Ameer Abdullah

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Bolts, Washington

Paxton Lynch joins the likes of Ameer Abdullah, Breshad Perriman, Stephone Anthony and Mike Gillislee on a roster bubble, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter), and the Broncos may choose to cut ties with their disappointing 2016 first-rounder. Lynch would prefer to stay in Denver, Mike Klis of 9News tweets, despite his rocky tenure there to date. A fresh start might be best for the former Memphis prodigy, but the Broncos may elect to keep him as their No. 3 quarterback. Chad Kelly‘s performance in Denver’s Thursday-night finale could determine Lynch’s fate, with Troy Renck of Denver7 writing that a strong showing from the 2017 seventh-rounder may convince the Broncos he’s ready to be Case Keenum‘s regular-season backup rather than forcing the Broncos to acquire a veteran to serve in that role. That would seemingly free up a roster spot for Lynch as the third-stringer. It would cost the Broncos $4.9MM to cut Lynch. They already absorbed a $5.5MM dead-money hit upon releasing Menelik Watson.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West, shifting to another quarterback battle.

  • The Chargers are likely to keep just two quarterbacks, which makes sense given Philip Rivers‘ historic durability. Los Angeles’ starter has taken first-string snaps in every game since succeeding Drew Brees in 2006. As a result, Yates adds that either Cardale Jones or Geno Smith is a cut candidate. The Bolts, though, aren’t certain which one will be given his walking papers. Smith is a vested veteran and would head into free agency if released, while Jones would be subject to waivers. Neither is attached to a contract worth more than $1MM.
  • Su’a Cravens will make his Broncos debut Thursday night after missing most of August due to a knee injury, Renck notes. The former Redskins safety/linebacker has a clearer path to the Broncos’ roster, despite missing most of training camp, due to Jamal Carter‘s season-ending injury.
  • With UDFA Phillip Lindsay almost certainly having earned his way onto the team as Denver’s No. 3 running back, De’Angelo Henderson has drawn trade interest. Former Broncos tackle Tyler Polumbus, writing for The Athletic (subscription required) believes that would be the best scenario for the second-year player, noting that Denver will likely keep four backs — Devontae Booker, Royce Freeman, Lindsay and fullback Andy Janovich — on its 53-man roster. This would leave both Henderson, who likely wouldn’t pass through waivers, and seventh-round rookie David Williams, who might, off the team.
  • Although he returned a punt for a touchdown in the preseason, Isaiah McKenzie probably won’t make the Broncos, per Polumbus. The diminutive return man has fumbled several kicks in his short Broncos stay, losing another one during preseason play. Lindsay and the recent addition of Adam Jones look to have forced the second-year player off the roster.
  • The Raiders will likely waive DeAndre Washington and allow recent camp pickup Chris Warren to take his place, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes. Washington recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is an IR candidate, per Gutierrez, who has the Raiders keeping four running backs — Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and Warren. Washington and Richard served as backups for Lynch and Latavius Murray the past two years. Washington averaged 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie but struggled last season (2.7 YPC).

NFC Notes: Donald, Giants, Cash, Lions

The Aaron Donald saga may finally be nearing a conclusion. Rams GM Les Snead indicated earlier this week that team and player were progressing towards a new deal, and head coach Sean McVay echoed those sentiments last night. Per Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic (Twitter link), McVay said, “there’s increased dialogue. There’s more…we feel positive about the direction that these things are going. I think there’s a level of urgency that’s being displayed from us.” That probably sounds like music to the ears of Rams fans, who have legitimate championship dreams this season.

Now let’s take a quick look at a few more notes from the NFC:

  • Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets that Giants quarterback Kyle Lauletta is getting reps with the second team today, which is the first time Dunleavy can recall that happening. 2017 third-rounder Davis Webb was said to have a big lead on Lauletta for Big Blue’s backup job coming out of minicamp, but this could be a sign that Lauletta, a 2018 fourth-round pick, is closing the gap. Webb, of course, was selected by New York’s prior regime, while Lauletta has the benefit of being chosen by the team’s new crop of decision-makers.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that Cardinals LB Jeremy Cash sustained a knee injury during last night’s preseason game that is believed to be season-ending. That is a tough blow for the Duke product, who has bounced around a few different teams since entering the league but who had a real chance of cracking Arizona’s 53-man roster this season. The Cardinals claimed him off waivers in March.
  • Good news for 49ers fans, as right guard Joshua Garnett has returned to practice after missing two weeks to deal with his right knee issue, per Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets that Garnett’s primary competitor for San Francisco’s right guard job, Jonathan Cooper, is also on hand, so perhaps the competition can finally begin in earnest. This comes just a week after a report that the 49ers were growing increasingly concerned about Garnett’s knee problems.
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press offers his take on the prospects of a few different Lions after the team’s first preseason game several nights ago. He says it is only a matter of time before rookie Kerryon Johnson becomes Detroit’s starting tailback, though Ameer Abdullah also looked good and was the first man up on kick and punt returns. Birkett adds that Jake Rudock‘s rough night, combined with Matt Cassel‘s ties to head coach Matt Patricia, have increased Cassel’s chances of opening the season as the club’s backup QB.
  • The Bears signed running back/return specialist Knile Davis earlier today.

