Zack Moss

Colts RB Jonathan Taylor Ruled Out, Expected To Avoid IR

For the third time this season, Colts star running back Jonathan Taylor will be held out of action for the weekend, according to Mike Chappell of Fox59. The absence of Taylor will pave the way for Deon Jackson to make his second start of the season.

After an awe-inducing sophomore season in which he led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns, Taylor’s third year in the league has not gone according to plan. He started off hot with a 161-yard day in the team’s season-opening tie with the Texans but quickly cooled off as the offense dealt with growing pains and he dealt with an ankle injury.

Th ankle injury would force Taylor to miss two straight games in October. In his second game back from the injury absence, Taylor aggravated the right ankle during a loss to the Commanders. The injury that has already caused him to miss two games already could continue to hurt the Colts. Despite ruling Taylor out for this game, head coach Frank Reich has no plans to place him on injured reserve, according to Zak Keefer of The Athletic. The injury appears to be a week-to-week issue that the Colts want flexibility in dealing with for now.

With Taylor out, Jackson will get another chance to lead the Colts’ rushing attack. In two weeks without Taylor so far this year, Jackson has earned a combined 104 rushing yards and a touchdown, adding 14 catches for 108 yards through the air. The offense stands to look a bit different with Sam Ehlinger playing quarterback in place of Matt Ryan, but Jackson still figures to earn the lion’s share of the carries.

Although the Colts were able to acquire former Bills running back Zack Moss when trading away Nyheim Hines, Moss has only been with the team a couple of days and likely won’t have a very good grasp of the offense. Indianapolis is expected to elevate practice squad running back Phillip Lindsay for Sunday’s matchup in Foxborough, as they did the previous two games without Taylor. Lindsay contributed in his Colts debut with 11 carries for 40 yards but was relegated to a lesser role the following week, only carrying the ball three times for seven yards.

Giving Moss more time to practice and learn the offense may eventually dull the need for Lindsay, but for now, the Colts’ rushing offense will rely on the legs of Jackson and Lindsay as long as Taylor is out. As long as Taylor remains a week-to-week case, this will continue to be the gameplan.

Colts To Trade RB Nyheim Hines To Bills

The Bills will beat the buzzer by acquiring a running back. Nyheim Hines is Buffalo-bound, according to Adam Schefter of (on Twitter). The longtime Colts passing-down back/return man surfaced in trade rumors Monday night and will join a 6-1 Bills team.

Hines will head to Buffalo in a package that includes Zack Moss going to Indianapolis. The Bills are trading Moss and a conditional sixth-round pick to the Colts in exchange for Hines, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Moss is signed through 2023.

This move comes after Buffalo was involved in talks for both Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. While Hines is not on that level, he has been a longtime Colts complementary piece. After signing an Indianapolis extension last year, Hines is signed through 2024. Momentum began to build toward a Hines deal earlier Tuesday, and his three-year, $18MM pact will change hands.

A part of the Colts’ impact 2018 draft class, Hines has been the team’s passing-down back supplementing both Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor, catching at least 40 passes in each of his four full seasons. Hines topped 60 receptions in 2018 and 2020, displaying rare durability at his position. Hines has missed just one game as a pro.

Buffalo’s backfield equation changed in the spring, when a J.D. McKissic agreement did not lead to a finalized contract. McKissic reneged on the deal and went back to Washington. The Bills then drafted James Cook in Round 2 this year. Cook had overtaken Moss as the AFC East leaders’ No. 2 back. It will be interesting to see how the Bills use Cook now that Hines is in this Devin Singletary-fronted mix.

Hines, who turns 26 next week, has also worked as Indy’s punt returner since his second season. The North Carolina State product produced two punt-return touchdowns in that 2019 campaign. As they gun for their first championship since the AFL days, the Bills are undoubtedly planning to take advantage of Hines’ versatility. Hines has 19 career touchdowns, with a career-high seven coming in 2020.

