Tagged in: tennessee

Julio Jones signing deal with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Veteran wide receiver Julio Jones has a new home, agreeing to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The seven-time Pro Bowler gives soon-to-be 45-year-old Tom Brady another weapon in Tampa, Florida, as Jones looks to rebound from a down season with the Tennessee Titans.

Jones joins a receiver group with the Bucs that contains holdovers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller and Breshad Perriman, and welcomed Russell Gage — like Jones, another former Falcon — this offseason. Godwin had offseason surgery on a torn ACL suffered late last season.

The Bucs opted not to put him on the PUP list to start training camp, but a source told ESPN that they will be careful with him before letting him practice.

Tampa Bay also brought on veteran Kyle Rudolph last week, a move to shore up its tight end spot in the wake of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.

The Titans released Jones in March, just one season after getting him in a trade from the Falcons.

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Tennessee dealt two draft picks to acquire him last year, hoping he would provide much-needed balance to its passing attack.

However, he appeared in just 10 games because of injuries and had career lows with 31 receptions for 434 yards and just one touchdown reception. It was the second consecutive season in which Jones was limited by injury. He appeared in just nine games for the Falcons in 2020.

The Falcons drafted Jones sixth overall in 2011, sending multiple picks to the Cleveland Browns to be able to take the Alabama standout. Atlanta, when it moved up to acquire Jones, traded its first-round pick in 2011 (No. 26), its second-round pick, two fourth-round picks and its 2012 first-round pick.

Jones, 33, is the Falcons’ career leader in catches (848) and yards (12,896) and is second to Roddy White in touchdown receptions (63). His 91.9 receiving yards per game is the best per-game average in NFL history.

He also leads the NFL in receiving yards since 2014, and Evans leads the NFL in touchdown catches (75) during that span. Now, they’re both on the same team.

Also Tuesday, the Bucs waived tight end Codey McElroy with an injury designation. A source told ESPN that McElroy will undergo foot surgery this week after dealing with the injury during the offseason.

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Jurij Rodionov drops Maxime Cressy at Dallas Open

Qualifier Jurij Rodionov of Austria beat sixth-seeded American Maxime Cressy of 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1 on Tuesday to advance to the round of 16 at the inaugural Dallas Open.

Paris-born Cressy was the first of the eight seeded players to lose his match. A former UCLA player, Cressy now lives in Hermosa Beach, California.

The only other seeded player on the courts was No. 7 Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks, California. Giron, another former UCLA Bruin, defeated countryman Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-4. The former collegiate player at Tennessee has been ranked as high as 41st in the world.

“I knew I would have to play well. I did a good job playing well on the important points,” Giron said.

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The top four seeds, all Americans — No. 1 Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, John Isner and Jenson Brooksby — had byes to the round of 16. On Wednesday, fifth-seed Adrian Mannarino of France will play a round of 32 match and No. 8 Brandon Nakashima of the U.S. will play in the round of 16.

Just two of the seven singles matches went to a third set.

Qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany outlasted American Denis Kudla 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3 and will face Opelka on Thursday.

Wild card Jack Sock, a Nebraska native, defeated German Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-4. Sock next will play on Thursday versus Fritz, who reached No. 20 in the world last month.

Qualifier Liam Broady of Great Britain defeated another German, Peter Gojowczyk, 6-1, 6-4, to advance to the round of 16 versus Giron on Wednesday.

Australian Jordan Thompson defeated Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3, and will meet Nakashima on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s final match went to Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-4, 6-4 over American Mitchell Krueger. Nishioka will advance to meet the winner of Mannarino’s match versus American Steve Johnson.

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Tennessee Titans extend contracts for head coach Mike Vrabel, GM Jon Robinson

The Titans announced Tuesday that they have extended the contracts of general manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel.

“I am proud to say that Jon and Mike will be leading our football team for years to come,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement.

“I have seen the team improve on a yearly basis under their direction, and I know their singular goal is to deliver a championship for our fans. Together they have developed a culture within our organization that has been essential to our success. Their values align with mine and what I want the Titans to be. They demand excellence from themselves and others, work well together, are always striving to improve and they care deeply for our players and staff.”

Vrabel joined the Titans in 2018 and matched Jack Pardee’s franchise record for wins (43) over the first four seasons with the team. Vrabel’s .614 career winning percentage (43-27, including playoffs) ranks the highest in franchise history.

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He led the team to the AFC Championship Game in 2019 and back-to-back AFC South titles over the past two campaigns. Vrabel earned Coach of the Year honors by the Pro Football Writers of America this past season after guiding the Titans to a 12-5 record and the top seed in the AFC.

