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Packers’ Aaron Rodgers plans to play after ‘good news’ on scans


GREEN BAY, Wis. — Life without Aaron Rodgers will have to wait.

Two days after the Green Bay Packers quarterback left Sunday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles with a rib injury, he said he expects to play this week against the Chicago Bears.

“I got good news with the scans yesterday,” Rodgers said Tuesday on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “So, I plan on playing this week.”

Rodgers initially feared he might have a punctured lung, but that was quickly ruled out. He had X-rays at Lincoln Financial Field to see whether he had fractured ribs but indicated that they were inconclusive, and he would undergo additional tests back in Green Bay on Monday.

He did not say what Monday’s tests showed. Earlier this season, Rodgers kept it a secret for weeks that his right thumb injury was a broken thumb.

On Monday, coach Matt LaFleur said that Rodgers would play this week if he were healthy rather than going to Jordan Love, who was productive in relief against the Eagles.

Before departing with his injury on Sunday, Rodgers completed 11 of 16 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions during the Packers’ 40-33 loss to the Eagles. Love replaced him in the game and in two drives went 6-of-9 for 113 yards and a touchdown, with the Packers totaling 10 points while he was at the helm.

Still, the Packers lost for the seventh time in their past eight games and fell to 4-8 with five games to go, prompting talk that the Packers might move on to Love for the rest of this season.

“We’re not eliminated,” Rodgers said on Tuesday’s show. “We got a chance to run the last five and see where we stand after that. That’s the focus for me. I might miss practice on Wednesday, might not be a full contributor, but that’s kind of been standard for the last six, seven weeks [and then] go to one of my favorite places to play down in Chicago and hopefully get a big win, get into the bye week and get healthy and let’s see where we can get to.”

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Colts’ Jeff Saturday says he wishes he had used a late timeout


INDIANAPOLIS — Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday, in a reversal from his postgame comments on Monday night, said Tuesday that he had regrets about the team’s handling of a late-game scenario in a 24-17 loss to the Steelers.

Saturday declined to call a timeout before a key third-down play, opting to stick with a predetermined playcall the team had dialed up. The Colts were hoping to catch the Steelers in a suboptimal personnel grouping that would have given themselves an advantage.

Ultimately, the Colts struggled to get lined up quickly, allowing the clock to roll and giving the Steelers a chance to regroup. Pittsburgh stuffed running back Jonathan Taylor for no gain on the third-and-3 play from the 26-yard line with 30 seconds left.

“I wish I had that third down back and, in all honesty, wish I’d used the timeout,” Saturday said. “Just looking at it on film … from a time perspective, I felt good. But you could tell we were in disarray. I just didn’t have a great feeling.”

Part of that disarray, Saturday said, was the reality that the third-down playcall required the wide receivers to line up in different spots than the previous play. By the time that got sorted out, the play clock was ticking down.

The entire situation put Saturday and new playcaller Parks Frazier under a microscope as both men were in their third games in their new roles. Former coach Frank Reich, who was fired last month, was previously the Colts’ playcaller.

“It’s a learning experience,” Saturday said.

The Colts had all three of their timeouts remaining before the third-down play. With the Colts trailing by seven, the ball was snapped with 34 seconds remaining. That means 25 seconds elapsed between the previous snap and the time the Colts got around to snapping the ball on third down. That wasn’t what the team had in mind. The intent, Saturday said, was to play with a quicker tempo in that situation to take advantage of the defense perhaps being caught off-guard.

“That’s on me [not] understanding, what personnel is in the game, what formations we were in, and guys getting back to their natural positions of where they’re gonna line up.

“I was like, ‘Man, let’s go get this first down really quick. Keep them on their heels without substitution.’ … I thought we had the advantage, but unfortunately, we should have hit the timeout, give us our best play, best opportunity.”

“I wish I had that third down back and, in all honesty, wish I’d used the timeout. Just looking at it on film … from a time perspective, I felt good. But you could tell we were in disarray. I just didn’t have a great feeling.”

