Tagged in: week 1

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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Carolina Panthers name Baker Mayfield as starting QB for Week 1 vs. Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield insists this is not a “redemption year,” but he will make his first start at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers versus the team that gave up on him.

The Panthers on Monday named Mayfield the starter for the Sept. 11 opener against the Cleveland Browns, who moved on from the first pick of the 2018 draft after trading with the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson.

Watson will not play in the opener after being suspended by the NFL for the first 11 games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, so it will be Mayfield against Jacoby Brissett.

Mayfield won what the Panthers described as an open competition against 2021 starter Sam Darnold, although league sources said the job was his to lose all along.

“When we started the process, we said we were looking at three things,” coach Matt Rhule said. “No. 1, mastery of the offense; No. 2, situational football excellence; and No. 3, moving the ball and getting guys involved.

“Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time.”

Mayfield stated last week during joint practices versus the New England Patriots that he wasn’t worried about when the decision would be made.

“I’ve said it before, the locker room and the organization is going to go as the QB room goes, and as long as we’re leading correctly and we’re supporting each other, good things are going to happen,” Mayfield said. “So we’re not worried about when that’s going to happen, just trying to get better each day.”

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Mayfield never lost confidence after Cleveland gave up on him.

“It’s not a redemption year,” he said. “I know what I’m capable of. I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody else. I’m just trying to lead this locker room the best I can and win a bunch of ballgames.”

Carolina hopes to get the 2020 version of Mayfield, who went 11-5 and won a playoff game for the Browns with 26 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner struggled to a 6-8 record last season with 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while dealing with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.

The Panthers started looking to upgrade at quarterback almost immediately after the 2021 season, when Darnold went 4-7 as the starter. They were among four teams aggressively going after Watson, who at the time had 24 lawsuits of sexual misconduct filed against him.

When Watson signed with the Browns, the Panthers explored the possibility of trading for Mayfield around the draft before adding Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral in the third round. The holdup was Cleveland’s unwillingness to the majority of Mayfield’s 2022 salary of $18.9 million.

That changed in early July when Cleveland agreed to pay $10.5 million of the contract, leaving the Panthers $4.58 million after Mayfield agreed to take a $3.5 million cut with the potential to earn that back in incentives.

Being named the starter is the first step in reaching those incentives, 70% of the snaps, according to a league source.

Mayfield wasn’t handed the job immediately. He and Darnold split repetitions evenly through the first three weeks of training camp.

But as Mayfield quickly learned offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system, it became apparent he was going to earn the job. Even McAdoo, who rated Mayfield the sixth-best quarterback in the 2018 draft and had questions about Mayfield’s ability to run a pro-style offense, was won over early.

Mayfield kept his flamboyant personality under control throughout camp, selecting his words carefully and talking with great respect for Darnold and the competition between them.

Wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who played the past four seasons in Cleveland with Mayfield, laughed early in camp at the thought that that would continue for long.

“He’s just holding it in right now,” Higgins said. “But when it comes out, it’s going to come out. May God be with you when it comes out.”

Perhaps that will happen now that Mayfield has been named the starter and begins preparing for the Browns. “Baker, I’ve seen big trash talk, and he’s usually got a lot of F-bombs in there,” Higgins said. “I don’t know when it’s going to come out, but it’s going to come out.”

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New York Jets coach Robert Saleh not ready to rule out Zach Wilson for Week 1 after QB’s knee surgery

A third-round pick out of LSU in 2020, Lewis was a returning starter on an offensive line that added left tackle Charles Cross in the draft with the ninth overall pick as well as center Austin Blythe in free agency. Seattle also drafted Abe Lucas in the third round to compete at right tackle.

Lewis had drawn a strong review from coach Pete Carroll earlier this summer. He was preparing for his third season as a starter and his second at left guard after playing right guard as a rookie.

Phil Haynes replaced Lewis on Thursday night. Carroll had said earlier in training camp that Haynes was having a strong enough summer to “push” veteran Gabe Jackson on the right side, and that Haynes gave the team what Carroll considered three starting-caliber guards.

Wilson flew back from Los Angeles on Wednesday night and was back at the team facility by Thursday morning. He’s “already walking” and looking forward to initiating his rehab, according to Saleh.

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The calendar is working against Wilson, who tore his meniscus and suffered a bone bruise last Friday night in a preseason game versus the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Jets open the season in 24 days against the Baltimore Ravens.

The initial timetable was two to four weeks, and there was no additional damage discovered in the arthroscopy, sources said.

But the Jets are planning to be careful with their second-year quarterback, who got three weeks of practice last season before returning to the lineup after spraining his PCL in the same knee — and that was a non-surgical injury.

“We’re going to do right by him in terms of making sure he’s 100% healthy,” Saleh said.

Even though Wilson avoided a season-ending injury, the time lost will be a setback. He will miss preseason matches versus the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, plus joint practices against those teams.

Wilson, 23, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, is an inexperienced quarterback who needs as many practice reps as possible. He struggled last season, losing 10 of 13 starts and throwing only nine touchdown passes with 11 interceptions.

“If you want to get good at football, you have to play football. You have to practice football,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said.

“That can’t happen for him, obviously. So he’s going to go and he’s going to attack it the best way he knows how. He went through this last year, unfortunately. He knows what to do, what to watch, what to say and what to do in the meetings. He’s going to make the most of the situation, just like we all will.

“The show goes on, right?”

