Month: December 2018

Eagles To Sign RB Boston Scott Off Saints’ Practice Squad

The Eagles’ running back room has seen some twists and turns this season, and Corey Clement‘s latest injury provided another Sunday.

As a result, the Eagles are bringing in outside help. Philadelphia signed Boston Scott off New Orleans’ practice squad on Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

A rookie sixth-round pick, Scott has spent the season on the Saints’ taxi squad. He was an initial New Orleans roster cut but landed on the practice squad shortly after cutdown weekend. He has not suited up for a game yet. The Louisiana Tech alum rushed for 1,047 yards as a senior last season.

With the Eagles already employing Clement, Darren Sproles, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood, this would point to a Clement IR trip — unless the defending Super Bowl champions are keen on keeping five running backs. Clement missed time earlier this season but resurfaced in Philly’s rotation for productive outings against the Giants and Redskins.

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Ole Miss OL Greg Little Declares For Draft

One of a few Ole Miss products who may well end up as first-round picks, offensive lineman Greg Little announced (on Twitter) he will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2019 draft.

Little is expected to go high in next year’s draft. He has started every game since the start of last season and has appeared in every Ole Miss contest since debuting for the Rebels in 2016.

The 6-foot-6, 325-pound tackle joins wide receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf in declaring for the ’19 draft. Grading as the best offensive line prospect exiting his junior season and No. 8 overall 2019 prospect, per ESPN.com’s Todd McShay (ESPN+ link), Little is making an understandable decision to leave school early. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. called Little the best true tackle in this year’s class, noting Alabama’s Jonah Williams may well slide to guard.

Little was a five-star recruit who became a first-team All-SEC player and an All-American. With tackles increasingly difficult to develop, he will be a coveted commodity in April. Little would be the second top-15 Ole Miss-produced tackle in four years, with Laremy Tunsil going to the Dolphins at No. 13 in 2016.

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West Notes: Raiders, Hill, Ekeler, 49ers

The long-anticipated Reggie McKenzie departure leaves the Raiders in search of a replacement, but Jon Gruden is not certain to be involved in the interview process that will lead to his new decision-making partner/lieutenant.

I know Mark (Davis) is going to accumulate a list of names and candidates, and I’m sure we’ll discuss those people later this week,” Gruden said (via ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez). “Right now, I don’t have any idea. … I’m not revealing any candidates because I don’t know of any.”

Jaguars player personnel director Chris Polian, Lions exec Jimmy Raye III and former Gruden Buccaneers coworker Mark Domenik have been loosely connected to the Raiders’ vacancy thus far. The team may want an executive who can push back against Gruden when necessary, per SI.com’s Albert Breer. College scouting director Shaun Herock is now filling in for McKenzie as GM, and Davis views Herock as a key organizational piece going forward. Gruden stopped short of proclaiming McKenzie’s right-hand man, player personnel director Joey Clinkscales, would have a long-term role. But Clinkscales remains in his post following McKenzie’s firing.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • With a home game against the Chargers and a road tilt in Seattle, the Chiefs have a tough back-to-back assignment coming up. Their top wide receiver likely will not be 100 percent for those games. Tyreek Hill said Sunday, via NBC Sports’ Peter King, his foot was “bad.” Hill left Sunday’s overtime win because of injury but returned, and Andy Reid expects the deep threat to play against the Bolts on Thursday. The Chiefs possessed a top-flight skill-position quartet, powering Patrick Mahomes‘ MVP candidacy, this season. But they are now without Kareem Hunt and Sammy Watkins, the latter likely out until the playoffs. Hill has not missed an NFL game due to injury. A Hill absence would make Kansas City vulnerable against a Chargers team that would move into an 11-3 tie atop the AFC West with a win. That said, the Chiefs would still hold the divisional-record tiebreaker and keep the top spot.
  • Chances for a Thursday recovery for Austin Ekeler aren’t as good. The second-year Chargers running back suffered a bruised nerve in his neck, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com, and although he played through similar discomfort earlier this season, Ekeler not playing appears to be the most likely scenario. “It’s football, yeah, but there’s a lot of life after football, too,” Ekeler said Monday. Melvin Gordon is expected to return from his MCL injury, however.
  • The 49ers drafted N.C. State’s Kentavius Street shortly after he tore his ACL in a pre-draft workout with the Giants, but the rookie defensive end may be on the verge of practicing, Kyle Shanahan said Monday. Street is on the 49ers’ NFI list and will not play in a game this season, though, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports (on Twitter). Still, practice work would help as Street prepares for a hopefully healthy 2019 offseason.
  • In case you missed it, Doug Baldwin is inactive for tonight’s Seahawks-Vikings game. Baldwin, who’s battled a knee injury most of this season, is now dealing with a hip problem.

