Tarik Cohen

Extra Points: Redskins, Bears, Fins, Packers

If rookie Derrius Guice isn’t the Redskins‘ starting running back in Week 1, consider Washington’s backfield a surprise, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Guice was expected to be selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, but off-field concerns ultimately forced him into Day 2. While he’s never been involved in any legal trouble, Guice has been labeled as “immature,” and his pre-draft visit with the Eagles was reportedly the worst such meeting Philadelphia had ever taken with a prospect. All that aside, Guice has landed in an intriguing spot, and should easily be able to beat out the likes of Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine for early-down work in the nation’s capital. Passing downs still belongs to Chris Thompson, who registered 54 catches in 2017 before going down with fractured fibula.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Bears running back Tarik Cohen managed 53 receptions during his rookie season in 2017, and his role could grow even larger during his sophomore NFL campaign, as Cohen told The Jim Rome Show that Chicago’s new offensive staff has been lining him up all over the field. “It’s similar to some of the stuff I did in college,” Cohen said, according to Madeline Kinney of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I feel like like if I can take the football, he (new head coach Matt Nagy) also wants me to take the football, too. So how many plays he has me at — I’ve been everywhere. It’s been crazy.” For what it’s worth, Nagy has reportedly already indicated Jordan Howard will be the Bears’ “main guy” in the backfield, as he well should be after posting 1,000+ yard rushing seasons in each of his first two NFL seasons. But Nagy and new offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will likely deploy Cohen as a satellite back, as he’s far more capable in the passing game than is Howard.
  • 2017 second-round pick Raekwon McMillan was pegged to become the Dolphins‘ starting middle linebacker in his rookie campaign, but a torn ACL ended his first NFL season before it began. Still, Miami brass — including defensive coordinator Matt Burke — still views McMillan as an important part of the club’s defense going forward, as Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post writes. “We had high hopes for him last year,” Burke said. “Nothing he’s done since then has discouraged that. … He’s been really in-tune, been really sharp. He’s got all the leadership skills and things that we look for, especially at that position. He’s worked his ass off to get better. He’s rehabbed. He’s in here every day. He hasn’t shown any limitations so far, which has been encouraging. Hopefully he’s a big piece for us.” The Dolphins cut veteran ‘backer Lawrence Timmons earlier this year, so McMillan appears set to play as an every-down linebacker alongside Kiko Alonso. McMillan, an Ohio State product, participated in Miami’s organized team activity sessions in May, a good sign of his progress.
  • Approximately six teams were vying to sign undrafted running back Akrum Wadley earlier this year, but the Iowa product ultimately landed with the Titans, where he now could land a spot on the club’s opening 53-man roster, writes Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. Tennessee only made four selections in the 2018 draft, necessitating its large — 22-man — undrafted free agent class. Wadley was part of that crop, and now he’s one of only five backs on the team, joining Dion Lewis, Derrick Henry, David Fluellen, and fellow UDFA Dalyn Dawkins. As such, it’s entirely possible Wadley could beat out Fluellen for the Titans’ third running back job, although he’ll likely need to flash on special teams to do so. Wadley topped 1,000 yards rushing in each of his two final collegiate seasons, and totaled 64 receptions during those years.
  • Offensive tackle Kyle Murphy showed well in three games as a Packers‘ starter in 2017, but he’s now attempting to come back from a foot injury that cost him the remainder of the season, as Mike Spofford of Packers.com details. Murphy, a 2016 sixth-round pick, was fully cleared for minicamp, and now could have a legitimate chance to start on the right side of Green Bay’s front five. Bryan Bulaga, the Packers’ nominal right tackle, is once again dealing with injuries of his own, and if he’s not medically cleared, right tackle will turn into a competition between Murphy, former second-rounder Jason Spriggs, and veteran addition Byron Bell. As a unit, Green Bay’s offensive line ranked fifth in run-blocking but just 28th in pass-blocking, per Football Outsiders.

North Notes: Burfict, Bears, Packers, Decker

Vontaze Burfict‘s Bengals contract calls for a $2MM roster bonus if he’s on the team by March 31 of next year, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The Bengals protected themselves heavily with the Burfict extension, one that could pay out $33.234MM through 2020, since the deal comes with just $3.3MM guaranteed. Speaking publicly about the extension for the first time, Burfict didn’t elaborate much about his decision to bypass free agency for a largely non-guaranteed deal. Although, he did say he appreciates the Bengals’ support in agreeing to take him on long-term given his suspension history. “I hope so,” Burfict said (via Owczarski) of the feeling of support. “I give my blood, sweat and tears out on the field. It’s vice versa. I appreciate everything they do for me and my family and like I said, let’s go get a win on Sunday. Now we’re in for four more years, so we’re past it now. So now obviously just win some games.”

The Bengals reinstated Burfict on Thursday.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions on a night when their most storied rivalry takes center stage.

  • The BearsTarik Cohen pursuit began when Ryan Pace‘s top southeastern scout declared the then-North Carolina A&T running back was his favorite player to watch, over all of the SEC prospects he observed, and the Chicago GM soon became enamored as well, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). The Bears selected several small-school talents this year, with second-round tight end Adam Shaheen being the first, but Cohen — a fourth-rounder — has played an impact role from the start.
  • While Cohen will receive his first chance to display the elusiveness that enticed the Bears to a national audience, the Packers will be down several key players. Both starting tackles — David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga — are out, and Mike Daniels will miss the Week 4 tilt as well. The Packers are already down would-be backup options in Don Barclay, Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy — each on IR — so Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets a four-guard lineup could be on tap. Justin McCray, who started at tackle for Bakhtiari in Week 2, and fellow rookie Adam Pankey join second-year player Lucas Patrick in the mix to protect Aaron Rodgers on Thursday. Each of those players entered the league as a UDFA. The Packers played without both starting tackles against the Falcons, with Murphy and McCray receiving the replacement starts.
  • The Bears aren’t judging Mike Glennon in their impending quarterback swap but rather are monitoring Mitch Trubisky to determine when the rookie will be ready to take over, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes. Glennon has struggled during his first three starts, and Biggs categorizes the season’s plan — once based around Trubisky redshirting as a rookie — as a week-to-week arrangement.
  • Ka’Deem Carey‘s Bears injury settlement was worth $273,529, Biggs reports. The Bears placed the backup running back on IR just before the season, and the settlement came shortly after.
  • Not known for particularly expansive pressers, Jim Caldwell succinctly assessed Taylor Decker‘s status. The fourth-year Lions coach said Decker is “progressing towards” a midseason return, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. The left tackle was given a four- to six-month timetable upon a labrum tear in June. Midseason would fall in that range. Greg Robinson currently mans the left edge for the Lions.
  • Tests done on Danny Shelton‘s injured calf don’t look to reveal a serious malady, Rapoport tweets. The Browns defensive tackle injured the calf in practice Wednesday. He has not missed a game in his three-year career.

Draft Pick Signings: 5/11/17

Thursday has been chock-full of draft signings. Here are the latest rookies to ink deals:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

  • Round 4 (No. 119): Tarik Cohen, RB (North Carolina A&T)
  • Round 5 (No. 147): Jordan Morgan, OL (Kutztown)

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

  • Round 3 (No. 101): Brendan Langley, CB (Lamar)

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Round 7 (No. 222): Jalen Myrick, CB (Minnesota) [via John Oesher of Jaguars.com, on Twitter]

Tennessee Titans

  • Round 7 (No. 236): Brad Seaton, T (Villanova) [Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle]