee on a noncontact play in the second half of Wednesday’s 19-14 triumph over the Baltimore Ravens, is assumed to have suffered a torn ACL, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, confirming an NFL Network report. The severity of the injury is expected to be confirmed with further testing Thursday.

Dupree, 27, limped off the field following the injury and did not return to the match. “I think it was very quiet, very sad, very low, just because having our fellow teammate going down, Bud, and not knowing what’s going on over there,” wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster stated, describing the Steelers’ locker room after the game.

“But that’s something that, you always pray for everybody to be safe and have a healthy game.”

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Playing on the one-year franchise tag, Dupree will be a free agent after this season.

He followed up his breakout 2019 campaign with another strong effort this season, recording eight sacks and two forced fumbles along with 26 tackles. Along with T.J. Watt, Dupree was a foundational piece of the Steelers’ pass rush.

Substituting Dupree won’t be easy. Rookie Alex Highsmith, the Steelers’ third-round draft pick, is the top candidate to fill his role.

If the injury to his ACL is confirmed, Dupree would be the second Steelers defensive starter to go down with such an injury, after middle linebacker Devin Bush tore his versus the Cleveland Browns.

The torn ACL could cost him much of next campaign after a long, grueling rehab. It will cost him millions.

I think back once more to that Dallas game in 2004. The Steelers won, 24-20, on their way to a 15-1 regular-season record. That hardly seemed to matter on that awful day.

“It’s a pyrrhic victory,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said at the time. This win — even though it came against the Steelers’ most hated rival — had that same stomach-turning feel.

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Seattle Seahawks sign Mychal Kendricks to practice squad

The Seahawks made a modification at safety Wednesday with Lano Hill going to IR, promoting Damarious Randall from the practice squad. They also brought back a familiar face at linebacker. 

Damarious Randall has already been elevated from the practice squad twice to play in the Seahawks’ past two matches, and now the veteran safety has a spot on the 53-man roster, having been signed Wednesday to take the spot of safety Lano Hill, who was placed on injured reserve with a back injury that has kept him out of the past three games.

The Seahawks also added a pair of veteran linebackers to the practice squad, signing Mychal Kendricks, a 14-game starter for Seattle last campaign, and Ray-Ray Armstrong, an eight-year veteran who has appeared in 84 games over his career with the Cowboys, 49ers, Giants, Raiders, Rams and Browns.

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Randall, a 2015 first-round pick with 56 career starts on his resume, signed to Seattle’s practice squad ahead of the Week 4 game at Miami, and was elevated from the practice squad both for that game and the Week 5 victory over Minnesota. Under a new rule this season, practice squad players can be elevated for game weekends without counting towards the 53-man roster limit, but can only do so twice, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll indicated on Monday that this move could be coming with Randall.

“I hope we’ll get to see more of Randall going forward,” Carroll stated. “He’s a good ballplayer and he’s been around us now enough as he’s starting to dig in. So I’m excited about what he can add.”

Carroll’s Monday press conference also hinted that Hill’s move to IR could be coming.

“Lano’s got some issues with his back that haven’t really turned in the right direction,” Carroll said. “We’re looking after him right now. He’s not ready to come back yet.”

Kendricks, a former second-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, started 17 games for the Seahawks over the past two campaigns after signing with the Seahawks late in the 2018 season, both at weakside and strongside linebacker.

Last year Kendricks had 71 tackles, 3.0 sacks and one interception as Seattle’s starting strongside linebacker, but tore his ACL in Week 17, causing him to miss Seattle’s two playoff games. Kendricks is the latest accomplished veteran to join Seattle’s practice squad after Randall and former All-Pro defensive tackle Damon Harrison.

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush suffers torn ACL, out for the season

Devin Bush, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting inside linebacker, suffered a torn ACL during Sunday’s victory over the Browns.

The injury will require season-ending surgery, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stated his linebacker sustained a “significant knee injury” following Pittsburgh’s 38-7 win. 

The injury occurred near the end of the first half, with the Steelers enjoying a 24-0 lead. Bush sustained the injury after hitting Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson on an incomplete pass. The Browns scored their first touchdown of the game four plays later. 

Bush, the team’s 2019 first-round pick, played every single defensive snap until his injury, and he was the team’s defensive playcaller. While Bush was in the injury tent, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walked over to Norwig, who was standing just outside.

