Mike Williams Avoids ACL Injury

The Chargers received encouraging news about receiver Mike Williams on Friday night. Despite some concern that the talented rookie playmaker would “miss time” thanks to an injury he suffered on Thanksgiving, the team has learned that Williams did not injure his ACL, reports Dan Woike of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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“He’s still being evaluated right now, doctors and trainers. We’ll see where he goes from there,” head coach Anthony Lynn said. “…As of now, I’ve just been told ACL, that’s been ruled out, which was very good news for me. I think we can deal with the rest, and lot of it may depend on pain tolerance as well.”

The former Clemson star exited Thursday’s game against the Cowboys after just one snap as he was seen limping off the field in a great amount of pain. The injury appeared to be non-contact.

While Friday’s news is encouraging for the wideout, it’s still been sort of a lost year for the 2017 seventh overall pick. Williams missed the Chargers first five games with a back injury and was just beginning to integrate himself more in the Los Angeles offense.

However, the news could have been much worse for all involved as there’s now a better chance that the injury is less serious than first anticipated.

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NFC Notes: Giants, Bradham, Gholston

The Giants coaching questions are now back in full force after the team lost to Washington on Thanksgiving night. There was some reprieve from the consistent rumors after Giants head coach Ben McAdoo beat the Chiefs two weeks ago, but now there is speculation about where the front office may turn if they chose to replace McAdoo at the end of this season.

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY speculated a number potential candidates to replace McAdoo if the team were to move on from the second-year head coach. Vacchiano had a number of former head coaches on his list, which included Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith. He also included big college names that seem a little more like long shots in Stanford head coach David Shaw and Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Up and coming coordinators Teryl Austin and Frank Reich rounded out his list.

New York is a pretty big draw that could get a few more well known coaches to at least consider the position. Plus, the team will have a top pick, solid defense and a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. to build around. More coaching rumors will be popping up as the seasons moves along, but it’s interesting to see what names may be on the radar, even though there’s been no indication that the front office will assuredly to fire McAdoo.

  • The Giants have dealt with a number of injuries this season. The team has likely lost two more players for the season in cornerback Donte Deayon (fractured forearm) and linebacker Curtis Grant (knee), reports Dan Duggan of NJ Advanced Media. New York has placed seven defenders on IR so far this season, so losing two more depth pieces doesn’t bode well for how competitive the Giants can be in the final six weeks of the regular season.
  • The Eagles are the best team in the NFL right now, and are in the process of deciding which of their building blocks to lock up for the long haul. The team already agreed to a contract extension with Timmy Jernigan earlier in the month and now may be turning their attention to linebacker Nigel Bradham, opines Jeff McLane of The Inquirer. A former fourth round pick back in 2012, the 28-year-old leads the team in tackles with 56 and ranks as the 33rd best linebacker in football, according to Pro Football Focus. The Eagles have 13 players heading for unrestricted free agency after the season, so they’ll definitely have to make some tough decisions regarding who they want to build around and who they’re willing to let go.
  • The Buccaneers will likely welcome back William Gholston this Sunday after the defensive end missed the team’s previous two games with a neck injury, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. While the absence seems short when compared to some other more serious injuries, Gholston is thankful that the ailment wasn’t more severe. “The neck is a little worrisome, because you have to think about everything else, think about family and all that,” Gholston said. “They definitely took all of the correct steps. … I’m not glad it happened, but I’m glad they took the right steps for me to get back.” Tampa Bay will try to extend their win streak to three games when travel to Atlanta for a Sunday afternoon matchup.

AFC Notes: Jags, Lewis, Lynch, Ogbah

The Jaguars have shocked the NFL after starting the year 7-3, thanks in large part to their outstanding defense. But while that side of the ball has deservingly gotten a lot of the credit for their success, there’s another interesting aspect of their front office that had contributed to the team’s sudden rise to the top of the AFC South, opines Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

As a part of his Friday column, the veteran reporter made note of the expanded use of analytics in the team’s decision making process because of the department headed up by Jacksonville’s owner’s son, Tony Khan. Khan’s group supplements the work done by Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone through more advanced statistical and technological methods, something that isn’t as rampant in the NFL as with other sports, like basketball or baseball.

However, Breer pointed out the Jaguars have used data in their decision to keep their offense on the field a full 10 percent more times on fourth down than last season, as well in their acquisitions of running back Corey Grant and saftey Jarrod Wilson, who have each made big plays over the course of the season. Breer’s article provides an interesting look at another aspect of perhaps the league’s most surprising team through some pretty cool examples of more analytical evaluation when making football decisions.

