San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance will miss a week after suffering a small fracture in his finger, head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday.

Though incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo has been the presumed starter throughout camp, Shanahan showed in Sunday's pre-season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders that he plans to use both of his QBs over the course of a game. 

In revealing that Lance was injured after hitting his throwing hand on another player's helmet, Shanahan did not sound concerned about how it would affect the big picture. 

"It wasn't bothering him much, because he just thought it was jammed on a helmet," Shanahan told reporters. "And then when you get all the images on it – when they showed it to me, it's a microchip of a bone that's off.

"He chipped it, which is a small chip fracture, which is worse than a jam. That's why it's not going to just heal on its own. He can't take snaps and do all that stuff right now.

"We're just going to rest it for seven days, they say, and that should make it heal and hopefully it'll be good next Monday when we get into practice."

Garoppolo and Lance rotated quarterback duties on the first two drives of the 34-10 win over the Raiders, with the veteran starting but Lance coming in after three plays for a change of pace. 

Lance completed six of 13 passes for 46 yards, while Garoppolo was four-of-seven passing for 64 yards. 

Neither quarterback had a touchdown pass or an interception, but each ran for a TD in the final tune-up as they previewed an unorthodox look that could give defences trouble. 

"I just wanted to get live action with it," Shanahan said of using both QBs on a single drive. "We've done it in practice a couple of times and this was the last time before we're going to get in the regular season. So it's the last time you can have the opportunity to do it. I kind of wanted to do it with this game."

The 49ers open the season at the Detroit Lions on September 12.

The Miami Dolphins have long been tipped as a potential landing spot for Deshaun Watson, but head coach Brian Flores seemingly called into question the viability of a deal for the Houston Texans quarterback after insisting he wants "high character" people around the team.  

Watson is the subject of investigations by Houston police and the NFL and faces 22 civil lawsuits after a series of women accused him of assault or sexual misconduct. Watson has strenuously denied the accusations, and no charges have been filed against him.

The 25-year-old QB made it clear following last season that he wanted out of Houston, but the emergence of the allegations against him beginning in March threw his future into doubt mere months after he signed a four-year, $156million contract extension. 

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Flores did not directly address speculation about Watson, but he was asked about acquiring players who might bring off-the-field concerns. 

"There are a lot of things we weigh when we're making decisions – fit on the team, overall talent, salary cap," Flores said. "When we're talking about a player or players, we're always trying to do what is best for the Miami Dolphins.

"There are a lot of variables. We want a group that is tough, smart, competitive, loves to play and is team-first. Those are the types of guys we're looking for.

"We have a high standard for the people we have in the organisation. We want people with high character throughout the building."

Watson has mostly practiced on his own throughout Texans camp and has not appeared in any preseason games, but Tuesday's NFL deadline to reduce rosters from 80 to 53 players could spur action. 

That could mean allowing him to keep a precious roster spot and pay him his $10.5m salary even while he remains on the sidelines in hopes his legal issues are resolved, or Houston could trade him and let another team figure it out.

The Texans reportedly have sought a package that includes three first-round picks in any deal for Watson but are seen as unlikely to net a huge return given the questions surrounding his status. 

Watson is coming off a dominant season for a team that finished 4-12, as he led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards while compiling a career-best 70.2 completion percentage and 33 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. 

He also ran for 444 yards and three more touchdowns as he made the Pro Bowl for the third successive season. 

Topping 4,000 yards for the second time in his career as he racked up 4,823 to lead the league, Watson threw for 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

Fifth in the NFL in air yards per attempt (9.27), according to Stats Perform data, Watson did an excellent job of balancing his aggressiveness with smart decision-making.

Indeed, he threw a pickable pass on just 2.28 per cent of his attempts, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.

Considering the opener against the New England Patriots looms less than two weeks away, Tua Tagovailoa figures to begin the season as Miami's starting quarterback regardless of any other moves the Dolphins might make. 

Flores is trying to keep his team's focus on the task at hand in the meantime. 

"There are always rumours, there's always speculation, there's always some form of distraction," he said. "As a team we've got to block that stuff out and play."

The New Orleans Saints do not know where they will open the NFL regular season, but they are doing all they can to stay focused after Hurricane Ida ravaged the city on Sunday. 

