Steelers running back Najee Harris didn’t practice this week, but it looks like the team will be able to have him as part of their offense against the Patriots on Thursday night.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that Harris is expected to play. He was listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report on Wednesday because of a knee issue that was bothering him coming out of last Sunday’s game.
Harris had 16 carries for 63 yards and two catches for 14 yards in that loss to the Cardinals. He has 159 carries for 661 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
Linebacker Landon Roberts (groin), guard Isaac Seumalo (shoulder), and center Mason Cole (neck) are the other questionable Steelers heading into Thursday night.
Titans quarterback Will Levis and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins couldn’t connect on a deep ball during the first quarter of last Sunday’s overtime loss to the Colts and an animated Levis was caught on camera addressing Hopkins on the sideline after the play.
Hopkins wound up with five catches for 75 yards and a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter, so it wasn’t a great surprise that both players downplayed any tension immediately after the game. On Wednesday, Levis revisited the moment and said it was a moment for him to learn about a better way to handle similar situations.
“Maybe I forgot I was on TV,” Levis said, via Jim Wyatt of the team’s website. “Just one of those things that just happened. If I would’ve gone back, I would’ve been more neutral about it, for sure. But that’s just part of the things about being an NFL quarterback and learning along the way of how to be a leader and how to get your guys going. Definitely would’ve handled it differently if I would’ve done it again.”
At 4-8, there isn’t much playoff hope for the Titans this year so Levis’ development will be front and center for the final five weeks of the season. Handling moments like the one from Sunday, both in the game and in the press conference, will be part of that process.
Before the Jets announced that Zach Wilson will return to the starting quarterback job against the Texans this week, there was a report claiming Wilson was reluctant to play for the team again this season.
Wilson denied that was the case on Wednesday and head coach Robert Saleh did the same thing on Monday, but Tuesday was Aaron Rodgers’ chance to chime in. During his weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers called it “chickenshit at its core” for someone inside the Jets’ organization to tell something like that to a reporter and that it is behavior that “has no place in a winning organization.”
On Wednesday, Saleh was asked about Rodgers’ comments. Specifically, Saleh was asked his reaction when a player “essentially attacks the organization” and how he feels about leaks that come from inside the Jets.
“I don’t think it’s an attack on the organization, but I always appreciate Aaron’s thoughts and comments. . . . We’ll handle all that stuff internally, but like I said, everyone’s going to have their thoughts, but those are the things we’ll handle internally,” Saleh said, via a press conference transcript from the team.
It’s been a long time since the Jets have been a winning organization and they came into this season hoping Rodgers’ presence would change that. It’s turned out to be something closer to the same old Jets, however, and this week’s quarterback drama is just the latest sign of it.
Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin did not have a catch in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, and he’s growing frustrated with his role in the offense.
After playing 45 snaps on Sunday but never getting the ball, McLaurin said, “I ran a lot of cardio,” and added, “Yeah, it’s frustrating.”
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said he and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy have both talked to McLaurin about his frustrations.
“I’ve talked with Terry before, and we’ve talked about those things, and I know he’s talked to Eric, and he’s gone in, and he and EB have good conversations from what I understand,” Rivera said, via USA Today. “That’s then to me that’s the way you handle it is you go in and you talk directly. I think that’s big of what he’s been doing. It’s been big of him to come in and fight the frustration and talk about it if that’s what needs to be.”
McLaurin is having his worst season across the board: He’s averaging a career-low 11.6 yards per catch, a career-low 6.9 yards per target, a career-low 53.4 yards per game and a career-low 48 percent success rate on his catches. It’s easy to see why he’s frustrated.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler managed just 14 carries for 18 yards on Sunday, and head coach Brandon Staley says the team may give backup running back Joshua Kelley more carries may to get the offense going.
As Staley discussed problems with the running game, he was asked if Kelley could see more touches and answered, “Yeah,” before elaborating.
“Competition for carries is going to be something that you can see happening,” Staley said. “We’re going to keep exploring, making adjustments, so that we can find that rhythm that I’ve been talking about. That’s certainly one way to do it.”
Ekeler is averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry and has a career-low 42.9 percent success rate this season. After an offseason in which Ekeler complained about his contract and the Chargers responded by adding some incentives to his deal, Ekeler’s production isn’t justifying his $6.25 million base salary.
But Kelley hasn’t been much better, and neither has backup Isaiah Spiller, who has only had 12 carries for 27 yards this season.
Staley noted that the Chargers ran the ball very effectively in Week One against the Dolphins.
“We’ve done it, we just haven’t done it consistently,” Staley said.
With the 5-7 Chargers’ season hanging by a thread, they’ll need to figure out a way to do it consistently for the next five weeks, no matter who is carrying the ball.
The Buccaneers aren’t the team they’ve been in recent years. And the cracks are spreading.
Via JoeBucsFan.com, the wife of receiver Chris Godwin has taken to social media to take issue with a claim from coach Todd Bowles that Godwin was targeted only three times against the Panthers because the Bucs were “subbing him out a lot.”
The truth is that Godwin was on the field for 52 snaps, which equates to 82 percent of all offensive plays in the game.
“I’m not sure why we are just blatantly lying here,” Mariah Godwin wrote on Instagram, via JoeBucsFan.com. “Regardless of how banged up Chris is, he continues to work his ass off and hasn’t missed a game. [C]ontinues to run great routes and get open. . . .
