Hard Knocks expands to include in-season series, with the Colts

Seattle Seahawks v Indianapolis Colts
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Hard Knocks will now include a team that has undergone many of them since Andrew Luck retired.

The NFL has announced that the long-running series that focuses only on training camp and the preseason will add an in-season component. The first subject will be the Colts.

It’s a “multi-episode” series that will debut on Wednesday, November 17.

In recent years, NFL Films and Amazon produced All or Nothing, a series based on one specific team’s season. The episodes were released well after the season ended. The new Hard Knocks will have new episodes landing during the season.

The existing version of Hard Knocks has grown stale and uninteresting. Even with the Cowboys serving as the focal point for 2021, it didn’t seem nearly as interesting as it should have been. An in-season product could be very good.

As always, the level of intrigue will depend on the extent to which the team allows intriguing moments to make it to air. The best stuff often ends up on the cutting-room floor. If the NFL wants this to be as good as it can be, the expanded Hard Knocks will do its name justice, bringing to life all of the emotions — good and bad — that an NFL team experiences during a given season.

Washington leads Giants 14-10 at halftime

New York Giants v Washington Football Team
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Taylor Heinicke might win the full-time starting job with the way he’s playing in Thursday Night Football. The Washington quarterback, playing only because of the hip injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick, went 17-of-21 for 162 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

He has led touchdown drives of 90 and 84 yards. J.D. McKissic‘s 2-yard run on third down with 21 seconds left in the second quarter has Washington leading 14-10 at halftime.

Terry McLaurin scored the team’s other touchdown on an 11-yard catch from Heinicke. McLaurin has six catches for 60 yards, while Logan Thomas has caught three passes for 32 yards.

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has thrown for 65 yards and run for 73. He should have had 12 more rushing yards, which would have given the Giants a halftime tie.

Receiver C.J. Board was called for a questionable holding penalty on defensive back William Jackson on a 58-yard touchdown run by Jones. A spot foul, it still set up the Giants at the Washington 22. But the Giants got only as close to the end zone as the Washington 5-yard line and settled for a chip-shot, 23-yard field goal by Graham Gano.

Washington defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who had only two sacks last season, has two sacks tonight. He had one last week. Washington has five quarterback hits.

Washington ties the Giants on a Terry McLaurin touchdown

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Terry McLaurin hasn’t played with an All-Pro quarterback. Heck, he hasn’t had a starting quarterback who’s been able to keep the job either because of injury or performance.

McLaurin has played with seven quarterbacks in his three seasons.

He has Taylor Heinicke tonight, and Heinicke is giving McLaurin a chance to show a national audience just how good he is. McLaurin has beaten Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry, totaling five catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.

His 11-yard touchdown catch tied the game 7-7 with 11:16 remaining in the first half. McLaurin had four catches for 43 yards on the 13-play, 90-yard drive.

Nick Gates carted off with gruesome lower leg fracture

New York Giants v Washington Football Team
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Giants offensive lineman Nick Gates played all 61 offensive snaps at center last week. This week, he moved to left guard with an injury to Shane Lemieux and the recent addition of center Billy Price from the Bengals.

Gates, though, was injured on the team’s 12th offensive play Thursday night.

He was carted off with a gruesome leg injury after Jonathan Allen overpowered Gates and threw him down as Daron Payne inadvertently rolled up on Gates.

It was obvious from Gates’ reaction it was a serious injury, and the Giants announced he has a lower leg fracture.

Medical personnel placed an air cast on Gates’ left lower leg before he was placed on a cart and taken to the training room. His teammates wished him well before he departed, and he raised a peace sign to acknowledge the crowd’s applause and flashed a brief smile.

Ben Bredeson replaced Gates, a captain, at left guard. The Giants traded for Bredeson on Aug. 31, a day after they dealt for Price.

Daniel Jones’ touchdown run gives Giants the early lead

New York Giants v Washington Football Team
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Daniel Jones has had as much success as he had hoped in his first two seasons. The Giants have won eight games with Jones as their quarterback, but four of those have come against Washington.

