Sep 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Packers RB Aaron Jones, WR Christian Watson inactive vs. Falcons

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones, wide receiver Christian Watson and left tackle David Bakhtiari were ruled inactive for Sunday’s game against the host Atlanta Falcons.

Jones, 28, sustained a hamstring injury at the end of his 35-yard touchdown catch and run in Green Bay’s 38-20 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. He finished with nine carries for 41 yards and a score and two receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.

Fellow running back A.J. Dillon likely will see a boost in playing time with Jones sidelined.

Watson, 24, was an early second-round pick of the Packers in the 2022 draft and entered his sophomore season as the team’s No. 1 wideout. He did not play in the season opener due to his hamstring injury.

Watson recorded 41 catches for 611 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games (11 starts) as a rookie in 2022.

Bakhtiari, 31, is nursing a knee injury. The three-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro first-team selection has made 130 regular season starts for Green Bay, although a knee injury limited him to one start in 2021 and 11 in 2022.

The Packers also listed safeties Anthony Johnson Jr. and Zayne Anderson, linebacker Brenton Cox Jr. and tackle Caleb Jones as inactive.

For the Falcons, versatile running back Cordarrelle Patterson, cornerback Jeff Okudah, Logan Woodside (emergency third quarterback), linebacker Troy Andersen, offensive lineman Jovaughn Gwyn, wide receiver Josh Ali and defensive lineman Joe Gaziano are also inactive.

–Field Level Media

Detroit Lions place kicker Michael Badgley (17) during minicamp at Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility in Allen Park on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

Report: Lions releasing K Michael Badgley

The Detroit Lions are releasing kicker Michael Badgley, NFL Network reported on Thursday.

Badgley, 27, kicked in one game with the Chicago Bears last season and 12 more with Detroit. He re-signed in March with the Lions, who also traded for Riley Patterson and signed fellow kicker John Parker Romo.

Badgley made 24 of 28 field-goal attempts and all 33 extra-point tries last season. He has converted 94 of 115 field-goal attempts and 155 of 160 extra-point tries in 60 games with the Los Angeles Chargers (2018-20), Indianapolis Colts (2021), Tennessee Titans (2021), Bears (2022) and Lions.

Patterson, 23, made 30 of 35 field-goal attempts and 36 of 37 PATs last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Romo, 25, played last season for the San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Denver Broncos place kicker Brandon McManus (8) kicks a field goal during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Jaguars sign K Brandon McManus to 1-year deal

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Brandon McManus on Thursday and waived fellow kicker Riley Patterson.

The team did not announce terms but McManus reportedly got a one-year deal.

The signing comes 48 hours after McManus was a surprise release by the Denver Broncos.

McManus, 31, has played his entire nine-year career with the Broncos. The former team captain was the final player remaining from Denver’s Super Bowl 50 win over the Carolina Panthers.

McManus made 28 of 36 field-goal attempts and 25 of 27 extra-point tries during 17 games last season.

He has drilled 223 of 274 field-goal attempts and 277 of 286 PATs in his career with the Broncos. He ranks first in franchise history in 50-yard field-goals (42) in the regular season and postseason, and second in field goals made.

Patterson, 23, made 30 of 35 FG attempts and 36 of 37 PATs in 2022 for the Jags. He kicked in seven games for the Detroit Lions in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) carries the ball against the Washington Commanders during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Arthur Smith pleased Falcons are ‘building’ on O-line, run game

Mistakes in the red zone have proved costly in a number of the Atlanta Falcons’ tightly contested games this season.

In the Falcons’ 19-13 loss to the Washington Commanders on Sunday, a Marcus Mariota pass intended for Cordarrelle Patterson was tipped by Daron Payne and intercepted by Kendall Fuller in the end zone for a touchback with a little over a minute left to play.

But one positive that Arthur Smith’s team can take from the loss was its ability to run the football effectively against one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL.

