Ron Middleton

AFC Notes: Henry, Mayfield, Jets, Steelers

Initially floated last month, the prospect of Derrick Henry coming back for the playoffs is moving closer to reality. Henry returning for the Titans‘ first postseason game is the plan, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes. Once thought to be out for the season, Henry has recovered well enough, per Rapoport, that the Titans would consider bringing him back for Week 18 — should the team need a win to reach the playoffs. Henry has been out since Week 8, when he suffered a Jones fracture in his foot. This would obviously be a tremendous development for the Titans, who have not been the same without the two-time reigning rushing champion. Henry’s 937 rushing yards still rank fifth in the NFL, despite the dominant back having missed the past six games. Henry underwent surgery Nov. 2.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Although Baker Mayfield missed Monday’s game due to a positive COVID-19 test, the Browns quarterback has played through multiple injuries in the previous several weeks. The former No. 1 overall pick will, however, need offseason surgery and will be forced to wear a harness on his injured left shoulder the rest of this season, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Mayfield suffered a fractured shoulder bone in October. While some of Mayfield’s other injuries — of the knee and heel variety — have improved, the shoulder problem is unlikely to be in the rear-view mirror until after his 2022 surgery.
  • The Jets may be without their head coach in Week 16. Robert Saleh tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. Tight ends coach Ron Middleton would step in as acting head coach if Saleh remains sidelined on Sunday, when the Jets face the Jaguars.
  • Mekhi Becton has yet to resume practicing, with Saleh indicating earlier this week he had “no update” on his left tackle. Out with a dislocated kneecap he sustained in Week 1, Becton has yet to resume practicing. The Jets shutting down their left tackle would be wise here, Cimini writes. Two years remain on the 370-pound blocker’s contract, with a 2024 option included, but availability has become a concern for the 2020 first-rounder. Becton missed some time last season, and the Jets have previously levied discipline over his weight.
  • First-year Steelers offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has attracted interest from a high-profile college program. Oregon is pursuing the NFL assistant, ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg tweets. Promoted after two years as the Steelers’ assistant O-line coach, Klemm has only been an NFL assistant for three seasons. He worked as a college staffer previously, ending that run as a UCLA associate head coach. Oregon is assembling a new staff under recently hired HC Dan Lanning.

Coaching Notes: Rams, WFT, Jets, Falcons, Broncos, Steelers

The Rams have found their new special teams coordinator, as the team announced that they’ve hired Joe DeCamillis. The veteran coach will be replacing John Bonamego, who’s transitioning to a senior coaching assistant role.

DeCamillis brings 32 years of NFL coaching experience, including the past four years as the Jaguars special teams coordinator. During his stint in Jacksonville, the team traditionally ranked top-10 in many special teams categories, and in 2019, DeCamillis helped guide punter Logan Cooke and kicker Josh Lambo to becoming the first teammates to lead the NFL in net punting average and field goal percentage.

Prior to working with the Jaguars, the 55-year-old spent time as special teams coordinator with the Broncos, Bears, and Cowboys, and he also spent time on the Falcons and Giants coaching staffs.

Bonamego, 57, joined the Rams last February. He spent the 2019 season as special teams coordinator of the Lions, and he was Central Michigan’s head coach between the 2015 and 2018 seasons.

Some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • Jennifer King is expected to become a full-time offensive assistant on Washington‘s coaching staff, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). This makes King “the first full-time Black female coach in NFL history,” per The Athletic. The Guilford College product spent the 2020 season as a full-year coaching intern on Ron Rivera‘s staff.
  • It’s looking like new Jets head coach Robert Saleh has finalized his offensive coaching staff. We previously heard about the hirings of Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp as quarterbacks coach, John Benton as offensive line coach, and Rob Calabrese as passing game specialist. ESPN’s Rich Cimini passed along a few names we can add to the list, including wide receivers coach Miles Austin, running backs coach Taylor Embree, and tight ends coach Ron Middleton. As Cimini notes, the staff doesn’t feature a whole lot of experience, with Calabrese, Embree, and Austin serving as first-time NFL positional coaches.
  • The Falcons are expected to hire Charles London as their new quarterbacks coach, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). It’s a bit of an interesting hire, as London has spent the last nine years serving as a running backs coach with the Texans, Bears, and Penn State. However, the 45-year-old does have experience as an offensive assistant/quality control coach with the Titans and Bears.
  • Mike Klis of 9News in Denver tweets that Broncos running backs coach Curtis Modkins has drawn interest “from around the league as offensive coordinator.” The 50-year-old has consistently served as an NFL running backs coach since the 2008 season, spending time with the Chiefs, Cardinals, Bills, Lions, 49ers, and Bears.
  • Mike Tomlin interviewed Hank Fraley for the Steelers OL coach gig, reports Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette (via Twitter). Fraley actually started his NFL career in Pittsburgh, as the Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent back in 2000. Following a playing career that saw him appear in 142 games (mostly with the Eagles and Browns), Fraley has served as a coach at both the collegiate and professional level, including a recent stint as the Lions offensive line coach.