Cyrus Kouandjio

NFC Notes: Fairley, Packers, Lane, Lions

Nick Fairley‘s heart issue has stalled his career to the point the Saints are preparing for this season as if the recently re-signed defensive tackle won’t play, Larry Holder of NOLA.com reports. Last we heard, the 29-year-old defender was getting a third opinion on the condition. Fairley signed a four-year, $28MM deal to stay in New Orleans in March. But if he’s not going to play this season, Holder notes the Saints are going to be at a loss. They used 2016 fourth-rounder David Onyemata alongside Sheldon Rankins on the first-string defense during minicamp, but Holder notes the starting nose tackle will probably be Tyeler Davison, a 2015 fifth-rounder who started 15 games last season. Davison is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Here’s the latest from around the NFC.

  • Davante Adams has shot to the top of the Packers‘ 2018 UFA contingent after a breakout 2016 season, one that also includes Morgan Burnett, center Corey Linsley and guard Lane Taylor, Rob Reischel writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This could mean Randall Cobb faces a pivotal season, with Reischel noting the Packers could elect to prioritize an Adams deal and move on from Cobb despite his young age. The slot target will only be 27 this season, but Cobb recorded a modest (for him) 60-catch, 610-yard season. He’s signed through 2018 and has cap numbers of $12.6MM and $12.7MM this season and next, respectively.
  • The Seahawks have a pair of cornerbacks that have suffered severe injuries in recent years, but while DeShawn Shead rehabs, Jeremy Lane looks like the starter opposite Richard Sherman. Pete Carroll said Shead is recovering well from the ACL and meniscus tears sustained in January, but with the re-signed player unlikely to be ready for Week 1, the team may be turning to Lane. “He’s physically as fit as he’s been in a long time,” Carroll said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “Remember, he had a really difficult offseason a couple years back (following knee and arm injuries in Super Bowl XLIX) and it’s taken him almost a couple years to overcome all of that, and he’s back to full form.” The Seahawks drafted Shaquil Griffin in the third round and moved rookie sixth-rounder Mike Tyson from safety to corner, but those first-year talents look to enter camp as depth pieces behind Lane.
  • Once Taylor Decker suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him out up to six months, the Lions gave first-team left tackle reps to Joe Dahl. The second-year player worked as a guard in six games last season. But after the additions of Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio, Dahl seems on his way back to guard, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Neither Robinson nor Kouandjio participated in Detroit’s minicamp, but Jim Caldwell confirmed they will compete for the now-vacant left tackle job come training camp. A fifth-round pick last year, Dahl would then be in line to compete for a guard spot with Graham Glasgow and Laken Tomlinson opposite T.J. Lang.

Lions Acquire Greg Robinson, Sign Cyrus Kouandjio

The Lions have acquired offensive tackle Greg Robinson from the Rams for a sixth-round pick in 2018, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Additionally, Detroit has signed free agent offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter links).

Greg Robinson (vertical)

Both Robinson and Kouandjio will compete to start at left tackle for the Lions, head coach Jim Caldwell announced. The position became a concern for the Lions when stalwart Taylor Decker suffered a torn labrum during organized team activities, thereby creating an obvious need opposite big-money right tackle Ricky Wagner.

Like Decker, a first-round pick last year, both Robinson and Kouandjio were high selections in recent drafts. However, neither has established himself as a quality NFLer. Robinson disappointed in St. Louis and Los Angeles after going second overall in the 2014 draft, which led the Rams to decline his fifth-year option for 2018 before dealing him. Robinson does come with plenty of experience, having started in 42 of 46 appearances (including all 14 in 2016), though Pro Football Focus ranked him among the league’s worst tackles in each of his first three seasons. He’s due a $3.3MM salary as he enters the final year of his contract.

Kouandjio was in the same draft class as Robinson, and the second-rounder from Alabama is coming off a three-year stint in Buffalo that saw him appear in just 25 of a possible 48 games. He only started in seven of those contests, including a career-high five last year, when PFF placed him a solid 34th among 78 qualified tackles. Despite his recent output, the Bills waived Kouandjio in May after an odd off-field incident in April. The 23-year-old was found partially undressed in a field in Elma, N.Y., not far from the scene of a car accident and taken to a nearby hospital, though he wasn’t arrested.

