Thu Oct 17 6:01pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
In this July 29, 2019, file photo, Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict attends NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif. Oakland defensive coordinator Paul Guenther lashed out at the NFL for the severe suspension the league handed Burfict for his latest infraction for a helmet-to-helmet hit. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland defensive coordinator Paul Guenther lashed out at the NFL for the lengthy suspension the league handed to Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict for a helmet-to-helmet hit, one of a series of violations for which he has been punished.
Burfict was suspended for the final 12 games of the regular season and the playoffs for the hit to the head of Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle on Sept. 29. It was longest suspension ever handed down by the league for an on-field infraction.
Burfict appealed the penalty hoping to get it reduced but that was denied last week by appeals officer Derrick Brooks. The previous longest suspension was five games handed to Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth in 2006 for kicking and stomping on Cowboys center Andre Gurode's face, leading to 30 stitches.
''I think it was a witch hunt from the beginning quite honestly,'' Guenther said Thursday. ''Somebody at the league didn't want him playing football and they got what they wanted.''
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan handed down the penalty to punish Burfict severely for ''repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules'' after the hit on Doyle. It was the third time Burfict has been suspended for a dangerous hit on the field to go along with several others that led to fines.
The suspension is without pay, costing Burfict more than $1.1 million in salary and per game active roster bonuses.
Guenther said he's most upset about the lack of a clear standard and that he and the team will keep a close eye on other infractions to see if they are dealt with the same way.
''Now they've opened up a whole can or worms as far as the next guy who is going to do this,'' he said. ''We have to make sure if we do this to this one guy, this one guy driving 38 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, a cop looking for one guy doing it, then all the players should be held to the same one standard. To me that's where I have the issue.''
During his time in Cincinnati, Burfict was repeatedly suspended by the NFL for egregious hits and violating its policy on performance-enhancers. He was fined regularly for hits that crossed the line, most notably the one to Antonio Brown's head that helped the Steelers rally for an 18-16 playoff win in the 2015 season. That led to a three-game suspension to start the 2016 season.
Burfict then was penalized with a five-game suspension for a blind-side block against Kansas City fullback Anthony Sherman in the 2017 preseason. The suspension was later reduced to three games.
Burfict was also fined $112,000 last season for hits on Brown and James Conner in a game against Pittsburgh.
Despite that history, Burfict said after signing with the Raiders that he disputes accusations that he is a ''dirty'' player.
But it was that history that led to this punishment, with Runyan telling Burfict in a letter that he ''continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk.''
''Does it make any sense to sign a guy if after one infraction he's going to get thrown out of the league for a year? No, it doesn't,'' Guenther said. ''I think it's very unfair. It's unfair to our team and unfair to Vontaze.''
Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins (ankle) and rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell (hand) were both listed as limited participants in Tuesday's estimation of their walkthrough practice. Wilkins was inactive in Week 11 but looks to be on track to play in Week 12 on Thursday against the Texans. It's notable with Marlon Mack (hand) out up to a month, but Jonathan Williams remains the more likely candidate for early down work on Thursday with Mack sidelined. Nyheim Hines should maintain his role as a third-down pass-catcher. Williams is the running back to target off waivers if you're in need, although both Williams and Wilkins could wind up sharing touches. Campbell is making progress but isn't expected to return until next month. He's a fine dynasty stash, but we wouldn't expect much fantasy production from him in redraft leagues the rest of the way.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) and tight end Eric Ebron (ankle) both remained sidelined for Tuesday's estimation of their practice report. The Colts aren't ruling Hilton out for a return on Thursday night against the Texans, but fantasy owners would like to see him at least get in a limited session on Wednesday. While he's been out since Week 8, Hilton would have high-end WR2 upside against a weak Texans secondary if he were to return this week. He's been notorious for having huge games against Houston in the past. Ebron looks to be in danger of sitting out on the short week. If that were to happen, Jack Doyle would have low-end TE1 appeal after throwing up a donut in Week 11. Zach Pascal has been the team's primary receiver in Hilton's absence, but he's a low-upside flex in this run-first offense.
Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (knee) recently underwent a second surgery on his knee and is not expected to play this season. Brown is expected to be ready for the start of the offseason program, however.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion, knee), WR DIontae Johnson (concussion) and DE Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (concussion) were officially placed in the league's concussion protocol Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Los Angeles Rams WR Brandin Cooks (concussion) is expected to return from a two-game absence and play in Week 12 versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Fantasy Spin: Such news in previous years would have been cause for celebration, but Cooks' poor production this season - mostly due to the regression Jared Goff has experienced - makes the 26-year-old receiver a risky fantasy starter, especially given the matchup. There's also the matter of Cooks' troubling history with concussions, and the fact one more in 2019 could put his season - if not his career - in some jeopardy.
