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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier says he plans to play football again after spinal injury



PITTSBURGH — In his first interview since suffering a severe spinal injury in early December, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier said he plans to play football again.

“I’ve gotta get back, bro,” Shazier said on teammate Roosevelt Nix‘s podcast, which was posted to social media Tuesday night.

Shazier touched on several topics in the podcast, including his desire to become a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Shazier, 25, underwent spinal stabilization surgery Dec. 6 after a tackling attempt on Monday Night Football in Cincinnati left him clutching his lower back. He was rushed to a local hospital and eventually transported to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Shazier has utilized a wheelchair but is making progress in his rehab and was cleared for outpatient care on Feb. 1.

The way Shazier sees it, all of his football goals are still in front of him. He’s still salty about the All-Pro snub.

“I really feel I’m the best linebacker ever,” Shazier said. “I just have to be back out there so everybody can see it. You know what I’m saying?”

Steelers teammates and coaches have admired Shazier’s determination and positive outlook since the injury. General manager Kevin Colbert said last week that Shazier is in the team facility five days a week working out and breaking down film with scouts.

“Never once has he said, ‘Why me?'” Colbert said.

Earlier this month, Shazier stood in front of the PPG Paints Arena crowd during a Pittsburgh Penguins game — “I felt everybody needed to see that,” he said — and also posted a picture of himself standing with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

He’s proud of that one.

“People were thinking Ben was supporting me, too — he barely was even holding me,” Shazier said on the podcast.

Shazier outlined several off-field goals, including potentially returning to college, owning a company or becoming the general manager of an NFL team. For now, he’s busy impressing his therapists.

“I’m really trusting the process and I know the end goal, so I’m taking every step of the way,” Shazier said. “My therapists are like, man … the progression they [usually] see every week, they see every day.”

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Source — San Francisco 49ers believe George Kittle will return for Week 3



San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is dealing with a sprained MCL in his left knee that would sideline most players for a few weeks, but the belief is that he will be ready to return for Week 3 against the New York Giants, a league source told ESPN.

An MRI on Monday revealed the damage to Kittle’s MCL, but he was spotted around the Niners’ training facility this past week walking without a limp, bolstering the belief — and hope — that he will be back for Week 3.

While the 49ers will be without Kittle on Sunday, they will rely more on tight ends Jordan Reed and Ross Dwelley. Reed played 10 snaps in San Francisco’s season opener against Arizona and could see his playing time doubled Sunday against the New York Jets, while Dwelley had seven catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns in the two games last season that Kittle missed.

But beyond their tight ends, the 49ers also will be getting two other reinforcements. Recently signed wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who played under Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta, is expected to make his San Francisco debut Sunday, according to a source.

The Niners also should get back rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the first-round pick who is expected to make his NFL debut Sunday after missing the opener with a hamstring injury.

Kittle, who was ruled out Friday, will stay in the Bay Area this weekend to rehab and rejoin the team at The Greenbrier resort in Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, next week to prepare for the Week 3 game against the Giants.

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NFL Week 2 fantasy football inactives watch — Who’s in and who’s out?



To help you set your fantasy football lineups and to avoid starting a player who won’t be in the lineup, we’ll post fantasy-relevant updates and analysis here as NFL teams release their inactives, typically about 90 minutes before kickoff. Any rankings cited in this column come from our ESPN Fantasy staff ranks.

Refresh often for the latest information.

1 p.m. ET games


Phillip Lindsay, RB, DEN: Toe — OUT
Impact: Melvin Gordon III should get the bulk of carries.

Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN: Shoulder — Questionable
Impact: Gametime call. KJ Hamler is expected to get action either way.

Kenny Golladay, WR, DET: Hamstring — OUT
Impact: Quintez Cephus is expected to once again lead the team in targets.

Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, GB: Knee — OUT/IR
Impact: Malik Taylor will be the team’s No. 4 WR.

Zach Pascal, WR, IND: Ankle — Questionable
Impact: Fully practiced on Friday. His fantasy value rises if Pittman can’t go.

Michael Pittman Jr., WR, IND: Toe — Questionable
Impact: Gametime call for who is, at best, the team’s No. 3 WR.

Jack Doyle, TE, IND: Ankle — OUT
Impact: Mo Alie-Cox becomes the team’s top TE option.

Gerald Everett, TE, LAR: Back — Questionable
Impact: Fully expected to be on the field as a supplement to Tyler Higbee.

DeVante Parker, WR, MIA: Hamstring — Questionable
Impact: Limited in practice all week. Preston Williams may step up.

Golden Tate, WR, NYG: Hamstring — Questionable
Impact: Practiced late in week. Could see time as team’s No. 3 WR.

La’Mical Perine, RB, NYJ: Ankle — Questionable
Impact: With Le’Veon Bell on IR, Perine could spell Frank Gore if needed.

Jamison Crowder, WR, NYJ: Hamstring — OUT
Impact: Braxton Berrios is tabbed to step in for him.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, PHI: Foot — OUT
Impact: DeSean Jackson/Jalen Reagor to handle starting WR duties going forward.

