Tagged in: NFL

Baltimore Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley to have season-ending ankle surgery

Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley will undergo season-ending surgery on his left ankle for the second consecutive season.

Stanley, 27, announced he will be out for the remainder of the season after the Ravens placed him on injured reserve. He will undergo surgery Tuesday, according to a source.

“At this point in time, my ankle isn’t where it should be,” Stanley said in a statement. “This is the best decision not only for my health, but also for the team long-term. I look forward to supporting my team from the sideline this season and coming back fully healthy in 2022.”

This is the latest blow for Baltimore, which now has an NFL-leading 17 players on injured reserve. The Ravens had hoped Stanley would return fully healthy this season, which is why they traded Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs before the draft.

Alejandro Villanueva, a six-year starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will continue to start at left tackle and protect Lamar Jackson’s blind side for Baltimore, which has the AFC’s best record at 5-1.

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In another roster move, the Ravens promoted running back Le’Veon Bell from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Baltimore had elevated him twice, so it couldn’t elevate him again without adding him to the active roster.

Bell joins Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Ty’Son Williams as running backs on the Ravens’ active roster. In two matches, Bell has run 12 times for 29 yards and one touchdown.

Stanley, a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowl player in 2019, first injured his ankle two days after signing a five-year, $98.75 million extension. Last season, he missed the final 10 games after breaking his left ankle Nov. 1 versus the Steelers.

Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. Watt inadvertently rolled into the back of Stanley’s lower left leg while trying to sack Jackson.

The NFL’s second-highest-paid offensive tackle, Stanley underwent two surgeries on his ankle before this season. After being sidelined for the entire offseason and for the first nine days of training camp, he returned to play in the season opener in Las Vegas but visibly struggled.

He hadn’t played since. Stanley represents the third-biggest cap hit on the Ravens at $10 million.

The No. 6 pick of the 2016 draft, Stanley has been Baltimore’s best left tackle since Hall of Fame lineman Jonathan Ogden.

“This is not what I wanted or expected when coming into the season,” Stanley said. “Throughout the last year, I did everything I could to be 100% healthy so I could be out there playing for our team and city.”

In addition to Stanley, Baltimore’s other significant season-ending injuries are to cornerback Marcus Peters, running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill and linebacker L.J. Fort. They totaled 2,872 snaps in 2020.

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Jacksonville Jaguars end 20-game losing streak with last-second field goal

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ 20-game losing streak has ended.

A 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday snapped the Jaguars’ skid, which was the second longest in NFL history.

It was the first time the team has won in 399 days, dating back to beating the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 season opener.

The Jaguars won on Matthew Wright’s 53-yard field goal as time expired, which was set up by a bit of a sneaky play on fourth-and-8. The Jaguars gave a look like they were going to throw a Hail Mary, but quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed a quick 9-yard pass to Laviska Shenault and a quick timeout set up Wright’s third field goal of the game.

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The Jaguars hadn’t made a field goal in the first five weeks of the season, but Wright made all three of his attempts Sunday.

The Jaguars have made all 15 field goal attempts they have tried in their eight matches in London.

Lawrence threw for 319 yards and one touchdown, Marvin Jones caught seven passes for 100 yards and one touchdown, and defensive end Josh Allen made a critical stop on a fourth-and-1 run that set up the Jaguars with the ball on the Miami 46-yard line for their final possession.

Lawrence is the first rookie quarterback to win a game in London; rookie QBs were 0-5 in London entering Sunday. His 319 passing yards are also the most by a rookie quarterback in London, beating the previous mark of 309 by former Jaguar Gardner Minshew in 2019.

The Jaguars won the 2020 season opener but lost their next 15 to close out the season — which ensured they would have the top pick in the draft, which they used on Lawrence — and then started this season 0-5.

That stretch of 20 consecutive losses was the second-longest losing streak in NFL history behind only the 26-game streak by the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers, however, were an expansion team in 1976.

