Sun Nov 10 10:25am ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) takes a snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Jacoby Brissett was injured in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins (48) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich throws the challenge flag during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) looks to pass as Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave (79) rushes in the second half of an NFL football game , Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Miami Dolphins defensive back Chris Lammons, left, hugs head coach Brian Flores, center, after an NFL football game against New York Jets, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) scrambles away from Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) in the first half of an NFL football game , Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Miami Dolphins defensive back Nik Needham (40) celebrates with Miami Dolphins linebacker Sam Eguavoen (49) after he sacked New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett won't be playing against the Dolphins because of an ailing knee.
The late scratch Saturday means Brian Hoyer will make his first start in more than two years.
But Miami coach Brian Flores doesn't need to scramble through game tape for a scouting report. He saw up close for the better part of the last two seasons when both were with New England.
Hoyer, who finished last week's game after Brissett was injured, knows what he's up against in Flores.
''Brian Flores is an incredible coach. I've known him since my rookie year,'' said. ''I was away from him and then I came back to see him as the defensive coordinator. I know their offensive staff and their scheme.''
The Colts (5-3) have plenty at stake Sunday.
They have struggled to score the past two weeks and their vaunted offensive line has allowed nine sacks during the span. Penalties have been costly and so have special team miscues. And now Indy has lost Brissett , who sprained the medial collateral ligament of his left knee in last weekend's loss at Pittsburgh . The defeat knocked the Colts out of the AFC South lead.
''This business is brutal,'' Colts coach Frank Reich said. ''You lose and you feel the sting of it and you feel like your back is against the wall and we have to respond.''
Flores has faced the same scenario - seven times this season.
It's a stark contrast from his days of routine victory celebrations in New England, for whom he was a longtime assistant. Instead, he's running the rebuilding Dolphins (1-7) who are trying to build momentum after their first win last week.
But Flores knows it will be a tough task against a quarterback who earned his respect backing up Tom Brady.
''He is as smart as they come at the quarterback position,'' Flores said. ''He understands defense, has been in a few different systems and understands different ways to protect, to schematically put together different concepts. He and I would go back and forth, talk about defense, talk about offense, talk about protections, talk about route concepts - another impressive guy.''
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Three-time All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday - becoming the 16th member of the Colts' Ring of Honor.
Freeney played 11 seasons in Indianapolis, becoming the franchise's career sacks leader with 107+, and was part of the Colts' 2006 Super Bowl winning team. He ranks second on the Colts' career list, behind bookend rusher Robert Mathis, now an assistant on Reich's staff.
Former general manager Bill Polian selected Freeney in the first round of the 2002 draft, when critics described the selection as a ''reach.'' But Freeney and his trademark spin move quickly became part of Colts lore.
''What did I learn from him? I learned not to spiral into a hole when you get beat because he used to pretty much have his way with me,'' longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. ''I just thank God I never had to play against him in a game.''
The Dolphins have lost four of their best players in the last two weeks.
Top cornerback Xavien Howard and leading receiver Preston Williams suffered season-ending knee injuries. Running back Kenyan Drake was traded, and his replacement, Mark Walton, begins a four-game suspension this week after a no-contest plea to a misdemeanor weapons charge last offseason.
Only two starters have played in every game this season - receiver DeVante Parker and left guard Michael Deiter.
The Colts hope Freeney's induction won't be the only major milestone they hit Sunday. They need one more victory to reach 300 in the franchise's Indianapolis era.
And Adam Vinatieri needs three field goal attempts to break Morten Andersen's league record (709), eight points to become the first Colts player to score 1,500, and one extra point to become the first player in franchise history with 500.
SPUTTERING GROUND GAME
With Walton out, Kalen Ballage is expected to start Sunday. The second-year pro is averaging 2.0 yards on 35 carries this season, and Miami's average of 3.1 yards is the NFL's worst.
''I hear the stats; I know what they are,'' Flores said. ''Everyone is involved in the run game - backs, tight ends, receivers. I can pull up 20 runs right here today where if a receiver makes a block, it's a much longer run, and that average jumps a little bit. We all have to be better.''
Ballage believes he'll benefit from a bigger workload.
''I've played all right,'' he said. ''Opportunities have been slim. Moving forward, it's about getting in there and getting a rhythm and being able to touch the ball more.''
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who can become a free agent in March, remains confident that he will work out a long-term extension with the team. "So when you put that in perspective, my mindset is to be in Dallas. And I've got the confidence in my team to get something done and the confidence in the Cowboys that we'll be able to," Prescott said. The Cowboys are putting Prescott as their No. 1 priority this offseason, but the franchise tag is also an option. The Cowboys disappointed by not making the postseason, but Prescott wasn't the problem. He was the No. 3 QB in terms of fantasy points and threw for 4,902 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. If he remains in Dallas as expected, he'll be a high-end QB1 for fantasy owners in 2020 and beyond.
