Antone Smith

Two Bucs Suffer Season-Ending Injuries

Not only did the Buccaneers drop a crucial NFC South matchup to the Falcons on Thursday, but they also lost running back Antone Smith and defensive end Howard Jones to season-ending knee injuries, head coach Dirk Koetter announced Friday (Twitter link via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times).

Antone Smith (featured)

Smith, who signed with the injury-ravaged Buccaneers on Oct. 17, is the latest of their rushers to land on the shelf this year. Starter Doug Martin hasn’t played since Week 2 because of hamstring troubles; his primary complement, Charles Sims, went on injured reserve last month – shortly before Jones’ signing – with a knee issue; and Jacquizz Rodgers sat out Tampa Bay’s 43-28 defeat against Atlanta with a sprained ankle.

With their top three options down, the Bucs turned to Peyton Barber and Smith, who combined for 56 yards on 16 carries. Smith, formerly with the Falcons and Bears, saw action in three games this season and picked up 47 yards on 10 rushes.

Jones, 26, contributed solid production as a first-year player in 2015, racking up 43 tackles and five sacks in 12 appearances (five starts). His output was minimal this year, though, partly because he participated in just 15.8 of the Buccaneers’ defensive snaps. Jones totaled only three tackles in eight games, but he did factor in heavily on special teams with a snap percentage of 50.5.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers To Sign RB Antone Smith

The Buccaneers have agreed to sign running back Antone Smith, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Smith, an FSU product, played under coach Dirk Koetter in Atlanta. Antone Smith (vertical)

Smith could help fill the gap after running back Charles Sims was placed on IR earlier this month. Alternatively, this could be an indication that Doug Martin will be out for an extended period of time. Martin went down with a hamstring injury last month and it was initially reported that he would miss “about three weeks.” Now, almost four weeks later, Martin has yet to return to the field.

The injuries to the Bucs’ top two runners have thrust another former Atlanta back – Jacquizz Rodgers – into a starting role. Now, Smith will be there in support along with undrafted free agent Peyton Barber. Russell Hansbrough, who was the team’s No. 3 RB this weekend, has been waived (Twitter link via Auman).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Work Out Jacquizz Rodgers

The Buccaneers worked out a handful of players today, including veteran running back Jacquizz Rodgers, according to Jenna Laine and Field Yates of ESPN.com. Tampa Bay also worked former collegiate QB Blake Sims (as a running back) and running back Antone Smith, per the ESPN scribes. Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link) reports that the Bucs looked at former Bengals linebacker P.J. Dawson, while Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links) says Tampa auditioned receivers DeAndrew White and Mekale McKay.Jacquizz Rodgers (Vertical)

[RELATED: Buccaneers Sign Cecil Shorts]

Rodgers, 26, is typically regarded as a strong pass protector (and therefore a solid third down back), and could provide some depth behind Doug Martin and Charles Sims, and act as an upgrade on Mike James. Fellow running back Smith could also help in that regard, but he’s four years older than Rodgers. Both, however, offer familiarity with Tampa head coach Dirk Koetter, as each played in Koetter’s Falcons offense.

Dawson, a third-round pick in the 2015 draft, was surprisingly waived by Cincinnati over the weekend, and recent reports have indicated that Bengals coaches found him to be unreliable on the field. Still, he offers talent, and like the two running backs, Dawson has ties to the Buccaneers’ coaching staff. New Tampa Bay defensive line coach Jay Hayes coached the same position group in Cincinnati, and though he didn’t directly oversee Dawson, Hayes can likely vouch for TCU alum’s ability.

The trio of McKay, Sims, and White, meanwhile, has never taken a snap in the NFL. White originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent earlier this year, but was waived over the weekend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Cut Jace Amaro, Others

The Jets are working their way down to 53. Here are the cuts so far: Todd Bowles

Reilly, a seventh-round pick in 2014, played in 29 games for the Jets over the past two seasons. He finished the 2015 campaign with 16 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. As Slater notes on Twitter, the linebacker was waived with an injury designation. The 28-year-old could land on the injured reserve, but the reporter doesn’t believe the injury to be that serious.

There was a chance that Morris could carve out a role among the Jets’ defensive backs. However, the three-year veteran couldn’t do enough to beat out Dexter McDougle or Kevin Short. Meanwhile, there was some optimism that former CFL linebacker Freddie Bishop could establish himself, but the team’s linebacker depth proved to be too much to overcome.

