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Vikings OC Gary Kubiak announces retirement

Vikings OC Gary Kubiak announces retirement

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak retired from the NFL after 36 seasons as a player and coach.

In a statement Thursday, Kubiak made official the expected news that he's exiting pro football one year after replacing Kevin Stefanski as offensive coordinator of the Vikings.

"I've been on a football field for most of my life, and now I look forward to stepping away from the game and enjoying more time with my family and friends," Kubiak said. "I offer my sincere thanks to the owners and fans of the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers for giving me opportunities to be a part of this great game and for treating me and my family so well over the years. I'll miss the competition, the planning, game days and being part of a team. But, more than anything, I'll cherish the friendships I've made along the way with players, coaches and staff. I love the game of football and will forever be its biggest fan."

Kubiak's departure puts the Vikings in position to hire a sixth offensive coordinator in eight seasons.

"Gary Kubiak is leaving an impressive legacy in the NFL, and his impact will be shown for decades to come in the players he's guided and the coaches he's mentored. There's not a better man in our business than Gary," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement Thursday. "The entire Vikings organization appreciates what Gary did for us and what he has meant to the game."

The Vikings offense ranked fourth overall in yards per game (393.3) and finished 11th overall in points at 26.9 per game in 2020.

Kubiak was 82-75 in 10 seasons as a head coach and 5-2 in seven playoff games. He coached the Houston Texans from 2006-13 and Denver Broncos in 2015-16 leading the Broncos to a win in Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

Kubiak's son, Klint, coached the Vikings' quarterbacks the past two seasons.

The 197th overall pick by the Broncos in 1983, Kubiak played quarterback at Texas A&M and served as John Elway's backup in Denver. Kubiak -- as player and coach -- and the Broncos made six Super Bowl appearances and won three world championships. He also won a Super Bowl as an assistant with the 49ers after the 1994 season.

New Lions coach Dan Campbell promises gore

New Lions coach Dan Campbell promises gore

Dan Campbell brought a new level of intensity to the dais on his first day as head coach of the Detroit Lions.

"I can give you, 'Hey, we're going to win this many games," Campbell said. "None of that matters. And you guys don't want to hear it anyway. You've had enough of that (expletive). Excuse my language."

A stark contrast to stoic predecessors of recent vintage such as Matt Patricia and Jim Caldwell, Campbell was virtually spewing fire at the microphone on Thursday as he was introduced as Lions head coach.

A first-time head coach, Campbell played 10 NFL seasons, including three with the Lions, and has been an assistant coach in the NFL for the past 11 years. Campbell, 44, sounded at times Thursday like he was ready to buckle the chinstrap.

For moments during the session it was difficult to discern whether Campbell was conducting a professional wrestling spot or talking football.

Edgy? Aggressive?

That was Campbell in demeanor and description of how he expects his team to play in 2021.

"We're gonna kick you in the teeth, and when you punch us back, we're going to smile at you," Campbell said. "And when you knock us down, we're gonna get up. And on the way up, we're going to bite a kneecap off. And we're going to stand up and it's going to take two more shots to knock us down. And on the way up, we're going to take your other kneecap and it's going to take three shots to get us down. And on the way down, we're going to take another hunk out of ya. Before long, we're going to be the last one standing. That's going to be the mentality."

Campbell signed a six-year deal, coming from the Saints where he served as assistant head coach to Sean Payton. He'll also bring along former NFL cornerback Aaron Glenn, who was on the coaching staff in New Orleans and becomes defensive coordinator in Detroit.

The Lions were 5-11 in 2020 and last won the division championship in 1993.

Campbell is not a typical coach, as evident from the Thursday microphone time, and his office nameplate in Allen Park, Mich., reads Dan Campbell. Head Coach/The Dude.

While he has a lighter side, he wants visitors -- to clarify, opposing teams -- to know these are no longer the same old Lions.

"When you come in here, you're going to get beat up," Campbell said. "I'm talking about the team. Not the city. Tourists are welcome."

Reports: Jaguars hiring Joe Cullen as defensive coordinator

Reports: Jaguars hiring Joe Cullen as defensive coordinator

Joe Cullen reportedly will be the new defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars under coach Urban Meyer, according to multiple reports.

Cullen, 53, has been the defensive line coach for the Baltimore Ravens for the past five seasons.

He had a previous stint in Jacksonville as defensive line coach from 2010-12. He spent the 2013 season in the same capacity for the Cleveland Browns and was the defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2014-15.

Cullen's first NFL assistant job with the Detroit Lions from 2006-08 didn't go well due to some personal issues. He was arrested for driving under the influence and also was arrested for a bizarre incident that occurred at a fast-food restaurant's drive-in.

