Urban Meyer: I’m not a candidate for Notre Dame

NFL: NOV 28 Falcons at Jaguars
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Earlier on Tuesday, ESPN reported that Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer had no interest in taking another college coaching job.

Now Meyer has said so himself.

On a conference call with Los Angeles media with the Jaguars playing the Rams this week, Meyer directly addressed the question of potentially going to Notre Dame after Brian Kelly’s departure to become the head coach at LSU.

I’m not a candidate,” Meyer said, via Greg Beacham of the Associated Press. “Obviously I spent six years of my life there, so great respect for Notre Dame, and as I do USC, UCLA, like we talked about. But I’m committed to the Jaguars and doing the best we can to turn this thing around.”

Meyer was Notre Dame’s receivers coach from 1996-2000 before taking his first head coaching job at Bowling Green.

In some ways, it’s notable Meyer is now doing conference calls with opposing media. He was not doing them earlier in the season, which came up when he was requested by Denver’s media in September.

The Jaguars are currently 2-9 in Meyer’s first season as head coach.

Titans place Monty Rice on injured reserve

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans
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The Titans’ injury issues continue to mount.

Tennessee has placed linebacker Monty Rice on injured reserve, the team announced on Tuesday afternoon.

A third-round rookie out of Georgia, Rice’s role on defense had expanded in recent weeks with Rashaan Evans and David Long sidelined due to injury. Rice started four of Tennessee’s last five games. He has 36 total tackles this season with a quarterback hit and a pass defensed.

Tennessee also announced that receiver Austin Mack has been cut from the practice squad.

The Titans are on a needed bye this week before a matchup with Jacksonville in Week 14.

Eagles place Jack Driscoll on IR, sign Brett Toth to 53-man roster

NFL: NOV 07 Chargers at Eagles
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Jack Driscoll‘s 2021 season is officially over.

The Eagles placed the offensive lineman on injured reserve on Tuesday after he suffered a high-ankle sprain during the team’s loss to the Giants on Sunday.

Driscoll was previously on IR earlier in the season, which makes him ineligible to return to the 53-man roster. He started nine games for the Eagles this season.

Philadelphia has signed offensive lineman Brett Toth off of its practice squad to the active roster to take Driscoll’s place. He was recently waived from the Eagles active roster and signed to their practice squad. Toth has appeared in seven games for Philadelphia this year, mainly on special teams.

The Eagles will be back in New Jersey this weekend to play the Jets.

NFL Thanksgiving games averaged 29.7 million viewers, highest since 1998

Las Vegas Raiders v Dallas Cowboys
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The NFL saw its biggest average audience for Thanksgiving games in 23 years.

The league announced today that the three Thanksgiving games (Bears-Lions, Raiders-Cowboys and Bills-Saints) averaged 29.7 million viewers, which was the highest average viewership for Thanksgiving games since 1998, when there were two games and those two also averaged 29.7 million.

The viewership average was a 9 percent increase over 2020 (when there were only two Thanksgiving games because the pandemic scrambled the schedule) and an 8 percent increase over 2019, when there were also three games.

The most-watched game was Raiders-Cowboys, which totaled 38.3 million viewers (slightly down from the preliminary estimate of 38.5 million) and was the third-most-watched NFL regular-season game ever. Only 1990 Giants-49ers, with 41.5 million viewers, and 1993 Dolphins-Cowboys, with 38.4 million viewers, were watched by more people in NFL regular-season history.

Falcons designate Steven Means for return

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons
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Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said on Sunday that he believes the team’s best football is still in front of them and they may have defensive lineman Steven Means back in the lineup to help them find it.

Means was designated to return from injured reserve on Tuesday. He hurt his knee during the Week Nine win over the Saints and has missed the last three games.

The designation opens a 21-day window for Means to practice with the team and he can be activated at any point in that span.

Means started the first eight games of the season. He has 19 tackles and a fumble return so far this year.

The Falcons also announced that they have activated guard Josh Andrews from the COVID-19 reserve list. He has appeared in one game on special teams this season. The Falcons waived cornerback Chris Williamson in a corresponding move.

Star Lotulelei, Spencer Brown off COVID-19 reserve list for Bills

Green Bay Packers v Buffalo Bills
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The Bills had a handful of players back at practice on Tuesday.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and right tackle Spencer Brown are both off of the COVID-19 reserve list. Lotulelei was placed on the list on the morning of their Week 10 game against the Jets and has missed three straight games overall.

