-The future for Alshon Jeffery has been a subject tiptoed around all season long in Chicago. When on the field, the receiver is one of the most dynamic in the NFL, and has become the number one target for Jay Cutler. The issue since late in his rookie campaign, however, has been actually keeping Alshon on the field, as injuries to his legs continue to hamper the young receiver. For what it's worth, the injuries haven't seemed to impact Alshon Jeffery's on-field performance, which is why he's still so valuable to so many teams.
At the top of the list, or at least the noisiest team on the list, is the New York Giants, who may be envisioning a triple threat of Jeffery, Odell Beckham Jr., and a returning Victor Cruz. The back page of the New York Post says it all.
Inside the Bears locker room, Alshon's departure is far from an inevitability, but big names have come and gone from Chicago before, and Jay Cutler knows the score.
“I don’t know what direction [the front office] are going to go,” he told reporters on Thursday. “I don’t know what Alshon wants to do. But if that does happen, we’ve got to get Kevin [White] ready. Eddie [Royal] is going to be back, and we’ll see what else we have.”
“You lose guys every year. Some guys you’re able to retain. That’s kind of how it goes. That’s the business side of it. So we’ll deal with that when it happens.”
We don't know any potential contract details yet, but here's the only numbers you should care about: nine games, 54 catches, 807 yards, four touchdowns. Those are Alshon's numbers from this season, and if that's a low point for him, he's going to keep being dang fun to watch, no matter where he ends up.
-Captain Munnerlyn has taken on a huge role within the Minnesota Vikings locker room, and the community in the Twin Cities. From working with the charities to making sure all of the hardest-working guys get some dap, Munnerlyn has been the consummate professional and teammate.
It's only fitting, then, that the Twin Cities chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America announced Munnerlun as the winner of the 2015 Korey Stringer Good Guy Award, named after the beloved Vikings' offensive tackle who tragically died in 2001.
Munnerlyn was as humble as he'd been all season when accepting the award.
“When I got here, y’all took me in with open arms,” Munnerlyn said. You always ask me the tough questions, and I was OK with it. When I had an off year last year, no matter what, y’all still came and talked to me and made me feel wanted.
“This year, I’m playing a whole lot better, thank God, and y’all have really been great to me this year,” he continued. “I want to thank [the media] for voting for me, and I’m truly honored to get this award. I feel like it’s a true blessing, so thank you.”
Of course, he still took the time to make mention of his college rival and upcoming opponent, Randall Cobb. The Packers and Vikings are set to duel for the NFC North title today, and Munnerlyn knows that stopping Cobb will be a huge factor in pursuing victory.
“We’ve got to try to contain this guy with pass rushing, cubing the pocket and making him step up,” Munnerlyn said. “You’ve got to wrap him up. You can’t let him extend plays because that’s when he finds the open guys. In the back end, we’ve got to cover up the guys, cover until you hear the whistle. You can’t go out and think the play is over. That’s when he hits you for a 60 or 70-yard touchdown, so we’ve got to compete at a very high level.”
-D.J. Swearinger has quickly found a comfortable new home in Arizona, playing for one of the league's best defenses (and offenses) in Bruce Arians' Cardinals. Swearinger hasn't begun to forget about the long road to this point, after being waived by both the Texans and the Buccaneers within less than a year.
“It’s been a learning experience going from Houston to Tampa, things going the way they did in Tampa, and then sitting out for two weeks was humbling,” Swearinger told the official Cardinals website. “To be able to have this opportunity, it’s a blessing. It was definitely a learning experience and I’m a better person for it.”
-Despite Jerryd Hayne lingering around the 49ers locker room, Bruce Ellington received a huge vote of confidence from special teams coordinator Thomas McGauhey, and will be the lead punt and kick returner this Sunday. As for Mike Davis, he could be in the mix for today if pulled off of short-term IR, but nothing has been announced yet.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, January 3rd at 1:00pm ET
-Ryan Succop, K, Titans
-Kelcy Quarles, DL, Colts
-Jamon Meredith, OL, Titans
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills, 1:00pm ET
-Antonio Allen, S, Jets (IR)
-Stephon Gilmore, CB, Bills (IR)
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00pm ET
-Patrick DiMarco, FB, Falcons
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00pm ET
-T.J. Johnson, C, Bengals
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, 1:00pm ET
-Jasper Brinkley, LB, Giants
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1:00pm ET
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears, Sunday, 1:00pm ET
-Devin Taylor, DE, Lions
-Corey Robinson, OL, Lions
-Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys, 1:00pm ET
-Chris Culliver, CB, Redskins (IR)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns, 1:00pm ET
-Clifton Geathers, DT, Steelers (IR)
-Connor Shaw, QB, Browns (IR)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans, 1:00pm ET
-A.J. Cann, G, Jaguars
-Jadeveon Clowney, DE/LB, Texans (Doubtful)
-Johnathan Joseph, CB, Texans
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos, 4:25pm ET
-Melvin Ingram, LB/DE, Chargers
-Darian Stewart, S, Broncos
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25pm ET
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25pm ET
-Jared Cook Jr, TE, Rams
-Justice Cunningham, TE/FB, Rams
-Mike Davis, RB, 49ers
-Bruce Ellington, WR/KR, 49ers
-Busta Anderson, TE, 49ers
-Dylan Thompson, QB, 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers, 4:25pm ET
-Damiere Byrd, WR, Panthers (Practice Squad)
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25pm ET
-Lemuel Jeanpierre, C, Seahawks
-D.J. Swearinger, S, Cardinals
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers, 8:30pm ET