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Patrick Mahomes: Tyreek Hill was “exhausted” after return from COVID-19


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 8:28 PM UTC
By Charean Williams · Original Article
NFL: DEC 26 Steelers at Chiefs
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Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill went on the COVID-19 reserve list Dec. 21 after testing positive for the virus. He cleared protocols four days later and played Sunday against the Steelers.

He played only 29 of 69 offensive snaps and made two catches for 19 yards.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said Wednesday, via James Palmer of NFL Media, that Hill was “exhausted out there.”

The Chiefs had all their players who were on the COVID-19 reserve list activated ahead of Wednesday’s practice, coach Andy Reid said.

Travis Kelce, Nick Bolton, Lucas Niang, Rashad Fenton, Armani Watts, Kyle Long, Tommy Townsend and Harrison Butker practiced.

“They were all out there today,” Reid said.

Chargers activate Joey Bosa off COVID-19 list


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 8:20 PM UTC
By Myles Simmons · Original Article
NFL: DEC 05 Chargers at Bengals
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After a bad loss to the Texans in Week 16, the Chargers are getting some key players off the COVID-19 list this week. But they still are making some additions to COVID reserve, too.

Edge rusher Joey Bosa, center Corey Linsley, receiver Jalen Guyton, cornerback Kemon Hall, and defensive back Trey Marshall are all coming off the COVID-19 list.

But linebacker Kenneth Murray and offensive tackle Storm Norton are being placed on the list.

Bosa’s return will be a boost to Los Angeles’ defense, which allowed 189 yards rushing last week — including a career-high 149 to running back Rex Burkhead. Bosa has 9.5 sacks and a league-leading six forces fumbles in 2021.

The Chargers still have 11 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including receiver Mike Williams.

Los Angeles will host Denver for the penultimate game of the regular season on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers: Playing next year will definitely be part of my thought process


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 8:17 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers
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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ plans for the future were a major storyline during the offseason leading into the 2021 season and his return to the team has gone well on the field, but it hasn’t led to any decisions about what he’ll do in 2022.

Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday that he has not made any decisions about his next steps and that he hasn’t ruled out retiring from the NFL once the year is up. He said he didn’t want to go out like a “bum” and his play this season has made it clear that he wouldn’t be doing that.

“I’m just enjoying this season for this season, and playing next year will definitely be in the thought process,” Rodgers said, via Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Rodgers said that he will speak to people close to him and people in the Packers organization after the season about his plan. That could include General Manager Brian Gutekunst as Rodgers said the relationship between the two men has grown since he expressed some dissatisfaction during the offseason with decisions that the team’s made in recent years.

Whatever choice he makes, Rodgers said it will be a “quick decision” rather than a prolonged process and that call will be closely watched in Green Bay and every other corner of the league.

Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t need surgery, has a chance play this week


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 8:04 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
San Francisco 49ers v Tennessee Titans
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49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a right thumb injury that head coach Kyle Shanahan called a sprain earlier this week and he revisited that description when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

A report after Shanahan spoke this week indicated that Garoppolo tore a ligament and chipped a bone. Shanahan said Wednesday that he was told Garoppolo suffered a Grade III sprain of a ligament and that the ligament pulled off a “fleck” of bone when it was injured.

Shanahan said that the chipped bone isn’t as significant as the sprain and that Garoppolo doesn’t need surgery to repair the injury. He also said that the quarterback has a chance to play this week and that he could take part in practice on Wednesday.

“The trainer’s taking him out right now to see what he can do, and could be limited today and if not we’ll try again tomorrow,” Shanahan said, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.

Trey Lance will start against the Texans in Week 17 if Garoppolo can’t play. The 49ers can clinch a playoff berth with a win and help from others. If they don’t, they’ll try again in Week 18 against the Rams.

Ezekiel Elliott “very encouraged” that knee will be close to 100 percent for the playoffs


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 7:51 PM UTC
By Michael David Smith · Original Article
Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys
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Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has dealt with a knee injury for much of this season, but he expects to be in good shape when the playoffs arrive.

Elliott said today that he thinks he’ll be at or near 100 percent healthy in the postseason.

I’m very encouraged by the direction it’s going. I feel more explosive. I can tell I feel faster. I can tell there’s more stability,” Elliott said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “If I keep progressing, by playoffs, I think I’ll be close to 100.”

Elliott hasn’t gained more than 70 rushing yards in a game since October 10, but the Cowboys will hope that in the playoffs, they have a fully healthy Elliott as a major part of their offense.

