Patrick Robinson Enters Concussion Protocol

The Eagles were able to escape the Meadowlands with a narrow victory over the Giants, but may have lost a critical member of their secondary for at least a short amount of time. Following the game, cornerback Patrick Robinson reported concussion-like symptoms and now is in concussion protocol, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Patrick Robinson (Vertical)

Robinson, 30, signed with the Eagles this past offseason and has started on the boundaries for all of the team’s games in 2017. Philadelphia’s success on the defensive side of the ball mainly stems from their exceptional front seven, but the secondary has produced well in their own respect thus far, especially considering the generally low expectations entering the year.

Robinson currently ranks as the fifth best corner in football, according to the metrics at Pro Football Focus. He’s also accumulated a coverage grade of 90.4, which ranks top five in the NFL as well. Losing the veteran defensive back would be a big loss, but it’s negated by the fact that the Eagles are close to locking up home field advantage in the NFC, and can possibly afford to let Robinson get fully healthy before the start of postseason football.

Should he miss game time, Philadelphia would turn to both Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas to help fellow starting corner Jalen Mills on the outside. Both corners are clearly a step back from Robinson’s current play, but he should be able to make a full recovery before the team’s first playoff game at the very least.

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NFC Notes: Burton, Foles, Saints, Floyd

Trey Burton has been a quality under-the-radar performer for the Eagles this season and he could find himself with a very robust market entering free agency this offseason, opines Mike Garafolo of NFL.com in a video on Twitter.

Burton, 26, has produced solid numbers as the backup to one of the best tight ends in the game in Zach Ertz. However, the former undrafted free agent has stepped up when Ertz has been banged up. Garafolo notes that Burton has caught three touchdown passes in the last two games, when Ertz has not been 100%.

Coming from the University of Florida, Burton didn’t really have a position entering the draft, but has seemingly found a role as a versatile tight end/receiver in the Philadelphia offensive scheme. The tight end market is not very deep either, with their being a noticeable dip after the likes of Jimmy Graham and Tyler Eifert. Given his recent play, you can expect Burton could be a name that gets more money than you may expect given his relative lack of a track record.

Let’s take a look at more notes throughout the NFC:

  • Nick Foles led the Eagles to victory over the Giants in his first start since Carson Wentz was lost for the season. It was an encouraging performance for the former third round pick, who pondered retirement just two years ago, reports Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia. It was after the 2015 season when the quarterback really gave some thought to hanging it up. “Yes, I sat there and talked with my wife,” Foles said. “You go through a lot of emotions. Changing teams, being traded, going there, going through that year, and once I was a free agent, we just sort of sat there and said, ‘Hey what do we want to do?'” Nick Foles eventually decided to stay in the league and was a backup for a season in Kansas City before making his way to the Eagles this past offseason. Foles has a bit of a track record in the league and is looking to continue to build on his rebound story in the playoffs.
  • The Saints lost a few players to injury during their win over the Jets on Sunday afternoon. Guard Larry Warford and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui both were forced to leave the game with concussions, according to Joel Erickson of The New Orleans Advocate. Erickson adds that guard Andrus Peat was also active to start the contest, but was held out because of a groin injury. He was available in an emergency role, with backup guards Senio Kelemete and Josh LeRibeus taken the starting sports when both starting offensive lineman were unable to play. Hopefully all three players will recover fully for the team’s critical Week 16 affair against the Falcons. The game will have major implications to who ultimately will win the ultra-competitive NFC South.
  • Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd expressed that he is more at peace and hopes to be back in Minnesota next year, in a deep diving piece from Chris Tomasson of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. “I would like to stay here, for sure,” Floyd said. “I love this place.” While the former Cardinals and Pats wideout has seemingly got his life together, it’s an uphill battle considering the quality depth of the position on the team, which includes Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell and Jarius Wright.

