Dec 31, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) and running back Najee Harris (22) celebrate after Harris scored a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers stick with QB Mason Rudolph, rule out OLB T.J. Watt

Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph remains the No. 1 quarterback for Pittsburgh as the playoffs begin.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said pass rusher T.J. Watt (knee) is out for the wild-card game with the Buffalo Bills but safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will be back on Sunday.

“We’ll stay with Mason Rudolph,” Tomlin said. “We’re just simply staying with the hot hand, not upsetting the apple cart. He’s been in some tough circumstances, and he’s delivered.”

Rudolph has three touchdowns and no interceptions since taking over for backup-turned-starter Mitchell Trubisky, who was starting in place of injured Kenny Pickett.

“He’s making good decisions. There’s a cumulative body of work. Mason’s been here a long time,” Tomlin said of his confidence in Rudolph.

Fitzpatrick missed the past three games with a knee injury.

He began the week as limited in practice, but Tomlin said that’s more of a precaution than commentary on his readiness to play. He’ll be reunited with strong safety Damontae Kazee, who is back with the Steelers from a three-game suspension for a series of borderline illegal hits.

Watt has 19.0 sacks and helped the Steelers surge into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak to end the season. Alex Highsmith is second on the team with 7.0 sacks, but recorded just one in the past four games.

“Playing without T.J. is significant,” Tomlin said. “It’s not going to be a one-man job replacing T.J. … T.J.’s one of a kind.”

Tomlin consistently repeats the team has a “next man up” mentality and said he will not be surprised when someone steps up and plays well.

“We’ve got depth at that position. I’m comfortable with the quality of depth,” he said. “We have guys that are capable.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) is tended to after taking a hit against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Minkah Fitzpatrick out, Kenny Pickett a maybe for Steelers on Thursday

The Pittsburgh Steelers ruled out safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (hamstring) for Thursday night’s game against Tennessee while quarterback Kenny Pickett (ribs) will be a game-time decision.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Monday he’s leaving “the door ajar” for Pickett, who will evaluated as the week goes on, saying the decision will come down to his “ability to throw and his comfort.” But there’s no structural damage to his ribs, Tomlin said.

Both players left Sunday’s home loss to Jacksonville and didn’t return.

Fitzpatrick injured his hamstring in the first quarter. He leads the Steelers with 54 tackles on the season.

Pickett was injured with 17 seconds left in the first half after a hit by Jaguars defensive end Adam Gotsis. He was 10-for-16 passing for 73 yards before leaving. Mitch Trubisky replaced him and threw for 138 yards and a touchdown but also threw two interceptions.

Pickett, 25, has thrown for 1,330 yards and five touchdowns against four interceptions on the season.

Fitzpatrick, 26, is coming off his third All-Pro season.

The Steelers (4-3) host the Titans (3-4) on Thursday night to kick off Week 9.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) talks with defensive coordinator Keith Butler (right) before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers activate Minkah Fitzpatrick from COVID list

Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was activated from the COVID-19 reserve list and is expected to play Sunday in Pittsburgh’s critical AFC North date with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Fitzpatrick was activated from the reserve/COVID list on Thanksgiving Day as the Steelers await word on a number of other key defenders with injuries, including cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker T.J. Watt.

Fitzpatrick has 64 tackles — second on the team — this season.

Fitzpatrick missed last Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers after being placed on the list on Nov. 15.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jason Verrett (2) walks off the field with an injury during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NFL injury roundup: Niners CB Jason Verrett fears another torn ACL

One of the unluckiest players in the NFL when it comes to staying healthy appears to have suffered another season-ending injury in Week 1 of the NFL season.

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jason Verrett suffered a right knee injury that both the player and team fear could be a torn ACL, according to multiple reports. Verrett is expected to have the injury examined further when the Niners arrive in West Virginia for a week of practices before next week’s contest in Philadelphia.

“We’re hoping for the best, but it’s crushing,” Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after his team’s 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions. “The bad luck he’s had and putting together these last two years staying healthy and how good of a camp he had. … I have got a lot of love for JV and respect him as much as anyone I’ve ever been around. So, I’m really hurting for him.”

Selected in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Chargers, Verrett played a total of just six games from 2016 to 2019 due to a torn left ACL in 2016 that never fully healed, followed by a torn right Achilles suffered during a training camp conditioning test while with the Chargers in 2018.

Finally healthy, Verrett, 30, signed with San Francisco before the 2019 season.