Ida made landfall on the Louisiana coast as a powerful Category 4 storm, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. 

The entire city of New Orleans lost power on Sunday but Gayle Benson, who owns the Saints and the NBA's Pelicans, said in a statement Monday that her teams' facilities suffered only superficial damage.

The Saints relocated operations to the Dallas area over the weekend at the invitation of the Cowboys, and head coach Sean Payton said they will remain there at least through Wednesday. 

They are scheduled to host the Green Bay Packers in the regular-season opener on September 12, but Payton told reporters all options are on the table if playing at home is not feasible. 

"Obviously we’ll have a plan B," he said. "And, you know, there are a lot of other things probably from a priority standpoint that are more important for our city.

"But that all being said, we fully anticipate starting the regular season with Green Bay and then the question would be where that game's at."

Speaking to reporters before practice on Monday, Payton noted his team's concern over their homes and belongings left behind. 

"Left behind are obviously apartments, condominiums, homes. Those are all physical things. Nonetheless, they're still home for so many people," Payton said. "I think to some degree that going out and being able to practice today is going to be good for everyone, because from afar, there’s only so much you can do."

The Saints cancelled their final pre-season game, which was to be played at the Superdome against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.

NFL rules mandate teams give players this weekend off from practice, and Payton indicated he did not expect the Saints to be back at their home facility when work resumes next Monday. 

Benson said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has accepted the Saints' offer to use their facilities and will stage assistance efforts out of the NFL and NBA teams' practice facility in suburban Metairie. 

Benson also said she will donate $1million to a relief fund that will help the region recover from the storm. 

"Our team is safe and focussed on preparing for, and winning, the first regular game against the Green Bay Packers," Benson said. "We look forward to returning to New Orleans to continue those preparations as soon as our government leaders say it is safe to do so.

"Fortunately, the Caesars Superdome received only minor damage and will be prepared to host games as soon as the city's infrastructure will allow."

Carson Wentz is one of three players to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced on Monday.

Quarterback Wentz had only returned to practice last week following surgery to deal with a broken bone in his left foot, an injury that initially seemed set to rule him out for the start of the new NFL season.

"I'm optimistic, but we'll see how it responds," Wentz said after his first appearance on the practice field since July 29, having undergone the procedure on August 2.

"It's going to be up to the doctors, for sure. At the end of the day, as long as there's nothing that I can do to injure myself and make it worse, I know I've played through a lot worse. But it's going to come down to what the doctors say."

The former Philadelphia Eagles signal-caller was due to begin full-team reps as he stepped up his recovery, with the Colts aiming to get a better indication over his health ahead of Week 1 of the regular season, but that plan has now been scuppered.

When exactly Wentz will be available again, along with center Ryan Kelly and wide receiver Zach Pascal, who are the others to be placed on the list, is unclear.

Those players or members of staff who have been vaccinated can return after two negative test results 24 hours apart from each other, per NFL's health and safety protocols.

However, if someone from an NFL team tests positive having not received the vaccine, they will have to serve a 10-day isolation period. Anyone unvaccinated deemed to be a high-risk close contact must isolate for five days, as well as continue to return negative test results.

The Colts start the new season with a home game against the Seattle Seahawks on September 12.

Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith agreed to a four-year contract extension, the NFL franchise announced.

Smith – preparing for his 10th season in Minnesota – reportedly signed a new deal worth $64million, which is understood to be the highest for a safety in NFL history.

The five-time Pro Bowler is the Vikings' longest-tenured player but has become one of their most consistent and reliable members, having not missed a game since 2016.

Smith tied a career-high for interceptions (five) last season, along with 89 tackles and five quarterback hits.

The 32-year-old is Minnesota's franchise leader with four interception returns for touchdowns, and his 28 interceptions rank seventh all-time and third among Minnesota safeties in team history.

Minnesota finished with a 7-9 record in 2020, missing the postseason.

The Vikings will open their 2021 season against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 12.

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich is optimistic T.Y. Hilton's neck injury is not season ending but admitted he will miss NFL games.

Hilton – a four-time Pro Bowler – re-aggravated the neck issue during Wednesday's final training camp ahead of their NFL season opener against the Seattle Seahawks on September 12.

Reich said the wide receiver would undergo further evaluation on the issue with a timeline to be confirmed after those results are received but admitted the 31-year-old will miss the season start.

