Initial Carson Wentz Tests Don’t Reveal Complete ACL Tear

The Eagles’ postgame celebration was not exactly indicative of a team that clinched the NFC East and its first 11-win season in eight years, with Carson Wentz‘s reported ACL tear understandably affecting the mood. But the team is holding out hope its breakout star quarterback didn’t suffer a full tear.

Initial tests on Wentz’s damaged left knee did not “definitively” reveal a complete tear, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

While Monday’s MRI will provide a clearer picture and play a big part in shaping the Eagles’ late-season outlook, Rapoport notes the team isn’t giving up on the possibility this isn’t a season-ending malady.

A previous NFL.com report indicated the Eagles did believe Wentz’s season was over, and multiple other sources reported the team fears the worst for Wentz. Rapoport reports the Eagles believe Wentz sustained an ACL injury; they just aren’t certain it was a full tear at this juncture.

Of course, even a partial tear would surely induce a discussion from the team about shutting down its 24-year-old dynamo anyway.

Wentz’s knee injury became worrisome when trainers felt it was loose upon examination, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The loose ACL is sign it’s torn, Dr. David Chao of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets, adding concern for Wentz’s left LCL should exist as well. Wentz played four plays after suffering the left knee injury and walked to the locker room, but the MVP candidate was taken out of the Los Angeles Coliseum on a cart, per Fox NFL (Twitter link).

The Eagles’ division-clinching mood was indeed “subdued” as they await word on the MRI, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes.

A similar sequence of reports emerged last December when Ryan Tannehill was believed to have suffered a full ACL tear only to have the ensuing MRI reveal a partial tear. However, that may not be the most encouraging sign considering Tannehill did not play for the Dolphins again that season, saw his offseason largely marred by this injury and is missing all of this season because of a subsequent ACL tear.

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Seahawks DL Malik McDowell Arrested

Malik McDowell is spending his rookie season on the NFI list after an offseason accident, and the young defensive lineman’s troubles continued this weekend.

McDowell was arrested for disorderly conduct, TMZ Sports reports, early Sunday morning stemming from an incident at a nightclub in Atlanta. The Michigan State product’s arrest followed a profane tirade, one that was based around a financial transaction.

TMZ reporting the matter involved a $600 alcohol purchase McDowell wanted back. He was then told he hadn’t yet paid the $600 he sought. When this confusion resulted in incessant shouting from McDowell, he was thrown out of the club. TMZ reports McDowell then got into a shouting match with police officers after leaving the club.

The Seahawks did not comment on the matter prior to their game against the Jaguars, per ESPN.

A second-round pick, McDowell suffered injuries in a summer ATV crash that will keep him out all season. The Seahawks held out hope he could play this season, but he’ll have to attempt to rebound from a rough 2017 beginning in the offseason.

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John Dorsey Not Sold On Hue Jackson As 2018 Coach?

The top two Browns decision-makers have endorsed Hue Jackson, despite the coach’s historically futile start in Cleveland. Jimmy Haslam did prior to John Dorsey‘s official hiring, and the new Browns GM followed suit hours later.

But Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports the “persistent sense” around the league is Dorsey will attempt to make the case to the owner to make his own HC hire. If Dorsey is allowed to select his own coach from the start, Florio hears the first-weekend GM knows who he would hire.

This would be a remarkable reversal, but it’s not like the Browns can be counted on for much reliability given what’s transpired in Cleveland over the past two years. Jackson’s team blew a 21-7 lead Sunday to drop to 0-13, and Florio notes an 0-16 season would make a potential Dorsey case against retaining Jackson stronger.

However, Haslam said Friday he wanted Jackson to be his coach for “a long, long time.” Dorsey said in a statement he looked forward to working with Jackson, who has now dropped to 1-28 as the Browns’ head coach.

But Jackson would obviously be on a scorching seat next season if he were given a third year. Jackson did not see eye to eye with Sashi Brown‘s approach, leading to numerous disagreements, and was kept in the loop as the team searched for a new football-based exec.

