NFL news and notes: Defensive stars suffer serious injuries, Rivers will wait to address contract
The week comes to an end with devastating news for two teams.
Both the New York Jets and Los Angeles Chargers have lost defensive stars to injury, and while it will not happen just yet, some offenses could look a lot different this time next year.
One offense already will.
Those stories and more in Friday's edition of NFL News and Notes.
Three things that matter
Defenses deteriorating due to injury
A couple of teams took losses to their defensive units. Some, of course, are worse than others with season-ending injuries. Others could resume their duties sometime after the regular season begins on September 5. But the dwindling defenses should still be a cause for concern against the offensive powerhouses across the league.
Two of the biggest losses came on opposite ends of the country. The Jets will be without veteran linebacker Avery Williamson after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Thursday, while the Chargers will miss all-pro safety Derwin James for a "significant amount of time" after suffering a foot injury in practice the same day.
It is yet another blow to the Chargers who have already seen injuries to their defense (safety Nasir Adderley and cornerback Trevor Williams) and offense in wide receiver Keenan Allen.
Another aging star set to address contract
It seems like Father Time has yet to catch up to Tom Brady, who will play out his contract with the New England Patriots. But another quarterback joins Brady in the final year of his own deal. Philip Rivers will reportedly address his status with the Chargers after the 2019 season.
Both parties have agreed to wait to address a new deal, and according general manager Tom Telesco everyone is "on the same page."
This matters because unlike Brady, Rivers has struggled to put together long playoff runs — something that might factor into a new deal. The 37-year-old signal-caller has admitted playing this far into a career does not have the same guarantees.
"I think when you get to this point, you do take it one year at a time," Rivers said during training camp. "But I do expect to be playing here next year, that is the expectation. But when you're 37, you say, 'OK, let's focus on this year.' Then, 'Let's focus on next year.' Take them one at a time."
This surely matters for the Los Angeles offense — now, with postseason success this year being a motivating factor.
Patriots offense had a big boost
Josh Gordon has been reinstated by the NFL after he was suspended indefinitely in December for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the league's substance abuse policy.
The Patriots receiver will be back on a conditional basis and will not be eligible to play next week, but his return comes at the right time.
New England's offense has been struggling with injuries as Julian Edelman (non-football injury) and Demaryius Thomas (physically unable to perform) have yet to suit up.
A healthy Gordon is just what the Patriots need.
He caught 41 passes for 737 yards and four touchdowns for the team last year after being traded to New England before the start of the season.
Two things that don't matter
NFL tries to explain controversial offensive pass inference call
Another season, another long list of botched calls ahead.
It starts with a controversial offensive pass interference call on Thursday.
In the fourth quarter of the Cincinnati Bengals-Washington Redskins exhibition game, an OPI was called on Washington receiver Kelvin Harmon when he jumped and reached back for an underthrown pass over Cincinnati defensive back Davontae Harris. The call, however, was because Harmon supposedly pushed off Harris near the 50-yard line — which is outside the view of the camera angle. The Redskins challenged the call, but it was upheld.
The official NFL Officiating Twitter account later explained why the call was not overturned.
"The on-field officials called OPI for a push off by WAS 13 at the 50-yard line, well before he jumped to catch the ball," the statement read. "There was no clear and obvious visual evidence from the available broadcast video that the ruling was incorrect, so the on-field ruling stands.
"Coaches video, not available on the game broadcast, showed that CIN 35 was off balance after contact by WAS 13, which is why offensive pass interference was called on the field."
Why this doesn't matter? Because it is always going to happen.
Don't expect to see stars soon
Preseason is not meant for the stars. It is a time where rosters are set and position players battle to make a name for themselves. It is why the Green Bay Packers will likely not play Aaron Rodgers over the next couple of weeks and also why Cam Newton still has yet to show off his hopefully healed arm.
Another thing that does not matter? Preseason records. It is why first-year Matt LaFleur is not necessarily concerned with quarterback Rodgers seeing the field and it also explains Newton's absence.
"I think we'd like to see him, but you're talking about a veteran quarterback that's played a lot of football," LaFleur said Thursday after the Packers' 26-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. "I don't think it's a necessity, but it's certainly something that we'd like to see."
The Carolina Panthers are taking a similar approach. While Newton may want to show off his new throwing motion, something Buffalo Bills defensive back Captain Munnerlyn (and member of the Panthers in 2018) told reporters is like "night and day" from previous seasons, he will have to wait.
The Panthers do not want to risk any unnecessary damage, and rightfully so.
One video you have to see
What is preseason for if rookies do not show their stuff?
Friday's tweet of the day
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson hurdled his way into the end zone on Thursday.
The touchdown was called back due to an illegal block, but it earned praise from Rodgers and gave us one of Friday's best social media moments: Jackson hurdling over just about anything.