Ravens QB Jackson reportedly tests positive for COVID-19
Jackson's positive test marks the fourth straight day a Ravens player has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, leaving the status of Baltimore's scheduled Sunday road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers uncertain.
According to ESPN, Ravens coach John Harbaugh told his team Thursday that due to safety precautions, players will not be allowed back in the training facility until Monday at the earliest.
Jackson, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, is arguably the highest-profile player in any sport to test positive for coronavirus.
Not including Jackson, whose positive test has yet to be confirmed officially by the team, the Ravens have 10 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which indicates a player has tested positive or is considered a high-risk close contact with an infected person.
The outbreak in Baltimore previously forced the NFL to reschedule the game between the Ravens (6-4) and Steelers (10-0) from Thanksgiving night to Sunday afternoon, but it is unclear if the pivotal AFC North game will be held.
If Jackson can't play and the game is still contested Sunday, the Ravens likely would turn to Robert Griffin III, who has thrown two passes this season -- a 9-yard completion in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns and an interception in Week 4 against the Washington Football Team. He's rushed for one yard on five carries.
Trace McSorley went on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week, leaving practice-squad rookie Tyler Huntley as the team's only available quarterback after Griffin, a former Heisman Trophy winner.
Jackson has thrown for 1,948 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He has completed 63.4 percent of his passes while starting all 10 games.
On Wednesday, the Ravens disciplined a staff member who didn't inform them of COVID-19-related symptoms and had not consistently worn a mask or tracking device, as required by NFL protocols, the team announced.
Running backs Mark Ingram II and J.K. Dobbins, defensive tackle Brandon Williams, linebacker Pernell McPhee, defensive ends Calais Campbell and Jihad Ward, offensive linemen Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura, McSorley and defensive back Iman Marshall are on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Washington thumps Dallas with fourth-quarter flurry
Gibson collected 115 yards on 20 carries as Washington improved to 4-7, passing Philadelphia (3-6-1) for the division lead. Quarterback Alex Smith completed 19 of 26 passes for 149 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Andy Dalton connected on 25 of 35 attempts for 215 yards with a score and a pick that was returned 15 yards for a touchdown by Montez Sweat with 3:24 left in the game. That capped a stretch of three Washington scores in nine minutes.
The first came one play after Cedrick Wilson lost a yard on a 4th-and-10 fake punt from the Dallas 24. Gibson raced 23 yards off right tackle on the next play for a 27-16 lead with 12:07 left. Gibson then added a 37-yard touchdown run at the 3:31 mark.
Dallas initiated scoring with the first of three Greg Zuerlein field goals, a 33-yarder at the 8:33 mark in the first quarter. But Washington took a 7-3 lead with 1:37 left on Gibson's 5-yard touchdown run, capping a 12-play drive that featured a 28-yard pass from tight end -- and former college quarterback -- Logan Thomas to Terry McLaurin.
Dalton put the Cowboys ahead 10-7 when he hit Amari Cooper in stride behind cornerback Ronald Darby for a 54-yard scoring strike 44 seconds into the second quarter. Washington tied it seven minutes later on Dustin Hopkins' 23-yard field goal.
Thomas caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Smith with 2:30 remaining in the half, and Zuerlein drew Dallas within 17-13 on a 32-yard field goal 23 seconds before intermission.
Hopkins converted a 36-yard field goal, six plays after Ezekiel Elliott lost a fumble via replay review, just over four minutes into the third quarter. Zuerlein hit from 28 later in the period, but the Cowboys started the drive on the Washington 4 after a 43-yard interception return by Jaylon Smith.
Dallas fell into the division cellar at 3-8.
Packers DL Adams (toe) likely done for season
The Packers played the 25-year-old Adams on injured reserve on Wednesday after he aggravating an injury he initially sustained during training camp. He missed last Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts due to the injury.
LaFleur said Adams tried to battle through the ailment.
"I thought 'Mon' did a lot of great things this year," LaFleur said. "His endurability to battle and fight through injuries, the effort he gave every time was exceptional."
Adams had 11 tackles -- two for losses -- in eight games this season.
Overall, Adams has 44 tackles (four for losses) and 1.5 sacks in 45 career games (three starts) with Green Bay.
