Thu Nov 25 12:37pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif speaks to reporters at the team's facility in Florham Park, N.J., on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. Duvernay-Tardif was coming off having won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs in his sixth year in the NFL when he began working as an orderly at a long-term care facility. He's back playing football now and starting for the Jets. (AP Photo/Dennis Waszak Jr.)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was far from a football field at this time last year, when shoulder pads and playbooks gave way to scrubs and medical charts.
The big New York Jets offensive lineman with a doctorate in medicine was on the front lines helping fight against a pandemic that gripped the world - and putting his playing career on hold.
''I was part of a movement of thousands of people that went back and helped, whether it was retired nurses or doctors, '' Duvernay-Tardif said. ''I think it gave me a different perspective on the medical system. Like, everything is so hierarchical normally, but in a time of crisis, feeling like everybody coming together and working as a team, it was pretty amazing.''
The 30-year-old Duvernay-Tardif, a native of Montreal, graduated from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine in May 2018, earning his doctorate and a master's in surgery while balancing his blossoming football career. He was the first NFL player to opt out of last season because of the coronavirus pandemic, a decision that didn't come easily.
Duvernay-Tardif was coming off having won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs in his sixth NFL season when the world's events tugged at him. For years, his life had been all about blocking defenders, protecting quarterbacks and plowing lanes for running backs.
But he wanted to do more.
He needed to do more.
Duvernay-Tardif didn't yet have his license to practice, so he instead worked as an orderly at a long-term care facility in his hometown. He helped feed patients, changed them, gave them medicine and offered a friendly face to some living their final days.
''A big impact, that's for sure,'' he said of how the experience affected him. ''I think it changed my perspective, both as a future physician, but also as a football player. ... I know I'm going to be evolving in the medical community for the next 40 years, but I think last year there was some special circumstances.
''And I felt like the best thing for me was to go on the front line and help in any capacity possible.''
Through the long, emotional days and nights, football remained in the back of Duvernay-Tardif's mind. He knew he'd return to the field - only after he finished his duties during the pandemic.
''I kind of promised myself when I worked it out that I was going to go back,'' he said. ''For me, it was not about the money, the legacy or whatever. It was really about playing. And it's kind of a personal challenge that I set for myself.''
The gyms in Montreal were closed for several months, so he kept himself in shape by building a makeshift workout station on his balcony during the winter - while the Chiefs made another Super Bowl run without him.
In March, he stopped working at the long-term care facility and set his sights on an NFL return.
He returned to the Chiefs in the spring and was greeted warmly by his teammates - and the fact Kansas City drafted Trey Smith in the sixth round. Duvernay-Tardif broke a bone in his hand in training camp and was sidelined several weeks, and Smith moved into the starting job at right guard.
Duvernay-Tardif was inactive for the Chiefs' first seven games, and then was active but didn't play in Week 8. Looking for an opportunity elsewhere, he waived his no-trade clause and was dealt to the Jets for tight end Daniel Brown on Nov. 2.
He made his debut for New York 12 days later, playing three snaps on special teams against Buffalo. And last Sunday against Miami, Duvernay-Tardif started at right guard in place of Greg Van Roten.
''I was really happy to get back out there,'' Duvernay-Tardif said. ''That's why I came to New York, was to play and to step on that field. It's amazing. It's a blessing.''
For a guy who hadn't played since the Super Bowl in February 2020, it didn't take long to knock off the rust.
''Thought he did a good job,'' coach Robert Saleh said. ''Obviously, there's always going to be plays that he's going to want back. But two years without playing football, at least in a game, so excited for him to get another opp and another crack. Expecting him to be better this week.''
Duvernay-Tardif has been getting a crash course in the Jets' schemes and terminology while quickly endearing himself to his new teammates.
''The dude is a doctor, man, like that's crazy, bro,'' right tackle Morgan Moses said with a laugh. ''I asked him, like, `Hey, can you give me a IV?' Just joking. It's like, where were you in training camp when we were all dying out here?
