Jake Fisher

Bengals Place Jake Fisher On IR

The Bengals placed offensive lineman Jake Fisher on injured reserve due to his ailing back, per a team announcement. Fisher is now the 14th player to land on the Bengals’ IR this season.

The Bengals acted fast to replace Fisher, signing old friend Andre Smith on Thursday morning. Smith may offer experience and familiarity with the Bengals’ blocking schemes, but he is far less skilled at this point in his career than the 25-year-old.

Fisher, a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, also missed half of the 2017 season with an irregular heartbeat. This is a disappointing way for his 2018 season to end, especially since he is slated to reach the open market in March.

The Bengals, who are also without starting quarterback Andy Dalton, face extremely long odds of making the postseason. According to Five Thirty Eight, they have just a 6% chance of making the playoffs with a 1% probability of passing the Steelers and Ravens to win the AFC North.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Vikings

Bengals tackle Jake Fisher returned to full participation for the first time in many months. The fourth-year blocker underwent surgery this offseason to correct an irregular heartbeat and was limited during OTAs. On Wednesday, Fisher was present for a full workout at Bengals minicamp, per Laurel Pfahler of ESPN.com. Fisher’s 2017 season ended in early November, but the Bengals remain optimistic he can bounce back and have a productive contract year. Despite the Bengals acquiring Cordy Glenn this offseason, Fisher is nonetheless a decent bet to start. He’s the leading candidate to start opposite Glenn at right tackle.

Here’s the latest from Cincinnati, as well as some other northern cities.

  • Bengals rookie quarterback Logan Woodside was arrested for speeding and driving under the influence, cincinnati.com’s Jim Owczarski and Bob Strickley report. This occurred in Kentucky on the morning of June 9. The Bengals confirmed they were aware of the incident. Cincinnati selected Woodside in the seventh round out of Toledo. With A.J. McCarron gone, the job of Bengals backup falls to a competition between Woodside, Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel.
  • Multiple AFC West teams gave Donald Stephenson chances to be a starting right tackle, but he could not maintain the job in Kansas City or Denver. He’s now in Cleveland but was not present for the start of Browns minicamp, according to Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. Stephenson missed a sizable portion of Cleveland’s OTAs, per McManamon, as well and would be in position to incur fines for missing minicamp workouts. Hue Jackson said Wednesday this situation will be explained soon. Stephenson may not have a solidified roster spot, with the Browns having signed Chris Hubbard and drafted Austin Corbett in the second round. Shon Coleman is also in the mix for either the starting left tackle job or a swing role, which could make matters more difficult to stick with his most recent AFC franchise.
  • J.W. Johnson, son-in-law of Jimmy Haslam, will now serve as Browns executive vice president, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. Johnson will assume those duties July 1. La Canfora reported last year Johnson was moving into a bigger role with the Browns. Johnson worked at CBS Sports for many years before spending four years at Haslam’s Pilot Flying J company earlier this decade.
  • Rookie defensive end Jalyn Holmes suffered a broken hand and is not participating in Vikings minicamp, Mike Zimmer said (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, on Twitter). Slated to be a backup edge defender behind Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, the fourth-round pick is expected to be ready for training camp.

North Rumors: Bryant, Packers, Fisher, Lions

While the Steelers are not believed to be making calls about Martavis Bryant, they are expected to discuss the wide receiver with teams at the Combine, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). Rapoport does, in fact, note the Steelers are open to listening to offers for Bryant but don’t appear to be too aggressive about that at this juncture. However, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes Bryant has expressed desire to be a No. 1 receiver, and that’s not going to happen with likely Hall of Fame candidate Antonio Brown on the Steelers. This helps explain why the sides have not discussed a long-term extension or bridge contract. Bryant is entering his contract year, and the Steelers like their trio of wideouts. But Fowler writes the franchise doesn’t want Bryant causing any problems this season, which would make a trade logical. Fowler writes it would not be a surprise for Bryant to skip offseason workouts to display his frustration with his status.

Here’s the latest from some North teams as Combine itineraries are being finalized.

