Bears Fear Season-Ending Injury For WR Darnell Mooney

The Bears were without their leading receiver by the end of today’s game, which could very well be his last appearance in 2022. Chicago fears Darnell Mooney suffered a season-ending ankle injury, as noted by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link).

During the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Jets, Mooney exited the contest and did not return. Pelissero notes that further testing will be done tomorrow to gather more information, but the worst-case scenario appears to be in play at this point. The loss of Mooney could be crippling given his importance to the Bears’ offense, and the team’s limited passing game.

Mooney entered the league with little fanfare as a fifth-round pick, but he showed considerable promise as a rookie in 2020 with 631 yards and three touchdowns. He took a sizeable step forward last year, notching 81 receptions, 1,055 yards and four scores. The free agent departure of Allen Robinson left the Tulane product as Chicago’s undisputed No. 1 pass-catcher, and he operated as such with a team-leading 493 yards while the Bears remained committed to a ground-heavy offense.

Assuming the 25-year-old is sidelined for the rest of the season, Chicago will likely turn even more to a committee approach in the passing game. Tight end Cole Kmet and running back David Montgomery rank second and third, respectively, in receiving yards this season. On the perimeter, N’Keal Harry – whom the Patriots traded to the Bears this summer – and Chase Claypool – acquired from the Steelers at the trade deadline – could take on larger roles moving forward, with the likes of Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle and rookie Velus Jones Jr. also being involved.

In other injury news, the Bears saw safety Eddie Jackson carted off the field today. He suffered a non-contact foot injury, one which likewise threatens to leave the rebuilding team without a key contributor for an extended time period. Especially if the Bears continue to operate without emerging quarterback Justin Fields, the remainder of the 2022 season will be one marked by injuries hampering any attempts at an offensive turnaround in particular.

Dolphins LT Terron Armstead Expected To Miss Time

The Dolphins came away with a comfortable win today, but their offensive line suffered a potentially significant blow in the process. Left tackle Terron Armstead exited the game with a pectoral injury, and is now facing the possibility of missing time for a stretch.

Armstead suffered the injury in the second quarter of the Dolphins’ win over the Texans, and did not return. Questions were raised about the severity of the ailment, and as such the length of Armstead’s absence, but the worst-case scenario appears to have been avoided. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the 31-year-old suffered a pec strain, and that the team hopes to have him available to return “relatively soon.”

Armstead missed Miami’s Week 6 contest, and had already been playing through a toe injury. This latest ailment could leave him sidelined for longer than that, though he is known for having a high pain threshold dating back to his nine seasons in New Orleans. Still, missed time was a constant during that portion of his career; the former third-rounder has yet to play in every game in a single season in his career.

Signed to a five-year, $75MM deal this offseason, Armstead represented one of numerous moves the Dolphins made at attempting to improve their offensive line. The three-time Pro Bowler had delivered a solid PFF grade of 76.3 heading into today, having yet to allow a sack. Any absence from him would put a dent in the Dolphins’ pass protection in particular.

Elsewhere on the o-line, right tackle Austin Jackson also left the game after suffering an ankle injury. It was that same issue which landed him on IR in September, interrupting his full-time transition to the RT spot. That position had been manned by Greg Little, then Brandon Shell, in Jackson’s absence. More shuffling involving those two, and potentially starting left guard Liam Eichenberg, who has left tackle experience, could be necessary depending on the severity of Armstead’s and Jackson’s respective injuries.

Rams WR Allen Robinson To Undergo Season-Ending Surgery

The Rams have been ravaged by injuries this offseason, and their pass-catching corps will be thinner to close out the disappointing 2022 campaign. Head coach Sean McVay said that wideout Allen Robinson will undergo surgery to repair a foot injury, and will miss the remainder of the season as a result.

Robinson suffered the injury on Friday. Providing further detail on the matter, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Robinson is dealing with a stress fracture, and the procedure will involve placing a screw in his foot (Twitter link). This news marks another significant blow to a Rams WR group which has been underwhelming this season and been hampered by injuries.

