Thu Oct 17 10:27pm ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
In this June 11, 2019, file photo, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey walks to the field for an NFL football practice in Jacksonville, Fla. Ramsey is expected to return to practice two days after seeing a back specialist. The Jaguars host New Orleans on Sunday, Oct. 13. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Thanks to two injures and a couple of major trades, the Los Angeles Rams will be without three regular starters in their secondary this weekend in Atlanta.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips realizes that's not the ideal way to face Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Matt Ryan and the NFL's second-most prolific passing game.
Not even if one of those new starters turns out to be Jalen Ramsey, who is optimistic he will make his Rams debut at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
''(The Falcons) have probably the top passing offense in the league, so it would be a challenge whether we had all the same people or different ones,'' Phillips said Thursday. ''It's a challenge for whoever you have out there.''
The Rams' defense is spending the week in frantic preparation for its new lineup against the Falcons. Starting cornerback Marcus Peters was traded on Tuesday, while safety John Johnson and cornerback Aqib Talib went on injured reserve earlier this week.
Ramsey went through his first full practice at the Rams' training complex Thursday, two days after the Rams acquired him from Jacksonville in an even bolder trade. Wearing the No. 20 jersey he got from new teammate Troy Hill, Ramsey looked loose and happy during the workout.
''We're going to do what's smart for myself and the team, but I hope (to play Sunday), Ramsey said. ''I hope I can go contribute to a win, somehow, some way, whether it's limited or whatever, or a couple of plays. It doesn't matter.''
After requesting a trade last month, Ramsey missed the Jaguars' last three games with a back injury. Although he must learn the Rams' defense and get back into full game shape before he'll feel comfortable with his new team, Ramsey thinks he is on his way.
Ramsey said the defensive system ''fits me very well,'' and he called Phillips ''a legend'' in their first meeting.
''I love challenges like that,'' Ramsey said of the Falcons. ''They've got elite receivers, Julio especially, arguably one of the best receivers in the league. Definitely I love that challenge, and if I'm able to perform well, I would like to be out there.''
The only remaining regular starter in the Rams' secondary is safety Eric Weddle, who joined the defending NFC champions in the offseason. The veteran actually sounds eager for the challenge facing the Rams' suddenly inexperienced secondary.
''That's why you have me, quite honestly,'' Weddle said. ''I've been through this many a time. Revolving door, whether it's safeties, corners, it's my job to get everyone on the same page and play at a high level. There's no excuses in this league, and it's my job to get those guys going.''
But there's no denying the fact that the Rams must figure out how to win without two of their three busiest defensive players this season. Only linebacker Cory Littleton has taken more defensive snaps than Peters or Johnson for Los Angeles, while Talib is seventh despite sitting out last week with the rib injury that now threatens his season.
Hill is almost certain to start at cornerback for the Rams. If Ramsey doesn't play extensively, the Rams are expecting to give significant playing time to Darious Williams, a second-year pro who hasn't played a defensive snap this season and has one career tackle.
The coaching staff is high on Williams, who went undrafted in 2018 after playing two seasons at UAB. Those two seasons were in 2014 and 2017, separated by two years of training without games after the school dropped football and before the program was reinstated.
The Rams claimed Williams off waivers last October and kept him on the roster this season, but he played only four snaps on defense last season and none in six games this year.
There weren't many snaps available at cornerback recently with Peters and Talib playing extensively along with Nickell Robey-Coleman, one of the NFL's most effective nickel backs against slot receivers. Snaps are suddenly in abundance, but the Rams aren't shaken by the upheaval.
''We're just going to hold strong,'' Robey-Coleman said. ''We're going to fight and battle with the guys that we've got. Having Jalen on the defense now, we don't have to worry about one half of the field, I know for sure. That made everybody's job a little easier.''
NOTES: Ramsey was listed as a full participant in practice, while RB Todd Gurley's participation was limited. Coach Sean McVay is optimistic Gurley will play after missing last week's game. ... Gurley's backup, Malcolm Brown, missed his second straight practice with an ankle injury. McVay hasn't ruled out Brown for Sunday, noting that ''sometimes these things end up turning the corner pretty quickly, so we'll use our time on this.''
New England Patriots rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry (ankle) is expected to make his NFL debut in Week 11 against the Eagles. The first-round pick has been practicing since Oct. 15 and was placed on the active roster before the Week 9 game against the Ravens, but he didn't dress for that game. Harry has some obvious upside in New England, but he's missed a lot of development time and will be behind wideouts Mohamed Sanu, Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett. There's a chance that Harry pushes Dorsett for playing time in three-receiver sets, but that may not happen right away, and he remains a long shot for meaningful production in redraft leagues down the stretch. Harry should be owned in all dynasty/keeper leagues, however.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in discussions for a long-term contract extension with tight end Zach Ertz, offensive tackle Lane Johnson and safety Malcolm Jenkins, according to league sources. Ertz signed his last extension in January of 2015 and has become one of the best tight ends in the league since then. Johnson is considered by some as the best right tackle in all of football, while Jenkins has emerged as a leader for Philly's defense. Despite somewhat of a down year in 2019, Ertz leads the Eagles in receptions (46) and yards (527) while finding the end zone just two times. With Alshon Jeffery (ankle) out in Week 11 against the Patriots, Ertz could be set up for another big game.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz has talked with the Eagles about a possible contract extension, according to sources.