"He will miss some games, we don't know exactly how many," Reich told reporters on Sunday. "We're optimistic it's not season ending. We don't know exactly how many games."

He added: "He was experiencing some discomfort during the trip to Detroit. So we took scans, it was a disc issue, so that's a complicated issue. More meetings, more evaluation to come, more opinions to come.

"Obviously want to do our due diligence there. We got all the right people on it. We'll just continue to meet with the doctors, work with their cue and move forward accordingly."

Hilton played 15 games for the Colts last season, with 762 receiving yards from 56 receptions and five touchdowns.

"When you're talking about a guy like T.Y. Hilton, him missing games, that's an obvious big blow because he's not only a great player but he's a great leader," Reich said.

"But it's just unfortunate — I had said several times to Chris [Ballard, Colts general manager], I really thought T.Y. was looking as good this training camp as I've seen him.

"He looked as fast as ever and as instinctive as ever. Even in the short time that he and [quarterback] Carson [Wentz] worked together, I could tell — instant connection. And I could feel that talking to Carson. So that's unfortunate. But the good news is we got good depth and the guys will step up."

The Philadelphia Eagles traded for Gardner Minshew II, acquiring the quarterback from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.

Minshew joins the Eagles as their third quarterback behind starter Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco after Philadelphia sent a conditional 2022 sixth-round draft pick to Jacksonville.

In a corresponding move, the Eagles released Nick Mullens as they usher in the post-Carson Wentz era following the Super Bowl winner's trade to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Minshew trade comes after Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer named number one draft selection Trevor Lawrence as the team's starting QB ahead of their season opener against the Houston Texans on September 12.

Minshew – a sixth-round pick in 2019 – has started 20 of 23 career games and completed 501 of 797 passes (62.9 per cent) for 5,530 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions for a passer rating of 93.1.

The 25-year-old's career passer rating of 93.1 is the highest in Jaguars history (minimum 100 attempts), while his 21 passing TDs and 3,271 passing yards in 2019 were both the most by a rookie in franchise history.

Minshew became the first rookie in NFL history with at least 230 yards passing per game, 20-plus TDs, and fewer than 10 interceptions.

The Eagles open their NFL season against the Atlanta Falcons on September 12.

The New Orleans Saints have reportedly decided on their starting quarterback, with head coach Sean Payton going with the reclamation project over the relative unknown.

According to multiple reports, Jameis Winston will be the Saints' starter under center when they face the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 on September 12.

Winston has won the job over Taysom Hill, who started four games at quarterback last season when Drew Brees was out injured.

But it is Winston who has the unenviable task of succeeding future Hall of Famer Brees, who ended his career last season as the all-time leader in passing yards with 80,358.

Winston is the owner of an unwanted record following his last season as a starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019.

He undoubtedly offers more upside than a 42-year-old Brees would have, but Payton's challenge in turning Winston's career around is a sizeable one.

30 for 30

Winston ended his Buccaneers career in 2019 with a season that epitomised his maddening inconsistency.

He led the league in passing yards with 5,109 but became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. 

The former number one overall pick tossed 33 scores, but his final throw for the Bucs was his 30th interception that was returned for a touchdown. His seven picks returned for touchdowns set an NFL record.

It could have been substantially worse for Winston. Per Stats Perform data, he ended the 2019 season with 46 pickable passes, with his interceptable pass percentage of 7.69 the highest of any quarterback with at least 100 attempts.

Winston's well-thrown percentage of 70.2 was fourth-worst in the NFL. By contrast, Brees produced an accurate, well-thrown ball on 84.6% of his passes in 2019, the highest rate in the NFL.

Payton will obviously hope to minimize Winston's penchant for turnovers and make the most of his abilities as a downfield thrower. He was second in air yards per attempt (10.70) in his final year for Tampa Bay. Brees' average of 6.83 that year was the fifth-worst in the league and he declined to 6.41 per attempt last season.

Winston led the league with 1,158 passing yards on 94 attempts of 21 or more air yards in 2019 and, while his average of 12.32 passing yards on those attempts was only eighth among quarterbacks with 50 such throws, he is a signal-caller who can raise the ceiling in a manner beyond the Brees of 2020 or backup Hill.

