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Week Three Monday 10-pack

The third week of the 2010 season provided plenty of memorable highlights and outcomes. 

From an overtime thriller in New Orleans to a couple of 0-2 underachievers getting things pointed in the right direction to what nearly became an overtime thrilled in Miami, we hope the next 14 weeks are just like this one.

Then again, some teams would prefer to forget all about Week Three.  For 10 story lines focusing on the good and the bad from Week Three, read on.


1.  Coughlin out, Cowher in?

Two years ago, the Giants started the season 0-2, giving up 80 points in
two games.  This year, after a sloppy Week One win against a grossly
overmatched Panthers team, the Giants have surrendered 67 in two even
sloppier losses.

Publicly, coach Tom Coughlin has taken the blame.  Privately, he has
begun the process of holding his players accountable.

Whether it works remains to be seen.  The Giants are becoming every bit
as dysfunctional as they were when Coughlin somehow pulled a Super
Bowl-sized rabbit out of his hat.  The championship season has become
largely forgotten, however, especially as the Giants become upstaged in their new
stadium by the look-at-me Jets, at whom New York and the rest of the
country are looking, both for what they do on the field, and what they
do off it.

After the Giants collapsed down the stretch and missed the playoffs,
co-owner John Mara blew a gasket.  This year, if the Giants fail to
qualify for the postseason, he’ll do more than talk tough.

Coughlin has one year left on his contract, and the Giants will have to
decide after 2010 whether to re-up Coughlin’s deal — or whether to move
on.  If they choose to thank the 64-year-old coach for his
contributions and pay him not to work for the franchise in 2011, the
most obvious candidate to replace him becomes Bill Cowher.

The 15-year coach of the Steelers, who resigned after the 2006 season,
recently said that he’s looking for the “right situation.”  And former
Steelers tailback Jerome Bettis, who called Cowher’s coming resignation
at the outset of the 2006 season, sad earlier this year that Cowher
covets” the Giants job.

Unless and until Coughlin can get his Giants to play disciplined,
winning football, a guy who led the Steelers with square-jawed intensity
could become the ultimate answer to the cross-town team led by a
player-coach who doesn’t actually play.

2.  Tebow takes a big step backward.

Entering the regular season, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow occupied the
No. 2 spot on the depth chart, behind starter Kyle Orton and ahead of
Brady Quinn.  Per a league source, Tebow was under the impression that
he’d be the top backup all year.

After only two games, Tebow fell to No. 3.  Inactive for Sunday’s game
against the Colts, the elevation of Quinn prevented Tebow from entering
the game before the fourth quarter, essentially eliminating the team’s “Wild Horse”
single-wing package.  As it turns out, neither Quinn nor Tebow entered
the game at all.

Following the 27-13 loss to Indy, Bronco coach Josh McDaniels downplayed
the situation.

“Just made a decision after the week of practice,” McDaniels said. 
“Brady had a good week and it wasn’t anything about Tim — we just felt
like Brady was probably better equipped at this point to handle this
style of game plan, the style of defense that they played.  Again, they
get very few reps anyways, but the reps that they get — we felt more
comfortable doing that.”

Whether it’s a one-time thing remains to be seen.  The fact that Tebow
believed he’d be the No. 2 guy all year makes the move surprising.  The
possibility that he’ll stay at No. 3 shows just how far he has to go
before he becomes the full-time starter.


3.  Pink slips coming soon?

The desperation that has prompted so many quarterback changes could soon
result in a flurry of firings.  Coordinators could be the initial
scapegoats in some cities.  But with bye weeks beginning,
underperforming head coaches could soon find themselves staying home for
the rest of the year, with pay.

The Panthers have looked putrid, and if they hit their break at 0-5,
coach John Fox could be out the door.

The Browns, who are 0-3 but just as easily could be 3-0, face the
Bengals, Falcons, Steelers, and Saints before their bye.  And if the
Browns are 0-7, Eric Mangini may not get a chance to host the Patriots
and the Jets in consecutive weeks — which likely would drop Cleveland
to 0-9, anyway.