Adams, a third-round pick from Auburn in 2017, is slated to become a unrestricted free agent after the season.
Also, Green Bay added cornerback Kevin King (Achilles) and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Achilles) to the injury report on Thursday. Both players were limited practice participants on Thursday.
Star receiver Davante Adams (ankle) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee) missed practice.
Cardinals WR Hopkins roasts Texans on Thanksgiving
"I'm thankful for the @AZCardinals believing in me enough to trade me for a 2nd rounder," Hopkins wrote Thursday on Twitter.
Hopkins still appears to be a bit salty after the Houston Texans traded him and a 2020 fourth-round pick to Arizona in the spring in exchange for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round selection and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
Hopkins, 28, is one of the most productive receivers in the NFL. The four-time Pro Bowl selection has 72 catches for an NFL-best 912 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Through 120 games (all starts), Hopkins has 704 catches for 9,514 yards and 58 touchdowns.
Rams put leading tackler Kiser (knee) on IR
Kiser suffered the injury during Monday night's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The linebacker will have to miss at least three games before he can return, making the contest against the New York Jets on Dec. 20 the earliest he could be back on the field.
The third-year pro leads the Rams with 77 tackles to go with three passes defensed and a forced fumble. He started nine games for the Rams this season.
Kiser missed the 2019 season with a left pectoral injury that required surgery. He played in all 16 games as a rookie after the Rams selected him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft.
Troy Reeder is expected to start in Kiser's place when the Rams (7-3) host the San Francisco 49ers (4-6) on Sunday. Reeder started eight games last season.
Report: Cardinals WR Fitzgerald tests positive
Fitzgerald, 37, has not missed a game since November 2014 and has played in 260 of a possible 266 games since the Cardinals drafted him No. 3 overall in 2004.
The 11-time Pro Bowl selection has 43 catches for 336 yards and no touchdowns through 10 games this season, his 17th in the NFL.
Fitzgerald ranks No. 2 in NFL history in receptions (1,421) and receiving yards (17,419) behind only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. He is the active NFL leader with 120 touchdown catches, the sixth-most in league history.
Former Cardinals coach Hanifan dies at 87
Hanifan passed away Tuesday evening at Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis. His daughter, Kathy Hinder, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday night that doctors still were determining the cause of death, but it was not related to COVID-19.
Hanifan coached the Cardinals for six seasons, compiling a 39-49-1 record from 1980-85 that included a playoff appearance during the strike-shortened 1982 season. He also went 0-4 as an interim head coach for the Atlanta Falcons in 1989.
A native of Compton, Calif., Hanifan was an All-American at Cal and played one season in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts in 1955. He was inducted into Cal's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
After coaching in the college ranks at Utah, Cal and San Diego State from 1966-72, Hanifan became the offensive line coach of the Cardinals from 1973-78. He also coached the offensive lines for the San Diego Chargers (1979), Falcons (1987-89), Washington (1990-96) and St. Louis Rams (1997-2002).
Arians: Bucs C Shipley could have 'career-ending' neck injury
Arians originally said Shipley suffered a stinger and said it "looks like he's going to be OK," after the eight-year NFL veteran was hurt late in the 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Arians gave a more dire assessment Wednesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
"A.Q. Shipley appears to have had a career-ending injury," he said. "And I feel bad because I love A.Q. He's one of my favorite players of all-time and was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that might have just got aggravated in his neck."
Shipley, 34, is in his first season with the Buccaneers but previously played under Arians with the Arizona Cardinals from 2015-17.
Shipley started the past two games at center after Ryan Jensen was moved to left guard to fill in for the injured Ali Marpet (concussion protocol). He played all 80 offensive snaps in the Week 10 win at Carolina and missed only two of 69 snaps against the Rams.
Originally a 2009 seventh-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Penn State, Shipley has played in 110 games (72 starts) with the Indianapolis Colts (2012, 2014), Baltimore Ravens (2013), Cardinals and Buccaneers.
Jensen likely will be back at center when Tampa Bay (7-4) hosts the Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) on Sunday.
Report: Ravens have more positive COVID-19 tests
The player was among an unspecified number of additional positive tests from Wednesday, a source told ESPN.
