What's this? Every Tuesday through Friday, Chris Towers will catch you up on the previous day's biggest news first thing in the morning. Here's what you missed Tuesday:
Paxton Lynch will start for the Broncos in Week 12
Hey, it can't get worse, can it? Multiple reports emerged Tuesday saying the Broncos are ready to make a(nother) change at quarterback, this time putting second-year man Paxton Lynch under center.
The Broncos don't have bad skill players, with a group led by Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but they rank just 24th in scoring this season, and the quarterback play has to be a big part of that. They scored 66 points in the first two games of the season, as Trevor Siemian combined for six touchdown passes in those games, but he and Brock Osweiler have managed just six touchdowns in eight games since. The Broncos rank 27th in yards per attempt, 27th in completion percentage, 31st in interception percentage and 30th in passer rating, so the bar is pretty low here.
On the other hand, Lynch couldn't beat out undrafted rookie Siemian last season, and wasn't going to win the job coming out of camp even before his shoulder injury. The Broncos are turning to him only after Siemian and Osweiler predictably failed, which should tell you that they don't have a ton of confidence in him at this point. He's talented, and his athleticism could bring a different dimension to the offense it hasn't had before, but it's awfully hard to get excited about anything with this offense at this point. Trying to install a new offensive coordinator (oh yeah, Mike McCoy was fired Tuesday) the same week as a new starting quarterback only heightens the degree of difficulty here.
Devonta Freeman is still in the concussion protocol
This one certainly remains up in the air, though you shouldn't panic just yet. The Falcons play Sunday, meaning their practices for Week 12 haven't even officially begun yet. We'll see what Freeman gets up to beginning with Wednesday's practice, and he'll have until Friday to be cleared before we really start worrying about his chances of playing in Week 12. Given that this is his second concussion this season and third since entering the NFL, the Falcons are obviously going to remain cautious with this one.
Sterling Shepard was unable to practice Tuesday
This officially qualifies as a step back, as Shepard at least got in some limited work Monday as he continues to deal with migraine issues. We'll see what Wednesday holds, but at this point it looks like Shepard is going to miss his second straight game. The short week certainly didn't help, but the nature of his issue hurts as well, as there just isn't any sort of timeline or standard treatment like there would be for a sprained ankle.
Washington has plenty of line injuries
There's plenty to get excited about in Washington, with the emergence of Samaje Perine, Jamison Crowder's recent return to form, and Kirk Cousins' ongoing strong play. However, the team was forced to put left guard Shawn Lauvao and center Spencer Long on IR Tuesday, another set of blows to a team that has struggled to stay healthy all season.
To make matters worse for Week 12, backup center Chase Rouiller had a cast on his right hand and his arm in a sling, while Trent Williams was unable to practice Tuesday with a knee injury. This offensive line could be in shambles for Thursday's game against the Giants, making the whole offense risky even against what has been a pretty bad defense in New York.
The Raiders fired their defensive coordinator
When you've got a reigning defensive player of the year on your team and you rank 21st in points allowed, something's got to change. Khalil Mack's brilliance wasn't enough to fix the Raiders' problems last season, and things have only gotten worse in 2017, as they have regressed to a league-worst 113.3 passer rating allowed to opposing quarterbacks. File another one under "Hey, it can't be worse, can it?" The Raiders have been an easy target for streaming quarterbacks and matchup plays, and I don't expect a midseason coordinator switch to change that. This is likely to remain a subpar defense.
Mike Davis is not expected to play in Week 12
We weren't exactly excited about Davis, but he did emerge in Week 11 as a starting running back, given the ongoing issues for Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls. However, he suffered a groin injury Monday night, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters it is "unlikely" Davis plays in Week 12. Given how unfailingly optimistic Carroll typically is on his injury updates, I'd take this as a bad sign. J.D. McKissic could get more work in the running game in Week 12, and I would expect Eddie Lacy to get more work if he can stay healthy. If not, Thomas Rawls will get a chance.
- The 49ers are still figuring out who will start at QB… C.J. Beathard put together his best game in Week 10 against the Jets, which could complicate the team's plans. Jimmy Garoppolo is viewed as the future after the 49ers traded a second-round pick to acquire him, but it sounds like they may want to give him more time.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster is dealing with a hamstring issue… It doesn't sound like this is a serious problem at this point, but we'll keep an eye out for it as the week progresses.
- The Texans claimed Andre Ellington… With D'Onta Foreman suffering an Achilles injury in Week 11, the Texans needed some RB depth. Ellington provides that, and could work in as a pass catcher immediately.
- Tyron Smith (groin) practiced Tuesday… This would be a great sign, as the Cowboys' offense has looked lost without its left tackle. His status will likely be determined Wednesday, ahead of Thursday's kickoff.