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LeSean McCoy, other options for Eagles to replace Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles Blog


PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles lost lead running back Jay Ajayi to a torn ACL this week, stripping an already sputtering offense of one of its primary weapons. Led by one of the most aggressive personnel men in the business in Howie Roseman, and with hopes of a Super Bowl repeat still alive in Philly, speculation is running wild as to whether a trade for a running back is in the cards between now and the Oct. 30 deadline.

Let’s take a look at some of the big names being thrown around, as well as some under-the-radar options provided by our NFL Nation reporters.

Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (26 years old)

The big fish. It’s easy to see why the Eagles, or any team for that matter, would be interested in perhaps the best back in the NFL. He’d instantly improve the ground game and the passing game, both as a receiver and in pass protection, while adding an explosive, dynamic back who would open things up for his teammates and instantly lift this offense off the ground. Roseman and Co. are always on the lookout for market anomalies: How often does a player of this caliber become available? From that perspective, a talent like Bell has to be intriguing.

The Eagles recently restructured Fletcher Cox‘s contract to create cap room, but according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, they have not pursued a trade for Bell and do not have plans to do so at this time. The Eagles will need a portion of that cap space to re-sign some of their in-house players over the next couple of seasons — Carson Wentz is going to get a massive contract before long — and it would be difficult to re-sign Bell, who is in the last year of his deal, to a massive new contract given their financial situation.

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (30 years old)

Reports surfaced Tuesday that the Eagles have checked in on McCoy’s availability since news of Ajayi’s injury came down. That makes sense, given McCoy’s familiarity with the Eagles organization (he spent his first six seasons in Philadelphia) and experience in systems similar to coach Doug Pederson’s. McCoy is 30 years old, and perhaps the Buffalo Bills want to get some value for him as they look to replenish the roster. The flip side is that McCoy is currently one of the Bills’ top players. Sitting at 2-3, they probably aren’t looking to throw in the towel on the 2018 season. The asking price might not match the level of interest. The Eagles would also have to be comfortable with their research into off-the-field matters surrounding McCoy of late.

Under-the-radar backs

We asked our fellow NFL Nation reporters for backs on their teams who could potentially be available Here’s what came back:

Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (25 years old)

“The Lions’ starter last year, Abdullah has yet to have a carry in a game this year and was inactive the first four weeks of the season. He can be a multi-purpose back and has returner value. Also in the last year of his contract.” — Mike Rothstein

Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks (25 years old)

“He’s been Seattle’s No. 2 back for the last few weeks behind Chris Carson and ahead of top pick Rashaad Penny. Had 101 yards and two TDs two weeks ago with Carson out. Seahawks are about to have a bit of a logjam at RB with J.D. McKissic set to come off IR, and you figure they’ll want to get Penny more work than he’s been getting. Davis is 25 and playing on a one-year deal worth $1.35 million. Not a bad special teams player either.” — Brady Henderson

Detrez Newsome, Los Angeles Chargers (24 years old)

“Newsome is on the Chargers practice squad, but made the active roster out of training camp. He also can return kicks.” — Eric Williams

Other names to consider

ESPN’s Dan Graziano posted a list of backs the Eagles could take a look at:

Tevin Coleman, 25, share carries in Atlanta with Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith. He is in the final year of his rookie contract. LeGarrette Blount, 31, was the Eagles’ top rusher last season (766 yards, 2 TDs) during their Super Bowl run. He fit into the locker room well and would be able to acclimate quickly.

Jordan Howard of the Chicago Bears and Seattle’s C.J. Prosise Jr. were also recently floated as possibilities.

In-house options

With three weeks remaining before the trade deadline, the Eagles can take some time to see how their own backs perform before making a move if they wish. It will likely be a committee approach between Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles, when healthy, with rookie Josh Adams sprinkled in. Sproles has been sidelined since Week 1 with a hamstring injury and did not practice on Tuesday. Clement (quad) has returned to action after sitting out the last couple of games.

From a fantasy perspective, Clement would be the most appealing option, followed by Smallwood, though it would probably be best to wait and see how things shake out over the next couple of weeks.

The search for help likely won’t be limited to running back. The Eagles could use help at receiver and in the defensive secondary as well. Roseman will be working the phones to see if there are deals out there that make sense.





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Tampa Bay Buccaneers replace Ryan Fitzpatrick with Jameis Winston


CHICAGO — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who started Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Chicago Bears Sunday, have put in Jameis Winston in the game in the second half.

Amid heavy pressure from the Bears’ defense, the Bucs’ offense mustered just three first downs and converted one third down. Fitzpatrick completed 9-of-18 passes for 126 yards and was intercepted by Eddie Jackson on a pass intended for Mike Evans. He was sacked twice.

