Report: Philip Rivers could end up in Monday Night Football booth

NFL: OCT 18 Bengals at Colts
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Philip Rivers has retired from the NFL, but NFL fans may still see a lot of him.

Rivers would be a candidate for a Monday Night Football analyst job if he’s interested, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. The current plan is to keep the trio of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick in the booth, but if Rivers is interested that might change.

After a career in which Rivers was known for entertaining trash talk, many fans have thought he’d be a natural for a TV job. Rivers is reportedly planning to coach high school football this year, but coaching on Fridays wouldn’t necessarily preclude him calling games on Mondays.

Rivers could also be motivated to take a broadcasting job because it would enhance his chances of being selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It has long been reported that Peyton Manning is ESPN’s first choice for the Monday Night Football booth, but that Manning has turned the job down. Rivers might be the second choice, and it remains to be seen whether he’s interested.

Patrick Mahomes has no injury designation, Clyde Edwards-Helaire questionable

Divisional Round - Cleveland Browns v Kansas City Chiefs
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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes spoke to the media on Friday and announced he’d been cleared from concussion protocol.

Kansas City’s final injury report of the week makes that as official as possible, as Mahomes does not have an injury status heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Bills.

Mahomes was limited in all three practices this week, also listed with a toe injury.

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle/hip) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) are questionable after both were limited in practice all week. Neither played in last week’s game. Darrell Williams took the bulk of the carries at running back, rushing for 78 yards.

Cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland (concussion/shoulder) and Rashad Fenton (foot) are both questionable. Both were limited in all three days of practice.

Running back Le’Veon Bell (knee) did not practice on Thursday or Friday and is questionable.

Linebacker Willie Gay (ankle) is Kansas City’s only player declared out.

Matt Rhule has final say on roster, but “that’s not something I’m real interested in”

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers
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Panthers head coach Matt Rhule may have final say over the makeup of the team’s roster, but he said on Friday that he’s more interested in other things.

Rhule’s comments came during General Manager Scott Fitterer’s introductory press conference and he said they are getting to know each other after Fitterer was hired this week. Rhule said he’s looking for someone who can disagree with him and question football decisions because “we need to push each other and work together” in order to push the team in the right direction.

“I think in terms of on the contract, a lot of those things probably rest with me,” Rhule said, via Darin Gantt of the team’s website. “But that’s not something I’m real interested in. I told you guys from the very beginning . . . I think it’s kind of a formality. Scott’s here to run the personnel. He’s here to build the roster. He’s here to establish the draft process. I think some things are written into the contract, but I think we’re going to work collaboratively and work together.”

Fitterer used to work for the Seahawks and he said that the arrangement of Rhule being in place first is “very similar” to how things worked in Seattle. Head coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider have built a consistent winner in Seattle and the Panthers would love to have things work out the same way with their tandem.

Browns are signing Ryan Switzer to one-year deal

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers
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The Browns are signing receiver Ryan Switzer to a one-year deal, Field Yates of ESPN reports.

The Browns added Switzer to their practice squad Oct. 1, but he did not play in a game in 2020.

The Cowboys made Switzer a fourth-round choice in 2017. He spent one season in Dallas, catching six passes for 41 yards, returning 29 punts for a 8.8 yard average and one touchdown and returning 24 punts for a 25.0 yard average.

He was traded to the Raiders, who in turn, traded him to the Steelers.

Switzer played two seasons in Pittsburgh and scored one touchdown.

The Steelers cut him Sept. 6.

Patrick Mahomes: It’s crazy Eric Bieniemy hasn’t gotten a head coaching job

NFL: OCT 06 Colts at Chiefs
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As the 2021 head coaching cycle is nearing its end, with only the Texans job remaining open.

There’s still a chance Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy gets that position — if he wants it. But on Friday, Patrick Mahomes still seemed confounded that Bieniemy hasn’t yet been hired to lead a franchise.