Another potential candidate for a bye week “buh-bye” is Jaguars coach
Jack Del Rio.  As one league source explained it, multiple factions
currently are clashing in Jacksonville.  “If [Del Rio] survives the
season,” the source said, “he likely won’t survive the offseason.”

Whether Del Rio survives the season depends on whether the Jaguars can
turn things around, quickly.  Outscored by a total of 50 points in two
weeks, things get no easier next week, when the Colts come calling.  (It also doesn’t help that the Jags are stuck in a division with Indy, Tennessee, and Houston.)

In San Francisco, Mike Singletary could be on the hot seat, too — if
anyone there had the nerve to actually communicate the decision to fire him. 
(Would you?)

Then there’s Raiders coach Tom Cable, who faces some risk of being fired
every minute of every day, of every season.

4.  Time to change inherently unfair fumble rule.

While watching the Chargers-Seahawks game, which Seattle surprisingly
won, a play late in the first half reminded us of one of the most
inequitable rules in all of sport.

When an offensive player fumbles the ball out of bounds, his team keeps
possession.  But when an offensive player fumbles the ball out of the
end zone that his team is trying to invade, the ball is regarded as
having been recovered by the other team, and it’s placed at the 20.

NFL spokesman Michael Signora described it as a “long-standing rule, in
place for decades.”

That’s fine, but that doesn’t make it fair.

It simply makes no sense to punish the offensive team for getting so
close to the end zone, losing the grasp on the ball near paydirt, and
then losing possession even if the other team never actually recovers
it.  

Instead of giving the ball to the defense at the 20, the rule should
give the ball to the offense, at the opponents’ 20.  Some would argue
that possession should be awarded at the line used for the try after a
touchdown.  Either way, possession shouldn’t be handed over the defense
when the defense has done squat to secure possession.


5. Jets, Falcons seize control of their divisions.

With 13 games to go, a lot can — and will — happen.  But two teams
confidently can claim that, for now, they rule the four-team roosts in
which they reside.

Both the Jets and the Falcons went on the road and knocked off rivals
who had been 2-0.  So now the Dolphins will have to win in New York and
the Saints will have to win in Atlanta in order to avoid what amounts to
a three-game swing in the standings — 2-0 versus 0-2, plus ownership
of the tiebreaker.

Coupled with the Jets’ win over the Patriots, New York has come a
long way in only 13 days

Ditto for the Falcons, who lost a heartbreaker in Week One and suddenly
have broken the Saints’ hammerlock on the NFC South.  It likely was the biggest win of quarterback Matt Ryan’s three-year career.

Again, there’s a long way to go.  For now, though, the Jets and Falcons
have to be feeling pretty good about where they are.


6. Chiefs are for real.

When a team exceeds expectations, expectations eventually will be
adjusted.  For that reason alone, look for the Chiefs to continue to
downplay their success, in the hopes that no one will believe that
they’re a legitimate contender to win the AFC West.

But they are.  Already, the 3-0 Chiefs possess a two-game lead over the rest
of the division, and they’ve toppled the perennial top dogs from San
Diego.

Moving forward, the Chiefs benefit from a fourth-place schedule.  While
the Chargers play the Ravens and the Patriots, the Chiefs get the Browns
and the Bills. (All four AFC West teams play all four AFC South teams
in 2010.)  Those two games could end up making a huge difference, if the
race gets tight in late December.

The biggest question mark comes at quarterback, but that question mark
became an exclamation point, at least for a day, when Matt Cassel
completed 16 of 27 for 250 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception
— good for a passer rating of 111.7.

It’s the kind of triple-digit performance that became commonplace for
Cassel in 2008, when he replaced Tom Brady in New England.  Now that
Cassel could be clicking with Charlie Weis, the guy who helped make Tom
Brady into Tom Brady, there could be even more strong performances from the
player whom many regard as the weak link on a slowly-improving
franchise.

Until then, the Chiefs would prefer that we all regard them as
slowly-improving, with no reason to think that they may be headed in the
direction that their 3-0 record suggests they’re heading.