North Notes: Lions, Abdullah, Tate, Browns, Ward, Packers, Williams

After drafting Kerryon Johnson in the second round and signing LeGarrette Blount in free agency, the Lions suddenly have a crowded running backs room. In addition to Johnson and Blount, the team also has Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington, and Zach Zenner on the team. At this point, Johnson, Blount, and Riddick are the locks to make t he team, while Abdullah, Washington, and Zenner are on the roster bubble, according to Tim Twentyman of Detroitlions.com.

Twentyman thinks the three on the bubble will be fighting it out for just one spot on the team. As of now he seems to think that Abdullah has the edge. The team can save $1MM in cap space by cutting Abdullah. Abdullah has been a disappointment since entering the league with a lot of hype as a second round pick back in 2015. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, even if he does make the roster this fall, 2018 should be his last season in Detroit. Washington and Zenner have both been hanging around the bottom of the Lions’ roster the past couple of years, and it looks like it could be the end of the road for them.

Here’s more from the league’s northern divisions:

  • The Browns are very high on rookie Denzel Ward, reports Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland. The number four overall pick in this year’s draft, Ward has drawn rave reviews from defensive coordinator Gregg Williams this spring. “He is one of the best press guys that I have seen” Williams said, adding that Ward “passed with flying colors” during offseason workouts. It sounds like Ward could start right away and that he could help solve the Browns’ long-lasting issues at cornerback.
  • The Packers battle between Tramon Williams and rookie Josh Jackson for a starting cornerback spot will be one of the most interesting competitions to keep an eye on, writes Nick Shook of NFL.com. Shook points out that Williams is 35, and that the Packers might be eager to usher in a “new era” at cornerback with Jackson. Williams could hang on as a starter for one final year, but it won’t be long until the Packers’ younger cornerbacks take over.
  • Golden Tate isn’t concerned with his contract, he told Sirius XM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Tate said he wasn’t worried about heading into the final year of his deal, and doesn’t appear to be pressuring the Lions for a new one. He did say teams shouldn’t hold his age against him, because he hasn’t “shown any decline.”

NFC Notes: Abdullah, Flowers, Seahawks, Bucs, Packers

Despite starting 11 games last season, Lions running back Ameer Abdullah only compiled 552 rushing yards on 165 carries. After three seasons in the league, the former second-rounder was hoping for a larger role, and he acknowledged that he was frustrated with his workload during an appearance on Michael Rapaport’s podcast.

“It’s frustrating, especially coming from Nebraska where I was the guy, I knew I was going to get the ball at least 20 times a game,” Abdullah said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “For me, it’s not necessarily getting a certain number of touches. It’s getting meaningful touches and getting into a rhythm. That’s where it gets kind of frustrating.”

The 24-year-old might not get his wish in 2018. Detroit did hire a new head coach in Matt Patricia, but Jim Bob Cooter stuck around as offensive coordinator. The Lions also signed veteran running back LeGarrette Blount, and they used a second-round pick on Kerryon Johnson.