Brown missed the last two games after his own placement on the list and was joined in returning to practice by guard Jon Feliciano. Feliciano is on injured reserve with a calf injury and his return to practice opens a 21-day window to activate him.

All three players could play in Monday night’s game against the Patriots and the Bills could use all the help they can get after falling behind the Patriots in the AFC East in recent weeks.

Pat Freiermuth in concussion protocol

Pittsburgh Steelers v Los Angeles Chargers
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Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth is in concussion protocol, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.

He played 47 of 62 snaps in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals and caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.

For the season, the second-round choice has caught 40 passes for 327 yards and six touchdowns.

Tomlin also said linebacker Robert Spillane has a knee sprain that will make him “less than available” this week.

The coach was more optimistic about the chances of cornerback Joe Haden (foot) returning this week.

Mike Tomlin: Changes will be subtle in nature, but hopefully significant in a positive way

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals
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In the aftermath of Sunday’s 41-10 loss to the Bengals, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that the team is “open to changes” in order to rebound from that loss and the three-game winless streak they carry into this Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

The topic of changes came up again during Tomlin’s Tuesday press conference. Tomlin said that the team will not make changes just for the sake of making them, but added that the one the thing the Steelers “can’t do is continue to do the same things you’ve been doing and expect a different result.”

“We’re open to some schematic changes,” Tomlin said. “We’re open to some personnel changes, obviously. They won’t be drastic in nature. Probably more subtle in nature, but hopefully significant. Significant in a positive way.”

Tomlin didn’t make any mention of specific changes that the team is looking into for this week’s game, so we’ll have to wait until Sunday to see what’s different about the 5-5-1 club

Browns place Jack Conklin on injured reserve

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
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Browns right tackle Jack Conklin‘s season is officially over.

After Conklin tore his patella tendon during the first quarter of Sunday night’s loss to the Ravens, Cleveland placed Conklin on injured reserve on Tuesday.

Conklin’s injury will keep him out for the rest of the year. But because it’s his second stint on IR in 2021, he is ineligible to return to the 53-man roster.

In his second season with the Browns, Conklin started seven games for the franchise. He had missed the previous three weeks with a dislocated elbow.

A former Titans first-round pick in 2016, Conklin is a two-time All-Pro. He earned his second All-Pro berth for Cleveland last year.

The Browns also announced that they signed guard Hjalte Froholdt and defensive end Joe Jackson to the practice squad and released running back Brian Hill from the practice squad.

Cleveland has a bye in Week 13 before playing Baltimore at home in Week 14.

Aaron Rodgers hoping to avoid toe surgery, but will make a decision early next week

Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers
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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still contemplating whether or not to get surgery to repair his fractured toe.

A Monday report from NFL Media stressed that Rodgers had decided not to undergo surgery “at this time,” meaning the quarterback could change his mind if the toe did not improve on its own with rest and treatment.

Green Bay has its bye this week.

During his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers detailed where he is in the decision-making process.

“As compared this Monday to last Monday, I definitely felt better — same with this Tuesday to last Tuesday. So I’ll just keep getting treatment. We’re hoping to avoid surgery, obviously, but the surgery would be such a minor one it wouldn’t be something that I’d have to miss time with. That’s a prerequisite for any surgery that I have at this point — I’m not going to miss any time. So we’ll re-assess early next week and make a decision. But it’s not something where [I’d miss time]. I could have surgery on a Monday or Tuesday and play on Sunday.”

The issue with undergoing surgery, Rodgers said, is that the toe would be immobilized, which would create a further issue for the rest of the season.

“Now it would avoid any further displacement, but it would immobilize the toe,” Rodgers said. “So, we’re hoping that with a couple weeks here, we can get enough healing that maybe we can avoid doing that.

“Now, we’ll re-assess probably later this week and early next week. But the ultimate goal [is] to not have to do surgery. This thing heals up a little bit better and kind of make it through a few more weeks and maybe it doesn’t bother you the last few weeks of the season.”

The Packers will come off their bye to play the Bears on Sunday Night Football in Week 14.

Report: Washington signing Brian Johnson off Bears practice squad

New Orleans Saints v Tennessee Titans
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Washington kicker Joey Slye hurt his hamstring during Monday night’s win over the Seahawks and head coach Ron Rivera said on Tuesday morning that he’s going to miss multiple weeks, so the team will need to replace him on the active roster.

It appears they’ve found Slye’s replacement. According to multiple reports, Washington will sign Brian Johnson off of the Bears’ practice squad.