The most noteworthy of those, of course, is the high ankle sprain suffered by Cooper Kupp earlier in the month which has landed him on IR and forced him to undergo surgery of his own. He had established himself as the only consistent contributor for the Rams’ 19th-ranked passing attack. Kupp’s absence opened the door to a larger role for Robinson, but the latter failed to eclipse five catches or 63 yards in a game this season, his first in Los Angeles. His campaign will end with a 33-339-3 statline.

A one-time Pro Bowler, Robinson signed a three-year deal in March to operate as the Rams’ new compliment to Kupp, the role previously occupied by Robert Woods (and, briefly, Odell Beckham Jr). The fact that Robinson would have an accomplished quarterback to work with in Matthew Stafford led to significant optimism for a career-year, but nothing has gone according to plan offensively for the defending champions. Several injuries along the offensive line, ongoing drama with presumed lead running back Cam Akers and, now, multiple concussions suffered by Stafford have all set the unit back. The latter’s availability for the remainder of the season has been called into question, in no small part due to the team’s poor record.

With Robinson out until 2023, and Kupp unlikely to recover in time unless the 3-8 Rams qualify for the postseason, the team will now look to a number of unproven options at wideout. The unit will likely be led by Van Jefferson, who himself missed the first seven weeks of the season due to a knee injury. Other pass-catching options include Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell and Lance McCutcheon.

This news means 2022 will be the second consecutive season in which Robinson is unable to play a full season, as he was limited to 12 contests in his final Chicago campaign. He, and, in all likelihood, the Rams, will turn their attention to next year as this season winds down.

Free Agent WR Odell Beckham Jr. Escorted Off Plane After “Medical Emergency”

In the latest of the Odell Beckham Jr. saga, an incident at the Miami International Airport led to a confrontation with the Miami-Dade Police Department, first reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Beckham left the scene without further incident and no charges are expected to be filed against the NFL receiver.

On what was likely intended to be a free agent visit to his former team, the Rams, Beckham boarded a flight with a destination of Los Angeles. A statement from American Airlines reported that the flight “returned to the gate before takeoff due to a customer failing to follow crew member instructions and refusing to fasten their seatbelt,” according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The report from Miami-Dade PD referred to the incident as a “medical emergency,” responding to a call from the flight crew. The report claims that a concerned flight crew attempted to wake Beckham to ask him to fasten his seatbelt. Beckham appeared to be drifting in and out of consciousness, making the flight crew fear for his health. Thinking him seriously ill and concerned about how his condition may worsen on the five-hour flight, the flight crew called for emergency services.

When officers arrived, Beckham reportedly refused the flight crew’s requests to exit the aircraft. The entire aircraft was eventually deplaned, and Beckham was instructed by the authorities to exit, as well. Beckham complied with the officers’ request and was escorted to a “non-secure area of the terminal” where he was able make new flight arrangements.

A statement from Beckham’s attorney, Daniel Davilier, provided by Rapoport, attempts to ensure that the narrative of this incident does not reflect poorly on his client. In the statement, Davilier calls the flight crew “overzealous,” explaining that Beckham was simply performing his long-flight routine of sleeping with a blanket over his head. He claims that, since the flight crew was able to wake Beckham back at the terminal, they shouldn’t have had any issues waking him on the tarmac. Davilier emphasizes that Beckham was “at no time…disrputive or combative.”

Beckham appears fine after the incident. In a series of tweets, Beckham exclaimed a disbelief for what he had gone through, chalking it up as a non-serious event. This is just the latest in what has been a fairly eventful free agency for the veteran wide receiver. He is still reportedly expected to visit his other former team, the Giants, before planning visits with the Bills and Cowboys, as well.

