Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Brett Favre (concussion, doubtful) has "almost no chance" to play in Week 17.
Favre did retry part of a concussion test on Friday, but it’s unclear whether he passed it. Based on Zulgad’s line of thinking, we’d be surprised if he did. Look for Favre to be inactive for Sunday’s finale against the Lions. Rookie Joe Webb remains the heavy favorite to start for Minnesota.
ESPN Chicago reports that the Bears gave backups such as Kahlil Bell and Kellen Davis increased practice reps this week, indicating that they may play more than usual in Week 17 against Green Bay.
The report cites "multiple team sources," who say players like Bell were informed to be ready for extensive action. Beat writer Michael C. Wright names Matt Forte, in particular, as a starter who could be rested despite coach Lovie Smith’s insistence all week that the Bears would play to win. It’s unclear when the starters would be pulled. Jay Cutler, Greg Olsen, Julius Peppers, and Lance Briggs are other obvious candidates for rest.
ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando predicts that Matt Hasselbeck (hip/glute, questionable) will start against the Rams Sunday.
Sando believes that coach Pete Carroll’s plan all along was to give Charlie Whitehurst first-team practice reps in order to have him as ready as possible "just in case." If Hasselbeck is healthy enough to do so, he’ll definitely start on Sunday Night Football in an obvious must-win situation. The victor of Rams-Seahawks will represent the NFC West in the Wild Card round.
The Panthers announced Friday that John Fox and his coaching staff will not be retained for 2011.
According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Fox met with owner Jerry Richardson and was informed he intends for "both sides to move in different directions." Fox was the ultimate lame duck in 2010, just finishing out the string in the last year of his contract with the worst football team in the league. The Panthers are expected to target a young, cheap replacement. Fox should land on his feet as a defensive coordinator at the very least. He went 73-70 in nine seasons, guiding Carolina to its lone Super Bowl in 2003.
Pierre Thomas re-tweaked his ankle injury in Friday’s practice and was added to the injury report as questionable.
It’s troubling news for a player whose season has been all but wiped out by the bum ankle. Thomas finally appeared to be getting healthy in Week 16 with 102 total yards and a touchdown in New Orleans’ win over Atlanta.
Andre Johnson will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome right ankle next week.
Listed as doubtful, the Houston Chronicle also confirms that Johnson "will miss" Week 17 against Jacksonville and probably the Pro Bowl as well. Johnson played through the injury almost all season after suffering it in Week 2. He should be completely fine by 2011 training camp.
Updating a previous item, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Chiefs OC Charlie Weis is "likely" to part with Kansas City this offseason to take the job as offensive coordinator of the Florida Gators.
Weis has ties to new Florida coach Will Muschamp, and potentially may have designs on becoming a college head coach again in the near future. Weis would inherit a talented, if underachieving Gators offense. He would also re-implement a pro-style attack after six years of Urban Meyer’s spread. Weis will continue to run the Chiefs’ offense during the playoffs, but Mortensen’s report indicates that the deal with Florida is already a foregone conclusion.
Texas CB Aaron Williams will forgo his senior season with the Longhorns to enter the 2011 NFL draft.
Williams had just four interceptions in his college career, but is regarded as a well-rounded corner with first-round potential. He is also experienced on special teams and at nickel back. A skilled tackler with ideal size at 6’1/195, Williams is expected to compete with Janoris Jenkins (Florida), Brandon Harris (Florida), and Brandon Burton (Utah) to be the third cornerback drafted behind Prince Amukamara (Nebraska) and Patrick Peterson (LSU).
Ryan Fitzpatrick (knee) is listed as questionable for Week 17 after missing a third straight practice Friday.
Fitzgerald didn’t take a single rep this week, and Brian Brohm ran the Bills’ first-team offense. "We’re gonna list him as questionable going into the game," said coach Chan Gailey. "If he can get ready, then we’ll have him out there." Added Fitzpatrick, "It’ll be a game-day decision." The Bills don’t have a ton to gain by playing Fitzpatrick over Brohm Sunday.
John Beck completed 6-of-10 passes for 108 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against the Ravens in the third preseason game.
Beck posted a 90.8 passer rating compared to Rex Grossman’s 99.9 on 8-of-15 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Beck’s four drives ended in two touchdowns, a punt, and a pick. Grossman’s four series ended in three punts and a touchdown, but he was clearly the sharper of the two against the Ravens’ starters. While there’s still no separation in the competition, the Shanahans believe Beck’s upside is higher due to his mobility, quick release, and anticipation. He’s yet to face-plant, which should give him the upper hand despite Grossman’s experience edge.