Mike Hughes

Vikings CB Mike Hughes Suffered Broken Vertebra In Neck

Mike Hughes‘ 2020 season ended with him being placed on the injured reserve with a neck injury. We now have more details, as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune reports that the Vikings cornerback suffered a broken vertebra in his neck.

Fortunately, it sounds like the 23-year-old will return to full health, as head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters that Hughes is “going to be fine.” Further, Zimmer hinted that the 2018 first-rounder (along with Holton Hill and Kris Boyd) could lead the team’s cornerbacks corps in 2020.

“Hughes and Hill and Boyd, they have the ability to do it,” Zimmer said. “Like, during the season I gave them an assignment that I wanted them to do every single day and they did it. That tells me that they want to do it. I think that’s half the battle.”

Minnesota may have to rely on these youngsters next season. As Goessling notes, cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander (along with safety Anthony Harris) are set to hit free agency. Further, cornerback Xavier Rhodes could find himself as a cap casualty.

Hughes was limited to only six games as a rookie thanks to a torn ACL, but he returned to appear in 14 games (three starts) in 2019. During his sophomore campaign, the defensive back compiled 45 tackles, nine passes defended, one interception, and two forced fumbles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Place Mike Hughes On IR

The Vikings will head into the playoffs without the services of Mike Hughes. On Friday, the Vikes placed the cornerback on injured reserve with a neck injury.

Hughes, a 2018 first-round pick, figured to see an increased role against the Saints in the Wild Card round as Mackensie Alexander nurses a knee injury. Now, the Vikings are without both corners for the big game on Sunday.

Hughes played in 14 games (three starts) in 2019, logging one interception, two forced fumbles, and 43 total tackles. The Vikings already had their work cut out for them with Michael Thomas & Co., but things are looking extra bleak for them at this moment.

To fill in at cornerback, the Vikings re-signed old friend Marcus Sherels. Sherels, a Minnesota native, spent nine straight seasons with the Vikings. From 2011-18, Sherels returned 231 punts for 2,447 yards (10.6 average) and five touchdowns, setting franchise records in all three categories.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 12/23/19

Passing along some notable names from today’s workout circuit:

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Seattle Seahawks

Jaguars Reach 53-Man Limit

The Jaguars got down to 53. Here’s how:

Waived or released:

OL Ka’John Armstrong
WR Tyre Brady
TE Donnie Ernsberger
CB Tae Hayes
WR Quadree Henderson
RB Elijah Hood
DL Mike Hughes
DL Lyndon Johnson
TE Charles Jones
WR Raphael Leonard
WR Tre McBride
QB Alex McGough
CB Quenton Meeks
TE Carson Meier
S Joshua Moon
CB Picasso Nelson
S C.J. Reavis
CB Saivion Smith
OL Bunchy Stallings
LB Connor Strachan
DL Kalani Vakameilalo
WR Michael Walker
CB Brandon Watson
DL Andrew Williams
TE Ethan Wolf

Waived/injured:

OL Donnell Greene
RB Devante Mays
OL KC McDermott
OL Leonard Wester

Placed on IR:

OL Ben Ijalana
WR Terrelle Pryor

NFI:
LB Jake Ryan

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Packers, Reed, Hughes

Cowboys Pro Bowl cornerback Byron Jones participated in his first practice of the offseason today after being activated from the physically unable to perform list. While the 26-year-old will be a welcome addition to the secondary, head coach Jason Garrett said the team will bring Jones along slowly.

“He’s going to slowly get back into it and just kind of see where he is,” Garrett said (via ESPN’s Todd Archer). “He’s been working really well on the side. It’s time for him to get going again, so he’ll be out there for part of practice.”

Meanwhile, offensive guard Zack Martin and offensive tackle Tyron Smith are not expected to practice this week, but the duo should be good to go for the regular season opener. The same goes for wideout Amari Cooper, who has been dealing with a heel injury.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Packers starting linebacker Oren Burks isn’t expected to miss an extended amount of time due to a pec injury, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The 24-year-old won’t require surgery and should be back this season, and there’s even optimism that he’ll be able to avoid the injured reserve. The 2018 third-rounder had 23 tackles during his rookie campaign.
  • Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he expects tight end Jordan Reed to be available for the season opener at Philadelphia (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s John Keim). Reed entered the concussion protocol after a hit in Thursday’s preseason win at Atlanta. “We’re quite confident that Jordan will be fine,” Gruden said. That’s good news for a team whose passing game revolves largely around Reed.
  • The Vikings have removed cornerback Mike Hughes from the PUP list, according to a team announcement. That’s big news for Minnesota, especially with supporting cornerback Holton Hill suspended for the first half of the season. The 2018 first-round pick appeared in six games (two starts) before tearing his ACL in October. He ultimately finished his rookie campaign having compiled 22 tackles, three passes defended, a pick-six, and a forced fumble.
  • The Cowboys worked out a pair of tight ends today in Tyrone Swoopes and Zach Conque, according to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas News (via Twitter). Swoopes spent the first two seasons of his career in Seattle, appearing in two games. The 24-year-old was let go by the team earlier this month. Conque, 25, has had stints with the Texans, Jets, Jaguars, and Colts since 2017. While the team’s depth chart at tight end is pretty much set, both Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz have dealt with recent injuries.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Vikings Work Out Morris Claiborne

The Vikings worked out Morris Claiborne on Friday, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Claiborne could provide the team with additional depth during a slightly rocky time for the secondary. 