The team currently has seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which indicates a player has tested positive or is considered a "high-risk" close contact with an infected person. Running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins are among those on the list.
The outbreak in Baltimore forced the NFL to reschedule the Thanksgiving primetime game between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers to Sunday, but further positive tests could put that game in jeopardy.
On Wednesday, the Ravens disciplined a strength and conditioning coach who didn't inform them of COVID-19-related symptoms and had not consistently worn a mask or tracking device, as required by NFL protocols, the team and NFL.com reported.
The team also claimed offensive lineman Jake Rodgers off waivers from the Denver Broncos to add depth at the position with three linemen iffy due to the COVID outbreak. Rodgers has played in 19 career games.
Watson excels as Texans beat roar-less Lions
Fuller finished with six catches for 171 yards. Defensive end J.J. Watt returned an interception for a touchdown for the Texans (4-7), who have won three of their last four games. Tyrell Adams racked up a season-high 17 tackles and Duke Johnson had 80 scrimmage yards and also scored a touchdown.
Detroit's Matthew Stafford passed for 295 yards and one score. Adrian Peterson gained 55 yards on 15 carries and scored twice for the Lions (4-7).
Matt Prater's 29-yard field goal midway through the third quarter cut Houston's nine-point halftime lead to 23-17. Ka'imi Fairbairn's 26-yard field goal once again lifted the Texans' lead to nine points.
Watson's 40-yard scoring pass to Fuller with just over 12 minutes to go, plus Watson's shovel pass to Keke Coutee for the 2-point conversion, made it 34-17.
After the Lions turned the ball over on downs in their own territory, the Watson-Fuller combo struck again. Watson handed the ball to Johnson, who swept right before he tossed it back to the quarterback. Watson found Fuller wide open along the left sideline on a 34-yard scoring play.
Stafford threw a 14-yard scoring pass and two-point conversion to Mohamed Sanu to make it 41-25.
Detroit turnovers helped Houston establish a 23-14 halftime lead.
The Lions scored on their first possession, capped by Peterson's first touchdown of the game, a 1-yard plunge.
Stafford was picked off by Watt on the Lions' next offensive play. Watt then returned the interception 19 yards for a score. The extra point try was missed.
Jonathan Williams fumbled on Detroit's next possession and the Texans' Bradley Roby recovered the ball at the Lions 30-yard line. Houston cashed in the opportunity on Watson's 2-yard scoring pass to C.J. Prosise.
Peterson's second touchdown, another 1-yard run, briefly put Detroit back on top at 14-13.
The Texans regained the lead on Watson's 33-yard pass to Johnson with 10:18 left in the half. Fairbairn's 42-yard field goal completed the first-half scoring.
Another Browns' player positive; team has work-from-home Thursday
Tackle Jedrick Wills and safety Jovante Moffatt were excused on Wednesday, and the Browns are unlikely to practice at the facility at all before the scheduled Week 12 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Linebacker Sione Takitaki was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.
"The Cleveland Browns were informed this morning that a player has tested positive for COVID-19," the team said in a press release Thursday. "The facility is currently closed and meetings will take place remotely while contact tracing is conducted to identify any high-risk close contacts. The team will continue to consult with the league and medical experts on the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority."
The Browns have won back-to-back games entering Week 12 while Jacksonville is sputtering and plans to start Mike Glennon at quarterback, a third No. 1 at the position this season.
Defensive end Myles Garrett, fullback Andy Janovich and backup defensive end Joe Jackson are also on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday afternoon they would not be available for the Browns (7-3) when they visit the Jaguars (1-9). Offensive lineman Chris Hubbard is also on the list, but Stefanski said he "has a chance" to return.
COVID sends Falcons home on Thanksgiving
The team planned to hold a morning workout before clearing players to spend the afternoon and evening with their families.
Sunday's game is not impacted, the team said in a statement Thursday morning, underscoring that they were "informed of two positive COVID-19 tests from non-coaching staff members."
"Contact tracing protocols have commenced and at this time the team has stopped all in-person work at IBM Performance Field with all operations being conducted virtually on Thursday," the statement read.
