- Plus, when to expect Sam Darnold back, the creative ways the Raiders prepared for Lamar Jackson, what Josh Allen learned while he was sidelined, and why Andrew Luck faces a tougher test than you might expect on Sunday
News and notes to know heading into Week 12…
1. The Patriots are expecting Tom Brady to play today, sources say, and it’s certainly possible that they give their 41-year-old quarterback maintenance days going forward—he was listed with a knee injury this week, in addition to the illness that sidelined him Friday. Brady routinely missed practices late last season as he dealt with an Achilles injury.
2. Jets QB Sam Darnold won’t play today, and I’m told he’s probably 50-50 for next week’s game in Tennessee. The team won’t take any chances with him. His injury, on the outside of his foot, is the kind that is at risk to worsen if he returns too early. And given where the Jets are (well out of the playoff picture), they’re going to wait until he’s 100 percent to put him back out there. The good news is he’s out of the boot and moved around O.K. this week.
3. The Raiders got creative this week—I’m told they had practice squad corner Rico Gafford as their scout team quarterback, with reserve receiver Johnny Holton as their second option to give the defense a Lamar Jackson look in practice. Gafford at one point ran a 4.2 40-yard dash. Holton’s another one of the fastest players on the roster. All of which should tell you how Oakland is approaching the Ravens rookie.
4. Bills rookie Josh Allen returns after six weeks on the shelf, and the team believes the greatest benefit he got from watching was getting to see veteran Derek Anderson command the huddle, run the offense in walkthroughs, and handle himself as the CEO of the offense day-to-day. The big takeaway for Allen? As I understand it, it was seeing how Anderson trusted his teammates, and didn’t feel like he had to do too much.
5. Andrew Luck hasn’t been sacked since Oct. 4, and so it should get your attention that his center, Ryan Kelly, won’t play today. Colts coach Frank Reich told me a couple weeks back that the ability of Luck and Kelly to get checks and calls right within his offense has been huge in keeping No. 12 upright. The good news is, right now, the MCL sprain is being regarded as a week-to-week injury; Kelly should be back soon.
6. I’m told the Panthers are expecting to have Torrey Smith up for their critical game against Seattle today, and that’s significant given the fact that they won’t have Devin Funchess. And with Funchess out, my understanding is that second-year phenom Curtis Samuel will start and play a lot.
7. Along those lines, the Dolphins are optimistic that both Danny Amendola and DeVante Parker, listed as questionable, will be available today in Indianapolis with Miami and the Colts set to jockey for position in the AFC wild-card race.
8. As of late Saturday night, Packers TE Jimmy Graham remained on track to play Sunday against the Vikings. In practice this week, Graham was wearing an attachment under a tape job over his broken left thumb.
9. The Steelers are in a tricky spot this week, traveling to Denver. And one thing that will make a little tougher—the Broncos are expecting to have corner Bradley Roby (concussion) in the lineup, according to sources.
10. I did ask about the impact Hue Jackson’s presence in Cincinnati has had on Cleveland’s preparation this week, and the answer I got back was, more or less, “not much.” Jackson wasn’t involved in installing the offense, so while he has a playbook, his institutional knowledge of it is relatively limited. If anything, his intel on the Browns’ personnel may be most useful to the Bengals.
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