McKinnie: I'm too injured for Pro Bowl
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was back at practice on Wednesday. In a very loose sense that hardly suggests his return to the field is imminent.
Via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Romo threw in individual drills on Wednesday. It’s the first time he has thrown at practice since suffering a compression fracture in his back during the preseason, at Seattle.
Romo has been throwing regularly in recent weeks. His most notable effort came in Week Two, when Romo threw passes before the team’s win at Washington.
With rookie Dak Prescott rolling, the Cowboys have no reason to rush Romo back. Indeed, like most difficult decisions, they seem to be delaying this one as long as they can. Which means that the team is, in a roundabout way, applying the “100 percent” rule to Romo, holding him back until he’s fully and completely healed — and determining whether he’s fully and completely healed based in part on the performance of Prescott.
As long as they’re winning with Prescott, why make any decisions about Romo? As long as Romo, who’s getting $500,000 per week whether he plays or doesn’t, isn’t publicly complaining about the situation, the Cowboys can keep kicking the can unless and until Prescott hits the proverbial rookie wall.
The Jaguars have released their injury report for Thursday night’s game against the Titans and they only put designations on a couple of players.
Odrick played after being listed as questionable last week with a hip injury. It’s a quad issue that’s landed him on this week’s report and Odrick did not practice on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Thomas didn’t practice Tuesday due to an ankle injury that’s been lingering the last few weeks, but moved up to a limited workout on Wednesday.
Everyone else on the 53-man roster was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, leaving the Jaguars in generally good physical condition as they try to rebound from last Sunday’s loss to the Raiders.
The Texans-Broncos game was pretty much what everyone thought it would be. And so were the ratings.
Unmoved by the return of Brock Osweiler to Denver, the needle moved in the wrong direction from a Nielsen standpoint, with a 14-percent decline in ratings from the Ravens-Cardinals Monday night game from Week Seven a year ago. The ratings also reflected a 17-percent decline from 2014, when the Steelers and Texans squared off.
Via SportsMediaWatch.com, it was the lowest Monday night rating for Week Seven since 2012, when Lions-Bears conflicted with a presidential debate and a Game Seven in baseball. It also was the fifth game this year with a rating below 7.0. Previously, only four had dropped below that mark — in three prior seasons combined.
Perhaps the performance of the Texans in other big games contributed to the lack of widespread interest. It would have been a bigger game if it had been selected for the first game of the new season. Then again, the struggles of Carolina would have made Panthers-Broncos a far less compelling matchup later in the year.
Either way, the sizzle simply isn’t there this year, so far. After the election and the World Series end and once the playoff races heat up, we’ll know whether it’s an aberration, a full-year trend, or possibly a new reality for the NFL.
Quarterback Geno Smith will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL against the Ravens last Sunday, which left little reason for him to remain on the team’s active roster.
The Jets went ahead and removed Smith from it on Wednesday by placing him on injured reserve. Smith’s contract expires at the end of this season, so there’s a pretty good chance that he won’t be back on the roster at any point in the future.
They elected to sign linebacker Taiwan Jones instead. Jones spent most of last season on the Jets’ practice squad and was promoted to the active roster later in the year without seeing any action. He was with the team in the preseason this year as well, but didn’t make it through cuts at the start of the regular season.
The trade deadline is next week and one of the names that has come up as a possible target for teams looking to upgrade their offensive line is Browns left tackle Joe Thomas.
Connecting those dots isn’t hard. The Browns have jettisoned many veterans since their latest regime change, Thomas has been one of the best tackles in the league for years and the team reportedly came close to moving him to Denver around this time last year.
In response to such thoughts, Browns coach Hue Jackson said earlier this week that the Browns “are not going to trade Joe Thomas.” Thomas said Wednesday that he’s been around the NFL too long to be surprised by anything, but that he hopes Jackson was telling the truth.
“Feels good to be loved,” Thomas said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’m hoping they stick to their word.”
Thomas admitted to not being sure if he wanted to stick with the Browns before they hired Jackson and put their latest front office in place early this year, but said after Jackson’s arrival that he “definitely” wanted to stick around. An 0-7 start hasn’t changed that feeling, although it won’t be until next week until we’re sure that the status quo will remain in place.
