Juston Burris

Browns Place Kirksey, Gaines On IR

The Browns placed linebacker Christian Kirksey (hamstring) and defensive back E.J. Gaines (concussion) on injured reserve, according to a team announcement. Both players were forced out during the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs and those injuries have ended their seasons prematurely. 

Kirksey, a fifth-year veteran and team captain, started all seven of his games for the Browns this year. In that time, he racked up 29 tackles, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery. Kirksey averaged 90 tackles and three sacks between 2016 and 2017, so those numbers were off of his usual pace. According to Pro Football Focus, it has been a subpar 2018 for Kirksey, who currently ranks as one of the ten worst qualified LBs in the league. Still, losing Kirksey is a blow to the Browns D.

The Browns are hoping to get Joe Schobert back on the field soon and his return should take some of the sting out out of losing Kirksey. Schobert has been held out of the last three games with a hamstring ailment of his own.

Gaines joined the Browns on a one-year, $4MM deal in the offseason. Unfortunately, he’s done for the year after suffering his second concussion of the season. Gaines started in two of his six games and snagged his lone interception of the year against the Raiders in September.

To fill one of the vacated roster spots, the Browns have signed defensive back Juston Burris off the Jets’ practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/30/18

Here are Tuesday’s practice squad moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AFC Notes: Chargers, Schofield, Vaccaro, Titans, Jets

The Chargers are seemingly never able to stay healthy, and this year hasn’t been any different. They’ve already lost Hunter Henry and Jason Verrett to season ending injuries. Last year’s second round pick, guard Forrest Lamp, has been expected to start for the team in 2018, but has been very slow in recovering from a knee injury that cost him his whole rookie season.

Michael Schofield is filling in for now, and in a recent interview with Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune, talked about his role. “I’m kind of a plug-and-play guy. I can play guard. I can play tackle. Right now, they need me at guard, so that’s where I’m going to be.” Woike echoes the sentiment many Charger fans have felt about Lamp, writing “even if Lamp is healthy, he still has much to prove, considering he essentially has not practiced since being drafted in the second round a year ago.”

Given Lamp’s history, it’s entirely possible Schofield ends up being a starting guard for the Chargers this year. Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Kenny Vaccaro only signed with the Titans earlier this week, but is already operating as the team’s starter according to Turron Davenport of ESPN (Twitter link). Davenport writes that Vaccaro has “taken pretty much all of the first-team reps” since signing with the team in the wake of Johnathan Cyprien’s season ending injury.
  • “Things aren’t looking great” for Juston Burris‘ roster chances, according to Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com. The Jets’ fourth round pick in 2016, Burris hasn’t shown much through two seasons and appears likely to be cut at this point.
  • “It wouldn’t be a total shock to see the Jets in the mix” if the Raiders decide to shop Khalil Mack, writes Stypulkoski. Stypulkoski writes that the Jets “are looking to bolster the pass rush” so it sounds like whether it’s Mack or someone else, the Jets may be making a move soon.

East Rumors: Williams, Patriots, JPP, Jets

Trent Williams has encountered a patella issue, one that caused him to briefly exit Monday night’s Redskins-Chiefs game. The Pro Bowl left tackle will not need surgery to correct the problem, but Williams is “week-to-week,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Washington has not ruled Williams out for its Week 6 game, per Rapoport. The eighth-year tackle underwent an MRI on Wednesday, and the exam ruled out a long-term injury. A near-future absence would obviously cause issues for the team. Swing tackle Ty Nsekhe is out after undergoing core muscle surgery, so the drop-off if Williams can’t go against the 49ers could be significant.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern divisions, shifting to New England.

  • Rob Gronkowski extended his streak of seasons without 16-game participation to six by missing Thursday night’s Patriots-Buccaneers tilt with a thigh injury, but the Pats expect their all-world tight end back by Week 6, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The same goes for Rex Burkhead, per Schefter. Burkhead hasn’t played since Week 2, but the team is expecting its newly acquired dual-threat back to be available against the Jets next weekend.
  • Missing Thursday’s game will deprive Gronkowski of collecting the $10.75MM salary the Patriots set as his ceiling on the now-incentive-laden 2017 arrangement. By failing to play in 90 percent of the Pats’ snaps this season, Gronk is in danger of falling to the $8.75MM tier of his contract, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes (on Twitter). The 28-year-old tight end could still rise back to that top tier, but he’d have to earn first-team All-Pro honors. That’s obviously still in play for Gronkowski, a three-time All-Pro, but he will have to make it through most of the Pats’ remaining regular-season games to be strongly considered for such acclaim. He will need to play on 80 percent of New England’s snaps this season or total 1,000 receiving yards or 12 touchdowns to earn $8.75MM. The salary drops to $6.75MM if Gronkowski can’t meet one of those benchmarks.
  • A sprained shoulder has put Jason Pierre-Paul‘s Week 5 availability in question, but the Giants defensive end said this issue is not new for him. He intends to play against the Chargers, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post reports. JPP said he’s been dealing with shoulder problem for “a while.” Both Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon missed Thursday’s practice, and with Vernon leaving early with an ankle injury the past two weeks, Big Blue’s other starting defensive end is in danger of missing his first NFL game in a six-season career.
  • The Jets could be down nickel cornerback Juston Burris on Sunday after the No. 3 corner hurt his foot in practice, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. With fellow reserve corner Darryl Roberts unlikely to play in Cleveland, the Jets could be scrambling here if Burris can’t go. New York, though, still has veteran Marcus Williams in the event the younger talents can’t play behind Morris Claiborne or Buster Skrine. A former steady contributor on whom the Jets placed a second-round RFA tender, Williams has not played a defensive snap this season. Both Burris and Roberts have played 90.

