ProFootballTalk: The mess in Miami continues
Justin Gilbert’s return to the lineup for the Cleveland Browns was cut short on Monday night.
Gilbert was ruled out after sustaining a concussion on a kickoff return in the third quarter. Gilbert took the Justin Tucker kick six yards deep in the end zone and returned it to the Browns 34-yard line before being tackled by Tucker along the sideline.
Gilbert’s helmet bounced off the turf and he was taken to the locker room for evaluation before being officially ruled out.
Matt Schaub lost his starting job in Houston due to a stunning propensity to throw interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
That trait seems to have followed Schaub to Baltimore.
Dansby undercut the throw for Aiken and stayed inbounds up the sideline for the score to give Cleveland its first lead of the night.
Schaub is making his first start in place of Joe Flacco, who was lost for the season due to a torn ACL.
The Ravens have been in charge, but their lead over the Browns is only 17-10 in the second quarter.
After the Browns had a 14-play drive that ended in a field goal to cut their deficit to 10-3, the Ravens easily went right back down the field with a deep pass from Matt Schaub to Chris Givens and a touchdown pass from Schaub to rookie running back Buck Allen.
The fans inside First Energy Stadium serenaded the Browns with boos following Allen’s touchdown, but the Browns’ answer brought cheers.
The Ravens scored first on an 82-yard punt return by Kaelin Clay.
The Browns and Ravens traded punts to start Monday’s game, and Ravens rookie Kaelin Clay took the one he caught 82 yards for a touchdown.
So, the Ravens lead, 7-0, in a game that probably won’t feature many explosive offensive plays. The Ravens got a 49-yard field goal from Justin Tucker later in the quarter to make it 10-0.
Clay was a sixth-round pick of the Buccaneers last spring out of Utah. He spent time on the Buccaneers and Lions practice squads before landing with the Ravens on Nov. 17
All of the Ravens’ still-healthy receivers are playing for jobs over the next six weeks, and Clay made a pretty strong impression with his return.
The Browns are listing second-year cornerback Justin Gilbert as a starter for Monday night’s game vs. the Ravens.
A first-round pick in 2014, Gilbert has been in coach Mike Pettine’s doghouse at various times in two seasons and has played little defense this season. With Joe Haden out and Pierre Desir having struggled in the Browns’ last game, the Browns made Desir inactive Monday and are listing Gilbert as a starter opposite Tramon Williams.
Gilbert was a healthy scratch for the Browns’ last game on Nov. 15.
For the Ravens, defensive end Brent Urban is active and will make his NFL debut. A fourth-round pick in 2014, Urban spent last season on injured-reserve and last summer tore a bicep during training camp. He was activated earlier this month.
As expected, the Ravens are without offensive line starters Eugene Monroe and Kelechi Osemele. James Hurst is slated to start at tackle for Monroe and John Urschel should start at guard in place of Osemele.
The impressive comeback season for Cardinals running back Chris Johnson has hit a bump in the road.
Johnson has suffered a fractured tibia, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. It’s not clear how much time Johnson will miss, but it’s likely a significant period of time.
That’s a big blow to the Cardinals: Johnson is fourth in the NFL with 814 rushing yards this season and has been a big part of the 9-2 Cardinals’ offense.
With Johnson out, David Johnson and Andre Ellington will split carries in Arizona’s backfield. Ellington, however, is dealing with a toe injury, and his prognosis is uncertain. So the depth in the Cardinals’ backfield may have just gone from a strength to a weakness.
A muffed punt that turned the tide of the Patriots’ loss on Sunday night has cost Chris Harper his job.
Tom Curran of CSNNE.com reports that Harper was cut today.
The Patriots appeared to be in total control of the game early in the fourth quarter on Sunday night: They had a 21-7 lead and had just forced the Broncos to punt. But Harper muffed the punt, the Broncos recovered, and four plays later they scored a touchdown. Denver went on to win the game in overtime.
An undrafted rookie receiver from Cal, Harper had played only sparingly this season. Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t particularly tolerant of fumbling even among good players, and among marginal players, a fumble is an easy way to lose your job in New England. Harper found that out the hard way today.
Osweiler has taken plenty of hits in two games, and coach Gary Kubiak is concerned about it. How concerned?
“Real concerned,” Kubiak told reporters on Monday. “I think Brock has been sacked I want to say 11 times in his 10 quarters — maybe 10 times — so that’s way too many. Some of those are his that we’ve got to get corrected. A couple of those are protection issues, but [the Patriots] came after us, especially in the second half they came after us, blitzed us a little bit more and he’ll learn from that. Yes, protecting him and doing a better job—that’s important right now. It really is.”
It is because the physics are simple. The more hits a quarterback takes, the more likely he is to break. Or to sprain. Or to rupture. Or to lacerate.
Beyond the hits Osweiler is taking, Kubiak seems to have no concerns about the guy who has now started two career games.
“I think the No. 1 thing that’s impressed me is I think he understands exactly what he needs to do for the team to be successful,” Kubiak said. “What I mean by that — sometimes guys will get put in situations and they’ll try to do too much. I think he understands he’s on a good football team. If he’ll just do his job, handle the ball well, handle the team well, then our football team will have a chance to be successful. I’m really impressed with how he’s approached that. He’s very comfortable in his preparation, his work and obviously he’s confident in his abilities. I really think just understanding the situation he’s in and handling it might by the No. 1 thing.”
And so he continues to be the No. 1 quarterback indefinitely. Which definitely means he’ll be playing as long as he keeps doing those things.
And as long as nothing breaks, sprains, ruptures, or lacerates.
The Colts moved to 4-0 in games started by Matt Hasselbeck by beating the Buccaneers 25-12 on Sunday and Hasselbeck turned in another good performance to help lead the team to the victory.