Jeff Saturday

Among the Colts’ concerns was the Steelers potentially changing to a heavier-personnel grouping for the short-yardage situation. On the previous play, a second-and-17, the Steelers were in a pass-defense posture, dropping six men into coverage.

But the long delay between snaps allowed the Steelers to regroup and, it seems, get a good read on the Colts’ intentions. Pittsburgh outside linebacker Alex Highsmith said he could sense from the Colts’ formation that the play was likely to be a run. As soon as the ball was snapped, Highsmith darted inside, never attempting to rush around the edge. The unexpected inside move caught rookie tight end Jelani Woods by surprise, allowing Highsmith to easily make the tackle on Taylor.

The Colts attempted a pass to Parris Campbell on the ensuing fourth down that was incomplete, and the Steelers took possession and ran out the clock.

Other factors outside the failure to call a timeout also affected the situation. Quarterback Matt Ryan’s decision to give himself up on the second-down play didn’t help. Ryan resourcefully escaped the pocket and scrambled for 14 yards. But he dived short of the first-down marker rather than take on two defenders in front of him. Had the Colts achieved a first down on the play, they almost certainly would have called a timeout and would have proceeded differently.

The Colts players themselves also could have used more of a sense of urgency on the final possession. A lack of focus might have contributed to the “disarray” that Saturday observed while watching the film.

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Some women who settled lawsuits vs. Deshaun Watson to attend game


HOUSTON — With nearly all of the more than two dozen lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson having been settled, most of the women who accused the Cleveland quarterback of sexual misconduct have no interest in his return to Houston on Sunday and just want to move on with their lives, according to their attorney.

Attorney Tony Buzbee said about 10 of the women who accused Watson of sexual harassment and assault during massages are planning to attend Sunday’s game at Houston’s NRG Stadium, where the Browns will take on the Texans, and watch him play in his return from an 11- game suspension.

Some of the women really want to attend the game “to kind of make the statement, ‘Hey, we’re still here. We matter. Our voice was heard, and this is not something that’s over. [Sexual harassment and assault] happen every day in the United States,'” Buzbee said.

The women declined to comment ahead of Sunday’s game, he said.

An NFL spokesperson also did not immediately reply to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Watson was still with the Texans when more than 20 women alleged he exposed himself, touched them or kissed them against their will during massage therapy sessions. One woman alleged that Watson forced her to have oral sex.

Twenty-five women represented by Buzbee filed lawsuits. One woman dropped her lawsuit when required to amend her claim to include her name to proceed, and 23 others settled their cases in August. In July, 30 women who had accused the Texans of turning a blind eye to allegations against their former star quarterback settled their legal claims against the team.

Watson, who was traded to the Browns in March, has long denied any wrongdoing, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him.

Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lead attorney, declined to comment on Watson’s return to Houston, citing confidentiality agreements from the settled lawsuits.

One woman represented by Buzbee declined to settle, and he expects the case will go to trial.

The latest pending lawsuit was filed last month by a woman who alleges that Watson pressured her into oral sex.

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Cowboys unfazed by Odell Beckham Jr. incident


FRISCO, Texas — Odell Beckham Jr.’s removal from an American Airlines flight at Miami International Airport on Sunday will have no bearing on the Dallas Cowboys’ interest in the free agent wide receiver, according to owner and general manager Jerry Jones.

“His overall team compatibility, his judgment, his behavior is not an issue with him,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “It is with many. It isn’t with him.”

On Monday, Mike McCarthy said, “I think we’re moving full steam ahead,” when asked the same question.

Police said Beckham was “in and out of consciousness” and refused to leave the plane when asked. His attorney, Daniel Davillier, disputed the account, saying his client had been sleeping and the incident was the result of an “overzealous flight attendant.”

Jones said Beckham is scheduled to meet with the Cowboys on Monday, which is after he is reportedly set to meet with the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.

