12:25pm: To accommodate Hunt, the team has placed safety Lonnie Ballentine on the injured reserve, reports Berman (via Twitter). The 2014 seventh-round pick has played in four games during his three-year career, compiling three tackles.
10:32am: As the Texans current crop of running backs recover from their various ailments, the team has added some reinforcement to the backfield. According to Mark Berman of Fox26 in Houston (via Twitter), the team has promoted running back Akeem Hunt from the practice squad.
Hunt, a speedy second-year back, will provide the Texans with some insurance in case one of their running backs can’t go this weekend. Starter Lamar Miller is recovering from a shoulder injury, but Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that the veteran is hoping to play against the Jaguars. Meanwhile, fourth-string running back Jonathan Grimes missed a practice this week due to an illness.
The former Purdue standout joined the Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2015 (following a brief tenure with the Ravens and Giants). In seven games as a rookie, Hunt ran for 96 yards on 17 carries, and he added another 39 yards via six receptions. The running back scored a pair of touchdowns during the Texans preseason finale this year, but he was ultimately cut prior to the regular season.
The broken foot Kevin Johnson sustained during the Texans’ overtime victory over the Colts last weekend resulted in the team relocating the cornerback to its IR list, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter).
Houston activated safety Lonnie Ballentine to replace the second-year corner on its active roster. Johnson would be eligible to return after eight games but isn’t expected to play again this season, making him an unrealistic candidate to take advantage of the new IR policy.
This represents another critical loss for a Texans defense that entered the season with lofty aspirations after a strong 2015. Johnson rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 8 cornerback through six games, and he’ll join J.J. Watt as players who will no longer contribute to the team’s AFC South title push this season.
The Texans also lost safety K.J. Dillon to a torn ACL against the Colts. Charles James figures to have more responsibilities going forward as the Texans attempt to fill the void of a player who’s proven thus far to be a quality investment via first-round pick. Houston’s already received standout work from former UDFA A.J. Bouye, whom PFF rates as its No. 1 corner thus far this season.
The No. 16 overall pick in 2015, Johnson made 21 tackles and deflected three passes in the Texans’ first six games. He also recovered a fumble. Johnson started 10 games as a rookie and played in all 16, intercepting a pass and registering 52 tackles.
A 2014 seventh-round pick, Ballentine spent the first six games of the season on the Texans’ PUP list after a significant knee injury ended his 2015 season. He tore his MCL and PCL while also dislocating the meniscus in the badly damaged left knee.
The Texans announced additional roster moves this afternoon, bringing their total count to 78 players on the roster. Here is a full rundown of all of their moves thus far today, including those disclosed earlier in the day:
The Texans claimed cornerback and Hard Knocks fan favorite Charles James off waivers, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). In a related move, safety Lonnie Ballentine will be placed on IR. The Texans wanted to sign James to their p-squad this year but he chose the Ravens’ p-squad instead (link).
The Broncos re-signed veteran blocking tight end Richard Gordon and waived running back Kapri Bibbs, as Mike Klis of 9NEWS writes. On Saturday, the Broncos released Gordon but told him to stay in town because they would re-sign him on Monday.
The Bills are signing Jordan Mills from the Lions practice squad, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT (on Twitter). Buffalo signed the tackle to their taxi squad in mid-September.
The Chargers announced that they have waived guard-tackle Michael Ola. The offensive lineman can be re-signed to the practice squad on Tuesday if he clears waivers.
The Cardinals removed Chris Clemons from injured reserve with an injury settlement, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
After taking a low hit to his knee on Sunday, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota continued to play, so the Tennessee coaching staff is “cautiously optimistic” about the status of that knee, says Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. According to Florio, Mariota is undergoing an MRI today to determine the extent of the injury, and the club is hoping that it’s just an MCL issue, which can heal with rest.
Here’s more from out of the NFL’s South divisions:
Texans safety Lonnie Ballentine will undergo surgery after dislocating his left knee and suffering significant ligament damage, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Ballentine’s 2015 season will be over, and he figures to land on injured reserve within the next few days.
Two free agent fullbacks are auditioning for the Buccaneers today, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, who tweets that ex-Giant Henry Hynoski and Emil Igwenagu are in town for the tryout.
After being traded by the Titans prior to the season, Falcons guard Andy Levitre is hoping to show his old team that it “made a bad decision” in getting rid of him, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes. A source tells McClure that Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt was never really a fan of Levitre in Tennessee, but Falcons head coach says the veteran guard has been a “great addition” for Atlanta.
After head coach Gus Bradley said that his Jaguars need to “learn how to finish” games when they have a lead, one player tells Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union that “a lot of people will be looking for a job” if the club can’t figure that out. Jacksonville lost its fourth straight game on Sunday, falling to 1-5 on the season.
Here’s a recap of the latest 2014 draft picks reaching contract agreements with their respective teams:
The Chargers have agreed to terms with third-round guard Chris Watt on a deal that includes a $419K bonus and a $2.691MM overall value, says Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Both of those contract figures are lower than what Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap projected for Watt’s draft slot.
The Colts have signed their fifth-round pick, Ball State’s Jonathan Newsome, according to Craig Kelley of Colts.com (via Twitter).
Fifth-round receiver Jared Abbrederis has signed a contract with the Packers that includes a signing bonus of about $145K, reports Wilson (via Twitter).
The Jets have signed a pair of draftees, according to the team, who announcedtoday that fourth-round pick Dakota Dozier and seventh-rounder Trevor Reilly have both been locked up.
Seventh-rounder Michael Campanaro has signed his contract with the Ravens, which includes a $67.5K signing bonus tweets Wilson.
Running back Lache Seastrunk, a sixth-round pick, has agreed to sign with the Redskins on a deal that features a $110.5K signing bonus, says Wilson (via Twitter).
Field Yates of ESPN.com has a couple more draft pick signings, reporting that the Texans have locked up sixth-round running back Alfred Blue and seventh-round safety Lonnie Ballentine (Twitterlinks).
Although multiple reports have suggested that free agent signal-caller David Carr would like to end up on the team that drafts his brother Derek Carr, perhaps serving as Derek’s backup, that’s not necessarily the case, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Schefter tweets that the two brothers’ destinations aren’t related, and that David intends to sign with a club prior to draft day.
As the elder Carr continues to search for a new home, let’s round up a handful of updates from around the NFL….
Free agent running back Chris Johnson could theoretically try out for teams in private, without those workouts needing to be reported, but he doesn’t intend to do so, a league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. As Florio notes, it’s possible that Johnson could reach an agreement with a new team without even visiting that club, since the veteran is a known commodity at this point.
All NFL 32 teams were in attendance at LSU’s Pro Day today, including several general managers and head coaches, tweets Albert Breer of the NFL Network.
The details of Champ Bailey‘s two-year contract with the Saints have surfaced, and Joel Corry of CBSSports.com provides the breakdown (Twitterlinks): The base value is $3.75MM, though it can be worth up to $6.75MM with incentives and escalators. It’s guaranteed for $500K and includes a $250K roster bonus if Bailey is on the team for six games in 2014.
The Billsannounced today that Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews and Louisville linebacker PrestonBrown were in town to meet with the team.
Top cornerback prospect Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State will visit the Titans on Friday, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (via Twitter).
Boise State wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn, who was in New England today for a private workout, will visit the Cardinals on April 15, reports Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). The Cards are also hosting Memphis safety Lonnie Ballentine today, tweets James Walker of ESPN.com.
The Packers will host Washington State offensive lineman John Fullington for an official pre-draft visit next week, tweets agent Collin Roberts.