Tagged in: RB

San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert to have season-ending knee surgery

Two days and multiple doctor consultations after leaving the season opener versus the Detroit Lions with a knee injury, San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert’s season is over.

Mostert took to social media on Tuesday to revealed that an injury the Niners hoped would require a minor arthroscopic surgery will instead end his 2021 season. On Monday, the Niners had said he might return in about eight weeks.

“This gives me, without a doubt in my mind, the best possibility at coming back 110%. I have ALWAYS come back stronger and I will this time too! I have faith in myself, my doctors, my support system, my team, and God,” Mostert said in a statement posted on social media, adding he was “gutted” by the decision.

With Mostert done for the season, the 49ers signed running back Kerryon Johnson to their practice squad Tuesday. Johnson joins a running back room that also involves rookies Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon and second-year pro JaMycal Hasty, all of whom are on the active roster.

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Mostert, 29, suffered the injury in Sunday’s 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions. He carried twice for 20 yards on San Francisco’s second possession, but headed to the sideline soon after a 9-yard gain on the second play of the series.

On Monday, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Mostert would miss approximately eight weeks with “chipped cartilage” in a knee that would require arthroscopic surgery.

But Mostert sought multiple opinions to ensure when he does come back, he will be at full strength. Those additional opinions pointed him in the direction of a surgery that will require a longer recovery time.

All of which brings into question whether Mostert has played his final game with the 49ers.

He is in the final season of a three-year, $8.65 million deal he signed in 2019.

He had a breakout end of the 2019 season, bursting onto the scene in the playoffs and rushing for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game versus the Green Bay Packers.

But Mostert was limited to eight games in 2020 as knee and ankle sprains cost him two and six games, respectively. He entered this year as the Niners’ unquestioned top back but the team started planning for the future by selecting Sermon in the third round and Mitchell in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Mitchell stepped in for Mostert after the injury. He figures to get the first crack at the starting job after he set a 49ers franchise record for rushing yards (104 on 19 carries) in a debut. Hasty, who ran for a touchdown against Detroit, is expected to move up to second in the rotation with Sermon third.

The 49ers placed Mostert and cornerback Jason Verrett (torn right ACL) on injured reserve Tuesday, signed veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and promoted cornerback Dontae Johnson from the practice squad to the 53-man roster in corresponding moves. The team currently had 52 players on their 53-man roster.

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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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Baltimore Ravens adding RB Le’Veon Bell to practice squad

The Baltimore Ravens signed three-time Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell to their practice squad Tuesday to help their injury-filled backfield, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bell, 29, will likely soon get elevated to the 53-man roster, the source added.

The addition of Bell comes after the Ravens lost third-string running back Justice Hill to an Achilles injury on Thursday. Baltimore already had lost starting running back J.K. Dobbins when he tore the ACL in his left knee in the preseason finale.

Bell, who worked out for Baltimore on Monday, will provide experience and pass-catching skill behind starter Gus Edwards and backup Ty’Son Williams.

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In 2019, the Ravens had a chance to sign Bell in free agency but chose to add Mark Ingram, who played in Baltimore for two seasons before getting released in January.

After gaining over 1,000 yards rushing in three of his five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell hasn’t been the same playmaker since sitting out the 2018 season. Last season, he totaled 328 yards rushing and two touchdowns with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.

Bell last played for the Kansas City Chiefs after he was let go by the New York Jets.

His role on the Chiefs was pretty much non-existent, and he had been looking for a job for some time.

The Ravens could also sign a young running back who can help on special teams as well, a source said. Bell isn’t the first former Pro Bowl player to get signed to the Ravens’ practice squad. Last year, Baltimore added wide receiver Dez Bryant to its practice team before promoting him to the 53-man roster.

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New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley takes next step in recovery, completes first contact practice

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Kenny Golladay participated in a padded practice Thursday, and Barkley took some contact seemingly without incident for the first time since tearing the ACL in his right knee 11 months ago.

It was the latest step in Barkley’s progression and a mandatory one before he gets into a match, according to coach Joe Judge. The Giants open the campaign Sept. 12 versus the Denver Broncos.

