Spencer Ware

AFC Notes: Titans, Roman, Kingsbury

Matt LaFleur‘s defection to Green Bay leaves Tennessee without an offensive coordinator. They have not conducted any known interviews and are operating deliberately. GM Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel have met several times this week discussing what the best course of action should be, so interviews are likely coming soon. Whichever way the Titans go, they will be asking Marcus Mariota to learn a fourth offensive system in his five-year career. Ken Whisenhunt ran the Titans’ offense in 2015, before being fired, then Mike Mularkey took over before giving way to LaFleur. Robinson appears to want to retain some of LaFleur’s concepts, however.

I think if that can happen so that there is some carry-over, some familiarity there, so that not just Marcus but all of our players on offense, the less that we have to put on their plate to learn the different terminology, the different concepts, if there’s carry-over, then I think they can build upon what they’ve kind of gone through the last year,” Robinson said, via Eric Bacharach of The Tennesseean. “So we’ll do our best to try to keep as much continuity as possible carrying over into the offseason and certainly into next season.”

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Berry, Spencer Ware and Malik Hooker are out for today’s ChiefsColts divisional-round game. Berry is still dealing with the heel trouble that has sidetracked his career, and Ware is out with a hamstring malady. Hooker started against the Texans but missed practice this week with a foot ailment.
  • The Ravens’ Greg Roman promotion partially stemmed from ensuring he would not accept another OC role in the AFC East. The Dolphins sought the former Bills offensive coordinator for their OC role, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. HC frontrunner Brian Flores had Roman on his staff list. Another name to pop up on Flores’ early list: Kliff Kingsbury. The now-Cardinals HC appears to have had a path to Miami as Flores’ play-caller, Breer adds (on Twitter). But despite his sub-.500 Texas Tech record, Kingsbury received a much bigger promotion than the Dolphins had in mind.
  • Jets staffer Tyler Tettleton will join the Browns as an offensive quality control coach, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports (on Twitter). Tettleton was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two years during Baker Mayfield‘s tenure in Norman.

Chiefs’ Eric Berry To Play Vs. Chargers

Finally, Eric Berry is ready to take the field. The Chiefs’ three-time All-Pro safety will play on Thursday night vs. the Chargers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). 

[RELATED: NFL Doesn’t Plan To Make Changes After Kareem Hunt Incident]

Berry has not seen the field since Week 1 of the 2017 season when he ruptured his left Achilles. Then, this year, he developed a heel problem on his right foot. Berry was diagnosed with Haglund’s deformity, an issue that causes pain in the Achilles area. In late November, Berry was finally cleared to practice with his teammates for the first time since training camp. On Wednesday, he got the long-awaited go-ahead to play.

The Chiefs have enjoyed a phenomenal year, even without their star safety. The 11-2 squad will be only stronger with Berry back out on the field and could push the defense closer to the unreal production of the offensive unit.

The Chiefs’ defense has allowed the third most total yards of any team in the NFL (5,325) while surrendering the most passing yards (3,663). Berry, who has three All-Pro nods and five Pro Bowl selections to his credit, could go a long way towards tamping down those numbers.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they still won’t be at full strength for their big game against the Chargers. Running back Spencer Ware is doubtful, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter), and wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been officially ruled out. Running back Damien Williams is in line to start in place of Ware and the Chiefs will once again rely heavily on Tyreek Hill to pick up the slack at wide receiver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs RB Spencer Ware Restructures Deal

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware has agreed to restructure his deal. Ware will see $725K of his $1.45M base salary converted into incentives, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, the incentives are largely obtainable, so he still has a real chance at earning the full $1.45MM for 2018.

[RELATED: Chiefs Rumors: Mahomes, Rogers, Ford, OL]

Ware was believed to be in line for the Chiefs’ backup job, but it’s possible that Charcandrick West could leapfrog him for the No. 2 RB role. Last year, West scored four touchdowns as Kareem Hunt‘s backup. Ware, meanwhile, missed the entire season with a torn PCL and a damaged LCL.

