October 30, 2018 / 1:07 AM / 7 months ago

FLM ALL 32: Team-by-team NFL notes

Oct 29, 2018; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports


Buffalo Bills: The Bills hosted “Monday Night Football” for the first time since Nov. 17, 2008. And when the Bills and New England Patriots clashed at New Era Field in Orchard Park, N.Y., local police were ready. Undersheriff Mark Wipperman of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office told The Buffalo News that there will be extra security to help screen fans as they enter the stadium. “Unfortunately, this rivalry brings out the worst in fan behavior,” Wipperman told the newspaper. The Bills are 0-3 against the Patriots on Monday nights, and the Bills haven’t won a Monday night game since Oct. 4, 1999, against the Miami Dolphins with Doug Flutie at quarterback. Their last Monday night home win came on Sept. 26, 1994, when Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas led the Bills to a 27-20 victory against the John Elway-led Denver Broncos.

Miami Dolphins: Coach Adam Gase said Monday his 4-4 team is still in the playoff hunt and he wouldn’t just rubber stamp a trade proposal if the front office ran one by him before the trade deadline on Tuesday. “If they brought me something that they thought was a great idea, then I would do what’s best for the organization, but it’s highly unlikely something like that can happen,” Gase said Monday. He said he expects that wide receiver DeVante Parker will remain with the team, even though Parker has been the subject of trade rumors. The Dolphins are one of eight teams in the AFC with a record of at least .500. Six teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs.

New England Patriots: Rob Gronkowski has been battling injuries but is expected to play Monday night against the Buffalo Bills. And he wouldn’t want it any other way. Raised in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, N.Y., he grew up as a Bills fan, and he’s put on a show for the hometown folks every time he’s played at New Era Field. In seven career games at Buffalo, he has 44 receptions for 730 yards and seven touchdowns. The only time he failed to gain at least 90 yards receiving was as a rookie in 2010, when he still caught two touchdowns. “It’s always special. This is my seventh, eighth time going up there, playing in Buffalo, and it’s always an honor, always special [to be] where you grew up watching them,” he said. “You can’t ask for a better football atmosphere either, especially this coming Monday night. It’s going to be rocking there. It’s going to be popping. It’s going to be one of the most electric atmospheres you can get in football.”

New York Jets: Quarterback Sam Darnold refused to blame not being at full strength for the team’s 24-10 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. “We had some good reps in practice,” Darnold said, per the Jets’ website. “I thought we had a good week of practice, but at the same time, it is what it is. Injuries happen. It’s football, it’s a contact sport. Guys sometimes are going to get hurt. I thought the guys, for the most part, stepped up today.” Instead, he put the loss on a lack of execution, including penalties. The New York offensive line took seven penalties. “It’s frustrating for everyone,” he said. “We just have to play better. It’s about staying in manageable down and distances. First and second down running the football and completing the football. That’s really all it is. If we can do that, we’ll be a good football team.”


Baltimore Ravens: Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley left the stadium Sunday in a walking boot, but coach John Harbaugh had no update on his status one day later. Harbaugh voiced his support for Jermaine Eluemunor, who was promoted from the practice squad on Oct. 23. After falling behind by 17 points to the Panthers, the left side of the line was comprised of Hroniss Grasu at left guard and Eluemunor at tackle. Harbaugh said the Ravens will be ready to fight back from their 4-4 record — one game out of first place in the AFC North. “It’s not as bad as it felt after the game,” Harbaugh said Monday.

Cincinnati Bengals: Rookie first-round pick Billy Price returned to practice last week and head coach Marvin Lewis said he could have played Sunday against the Buccaneers. But Price, who thought he would be back for Week 6, is likely to resume full-contact work at center this week. Lewis said there is again a chance Price would be with the starters at center when the Bengals return from their bye Week 11. What Lewis wouldn’t say was whether he might bring back Hue Jackson. The former Bengals’ offensive coordinator from fired as Browns head coach on Monday. Lewis and Jackson talk by phone every week, and bringing him back for the rest of the season in some role is not out of the question. But Lewis would only say “I’m not going to make a headline.”

