Will Fuller

South Notes: Fuller, Quinn, Leftwich

The Texans are hopeful that wide receiver Will Fuller will be able to retake the field next week in Baltimore against the Ravens, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. Fuller has missed the team’s previous two games after suffering a hamstring injury against the Colts.

Fuller is one of the best deep threats in football, especially when he takes the field opposite of all-pro DeAndre Hopkins. Prior to his injury, Fuller was on pace to eclipse 70 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career. Those marks may be unattainable now, but at 6-3, the Texans are in the thick of the AFC playoff picture coming out of their bye. Fuller would surely aid them in their pursuit of a Super Bowl title.

Here’s more from the NFC and AFC South:

  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has been firmly on the hot-seat for many weeks. However, after a dominating victory over the Saints on Sunday, Quinn has bought himself at least a temporary reprieve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Just a few seasons away from a Super Bowl appearance, this year has fallen far short of expectations, especially on defense. However, New Orleans potent offense looked overwhelmed for much of the game.
  • After a 30-27 victory in a shootout against the Cardinals, the Buccaneers offense continues to produce in spit of Jameis Winston‘s propensity for turnovers. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich deserves a large amount of credit as the playcaller, however, he almost never got the responsibilities in the first place. In the offseason, head coach Bruce Arians had to convince ownership that someone other than him should call plays, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times.

Extra Points: Chiefs, Gase, Matthews, Texans

The Chiefs announced today that they signed team president Mark Donovan to a long-term extension.

“I’d like to congratulate Mark and his family on this well-deserved recognition,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Because of Mark’s leadership over the past decade, the business operations of the Chiefs are among the best in professional sports, and he and his team have worked tirelessly to create the best fan experience in the National Football League. Mark is an innovative leader and a talented executive who is widely respected in our industry and in the Kansas City community. I am thrilled that he will continue to be a key part of the leadership of the Chiefs for many years to come.”

Donovan joined the organization as their COO back in 2009, and he earned the promotion to his current role in 2011. The press release notes that he’s played a major role in helping to “re-establish Arrowhead Stadium as an elite venue for not only sports, but other forms of entertainment.” Donovan started working for the NFL back in 1999, and he’s also spent time with the Eagles organization.

Here are more NFL notes as we wrap up this Tuesday night:

  • Bill O’Brien said wide receiver Will Fuller is progressing from his hamstring injury (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter). The wideout hasn’t played since suffering the injury during the Texans‘ Week 7 loss to the Colts. Meanwhile, Keke Coutee‘s absence shouldn’t be attributed to injury; O’Brien said the wideout hasn’t played due to his lack of “attention to detail” (via Wilson). The head coach made it clear that it wasn’t an effort issue, noting that the former fourth-rounder is a “great guy.”
  • The Jets fell to 1-7 after losing to the rebuilding Dolphins, meaning Adam Gase has naturally found himself on the hot seat. However, the head coach told reporters that he isn’t focused on his job security. “It’s just something that I don’t really focus on,” Gase said (via Brian Costello of the New York Post). “My job is to try to get the team prepared every week, get them ready to go, get them focused on the game that we have to play. One and seven is not fun to go through. Things haven’t gone the way that we wanted to. It’s just that’s what happens in the NFL sometimes and unfortunately, we’re going through it right now.” Gase joined the organization back in January on a four-year contract that’s rumored to be worth upwards of $20MM.
  • It was barely a month ago that Clay Matthews broke his jaw, but the Rams linebacker is set to return to practice. Coach Sean McVay told reporters that the veteran will return to the practice field this week, and the coaching staff will evaluate his progress as they determine his availability for this weekend. “Everything’s checked out in a positive manner up to this point, so I think it’s just kind of progressing back to, ‘How comfortable do you feel putting a helmet on?’” McVay told the team’s website. “Some of the collisions that naturally would occur and just kind of trusting that you’re nice and secure in that absence of some of that stuff that kind of kept it in place and helped it heal over the last couple weeks.” Matthews has six sacks in five games with his new squad.
  • Long snapper Kevin McDermott underwent elbow surgery back in August, and the free agent has been cleared by doctors to resume snapping, tweets NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. The 29-year-old had spent the previous four seasons with the Vikings before getting cut by the team this past August. The UCLA product has appeared in 86 career games.

Texans Work Out Eli Rogers

The Texans are working out wide receiver Eli Rogers, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

One of Houston’s starting wideouts, Will Fuller, left Sunday’s loss to the Colts with a hamstring injury. In a separate report today, Rapoport described the injury as a “rather significant hamstring pull” that is expected to keep Fuller off the field for “several weeks.”

