Devonta Freeman

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.

Latest On Falcons RB Devonta Freeman

It sounds like we’ve got another injury that we can add to Devonta Freeman‘s list of ailments. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out that the Falcons running back was listed on Friday’s injury report with a groin issue.

Freeman has already overcome a knee injury that forced him to miss several games earlier this season, and this week he was reportedly struggling through a foot injury. The organization wasn’t all that concerned with Freeman’s recent bone bruise, believing it’d only force him to miss a single game (if that). However, the groin issue is new, and Florio wonders how the running back could have suffered the injury if he wasn’t practicing.

This groin injury probably makes it even more unlikely that Freeman sees the field for this weekend’s contest against the Buccaneers. If Freeman can’t go, the Falcons will once again turn to a tandem of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith.

Freeman rarely battled injury issues through the early part of his career, as he played in played in 47-of-48 games between 2014 and 2016. He missed a pair of games last season with a concussion, and he’s already missed three contests this season. In his two games this year, the 26-year-old has collected 68 rushing yards on 14 carries. He’s under contract through 2022 after inking a five-year, $41.25MM extension last August.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Not Concerned Devonta Freeman Has Long-Term Injury

The Falcons aren’t as worried about Devonta Freeman‘s foot injury as they were about the knee injury he suffered earlier this year, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Freeman is now dealing with a bone bruise, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com recently reported that the veteran running back’s status for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers is in doubt. However, Graziano indicates that it’s “too soon to know” whether Freeman can suit up for Week 6. Either way, Atlanta isn’t concerned that Freeman is facing a long-term absence.

If Freeman can’t go, the Falcons will once again turn to a tandem of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith. Tampa Bay, of course, is currently fielding on the league’s worst defenses, although it’s been much worse against the pass than the run. The Buccaneers rank 30th in passing DVOA to opposing running backs, so Coleman and Smith — both of whom are solid pass-catchers — could excel in that area on Sunday.

Injuries haven’t typically been a problem for Freeman: before missing two games with a concussion in 2017, he’d played in 47-of-48 games from 2014-16. Freeman, who topped 1,000 rushing yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns in both 2015 and 2016, is under contract through 2022 after inking a five-year, $41.25MM extension last August.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Falcons, Giants, Eagles, Bucs

The 1-4 Falcons could face the Buccaneers without running back Devonta Freeman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Freeman, who missed three games with an MCL sprain, is actually dealing with a new injury, as Rapoport indicates it’s a bone bruise that’s threatening to keep Freeman out of Sunday’s action. While Freeman didn’t practice today, he did work on the side, although his status for Week 6 is “in doubt, per Rapoport. Without Freeman, Atlanta would deploy a Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith combination that was used in Weeks 2-5.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of injury news, the Giants have already ruled out tight end Evan Engram for Thursday night’s game against the Eagles, meaning Rhett Ellison, who has shouldered the load since Week 3, will take over at tight end once again. Edge rusher Oliver Vernon, who’s missed the entire season to this point with an ankle issue, will make his 2018 debut. On the other side of the field, the Eagles have listed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Corey Graham, and running back Darren Sproles as out. The latter two are especially concerning, as Philadelphia recent placed defensive back Rodney McLeod and running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve.
  • Although Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he’d make changes following a loss to the Jets on Sunday, defensive coordinator Joe Woods will not be relieved of his play-calling duties, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Denver gave up 512 yards of offense against New York, including a whopping 334 on the ground. Joseph, a former defensive coordinator himself, could potentially take over play-calling, but that’s not a move that will happen this week. Joseph also indicated that cornerback Bradley Roby, who was burned by Jets receiver Robby Anderson in Week 5, is still a starter “for now.” Adam Jones, who’s played on roughly a third of the Broncos’ defensive snaps thus far, could see more snaps if Roby is benched.
  • Under the terms of his five-year extension with the Buccaneers, guard Ali Marpet will earn $12.365MM through one year, $23.25MM through two years, and $33.5MM through three years, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Among left guards, Marpet’s $11MM annual average now ranks third, behind only Andrew Norwell and Kelechi Osemele, while his $27.125MM in guarantees ranks second. Marpet, who has started 44 games during his time in the NFL, has displayed exceptional versatility, as he’s played both guard spots and center in his career.
  • Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson pleaded guilty to simple possession and failure to exercise due care while driving but subsequently had a DUI charge against him dismissed, per a report from the Associated Press. Johnson’s original arrest occurred in the summer of 2017, more than a year before Denver gave him $50K in guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent. A Tennessee product, Johnson hadn’t played football in more than four years before landing with the Broncos, in part due to a rape charge of which he was later acquitted. He’s been inactive for every game in 2018.

