Bengals looking thin at tight end

Published: Wednesday, October 04, 2017 @ 5:37 PM

            ›CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Tyler Kroft #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a touch down catch and is taken down by Joe Schobert #53 of the Cleveland Browns in the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)
›CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Tyler Kroft #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a touch down catch and is taken down by Joe Schobert #53 of the Cleveland Browns in the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)

Four of the five options at tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals are on the team’s injury report Wednesday.

Tyler Eifert remains out with the back injury he suffered in Week 2 vs. Houston, while C.J. Uzomah and H-back Ryan Hewitt sat out with knee injuries sustained in Sunday’s 31-7 win at Cleveland. And Tyler Kroft, who set career highs in catches (six), yards (68) and touchdowns (two) was limited with due knee and neck injuries.

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That leaves undrafted rookie Cethan Carter as the only healthy tight end, although the fact that Kroft was at least limited means he should be available for Sunday’s home game against Buffalo.

In addition to Eifert, Hewitt and Uzomah, four other players missed practice Wednesday — wide receiver John Ross (knee), defensive tackle Andrew Billings (shin), linebacker Jordan Evans (hamstring) and safety Derron Smith (ankle).

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Ross, Uzomah and Evans were doing rehab on a side field.

Four others joined Kroft on the list of limited participants — cornerbacks Adam Jones (hip) and Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (knee) and quarterback AJ McCarron (Achilles).

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On the positive side of the injury front, guards Trey Hopkins (knee) and T.J. Johnson (neck) were both full participants. Hopkins has not played since suffering the knee injury in the season opener. Johnson, his replacement, suffered the neck injury Sunday against the Browns.

The Bills had three starters miss practice with injuries in wide receiver Jordan Matthews, safety Micah Hyde (knee) and linebacker Ramon Humber (thumb). Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and defensive tackle Kyle Williams received rest days, while tight end Charles Clay sat out with a “non-injury related” designation.

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Wide receiver Kaelin Clay (back), defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle), cornerback E.J. Gaines (groin), tackle Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), running back Taiwan Jones (knee) and defensive end Shaq Lawson (groin) were limited.

Seahawks All-Pros Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner publicly feuding

Published: Monday, December 18, 2017 @ 1:44 AM

Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner made it clear that all is not well in the Seattle Seahawks locker room on Sunday afternoon.

Following an embarrassing 42-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Thomas hinted that Wagner may have hurt the Seahawks by trying to play through a hamstring injury.

“To be totally honest, I think the guys that played, you’ve got to give your hats off to Wags and a couple guys that played, but my personal opinion, I don’t think they should have played,” ” Thomas explained (via ESPN). “I think the backups would have did just as good. But the injuries – Kam [Chancellor], [Richard Sherman] Sherm, K.J. [Wright] – they definitely hurt today.”

When specifically asked about Wagner being slowed down by his injury, Thomas didn’t hide his feelings.

“I have no clue,” Thomas said. “But you normally see Wags running from sideline to sideline, and he just couldn’t do it today. But I think he just waited a little bit too long to take himself out.”

Upon hearing Thomas’ comments Wagner fired back in a big way.

In a post on his Twitter account that has since been deleted, the three time All-Pro linebacker had this to say:

“E keep my name out yo mouth. Stop being jealous of other people success. I still hope you keep balling bro.”

To be totally fair, Thomas’ comments weren’t exactly disrespectful. But the way Wagner responded made it clear that the Seahawks may have a massive problem on their hands.

As of today, Seattle is on the outside looking in when it comes to the NFC Playoffs. And with the way they have been hit by the injury bug this year, it’s hard to envision a scenario where they make much noise in the postseason if they somehow find a way to get in.

Sadly, the Seahawks’ time as one of the premier teams in the NFC may be over.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott on paper fourth-down measurement: ‘He didn’t have to do all that’

Published: Monday, December 18, 2017 @ 12:24 AM

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott could have done without all of the drama surrounding his fourth-down conversion.

Late in the fourth quarter, on 4th and inches, the Cowboys called a quarterback sneak, and Prescott’s attempt had to be measured. However, even with the chains on the field the naked eye could not see if he had actually reached the first marker. That’s when referee Gene Steratore decided to use a folded piece of paper to see if Prescott got the first down.

The piece of paper did not fit between the ball and the first-down marker. While the result worked out in Prescott’s favor, he thought the whole production was unnecessary.

“He didn’t have to all that,” Prescott said to NBC Sports’ Michele Tafoya. “I got it and it wasn’t that close, but that was interesting him measuring it with the paper.”

In fairness to Steratore, Prescott probably believes he got the touchdown by such a wide margin that there was no need for a measurement.

Also to be fair, during that interview NBC showed a camera angle not shown during the broadcast. From that angle it looked like the ball was short of a first down.

Official solves unusual problem in Cowboys vs. Raiders with extremely low tech solution

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 11:49 PM

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott attempted to convert on 4th and inches, on a sneak play late in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders.

It wasn’t clear if he reached the first down so the referees requested the chains to be brought out to the field, to measure whether or  Prescott got the ball past the first down maker. However, the ball was so close to the marker, that the naked eye could not see if he indeed got the first down.

So the lead official got creative, pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and tried to stick it between the ball and the first-down marker. The piece of paper did not fit so the Cowboys were awarded a first down.

The Cowboys went on to kick a field goal to take a 20-17 lead.

A lot of questions can be asked about that. Were the markers held at a perfect 90-degree angle, and why was the paper folded? However, it is best just to marvel at one of the most unusual moments in the history of the NFL.

Also, either there is procedure in the NFL rule book for situations when the first down is too close to call from a measurement that no one knows about, or that official has excellent problem solving skills.

It took him a very short amount of time to decide to use the piece of paper, and it is a moment that will not be soon forgotten.

Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson practices, looks to be in ‘great shape’ for Peach Bowl

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 9:44 PM

AUBURN, Ala. — Kerryon Johnson tweeted this weekend that he will play in the Peach Bowl. On Sunday, his offensive coordinator agreed after seeing him take the field.

Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said Johnson, who struggled with shoulder and rib injuries in an SEC title game loss to Georgia, practiced Sunday.

“He was good today, so I think he’s going to be in great shape,” Lindsey said. “We don’t play for two more weeks, so I feel good about him.”

The Tigers returned to the practice field Friday, the day when Johnson replied to an Auburn fan’s tweet asking him if he would play against UCF in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day.

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After a day off Saturday, Auburn held the first of four straight practices on campus. The Tigers will take a few days off for Christmas, starting Thursday. They will begin practices in Atlanta next Thursday, Dec. 28.

Johnson, who led the SEC in rushing this season, had only 44 yards against Georgia in the SEC title game. Still, Johnson was named the  SEC Offensive Player of the Year last week by the league’s coaches and The Associated Press and  finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said last week that he wasn’t sure if Johnson would play, but he knew his determined junior running back would do whatever it took to have a chance to play against the Knights.

“I know he’ll want to play,” Malzahn said. “He’s a great competitor. All of our guys will want to play. Our guys play for each other. So we’ll see where that goes. I’ll have a better idea once we get out to practice and move around and everything that goes with that.”

Lindsey said Johnson’s presence at practice Sunday was a lift to the rest of the Tigers offense, which will be ready to start 2018 on a high note in the Peach Bowl.

“I think it’s just a comfort from a standpoint of the guy’s played a lot of snaps, he’s a very intelligent player, really picks up on things well,” Lindsey said. “And he’s definitely an emotional leader for us.”