Skip to content

PFT’s Week One picks

hi-res-136326334_crop_exact Getty Images

With the start of the NFL regular season comes the start of a new picks competition.  This year, MDS will pit his prognostication skills against the proprietor of this portal.  At least I can proudly say I’m currently tied for the lead at 0-0.

And given that we disagree on only one game, I’m guaranteed to be no more than one game back after one week.

Cowboys at Giants

Florio’s take:  That Dallas playoff win by the Giants in 2007 not only fueled a Super Bowl run but also sparked the first of seven wins by New York in nine games against their NFC East rivals.  Underestimated by many (not me) as they try to become the first team to repeat in nearly a decade, the Giants should be able to continue the string of eight straight defending champs who launch the ensuing season with a win.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 30, Cowboys 24.

MDS’s take: I’m tempted to pick the upset in an attempt to put some distance between myself and Florio right off the bat, but this looks like a tough game for the Cowboys to win. The Giants’ pass rush is going to give Tony Romo fits, and Romo likely won’t have his favorite target, tight end Jason Witten. The Super Bowl champions will begin the 2012 regular season the way they ended the 2011 regular season, by beating the Cowboys.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Cowboys 14.

Colts at Bears

Florio’s take:  In 1961, a far less heralded rookie quarterback who would become a Hall of Famer launched his career with the Vikings (and the life of an expansion team) with a win over the Bears.  Though the Colts in many ways feel like a first-year franchise, lightning likely won’t be striking again, 51 years later.  Andrew Luck looks to be the real thing, but he’ll have to wait for a Week Two visit from the Vikings to get his first NFL win.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 27, Colts 13.

MDS’s take: Andrew Luck has looked outstanding in the preseason, but I’m not falling into the trap of thinking a new franchise quarterback means the Colts are going to pick up right where they left off when Peyton Manning was healthy. Even if Luck is outstanding when the games count for real, the Colts have all kinds of problems on defense, and I like Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte to have big games on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Colts 17.

Eagles at Browns

Florio’s take:  A reunion of the Green Bay mafia will be conducted on Sunday, with various branches of the Mike Holmgren tree coming together in Cleveland.  But the Factory of Sadness will likely continue to churn out chagrin for the denizens of the Dawg Pound.  Though Mike Vick may not be able to stay healthy all season, he’ll be ready go to in Week One.  And so will the rest of his teammates.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 35, Browns 20.

MDS’s take: I’m not sold on the Eagles, but I am sold on the Browns — sold on the idea that they’re the worst team in the league this year. It’s going to be a rough season in Cleveland.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 17, Browns 7.

Rams at Lions

Florio’s take:  Even when the Rams won the Super Bowl, they couldn’t win in Detroit.  Now that the Lions are moving closer to a Super Bowl berth of their own, this one could get ugly.  Quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Rams 10.

MDS’s take: Jeff Fisher is going to turn the Rams around, and they’re going to be a much better team this season than they were last season. An upset over the team coached by Fisher’s old protege Jim Schwartz wouldn’t surprise me, but I’ll pick Detroit in a nail-biter.

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Rams 20.

Dolphins at Texans

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins won’t truly experience Hard Knocks until they get a look at the Texans’ defense.  I rarely predict a shutout.  It’s not really all that much of a stretch on this one.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 20, Dolphins 0.

MDS’s take: This looks like Week One’s biggest mismatch. Ryan Tannehill will have a steep learning curve adjusting to the NFL, while Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and the Texans’ offense will be in midseason form. This is a beatdown.

MDS’s pick: Texans 34, Dolphins 7.

Falcons at Chiefs

Florio’s take:  Last year, I had a feeling that the much-hyped Falcons wouldn’t fare well on a Week One trip to the Midwest, against the Bears.  This year, the Falcons are on the road to the Heartland again, against the Chiefs.  But they’ve got too much firepower, notwithstanding the firewater-influenced fanatics at Arrowhead.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Chiefs 24.

MDS’s take: Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel has expressed disappointment with his team’s performance in the preseason, and with good reason.  The Chiefs have looked shaky on both sides of the ball. Kansas City
got off to a very rough start last season and never recovered, and the start of this season could be rough as well.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Chiefs 10.

Jaguars at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The battle for Matt Barkley would have been a hell of a lot more compelling in Week 17.  When the talent level is equally suspect, the home team gets the edge.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 20, Jaguars 17.

MDS’s take: Who’s more likely to play and play well in this one, Maurice Jones-Drew or Adrian Peterson? Jones-Drew is healthy and says he’s been staying in shape, but one week isn’t enough to completely learn an offense after a lengthy holdout, and I see Jones-Drew struggling early this season in much the same way Chris Johnson did last season. Peterson didn’t play at all in the preseason, but from all accounts he has recovered from last year’s season-ending torn ACL, and I like him to have a big game in Week One.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 23, Jaguars 16.

Redskins at Saints

Florio’s take:  In a May appearance on PFT Live, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan joked that he hoped Saints quarterback Drew Brees would be suspended for Week One.  That would have been Washington’s only chance to steal a win in a Superdome that will be rocking almost as loud as it was the night they reopened the place in 2006.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 38, Redskins 22.

MDS’s take: The Saints feel like they have a point to prove, and they’ll be motivated, and the Superdome will be a hostile environment for Robert Griffin III. I think the Redskins’ offense is going to be better than most people expect, and they’ll put some points on the board against the Saints, but Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense will score more.

MDS’s pick: Saints 27, Redskins 24.

Bills at Jets

Florio’s take:  Lost in the hand-wringing regarding the Jets’ offense is the fact that the defense is still pretty good.  Good enough to outscore a Bills team that, while improving, isn’t ready to steal one on the road to start the season.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 15, Bills 10.

MDS’s take: This looks to me like one of the most interesting matchups of Week One, because the Jets are desperate to show that their terrible offensive showing in the preseason didn’t mean anything. Unfortunately for the Jets, I think the Bills, bolstered by the addition of Mario Williams, have exactly the kind of defense that can pressure Mark Sanchez and force him into a multiple-turnover game. The
chants for Tim Tebow be deafening by the end of this game.

MDS’s pick: Bills 10, Jets 3.

Patriots at Titans

Florio’s take:  The last time these two teams got together, the Patriots scored 59, and the Titans scored nothing.  While much has changed in Tennessee since 2009, enough players are still there to remind the teammates and the coaches of that day.  And it would matter if the Titans had the horses of defense to keep up with New England’s offense.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Titans 26.

MDS’s take: The consistency of the Patriots in the salary-cap era in the NFL is nothing short of remarkable. The Patriots look, once again, like one of the best teams in the NFL, and Bill Belichick’s defense will give fits to Titans quarterback Jake Locker, making his first NFL start.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Titans 17.

Seahawks at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals didn’t have a shot at quarterback Russell Wilson, given that they sent their second-round pick to Philadelphia for a quarterback who is now second string.  But coach Ken Whisenhunt may be wishing that the team had traded up six spots to get the Seahawks’ new starter; Wilson looks to be better than anything the Cardinals have at the position, which may be enough to pull off a Week One division road win.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 24, Cardinals 21.

MDS’s take: Russell Wilson emerged as the starter in Seattle after one of the most impressive performances in the NFL preseason, while John Skelton became the starter by default in Arizona because Kevin Kolb was one of the least impressive players in the NFL preseason. Advantage: Seattle.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Cardinals 20.

49ers at Packers

Florio’s take:  When one of the best offenses meets one of the best defenses, the game will turn on how the other offense fares against the other defense.  The Packers defense has improved just enough to hold serve at Lambeau Field in the season opener.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 30, 49ers 27.