Johnson was 8-of-8 on field goals and 5-of-8 on extra points while playing four games with the Saints earlier this year. He was let go in favor of Brett Maher after missing two extra points in a 23-21 loss to the Titans in Week 10.

Johnson will be the fourth kicker for Washington this season. Dustin Hopkins opened the season in the job and lasted six games before giving way to Chris Blewitt for two games. Blewitt had three field goals blocked in those games and Slye handled the duties the last three weeks.

 

Kyle Shanahan: Trey Lance hasn’t been playing to keep offense, play-calling in rhythm

San Francisco 49ers v Jacksonville Jaguars
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In the first few weeks of the season, the 49ers used some different packages to get No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance on the field, particularly when the offense was close to the goal-line.

But since returning from the knee injury suffered in his first start against the Cardinals back on Oct. 10, Lance has solely been on clipboard duty as a backup. He’s only seen the field for the last five snaps of San Francisco’s 30-10 blowout victory over Jacksonville in Week 11.

Why the change? Head coach Kyle Shanahan said it has to do with his play-calling.

It’s more about me, to tell you the truth,” Shanahan said Monday, via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBCSportsBayArea.com. “In terms of calling plays, we get into a rhythm of attacking a defense and what fronts they are playing and what coverages. Every play kind of plays off the next play and you get a feel, our players do and I, of what we are going to.”

Shanahan added that bringing in Lance also makes defenses less predictable because of how they adjust to a different QB.

“What’s been hard on me, that I didn’t realize, is when you do bring in a different quarterback who gets a different set of plays, it’s almost the first play I’ve been seeing of a new defense,” Shanahan said. “You see what fronts and coverages they are doing but they are doing it completely to a plan as a threat of the runner at that position.

“I don’t know what to anticipate with it, and then I got to stay in it for a while to get a feel for that. And then you go back and that feels kind of off for the last guy, so it kind of hurts my rhythm a little bit of understanding what a defense is getting. That’s why personally as the year has gone I’ve gotten a little more away from it because I like to get a feel for what the defense is doing.”

The 49ers have won their last three games and four of their last five to get to 6-5. With the offense rolling with Jimmy Garoppolo, it seems like there’s little reason to change things up by inserting Lance.

Still, the 49ers traded up to draft Lance for a reason. Sooner or later — and right now it seems like later — lance will get more opportunities to show what he can do.

Mike Tomlin rejects Chase Claypool’s request for music and “more fun” at practice

NFL: OCT 10 Broncos at Steelers
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Chase Claypool wants practice to be more fun. Mike Tomlin wants Claypool to mind his own business.

Via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com, the Steelers coach was asked on Tuesday about the second-year receiver’s suggestion that the Steelers play music at practice and otherwise make the experience “more fun.”

“Claypool plays wideout and I’ll let him do that,” Tomlin said. “I’ll formulate the practice approach, and I think that division of labor is appropriate.”

And that’s that. Consider it a lesson learned for Claypool and for any other current or future Steelers player who has any ideas about how things should happen at practice.

Report: Urban Meyer has no interest in returning to college

Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars
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Urban Meyer won’t be going back to South Bend.

According to ESPN.com, the Jaguars coach “has no interest in taking another head-coaching job in college and remains committed to rebuilding the Jaguars.”

It’s entirely possible Meyer has no interest in taking another head-coaching job in college because no college job has interest in Meyer. Whether it was USC or LSU or Oklahoma or now Notre Dame, his name has not surfaced as a viable candidate at any of those places. So it’s easy for him to say he’s not interested in taking a college coaching job.

Also, it’s smart. He creates the impression that there would be demand for his services, if he wanted to leave for a college job. Even if there wouldn’t be.

Jaguars put Dan Arnold on injured reserve

Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars
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Word on Monday was that Jaguars tight end Dan Arnold will miss a month or more after hurting his knee in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons and a roster move on Tuesday confirmed that outlook.

The Jaguars announced that Arnold has been placed on injured reserve. He’ll be eligible to return after missing three games, but the reported timeline suggests there’s a good chance that Arnold will not return to action this season.

Arnold came to the Jaguars in a trade with Carolina for cornerback CJ Henderson earlier this season. He had 28 catches for 324 yards in eight games with Jacksonville after catching seven passes for 84 yards with the Panthers.

Chris Manhertz, James O'Shaughnessy, Jacob Hollister, and Luke Farrell are the other tight ends on the Jaguars roster.