Every week throughout the season, we’ll be bringing you the latest NFL news and rumors here in the PFN Insider Notebook. Today, we provide the latest updates on the injury to Rondale Moore and how the Arizona Cardinals will proceed, George Kittle remaining sidelined, concerns about Alvin Kamara’s availability, and free agent wide receiver Cole Beasley fielding interest from teams.
NFL News and Rumors Notebook: How the Cardinals will proceed at wide receiver
Ever since Moore got hurt in practice a week ago, the hamstring injury he sustained running a route has prevented him from practicing. A league source described the hamstring pull as serious enough that Moore is not expected to play Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders and could be sidelined for multiple weeks.
The Cardinals are shorthanded in general at the WR position with All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six games of the season. Plus, Andy Isabella injured his back and is also regarded as unlikely to play against the Raiders. The Cardinals are hopeful that tight end Zach Ertz will be able to play despite a lingering calf injury.
The Cardinals were in flux without Moore and Hopkins in their 44-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs to open the season. Against the Raiders, they’ll start Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Greg Dortch again this week along with A.J. Green.
Dortch is emerging as an extremely solid option for fantasy football managers after catching seven passes for 63 yards on nine targets against Kansas City. One source predicted him having an increased amount of opportunities against the Raiders based on his performance and Moore’s continued absence.
Brown, meanwhile, caught a touchdown pass against the Chiefs and finished with four receptions for 43 yards on six targets. Quarterback Kyler Murray didn’t throw much to Green or Isabella, targeting them a combined seven times for three receptions and 23 yards overall.
Wide receiver Andre Baccellia, promoted last week from the practice squad, played eight snaps on offense and wasn’t thrown a pass.
George Kittle remains sidelined for 49ers
San Francisco 49ers star tight end George Kittle’s serious groin injury is improving, but not enough to where he’s expected to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
“Hopefully, we’ll have better luck this week,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Kittle. “Made a lot of progress.”
Kittle hasn’t practiced this week or last week as he continues to rehabilitate from this setback. He didn’t play against the Chicago Bears at a soggy Soldier Field last week as the 49ers signed veteran TE Tyler Kroft. He caught just one pass for nine yards on two targets but played 37 snaps, most among the tight ends.
Tight end Ross Dwelley caught one pass for 11 yards on two targets from first-year starting quarterback Trey Lance, playing 25 snaps followed by Charlie Woerner’s 19.
The 49ers play the Denver Broncos on the road in the third game of the season followed by a Monday night game against the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers hope that Kittle makes a full recovery within the next few weeks to get their standout back on the field.
One source characterized the injury as a Grade 2 strain that has limited Kittle’s top-end speed. One of the top tight ends in the game, Kittle missed three games last season due to a calf injury but still caught 71 passes for 910 yards and six touchdowns. The three-time Pro Bowler has previously injured his foot, knee, and hamstring.
Signed to a five-year, $75 million contract as the highest-paid tight end in the NFL, Kittle caught seven passes for 108 yards in last year’s postseason, including a touchdown in the NFC Championship. For his career, Kittle has 335 catches for 4,489 yards for 20 touchdowns.
Kittle became the first tight end to lead the NFL in yards after the catch with 870 yards. He owns the record for the most receiving yards in his first three seasons by a tight end with 2,945. Kittle also holds franchise records for most receiving yards in a game by a tight end, most catches by a tight end in a season, and was the first TE in 49ers history to exceed 1,000 receiving yards.
Cole Beasley fielding interest, offers from NFL teams
Veteran slot wide receiver Cole Beasley remains a free agent. That’s by choice, though, at the moment as he awaits the right opportunity.
Beasley is drawing serious interest and contract offers from multiple NFL teams, and he can afford to be selective in his process of choosing the right fit and, ideally, join a contender, according to league sources.
Beasley, 33, is one of the top available free agents. NFL teams, including head coaches, have made efforts to recruit Beasley. It’s regarded as a matter of time before he joins a team with no deal imminent or developing at this time, per sources.
Beasley could help a team with his reliable route-running skills and hands. He caught 82 passes for 693 yards and one touchdown last season for the Buffalo Bills.
