Tagged in: New York Giants

Cam Newton returns to New England Patriots from COVID protocol

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton returned to the team facility Thursday and practiced after missing three consecutive days due to a COVID-19 protocol “misunderstanding,” with coach Bill Belichick saying Newton “didn’t violate team rules.”

Belichick mostly referred to the team’s statement — which said that the club approved Newton leaving the New England region for a medical appointment — when asked about how the “misunderstanding” occurred.

“I don’t really have anything to add. We released a statement, and I think that covered it as thoroughly as we can without getting into a lengthy thing. So we’ll just leave it at that,” Belichick said.

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Newton’s absence opened the door for rookie quarterback Mac Jones to take No. 1 repetitions each of the past three days, and he seemed to take advantage of the opportunity Wednesday versus the New York Giants, capping off his practice by leading the offense to an 80-yard touchdown drive.

With Newton back Thursday, Belichick said, “All the quarterbacks will get work.”

Thursday marks the Patriots’ final practice of training camp, and then the team will visit the Giants in the preseason finale on Sunday (6 p.m. ET).

The quarterback competition between Newton and Jones remains a top storyline, with Belichick having consistently stated that Newton is the starter but that, like players at any position, he has to reestablish that standing throughout the preseason.

Belichick has also said there could be a change at any position if someone performs better than the starter or the starter isn’t available.

Asked at what point he needs to transition from a spirited quarterback competition to having a starter and giving that player the majority of repetitions to get him prepared for the season opener Sept. 12 against the Miami Dolphins, Belichick said: “I don’t have a timetable on that. … I’m not sure.”

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Denver Broncos sign right tackle Bobby Massie after injury to Ja’Wuan James

In the wake of Ja’Wuan James’ season-ending injury, the Denver Broncos on Wednesday signed Bobby Massie to play right tackle.

According to Massie’s representatives, Massie agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal. The 31-year-old has started 110 matches in his career and figures to be the Broncos’ starter at right tackle when they open the season Sept. 12 versus the New York Giants.

James suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury early last week. The Broncos on Monday will start phase 2 of their offseason program, which will permit some limited on-field work for players in attendance.

Massie was a player the Broncos were interested in signing in 2016, when he joined the Chicago Bears in free agency.

Massie spent the past five seasons with the Bears after playing his first four years in the league with the Arizona Cardinals.

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Massie missed the last eight games of the 2020 regular season because of a knee injury but had returned to practice before the end of the season. He did not play in the Bears’ wild-card loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The Broncos have largely been vexed at right tackle over the past eight years.

At least two players have started games at the position in each of the past eight seasons, as the Broncos used four different players at right tackle in 2020 and 2017.

The Broncos have not had a player start all 16 games of a season at right tackle since Orlando Franklin did it in 2012. James, who opted out last season because of concerns over COVID-19, has played a combined 63 snaps over three games — all in 2019 — since he signed a four-year, $51 million deal with the Broncos in March of that year.

James stated during the 2019 season he had suffered a torn meniscus as well as a torn MCL in separate games that season.

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New York Giants to re-sign franchised Leonard Williams to three-year, $63 million deal

The New York Giants and twice-franchised defensive lineman Leonard Williams reached agreement on a three-year, $63 million deal that incorporates $45 million fully guaranteed on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Giants placed the franchise tag on Williams before the March 9 deadline, the second consecutive year that Williams was tagged. He was scheduled to make $19.4 million for the 2021 season on the franchise tender without an extension, which the two sides had until July 15 to agree upon.

The Giants entered the negotiating period approximately $4 million under the salary cap. Their flexibility to make moves was going to be contingent on striking a long-term deal with Williams.

The first-year cap hit in this deal is expected to land in the $11 million range, a source told ESPN. That provides the Giants an additional $8 million in cap space in addition to a restructuring of the contract for veteran offensive tackle Nate Solder.

The Giants immediately went to work with the newfound flexibility and agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million with $1 million guaranteed for former Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick John Ross, according to a source.

He provides the Giants with some much-needed speed and depth for a thin wide receiving corps.

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Williams is coming off a career-best campaign in which he ended with 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits, good for third in the NFL. His 41 quarterback pressures was seventh among interior defensive linemen, according to NFL NextGen Stats data.

It was quite the turnaround for the 2015 first-round pick of the New York Jets in his first full season with the Giants. He thrived under coach Joe Judge and in the defensive system of coordinator Patrick Graham.