Shortly before the start of the 2006 season, Cullen pulled his SUV up to a Wendy's and placed an order in the nude and picked up the food at the window. A store employee wrote down the license plate and called police and Cullen was arrested.

Cullen was fined $20,000 and suspended for the season opener by the NFL. A judge sentenced Cullen to 10 days of community service and ordered him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The job with the Jaguars will mark the first time Cullen has been a coordinator during 14 seasons of coaching at the NFL. He has been a defensive coordinator at the college level at Richmond (1997-98, 2000) and Indiana (2004).

Patrick Mahomes practices, remains in concussion protocol

Patrick Mahomes practices, remains in concussion protocol

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was on the practice field and worked with the starting offense in a limited basis Thursday but remains in concussion protocol.

Head coach Andy Reid specified Mahomes is still in the no-contact phase of concussion protocol until further notice, leaving the Chiefs' quarterback situation unsettled for the AFC Championship game Sunday.

Typically players who haven't been cleared from NFL concussion protocol are not allowed to wear helmets at practice. In the portion of Thursday's workout open to media, Mahomes held his helmet and observed from the sideline.

But later in the workout Mahomes donned a helmet and ran plays with the starting offense, which included rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Edwards-Helaire missed the divisional playoff game last week due to hip and ankle injuries.

"Pat looked good out there," Reid said. "He's moving around well. He feels good. It's just important we follow the protocol, and that's what we're doing."

If Mahomes doesn't receive full medical clearance, Reid said the Chiefs would turn back to Chad Henne. Henne entered last week's game in the third quarter after Mahomes was helped off the field at the end of an option running play. Henne also started Week 17 with the Chiefs resting key personnel.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (concussion protocol) were also on the practice field Thursday.

Running back Le'Veon Bell (knee) and cornerback Willie Gay (ankle) didn't practice, Reid said.

Jets tab Jeff Ulbrich as defensive coordinator

Jets tab Jeff Ulbrich as defensive coordinator

The New York Jets named Jeff Ulbrich as their defensive coordinator on Thursday, the same day new head coach Robert Saleh held his introductory press conference.

Ulbrich, 43, worked with Saleh in 2011 while with the Seattle Seahawks. Ulbrich began last season as the Atlanta Falcons' assistant head coach and linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator after Raheem Morris was elevated to interim head coach.

After two seasons with the Seahawks (2010-11), Ulbrich coached the linebackers and special teams at UCLA from 2012-14 before joining the Falcons' staff in 2015.

A third-round draft pick in 2000, Ulbrich played 10 seasons at linebacker in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers (2000-09) and registered 501 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions in 120 games.

The Jets also announced five other additions to their defensive coaching staff. Aaron Whitecotton was named New York's defensive line coach, Nate Ollie was tabbed as an assistant defensive line coach and Chip Vaughn, Ricky Manning Jr. and Hayes Pullard as defensive assistants.

Saleh replaced Adam Gase, who was fired hours after a loss to the New England Patriots in Week 17. The setback concluded Gase's two seasons in which the team went 9-23, including 2-14 in 2020.

The Jets, who lost a franchise-record 13 consecutive games to open the 2020 season, have gone five years without a winning record. They last made the playoffs in 2010.

New York simply wasn't competitive under Gase, as 15 of the team's 23 losses on his watch were by double digits. This season, the Jets were outscored by 214 points.

Rams hire Raheem Morris as defensive coordinator

Rams hire Raheem Morris as defensive coordinator

The Los Angeles Rams agreed to terms Thursday with Raheem Morris as their new defensive coordinator.

The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and Atlanta Falcons interim coach replaces Brandon Staley, who became the Los Angeles Chargers' new head coach on Sunday.

Morris, 44, reportedly also interviewed with the Jacksonville Jaguars about their defensive coordinator position before accepting the job on Sean McVay's staff in Los Angeles.

Morris has worked on NFL sidelines since 2002, including 11 games as the Falcons' interim coach in 2020 and three seasons coaching the Buccaneers from 2009-11. He went 4-7 last season after Dan Quinn was fired and compiled a 17-31 record with the Bucs, highlighted by a 10-6 season in 2010.

He began last season as Atlanta's defensive coordinator. He joined the Falcons in 2015 as an assistant head coach and defensive backs coach following three seasons coaching the defensive backs in Washington (2012-14).

Morris and McVay are well-acquainted, having worked together for two seasons in Washington (2012-13) and one season in Tampa (2008).

Morris inherits a defense that finished No. 1 in the NFL in both scoring defense (18.5 points per game) and total defense (281.9 yards per game).

Report: Eagles to name Nick Sirianni as head coach

Report: Eagles to name Nick Sirianni as head coach

The Philadelphia Eagles are expected to name Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni as their new head coach, ESPN reported on Thursday.

