NFL notebook: Redskins RB Guice out for season

The Sports Xchange

August 10, 2018 at 7:34 pm.

The Washington Redskins suffered a jarring blow when rookie running back Derrius Guice was lost for the season because of a torn ACL sustained in Thursday’s preseason opener against the New England Patriots.

Results of an MRI on Friday confirmed the severity of the injury to Guice, the Redskins’ second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Washington also announced that tight end Manasseh Garner will miss the season after suffering a torn ACL in Thursday’s game.

“Both players are expected to make a full recovery and are looking forward to playing in 2019,” the team said in a statement.

Washington was expecting big things from Guice, who rushed for 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns last season at LSU. He was even better as a sophomore, piling up 1,387 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

Guice finished with only 19 yards on six rushing attempts in the Redskins’ 26-17 loss, but it was a play that didn’t count that drew the most oohs and aahs — and resulted in the injury.

The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Guice broke off a highlight-reel 34-yard run that was negated by a penalty.

Guice made a quick cutback to break into the open, spun away from one defender and then stiff-armed another would-be tackler, but he was slow to get up and hobbled to the sideline.

After the game, the rookie downplayed the injury, saying, “I’m good,” and, “All is well” in the locker room.

“I can walk fine,” Guice told the Washington Post. “I guess, at the back end of the play when I was still (fighting), my feet just kind of planted weirdly on the turf and my knee just hyperextended a little bit. It’s fine.”

Redskins coach Jay Gruden was hoping for the best after Thursday’s game while telling reporters that Guice was scheduled for an MRI.

“Hopefully, it’s nothing, but if it is, I’m sure Derrius will rehab it and get himself back,” said Gruden, who revealed that Guice had lobbied for a heavy workload entering his NFL debut. “He’s a guy that doesn’t like to carry the ball three times. He needs to carry the ball 15 times. He actually told me before the game, ‘If you’re going to give it to me three times, don’t even put me in.'”

–Quarterback Tom Brady missed the New England Patriots’ preseason opener, reportedly because of an ailing back, but coach Bill Belichick was predictably mum on the topic.

The Boston Globe reported Thursday that Brady would not play against the Washington Redskins because of a sore back, but Belichick declined to address the subject in Friday’s media briefing.

Asked if he had more information on Brady’s back and whether it was limiting his reps during practice, Belichick responded with a simple: “No. Sorry. I don’t.”

Brady has not played in the preseason opener since 2015 and Belichick, who is notoriously tight-lipped regarding injuries, made no mention of him when meeting with reporters after the game.

“Some players played; some didn’t,” Belichick said. “We tried to play people we wanted to take a look at and give some reps to.”

According to the Globe’s report, Brady did little in 11-on-11 drills since the end of last week.

The three-time NFL Most Valuable Player turned 41 earlier this month. On Thursday, the Patriots reportedly added $5 million in performance-based incentives to Brady’s contract.

A four-time Super Bowl MVP, Brady passed for a league-best 4,577 yards along with 32 touchdowns and only eight interceptions last season.

–Several NFL players continued their protests against social inequality during the national anthem before preseason openers on Thursday night.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De’Vante Bausby of the Philadelphia Eagles each raised a fist on the Philadelphia Eagles’ sideline, and defensive end Chris Long put his arm around Jenkins in a sign of support, as he did last season.

“I just think it’s important to keep this conversation going, that we don’t let it get stagnant,” Jenkins said after the game. “You know, as we understand it, everybody’s kind of waiting to see what the league is going to do. … It’s just my personal decision to keep these things at the forefront.”

Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson both took a knee during the anthem and Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn raised a fist, as did San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin before a game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey and T.J. Yeldon of the Jacksonville Jaguars stayed off the field during the playing of the national anthem.

Duane Brown, Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson of the Seattle Seahawks also remained in the locker room before their game.

“This is not going to become a distraction for this team,” Smith said of the Jaguars. “I’ve got beliefs. I did what I did. I don’t know if it’s going to be every week; can’t answer if it’s going to be every week. But, as a man, I’ve got to stand for something.”

