Oh Canada: First Steelers in-season firing of OC in 82 years
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was waiting for Matt Canada’s offense to show a strong pulse. But it stayed too close to flat-lining.
So Tomlin did something almost unheard of in Steelers’ history – he pulled the plug in mid-season, firing Canada Tuesday.
Canada had chances to show signs of life but repeatedly failed. He failed in 2021 when there was that frosty détente with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He failed in 2022, when Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett were armed with pitiful game plans designed to minimize risk..
And this year Tomlin kept expecting to see something and that something became a series of three-and-outs, field goals and narrow escapes thanks largely to the defense.
It was Pittsburgh’s first in-season coaching change at the coordinator level or higher since going through three head coaches in 1941.
Tomlin felt it had to be done. The Steelers (6-4), rank near the bottom of the league in every statistical offensive category heading into a trip to Cincinnati (5-5) on Sunday.
Browns expect full recovery for Watson – in 2024
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson had surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles to repair a fracture in his right shoulder, an injury that ended his second season in Cleveland after just nine games.
Watson was already dealing with a strained right rotator cuff when he suffered the break in his throwing shoulder during the first half against Baltimore on Nov. 12.
The Browns said shoulder specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery to fix the displaced fracture of Watson’s right glenoid (socket).
The 28-year-old will begin rehab later this week and the team expects Watson to be fully recovered “prior to the start of the 2024 season.”
Watson has played onlyt 12 of 34 possible games since the Browns acquired him last season, signing him to a $230 million contract that’s fully guaranteed. He was suspended 11 games in 2022 by the NFL for violating the personal conduct policy after being accused of sexual assault and harassment by two dozen women.
Despite his shoulder being broken, Watson stayed in the game against the Ravens while also dealing with a high left ankle sprain. He rallied the Browns to a 33-31 win.
Ravens TE Andrews has surgery, but. . .
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews had surgery on his injured ankle Tuesday, but coach John Harbaugh said Andrews might return if the team goes “deep” into the playoffs.
Andrews was injured in Thursday’s 34-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals
Packers’ Jones ‘highly unlikely’ to play in TNF
Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur says running back Aaron Jones’ knee problem makes him “highly unlikely” to play Thursday at Detroit but likely won’t require him to go on injured reserve.
“Very relieved that it’s not anything long term,” LaFleur said Tuesday.
Jones, who was carted to the locker room late in the second quarter of Green Bay’s 23-20 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, is one of 17 Packers listed on the injury report heading into Thursday’s game.
One of the most noteworthy cases involves tight end Luke Musgrave. La-Fleur said Musgrave’s abdominal injury required a trip to the hospital and added that “certainly it was a scary situation.”
“He’s got a pretty significant injury,” LaFleur said. “I think it just speaks to his toughness, because he didn’t say anything all game, and then something came up.”
Belichick refuses to name starting QB
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick declined to reveal his starting quarterback when talking to reporters Tuesday morning, repeating only that all of his players should be prepared when New England comes out of its off week to face the New York Giants on Sunday.
“I’ve told all the players the same thing: Be ready to go,” Belichick said. “Hopefully, they will be.”
Pressed on the question more than a dozen times in the eight-minute availability, Belichick repeated a version of the same answer. Asked if he made a decision, he said, “We’ll let you know on Sunday.”
2021 first-round draft choice Mac Jones started every game this season, but did not finish three -- twice in blowouts when Belichick said there was no point in sending him out there, and again in Week 10, a 10-6 loss to Indianapolis. With a chance to rally the Patriots, Bailey Zappe was 3 of 7 for 25 yards and finished by throwing an interception on a fake-spike play to seal the game.
Zappe, a fourth-round draft pick in 2022, appeared in four games, starting two – both wins – last season. The Patriots also have Will Grier, who started three games for Carolina in 2019, on the roster and rookie Malik Cunningham on the practice squad.
Rams waive RB Henderson -- again
The Los Angeles Rams waived running back Darrell Henderson for the second time in two seasons. The Rams dropped Henderson on Tuesday after a four-game return to the team with which he won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
Kyren Williams, the Rams’ starting running back this season, is expected to return from a four-game absence with a sprained ankle Sunday against Arizona.
Henderson rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries over the past four games with the Rams (4-6), who drafted him in the third round in 2019. He also caught 10 passes for 103 yards after stepping right back into the injury-depleted Rams’ lineup last month.
Henderson scored a touchdown in the Rams’ comeback victory over Seattle last Sunday.
Colts waive 3-time All-Pro Leonard in surprising move
Shaquille Leonard was a surprising immediate hit with the Indianapolis Colts in 2018, so it was a surprise when he was waived Tuesday.
Indy waived the three-time All-Pro linebacker after he complained publicly about decreased playing time this season as the Colts prepare to face Tampa Bay following a bye week.
“Indy, I want to thank you for accepting me and my family with open arms,” Leonard wrote in part on his social media account as the news broke. “These past six years has been nothing but incredible! Through the good times and the bad y’all stood by my side. I apologize for not bringing that (Lombardi) trophy back to the 317. The energy at Lucas Oil (Stadium) has been nothing but amazing and I thank you for every memory.”