7.  Dallas Desperadoes deliver for Wade.

Backed against the wall, the Dallas Cowboys proved the value of a single
NFL weekend by avoiding an 0-3 start, pulling into a three-way tie for
second place in the NFC East, and getting themselves back on track for a
season that still could end with a Super Bowl.

Desperation suited the Cowboys well on Sunday in Houston, and now
they’ve got time during their bye week to continue to tweak the offense
and refine the defense and prepare to continue the push toward and
beyond .500.

At a time when the NFL is considering a move from 18 games, it’s
important to remember the impact of a single NFL game when a total of
only 16 are played.  The significance of each and every contest makes
each and every one dramatic and memorable; for the Cowboys, who
faced full-blown implosion after only two weeks, a single game changed
everything.

If the season is “enhanced,” that quality could quickly be diminished.

8.  Steelers could run the table.

We know it’s way too early to say this, but we’re going to say it
anyway.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could go undefeated.

It’s unlikely.  Eventually, they’ll surely lose.  But if they can get past the
Ravens on Sunday in the last game without Ben Roethlisberger and if he
pumps up an offense that is complemented by the best defense in the
league, the Steelers will be unstoppable.

If they get to 16-0, it won’t have happened against a slew of patsies. 
They play at Miami and at New Orleans, and they host the Patriots and
the Jets.

Still, there’s already something special about this team, and it could
become even more special if Roethlisberger helps light up a scoreboard
that rarely will reflect many points from the opposition.

9.  Vick’s historic redemption tour continues.

As the football-watching world waits for Mike Vick’s triple-digit
passer-rating performances to drop dramatically, as they always have done in the past, Vick has instead put his
foot harder on the gas, authoring his best performance to date with the
Eagles.

In a 28-3 win at Jacksonville, Vick completed 17 of 31 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 119.2.

In 10 quarters, Vick has thrown six touchdown passes and not a single
interception.

He’ll face his toughest test yet next week, when Donovan McNabb returns
to Philly for a game that Eagles fans will want to win more than any
non-playoff game in franchise history.  And regardless of how well
McNabb does or doesn’t play, another strong showing from Vick could make
McNabb’s performance moot.

Meanwhile, at some point we need to acknowledge that we’re witnessing
one of the most compelling stories in league history.  Rather than
merely returning to the level he occupied before missing two years while
in prison, Vick could be on the verge of reaching new heights — and of
becoming the franchise quarterback he never quite became in Atlanta.

10.  Saints need to lose their blind spot for Garrett Hartley.

Kicker Garrett Hartley forever will occupy a position in the pantheon of
Saints stars, thanks to his delivery of the franchise’s first NFL title
via a 40-yard overtime kick in the NFC Championship and a trio of
40-plus-yard field goals in the Super Bowl.

But kicker remains one of the most fungible positions in football, and
if a guy can’t do his job there are plenty of others who can, and who will.

The challenge for coach Sean Payton and G.M. Mickey Loomis will be to
forget about the things Hartley did in the past, and to focus on what
he’s doing now.

Or, more importantly, on what he’s not doing.

Two missed field goals in Week One allowed the Vikings to hang around
much longer than they should have, and a redirection from 49ers
defensive tackle Ray McDonald may have prevented Hartley from being the
goat in Week Two.

The goat he was on Sunday, when he missed an overtime chip shot after
knuckling the game-tying kick that forced the extra session.

Peter King reported on Sunday night that the Saints will bring in
kickers this week
.  It shouldn’t simply be a shot across Hartley’s bow. 
Kickers need to be much more reliable than Hartley has been.  And if
Hartley continues to receive extra consideration for what he did in last
year’s Super Bowl, the Saints won’t win another one this year.

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Vikings knew of other abuse accusation, reinstated Peterson anyway

Zygi Wilf, Adrian Peterson AP

The Minnesota Vikings were aware when they reinstated Adrian Peterson today that Peterson has been accused of abusing more than one of his children.

Hours after news broke this evening that Peterson has been accused of abusing another one of his sons — in a separate incident from the accusation that led to his indictment last week — the Vikings released a statement admitting that they knew of that accusation and decided to bring Peterson back to the team today anyway.