Ware was solid as the Chiefs’ starter in 2016 as he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and caught 33 passes for 447 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll look to pick up where he left off in 2018, before reaching free agency next March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Rumors: Mahomes, Rogers, Ford, OL

Being a first-year starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes will bring some risk to the Chiefs‘ outlook Alex Smith did not. But the potential reward looks to be much greater. Andy Reid acknowledges the 2017 first-round pick will experience the usual issues adjusting to NFL starter life, but the sixth-year Chiefs coach made it clear he doesn’t want to deprive Mahomes of playmaking opportunities his skill set could create.

You surely don’t want to stifle that at all. One thing that he is blessed with is he has good vision, so you don’t ever want to stifle that and put him in a box with that. Allow him to see,” Reid said from Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. “Is there going to be a hiccup here or there? Yeah there’s going to be a hiccup here or there, but you don’t want to stifle that at all.”

Reid added that Mahomes, viewed as a raw but potentially special arm talent out of Texas Tech as a prospect last year, is farther along this year compared to where Smith was in 2013. With the addition of Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs have also outfitted Mahomes with a better collection of skill-position talent than Smith (or possibly any previous Kansas City quarterback) received.

Here’s the latest out of western Missouri:

  • While the Chiefs’ offense looks capable of being one of the NFL’s best units, Kansas City’s defense has plenty of questions. A key one will be the status of their injury-prone edge rushers. Justin Houston enters camp healthy and is signed long-term, but Dee Ford may only be back because an injury left him unable to pass a March physical. His $8.718MM fifth-year option vested, but Ford realizes he’s under pressure to perform this season after a career that’s seen just one productive year (2016, when he had a Chiefs-most 10 sacks). The Chiefs also drafted edge defenders in each of the past two second rounds, in Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks (the latter of whom K.C. traded up to acquire). “Everyone’s seen flashes of what I can do. This is the opportunity to really (show it) for 16 games,” Ford said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “In order to be a great player you have to be consistent. You can’t just be good (like 2016 in) those first 10 games or so before I got hurt. Everybody was like, ‘That’s the guy we expected,’ and then I got hurt. … This is the time to put it all together.”
  • Eli Rogers left his Chiefs visit Monday without a deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Rogers will now meet with the Browns, who have his three-year OC on staff in Todd Haley. The Raiders have also scheduled a summit with the slot receiver. Behind Watkins and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs employ Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson and the recently re-signed De’Anthony Thomas.
  • Despite a 2016 ACL tear hijacking both of Parker Ehinger‘s first two NFL seasons, he still might be the frontrunner to work as the Chiefs’ starting left guard, Nate Taylor of The Athletic writes (subscription required). A fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati two years ago, Ehinger opened his rookie year as a starter but missed all but one game last season. Bryan Witzmann and Jordan Devey represent his primary competitors, per Taylor, who adds that Cameron Erving could linger here as well if he cannot unseat fourth-year center Mitch Morse.
  • Like Ford, Spencer Ware‘s been cleared to begin training camp without a PUP list stay, but the 2016 starter won’t automatically be given the backup job, per Taylor. Charcandrick West remains a factor and scored four touchdowns as Kareem Hunt‘s backup last season. West and Ware will battle for the backup role, just as they did in 2015 when they vied for time behind a then-healthy Jamaal Charles.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Mack, Chiefs

Tony Sparano changed the Raiders‘ culture during his time in Oakland, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes. Sparano, who died unexpectedly over the weekend, didn’t win when he was at the helm of the Raiders, but he earned the respect of his players through his hard work and love of the game.

He is up close and personal and blunt,” defensive end Justin Tuck once said. “He treats like you a man. I like his coaching style. … He is honest. There is no B.S. with Coach Sparano.”

Sparano worked for nine NFL teams in 19 seasons and he touched innumerable lives during his years on the sidelines. Success is largely measured by wins and losses in football, but Sparano achieved a great deal even when the record of his team did not show it.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • There’s reason to believe that Khalil Mack could take an aggressive approach towards his negotiations with the Raiders, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets. Corry notes that Mack is represented by Joel Segal, who represented running back Chris Johnson‘s during his holdout with the Titans in 2011. If Mack has the same resolve as Johnson, the Raiders may not see him until he gets a new deal. For reference, Johnson’s holdout in 2011 was not resolved until early September.
  • Good news for the Chiefs. Center Mitch Morse, linebacker Dee Ford, and running back Spencer Ware are expected to practice with the team and will not go on the PUP list to start camp (via the Associated Press). “All those guys, everybody else is good,” head coach Andy Reid said. “Again I just want to see on the field and we’ll kind of monitor as it goes but, yeah, they all should be ready to go.”
  • Broncos linebacker Shane Ray received some unexpected good news this week. He won’t have to undergo another wrist surgery and the team believes that he is not in danger of missing games.
  • Earl Thomas to the Chargers? Don’t bet on it.