Behind tailbacks Tyler Allgeier and Patterson, along with Mariota, the Falcons ran the ball 29 times for 167 yards for an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Entering this week’s home matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta (5-7) ranks fourth in the league in rushing (160.0 yards per game).

“We feel like we’re building something here up front in our mentality with our offensive line,” Smith said. “There aren’t moral victories, but it does give you confidence week after week that these guys have stepped up. And we’ve played some good fronts.

“It is the NFL, and everybody is good, I got that. But we’ve played some of the better ones. Played (the 49ers), and I know they didn’t have Bosa, but that’s a damn good front. And then yesterday, they are playing as well as anybody in the league. Low-possession game, I thought we moved the ball really well. Thought we had some good pockets.”

Despite a revolving door at left guard due to a knee injury to starter Elijah Wilkinson, the play of Atlanta’s offensive line has been strong. Right guard Chris Lindstrom and left tackle Jake Matthews are playing at a Pro Bowl level. Center Drew Dalman and right tackle Kaleb McGary have been solid, especially when run blocking.

This week, Atlanta faces another challenge when it meets a Pittsburgh team that ranks sixth in the league in run defense (103.4 yards per game). The Steelers (3-7) rank 31st in the league in pass defense, however, so Mariota could be poised for a big day through the air.

But don’t expect Smith and the Falcons to go against what’s worked best for them all season long. Patterson and Allgeier have formed a dynamic one-two punch, and Caleb Huntley has been solid despite just one carry for 12 yards against the Commanders.

“It was a function of the game, yeah, and he had one good run,” Smith said about Huntley’s lone carry. “That’s a good problem to have because Tyler is playing really well, and we know the impact CP has on the game. We got to make sure he gets it more because he’s earned the right to carry the football for us.”

–Outside linebacker Arnold Ebiketie left in the second quarter in the loss to Washington with a wrist injury. Smith is hoping Ebiketie will be able to return Wednesday.

“Obviously, AK, hopefully he’ll be alright,” Smith said. “He’s dealing with a wrist injury. We’ll see how it responds on Wednesday. But day-to-day on all those guys.”

Smith also said Wilkinson “has a shot” to be activated from IR if “he’s ready to practice Wednesday.”

–Atlanta wideout Olamide Zaccheaus had season highs in receptions (five) and yards (91) in the loss to Washington. His 45-yard reception on the team’s final possession got the Falcons into Washington territory with just more than three minutes to play.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) rushes for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons designate RB Cordarrelle Patterson to return from IR

The Atlanta Falcons designated running back Cordarrelle Patterson to return from injured reserve on Wednesday.

Patterson, who was placed on IR on Oct. 3 with a knee injury, was expected to participate in practice Wednesday.

The move opens a 21-day window in which he is eligible to practice before officially joining the active roster.

The Falcons (4-4) have won four of their last six games heading into Sunday’s clash with the Los Angeles Chargers (4-3).

Patterson, 31, has 340 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 58 carries this season. In 2021, in his first season in Atlanta, Patterson had 1,166 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns.

A four-time All-Pro as a kick returner, Patterson is with his fifth team. In 147 career games (52 starts), he has 4,638 yards from scrimmage and 32 scores. He also has gained 7,579 yards as a kick returner, with eight touchdowns, for the Minnesota Vikings (2013-16), then-Oakland Raiders (2017), New England Patriots (2018), Chicago Bears (2019-20) and Falcons.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith calls a time out in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Arthur Smith likes direction of his first-place Falcons

It’s been years since the Atlanta Falcons have been in first place in the NFC South. But at 4-4, that’s exactly where they find themselves ahead of Sunday’s home date with the Los Angeles Chargers (4-3).

Arthur Smith doesn’t want his team to rest on its laurels. But he is proud of the team’s resiliency and the culture that’s coming together in his second season as coach of the Falcons.

“We’ve just got a lot of good guys, and we’ve got a stable situation,” Smith said. “And I’m hopeful we can continue on this path.

