Braden Smith

South Rumors: Falcons, Buccaneers, Morgan

The Falcons will be looking for a new kicker for temporary purposes. Matt Bryant will miss Atlanta’s Week 7 Monday night game, Dan Quinn said. The longtime Falcons kicker is dealing with a strained hamstring, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, who adds Giorgio Tavecchio is among the names the Falcons are considering as a replacement. Tavecchio was briefly affiliated with the Falcons earlier this year, but Bryant’s kicked in all six Falcon games in his 10th season with the franchise. He hasn’t missed a game since he was limited to 11 appearances in 2015. Tavecchio will be among “a number of kickers” considered during the lead-up to the Falcons’ home Monday-nighter against the Giants.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions, continuing on the Atlanta injury front:

  • Another week of recovery will likely be required for Devonta Freeman, per McClure. The Falcons’ starting running back is has dealt with knee and foot trouble and now has a groin issue to overcome. Atlanta’s gotten by with Tevin Coleman and newcomer Ito Smith in the backfield.
  • Ali Marpet became the latest Buccaneers starter to sign a lucrative extension, joining Mike Evans and Cameron Brate in doing so this year. More re-ups could be on track. Kwon Alexander and the Bucs are still talking an extension, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While Stroud writes it’s uncertain if the Bucs want to pay Alexander like a top-tier linebacker — they have Lavonte David on the books at $10MM per year — he’s on the radar. As is fourth-year left tackle Donovan Smith, who’s in a contract year. Despite rarely being viewed as a productive player by Pro Football Focus, Smith is well thought of among Bucs brass, per Stroud. Adam Humphries is another player the Bucs would like to retain, though they have a crowded receiver room. Chris Godwin‘s emerged as Tampa Bay’s No. 3 man and may be Evans’ top complement if DeSean Jackson ($10MM non-guaranteed salary in 2019) isn’t back next year. Humphries’ contract expires after this season.
  • Derrick Morgan will miss a few weeks because of a shoulder injury, Mike Vrabel said. A ninth-year player who dealt with a knee injury during the preseason, Morgan has played in all six Titans games this year and has only missed more than two games in a season once in the past eight years. Harold Landry will likely start opposite Brian Orakpo in the meantime.
  • Stationed on the Texans‘ PUP list, D’Onta Foreman can return to practice this week but probably won’t, per Bill O’Brien (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, on Twitter). Foreman’s been out since late last season because of an Achilles’ tendon tear.
  • Braden Smith appears to have solidified himself as the Colts‘ right tackle. Indianapolis went through several players in hopes of identifying a candidate, but Frank Reich said Monday (via ESPN.com’s Mike Wells, on Twitter) this job will be Smith’s to lose. Smith’s started three games for the Colts this season.
  • Former Lions, Patriots and Bengals linebacker Marquis Flowers worked out for the Texans on Monday, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com tweets. The Lions cut Flowers last week. He played in 16 games for the Bengals in 2015 and ’16 and suited up for all 19 of the Patriots’ games last year.

Extra Points: Colts, Seahawks, Marshall, Jets, Vikings

Aside from Anthony Castonzo and Ryan Kelly, the Colts will deploy a retooled offensive line this season. They added some new parts by way of draft picks and free agents but are attempting an experiment at right tackle. Second-round guard Braden Smith has worked at right tackle this week, Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star notes.

This may spell trouble for Austin Howard’s chances of making the roster, with Keefer adding Indy brass is “clearly” not high on the veteran signing right now. The Colts are as of now slotting Matt Slauson at right guard, and with Smith previously serving as the free agent addition’s backup there, the team is trying him out on the outside — where less competition appears to exist.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Brandon Marshall’s played with more quarterbacks than most wide receivers of his caliber have, having now been on six teams. He’s not a lock to catch passes from Russell Wilson this season, but the 34-year-old wideout’s chances of making the Seahawks’ 53-man roster may be improving. Marshall and Wilson have developed a solid rapport over the past two weeks, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com writes. Marshall was only given $90K guaranteed and missed minicamp because of a hamstring injury, this coming after extensive rehab from ankle surgery. With Doug Baldwin out for the remainder of the preseason, Marshall’s seen plenty of reps with Seattle’s first-stringers, alongside Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown, per Henderson.
  • The Jets will have to find a new ace contract negotiator. Jets director of football administration Jackie Davidson is leaving the franchise, Brian Costello of the New York Post reports (on Twitter). Davidson negotiated contracts for the Jets. However, the team looks to have a replacement lined up. David Socie is set to replace Davidson, Costello adds. Socie worked under previous Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, per Costello (on Twitter), and also spent time at the league office.
  • One of the Vikings’ backups has encountered some off-the-field trouble. Anthony Barr’s reserve option, Antwione Williams, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor careless-driving charge, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Williams was arrested in May in Edina, Minn., on suspicion of drunken driving. He spent last season on the Vikings’ practice squad and signed a reserve/futures deal in January.

