Tagged in: Super Bowl

Kansas City Chiefs’ Sammy Watkins optimistic about playing in Super Bowl

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins stated he is optimistic about playing in Super Bowl LV on Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing both previous playoff games because of a calf injury.

“Feeling great,” Watkins said Tuesday. “Still working out with the training staff and [athletic trainer Rick Burkholder], just going over everything so I can have a chance and possibly go out there and feel 100% or 95% or 85%, wherever I get at by Sunday. Feeling pretty good, very optimistic. Been having good practices.”

Watkins also missed six games during the regular season. He was fifth on the Chiefs with 37 receptions, 421 yards and two touchdowns.

In the final campaign of his contract, Watkins said he would listen if the team would like to re-sign him because he values winning and playing in Super Bowls over personal stats and money.

“I would say, let’s win this Super Bowl and see where my head will be at,” Watkins said. “It would definitely be something to think about. It would definitely be something I would talk to my wife and my kids about, to think about coming back. Would I love a third ring? For sure.

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“I would definitely not say no about it. … To come back and win a third one? Yeah. I don’t mind. I would definitely have to sit and think about it, see what my future holds.”

Watkins’ return would add another dimension to a dynamic Chiefs offense, led by last year’s Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“You never see him get rattled… You just see the calm guy that’s kind of like controlling the game,” Watkins said of his quarterback. “I think that’s what has taken this offense to a whole different level… I think we have an offense that understands now, if we just do the little things right, we can’t be stopped.”

The Chiefs punched their ticket to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance with a 38-24 victory over the Bills in the AFC Championship game.

The Bills traded up to get Watkins with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.  The team traded Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, along with a 2018 sixth-round draft pick, in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines, who opted out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and was released by the Bills in January.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Bruce Arians won’t retire even with Super Bowl win

Even if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win it all in Super Bowl LV, coach Bruce Arians stated there is no way he will consider retirement, despite already having retired once, after the 2017 season with the Arizona Cardinals.

“Hell no. I’m going for two,” Arians told 95.3 WDAE on Wednesday morning. “There’s no doubt. If the Glazers will have me back, I’ll be back.”

Arians has a five-year contract, but when he took the Buccaneers job during the 2019 offseason, many close to the 68-year-old coach questioned whether he would make it through the duration of his deal. Some had suggested he would coach three years before retiring for good.

But son Jake Arians told ESPN, “He’s having the time of his life.” Bruce Arians has dealt with several health issues over the past 15 years. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, had skin cancer cells removed from his nose in 2013, and has been rushed to the hospital — in August 2016 thinking he had a kidney stone and in November 2016 with chest pains.

He was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, a type of cancer affecting the kidneys, and had to have part of his kidney removed in 2017.

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But being able to delegate more has lowered his stress levels. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has handled playcalling duties during Arians’ entire time in Tampa Bay, whereas Arians called plays himself in Arizona. He continues to get checkups and has had a clean bill of health.

He still has his sense of humor, which helps too.

Asked what he would have said if general manager Jason Licht had told him prior to his joining the team in 2019 that the Buccaneers would be in the Super Bowl in two years and would have Tom Brady as their quarterback, Arians said, “What are you smoking or drinking? And get me some.”

Arians did, however, express disappointment about Leftwich not getting any head-coaching interviews. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles and had some preliminary discussions with the Detroit Lions, though both sides decided it was best to cancel the interview.

“That really pissed me off, I’ll be honest with ya,” Arians said of Leftwich not getting interviews. “The job he’s done — he coaches quarterbacks, he calls plays, he’s everything everybody says they’re looking for — I was really hoping he’d get his first few interviews and maybe get a job out of it. But I can’t speak to what the owners think and who they listen to sometimes. But it’s just a matter of time before he gets his.”

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New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas likely to have multiple surgeries on ankle

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas is likely to have surgeries on the torn deltoid and other injured ligaments in his ankle that plagued him all campaign, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The expectation is that Thomas would be recovered in time for summer OTAs under a normal offseason calendar, the source said.

Thomas first suffered the high ankle injury in the final minutes of Week 1 and missed a total of nine games in the regular season. But the source said he knew it was likely Drew Brees’ last season and didn’t want to miss out on trying to win a Super Bowl with him.