Robinson joined the Titans in 2016 and helped lead them to a winning record in all six of his seasons in charge.

In that time, Robinson has become the second-winningest general manager in franchise history with 62 wins, trailing only Floyd Reese (111 wins).

During Robinson’s tenure with the Titans, the team has added nine Pro Bowl players to the roster through the draft (S Kevin Byard, RB Derrick Henry, WR A.J. Brown, DT Jeffery Simmons, OLB Harold Landry), free agency (G Rodger Saffold, ST Brynden Trawick) and trades (RB DeMarco Murray, QB Ryan Tannehill).

Additionally, the team added two coaches to its staff on Tuesday: Tim Kelly as passing game coordinator and Bobby King as inside linebackers coach.

Kelly joins the Titans after spending the past eight seasons with the Houston Texans, the last three of which were as the offensive coordinator. Before becoming the offensive coordinator, Kelly spent two seasons (2017-18) coaching the tight ends for the Texans.

King brings 12 years of NFL coaching experience to the Titans, counting eight seasons (2017-21, 2011-13) with the Texans. King coached the Texans’ defensive line this season after coaching the inside linebackers the previous four seasons.

The team also revealed that Jim Haslett (inside linebackers), Matt Edwards (assistant special teams), Kenechi Udeze (defensive line assistant) and Mondray Gee (strength and conditioning assistant) will not be returning to the coaching staff.

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AFC West rivals Chargers, Broncos face must-win situations

Two weeks ago the Los Angeles Chargers were feeling pretty secure about getting to the postseason for the first time since 2018.

After two consecutive losses though, their challenge is more formidable going into Sunday’s game versus the Denver Broncos.

“Now, it’s now or never. You don’t want to put it in everybody else’s hands; you want it to be in your hands,” Chargers defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. “We have to go out there and do what we have to do. We have to go out there and get it done this Sunday.”

The Chargers (8-7) got off to a 4-1 start under first-year coach Brandon Staley but have won consecutive games only once since mid-October. They have dropped their past two —a 34-28 overtime loss to Kansas City on Dec. 16 and an inexplicable 41-29 defeat at Houston last Sunday.

Staley’s message to his team this week has been about getting back to being consistent in practice and trying to approach things as normal as possible despite the evolving roster changes because of COVID-19.

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“You have to trust your plans and how you prepare. I think that’s what our approach is going to be this week, putting the focus on us and giving the Broncos their full respect by preparing each day the best that we know how. Regardless of the circumstances, treat each week like it has a life of its own,” Staley said.

The Chargers could get back into a wild-card spot with a win and losses by Miami to Tennessee and Baltimore to the Los Angeles Rams.

“Playoff games start now, and that’s the mindset,” wide receiver Keenan Allen said.

Denver (7-8) has won four of its past five against its division rival, including 28-13 on Nov. 28.

The Broncos started the season with three consecutive wins but have dropped three of their past four as their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

They need a win over the Chargers, coupled with victories by the Rams, Titans and Browns to go into next week’s regular-season finale against Kansas City with even a chance of getting back to the postseason for the first time since 2015, when they won their third Super Bowl title.

Another defeat would assure the Broncos of their fifth straight season under .500. Third-year coach Vic Fangio was on the hot seat going into the year and has tried to deflect talk about his job status during the latest slump.

“I’m not worried about do I have to win the next two to secure the job? That’s totally not in my frame of thought right now,” he said. “We’re going to do anything and everything we can to win this game this week.”

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Titans rally from 10 down at half, edge 49ers 20-17

Coach Mike Vrabel heard that his banged-up Tennessee Titans were being written off after the left side of their offensive line was ruled out a day before hosting the streaking San Francisco 49ers.

Then they lost their backup left tackle to a positive COVID-19 test Thursday morning, forcing them to use their 52nd different starter and 88th player this campaign.

“We’re not dead yet,” Vrabel said. Alive and kicking.

Randy Bullock booted a 44-yard field goal with 4 seconds left and the Titans rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat the 49ers 20-17 Thursday night. The Titans (10-5) are a win or a Colts’ loss away from clinching their second consecutive AFC South title despite losing three of their past four games to drop from the AFC’s top seed to third. Indianapolis plays Arizona on Saturday. Tennesse moved to second in the AFC.

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Ryan Tannehill threw for just 40 yards in the first half but finished with 209 yards and a TD for Tennessee. A.J. Brown caught 11 passes for 145 yards hours after being activated off injured reserve, and his 18-yard TD catch gave Tennessee a 17-10 lead early in the fourth.