NFC Notes: Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Lions

The Packers could potentially be without two starting receivers when they face the Lions on Sunday, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Randall Cobb is dealing with a hamstring injury and worked out with a rehab group during practice today, while Geronimo Allison is in the concussion protocol. If neither pass-catcher can go, Green Bay will be forced to turn to a pair of rookie receivers, Marques Valdez-Scantling and J’Mon Moore. Valdez-Scantling took over slot duties last week while Cobb was out, so he’d probably play there in three-wide sets against Detroit. For what it’s worth, No. 1 Packers wide receiver Davante Adams was listed as limited with a calf injury on Wednesday, but he’s expected to be ready for Sunday’s divisional matchup.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Week 5 presents a good news/bad news situation for the Falcons, as running back Devonta Freeman is expected to return from a multi-game absence while defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will miss Sunday’s game against the Steelers with an ankle injury, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The 1-3 Falcons have scored plenty of points with Tevin Coleman filling in for Freeman, but the latter’s return will nonetheless add another dimension to an already potent offense. Jarrett, for his part, is one of the best players left on an Atlanta defense that has already lost safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal, plus linebacker Deion Jones, for the year. The Falcons rank as a bottom-six defense in yards allowed, scoring, and Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
  • 49ers rookie wideout Dante Pettis has already been ruled out for San Francisco’s Week 5 contest against the Cardinals, reports Matt Barrows of The Athletic (Twitter link). Pettis, the 44th overall selection in this year’s draft, injured his knee on a punt return in Week 4. The Washington product produced nearly 100 receiving yards over the first two games of the season, but hasn’t caught a pass since. Fellow receiver Marquise Goodwin, who’s been hampered by a hamstring ailment all season, didn’t practice today and could also conceivably miss Sunday’s action, meaning Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor, among others, could be in for more looks.
  • Even after fracturing his hand in Week 4, Lions safety Quandre Diggs practiced on Wednesday and should be available for Sunday, as Justin Rogers of the Detroit News writes. Diggs, who inked a three-year, $18.6MM extension last month, has played the second-most snaps of any Detroit defender this season. If Diggs unexpectedly can’t play against the Packers, Tavon Wilson would take over at strong safety.

South Rumors: Conklin, Freeman, Reid, Colts

Jack Conklin is in line to make his season debut for the Titans. The right tackle participated fully in Tennessee’s Friday workout and is set to play Sunday, per TitanInsider.com’s Terry McCormick (on Twitter). Finalizing a recovery from the torn ACL he suffered during the Titans’ divisional-round loss last season, Conklin missed the team’s first three games. Taylor Lewan returned from a concussion in Week 3. This will mark the first time the Titans have deployed their top two tackles together since that Patriots game in January.

Adoree’ Jackson also passed concussion protocol, per McCormick, paving a path for the second-year cornerback to play Sunday as well. Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Devonta Freeman‘s knee issue, though, has not progressed to the point he’ll reclaim his starting spot. The Falcons will hold their first-string running back out again this week, Dan Quinn said Friday (via ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure, on Twitter). Freeman has not played since injuring his knee against the Eagles on opening night.
  • Eric Reid‘s Panthers deal includes $390K in per-game roster bonuses, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (on Twitter). The $390K will be in addition to Reid’s $1MM base salary, and Schefter adds playing-time and Pro Bowl incentives could bump this pact up to $2MM. It’s unclear what the playing-time thresholds are, or how much a Pro Bowl nod would increase’s Reid’s pay, however.
  • Patrick Robinson underwent ankle surgery on Wednesday, ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett of ESPN.com reports. This operation came because the Saints cornerback tore multiple ligaments in his injured ankle, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (on Twitter). The Saints placed their slot corner on IR earlier this week. He is not expected to return this season.
  • Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo will miss another week because of his injured hamstring. Frank Reich confirmed (via The Athletic’s Stephen Holder, on Twitter) the eighth-year veteran is out for Sunday’s game against the Texans. Castonzo has not played in a game this season and has now experienced multiple setbacks in attempts to surmount this hamstring problem. He’s not yet being considered for IR, however.

Devonta Freeman To Miss Multiple Weeks With Knee Injury

Falcons running back Devonta Freeman’s knee injury was originally thought to not be serious. Then came the revelation that he would miss this week’s game against the Panthers.

Now there’s even more bad news for Freeman as he will miss between 2-4 weeks according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Schefter said a Falcons official said it would be 2-3 weeks, but followed up in another tweet saying a different source said 3-4 weeks.

It’s another big blow to a Falcons team that has had brutal injury luck so far this season. Star safety Keanu Neal will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL suffered in Week 1 while every-down linebacker Deion Jones will miss at least the next eight weeks with a foot injury.

It’s the latest in a troubling string of injuries for Freeman, who has a history of knee injuries. Schefter reports the injury is a “contusion”, and Freeman has previously suffered PCL and MCL injuries to the same knee. Freeman signed a contract extension before the 2017 season that at the time made him the second highest paid running back in the league. Tevin Coleman should see a significantly increased workload in Freeman’s absence.