With Verrett likely out, the Niners could turn to a familiar face for much-needed depth — veteran free agent cornerback Richard Sherman.

“We have discussed it,” Shanahan told reporters. “I’ve talked to Sherm about it, too. Sherm is always a possibility.”

San Francisco also lost another player due to injury in running back Raheem Mostert, who left with a knee injury and did not return.

Denver Broncos
Receiver Jerry Jeudy suffered a right high ankle sprain and was carted off the field during the third quarter of his team’s 27-13 road victory over the New York Giants. According to reports, X-rays were negative for Jeudy’s injury.

Washington Football Team
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will have an MRI on Monday to determine the full extent of a hip injury he suffered during the second quarter of his team’s 20-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Fitzpatrick had to leave the game and did not return.

Los Angeles Chargers
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) and cornerback Nasir Adderley (shoulder) suffered injuries in the game against the Washington Football Club that forced them off the field. Neither player returned to the game.

New York Jets
Left tackle Mekhi Becton suffered what is believed to be an MCL knee sprain during the third quarter of his team’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. Becton was helped to the sideline by trainers and carted to the locker room for further evaluation.

New Orleans Saints
Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who reportedly agreed to a five-year, $97.6 million extension over the weekend, suffered a right thumb injury that forced him to miss some time in the second half of his team’s 38-3 victory over the Green Bay Packers. Lattimore returned to the game with a cast on his hand and will reportedly be week-to-week as he recovers.

Seattle Seahawks
Oft-injured running back Rashaad Penny suffered a left calf injury early in his team’s 28-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts the forced the San Diego State product to leave the game. Penny did not return.

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2021; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) attempts a pass during training camp at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Cennter. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

WFT QB Ryan Fitzpatrick willing to take team lead on vaccination info

Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is fully vaccinated and more than willing to be a sounding board for teammates who aren’t yet certain about the COVID-19 protocol.

“I’ve had plenty of guys engage me in conversation, questions … guys that have been vaccinated and guys that haven’t been vaccinated,” Fitzpatrick said. “I just tell them what I think. It’s a personal choice. That’s the end of the discussion for me. If you are making a decision on what you think is best for you and your family, beautiful. The decision might be different for me. That’s the way I go about it, respect everybody else’s decision.”

WFT head coach Ron Rivera said at the start of training camp that he was “perplexed” by the low vaccination numbers for the team. Rivera survived cancer last year and is immunocompromised.

Fitzpatrick, 38, said six of his seven children are in school and “as soon as they are approved” to receive the vaccine, they will be.

“It’s just kind of the world we’re living in right now,” Fitzpatrick said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 18, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) attempts a pass against the New York Jets during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Fitzpatrick helps Dolphins blank Jets

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes as the host Miami Dolphins won their second straight game, defeating the winless New York Jets 24-0 on Sunday afternoon.

It was Miami’s first shutout over New York since the 1982 postseason, and the game also marked the NFL debut of rookie first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa, who went 2-for-2 for 9 yards in garbage time for Miami.

The Dolphins (3-3), who have won five straight games at Hard Rock Stadium against the Jets, were led by Fitzpatrick, who completed 18-of-27 passes — including a shovel toss with his off (left) hand while under duress — for 191 yards. He was intercepted twice.

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard intercepted a pass for the fourth straight game, tying a franchise record.

Jets safety Marcus Maye also had an interception, and it was spectacular as he caught it up against his back.

New York (0-6) is the only winless team in the NFL, and Sunday’s loss amped up the pressure on Jets coach Adam Gase — formerly of the Dolphins — who is considered on the hot seat to be fired.

The Jets played without quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder injury) for the second straight week. Left tackle Mekhi Becton also was out (shoulder).

Jets fill-in quarterback Joe Flacco, who entered the game 7-0 in his career against Miami, took the loss, completing 21 of 44 passes for 186 yards, with one interception. New York was outgained 302-263.

The Dolphins were without starting linebacker Kyle Van Noy (foot, groin injuries). His replacement, Andrew Van Ginkel, left in the second quarter due to a concussion.

Miami, playing as the favorite for the first time in 21 games, had the only score of the first quarter. Fitzpatrick completed a 4-yard pass to tight end Adam Shaheen, who got into the end zone for the second straight week. On this play, Shaheen slipped out by running laterally behind the line of scrimmage.

The Dolphins went into halftime with a 21-0 lead as Fitzpatrick tossed two more TD passes. First, he threw a 3-yard slant to Preston Williams, who beat rookie cornerback Lamar Jackson. Then, with 1:53 left in the half, Fitzpatrick threw a 4-yarder to tight end Durham Smythe, who was alone.

