Marlon Mack

Injury Notes: Vikings, Packers, Colts, Bucs, Falcons

The Vikings received some excellent news on Monday when an MRI revealed cornerback Xavier Rhodes suffered a “very, very mild” hamstring injury, head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters, including Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). While Minnesota does have depth in its secondary (Mackensie Alexander, Holton Hill), the club had already lost rookie first-round corner Mike Hughes for the season. And missing Rhodes, who was named All-Pro in 2017, for any amount of time would have been devastating. After beating the Packers on Sunday night, the Vikings now have a 63% chance of earning a postseason berth, per FiveThirtyEight.com.

Let’s take a look at more injury news from around the NFL:

  • Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered two knee injuries and an ankle injury against the Vikings last night, but there is still hope he’ll be able to play against the Cardinals in Week 13, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. After being defeated by Minnesota, Green Bay will almost surely need to win out to have any chance at making the playoffs, and losing Bakhtiari certainly wouldn’t help matters. Arguably the league’s best pass-blocking tackle, Bakhtiari missed six games over his first five seasons in the NFL. If Bakhtiari’s not able to play against Arizona, former second-round pick Jason Spriggs would take over on Aaron Rodgers‘ blindside.
  • After going down with a concussion against the Dolphins, Colts running back Marlon Mack is “iffy” for Week 13, tweets Mike Chappell of Fox59. Mack missed three games with a hamstring injury earlier this year, but has averaged 16.5 carries per game since as Indianapolis’ lead back. The 6-5 Colts face a winnable game against the Jaguars next Sunday as they fight for a playoff spot, and would turn to Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines to play more snaps if Mack can’t go.
  • Buccaneers receiver DeSean Jackson is headed to New York to get a second opinion on his thumb injury, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jackson was originally injured in Week 11, and while he played against the 49ers in Week 12, it still sounds as though the issue is bothering him. Elsewhere in Tampa Bay, tight end O.J. Howard — who is already on injured reserve — is facing a four-to-six week recovery timeline for his ankle ailment, tweets Laine. Given that the Bucs are already out of postseason contention, Howard isn’t a candidate to return this year.
  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said linebacker Deion Jones looks excellent but stopped short of saying Jones will be ready for Week 13, reports Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones was activated off injured reserve in advance of Week 11, but he still has yet to see the field. After originally suffering a foot injury in Week 1, Jones hasn’t played since, and his — and other key defenders’ — absences have contributed to Atlanta’s disappointing 4-7 record.

Injury Notes: Titans, Mariota, Falcons, McKinley, Colts, Doyle, Eagles, Ajayi

Marcus Mariota‘s injury remains a mystery. It hasn’t been disclosed exactly what he’s dealing with although it has reportedly caused him to lose some feeling in his hand. Blaine Gabbert started, and won, for the Titans last week, and it’s possible he’s asked to do so again this week against the Jaguars.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters that he would make the decision between Gabbert and Mariota within the next “24 hours” and that he would let them know then according to Jim Wyatt of the Titans’ official website (Twitter link). If Mariota can’t go it would be a huge blow for Tennessee against the league’s top defense. One thing that could make their matchup a bit easier is that Jalen Ramsey was added to the injury report Friday with an ankle injury, although it’s unclear if he’s in any danger of missing the game.

Here’s more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Falcons just can’t seem to catch a break. It was already known they’d be without Devonta Freeman and several other starters, but it was announced today that they’d also be without talented pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley. McKinley is currently dealing with a groin injury.
  • The Colts will be quite shorthanded for their trip to Philadelphia as the team ruled out tight end Jack Doyle, running back Marlon Mack, defensive tackle Denico Autry, and right tackle Anthony Castonzo. Doyle’s injury is a big blow, as he formed an effective tight end duo with Eric Ebron through the first two games.
  • The Eagles will also be significantly shorthanded on offense, with their backfield being particularly banged up. Running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles have been ruled out, while Corey Clement is questionable. If Clement isn’t able to go, the running back situation would be dire. Alshon Jeffery is questionable, but reporters have written that he’s very unlikely to play.

