Jefferson, White, Slye win NFC players of the Week

Minnesota Vikings wide receive Justin Jefferson, Buccaneers linebacker Devin White, and Commanders kicker Joey Slye were named NFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for games played in Week 10, the league announced Wednesday.

Offense: WR Justin Jefferson:

Jefferson recorded 10 receptions for a career-high 193 receiving yards and a touchdown in Minnesota’s thrilling overtime victory over Buffalo. It marked the most receiving yards by any player in the league in Week 10 and included a key, 32-yard acrobatic reception on fourth-and-18 with two minutes remaining in regulation.

This is the second-career Offensive Player of the Week award for Jefferson, also earning the honor in Week 11 of the 2021 season. He joins Pro Football Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss as the only Vikings wide receivers to win the award multiple times.

Defense: LB Devin White:

White totaled nine tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in Tampa Bay’s victory over Seattle in the first-ever NFL regular-season game in Germany. He was the only player in the NFC to record two sacks and a forced fumble in Week 10.

This is the third-career Defensive Player of the Week for White and first this season:

He becomes the third Tampa Bay linebacker to earn the honor at least three times, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks (six-time winner) and Hardy Nickerson (three-time winner).

Special Teams: K Joey Slye:

Slye converted all four of his field goal attempts in Washington’s upset victory over Philadelphia on Monday Night Football, connecting from 32, 44, 55 and a career-long 58 yards. He also converted both of his extra point attempts to account for 14 points, the most of any kicker in Week 10. Slye was also the only kicker to convert on multiple field goals from over 50 yards this week.

This is Slye’s second-career Special Teams Player of the Week award, also earning the honor as a rookie in Week 4 of the 2019 season with Carolina. He is the first Washington kicker to win since Dustin Hopkins (Week 13, 2020).

Vikings’ Za’Darius Smith named NFC Defensive Player of the Week

Vikings OLB Za’Darius Smith has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week, the NFL announced today.

In the Week 8 victory against the Cardinals, Smith recorded seven tackles, 3.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and one pass defensed, joining Kevin Williams as the only other Viking in franchise history to secure that stat line in a single game. He also is the first player in the NFL to accomplish the feat since Buccaneers LB Devin White did so in 2020 (12/20 vs. ATL). Smith’s 3.0 sacks and four tackles for loss both led the NFL in Week 8.

Through the first eight weeks of the season, Smith leads the NFL in tackles for loss (13) and is tied for first in sacks (8.5) with Patriots OLB Matthew Judon despite playing one less game. Smith’s 8.5 sacks this season ties DT John Randle, DE Chris Doleman and DE Doug Martin for the fourth-most sacks through the first seven games in a season in franchise history. He has also recorded 37 QB pressures this season, marking the fourth-most in the NFL.

Smith is the first Viking to win the award since OLB Danielle Hunter won the award in 2019.

Minnesota(6-1), who is on a six-game winning streak, will travel to Washington to battle the Commanders on Sunday

Eagles’ Sirianni on Hurts: ‘Big-time performance on a big-time stage’

After the first two weeks of the NFL season, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the game. 

After having a combined 333 yards of total offense in the team’s win over the Lions in Week 1, Hurts was even better in Philly’s home-opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

Hurts completed 26-of-31 (career-high 83.9%) attempts for 333 yards, TD, INT(which wasn’t his fault), and a 108.7 passer rating while adding 57 yards and 2 TDs on 11 carries.

He had a combined 390 total yards on offense with 3 TDs in the game, and more importantly, the Eagles defeated the Vikings(1-1) 24-7. With the win, Philadelphia improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2016.

The 83.9% completion percentage was the highest by an Eagle since Nick Foles produced an 84.8% mark (28-of-33) back in 2018.

“Shoot, I mean, 83% passing. With that many attempts, what was he, 26 of 33(28/33)? Yeah, that’s pretty darn impressive,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said after the win.

