Tagged in: Rookie

Denver Broncos’ Albert Okwuegbunam heading to IR with torn ACL

Another talented Bronco has been lost for the year.

Rookie tight Albert Okwuegbunam suffered an ACL injury versus the Falcons on Sunday and will miss the rest of the campaign, Head Coach Vic Fangio announced Monday.

“Albert did get an ACL injury and he will miss the rest of the season,” Fangio said. “The fortunate thing of it is it’s just the ACL and the ACL only. Many times when you get an ACL, it involves some other ligaments. His rehab and repair should go clean and he should be back as good as new next season.”

Okwuegbunam suffered the injury while making a 7-yard catch on a third-and-6 in the third quarter. He quickly grabbed his knee and was attended to by trainers. Okwuegbunam went back to the locker room and was ruled out of the game shortly after suffering the injury.

Okwuegbunam joins wide receiver Courtland Sutton, outside linebacker Von Miller, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and nose tackle Mike Purcell among those who have suffered season-ending injuries. The Broncos have placed a slew of other players on IR with shorter-term injuries.

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“It’s hard to pinpoint any one or two things as to why it’s happened,” Fangio said of the injuries. “Obviously you look at it thoroughly. Is it the training? The guys didn’t train here all offseason and we didn’t see them until training camp. Was that part of it? I don’t know. The shortened preseason? No preseason games? I don’t know. I think in each and every case, it’s something different. I don’t think you’re able to pinpoint one or two things right now.”

Okwuegbunam totaled 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in his four matches this season.

Six of his catches went for first downs, and he played a pivotal role in the Broncos’ comeback versus the Chargers. In the fourth quarter, Okwuegbunam caught a touchdown pass and drew a pair of pass-interference calls on the team’s final drive.

Noah Fant and Nick Vannett are the Broncos’ only tight ends who stays on the active roster. Fant suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, but he returned to the game. Fangio said he was optimistic that Fant and right tackle Demar Dotson would be able to play in Week 10 versus the Raiders but that it’s “too early to tell.” Dotson (groin) did not return to the game after halftime.

Fangio said he’s hopeful that both Bryce Callahan (ankle) and A.J. Bouye (concussion) will return to practice after missing Sunday’s game.

The Broncos may also receive reinforcements from their Reserve/COVID-19 list, as Fangio believes both Shelby Harris and Graham Glasgow should return to practice on Wednesday.

“That’s the plan,” Fangio said of Glasgow. “He started training here yesterday, which is part of the protocol. They have to go through, I think it’s a three-day training acclimation period before they’re allowed to go back to the full football activities with the team. He started that yesterday, and I think we’re hopeful that Wednesday he’ll be back out there.”

Glasgow has missed the team’s last two games, while Harris was held out of the Broncos’ Week 9 loss to the Falcons.

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Tampa Bay Rays take game 2 to even the series one game apiece

Through all the struggles, all the moments when it looked like he should be dropped down in the lineup or out of it altogether, Brandon Lowe believed.

He had built himself into one of the American League’s best hitters, and no slump, not even one during the playoffs, could derail that. The Tampa Bay Rays kept believing in Lowe, too. And in Game 2 of the World Series, both were rewarded handsomely for their faith.

Lowe became the first player ever to hit two opposite-field home runs in one World Series match, and the Rays’ bullpen bent but didn’t break as they held on for a 6-4 triumph Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece.

The 26-year-old Lowe, an All-Star two years ago as a rookie and a down-ballot MVP candidate this year, had endured a brutal postseason: 6-for-56 with 19 strikeouts and not one multi-hit game among the 15 the Rays had played. And yet Tampa Bay never wavered — he sat only one game and pinch hit in it — confident that Lowe would find his swing.

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Lowe, hitting in the No. 2 hole, punished a 95 mph fastball from rookie starter Tony Gonsolin out to left field, giving the Rays an early advantage. He piled on with a two-run shot off rookie Dustin May in the fifth inning, pushing the Rays’ advantage to 5-0.

In the meantime, Rays starter Blake Snell hadn’t permitted a hit, striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings.

