Month: January 2023

Dolphins Cleared In Concussion Protocol Review

For the second time this season, the Dolphins were the subject of a joint NFL-NFLPA investigation into their handling of the league’s updated concussion protocols. As was the case the first time, the team has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

The review came in the wake of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa reporting concussion symptoms one day after the Dolphins’ loss to the Packers in Week 16. The third-year passer was never evaluated for a head injury during the course of the game, one in which he threw three late interceptions en route to a loss which hurt Miami’s playoff chances.

Tagovailoa’s concussion history dating back to earlier in the campaign – which prompted the league’s new protocols being enacted and resulted in the first investigation into the Dolphins – has forced Miami to turn to veteran Teddy Bridgewater as its starter for tomorrow’s contest against the Patriots. This latest issue has also invited increased speculation regarding Tagovailoa’s short- and long-term future in the NFL, as the former top-five pick has suffered two (or, potentially, three) concussions in a matter of months in addition to his availability concerns entering the league.

“The NFL and NFLPA concluded their joint review of the application of concussion protocol involving [Tagovailoa] in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers,” a statement from the league and union reads. “The joint review determined the protocol was not triggered… The review established that symptoms of a concussion were neither exhibited nor reported until the following day at which time the team medical personnel appropriately evaluated and placed Mr. Tagovailoa in the concussion protocol.”

The Dolphins enter Week 17 with an 8-7 record, due in no small part to the significant improvement the Alabama product has shown this season alongside new head coach Mike McDaniel and an offense which added wideout Tyreek Hill, among others, in the offseason. They will now look to snap their four-game losing streak with Bridgewater under center as he makes his first start since Week 5, where he suffered a concussion of his own on Miami’s opening offensive snap.

NFL Injury Rumors: Week 17 Updates

Updates to injury questions heading into the Sunday slate of games:

  • Cardinals star receiver DeAndre Hopkins will miss this Sunday’s game in Atlanta with a knee injury, according to the team’s final injury report. The injury seemed to appear from nowhere late this week and, with the Cardinals eliminated from playoff contention, it would not be a surprise to see Hopkins sit for the remainder of the season. Quarterbacks David Blough and Trace McSorley will have to rely on Marquise Brown, Greg Dortch, A.J. Green, Robbie Anderson, Pharoh Cooper, and recently promoted Andre Baccellia in the meantime.
  • The Commanders will have to face Cleveland tomorrow without running back Antonio Gibson, according to the team’s official Twitter account. With Gibson out due to an ankle sprain, Washington will likely continue to rely heavily on rookie starter Brian Robinson. Veteran running back Jonathan Williams will likely find himself in an increased role tomorrow, as will elevated practice squad back Jaret Patterson.
  • Despite returning to practice this week, 49ers star receiver Deebo Samuel is unable to play this weekend against the Raiders, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy will have at least one more week depending on the likes of Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, tight end George Kittle, and running back Christian McCaffrey without Samuel. Head coach Kyle Shanahan indicated that there’s “a chance” Samuel will be able to return next week.
  • Buccaneers right tackle Tristan Wirfs reportedly aggravated his ankle injury last week against the Cardinals, but according to Jenna Laine of ESPN, Wirfs intends on playing regardless. Tampa Bay is also hoping to get starting left tackle Donovan Smith back for tomorrow’s game against the Panthers. If Smith does play, it will be the first time the two have appeared in a game together since a Week 12 loss to the Browns.
  • The Texans have confirmed that two starters are no longer in question to play this weekend as right tackle Tytus Howard and rookie left guard Kenyon Green are both expected to play against the Jaguars, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. Howard had to clear concussion protocol in order to play this weekend and successfully did so. Green has missed Houston’s last two contests with an ankle injury but has reportedly improved considerably. Backup interior lineman Jimmy Morrissey was unable to clear concussion protocol and will be unable to play this Sunday.

Broncos Place OLB Randy Gregory On IR

The injuries continue to pile up in Denver where the Broncos have added pass rusher Randy Gregory to their lengthy list of players on injured reserve. With the Broncos eliminated from postseason contention, the move brings Gregory’s first year in Denver to an end.

After failing to generate much of a pass rush in 2021, the Broncos ventured out into free agency to bring in Gregory after his initial extension with the Cowboys fell through due to a disagreement over language about bonuses being affected by fines or suspensions in the contract. Instead, the 30-year-old pass rusher signed a five-year, $70MM contract to join the Broncos. His first year in Denver would be a bit of a disappointment, though, as knee injuries would limit Gregory to only six games. Starting three of those games, Gregory was able to compile two sacks, two tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles. Outside linebackers Bradley Chubb and Baron Browning held higher roles on the depth chart until Chubb was eventually traded to Miami.

Despite the disappointing debut in Mile High, Gregory will have next year to rebound and prove his worth to the Broncos. If similar absences due to injury or suspension continue into 2023, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to find Gregory as the subject of one of our posts detailing a potential salary cap casualty.

The Broncos also signed practice squad outside linebacker Jonathan Kongbo to the active roster today. Kongbo’s addition becomes even more crucial with Gregory on IR and Browning questionable this weekend with a back injury. Practice squad cornerback Lamar Jackson was also signed to the team’s active roster, providing depth as the team’s fifth corner.