On the offensive side of the ball, Sudfeld’s tenure in New York appears to be over. The 27-year-old collected only ten catches for 148 yards over the past two seasons.

In related news, the Jets may be making an addition to the roster before the weekend is through. Former San Francisco guard Ian Silberman worked out for the Jets on Friday, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.

(Sheldon Richardson does not currently count against the 53-man roster due to his season-opening suspension)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Place Pierce On IR, Sign Antone Smith

The Jets placed running back Bernard Pierce on IR and signed running back Antone Smith, the team announced. Bernard Pierce (vertical)

Pierce was signed by the Jets late last month as running back depth, but his hamstring injury kept him from getting on the field and showing what he can do. The 25-year-old appeared in seven games with the Jaguars in 2015 and totaled just six carries for 11 yards. He spent the first three seasons of his career with the Ravens after they used a 2012 third-round pick on him, and he showed significant promise as a rookie. That year, the ex-Temple Owl averaged 4.9 yards per rush on 108 attempts. Pierce added a combined 802 rushing yards the next two seasons in Baltimore, but on a meager 3.3 yards per carry. Had he made the Jets’ roster, Pierce would have had to serve a suspension for the first two weeks of the regular season.

Smith was a big-play specialist for the Falcons in 2013 and 2014, racking up an incredible 289 rushing yards on just 28 carries (10.3 yards per attempt), adding another 232 yards through the air on 15 receptions. Smith found paydirt seven times on his 43 touches. Last year, he appeared in five games for the Bears but recorded only one carry.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/22/15

Tuesdays are typically busy days for roster changes during the NFL regular season, and even with the holidays around the corner, this week is no different. Here are the latest minor transactions from around the league:

  • The Packers announced that they’ve placed long snapper Brett Goode on injured reserve, signing fellow snapper Rick Lovato to take his place. Per Wes Hodkiewicz of PackersNews.com (Twitter link), Goode tore his ACL during Sunday’s game against the Raiders.
  • The Bears announced (via Twitter) that they’ve promoted defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith from the practice squad, waiving running back Antone Smith to create a roster spot. D’Anthony has spent time with the Jaguars, Lions, and Seahawks, while Antone had seen just one carry for Chicago this year.
  • With Marcus Mariota ailing, the Titans have signed quarterback Alex Tanney off the Colts’ practice squad, reports Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com (Twitter link). Tanney, known for his “trick-shot” Youtube videos, will back up Zach Mettenberger on Sunday. Tennessee placed defensive tackle Mike Martin on injured reserve to create a roster spot.

Earlier updates:

  • The 49ers have signed running back DuJuan Harris from off the Ravens‘ practice squad, cutting running back Travaris Cadet to make room, tweets Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com noted this afternoon (via Twitter) that the knee injury sustained by Shaun Draughn didn’t appear to be serious, but the club wanted to add some insurance just in case. San Francisco may get some added insurance in the form of Mike Davis, who is currently on the IR-DTR list, and will begin practicing this week, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link).
  • After somehow playing through a fractured fibula for three quarters on Sunday, safety David Bruton will head to injured reserve, officially ending his season, the Broncos confirmed today in a press release. Safety Shaun Prater will take the open spot on the roster, with Bruton expected to require four to six weeks to recover from his injury.
  • As expected, the Browns formally placed starting right guard John Greco on injured reserve today, per a team release. Cleveland has re-signed wide receiver Darius Jennings to the roster, after waiving him last week.
  • The Buccaneers have filled the opening on their 53-man roster by promoting wide receiver Evan Spencer from their practice squad, the team announced today in a press release. Spencer was selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft by Washington.
  • The Bills are elevating wide receiver Walter Powell to their active roster from the practice squad, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Powell figures to replace Robert Woods, who is expected to land on IR.
  • Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock is headed to the injured reserve list, reports Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. Whitlock suffered a knee injury that isn’t expected to be a long-term issue, but it will keep him sidelined for the club’s last couple games of the season.

Bears Sign Antone Smith, Place Jacquizz Rodgers On IR

A pair of former Falcons running backs were involved in two Bears transactions today. According to the team (Twitter links), Chicago has placed Jacquizz Rodgers on injured reserve due to a broken arm, with veteran free agent Antone Smith joining the Bears’ roster to fill the open spot.

