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New York Giants rule Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay out vs. Carolina Panthers

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It doesn’t get any easier for quarterback Daniel Jones and the injury-plagued New York Giants offense this week. They will be without running back Saquon Barkley and wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay on Sunday when they host the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium.

It will be the second consecutive game that Barkley (ankle) and Golladay (knee) miss. Toney (ankle) left last Sunday’s 38-11 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams after he aggravated a previous injury.

Toney, a first-round draft pick earlier this year, is the Giants’ leading receiver. He has 23 catches for 317 yards despite not playing much the first two weeks of the season.

Barkley leads the Giants with three total touchdowns despite playing only four games from start to finish.

But at least the Giants appear likely to have tight end Evan Engram (calf) and wide receivers Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and Darius Slayton (hamstring) available. They are among the Giants listed as questionable. So is speedy but oft-injured receiver John Ross (hamstring).

Engram and Shepard appeared on the injury report Thursday with injuries that forced them to miss games earlier this year. Coach Joe Judge downplayed it on Friday.

“We have to put every little thing on the injury report. So a lot of things get thrown on there,” Judge said of Engram after he did not practice the previous day. “Just a normal nick and bump coming out of games, things that are aggravated at practice from the games. So [Thursday] was a day we had to limit him a little bit.”

Shepard and Slayton were at least limited participants in every practice this week. Slayton indicated Friday that he expects to return after missing three games with a hamstring injury.

“Yeah, I feel good,” he said, before adding that he had a good week of practice.

While the Giants might elect for Slayton to go through one last pregame test on Sunday, Judge is “optimistic” about the speedy receiver returning against the Panthers.

It’s encouraging for the Giants’ offense, which will still be missing perhaps its three most dangerous weapons in Barkley, Toney and Golladay. That’s a lot of offense on the sideline.

Barkley has progressed slowly since suffering a low ankle sprain on Oct. 10 against the Dallas Cowboys. He did not practice at all this week, and he never got close to returning against the Panthers.

Neither did Golladay nor Toney. It leaves the Giants without significant firepower in a week when they already put starting left tackle Andrew Thomas (foot/ankle) on injured reserve.

Judge said earlier in the week they “all made progress.” But it wasn’t enough to get back on the field this week. The Giants have two more games — next Monday night at Kansas City and vs. Las Vegas — before their bye week.

It’s possible some of the high-profile trio might not return until they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the bye on Nov. 22.

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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield taking break from ‘all social media for foreseeable future’

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CLEVELAND — As he recovers from shoulder surgery, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to rest his thumbs as well.

Mayfield said he’s going to take a break from “all social media for the foreseeable future.”

Ironically, the polarizing QB went on his Instagram page Wednesday to announce his hiatus from tweeting and posting.

“Gotta do what’s best to focus on me, my family and loved ones,” Mayfield wrote. “Appreciate all the support. Time to get right.”

Mayfield concluded his message by also including a contact for anyone making business or marketing inquiries.

Mayfield recently concluded a dreadful, injury-filled fourth season with the Browns, who were among the NFL’s most disappointing teams. Cleveland went 8-9, missed the playoffs and dealt with drama, much of it involving Mayfield.

Late in the season, Mayfield went on Twitter to dispel a story about issues between him and coach Kevin Stefanski. He called the report “clickbait” and added that “many other Cleveland local media continue to be drama stirring reporters with no sources or facts.”

Mayfield’s wife, Emily, also used her Twitter platform to claim he received death threats. Mayfield downplayed those and described his attackers and critics on social media as “keyboard warriors.”

The 26-year-old Mayfield injured his left, non-throwing shoulder in Week 2 while trying to make a tackle and struggled all season. He recently underwent surgery in Los Angeles for a torn labrum and is expected to need more than four months to recover.

The team said he should begin light throwing in April.

Following the season, both Stefanski and Browns general manager Andrew Berry publicly supported Mayfield by saying they believe he will bounce back next season as their starter. However, it’s likely the team will at least explore other options at quarterback during this offseason.

Mayfield is under contract next season for $18.9 million after the team exercised his fifth-year option.

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Baltimore Ravens targeting Michigan Wolverines’ Mike Macdonald to be new DC

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The defensive coordinator who keyed Michigan‘s dramatic turnaround in 2021 is on the cusp of heading back to the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens have targeted Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, a former Ravens assistant, to be John Harbaugh’s next defensive coordinator, sources told ESPN.

A deal is expected to be finalized in the upcoming days, according to sources. Macdonald has been replaced on the road recruiting by a graduate assistant coach, Dylan Roney, in preparation for his departure.

