Fri Aug 12 3:43pm ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner pauses during NFL football training camp in Irvine, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner signs autographs during an NFL football practice Saturday, July 30, 2022, in Irvine, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
IRVINE, Calif. (AP) Bobby Wagner is still getting used to the fact he's now working with Sean McVay, not against him.
After five years of trying to shut down McVay's offense two or three times per season for the Seattle Seahawks, Wagner is now making the Los Angeles Rams better.
Instead of attempting to get into McVay's head to anticipate his moves, the veteran linebacker and the offense-minded coach are putting their heads together.
''Now we get to feed off one another,'' Wagner said. ''His energy has been crazy. We've been in constant communication, even in the offseason. Reaching out, just checking in and stuff like that. It's been cool. These last couple of months, being able to be coached by him has been a blessing for sure.''
The Rams signed the 32-year-old Wagner to be the game-changing inside linebacker they've decidedly lacked in recent years. But the defending Super Bowl champions also signed the six-time All-Pro for the impact he'll have across the organization, and the signs are already showing as the Rams head into their preseason opener against the Chargers on Saturday night.
Practically every player in a horned helmet speaks rhapsodically about Wagner's impact on their work habits and football intelligence, but they also can't wait to see the impact he'll have on Sundays.
''You go back and watch the plays (at practice), and you've just got a smile on your face,'' Aaron Donald said. ''I might jump on my gap, and then he's there to feel it so fast, because he's just downhill. He understands where things are going, and he's able to play so much faster. Just seeing the way he moves, the way he plays, definitely gets us excited.''
The Rams didn't sign Wagner specifically to teach Ernest Jones how to be a great inside linebacker, yet Jones sometimes feels as if he hit the football lottery. He'll spend his second NFL season lining up next to one of his idols - and then picking his brain afterward.
''It's crazy that he's playing with us now and that I'm learning from him, because he was like the guy that I always watched,'' Jones said.
Wagner will have the green dot on his helmet as the Rams' defensive signal-caller, and he has already assumed a natural leadership role beyond barking out signals: He's a sounding board for his teammates and an example to watch every day in practice.
Jones frequently finds himself admiring Wagner's nose for the ball and knack for positioning.
''That's like every day, even when I'm watching film and he makes the plays that the normal linebacker wouldn't make,'' Jones said. ''The average one wouldn't, but he goes out there and does it so well. Every time I see that, I'm like, 'That's the reason why his name is so well-known, and why he's Bobby Wagner.'''
Before Wagner's arrival, McVay's Rams appeared to pay little mind to the impact of an inside linebacker. Cory Littleton had two productive seasons at the spot, but Los Angeles has otherwise fielded modest contributors at the position. Opponents noticed, targeting the likes of Troy Reeder, Kenny Young and Micah Kiser in recent years, particularly on pass plays.
But the Rams drafted Jones in the third round last year and fast-tracked him to a starting spot, particularly after he showed solid pass coverage abilities. When Wagner was dropped by Seattle and the Rams found themselves with cap room from Von Miller's departure for Buffalo, they signed him in a move that signaled a change in philosophy at the position.
At least, that's the suspicion: How defensive coordinator Raheem Morris will use both Wagner and Jones is a question that won't be answered until September. But their presence provides several new options for the Rams as they incorporate two inside linebackers into the defensive scheme installed by Brandon Staley and refined by Morris into a championship-winning setup last season.
Wagner has made it clear he never wanted to leave Seattle, but the benefits of moving home are already obvious. Wagner was born in Los Angeles and raised in its outer suburbs, and his family members were regular presences at the Rams' training camp in Irvine.
Wagner already appears comfortable with his new team, and the rest of the Rams are grateful he has embraced a late-career change of scenery. Outside linebacker Terrell Lewis also grew up idolizing Wagner, but he already learned his new teammate is here to work on winning a second ring - and not to reminisce about the Legion of Boom or any past glories.
''I talk to Bobby a lot, just about the way he takes care of his body and things I've seen over his career,'' said Lewis, who has endured numerous injury problems in his two seasons.
''I grew up watching him. I used to tease him when he first got here to the point where he's like, `Bro, chill out with that.' I used to say `L.O.B.!' And he would be like, `Man, chill out. That's old, that's old.'''
