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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

Football

Here is how long Christian McCaffrey will miss with hamstring injury

Christian McCaffrey hamstring

Christian McCaffrey left Thursday night’s game against the Houston Texans with a hamstring injury, and we now have a better idea of how long the Carolina Panthers star might be out.

Ian Rapoport of NFL media reports that McCaffrey is expected to miss “a few weeks.” While McCaffrey will undergo more tests, there may be one positive sign for Panthers fans — he is not expected to go on injured reserve.

You can see the play where McCaffrey injured his hamstring here.

If the Panthers do place McCaffrey on IR, he would be required to sit out at least three games. The fact that they have not committed to doing that is an indication that they believe he could return sooner.

Rookie Chuba Hubbard is expected to get the bulk of the carries and backfield work for the Panthers while McCaffrey is out. The former Oklahoma State star had 52 yards rushing on 11 attempts in Thursday’s win over the Texans. He added 27 receiving yards on three catches.

Odell Beckham Jr to make season debut against Bears

Odell Beckham Jr

Odell Beckham Jr. sat out the first two weeks of the season as he continued to recover from knee surgery, but the Cleveland Browns star is set to make his 2021 debut.

Beckham was not listed on the Browns’ injury report on Friday, which means he will play against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Jarvis Landry was placed on injured reserve this week due to a knee injury of his own, so Beckham’s return is timely.

Beckham appeared in just seven games last year before suffering a torn ACL. He caught 23 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns.

Landry offered a promising take on Beckham’s recovery during the offseason.

Photo: Erik Drost/Flickr via CC-BY 2.0

Carson Wentz could start Sunday despite ankle injuries?

Carson Wentz Colts

Carson Wentz injured both of his ankles in the Indianapolis Colts’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week, and it has been widely assumed that he will miss at least one game. Perhaps that will not be the case.

Wentz was a surprise participant in practice on Friday, which puts him on track to play in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Wentz had not practiced this week prior to that, which is why the development was unexpected. The Colts gave Brett Hundley the majority of first-team reps in practice on Thursday, which many took as an indication that he could start in Week 3 over primary backup Jacob Eason.

One of the things that has held Wentz back throughout his career is his inability to stay on the field. A Philadelphia Eagles executive alluded to that with his harsh assessment of Wentz’s time with the team recently. Perhaps Wentz is prepared to play hurt to shake that reputation.

Twitter reacts to big NFL playoff schedule change

Roger Goodell

The NFL has officially announced that Monday night football is coming to the playoffs, and the news drew mixed reactions from fans and the media.

The NFL expanded the playoffs last season by adding a wild card team to each conference. There were three Wild Card Weekend games held on Saturday and three on Sunday. Beginning in 2021, however, there will be two games on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday night.

There were a variety of responses to the big change on Twitter:

A lot of concerns were raised over teams having to play on short rest. That already happens with some games on Sundays and some on Saturdays, but the Monday night game now guarantees a short week for the winner. The NFL will likely avoid making it even shorter by assuring that the two teams that meet on Monday night will play the following Sunday.

Obviously, the NFL made the change with ratings in mind. NFL fans are already accustomed to games on Monday nights, and there is little doubt the Monday night playoff game will draw better ratings than it would have on Saturday. As with any change, however, there is sure to be plenty of opposition.

Stephen A. Smith has message for Steelers

Stephen A. Smith

Ben Roethlisberger is banged up heading into Week 3, and Stephen A. Smith believes there is an obvious insurance policy sitting out there for the Pittsburgh Steelers that they have yet to capitalize on.

During Thursday’s edition of ESPN’s “First Take,” Smith said he is baffled that the Steelers have not yet reached out to Cam Newton.

“He can run with the football. Granted, he’s not as mobile as he used to be, but he’s considerably more mobile than Ben Roethlisberger and he’s younger,” Smith said. “So the combination of those two, with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins as your options, why hasn’t Cam been called already? That’s how I’m looking at it.”

Newton remains a free agent after he was released by the New England Patriots prior to Week 1. As Smith mentioned, the Steelers already have Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins on their roster. Haskins was said to have impressed the team during training camp, but head coach Mike Tomlin had a harsh assessment of him after the final preseason game.

Roethlisberger has played through numerous injuries during his career, and he will likely try to do the same with his pectoral muscle injury.

Newton may not even want to sign with the Steelers if Roethlisberger is going to play. Unless he has an opportunity to start, Newton doesn’t have much financial incentive to play this season.

Ezekiel Elliott responds to critics of his big contract

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott on Thursday responded to critics of his big contract.

Elliott has been outplayed by Tony Pollard through two games. Though it is early in the season, there have already been critics pointing out how much more Elliott is being paid to not be the top performer.

Elliott basically went scoreboard on them all and said that he’s still cashing his checks regardless of his role.

Elliott has to say something about the matter and that’s the best he can come up with.

The 26-year-old was valuable as a rookie and had big seasons in 2018 and 2019. He signed a 6-year, $90 million deal prior to the 2019 season and delivered. But his role diminished last year and that has continued this year. So long as the direct deposits keep coming through though, Elliott won’t seem to mind.

David Culley had one of the most ‘cowardly’ punts in years

David Culley

David Culley did not receive a nice distinction regarding one of his decisions to punt on Thursday night.

Culley is in his first season as the head coach of the Houston Texans. His team lost 24-9 at home to the Carolina Panthers.

The game was actually close at halftime at 7-6. Houston got the ball to start the third quarter and drove into Carolina territory. They ultimately had a 4th-and-4 at the Carolina 39 but decided to punt. They took a delay of game penalty first before punting.

The “surrender index,” which tracks and evaluates whether teams should go for it, rated the decision as among the most cowardly punts since 1999.

That’s not nice.

However, there should be more context to this decision.

The Texans are playing with Davis Mills as their quarterback. He is a rookie and had just thrown five straight incompletions. That probably didn’t inspire much faith in Culley.

On the other hand, you play to win the game, as Herman Edwards says. If you’re trying to win, taking a chance on that 4th-and-4 play was probably the way to go.

The Texans beat the Jags in Week 1. We don’t expect them to win many more games the rest of the season, certainly not with Mills at QB.

Video: Sam Darnold did a real dynamite job on this block attempt

Sam Darnold block

Sam Darnold had a nice game for the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, but he did have one funny moment.

Darnold’s Panthers ran a reverse in the second half of their 24-9 win over the Houston Texans. Darnold took a snap and handed the ball to Chuba Hubbard, who then pitched the ball to DJ Moore.

Darnold was around as the lead blocker on the play, though his effort on Jacob Martin left a lot to be desire.

Take a look:

They’ll have some laughs over that one during film study.

This story isn’t intended to question Darnold’s toughness in the least bit. He scored two rushing touchdowns and got beat up on one of them. But seeing a QB try to block like that is humorous. At least it was better than Tim Tebow’s effort.

NFL could have wild card playoff game on a Monday

Roger Goodell

The NFL playoffs traditionally take place over the course of four weekends, but they may be making a change this season.

The league already expanded to seven playoff teams last season compared to the previous amount of six. That meant an extra wild card game for each conference was played, giving us a total of six games on the first weekend of the playoffs. Under the previous format, only four games took place in the Wild Card Round.

This postseason, one of the wild card playoff games could take place on a Monday. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says there would be two Saturday games, three Sunday games, and a Monday game if such a change were made.

NFL fans are already used to games being played on Monday nights, so they would likely be up for it, and the game would likely do great ratings. But there is one possible issue.

If two teams played on Monday, that would mean the winner of the game would have less time to prepare for its next game compared to its opponent. The coaches involved in the Monday playoff game probably would not be happy about that disadvantage.

Here is the play where Christian McCaffrey suffered hamstring injury

Christian McCaffrey hamstring

Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in Thursday’s Carolina Panthers game at the Houston Texans. The versatile back suffered the injury early in the second quarter and headed to the medical tent. A few minutes later, FOX’s Erin Andrews reported that McCaffrey was out for the rest of the game.

FOX did not immediately pick up on the moment when McCaffrey got hurt. However, they later showed this clip of McCaffrey pulling up lame while rushing inside the red zone on second down.

McCaffrey pulled himself out of the game after that play and did not return. He was quickly ruled out, which is generally not a positive sign.

The 25-year-old had 7 carries for 31 yards and two catches for nine yards in the game.

McCaffrey only played in three games last season due to shoulder and ankle injuries.