Thomas often wouldn’t practice all week, yet would still play in games, at much less than 100% and with pain medication, the source said. The coaches told him that, even as injured as he was, they were much better off with him than without him.

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Thomas went on injured reserve from Weeks 15-17 to try to get as healthy as he could for the playoffs. He returned with five catches for 73 yards and his first touchdown of the season in the wild-card playoff victory over the Chicago Bears.

However, he had zero catches on four targets in the divisional round playoff loss to Tampa Bay — including a near-touchdown in which his knee was ruled out of bounds.

Thomas also missed Weeks 2-8 after first suffering the injury, then being disciplined for one game for a practice altercation that included him punching teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and then suffering a hamstring injury during his recovery.

He concluded the regular season with 40 catches for 438 yards and zero touchdowns in seven games — just one season after setting the NFL record with 149 catches in 2019. He did, however, have two games with nine catches and more than 100 yards receiving during Taysom Hill’s four-game stint at QB while Brees was sidelined by injuries of his own.

Thomas’ 510 career receptions are the most by a player in the first five seasons of his NFL career.

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Ex-Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reaches deal to become Dallas Cowboys DC

The Dallas Cowboys have hired Dan Quinn to be their next defensive coordinator, the team informed Monday night.

Quinn agreed to a three-year deal, a source told ESPN, matching the length of Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s new contract. Both coordinators will be signed through the 2023 season.

Quinn takes over for Mike Nolan, who was fired last week by head coach Mike McCarthy, and inherits a defense that had one of the worst seasons in Cowboys history.

Quinn was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons five games into the 2020 campaign after having held the job since 2015. He posted a 43-42 record and took the Falcons to the Super Bowl in his second season.

Going with Quinn signals a return to the scheme the Cowboys employed from 2013 to 2019 under Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard.

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Quinn, 50, was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014, before becoming Atlanta’s head coach.

He employed a 4-3 scheme that mostly used a single-high safety look and helped the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The Seahawks finished No. 1 in yards and points allowed in his two campaigns.

Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones was eager to move away from the scheme the Cowboys used in McCarthy’s first year because he thought it was too simplistic. Nolan brought in a hybrid defense designed to use multiple coverages and disguises to confuse offenses, but that never really happened.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nolan and the defensive staff had to implement their new defense virtually, without any benefit of on-field work until a shortened training camp started. The early results were disastrous, with the Cowboys allowing at least 34 points in five of the first six games.

Nolan simplified the scheme early in the season, but the defense never really took hold. The Cowboys permitted the most points in franchise history (473) and concluded with the 31st-ranked run defense.

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Green Bay Packers claim Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison off waivers

Another run-stopper is on the way to the Green Bay Packers to perhaps help them evade getting run out of the playoffs like last campaign.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst claimed Damon “Snacks” Harrison off waivers on Wednesday, according to the NFL transaction wire.

The Packers did not informed the move.

The Seahawks waived the 32-year-old defensive tackle on Monday after Harrison requested his release. All players waived at this point in the season are subject to waivers, and Harrison said in a tweet after his release that he was not interested in getting claimed.

However, in response to a tweet that suggested he might actually play for the Packers given that they’re a Super Bowl team and one that was on his list of teams he planned to meet with before he signed with Seattle earlier this season, Harrison responded with a one-word tweet that read: “Bingo.”

A source told ESPN that Harrison assured the Packers he would report to and play for Green Bay.

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The Packers rank 14th in rushing yards permitted but 24th in yards per carry — a slight improvement over last season. But their run defense let them down in the NFC Championship Game, when the San Francisco 49ers rushed for 285 yards en route to the Super Bowl.

If the Packers (12-3) triumph Sunday’s regular-season finale versus the Chicago Bears, they would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have a first-round playoff bye. Even if they have to play on wild-card weekend, they could get Harrison through the COVID-19 protocols and ready for that weekend.

They were granted a roster exemption for Harrison.

The Seahawks signed Harrison to the practice squad Oct. 7 and he made his first appearance in a game on Nov. 15 versus the Los Angeles Rams. He played 138 total snaps in six games before he requested his release.

