Wed Sep 23 2:45pm ET
By MARK LONG
AP Pro Football Writer
Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver (91) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14)during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
In this Sept. 20, 2020, file photo, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) walks in the bench area during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn. Quarterback facial hair is sure to be front and center when the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) host the Miami Dolphins (0-2) on Thursday night, Sept. 24, 2020. Miamis Ryan Fitzpatrick has a bushy beard that covers much of his face and engulfs his chin strap; Jacksonvilles Gardner Minshew has a unkept horseshoe mustache that seems to go perfectly with his flowing locks. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen, File)
In this Dec. 29, 2019, file photo, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick speaks to the media following an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. Quarterback facial hair is sure to be front and center when the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) host the Miami Dolphins (0-2) on Thursday night, Sept. 24, 2020. Miamis Ryan Fitzpatrick has a bushy beard that covers much of his face and engulfs his chin strap; Jacksonvilles Gardner Minshew has a unkept horseshoe mustache that seems to go perfectly with his flowing locks. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) passes as he is pressured by Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (54) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) It's the Beard versus the 'Stache in prime time. Fitzmagic on one sideline, Minshew Mania on the other.
Maybe the loser should have to shave.
Quarterback facial hair is sure to be front and center when the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) host the Miami Dolphins (0-2) on Thursday night.
Miami's Ryan Fitzpatrick has a bushy beard that covers much of his face and engulfs his chin strap; Jacksonville's Gardner Minshew has a unkept horseshoe mustache that seems to go perfectly with his flowing locks.
''I think the beard is a cooler look,'' Fitzpatrick said Tuesday. ''I think guys that grow mustaches a lot of times have patchy sides for their beards, so they just stick with the mustache.''
The 24-year-old Minshew politely fired back at Fitzpatrick, 37.
''I'll let mine speak for itself,'' Minshew said. ''I think I've shown I can grow a beard with no patchy sides. But you know, I'm going to have respect for my elders, especially when they're much, much elder. I'll be respectful.''
One of Minshew's teammates, defensive end Josh Allen, might have a tougher time choosing between the two looks.
''We were in a little team meeting and somebody just brought up the beard and I was like, `Bruh does have a really good beard because his chinstrap is so small, and the beard is just everywhere.' It's kind of cool,'' Allen said before quickly adding that he'll ''rock with G-Money.''
Allen is more of a fan of Fitzpatrick's beard than the quarterback's wife.
''She hates when it's long like this,'' Fitzpatrick admitted. ''She hates when it's long because, for some reason, she thinks I'm handsome. But when it's long, I'm not handsome.''
Both QBs looked just fine in close losses last week. Minshew threw three TD passes for the third consecutive game, but he had two somewhat-fluky interceptions in a 33-30 loss at Tennessee.
Fitzpatrick threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-28 loss to Buffalo. He put the Dolphins ahead in the fourth quarter before Josh Allen rallied the Bills against Miami's struggling defense.
Fitzpatrick has won his past four starts against Jacksonville - each one with a different team. He beat the Jags with the New York Jets in 2015, with Houston in 2014, with Tennessee in 2013 and with Buffalo in 2012.
He's a part of one of the youngest teams in the NFL this year and will be facing another one filled with first- and second-year players, led by Minshew.
''I haven't seen him play a ton, but the few times I have, I like watching him,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I enjoy his playing style. It looks like he's out there having fun. It's not easy to play quarterback in this league. It's not easy to play as a young quarterback. He's already had a lot of success.
''He's had a great start to the season. He's a guy that I don't think I've played against him, so I'm excited to watch him play and see how he does.''
After Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins in rushing last year, the team acquired veteran running backs Matt Breida and Jordan Howard to improve the ground game. Through two weeks they've combined for only 70 yards rushing on 25 carries, an average of 2.8 per carry.
Myles Gaskin, a seventh-round pick in 2019, leads Miami with 86 yards rushing.
''There is only one football,'' offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said. ''Nobody ever gets it enough. When you have good running backs, everybody cannot touch it as much as they would like.''
The Jaguars don't blitz much, but they might need to start if they can't create more quarterback pressure. They have two sacks in two games - only Carolina and Las Vegas have fewer.
''We all have to take that pride in just getting to the quarterback more, especially I do,'' said Allen, who had 10 1/2 sacks and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last year. ''So I've just been grinding as much as I can and I've been thinking about all the missed rushes that I could've had. Just learn from that and just move forward.''
