Dontrell Hilliard

AFC Notes: Colts, Jets, Browns, Titans

After two offseasons featuring extensive injury rehab, Malik Hooker has been a full-fledged participant in the Colts‘ latest program. Surgeries to repair hernia and hip issues delayed Hooker’s Colts work after the franchise used a first-round pick on him in 2017, and rehab from the ACL and MCL tears Hooker suffered that season sidetracked him last year. Nothing is impeding the third-year safety at the moment.

This is probably the best I’ve felt since I left college,” Hooker said, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “Probably even better than that. For me to finally be able to have a whole offseason to work my body, it’s been great.”

Hooker dealt with nagging hip and foot injuries, the former sidelining him for two regular-season games and the latter keeping him off the field for Indianapolis’ divisional-round loss in Kansas City. Hooker graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 14 overall safety last season, a marketed improvement from his seven-game rookie slate. A full offseason of work figures to benefit the ascending talent.

Here is the latest from the AFC, shifting first to the other Colts safety starter:

  • While Hooker is having a rare stretch free of injury talk, Clayton Geathers is resting after an offseason knee surgery. The fifth-year safety, who recently re-signed with the Colts, said (via Erickson) he underwent a “cleanup” procedure this year. Knee trouble plagued Geathers for much of last season, the defender categorizing it as “a battle” to make it to game days weekly. This marks the second straight offseason Geathers underwent knee surgery. Foot and neck problems have severely constrained the former second-round pick as well during his career. Geathers has not played more than 12 games in a season since 2015, but he said he is feeling better after this latest surgery.
  • The Jets wrapped up their Joe Douglas interview Sunday and, despite the Eagles executive being the favorite to land the vacant GM job, the team will follow through with its Champ Kelly meeting. The Bears’ assistant director of player personnel began his interview process by dining with Jets brass Sunday night, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets, before interviewing Monday. Kelly marks the last of the scheduled interviews, following Douglas, Seahawks co-player personnel director Scott Fitterer and Saints director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot in doing so.
  • If the Browns do end up trading Duke Johnson, they appear to have found a successor in second-year UDFA Dontrell Hilliard. Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell praised Hilliard’s ability as a passing-down back and potential slot receiver — essentially Johnson’s role — and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com believes the Browns are confident Hilliard could replace the veteran incumbent. She suggests the team could fetch a fifth-round pick for Johnson, long the subject of trade rumors, but notes Browns brass likely deems that too low a return. Hilliard played in 11 games last season, catching nine passes for 105 yards.
  • The left side of the Titans‘ offensive line appears set, with Rodger Saffold set to play in between Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones. As for the guard who lines up next to right tackle Jack Conklin, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com tabs Kevin Pamphile as the favorite at this point. Pamphile started 35 Buccaneers games from 2014-17 and was a full-time first-stringer in ’16 and ’17. The former fifth-round pick started two Titans games last year. The Titans did use a Day 2 pick on a guard, No. 82 overall choice Nate Davis out of Charlotte.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/9/18

Here are today’s minor moves:

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/3/18

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Atlanta Falcons

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

  • Signed: DE Christian LaCouture

Chicago Bears

Signed:

Cleveland Browns

Signed:

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Signed:

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Signed:

New York Giants

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: OL Zack Golditch

Seattle Seahawks

Signed:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Signed:

Tennessee Titans

Browns Make Minor Trade With Saints

The Browns have reached the 53-man roster maximum by making a whole lot of cuts and acquiring one player just before the bell.

On Saturday, the Browns announced that they acquired defensive lineman Devaroe Lawrence from the Saints in exchange for a 2019 seventh-round pick. Lawrence, 26 in October, overcame legal trouble as a youngster to achieve his dream of making it to the NFL. Injuries have held him back in the pros, but the Saints stuck by him even after ACL surgery in December of 2016.

We felt he was athletic, explosive and we felt like he could recover,” said Saints coach Sean Payton (via Luke Johnson of The Times-Picayune). “In other words, he was battling an injury and we saw traits that are hard to find sometimes for defensive tackles, and it’s hard to find that position, especially after the draft.”

So, with Lawrence in the fold, the Browns waived the following 19 players to get down to the limit:

Browns Add 13 UDFAs

As the Browns begin their rookie minicamp, they signed 13 undrafted free agents. Here’s the full rundown:

  • Evan Berry, WR (Tennessee)
  • Elijah Campbell, DB (Northern Iowa)
  • Michael Carrizosa, P (San Jose State)
  • Christian Dilauro, OL (Illinois)
  • Daniel Ekuale, DL (Washington State)
  • Micah Hannemann, DB (BYU)
  • Desmond Harrison, OL (West Georgia)
  • Dontrell Hilliard, RB (Tulane)
  • Fred Lauina, OL (Oregon State)
  • Montrel Meander, DB (Grambling State)
  • Da’Mari Scott, WR (Fresno State)
  • Trenton Thompson, DL (Georgia)
  • Derrick Willies, WR (Texas Tech)

Berry is the younger brother of All-Pro Chiefs safety Eric Berry, the No. 5 overall pick in 2010 out of Tennessee. Evan Berry holds the Volunteers’ record for most kickoff-return touchdowns in school history with four. The Browns used just one of their eight draft choices on offensive linemen, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising three of them are on board as UDFAs.

Carrizosa finished in the top five in Division I-FBS punting twice with the Spartans (2015, 2017). Cleveland has punter Britton Colquitt signed through the 2020 season, but it would only cost the team $1.3MM in dead money to release him. Colquitt had a deal in place with the Broncos in 2016 before the franchise cut him for then-rookie seventh-rounder Riley Dixon.