49ers To Place Pierre Garcon On IR

The second of Pierre Garcon‘s two 49ers seasons will end with the veteran wide receiver on injured reserve. The 49ers will place Garcon on IR this week, Kyle Shanahan said (via the Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows, on Twitter).

A knee injury has sidelined Garcon for the past four games. He will end a second straight 49ers slate having played in just eight contests.

Garcon will undergo arthroscopic surgery on the injured knee this week. This spate of injury trouble is new for the 11-year veteran, whose Redskins tenure concluded with 71 straight regular-season starts.

The former Colts and Redskins wideout generated trade interest before the deadline, but the 49ers opted not to move their then-healthy wideout. The 32-year-old pass-catcher will conclude his season with 24 receptions for 286 yards and one touchdown — his only score as a 49er thus far. Garcon posted a 40-500-0 season in 2017, doing so with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard as San Francisco’s QBs.

A coveted free agent in 2017, Garcon chose the 49ers’ five-year, $47.5MM offer. He received $17MM fully guaranteed and would not provide the 49ers much in cap savings if they opted to move on after 2018. It would cost the 49ers $7.2MM in dead money if they cut Garcon after this season. Though, the 49ers are projected to hold more than $66MM in cap space and could absorb that cap hit if they wanted to go in another direction.

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Saints Deciding Between Ted Ginn, Josh LeRibeus For IR-Return Spot?

The Saints could make a high- or low-profile IR-return move in the coming days. Both Ted Ginn and offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus remain candidates to return from IR this season, Sean Payton said.

Rehab is going well. It’s still an option,” Payton said of a return from one of these players (via Fox 8 Live). “Both he (Ginn) and LeRibeus, I would say are on schedule. … I’m encouraged by how both of those guys are doing.”

Only one of these players can return this season. The Saints used one of their IR-boomerang slots on wideout/specialist Tommylee Lewis.

This decision presumably hinges on how Ginn’s recovery looks, with the starting wide receiver a once-integral part of New Orleans’ aerial attack. Ginn underwent surgery in October and is eligible to return from IR this week. But with the 33-year-old deep threat having yet to practice since the IR designation, it’s unlikely he’d be ready to go for Week 15 against the Panthers — even if the Saints use the IR-return spot on him this week.

New Orleans has featured a rotating cast of Michael Thomas sidekicks this season, with rookie Tre’Quan Smith being the most frequent complementary piece deployed. Ginn caught nine passes for 123 yards in the Saints’ first two games and recorded 787 receiving yards last season.

LeRibeus filled in as a spot starter up front in three games this season. He played in 16 Saints games in 2017. The 29-year-old lineman also is recovering from an ankle injury and would seemingly be the backup plan in case Ginn cannot come back.

Raiders Name Shaun Herock Interim GM

Reggie McKenzie‘s exit will leave one of his lieutenants in his old role for the time being. The Raiders will promote Shaun Herock to the de facto GM role, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Herock, who followed McKenzie to Oakland from Green Bay in 2012, is expected to receive an interview for the full-time position, Rapoport adds. Herock previously served as the Raiders’ director of college scouting.

Although Herock was a McKenzie hire, Rapoport notes the 47-year-old executive is Jon Gruden‘s most trusted scout, at least among those he inherited from the McKenzie regime. While it would be a shock if the Raiders did go in-house to name McKenzie’s successor, they will use this arrangement for the time being. This may increase Herock’s chances of remaining with the organization after Gruden tabs the next front office boss.

He’s a very talented personnel man; he has a lot of Raider history. We’re going to lean on him,” Mark Davis said, via Jerry McDonald of the San Jose Mercury News. “… I expect him to be a big part of this organization going forward, honestly.”

The Raiders may not hire a full-time GM — at least, the new exec may not have that job title — but they are planning to look for a new point person for their front office to work with Gruden. Lions exec Jimmy Raye, Jaguars player personnel director Chris Polian and former Buccaneers GM Mark Domenik — who worked with Gruden during his Tampa Bay tenure — are among names to monitor thus far. The Raiders may be looking for someone with experience and fortitude to push back against Gruden, Albert Breer of SI.com notes.