Williams, 26, was credited with half a sack the previous season, which he split between the Giants and the Jets. It was the latest in an unspectacular first five seasons in the NFL after being the sixth overall selection out of USC.

Regardless, the Giants traded a pair of middle-rounds draft picks for Williams midway through the 2019 season, just months before he was set to become a free agent. They placed the franchise tag on him last offseason, and he played on the one-year deal worth $16.126 million.

With his first double-digit sack season, Williams proved he was worth that and much more as one of the NFL’s most productive defensive linemen. His previous high for sacks in a season was seven in 2016.

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New York Giants’ Nate Solder intends to play in 2021 after opting out last season

New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder intends to play in 2021 as long as the situation is right, he told ESPN in a phone conversation this week.

Solder, who opted out this past season because of concerns for his family with COVID-19, has yet to have that discussion with the team regarding his future. He was considered a high-risk opt-out and his contract tolled.

He is planned to make $10 million in 2021 while costing $16.5 million against the salary cap this season. The Giants haven’t been in a rush to make any moves with the new league year still almost three weeks away. Like everybody else, they’re waiting to see the official salary-cap number for the 2021 season. Then they’re expected to meet with the veteran tackle.

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Solder, 32, was the Giants’ starting left tackle in 2018 and ’19 after signing a lucrative free-agent contract.

He had spent the previous seven years of his career with the New England Patriots, where he won a pair of Super Bowls.

The decision to opt out last season centered around Solder’s family. His oldest son Hudson has battled cancer. So has Nate. Solder and his wife Lexi also had a newborn.

Solder had stated late last year on the Sports Spectrum podcast with former NFL quarterback Brock Huard that if he had another opportunity to play, he would probably take it. He also noted that he was still working out, but hadn’t prioritized his conditioning and weight lifting like he would during a regular football season.

The Giants now have a decision to make if they are going to move forward with Solder. They would save $6 million this season against the salary cap if he’s released, and $10 million if they made it a post-June 1 cut.

New York drafted a pair of tackles in last year’s draft, including Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 overall pick out of Georgia. Thomas started at left tackle and, despite early struggles, got better as the season progressed.

Third-round pick Matt Peart is expected to compete for the starting right tackle spot this year. Cameron Fleming, who started last season, is a free agent.

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Jacksonville Jaguars fire coach Doug Marrone

Shad Khan has been hands-off for the first nine years of his ownership of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it looks like that’s going to change going forward.

Khan said Monday that he wants to alter the organizational structure he’s been using by having his new general manager and head coach be on equal footing and have them each report to him — and to have a larger say in the process of building the roster.

“The current environment is the head coaches, the kind of coaches you want, they want to be able to work very closely with the general manager on the personnel side,” Khan said shortly after he fired coach Doug Marrone following a 1-15 season.

“A key thing how we would be structuring this is that I’m going to have the general manager and the head coach report directly to me. That way, really, you have the transparency and the needs and the concerns of both parties without really getting filtered or having a chain of command. “.

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You basically hire them about the same time and really you have a perfect alignment, which you need in a winning organization.”

The Jaguars have already interviewed some GM candidates since Khan fired Dave Caldwell on Nov. 29, including ESPN analyst Louis Riddick and former New York Giants GM Jerry Reese.

The interviews for head coach will start this week

While former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s name has been reported as a likely replacement for Marrone, Khan said he has not spoken with Meyer — or anyone else — about the job.

The Jaguars just wrapped up the worst campaign in franchise history — though the silver lining is that the team has the No. 1 overall pick, which it will almost certainly use on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. If so, Lawrence will become the fourth quarterback the team has drafted in the first round, joining Byron Leftwich, Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles.

Lawrence, though, is regarded as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012 and possibly the best since Peyton Manning in 1998.

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New York Giants QB Daniel Jones has second leg injury

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is dealing with a second “lower leg issue” coming out of Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, coach Joe Judge stated Wednesday.

Jones confirmed Wednesday afternoon it was a low ankle sprain and that it was “sore.” This is in addition to the right hamstring strain that limited his ability to run, resulting in six sacks in the 26-7 loss, and forced him to miss the previous week’s game.

“There really is nothing worse for the wear with the previous injury,” Judge said as the Giants returned to practice. “He did come out with some bumps and bruises. There is another lower leg issue we’re dealing with right now. We’re going to go ahead and move him around at practice and see where he’s at.”

