Titans tight end Jonnu Smith wasn’t supposed to be back on the field yet. Crediting “hard work and dedication,” Smith returned Monday.
He took a knee and prayed after finishing his first practice since his season-ending knee injury Dec. 6.
“It was like the first day of Pop Warner, like I was 5 years old again,” Smith said, via Jim Wyatt of the team website. “Coming out here running, sweating — all those feelings came back. It reminds me how much I still love the game. I am going on 24 years old and to have the same feeling as I did when I was 4, 5 years old is kind of unbelievable.”
Smith, who caught 20 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns last season, wore a brace on his left knee. He plans to shed it soon.
“Jonnu is one of my favorite players on this team,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “I don’t have like ‘favorites,’ but he is one of my favorite players on this team. I just love him to death. I love the way he works, I love his attitude. So when he is ready to go in there we’ll see what he can handle and try and get him going.”
Lions defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson faces a prove-it season. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract, needing a big year either to re-sign with the Lions or to find a big deal waiting for him in free agency.
Robinson, a second-round choice in 2016, has played 45 of a possible 48 games in his career but doesn’t have any honors or big stats to show for it.
The former Alabama star, though, is unconcerned about his future. He might that quite clear Monday.
“I ain’t worried about none of that [stuff],” Robinson said, via Dave Birkett of the Free Press. “That [stuff] don’t matter to me right now. What matters is us trying to be the best team we can be so we can get to the playoffs and have a chance to win the Super Bowl.”
Robinson had his best season in 2018 when he made 49 tackles in 13 games before a knee injury ended his year. He is expected to play left end and defensive tackle this season, so he should get chances to earn a big payday come March.
“Going into my fourth year, I think it’s a blessing,” Robinson said. “Not many people have this opportunity so I just take it as that and God gave me this ability so I got to take it and utilize it for these guys out here.”
Bengals left tackle Cordy Glenn missed practice again on Monday and it sounds like he’s played his final preseason game of the year as well.
Head coach Zac Taylor said at his Monday press conference that Glenn reported concussion symptoms after the Bengals played Washington last Thursday and that he is currently in the concussion protocol. The Bengals will face the Giants on Thursday and it’s unlikely that Glenn will be playing in that game even if he is cleared in the next couple of days.
It’s been a rocky few months for the Bengals offensive line with first-round pick Jonah Williams going down for the year with a shoulder injury, guard Clint Boling and tackle Kent Perkins retiring and guard Christian Westerman leaving the team to ponder whether he will also retire.
That makes it all the more important that Glenn is able to play come the start of the regular season and that’s all the reason they need to go with a different tackle this week.
Robert Quinn fractured his hand. Randy Gregory remains suspended. DeMarcus Lawrence has yet to practice after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
At least one of those Cowboys defensive ends is close to returning to practice.
The Cowboys are expected to activate Lawrence from the physically unable to perform list soon, Mike Garafolo of the NFL reports.
That follows the timeline Lawrence and the Cowboys have given all along, expecting the Pro Bowler to play in the season opener against the Giants.
Lawrence delayed shoulder surgery until after receiving a long-term deal, and he signed a five-year, $105 million deal in April.
Lawrence, 27, had 14.5 sacks in 2017 and 10.5 last season. He said this offseason he hoped to break Michael Strahan’s single-season sacks record before Von Miller, who also has openly targeted Strahan’s 22.5 sacks in 2001.
Cam Newton tweaked his throwing motion this offseason and he’s talked about making other changes to the way he plays, but there hasn’t been a chance to see any of the alterations in a game yet this summer.
The plan is for that to change on Thursday in New England. Head coach Ron Rivera said on Monday that the team expects all of their starters, including Newton, to play against the Patriots.
Linebacker Luke Kuechly and running back Christian McCaffrey have also been held out of the first two preseason games and are expected back for a game that Rivera thinks will tell him some useful things about his team.
“They’ve been the gold standard for a long time,” Rivera said, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “You want to go out and see just how good you are. It is a good measuring stick as to who we can be as a football team.”
The Panthers wrap up the preseason against the Steelers on August 29, but Newton, Kuechly and company will almost certainly sit out that game and turn their attention toward facing the Rams in Week One.
The Bears announced the signing of running back Josh Caldwell on Monday.
The Chiefs cut Caldwell on Aug. 12, but Chiefs running backs coach Deland McCullough put in a good word for Caldwell.
“The guy can play,” McCullough said last week.
Caldwell had four carries for 59 yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs’ game against the Bengals. The Chiefs, though, needed a roster spot to add tight end Manasseh Garner.
The Bears had an opening after cutting kicker Elliott Fry on Sunday.
Caldwell went undrafted out of Northwest Missouri State after rushing for 830 yards on 139 attempts last season.
Chargers safety Derwin James had a screw inserted in his foot as a freshman at Florida State. Doctors determined the screw bent last week and needs to be removed, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
James’ surgery is set for Thursday in North Carolina, via Schefter, with noted foot surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson repairing James’ foot.
The All-Pro player will need three to four months to recover, and given that timetable, James might not get back this year. The Chargers can place him on injured reserve, leaving open the possibility for a short-term designation and a return late in the year.
Coach Anthony Lynn said last week he hoped James would return this season but conceded he didn’t know “for sure” when James would get back on the field.
James injured his foot in last Thursday’s practice.
Adrian Phillips will take over the strong safety spot during James’ absence.
Shortly after Titans running back Derrick Henry hurt his calf at the first practice of training camp, there were reports that he’d miss two weeks while recovering.
That proved to be an optimistic timetable for his return to action. The Titans held Henry out of practice for three weeks before giving him the green light to return.
