Dec 5, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) is pressured by linebacker T.J. Watt (90) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson questionable for Ravens vs. Rams

Lamar Jackson could make his return from injury Sunday for the Baltimore Ravens.

Jackson is listed as questionable on Baltimore’s injury report for the game against the visiting Los Angeles Rams despite sitting out the last two days of practice with an ongoing ankle injury.

Jackson injured the ankle in Week 14, a loss to the Cleveland Browns, and missed the past two games. The 2019 NFL MVP was limited in practice Wednesday before sitting out the following two days.

“I think he’s got a chance to play on Sunday,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters. “We’ll have to see. This time of year … it’s all hands on deck. Guys who are ready to play and can play will.”

If Jackson can’t go, the Ravens will turn to Tyler Huntley to start at quarterback. Huntley started in Week 15 in a 31-30 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but COVID-19 forced him to miss last week’s 41-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, when third-stringer Josh Johnson took the reins.

Huntley came off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday and returned to practice.

Jackson, 24, has thrown for 2,882 yards with 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 12 games this season. He also has rushed 767 yards and two scores.

Baltimore (8-7) also ruled out two players for the Rams game: cornerback Anthony Averett (ribs, chest) and guard Ben Powers (foot). Other players deemed questionable include receiver Marquise Brown (non-COVID illness), receiver Devin Duvernay (ankle) and fullback Patrick Ricard (knee). Linebacker Odafe Oweh (foot) is doubtful.

–Field Level Media

Dec 23, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (thumb) doubtful vs. Texans

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is doubtful for Sunday’s home game against the Houston Texans due to his injured passing thumb.

Garoppolo has a torn ligament and chipped bone in his right thumb. He missed all three practices this week and the 49ers didn’t allow him to attempt any throws.

“That’s why we didn’t have him go out there, because we were told each day that we can push it off one more, it gives him a better chance for it to stay,” San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after Friday’s practice. “So we’re trying to hold off throwing until (Saturday), possibly Sunday.”

Garoppolo was injured during a 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 23. He has started 14 of San Francisco’s 15 games this season and passed for 3,494 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Garoppolo sat out Week 5 with a calf injury when the 49ers lost 17-10 to the Arizona Cardinals.

Rookie Trey Lance is in line to make his second career start. Lance completed 15 of 29 passes for 192 yards and one interception against the Cardinals, and also rushed for 89 yards on 16 carries.

Lance has played in five games and has 354 yards, three touchdowns and one interceptions. The No. 3 overall pick has rushed for 137 yards and one score.

However, Shanahan wasn’t ready Friday to name Lance the starter against the Texans.

“Jimmy’s not out,” said Shanahan, “so I’m holding out hope.”

The 49ers (8-7) will likely have leading rusher Elijah Mitchell (759 yards) back on the field. His knee injury has progressed and he was a limited practice participant all week after missing the past three games.

Linebackers Dre Greenlaw (groin) and Azeez Al-Shaair (knee) and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst were all ruled out. Safety Talanoa Hufanga (knee) is doubtful.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Washington Football Team at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos’ COVID list grows to 16, including Jerry Jeudy, Bradley Chubb

The Denver Broncos added five more players to the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday as they deal with an outbreak ahead of their Week 17 game at the Los Angeles Chargers.

Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, defensive lineman McTelvin Agim and linebackers Bradley Chubb, Jonathon Cooper and Baron Browning were placed on the list.

Jeudy, Chubb and Browning are starters. Denver coach Vic Fangio told reporters that those three, plus Agim, tested positive.

Other Broncos on the list that numbers 16 include wide receiver Tim Patrick, running back Mike Boone and cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Mike Ford. But the Broncos aren’t concerned they will be too short-handed to play.

“I’m zeroed in on a Sunday kickoff,” Fangio told reporters. “Until I’m told otherwise, I’m ready for a 1:05 (p.m.) kickoff West Coast time.

The Broncos called up four players from the practice squad as COVID-19 replacements, including Travis Fulgham, who led the Philadelphia Eagles in receiving last season.