The Detroit Free Press first reported that the Ravens were targeting Macdonald.

This comes after Macdonald stabilized a defense that keyed a one-year turnaround for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, as the Wolverines went from 2-4 in 2020 to the College Football Playoff and a 12-2 record this past season.

Michigan’s scoring defense under Macdonald improved from No. 95 in 2020 with 34.5 points per game to No. 8 with 17.4 ppg. Michigan went on to beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011 and win the Big Ten for the first time since 2004.

Macdonald’s hire at Michigan proved to be one of the most impactful in all of college football last season. His schemes helped eliminate Michigan’s propensity to give up big plays under former defensive coordinator Don Brown. Under Macdonald, the Wolverines yielded 100 yards less per game in 2021, an average of 330.8 after giving up 434.3 the prior season.

Macdonald also helped launch the Heisman candidacy of defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who finished as a finalist for the award after finishing with 14 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Macdonald, 34, would become the youngest defensive coordinator in the Ravens’ 26-year history. Before leaving for Michigan last year, Macdonald spent seven years in Baltimore (2014-20), joining the Ravens in 2014 as an intern. He was Baltimore’s inside linebackers coach for three seasons (2018-20) and was considered the heir apparent for the Ravens defensive coordinator position before leaving for Michigan.

The Ravens fired Don “Wink” Martindale on Friday after the sides were unable to agree on a contract extension through 2023, a source said. Under Martindale, the Baltimore defense ranked in the top 10 in three of four seasons.

Macdonald would take over a Ravens defense that finished No. 25 in the NFL last season. That was Baltimore’s worst defensive ranking since it was 25th in 1997.

In 2018, Macdonald interviewed for the Ravens defensive coordinator position that eventually went to Martindale. Now, four years later, it appears Macdonald will get his chance to step into that role.

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New York Giants won’t trade for Deshaun Watson, seek to ‘build an offense around’ Daniel Jones

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants don’t appear likely to make major changes at quarterback in 2022, and they definitely won’t be in the market for Deshaun Watson.

“We’re not trading for Deshaun Watson,” Giants co-owner John Mara said Wednesday after introducing Joe Schoen as the team’s new general manager. “There are so many reasons why we wouldn’t do that. Cap-wise, we couldn’t afford [the acquisition], but more importantly, with the allegations that are out there right now, that is just not the right fit for us.”

Daniel Jones has been New York’s starting quarterback for the past three seasons but has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play since being drafted No. 6 overall in 2019.

Watson wants to be traded from the Houston Texans but didn’t play this past season while facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

Schoen said Watson wasn’t even a topic he addressed during the interview process, almost as if he viewed not having interest in Watson as common sense.

Watson has a no-trade clause in the deal he signed with Houston in September 2020 and is set to make $35 million in base salary next season.

“Where we are salary-cap-wise and the pending legal issues, I don’t know how you can go down that road right now,” Schoen said.

The Giants are currently projected to be about $5 million over the salary cap next season and still have Jones on his rookie contract for at least another year.

Schoen and a new head coach who is expected to be hired by early next week will have to decide whether to exercise Jones’ fifth-year option for 2023. The Giants have until May before making that decision.

In the meantime, it appears the Giants are committed to moving forward with Jones, the No. 6 overall draft pick in 2019. Jones threw 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 11 starts this past year before missing the final six weeks with a neck injury.

Jones is expected to be medically cleared in plenty of time for the 2022 season, and Schoen still sees enough potential to have him part of the Giants’ plans.

“The kid has physical ability. He’s got arm strength, he’s athletic, he can run,” Schoen said. “I’m really excited to work with Daniel.

“Again, when the new staff gets in here, we’ll build an offense around Daniel to accentuate what he does best.”

There are reasons for the Giants to build around the 24-year-old Jones, who has flashed potential despite playing with an insufficient supporting cast.

The Giants were 28th in the NFL in pass block win rate this season at 53.6%. Their starting running back, tight end and top four wide receivers all missed at least two games as they finished with the 31st-ranked offense.

The Giants organization still seems to believe in their starting quarterback for most of the past three seasons.

“We do feel Daniel can play,” Mara said. “We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here. We keep changing coaches, keep changing coordinators, keep changing offensive line coaches. I take a lot of responsibility for that. But let’s bring in the right group of coaches now and give him some continuity and try to rebuild the offensive line and then be able to make an intelligent evaluation of whether he can be the franchise quarterback or not.

“I have a lot of hope in Daniel. I know how badly he wants it. I know how the players feel about him. We are certainly not giving up on him by any stretch of the imagination.”

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