''No, but it's great to have him in here, man. I think he's a great guy. Obviously, you know what he's done off the field has been amazing.''
Jokes aside, Duvernay-Tardif acknowledged some teammates have asked him about his thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine - a hot topic issue in the NFL, and in society. It came to the forefront this week when Jets quarterbacks Mike White and Joe Flacco, who is unvaccinated, were placed on the COVID-19 list.
''I feel like as a medical professional, we have that responsibility to try to give the best information possible,'' Duvernay-Tardif said. ''It's a personal decision, but of course, if you ask me, everybody should get vaccinated, so I try to state the facts and stay objective.''
He has already made a memorable mark on the football field - and is only beginning to do so off it.
''Football is an amazing adventure, but it's also, for me, a way to build a platform to promote a greater message, something that you believe in,'' Duvernay-Tardif said. ''And for me, it's public health. It's trying to do primary prevention with kids and so on.
''So, I hope what I did is also going to follow me and be part of my legacy because I want to use it to try to have a greater impact.''
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (shoulder) has resumed conditioning after tearing the labrum and rotator cuff in his shoulder, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said on the Pat McAfee show that it's possible that Watt returns before the Super Bowl to help the Cardinals on a playoff run. The 32-year-old had what was believed to be season-ending shoulder surgery at the time on Oct. 27, but as long as the Cardinals keep winning deep into the playoffs, Watt could be a pass-rushing factor for them late in the postseason. We've seen the superhuman Watt return from devastating injuries before, so this wouldn't be a huge surprise, but it remains to be seen how effective he'd actually be if this scenario comes to pass.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (illness) missed his second straight practice of the week on Thursday with a non-COVID-19-related illness. A second straight practice has put Scott's status up in the air for the Week 13 game against the New York Jets. And with Jordan Howard (knee) unlikely to return this Sunday, Miles Sanders could have a stranglehold on backfield touches in an excellent matchup if Scott cannot play this weekend. But the 26-year-old still has a chance to get back on the field for practice on Friday, which would put him on track to play. Rookie Kenneth Gainwell would have a much bigger pass-catching role and could be worth a flex play in deeper PPR leagues if Scott and Howard are both inactive.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard (knee) missed another day of practice on Thursday and has yet to practice this week after missing the Week 12 loss to the New York Giants. A multi-week absence was never out of the question when Howard was injured in Week 11, so fantasy managers shouldn't have been expecting to have him available for this Sunday's game against the New York Jets. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott split the workload last Sunday, but Scott has now missed two practices this week with an illness. If both Howard and Scott are inactive in Week 13, Miles Sanders will be a strong RB2 play, while rookie Kenneth Gainwell might be worth a look in a flex spot in deep PPR leagues.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that he doesn't think quarterback Russell Wilson needs more rest but more repetitions. "He's ready to go. He doesn't need to be rested. He's not tired," Carroll said. Wilson underwent surgery to fix a ruptured tendon in his finger and hasn't been the same since his return from Injured Reserve three weeks ago. Wilson did return from the injury quickly, however, which might be the reason for his recent struggles. In his last three games, he has completed just 55.67% of his 97 passing attempts for 615 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while being sacked nine times. Things won't get easier this Sunday against the division-rival San Francisco 49ers, either. San Fran allows the sixth-fewest passing yards per game (207.3), making Wilson a high-end QB2 instead of the surefire QB1 he was earlier in the year before his injury.
New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis (groin) was absent from practice again on Thursday. Davis said on Wednesday that he's feeling better than he did last week, but that hasn't manifested itself yet on the practice field. With Davis missing last week's win over the Houston Texans, he's looking very questionable to play in Week 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles. If he returns, he should be rookie quarterback Zach Wilson's go-to target alongside impressive rookie Elijah Moore. But the longer Davis remains out of practice, the more likely it is that he'll miss his second straight contest. With Keelan Cole on the COVID-19 list, Moore, Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios would be the team's top three receivers if Davis misses another game.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III (hip, shoulder) is 50-50 to play on Sunday night against the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs, according to head coach Vic Fangio. Gordon injured his hip on his first carry of the game in the Week 12 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, but he returned immediately and finished out the game. But the 28-year-old missed practice on Wednesday, won't practice Thursday and is looking iffy to play in Week 13. Gordon is averaging a solid 4.5 yards per carry and has seven total touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving) while sharing touches pretty much down the middle with impressive rookie Javonte Williams through 12 weeks. If Gordon is limited at all or out entirely against KC, Williams would become a must-play in fantasy.
