Extra Points: Kaep, Chargers, Paulsen, Cole

The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement focused on “positive social change” following a meeting today between the league, owners, and selected players. But perhaps the most interesting fact about the gathering was who wasn’t in attendance — free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The NFL did not formally invite Kaepernick to the meeting, and while several players did Kaepernick to attend, the former 49ers quarterback and progenitor of kneeling during the national anthem didn’t want to be a distraction, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Despite Kaepernick’s reticence, some players were dismayed that he wasn’t officially invited to the talks, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Chargers could soon see the return of inside linebacker Denzel Perryman, who is currently on injured reserve with an ankle issue, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com. “He looks better,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “You see him moving around a little more. I don’t know when we’re gonna get him back, but he’s starting now to tap me on the shoulder about trying to get in there, so I know he’s getting close.” Korey Toomer has replaced Perryman at middle ‘backer, but he’s earned below-average marks from Pro Football Focus, which has assigned Toomer a particularly poor grade against the run.
  • Given that they’ve attempted to sign him in the past, the Lions could potentially make another run at free agent tight end Logan Paulsen, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Paulsen, who was released by the 49ers earlier today, should come relatively cheap, as he only garnered a minimum salary deal during the offseason. While he won’t be a factor on offense, Paulsen could help on special teams and as a blocker, especially in the run game.
  • Texans linebacker Dylan Cole is dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring stain and is expected to miss at least four weeks of action, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Given the recovery timeline, Cole probably isn’t a candidate for injured reserve. Although the 23-year-old Cole isn’t a Houston starter, his absence will be felt, as he’s played 105 defensive snaps off the bench while seeing time on roughly two-thirds of the Texans’ special teams plays.

NFL Workout Updates: 10/17/17

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions 

Houston Texans

  • QB Taylor Heinicke (link via Caplan)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Redskins

Seahawks Notes: Avril, Joeckel, Alexander

As he continues to deal with a neck injury, Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril has sought multiple medical opinions and is visiting another doctor today, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. Head coach Pete Carroll originally indicated Avril would be sidelined “awhile” with a stinger and numbness in his arm, but subsequent reports have expressed concern about the future of Avril’s career. While Seattle has the defensive line depth to withstand a Avril absence (Frank Clark, Marcus Smith), his absence will certainly be felt, and doubts about his ability to continue playing are certainly worrisome.

Here’s more from Seattle:

  • Left guard Luke Joeckel is expected to miss four-to-five weeks after undergoing knee surgery during the Seahawks’ bye week, reports Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Joeckel, who signed a one-year, $8MM contract this spring, has played every snap at left guard for Seattle this season. Perhaps unsurprisingly given his track record with the Jaguars, Joeckel had struggled — along with the rest of the Seahawks’ offensive line — through five games, grading as the No. 44 guard among 75 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Mark Glowinski and rookie Ethan Pocic will now compete to replace Joeckel, per Condotta.
  • Free agent safety Maurice Alexander is visiting with the Seahawks this week, as Condotta writes in a full piece. Seattle should be relatively familiar with Alexander, as he’d spent the entirety of his four-year NFL career with the Rams. Alexander, who has also auditioned for the Jets and Cardinals since being waived last week, offers valuable experience (18 starts over the past season-plus), but he’d seemingly be overkill in Seattle. The Seahawks already boast two of the NFL’s best safeties in Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, plus veteran Bradley McDougald and rookies Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson in reserve.
  • If recent history is any indication, Seahawks defenders Dion Jordan and DeShawn Shead likely won’t return to the field for three more weeks, opines Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. Both Jordan, a defensive end, and Shead, a cornerback, are allowed to resume practicing today, but neither player is ready to roll just yet. Once they are, Seattle will get a three-week window during which Jordan and/or Shead can be added to the 53-man roster. Jordan is currently on the non-football injury list, while Shead is on the physically unable to perform list. As Henderson notes, the Seahawks have typically given their players ample practice time before activating them.

Ravens Sign LB Steven Johnson

The Ravens have made a change at linebacker, as they’ve signed free agent Steven Johnson and released Jonathan Freeny, the club announced today.Steven Johnson (Vertical)

Johnson should be familiar to Baltimore not only because he’s worked out for the club twice in the past month, but because he’s spent the past year-plus with the division rival Steelers. The 29-year-old Johnson, who’s also played for the Titans and Broncos during a six-year NFL career, has bounced on and off the Pittsburgh roster this season. He’s been active for only seven games over the past two years, and he’s played exclusively on special teams thus far in 2017.

