Titans may call on young cornerbacks

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jason McCourty, the Tennessee Titans top cornerback, is questionable for Sunday's game in Cincinnati with the groin injury he suffered against the Dallas Cowboys.

If Tennessee doesn't feel it can play McCourty and get effective work without risking further injury, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh would start.

Rookie Marqueston Huff was the next guy in against Dallas, and Brandon Harris was a waiver pickup after he was cut by the Houston Texans.

Both spoke this week about their learning curves and preparedness.

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton is ready to call on each of them.

"If you have a hat on, you have to be accountable," Horton said. "Marqueston is practicing hard. I know he's a rookie, but I have complete faith in him and it's great to throw these guys in there and get them tested.

" ... They are different, probably in their skill set. One is smaller and quicker, one is bigger and probably more explosive at the point. We will give them all playing time."

The Titans are certainly unproven beyond McCourty and Sensabaugh as the nickel.

Some were highly critical that the team didn't re-sign Alterraun Verner, who had an excellent year for the Titans in 2013 before jumping to Tampa Bay as a free agent.

It's worth noting that in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 56-14 thrashing Thursday night at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, Verner didn't do a lot to help.

Zastudil out for second straight game

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When the Arizona Cardinals re-signed punter Drew Butler, it meant starter Dave Zastudil was still on the mend.

Zastudil was ruled out of Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers a few hours later with a left groin injury after not practicing Thursday or Friday. He has yet to punt this season because of the nagging injury, which is expected to fully heal during the Cardinals' bye week. He was active in Week 1 to act as a holder for rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro and inactive in Week 2. Butler has eight punts for an average of 44.2 yards.

Linebacker Alex Okafor is also out for Sunday's game with a thigh injury.

Running back Andre Ellington (foot) was upgraded to probable for Sunday after being limited in practice Thursday and Friday.

Tight end Rob Housler (hip), who didn't practice Thursday or Friday, was listed as questionable, as were quarterback Carson Palmer (shoulder) and DT Frostee Rucker (calf).

Getting Rucker back would add depth to a pass rush that was depleted with the loss of outside linebacker John Abraham.

"We feel real good that he's going to test it before the game," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "He was limited today. He's battle tested, especially in this type of game."

Linebackers Larry Foote (shoulder) and Kevin Minter (quad), and center Lyle Sendlein (ankle), were listed as probable.

Dolphins-Chiefs final injury report

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
The Miami Dolphins (1-1) will host the Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

Here is the final injury report for both teams:

Dolphins (1-1)
Chiefs (0-2)
Analysis: There are several interesting things from this final injury report. From Miami's perspective, Pouncey appears to be a no-go at center. He's doubtful and has a better chance to play in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders, which is a game Pouncey has targeted since training camp. Clay is questionable and is an important member of Miami's offense. For Kansas City, the big story is Charles, who is the Chiefs' best player. It appears Charles will be a game-time decision.
The struggling Oakland Raiders’ defense might be taking a big hit at the linebacker position. Outside linebacker Sio Moore was ruled out of Sunday’s game at New England on Sunday and middle linebacker Nick Roach hasn’t been cleared from a concussion he suffered four weeks ago.

While the decision to sit Moore was made Friday, it appears the decision on Roach will come Sunday. He has been practicing on a limited basis, but he hasn't cleared for full contact. Roach, who played every defensive snap last season, suffered the concussion at Green Bay on Aug. 22.

“He’s going through the protocol. He’s getting better every day and hopefully he’ll continue to improve,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said Friday of Roach.

The Raiders clearly have missed Roach, as they've given up a league-high 400 rushing yards in the first two games. And they will miss Moore, who's been one of Oakland's most active defenders. Miles Burris has been playing for Roach but could move outside for Moore, with Kaluka Maiava playing in the middle in that scenario.

The Raiders (0-2) have further injury concerns. Defensive lineman Antonio Smith was a late add to the injury report with a back injury. He is listed as questionable. He was not on the injury report earlier in the week.

Fellow starters Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (hand), cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee) and receiver Rod Streater (hip) are all questionable. Jones-Drew has practiced on a limited basis for the past two days after being hurt in Week 1. Streater practiced Friday for the first time this week.
RENTON – Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin did not practice for the second consecutive day because of a hip injury he suffered in practice Wednesday. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday's Super Bowl rematch with the Denver Broncos.

“He didn’t go [Friday], but he feels a lot better," Carroll said of Irvin. “We thought the best thing to do was rest him. We'll take him up to game time.”

It appears everyone else should be ready to play Sunday, based on the injury report and Carroll’s comments after practice.

