Former Lions running back Barry Sanders put himself on Ebay this week, auctioning off the “pleasure of his company” at Super Bowl parties to the highest bidder.
For sale: Barry Sanders at your Super Bowl party
The Seahawks have injury concerns at several positions heading into Sunday’s game with the Raiders, with safety near the top of the list.
Kam Chancellor was listed as questionable on Friday because of a groin injury and coach Pete Carroll said, via PFT teammate Curtis Crabtree, that he will be a game-time decision. Chancellor’s backup Jeron Johnson was ruled out with a concussion, leaving Earl Thomas, Deshawn Shead and Steven Terrell as the team’s healthy safeties heading into Sunday.
Center is another spot where the Seahawks could find themselves in a bit of trouble on Sunday. Neither Max Unger nor Stephen Schilling have been ruled out and coach Pete Carroll expects them to dress on Sunday, but both are listed as questionable and third option Patrick Lewis has played only a handful of snaps.
Elsewhere on the offensive line, Carroll said left tackle Russell Okung will also be a game-time decision as he deals with a calf injury. Should the calls on Chancellor, Okung and the centers go the wrong way, the Seahawks will have a lot of holes to fill.
The Seahawks came into the week knowing that linebacker Bobby Wagner would miss another game with a toe injury and ruled Malcolm Smith out on Friday because of a groin injury that will likely keep him out for multiple weeks. They will reshuffle their linebacking corps to put rookie Brock Coyle in the middle with K.J. Wright moving outside across from Bruce Irvin. Kevin Pierre-Louis, who saw time in place of Smith after his injury last week, is another option against Oakland.
As the players on each NFL team elect their representatives, a process that happens every two years and has been unfolding for the last two months in cities throughout the league, no clear indication has emerged regarding whether the new board of player reps will favor keeping DeMaurice Smith as executive director of the NFL Players Association or replacing him with former NFL player Sean Gilbert.
In March, the representatives will have to decide whether they want Smith, Gilbert, or someone else to hold the job for the next three years. Gilbert’s platform emanates from the argument that the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement must go; if elected, he plans to file a collusion claim that would invoke the union’s right to terminate the deal, which otherwise expires seven years from now, in 2021.
With Smith presumably content to stand pat, it’s possible for the looming election to be couched in the following terms — by voting for change, there’s no downside. If Gilbert wins the election, tries to negotiate a new deal, and fails, the players will finish in the same position they’d be in if Smith wins the election.
Of course, there’s a chance an effort by Gilbert to blow up the CBA eventually will trigger another lockout, one that causes games to be wiped out and forces players to sacrifice game checks. The players would have to be willing to assume the risk of a potential work stoppage, if they go along with Gilbert’s plan to seek premature termination of the labor deal based on collusion.
That logic also overlooks Smith’s efforts to negotiate a substance-abuse policy and a PED policy with more favorable player protections. Moreover, Smith and the union currently are attempting to negotiate a more favorable personal conduct policy. It’s unclear whether Gilbert would have similar success on those fronts.
Gilbert’s desire to play 18 games also could work against him, since most players seem to be firmly against it. Still, as it relates to the basic question of whether the current labor deal can be improved, Gilbert is committed to trying. On that issue, there’s nothing to lose . . . unless it takes a lockout to ultimately improve the current deal.
The Buccaneers will have a new kickoff and punt returner.
If Holliday clears waivers, he will take a spot on the Buccaneers’ injured reserve list.
The 28-year-old Holliday returned two kickoffs and two punts in Tampa Bay’s loss to Minnesota on Sunday. He signed with the Buccaneers just 10 days ago. Holliday had replaced rookie Solomon Patton, who was waived after six games as the Bucs’ returner. Patton is now on the Cardinals’ practice squad.
A potential replacement for Holliday could be coming from the practice squad. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports the Buccaneers have called up wide receiver Marcus Thigpen, who returned kickoffs and punts for Miami in 2012 and 2013. Like Holliday, the 28-year-old Thigpen signed with the Buccaneers on Oct. 21.
And now, Thigpen might get a chance to stabilize a problem spot for 1-6 Tampa Bay.
Michael Shipp, the judge who granted a temporary restraining order preventing New Jersey from legalizing sports gambling in the state, is the brother of former NFL running back Marcel Shipp. Some supporters of sports betting in the Garden State say that’s a conflict of interest.
