Tagged in: season

Washington LB Thomas Davis Sr. says he’ll retire after 2020 season

Washington Football Team linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. will retire at the end of this campaign, he said in an Instagram post.

Washington (6-9) can extend Davis’ final season by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East on Sunday.

Davis, 37, has played 16 years in the NFL — the first 14 with Carolina and then the past two with the Los Angeles Chargers and Washington. Davis has served mostly in a backup role with Washington this season. He has played in seven games and received 132 snaps from scrimmage, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Washington coach Ron Rivera signed him because of Davis’ leadership and his familiarity with what Rivera wanted from his players.

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Rivera trusted Davis because of how he played for him in Carolina, where he made the Pro Bowl three consecutive seasons, from 2015 to 2017. He was a first team All-Pro performer in 2015, the year Carolina reached the Super Bowl. Davis signed a two-year deal with the Chargers in 2019 but was released last offseason.

Davis also endured three torn ACLs.

As a reminder of how he endured, Davis posted pictures of cleats on Instagram that sum up his career. One cleat has written on it “3 ACL Tears. 3 ACL Recoveries.” It also shows how many Pro Bowls he earned. On the other cleat, it reflects him winning the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Carolina drafted Davis with the 14th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft; he had played linebacker and free safety at Georgia. He was considered a top safety prospect before that draft, but the Panthers moved him to linebacker.

His speed and athleticism helped him have success in the NFL. In 199 games, Davis recorded 1,151 tackles, 29 sacks, 18 forced fumbles and 13 interceptions.

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Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson given no assurance he’ll finish season

Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he has received no assurances from the front office that he will keep his job for the remainder of the season, but is “not going there mentally” when it comes to his job security.

“Listen, I’ve been around this league a long time, 25 years I believe as a player and a coach, and we’re always based on and evaluated on our performance,” he stated.

“Right now, that’s obviously not my concern as far as that decision goes. That’s out of my hands. But what’s in my hands and in my control is getting the team prepared and ready for Green Bay this weekend.”

The Eagles are in the midst of a three-game slide that has dropped them to 3-7-1 on the season and into third place in the historically bad NFC East.

Quarterback Carson Wentz has regressed dramatically in Year 5 and the offense has tied a season low in points with 17 in each of the last three weeks.

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Pederson said that temporarily giving up playcalling is “on the table” — the first time he’s been open to the idea publicly — but suggested a modification there wasn’t imminent.

With facilities across the NFL closed Tuesday, Pederson did his day-after news conference from his home office.

In the background was a towering bookshelf lined with awards and memorabilia.

Dominating the scene just off to his right was a replica of the Lombardi Trophy — a not-so-subtle reminder of the unparalleled heights he helped lift this franchise to a short time ago.

It was with that backdrop that Pederson faced questions regarding his job security for the first time.

He has guided the Eagles to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, starting with their Super Bowl run in 2017, but the offense has grown stagnant over the last two years. That has not gone unnoticed by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who skipped their Week 11 game at the Cleveland Browns in part out of frustration, sources told ESPN.

With the team reeling, there are some on the inside who believe that Pederson needs to lead Philadelphia to a division title in 2020 to keep his job.

“Our relationship is good. We communicate a lot throughout the week,” Pederson said of Lurie. “We have our typical weekly meeting and cover a lot of ground.

“But that relationship is good. Listen, some of these questions might be for Mr. Lurie obviously, but my job is to prepare the team and get ready for Green Bay.”

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Brandon Allen to replace injured Joe Burrow at QB for Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen will take over for the injured Joe Burrow as the team’s starter, a source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.

Allen, who has spent the entire campaign on the practice squad, will be making his fourth career NFL start on Sunday versus the New York Giants. The other three starts came with the Denver Broncos last season.

A sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft, Allen was picked up by the Bengals during training camp as a contingency option due to COVID-19. He was among the team’s final preseason cuts and was added to the practice squad.

