The Bengals have already announced that starting quarterback Joe Burrow‘s season is over after he suffered a thumb ligament tear. The only information left to report on Burrow’s situation is that he is set to undergo wrist surgery tomorrow, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The expectation is that Burrow will be able to make a full recovery in time for the 2024 season.
On the administrative side of things, Rapoport also reports that the league is “investigating if Cincinnati should have listed Burrow on its injury report prior to” the game in which he seemingly suffered the season-ending injury. The night before the team’s matchup in Baltimore, Burrow was shown on a team social media post with an apparatus on his right wrist before the post was taken down. That same wrist is the one receiving surgery tomorrow. Rapoport says that the Bengals have “turned in hours of footage to the NFL showing that Burrow was healthy prior to the game.” The team’s doctors claim that the injury was acute and not one that happened over time.
The team opted to run Burrow’s offense and playbook in Jake Browning‘s first career start. The Bengals coaches had full confidence in Browning running the offense but still planned to run the ball a bit more than usual to take some pressure off his shoulders. Browning and the Bengals would lose to Pittsburgh, but Browning would complete 19 of 26 pass attempts for 227 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The plan to run the ball a bit more fell through as limited possession time and offensive success led to only 11 carries.
Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC North, staying in Cincinnati for a beat:
Another position for the Bengals experienced a change in starter as defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo announced rookie third-round pick Jordan Battle as the team’s starting strong safety over Nick Scott earlier this week, per Kelsey Conway of USA Today. Scott still had a role in today’s game but played a clear second fiddle to Battle. Asked what about Battle made him the choice at starter, Anarumo claimed it was his tackling ability.
Another AFC North starting quarterback underwent surgery for their season-ending injury as the Browns‘ Deshaun Watsonhad a procedure done on his shoulder earlier this week, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. Watson is expected to be healed in time to start the 2024 season.
A big story in the struggles of the Steelers’ offense this year has been the frustration of wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Those frustrations reportedly boiled over after last week’s loss to the Browns, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, leading to a heated argument with star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick that needed to be broken up by teammates Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt. Johnson only had two catches on the day and was visibly upset on the sideline as he engaged in an animated conversation with head coach Mike Tomlin. Johnson’s annoyance would continue as he was later seen “chirping” at the coaches all the way to the locker room after the game before being confronted by Fitzpatrick. Perhaps the firing of former offensive coordinatorMatt Canada helped to cool Johnson down, as Johnson received eight targets today.
Robert Griffin IIIspoke about the vacancy created by Watson requiring season-ending shoulder surgery on his RG3 and The Ones podcast (video link). Despite not having played since the 2020 season, the ESPN analyst stated his case for receiving a look one day prior to the Flacco visit.
“The Browns should start me as quarterback,” Griffin said. “One, at 33 years old, I understand the game better than I ever have in my entire career. I know how to slide, and I know when to slide. That was a huge issue in my eight years in the NFL. But I’ve learned. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m ready to showcase that I can get it done.”
The former Offensive Rookie of the Year last saw time as a backup with the Ravens in a stint which followed his one-year run with the Browns in 2016. Griffin was courted by a number of networks once his playing days appeared to be over, leading to his highly-anticipated arrival at ESPN. The former No. 2 pick has maintained, however, an openness to retuning to the field in the event an opportunity presented itself.
The Browns will rely on rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinsonand XFL alum P.J. Walkerfor the time being. That pair has made 10 combined starts in the NFL, a far cry from Griffin’s 42. Flacco, by contrast, has 180 starts to his name, including nine in the past three seasons during his time with the Jets. The latter would thus represent a more known commodity, and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com confirms Flacco was the Browns’ “primary target” with respect to depth under center.
As Cabot notes, Flacco would be seen as an emergency option in the event Thompson-Robinson were to struggle as a starter, potentially even receiving a look ahead of Walker if a deal were to be worked out. No agreement is in place yet, but it would come as little surprise if one were to emerge in the coming days. In any case, Watson’s recovery from his displaced glenoid fracture – a separate shoulder injury from the one affecting his rotator cuff for much of the 2023 season – will be a key Cleveland storyline.
