JANUARY 4: O’Neill is believed to have suffered a partially torn Achilles, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The fifth-year tackle will miss the rest of the season. The partial tear is in addition to the calf injury O’Connell confirmed he sustained, per Andrew Krammer and Randy Johnson of the Star Tribune. O’Neill will undergo surgery.
Coming into this year, O’Neill had never missed an NFL game due to injury. He appears likely to miss some of the Vikings’ 2023 offseason program as well, with O’Connell adding he is hopeful a recovery before the start of next season will commence.
JANUARY 3: The Vikings lost two offensive line starters during a blowout loss to the Packers on Sunday, and both may be done for the season. The team placed right tackle Brian O’Neill and interior O-lineman Austin Schlottmann on IR on Tuesday, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets.
O’Neill left Sunday’s game due to a calf injury Kevin O’Connell called “pretty significant,” while Schlottmann — who had been filling in for injured center Garrett Bradbury — suffered a fractured fibula, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. While it can be safely assumed Schlottmann is done for the season, Tuesday’s transaction will sideline O’Neill for at least four games. Only a Vikings Super Bowl LVII trip could extend the veteran tackle’s season.
The team added former Rams guard Bobby Evans to the practice squad and signed veteran center Greg Mancz to its 53-man roster, but the losses of two starters — particularly O’Neill, who has been a Vikings first-stringer since the early part of his 2018 rookie season — stands to sting for a team that has relied on close wins to reach this perch. The Packers preyed on the Vikes’ vulnerable front in Week 17, a result that knocked the Vikings off their long-held No. 2 spot in the NFC. Minnesota now holds the conference’s No. 3 seed.
Minnesota’s offensive line features five homegrown first- or second-round picks, separating it from the rest of the league this season. Only one of those players, however, is signed to a long-term veteran contract. The Vikings extended O’Neill in 2021, giving the former second-rounder a five-year, $92.5MM extension. He has been a key part of Minnesota’s surge this season. Pro Football Focus rates both Vikings tackles — O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw — in the top seven at the position this season. O’Neill, who has started 75 games, checks in at No. 7.
Signed as a free agent after beginning his career in Denver, Schlottmann has become a key presence in Minnesota since Bradbury’s injury. Schlottmann started each of the Vikes’ past four games, matching his career-high total. Losing both he and O’Neill in the same game forced major adjustments to a line that had been healthy for most of this season.
A lower-back injury has sidelined Bradbury. While the former first-round center missed two games due to the injury sustained on the field, a December car accident affected his recovery. Bradbury said the minor accident caused his back to tighten up. O’Connell said Bradbury’s earliest return window will be in the playoffs, via ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert (on Twitter). Bradbury has not practiced since the Dec. 17 crash.
For now, offseason addition Chris Reed — a former Colts spot starter — is set to snap to Kirk Cousins. Fourth-year blocker Oli Udoh, a full-time guard starter for the 2021 Vikings, slid to tackle to replace O’Neill in Green Bay. A 2019 third-round pick, Evans made 12 starts for the Rams on his rookie contract. But the team did not view him as a regular option; its slew of O-line injuries this season led to four Evans starts. The Rams waived Evans this season. Mancz has made 32 career starts, most of them coming with the Texans.
The Browns are getting their offensive line back to full health after activating starting centerEthan Pocic from injured reserve. Pocic will return back to play after sitting out the required four games before returning from IR.
Upon his rookie contract expiring, the Seahawks’ former starting center signed a one-year contract with the team that drafted him in the second round in the 2017 NFL Draft. After that fifth year in Seattle, Pocic signed a one-year deal joining the Browns. Pocic became the team’s starting center and started every game until a knee injury sidelined him only two plays into the Browns matchup with the Bills back in November.
With Pocic out for the rest of that game, the Browns called on backup center Hjalte Froholdt to finish the contest. Froholdt would be depended on to start the next four games with Pocic on IR, as well. Now that Pocic has returned to the active roster, Froholdt will go back to his role as the first interior lineman off the bench for Cleveland.
It’s a big piece for the Browns to be adding back to their offensive line. Pocic has made significant strides during his time in Cleveland. After five fairly average years in Seattle where, at his best, Pocic ranked 15th out of 39 graded centers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Pocic is having a career year in Cleveland. Out of 39 graded centers this season, Pocic has graded out as the third-best in the league, combing his fourth-best 84.1 run blocking grade and his 17-ranked pass blocking grade. Pocic’s return will be a significant boost for quarterback Deshaun Watson, running back Nick Chubb, and the rest of the Browns offense.
To make room for Pocic on the active roster, the Browns have waived veteran reserve center Greg Mancz, who was signed to the roster when Pocic first got injured. Unrelated to the injury news, the Browns have also promoted linebacker Tae Davis as a standard gameday elevation for tomorrow’s matchup with the Saints. Davis will be playing in his third contest of the season.
November 22nd, 2022 at 11:59am CST by Adam La Rose
The Browns will be without a starter along the offensive line for an extended stretch. Head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that center Ethan Pocicwill miss multiple weeks as a result of a knee injury. The team has since announced that he will be placed on IR.
Pocic had played every snap so far this season before going down during the first drive of Cleveland’s loss to the Bills on Sunday. Along the way, the 27-year-old established himself as a vital member of the Browns’ offensive front, one which has paved the way for the fifth-ranked rushing attack in the league this season.
Individually, Pocic has enjoyed by far the best season of his career in terms of PFF rating. His overall grade of 83.0 is a new personal mark, up from the 67.3 he registered last season in Seattle. The LSU alum has also yet to commit a penalty across 630 snaps.
Pocic signed in Cleveland this offseason to provide experienced depth at the position, one which saw plenty of turnover for the Browns. Veteran J.C. Tretterwas released in a cost-cutting move, which opened the door to Nick Harristaking on the starting role. He suffered a major knee injury during the preseason, however, forcing Pocic into the first-team spot.
While the loss of the latter will certainly be felt by the Browns given his effectiveness (particularly in the run game), the team still has its top option available at every other o-line position (tackles Jedrick Willsand Jack Conklin, along with guards Joel Bitonioand Wyatt Teller). Stefanski said veteran Hjalte Froholdtwill slide over from right guard to center to fill in for Pocic moving forward, as he did on Sunday. Cleveland is signing veteran Greg Manczwith the roster spot opened up by Pocic’s IR placement.
Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Bills, Dolphins, Jets and Patriots moves are noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.
We heard about some of Buffalo’s bigger moves earlier today, including the release of O.J. Howard and Duke Johnson. Greg Mancz is one of the most experienced players to get cut, with the veteran having appeared in 63 games across seven NFL seasons. His positional versatility was expected to land him a roster spot as a backup offensive lineman, but the team ultimately opted for a younger option. Mancz certainly didn’t help his case when he missed the preseason finale while recovering from a foot injury suffered during practice.
Tanner Gentry and Alec Anderson are both candidates to return to Buffalo via the practice squad. Gentry has bounced on and off the Bills roster over the previous two seasons without getting into a game. Anderson started 10 games at UCLA last year before landing with the Bills as an undrafted rookie.
Matt Barkley has spent the past four seasons in Buffalo. He got into eight games with the Bills between 2018 and 2020, completing 53 of his 97 pass attempts for 788 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions. He was demoted to QB3 in 2021 following the acquisition of Mitchell Trubisky, and Barkley didn’t end up seeing the field last year. He was eyeing a similar role in 2022 with Case Keenum now serving as Josh Allen‘s primary backup.