The Dolphins' secondary is sure to get tested by Minshew after allowing 413 yards passing last week against the Bills. Josh Allen's receivers were often wide open, and Miami's cornerbacks were repeatedly exposed on crossing routes in man coverage.
After Byron Jones was sidelined in the first quarter by a groin injury, former Pro Bowler Xavien Howard and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene both struggled. The solution?
''My message to the guys is the guys we put you on, those are the guys we expect you to cover,'' Flores said.
Five Hot Plays: Week 7
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee) popped up on the injury report Thursday after missing practice due to a knee ailment. Brown has already missed two games this season due to knee issues, so his latest injury development may not be insignificant. Since returning, Brown has hauled in 12 receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns, making him a high-end WR2 in season-long formats moving forward. With Corey Davis and Adam Humphries both back in the mix, an absence from Brown would pave the way for the aforementioned duo to see increased roles Sunday against a stout Pittsburgh secondary. Check back throughout the week for updates on Brown's status as they become available.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. (thigh) and tight end Tyler Higbee (hand) were both absent from Thursday's practice, throwing their status for Monday's game against Chicago into flux. This is the first of an injury concern for either, which could mean that the move was a precautionary one by the Rams with an extra day allocated for playing on Monday Night Football. Henderson appears to have wrestled full-time RB1 duties away from Malcolm Brown, thereby becoming a high-end RB2 in most season-long formats. Higbee has established a safe floor, making at least two receptions in each of his first six games, but he has logged more than three catches just once. The duo will have two additional days of potential practice to get in, so it's worth keeping an eye on their status until there's further clarification.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (ankle) did not practice Thursday, marking yet another day that he was unable to return in any capacity ahead of Sunday's game versus Houston. Tonyan returned to play last Sunday against the Buccaneers and hauled in three receptions for 25 yards, but he has backtracked that progress by notching two consecutive DNPs. Having amassed five touchdowns over his first three games (including three in one contest), Tonyan has massive upside when given the green light to suit up, which would be the case if he can work through his ankle injury to play Sunday. Check back for an update to his status prior to Sunday.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins (ankle/concussion) was held out of practice Thursday, a trend that indicates that he could miss his third consecutive game Sunday when his squad faces Green Bay. An absence by Akins would keep Darren Fells in season-long consideration as a low-end TE1 or in DFS contests as a high-upside selection, even as the Packers have yielded just one touchdown to opposing TEs this year. Having hauled in 14 of the 15 balls that he has been targeted on this season for 168 receiving yards, Akins has trended toward becoming a consistent fantasy commodity when not stunted by injury. Check back over the coming days to see if he can make a drastic pivot in fortunes and take the field.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) once again did not practice Thursday, putting his status for Sunday's contest against Denver up in the air. Watkins was considered questionable to play Monday due to a hamstring injury, with Kansas City at least leaving the door open that he could have played; his extended practice absence may be a means of keeping him fresh for game action Sunday, but that remains unclear. Averaging a career-low 10.6 yards per reception through five games this season, Watkins would be a roll of the dice fantasy selection for season-long or DFS lineups Sunday even if he's able to recover in time. Check back throughout the week to monitor his status, as an absence from Watkins could pave the way for Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman to see increased roles.
The Buffalo Bills Defense gets the fortune of playing what is on track to be a decimated Jets offense Sunday. Joe Flacco is likely to start under center again for Sam Darnold (shoulder), while Jamison Crowder (groin) was held out of practice Thursday. But on their side of the ball, Josh Norman (hamstring) and Tre'Davious White (back) were both limited practice participants, joining Matt Milano (pectoral) as question marks to suit up Sunday. In season-long formats, the Bills defense is a definite must-roster, irrespective of the final status on White and Norman; but in DFS, absences from either or both could make the unit a slippery slope when considering it's sky-high price tag. Check back throughout the week for updates on the corner situation specifically.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant (ankle) was able to practice in full Thursday, a significant step in the right direction concerning his availability for Sunday's contest against the Chiefs. Fant has missed each of Denver's two prior contests, with his return to practice on a full-time basis marking the first time in three weeks that he has had no restrictions. With Drew Lock also recovered from injury and back under center, Fant has some legitimate TE1 appeal in season-long formats, in addition to drawing some DFS upside due to the rapport that the two established last season. Having hauled in five receptions in three of his four games this season, Fant presents a solid floor in any-sized format.