On that point, Cabot adds that Watson should be able to resume throwing within a few months as part of his rehab process. That should be complete well before training camp for the 2024 campaign, the third of Watson’s fully-guaranteed, $230MM pact. That contract carries major cap implications for Cleveland, but for now attention will remain on the team’s current QB situation. That will not include Griffin, though he clearly still has the door open to an NFL return.
NOVEMBER 16: Watson will undergo surgery performed by renowned doctor Neal ElAttrache next week, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. A full recovery is expected, while Cabot adds that a six-month timeline will likely be needed for Watson to receive clearance for a return to football action. Whether or not he undergoes open or arthroscopic surgery will play a role in determining the length of his absence, but the fact Watson will not play again until 2024 represents a major blow to Cleveland’s short-term prospects.
NOVEMBER 15: The Deshaun Watson shoulder saga will bring a pivotal plot twist. Despite making the past two starts, the highly paid Browns quarterback sustained a setback during the team’s win over the Ravens. An MRI has since confirmed an injury that will end Watson’s season.
Watson will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, according to the Browns. The team announced Watson sustained a displaced fracture in the glenoid. Watson had previously missed time because of a micro tear in his rotator cuff. After returning earlier this season and then helping the Browns erase a two-score deficit in Baltimore, he will not make another comeback.
In addition to the shoulder trouble that has defined Cleveland’s season, Watson is battling a high ankle sprain. The shoulder surgery will allow time for that matter to clear up as well, and the 6-3 team will be without its high-profile trade acquisition. The Browns will need to turn back to P.J. Walker, who usurped Week 1 backup Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The team will add a third QB, per GM Andrew Berry, but Walker is expected to be the starter moving forward.
The latest shoulder setback occurred in the second quarter Sunday, Berry said. The fracture was not viewed as a worsening of the torn right rotator cuff, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. Berry said Wednesday morning (via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero) Watson indeed suffered a “completely new injury.” Watson’s upcoming surgery will not address the rotator cuff matter, Berry said.
While a full recovery is expected, this matter obviously threatens the Browns’ viability as a Super Bowl LVIII contender. Although Cleveland ended San Francisco’s unbeaten run without Watson and prevailed in Indianapolis after he left that game, Walker being asked to move forward as the full-time starter will deal a substantial blow to the rejuvenated team. The Browns are 4-1 in games Watson has finished this season.
After returning prematurely against the Colts in Week 7, Watson wanted to receive pain-killing injections and continue to play through this latest shoulder injury, Cabot reports. While this situation had previously involved the lightning-rod quarterback being cleared and not playing, Cabot notes Watson received information that his shoulder could could fall apart if he sustained another hit in the same spot. Multiple medical opinions led to this shutdown decision.
This is the second season of Watson’s five-year, $230MM fully guaranteed contract. The Browns restructured it in March, moving money into the mid-2020s and creating whopping cap figures post-2023. The team dropped Watson’s 2023 cap hit to $19.1MM, but the restructure inflated the 28-year-old passer’s 2024-26 cap numbers to $63.9MM. The Browns will likely push more money on this unprecedented contract into the future, but 2023 represented a key window — especially now with the team’s Jim Schwartz-run defense dominating — for the franchise.
The Browns, of course, traded Josh Dobbs — their handpicked 2023 backup — to the Cardinals before the season. Viewing Thompson-Robinson as ready to back up Watson, Cleveland sent Dobbs west in a swap that included a fifth-round pick coming back. Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-rounder out of UCLA, did not end up being ready to hold down the fort with Watson out. The Browns benched him after a blowout loss to the Ravens in Week 4. Walker has fared better, but the Browns’ non-Watson QBs carry a 1-to-8 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio this season.