Tight end Zach Miller (ankle), running backs Marshawn Lynch (back) and Christine Michael (hamstring), strong safety Kam Chancellor (ankle) and linebackers Mike Morgan (hip) and Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) all are listed as probable.

Miller and Morgan returned to practice Friday after sitting out Thursday. All the others practiced both days.

“Zach did fine [Friday],” Carroll said. “He looks like he’s ready go. We were waiting on a report on a hip injury [on Morgan] and it looks like he’s OK.”

Drew Stanton to start against 49ers

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
[+] EnlargeDrew Stanton
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesWith Carson Palmer still ailing, Drew Stanton will start at quarterback when the Cardinals play the 49ers on Sunday.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals backup quarterback Drew Stanton will start Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, coach Bruce Arians announced Friday.

Stanton will make his second straight start as Carson Palmer continues to recover from a bruised nerve in his right shoulder.

If Palmer can play Sunday, Arians said he'll be the backup and third-string quarterback Logan Thomas will be deactivated. If not, Thomas will back up Stanton for a second straight week.

"Nobody is in the dark about who's going to be the starting quarterback," Arians said.

Palmer has made progress this week but he still can't make the most critical move for a quarterback.

"No, he cannot throw," Arians said. "He's improved dramatically but he still can't throw."

Stanton was 14 for 29 for 167 yards in a 25-14 win over the New York Giants on Sunday, his first game action in 1,365 days.

(Read full post)

Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis missed his third consecutive practice Friday with left ankle and knee injuries and was officially listed by the San Francisco 49ers as being questionable to play Sunday at the Arizona Cardinals.

Backup tight end Vance McDonald, who is nursing a right knee injury, is also questionable, keeping the spotlight on third-stringer Derek Carrier.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who appeared on the injury report Thursday for the first time with a back issue but was a full participant then, was again a full participant Friday. He is listed as probable.

Following is the 49ers' status report for Sunday:

OUT: C Marcus Martin (knee)

QUESTIONABLE: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), RT Anthony Davis (hamstring), TE Vernon Davis (ankle/knee), TE Vance McDonald (knee)

PROBABLE: RB Carlos Hyde (calf), QB Colin Kaepernick (back), DL Justin Smith (not injury related), LT Joe Staley (knee)
CINCINNATI -- Vontaze Burfict should not play Sunday when the Cincinnati Bengals host the Tennessee Titans at Paul Brown Stadium.

There. It's been said.

Because the third-year Pro Bowl player was listed as doubtful on the Bengals' injury report released Friday, chances already were strong that he wasn't going to suit up. Still, since he wasn't declared as "out" for the game, the possibility that he could play one week after suffering his second concussion of the two-week-old season exists.

It shouldn't.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told reporters Friday that Burfict was still under concussion protocol and that he would continue to get evaluated over the weekend. Although Burfict didn't practice at all this week, he could end up playing as long as he clears the protocol. He's one of those rare players who the Bengals would let play even if he didn't practice in the few days leading up to a game.

The fact Burfict wasn't allowed to take a step on the Bengals' practice fields seems to suggest he won't come off the protocol by 1 p.m. ET Sunday. But you never know.

It's one thing to have concussions. They are part of football. They are going to happen. But it's altogether when concussions come seven days apart.

On Monday, during his news conference following the Bengals' 24-10 win against Atlanta, Lewis said he couldn't be concerned with Burfict's status. At the time, it was still believed Burfict had a simple stinger. He left in the third quarter of last Sunday's game after his head collided with teammate Emmanuel Lamur's knee.

Specifically, Lewis was referring to how the team had to put more focus on preparing for life without the intimidating tackler instead of dwelling on his injury.

"We have to play with what we've got," Lewis said Monday. "Vontaze will have to overcome whatever he has, and we'll keep moving on. It's football."

But here's why there should be some concern about Burfict. Concussion science is far from exact, but at this stage it's better to err on the side of caution given how close together his concussions happened.

With the heightened focus the NFL has placed on its concussion policy, it just seems odd that a player on concussion protocol would even be able to entertain thoughts of playing the week after suffering a concussion.

The following is from a lengthy conversation about head injuries Friday with ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell.

"When you suffer that type of injury a second time so closely after the first time," Bell said, "it raises the level of concern."

That makes sense. So does this in response to a question regarding the benefit of resting Burfict this week ahead of next week's bye.

"No doubt the bye week is beneficial, but it does not guarantee that he will suddenly be back in Week 5," Bell said. "These things evolve at their own rate and each one is unique. Even the same name of injury to the same athlete can have a very different presentation that second time."

