Mitchell Trubisky

Extra Points: Okung, Trubisky, Bucs

Chargers left tackle Russell Okung intends to run for NFLPA president, sources tell Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. This development is notable because, while CBA negotiations between the owners and the union have been progressing smoothly thus far, Okung is said to be vehemently opposed to a 17-game schedule and is open to a work stoppage in order to get the best possible deal for the league’s players.

The 17-game schedule may be the last major sticking point holding up a new CBA, but if a new agreement is not in place by the time current union president Eric Winston’s term expires in March, and if Okung were to be elected, negotiations could stall. Winston cannot be re-elected because he hasn’t played for the past two seasons.

A recent NFLPA investigation revealed that Okung gathered and disseminated confidential information in violation of the union’s constitutions and by-laws, but Okung denies those allegations.

Now for more news and notes from around the league:

  • On Monday, the Fritz Pollard Alliance issued what Florio calls the strongest statement it has made since the Rooney Rule was promulgated. The statement reads in part, “[w]e were painfully reminded through this past hiring cycle that attaining diverse leadership in the NFL can only happen through the willful actions of the team owners and decision makers. The abysmal record of hiring people of color in high ranking levels of NFL management is a reminder of the dark periods of civil rights history. The League has only one African-American General Manager. There are no African-American club presidents.” The Redskins hired a minority when they tabbed Ron Rivera as their new head coach, but the Fritz Pollard Alliance believes worthy minority candidates like Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy continue to get overlooked.
  • Mike Sando of The Athletic takes a look into the upcoming fifth-year option decisions that teams will have to make on their 2017 first-rounders. The entire piece is worth a read, and it’s notable that most of Sando’s sources believe the Bears will exercise the $25MM option on QB Mitchell Trubisky.
  • The Buccaneers worked out cornerback Tre Roberson, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Roberson, who played quarterback in college and who was last with an NFL team in September 2017, recorded seven interceptions for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders this year. Recent reports suggested that Roberson would be back in the NFL in 2020 and that over 10 teams were interested in the converted signal-caller.

North Notes: Stafford, Trubisky, Garrett, Steelers

The Lions have discussed shutting down Matthew Stafford for the season because of his back injury, but that is not what the quarterback wants, and he still is hoping to play again this year, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. According to Schefter, not only does Stafford want to play, but he is, in the words of one source, “maniacal” about it.

Stafford, 31, missed his third straight game this afternoon against the Washington Redskins, which ended in a 19-16 loss. Jeff Driskel once again filled in for Stafford, throwing for an ugly 207 yards, with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, with Driskel throwing one of those interceptions at a crucial moment in the 4th quarter with one minute left to play. Before today’s loss, Driskel had started two games, throwing for 478 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

With the fractures in Stafford’s back, surgery is not considered an option, says Schefter. The injuries are potentially chronic, and Stafford knows that the pain, which he has dealt with dating back to last season, could be an issue for him for years to come. But Stafford still wants to return to play this season, despite knowing the risks involved.

It’s unlikely he will be able to return in time for the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day game against the Bears, with Driskel set to make that start.

Here are some more notes from the North:

