Chad Thomas

Extra Points: Foles, Driskel, Butt, Cardinals

After a rough year with the 2015 Rams, Nick Foles nearly retired. That turned out to provide astonishing benefit to the Eagles, who won Super Bowl LII thanks largely to Foles’ virtuoso performance. But going into the 2017 season, Foles had retirement on his mind again. Injuries at the time prompted Foles to inform at least one Eagles teammate, Brandon Graham, he planned to retire at season’s end (video link via ESPN.com’s Tim McManus). Fortunes changed for the 30-year-old passer, who piloted four playoff wins since considering another early NFL exit. The Jaguars guaranteed him $50MM in March on a four-year, $88MM contract. This will be Foles’ eighth NFL season.

Ahead of preseason Week 2, here is the NFL’s latest:

  • Jeff Driskel is not a lock to make the Bengals‘ 53-man roster, with fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley progressing toward the QB2 role. On Tuesday, the team experimented with its 2018 backup as a wide receiver, Jay Morrison of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Driskel would still prefer to play quarterback, but Finley will work with Cincinnati’s second-stringers in the team’s second preseason game. Zac Taylor approached Driskel on Tuesday about taking reps at receiver, per Morrison. Driskel played quarterback at Florida and Louisiana Tech; he was also a late-round Red Sox draft pick in 2013. He rushed for 130 yards last season (5.2 per scramble).
  • Attempting to return to the Broncos‘ 53-man roster after a third ACL tear, Jake Butt spent most of camp sidelined because of another setback. But he made it back to 11-on-11 drills Tuesday, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Despite Austin Fort‘s season-ending injury, the Broncos still have three other tight ends — Noah Fant, Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli. But the latter, a 2018 fifth-rounder who missed all of last season, worked as an H-back/fullback on Tuesday. Vic Fangio said Fumagalli could fit in there while Andy Janovich recovers from a pectoral injury. This would be a way for the Broncos to roster four tight ends.
  • Despite A.Q. Shipley and Mason Cole listed as co-starters at center on the Cardinals‘ depth chart, the former is expected to earn his job back. The 33-year-old is a “virtual lock” to be Arizona’s first-string snapper in Week 1, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. Cole has also worked at guard, pointing to an interior swing role for the team’s 2018 starting center. Shipley, the Cards’ center starter from 2015-17, missed all of last season due to an ACL tear but was given a one-year, $1.6MM extension during his recovery.
  • Browns defensive end Chad Thomas dodged a scare in a recent practice. The second-year defender was carted off the Berea, Ohio, practice field Monday and hospitalized. But the Miami product was quickly released and diagnosed with a neck sprain.
  • Buccaneers wide receiver Bryant Mitchell was not as fortunate. He suffered a torn left Achilles’ tendon in the team’s preseason opener, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. A three-year Edmonton Eskimo, who posted 867 receiving yards in 2018, Mitchell caught on with the Bucs in May.

AFC North Notes: Josh Johnson, Ravens, Kareem Hunt

With the news that Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin would miss time with a fractured bone on his thumb, the team worked out free agent quarterback Josh Johnson, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted.

A journeyman signal-caller over the last decade, Johnson has suited up in the regular season with five teams — Buccaneers, Browns, Bengals, 49ers and Redskins — but has been a part of numerous others. He received an extended look under center with Washington in 2018, when he started three games and threw for 590 yards and three touchdowns.

A mobile QB, Johnson fits Baltimore’s run-heavy attack and has worked under Harbaugh in the past. Johnson reportedly had ankle surgery in March, so assuming he receives a clean bill of health during his workout, the veteran makes plenty of sense to work under second-year signal-caller Lamar Jackson.

Here’s more from around the AFC North:

  • Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam addressed the media about Kareem Hunt, stating that talks are still ongoing with the league and players association regarding the team’s attempt to have Hunt remain with the team through the upcoming eight-game suspension, the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich tweeted, Dee Haslam also noted Hunt has to work really hard to be a part of the Browns and that it’s up to him, Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot tweeted.
  • Sticking in Cleveland, second-year defensive end Chad Thomas gave the middle finger to a fan who heckled Thomas to hustle on Sunday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Coach Freddie Kitchens addressed the incident, saying that if the two of them had a conversation it would stay between them. “Of course, Chad Thomas, as you guys see, he is very emotional, a passionate guy. I want those guys to play with passion, but he is also a young guy so he has to understand and develop a sense of when to move on. I think he will learn.” Since it was not done during a game, the Browns instead of the NFL will handle any type of punishment.
  • Steelers safety Sean Davis suffered a finger injury that could possibly be a dislocation, coach Mike Tomlin said [Tweet via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler]. Davis has started 31 of a possible 32 games the past two seasons in Pittsburgh, registering four interceptions and 15 pass breakups.

Draft Pick Signings: 5/22/18

Here are Tuesday’s draft pick signings:

  • Third-round tackle Chukwuma Okorafor (pick No. 92) signed his four-year Steelers contract. Out of Western Michigan, Okorafor could be in line for a swing role this season. And Chris Hubbard showed how valuable that could be, with Marcus Gilbert having struggled with injuries and a suspension in recent years.
  • The Browns followed suit by inking third-round defensive lineman Chad Thomas (pick No. 67 out of Miami) and fourth-round wideout Antonio Callaway (No. 105), Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets. A Florida product, Calloway has already been mentioned as a player who could put pressure on 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman.

Draft Rumors: Ravens, Seahawks, 49ers, Pats

Let’s dive into some last-minute draft rumors as we anticipate the start of the first round…

  • Should the Ravens go on the clock and Mike McGlinchey is off the board, it looks like they will strongly consider UCLA’s Kolton Miller. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets the Ravens are focused on Miller as a McGlinchey contingency plan at No. 16. These two are viewed by many as the top tackles in this year’s draft. Although Baltimore needs a right tackle after cutting Austin Howard, this serves as one of the possible Lamar Jackson destinations. Assuming the top four QB prospects are gone by this point in the draft, it could open up the trade market for the picks in the latter teens with the 2016 Heisman winner still available.
  • Albert Breer of SI.com writes that there are several teams interested in moving down, including the 49ers (No. 9), Seahawks (No. 18), Lions (No. 20), Titans (No. 25), and Eagles (No. 32). Seattle would have particular interest in trading their pick if safety Derwin James or any of the top pass-rushers are off the board. Meanwhile, Breer notes that San Francisco could benefit if a quarterback-needy team wants to trade up.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that he keeps hearing Miami defensive lineman Chad Thomas being connected to the Patriots. Thomas didn’t earn a spot on NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s top-50 list, and he’s ultimately projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick. The senior was plenty productive in 2017, compiling 41 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.