At the time, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was under the impression that Harrison no longer wanted to play. “He’s decided to stop playing,” Carroll said Monday during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“He’s done playing. I talked to him this morning. He’s in good spirits and all of that. He’s really grateful for the opportunity in playing here, and he did really well by us, but he just … he’s done.”

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Kansas City Chiefs clinch No. 1 seed in AFC as Travis Kelce sets records

Earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC hasn’t resulted in Super Bowl success for the Kansas City Chiefs in the past, but they hope it puts them on the path to a championship this time around.

The Chiefs clinched the AFC’s top seed Sunday by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 17-14 at Arrowhead Stadium. The 14-1 Chiefs, who have won 10 consecutive games, will receive the AFC’s only first-round playoff bye and will play their divisional-round game at Arrowhead.

“It’s one of your goals when you go into the season,” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson with 1:55 left to rally the Chiefs to a surprisingly difficult win over the 4-11 Falcons. “If you look at the history of that bye week, usually it’s a good thing for teams trying to make a championship run.”

In the victory, Travis Kelce became the first tight end to have two 100-catch seasons. Kelce caught seven passes, giving him 105. Kelce also set the single-season yardage record for a tight end. He had 98 yards, giving him 1,467. The San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle held the previous record with 1,377 yards, set in 2018.

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“To get a week of preparation, a week of really locking in and getting the body right that late in the season is so key, and it’s much needed if you want to make that playoff push,” Kelce said. “That’s what you work your tail off for all season. I’m just proud to be a part of this team and be able to do it again this year.”

The AFC’s No. 1 seed hasn’t represented the conference in the Super Bowl in either of the past two campaigns.

The Chiefs have been the AFC’s top playoff seed three times but failed to reach the Super Bowl in any of those seasons. In 1995 and 1997, they lost their divisional-round playoff game at home. In 2018, they lost the AFC Championship Game at home in overtime to the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs were the No. 2 seed last year on their way to a Super Bowl LIV championship. The Chiefs concluded the regular season next Sunday versus the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead. Since the game will be meaningless with regard to the standings and their playoff seed, they are likely to rest some of their top players, including Mahomes and Kelce.

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Chiefs start title defense with 34-20 victory over Texans

Just about the only thing that looked familiar about the NFL’s long-awaited return Thursday night was the sight of Patrick Mahomes effortlessly leading the Kansas City Chiefs up and down the field.

The Super Bowl MVP threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran through the rain for 138 yards and another score, and the Chiefs started defense of their first championship in 50 years by defeating the Houston Texans 34-20 on Thursday night before a socially distanced crowd of about 17,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill each caught TD passes for the Chiefs. They have won 10 consecutive dating to last season. That run includes a come-from-behind 51-31 victory over the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

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The Texans’ Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, but he also was under relentless pressure and was intercepted once.

David Johnson provided the biggest bright spot for Houston, running for 77 yards and a score.

The world has changed dramatically in the seven months since the Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Miami.

Within six weeks, the term COVID-19 had become a part of everyday life, the disease killing more than 900,000 people around the globe. The death of George Floyd at the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer in May touched off the Black Lives Matter movement, which in turn has led to a summer of social unrest that has gripped the country.

Against that backdrop came an NFL opener unlike any other: masks worn by everyone from fans to the coaching staffs; a series of videos raising awareness of social justice initiatives and encouraging the public to vote; and ultimately both teams locking arms in a display of unity previous to the coin toss.

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Browns sign ex-super bowl MVP Malcolm Smith

The Browns have found some linebacker depth to help ease the loss of Mack Wilson, who might still make it back this campaign.

They signed eight-year pro Malcolm Smith, a former Super Bowl MVP of Seahawks. In a 43-8 triumph over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII after the 2013 season, Smith totaled 10 tackles, one fumble recovery, and an interception for a touchdown.

Not a bad haul for a seventh-round pick out of Southern California in 2011. Smith has appeared in 104 regular season games with the Seahawks (2011-14) Raiders (2015-16), 49ers (2017-18), Jaguars (2019) and Cowboys (2019).

He has 295 career tackles, 10 forced fumbles, six sacks, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.  To make room for him on the roster, the Browns waived center Casey Dunn, who left Saturday’s practice with a foot injury.