Cleveland Browns: Quarterback Baker Mayfield said the Browns don’t need to reinvent the wheel on offense, but perfect what they know they can already do well. “We need to perfect our craft. You look at the good teams around the league, they work hard at what they do and they become good at it,” Mayfield said. “We have what we have. We don’t need to try and change too much. We just need to get better at what we’re doing.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: As Le’Veon Watch inches toward a fourth month, the Steelers are more confident and comfortable with running back James Conner by the week. Conner has 922 yards from scrimmage — 16 shy of the franchise record through seven games held by holdout Le’Veon Bell — this season and is the first player in franchise history with 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns in three consecutive games. “We knew the splash plays were on the way,” Conner said. As weather turns colder in the Northeast, Conner said he’s not planning to change a thing. “I’m from up here, I’m used to the cold. I try to bring the same energy, the same mindset all season.”


Houston Texans: Quarterback Deshaun Watson will be able to fly with the team for this Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, according to coach Bill O’Brien. Watson took a bus to get to a road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks ago while nursing rib and lung injuries. Of course, the mile-high altitude looms as a concern but O’Brien said that doesn’t only apply to Watson. “I think the altitude is a factor for everybody, whether you’re injured or not,” O’Brien said. “I think that’s something we’re talking about relative to preparing for that. Look, I think we’re only out there — we get there Saturday, we play Sunday. I’m not sure how much of an effect it would have but I think that’s something we’re talking about with all the resources we have here.”

Indianapolis Colts: Adam Vinatieri became the all-time leader in points scored (2,550) during Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders when he passed Hall of Famer Morten Andersen, and the 45-year-old kicker got emotional afterward when coach Frank Reich awarded him the game ball. “I never thought I’d play this long and have the opportunity to be standing here talking about this right now,” Vinatieri told reporters. “But you know I love my teammates, all of them, for the last 23 years unselfishly, for going out there and letting me do my job and help me do my job and (make) a lot of great memories along the way.” Vinatieri scored 10 points — two field goals, four extra points — after working through a groin injury during the week.

Jacksonville Jaguars: It is a good time for a bye as the Jaguars have dropped four straight games. “We’re underachievers right now,” standout defensive end Calais Campbell said one day after the team’s 24-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in London. Jacksonville hasn’t won since the final day of September and stands two games behind the first-place Houston Texans in the division race. The Jaguars are 0-2 in AFC South games, losing to both Houston and the Tennessee Titans. “We can’t give away any more division games, that’s just the way it goes,” Campbell said. “We’ve got to keep our belief strong. No matter what the outside noise says or does, we just have to keep our belief strong. Five losses in this league this early really sucks, but five losses throughout the season ... that’s not bad at all. That’s a heck of a year.”

Tennessee Titans: The bye week following three straight losses came at a good time for Tennessee, which will play for the first time in 15 days when it visits the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. Two of the losses were by one point and the team could use improved play from quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (three) through seven games. Coach Mike Vrabel defended Mariota’s performance and pointed out that he has repeatedly had strong fourth quarters. Meanwhile, the Titans brought back fullback Jalston Fowler to the 53-man roster. Fowler played in 42 games over three seasons for Tennessee before being released last December. The Titans waived linebacker Robert Spillane to create a roster spot.


Denver Broncos: Head coach Vance Joseph acknowledged Monday that he and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas have “talked openly” about trade rumors amid reports that the veteran could be dealt before Tuesday’s deadline. “I’m not surprised teams are calling, but it’s no guarantee he’s going to get moved,” Joseph said of the chances of Thomas getting traded. Joseph added that general manager John Elway has not spoken with him about the possibility of dealing Thomas. “Obviously, that’s John’s department and I’m sure he’s getting calls and he’s probably making some calls,” Joseph said. “But, he has not. It’s my job to coach the team and to coach the players. That’s my focus.”