So, it would be interesting if the Browns bail on both Brown and Jackson after this unique rebuild attempt, while giving Dorsey prime resources (five first- or second-round draft picks in 2018 and more than $100MM in cap space). Regardless of how long-term a plan is, a team clearing the 1976-77 Buccaneers’ futility bar wouldn’t stand to make anyone involved completely assured of a job.

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Eagles Concerned Carson Wentz Tore ACL

The Eagles are concerned Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL during the third-quarter sequence that ended his game, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The Associated Press also is reporting this diagnosis, adding (via Twitter) the star passer will have an MRI on Monday to confirm it. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports the Eagles believe Wentz’s season is over.

Wentz injured his left knee on an awkward-looking play, and Fox’s Erin Andrews reported team officials left an examination on the MVP candidate shaking their heads (Twitter link via Albert Breer of SI.com). Nick Foles took over for Wentz, whom the team immediately declared out for the game after he went to the visitors’ locker room.

Schefter adds that as Wentz exited the field shortly after, his left knee buckled to induce the locker room trip. (Twitter link). Wentz remained in the game for four plays after this hit and threw a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery, helping the visitors to a 43-35 victory in a key NFC game.

This would obviously be a crushing blow for an Eagles team that’s authored its best season since the franchise’s 2004 NFC title campaign.

Wentz threw four touchdown passes against the Rams and set the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season; he now has 33 while having thrown only seven interceptions. The second-year passer has made a tremendous leap from his rookie season and stands as one of the most important players in the NFL presently.

The North Dakota State product has already more than doubled his touchdown-pass output from his rookie season, and if these reports are accurate, will see a brutal end to a breakout slate and a lengthy rehab process. It also continues what’s been a vicious year for quarterback health around the league.

The Eagles clinched the NFC East championship with their win and have won 11 games for the first time since Donovan McNabb‘s last full season as the starter, in 2009. But Monday’s impending MRI could make this a muted celebration for the NFC’s current No. 1 seed.

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Josh McCown Suffers Broken Hand

The Jets were planning to ride Josh McCown‘s run of steady production to the finish line this season, but those plans look to have changed in Denver.

The 38-year-old quarterback suffered a broken left hand in the Jets’ 23-0 loss to the Broncos, Todd Bowles said postgame (via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, on Twitter).

Bryce Petty entered the game for McCown and struggled. McCown finished Week 13 as the AFC offensive player of the week. Mehta adds (via Twitter) Petty and possibly Christian Hackenberg are going to be taking the snaps the rest of the way. Hackenberg remains without an NFL play to his credit. The Jets are not yet sure if this will end McCown’s season, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), but with the team reasonably out of the playoff picture and younger players in need of looks, it makes sense to shut McCown down.

McCown established a new career high with 18 touchdown passes this season and today tied his career high by making a 13th start. Petty has not started since the end of last season.

Injuries limited McCown last season in Cleveland, but he’s delivered on the Jets’ $6MM investment this year. Jets OC John Morton said he’d like to have McCown back, but the passer said earlier this week he wasn’t certain he would return for what would be a 17th NFL season.

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Kayvon Webster Ruptures Achilles’ Tendon

Vying for position in a crowded NFC playoff picture, the Rams are likely going to have to go the rest of the way without one of the starting cornerbacks.

Kayvon Webster suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon during Sunday’s game against the Eagles, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports (on Twitter).

Sean McVay confirmed Webster ruptured an Achilles’ tendon, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter).

Webster went down in the first half and was deemed doubtful to return because of an ankle injury, per Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (on Twitter). But it appears the fifth-year player’s setback is far more significant. Webster sent out a somewhat ominous tweet, at least regarding his possible near-future status, during the second half.

Webster’s started all 10 games he’s played as a Ram, doing so after being a backup throughout his four-year Broncos tenure. He intercepted a pass — his first as a Ram and first since his rookie season — and deflected another.

The Rams have used a top corner trio of Webster, Trumaine Johnson and Nickell Robey-Coleman this season. They have seven cornerbacks on their 53-man roster presently.