He has the Giants off to a fast start Thursday.

The Giants lead 7-0, scoring on Jones’ 6-yard run up the middle with 7:35 remaining in the first quarter. It capped an 11-play, 79-yard drive.

The Giants got a break when, on second-and-12 from the Washington 16, Chase Young landed on Jones on a quarterback hit that resulted in an incompletion. The Giants got 8 yards and an automatic first down. They scored two plays later.

Jones is 4-for-4 for 45 yards and has three rushes for 23 yards.

Washington has gone three-and-out on its first two drives.

Russell Wilson is one win from becoming the third fastest quarterback to 100

Seattle Seahawks v Indianapolis Colts
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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has 99 career wins. On Sunday against the Titans, he can become the third fastest quarterback in league history to get to 100.

On Thursday, he was asked to discuss the significance of the achievement.

“Every day I wake up and tell people, because they’ll ask me, ‘What’s your job, can you explain to me what your job is as the quarterback?’” Wilson told reporters. “I’ll say, ‘I have one simple job, that is to help the Seattle Seahawks win.’

“It’s a job that I love, it’s a blessing to be able to do it. Every day I wake up, I strap on my cleats, and come to work, whether it’s in the offseason, early in the morning, late at night, or during the season. That’s what I’m built to do. To be in the same category as Tom Brady or Joe Montana in my first 10 years is a blessing but I haven’t done it yet, we have to go and win. For me, the biggest thing is to keep going and keep winning, that’s what the game is about. Anything else is not in my mindset so every day I wake up it’s to win, help our team win, provide, have great habits in our approach, and do things at the highest level possible. I’ve been fortunate to play against some of the greatest quarterbacks ever, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady. I wasn’t able to play against Joe [Montana] but when you think about it, those guys, I really respected them along the way because of how they’ve done it and how they’ve been so successful over the years. Hopefully I can keep going.”

Wilson has said on multiple occasions that he plans to play until he’s 45. If he does, he’ll have a lot more than 100 wins by the time he’s done.

On Sunday, when he racked up his 99th win, Wilson racked up a significant individual award. He now has the most games with four touchdown passes and no interceptions in a player’s first 10 seasons, with 11. And he has 16 more chances to add to it. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning had 10 in 10 full seasons.

Derwin James returns to full practice

Los Angeles Chargers v Washington Football Team
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Chargers safety Derwin James played all 55 defensive snaps Sunday in his return from a knee injury that kept him from playing in 2020. But he came out of his first game since Dec. 29, 2019, with a toe injury.

James, who had eight tackles and a pass breakup against Washington, did not practice Wednesday but returned to a full practice Thursday.

The news wasn’t as good for the team’s other starting safety as Nasir Adderley (groin) remained out of practice.

“It’s still early in the week and we’re evaluating Nas [Adderley] as well,” defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said. “There are some other guys who have had some nicks and bruises. We just have to continue to roll with how the practice flows. If those guys aren’t practicing, we just have to have the next man up. It’s still early. Things can change moving forward. We’re just going to be ready to go.”

The Chargers’ other changes to their practice report were: Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell (knee) returned to a limited practice after missing Wednesday; the Chargers added kicker Tristan Vizcaino with an illness, listing him as limited; and defensive back Trey Marshall (ankle) was upgraded to a full practice after being limited a day earlier.

Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (groin/back), cornerback Chris Harris (shoulder) and defensive lineman Justin Jones (calf) remained out a second consecutive day.

The Playmakers podcast debuts tomorrow


Good news, the Playmakers podcast debuts on Friday.

Bad news, it’s not available to anyone and everyone.

Better news, you can get it by preordering my new book, Playmakers.

With the book not coming out until March 15, we wanted to give those who decide to buy it now a little something for their decision to make the purchase. It’s a weekly, exclusive audio product that discusses various pertinent NFL issues, answers your questions, and touches on whatever else I may be thinking of once the taping of the podcast begins.