On Winston’s first possession, he completed five passes but he was picked off by Danny Trevathan.

Winston was active for the first time since serving a three-game suspension, but the plan was for Fitzpatrick to get the start and for the Bucs to re-evaluate their quarterback situation during next week’s bye week.

The Bucs’ struggles against the Bears have gone far beyond Fitzpatrick. In fact, he’s just a small part of it. Mitch Trubisky shredded the Bucs’ defense, throwing five touchdowns in the first half.

Bucs starting tight end O.J. Howard has left the game against the Bears with a knee injury and won’t return.



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Minnesota Vikings announce co-offensive line coaches to replace Tony Sparano


EAGAN, Minn. — Following the death of Tony Sparano, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer announced Saturday that Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko will be the Vikings‘ co-offensive line coaches for the 2018 season.

Barone, who worked with the Vikings’ tight ends last season, coached the offensive line in Denver when the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. Janocko was Sparano’s “right-hand man,” having served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach since 2017.

Zimmer said protecting the continuity the O-line built under Sparano played a role in his decision to go with his in-house options.

“It was important,” Zimmer said. “For the last two years, we’ve worked really hard on the footwork, techniques and schemes that we were running, so I felt like it was important that we continued to do that regardless of whatever we decided to do. I didn’t want to change the players terminology or footwork or any of that stuff.”

Todd Downing, whose close relationship to offensive coordinator John DeFilippo led to him being hired as a senior offensive assistant, will be promoted to tight ends coach. Downing was the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2017 and previously worked with quarterbacks in Oakland.

“Guys who have been through the war, they’re not afraid to voice their opinion or come in here and they’ll give ideas and they’ll go to work,” Zimmer said. “Todd’s a great young coach. He’s very respectful. He understands where he’s at and what he’s trying to do and trying to help us win.”

Minnesota canceled practice Friday, when veteran players were slated to report, to allow the entire team to attend Sparano’s funeral. The team will have its first full squad practice Saturday afternoon as the entire 90-man roster begins to move forward in Sparano’s absence.

“Obviously they all feel bad for Tony. They all loved him,” Zimmer said. “But they understand that we have to move forward, we have to go on and really these guys are professionals. They understand that things happen. This isn’t the first time that something has happened to us here, so we’re used to overcoming adversity and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”



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Brent Musburger to replace Greg Papa as Oakland Raiders’ radio play-by-play voice


ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders, who are moving to Las Vegas in 2020, are also moving on from their radio voice of the past 21 years, as the team said Thursday that Greg Papa would not return this season.

Brent Musburger, a broadcasting veteran who has worked for ESPN, is in line to replace Papa on the team’s broadcast as the play-by-play announcer, a source confirmed to ESPN. The Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported Musburger as replacing Papa.

Musburger, 79, is already in Las Vegas with his fledgling Vegas Sports & Information Network channel, a sports-betting platform, on SiriusXM. He is one of the more leading figures in sports broadcasting history with 27 years at ESPN and ABC and 17 years with CBS and has called games in both the NFL and college football, as well as college basketball (his final college hoops broadcast was, ironically enough, UNLV’s national title win over Duke in 1990) before retiring from ESPN and ABC in 2017 and going to Las Vegas with VSiN.

Still, Musburger has had his share of controversies over the years. As a newspaper columnist in 1968, he referred to Mexico City Olympics civil right icons Tommie Smith and John Carlos as “black-skinned stormtroopers” after their raised-fist protest during their medal ceremony (Raiders owner Mark Davis is very tight with Smith, calling him a personal hero for his actions at the Games, and had him light the Al Davis Torch in Mexico City in 2016).

ESPN apologized for Musburger’s comments on the looks of Katherine Webb, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron’s then-girlfriend, during the 2013 BCS national title game. And in the 2017 Sugar Bowl, Musburger raised the ire of many viewers by complimenting the game of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who had punched a woman.

Davis issued a statement on Thursday: “The Raiders organization would like to thank Greg Papa for his two decades of service to the Silver and Black.. He wasn’t just given the job.. He earned it.. With intense preparation Greg was always ready for the call.. Just as my generation remembers Bill King and ‘Holy Toledo’.. The Raider Nation will remember Greg Papa and ‘Touchdown Raiders’.. We wish Greg and his family the best in whatever the future brings.”

Papa had become as identifiable with the Raiders as many players after being hired by the late Al Davis in 1997. Years ago, Papa recalled Davis climbing to the top of old Texas Stadium before his first broadcast to wish him luck, telling Papa to “dominate” the airwaves.

“In a lot of respects,” Papa said at the time, “he was like a second father to me.”