South Rumors: Luck, Bucs, Saints, Texans

The Colts have their franchise centerpiece ready to resume his career after a hiatus so long it had many concerned his NFL days were over. But not everyone’s buying into Andrew Luck being able to pick up where he left off.

Have you watched the guy play? Go back and watch him pre-injury…like 2015. Now watch him today. His throwing motion is completely changed, and he has no deep velocity,” an AFC offensive assistant coach said, via Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. “His entire game has changed. I bet he’ll be Checkdown Charlie. Like Alex Smith but afraid to get hit.”

An AFC South assistant, per Miller, doubted the Colts’ offensive line can protect Luck. That was an issue for the team when its 28-year-old quarterback was last healthy. Colts scouts and execs are obviously more bullish on Luck being ready to resume his trajectory.

The last time y’all saw Andrew, he threw for 4,200 yards with a (messed) up shoulder and a bad offensive line,” a “high-level” Colts executive told Miller. “Just wait.”

Continuing with some additional Colts news, here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Both Anthony Castonzo and Marlon Mack returned to Colts practice this week, per ESPN.com’s Mike Wells and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter links). Castonzo injured his hamstring before training camp and re-aggravated it in the first week of August. He missed nearly a month of work but is optimistic he can still play in Week 1, the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer tweets. Mack missed almost a month of work as well because of a hamstring issue. He’s Indianapolis’ projected running back starter, but his status for the opener is also up in the air.
  • Both the Buccaneers and Saints paid premiums to sign certain practice squad players. Tampa Bay went well above the minimum $7.6K-per-week wages to add linebacker Azeem Victor, agreeing to pay him $28K per week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Saints are paying wide receiver Keith Kirkwood that amount as well, per Pelissero. Kirkwood is a rookie UDFA out of Temple who went to Saints camp, while Victor was sixth-round Raiders pick in April.
  • While Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson are expected to handle three-down work for the Panthers, David Mayo will start in place of the suspended Thomas Davis, DC Eric Washington said (via Joe Person of The Athletic, on Twitter). Mayo’s a 2015 sixth-round pick who’s started one game in his three previous Panther seasons.
  • The Texans worked out both Charles Sims and Akeem Hunt on Thursday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter). While Sims is a former regular on Buccaneers passing downs, Hunt’s workout went well, Wilson tweets, adding no deal is imminent. The Texans will be without D’Onta Foreman for the first third of the season. Alfred Blue, third-year back Tyler Ervin and recent waiver claim Gregory Howell are on Houston’s roster behind starter Lamar Miller.

AFC South Notes: Texans, Watt, Colts

J.J. Watt continues to insist he will be on the field with his Texans teammates when they open the regular season, but the severe injury he sustained last season — a tibeal plateau fracture — did not have doctors 100 percent certain the three-time defensive player of the year would play again.

They weren’t even sure if the surgery would work and if he would be able to run anymore. That’s what was so scary for us,” said Watt’s girlfriend, pro soccer player Kealia Ohai, via Jenny Vrentas of SI.com. “An ACL is difficult, but it’s pretty straightforward. With J.J.’s, because of the type of injury, I remember the doctors were not exactly sure how his leg and his knee would react to [the surgery]. From the beginning, he wanted to work hard and come back. But for a while, [the question] was, would he be able to come back and play at the same level, and support that much weight? Will his leg ever be the same again?