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Lions C Frank Ragnow has season-ending toe injury

The Detroit Lions continue to suffer a rash of injuries, with Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow now set to undergo season-ending toe surgery, a source confirmed to ESPN.

NFL Network was first to report that Ragnow met with Dr. Robert Anderson to get confirmation on the best course of action to treat the injury.

Ragnow was already on the injured reserve list for what Lions coach Dan Campbell described as a “version of turf toe.”

He suffered the injury during the first half of Detroit’s Week 4 loss at Chicago. The team also lost outside linebacker Romeo Okwara to a season-ending Achilles injury in that same match.

Ragnow earned his first Pro Bowl berth last campaign and became the NFL’s highest-paid center this offseason.

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The winless Lions have suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses on last-second field goals while being hit with an onslaught of injuries. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus (collarbone), wide receiver Tyrell Williams (concussion) and cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) and Jeff Okudah (Achilles) among others, are all on the injured reserve list.

The Lions (0-5) host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) on Sunday.

Ragnow’s injury is one of many ailments that have taken some of the team’s top players off the active roster.

The team placed receiver Quintez Cephus on the injured list Tuesday and added receiver Javon McKinley to the practice squad to replace tight end Jared Pinkney.

Cephus, who broke his collarbone after making a catch versus the Vikings, leads the team with 13.6 yards per catch and is its only wide receiver averaging 40 yards receiving per game.

Ragnow and Cephus joined a long list of hurt players. Linebacker Romeo Okwara had a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah, left tackle Taylor Decker, rookie defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu and wide receiver Tyrell Williams are on injured reserve with a total of 13 players.

Decker is eligible to return and coach Dan Campbell stated the veteran will probably rejoin the starting offense at left tackle with rookie Penei Sewell shifting back to the right side.

In May, the Lions signed Ragnow to a $54 million, four-year extension that keeps him under contract for a total of $70 million through the 2026 season. He earned second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition last year.

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Roethlisberger throws 2 TDs, Steelers top Broncos 27-19

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers silenced the noise. At least for a week.

Funny how having something resembling a running game for the first time in a long time will do that.

Riding an offensive balance nonexistent for most of the last two years, the Steelers held off Denver 27-19 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.

Rookie Najee Harris ran for a career-best 122 yards and a touchdown for Pittsburgh (2-3) before a cramping issue in his calves forced him to stand on the sideline while a late rally by Denver fell short.

The Broncos (3-2) trailed by 18 in the fourth quarter before a pair of Teddy Bridgewater touchdown passes brought them within striking distance.

Bridgewater’s fourth-down heave to the end zone with 11 seconds left was intercepted by James Pierre, permitting the Steelers to exhale. For a minute anyway.

Asked if the triumph will quiet withering criticism he’s endured over the last month, Roethlisberger just smiled.

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“Probably not,” he said. “But we won the game, and that’s all that matters.”

And won in a way they’re probably going to need to keep pace in the highly competitive AFC North. With Harris churning through holes that didn’t exist over the first four games, the Steelers didn’t have to rely exclusively on their 39-year-old quarterback to make something happen.

That was kind of the plan all along and got lost amid a difficult first month. The Steelers dropped three of four behind a retooled offensive line that at times looked overmatched.

Not so much versus the Broncos.

The Steelers gave up one sack and kept Denver outside linebacker Von Miller in check while running the ball 35 times and passing just 25, the kind of ratio Roethlisberger is more than happy to live with.

Several times Roethlisberger lined up in the shotgun with the option to run or pass, saw coverage that indicated he should probably throw it and opted to hand it off to Harris anyway because the 22-year-old runner and the five linemen in front of him had it going.

“Why take it out of his hand when you’re grinding it, you’re getting it?” Roethlisberger stated. “It was kind of fun to watch him excel and take over.”

