Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (89) is upended by the San Francisco 49ers in the first half during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Rams TE Tyler Higbee avoids serious knee injury

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee avoided significant damage to his knee during the NFC Championship Game, NFL Network reported Monday.

The extent of the injury — as well as his availability for Super Bowl LVI — is not immediately known, however.

Kendall Blanton would see a significant uptick in playing time should Higbee sit out against the Cincinnati Bengals on Feb. 13 in Inglewood, Calif.

Blanton, 26, had five catches for 57 yards in Sunday’s 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. He totaled four receptions for 37 yards in 11 games this season.

Higbee limped off the field Sunday after he was injured during the first quarter.

The 29-year-old Higbee caught two passes for 18 yards before exiting. He has nine catches for 115 yards in three games this postseason.

Higbee caught 61 passes for 560 yards and matched his career high of five touchdowns in 15 regular-season games. The receptions and yardage were the second most of his six-year career, all with the Rams.

–Field Level Media

Helmets sit on the field before an NCAA football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Oklahoma won 28-24. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Another blue-chip prospect decommits from Oklahoma

DeAndre Moore Jr., one of the top wide receivers in the Class of 2023, decommitted from Oklahoma.

The four-star prospect is the sixth player from the class to decommit from the Sooners since former coach Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma in late November to take the head-coaching job at Southern California.

Six more players in the Class of 2022 also decommitted since Riley’s exit.

Moore plays at talent-rich Los Alamitos High School, just about 25 miles from USC, so a reunion with Riley there could be in the offing. Already a pair of five-star high school teammates — quarterback Malachi Nelson and wide receiver Makai Lemon — switched their commitments from the Sooners to the Trojans.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Moore announced his decision Monday on Twitter.

“Sooner Nation has been nothing short of great and I’m thankful for the love all of you showed,” he posted.

“With that being said, I am reopening my recruitment and de-committing from The University of Oklahoma.

Moore is ranked as the No. 4 wide receiver and No. 48 overall player by the 247Sports composite.

–Field Level Media

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh walks off the field after the Wolverines' 34-11 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl.

Syndication Detroit Free Press

Report: Jim Harbaugh has ‘legitimate interest’ in Vikings’ job

Jim Harbaugh has been making inroads toward a return to the NFL.

The Michigan head coach interviewed for the same position with the Minnesota Vikings over the weekend.

ESPN reported Harbaugh “conveyed legitimate interest” in the club and added the Vikings’ management came away “feeling Harbaugh is ready to return to the NFL.”

Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans will be given second interviews with Minnesota, NFL Network reported.

The Vikings head-coaching job is available after the team fired Mike Zimmer on Jan. 10.

Zimmer, 65, posted a 72-56-1 record during his eight seasons at the helm in Minnesota, although the club finished under .500 in each of the past two seasons.

Harbaugh, 58, owns a 61-24 record during his seven seasons at Michigan, his alma mater. That came following a 44-19-1 run during his stint with the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14). He guided the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship Games and an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates a touchdown reception with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) against the San Francisco 49ers in the first half during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl LVI: Rams action moving betting line

Early support for the Los Angeles Rams has already caused a shift in the odds ahead of Super Bowl LVI.

After opening as 4.0-point favorites at most major sportsbooks Sunday night, the Rams moved to 4.5-point favorites at several by mid-day Monday. That includes DraftKings, where Los Angeles is being backed by 55 percent of the spread-line handle, although Cincinnati has drawn 64 percent of the total bets.

BetMGM installed the opening line at 3.5 points, but it moved to 4.0 points with one-sided action on the Rams, who are being backed by 58 percent of the bets and 67 percent of the spread-line money.

The action on the moneyline has been more favorable to the Bengals. At +140 at BetMGM, they have been backed by 72 percent of the bets and 60 percent of the handle. Meanwhile, their +165 line at DraftKings has been supported by 74 and 58 percent, respectively.

The Over/Under has remained at 49.5 points at most books. The Over has been backed by 53 percent of the bets and 65 percent of the money at BetMGM, while the action has been nearly split at DraftKings with the Over garnering 51 percent of both markets.

Cincinnati reaching its first Super Bowl since 1988 was a win for most sportsbooks. The Bengals opened the season as +8000 longshots at BetMGM. However, with only 7.6 percent of the tickets supporting the Bengals and little of the action on them coming early in the season, they weren’t as big a liability to sportsbooks as Kansas City, which Cincinnati eliminated in the AFC Championship Game.

