Brown and Danny Woodhead also give the team a pair of options to turn to if they feel Mathews’ play is not where they want it to be. That was sometimes an issue early in Mathews’ career because of fumbles and Thursday night’s preseason game provided a reminder of those days when Mathews coughed up the ball on his way into the end zone. Chargers coach Mike McCoy wasn’t thrilled with the turnover, but said he’s not turning to Brown or Woodhead the next time the Chargers are knocking on the door.
Fumble won’t change Ryan Mathews’ role with Chargers
Left tackle Branden Albert is one of four Dolphins offensive starters inactive for Thursday night’s game at Cincinnati.
Albert had been listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Also out are tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion), center Mike Pouncey (hip) and running back Arian Foster (hamstring). Pouncey has yet to play this season, and Foster also missed last week’s game.
The Dolphins also announced Damien Williams as the starter at running back. Rookie Laremy Tunsil will move out from guard to start in place of Albert, and Billy Turner will start at Tunsil’s usual spot of left guard.
Dolphins Coach Adam Gase had hinted at changes to the lineup even before injuries forced at least a few of them. As previously reported, Tony Lippett is replacing Byron Maxwell in the starting lineup at cornerback.
As expected, Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard will start in place of the injured Dre Kirkpatrick. The Bengals also have decided to keep tight end Tyler Eifert out at least another week. They had listed Eifert and Kirkpatrick as doubtful.
Friday’s PFT Live features a question of the day that focuses on the weekend to come. Specifically, which game is the biggest game of the fourth week of the season?
Pick from one of the five selections below, defend your selection in the comments, attack the selections of others, or complain about the decision to omit a contest like Lions-Bears.
You can also correct preemptively everyone who will improperly refer to this weekend as the “quarter pole” of the season.
Guests include Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, and perhaps someone from the team that wins on Thursday night, when the Dolphins face the Bengals.
The Dolphins, by the way, are 15-3 against Cincinnati since the merger, a fact that is not relevant to Thursday’s game but nevertheless extremely interesting — especially since PFT Live producer Rob “Stats” Guerrera strongly believes it isn’t.
A great Sunday in Cincinnati for the Broncos was followed by a bizarre Monday morning.
Via KUSA in Denver, a man was arrested on Monday for entering the team’s facility, making strange accusations, and issuing a vague threat to a security officer and G.M. John Elway.
36-year-old Cordell Robinson entered through an unlocked door in the team’s media room at 7:10 a.m. local time, walked to the lobby, and began taking photographs of the trophies. Asked to leave, Robinson allegedly claimed that the Broncos owe him money, and that he owns 20 percent of the franchise.
Asked to leave again, Robinson said to the security officer that Robinson would “get him and Elway.”
Robinson faces charges of second-degree criminal trespass.
Maxwell, acquired in a trade with the Eagles last March, has started the first three games. He’s broken up four passes and forced a fumble, but the Dolphins have struggled and the defense has given up too many big plays in the passing game.
The Eagles traded Maxwell a year after signing him to a six-year, $63 million contract.
Lippett is a second-year player who played in nine games as a rookie and has played in all three this season as a backup.
If the NFL wants to get more popular in England, perhaps it should stop scheduling such bad games there.
With the 1-2 Colts facing the 0-3 Jaguars on Sunday, the NFL will be fielding its 15th regular season game in London. And not a single one of them has matched up two teams with winning records. Six of them have matched up two teams with losing records.
Here’s the full list of regular season games in London, with the teams’ records heading into the game:
2007: Giants (5-2) vs. Dolphins (0-7)
2008: Chargers (3-4) vs. Saints (3-4)
2009: Patriots (4-2) vs. Buccaneers (0-6)
2010: Broncos (2-5) vs. 49ers (1-6)
2011: Bears (3-3) vs. Buccaneers (4-2)
2012: Patriots (4-3) vs. Rams (3-4)
2013: Steelers (0-3) vs. Vikings (0-3)
2013: 49ers (5-2) vs. Jaguars (0-7)
2014: Dolphins (1-2) vs. Raiders (0-3)
2014: Lions (5-2) vs. Falcons (2-5)
2014: Cowboys (6-3) vs. Jaguars (1-8)
2015: Jets (2-1) vs. Dolphins (1-2)
2015: Bills (3-3) vs. Jaguars (1-5)
2015: Lions (1-6) vs. Chiefs (2-5)
2016: Colts (1-2) vs. Jaguars (0-3)
No undefeated team has ever played in London, but on Sunday the Jaguars will become the sixth winless team to play in London.
A big problem facing the NFL is that good teams don’t want to give up home games to play in London. In fact, last year the Chiefs became the first team to give up a home game to London and still finish the season with a winning record. As long as second-tier teams are going to London, the NFL is going to have a hard time getting London fans excited.