The two talked for a moment before Roethlisberger walked back to the sideline. Bush emerged a few seconds later and walked to the locker room under his own power with less than two minutes to play in the half.

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“I just want to send my thoughts and prayers to Devin and his family and everything he’s going through right now,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “It makes you sick when a young player like that gets hurt, and I need to send my thoughts and prayers to him.”

Bush was replaced in the lineup by Robert Spillane, a three-year veteran who is the middle of his second campaign with the Steelers.

A significant contributor to Pittsburgh’s special teams units, Spillane had not seen time on defense since getting eight reps during the Steelers’ season-opening triumph over the Giants. 

The No. 10 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Bush has started in 19 of his 20 games with the Steelers. Last year, the former Michigan standout recorded 109 tackles to go with four rumble recoveries, two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.

Through four games, Bush has recorded 21 tackles this season while helping Pittsburgh get off to its first 4-0 start since 1979.  Bush wasn’t the only Pittsburgh defender who sustained an injury on Sunday. Mike Hilton, who tallied three sacks during the Steelers’ first four games, also left Sunday’s game after suffering a shoulder injury.

Expect Tomlin to offer updates on both players during his weekly Tuesday press conference. 

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Houston Texans’ Benardrick Mckinney expected out for season

The Houston Texans inside linebacker corps has taken a hit to its leadership and on-field ability.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Pro Bowl inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney will undergo shoulder surgery, which will keep him out for the rest of 2020. The club is expected to place McKinney on injured reserve.

The former 2015 second-round pick from Mississippi State was unavailable for the Texans’ 30-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5 at NRG Stadium. McKinney was given the questionable designation on the Friday before the AFC South showdown but was unable to play after being a game-time decision.

McKinney’s season presumably ends with four games, all starts, and 37 combined tackles with one tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

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In McKinney’s absence versus the Jaguars, former 2016 undrafted free agent Tyrell Adams opposite Zack Cunningham provided 13 combined tackles, a tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery in his lone start of the campaign, playing 89% of Houston’s defensive snaps, while inside linebacker Dylan Cole did not play a defensive snap.

“T.A., he stepped in and made some plays,” interim coach Romeo Crennel stated. “So, that’s the name of this business, the next guy up. We tell them that all the time that they have to be ready when their number is called and yesterday the guys whose numbers were called, they performed well.”

McKinney, who had 37 tackles in four games, is playing on a five-year, $50 million contract extension he signed in 2018. McKinney was drafted by the Texans in the second round in 2015. He has 11.5 career sacks, 530 tackles and four forced fumbles.

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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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Jadeveon Clowney signs with Titans

Jadeveon Clowney made clear for months he wanted to be with a team that can win a Super Bowl, and he’s finally made his choice even if he didn’t get the long-term deal in the process.

The Tennessee Titans announced Sunday they agreed to terms with the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker on a one-year contract. The Titans did not reveal the terms Sunday. But ESPN.com reported the deal could be worth up to $15 million.

The No. 1 overall pick of 2014, Clowney went into free agency looking for a mega-contract that never came calling. The pandemic shut down travel for physicals, and Clowney didn’t visit anybody once the NFL permitted free agents to meet teams in person.

Clowney spent most of his career with the Houston Texans before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the 2019 campaign. He hit free agency this past spring and came to an settlement with the Titans nine days before their 2020 season opener.

They play the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football in Week 1.

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Since 2016 according to Sportradar, only Aaron Donald and Chandler Jones have combined for more tackles for loss, forced fumbles and quarterback pressures than Clowney who has 60 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and 159 total pressures.

Clowney, 27, is rejoining coach Mike Vrabel.

They worked together for three seasons in Houston when Vrabel was the defensive line coach. One of those years, Clowney reached the Pro Bowl after he had 59 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Vrabel and the Titans reached the AFC championship game in 2019 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. In six NFL seasons, Clowney has 236 tackles, 71 tackles for loss and 32 sacks.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection was one of the biggest stars left in the free agent market ahead of the 2020 season openers. He is coming off a core injury that required offseason surgery.

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Browns sign ex-super bowl MVP Malcolm Smith

The Browns have found some linebacker depth to help ease the loss of Mack Wilson, who might still make it back this campaign.