Yet cramps forced out Harris in the middle of the fourth quarter. Bridgewater, who spent the bulk of the week in the NFL’s concussion protocol before returning to practice Friday, nearly drew the Broncos even.

Bridgewater completed 24 of 38 passes for 288 yards with a pair of scores: a 2-yard dart to Kendall Hinton and a 39-yard rainbow to Courtland Sutton with 5:46 to go that drew Denver within 24-19.

Bridgwater then drove Denver to the Pittsburgh 3 in the final seconds before Pierre’s first career interception ended the threat.

“We can’t wait until the game is out of hand to have a sense of urgency,” Bridgewater said.

The loss made Denver’s perfect September look more like a mirage. The Broncos piled up wins against the Giants, Jaguars and Jets last month. Tested by Baltimore and Pittsburgh in back-to-back weeks, the Broncos came up short.

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New England Patriots trade CB Stephon Gilmore to Carolina Panthers for draft pick

A trade for New England Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the return of Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey helped the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday get over their first loss of the campaign.

Both happened almost simultaneously as players made their way to the practice field.

The Gilmore trade in particular brightened the mood.

“That’s pretty dope, man,” cornerback Donte Jackson said.

Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England for Gilmore, who had been set to be released later in the day. The 31-year-old from nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, is expected to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6.

Fitterer stated he expects Gilmore, who is arranged to be in Charlotte for a physical on Thursday, to be ready for an Oct. 24 game versus the New York Giants

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McCaffrey could be available to play on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after missing a 36-28 loss at Dallas with a hamstring injury.

Coach Matt Rhule said his star back looked good in practice Wednesday despite being limited and likely would be a game-time decision.

The Panthers got wind that Gilmore might be available on Tuesday night. That turned to reality on Wednesday morning when it was announced the Patriots planned to release the four-time Pro Bowl corner, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a partially torn quad.

Gilmore became available because the Patriots were unable to get the corner to agree to a restructured deal. The Panthers beat out several other teams that showed interest in trading for Gilmore.

They will be responsible for $5.8 million of Gilmore’s 2021 contract. Fitterer said Gilmore agreed to play the remainder of the season without an extension, but he’s open to one after the year.

Much depends on how Gilmore plays. Coach Matt Rhule said he can’t wait to get Gilmore on the field.

“I think anytime you can get a [former] All-Pro player for a future sixth, we’re going to do it, right?” he said. “… This was just one of those things where it was too good to pass up. He’s too good of a player and he’s from here. Football character-wise, he just adds to the core of what we are.”

The need for a cover corner stated when Carolina lost first-round pick Jaycee Horn to a broken foot in a Sept. 23 win at Houston. Fitterer traded last week for Jacksonville’s C.J. Henderson, a first-round pick in 2020.

Henderson remains somewhat of a project.

“C.J. is for the future,” Fitterer said. “Stephon is to win now.”

Fitterer also didn’t rule out that Horn could return late in the season or possibly the playoffs, if Carolina qualifies, after undergoing surgery. But he made it clear the goal is to make the playoffs.

Gilmore gives the Panthers a veteran who can have a positive impact on a young secondary until then and one who can be an asset if Carolina makes the playoffs.

He also happens to live three doors down from Fitterer in a neighborhood south of Charlotte. Fitterer called Gilmore a “quality guy” who will be a “great presence for the younger guys.”

Gilmore and Patriots coach Bill Belichick had both offered public goodbyes before the announced trade.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold faced Gilmore twice when he was with the New York Jets, so he’s glad he won’t have to face Gilmore when the Patriots come to town. Gilmore had two interceptions against him.

“Dang good player,” Darnold said. “I had two of my toughest games against him.”

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Atlanta Falcons starting nickel corner Isaiah Oliver out for season with knee injury

Atlanta Falcons starting nickel corner Isaiah Oliver is done for the season and will need surgery, a source told ESPN, after he was carted off the field with a knee injury Sunday versus the Washington Football Team.