Rex Burkhead Avoids Serious Injury

Rex Burkhead was forced to leave the Patriots game vs. the Steelers after suffering an apparent leg injury. However, it appears that the running back did not tear his ACL and should not miss much time, a league source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Rex Burkhead (Vertical)

The veteran reporter adds that Burkhead could “miss a little time”, but is not expected to be the type of injury that puts his potential postseason appearance in jeopardy. The former Bengal signed with New England this past offseason and has just gotten more involved in the offense as the season has worn on.

The 27-year-old has found the endzone in each of the past five games, seemingly becoming the team’s go-to red zone back. Even if the running back does miss a bit of game action, the Patriots are deep in the backfield as the likes of James White, Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee and Brandon Bolden should be more than enough to hold down the fort.

The Patriots are now in the driver’s seat for homefield advantage in the AFC after beating the Steelers in Week 14. Bill Belichick‘s team finishes off the regular season with home games against the Bills and the Jets.

 

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Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson To Sell Team

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has been in the news for the wrong reasons after recent allegations of work misconduct came to light over the past few days. However, in a sudden shift, the longtime owner has announced that he will be selling the franchise this offseason.

Jerry Richardson

In his statement, Richardson provided little detail about why he was stepping away from football, but you can expect that it stems from the current NFL investigation reviewing Richardson’s behavior in the workplace since entering the league in 1995.

It has been reported that the investigation deals with both sexual and racial slurs over the years. Reports have also revealed that the owner apparently paid out settlements in order to keep this incidents from going public. The NFL recently announced that they would be leading their own investigation into the matter, although it’s open question to how this news affects that process.

The 81-year-old has been the only owner the Panthers have ever known and has brought the team to two Super Bowl appearances since the franchise entered the NFL over 22 years ago. There’s still much left to be settled regarding the sale of the team, even though it should become more clear who the prospective buyers might be in the months to come.

Nevertheless, Richardson leaves his position having made a large imprint on both the league and in the Carolinas. It remains to be seen where the investigation may go, but we do know that the Panthers franchise will take a dramatic change in direction after this season comes to a close.

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Antonio Brown Partially Tears Calf, Expected Back For The Playoffs

The Steelers suffered a serious injury scare in their stunning defeat at the hands of the Patriots. The league’s best receiver Antonio Brown exited the game in the second quarter and got tests taken at a nearby hospital. Now the team has learned that the 29-year-old has partially torn his calf muscle and is expected to miss at least one week of game action, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). However, Schefter adds that Brown is likely to be back with the Steelers for the postseason.

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This is great news for a Steelers team that relies on Brown for much of their offensive production. Brown has been performing like a legitimate MVP candidate in 2017, but seemed to have suffered a serious injury when he left today’s game vs. New England. However, while Brown may be unable to finish the regular season, their star playmaker is expected back for postseason football, which puts the Steelers in a much better position moving forward.

Although, the injury could increase the urgency for the first round bye. After dropping today’s game, the Steelers are now in serious danger of losing their top two spot, especially knowing that the Jaguars own the tiebreaker head-to-head.

Head coach Mike Tomlin will have to rely on the team’s other young wideouts, Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster, to help offset the loss. You can also expect Le’Veon Bell to shoulder even more of the load in the passing game than he already does. Pittsburgh has two favorable matchups to end the season as the team is set to play Houston and Cleveland in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively.

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Latest On Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers returned to the field after a notable two-month absence as he recovered from a broken collarbone he suffered against the Vikings in October. However, even with arguably the best quarterback in football, the Packers dropped their seventh game of the season on Sunday afternoon. With the playoffs now seemingly out of reach, it’s reasonable to ask whether the team will continue to risk Rodgers’ health in the final two weeks of the regular season, ponders Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Aaron Rodgers (Vertical)

Head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t seem all too convicted after today’s loss that he would allow Rodgers to play in Weeks 16 and 17. If the Falcons win on Monday night, the Packers would be eliminated from postseason play and would leave little reason for the coaching staff to risk another injury to their 34-year-old franchise QB.

