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.''
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway was a surprise healthy scratch ahead of his team's Week 10 game against the Buffalo Bills. According to head coach Freddie Kitchens, Callaway's benching was a "one-game thing" so the second-year wideout should be active for Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. A source told the Plain Dealer that Callaway's benching was for disciplinary reasons. When asked, Kitchens responded, I dont know if hes gotten the message or not, but Im not wavering. It was only for yesterday, yes.'' With Callaway back in the fold, Sunday's hero Rashard Higgins will presumably go back to the bench in three-wide packages.
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff was not injured in the third quarter of the Rams' Week 10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers as previously thought when Blake Bortles came on to replace him for a play. Instead, head coach Sean McVay told reporters Monday, Nov. 11, that Bortles' third-and-2 run was designed for Bortles.
Fantasy Spin: It's impossible to know for sure if this will be a one-time occurrence or the first hint McVay isn't happy with the way Goff is running the offense, but the Rams appear to be searching for answers on offense. This is likely much ado about nothing, but it's something to keep an eye on moving forward if Goff continues to struggle. Consider him a low-floor, high-upside QB2 in Week 11 against the Chicago Bears.
The Green Bay Packers Defense put up decent numbers in their Week 10 victory. The unit posted three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. They also held a Carolina offense averaging 25 points per game this year to just 16 points. The highlight of the day for the Green Bay defense was their game-saving goal-line stand against Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. The Packers will rest up during their Week 11 bye before a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby had a solid game against the Carolina Panthers. The veteran kicker made a 47-yard field goal and all three extra-point attempts. He's now made at least one field goal in three straight games. For the season, Crosby has made 13 of 14 field goals and all 29 extra-point attempts. He'll enjoy a bye next week before a tough Week 12 date with the San Francisco 49ers.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham had a decent day that could have been even better. The 32-year-old caught two of four targets for 59 yards but had a touchdown catch overturned. It was nice to see Graham eclipse 50 receiving yards for the first time since Week 7, though 48 of his yards came on one catch. The veteran tight end has become a touchdown-or-bust option in fantasy. He'll get a bye in Week 11 before taking on the best pass defense in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (hamstring) returned to practice Monday, Nov. 11.
Fantasy Spin: It's his first football activity since going down in Week 7 and at least puts him on track to return against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11. Outside of the one incredible three-touchdown game he had in early October against the Atlanta Falcons, it's been an unspectacular season for him. It seems unlikely that will change versus the Ravens, so owners should look for better options to start in Week 11.
Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (ankle) was spotted running on the field Monday, Nov. 11, and anticipates returning to action against the Jacksonville Jaguars following the team's bye week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard saw a season-high six targets against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10. He only caught two of them for 27 yards. Still, Lazard might be quietly staking claim to the Packers' number-two wide receiver role. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has gone missing the last two weeks. Geronimo Allison hasn't eclipsed 50 receiving yards or caught a touchdown since Week 4. Meanwhile, Lazard has seen at least four targets in every game and has at least 40 receiving yards in four of five games. Lazard and the Packers get a bye in Week 11 before their Week 12 matchup with the tough San Francisco 49ers.
Green Bay Packers wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison were both unproductive in their team's Week 10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Valdes-Scantling didn't register a catch for the second straight week. Meanwhile, Allison caught all three targets for a paltry six yards. For perspective, fellow receiver Davante Adams had more receiving yards in Week 10 than these two combined for the last three weeks. They both cannot be trusted for fantasy purposes anymore, at least until they prove otherwise. Hopefully, they'll shape up during their Week 11 bye because they'll face the San Francisco 49ers' league-best pass defense in Week 12.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams got back on track in Week 10 against the Carolina Panthers. Adams hauled in seven of 10 targets for 118 yards. The Pro Bowl receiver benefited from the absence of Panthers' star corner James Bradberry (groin) as he worked the other Carolina corners for his third 100-yard receiving game this year. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only completed 17 passes in this one, but seven of them went to Adams. He's been the only trustworthy Green Bay wide receiver so far and has double-digit targets in back-to-back games. Adams will enjoy a bye week and then will take on a tough San Francisco 49ers Defense in Week 12.
Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders S Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring) remains without a timetable to return, but his hamstring injury is not considered to be season-ending, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook (shoulder, neck) is expected to practice Monday, Nov. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Westbrook sat out Week 9 in London against the Houston Texans, but the bye apparently gave him all the time he needed to heal. He'll be returning to Nick Foles as the starting quarterback - a notable development considering the pair had great chemistry this summer. Assuming he and Foles can stay healthy, Westbrook stands a good chance of returning WR3 value down the stretch.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) is tentatively expected to return from a two-game absence and play in Week 11 versus the Cleveland Browns, according to comments made by head coach Mike Tomlin on Monday, Nov. 11.
Fantasy Spin: The Steelers play on Thursday this week, so owners won't have to wait very long to see if Tomlin's enthusiasm carries over to the field. In two full games as James Conner's replacement, Jaylen Samuels has rushed for 39 yards on 22 carries, so it is safe to say he didn't exactly put heat on him. Of more concern to Conner is Pittsburgh's inability to block well in the running game and a passing game that is doing just enough to get by. Consider Conner an RB2 for now, even in a favorable matchup.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams had a decent day on the ground in his team's Week 10 win. The 24-year-old tallied 13 carries, the same number as backfield mate Aaron Jones, and 63 rushing yards. The 13 carries were his second-highest total this year, as he and Jones benefited from the run-heavy game script. It was nice to see Williams receive the same volume as Jones, though the latter hogged all the touchdowns. Williams, like Jones, didn't register a catch after logging four straight touchdown catches. Williams continues to be involved in Green Bay's offense heading into their Week 11 bye. They'll take on a stingy San Francisco 49ers Defense in Week 12.
Updating previous reports, Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (knee) was diagnosed with a knee sprain Monday, Nov. 11. He is not expected to miss significant time, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones bounced back from last week's dud in a big way. The 24-year-old picked up 93 rushing yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns in his team's 24-16 win over the Carolina Panthers. Jones sliced and diced through the Carolina defense all afternoon and was a touchdown machine in the red zone yet again. It's his second game this year with at least three touchdowns scored. The former UTEP star didn't register a target, but this may have been a result of the Panthers' run-funnel defense. Jones and the Packers head into a bye week before taking on a stingy San Francisco 49ers Defense.
New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) is considered week to week with a hamstring strain.
Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper (knee) will have an MRI on his knee Monday, Nov. 11, and he's expected to miss time. The MRI will determine how much he'll miss.
Fantasy Spin: Hooper is having a breakout season with a 56-608-6 line. Luke Stocker has no fantasy value if Hooper is forced out of action for a prolonged period.
Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (foot) will have an MRI Monday, Nov. 11, to determine the severity of his foot sprain.
Fantasy Spin: Freeman has been a disappointment with a 107-371-0 rushing line and a 38-282-3 receiving line. Brian Hill rushed 20 times for 61 yards in Week 10, and he could be a flex candidate if Freeman is out for a prolonged period. Snag him off waivers either way.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a quiet day against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10. Rodgers completed 17 of 29 passes for 233 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. With a lead at halftime, the Packers were content to run the ball in the second half- that explains why Rodgers had his fewest pass attempts since Week 3. The veteran quarterback proved earlier in the year that he can still win games for the Packers with his arm when needed. He'll have better fantasy days. Rodgers and the Pack will head into their Week 11 bye with their next matchup a Week 12 date with the San Francisco 49ers' number-one pass defense.