Last week against the Lions, he started the game 0/5. This week, Hurts started 11/11 for 151 yards and 1 TD. It marked the longest streak of consecutive completions to start a game in his career.

“It was a big-time performance by him, obviously in the run game and the pass game,” Sirianni said. “Great run. Both of his touchdown runs were outstanding runs. The one, I know it, was only four yards out, but it reminded me of that New Orleans one he made last year.

“Big-time performance on a big-time stage.”

Eagles center Jason Kelce was happy about what he saw from his quarterback.

“Another outstanding performance,” he said. “He threw some unbelievable balls. He made a lot of plays. This was a really great, well-rounded game for him; it seemed like. I have to go back and watch the tape, but when I’m watching the tape, I’m not assessing the quarterback. I just know the offense was moving really well, and it seemed like Jalen was doing phenomenal.”

For Hurts, who completed passes to eight receivers, including four players that finished with 60-plus yards, it’s not about his performance but about the performance of the team.

“I think we just came out and played very efficient, he said. “You know, talked about last week. Last week I talked about the inconsistencies and the urgency and the communication and the operation. And that starts with me. Obviously, we operated at a high level early on in the game. I think that’s something that we have to be able to sustain throughout the whole entire game regardless of the situation. That starts with everybody. I think as a whole, as a team, coming out here and playing on Monday Night Football. I remember what happened last time we played on Monday Night Football. I haven’t forgotten about that. To be able to come out here and perform at a high level as a team, that’s big for us.”

Big win for the Eagles, and if Hurts continues to play at this level, Philadelphia will continue to soar.

Eagles’ Sirianni on Jefferson: ‘He poses a lot of problems’

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson has been a stud since he entered the league in 2020. In two seasons, Jefferson has made the Pro Bowl twice, and he’s been one of the better wide receivers in football. 

Last season, Jefferson had a monster year as he had 108 catches for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Last week, Jefferson had nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 23-7 win over Green Bay.

This week, Jefferson and the Vikings travel to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles on Monday Night Football. Philadelphia had a shot at Jefferson in the draft, but they chose Jalen Reagor, who eventually was dealt to the Vikings in August.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was impressed with Jefferson coming out of LSU, and he is impressed with him now.

“I can always go back to my first initial reaction to [Minnesota Vikings WR] Justin Jefferson,” Sirianni said this week. “We were out of the playoffs, and it must have been, what — this was — we didn’t make the playoffs in Indy one year, and I wanted to watch all the players in the National Championship Game that were playing that night between Alabama and LSU — Am I right there? I wanted to watch all the receivers and quarterbacks that were going to be eligible.

“So that week leading up to that, because we weren’t in the playoffs, I watched [Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe] Burrow. I watched [WR] DeVonta [Smith]. I watched Justin. I watched [Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja’Marr] Chase. I watched all those guys, and I remember putting on the tape and going, man, this Justin Jefferson guy is really, really good. Like he’s really quick. He’s got great hands. He runs really good routes.’

“It made the game a little bit more he enjoyable for me. I put the game on, we’re watching the game, and I’m watching the game with it, and he catches the ball, and he puts his foot in the ground quick, and you get the zoom up of it on the TV camera, and it was like, okay, he’s exactly what I thought. He does have all that quickness. That close-up view really helped me learn that.

“I’ve always admired his game and respected his game. He poses a lot of problems. He’s a great football player, and we have some great football players, too. Yeah, he’s got a great game.”

Sirianni probably should be coaching Jefferson, but stuff happens. However, fortunately for Sirianni, he has A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.

Jags sign QB Kyle Sloter, release Perry

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed QB Kyle Sloter, the club announced Sunday.

Additionally, the team released QB EJ Perry with a non-football injury designation. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 24-year-old recently suffered a hamstring injury while training. The undrafted rookie free agent was in talks to join the Eagles but chose to sign with the Jaguars after the draft.

Perry was a standout at Brown University and finished second in school history in total offensive yards (7,113) and completions (546).