The Bills inquired about McCaffrey this offseason and could have outflanked the 49ers by offering a first-round pick. But Buffalo viewed a first as too rich for the ex-Carolina star and did not make an offer. The team asked the Saints about Kamara recently, but New Orleans — which has not otherwise been linked to trading the five-time Pro Bowler — rebuffed that inquiry. Hines could be a nice consolation prize.

This does qualify as a seller trade for the Colts, but they have underperformed to start the season and are now breaking in another new quarterback (Sam Ehlinger). Moss will be part of the team’s Jonathan Taylor backup crew. The Bills took Moss in the 2020 second round and used him extensively during the first season and change of his career. The Utah product backed up Singletary primarily, totaling 1,118 scrimmage yards over his first two seasons. But Singletary received most of the backfield work down the stretch last season for the pass-first squad. Cook’s arrival further reduced Moss’ role this season. He will attempt to rebound as a Taylor backup.

AFC East Notes: Bills, White, Moss, Patriots, Jets

The Bills are hoping Tre’Davious White can avoid a stint on the PUP list to begin the regular season. While speaking to reporters, GM Brandon Beane said the team is going to “run out the clock” when it comes to White’s roster spot in the hope that he’ll progress over the next week.

“We don’t have the final answer,” Beane said (via Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic on Twitter). “I can’t sit here and say, ‘He’s going to be here on this day.'”

The cornerback tore his ACL last November, and while reports have indicated that he’s progressing well in his return to the field, it’s still uncertain if he’ll be ready to go for Week 1. White landed on the PUP to start training camp, but the team will have to make an important decision on him as they reduce their roster to 53 players. If White is placed on PUP to begin the regular season, he’ll miss Buffalo’s first four games.

The former first-round pick has spent his entire career with the Bills, earning All-Pro nods in both 2019 and 2020. In 11 games last season, White collected 41 tackles, six passes defended, and one interception.

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • To enter Bills camp, there was an expectation that free agent acquisition Jamison Crowder would battle with holdover Isaiah McKenzie for the starting slot receiver role. As Buscaglia writes, the team has given every indication that McKenzie has won that position battle, and Crowder’s training camp struggles may have put him on the roster bubble. Despite his assessment, Buscaglia later opined that the veteran’s experience will ultimately earn him a spot on the 53-man roster.
  • Elsewhere on offense, it sounds like the Bills are ready to roll with a RB committee. Buscaglia writes that both Devin Singletary and rookie James Cook could end up seeing extensive work outside of the red zone, while Zack Moss is expected to serve as the team’s goal-line running back. Moss has gotten an extensive look during the preseason, and while the writer hints that the coaching staff could be showcasing him for a trade, he also acknowledged that the team has been happy with the RB’s performance during training camp and preseason.
  • Before rookie wideout Tyquan Thornton went down with a shoulder injury, the Patriots were fielding offers on their receivers, according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus. However, it now “seems unlikely” that the Patriots would subtract from the grouping of Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker, and Nelson Agholor. Meanwhile, the trio of Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Kristian Wilkerson, and Tre Nixon are competing for limited roster spots, while Ty Montgomery‘s best chance of making the roster may be as a running back.
  • While cornerback Sauce Gardner and wideout Garrett Wilson are expected to play important roles for the Jets next season, their other first-round pick may see more of a complementary role. Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes that Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins, and John Franklin-Myers are expected to start along the defensive line, meaning Jermaine Johnson will have to compete with Jacob Martin for the role of “situational rusher.” “However I can help the team win is honestly how I look at it,” Johnson said. “I practice like I’m a [undrafted] free agent anyway, so I don’t really care. It’s like I’m fighting for my life. That’s how I am, what I believe and how I practice — and it just lines up perfectly with what Coach Saleh is all about: Practicing hard, balls to the wall, giving 110 percent not only for yourself but for the team.”

Latest On Bills’ Running Back Plan

The Bills had not used a first- or second-round pick on a running back since taking C.J. Spiller ninth overall 12 years ago. Using a second-round choice on James Cook in April certainly points to the AFC East champions envisioning a change at the position.