Marcel Shipp played for the Cardinals from 2001 to 2007 and has expressed interest in coaching in the NFL (he is currently an assistant at his alma mater, UMass, and has participated in the NFL’s minority coaching fellowship program). According to some advocates of sports gambling in New Jersey, that calls into question the partiality of his brother, the judge who handed down the ruling the NFL wanted to prevent the state from beginning its plan to allow sports gambling at racetracks and casinos.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak told the Asbury Park Press that Judge Shipp should recuse himself from the sports gambling case because of “a strong appearance of a conflict of interest that could compromise Judge Shipp’s ability to make an objective decision.’’
Gaming attorney Daniel Wallach agreed, saying he’s not accusing Judge Shipp of wrongdoing but is suggesting that it’s reasonable to ask whether the judge can be unbiased given that a close family member played in the NFL and may want to work for the NFL.
“It’s not whether the judge is biased, but whether his impartiality can be questioned. That question is clearly there,’’ said Wallach, who has also written about the issue.
The NFL has long opposed any expansion of sports gambling, and Judge Shipp’s ruling was a victory for the league. Supporters of gambling understandably would like to see Judge Shipp benched — even if it sounds like a stretch to suggest that his brother’s connection to the NFL calls his impartiality into question.
Apparently, neither of the Fs in JFF stands for “frustrated.”
Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel said Friday that he didn’t necessarily agree with coach Mike Pettine’s assessment that he was getting antsy about not playing.
“I don’t necessarily think that’s the right word,” Manziel said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Obviously coming from the situation I’ve been in the past couple years of every rep, every snap, every down of every game, coming into the situation that I’m in now is going to be a lot different for me. So I’m sure there are signs of this being a different situation for me, but I don’t feel frustrated. Obviously, being a competitor I want to play, but there is a difference.”
Manziel said he thinks he’s “in the role that I need to be at this time,” which is backing up Browns starter Brian Hoyer. And he acknowledged that he had a poor camp, when he was given every opportunity to make the job his own.
“I’m still extremely hungry,” he said. “I still feel that obviously coming out training camp, I was disappointed. I wanted to play better and at the same time I am a rookie and I can’t be too hard on myself. I remember thinking back to the days when I was learning the offense at [Texas] A&M. It was frustrating. And it’s like that for everybody coming into a new system and a new place a long way away from home. So there’s a lot of things that were going on in my life at the time. Now I’m a lot more settled in, a lot more comfortable with everything that’s going on in the day-to-day operations.”
The fact he’s been able to cool off a bit hasn’t hurt either, as being in the center of the social media whirl this summer only added expectations that he wasn’t ready to meet.
So for now, Johnny Football is fine with being a backup, which is a nicer F for a middle initial anyway.
While Ravens tight end Owen Daniels was able to practice on Friday, his status for Sunday night’s game at Pittsburgh remains somewhat uncertain.
Daniels, who had minor knee surgery last week, is listed as questionable on the club’s injury report. According to the team, Daniels put in a full practice on Friday.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh indicated the call on Daniels will likely be made Sunday.
“We’ll see how the knee reacts, but he’s a tough guy,” Harbaugh said, according to the club.
The Ravens and Steelers are each 5-3. With a win, Baltimore will sweep the season series with Pittsburgh.
On Thursday, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said that it was too soon to tell if wide receiver Reggie Wayne will return to the lineup on Monday night after missing last week’s game because of an elbow injury.
Friday brought some positive developments for Pagano to consider while trying to come to a decision. Wayne was a full participant in practice, which gives the team a chance to see if the elbow issue is affecting him on the field. If it isn’t, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton explained why the team will happily welcome him back to the offense to face the Giants.
“It makes all the difference,” Hamilton said, via the team’s website. “We just finished our third-down practice and having Reggie Wayne available makes it a lot easier for the quarterback. Find Reggie and find a way to get him the ball.”
Saturday will bring another Colts practice and the release of the team’s official injury report for Monday night. Saturday is also when we should get word on the team’s plans for safety LaRon Landry. Landry’s four-game suspension is up this week, but the team doesn’t have to activate him until Tuesday if they decide he’s not ready to help the defense yet.
Tony Romo wanted to reward the guys who help him with his “pain tolerance,” for the fact he hasn’t had to tolerate as much this year.
According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, a week after taking five sacks and injuring his back, Romo gave tight end tight end Jason Witten and his offensive linemen Louis Vuitton travel bags just before their trip to London Monday.
“Appreciate it,” Witten said. “Timing is now for the London trip, I’m assuming. So perfect timing.”
“They’re taking care of us this year,” left guard Ronald Leary said. “We appreciate it.”
Of course, if they want the tokens of appreciate to continue, they might want to keep Romo on his feet.
The Chargers won’t have running back Ryan Mathews in the lineup when they play in Miami on Sunday, but it looks like there’s a good chance that he’ll be able to play when they return from their bye in Week 11.
