A.J. Brown

A.J. Brown To Play In Week 5, Julio Jones Still Out

As they seek to rebound from an ugly loss to the Jets last week, the Titans will see the return of one of their top playmakers. As Turron Davenport of ESPN.com writes, wide receiver A.J. Brown — who missed the matchup with the Jets due to a hamstring injury — was a full participant in practice this week and will suit up for this afternoon’s divisional bout against the Jaguars.

“A.J. has worked hard and progressed to the point where based off of what he did today we can expect him to play on Sunday,” head coach Mike Vrabel said.

Brown sustained the hamstring injury in the first quarter of Tennessee’s Week 3 victory over the Colts, and he failed to record a catch during his brief time on the field. For the season, he has been targeted 19 times but has recorded just seven catches for 92 yards and a score.

The news is not as good for marquee trade acquisition Julio Jones, Brown’s running mate at wide receiver. Like Brown, Jones suffered a hamstring injury in the Titans’ Week 3 contest, but he has now missed two consecutive weeks of practice and will be unable to play against Jacksonville today. He remains Tennessee’s leading receiver, having posted 12 catches for 204 yards this year, though he has yet to find the endzone for his new club.

Despite the loss to the previously winless Jets, the Titans remain atop the weak AFC South with a 2-2 record.

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Titans’ Julio Jones, A.J. Brown To Miss Time

FRIDAY: The Titans will not have their top receivers available against the Jets. They ruled out Brown and Jones for Week 4. Neither player practiced this week.

WEDNESDAY: Julio Jones and A.J. Brown might not face the Jets on Sunday. Jones is receiving treatment for a leg injury while Brown may miss a week or two with a hamstring injury (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

Jones, one of the greatest receivers of his generation, set Falcons franchise records in receptions (848) and receiving yards (12,896). On top of that, his 60 receiving touchdowns trailed only Roddy White‘s 63. He’s already given the Titans one vintage performance, a six-catch, 128-yard outing against the Seahawks in Week 2. Through three games, Jones has notched 12 catches for 204 yards.

Brown turned in one of the better rookie WR years in recent memory and followed it up with a strong 2020 encore. Last year, Brown finished out with 70 grabs for 1,075 yards and eleven touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl. So far, he’s got seven grabs for 92 yards and one score, though his Week 3 game was effectively wiped out by the hamstring issue.

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Titans Place Bud Dupree On PUP List, Caleb Farley On NFI List

The Titans’ top two offseason acquisitions on defense came with injury tags, and each will begin the team’s training camp out of practice. Tennessee placed Bud Dupree on its active/PUP list and parked first-round pick Caleb Farley on its non-football injury list Saturday.

Both can be removed from these respective lists at any point during camp, and each designation was expected. Dupree is coming off a December ACL tear, while Farley missed Tennessee’s minicamp while recovering from offseason back surgery. Were Dupree to land on the Titans’ reserve/PUP list to start the regular season, he would miss the team’s first six games.

Dupree did not offer any clarity on his rehab timetable recently, and given the recovery time for ACL tears, it would not surprise if the ex-Steeler sack artist was held out of camp. Despite the injury and the pandemic-induced salary cap reduction, the Titans gave Dupree a five-year, $82.5MM deal that included $33.8MM fully guaranteed.

Farley has now undergone two back surgeries, with the second coming in March. The first-round cornerback initially encountered lower-back trouble while training ahead of Virginia Tech’s 2019 season, and after he excelled that fall to vault onto the first-round radar, the malady ended his second and final Hokies season early. Farley opted out of the 2020 season, but the Titans — as they did with Jeffery Simmons in 2019 — bet on talent and selected the standout defender 22nd overall. Farley received an NFI designation because his injury occurred before he entered the NFL.

In better Titans news, both A.J. Brown and Taylor Lewan avoided any injury-related designations heading into camp. Brown underwent surgery on both knees this offseason; Lewan is coming back from an ACL tear.

