Davante Adams

North Notes: Packers, Q. Diggs, Conner

We heard last month that the Packers would be going “back to Page 1” of their playbook, but as Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal writes, Green Bay is not going to be making any wholesale changes to its offense. In light of all of the new voices on the offensive side of the ball this year — Joe Philbin is back as OC, Frank Cignetti Jr. is in as quarterbacks coach, and there are several other staff changes besides — it made sense for all involved to thoroughly review the team’s play design and philosophy. But as Philbin said, “It’s been a process of refining, enhancing, tweaking, as opposed to, ‘Yeah we scrubbed it down.’ Yes, we went page by page. (But) we’re not starting from scratch here. These players in that locker room, they’ve done some great things.” 

Philbin, of course, is primarily referring to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers indicated that verbiage has changed — and Philbin acknowledged that such changes were made in order to streamline the playcalling — and that has created something of a learning curve. But passing game Jim Hostler said that the goal is for the offense to look the same as it always has with Rodgers under center, even if there are some refinements and enhancements here and there.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Opposing defenses were already treating Packers WR Davante Adams as the team’s No. 1 wideout last season, so the departure of Jordy Nelson will not represent much of a change in that regard, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. But Green Bay has not (yet) signed a veteran wideout to replace Nelson, so Adams will need to take on a more active role in terms of leadership. The Packers drafted three receivers this year — one each in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds — and return 24-year-old Geronimo Allison as the presumed No. 3 WR on the depth chart, so Adams is suddenly the second-oldest player in the wide receiver room. He was not present for the start of OTAs, which caused some concern in light of his concussion history, but neither player nor team seem concerned about his availability. Head coach Mike McCarthy simply said Adams is “battling a couple things,” presumably minor injuries.
  • Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says Quandre Diggs has a real chance to permanently supplant Tavon Wilson as the Lions‘ starting strong safety in 2018. Diggs, a former sixth-round selection, played well in that role last season, and Rothstein suggests he may even be the favorite to start at this point. Miles Killebrew, a former fourth-round choice, appears to be on the outside looking in and may need to continue to stand out on special teams to retain his roster spot.
  • James Conner, a feel-good story and 2017 third-round choice, is featuring prominently in Steelers‘ OTAs due to Le’Veon Bell‘s continued absence, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. Conner showed flashes in his rookie campaign, which ended with a Week 15 MCL tear, but if he can cement himself as the team’s No. 2 back behind Bell this season — and he will need to improve in pass protection in order to do so — that could be the first step towards a starting job in 2019, depending on Bell’s contract situation.
  • John Ross is once again a full participant in the Bengals‘ OTAs, as Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer observes. Although Ross dropped a few passes, he also made some difficult grabs and is seeing a lot of passes come his way. Tyler Eifert, meanwhile, is a limited participant, but having both players involved at the beginning of full team work is a beautiful thing for Cincinnati fans.
  • Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com (via Twitter) details a few more changes to the Browns‘ scouting department that were not covered several days ago.

Packers To Sign Davante Adams To Extension

The Packers are making it clear who their No. 1 receiver of the future will be, agreeing to an extension with Davante Adams, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

It’s a four-year deal, Schefter reports, and for money that will make him by far the Packers’ highest-paid wideout. Adams will soon be earning $14MM per year — $4MM more annually than Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb are making as a result of their Green Bay re-ups.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) Adams’ deal is worth $58MM over four years. He will receive an $18MM signing bonus and $32MM in the first two years of the deal — one that will tie him to the Packers through 2021. Schefter reports it’s four years and $58.75MM (Twitter link).

By doing this deal now, the Packers could prorate Adams’ signing bonus over a five-year period, ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets. Adams was set to be a UFA in 2018, and this takes another higher-end receiver off the market.

It also makes Adams one of the NFL’s highest-paid wideouts. Only four wideouts — Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Julio Jones — make more money per year than Adams will on his second contract.

The fourth-year target out of Fresno State has graduated to perhaps the Packers’ go-to skill player. During a full Aaron Rodgers season in 2016, Adams caught 75 passes for 997 yards and 12 touchdowns. This season, despite sustaining two concussions because of illegal hits, Adams is at 74/885/10 with Rodgers and Brett Hundley splitting time throwing to him. Adams has over 250 more yards than any other Green Bay pass-catcher and having just turned 25 is seven years younger than Nelson.

