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.

Buccaneers activate Vita Vea, waive Earl Watford

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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.

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.

Bruce Arians: No determination on Vita Vea’s status for Sunday

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears
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Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea has been designated to return from injured reserve, but a decision about playing this weekend remains up in the air.

Vea has practiced every day this week and head coach Bruce Arians reiterated on Friday that he has looked good in his return from a broken leg. He didn’t say whether he will show off how far he’s come against the Packers.

“He’s looked real good. He’s been running around for almost three weeks and had a real good practice yesterday and a good one today. So we haven’t made that determination yet but we’ll see if we want to activate him or not but there is a chance,” Arians said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Buccaneers will have to activate Vea on Saturday afternoon if he is going to play on Sunday.

Report: Jaguars hiring Brian Schneider as special teams coordinator

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Head coach Urban Meyer continues to fill out his first NFL staff in Jacksonville.

According to a report from Tom Pelissero of NFL media, Brian Schneider is expected to become the Jaguars special teams coordinator.

Schneider had been with the Seahawks since Pete Carroll took over as head coach in 2010. Schneider stepped away from the team in September for personal reasons, and assistant coach Larry Izzo filled the role. Schneider returned to the club later in the season, but Izzo continued as Seattle’s coordinator, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN.

Schneider rounds out the Jaguars coordinator positions. Meyer reportedly will hire another former Seahawks coordinator, Darrell Bevell, for OC. Former Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen will serve as the defensive coordinator.

Antonio Brown will not play on Sunday

Wild Card Round - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Washington Football Team
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Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown will not play in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers.

Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said today that Brown’s knee injury will keep him from playing at Green Bay.

Arians said yesterday that Brown would be a game-time decision, but apparently Brown isn’t making the kind of progress that would allow him to be ready to go by Sunday.

Despite the absence of Brown, Tom Brady will have a wealth of weapons on Sunday, with receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller and Tyler Johnson, running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.