NFL playoff clinching scenarios for Week 17


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 7:45 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals
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Related: AFC playoff picture | NFC playoff picture

The NFL released the following playoff clinching scenarios for Week 17 of the 2021 season:

AFC

CLINCHED:

Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West division title

BUFFALO BILLS (9-6) (vs. Atlanta (7-8), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Buffalo clinches playoff berth with:

BUF win + BAL loss or tie OR
BUF win + LAC loss or tie + LV loss or tie OR
BUF tie + MIA loss or tie + LAC loss + LV loss OR
BUF tie + MIA loss or tie + LAC loss or tie + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie OR
BUF tie + MIA loss or tie + LV loss or tie + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie OR
BUF tie + NE loss or tie + LAC Loss + LV loss OR
BUF tie + NE loss or tie + LAC loss or tie + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie OR
BUF tie + NE loss or tie + LV loss or tie + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie OR
BUF tie + LAC loss + LV loss + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie


CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-6) (vs. Kansas City (11-4), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

Cincinnati clinches AFC North division title with:

CIN win OR
CIN tie + BAL loss or tie OR
BAL loss + CLE-PIT tie

Cincinnati clinches playoff berth with:

CIN tie + LAC loss + LV loss + MIA loss or tie OR
CIN tie + LAC loss + LV loss + NE loss OR
CIN tie + LAC loss + LV tie + MIA loss or tie + NE win OR
CIN tie + LAC loss + LV tie + NE tie + MIA tie + BUF win or tie OR
CIN tie + LAC loss + LV tie + NE loss + MIA win + BUF win or tie

NOTE: There are other clinching scenarios for Cincinnati that involve multiple tie games.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (9-6) (vs. Las Vegas (8-7), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Indianapolis clinches playoff berth with:

IND win OR
IND tie + BAL loss + NE loss or tie OR
IND tie + BAL loss + MIA loss or tie


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-4) (at Cincinnati (9-6), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

Kansas City clinches AFC’s No. 1 seed, only first-round bye and homefield advantage with:

KC win + TEN loss or tie OR
KC tie + TEN loss


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-6) (vs. Jacksonville (2-13), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

New England clinches playoff berth with:

NE win + MIA loss or tie OR
NE win + LV loss or tie OR
NE tie + MIA loss + LV loss + LAC loss or tie OR
NE tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie OR
NE tie + LV loss + LAC loss + BAL loss + PIT loss or tie OR
NE tie + LV loss + LAC loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + MIA win + BUF win

NOTE: There are other clinching scenarios for New England that involve multiple tie games.


TENNESSEE TITANS (10-5) (vs. Miami (8-7), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)

Tennessee clinches AFC South division title with:

TEN win OR
IND loss OR
TEN tie + IND tie

Tennessee clinches playoff berth with:

TEN tie OR
LAC loss or tie + BAL loss or tie OR
LAC loss or tie + NE loss or tie OR
BAL loss or tie + NE loss or tie


NFC

CLINCHED:

Dallas Cowboys – NFC East division title
Green Bay Packers – NFC North division title
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – NFC South division title
Arizona Cardinals – playoff berth
Los Angeles Rams – playoff berth

GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-3) (vs. Minnesota (7-8), Sunday night, 8:20 PM ET, NBC)

Green Bay clinches NFC’s No. 1 seed, only first-round bye and homefield advantage with:

GB win + DAL loss or tie OR
GB tie + DAL loss + LAR loss + TB loss or tie OR
GB tie + DAL loss + LAR tie + TB loss


LOS ANGELES RAMS (11-4) (at Baltimore (8-7), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Los Angeles Rams clinch NFC West division title with:

LAR win + ARI loss or tie OR
LAR tie + ARI loss


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-7) (at Washington (6-9), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

Philadelphia clinches playoff berth with:

PHI win + MIN loss or tie + NO loss or tie OR
PHI win + MIN loss or tie + SF win or tie OR
PHI tie + MIN loss + NO loss + ATL loss or tie OR
PHI tie + MIN loss + NO tie + ATL loss or tie + SF win or tie


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (8-7) (vs. Houston (4-11), Sunday, 4:05 PM ET, CBS)

San Francisco clinches playoff berth with:

SF win + NO loss or tie OR
SF tie + MIN loss or tie + NO loss + ATL loss or tie

Sam Darnold will start for the Panthers this week


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 7:31 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
NFL: DEC 26 Buccaneers at Panthers
Getty Images

The Panthers opened the season with Sam Darnold as their starting quarterback and they’ll turn back to him for their Week 17 game against the Saints.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule announced on Wednesday that Darnold will return to the starting lineup. Darnold last started against the Patriots in Week Nine and went on injured reserve after hurting his shoulder in that game.

