Tagged in: starting

Atlanta Falcons starting nickel corner Isaiah Oliver out for season with knee injury

Atlanta Falcons starting nickel corner Isaiah Oliver is done for the season and will need surgery, a source told ESPN, after he was carted off the field with a knee injury Sunday versus the Washington Football Team.

The team placed Oliver on injured reserve Tuesday. Oliver, a second-round pick in 2018 out of Colorado, had become one of Atlanta’s top defensive players after moving from outside corner to the slot full-time this year.

He allowed 53.3% of passes thrown at him to be completed, according to Pro Football Reference, and recorded nine tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups.

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The Falcons coaches had been happy with the way Oliver had been playing, and his versatility, praising him in multiple press briefings over the past month.

Now, the team will likely turn to rookie Avery Williams, who was taken in the fifth round out of Boise State, to replace Oliver in the lineup.

Atlanta also placed punter Cam Nizialek on injured reserve after he suffered a right hamstring injury Sunday. The Falcons promoted punter Dustin Colquitt, a two-time Pro Bowler, from the practice squad along with defensive lineman Mike Pennel to take the places of Nizialek and Oliver on the 53-man roster.

The Falcons also signed kicker Elliott Fry and safety Shawn Williams, who has started 60 matches in the NFL, to the practice squad. The Falcons have options when it comes to filling Oliver’s role. But when someone is coming into his own the way Oliver was, it hurts to see the contingency plan enacted.

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Jordan Love prepared to be Green Bay’s starting quarterback but says it’s ‘great’ Aaron Rodgers returned

He’s not to the point where he’s giving long and revealing answers like Aaron Rodgers, and he’s not one to crack up the room like third-stringer Kurt Benkert, so what is Jordan Love as he settles into the No. 2 quarterback job with the Green Bay Packers now that the reigning NFL MVP has returned?

No one’s immediate future was more up in the air during Rodgers’ standoff with the team than Love’s. Yet to hear his teammates tell it and to listen to him answer questions, Love was — and still is — nothing if not calm and even-keeled.

“Obviously there’s going to be either two options: Either he was going to be back or he wasn’t,” Love stated of Rodgers on Thursday in his first public comments since training camp opened on July 28.

“So yeah, I mean, it’s obviously very great to have Aaron back just on this team. Obviously he’s a huge presence at the quarterback position and in the locker room as well and then as a leader on the team, so it’s great to have him back.”

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A day after Rodgers said he tried to keep Love abreast of any developments during the offseason — because as Rodgers said, “I just felt that’s what I would want in that situation, just to hear from the guy” — Love called their relationship like a Master and Padawan, referring to one of Rodgers’ favorite movies, “Star Wars.”

Love said he found out about Rodgers’ return just before he boarded a plane to Green Bay for training camp.

“Actually, the whole time I had to convince myself that I was going to be the starter,” Love said. “That’s the only way you can look at that situation. I feel like if you don’t, you won’t be ready. That’s how I looked at it the whole way — is in my head he wasn’t coming back, I’ve got to get myself ready to be the starter.”

It was an invaluable offseason of work for Love, the 26th overall pick of the 2020 draft, given that he served as the No. 3 quarterback last season and did not even suit up for a single match as a rookie.

Much like in offseason practices, Love has experienced good and bad days so far in camp. Take Thursday, for example. He completed a tight-window crosser to Reggie Begelton and had perfect placement on a deep sideline out to Devin Funchess. But then during the two-minute drill, he went 0-for-3 with a pair of turnovers on downs and an interception by undrafted rookie Christian Uphoff on a wobbly deep ball.

“It was funny, I was talking to him in pre-practice today just about how things are going, and he seems so calm this year,” Packers guard Lucas Patrick said Thursday. “You can tell that he’s picking up on everything, and I think those OTAs reps were crucial for him. Just a ton of reps to say the cadence, say the playcall, go through things, hit strikes on quick stuff. Yeah, so I think he’s handling it well.”