After spending 19 years in the Packers’ scouting department, finishing his Green Bay tenure as college scouting director, Herock relocated to the Bay Area after McKenzie took the Raiders’ GM job. He’s served in the same role with the Raiders for the past seven years. Herock’s father, Ken Herock, was a former Raider player and exec who worked with Davis during the process that led to McKenzie’s hiring.

Bills LB Matt Milano Done For Year

Bills linebacker Matt Milano is done for the year, according to head coach head coach Sean McDermott. Milano had surgery for a broken fibula on Monday, which will rule him out for the rest of the regular season and land him on injured reserve. 

Milano, 24, has been a staple of the Bills’ D since entering the league as a fifth-round pick in 2017. This year, he recorded his first sack in a huge upset win over the Vikings and came away with AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance.

Without Milano, the Bills will likely promote Deon Lacey to the starting lineup, putting him alongside middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and strong side linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. It’s a thin unit after that, so the Bills are likely to add another LB this week.

The Bills came out of Sunday’s loss to the Jets with a score of injuries, including day-to-day injuries for running backs LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Chris Ivory (shoulder).

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Latest On Raiders, Reggie McKenzie

On Monday afternoon, the Raiders released a statement to confirm the firing of longtime GM Reggie McKenzie.

We are grateful for everything Reggie has done for this organization as a player, executive and member of the Raider family,” the statement read. “The Raiders will immediately begin a search for a new front office executive.”

Curiously, the statement indicates that the Raiders will look “for a new front office executive,” which may mean that the club will not give anyone the title of GM for 2019.

Here’s the latest out of Oakland:

  • Those in the building say that Gruden actually liked McKenzie, even as Gruden picked apart the roster that he built, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. Things weren’t outwardly contentious between the two men, Breer hears, and he notes that McKenzie’s decision to set high asking prices for Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper actually paid off. Before each deal, there was speculation that McKenzie was looking to sandbag the efforts, but that does not appear to be the case in retrospect.
  • The Raiders may view executives such as Jimmy Raye III, Mark Dominik, and Chris Polian as candidates to become the new GM or chief of personnel, according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). And, despite previous rumors linking Redskins exec Bruce Allen to the post, Pelissero hears that Allen is not “on the front burner” for the Raiders at this time.

Broncos Promote Trey Marshall

The Broncos will waive safety Shamarko Thomas in order to promote rookie safety Trey Marshall from the practice squad, league sources tell Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). While the Broncos value Thomas’ special teams acumen, they were compelled to make the move in order to prevent the Cardinals from signing Marshall off of the taxi squad. 

The Cardinals wound up with an open roster spot on Monday when they were forced to place defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche on injured reserve. Marshall won’t turn 23 until February and would have been worth a look for Arizona’s 2019 roster, but the Broncos stepped in to prevent that from happening. He’ll now have a chance to make his NFL debut with Denver after compiling 135 tackles, one sack, and six passes defensed while at Florida State.

Thomas, a fourth-round pick of the Steelers in 2013, will become a free agent if he is not claimed on waivers. He appeared in six games for Denver this year and recorded seven total tackles.

The Broncos are 6-7 after Sunday’s loss to the 49ers, but they technically still have a shot at reaching the playoffs as a Wild Card team.

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Cardinals To Place Robert Nkemdiche On IR

Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is going on IR, coach Steve Wilks announced on Monday. Wilks declined to give details on the injury, but he did say that Nkemdiche will require surgery. 

[RELATED: Cardinals Place D.J. Humphries On IR]

Nkemdiche, 24, was a first round pick of the Cardinals back in 2016. His bruising physique had the team excited back then, but he has been unable to put it all together as a pro. Injuries have kept him off the field for much of his three-year career and he’ll end this campaign with just 27 appearances out of a possible 48 games.

Nkemdiche recorded 4.5 sacks this year – including 2.5 agains the Chargers a few weeks ago – but his run defense has left much to be desired. Nkemdiche currently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 102 ranked interior defender out of 118 qualified players.

The Cardinals will have Nkemdiche under contract for 2019 and they’ll have to decide on his fifth-year option for 2020 in May. Last year, the option cost for non Top-10 defensive tackles was $7.154MM. The cost will rise this year, and the Cardinals will have to think long and hard about whether they’re willing to roll the dice on Nkemdiche given his injury history.

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