Tee Higgins

Week 1 Injury Roundup: Butker, Jones, Higgins, Rookies

Early in its Week 1 matchup against the Cardinals, Kansas City watched their kicker get carted off the field after Harrison Butker slipped on the kickoff following the team’s opening scoring drive, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The injury brought on speculation that Chiefs safety Justin Reid may be forced to step in for kicks.

Fortunately, Butker’s injury wasn’t serious enough to keep him permanently out of the game as the sixth-year kicker made his way back onto the field at the end the second half to attempt (and convert) a 54-yard field goal. Still, the Chiefs did play it safe with Butker, calling on Reid to attempt two extra points following Butker’s slip. Reid was successful on his first extra point attempt but missed his second, likely leading to Butker’s return on the field.

Butker kicked the extra points for the remainder of the game, but Kansas City did elect to hold him off the field for kickoffs, letting Reid serve as the kickoff specialist for the rest of the day.

Here are a few other injury notes from around the first week of NFL games, starting with today’s matchup down by South Beach:

  • In a rough opening road trip for the Patriots, quarterback Mac Jones was not made available to the media as he was instructed to go to the X-ray room with a back injury, according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe. The x-rays turned out to be negative, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, but the team will seek further evaluation on his back injury when they return to Foxborough. It’s unclear at what point in the game Jones suffered the injury, but the 24-year-old completed the game without visible issue.
  • Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins exited the game versus the Steelers today with a concussion after receiving a big hit in the second quarter, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Star receiver Ja’Marr Chase produced as expected, but running back Joe Mixon and new tight end Hayden Hurst had to step up in the passing game with Higgins out. If the concussion keeps Higgins out next week, as well, the Bengals will depend on Tyler Boyd, Mike Thomas, Trent Taylor, and Stanley Morgan to make up for Higgins’ lost production.
  • Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season saw three second-round rookies go down with injuries. The Commanders added one big piece to their defense this offseason in former-Alabama defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis. In the first quarter of NFL play for the rookie, Mathis went down awkwardly on his left leg, according to Charean Williams of NBC Sports, and did not return to the game. Mathis immediately reached for is knee and showed a flash of anger as the Commanders’ medical staff diagnosed the situation. Mathis isn’t a starter but, if the rookie is forced to miss significant time with the injury, it should mean more snaps for second-year defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
  • The Vikings also saw a second-round pick go down when former-Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth left the game with a quad injury, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. Injuries have plagued the rookie in the past and, if he is forced to miss more time, the Vikings will likely turn to Chandon Sullivan, Kris Boyd, and fellow rookie Akayleb Evans to fill in.
  • The Giants added rookie wideout Wan’Dale Robinson to their list of injured receivers, along with Darius Slayton and Collin Johnson, as he left the game today with a knee injury, according to Dan Salomone of Giants.com. Robinson had leapt ahead of Sterling Shepard to start the game alongside Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney before suffering the injury. The severity of the ailment is unknown for now, but Shepard should be able to step back into a starting role if Robinson is expected to miss a significant amount of time.

Latest On Bengals QB Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow returned to Bengals practice this week after undergoing an appendectomy in late July. While initial reports seemed to indicate that Burrow underwent a standard procedure, that didn’t end up being the case. As ESPN’s Ben Baby writes, the quarterback lost weight thanks to the surgery and subsequent recovery, and it sounds like he’s got some work to do to get into game shape for Week 1.

“It wasn’t normal appendicitis that you hear about,” Burrow explained. “I didn’t really feel much. Just getting checked out and had some discomfort so we thought we’d get it checked out. Turns out I had it. So we had to get it fixed.”

It’s an encouraging sign that Burrow has returned to practice, and the Bengals have a plan in place to get him right for the start of the regular season. This includes a plan to add weight and get the QB’s body back “to its pre-surgery form.” Burrow isn’t expected to see the field for Cincinnati’s remaining preseason contests.

“I think it will be OK,” Burrow said. “We have a good plan as far as nutrition and weight room and all that stuff. I feel good right now and just going to keep feeling better.”

Burrow isn’t the only key Bengals player to return to practice. Wideout Tee Higgins participated in team drills for the first time on Sunday, per Baby. The receiver had his labrum worked on this offseason, but it sounds like he’ll be good to go for the start of the regular season.

Latest On Jessie Bates, Bengals Extensions

The Bengals didn’t sign Jessie Bates prior to the extension deadline, and despite having little leverage to avoid playing on the franchise tag in 2022, the safety is still away from the team as training camp starts. Speaking to reporters, Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin acknowledged that the two sides “just didn’t come together” on a new deal and there are “no hard feelings” (via ESPN’s Ben Baby on Twitter).

[RELATED: Jessie Bates Absent From Training Camps]

Predictably, Tobin revealed that the front office would be willing to resume negotiations with Bates following the upcoming season. Bates has not yet signed his tender — which means that he cannot be fined for skipping training camp — but he will either need to sign it at some point or sit out the entire 2022 campaign, which seems highly unlikely. The most likely route sees Bates return to the field for the 2022 season and then hit unrestricted free agent next offseason. For what it’s worth, a trade isn’t expected.

Meanwhile, the Bengals front office will soon have to shift focus to extending their franchise quarterback. Speaking to reporters, team president Mike Brown made it clear that the Bengals want to keep Joe Burrow long-term.

“I can tell you that we couldn’t be happier with Joe Burrow,” Brown said (via Baby). “He’s everything you would wish for, especially for a quarterback in Cincinnati. Our whole focus is going to be on keeping him here.”

Burrow is entering the third year of his rookie contract, meaning there’s still plenty of time to negotiate a new pact. As Baby notes, the Bengals will also have to figure out how to proceed with an extension for wide receiver Tee Higgins, although Brown was clear that QB is the team’s priority.