“Bengals upsetting the Chiefs was a strong result for BetMGM in the Conference Championships,” said Jason Scott, vice president of trading at BetMGM. “The sportsbook was a winner on the Super Bowl regardless of which final four team won, but the Chiefs losing was the best result.”

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is the current favorite to win Super Bowl MVP honors at +110 at BetMGM, where he has been backed by 7.4 percent of the bets and 8.0 percent of the money. That’s second only to Joe Burrow at 11.8 and 14.1 percent, respectively, making the Bengals quarterback the sportsbook’s biggest liability in the MVP market.

Stafford is being offered at -110 at DraftKings, followed by Burrow (+210), Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (+650) and Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (+1800).

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) stretches before the AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs Jan 30 Afc Championship 21

Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah’s knee sprain ‘encouraging’

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah suffered an MCL sprain in Sunday’s AFC Championship game and will have a chance to play in the Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor on Monday called the MRI results “encouraging.”

“Don’t know anything further at this point but it seems to be encouraging initially,” Taylor said.

Uzomah injured his left knee in the first quarter and exited Sunday’s game against the host Kansas City Chiefs. Uzomah returned to the field early in the third quarter in street clothes, sporting crutches and a big knee brace. He had zero catches on two targets before the injury.

Uzomah was hurt on an incomplete pass in which he was the recipient of a hit from Kansas City linebacker Anthony Hitchens. He hobbled to the sideline and was carted to the locker room.

The 29-year-old Uzomah had 13 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown in Cincinnati’s first two playoff victories. The seven-year veteran who has spent his entire career with the Bengals established career bests of 49 receptions, 493 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games during the regular season.

Super Bowl LVI is Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll gestures during warmups before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Buffalo Bills won 41-15. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Daboll’s mission: Bring out ‘best version’ of Giants QB Daniel Jones

Brian Daboll said his priority as the new coach of the New York Giants will be to help quarterback Daniel Jones reach his potential.

Daboll, 46, met the media for the first time since he was hired on Friday and said it’s time for Jones to have some coaching stability. Entering his fourth NFL season, Jones will be learning from his third head coach and fourth offensive coordinator.

“There’s a lot of things to like about Daniel, and we’ll just take it one day at a time, we’ll work with him, we’ll help him get better,” Daboll said of Jones, 24. “We’ll help him be a better leader, we’ll help him be everything. That’s our job as a coaching staff and as an organization. It takes everybody. It’s not just me. It’s the rest of the coaches on our staff, it’s the scouts, it’s the support staff, it’s the ownership group. It takes a lot to raise a quarterback, if you will. He’s been around the block these last three years with some different pieces. We’re going to try to give him some stability and just take it from there.”

Jones was the No. 6 overall draft pick in 2019. In his most recent position as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, Daboll worked with the No. 7 pick of the 2018 draft — Josh Allen.

Allen threw for 4,407 yards and 36 touchdowns this season, but Daboll said he doesn’t expect Jones to turn into the eastern New York version of Allen.

“We’re going to take it day by day,” Daboll said. “We’re not going to make any predictions, and I wouldn’t do that to Daniel or really any player. I don’t think that’s fair to compare him to another guy that I was working with. He’s himself. We’re going to find out what he does well, we’re going to try to implement a system that suits him, and then it’s our job to bring pieces in that help him to be the best version of himself and the best quarterback for us.”

New general manager Joe Schoen, who worked with Daboll in Buffalo, also committed to Jones as quarterback in his introductory news conference last week.

Jones, 24, was limited to 11 games in 2021 because of a neck injury sustained in a Week 12 win over the Philadelphia Eagles that ended his season. Jones, the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, completed 232 passes for 2,428 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season.

Since taking over from two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning in 2019, Jones is 12-25 as the starting quarterback, throwing for 8,398 total yards with 45 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA;  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throws a pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo favored to land with WFT or Steelers

Will Jimmy Garoppolo get out of the frying pan and go straight into the fire?

Less than a day after San Francisco’s season ended with a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, one sportsbook is offering odds on Garoppolo’s next NFL destination should the 49ers trade him this offseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Football Team opened as the co-+400 favorites at SportsBetting.ag.

Pittsburgh, one of the NFL’s most revered franchises, is replacing Ben Roethlisberger, who retired after 18 NFL seasons and two Super Bowl titles. The Steelers reached the postseason despite declining effectiveness in the passing game from Roethlisberger.

