The 49ers have no players on their final injury report before Sunday’s NFC Championship Game and the Packers aren’t in much worse shape on the health front.
Fullback Danny Vitale is listed as questionable to face the Niners due to a knee injury, but no other players received injury designations for Sunday’s game. Vitale was limited in practice all week.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga didn’t play last Sunday because of an illness and wide receiver Allen Lazard picked up an ankle injury during the game, but both are set to be in action after closing out the week as full participants in practice.
Defensive tackle Kenny Clark and linebacker Preston Smith moved from limited participation to full participation on Friday and everyone on the team practiced in some capacity each of the last two days.
The 49ers are as healthy as they can possibly be this time of year. Literally.
They have no player with an injury designation.
“No injuries to report,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said, via David Lombardi of TheAthletic.com. “Everyone is full go.”
That includes tight end George Kittle (ankle) and defensive lineman Dee Ford (quadriceps/hamstring).
Kittle sat out Wednesday’s work with some “wear and tear” in his ankle but returned to a full practice Thursday and was a full participant Friday.
Ford missed Wednesday’s work and was limited Thursday before being a full participant Friday.
Linebacker Kwon Alexander (pectoral) was limited all week, but he, too, will play.
Marshal Yanda‘s contract runs through 2020, but following the divisional-round loss to the Titans, the Pro Bowl right guard declined to comment about his plans for next season.
Will he return or won’t he?
“I talked to him after the game; that’s it,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday at his season-ending news conference, via Daniel Oyefusi of the Baltimore Sun. “Marshal made it pretty clear, I think, that he’s going to think about things, you know, going forward. What a year. One of the things about being at the level he’s at and being at the stage of career he’s at, when you’re a Hall of Fame type of guy and you’re a lineman, it’s really important to finish strong in your career, to play Hall of Fame football at the end. Because that’s when everybody’s watching. And he’s doing that.”
Yanda, 35, made his eighth Pro Bowl and was second-team All-Pro behind Dallas’ Zack Martin. He has played 13 seasons.
“I’m all for him playing Hall of Fame football for another year if he so chooses,” Harbaugh said. “I did tell him that and let him know that. We had a good hug and stuff. But he’ll do what’s right for him and his family, and whatever he does, we’ll respect it. I just couldn’t say enough good things, great things, about Marshal Yanda and his family.”
The Chiefs want to wait another day before making a decision on defensive tackle Chris Jones, coach Andy Reid said earlier Friday.
Thus, it comes as no surprise they list Jones as questionable for the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.
Jones’ calf injury kept him out of the divisional-round victory over the Texans, though he did return to a limited practice Friday.
The Chiefs also list running back LeSean McCoy (illness) and backup quarterback Matt Moore (illness) as questionable. Both had limited work Friday.
Tight end Travis Kelce (knee) has no designation, though he had another limited practice Friday. Reid already declared that Kelce will play.
Kelce was limited all three practices last week before catching 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns against Houston.
The Titans aren’t in perfect health, but it’s mid-January, so they’re probably as close as you can get.
They listed seven players as questionable on the final injury report, and all of them participated in a limited basis during Friday’s practice.
That group does not include cornerback Logan Ryan, who didn’t practice Wednesday because of an illness, but was a full participant each of the last two days, so he doesn’t have an injury designation
The other seven names on the report were all listed as limited Friday. That group includes linebacker Jayon Brown (shoulder), linebacker Rashaan Evans (foot), wide receiver Adam Humphries (ankle), cornerback Adoree Jackson (foot), linebacker David Long (knee), wide receiver Cody Hollister (ankle), and right tackle Jack Conklin (shoulder).
Clemson running back Travis Etienne announced he will not enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Instead, he will return to school for his senior season to play another year with Travis Lawrence.
“I’m not done dreaming here at Clemson either, which is why I’m announcing that I’ll be returning for my senior season,” Etienee wrote on social media. “I look forward to earning my degree from this great university and continuing to fight with my brothers on the team to make you proud during the 2020 season.”
Etienne already is Clemson’s all-time leading rusher with 4,038 yards, and he has 4,605 total yards and 62 total touchdowns.
He rushed for 1,658 and 24 touchdowns in 2018 and 1,614 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2019.
The Football Championship Subdivision has a player leaving a year of eligibility on the table to try his hand (or feet) at the NFL.
Monmouth running back Pete Guerriero has announced he will skip his fifth season of eligibility to enter the draft.
“After careful consideration, speaking with family and the people close to me, I have decided that I will be forgoing my fifth year and entering the NFL Draft,” Guerriero wrote. “This has been a dream of mine since I was a child and I look forward to what’s to come.”
Guerriero had a school-record 1,995 rushing yards that led the FCS. He also set an FCS playoff record with a 93-yard touchdown run in a loss to James Madison.
Guerriero finished third in voting for the 2019 Walter Payton Trophy, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman. He also was a consensus All-American and a two-time first-team all-conference honoree.
He finishes his college career with 610 attempts for 3,974 yards and 35 touchdowns. Guerriero also caught 69 passes for 551 yards and three touchdowns.
The Eagles were rebuffed by a couple of Ravens assistant coaches in their hunt to fill out Doug Pederson’s staff, but they’ve found one candidate interested in sitting down with them.
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Eagles are interviewing USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell for the same job on their staff. Mike Groh was fired shortly after the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Seahawks.