Rising sophomore Mike Hughes, who suffered a torn ACL in 2018, opened up camp on the PUP list, leaving the team thin at cornerback. Furthermore, Holton Hill has been suspended for eight games (substance abuse and PEDs), so the Vikings are doing their due diligence.

Claiborne, 29, spent the past two seasons with the Jets and has played on one-year deals for the past three seasons. He hasn’t really excelled since his 2016 season with the Cowboys, when he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 ranked corner in a limited sample of seven games. Last year, Claiborne graded out as just the No. 75 CB in the NFL out of 112 qualified players, per PFF.

The Vikings also kicked the tires on veteran Orlando Scandrick this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: XFL, Giants, Vikings

The AAF may have imploded in spectacular fashion, but that doesn’t mean people are done taking cracks at spring football leagues. Vince McMahon’s XFL is gearing up to start play early next year, and they’ve already made some big hires. They’re now moving on to filling out the rosters, and some recognizable names are resurfacing. We heard a couple days ago that Landry Jones, Aaron Ripkowski, and Christine Michael would be auditioning, and now we have even more names to report. Trevone Boykin, Lance Dunbar, Kony Ealy, and Ahmad Dixon were at a showcase yesterday as well as a handful of other ex-NFLers, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

According to a tweet from Optimum Scouting’s Erik Galko, former Seahawks receiver Kasen Williams will also be among those trying out. Finally, a tweet posted by the XFL Houston account shows that NFL veterans Will Hill and Robert Meachem also participated in a camp. Meachem is 34 and last played in the NFL with the Saints back in 2014, so this would be quite the comeback. While the XFL will still be facing an uphill battle, they do appear to be in better position than the AAF. McMahon seems fully invested in the league, and the TV deal the league has is far superior. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • Speaking of the XFL, one of their big hires was when they named Daryl “Moose” Johnston the director of player personnel for their Dallas franchise. Johnston was the GM of the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders, so he has experience in this type of league. Most players in the AAF and XFL were looking to get back to the NFL, and it’s no different for coaches and execs. Johnston wants to be an NFL GM one day, per Machota. Johnston spent all 11 years of his pro career with the Cowboys as a fullback, winning three Super Bowls with the team. He made the Pro Bowl twice and has done a lot of broadcasting work for FOX since retiring.
  • Evan Engram missed the Giants’ recent minicamp, which raised some eyebrows. But thankfully he’s not dealing with anything serious, as Engram said today at Landon Collins‘ charity softball game that the Giants were just being “cautious” by holding him out, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link). He also writes there’s “nothing lingering from last season.” Engram had a breakout rookie season in 2017, but took a step back last year while dealing with injuries. Hamstring and knee injuries limited Engram to just 11 games last year, but he finished strong down the stretch. In each of his last four games he finished with at least 75 yards, so he should be poised for a bounce back 2019 campaign.
  • 2018 first round pick Mike Hughes got off to a solid start last year. The Vikings cornerback had a pick-six in the first game of his career, but his rookie season ended in devastating fashion. The UCF product had his season ended by a torn ACL after just six games, and has been rehabbing ever since. Things appear to be going well, but the team is being cautious with him. To that end, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer recently said that he wouldn’t get any practice in until training camp at the earliest, per Andrew Kramer of the Star Tribune. We heard recently the Vikings were listening to trade offers for both Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, which would seem to indicate they’re optimistic about Hughes’ recovery.

Vikings To Place Mike Hughes On IR

The Vikings feared their first-round pick tore an ACL on Sunday, and subsequent tests confirmed those fears.

Mike Hughes will be placed on IR and miss the rest of the season, Mike Zimmer said Monday. Hughes went down during Minnesota’s Week 6 victory over Arizona and will now be rehabbing toward a goal of being ready in time for the 2019 season.

The late-first-round selection started two games for the Vikings and represented the latest major investment at cornerback, joining Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. The latter three remain healthy for the now 3-2-1 Vikings, whose depth at corner will be tested.

Pro Football Focus graded Hughes’ abbreviated season as a mid-level effort, placing the Central Florida product as the league’s No. 68 corner through six games. He did deliver some early production, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown. He forced and recovered a fumble, deflected three passes and made 39 tackles.

