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Close to 100% after beating timetable for return from injury

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RENTON, Wash. — As Russell Wilson was sidelined by the most significant injury of his career, the toughest game for the Seattle Seahawks quarterback to watch was the first one he missed. Wilson wanted to break Brett Favre’s NFL record of 297 consecutive starts, but his own streak ended at 149 a week after he hurt the middle finger on his throwing hand on Oct. 7.

A consolation prize for Wilson: easily beating the projected timetable for his return.

Wilson was initially told he’d most likely be out 6 to 8 weeks.

“I wasn’t going to take 6 to 8,” he said Thursday in his first comments to reporters since the injury. “That wasn’t in my mind.”

Wilson’s goal was to cut that time in half, which he did by returning to practice Monday — exactly one month after his surgery. He’s on track to play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, where the Seahawks (3-5) will try to win for the first time since 1999.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to play all the games I’ve been able to play and all the things I’ve been able to do so far in this league,” Wilson said. “I feel like it’s a new beginning, it’s a new start and I feel like it’s time to get going again all over again.”

Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that Wilson isn’t limited in his return to practice, another sign that he’s likely to play Sunday. Wilson said he noticed his finger during his first practice back on Monday and had to “get through” it, but that it now feels good enough to make all the throws, even if it’s not quite back to normal.

“I feel great,” he said. “I feel really close. I’m not 100% yet, but I’m pretty dang close. I would say 90th percentile if not higher. I feel great. I’ve got great conviction about what I’m doing, how I’m doing it. My mindset is better than ever. I’m ready to roll and ready to go.”

Wilson was hurt when he banged his hand against Aaron Donald on a follow-through in the third quarter of Seattle’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5. He suffered a tendon rupture (mallet finger), a dislocation and two fractures, he said Thursday.

Dr. Steve Shin performed surgery on Wilson’s finger the next day on what he called the most severe injury he’s ever seen to the throwing hand of an NFL quarterback. The procedure included the insertion of a metal pin.

“I got four or five different opinions and everything else and I knew that Dr. Shin was the best at it and that’s the place I wanted to go to,” Wilson said. “He had a whole plan and he told me the plan. I said, ‘Alright, let’s do it,’ prayed about it and then the next thing I know, I woke up out of it and I felt like I had a whole new finger. My finger was straight. It wasn’t crooked and going left and right anymore.”

At the time of the injury, Wilson thought his finger was merely dislocated. When it wouldn’t go back into place on the sideline, he returned to the game and tried to play through the pain, only to come back out after one series. Geno Smith played the final quarter and started the next three games.

“I played through some stuff before,” Wilson said. “I was always ready to … But also, I have great confidence in Geno and what he could too and he’s been such a great teammate, such a great leader in such a cool way. I believe in him. I think he’s a great player. I just knew that, you know what, it’s more important for us to have the best chance right now. So that was the thought process.”

The Seahawks lost against the Rams and in Smith’s first two starts — Pittsburgh and New Orleans — before soundly beating Jacksonville ahead of last week’s bye. In those three straight losses, they had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final three minutes of regulation or in overtime.

As part of his effort to “break records” with how quickly he returned, Wilson said he worked on his hand “probably 19-20 hours a day” with the help of his physical therapist, Amy Atmore. He said being “surrounded by some of the best people in the world” helped him come back sooner than expected.

Carroll said Wilson’s hand would need a couple days to heal once the pin was removed. But he was throwing less than 24 hours after it came out on Nov. 1 as Seattle entered its bye week.

“We never stopped doing the work,” he said. “I was always lifting. I was always moving. I was always running. I was always preparing my mind. I was visualizing every rep, every defender, where people would be and everything else.”

That mental work included Wilson running mock 2-minute drives before the games he missed — pretending to call and change plays at the line of scrimmage, rolling out and throwing without a ball as he worked his way up and down the field.

“That was a big part for me because I’ve always believed that if you want to be great at anything, no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what’s surrounding you, you have to do what it takes to be great,” he said. “I think a lot of people choose not to because it’s the easy way out, it’s the easy way around it. It may not be the cool thing or it may not be this and that. But when you love winning and the process of it all, you’ll do whatever it takes. I love the process.”

Wilson initially threw with a glove on his right hand once his pin came out. He hasn’t needed once since but said he may have to wear one Sunday depending on the weather in Green Bay. Temperatures are forecasted to be in the 30s.

“Hand feels great, it feels strong,” he said. “… I’m ready. I’m ready to play and ready to help us win, do whatever it takes.”

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New York Giants QB Daniel Jones (neck) unlikely to play vs. Los Angeles Chargers, sources say

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After further visits with team doctors and specialists to have his neck injury evaluated, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is unlikely to play Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Jones missed Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins. He was injured the previous week in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants (4-8) remain hopeful he won’t miss much more time and will return this season.

Mike Glennon started in Jones’ place on Sunday, but was diagnosed with a concussion after the contest. That puts newly acquired quarterback Jake Fromm potentially in line to start against the Chargers. It only adds to questions about whether Jones has done enough in his first three professional seasons to convince the Giants — and potentially a new general manager — that he is a true franchise quarterback they should build around.

Fromm, a University of Georgia standout, was signed off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad last week. He has never played in an NFL game and could be making his first start 11 days after joining the team.

“It’s the beauty of the NFL. It’s next man up. Jake is getting his opportunity,” said Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas, who was also his teammate at Georgia. “I’m excited for him to get his chance. But like I said, next man up, and we’re doing everything to help him.”