Sirianni, 39, has served as the offensive coordinator with the Colts for the last three seasons. He spent five seasons as an assistant with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2013-17) and four with the Kansas City Chiefs (2009-12).

Indianapolis went 11-5 during the 2020 regular season and lost 27-24 to the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round. Sirianni's offense ranked ninth in the NFL in scoring and 10th in total offense (11th in passing, 11th in rushing).

The Eagles fired head coach Doug Pederson earlier this month after a five-year run that included a 42-37-1 record and Philadelphia's first Super Bowl championship. Since the win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, however, the Eagles are 22-25-1.

Philadelphia's offense ranked 24th in the NFL in yards per game (334.6), 26th in scoring (20.9 points) and 28th in passing yards (207.9). Pederson removed Carson Wentz as the starting quarterback after 12 games and replaced him with rookie Jalen Hurts.

The Eagles are looking for a coach who can help Wentz bounce back from a disappointing season.

Sirianni was the Chargers' quarterbacks coach from 2014-15 and the Chiefs' assistant QBs coach in 2010.

Former Packers GM Ted Thompson dies at 68

Former Packers GM Ted Thompson dies at 68

Former Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson, architect of the Packers' Super Bowl XLV championship team, died on Wednesday night. He turned 68 on Sunday.

During his tenure as GM from 2005-17, Thompson drafted quarterback Aaron Rodgers, traded away franchise icon Brett Favre and helped the team compile a 125-82-1 record with nine playoff appearances.

"Our condolences go out to his family," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said Thursday. "Certainly he's a guy that's held in the highest regard in this building and I think just around the league.

"... So certainly we're sitting here with heavy hearts today. I've only had a few opportunities to meet him over the last couple of years, but I just know how important he was to many people in this building."

Thompson was also the Packers' director of pro personnel when the team won Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season.

A Texas native, Thompson starred at linebacker at SMU before playing 154 games over 10 seasons in the NFL with the Houston Oilers (1975-84). He once filled in for injured kicker Toni Fritsch during a 1980 game against the New York Jets and made all four extra-point attempts.

He joined the Packers as a scout in 1992 and worked for the organization through the 1999 season before serving as the Seattle Seahawks' vice president of football operations from 2000-04. He returned to Green Bay as GM in 2005 and moved into a consultant role in 2018, in part due to his declining health.

After being inducted into the Packers' Hall of Fame in 2019, Thompson announced he was suffering from an autonomic disorder that causes weakness and cognitive issues.

"His impact is still felt to this day when you look at our roster," LaFleur said as his team prepared for Sunday's NFC Championship clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In addition to Rodgers, players drafted by Thompson on the current roster include receiver Davante Adams, tackle David Bakhtiari, center Corey Linsley, defensive tackle Kenny Clark, running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, cornerback Kevin King and kicker Mason Crosby.

Report: QB Dwayne Haskins visiting Steelers

Report: QB Dwayne Haskins visiting Steelers

Former Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins is visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, NFL Network reported.

Haskins, a first-round draft pick in 2019, was released by the Washington Football Team on Dec. 28. He reportedly also met with the Carolina Panthers earlier this month.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 games this past season.

Roethlisberger, who turns 39 on March 2, said that he hasn't made a decision about his future following Pittsburgh's 48-37 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the AFC wild-card game on Jan. 10. Roethlisberger threw for 501 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in that game.

Mason Rudolph remains under contract while fellow quarterback Josh Dobbs is set for free agency. Devlin "Duck" Hodges bid a public farewell over Twitter on Tuesday after his pact with the Steelers had expired.

Haskins' release last month came after he posted a 3-10 record as a starter in Washington and followed an unmasked trip to a nightclub -- a violation of the league's COVID-19 protocol. In the wake of that incident, the team fined him $40,000 and he was stripped of his captaincy.

Haskins, 23, has completed 60.1 percent (267 of 444) of his passes for 2,804 yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 16 career games (13 starts).

Jaguars name Trent Baalke as general manager

Jaguars name Trent Baalke as general manager

The Jacksonville Jaguars officially removed the interim tag from Trent Baalke's job title on Thursday morning.

Baalke, 56, was named general manager after serving in that role in an interim capacity since late November following the firing of Dave Caldwell. Baalke joined the team as director of player personnel in February.

Baalke took over as GM of the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, and the team promptly went to three straight NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl, losing to the Baltimore Ravens following the 2012 season. He was fired by the 49ers following the 2016 season before spending two-plus years as a consultant in the league office.

"Trent Baalke has had success at virtually every level of football, notably so as a general manager who shrewdly and quickly built an NFL conference championship organization and team," Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement. "That experience inspired us to recruit Trent to Jacksonville a year ago to serve as our director of player personnel and is one of the many reasons why we are naming Trent as the new general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Trent thoroughly knows the NFL and the dynamics of today's game, has an exceptional eye for talent, and I know will have excellent chemistry with head coach Urban Meyer as they begin their mission to bring a consistent winner to our fans in Jacksonville."

