Tagged in: tight end

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen ruled out

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker will not play in Thursday night’s game versus the Los Angeles Chargers due to an ankle injury.

The Chargers, meanwhile, will be without starting wide receiver Keenan Allen, who suffered a hamstring injury in Los Angeles’ Week 1 triumph over the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Chiefs listed Butker as out — as did the Chargers with Allen and tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) — for the game on their final injury report of the week.

The Chiefs this week signed former New York Jets kicker Matt Ammendola to their practice squad, and he could be elevated to their active roster in time for Thursday night’s game.

Ammedola, who kicked for the Chiefs during their only practice session of the week on Tuesday, made 13 of 19 field goals for the Jets last season.

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Butker injured his left ankle on a kickoff during Sunday’s win versus the Cardinals in Arizona. Coach Andy Reid blamed the injuries to Butker and cornerback Trent McDuffie on what he said was loose turf on the recently re-sodded field in Arizona.

McDuffie was placed on injured reserve this because of a hamstring injury.

After his injury, Butker made three PATs and a 54-yard field goal. Safety Justin Reid handled kickoffs and went 1-of-2 on PATs.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley had stated Tuesday that it wasn’t “looking great” that Allen, who has been selected to five Pro Bowls in his career, would be able to play on Thursday night. Allen had four catches for 66 yards before departing in the first half on Sunday because of his injury.

With Allen out, expect receivers Joshua Palmer, DeAndre Carter and Jalen Guyton to see increased opportunity.

Also, Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson was limited Wednesday and is officially questionable. He has a “50-50” chance of playing, Staley said earlier this week.

“He’s improving,” Staley said Tuesday. “He’s headed in the right direction, but I think there is still a lot to be decided before game time on Thursday night.” Jackson underwent ankle surgery on Aug. 23 and was given a two-to-four week timetable to return. He was inactive versus the Raiders.

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Lamar Jackson’s return to Baltimore Ravens practice ‘boosts everybody’s spirits’

Lamar Jackson made an impressive return to the Baltimore Ravens, receiving positive reviews after his first practice of the offseason.

Jackson looked comfortable and had good velocity on his throws, and teammates expressed excitement over seeing him on the field for the first time in six months.

“I think everybody knows that Lamar, he’s what drives our team,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said Tuesday. “The energy around him being here lifts everybody up.”

Jackson, who is scheduled to talk to reporters Thursday, skipped all three weeks of the voluntary workouts before reporting Monday. He hasn’t given a reason for his absence.

The last time Jackson was on the field with Baltimore was Dec. 29, when he tried to practice with a pronounced limp. He missed the final four games with a right ankle injury, as Baltimore failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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On Tuesday, it seemed like old times with Jackson. He moved around well, threw his usual sidearm passes and connected frequently with Andrews, including on a 30-yard pass while on the run. Teammates noticed Jackson’s passes were tight spirals and had some extra zip on them.

“He’s physically in very good shape. I thought his arm looked really good,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “You can see he’s been throwing a lot. You can see he’s in great physical condition. It’s great to have him out there. He kind of boosted everybody’s spirits, too.”

Jackson appeared comfortable on the field despite not attending the nine previous practices.

There was only one instance where the team had to huddle again because there was confusion about a play.

But what upset Jackson the most was throwing two interceptions to safety Tony Jefferson.

“He’s a competitor,” Harbaugh said. “He’s mad about some passes here and there.”

Jackson is entering his fifth-year option, which will pay him $23.016 million this season. If the sides are unable to reach an extension by March 7, Baltimore is expected to place the franchise tag on him.

“He’s the ultimate pro,” Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. “He prepares and handles his business the way you’re supposed to. Just being a young guy, he’s so mature. He understands how to do things the right way.”

The Ravens also announced they reached an injury settlement with defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and will release him. This comes one day after Wolfe announced he had his second hip surgery of the year.

Wolfe was solid in 2019, when the Ravens went 14-2. But he was sidelined all of last season with hip and back injuries. “So that’ll be it with that,” Harbaugh said of Wolfe.

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Mike McCarthy not sure if TE Dalton Schultz will attend Dallas Cowboys’ minicamp

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is not sure whether franchise-tagged tight end Dalton Schultz will participate in next week’s mandatory minicamp.

McCarthy stated Schultz informed him last week he would not be at this week’s final voluntary organized team activities with hopes of jumpstarting negotiations toward a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline.

“You have business situations that happen all the time in this league, so had a long talk with him on Friday about it,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see what next week brings.”