If the Browns had to play a game yesterday, they would have started fourth-string quarterback Kevin Hogan. Fortunately, they didn’t have to play a game yesterday.
Cleveland does have a game on Sunday against the Jets, and there’s optimism that Josh McCown will be able to play. McCown said his broken collarbone is healing nicely, and he’s hoping for a good week of practice this week and full medical clearance before Sunday.
“We’re moving in that direction,” McCown told reporters in Cleveland today. “We’ll see how it goes.”
After Robert Griffin III was injured in Week One, McCown started Week Two, only to break his collarbone. Cody Kessler has started since Week Three, but he suffered a concussion on Sunday and appears to be unlikely to get cleared in time to play on Sunday.
So at the moment it appears that this week, McCown will be No. 1 and Hogan will be No. 2 at the most dangerous position since Spinal Tap drummer.
Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander has been a useful NFL player for the last decade, seeing time on defense and special teams for a variety of teams.
Alexander’s play this season has taken things to another level, however. Pressed into a starting role after injuries to other linebackers in Buffalo, Alexander has responded with at least a half-sack in each game and a league-high nine sacks overall while also playing his usual role in the kicking game.
Alexander had one of those sacks against the Patriots in Week Four and Patriots coach Bill Belichick called him “one of the best players we’ve seen all year” while they head into this weekend’s rematch.
“He’s been great,” Belichick said in his Wednesday press conference. “He’s had a great year. [He’s] been a tremendous run player, pass player, every special team, impact player in the kicking game and impact player on defense, hard to block, rushes inside, rushes outside, good tackler, great motor. He’s really good.”
The Bills defense took a step backward last Sunday after playing a major part in the team’s four-game winning streak. Keeping Alexander in check would do a lot to help the Patriots extend the downturn, although doing that has proven to be difficult for any of Buffalo’s opponents so far this season.
Before the start of the regular season, the Eagles made a trade with the Titans to acquire wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
Green-Beckham has caught 13 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles’ 29th-ranked passing game in the first six games of the season. That low ranking has helped spark some talk that the Eagles might want to make another deal for a wide receiver like Torrey Smith before next week’s trade deadline.
During his Wednesday press conference, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that there’s no “legitimacy” to any such chatter because the Eagles are happy with the players they have at the position. Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff join Green-Beckham in that receiver group.
Comments like Pederson’s should always be taken with a grain of salt because we’ve seen too many examples of teams saying one thing before doing another, especially when there’s a need to boost production in the area under discussion. Given how many other changes the Eagles have undergone on offense since Pederson took over, however, it isn’t hard to understand why they might like to focus on what’s already on hand rather than shaking things up again in the middle of the season.
Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry put Bills safety Aaron Williams in the hospital with a brutal hit to the head on Sunday. That hit drew a 15-yard penalty, but Bills coach Rex Ryan suggested afterward that ejecting Landry would have been appropriate as well.
NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network that Landry wasn’t ejected because the officials can’t say for sure that Landry was specifically aiming for Williams’ head, as opposed to just making a block and going too high.
“It’s certainly a foul,” Blandino said. “It’s certainly something that we’ll review for potential discipline, but it’s still a football play, and it’s tough to read intent there. That’s why the officials kept him in the game. It’s not an automatic ejection. It’s up to the discretion of the crew and they didn’t feel like it was flagrant enough to throw the player out of the game.”
In college football, a hit like that would be an automatic targeting ejection. In the NFL, there are fewer plays that result in automatic ejections.
“We have very few automatic ejections in the game today,” Blandino said. “If you get two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in the same game, if you put your hands on a game official in an aggressive way, those are automatic ejections. Punching an opponent.”
That’s an area where college football’s rules make more sense than the NFL’s. If there are going to be automatic ejections at all, an illegal hit to the head that sends a player to the hospital should be something that draws an automatic ejection. College football’s targeting rule has its problems, but it’s a rule that makes more sense than the NFL’s rule of ejecting a player for two taunting fouls, but letting a player stay in the game after a vicious and illegal hit to the head.
One of the biggest lingering questions regarding the Josh Brown case relates to the decision to suspend him for the May 2015 incident that resulted in his arrest. With the NFL now using a six-game suspension as the baseline for first-offense domestic violence, why was he suspended for only one game?