Sloter, 28, most recently spent time in the NFL with the Vikings during the 2021 season. He played in nine games with the New Orleans Breakers in the USFL in 2022 and completed 168 of 291 passes for 1,798 yards and nine TDs.

The Jaguars will have C.J. Beathard, Jake Luton, and Sloter in camp behind Trevor Lawrence at the quarterback position.

Veterans and rookies arrived for training camp on Sunday and will hit the field on Monday.

NFL announces dates for the five international regular-season games in 2022

On Wednesday, the NFL announced the dates for its five 2022 international regular-season games – three in the UK, one in Germany and one in Mexico. 

The 2022 international games will feature four playoff participants, including the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers and NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and an NFC West showdown in Mexico.  

The 2022 international games:

Location

Matchup

Stadium

Date & Time

Network

United Kingdom (London)

Minnesota Vikings vs
New Orleans Saints

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

October 2, 9:30am ET

NFL Network

United Kingdom (London)

New York Giants vs
Green Bay Packers 

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

October 9, 9:30am ET

NFL Network

United Kingdom (London)

Denver Broncos vs Jacksonville Jaguars

Wembley Stadium

October 30, 9:30am ET

ESPN+

Germany

(Munich)

Seattle Seahawks vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Allianz Arena – Home of FC Bayern Munich

November 13, 9:30am ET

NFL Network

Mexico

(Mexico City)

San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals

Estadio Azteca

November 21, 8:15pm ET

ESPN

Last year, as part of the League’s expansion of the regular season to 17 games, it was determined that, beginning with the 2022 season, up to four of the teams from the conference whose teams were eligible for a ninth regular-season home game would instead be designated to play a neutral-site international game each year.    

This year’s international series will kick off with games on back-to-back weekends at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.  

The New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings will each play in the UK for the third time.  Both teams have won on two previous occasions in the UK and will make their debut at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, October 2.     

The following Sunday, October 9, the Green Bay Packers, NFC North champions for the third consecutive year, will face the New York Giants in their first international trip, becoming the 32nd NFL team to play in London since 2007.  The Giants will play in the UK for the third time, having won both the inaugural London game at Wembley Stadium in 2007 and the first game played at Twickenham Stadium in 2016.  This will be their first game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.  

London action shifts to Wembley Stadium on Sunday, October 30, when the Jacksonville Jaguars, who played at Tottenham last season, return to Wembley for the first time since 2019, having played there for seven straight seasons.  They will face the Denver Broncos who are making their first trip to the UK since they last played at Wembley in 2010.  

In the first-ever NFL regular-season game in Germany, the two-time Super Bowl champion and current NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by quarterback Tom Brady, will face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, November 13.  As previously announced, Munich and Frankfurt were chosen to stage regular-season games in Germany over the next four years.  The first game will take place at Allianz Arena – Home of FC Bayern Munich.    

The NFL will return to Mexico City on November 21 with Monday Night Football.  Estadio Azteca will host a matchup between NFC West rivals San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals in a rematch of the NFL’s first regular-season game played outside the United States.  In 2005, the teams played at Estadio Azteca with 103,467 fans in attendance, the eight largest crowd in NFL history.  

The full 2022 NFL Schedule next Thursday.

Patrick Peterson re-signs with Vikings

Corner Patrick Peterson re-signs with the Vikings, the team announced Wednesday night. 

Peterson announced on his podcast that he was re-signing with the Vikings. According to the eight-time Pro-Bowler, he spoke to the Bills, Bears, Bucs, Colts, and Commanders before deciding to go back to Minnesota.

Last season, the 31-year-old Peterson started all 13 games in which he appeared and totaled 45 tackles, two tackles for loss, five passes defensed, and one interception he returned 66 yards for a touchdown.

The former LSU Tiger spent the first 10 years of his career with the Arizona Cardinals after being selected fifth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Peterson is a member of the 2010-19 All-Decade Team, earned eight Pro Bowl nods (2011-18), and has been selected Associated Press First-Team All-Pro three times (2011 as a returner, ’13, ’15).