If Schultz does not practice, he would be subject to fines totaling more than $95,000. Per the collective bargaining agreement, a player is subject to maximum daily fines of $15,980, $31,961 and $47,936 for each day of a missed mandatory practice.

Schultz signed the $10.9 million tender not long after the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on him in March. He said earlier this offseason he would let his agent, Steve Caric, handle the negotiations with the club. According to multiple sources, the two sides have yet to have meaningful discussions toward a contract.

The Cleveland Browns recently signed David Njoku to a four-year $57 million contract that included $28 million in guarantees after putting the franchise tag on him. Njoku caught 36 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns last year, compared to 78 receptions for 808 yards and eight touchdowns for Schultz.

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In his past two seasons, Schultz has 141 receptions for 1,423 yards and 12 touchdowns, developing into a security blanket for Dak Prescott.

“I mean Dalton’s been here every single day since the season’s been completed. I don’t think there’s been a week where I haven’t seen Dalton, so yeah I’m not worried about his commitment or what he’s done,” McCarthy stated.

“He’s in great shape. If he was standing here he would tell you this is the strongest he’s ever been. So he’s put a tremendous amount of work into the offseason. I think it’s clearly why I separate it. It’s business. It’s business that he’s tending to and it’s understood. But to think that he hasn’t done the work would not be accurate.”

McCarthy said he does not balance business and football when it comes to players.

“I think they’re two different entities,” McCarthy said. “Business is business and I’m in the business of winning football games. So we all have contracts. We all have these type of situations that they come about. Timing obviously plays into these decisions and transactions. Now, as head coach, it takes you a few to get used to it, but I think you have to learn to separate things in this world. It’s too competitive. There’s too much work to be done. Dalton deserves this position that he’s in. So hopefully we can get it worked out.”

Without a multiyear agreement in place by July 15, Schultz would have to play the season under the tag.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft tight end, but GM says that won’t affect potential Rob Gronkowski return

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did select a tight end to start the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday — taking Washington’s Cade Otton with the 106th overall pick — general manager Jason Licht stated that would not affect the status of Rob Gronkowski, who remains undecided about playing in 2022.

“I’m still giving him that time,” Licht said Friday night prior to the Buccaneers’ selection.

“We still talk. I think it didn’t matter if we drafted two tight ends. It wouldn’t matter. I think Rob welcomes that; the more the merrier for him. So that doesn’t show our hand on or foretell what’s going to happen in the future.”

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Speaking from his “Gronk Beach” party at the NFL draft in Las Vegas, Gronkowski told TMZ that he was still undecided on his future but that the Buccaneers are the only team he would contemplate playing for next season.

“It’s just the Bucs,” Gronkowski said. “Love that organization, man. Love the guys there. It’s family over there.”

Gronkowski is still living in Tampa, Florida, and has worked out at the Buccaneers’ facility this offseason two days per week to stay in shape.

Otton, who had 695 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 39 matches for the Huskies, helps offset not only the potential loss of Gronkowski but also the loss of former first-round draft pick O.J. Howard, who signed with the Buffalo Bills in free agency.

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New York Giants release tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Devontae Booker

The New York Giants have releasing veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Devontae Booker, the team revealed Wednesday.

“Certainly not the year any of us expected, but a year we will never forget,” Rudolph wrote earlier Wednesday in social media posts. “… Thanks to everyone in the building who took in and helped this old guy who needed to relearn everything about a new organization.”

Rudolph texted ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he is not retiring and intends to play next season. Rudolph, 32, had just 26 catches for 257 yards with a touchdown in his only year with the Giants.

It was one of the least productive seasons of an accomplished career in which he made two Pro Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings in 2012 and ’17.

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His release was a rather easy decision for the Giants and a new regime led by general manager Joe Schoen, who stated Tuesday the team would have to make “tough” decisions to reach his goal of cutting $40 million off the salary cap.

Rudolph was arranged to count $7.4 million against the cap this year. The Giants save $5 million with the move, even if it includes $2.4 million in dead money.

By releasing Booker, who averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season, the Giants will save an additional $2 million.

New York will need to address the tight end position in free agency and/or the draft. Starter Evan Engram also is scheduled to be a free agent.

The signing of Rudolph was questionable from the start by former general manager Dave Gettleman. After agreeing to terms on a two-year deal worth $12 million last offseason, it was discovered that Rudolph would need surgery on a foot injury that limited him the previous season.

The Giants, however, decided to honor the contract and Rudolph missed the entire spring and most of the summer. He never really hit his stride in New York as it appeared he lost a step while struggling to create separation — averaging just 2.9 yards per separation, per NextGen Stats. He averaged 4.0 yards and 3.4 yards of separation in the two previous seasons.

Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame, had spent the previous 10 seasons with the Vikings. Only his rookie season and 2014 — when he missed almost half the year with injuries — was he less productive than this past season.

He has 479 catches for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns in his professional career.

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Lions C Frank Ragnow has season-ending toe injury

The Detroit Lions continue to suffer a rash of injuries, with Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow now set to undergo season-ending toe surgery, a source confirmed to ESPN.

NFL Network was first to report that Ragnow met with Dr. Robert Anderson to get confirmation on the best course of action to treat the injury.

Ragnow was already on the injured reserve list for what Lions coach Dan Campbell described as a “version of turf toe.”

He suffered the injury during the first half of Detroit’s Week 4 loss at Chicago. The team also lost outside linebacker Romeo Okwara to a season-ending Achilles injury in that same match.

Ragnow earned his first Pro Bowl berth last campaign and became the NFL’s highest-paid center this offseason.

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The winless Lions have suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses on last-second field goals while being hit with an onslaught of injuries. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus (collarbone), wide receiver Tyrell Williams (concussion) and cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) and Jeff Okudah (Achilles) among others, are all on the injured reserve list.

The Lions (0-5) host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) on Sunday.

Ragnow’s injury is one of many ailments that have taken some of the team’s top players off the active roster.

The team placed receiver Quintez Cephus on the injured list Tuesday and added receiver Javon McKinley to the practice squad to replace tight end Jared Pinkney.

Cephus, who broke his collarbone after making a catch versus the Vikings, leads the team with 13.6 yards per catch and is its only wide receiver averaging 40 yards receiving per game.

Ragnow and Cephus joined a long list of hurt players. Linebacker Romeo Okwara had a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah, left tackle Taylor Decker, rookie defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu and wide receiver Tyrell Williams are on injured reserve with a total of 13 players.

Decker is eligible to return and coach Dan Campbell stated the veteran will probably rejoin the starting offense at left tackle with rookie Penei Sewell shifting back to the right side.

In May, the Lions signed Ragnow to a $54 million, four-year extension that keeps him under contract for a total of $70 million through the 2026 season. He earned second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition last year.

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Miami Dolphins OL Austin Jackson, TE Adam Shaheen hit reserve/COVID-19 list

The Miami Dolphins placed offensive lineman Austin Jackson and tight end Adam Shaheen on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, sources told ESPN’s Field Yates, potentially leaving them short-handed as the team prepares for its Week 1 match versus the New England Patriots.

The Dolphins confirmed the moves Monday and also elevated cornerback Jamal Perry as a COVID-19 replacement.

“We think he can help us,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “At the end of the day we’re going to do what we feel is best for the team and bring guys up who can help us. We felt that way about him so we brought him up.”

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The NFL Network reported that Shaheen tested positive for COVID-19, which means he’ll miss Sunday’s game as he is unvaccinated and must quarantine for 10 days, according to NFL policy. It is not yet clear whether Jackson is on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a result of contact tracing or a positive test.

Jackson started 12 games as a rookie in 2020 after being selected 18th overall by the Dolphins.

He was slated to once again start at left tackle for Miami this season.

For Shaheen, who came to Miami via trade last offseason, this marks a second stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list in as many months after he was deemed a close contact in August.

Shaheen has also vocally opposed getting the vaccine, calling his decision “bigger than just COVID.”

“For me, it’s a personal choice, and it’s bigger than just COVID,” he said. “The NFL is trying to push it. … I’m going to continue to go through the protocols of the unvaccinated that they make me do. I’m not going to get fined.

“But they’re not going to strong-arm me into doing something for more freedom when this is such a changing atmosphere, and they’re already taking away freedoms of the unvaccinated guys.”

“I would never question Adam’s commitment to the team,” Flores stated. As for Jackson, if he is unable to meet the requirements to move off the reserve/COVID list, Flores said, “We’ve got a few different options.”

The Dolphins plan to work different combinations of linemen in practice this week and Flores called potential replacement Greg Little a “hard-working kid” who has “had some bright moments in the couple weeks that he’s been here.”

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Minnesota Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. likely to miss season after undergoing surgery on meniscus

Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a meniscus injury, according to coach Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer did not give a timeline for Smith’s return but acknowledged that the Vikings are preparing for the third-year tight end to miss the whole season.

“We knew it was probably going to be a little while anyway,” Zimmer said. “Those are all part of things you have to plan for.”

Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Smith is facing a recovery timetable of 4-5 months. The Vikings placed Smith on the reserve/injured list later Wednesday.