While star DeAndre Hopkins is the undisputed top receiver in Houston, Fuller has been a valuable second option for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Thus far in 2019, Fuller had already amassed 34 receptions for 450 yards and three touchdowns. However, injuries have been a consistent part of the 2016 first-round pick’s career thus far.

Rogers may be the most proven receiver on the free-agent market aside from Antonio Brown. Coincidentally, Rogers also made his name with the Steelers. Pittsburgh signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville in 2016. As a rookie, Rogers started half of the team’s games and made 48 receptions for 594 yards and three touchdowns.

His role faded in 2017 as JuJu Smith-Schuster began emerging opposite of Brown. Then in the playoffs, Rogers tore his ACL and missed almost the entirety of the 2018 season. Unable to reassert himself into Pittsburgh’s rotation, the organization released him in their final roster cuts prior to this season.

He has already had workouts with the Buccaneers and Dolphins, but has yet to sign a contract. Given the significance of Fuller’s role in Houston, a newcomer will not be expected to step into the starting lineup. But, someone with experience, like Rogers, could help make up for the loss.

Texans Pick Up Will Fuller’s Fifth-Year Option

The Texans have picked up wide receiver Will Fuller‘s fifth-year option, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 KRIV (via Twitter). Fuller is now under club control through 2020, and his 2020 salary — which is guaranteed for injury only — will be $10.1MM (unless the two sides work out an extension before then).

This decision further supports a report from earlier this month that Fuller is expected to make a full recovery from the ACL tear he suffered last year. Indeed, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reiterated today (via Twitter) that Fuller, who is one of the game’s best deep threats, should be ready for the 2019 opener.

Fuller, whom the Texans selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, averaged a career-high 15.7 yards per reception in seven games last season before tearing his ACL. During that time, he posted 32 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns and reeled in 71.% percent of all passes thrown to him by Deshaun Watson.

If he can stay healthy this season, he could position himself nicely for a long-term deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Rumors: Texans, Falcons, Saints

The Texans have received positive health news on two offensive players, as both receiver Will Fuller and left tackle Matt Kalil are expected to be ready for the regular season after sustaining injuries in 2018, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (all Twitter links). Fuller averaged a career-high 15.7 yards per reception in seven games before suffering a torn ACL, but he’s now recovering nicely. Kalil, who inked a one-year deal with Houston after being released by Carolina, missed all of last year while dealing with a knee issue, but general manager Brian Gaine says Kalil is expected to compete with Julien Davenport to start on Deshaun Watson‘s blindside.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard is a second-round target of the Falcons, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com lauds Howard’s size (6’2′”, 322) and ability to “explode out of his stance,” but notes potential concerns about Howard’s level of competition in the FCS. Atlanta owns the 45th pick, so Howard could certainly be available when the Falcons make their second-round selection. Although Atlanta recently extended incumbent right tackle Ty Sambrailo, his new contract is essentially a one-year deal with multiple team options. Howard has also met with the Jets during the pre-draft process.
  • Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison‘s one-year deal with the Falcons will qualify as a minimum salary benefit contract, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Davison will collect an $895K base salary ($110K guaranteed) and a $90K signing bonus, but he’ll only carry the salary cap charge of a second-year veteran plus his signing bonus — a total of $660K. A fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft, Davison started 48 games over the past four seasons in New Orleans, and will now give Atlanta a run-stuffing option alongside fellow defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
  • Saints cornerback Ken Crawley is planning to sign his original round restricted free agent tender when New Orleans begins its offseason program on Monday, as Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com writes. As of yet, Crawley has not received any interest from any rival clubs, and isn’t expected to until Friday’s deadline for RFAs to sign offer sheets. Crawley is now scheduled to earn $2.025MM for the 2019 campaign, but none of that total is guaranteed, an important distinction given that Crawley isn’t a lock to make the Saints’ roster after finishing as a bottom-three cornerback last season, per Pro Football Focus.

Texans WR Will Fuller Done For Season

On Friday morning, tests confirmed the Texans’ worst fears. Wide receiver Will Fuller suffered a season-ending torn ACL and will be placed on injured reserve, head coach Bill O’Brien announced. 

Fuller, 24, was on pace to have the best season of his career. Through seven games, he hauled in 32 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns and reeled 71.% percent of all passes thrown to him by Deshaun Watson. The Texans will have to get by without Fuller’s production and the attention that he takes off of star receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Since entering the league as a first-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2016, Fuller has missed eight possible regular season games. That number will grow to 17 after he misses the second half of the 2018 season.