Kansas City Chiefs: Part of the challenge of defending the offense is how the Chiefs continue to show new looks each week. Head coach Andy Reid said it goes back to how the team installs plays during organized team activities and training camp, with an eye on having new wrinkles to add to the game plan each week during the season. “We’re able to draw from that a little bit,” Reid told reporters. “We are always trying to give you a different look so that when you get here, you don’t have to go back or run out of things. We keep it pretty fresh and it keeps the guys fresh every week. It’s a nice little challenge for them.”

Los Angeles Chargers: Head coach Anthony Lynn left the door cracked for defensive end Joey Bosa to return from a foot injury this week, despite a report on Sunday that Bosa isn’t “anywhere near” ready to play. “I don’t want to rule him out,” Lynn said. “I think earlier in the year, I was comfortable doing that. Now he’s getting closer, so I don’t want to rule him out right now.” Lynn added that there’s been no rush to get the former Defensive Rookie of the Year on the field, as the Chargers have taken a conservative approach. “We’ve been really cautious with it the whole time,” Lynn said. “We’re not going to put him back on the field until he’s ready, I can tell you that.” Bosa was hurt in mid-August and has practiced just once since.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have cycled through a number of options at cornerback this season, as no corner has played more than 70.9 percent (Leon Hall) of the defensive snaps, but four others (Gareon Conley, Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Worley, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) have played at least 31.9 percent. Another name jumping into the mix is Nick Nelson, a rookie fourth-rounder who played 21 snaps in his NFL debut Sunday after returning from a meniscus injury. Head coach Jon Gruden acknowledged the rotation could hurt some players’ confidence, but also said that perspective could “be an excuse” for poor play. “We’re still working through who are the best corners, who is the best combination for us in every situation,” Gruden said. “Hopefully, we can settle on it soon.”


Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys fired offensive line coach Paul Alexander just seven games into his first season with the team. Marc Colombo, a former offensive tackle for the Cowboys who served as the assistant offensive line coach, was promoted to the lead position. Former offensive line coach Hudson Houck will serve in an advisory role for the offensive line. “While approaching the midpoint of the season, and going through an overall evaluation of our entire operation during the bye week, we felt that this move would serve the best interests of our team moving forward,” head coach Jason Garrett said in a team news release. “These are not easy decisions to make at any time of the year, but we will move ahead with the utmost confidence in what Marc Colombo and Hudson Houck will bring to our team in their new roles.” Quarterback Dak Prescott has been sacked 23 times, tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. Known for his unorthodox approach, Alexander spent the previous 24 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before being fired in January.

New York Giants: The Giants held a workout for 16 free agents — eight on offense, eight on defense — at their practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J., on Monday, according to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson. Among the reported players in attendance were QB Connor Cook, RB Akeem Hunt, DE Will Clark and LB Corey Nelson. The extensive tryout could be a signal that the 1-7 Giants plan to be active before the trading deadline, which is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. It is possible the Giants could make several roster moves this week as they head into their bye. After a 20-13 loss at home to the Redskins on Sunday, the Giants next play on Nov. 12 against the San Francisco 49ers (1-7). One likely roster move is the activation of rookie defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh, who has missed all football activities since he joined the team with a thyroid condition. He started practicing two weeks ago.

Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Foles guided the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship in February, but come Tuesday, he might find himself with another team. NFL reporter Jason La Canfora included Foles on his list of the “most realistic” candidates to be traded before the trade deadline on Tuesday. The Eagles would take a salary cap hit of more than $20 million if they pick up Foles’ 2019 option (which he could also decline, if he pays back a $2 million signing bonus), and the Eagles are grooming Nate Sudfield to take over the backup quarterback role behind Carson Wentz. Teams that could be on the lookout for a veteran quarterback at the trade deadline are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. Coach Doug Pederson had this to say about the possibility of making a deal at the trade deadline: “If it values the Eagles and helps us win games, we’ll see.”