“As part of the information we have gathered throughout this process, we were made aware of an allegation from 2013 in which authorities took no action against Adrian. We will defer any further questions to Adrian’s attorney Rusty Hardin,” the Vikings’ statement said.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said nothing about the prior Peterson abuse accusation when he said today that the team would let the legal process play out. The Vikings deactivated Peterson for Sunday’s game after he was indicted on a charge of injuring another one of his sons, but they said today that they will let him play the rest of the season.

The Vikings have already lost a sponsor in this mess, which may put pressure on other sponsors to act as well. If more sponsors pull out, that might be what it takes for the Vikings to take action. Apparently two separate abuse accusations aren’t enough to make the Vikings take action.

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Radisson pulling sponsorship of Vikings “effective immediately”

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptgyyje0odhkymywnjq2nwi5nzuwmmflzwrkngi5y2y5 AP

A Vikings sponsor is ending its corporate support of the club for the time being after Adrian Peterson’s Friday arrest on a charge of recklessly or negligently injuring a child.

The Radisson hotel chain announced Monday night it was “suspending its limited sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings while we evaluate the facts and circumstances.”

Said the hotel in a statement issued on the website of its parent company, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group: “Radisson takes this matter very seriously particularly in light of our long-standing commitment to the protection of children.”

The suspension of the company’s sponsorship is “effective immediately,” Radisson said.

The Radisson logo was present behind the Vikings’ press conference podium on Monday, when G.M. Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer met with the media and were asked about the decision to reinstate Peterson, who was deactivated for Sunday’s game vs. New England.

Peterson’s arrest stems from an incident in which he disciplined his four-year-old son with a switch. In a statement Monday, Peterson said he “never ever intended to harm” his son.

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Adrian Peterson’s lawyer says other abuse accusation is untrue

Peterson Arrested Football AP

The attorney for Adrian Peterson says the latest accusation that Peterson abused one of his children is untrue.

Responding to today’s news that Peterson was investigated last year for causing a head wound to one of his sons, lawyer Rusty Hardin released a statement denying the charge.

“The allegation of another investigation into Adrian Peterson is simply not true. The allegation is more than one year old and authorities took no action. An adult witness admittedly insists Adrian did nothing inappropriate with his son,” Hardin said in a statement.

However, the mere fact that Hardin is admitting there was another allegation against Peterson — in addition to the criminal charge he’s facing for allegedly abusing another son — could be enough to force the NFL to suspend Peterson. In 2010, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Ben Roethlisberger for two allegations of sexual assault, even though Roethlisberger was never arrested or charged in either case. When Goodell made that decision, he said that multiple accusations constitute a pattern of behavior, and that when there’s been a pattern established, the NFL will act.

“The issue here is with respect to a pattern of behavior and bad judgments,” Goodell told Dan Patrick in 2010. “You do not have to be convicted or even charged of a crime to be able to demonstrate that you’ve violated a personal conduct policy.”

Peterson has not been convicted, but he has been charged in one case and accused in another. Based on the precedent Goodell set with the Roethlisberger case, there’s more than enough reason to suspend Peterson now.

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Richardson struggles, Bradshaw gives Colts an early lead

richardson AP

Trent Richardson is the starter, but Ahmad Bradshaw is the Colts’ best running back.

Bradshaw played well after replacing Richardson on the Colts’ second drive tonight, extending the drive with a 29-yard gain on fourth-and-1 and later catching a one-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal to give the Colts an early 7-3 lead.

Richardson looked more or less like he’s always looked since the Colts sent a first-round draft pick to Cleveland to acquire him: Slow and plodding, and prone to fumbling. Richardson did break off a nice 15-yard run, but his other four runs went for a total of five yards. Richardson also got bailed out by Reggie Wayne, who pounced on Richardson’s fumble on the Colts’ second drive.

Eventually, the Colts’ coaches may realize that Bradshaw is better than Richardson, just as they eventually realized last year that Donald Brown was better than Richardson. But Eagles fans should hope that realization does not come tonight. The more carries Richardson gets, the better chance the Eagles have of winning.