AFC East Rumors: Burris, Bills, Fins, Patriots

As the Jets attempt to conjure up a competitive team while fighting tanking perceptions, young players will emerge as key cogs. One such performer, in the eyes of the New York Post’s Brian Costello, will be cornerback Juston Burris. After being used intermittently last season, the 2016 fourth-rounder looks to be a threat for a much bigger role this year. Costello notes Burris has already passed Marcus Williams on the depth chart, despite the latter being given a second-round tender in March. The reporter is betting Burris will start alongside Morris Claiborne, with Buster Skrine in the slot, instead of Williams functioning alongside the former Cowboy. That would be interesting given Williams’ experience advantage, but Burris developing to this level would give Gang Green some depth at corner they lacked last season after Darrelle Revis‘ play tailed off considerably.

Here’s the latest coming out of the AFC East.

  • Although the Jets signed former Colts center Jonotthan Harrison, Wesley Johnson is expected to be the team’s starting center, Costello writes. Harrison, who was signed to compete for the starting job, may be more of a depth piece. Johnson started eight games after Nick Mangold‘s season-ending injury. He ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 33 center, out of 38 full-timers graded, so there’s work ahead for the fourth-year blocker.
  • On the subject of offensive lines, the Bills‘ is tentatively taking shape. The respective injuries of Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood are hindering the group, though. With Glenn still sidelined from the ankle injury he suffered last year, something new HC Sean McDermott called “a concern,” rookie Dion Dawkins took his place at left tackle during the offseason workouts. Dawkins was drafted to compete with Jordan Mills at right tackle, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News notes. Glenn being expected to return by camp may shuttle Dawkins over to the right side come August. Carucci adds that journeyman Vlad Ducasse was signed to push John Miller at right guard. The two split reps during OTAs and minicamp. Carucci also notes Wood’s 2016 broken right leg setback was not as severe as the broken left leg injury he sustained as a rookie in 2009. Wood participated sporadically in Buffalo’s offseason work.
  • The AFC East saw a recent first-year coach’s season that could turn out to be an aberration, with Todd Bowles‘ 10-6 debut preceding a dismal second season and a house-cleaning of most of the Jets’ veterans. But Adam Gase has ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, Rich Cimini and Mike Rodak more convinced he will be the Dolphins‘ coach for the long haul. The Dolphins made the playoffs for the first time in eight years last season. Reiss and Cimini came away from Gase’s rookie HC season impressed with the culture he’s building.
  • A year featuring the arrivals of Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore places this year in the running for greatest Bill Belichick offseason with the Patriots, Reiss writes. He rates this one as Belichick’s second-best behind only 2001 — when the likes of Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Roman Phifer, David Patten and others arrived — in his 18 offseasons in New England.

Draft Signings: Bucs, Seahawks, Lions

A rundown of the latest draft signings:

  • The Buccaneers have agreed to terms with fourth-round pick Ryan Smith and fifth-round pick Caleb Benenoch, as freelance reporter Jenna Laine tweets. Smith, a defensive back out of North Carolina Central, left college as the program’s all-time leader in solo tackles (168) and kickoff return average (28.1). Even though he played cornerback during his final year at UNCC, the Bucs plan to use him as a safety. Benenoch, an offensive linemen from UCLA, has experience both at tackle and on the interior line and that versatility helped his stock heading into the draft.
  • The Seahawks signed fifth-round running back Alex Collins, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. As his slot mandates, it’s a four-year, $2.566MM deal with a $184K signing bonus.
  • The Lions signed sixth-round defensive lineman Anthony Zettel, as Wilson tweets.
  • The Dolphins have signed seventh-round quarterback Brandon Doughty, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (on Twitter). The former Western Kentucky signal caller drew interest from scouts in large part because of his pinpoint accuracy.
  • The Lions signed fifth-round offensive lineman Joe Dahl, per Rand Getlin of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • The Jets announced the signings of cornerback Juston Burris (fourth round) and tackle Brandon Shell (fifth), as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. Shell, a 6-foot-6, 328-pound tackle, started for four seasons for the South Carolina Gamecocks and is the great nephew of Raiders Hall of Fame tackle and ensuing coach Art Shell.