MDS’s take: The NFL schedule makers gave us a potential NFC Championship Game preview in Week One, and I see the Packers’ offense picking right up where they left off last year — and the Packers’ defense looking better.

MDS’s pick: Packers 27, 49ers 14.

Panthers at Buccaneers

Florio’s take:  The Bucs are laying the foundation for a very good team.  The Panthers are on the brink of being a very good team.  Cam Newton will be out to prove last year was no fluke, and an improved defense will keep it from turning into a shootout.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 31, Buccaneers 21.

MDS’s take: Cam Newton won’t have a sophomore slump — he’ll be every bit the player this year that he as a rookie, and the Panthers will have a better team around him. Greg Schiano will turn the Bucs around, but there are going to be growing pains along the way, and they’ll struggle against the Panthers’ offense. This will be the Panthers’ first statement that they’re a team to be reckoned with in the NFC.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 30, Buccaneers 14.

Steelers at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Some say this could be the highest-rated regular-season game in NFL history.  Though the 1985 Bears-Dolphins game ultimately may keep the crown, the return of Peyton Manning could set the high-water mark for the entire 2012 season.  He wouldn’t have come back if he couldn’t get it done, and the Steelers have too many issues to come out of the gates with a road win.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Steelers 17.

MDS’s take: This is a rematch of last year’s playoff meeting, but it’s a very different game with Peyton Manning at the helm in Denver and Tim Tebow off running the wildcat with the Jets. The result, however, will be similar: In a close, competitive game, the Broncos’ offense will get a late score to win it.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Steelers 17.

Bengals at Ravens

Florio’s take:  Cincinnati gets its first chance in 2012 to win a game that it shouldn’t.  Though in time those wins will come, the Ravens have too much talent on both sides of the ball.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 31, Bengals 24.

MDS’s take: The Bengals took a big step forward last year with the emergence of a young offense led by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. This is an opportunity for them to make a very big statement about re-ordering the AFC North, but I see the Ravens’ defense making a big statement that they’re not going to let their young rivals get the best of them just yet.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Bengals 13.

Chargers at Raiders

Florio’s take:  Oakland is taking a step back in the hopes of eventually taking a giant leap forward.  The Chargers are trying to finally put the pieces together.  For now, advantage Chargers.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 27, Raiders 21.

MDS’s take: In the game that will have those in the Eastern time zone drinking coffee late into Monday night and showing up to work bleary-eyed on Tuesday morning, the Chargers will get a big game from Philip Rivers and get a leg up on the Raiders in the AFC West.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 27, Raiders 21.

Permalink 84 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories

LeSean McCoy throws some shade Chris Johnson’s way

LeSean McCoy AP

Maybe Eagles running back LeSean McCoy’s feelings were a little hurt, that former teammate Michael Vick was willing to race him last year, but won’t run against new Jets teammate Chris Johnson.

So the man called Shady threw some shade in the direction of the artist formerly known as CJ2K.

“That’s Mike for you,” McCoy said, via Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. “Ask him who the best back is, he’ll tell you me.”

While few would argue that McCoy is the better back at the moment, the insecurity is a bit troubling. And Vick might not want to dump on his new teammate just to spare the feelings of a former, slower one.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jerry Jones was “that close” to taking Johnny Manziel

Romo AP

Yes, the Cowboys were close to drafting Johnny Manziel.  How close?

Very close.

“I want you to know that almost as I was handing in the card, it was that close to putting that Manziel card in. It was that close,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sunday on NFL Network, via Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  “I looked over to my son, Stephen . . . and I said, ‘I took the right pick.  [Zack Martin] was the top player by three players on our board at the time that we were sitting there looking at [Manziel]. . . .  The question was, ‘Could we make it work with Tony Romo during the period of time that we are going to have Tony?’  And by the way, my expectations are that Tony will be our quarterback several years to come as we move along.”