George Kittle, TE, SF: Knee — OUT
Impact: Jordan Reed gets a huge fantasy value boost.

Deebo Samuel, WR, SF: Foot — OUT/IR
Impact: Brandon Aiyuk could have a breakout game. Mohamed Sanu Sr. debuts.

Chris Godwin, WR, TB: Concussion — OUT
Impact: Thankfully, Mike Evans (hamstring) is ready to start.

Darrynton Evans, RB, TEN: Hamstring — OUT
Impact: If anything happens to Derrick Henry, Senorise Perry becomes relevant.

A.J. Brown, WR, TEN: Knee — OUT
Impact: Corey Davis becomes No. 1 WR. Kalif Raymond rises.


Matt Milano, LB, BUF: Hamstring — OUT

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, BUF: Shoulder — OUT

Del’Shawn Phillips, LB, BUF: Quad — OUT

Kawann Short, DT, CAR: Foot — OUT

Khalil Mack, LB, CHI: Knee — Questionable

Anthony Brown, CB, DAL: Ribs — OUT/IR

Nick Williams, DE, DET: Shoulder — Questionable

Desmond Trufant, CB, DET: Hamstring — OUT

Kenny Clark, DT, GB: Groin — OUT

Justin Houston, DE, IND: Calf — Questionable

Elandon Roberts, LB, MIA: Concussion — OUT

Cameron Dantzler, CB, MIN: Ribs — OUT

Avery Williamson, LB, NYJ: Hamstring — Questionable

Tarell Basham, LB, NYJ: Hip — Questionable

Brandon Graham, DE, PHI: Concussion — Questionable

Derek Barnett, DE, PHI: Hamstring — Questionable

Jason Verrett, CB, SF: Hamstring — OUT

Malcolm Butler, CB, TEN: Quad — Questionable

4 p.m. ET games


Maxx Williams, TE, ARI: Ankle — OUT
Impact: Dan Arnold shouldn’t have to see another workload split this week.

Justice Hill, RB, BAL: Thigh — Questionable
Impact: J.K. Dobbins did well enough in Week 1 to displace Hill.

Chris Moore, WR, BAL: Finger — OUT
Impact: Might not be ready to go in time for Week 3.

Duke Johnson, RB, HOU: Ankle — Questionable
Impact: Progressing well and could be ready to spell David Johnson.

Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU: Quad — Questionable
Impact: Randall Cobb may see an uptick in targets if Cooks is limited.

Justin Jackson, RB, LAC: Quad — Doubtful
Impact: Joshua Kelley becomes the secondary option behind Austin Ekeler.


Charvarius Ward, CB, KC: Hand — OUT

Kendall Fuller, CB, WSH: Knee — Questionable

Sunday night game

New England Patriots

Julian Edelman, WR, NE: Knee — Questionable
Impact: No expectation other than he will be able to play.

N’Keal Harry, WR, NE: Shoulder — Questionable
Impact: Also should play with no issues. Damiere Byrd is on deck.

Adam Butler, DT, NE: Shoulder — Questionable

Brandon Copeland, LB, NE: Knee — Questionable

Seattle Seahawks

Phillip Dorsett II, WR, SEA: Foot — Questionable
Impact: Don’t count on him getting on the field. Pick up David Moore if you need a late pivot.

Official Sunday inactives should begin coming in at approximately 11:30 a.m. ET for the early games and 2:30 p.m. ET for the late games.

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Jets’ perpetual rebuild is stunting Sam Darnold’s development – New York Jets Blog



FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:

1. Not-so-sweet 16: When Breshad Perriman and Chris Hogan made their first receptions last week, they became the 15th and 16th different wide receivers to catch passes from Sam Darnold in his 27-game career. That’s a lot of turnover for any quarterback, let alone a young, developing player.

More troubling than the quantity is the lack of quality. Of the 16, only two posted a 1,000-yard season in his career — Demaryius Thomas (five times) and Terrelle Pryor (once), both of whom were on their last legs by the time they got to the Jets.

What a shame. The Jets have a talented quarterback, and they’re stunting his growth by surrounding him with replacement-level talent. It’s an old story. This is a franchise that hasn’t drafted a Pro Bowl receiver since Keyshawn Johnson (1996) and hasn’t drafted a 1,000-yard receiver since Jerricho Cotchery (2004).

It’s unfair to slam general manager Joe Douglas because he has had one offseason to address the issue, but let’s be honest: He left Darnold short at the position.

The Perriman-for-Robby Anderson swap in free agency was a downgrade in talent that saved $5.5 million in 2020 cash. Worth it? Not so far.

Douglas drafted only one receiver, second-round pick Denzel Mims, who might be terrific if his hamstrings ever let him get on the field. It was one of the richest receiver drafts in history. Instead of using a fourth-round pick on developmental quarterback James Morgan, who might never see the field, he should have tapped into the loaded draft for a second receiver.