New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin has seen four or more targets in three of his last four games. Sadly, Griffin has only surpassed 30 receiving yards in one of those contests. The good news is, his workload has increased with Tyler Kroft (chest) unavailable. Although, the lack of yardage does make Griffin a tough fantasy option. He should be able to find some success against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. However, Griffin isn't anything more than a deep league option. It's unlikely that he gets heavily involved in the passing attack.
New York Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (oblique, quadriceps) was working on a side field again on Thursday with a trainer and seems doubtful to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. It's Toney's second straight day of missed practice after he was inactive in the Week 12 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The first-round pass-catcher has looked electric with the ball in his hands at times this year, but the problem is the Giants offense as a whole has mostly been beat up this year and has never really hit its stride. Fantasy managers should obviously look to pivot away from Toney this weekend, especially with Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) trending towards playing after a long layoff. In his first nine games, Toney has 35 catches for 392 yards and no touchdowns on 48 targets.
New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios put together a couple surprisingly solid performances to begin the season. However, his fantasy appeal has disappeared since then. In fact, Berrios has three or less targets in every game since Week 3. Last week, Berrios hauled in two receptions for 47 yards in the win over the Houston Texans. He could be involved with Corey Davis (groin) banged up and Keelan Cole Sr. (Covid) sidelined. That being said, Berrios could see more action than normal during the Week 13 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. At the moment, Berrios isn't someone worth starting in almost any formats. Berrios should be more involved, assuming Davis sits out alongside Cole. However, it sounds like Davis should suit up, which means Berrios might only see a handful of targets at best.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) is doing light work at practice on Thursday and has an outside chance to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. Shepard was listed as not practicing on Wednesday, so this represents some progress. But it's also not a ringing endorsement to consider him in fantasy lineups this weekend, since Shepard has been out since suffering his quad injury in Week 8. The 28-year-old was involved heavily in the passing attack in his first five games of the season, but there's a good chance that he'll have his snaps limited if he's back on Sunday against the Dolphins. That'll make him a pretty risky WR4/flex if he's active this weekend.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder is coming off his worst game of the season. Last week, he hauled in his lone target for five yards in the win. To be fair, it's not all his fault with quarterback Zach Wilson only targeting him once. Possibly, the chemistry between the two isn't there yet. That being said, Crowder could have a tough time finding success against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. A defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wideouts this season. Wilson appears to be in line for another start, so Crowder could be looking at another dud. At this point, Crowder is basically a desperation flex option in PPR formats.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (heel, knee) did not practice on Thursday after he was limited on Wednesday. It's unclear yet if the Jaguars were just resting Robinson on Thursday or if he actually had a setback with heel and knee injuries that he's been managing in recent weeks. Regardless, fantasy managers should be on the lookout for an update on his status, but if he misses another practice on Friday, it will likely be Carlos Hyde time on Sunday in the Week 13 meeting with the Los Angeles Rams. If Robinson is active, he'll be on the RB1/2 borderline against Los Angeles, a defense that has allowed just over 100 yards rushing per game to their opponents. Hyde had a season-high 21 carries in Week 9 when Robinson sat out, but he gained just 3.19 yards per carry and has a low fantasy ceiling even with a starter's workload.
