Mike Kafka

AFC Notes: Ramsey, Steelers, Kafka

It looks like Jaguars owner Shad Khan was mistaken. Khan, who has seemingly been overly optimistic about the Jalen Ramsey situation ever since his trade demand became public, said earlier this week that he expected Ramsey to play in Week 6. That was apparently news to Ramsey, and his camp soon put out word that he hadn’t committed to playing this week. Indeed, it “would be a major surprise if he plays this week,” tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Ramsey was limited in practice all week, which is obviously a step in the right direction considering he hadn’t practiced until then since his back injury popped up. All indications are that Ramsey hasn’t wavered from his trade demand, although Khan continues to act like nothing is wrong. The Jaguars owner has also said he intends to give the Florida State product a record-breaking extension. Jacksonville has a tough game against the Saints on Sunday, and it looks like Gardner Minshew will be leading them into the game shorthanded.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Speaking of injured cornerbacks, Steelers corner Steven Nelson won’t be playing this week either. Nelson suffered a groin injury during the team’s Week 5 loss to the Ravens, and the team just announced he’s been ruled out. In his place, Pittsburgh will start 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns. Burns has been labeled a bust by many and the Steelers declined his fifth-year option this past offseason, which shows you how they feel about him. Nelson had been playing pretty well alongside Joe Haden, so this is a big downgrade to the Steelers’ secondary as they prepare to take on the Chargers.
  • Add one more young assistant coach to the list of ones to monitor in the Chiefs’ Mike Kafka. Kafka is “very well respected” and is a possible future head coach, tweets Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL radio. Kafka was a former backup quarterback for the Eagles, and he now works under his former head coach Andy Reid. Kafka is Patrick Mahomes‘ position coach and there’s a long history of former Reid assistants landing head jobs, so it certainly makes sense.
  • In case you missed it, the Jets moved on from quarterback Luke Falk after he started the last two weeks for them.

Breer’s Latest: Cardinals, Rosen, Dolphins, Chiefs, Kafka, Bears, Trubisky

The Cardinals finally made the decision to insert Josh Rosen into the game last week, giving the public their first look at the last of the ‘Big Four’ quarterbacks to make an appearance. All four of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Rosen are starters now, and Rosen was the last to see game action. The Cardinals’ plan had reportedly been to continue to start Sam Bradford moving forward, but he played so poorly that he forced Arizona’s hand.

Apparently for Cardinals coaches, Rosen’s command of the huddle in his brief relief appearance last Sunday “was the final piece of the puzzle in deciding to the pull the trigger on the quarterback switch” reports Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer notes that Cardinals sources told him Rosen has “been outstanding of late in practice”, and it sounds like they have full confidence in the rookie signal caller. The tenth overall pick from UCLA will get his first start this Sunday at home against the Seahawks.

Here’s more from Breer’s latest column:

  • The Dolphins have shocked everyone with their 3-0 start, and Breer has identified at least one reason behind the unexpected strong first few weeks. “There was an effort from coach Adam Gase, EVP Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier to get faster” across the board. Breer points to the team’s offseason addition of speedsters Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and Jerome Baker as evidence of the identity change.
  • Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka is a “name to keep an eye on” according to Breer in future coaching searches. Reid apparently assigned Kafka, then a quality control coach, to do one-on-one work with Patrick Mahomes last year, and thinks quite highly of him. Reid has an extensive coaching tree of former assistants, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kafka, a former quarterback under Reid in Philadelphia, become the next one.
  • Scouts are concerned that Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is too quick to tuck and run, and isn’t processing the field, according to Breer. Breer writes that “Trubisky seems to be making a single read, and running if it’s not there”, and that his processing ability had previously been seen as one of his biggest strengths coming out of college.

Coaching Rumors: Giants, Texans, Chiefs

New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will call his own offensive plays in New York but still plans to hire an offensive coordinator, and Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski is a “strong candidate” for the position, sources tell Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Stefanski, of course, worked under Shurmur in Minnesota, and is now a candidate to take over Shurmur’s old role with the Vikings (where he’d presumably get the opportunity to call games). Minnesota, however, is also considering former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell and Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for its coordinator job, so if Stefanski isn’t promoted, he could conceivably bolt for New York. Meanwhile, Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley is a “name to watch” for the Giants’ OC position, while ex-Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin could also “be in the mix,” per Vacchiano.