“We try to find the right people and you try to foster the right climate and get the right type of guys. … If somebody doesn’t want to do it that way, you’re probably not changing them.”

Despite throwing two interceptions in Week 8’s dramatic 37-34 overtime win over Carolina, Marcus Mariota had his best passing outing of the season. The eight-year veteran completed 20 of 28 passes and recorded season highs in yards (253) and touchdowns (three).

He also had a 30-yard run in overtime, which set up the eventual game-winning 41-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo with 1:55 remaining.

“I thought when they rushed, they try to rush you down the middle or heavy, (Mariota) was able to get out get and extend that play and flip his hips around,” Smith said. “I thought he made some good plays on play-action. The one he had to Kyle (Pitts) on the first touchdown drive … I thought he progressed pretty well (in the pocket) too.”

Veteran Damiere Byrd has seen his role increase in the Falcons’ passing game in recent weeks — and his rapport with Mariota is improving. The seven-year pro had three receptions for 67 yards and a key 47-yard touchdown reception in the win over the Panthers.

“He’s taken advantage of his opportunity,” Smith said. “He’s a guy that’s been in our program and works extremely hard. He wasn’t getting a lot of snaps earlier in the year, but when his number has been called lately, he’s been making plays for us.”

The Falcons could be in line for another shootout in Week 9 squaring off against a high-powered Chargers offense that features quarterback Justin Herbert and versatile tailback Austin Ekeler.

Los Angeles ranks eighth in the NFL in scoring offense at 23.4 points per game, but at 27 points allowed on average it trails only Detroit for the worst scoring defense in the league. Similarly, the Falcons rank sixth in the league in scoring offense (25.0 ppg) and 28th in scoring defense (25.6 ppg).

“We know we have a challenge this week,” Smith said. “You got a team that’s coming off a bye with one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, so we got to be ready to roll in all three phases.”

–Running back Cordarrelle Patterson is scheduled to return from injured reserve this week. Smith said he’d “talk with team doctors and Cordarrelle” to come up with a plan on Wednesday. Smith did not provide an update on the status of starting cornerback A.J. Terrell (hamstring) and starting safety Jaylinn Hawkins (concussion), but said “if they’re trending like they could be ready, they’ll be out there.”

–Tight end Kyle Pitts had five catches for 80 yards and a score on nine targets against Carolina. The Chargers have had trouble defending the tight end position so he could be poised for a productive outing Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Arthur Smith, Falcons turn to rookie runners with Patterson out

First place in the NFC South will be on the line when the Atlanta Falcons (2-2) visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) Sunday.

But if the Falcons want to win their third consecutive game, they will have to do so without versatile running back Cordarrelle Patterson.

Arthur Smith announced Monday that Patterson had been placed on injured reserve for at least four games due to a knee injury. The 31-year-old currently leads the team in rushing (340 yards) and has scored three touchdowns on 58 carries (5.9 yards per carry). He’s also added four receptions for 28 yards.

“He had a minor procedure this morning that will help long-term,” Smith said. “We have a great medical team and we felt like instead of dealing with it week-to-week, this would be the best move going forward.”

Patterson and Damien Williams entered the season as Atlanta’s top two backs, but both are now on IR.

With Patterson out, the Falcons will look to rookies Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley to fill the void left. Allgeier, a fifth-round pick, had 10 carries for a team-high 84 yards in Atlanta’s 23-20 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

Huntley, an undrafted free agent, added 10 rushes for 56 yards and a score in the win over the Browns. He was promoted to the 53-man roster Monday after Patterson was moved to IR.

Smith said he was “absolutely” pleased with his team’s depth at running back, also crediting fullback Keith Smith for his work.

Right guard Chris Lindstrom has been a key cog in an offensive line that’s paved the way for the NFL’s fourth-best rushing attack (168.0 yards per game). Not only has he been a bruiser in the run game, but he only allowed one pressure in 20 pass-block attempts in the win over Cleveland, good for a 97.1 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus.