“It was all on us and we just had to make a play,” Brown said. “Then we had to make another play. That was the mindset. Just come out here and make plays, so that’s what we did.”

The Titans also picked off two passes, sacked Jimmy Garoppolo twice and forced the Niners to turn it over on downs once.

San Francisco had one final chance. Garoppolo completed a 16-yard pass to Pro Bowl receiver Deebo Samuel, who fumbled, starting three laterals before Jayon Brown finally tackled Brandon Aiyuk to end the game.

The 49ers (8-7) lost for the second time in seven games as they try to hold onto a wild-card berth in the NFC. Their loss ensured a playoff berth for Dallas, which can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Washington on Sunday night.

Garoppolo tied it with a 2-yard TD pass to Brandon Aiyuk with 2:20 left, a score set up by a 56-yard catch-and-run by Samuel down to the Tennessee 6.

This was the Niners’ first loss after leading by 10 or more at halftime under coach Kyle Shanahan — they had been 18-0 in the regular season and playoffs with those leads. They hadn’t blown such a lead since Week 14 of 2016 to the Jets under Chip Kelly.

Garoppolo knows the Niners had their chances.

“It’s tough when you let one like this slip away,” Garoppolo said. The Niners led 10-0 at halftime, their first time shutting out an opponent in the first half since the 2019 NFC title game against Green Bay. That also marked four straight scoreless quarters for the Titans.

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Steelers try to keep playoff hopes alive as Titans visit

Ben Roethlisberger still considers the Pittsburgh Steelers have what it takes to be a playoff team.

Time is running out, however, to prove it.

“We’ve got to make a run,” Roethlisberger said.

At this point, one step in the right direction would be considered progress.

The Steelers (6-6-1) have been spinning their wheels for more than a month heading into a visit by AFC South-leading Tennessee (9-4) on Sunday, mired in a five-game funk in which they’ve won just once and been bullied in a way they haven’t been bullied in decades.

A defense that concluded third in the league last season is now in danger of finishing in the bottom 10 for the first time in 30 years.

While Roethlisberger and the rookie-laden offense have had their fair share of issues, it’s what’s happening on the other side of the ball that’s been far more alarming.

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Three times in the last month the Steelers have found themselves trailing by at least 17 points.

Twice they put together rallies to make it respectable, but respectable margins don’t count in the win column — though it’s telling of how wide open the underwhelming AFC North is that Pittsburgh finds itself in the mix as Christmas looms despite just two victories since Halloween.

“You can’t spend a lot of time looking at big-picture perspective,” Tomlin said.

Maybe because the smaller picture is so daunting. The Titans are in a position to win their second consecutive division title even without star running back Derrick Henry, who hasn’t played since October due to a foot injury. Tennessee has found a way despite having 50 different players start at least one game. Only New Orleans has had more.

Tennessee’s success is a testament to its depth and the steadying presence of coach Mike Vrabel. “Things haven’t been perfect for us up until this point, but we have ourselves in a good situation,” Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill said.

“Coach Vrabel has talked about this last two weeks and that is that we are just getting started. Have a lot of football out in front of us and we want to play our best football here down the stretch.”

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Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz has sprains to both his ankles, Frank Reich says

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz’s status for the key Week 3 AFC South game at Tennessee is up in the air because of two sprained ankles suffered versus the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, coach Frank Reich stated Monday.

Wentz’s most severe sprain occurred on his right ankle when he tried to scramble and was taken to the ground by Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald with less than eight minutes left in the game.

Wentz didn’t return after limping to the sideline and then throwing his helmet in frustration. Wentz sprained his left ankle earlier in the game, according to Reich.

The coach stated he still had to meet with the team medical staff to get a better indication about Wentz’s ankles.

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“I know Carson has a high threshold for pain,” Reich said. “When you have guy who is a pocket passer, it affects his game less than a guy who is a mobile quarterback. That’s not rocket science. My history with Carson is that he’s a pretty fast healer and he’s tough. If there’s any chance he can play with these ankle sprains, he’ll play. It’s an incredibly big game.”

Wentz is 45-of-69 for 498 yards with three touchdowns and an interception through the first two matches of the season.

The most alarming stat with Wentz is that he has been sacked six times and hit an additional 21 times in those two games. He has played a full season only twice since entering the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick in 2016.

Second-year quarterback Jacob Eason will start against the Titans if Wentz is inactive. Eason threw an interception on his second pass attempt after entering the game in Sunday’s 27-24 loss.

Eason found himself in a quarterback battle with rookie Sam Ehlinger to potentially be the starter when Wentz was out for three weeks while recovering from left foot surgery during training camp. The Colts have not started a season 0-3 since 2011.