"This decision was made in consultation with the NFL and medical officials and does not affect the status of Sunday's game. The Falcons said the health and safety of the team is their highest priority."
Atlanta is scheduled to host the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
Bears seek scoring spark vs. Packers
When they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday night at Lambeau Field, there's a chance that Chicago will unveil Mitchell Trubisky as its starter for the second time this year, replacing an injured and ineffective Nick Foles.
Late in a 19-13 loss to Minnesota on Nov. 16, Foles suffered a hip pointer and left the game for big-armed Tyler Bray. The Bears didn't have to worry about making a decision last week because they were on a well-timed bye.
But late Wednesday afternoon, it was reported that Trubisky, who has not played since injuring his shoulder during a Nov. 1 overtime loss to New Orleans, would return to the lineup. Coach Matt Nagy's comments after practice suggested no decision had been made.
"It's day-to-day right now with Nick," Nagy said. "So with him not practicing, Mitch got all the reps today, and I thought he did a good job. It was good to see him out there, and he looked good, and the tempo and rhythm was good. But for Nick, that's going to be strictly a day-to-day thing for him right now. That's where that's at."
Regardless of who has guided the Chicago offense, it has run with all the power of a beat-up Chevette. The Bears are last in rushing (78.2 yards), next-to-last in scoring (19.1 ppg) and 31th in total yards per game at 300.9. The Bears' 5-5 record is testament to how good their defense was during a 5-1 start.
Chicago has managed 30 points just once this year, hitting the number in a come-from-behind 30-26 win at Atlanta on Sept. 27. During its four-game losing streak, the Bears are scoring just 15.8 ppg.
Even Nagy's bold move of appointing Bill Lazor as play-caller has failed to create a spark. Chicago's lone touchdown against Minnesota was the product of Cordarrelle Patterson's 104-yard kickoff return to open the second half.
The Bears managed only 149 yards and 10 first downs against a Vikings' defense which hasn't exactly reminded one of the Purple People Eaters from the 1970s.
"You just keep coming out here every week," said injured running back David Montgomery, who hopes to return at Green Bay, "and focus on what you can control."
The same could be said of Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who in the last three weeks has emerged as a reliable No. 2 target for Rodgers by catching nine passes for 257 yards. Valdes-Scantling is taking advantage of defenses' intense focus on Davante Adams.
"Social media gives cowards the right to say whatever they want with no consequences," he said.
Despite the loss, the Packers are still in great shape in the NFC North. At 7-3, they lead Chicago by two games, and own three-game leads on Detroit and Minnesota. They could conceivably clinch the division title and a playoff spot as soon as Week 13.
This is the first of two matchups between the rivals over the last six weeks. Green Bay has won 15 of the last 18 meetings since 2011.
Bills hope to bounce back with win vs. Chargers
The Bills, who are seeking their first division title since 1995, are coming off their bye week and will enter a home matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday with a one-game division lead over the Miami Dolphins with six to play. That includes a meeting with those Dolphins in the final scheduled game of the regular season.
The Chargers, meanwhile, simply are trying to plug a leaky boat, though the vessel does have a captain they can believe in with rookie sensation quarterback Justin Herbert.
The Bills (7-3) enter off a 32-30, heartbreaking defeat at Arizona on Nov. 15, while the Chargers (3-7) take the field after a 34-28 victory Sunday over the hapless New York Jets that ended a three-game losing streak.
Yet it is the Bills who can find plenty of positives in the defeat, while the Chargers' concerns actually mounted in the victory.
As they have done all season, the Bills moved the ball well against the Cardinals, and quarterback Josh Allen engineered a late go-ahead drive. But the work was derailed when Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray found receiver DeAndre Hopkins on a 43-yard Hail Mary pass among three Buffalo defenders in the closing seconds.
Allen threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals, and is seventh in the NFL with 2,871 yards passing and eighth with a 68.4 completion percentage.
While a rare late bye prevented the Bills from purging the loss from their system last weekend, it offered them time to heal some mounting bumps and bruises.
"It almost feels like it's a new season, a new beginning," Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley said. "... You grind, grind, grind and then you get a bye week late. Now we have six games to go and you have time to refresh and get your legs back up underneath you."