Hasselbeck completed 26-of-42 passes for a season-high 315 yards and two touchdowns in a performance that was as good as the best that the team’s seen from Andrew Luck when Luck has been healthy this season. That performance and the team’s record in Hasselbeck’s starts may have some wondering whether the Colts will continue to roll with him when Luck has been cleared to return from kidney and abdominal injuries.
Coach Chuck Pagano shot down that notion on Monday. Pagano said, via Andrew Siciliano of NFL Media, that it is “ridiculous” to think that the team would leave Luck on the bench once he’s deemed healthy enough to play. There’s no word on when that might be beyond Luck saying he “definitely” expects to be back before the season is over.
Coming into this season, it would have seemed just as ridiculous to even entertain the thought but this year has not played out the way anyone was expecting in Indianapolis. Still, Luck is the player the Colts have built their franchise around and he’ll continue to be the centerpiece as long as he’s fit enough for action.
Johnny Manziel pulled off the rare feat of getting named starter then demoted during the Browns’ bye week. With that demotion came a statement from Browns coach Mike Pettine that said Manziel would be the third quarterback for the Browns’ next game, which is Monday night vs. the Ravens.
Monday afternoon, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported that Manziel will be active for the game. That’s interesting because Pettine specifically stated that Josh McCown would start and that Austin Davis would be the No. 2 quarterback, and Manziel being active leaves open the possibility that he could still be in the plans for the Ravens game.
The Browns generally make just two quarterbacks among their active 46 players.
Maybe the Browns went through their list of available players and gameplan and decided they had a spot for a third quarterback. Or, maybe, the punishment for Manziel’s latest social media appearance and being less than truthful about it was simply not starting and he’ll be available if needed or even in a special situation. It’s always something with Manziel, so stay tuned.
In a season full of blown calls affecting high-profile games, there hasn’t been much public outrage about the blown call at the end of Sunday’s Raiders-Titans game, perhaps because that was a low-profile game.
But there was a blown call: According to Titans coach Mike Mularkey, the NFL has admitted that the defensive holding penalty against Titans cornerback B.W. Webb that kept alive the Raiders’ final drive was a poorly officiated play.
On the play in question, the Raiders were facing fourth-and-8 with 1:57 remaining, and a Derek Carr pass fell incomplete. If not for the penalty, the Titans would have taken over with a 21-17 lead and would’ve just had to kneel down three times to run out the clock and win the game. Instead, the penalty gave the Raiders a first down, and Oakland scored the game-winning touchdown two plays later.
After the game, Webb called it a “terrible call,” and Mularkey said, “I do not agree with it.” Apparently the league office doesn’t agree with it either.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski’s knee injury commanded the lion’s share of the attention coming out of Sunday night’s Patriots loss, but he wasn’t the only key member of the team to leave the contest with an injury.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower also departed early with a knee injury. Like Gronkowski, Hightower appears to have avoided a severe injury but may join the tight end on the sideline in the near future.
Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that Hightower suffered a sprained MCL. There’s no timetable given for how long he might be out, although such injuries typically keep a player out for at least a little while.
Before Hightower went out on Sunday night, Denver had 43 yards on 15 carries. Ronnie Hillman scored on a 19-yard run a couple of plays after he left the game and the Broncos would go on to put up 136 yards on 17 carries overall with Hightower out of the game. The Patriots were missing Jamie Collins at linebacker as well and it’s probably not a coincidence that the Broncos were able to run so well with those two missing from the lineup.
They might not be Rob Gronkowski-level players, but the Broncos also left last night with some injuries that will take some key contributors out.
According to Mike Klis of KUSA, the Broncos will be without strong safety T.J. Ward and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams “for a while” after they suffered high ankle sprains on the same play last night.
The two of them even shared a cart ride from the sidelines to the locker room, after being helped off following a first-quarter run.
“Got rolled with Sly on the same play, in the same area on the same tackle,” Ward said.
Missing two key pieces will force the Broncos to adjust, but they have put together a deep defense, and have been able to withstand the absence of pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware.
After Sunday night’s unlikely win over the previously 10-0 Patriots, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak didn’t say that Peyton Manning will return to the lineup only when he’s “100 percent,” or words to that effect. Kubiak probably didn’t need to.
According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Manning won’t be playing “anytime soon.”
Last week, the Broncos announced that Manning would miss at least two games due to the foot injury that has caused him to miss the last two. He’s still in a walking cast, and he is expected to wear it until at least Friday of this week.
Even after shedding the cast, Manning will still need to further rehab a partially-torn plantar fascia tendon. It’s a painful condition, and there’s no indication that rest and rehab will get Manning to the point where he can perform without limitation.
Meanwhile, Brock Osweiler is performing at a high level, making it easier to perform without Manning and harder to justify not rolling with Osweiler’s hot hand. While Manning remains determined to play again in 2015, he’s smart enough and sufficiently self-aware to understand what’s currently happening. And he apparently has no problem with it — even if at this point he’s trying to get healthy enough to play only in the event that Osweiler eventually isn’t.
The early word was that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski avoided a serious injury when he hurt his knee in Denver on Sunday night and further tests have done nothing to change that outlook.
PFT has learned, via a league source, that the Patriots star suffered a minor knee strain. The time frame for his return is expected to be a week or two.
While playing without Gronkowski for any amount of time is a negative for the Patriots offense, this qualifies as good news given how dire the injury appeared to be when Gronkowski first went down on Sunday night. The reactions of Gronkowski and other members of the Patriots gave the impression that it might be a long time before Gronkowski would be back on the field, so a couple of weeks is far easier to swallow for a team that has their sights set on the Super Bowl.