The Patriots appear to be putting their cornerback depth to good use. One of the Pats’ corners, Joejuan Williams, is now attending meetings exclusively as a safety, Michael Giardi of NFL.com tweets. New England’s 2019 second-round pick, Williams only played 80 defensive snaps as a rookie. But the Vanderbilt product was stuck behind the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones. Those three are back in 2020, but the Pats’ safety group looks considerably different.
The team’s longtime Devin McCourty–Patrick Chung–Duron Harmon trio is down to just McCourty, though the Pats did sign former Charger Adrian Phillips and drafted Kyle Dugger in Round 2. Dugger, however, played at a Division II school and has not had much time this offseason for on-field work. At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, Williams has the size to transition to safety. The Pats frequently used three safeties in coverage over the past several years.
Here is the latest from the AFC East:
Le’Veon Bell has not enjoyed a quality training camp, with Brian Costello of the New York Post rating the Jets‘ starting running back as the team’s third-most impressive back in camp — behind Frank Gore and rookie fourth-rounder La’Mical Perine. Bell enjoyed his worst season in 2019, but the Jets featured a bottom-tier offensive line. They have since made several upgrade attempts. The Jets have Bell under contract for three more seasons, but just one of them features guaranteed money. Bell, 28, is set to count $15.5MM against the Jets’ cap this season.
More than a week after bringing Donte Moncriefin for a workout, the Jets again summoned the wideout to their facility. Moncrief visited the Jets on Friday. This comes after the former third-round pick and veteran auxiliary wide receiver met with the 49ers. San Francisco went in a different direction, however. The 6-4 target amassed 668 receiving yards with the 2018 Jaguars but did not make an impact with the Steelers or Panthers last season.
The Jets’ wideout interest stems partially from being without Denzel Mims. The second-round rookie has missed all of the team’s work in pads, with The Athletic’s Connor Hughes noting Mims is not yet doing individual drills (subscription required). Mims suffered the injury during the team’s ramp-up period earlier this month. With 2020 already presenting unfavorable circumstances for rookies, Mims may well face an uphill battle to be an early-season contributor.
Dolphins first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene is competing with Jakeem Grant and recent addition Chester Rogers for return jobs, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. A cornerback out of Auburn, Igbinoghene notched two kick-return touchdowns in college. He did not return any punts at Auburn, however, so this would seemingly leave the punt-return competition to the two veterans. The elusive Grant has four NFL return TDs, including two on punt returns.
Fellow Dolphins rookie Solomon Kindley still has a chance to be one of the team’s starting guards, with Jackson noting that the fourth-round rookie may be a bit ahead of second-round O-lineman Robert Hunt. The Dolphins still view Hunt as a player who could contribute at both guard and tackle, while Kindley — the No. 111 overall pick out of Georgia — is showing well at right guard. The Dolphins signed Ereck Flowers to play left guard this offseason, and guard-tackle hybrid Jesse Davis may be set to again open as the team’s right tackle.
The Dolphins are picking up the pieces. They are hosting former Colts wideout Chester Rogers and one of their recent cuts, Ricardo Louis, on a visit, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
A former Browns rotational cog, Louis was a Dolphins cut less than two weeks ago. But Miami’s equation has changed, potentially opening the door for a Louis comeback effort. He has not played in a regular-season game since 2017.
Rogers has delivered more in the way of production, playing in 53 games for Indianapolis from 2016-19. The former UDFA caught 53 passes for 485 yards and two touchdowns in Andrew Luck‘s final season, which featured the Colts making a surprise divisional-round run.
Rogers, however, is coming off a season in which he suffered a knee fracture in December. Both receivers are expected to be given physicals, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter), so Rogers’ examination figures to be critical.
3:07pm: The Colts confirmed they will be without Rogers the rest of the way. Indianapolis will place him on injured reserve, Frank Reich said.
10:12am: Early tests revealed that Colts wide receiver Chester Rogers suffered a knee fracture that will likely end his season, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. However, Rogers will undergo further testing on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
Rogers, 25, has 16 catches for 279 yards on the year, including two touchdowns. He’s not the focal point of the Colts’ offense, but the Colts can ill afford to lose more wide receivers given T.Y. Hilton‘s ongoing injury issues. Hilton was missed Sunday’s game against the Titans and, at this time, it’s unclear as to whether he’ll be able to play against the Buccaneers in Week 15.