Both Nelson and Cobb are under contract for 2018, but each is attached to a $10MM salary. While the Packers could look to adjust these figures, they now have three wideouts attached to eight-figure-AAV deals. No other team matches that commitment.

For hardcore contract-minutia fans, Adams will be live-streaming his signing (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Bradford, Adams, Lions

Despite Sam Bradford having expected to have a good idea about his Monday-night playing status after the Vikings‘ Saturday practice, the quarterback is officially listed as questionable for Week 5. Considering the starting signal-caller was declared out during the past two work weeks for Minnesota’s Week 3 and Week 4 games, this is progress. But Mike Zimmer (via Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, on Twitter) either doesn’t look to have seen much more from Bradford over the past two practices compared to Thursday’s, or he’s keeping encouraging news close to the vest. Although the coach said his preferred passer looks “good,” this is likely going to be a game-time decision — one that could end up with Case Keenum starting a fourth consecutive game.

Here’s the latest from the rest of the NFC North, continuing on the injury front in Green Bay.

  • Davante Adams has surmounted the concussion protocol and expects to suit up for the Packers against the Cowboys, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports. This would come as a slight surprise given the severity of the hospitalization-forcing hit Adams absorbed the last time he was on a game field, but the fourth-year wide receiver did have an extra three days to go through the protocol. Demovsky heard Adams was cleared just before the team boarded the plane for Dallas, and Mike McCarthy said earlier this week he would have a good idea about Adams’ playing status by that time. Adams also suffered a concussion last season but was cleared without missing a game.
  • With each passing game, the chances are increasing the Lions will cut Eric Ebron rather than pay him the $8.25MM he’d be owed in 2018 via the fifth-year option, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes. Ebron has played in all four Detroit games but only has 11 catches for 87 yards. Meinke notes fourth-round rookie Michael Roberts could serve as a replacement at a fraction of the cost next season.
  • The Lions will want to hang onto Ziggy Ansah, but their top pass rusher’s age, recent injury history and sporadic production since 2016 — sacks in just three of the past 20 regular-season games — will make the 29-year-old defensive end a franchise tag candidate, Meinke writes. Meinke doesn’t envision, at least as of now, the Lions making a long-term commitment to Ansah based off this recent work sample. Nothing’s emerged on an extension front since March, when the Lions were planning a re-up. Questions about the Ghana native’s actual age surfaced earlier this year as well. Needless to say, the next three-plus months will be big for the 2014 first-round pick. It cost $16.9MM to franchise a defensive end this year, so that number could approach or surpass $18MM in 2018.
  • The Bears are likely to have a full-on skeleton crew at inside linebacker Monday night. With Nick Kwiatkoski doubtful to return from a pectoral injury sustained in Week 2, per Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter), the Bears would be without their top three inside ‘backers. Danny Trevathan will serve his one-game suspension Monday night, and Jerrell Freeman (pec) is on IR. Christian Jones and a to-be-determined player will start there against the Vikings.