Latest On Rams QB Matthew Stafford

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is missing his second game of the season today in concussion protocol. With the Rams at 3-7 coming into today with seven games left in the season, there are some questions on how to handle the 34-year-old’s health for the rest of the year.

Stafford’s first missed game due to a concussion a couple weeks ago was the result of Stafford self-reporting symptoms following the team’s Week 9 loss to the Buccaneers. He was placed in concussion protocols and sat out the division contest against the Cardinals the next week.

This time, Stafford was experiencing what are called crossover symptoms that could seem like a concussion but may not be. In the team’s recent loss to the Saints last weekend, Stafford was pulled from the game when he experienced a stinger to his neck. He began to feel numbness in his legs, which can be a sign of head or neck injury, and since the Rams were not able to rule out a concussion during the game, Stafford was held out and placed in concussion protocol.

Looking at the Rams’ plans for the remainder of the season, we begin to get conflicting reports. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network claims that multiple sources have said “there are no current plans to shut down Stafford for the remainder of the season.” In another report, the Rams reportedly “are uncertain when or if (Stafford) will return this season,” according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Rapoport claims that, despite the team’s record, Los Angeles hopes to return Stafford to the field when he’s cleared in order to perhaps make a push for a wild card spot down the final stretch of the season. Schefter doesn’t rule out that possibility but emphasizes that, similar to the injury to wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the Rams “feel there is no need to rush back an injured player,” after losing four straight games and six of their last seven.

In the meantime, while they determine how to proceed, they are getting a look at their backup options. After John Wolford started during Stafford’s first absence, Bryce Perkins, who went undrafted out of Virginia in 2020, is currently playing in his first career start against the Chiefs today.

Latest On Commanders DE Chase Young

Washington’s defensive line will have to wait at least another week to be 100% as defensive end Chase Young‘s 2022 debut has been pushed at least another week, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. This will be the Commanders’ 20th-straight game without the former second-overall pick.

It has taken a full calendar year for Young to work his way back from the ACL tear that ended his sophomore season. He’s been slowly but surely making progress, leading the Commanders to activate him from the physically unable to perform list earlier this week.

This week had reportedly been the first that Young was looking the way they’ve wanted him to post-recovery, according to ESPN’s John Keim. He likely was on track to make his season debut this week, but it appears an illness will hold him out of play for at least one more week. A few other players reportedly caught the bug lately, but the good news is that it wasn’t his physical ability that held him off the field today.

The Commanders pass rush has done perfectly fine without him but adding him back to the starting lineup could give Washington one of the top pass rushing defensive lines in the league. Coming into today’s game, defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne led the team with 6.5 sacks apiece. Defensive end Montez Sweat just trailed them with six of his own.

Young’s second year wasn’t quite as productive as his first, but if he can return to the pass rushing form of his rookie season, when he collected 7.5 sacks, the Washington pass rush will be dangerous. Young also provides production outside of sack totals. He’s extremely disruptive with 13.0 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits in his young NFL career. He’s also a bit of a ball-hawk, knocking down six passes, forcing six fumbles, and recovering three, returning one for a touchdown.

The return of Young if he is 100% will be a huge boost for the Commanders as they continue fighting to keep up with the rest of the NFC East. Unfortunately, he’ll have to wait at least one more week.

Latest On Von Miller

A Thanksgiving Day injury for star pass rusher Von Miller initially had some Bills fans hitting the panic button, but as updates continue to pour in, we are getting a clearer picture of the situation. The most recent update tells us that Miller will take seven to 10 days to allow the swelling to go down in his knee, allowing for a better evaluation, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports.

As unfortunate as it is to likely lose Miller for a game or two, the news has been increasingly optimistic in Buffalo. Initial fears of an ACL tear were downgraded to a knee sprain. Even now, Miller is reportedly remaining optimistic about the eventual reevaluation, boosted by the assurance that he’s been in this situation before, when an ankle injury sidelined him for the entire 2020 season.