San Francisco 49ers star defensive lineman Arik Armstead (foot), who came into the Monday night game against the Los Angeles Rams questionable with his foot injury, aggravated his foot injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game in the fourth quarter. The 28-year-old has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his foot, and on a short week heading into Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers, Armstead might have a tough time getting cleared to play. With Armstead and Javon Kinlaw (knee) injured on the interior of the 49ers defensive line, backups Kevin Givens and Hassan Ridgeway have been pressed into more playing time on Monday against LA.
San Francisco 49ers left tackle Colton McKivitz (knee), who was filling in for All-Pro Trent Williams (ankle), is out for the rest of the Monday night game against the Los Angeles Rams with a knee injury. Jaylon Moore is now filling in, with Blake Hance on deck. When Moore was forced to enter last Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, the Broncos defense destroyed the Niners' offensive line and came after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco might have to devote some more help to Moore on Garoppolo's blind side for the rest of this Week 4 game to avoid something similar happening against the Rams strong defense.
New Orleans Saints practice squad RB Latavius Murray will be signed to the Denver Broncos 53-man roster, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: The Broncos have lost Javonte Williams to injury, so Murray should have a role right away. Murray likely will be behind Melvin Gordon in terms of workload, but he could be a flex option against certain opponents.
Linebacker Blake Martinez is signing a deal to join the Las Vegas Raiders according to The Score's Jordan Schultz. Martinez was released by the New York Giants right before the season started after a two-year tenure in the Big Apple. He will rejoin former Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who is now with the Raiders. Martinez posted four straight seasons of at least 144 tackles from 2017 to 2020 and could have some value in IDP leagues if he garners a full-time role with the Raiders. The terms of the deal have yet to be posted.
Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Coleman Shelton left Week 4's Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers with an ankle injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the game shortly after. Shelton injured his ankle during the first quarter and then tried to play on the following drive but ultimately ended up heading back into the locker room. Shelton was replaced on the offensive line by Jeremiah Kolone at center. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford will have his hands full for the remainder of the game against the San Francisco defense.
The Denver Broncos signed running back Latavius Murray off of the New Orleans Saints' practice squad on Monday. Murray logged 11 rushes for 57 yards and a touchdown for the Saints against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4 but he will now head to Denver to help fill out the running back room following the season-ending injury to Javonte Williams. Murray will join Melvin Gordon III and Mike Boone with the Broncos. It remains to be seen if Murray will have a role, or even suit up, against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5's Thursday night game after he just played in London on Sunday. Murray will be worth monitoring in fantasy in case he carves out a significant role with the Broncos.
New Orleans Saints RB Latavius Murray and TE J.P. Holtz were returned to the practice squad Monday, Oct. 3, after being on the active roster for the Week 4 game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Cole Beasley was returned to the practice squad Monday, Oct. 3, after being on the active roster for the Week 4 game.
Houston Texans TE Jordan Akins and Mason Schreck were returned to the practice squad Monday, Oct. 3, after being on the active roster for the Week 4 game.
Dynasty | Treylon Burks has been diagnosed with turf toe after being carted off the field in Sunday's game. Dynasty Analysis: The injury looked to be much worse than turf toe, but this is going to keep Burks off the field for a while. This is one of the most difficult injuries to return from during a season, so we'll keep an eye on his rehab starting this week. This is just the latest setback for Burks, who has struggled to stay on the field during his rookie season, let alone produce at a high level. He's in danger of falling out of the top ten rookies should others continue to step up while he's out of the lineup. Dynasty managers have no choice but to hold on to him for the moment.
Dynasty | Tua Tagovailoa will not play for the Dolphins this week against the Jets. Dynasty Analysis: It seems the Dolphins may have received the memo from the rest of America wondering why he was ever on the field last week in the first place. Tua is dealing with a significant concussion and while his date to return to the field is unknown, there is little to no chance we see him until he's more than 100% ready to play. Miami has come under fire for how they've handled his injuries this season and are clearly under the microscope. As for Tua, his ranking of QB16 is secure, but we'll need to see him back on the field before moving him up.
Dynasty | With Brian Robinson set to return from IR, Antonio Gibson's grasp on the starting running back job is tenuous at best. Dynasty Analysis: Robinson was clearly in the lead for the job this summer and Gibson hasn't really done anything to likely convince the Washington coaches he should be the answer. While Robinson may be eased into the job, it seems unlikely Gibson will hold him off for long. Gibson has posted just 173 yards this year, averaging averaging a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry in the process. At this point, savvy owners are likely looking to peddle him before his ranking of RB21 starts to tank.
