Alex Anzalone

Saints Place LB Alex Anzalone On IR

While injury news out of New Orleans will naturally be focused on quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints lost another contributor today. ESPN’s Field Yates tweets that the team has placed linebacker Alex Anzalone on the injured reserve.

As Charean Williams of points out, while Anzalone’s current injury isn’t known, the third-year player has struggled with shoulder ailments during his brief career. He was limited to only four games (and, notably, four starts) as a rookie before landing on the IR with a shoulder injury. He also had shoulder surgery this past offseason.

The former third-rounder out of Florida did manage to appear in all 16 games (seven starts) last season, compiling 59 tackles, two sacks, and three forced fumbles. He also appeared in the Saints first two games this season, collecting seven tackles and one sack. However, he only appeared in 18 of his team’s 70 defensive snaps yesterday.

The Saints acquired Kiko Alonso prior to the start of the season, and while the veteran has played a minor role through his first two games with New Orleans, he’ll surely be counted on following this latest injury. The Saints are also rostering linebackers Demario Davis, A.J. Klein, Craig Robertson, and Kaden Elliss.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Johnson, Rodgers, Panthers

More details on David Johnson‘s Cardinals contract are emerging. In addition to the fourth-year running back seeing $24MM in full guarantees as part of his three-year, $39MM extension, Johnson will receive a $12MM signing bonus, Dan Graziano of reports (Twitter link). His $5.7MM base salary in 2019 is fully guaranteed. The All-Pro’s 2020 base ($10.2MM) will have $5.1MM guaranteed fully at signing, per Graziano (on Twitter), but the other half of it is guaranteed for injury only. However, Johnson’s full 2020 salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the Cardinals’ roster by March of 2019.

Each of Johnson’s next three seasons include $750K in per-game roster bonuses. As far as cap numbers go, Johnson now has a $5MM hit this season. The former third-round pick will count $9.45MM against Arizona’s 2019 cap, $13.95MM in 2020 and $11.7MM in 2021, Graziano reports (Twitter link).

Here’s the latest out of the NFC, shifting toward its most important player.

  • Aaron Rodgers missed Packers practice again on Thursday, but this wasn’t unexpected. However, Mike McCarthy said it’s no layup that his two-time MVP quarterback will play Sunday against the Vikings, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rodgers and McCarthy said Wednesday he does not need to practice in order to start Sunday.
  • It keeps getting worse for the Panthers. After serious injuries hit Greg Olsen and Daryl Williams in Week 1, Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner is in concussion protocol, David Newton of notes. Both of Carolina’s starting tackles — Williams and Matt Kalil — are already on IR. Both can return after eight weeks, but at this point, it can’t be assumed both will be back. Carolina could lose a more important player to its cause. Only two players can be recalled from IR. Amini Silatolu filled in for Turner last season, but he may have to play right tackle Sunday. However, the Panthers added Chris Clark to potentially do that. In addition to Silatolu, Newton writes Tyler Larsen and rookie UDFA Brendan Mahon will have a chance to start in place of Turner — in the event he can’t go Sunday.
  • Demario Davis rated as a top-10 Pro Football Focus linebacker last year, doing so for his work as an inside linebacker. It was expected the high-priced free agent would man the middle for the Saints, but they’ve moved him to the weak side,’s Josh Katzenstein notes. Second-year man Alex Anzalone is now stationed as New Orleans’ middle ‘backer, but the team rotated he, Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein as Davis sidekicks in Week 1. Sean Payton said the team’s still determining how it will structure its linebacker usage. Davis played all 66 snaps in the Saints’ loss to the Buccaneers, while Anzalone led the others with 34. Klein functioned in Davis’ role in 2017, playing all of the Saints’ Week 1 snaps in his first game with the team.

Saints Place LB Alex Anzalone On IR

The Saints have placed linebacker Alex Anzalone on injured reserve, according to the NFL’s transactions wire. It’s not immediately clear whether he is a candidate to return later this year. "<strong

Anzalone was one of two third-round picks for the Saints in this year’s draft. Thanks in part to shoulder injuries, he didn’t see significant playing time at Florida until last season, when he totaled 53 tackles and three sacks. Shoulder issues caught up to Anzalone again when he exited the opening drive of Sunday’s game against Miami.

Anzalone wound up as the Saints’ Week 1 starter at weakside linebacker and the results through four games (or, three-games-and-change) were promising. The rookie has 16 tackles, one sack, and one pass deflection to his credit while ranking as Pro Football Focus’ No. 35 linebacker.

Anzalone’s injury may help to explain the Saints’ workout with Gerald Hodges on Tuesday. Internal options also exist on the New Orleans roster, as the club can turn to Manti Te’o, Nathan Stupar, or the recently-signed Gabe Martin to fill in for the time being.

The linebacker is the second Saints starter to go down this week. On Tuesday, tackle Zach Strief was placed on IR with an MCL sprain.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Pick Signings: 6/1/17

The latest NFL rookies to put pen to paper on their first contracts:

  • The Saints signed their two third-round picks, linebacker Alex Anzalone (pick No. 76) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (No. 103), as well as sixth-round DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (No. 196) on Thursday (via Anzalone’s Twitter account and Herbie Teope of Thanks in part to shoulder injuries, Anzalone didn’t pick up significant playing time at Florida until last season, when he totaled 53 tackles and three sacks. Despite his relatively modest output with the Gators, Anzalone has the talent to be a three-down starter in the pros, per Lance Zierlein of Hendrickson, meanwhile, was quite productive at Florida Atlantic, where he tallied 41 tackles for loss and 29.5 sacks from 2013-16. Most of the damage came over the previous two years, as Hendrickson combined for 30 TFL and 23 sacks in that span. Muhammad, yet another prospect who played his college ball at a Florida-based institution (Miami), is coming off a troubled tenure with the Hurricanes. He missed all of 2014 on account of a suspension stemming from an altercation and then incurred yet another ban last year, one that led to his dismissal from Miami, for a violation of NCAA rules. The last time Muhammad took the field, in 2015, he put up 54 tackles (8.5 for loss) and five sacks.
  • The Packers have signed fourth-round running back Jamaal Williams (No. 134), leaving only one of their 10 picks – third-round defensive tackle Montravius Adamswithout a contract. Williams, the first of three running backs the Packers drafted this year, was a two-time 1,200-yard rusher at BYU. He finished his Cougars tenure with a career year in 2016, amassing 1,375 rushing yards (with a 5.9 yards-per-carry average) and 12 touchdowns in 10 games.