Love said it helps that he can work in what he called “a great quarterback room” where he’s surrounded by the thoughtful Rodgers and the outgoing Benkert. While Rodgers was revealing again in his comments on Wednesday and Benkert cracked up the room by telling reporters the story of how he got cut by the Falcons earlier this year and that he basically invited himself to a July 4 cookout with some Packers fans, Love was his composed and buttoned-up self as he waits his turn.

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Andy Dalton says Chicago Bears told him starting quarterback job is his

The Chicago Bears apparently won’t have a quarterback competition. That job goes to Andy Dalton.

The former Cincinnati and Dallas QB stated he has been assured the top spot is his and he won’t be competing with veteran Nick Foles.

“They told me I was the starter,” Dalton said Thursday. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I’ve had has been that, so that’s the assurance that I’ve gotten.”

A three-time Pro Bowler, Dalton agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $10 million deal. He can earn an additional $3 million in bonuses.

Dalton’s arrival is a big letdown for fans hoping the Bears would swing a blockbuster trade with Seattle for Russell Wilson. He is aware the reception he is getting is about as warm as a Chicago winter.

“Obviously I know there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m coming in from the outside,” Dalton said. “A lot of people don’t know a ton about me and are gonna get to learn a lot about me while I’m here. That’s all I’m worried about and so, I’m here now.

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“Hopefully everybody gets a chance to see who I am as a player, as a person, see what we’re gonna be able to do with this organization. I’m excited about the opportunity. Obviously there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m not worried about any of that.”

Dalton said he was in “constant contact with everybody” as the Bears tried to obtain Wilson from the Seahawks.

He was thrilled when it became clear there would be no trade, because he wanted to come to Chicago.

“When it wasn’t happening and this worked out for both of us to come together and for me to be a part of this team, I was ecstatic because I was hoping that was gonna be the case,” he said. “I knew everything that was going on.”

Dalton has thrown for 33,764 yards, 218 touchdowns and 126 interceptions over nine seasons with Cincinnati and one with Dallas. He led the Bengals to the playoffs his first five seasons after they drafted him out of TCU in the second round in 2011, but never won a postseason game.

He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and in 2014 and 2016. He set several Bengals passing records, but in more recent years, the offensive line deteriorated. So did the cast around him. His results suffered, too, and the Bengals released him in late April after drafting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick.

Dalton then signed with Dallas as a backup in early May. He wound up playing in 11 games and made nine starts with Dak Prescott suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5.

The Cowboys concluded 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.

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Cam Newton named Patriots starting QB, Team captain

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Patriots will hit opening day with a new starter under center. That starter is Cam Newton.

Newton was informed during a team meeting Thursday before practice, a league source confirmed to the Herald. He was also voted one of three offensive captains by his teammates.

Newton outperformed Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer throughout training camp for the right to succeed Tom Brady.

He accomplished a higher percentage of passes in live team periods than Hoyer and recorded half as many interceptions as Stidham, despite throwing double the number of passes.

Newton also adds a new dimension to the Pats’ run game, as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history.

He will lead the Patriots versus the Dolphins in their Sept. 13 season opener at Gillette Stadium at 1 p.m.

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The former MVP officially joined the Pats in early July after being released from Carolina, where he played the first nine years of his career. Faced with an unusually poor free-agent market, he signed a one-year, prove-it deal. From then on, Newton quickly won over teammates and coaches in Foxboro.

It started with his health. Injuries to Newton’s shoulder and foot prematurely ended his last two seasons and required surgery in Carolina. With the Patriots, Newton opened training camp in perfect health, showcasing a strong arm and dangerous running ability during practices.

Inside the locker room, teammates were drawn to his effervescence.

“Cam has been a joy to be around. He brings positive energy to work every day. He loves his job. He’s just a fun guy to be around,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said recently.

“I’m glad that we’ve gotten a chance to spend some time with him as a teammate and really get to know him.”

Over barely a summer, Newton has proven himself as a unique presence in the long, storied history of the franchise. He is the rare Patriot to become a captain in his first year during the Bill Belichick era. This week, Belichick said no player has worked harder.

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