Dobbs has since been moved to the Vikings and has helped the team to two wins since arriving. Dobbs said recently he expected to be traded to the Vikings or back to the Browns, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who adds it not believed Cleveland was a true threat to reacquire the veteran backup. At the time, the Vikings — who had just lost Kirk Cousins to a season-ending Achilles tear — featured a greater need. Watson’s shoulder issue naturally made the Browns’ setup rather tenuous, but the team stood down at the deadline.
Cleveland has now lost Watson, Nick Chubb and right tackle Jack Conklin for the season. The team has managed to persevere without Conklin and Chubb, who were lost for the year in September. Watson has been a major part of that, though he has not recaptured the form he had displayed before the career-altering run of sexual misconduct and/or sexual assault accusations altered his reputation and led him out of Houston. Watson, however, had begun to play better in his latest return effort. He finished the Ravens game 20 of 34 for 213 yards and a touchdown, but the bulk of those incompletions came early. Watson rallied the Browns back from a 24-9 second-half deficit, completing his final 14 passes and leading a game-winning drive that culminated in a Dustin Hopkins field goal.
The Browns, who also recently placed left tackle Jedrick Wills on IR, exited Week 10 with a 63% chance to qualify for the AFC playoffs, according to ESPN’s FPI. They improved their chances in the loaded AFC North with the win in Baltimore, and while this injury may not crush the team’s wild-card hopes, it marks another disappointment for a franchise that absorbed considerable heat for acquiring Watson in the first place. The NFL then handed the embattled QB an 11-game suspension, extending his hiatus — which began when the Texans made him a healthy scratch throughout the 2021 season — well into the 2022 slate.
The Browns won a trade derby that consisted of the Falcons, Saints and Panthers. After it appeared Watson was set to choose Atlanta, Cleveland upped its extension offer to that $230MM guarantee proposal. Not only did the NFC South teams balk at that point, the ensuing run of big-ticket QB extensions did not follow suit. Lamar Jackson‘s pursuit of a fully guaranteed deal did not prompt the Ravens to match the Browns’ Watson terms, and the other QBs who signed for $50MM-plus per year do not come close in terms of fully guaranteed money. The Browns went 7-10 in Watson’s first year in Ohio, which came after an 8-9 campaign that ended up running Baker Mayfield out of town.
Mayfield playing through an injury to his non-throwing shoulder for most of the 2021 season moved him from a QB on the extension radar to one dealt for a fifth-round 2024 draft choice. The Browns also let Jacoby Brissett, who once again served as a team’s emergency replacement, defect to the Commanders in free agency. They had re-signed Dobbs — Brissett’s 2022 backup — in April but will move forward with Walker, who arrived just before the season. The Bears had released Walker previously, going with Division II-developed rookie Tyson Bagent behind Justin Fields.
Walker, who returned to the NFL in 2020 after a quality run in the abbreviated second XFL incarnation, has piloted the Browns to two wins. But the 28-year-old passer has completed just 49% of his throws this season. Watson ranks only 23rd in QBR and has endured steady hurdles in his road back from his defining midcareer issues, but his latest absence may well derail this year’s promising Browns edition.
The Saints played much of the second half of their loss to the Vikings today without quarterback Derek Carr after the veteran passer took a nasty-looking hit from Danielle Hunter. It was announced that he was out for the remainder of the game with an injury to his throwing shoulder and that he was being evaluated for a concussion, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Further reports, provided by Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football, claimed that while the initial belief is that Carr avoided a major shoulder injury, he will undergo more tests in order to determine the severity. Head coach Dennis Allen told the media that Carr was only held out of the game because of a concussion, per ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, and refused to comment any further on the situation.
In Carr’s absence, former starter Jameis Winston performed admirably. He only completed just over half of his pass attempts for 122 yards and threw two interceptions, but he also threw the team’s two touchdowns in order to bring the Saints within spitting distance of the Vikings. Despite Winston’s seemingly superior effectiveness, Allen assured the media that, when Carr is healthy, there is no quarterback competition.