“There’s always work to be done and you try to be objective, but Chris is playing really good football for us,” Smith said. “But we’ve got to keep it up because this a really good run defense we are about to play in Tampa.”

The Buccaneers enter the matchup with the Falcons ranked 12th in the NFL in run defense (106.8 yards per game), 14th in pass defense (214.3 yards per game) and eighth in total defense (321.0 yards per game).

Atlanta will look to snap a four-game losing streak to Tampa Bay.

“We’ve got a heck of a challenge in front of us,” Smith said. “Todd Bowles, he’s a heck of a football coach.”

–Tight end Kyle Pitts has only been targeted once in the red zone this season. He had one reception for 25 yards in the win over Cleveland.

–Cornerback Dee Alford, who signed with Atlanta in January after playing in the Canadian Football League, sealed the Falcons’ win over Cleveland when he picked off Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett with 1:03 remaining in the game. It was his first interception as an NFL player.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Damien Williams (6) runs the ball against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons RB Damien Williams (rib) ruled out vs. Rams

Atlanta Falcons running back Damien Williams has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams due to a rib injury.

Williams was injured during last week’s loss to the New Orleans Saints. He had two yards on two carries.

Cordarrelle Patterson handled the bulk of the running chores due to Williams’ injury and finished with career highs of 22 carries and 120 rushing yards. He also scored a touchdown.

Rookie Tyler Allgeier likely will be activated for the contest against the Rams. The fifth-round pick out of BYU was inactive for the 27-26 loss to the Saints.

Williams, 30, is in his eighth NFL season. He has been a journeyman for most of his career but was expected to receive a bigger workload with the Falcons.

Williams’ career best season output is 498 rushing yards for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019.

But he had a big postseason that year by rushing for 196 yards and four touchdowns and catching 11 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns in three games. He stood out in Super Bowl LIV with 104 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries and four receptions for 29 yards and another score as the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers.

Williams has rushed for 1,397 yards and 14 touchdowns and caught 154 passes for 1,209 yards and 11 scores in 98 games (16 starts) for the Miami Dolphins (2014-17), Chiefs (2018-19), Chicago Bears (2021) and Falcons.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons coach Arthur Smith impressed by lines, disappointed by penalties

Ever since Atlanta blew a 25-point lead in a stunning loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI more than five years ago, the Falcons have struggled to close out games in their control.

That was apparent again in Sunday’s heartbreaking 27-26 loss to the rival New Orleans Saints. The Falcons had a 16-point lead with 12:41 left on the clock but costly penalties and fourth-quarter struggles on defense led to a loss in the season opener.

Head coach Arthur Smith said Monday that he needs to take a good look at what went right and what went wrong.

“I think if you win or lose, the biggest challenge is, if you really want to improve and have the right mindset, is that you’ve got to be objective and need to be honest,” Smith said.

“It obviously starts with me. What can I do to get better? There are certainly things every week that I can do better, so you don’t make the same mistakes. Or something you see then say, ‘What can we improve on?’ I think the worst thing you can do is not be objective. We stayed aggressive. Got to give New Orleans credit. They made plays. Some of their veterans made plays. But we’ll continue to stay aggressive.”

Despite the loss, Atlanta’s play in the trenches was a bright spot. The Falcons defensive line, led by two-time Pro Bowl selection Grady Jarrett, tallied four sacks.
The offensive line did not allow a sack and opened the holes for a punishing ground attack, led by running back Cordarrelle Patterson (22 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown) and quarterback Marcus Mariota (72 yards and a score), that rolled up 201 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards per carry.

“I thought the lines of scrimmage played pretty well for the most part,” Smith said. “It wasn’t perfect but if you can run the ball for 200 yards, that will give you a chance most weeks. I thought we kept Marcus pretty clean. I was not pleased with the penalties and the (third quarter) turnover in the red zone. But we’ll get that stuff cleaned up.”