“We did a normal practice safely, and just talked to the guys and [they] gave me some good shots,” Barkley said afterward. “But it’s [about] route running and running routes just to get me back in the flow of things, so I guess you could say yes [I took my first hit].

“But [Thursday] felt good at practice and practicing with everyone on the team. Think that was definitely needed. Just grateful to be out there and just getting ready for the season.”

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Barkley will have to get through another fully padded practice next week before likely getting cleared by doctors.

The Giants don’t practice again until Monday.

Barkley is trending in the right direction and has a strong chance to play Week 1 versus Denver, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. There is optimism, but the Giants have been cautious and still could hold him back. It will ultimately be a team-driven decision.

“This whole process I’ve been a team player listening to the doctors, listening to the coaches, listening to the trainers, knowing that they have my best interest at heart,” Barkley said. “Whatever they feel that is best for me and best for the team, I’m willing to do.”

Barkley was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 9. He worked his way into live drills for the first time last week during joint practices with the New England Patriots while wearing a red no-contact jersey.

On Thursday, he shed the red jersey for the first time in live drills. Did he feel like his old self out on the field?

“I guess. I feel good. Taking it one day at a time,” Barkley said. “I’m just not even trying to think about do I look like my old self. I’m a very confident player. I know whenever I’m able to get back out there — maybe it might be one quarter, maybe it might be one play — whatever the opportunity is, when I’m back out there, I know I’m going to be able to go out there and be who I am and play how I am.

“Right now, I’m not focusing on if I’m making cuts, saying, ‘Is that how it was before?’ I’m focusing on getting in football shape, just living in the moment, enjoying the moment and playing football again.”

There isn’t much time left. The Giants have 10 days and just four practices before their season opener. Only one is expected to be with full pads. Getting through that would help Barkley inch nearer to being ready for Week 1.

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Baltimore Ravens’ J.K. Dobbins having MRI but expectation is RB is out for season

Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins sustained a left knee injury Saturday night, but the expectation is the injury will end his season, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Dobbins was carted off the field after injuring the knee during the opening drive of the Ravens’ 37-3 rout of Washington at FedEx Field. A second-round pick from a year ago, Dobbins was entering his first season as Baltimore’s featured running back.

If Dobbins is out for the season, the Ravens’ top two backs are Gus Edwards and Ty’Son Williams. Edwards is one of the more underrated backups in the league, averaging 5.2 yards per carry over the past three campaigns (third best among running backs).

Williams, who went undrafted out of BYU last year, has impressed the Ravens this summer with his physical running style, rushing for 131 yards on 24 carries this preseason (5.5-yard average).

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The Ravens have confidence in Edwards, who signed a two-year, $10 million extension this offseason and has shown he can be a starting running back when called upon. In 2018, Edwards took over as the Ravens’ No. 1 running back midway through the season and helped lead Baltimore to the playoffs. He averaged 93.4 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns in the final six games that season.

The Ravens have had the NFL’s top-ranked running attack over the past two seasons because of the system that it has installed around quarterback Lamar Jackson, who gained a team-leading 2,211 yards rushing combined in 2019 and 2020. Over that span, three running backs have gained over 800 yards: Edwards, Dobbins and Mark Ingram.

This offseason, the Ravens explored the possibility of adding a veteran running back for depth.

Free agent Todd Gurley II visited the Ravens in June, but he left without a contract. It’s unknown whether Gurley’s knee issues would let him to hold up for a full season.

Dobbins, 22, was primed for a breakout 2021 season. Last year, he averaged 6.0 yards per carry, the second-highest average by a rookie running back over the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Only the New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kamara (6.1) had a higher average as a rookie.

Dobbins’ injury was the latest setback in a rough summer for Baltimore. Because of injuries, Baltimore’s top three wide receivers have missed a chunk of training camp and its projected starting offensive line didn’t practice together for the first time until last week.

Wide receiver Rashod Bateman, a first-round pick, had groin surgery on Aug. 13 and could miss the beginning of the regular season.