Despite the disappointing team results this season, Herbert continues to roll along. He was 37-of-49 passing against the Jets for a personal-best 366 yards on Sunday with three touchdowns. He now has rookie records with five games of three TD passes or more and seven consecutive games where he has at least two scores.
Herbert had 277 yards passing in the first half alone Sunday, but as the Chargers' defense has been known to do, it struggled in the second half. Los Angeles led by as many as 18 points Sunday and 15 in the fourth quarter but needed to make a play deep in their own territory to seal the victory.
Already this season, the Chargers have blown leads of at least 16 points in four consecutive games and had the Kansas City Chiefs down 11 before losing.
Staff changes have begun as Chargers coach Anthony Lynn demoted special teams coach George Stewart and replaced him with assistant Keith Burns and coaching assistant Chris Caminiti.
"It's never one person's fault," Lynn said Wednesday. "As coaches, this is what we sign up for. We sign up to work with these young men. If they don't execute the way we need them to execute, then we lose our jobs. That's just the way it is."
Three Chargers defensive players did not practice Wednesday: cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. (groin), and defensive ends Melvin Ingram III (knee) and Uchenna Nwosu (shoulder/chest). Nwosu is expected to miss multiple games.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday, but it is unknown if he will play Sunday. He has been out since carrying the ball twice in an Oct. 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bills were without defensive end Mario Addison (knee) and wide receiver John Brown at Wednesday's practice.
Report: Ravens-Steelers move to cost NBC millions
The decision to move the game from Thursday night -- when it would have been the NFL's lone game in that time slot -- to Sunday afternoon was made after an outbreak of COVID-19 swept through the Ravens' headquarters in Owings Mills, Md. The team has seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which indicates a player has tested positive or is considered a "high-risk" close contact with an infected person.
The Ravens disciplined a strength and conditioning coach who didn't inform them of COVID-19-related symptoms and had not consistently worn a mask or tracking device, as required by NFL protocols, the team and NFL.com reported.
Last year, NBC generated $70.9 million on its in-game advertising sales of the Thanksgiving night game, which was between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saint, based on an average unit cost of $1.05 million per 30-second spot. The game averaged 20.8 million live TV viewers, which included 7.85 million advertiser-coveted adults between 18 and 49 years old, Sportico reported.
In 2018, NBC's Thanksgiving night game, also between the Saints and Falcons, averaged 21.7 million viewers and 8.46 million members between the 18 and 49-year-old demographic. It was NBC's third-highest number since the network began showing the Thanksgiving night game in 2012, Sportico reported.
NBC now likely has to renegotiate its in-game advertising rates since the Ravens-Steelers game is among a dozen games kicking off around the same time during Sunday's early time slot. While the Ravens-Steelers' game can be shown nationally by NBC, advertising slots won't be as valuable since it is competing against so many games. For example, CBS and Fox charge between $100,000 and $300,000 per 30-second advertisement spot, depending on how many markets receive the broadcast, according to Sportico.
The two AFC North games annually between the Ravens (6-4) and Steelers (10-0), who are off to their best start in the franchise's storied history, are among the NFL's most anticipated of the season. The teams have combined for eight of the past 10 division titles after the Ravens finished atop the division in each of the past two seasons.
Pittsburgh won the teams' first meeting of the season, 28-24, in Baltimore on Nov. 1.
Tagovailoa back at QB as Dolphins face Jets
The Dolphins (6-4) had their five-game winning streak snapped last Sunday in a 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. Tagovailoa completed 11 of 20 passes for 83 yards before he was lifted in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the veteran who held the job at the start of the season.
"Tua wasn't injured," Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said, settling any doubts. "We just felt (Fitzpatrick) gave us the best chance to win the game."
Flores said Tagovailoa will return to the starting lineup with the expectation of getting Miami back on track.
"He's a confident kid," Flores said.
That confidence surely was tested when Tagovailoa was sacked six times by the Broncos, who blitzed him repeatedly.
The Jets are a dismal 0-10 on the season and 0-6 when Sam Darnold is the starting quarterback. The third-year pro has not played since a Nov. 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs because of a shoulder injury.
Darnold took all the first-team repetitions Wednesday and is on track to start on Sunday.