  • Marvin Lewis is the second longest tenured head coach with one franchise in the league today, ranking right behind Bill Belichick. It’s a notable comparison as the Pats head coach has been able to win multiple Super Bowls with New Engalnd, while the Bengals have not won a single playoff game under Lewis’ leadership. However, the 59-year-old has maintained a number of crucial relationships throughout the league that has helped him fight through a lot of criticism, opines Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. Terrell mentions the likes Hue Jackson, Dirk Koetter, Bill Cowher, Mike Zimmer, Vance Joseph and Jay Gruden as guys who the Bengals head coach considers some of his closest friends in the league. Obviously, Cincinnati has had it’s tough moments under the guise of Lewis, but this piece shows just why he has survived as a head coach in this league for so long, despite the lack of playoff success.
  • Marshawn Lynch has never really gotten things going with the Raiders this season, but offensive coordinator Todd Downing mentioned after practice on Friday that he wants to “feed” the veteran running back this Sunday vs. the Broncos, reports Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. Head coach Jack Del Rio echoed that sentiment after the team’s final practice this week. “Could be a little more,” Del Rio said of Lynch’s workload. “Like to push him, get him a little more.” Lynch has consistently managed single-digit carries with his new team, but it appears that the coaching staff is on board in wanting to get the former All-pro more involved in the Raiders offense in the weeks ahead.
  • In some good injury news, Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah tweeted out a photo this afternoon showing that he had a successful surgery on the foot he broke during the team’s game last Sunday vs. the Jaguars. The 24-year-old was having a solid sophomore campaign up until the injury, but it’s certainly great news that his recovery has gotten off to a good start.

 

NFC Notes: Griffin, Stafford, Forbath, 49ers

The Seahawks defense continues to take hits on the injury front as the team has now learned that starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin has been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. the 49ers with a concussion, according to Gregg Bell of The News Tribune (Twitter link). Bell adds that lineman Oday Aboushi will miss the matchup with a shoulder injury as well, so Seattle will once again have to expose backups to expansive playing time.

It would seem that cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane will get the starts on the outside, with either rookie Ethan Pocic or third-year lineman Mark Glowinski filling in for Aboushi at right guard.

Seattle’s roster looks a whole lot different without the likes of Griffin, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the starting lineup, which has contributed greatly to the Seahawks up-and-down sort of season. The team still has an outstanding defensive line and is right in the thick of the playoff race, but is currently facing a lot of adversity as it continues to lose quality players as the season wears on.

  • In what was a tremendous show of resiliency on Thanksgiving, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford actually finished the game after he suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury. However, even though the talented QB was able to return, you can clearly see that he is not 100% in a video posted to Instagram by Davie Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, depicting Stafford hobbling away after his postgame press conference. It remains to be seen whether Stafford can continue to play in the weeks to come, but we should learn more about the overall severity of the injury next week.
  • Vikings kicker Kai Forbath apparently cut his foot on the nullified block field goal, but should not miss any time moving forward, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Forbath had been one of the best kickers in the league up until the last few weeks when he missed two field goals against the Rams and suffered the aforementioned blocked kick yesterday.
  • The 49ers are as expected not in playoff contention this year, but still await some key decisions on potential free agents at season’s end. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, looked at six impending free agents who could be on the way out after the 2017 season is over. Branch noted running back Carlos Hyde, safety Eric Reid, center Daniel Kilgore, defensive end Aaron Lynch, defensive lineman Tank Carradine and cornerback Dontae Johnson as all guys that seemed primed to test the open market. There are a variety of factors that go into these decisions, but it’s interesting to see how the team may approach these players in the final six weeks of the season given their impending free agency.

Jacoby Brissett Cleared To Play In Week 12

It appears the Colts will have quarterback Jacoby Brissett ready to start in the team’s Week 12 matchup versus the Titans, after the second-year quarterback was cleared by an independent neurologist today, reports Mike Chappell of IndySportsCentral.com (Twitter link).

Jacoby Brissett (Vertical)

Brissett had suffered a concussion against the Steelers two weeks ago, but with the help of the bye week, is on track to not miss his start this weekend. Despite some drama around the way the Colts handled the concussion, with team doctors allowing him to return to the game and then being unavailable to the press after due to concussion-like symptoms, it looks like the correct remaining protocol has been taken in the weeks since.

The 23-year-old signal caller has been a bright spot in what’s been a down year in Indianapolis. Without Andrew Luck it would be tough to expect the Colts to make a run at a playoff race, but the former Patriots QB has stepped up as a nice fill-in since getting his first start in the second week of the season.

Brissett’s total QBR of 39.1 does not look all too good, but he’s shown improvement in recent weeks, throwing six touchdowns compared to just two interceptions in his past three games. The 2016 third-round selection has shown a nice arm and quality mobility during his short stint with the Colts, which certainly helps the team’s outlook on the position moving forward, knowing that they have a quality backup already in place if Luck were to unfortunately get hurt again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marshon Lattimore Ruled Out For Week 12

The Saints are going for their ninth win in a row this Sunday when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams. However, New Orleans must try and win on the road without their outstanding rookie cornerback, Marshon Lattimore, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

"<strongThe 11th overall pick in last May’s draft has been dealing with an ankle injury all week and just couldn’t recover enough to suit up for this weekend’s contest. Rapoport also passes along that the Saints will be without defensive back Ken Crawley as well, so the team’s secondary is about to look much different in Week 12.

Despite the injury, Lattimore is in the middle of a tremendous rookie campaign as he grades out as the fourth best corner in the entire league, accumulating a stellar 92.7 overall score from Pro Football Focus this season. The former Ohio State Buckeye was always expected to be an instant impact type of player, but has passed all expectations in his first nine games of his professional career.

