Dec 12, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Garett Bolles (72) kneels in front of a turf memorial for American football player Demaryius Thomas before the game against the Detroit Lions at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos honor late Demaryius Thomas during and before game

The Denver Broncos lined up with just 10 men on the field for the first snap of Sunday’s home game with the Detroit Lions to pay tribute to the late Demaryius Thomas.

The receiver spot where Thomas once regularly lined up for the Broncos was left open. Denver let the play clock wind down for a delay of game and the Lions declined the penalty as fans loudly chanted “D.T., D.T.”

The atmosphere in Denver was heavy with memories of Thomas, who was found dead Thursday at age 33 at his home in Roswell, Ga.

Reports have indicated Thomas was dealing with seizures. Police said Thursday that his death might have resulted from a medical issue.

The Broncos set up a memorial for Thomas around his No. 88 and also played a video tribute for the wideout, who played 8 1/2 of his 10 NFL seasons with the team. He ranks second in team history with 9,055 receiving yards and 60 receiving touchdowns and third with 665 receptions. Rod Smith (1995-2006) is the leader in all three categories.

Former Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who played four seasons (2012-15) with Thomas, was among the many who paid respects. Manning and Thomas were teammates on the club’s Super Bowl-winning team in 2015.

“Obviously an incredible player: Dependable, accountable, tough, hard-working, unselfish. All of the things you want in a great teammate, much less an incredibly talented receiver,” Manning said in a video released by the Broncos. “But off the field, he was every bit as good a person as he was a player. Very giving to all of his teammates’ charities, great with all of the players’ families, coaches’ families and kids.

“It’s been really tough. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He will be dearly missed. He was great to my kids, great to my family, which is more important than any touchdown that he ever caught for me. … He was a big reason why I came out here to play. I knew what he had done in just two years, but I also knew what I felt he was capable of doing. And that was a big part of attracting us coming out to play for the Broncos. So for so many reasons, I’m very indebted and thankful to Demaryius.”

Denver players wore a No. 88 decal on their helmets and many tapped a portrait of Thomas prior to the game.

Thomas, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver, caught 90 or more passes in five straight seasons (2012-16) and also topped 1,000 yards in each of those five campaigns. Thomas caught a career-best 14 touchdowns in 2013.

Overall, Thomas finished with 724 catches, 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns in 143 NFL games. He also played in seven games for the Houston Texans in 2018 and 11 for the New York Jets in 2019.

Thomas, who formally announced his retirement from the NFL in June, would have turned 34 on Christmas Day.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas (82) makes a touchdown catch during the first quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

WFT’s Ron Rivera: Hit on TE Logan Thomas avoidable

Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas went down Sunday with a knee injury, and the hit from Las Vegas Raiders pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue that did the damage was definitely avoidable, Washington coach Ron Rivera said.

“You know, I thought the play was avoidable. It’s unfortunate that the hit occurred and it was low. … For the most part, I just felt that it was something that was avoidable,” Rivera said Monday.

Rivera said tests revealed Thomas did not tear his ACL as was widely reported on Sunday night. Rivera didn’t deny Thomas has MCL damage, but the full extent of the injury is not yet known.

Thomas returned from a six-game absence on Thanksgiving weekend and caught a touchdown pass on the opening drive in Las Vegas on Sunday. He finished with three catches for 48 yards.

Washington won 17-15.

Thomas, 30, was hurt five minutes into the fourth quarter when Ngakoue lunged at him from Thomas’ left side and hit him at the knees.

Ricky Seals-Jones played in the No. 1 tight end role when Thomas exited on Sunday.

Thomas signed a three-year, $24.1 million contract in August.

–Field Level Media

Dec 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton (86) celebrates his touchdown  catch with wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Giants WRs Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton out vs. Cowboys

Giants receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are among four New York players ruled out for Sunday’s road game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Shepard and Slayton also missed last Sunday’s 27-21 overtime win in New Orleans due to hamstring injuries suffered in a Week 3 loss to Atlanta.