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AFC Rumors: Ravens, Crowder, Chiefs, Pats

Orlando Brown has issued an unusual ultimatum to the Ravens: move him full-time to left tackle or trade him. But with the team just extending one of the best left tackles in football, Ronnie Stanley, accommodating Brown on a position move is a non-starter. Baltimore, however, is listening on offers for its three-year right tackle, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Ravens will certainly want a big haul for their contract-year edge protector. However, the new CBA further protecting teams against holdouts will limit Brown’s options, and the Ravens already have questions up front. Their strength at tackle somewhat offsets issues inside, but dealing Brown would further weaken a line that lost some punch after Marshal Yanda‘s retirement.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Jamison Crowder‘s six touchdowns led the Jets last season, and he added a passing TD in one of the team’s two wins. The veteran slot receiver is by far Sam Darnold‘s most proven weapon, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes Crowder is vulnerable to cap-casualty status because of his team-high $11.4MM cap number. With Crowder’s $10MM salary not guaranteed in the final year of his deal, cutting him would free up eight figures in cap space for the Jets. While this would create another skill-position need for a team with numerous deficiencies, there will be several starter-caliber receivers available. It is not like the Jets need cap space, with only the Jaguars holding more, but Crowder predates GM Joe Douglas‘ arrival. He could soon join a loaded free agent receiver class.
  • The University of Tennessee offered Chiefs linebackers coach Matt House its defensive coordinator job, but House turned down the Volunteers, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter). House has been with the Chiefs for two years, coming to Kansas City after a three-year stay as the University of Kentucky. He was the Wildcats’ DC for two of those slates.
  • Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown is recovering from surgery on both knees, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. While this certainly sounds serious, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets these operations were minor. Brown missed early-season time with knee trouble but returned before the midway point and made his first Pro Bowl.
  • Former Dolphins quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree will join the Patriots‘ staff, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This comes after 2020 Pats QBs coach Jedd Fisch agreed to become head coach at the University of Arizona. Hardegree spent the past five years in the AFC East, working under Adam Gase at each stop. Hardegree, 36, also worked with the Broncos and Bears under Gase, beginning his NFL run in 2014.

Titans Place Corey Davis On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Earlier Wednesday, reports indicated the Titans had two new COVID-19 positives. One of those appears to have been fourth-year wide receiver Corey Davis.

The Titans placed Davis on their reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday afternoon. Tennessee now has 12 players on that list. The team still cannot re-enter its facility for practice, putting its Sunday game against Buffalo in doubt.

The league, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter), has launched an investigation into the Titans. They have seen a coronavirus outbreak spread among their roster and are believed to have conducted an illegal offsite workout. Some around the league believe the league is set to levy a “historic” punishment against the team to set an example, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. In addition to levying six-figure fines against teams for their coaches not complying with mask protocols, the NFL has threatened to strip teams of draft picks. That would seem to be the baseline for a “historic” punishment.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Davis joins fellow wideout Adam Humphries, defensive line starters Jeffery Simmons and DaQuan Jones, second-round cornerback Kristian Fulton, linebacker Kamalei Correa, long snapper Beau Brinkley, first-round tackle Isaiah Wilson, running back Khari Blasingame and practice squad players Cameron Batson, Greg Mabin and Tommy Hudson.

If the Titans-Bills game does happen this week — which is still the league’s plan — Tennessee could be severely shorthanded at wide receiver. No. 1 target A.J. Brown has not played since Week 1, but the team’s virtual injury report listed the second-year player as going through a pseudo-limited practice. This marks a pivotal year for Davis, after the Titans did not pick up his fifth-year option in May. Through three games, the former top-five pick has 15 receptions for 206 yards and a touchdown.

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Injury Notes: Baker, Thomas, Hunter

Cardinals star safety Budda Baker is playing through a torn UCL in his thumb, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. Baker plans to play in Arizona’s game against the Lions this afternoon and then undergo surgery this week. Although the same injury sidelined Saints QB Drew Brees for six weeks last season, Baker obviously does not have to throw the football and believes he will miss only the Cardinals’ Week 4 contest against the Panthers before returning to the field to take on the Jets in Week 5.