Devin Singletary, however, is not expected to be demoted. The Cook pick notwithstanding, Buffalo’s coaching staff remains committed to Singletary being a key piece in 2022, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The South Florida product led the team with 870 rushing yards last season.

Cook’s arrival crowds the Bills’ backfield, though it should boost the unit’s passing-game capabilities. Cook is signed through 2025, making the Georgia product the long-term centerpiece of the Bills’ backfield. Singletary’s rookie contract runs through 2022, making this a critical year for the 5-foot-7 talent’s career. While he should be expected to start ahead of Cook and lead Bills backs in playing time, ceding some ground to the rookie in the passing game, per Buscaglia, there is a difference between that and a notable extension.

The 2023 running back free agency class could be one of the most interesting in recent NFL history. That market would stand to include Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Kareem Hunt and Damien Harris. Not all of this group would hit free agency, as teams’ efforts to keep 2017 draftees off the market showed. But some will. Singletary would not be the highest-profile back here, but he has been a solid per-carry producer (4.7 over three seasons) and has not — to this point — been given full workloads. The former third-round pick is sitting on 495 carries through three seasons.

Given ball-carrying veterans’ frequent issues on the market, it would not surprise if Singletary could be retained on a midlevel accord to pair with Cook beyond 2022. Zack Moss may have a say in that future. Phased out down the stretch last season, the 2020 third-rounder could enter 2022 facing a wide range of outcomes. A solid camp could put the power back in line to remain in Buffalo’s committee, but Buscalgia notes a trade before the season should not be ruled out. The Bills do have a quarterback who has proven quite capable in short-yardage situations. Josh Allen has 31 career rushing touchdowns, and his 763 ground yards last season dwarfed Moss’ total (345).

Buffalo also signed Duke Johnson this offseason, doing so after a failed effort to add J.D. McKissic. Moss falling further out of favor would benefit the veteran, who signed for just $378K guaranteed. Though, Moss and Johnson’s skillsets do not exactly overlap. The former Browns and Texans passing-down back still could supply depth for a backfield that promises to have more options than it has over the past two seasons.

Bills Place DT Star Lotulelei On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Per a team announcement, the Bills have placed DT Star Lotulelei on the reserve/COVID-19 list, thereby rendering him ineligible for today’s game against the Jets. Fellow DT Brandin Bryant has been elevated from the taxi squad to take Lotulelei’s place on the active roster, as Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic tweets.

Lotulelei, who will turn 32 next month, is in the midst of a five-year, $50MM deal he signed in 2018. He exercised his right to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, which tolled his contract and keeps him under club control through 2023. He landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list in August, but he returned for Buffalo’s Week 2 win over Miami and has started each of his seven games this season.

Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics have not been high on Lotulelei’s work in some time, and that trend has continued this year. Though his 66.8 pass rush grade is above average — he does have two sacks this year, which matches his 16-game total in 2019 — his overall mark of 53.1 positions him as the 86th-best interior defender out of 124 qualifiers. Still, he typically plays the most snaps in Buffalo’s D-line rotation, so his absence will be noticed.

As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk observes, it is believed that Lotulelei is unvaccinated. That is because the 2013 first-rounder previously needed to isolate for five days following a close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, something that only an unvaccinated player would be required to do.

There is some good news to pass along for Bills fans. As Adam Schefter of tweets, RB Zack Moss, who suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the Jaguars, has cleared protocols and will be able to play this afternoon. Moss and Devin Singletary have shared RB duties this year, but Singletary has been the better performer from a YPC perspective. Moss has mustered just 3.6 yards per carry on 65 attempts, while Singletary has posted a strong 4.9 YPC mark on 73 carries.

Moss, however, has been more effective as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 18 balls for 166 yards and a score.

Bills To Consider RB At No. 30?

The Bills seem to have a full depth chart at running back, but Brandon Beane is receptive to adding a running back in the first round. Speaking to reporters, the GM revealed that the team would consider taking a running back at No. 30.