NFL Network first reported that Allen would start for the Bengals. After the Bengals selected Burrow with the top overall pick in the 2020 draft, they opted not to add another quarterback to the 53-man roster.

On Monday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Allen filled that void because of the promotions allowed from the practice squad this season.

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“Whether he’s on the active roster or the practice squad doesn’t really matter,” Taylor said. “He’s still in the room doing that kind of stuff.”

Allen and Taylor have a familiarity with each other.

The two were with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 and 2018, when Taylor was an assistant coach. Taylor noted Allen’s experience with the team’s system when discussing the quarterback options for the rest of the season.

Burrow was placed on injured reserve Monday after he tore multiple ligaments in his left knee during last weekend’s 20-9 defeat to Washington. A timetable for Burrow’s surgery or eventual return is still uncertain.

Allen earns the nod as Cincinnati’s starter over second-year quarterback Ryan Finley. Finley, a 2019 fourth-round pick, started three games in 2019 as the Bengals evaluated their quarterback options ahead of the 2020 draft.

Finley served as the team’s primary backup quarterback the past two seasons but was 3-of-10 passing for 30 yards versus Washington.

“He’s in a tough spot there in the second half, but that’s life as a backup quarterback,” Taylor said. “You’ve got to get yourself ready to go. There’s things that I wish I could put him in a better position to get a better opportunity, but the bottom line is we didn’t get it done and weren’t able to get any points there in the second half to help us win.”

Also Wednesday, running back Giovani Bernard was held out of practice with a concussion, the team said. It wasn’t clear if he would be able to play versus the Giants. If not, the likely starter would be Samaje Perine.

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Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow done for the season

The nightmare for Cincinnati happened on a Sunday afternoon in Maryland. 

Quarterback Joe Burrow injured his left knee in the third quarter of the Cincinnati Bengals’ game when he was hit in the pocket shortly after releasing a pass to wideout Tyler Boyd.

Burrow was on the ground writhing in pain as the Bengals medical staff immediately rushed to the field. A few moments later, Burrow was helped up and was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he was placed a cart. The entire Bengals team gathered around Burrow to show their support before Burrow exited the field on the cart.

The Bengals formally declared Burrow out minutes later. Second-year quarterback Ryan Finley substituted Burrow under center — and he will presumably conclude the year as the team’s starter. 

The initial diagnosis is Burrow suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. NFL Network first reported the news at the conclusion of the 20-9 loss. 

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Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley:5 things to know about Joe Burrow’s replacement

Burrow finished the contest 22-of-34 passing for 203 yards and one touchdown pass.

The Bengals were ahead 9-7 when Burrow left the game with a little under 12 minutes remaining in the third quarter. His injury was the turning point in the game. 

“That’s an injury to a team leader that can take the wind out of your sails,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said postgame. 

The rookie quarterback’s left knee injury was a debilitating blow for the Bengals, and they never recovered. Washington scored 13 unanswered points following Burrow’s injury.

Burrow was one of the most hit quarterbacks in all of football entering Week 11. The rookie QB was sacked 32 times in 10 matches, that’s the third most in the NFL.

“I hope he recovers soon because he’s a hell of a player and it’s been a lot of fun watching him play this first half of the season, so excited for when he’s back,” Finley said postgame. “I think he’s a competitor. I think he’s going to be one of those guys that will be back before he’s supposed to, whenever that is.”

Unfortunately for the entire Bengals organization, Burrow’s rookie season is presumably done. He’ll won’t be back on the field until the 2021 campaign. 

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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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NBPA reps approve Dec. 22 start date for 72-game regular season

The National Basketball Players Association board of representatives voted on Thursday night to approve a plan for a Dec. 22 start to the season that contains a reduced 72-game calendar, clearing the way for league and union to finalize details on the 2020-21 campaign, sources told ESPN.

The NBPA’s board of player representatives voted to approve the pre-Christmas start in a conference call with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, sources said.