Judge said no decision has been made about whether his starting quarterback will be able to play Sunday night versus the Cleveland Browns. Jones, with a propensity to downplay injuries, said the hamstring feels good and overall he “felt good” during Wednesday’s practice.

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Colt McCoy, who saw an increase in practice reps with Jones listed as a limited participant in practice, would start if Jones can’t play.

“I’m going to give him the opportunity this week to work through practice, see how he moves and how he reacts to things,” Judge stated. “… If he’s not at risk beyond any normal game, then we’ll go ahead and give him the chance to play. If we think that is an issue, that he can’t go out there and defend himself, then we’ll make then best decision for him long term and the team as well.”

Jones looked hampered during Wednesday’s open portion of practice. He backpedaled gingerly while the team warmed up and stretched, and he hobbled at times during individual drills.

His back leg even jolted a couple times after making short throws.

McCoy, who started in Jones’ place in a 17-12 win over the Seattle Seahawks, took more reps than usual at Wednesday’s practice. McCoy was behind center for the first snap with the first-team offense, which is generally a decent indication of who starts at quarterback that week.

Jones was 11-of-21 for 127 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and a lost fumble against Arizona. The second-year quarterback did not have a rushing attempt for the first time in his career.

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New York Giants WR Golden Tate suffers knee injury in practice

Golden Tate was planned to address the media for the first time since being benched for last week’s game versus Washington. Instead, the wide receiver was a late scratch after the New York Giants said he suffered a knee injury late in Thursday’s practice.

The original belief is that the injury is not anything potentially season-ending, a source told ESPN. Tate was officially listed as a limited participant in practice.

It has been an eventful campaign for Tate. He missed the season opener with a hamstring injury, fought Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey at midfield in Week 4 and expressed his displeasure with his shrinking role late in a Monday night loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then was suspended for his actions.

Just when he was supposed to return to face one of his former teams, the Philadelphia Eagles, he hurt his knee. The veteran receiver was set to resume his previous role, according to wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. Tate was playing just over 50% of the offensive snaps before being benched.

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He seemed to be participating fully during the portion of Thursday’s practice that was open to the media.

“We’re kind of past that issue now,” coach Joe Judge stated before practice. “We’re getting ready to play Philly right now. Golden’s getting ready to play Philly as well right now.

“I love the way he came to practice [Wednesday]. I love the way he’s preparing so far today. We’re going to be on the field today. We’ll be over in the stadium. It’ll be a good chance for the entire team to work on the turf for a day today and get moving forward with it. But look, we’re totally past the whole situation last week. It is what it is. I look forward to getting Golden on the field with us. We’ll roll him in fast.”

Undrafted rookie Austin Mack took Tate’s snaps in Sunday’s victory over Washington and led the Giants with 72 yards on four receptions.

Tate is a former Pro Bowl receiver with 682 receptions for 8,116 yards and 46 touchdowns in 112 career starts. But last week he was told to stay home Wednesday while the Giants practiced and spent most of the rest of the week working with the scout team.

In Week 8, Tate was caught on camera yelling “Throw me the ball” after a spectacular leaping touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter put the Giants in position to tie the score. His wife, Elise, ranted that night on Instagram about his lack of opportunities, and Tate later liked a tweet that suggested he should be cut and given an opportunity to sign elsewhere.

Sources stated the Giants were open to moving Tate before the trade deadline. But his salary (almost $4.5 million this season), age (32) and deteriorating production (22 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns in seven games) made it unlikely.

The rare times Tate has been called on in recent weeks, he has produced. He had touchdown grabs of 19 and 39 yards despite just five targets combined versus the Buccaneers and Eagles in his past two games.

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New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley finally has surgery on torn ACL

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley underwent surgery Friday in Los Angeles to repair the torn ACL in his right knee.

“Surgery was a success,” Barkley’s mother, Tonya Johnson, wrote in an Instagram post that contained a picture of her son in a hospital bed.

Barkley is expected to make a full recovery and, with almost 11 months to get back to full strength, be ready for the start of next campaign. The surgery took place 40 days after the injury occurred in a Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears.

The procedure Friday was expected to reconstruct the ACL and repair the meniscus in his right knee. Barkley also injured his MCL, but that was not believed to need surgical repair.

