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Carolina Panthers officially place QB Sam Darnold on injured reserve with shoulder injury

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The Carolina Panthers have placed quarterback Sam Darnold on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury, which is expected to sideline him for at least four weeks.

An MRI this week revealed Darnold had an incomplete fracture of the scapula on his right (throwing) shoulder.

The injury is believed to have occurred in Sunday’s 24-6 loss to the New England Patriots. There is one play in which Darnold took a forearm to the scapula area from linebacker Kyle Van Noy early in the second quarter that could be the source of the injury.

P.J. Walker, who played for Panthers head coach Matt Rhule at Temple and starred in the XFL before signing with Carolina last year, will get his second NFL start on Sunday when the Panthers (4-5) play at the Arizona Cardinals (8-1).

He won his first start last year 20-0 against the Detroit Lions.

The Panthers bolstered their quarterback depth Thursday, bringing back Cam Newton, who led the team to the Super Bowl in 2015, on a one-year contract.

The deal is worth up to $10 million for the remainder of the season, including $4.5 million guaranteed and a $1.5 million roster bonus, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Panthers, who selected Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, released him following the 2019 season after he had struggled for several years with shoulder and foot injuries. They began a new regime with Rhule at that time.

Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, started 15 games for the New England Patriots in 2020 before being released in training camp this year after the team decided to go with rookie Mac Jones as the starter.

Rhule said the plan is for recently acquired Matt Barkley to serve as the backup to Walker on Sunday. Barkley was signed off the Tennessee Titans‘ practice squad on Tuesday.

Information from ESPN’s David Newton was used in this report

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers left guard Ali Marpet (abdomen) downgraded to out vs. Indianapolis Colts

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without starting left guard and arguably one of their best offensive linemen, Ali Marpet, when they face the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, the team announced.

Marpet, who sustained an abdominal injury in the second quarter of Monday night’s game against the New York Giants, was downgraded to out Saturday prior to the team’s departure for Indianapolis.

He was initially going to be a game-time decision, but was listed on Friday’s injury report as doubtful.

Marpet was replaced in the game by Aaron Stinnie, who filled in for Alex Cappa last year during the playoffs when Cappa suffered a broken leg in the wild-card game at Washington.

In 51 snaps against the Giants, Stinnie surrendered one sack, and last year, he surrendered only one sack in the postseason — in the NFC Championship game against Kenny Clark.

Marpet’s 74.6% run block win rate is the highest of any offensive lineman on the team, as is his 92.5% pass blocking win rate.

The Colts, meanwhile, have given up 19.5 points per game over the last six games — eighth-best in the league.

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Short-handed Pittsburgh Steelers will take on Cincinnati Bengals without cornerback Joe Haden

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PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers placed two players on the injured reserve list Saturday, and downgraded another to out for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Steelers ruled out cornerback Joe Haden, downgraded from questionable with a mid-foot sprain, and they put tight end Eric Ebron and center/guard J.C. Hassenauer on IR.

Ebron injured a knee last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, apparently during his fourth-quarter touchdown. He is expected to miss extended time with surgery, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler earlier this week.

Ebron was a co-starter along with rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth. He has had a reduced role this season with just 12 catches for 84 yards and a receiving touchdown as well as a rushing TD.

Hassenauer, who was starting in place of guard Kevin Dotson, injured a pectoral muscle early in the loss to the Chargers. Tackle Joe Haeg replaced Hassenauer a week ago, but the Steelers are likely to turn to B.J. Finney, a veteran interior offensive lineman, to replace him in the long term.

With both Dotson and Hassenauer now on IR, the Steelers signed practice squad offensive lineman John Leglue to the active roster.

The team also elevated defensive lineman Daniel Archibong and wide receiver Anthony Miller ahead of Sunday’s game, and signed kicker Sam Sloman to the practice squad.

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Tennessee Titans place wide receiver A.J. Brown on injured reserve

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The Tennessee Titans placed wide receiver A.J. Brown on injured reserve on Saturday ahead of their matchup with the New England Patriots.

Brown suffered chest, rib and hand injuries during last week’s 22-13 loss to the Houston Texans. He played 40 offensive snaps and finished with five receptions for 48 yards on nine targets.

“Walking by faith as always. GOD makes no mistakes,” Brown posted on social media after the news broke that is headed for IR.

Brown will now be out for the next three weeks. The earliest that Brown will be able to return is when Tennessee faces the San Francisco 49ers on Dec 23 on Thursday night football.

In 10 games, Brown has 46 receptions for 615 yards and three touchdowns. He also missed Tennessee’s Week 4 loss to the New York Jets because of a knee injury.

The Titans signed veteran free agent receiver Golden Tate to their practice squad last Tuesday. But they did not elevate him to the active roster after he practiced with the team on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Titans will likely turn to rookie Dez Fitzpatrick to start in place of Brown. Tennessee utilized the COVID elevation to make receiver Cody Hollister available to them on Sunday against the Patriots.

Hollister joins Fitzpatrick, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Chester Rogers as the wide receivers that will be available for quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Sunday.

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