After spending his first four NFL seasons in Atlanta, generally serving as the team’s No. 2 running back, Rodgers signed with the Bears this offseason. However, he got off to a slow start, averaging a career-low 2.9 yards per carry in the early going, and now will be sidelined for the rest of the year with his arm injury.

To replace Rodgers, the Bears added another former Atlanta running back — Smith was a big-play specialist for the Falcons over the last two seasons, racking up an incredible 289 rushing yards on just 28 carries (10.3 yards per attempt), adding another 232 yards through the air on 15 receptions. Smith found paydirt seven times on his 43 touches.

Smith and the Falcons worked out an injury settlement in September after he was cut by the club, allowing him to reach free agency and sign elsewhere.

NFC South Notes: Hicks, Saints, Jordan

This week, the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees agreed to a contract restructuring which gave the club a little bit more breathing room in 2015. New Orleans now has $2.6MM in additional cap room this season, but Brees’ cap hit for 2016 has been raised to an eye-popping $30MM, the highest in the NFL. Obviously, Brees is very unlikely to play out ’16 at that rate. The Saints will have to figure out a course of action with the veteran and that could mean an extension or a pay cut, but a trade or release might also be in play.

Here’s more out of the NFC South..

  • The Saints‘ trade of Akiem Hicks another blow to the team’s dismal scouting record, Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune writes. Hicks is the third draft pick the Saints have traded in the past seven months, joining former core players Jimmy Graham (Seahawks) and Kenny Stills (Dolphins). Hicks has been phased out of the Saints’ defensive plans and in a vacuum, the trade doesn’t come as a great shock. However, Duncan finds it disappointing that the Saints have traded a player who was slated to be a big part of the front seven last summer.
  • The New Orleans Police Department has closed its investigation into an incident at a night club involving Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan without bringing charges, as Matt Sledge of The Advocate writes. The local district attorney could still decide to take the case to a grand jury, however.
  • Running back Antone Smith, who reached an injury settlement with the Falcons at the final roster cutdown, has now been given the green light to resume football activities and sign with a team, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Falcons Mince Roster Down To 52 Players

The Falcons are among the final teams to unveil their regular-season roster, and they did so by leaving one spot open.

Atlanta’s roster now sits at 52 players, one below the limit of 53, according to AtlantaFalcons.com.

The team parted ways with Antone Smith, who reached an injury settlement with the team. Out since the Falcons’ preseason opener with a hamstring injury, the 29-year-old backup did not suit up for the team again and will now avoid injured reserve due to this settlement.

Also rehabbing from a broken leg sustained last November, Smith signed a one-year, $1.4MM deal in March to stay in Atlanta.

Injury-plagued veteran tight end Tony Moeaki also couldn’t make the roster. The 28-year-old spent last season with the Seahawks before signing on with the Falcons in March. Atlanta will go with Jacob Tamme and Levine Toilolo as its top two tight ends.

The Falcons placed Jon Asamoah, fullback Collin Mooney and cornerback Travis Howard on injured reserve. Asamoah, a high-priced signing in 2014, suffered a hip injury during preseason workouts.

Those also cut are as follows:

  • LB Derek Akunne
  • OL Pierce Burton
  • CB Akeem King
  • OL Eric Lefeld
  • LB Stansly Maponga
  • NT Joey Mbu
  • WR Carlton Mitchell
  • OL Adam Replogle (waived/injured)
  • RB Jerome Smith
  • TE D.J. Tialavea
  • LB Tyler Starr

Falcons, Antone Smith Working On Injury Settlement

The Falcons are working on an injury settlement with running back Antone Smith, reports Zach Klein of WSB (ABC-TV) in Atlanta (via Twitter). If the sides can’t come to an agreement, Smith will be placed on the injured reserve.

The former undrafted rookie out of Florida State has bounced around a bit since entering the league in 2009, spending time with the Lions, Vikings, Texans and Falcons. The 29-year-old has 29 career carries for 286 yards and four touchdowns. He also has 15 receptions for 232 yards and three scores.

The speedy back inked a one-year, $1.4MM deal with Atlanta back in March. He was expected to contribute this season with the Falcons, but a hamstring injury limited him throughout the preseason. In addition to Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, the Falcons also have running backs Terron Ward and Jerome Smith under contract.