“If you look at what precedes us before getting here physically, coming to visit, I like that,” Jones said. “As two other teams, we don’t have anything to step back on that.”

Jones said there could be “intermittent” talks with Beckham before he visits. After the Thanksgiving win against the Giants, Jones said he had spoken with the wide receiver and that Beckham was “very genuine. Very competitive. Feels confident. Feels good about himself. I think he breeds confidence but yet very, very just compatible. We I’d think he’d fit in really well with us.”

Beckham is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the Super Bowl while with the Los Angeles Rams. The Cowboys have not been shy about their feelings regarding Beckham, but Jones made it clear that the addition of the receiver is about 2022, not just the future.

“We have to have this year. It’s very important,” Jones said. “This year has to be a big part of it … We have almost the whole show ahead of us, but we’ve got to have a situation where we can really contribute now.”

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Bears safety Eddie Jackson put on IR with a foot injury


CHICAGO — The Bears placed safety Eddie Jackson on injured reserve Tuesday after he sustained a foot injury against the Jets.

Jackson went down Sunday with a non-contact injury while defending quarterback Mike White’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson with 5:09 remaining in the second quarter. The Bears had single-high coverage with Jackson back deep. The safety went down at Chicago’s 30-yard line while backpedaling before planting his foot in the turf.

The 29-year-old safety has four interceptions through 12 games, which is tied for the third-most in the NFL. Jackson had two tackles and a pass defended against the Jets at the time of his injury.

The Bears promoted safety AJ Thomas from the practice squad on Tuesday. Chicago also signed free-agent safety Adrian Colbert, agents Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Wide receiver Darnell Mooney, who is likely to undergo season-ending ankle surgery, according to coach Matt Eberflus, was also placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

Mooney is Chicago’s leading receiver through 12 games with 40 receptions for 493 yards and two touchdowns.

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LB Jahlani Tavai, Patriots agree to 2-year extension


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Linebacker Jahlani Tavai, who has developed into a productive starter on the New England Patriots’ defense after not panning out with the Detroit Lions, has agreed to a two-year, $4.4 million contract extension with the team, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

Tavai has played in 11 games this season, with seven starts, and has totaled 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

His versatility to play both inside and outside linebacker roles has helped him carve out a productive role, as he’s played 52.4% of the defensive snaps this year.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for Tavai, 26, who entered the NFL as a highly touted second-round draft choice of the Lions in 2019.

Tavai, who had starred in college at Hawaii, lasted just two seasons in Detroit. He was a favorite of then-head coach Matt Patricia, the longtime New England assistant, and ultimately followed Patricia to the Patriots in 2021. Tavai initially was a member of the Patriots’ practice squad that season before he was signed to the 53-man roster early in the year, playing mostly as a backup.

This year, the 6-foot-2, 246-pound Tavai has teamed with starter Ja’Whaun Bentley to form an early-down 1-2 combination, while also playing a key role on the punt-protection unit.

Tavai will also receive an $850,000 signing bonus, and his cap charge increases by $383,000 this season.

The Patriots (6-5) host the Bills (8-3) on Thursday night. In each of the last two matchups between the teams, the Patriots’ defense has not forced the Bills to punt.

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The Kenny Pickett era was blooming after the quarterback’s full-circle win in Indianapolis


INDIANAPOLIS — For a brief moment Monday night, Kenny Pickett traveled back in time. As he walked onto the turf at Lucas Oil Field, Pickett drifted back to eight months earlier when he made the same walk across the field, not as the Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback but as a top prospect in the 2022 NFL draft.

On the same field where he took the test he’d been studying for his entire life at February’s NFL combine, impressing teams with his accuracy, speed and mobility, Pickett won his first NFL road game and completed his first fourth-quarter comeback with a 24-17 victory against the Indianapolis Colts.

“You walk out, you remember all the drills you went through, throwing out there for the combine, and then you snap back into trying to go win a football game,” Pickett said Monday night. “I felt comfortable on the road here and working the silent count and having great communication with the guys. I think my previous experience has only helped me in this game.”