  • Despite his lackluster play and injury concerns, the Bears are “still firmly behind” Mitchell Trubisky, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Rapoport goes on to say that the organization feels the entire offense needs to play better, not just Trubisky. Trubisky suffered a hip injury in last week’s loss to the Rams, but made the start in this afternoon’s 19-14 win over the Giants. In the win, the former second overall pick threw for 278 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, while also rushing for a score.
  • Although Myles Garrett‘s suspension was upheld and he will miss the rest of this season, the NFL is hopeful and optimistic that the Pro Bowl pass rusher will not miss any games next season, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Schefter goes on to say that the NFL has mandated that Garrett must meet with the commissioner’s office during the offseason, and the NFL is doing that because it wants to see how he reacts to the lengthy suspension after the brawl that he was a part of earlier this month against the Steelers. Since losing the appeal, Garrett stands to lose about $1.2MM in salary for missing the six remaining games this season.
  • After the Steelers benched quarterback Mason Rudolph for Devlin Hodges in their 16-10 win over the Bengals this afternoon, Mike Tomlin said he felt like the offense just needed a spark, and that “Mason wasn’t doing enough.”, relays NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Tomlin would go on to say they’ll “see what next week holds”, with regard to his starting quarterback for next week’s matchup against the Browns. Hodges, a rookie out of Samford University, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent this past spring and was promoted off of the practice squad after Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, finished the game 5-of-11 for 118 yards and a touchdown in the comeback win. Before being benched, Rudolph was struggling, completing just 8 of 16 pass attempts for 65 yards and an interception.

 

Extra Points: Sanu, Brown, Bears, Lock

The Patriots‘ revolving receiver cast may be set for more adjustments. Mohamed Sanu may well be battling a high ankle sprain, according to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. While that is not confirmed, the recent trade acquisition did not practice Wednesday and is listed on New England’s injury report. A high ankle sprain would stand to sideline Sanu for multiple games. The Pats have cycled through numerous receiver combinations this season, with Julian Edelman being the only constant. Phillip Dorsett is in the Pats’ concussion protocol, meaning Edelman’s supporting cast against the Cowboys may be fronted by rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers.

Here is the latest from around the NFL, moving first to a player not currently in the league.

  • Antonio Brown launched a countersuit against Britney Taylor, the first of two women to make sexual misconduct claims against the free agent wide receiver. Taylor filed a civil suit against Brown earlier this year, alleging sexual assault, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports Brown’s case will center around defamation and interference with NFL contract and endorsement opportunities. Brown remains hopeful the NFL will clear him soon; he met with the league last week. But a recent report gave Brown a long-odds chance of playing again this season.
  • Mitchell Trubisky was a full participant at Bears practice Wednesday, despite being removed from Sunday night’s game with a hip injury. Matt Nagy said he does not intend to bench his starter and plans to play him this week against the Giants. “We want him to be out there this week as the starter,” Nagy said, via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m hoping that’s the case. … These types of injuries, you get to a point where they are literally day to day and it becomes about where you’re at with the pain and how we manage that.”
  • Brandon Allen has helped spark the Broncos‘ offense, but the team would stand to benefit from Drew Lock debuting soon. Vic Fangio added an interesting stance Wednesday, indicating he does not think it’s “vitally important” the rookie passer plays this season, via Mike Klis of 9News. However, the Broncos do plan to activate Lock from IR either next week or in Week 14, per Klis. Denver selected Lock in Round 2 but saw its Joe Flacco investment fail, leading to more uncertainty at a long-troublesome position for the franchise. The Broncos could again be linked to top quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, just as they were in 2018 and ’19.
  • One of the Falcons‘ IR-return slots will go toward a punter. Longtime punter Matt Bosher returned to practice, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). Atlanta’s ninth-year punter cannot return to action until Week 13.
  • After placing fullback Nick Bawden on IR, the Lions worked out several fullbacks. Tommy Bohanon, Derrick Coleman, Tre Madden, Aaron Ripkowski auditioned for the Lions, per Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter).

Latest On Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky

The Bears announced that starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky left Sunday night’s loss to the Rams due to a right hip injury. While Trubisky was not pulled until there was 3:24 remaining in the game, the team said the third-year signal-caller actually sustained the injury late in the second quarter.

However, there is plenty of skepticism as to whether an injury really led to Trubisky’s removal. He was in the midst of another disappointing performance in a year full of them, and it could be that head coach Matt Nagy wanted to bench him but did not want to embarrass him, so he either invented or exaggerated the severity of the injury. As Adam Jahns of The Athletic writes, Trubisky spoke after the game like a quarterback who was benched, not hurt. Although Jahns believes the injury was legitimate — Trubisky was walking with a noticeable limp — it also sounds as though it was something he could have played through if he was playing better.