Vikings’ Harrison Smith signs contract extension

Vikings S Harrison Smith has signed a contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced on Sunday.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a four-year extension worth $64 million. Overall, five years $74.8 million. The 32-year-old Smith gets $22.5 million in the next eight months, the highest in NFL history for a safety — For 2022 to 2024, the new money average is $15.3 million. The extension includes $26.3 million guaranteed.

Last season, Smith had five interceptions, which was third in the NFL.

In his 130 career regular-season games with 129 starts, the five-time Pro Bowler has totaled 557 solo tackles, 66 passes defended, and 28 interceptions, the most in the NFL among all safeties since joining the league in 2012. Only Hall of Famer Paul Krause has started more games (150) at safety for the Vikings. Smith was voted a Pro Bowl starter in 2019, making it his fifth consecutive season, earning Pro Bowl honors.

According to coaches’ stats, the longest-tenured Viking (10 seasons) ranks third all-time in Vikings history in tackles among defensive backs with 867 career tackles. Smith is the only player in franchise history with four career interception returns of more than 50 yards.

The Knoxville, Tennessee native also holds the franchise record among defensive backs in career sacks (13.5) and ranks seventh all-time in team history in career interceptions (28). The veteran safety was named 1st-Team All-Pro in 2017 by the Associated Press, Pro Football Writers of America, and Sporting News.

Vikings re-sign Abdullah, Jones

The Minnesota Vikings have re-signed RB Ameer Adullah and C Brett Jones, the team announced today.

Abdullah returns to Minnesota for his sixth NFL season in 2020. The Homewood, Alabama, native was originally drafted by Detroit in the second round (54th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft and has totaled 3,380 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns over the course of 58 career games (22 starts). Abdullah has served as Minnesota’s primary kick returner since being claimed off waivers by the Vikings on November 7, 2018, tallying 23 kick returns for 583 yards (25.3 average) in 23 games with the club.

The 26-year-old Abdullah set a single-season career high with six special teams tackles in 2019, tied for second on the team according to league stats.

Minnesota has a lot of depth at the running back position with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so barring injury, Abdullah impact will continue to be felt on special teams

Jones, 28, enters his third season with the Vikings in 2020 after originally being acquired from the New York Giants via trade on August 26, 2018. The native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, appeared in two games in 2019 before being placed on the reserve/injured list on November 14. In his first season with Minnesota, Jones played in 14 games, making three starts at center.

Prior to joining the Vikings, he appeared in 30 games in three seasons with the Giants, making 14 starts. Jones spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, helping the club to a Grey Cup title in 2014 and earning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman award for his efforts.

Zimmer believes Minnesota’s playoff experience will help the team

In life, when you know what to expect, you can better prepare for all the possibilities, which is the case for the Minnesota Vikings.  

In 2017, Minnesota went to the NFC title game, and a lot of players who made that run for the Vikings are still with the team. Conversely, for the 49ers, that is not the case. The last time San Francisco made the playoffs was 2013. On Saturday, their QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be making his playoff debut as a starter when the 49ers host Minnesota in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. 

Regarding experience, you have to favor Minnesota, and while Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer thinks experience will help his team, it’s still about playing good football. 

“I can’t speak for their team,” Zimmer said on Thursday. “I do feel like us being in the NFC Championship game two years ago, we can draw on some things through that course of that process that we had. One thing is the number of media that’s going to be out on the field before the game. As these games continue getting bigger, the distractions become bigger. I think we can draw on that. It’s still going out and playing good football.”

The stage does get much bigger as you move on in the playoffs, and whether the 49ers are equipped to handle the big stage, will be revealed on Saturday. It’s much easier to win in the regular season than it is in the playoffs, and because it’s win or go home, the stakes are much higher. 

Beating two 13-win teams in consecutive weeks on the road is never easy, but that’s what the Vikings will have to do to if they want to move on. They have the experience, and they will need all of that and more to beat the Niners on Saturday.