Pickett spent four days in Indianapolis for the annual combine, where all 32 teams pick over and analyze the best prospects of the draft class. Because of his familiarity with the Pitt quarterback, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn’t spend much time with Pickett — whom the team eventually drafted No. 20 overall as the first quarterback off the board — but that didn’t make the combine gauntlet any less stressful as Pickett met with other quarterback-needy teams in intensive job interviews to become their next franchise star.

For Pickett, the short trip was a whirlwind. A 10-hour day at the hospital near the stadium for diagnostic tests and physicals to document every previous injury and potential medical concern. Then team interviews, formal and informal. And then the media scrums where he was peppered with questions about his below-average hand size. And finally, the testing.

“It was a blur,” Pickett told ESPN. “You train your entire offseason, and I’ve been doing the combine stuff back to when I was in, like, eighth grade getting ready for the camps and stuff. You’ve been training a long time to get ready for it. So you want to be at your optimal performance. … You just got to stay ready for long periods of time. So I just remember the time in between certain things, trying to stay warm, trying to stay ready, like that was always the battle I fell like I was fighting.”

Pickett grew familiar with the long carpeted hallway mazes of the Indianapolis Convention Center and the interconnected indoor walkways, moving from one end to another for meetings and to get to and from his hotel and the stadium. He threw warm-up passes next to a set of escalators, and in his brief moments of down time, he hung out in the convention center suite rented out by Team Test, Pickett’s training facility, which housed foam rollers and Theraguns, along with couches , speakers — usually playing country music — and a television. But amid the chaos of the combine, Pickett was still focused on his goal of establishing himself as the best quarterback in the class.

“He has that kind of military [mindset], like he’s just laser-focused and he’s so nonemotional, which is great because there are no highs and lows with him,” said Tony Racioppi, Pickett’s longtime quarterbacks coach. “He’s just so focused on the job and the goal that nothing waves him , you know, good or bad. That’s the reason he’s going to be a great pro for a long time.”

Pickett ran the 40-yard dash at the combine, recording a 4.73 on the turf at Lucas Oil Field in a drill run by longtime Steelers scout Mark Gorsack. That was the moment when it sunk in that he was really living his dream.

“It probably hit me when I went to get on the line for the 40,” Pickett said. “I remember sitting on the couch all the time with my dad every year watching that growing up. So when I hit that line, it was, like, dead silent in there. You’re like, ‘Oh s—, like , this it, I’m running the 40.’ But besides that, once you get to throwing routes and stuff, like, that’s where I’m comfortable.”

Monday night, Pickett continued to show he was comfortable at Lucas Oil Stadium, picking up right where he left off in the combine as he completed 20 of 28 attempts for 174 yards. Continuing to develop in his mastery of the offense and in his relationships with his receivers, Pickett showed poise under pressure and delivered crisp passes in the game’s most crucial moments.

On what turned out to be the Steelers’ winning drive, Pickett connected on three significant throws: a third-down strike to George Pickens over the middle for a 13-yard gain as the Colts brought pressure, an 8-yard throw to Diontae Johnson as the Colts were blitzing and a short throw to tight end Pat Freiermuth that turned into a 17-yard gain on third-and-6. Three plays later, backup running back Benny Snell Jr. found the end zone, and Pickett put an exclamation point on the scoring drive with a scramble-drill connection to Pickens for a successful two-point conversion.

“He’s always had that swagger,” Pickens said. “You see the hair [style]like he already got the swag, he already got that type of competitiveness.

“… I always felt like he’s been a great player. I always felt like he had that grittiness to him. That’s really what UGA bred me on. So, like, that’s the first thing I fell in love with, just [Pickett’s] hard tenacity. He’ll never quit, which is what I love. Sometimes the game and the circumstances don’t add up, but, like, he’ll never quit.”