Lastly, veteran cornerback Marshon Lattimore left the game, as well, with what is believed to be an ankle sprain, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. He will undergo an MRI tomorrow in order to determine the severity of his ankle injury.
Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL:
Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was forced to leave the field at times today during the Browns come-from-behind victory over the division-rival Ravens. He suffered an ankle injury late in the first half of the contest and, though he remained in the game for stretches at a time, he was noticeably limping at times. After the game, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported that Watson was in a walking boot. Watson claimed that while “he doesn’t feel great now…(he’ll) be fine” and should be ready to go next weekend.
Yet another quarterback was forced to leave their game today due to injury when the Falcons‘ new starting passer, Taylor Heinicke, was forced to leave early in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. This required Atlanta to return to former starter Desmond Ridder for the remainder of the contest. Ridder was fairly effective, leading the Falcons on a touchdown drive before failing to convert the two-point attempt that would’ve given the team a three-point lead. The team would go on to lose by those two points after Arizona kicked a game-winning field goal. This likely doesn’t change the team’s quarterback situation, if Heinicke is healthy enough to play, but hamstring injuries can be lingering and might open up more opportunities for Ridder.
In a blowout loss to Dallas this afternoon, Giants outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux was knocked out of the game with a concussion, per NFL Network’s Jane Slater. Thibodeaux’s absence opened up some playing opportunities for Boogie Basham, who saw an increased role due to injuries last week, as well.
In and out of the lineup over the past several weeks, Deshaun Watsonis set to make his latest return to the field on Sunday. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski announced Watson will be the team’s Week 9 starter.
Watson was a full participant in practice Friday, and he is off the team’s injury report altogether. Today’s news comes just one day after he admitted (via ESPN’s Jake Trotter) to being “unsure” of his availability against the Cardinals. During that media session, he also acknowledged his start against the Colts in Week 7 marked a premature return to action.
The 28-year-old re-injured his throwing shoulder early in that game, and the team elected to keep him sidelined for the remainder of the contest. That marked the latest aggravation of Watson’s strained rotator cuff, an injury which he picked up in Week 3. It has caused numerous developments in the time since, with Cleveland at times electing to sit him despite being cleared and at others taking the more cautious approach with their franchise passer. P.J. Walkerhas filled in for Watson, though his performances have left plenty to be desired in spite of the team’s 2-1 record over the past three games.
Walker has thrown five interceptions and one touchdown during his time in Cleveland this year while completing 49.5% of his passes. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson did not fare well in his regular season debut, either, so the Browns are lacking in proven options behind Watson on the depth chart. For that reason, it came as a surprise to many that Cleveland did not pursue a QB addition before this week’s trade deadline. Of course, that will become a moot point if Watson is able to remain healthy for the rest of the season.
The three-time Pro Bowler was never seriously considered an IR candidate during his recovery, and the Browns’ decision to avoid at least a four-week shutdown left him with a day-to-day evaluation status leading up to Friday’s announcement. In the second year of his fully-guaranteed, $230MM deal, Watson’s ability to not only remain healthy but deliver an uptick in performance relative to his showings early in the campaign will be critical.
It still remains to be seen who Watson and the Browns will face in Week 9. The Cardinals dealt Josh Dobbs to the Vikings on Tuesday, leaving either Clayton Tuneor Kyler Murrayin place to take on first-team duties. The latter has yet to make his season debut, but he will need to be activated from the PUP list in the coming days to be eligible to play at any point in the campaign. Regardless of what happens regarding Arizona’s QB situation, though, Cleveland’s has now become clearer.
OCTOBER 29: Watson is still expected to avoid an IR stint, per Schefter and Dianna Russini of The Athletic. A source tells Schefter that Watson is unlikely to be sidelined for more than two weeks, while Russini hears that Watson is “day-to-day.”
OCTOBER 25: The Browns will push back Watson’s second comeback attempt, with Kevin Stefanski ruling him out for Sunday’s Seahawks matchup. Walker, whom the Browns signed to their active roster today, will make another start. Stefanski confirmed (via NFL.com’s Andrew Siciliano) Watson has residual swelling after leaving Week 7 early but reiterated the latest MRI showed no additional structural damage.
