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Colts, Jack Doyle Agree On Extension

Thrust back into the role of the Colts’ top tight end, Jack Doyle now has another long-term contract. The Colts and Doyle agreed on a three-year extension Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The deal is worth $21.3MM in new money and could spike to $29.1MM through incentives, Mike Chappell of CBS4 tweets. This marks another nice payday for the career-long Colt who now has a bigger role since the team placed Eric Ebron on IR. This marks a second Colts re-up for the Indianapolis native; Doyle’s three-year, $18.9MM deal was set to expire at season’s end.

While the pay bump is not much compared to what Doyle’s previous number was, it keeps the 29-year-old weapon tied to the Colts through the 2022 season. Considering Ebron may be set to walk in free agency, after a strange end to his season, the Colts did not waste much time in ensuring some continuity at tight end.

A former UDFA out of Western Kentucky arrived in Indianapolis in 2013, during the three-year stretch of Andrew Luck-led playoff berths, but played behind Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen for three seasons. Doyle emerged in his contract year, 2016, with a 584-yard, five-touchdown performance and made the 2017 Pro Bowl with a career-best 690 yards.

After Doyle suffered a season-ending injury in 2018, Ebron broke Dallas Clark‘s Colts record for touchdowns by a tight end. But Ebron did not come especially close to matching that production this year. Doyle is again the Colts’ top tight end target and will be pivotal to the fringe AFC contender’s playoff chances.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Suspends Chiefs’ Breeland Speaks

The NFL has suspended Chiefs defensive lineman Breeland Speaks, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a four-game ban for Speaks, though he’s on injured reserve and done for the year anyway. 

Speaks landed on IR after injuring his knee in a preseason game against the Texans. He’ll spend the offseason healing up, with an eye on bouncing back in 2020.

The former second-round pick played in every game last year for the Chiefs. He finished out with 24 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.

Speaks still has two full years to go on his rookie deal, tying him to KC through the 2021 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Re-Sign Nick Folk

Nick Folk is back. On Friday, the Patriots worked out the veteran kicker after one week away from the team and agreed to re-sign him (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The deal will be formally signed on Saturday. 

Folk missed last week due to an appendectomy, but he’s all healed up from the minor surgery and ready to retake the field. Kai Forbath was signed as a one-game replacement for Folk against the Texans, but received his pink slip earlier this week.

With the Pats, Folk has connected on 7-of-9 field goal tries and all three of his extra point attempts across three games. Two of those misses came last month against the Cowboys, but the Pats still came away with the 13-9 win, with Folk’s 42-yard connection in the fourth quarter helping to seal the deal.

In total, the Pats have used four kickers this season: Stephen GostkowskiMike Nugent, Folk, and Forbath. Even after Sunday’s loss to the Texans, they’re 10-2 on the year with yet another AFC East title all but sealed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Place KR Brandon Wilson On IR

Little has gone right for the 1-11 Bengals, but they do employ the NFL’s leading kick returner. They will finish the season without Brandon Wilson, however.

The Bengals placed their impact return man on IR, clearing a roster spot for tackle Isaiah Prince. The Bengals used their top spot in the waiver priority to claim the former Dolphins blocker.

Wilson’s 31.3-yard kick-return average tops all of this season’s return men. A 91-yard touchdown return against the Ravens boosted this figure, but the Bengals will have to make new arrangements at kick returner going forward. The defensive back/returner is dealing with a hand injury and went through the interesting succession of limited practice-full practice-DNP this week. A 2017 sixth-round pick, Wilson can be controlled next year via RFA tender.

Prince started two Dolphins games in October and played in four overall. The Dolphins drafted him in the sixth round this year and will no longer oversee his development. The Bengals now hold Prince’s through-2022 contract.

Adam Vinatieri To Miss Week 14

The Colts will have a new kicker Sunday. They declared Adam Vinatieri out with a knee injury, clearing the way for rookie Chase McLaughlin to handle kicking duties against the Buccaneers.

Vinatieri went through an MRI earlier this week, after appearing on Indianapolis’ injury report Wednesday. McLaughlin has kicked for the Chargers and 49ers this season, and his rookie-year work prompted the Patriots and Bills to submit waiver claims in an attempt to land him. The Colts carried the higher waiver priority and will see if the young specialist can solve some of their kicking woes.

This will halt Vinatieri’s run of appearances as a Colt. The future Hall of Famer, brought over from New England in 2006, has not missed a game due to injury since Super Bowl XLIV. The Colts signed Matt Stover to replace an injured Vinatieri after a knee injury ended his 2009 season after six games. He has kicked in every Colts game over the past 10 seasons.