The NFL, with its national anthem policy on hold amid discussions with the NFL Players Association, released the following statement:

“The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans. While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.

“Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL’s policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room.”

President Donald Trump, who criticized NFL players throughout last season because of the protests, not surprisingly took notice.

Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning and wrote: “The NFL players are at it again — taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love………..

“Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!”

–Rookie wide receiver Deon Cain of the Indianapolis Colts will miss the 2018 season because of a torn ACL sustained during Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

Head coach Frank Reich made the announcement on Friday afternoon.

The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Cain was a sixth-round pick (185th overall) by the Colts out of Clemson and was expected to make a contribution this season after impressing during training camp.

The 22-year-old Cain, whose draft stock slipped because of off-the-field issues, was injured after making the first catch of his initial professional game.

Cain was suspended by Clemson for the 2015 Orange Bowl and the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship for because he failed a drug test.

In 2016, Cain returned and played in all 15 games, including Clemson’s national championship victory over Alabama.

Cain passed up his senior season to enter the NFL Draft and in three seasons at Clemson caught 130 passes for 2,040 yards and 20 touchdowns. Last season, he had 58 receptions for 734 yards and six scores.

He also rushed for 2,035 yards and 20 touchdowns in his career.

–Dez Bryant is heading to Cleveland after all.

Browns general manager John Dorsey said Thursday that he has been trying to contact Bryant, but that the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver was not returning his calls.

Bryant took to Twitter in response and said he will be there sometime next week, perhaps Thursday.

“For real … I wouldn’t mind playing for the (Browns) … I just want to be right first,” Bryant wrote in a tweet.

Two hours later Bryant tweeted again: “Starting my visits next week … I’m coming to the Land to see your Mr Dorsey.”

Earlier, Bryant tweeted: “I’m going to play … just whenever I get ready.”

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday: “He’s been waiting for the right fit, so this visit could be as important as whatever contract offer may come. They have to mesh well.”

The Browns are looking for help at wide receiver while Josh Gordon remains away from camp because of health issues. Gordon told coach Hue Jackson on HBO’s Hard Knocks this week that he would return “soon.”

However, Dorsey said Thursday that there is “no timetable” for Gordon’s return.

Cleveland also traded wide receiver Corey Coleman to the Buffalo Bills hours before learning that fourth-round draft pick Antonio Callaway was cited for marijuana possession.

Callaway claims the marijuana discovered in his car during a traffic stop was not his but is waiting to if the NFL takes an action. The rookie caught a 54-yard touchdown pass in Thursday’s preseason opener.

–Andrew Luck finally made it back to the field, seeing his first game action in nearly 19 months in the Indianapolis Colts’ preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.

Luck, who missed the 2017 season while rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder, was in for two series in the Colts’ 19-17 win over Seattle.

Still, the former No. 1 overall draft pick admitted to having more than a few butterflies after finishing 6 of 9 for 64 yards while playing the opening two possessions.

“The first play is always a little nerve-wracking in any game, in a sense, but especially this one,” Luck told reporters after the game, per the Indianapolis Star. “After that, it sort of slowed down and the rhythm, the flow of the huddle, calling a play, knowing where the play clocks are, getting to the line of scrimmage, showing what your cues are, that operation takes over. For lack of better word, it felt natural.”

Although Luck relied on a series of short passes, he did not look tentative, taking a big hit from Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner while scrambling for a first down.

Luck also was sacked once.

“I think there was a sense of, ‘OK, get hit, get up, make sure you’re not broken in half on the field,'” Luck said of his short scramble. “It was probably the most excited I have been and will ever be for getting hit.”

Luck led Indianapolis to a field goal on his first possession, completing 5 of 7 passes for 55 yards. He sandwiched passes to running backs Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin around an 8-yard completion to T.Y. Hilton.

After starting all 16 games in each of his first three seasons and guiding Indianapolis to identical 11-5 records, Luck was limited to seven starts in 2015. He made 15 starts in 2016, throwing for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions.

