Taylor Heinicke’s injury, Tyree Jackson’s reemergence among the storylines for XFL players in NFL week 10 action

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)


The only placekicker from XFL 2023 to sign with an NFL team, K Parker Romo (Brahmas), joined XFL 2020 CB Saivion Smith (Roughnecks) in a Monday tryout with the Tennessee Titans. Romo worked out with two other kickers. None were immediately signed. Titans kicker Nick Folk had not missed a field goal entering this past weekend and is healthy, so it could’ve been Tennessee simply doing due diligence to update their emergency list. Smith was released by the Detroit Lions near the end of training camp.

On Tuesday, WR Martavis Bryant (Vipers) had his first workout since being reinstated by the NFL on Saturday. He worked out for the Dallas Cowboys and reportedly had others lined up if he left without a contract. Unofficially, Bryant becomes the 114th XFL 2023 player to work out for an NFL team, which comprises over 25% of XFL players.


It was an eventful week on the wire for DT Austin Faoliu (Sea Dragons), but most of the moves were simply procedural in nature. After practicing in full for two weeks following the opening of his 21-day window by the Seattle Seahawks, Faoliu was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list on Monday. He had been sidelined with a knee injury suffered during the offseason program, causing him to miss all of training camp. Faoliu’s time on the 53-man roster lasted one day, as he was released on Tuesday. However, all of this was a means to place him on the practice squad, which the team did on Thursday, after Faoliu cleared waivers.

Another defensive tackle, DT Bruce Hector (Renegades), was released from the practice squad of the New York Jets on Tuesday. He lasted six days there, waived in favor of former fourth round draft pick Perrion Winfrey, who plays the same position.

The Titans were reportedly the next scheduled workout for WR Martavis Bryant (Vipers), but that never materialized as he signed with the Cowboys’ practice squad on Wednesday. Bryant is the 66th XFL player to sign an NFL contract since the conclusion of the XFL season in May.

On Friday, the Seahawks waived DT Matthew Gotel (Brahmas) from the practice squad to make room for new third quarterback Brett Rypien, who was released by the Los Angeles Rams following a less-than-stellar start against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. It’s quite possible that Faoliu’s practice squad signing made Gotel expendable.


*With seven seconds left in the first half and with the ball on Baltimore’s 42-yard line, QB PJ Walker (Roughnecks) was summoned to throw a Hail Mary pass as the final play before halftime. Prior to that play, QB Deshaun Watson suffered an ankle injury. Walker’s pass fell incomplete and Watson was able to take back over the reins once the second half commenced. This was Walker’s only play of the game.

*Week 10 was yet another week in which QB Josh Johnson (Wildcats) was inactive as the emergency third quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. He will continue in that role barring injury to Lamar Jackson or Tyler Huntley.

*In the Green Bay Packers’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, P Daniel Whelan (Defenders) punted four times for 179 yards. As has been the story this year, Whelan’s gross average (44.8) was respectable, but his net was once again under 40 (39.8). The biggest miscue came on his first punt. It traveled 43 yards, but the returner gained 14, leaving Whelan with a net of 29 yards. On a positive note, Whelan did land one punt inside the 20 – to the nine-yard line. His touch has seemingly improved throughout the year: He has just one touchback in his last seven games after registering three touchbacks in the first two games.

*Handling all special teams long-snapping duties for the Steelers, LS Christian Kuntz (Renegades) recorded no stats.

*After performing as the lead kick returner of the Steelers the last three weeks, RB Godwin Igwebuike (Dragons) was inactive against the Packers, ceding return duties to fellow RB Anthony McFarland. McFarland had been nursing a knee injury.

*A hamstring injury ended the day prematurely for QB Taylor Heinicke (Battlehawks), who was making his second consecutive start for the Atlanta Falcons. Early in the fourth quarter, Heinicke dove head-first to pick up eight yards on a scramble. An Arizona Cardinals defender swooped in, brushing across Heinicke’s legs. Initially, he was reported as “questionable” to return, but was soon after downgraded to “out.” To that point, Heinicke had been 8-of-15 passing for 55 yards and a touchdown. He also ran four times for 34 yards.