It was the kind of game — and game-winning drive — that only reaffirmed the Steelers’ belief in Pickett, who has experienced his growing pains in the spotlight since taking over the starting job at halftime of the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets. But after a rocky start in which he committed nine turnovers and threw two touchdowns in his first five games, Pickett has gone three games without having a pass intercepted. The Steelers have won two of those three games.

“He’s getting better every week, and it’s in a very natural way because of experience,” Tomlin said. “He’s a competitor, he’s smart. But it’s still a lot of meat on the bone and it’s just the process. He’s good enough and we’re good enough to win while that happens. We’re not grading him or us on a curve . We’re acknowledging he’s very much in development. With each snap comes exposure, and sharp guys that are competitors, they grow from those things.”

To Tomlin, Pickett’s development isn’t mysterious. It’s exactly what he expected to see from him, even if it hasn’t been on the timeline he initially planned. And Monday night, in the place where he took a significant step in his football journey, Pickett took another major step towards becoming the quarterback the Steelers thought he could be when they watched him throw the football on the same field eight months earlier.

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NFL Nation Fantasy Fallout – What to make of Zay Jones


Our NFL Nation reporters answer fantasy football questions every Tuesday during the NFL season. Here’s what they had to say following Week 12.

How do you think the target distribution between DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore and Marquise Brown looks when all three are active?

If I had to rank them off the bat, it’d go Hopkins, Brown and Moore. It might not look like that in real time because of how defenses tend to roll coverage to Hopkins from the onset, leaving Brown and Moore open earlier. It’s tough to attach a percentage to the three of them, but Hopkins and Brown would have closer percentages than Moore, who plays behind the line of scrimmage more than the other two. Brown is more capable of making bigger plays than the other two, so he might not see as many balls as Hopkins or Moore, but his impact might be greater. And then there’s Hopkins, who’s unquestionably the Cardinals’ go-to WR1. He can carry an offense by himself (which he has) and that can easily lead to 10 or 12 targets (even more at times), especially if the other two get going. — Josh Weinfuss

Something or nothing: Isaiah McKenzie sees twice as many targets as Gabe Davis and leads the team in receiving (96 yards) on Thanksgiving in Detroit.

It’s something, but more for McKenzie than Davis. McKenzie went through a slower stretch, going six straight games without over 50 receiving yards, but his 96 receiving yards on 10 targets and six receptions, in addition to a touchdown, against the Lions was a step in the right direction. Coach Sean McDermott said McKenzie put in two good weeks of practice prior to the game, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bills try to continue to involve him against a Patriots team he had success against last year. Davis has seen consistent targets and will continue to, especially with a number of injuries at the position. — Alaina Getzenberg

Tight end is a tough spot to fill. Are you buying Hayden Hurst (nine targets, tied for the team lead) as a viable option when Ja’Marr Chase returns?

I’m selling. Hurst’s target share has been volatile throughout the season. Over the past six weeks, Hurst has surpassed five targets on just two occasions. With QB Joe Burrow playing better against Cover 2 looks than he was earlier in the season, it’s hard to start Hurst with any production reliability. He is a vertical threat and can make plays in the passing game, though, so anyone in a pinch looking for a TE can find worse options on the waiver wire. — Leg Baby

Michael Gallup saw a season-high eight targets on Thanksgiving. Can he regain something close to his 2019 form that saw him go over 1,100 receiving yards?

After the Thanksgiving win vs. the New York Giants, Gallup said he is past the mental hurdle in his return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. His play the past two games certainly suggests that. He is making difficult catches when draped by defenders. And Dak Prescott trusts him. He is the Cowboys’ best deep-ball threat with his ability to go up over a defender. It has taken him some time to get back in shape, but his timing couldn’t be better. Whether the Cowboys add Odell Beckham Jr. or not, they need this play from Gallup, especially as CeeDee Lamb, who has two 100-yard games in the past three outings, starts to warm up. — Todd Archer

With 19 catches over the past two games for Zay Jones, is it safe to call him a PPR factor the rest of the way?

