NFL Notes: Bengals fire OC, Colts to start Brissett

The Sports Xchange

September 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm.

Sep 10, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett hands off the ball to running back Robert Turbin (33) during the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Photo Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 10, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett hands off the ball to running back Robert Turbin (33) during the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Photo Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the season 0-2 and failing to score a touchdown in the first eight quarters, the Cincinnati Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese.

The team confirmed the move hours after Thursday night’s dismal 13-9 loss to the Houston Texans. Current Bengals quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor, a former NFL offensive coordinator for three teams, was named Zampese’s replacement.

Zampese served as Bengals quarterbacks coach for 13 seasons before being named offensive coordinator in 2016 when Hue Jackson left to coach the Cleveland Browns. Last season under Zampese, the Bengals struggled to establish a consistent rushing attack and protect Andy Dalton who passed for 4,200 yards despite being sacked 41 times.

–The NFL filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Friday to seek a stay and allow the league to enforce its six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The league asked for a ruling by Tuesday but no later than Sept. 26 in a filing to stay the preliminary injunction that blocked Elliott’s suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

If the earlier date motion is granted, it would take Elliott off the field for the Week 3 game against the Arizona Cardinals. The later date would start the suspension in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams.

The emergency stay would allow the suspension to be enforced while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit considers whether to overturn the ruling that delays the appeal.

–The Indianapolis Colts are expected to start Jacoby Brissett at quarterback over Scott Tolzien in Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Brissett, acquired from the New England Patriots on Sept. 2, will start the Week 2 home game, according to multiple reports. The 24-year-old started two games for the Patriots last season during Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension following an injury to backup Jimmy Garoppolo.

Tolzien, 30, started the season opener last Sunday in his fourth career NFL start in place of Andrew Luck, who remains sidelined with a right shoulder injury. Tolzien was benched in the fourth quarter of a 46-9 loss at the Los Angeles Rams. He threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns and finished 9 of 18 for just 128 yards with four sacks before being replaced by Brissett, who was 2 of 3 for 51 yards.

–Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford has an ailing left knee and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bradford reportedly experienced pain and swelling in the knee after Monday’s victory over the New Orleans Saints. He underwent an MRI exam the following day.

The knee is the same one in which Bradford has undergone ACL surgery on two occasions — in 2013 and 2014.

–Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy was held out of practice with groin soreness but is expected to play in Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Coach Sean McDermott said he was planning to give McCoy a rest day Friday before the groin issue but remained “very confident” the veteran will be able to handle a full workload Sunday, according to ESPN.

The 29-year-old McCoy was listed as a full participant in practices on Wednesday and Thursday with a wrist injury suffered in last Sunday’s 21-12 victory over the New York Jets.

–New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who continues to nurse a sprained ankle, practiced on a limited basis for a second straight day.

Beckham was spotted leaping and jumping during team warmups, a key test for his healing ankle. He spent the part of practice open to the media doing some individual drills and working with a trainer.

The 24-year-old Beckham’s availability for Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions remains in question.

–The Oakland Raiders and left tackle Donald Penn agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to multiple reports.

The deal is worth $21 million that includes guarantees into 2018, sources told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The 34-year-old Penn held out through training camp and two preseason games seeking a new deal. He was playing the final season of a two-year, $11.9 million contract he signed in March 2016 that pays him $5.8 million in 2017.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Penn was on the field for all offensive snaps in the Raiders’ 26-16 season-opening win against the Tennessee Titans.

–The Denver Broncos placed defensive end Jared Crick on injured reserve to undergo back surgery and signed free agent defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin.

The 28-year-old Crick missed the season opener after suffering a back injury during training camp. He was coming off his first season in Denver in which he compiled 53 tackles, three sacks and six passes defended.

The 6-foot-4, 287-pound Crick was carted off the field at an Aug. 15 practice with what was then called back spasms. He only practiced one day last week and did not play in last Monday night’s 24-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

–Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier said the NFL fined him $25,000 for his hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer during Sunday’s game.

Shazier delivered a diving tackle into Kizer as the rookie was sliding down to the ground and drew a 15-yard penalty.

Shazier told ESPN that he didn’t think Kizer was going to slide.

–The New England Patriots ruled out starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower and slot receiver Danny Amendola for Sunday’s game against the host New Orleans Saints, the team announced.

Hightower sustained an MCL sprain in a knee in the third quarter of the team’s 42-27 season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 7. The Patriots’ defense collapsed after Hightower went down, giving up 21 fourth-quarter points.

Amendola received both a concussion and knee injury in the second half versus the Chiefs and also didn’t practice at all this week. Former Saints wideout Brandin Cooks joins Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett as the other receivers on the roster.

The Patriots also ruled out special teams captain Matthew Slater (hamstring) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee) for the second week in a row.

–Baltimore Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon received an additional two games tacked onto his suspension, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Dixon already had been suspended four games in March for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The latest two games are a result of a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, Rapoport reported.

The 23-year-old Dixon will serve his suspension while injured, as he had already been ruled out for the entire season after sustaining a knee injury in July.

–Houston Texans backup quarterback Tom Savage felt a need to address his agent’s critical comments about his benching to his coaches and teammates.

Savage was abruptly benched at halftime last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars and replaced by rookie Deshaun Watson, drawing a strong reaction from veteran agent Neil Schwartz, who strongly second-guessed the decision.

“My agent, he defended his client,” Savage said. “We’re a family over there in that firm. I spoke to everybody on this team about it. I did. I spoke to all the leaders, I spoke to Coach (Bill O’Brien), I spoke to Deshaun, (offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach) Pat (O’Hara), all those guys. It is what it is. He defended me. And the most important thing is I have this team’s back. I will go to war with Bill and this organization any day of the week. He was upset about it. That’s how this business is.”

–Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Donnel Pumphrey was placed on injured reserve, two days after sustaining a torn hamstring in practice.

Pumphrey, who was a fourth-round pick, was inactive in the team’s season-opening victory over the Washington Redskins after returning from a head injury during the preseason.

The 5-foot-9, 176-pound Pumphrey set the FBS rushing record at San Diego State with 6,405 career yards. He had 2,133 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns last season.

–Houston Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson will miss the next four-to-six weeks after suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee during Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Johnson departed the game in the third quarter after injuring the knee.

An MRI exam ruled out structural damage, so no surgery is necessary.