"I finally have a bit more confidence in my shoulder to withstand a hit," Darnold said.
If Darnold can't go, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco will make his third straight start. He is 0-4 as the starter.
Defensively, the Jets and veteran defensive coordinator Gregg Williams would love to draw up some successful blitzes against Tagovailoa. But Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker still needs plenty of attention with a team-leading 44 receptions and four touchdowns.
The Dolphins have starting offensive lineman Jesse Davis on the reserve/COVID-19 list, while defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was removed from the list Wednesday.
The Jets will be without rookie running back La'Mical Perine (high-ankle sprain) and kicker Sam Ficken (groin) after they were placed in injured reserve.
Perine has rushed for 202 yards and a 3.7 average. Veteran Frank Gore, 37, who leads the team with 447 rushing yards (3.6 per carry), figures to get even more work.
Gore, a native of Miami who is No. 3 on the NFL's list for career rushing yards with 15,794, played for the Dolphins in 2018.
"You don't want to go 0-16, especially if this is my last year," Gore said. "I can't wait to get a win. I'd be so happy."
The backups to an aging Gore are expected to be Ty Johnson and Josh Adams, who have combined for just 65 yards this season.
Replacing Ficken will be Sergio Castillo, who was solid (6-for-7 on field goals) when he got a shot with the Jets earlier this year.
Jets right tackle George Fant is expected to miss the game due to ankle and knee sprains. His backup, Chuma Edoga, has been limited in practice with a low-ankle sprain.
The Jets had at least two bright spots in last week's 34-28 loss to the Chargers. Rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims, a second-round pick, caught three passes for a season-high 71 yards; and defensive end Harry Anderson had five tackles, one stop for a loss and a blocked punt. Yet the day ended in another defeat.
"This is," Anderson said, "the most frustrating year I've ever had playing football."
Rams seek payback against rival 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo outgunned Jared Goff and the 49ers dominated time of possession when the defending NFC champs ran off to a 21-6 halftime lead and held on for a 24-16 home win over the Rams in Week 6.
Much has changed since, including the fact that Garoppolo has gone on injured reserve with a high-ankle sprain. He threw three touchdown passes in the win, all to receivers who are currently injured (tight end George Kittle), trying to return from an injury (wide receiver Deebo Samuel), or attempting to get reinstated from the COVID-19 list (wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk).
Having lost three in a row and at risk of missing the playoffs one year after they represented the NFC in the Super Bowl against Kansas City, the 49ers (4-6) are coming off a much-needed bye last week.
It wasn't an ordinary bye. The 49ers were locked out of their practice facility all week as nine players had to go on the COVID-19 list.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan admitted earlier this week that his team could not have taken the field for a game had one been scheduled last Sunday.
"We knew we couldn't go any place since we had to get tested each day. It was just weird for guys not to be able to do anything for seven straight days," he noted. "I keep saying maybe it'll work for us because we did need some rest."
Among those who benefited from the time off were Samuel, top running back Raheem Mostert and standout cornerback Richard Sherman. Shanahan hopes to have all three on the field in Los Angeles.
He won't have Garoppolo. Nick Mullens replaced the starter during the club's 37-27 defeat at the hands of Seattle in Week 9 and has subsequently started losses to Green Bay and New Orleans.
While the 49ers were watching, the Rams (7-3) ran their winning streak to two games with a 27-24 win at Tampa Bay under the Monday night spotlight. Los Angeles had beaten Seattle the week before and currently stands tied with the Seahawks (7-3) atop the NFC West.
Defense has been key to the two impressive wins. The Rams recorded six sacks and two interceptions against Seattle's Russell Wilson before limiting Tampa Bay's Tom Brady to just 216 passing yards with two interceptions.
Goff threw for 376 yards and three TDs in his head-to-head with Brady.
"We can be as good as we want to be, honestly," Goff boasted after the win. "We have it all in front of us. We have some division games coming up -- some big ones -- but everything is there for us to take. We have to take it one week at a time and keep playing good ball."
The 49ers have won three straight in the rivalry, including 20-7 in October 2019 when the Rams hosted the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The team has since moved seven miles to the southwest to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, where the Rams have gone 4-0, beating Dallas, the New York Giants, Chicago and Seattle.