Baalke said he is anxious to get started working with Meyer.

"I would like to thank Shad Khan for the opportunity to continue with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the team's general manager," Baalke said in a statement. "I look forward to getting to work with coach Meyer and giving Jaguars fans everywhere the winner they deserve. I am confident that our shared vision will lead our team to success in 2021 and beyond."

Meyer, 56, had a 187-32 record in 17 seasons as a college head coach, winning three national championships. Two of those titles came down the road from Jacksonville at the University of Florida. He grabbed a third title at Ohio State, where he was 83-9 in seven seasons.

He retired after the 2018 season and has been working as a college football analyst for FOX Sports.

The Jaguars fired Doug Marrone after four-plus seasons a day after the 2020 season ended. The Jaguars finished the season at 1-15.

Drew Brees' wife reveals more injuries overcome by Saints QB

Drew Brees' wife reveals more injuries overcome by Saints QB

Whether or not Drew Brees retires after two decades in the NFL or returns for at least one more season, his wife shed more light on what a physical challenge the 2020 season was for the veteran quarterback.

In a social media post on her private Instagram page, Brittany Brees paid tribute Wednesday morning to her husband's challenging season -- calling it "the hardest year of our lives" -- by also revealing that the New Orleans Saints star battled through foot and shoulder injuries during the season, according to a NOLA.com report.

The injuries referenced by Brees' wife were unknown publicly on top of the 11 fractured ribs and punctured lung that caused the 13-time Pro Bowl selection to miss four games in November and early December.

"The fact that you played this entire year with a torn rotator cuff, torn fascia in your foot, ... then later 11 broken ribs and a collapsed lung," Brittany Brees said in her post, per the report, "makes me think I should not have taken the epidural while giving birth to our kids."

She termed the season "the hardest year of our lives, yet in some ways one of the best" in praising her husband's determination in forging on in an effort to win his second Super Bowl, an effort that fell short.

The Saints' 20-year veteran, who turned 42 last week, may have played his last NFL game in last Sunday's 30-20 NFC Divisional Round loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, helmed by 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady. Brees struggled in the hard-fought defeat, throwing for a playoff career-high three interceptions and just 134 passing yards.

After the game, Brees was seen giving a quick look back at the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before heading into the tunnel, and into possible retirement. Fox Sports reported on its pregame show that this indeed would be Brees' final campaign.

"I'll answer this question one time, and that is I'm going to give myself an opportunity to think about the season, think about a lot of things, just like I did last year, and make the decision," Brees said after the loss.

Brees missed four games while recovering from the ribs and lung injuries suffered Nov. 15 against the San Francisco 49ers. The Saints went 3-1 behind backup Taysom Hill.

Report: Bears interview Mike Singletary for DC

Report: Bears interview Mike Singletary for DC

The Chicago Bears reportedly interviewed one of the best players in franchise history to be their defensive coordinator.

Hall of Fame Mike Singletary is among several candidates the Bears have interviewed to fill the vacancy left by Chuck Pagano, who retired last week, according to The Athletic.

Singletary, 62, has never been a defensive coordinator in the NFL. He hasn't been on an NFL coaching staff since he was an assistant with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016.

Singletary's most recent position on the professional level was as head coach of the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football in 2019. The team went 2-6.

In May 2020, Singletary resigned as the head coach of Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, Texas, after the team went 1-10 in 2018 and 0-11 in 2019.

Singletary's other head-coaching experience was with the San Francisco 49ers. After being named interim coach in Week 8 of the 2008 season, he got the job permanently the following year and was let go after Week 16 of the 2010 season, finishing with an overall record of 18-22.

Before getting the top job in San Francisco, he was the 49ers' linebackers coach and assistant head coach from 2005-08.

After leaving San Francisco, he was an assistant coach (linebackers) for the Minnesota Vikings under Leslie Frazier from 2011-13.

His first job as an NFL assistant was coaching linebackers for the Baltimore Ravens (2003-04).

As a player, Singletary spent his entire career with the Bears from 1981-92 after drafted in the second round of the 1981 draft out of Baylor. He broke into the starting lineup midway though his rookie season and became a dominant player, making 10 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams.

He was a two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year and became a household name during the 1985 season. He headed one of the greatest units of all time, as the Bears' top-ranked defense allowed just 10 points in three postseason games, all coming in a 46-10 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

The Bears also reportedly have interviewed Indianapolis Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon, former New York Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher, Bears defensive line coach Jay Rodgers and Bears safeties coach Sean Desai.

However, Rodgers is expected to join the Los Angeles Chargers, reuniting with new head coach Brandon Staley, who previously worked as outside linebackers coach for the Bears, according to the Chicago Tribune.