The team placed Oliver on injured reserve Tuesday. Oliver, a second-round pick in 2018 out of Colorado, had become one of Atlanta’s top defensive players after moving from outside corner to the slot full-time this year.

He allowed 53.3% of passes thrown at him to be completed, according to Pro Football Reference, and recorded nine tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups.

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The Falcons coaches had been happy with the way Oliver had been playing, and his versatility, praising him in multiple press briefings over the past month.

Now, the team will likely turn to rookie Avery Williams, who was taken in the fifth round out of Boise State, to replace Oliver in the lineup.

Atlanta also placed punter Cam Nizialek on injured reserve after he suffered a right hamstring injury Sunday. The Falcons promoted punter Dustin Colquitt, a two-time Pro Bowler, from the practice squad along with defensive lineman Mike Pennel to take the places of Nizialek and Oliver on the 53-man roster.

The Falcons also signed kicker Elliott Fry and safety Shawn Williams, who has started 60 matches in the NFL, to the practice squad. The Falcons have options when it comes to filling Oliver’s role. But when someone is coming into his own the way Oliver was, it hurts to see the contingency plan enacted.

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Detroit Lions release veteran LB Jamie Collins after exploring trade

After attempting to trade linebacker Jamie Collins, the Detroit Lions revealed Tuesday that he has been released.

Collins, a nine-year veteran, stopped reporting to practice ahead of Week 3 as the Lions explored options for his future. Coach Dan Campbell stated last week that he met with Collins to communicate the team’s plans to seek a trade, but the Lions ultimately couldn’t reach a deal for him.

Collins can sign with another team immediately. He is making a fully guaranteed $8.8 million from Detroit this year ($5 million bonus, $3.8 million salary).

A one-time Pro Bowler, Collins racked up 10 total tackles, with one for a loss, and a fumble recovery in back-to-back defeats to San Francisco and Green Bay this season.

Campbell stated last week that he felt it was “time for a reduced role” for Collins and decided to play the younger members of the roster.

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“We’ve been through two games now and you make your assessment and your judgement after two games and that’s where we’re at,” Campbell said of Collins last Thursday.

“There again, we felt like it was, if you’re going to grow and you’re going to try to get better as a team, as a unit, everything, you better do it now.

“There again, I think this is best for Jamie as well. He gets a chance to go somewhere and do what he does and we’re just in a different place.”

The Lions have turned to rookie Derrick Barnes to fill the role vacated by Collins. Barnes made his first start of the season Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens, and made four stops while playing about half the team’s defensive snaps.

Collins made 101 tackles for the Lions in 2020 under former Lions coach Matt Patricia, for whom Collins played in New England. But he had struggled this season, particularly in a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers that spurred Campbell to suggest a move could be in the works.

It proved to be Collins’ last game in Detroit, as he was not at the Lions practice facility Thursday and was designated inactive Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens.

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Chicago Bears QB Andy Dalton could miss additional time because of knee injury

Justin Fields made his first NFL start Sunday for the Chicago Bears, and there is an opportunity the rookie quarterback could get the starting nod for another game or two.

Bears quarterback Andy Dalton, who was out Sunday with a bone bruise on his left knee, could miss an additional week or two depending on how quickly he recovers, league sources told ESPN.

Dalton has a bone bruise from his femur and tibia colliding, according to a source. Dalton did not suffer damage to any cartilage or ligaments and does not need surgery, but his return will be determined by how quickly the bone bruise heals.

The Bears have not placed Dalton on injured reserve, which would mandate that the 11-year veteran miss at least three matches. There is hope within the organization that Dalton will return sooner than that three-week threshold.

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Bears coach Matt Nagy stated this past week that Dalton would remain Chicago’s starter when healthy.

The franchise entered the season planning to stick with Dalton as long as possible, allowing Fields time to grow during his rookie year.

Fields, who Chicago selected with the No. 11 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, stated Wednesday that he is ready to start Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns, emphasizing that he has been “preparing for this moment for a long time.”