Sure, as long as you’re not expecting nine catches every week. Jones has a career-high 58 catches so far this season, but 28 of those catches have come in three games. Still, he has had at least five targets in 10 of the Jaguars’ 11 games and has surpassed Marvin Jones Jr. as the Jaguars’ No. 2 receiver behind Christian Kirk (even though Jones actually has two more catches than Kirk). — Michael DiRocco

If Rhamondre Stevenson has a full season as the lead back, what would you project for carry and catch totals (six-plus catches in four of his past five games)?

Stevenson has played 68.4% of the offensive snaps. Since Week 2, he has played 40 or more snaps in every game but one. So this provides a good foundation to project his numbers over a full season — give him in the range of 240 carries, 1,200 rushing yards and 75-80 receptions. Bill Belichick has gushed about the dramatic rate of growth since he arrived in April 2021. — Mike Reiss

With under 55 rushing yards in three of four and under 15 receiving yards in four straight for Saquon Barkley, do you think the heavy usage early in the season is a concern for the fantasy playoffs?

Not really. Barkley’s recent dip probably has more to do with shuffling on the offensive line than his heavy work rate. If anything, Barkley should have seen a little spike post-bye. Instead, it has been a struggle, but not because he lacks explosion. It’s because he lacks room to run with teams selling out to stop him. — Jordan Raanan

Let’s assume it’s Mike White for the rest of the regular season. Give us a Garrett Wilson projection (catches, yards, TDs) for the final six games.

The Jets’ six remaining opponents rank from 19th to 32nd in pass defense, including three teams in the bottom-8. With that in mind, Wilson should be able to finish with a flurry — let’s say 35 catches for 450 yards and five TDs. — Rich Cimini

Mike Evans has three straight games under 55 receiving yards, and seven straight without a score. Should fantasy managers hesitate before locking Evans into lineups moving forward?

Bucs coach Todd Bowles said Monday, “We’ve got to get them back on the same page. That struggle, it showed up yesterday. I’m not saying it was anybody’s fault, but it did show up yesterday and it showed up a few games before that. We’ve got to get that taken care of. That’s crucial for our success.” It boils down to the other receivers needing to step up — which we have seen from Chris Godwin in recent games, and Julio Jones if he can stay consistently healthy — but also Tom Brady and Mike Evans needed to fine-tune their connection because something’s been off. Whether or not that gets corrected this week will be largely predicated on if Evans has to face Marshon Lattimore, who has missed the last seven games with an abdominal injury. — Jenna Laine

It’s now three straight games with underwhelming efficiency for Derrick Henry (64 carries for 178 yards). Is that cause for concern or just a bump in the road?

Henry had a tough couple of games while center Ben Jones dealt with a concussion over the past two weeks. Without Jones, Henry averaged 0.8 yards per rush before first contact against the Bengals on Sunday, his second-lowest average in the past three seasons. Two weeks ago Henry averaged 0.9 yards per rush before contact last week against the Packers. He finished with only 38 yards on 17 carries against the Bengals. That was the second-lowest total for Henry when he had at least 15 carries in a game. Henry is now averaging a career-low 1.70 yards per rush before contact this season, ranking him 49th out of 53 qualified rushers in average yards before contact this season. — Turron Davenport

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Eagles’ CJ Gardner-Johnson has lacerated kidney


PHILADELPHIA — Eagles safety CJ Gardner-Johnson will be sidelined indefinitely with a lacerated kidney, a league source confirmed.

A decision on whether to place him on injured reserve has not yet been made, the source added, as they work to establish a timetable for his return.

Gardner-Johnson was injured late in the first quarter of the Eagles’ Sunday night game against the Packers following a collision across the middle with Green Bay receiver Christian Watson. He was doubled over in pain as he left the field before being carted inside and did not return to the game.

Gardner-Johnson was replaced in the lineup by undrafted rookie Reed Blankenship, who intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the red zone early in the second quarter of the Eagles’ 40-33 victory.