AFC Notebook: Andy Reid and Sean McDermott share long history

AFC Notebook: Andy Reid and Sean McDermott share long history

The opposing coaches in the AFC Championship game spoke glowingly of each other when they got the chance Wednesday.

Coach-speak, perhaps? Maybe, but the connection between the Buffalo Bills' Sean McDermott and the Kansas City Chiefs' Andy Reid dates back to a lengthy period in Philadelphia, from 1999-2010. McDermott eventually rose to become defensive coordinator under Reid.

"Andy will be a Hall of Fame coach here in the future down the road," McDermott said. "I've learned, and I've said this time and time again, I've learned a lot from Andy Reid in my time with him in Philadelphia."

Reid went as far as to trace McDermott's exploits as a high school wrestler and later a standout safety at William & Mary, emphasizing his protege's intelligence and toughness. He also proclaimed that McDermott should be named the NFL's Coach of the Year for guiding the Bills to the brink of their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1993 season.

"He's taken a franchise there, both he and his general manager have put this thing together with some bold moves and production here now, so I think he's done tremendous," Reid said. "What a great thing for the NFL and for Buffalo."

--When television cameras caught Kansas City standout wide receiver Tyreek Hill shoving his position coach, Greg Lewis, during the Chiefs' divisional round victory, it appeared a sideline altercation might be brewing.

"That's me and my personality," Hill said. "A lot of people see me as being a hothead on the sideline or a diva, but it was nothing like that. Just me being fired up and just trying to give the guys energy."

His dependability showed against Cleveland when Reid called a stunning fourth-down pass in which backup quarterback Chad Henne rolled right and lobbed the ball to Hill to seal the 22-17 outcome.

--Buffalo veteran Cole Beasley downplayed his two targets against Baltimore, which resulted in no receptions in the divisional round. He caught 82 passes for 967 yards in the regular season.

Beasley even mentioned that he kidded with Stefon Diggs, who caught eight passes for 106 yards after leading the NFL with 166 targets in 2020.

"A lot of people don't understand that you can make an impact in the game without catching the ball," Beasley said. "They have to worry about me underneath either way."

--Everyone remembers the option keeper that left Patrick Mahomes wobbly and still in concussion protocol. A look at the next two snaps, however, is worthwhile.

In his start, Darrel Williams gained 12 yards on fourth down and then 16 yards to put Kansas City in field goal range. Then, Williams inexplicably watched from the sideline as the drive stalled and Harrison Butker missed a 33-yard field goal.

The Chiefs could retain injured rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle), while Williams should also be fresh after gaining 78 yards on 13 rushes against Cleveland. The Chiefs rushed for 245 yards in the first meeting against Buffalo.

"If they take away the deep stuff, we've just got to take underneath routes and take our chances in the run game," Mecole Hardman said. "As far as Clyde, I just tell him everything's faster in the playoffs but still go out and play your game."

--The absence of Matt Milano could be considered one reason Kansas City was so successful running on Buffalo in their regular-season matchup, especially since Reid labeled the Bills linebacker as "the quarterback of that (defensive) group."

Milano's presence helps reinforce aggressive tendencies that have helped the Bills torment opponents while winning seven of their last eight games by double digits.

"He does a great job of doing his one-eleventh and that's important," McDermott said. "Matt's a great young man and it's been fun watching him grow. He does his job at a high level."

Chiefs set for AFC title vs. Bills, with or without Patrick Mahomes

Chiefs set for AFC title vs. Bills, with or without Patrick Mahomes

The good news for the Kansas City Chiefs is that Patrick Mahomes is practicing.

However, Mahomes remained in concussion protocol as preparations began in earnest for Sunday's AFC Championship game pitting the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

"(Mahomes) took all the snaps and he feels good, so we're just going to follow this protocol as close as we possibly can," Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters Wednesday.

Last year's Super Bowl MVP suffered an injury in the third quarter of Kansas City's divisional round game against Cleveland and did not return. Backup Chad Henne and the Chiefs defense held on for a victory, in part because Henne scrambled for a big gain and then converted a game-clinching first down with a surprising completion to Tyreek Hill.

"For my preparation, it's going to stay the same: Prepare like you're the starter each and every week, no matter what happens," Henne said. "Whatever does happen, happens. I always stay ready."

Pretty sound outlook, though when Henne was named the quarterback for the Chiefs' last regular-season game after they had already clinched the AFC's No. 1 seed, the start was his first since 2014. The Los Angeles Chargers halted Kansas City's 10-game win streak, but the Chiefs raced to an early lead against the Browns despite coming off a first-round bye.

It is worth noting that Mahomes sprinted off the field for testing after first wobbling to the sideline against the Browns. Reid said later that Mahomes sustained an injury to his neck area and also, a toe injury Mahomes suffered is not causing him any problems.