Mariota completed 20 of 33 passes for 215 yards in his Falcons debut. Rookie Drake London led the team in receptions (five) and receiving yards (74). Second-year safety Richie Grant had a team-high 10 tackles and a pass defended.

Veteran running back Damien Williams left the game briefly with a rib injury. But Smith said the team escaped Week 1 in good shape on the injury front.

“Obviously Damien, we will continue to evaluate him. See what it looks like. But he did come back into the game,” Atlanta’s second-year head coach said. “Otherwise, obviously the guys are sore. We did play an NFL game. But we are pretty clean otherwise.”

Atlanta plays the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams (0-1) on the road in Week 2.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) breaks up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (4) in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

NFL transaction roundup: Panthers’ Donte Jackson agrees to 3-year deal

Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson agreed to terms on a three-year contract on Saturday.

Financial terms were not disclosed by the team, however NFL Network reported it was a $35.1 million deal.

Jackson, 26, recorded 61 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble in 12 games (all starts) last season. He missed the final five games due to a groin injury.

Jackson has 209 tackles, 12 interceptions and one sack in 55 career games (51 starts) since being selected by the Panthers in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

–Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and running back Boston Scott agreed to terms on one-year contracts.

The Eagles released Cox on Thursday in hopes of re-signing the six-time Pro Bowl selection to a reworked deal. Multiple reports said the two sides agreed on a $14 million deal.

Cox, 31, had 35 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season. He recorded 443 tackles, 142 quarterback hits, 58 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and 12 fumble recoveries, and has scored three touchdowns in 156 career games (150 starts).

Scott, 26, had 87 carries for 373 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games last season. He has rushed for 992 yards and added 499 receiving yards for 14 total touchdowns (13 rushing, one receiving) in 43 career games with the Eagles.

–Atlanta Falcons hybrid offensive threat Cordarrelle Patterson agreed to terms on a contract, NFL Network reported.

Terms were not disclosed in the deal for the wide receiver-turned-running back, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2021.

Patterson, 31, recorded career-high totals in carries (153), rushing yards (618), rushing touchdowns (six), receiving yards (548) and receiving touchdowns (five). His 52 catches matched his career-high total, set in 2016 with the Minnesota Vikings.

Patterson has collected 1,635 rushing yards, 2,635 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns (14 rushing, 15 receiving, eight special teams) in 143 career games with the Vikings, then-Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and Falcons. He was selected by Minnesota with the 29th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.

–Kicker Randy Bullock is returning to the Tennessee Titans.

The Tennessean reported Bullock is signing a two-year contract.

Bullock, 32, signed with the Titans last September after an injury to Sam Ficken. He hit 26 of 31 field goal attempts with a long of 51, and also converted 42 of 45 field extra-point tries.

Three of his field goals were game winners.

The Titans are Bullock’s sixth team. A fifth-round draft pick in 2012 by Houston, he also has spent time with the Texans, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.

In 123 career games, he has made 83.3 percent of his field goal tries (194 of 233) and 95.2 percent of extra points (194 of 233).

–Quarterback Garrett Gilbert agreed to terms with the Las Vegas Raiders, his agent announced.

Gilbert, 30, spent part of last season on the practice squad of the Patriots, working with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, now the Raiders head coach.

Originally a sixth-round draft pick in 2014, Gilbert has appeared in eight games through his career with Carolina, Cleveland, Dallas and Washington. He’s 0-2 as a starter and has completed 43 of 75 pass attempts for 477 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

–The Cleveland Browns are trading veteran quarterback Case Keenum to the Buffalo Bills for a 2022 seventh-round draft pick, NFL Network reported.

Keenum, 34, won both of his starts for Cleveland in 2021, completing 47 of 72 passes for 462 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

He is 29-35 as a starter with six NFL teams since 2013, passing for 14,876 yards with 78 TDs and 48 interceptions.

–Field Level Media