Jeudy has hauled in 36 catches for 437 yards this season, his second in the NFL, over nine games (five starts). Chubb has started all six of his appearances in 2021; both players, former first-round draft picks, have missed time due to injuries.

Also, starting receiver Courtland Sutton’s testing results haven’t been confirmed and he could be added to the list. The team held Sutton out of Friday’s walkthrough practice.

Defensive line coach Bill Kollar is also on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the only Denver coach in protocol as of Friday.

–Field Level Media

Central Michigan's Lew Nichols III runs for yardage against Washington State University during the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl game at University of Texas El Paso on Dec. 31, 2021.

Mg 1200

Central Michigan holds off Washington State in Sun Bowl

Lew Nichols III rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown as Central Michigan ended its strange postseason odyssey with a 24-21 Sun Bowl victory against Washington State on a rainy Friday in El Paso, Texas.

Marshall Meeder added three field goals for the Chippewas (9-4), who were originally scheduled to play in the Arizona Bowl until Boise State pulled out Monday due to a COVID-19 outbreak. With Miami having to exit the Sun Bowl for the same reason, Central Michigan struck a deal to bus 300-plus miles from Tucson, Ariz., to El Paso to meet the Cougars.

Nichols scored on a 1-yard run with 57 seconds left in the first quarter to give CMU a 13-0 lead. That followed 49- and 52-yard field goals by Meeder.

A 45-yard punt return by Kalil Pimpleton to WSU’s 9-yard line set up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Richardson to tight end Joel Wilson with 1:48 remaining in the second quarter. A two-point conversion gave the Chippewas a 21-0 halftime lead.

The Cougars (7-6), who were without their top two running backs and three starting offensive linemen between opt-outs, transfers and injuries, finally got going late in the third quarter behind backup quarterback Victor Gabalis, who replaced the injured Jayden de Laura at the half.

The Chippewas had a chance to extend their lead in the third, but a red-zone fumble and a missed field goal thwarted drives.

WSU got on the board with 4:02 left in the quarter on a 5-yard run by wide receiver Travell Harris out of the wildcat formation. That came after the Chippewas were called for roughing the passer on an incomplete pass on fourth-and-4 to extend the drive.

Travion Brown’s interception gave the Cougars the ball at CMU’s 23-yard line. They took advantage, with Gabalis hitting De’Zhaun Stribling on a 5-yard slant on fourth-and-goal to make it 21-14 with 2:24 left in the third.

WSU’s Ron Stone Jr. blocked a 25-yard field-goal attempt to keep it a one-score game with 12:40 remaining.

The Cougars were stopped on fourth-and-1 from their own 32 on their next possession and Meeder connected from 43 yards to make it 24-14 with 9:11 left.

Gabalis threw a 13-yard scoring strike to Lincoln Victor to cap the scoring with 3:13 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; New York Giants center Billy Price (69) waits to snap the ball against the Washington Football Team during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Giants center Billy Price doubtful after wife’s miscarriage

New York Giants center Billy Price is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s road game against the Chicago Bears because his wife, Taylor, suffered a miscarriage 15 weeks into her pregnancy.

Price, 27, who has been away from the Giants this week, addressed the situation on Thursday night on Instagram.

“It is with the most shattered hearts that we have to share the news of our Baby Boy gaining his Angel Wings and being with God in heaven. We are heartbroken that this is our new reality and cannot wrap our heads around it,” Price wrote on Instagram.

“I pray that no one ever has to endure this pain and I pray for everyone who already has gone through this or are going through it now. It is hands down the hardest and most painful experience we have ever been through. We are so grateful for the 15 weeks we had with our baby, the excitement our boy gave us & the amount of love and joy we have felt watching him grow and my wife’s body change.

“Thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts to our family, friends, community and the Giants organization for being so accommodating. We love and appreciate you all. Please allow us some time and space to heal and to focus on each other right now.”

The couple was expecting their first child in June.

New York coach Joe Judge said the organization will do whatever it can to help the Prices deal with the situation.