The Texans are now expected to survey the free agent market for receivers. Many will connect the dots between the Texas team and Dez Bryant, but there are no indications that the Texans are interested in the veteran. Terrelle Pryor is also among those looking for work, and he says he’s healthy and ready to contribute.

Alternatively, the Texans could look to their practice squad for reinforcements. They currently have three receivers – Malachi Dupre, Cyril Grayson, and Issac Whitney – waiting in the wings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Fear Torn ACL For Will Fuller

The Texans believe that wide receiver Will Fuller tore the ACL in his right knee, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Of course, that injury would rule Fuller out for the remainder of the season. 

Fuller will receive a full examination on Friday, which will determine the full extent of the injury. If the Texans are lucky, the scans may reveal only a severe sprain of the joint, but there’s not a lot of optimism in Houston.

Fuller injured his knee midway through the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s win over the Dolphins as he was going for a deep pass in the end zone. He was in the midst of a huge game, having already caught five balls for 124 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown. Losing Fuller would be tragic for both the team and the player who was also sidelined for much of the 2017 season.

If Fuller is done for the season, the Texans will have to rely even more heavily on DeAndre Hopkins. They also have the diminutive Keke Coutee, who has been a pleasant surprise this year, on hand, but he is currently dealing with a hamstring issue of his own. Sammie Coates and Vyncint Smith are the only other receivers on the roster, so they’ll have to make at least one depth signing if Fuller is done for the year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Peyton, Fuller, Big Ben, JuJu

Peyton Manning has taken a few years off from the game after his Super Bowl farewell in 2016. However, he’s been widely speculated to move into a team president type role as soon as he fills like jumping back into the industry, and there should a wide amount of interest in his services.

As part of his Friday column, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated mentioned that Manning would likely be on the top of the list for any team with an opening at the head of their football operations. He spoke to a source on the Broncos current staff who said that, “There’d honestly be no one better.” 

Breer expressed that while the former Colts and Broncos signal caller doesn’t have any front office experience, he’s been preparing for the position for years as a player, specifically shadowing the actions of current Broncos football czar, John Elway. As a player, Manning always kept tabs on the draft, free agency and many of the other aspects that go into leading an NFL franchise. While there’s nothing like firsthand experience in that atmosphere, Manning has clearly demonstrated his vast knowledge of the game in the way he revolutionized the quarterback position during his time in the league.

“He’ll be extremely successful in anything he chooses to do because of the person is, how smart he is and how hard he works,” said one personnel man who worked with him in Indy. “He’ll be extremely well prepared, have done research on the job and have an understanding of what the job entails. 

Breer speculates that the Browns would likely be clamoring to bring Manning aboard to lead their football operations, among pretty much any other front office needy franchise.

  • The Texans have been without big play threat Will Fuller for the past two weeks and head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t expect that to change in Week 13, reports Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The 2016 first round pick missed the opening part of the year with injury too, but sandwiched an outstanding run of games in which he scored six times in four contests. Barshop does note that the O’Brien didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of Fuller making a return in the final few weeks of the regular season.
  • The Steelers are in a much different spot than the Giants at this point in time, but veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger opened up to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to discuss how he empathizes with the situation Eli Manning is going through right now. “It sparks the reality that that could be me,” Roethlisberger said. “They could do that to me next year or whenever, who knows? It’s eye-opening that you have to take every play, every game, don’t take it for granted, take it for what it is because you never know when you’re done.” However, while Big Ben and Eli were taken in the same draft and both have multiple Super Bowls to their credit, the Steelers signal caller doesn’t believe that the only team he’s ever known would treat him in the same way. “I don’t, and I don’t mean to talk negatively about the Giants, especially I know the Steelers and Giants are very close and are family, too. But I don’t think they would, I think they would handle it differently.” These are interesting comments considering Roethlisberger expressed some reservations about continuing to play this past offseason, and even though he’s recovered nicely from a unusually slow start, the fact that he’s thinking about these career questions shouldn’t be overlooked.
  • On the field, Pittsburgh is expected to have rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster back in the lineup for the team’s Monday night affair against the Bengals, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. The 21-year-old sat out last week’s victory over the Packers with an ankle injury, but returned to practice in-full on Thursday. He’ll likely continue to operate in the slot with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant playing more on the boundaries.