It’s easy for Jones to say that now.  In fact, it’s necessary, given that the Cowboys didn’t pick Manziel.  But if Manziel had been the pick, how many years could the Cowboys have parked him on the bench behind Romo?  And how relentless would the questions have been regarding Manziel’s elevation to starter?

“Manziel is special,” Jones said.  “I know him personally. I know that he is going to be a success in the National Football League, and it was a hard decision. And it is one that I will probably have for the rest of my career think about.”

Jones won’t have to personally confront the decision until 2016, when the Cowboys are due to visit Cleveland.  If Romo’s back problems have forced him to retire by then and if Manziel has become a quality starter, Jones will be thinking about it a lot.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Colts cut Chris Rainey

rainey AP

So much for Chris Rainey doing “anything and everything” for the Colts this year.

Rainey, the running back and return man who appeared to be ready to compete for a big role in the offense after the injury to Vick Ballard, has instead been released. The Colts announced the move in a brief statement today.

No reason for Rainey’s release was given, but the timing is odd, both because the Ballard injury has the Colts thin at running back and because just days ago coach Chuck Pagano spoke glowingly about Rainey in practice.

Rainey was drafted by the Steelers in 2012 and had just 26 carries for 102 yards as a rookie, and the Steelers cut him when he was arrested shortly after his rookie year ended. Rainey signed with the Colts late last season and played only sparingly as a return man in two games. Now he’ll be placed on waivers, and we’ll see whether any other team wants to put in a claim for a player who says he can do “anything and everything” with the ball in his hands.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Coughlin beyond disappointed that Odell Beckham can’t practice

Odell Beckham AP

The Giants are looking forward to first-round wide receiver Odell Beckham having a big impact this year.

But so far, they haven’t seen him do much, and that has Giants coach Tom Coughlin moving beyond simple disappointment.

“It’s more than that,” Coughlin said, via Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. “Sure it is. You’re trying to put a team together. We saw too much of that in the spring.”

The “that” Coughlin was referring to was the hamstring strain that kept him out of minicamp, and came back the first day of camp. Beckham was in full pads like everybody else Sunday, but he was limited, catching punts but not running with them.

It would be nice to get him back practicing,” Coughlin said. “He actually looks pretty good out there. He’s moving around, catching the ball, he doesn’t favor anything. I’m just hoping it’s a real short amount of time. . . .

“They’re not going to let him go if he’s in danger of hurting himself. That’s all there is to it. I can stand there all I want, but it’s not going to happen. When they think he can go and not risk recurring injury, they’ll let him go.”

You can practically see Coughlin steaming as he says it, wishing Beckham could rub some dirt on it and get back out there, but helpless against the forces of modern medicine.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Randall Cobb doesn’t believe he’s done enough for a big deal

Randall Cobb AP

Jordy Nelson got paid over the weekend, leaving Randall Cobb as the next Packers wide receiver likely to sign a contract extension with the team.

Cobb says his heart is in Green Bay and that he’d like to stay with the team, but that he isn’t aware of any contract talks between the team and his agent at the moment. That suits Cobb, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, just fine as he says he’s content to focus on doing enough on the field this season to earn an extended deal.

“I don’t believe I’ve done enough and I think that’s on me,” Cobb said, via ESPN.com.

Cobb broke his leg last season, missing 10 games and it would be harder to say that there was still more to do in order to be worthy of an extension. Cobb caught 80 passes for 954 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012 and was on pace for even bigger numbers when he got hurt. Should Cobb and Aaron Rodgers both remain healthy this season, the wideout’s numbers probably won’t leave much doubt about his value to the offense or whether he’s earned an extension.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Suspension looming, Lane Johnson slides to second team

Lane AP

Lost in last week’s news of the Ray Rice suspension was the news of the Lane Johnson suspension.  The fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft will miss twice as many games for Rice because, according to the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, he took a prescription medication that he didn’t realize appears on the NFL’s list of banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Based on those facts — accidentally taking a prescription medication versus knocking out a female in a casino elevator — it seems like an unfair result.  But Johnson can say whatever he wants about how the violation arose, and there’s nothing the league can do about it under the current drug policies.

