NFL notebook: Steelers WR Brown expected to play vs. Jags

NFL notebook: Steelers WR Brown expected to play vs. Jags
By Reuters

13/01/2018 at 09:18Updated 13/01/2018 at 09:20

Two days before the Pittsburgh Steelers are set to host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC divisional playoffs, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin gave an update to one of the biggest storylines of the postseason: Antonio Brown is expected to play.

Speaking at a news conference Friday, Tomlin was asked if he thought the
All-Pro receiver would play. The answer? A very Tomlin-esque, "Yes."

Brown left the Steelers' Dec. 17 game against New England after taking an ugly
hit to his lower left leg. He sustained a partially torn calf, and Brown
missed Pittsburgh's final two games of the regular season.

Nonetheless, Brown led the NFL with 1,533 yards receiving and was one of five
players with at least 100 receptions. He was named a first-team All-Pro for
the fourth consecutive season.

--Quarterback Sam Bradford may suit up when the Minnesota Vikings play the
visiting New Orleans Saints in an NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday. Or
perhaps he won't.

The Boston Globe cited a source saying Bradford (knee) would suit up for the
first time since Week 5, but the No. 1 source on all things Vikings -- head
coach Mike Zimmer -- offered a different take.

When asked about the report during his news conference on Friday, Zimmer said:
"I don't know how the Boston Globe would know because I haven't made any
decisions yet."

--The Denver Broncos are in the market for a quarterback this offseason, and
it appears they would like a closer look at Oklahoma star Baker Mayfield, the
Heisman Trophy winner.

Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage revealed on ESPNU Radio that
Denver's staff requested that Mayfield be placed on the Senior Bowl's North
team, the squad the Broncos will coach later this month. The Houston Texans --
who are without a first-round pick after trading it in a package to draft
Deshaun Watson -- will coach the South squad.

Broncos general manager John Elway said in a statement last week the team
"jumped at the opportunity" to coach in the Senior Bowl, the first time Denver
has done so since 1989. At a season-ending press conference a day earlier, he
emphasized the need to upgrade at quarterback, calling it "the No. 1 goal" of
the offseason.

--The next head coach of the New York Giants reportedly will come from a group
of three NFL assistants with teams in the playoffs: New England defensive
coordinator Matt Patricia, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and
Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

All three remain in the mix with no surprise candidate looming, the New York
Post reported. There were multiple reports this week that Patricia was the
likely choice to become the Giants' next head coach.

The Giants have interviewed three other candidates -- interim head coach and
defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator
Steve Wilks and recently fired Denver Broncos running backs coach Eric
Studesville. The team also asked for permission to interview Philadelphia
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, but an interview has not been
scheduled.

--When the Chicago Bears hired former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator
Matt Nagy earlier this week, they made it clear that the offense deserved more
of the blame for their 5-11 season than did the defense.

Nagy himself appears to be reinforcing that notion because the Bears' new head
man has convinced current Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to stay on
with the club. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the deal is for three years.

The Bears reportedly became concerned Monday that they would lose Fangio after
informing him of the club's decision to hire Nagy. According to the Chicago
Tribune, general manager Ryan Pace gave Fangio the first interview for the
head-coaching position, which opened after John Fox was fired after three
seasons.

--Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison was fired by the Buffalo Bills after the
club averaged 16 points over the final eight games of the season, then was
bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Dennison, in his first year on the job, was challenged by injuries at wide
receiver and left tackle and changes at quarterback, with first-year head
coach Sean McDermott going to rookie Nathan Peterman before reverting to Tyrod
Taylor. The move could be the beginning of a major overhaul of the offense
this offseason with Taylor not expected to return.

--New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan, a star of the team's Super
Bowl run last season, was cleared to return for the divisional playoff game
Saturday night against the Tennessee Titans.

Hogan missed seven of the final eight regular-season games with a shoulder
injury sustained Oct. 29. In the first eight game of the season, Hogan had 33
receptions and five touchdowns as the starter opposite Brandin Cooks. Hogan
attempted to return for the Dec. 11 game at Miami but caught one pass and was
visibly limited.

--Matt Rhule intends to remain head coach at Baylor, rebuffing "serious
interest" from the Indianapolis Colts, who interviewed the first-year Bears
coach last week.

Rhule declined further negotiations with the Colts, according to NFL Network.

NFL Network also reported that Wilks would not interview with the Colts as
originally scheduled.

--Field Level Media

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