Giants working out veteran safety Donte Whitner

By Nick Shook
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The Giants are thin at safety, and after using receivers at the position in practice, are turning to a veteran.

New York is working out hard-hitting, 31-year-old safety Donte Whitner, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source with knowledge of the situation. New York lost another defensive back this week when free safety Nat Berhe was placed in the concussion protocol, to go along with rookie Darian Thompson‘s (foot) uncertain, week-to-week status.

Cut by the Browns well after free agency’s busy period came and went, Whitner bid Cleveland farewell by alluding to their “moneyball” strategy and lamenting the timing of the move. Whitner visited the Carolina Panthers in late August, but lost out to fellow free agent defensive back Stevie Brown.

Maybe Whitner will get a chance to fulfill this lofty guarantee:


Bills place Sammy Watkins (foot) on injured reserve

By Nick Shook
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Sammy Watkins is going to get the rest and recovery time his foot needs.

The Buffalo Bills placed Watkins on injured reserve Friday, the team announced. The Bills also announced they filled Watkins’ roster spot by claiming wide receiver Justin Hunter.

Watkins’ move to IR puts him on the shelf for at least eight weeks, and brings a temporary end to the weekly question of “will Sammy Watkins play Sunday?” It’s been an inquiry since Watkins complained of discomfort in his foot — which was surgically repaired in the offseason — after the Bills‘ Week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Continue reading

Bold predictions: Joe Thomas scores TD in Browns win

By Around the NFL staff
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Week 4 of the NFL season is upon us, and that means it’s time for another round of bold predictions. As always, this week’s edition of fearless prognostications includes a macho helping of audaciousness and abandon as we head into Sunday and Monday’s contests. Warning: these predictions are not for the faint of heart.

Joe Flacco tosses three TDs; two go to Mike Wallace

This was initially going to be four touchdowns, typically the passing baseline for bold predictions. Then I recalled Baltimore’s last two games, checked the stats and had to adjust. The Ravens are 25th in the NFL in total offense (324.3 yards per game), 21st in passing (242 YPG) and have exceeded 20 points just once — in a clunky win over the Browns that wasn’t easy on the eyes. But there’s good news for the Ravens: Oakland is dead last in passing defense, allowing 340 yards per game. It’s somewhat of a skewed statistic after only three games, but it was over 400 yards after two weeks before Tennessee’s offense — a passing game handcuffed by coach Mike Mularkey’s exotic smashmouth emphasis, which has Marcus Mariota noticeably floundering — brought that total closer to earth. There can’t be a better matchup for Flacco, which leads an offense that includes wideout Mike Wallace, who has shown he still has the speed to go deep for six.

Plus, Flacco just welcomed his fourth child — and first daughter — to Earth this week! What’s better than a father with a new addition to his family taking the field with a deep threat against a defense that has shown a tendency to give up big chunks of yards through the air? Flacco caps his memorable week and brings Evelyn Renee Flacco into the football world with a big game and another win for Baltimore.

— Nick Shook

To read the full Week 4 bold predictions from the Around the NFL writers, click here.

Sports With Shook — The Struggle to Week 4

After three weeks, the Cleveland Browns remain winless. They’re on their third quarterback and a bevy of injuries elsewhere have left them depleted. But Nick Shook and Gabriel Kramer have found reasons to be excited. Sports (and Silver Linings) With Shook examines where the Browns are heading into Week 4. Plus, some hypothetical next men up under center for Cleveland.

Next Gen Stats: Vikings employ creative defense

By Nick Shook
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Minnesota is the miraculous darling of the league after three weeks. The Vikings lost their starting quarterback, traded first- and fourth-rounders for Sam Bradford, trotted out Shaun Hill in Week 1 and somehow, are 3-0.

Much of the credit is due to the Vikings‘ defense. The unit faced its toughest task of the young campaign: take down the reigning NFC champion Panthers by ending their 14-game home winning streak. They needed to look only two weeks earlier — to Denver’s 21-20 win over Carolina — to see how it could be done.

The Vikings just upped the ante by five more sacks.

