San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles during the team's OTA practice on Tuesday and could miss the entire 2013 season, Mike Garafolo of USA Today reports.
The severity of the tear (complete or partial tear) is currently unknown and should be the determining factor for how much time Crabtree will miss. As noted by Garafolo, two players — Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers — returned to the playing field in 2012 after suffering Achilles injuries during the OTAs. Lindsay Jones of USA Today notes that, in 2011, Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas returned to action seven months after tearing his Achilles.
However, losing Crabtree for even part of the season would be a major blow to the 49ers as the 2009 first-round pick out of Texas Tech is coming off a breakout season. Crabtree established career-highs with 85 receptions for 1,105 yards with nine touchdowns and his involvement in the 49ers' offense increased with the insertion of Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.
Over the final seven starts, Crabtree was targeted on 10 or more passes four times as he caught 41 passes for 595 yards with five touchdowns during that stretch. Crabtree was targeted by Kaepernick on 28 passes in the 49ers' three playoff games, resulting in 20 completions for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
[Fantasy: Fallout of 49ers losing Michael Crabtree]
Depth at wide receiver has been an issue for the 49ers over the previous two seasons, but they have taken steps to improve that aspect of their roster this offseason. The 49ers acquired veteran Anquan Boldin from the Baltimore Ravens in March and used a 2013 fourth-round pick on Quinton Patton, a 6-foot, 204-pound receiver who caught 183 passes for 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns in a 25-game career at Louisiana Tech. The 49ers' preferred method of cushioning the blow from the loss of Crabtree would be for 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins to have a strong offseason.
Jenkins was inactive for much of last season, appearing in just 35 offensive snaps in three regular-season games, according to official playing-time documents. Jenkins dressed for two playoff games, but is still seeking his first meaningful reception in the NFL. If Jenkins does not develop, the 49ers could consider bringing future Hall of Famer Randy Moss back in 2013. Moss, 36, caught 28 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns in 40.4 percent of the 49ers' snaps last season and added seven receptions for 112 yards in the playoffs.
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Free-agent defensive back Charles Woodson is returning to the Oakland Raiders as Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that the 36-year-old has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the team that selected him with the fourth overall pick of the 1998 draft.
Woodson, who won the 1997 Heisman Trophy while at the University of Michigan, was the 1998 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named to four Pro Bowls during his eight-year stint with the Raiders. Woodson joined the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and in seven seasons twice led the NFL in interceptions (2009, 2011). Woodson was named to four Pro Bowl squads and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2009 before he moved to safety during a 2012 season where he would miss nine games with a broken clavicle.
On Feb. 15, the Packers released Woodson and the two years and $20 million that remained on his contract. Woodson drew interest recently from the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions. With Woodson at the tail end of his career, and the Broncos primed for playoff success, the prevailing sentiment was that the Raiders and Lions, two teams with salary cap room, were being used by Woodson's camp as leverage against the Broncos, who are nearly $10 million under the cap, in contract negotiations. Fans in Oakland were vocal about wanting their team to re-sign Woodson and turned out in large numbers to greet Woodson when he arrived at the team's headquarters for his visit.
By re-signing with the Raiders, Woodson returns to where his NFL career started and gets to keep closer tabs on his Napa Valley winery, TwentyFour Wines.
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Fans of the Denver Broncos will have a new nameplate to admire next time they visit Mile High, Broncos great Tom Nalen has been inducted into the Ring of Fame.
The addition of Alex Smith and Andy Reid is going to make the Kansas City Chiefs at least competitive. They have better talent than the Oakland Raiders and will continue to play tough at home. A 7-9 record is a distinct possibility.
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