- The Bengals observed one of their emerging wideouts stretchered off the field Sunday. Auden Tate is in concussion protocol and suffered a cervical strain, Zac Taylor said (via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby, on Twitter). Tate flew back to Cincinnati with his teammates and has appeared to escape a serious injury.
The latest key injury updates:
- The Colts picked up a big win over the Jaguars on Sunday, but they’ll be without a key part of their offense for at least a little while. Running back Marlon Mack fractured his hand in the win over Jacksonville, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport says that Mack won’t play on Thursday night in a key divisional game against the Texans, and that “it’s up in the air beyond that.” Mack had been the team’s workhorse on offense, regularly garnering 20+ carries. Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins will both see an uptick in work in the meantime.
- Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is done for the year with a hip injury, and there were instant fears that it could put his career in jeopardy. It’ll be a while before we know one way or the other, but the program released a new statement Sunday night that again expressed optimism. Tagovailoa is being transported to Houston to undergo surgery on his hip Monday, team surgeon Lyle Cain said in a statement, via Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News (Twitter link). Cain said that they “anticipate a full recovery,” which is great news.
- Bengals receiver Auden Tate went down with a scary neck injury and had to be carted off the field, but fortunately it looks like he’s going to be alright. Tate had rejoined to team and was on their flight back from Oakland, a source told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Pelissero said all tests were negative and that while he’ll be evaluated again tomorrow, “all signed” indicated that he “avoided major injury.” With A.J. Green still sidelined, Tate has been playing a huge role on offense for Cincy as they still search for their first win of the season.
- Jameis Winston picked up a left ankle injury in the Buccaneers’ loss to the Saints, and he was limping pretty badly toward the end of the game. Speaking to the media after the loss, head coach Bruce Arians said that he was about to go to backup Ryan Griffin, and that he should’ve, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Winston was able to convince Arians to let him go back in, but the head coach apparently regretted the decision. Winston told reporters after the game that he’ll be alright moving forward.
In an exclusive interview with Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required), controversial Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict laid into the league and did not seem to leave any thought unspoken. Burfict, who is currently serving a suspension that began after Week 4 and spans to the end of the season, was adamant that his behavior does not compare to Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who was recently suspended indefinitely after swinging a helmet at Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Burfict also detailed the suspension process, including the appeal meeting he had with league executives. The former Bengals linebacker claims the league had already decided on the suspension prior to the meeting and had no interest in hearing his side of the story. On top of some colorful language used at the expense of multiple execs, the piece offers an interesting view into Burfict’s place in the Raiders locker room.
Here’s more from around the NFC:
- Vikings safety Jayron Kearse may not be in Minnesota for much longer given the tone of his tweets today. This morning Kearse tweeted out that he was “excited” for his future, but when a fan replied asking if the Vikings will be a part of his future, Kearse replied “No.” Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press noted the back and fourth and added that Kearse did not answer him on Friday when Tomasson asked if he would start in tomorrow’s game against the Broncos given Anthony Harris‘ injury. Tomasson speculates that Andrew Sendejo could instead be the starting safety.
- Longtime Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers‘ contract expires at the end of this season and set to turn 38 in December, it would not be a shock for the veteran to declare this his last professional season. However, Rivers remains noncommittal on his future, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN. Rivers still has a desire to play in the Chargers new stadium when it opens in 2020, but wants to take some time after the season ends to evaluate where he is physically and mentally before making any final determination.
The Bengals have placed Dre Kirkpatrick on injured reserve, per a club announcement. In related moves, the team promoted linebacker Hardy Nickerson and wide receiver Damion Willis to the active roster.
Kirkpatrick, 30, is in the midst of a five-year, $52.5MM deal he inked back in 2017. He’ll remain on the books for 2020, when he’s due a base salary of $9.4MM. Before he season-ending hyperextended knee injury, Kirkpatrick tallied 33 stops, one sack, and one fumble recovery across six games.
Last year, Kirkpatrick allowed just 44.4% of the targets thrown his way to be caught, good for the second-best rate in the league. That was good for second amongst all NFL cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps.
The Bengals were hoping to get him back before the end of the season but, then again, they’re not playing for much at this point.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Bengals wide receiver John Ross has been designated to return from injured reserve, per a club announcement. He’ll be eligible to play in Week 13, following a few weeks of practice.
Ross, the No. 9 overall pick of the 2017 draft, was written off by many as a bust, but was finally starting to make an impact this year. Injuries and a lack of trust from Marvin Lewis had plagued Ross’ first two years in Cincy, but he started the season with 16 catches for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns in four games.
There’s now reason to believe that Ross could blossom into the top-level deep threat the Bengals were hoping for back in 2017. This is, of course, a lost season for the 0-9 Bengals, but it’s a ripe opportunity for Ross to work his way back from his shoulder injury and cement his place in the team’s plans moving forward. The Bengals figure to make lots of changes this offseason, but Ross figures to be an integral part of the offense in 2020.
Ross remains under his rookie deal, which runs through 2020. He’ll carry a $5.45MM cap number in his final year, but the Bengals can add a fifth season via his rookie option.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Bengals tight end Drew Sample suffered a high ankle sprain this past weekend, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The 2019 second-rounder will undergo additional tests to determine how much time he’ll miss, but Rapoport notes that he’s a candidate for the injured reserve. The rookie has hauled in five catches for 30 yards in nine games (two starts) this season.