“If Jacob has to play, Jacob will be ready,” Reich said. “The situation he got thrown into [late in Sunday’s game] was as tough as it gets. I can tell you that from experience. He’ll be ready if he has to be.”

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Atlanta Falcons trade Julio Jones to Tennessee Titans

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to star trade wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

In exchange for Jones, the Titans will send a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round selection to the Falcons. Along with Jones, the Falcons will send a 2023 sixth-round selection to the Titans.

The deal is pending a physical, the Titans stated.

Titans players Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown have expressed on social media their interest in having Jones as a teammate. Late last month, Brown posted a TikTok video to Jones explaining why the Titans would be the perfect fit for the star receiver.

The Titans lost two of their top pass-catchers in free agency as wide receiver Corey Davis signed with the New York Jets and tight end Jonnu Smith signed with the New England Patriots.

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Jones has been the subject of trade conversation over the past two months as Atlanta tries to remedy its salary-cap situation. On FS1 on May 24, Jones said, “I’m outta there,” when asked about the Falcons in a telephone call with Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show.

It is unclear whether Jones knew the phone call was being televised.

Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this season, was programmed to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

By moving him after June 1, it offers the Falcons relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

The Falcons drafted Jones sixth overall in the 2011 draft, trading a massive amount with Cleveland to be able to take the Alabama standout. Atlanta, when it moved up to acquire Jones, traded its first-round pick in 2011 (No. 26 overall), its second-round pick, two fourth-round picks and its 2012 first round pick.

Jones, 32, is the Falcons’ career leader in catches (848) and yards (12,896) and is second to Roddy White in touchdown receptions (63). His 95.5 receiving yards per game is the best per-game average in NFL history, almost 10 full yards better than first-ballot Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, who is second (86.1).

Jones, though, had one of his worst seasons in 2020, limited to nine matches because of injury with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. While his 15.1 yards per catch was his highest since 2017 and his catch percentage of 75 percent was the best of his career, his 85.7 yards per game was his lowest since 2012, his second year in the league.

The Falcons do have options to fill in for Jones. Calvin Ridley, whose fifth-year option Atlanta picked up in May, will slide into the No. 1 role, and a combination of 2021 first-round pick Kyle Pitts, Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus and sixth-round pick Frank Darby could see bigger roles with Jones elsewhere.

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Tennessee Titans place Adam Humphries back on NFL injured reserve list

Either Adam Humphries came back too soon or should not have come back at all.

Regardless, the Tennessee Titans placed the wide receiver on injured reserve, the team informed Tuesday. That means that – at best – Humphries won’t be available again until the final week of the regular season.

Humphries now will be unavailable for the stretch run for the second time in as many years. He missed the final four games of 2019 with an ankle injury. Tennessee went 2-2 without him and claimed the final AFC wild card spot. Humphries did not return to the lineup until the AFC Championship match at Kansas City.

“Never wanted to get injured when there’s not many games, but it happened and you can learn from every situation,” Humphries said during training camp. “I feel like I learned a lot by watching my team dominate the playoffs last year. I was happy to be able to help them out in the last game.”

This season, Humphries sustained a concussion Nov. 1 at Cincinnati, which caused him to miss the next four contests. He also sat out one game in October because he was on the COVID-19 reserve list.

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He returned to action Sunday versus Cleveland but caught just one pass for nine yards.

He was targeted four times. His failure to catch a pass thrown his way in the final minute of the third quarter resulted in an interception that effectively ended any realistic chance the Titans had to overcome a 31-point halftime deficit. They ultimately lost 41-35.

“We got stops on defense and we were able to move the ball and score,” coach Mike Vrabel said following the game. “Unfortunately, that one there, the interception kind of put a halt to the momentum that we had building there in the second half and really just cost us just the time and the not being able to score.”

In seven matches, Humphries caught 23 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. All but two of those receptions came in his first four appearances.

The Titans signed Humphries to a four-year, $36 million free agent contract in 2019 with the idea that he would be their primary slot receiver. Since, he has caught 60 passes for 602 yards and four touchdowns in 19 games.

Without him, Tennessee will look to Cameron Batson, who caught five passes for 35 yards in the four games Humphries missed the concussion. Versus the Browns, Batson set a career-high with three receptions and scored his first NFL touchdown, an 8-yard reception with 28 seconds to play.

The practice squad includes Cody Hollister, who has appeared in seven games since the beginning  of last season, and Chester Rogers, who played 53 games (22 starts) for Indianapolis over the past four seasons.

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