The former Dallas Cowboys undrafted free agent from SMU caught passes this summer in Austin with Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield while training with since-retired wide receiver Danny Amendola, another accomplished wide receiver.
Beasley has continued to prepare for his next opportunity. After being given permission to seek a trade from the Bills, he was released in March. Beasley is a proven commodity, having combined for 164 receptions and 1,640 yards and five touchdowns for the Bills over the last two seasons. He has 550 career catches for 5,709 yards and 34 touchdowns.
“I appreciate the fans who supported me,” Beasley wrote on social media in August regarding his time in Buffalo. “The most fun I’ve ever had playing football in Buffalo. My family and I will never forget the memories. Love all of my teammates there. I won’t regret leaving though. Things changed within the organization. It was time for me to move on.”
Now, Beasley continues to practice patience as he awaits his next NFL employment.
Concern growing about Alvin Kamara availability
Eyebrows and concerns were raised when New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara was downgraded on the injury report to not practice Thursday due to a rib injury sustained against the Atlanta Falcons.
Kamara was limited Wednesday, and the Saints are weighing their options in the backfield should he be unable to go or limited. Mark Ingram II would be the primary replacement for Kamara. Against Atlanta, Ingram rushed for 22 yards on four carries — averaging 5.5 yards per run — while Kamara gained 39 yards on nine carries and caught three passes.
Following the game, Saints head coach Dennis Allen didn’t express worry that Kamara would be out this week. However, on Monday, the Saints signed former backup RB Latavius Murray to their practice squad one day after Kamara injured his ribs because Dwayne Washington has a neck injury.
Murray rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a regular-season finale last season, but was ignored during free agency and the preseason. He previously played for New Orleans for two seasons, rushing for 1,293 yards and nine touchdowns. Murray could be elevated from the practice squad before kickoff.
“Just getting another vet back in here that we are comfortable with that we know and that knows our system,” Allen said. “He was already a guy we were keeping our eye on a little bit. Once we got through Week 1 of the season and had a better feel of what we had, we wanted to go ahead and bring him in here.”
Alex Highsmith man of the moment in Pittsburgh
With reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt placed on injured reserve with a partially torn pectoral, the Pittsburgh Steelers are counting heavily on outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.
Highsmith is a strong pass rusher in his own right, recording three sacks in the first game of the season. The Steelers will need more from him as they await Watt’s return, who could be healthy enough to return to practice in five weeks, according to a league source.
Former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger discussed Highsmith on his podcast, expressing confidence in his ability to step up in Watt’s absence.
“Because T.J. requires so much attention, that was freeing up Alex on the other side,” Roethlisberger said. “And now, it’s going to be a challenge for Alex. I know Alex. Alex is an awesome football player and an awesome person. He works hard, and I think he’s going to rise to that occasion to be like, listen, I’m going to fill this void and do what I can to step up on my side.”
Buccaneers’ injuries mounting
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense is banged up. Wide receiver Chris Godwin was sidelined at practice Thursday with a hamstring injury suffered in his first game back from a knee injury suffered last season. Meanwhile, Julio Jones (knee) and Mike Evans (calf) also didn’t practice Thursday.
The Buccaneers’ WR depth includes Russell Gage and Breshad Perriman. Gage had two catches for 13 yards against the Cowboys, and Perriman was targeted three times with no receptions.
Evans caught a team-high five passes for 71 yards and a touchdown on seven targets, and Jones had three catches for 69 yards on five targets in his first game playing with Tom Brady. That included a 49-yard reception.
“The guys who are healthy have to go out there and practice and try to give us good looks,” Brady said in a press conference. “A lot of young players have to get a lot of reps. The guys who are on the roster fill in and you do the best you can do to adjust to the situation. It’s a lot like the game. Chris went out and Mike went out and Julio went out and everyone else has got to go in.
“It’s not like we can stop the game or anything; we’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do and put the guys in a position to try to go make some plays. You’d love everyone healthy at all the time; it’s really not the reality of football. It’s such a demolition derby out there for all of us. You’ve got to do your best to adjust to the situation, really no matter what it calls for.”