Zimmer stated Monday that Smith was injured during Minnesota’s preseason finale at Kansas City, although it’s difficult to discern how and when he suffered the injury. The tight end was on the field for only 11 plays, and there was no noticeable moment where he appeared to get hurt.

“Sometimes injuries are like that,” Zimmer said. “You [don’t know] until you get in there. Honestly, with Danielle [Hunter] last year, that was about as insignificant as you can imagine. Then you get in and X-ray and MRI and do all those things and find out it’s more significant than you think.”

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Smith was primed for a breakout season at the time of his injury, having risen to the top of the Vikings’ depth chart at tight end after the departure of Kyle Rudolph during free agency. With Rudolph injured during the final four matches of the 2020 season, Smith stepped in and recorded three touchdowns on 20 targets, finishing the year with 30 catches for 365 yards and five scores.

“He’s just a great football player, and there’s no reason to think he wasn’t going to have a great year, but he’s got a lot of good football ahead of him,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “I would expect, whenever he’s back, the same great player that he was last year and that he was this August.”

According to Zimmer, team doctor Dr. Christopher Larsen repaired Smith’s injured meniscus instead of removing it, which could have led the tight end to develop an arthritic knee condition. Meniscus repair involves a longer recovery than a clean-up type procedure but will benefit the long-term health of Smith’s knee.

On Tuesday, the Vikings made a move to mitigate the loss of Smith, signing veteran tight end Chris Herndon and a 2022 sixth-round pick from the New York Jets for a 2022 fourth-round selection.

Minnesota also claimed former Jacksonville tight end Ben Ellefson on Wednesday.

After critiquing his team’s tight end depth as “not very good,” Zimmer said the Vikings would be looking to add additional players as they constructed the initial 53-man roster. Herndon spent three seasons with the Jets and found himself on the trading block after falling down the depth chart during training camp.

Last season, Herndon struggled with drops and fumbles and transitioned into more of a blocking tight end. He bounced back toward the end of 2020, recording 31 catches for 287 yards and three touchdowns.

Minnesota will also lean on its No. 2 tight end, Tyler Conklin, in Smith’s absence. Conklin returned to practice this week after dealing with a hamstring injury he classified as “minor.”

Like Smith, the 2018 fifth-round pick had a strong showing at the end of the 2020 season. Conklin finished his third year with 19 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown and developed into a consistent blocker.

Even if Smith had been able to play this season, the Vikings didn’t see specific responsibilities he would handle versus Conklin, which could bode well for this offense as it tries to compensate for the loss of its potential breakout star tight end.

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New York Giants sign former first-rounder Kelvin Benjamin

The New York Giants have signed former Carolina Panthers first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin, the team revealed Sunday.

Benjamin and former Philadelphia Eagles running back and Super Bowl hero Corey Clement impressed over the weekend during tryouts at rookie minicamp and received one-year deals.

A wide receiver who had more than 1,000 yards as a rookie for the Panthers in 2013, Benjamin has not played in the NFL since 2018. He worked primarily as a tight end at the tryout.

“In terms of Benjamin working a different position [Friday], we’re going to work different guys at a variety of things right now,” Giants coach Joe Judge said.

“He’s a big guy. He’s always been a big receiver. He’ll work receiver. He’s working a little bit flex tight end as well. “I wouldn’t really kind of, you know, pin him down to any one position at this point. We’re going to use the weekend to move him around to different spots and see how it works out.”

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Benjamin would join a crowded tight end room along with Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. The Giants also are deep at wide receiver after adding Kenny Golladay and John Ross in free agency and drafting Kadarius Toney in the first round.

This will make it tough for Benjamin to eventually land a spot on the final roster, regardless of position.

It was just three years ago during a Monday Night Football broadcast that ESPN analyst Booger McFarland famously declared Benjamin was “probably a Popeyes biscuit away from being a tight end.”

Benjamin, 30, has spent time with the Panthers, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. He has 209 career receptions for 3,021 yards and 20 touchdowns. The 28th overall pick in 2014 was drafted in Carolina by current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman.

Clement, 26, spent the first four campaigns of his professional career with the Eagles. He has been slowed in recent years by injury but is best known for his performance in Super Bowl LII, when he had 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ upset win over the New England Patriots.

Clement also helped execute the Philly Special, a trick play that resulted in a touchdown reception by quarterback Nick Foles.

The Giants needed veteran depth at running back. With Saquon Barkley coming back from a serious knee injury, the Giants signed Devontae Booker as a free agent and drafted Gary Brightwell in the sixth round.

New York also announced that it had waived running back Jordan Chunn and tight end Nate Wieting.

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