Washington has reached the playoffs only once since 2015 and hasn’t won a postseason game since 2005, but has a roster loaded with young talent on defense and at the skill positions. Journeyman Taylor Heinicke was adequate in taking over for injured Ryan Fitzpatrick this season but the WFT is expected to take a strong look more dynamic veteran quarterback options available this offseason.

Will Garoppolo be among them?

That debate heated up in the aftermath of the 49ers blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the Rams.

On one hand, Garoppolo led the 49ers to six wins in a seven-game stretch leading up to the NFC title game, including rallying San Francisco from 17 points down against the Rams in Week 17 just to reach the playoffs.

On the other hand, there is the presence of 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance. If the 49ers believe the former North Dakota State star is ready to take the reins of a championship-caliber team next season, coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch may decide to move on from Garoppolo.

Several playoff-caliber teams are likely to be in the market for a veteran quarterback, especially with the 2022 NFL Draft class considered to be weak at the position.

SportsBetting.ag opened the Garoppolo market with +550 odds on Tampa Bay as his next team with Tom Brady reportedly headed for retirement.

The Denver Broncos, who are also expected to be strong suitors for Aaron Rodgers should he request out of Green Bay, are next at +600. They’re followed by the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Las Vegas Raiders at +700.

If the 49ers do move on from Garoppolo, his final pass for San Francisco will have been an interception under immense pass rush pressure that effectively ended Sunday’s game.

“We’ll see what happens in these next couple days, weeks, whatever,” Garoppolo said after the game. “I love this team. Just the fight and the battle in this team throughout the entire year has been really impressive. And I love these guys.”

Jimmy Garoppolo Next Team Odds:
Steelers: +400
Washington: +400
Bucs: +550
Broncos: +600
Dolphins: +700
Panthers: +700
Raiders: +700
Packers: +1000
Texans: +1000
Browns: +1200
Colts: +1400

–Field Level Media

Aug 30, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll (left) talks with quarterback Austin Davis (6) against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason game at CenturyLink Field. The Raiders defeated the Seahawks 30-19. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Auburn OC Austin Davis leaving after a month

Auburn offensive coordinator Austin Davis is leaving the program a month after getting hired, multiple outlets reported Monday.

National Signing Day is Wednesday.

Auburn hired Davis in December from the Seattle Seahawks, where he was the quarterbacks coach. However, Davis only recently joined the Tigers since Seattle’s season didn’t end until Jan. 9.

It’s unclear why Davis is leaving, with reports varying from him rethinking the move to personal reasons.

Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin hired Davis to replace Mike Bobo, who was fired after one year on the job. Harsin and Davis are scheduled to meet Monday.

Davis, 32, didn’t participate in Auburn’s Junior Day recruiting event this past weekend.

Davis played 16 games (10 starts) at quarterback for three different teams in the NFL. He went 3-7 with St. Louis, Cleveland and Seattle, throwing for 2,548 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

He joined Seattle as assistant quarterbacks coach in 2019 and was promoted to QBs coach in 2020.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia reacts during the game against the Denver Broncos Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Jags interviewing Rich Bisaccia, botch Kevin O’Connell request

The Jacksonville Jaguars are interviewing former Las Vegas Raiders coach Rich Bisaccia on Monday but botched the timing to talk with Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, ESPN reported.

Bisaccia, who started the season as the special teams coordinator in Las Vegas, took over as interim head coach after the October resignation of Jon Gruden. The 61-year-old led the Raiders to a 7-5 finish to the regular season and the playoffs amid some high-profile distractions but lost out on the permanent job to Josh McDaniels, whom the Raiders reportedly are set to hire.

The Jaguars reportedly had three finalists for their head coach opening but two of those — Matt Eberflus and Nathaniel Hackett — accepted other offers last week. That left Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich as the leading candidate to replace Urban Meyer, who was fired after posting a 2-11 record and committing a series of off-field missteps.

However, the Jaguars interviewed ex-Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio last week and tried to get an interview with O’Connell, but missed the deadline to request an interview in the initial period, per the report.

Now, the Jaguars have to wait until after the Super Bowl to interview O’Connell. Meanwhile, O’Connell is a finalist for the Minnesota opening, with the Vikings interviewing him a second time during the initial period.

The Rams play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13.

–Field Level Media