The soon-to-be 47-year-old specialist remains on Indianapolis’ active roster, despite this being his worst season as a pro. Vinatieri has missed eight field goals and six extra points, almost certainly affecting the Colts’ playoff pursuit. Filling in for Michael Badgley and then Robbie Gould, McLaughlin has made 7 of 8 field goals and is 15-for-15 on PATs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Waive WR Donte Moncrief

Weeks after claiming Donte Moncrief, the Panthers will send him back to the waiver wire. Carolina cut Moncrief and will replace him with another wide receiver — practice squad promotion Greg Dortch — providing another sign the veteran is running out of chances.

The Panthers became the second team this season to cut bait on the sixth-year receiver, following the Steelers’ lead. Pittsburgh benched the 6-foot-4 talent, despite giving him its No. 2 wideout job after the preseason, early in the year before waiving him in early November.

A former third-round pick, Moncrief did not catch a pass in three outings with the Panthers. He caught four for 18 yards as a Steeler. This represents a steep descent for the former Colts and Jaguars cog, who caught 48 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns as a Jaguar last year. That prompted the Steelers to give him a two-year, $9MM deal. If no one claims Moncrief by Monday afternoon, he will be a free agent.

A 5-foot-7 rookie UDFA claimed by the Panthers in September, Dortch has played in one game with the Panthers. He served as Carolina’s return man in Week 9 against the Titans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Injury Notes: Cappa, Little, Lindstrom, Logan

The Buccaneers will be without starting right guard Alex Cappa this week, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN. Cappa sustained an elbow injury in Tampa Bay’s game against the Jaguars this past Sunday. Head coach Bruce Arians removed Cappa from the game in hopes that the precaution could allow Cappa to play this week, but unfortunately the injury is just too severe.

Veteran offensive lineman Earl Watford is behind Cappa on the depth chart and is expected to start in his place against the Colts. A six-year veteran, Watford has played all across the line, but is primarily an interior lineman. An injury earlier in the year forced Watford to start in place of Cappa for two games, so this will not be entirely unfamiliar territory for Tampa’s o-line.

Here’s some more injury notes from the NFC South:

  • Panthers tackle Greg Little was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons with an ankle injury, per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. While Little was selected with the 37th pick in this year’s draft by Carolina to immediately jump into their rotation along the line, injuries have limited him to only four appearances on the season. Little can play either tackle spot, but was listed as the team’s top left tackle on the depth chart. Fellow rookie Dennis Daley will likely return to the starting lineup in his place.
  • Rookie offensive guard Chris Lindstrom will return to the field for the first time since Week 1 for the Falcons. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta is activating Lindstrom from the injured reserve to start this week against the Panthers. The Falcons focused on solidifying their offensive line through the draft last offseason, selecting Lindstrom with the 14th overall pick and tackle Kaleb McGary later in the first round. Lindstrom, however, has been out since injuring his foot in the season opener and the offensive line has struggled mightily, allowing 38 sacks on the season.
  • Buccaneers running back T.J. Logan broke his thumb during practice and will be out for the remainder of the season, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times. Logan has played a couple dozen offensive snaps on the season, accruing 23 yards from scrimmage. His primary role though, is as the team’s punt and kickoff returner. This season, Logan averaged 9.5 yards per return on 13 punt returns and 20.8 yards per return on 13 kick returns. Jenna Laine of ESPN reports that Justin Watson and Sean Murphy-Bunting will share punt return duties while Dare Ogunbowale handles kick returns in Logan’s absence.

Greg Olsen Will Not Play Against Falcons

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will not play this week against the Falcons while he recovers from a concussion, tweets Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Olsen left Carolina’s game last Sunday against Washington after linebacker Ryan Anderson delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit. Anderson was ejected from the game, but Olsen continues to suffer the consequences from the play.

Over his 13-year career, Olsen has been one of the best and most consistent receiving tight ends in the NFL. While injuries limited his production in 2017 and 2018, Olsen was in the middle of a resurgent season as one of the Panthers leading receivers. In his 12 starts, Olsen has amassed 48 receptions for 552 yards.

Young tight end Ian Thomas filled in for Olsen last Sunday and is expected to do the same this week. While Thomas has only made five catches on the season, he started for Olsen six times in 2018 and averaged nearly seven catches for 40 yards a game. Of course, that production was with Cam Newton at quarterback, so Thomas will need to develop a stronger rapport with current starter Kyle Allen.

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