Without their two top corners, the Saints will rely on backups P.J. Williams, De’Vante Harris and Justin Hardee to hold down the back-end of the defense. The team also recently agreed to bring in veteran defensive back Sterling Moore earlier in the week, probably in preparation for the news that was revealed today.

The Saints defense has been one of the better units in football, especially during the team’s winning streak, but it will certainly be tested without Lattimore locking down one side of the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Waive LB Ray-Ray Armstrong

The 49ers have waived linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters, including Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports (Twitter link). The move was made to clear a roster spot for the return of Tank CarradineRay-Ray Armstrong (vertical)

Armstrong, who received a two-year extension in December, had been relegated to primarily playing special teams after being supplanted in the starting lineup by Brock Coyle in early November. The team leader in snaps at linebacker with 532, Armstrong saw the field for just 14 snaps in Week 10 vs. the Giants.

With emergence of Coyle and first-round pick Reuben Foster in recent weeks, there just wasn’t any room in the linebacker corps on a Niners team looking toward the future. Armstrong ends his tenure with San Francisco with 53 tackles and one sack on the season.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Expect Long Rehab For Samuel

The excitement about the return of Greg Olsen was tempered, as the Panthers also placed rookie receiver Curtis Samuel on season-ending injured reserve. Samuel, who fractured his ankle vs. Miami, underwent successful surgery head coach Ron Rivera told reporters, including ESPN’s David Newton (Twitter link). Curtis Samuel (vertical)

Rivera stated now that the surgery is complete, Samuel can expect a lengthy rehab before returning to the field. “It’s going to be a long rehab, obviously, especially because it happened this late in the season,” Rivera said. “But all indications are it went well.”

Since Carolina traded Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills at the deadline, the Ohio State product has seen his playing time increase as a featured receiver alongside Devin Funchess. Before suffering the injury, Samuel produced his best game of the season with five grabs on seven targets for 45 yards. He was praised by quarterback Cam Newton, who said he was “on the cusp,” and offensive coordinator Mike Shula said there were “lots of good things” from Samuel before sustaining the injury.

Samuel finished his season with 19 receptions for 115 yards and 64 rushing yards on four carries.

AFC Notes: Gordon, Bolts, Cutler, Steelers

Browns receiver Josh Gordon declared himself ready to go despite having another week before he is ready to be activated, according to ESPN’s Tony Grossi.

It’s been awesome. It’s been a joy. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting,” Gordon said Friday. “I think I knocked that rust off prior to getting back to the building. I think I accomplished that. First day of practice, [I was] able to adjust pretty quickly.

Anyone worried about Gordon needing time to round into shape hasn’t kept up with his comeback. The former All-Pro receiver has been working out constantly and looks ready to go when the team can activate him in Week 13.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Chargers did not escape their Thanksgiving Day bout with the Cowboys unscathed. Kicker Nick Novak sustained a back injury and his status has led the team to possibly tryout kickers next week, Eric Williams of ESPN reports (Twitter link).
  • Staying in Los Angeles, the Chargers also expect rookie wideout Mike Williams to miss time, though it has ruled out an ACL injury, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. Williams was carted off the field with an injury during the game.
  • The Dolphins have ruled out Jay Cutler (concussion) for Week 12 vs. New England, ESPN’s James Walker reports (Twitter link). The team will turn to Matt Moore for the divisional bout.
  • Steelers rookie wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster has been ruled out of the team’s Sunday night matchup with Green Bay, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. (Twitter link). The first-year receiver from USC has been impressive in recent weeks, averaging 17.2 yards per reception and logging five touchdowns on the season. He will miss the game due to a hamstring injury.

NFL Gearing Up For 2018 International Series

The league’s 2017 International Series came to a close with the Patriots’ 33-8 win over Oakland in Mexico City in Week 11. The NFL is already looking ahead to the 2018 slate of games, however, as the MMQB’s Albert Breer writes. Tottenham Stadium

Next season’s series is poised to be one of the most important to date with the opening of a new stadium designed specifically for American football. Breer writes, “Tottenham Hotspur of the Premier League opens its new 64,000-seat stadium next August, at an estimated cost of 400 million pounds. Ten million pounds (about $13.3 million U.S.) is coming directly from the NFL. In turn, the place will have locker rooms built for a football team, facilities for coaches and cheerleaders, and a sunk FieldTurf football field under a retractable grass surface for soccer that will allow for a conventional fan experience for both, without having to tarp seats for football.”

The fact that the NFL is helping finance a stadium in London should give plenty of indication about its future overseas. By teaming up with Tottenham, Breer notes the league is looking to dig into the Premier League culture and should a team decide to move to London in the next five to ten years, they will have an obvious home waiting for them. The NFL’s goal is to have a team in London in 2022 to mark the 15-year anniversary of the International Series. This is a strong move to realizing that goal.

Though there is no confirmation the NFL is looking at Tottenham as a possible home for a team in the future, the writing is on the wall.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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