Arizona Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds (hamstring) was held out of practice again Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Fantasy Spin: It was likely a light session with the upcoming bye week, suggesting Edmonds isn't anywhere close to a return. Kenyan Drake appears to have taken control of the backfield for now, but we'll see if David Johnson can use the time off to close the gap and earn back some touches.
Indianapolis Colts CB Pierre Desir (hamstring) is expected to be a game-time decision for Week 12 against the Houston Texans on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (hamstring) will have an MRI on his hamstring in the next day or so, and there will be a better timetable after that.
Fantasy Spin: The Chiefs are on a bye in Week 12, and it's possible that he could avoid missing time. However, hamstrings are usually multiple-week issues.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (hamstring) will undergo an MRI exam on his hamstring in the next day or so, according to a source. At that point they'll have a better idea for a timeline. Hill missed both of his targets on Monday night against the Chargers before leaving the game and never returning, so it was a tough pill to swallow for his fantasy owners. The good news is that the Chiefs are on their bye in Week 12, so Hill may not end up missing any games as long as his MRI yields positive results. If he's forced to miss time, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson would once again be attractive flexes in deeper leagues behind Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (hamstring) was not seen at the portion of practice open to the media on Tuesday. The Cardinals are going on their bye in Week 12, so Edmonds will have another week to rest up. He's been out since Oct. 27 against the Saints. In the meantime, the Cardinals signed Kenyan Drake, and he has now leaped an injured David Johnson on the running back depth chart. Edmonds could get some run in Week 13 if he's ready and DJ is still slowed by his injuries, but Edmonds is still unlikely to have any standalone value the rest of the way. He can be left to the waiver wire in most leagues.
Free-agent TE Orson Charles (Broncos) re-signed with the Denver Broncos on an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Nov. 19. FB Andy Janovich (arm) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) can play Thursday, Nov. 21, if he receives medical clearance from doctors and clearance from the team, according to head coach Frank Reich.
Fantasy Spin: It's still pretty questionable with the short week. Hilton would be a WR2 against the Houston Texans.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he's "excited about the potential return" of rookie running back Benny Snell Jr. (knee) for Week 12 against the Bengals. Snell has missed the last two games and will be evaluated in practice this week. The 21-year-old has 28 rushing attempts for 118 yards in five games this season. He could have a role in the team's backfield if he returns this weekend if James Conner (shoulder) remains sidelined, but Jaylen Samuels would still likely see most of the touches as Pittsburgh's lead back. Snell is only worth stashing in deeper leagues if you own either Conner or Samuels.
Retired tight end Rob Gronkowski won't rule out a return to football in the future, but he has no plans to come back in 2019. If he had planned to return to football this season, Gronk would have to do so by Nov. 30, per league rules. The Patriots offense could surely use Gronkowski on the field this year, as they predictably haven't gotten much production from the tight end position without him. The combination of Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo and Benjamin Watson has left a lot to be desired. The veteran Watson has become the primary pass-catching tight end of late, but he's a low-end TE2 for fantasy purposes. It looks like the Pats will continue to roll with Watson for the foreseeable future.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee) is expected to play in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones himself is the source here, who said he expects his top wide receiver to play in a huge game against the 9-1 Patriots. Cooper played on just 55 percent of offensive snaps in Week 11, but Jones stating this early in the week that Cooper will play could be good news. Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on practice reports this week to see how limited Cooper is leading up to Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins waived running back Mark Walton on Tuesday morning. Walton was already suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy, but the Dolphins were, "made aware of a police matter earlier this morning regarding Walton" according to Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier. Kalen Ballage will continue as the lead back for the Dolphins presumably for the rest of the season. Walton, still only 22 years old, may already be running out of chances in the NFL.
Cleveland Browns FS Morgan Burnett (Achilles') was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley took advantage of the thin air in Mexico City and drilled a 49-yarder, the second longest good kick of his career. While Badgley did barely miss a 40-yard shot in the first quarter, he was able to make kicks from 27, 26, and 49 yards on the night. Badgley's leg kept LA in the game since their offense sputtered terribly once they were staring down the goal line, but unfortunately, the Chargers fell to the Chiefs anyway. Badgley has made 80% of his field goal tries and all of his extra points since he returned from a severe groin injury. He's not a superstar or Mr. Dependable, but he's getting the job done well enough for an LA franchise that struggled with kicking woes for years.
Los Angeles Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins made a slashing leap in front of a Chiefs receiver to snag his third interception of the year on Monday night. The pick was just the second one of the season for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and LA is the first defense this season to hold Mahomes under 200 yards passing when he played a full game. Unfortunately, failures on the offensive side of the ball cost the Chargers the game even though the defense held KC to just 24 total points. While it looks like the season is a wash for LA, their defense can still be useful if they can play like that more often.