The NFL Network was first to report on Gardner-Johnson’s injury.

Blankenship earned a spot on the team after a strong summer and filled in admirably Sunday night. Still, the loss of Gardner-Johnson is a significant one for the Eagles. He is the league leader in interceptions with six, serving as one of the top playmakers for an Eagles defense that is No. 1 in the NFL in takeaways with 23.

The Eagles acquired Gardner-Johnson from the New Orleans Saints in August along with a 2025 seventh-round draft pick, for a 2023 fifth-round draft pick and the latter of their two sixth-round draft picks in 2024.

Prior to that acquisition, safety was widely considered to be the most questionable position on an otherwise loaded roster.

Gardner-Johnson, 24, made a successful transition from slot corner to safety upon arriving in Philadelphia. He has 11 interceptions and 36 passes defended over three-plus seasons with the Saints and Eagles.

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Denver Broncos facing the toughest stretch of their 2022 schedule – Denver Broncos Blog


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With plenty of woes already weighing them down after a 3-8 start to the Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett era, the Denver Broncos’ schedule is about to get even more difficult.

Over the last six weeks of the season, the Broncos have two games remaining with the Kansas City Chiefs, who lead the league in scoring at 29.6 points per game, to go with a game against the league’s No. 2 rushing teams in the Baltimore Ravens (Sunday). The Broncos also have the holiday double-dip with away games on Christmas (at Los Angeles Rams) and New Year’s Day (at Kansas City).

That doesn’t even include visits from the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15 and Week 18, respectively.

Denver remains the lowest-scoring offense (14.3 PPG) at this point in a season since the 2000 Cleveland Browns, who were shut out four times that season and one year removed from their expansion return to the league. Denver has just 157 points through 11 games.

“It’s unacceptable,” Wilson said. “This organisation, there’s tradition here… we’ve got to honor it. We’ve got to honor it by winning.”

The Broncos head into the final stretch with an offense perilously close to the lowest-scoring non-strike team in franchise history — the 1966 AFL Broncos that scored 196 points in a 14-game season (14.0 points per game).

“We are where we are, we’re 3-8,” said safety Justin Simmons after their seventh loss in the last eight games. “Not even close to where we thought we would be. It’s draining, but nobody cares… We’ve got to find ways to win football games.

“… It sucks to lose, it definitely wears on you, but no one cares. We get paid to win, we’re not winning, it’s that simple.”

Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers brought the latest, and one of the most visible outbursts, when defensive tackle Mike Purcell and Wilson had a heated sideline exchange that was caught on the broadcast.

“We are all here to do a job,” running back Latavius ​​Murray said. “Everybody wants to win and it’s frustrating, you have a job to do regardless of what the outcome is. You’ve got to take that into consideration when you’re showing frustration, whatever that is.”

“It’s about accountability, everybody’s got to see what they can do themselves to get better,” Hackett said. “ … All three phases and that starts with me.”

The Broncos have been, and still may be, a prime candidate for the age-old offense versus defense locker room split if the team’s offense doesn’t find a way to pick up the pace at least some. However, the Broncos defense has now surrendered a 100-yard rushing performance as well as a 100-yard receiving performance in each of the last two games.

They failed to close the deal against the Titans and Raiders in back-to-back games and have dropped to No. 3 in scoring defense with two dates with Patrick Mahomes still on the docket in the next five weeks to go with another former league MVP in Lamar Jackson this Sunday.

It’s why Simmons said of the team’s defense “honestly we don’t care about the numbers, the stat that goes out, the point thing, we didn’t play good enough to win.”

The postseason window is getting smaller and smaller, but players know the job’s not done until the final down is played this season.

“We’ve still got to come in and do our job every single day and if you don’t want to come in and do your job you probably shouldn’t be here anyway,” said linebacker Josey Jewell. “It’s a good time to determine who wants to be here and who doesn’t. It will show you who’s tough.”

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