The Bengals have cut linebacker Preston Brown, as Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter). Brown signed a three-year pact with Cincinnati this offseason, but he will not even see the end of the first year of that deal.
Brown did start every game for his hometown Bengals this season before the team replaced him in the starting lineup with third-round rookie Germaine Pratt for Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. Brown ultimately played just 17 defensive snaps on Sunday, his lowest snap count of the season.
The Bills selected Brown in the third round of the 2014 draft, but even after a solid platform year with Buffalo in 2017, the Bills opted against re-signing him. Brown ultimately accepted a one-year, $4MM deal with the Bengals in 2018, and then he re-upped with Cincinnati in March 2019.
Brown succumbed to injury for the first time in his career in 2018, as he played in just seven games for the Bengals after appearing in all 64 possible games for the Bills over his first four years in the league. But while he has managed to stay healthy in 2019, he has not played particularly well, especially in coverage. The fact that the Bengals cut ties less than one year into his three-year contract is not a good look for Brown.
Still, he just turned 27 and is owed only $400K for the rest of the season. As such, a team in need of a veteran LB with plenty of starting experience could put in a waiver claim, especially since such a team could cut him again this offseason with fairly minimal dead money ramifications. And if he clears waivers, he may not last too long on the open market.
Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic expects the Bengals to clean out most of their LB room this offseason, and he suggests that only Pratt will be retained for 2020 (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
There may be plenty of Steelers fans unhappy with head coach Mike Tomlin, but he has navigated his team through some turbulent waters over the last couple of seasons, and after starting the 2019 campaign 0-3 and losing Ben Roethlisberger to injury, Pittsburgh is now 4-4 and is back in the AFC playoff picture. As Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com writes, Steelers players believe Tomlin is in the midst of one of his finest coaching performances, and that should go a long way towards quieting outside criticism. Thanks to an (admittedly unusual) one-year extension that he signed in July, Tomlin is under contract through 2021, and his standing within the organization seems strong.
Now for more from the AFC North:
- Bengals WR A.J. Green will miss Sunday’s game against the Ravens after it was initially reported that he would be making his 2019 debut against Baltimore, and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic believes the sudden turn of events could suggest that Green is preparing to sit out for the remainder of the season (which may be what he wanted all along). However, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network observed that Green was working out on the field Sunday morning and says his ankle will be reassessed this week (Twitter link). As of right now, the team is not planning on shutting Green down for the year.
- In addition to Green, the Bengals have been without LT Cordy Glenn all year. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, Glenn is still taking scout-team reps in practice, and it’s unclear whether he will be activated at all in 2019. Of course, Glenn and the Bengals are at odds over the team’s handling of his concussion, so it’s possible Glenn has already played his last snap for Cincinnati.
- Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the Browns‘ analytics department believed Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, not Freddie Kitchens, was the right man for Cleveland’s head coaching job. Of course, the Browns went against that recommendation, but given the club’s disappointing 2019 season, the team could be back in the market for an HC in 2020, and if that happens, Stefanski — who was reportedly the runner-up to Kitchens — should be on the short list of potential replacements.
- Browns RB Kareem Hunt will make his Cleveland debut against the Bills on Sunday after serving an eight-game suspension, and La Canfora says Hunt is expected to be a major part of the team’s offense right away. Even more importantly, Hunt has not only fulfilled all of the league’s requirements for reinstatement, but he has taken on a number of non-mandatory responsibilities. Per La Canfora, Hunt meets with women’s groups, participates in community service, and continues to speak to a counselor regularly.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green will not make his 2019 season debut on Sunday after all, as the veteran pass-catcher told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com (Twitter link). Green’s experienced ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough on Wednesday, and the issue is serious enough to prevent him from playing against the Ravens in Week 10.
Green, of course, hasn’t played a single snap this season after suffering ankle damage during training camp. The Bengals opted not to put him on injured reserve to start the year, which would have mandated an absence of at least eight games. Green, clearly, has already missed that requisite amount of time, meaning Cincinnati has been playing a man down all year long.
The Bengals are reportedly not close to an extension with Green, who will become a free agent at season’s end. The former first-round pick has been adamant that he doesn’t want to be assigned the franchise tag next offseason, and it’s unclear if Cincinnati will honor that request.
“I don’t really care about (the contract negotiations),” Green told Jay Morrison of The Athletic (Twitter link). “If they’re worried about me not playing or not being healthy, then there’s 32 teams out there. I’m not really worried about that situation.”
Green became the NFL’s highest-paid receiver in 2015 after inking a four-year, $60MM extension, but his $15MM average annual value now ranks 11th at the position. The former No. 4 overall selection will be 32 years old when the 2020 campaign gets underway, and Green’s recent injury history — at least six missed games in 2016, 2018, and 2019 — will certainly factor into his asking price, but he should still be expected to command a lucrative multi-year deal if he does hit the free agent market.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had been expected to return to game action in Week 10 against the Ravens, and head coach Zac Taylor even confirmed as much this morning, per Paul Dehner of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Green didn’t practice Wednesday after experiencing ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough and is now considered day-to-day, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, so it’s unclear if Green will still be ready for Baltimore. Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason. When he does return, he’ll be catching passes from a new quarterback (rookie Ryan Finley) as he makes his case for an extension.