Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

West Notes: Carr, Broncos, Rams, 49ers

Derek Carr left Thursday night’s AFC West matchup early because of what Jon Gruden called a “significant” groin injury. The veteran Raiders quarterback’s rest-of-season status can be considered in doubt. Carr is facing a 10- to 14-day return timetable, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes. This puts his availability for next week’s pivotal Dolphins game in question, though Rapoport adds Carr will push to return for what could be an elimination game against another fringe AFC contender. Carr has not missed a game due to injury since 2017. The former MVP vote-receiving passer has only missed two regular-season games in seven years. Marcus Mariota played well in relief of Carr on Thursday, and Carr’s status going into next weekend stands to give the Dolphins some extra work due to the differences in the Raiders QBs’ skill sets.

Here is the latest from the West divisions, moving first to another team’s quarterback situation.

  • Drew Lock has shown some potential as a long-term answer this season — including last week in Charlotte — but ranks 28th in QBR and has thrown 13 INTs in 10 games. The Broncos sat out this year’s veteran QB market, but Troy Renck of Denver7 notes the team is likely to bring in a veteran to compete with Lock (or potentially replace him) next year. A similar batch of vets — Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston — on track to be available again would qualify as competition, and the Broncos were also high on Sam Darnold in 2018. A trade for Matthew Stafford, a scenario Renck mentions, would be to replace Lock. The Broncos have used four different Week 1 starting QBs since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, moving from Trevor Siemian to Case Keenum to Joe Flacco to Lock.
  • Sean McVay is not ruling out an Andrew Whitworth regular-season return, and it sounds like the Rams having their left tackle back for the playoffs is realistic. “Andrew is doing great,” McVay said. “He continues to amaze me. He’s somebody we could potentially really push to have him play whether it’s the (Week 17) Cardinals game or next week. If we’re fortunate enough to get an opportunity to play after the regular season, I think that’s the goal, but nothing’s guaranteed for us.” Whitworth suffered MCL and PCL tears Nov. 15 but was believed to be ahead of schedule on his recovery timetable.
  • A Rams positive COVID-19 test resulted in offensive lineman Bobby Evans and safety Nick Scott landing on the reserve/COVID list; they will miss Week 15, McVay said (via ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry, Twitter links). The Rams also held starting center Brian Allen and rotational pass rushers Justin Hollins and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo out of practice Friday, though McVay expects the latter trio to play Sunday.
  • The 49ers‘ Arizona arrangement will extend through season’s end. Santa Clara county extended COVID-19 restrictions that have prevented the 49ers from playing at Levi’s Stadium, but the Cardinals will permit their division rival to use the stadium for their Week 17 game against the Seahawks, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com notes. The 49ers will also be in Glendale next week but will do so as the road team against the Cardinals.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/5/20

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Rams Sign Kai Forbath, Place Ogbonnia Okoronkwo On IR

After rookie Sam Sloman missed another extra point on Sunday Night Football, it looks like the Rams are making a kicking change. Los Angeles is signing veteran Kai Forbath off Chicago’s practice squad, the team announced Tuesday.

In the corresponding roster move the team placed outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on injured reserve, meaning Sloman is still on the roster for now. The Rams will have Forbath compete with Sloman, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network tweets, so it doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere at the moment. With the Rams contending in the NFC, they clearly felt like they couldn’t wait on a rookie’s development. Forbath, who has extensive experience, was also on the Panthers’ practice squad earlier this year.

The 33-year-old spent the last few games of 2019 as the Cowboys’ kicker, making all ten of his field goal attempts and all ten of his extra points. His last full-time gig was in 2017 when he was the Vikings’ kicker for all 16 games. Before that he had stints with the Saints and Washington. He doesn’t have the strongest leg, but for the most part he’s pretty accurate and dependable. Rams coach Sean McVay was with him in Washington for a few seasons, so there’s familiarity here.

The Rams, of course, let Greg Zuerlein walk in free agency this past offseason after having him as their kicker for the past eight years. Okoronkwo is a 2018 fifth-round pick from Oklahoma who had been playing a real role on defense this season. Through five games he had been playing around 30 percent of the defensive snaps, picking up one sack. McVay said he expects Okoronkwo to miss 4-6 weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/6/18

Today’s minor moves:

Los Angeles Rams

New York Giants

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Smith, Vea, Cowboys, Receivers, Rams, Okoronkwo

The Buccaneers made a major change this week, firing much-maligned defensive coordinator Mike Smith and replacing him with Mark Duffner. The Bucs’ defense had picked up right where they left off in 2017, and had been an absolute sieve, leading for calls to fire Smith for weeks now. While Bucs fans will be happy that anyone other than Smith is calling the defense, some in Tampa Bay’s locker room apparently were hoping the team would go in a different direction for their interim coordinator.