“What does his skill set have in comparison to what we have on the roster?” Beane asked reporters (via Josh Alper of “Is this player going to do something … I don’t think either one of our backs are home run hitters, so is there an elite trait that this guy has and says, ‘Man, he’s got something we don’t have.’ That’s probably the conversation, versus, ‘OK, are we going to take the same type of back as Devin [Singletary], are we gonna take the same type of back as Zack [Moss]? Because even those two guys have different skill sets.”

While the Bills have used third-round picks in each of the past two drafts to select running backs (Singletary in 2019, Moss in 2020), the team still ranked in the bottom-half of the NFL in rushing yards, yards per attempt, and rushing touchdowns (with a chunk of that production coming from Josh Allen and his 421-yard, eight-touchdown performance on the ground). While Singletary and Moss (along with free agent addition Matt Breida) should be a passable grouping in 2021, it’d make sense that the team would look to add a dynamic play-maker to the bunch.

Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Alabama’s Najee Harris, and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams could all be available when the Bills are on the clock at No. 30.

AFC East Notes: Saleh, Darnold, Patriots, Bills

Robert Saleh signed his contract with the Jets today, making him the 20th head coach in franchise history. While speaking to the media, the former 49ers defensive coordinator indicated that he’d be looking for specific types of players as he helps general manager Joe Douglas fill out the roster.

“There are no shortcuts to success, and I am committed to working with Joe to build this team the right way: with talented players that play fast and smart, and a staff that supports and helps develop them through it all,” Saleh said (via the team website).

Douglas, who led the coaching search alongside included team president Hymie Elhai, noted that Saleh believes in many of the same principals that the executive brought with him from Philadelphia when he joined the Jets in 2019.

“We spoke to some tremendous coaches, but Rob is the right partner and leader for us,” Douglas said. “His vision for this team aligns with what we have been working to establish here the last two years.”

The 41-year-old Saleh was an early favorite for the job based on the strength of his SF defense. In 2020, the Niners finished fifth in total yards, seventh in rushing yards, and fourth in passing yards allowed. In 2019, Saleh’s D surrendered just 169.2 passing yards per contest — the lowest average since Rex Ryan‘s 2009 Jets D.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC East…

  • Saleh and new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur have spent time evaluating Sam Darnold‘s tape, and the coaches believe the Jets quarterback has “untapped potential,” per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The former third-overall pick had a rough season in 2020, leading some to wonder whether the new staff would prefer to take a quarterback with the second-overall pick.
  • The eight Patriots players who opted out of the 2020 season were asked to return for year-end physicals last week, writes ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Wideout Marqise Lee and running back Brandon Bolden have both said they plan to play in 2021, and Reiss opines that safety Patrick Chung, tight end Matt LaCosse, and fullback Danny Vitale will also return. However, the writer is much less certain that offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and linebacker Dont’a Hightower will be back in New England.
  • While Dave Ziegler was always an underdog in the Broncos GM search, he parlayed that experience into a “multiyear contract and pay bump as Nick Caserio‘s successor” in New England, writes Reiss. The Patriots assistant director of player personnel eventually withdrew his name from the search in Denver, and Reiss writes that this is a “reflection of the decisiveness that has earned him a measure of respect in the Patriots’ offices over the past eight year.”
  • Bills running back Zack Moss underwent minor surgery on his ankle this morning, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 23-year-old is expected to make a full recovery from the “tight rope procedure,” and he should be ready to go for offseason workouts. The third-rounder finished his rookie campaign having compiled 576 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/12/21

Here are the latest NFL minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

  • Signed to reserve/futures contract: LB John Daka

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Football Team

AFC East Notes: Gase, Patriots, Moss, Bills, Slater, Jets, Darnold

Adam Gase became a polarizing figure during his stint as the Jets’ head coach, to put it kindly. His tenure was nothing short of a disaster as New York finished 2-14 this year, and media and fans alike are united in their dislike of him. That being said that might not be enough to damage Gase’s rep in league circles, and it sounds like he could have some opportunities in front of him. Even before Bill Belichick recently sung his praises ahead of Week 17, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes that he had already heard Gase’s name connected with the Patriots.