In Flacco, 37, the Jets have a 14-year veteran and Super Bowl XLVII MVP for the Ravens. But Flacco has struggled in recent years, having lost 14 of his past 16 starts. Next on the depth chart is Mike White (three career starts).

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RB Mark Ingram traded by Houston Texans, reuniting him with New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have reunited their dynamic running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram by getting Ingram in a trade with the Houston Texans, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The deal contains a swap of late-round picks, the source said. NFL Network first reported the trade, the second in two months between the Saints and Texans after New Orleans acquired veteran cornerback Bradley Roby in Week 1.

The Saints desperately needed running back depth after releasing veteran Latavius Murray in September and losing backup Tony Jones Jr. to injury. So they turned to one of the most popular and productive backs in franchise history.

Ingram, 31, spent his first eight campaigns in New Orleans after being drafted in the first round in 2011, tallying 6,007 rushing yards, 1,598 receiving yards and 55 touchdowns before the Saints let him leave as a free agent in 2019. Ingram is just 89 rushing yards behind Deuce McAllister for New Orleans’ franchise record.

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At their peak, Ingram and Kamara were one of the best running back duos in NFL history.

Nicknamed “Boom and Zoom,” they became the first duo ever to both surpass 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season in 2017, and the first in more than 40 years to both make the initial Pro Bowl roster.

Murray proved to be an excellent replacement from 2019 to 2020, while Ingram had success with the Baltimore Ravens. But the Saints missed both veterans this year while relying more than ever on Kamara as a one-man show.

Kamara is on pace to break his career high for carries in a season by more than 100, and he reached 30 touches in a game for just the second time in his career in Monday night’s 13-10 victory at Seattle. Kamara was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

“Aye @markingramII ….. we back,” Kamara tweeted in response to the reported trade.

Ingram was the Texans’ lead back this season, running for 294 yards and a touchdown on 92 carries on a team that ranks last in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

With his trade to New Orleans, the Texans now have four running backs on their roster: veterans David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead and second-year pro Scottie Phillips. Phillips has been inactive for all but one game this season, but just played on special teams.

Earlier in the month, the Texans moved on from veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who signed with the Green Bay Packers after he was released by the Texans. Mercilus, a first-round pick in 2012, was one of the longest-tenured Texans players on the roster.

Since Ingram signed in Houston, coach David Culley has spoken about the importance of the running back on the roster because of his leadership role in the locker room.

After the trade was reported Wednesday, wide receiver Brandin Cooks appeared to react to the move on Twitter, writing, “This is bulls—. Such a joke.”

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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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Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow on track to return for Week 1, Dr. Neal ElAttrache says

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who underwent reconstructive left knee surgery in December, is “all systems go” for the Sept. 12 regular-season opener versus the Minnesota Vikings, according to Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe in Los Angeles.

“He’s on track for full go for start of the season,” ElAttrache, who operated on Burrow in December, wrote in a text. “He’s doing all the work. He’s worked his tail off and been an amazingly mature participant in his recovery. He’s focused and great to work with.”

Burrow had told “The Cris Collinsworth Podcast” that he expected to be there for the first snap in 2021. But now ElAttrache is working with the Bengals’ medical staff on Burrow’s rehabilitation, and they consider that goal is well within reach.

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Doctors do not want any contact until nine months, which could lead to Burrow sitting out the preseason.

But the goal, now well within reach, is to be ready for the start of the regular campaign.

“We are very happy with his recovery to say the least,” ElAttrache said. “Notwithstanding the nature of his injury and extent of his reconstruction, his knee is performing perfectly.

“We just had him tested out here with a high-tech video and biomechanical evaluation and he was ahead of where we anticipated and well into the return to performance phase of his recovery. With him already performing this way, it’s ‘all systems go’ for the start of the season.”

Burrow suffered the injury during a Nov. 22 loss at Washington. He then underwent surgery Dec. 2. Before the injury, Burrow had validated his draft selection as the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, starting 10 games and completing 65.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

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New Orleans Saints WR Mike Thomas returns to practice

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas returned to practice Thursday, giving him an opportunity  to return to the lineup for the first time since Week 1.

It’s still unclear if Thomas (ankle/hamstring) will be able to play Sunday at Chicago. But he was participating in individual drills during the early portion of practice open to the media Thursday — which is something he did not do last week or on Wednesday of this week.

Thomas, the NFL’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, was initially sidelined by a high ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 1. He appeared close to returning in Week 5, but then he was benched for team disciplinary reasons after a practice altercation in which he punched teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

Then Thomas returned to practice after New Orleans’ Week 6 bye — only to suffer a new hamstring injury. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that an MRI exposed a Grade 1 hamstring strain that was expected to sideline Thomas for one to two weeks.

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The Saints could certainly use him at Chicago.

Their No. 2 receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, is on the reserve-COVID list. And undrafted rookie receiver Marquez Callaway, who led the team with 75 yards on eight catches last week, has been dealing with an ankle injury of his own.

Thomas and Callaway were formally listed as limited in Thursday’s practice.

Sanders could technically be eligible to return to activity for the first time on Sunday after testing positive last Thursday. But he stated that he will miss two games on Uninterrupted’s “17 Weeks” podcast on SiriusXM/Pandora.

Callaway was present for the start of Thursday’s practice but did not participate in the portion open to the media.

The Saints (4-2) have won three consecutive games despite their depleted WR corps, with Drew Brees and the passing offense finding a better rhythm by the week. They converted 12 of 14 third-down attempts and never punted in last week’s 27-24 triumph over the Carolina Panthers.

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