But it’s not as if the Bears have a better option. Trubisky’s backup, Chase Daniel, is a 33-year-old journeyman who has started all of five games in his career. Plus, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune opines, Chicago needs to see what it has in Trubisky throughout the remainder of the year so that it can fully evaluate its quarterback situation moving forward. As we discussed last week, the 2020 QB market could be more robust than usual should the Bears decide to go shopping, so before they move on from the 2017 No. 2 overall pick, they should make sure he is not the long-term answer.

After all, Trubisky played fairly well in 2018, posting 24 TDs against 12 interceptions to go along with a 95.4 quarterback rating. 2019 has been a disaster, as the offense has frequently stagnated under his watch, but it’s not unreasonable to think he can turn it around if Nagy gives him the opportunity to do so. It seems much will depend on Trubisky’s right hip and Nagy’s faith in Daniel.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Joseph, Callaway, Dozier, Bears QB

The Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph underwent surgery on his meniscus, according to Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Joseph, who did not play in Minnesota’s 28-24 victory against the Cowboys, has been on the team’s injury report since Week 7 with a knee injury, but had yet to miss any practice until last Thursday.

On a positive note, Joseph has not been placed on injured reserve and Goessling and Krammer cite sources within the organization that are optimistic he will return soon. With their bye coming in Week 12, Goessling and Krammer note the Vikings Week 13 matchup with the Broncos as a possible target date for Joseph’s return.

Here’s more updates from the teams in the AFC and NFC North:

  • Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway was benched shortly before the team’s game against the Bills for tardiness on Sunday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Cleveland still managed to pull out the 19-16 victory without Callaway, but the offense surely could have benefited from another dynamic receiver on the field. In Cabot’s report, a source told her that Callaway parked in a different lot than usual and arrived a few minutes late.
  • The Vikings plan to move forward with Dakota Dozier at right guard if starter Josh Kline has to miss more games with a concussion, according to Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Dozier replaced Kline after he left Sunday’s matchup against the Cowboys with concussion like symptoms. Kline was diagnosed with a concussion and is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Dozier has already started three games this season along Minnesota’s offensive front.
  • If the Bears decide to move on from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this offseason there will be a plethora of strong veteran options, according to Dan Pompei of The Athletic. Pompei details ten signalcallers with varying degrees of past success. While free-agency seems poised to offer more viable options than usual, the play of young quarterbacks around the league has potentially pushed some other established veterans onto the trade market as well. Sitting at 4-5 and in third place in the NFC North, Chicago’s playoff hopes are dwindling by the week. Trubisky, in his third NFL season, has garnered the brunt of the criticism for the team’s underwhelming performance.

North Notes: Ravens, Elliott, Bears

The Ravens lost another safety Sunday, with DeShon Elliott going down in the team’s win over the Bengals. Like Tony Jefferson last week, Elliott looks to be facing a season-ending malady – head coach John Harbaugh expects the second-year defender to miss the rest of the season.

With Baltimore down to third-year player Chuck Clark and veteran backup Anthony Levine, Harbaugh said the Ravens looking for outside help at safety is now “very possible,” per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter). A 2018 sixth-round pick, Elliott missed all of his rookie season due to injury as well.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Good news for the Bears: quarterback Mitch Trubisky was back throwing in practice on Monday for the first time since dislocating his shoulder. Trubisky went down hard on his left shoulder in Week 4, leaving Chase Daniel as the team’s starter for the time being. Daniel and the Bears fell to the Raiders last time out, leaving them 3-2 on the year. Off of their bye, they’ll face the Saints on Oct. 20.
  • Bad news for the Bears: Head coach Matt Nagy says Kyle Long will not return this season. This was the expected news after the right guard landed on IR for the fourth straight season.
  • The Vikings want to bring back wide receiver Davion Davis, either on the active roster or the practice squad, if he clears waivers on Monday, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. Davis was cut this week to make room for the promotion of linebacker Cameron Smith, who was chosen in the fifth round of this year’s draft.