“We fully support Billy, fully support Billy as an organization, him and his wife as just individuals and their family and what they’re going through right now,” Judge told reporters. “We left the door open to Billy in a lot of ways in terms of whatever he needs from us. When I talked to him earlier in the week, I let him know, ‘Hey, listen, if you’ve got to come in here and let this be a distraction, if you want to stay engaged with the game plan, if you want to come out and practice and blow off some steam and hit the weight room, whatever you’ve got to do.’

“He’s dealing with something that a lot of us have been blessed that we haven’t had to deal with. He’s going through something personally that we’ve got to make sure we account for and give him support as an organization, as a person. I wouldn’t fully rule him out (Sunday) at this moment, but he has not been at practice with us. He’s not been in-person in the meetings.”

Price is the second NFL player in two weeks to deal with such a tragedy

Indianapolis Colts star center Ryan Kelly and wife, Emma, are grieving the death of a baby daughter.

According to the Kellys, Emma was 19 weeks pregnant when doctors told the family on Dec. 16 that the heart of daughter Mary Kate had stopped beating. Emma gave birth the following day, and Kelly missed the following two games but is expected to play this Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Price has started 14 of New York’s 15 games since being acquired from the Cincinnati Bengals shortly before the start of the season. He was a first-round pick of Cincinnati in 2018 and has started 33 of 57 career games played.

The Giants have ruled out receivers Kadarius Toney (shoulder), John Ross (knee, COVID-19) and Collin Johnson (hamstring). Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (quadriceps, COVID ramp up), offensive tackle Nate Solder (COVID ramp up), tight end Chris Myarick (hip) and defensive lineman Austin Johnson (foot) are questionable.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton (14) passes the football in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Bears to start Andy Dalton over Nick Foles in home finale

The Chicago Bears named quarterback Andy Dalton to start in the team’s home finale Sunday against the New York Giants.

Dalton will take over from Nick Foles, who guided the Bears to a 25-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks last week to end a three-game losing streak. Foles had taken over for rookie QB Justin Fields, who was out with an ankle injury.

Dalton started the first two games of the season for the Bears, until he was replaced by Fields. Dalton also started in Weeks 12 and 13. Chicago is 2-2 in Dalton starts this season.

Dalton, 34, has passed for 1,017 yards this season with six touchdowns and six interceptions. He was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list Dec. 23 but did not play last Sunday.

Foles threw for 250 yards with a TD and no interceptions against the Seahawks, making his first appearance this season after starting seven of the nine games he played for the Bears last season.

–Field Level Media

Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) is pressured in the pocket during the second quarter Friday, Dec. 31, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights faced each other in the 2021 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

No. 17 Wake Forest pulls away from Rutgers in 38-10 Gator Bowl win

Sam Hartman passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns as No. 17 Wake Forest dominated the final two and a half quarters on the way to an easy 38-10 win over Rutgers on Friday afternoon in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

The victory allowed the Demon Deacons (11-3) to match their most wins in a single season, last achieved in 2006.

Ten of Hartman’s passes were caught by A.T. Perry for 127 yards. The Demon Deacons outgained Rutgers 452 to 271 yards and outrushed the Scarlet Knights 148 to 106.

Noah Vedral led Rutgers (5-8) with 87 yards passing before being replaced at quarterback by Gavin Wimsatt. Five players threw passes for the Scarlet Knights in the loss.

Wake Forest was set to play No. 25 Texas A&M in the bowl game, but the Aggies pulled out of the contest on Dec. 22 because a combination of season-ending injuries and COVID-19 within the program. Rutgers was chosen to fill the vacancy because it had the highest academic progress rate score among the nation’s teams with 5-7 records.

The Scarlet Knights are the bowl team that entered the postseason with a losing record.

The Demon Deacons took the opening kickoff and drove 84 yards in nine plays, culminating with Hartman’s 4-yard TD pass to Brandon Chapman. Rutgers responded on its initial possession and tied the score on Aaron Young’s 12-yard scoring run at the 5:11 mark of the first quarter.