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Second Adrian Peterson case involves alleged head wound, scar

AdrianPeterson Reuters

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, revered for years as one of the nicest guys in all of sports, is turning out to be anything but nice or reasonable when it comes to administering discipline to his children.

According to KHOU 11 in Houston, the second case against Peterson, which has not yet resulted in criminal charges, arose after he administered a “whooping” to another four-year-old son by creating a head wound that reportedly left a scar over the boy’s right eye.

In a chain of text messages with the boy’s mother, Peterson admits that the wound occurred as Peterson disciplined the boy for cussing at a sibling.

Per the report, Peterson never admits what he struck the boy with, but Peterson told the boy’s mother, “Be still n take ya whooping he would have saved the [scar].”  No charges were filed, according to the report.  The boy’s mother filed a report with Child Protective Services; the outcome of the investigation is unclear.

The fact that Peterson faces allegations in a separate case compels the league to aggressively investigate both incidents, and to take action against Peterson, if the league determines that Peterson did what he is accused of doing.  Failure to act promptly would suggest a level of indifference to child welfare that justifiably should make fans equally indifferent to the NFL.

UPDATE 9:50 p.m. ET:  Peterson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, says that the allegation against Peterson is “simply not true.”

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Reports: Adrian Peterson investigated for another abuse case

adrianpeterson AP

If, as it appears, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson didn’t see anything wrong with spanking one of his children with a switch until the boy’s flesh ripped open and bled, logic suggests that it wasn’t a one-time occurrence.

According to multiple reports, it may not have been.

KHOU 11 in Houston and FOX 9 in Minneapolis report that Peterson has been investigated for a second abuse case involving another one of his sons.

The Vikings reinstated Peterson on Monday after a one-game deactivation arising from Friday’s indictment on charges of reckless of negligent injury to a child in Texas.  Stay tuned for more details regarding the second case.

Peterson is presumed innocent in a court of law.  The Vikings and the NFL will be presumed inept and immoral in the court of public opinion if either or both continue to hide behind Constitutional protections that relate only to the deprivation of a person’s liberty and not to the privilege to play football in exchange for millions of dollars and worldwide fame.

UPDATE 8:05 p.m. ET:  The full report from KHOU 11 indicates that the boy’s mother made a report of the injury to Child Protective Services, but that no charges were filed against Peterson.

UPDATE 9:50 p.m. ET:  Peterson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, says that the allegation against Peterson is “simply not true.”

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Khaled Holmes, Marcus Smith II among inactives for Eagles-Colts

Indianapolis Colts v New York Jets Getty Images

The Colts’ starting center will miss another game.

Khaled Holmes (ankle) is inactive for Monday’s matchup against the Eagles, the Colts announced this evening.

A.Q. Shipley is expected to get the call in place of Holmes, who was questionable on the final injury report. He was a limited practice participant all week.

The Colts’ other inactives are outside linebacker Chris Carter, inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, center Jonotthan Harrison, tailback Dion Lewis, offensive guard Joe Reitz and wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers. Josh McNary will reportedly start for Freeman, who had been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The Eagles made the following players inactive for Monday night: quarterback Matt Barkley, offensive tackle Kevin Graf, defensive end Taylor Hart, wide receiver Josh Huff, linebacker Marcus Smith II, offensive lineman Matt Tobin and defensive back Jaylen Watkins.

Smith, the Eagles’ first-round pick in May, is a healthy scratch. He was active in Week One but did not play.

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Raiders reach one-year deal with Vincent Brown

Vincent Brown AP

The Raiders are adding to their pass catching corps.

The club has reached a one-year contract with ex-Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown, the San Diego Union-Tribune and ESPN reported Monday afternoon.

The deal has yet to be announced, but the club has put a nameplate above a locker for Brown, according to CSN Bay Area.

A fourth-year pro from San Diego State, Brown (5-11, 190) has hauled in 60 passes for 801 yards and three touchdowns in his NFL career, all with San Diego, which drafted him in the third round in 2011.