Safety Jabrill Peppers (hamstring) and left guard Ben Bredeson (hand) will also sit out Sunday’s NFC East clash in Arlington, Texas. Left tackle Andrew Thomas (foot) is listed as questionable.

Shepard has a team-high 18 receptions for 223 yards and one touchdown in three games this season. Slayton has caught seven passes for 127 yards and one score in three games.

Peppers started the first four weeks and has 16 tackles and two quarterback hits.

Bredeson was also injured in the loss to the Falcons and will miss his second straight game.

–Field Level Media

Aug 14, 2021; Green Bay, WI, USA;   Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger (87) runs following a catch against the Houston Texans during their preseason football game on Saturday, August 14, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.  Mandatory Credit: William Glasheen-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Washington signing TE Jace Sternberger

The Washington Football Team signed Jace Sternberger off the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad and are placing fellow tight end Logan Thomas on injured reserve, multiple outlets reported Wednesday.

Sternberger, 25, was released by the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 21 after serving a two-game NFL suspension for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He signed with Seattle on Sept. 23.

Sternberger’s agent, Mike McCartney of Priority Sports, announced his client’s signing with Washington on Twitter.

A 2019 third-round pick, Sternberger caught 12 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown in 12 games last season with Green Bay.

Thomas sustained a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s 34-30 win at Atlanta and did not return. He was injured after running a deep route on the team’s first drive. He threw his helmet in frustration after reaching the sideline.

Thomas, 30, has 12 receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns this season. He has 119 receptions for 1,104 yards and 10 scores in 62 career games with the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and Washington.

Washington (2-2) hosts the New Orleans Saints (2-2) on Sunday afternoon.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) carries the ball against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Thomas, Saints approach boiling point

Will Thomas’ delay of ankle surgery until June, poor communication with the Saints during his convalescence and his frustration at recently being called out by coach Sean Payton ultimately lead to a bitter divorce?

That seems like a relatively unlikely scenario considering the star wide receiver’s skills and track record. Although the Jacksonville Jaguars and college coach Urban Meyer is a logical potential landing spot and the Saints have a need at corner that could be filled with Jaguars corner C.J. Henderson, there’s been no credible report of a deal heating up.

Just because the two are at odds doesn’t mean this relationship can’t be repaired.

Plus, there are major salary-cap reasons why it wouldn’t be prudent to move on from Thomas.

While the Saints would carry $8.9 million in dead money this year if they trade Thomas, they would have an astronomical $22.7 million in dead money in 2022.
When healthy, Thomas is a relative bargain as he’s due $64.75 million over the next four years.

At some point, it’s logical to think that Thomas will cool down, stop saying on social media that the Saints are trying to damage his reputation, clear the air with team officials, get healthy and get back to catching touchdowns.

This doesn’t seem like an irreparable situation, but it does bear watching.

Given that the Saints lack proven, impact wide receivers outside of Thomas, they’re better off working behind the scenes to find common ground with the former Ohio State star.

–‘Encouraging’ news in Indy
As grim as the Indianapolis Colts’ medical situation looked a week ago, things are starting to look up.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz, who underwent foot surgery recently to repair a broken bone, isn’t wearing a walking boot and isn’t limping.

The Colts feel good enough about Wentz’s medical outlook that they haven’t moved to add a veteran quarterback such as the Chicago Bears’ Nick Foles, who won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles with Indianapolis coach Frank Reich calling the plays.

While Wentz’s rehab is “very encouraging,” according to Reich, the Colts are giving rookie Sam Ehlinger, a sixth-round draft pick from the University of Texas, an extended audition. Jacob Eason hasn’t proven that he should necessarily rank ahead of Ehlinger on the depth chart while Wentz recovers. So, the competition continues while the Colts cross their fingers that Wentz will be back in time for the start of the regular season.