  • An irregular heartbeat shelved Jake Fisher midway through the season, inducing the Bengals to place their right tackle on the Reserve/NFI list. But the fourth-year blocker has been cleared to return to action, the Bengals announced. A 2015 second-rounder, Fisher is entering a contract year. He started a career-high seven games in 2017 prior to the heart problem sidelining him. The franchise is optimistic Fisher can have a strong season.
  • The Packers‘ strategy at backup quarterback put them in danger in 2013, when Aaron Rodgers‘ first collarbone injury occurred, and burned them last season after Rodgers suffered a similar malady. Multiple scouts who spoke with Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette said the Packers need to prioritize their backup quarterback more appropriately, with one making a notable claim the position was on par with left tackle in terms of importance. While that seems extreme, Rodgers has now missed 16 games between those two seasons. Dougherty mentions Sam Bradford as a possibility while one scout named Matt Moore and Ryan Fitzpatrick as superior options to Brett Hundley. Bradford indicated he plans to play in 2018 despite his injury history, but teams pining for Kirk Cousins may view he or A.J. McCarron as contingency plans as starters.
  • Teams are now free to place their respective franchise tags on players, and Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes this makes the most sense for the Lions. While $17.5MM is steep for a player with Ansah’s inconsistent track record, the former first-rounder is Detroit’s best pass rusher. And on a market light on proven edge help, the Lions might be wise to keep Ansah for at least another season.

AFC Notes: Joseph, Bengals, Titans, Bolts

Johnathan Joseph played the past seven seasons of his career in Houston, and the soon-to-be 34-year-old cornerback would prefer to remain with the Texans. The UFA returning in 2018 would mark a 13th NFL season, but he’s not ready to retire. It doesn’t sound like Joseph certain he’ll be back in Houston, though. But Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter) he would like to be. “I’m just chilling. We’ll see how it goes,” Joseph said. “Obviously, I want to be here. That’s my first choice. We’ll see how it goes.” The Texans still have Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson under contract for 2018, the former on a $9MM cap number in the final year of his deal, and lost A.J. Bouye in free agency last year. Whether or not Joseph returns, the Texans will probably need to make another investment at this position in the near future.

Here’s the latest from the AFC as we enter Super Bowl week.

  • Mike Vrabel‘s Titans staff continues to fill out. Former Raiders wide receivers coach Rob Moore will trek east to coach Tennessee’s wideouts, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Since the former All-Pro wideout’s career concluded, he’s coached at the high school, JUCO, Division I college and NFL levels — the previous five being with the Bills (2013-14) and Raiders (’15-’17). His main task will certainly involve Corey Davis‘ development. Moore helped bring Amari Cooper‘s career forward, but the top Raiders target struggled this season.
  • Organizational optimism centers around Jake Fisher as the Bengals‘ right tackle despite an inconsistent first year as a starter, Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of cincinnati.com report. However, Fisher’s counterpart, Cedric Ogbuehi, may not figure in as prominently. The Bengals reporters expect the team will decline Ogbuehi’s fifth-year option, and Marvin Lewis offered a sobering assessment of the 2015 No. 21 overall pick’s status. “Ced’s had two seasons, basically, and it’s just not been exactly where we need it to be,” Lewis said. “That’s held us back.”
  • Texas A&M is attempting to hire Chargers assistant defensive line coach Eric Henderson, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He spent his first season with the Chargers last season under Gus Bradley. The former NFL defensive lineman and New Orleans native, though, is viewed as a plus recruiter — particularly in the south — and spent three seasons with Oklahoma State and in 2016 coached Texas-San Antonio’s defensive linemen.

Bengals Sign OT Eric Winston

Eric Winston is back with the Bengals. The team announced that they have signed the offensive tackle. To make room, fellow tackle Jake Fisher has been moved to the NFI/Reserve list, ending his 2017 season. Eric Winston

Winston, the president of the NFLPA, was released by the Bengals in early September. The Bengals, at the time, were looking to kickstart a youth movement on the offensive line with the likes of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher as the club’s starting tackles with youngsters such as Christian Westerman and J.J. Dielman in support. With needs on the offensive line midway through the season, they’re bringing him back to the fold.

Winston was with the Bengals from the end of the 2014 season all the way through 2016. In total, he appeared in 33 games with six starts.

Meanwhile, the team has yet to disclose Fisher’s illness.