Also, in addition to the practice squad acquisition of Jordan Wilkins yesterday, Cleveland enlisted further reinforcements at running back today, signing Nate McCraryto the practice squad, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. With Chubb on IR and Ford doubtful for Sunday, McCrary will compete with Wilkins for a potential opportunity to be elevated and play behind Hunt and Strong in Seattle this weekend.
Watson continues to deal with movement limitations, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who adds this particular injury can shelve pitchers for between four and six weeks. Doctors have informed Watson this is typically a four- to six-week injury. Watson sustained the injury against the Titans in Week 3 and missed Week 4 after a Saturday MRI revealed the extent of the malady. After Cleveland’s bye week, Watson rested again. Despite returning to practice last week, Watson remains far from 100%.
Sunday’s Seahawks matchup will mark five weeks from the initial injury, though it is unclear how much Watson set his recovery back by returning to face the Colts. The Browns have not decided on a course of action with their $230MM quarterback.
Watson, of course, enjoys unrivaled security due to his fully guaranteed contract. Rushing back would make little sense through that lens. A collision with Colts defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo led Watson out of the Browns’ Week 7 matchup, with Cabot adding the QB’s velocity was down due to this injury affecting his shoulder rotation. The 2022 trade acquisition entering concussion protocol came about because of the independent neurologist; he was cleared of a head injury soon after. But this shoulder problem persists.
If Watson cannot go, the Browns would again turn to P.J. Walker, whom they bumped ahead of Week 1 backupDorian Thompson-Robinson earlier this month. It is fairly clear this issue will linger for the foreseeable future, which could lead to more Watson absences for the 4-2 team. For Walker to play in Week 8, the Browns must sign him to the 53-man roster. The ex-Panthers backup has made the rare transition from gameday elevation to to QB1, but the team has used up his three allotted elevations this season.
Additionally, the Browns are expected to be without running back Jerome Ford for a bit. The initial Nick Chubb replacement suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday, per Schefter, who classifies this as a “low grade” sprain that is likely to sideline the second-year back a week or two. The Browns signed Kareem Hunt in the wake of Chubb’s knee injury, and they acquired Pierre Strong from the Patriots before the season. Hunt logged 10 carries (for 31 yards) last week; Strong totaled eight (for 25).
The Browns won a shootout against the Colts in Week 7, the contest which marked Deshaun Watson‘s return to action. That did not last long for the Cleveland quarterback, however, as he exited the game early.
Watson took a hit in the first quarter which appeared to reaggravate his shoulder injury. That ailment led to a surprise deactivation in Week 4, and was later diagnosed as a micro tear in his right rotator cuff. The Browns adopted a week-to-week approach with their high-priced passer, understandably proceeding with caution given his importance to the team’s offense (especially with star running back Nick Chubbout for the season).
After a brief evaluation period, Watson was cleared to return to the game , head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed when speaking to reporters. It was out of an abundance of caution, he added, that he decided to keep Watson sidelined and turn to P.J. Walkerunder center to finish the game. The latter went just 15-of-32 for 178 scoreless yards and one interception, but a late drive helped lead the Browns to victory.
“I want to go out there and try to help the team as much as possible,” Watson said when asked about the move to keep him on the bench after his brief return to the lineup, via NFL.com’s Michael Baca. “Go out there and play and perform and compete. The decision was best for the team. They felt that was the best. P.J. did a great job of finishing the game.”
Watson added that more testing will take place on Monday, with the hope being that no new damage to his throwing shoulder will have been done. As of now, though, Stefanski is confident he will be able to return to QB1 duties in Week 8 against the Seahawks. If that doesn’t turn out to be the case, Cleveland will again have Walker and fifth-round rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinsonin place as options at the position.