Meanwhile, All-Pro offensive guard Quenton Nelson is considered to be on a fast track in his recovery from foot surgery. If the Colts get both Wentz and Nelson back on the field sooner than originally expected, that could go a long way toward challenging the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South division title.

–Seahawks move on from Aldon Smith
The Seattle Seahawks cut ties with trouble-prone pass rusher Aldon Smith.

They really didn’t have a choice considering that Smith was arrested in April on a second-degree battery charge in Louisiana and his extensive history of legal problems and alcohol issues.

Because the 31-year-old is so talented, NFL teams have given him multiple changes.

As much as the Seahawks wanted to see Smith resurrect his career with them after missing four years with NFL suspensions and had him live in a sober living home, things didn’t work out.

It’s a troubling sign to see Seattle move on from Smith considering how their organization believes firmly in giving players second changes.

His legal issues aren’t resolved. He’s facing an arraignment Aug. 24 in New Orleans for allegedly choking a man until he was unconscious. Smith’s $1.1 million contract only contained $137,500 guaranteed, so this wasn’t an expensive endeavor for the Seahawks.

As for Smith, it’s reasonable to wonder if he has squandered his last NFL opportunity.

–David Irving seeks second chance
David Irving knows exactly what he’s capable of.

Irving is a stellar athlete with the skills and athleticism to torment quarterbacks.

One of the most gifted pass rushers not currently playing for an NFL team, Irving remains a free agent.

And the former Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle is convinced he can be a compelling comeback story.

The 6-foot-8, 275-pound pass rusher is training diligently at Phase 1 Sports in Las Vegas under the tutelage of Mike Waters, owner and founder of the workout facility, and trainer Trippe Hale. Irving’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed as he’s drawing interest from multiple NFL teams.

When healthy and eligible to play, Irving, 27, has proven that he’s a dynamic player capable of producing big games. Irving emphasized that he’s remaining patient and taking a humble and hungry approach toward the game.

“I want to show people who David Irving really is,” Irving said in a telephone interview. “I’m a fighter. I want to dominate, and it’s a different mindset. I love the fact that I can be a three-technique at my size and get past two 350-pound guys double-teaming me who can squat twice as much as me and I make the play. That’s what I live for.

“The workouts have been going great. Everything I’m learning, kung fu, Jiu jitsu, boxing, all of my great training at Phase 1. That’s all helping with my movement and everything that you do on a football field. I’m the leanest I’ve been since I was 19 years old and I’m feeling explosive and I’m ready for anything that comes by way. I’m ready to play and I can’t wait to play football again.”

Released by the Raiders in May, Irving emphasized that he is eligible to be immediately signed by teams after being reinstated by the NFL last October. Following his reinstatement, he was signed to Las Vegas’ practice squad and subsequently promoted to the active roster within a week of joining the Raiders. Irving’s past violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy has triggered suspensions and hindered his availability.

“I’ve done the necessary work,” said Irving, who was indefinitely suspended in 2019 by the NFL before his reinstatement last year. “I’m compliant with all of the NFL’s policies.”

Daniel Moskowitz, Irving’s attorney who successfully represented the NFL player in the reinstatement process, affirmed that Irving is in good standing.

“Obviously, the NFL programs are confidential, so I can’t get into any specifics, but I can say that David is in the best standing he’s been in since he was a rookie with the league’s programs,” Moskowitz said. “The sky is the limit. This year, David should be able to hit the ground running. That’s of great importance to his success. I think the biggest thing is when you’ve gone through past situations like David you’re weighed down by peripheral stressors. He has remedied them. From an emotional and physical standpoint, I really think he’s in the best place he’s been in years.”

A former NFC Defensive Player of the Year for his performance against the Green Bay Packers in 2016 when he forced three fumbles, recovered one with one sack and a pass deflection in 19 defensive snaps, Irving said a major motivating force in his life is his eight-year-old daughter, Zoe.