The Bills’ tremendous pass-rushing group has been hampered lately with injuries. Last year’s first-round pick out of Miami, Gregory Rousseau, has missed the team’s last three games and A.J. Epenesa was out for the Turkey Day matchup with the Lions. Buffalo still has two extremely capable edge pass rushers in Boogie Basham and Shaq Lawson but losing the team’s top three sack-leaders is never going to be an ideal scenario.

Buffalo is staying calm and remaining optimistic. They’ll have a second straight Thursday game this week in New England and will have a 10-day rest period before hosting two straight home games. Knowing that Miller won’t travel for the next three weeks is ideal. They’ll gauge the damage again after their road trip to the Patriots and have a full week to determine next steps.

Giants, QB Daniel Jones Did Not Engage In Extension Talks

The Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones did not engage in extension discussions prior to GM Joe Schoen‘s self-imposed Week 10 deadline to talk contract, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. So, as expected, the contract situations of Jones and running back Saquon Barkley — both of whom are eligible for unrestricted free agency in March — will be atop Schoen’s agenda this offseason.

Interestingly, Schoen did engage in extension negotiations with Barkley and defensive back Julian Love during New York’s Week 9 bye, and while those conversations did not lead to a new deal for either player, it is notable that Giants brass did not at least check in with Jones’ camp. That is especially true in light of September reports that Schoen and first-year head coach Brian Daboll harbored “major concerns” about Jones’ viability as a long-term option.

Since those earlier reports, New York has gone 6-4, and Jones has performed much better under Daboll than he did during his first three years in the league. Still, as Raanan acknowledges, there is a difference between being a legitimate NFL starter and being a franchise cornerstone, and it is unclear if Jones’ improved play in 2022 has been enough to convince the team that he is worthy of a lengthy accord.

Indeed, Jones has not played especially well over the last two games, both of which resulted in losses that have threatened to sour a pleasantly-surprising season. On the other hand, his 58.5 QBR — supported by a 10:4 TD:INT ratio and 64.6% completion percentage — is the 10th-best mark in the NFL. He has already set career-highs with 451 rushing yards and four rushing scores, and he has compiled those numbers on a strong 5.7 YPC rate. He has also led four fourth-quarter comebacks this season, and the team’s dearth of receiving talent has made his work more impressive.

One NFC general manager tells Raanan that the Giants’ best option would be to re-sign Jones this offseason, but a different NFC exec says he does not see Jones as a franchise player. Yet another NFC exec sees Jones as a bridge option and believes a one-year, $15MM-$20MM deal would make the most sense for the Giants. However, former GM Mike Tannenbaum thinks Jones is an “ascending player” who can reasonably expect a multi-year deal worth ~$25MM/year, especially given the supply-and-demand dynamics of the QB market that benefit even flawed signal-callers.

Whether Schoen is willing to pay Jones that type of money remains to be seen, and his decision may be impacted (to some degree) by Barkley’s situation. Former NFL agent Joel Corry projects the franchise tag for RBs to come in at roughly $10.1MM, which is a better number than the ~$12MM projections that have been floated and which is much more appealing than the projected ~$31.5MM franchise tag figure for QBs (via Dan Duggan of The Athletic on Twitter).

That said, the Giants are reportedly willing to pony up a top-of-the-market contract for Barkley, and Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post says talks between player and team were encouraging. Perhaps a multi-year contract for Barkley — which will allow the team to smooth out his 2023 cap hit — coupled with a tag for Jones will be the most satisfactory result for all parties involved.

Bears To Start QB Trevor Siemian In Week 12

NOVEMBER 27, 12:04pm: Scratch that. Siemian is under center for the Bears, with Peterman operating as the backup.

NOVEMBER 27, 11:29am: Fields is indeed inactive for Sunday’s contest against the Jets, and in even worse news for the Bears, Siemian injured his oblique during pregame warmups (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network). Therefore, Peterman will be making his first start since Week 9 of the 2018 season, while Siemian will serve as his backup.

As Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com tweets, RB David Montgomery is Chicago’s emergency signal-caller.

NOVEMBER 26: It sounds like the Bears are preparing for tomorrow’s game as if they won’t have Justin Fields under center. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (via Twitter) that Chicago has promoted quarterback Nathan Peterman from the practice squad.

Fields has been nursing a shoulder injury that resulted in him being listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Jets. The QB told reporters that he’s dealing with a separated shoulder with partially torn ligaments, and while he acknowledged that he’s feeling better every day, he was still limited on Thursday and Friday before earning his official questionable designation.

“I think we’re going to let it go up to the game,” coach Matt Eberflus said (via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin). “We’ll try to do that. We think that’s where it is, and we’ll see where he is at game time and see how he feels.”

If Fields doesn’t play, veteran Trevor Siemian will likely earn his first start of the season. The Bears had been rolling with only two quarterbacks on their active roster prior to today’s transaction. Garafolo notes that the Bears will likely take their starting QB decision down to game time.

As for Peterman, the veteran QB has spent the majority of the 2022 season on Chicago’s practice squad. Following a one-plus-year stint with the Bills to start his career, Peterman spent the better part of the past four seasons with the Raiders. He only got into a pair of games during his time with the organization, completing three of his five pass attempts.

Steve Wilks Making “Strong Push” For Panthers’ Permanent HC Post

Since taking over for Matt Rhule in October, Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks has been making the most of a difficult situation. Although Carolina is 2-4 with Wilks at the helm, a missed extra point was the deciding factor in a Week 8 loss to the Falcons, and the Panthers and Ravens were tied 3-3 midway through the fourth quarter of their Week 11 contest before several late turnovers sealed a Baltimore victory.

Simply put, the Panthers have been more competitive under Wilks, and as Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, owner David Tepper has taken notice. Earlier reporting indicated that Tepper would want an experienced option as his permanent replacement for Rhule, and while Wilks’ previous head coaching gig lasted only one season — a disappointing 3-13 campaign with the Cardinals in 2018 — his time in Arizona and his stint as Carolina’s interim HC will give him 28 games as a sideline general by the time the 2022 season comes to an end.

Whether that is sufficient experience for Tepper remains to be seen. One factor working against Wilks is that his background is on the defensive side of the ball; outside of his time as a head coach, all of his jobs in the collegiate and professional ranks have been as a defensive coach or coordinator, and per Jones, Tepper is seeking an “up-and-coming offensive mind.”

It’s worth noting that Jones’ report and the prior reports concerning Tepper’s desire for an experienced former NFL head coach do not necessarily mesh. Someone with significant NFL head coaching experience probably does not qualify as an “up-and-coming” offensive guru, which puts one in mind of Sean McVay before he was hired by the Rams, or Kevin Stefanski before he was hired by the Browns. If Tepper does tab someone other than Wilks as his permanent HC, perhaps it will be a candidate like Lions OC Ben Johnson, who — unlike Rhule when he joined the Panthers — at least has considerable NFL experience, even if none of it has come at the head coaching level.

One way or another, Jones says Wilks is “making a strong push” to have the interim label removed from his title. Carolina’s recent fortunes have been undermined by the team’s quarterback situation, as its 2020 Teddy Bridgewater acquisition and subsequent trades for former top draft choices Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield have yielded nothing but disappointment. The locker room support that Wilks presently enjoys, the adjustments he has made due to inconsistent QB play — adjustments that have resulted in an improved running game despite the trade of Christian McCaffrey — and the club’s competitive fire under Wilks will certainly give Tepper a lot to consider.

Of course, as Jones acknowledges, Wilks’ win-loss record over the final six games of the season will also factor into Tepper’s decision. Wilks’ efforts to secure the permanent HC post will continue in Sunday’s Week 12 battle with the Broncos, a game in which Darnold will make his 2022 debut.

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