Fantasy Spin: Ertz is not posting the numbers he did last season but still has been a consistent starting option for fantasy players. He should be a weekly starting option in all leagues and likely will have a big role in the passing game this week with Alshon Jeffery sidelined.
The Denver Broncos are expected to ride running back Phillip Lindsay more in the backfield over Royce Freeman in Week 11 against the Vikings on the road. Lindsay and Freeman have been in a near-even timeshare for most of the season, which has really given Lindsay owners headaches after his breakout rookie season in 2018. But Freeman had just 15 yards on five carries in the Week 9 win over the Browns, and it sounds as though Denver wants to get Lindsay more involved this week against a tough Minnesota run defense. Lindsay is the back to own, and he'll have more RB2 upside this week, although Denver's offense could struggle with Brandon Allen making his second start at quarterback.
Detroit Lions DT Damon Harrison (groin) is active for Week 11's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back) may be sidelined for as many as six weeks because tiny, non-displaced fractures in the upper thoracic spine.
Fantasy Spin: It is not known if Stafford will be able to play again this season, so fantasy players will need to monitor the situation. Jeff Driskel will continue to be the starting quarterback but should be avoided in fantasy leagues.
Carolina Panthers CB Donte Jackson (hip) is active for Week 11's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (knee, illness, ribs) and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) are both active for Week 11 against the Redskins. Bell continues to fight through injuries in a disappointing first season with Gang Green, but he has another opportunity to break out against a weak Redskins front. He'll have low-end RB1/high-end RB2 appeal. If Bell can't get it done today for fantasy owners, there's not much hope that he'll be an RB1 the rest of the way. Thomas had a decent day in Week 10 but remains third on the receiver depth chart behind Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson. Despite the good matchup, Thomas is a low-upside WR4/5 in deeper fantasy leagues.
The Buffalo Bills have declared TE Tommy Sweeney, WR Duke Williams, OL Ike Boettger, OT Ryan Bates, DT Vincent Taylor, S Dean Marlowe and RB T.J. Yeldon inactive for Week 11.
The Carolina Panthers have declared LB Christian Miller, LB Jordan Kunaszyk, CB Ross Cockrell, DL Kyle Love, WR Brandon Zylstra, OT Dennis Daley and RB Mike Davis inactive for Week 11.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) is active for Week 11's game against the Washington Redskins.
Minnesota Vikings S Andrew Sendejo will start Week 11's game against the Denver Broncos in place of injured S Anthony Harris (groin).
New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell (illness, knee, ribs) is officially active for the team's Week 11 game.
Fantasy Spin: Bell has been a big part of the offense for the Jets and should continue to receive a significant amount of touches. He will have a favorable matchup this week and is a must-start option in all leagues.
Houston Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) is expected to play in Week 11 against the Ravens, according to a source. Tunsil missed the Week 9 game but was able to heal up during the Week 10 bye. His presence is great news for the protection of quarterback Deshaun Watson in what is expected to be a high-scoring affair between two potent offenses. As usual, Watson will be a top-five fantasy quarterback on Sunday despite not having wide receiver Will Fuller in the fold.
The Atlanta Falcons have declared FS Kemal Ishmael, DT Deadrin Senat, TE Austin Hooper, DL John Cominsky, WR Brandon Powell, RB Devonta Freeman and OL Matt Gono inactive for Week 11.
The Dallas Cowboys have declared OT Connor Williams, DT Trysten Hill, LB Luke Gifford, FS Jeff Heath, WR Cedrick Wilson, DE Joe Jackson and WR Devin Smith inactive for Week 11.
The Indianapolis Colts have declared CB Pierre Desir, CB Quincy Wilson, OT Le'Raven Clark, WR T.Y. Hilton, RB Jordan Wilkins, QB Chad Kelly and WR Parris Campbell inactive for Week 11.
The Washington Redskins have declared DT Tim Settle, CB Deshazor Everett, WR Paul Richardson, OG Ross Pierschbacher, RB Chris Thompson, TE Vernon Davis and QB Colt McCoy inactive for Week 11.
The New Orleans Saints have declared WR Deonte Harris, OT Andrus Peat, WR Austin Carr, DE Carl Granderson, OT Ethan Greenidge, TE Dan Arnold and CB Marshon Lattimore inactive for Week 11.
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson is expected to remain the starter in Week 11 against the Jets despite Derrius Guice (knee) returning for the first time since the season opener, according to a source. It's likely that Guice receives his carries and catches on third down to start. His role could grow as the season wears on, but he won't make Peterson a healthy scratch like he was in Week 1 when Jay Gruden was still the head coach. Peterson has seen at least 18 touches in three of the last four games and has gone over 100 yards in two of them. He remains the starter, but he'll inevitably lose valuable touches to Guice, making him a low-upside RB3 in a low-scoring offense led by a rookie quarterback. Guice has even less appeal as a desperation RB3/flex in PPR formats after a long layoff.