"We're just leaving it the way we do," Reid said of his quarterback situation. "Chad's comfortable with it and he feels that he can handle that if need be, so I think that's gone well there."

While everyone is awaiting word on Mahomes' status, the word on the Bills' Josh Allen is he is playing at a level equal to any quarterback still competing in the postseason.

Considering that list of greats includes Mahomes, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, Allen is in select company. He doesn't get distracted by comparisons, though.

"I'm just trying to be the best version of myself," Allen said. "I'm not trying to compare to the other guys who are arguably some of the best to ever play the game, the ones who are left. I'm just focused on what I can do."

Ever since a 26-17 loss to the Chiefs in Week 6, the Bills have rolled to 11 wins in 12 games, including eight straight, to gain their first AFC Championship appearance since 1993.

Allen's steady improvement with the Bills rode a huge uptick this season when he recorded eight 300-yard passing performances.

"He's poised. I've never seen him overly excited," said Stefon Diggs, whose All-Pro season included NFL highs of 1,535 yards and 127 catches. "For him putting his head down and gaining actual (rushing) yards, things like that go far with us."

If the matchup comes down to key defensive stops, consider that Buffalo has allowed touchdowns on just two of eight red-zone situations in the playoffs. Taron Johnson converted one into a pick-six in the divisional round win against Baltimore.

As for Kansas City, it ranked last in the NFL in red-zone defense, allowing a touchdown rate of 76.6 percent. Yet the Chiefs have held nine opponents to 20 or fewer points.

Two Chiefs playmakers, Sammy Watkins (calf) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) are practicing after missing the divisional round. Linebacker Willie Gay (ankle) did not practice Wednesday.

Vernon Butler (quad) and Gabriel Davis (ankle) did not practice Wednesday for Buffalo.

Colts next QB odds: Jacoby Brissett early frontrunner

Colts next QB odds: Jacoby Brissett early frontrunner

The only quarterback currently on the Indianapolis Colts' roster under contract for next season is Jacob Eason.

Considering the 2020 fourth-round pick has yet to take a snap in an NFL regular-season game, it's fair to assume the Colts will be in the market for a veteran quarterback following Philip Rivers' retirement on Wednesday.

Indianapolis signed Rivers to a one-year deal in 2020 after Jacoby Brissett failed to convince the team he was the long-term answer after signing a two-year, $30 million contract in 2019.

Brissett is also a pending free agent after throwing for just 17 yards on eight pass attempts in mop-up duty this season. That came after throwing for 2,942 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions while starting 15 games in 2019.

Do coach Frank Reich and the Colts believe the 28-year-old is ready for another crack at the starting job? Reich repeatedly referred to signing Rivers last offseason as a rare opportunity, and still may believe that Brissett truly is a starting-caliber quarterback.

But does Brissett want to return to Indy, or perhaps pursue one of the several starting quarterback jobs expected to be up for grabs around the NFL?

He was installed as the +300 favorite by SportsBetting.ag to take the first snap for the Colts in Week 1 shortly after Rivers announced his retirement Wednesday.

Just behind him is Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is under contract with the Lions. However, there is speculation that he may want a fresh start elsewhere with franchise hiring a new general manager and coach.

Another pending free agent is Andy Dalton (+500), who finished last season as the Dallas Cowboys' starter after Dak Prescott's ankle injury.

Eason's odds of starting for the Colts in Week 1 are being offered at +800, followed by journeymen backups Brian Hoyer (+1000) and Chase Daniel (+1200).

The Colts' first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is current 21st overall. Should the Colts stay put, quarterbacks who may be available include Alabama's Mac Jones and Florida's Kyle Trask. They would likely have to move up to snap BYU's Zac Wilson or North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

SportsBetting.ag is offering a rookie quarterback starting Week 1 for Indianapolis at +1200.

It's unlikely the Colts will be in contention for a blockbuster deal for Deshaun Watson (+1600) if for no other reason than the Houston Texas would not trade him to a division rival and face Watson twice a season.

Another option could be trading for Philadelphia's Carson Wentz (+2000), whose development his first two seasons came under the watch of Reich as the Eagles' offensive coordinator.

Colts Next QB Odds (SportsBetting.ag):

Jacoby Brissett +300

Matthew Stafford +400

Andy Dalton +500

Jacob Eason +800

Brian Hoyer +1000

Chase Daniel +1200

Rookie Quarterback +1200

Jameis Winston +1600

Deshaun Watson +1600

Nick Foles +2000

Carson Wentz +2000

Teddy Bridgewater +2500

Jimmy Garoppolo +2500

Alex Smith +2500

Dak Prescott +3300

Taylor Heinicke +3300

Ryan Fitzpatrick +4000

Marcus Mariota +4000

Sam Darnold +5000

Drew Lock +5000

Cam Newton +5000

Mitchell Trubisky +5000

Jared Goff +6600

Matt Ryan +6600

Ben Roethlisberger +10000

NFC Notebook: Tom Brady heads to 14th championship game

NFC Notebook: Tom Brady heads to 14th championship game

Tom Brady needs to borrow someone's hand to formally count his league championship appearances.