Hill's unconvincing audition

Hill went 3-1 in his four games in relief of Brees last year, though one of those victories came against a Denver Broncos team fielding wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback following a coronavirus outbreak.

And there was little in his audition last year to convince he is worthy of a promotion from backup and utility player to starting quarterback.

Indeed, Hill threw a pickable pass on 5.93 of his 118 attempts, the eighth-highest rate in the NFL, and delivered a well-thrown ball just 72.9% of the time (fifth-worst).

He did so while averaging only 7.1 air yards per attempt. Only nine quarterbacks in the league averaged fewer in 2020.

Payton will have made his decision based on Winston and Hill's respective performances in training camp and preseason. However, Hill's play last season showed he lacks the accuracy of Brees and brings no added upside as a downfield thrower.

The path to the playoffs will be more difficult for a Saints team that has lost several key players on both sides of the ball in the offseason.

But Payton has decided their best route is with Winston as the starter and Hill reprising his role as a part-time quarterback whose athleticism can help him make an impact lined up in the backfield and as a receiver.

Whether Payton is vindicated remains to be seen, but all the numbers suggest his bet on Winston over Hill is the right call.

Saturday's scheduled NFL pre-season game between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals has been cancelled as Hurricane Ida churns into the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Saints announced Friday afternoon they had called off the game at the request of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

They had previously moved the game up from a scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday to noon local time in an attempt to get it in ahead of the storm. 

"Due to the intensification of the hurricane throughout the day and after the most recent tropical update, the team's leadership has made the decision in the best interests of all personnel that may have been directly and indirectly affected by the storm," the Saints said.

The Cardinals were en route to New Orleans when the game was cancelled, and online flight-tracking services showed the team plane turned around over Texas to head back to Phoenix. 

The team confirmed on social media they were returning home, adding: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those preparing for Hurricane Ida."

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) update on the storm shortly after the cancellation was announced projected Ida would make landfall on the Louisiana coast as a major hurricane – meaning it would have sustained winds exceeding 110 miles per hour – by Sunday afternoon. 

"Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Louisiana," the NHC said. "Hurricane-force winds are expected Sunday in portions of the hurricane warning area along the Louisiana coast, including metropolitan New Orleans, with potentially catastrophic wind damage possible where the core of Ida moves onshore. Actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the warning area."

The cancellation was announced while Edwards was in the middle of a news conference encouraging Louisiana residents to take the storm seriously. 

"I did not believe it was appropriate for an NFL pre-season game to take place on Saturday afternoon," he said. 

Sunday is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastating landfall in Louisiana. 

The Saints will open the regular season at home against the Green Bay Packers on September 12, with the Cardinals travelling to the Tennessee Titans for their opener that day.

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley stepped up his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) after taking his first full-team reps since the injury.

Barkley has been sidelined since sustaining the ACL injury in the Week 2 defeat to the Chicago Bears in the NFL last year.

The 2018 Pro Bowler has been progressing slowly as the Giants prepare for their Week 1 opener against the Denver Broncos on September 12.

Following Thursday's live drills in joint practice with the New England Patriots, Barkley said: "I feel really good right now.

"It feels good being with the team, feels good to get a couple of team reps. It's just fun to be able to play football again, feel like a little kid and just taking it day by day."

The second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft had established himself as one of the league's elite dual-threat running backs prior to that setback.

In his rookie season, Barkley ranked second for carries (261) and rushing yards (1,307) and was also second for catches among players at his position (91).

That amounted to 15 total touchdowns, trailing only Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara for running backs.

Year two was slightly slower but Barkley still became the first Giant to pass 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons and was looking forward to a big 2020 when he went down against the Bears.

"I definitely want to get hit again," Barkley said. "To me, it's not just the hitting, it's just playing football. Even though I only took two reps and a couple of reps in seven-on-seven, those reps are so valuable right now and going to help me in the long run.

"That's the next thing, to be completely honest. It's just taking it one day at a time. But we're at the point where I'm allowed to start taking team reps and those steps are going to happen naturally, especially throughout a couple more weeks coming up.

"You know me, as a player I want to go out there and make plays and especially in those situations when it's two minute and it's our team versus their team. Those things are going to come naturally, and I've just got continue to be patient and when I have the opportunities, take advantage of them."

Teddy Bridgewater will start at quarterback for the Denver Broncos this season, the team confirmed on Wednesday.