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Barkley and the Giants were waiting for the swelling to ease before having the surgery. This isn’t uncommon when there is also some sort of MCL damage. It also provided Barkley an opportunity to strengthen the knee before the operation.

Still, Barkley had to work around Dr. Neal ElAttrache’s busy agenda. ElAttrache, the surgeon and team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Rams, was in the World Series bubble in Arlington, Texas, until earlier this week.

The Dodgers clinched the championship Tuesday night.

Barkley was hurt on Sept. 20 in Chicago. He was running toward the sideline when Bears safety Eddie Jackson tackled him. Barkley grabbed at the knee as he was headed to the ground.

Barkley was helped off the field and later carted to the locker room. He had four rushes for 28 yards before exiting. His season concluded with 19 rushes for 34 yards and no touchdowns.

It was the second consecutive injury-ravaged season for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Barkley played 13 games and just barely topped 1,000 yards rushing last year as he dealt with a pesky high ankle sprain after winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.

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Dak Prescott of Dallas Cowboys had surgery after compound fracture

It was a bittersweet Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys. They found a way to overcome their errors on both sides of the ball to steal a victory from the New York Giants that could’ve easily gone the other way, but they lost Dak Prescott in the process, and not just for a game or two.

Prescott is presumably done for the campaign after suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, following a tackle that pinned his leg between the turf and the falling defender. He was carted off and rushed to the hospital where he was to undergo surgery Sunday evening. 

The procedure is now complete and was a success, the team informed, and Prescott will be released from the hospital at some point on Monday.

And with that, his long and arduous road to recovery initiates, but owner Jerry Jones believes few are as equipped as the two-time Pro Bowler to bounce back from such a devastating injury.

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“We are all heartbroken for Dak and this very disappointing injury,” Jones said in a statement.

“The outpouring of messages that I have received regarding his setback speaks volumes to the respect and admiration that he has earned from his teammates, former Cowboys players and Cowboys supporters everywhere. I know this young man very well. I know the personal hardship and strife that he has faced, dealt with and overcome in his young life. 

This will mark the end of an ironman streak for the former fourth-overall pick who once entered training camp as a rookie as the fourth-string quarterback, but who has since taken the NFL by storm in historic, record-setting fashion.

Prescott logged 69 consecutive starts since entering the league in 2016 — having not missed a single game — and was racking up legendary numbers as he tried to counterbalance a defense that was permitting more than 36 points per game weekly. 

The mantle for 2020 will now pass to Andy Dalton, who was able to finish the rally Prescott started on Sunday versus the Giants, helping the Cowboys move to 2-3 on the season. 

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Giants lose third opt-out player with CB Sam Beal’s decision

The New York Giants took another hit at a position of concern when cornerback Sam Beal decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign.

According to the NFL’s daily transaction wire, linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was also removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list one day after being placed on it.

Beal becomes the third Giants player to take the opt-out route, joining offensive tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver/kick returner D’Mari Scott. Under the agreement reached between the NFL and NFLPA, players had the option of opting out of the upcoming season without penalty by 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The opt out is irreversible. The Giants already had question marks at cornerback prior to Beal’s decision. Cornerback DeAndre Baker is on the commissioner’s exempt list and faces charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm. He is unlikely to play another snap with the Giants.

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Baker was a first-round pick last year. Beal was a third-round supplemental pick out of Central Michigan in 2018 who missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. He played in six games with three starts last season and finished with 25 tackles and one pass defended.

Beal missed the campaign finale with a shoulder injury.

Beal was a third-round supplemental pick out of Central Michigan in 2018 who missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. He played in six games with three starts last season and finished with 25 tackles and one pass defended. He missed the campaign finale with a shoulder injury.

Beal, 23, was expected to be in the mix, along with second-year cornerback Corey Ballentine, for a starting spot opposite offseason acquisition James Bradberry. Rookie fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes also appears to be in serious contention for the job.

Beal’s absence now leaves the Giants with an obvious void and a lack of depth. A source indicated recently — even before Beal’s opt out — that the team was searching for cornerback help on the waiver wire or via free agency.

Among the alternatives on the open market are veterans Logan Ryan, Aqib Talib and Dre Kirkpatrick. New coach Joe Judge has firsthand experience with Ryan and Talib from their time in New England. Ryan appears to be the most likely option, especially since the Giants will gain $13.55 million in salary-cap space from Solder’s decision to sit out the 2020 NFL season.

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