He’s (dealt with this) as we’ve been going through the season,” head coach Marvin Lewis said recently (via Jay Morrison of the Dayton Daily News). “It’s something that the doctors are monitoring very closely. (Sunday) they thought they needed to pull him from the game and run some tests, so they took him to the hospital to run tests. It’s not as serious as I would think it is, yet, it took him out of the game.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Sign Second-Rounder Jake Fisher

The Bengals have become the latest team to lock up one of their top draft picks, announcing today (via Twitter) that they’ve signed offensive lineman Jake Fisher to his rookie contract. Fisher was the 53rd overall pick in this year’s draft.

Having considered Fisher in the first round, the Bengals opted for Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi instead, and were pleasantly surprised to see Fisher still on the board when their second-round pick came around. While Ogbuehi continues to recover from a torn ACL, Fisher should be ready to go immediately, though it’s not clear yet if he’ll start right away.

Fisher’s new deal should pay him about $4.26MM over four years, including a $1.358MM signing bonus up front, according to Over The Cap. Now that the lineman is under contract, only Ogbuehi and third-round tight end Tyler Kroft remain unsigned among the Bengals’ draftees. The team locked up third-round linebacker Paul Dawson, fourth-round defensive back Josh Shaw, and fourth-round defensive tackle Marcus Hardison earlier this week (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Browns, Bengals, Bonuses

Fond of assessing teams’ draft performances hours after their completion, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. provided some additional immediate analysis (Insider subscription required) on which teams’ depth charts improved the most.

Not coincidentally, six of Kiper’s eight teams mentioned here made their first pick in the top 10, with only the Browns and Seahawks drawing mention for their selections in the middle and near the end of the rounds, respectively.

While Kiper chastised Seattle for reaching each year, he’s come to accept what the franchise does may work, considering the annual production from homegrown players. He identified Tyler Lockett as a potential impact player for a team mostly devoid of them on the outside. Beyond their two first-rounders, the Browns’ third-round bolstering of their backfield with Duke Johnson drew specific praise from the longtime draft expert.

Here is some other news from around the league …

  • With interior-line players coming to Cleveland after first-round notifications, the Browns were definitely not as flashy in this draft as they were last year, writes Jeff Schudel of the Lorain Morning Journal. Characterizing this year’s class as one orchestrated by Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer rather than what he determines as a Jimmy Haslem move in getting Johnny Manziel last year, Schudel notes the Browns, who may start Josh McCown rather than the first-round quarterback they traded up for in 2014, are planning for low-scoring contests this season.
  • Coming off a torn ACL sustained in a bowl game, Cedric Ogbuehi seems destined for the physically unable to perform list to start his NFL career, writes Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com in his look at Cincinnati’s new depth chart. Second-round tackle Jake Fisher should also be ready for work at center, offers Hobson, with offensive line coach Paul Alexander preferring versatility from his charges.
  • With teams allotted $86K in bonuses to dole out to undrafted free agents, this year they are using funds from an unlimited area to compensate for that figure, reports Philly.com’s Paul Domowitch (Twitter links). By splitting finances for undrafted performers between bonus money and base salary guarantees, the latter not having a specific limit like the former, teams are spending quite a bit to land their post-draft targets.
  • The 49ers did the most in terms of securing future resources during this draft, by acquiring two of the five 2016 selections exchanged this weekend, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Wilkening. The Chargers and Cowboys traded the 49ers fifth- and sixth-round picks, respectively, in next year’s draft.

Extra Points: Gregory, Texans, Bengals

Here’s a look at the latest from around the NFL as the 2015 draft continues:

  • Representatives for Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, whom the Cowboys chose 60th overall, made it clear before the draft that he’d need significant support from his NFL team, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That support is expected to include a security person and personal handler for Gregory, whose draft stock plummeted because of off-field concerns – notably marijuana use and potential mental health issues.
  • The Texans aren’t going to trade cornerback Johnathan Joseph, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The nine-year veteran is entering the final season of his contract, but McClain reports that his place on the team is safe.
  • The Bengals filled a need along their offensive line Thursday when they used their first-round pick on Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Had Ogbuehi been gone before then, the Bengals would’ve selected Oregon’s Jake Fisher, tweets ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. As luck would have it, Fisher was still available at No. 53, the Bengals’ second-rounder, so they were also able to land him.
  • Before drafting Mississippi cornerback Senqeuz Golson with the 56th pick, the Steelers attempted to move up and grab LSU’s Jalen Collins, who went 42nd to the Falcons, reports Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (via Twitter). They also liked Utah’s Eric Rowe, whom the Eagles selected at No. 47.
  • Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said he traded up for Hobart guard Ali Marpet because offensive line depth in the draft was shrinking, Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com tweeted. The Bucs selected Marpet in the second round after sending the 65th and 109th picks to the Colts for Nos. 61 and 128.
  • Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, whom the Seahawks chose with the 63rd pick, said he had a lot of pre-draft contact with the team, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Clark’s agent told him that the Seahawks “had a man crush on [Clark],” according to Condotta.

NFC Draft Notes: 49ers, Thompson, Bucs, Gregory

NFL.com’s Marc Sessler explores which teams could move up during Friday’s portion of the draft. The Cowboys and Cardinals top the list, as the writer believes the teams could make a move for a targeted running back. The Lions are a candidate to move up and grab a defensive lineman, while the Saints could target a young quarterback.

Let’s take a look at some more draft notes from the NFC…

  • 49ers GM Trent Baalke told reporters (video link on 49ers’ website) that he didn’t draft defensive end Arik Armstead as insurance against Justin Smith‘s possible retirement. Smith’s status for 2015 and beyond is still up in the air but Baalke has said all along that his uncertain status wouldn’t affect the team’s draft plans.
  • If linebacker Shaq Thompson hadn’t been selected by the Panthers at pick No. 25, Adam Jude of The Seattle Times says (via Twitter) the Cowboys were ready to “pounce” at No. 27.
  • Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times says (via Twitter) the Buccaneers are “thrilled” that offensive tackles Jake Fisher (Oregon) and T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) are still one the board. The writer notes that the team will target one of the lineman with pick No. 34.
  • Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ed Werder says Randy Gregory is on the Buccaneers draft board, which indicates that the embattled linebacker is also being considered at pick No. 34 (Twitter link).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Pauline On Gurley, Bengals, McKinney, RBs

After his citation for marijuana possession, the expectation is that Missouri linebacker Shane Ray could fall out of the first round and that’s an opinion shared by many in his camp, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net writes. Earlier today, we learned that teams that wouldn’t have had a chance to land Ray before are now inquiring on him, with both GMs and owners doing their homework. Here’s Pauline’s latest:

  • The Dolphins are hoping that Todd Gurley doesn’t get selected in the top 10. If the running back is still on the board, Miami will happily snag him at No. 14, per Pauline.
  • As of now, there’s a very good chance the Bengals take an offensive tackle in round one and they’re said to be looking at Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi, among others.
  • Linebacker Benardrick McKinney spent an extensive amount of time the past few days talking with the Broncos and Cowboys. If Kevin Johnson is unavailable when the Cowboys are on the clock in round one, they will strongly consider either McKinney or Eric Kendricks, Pauline hears.
  • There’s a good possibility that Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is still available when the third round begins. While teams like his film and cover skills, his knee injury from last December has some clubs concerned. Recently, PFR’s Rob DiRe wrote that he expected Ekpre-Olomu to experience a dropoff in draft stock from last year to this year, but not this severe. Had he gone pro last season, the Oregon notable may have had a chance to be a first-round pick.
  • There are a number of running back-needy teams who might wait until the fourth round before drafting at the position, due to the quality and depth available this year. David Cobb and Buck Allen have been brought to Pauline’s attention as fourth round types that can contribute off the bat and Miami junior Duke Johnson is also getting buzz.
  • Alonzo Highsmith, senior personnel director for the Packers, is pushing hard for Denzel Perryman at the bottom of round one. If Green Bay takes the Miami notable, the team would then push Clay Matthews to the outside. The belief is Green Bay still values a cornerback with that first pick and Eric Rowe continues to be in the mix, but Perryman is also a possibility.
  • Don’t be surprised if tight end Wes Saxton is drafted much earlier than presently predicted, as teams are high on his speed and athleticism. Saxton, a South Alabama product, could go as high as the fourth round. Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack is also getting additional attention.