Tagged in: season

Broncos DE Bradley Chubb (ankle) will undergo surgery

Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb’s 2021 debut lasted less than an entire match. Now, he’s hoping his 2021 season will last longer than his brief showing in Week 2.

Having re-injured his ankle on Sunday versus the Jaguars, Chubb will undergo an arthroscopic procedure Wednesday on his ankle and hopes to return this season, he announced through the team on Tuesday.

“I’m going to push everything I can to get back to these games and hopefully it’s sooner rather than later. My mindset is just going to be attack it 100 %every day,” Chubb stated.

Chubb said he’s been dealing with a bone spur in his ankle and the procedure will be to “clean it up” and “scope it out.”

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Chubb’s timetable will depend on how the surgery goes, though a surgery such as this generally takes six to eight weeks of recovery time.

Chubb is likely headed to injured reserve.

The initial hope was that Chubb’s ankle would respond to treatment and that surgery could be avoided, but it didn’t work out that way, NFL Network’s James Palmer reported.

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The biggest obstacle for the Broncos’ burgeoning star has been staying on the field.

Following a sensation 12-sack rookie season in 2018, Chubb played in only four matches in 2019 due to a torn ACL. Chubb’s 2020 return saw him play in 14 games, but he missed this season’s opener with an ankle injury that he tweaked in his debut (which saw him tally one tackle in 19 snaps).

Making matters worse for the Broncos’ defense, which has spearheaded the team’s 2-0 start, is that inside linebacker Josey Jewell is already out for the season with a torn pectoral.

A procedure awaits Chubb on Wednesday and then another trip on a familiar road to recovery. “I’m gonna push everything I have to get back to these games,” Chubb said. “I expect to see a whole new Bradley Chubb.”

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Los Angeles Lakers again trade Marc Gasol to Memphis Grizzlies, who plan to waive veteran

The Los Angeles Lakers traded Marc Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick and cash ($250,000) to Memphis on Friday.

The Grizzlies plan to work on a waiver and release to let Gasol to stay in Spain with his family, sources told ESPN.

The Lakers will save approximately $10 million in salary and luxury tax and acquire the draft rights to Memphis’ Wang Zhelin. The Lakers have 13 guaranteed contracts before the beginning of training camp this month.

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After the tumult of the Orlando bubble in 2020 and the COVID-19 restrictions of the 2020-21 season, Gasol made a decision to remain with his family in Spain for the start of the 2021-22 season, sources said.

His professional career started in 2003 with FC Barcelona in Spain, and his NBA career started with Memphis in 2008.

It was a Lakers-Grizzlies trade before his rookie season that included his older brother, Pau, that set the stage for a successful 11-year run with the Grizzlies.

Gasol, 36, has won an NBA championship, won two Olympic silver medals, made three All-Star teams and earned an NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and All-NBA first-team honors.

After the Lakers signed two former All-Star centers this summer — Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan — it appeared Gasol’s role would be increasingly limited.

Gasol had a $2.7 million deal for the 2021-22 season. The Lakers signed him to a two-year free-agent deal in 2020 after he spent a season-plus in Toronto Raptors, where he was part of a 2019 NBA championship team.

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Jordan Mailata, Philadelphia Eagles reach 4-year, $64 million extension

The Philadelphia Eagles are signing left tackle Jordan Mailata to a four-year, $64 million extension, Mailata’s agents confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

The deal, which runs through the 2025 season, could be worth up to $80 million and involves $40.85 million guaranteed, agents Jeff Nalley and Graylan Crain told ESPN.

It was completed Saturday, just before the team left its facility to fly to Atlanta for its season-opener versus the Falcons. “Excited to be here for another four years, representing this team and city,” Mailata said in a video posted to Twitter by the Eagles.

“I can’t wait to keep representing my family and everything that I have in me. Give it to you guys to get this championship here. Remember, Go Birds, baby!”

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Mailata’s ascension has been nothing short of remarkable.

A former Australian rugby player, he had no prior football experience and could barely name an NFL team when he arrived at IMG Academy to train in January 2018 as part of NFL’s International Player Pathway program.