The NBA and NBPA are planning to discuss the opening of free agency as quickly as possible after the Nov. 18 NBA draft to accommodate player movement with such a short window to the opening of training camps on Dec. 1, sources said. The league and players are still negotiating financial terms of an amended collective bargaining agreement and those talks are expected to extend into next week, sources said.

Once a formal agreement is reached, the league will lift a moratorium and re-open the league for business on trades prior to the draft.

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The league thinks that a Dec. 22 start that includes Christmas Day matches on television and allows for a 72-game schedule that concludes before the Summer Olympics in mid-July is worth between $500 million and $1 billion in short- and long-term revenues to the league and players, sources said.

The NBA and NBPA have discussed significant rises in the escrow withholding on players’ salaries to account for the severe losses in league revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sides are working toward spreading out the players’ losses over multiple seasons, so the players don’t take such a substantial financial hit in one year.

The NBA has pushed back a deadline to Friday that keeps open the option of terminating the collective bargaining agreement, which would essentially blow up the league’s financial structure that allows for a 50-50 split of basketball-related income (BRI) under the provisions of the CBA.

Because of the pandemic triggering a force majeure clause in the CBA, both sides have the option of serving notice of 45 days on terminating the agreement, sources said.

The NBA and NBPA split the BRI, and the league recently told teams that 40% of that revenue could be lost without gate receipts this campaign, sources said.

The NBA’s basketball-related income was down $1.5 billion last season, according to data provided to teams and obtained by ESPN.

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Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. has torn ACL in left knee

Odell Beckham Jr.’s season is officially over.

The Cleveland Browns revealed the star wide receiver suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Beckham underwent an MRI on Monday morning, which confirmed the tear.

He was injured on the Browns’ second snap Sunday while attempting to chase down a Cincinnati Bengals defender following a Baker Mayfield interception.

“Obviously it’s a big loss,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski stated Monday. “He’s a huge part of what we do. So now we’ll just have to huddle up, and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. “You never replace a player of Odell’s caliber with one player. It’s going to take multiple guys,” Stefanski added. “That’s the challenge we have and I think our guys will be up to the challenge.”

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On Mayfield’s first passing attempt versus the Bengals, he tried to force a throw to Beckham down the sideline.

The ball, however, was underthrown and picked off by Darius Phillips. Beckham turned around to chase the Cincinnati defensive back the other way, but crashed into Phillips and Cleveland fullback Andy Janovich, who also was trying to make the tackle.

After going 0-of-5 in the first quarter, Mayfield bounced back without Beckham to complete a franchise-record 21 consecutive passes and five touchdowns, including a game-winning, 24-yard scoring strike to rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones with 15 seconds left.

Afterward, Mayfield confessed to feeling guilty for the underthrow that led to Beckham’s injury.

“I’m probably going to beat myself up about that one for a long time,” Mayfield said. “He’s a guy who fights for this team, and in doing that, he got hurt. … it sucks.”

Mayfield stated that at halftime Beckham told him to “go be great” in the second half. Mayfield went on to become just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw three go-ahead touchdown passes in a fourth quarter in Cleveland’s 37-34 victory.

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Le’Veon Bell Signs Reported 1-Year Chiefs Contract

Running back Le’Veon Bell signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday after being released by the New York Jets earlier in the week, the team stated.

Kansas City did not release terms of the pact, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bell is expected to sign a one-year deal. 

Schefter noted Bell wants to win a Super Bowl and believes the reigning champs give him the best chance to do so.

The three-time Pro Bowler is in his seventh season in the league, and Kansas City marks his third team after his career started with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. After missing the 2018 season because of a contract dispute, he signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in March 2019.

Bell’s 19 months with the Jets were rocky at best. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in May 2019 that head coach Adam Gase liked Bell on the field but “didn’t love the money.” 

Across 17 games with the Jets, Bell had 264 carries for 863 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught 69 passes for 500 yards and a touchdown. He got off to a slow start in 2020, as he missed three games with a hamstring injury and had only 74 yards on 19 carries in the two games he did play.