It’s crazy, would be the best word to describe it,” Mahomes said in his press conference. “To see the stuff that comes out and then knowing the man that he is and the coach that he is every single day, you don’t understand where the stuff comes from. You understand how great of a coach he is, how great of a person he his, how great of a leader he is. And so, it’s crazy that he hasn’t gotten his chance to become a head coach.

“But I promise you, he’ll keep grinding and keep getting better and better and keep helping us out — which is a positive at the end of the day. And, hopefully, help us continue to go to these AFC Championship Games and go to more Super Bowls.”

Mahomes reportedly recommended Bieniemy to Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who in turn spoke to Texans leadership about interviewing the Chiefs offensive coordinator. Mahomes didn’t entirely confirm that report when asked about it on Friday, but did reiterate his stance that Bieniemy has earned an opportunity.

“I talked to [Watson] last offseason,” Mahomes said. “Kind of during the season, you don’t talk to guys as much, because obviously you’re trying to go out there and win football games. But maybe after the season, I might shoot him a text or something like that. But I kind of let that stuff kind of handle itself.

“I know coach Bieniemy has done everything the right way and prepared himself to take whatever opportunity that is. And if it happens, I’m very happy for him. If it doesn’t, he’ll continue to grind and be a great offensive coordinator for us. So I’m just happy that he’s getting these opportunities to go out there and interview. And hopefully one of these teams will be smart enough to take him to be the head coach of their football team.”

Kevin King misses practice with back injury

Tennessee Titans v Green Bay Packers
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The Packers added cornerback Kevin King to their injury list on Friday.

Head coach Matt LaFleur said that King did not take part in the team’s final practice of the week because of a back injury. LaFleur said that the team will monitor his condition over the next couple of days before making a call about his availability for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.

“He had a little back issue,” LaFleur said, via Matt Schneidman of TheAthletic.com. “We’ll give him through the week and see where he’s at and hopefully he’ll be good to go on Sunday.”

King started all 11 games he played in the regular season and he started against the Rams last weekend. He had eight tackles in the 32-18 Green Bay win.

The Packers brought Tramon Williams back to their practice squad this week and King’s injury could press the longtime Packer into service on Sunday.

Bills signing Tristan Vizcaino to practice squad

New York Giants v Cincinnati Bengals
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The Bills are signing kicker Tristan Vizcaino to their practice squad, Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports.

They worked out Vizcaino on Jan. 11.

Tyler Bass has a hand injury but no designation, so Vizcaino’s signing likely is for an emergency kicker in case of future COVID-19 or injury concerns.

Vizcaino, 24, has kicked in only one regular-season game. That came earlier this season for the 49ers. He made all three field goal attempts and both PATs in a Week 17 game against the Seahawks.

He also has spent time with the Vikings, Bengals and Cowboys.

Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley have no injury status for Sunday

Buffalo Bills v Arizona Cardinals
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There’s good news on the injury front in Buffalo, as neither Stefon Diggs nor Cole Beasley have an injury status for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

Diggs (oblique) was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but was full on Friday. Beasley (knee) did not appear on the injury report until Thursday when he was limited. But he also practiced in full on Friday.

The Bills did not declare anyone out, but defensive tackle Vernon Butler (quad) and wide receiver Gabriel Davis (ankle) are both questionable. Butler and Davis did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday, but were full on Friday.

Kicker Tyler Bass (hand), linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (hamstring), defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (ankle), and defensive end Darryl Johnson (knee) had appeared on the injury report this week but are all expected to play.

Patrick Mahomes announces he’s cleared to play

Divisional Round - Cleveland Browns v Kansas City Chiefs
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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes got the news he was looking for after the team’s practice on Friday.

Head coach Andy Reid told reporters that Mahomes was going to be evaluated by doctors after taking part in their final on-field work of the week. Word that Mahomes would be addressing the media came a short time later and that signaled he’d been cleared to play this Sunday.

Players in the concussion protocol don’t meet with reporters and Mahomes confirmed that he’s no longer in the protocol.

“Luckily enough, I haven’t had any symptoms and I’m able to play,” Mahomes said, via Nate Taylor of TheAthletic.com.