 

 

AFC Notes: Jets, Darnold, Rosen, Fuller, Broncos TE’s, Williams

While the game probably will not effect the College Football Playoff, USC vs. UCLA will certainly have a ton of NFL Draft implications. Both starting quarterbacks, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, are considered two of the best QB draft prospects eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft, and will try to outshine each other during Saturday’s contest. The hyped matchup will be attended by 20 teams in some form, including the QB needy Jets, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Jets were most recently connected to Wyoming signal caller Josh Allen, although Allen’s draft status has taken a big hit because of some early season struggles vs. top level collegiate defenses. New York’s season has gone a bit better than many expected, but they still have a long-term need at the QB position with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty not looking like the long-term answer. The Jets, along with many other scouting departments will definitely get a good comparison of two of the top signal callers in all of college football in Los Angeles this weekend.

  • The Texans have faced a number of injuries to key players including J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and most recently quarterback Deshaun Watson. Now another playmaker who missed time early in the season will be forced to the sidelines again. Big play receiver Will Fuller will miss Sunday’s game with a rib injury, according Houston’s official injury report released on Friday afternoon. This leaves the team without another weapon for now starter Tom Savage and puts added pressure on DeAndre Hopkins to make contested plays due to increased attention from the defensive backs. Fuller missed the Texans first three games with a broken collarbone, but has since caught an impressive seven touchdowns in the past six games. Bruce Ellington is the next man up on the depth chart to try and replace Fuller’s downfield threat ability.
  • The Broncos have just one tight end on the roster entering the weekend for this Sunday’s game against the Bengals. Both A.J. Derby and Jeff Heuerman have been ruled out, which leaves Virgil Green as the lone name left on the depth chart, according to Mike Klis of 9news.com. Derby is recovering from a shoulder injury that he suffered this past Sunday night and Heuerman is dealing with a knee injury. It should be noted that no Broncos tight end has been a huge factor in the team’s offense, with Denver mostly relying on the receiving combo of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to move the football through the air. Klis does note that the team is expected to call up practice squad tight end Austin Traylor to take snaps as the team’s number two, adding that interestingly an unknown offensive lineman could work as the Broncos number three option if need be.
  • In order for the Browns to activate wide receiver Corey Coleman, they opted to waive fellow wideout Kasen Williams. The team has learned that Williams has passed through waivers and is free to sign with any practice squad he chooses, tweets Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. The 25 year-old receiver first latched on with the Seattle back in 2015, but appeared in seven games with Cleveland so far this season.

Injury Notes: Winston, Freeman, Fuller, Hurns

We heard yesterday that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston could miss “an extended period” of time as he recovered from a shoulder injury. However, head coach Dirk Koetter was still adamant that the franchise signal-caller would take the field again this season.

“Again, (the plan we adopted) was for Jameis to rest for two weeks and then we’re going to see where he’s at,” Koetter said (via Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders). “We’ve talked to multiple doctors (about it) and that’s what the plan is.

 “And I know that Jameis plans on playing again (this year). And there’s been no discussion between Jason and myself of him not playing again so that would all be something that would have to come up in the future.’’

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Falcons running back Devonta Freeman is unlikely to suit up for next Monday’s game against the Seahawks, reports ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Freeman suffered his second concussion of the season this past weekend, although Schefter notes that the player isn’t expected to miss multiple games. The 25-year-old has compiled 515 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee may be forced to shut it down for several weeks. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the defender is unlikely to play this week or during the team’s Thanksgiving contest against the Chargers. Head coach Jason Garrett confirmed that Lee may miss several games, noting that “it might be some time” before he returns (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com).
  • Texans wideout Will Fuller suffered a cracked rib during his team’s loss to the Rams this weekend, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). Fortunately, the second-year player didn’t experience extensive damage and may only miss a single game. The 23-year-old has been a touchdown machine this season, hauling in seven scores.
  • We learned last week that Bengals running back Jeremy Hill‘s season was over, and it sounds like it was the player’s decision to be placed on the injured reserve. Head coach Marvin Lewis said it was Hill who ultimately opted for the ankle surgery, which resulted in him landing on the injured reserve (via Rapoport on Twitter). The former second-rounder has compiled only 116 rushing yards on 37 carries this season, a far cry from his 1,124-yard performance in 2014.
  • Jaguars wideout Allen Hurns suffered a right ankle injury against the Chargers on Sunday, and coach Doug Marrone doesn’t see him taking the field this weekend. “Yeah, I don’t anticipate him playing this week,’’ Marrone said (via Cummings). “I would say yes (in terms of him missing this week), but I wouldn’t know (about his availability) after that.’’ As Cummings points out, Hurns absence could force the team to finally play wideout Dede Westbrook, who is eligible to be activated off of the injured reserve.