The Tampa Bay quarterback will be participating in his 14th on Sunday when the Buccaneers visit the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. He went 9-4 in the previous 13, all in the AFC with the New England Patriots.

"It's hard to get to this point," said Brady, who is 3-3 in road title games. "There's nothing guaranteed from this point forward. But we've gotta go out there and we've gotta play our very best to beat one of the best teams in the league."

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 1-3 in NFC title games. He has been on the losing side in his last three appearances, including last season's 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

--The Super Bowl will be played in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 7 and Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians doesn't want hear any chatter about that possibility.

"We don't play that game this week -- that's the message to everybody," Arians said. "We play the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. If you start thinking about the Super Bowl, you get beat and will be packing your bags on Monday."

--Forecasts call for a 50 percent of snow with temperatures in the high 20s and that is fine with Green Bay star wideout Davante Adams, who led the NFL with 18 touchdown receptions.

"Just knowing where to put your feet, the best way to misdirect is obviously getting your feet outside your framework because you do that in snow, you lose traction," Adams said of his routine in snowy conditions. "For me, just having those reps in the snow and cold (is important). Them being in Tampa, there is no way to assimilate cold weather and the snow."

--Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown and linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul missed Wednesday's walkthrough with knee injuries. Pierre-Paul is expected to be fine by game day but Brown's availability is less certain.

"It's too early to tell," Arians said of Brown. "He'll be day-to-day."

Receiver Mike Evans (knee) and running back Ronald Jones II (quadriceps/finger) are among the Buccaneers listed as limited.

No Green Bay players missed practice on Wednesday but running back AJ Dillon (quadriceps) was limited and will be observed closely after leaving Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Among others who were limited were receiver Allen Lazard (wrist/back), linebacker Za'Darius Smith (thumb) and offensive tackle Rick Wagner (ankle).

Bucs, Packers set for rematch in NFC Championship battle

Bucs, Packers set for rematch in NFC Championship battle

The beat down was so horrific that a possible rematch didn't seem enticing at the time.

But three months later, the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers and top-seeded Green Bay Packers are clearly the best two teams in the conference and they will square off again in Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

The winner advances to the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in a venue highly familiar to one of these teams -- Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

But flash back to Week 6 when the host Buccaneers spotted Green Bay 10 first-quarter points and then spent the rest of the game pounding and dismantling the Packers in a 38-10 shellacking.

Tampa Bay star linebacker Devin White didn't mince words afterward, saying the Packers "didn't deserve to be on the field with us."

In the eyes of Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur, White's words aren't bulletin-board material. They are facts.

"You know, hey, he was right. They whipped us," LaFleur said earlier this week. "There's no sense in talking about it. The only thing you can do is you've got to prepare the best you can and then go prove it."

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions -- one returned for a touchdown by cornerback Jamel Dean -- and was sacked four times while passing for just 160 yards. His accuracy rate (45.7 on 16-of-35 passing) was his worst of the season.

Though things went exceedingly well in the first matchup, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians can sum up the meeting this way: Doesn't mean a thing.

"You can't fall into that trap of what happened last time," Arians said. "They're a much, much better football team and we're a much better football team. Both (teams are) very different right now, so you better take care of today's work each and every day."

Tampa Bay reached the NFC title game with a solid 30-20 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Packers advanced with a 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.

In fact, the Buccaneers also won at Washington this postseason and have won seven straight road games as they enter hallowed Lambeau Field while weather reports forecast a 50-percent chance of snow.

"Let's keep that streak going -- that would be pretty sweet," Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said. "Let's get another one. We're going to be challenged to get it because we're going up against a great football team.

"It's a great environment. This is one of the coolest stadiums in the league to play in. I know they're excited, we'll be excited, and it will make for a great football game."

Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champ, will be playing in his 14th career league championship final and went 9-4 in AFC title games during his stint with the New England Patriots. The 43-year-old has been performing like someone younger as he passed for 4,633 yards and set a franchise record with 40 touchdown passes in the regular season.

Rodgers also had a stellar season with 4,299 yards and a franchise-record 48 touchdown passes and is a heavy favorite to win NFL MVP honors. He is playing in his fifth NFC title game and is looking to reach his second Super Bowl.

That lone Super Bowl appearance was 10 years ago, but Rodgers insists he isn't feeling a raise in the stress level.