Mahomes has also been dealing with a toe injury that he picked up early in last week’s win, but that’s not going to keep him from starting his third straight conference title game.

Report: Cardinals hiring Shawn Jefferson as receivers coach

NFL: JAN 03 Jets at Patriots
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The Cardinals have found a new receivers coach: They are hiring Shawn Jefferson, Howard Balzer of SI.com reports.

The Cardinals parted ways with David Raih after the season despite finishing sixth in total offense and having DeAndre Hopkins tie for second in receptions (115) and rank third in receiving yards (1,407).

Jefferson has 16 seasons of experience as a receivers coach in the NFL, most recently with the Jets where he was also an assistant head coach/offense.

He coached for the Lions from 2005-12 when Hall of Fame finalist Calvin Johnson was in Detroit for the first six seasons of his career. He also has coached with the Titans (2013-2015), Dolphins (2016-2018) and spent the past two seasons with the Jets.

The Oilers made Jefferson a ninth-round choice in 1991, and he played until 2003 for the Chargers, Patriots, Falcons and Lions. He never played a down for the Oilers.

Jefferson’s son, Van, is a receiver for the Rams.

Buccaneers activate Vita Vea, waive Earl Watford

USA TODAY Sports

It looks like Bruce Arians may have been playing coy during his Friday press conference.

Tampa Bay has activated defensive tackle Vita Vea off injured reserve to play in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers.

Vea has been out since suffering a fractured ankle in Week 5 against Chicago. At that point, the third-year pro had registered 2.0 sacks and three tackles for loss.

Arians said Vea has “looked real good” in practice.

As a corresponding roster move, the Buccaneers waived offensive lineman Earl Watford.

Patrick Mahomes still in concussion protocol, meeting with doctors Friday

Divisional Round - Cleveland Browns v Kansas City Chiefs
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It is status quo for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes for the moment.

Mahomes has been participating in practice this week while remaining in the concussion protocol and that remained the case on Friday. Head coach Andy Reid confirmed that Mahomes remains in the protocol after the final on-field work they’ll do ahead of the AFC Championship Game.

Reid said that Mahomes will be evaluated by doctors again on Friday afternoon and will need to be cleared by an independent neurologist before getting the green light to play. Reid said this week that Mahomes has been taking most of the snaps at practice, so that clearance seems to be the Chiefs’ expectation and the Bills are feeling the same way.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland is also in the concussion protocol and Reid said he’ll also be checked out by the medical staff this afternoon.

Report: Seahawks are expected to promote Larry Izzo to special teams coordinator

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Former Seahawks special teams coordinator Brian Schneider is reportedly headed to Jacksonville, and Seattle apparently didn’t have to look far to find his replacement.

The Seahawks will promote are expected to promote Larry Izzo to special teams coordinator, NFL media’s Tom Pelissero reports.

Izzo was Settle’s assistant special teams coach but took over the role when Schneider took a leave of absence for personal reasons early in the 2020 season. Schneider returned to the franchise later on in 2020, but Izzo continued to handle the coordinator duties.

Izzo has been with Seattle since 2018. He played 14 seasons as a linebacker with the Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets.

NFL announces 128 players making early entries into 2021 draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Allstate Sugar Bowl Semifinal Game - Ohio State v Clemson
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The deadline for players to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft has passed and the league announced the players who are leaving school early on Friday.

There are 128 players with eligibility left making the jump. Thirty of those players have already accumulated enough credits to get their degrees while the other 98 are leaving ahead of that point.