NFC Injury Notes: Rodgers, Falcons, Eagles

Aaron Rodgers will enter Sunday with a questionable designation on the Packers‘ injury report. The two-time MVP can improve his chances of playing, obviously, by practicing Saturday — when the Packers do more than the typical walkthrough — but not doing so won’t prevent him from playing. Mike McCarthy said he’d have no issues deploying Rodgers even if he doesn’t practice all week, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The 13th-year Green Bay coach said his quarterback feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. Despite Rodgers’ performance on Sunday against the Bears and his history of playing through left knee pain, he’s not a lock to face the Vikings.

Here’s the latest from the NFC’s injury situations.

  • Another key Falcons cog won’t be available Sunday. After the losses of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, Atlanta won’t have the services of starting running back Devonta Freeman. He’s been declared out due to the knee injury he suffered against the Eagles. Tevin Coleman will start. The Falcons have rookie Ito Smith and recently signed Brian Hill in place as backups.
  • Once again, the Giants won’t have their top pass rusher available. While the Giants are hoping to have Olivier Vernon in Week 3, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter), his high ankle sprain will keep him out against the Cowboys.
  • Trai Turner‘s stay in Panthers concussion protocol will result in him missing this week’s game against the Falcons. He’s been declared out, putting Carolina down three starting offensive linemen — Turner and tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams, both of whom residing on IR — going into its NFC South opener.
  • The already-banged-up Eagles didn’t come out of Week 1 unscathed. Darren Sproles will miss Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. The 34-year-old passing-down back sustained a hamstring injury against the Falcons. He’ll join Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery among Philadelphia’s high-profile Week 2 absences.
  • Already without IR-stationed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs won’t have Brent Grimes available to cover Eagle wideouts, either. Tampa Bay used two second-round picks on corners, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, and could see an extended glimpse of the rookies’ development to this point in their careers.
  • The Lions49ers game will see the visitors without top guard T.J. Lang and the hosts missing deep threat Marquise Goodwin. Both players have been declared out. Kyle Shanahan said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter) Dante Pettis will start in place of Goodwin.

Falcons S Keanu Neal Suffers Torn ACL

Keanu Neal‘s injury during Thursday night’s season-opening game proved to be significant. The Falcons safety is now out for the season after being diagnosed with a torn ACL, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The third-year defender left the Falcons’ Week 1 loss to the Eagles, and he’ll now spend the rest of the 2018 season rehabbing his left knee post-surgery. This is a key blow to a talented Falcons secondary.

The Falcons did not expect this diagnosis, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), ordering an MRI as a precaution. They’re now down a top young talent. The team announced Neal is done for the year.

The youngest player in a starting secondary that now features each of its other cogs signed long-term, the 23-year-old Neal emerged as a Day 1 starter after being a 2016 first-round pick. He earned Pro Bowl recognition in 2017 after making 113 tackles and forcing three fumbles. Neal’s forced eight fumbles in his career and has two 100-tackle seasons under his belt.

Atlanta has second-year man Damontae Kazee and recent trade acquisition Jordan Richards slotted as safety backups.

If the team wants to look for outside help, the obvious top candidate is Eric Reid. But he’s currently involved in a collusion grievance against the league after teams shied away from him in free agency this offseason. However, the stakes are high for the 2018 Falcons. Might that prompt them to reach out to arguably the top free agent available? Dan Quinn also coached Earl Thomas during his days as Seahawks DC, and Thomas has let it be known he remains at odds with his team, despite ending his holdout earlier this week.

The Falcons are now 0-1 in a key season for the franchise, with Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta and the team standing as one of the top contenders in a loaded NFC. This is obviously a tough development to start the year.

In other Falcons injury news, however, Devonta Freeman did not sustain a serious knee injury Thursday night, Rapoport adds. He’s expected to be fine going forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman Avoids Surgery

Despite playing through a MCL and PCL ailment towards the end of the season, it sounds like Devonta Freeman avoided a serious injury. Appearing on PFT Live, the Falcons running back told Mike Florio that he won’t need surgery this offseason.

Devonta Freeman (vertical)“I’m getting better,” Freeman said. “I just went to go get a second opinion. Thank God I didn’t have to get surgery. So now I just have to rehab and get it back stronger and be ready for next season.”

As Florio writes, the first opinion also indicated that Freeman wouldn’t require surgery. Instead, the running back will rehab throughout the season, and Florio suggests that avoiding an operation will “accelerates his timeline.”

When asked if he’d be available for the beginning of offseason programs, Freeman indicated that he’d take his time returning to the field.

“Possibly,” Freeman said. “But I’m going to take my time and let it heal so I won’t have to deal with little knicks and knacks throughout the season, because that’s the most important time for me. So I’m going to take my time and let it heal, get stronger. I need to be free when I’m out there.”

The former fourth-round pick had another productive season in 2017. The 25-year-old finished the campaign with 865 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 196 carries. He also added another 36 receptions for 317 yards and one score. If Freeman’s recovery doesn’t go as planned, the Falcons could easily slot running back Tevin Coleman into the starting lineup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.