Harrell was hired by USC in January 2019 after Kliff Kingsbury took the Cardinals job, so he only spent one year running the Trojans offense. He was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Texas the last three seasons and worked for Mike Leach at Washington State before taking that job.
Leach also coached Harrell as a prolific quarterback at Texas Tech. Harrell holds NCAA records for pass completions in a season and most career games with at least 400 passing yards, but his NFL career fizzled out with four relief appearances for the Packers in 2012.
Anyone watching the college football title game between LSU and Clemson likely saw Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss cheering on his son after Thaddeus Moss caught two touchdown passes to help LSU win the championship.
The next time Moss takes in one of his son’s games, it will take place at a professional level. The younger Moss announced on Friday that he will be entering the 2020 NFL Draft.
Thaddeus Moss played tight end during his one season at LSU. He opened his college playing days at North Carolina State, missed 2017 after transferring and then missed the 2018 season with a foot injury. Moss caught 47 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns over the course of the year.
With Moss throwing his hat into the ring, nine LSU players have now opted to go pro rather than play out their remaining college eligibility.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones practiced for the first time this week on Friday, but the team isn’t ready to make a call about his status for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game just yet.
Jones has been dealing with a calf injury and he missed last Sunday’s victory over the Texans because of the issue. He was able to practice on a limited basis Friday after sitting out the first two days of the week.
After the session, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said that the team would wait to see how Jones is feeling Saturday before moving forward with a decision about the game.
Reid also said that tight end Travis Kelce will play. Kelce has been bothered by a knee problem that’s limited his practice work, but there was never much concern that he’d be at risk of sitting out this weekend.
New Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady joked that he still isn’t quite sure where his new office is, but he’s working on it.
Likewise, the 30-year-old play-caller said he’s going to continue to grind the way he has in lower-profle jobs.
“I might be the offensive coordinator right now but I still work like I’m a graduate assistant,” Brady said.
He’s not far removed from one, at his age, but he downplayed that in his introductory press conference.
“I’ve never thought about my age or talked about my age,” he said, ignoring the obvious fact it’s the main topic regarding his hiring. “I don’t believe your age determines how good a coach you are.”
Monday night, Brady was helping the most prolific offense in college football win a national title. Hours later, he was leading the charge out of LSU and heading to his new job on coach Matt Rhule’s staff.
He was able to use that quick turnaround to avoid questions about the personnel on hand, specifically about the future of quarterback Cam Newton. He was even limited to platitudes when asked about running back Christian McCaffrey, and that’s a safe topic.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill wasn’t supposed to be starting in the AFC Championship Game. A year ago, the Dolphins were done with him, and when the Titans traded for him, it was to be a backup.
But after Marcus Mariota was benched, Tannehill turned in the best statistics of his career and helped the Titans get a game away from the Super Bowl. Tannehill said today, however, that he doesn’t think he has changed as much as his statistics might suggest.
“Statistically, obviously, it’s better. But I don’t feel like I’ve changed a whole lot,” Tannehill said. “My approach to the game, and how I play the game, I don’t think it’s changed a whole lot.”
Tannehill’s stats are undeniably the best of his career, easily exceeding his past career highs in yards per pass, completion percentage and passer rating. But Tannehill seems to think he wasn’t far off from being ready to put up those kinds of numbers during his six seasons as the starter in Miami as well. Sometimes a player just needs to be in the right place.
The Eagles have made another change to their coaching staff.
Phillip Daniels was the team’s defensive line coach in 2019, but he posted a tweet Friday thanking the Eagles organization “for four great years” and said he was proud of what the team’s defensive line achieved over that span. Multiple media members have confirmed that was Daniels’ farewell message after parting ways with the team.
Daniels was promoted from assistant defensive line coach to the top position coach job before the 2019 season and oversaw a group that helped the Eagles finish 15th in the league in points against. Daniels played defensive end in the NFL from 1996-2010 and this was his first NFL coaching job.
The Eagles fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch after their season came to an end. Cornerbacks coach Cory Undlin left the team to become the Lions defensive coordinator.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh hoped he’d be holding a press conference about the AFC Championship Game on Friday, but his team lost to the Titans last week and that means he was holding an end-of-season press conference instead.
Impending free agents are always a topic at such gatherings and Harbaugh’s presser didn’t play out any differently. Linebacker Matt Judon is at the top of that list and Harbaugh said that he thinks it will be “very hard” to sign him, but “we’re going to try” to get a deal done.
The departures of Za'Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs put Judon into a more prominent role this season and he responded with 9.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and 33 quarterback hits. That’s likely to make him an appealing prospect for any team looking for a boost to their pass rush on the open market.
Harbaugh also said he wants to re-sign defensive lineman Michael Pierce, linebacker Patrick Onwuasor and cornerback Jimmy Smith while picking up cornerback Brandon Carr‘s option. Getting all of that done and addressing needs on the other side of the ball while also re-signing Judon may prove to be more than the Ravens can manage, but we’ll see how things play out in Baltimore.
The Chiefs have not yet given defensive lineman Chris Jones an injury designation for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, but there was a positive sign today.
Jones was on the practice field today, according to local media. That makes it the first time this week he’s been able to practice.
The 25-year-old Jones was selected to his first Pro Bowl this season and is a key cog in the Chiefs’ defense who led the team with nine sacks in the regular season.
After suffering a calf injury in practice, Jones missed the Chiefs’ playoff win over the Texans.