Meaning, just because Burfict had a concussion in one spot of his brain at Baltimore in Week 1, it doesn't mean he suffered one in the exact same spot last week against Atlanta. It also means he's far from a lock to play Week 5 at New England.

Bell's best advice for us all, Burfict included?

"To sit back and see how it evolves."

If the Bengals care about having a comparatively healthy Burfict by the end of the season, they won't play him this week.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Bryan Bulaga is no doctor, but the Green Bay Packers right tackle knew immediately that the left knee injury he sustained in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks wasn't the same as the torn ACL in the same knee 13 months earlier.

And while no one – not even a doctor – can say for sure whether the brace he wore against the Seahawks saved him from another ACL tear, Bulaga believes that to be the case.

So the DonJoy-brand brace that hung in his locker on Friday will be part of his regular equipment the next time he suits up for a game – whether that is Sunday in Detroit remains in question – and perhaps for the rest of his career.

"I'll definitely say that I feel the knee brace helped," Bulaga said Friday, speaking for the first time since he sprained his MCL against the Seahawks on Sept. 4. "There's no doubt about it. I mean, I would assume it did. I just, in my own head, I think it did."

Unlike in college football, where those knee braces are the norm, most NFL players don't wear them unless they must. Bulaga began wearing the brace at the start of training camp. For a player who has played in just one of the Packers' last 25 regular-season games, every little thing could help.

"When it first happened, initially I thought I got charley-horsed or kicked in the thigh," Bulaga said. "So I kind of tried to get back up and wasn't able to. But I didn't think it was going to be anything serious. I certainly didn't feel the same way that I did a year ago. Yeah, I wasn't too nervous about it."

Bulaga said Friday that he felt much better than he did a week ago, when it was determined that he would not play against the New York Jets. However, he still must prove in practice on Saturday that he's able to function at a high level for an extended period of time before he will get the OK to return against the Lions.

"Mobility-wise, strength-wise, everything has just progressed really well," he said.
METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (hand) and linebacker David Hawthorne (ankle) were officially ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings after suffering injuries last week. Fullback Erik Lorig (ankle) and safety Marcus Ball (hamstring) were also ruled out for the third straight week.

Center/guard Tim Lelito was a new addition to the Saints’ injury list Friday. He did not practice with a back injury and is listed as questionable.

Center Jonathan Goodwin (elbow), linebackers Curtis Lofton (shoulder) and Kyle Knox (ankle) and receiver Joe Morgan (knee) are listed as probable after fully participating Friday. However, Morgan was a healthy inactive last week and could be again this week.

As we’ve written throughout the week, Ingram will be replaced by a combination of more snaps for Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet. Although Ingram is off to the best start of his career, Thomas and Robinson have also started strong while the entire run game has played well.

And Hawthorne will likely be replaced by veteran backup Ramon Humber, with outside linebacker Parys Haralson also capable of sliding over to help fill the void.
The Detroit Lions will be without their third starting slot cornerback in as many weeks.

Cassius Vaughn, who was slated to take over for Nevin Lawson after he took over for Bill Bentley, is out Sunday against Green Bay with an ankle injury after missing practice Thursday and Friday.

He is one of three players ruled out for Detroit, joining linebacker Travis Lewis (quadriceps) and starting right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (calf). This is the second straight game Waddle has missed with the injury.

In Vaughn’s place, Detroit will do one of three things: Start recently-signed cornerback Danny Gorrer in the slot, start safety Don Carey in the slot or move outside cornerback Rashean Mathis into the slot, moving Gorrer to the outside.

The Lions also are planning to promote rookie cornerback Mohammed Seisay from the practice squad, according to his agent. Seisay was signed as an undrafted free agent from Nebraska.

Garrett Reynolds will likely start his second straight game at right tackle for Detroit.

The Lions’ secondary issues go beyond the slot corner. Safety James Ihedigbo is doubtful for the second straight game with a neck injury. Detroit’s biggest defensive free agent signing, Ihedigbo has yet to play a game this season.

Fullback Montell Owens, a special-teams stalwart, is also doubtful with a hamstring injury.

Starting defensive linemen Ezekiel Ansah (knee) and Nick Fairley (biceps) are questionable, along with rotational defensive end George Johnson (groin).

Arian Foster questionable for Texans

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
HOUSTON -- After he was limited all week in practice, the Houston Texans have declared running back Arian Foster questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.