NFC North Notes: Pack, Adams, Bears, Lions

Even after absorbing a violent hit from Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan last week, Packers wide receiver Davante Adams may be in line to play in Week 5, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Adams was taken to the hospital following the hit — which resulted in a two-game suspension for Trevathan — and thankfully escaped with only a concussion. If available, the 24-year-old Adams would be a boon to Green Bay’s offense against the Cowboys on Sunday, as he’s recorded 16 receptions, 219 yards, and two scores thus far in 2017.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • The Bearsdecision to start rookie Mitch Trubisky over Mike Glennon speaks to the No. 2 overall selection’s development this year, opines Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Trubisky, who started only 13 collegiate games before entering the NFL draft, was so raw that had to be taught how to take snaps under center in the spring, per Breer. But Trubisky has displayed so much improvement in the months since that Chicago formulated a plan to have the North Carolina product take starter’s practice reps in the fall. Of course, Glennon’s sub-par performance also made the Bears’ call a simple one, as the former Buccaneers ranks near the bottom of the league in nearly every quarterback metric.
  • The Lions took a look at tight ends Jace Amaro, Gavin Escobar, Cory Harkey, and David Johnson and linebackers Akeem Ayers, Andrew Gachkar, and Spencer Paysinger, today, reports veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Detroit’s linebacker auditions are particularly notable, as the club just lost base package starter Paul Worrilow to an MCL strain. All three of Ayers, Gachkar, and Paysinger appeared in at least 15 games a season ago, but were mostly relegated to special teams duty.
  • Offensive tackles Andrew Wylie, Stephen Evans, and Storm Norton, plus running back Joel Bouagnon, worked out for the Packers on Tuesday, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Wylie went undrafted out of Eastern Michigan earlier this year, but signed with the Colts shortly thereafter. He took a spot on Indy’s practice squad until being waived in September. Bouagnon, too, is a rookie UDFA (Northern Illinois) who spent eight weeks with the Bears this summer.
  • The Bears auditioned safety Jordan Moore yesterday, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Moore, a rookie undrafted free agent out of the University of Texas at San Antonio, signed with the Falcons earlier this year but has been on the workout circuit since August.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Adams, Bears

Packers wideout Davante Adams was taken to the hospital on Thursday night following a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, but “everything is progressing well” for Adams, according to head coach Mike McCarthy“He’s already giving them a hard time at the hospital to get out of there so that’s a great sign,” McCarthy said, per Curtis Crabrtee of Pro Football Talk. Adams suffered a concussion but his MRI is “clean,” per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Trevathan, meanwhile, earned a 15-yard personal foul for the hit but wasn’t ejected from last night’s game. The play is under review by the NFL, however, and Trevathan could be subject to a suspension, tweets Rapoport.

Here’s more from the NFC North, with a focus on Thursday Night Football:

  • Starting running back Ty Montgomery left last night’s contest early after suffering broken ribs, and the Packers are also down their No. 2 runner in Jamaal Williams, who is believed to have sprained his knee on Thursday, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Williams will likely miss time, meaning Green Bay will now lean on rookies Aaron Jones and Devante Mays in the backfield. While the Packers could conceivably get by with Jones, Mays, and fullback Aaron Ripkowski, the club will almost certainly add another back. Green Bay doesn’t have a running back on its practice squad, so it could look to a free agent market that includes DeAngelo Williams, Rashad Jennings, C.J. Spiller, and Ryan Mathews.
  • Bears quarterback Mike Glennon struggled on Thursday, tossing one touchdown against two interceptions while losing two fumbles, but head coach John Fox didn’t immediately commit to making a change under center, as Crabtree writes in a separate piece“We need to make a lot of changes,” Fox said. “We’ll evaluate everything. We’ve got a lot of work to do before we line up against Minnesota Monday night and we’re going to look at everything.” Chicago, of course, signed Glennon to a three-year, $45MM contract this offseason that contains $18.5MM guaranteed, but also moved up to the No. 2 overall pick to select UNC’s Mitch Trubisky. The Bears have an extended break before facing the Vikings on October 9.
  • After being benched at the start of the second half of last night’s contest, Packers cornerback Damarious Randall wasn’t on the sideline for the rest of the game and also wasn’t present in the post-game locker room, report Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Although McCarthy called the issue an “internal matter,” Demovsky speculates Randall could potentially be suspended or even waived. A second-round pick in 2015, Randall has thus far graded as a bottom-15 NFL cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus.
  • Former Packers long snapper Brett Goode received a four-week injury settlement, while fullback Joe Kerridge got three weeks, according to veteran NFL reporter Bob McGinn (Twitter links). Both players must wait three weeks plus the length of their respective settlements before they’re eligible to re-sign with Green Bay.

Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams Will Play Sunday

The Packers could be near full strength on Sunday as they face the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game, as wide receivers Jordy Nelson (ribs), Davante Adams (ankle), and Geronimo Allison (hamstring), as well as safety Morgan Burnett (thigh), are expected to be available to play, according to Tim Silverstein and Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.Jordy Nelson (vertical)

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Green Bay will need all its weapons in order to compete with a high-powered Atlanta offense in a playoff contest where the over/under is north of 60 points. With Nelson sidelined last week against the Cowboys, the Packers were able to lean on tight end Jared Cook — and the magic of Aaron Rodgers — as they won their eighth straight game. Adams and Allison were both available for that game, however, and attempting to defeat the Falcons without three of their top four receivers would have been difficult.