Additionally, the Broncos promoted linebackers Wyatt Ray and Ray Wilborn from the practice squad as standard gameday elevations for Sunday’s matchup in Kansas City.

Chargers Activate Joey Bosa From IR

DECEMBER 31: The second player to be activated from IR only two days after being designated to return, Bosa was officially activated by the Chargers today in time for tomorrow’s contest against the cross-town Rams. After clinching a playoff spot last week, this gives Bosa a two-week period to get back up to full speed before the postseason begins.

In order to make room for Bosa on the active roster, Los Angeles waived running back Sony Michel. Michel has been the team’s third running back behind workhorse starter Austin Ekeler and backup Joshua Kelley. Ekeler plays significant time in the Chargers backfield as the both the team’s top rusher and most talented receiving back. Michel became an easy expense on a roster with a more established backup in Kelley and a backup with more youth in rookie fourth-round pick Isaiah Spiller.

In addition to those two roster moves, the Chargers have promoted defensive lineman David Moa and running back Larry Rountree from the practice squad as standard gameday elevations for Sunday.

DECEMBER 29: The seventh-year pass rusher will begin practicing Thursday. The Chargers have made the official transaction, starting Bosa’s IR-return clock. Bosa said the core issue the surgery addressed had plagued him for years, via The Athletic’s Daniel Popper (on Twitter).

DECEMBER 26: Again riddled with injuries to high-profile players, the Chargers are on track to have one of them back in uniform soon. Brandon Staley has floated the possibility of Joey Bosa and Rashawn Slater playing again this season. Bosa looks to get there first.

The Chargers are expected to have Bosa back at practice this week, according to Ian Rapoport and Bridget Condon of NFL.com (video link). The Pro Bowl pass rusher has been out since suffering a groin injury in Week 3. Bosa’s return has gained steam in recent weeks, and the Bolts appear finally ready to see what he looks like in practice. From the day Bosa begins practicing, the Chargers will have three weeks to activate him from IR.

While Bosa has dealt with injuries at several points during his career, this has been his most significant. The four-time Pro Bowler will have missed 12 Bolts games after tonight’s Colts matchup — one that can secure the team its first playoff berth in four years with a win — and has been one of several Charger Pro Bowlers to miss time this year.

The Bolts have Slater and J.C. Jackson on IR, while Keenan Allen, Derwin James and Corey Linsley have also missed stretches of the season. Ditto Mike Williams and most of the team’s defensive line. But the team that again generated considerable offseason momentum is moving closer toward its optimal version. Allen, Linsley and Williams have been back for weeks, and James returns tonight.

Bosa’s latest injury required surgery, and he has been rehabbing for months. It is not believed the former No. 3 overall pick will be 100% again until next season, but the Chargers clearly feel comfortable seeing how he looks ahead of a possible activation. Bosa missed four games as a rookie in 2016 (hamstring), was shut down for nine during the 2018 season (foot) and missed four more contests in 2020 (two concussions). He made a late-season return in 2018, when the Bolts last qualified for the playoffs, and is looking to re-emerge in similar fashion this year.

Still just 27, Bosa is attached to a monster contract — agreed to back in 2020 — and has four double-digit sack seasons on his resume. The Chargers only had two full games to deploy he and Khalil Mack together. After missing much of last season with a foot injury, Mack has stayed healthy this season. Bosa coming back would certainly help the former Defensive Player of the Year, who has been the focal point of offensive line attention for much of his first Chargers season. Mack has seven sacks, 10 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles this season — his seventh Pro Bowl campaign.

Xavier McKinney Activated From IR

DECEMBER 31: It only took two days into the 21-day practice window for the Giants to activate McKinney. McKinney should resume his starting role next to Love, sending Pinnock back to the bench after five weeks of substitute responsibilities. It’s unclear, though, whether or not McKinney will also resume his signal-calling duties on defense for New York, duties Love took over when McKinney was placed on IR.

To make room for McKinney on the active roster, the Giants waived wide receiver David Sills. Sills has started five games this year at wideout for New York but only contributed 11 catches for 106 yards in nine total games. In addition to those corresponding roster moves, the Giants promoted tight end Chris Myarick and cornerback Zyon Gilbert from the practice squad as standard gameday elevations for tomorrow’s matchup against the Colts.

DECEMBER 29: Xavier McKinney may make a late-season return for the Giants, after all. The young safety will return to practice Thursday, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post tweets.

The Giants have been without McKinney since their Week 9 bye, during which the starter suffered a broken hand in an ATV accident. McKinney is not expected to play against the Colts this week, but the Giants will get a look to see if he can contribute in Week 18 and/or in the playoffs. In designating McKinney to return from the reserve/NFI list, the Giants will have three weeks to activate him.

A 2020 second-round pick out of Alabama, McKinney has dealt with injuries during his first and third NFL seasons. He missed most of his rookie year because of a broken foot suffered that August. The ATV accident this year has sidelined him for the Giants’ past seven games. With the team being without top cornerback Adoree’ Jackson for much of that span, the Giants’ secondary has faced tall tasks weekly.

