Charlie Jones

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/16/23

Here are Thursday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Waived from reserve/retired list: LB Myles Jack
  • Waived from reserve/suspended list: T Bernard Williams

The Bengals are without Tee Higgins for a second straight game. They added two wideouts to their active roster and are using their first injury activation this season, bringing Jones back after an IR stay. Cincinnati placed Jones on IR in late September due to a thumb injury. A fourth-round rookie who played at three Division I-FBS schools (Buffalo, Iowa, Purdue), Jones worked as the Bengals’ punt returner early this season. The Day 3 rookie made an early impact, already notching a return touchdown in his three-game work sample.

Chicago added Evans in October, doing so just after Khalil Herbert sustained an injury that required an IR stint. With Roschon Johnson also missing two games due to a concussion, Evans saw increased work behind D’Onta Foreman in the Bears’ depleted backfield. With Johnson back, Evans has seen just six offensive snaps in each of the past two games. This cut looks to lay the groundwork for the Bears activating Herbert soon. On IR due to a high ankle sprain, Herbert would represent the Bears’ final injury activation this season. They would be the first team this year to use all eight.

A productive player in Jacksonville, Jack spent last season in Pittsburgh before being released in March. The Eagles took a flier on the former second-round pick during training camp, signing both he and Zach Cunningham. While Cunningham has managed to move from a months-long free agency stay to a Philadelphia starter, Jack opted to retire in August. Were the UCLA alum to continue his career, the Eagles no longer hold his rights.

In a strange bookkeeping transaction, the Eagles also removed their 1994 first-round pick from the reserve/suspended list. Philly used Williams as a 16-game starter in 1994, when he protected QBs Randall Cunningham and Rodney Peete in Rich Kotite‘s final season as HC. A 1995 drug suspension led to Williams’ career ending.

Latest On Bengals’ WR Corps

NOVEMBER 12: Chase will be active for today’s bout with the Texans. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that Chase “did what was necessary” in his warmups this morning to get the green light.

NOVEMBER 11: Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be a bit shorthanded coming into a battle with an excited Texans team. We know that much. We learned yesterday that the team’s second-leading receiver, Tee Higgins, will be held out as he deals with a hamstring injury. Today, it was confirmed that rookie receiver and return specialist Charlie Jones, who has been on injured reserve for Cincinnati’s last five games, has been downgraded from questionable to out, per Jay Morrison of Pro Football Network.

Already down two wide receivers, things could potentially become even more dire for the Bengals offense if star wideout Ja’Marr Chase is unavailable to play tomorrow. According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, Chase, who is listed as questionable after being limited in practice while dealing with a back injury, will be a true gametime decision, working out Sunday morning in order to determine whether or not he will be able to play.

If Chase is unable to go tomorrow, that will leave Cincinnati with an active roster lineup of Tyler Boyd, Trenton Irwin, and sixth-round rookie Andrei Iosivas. That trio has combined for 51 catches, 424 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. Chase alone has 64 receptions for 697 yards and four touchdowns. His presence against the Texans could be crucial in keeping a hot Bengals team rolling.

Knowing that they will be extremely short-staffed, Cincinnati has elected to promote two practice squad wide receivers as their standard gameday elevations, choosing Stanley Morgan and undrafted rookie Shedrick Jackson. Morgan has been with the team for the last five seasons, catching five balls for 29 yards over that time. Jackson would be making his NFL debut tomorrow after averaging 13.2 yards per catch over a five-year college career at Auburn.

We should know more tomorrow about the Bengals’ full situation at wide receiver, most notably Chase’s availability. Burrow and the rest of the offense will have to be at their best knowing that the wide receiver corps will be a bit thin.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/8/23

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Houston Texans

Minnesota Vikings

Seattle Seahawks

Cory Littleton is back in Houston. The linebacker already got into six games with the Texans this season, mostly playing on special teams. After getting cut in late October, he caught on with the Saints practice squad and quickly earned a promotion on Sunday. This time around, Littleton should be sticking in Houston, at least temporarily. The Texans are required to keep the LB on their active roster for at least three weeks.

The veteran had a productive stint with the Rams to begin his career. He spent four years in Los Angeles, including a two-year stint between 2018 and 2019 where he averaged 129 tackles per season.

AFC North Notes: Burrow, Lamar, Ravens

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow took a big step towards a return to normalcy with a strong performance in today’s win over the Cardinals. Still, he is not back to 100 percent and, according to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, he’s likely still a few weeks away from that.

Cincinnati has been working with the understanding that Burrow’s calf injury is continually improving with time, as long as he doesn’t tweak it, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano. They’re risking reinjury by continuing to put him on the field, but they aren’t hindering his recovery, and they likely feel his presence, even if not fully healthy, is more impactful than the QB2, Jake Browning‘s.

