The Colts are trying to end an eight-year streak of starting the season 0-1. To assist in the effort, they’ve added a defensive back from the practice squad.
Brown signed with the Colts in March. He was cut in late August, and he then joined the practice squad.
He has played in 33 regular-season games, with four starts, in a career that dates back to 2018. A five-star recruit out of high school, he was undrafted out of Alabama.
The Colts open the season as road favorites against the Texans.
The Browns have made a couple of roster moves in advance of Sunday’s season opener at Carolina.
Elevated from the practice squad to the active roster were defensive end Isaac Rochell and linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk.
The Browns also downgraded receiver Michael Woods II (illness, hamstring) to out. He had been listed as questionable.
Kunaszyk, a fourth-year pro from Cal, has played for the Panthers and Commanders. Rochell was a seventh-round pick of the Chargers in 2017. He spent four years in L.A. and one with the Colts.
Also questionable for the Browns on Sunday are tackle Jack Conklin (knee) and tackle Christopher Hubbard (elbow). The fact that they haven’t been downgraded indicates that they have made the trip to Charlotte.
Bills safety Jordan Poyer didn’t get the contract extension he was seeking this offseason, but the Bills did give him something.
The Bills have added incentives to Poyer’s contract for this year, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Poyer had been eligible to earn up to $500,000 in incentives but could now make up to $2 million in incentives, on top of the $5.6 million salary that he’s guaranteed for this year.
Poyer’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Poyer appreciated the Bills’ gesture and is still hoping to get a long-term extension done to remain in Buffalo beyond this year.
Without an extension, Poyer is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
The Ravens will open the season without their starting left tackle.
Ronnie Stanley has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, and he will not travel with the team to play the Jets.
Stanley has been plagued by injury recently, playing in just one game last season and six the year before. He had ankle surgery in October and still isn’t 100 percent healthy.
Ja'Wuan James is expected to start at left tackle in Stanley’s place.
The Raiders and Darren Waller were working on getting a contract extension done before Sunday, and they made it by a day.
Waller and the Raiders have agreed to a three-year contract extension, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed.
The Raiders had Waller under contract for two more seasons at $6.75 million a year, but they agreed to a new deal with $51 million in new money.
Rosenhaus noted that negotiations were challenging, and Waller hired Rosenhaus just two weeks ago to try to get a deal done before the start of the season.
Waller, who will turn 30 on Tuesday, has played his best football with the Raiders, and now they’ve invested in keeping him around for the foreseeable future.
As Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson opts to proceed under the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, with $23 million in guaranteed money and no guarantees beyond that, he’s assuming the risk of an injury that would make the Ravens not want to apply the franchise tag to Jackson in 2023 — and that would make it virtually impossible for him to get a market-level deal in free agency.
Thus, as plenty of players have done, Jackson would be wise to have insurance. It’s unclear whether he does.
There are many different types of policies and protections. None are cheap, and some players have experienced real difficulties when it comes to cashing in.
Without an agent to guide Jackson through the process of finding proper coverage and selecting the right policy, he’ll have to make the decision on his own.
He may decide that it’s too expensive. He may decide that the policy has too many loopholes and exclusions. He may just decide to roll the dice and hope for the best.
Whatever he chooses to do, it’s yet another situation in which he needs to understand the various options and make an informed and reasoned decision. For his own sake, hopefully he has.
And, yes, there’s a chance that even a serious injury won’t derail his earning potential. Two years ago, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a broken ankle, and he still got a massive deal from the Cowboys. (Dak nevertheless had an insurance policy.)
Of course, Jackson could possibly have a massive deal from the Ravens right now, assuming that the deal pays out more than $100 million in full guarantees at signing, with possibly much more in injury guarantees. That would make disability insurance unnecessary.
Without a long-term deal, a disability policy is crucial. For Lamar’s sake, hopefully he has one.
For the past few years, some coaches have complained to the league that officials extend protections to quarterbacks well beyond the limits spelled out in the rules.
When quarterbacks decide to run the ball — and specifically once they cross the line of scrimmage — they lose all protections, other than those that apply to any other player who would be trying to advance the ball (specifically, no horse-collar tackles, and no forceful contact with the helmet).
The problem has been that, sometimes, officials still regard those quarterbacks as behind-the-line passers. As a result, defensive players do, too.