Washington Redskins: It’s an understatement to say coach Jay Gruden liked what he saw of his defense during his team’s 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. They sacked quarterback Eli Manning seven times and limited rookie running back Saquon Barkley to 38 yards rushing, a continuation of a strong run defense. “It is unbelievable, really,” Gruden said, via NBC Sports Washington, commenting on their effort in the past three games against the Giants, Carolina and Dallas. “These are three really, really good backs. [Ezekiel Elliott] and Barkley back-to-back, and obviously McCaffrey, but also don’t forget about Cam Newton and Prescott, they are great runners with the ball also.”


Chicago Bears: Tight end Zach Miller held a press conference on the one-year anniversary of a devastating leg injury, and subsequent limb-saving surgery, in New Orleans. Miller, re-signed to a one-year deal in the offseason, said he has a long way to go but still has a desire to return to the football field. “I’m very happy with where I’m at,” Miller said at Halas Hall. Head coach Matt Nagy said Miller is a constant presence at the team facility. “Zach is one of my favorite people I’ve been around in a long time. I absolutely love the kid,” Nagy said. As for active players, Nagy said offensive guard Kyle Long has a right foot injury — he left the game on a cart Sunday — but the team doesn’t yet know the severity of the injury or when Long might be able to return.

Detroit Lions: The status of left tackle Taylor Decker is up in the air for Sunday’s game at Minnesota. Head coach Matt Patricia confirmed Decker was out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday due to “an injury situation” but the Lions will not provide information until a complete “evaluation” is finished, Patricia said. Without Decker, and facing a lopsided deficit, quarterback Matthew Stafford felt significant pressure. “We didn’t play well enough as an offense, defense probably didn’t stop the run well enough,” Stafford said. “You’ve got to prove it every week.”

Green Bay Packers: As more than a touchdown underdog, the defense didn’t leave a loss to the Rams in Los Angeles feeling entirely defeated. In addition to the inspired play by defensive end Mike Daniels and cornerback Jaire Alexander, the Packers believe they found some footing as a defensive group. “I thought our defense played really well,” outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. “It shows the type of team we have and the type of team we can be. We obviously gave up some points but ... we competed all day long and I thought for the most part held them in check.” Daniels said: “We played football the way we were supposed to play.”

Minnesota Vikings: Head coach Mike Zimmer said improvement in certain aspects of the game didn’t lead to a win Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints, primarily because of turnovers. But he didn’t want mistakes on a few plays to overshadow the overall performance of the team. “Defensively, I feel like we’re eliminating some of the things that hurt us early in the year. The running game is getting better,” Zimmer said. “I’m not disappointed. We’ve got eight more games to go.”


Atlanta Falcons: The team stands three games behind first-place New Orleans and two behind second-place Carolina, making Tuesday’s trading deadline a curious time with six starters currently on injured reserve. But whether Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff might seek reinforcements via trade or use the deadline to be sellers remains a mystery. However, coach Dan Quinn is fine with standing pat and doesn’t anticipate any action. “Not at this point,” Quinn said. “Thomas and I certainly discuss options. Obviously, he fields calls for our team and other teams, people that reach out. But we really feel like this team that we have and where we’re at and how we can go attack the year, we’ve got the right men in the building to do that.”

Carolina Panthers: Safety Mike Adams is playing well in the back end and has recorded three of the team’s nine interceptions. Adams’ pick during Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens was the 30th of his career. The 15-year veteran twice has intercepted five passes in a season — in 2014 and 2015 when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts. There could be an opportunity for more interceptions on Sunday when the Panthers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has thrown a league-worst 15 interceptions but has named Ryan Fitzpatrick to start over Jameis Winston (four picks on Sunday). “They may have had their issues, but both of them can light it up and produce a lot of yards and a lot of points at any given time,” defensive coordinator Eric Washington said of the Bucs’ QBs. “We’ve seen that from them this year.”