Standing at 6-foot-8 and 346 pounds, his athletic gifts were obvious, but he didn’t even know how to put on or take off a helmet at first, let alone grasp the complexities of a pro offense.

He was selected by the Eagles in the seventh round (233rd overall) of the 2018 draft.

Mailata, 24, did not play his first two seasons in the NFL, but he showed marked improvement under the tutelage of offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

He started 10 matches last season as the Eagles’ offensive front was hit hard by injuries and proved himself well.

He entered this summer in a competition for the starting left tackle spot with former first-round pick Andre Dillard, who was held back by multiple injuries. Mailata became the clear favorite to win the job as the weeks went on.

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Minnesota Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. likely to miss season after undergoing surgery on meniscus

Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a meniscus injury, according to coach Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer did not give a timeline for Smith’s return but acknowledged that the Vikings are preparing for the third-year tight end to miss the whole season.

“We knew it was probably going to be a little while anyway,” Zimmer said. “Those are all part of things you have to plan for.”

Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Smith is facing a recovery timetable of 4-5 months. The Vikings placed Smith on the reserve/injured list later Wednesday.

Zimmer stated Monday that Smith was injured during Minnesota’s preseason finale at Kansas City, although it’s difficult to discern how and when he suffered the injury. The tight end was on the field for only 11 plays, and there was no noticeable moment where he appeared to get hurt.

“Sometimes injuries are like that,” Zimmer said. “You [don’t know] until you get in there. Honestly, with Danielle [Hunter] last year, that was about as insignificant as you can imagine. Then you get in and X-ray and MRI and do all those things and find out it’s more significant than you think.”

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Smith was primed for a breakout season at the time of his injury, having risen to the top of the Vikings’ depth chart at tight end after the departure of Kyle Rudolph during free agency. With Rudolph injured during the final four matches of the 2020 season, Smith stepped in and recorded three touchdowns on 20 targets, finishing the year with 30 catches for 365 yards and five scores.

“He’s just a great football player, and there’s no reason to think he wasn’t going to have a great year, but he’s got a lot of good football ahead of him,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “I would expect, whenever he’s back, the same great player that he was last year and that he was this August.”

According to Zimmer, team doctor Dr. Christopher Larsen repaired Smith’s injured meniscus instead of removing it, which could have led the tight end to develop an arthritic knee condition. Meniscus repair involves a longer recovery than a clean-up type procedure but will benefit the long-term health of Smith’s knee.

On Tuesday, the Vikings made a move to mitigate the loss of Smith, signing veteran tight end Chris Herndon and a 2022 sixth-round pick from the New York Jets for a 2022 fourth-round selection.

Minnesota also claimed former Jacksonville tight end Ben Ellefson on Wednesday.

After critiquing his team’s tight end depth as “not very good,” Zimmer said the Vikings would be looking to add additional players as they constructed the initial 53-man roster. Herndon spent three seasons with the Jets and found himself on the trading block after falling down the depth chart during training camp.

Last season, Herndon struggled with drops and fumbles and transitioned into more of a blocking tight end. He bounced back toward the end of 2020, recording 31 catches for 287 yards and three touchdowns.

Minnesota will also lean on its No. 2 tight end, Tyler Conklin, in Smith’s absence. Conklin returned to practice this week after dealing with a hamstring injury he classified as “minor.”

Like Smith, the 2018 fifth-round pick had a strong showing at the end of the 2020 season. Conklin finished his third year with 19 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown and developed into a consistent blocker.

Even if Smith had been able to play this season, the Vikings didn’t see specific responsibilities he would handle versus Conklin, which could bode well for this offense as it tries to compensate for the loss of its potential breakout star tight end.

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Pittsburgh Steelers undergo special teams makeover, release punter Jordan Berry, long snapper Kameron Canaday

The Pittsburgh Steelers are ushering in a new era in the team’s kicking unit. While kicker Chris Boswell’s job is safe, he’ll have a new supporting cast for the 2021 season.

The Steelers released punter Jordan Berry and long snapper Kameron Canaday, league sources confirmed to ESPN. With their departures, rookie seventh-round pick Pressley Harvin III is the presumed punter and Christian Kuntz, who played FCS football at nearby Duquesne University, is the team’s long snapper.