It’s been happening for several years. And multiple quarterbacks take advantage of it. From a sideline stutter step that gets the defensive player to pull up before the quarterback darts forward for another five or 10 years to catching a defensive back flat-footed with a fake slide before bowling him over to the 2019 AFC championship game during which Tennessee defenders seemed to becaught in slow motion by their reluctance to hit Patrick Mahomes the way they would hit a running back, quarterbacks have gotten de facto kid-glove treatment.
That’s supposedly ending this year, we’re told. Supposedly. As one source recently remarked, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
So will we. When certain players have so many added protections when they are behind the line of scrimmage, how can the officials be expected to flip the switch on the fly?
We’ll see if they can. And we’ll see if that results in quarterbacks opting when running along the sideline to get out of bounds more quickly or to throw the ball away in lieu of running.
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy, unless he isn’t.
Garoppolo, who is practicing against with the team after being relegated to pariah status for the first month of training camp, officially appeared on the injury report every day this week as having a right shoulder injury.
He fully participated in practice, and he has no designation for Sunday’s game at Chicago. That means he’s good to go.
Coach Kyle Shanahan, who presumably is fully aware of the condition of every player on his team, feigned ignorance over Garoppolo’s injury.
“I have no clue, I didn’t even know that he was,” Shanahan said. “Maybe old lingering stuff, I’m not sure. Procedural stuff.”
It likely means Garoppolo is still receiving some sort of official treatment from the team, for the surgically-repaired shoulder. Regardless, he’s good to go and real to play if/when the 49ers need him.
The question continues to be whether they’ll only need him in the event of injury, or whether they’d consider benching non-captain Trey Lance, if he struggles.
It’s unclear whether the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson would have gotten a contract negotiated if the Browns hadn’t given quarterback Deshaun Watson a fully-guaranteed, $230 million, five-year deal. It’s fairly clear that the Watson contract played a huge role in keeping the Ravens and Jackson from getting something done.
It’s generally believed that Jackson wanted a fully-guaranteed contract, primarily since Watson got one. It’s not an unreasonable position for Jackson to take. He won a league MVP award. Watson didn’t. Jackson has been a model citizen for the Ravens away from the field. Watson, to put it mildly, has not. If Watson deserves five years with a full guarantee, Jackson does, too.
Conversely, it’s not unreasonable for the Ravens to refuse to do it. Subsequent contracts (such as the Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson deals) suggest that the Watson contract was an aberration. Indeed, the planets lined up perfectly for Watson. Off-field issues notwithstanding, he: (1) forced a trade from Houston; (2) managed to get four teams to the table in an effort to land his services; (3) eliminated the Browns from consideration after they’d burned the bridge with Baker Mayfield; and (4) witnessed a desperate Browns franchise make Watson an offer he couldn’t refuse, in the form of a fully-guaranteed deal.
Jackson, unless he jostles to be traded after the 2023 season, won’t be able to create the same kind of rush for his services. Even if he does, one of the teams pursuing him will have to be sufficiently desperate to offer the kind of contract that will trigger derision and disapproval from the rest of the league.
And if the Ravens decide to apply the franchise tag for 2023 and 2024, Jackson remains three years away from Kirk Cousins-style unrestricted free agency. Jackson, given his playing style, may not be the same player after three more years of regularly running the ball and taking hits.
It’s another reason why Jackson needs an agent who would have explained the situation to him. Who would have told him why the Watson deal was an unattainable goal, absent first and foremost a willingness to refuse to play for the Ravens. Who would have counseled him regarding the risks and rewards, the costs and benefits, the pros and cons of taking, or not taking, the best offer the Ravens put on the table.
Then there’s the possibility that Jackson was, and still is, quietly being advised by the NFL Players Association. Union president JC Tretter wrote an essay after the Watson deal urging agents to push for fully-guaranteed contracts. What if the NFLPA, in any advice it gave to Jackson, was trying to advance that agenda in lieu of considering the actual best interests of Jackson?
Because Jackson has not said much to anyone about the process, it’s fair to wonder where and from whom he has received his advice. If someone was advising him to hold firm for a fully-guaranteed contract without explaining that maybe he would have been better off getting the most guarantees he could and maxing out his compensation relative to the Murray and Wilson contracts, that would help explain the refusal to accept Baltimore’s final offer — if they were willing to exceed the Murray and Wilson numbers.
No one knows what the Ravens offered. But these are the Ravens, not one of the various dysfunctional teams that always find a way to screw things up. Given the deals they’ve done in recent years with key players, it’s fair to assume that the Ravens put together a package that, while not fully-guaranteed, became a strong alternative to $124 million over the next three years, on a year-to-year basis of $23 million in 2022, roughly $46 million under the exclusive franchise tag in 2023, and then $55.2 million under the tag in 2024.