Volin thinks Gase would make sense as the Patriots’ new quarterbacks coach with Jedd Fisch taking the head coaching job at Arizona, or potentially the new OC if Josh McDaniels left. As he points out, there are legit ties here. Both Gase and McDaniels got their first coaching jobs as student assistants on Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State in 1999. Then Gase was McDaniels’ receivers coach when McDaniels became head coach of the Broncos. With Gase being the Dolphins’ coach before landing the Jets job, he’s spent the past handful of years going up against Belichick twice a year in the AFC East. This hire would certainly raise a lot of eyebrows if it happens.

Here’s more from around the division:

  • The Bills escaped a tough test from the Colts on Saturday, but it looks like they’ll be without a key piece moving forward. Running back Zack Moss will miss time with an ankle injury, and the fear is his postseason may be done, Mike Garafolo tweets. Moss had to be carted off the field, so the fact he’s not 100 percent done for the playoffs could actually be a positive. The third-round rookie from Utah split time in the backfield with Devin Singletary all season, and had seven carries and four catches agains Indy before going down. Singletary will now be the featured back moving forward. Moss finished his rookie season with 112 carries for 481 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. It’s certainly not ideal, but Buffalo’s Super Bowl chances will still hinge on Josh Allen‘s arm and not the ground game.
  • Special teams ace Matthew Slater has had a storied career with the Patriots, but it could be coming to an end. Slater is uncertain about playing in 2021 and will take some time before deciding about retirement, per Josh Alper of “I’m at a point in my career now where I don’t know how much football I have left and I think as a young guy I was always thinking about the next season, the career you hope to have,” Slater said. “Now, obviously, I’m on the back nine.” If this is it, he’ll hang up his cleats after an extremely decorated career. Slater has won three Super Bowls with New England, made nine Pro Bowls, and seven All-Pro teams. It would also represent the end of an era, as the team captain is one of the few guys left other than Belichick from the old-guard Patriots.
  • As for the Jets, they’ll have the most pivotal offseason of any team in the division. First order of business is deciding what to do with Sam Darnold, and in turn the second overall pick, as we’ve already heard they’ll be trading one of them. There will surely be a lot of speculation leading up to the draft, and ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is saying he thinks New York will pass on taking a new quarterback, via Rich Cimini of “I know [Jets GM] Joe Douglas. I obviously played with him in college. We have a good relationship,” McShay said. “I know he grew up in the Ozzie Newsome organization with the Ravens. If it’s not going to be Trevor Lawrence, it’s going to be move down, if possible. If not, let’s protect [Darnold] and get guys around the player we think can be our franchise.” As for Douglas, he was complimentary of Darnold at his end of year press conference, but wouldn’t commit to him long-term. This is just one of what will be many datapoints, but right now it seems like Darnold has a good shot to be under center in 2021.

Bills Sign RB Zack Moss

The Bills have officially signed third-round running back Zack Moss, according to Field Yates of (on Twitter). Per the terms of his slot, Moss will earn $4.6MM over the course of his four-year deal.

Moss could have gone much higher 2019 draft, if not for season-ending knee surgery. Before he went under the knife, he racked up 1,096 rushing yards off of 179 carries, good for an average of 6.1 yards per attempt. When he came back last year, he went off for 1,400 yards with a 6.0 ypc average.

Moss’ knee checked out well in a pre-draft exam and the Bills believe that Moss is ready to be a difference-maker at the pro level. In Buffalo, Moss will team with Devin Singletary to form a 1-2 backfield combo.

With Moss officially in the fold, the Bills have now wrapped their entire 2020 draft class. Here’s the full rundown, via PFR’s tracker:

2-54: AJ Epenesa, DE (Iowa): Signed
3-86: Zack Moss, RB (Utah): Signed
4-128: Gabriel Davis, WR (UCF): Signed
5-167: Jake Fromm, QB (Georgia): Signed
6-188: Tyler Bass, K (Georgia Southern): Signed
6-207: Isaiah Hodgins, WR (Oregon State): Signed
7-239: Dane Jackson, CB (Pittsburgh): Signed