The New York Giants have declared S Adrian Colbert, DT R.J. McIntosh, TE Eric Tomlinson, LB Jabaal Sheard, WR C.J. Board, CB Darnay Holmes and OT Jackson Barton inactive for Week 7.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is a name that multiple NFL teams have reportedly asked after ahead of the Trade Deadline on Nov. 3, according to Albert Breer of the MMQB. Minnesota has already moved defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore, an indication that the organization could be open for making other shrewd moves that look beyond 2020. Rudolph's role in the passing game has diminished from where it's been over the past decade, having compiled just 14 targets (10 receptions) over his first six games this year. With essentially little season-long value currently attached, Rudolph could benefit from a change of scenery in an offense that would be hoping to highlight his red zone abilities. Keep an ear out around his name as the Deadline approaches.
For the second consecutive day Thursday, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. (ankle) and Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) were both limited practice participants. Neither appears in any immediate danger of missing Sunday's contest against the Chargers, but their status is something to keep an eye on, even as Chark compiled a season-high 14 targets last Sunday. The duo makes up much of the fantasy intrigue at WR for the Jaguars, so an absence by either would thereby enhance the other's upside. Should Chark ultimately be cleared, he'd be a must-start in the vast majority of season-long formats, while Shenault continues to make a case for being rostered in medium-sized and smaller leagues. Check back over the coming days to see if their practice status progresses.
Atlanta Falcons WR Russell Gage Jr. (shoulder) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Gage posted 65 yards in the last game but has been targeted only 15 times over the last four games. Fantasy players probably can find better options to use, but Gage has a chance to be a flex option in deeper leagues.
Los Angeles Chargers WR K.J. Hill (hip), OT Storm Norton (knee) and OG Trai Turner (groin) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 22. WR Keenan Allen (back), OT Bryan Bulaga (back), RB Justin Jackson (knee) and DT Linval Joseph (elbow) were limited. QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs) and OT Sam Tevi (thumb, ankle) practiced in full.
New England Patriots RB James White (non-injury) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 22. DL Adam Butler (shoulder), DB Kyle Dugger (ankle), WR Julian Edelman (knee), OL Shaq Mason (calf) and DE Derek Rivers (back) were limited. OL Jermaine Eluemunor (ankle) was not given a practice designation.
Carolina Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (knee) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Samuel was not able to play in the Week 6 game but appears to have a chance to play this week. He has not been a big part of the offense so far this season and can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
Carolina Panthers RB Mike Davis (ankle) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Davis has posted outstanding numbers since taking over for Christian McCaffrey and will continue to receive plenty of touches as long as McCaffrey is sidelined. He is a must-start option all leagues.
The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Jack Driscoll, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Quez Watkins, S K'Von Wallace, DL Malik Jackson, RB Miles Sanders and QB Nate Sudfeld inactive for Week 7.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was deemed out of Thursday's practice as he continues to work his way through a groin ailment. The only steady offensive producer that the Jets have deployed this season, Crowder has seen double-digit targets in each of the four games that he has suited up for. His fantasy stock has taken a dip across the board with Joe Flacco filling in for Sam Darnold (shoulder), but Flacco's stock would shift to essentially zilch should Crowder ultimately be held out Sunday against a stout Bills Defense. Crowder compiled seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown when he faced Buffalo back in Week 1, but the combination of injury and new signal caller may make some fantasy managers reluctant to utilize him with the same vigor.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (elbow) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Ridley has cooled off a bit recently but still has four 100-yard games so far this season. He will be a big part of the passing game this week and should be at least a No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars OG A.J. Cann (shoulder), TE Tyler Eifert (neck), DE Adam Gotsis (non-injury), LB Myles Jack (ankle), TE James O'Shaughnessy (non-injury) and S Jarrod Wilson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 22. LB Dakota Allen (foot), DE Joshua Allen (knee), OT Ben Bartch (foot, knee), WR DJ Chark Jr. (ankle), DT Abry Jones (ankle), PK Josh Lambo (hip), OG Andrew Norwell (ankle) and WR Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) were limited. RB Devine Ozigbo (hamstring) and OG Brandon Linder (non-injury) practiced in full.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (hernia) and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) have both been designated to come off of injured reserve as soon as this Sunday versus Washington. Lee has yet to suit up for the Cowboys Defense in 2020, having been sidelined due to a sports hernia. Awuzie played in two games (collecting an interception) before hitting the IR, with the eventual return of both coming as a boon for a defense that has struggled mightily this season. Even with a favorable matchup against Washington on Sunday, Dallas' talented defensive unit will have some work to do before it plays its way back into season-long consideration in most formats.