Injury Updates: Trubisky, Smith, Hockenson, Allen, Ingram, Mack, Stills

Perhaps the most significant injury of Week 4 afternoon games was Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky going down. Trubisky went down hard on his left shoulder, and was quickly ruled out before returning to the sideline with his arm in a sling. Bears coach Matt Nagy didn’t offer many details after the game, but he said he didn’t expect the injury to be season-ending, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). While it certainly could be worse, that does seem to suggest that the Bears expect Trubisky to miss at least a little time. Chase Daniel will fill in under center.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Bears linebacker Roquan Smith was surprisingly inactive for the team’s win over the Vikings, and Nagy said after the game Smith’s absence was for personal reasons, Pelissero tweets. Nagy wouldn’t elaborate and wouldn’t say whether Smith’s personal issue would extend beyond this week. This will be something to monitor, as Smith is a key part of Chicago’s defense.
  • Lions rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson took a hard hit in Detroit’s loss to the Chiefs, and was ruled out with a concussion. The Lions drafted Hockenson eighth overall back in April, and he’s shown a lot of promise in the first few games. He had three catches and a touchdown before going down against Kansas City, and is a big part of Detroit’s passing game. Hopefully he’ll be able to get cleared in time for Week 5.
  • Speaking of concussions, Bills quarterback Josh Allen suffered one on a brutal hit in Buffalo’s loss to the Patriots. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game and if he can’t get cleared by next week, Matt Barkley will be under center. Allen was struggling before getting hurt and had thrown three interceptions, but Barkley wasn’t much better in relief.
  • The Chargers’ injuries continued to pile up, as star pass-rusher Melvin Ingram left their game against the Dolphins and was quickly ruled out with a hamstring injury. Los Angeles was already one of the most banged up teams in the league, so this was the last thing they needed. Head coach Anthony Lynn said after the game that Ingram pulled a hamstring and they didn’t know how long he’d be out, according to a tweet from Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com.
  • Colts running back Marlon Mack tweaked his ankle, but it doesn’t seem serious. Mack only had two carries in the second half, but he said after the game it was just “coach’s decision” to hold him out and that he expects to be fine for Indy’s Week 5 game against the Chiefs, according to Charlie Clifford of WISH 8 (Twitter link).
  • Texans receiver Kenny Stills left his team’s loss to the Panthers with a hamstring injury, but it’s unclear how severe it is. After the game, head coach Bill O’Brien said the team would have to wait until Monday to determine the severity, per a tweet from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Stills would be a big loss, but Houston would still have a very solid receiving corp in Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins, and Keke Coutee without him.

Bears QB Mitch Trubisky To Start Vs. Rams

The Bears expect to have quarterback Mitchell Trubisky under center when they face the Rams on Sunday, as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Chicago has struggled with Chase Daniel at QB for the last two games and Trubisky’s return is expected to give them a boost. 

Daniel was sharp in a Thanksgiving win over the Lions, but the Bears were upset by the Giants last weekend in a close contest. Daniel is regarded as one of the better backup QBs in the NFL – despite his lack of actual playing time in recent years – but things just didn’t click for Chicago with Daniel at the helm.

I think it’s a transition for our own players on offense,” head coach Matt Nagy said on Thursday. “All of a sudden you have a new teacher, right? A substitute teacher comes in, and it’s a different voice and you’re trying to figure out, ‘Do I like this teacher or not?’ ”

Trubisky, 24, threw for 20 touchdowns against nine interceptions before a shoulder injury took him out of action. Of course, his six TD/zero INT performance against the Bucs boosted that ratio, but he’s been playing solid football on the whole this year.