Unless Jackson is planning a power play, such as demanding a trade after the 2022 season, the choice came down to Door No. 1 ($124 million over three years) or Door No. 2 (Baltimore’s best offer, as part of a deal that wasn’t fully-guaranteed). He chose Door No. 1. He has every right to do it. Here’s hoping he did it with a full understanding and appreciation of the ramifications of passing on Door No. 2. Saying, “It wasn’t fully-guaranteed” isn’t a good enough reason to do that.
As Chargers pass rusher Khalil Mack prepares to face the Raiders on Sunday, he’s not thinking about revenge.
Mack was drafted by the Raiders in 2014 and traded to the Bears amid a contract dispute in 2018. Now he’s been traded to the Chargers and will face the Raiders in Week One, but he says anyone he had a problem with during his contract dispute is long gone.
“I mean the people that I didn’t like probably aren’t there anymore,” Mack said, via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press. “I’ll always have respect for the organization.”
One person Mack did like is quarterback Derek Carr, who was drafted the same year as Mack.
“That’s my brother,” Mack said of Carr, via SI.com. “I like to talk trash here and there. I feel like that’s a bond that can’t be broken when it comes to that, but come Sunday it’s on and poppin’. . . . He’s an ultimate competitor. One of the best in the game. Somebody that I highly respect when it comes to the leadership aspect, as well as the quarterback position.”
Mack will try his best to sack Carr on Sunday, but they’ll share a hug after the game, and their motivation to beat each other is about competition, not revenge.
San Francisco tight end George Kittle is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Chicago, but he sounds optimistic about playing.
Kittle said on Friday that he has improved every day since suffering a groin injury on Monday and missing the rest of the week of practice.
“Feeling significantly better than where we were at Monday, even better than Wednesday, even better than Thursday,” Kittle said Friday after the injury report came out, via TheAthletic.com. “Taking great steps forward. Definitely doing everything I can to be on the field Sunday. I’ve had games in the past where I haven’t practiced all week and played. Hopefully, getting off the plane, I feel better tomorrow and [Sunday] and then I have an actual opportunity to be out there and play.”
Kittle is one of the most important players in the 49ers’ offense, and if he’s not able to go, that would be a big blow to quarterback Trey Lance. But Kittle appears to think he has a good chance of playing.
Von Miller could not have had a better debut with the Bills. The edge rusher made four tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss in Buffalo’s impressive season-opening rout of the Rams.
Cowboys’ Twitter immediately went into overdrive, thinking about what might have been.
After the Cowboys lost edge rusher Randy Gregory in free agency this spring, they showed interest in Miller. Miller grew up a huge Cowboys fan in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, which is 25 miles from AT&T Stadium.
Miller has said he was willing to give the Cowboys a “hometown discount.” But the Cowboys reportedly offered him the same five year, $70 million deal they offered Gregory, which included two guaranteed years.
Miller, 33, also had an offer with two guaranteed years from the Rams.
He received a six-year, $120 million deal with the Bills that includes $51.4 million guaranteed in the first three years.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones was asked Friday if he had any regrets after seeing what Miller did Thursday night.
“Von Miller is a great football player,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via Mark Lane of WFAA. “I mean, you see them play at that level and especially this early there is a lot of school of thought on older guys like that that when you really get those guys are for more so for the playoffs than it is for the first part, middle of the season. Now, granted, I’m sure there was a little bit of motivation for Von playing for the Rams and winning a Super Bowl to go out there and showcase what he’s all about. There is a lot of players that if there was unlimited cap space that you could do things, but that wasn’t a short-term, one-year deal. It was a long-term deal, and we had to not only look at what we’re doing this year but look at what is going to be coming at us here in a year or two. Just made a conscientious decision there that we wanted to go with the direction that we went.”
Miller, who has a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos and another with the Rams, has 117.5 career sacks. That ranks 31st in NFL history and first among active players.
The Cowboys instead signed Dante Fowler in free agency, and he will back up Dorance Armstrong opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Armstrong, Fowler and Lawrence have combined for 91 career sacks, though linebacker Micah Parsons had 13 sacks last season in winning NFL defensive rookie of the year honors.
The Broncos don’t have a bell cow running back. In any given game, they could.