“Well, let’s focus on today; we lost the game today,” McCarthy said. “We’ll get back and we’ll assess it. We play a game in six days. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Rodgers’ return was not a given after the initial diagnosis was that the veteran signal caller would likely not be able to get back to game action. But after some positive reports on his recovery, the Packers became more hopeful that their star could eventually return and lead them to another playoff berth.

Backup Brett Hundley performed well in stints, but was too inconsistent to leave Green Bay with much room for error in the final three weeks of the season. Although, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that Rodgers could pull off another miracle as he’s done many times in the past.

“Well, it’s not the fairytale that we were hoping,” Rodgers said about his return. “As I lay in that surgery bed eight weeks ago thinking about this moment, obviously, I saw it going a little differently. But I’m proud of our guys for the way they played the last few weeks. Today, disappointed. I didn’t play very well. Obviously, I hold myself to a high standard. I expected to play well. It’s a good defense but I made too many mistakes. Even still, we had a chance there at the end to come back and tie it.”

Despite the lack of playoff implications, Rodgers seemed as if he would still play unless told otherwise. With that being said, the veteran appeared to still put his status in the hands of the Packers coaching staff.

“Well, I’m a competitor,” Rodgers said. “Until they tell me otherwise, I’m expecting to play.”

Green Bay will take on the Vikings and Lions in the team’s likely final two games of the year.

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Corey Liuget Suffers PCL Injury

On the same day the Chargers learned that running back Austin Ekeler would be out for the season, the team now has to deal with another injury on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive lineman Corey Liuget is now considered to be out with a “week-to-week” injury after suffering a grade 2 PCL sprain in last night’s game vs. the Chiefs, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Corey Liuget (Vertical)

Rapoport explains that while Liuget’s injury is just a short-term setback, it remains up in the air whether he will return to the field with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Liuget, 27, has been with the Chargers since the franchise drafted him back in the first round in 2011. His best season came in 2012 when the defensive tackle recorded seven sacks and 51 total tackles. Liuget hasn’t been as much of a force in terms of getting to the quarterback in recent years, but he’s still graded out as the 31st best interior defender in the NFL by Pro Football Focus through 14 weeks.

Without Liuget, Los Angeles will have to turn to backups Darius Philon and Damion Square to fill out the team’s starting defensive line, which features Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Brandon Mebane. However, if the Chargers can sneak into the postseason, it’s seems fairly likely that Liuget could return to the front seven.

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Austin Ekeler Out For The Year

The Chargers offense has many weapons, but perhaps the most surprising of the team’s playmakers will not be active for another game this season. Running back Austin Ekeler broke his hand in last night’s AFC West affair against the Chiefs and will be out for the year, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Austin Ekeler (Vertical)

The undrafted rookie out of Western State had gone from unknown to a key part of the Chargers offense in a short period of time. Ekeler carved out a nice role as the team’s passing back when starter Melvin Gordon was off the field. The 22-year-old lined up all over for head coach Anthony Lynn, affecting the game both on the ground and through the air.

Ekeler averaged 5.5 yards per carry, rushing for two touchdowns. The scat back also caught 27 balls for 279 yards, which included three scores. Through 14 weeks, Ekeler ranked as the 16th best passing back in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.

Losing their surprise rookie performer is a rather big blow for a Chargers team that has been streaking over the past month with the hopes of securing a playoff spot. Expect Gordon to become even more involved in the Chargers offensive gameplan with Ekeler no longer available. Although, running back Branden Oliver seems like a sure bet to somewhat step in for Ekeler during the final two weeks of the season. Los Angeles is certainly not lacking weapons, but this injury puts another damper on the team’s postseason chances coming off a big loss on Saturday night.