To register for the Playmakers podcast, buy the book and then upload your proof of preorder at the Hachette website.

To buy the book, here’s the Amazon link. If you prefer to buy from Barnes and Noble, you can preorder it there. Or you can order it from Book-A-Million. Or through Bookshop.org. Or if you’d like to preorder through an independent bookstore, IndieBound.org can hook you up. A signed copy can be purchased from Premiere Collectibles.

Given that it’s not coming out for nearly six months, a surprising number of you already have bought it. If you want to have full access to every episode of the Playmakers podcast, buy it now.

And if you have registered for the Playmakers podcast, or if you plan to, ask a question here. The best ones get answered tomorrow.

Saquon Barkley is active for Thursday Night Football

Denver Broncos v New York Giants
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Giants running back Saquon Barkley is playing in Thursday Night Football. He was not among the team’s inactives.

The team listed Barkley as questionable Wednesday as he continues to recover from last season’s knee injury. Two games in four days is not ideal, and it will be worth watching whether the Giants have him on a pitch count tonight.

He played 29 of 61 offensive snaps Sunday and saw 11 touches for 27 yards.

The Giants already had ruled out linebacker Cam Brown (hamstring) and tight end Evan Engram (calf). Their other inactives are receiver Collin Johnson, cornerback Josh Jackson, cornerback Sam Beal, linebacker Justin Hilliard and linebacker Quincy Roche.

Washington had no players with designations on its Wednesday injury report after placing Ryan Fitzpatrick on injured reserve. Its inactives are cornerback Darryl Roberts, defensive end Shaka Toney, offensive tackle Saahdiq Charles and tight end Sammis Reyes.

Washington running back Antonio Gibson, who was a limited participant in Monday’s estimated practice report, had no designation Wednesday and is good to go.

Will Ronald Jones start Sunday?

NFL: SEP 09 Cowboys at Buccaneers
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Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians declared Ronald Jones the starting running back during his Tuesday news conference. In fact, the media was so surprised at Arians’ declaration, they asked him to confirm he meant Jones would start against the Falcons.

Arians responded, “Yes.”

So will he or won’t he?

Arians said on Bucs Total Access on Thursday that he considers Jones, Leonard Fournette AND Giovani Bernard as starters.

“They each have a role, and it’s just the time of the game, different scenarios,” Arians told Casey Phillips. “They’re all starters. There’s no expectation level that’s any different. It’s whoever’s out there.”

Jones didn’t start the opener, lost a fumble on his sixth snap and didn’t play again last Thursday night against the Cowboys. He finished with four carries for 14 yards, and Arians said Jones struggled mentally after he turned it over.

“Ro was running hard, running good and just lost the ball. Got to hang onto it in the pile,” Arians said.

For what it’s worth, the Bucs list Jones as the starting running back.

Tom Brady’s advice to young quarterbacks who want to have a long career: “Good luck”

Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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As Tom Brady thrives at age 44 and muses about playing until he’s 50, he was asked on Thursday to explain what he’d tell young quarterbacks who hope to have long NFL careers.

“Good luck,” Brady said.

“It’s tough, but it’s up to them,” he added. “Yeah, if you do the right stuff, you have a shot. But I see a lot of people not do the right stuff. I try to influence the people I can. First of all, you have to love it. If you want to do it for a long period of time, you have to really excel at it and that really comes from loving it. It’s a lot of different motivations over long periods of time. Lots of little things at different moments – some is more motivation, some is more inspiration, but there are a lot of different things that play into it.”

Dedication is a huge part of it. A willingness to devote your life to your craft. Diet, exercise, sleep, study, everything. Year in and year out. Over and over again.

Brady had all of it, along with plenty of luck. And possibly a deal with the devil. The longer he keeps playing, the more likely that scenario becomes.

Eddie Goldman misses practice despite an “arrow up” in his return

Chicago Bears v Philadelphia Eagles
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Bears coach Matt Nagy said nose tackle Eddie Goldman had an “arrow up” in his return from a knee injury. Only 90 minutes later, Goldman didn’t practice.