The Giants also have former Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke on their practice squad. He seems to have been immediately jumped by Fromm on the depth chart.

Judge said that Fromm would be next in line this week at practice with Jones and Glennon sidelined. The Giants might still add additional contingencies.

“We’re talking internally about a lot of options personnel-wise to see what we can do and build in depth for a multitude of reasons,” coach Joe Judge said.

Judge said after the game in Miami that Glennon would remain the starter if healthy while Jones remained sidelined. But Glennon’s status is in doubt and might not be decided until late this week.

He’s currently in the concussion protocol.

“The optimistic view would be to have [Glennon] ready for the game on Sunday,” Judge said during a Monday afternoon conference call from Arizona, where the Giants are practicing this week.

New York is also dealing with COVID-19 issues. Offensive lineman Wes Martin and quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski tested positive on Monday, per Judge.

Martin was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday afternoon. Schuplinski was involved in meetings virtually throughout the day as the Giants try to get Fromm coached up quickly for a potential start.

Having Fromm start would provide some limitations.

“For a guy who has only been in your system for a couple days, you have to go ahead and select more of a menu what he can operate with in a game,” Judge said. “That is not always based on what he’s capable of with his ability, it’s just based on being new in a scheme and system and what he’s comfortable going out there and playing aggressively and making the right decisions within.”

Fromm has crammed hard since joining the Giants. He stayed after practice on Friday last week and did extra work with Jones there to provide input.

The fifth-round pick by the Buffalo Bills last year has made a positive first impression.

“He’s an intelligent guy. He’s demonstrated that already,” Judge said. “He has very good poise out there and he has a very good presence. Once thing that is very impressive about this guy is you talk to former teammates of his, like we did before he got in here, most of those Georgia guys, and every single one lit up and said we’d absolutely love to have that guy on the team.”

The bar won’t be especially high. The Giants failed to score a touchdown on Sunday in Miami. They have one touchdown in the two games since offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was fired.

Glennon went 23-of-44 for 187 yards with an interception against the Dolphins.

Jones has completed 64.3% of his passes for 2,428 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.

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New Orleans Saints WR Deonte Harris suspended three games; DE Cameron Jordan put on COVID-19 list

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METAIRIE, La. — The hits keep coming for one of the NFL’s most depleted rosters.

New Orleans Saints receiver/kick returner Deonte Harris was officially suspended three games Monday for a summer DUI arrest after his appeal was unsuccessful. And defensive end Cameron Jordan was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list — putting one of the NFL’s longest iron man streaks in serious jeopardy.

Jordan has played in 172 consecutive regular-season games — the longest active streak of any nonspecialist in the NFL. He will need two negative tests 24 hours apart to be able to return in time for Sunday’s game at the New York Jets. Ironically, Saints linebacker Demario Davis would replace Jordan atop that list if he can’t play. Davis has played in 156 consecutive games.

Jordan, 32, has never missed a game since being drafted in the first round in 2011. He has four sacks this season and 98.5 in his career.

The Saints (5-7) are already thin at defensive end, with fellow starter Marcus Davenport having missed the past two games with a shoulder injury and veteran backup Tanoh Kpassagnon having been placed on injured reserve last week.

Their offense has also been seriously banged up during their current five-game losing streak — though they are hoping to get at least some from the group of running back Alvin Kamara and offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk back from knee injuries this week.

Quarterback Taysom Hill will also be playing through the pain of a mallet finger injury in his right throwing hand and a partially torn plantar fascia in his foot.

The 24-year-old Harris, a third-year pro who has taken on a bigger role on offense this year, leads the Saints with 523 receiving yards and has three long touchdowns on 31 catches.

Harris’ DUI case was resolved earlier in November when he was sentenced to one year of supervised probation. Maryland court records show that Harris pleaded not guilty but agreed to the statement of facts in the police report. According to that police report, which was obtained by NOLA.com, Harris registered a blood alcohol content of 0.246% after driving more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit and swerving across three lanes of traffic on the interstate at 1:30 a.m.

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love placed on COVID-19 list

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Jordan Love, who has been taking most of the midweek practice reps while Aaron Rodgers treats and rests his fractured pinkie toe, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday.

The team made the announcement on the day players returned to the facility from their bye week. Love, who has said he is vaccinated, would have been part of the group of players tested upon their return for their week off. Unvaccinated players who have not had COVID in the last 90 days would have been tested daily during the bye.

Love has taken only one game snap since his Nov. 7 start against the Kansas City Chiefs, the game Aaron Rodgers missed while he was on the COVID list. It was a kneel-down play on Nov. 21 against the Vikings, when Rodgers went into the locker room shortly before halftime to get treatment on his toe.

However, Love handled all the starting quarterback practice duties leading up to the Nov. 28 game against the Rams.

Rodgers elected not to have surgery on his toe during the bye week, but coach Matt LaFleur wasn’t ready to say whether Rodgers would practice much, if at all, this week in advance of Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears.

“I know he was getting treatment and doing everything he can to be 100 percent,” LaFleur said Monday. “I still think it’s a process like anything, and we’ll see where he’s at this week. Hopefully we can get him out there at practice, but if not, we’ve got a lot of confidence in just his ability to go out there and play at a high level.”

The only other quarterback the Packers have is Kurt Benkert, who is on the practice squad. He, too, was on the COVID list this season, but returned to the team on Nov. 15.

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