“As a professional, you’re supposed to be aware of what you put in your body and take precautions,” Johnson said upon arriving at camp, via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia News. “That’s something I didn’t do, and now I pay the price.”

The league’s strict-liability, no-questions-asked PED policy creates an environment in which innocent, unintended violations trigger automatic suspensions.  Which has created a P.R. safe harbor for cheaters.  Apparently, the policy never actually ensnares a deliberate cheat; everyone popped for a four-game ban has an excuse that looks good on the surface — especially if the players refuses to go beneath the surface with his explanation.

In Johnson’s case, he declined to discuss the prescription medication he took, or the condition for which it was prescribed.  Which causes some to think there wasn’t one.

Regardless, coach Chip Kelly has moved Johnson to the second team for the start of training camp, since the team has to prepare Allen Barbre to handle the job while Johnson is away.

“We still have to develop Lane,” Kelly told reporters on Saturday.  “So he’ll get reps, but they won’t be with the first team right now.”

Some of that may be punitive, based on Kelly’s views regarding the manner in which the violation arose.

“There’s also some individual responsibility that goes with the player,” Kelly said regarding the question of whether the Eagles failed to properly oversee Johnson’s activities.  “So, you know, if the answer is, I didn’t know.  They know.  They get tested at the Combine.  They get tested anywhere.  Any one of these guys that comes from an NCAA institution knows they get tested.  They’re also their own men.  It’s no different than if you got pulled over for a DUI, you’re going to turn around and tell your employers, I didn’t know I couldn’t do that.  They’re adults.  They’re going to make mistakes.  They’re going to pay a hefty price for those mistakes.  They’re going to miss four games, four game checks.  Hopefully that works.”

For Johnson, who coincidentally (or not) gained nine pounds in the offseason, the message apparently has been sent from the league.  If Barbre plays well during Johnson’s four game absence, Kelly may decide to keep sending the message beyond Week Four to the guy who started 16 games as a rookie.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Monday morning one-liners

Aqib Talib AP

G Kraig Urbik caught a touchdown pass during Bills practice.

Rishard Matthews is making a strong bid for a roster spot.

Patriots RB Stevan Ridley is trying to be a leader this season.

G Willie Colon is off the PUP list and practicing for the Jets.

Some Ravens veterans got Sunday off from practice.

Bengals DL Devon Still’s daughter is fighting a battle against cancer.

WR Nate Burleson thinks the Browns will be fine regardless of who plays quarterback.

There are high hopes for Steelers rookie WR Martavis Bryant.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t singling out anyone positively or negatively after practice this weekend.

Colts DE Cory Redding knows his career is winding down.

Sunday brought a few scuffles to Jaguars camp.

Titans RB Dexter McCluster is eager to show that he can take a hit.

CB Aqib Talib got a warm welcome at Broncos practice.

TE Demetrius Harris thinks he can win a job with the Chiefs.

WR Greg Little is enjoying a second chance with the Raiders.

The Chargers gave rookie CB Jason Verrett a look as a returner.

WR Dez Bryant’s credibility has grown in the Cowboys locker room.

Giants RB Andre Williams will try anything to improve as a pass catcher.

Said Eagles DE Fletcher Cox, “Basically, it’s got to be one of my better years this year, my third year going in. I’ve got two years under my belt. Hey, I’m ready to take off.”

LB Keenan Robinson draws on memories of London Fletcher as he helps set the Redskins defense.

Bears P Pat O’Donnell has been dubbed “Mega-Punt” by camp observers.

QB Matthew Stafford has been picking up the Lions’ offense.

Micah Hyde is doing his best to win a starting safety job with the Packers.

The Vikings would like a physical presence at fullback.

Dwight Lowery has made a quick impression at safety for the Falcons.

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert has lost weight, but hopefully not his toughness.