Asked by reporters on Friday how he plans to split the workload between running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon (pictured), Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett gave an answer that will drive some fantasy-football players crazy.
“You can’t really say,” Hackett said. “I’ve always been a true believer in you always want to roll with the hot hand. One guy gets going, and you want to be sure you keep feeding that person. I think they’re going to be great complements to each other. I think that if both of them are hot, and you have to keep feeding them. It goes for the wide receivers, too. If one guy gets going, you have to give him the ball. As we’re saying, if anybody gets hot you have to continually feed them. It’s going to be different every game, I imagine.”
Hackett was asked to describe the skillsets of Williams and Gordon.
“I think we’re in a really good place with those two guys,” Hackett said. “Both of those guys can do so much. They can run inside and outside gap schemes. They can catch the ball from the backfield. They can both protect, which is huge. I think that having two guys like that, and then you throw [Mike] Boone in there and his ability to run. We saw a couple of good runs that he had the last game we played. He did some great things out of the backfield also catching the ball. We have three good ones there and we’re excited to give them the ball.”
In the end, there’s only one ball. And Russell Wilson will surely be throwing it down the field a good bit. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Broncos run and, when they do, which guy gets it.
Last year, Williams and Gordon split the carries right down the middle, with 203 each. In three nights, we’ll get the first glimpse of how Hackett will use them.
USA TODAY Sports
Earlier this week, Cam Akers said everyone would see Thursday night how healthy is. Health isn’t an issue; maximizing his opportunities is.
Coach Sean McVay challenged the running back to do just that after Akers played only 12 snaps in the Rams’ opener against the Bills.
“No matter who you’re talking about, you want to see guys do the little things the right way, compete with and without the ball,” McVay said, via Sarah Barshop of ESPN. “There were some instances where there were some positive things and some things that he can do better, but we want to see just an increased level of urgency and accountability snap in and snap out from him.”
Akers had three carries for no yards. Starter Darrell Henderson played 54 snaps and ran for 47 yards on 13 carries and caught five passes for 26 yards.
Akers might have seen even fewer chances if not for the early ankle injury to Kyren Williams.
With Williams out 6-8 weeks, the Rams will need Akers to backup Henderson.
McVay said he knows what Akers is “capable of,” which is why he’s confident Akers will be “that guy that we’ve all seen at the right moments as this season continues to progress.”
“We’ve all seen how talented and what a special player this guy’s capable of being,” McVay said. “And I want to see him reach his highest potential. And that’s really all there is to it. It’s not about anything other than when he and Darrell [Henderson] are playing at a high level, I feel really good about those two guys at running back for us.
“And the opportunities were minimal. There were some things that within each of those individual plays that I think that we can be better collectively, starting with me, then to the players around him, but also with Cam. And so it’s more of a reflection of the confidence that I know what he can be and I’m confident that he’ll be that guy that we’ve all seen at the right moments as this season continues to progress. And that’s our job to help get it out of him.”
Akers missed most of last season after tearing his Achilles, returning in time to play the regular-season finale as well as the team’s four postseason games. In the 2021 postseason, he rushed for 172 yards and caught eight passes for 76 yards. He didn’t look like he did in 2020 when he had 156 touches for 748 yards and three touchdowns.
On Thursday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll essentially gave Seattle fans express permission to let former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hear it on Monday night. On Friday, Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett shrugged at Carroll giving the 12s a license to boo.
“I kind of randomly heard that,” Hackett told reporters. “In the end, for us, it’s about just going out to win a football game. We know it’s going to be a hostile environment, no matter who the quarterback is out there. I think that just the entire organization — I know that they appreciate him, and they know all the games that he’s won and all the things that he’s done for that community and everybody. We are proud to have him here in Denver. We’re going to rally around him and, either way, it’s a hostile place, so we’re excited for it.”
Wilson’s return makes the natural hostility a little stronger, especially if fans blame him for the divorce. In fairness, both sides are responsible. The Seahawks refused to embrace him like a true franchise quarterback. Wilson wanted to be more central to the offense. After getting two market-value contracts, the Seahawks didn’t want to do it again. So they traded him to a team that would.
While the fans shouldn’t make it petty or personal (by chanting, say, “Go Hawks” or “Let’s Ride”), and they definitely shouldn’t boo him relentlessly like Packers fans razzed Brett Favre in 2009, there’s nothing wrong with being loud and raucous and disruptive to Wilson’s efforts to run the offense and to help the team win the game.
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