Former XFL QBs Walker, Heinicke take center stage amid attrition at the position in NFL week eight

Donald Parham, Los Angeles Chargers
Donald Parham, Los Angeles Chargers


Another week with just one player tryout. On Tuesday, the Indianapolis Colts worked out DT Bruce Hector (Renegades). Hector had a productive preseason with the New York Jets. The Colts opted to sign another DT that worked out for them Tuesday, Ross Blacklock, instead of Hector.


After impressing in his second outing for the Atlanta Falcons last week, DT LaCale London (Battlehawks) was rewarded with a promotion to the active roster. DT Eli Ankou was released in a corresponding move. Elsewhere on Tuesday, RB Jacques Patrick (Brahmas) was released from the practice squad of the Tennessee Titans in favor of RB Jonathan Ward, who was also a practice squad elevation this week. Patrick lasted about a month-and-a-half with Tennessee.

On Wednesday, WR Michael Bandy (Roughnecks) re-signed to the practice squad of the Denver Broncos. Expect him to continue to be bandied on and off the practice squad for the foreseeable future in moves that seem to be tied to fellow WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s own roster dance. That same day, QB PJ Walker (Roughnecks) was signed to active roster of the Cleveland Browns from their practice squad, a necessity for him to start on Sunday as he had already been elevated the allotted three times this season.

The final move made Wednesday involving XFL players was DT Austin Faoliu (Sea Dragons) being designated to return by the Seattle Seahawks. Faoliu is currently on the team’s reserve/PUP list, and by opening his practice window, they now have 21 days to activate him or he’ll be ineligible to play the rest of the season.

Week 8 Action

*The Baltimore Ravens declared QB Josh Johnson (Wildcats) inactive once again as their emergency third quarterback.

*There was some confusion on Sunday when QB Desmond Ridder departed the game against the Tennessee Titans not long after committing his fourth fumble in the last two games. QB Taylor Heinicke (Battlehawks) took the field for the first time this regular season in replacing Ridder. However, Head Coach Arthur Smith noted that Ridder was being checked for a concussion, and while he was cleared, they held him out the rest of the game as a precaution.

Heinicke began the second half and led the Falcons to 20 points in the final two quarters, though it was not enough, as the Titans held on for a 28-23 victory. Heinicke finished 12-of-21 passing for 175 yards and a touchdown for a healthy 8.3 yards per attempt. He also rushed twice for 14 yards, providing the kind of spark expected of a backup QB. Smith noted on Monday that he will name a week nine starting quarterback on Wednesday.

*Playing exclusively on special teams, OT Storm Norton (Wildcats) participated via five snaps for the Falcons.

*Early in the third quarter, Falcons DT LaCale London (Battlehawks) exited the game with a knee injury. He later returned. Though he played 60% of the defensive snaps, London didn’t post any stats. His playing time likely increased due to a season-ending injury suffered by DT Grady Jarrett early in the game. The Falcons are expected to acquire DT Kentavius Street from the Philadelphia Eagles prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline in order to fill Jarrett’s role.

*Three of four punts by P Daniel Whelan (Defenders) on Sunday traveled in excess of 50 yards, showing the kind of leg that put him on NFL radars following the 2023 XFL season. He averaged 51.8 yards per punt, with a net of 43.3 for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.. Through eight weeks (excluding stats from Monday night), Whelan ranks 11th in the NFL in gross punting average (48.5), but 30th in net punting average (39.2).

*For the Miami Dolphins, S Elijah Campbell (Defenders) played 81% of the special teams snaps against the New England Patriots, but none on defense. He didn’t register any stats.

*LS Christian Kuntz (Renegades) made an assisted tackle on special teams for the Pittsburgh Steelers. That makes three tackles on the season for Kuntz, which leads all long snappers.

*With kickoff returns being de-emphasized thanks to recent rule changes, RB Godwin Igwebuike (Dragons) hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity to show what he can do in that phase. He did get one chance for the Steelers, taking a kick back 36 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was one of nine snaps he played on special teams on Sunday.

*The magic ran out for QB PJ Walker (Roughnecks), who started his second consecutive game in place of the injured Deshaun Watson. Walker’s Cleveland Browns lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 24-20. Walker completed just 15-of-31 passes for 248 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He added six carries for 27 yards (4.5 average). Walker turned the ball over three times, losing a fumble in addition to his two picks.

The fumble came on a sack by Boye Mafe on the second drive as the Browns had just crossed midfield. Seattle turned the turnover into seven points. The first interception was deep in Seattle territory, robbing the Browns of at least three points. The final turnover came just before the two-minute warning as the Browns, holding a 20-17 lead, were trying to convert a 3rd-and-3. Seattle took the ball and scored the winning touchdown to go up 24-20 with 38 seconds left.

*The Los Angeles Chargers took advantage of the coverage-impaired linebackers for the Chicago Bears, feeding TE Donald Parham (Renegades) to the tune of four catches on five targets for 43 yards and a touchdown. Each catch, aside from the TD, netted the Chargers a first down. Parham was also guilty of a false start. He played 62% of the offensive snaps with starter Gerald Everett inactive due to a hip injury. Through eight weeks, Parham has 13 receptions for 104 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.

*In Monday night’s battle against the Las Vegas Raiders, Detroit Lions LS Scott Daly (Guardians) snapped on five successful Riley Patterson field goals, but it was the one miss that could prove costly. Patterson was wide right from 26 yards out with about five minutes remaining, and Daly limped off the field and onto the trainer’s table to be examined. No update was available on his condition before the game concluded.

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