Also, the Raiders are not retaining Papa’s broadcast partner, two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Flores, though he will still be associated with the team in a role to be determined.

Flores, 81, told ESPN.com he was “kind of semi-surprised” to be relieved of his radio duties in the wake of Papa’s dismissal.

“We’ve been together for 21 years,” Flores said. “I was just hoping to do at least one year in Vegas, but it didn’t happen.

“I’ve been a Raider since 1960; I’m not going to walk away. My loyalty is to the Raiders. I’m a little hurt right now and we’ll miss Greg and I’ll miss being with the team, on the road, in the booth, in the press box. I’m just trying to digest it right now. Nothing lasts forever, but I’ll always be affiliated with the team in my heart.”

Former Raiders offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy is a candidate to move up from field reporter to join Musburger in the booth as the analyst.



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Green Bay Packers look for other options to replace Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers Blog


GREEN BAY, Wis. — Those who didn’t see it coming when the Green Bay Packers released Jordy Nelson last week were like the defensive backs who didn’t think there was any way he could beat them deep.

They were in denial.

Nelson deserves to be in the conversation with the best receivers in team history — and it’s an illustrious group that starts with Don Hutson and includes James Lofton, Sterling Sharpe, Antonio Freeman and Donald Driver. But the old NFL adage that it’s better to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late held true, especially considering Nelson was owed $10.25 million if he were on the roster this season.

The Packers reportedly gave him a low-ball pay cut offer, but it was probably a deal they knew he wouldn’t accept.

Take nothing away from Nelson’s stellar career, but the man who once played with the best body control of perhaps any receiver in recent team history clearly wasn’t in the Packers’ plans.

They must have felt that the tape from late last season showed what they thought he had become — a receiver who, despite remarkable chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, lacked explosiveness. Nelson averaged just 2.45 yards after the catch, the lowest of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And that had little or nothing to do with Rodgers’ injury that cost Nelson his quarterback for half of the season.

This will take some getting used to: Nelson will no longer catch passes from Rodgers. By definition, the Packers haven’t signed anyone to replace Nelson, although new tight end Jimmy Graham will give Rodgers a new option from another position. Still, the Packers might have to use one of their early round draft picks on another receiver.

“We’ll start looking at a number of options,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said after cutting Nelson. “He’s a good player, and those shoes will be hard to fill. But we’re going to work really hard to try to do that.”

Here’s a look at the Packers’ receivers:

Davante Adams: The former second-round draft pick is the next Nelson. In fact, coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged last season that Adams had supplanted Nelson as the team’s “best perimeter player.” Days later, Adams signed a four-year, $58 million contract extension that put him among the highest-paid receivers in the league. Adams was the only receiver whose production remained high after Rodgers’ collarbone injury. He tied for second in the league with 10 touchdowns and led the team with 74 catches and 885 yards, despite missing the final two games of the season because of his second concussion of the year. His concussion history is about the only concern the Packers could have.

Randall Cobb: With a salary of $9.5 million and a salary-cap charge of $12,718,750, Cobb — and not Nelson — could have been the one to go. But the Packers decided that there’s more left in Cobb, who will turn 28 in August, than there was in the soon-to-be 33-year-old Nelson. The more versatile Cobb — a slot receiver who also can play outside and in the backfield — hasn’t come close to replicating his career year of 2014, when he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s in the final season of a four-year, $40 million deal.

Geronimo Allison: The former undrafted free agent enters his third season but didn’t take as big of a jump as expected last season. He caught 23 passes for 253 yards without a touchdown after 12 catches for 202 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. He ranked fourth among Packers receivers in snaps played last season (343). The Packers gave him the minimum salary for a third-year player as an exclusive rights free agents.

Trevor Davis: The fifth-round pick in 2015 hasn’t been able to move ahead of Allison on the depth chart. He played in every game last season but played just 103 snaps on offense. He might be the fastest receiver on the roster, but he hasn’t been able to put that to use on offense. However, he ranked third in the NFL in punt return average (12.0) last season with a long return of 65 yards.

Michael Clark: The undrafted free agent might be the most intriguing prospect on the roster. At 6-foot-6, he’s a former college basketball player who played only one season of college football before entering the NFL. He wasn’t promoted from the practice squad until Dec. 1 and played in only the final two games. He made an impact with four catches for 41 yards in 75 snaps but needs to clean up his drops. That should come with more experience.

Jeff Janis: An unrestricted free agent, the former seventh-round draft pick played just 50 snaps on offense last season. He never built on his two-touchdown performance against the Cardinals in the playoff loss in January 2016. However, he carved out a role as one of the core special teams players, which could be a reason the Packers bring him back.

