Parham finds the end zone again, McCarron finds a home in NFL week three

Green Bay Packers Daniel Whelan (41) punts during a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. (Mike Roemer / Associated Press)
Green Bay Packers Daniel Whelan (41) punts during a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. (Mike Roemer / Associated Press)

Transactions last weekThe big news was QB AJ McCarron (Battlehawks) signing with Cincinnati’s practice squad on Saturday. All had been quiet on the McCarron-to-NFL front, as he did not take any tryouts this summer. But with QB Joe Burrow nursing an injury, perhaps the Bengals felt more comfortable with McCarron than QB Reid Sinnett (Brahmas), whom they also signed to the practice squad, one day before McCarron. Sinnett was in camp with the Bengals this summer, so he knows the offense. New England signing QB Will Grier off Cincinnati’s practice squad earlier in the week necessitated a move to insure a backup would be available if Jake Browning would have to start at quarterback.

On Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons released WR Matthew Sexton (Vipers) from their practice squad. He was one of the players originally signed to the practice squad following final cuts. Sexton is a candidate to be brought back sometime later on in the year.

Replacing RB Anthony McFarland (injured reserve) on Pittsburgh’s roster is RB Godwin Igwebuike (Dragons), whom the Steelers signed from Atlanta’s practice squad. Practice squad players are treated as free agents in that they can sign with another team’s active roster at any time. Igwebuike slots in as the third-string back in the Steel City.

McCarron wasn’t the only Saturday QB move that was XFL-related: The Baltimore Ravens released QB Josh Johnson (Wildcats) with Tyler Huntley returning to health. Johnson was then re-signed on Monday to the 53-man roster.

Tryouts: Tuesday is the busiest tryout day around the league each week during the season. That was no exception this week. Four former XFL players were beneficiaries, getting invited to workouts with NFL teams:  RB Abram Smith (Defenders) worked out for the Detroit Lions; C Michal Menet (Sea Dragons) tried out for the Las Vegas Raiders; DT Kobe Smith (Brahmas) was in South Florida for a workout with the Miami Dolphins; and LS Rex Sunahara (Brahmas) joined a host of other long snappers in getting a look from the Washington Commanders. None were immediately signed, but teams could be updating their emergency list with these players should a need arise.

*In Miami’s historic blowout of the Denver Broncos, S Elijah Campbell (Defenders) made his season debut after being sidelined for the first two games with an injury suffered in the last weekend of the preseason. With the game out of hand, backups saw plenty of playing time, and Campbell benefited from that: He played 26% of the defensive snaps, mostly in the second half, as well as 58% of the team’s special teams snaps. Campbell finished with one assisted tackle on the afternoon.

*Continuing his role from last year, G Michael Dunn (Dragons) is being used as an extra blocker, often in short-yardage situations, by the Cleveland Browns. He was on the field for two offensive snaps on Sunday, one of them aiding RB Jerome Ford in rushing for a three-yard touchdown. Dunn also played five special teams snaps as a lineman for field goals and extra points.

*Second-year QB Desmond Ridder had a game to forget for the Atlanta Falcons, leading the team to just six points and taking seven sacks against the Detroit Lions. Despite this, his backup, QB Taylor Heinicke (Battlehawks) remained on the sidelines and did not play.

*Starting his third game in a row to open the season, TE Donald Parham (Renegades) was a red zone threat once again for the LA Chargers. Parham caught both of his targets for just four yards, but they both went for touchdowns. He now has three touchdowns in three weeks. QB Justin Herbert attempted 47 passes against the Minnesota Vikings, and while Parham was targeted just twice, fellow starting tight end Gerald Everett saw six throws go his way in the passing game. Their playing time was nearly identical, with Parham playing 52% of the snaps compared to Everett’s 58%. It’s worth noting that the Chargers rotate in all four of their tight ends, and all four played at least 10% of the offensive snaps.

*LS Scott Daly (Guardians) didn’t register any special teams tackles on the six punts he snapped for. He also snapped on two successful extra points and two made field goals.

*Long snappers work best when fans don’t know their names. Such is the life of Pittsburgh Steelers LS Christian Kuntz (Renegades), who once again quietly snapped on all punts and kicks.

*After signing with the Steelers earlier in the week, RB Godwin Igwebuike (Dragons) was somewhat of a surprise inactive in favor of RB Qadree Ollison, who was a practice squad promotion for Pittsburgh’s Sunday night tilt with the Las Vegas Raiders. Ollison handled third RB duties behind Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. He would certainly know the offense better than Igwebuike if that was a concern. Ollison ended up playing just one snap on offense.

*It might be time to get worried about the performances of P Daniel Whelan (Defenders). Though the Green Bay Packers ultimately came back to defeat the New Orleans Saints, one of Whelan’s punts was returned for a touchdown that put the Saints up 14-0 in the second quarter. It was a 40-yard punt to the dangerous Rashid Shaheed, who took it to the house from 76 yards out.

The punt in question was short and had a hang time of just 4.13 seconds (by my own hand timing). Conflicting sources online claim minimum ideal hang time for punts as somewhere between 4.2 and 4.4 seconds. Whelan’s other efforts were better, as he landed two inside the 20 yard line, both fair caught at the 10. In total, Whelan had four punts for 153 yards (38.3 gross average, 19.3 net) with a long of 45.

*Despite Joe Burrow being decreed healthy enough to start on Monday night, QB Reid Sinnett (Brahmas) was still brought up as a practice squad elevation for the game. He was active as the backup-to-the-backup and did not play. He’ll revert back to the practice squad.

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