To create roster space for its two newest players, Detroit waived long snapper Jimmy Landes and tackle Arturo Uzdavinis, per Tim Twentyman of the team’s website (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cyrus Kouandjio To Visit Lions

Free agent offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio announced Tuesday on Twitter that he’s flying to Detroit to visit the Lions, who could use another bookend in light of Taylor Decker‘s shoulder injury.

Cyrus Kouandjio (vertical)

The 6-foot-7, 323-pound Kouandjio hit the open market when the Bills cut him in late May, which came after a three-year stint in Buffalo that included mixed results on the field and an odd off-field incident in April. The 23-year-old was found partially undressed in a field in Elma, N.Y., not far from the scene of a car accident and taken to a nearby hospital. Kouandjio wasn’t arrested, though, and he noted in his tweet that he’s on his best behavior.

If he signs with the Lions, Kouandjio would give the team another option at either tackle position to help make up for the absence of Decker, who could miss a portion of the regular season. Kouandjio was a standout at Alabama and a second-round pick in 2014, but he only started in seven of 25 appearances with the Bills. In 12 games and a career-high seven starts last year, his performance ranked a respectable 34th among Pro Football Focus’ 78 qualified tackles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Sign WR Rod Streater

The Bills have signed wide receiver Rod Streater and tight end Wes Saxton, according to a team announcement. To make room, tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and quarterback Josh Woodrum have been released. The Bills cut Kouandjio with a non-football injury designation, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. "<strong

[RELATED: Why The Bills Should Sign TE Gary Barnidge]

Streater, 29, played in all 16 regular season games last season for the 49ers, catching 18 passes for 191 yards and two scores. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but he will add some depth to the team’s banged up receiver group. Star Sammy Watkins is still healing up after foot surgery and second-round rookie Zay Jones has been sidelined with a knee injury. As it stands, free agent additions Andre Holmes, Philly Brown, and Streater are the team’s top WRs in practice.

Kouandjio was involved in a bizarre incident with police in April. The lineman, 24 in July, was found partially undressed and in a field not far from the scene of a car accident. He was taken to a nearby hospital afterwards and that visit presumably included some psychiatric evaluation.

The University of Alabama product has appeared in 25 games for Buffalo since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft. Kouandjio has been a quality contributor in Buffalo and last season he outperformed name guys like Jake Matthews, Russell Okung, Doug Free, and Andrus Peat, according to Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bills, Browns, Patriots

The Bills will send representatives to Clemson to meet with quarterback Deshaun Watson on Friday, reports Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bills general manager Doug Whaley is supposedly “in love” with Watson, but there’s a belief that the team’s highest-graded QB prospect is North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said Thursday on NFL Network (via Conor Orr of NFL.com). The problem for Buffalo, if it looks to draft a first-round passer, is that Trubisky might not be on the board when it’s on the clock at No. 10. Cleveland, which owns the 12th pick, may be angling to move ahead of the Bills to ensure it grabs Trubisky.

More on Buffalo and two other AFC clubs:

  • Shortly after Cleveland acquired Brock Osweiler from Houston last month, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported the Browns were willing to eat around half of the quarterback’s $16MM base salary for 2017 in order to trade him. It turns out the exact number is $10MM, tweets La Canfora. It seems likely that the Browns will eventually cut Osweiler if they’re unable to trade him, but given that he’s still on the roster, both executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and head coach Hue Jackson have said that they expect him to compete for the team’s starting QB job. Of course, the Browns will probably add another signal-caller in the draft (be it Trubisky or someone else), perhaps lessening Osweiler’s chances of making the club.
  • The Patriots ventured to the University of Connecticut on Thursday for a meeting with safety Obi Melifonwu, according to Ryan Hannable of WEEI. New England’s not slated to pick until the third round, No. 72 overall, and Melifonwu should be long gone by then. However, trading cornerback Malcolm Butler to the Saints for the 32nd pick could put the Patriots in position to select Melifonwu.
  • Austin Knoblauch of NFL.com offers more details on a bizarre incident involving Bills offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio this week. Police in Elma, N.Y., responded to a 9:22 a.m. call on Wednesday regarding a suspicious man in a field, which turned out to be a partially undressed Kouandjio. Firefighters then had to administer first aid to Kouandjio for an undisclosed condition. And though Kouandjio screamed “Shoot me!,” he was cooperative with deputies and was not arrested. Kouandjio did go to Erie County Medical Center for further evaluation, however.