So how did they do it? It wasn’t a tale of blinding speed that allowed the Vikings to get to Newton eight times, but was instead rooted in how much head coach Mike Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards trust their front four. The faith looks to be unshaken, as Minnesota went with a nickel package to defend the pass (four defensive linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs) on an astounding 54 of 72 defensive snaps (75 percent), according to Next Gen Stats. Continue reading

Trevor Siemian tosses Broncos to win, 3-0 start

By Nick Shook
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A big congratulations is due for six of the week’s 16 road teams (with Atlanta and New Orleans yet to play on Monday night), as they came away winners in Week 3. The Cleveland Browns should have been team No. 7, but then again, we could go on and on about things that should have happened (especially in Cleveland), couldn’t we?

We saw a first-year starter continue his development leading the reigning champions in a hostile den along the Ohio River, and a former quarterback do a little bit of everything in an attempt to will his team to a victory. Minnesota’s defense again powered the Vikings to a major win, and while we’d love to give honors to all 11-plus members of the unit, we decided to zero in on one man who’s had himself a good 13 months.

These are the best performers away from home in Week 3. Continue reading

Thomas Rawls could be out a month with leg fracture

By Nick Shook
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The Seahawks are going to continue leaning on Christine Michael for at least a few weeks.

Incumbent starting running back Thomas Rawls has a hairline fracture in his fibula, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the tailback’s injury. Rawls has already missed a week and could be out for a month, Rapoport added. Continue reading

Rams escape with win after hour delay in Tampa Bay

By Nick Shook
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The Rams (2-1) staved off multiple comeback attempts on the part of the Buccaneers (1-2), escaping Tampa Bay with a 37-32 victory that included an hour-long weather delay at the two minute warning in the fourth quarter. Here’s what we learned:

1. It was a knock-down, drag-out contest you’d typically see between two league heavyweights, but instead it was two middling squads with uncertain paths. Which Buccaneers team would we get this week: the 31-21 winners in Week 1, or the squad decimated by turnovers and a swarming Cardinals defense in Week 2? Well, it was neither, sort of. Both teams made mistakes that each seemed to follow with another. They held serve on positive plays and errors, making for an entertaining contest.

2. The game’s highlights opened with each team giving the other a gift: the RamsCase Keenum tossed one directly to Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander, who had nothing but green in front of him for a pick-six; then Charles Sims dropped a pass (thanks to a hit from Trumaine Johnson) that landed in Los Angeles arms, setting the Rams up with great field position that ended in a Todd Gurley touchdown. It was very much call and response of both teams. Anything you can lose, we can lose better. Continue reading

Bold predictions: Eddie Lacy goes big against Lions

By Around the NFL staff
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Week 3 of the NFL season is upon us, and that means it’s time for another round of bold predictions. As always, this week’s edition of fearless prognostications includes a macho helping of audaciousness and abandon as we head into Sunday and Monday’s contests. Warning: these predictions are not for the faint of heart.

Tajae Sharpe pulls a Corey Coleman — 150-plus yards, two touchdowns


A look at the Titans‘ preseason film made it simple to see: Tajae Sharpe will be a big part of Tennessee’s offense. The rookie wideout from UMass lived up to that expectation in Week 1, catching seven of his 11 targets for 76 yards and drawing praise from a surefire Hall of Famer in teammateAndre Johnson. Sharpe’s performance in Week 2 wasn’t as scintillating, but no matter when it comes to Week 3 when the Titans face the Oakland Raiders, who just allowed Matt Ryan to complete 26 of 34 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns. — Nick Shook

To read the full Week 3 bold predictions from the Around the NFL writers, click here.

Gronkowski, Garoppolo limited in Patriots practice

By Nick Shook
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With Tom Brady exiled from Gillette Stadium for another two weeks and Jimmy Garoppolo recovering from a right shoulder injury, all eyes are on rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Oh, and tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has yet to play a game in 2016 due to a hamstring injury. He, Garoppolo and linebacker Dont’a Hightower were limited participants in Patriots practice Tuesday in Foxboro.

It’s encouraging for Gronkowski, of course, but is even more significant for the Patriots‘ depth chart situation at quarterback. With the Patriots now down to their third and final signal-caller in Brissett, it was expected they’d have to add a veteran arm. But after Garoppolo’s appearance in practice on a limited basis, the door is open for him to possibly dress as a backup for Brissett and eliminate the need to bring in another quarterback, which would help the Pats avoid cutting a player elsewhere to open a roster spot. Continue reading