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFC…

  • We learned last week that Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers was upset that the team signed free agent lineman Nate Solder. Giants head coach Pat Shurmur told Zach Braziller of the New York Post that he’s been in contact with the 2015 first-rounder, although he wouldn’t say when the lineman was expected to attend offseason workouts (Twitter link). The Giants signed Solder to a landmark deal this offseason and gave him Flowers’ position, and the team subsequently tried to shop their now-disgruntled lineman.
  • The Seahawks did lose several big-name free agents this offseason, including tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, and wideout Paul Richardson. However, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes, the organization isn’t expected to receive any compensatory picks in next year’s draft. Part of the reasoning has to do with the team’s free agent additions, as Seattle signed tight end Ed Dickson, wideout Jaron Brown, and linebacker Barkevious Mingo (thus offsetting the losses). The Seahawks may have gotten some compensation had offensive linemen Oday Aboushi and Luke Joeckel, running back Eddie Lacy, kicker Blair Walsh and linebacker Michael Wilhoite signed elsewhere, but the deadline for compensatory draft picks was on Wednesday.
  • Buccaneers rookie linebacker Jack Cichy is already practicing with his new squad, writes Greg Auman of TampaBay.com. The sixth-round pick is nine months removed from surgery on a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury that caused him to miss the 2017 season (and, vicariously, caused his draft stock to fall). “It was fun to be back out here. Everything felt good,” said Cichy, who wore a brace on his right knee. “It felt crisp and felt good just to get back in the flow of things and get acclimated here.”
  • When eying undrafted rookies who could contribute to the Packers this season, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky says we should “follow the money.” Last season, five members of Green Bay’s undrafted class finished the season on the active roster, and four of those players had received the highest-possible signing bonus. This year, the Packers gave $6K signing bonuses (the top possible amount) to five of their 16 undrafted signings: offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek, quarterback Tim Boyle, center Austin Davis, defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster, and defensive end Conor Sheehy.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Rams, Brockers, Lions, Dunlap

After much speculation, Cowboys defender Byron Jones confirmed on Monday that he will be switching from safety to cornerback in 2018, the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota writes.

Viewed as a versatile defender coming out of college, Jones played cornerback as a rookie in 2015 and a safety the past two seasons. New defensive backs coach Kris Richard preferred him at the former.

“I think it will be a good move for me and the team. I’m always open to making position changes, as long as I’m in the best position to succeed. If [Richard] believes my best position is corner, then I’m down.”

Richard knows a thing or two about getting the best from bigger cornerbacks. With the Seahawks, Richard oversaw Richard Sherman’s ascent to one of the premier corners in the league. What remains to be seen is if the team prefers him on the boundary or in the slot. In 2017, rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis showed plenty of promise on the outside.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • In a press conference on Monday, Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers told reporters he tore his MCL in the team’s playoff loss to the Falcons in January, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. During that game, the sixth-year defender sat out the second half. The good news for Los Angeles is that Brockers took part in team activities on Monday, but they’re not in pads until training camp.
  • If any Lions players are moved in draft-day deals, some of the names that make sense include Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Jake Rudock, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein writes. Those names all come to mind after the team added veterans in LeGarrette Blount and Matt Cassel in the offseason.
  • The goal is for the Bengals to sign both Carlos Dunlap and get a new deal with Geno AtkinsBengals.com writer Geoff Hobson notes in a mailbag. Both Dunlap’s and Atkins’ deals run through the 2018 campaign.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to be deposed in the next two weeks in Colin Kaeperncik‘s collusion case against the league, USA Today’s A.J. Perez writes. Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll are also on the docket to be deposed.

RB Notes: Charles, Abdullah, Collins, Texans

Two starting running backs received some unfortunate news Monday, with Dalvin Cook having suffered a confirmed ACL tear and Chris Carson suffering multiple lower-leg injuries that will shelve him for an extended time period — if not the rest of his season. These setbacks stand to weaken Vikings and Seahawks’ rushing attacks, although both teams have veteran insurance. However, prior to these rookies’ arrivals, each team struggled to gain ground yards last season. Latavius Murray and Eddie Lacy — two fifth-year backs who relocated this offseason, one that featured a slow market for running backs — figure to play more prominent roles with their new teams now.

Here’s the latest from NFL backfields, continuing to another player who spent extensive time in free agency this year.

  • A bruised knee limited Jamaal Charles to just one series in the second half of the Broncos‘ Week 4 win over the Raiders, Mike Klis of 9 News tweets. That’s a bit scary given Charles’ injury history, but the good news is that it is not serious. It also helps that the Broncos are on bye and will not play again until Oct. 15.
  • Lions running back Ameer Abdullah rolled his ankle early in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but he says he feels “good” and has been cleared by doctors (link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). Abdullah, who missed the majority of the 2016 season with a foot injury, finished the day against Minnesota with a career-high 94 yards on 20 carries. If not for the ankle, he might have become the first Lion to have a 100-yard rushing game since Reggie Bush. The Lions have now gone 58 games since Bush gained 117 yards in a Thanksgiving win over Green Bay in 2013.
  • Alex Collins broke off two long runs on Sunday, but the new Ravens starter is already on a short leash because of ball-security issues. Collins has now fumbled twice since debuting with the Ravens in Week 2. “He won’t get any more opportunities [if the fumbling continues] — the leash isn’t going to be long on that,” John Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “When you come in here and drop the ball however many times he has dropped, I’m not going to tolerate it. I like him. He’s a good kid, and he makes plays, but he has to hold onto the football.” Collins fumbled twice as a rookie last season in limited Seahawks action and 17 times while at Arkansas.
  • Fellow second-year runner Tyler Ervin won’t have a chance to contribute on the field again this season. The Texans back suffered a torn patellar tendon, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Ervin was operating as a depth piece in a Lamar Miller– and D’Onta Foreman-fronted backfield. Ervin’s expected to have surgery Monday and land on IR, Wilson reports.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