New Orleans Saints: Safety Marcus Williams was happy to get Sunday night’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings over with, and it wasn’t because of his dubious role in the “Minneapolis Miracle,” the play in which he whiffed on a tackle as Stefon Diggs caught the game-winning touchdown pass to send the Vikings to the NFC title game last January. Williams’ grandfather died Tuesday of cancer, the second family member in less than two years to succumb to the disease. “So it was an emotional game for me just because of them, but I held it back until after the game, and I just went out there and played my all,” Williams said. “I put them on my shoulders and I just played for them.” The 22-year-old has one interception this season after having four last year as a rookie.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With the season teetering, coach Dirk Koetter decided Monday that perhaps there is more “FitzMagic” to be created. Koetter announced the Buccaneers are going back to Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback for this Sunday’s game against the Panthers. Fitzpatrick (13 touchdowns, five interceptions) started the first four games of the season before turnover-prone Jameis Winston (six touchdowns, 10 interceptions) started the last three. “That’s what we feel like we need to do this week to give ourselves the best chance,” Koetter said of the switch. “It’s just for right now. The most important thing we’ve got is this week. We’ll just have to see how things go. I don’t like switching quarterbacks, it’


Arizona Cardinals: At 21 years and 260 days, Josh Rosen became the youngest quarterback in the Super Bowl era to rally his team from a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit to victory on Sunday against the 49ers. After staying cool under pressure and hitting Christian Kirk for the winning 9-yard score, he’s drawing plenty of praise from teammates and coaches. “Nothing really fazes this guy in a negative way,” head coach Steve Wilks said Monday. “He takes everything and he tries to learn from it. ...This experience, particularly that last drive, is going to help him grow.” Larry Fitzgerald, who had a season-high eight catches for 102 yards and a score, offered similar words. “He always has that belief in his voice and you can see the conviction in his eyes,” Fitzgerald said of Rosen.

Los Angeles Rams: Running back Todd Gurley drew the ire of fantasy owners and gamblers on Sunday when he voluntarily stayed out of the end zone to help the Rams run out the clock in a 29-27 win over the Packers, but he wasn’t worried about anything but the victory. “Man, forget fantasy and forget Vegas,” Gurley said afterward. “We got the win, so that’s all that matters.” Head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff told reporters the offense talked about the situation beforehand, but both said Gurley probably would have done the same without any direction, as he did to close out a win as a rookie in 2015. “He’s a smart player,” Goff said. “A lot smarter, I think, than he wants people to think.”

San Francisco 49ers: For the second time in three weeks and third time this year, the 49ers were unable to close out a fourth-quarter lead on Sunday, this time blowing a 12-point advantage in Arizona. Like in Green Bay two weeks ago, San Francisco had the opportunity to end the game on offense with a first down or two, and then failed to hold up in a two-minute situation on defense. “It’s something we’ve got to do to get better and get over that hump,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It comes down to, you can do a lot of things throughout a game, but when it comes down to the end when we need to close people out and we need some closers to do that. We’ve had some opportunities to do it.”

Seattle Seahawks: Rookie punter Michael Dickson’s mad dash for a late first down against the Detroit Lions caught everyone by surprise, including the team’s coaches, who had called for Dickson to take an intentional safety with the Seahawks backed up to their own end zone. Dickson moved to his right and was going to step out of bounds until he saw a lane open. “There was a couple of big, big cuss words,” head coach Pete Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle radio Monday of his reaction while watching the play. “The headphones are popping off our ears. But it was — what a moment. That was a really fun moment. I swear to God, I’m looking right down the sideline, I think Mike was smiling as he’s running, he’s thinking, ‘Oh,!’”

—Field Level Media

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