With one more game standing between them and a bye week, the Bengals will be counting on Burrow to avoid reaggravating his calf for one more week in order to get to a two-week rest that should really help him get back to full-strength.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC North, starting with another injured Bengal:

  • Cincinnati rookie return man Charlie Jones was placed on injured reserve a little over a week ago after sustaining a thumb injury. Jones underwent surgery a few days ago, per Jay Morrison of Pro Football Network, and expects to make a return as soon as he is eligible after the four-week period. This should put Jones back on the active roster in time for the team’s Week 9 matchup against the Bills.
  • Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has remained healthy through five weeks this season, but it sounds like Baltimore isn’t taking any chances. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, head coach John Harbaugh reiterated that the team is committed to keeping three quarterbacks on their roster. With the injuries in recent years to Jackson, and subsequently to the backup quarterbacks, having multiple backup options has likely become a necessity.
  • Baltimore long snapper Nick Moore was set to play out a contract year in 2023 before suffering a torn Achilles tendon in offseason training. Since Moore will be spending the entire season on the team’s reserve/non-football injury list, the Ravens decided to sign him to a one-year extension, pushing his free agency until after the 2024 season.

Bengals Place WR/PR Charlie Jones On IR

The Bengals are losing a bit of special teams depth for the next few weeks after making the decision to place wide receiver and return specialist Charlie Jones on injured reserve. The NFL’s top punt returner so far this year will be forced to miss at least the next four games as he deals with a thumb injury, according to ESPN’s Ben Baby.

Jones has bounced around the northern US quite a bit in the past six years, transferring schools twice from Buffalo to Iowa to Purdue before finally being drafted by the Bengals in the fourth round of this year’s draft. At Buffalo, he made his biggest impact on kickoff returns. Three years later, he excelled returning both punts and kicks for the Hawkeyes before finally getting a chance to shine on the Boilermakers offense, where he caught 110 passes for 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns.

So far this season, Cincinnati has used Jones almost exclusively on special teams, specifically on punt returns. In fact, over the first two weeks of the year, he only returned punts as Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd continue to hold down most of the offensive snaps for the team’s receiving corps.

A Week 2, 81-yard punt return for a touchdown in a loss to the Ravens really underscored Jones’ potential with the team, and the Bengals rewarded him with three offensive snaps in their Monday night win over the Rams a week later. He took advantage of the small opportunity, catching one of two targets for six yards. Currently, Jones leads the league in all punting categories with eight returns for 150 return yards for a yards per return average of 18.75 with a touchdown, most of this thanks to the aforementioned home run return against Baltimore.

So, the league’s leading punt returner will have to sit out a quarter of his rookie year. In his absence, and with former punt returner Trent Taylor now in Chicago, the team could turn to Trenton Irwin who returned a few punts for Cincinnati two years ago.

Bengals Finish Draft Class With Wave Of Signings

Trailing only the 49ers and Cowboys (who didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds to sign), the Bengals were the third team this year to announce the signing of their entire rookie class. All this despite only having signed one pick coming into today, announcing the second before noon earlier in the day. Having already agreed to rookie deals with first-round defensive end Myles Murphy and fifth-round running back Chase Brown, the team’s announcement today reveals the signing of six other draft picks.

Cincinnati double-dipped on outside playmakers on both sides of the ball in this year’s draft. They used their second-round pick to select Michigan cornerback DJ Turner and their seventh-round pick on Miami cornerback DJ Ivey. Turner provides some immediate starting ability on both the perimeter and at nickel. Ivey may not project as an immediate starter, but he has an ideal frame and can contribute if given enough opportunity. Also in the secondary, third-round safety Jordan Battle¬†should be able to compete with Daxton Hill for a starting spot alongside Nick Scott in the defensive backfield.

They doubled-up on wide receivers, as well, selecting Purdue’s Charlie Jones¬†in the fourth round and Princeton’s Andrei Iosivas in the sixth. The Bengals are pretty set in their starting wideouts with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, but Jones and Iosivas provide some strong backup options. Jones, a former walk-on at Iowa who led the country in receptions last year at Purdue, should have a strong path to a roster spot as a backup receiver and returner. He should be able to challenge Trent Taylor and Trayveon Williams for returning duties on both punts and kicks. Iosivas provides the Cincinnati offense with yet another tall, lengthy receiving option on the outside.

In the sixth round, the Bengals also went after Michigan punter Brad Robbins. The team relied on practice squad punter Drue Chrisman last year after moving on from long-time punter Kevin Huber. Robbins should provide some strong competition for Chrisman for the starting punter duties. Here is Cincinnati’s 2023 draft class:

Round 1, No. 28: Myles Murphy, DE (Clemson) (signed)
Round 2, No. 60: DJ Turner, CB (Michigan) (signed)
Round 3, No. 95 (from Chiefs): Jordan Battle, S (Alabama) (signed)
Round 4, No. 131: Charlie Jones, WR (Purdue) (signed)
Round 5, No. 163: Chase Brown, RB (Illinois) (signed)
Round 6, No. 206: Andrei Iosivas, WR (Princeton) (signed)
Round 6, No. 217 (from Chiefs): Brad Robbins, P (Michigan) (signed)
Round 7, No. 246: DJ Ivey, CB (Miami) (signed)