Wed, 26 Jun 2019

NFL notebook: Raider fire GM McKenzie

Sports Xchange
11 Dec 2018, 10:16 GMT+10

One of the worst-kept -- albeit long-running -- secrets in the NFL went public Monday when the Oakland Raiders and Jon Gruden parted company with general manager Reggie McKenzie.

The Raiders officially fired McKenzie on Monday, The Sports Xchange confirmed.

It was the inevitable result of owner Mark Davis hiring Gruden as head coach -- and more -- in January. And after announcing Gruden's deal was for 10 years and $100 million, McKenzie's days were obviously numbered although Davis did request that Gruden keep McKenzie at least a year.

Davis was trying to obfuscate the probability that McKenzie, his first major hire as owner, was a mistake. However, although Gruden agreed to maintain appearances, the coach made comments aloud that were less than complimentary about drafts conducted by McKenzie.

When he was first hired, McKenzie's stated desire to Davis was that the team not hire Gruden.

McKenzie, a former Raiders linebacker from 1985-88, was Oakland's general manager since being hired by Davis in January 2012.

--Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden reiterated on Monday that Josh Johnson will be the Redskins' starting quarterback on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Gruden had suggested after Sunday's 40-16 loss to the New York Giants that Johnson would replace Mark Sanchez as the starter as the Redskins try to end a four-game losing streak.

He confirmed on Monday that Johnson will start, even though Johnson has been with the Redskin for less than a week.

Johnson, who was signed last Tuesday, replaced Sanchez during Sunday's game and had more success than Sanchez in the loss.

Johnson's last start came December 4, 2011, and he is 0-5 as a starter in the NFL. In those five starts, he has thrown five touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

--Redskins tight Jordan Reed suffered what was diagnosed with a toe muscle strain in Washington's loss to the Giants on Sunday. Reed was scheduled to have an MRI on Monday to provide more specific information on the severity of the injury.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden did not sound optimistic on Monday when he said there is a "level of concern" with Reed's availability for the rest of the season.

"It's a pretty god strain," Gruden said. "We'll see if it's one week, two weeks or the rest of the year. We're not sure yet."

--Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had to leave Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs because of an ankle injury, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh reportedly said Jackson will be ready to play the next game.

"Looks like he's OK," Harbaugh said, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. "I think he's going to be OK."

If quarterback Joe Flacco is cleared to play this week, it means Harbaugh's choice of a starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will come down to a football decision.

--The health of the Los Angeles Chargers' backfield is in question after running back Austin Ekeler aggravated a neck injury during the waning moments of the team's 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ekeler was injured while bidding to recover a Bengals' onside kick attempt during the fourth quarter of Sunday's contest. He remained on the field for several moments before being helped to the sideline.

ESPN's Adam Schefter said Ekeler will require further testing as the Chargers (10-3) brace for an AFC West showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs (11-2) on Thursday (8:20 p.m. ET).

Fellow Chargers running back Melvin Gordon reportedly is in line to return to action after missing the last two games with a knee injury.

--New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick took responsibility for his team's breakdown on the Miami Dolphins' game-ending, 69-yard touchdown play that gave the Dolphins a 34-33 victory on Sunday.

"It starts with me. We have to play better situational football. We'll work to try to achieve that," Belichick said Monday.

He explained why 6-foot-7 tight end Rob Gronkowski was on the field for that play in place of safety Devin McCourty. The Dolphins had the ball at their own 31-yard line on the play.

"It would be his ability to play the deep, long throw," Belichick said. "It was a little too far to get to the end zone, but certainly a deep pass in that situation is a possibility. I wouldn't rule that out."

On the final play, Ryan Tannehill threw a 14-yard pass to Kenny Stills, who lateraled to DeVante Parker, who then lateraled to running back Kenyan Drake. Drake got past several Patriots defenders before getting by a diving Gronkowsi for the game-winning score.

--Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen downplayed a heated exchange he had with quarterback Jameis Winston during the team's 28-14 setback to the New Orleans Saints.

Winston was demonstrative with his displeasure toward Jensen while on the sideline after the latter was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct during the second quarter of Sunday's game at Raymond James Stadium. Jensen also was penalized for holding on the same possession which ultimately led to a punt.

Jensen stood up to confront Winston, and the two shouted at one another face to face with the 6-foot-4, 319-pound offensive lineman twice pointing his finger at the 6-4, 231-pound quarterback.

"We're both competitors out there and coming off a bad play," the 27-year-old Jensen said. "As families, families fight. Me and Jameis are highly competitive guys, and we cleared the air and we're good."

--Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Leonard Fournette said a racial slur directed at him led to the running back threatening a fan.

A video posted by TMZ shows Fournette engaged in a verbal spat with a fan during Thursday's game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn.

Fournette was heard in the video telling the fan that he "will beat your (expletive)." He also told the person that he is "too old for that" before being led away by others on the Jacksonville sideline.

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