Dec 29, 2019; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) on the sidelines in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Kamara’s absences from camp contract-related

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara’s unexcused absences from training camp are believed to be contract-related, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

Saints coach Sean Payton has declined to specify a reason for the absences of Kamara, who has been missing from training camp since Friday.

Kamara, 25, is scheduled to make $2.133 million in the final year of his rookie contract, per

By comparison, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey signed an extension in April that will average $16 million per season. He received a four-year, $64 million deal.

Kamara rushed for 797 yards and added career lows in receiving yards (533) and touchdowns (six) last season while being hampered by knee and ankle injuries. He played in 14 games, starting nine.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection and 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Kamara has rushed for 2,408 yards and 27 touchdowns in 45 career games (25 starts) with the Saints. He also has 243 receptions for 2,068 yards and 10 scores.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Lions’ Patricia gives up defensive play calling

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is turning over the play calling on defense to first-year defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.

Patricia called the bulk of the plays last season when Paul Pasqualoni served as defensive coordinator. But with Undlin in charge of the plays, Patricia told reporters Monday that he’ll have more opportunity to help the Lions make in-game adjustments on offense and on special teams.

“Just in general, philosophy for me as a head coach is to manage the game, and make sure that I’m there for all three phases when questions come up and certainly (when) we’re talking through scenarios, situational football as it comes up through the course of the game, penalties, things like that, and then obviously input,” Patricia said.

“It’s free rein where I get to help and sometimes I see the game a little bit differently from my lens as the head coach as opposed to when you’re a coordinator and you’re dialed in to that call, that play, the next call or the next situation. Sometimes bigger picture stuff I can help with.”

Patricia’s record in his first two seasons leading the Lions is 9-22-1. He was the defensive coordinator for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for six seasons prior to moving on to Detroit and was with the Patriots from 2004-17.

Last season, the Lions’ defense was last in passing defense (284.4 yards per game) and 21st in rushing defense (115.9 yards). The Lions could have as many as six new starters on defense in 2020.

“Cory has been grinding away,” Patricia said. “He’s our defensive coordinator. He’s been working to understand everything that we’re doing defensively and obviously has his input.

“Cory and I have known each other a long time. Certainly without the spring it was obviously going to be interesting to see how training camp went and the operation and all that. He’s ready to go; he’s ready to call it and do what he’s got to do. He’s the defensive coordinator.”

Undlin will be calling the plays from the field instead of the booth. For the past five seasons, he was the defensive backs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Lions are scheduled to open the season against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 13 in Detroit.

–Field Level Media

Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner (54) makes an interception during the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

49ers place starting LB Warner on COVID-19 list

The San Francisco 49ers placed starting linebacker Fred Warner on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced Monday.

Warner missed practice on Sunday but the team didn’t list a reason.

He is the only player currently on the list. Wide receiver Richie James and running back Jeff Wilson were put on the list in July but were removed on Aug. 4.

The list is for players who either have tested positive or been quarantined due to close contact with a person who has the coronavirus. NFL clubs are not permitted to disclose which condition applies to a player on the list.

Warner, 23, was selected by the 49ers in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s been a key contributor since, starting all 32 regular-season games. He’s made 242 tackles (10 for loss) and added three sacks. He returned his lone career interception 46 yards for a touchdown in a win against the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 21.

He also intercepted a Patrick Mahomes pass in the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in February.

The 49ers are scheduled to host the Arizona Cardinals to open the season on Sept. 13.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara (20) goes down with an injury during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Raiders release CB Amukamara

The Las Vegas Raiders released cornerback Prince Amukamara, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo reported Monday.

Amukamara’s stay with the Raiders wasn’t a long one, as the former first-round pick signed with the team in May. That move came three months after he was released by the Chicago Bears.

The Raiders appear content to rely on second-year cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson to go with first-round pick Damon Arnette, fourth-rounder Amik Robertson and Nevin Lawson, among others.

Amukamara, 31, finished last season with 53 tackles and 10 pass breakups in 15 games, but he failed to record an interception after nabbing three in 2018. Across 44 games with the Bears, he totaled 29 pass breakups.

Amukamara spent his first six NFL seasons with the New York Giants (2011-15) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2016). He has recorded 477 tackles and 10 career interceptions in 113 games (99 starts) since being selected by the Giants with the 19th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Aug 31, 2017; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers running back Mike Majette (24) rushes the ball and is tackled by Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Haskell Garrett (92) and defensive lineman Jerron Cage (98) in the first quarter of the game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State DT Garrett set to leave hospital after gunshot

Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett was expected to be released from the hospital on Monday, a day after being shot in the face.

Coach Ryan Day issued a statement updating Garrett’s condition.

“Haskell Garrett has been receiving excellent care at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for the injuries he received on Sunday,” Day said. “We anticipate he will be released from the Medical Center this morning. On behalf of his family and this football program, we would like to thank all those who have been a part of Haskell’s treatment and we are grateful that he will be heading home today.

“We will continue to help him and his family any way we can to expedite his recovery.”

Day did not say when Garrett would be able to rejoin the Buckeyes, who will not play a traditional fall season because of the coronavirus.

Columbus police responded at 12:28 a.m. on Sunday to reports of a shooting on Chittenden Avenue in the city. They followed a trail of blood to an apartment on East 11th Avenue, where they located an injured Garrett.

A 6-foot-2 senior from Las Vegas, Garrett has played in 33 games for the Buckeyes. In 11 games in 2019, he had 10 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

He was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2017.