The Packers did make a move to improve their wide receiver depth, promoting pass-catcher Max McCaffrey from the practice squad to the active roster earlier today. Other receivers on Green Bay’s depth chart include Randall Cobb, Jeff Janis, and Trevor Davis, all of whom could be asked to take on a larger than average role if Nelson, Adams, or Allison aren’t at full speed on Sunday.

Burnett’s presence is also important as the Packers try to slow down Atlanta’s No. 1-ranked DVOA offense. In 15 games this season, Burnett has racked up two interceptions and nine passes defensed while ranking as the league’s No. 14 safety, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Notes: Decker, Trades, Revis

Jets wideout Eric Decker recently underwent hip surgery, and the 29-year-old is also awaiting an operation to repair his partially torn rotator cuff. Despite these setbacks, Decker said he wouldn’t miss any games in 2017.

“I’m not worried about missing any time next year,” Decker said on ESPN New York (via Darryl Slater of NJ.com). “I’ll be fine by the start of next year.”

Decker will be on crutches for a few more weeks, and he’ll have his shoulder surgery once he’s recovered from his hip operation. The shoulder should take about eight months to recover, which should line up perfectly with offseason workouts.

“I think they say eight months is kind of the time frame where you’re back to full strength lifting,” Decker said. “But there are a lot of guys that say after six weeks, after eight weeks, they feel pretty good. And then it’s a matter of obviously strengthening the shoulder.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the Gang Green…

NFC Notes: Panthers, Brooks, Parkey

Although defensive end Charles Johnson is expected to miss multiple games due to a hamstring injury, the Panthers aren’t considering placing him on the injured reserve list with the designation to return, tweets Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Carolina acquired Jared Allen this week to help boost the pass rush in Johnson’s absence, and according to agent Ken Harris, the Panthers were one of five teams that he and his client identified as potential landing spots (link via David Newton of ESPN.com). Carolina was “by far” their No. 1 choice, per Harris.

Let’s round up several more items from across the NFC….

  • 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks wasn’t present in court today, but his lawyer put in a plea of “not guilty” for his client on a misdemeanor sexual battery charge, reports Damian Trujillo of NBC Bay Area (Twitter link). Brooks seems likely to face discipline from the NFL sometime after the legal process plays out.
  • Cody Parkey‘s groin injury is more serious than it initially sounded, with the Eagles kicker telling reporters today that he tore three muscles in his groin. While he landed on the IR today, Parkey fully expects to be kicking again for the Eagles again in 2016 (Twitter links via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer).
  • The Bears may not be done making trades this season, but the Cowboys haven’t discussed the possibility of acquiring a player like Matt Forte or Alshon Jeffery, says Ed Werder of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • No outside free agent got a larger contract from the Saints than the $16MM deal C.J. Spiller signed this offseason, and head coach Sean Payton admits that he needs to get the running back more involved in the offense, according to Christopher Dabe of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
  • Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, who was taken out of Monday night’s game against the Chiefs, re-aggravated his high ankle sprain, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Adams is expected to miss some time, though it’s too early for an exact timetable. As for tight end Andrew Quarless, he has a sprained MCL, and is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks, per Rapoport (Twitter link).

Injury Updates: 9/20/15

The big news is the Tony Romo injury, which could have a devastating effect on the Cowboys’ season. We already looked at a major injury to Bills safety Aaron Williams – who appeared to be doing okay after being taken to a hospital, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter) – and a potential starting quarterback injury for Jay Cutler of the Bears. Here’s a roundup of other noteworthy injuries from Sunday’s action. Any additional injury updates from the afternoon games will be added to the top of the page throughout the day.