Foster has rushed for 241 yards in the first two games of the season on 55 carries. Texans coach Bill O'Brien talked earlier in the week about limiting Foster's practice reps during the week to keep him as healthy as possible for games. If a player is listed as questionable, that is supposed to mean there is a 50 percent chance that player won't play.

The Texans also listed safety D.J. Swearinger and guard Ben Jones as questionable for Sunday's game. Jones missed Friday's practice, but was having extra treatment. I'm expecting Jones to play.

The good news for the Texans is that tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is listed as probable.

Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney and safety Shiloh Keo are out for Sunday's game.

The Giants declared linebacker Jon Beason, receiver Odell Beckham and linebacker Devon Kennard out against the Texans. Tackles James Brewer and Charles Brown and punter Steve Weatherford are questionable.
SAN DIEGO -- Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (hamstring) did not practice all week for the San Diego Chargers, and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, along with running back Ryan Mathews (knee).

Ingram had been playing well for San Diego through the first two games, with seven tackles -- including two tackles for a loss -- a sack and four quarterback hits.

With Ingram unavailable, the Chargers will lean more on veterans pass-rushers Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney, along with Tourek Williams and Reggie Walker.

"It’s hard to replace a guy like Melvin," Johnson said. "But that’s what this whole thing is about, being versatile, playing different positions and having depth."

Outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring), receiver Keenan Allen (groin) and safety Jahleel Addae (hamstring) are questionable. Attaochu did not practice on Friday, Allen was a limited participant and Addae was a full participant.

After missing practice on Thursday with back issues, center Rich Ohrnberger and guard Johnnie Troutman fully participated in practice on Friday and are listed as probable for Sunday’s game.

If both players are healthy enough to go on Sunday, the Chargers will start the same five up front in consecutive games for the first time this season.

"During the week of practice you have to do what’s best for the team to get everyone ready for Sunday," Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said, when asked about the health of his offensive line.

Also probable for Sunday are cornerback Chris Davis (ankle), tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring), defensive end Corey Liuget (ankle) and cornerback Brandon Flowers (groin).

Flowers missed last week’s game against the Seattle Seahawks because of a nagging groin injury, but after fully participating in practice this week, the veteran cornerback says he’s healthy.

"I just feel comfortable running out there full speed and cutting," Flowers said. "(I had a chance to) just get my angles down and get the timing down. I’m a veteran, so isn’t doesn’t take long to come back."

Allen practices, Marshall sits

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen (lower back) practiced without restrictions on Friday, but wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle) remained sidelined for a second consecutive day.

 Marshall and Allen are both expected to play Monday night versus the New York Jets.

Besides Marshall, six other Bears were held out of Friday’s practice: defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff
(concussion), linebacker Shea McClellin (hand), defensive end Trevor Scott (foot), cornerback Sherrick McManis (quad), center Roberto Garza (ankle) and left guard Matt Slauson (ankle).

McClellin’s situation took a turn for the worse. The linebacker had limited in participation in practice on Thursday, but he sat out the entire workout on Friday.

According to head coach Marc Trestman, McClellin suffered the hand injury in practice this week, not during the 28-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.

In other health news, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and safety Chris Conte (shoulder) were both limited for the second straight practice, while receiver Josh Morgan (groin) had full participation. Morgan should be available to face the Jets.

Marvin Austin: 'Got to honor my dad'

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos defensive tackle Marvin Austin plans to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks to honor his father, Marvin Sr., who died Friday.

Marvin Austin Sr., 49, had been hospitalized in North Carolina since Sunday night, when was suffered serious injuries after being ejected from a car during an accident in Selma, North Carolina.

"Now his spirit is with me,'' Austin said after Friday's practice. "He's going to help me get through those hard days where I don't want to get it done and don't want to do it. That's who I'm going to be talking to inside myself.''

The Broncos had excused Austin from team functions Monday and Wednesday -- Tuesday is the players' day off -- and he practiced with the team Thursday and Friday.

Austin Sr. was one of four people hospitalized Sunday after the accident.

Marvin Austin will wear "Austin Jr.'' on his jersey for the remainder of the season, following the team's Week 4 bye.

"I got no reason not to play," Austin said. "I've got to honor my dad. I have his name and your name is all you've got. I'm his junior and after this game from now I'll be wearing 'Jr.' suffix on my back.

"When I'm on the field, it's hard for me not to think about him. I'm thinking about him and saying, 'I'm going to (mess) this guy up. Because that's how my father would tell me, '(Mess) him up.' And you can quote that.''

Austin, a former second-round pick by the New York Giants who had back surgery earlier this year, signed a one-year deal with the Broncos and played himself into the team's defensive line rotation.

(Read full post)