Here’s more on the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • Former Raiders and Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano will join the Texans as a linebackers coach, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Specifically, Pagano is now a senior defensive assistant who will coach outside linebackers, while Bobby King — already on Houston’s staff — will coach inside ‘backers, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link). Pagano, the brother of former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, spent five years as the Chargers’ DC before landing with the Raiders in 2017. When Oakland fired Ken Norton Jr. midway through last season, Pagano stepped in as the club’s defensive coordinator.
  • The Chiefs will promote offensive quality coach Mike Kafka to quarterbacks coach, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Kafka, 30, originally entered the league as a 2010 fourth-round of Andy Reid‘s Eagles and went to play for six other clubs before hanging up his cleats. He coached at Northwestern (his alma mater) before joining Kansas City’s staff in 2017. Reid’s coaching tree is obviously impressive, and the past two men to serve as quarterbacks coach under his employ — Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy — are now head coaches with the Eagles and Bears, respectively.
  • The Titans also have a new quarterbacks coach: former Texans offensive assistant Pat O’Hara, tweets John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, who adds ex-Texans defensive assistant Shane Bowen is now Tennessee’s outside linebackers coach. O’Hara interviewed for the Bears’ quarterbacks coach job earlier this year, but Chicago ended up retaining Dave Ragone for the role. Meanwhile, new Titans assistant coach Kerry Coombs will indeed lead defensive backs in Tennessee, meaning he’ll coach the same position group that he did at Ohio State, tweets Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel offered incumbent secondary coach Deshea Townsend a job as Coombs’ assistant (read: a demotion), but Townsend will instead leave the club.
  • The Panthers have hired Air Force defensive coordinator Steve Russ as their new linebackers coach, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Russ will replace Al Holcomb, who followed Steve Wilks to Arizona earlier this week to become the Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator. Although he enjoyed a four-year pro career, the 45-year-old Russ has never coached at the NFL level. He’s been at Air Force since 2012, and previously spent time at Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Ohio. Carolina has also added former Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same role, reports Omar Ruiz of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Coaching Notes: Kafka, Chiefs, Bucs, 49ers

After a bit of a lull, today was a busy day for coaching moves. We first learned that the Falcons would be hiring Alabama’s Steve Sarkisian to replace Kyle Shanahan as the team’s offensive coordinator. Later, it was reported that the Rams were bringing in Matt LaFleur as their new offensive coordinator.

Of course, there were plenty of other coaching moves today, and we’ve compiled all of those below…

  • Former quarterback Mike Kafka has been hired by the Chiefs as an offensive quality control coach, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The 29-year-old spent six years in the NFL after being selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, as he has an obvious connection with current Kansas City (and former Philadelphia) head coach Andy Reid. Kafka spent the 2016 season serving as an offensive graduate assistant with Northwestern, his former college.
  • The Chiefs have also hired Rod Wilson as their new assistant special teams coach, reports Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter). The former NFL linebacker will be replacing Brock Olivo, who was hired as the Broncos special teams coordinator earlier this offseason. The 2005 seventh-round pick spent six years in the NFL with the Bears, Buccaneers, and Jaguars.
  • The Buccaneers have promoted Ben Steele to tight ends coach, reports ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine. The former NFL tight end spent the past three seasons serving as Tampa Bay’s offensive quality control coach. “We’re fortunate that we have a qualified coach like Ben already on our staff and are able to fill this role from within. He earned it through the quality of his work,” said head coach Dirk Koetter (via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times on Twitter). “Ben played the position at the NFL level and has spent a great deal of time with our tight ends on the practice field and in the meeting room. We know he will do an excellent job leading that group going forward.”
  • The 49ers have released their entire strength and conditioning staff, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. This includes director of human performance Mark Uyeyama, strength, conditioning and nutrition assistant Kurt Schmidt, and strength and conditioning assistants Brian Johnson, Taylor Johnson and David Young. We learned last week that Uyeyama would be leaving the organization, and (as Maiocco notes on Twitter) Brian Johnson’s departure was evident after he took a job with Texas A&M. The reporter notes that Taylor Johnson “is still in play” to remain on Shanahan’s new staff.
  • Former NFL defensive end Andre Carter will meet with the Dolphins regarding their assistant defensive line coach vacancy, reports Alex Marvez of The Sporting News. After being selected in the first-round of the 2001 draft, Carter spent 13 seasons in the NFL with the 49ers, Redskins, Patriots, and Raiders. Marvez notes that the 37-year-old spent the 2015 season as a student assistant coach at the University of California.