Saints look for eighth straight win with visit to Denver
At the same time, the Denver Broncos learned they could win while being less dependent on Drew Lock's arm.
The Saints (8-2) will seek their eighth consecutive victory when they visit the Broncos (4-6) on Sunday.
Hill passed for 233 yards and ran for two touchdowns in a home victory against Atlanta last week. Hill is expected to make his second consecutive start Sunday in place of injured Drew Brees, who will miss at least two more games while on injured reserve because of rib and lung injuries.
"There's a lot of pressure when you all of a sudden become that starter," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "So I was happy he played well and we played a good complementary game. There were a lot of things we did well in that game defensively. We ran the ball well, especially in the second half."
Hill had both of his scoring runs in the second half to accompany one by Alvin Kamara in the first half.
"This team is resilient," Kamara said. "This game does not stop for one player. It is nothing personal. It's the nature of the game."
New Orleans' defense sacked Matt Ryan eight times last week and has seven interceptions in the last three games.
"When you get one turnover, they come in bundles," defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson said. "It took us a while to get going. You see it coming together in the past couple weeks and it is going well for us right now."
Lock had thrown at least 40 passes in each of his previous four games, but threw just 30 times with 18 completions for 270 yards against the Dolphins. That's because Denver had its most rushing yards this season (189 on 33 carries).
"The (main) thing we did as a team was we ran the ball better," said head coach Vic Fangio, a one-time Saints assistant. "We played good defense for the most part, and to me, those are a young quarterback's two best friends, and he had them. The more we can do that as a team, the more he'll be able to develop in a more logical progression."
Lock threw an interception on Denver's first possession and it wasn't until his seventh attempt that he connected with a teammate.
"I'd like to see him get off to a better start than we've been getting off to, particularly as it relates to the passing game over the last few weeks," Fangio said. "Those are some points of emphasis I think we need to focus on this week.
"We showed some versatility in the offense -- both in the number of guys that caught some balls and carried it. It's a direct result of being able to run the ball better. Any time you can run it a little bit better, it opens up things for a lot of guys. We had more balance and more successful balance. It's easy to have balance, but can you be successful with it?"
The Broncos, like the Saints against the Falcons, had a team-wide defensive effort against the Dolphins. They had six sacks and forced five three-and-outs.
Faster start key for Cardinals against Patriots
While those rankings should put a smile on a coach's face, Kliff Kingsbury found himself pondering why his high-powered club is often sluggish out of the gate.
"That's a great question and one we're trying to figure out," Kingsbury said as the Cardinals (6-4) prepare to face the New England Patriots (4-6) on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.
"Like I've said all along, we've had some really positive moments offensively, (but) we still lead the league in negative plays, which is something we have to get cleaned up as we enter the back half of the schedule."
Arizona has found itself trailing after the first quarter in each of its last four games.
The Cardinals potentially have another question on their hands, and that is the health of Kyler Murray. The dynamic dual-threat quarterback was testing his right throwing shoulder during Wednesday's practice, six days after injuring it during Arizona's 28-21 setback to Seattle.
While Murray officially was listed as limited in practice, star wideout DeAndre Hopkins (illness) joined tight ends Maxx Williams (illness) and Darrell Daniels (ankle), safeties Jalen Thompson (ankle) and Charles Washington (groin) and defensive end Josh Mauro (hamstring) in sitting out the session.
Hopkins, who has an NFL-best 912 receiving yards, likely will be looking into the eyes of 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore on Sunday.
"I think everybody knows," Gilmore said on the Patriots' flagship radio station, when asked who he would be covering on Sunday.
Fellow wideouts Christian Kirk (team-high six receiving touchdowns) and 11-time Pro Bowl selection Larry Fitzgerald could also pose problems for the Patriots, who will have to limit an offense that has averaged a league-best 414.3 total yards per game.
Running backs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds join Murray (10 rushing touchdowns) in helping Arizona average 157.7 yards per game on the ground.
New England quarterback Cam Newton was quick to praise Murray, who is off to a fast start toward changing the game.
"Kyler is a person who is electric," said Newton, who has seen his fair share of electric quarterbacks of late.