Jason Pinnock is expected to remain the starter alongside Julian Love against the Colts. If the Giants beat the Colts, they are assured of a playoff berth — which would be the franchise’s first in six years. Brian Daboll did not guarantee McKinney would miss this matchup, but it sounds like Week 18 is a better bet for a return to action. McKinney’s accident occurred in Mexico. He had pins removed from his fingers earlier this month but will wear a contraption (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Dan Duggan) upon returning.

McKinney has made 28 career starts, breaking through last season with a five-interception campaign. Pro Football Focus has not viewed his 2022 work on that level, slotting him 74th among safeties — behind Pinnock — but the former No. 36 overall pick remains a key part of a Giants secondary that already looked thin before this season’s run of injuries. The team rostered Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan alongside McKinney over the past two years; both are now elsewhere.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/31/22

Today’s roster moves heading into gameday:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Promoted from practice squad: G Kyle Hinton, DL T.J. Smith

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Commanders

LSU WR Kayshon Boutte To Enter Draft

LSU wideout Kayshon Boutte had initially committed to remaining in school for the 2023 college season instead of turning pro. As he confirmed (on Twitter) recently, however, he has since reversed course and will be eligible for the 2023 draft.

Boutte joins fellow Tigers Jaray Jenkins, B.J. Ojulari and Mekhi Garner as players forgoing their final years of college eligibility to enter the NFL. The 6-0, 190-pounder had stated his intent to return less than one month ago, but his change of heart has been well-received by the team.

“We support Kayshon and his decision,” head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “He went through a thoughtful process and ultimately decided this was in his best interest. We appreciate all he did during his time at LSU and wish him well.”

Boutte garnered plenty of attention during his freshman campaign. The former five-star recruit posted 45 catches for 735 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games that year. His 16.3 yards-per-catch average that season demonstrated his ability as a vertical threat, but that figure fell to 13.4 in 2021, as did his other totals in a campaign which was limited to only six games played due to an ankle injury.

He suited up for 11 contests this year, one during which expectations were once again very high. However, Boutte had an underwhelming start to the campaign, and was involved in transfer rumors early on. He was able to rebound to an extent in the latter stages of the season, including a 107-yard performance in the SEC title game. Overall, he finished with 528 yards and a pair of score on 48 receptions.

Boutte was widely regarded as a first-round prospect entering the season, but his underwhelming stats have steadily hurt his draft stock. Still, the ability he showed when healthy over the course of his college career has him considered amongst the top options at his position for this year’s class. Boutte is the fifth-ranked receiver in ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest breakdown as bowl season continues. That could put Boutte in contention to hear his name called on Day 1 despite the inconsistencies of the past few months.

Browns Place LB Jordan Kunaszyk On IR

The Browns are down another linebacker. The team announced that they’ve placed linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk on injured reserve, ending the player’s season.

Kunaszyk suffered a hand injury during Cleveland’s loss to the Saints last week. He’ll now join fellow linebackers Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jacob Phillips, Sione Takitaki, and Anthony Walker Jr. on injured reserve.

After spending the previous two seasons with Washington, Kunaszyk joined the Browns this past offseason. He was among the team’s final roster cuts, but after earning a spot on the practice squad, he quickly found a role for himself on the 53-man roster. The 26-year-old ultimately got into 15 games (two starts) for the Browns, compiling 22 tackles and one forced fumble.

To take the open roster spot, the Browns signed linebacker Tae Davis from the practice squad to the active roster. Davis was promoted for each of Cleveland’s past three games, collecting four tackles over that span. The former UDFA started his career with the Giants, including a rookie campaign where he had 33 tackles.

The Browns made two additional moves as they prepare for tomorrow’s game against the Commanders, promoting running back John Kelly Jr. and defensive tackle Roderick Perry II from the practice squad.

Colts Place DE Yannick Ngakoue On IR

Yannick Ngakoue‘s season has come to an end. Mike Chappell of FOX59/CBS4 Sports in Indy reports (via Twitter) that the Colts have placed the defensive end on injured reserve.

Per Zak Keefer of The Athletic (on Twitter), Ngakoue suffered a throat injury during Monday’s loss to the Chargers. The defensive lineman practiced this week, but after feeling some pain, he met with the team doctor. It was ultimately determined the player will have to undergo a “procedure.”

Ngakoue has bounced around the NFL in recent years, spending time with the Jaguars, Vikings, Ravens, Raiders, and Colts since the 2019 season. He was traded from Las Vegas to Indy this past offseason for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and proceeded to start all 15 of his appearances for his new team. The 27-year-old finished his season with 9.5 sacks and 16 QB hits. Despite the solid numbers, Pro Football Focus only ranked Ngakoue 109th among 121 qualifying edge defenders. The defensive end is set to hit free agency following this season.

Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo soak up plenty of DE snaps in Indy, but someone like Ben Banogu or Khalid Kareem could see more snaps with Ngakoue out of the lineup. The Colts also signed defense end Kameron Cline to the active roster today (per the team’s Twitter).