The Bears already have a 94% likelihood of making the playoffs, according to Five Thirty Eight, but a win against the star-studded Rams would clinch a postseason berth and move them even closer to the divisional crown. A combination of a Bears win and a Vikings loss would pretty much seal up the NFC North for Chicago, allowing them to rest key players down the stretch.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky Out For Week 13

The Bears will once again turn to quarterback Chase Daniel when they face the Giants on Sunday, as starter Mitchell Trubisky will sit out with an ongoing shoulder injury, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Per Garafolo, Trubisky is healthy enough that he could play if Chicago allowed it (although he’s still not throwing, tweets James Palmer of NFL.com). But playing it safe is probably the right decision for the Bears, especially given their playoff position and their opponent in Week 13. Not only does Chicago have a 96% chance of earning a postseason berth and an 83% chance to win the NFC North (per FiveThirtyEight.com), but the club is a four-point favorite on the road against New York.

Making his first start since the 2014 campaign, Daniel completed 27-of-37 attempts against the Lions in a Thanksgiving Day victory. Daniel, who inked a two-year, $10MM contract with the Bears during the offseason, tossed two touchdowns against the Lions, and while he certainly doesn’t offer the upside of Trubisky, he is capable of managing wins, especially with the NFL’s top defense supporting him.

The Bears don’t believe Trubisky’s injury is a long-term issue, and given how close he was to playing this week, it stands to reason he’ll be available when Chicago takes on the Rams in Week 14. After that pivotal matchup, the Bears will close out the season against the Packers, 49ers, and Vikings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Rumors: Bears, Nagy, Ravens, Vikings

It’s still unclear if Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will be available to face the Giants on Sunday, but Chicago is confident Trubisky’s shoulder injury won’t turn into a long-term issue, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com tweets. Trubisky missed the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Lions, but Chicago was still able to manage a victory with backup Chase Daniel under center. The Bears have a 98% chance of earning a postseason berth and an 83% chance to win the NFC North, so they may not want to risk Trubisky’s health in what could be another easy win against New York. Trubisky did practice on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), although it was in a limited fashion.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • While Trubisky might be healthy enough to play on Sunday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco almost certainly won’t be ready for Week 13. Flacco, who is still dealing with a hip issue that has cost him two games, didn’t practice on Wednesday and appears likely to sit out Sunday, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). First-round rookie Lamar Jackson, who has led Baltimore to two victories in his first two starts, figures to be under center again when the Ravens take on the Falcons. Meanwhile, offensive lineman James Hurst returned to practice on Wednesday after being sidelined since mid-October, reports Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Matt Nagy will lead the Bears against the Giants on Sunday, but New York never showed any interest in hiring him as a head coach during the offseason, as he told reporters — including Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link) — on Wednesday. That’s in line with PFR’s 2018 Head Coaching Search Tracker, which shows Nagy only interviewed with the Colts and Bears. The Giants, meanwhile, met with Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, Steve Wilks, Eric Studesville, and Steve Spagnuolo before hiring Pat Shurmur. Nagy, for his part, could take home Coach of the Year depending on how Chicago’s season ends.
  • Speaking of current Bears coaches, Chicago is worried it could lose defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this offseason, as Jay Glazer of The Athletic writes. Fangio has interviewed for two head positions in the past, but both have been with clubs that already employed him (Bears in 2018, 49ers in 2015). While he didn’t land either of those gigs, Fangio could be in line to move into a head coaching role after that’s currently ranked first in DVOA by a relatively wide margin. As Glazer writes, however, Fangio’s age (60) could work against him as many clubs are searching for younger coaches.
  • By going over the 100-catch mark on Sunday, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen triggered an escalator in his contract, tweets Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Thielen, who inked an incredibly team-friendly extension last spring, will now see his 2019 base salary increase from $3.85MM to $5.85MM. If he tops 90 receptions in 2019, Thielen will boost his 2020 salary from $5.35MM to $7.35MM.