The NFL has turned the corner into the second half. Injuries have played a major role hobbling teams, like the defending NFC champion 49ers (4-5), who lost big at home to Green Bay on Thursday night.
Of course, coaches never like to use injuries as an excuse, but it sometimes takes a patient general manager or owner to prevent them from being fired after a poor season.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the odds of some coaches being canned.
Adam Gase (Jets), 4-7. Matt Patricia (Lions), 3-1. Anthony Lynn (Chargers), 5-1. Doug Marrone (Jaguars), 6-1.
McCaffrey Set To Return
Time is running out on the Carolina Panthers. They’re 3-5 heading to Kansas City and their offense is in the bottom five in scoring the NFC. But they’re about to get a big boost when Christian McCaffrey returns after missing six weeks with a high ankle sprain.
Panthers coach Matt Ruhle has been a bit vague when asked whether he plans to fully incorporate McCaffrey, who averaged 149.5 yards from scrimmage in 2019 when he became only the third player in league history to gain 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
It’s more than likely he’ll share touches with Mike Davis, who has done a creditable job subbing for the Pro Bowl halfback. That would represent a major change of philosophy for the Panthers. In their season opener, McCaffrey was in the game for 97 percent of the snaps. He got 26 touches. Davis had no touches.
Saints Keeping An Eye On Brees
The Saints have limited Drew Brees this week to help him recover from an apparent shoulder injury. On Thursday, he was off working on the side without pads. But he was back on Friday, as was Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas, who hasn’t played since Week 1, and Emmanuel Sanders, who has missed two games while in COVID protocol.
Suspicion about Brees was raised during last week’s overtime win over the Bears when he was seen wearing Kinesio tape on his throwing shoulder.
Saints coach Sean Payton said Friday that Brees and Thomas would be game-day calls. So the Saints might have to face their NFC South game against the Buccaneers with either backup QBs Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill.
Brown’s Hospitalization Scared Raiders
You may have heard about the strange circumstances surrounding the health of Las Vegas right tackle Trent Brown this week. He was hospitalized in Cleveland last Sunday after air was apparently introduced into his blood stream due to the faulty administration of an IV before the team’s win over the Browns.
Brown, who signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Raiders last year, remained at the hospital overnight and had more tests Monday before he was cleared to return home.
Brown also didn’t play the week before against Tampa Bay after testing positive for COVID. The Raiders had to put him on the COVID reserve list against Thursday so it’s unlikely he’ll play against the Bears on Sunday.
Another QB Change For Cowboys
On the verge of falling farther behind in the awful NFC East, the 2-6 Dallas Cowboys dealt with more intrigue at quarterback this week when Andy Dalton was placed on the league’s reserve COVID list Tuesday after missing last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles because of a concussion.
The Cowboys, who have lost three straight, had hoped Dalton might be able to return after their third-string QB, Ben DiNucci, played so poorly in last week’s loss to the Eagles. DiNucci completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards and with four sacks and two fumbles lost.
With Dalton unavailable, Dallas is planning to start either Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cowboys haven’t started four different QBs in one season since 2015 when they finished 4-12.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told the media Dalton is feeling better, and if he passes through the league’s COVID protocol, he’ll rejoin the team during its impending bye week.
Rookie Set To Replace Minshew
Losers of six straight, the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars will be without their starting QB, Gardner Minshew, when they host the Houston Texans. Minshew will be out indefinitely after suffering a fracture and ligament damage to his right thumb.
Much like the Cowboys, Jacksonville is turning to an inexperienced replacement, rookie Jake Luton, even though they have veteran Mike Glennon at their disposal.
Jacksonville doesn’t know how long Minshew will be out, but it has decided not to immediately put him on IR, which would sideline him for at least three weeks.
Dolphins Put Gaskin On IR
The red-hot Miami Dolphins were forced to place their top running back, Myles Gaskin, on IR this week because of a knee injury suffered last week in their 28-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Gaskin’s injury comes at a bad time because his replacement, Matt Breida, has a hamstring injury and also won’t play at Arizona. That means the Dolphins will likely turn to Jordan Howard, a healthy scratch for the last three weeks.
Miami already is ranked 28th in the league in rushing offense, averaging just 98 yards per game. Gaskin has gained a team-high 387 rushing yards this season.
Around the league
The Chiefs DT Chris Jones returned from the COVID reserve list on Friday and will play against the Panthers. …The Ravens will be without DB Marlon Humphrey (COVID) and RB Mark Ingram (ankle) is doubtful against the Colts. Meanwhile, the Colts say WR T.Y. Hilton (groin) is also doubtful. … The Lions will be missing star WR Kenny Golladay (hip) against the Vikings. The Vikings will be without DBs Cameron Dantzler (concussion), Holton Hill (foot) and Mark Fields (chest). …Arizona RB Kenyan Drake (ankle) won’t play against Dolphins. … It’s possible Cowboys RB Zeke Elliott (hamstring) could be limited against the Steelers. Dallas will be without P Chris Jones (core muscle). …Chargers DE Joey Bosa has been in concussion protocol and is questionable against the Raiders. Las Vegas RB (Josh Jacobs (knee/illness) has missed practice this week and is questionable. Stud LT Kolton Miller, who hasn’t missed a snap this season, is out with an ankle injury. …Bucs WR Chris Godwin (finger) will play against the Saints, but Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is questionable against the Panthers. … The Seahawks say RBs Carlos Hyde (hamstring) and Chris Carson (foot) are questionable against the Bills. Bills DB Josh Norman (hamstring) is out. …Titans WR Adam Humphries (concussion) is out against the Bears, while DE Jadeveon Clowney (knee) and WR A.J. Brown (knee) are questionable. …Falcons WR Chris Ridley (foot) is questionable against the Broncos. …Giants RB Davonta Freeman (ankle) will not play against Washington.