New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore has been much more involved in the offense since the Week 6 bye. In fact, Moore has seen six or more targets in each of his last five games. That trend should continue against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. A defense that ranks 23rd in pass DVOA this season. This certainly appears to be a favorable matchup for Moore despite him and quarterback Zach Wilson having little playing time together. That being said, Moore is worth a look as a flex play in most fantasy formats for this Week 13 matchup.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed linebacker Robert Spillane on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. Spillane has played in 10 games for the Steelers this year, with just one start. He's recorded 17 tackles (one for a loss). Offensive lineman Joe Haeg and linebacker T.J. Watt were placed on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. The 25-year-old Spillane has also been dealing with a knee injury, so even if he clears the league's COVID-19 protocols, he may not be available to return in Week 14 next Thursday when Pittsburgh takes on the Minnesota Vikings. If Watt ends up missing this Sunday's game against the division-rival Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers defensive unit in fantasy could struggle.
New York Jets running back Ty Johnson saw only six carries despite Michael Carter (ankle) being out last week. Although, those six carries were actually Johnson's highest total since Week 2. Despite that, Johnson wasn't able to do much with his chances with Tevin Coleman and Austin Walter getting a majority of the carries. It's uncertain if Walter will play during the Week 13 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. His absence could mean more chances for Johnson. Although, there's not a lot of upside for Johnson with Zach Wilson under center. Fantasy managers should consider him a low-end flex option in deep leagues. There's PPR value here with Johnson, but his workload is uncertain.
Miami Dolphins running back Phillip Lindsay (ankle) was not seen at practice on Thursday at the portion open to the media. Lindsay was a limited practice participant on Wednesday, so this would represent a downgrade if he in fact is listed as missing Thursday's session. Friday will be big for the former Houston Texan and Denver Broncos as the Dolphins head into their Week 13 game against the New York Giants. The 27-year-old played 20% of the offensive snaps in his team debut in the Week 12 win over the Carolina Panthers, seeing a season-high 12 carries for 42 yards. That's a good sign for Lindsay, but Myles Gaskin remains Miami's lead back. If Lindsay cannot play this Sunday, Salvon Ahmed, who played 18% of the snaps and had five carries, will see more playing time as Gaskin's backup.
New York Jets running back Tevin Coleman took over the lead back job for last week's matchup against the Houston Texans. He rushed 11 times for 67 yards and hauled in two receptions for three additional yards. It was surprisingly a decent outing from Coleman, but fantasy managers shouldn't get too excited. The Jets offensive line is horrendous and it was tough for Michael Carter (ankle) to have any success when he was healthy. His absence should mean another start for Coleman, but it doesn't guarantee success. The Philadelphia Eagles are ranked 16th in rush DVOA this season. This isn't a favorable matchup, but Coleman does have some deep league flex appeal for this Week 13 matchup. The touches should be there without Carter available, but the results are tough to predict.
Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (concussion) is in the league's concussion protocol and didn't practice for a second straight day on Thursday. McKissic scored the team's only two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the Monday night win over the Seattle Seahawks, but he suffered a head/neck injury late in the game and is now seriously in danger of missing the Week 13 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. Antonio Gibson would be in line for a huge workload against a vulnerable Raiders run defense if McKissic is unable to play, giving him easy RB1 upside. Rookie Jaret Patterson would see a bigger role behind Gibson if McKissic is unable to play, but it's debatable whether he'll have standalone value. Friday's practice will be big for McKissic's weekend status.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) said he feels good and expects to play on Sunday in a plus matchup against the Jets. With Jalen Hurts (ankle) also battling an ankle injury, head coach Nick Sirianni had mentioned that Hurts would likely run less this weekend. That would likely mean more carries for Sanders and Boston Scott, especially with Jordan Howard still banged up and unlikely to play. Given the strong matchup, both Sanders and Scott could be started this weekend, with Sanders being a risky RB2 option with clear upside.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) was able to fully practice on Wednesday. That means, Wilson should be in line to start against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. Last week, Wilson put together a lackluster performance against the below average Houston Texans pass defense. It's unlikely going to get better against the Eagles despite them being ranked 23rd in pass DVOA this season. There should be better streaming options in just about every fantasy format. Wilson is a desperation option, but it's hard to imagine many worse options right now.