Watt’s returned to Texans practice, taking part in team drills, but he’s now missed 24 games over the past two seasons. It’s uncertain how the 29-year-old defensive end will look after this extensive rehab process.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • D’Onta Foreman likely will not be joining Watt and other healthy Texans in Week 1. The second-year running back is likely to land on the Reserve/PUP list to start the season, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle notes. Foreman currently resides on the Active/PUP list, but if Houston places him on the regular-season version of the PUP, he must sit at least six weeks. Alfred Blue will take Foreman’s place as Lamar Miller‘s primary backup. Foreman tore an Achilles’ tendon in November.
  • The Colts‘ backfield might not have its projected leader back by the season’s first Sunday. Marlon Mack‘s nursing a hamstring injury, and it’s “no slam dunk” he’ll be available for the opener, Frank Reich said (via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star, on Twitter). While the Colts are hopeful the second-year back can return by then and take his place with the starting offense, they may have to wait a bit for that to occur. The Colts will also be without Robert Turbin for the first four games of the season due to a suspension; they have rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, along with the well-traveled Christine Michael, in their backfield behind Mack.
  • The Jets contacted the Jaguars this week regarding the trade availability of Dante Fowler.
  • Derrick Morgan appears likely to miss the start of the Titans’ season due to meniscus surgery.

Robert Turbin Facing PED Suspension

Colts running back Robert Turbin is facing a four-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. Turbin confirmed this news on his Twitter account.

Turbin is entering the second season of his two-year Indianapolis deal and is now part of a Colts running back contingent that doesn’t include three-year starter Frank Gore. Turbin, 28, will be shelved for at least a fourth of the Colts’ games after playing in just six last season.

Gore’s absence clears the way for Marlon Mack to have a much bigger role. However, Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets Turbin operated as the team’s first-unit back this offseason, doing so despite his 2017 season ending early because of an arm injury. Mack underwent shoulder surgery this offseason, per Mike Chappell of Fox 59 (Twitter link). The former Seahawks back rushed for seven touchdowns in 2016 with the Colts but scored just one last year and saw just 23 carries.

The Colts made multiple additions to their backfield on Day 3 of this draft, so this suspension likely puts Turbin’s roster spot in jeopardy. Indianapolis selected Nyheim Hines out of North Carolina State in the fourth round and added Jordan Wilkins out of Ole Miss in the fifth. The Colts also house Turbin’s former Seahawks teammate, the now-well-traveled Christine Michael, and 2016 UDFA Josh Ferguson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/17/17

Today’s draft pick signings:

  • The Ravens have signed third-round defensive lineman Chris Wormley, as Wormley himself indicated on Twitter. Wormley, drafted with the 78th overall selection, would seem to be a ready-made replacement for Timmy Jernigan, whom Baltimore traded to Philadelphia earlier this year. With Wormley now under contract, fellow third-round pick Tim Williams is the only Ravens draft choice who remains unsigned.
  • The Chargers have signed fourth-round safety Rayshawn Jenkins, per a club announcement. After appearing 48 games over four years at Miami, Jenkins appears ticketed for backup and special teams duty during his rookie campaign. Not only does Los Angeles return two starting safeties in Dwight Lowery and Jahleel Addae, but it also added free agent Tre Boston earlier this week.
  • The Bengals announced that they’ve signed signed fourth-round wide receiver Josh Malone. Malone, a Tennessee product, was the second pass-catcher selected by Cincinnati in the draft, following No. 9 overall pick John Ross. While Ross figures to play a large role during his rookie campaign (and perhaps even immediately serve as a starter), Malone will begin the 2017 campaign further down the depth chart. A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, Ross, and Tyler Boyd all figure to see ample playing time, so Malone will compete with Cody Core, Alex Erickson, and Jake Kumerow for snaps.
  • The Colts announced that they’ve signed fourth-round running back Marlon Mack. After three years at South Florida, Mack could have an easy ascendance to Indianapolis’ No. 2 running back role behind starter Frank Gore, as his only competition is Robert Turbin and Josh Ferguson. At the very least, Mack should see playing time as a pass-catching back in the Colts’ offense.
  • The Browns have agreed to terms with seventh-round kicker Zane Gonzalez, the club announced today. Gonzalez, an Arizona State product, was widely viewed as the best kicker available in the 2017 draft, although he didn’t come off the board first. That honor went to Memphis placekicker Jake Elliott, who was selected in the fifth round by Cincinnati. Gonzalez made 92% of his field goal attempts in 2016 and also converted 39 of 40 extra points in 2016. Per Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Gonzalez has forced touchbacks on 75% of kickoffs over the past two seasons.