Now for more injury-related news regarding a few of the league’s high-profile players:

  • There has been a great deal of talk about Brees’ struggles early this season, but the Saints‘ signal-caller may soon have his top target back. Wide receiver Michael Thomas has looked good in workouts and is eyeing a Week 4 return, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
  • The Vikings need a boost on both sides of the ball, and they are clearly missing DE Danielle Hunter. As Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets, Hunter, who is dealing with a herniated disc in his neck, is eligible to come off IR next week but is unlikely to be ready to return by then. However, he is regaining strength, and the team remains optimistic that he will be back this season.
  • Titans WR A.J. Brown is dealing with a bone bruise in his knee, and the injury is a significant one, according to Schefter (via Twitter). Brown’s knee has not responded as well to treatment as the team had hoped, and he might end up missing more than just this afternoon’s game against Minnesota.
  • More difficult news for Tennessee. Titans CB Adoree’ Jackson is eligible to come off IR this week, but Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com hears that Jackson may not be sufficiently recovered from his knee injury for that to happen (Twitter link). It’s unclear how much additional time the 2017 first-rounder will miss.
  • 49ers WR Deebo Samuel is likely to return to practice this week, as Rapoport notes (via Twitter). Samuel will be eased into action, and while he probably won’t play in Week 4, the Niners’ top wideout is expected back for the team’s Week 5 bout with the Dolphins.

Titans WR A.J. Brown To Miss Time

After narrowly escaping Denver with a Week 1 win, the Titans may be without a key piece of their skill-position corps against the Jaguars and potentially beyond Week 2.

A.J. Brown missed practice Thursday with a bone bruise in his knee, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports the second-year wide receiver could miss multiple games (Twitter link). Brown will be classified as week-to-week. Tennessee indeed declared its No. 1 wide receiver out for its Week 2 game against Jacksonville.

The Titans saw Brown enjoy one of the better rookie years a wide receiver has in recent memory, and the Ole Miss product played a pivotal role in the Titans making a surprise run to the AFC championship game. Although the 2019 second-round pick only received 84 targets, he turned those into 52 catches for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns. Next Gen Stats rated Brown first in yards after catch per reception (8.8) last season.

Tennessee has former top-five pick Corey Davis in a contract year, after not picking up his fifth-year option, and slot receiver Adam Humphries. Those two will need to fill a key void, should Brown be forced to miss multiple games.

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Titans Sign Second-Round WR A.J. Brown

The Titans have wrapped up their 2019 draft class by signing second-round wide receiver A.J. Brown, the club announced today.

Brown was the fourth wideout off the board — following Marquise Brown (Ravens), N’Keal Harry (Patriots), and Deebo Samuel (49ers) — when Tennessee selected him at 51st overall. Brown was the second Ole Miss alum to be drafted, following offensive tackle Greg Little, one of two Rebel receivers (joining fellow second-rounder D.K. Metcalf), and one of six Ole Miss products to be drafted in 2019.

Although he was viewed as a pro-ready pass-catcher coming out of college, Brown may not become an immediate starter for the Titans. 2017 first-round pick Corey Davis and free agent addition Adam Humphries — inked to a four-year, $36MM deal — are locked into starting spots, so Brown will compete with the likes of Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe for snaps as Tennessee’s third wide receiver.

Brown led Ole Miss in receptions (85), yards (1,320), and touchdowns (six) during his final collegiate season, and topped 1,000 yards in each of the past two years. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared the 6’0″, 225-pound Brown to Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, lauding Brown’s route-running ability and competitiveness.

Here’s the Titans 2019 class in its entirety:

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West Draft Rumors: Cardinals, Murray, 49ers, Broncos

On Saturday, Arizona State receiver and local product N’Keal Harry visited the Cardinals for a private visit, NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport tweets.

Possessing the size, strength and speed of a prototypical outside receiver, Harry could be an option for Arizona should he still be on the board when the team is on the clock at No. 33. Harry should fully be in play there, as the Cardinals reportedly like the value of going receiver with their second-round pick, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tweets.

Should the team go with Harry, it would pair him with another local standout in Christian Kirk, who impressed as a rookie before missing time with an injury down the stretch. The pair of young wideouts would join veteran and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald in a potentially loaded receiver corps for either Josh Rosen or Kyler Murray, should the team go with the Oklahoma product as expected a week before the draft.