AFC Notes: Brock, Ware, Bell, Raiders, Colts

The odds of the Browns releasing quarterback Brock Osweiler and eating his fully guaranteed $16MM salary have seemingly increased in recent days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk contends. Cleveland saved $15.25MM – nearly the sum of Osweiler’s salary – by releasing defensive lineman Desmond Bryant and cornerback Joe Haden in the past week-plus, which could make it easier to part with the QB now that he won’t be its starter, Florio posits. Osweiler is unlikely to garner any trade interest, so cutting the 26-year-old would enable the Browns to recoup a bit of his salary ($775K) if he signs elsewhere for the league minimum.

More from around the AFC:

  • Chiefs running back Spencer Ware did indeed suffer a torn PCL and LCL in the team’s preseason game against the Seahawks last week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirms (on Twitter). Ware will undergo surgery and miss the entire season, leaving him in line for an “intense rehab,” Rapoport notes.
  • Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will end his holdout Friday specifically to avoid landing on the roster exempt list, Florio reports. If Bell were to show up after cuts occur Saturday, the Steelers would be able to place the franchise-tagged star on the list for up to two weeks and pay him a lesser salary than his $711K game check during that period. It’s unlikely Pittsburgh would’ve done that, per Florio, but Bell will remove the possibility by showing up before cutdown day.
  • The Raiders may attempt to acquire a linebacker via trade or waiver claim in the coming days, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. As Gehlken writes, the club didn’t invest much in the position in the offseason – it signed Jelani Jenkins for $1MM and used a fifth-round pick on Marquel Lee – and Cory James is now dealing with an undisclosed injury.
  • The Colts have worked out fullback Jody Webb, Alex Marvez of Sporting News tweets. Webb went undrafted out of Youngstown State in the spring and hasn’t signed with a team since then.

Chiefs’ Spencer Ware Likely Done For Season

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware is expected to require season-ending surgery for a torn PCL and a damaged LCL, Kansas City head trainer Rick Burkholder told reporters, including B.J. Kissel of Chiefs.com (Twitter link) and Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link).Spencer Ware

Initial reports indicated Ware would only be sidelined for two-to-eight weeks, a timeline that would have allowed him to return during the 2017 campaign (the Chiefs would have had the option to designate Ware as an injured reserve/return player). Ware will get a second opinion on his health status, but the outlook isn’t positive.

Kansas City has the depth to withstand the loss of Ware, and rookie third-round selection Kareem Hunt will likely step into the starting lineup. Charcandrick West figures to serve as a reserve, while Chiefs head coach Andy Reid also said veteran back C.J. Spiller will likely be part of Kansas City’s roster (Twitter link via Paylor). If Kansas City searches for an external addition, free agents such as DeAngelo Williams, Rashad Jennings, and Ryan Mathews could come into play.

Ware, 25, has spent the past two seasons with the Chiefs, and was the club’s full-time starter for the 2016 season. Last year, he managed 4.3 yards per carry on 214 rushes and scored three times, adding 33 receptions, 447 yards, and two more touchdowns through the air. Ware is signed through 2018 as part of a three-year extension he signed prior to the 2016 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs RB Spencer Ware Injures PCL, LCL

It certainly didn’t look good when Chiefs running back Spencer Ware was carted off the field during his team’s preseason game against the Seahawks last night. Fortunately, the injury doesn’t sound as bad as it looked.

According to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, Ware suffered a PCL injury and will undergo a MRI today to determine the damage and how much time he’ll miss. Schefter notes that the recovery timetable could range anywhere from two to eight weeks, although he also notes that Ware avoided injuring his ACL, so the injury shouldn’t be season-ending.

Ware also damaged his LCL, Ian Rapoport notes (on Twitter), adding the tests on his knee proved inconclusive. This stands to further complicate the presumptive Chiefs starter’s status.

Spencer Ware“Ware sprained his knee,” coach Andy Reid said after the game (via Matt McMullen of Chiefs.com). “The X-rays were negative and he’ll have an MRI tomorrow. We’ll just see how that turns out.”

