Tagged in: starter

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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Chicago Bulls exercise contract options on Coby White, Patrick Williams

The Bulls have exercised a pair of rookie scale team options, locking in guard Coby White and forward Patrick Williams for the 2022/23 campaign, the team revealed wednesday in a press release.

While decisions on standard team options are typically due right before free agency begins, teams have to make their decisions on rookie scale team options a year in advance.

By October 31, clubs must either exercise or decline third-year options for first-round picks from 2020 and fourth-year options for 2019’s first-rounders.

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White was a starter for the Bulls this past season, but figures to come off the bench following the team’s acquisition of Lonzo Ball in free agency.

The 21-year-old averaged 15.1 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 4.1 RPG on .416/.359/.901 shooting in 69 games (31.2 MPG) in 2020/21. His ’21/22 debut may be delayed, since he’s coming off left shoulder surgery.

Williams, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft, was also a full-time starter last season as a 19-year-old rookie.

His role for 2021/22 stays unclear, but the former Florida State standout looks like a key part of Chicago’s long-term plans. He put up 9.2 PPG and 4.6 RPG on .483/.391/.728 shooting in 71 games (27.9 MPG) last season. White’s fourth-year option for 2022/23 is worth $7,413,955.

He’ll now be extension-eligible during the 2022 offseason and would be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023 if he doesn’t sign a new contract next year.

Williams’ third-year option for ’22/23 will pay him $7,775,400. The Bulls will have to decide on his fourth-year option for 2023/24 by October 31, 2022.

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New York Jets OL Alex Lewis, a former starter, decides to retire

New York Jets guard Alex Lewis, who walked off the practice field Aug. 5 with an apparent head injury, has decided to retire from the NFL, a source told ESPN on Wednesday.

By rule, Lewis, 29, was eliminated from playing for any team in 2021 when he was placed last week on the reserve/left squad list. He was aware of that possibility and wasn’t surprised when the Jets used that designation, the source said.

Lewis’ head injury wasn’t the reason he left the team, as the Jets suggested soon after his sudden departure. “He’s going through some things which are much greater than football right now,” coach Robert Saleh said on Aug. 7. “We’re just giving him a chance to kind of sort through it all.”

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Lewis’ retirement culminates a tumultuous year.

The former starter spent time last campaign on the non-football injury list as he sought medical help for an undisclosed condition. That came after a heated practice-field exchange with then-coach Adam Gase.

In the offseason, the Jets replaced Lewis by drafting guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round. Lewis wasn’t happy, a source said, prompting him to skip the voluntary portion of the offseason program.

The Jets approached Lewis about a pay cut, and the two sides agreed to a reworked deal in May. His base salary was lowered from $5.8 million to $3 million, and the final year of his contact (2022) was voided, which would have allowed him to become a free agent.

In theory, Lewis could try a comeback in 2022, but “it remains to be seen whether he has any desire to play again,” the source said.

Lewis, a fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, played three years with them before being traded to the Jets in 2019. He did a solid job at left guard and was rewarded with a three-year, $18.6 million contract. He played in 44 career matches, with 39 starts.

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New York Jets’ Zach Wilson signs rookie deal after missing first 2 days of practice

It took longer than expected, but the New York Jets and quarterback Zach Wilson agreed to terms on his rookie contract Thursday.

The first-round pick and presumptive starter, who missed two days of practice as the two sides haggled over technicalities in the contract language, signed a four-year, $35.15 million contract — a slotted deal that is fully guaranteed.

It contains a $22.9 million signing bonus and a fifth-year team option, standard for all first-round picks.

Wilson, who took a red-eye from Los Angeles and arrived in New Jersey on Thursday morning, was the last unsigned first-round selection from the 2021 NFL draft.

The contract includes offset language and the signing bonus will be paid within 15 days, per a source, details that imply that the sides have compromised because those were the sticking points. Originally, the Jets wanted to defer payments into 2022.

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Coach Robert Saleh, speaking to reporters shortly before news of the deal broke, said he talked to Wilson early in the week.

The conversation was strictly about football, not contract-related, Saleh said. He said he wasn’t worried about the stalemate being a disruption to the team.

“It’s more concern for the kid,” Saleh said. “Every rep is important, so my concern is that it’s two days too many for him. But as far as the installs go and the way we’re preparing the rest of the team, that doesn’t concern me.

“But this young man has a chance to do something special around here that hasn’t been done in a while and every rep matters for him.”

Wilson benefited from a heavy workload in the spring. With no veterans on the roster, he took all the first-team reps.