South Rumors: Conklin, Colts, Panthers

As expected, the Titans placed Jack Conklin on the PUP list at the outset of training camp. The third-year right tackle tore an ACL in Tennessee’s divisional-round loss to New England in mid-January. Given that barely six months have passed, this could be expected. Mike Vrabel said this was a possibility as his team concluded minicamp, and Conklin confirmed this was a methodical process.

Here’s the latest from the Titans, along with some of their top rivals.

  • Tennessee also placed tight end Phillip Supernaw on the PUP list while also slotting second-round pick Rashaan Evans and free agent wideout addition Michael Campanaro on the non-football illness list. The Titans’ rookies and quarterbacks opened camp Sunday, and each of these players is eligible to be reinstated for full work by the time full practices begin Thursday.
  • Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd wound up on the reserve/did not report list.
  • The Colts added multiple veterans up front this offseason, with Matt Slauson and Austin Howard now in the mix for starting roles as stopgaps. Indianapolis boasts some depth at guard now with Slauson, the recently re-signed Jack Mewhort and No. 6 overall pick Quenton Nelson on the roster. Mewhort’s re-up and the Slauson addition, though, did not deter the Colts from selecting Braden Smith in the second round. The franchise’s goal is for Smith, an Auburn alum, to be the long-term starter at right guard opposite Nelson, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star notes. Though, Holder cautions his development figures to take longer than Nelson’s. Once entrenched as a Colts guard starter and a candidate for a long-term extension, Mewhort suffered significant injury setbacks in 2016 and ’17 to limit him to a one-year, $1.5MM deal with just $300K guaranteed. Slauson is signed for one year and $2.5MM. One member of this tandem could begin the season in an unfamiliar backup role.
  • It looks like Denico Autry has a path toward either a full-time starting role or a prominent backup job with the Colts. Chris Ballard raved about the defensive end/tackle’s skill set this weekend. “Let me tell you the one you need to watch: It’s Autry,” Ballard said. “Denico Autry is legitimate. He’s long; he’s strong; he’s passionate. I am really excited to watch him play. He’s made up of all the right stuff.” Autry (career-high five sacks last season) served as a rotational player with the Raiders, lining up as an end and a tackle during his four-year run in Oakland.
  • A host of players are vying to replace Andrew Norwell on the Panthers‘ starting line. Amini Silatolu, Taylor Moton and former Viking Jeremiah Sirles are among them, with Jordan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer noting Ron Rivera has expressed optimism about the prospect Silatolu can man the first-string post opposite Trai Turner. Silatolu started 15 Panthers games as a rookie in 2012 but hasn’t been a first-stringer on more than three occasions in a season since 2014. Rodrigue adds that Moton may be the top challenger but may also be used as a tackle and be in line to succeed Daryl Williams in the event he follows Norwell’s path as a UFA defection in 2019.

Colts Sign Second-Round Pick Braden Smith

The Colts have signed second round pick Braden Smith, according to a team announcement. With that signing, the Colts have now formally inked ten of their eleven draft picks. 

Smith, a 6’6″ guard, was taken with the No. 37 overall pick. The Auburn product earned All-America honors in each of his final two seasons and won the 2017 SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the conference’s best blocker.

Smith projects to start at right guard on the Colts’ new look offensive line. Fellow rookie Quenton Nelson will start at left guard and free agent Austin Howard projects to start at right tackle with holdovers Anthony Castonzo (left tackle) and Ryan Kelly (center) rounding out the front five.

Second round pick Darius Leonard stands as the Colts’ last straggler in this year’s class. Although the deal is taking a while, Stephen Holder of the Indy Star (on Twitter) has not received word of any major holdup. Leonard and 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis stand as the final two unsigned second-round picks in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.