Miami extended its lead to 24-0 with the only points of the third quarter — Jason Sanders’ 24-yard field goal.

Neither team converted a third-down conversion until the Jets did it on a play when the ball was snapped with 10:47 left in the game. To that point, New York was 1 of 13 on third downs, and Miami was 0 of 7. The Jets finished 2 of 17 while the Dolphins were 1 of 9.

But New York’s last drive ended on downs at Miami’s 7-yard line with 2:27 left. Tagovailoa and the Dolphins then ran out the clock.

–Field Level Media

October 11, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) catches a touchdown pass against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Brian Allen (48) during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Fitzpatrick-led Dolphins pound 49ers

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and the Miami Dolphins erupted for 30 first-half points Sunday afternoon en route to a 43-17 demolition of the San Francisco 49ers in a game at Santa Clara, Calif., that saw the defending NFC champions bench quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Fitzpatrick threw touchdown passes to Adam Shaheen, DeVante Parker and Preston Williams during his 14th career 350-yard game, his first since throwing for a career-best 419 against Cincinnati last December.

Myles Gaskin added a 1-yard touchdown run and Jason Sanders kicked five field goals, helping the Dolphins (2-3) run up their highest point total since 44 against Houston in October of 2015 and win for the second time in the last three games.

The loss was the second straight overall and third in a row at home for the 49ers (2-3), who welcomed back Garoppolo (ankle) and running back Raheem Mostert (knee) from injuries.

Garoppolo, who was injured in Week 2 against the New York Jets, played only the first half, going 7-for-17 for 77 yards with two interceptions.

C.J. Beathard took over for the second half and connected with Kendrick Bourne on a 19-yard touchdown pass, but it was far too little as San Francisco, down 30-7 at halftime, got no closer than 16 in the final 30 minutes.

Mostert finished as the game’s leading rusher with 90 yards on 11 carries for San Francisco, which suffered its most one-sided home loss since falling 39-10 to the Los Angeles Rams in October of 2018.

Williams and tight end Mike Gesicki were Fitzpatrick’s favorite receivers, Williams totaling 106 yards on four catches and Gesicki 91 on five.

Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain recorded interceptions for the Dolphins, both occurring late in the first half and prompting the 49ers’ quarterback change at halftime.

The Dolphins wasted no time gaining the upper hand, scoring touchdowns on each of their first two possessions on a 3-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to Shaheen just 4:15 into the game and Gaskin’s 1-yard plunge about 6 1/2 minutes later.

The 49ers cut their deficit in half on a 7-yard TD run by Kyle Juszczyk in the third minute of the second quarter, but the Dolphins dominated the rest of the half, scoring on a 22-yard, Fitzpatrick-to-Parker connection and the first three of Sanders’ five field goals.

Fitzpatrick accumulated 251 of his 350 passing yards in the half.

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) walks on the bench during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It’s beard vs. ‘stache as Dolphins face Jaguars

The Thursday night contest between the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars is lining up to be a hairy affair.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went to bat for his bushy beard on Tuesday while Jacksonville counterpart Gardner Minshew II defended his mustache and threw in a little subtle jab at Fitzpatrick’s age.

Suddenly, this Florida showdown is more than just a nationally televised episode of “Minshew Mania.”

Fitzpatrick, 37, started the back-and-forth with his take on Minshew’s facial hair.

“The mustache versus the beard, I think the beard is a cooler look,” Fitzpatrick said, while adding a laugh. “I think guys that grow mustaches a lot of times have patchy sides for their beards, so they just stick with the mustache.”

The comment was naturally relayed to Minshew, and the 24-year-old added his retort.

“I’ll let (my mustache) speak for itself,” Minshew said. “I think I’ve shown I can grow a beard with no patchy sides.

“But, you know, I’m going to have respect for my elders, especially when they’re much, much elder.”

That feisty side is part of what has made Minshew a big favorite in Jacksonville in only his second NFL season. His stellar play doesn’t hurt, either.

Minshew has fired three touchdowns passes in each of the first two games for the Jaguars (1-1). He has completed 75.4 percent of his passes for 512 yards and six touchdowns while being intercepted twice.

The solid play has helped Jacksonville average 28.5 points. The Jaguars have been exceptional in the red zone with six touchdowns in seven opportunities.

That is the type of production a veteran like Fitzpatrick appreciates.