On Wednesday, Goldman made his first practice appearance since injuring his knee in the Sept. 6 practice with the Bears listing him as limited. A day later, the Bears downgraded him.

Starting left tackle Jason Peters, who injured a quadriceps Sunday night, remained limited for a second consecutive day.

“I think they are in a good place and we’ll continue to monitor them day-by-day,” Nagy said of Goldman and Peters before practice, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “But I would say, as I’ve used before: Arrow up for them. I feel good about them and we need to see each day how we go, but they’ve been doing well.”

Defensive lineman Bilal Nichols said Goldman “wants to be out there on the field and he wants to help us win.”

Goldman opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. He missed part of training camp with the virus and then dealt with a back injury. Goldman played in the final preseason game, getting 10 snaps against the Titans.

Peters played 32 snaps Sunday before his injury, with Larry Borom and then Elijah Wilkinson replacing him. Borom (ankle) has not practiced this week.

Linebacker Robert Quinn (back) remained limited.

Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods on defending the Chiefs: “You can’t cover them all”

NFL: SEP 12 Browns at Chiefs
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The Browns nearly beat the Chiefs, but they didn’t come close to shutting down receiver Tyreek Hill, who caught 11 passes for 197 yards on Sunday. Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods discussed the challenge of defending the Chiefs when meeting with reporters on Thursday.

“You can’t cover them all,” Woods said. “There are a lot of weapons out there so again, when you game plan, there are certain calls that take away certain things they do, but there may be some guys who get some one-on-ones. This is part of the game, but when you have a team that has so many weapons across the board, you just have to be very selective when you choose to double somebody.”

They didn’t double Hill nearly enough. Woods explained the biggest play of the day, a 75-yard catch-and-run in which safety Josh Johnson found himself trying to cover Hill alone.

“It was an empty formation so we were in a certain empty adjustment,” Woods said. “We had it covered, and we kind of adjusted it during the game so we had everything covered. [Patrick] Mahomes did a great job just staying alive. You saw the throw. He threw it up there, and it just came down. At the end of the day, they made more plays than we made, especially in critical situations.”

If the Browns hope to get past the Chiefs in a postseason rematch, they’ll need to be the one making more of the plays. That won’t be relevant until January. The Browns have to put a pin in their desire to finally beat the Chiefs, focusing instead on doing everything they can to get to that point.

Jason Pierre-Paul out of practice Thursday

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Houston Texans
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Jason Pierre-Paul‘s name will be one to watch when the Buccaneers release their injury designations for Sunday’s game against the Falcons.

Pierre-Paul was a limited participant with a hand injury on Wednesday, but he took a step in the wrong direction on Thursday. Pierre-Paul was out of practice altogether.

Pierre-Paul has gotten plenty of rest during the week in recent seasons and the Buccaneers may be managing his workload in order to ensure he’s able to chase after Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan this weekend. Friday’s report will bring the answer to that question.

Defensive tackle Steve McLendon was the only other Bucs player out of practice, but it was just a day of rest for the veteran. Linebacker Shaq Barrett (back), wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee), and safety Jordan Whitehead (hamstring) were full participants for Tampa.

Marshon Lattimore returns to practice on limited basis


Cornerback Marshon Lattimore underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a chipped bone in his thumb. He returned to practice Thursday.

The Saints listed Lattimore as a limited participant.

The three-time Pro Bowler missed one series in the second half before returning with a cast on his right wrist. He played 36 of 57 defensive snaps, with three tackles and a pass breakup.

Safety P.J. Williams (back) also returned to limited work Thursday.

Linebacker Kwon Alexander (elbow), defensive end Marcus Davenport (shoulder), center Erik McCoy (calf), defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (calf) and linebacker Pete Werner (hamstring) remained out of practice a second consecutive day.

Defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson (knee) and linebacker Chase Hansen (groin) missed practice a day after being limited.