The Colts finished 4-12 in 2017 with Jacoby Brissett starting 15 games at quarterback. Recurring soreness in Luck’s shoulder prompted the Colts to finally shut him down two weeks after he returned to practice in early October. He was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 2.

Appearing in his first game after a layoff of 586 days, Luck said he was trying to prevent himself from getting too amped up. That game plan quickly was discarded.

–The NFL’s new helmet rule claimed its first casualty on Thursday night.

Indianapolis Colts safety Shamarko Thomas was ejected from Thursday’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks after a helmet-to-helmet hit on wide receiver David Moore.

Thomas was tossed after a passing play down the right sideline. Moore was falling to the ground after failing to latch onto the pass and Thomas launched himself helmet-first into the side of the receiver’s helmet.

The officiating crew penalized Thomas for unnecessary roughness and ejected the sixth-year defensive back from the contest. Indianapolis coach Frank Reich did not disagree with the call.

“That was very disappointing; I’m very disappointed,” Reich told reporters, per NFL.com. “We don’t teach that. That was a good call, that was the appropriate call, he should have been ejected. … That could have been avoided, should have been avoided, and the referees did the right thing.”

The NFL released a fact sheet regarding the new helmet rule earlier this month after several players admitted to being confused. The league implemented the rule in late March.

Under the new directive, it is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with the helmet on an opponent. The contact is not limited to an opponent’s head or neck area, as initiating contact to a player’s torso, hips and lower body is also an infraction.

According to the fact sheet, the penalties for a violation include a loss of 15 yards or ejection, which includes a set of standards. An ejection would be considered if a player lowers his helmet to establish a linear body posture prior to initiating and making contact with the helmet, if he has an unobstructed path to his opponent or if contact clearly is avoidable and player delivering the blow had other options.

–The San Francisco 49ers won their preseason opener on Thursday night but came up short in an area that is of paramount importance to the coaching staff: staying healthy.

The 49ers saw six players exit Thursday’s 24-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys because of various injuries.

Among the injured were tight end George Kittle (shoulder), linebackers Malcolm Smith (hamstring) and Eli Harold (knee), defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (concussion), offensive tackle Garry Gilliam (concussion) and backup running back Matt Breida (shoulder).

“It’s what scares you about training camp; it’s what scares you about the preseason,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters, per the San Francisco Chronicle. “You kind of just want the game to end when those things start happening, because you want those guys when the season starts. But we also need to practice and get better. So it’s just something you have to deal with.”

Kittle reportedly separated his right shoulder, but the NFL Network reported Friday that he did not sustain any structural damage. Kittle had 43 receptions and two touchdowns as a rookie a year ago.

Breida, who appeared in all 16 games as a backup during his rookie season in 2017, also is dealing with a shoulder injury. Shanahan said he expects Kittle and Breida to miss “some time.”

Smith, who missed the 2017 season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in training camp, was hurt on the opening drive of the game.

Thomas, who started 12 games and had 3.0 sacks as a rookie, had to leave the field after he was kicked in the head in the first quarter.

–Tyrod Taylor showed why the Cleveland Browns expect him to open the regular season as their starting quarterback.

Rookie Baker Mayfield showed why the Browns took him with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

Sure, it was only a preseason game, but as far as preseason openers go, the Browns couldn’t be more ecstatic with their quarterback play after Thursday’s 20-10 road win over the New York Giants.

Taylor, acquired in an offseason trade with the Buffalo Bills, started against the Giants and completed all five passes for 99 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown strike to tight end David Njoku.

“(I like) the way he comes into the locker room, the way he gets his teammates ready to play and rallying our guys as we go out there on the field,” Cleveland coach Hue Jackson told reporters, per Ohio.com. “That’s what you want your quarterback to be. The thing I love about him is he’s the same guy all the time — very calm, understands what the situation is and knows how to go play.

“It just feels like a big-time NFL quarterback. That’s what he is.”

The quarterback position has been the bane of the Browns’ existence since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999. The Browns have used 28 different starters at QB during that span and had rookie DeShone Kizer under center for the bulk of the 2017 season, when they became the second team to endure a winless 16-game campaign.