Darnold’s injury led the Panthers to bring Cam Newton back to the organization and he helped them move to 5-5 by coming off the bench to run for one touchdown and throw for another in a win over the Cardinals. Newton moved into the starting lineup the next week, but couldn’t keep the wins coming and the Panthers are riding a five-game losing streak into Week 17.

Darnold, whose $18 million contract for next season is fully guaranteed, returned last Sunday and split time with Newton. He went 15-of-32 for 190 yards and was sacked four times in a 32-6 loss to the Buccaneers.

Chiefs activate Travis Kelce off COVID-19 list


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 7:24 PM UTC
By Myles Simmons · Original Article
NFL: DEC 12 Raiders at Chiefs
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The Chiefs have several key pieces back to start their practice week, including tight end Travis Kelce.

Head coach Andy Reid told reporters after Wednesday’s practice that Kelce was among the players who have been cleared to return off the COVID-19 list. Reid noted that everyone on the roster had cleared the COVID-19 protocols, which means kicker Harrison Butker, linebacker Nick Bolton, and cornerback Rashad Fenton are also back.

Kelce missed Sunday’s win over the Steelers that clinched the AFC West for the sixth consecutive season. Butker’s absence was probably felt more than Kelce’s, however, as kicker Elliott Fry missed a field goal and an extra point in the 36-10 victory.

Fry has since been waived.

The Chiefs have locked up a home playoff game but they still have the AFC’s No. 1 seed to play for. They will take on the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday.

Frank Reich spoke to Philip Rivers about “our situation,” but nothing to report


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 7:21 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts
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Philip Rivers got a call from the Saints when they lost quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian to the COVID-19 reserve list ahead of their Week 16 loss to the Dolphins and they aren’t the only team he’s been in touch with recently.

Colts head coach Frank Reich said he spoke to Rivers, who played for the Colts last season, after Carson Wentz‘s positive COVID-19 test this week. Reich didn’t delve into the details of the conversation, but he did make it clear that no one should be looking for Rivers to be back on the field.

“Yes, I have talked to Philip. You guys know that. I’m close to him,” Reich said, via Nate Atkins of the Indianapolis Star. “We’ve talked all year long. I’ve kind of followed his coaching career, talking about his high school team that he coached. I did talk to him fairly recently and he was on a Christmas vacation with his family. I have talked to him about our situation here, but there’s nothing further to report.”

The NFL’s Tuesday decision to cut the quarantine time for asymptomatic players who have tested positive from 10 days to five days regardless of vaccination status changed the outlook for Wentz’s availability for Week 17 and it likely changed any thoughts of cajoling Rivers out of retirement as well. Sam Ehlinger will work with the first team in practice and will start if Wentz isn’t able to get cleared in time to face the Raiders on Sunday.

Kyler Murray: Nothing crazy has to be done, everyone has to be a little bit better


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 29, 2021 - 7:02 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
NFL: DEC 25 Colts at Cardinals
Getty Images

The Cardinals clinched a playoff spot in Week 16, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t make that the focal point of his reaction to his team’s current state of affairs.

Kingsbury was more focused on the fact that his team has lost five of their last eight games after opening the season with a little 7-0 record. Kingsbury said “we’ve got to improve a lot and play better football and stop hurting ourselves in these games before we even think about taking the next step,” but quarterback Kyler Murray expressed a slightly different viewpoint on Wednesday.

Murray said that he doesn’t think the Cardinals are “far off” from where they want to be as they move from the regular season to the postseason.

“People are making dramatic statements about the team. There’s nothing crazy that needs to be done. Everybody needs to do their job, everybody has to be a little bit better,” Murray said, via Darren Urban of the team’s website.

The adjustments may not be anything crazy, but it doesn’t feel overly dramatic to say that they are necessary after three straight losses have knocked them out of first place in the NFC West. Even if they can’t hop back over the Rams, signs that they’ve corrected their direction over the next two weeks would be a welcome sign that the Cardinals can make more than a cameo appearance in the postseason.


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