“I like watching him. I enjoy his playing style,” Fitzpatrick said of Minshew. “It looks like he’s out there having fun. It’s not easy to play quarterback in this league. It’s not easy to play as a young quarterback. He’s already had a lot of success. He’s had a great start to the season.”

Of course, Fitzpatrick is trying to keep from looking over his shoulder as Dolphins fans anticipate the beginning of the Tua Tagovailoa era.

Fitzpatrick did his part to keep the former Alabama star on the bench by passing for 328 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on Sunday in a 31-28 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Fitzpatrick is focused on breaking down the Jaguars and looking to get Miami (0-2) in the win column.

“Well, for me as a quarterback, you look at some of that stuff and you look at tendencies, but if they do blitz, then we need to have an answer for it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I can’t sit here and rely on those things. We’ve got to have answers for everything.”

The Dolphins do need to find some answers on the defense side of the ball as they rank 30th in total defense (440.5 yards per game) and 29th against the run (164 yards per game).

The latter deficiency certainly will be tested by the Jaguars, who are ecstatic about the play of undrafted free agent running back James Robinson.

Robinson rushed for 4,444 yards and 44 touchdowns for FCS program Illinois State but wasn’t deemed worthy of being drafted by any of the NFL’s 32 teams. But his strong training camp performance helped prompt Jacksonville to part ways with Leonard Fournette, and Robinson’s 164 rushing yards are the most ever through the first two career games by a Jaguars back.

He rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries Sunday in a 33-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

“What you guys are seeing now is probably what I’ve been seeing all of camp,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “Just a real steady, good football player. If there’s something there, he’s going to find it. He’s not going to make mistakes and lose yardage for you, and he’ll try to keep the chains going. He’s a tough runner.”

The Dolphins likely will be trying to corral Robinson without cornerback Byron Jones (groin), who missed practice on Tuesday after being injured on Sunday. Four Miami players were limited at practice: safety Clayton Fejedelem (pectoral), cornerback Xavien Howard (knee), defensive end Shaq Lawson (hip) and receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring).

Sitting out practice for the Jaguars on Tuesday were center Brandon Linder (knee) and defensive back Brandon Watson (illness).

–Field Level Media

Aug 22, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) prepare for drills during training camp at Baptist Health Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins name Fitzpatrick starting QB

The Miami Dolphins officially named Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback for Sunday’s season opener at New England.

“This isn’t groundbreaking news, but Fitz is going to be the starter,” coach Brian Flores said Monday. “A year like this with no OTAs, no minicamp, modified training camp, we felt like that would be the best decision for the team. He’s done a good job through the course of training camp, and he’ll be out there.”

The 37-year-old Fitzpatrick is entering his 16th NFL season and his second with the Dolphins. He went 5-8 as the starter for Miami last season, completing 62.0 percent of his passes for 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Fitzpatrick won the training camp competition with first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa and former No. 1 overall pick Josh Rosen. Tagovailoa, 22, will begin the season as the backup and Rosen was released on Saturday.

“He’s had a good camp. He’s been competitive. He’s shown a lot of improvement,” Flores said of Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick from Alabama. “If he had to go in and play, that’s how it’d be. Now a rookie playing early on, we may have that at some other positions and if that were the case, then that’s what it would be.”

Jake Rudock, recently signed to the practice squad, will serve as Miami’s No. 3 quarterback.

–Field Level Media


NFL Week 3 Stat Recap Table: QB, RB and WR

In a shootout at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Drew Brees passed Brett Favre’s record of 6300 pass completions. He tossed for 3 touchdowns and ran for 2, including the game winner in overtime.

On Monday night, Big Ben Roethlisberger came out firing in the first half, recording 3 Touchdowns to Vance McDonald, Antonio Brown, and Ryan Switzer. Following a slow start and 3 first-half interceptions, Ryan Fitzpatrick led a comeback but came up short, sending the Steelers to 1-1-1 and the Bucs to 2-1.

Notable performances:

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 411 yards (his third consecutive with 400+ passing yards), 3 Touchdowns, and 3 Interceptions
  • Drew Brees and Matt Ryan combine for over 700 passing yards and 8 touchdowns
  • Calvin Ridley caught for 146 Yards and 3 Touchdowns
  • Robert Woods records 10 catches for 104 yards and 2 Touchdowns
  • Adrian Peterson rushes 19 times for 120 yards and 2 Touchdowns
  • Christian McCaffrey gained 184 yards on 28 rushes