Bridgewater joined the Broncos this offseason in a trade from the Carolina Panthers, who moved for Sam Darnold.

The new Denver signing has been battling with Drew Lock in preseason but has won the starting job and will now hope to give the team some stability at the position.

The Broncos have had nine different starting QBs since the start of the 2016 season after Peyton Manning retired.

Manning left the team a champion after their Super Bowl 50 success, but they have not been back to the playoffs since and have only recorded one winning season. They have a 32-48 record in this time.

Although Case Keenum started every game in the 2018 season, the Broncos have not otherwise had a QB start more than 11 games in succession post-Manning.

Lock has largely held down the role since midway through his rookie 2019 campaign, yet a return of 3,953 yards, with a 59.1 completion percentage, 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions from 18 games encouraged Denver to give Bridgewater an opportunity.

At Carolina last year, Bridgewater threw for 15 TDs and 11 picks but completed a more impressive 69.1 per cent of his passes.

Trevor Lawrence will begin the 2021 NFL season as the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, coach Urban Meyer has confirmed.

The number one overall pick had been widely expected to come straight into the team since he was selected, and that decision was made official on Wednesday.

Lawrence can now prepare for Week 1 and the Houston Texans, who are expected to be one of the worst teams in the league this year.

That September 12 meeting should therefore give Lawrence the opportunity to display his outstanding talent.

The Jaguars will hope the transition is as seamless as it was for Lawrence at college, where he threw for 3,280 yards, 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his freshman year at Clemson.

He tossed for 90 scores across 40 games in his three-year college career and was well established as the leading prospect in a strong QB class.

Lawrence led all Power 5 passers in well-thrown percentage in 2020, delivering a well-thrown, accurate ball on 84.31 per cent of his passes. The average was 75.37 per cent.

The 21-year-old, under first-time NFL coach Meyer, will hope to lead improvement in Jacksonville after a miserable 1-15 record last time out, the Jags' third consecutive year without playoff football.

They and Lawrence have been dealt a blow this week, however, as his Clemson team-mate and fellow first-round pick Travis Etienne suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury.

Across four college seasons, including three with Lawrence, the dual-threat running back racked up 1,115 receiving yards, ranking third in the FBS.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will not have the services of one of their two 2021 first-round picks this season, with running back Travis Etienne placed on injured reserve due to a foot injury.

It was reported on Tuesday that Etienne had suffered a Lisfranc injury that would require surgery during the Jaguars' preseason game with the New Orleans Saints on Monday.

The Jaguars subsequently ended his rookie year before it began by placing Etienne on IR. Only players on the 53-man roster as of next Tuesday are eligible for short-term injured reserve, from which they can be activated if they recover from their injury during the season.

It means the Jaguars will be without a player they selected with the 25th overall pick in this year's first round and one who, alongside Jacksonville's first overall pick Trevor Lawrence, was one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in college football during his time at Clemson.

While the Jaguars, who went 1-15 last year, are considered a long way from contention, the loss of Etienne robs them of a player capable of making a significant impact on the ground and as a receiver.

A true dual threat

Across his four seasons with Clemson from 2017 to 2020, Etienne racked up 6,107 yards from scrimmage – second among all FBS running backs in that span – and 78 touchdowns, which led all FBS players at his position.

He also led FBS running backs with an average of 7.8 scrimmage yards per touch in that timeframe, with 4,952 of his yards (second in FBS since 2017) and 70 touchdowns (first) coming on the ground.

Etienne's 1,115 receiving yards in that four-year span were third in the FBS, and Stats Perform's advanced metrics reflect his efficiency as a runner and a pass-catcher.

An explosive runner whose burst allows him to get to the second level of the defense in a hurry, Etienne averaged 5.26 yards before first contact by a defender per attempt in 2019, putting him fifth among Power 5 backs with at least 100 snaps.

That dipped to 3.16 in 2020, but he still excelled as a receiver. Etienne registered a burn, which is when a pass-catcher wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the pass is catchable, on 72.4 per cent of his targets.

He averaged 11.88 burn yards per target, second for Power 5 backs with 100 snaps and 25 targets, reflecting his proficiency for evading the coverage of defenders and making big plays in the passing game.