Today’s game moved the Browns to 4-2 largely on the strength of their elite defense. Watson’s availability will go a long way in determining their potential on offense, though, so it will be interesting to see what is revealed in the coming days once more is known about his status. Given the team’s cautious approach, though, it should be expected at this point that he will be able to suit up in Week 8.
Missing another Browns practice, Deshaun Watson provided details on his shoulder injury Wednesday. The seventh-year passer said he suffered a micro tear in his right rotator cuff, which the Akron Beacon Journal’s Chris Easterling notes amounts to a strained shoulder. Previously called a bruise, Watson’s injury will threaten to keep him sidelined for a third game. Watson’s hiatus did not begin until the Browns ruled him out hours before their Week 4 game. Watson said an MRI conducted the night before revealed he was battling more than a bruise.
Kevin Stefanski confirmed the obvious, after a 49ers upset, that P.J. Walker will remain the team’s backup. Watson added that he has been told this micro tear will not develop into a bigger injury that requires season-ending surgery, but the well-paid QB is resting to ensure he can throw without restrictions. Although Watson himself expressed hesitancy regarding a return Sunday, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes the Browns are optimistic their top QB will be back. Watson has been cleared to play for weeks, but he and the team are believed to be on the same page regarding his return plan.
Here is the latest from the quarterback landscape:
Bouncing on and off the Bears‘ 53-man roster, Nathan Peterman is on the team at the moment. His yo-yoing between the practice squad and the active will pause for the time being, with Justin Fields doubtful for Week 7 with a dislocated thumb. Peterman, however, will serve as the backup to rookie UDFA Tyson Bagent, Matt Eberflus confirmed (via The Athletic’s Adam Jahns). Hailing from Division II Shepherd, Bagent replaced Fields in Week 6. Fields’ absence may last longer than one week, via SI.com’s Albert Breer, though it is still too early to tell here. Eberflus confirmed the team is still considering a surgery, which would redefine the team’s season.
It does not look like Daniel Jones will be able to go in Week 7. The fifth-year Giants quarterback continues to feel neck and left shoulder soreness and has not been cleared for full work. Though, Jones has been cleared to throw, Brian Daboll said. He just has not been cleared for contact, per the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz. Jones missed the final six games of the 2021 season because of a neck injury, one that led Daboll to New York to replace Joe Judge. Daboll said Jones’ season is not in jeopardy. Tyrod Taylor remains in place as the Giants’ backup, with Daboll reminding there is no competition between he and Jones for the starting role.
Stashed on the Patriots‘ practice squad until mid-October, Malik Cunningham played six offensive snaps against the Raiders in his NFL debut. The rookie UDFA may be in line for a bigger role soon. The Patriots’ coaches are discussing ways to increase the quarterback/receiver option’s usage, ESPN’s Dan Graziano writes. The Patriots have struggled in just about every facet offensively, sinking to 1-5. Cunningham flashed in the preseason. With Mac Jones and his wide receivers not making notable impacts, Cunningham would seemingly be worth a try as a gadget player.
The Chiefs updated Patrick Mahomes‘ contract in September, providing a necessary adjustment after the QB market had passed the two-time MVP since his 10-year, $450MM extension came to pass in July 2020. Mahomes remains the only NFLer signed into the 2030s, and Fowler adds some agents have wondered if the Chiefs are using their superstar quarterback’s lengthy deal as a precedent in other players’ negotiations. The Chiefs engaged in extensive Chris Jones negotiations this offseason, failing to agree on an extension. Though, money was believed to be a bigger factor than contract length. Kansas City, however, did see contract length factor into its talks with Orlando Brown Jr. last summer. The Pro Bowl left tackle balked at a six-year offer worth $139MM, citing dissatisfaction with the guarantee. Rather than what would have been a seven-year commitment to the Chiefs, Brown hit free agency and signed a four-year, $64MM Bengals deal this offseason.
