Getting you set for your Sunday …
1. Logistical challenges (related to setting up all that’s needed for a week of work) kept the Chargers from staying East last week between games in Baltimore and Foxboro, but Anthony Lynn is doing what he can to acclimate his team. As they do with every long trip, the Chargers traveled to New England on Friday. On Saturday, they had their walkthrough inside. But then Lynn took his players outside on the campus of Brown in Providence, and had them play games and throw the ball around for about a half to get them to, as one coach put it, “enjoy the cold.”
2. A source said on Saturday night that it’s “highly likely” that we’ll see Chargers TE Hunter Henry make his 2018 debut … on Jan. 13, 2019. Henry tore his ACL in May during the team’s offseason program. How much he can give on Sunday remains to be seen. But the team did wait the extra week to put him out there—he was close last week—and they feel good about where he’s at.
BENOIT: Can the Chargers Win Another East Coast Road Game, This Time Against the Patriots?
3. For the second straight year, the Patriots are facing the departure of a defensive leader, with the Dolphins set to hire their linebackers coach, and de facto defensive coordinator, Brian Flores as head coach as soon as New England’s season ends. This isn’t a first for Bill Belichick. He lost defensive coordinators Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini in back-to-back years, after the 2004 and ’05 seasons. The difference this time is he doesn’t have a veteran like Dean Pees to turn to. Defensive line coach Brendan Daly is one name to watch, if he doesn’t go outside the organization.
4. One of the challenges for Flores now will be finding a way to staff the Dolphins while the Patriots are still in the playoffs—should the Patriots advance. And assistant coaches are already being plucked all over the place. Flores had Ravens assistant Greg Roman on his list as a potential offensive coordinator. He wasn’t the only one. At least two other coaches were interested in doing the same, which prompted John Harbaugh to promote Roman to coordinator, which then led displaced coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, offered a lesser role to stay, to leave the organization. Another name Flores had down: Kliff Kingsbury, who’s obviously spoken for now. In the end, being unoccupied wouldn’t have changed the result of either of those situations. But it would make it easier to keep digging. Flores and Rams quarterbacks coach/Bengals coach-to-be Zac Taylor are the only two new head coaching hires in that situation this year—I’m told ex-Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell is a key figure to watch for Taylor’s Cincinnati staff.
BENOIT: Can the Eagles Avenge Their Blowout Loss and Stun the Saints?
5.The Saints, all things considered, were fortunate this week with their offensive line. Terron Armstead, Larry Warford, and Ryan Ramczyk all missed practice time this week, but all were good to work without limitation on Friday. And when I checked in with a staffer late last night, I was told that group should be all good, which is important given the fearsome defensive front they’re up against. One of the guys up there for Philly, Michael Bennett, is listed as questionable, but will play. Things are cloudier around CB Sidney Jones, who’s been out for over a month.
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