Following Sunday’s loss, the Colts are 6-6 with a 10% chance at reaching the playoffs, according to the odds at FiveThirtyEight. They’ll look to run the table and beat the odds as they wrap up the regular season against the Bucs, Saints, Panthers, and Jaguars.
Drafted to be the Texans‘ hopeful left tackle of the future, Tytus Howard has since been relocated to left guard (with Matt Kalilwinning the left-edge job) and has now broken a finger. The rookie blocker suffered the break in Houston’s preseason game against Detroit on Saturday night, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Coming from a Division I-FCS program, and tasked with learning one of the most difficult positions at which to acclimate in the NFL, Howard needs all the reps he can get early on in his career. But this malady is not expected to keep him out of the Texans’ Week 1 game against the Saints, Wilson adds. Howard is in line to be the team’s starting left guard. This injury, in theory, could force the team to adjust those plans.
Here is the latest from the AFC South, shifting to perhaps the division’s most important player:
Frank Reich does not want to wait much longer on Andrew Luck‘s recovery. The second-year Colts coach wants to name his Week 1 starter shortly after the team’s third preseason game, and while Luck doing pregame drills before Indianapolis’ second August contest was a positive development, this saga may not wrap up in a week. It’s been the side-to-side movements that have bothered Luck’s ankle and calf injuries most, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. But Luck not only did some lateral-movement work before Saturday’s game, Wells adds the 29-year-old passer has done workouts like that in private in recent days. The Colts, who will re-evaluate Luck midweek, are cautiously optimistic he will be available for Week 1.
Another AFC South talent is uncertain for Week 1, but Marqise Lee returned to Jaguars practice this week. This obviously increases the sixth-year wideout’s chances for being available come September. Doug Marrone expressed doubt about this recently, but Lee — sidelined throughout 2018 due to ACL damage — returned to work Saturday.
The Colts‘ injury situation at receiver has helped one of their incumbents. Once thought to be a bubble player, Chester Rogers is headed back to Indy’s 53-man roster. The former Ryan Grigson-era draft choice is the Colts’ top return man, Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson, on Twitter). Parris Campbell remains sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Erickson tweets.
Indianapolis’ revamped receiving corps will not includeReece Fountain. Reich confirmed the 2018 fifth-rounder underwent ankle surgery Friday and will miss the season (Twitterlinks via CBS4’s Mike Chappell).
The Titans are still deciding on their right guard. While veteran utility man Kevin Pamphile would seemingly have the inside track to start opposite Rodger Saffold next month, the team drafted Nate Davis in Round 3 and has 2017 sixth-rounder Corey Levin. Although Pamphile started opposite Saffold on Saturday, each of these players are in the mix. Former Dolphins draftee Jamil Douglasmay be in the running as well. Mike Vrabel does not plan to name a starter until after the Titans’ dress-rehearsal preseason game next weekend, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com notes. Douglas has not played in a game since 2016; Levin suited up for all 16 Titan games last season. An injury limited Pamphile to three 2018 contests (two starts).
Chester Rogers played a large role in the Colts’ offense last season, but that doesn’t look like it’ll be the case again in 2019. In fact, Rogers might not even be on the team.
Rogers’ status on Indianapolis’ roster is “very, very tenuous,” according to Stephen Holder of The Athletic. The Colts had T.Y. Hilton last year, but not much behind him. They rotated a series of lesser-known options as their number two, including Rogers. They made upgrading the receiving corp behind Hilton a priority this offseason, signing Devin Funchess to a big contract and draft Parris Campbell in the second round.
With Hilton, Funchess, Campbell, and Deon Cain looking like locks, Holder notes it’ll be an all-out battle for just one or two spots. Meanwhile, Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star writers that Rogers is competing with Zach Pascal for the punt-returning job and that whoever wins that competition will make the roster while the other could be cut.
While Rogers won’t have an easy path, he’s not going down without a fight. Holder writes that he was arguably “the best player on the field during Tuesday’s practice open to reporters,” and that “whether it was his diving sideline catch or his leaping, fingertip grab later in the workout, Rogers’ presence was felt throughout.” Rogers was often productive last year, so he’d likely draw a lot of interest on the open market if he were cut loose.
Back in March the Colts tendered him at the second-round level, showing they were worried about losing him to another team. Because of that he’s set to make $3.1MM in 2019, which could work against him when it’s time to trim rosters. In 16 games and ten starts last year, Rogers put up 53 catches for 485 yards and two touchdowns.