Berry first joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and has been the team’s primary punter for the better part of six seasons.

He was briefly released last year when the team brought on former Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt for a month, but Berry re-signed with the team in October and reclaimed punting duties.

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He averaged 44.4 yards per punt in his career, including a career best 45.8 last season. He went toe-to-toe with Harvin, a Georgia Tech product and 2020 Ray Guy winner, throughout training camp and the preseason.

“It really has been competitive,” special teams coordinator Danny Smith said during training camp. “It really has. It’s good to see two pros put their best foot forward. No pun intended. But Jordan’s punting the ball better than he ever has and Pressley is very talented, so it’s been quite a competition.”

Harvin impressed from the jump, averaging 46 yards per punt over his three preseason appearances.

Berry rose to the occasion and averaged 43.9 yards per punt in two preseason matches, but the team opted to go with their draft pick.

At long snapper, Kuntz, a Pittsburgh area native, won the job over four-year long snapper Canaday after spending part of the 2020 season on the Steelers’ practice squad.

He also spent the 2019 training camp with the Steelers before being waived during final cuts. He’s been on rosters and in camps with teams since 2017 and had a stint in the XFL with the Dallas Renegades, earning praise for his versatility of being a linebacker and long snapper.

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Nick Van Exel returns to Atlanta Hawks as assistant coach

Nick Van Exel has returned to the Atlanta Hawks, joining Nate McMillan’s staff as an assistant coach.

Van Exel spent the past two years as a scout with the Dallas Mavericks. The Hawks announced his hiring Wednesday, bringing back a former All-Star who served as a player development instructor for Atlanta from 2010 to 2012.

“Since his playing career ended, Nick has been very successful in helping develop young guards for the teams he’s worked with, including several that have turned into All-Stars,”

McMillan, who led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals last season after taking over as interim coach, said in a statement.

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The Hawks are led by 22-year-old point guard Trae Young, who is heading into his fourth season.

They also have young swingmen De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish as well as a pair of second-round picks they hope will develop into solid NBA guards in Skylar Mays and Sharife Cooper.

Van Exel will get a chance to work with that promising group under McMillan, who was retained as the permanent coach after the Hawks’ playoff run.

“We feel he’ll be a great addition helping our young core guards continue to progress,” McMillan said.

Van Exel has previous coaching experience with the Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks. He also was a head coach for one season in the G League and spent a year as an assistant at Texas Southern.

Over a 13-year playing career in the NBA, Van Exel played with six teams. He earned a spot in the 1998 All-Star Game while with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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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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Stanton, Yankees win 10th straight, cool off Braves 5-1

Giancarlo Stanton homered and drove in three runs to carry the New York Yankees to their 10th consecutive victory, cooling off the streaking Atlanta Braves 5-1 on Monday night.

The Yankees snapped first-place Atlanta’s own nine-game winning streak in the first regular-season matchup in almost 120 years between teams that had won at least nine in a row.

Stanton homered in the second inning off Huascar Ynoa (4-3) and snapped a 1-all tie in the sixth with a two-out, two-run double.

Gary Sánchez gave New York some insurance with another two-out hit in the eighth, singling through the shift to bring home two more runs.

Jordan Montgomery (5-5) worked around four walks in his five-inning stint, limiting the Braves to two hits — including a homer by Dansby Swanson.

The Yankees’ bullpen took it from there. Jonathan Loaisiga pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four. Wandy Peralta worked around a couple of hits in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman finished off Atlanta with a 1-2-3 ninth.

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In the second, Stanton put the Yankees ahead with his 21st homer — going the opposite way with a 387-foot shot into the Chop House restaurant in right.

The Braves tied it in the bottom half with a long ball of their own.

Swanson launched a 408-foot drive into the Atlanta bullpen for his 25th homer of the campaign.

New York went ahead for good in the sixth, taking advantage of Ynoa’s only spurt of wildness.

After plunking DJ LeMahieu with a pitch, Ynoa retired the next two hitters before issuing his only walk of the night to Joey Gallo.