Mathews was a limited participant in Friday’s practice, which marked the first time that he’s been able to practice in any capacity since getting hurt in the second week of the regular season. It’s the first step back toward being active for a game, something coach Mike McCoy suggested would be happening sooner rather than later.
“He’s getting close,” McCoy said, via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego.
The backfield should have one returning player this weekend even with Mathews ruled out once again. Donald Brown is listed as probable to play after recovering from a concussion, although Branden Oliver will likely continue to be the top option on the ground given how he’s played over the last few weeks.
The Chiefs have won four of their last five games and they’ll get some help in their quest to make it five of six against the Jets this Sunday.
Coach Andy Reid said Friday that safety Eric Berry will play for the first time since spraining his ankle in September. Berry has missed the last five games while recovering from the injury and Reid said he wasn’t sure what his role would wind up being against the Jets.
“We’ll just see how he does, see how he feels,” Reid said, via Herbie Teope of the Associated Press.
Ron Parker has replaced Berry in the starting lineup during his time on the sideline and done a solid job, so Kansas City will likely find a role for him once Berry resumes a full workload in the secondary.
The Browns will be without tight end Jordan Cameron for at least another week, as coach Mike Pettine said he’d miss this week’s game against the Buccaneers because of his concussion.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Pettine said “we’ll see about next week” when asked about Cameron for next Thursday night against the Bengals.
Cameron’s concussion last week against the Raiders was his third in two seasons.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to do it right at this time when it’s still fresh and [he's] recovering from it,” Pettine said when asked about long-term concerns. “We’ll see how long it takes and the severity of this one. If that’s something we need to address we will.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants defensive end Greg Hardy back.
Hardy, who is awaiting a jury trial on a domestic violence charge, has been on the commissioner’s exempt list (essentially the NFL’s version of paid leave) since Week Three. Now that Hardy’s trial has been postponed until after the season, Rivera believes it’s only fair that Hardy be allowed to play, rather than to have to wait indefinitely for due process.
“In so many words, yes,’’ Rivera said when asked by reporters if Hardy should be allowed to return, via ESPN. “If things had all transpired and gone a certain way, then his availability might be now.’’
Hardy, who was initially allowed to play in Week One before being deactivated for Week Two, has already missed eight games. The NFL’s proposal to toughen the rules against players who commit domestic violence included a suspension of six games for a domestic violence conviction, so you could make the argument that Hardy should already be finished with his league-imposed discipline.
Of course, you could also argue that Hardy has been lucky to be placed on paid leave, rather than a suspension without pay. And you could argue that it’s simply untenable in the NFL right now to allow Hardy to play until and unless he’s been cleared of the domestic violence charge. Now it appears that Hardy will neither be convicted nor cleared until after this season is over, which means that he may remain in the limbo that is the commissioner’s exempt list for the rest of the season. Even if Rivera thinks that’s unfair.
The Noid strikes back.
For the second straight year, a pizza-related incident has resulted in an injury to an NFL player. Last year, former Lions receiver Nate Burleson broke an arm in a car accident that happened after Burleson tried to keep a pizza from falling onto the floor.
This year, Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall re-tore his surgically-repaired Achilles tendon when he slipped and fell in his kitchen while getting a slice of pizza, according to Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Washington.
Hall will have a second surgery to re-attach the tendon. At this point, there’s no reason to think he won’t be ready to go in 2015.
As long as he’s more careful during those late-night pizza runs.
Maybe it’s the second-biggest mistake he’s ever made in his life.
Cowboys running back Joseph Randle, who has made all the wrong kind of headlines lately, was on the apology trail again after practice Friday.
According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Randle said he regrets everything he said during his booking on charges of stealing underwear and cologne.
Bryant tried to de-escalate the matter, telling Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com it apparently wasn’t a deal of any substantive size.
“Oh man, it’s all good, it’s all right,” Bryant said. “That ain’t no big deal, it ain’t a big deal. It ain’t no big deal.”
Of course, the adventures of a backup running back wouldn’t be a big deal at all if he learned to pay for his own drawers and not talk too much.
The Texans got linebacker Jadeveon Clowney back in the lineup last weekend after a long spell on the sideline following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, but coach Bill O’Brien indicated Friday that Clowney may not be able to play this Sunday.
Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com reports that O’Brien said that the chances of Clowney playing against the Eagles don’t look good at the moment.
It’s not a setback with his knee that is causing concern for the team, however. Ganguli reports that Clowney is ill and presumably that sickness has left him drained enough that the team is concerned he won’t be back to full strength in time for Sunday’s kickoff.
The Texans website doesn’t mention the illness, but calls Clowney a game-time decision and reports that the team will check him out on Saturday before making a final determination.