Bills’ Kouandjio Involved In Strange Incident

Bills offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio was involved in a bizarre incident with police earlier this week, according to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News. Details on the incident are sparse, at the moment, but the tackle was found “not fully clothed” and in a field not far from the scene of a car accident. Kouandjio, who had climbed over an electric fence, screamed “Shoot me!” when approached by police. Cyrus Kouandjio (vertical)

We are aware of the matter involving Cyrus and are carefully monitoring his condition and gathering more information,” the Bills said in a statement. “We don’t have all of the details, so we won’t have any further comment at this time.”

Police suspect that Kouandjio pulled off of Route 400 and ran when he saw police lights. His exact role in the accident is not clear and there’s also no word on any potential mind-altering substances being involved. One has to presume that Kouandjio has undergone psychiatric evaluation and drug testing since the incident on Tuesday.

Kouandjio, 24 in July, has appeared in 25 games for Buffalo since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft. The DeMatha Catholic High School and University of Alabama product has been a solid contributor for the Bills, earning a higher score from Pro Football Focus last season than guys like Jake Matthews, Russell Okung, Doug Free, Andrus Peat, and other notables.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jaguars, Bills, Dolphins

Although quarterback Blake Bortles has been a disappointment since the Jaguars drafted him third overall in 2014, the organization remains bullish on the soon-to-be 25-year-old. “I’ve said this time and time again: ‘I think we can win a lot of games with Blake; I think we can win a Super Bowl with Blake,” general manager Dave Caldwell told John Oehser of the team’s website. “I think he needs to improve and I think we need to improve around him, too, in order for that to happen.” The Jags amassed just three wins this season with Bortles, who went backward after a promising 2015. Bortles’ interception total decreased from 18 to 16, but he threw 12 fewer touchdowns than his 35-score 2015 and averaged a paltry 6.2 yards per attempt after posting a 7.3 YPA the previous year.

More on Bortles-led Jacksonville and a couple of its conference rivals:

  • Whether pending free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore will return to the Bills in 2017 is “all up to them,” the five-year veteran told Conor Orr of NFL.com. “They seem like they’re going to turn it around out there but, like I said, I don’t know what’s going to happen. They got a decision to make,” said Gilmore, who has spoken on the phone with two prominent members of the Bills’ new staff in head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Gilmore’s overall performance declined in 2016, as he fell from Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked corner in 2015 to No. 61, but he did intercept a career-high five passes across 15 starts. While this year’s free agent class could feature other No. 1-caliber corners like A.J. Bouye and Trumaine Johnson, Gilmore is happy to measure his résumé against theirs. “I know the other guys (cornerbacks on the market). But I did it for five years at a high level. I like myself,” he declared.
  • The Dolphins made a key trade with the Eagles last March to acquire two defenders – cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso – as well as the 13th pick in the draft (offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil) for No. 8. Now, Miami is once again aiming to go the trade route to bolster its roster, executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum informed Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “We’re going to look at every avenue to improve the team. That could mean trades that start around the combine, and then we’ll get into free agency,” Tannenbaum said. “Our focus philosophically is we’re going to try to keep our own [free agents] as best we can. But [plan to] be opportunistic via free agency or trades, and draft as well as we can.”
  • Bills offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio suffered an injury to his hip thanks to a fall at home and had to undergo surgery Wednesday, the team announced. The expectation is that Kouandjio will be ready for training camp. The 2014 second-round pick from Alabama appeared in 12 games and started five in Year 3 of his pro career.
  • The Jaguars have hired Mark Collins as their new linebackers coach, tweets Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. Collins spent the previous two seasons coaching the Jets’ outside linebackers.

AFC Rumors: Broncos, Ravens, Bills

Facing a suddenly thin defensive end situation, with Derek Wolfe‘s recent PEDs suspension and Malik Jackson‘s calf strain, the Broncos are in need of some good news on their line.

They’ll have to settle for Antonio Smith being able to practice and hoping his being investigated in a child sex-abuse complaint doesn’t deter his time in Denver. The Broncos previously excused him from OTAs in late May once word of this allegation emerged.

I have faith in the end it’s going to be all right,” Smith told Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press. “I love football. I love my teammates more than I love the game. To be away from them was definitely a hard situation.”

GM John Elway permitted the 33-year-old end who he signed as a depth piece earlier this offseason to practice since he hasn’t been arrested or charged.