The one positive of the disastrous season was getting the No. 1 draft pick, which Cleveland used to take Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma

While Jackson has repeatedly said Taylor will start, Baker gave Browns fans plenty of reason to feel optimistic about the present and future in his first NFL action.

Mayfield finished 11 of 20 for 212 yards and two touchdowns — a 10-yard scoring pass to Njoku and a 54-yard connection to rookie wideout Antonio Callaway.

“I’m not surprised by anything Baker does because I see him do it on the practice field,” Jackson said. “Obviously, the throws he makes, the poise he has, he demonstrated all of that in college, so I’m not surprised by it. Again, this is his first opportunity and he will grow from it. There are things he will learn from and continue to get better at, but it was a good start for him.”

Mayfield went three-and-out on his first possession but led a 14-play, 72-yard march on the ensuing drive that was capped by the touchdown pass to Njoku. He also ran for two first downs on that drive.

“I was just seeing it better,” Mayfield said. “We had a little play-action on the first drive. I think just getting back there and just getting the ball out quick and just going through the reads, being comfortable, just settling in with my feet too.

“Did some things well, but there’s definitely room for improvement.”

–Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves will be sidelined with a groin injury suffered in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.

Hargreaves is expected to miss “some time,” the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. The newspaper said preliminary tests on the cornerback were positive.

The 23-year-old Hargreaves dealt with a hamstring injury last season and was limited to nine games, including seven starts.

A first-round pick (No. 11 overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida, Hargreaves started all 16 games as a rookie and had 76 tackles, one interception and 10 passes defensed.

Hargreaves is expected to start at cornerback this season opposite Brent Grimes, who did not play against the Dolphins.

–Saquon Barkley didn’t wait long to make an impression with the New York Giants.

Barkley lived up to the hype befitting a No. 2 overall draft pick in New York’s preseason opener, rumbling 39 yards on his first carry in a 20-10 loss to the visiting Cleveland Browns.

The former Penn State standout finished with 43 yards on five rushes, but it was his opening run, in which he deftly cut back and eluded multiple defenders before showing an outstanding burst, that likely had New York fans salivating.

“Just a run, let’s not go berserk yet, alright?” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said with a smile, per NJ.com. “It was a good run. Offensive line blocked things well. Had a good cutback. Good play.”

The preseason matchup featured a juicy subplot with Barkley going up against the Browns, who used the No. 1 overall pick to take quarterback Baker Mayfield.

New York’s ground game was a train wreck last season and Barkley was viewed as the perfect fit after amassing 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns last season for the Nittany Lions. He also showed he was a three-down back with 54 receptions.

After Barkley’s debut, he hardly sounded like a rookie, telling reporters that he didn’t experience the expected pregame jitters.

“It felt weird, the feelings are hard to describe,” Barkley told reporters, per NJ.com. “I really didn’t get that nervous for this game. I have been preparing for this moment my whole life, I was just excited to get out there and show my team what I have. I only got a couple of carries, but I wanted to show that I’m willing to get the gritty yards, break big plays, and be productive in this offense.”

–The Arizona Cardinals signed cornerback Tim Scott to a one-year contract, the team announced.

Scott has played in only one NFL game since entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina in 2015.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder was cut three times by the New York Giants in 2017, appearing in one game. He was re-signed to the team’s practice squad in mid-December.

Scott has also been on the roster of the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys.

A four-year starter at North Carolina, Scott had 218 tackles and eight interceptions in 51 games for the Tar Heels.

–Running back Marlon Mack of the Indianapolis Colts underwent an MRI exam for what the team believes is a strained hamstring, CBS Sports reported.

The CBS report says the Colts anticipate that Mack will be out for a few weeks.

Mack grabbed his left hamstring after making a 5-yard run with three minutes remaining in the first quarter of Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks. He finished with four carries for 9 yards.

Mack, a fourth-round pick (No. 143 overall) by the Colts out of South Florida in the 2017 NFL Draft, rushed for 358 yards and three touchdowns on 93 carries as a rookie, and also caught 21 passes for 225 yards and a score.