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5 Key NFL Stories: 12/3/17 – 12/10/17

Giants make changes at the topDespite reports that the Giants wouldn’t fire any of their decision-makers until the regular season concluded, Big Blue parted ways with both general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo last week. In turn, Eli Manning has been reinstated as the club’s starting quarterback, while defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been named interim head coach. Dave Gettleman, the former Panthers general manager who also worked in New York for years, is considered the front runner for the Giants’ GM post.

…and the Browns do, too. Hue Jackson has seemingly won the power struggle in Cleveland, as the Browns fired executive vice president Sashi Brown last week. Ownership acted quickly to install a new GM, as former Chiefs personnel executive John Dorsey was hired as the team’s general manager roughly 11 hours after Brown was fired. It’s unclear if Cleveland will immediately turn away from the analytics movement given Brown’s departure, but Paul DePodesta is staying put. Dorsey has moved quickly, as he’s already released albatross wideout Kenny Britt.Rob Gronkowski (vertical)

Suspensions galore. The NFL suspended Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for illegal hits in Week 13, while Bengals safety George Iloka saw his initial one-game ban overturned following an appeal. Gronkowski, of course, went after Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White after the whistle, while Smith-Schuster hit Bengals ‘backer Vontaze Burfict on a block. Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, meanwhile, was handed a team-imposed suspension after throwing an official’s flag into the stands last week.

Ravens lose CB Jimmy Smith. Midway through a season that registers as the best of his NFL career, Smith will be sidelined for the remainder of the year after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 13. Incidentally, Smith was also subsequently suspended four games for performance-enhancing drug use, but he’ll be able to serve that ban while on injured reserve. Smith’s injury will have wide-ranging implications not only on the field, but on Baltimore’s salary cap: the Ravens may have considered releasing fellow corner Brandon Carr this offseason, but such a move is now unlikely given Smith’s uncertainty.

Roger Goodell‘s extension is done. Goodell is officially locked up as the NFL’s commissioner through the 2024 campaign, as he agreed to a contract extension that could reportedly be worth as much as $200MM via incentives. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones opposed the deal and attempted to stop negotiations, although compensation committee chairman Arthur Blank noted “nearly unanimous consensus” on Goodell’s new pact.

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East Rumors: Jets, McCown, Giants, Redskins

Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa will be a restricted free agent next spring, and though he missed the entire 2017 season with a neck injury, the Jets will likely still offer him a RFA tender, tweets Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. The 25-year-old Enunwa broke out for 58 receptions, 857 yards, and four touchdowns a season ago, so New York is apparently comfortable tendering him despite his recent injury history. Given those health questions, however, Enunwa will likely receive only an original round tender, which should be worth roughly $2MM next year. If he is re-signed, Enunwa will add another dimension to a Jets receiving corps that also includes Robby Anderson and rookies Chad Hansen and ArDarius Stewart.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • The Jets have been open about their willingness to re-sign quarterback Josh McCown, but the veteran signal-caller hasn’t officially decided if he’ll return for another NFL season, according to Bob Glauber of Newsday. McCown, 38, has four children who don’t live in the New York area, meaning family concerns will play a role in McCown’s future. Given that he’s arguably posting the best season of his career, McCown is expected to start the Jets’ remaining games even though the club has several younger options on the roster. For what it’s worth, New York offensive coordinator John Morton has been vocal his desire to continue working with McCown, writes Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News.
  • Rookie quarterback Davis Webb‘s status with the Giants is now uncertain following the firing of general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo, especially given that Webb was considered “McAdoo’s guy,” tweets Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. McAdoo reportedly “pushed for [Webb] in every round” of the 2017 draft, and New York ultimately selected Webb in the third round. The Giants turned to veteran backup Geno Smith in Week 13, but will apparently start Eli Manning for the remainder of the season, leaving open the question of whether Webb is in the club’s long-term plans.
  • Former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan‘s arbitration hearing against the team will begin next week, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, who adds owner Daniel Snyder, team president Bruce Allen, and head coach Jay Gruden could be required to testify. Washington will reportedly attempt to use McCloughan’s history of alcohol abuse as a fireable offense, while McCloughan will argue that he rarely drank while employed with the Redskins.