–Field Level Media

Aug 17, 2020; Berea, Ohio, USA;  Cleveland Browns linebacker Mack Wilson (51) runs a drill during training camp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns LB Wilson does not need surgery, eyes return

Cleveland Browns linebacker Mack Wilson could return to action in four to six weeks after learning that his hyperextended left knee will not require surgery, The Plain Dealer reported Monday.

“See y’all soon,” Wilson posted Sunday night on Twitter in response to a report by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that surgery was not necessary.

Wilson, 22, was carted off the practice field on Aug. 18 after breaking up a pass before hitting the ground.

While Wilson initially feared his season could be over before it started, renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews concurred with the Browns medical staff that the injury could heal on its own with rest and treatment.

Wilson was expected to fill a key role at linebacker in 2020. The second-year player, a fifth-round draft pick from Alabama in 2019, played in all 16 games last season, starting 14. He made 82 tackles (four for loss), had two quarterback hits with one sack and registered an interception and a forced fumble. He took part in 89 percent of the Browns’ plays on defense.

–Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2019; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn looks on during warm-ups before the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn has 16 players sidelined due to COVID-19 concerns

The Auburn football team will be without 16 players due to coronavirus concerns when it resumes practice on Tuesday, coach Gus Malzahn said.

Malzahn told reporters on Sunday that the team has nine players who have tested positive for COVID-19 and seven others who are deemed as high risk.

“We’re learning as we go here. Every day and every week is a challenge,” Malzahn said, according to 247Sports.

Malzahn revealed that two position groups had been impacted to an extent that the Tigers didn’t have full practices over the last few days.

NCAA guidelines require players who test positive to sit out for 10 days, and players who have had “high risk” contact with players who test positive have to sit out for 14 days. “High risk” contact is defined as 15 consecutive minutes in close contact while not wearing a mask or face covering.

Per Malzahn, Auburn protocols require at least 17 days before a player can return from a positive COVID-19 test. That includes a 10-day quarantine and a seven-day “re-acclimation period” before being fully cleared.

The SEC is using a 10-game conference-only scheduling format for this year because of the pandemic. The Tigers open the season Sept. 26 at home against Kentucky.

“There’s definitely an urgency, but the bottom line is the health and safety of our players is always going to be first,” Malzahn said. “When you’re going through this, there’s a competitive side, but we’re always going to put our team first — the mental and physical health of our players. Yeah, we understand we’re four weeks out. We feel like we have time to prepare.”

Cases of the coronavirus are rising at some SEC campuses.

At Alabama, more than 1,000 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since classes resumed Aug. 19, according to the University of Alabama system. And at South Carolina, where classes began Aug. 20, 620 students had tested positive for the virus as of Thursday, the school confirmed.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron (85) is defended by Houston Texans inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) in the fourth quarter  at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Colts 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Texans announce contract extension for LB Cunningham

Houston Texans inside linebacker Zach Cunningham signed a contract extension, the team announced Monday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the Texans, however the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday that Cunningham agreed to a four-year, $58 million contract extension with $23.5 million guaranteed.

Cunningham, who was set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2020 season, would now be locked up through the 2024 campaign under those terms.

The reported deal would make him the third-highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL behind Bobby Wagner (Seattle Seahawks) and C.J. Mosley (New York Jets).

Cunningham, 25, recorded 142 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries in 16 starts last season.

“Zach Cunningham is a guy who day in and day out just gets the job done and makes plays that always leave you shaking your head a little bit,” Houston defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver said, per ESPN. “You’re like, ‘how did he make that play?’”

Cunningham has collected 339 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries in his last three seasons since being selected by the Texans in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Aug 17, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) looks on during training camp at Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Jaguars waive RB Fournette

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, was waived by the team on Monday.

Head coach Doug Marrone said attempts were made to trade Fournette, who accounted for more than 30 percent of the Jaguars’ yards from scrimmage in 2019, but Jacksonville found no takers.

“We couldn’t get anything, a fifth, a sixth, anything. We couldn’t get anything,” Marrone said.

The LSU product was drafted four spots ahead of Christian McCaffrey, the eighth pick in 2017 to the Carolina Panthers, but becomes the latest prominent player ushered out of town by the Jaguars.

Since the 2019 trade deadline, the Jaguars have traded or released Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Fournette. The team reportedly floated Fournette in trade offers during the 2020 NFL Draft, and had nibbles from the Miami Dolphins, among other teams.

Fournette, 25, must clear waivers to become a free agent, but reportedly has interest in joining the Saints — he was born in New Orleans — and Kansas City Chiefs.

Ngakoue, 25, is headed to the Minnesota Vikings in a trade agreed to on Sunday. Ngakoue was given the franchise tag by the Jaguars in March, but refused to rejoin the team.

Fournette was bothered by injuries and never played a full 16-game regular season in his three years with the Jaguars.

He had a career-high 1,152 rushing yards and caught 76 passes for 522 yards in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Dec 15, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers free safety Derwin James (33) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers S James (meniscus) to miss ‘significant time’

San Diego Chargers safety Derwin James is expected to miss “significant time” because of a meniscus injury suffered during Sunday’s practice, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

James, who was selected first-team All-Pro as a rookie in 2018, was awaiting further medical evaluation on Sunday night. Rapoport tweeted that James could miss about four weeks if the meniscus needs trimmed, or he could be out several months if the meniscus needs repaired. Even in the best-case scenario, James will miss the start of the season for the second consecutive year.

James collected 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 13 passes defended and three interceptions as a rookie after being drafted 17th overall out of Florida State in 2018. He began last season on injured reserve due to a preseason foot surgery, but he returned to start the final five games and finish with 34 tackles, including three for loss.

He suffered the meniscus injury in a scrimmage Sunday and headed to the medical tent.

–Field Level Media