Earlier:

  • Ereck Flowers left the Giants-Falcons game with an ankle injury, and was not able to return, writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Flowers has dealt with ankle injuries for a few weeks, and Jordan Raanan of NJ.com notes that head coach Tom Coughlin hopes those issues aren’t continuous (via Twitter).
  • Eagles linebacker Kiko Alonso has been ruled out of the remainder of today’s game vs. the Cowboys due to a left knee injury, tweets Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As McLane observes, that’s the same knee that suffered a torn ACL in 2014.
  • Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was getting X-rays taken after the loss to the Vikings, reports Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Detroit Lions senior writer Tim Twentyman writes that Stafford confirmed the X-rays were taken of his chest and ribs (via Twitter).
  • Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy left the 26-19 win over the Saints with a right arm injury, reports Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 The Team in Tampa (via Twitter). Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times adds that McCoy was not moving his right arm in the locker room (via Twitter).
  • Titans right guard Chance Warmack will have an MRI on his knee on Monday after injuring it today, but the initial diagnosis is a sprained MCL, according to Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com (Twitter links).

North Notes: Steelers, Vikings, Bengals, Pack

A look at what’s happening in the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • The Steelers’ defense isn’t going to be one whose linemen merely occupy opposing blockers. Instead, new coordinator Keith Butler is encouraging them to attack the football, writes Ray Frager of CSNBaltimore.com.“Coach Buts said early on, ‘I’m not going to hold you back. I want the linebackers to fend for themselves. I expect you guys to make plays for yourself,” lineman Cameron Heyward said. Heyward added that he’s excited about Butler’s philosophy. “I’m salivating. I can’t wait until the season starts.”
  • The Packers have a breakout candidate in second-year wide receiver Davante Adams, who caught 38 passes during the regular season and added a seven-catch, 117-yard showing against Dallas in the playoffs. Head coach Mike McCarthy is excited about Adams’ output at minicamp. “Davante Adams, if you want a clear illustration and example of a first-year player taking a jump in his second year, you just saw it here the last four weeks,” McCarthy told the Associated Press. “Davante, if you wanted me to pick an MVP or an all-star (of the offseason), he would definitely be atop the list.”
  • Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil wants more from third-year linebacker Barkevious Mingowrites Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “He is going to have to compete for playing time on early downs. He’s going to have a role in our sub-packages,” said O’Neil, who did acknowledge that Mingo is the team’s best outside linebacker in coverage. Mingo’s role last year mainly focused on coverage, not rushing the passer, as he played through a torn labrum. Mingo has racked up just seven sacks since going sixth overall in the 2014 draft.
  • Vikings safety Harrison Smith is under team control for just two more seasons, but he’s not thinking about a contract extension. “I’m really just focused on playing the best type of football I can. That stuff will work itself out,” Harrison said Thursday, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I’m happy to be here and happy to be a part of the Vikings, but all I’m thinking about right now is playing well in 2015.” Whether it’s with the Vikings or someone else, Smith is primed to cash in big if his career stays on its current course. Smith totaled a career-best five interceptions in 2014, giving him 10 in three seasons, and earned a spot on Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro team.
  • Two of Harrison’s fellow Vikings defenders, end Brian Robison and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, expect to be ready for training camp in July after suffering offseason injuries, per the Pioneer Press’ Brian Murphy.
  • Bengals wideout Marvin Jones impressed as an NFL sophomore in 2013, amassing 51 catches and 10 touchdowns, before missing all of last season with ankle and foot injuries. Healthy again, ESPN’s Coley Harvey writes that the 2012 second-round pick is returning to form. “You’re starting to see a play here, a play there of the old Marv, and the quickness, suddenness and explosiveness,” Bengals receivers coach James Urban said.
  • The performance of backup quarterback A.J. McCarron in spring workouts greatly impressed the Bengals and helped convince them to release Terrelle Pryor on Thursday, writes Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. “If he can do what he did here live, that will be the next step,” said quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese. Head coach Marvin Lewis expressed similar sentiment regarding the 2014 fifth-round pick and three-time national champion from the University of Alabama. “I’m pleased with his ability to handle the huddle, to handle the team. These nine practices have been awesome for him,” Lewis said.
  • Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco heaped praise on second-year receiver Jeremy Butler, who stood out at the team’s minicamp. “He was incredible. He caught the ball extremely well,” said Flacco, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. “He’s just a big, strong body and catches the ball really well. It’s exactly what he showed last year in training camp, I thought, and he’s just coming out here and doing more of that.” Butler went undrafted out of Tennessee-Martin in 2014 and missed his entire rookie season because of a shoulder injury.