Desmond Ridder, recently replaced by Heinicke as the starter, went 4-of-6 for 39 yards plus a rushing touchdown in relief. Ridder’s TD was the go-ahead score with 2:33 remaining, but the Cardinals drove down the field and kicked a short field goal for the win. The Falcons have the upcoming bye week to decide what to do at the QB position moving forward, and Heinicke has an extra week to get healthy.

*OT Storm Norton (Wildcats) blocked on Atlanta’s two extra points and one field goal attempt, his only three snaps of the game.

*It was a high-scoring affair in Los Angeles, where the Chargers were edged out by the Detroit Lions, 41-38. TE Donald Parham (Renegades) once again earned the start in LA’s two tight-end set. Parham caught two passes for 18 yards, with a long gain of 16. He was the only TE to catch a pass. QB Justin Herbert targeted the position five other times, involving two others, but none of the targets were caught. In terms of playing time, Parham out-snapped the three other tight ends who saw the field, playing 44% of the offensive snaps compared to Gerald Everett’s 33%, Stone Smartt’s 31%, and Nick Vannett’s 15%.

*On the practice squad since the beginning of the season, TE Tyree Jackson (Defenders) was a gameday elevation for the first time this season for the New York Giants, who recently lost starting TE Darren Waller to injury. Like Parham, Jackson was a starter when the Giants opened with two tight ends. New York’s anemic passing attack didn’t allow any opportunities for Jackson in the throw game. Jackson played just 21% of the snaps on offense and none on special teams. He played one fewer snap than backup TE Lawrence Cager, who is on the 53-man roster. With only two tight ends on the active roster and with the Giants likely to continue relying on the run game to generate offense, it’s possible Jackson is eventually promoted, or at least continues in the role of gameday elevation the next few weeks.

*Though he’s not an XFL alum, the rights to K Matt Ammendola were claimed by the Houston Roughnecks on August 6. Neither Austin Jones nor Hunter Duplessis, the two players who kicked for Houston last year, were retained for 2024. That leaves Ammendola as the only kicker on the roster. He was signed into the NFL this week when the Houston Texans sought a replacement for Ka’imi Fairbairn, who went on injured reserve. Ammendola was signed to the practice squad and will kick for the next few weeks. On Sunday, Ammendola made three field goals, including the 38-yard game winner as time expired.

Bye: Miami Dolphins S Elijah Campbell (Defenders)

5 thoughts on “Taylor Heinicke’s injury, Tyree Jackson’s reemergence among the storylines for XFL players in NFL week 10 action”

  1. GP I gotta say this, your obsession with how “bad” Daniel Whelan supposedly is is terribly unhealthy (almost to the level of Hawk fans who want Russell back).

    Yeah his net could be better but the Pack are also doing a LOT of punting from around midfield. If you’re punting from just across the 50 his current net of just under 40 is what you want–suffice to say they have bigger issues.

    This is like when Tom Coughlin came out and buried his punter (and subsequently cut him) for kicking to DeSean Jackson, when the fact is Jackson caught the ball in traffic and should have been downed for about a five-yard loss. Is it Sam Martin’s fault that Marvin Mims had a game-changing punt return when the Bills coverage unit is effectively cheeks?

    • Heading into this past weekend, Whelan was 32nd in the league in net punting, 30th among qualifiers. That is a fact. I’m sorry if that offends your sensibilities, but if you want to hear about how everyone from the XFL is sunshine and rainbows, there are places you can go among the “spring football WORKS” crowd to read their more sanitized versions of what’s happening. I think you, as readers, deserve an honest recap of how these players are doing and sometimes honesty can be harsh.

      But I’ll address a couple of your points: Yes, the Packers are often giving Whelan a short field to work with. It might not be as often as you’d think because if that were true, it should mean he’s putting a lot of punts inside the 20, right? Well, he’s also 29th in total punts inside the 20. So that’s not good, either.