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5 Key NFL Stories: 12/10/17 – 12/17/17

Carson Wentz done for the season. A likely MVP candidate, Wentz suffered a torn ACL in the Eagles’ Week 14 victory over the Rams and has since been placed on injured reserve. Wentz, who had led Philadelphia to a 11-2 record in his second NFL campaign, will end the season with 3,296 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. While the Eagles will assuredly miss Wentz, backup quarterback Nick Foles managed a victory over the Giants today while tossing four touchdowns.

Marvin Lewis out in Cincinnati? After 15 seasons in the Queen City, it appears Lewis will not remain the Bengals’ head coach in 2018. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier this morning that Lewis — whose contract expires after the current season — will not return to Cincinnati next year. Following the Bengals’ loss to the Vikings, Lewis denied that any decision has been made, but didn’t definitively say he will return. If Lewis is out, Cincinnati could look at head coaching candidates such as the Browns’ Hue Jackson or incumbent defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.Roger Goodell (vertical)

Roger Goodell expected to retire in 2024. Goodell formally received a contract extension earlier this month, and he’s privately informed owners that he’ll retire when that new deal expires in 2024. In fact, Goodell could even call it a career before his contract ends. He’s reportedly told the league he’ll guide the owners through another round of collective bargaining agreement and television rights negotiations, meaning he cold retire in 2021 or 2022.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson faces accusations. The nationwide uprising regarding sexual harassment has hit the NFL, as the league is now investigating Richardson for inappropriate comments and contact with female Panthers employees. In addition, Richardson allegedly used a racial slur against an African American scout. Richardson reportedly has used financial settlements and non-disclosure agreements to keep accusations under wraps, but now that they’re out in the open, it’s fair to wonder how much longer Richardson will control the Carolina franchise.

Aaron Rodgers returns in Green Bay. After spending eight weeks on injured reserve with a broken collarbone, Rodgers returned to action today against the Panthers. The Packers likely needed to win out to have any chance at a postseason berth, so today’s loss may have knocked Green Bay out of contention. As such, the Packers will need to decide whether playing Rodgers over the next two weeks in worth the risk.

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AFC North Notes: Bengals, Lewis, Browns

While Marvin Lewis is denying a report that a decision has been made on his future as Bengals head coach, he hasn’t necessarily said the core of the report — that he won’t return to Cincinnati in 2018 — is incorrect. If he does move on, Browns head coach Hue Jackson could potentially be in the running to replace Lewis, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Of course, Cleveland has indicated Jackson will be retained for next season, but those plans are always subject to change. Jackson, formerly the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, was approached regarding a Cincinnati succession plan in 2016, but because no such deal could be arranged, he bolted for the Browns job.

Here’s more from the AFC North, with a focus on the Bengals and Browns:

  • Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is considered a candidate to become Bengals head coach in 2018, but if he’s not promoted, Guenther could end up as the Redskins‘ DC next year, tweets Michael Lombardi of the Ringer. Washington head coach Jay Gruden (who worked with Guenther in Cincinnati) wanted to hire Guenther as his defensive coordinator a season ago, but the Bengals would not release his contract. Cincinnati has finished 14th, 10, and 17th in defensive DVOA in thee full seasons under Guenther, and ranked 19th heading into Week 15.
  • The Browns had hoped to hire Josh McCown as their quarterbacks coach for 2017 had he not continued his career, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Earlier this year, Jackson predicted McCown would be a “rising star” in the coaching ranks, and a number of clubs reportedly had interest in adding McCown to their staff. Instead, McCown inked a one-year deal with the Jets and proceeded to post one of the best seasons of his career. McCown hasn’t made any decisions about his future, but he would presumably have a number of offers if he wants become a coach.
  • New Browns general manager John Dorsey may plan to fire the club’s entire scouting staff after taking over the front office one week ago, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Of course, any new decision-maker is going to make changes to a front office, but Dorsey could plan to shift away from Cleveland’s recent reliance on analytics. Last week, Dorsey chided the Browns’ previous regime, claiming that former GM Sashi Brown & Co. didn’t acquire “real players.”

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