Henry had been doing conditioning work on a side field in recent days and made the move to the main field for Monday’s workout. That leaves him with a couple of weeks to practice ahead of the start of the regular season and he could get some game action this Sunday against the Steelers if all goes well in the next few days.
Henry is heading into the final year of his rookie deal and building on his 97 carries for 625 yards and eight touchdowns from last December should set him up well for his next contract.
The Colts placed running back D'Onta Foreman on injured reserve with no explanation. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle has provided one: Foreman tore a biceps.
Foreman will need a four-month recovery.
It’s another bad break for Foreman, who tore his Achilles in a Nov. 19, 2017, game during his rookie season. The injury hampered him last season as he played only one game, rushing for minus-1 yard on seven carries.
The Texans cut him Aug. 4, and the Colts claimed him off waivers.
He played seven snaps in the Colts’ preseason game against the Browns on Saturday and had one carry for minus-1 yard while catching one pass for 6 yards.
Derrius Guice‘s wait to return to game action after last summer’s torn ACL may be close to ending.
Washington head coach Jay Gruden said on Monday that Guice is still awaiting clearance for full contact, but that he expected it to come soon.
“Just waiting for the green light,” Gruden said, via John Keim of ESPN.com.
It seems that green light may be just around the corner. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the “tentative plan” for this week includes Guice suiting up to play against Atlanta on Thursday night. If Guice does play, that’s expected to be his only game action before the start of the regular season but it’s not clear if failing to get the OK would open the door to playing in the preseason finale.
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens admits he has had conversations with General Manager John Dorsey about bringing in another kicker. But as of right now, the Browns are continuing the competition between Greg Joseph and rookie Austin Seibert.
As he made clear Sunday, though, Kitchens wants better results.
“We’re not trying to bring in a new kicker right now,’’ Kitchens said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We’ve got two guys right here that can kick the ball a long way. We need them to get their act right and get the job done.
“We’re not looking to replace them right now. We’re looking to get these guys better and continue to get better. And the process of evaluation and the process of judging them has not concluded yet. When it concludes, then we’ll make that decision.”
Dan Bailey could end up with a new team if the Vikings go with Kaare Vedvik, which is expected after they traded with Baltimore for the kicker/punter. Bailey played for Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer last year in Minnesota.
Seibert and Joseph both went 4-for-6 during the field-goal period Monday, according to Cabot. Joseph also made a 44-yard kick at the end of an offensive team period, and Seibert missed a 40-yarder at the end of another offensive period.
“Like I said, I want the ball to go through and not outside those yellow poles,” Kitchens said, repeating what he said a day earlier.
The Lions haven’t played quarterback Matthew Stafford in either of their first two preseason games and he had a stretch of nearly a week without throwing a pass during training camp, but he’s not worried about getting enough work in before the start of the regular season.
Stafford took part in joint practices with the Patriots before sitting out the first game and then worked against the Texans in practices before the second contest. He said that he got more out of those workouts than he gets out of games, which made suiting up to play unnecessary in both cases.
“Schematically, yes. I think most teams that are doing joint practices are probably doing a bit more in practice than they are in the game,” Stafford said, via the team’s website. “There’s a fine line kind of in the preseason that you want to make sure you’re practicing all your stuff, but you also don’t want to be just laying it all out there and letting everyone prepare for you. Those practices are a good opportunity to really compete against other guys and run some of your stuff. I just know the work we get in those practices is great. Really able to kind of push our limits schematically and see what’s working and what’s not.”
The Lions don’t have any joint practices ahead of Friday’s game against the Bills, but they haven’t made any announcement about whether Stafford will see his first game action of the summer.
The Colts made a change in the backfield, as they look for some experience there.
The team announced a series of transactions Monday, which included placing just-acquired running back D'Onta Foreman on injured reserve, and signing veteran running back Charcandrick West.
The Colts had just claimed Foreman off waivers from the Texans, who thought he needed a change of scenery.
West was in and out of Chiefs camp in 2018, cut last summer but re-signed in December. He topped out with 634 rushing yards in 2015, but had negative rushing yardage last season.
The team also signed safety Kai Nacua and running back Marquis Young, and created roster spots by putting wide receiver Daurice Fountain on IR and waiving safety Derrick Kindred.
The absence of starting quarterbacks has made the preseason increasingly irrelevant, but in the case of the Saints, the backup quarterback competition between Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill has made the preseason worth watching.
On Sunday, with Bridgewater battling an illness, Hill was the best player on the field. Playing the entire second half, Hill took over with the Saints trailing 17-3 and led them to a 19-17 victory.
“Taysom Hill took it over and they completely outplayed us in the fourth quarter,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said after the game. “… Taysom Hill, I take my hat off to him. He’s a heck of an athlete. He’s a heck of a quarterback. He just took that game over.”
Hill completed 11 of 15 passes for 136 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and also ran five times for 53 yards. He also made a tackle on special teams.
That ability to do everything makes Hill a big part of what the Saints will do in the regular season. Even if he doesn’t get on the field as a quarterback, he’ll run the ball, catch passes from Drew Brees and play special teams. And if Brees does go down, the Saints may decide they’re better off with Hill than with Bridgewater at quarterback.
Eagles tight end Richard Rodgers had just worked his way back from a foot injury, but wasn’t back long.
According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rodgers was just carted off the practice field, apparently distraught, with his head in his hands.
The 27-year-old Rodgers joined the Eagles last offseason, but opened the year on injured reserve with a knee injury. He came back to play in seven games.
The Eagles are solid at the position with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but a significant injury would test their depth.