DeAngelo Yancey: The fifth-round pick last year spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad in 2017. He has decent size (6-1, 220) but started slowly in training camp last summer.

Colby Pearson: He was an undrafted free agent who was in training camp with the Packers last summer and then signed to the practice squad for the final three weeks of the season.

Jake Kumerow: Signed to the practice squad in Week 17, the former UW-Whitewater standout spent parts of two seasons on the Bengals practice squad (with a week on the roster as well) but has never appeared in a game.



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Browns have impossible task of trying to replace Joe Thomas – Cleveland Browns Blog


The Cleveland Browns now must find a way to do the impossible: Replace a player who, from the day he was drafted, was the best player on the team every day he was with the team.

That’s the legacy of Joe Thomas, a guy who did his job to the best of his ability each and every day of his career.

Thomas’ retirement announcement on Wednesday means that left tackle has shot to a position of need for the Browns. That’s the cold and cruel reality of Thomas’ decision.

Whoever takes over at left tackle may do well, but he won’t be Joe Thomas. Nobody can be.

Thomas’ decision comes after his consecutive snap streak ended at 10,363 plays in a row, a Herculean feat that saw him play every snap since he was the third overall pick in the 2007 draft until he tore his triceps tendon on Oct. 22, 2017.

The snap streak alone was meaningful, but Thomas did it at a Pro Bowl level every season he was in the league, and he did it for a team that struggled to win six games. Only once did the Browns have a winning record during his tenure, and only twice did they win seven or more games. In his last three seasons, the Browns won four games.

It didn’t faze him. He played his hardest on each snap, gauging angles and using guile more than brute strength to thwart defensive ends and linebackers. The sight of him trotting back to the huddle after every play, even if the Browns were down 20, was something to see.

Just as his expression was something to see when he was once asked why he stayed in games when the Browns were getting blown out, when they were late in the season and staring at finishing with three wins and the forecast for an 18-degree day.

“You still have to do your job,” Thomas said, almost incredulously, as if anyone would imply he shouldn’t.

Perhaps most amazing of all was that, through losing and struggle, Thomas’ attitude never wavered. He always entered the locker room with a smile, always addressed questions, and sometimes had fun with them.

The week before the Browns’ only win of the 2016 season, a player on the San Diego Chargers guaranteed the Browns would lose. Asked about it, Thomas feigned anger and roared, “I’m gonna kill him.” He then laughed and shrugged it off as NFL confidence.

In one of Myles Garrett’s earliest practices, Thomas and Joel Bitonio stopped Garrett on a pass rush, and Thomas whispered to Garrett “nice try.”

Thomas can identify types of trees from 200 yards away. He asked his wife, Annie, out for their first date by asking if he could take her out in his canoe (she said yes). He threw Vinston Painter out of the Browns huddle late in a rare blowout win over Pittsburgh when Mike Pettine and the Browns thought he could use a few plays off.

His Halloween parties with teammates at his house became part of the Browns seasons. His practical jokes in the locker room left many shaking their heads.
 The day he was drafted remains memorable. Instead of going to New York to be part of the festivities, Thomas stayed home and went fishing with his father and a friend.

There are very few plaudits left for Thomas. He has been a pro, a Pro Bowler, a father, a husband, a guy devoted to Cleveland, a major player in charitable efforts and everyman to everyone he’s met.

He began his career with the Browns as a starter playing at a high level; he will end his career with the Browns playing at a high level.

His next career may well be in the media, and he would be excellent.

For the Browns, this truly is the end of an era, an era when a guy who arrived in Cleveland doing obligatory first-round interviews said after his first minicamp that he could hardly wait to go back to “being an offensive lineman again.”

Thomas set new standards for excellence, professionalism and attitude at his position and for his team.

His next stop will be in Canton.

His permanent residence will be in Cleveland Browns history.

It’s tough to imagine another one like him.



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Minneapolis stadium have seats to replace, including one taken by Philadelphia Eagles fan


MINNEAPOLIS — Operators of the Minneapolis stadium that hosted the Super Bowl, U.S. Bank Stadium, have some seats to replace, including one taken by a Philadelphia Eagles fan who was spotted with a stolen seat at the airport.

Video of the fan with his purple seat at the stadium’s coat check had generated about 185,000 views on Facebook as of Wednesday morning. A traveler later snapped a photo of the man with his seat souvenir strapped to his carry-on suitcase at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The Star Tribune says the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority says its security team is investigating the theft.

Besides the stolen seat, the agency says a number of damaged seats will be repaired or replaced immediately. Zak Fick says he saw Eagles fans breaking three seats following Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win.



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