Hughes’ rookie contract runs through the 2021 season, with a fifth-year option in place for 2022. The Vikings also have return man Marcus Sherels on the roster, but he hasn’t played on defense this season. Rookie UDFA Holton Hill‘s seen 21 snaps and is likely set for an increase in responsibility.

Vikings Fear CB Mike Hughes Has Torn ACL

The Viking believe rookie cornerback Mike Hughes suffered a torn ACL against the Cardinals, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Hughes will undergo an MRI on Monday to confirm the preliminary diagnosis.

Hughes, 21, was the Vikings’ first-round pick (No. 30 overall) in the 2018 draft, but he’s played starter’s snaps despite Minnesota head coach’s Mike Zimmer‘s usual reticence to deploy rookies. Hughes has played primarily in the slot for the Vikings, but he’s also been asked to play outside while fellow corner Trae Waynes deals with injury.

All in all, Hughes has played like a slightly-below average cornerback during his rookie campaign. Pro Football Focus grades Hughes as the No. 69 corner among 119 qualifiers, while he ranks 35th among 66 qualifiers in Football Outsiders’ success rate, which measures cornerbacks’ ability to stop opposing receivers short of the sticks. FO also charts Hughes with allowing 9.1 yards per pass, good for 48th among corners.

If Hughes is indeed out for the year, the Vikings will turn to Mackensie Alexander to man the slot, while Holton Hill could conceivably also see more snaps. Jalen Myrick is the only corner on Minnesota’s practice squad, and he could be a candidate to be promoted to the active roster. If the Vikings want to look at the free agent market, they could look at options such as David Amerson, Tony Lippett, Jeremy Lane, or Sterling Moore.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Hundley, K. White, Hurst

Although many have assumed that the Packers will keep DeShone Kizer on their final roster — after all, Kizer is just one year removed from being a second-round draft pick, and Green Bay liked him enough to trade for him this offseason — Eric Baranczyk and Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com believe the Packers should keep Brett Hundley and cut Kizer if it comes to that. Baranczyk and Dougherty say the game has slowed more for Hundley than it has for Kizer, and the fact that Green Bay recently traded for Kizer should not be a factor in the team’s decision (after all, the Packers were likely to cut Damarious Randall anyway if Cleveland hadn’t been willing to deal Kizer for him). Ideally, the Packers would be able to swing a trade for one of Hundley or Kizer, but failing that, the Packers News scribes think GM Brian Gutekunst should stick with Hundley, who did not play very well in relief of the injured Aaron Rodgers last year.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the league’s North divisions:

  • Wide receivers Kevin White and Javon Wims both improved their chances of making the Bears‘ 53-man roster during Chicago’s preseason victory over Kansas City last night, as Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. White, of course, was the No. 7 overall pick of the 2015 draft — and GM Ryan Pace‘s first-ever draft choice — but injuries have almost completely wiped out the first three years of his NFL career. Wims was a seventh-round selection in this year’s draft, and Jahns believes the Bears should keep both players and six receivers overall, including Josh Bellamy.
  • Although Mackensie Alexander is battling an ankle injury, he is expected to start as the Vikings‘ slot corner — and “quarterback of the defense” in head coach Mike Zimmer‘s scheme — if he is healthy, as Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune reports. However, first-round rookie Mike Hughes — who is also battling an undisclosed injury — has been pushing for first-team reps, which is fairly remarkable when considering that he did not play in the slot in college. Hughes could overtake Alexander down the line, but in any case, Minnesota appears to be well-set at the position in the long-term. Alexander, a 2016 second-rounder, has made tremendous strides in his third summer with the club.
  • Though they had been enjoying an injury- and drama-free offseason, the Ravens have been hit hard with unwelcome news over the past few days. They lost rookie TE Hayden Hurst for three-to-four weeks, they saw star CB Jimmy Smith suspended for four games — though they at least knew that was coming — and now Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic has more bad news to report. Zrebiec tweets that emerging third-year defensive tackle Willie Henry will miss several weeks with a hernia, while promising rookie safety DeShon Elliott may be out for the season with a forearm injury. Zrebiec adds that the recent spate of bad luck will impact Baltimore’s initial roster construction, because while the team will likely carry Hurst and Henry on the 53-man roster until they are ready to return, the Ravens may need to keep an extra tight end and defensive lineman until that happens (Twitter link). Elliott, meanwhile, is an IR candidate. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports that Henry had surgery for his hernia and Hurst has had surgery for the stress fracture in his foot (Twitter links).
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson wants to keep six wide receivers on the team’s regular-season roster, as Steve Doerschuk of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins make up four of those six wideouts, while sixth-round rookie Damion Ratley also stands a good chance. That means veteran Jeff Janis and relative unknowns Derrick WilliesDa’Mari Scott, and C.J. Board could be fighting it out for the last spot.