Workout Notes: 12/30/15

Here are Wednesday’s workouts from around the NFL:

  • The Jets worked out defensive lineman Devon Still, receivers Marcus Thigpen and Eric Rogers, linebacker Willie Jefferson and defensive end/LB Tristan Okpalaugo (Twitter links via ESPN’s Rich Cimini).
  • The Cardinals tried out center Taylor Boggs, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • The Bills worked out defensive end/linebacker Xzavier Dickson, Wilson tweeted. Dickson ended up joining Atlanta’s practice squad.
  • The Bengals worked out quarterback Mike Kafka and tight end John Peters, per Wilson (on Twitter).
  • The Browns tried out quarterback Dustin Vaughan, running back Timothy Flanders, receivers Eric Rogers, Ricky Collins and Levi Norwood, and safety Jordan Kovacs (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Quarterback Ryan Lindley, defensive linemen Warren Herring and Eze Obiora, and linebacker Ryan Mueller worked out for the Colts, according to Wilson (Twitter link). They signed Lindley afterward.
  • The Giants worked out linebackers Cole Farrand and Glenn Carson – the latter of whom they signed to their practice squad – quarterback Pete Thomas, safety Ty Zimmerman, punter Spencer Roth and kicker Quinn Sharp (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • The Steelers tried out two safeties, Ray Vinopal and Jake Hagen, and linebacker Marquis Spruill (via Wilson on Twitter).
  • The Chargers worked out receiver Jeff Fuller, defensive end DeAngelo Tyson and linebacker Dexter McCoil, Wilson tweeted.
  • The Titans worked out receiver Kenny Stafford, defensive end Freddie Bishop, defensive backs Aaron Grymes, Steven Clarke and Emanuel Davis, long snapper Dax Dellenbach and kicker Swayze Waters (Twitter link via Wilson).

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/29/15

Here are Tuesday’s practice squad signings and cuts from around the NFL:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Signed: RB Kevin Monangai (Twitter link via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer)

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: CB Kyle Sebetic (link via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com)

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/22/15

Here are Tuesday’s practice squad signings and cuts from around the NFL, with new moves added to the list throughout the day:

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Minnesota Vikings

  • Signed: LB Alex Singleton (Twitter link via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press)

New York Jets

San Diego Chargers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Signed: WR Deshon Foxx, WR Antwan Goodley (Twitter link via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times)
  • Cut: DT Justin Hamilton

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/16/15

Here are Wednesday’s practice squad signings and cuts from around the NFL, with the latest moves added to the list throughout the day:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Indianapolis Colts

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

  • Signed: WR Shane Wynn (Twitter link via Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com)

Philadelphia Eagles

San Diego Chargers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington

Vikings Trim Roster To 75 Players

TUESDAY, 9:10am: The Vikings are now down to 75 players, having waived/injured quarterback Mike Kafka, according to the team (Twitter link). He’ll land on the team’s injured reserve list if he clears waivers.

MONDAY, 2:13pm: The Vikings have announced two more moves today, removing another two players from their active roster. According to a team release, Minnesota has waived/injured tackle Carter Bykowski, who will be out for the year with a pectoral injury, and placed cornerback Josh Robinson on the reserve/PUP list, meaning he’ll miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

SUNDAY, 6:30pm: The Vikings have moved closer to securing their 75-man roster, announcing that they’ve cut 11 players:

  • Joe Banyard, RB
  • Brandon Bostick, TE
  • Jalil Carter, CB
  • Justin Coleman, CB
  • DaVaris Daniels, WR
  • Stephen Goodin, OT
  • Josh Kaddu, LB
  • Jordan Leslie, WR
  • Caesar Rayford, DE
  • Chrishon Rose, DT
  • DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB

They currently have 78 men on the roster, and will need to cut an additional three players in time for the Tuesday deadline.

NFC Mailbags: Cousins, Boykin, Lions, Vikings

It’s Saturday morning, and that means ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags and answering questions from readers. Let’s take a look at some notes from the NFC…

  • John Keim believes quarterback Kirk Cousins is on Washington‘s roster come the season opener. However, the writer opines that the organization’s long-term quarterback is currently not on the team.
  • Cornerback Brandon Boykin could have some value if the Eagles decided to shop him, says Phil Sheridan. Prior to the draft, the writer believes the team could fetch a fourth or fifth-round pick. Following the draft, when team’s begin to evaluate their biggest holes, the Eagles could potentially get a third-rounder in return.
  • The Lions could seek some veteran help on the offensive line, but Jake Long or Joe Barksdale might be long shots to join the team, writes Michael Rothstein. If neither player proves to be an upgrade over LaAdrian Waddle, Rothstein believes the organization will pass.
  • The Vikings could select a quarterback in one of the middle rounds, but Ben Goessling says the team may have already gotten their developmental signal-caller when they acquired Mike Kafka.