Fiedorowicz’s Career May be Cut Short – After suffering at least his fourth concussion in the past two seasons last weekend, Houston Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz could be forced to retire at age 26, sources told ESPN. Fiedorowicz, a 2014 third-round pick out of Iowa, was placed on injured reserve in early September because of a concussion. He returned to Houston’s active roster in Week 10 but was placed on IR again last week after suffering at least his third concussion this season. Now, either by his choice or that of the Texans’ doctors, Fiedorowicz might not be able to play again, sources said. He will have to pass a team physical, and there are no assurances at this point that he can do that. If he can’t, his career could be over.
UPDATE: Shazier Shows Gradual Improvement – While he remains hospitalized in Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier continues to show gradual improvement from his back injury, people familiar with his condition told ESPN. Doctors are controlling and limiting his movement as they wait for the swelling and bruising in his back to subside, sources said. It is premature to say whether Shazier will play football again, but the focus right now is not on his playing career but on trying to facilitate his recovery. Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery Wednesday after suffering a severe back injury against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
NFL Suspends Saints DT Parry Four Games – New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Parry has been suspended four games by the NFL, with the punishment apparently stemming from a February arrest when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Parry, 25, appeared in only one game this year as a backup with the Saints before landing on injured reserve with an ankle injury, and he was not expected to return this season. He can serve his entire suspension while on I.R., even if the Saints don’t make the playoffs, since it officially began before Thursday night’s Week 14 game.
NFL Reviewing Peyton’s Conduct Toward Officials – The NFL is reviewing the behavior of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton toward the officiating crew during Thursday night’s 20-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, per its standard practice whenever a penalty is issued for unsportsmanlike conduct toward officials.
Referee Clete Blakeman‘s crew penalized Payton for running onto the field toward field judge Joe Larrew with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining in the game. Payton said he was trying to call a timeout and then Larrew “asked me again.” Payton added: “I said, ‘I’ve already called the timeout.’ I probably said it with a little more oomph or vigor than I was supposed to, but I had enough. I gotta be smarter than that.”
- New Orleans Saints 17 – Atlanta Falcons 20
Highlights: Deion Jones made a leaping interception in the end zone with 1:25 remaining and the Atlanta Falcons held on for a crucial 20-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, setting up a three-way race for the NFC South title. Matt Ryan shook off three interceptions to guide the Falcons to Matt Bryant’s 52-yard field goal with 3:49 to go, snapping a 17-all tie. The Saints (9-4) were in position to pull out the victory, driving to the Atlanta 11 after Drew Brees converted on fourth-and-1 with a quarterback sneak. On second down, Brees attempted to hit tight end Josh Hill in the back of the end zone. Jones had other ideas. He soared to make the pick , landing flat on this back but holding on to the ball while his teammates mobbed him. Ryan had three interceptions in a stretch of nine plays at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. But he tied the game with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 9:55 remaining , finishing 15 of 27 for 221 yards. Brees was 26 of 35 for 271 yards and two TDs, but he was kicking himself for trying to force one at the end.
UPDATE: Steelers’ Shazier Has Surgery to Stabilize Spine – Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery after sustaining a severe back injury against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. The Steelers announced the surgery, which was performed Wednesday by team physicians David Okonkwo and Joseph Maroon, who has long been with the team and developed the ImPACT concussion testing program that the NFL has adopted. The team offered no further updates on the matter.
Browns Fire GM; Coach Jackson to Return in ’18 – The Cleveland Browns fired Sashi Brown, their executive vice president of football operations, on Thursday. Brown headed the personnel department for the past two years. Head coach Hue Jackson will remain on the job and will return for the 2018 season, “but we feel it is necessary to take significant steps to strengthen our personnel department,” owner Jimmy Haslam said in a statement.
Goodell Signs Deal Worth Up To $200M – Roger Goodell has signed a five-year contract extension to remain the commissioner of the NFL, according to a letter obtained by ESPN. A source told ESPN that the new contract would be worth $200 million over the life of the contract, about $40 million annually, if owners approve all the bonuses and all the incentives are met. The new deal runs through the 2023 season.