Hartman immediately marched Wake Forest back into the lead, hitting Perry for a 29-yard catch-and-run touchdown. The Scarlet Knights cut their deficit to 14-10 via Valentino Ambrosio’s 28-yard field goal three minutes into the second quarter.

Nick Sciba added to the Demon Deacons’ lead with field goals from 37 and 29 yards — the latter on the final snap of the first half — and then a 23-yarder with 6:37 to play in the third quarter.

Hartman found Chapman again with a 1-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter. Justice Ellison then capped the scoring with a 27-yard touchdown run with 4:15 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Mississippi Rebels helmet on the field before a game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Mississippi Rebels at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Weis Jr. accepts offensive coordinator job at Ole Miss

Charlie Weis Jr. will join Ole Miss as offensive coordinator.

Head coach Lane Kiffin confirmed Weis’ hiring Friday at a news conference in New Orleans, where the No. 8 Rebels will meet No. 6 Baylor in the Sugar Bowl on Saturday.

Weis is reuniting with Kiffin, who hired him in January 2018 to serve in the same position at Florida Atlantic. Weis and Kiffin previously worked together on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama.

“We’re excited to bring Charlie Weis aboard,” Kiffin said. “Charlie’s been with us before at Alabama and FAU. He’s very familiar with how we do things.”

Weis, 28, spent the past two seasons at South Florida as the offensive coordinator. He is the son of former Notre Dame and Kansas coach Charlie Weis, who also spent several years as an NFL assistant coach.

The younger Weis is replacing Jeff Lebby, who will leave Ole Miss after the Sugar Bowl to become offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, his alma mater.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Boulder, Colorado, USA; General view of a Colorado Buffaloes helmet and football before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado football assistant loses home in wildfire

A Colorado assistant football coach said he and his family lost “everything” in the wildfires burning near Denver.

As many as 1,000 homes may have been destroyed in the Marshall Fire, Gov. Jared Polis and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said Friday. The fires were whipped by winds that reached 105 miles per hour in the Superior and Louisville areas of Boulder County as well as nearby Broomfield.

Mark Smith, the inside linebackers coach for the Buffaloes, shared the status of his property in a tweet Thursday evening.

“Just got word that every material possession we had today is now gone,” Smith wrote. “Our home, cars, and everything we had in our home lost to the fires that ripped through our community. Thank you to those who reached out. Processing how to completely start over and grateful for our health.”

Smith’s family includes his wife, Michelle, and their three children. The area where their home was located was under an evacuation order.

Smith, 43, just finished his first season on the Colorado staff. He previously was the defensive backs coach at Arkansas, an offensive and defensive assistant at SMU and on the staff at Oklahoma. Long Island University hired him as the defensive coordinator in July 2020, but its season wasn’t played because of the pandemic.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) catches the ball for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers activate WR Mike Evans from COVID protocol

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers activated receiver Mike Evans from the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, potentially clearing the way for him to play Sunday against the New York Jets.

He is still recovering from a hamstring strain he sustained in Week 15, and the team did not say whether he’d be ready for action when the Buccaneers (11-4) visit the Jets (4-11).

Evans, 28, missed the Week 16 win against the Carolina Panthers because of the injury, then entered the health and safety protocol on Monday.

The Buccaneers also placed punter Bradley Pinion on the COVID list Friday, where he joins three others: wide receiver Jaelon Darden and cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting.

Evans is the Buccaneers’ second-leading receiver behind Chris Godwin, who is on injured reserve and out for the season. Evans has 899 yards and a team-leading 11 touchdowns. Those 11 scoring catches rank second in the NFL to the 14 by the Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp.

Already the first player in NFL history to begin his career with seven straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, Evans is just 101 yards shy of making it eight in a row.

Pinion, 27, started the first 14 games of the season but was sidelined in Week 16 because of a right hip issue. He has a gross average of 42.4 yards and a net average of 38.5 yards on 53 punts this year — with 23 of them downed inside the 20 and two touchbacks.

–Field Level Media