      Couple reasons could be his hang-time isn’t where it should be and, as you pointed out, the Packers coverage units are not great (which I have noted in my write-ups at times). If the coverage teams are not good, hang-time should be a priority. I’ve gone so far as to chart his hang-times some weeks (again, appearing right in these columns…I bring receipts), and they often fall below the acceptable threshold of hang-time.

      Also, if they’re punting from midfield as often as you claim, the net and gross punting average should be somewhat similar. Yet Whelan’s gross punting average was 19th, a pretty far cry from where he stands in net punting. The idea that I have some vendetta against Whelan is ridiculous. I’m simply pointing out what the stats and the tape are saying.

  2. “but if you want to hear about how everyone from the XFL is sunshine and rainbows, there are places you can go among the “spring football WORKS” crowd………………………”

    TOTALLY not curmudgeonish, as is,

    “(again, appearing right in these columns…I bring receipts)”

    Bravo, W. Scott Bailey, Gregg Popovich…………….

    Again what happens when your unit is RIGHT THERE and they fail to make a play–as I brought up with the forgotten part of the D-Jack return? You’d even put that on Ray Guy.

    And barring a complete collapse Whelan’s going to be no small part of a season-saving upset of the NFC North leaders. But they totally should have kept Pat O’Donnell right?

  3. BTW totally not about XFL rah rahing, if I was I’d be ranting about PJ Walker giving the Browns a better shot at the AFC North than DTR.

    The 2013 Seahawks, who went into week 17 against the Rams needing only to hold serve and they’d have a modern day NFL record in punt return yards allowed, would like to remind you that coverage is a bit more important than you’d like to give DW here. Jon Ryan, one of the most iconic punters in franchise history, didn’t have great numbers that year (in fact they’re similar to Whelan) but was experimenting with Aussie/rugby kicks all season, and combined with the best coverage unit the league has seen in the last 20 years and boom. Now tell me Whelan isn’t doing the same things, you’re basically implying he isn’t. But the word great only enters the discussion of their coverage units if you’re talking about the other guys. Now granted they’ve had a lot of injuries and have had to move guys around (yet didn’t stop them from trading Rasul Douglas for some reason), but let’s face it if DW was a bad as you’ve claimed he wouldn’t have put three inside the 20 and Kalif Raymond or whoever would have taken one back.

    So keep your receipts and I’m staying on your lawn thank you.

    • I notice that in neither of your two follow-up posts did you address the three paragraphs of my response to you where I went point-by-point through your initial claims. Wonder why.

      I will break down the punt that has had probably the most significant effect on Whelan’s poor net numbers, and that was the PR TD by Rashid Shaheed in week three. I’ll link to the moment here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3Z6N9S5wOA

      Your claim (I think) is that Packers coverage guys are around the returners but don’t make a play. Here, you can see the nearest Packer is about eight or nine yards away from Shaheed at the point he catches it. That’s out-kicking your coverage. If you’re going to out-kick the coverage, at least get 10+ more yards on the kick to pin him deeper and make him go further (Shaheed fielded it at the 24, leaving plenty of room for the punt to travel further). But even more so, as I brought up in my initial response, especially when you have as dangerous a returner as Shaheed is, you want to get MORE hang-time on the kick to force a fair catch and not allow a return period, even if it’s a shorter kick. 

      I’ve agreed with you that the Packers coverage problems have been A PIECE of the issue with Whelan’s numbers (and as I wrote in my first response, I’ve brought that up in my weekly recaps), but they’re not solely to blame by any stretch. And yes, he has been better the last two weeks (and I give him credit for that in the write-ups), but that doesn’t absolve him of the issues of the previous nine weeks.

      I’m happy to agree to disagree on this topic. You say “keep your receipts” as if the evidence I’ve provided to back up my position shouldn’t matter. Which I guess explains a lot about the world we’re living in today and tells me there’s no point in continuing this discussion. I just don’t think it’s “obsessive” or “unhealthy” to look at a guy ranking 19th in gross average, 30th in net average and 29th in punts inside the 20 and think he might not be having a great year.

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