In a surprising move, the Chiefs rewarded veteran RB Damien Williams with a two-year contract extension worth up to $8.1 million and keeping him in Kansas City through the 2020 season. Over the past three weeks, Williams has averaged 98 yards from scrimmage and scored five total touchdowns.
Williams had just six total touches through the first 10 weeks of the season, playing behind RBs Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware. Hunt was released prior to Week 13 after a video was released of the back assaulting a female. That left Ware as the team’s starter but he suffered a hamstring injury, which kept him out of the past two games, giving Williams a huge opportunity that he took full advantage of, finishing as the RB2 and RB4 over the past two weeks.
Both Ware and Williams were scheduled to be unrestricted free agents following the season, so the contract extension for Williams gives the Chiefs at least one option as the offseason nears. With limited cap space, the assumption was that Kansas City would be drafting a running back in the first two days of the NFL Draft, giving immediate value to the lucky rookie. That could still be the case as Williams’ deal secures his role on the 2019 roster but does not guarantee him a starting role.
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QB Marcus Mariota (stinger) was able to get in a limited practice and was spotted throwing deep balls. This is a good sign for his availability in Sunday’s must-win game against the Colts. If Mariota can’t go, veteran QB Blaine Gabbert would face Indianapolis with a playoff spot on the line. Fortunately for the Titans, HC Mike Vrabel said his quarterback was “making good progress.”
Rams RB Todd Gurley (knee) missed another practice and seems to be trending towards missing another game. The Rams have the NFC’s second seed and a first-round bye on the line Sunday but should be able to comfortably win against the San Francisco 49ers, as they did last week against Arizona. If Gurley rests, veteran RB C.J. Anderson would again draw the start after posting one of the best games of his career a week ago.
Unemployed HC Jim Caldwell has already interviewed for the Packers lead job and reportedly has interest from two other teams for their head coaching position. ... Lions first-year HC Matt Patricia said he feels he is “pretty confident” that he’ll be retained for the 2019 season. ... Panthers beat writer Joe Person suggested soon to be free agent WR Devin Funchess has no chance of returning to Carolina…Tampa Bay veteran WR DeSean Jackson reportedly wants to move on from the Bucs this offseason. Jackson had already been rumored as a potential cap casualty and this only brings that closer to a reality. ... The Jets signed TE Clive Walford and placed TE Cole Tomlinson on the injured reserve list. ... Panthers HC Ron Rivera declined to comment when asked about his star players, specifically RB Christian McCaffrey, playing in Week 17, but did say he wanted to “evaluate some young players”. ... Veteran TE Ben Watson announced he plans to retire following the Saints' playoff run.
Bears beat writers believe WR Allen Robinson (ribs) is likely to sit this week in hopes of giving him time to heal in preparation for the playoffs. Chicago can still earn a first-round bye with a win and a Rams’ loss, though the latter is unlikely. ... WR DeSean Jackson (Achilles) did not practice. After missing two practices this week, Jackson may have played his last game with the team. ... The Redskins placed TE Jordan Reed (toe) on the injured reserve list. ... Packers WR Randall Cobb (concussion) returned to practice while WR Davante Adams (knee) was held out of the team’s practice. ... Green Bay’s rookie WR Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion) missed practice. ... Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) missed practice. With the playoffs on the line Sunday, Hilton will be on the field. ... Jets veteran WRs Quincy Enunwa (ankle) and Jermaine Kearse (Achilles) each missed practice and are looking doubtful to play in the finale. ... Steelers WR Antonio Brown (knee) missed practice but is in no danger of missing Pittsburgh’s must-win game this week. ... RB Lamar Miller (ankle) was able to practice in full and is set to return after missing last week’s game. ... Falcons RB Tevin Coleman (groin) missed another practice and is in danger of missing the team’s meaningless Week 17 game. His absence would give the lead role to RB Brian Hill. ... Atlanta WR Julio Jones (hip/ribs) sat out of practice Thursday but is still expected to play this week. ... 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin (calf/Achilles) remained sidelined from practice. He’s been mostly a non-factor this season. ... Several players managed to get in a limited practice. Among them were: WR Kenny Golladay (chest), WR John Brown (hamstring), TE Eric Ebron (concussion/knee), WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle), WR Keke Coutee (hamstring), WR Corey Davis (hamstring), WR Mike Wallace (ankle), TE Jared Cook (ribs) and WR Doug Baldwin (shoulder).