October 5th, 2020 at 2:04pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Dolphins dropped to 1-3 on Sunday, causing the calls for Tua Tagovailoa to grow louder. Head coach Brian Flores has been steadfast in his resistance to starting the rookie, but for the first time he equivocated when talking to the media on Monday. When asked who his quarterback will be for Week 5 against the 49ers, Flores didn’t immediately say Ryan Fitzpatrick as he usually does, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweeted. He said the coaching staff will start discussing the decision this evening.
While Flores did follow up by saying he presumes Fitz will be the starter, this is still a notable change in tone. Flores seemed to catch himself during the presser and said his hesitation wasn’t a sign of anything to come imminently, but it now seems like the writing is on the wall for the Dolphins. It appears Flores is laying the groundwork for an eventual switch to Tagovailoa, and while Fitzpatrick still is the favorite to start this week it looks like his days are numbered. Flores also said he isn’t going to let the success of Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert effect his decision, but it certainly won’t help ease the pressure on him to make the move. He also said the injury Tua is coming off of has played a role in his caution, even though the fifth overall pick has “checked all the boxes” medically.
Here’s more from around the AFC:
The league continues to dish out punishments for COVID-19 protocol violations, with the Raiders getting slapped with another fine. Las Vegas was fined $50K for letting a non-credentialed employee into the locker room following their Week 2 win over the Saints, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Raiders have already been hit, with the team being fined $250K and head coach Jon Gruden being fined $100K for not properly wearing his mask during that same game. We heard a couple weeks ago that a team was under investigation for “unauthorized locker room access,” and it appears this latest fine is the conclusion of that investigation. The league has a call with all teams later this afternoon to give them a stern talking to about protocols in the wake of a litany of positive tests, and it sounds like the Raiders are firmly in the league’s crosshairs.
Steelers practice squad offensive lineman Jarron Jones is facing very serious legal issues. Jones was arrested over the weekend and charged with “aggravated assault, strangulation and simple assault,” per Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. A woman Jones was dating accused him of choking her, hitting her in the face, and throwing her outside during an altercation. For his part, Jones claims the woman began breaking things in his apartment and he responded by “grabbing her by the back and legs and placed her outside.” Pittsburgh was on an unscheduled bye week after their game against the Titans was postponed due to Tennessee’s COVID issues. “We are aware of the situation regarding Jarron Jones,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We are gathering all of the details of these disturbing allegations, but we will not comment any further at this time.” We’ll let you know when we hear more, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Jones is cut shortly and he’s certainly facing league discipline if the allegations turn out to have merit.
September 7th, 2020 at 6:16pm CST by Zachary Links
Devlin Hodges wasn’t gone for long. After waiving the quarterback over the weekend, the Steelers inked him to a practice squad deal on Monday, per a club announcement. With Duck under contract, and running back Wendell Smallwood on the way, the Steelers have their initial taxi squad in place. Here’s the full rundown:
The Steelers were set to roll with Hodges as their QB3, up until they claimed Josh Dobbs off waivers from the Jaguars. Last year, Hodges went from an unheralded UDFA on the practice squad to a fill-in starter after Ben Roethlisberger went down. He wasn’t able to keep his momentum after a hot start, but coaches still like him as an emergency option.
Smallwood was one of the Eagles’ main running backs in 2018, but didn’t much action with Washington in 2019. In 15 games, he registered 22 carries for 81 yards, good for a 3.7 yards per tote average.
Lynch is probably the most well known of these names. The former Broncos first-round bust signed with the Steelers last year as insurance after multiple quarterback injuries. He’s running out of chances. Switzer has mostly contributed as a returner with Pittsburgh and Dallas, although he did have 36 catches with the Steelers in 2018.
Smallwood was one of the Eagles’ main running backs in 2018, but didn’t get too many touches with Washington last year. He’ll likely pop up somewhere else soon. Brooks Jr. was the Steelers’ sixth-round pick in this past draft, so he’s likely ticketed for the practice squad if he clears waivers.
McCullers has been with the Steelers the past six years so his is a significant departure even though the nose tackle only played 12 percent of the defensive snaps last season.
The Bills dropped a host of players on Saturday to reach the 53-man limit, but they also carved out spots by other means. Fifth-round linebacker Vosean Joseph (shoulder) and running back Senorise Perry (quad) were placed on IR while undrafted linebacker Tyrell Dodson was placed on the Commissioner’s exempt list.