North Notes: Browns, Bears, Fox, Vikings

New Browns general manager John Dorsey has a plan to turn around the winless Cleveland franchise, and given the club’s lackluster history with quarterbacks, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Dorsey’s first order of business will be finding a long-term answer under center, as Pat McManamon of ESPN.com writes.

“This is a quarterback-driven league,” Dorsey said Friday. “We all know that, and we all know to succeed and go a little bit further and further and further that you need one of those guys.

“I want to understand from a coaching perspective how they see [quarterbacks],” Dorsey said. “I want to see how the personnel staff sees it. I want to sit down with the head coach and see how he sees it. Let’s begin to build a plan moving forward and identify.”

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • While the Bears are currently putting together a winning performance against the Bengals, most observers believe Chicago’s coaching staff will be let go following the conclusion of the regular season, and that’s the feeling within the building as well, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (video link). Not only has Bears head coach John Fox “accepted his fate” and recognized that he’ll likely be fired once the 2017 campaign ends, but many Chicago assistants are cognizant that they’ll be let go, too. At present, the Bears are last in the NFC North with a record of 3-9.
  • Pat Shurmur is generating “a ton of interest” as a head coaching candidate, so the Vikings could soon be searching for a new offensive coordinator, per Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. Shurmur has head coaching experience, as he lead the Browns from 2011-12 and also served as the Eagles’ interim head coach at the tail end of the 2015 season. Running an offense with journeyman Case Keenum under center, Shurmur has led Minnesota to a No. 8 ranking in offensive DVOA, so it’s no surprise that other teams around the NFL have taken notice of his efforts.
  • Despite previous reports that Lions head coach Jim Caldwell recently signed a contract extension, his deal in fact only runs through the 2018 campaign (with an option for 2019). Therefore, Caldwell’s pact likely won’t play any role in whether Detroit general manager Bob Quinn retains Caldwell after the current season.

AFC North Notes: Shazier, Britt, McCarron

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Shazier continues to show gradual improvement, though he remains hospitalized. Per Schefter, doctors are controlling and limiting Shazier’s movement as they wait for the swelling and bruising in his back to subside, and it is of course too soon to determine if he will be able to play again. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports adds that Shazier is expected to remain in the hospital for a few more days, but that his prognosis is “optimistic.”

Now let’s take a swing around the rest of the AFC North:

  • Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun writes that, before Jimmy Smith‘s season-ending Achilles tear last week, there was talk that the Ravens could release Brandon Carr to create cap space and rely on Smith and the team’s cadre of young and talented corners. Zrebiec, though, thought that was a bad idea before the Smith injury, and he believes it’s even worse now. Carr has played reasonably well, and Smith’s latest injury is just further proof that Baltimore cannot count on him for a full season (he may not even be ready for the start of 2018). Zrebiec thinks the Ravens should not only retain Carr, but they should also continue to bolster their CB corps.
  • It does not sound as if the Browns will face any discipline for their alleged violation of the Rooney Rule in their hiring of John Dorsey. La Canfora reports that he spoke last night with John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, and Wooten indicated that his concerns with Cleveland’s GM search have been addressed. Wooten added that he has no issue with the hiring of the highly-qualified Dorsey (Twitter links).
  • The waiver period for claiming the contract of former Browns wide receiver Kenny Britt ends tomorrow at 4pm, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes. While Cleveland would love for someone to claim Britt off waivers, thereby absolving the Browns of the balance of his salary, that seems unlikely at this point. Florio writes that Britt wants to sign with a playoff contender if he clears waivers, and that the Patriots could be a team to watch in that scenario.
  • A ruling on A.J. McCarron‘s grievance will be made in February, as La Canfora reports. The Bengals‘ backup QB has argued that he should be an unrestricted free agent when the 2018 league year opens, while the league feels he should be a restricted free agent. In any event, the matter will be resolved before free agency gets underway.

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