The same can be said of Freeny, whose 35 total snaps this year have all come on special teams duty. Freeny, a five-year NFL veteran, started his career as a special teams player in Miami, but his most notable time came with the Patriots from 2015-16. During that time, Freeny appeared in 18 games and started 11 contests before going down with a shoulder injury last October.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/17/17

Today’s practice squad updates:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Washington Redskins

49ers Place DL Arik Armstead On IR

The 49ers have placed defensive tackle Arik Armstead on injured reserve and released tight end Logan Paulsen, the club announced today. The pair of transactions will create space on San Francisco’s roster for newly-signed defensive tackles Tony McDaniel and Leger Douzable."<strong

Armstead will go on IR after suffering a broken hand in Sunday’s contest against the Redskins. He’ll require surgery and will likely need four-to-six weeks to recover, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The NFL’s injured reserve rules stipulate a minimum absence of eight weeks, so Armstead will have more than enough time to heal. He’ll be eligible to return in Week 15.

Armstead, a first-round pick in 2015, has been excellent on the edge in first-year coordinator Robert Saleh‘s 4-3 scheme. Through five weeks, Armstead had played the second-most defensive snaps of any 49ers defender and posted eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5.5 pressures, and one pass defensed. Overall, the 23-year-old has graded as the NFL’s No. 33 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus.

Paulsen, 30, has garnered only one target after agreeing to a one-year deal with the 49ers this spring. That lack of offensive production is wholly unsurprising, as Paulsen earns his money on special teams and as a blocker. Through six games, Paulsen had earned a solid 74.1 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, a mark which would rank him second behind only Rob Gronkowski if he had enough snaps to qualify.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ezekiel Elliott Granted TRO, Ban On Hold

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott won’t serve his six-game suspension just yet, as a New York court has granted him a temporary restraining order against the NFL, according to Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter links).Ezekiel Elliott (vertical)

Elliott should be available for Dallas’ next two games, but will need to plead his case to Judge Katherine Fallia when she returns from vacation around October 30. That means Elliott will likely be able to face the Redskins and 49ers over the course of the next two weeks. But the TRO could also be delaying the inevitable, as each week Elliott doesn’t accept his six-game ban is one more week he’ll have to serve later this season.

Essentially, Elliott has been given a two-week respite from the legal process after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals restored his suspension last week. Elliott and his team re-filed in Texas, but that case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Today’s decision from a New York court was thought to be Elliott’s last remaining recourse.

Elliott, of course, was issued his suspension following allegations of domestic violence. The fourth overall selection in the 2016 draft, Elliott has accused the NFL of fomenting a conspiracy against him, and the dispute has gotten ugly from all angles. Elliott and his camp have cast doubt on the consistency of his accuser’s claims and suggested her motives were profit-based, while the NFL has accused Elliott of victim-shaming.

But the situation at hand has little to do with the original accusations against Elliott, and instead is focused on the NFL’s disciplinary process and whether the league followed its own procedures. Interestingly, the Cowboys organization jumped into the legal fray today, issuing an affidavit stating the club would suffer irreparable harm if the New York didn’t issue Zeke injunction today, per Amy Dash of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

If and when Elliott is actually suspended, the Cowboys should be able to cover — in at least some regard — for his loss with backups Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. Neither back is the singularly dynamic talent that is Elliott, but each offers a vast amount of NFL experience.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/17/17

Today’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Denver Broncos

  • Signed: River Cracraft

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Colts RB Robert Turbin Likely Done For Year

The Colts expect running back Robert Turbin to miss the remainder of the season after suffering an arm injury on Monday night, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.Robert Turbin (vertical)

Turbin, Indianapolis’ backup running back since 2016, has been a key contributor on both offense (31.9% of snaps) and special teams (39.6% of snaps) this season. Serving behind starter Frank Gore, the 27-year-old Turbin has managed 53 yards on the ground and 56 yards through the air. He signed a two-year contract prior to the 2016 campaign, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next spring.

The Colts have two young running backs who should now see increased usage with Turbin sidelined. Marlon Mack, a fourth-round rookie who’s shown game-breaking ability already this season, and former Redskin Matt Jones will pick up where Turbin left off. Indy has running back George Winn on its practice squad, and he’s now a candidate for promotion following Turbin’s injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins To Sign K Nick Rose

The Redskins have agreed to terms with free agent kicker Nick Rose, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).Nick Rose (Vertical)

Rose will replace fellow kicker Dustin Hopkins, whom Washington placed on injured reserve earlier today. Hopkins, who is dealing with a strained rotator muscle in his right hip, is potentially a candidate to return later this season. However, NFL rules require Hopkins to miss at least eight weeks, meaning he wouldn’t be allowed to return until Week 15.

Rose, meanwhile, has yet to appear in an NFL game since entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Texas in 2016. He has spent time on the offseason rosters of both the Falcons and 49ers, however. Rose, 23, worked out for the Redskins today alongside Mike Nugent, Andrew Franks, and Marshall Koehn.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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