NFC Notes: Redskins, Bears, Lions

Running back Matt Jones, who’s not in the Redskins’ plans, would like the team to trade or cut him, reports John Keim of ESPN.com. For now, the Redskins have no plans to cut the two-year veteran, according to Keim, though he notes that teams around the NFL ultimately expect that to happen. Although he averaged an impressive 4.6 yards per carry on 99 attempts last season, the fumble-prone Jones is now at the bottom of Washington’s backfield depth chart.

More from two other NFC cities:

  • Bears wide receiver Cameron Meredith suffered a thumb ligament injury Thursday that will keep him out until training camp, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He’s the second OTA casualty for Chicago, joining quarterback Mark Sanchez, who suffered a knee injury earlier this week. Meredith is clearly the more important player for the Bears, having posted 66 receptions, 888 yards and four touchdowns as a second-year man in 2016.
  • The Bears’ newest receiver, Victor Cruz, can earn up $4MM on his one-year contract, relays Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Cruz’s deal includes a $500K signing bonus, $500K in per-game roster bonuses and a chance to rake in $2MM in incentives.
  • The Lions are done deploying a fullback, head coach Jim Caldwell revealed Wednesday (via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press). Caldwell’s announcement came a day after the Lions waived fullback Michael Burton, who only played 95 offensive snaps last season. “The reason why Burton’s no longer here is because that position as you’d call it (designated as a) fullback, is not part of how we function,” Caldwell said. “We find a way to get done with other positions, tight end and things of that nature.”
  • As a guest on “The Carriker Chronicles” podcast, Lions starting running back Ameer Abdullah opened up about the foot injury that ended his season in Week 2 last year. “I ended up tearing my Lisfranc the second game of the season against the Tennessee Titans, separating my foot, so that was a bummer for me,” Abdullah told former NFLer Adam Carriker (per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). “But I’m shaking back good now. It’s helped me understand my body more, so I’m a lot more penciled in on what I need to do as far as recovery, make sure I’m [doing all the] right things for my body to make sure I’m ready for this 2017 season.”

Draft Fallout: Kizer, Abdullah, Butt, Jags

The Browns were the club most frequently connected to new Bears’ QB Mitch Trubisky prior to the draft, but Chicago made the surprising decision to trade up to the No. 2 overall pick and nab the former UNC signal-caller, and then Patrick Mahomes came off the board before Cleveland could nab him with the No. 12 overall selection. So the Browns dealt that pick and waited until the the second round to get a quarterback, selecting Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, whose stock slipped over the last few months but who certainly has first-round ability.

As Tony Grossi of ESPN.com writes, the Browns are open to having Kizer start right away. Head coach Hue Jackson said, “If he can handle [starting], great. We are not going to say, ‘No, you can’t play,’ if he is ready to play.”

Now for more fallout from the 2017 draft:

  • The Lions did not select a running back in this year’s draft, and as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes, GM Bob Quinn stated afterwards that Ameer Abdullah, who missed almost all of 2016 with a foot injury, will be the team’s starting back going into 2017.
  • The Packers drafted three running backs over the past several days, but head coach Mike McCarthy said that converted wideout Ty Montgomery will “absolutely” be the team’s starting back (via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal).
  • The Cardinals landed guard Dorian Johnson in the fourth round of this year’s draft, even though his talent level should have made him a Day 2 selection. Johnson has a liver condition that made a number of clubs wary of making him a second- or third-round choice, and Johnson’s agent, Joe Panos, took exception to his client’s slide, saying, “I had GMs tell me they couldn’t risk a 2nd or 3rd on Dorian due to the recent discovery of a liver condition he’s had since birth, even though his heptalogist said his condition will in no way affect his ability to play. Teams couldn’t risk a high pick on him. Yet every year I see teams risk high picks on guys with serious character issues. Bad guys. They’ll take risks on those guys because his coaches ‘vouched’ for him. [A coach’s] word is gold. But Dorian’s heptalogist, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about?” (all links go to Twitter via ESPN’s Adam Caplan).
  • New Broncos tight end Jake Butt slipped to the top of the fifth round of this year’s draft due to an ACL injury he suffered in his final collegiate game (prior to the injury, he was projected to be picked at the top of the second round). But before the 2016 college season, Butt purchased a loss-of-value policy that partially compensated him for the money he lost due to his draft slide, as Darren Rovell of ESPN.com writes. Had Butt been selected at the top of the second round, he would have earned $4MM guaranteed, but as an early fifth-rounder, he is guaranteed only $380K. The insurance policy paid out roughly $900K (pre-tax), so the injury ended up costing Butt a little shy of $2.8MM. These loss-of-value policies have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Jaylon Smith are two of the more notable recent beneficiaries of such policies.
  • The Jaguars acquired Branden Albert earlier this offseason, but GM Dave Caldwell said second-round draft pick Cam Robinson will compete with Albert for the starting left tackle job (via Hays Carlyon of 1010XL). Albert has been absent from voluntary workouts as he seeks a new contract, though if he proves to be the best man for the job, Caldwell did indicate that Robinson could move, at least temporarily, to guard.
  • The Jaguars selected Oklahoma wideout Dede Westbrook in the fourth round yesterday despite his two domestic violence arrests that caused some teams to remove him from their boards completely. As Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets, one AFC area scout said of Westbrook, “No thoughts. It is what it is. He’s a degenerate.”

Lions RB Ameer Abdullah On Track To Return?

Lions running back Ameer Abdullah met with foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson this week and he received some good news. Anderson found the foot structurally sound with no reason to believe aggravation of the injury might occur, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Abdullah’s foot has come along better than expected and that could allow him to take the field again this season. There is a realistic chance that he could be activated in three weeks. Ameer Abdullah (vertical)

[RELATED: Lions’ Pettigrew May Return From PUP]

At this stage, the only concern from doctors is that Abdullah could injure another body part while trying to protect his foot. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Abdullah’s status could be largely up to the player. If he is mostly pain-free and confident in his condition, he could be playing again before long. In the meantime, Abdullah will ramp up his rehab to test the injury.

Late last week, it was reported that the Lions are still wrestling between Abdullah and linebacker Jon Bostic as the one player to designate for return. Bostic, who underwent foot surgery earlier this season, has been eligible to come off IR as soon as Week 8. He’s been running on the practice field lately, but the team has likely been stalling to leave open the possibility of an Abdullah comeback. Detroit could use the help at linebacker, but running back is arguably a greater need and Abdullah has the potential to make a larger impact. The team has turned to Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington, Zach Zenner, and Justin Forsett at different points this season but they have been unable to find consistent results from any of them.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: McCarthy, Abdullah, Browns

The Packers are struggling, and head coach Mike McCarthy has predictably come under fire as a result. But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that McCarthy is not likely to lose his job, and while there has been significant conversation about McCarthy’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers, La Canfora writes that the two men share a great deal of mutual respect and that Rodgers would not support a coaching change.

That does not mean, however, that the Packers will not shake things up elsewhere. Given the overall decline in talent on the roster, GM Ted Thompson is not immune to review, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers could also be coaching for his job over the second half of the season. Some team officials also believe that the offense has become stagnant and that the offensive coaching staff could use an overhaul. Further complicating the issue is that director of football operations Eliot Wolf, long considered to be the heir apparent to Thompson, could pursue outside options this offseason, as he remains one of the more sought-after young executives in the game and he may want to capitalize on that status in case the Packers should start to fade.

Now for some more notes from the league’s north divisions:

  • The Lions‘ running game could get a boost down the stretch, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Per Rapoport, Ameer Abdullah, who is currently on IR with a foot injury, will meet with Dr. Robert Anderson on Tuesday to see if he can begin practicing. There is a realistic chance that Abdullah could be active in three weeks.
  • The Lions are no lock to win the NFC North, but they are certainly looking like the favorites at this point in the season. However, if Detroit collapses and fails to win its first division title in 23 years, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press does not believe head coach Jim Caldwell would keep his job.
  • Although much has been made of the turmoil in the Browns‘ front office, cornerback Joe Haden does not believe those negative vibes have trickled down to the players themselves. Per Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network (Twitter links), Haden said that although he has been in locker rooms where the players have quit, the Browns’ current roster remains engaged. Haden believes head coach Hue Jackson is a big reason for that, as the players believe in him. Haden also says the team is generally too young to have developed the cynicism that a more veteran group might harbor.
  • Yesterday, we took a dive into the latest notes on the AFC North.