There “was strong support by the players for Bucs DL Coach Brentson Buckner to take over the defense”, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). It’s notable that the team apparently didn’t go with the players’ first choice, and it will be interesting to watch how things play out with Duffner. His first test will be stopping Baker Mayfield and the Browns this Sunday.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Speaking of the Buccaneers, rookie first round pick Vita Vea will make his first ever start this Sunday, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Vea, the talented young defensive tackle from Washington, will start because Gerald McCoy is missing the game due to injury.
  • While Dallas’ lack of pass-catchers has been one of the biggest storylines in the NFL this year, it doesn’t sound like the Cowboys will be adding outside receiving help anytime soon. Owner Jerry Jones downplayed speculation they’d go after a veteran receiver, saying it’s “hard to do at this juncture, to bring in a position that needs the coordination that you have to have with the quarterback” and adding that “the farther you go into the year, then the harder it is to think about bringing a player in”, per Jon Machota of Dallas News. While Jones insisted the organization is “confident in the personnel that we have here”, it still wouldn’t be surprising if they were ultimately aggressive in the trade market.
  • Rams rookie fifth round pick outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo hasn’t been able to see the field this year as he’s been sidelined with a foot injury, but could be making his return soon. Okoronkwo has been practicing with the team, and the Rams will decide soon when to bring him back according to Lindsey Thiry of ESPN. The Rams’ pass-rush has been lacking this year, and Okoronkwo could potentially provide a big boost. Thiry reports that Rams coach Sean McVay is high on the young edge player.

Rams Announce Roster Cuts

The Rams have become the latest team to trim their roster to 53 by making the following transactions:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

Placed on PUP:

Placed on suspended list:

Rams Sign Entire Draft Class

As they seemingly do every year, the Rams have officially signed all of their draft picks on one day. Kristen Lago of TheRams.com reports that the organization inked all 11 rookies to their contracts yesterday. The list of players includes:

The Rams didn’t have picks in the first two rounds due to trades for wideouts. They were without a first-rounder due to the Brandin Cooks trade with the Patriots, and their second-rounder was used in the Sammy Watkins deal.

The trio of rookie linemen (Noteboom, Allen, and Demby) could end up seeing some playing time should anything happen to the Rams’ starters. The three players are ultimately competing with Cornelius Lucas, Austin BlytheAaron Neary, and Jake Eldrenkamp for backup reps.

Okoronkwo could see some time at outside linebacker if projected starters Matt Longacre or Samson Ebukam need to be replaced. The Oklahoma product is competing with Ejuan Price and Trevon Young for playing time.

NFC Notes: Julio, Panthers, Bucs, Rams

As expected, Julio Jones reportedly did not attend the opening day of Falcons organized team activities, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.

He adds head coach Dan Quinn will address the situation on Tuesday and did not respond to questions about the reports that Jones wants an update to his contract. Though he is absent, the two sides appear amenable and are likely to work things out in due time.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio speculates Jones, who has three years left on his current deal, could be trying to get the team’s attention after Matt Ryan‘s new contract is set to pay the quarterback ($30MM) twice the amount that Jones is to receive ($14.25MM). His current deal slots him in as the No. 8 receiver on the pay scale, behind players like Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins and Davante Adams.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap says that the word “update” could mean the Falcons moving money forward in Jones’ contract to make the team’s key player happy. On a team in win-now mode, the move could be seen as avoiding potential chemistry issues in the locker room. A recent example of this, according to Fitzgerald, is a similar situation with Antonio Brown and the Steelers.

“The Steelers twice moved money forward in Brown’s contract to prevent a player from being unhappy. In 2015 the Steelers moved $2 million from 2016 up to 2015 and in 2016 they moved $4 million from 2017 into 2016. Overall the team fronted him $4 million and then extended him in 2017.”

Regardless of what the course of action Atlanta chooses to pursue, it is unlikely to hinder it from fielding one of the top three receivers in the league in 2018.  

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Panthers sale to David Tepper is expected to go through without “any surprises,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told ESPN’s David Newton. Tepper needs 24 votes — 23 with the absence of former Panthers GM Jerry Richardson — on Tuesday when the 31 NFL owners convene. Richardson is unlikely to attend, but nothing has been set in stone.
  • Florida Football Insiders posted a list of potential free agent targets for the Buccaneers, and named DeMarco Murray and Kenny Vaccaro as possibilities. Murray would make for a solid one-two punch with rookie running back Ronald Jones, while Vaccaro would bring a veteran presence to a shaky pass defense.
  • Linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, the Rams‘ fifth-round pick, underwent surgery on his foot and is expected to return sometime during training camp, head coach Sean McVay told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry (Twitter link). Okoronkwo starred at Oklahoma in 2017, earning Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big 12 after logging 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

Draft Notes: Panthers, Penny, Impact Rooks

With their first-round pick, the Panthers ended up selecting Maryland wideout D.J. Moore. However, General Manager Marty Hurney told SiriusXM’s Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn that his team was considering several players with the pick, including Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley.

“Basically what we did, coming into the draft, we had a group of about five guys that we would be very happy with at 24 and we got our pick and three of those guys were there and it was a hard decision between Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore,” Hurney said. “I think that the difference to us is, and we think they’re both excellent wide receivers, is just D.J. Moore gives us a little different skill set than we had.”

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

  • Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller touched on a number of topics during his post-draft review. Notably, the reporter noted that the most surprising first-round selection was San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, who was taken by the Seahawks with the 27th pick. Miller notes that opposing teams didn’t value Penny as highly, and the reporter said the highest team grade (outside of Seattle) rated the running back as a second-rounder.
  • Miller reports that several players failed drug tests, causing them to fall in the draft or go undrafted. This grouping included cornerback Holton Hill, offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, and wideout Antonio Callaway.
  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper looked at several late-round rookies who could immediately make an impact with their new squad. Offensively, Kiper pointed to Patriots wideout Braxton Berrios, Colts running backs Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, and Steelers “Swiss Army knife” Jaylen Samuels. Defensively, Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, Eagles pass rusher Josh Sweat, Rams linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo led Kiper’s list.