Brown missed the 2014 preseason with a calf injury and was released with an injury settlement in September. His deal with the Raiders comes after wideout Rod Streater suffered a hip injury in Oakland’s 30-14 loss vs. Houston on Sunday.

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Dennis Allen’s job security already in question in Oakland

dennisallen AP

Raiders coach Dennis Allen was already on the hot seat before the season started. That’s what happens when you go 4-12 in each of your first two seasons.

But after an 0-2 start succinctly summed up by Charles Woodson saying, “We suck,” the question is less whether this will be Allen’s last season in Oakland and more whether Allen will even make it to the end of the season.

Raiders owner Mark Davis is already privately expressing his displeasure, according to CSNBayArea.com, to the point where Allen’s tenure as Raiders coach may come to an end this season. According to the report, the Raiders already have a plan to promote offensive line coach Tony Sparano to head coach if Allen gets fired during the season. Sparano spent four seasons as head coach of the Dolphins and is a more experienced coach than Allen.

Allen knows his team needs to get better.

“We need change,” Allen said after Sunday’s loss to Houston. “We need to do better, because we’re a better football team than what we put out on the field today.”

Allen is running out of time to show he’s a better football coach than what his team has put on the field in his first two-plus seasons.

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Bears place Charles Tillman on injured reserve

Charles Tillman AP

Charles Tillman’s season with Chicago has officially reached a close.

The Bears have placed the 12th-year cornerback on injured reserve with a right triceps injury, the team announced Monday. A similar injury ended his 2013 season.

Tillman, 33, is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He indicated Monday he will work to return from his latest injury, which was suffered in the third quarter of Sunday’s win at San Francisco.

“I know this feeling way too well, but this isn’t the end of the road for me,” Tillman said, according to ChicagoBears.com. “As I rehab my injury, my role will transition to helping coach and support my teammates. I will be at Halas Hall and do everything I can to help our team reach its goals.”

Tillman has played his entire career with Chicago. He was named 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, which recognizes excellence in on-field and community work.

First-round pick Kyle Fuller stepped in for Tillman on Sunday night and starred, intercepting a pair of passes. But losing Tillman’s experience and playmaking ability is certainly a blow to the Bears’ defense. A starter for Chicago since his rookie season of 2003, Tillman has forced 42 fumbles and intercepted 36 passes in regular season play.

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Tom Coughlin: I’m a believer in this team

Arizona Cardinals v New York Giants Getty Images

The Giants piled up another set of mistakes on Sunday during their 25-14 loss to the Cardinals, dropping their record to 0-2 and providing unhappy memories of their start to last season.

Even after opening 0-6, coach Tom Coughlin never stopped selling that 2013 squad as a playoff contender until mathematics made such claims impossible. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Coughlin says he’s “a believer” in this year’s squad and invited his team and the team’s fans to join him as believers with 14 games left to play this season.

“I don’t see this as being a reason for them not to be. Our task and our goal is to toughen up. Let’s go. Come on. Stop beating ourselves. This is professional football,” Coughlin said, via NJ.com. Make the plays necessary to win and do it on a consistent basis. Eliminate these bizarre events which take the heart right out of you. I hope they’ll respond to the fact that I’m counting on them to accept the challenge, to not feel sorry for ourselves and to realize the work that has to be done for us to win. I hope the fans will join in in that exact feeling.”

Coughlin’s passion never fades, but the Giants have faded on the field too often over the last two years to think that they can just flip a switch and start winning again. As Coughlin said, there’s “work that has to be done” and it will have to be done quickly and consistently for the Giants to avoid starting their season in another deep hole.

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Lovie Smith says Doug Martin would have practiced if Bucs practiced

Doug Martin AP

The Buccaneers have a short week this week thanks to their Thursday game against the Falcons and that means they have to produce a simulated practice report for Monday even though they didn’t practice.

Coach Lovie Smith said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, there were three players that wouldn’t have participated in practice and none of them was running back Doug Martin, who missed Sunday’s loss to the Rams with a knee injury. That would suggest he has a chance to get back on the field for this week’s game.