Updating a previous story from Monday, the Los Angeles Chargers haven't officially moved on from quarterback Philip Rivers, as FOX Sports' Jay Glazer alluded to. All options remain available with the veteran gunslinger, including the franchise tag. However, the fact that Rivers moved his family 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles to Florida could factor into the decision on both sides. The writing seems to be on the wall for the Bolts to cut ties with Rivers when he becomes a free agent this March. The 38-year-old had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2019 in his 16th and likely final season with the Chargers. Rivers can still put up numbers as he gets closer to retirement, but fantasy owners will likely be drafting him as a backup for the 2020 season, no matter where he winds up.
Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the team could wait until next year to sign quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a long-term contract extension. "I don't want to say necessarily it has to be this offseason, but I will say that it's a priority to get him done," Hunt said. A first-round pick in 2017, Mahomes is eligible for a contract extension now that he's finished his third year in the NFL, but it sounds like the Chiefs aren't exactly in a hurry to get something done. The 24-year-old didn't post the gaudy numbers he had in 2018 -- 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns -- but he was still more than adequate with 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions in 14 games. Mahomes is an elite signal-caller with exceptional athleticism with both his arm and legs. He's here to stay as a high-end QB1 and will take on the 49ers in the Super Bowl this Sunday.
Free-agent RB Alex Collins (Ravens) and QB Chris Streveler (CFL) worked out for the Miami Dolphins recently.
San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (knee, hamstring) said he's not 100 percent and will play through pain of knee tendonitis and a hamstring injury in the Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy, who hasn't had a touch since Week 15 and who was inactive for the AFC Championship against the Titans, said he's not ready to retire after this season. "Nah, I'm not ready to retire, yet," McCoy said. "I still can play. So, I'm not going to retire yet, but that day is coming. That day is definitely coming." The 31-year-old has taken a back seat to running backs Damien Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson down the stretch, and he's unlikely to have much of a role, if any, in the Super Bowl against the 49ers. Shady has become more of a mentor in the running back room than an on-field performer for fantasy owners.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) said his injured shoulder is feeling good but wants to see how his range of motion is and how he will be able to manage the pain in his shoulder.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor Coleman's practice participation this week to see if he will be in any danger of missing the Super Bowl. He will be part of a committee if he plays and can be a flex option.
Los Angeles Chargers impending free-agent QB Philip Rivers' status with the Chargers is uncertain at this time, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The team may consider placing the franchise tag on him or let him leave in free agency.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation to see where Rivers will be playing in 2020. He likely will find a starting job this offseason but may only be a No. 2 quarterback in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (shoulder) said he has been playing the last two seasons with a torn labrum in his right shoulder and does not plan to have surgery on the shoulder.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle seems to be playing fine despite the injury and continues to be an important part of the running and passing game. He continues to be one of the top tight ends in the NFL and is a must-start fantasy option.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (shoulder) said that he's been playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder since the start of the 2018 season. "So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle said Sunday on the Pardon My Take podcast, "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it -- [The protective sleeve] basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time." He didn't miss any games in 2018 and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377. Kittle said there's "no chance" he has surgery in the future. The 26-year-old has been quiet in the postseason with four catches for 35 yards in two games, but the Niners haven't really needed him with their ground game humming. That could change in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2.
Free-agent WR Tommylee Lewis (Lions) signed a Reserve/Future contract with the New Orleans Saints Monday, Jan. 27. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel could be released this offseason since the team could save $4.5 million in salary cap space.
Fantasy Spin: Gabriel struggled with concussions this season but can be a role in an offense because of his playmaking abilities. He probably will be avoided in most fantasy leagues no matter where he plays in 2020.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, who will be a free agent in March, emotionally admitted that he would fail a drug test to a police officer during a traffic stop recently. This was caught on video of the police officer's dash cam during the traffic stop. Hunt also admitted that the small amounts of marijuana found in the car were his, but the officer let Hunt off with just the speeding ticket. It remains to be seen if the NFL will consider a suspension for the 24-year-old from this incident. Hunt was released by the Chiefs during the 2018 season due to a domestic-violence incident, and he served a suspension before making his Browns debut in 2019. If he signs with another team this offseason and is given bell-cow duties in the backfield, Hunt could have RB1 upside.
The Los Angeles Chargers have "moved on from Philip Rivers," according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer. Rivers is set to become a free agent in March, and the writing was on the wall when he recently moved his entire family from San Diego to Florida. Rivers will end a 16-year run with the Chargers, but it remains to be seen where he'll land on the free-agent market this offseason. The Buccaneers are a popular expected destination, but that'll only be if they move on from Jameis Winston. Rivers completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2019 for a QB rating of 88.5. He might have a few more seasons left in him, but at 38 years old his arm strength is clearly deteriorating, and he'll probably be more of a QB2 in 2020, depending on where he winds up.
The Buffalo Bills were cleared of violating policy over the reporting of DE Jerry Hughes' (wrist) wrist injury in 2019. Hughes posted to social media that he was undergoing surgery after playing the season with torn ligaments, but he was not listed on the injury report.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox was credited with a 61-yard interception return for touchdown at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle posted three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on four targets for the AFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.
Pittsburgh Steelers DE T.J. Watt posted an 82-yard fumble return for touchdown in the fourth quarter for the AFC at the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews ended up with a game-high nine receptions for an AFC-best 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.