“She’s my why,” said Irving, who played collegiately at Iowa State. “I want to be able to set my daughter up so she can have options I never had in life. Growing up in Compton, we didn’t have money for school. It was either get a scholarship or go to the Marines like my dad. Being 6-foot-8 helped and I took this route. I keep leveling up. I don’t want to put my daughter in that situation. I want my daughter to be able to choose her future. My why has changed over the years as I’ve matured.”

–By Aaron Wilson, Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive ends Cameron Jordan (94) and Trey Hendrickson (91) in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Injury update favors Saints’ offense vs. Bears

The New Orleans Saints final injury report of the weeks suggests they are still anticipating the return of star offensive players Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Deonte Harris in time for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against the visiting Chicago Bears.

But the Saints’ sack leader, Trey Hendrickson, has been ruled out of the game with a neck injury.

For the Bears, the most significant update is that standout inside linebacker Roquan Smith (elbow) is listed as questionable. The team’s leading tackler, Smith injured the elbow in the first quarter last week in the loss to Green Bay and has missed practice all week.

The Saints have bounced through a succession of injuries through the season, but by the time they start what they hope to be a long playoff run Sunday, only Hendrickson and guard Nick Easton (concussion) are listed as out of the game, with no other players even listed as doubtful or questionable.

Significantly, Thomas and Harris appear to be ready after returning to limited practice this week. Thomas missed the last three regular-season games because of an ankle injury, and return specialist Harris participated fully this week for the first time in more than a month.

The Saints have missed Thomas and Harris in recent weeks, as quarterback Drew Brees returned from his own broken ribs only to have a depleted cast of his receivers at his disposal. The Saints are expected to activate Thomas from the injured reserve list on Saturday.

Kamara, meanhile, remains on the COVID-19/Reserve list until Sunday. He tested positive for the coronavirus after scoring six touchdowns on Christmas Day in leading a 52-33 victory over Minnesota. He missed the regular-season finale at Carolina and has joined the team only via video conferencing since then.

On Thursday, Kamara said on social media he would be playing on Sunday.

“See y’all Sunday” Kamara posted on Twitter.

Had the Saints been scheduled to play on Saturday, Kamara would not have been eligible to return. As it is, he would have to play against the Bears without having practiced all week, and coach Sean Payton had declined to say early in the week whether Kamara would start Sunday.

In the Saints’ 26-23 overtime victory against the host Bears on Nov. 1, Kamara had 163 yards from scrimmage, including a 20-yard run to set up Wil Lutz’s winning field goal.

The loss of Hendrickson, however, is a setback for the Saints. He missed Week 16 because of his neck injury, but returned to play last weekend and had a sack, finishing the season with 13.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits.

Easton’s concussion sustained Sunday is of particular concern because it was his second concussion in three weeks.

For the Bears, only cornerback Buster Skrine (concussion) is listed as out. Four players were listed as questionable Friday: Smith, wide receiver Darnell Mooney (ankle), cornerback Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), and inside linebacker Josh Woods (toe/glute).

Like Smith, Mooney missed practiced all week, while Johnson was limited in workouts.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) holds on to the ball while being tackled by Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell (24)  during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Saints in ‘wait and see’ mode with WR Michael Thomas

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is set to test his injured ankle in practice on Wednesday, opening the possibility he will play in Sunday’s NFC wildcard game against the Chicago Bears.

Head coach Sean Payton plans a cautious approach with Thomas, with the expectation he will be limited to side work with trainers for at least the first two practices this week.

Thomas was placed on injured reserve to allow his high ankle sprain to heal. The ankle has been problematic since midseason for Thomas, a 2019 All-Pro who had 149 receptions a year ago.

Thomas had 40 receptions in 2020.

“Currently he’s still on reserve-injured. I know he’s been working at it. But we’ll get a better feel this week how he’s progressing,” Payton said Wednesday.

The Saints are 9.5-point favorites over the visiting Bears in a rematch of their Nov. 2 overtime game at Soldier Field. The Saints won that game, 26-23, but blew a 10-point lead.

Thomas did not play in that game and last took the field Dec. 13.