Now, the expectation is Dobbins will miss the 2021 season, which is the outcome many of the Ravens’ players were bracing for Saturday night. “That one hurts, bro, because you know how much work he put in [and] the type of guy he is,”

Ravens wide receiver James Proche said after Saturday’s game. “He loves the game. Anytime the game is taken away from you like that, you really feel for him.”

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Los Angeles Rams acquire RB Sony Michel from New England Patriots

The Los Angeles Rams have acquired Sony Michel from the New England Patriots to add some much-needed depth at the running back position.

The Patriots obtained a sixth-round pick in 2022 and a fourth-rounder in 2023 in the deal.

Michel fills an immediate need for the Rams, who will play the season without rising star Cam Akers after he tore his right Achilles tendon while working out before training camp.

In Akers’ absence, Darrell Henderson Jr. has taken over as starter, but the Rams lack depth behind the third-year pro.

“We identified Sony for many reasons,” Rams general manager Les Snead said Wednesday. “Number one, being his experience, and experience meaning like a player who has carried the ball in big games and in those big games, where there have been big moments, big drives, big series.”

Second-year pro Xavier Jones, an undrafted free agent in 2020, and rookie seventh-round pick Jake Funk have competed throughout the preseason with the hope of proving they could fill the position.

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At the outset of training camp, coach Sean McVay stated the Rams would give their young backs ample opportunity to compete for the job but left open the possibility that the team could look for outside help when the season opener approached.

Asked this week whether Jones and Funk had proved through two preseason games that they could be ready for Week 1 versus the Chicago Bears on Sept. 12, McVay said the Rams were in the process of figuring that out.

“We got a little bit of time,” McVay said. “Darrell is a guy that’s been established and done some good things. But I was pleased with both those guys.”

Henderson suffered a mild thumb sprain in practice Monday but returned to practice Tuesday with a cast or brace protecting his left hand.

A fourth-year pro, Michel has rushed for 2,292 yards and 14 touchdowns in 28 starts for the Patriots, who drafted him in the first round with the 31st pick in 2018.

“What he does bring is this element of make a cut, get north and south and get north and south with some force,” Snead said. “The physics that he brings to the table — let’s call it a flavor or genre that we felt like complemented our group.”

In a 13-3 triumph over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, Michel rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

Michel is due to earn a base salary of $1.79 million in the final year of his contract in 2021 after the Patriots previously elected not to exercise his fifth-year option for 2022. He had drawn rave reviews from Patriots running back coach Ivan Fears this preseason, with Fears saying he had “upped his total game.”

Last season, Michel missed six games when he was placed on injured reserve after Week 3 because of a quadriceps injury. In nine games he rushed for 449 yards and a touchdown on 79 carries. In a 24-3 loss to the Rams, Michel rushed for 22 yards on seven carries.

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Cleveland Browns reach 3-year, $36.6 million deal with star RB Nick Chubb

The Cleveland Browns and star running back Nick Chubb have reached an agreement on a three-year, $36.6 million contract extension, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

Chubb’s $20 million in guaranteed money is the seventh-highest total in the league among running backs. He will be a free agent again at age 29.

Chubb has been the backbone of the Cleveland offense the past two seasons, averaging 5.25 yards per carry during that span. In 2019, he came within 47 yards of besting Derrick Henry for the rushing title.

Last season, Chubb missed four games because of a knee injury, but he still concluded seventh in the league with 1,070 rushing yards.

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Proving to be one of the top closers in the league, Chubb led the NFL with an average of more than 10 yards per carry in the fourth quarter of games last campaign.

During Cleveland’s first playoff triumph in 26 years, Chubb delivered one of the game’s decisive plays, taking a screen pass 40 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, propelling the Browns to the 48-37 win in Pittsburgh.

Chubb, whom Cleveland selected out of Georgia in the second round of 2018 NFL draft, was entering the final season of his rookie deal.

“I think you all know the affinity that we have for him both as a player and as a person,” general manager Andrew Berry said when asked in the offseason about a potential Chubb extension.

“He has modeled that over the first three years of his career here. I think that is something that we certainly see every day and that you all can see externally.”

Last summer, the Browns extended Chubb’s backfield sidekick, Kareem Hunt, to a two-year extension worth $13.25 million, keeping Hunt under contract in Cleveland through the 2022 season.