Dalton, who turns 34 next month, suffered the knee injury last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals after landing awkwardly on the Chicago sideline following a scramble.

His left knee appeared to buckle, and the three-time Pro Bowler immediately pointed to Fields to enter the game. Fields went 6-for-13 passing for 60 yards with an interception and rushed 10 times for 31 yards versus the Bengals. He threw two passes, both completions, in a Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

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Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey injures hamstring, ruled out for game

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter of Thursday night’s match at Houston.

The injury occurred when McCaffrey was making a run to the left on first-and-10 from the Texans’ 14-yard line. He did what appeared to be a stutter step to avoid the defender and went immediately to the sideline after a 2-yard gain.

McCaffrey stayed in the sideline medical tent for 22 minutes before emerging and heading to the locker room. He walked under his own power with a slight limp.

McCaffrey was replaced by Chuba Hubbard, a 2021 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State.

McCaffrey, who in 2019 became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, entered the game as the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage with 324 yards.

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McCaffrey missed 13 games last campaign with multiple injuries, including a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 2.

He returned this season looking stronger than ever.

He left late in the third quarter of last week’s victory against the New Orleans Saints to get a couple of IV bags for what he called “onset cramps.” He said earlier this week he was good go to.

On Thursday night, Carolina’s offense struggled after McCaffrey’s departure and went into halftime with only a 7-6 lead. Quarterback Sam Darnold, who completed 9 of 13 pass attempts for 121 yards with no sacks before McCaffrey’s injury, finished the half 4-of-7 for 37 yards with three sacks.

McCaffrey’s value as a blocker often gets overlooked. In the Panthers’ opener, he saved Darnold from a sack by picking up the New York Jets’ tackle running free. The block allowed Darnold time to step up and to his left to throw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson.

“That play doesn’t happen [without McCaffrey],” coach Matt Rhule said after the 19-14 victory.

Tight end Dan Arnold said McCaffrey helps open up all the possibilities of offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s offense.

“We kind of stopped as a tight end group [in film review] and said, ‘This is the kind of player he is,'” Arnold said after seeing the replay of McCaffrey’s block.

“It’s exciting to be able to play with a guy like that, that will step in front of it no matter what. He wants to win, not only for himself, but everybody else. “On the flip side, that’s what he demands from everybody else.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Antonio Brown tests positive for COVID-19

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed wide receiver Antonio Brown on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team revealed Wednesday.

Brown has tested positive for the virus, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Brown is the third player, along with inside linebacker/special teams captain Kevin Minter and practice squad wide receiver Travis Jonsen, to be placed on the list this week.

“Kevin and A.B. are both on the COVID list. With A.B., we’ve got plenty of guys with a proven track record at that position,” Arians stated, pointing to their depth at wide receiver with Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson.

“Kevin will be missed as far as special teams, but we’ve got some young guys ready to roll.” Arians said Minter and Brown technically still have an opportunity to play Sunday, but the team is preparing as if they won’t be available.

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Brown, like every one of his teammates and all members of the Bucs’ coaching staff, is fully vaccinated, and per NFL rules, needs two negative tests 24 hours apart to return, as long as he is asymptomatic.

Players who are vaccinated are not subject to the mandatory 10-day quarantine as unvaccinated players.

Brown’s 138 receiving yards through two matches is second-most on the team this season, and he’s arguably the Bucs’ most versatile route runner — he can go deep but also is extremely productive using his suddenness inside.

Last year’s team moniker was “beat the virus,” and Arians has largely attributed losing only four starters to COVID-19 — for a total of six games — with winning the Super Bowl.

The Bucs hit the road this week for one of the more challenging parts of their schedule. They take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and then next week, they’ll travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts, to take on the New England Patriots.

The Bucs lost to the Rams 27-24 last season, with the Rams limiting the Bucs to just 209 passing yards, among the lowest of their season.

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