Yet the presence of a rookie standout from 2020 should help mitigate the impact of Etienne's absence.

Robinson ready to carry the burden

James Robinson was the lone bright spot of the Jaguars' dismal 2020 campaign, the undrafted free agent's emergence as a rookie leading some to question the wisdom of selecting Etienne.

Robinson was tied-fifth in the NFL in rushing yards last season with 1,070, while he also found the endzone seven times on the ground.

A different type of runner to Etienne, Robinson's strength is in surviving tackle attempts from defenders.

Indeed, his average of 2.34 yards after first contact per attempt ranked sixth in the NFL last season.

Where he is inferior to Etienne is in the passing game. Robinson registered a burn on only 39 per cent of his targets as a rookie, well below the average of 47.6 per cent for running backs.

Still, what Robinson demonstrated in his first year in the league suggests the Jaguars' running game should still cause defenses problems, though perhaps not as much as it would with Etienne available to complement his team-mate's more bruising style.

For Lawrence, Etienne's injury removes a reliable option who could have made his life significantly easier in the passing game. He and Etienne share an obvious rapport from their time together in college but there is now more of an onus on Lawrence to develop the same kind of connection with his cast of wide receivers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady said he will continue playing for as long as he can win Super Bowls.

Brady – who is the most successful player in NFL history with seven Super Bowl rings – is preparing for his 22nd season at the age of 44.

The veteran quarterback led the Buccaneers to glory last season before undergoing knee surgery, having earned Super Bowl MVP honours and a contract extension in Tampa.

Tampa Bay open their season against the Dallas Cowboys on September 9 and Brady has no plans to retire just yet.

"I'll know when the time's right. If I can't … if I'm not a championship-level quarterback, then I'm not gonna play," Brady told Peter King's Football Morning in America.

"If I'm a liability to the team, I mean, no way. But if I think I can win a championship, then I'll play."

Brady added: "I love playing football. [Offensive coordinator] Byron Leftwich said something really good the other day: It's a very simple game that's so hard to execute.

"It's a totally imperfect game that you're trying to do as perfectly as possible. Every day I come out trying to do it. I'm hoping this is my best year."

Brady – in his first season with the Buccaneers after 20 successful years at the New England Patriots – claimed his seventh Lombardi Trophy as Tampa Bay became the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl at their home stadium, ending the Kansas City Chiefs' hopes of retaining the title in a 31-9 rout.

He threw for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, his passer rating of 102.2 his highest since his MVP season of 2017 (102.8).

Only Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes had more completions of 20 yards or more than Brady's 63 as he experienced a revival as a downfield passer in Tampa.

In the playoffs, he helped the Bucs come through a gauntlet, winning three games on the road to get to the Super Bowl.

By defeating Mahomes and the Chiefs, the Bucs became the first team to win three games against former Super Bowl MVPs in the same postseason having also seen off Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The Minnesota Vikings have signed pass rusher Everson Griffen, bringing him back for a second spell to bolster Mike Zimmer's defense.

Griffen was drafted as a fourth-round pick by the Vikings in 2010 and the defensive end went on to rack up 74.5 sacks in 10 seasons for Minnesota.

That number puts him fourth on the all-time list for the Vikings, though sacks as a stat have only been counted since 1982. Including players who began their careers before that season, Griffen ranks seventh.

He had six last season playing for the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions but is back with the Vikings to try to help Minnesota turn around their defensive fortunes after a disappointing 2020.

Minnesota allowed 6.07 yards per play last season, ranking 27th in the NFL, while the Vikings registered 19 sacks for negative yardage. Only two teams – the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals – posted fewer.

They will hope the return of Griffen, along with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, will help dramatically increase that number. The Vikings will also be able to call on Danielle Hunter again after he missed the entire 2020 season through injury.

Hunter ranked ninth among edge rushers with a pressure rate of 26.4 per cent in 2019. Griffen's 21.7 per cent was still above the average of 18.2 for players with at least 200 edge snaps.

Richardson's pressure rate of 14.4 for the Cleveland Browns last season was more decidedly more mediocre but still above the average of 13.2 for the defensive tackle position.

The Vikings could see instant dividends on the return of that trio in their season opener on September 12, which sees them face a Cincinnati Bengals offensive line that gave up 45 sacks for negative yards last year, tied for fourth-most in the NFL.

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