Following the fourth, Snell bounded off the mound, shouting into the expanse of Globe Life Field, to no one and everyone among the crowd of 11,472. He looked like his Cy Young-winning self, his fastball, curve ball and slider confounding a group of Dodgers hitters who in Game 1 piled up eight runs through power, patience and proficiency wielding the bat.

Lowe’s multi-homer game was the 55th in World Series history, the seventh by a second baseman and the first by a Rays player. And it continued Tampa Bay’s trend of needing home runs to score. They set a record with 28 home runs this postseason, and entering the World Series, nearly 72% of their runs had come via the longball.

The return of the Lowe who helped lead the Rays to the AL East title was a welcome sign for a Tampa Bay team whose offensive struggles were of paramount concern — particularly with the prospect of falling down 0-2 to the Dodgers. Lowe had hit .269/.362/.554 with 14 home runs in 56 games during the regular season and ranked just behind Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr. in wins above replacement.

Now, after a Thursday off-day, the teams return for Game 3 with the best pitching matchup of the series: Dodgers ace Walker Buehler versus Rays stalwart Charlie Morton.

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Packers rookie tight end Josiah Deguara has season ending knee injury

The surging Green Bay Packers lost another offensive weapon to injury, as rookie tight end Josiah Deguara suffered a season-ending knee injury in Monday night’s triumph over the Atlanta Falcons.

A source told ESPN that Deguara, a third-round draft pick, suffered a torn ACL.

“Unfortunately it looks to be a pretty bad one,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said without revealing details of the diagnosis. “I hurt for Josiah. I love what he’s all about — the mentality he brings, and he’s certainly somebody we were really excited about.”

Deguara appeared to injury his left knee while blocking on the punt team late in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 30-16 triumph at Lambeau Field.

The Packers had big plans for Deguara, who was seemingly tailor-made for LaFleur’s offense that moves tight ends around within a variety of formations.

He played 24 snaps in the Week 1 win over the Vikings and caught one pass for 12 yards.

But his best play was perhaps a block in which he took out two defenders on an end around by receiver Allen Lazard that gained 19 yards. He missed the next two games due to an ankle injury but returned in Week 4 versus the Falcons.

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“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster because in terms of I thought he had a great game vs. Minnesota in Week 1, and then he goes out with an ankle injury,” LaFleur stated. “It’s been tough. But we expect him to bounce back from it and, you know, we still think he has a really bright future in this league.

The Packers played Monday without their top two receivers, Davante Adams (hamstring) and Lazard (core muscle injury), and also were missing veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee).

The Packers held out Adams, who wanted to play so badly that he tweeted (and then deleted the tweet) that the team was holding him out even though he felt he was ready to play.

LaFleur stated Tuesday that he did not tell Adams to take down his tweet. “I can understand why he’s frustrated,” LaFleur said.

“He’s a competitor, wants to be out there with his brothers, and any time you don’t get a chance to go out there it’s disappointing. He’s worked his tail off ever since this thing occurred, and it’s just one of those deals where the long term, potential long-term effects, you just got to take that into consideration. And we know that in order for us to be at our best he needs to be a part of those long-term plans.”

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Manager Aaron Boone will turn to rookie Deivi Garcia to start Game 2 for New York Yankees

By taking the mound in Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series versus the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, rookie Deivi Garcia will make history.

The 21-year-old Dominican-born pitcher will become the youngest player to make a postseason start in New York Yankees franchise history (at 21 years and 140 days).

Despite only six major league starts under his belt, manager Aaron Boone said he opted to go with Garcia due to the maturity he has displayed this campaign.

According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, the only other 21-year-old to make a postseason start for the Yankees was Whitey Ford in Game 4 of the 1950 World Series (21 years, 351 days).

“We deliberated on that a lot over the last several days,” Boone stated Monday ahead of Game 1 of the ALDS at Petco Park in San Diego.

“Masa [Masahiro Tanaka] will now go in Game 3. So just like slot and Deivi in between [Game 1 starter Gerrit] Cole and Masa was the way we wanted to go.

