Every week throughout the season, we’ll be bringing you the latest NFL news and rumors here in the PFN Insider Notebook. Today, we provide the latest updates on wide receivers Michael Gallup and Jerry Jeudy, George Kittle’s path to returning, and the latest on Rondale Moore and when he is expected to return.
NFL news and notes notebook: Michael Gallup trending in the right direction
Gallup is on track to return as soon as Monday night against the New York Giants, according to a league source. He’s working hard to make his season debut this week after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last season. After missing the first two games of the season, Gallup has participated fully in practice with no restrictions.
Because Gallup initially waited a bit longer to have his knee repaired last year, it allowed the muscles around the knee to strengthen, and that patience paid dividends with a speedy and complete recovery.
“Everything is being determined by how he feels,” a league source said. “He’s had a great rehab and it’s going in the right direction. He had a good surgery and he’s worked very hard at his rehab.”
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Gallup is ready to play physically, and he’ll simply have to adapt to game speed again.
“I hope he plays,” McCarthy said.
The Cowboys aren’t worried at all about Gallup’s long-term health. It’s simply a matter of timing and feel about putting him back on the field. Should he play this week, it’s expected to not be a full-time workload as he works his way back in. Should Gallup not play this week, it certainly will next week, but league sources expect the Cowboys to play him against the Giants.
Gallup caught 35 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns on 62 targets across nine games before he got hurt last season. Over the last two years, he’s had 94 catches, 1,288 yards, and seven touchdowns.
Gallup was signed to a five-year, $57.5 million contract with a maximum value of $62.5 million that includes a $10 million signing bonus and $27 million guaranteed.
Jerry Jeudy getting better fast
Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy injured his ribs against the Houston Texans, leaving the game. Fortunately, Jeudy avoided a serious injury, and he’s already back in full pads working on the side while listed as not practicing the past two days.
It’s a strained ligament and sprained sternum with no fracture of the rib area, per a source.
“There’s a shot Jerry plays this week,” a source said of Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. “The injury could have been a lot worse. He’s improving.”
The qualifier: If Jeudy doesn’t participate at all this week in team drills, it’s regarded as less likely he’s out on the field one week after getting hurt.
George Kittle on path to return
San Francisco 49ers star tight end George Kittle’s serious groin injury has improved to the point where he’s on track to make his return this week, according to a league source. Kittle has practiced for two consecutive days with no setbacks, an encouraging sign after missing the first two games of the season with a Grade 2 groin strain.
The 49ers have been leaning on tight ends Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner, and Tyler Kroft. Kroft, however, has a sprained medial collateral ligament and is out for the next few weeks.
The 49ers play the Denver Broncos on the road in the third game of the season followed by a Monday night game against the Los Angeles Rams.
One of the top tight ends in the game, Kittle missed three games last season due to a calf injury but still caught 71 passes for 910 yards and six touchdowns. The three-time Pro Bowler has previously injured his foot, knee, and hamstring.
Signed to a five-year, $75 million contract as the highest-paid tight end in the NFL, Kittle caught seven passes for 108 yards in last year’s postseason, including a touchdown in the NFC Championship. For his career, Kittle has 335 catches for 4,489 yards for 20 touchdowns.
Kittle became the first tight end to lead the NFL in yards after the catch with 870 yards. He owns the record for the most receiving yards in his first three seasons by a tight end with 2,945. Kittle also holds franchise records for most receiving yards in a game by a tight end, most catches by a tight end in a season, and was the first tight end in 49ers history to exceed 1,000 receiving yards.
Rondale Moore iffy, Andy Isabella good to go
Since Moore got hurt in practice, the hamstring injury he sustained running a route has prevented him from practicing. A league source described the hamstring pull at the time of the injury as serious enough he could be sidelined for multiple weeks.
Moore has yet to practice this week and is regarded as day-to-day by coach Kliff Kingsbury. Meanwhile, a source said that Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella is feeling a lot better after missing a game with a back injury sustained in the weight room and is expected to play this week.
The Cardinals are already without DeAndre Hopkins, who continues to serve his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. They’ve been leaning on Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Greg Dortch, and tight end Zach Ertz in the meantime.
