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Football Daily Dose

Last-Minute Updates

by Ryan McDowell
Updated On: September 9, 2020, 6:11 pm ET

Pssstt ... WE GET NFL FOOTBALL TOMORROW! After months of doubt about the idea of games even taking place, the 2020 season begins with the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

As fans and players count down the hours until kickoff, the news of the day fell neatly into one of three categories; injuries, contracts, and depth charts.

 

Injury Updates

The Denver Broncos got the worst news as star LB Von Miller suffered a serious ankle injury late in the team’s practice session. Called a “freak injury,” Miller immediately was sent for an MRI and it was not long until ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Miller would require season-ending surgery. Miller is expected to be placed on injured reserve, while the injury puts even more pressure on former first-round pick Bradley Chubb, who is attempting to come back from his own ACL injury.

While the Texans will help kick off the 2020 season tomorrow evening, they might have to do it without the services of one of their offseason acquisitions, WR Brandin Cooks. The former Ram and Patriot and Saint missed practice yesterday with a quad injury that has nagged him much of camp. Based on practice reports, the injury is not getting better and Cooks’ status for the matchup with the Chiefs is now in doubt. If Cooks sits, Kenny Stills and Randall Cobb would see even more work, while WR Will Fuller would climb up Week One ranks as well.

As usual, the Patriots backfield has been a difficult one to project this offseason. The injury to RB Sony Michel had many fantasy managers chasing second-year RB Damien Harris, only to see him land on the short-term injured reserve list last week. That puts Michel back in the spotlight, though he is still not fully healthy. Michel required offseason foot surgery and has only been back on the practice field for two weeks. Beat writers report he’ll be eased back into the mix, leaving RBs James White and Rex Burkhead as the primary backs.

While he won’t be ready for Week One, the Eagles did get some good news about rookie WR Jalen Reagor. Missing time with a shoulder injury, Reagor avoided short-term IR and on Tuesday, a beat reporter suggested Reagor could be ready to go by Week Two. With the rookie on the shelf, the Eagles will fly with DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Greg Ward in Week One.

 

Contract News

When the Houston Texans shockingly dealt WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, it was reported that the move was partially due to the huge payday the receiver was looking for. On Tuesday, he found it. Hopkins and the Arizona Cardinals agreed to a two-year, $54.5 million extension, making him the highest-paid non-QB in NFL history. Hopkins is now locked into the desert through the 2024 season when he will be 31 years old. Hopkins also secured a no-trade clause, meaning he should finish his impressive career with the Cardinals.

About a year ago, the Cleveland Browns took a chance on suspended RB Kareem Hunt, who had been released by the Chiefs following an ugly domestic issue that became very public. After serving his suspension, Hunt returned to the field and made in impact. Fantasy players expected Hunt to turn that into a starting gig on a new team, but the Browns still had control and retained Hunt for the 2020 season. Now, the two sides have agreed to a two-year contract extension, paying Hunt over $13 million. Dynasty players rostering Hunt (and Nick Chubb) are likely disappointed as the Browns backfield will continue to be a shared workload but the situation was clearly a good fit for Hunt.

While no deals have been finalized yet, a pair of running backs are looking to be the next ones to cash in before the season begins. The Saints and RB Alvin Kamara are hoping to squash all trade rumors and are reportedly “extremely close” on a multi-year extension. Packers RB Aaron Jones also suggested he was nearing a deal with Green Bay to keep him on the roster beyond his rookie deal, which expires following this season.

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Depth Chart Moves

While Jones seeks a new contract, one of his newest teammates will have to be patient. Rookie RB AJ Dillon, whom the Packers selected on day two of the NFL Draft, is expected to begin the season as the team’s number three back. With veterans Jones and Jamaal Williams healthy, this shouldn’t be a major surprise. Dillon still has a chance to steal some goal-line carries, which would greatly alter Jones’ upside after he led the league in touchdown runs a year ago.

After calling Ronald Jones “the guy” following the addition of former Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette last week, HC Bruce Arians is pivoting just a bit. Arians suggested Fournette will have a “solid role” in Week One against the Saints. With a tough opponent, neither Bucs back may be a strong option this week, though Fournette feels like the better play moving forward.

Just in case you were unsure at all, Steelers HC Mike Tomlin wanted to make this clear. On Tuesday, he stated, “There is no question about who our bell cow is. It’s James Conner and he’s our primary toter.” After rotating multiple backs with the first-team offense in order to keep Conner fresh, evidently some had doubts. Tomlin has always preferred a one-back system, so while young depth backs like Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland are interesting, they lack fantasy upside barring an unfortunate Conner injury.