A full list of those players can be found below:

Paulson Adebo, DB, Stanford
Jack Anderson, G, Texas Tech
Calvin Ashley, T, Florida A&M
Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville
Aaron Banks, G, Notre Dame
Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Larry Borom, T, Missouri
Bobby Brown, DT, Texas A&M
Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
Shakur Brown, DB, Michigan State
Tyson Campbell, DB, Georgia
Jackson Carman, T, Clemson
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Louisiana State
Brady Christensen, T, Brigham Young
Andre Cisco, DB, Syracuse
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Samuel Cosmi, T, Texas
Aashari Crosswell, DB, Arizona State
Drew Dalman, C, Stanford
Christian Darrisaw, T, Virginia Tech
Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
Brendan DeVera, LB, ASA JC
Brennan Eagles, WR, Texas
Adrian Ealy, T, Oklahoma
Caleb Farley, DB, Virginia Tech
Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Paris Ford, DB, Pittsburgh
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
Kendrick Green, G, Illinois
Olaijah Griffin, DB, Southern California
Darren Hall, DB, San Diego State
Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville
Trey Hill , C, Georgia
Anthony Hines, LB, Texas A&M
Darius Hodge, LB, Marshall
Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon
Jaycee Horn, DB, South Carolina
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State
James Hudson, T, Cincinnati
Talanoa Hufanga, DB, Southern California
Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State
Jamar Johnson, DB, Indiana
Ernest Jones, LB, South Carolina
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
Kelvin Joseph, DB, Kentucky
Joshua Kaindoh, DE, Florida State
Brenden Knox, RB, Marshall
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
Terrace Marshall, WR, Louisiana State
Jalen Mayfield, T, Michigan
Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College
Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
Isaiah McKoy, WR, Kent State
Alim McNeill, DT, North Carolina State
Evan McPherson, K, Florida
Ifeatu Melifonwu, DB, Syracuse
Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
Dax Milne, WR, Brigham Young
Trevon Moehrig, DB, TCU
Elijah Moore, WR, Mississippi
Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Israel Mukuamu, DB, South Carolina
Marcus Murphy, DB, Mississippi State
Josh Myers, C, Ohio State
Greg Newsome, DB, Northwestern
Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
Tre Norwood, DB, Oklahoma
Azeez Ojulari, LB, Georgia
Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas
Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
Ronnie Perkins, DE, Oklahoma
Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Blake Proehl, WR, East Carolina
Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
Chris Rumph, DE, Duke
Asante Samuel, DB, Florida State
Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
Stevie Scott, RB, Indiana
Penei Sewell, T, Oregon
Tyler Shelvin, NT, Louisiana State
William Sherman, T, Colorado
Jamien Sherwood, DB, Auburn
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Southern California
Benjamin St-Juste, DB, Minnesota
Caden Sterns, DB, Texas
Eric Stokes, DB, Georgia
Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
Patrick Surtain, DB, Alabama
Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State
Bryce Thompson, DB, Tennessee
Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State
Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame
Joe Tryon, LB, Washington
Jay Tufele, DT, Southern California
Marlon Tuipulotu, NT, Southern California
Christian Tutt, DB, Auburn
Jaylen Twyman, DT, Pittsburgh
Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, Southern California
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State
Ar’Darius Washington, DB, TCU
Connor Wedington, WR, Stanford
Pro Wells, TE, TCU
Rachad Wildgoose, DB, Wisconsin
Adam Williams, P, Memphis
Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
Pooka Williams, RB, Kansas
Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
Trill Williams, DB, Syracuse
Marco Wilson, DB, Florida
Zach Wilson, QB, Brigham Young
Nahshon Wright, DB, Oregon State

In addition to those 128 players, the league also announced that three players who inquired about their draft status were informed they can be selected without special eligibility. They are:

Walker Little, T, Stanford
Foster Sarell, T, Stanford
Jordan Smith, LB, Alabama-Birmingham

Tom Brady on Antonio Brown: We all wish he could be out there with us

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
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Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians announced Friday that wide receiver Antonio Brown is out for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers, a chance from his earlier stance that Brown would be a game-time decision.

Brown is one of several effective offensive weapons for the Buccaneers, who can likely effectively replace him. Still, quarterback Tom Brady lamented that Brown won’t be available.

“We’re gonna have to find a way to win,” Brady said Friday, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. “It obviously sucks for Antonio. We all wish he could be out there with us, and other guys are gonna have to step up and do the job.”

Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards with four touchdowns during the regular season, notably making 11 receptions for 138 yards with a pair of TDs in Week 17. He’s caught three passes for 59 yards and a TD on six targets in Tampa Bay’s two playoff victories.