With the 2-1 Giants playing the 2-1 Rams in London later this month, it’s possible that London fans will finally see something they haven’t seen yet: A game featuring two winning teams.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones signed with the Lions as a free agent this offseason and he’s fit right in with his new team in the first three games of the season.
Jones leads the league in receiving yards with 408 and is coming off a six-catch/205-yard/two-touchdown performance in Week Three’s loss to the Packers. Jones’ chances of building on those numbers could be impacted by a hamstring injury, however.
Jones is on Thursday’s injury report as a limited participant in practice after not being on the report at all after Wednesday’s practice. That suggests that Jones may have come down with the injury during practice and will make Friday’s practice one to watch for a better idea about how much the hamstring might affect him against the Bears on Sunday.
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah (ankle) and linebacker DeAndre Levy (quad) remained out of practice for the Lions while tight end Eric Ebron (ankle) got in a limited practice after missing Wednesday’s session.
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon announced Thursday that he’ll enter an in-patient treatment facility and that his NFL return is on hold.
Gordon was conditionally reinstated by the NFL in July and would have been eligible to fully return to the Browns on Monday, Oct. 3 and play in the team’s Oct. 9 game. He was suspended for the first four games of 2016 as part of the terms of reinstatement from his previous suspension.
“After careful thought and deep consideration I’ve decided that I need to step away from pursuing my return to the Browns and my football career to enter an in-patient rehabilitation facility,” Gordon said in a statement. “This is the right decision for me and one that I hope will enable me to gain full control of my life and continue on a path to reach my full potential as a person. I appreciate the support of the NFL, NFLPA, the Browns, my teammates, my agent and the community through this extremely challenging process.”
Gordon led the NFL in receiving with 1,646 yards in 2013. He’s played in just five games since due to two different NFL suspensions and a one-game team suspension at the end of 2014. Gordon participated in training camp when healthy in August and played in two preseason games.
“We support Josh in taking this step to seek additional help and treatment,” Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said. “His singular focus must be on his own health. We want nothing more than for Josh to be successful personally and professionally and will not comment on his status with the organization at this time.”
The Chargers had a new addition to Thursday’s injury and participation report. Starting left guard Orlando Franklin did not practice Thursday due to a back issue.
Defensive end Joey Bosa, who’s still trying to get healthy enough to make his NFL debut, was again listed as limited with a hamstring injury. Cornerback Brandon Flowers missed a second straight day of practice due to a concussion.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant ducked an MRI in part because he didn’t want bad news. On Thursday, he apparently has gotten good news.
On Twitter, Bryant tweeted that he received “great feedback” from Dr. James Andrews. Bryant also described himself as “day to day.”
That’s great news, given that Bryant reportedly will miss up to three weeks with a hairline fracture in his knee. Of course, this doesn’t mean Bryant will be ready to go when the Cowboys play at San Francisco on Sunday.
Earlier on Thursday, coach Jason Garrett explained that Bryant feared that he had a serious knee injury, which caused him to avoid the diagnostic procedure that would have confirmed its existence.
Maybe the Jets don’t have an MRI machine at their facility, either.
In the same week that an MRI on the knee of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was delayed in part by the fact that the swanky new digs in Frisco, Texas lack the fairly significant bones-and-ligament-and-cartilage diagnostic machinery, Jets receiver Eric Decker still hasn’t had an MRI on his injured shoulder.
On Wednesday, coach Todd Bowles said Decker “probably” will get an MRI. On Thursday, Bowles said that an MRI hasn’t happened, yet.
“He could be [getting an MRI],” Bowles said. “They’re still discussing it.”
Asked if there’s a reason for the delay in the administration of the MRI, Bowles said, “Not to my knowledge, no. . . . I’m not going in and demanding that he have an MRI. I’m sure they have their reasons and that isn’t my call.”
Asked if there’s a concern that Decker’s injury could last more than a week, Bowles said, “It’s a concern. Hopefully it’s not, but if it is, we’re getting other guys ready to play. I’ll see where he is [Friday] before I can make a decision on how serious or not serious it is.”
Decker injured the shoulder in Week Two against the Bills. He aggravated it on Sunday, in a loss to the Chiefs.
We’ve known for more than a week that Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory dropped his appeal of a 10-game suspension, but there was never a formal announcement from the league that the suspension has been put in place.
That announcement came on Thursday. The league confirmed that Gregory will be suspended through the team’s December 18 game against the Buccaneers as the suspension does not go into effect until after this weekend’s game against the 49ers because Gregory is still serving a four-game ban.
Gregory played 12 games as a rookie before his substance-abuse violations led to the two suspensions and owner Jerry Jones was asked if he feels the second-round pick they used to select Gregory was a wasted one.