While one-game injuries are not usually worthy of mention, the Giants‘ situation at offensive line this week is a wild exception. It would be difficult to look back and find a more dire example of desperation on a depth chart. With regular starter Andrew Thomas and primary backup Matt Peart already designated out for tonight’s game against the Bills, according to Ryan Dunleavy of NY Post Sports, any other adjustments to availability could prove disastrous.
Semi-luckily for New York, the team’s other regular starter, Evan Neal, who was questionable coming into today, will be available to play tonight, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The Giants’ other projected starter will be Joshua Ezeudu, who has struggled mightily as of late. Beyond those two, Marcus McKethan is the only other tackle listed on the depth chart, while Yodny Cajuste and Jaylon Thomas sit on the practice squad but weren’t elevated for today’s game.
Things could get ugly if Neal tweaks his knee or if the offensive line faces any further adversity. Hopefully, this is only just a one-week issue that the Giants will be clear of following this week’s trip to Buffalo.
Here are a few other injury updates from around the league:
After a blazing hot start to his NFL career, Dolphins rookie running back De’Von Achane was placed on injured reserve this week after suffering a knee injury. Based on the league’s rules for returning from IR, Achane wouldn’t be eligible for activation from the injury list until after the team’s Week 10 bye. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, that’s exactly when Achane plans to come back. Achane’s absence isn’t expected to be any longer than necessary as Miami is expecting a Week 11 return for the 22-year-old.
We reported this week that Dolphins cornerbacks coach Sam Madison had faith that we may see cornerback Jalen Ramsey return from knee surgery as early as November. That opinion was confirmed today by multiple sources. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Ramsey is far ahead of schedule and that a return by Week 11, after the team’s bye week, is not out of the question, allowing the star defender to play in Miami’s final eight games of the regular season. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Ramsey could return to practice as soon as this week, cautioning that the team may still choose to ease him back in “gradually” but that an early return is becoming more and more feasible.
Browns quarterback Deshaun Watsonhas been week-to-week while missing the team’s last two games with a shoulder injury. While that status doesn’t really change with Schefter’s recent report that Watson could return as soon as next week, Schefter did specify that Watson is dealing with a subscapularis muscle contusion in the rotator cuff of his throwing shoulder, making it difficult for him to drive the ball down the field. According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, Cleveland is being “smart” with Watson, whom it views as its franchise quarterback.
Watson has been nursing a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the team’s fourth game of the season. He had technically been cleared to play in the divisional matchup but opted instead to rest and allow his shoulder to heal. While a timeline for Watson’s return is unclear to the public, the Browns and their 2022 trade acquisition appear to be on the same page. Time will tell when Watson gets back to the field, but for the time being, Cleveland will have to turn elsewhere for their quarterbacking needs.
Thompson-Robinson, the fifth-round rookie out of UCLA, may not be who they look to moving forward. In his lone NFL start, albeit against a stout Ravens defense, Thompson-Robinson struggled with three interceptions to zero touchdowns. After a bye week of rest and preparation, Cleveland may believe he has a better chance for success in Week 6, but it will likely have to be off the bench.
Instead, it’s become seemingly clear that the Browns will turn to Walker, the former XFL standout passer, until Watson can return. Walker started seven games for the Panthers over the last three years, going 4-3 in those starts. He struggled in his initial transition back to the NFL, throwing only two touchdowns to eight interceptions in his first two seasons back. Last year, though, in five starts, Walker showed improvement.
Walker is surely not a viable long-term option if the Browns are hoping to make a return to the playoffs. Until Watson is able to make his comeback, though, Cleveland will trust Walker’s experience and XFL success over Thompson-Robinson for now. Thompson-Robinson still showed a lot of promise in the preseason and earned a lot of faith from the coaches. He may just need a bit more time to develop his NFL game. For now, expect Walker under center.
Joining Walker as a standard gameday elevation from the practice squad will be Jaelon Darden. Darden has appeared in 23 games so far in his still young NFL career, only making eight catches for 69 yards. While he hasn’t been necessarily effective on offense, he’s averaged 9.4 yards per punt return and has experience returning kickoffs, as well.