Stanton made the Atlanta pitcher pay, lining a one-hop double off the wall in left to bring home both runners.

Ynoa turned in another strong start in his second appearance since an extended stint on the injured list after hurting his right hand punching a wall in frustration. He permitted four hits, three runs and struck out nine over six innings.

Montgomery was backed up by a couple of stellar defensive plays, including a diving catch by Gallo down the left-field line to rob Guillermo Heredia of a hit in the second.

The game was played in a playoff-like atmosphere, with a near-sellout crowd of 39,176 in Atlanta and plenty of Yankees fans to spice things up.

It marked the first matchup between two teams this hot since Sept. 7, 1901, when the Pittsburgh Pirates took a 10-game winning streak into their contest against the Philadelphia Phillies, who had won nine in a row.

The Phillies won 4-1 for their 10th straight victory, but Pittsburgh went on to capture the NL pennant. The first World Series would not be held for two more years.

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Top New York Jets free-agent signing Carl Lawson ruptures Achilles, will miss 2021 season

New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson, the team’s biggest free-agent signing from the offseason, will miss the 2021 campaign after rupturing his left Achilles tendon Thursday.

The injury happened during a red zone period in a joint practice between the Jets and Green Bay Packers at the Packers’ facility. Several players took knees and the practice fell ominously quiet as medical personnel tended to Lawson.

Safety Zane Lewis also suffered a season-ending injury during the joint practice as the Jets stated he tore a patella tendon and sprained an MCL. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (knee) and wide receiver Denzel Mims (hip) also were injured Thursday, but their injuries are considered minor and both players are day-to-day, the Jets said.

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Lawson’s season-ending injury is a huge blow to the Jets, who were counting on him to be their primary edge-rushing threat in their new 4-3 front.

He had been dominant in training-camp practices.

The loss of Lawson will force the Jets to retool their defensive line under new head coach Robert Saleh, who spent the last four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator.

Saleh is no stranger to dealing with injuries and still fielding a strong defense. The 49ers ranked No. 5 in total yards allowed last season despite the losses of Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman and Ezekiel Ansah due to injuries.

Bryce Huff, an undrafted free agent last year out of Memphis, is the favorite to get a chance to replace Lawson as a primary pass-rusher for the Jets.

The Jets signed Lawson to a three-year, $45 million contract in March. He spent his first four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Lawson has a history of major injuries. He tore his left ACL at Auburn in 2014, and he tore his right ACL with the Bengals in 2018.

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Rashod Bateman to undergo groin surgery, may miss Baltimore Ravens’ season opener on Monday Night Football

Baltimore Ravens first-round pick Rashod Bateman will have surgery on his groin this week and could miss the start of the season.

“He’ll be back from that sometime in September,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after Thursday’s practice. “I think that’s pretty good news.”

Bateman’s surgery likely jeopardizes his availability for the Ravens’ season opener on Sept. 13, when they play at the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. Baltimore then hosts the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 (Sept. 19) before traveling to face the Detroit Lions in Week 3 (Sept. 26).

Bateman tweeted later Thursday that he will “be back soon.”

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Bateman, who was projected to be among Lamar Jackson’s top three wide receivers, injured his right groin Tuesday while making a cut against cornerback Marcus Peters in a one-on-one drill.

Harbaugh stated Wednesday that Bateman was expected to miss “a number of weeks.”

The No. 27 overall pick, Bateman was one of the biggest offseason additions to a Ravens receiver group that totaled the fewest catches (137), receiving yards (1,729) and first downs (83) in the NFL last season.

Bateman is the fourth Baltimore wide receiver to miss multiple practices leading up to Saturday’s preseason opener versus the New Orleans Saints, joining Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (hamstring), Miles Boykin (hamstring) and Deon Cain (undisclosed). Brown, who hasn’t practiced since July 29, has been running off to the side and appears to be close to returning.

The Ravens’ only three healthy wide receivers who have caught a pass in the regular season are Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay and James Proche. Watkins is the only one with more than 20 career receptions.

Bateman had no history of injuries in his three seasons at Minnesota, where he played every game in 2018 and 2019 before opting out after five games last campaign.

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