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“I think the way he’s pitched, and the way he’s handled himself and handled every situation so far. I felt like I wanted to go this way a couple days ago but wanted to continue to flesh it out because we could. Ultimately today, this morning, decided this is the way I wanted to go. I just felt [we had] a lot of good options there, [different] ways we could have gone. I don’t worry about him not being able to handle it, mentally, emotionally and all those things and I know he’s looking forward to it.”

The rookie right-hander concurred.

“Super excited,” Garcia said of his reaction upon hearing the news from Boone. “When they finally told me that I was going to get the ball for Game 2, what can I say? Just so excited about it. At the same time, very thankful for the opportunity and I will try to go out there and do the best I can.”

Tuesday’s start will also make Garcia the fifth-youngest player in American League history to make a postseason start, and the youngest player born outside the United States to make a playoff start in the AL.

Overall, only Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers Julio Urías (20 years, 68 days) and Fernando Valenzuela (five times) were younger in making a postseason start among players born outside the U.S. Garcia, who stated he idolized Hall of Fame starter Pedro Martínez growing up in the Dominican Republic, reiterated that it was an honor to make pinstripes history.

Including a subpar outing at Fenway Park, Garcia finished the coronavirus-shortened 2020 regular campaign with a 4.98 ERA in 34⅓ innings pitched.

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Green Bay Packers WR Allen Lazard out indefinitely after core muscle surgery

Allen Lazard, who caught six passes for 146 yards and a score in the Packers’ Week 3 victory over the Saints, is out indefinitely after undergoing core muscle surgery this week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Green Bay, without Lazard, will look to keep its unbeaten start intact Monday night versus the winless Falcons.  A former undrafted rookie out of Iowa State, the 6-foot-5, 227-pound Lazard signed with the Packers in December of 2018 after spending most of his rookie season on the Jaguars’ practice squad.

After catching just one pass that campaign, Lazard caught 35 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns last season. Lazard is now the Packers’ leading receiver, with 254 yards and two touchdowns on 13 receptions.

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Lazard’s 19.5 yards per catch this season is over four yards over his career average. 

With Lazard out, that will lead to more playing time for Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Darrius Shepherd and Malik Taylor. Valdes-Scantling has caught eight passes for 165 yards and a score through three games, while Shepherd and Taylor have yet to catch a pass. 

The Packers did receive some positive news on Thursday when receiver Davante Adams, who missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury, was a limited participant during practice. Adams is hoping that his hamstring will let him to face the Falcons on Monday night. 

Regardless, it appears that the Packers’ offense may rely more on running back Aaron Jones, who has rushed for 303 yards and four touchdowns. He has also caught 10 passes for 95 yards and a score through three games.

The Packers signed two receivers to the practice this week, adding Caleb Scott and Juwann Winfree. The team also has Reggie Begelton and Robert Foster on the practice squad.

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Dustin Johnson wins FedEx Cup

Dustin Johnson only looks like he plays without a pulse. Beneath his stoic stare and that swagger as he walked the fairways of East Lake on Monday were jangled nerves because it meant so much to him.

The $15 million prize for winning the FedEx Cup? That would get anyone’s attention, especially someone who thought he was rich when Johnson cashed his first tournament check for $113,571 as a PGA Tour rookie.

But there was more.

“The prestige, for sure,” Johnson said after delivering a key par putt and steady play down the stretch for a 2-under 68 and a 3-shot victory in the Tour Championship.

“Being a FedEx Cup champion is something that I really wanted to do. I wanted to hold that trophy at the end of the day. It was something that I wanted to accomplish during my career.” He did it by hitting his stride at just the correct time

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He acquired two of the three FedEx Cup postseason events and lost in a playoff by a 65-foot putt in the other.

It all came down to the final day of the final event, and even with a 5-shot lead, it was never easy.

“It’s a very tough trophy to win,” Johnson said. “I controlled my own destiny, but I still had to go out and play well. I had a lot of great players right behind me. It got close at the end. I knew it was going to come down the stretch and I’d have to hit some golf shots.”