WR Brandin Cooks is learning fast at his first Saints training camp.

Buccaneers S Mark Barron is working to get his knee 100 percent before the start of the season.

Cardinals DT Dan Williams left practice with a knee injury.

Catching up with some long shots for the Rams roster.

Do the 49ers have reason to worry about their backup cornerbacks?

Dropped passes were prevalent at Sunday’s Seahawks practice.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Caldwell thinks a deal with Ndamukong Suh will get done

Ndamukong Suh AP

Lions coach Jim Caldwell doesn’t agree with the recent report that the Lions aren’t optimistic about a long-term contract with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Asked if he thinks the Lions can keep Suh long term, Caldwell said he believes they can, noting that the team views Suh as a building block and saying that Suh showed up to training camp in phenomenal shape.

“Absolutely,” Caldwell said, via the Detroit News. “I’m always optimistic . . . and I think without question [Lions management and Suh’s agent] are working at it. And I think something will be done at the appropriate time.”

Suh’s enormous cap number of $22.4 million this year — and the fact that franchising him next year would cost a whopping $26.9 million — makes it easy to see why the Lions would love to work out a long-term deal that provides them with some immediate cap relief. But it also makes it easy to see why Suh is tempted to simply play out his deal. The Lions probably wouldn’t franchise him because they wouldn’t want to eat that cap hit, which means Suh would hit the open market after this season.

Caldwell may have reasons to be optimistic about getting a deal done with Suh, but Suh has even more reasons to be optimistic that he’s going to get paid a fortune over the coming years, from the Lions or some other team.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

LaMichael James likely to miss preseason with dislocated elbow

LaMichael James, Colin Kaepernick AP

The good news for 49ers running back LaMichael James is that he is expected to be ready to go by Week One after suffering a practice injury on Sunday. The bad news is that the inexperienced James won’t benefit from any preseason experience.

James suffered a dislocated left elbow that will take about a month to heal, meaning he’s likely out for the entire preseason, ESPN reports. The 24-year-old James has just 39 carries for 184 yards so far in his NFL career, and the 49ers would have liked to see him get more action in the preseason, especially after they already lost running back Kendall Hunter for the entire season when he suffered a torn ACL on Friday.

The 49ers suddenly find themselves thin at running back, a position where they expected to be deep. In addition to the Hunter and James injuries, 2013 fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore is still not practicing because he’s still not 100 percent recovered from the serious knee injury he suffered at South Carolina in 2012.

After starter Frank Gore, the only 49ers running backs able to practice right now are second-round pick Carlos Hyde and former practice-squad player Jewel Hampton.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rudolph gets $6.5 million to sign on deal with maximum value of $40 million

Rudolph AP

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has a new five-year extension, announced tonight by the team and reportedly carrying a base value of $36.5 million.  A source with knowledge of the terms has shared some additional details with PFT.

Rudolph gets a $6.5 million signing bonus.  Along with a technically non-guaranteed but as a practical matter fully guaranteed base salary of $956,343 for 2014, Rudolph definitely will earn $7.456 million in the next five months.

Per the source, the deal has another $12 million in injury-only guarantees that eventually convert to full guarantees on the third day of a given league year.  (The number of years over which the guaranteed money is spread isn’t currently known.  Until the relevant dates pass and the money becomes fully guaranteed, it’s not actually or practically guaranteed.)

On the back end, Rudolph earns an extra $750,000 for each year in which he catches 80 passes, and $500,000 for each year he makes it to the Pro Bowl.  Over five years, that’s a total of $6.25 million in available incentives, but the total he can earn through these accomplishments is capped at a total of $3.5 million.

The base new-money value of $7.3 million puts him behind only Jimmy Graham ($10 million in new money), Rob Gronkowski ($9 million), Jason Witten ($7.4 million), and Vernon Davis ($7.35 million).  A single 80-catch season will throw another $0.25 million on the annual average, vaulting Rudolph ahead of Witten and Davis.