Here’s more draft talk from around the league:

  • Sticking with the Cardinals, though the team has been heavily linked to Murray, Kent Somer of the Arizona Republic believes the team should pass on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He thinks the team should stick with Rosen, attempt to trade down to pick up more picks, and, if that option is not possible, take either Quinnen Williams or Nick Bosa.
  • Speaking of Williams, many NFL executives reportedly prefer the Alabama defensive lineman to Ohio State’s Bosa as the draft’s top overall prospect, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. In a poll of 14 personnel members by Bob McGinn, six chose Williams as the top picks, twice as many as Bosa, who received the second most. Also receiving votes were Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and Jeffery Simmons.
  • The Broncos have been heavily tied to quarterback’s heading into this week’s draft. Helping pick that signal-caller, if they do indeed go that route, is new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who learned how to pick the position from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran writes“Kyle had a lot of success (evaluating quarterbacks) and (he) showed me some things that I use in the evaluation process,” Scangarello said. “It’s a tough position to evaluate. You just get them in (the meeting room) and you try and find out what you can about them.” Denver has been linked with Drew Lock, but Daniel Jones, Murray and Dwayne Haskins could all fit the bill at No. 10 if everything falls right.
  • The 49ers have been heavily tied to either Bosa or Williams with the No. 2 pick on Thursday, but the team is looking to the skill positions for their Round 2 pick, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco writes. At the top of the list is wide receiver, where they are looking to find a starter-level pass catcher to complement second-year wideout Dante Pettis and veteran Marquise Goodwin. Maiocco notes the receivers who have been in for a visit include Harry, A.J. Brown, Hakeem Butler, Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel.

 

 

Draft Notes: Jones, Brown, Bills, Raiders

Beyond Kyler Murray‘s long-rumored Cardinals fit, landing spots for this draft’s other top quarterbacks are difficult to determine. But Daniel Jones, despite not exactly having impressive college statistics, has gained more steam as a first-round pick. One team has the Duke prospect as the top quarterback on its board, according to Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson (on Twitter). The Giants are believed to be high on him. So are the Patriots. While one scout wondered (via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com) if the former Blue Devils signal-caller would slip to the third round had he not played under David Cutcliffe, who coached both Manning brothers when they were college passers, another scout and a former GM said (via NBC Sports Washington’s Ben Standig) they each would take Jones over Drew Lock. It certainly looks Jones will land in the first round next week.

Here is the latest from the 2019 draft talent pool:

  • Another first-round hopeful, Marquise Brown, also looks like a lock to hear his name called Thursday. The Oklahoma-honed speedster may be the only guaranteed wideout to go off the board in Round 1, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes, after speaking with NFL staffers. Said execs then place Ole Miss alums D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown as possible first-rounders, per Miller. That would stand to make the second round potentially filled with receiver investments. The 49ers have some names in mind.
  • On the subject of the 49ers, they visited with tight end Noah Fant recently, per Sirius XM Radio’s Alex Marvez (on Twitter). This profiles as an interesting use of a visit, with the 49ers closely connected to Nick Bosa at No. 2 and not needing a tight end. But San Francisco did do well with its past Iowa investment at this position, with George Kittle breaking out in a major way in 2018.
  • Despite Rashan Gary‘s past as a top-10 national recruit and his Combine performance, another report has indicated his stock has dipped a bit. After a Thursday report pointed to the Michigan defensive lineman dropping, Miller adds teams are concerned about how little his athleticism translated to production (9.5 sacks in three seasons). Additionally, Miller doubles down on the medical concerns surrounding Gary. Some scouts believe there will be issues on that front, potentially with Gary’s shoulder, which was a trouble spot during his Wolverines run.
  • Ed Oliver‘s stock has risen a bit in the days leading up to the draft, and the Bills are in play for the interior defender at No. 9, Miller writes, adding Buffalo wants to add a bona fide interior pass-rushing presence to complement the space-eating defensive tackles it currently employs.
  • The Raiders ditched their scouting staff going into the draft and are expected to overhaul the department under new GM Mike Mayock. On draft weekend, Oakland’s non-Mayock/Jon Gruden staffers involved in the three-day event will be assistant director of player personnel Trey Scott and director of football administration Tom Delaney, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Delaney has been with the Raiders dating back to the first Gruden era; Scott rose to his current position under Reggie McKenzie‘s watch two years ago.