“I really don’t want to hindsight those,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “If you look at the amount of play time we got out of a second-round pick, then I would say that it’s not been good. Ultimately, if we can have him on the field, which is rightfully the question … then it would be an outstanding pick.”
Gregory’s unlikely to change any minds on that front in two weeks at the end of this year after missing training camp and the preseason while at a treatment facility, which means that discussion can move into 2017 if the Cowboys decide to keep Gregory on hand.
Bell was suspended for the first three games and was allowed to return to the team earlier this week. Richardson had played in all three games this season.
Bell scored three rushing touchdowns in six games last year. He was first-team All-Pro in 2014, when he ran for 1,361 yards and eight touchdowns and also had 854 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The Steelers host the Chiefs Sunday night.
The Dolphins head into Thursday night’s game with several injuries on their offensive line so they’ve called up a healthy lineman from their practice squad.
The team announced that they have promoted guard Jamil Douglas to the active roster in time for their matchup with the Bengals. Douglas was a fourth-round pick last year and made six starts while appearing in all 16 games.
Miami ruled out center Mike Pouncey for the fourth straight game with a hip injury and his replacement Anthony Steen is unlikely to play on Thursday night after being listed as doubtful with an ankle injury. Left tackle Branden Albert is questionable with an ankle injury and right guard Jermon Bushrod drew the same designation due to a wrist injury.
The Dolphins have 12 other players on their injury report as they try to even their record at 2-2 on Thursday night.
49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis has become the NFL’s most recent Brett Favre, with two annual retirements, and counting. But there won’t be a second unretirement in 2016.
Officially, the 49ers didn’t place Davis on the reserve/retired list. He’s on the exempt/left squad list.
This implies: (1) that Davis left the team; (2) that he received the so-called “five-day” letter explaining that, if he doesn’t return, he’ll be placed on the “left squad” list; and (3) that he didn’t return.
The difference is significant. If Davis were on the reserve/retired list, he could unretire at any time. Placement on the “left squad” list could me that he can’t play for the 49ers or anyone else in 2016.
Meanwhile, Davis will be required to return another chunk of bonus money to the 49ers. He previously paid back the 2015 allocation following his first retirement. He’ll now have to surrender the corresponding portion of his 2016 allocation for the games that he missed.
It still remains unclear why Davis is not longer with the team.
“I did not talk to Anthony,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly told reporters on Thursday. “He came in and talked to [49ers General Manager] Trent [Baalke]. I did not see him. Trent came down and told me what transpired and then Anthony was gone, but I did not talk to him.”
So what did Davis tell Baalke?
“Trent said that it was because of injuries,” Kelly said. “That’s all I know. But it’s probably a good question for Trent. For me to talk specifically about a conversation someone had with someone else, that’s not, I don’t know exactly what transpired. I was just told that’s what was going on and then really the next step for us was what are we doing with the roster spot and all those other things. I’ve reached out to Anthony and gave him a call just to talk to him, but I didn’t connect with him yet.”
Davis had tried to agitate for his release in April, possibly because the 49ers weren’t willing to reimburse the bonus money that he’d refunded in 2015. Eventually, Davis decided to return without being cut and without getting his bonus allocation back. Now that he’s gone again, he’ll lose even more money.
The question now becomes whether Davis will return again in 2017, and whether the 49ers will continue to squat on his rights.
UPDATE 4;11 p.m. ET: The 49ers inform PFT that they placed Davis on the exempt/left squad list in order to clear a roster spot, that he’s in the five-day window, and that if he doesn’t return he’ll go on the reserve/left squad list. At that point, he won’t be eligible to play for the 49ers or anyone else this year.
According to ESPN, Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson picked up the longest penalty in at least 15 years last Sunday when he was flagged for a pass interference penalty that gave the Packers a 66-yard gain on the first play of the second quarter.
The Packers scored a touchdown on the next play to take a 21-3 lead on their way to a 34-27 victory. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said after the game that he didn’t think Lawson interfered with Packers wideout Trevor Davis on the play and Lawson said Thursday that the NFL told the Lions that it was an incorrect call. Lawson said one of the team’s coaches told him about the league’s response.
“It’s definitely frustrating because you get that call wrong,” Lawson said, via ESPN.com. “The worst part about it is that it affected that drive, and we gave up a touchdown, you know what I’m saying? So we can’t get that back. So the only thing we get is an apology, so it’s frustrating. But like I said, we got to continue to play and move on.”
It’s the second year in a row that has seen the Lions take issue with a call in a game against the Packers. They were upset by a facemask penalty on defensive lineman Devin Taylor last year that allowed the Packers an untimed down that ended with Aaron Rodgers completing a Hail Mary to win the game. That game was officiated by a crew headed by referee Carl Cheffers, as was last Sunday’s game.
Lawson said that he’d like to see pass interference calls be subject to replay review, something that others have brought up over the years but has gotten little traction with the competition committee.