New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning speaks to the media after an NFL football practice in East Rutherford, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tom Canavan)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) is tackled by New York Jets defensive end Nathan Shepherd (97) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New York Jets defensive end Henry Anderson (96) tackles Miami Dolphins wide receiver Allen Hurns (17) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The 2019 season isn't ending the way Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores or New York Giants counterpart Pat Shurmur had hoped months ago.
Both knew they were taking young teams into the season, and they were hoping to find a way to contend for a playoff spot in December.
So much for that idea. The Dolphins dropped their first seven games, and the Giants headed south after a 2-2 start highlighted by rookie Daniel Jones replacing 38-year-old Eli Manning as the starting quarterback.
When the Dolphins (3-10) visit the Giants (2-11) on Sunday the outcome only will help decide the selection order in the draft next spring and give one team a rare chance to celebrate.
The Giants are trying to stop a nine-game slide, matching a franchise record, that has put Shurmur's job in jeopardy. New York has won seven of 29 games in his tenure.
Shurmur insists he sees improvement. It might not help his future.
''I understand the numbers. I get it. I get all that,'' he said. ''But you just try to keep inspiring the players to play.''
The Dolphins will be playing their second straight game at MetLife Stadium. They were a little upset last weekend after the Jets posted a 22-21 win on a last-second field goal set up by a video replay that overturned a non-call and awarded a pass interference penalty.
''It was a tough one last week, but in this league you have to deal with adversity, move on and move onto the next challenge, which we've got a big one this week,'' Flores said. ''I don't necessarily think about going back to MetLife as - whatever stadium it is - to me, it's the idea and the goal is always to try and get a win.''
Here's five things to watch Sunday:
NON CENTURY MARK
Giants running back Saquon Barkley has struggled since returning from a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss three games. The No. 2 pick overall in the 2018 draft has gone seven straight games without running for 100 yards.
In his rookie season, Barkley had seven 100-yard games, including five in the final seven games. He had 100-yard games in the opening two games of the season and then got hurt just before halftime in the third game.
The streak has a shot at ending. The Dolphins are tied for 30th in run defense, allowing an average of 141.1 yards.
IN WAKE OF DEMOTIONS
Dolphins defensive end Taco Charlton and rookie guard Michael Deiter are eager to bounce back from recent demotions.
Charlton leads Miami with five sacks, twice the total of any teammate, but was inactive last week.
''It made me hungrier,'' Charlton said. ''I want to be a player that no matter what, the game plan is you can't sit me.''
Deiter had started every game until last week, when he played briefly off the bench.
''I just need to play better,'' Deiter said. ''I'm confident that I can go out there and help us win, but I need to do it more consistently.''
GO TO GUY
Despite having Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate III on the roster, Jones and Manning have a new go-to guy for their passes.
Rookie Darius Slayton is putting up unexpected numbers this season for the Giants. The fifth-round draft pick from Auburn is second on the team with 42 receptions, two behind tight end Evan Engram. His 659 yards receiving and seven touchdown catches lead the team, along with his 15.7 yard average. He had two TD catches Monday night against the Eagles.
What makes the performance more surprising is Slayton was hampered by a hamstring problem in training camp and was inactive for the first two regular-season games.
The Dolphins rookie known as the intern may get a heavier workload after playing well in his first NFL start last week.
Patrick Laird contributed 48 yards rushing and 38 receiving. He has climbed from the bottom of the depth chart to become Miami's fourth starter at running back this year.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Laird tends to get overlooked. He was a walk-on at California and went undrafted out of college.
Shortly after joining the Dolphins as a free agent, Laird had lunch with team interns who assumed he was part of their group rather than a player. That earned him a nickname that stuck: the intern.
Because of injuries, the Dolphins' secondary is a work in progress.
The nine defensive backs on the roster have a combined total of nine career interceptions. They're in a scramble to become part of rebuilding Miami's long-term plans.
''You've got to take full advantage,'' cornerback Nik Needham said. ''We're all trying to do that.''
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who will be a free agent in March, plans to return to the Saints if he comes back for a 20th season in the NFL. "I have never been in the situation where I was mulling over the thought of [returning]," Brees said. "To me, each one of these contracts, I don't know how many it's been with the Saints, I've played with them 14 years, it's not a matter of if it gets done, it's when. At this stage of my career, it's not a given that I'm coming back every year, but when that time comes, I'll always be a Saint." Despite diminished arm strength, Brees was one of the best quarterbacks when he returned from his thumb injury last season. He may no longer have sky-high QB1 upside for fantasy owners, but Brees will at least be a midrange QB1 target next season if he returns to New Orleans, which is what is expected.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt was pulled over and cited during a traffic stop in Rocky River, Ohio on Tuesday. Police pulled Hunt over for going 77 MPH in a 60 MPH zone and found small amounts of marijuana in three different locations in the car. The car was registered in Hunt's mother's name and he told officers that the drugs belonged to his brother. While the running back did not receive a drug charge during the stop, he could still be subject to discipline from the NFL. Hunt is a restricted free agent this offseason and has a chance to land elsewhere as a team's starting running back. This incident is only likely to be an issue in fantasy if the NFL decides to get involved.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was back at practice on Friday. The Chiefs played it safe with Kelce and gave him some rest on Thursday, but he should be ready to rock in the Super Bowl against the 49ers on Feb. 2. He had a quiet game in the AFC Championship against the Titans but exploded for three touchdowns in the Divisional Round. Kelce was the top fantasy tight end in 2019 and could put up big numbers in the passing game against San Francisco in the Super Bowl if this game turns into a shootout.
Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said it's his understanding that tight end Jimmy Graham wants to play in 2020. Graham is under contract for one more year for $8 million, which is the final year of his three-year contract. The 33-year-old has clearly lost a step at this point in his career, catching just 38 passes (60 targets) for 447 yards and three touchdowns in 2019 with the Packers. He's no longer the focal point in the passing game, and he's more of a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE2 in fantasy circles.
Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown was granted bail by a Broward County judge on Friday morning at $110,000 for a felony burglary with battery charge. Brown will be monitored by GPS and be required to release his passport and guns, go through drug and alcohol testing and get a mental-health evaluation. He's facing charges of felony burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief stemming from an alleged assault of a moving-truck driver earlier this week. This isn't Brown's first run-in with the law, and all of his off-field issues virtually assure that no NFL team will take a chance on him moving forward.
Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (wrist) had surgery to fix torn ligaments in his wrist. Hughes revealed the injury after the playoff loss to the Texans in the wild-card round, and the league launched an investigation as to whether the Bills had violated the injury reporting policy since Hughes never appeared on the team's injury report with a wrist injury. Despite his wrist injury, Hughes didn't miss a game in 2019 and hasn't missed a single game since 2012. He recorded 23 total tackles (14 solo), 4.5 sacks and one fumble recovery for Buffalo's stout defense last season. Hughes should be recovered in time for training camp this summer.
Buffalo Bills DE Jerry Hughes (wrist) had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his wrist this week.
Miami Dolphins QB Josh Rosen hasn't been written off, according to general manager Chris Grier, and Grier said he saw improvement in Rosen during practice throughout the year.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Mid-week downgrades aren't good, but we still have another full week before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, so Kelce should be just fine to play in the big game against the 49ers. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (illness) returned to a full practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Although Kelce had just three catches for 30 yards in the AFC Championship against Tennessee, he busted out for 10 grabs, 134 yards and three touchdowns in the Divisional Round against Houston. Kelce was the top-scoring fantasy tight end in 2019 and could easily have a big game in the Super Bowl against San Francisco.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) is expected to turn himself in to police but hadn't done so as of the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 23, according to a public information officer for the Hollywood Police Department in Florida. 'I believe they've given him ample opportunity to turn himself in,'' Christian Lata told USA TODAY Sports. An arrest warrant was issued against Brown following an incident with a moving truck driver Tuesday, Jan. 21. 'I'm sure it's going to be within today or tomorrow, but I'm not sure exactly when,'' Lata said late Thursday afternoon. 'I would assume it would be sooner than later.''
Fantasy Spin: There's less and less reason to hold out hope of Brown finding his way onto an NFL roster and becoming fantasy relevant in 2020. Dynasty owners should be looking to move on.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman did some solo work as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder. Expect him to play in Super Bowl LIV Sunday, Feb. 2.
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones (calf) was a limited participant in practice Thursday, Jan. 23. CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) practiced in full. DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand) was removed from the injury report. S Jordan Lucas (illness) didn't practice.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis (illness) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23. LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral), DL Dee Ford (quad, hamstring) and S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) were limited. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) practiced in full.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce and the Chiefs have a long way to go until Super Bowl LIV Sunday, Feb. 2. He should be fully expected to be on the field.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson (illness) returned to a full practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has scored just one touchdown since Week 3, and he hasn't recorded 100 or more receiving yards since Week 2. He's a risky flier without a guaranteed role in the offense.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was seen running on a side field ahead of the team's practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: It appears Coleman will be able to suit up for Super Bowl LIV after dislocating his shoulder in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. He'll continue splitting work with Raheem Mostert and, to a lesser degree, Matt Breida. Any or all of the three could have a big game, but it's Mostert with the hot hand following the NFC Championship.
Houston Texans CB Gareon Conley (ankle) recently underwent a procedure to have a screw removed from his right ankle but is expected to be recovered in full for the beginning of the team's offseason workout program, according to a league source Thursday, Jan. 23.
Oakland Raiders CB Nevin Lawson signed a one-year contract extension Thursday, Jan. 23. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) is doing some running on a side field at the team's practice on Thursday. Despite sitting out of practice, Coleman appears very much in play to suit up for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2. He suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the NFC Championship win over the Packers, but Coleman has an extra week to heal up and should be good to go for the big game. He will continue to serve as a change-of-pace back for Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers.
The Atlanta Falcons plan to tender a contract to impending exclusive-rights free-agent kicker Younghoe Koo. The 25-year-old place kicker solidified the team's kicking position in the final eight games of the season, making 23 of his 26 field-goal tries and 15 of his 16 extra points. Koo went 7-for-9 on kicks from 40-49 yards and hit his only attempt of 50-plus yards. While he should enter the 2020 season as the favorite to kick for Atlanta, the Falcons will also bring in some competition to push him. With an offense that can be explosive and put up points, Koo will have some fantasy appeal if he sticks around.