His long reception this season was just 24 yards. Last season, he had at least a 24-yard gain in 12 games, including the wildcard loss to the Vikings.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) is unable to control the ball as Denver Broncos cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) defends in the first quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Saints WR Thomas (ankle) sits out again

Wide receiver Michael Thomas missed a second consecutive practice Thursday due to an ankle injury.

New Orleans faces the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Thomas missed six games with an ankle injury suffered in Week 1. He also had a quadriceps strain and was suspended for one game by the team.

The Saints are also contemplating activating quarterback Drew Brees for Sunday’s game. Brees has missed four games with multiple rib fractures. Without him, New Orleans is 3-1 and Taysom Hill has accounted for 1,043 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns.

Head coach Sean Payton said Brees is limited but could be ready by Sunday.

“It’s just functionality, strength, throwing without soreness. There’s a process. Last week with the trainers he had one throwing day, and yesterday the same way,” Payton said.

Thomas could still play in Sunday’s game. He has 40 receptions this season after recording 149 catches for 1,725 yards in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Jan 25, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas (13) catches a pass during NFC Practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Saints WR Thomas back at practice, status uncertain

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was at practice on Thursday, marking a step in the right direction toward his bid to return to the lineup for the first time since the season opener.

Thomas, who is battling hamstring and ankle injuries, was a limited participant in practice on Thursday. It is currently uncertain whether he will be available for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

The two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection has experienced a rough season this year. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and was close to returning in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Chargers before he missed the game due to disciplinary reasons after punching teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson in practice.

Thomas then aggravated the hamstring injury the following week — during the team’s bye week — and has remained unable to play.

Thomas had three receptions for 17 yards in the Saints’ 34-23 victory over the Buccaneers on Sept. 13.

The 27-year-old Thomas led the NFL in both receptions (single-season-record 149 catches) and receiving yards (1,725) in 2019. He was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Thomas racked up 1,000 or more receiving yards in each of the four seasons since being drafted in the second round in 2016 out of Ohio State.

Having Thomas on the field would be a welcome development as No. 2 receiver Emmanuel Sanders is currently on the COVID-19 list. Also, undrafted rookie Marquez Callaway is ailing with an ankle injury and he sat out Wednesday and was limited Thursday.

Callaway had eight receptions for 75 yards in last week’s 27-24 win over the Carolina Panthers.

–Field Level Media

Feb 1, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; New Orleans Saints Michael Thomas poses for a photo after receiving the AP Offensive Player of the Year award during the NFL Honors awards presentation at Adrienne Arsht Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Saints WR Thomas (ankle) questionable vs. Chargers

New Orleans Saints star wide receiver Michael Thomas followed up three days of limited practices by being listed as questionable for Monday’s home game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Thomas, 27, is working his way back from a left ankle injury sustained in the Saints’ season-opening victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 13.

Thomas led the NFL in both receptions (single-season-record 149 catches) and receiving yards (1,725) in 2019.

Thomas, a two-time All-Pro selection and the league’s 2019 Offensive Player of the Year, has racked up 1,000 or more receiving yards in all four prior seasons since being drafted in the second round in 2016 out of Ohio State.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins is also listed as questionable for the Saints (2-2). He was added to the injury report as a non-participant on Saturday due to a thumb injury.

Guard Andrus Peat (ankle), tight end Jared Cook (groin), defensive end Marcus Davenport (toe) and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) are also listed as questionable. The quartet recorded limited participation in practice on Saturday.

Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) and Justin Hardee (hamstring) and wide receiver Deonte Harris (hamstring) were ruled out.

As for Los Angeles (1-3), quarterback Tyrod Taylor was ruled out despite being limited in practice in each of the last three days with a chest/rib injury.

Offensive guard Trai Turner (groin) and tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) were also ruled out for Monday’s game.

Wide receiver Mike Williams (hamstring) and defensive end Joey Bosa (triceps/knee) are both considered questionable for the contest.

–Field Level Media