Running the ball wasn’t much of a problem against St. Louis as Bobby Rainey picked up 144 yards on 22 carries. That may work in Martin’s favor when it comes to the decision about dressing him on Thursday since the Bucs wouldn’t need him to be the bell cow in their running game.

Defensive end Michael Johnson was also on the list of Bucs who would have practiced. Johnson missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (broken hand), linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) were the three players who would have been on the sideline at a Monday practice.

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Report: Tavon Austin could miss two weeks with MCL sprain

Tavon Austin AP

The Rams could be without Tavon Austin for the rest of September.

The good news? It’s possible he may miss just one game.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports Austin, the Rams’ 2013 first-round pick, is expected to miss “roughly two weeks” with a sprained MCL suffered in Sunday’s win at Tampa Bay.

The Rams have their bye in Week Four (Sept. 28). In short, if Austin misses just two weeks, the Rams might be without him for just one game. So while this is unwelcome news, the timing couldn’t be much better for St. Louis.

Austin (three catches, 34 yards; five rushes, 26 yards in 2014) is one of the Rams’ primary wide receivers and their top punt returner. Austin Pettis, who made a key 27-yard catch late in the Rams’ 19-17 victory against the Bucs, is listed as the top backup to Tavon Austin both at receiver and on punts.

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Gruden won’t rule out Cousins keeping job over a healthy RG3

cousinsgruden AP

After leading Washington to victory in relief of the injured Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins declared, “This is Robert’s team.” But it may not be RG3’s team for long.

Coach Jay Gruden was asked today if Cousins could play well enough in the coming weeks to hold onto the starting job even after Griffin’s dislocated ankle has healed well enough for him to play. Gruden declined to give a definitive answer.

“We’ll cross that bridge when that comes. Right now we’re going to prepare with Kirk Cousins as our starter, and Robert’s going to rehab. All decisions after that will come after that,” he said.

Cousins played very well on Sunday, completing 22 of 33 passes for 250 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Of course, that was in a home game against Jacksonville, one of the worst teams in the league. But if Cousins plays that well again next week in Philadelphia, and he leads his team to a win on the road against the NFC East rival Eagles, the calls for Cousins to keep the job will increase. If he keeps playing well, it’s going to be hard for Gruden to send him to the bench when Griffin is ready to go.

Gruden, however, isn’t going to commit to either quarterback until he has to.

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Previously, the Vikings have exhibited concern in abuse cases

MJUST1

The Vikings have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they will not tolerate a player laying hands on a family member.

Oh, wait, that was last year with a scrub.

While Adrian Peterson apparently isn’t getting more than a paid weekend off after admitting to beating/disciplining his 4-year-old son, the Vikings have acted swiftly before.

Last November, the Vikings released cornerback A.J. Jefferson less than 24 hours after he was arrested for probable cause for domestic assault. I’d look up the disposition of the case, but it’s not like anyone cares anyway.

Jefferson was a reserve, and not worth the trouble of clattering on about due process while pretending to care about anything but the bottom line, so he was released.

That’s life in the NFL. If you can help a team win, excuses will be made for you no matter how ridiculous they sound falling out of the mouths of the excuse-makers.

That’s not to pile on the Vikings. Everybody does it.

The Panthers released sixth-round linebacker Lawrence Wilson in 2011, five days after he was arrested for driving in possession of marijuana (and perhaps because he cried in front of the cops). He was on the practice squad at the time, after they realized he wasn’t worth that sixth-round pick.

But Greg Hardy was arrested in May and found guilty by a judge in July of assaulting his then-girlfriend and communicating threats, including saying he’d kill her and throwing her into a futon full of guns.

He played in the opener at Tampa, and it took video of Ray Rice punching his wife in the face to force them to deactivate him Sunday (that was some punch, that it was felt 450 miles away in Charlotte).

The league can hire women into prestigious jobs with titles and salaries, and they can educate and legislate, but until the paying customers demand accountability from everyone involved — and not just the disposable — nothing is going to change.

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