Dortch has stepped up, leading the team with 11 catches for 118 yards on 13 targets. He has one touchdown while Brown has 10 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets. Ertz has 10 catches for 89 yards and one score on 10 targets. A.J. Green, meanwhile, has been utilized sparingly with five catches for 29 yards on 11 targets.
Former NFL scout bullish on Kentucky quarterback Will Levis
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis is regarded as a rapidly ascending draft prospect. Since his time as a backup at Penn State, Levis has emerged as an intriguing passer who piled up 3,188 total yards and 33 touchdowns last year.
Now, he’s considered a potential first-round draft pick. He just outplayed University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson in a 26-16 victory, completing 13 of 24 passes for 202 yards, one touchdown, and an interception, to become the first Kentucky quarterback to beat the Gators twice since Derrick Ramsey in the 1970s.
Levis had five touchdowns last season against LSU in a breakout performance. This year, he has eight total touchdowns so far.
Former Atlanta Falcons pro and area scout Rodrik David, who now owns and operates an advisory football business called Right Step Advising (www.rsafootball.com), discussed Levis with Pro Football Network.
As good as Levis is currently and can be, there’s still room for improvement from the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Connecticut native. He has completed 67% of his throws this season, and also has four interceptions. Last year, he had 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
“He has got a huge arm,” David said. “Throwing the football is really easy for him. The biggest thing out of watching his film is that he can make every throw. He’s got big-time arm talent. His accuracy needs improvement. He’s not seeing the whole field particularly well right now. There’s a lot of half-field reads. He’s struggling to get past that half-field read even when well-protected a couple of times. In the Florida game, he never got back to some of those reads. He’s got more arm talent than anybody in last year’s class.
“He has some Trevor Lawrence type of qualities going for him. If he basically goes through the year the way he is right now, he’s an early second-round pick because of the talent that’s there. I wouldn’t feel good good drafting him super high, but he’s an intelligent kid. There are steps to where he’ll see the full field, but he hasn’t shown it yet.”
Evaluating Anthony Richardson
Richardson is a complicated evaluation. He’s a physically gifted 6-foot-4, 231-pounder who needs to continue polishing his overall game. He has completed 53.2% of his throws this season for 423 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. Richardson’s played much better when running the football, with three touchdowns and an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
“He’s a talented guy, but he’s probably further away from getting where he needs to than Will Levis is,” David said. “He’s had some highlight plays. He’s a very good athlete. He needs reps. He has a long way to go, but he has tools.”
Aidan Hutchinson off to ‘impressive start’
Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson set a franchise rookie record with three sacks in a win over the Washington Commanders, relentlessly pressuring quarterback Carson Wentz.
The second overall pick of the NFL draft and former Michigan star has been as advertised. He had two tackles for losses against the Commanders and actually missed a few potential sacks.
At 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, Hutchinson combines size, athleticism, technique, and toughness. He’s an early NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. He has three quarterback hits and has played 85% of the defensive snaps.
“I was surprised when Jacksonville went with Trayvon Walker as the top overall pick, not from an on-field ability standpoint, but to go with Trayvon over Aidan surprised me because Aidan is a rare culture guy that I thought Jacksonville needed,” David said. “Trayvon is really good, but Aidan brings as much on the field as he does off the field. He knows how to play. It’s been impressive.
“He’s tough. He’s physical. He can get off the ball. Aidan is understanding the game already. He knows when to stay wide. It’s about having a plan in pass rush situations. He’s attacking the weaknesses of tackles. He looks like a fifth-year or sixth-year vet. Aidan seems to be an incredibly bright kid who has the blood lines.”
Ravens rookie Kyle Hamilton ‘only going to get better’
A towering safety at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Baltimore Ravens rookie first-round draft pick Kyle Hamilton is experiencing some growing pains while learning on the job. He was out of position on a touchdown by wide receiver Tyreek Hill during the Miami Dolphins’ epic comeback victory and Ravens’ fourth-quarter collapse last week.
Hamilton is a long athlete who has a lot of upside, though.
“He’s been good, he’s been solid,” David said of Hamilton, who has seven tackles and one pass defensed. “Let’s continue to see where he goes because he can do so much. Kyle is only going to get better in that Baltimore defense. It’s so versatile. They do so much.”