"No more pressure than usual," Rodgers said. "It starts with the mentality and focus. Obviously, I put pressure on myself to perform every single week. There's a lot to be said to be able to harness that pressure and the fear of failure and focus it into a real positive. But I don't feel any extra pressure this week."

Despite the sour outing against the Buccaneers, Rodgers and the Packers committed a league-low 11 turnovers in the regular season. Green Bay also features elite wideout Davante Adams, who led the NFL with 18 touchdowns receptions while making 115 catches for 1,374 yards.

Tampa Bay led the league in defending the run (80.6 yards per game), second-year pro White (140 tackles, nine sacks) blossomed into one of the top linebackers in the NFL and Mike Evans (NFL record seventh straight 1,000-yard season to begin a career) leads a deep group of targets.

Sunday's game marks the first time Green Bay has hosted the NFC title game since the 2007 season when Rodgers was the backup to Brett Favre. The Packers lost to the New York Giants 23-20 in overtime.

Tampa Bay is playing in its first NFC championship contest since the 2002 season. The Buccaneers posted a 27-10 win over the host Philadelphia Eagles and went on to rout the then-Oakland Raiders 48-21 in the Super Bowl.

Reports: Packers to sign DB Tramon Williams

Reports: Packers to sign DB Tramon Williams

It appears defensive back Tramon Williams, who was waived the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, has found a team, albeit a familiar one.

The Green Bay Packers are reportedly signing the 14-year veteran in advance of Sunday's NFC title game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to numerous media outlets.

Williams, who turns 38 in March, played for the Packers most recently during the 2018-19 seasons before being let go in 2020.

He would bolster the team's secondary and could return punts if needed against Tampa Bay.

Williams, who is listed by the league as a free agent, played in six games for the Ravens this season, including in Sunday's loss to the Buffalo Bills. He made 14 tackles this season.

Williams, who was used by the Packers to defend slot receivers last year, was a member of Green Bay's Super Bowl champion squad in 2010. He's played in 15 playoff games with the Packers during his 10 seasons between 2007-2014 and 2018-2019.

Williams played for the Browns in 2015 and 2016, before joining the Cardinals in 2017.

He has 719 tackles, 13 fumble recoveries and 34 interceptions in 205 games (153 starts).

Williams' signing would mark the second time Green Bay has added a player who lost in the previous week of the playoffs. After the wild-card round, the Packers signed offensive tackle Jared Veldheer off the Colts' practice squad. Indianapolis opened the playoffs with a loss to Buffalo.

Veldheer didn't play against the Rams last week because he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and was still in protocol on Wednesday, according to the Packers.

No player in league history has ever played for two different teams in a single postseason, though that could change on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Donald, Derrick Henry win PFWA awards

Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Donald, Derrick Henry win PFWA awards

Aaron Rodgers was named Most Valuable Player and Aaron Donald and Derrick Henry were tabbed as the defensive and offensive players of the year by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) on Wednesday.

Rodgers won MVP honors for the third time (2011, 2014) after leading the Green Bay Packers to the No. 1 NFC playoff seed and throwing a career-high 48 touchdown passes.

Donald won Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons (2018) after another dominating season for the Los Angeles Rams, the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense in 2020. He tied for second in the league with 13.5 sacks and forced four fumbles.

Henry led the league in rushing with 2,027 yards and added 17 touchdowns for the Tennessee Titans, earning Offensive Player of the Year. He's the first Titans player to ever win the award and the first running back since 2017 (Todd Gurley).

The PFWA on Tuesday tabbed Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and Washington defensive end Chase Young as the offensive and defensive rookies of the year.

Young led all NFL rookies in sacks with 7.5 and Herbert set NFL rookie records for touchdown passes (31) and total touchdowns (36).

Patrick Mahomes still in protocol; Chiefs to allow practice

Patrick Mahomes still in protocol; Chiefs to allow practice

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes remains in concussion protocol but was cleared for "light" practice Wednesday.

Mahomes is questionable for the AFC Championship Game scheduled for Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Mahomes has no symptoms, head coach Andy Reid said. The quarterback left the divisional playoff victory over the Cleveland Browns in the third quarter.

Mahomes is expected to be on the field as the Chiefs host a third consecutive conference championship game. Veteran Chad Henne would start if Mahomes is not medically cleared.

It will be the second meeting this season between the Chiefs and Bills, who played in Week 6 in Buffalo. The Chiefs won the game 26-17.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday he's expecting to see Mahomes, but that's only one element of the team's preparation.

"We've got work to do to prepare," McDermott said. "Certainly have a lot of respect for Patrick and how he plays the game and what he adds to their offense," McDermott said. "They're so good with the weapons they have around Patrick. Andy does such a good job -- they're well-coached -- that we got to prepare for the system. We've got to prepare for both quarterbacks and that's why we have a lot of work to do this week."


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