Here’s some more news out of Denver and as well as the Broncos’ AFC brethren’s training camps.

  • A second consecutive preseason and third straight season for Broncos wideout Kyle Williams looks to have been marred by a severe injury, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. Williams, who suffered his previous injuries with the 49ers and Chiefs, confirmed on his Instagram page a knee injury sustained Saturday will end his 2015 season. The Broncos signed Williams to a futures contract in Dec. 2014 despite his missing the last six games of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 campaign with ACL and shoulder maladies. Most known for the fumble that propelled the Giants into the Super Bowl past the 49ers in overtime of the 2011 NFC championship game, the 27-year-old Williams has to be considered questionable at best to resume his career.
  • 2014 Bills second-rounder Cyrus Kouandjio‘s second chance appears to still be in full bloom, with Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News reporting the Bills’ right tackle job is his to lose despite a slow rookie year. Per Dunne, when Rex Ryan‘s staff arrived, they cleaned the slate of the former Alabama starter. This could mean a demotion for 16-game starter Seantrel Henderson, a 2014 seventh-rounder. “That absolutely could be his job,” Ryan said of Kouandjio. “That’s competition. Seantrel, I hope will feel differently. He’s going to think ‘I’m going to battle to win that job.’ But right now, he’s running with the 1’s so look at it any way you want.”
  • Scott Cohen will join the Ravens as a consultant after the Buccaneers fired him earlier this year, reports Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Cohen previously worked as Mike Tannenbaum‘s assistant GM for five years with the Jets.

AFC East Notes: Smith, Coples, Kouandijo

Jets second-year quarterback Geno Smith has received 74 percent of the snaps through two days of camp, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. However, GM John Idzik claims the “competition” isn’t tilted: “There will be a little bit of fluctuation in reps. Going into camp, we feel like we’re going to give the lion’s share to Geno and we’ll see how he responds.”

Here’s some more AFC East reading:

  • Jets 2012 first-round defensive lineman Quinton Coples hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he dedicated himself in the offseason, writes Costello in the New York Post. Coples reported to camp at 270 pounds (20 pounds lighter) and approximately nine percent body fat.
  • Sammy Watkins has “stolen the show” early in Bills camp, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak, who provides an update on the team’s rookies. As for second-rounder Cyrus Kouandijo, “He’s the heir apparent at right tackle but that transition might not take place until next season,” says Rodak.
  • Kamaal McIlwain has impressed early in Bills camp, according to WGR 590’s Joe Buscaglia, who says, McIlwain could be in the mix for the final cornerback spot. Buscaglia also noted the team is making an effort to train linebackers to learn each of the three positions. Accordingly, Keith Rivers, Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown and Stevenson Sylvester have rotated with the first team, flanking Brandon Spikes in the middle.
  • The Patriots have ongoing competitions for the center and right guard jobs, according to Boston.com’s Ben Volin. Additionally, “There’s been a lot of talk about the competition between WRs Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce for a roster spot,” says Volin, “and if that is indeed the case, Thompkins appears to be ahead by a sizable margin right now.”
  • Not surprisingly, the new-look Dolphins offensive line is enduring early growing pains as the new starters work to develop chemistry, but Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel says the remodeled blocking unit should still be held to a high standard: “For those creating built-in excuses for the Dolphins’ offensive line, concerned that they’ll hold Miami’s offense back, keep in mind that this present unit collectively has 287 regular-season NFL starts heading into September.” Kelly cites the Bears, whose offensive line was atrocious in 2012 before they turned over four starters and improved drastically last season.

AFC East Notes: Williams, Thomas, Johnson, Kelly

Bills newcomer Mike Williams sat out portions of minicamp to rest his troubled hamstring, but the veteran wideout has no worries heading into training camp.

“I’m fully ready to go,” Williams told Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News. “I trained this whole offseason. There was really no offseason for me. I kinda had to get my leg better. I had to get back to feeling like Mike again, like my mom always tells me. Today running that conditioning test made me feel like I was Mike again.

“At the start of camp, just did the conditioning test and I feel real good. I feel great. I feel I got an A-plus, if there was a grade for it. I feel I’m ready to go.”

Williams finished 2013 with 22 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns – all career lows. The Buccaneers traded the wideout to the Bills in early April for a sixth-round pick.

Let’s look at some more notes from the AFC East…