There was an increased sense of urgency to strike a deal because the Jets are counting on him to be their opening-day starter, although they haven’t revealed that. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are James Morgan and Mike White, neither of whom has regular-season experience. Rookie contract disputes are unusual because the deals are slotted, but teams and agents sometimes haggle over certain clauses.

The Jets include an offset in every contract that has guaranteed money, which provides financial protection if they release the player before the contract is complete. An offset lets a team to cut a player before the end of his four-year contract is completed and have the remaining money reduced by the amount of his next contract.

This isn’t an unusual stance. It’s believed that 30 of the 32 teams use offsets in contracts. The exceptions are the Los Angeles Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the latter having signed No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence to a deal with no offsets.

Without an offset, a cut player collects the guarantee from his old team plus the money he receives from his new team — aka double dipping.

What complicated the Jets’ negotiation was that at least two of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round received deals without full offsets — Lawrence and Justin Fields (No. 11 by the Chicago Bears). Fields received a partial offset.

Interestingly, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, the top pick in 2020 and represented by the same agency that negotiated Wilson’s contract, signed a contract that includes offset language.

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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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Injured starters Mike Clevinger, Dinelson Lamet not on San Diego Padres roster

San Diego Padres right-hander Mike Clevinger will not pitch in the wild-card round, and he could miss the remainder of the postseason with an arm injury that did not resolve during a bullpen session Tuesday, sources told ESPN.

Clevinger is not the only Padres starter with an injury. Dinelson Lamet, who concluded the season with a 2.09 ERA and was expected to be their No. 2 starter, is also out for the three-game, opening-round series versus the St. Louis Cardinals.

He has a biceps injury. San Diego named Chris Paddack its Game 1 starter in lieu of Clevinger. Padres general manager A.J. Preller announced Wednesday that Zach Davies will be the Game 2 starter, and if there’s a Game 3 it will be “all hands on deck.”

Right-hander Garrett Richards and left-hander Adrian Morejon also have started games for the Padres this year.

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The Padres obtained Clevinger, 29, from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline and expected him to lead their playoff rotation.

Clevinger left a Sept. 23 start after one inning, and while he has attempted to throw in the week since, concerns about his short- and long-term health persist, according to sources.

Rotation depth, while not vital in the wild-card round, will become paramount in the division series and championship series, during which there will be no off days.

The Padres acquired Clevinger, outfielder Greg Allen and a player to be named for a six-player package. Clevinger had fallen out of favor with the Indians after he and teammate Zach Plesac broke curfew during a trip in Chicago.

Teammates blamed Clevinger of lying to them and they criticized him during a meeting, following which he and Plesac were demoted. Beyond this year, the concerns about Clevinger’s arm are acute.

He has two years before he reaches free agency, and the Padres spent significant prospect capital at the deadline in hopes of him anchoring the rotation over the next few years as they try to obtain the franchise’s first championship.

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Joel Embiid out of 76ers’ scrimmage with calf issue

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid sat out Sunday afternoon’s scrimmage versus the Oklahoma City Thunder with right calf tightness.

The Sixers said before the scrimmage that Embiid started feeling tightness in the calf during Friday’s 90-83 triumph over Memphis in Philadelphia’s first action inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort. He is listed as day-to-day and will be reevaluated Monday.

“Not really,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said when asked if there is any frustration about Embiid missing time with an injury. “It’s the second game. “If this had happened three to four games into what we are calling the regular season, [yes]. There is always frustration, selfish frustration, and I know frustration, at times, for Joel. But initially, [we’re] just trying to be smart with everything and move on.”

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Brown said before Friday’s scrimmage that he hoped to get Embiid 18 to 20 minutes, but instead he ended with just under 13, scoring 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting to go with six rebounds and an assist.

He was the only starter to not play in the second half.

When asked whether Embiid could potentially miss any of the seeding games, which for Philadelphia started Saturday versus the Indiana Pacers — with whom they are tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference — Brown side-stepped the question.

“I believe we’re just getting out in front of stuff, and being smart with it,” he said.

Brown said Al Horford, who has been benched in favor of second-year guard Shake Milton in the restart, would substitute Embiid in the starting lineup alongside Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons, and that he looks at Embiid’s absence as an opportunity to get Horford some extended minutes.

“I feel that it’s an opportunity,” Brown said. “Truly — not coach speak, not political speak, truly — to play Al more, to put him with some different groups.” Embiid averaged 23.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per game while playing in 44 of Philadelphia’s 65 games this season prior to it being suspended in March because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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