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The Browns are still expecting that Wilson, who suffered a hyperextended knee Tuesday, can come back in a reasonable timeframe this season.

A source told cleveland.com that Mack ‘definitely has an opportunity to return this season and that he might not need season-ending knee surgery.

Wilson ‘definitely has a chance’ to return this season; Kevin Johnson could be back fairly early

Wilson passed the COVID-19 testing protocol and practiced with the team Sunday afternoon. It was switched to a non-padded practice when it was first canceled and then postponed.

Guys like Mack Wilson, Tae Davis, and Willie Harvey, who were day three draft picks or undrafted players, can learn some tips and tricks about going from being a barely making the roster type of guy to a long eight-year career.

Mostly a career backup, he won’t be a great starter for the team. The Browns linebacker room is still likely the biggest question mark on the roster, and will probably be addressed yet again next offseason.

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Chiefs Patrick Mahomes agree to 10 year contract extension

Patrick Mahomes, a year removed from his first league MVP award and just four months after leading the Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl LIV, is about to cash in on his early success. Mahomes, the first player in league history to win league and Super Bowl MVP honors before his 25th birthday, has come to terms on a 10-year deal with the Chiefs, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The contract is reportedly the richest deal in NFL history. Also, per Schefter, Mahomes’ 10-year extension is worth $450 million with a $140 million injury guarantee. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports Mahomes’ 10-year extension will be guided by a mechanism that ensures the quarterback’s annual salary never drops below certain cap thresholds — in other words it will always be above a certain percentage of the NFL’s salary cap.

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It is unusual to see a contract extension of this length  — and with those clauses and parameters — but it’s also rare to see a quarterback accomplish what Mahomes has this few years into his career. Back in January, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Chiefs were formulating to offer Mahomes a record-setting contract that would pay him at least $40 million a season.

The 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mahomes was entering the final original year of his four-year, $16.4 million rookie contract.

The Chiefs did pick up his fifth-year option back in April.  Had Mahomes played under his fifth-year option in 2021, he would have made $24,837,000, according to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry. Mahomes is now slated to join the list of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks.

In terms of annual salary, Russell Wilson currently holds the title as the league’s highest-paid quarterback, receiving an annual salary fo $35 million. The league’s other top-paid passers involve Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million), Jared Goff ($33.5 million), Kirk Cousins ($33 million), Carson Wentz ($32 million), Dak Prescott ($31.4 million) and Matt Ryan ($30 million), according to Over the Cap. 

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49ers RB Tevin Coleman has dislocated right shoulder

Head coach Kyle Shanahan exposed Monday at his press conference that running back Tevin Coleman suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the 49ers’ NFC Championship victory over the Packers.

Coleman sustained the injury around the nine-minute mark of the second quarter after falling awkwardly on his arm. He was carted off the field and did not return to the match. Despite the injury, Shanahan said that he “expects him to have a good chance to play” in the Super Bowl.

The 49ers didn’t miss Coleman versus the Packers, with Raheem Mostert rushing for 220 yards, the second-most in NFL playoff history, and four touchdowns. Imaging from Coleman’s MRI is still to be determined, but as of right now it doesn’t appear that Coleman will miss the Super Bowl.

A shoulder dislocation is not generally known as a long-term injury, so it’s really about the pain tolerance of Coleman.

It’s doubtful the former back for the Atlanta Falcons will rule himself out now that he has returned to the Super Bowl along with Shanahan after four years. 

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Along with Coleman’s injury, safety Jaquiski Tartt “irritated the same area” where he sustained a fractured rib injury. There isn’t much concern regarding his availability in the Super Bowl, but it is something to keep a close eye on. Tartt’s injury will also be about pain management. 

Rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw came up gimpy late in the game and revealed in the locker room that he suffered an ankle sprain. Shanahan confirmed the injury and that it is being ruled as a “mild ankle sprain.” Just like with Tartt, there should be no issues with his availability. 

The three injured players have two weeks to get their bodies right and figure out how to manage the pain. Things could change with Coleman once the MRI results come in, but it is going to take something serious to prevent these guys from playing in the Super Bowl versus the Chiefs.

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