Denver Broncos defensive end Randy Gregory (knee) is undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery and will be sidelined anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on how he recovers, according to a source. The good news for Gregory is that his ACL is still intact, so he'll be able to return after a few weeks of rest and recovery. The 29-year-old pass-rusher has been a big force on Denver's defensive line through the first four weeks, compiling two sacks, nine tackles (six solo), seven QB hits and two forced fumbles, so his absence is surely bad news for a Broncos defense that got dominated by the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders in their Week 4 loss. The Broncos defense/special teams unit won't be anything more than a low-upside streaming option in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young (knee) will not be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list this week, according to head coach Ron Rivera. Young will miss at least one more game and probably more as he continues to recover from ACL and MCL tears in his right knee last November. The 23-year-old former first-rounder made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season in 2020 when he had 7.5 sacks and 44 tackles (32 solo), but he played in only nine games in 2021 and finished with just 1.5 sacks and 26 tackles (15 solo). At full health, he will be a big boost to the Commanders' pass rush and he should be worth a look in IDP formats down the stretch as well.
Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said quarterback Russell Wilson (shoulder) would have been limited on Monday if the team had a real practice. Hackett said Wilson "got dinged up a little bit" in the Week 4 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. It's something to keep an eye on, but Wilson doesn't appear to be in any danger of missing the Week 5 contest against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night. The 33-year-old QB accounted for three touchdowns on Sunday (two passing, one rushing), but he threw for only 237 yards on a season-low 25 attempts. Against a Colts defense that's allowing 16.2 fantasy points per game to signal-callers through four weeks, Wilson will be in play as a low-end QB1 in fantasy.
Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said that rookie running back Brian Robinson (knee) will come off the Non-Football Injury list and the team will start his 21-day clock to return on Wednesday. Robinson was cleared by doctors to practice, and Rivera said it looks "very promising" that the 23-year-old could make his NFL debut in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans. It wouldn't be surprising if the Commanders take it slow with Robinson, but once he is ready to contribute, it will be bad news for both Antonio Gibson and pass-catching back J.D. McKissic. Before being shot in an attempted robbery in D.C. just before the start of the regular season, Robinson was trending towards leading Washington's backfield. If he remains available on your league's waiver wire, scoop him up now and stash him.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that wide receiver Rashod Bateman (foot) was dealing with a foot injury in the second half of the Week 4 loss to the Buffalo Bills, which is why he was not on the field in the fourth quarter. The Ravens are listing Bateman as day-to-day for now, so fantasy managers will need to keep an eye on his practice status throughout the week leading up to a Week 5 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football. Unless the 22-year-old suffers a setback this week, he should be on track to suit up this week. He played a season-low 44 percent of the snaps on Sunday and caught just three of six targets for 17 yards. With better health in Week 5, fantasy managers will be hoping he can bounce back after scoring touchdowns in each of the first two weeks.
With Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams (knee) out for the season due to a torn ACL, the Broncos will have to rely more on Melvin Gordon III, who has fumbled five times in his last 44 carries over five games. Sunday's Week 4 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders marked the third time a Gordon fumble has been returned for a touchdown in the Broncos' last 12 games. The 29-year-old was listed as limited on Monday's practice estimate with a neck injury, but he should be fine ahead of Thursday night's Week 5 game against the Indianapolis Colts, where he should lead Denver's backfield despite his fumbling issues. Mike Boone might be involved as well the rest of the way, but Gordon should be Denver's primary back, giving him RB2 upside moving forward.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Danny Gray (hip) and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (knee) are both officially inactive on Monday night against the division-rival Los Angeles Rams. The Niners also placed linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (knee) on Injured Reserve. Tight end Ross Dwelley (rib) and defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot), who were questionable, are officially active. Gray wasn't able to practice all week and came into this one doubtful to play. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk will continue to work as the team's top pass-catchers, as well as tight end George Kittle. Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud will battle for scraps against a tough Rams defense Monday night.
The San Francisco 49ers promoted wide receivers Willie Snead IV and Malik Turner and running back Tevin Coleman from the practice squad to the active roster for Monday night's game against the division-rival Los Angeles Rams. Snead and Turner will be battling for a depth role among the likes of Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on Monday night. Meanwhile, Coleman will provide depth to a banged-up Niners backfield with Elijah Mitchell (knee) on Injured Reserve and rookie Tyrion Davis-Price (ankle) out for another week. Jeff Wilson Jr. will remain the team's primary back against the Rams, with rookie Jordan Mason and Marlon Mack behind him.