None was bigger than the 20-foot par putt on the 13th hole to keep his lead at three shots, the 5-iron safely on the green on the toughest hole at East Lake, another 5-iron over the water on the par-3 15th — the one hole where big numbers lurk — and a wedge out of a deep bunker and onto the green at the 16th.

“This is a tough golf course. No lead is safe,” Johnson said. “The guys gave me a good fight today.” Johnson became the first No. 1 seed at the Tour Championship to collect the FedEx Cup since Tiger Woods in 2009.

Now Johnson has his name etched on the silver trophy alongside some of the best from his generation, starting with Woods and most recently Rory McIlroy, with Hall of Famers, major champions and former world No. 1 players in between.

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Packers rookie Kamal Martin has surgery on knee, to miss at least six weeks

The Green Bay Packers got some unsatisfactory news on the injury this week. Head coach Matt LaFleur alluded to some injuries on Monday during his press availability, noting that there were a few players who were banged up and whose statuses could affect the makeup of the 53-man roster.

Indeed, it appears that the team will be without a promising young player for at least the first several weeks of the 2020 regular season. That player is linebacker Kamal Martin, the Packers’ fifth-round draft pick in April.

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Martin will be having knee surgery that will keep him out for an extended period of time. The injury is to Martin’s meniscus, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who notes that it is not expected to be season-ending. It would therefore appears that Martin may be a candidate to start the regular season on injured reserve.

He injured a knee last campaign while playing for the University of Minnesota, though it is unclear if the injuries are related.

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The Packers can maintain Martin’s eligibility to return this season from injured reserve if they keep him on the active roster through the 53-man roster deadline on Saturday and place him on IR afterwards. However, if they send him there before the cut-down deadline, he would be lost for the entire season.

Martin has fascinated heavily in training camp this summer and was reportedly taking snaps with the starting defense early in camp before the team cracked down on the detail that media members could report about the depth chart in practice.

This is just the latest injury at a position that keeps to be a problem for the Packers

Oren Burks missed a few days of practice late in camp and Curtis Bolton remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list in his attempt to return from a torn ACL he suffered last preseason.

That leaves the Packers with just presumed starter Christian Kirksey plus youngsters Ty Summers, Krys Barnes and potentially Tipa Galeai (who seems to be a better physical fit on the inside than on the edge) at the position.

Martin and Burks appeared to be the front-runners to start this season next to Kirksey, but if both of them are unavailable or unready to play, this could drive defensive coordinator Mike Pettine back to using a safety like Raven Greene at the second linebacker spot.

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Dolphins lose WR Preston Williams for rest of the season

Preston Williams was one of the brightest gems the Miami Dolphins revealed during the first year of their rebuild. Now, his first NFL season has come to an end.

Williams — who emerged as an undrafted rookie free agent to lead the Dolphins in receiving this season — suffered a left knee injury Sunday that ended his season, coach Brian Flores said on Monday.

“It’s a big loss for us,” Flores said. “I talked to him [Monday] morning. He’s done an incredible job. He came to us as a free agent and has really grown over the last six, seven months.

“I was devastated for the kid, and he was as well,” Flores added. “But I told him this is just a bump in the road. He’ll be back.” Williams suffered the injury, which is reportedly an anterior cruciate ligament tear, while returning a punt during the fourth quarter of Miami’s 28-16 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. He planted his left leg into the field to make a move before being taken down by a Jets player near the opposing sideline.

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He ended the game with five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns before limping over to the Dolphins sideline and being carted off the field with a towel draped over his head — in what may have been the most disappointing note in Miami’s first win of the season.

The Dolphins identified Williams as a player that could stretch the field and emerge as a No. 1 receiver in the midst of their rebuild.

His role expanded to handling punt return duties from Dolphins receiver and speedy return specialist Jakeem Grant.

Now, his rookie season will end with a lengthy rehabilitation process likely ahead of him.

Flores did not have a timetable for Williams’ potential return. “If he attacks his rehab and training like he did from the time he got here, he’ll be just fine,” Flores said.

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