The Personal Conduct Policy, as revised after the Ray Rice debacle, establishes the six-game suspension for a first offense, with the possibility of the suspension increasing or decreasing, based on aggravating or mitigating factors.
“Possible aggravating factors include, but are not limited to, a prior violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, similar misconduct before joining the NFL, violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when an act is committed against a particularly vulnerable person, such as a child, a pregnant woman, or an elderly person, or where the act is committed in the presence of a child,” the policy states. As to mitigating factors, there is no similar explanation.
So what are the mitigating factors? Absent an effort to identify them, mitigating factors can be whatever the NFL wants them to be.
As to Brown, there were two mitigating factors, from the league’s perspective. First, the NFL didn’t regard the incident as a serious instance of domestic violence, since Brown simply grabbed his now-ex-wife’s wrist. (Many would say that any incident of domestic violence is serious.) Second, the NFL considered its difficulty in getting cooperation from Brown’s now-ex-wife or from law enforcement to be a mitigating factor.
The better approach would be to stick with the default penalty of six games for any incident of domestic violence, unless and until the player can articulate and prove true mitigating factors on appeal. The structure of the policy, however, suggests that the NFL doesn’t want to impose a standard of this nature, possibly since it would strip the league of the ability to point to any factor it wants as a mitigating factor — regardless of whether it actually is.
When the 1-6 49ers return from their bye, an effort will be made to force the team to bid farewell to G.M. Trent Baalke.
Via 49erswebzone.com, an anti-Baalke banner will fly over Levi’s Stadium in connection with the team’s next home game, on November 6 against the Saints. The public funding goal of $1,076 was quickly reached, allowing for the “#FireTrent” message to be displayed to anyone at the game.
Maybe the good news is that ongoing “traffic problems” will ensure that fewer people will see the banner.
The reality is that, as the 49ers continue a stunning fall from perennial contender to perennial doormat, the paying customers need to be engaged. Surely, plenty of them currently are tempted to disengage, indefinitely.
Which will result in plenty of them pressuring the team to disengage from Baalke, permanently.
Regardless of whether the 49ers fire Baalke or make other changes during or after the year, much must be done to turn around a team that seemed to be setting the gold standard for the NFC, if not the NFL.
Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown last Sunday vs. the Vikings, and on Wednesday Huff was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Huff’s touchdown was the Eagles’ first score of the game. They went on to hand the Vikings their first loss of the season, 21-10.
The touchdown gave a nice boost to Huff’s kick return average, which is now up to 38 yards per return on the season. He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown in 2014.
Huff’s return marked the first time in Eagles history that the Eagles returned kickoffs for touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. Wendell Smallwood ran a kickoff back 86 yards for a touchdown the previous week at Washington.
Whether it was jet lag or just the continuation of a season-long lack of consistence, the Giants offense didn’t get much done against the Rams in London last Sunday.
The Giants were still able to return home with a victory, however, and safety Landon Collins was a big reason why they won. Collins had two of the team’s four interceptions of Rams quarterback Case Keenum and scored the team’s first touchdown of the game.
The score came on a play that’s sure to be a staple of highlight films for a good long while. With the Giants trailing 10-3 in the second quarter, Collins picked off a pass that went off Tavon Austin’s hands and began a trip to the end zone that took him from one side of the field to the other while breaking several attempted tackles.
Collins’ second interception came on another attempt to get the ball to Austin in the fourth quarter and set up the touchdown drive that put the Giants up 17-10. Keenum would throw two more interceptions and the score stood up for a victory that had Collins’ fingerprints all over it.
In the absence of a reliable running game, the Packers needed someone to take on a larger role.
Wide receiver Davante Adams did just that.
Adams was named NFC offensive player of the week after catching 13 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in last Thursday’s win over the Bears.
Adams hadn’t caught more than five passes in a game all season, but made the most of the opportunity, and helped spark a Packers offense which has been off sync all season.
Raiders punter Marquette King was good with his right foot and did a little work with both feet in last Sunday’s win at Jacksonville.
Wednesday, King was named AFC Special Teams Player of the week. King averaged 50.6 yards on five punts in the game. He landed four of those five inside the Jaguars’ 20-yard line.
King also picked up a botched snap in the fourth quarter and ran 27 yards for a first down.
He also won an AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award last December.