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New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley ‘doing well’ in ACL rehab, unsure of status for start of season

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley says he is “doing well” in his rehab from a torn ACL, but won’t put a timetable on his return or provide any public assurance that he will be back for the beginning of the new season.

The Giants open the regular season versus the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12, some 11 months after the major surgery on Barkley’s right knee. He also had MCL and meniscus damage.

“You know me. I’m going to take it one day at a time. Just come in with my head down and ready to work,” Barkley said Wednesday after spending the second day of mandatory minicamp inside the team facility while most of his Giants teammates practiced.

“It’s going to be whenever my body tells me I’m ready or I’m able to show everyone I’m ready again. That’s when I’m going to be able to go out there and hopefully be elite, what I was before but even better.”

This is the approach Barkley and the Giants are taking. They aren’t going to set any potentially unrealistic expectations for his return, thus putting any unnecessary pressure on him to get back on the field.

The tight-lipped Barkley wouldn’t even go into detail about where he is in the rehab process, although sources have told ESPN recently that there have been no significant setbacks and that he has progressed to jump-cutting. “Looks good,” one of the sources said.

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Barkley was also positive about the progress he’s making, even if he was unwilling to publicly provide the full details.

“I just expect to come in every single day and work hard, work my butt off, listen to the coaches, listen to the trainers, listen to the doctors,” he said. “I’m going to take it one day at a time. Whenever I’m able to, I guess you can say, go out there and participate with the team again, I’ll be ready.

“I’m doing well. I’m doing pretty well. Just taking one day at a time. Just listening to the trainers from [senior vice president of medical services] Ronnie [Barnes] to [director of rehabilitation] Leigh [Weiss] to all the way down and still being in conversations with [surgeon] Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache and [head team physician] Dr. [Scott] Rodeo. Just listening to them and taking it one day at a time.”

It has become clear in recent weeks that the Giants are going to take it slowly with the Pro Bowl running back. They are looking at this situation with a long-range view that prioritizes his well-being and future over the short-term gain of being ready for training camp or the start of the campaign.

Barkley is not expected to be full-go for the start of training camp, a source told ESPN last month. They aren’t going to put him on the field in live situations until he’s 100%. It’s entirely possible that might not be until October.

Barkley seems to be on board with the plan, although he admitted it’s difficult to be patient.

So for now and likely most of this summer, he will just have to envision how he fits into the offense alongside newcomers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph and several others.

Free-agent acquisition Devontae Booker is filling Barkley’s role in the meantime.

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Cincinnati Bengals release RB Giovani Bernard after eight seasons

The Cincinnati Bengals have released veteran running back Giovani Bernard, the team revealed on Wednesday.

Bernard, 29, has played all of his eight NFL seasons with the franchise that drafted him in the second round in 2013. He has appeared in 115 matches and rushed for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also had 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The former North Carolina player was entering the final year of a two-year extension he signed in September of 2019. The Bengals will gain $4.1 million in salary-cap savings with Bernard’s release and incur only $666,667 in dead money versus the cap, according to Roster Management System.

Bernard started a career-high 10 games in 2020 because Joe Mixon was out with a foot injury. His best rushing performance was an 83-yard effort in a win over Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, the Bengals’ first triumph over the Steelers since 2015. It was Bernard’s highest rushing total since Week 16 of the 2017 season.

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The Bengals have parted ways with several notable veterans who were part of the team’s playoff runs from 2011 to 2015.

The team released former All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins earlier this offseason and did not re-sign former Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.

With his ability in the passing game and reliability as a runner in a committee, Bernard shouldn’t have difficulty landing a new gig. A club looking for a third-down back could find a bargain in the 29-year-old Bernard, who still has tread left on the tires.

Bernard is also one of the best pass-protecting backs in the entire NFL, a trait that many teams covet in their backup RBs. Cutting Bernard now makes running back depth a need for the Bengals. Joe Mixon remains one of the top-flight backs in the NFL, with game-breaking ability. 

Samaje Perine impressed coaches for stretches last season and should climb the depth chart. A pass-catching back is now a need for the Bengals, which could look to the draft to fill the new void.

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