Wed Nov 25 5:13pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer
Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown reacts while leaving the field with trainers after suffering an apparent injury during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry reacts after taking a hit while running with the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker (37) prepares to intercept a pass from Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, not visible, intended for wide receiver Devin Duvernay (13) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans are testing the NFL's cliche of next man up.
Three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan is out for the season with a torn ACL, and his replacement just went on injured reserve. The Titans also have a pair of three-time Pro Bowlers on injured reserve in punter Brett Kern and linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. Starting cornerback Adoree Jackson has yet to play this season.
Offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, Tennessee's first-round draft pick, finally dressed for a game last week but has yet to play a snap after two stints on the reserve/COVID-19 list since the start of training camp.
Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel talks about opportunity. The Titans (7-3) have plenty of those available with 10 players on injured reserve as they prepare for their second showdown with Indianapolis within three weeks on Sunday - with only the top of the AFC South on the line.
''Some guys, that's the definition of a pro,'' Vrabel said. ''They make the hard look easy. Everybody that's healthy and available that's practicing on the active roster or the practice squad knows their job is to be ready to play in a football game. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't. But that's their job.''
And now leading tackler Jayon Brown is the latest on injured reserve.
''You just hate to see it, especially someone like Jayon who comes in and works his tail off and does everything the right way,'' defensive lineman DaQuan Jones said Wednesday. ''At the same time, it's the next man mentality and whoever we put back there ... we're all confident they're going to get the job done.''
Veteran David Quessenberry replaced Ty Sambrailo last weekend when Lewan's replacement got hurt late in the Titans' 30-24 overtime win over Baltimore. He's expected to get the first shot at left tackle.
He might be starting next to Aaron Brewer, who got his first career start last week filling in for injured left guard Rodger Saffold. Center Ben Jones played despite not practicing all week with an injured knee. Quessenberry and Brewer had key blocks on D errick Henry's 29-yard TD run in overtime.
''I just had to go out there and do my job,'' Henry said.
Outside linebacker Derick Roberson and safety Amani Hooker also got the first starts of their career last week. Hooker came up with six tackles and his team-best third interception of the season.
The Titans used veteran Will Compton to replace Brown. Other options include David Long, who's been on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Daren Bates and Nick Dzubnar.
Tennessee is close to getting some players back thanks to the NFL allowing players to return after missing three games on injured reserve.
Jackson was activated to the three-week window to practice for a return on Nov. 11. The Titans also moved Kern to that return window Tuesday and are confident enough he'll be available Sunday that they waived punters Trevor Daniel and Ryan Allen, who was on the practice squad.
Cornerbacks Kristian Fulton, their second-round pick out of LSU in April, and Tye Smith also were moved to the practice window for possible activation off injured reserve.
''Obviously when you get a really good football player a chance to be back at any point in time it makes you feel good,'' special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman said.
NOTES: Vrabel is taking advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to give his Titans a day off Thursday after working Tuesday instead. ... WR Adam Humphries and S Kenny Vaccaro each practiced fully Wednesday in a step toward being cleared from the concussion protocol. Saffold (ankle), Jones (knee) and CB Malcolm Butler (rib) were limited. Jackson, WR A.J. Brown (knee) and Kelly did not practice.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 12
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray is a flex option for Week 12. Murray posted 12 carries for 49 yards along with two receptions for 36 yards on two targets last week. The back has had a generally stable role behind Alvin Kamara this season and has gotten at least eight carries in nine of 10 games. He also has at least 47 rushing yards in six of ten games. This supports Murray's value as a fantasy flex and he is worth considering against a Broncos squad that is middle-of-the-pack against fantasy backs.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky may have the inside track to start in Week 12 against the Packers, according to Chicago Tribune beat writer Brad Biggs. NFL's Ian Rapoport also has recently tweeted that Trubisky's right shoulder is healthier than Nick Foles hip at this time. The Bears season is teetering on disaster and, at 5-5, are in a must-win situation against NFC North leader the Packers. The move to go back to Trubisky is rooted mostly in the quarterback's ability to use his legs and athleticism outside of the pocket behind a banged-up offensive line. The veteran Foles has been a major disappointment, displaying a lack of accuracy and efficiency. The official news may not drop until after the holiday but neither quarterback will be fantasy viable in Week 12.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is a WR1 against Denver on Sunday. He is currently still nursing that ankle injury that caused him to miss several games, but there is no sign right now that he is in danger of missing the game. Thomas posted his best numbers of the season last week, getting nine receptions for 104 yards on 12 targets. It was also a great sign that he had rapport with QB Taysom Hill. As he is bound to draw a number of targets due to his role as the WR1 on the team, Thomas is a solid play against a Denver team that ranks in the middle against fantasy wideouts.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling will go up against a tough Bears Defense in Week 12. Valdes-Scantling has been wildly inconsistent this season but came down with a huge 47-yard catch to help tie the game at the end of regulation last week and is two games removed from a 149-yard performance. But he will face a Bears defense that is allowing the third fewest fantasy points to receivers this season and have allowed only five touchdowns to the position. The Bears certainly can be expected to key in on star teammate Davante Adams, so Valdes-Scantling could see some extra targets in single coverage. But the Bears defense is talented enough to make fantasy teams pause before they insert Valdes-Scantling into lineups. There should be sturdier options out there as Valdes-Scantling will rank no higher than a WR5/6 option in Week 12.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan could factor heavily in the team's passing game against the Bears in Week 12. Tonyan found the end zone for the first time since Week 4 and caught five passes for 44 yards last week. He will go up against a Bears Defense that is allowing the ninth most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, including six touchdowns to the position this season. Tonyan may not post top-five fantasy numbers among tight ends in Week 12 but has a solid floor to work with as the Bears have allowed 11 different tight ends to post six or more fantasy points against them.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is an RB1 against Denver on Sunday. Kamara is dealing with a foot injury right now, but there is no indication that he is in jeopardy of missing the contest. The RB has a total of five touchdowns in the past three games and remains an integral factor in the rushing and passing game. Kamara has double-digit carries and at least seven targets in seven of 10 games. He remains a solid start against a Broncos squad that is middle-tier against fantasy backs.
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (concussion) has cleared league protocol's, setting him up to return to the lineup in Week 12 against the Packers. Montgomery was unable to play last week but is poised to make his return to a Bears offense that is struggling immensely right now. It also has been a highly disappointing season for the second-year running back, who is posting only 3.6 yards per carry with 684 all-purpose yards and only two total touchdowns. Montgomery, however, will have a favorable matchup against a Packers Defense that is allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Green Bay has allowed 14 touchdowns to the running back position and have surrendered 80+ all-purpose yards to eight different backs this season. Montgomery will slot in as a RB3 option with a low ceiling in Week 12.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams will go up against a Bears secondary that is allowing the third fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers this season. The matchup is tough but nothing seems to stop Adams these days. The 28-year-old is one of the hottest fantasy players in the game right now, posting 45 receptions for 594 yards and eight touchdowns over his last five games. Adams is averaging 11.1 targets a game for the season and will face a Bears Defense that has allowed five touchdowns to receivers all season. The matchup may seem daunting, but Adams needs to be active in all starting lineups across all fantasy formats for Week 12.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (toe) didn't practice on Wednesday, but head coach Frank Reich said Rivers was held out as a precaution and could practice if needed after he bruised his toe in the Week 11 win over the Packers. Thursday is a scheduled off day for the whole team, so the veteran signal-caller will get a couple days to rest before taking on the division-rival Titans in Week 12 on Sunday. Rivers' first year with Indy got off to a rough start, but he's been hot of late and threw for 308 yards and a touchdown in a win over Tennessee in their first meeting just two weeks ago. He had three touchdown passes against Green Bay. Despite the recent increased production, Rivers is best suited as a QB2 for fantasy managers.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill is a low-end QB1 against the Broncos in Week 12. Hill had an impressive debut as a starter in Week 11, getting 233 passing yards and 10 carries for 49 yards and two touchdowns. His rushing prowess makes him a more valuable fantasy player. The Broncos are middle-tier against fantasy QBs, making Hill a great streaming option for this week.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will have an unfavorable tilt against a talented Bears Defense in Week 12. Jones heads into the game with 795 all-purpose yards with eight total touchdowns on the season but will face a Bears defense that is allowing the ninth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Chicago has allowed only two rushing touchdowns since Week 4 and have held down elite runners like Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry in recent weeks. Jones' numbers have dipped a touch recently and could struggle to post top-10 numbers among running backs in Week 12.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take on a Bears Defense that is allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing passers this season. Rodgers is having a fantastic season, throwing for 280+ passing yards in seven of his last eight games and has 23 touchdowns during that span. The veteran passer is having an MVP-caliber campaign but will have a tough test in Week 12. The Bears defense has not allowed a 20+-point fantasy game to a quarterback all season and have allowed 12 passing touchdowns all season. Rodgers has plenty of experience playing the Bears over the years and, while he needs to be in starting lineups across all fantasy formats, Rodgers numbers could be suppressed in Week 12.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook will take on a Panthers Defense in Week 12 that is allowing the fifth most fantasy points to opposing backs. Cook is having a career season and already has 1,069 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns with a month left to play. He will go up against a Panthers defense that has allowed 20+ fantasy points to five different opposing runners this season and seven different runners have posted at least 90 all-purpose yards against them. Cook is one of the top fantasy players of 2020 and should provide top-notch production again in Week 12.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson will need to step up his game if teammate Adam Thielen (COVID-Reserve List) cannot play in Week 12 against the Panthers. The rookie is averaging 18.8 yards per catch and has emerged as one of the most explosive receivers in the NFC. Jefferson will take on a Panthers Defense that is allowing the eighth fewest fantasy points to the wide receivers position this season. Jefferson has four 100+-yard games under his belt this season and Carolina has allowed 10 different players to post 10 fantasy points or more against them. If Thielen cannot suit up, Jefferson is an easy WR2 call, with a ceiling for higher, in Week 12.
Detroit Lions wide receivers Kenny Golladay (hip) and Danny Amendola (hip) and rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah (shoulder) have been ruled out for the Thanksgiving game on Thursday against the Texans. Golladay has been out since Week 8 and will miss his fourth straight game. With both receivers out, Mohamed Sanu was signed to the active roster, where he'll provide depth behind Marvin Jones Jr., Marvin Hall and rookie Quintez Cephus. The Lions passing attack should rely mostly on Jones and tight end T.J. Hockenson against Houston. Jones has 15 catches on 20 targets for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the last three games with Golladay sidelined. He'll be a strong WR2 for fantasy lineups on Thursday.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is playing his best football of the season heading into the team's Week 12 matchup against the Panthers. Over his last three games, Cousins has eight touchdown passes and is averaging 275.3 passing yards a game during that span. The Vikings will now face a Panthers Defense that is allowing the 12th fewest fantasy points to opposing passers. But offenses have had some success against Carolina over the last five games, however, as the Panthers have allowed 10 total touchdowns and an average of 291.8 passing yards a game during that span. Cousins has a chance to post top-12 numbers among the quarterback position in Week 12.
Houston Texans tight end Jordan Akins had his best game of the season in a win over the Patriots last week, hauling in five of six targets for 83 receiving yards. Akins seemed to separate himself a bit from Darren Fells and Pharaoh Brown last week, though he's still not a given to produce in this matchup against the Lions. To make matters worse, the Lions have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. It might be tempting to turn to Akins as a streamer, but it's a bit too risky at the moment. He's in the TE2 range, though he's more touchdown-dependent than fantasy managers would like.
Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift (concussion) is listed as questionable for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Texans. Swift didn't practice on Monday but was limited on both Tuesday and Wednesday, giving himself a chance to return to action this week after he sat out in Week 11. Consider the 21-year-old a game-time decision for now, but he should operate as the team's lead back if he's active, which would put him in the RB2 conversation against a Texans Defense that has allowed 12 total rushing touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing rushers. If Swift misses another game, Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson would split backfield work and would be unappetizing RB3/flex options in deeper leagues.
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said that he expects quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee) to play in Week 12 against the Vikings. Bridgewater returned to practice on Wednesday after sitting out in the Week 11 win over the Lions and appears to be on track to return to the starting gig. P.J. Walker took over the starting duties last week but should revert to a backup role if Bridgewater is active. The Vikings Defense has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to the QB position, so Bridgewater has a chance to be a solid QB2 streamer for fantasy managers in a bind. However, the Panthers offense is expected to be without All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) for the third straight game.
The Indianapolis Colts placed standout defensive tackle DeForest Buckner on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. It's unclear if Buckner tested positive for the virus himself or if he was deemed a high-risk close contact of someone else who tested positive. Either way, his status is in question for Week 12 against the division-rival Titans. If you've been using Buckner as your defensive lineman in IDP leagues, you need to have a backup plan ready to go. The 26-year-old ranks as the No. 16 defensive lineman in terms of IDP points so far in 2020. Losing him this weekend would be a huge blow to Indy's defensive line while they hope to slow down Titans running back Derrick Henry. Buckner, a 2019 second-team All-Pro with the 49ers, has 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss this season.