The 2013 sixth-round pick had a breakout campaign last season, leading the Chiefs running game with 921 yards and three touchdowns on 214 carries. The 25-year-old was also productive in the passing game, hauling in 33 receptions for 447 yards and two scores. After the team released veteran Jamaal Charles back in February, it was assumed that Ware would be the team’s bona-fide top running back heading into the season.

Now, the team will at least have to eye some alternative options for the time being. The Chiefs are rostering a pair of veterans in Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller, although it sounds like rookie Kareem Hunt may be the favorite for the interim starter role. The third-round pick was relatively productive in last night’s preseason loss, compiling 39 rushing yards on nine carries.

“Kareem got good work last week and he learned how fast this thing can change where all of a sudden you become that starter and in a position to do that,” said Reid, perhaps confirming that Hunt will indeed be the starter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Spencer Ware Carted Off With Knee Injury

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware left the field on a cart during the first quarter of their game against the Seahawks on Friday after suffering a right knee injury on a 6-yard reception. The Chiefs confirmed the injury, but the severity remains unknown.

Spencer Ware

The Seahawks were the first NFL employer for Ware, who entered the league as a sixth-round pick of theirs in 2013. He joined the Chiefs a year later and, after a strong 2015 campaign in reserve, became their go-to to running back last season amid now-Bronco Jamaal Charles‘ injury troubles. Ware ended up rushing for 921 yards on 214 carries and adding five touchdowns (three rushing, two receiving), to go with 33 catches and 447 yards. If healthy, he’s likely to reprise his role as their starter this year, though whether he’ll be physically up to it is now in question.

The Chiefs, who will seek their third straight playoff berth in 2017, did attempt to bolster their backfield behind Ware in the offseason. The team spent a third-round pick on former Toledo star Kareem Hunt, who came in after Ware departed Friday, and signed onetime 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Spiller. Charcandrick West is also on hand, but he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 88 attempts last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Extend Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware

1:53pm: Interestingly, West and Ware appear to have signed to the exact same terms, according to Rapoport, who tweets that both deals are two-year extensions worth $3.6MM, with $2.35MM guaranteed.

11:19am: The Chiefs have locked up a pair of running backs to new contract extensions, the team announced today in a press release. As first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, who teamed up to replace Jamaal Charles after his ACL injury last season, have signed new deals with the team.Charcandrick West

“Charcandrick and Spencer both stepped in and were very effective for us offensively last year,” Chiefs GM John Dorsey said in a statement. “These guys have different styles and abilities, and together they provide us quality depth at the running back position.”

The timing of the extensions for West and Ware is interesting, since neither player would have even be eligible for restricted free agency until 2017, meaning they weren’t on track to become unrestricted free agents until 2018. Nonetheless, the Chiefs clearly liked what they saw from the duo last season, and are perhaps preparing for the end of the Jamaal Charles era in Kansas City.

Although Charles – who has a $5.3MM+ cap charge – is expected to remain on the Chiefs’ roster in 2016, his cap hit increases to $7MM in 2017, the final year of his current deal. He’s coming off another major knee injury, and will turn 30 later this year, so it makes sense that Dorsey and the Chiefs would be looking ahead to the future.

West, who turns 25 in June, was the first man up for the Chiefs in 2015 when Charles went down, and ultimately carried the ball 160 times for 634 yards and four touchdowns. He added another 20 receptions and a TD through the air.

As for Ware, he earned a couple starts when West got hurt, and averaged 5.6 yards per carry on 72 attempts, for 403 yards and six touchdowns for the season. According to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link), Ware’s extension is for two years, so he’ll be under contract through the 2018 campaign. Rapoport tweets that the two-year extension is heavy on incentives — the base value is $3.6MM, with $2.35MM guaranteed, but it can be worth up to $9.6MM via yardage and TD incentives.

With Charles, West, and Ware all in the mix for 2016, Knile Davis finds himself buried on Kansas City’s depth chart, and Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets that the team is working on a trade involving Davis. Details on those talks aren’t known yet, and it’s not clear if anything will get done, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Dolphins, who have been in the market for running back help all month, have some interest in Davis — we heard last week that Miami was exploring trade options for a back.

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