“Right now, our obvious, most important issue will be with our quarterback,” Brown said. “It’s not quite ready or ripe yet, but it’s right down the track. We see the train coming.”

WR Rumors: Metcalf, Brown, Hamler, Higgins

While Deebo Samuel trade winds continue to blow, the Seahawks‘ situation with D.K. Metcalf appears calm. The fourth-year wideout is not expected to be traded, with ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler noting “strong indications” point to Metcalf staying put. Prior to Samuel’s trade request, it was Metcalf being linked to the Jets. The receiving-chasing team spoke with the Seahawks about Metcalf, but that conversation did not progress too far. The Jets might be willing to trade the No. 10 overall pick for Metcalf, who was 2019’s No. 64 choice, but that might still not be enough for the Seahawks. Metcalf has not yet revealed he will skip offseason work, putting this saga on steadier terrain than the other notable negotiations between fourth-year wideouts and their respective teams.

Here is the latest from the receiver scene:

  • Continuing to paint a picture of a long-term A.J. BrownTitans partnership, Fowler adds the fourth-year Tennessee wideout has been in touch with the coaching staff this offseason and that the sides’ relationship is fine. Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson have said they want Brown in the fold long term. The Samuel and Metcalf situations have produced a few more early departure alerts than the ones involving Brown and Commanders wideout Terry McLaurin.
  • Suffering an ACL tear in late September, K.J. Hamler is back at work. The third-year Broncos wideout is running routes with new quarterback Russell Wilson, and GM George Paton called Hamler “well ahead of schedule” in his rehab. The Broncos managed to hang onto their top four receivers this offseason, despite parting with three players and five picks for Wilson, and Hamler has shown flashes in 16 career games. The recently extended Tim Patrick has effectively leapfrogged the Penn State product on Denver’s depth chart, however, leaving the 2020 second-rounder as an intriguing wild card as the team begins its Wilson era.
  • The shoulder surgery Tee Higgins underwent will shelve him for the entirety of the Bengals‘ offseason program, Zac Taylor said (via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby). The third-year receiver went under the knife to repair his left shoulder in March. This injury caused Higgins to miss two early-season games last year, but the Clemson product returned to make a big impact on Cincinnati’s Super Bowl LVI road.
  • Shifting to the draft, Georgia wideout George Pickens has emerged as a polarizing prospect. Some teams have the SEC-produced talent off their board altogether, citing character concerns, via SI.com’s Albert Breer. Others, however, have done extensive work on him. Pickens said the Cardinals, Chiefs and Packers have been the teams who have come in contact with him most, Fowler notes. Arizona and Kansas City have been linked to first-round wideouts, with the Chiefs connected to a Round 1 trade-up, while the Packers have famously not taken a first-round receiver since Javon Walker in 2002. Although the 6-foot-3 wideout referred to himself as the draft’s best wideout, he views his likely draft slot in the 25-45 range. Pickens, who posted 1,240 yards and 14 touchdowns between his freshman and sophomore seasons, is coming off a slate he largely missed due to a March 2021 ACL tear.

Bengals WR Tee Higgins Had Shoulder Surgery

Tee Higgins recently went under the knife. The Bengals wideout had his labrum repaired last month, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Fortunately, Higgins expects to be healthy in time for training camp.

“That’s the plan,” Higgins said (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). “Hell of a (Super Bowl) game, but it wasn’t the outcome me and my teammates expected. It’s going to motivate all of us, but we know what it takes to get back to the Super Bowl. That’s what we look forward to doing next season.”

Higgins initially suffered the shoulder injury early in the 2021 season. The receiver decided to put off surgery until the offseason, and with the Bengals making a run to the Super Bowl, Higgins wasn’t able to have the procedure until March. Even with the delayed response to the injury, it sounds like Higgins will still be on track for training camp.

The 2020 second-round pick built off a strong rookie campaign with an even better sophomore season. The 23-year-old finished the season with 74 receptions, 1,091 yards, and six touchdowns. He added another 18 catches in four playoff games, including a pair of touchdown receptions in the Super Bowl.

Bengals Draft Tee Higgins At No. 33

The Bengals kept A.J. Green via the franchise tag and have Tyler Boyd signed to an extension. They are adding to their receiving corps, starting the second round by taking Clemson wideout Tee Higgins.

Cincinnati was linked to Baylor receiver Denzel Mims but will go with Higgins, a top-end deep-ball threat for Trevor Lawrence during two impact seasons at Clemson. Higgins will join national championship game opponent Joe Burrow in Ohio as a pro. Higgins was seen by many as a likely first-rounder earlier on in the process, but he ended up slipping just a bit.

Receiver didn’t seem like a pressing need for Cincy, but they now have great depth at the position. In addition to Boyd and Green, they’ve also got former first-rounder John Ross on the roster. Higgins didn’t even turn 21 until January, and the Bengals clearly think he’ll be a long-term partner for Burrow.

This past season, Higgins finished with 59 catches for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging a robust 19.8 yards per reception.

Clemson WR Tee Higgins Enters Draft

Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins is leaving school early to enter the NFL draft. Come April, he’s likely to be a first-round selection. 

At 6’4″, Higgins has tremendous size for the position and a game tape filled with highlights of major gains. Last year, Higgins caught 59 passes for 1,167 yards – good for an eye-popping 19.8 yards per catch –and scored 13 touchdowns for the Tigers.

Higgins is just one of several talented wide receivers in this year’s crop, which runs deep at the position. Other notable WRs in the mix include Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, and Jeudy’s teammate, Henry Ruggs III.

Fresh off of back-to-back double-digit seasons, Higgins could be a target for teams like the Bills, Broncos, and and Raiders.