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When Bell returned in Week 5, he played only 67 percent of the offensive snaps. In 2019, he appeared for more than 80 percent of the team’s snaps in 11 games and over 90 percent five times.

In the days leading up to Bell’s Tuesday release, Gase was outspoken about the running back’s social media activity.

The Michigan State product liked multiple tweets about his lack of usage, and he had expressed his frustration throughout the campaign.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas wrote in a statement that the two sides explored the possibility of a trade, but they could not reach an agreement with another team before deciding to release him.

The Chiefs spent their first-round pick this year on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rumbled for 138 rushing yards in his debut. However, he has yet to top 64 yards in each of his other four games, and Kansas City lacks much reliable depth behind him.

Expect Bell to immediately slide in as a complement to Edwards-Helaire, particularly as a pass-catching option on third downs.

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Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs are first to 4-0 in four straight seasons

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs started slowly on Monday night, which should have been expected. Their adversary was the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs came alive in the second half, as they usually do versus the Patriots. Mahomes threw two touchdown passes and the Chiefs ran their record to 4-0 by winning 26-10.

The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start four consecutive seasons 4-0 or better. They’ve had a winning streak of at least four games in every one of coach Andy Reid’s eight seasons.

The Chiefs didn’t score their first touchdown until late in the third quarter. The match was only the third with Mahomes as their starter in which the Chiefs didn’t score at least one touchdown on any of their first four possessions. The other two came against the Patriots. But in each of those games the Chiefs scored 31 points in the second half.

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The Chiefs scored 20 this time with the help of 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tyrann Mathieu.

Two of the biggest plays of the game came with New England inside the Chiefs’ 20. The Chiefs ended each drive with a sack, first late in the first half when Frank Clark dragged down Brian Hoyer for a 13-yard loss from the Chiefs’ 13.

The Patriots were out of time outs and the play ended the half. Taco Charlton in the third quarter sacked Hoyer at the Chiefs’ 10 and forced a fumble. The Chiefs recovered.

The Chiefs played without defensive tackle Chris Jones, their leading pass-rusher. He had been listed as questionable for the game with a groin injury. Jones led the Chiefs coming into the game with 3.5 sacks.

Kicker Harrison Butker missed a point-after touchdown for the second consecutive game. He did make both of his field goal attempts. Butker missed a 42-yard try last week.

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Herbert shoots 65 to take Scottish Open lead

Australian golfer Lucas Herbert carded seven birdies and one bogey in a 6-under 65 to lead the Scottish Open by one shot on Friday going into the weekend.

Herbert considered quitting the game as he struggled during the middle of the 2019 season, but finds himself in contention for his second European Tour title after conquering his first in January in Dubai.

At 11 under par, he’s a shot ahead of Robert Rock, and two ahead of two more Englishmen, Ian Poulter and overnight leader Lee Westwood.

“To be honest, I turned up here on Wednesday and hit it all over the place,” Herbert stated. “Sort of not really expecting too much the last few days, but it’s kind of all come together nicely. My iron play has been great, which has taken the pressure off, and I haven’t had to get it up and down from ball washers to try and save pars.”

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Poulter added a second round of 66 to his opening 67 at the Renaissance Club for a halfway total of 9 under which was matched by playing partner Westwood.

Westwood could follow a brilliant 62 on Thursday with only a 71.

“It’’ nice to be in contention and good to come back, play and support the tour,” the U.S.-based Poulter stated.

“It’s great that we have these events on right now, to be able to showcase the tour a bit and I’m not thinking anything about Saturday bar bringing an umbrella and a pair of waterproofs.

“The weather forecast looks horrific, 20 mph (32 kph) winds and a couple of inches (5 centimeters) of rain. You can be blown off the course easily, but we’re at the right end of the leaderboard to try and batten down the hatches, dig in deep, and hold strong as much as you possibly can.”

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