“I don’t know why things are the way they are, this isn’t my team to coach. But this lying on Chris and implying negativity on his work ethic is infuriating. Let’s not act like he had to be subbed out so much more than usual when in fact he’s been playing just the same.”
The comments will make the futures of both Godwin and Bowles far more interesting. The Bucs can easily exit Godwin’s contract after the 2023 season. The Bucs also might move on from Todd Bowles and hire a new coach.
Through 12 games in 2023, Godwin has 85 targets, 53 catches, 606 yards, and one touchdown. On Sunday, the 5-7 Bucs visit the 6-6 Falcons, with a chance to forge what could be a three-way tie at the top of the division, if the Saints also beat the Panthers on Sunday.
I have a feeling I’m going to regret this. It’ll join the list of the various things I regret.
As you might know, my Christmas book, On Our Way Home, remains available for $3.99 for the ebook and $9.99 for the print version. As you also may know, every penny I receive goes to the Humane Society of Harrison County, a local no-kill animal shelter that provides care for rescued dogs and cats awaiting permanent homes. As you also may know, I’ve been giving away a signed, personalized copy every week.
As you also may know, the periodic pitch has included a suggestion that you buy extra copies to give as gifts.
A recent submission from our friend Bobby, who runs the @PFTPMPosse account on X, gave me an idea. He has bought several copies to give as gifts, but he still wants to win a signed, personalized copy of the book. Given plenty of the other submissions we receive each weekend, others might agree.
So here’s the deal. And, yes, I’m going to regret this. But it’s for a good cause, so what the hell?
If you buy 10 copies of the print edition of the book (at a total cost of $99.90), I will send you at no additional cost a signed, personalized copy of On Our Way Home.
I’m not sure how long this will last. Maybe a day. Maybe a week. Maybe an hour. Regardless, now is the time to order 10 copies and then send the Amazon proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Seahawks were without their top two running backs — Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet — at Wednesday’s practice.
Walker remains out with a strained oblique, an injury that occured Nov. 19, while Charbonnet bruised a knee against Dallas last week.
“Kenny ran pretty good in walk-through,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “It was exciting to see him out there moving around. He was flying around. We have to make sure we get him through the week and see what happens. We don’t know.
“[Charbonnet] was out there moving around today, so that’s a really good sign. Again, he had a bruised knee. He did not have a knee injury. It’s uncomfortable and it’s going to hurt like crazy if he lands on it again during this week of preparation. By the end of the week, he should have a chance to be pretty good.”
The Seahawks other running backs on the active roster DeeJay Dallas and rookie Kenny McIntosh.
Four other players missed practice, including linebacker Jordyn Brooks, who spained an ankle against the Cowboys last week. Carroll said Brooks “can’t do anything yet.”
Safety Jamal Adams (knee), cornerback Tre Brown (heel) and defensive lineman Leonard Williams (ankle) also missed Wednesday’s practice.
Offensive tackle Abraham Lucas (knee), guard Anthony Bradford (knee), center Evan Brown (thumb) and receiver Jake Bobo (knee/shoulder) were limited.
Receivers Dee Eskridge (ribs) and Dareke Young (abdomen) were among the full participants. Eskridge and Young sat out last week’s game.
Titans receiver Treylon Burks doesn’t remember much about the Nov. 2 game at Pittsburgh.
He landed hard on the back of his head and neck on a long incompletion from Will Levis on fourth-and-four with 2:06 left. Burks was placed on a backboard and carted off.
He has watched the replay since.
“Really just a bad fall,” Burks said, via Jim Wyatt of the team website. “There was really nothing I could do to prevent it.”
Burks missed meetings and practice for two weeks while letting his head heal. He returned to practice last week and, after missing three games, played 10 snaps in his first game back Sunday.
The Titans expect him to play more this week.
“I would say I feel good,” Burks said. “Things happen, but keep going about the way that I am, and let God take care of the rest. . . . [Coach Mike Vrabel], I think he handled it the best way for the team, and for my safety. All I can do is keep leaning on [coaches and trainers] and my teammates, and doing whatever is right for the team and myself.”
It was his second diagnosed concussion in less than a year, but Burks isn’t concerned.
“Everybody that plays the game is vulnerable to concussions,” Burks said. “I don’t really think about it that much. I just go out there and play the game, and whatever is in God’s [plan] it happens, and I know that he’ll take of [me] from here on out.
“I have been feeling better ever since, and I am just ready to get out and do what I do. It is hard [to miss time], being a football player, when you love the game, missing games is not fun at all. So, it has been hard, but I am thankful that I am back in the position I am, to play.”
Zach Wilson is back as the starting quarterback of the Jets. In his first press conference since getting the job back, he was asked about Monday’s report that he was supposedly reluctant to play again this season.
Via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, Wilson called the report from TheAthletic.com “absolutely not” true.
“I’ve never once said that to anybody in this locker room, that I wouldn’t want to play,” Wilson added.
Wilson will start on Sunday against the Texans. He’ll apparently start for the rest of the season, unless and until Aaron Rodgers returns.
Wilson’s strong denial of the report underscores the fact that TheAthletic.com should have sought a response from Wilson before publishing the claim that he is reluctant to play. That’s part of the basic obligation to get both sides of a story, particularly when a report will, on its face, make the subject of it look very, very bad.
There was no reason not to contact the Jets or Wilson to see what he had to say about it, and to factor his response into the original reporting. It undermines the value of the reporting to not give the person who is made to look bad by the report a chance to chime in. And it feeds into the perception that there was some sort of agenda at play, other than getting to the truth.