"You know, I've had the opportunity to see Lamar (Jackson, Baltimore quarterback), I've had the opportunity to play against, obviously, Deshaun (Watson, Houston quarterback) last week. Kyler this week, it's just fun to play against a guy like that. As well as knowing that the game is turning to that style of quarterback, who can not only attack you with their legs, but as well as - as potent with his legs as with his arm as well."
Newton's Patriots won their second straight game at the expense of Jackson and the Ravens on Nov. 15 before dropping a 27-20 decision to the Texans last Sunday.
Newton threw for 365 yards against Houston, with Damiere Byrd enjoying a breakout game with six catches for a career-best 132 yards and a touchdown. Byrd leads the team in receiving yards (469), while his 32 catches are one shy of versatile running back James White.
Fellow wideout N'Keal Harry, who had five receptions versus the Texans, was limited in Wednesday's practice with a shoulder injury.
He wasn't alone as the Patriots listed 11 players with that designation -- including Gilmore (hand), linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley (groin), defensive end Lawrence Guy (shoulder, elbow, knee), offensive guard Shaq Mason (calf), special teams ace Matthew Slater (knee) and kicker Nick Folk (back) among others.
Colts-Titans meet again with AFC South on the line
Both teams enter at 7-3 after victories last week. The Titans won 30-24 at Baltimore, and the host Colts defeated Green Bay 34-31. Both games went to overtime.
A loss at Lucas Oil Stadium this week could be very costly in the AFC playoff race, as current wild-card hopefuls Miami (6-4), Cleveland (7-3) and Las Vegas (6-4) all are favored heading into their road games.
Indianapolis already defeated Tennessee on Nov. 12 in Nashville, Tenn., when the Colts used a 21-point second half to prevail 34-17. A win Sunday would give the Colts a one-game lead in the division and the all-important tiebreaker between the teams.
"They know us, we know them," Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said Wednesday. "We did some good things in the first half last time we played them, and then didn't come out and play good football in the second half."
Tannehill was 15 of 27 for 147 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting, when Tennessee was outgained 430-294 overall and neither team ran the ball incredibly well.
NFL leading rusher Derrick Henry (1,079 yards, 4.7 avg.) leads a Titans rushing attack ranked fifth in the league. The Colts' defense, however, is ranked second overall (298.1 ypg.) and third against the run, allowing 89.2 yards per game.
"They play very hard," Henry said of the Colts. "They fly to the ball. Guys that play great together collectively. Good tacklers. They run their scheme very well. An overall great defense."
Philip Rivers directs Indy's offense, which has outscored its last two opponents 41-3 in the second half/overtime.
Rivers, in his first season with the Colts after 16 seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, did not practice Wednesday due to a toe injury suffered against Green Bay. Coach Frank Reich said he expected that another off day on Thanksgiving would enable Rivers to make his 235th consecutive regular season start.
"It's just really a testament to his mental and physical toughness, and his competitiveness," Reich said of the streak. "It's just rare. We all know how rare this is, that's why we all respect it so much. It's one of the things that makes him a special player."
Rivers completed 29 of 39 for 308 yards and a TD against Tennessee in Round 1.
"We keep getting better, that's natural, and (so has) Philip's command and presence of the offense," Reich said. "There was a quick transition (for Rivers) as far as knowing what to do, but now knowing his teammates more and more and having more command, and doing more ... (there are) a few more changes, a few more checks ... getting a little bit more of that as the season goes on."
Titans punter Brett Kern is expected to return after missing three games due to a wrist injury. In the teams' first meeting, a shanked punt by Trevor Daniel and a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown cost Tennessee greatly.
"Brett's one of the best players on our team," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "I have a lot of respect for what he does. But he can't block, he can't cover."
Tennessee receiver Adam Humphries, who missed the last three games with a concussion, was a full participant in Wednesday's practice. His status for Sunday's game will not be determined until later in the week.
Indianapolis placed defensive tackle DeForest Buckner on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, when nine Colts did not practice, including offensive linemen Quenton Nelson (back/ankle) and center Ryan Kelly (neck). Defensive backs Rock Ya-Sin (illness), S Khari Willis (ribs/shoulder) S Justin Blackmon (illness) also sat out.