They signed eight-year pro Malcolm Smith, a former Super Bowl MVP of Seahawks. In a 43-8 triumph over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII after the 2013 season, Smith totaled 10 tackles, one fumble recovery, and an interception for a touchdown.

Not a bad haul for a seventh-round pick out of Southern California in 2011. Smith has appeared in 104 regular season games with the Seahawks (2011-14) Raiders (2015-16), 49ers (2017-18), Jaguars (2019) and Cowboys (2019).

He has 295 career tackles, 10 forced fumbles, six sacks, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.  To make room for him on the roster, the Browns waived center Casey Dunn, who left Saturday’s practice with a foot injury.

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The Browns are still expecting that Wilson, who suffered a hyperextended knee Tuesday, can come back in a reasonable timeframe this season.

A source told cleveland.com that Mack ‘definitely has an opportunity to return this season and that he might not need season-ending knee surgery.

Wilson ‘definitely has a chance’ to return this season; Kevin Johnson could be back fairly early

Wilson passed the COVID-19 testing protocol and practiced with the team Sunday afternoon. It was switched to a non-padded practice when it was first canceled and then postponed.

Guys like Mack Wilson, Tae Davis, and Willie Harvey, who were day three draft picks or undrafted players, can learn some tips and tricks about going from being a barely making the roster type of guy to a long eight-year career.

Mostly a career backup, he won’t be a great starter for the team. The Browns linebacker room is still likely the biggest question mark on the roster, and will probably be addressed yet again next offseason.

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Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower to opt out of 2020 season

A huge piece of the New England Patriots’ defense has decided to opt out of the 2020 season.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower will opt out of the season, NFL Network’s Michael Giardi confirmed Tuesday.

Hightower became a first-time father on July 16. His mother also has Type 2 diabetes.

According to an agreement approved by both the league and the NFL Players Association, players considered high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season if they choose to opt out. Players who voluntarily opt out of the campaign will receive a $150,000 salary advance and their contract will toll.

“Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family,” Hightower told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

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Hightower’s foundation annually raises money for the American Diabetes Association, which has important meaning to him as his mother, L’Tanya, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Hightower keeps a picture of his mother at his locker.

Hightower was booked to earn a base salary of $8 million in the final year of his contract, which will roll over to 2021.

The decision is a big blow to a Patriots defense already undergoing a transition with Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts leaving via free agency.

Hightower is a thumper in the middle of the Pats defense who has the flexibility to rush the passer. Per Pro Football Focus, Hightower led all off-ball linebackers in total pressures over the past three seasons with 80. The loss is important from an on-field production and a locker-room leadership standpoint for Bill Belichick’s squad.

Hightower is the fifth Patriots player to opt out of the 2020 season. Running back Brandon Bolden will also not play in 2020, per Giardi. Right tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran also opted out.

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Ravens Waive LB Jake Ryan After Signing Him This Offseason

It didn’t take long for the Baltimore Ravens to cut ties with one of their offseason acquirements.

On Thursday, the Ravens revealed they’ve waived linebacker Jake Ryan just one month after signing him to a one-year, $985,000 contract.

The Ravens signed Ryan to improve their linebacker corps, but his spot on the roster was in jeopardy after the team drafted LSU’s Patrick Queen and Ohio State’s Malik Harrison. Instead of waiting until training camp, Baltimore opted to put Ryan on the waiver wire in June.

Ryan was a former 2015 fourth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers out of Michigan. He started off his NFL career as a rotational linebacker, but slowly started earning starters snap in his second and third years. In his first three seasons, Ryan recorded 213 tackles (15 for loss), eight quarterback hits, one forced fumble, and one sack.

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His stint in Green Bay reached it’s conclusion after suffering a torn ACL during training camp in 2018, forcing him to miss the entire season.

As an unrestricted free agent last year, Ryan signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He didn’t make an impact with the Jags, as he started his season on the non-football injury list. Ryan played in just two games, where he didn’t post a single statistic.

Considering there are plenty of teams who need depth at linebacker, it should only be a matter of time before Ryan is picked up or signed before the start of summer drills.

In four NFL seasons, Ryan has used his size and physicality to develop into a reliable defender against the run, but he has struggled in coverage. He totaled 213 tackles (including 15 for loss), one sack, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 45 career games (27 starts).

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