Shea McLellin

Extra Points: IR-DTR, Goodell, Hogan, Pack

This week marks the first time players who were placed on the IR-Designated to Return list can start practicing again. Under league rules, players must sit out at least six weeks on the injured reserve and then practice for another two weeks in order to be placed on the active roster again. That would mean that players who just started to practice on Monday are on track to return to game action in Week 9. Teams have three weeks to decide if certain designated players will return once they get back on the practice field.

Patriots LB Shea McClellin headlines the list of IR-DTD players who started practicing this week, which comes courtesy of Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter Link). McClellin has been recovering from an undisclosed injury he suffered during training camp. It’s an encouraging development for Bill Belichick as the Pats are heavily in need of capable pass rushers. The three other players who returned to practice were Chargers LB Denzel Perryman, Ravens CB Maurice Canady and Falcons LB LaRoy Reynolds.

  • In other league news, Roger Goodell‘s new contract, which was reportedly hung up over his prospective severance package, is now back on track to being completed sooner than later, according to Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link). Rapoport relays a quote from Falcons owner Arthur Blank that states: “Making good progress. Shouldn’t be too long.” We don’t know exactly why the talks are in a better place, but with this news, it seems that the major hurdles are now in the rearview mirror.
  • The Browns named DeShone Kizer their starter once again today, but the other surprise announcement was that former starter Kevin Hogan had slipped behind Cody Kessler on the depth chart. Despite a poor game in his first start of the year, the move was rather unexpected, but new information sheds more light on the situation. Mary Kay Cabot of reports that Hogan is now the third QB because of bruised ribs he suffered last week. Head coach Hue Jackson addressed the injury in a media session today. “They’re pretty bruised in my opinion. … I’m not going to put (an injured) guy out there or let him go through the week,” Jackson said. Jackson went onto say that Hogan would be the backup if healthy, so it looks like this development is more of a non-story at this point.
  • In other QB news, Mike McCarthy expressed some caution about an upcoming roster move regarding the injured Aaron Rodgers, reports Ryan Wood and Michael Cohen of Packers News. The Packers head coach told a number of reporters today: “Our focus clearly is just to get through the surgery, and just see where he is. I’m not personally looking in that direction. My focus is on Aaron’s health right now.” The team already elevated QB Joe Callahan from the practice squad this week, so it looks like there won’t be any further changes in regards to the Packers’ signal-callers until Rodgers’ surgery take place.

NFC Notes: Bears, 49ers, Saints, Falcons

New Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio believes 33-year-old Jared Allen, who’s shifting from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker, could be in line for a career renaissance.

“Like I told him, I think he can have a rebirth to his career here playing a little bit of a new position,” said Fangio, according to Jeff Dickerson of “But in the NFL today, you play more nickel than you actually play base. For some teams they play nickel 65 to 75 percent of the time. He’ll be playing his normal position then. So it’s not as drastic of a change as you might think.”

More production from Allen would be a welcome sight for Chicago, which had the third-worst defense in the NFL in 2014. Allen finished with just 5.5 sacks, the lowest total of an 11-year career that has seen him take down opposing quarterbacks 134 times.

Fangio is similarly hopeful about one of Allen’s fellow linebackers, Shea McClellin, adjusting well to his defense. McClellin, a 2012 first-round pick, has a meager 7.5 sacks during his first three seasons. Those years were spent shifting between defensive end and outside linebacker in the Bears’ previous 4-3 scheme. The 25-year-old will move to the inside of the linebacking corps as part of Fangio’s 3-4.

“I think he has a chance to be a good inside linebacker,” said Fangio. “We’re going to give him a full opportunity here and a full chance to learn the position so we can evaluate him and see if that’s a good spot for him.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The 49ers’ defense lost multiple key elements during a chaotic offseason. Star linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland both retired, while defensive lineman Justin Smith is contemplating joining them. One important returning face is linebacker Aldon Smith, who’s ready to become the leader of their defense in a contract year. “It’s a role I’m comfortable with,” Smith said, according to “Obviously, losing guys who were here … someone steps up. And it’s something I have no problem doing.” Smith has a whopping 44 sacks in 50 regular-season games, but the four-year veteran’s career has been beset by off-field issues.
  • The Saints are expected to feel the loss of elite tight end Jimmy Graham, whom they traded to the Seahawks earlier this offseason, but Mike Triplett of notes that the team’s offense might not drop off as drastically as some think. The Saints have fielded a top six offense every year during the Sean PaytonDrew Brees era, leading the league three times in yardage before Graham even got to New Orleans. In terms of weaponry, Triplett believes the additions of running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Brandin Cooks could help make up for the loss of Graham.
  • Falcons superstar wide receiver Julio Jones is in line for a big contract extension, but there hasn’t been much progress on getting a new deal done. General manager Thomas Dimitroff didn’t provide an update on Jones’ situation on Saturday, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN (via Twitter).
  • Randy Gregory, the Cowboys’ newly drafted pass rusher, is off to a good start at the team’s rookie camp. The second-round pick looked like more than just a speed rusher Saturday, showing off an array of moves and netting a would-be sack, writes Todd Archer of

Rob DiRe contributed to this post.