It wasn’t a great free-agent class, but it’s worth noting three of the most productive receivers in Week 1 changed teams in the offseason — Anderson (Carolina Panthers), DeAndre Hopkins (trade to Arizona Cardinals) and Stefon Diggs (trade to Buffalo Bills). In other words, big-time talent was on the move and could have been had.

Yes, the Jets have been beset by injuries, but this was a suspect cast of characters before players started going down. Now slot receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring), the Jets’ only reliable target, is banged up and won’t play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

It’s a tough spot for Darnold, but he can’t let the adversity affect his decision-making, which happened last week. Maybe, in a few weeks, he can have Perriman, Crowder and Mims on the field together. Even then, it’s hardly ideal, although Darnold disputed the notion he lacks playmakers.

“That’s not true at all,” he said. “We have really good playmakers.”

Clearly, Douglas is building the team with a long-term view, which is fine, but the part that doesn’t square is that he hasn’t fully maximized the window on Darnold’s rookie contract by getting him better targets. They should explore a trade for Allen Robinson of the Chicago Bears — not for a first-round pick, obviously, but there could be a creative way to get something done. Will the Jets do it? Doubt it.

2. Poetry (not) in motion: Two different styles of offense will be on display at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Coach Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers are known for their pre-snap motion and shifts. The Jets, not so much. For the most part, Jets coach Adam Gase runs a static offense, meaning the players are stationary.

In Week 1, the Jets ran one play with motion at the snap, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. They ran 11 plays with motion/set at the snap and 41 with no motion at all, the ninth-highest total in the league.

In 2019, the ratios were pretty much the same. For instance: 697 plays with no motion, seventh highest. Gase’s numbers were in the middle of the pack during his three seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

Motion is a terrific way to create a favorable matchup or confuse the defense. On the flip side, some coaches believe it can make it harder for the quarterback to read the defense. Former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Damien Woody called out Gase for his lack of creativity:

Gase said the decision to incorporate motion into the offense is made on a week-to-week basis, adding, “We’re built a little different [than the 49ers]. The whole offense is built to be kind of an on-the-ball, no-huddle-type deal, so you don’t want to motion a lot. You want to get up and go.”

That might provide some insight on why the Jets are … well, standing in place, which doesn’t mean they should be spinning their wheels.

3. Chris-crossing: Jets CEO Christopher Johnson’s effusive praise of Gase became the headline out of his 15-minute session with reporters on Wednesday, overshadowing his mea culpa on the decision to retain general manager Mike Maccagnan after the 2018 season — then waiting five months to fire him. It’s old news and everybody knows he messed up, so it wasn’t exactly a revelatory moment — but it deserves to be studied through a larger prism.

By admitting he lacked decisiveness on the Maccagnan decision, Johnson has opened himself up to this fair question: Can he be trusted to make the right decision on Gase?

If the Jets are horrible, it’s a no-brainer. But what if there’s some good, some bad — basically, a repeat of last season?

Food for thought.



Le’Veon Bell is expected to miss three weeks, but Field Yates does not see this as a reason to start Frank Gore.

4. Did you know? Look! I found a positive stat on the Jets. Going back to last season, Week 7, only two teams have more wins than the Jets (three) when tied or trailing in the fourth quarter — the Tennessee Titans (five) and Houston Texans (four).

Go ahead, wrap your arms around that.

5. Taco Bell: During last week’s telecast of Jets-Bills, CBS’ Andrew Catalon shared a nugget given to him by Gase in their production meeting: Running back Le’Veon Bell dropped 24 pounds from last season. That means, based on his current weight (210), he weighed as much as 234 pounds in 2019, about 10 above his listed weight. As I reported at the end of the season, Bell’s conditioning was a concern within the organization. But I had no idea his weight had crept up that high.

6. Gore-y detail: With Bell (hamstring) on injured reserve, running back Frank Gore will start against the team that drafted him — way, way back in 2005. One of his 49ers teammates that year was defensive end Andre Carter, now the Jets’ defensive line coach. Gore, 37, has been around so long that you wonder if he drove a Hupmobile.

7. Gone in a flash: Few Jets fans will remember that 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, coming off a monster postseason, was a member of the Jets’ practice squad in 2016. His audition lasted six days. It was so nondescript that the position coach at the time, Marcel Shipp, told me in January he had no recollection of Mostert. The personnel department liked his speed and toughness, but there was concern about a fumbling problem.

Mostert, a classic story of a talented player who fell between the cracks, is doing quite well for himself. In the opener, he scored on a 76-yard reception, reaching a top speed of 22.73 mph — the fastest speed of any ball carrier over the past three seasons, per NFL Next Gen Stats data.

Well, the ’16 Jets got one thing right — dude is fast.

8. The last word: “I’m going to want to see this team progress. Hopefully, that won’t be too hard from that first game,” — Johnson, half-jokingly, on how he will formulate an evaluation of Gase.

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