Eighty catches won’t be a breeze, but in Norv Turner’s offense it’s a distinct possibility.

Permalink 52 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Vikings strike five-year deal with Kyle Rudolph

Kyle Rudolph AP

The Vikings have signed one of their core offensive players to a contract extension.

The club confirmed Sunday night it had reached a new deal with 24-year-old tight end Kyle Rudolph, who was entering the final year of his contract.

According to FOX’s Jay Glazer — who first reported news of the extension — Rudolph received a five-year, $36.5 million contract from Minnesota.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports the new deal makes Rudolph the game’s fifth highest-paid tight end.

Rudolph has hauled in 109 passes for 1,055 yards and 15 touchdowns in three NFL seasons, all with Minnesota. The Vikings selected Rudolph in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He played collegiately at Notre Dame.

“I’m extremely excited to get this extension completed and continue my career with the Minnesota Vikings,” Rudolph said in a statement issued by the club Sunday night. “I’ve said all along I wanted to stay in Minnesota. I love the fans, the community and, most importantly, I’m excited about where this team is going. I’m looking forward to the 2014 season and helping this organization reach our ultimate goal.”

Permalink 18 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Christine Michael bangs up shoulder

Seahawks AP

As the Marshawn Lynch holdout lingers, his leverage spikes if/when any of the team’s alternatives at tailback gets injured.

If became when on Sunday, when second-year running back Christine Michael left practice with a shoulder injury.

“He just banged his shoulder a little bit,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters after practice.  “They think he will be ready to go on Tuesday.”

The injury serves as a reminder that Plan B can quickly becomes Plan C and so on, unless and until Lynch returns to the fold.  There’s been no progress along those lines, with Lynch wanting a new contract and the Seahawks refusing to rip up the last two seasons of a four-year, $30 million deal.

Permalink 26 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ron Rivera: De’Quan Menzie is retiring

Arizona Cardinals v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Panthers waived defensive back De’Quan Menzie on Saturday.

And now, it appears the third-year pro could be electing to end his career.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera indicated Sunday that the 24-year-old Menzie was retiring.

Menzie’s verified Twitter account had the following post Sunday: “Officially done….”

An Alabama product, Menzie (5-11, 200) was a fifth-round selection of Kansas City in 2012. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve (hip flexor). After being waived by Kansas City in May 2013, Menzie had a brief stint with Detroit before being waived in August 2013. The Panthers signed Menzie to a futures contract in January 2014.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

LaMichael James carted off during 49ers practice

James Getty Images

Another day, another injured tailback in San Francisco.

Via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, third-year running back LaMichael James was carted off during practice with an apparent wrist/arm injury.

James, who has appeared in only 14 regular-season games in two NFL seasons, has a chance to show that he can contribute to the base offense following the season-ending ACL injury suffered on Friday by Kendall Hunter.  While the specific nature and severity of the injury isn’t known, guys usually don’t get carted off with arm/wrist injuries.

Before practice, coach Jim Harbaugh said that the team has “complete and total confidence” in James, who along with Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Hyde will be counted on to make an impact, especially with Hunter done for the year.

In two seasons, James has only 39 regular-season rushing attempts for 184 yards.  He has caught five passes for 45 yards.  His primary contributions have come as a kickoff and punt returner, with 49 total returns in two season.

Permalink 53 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

McCoy, Cole downplay practice-field fracas

McCoy AP

On Sunday, during the second practice of camp and a day before the pads go on, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy took issue with a hit from defensive end Trent Cole, sparking the first fight of the year.  After the session ended, Cole and McCoy downplayed the exchange of pleasantries.

I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Cole said, via Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com.  “That’s my brother, man.  We were just playing around.  We’re competitors.  We’re very competitive.”

McCoy was a little less willing to let it all go.  But he seems to have moved on, too.

“The whole camp so far, it’s been touching a little too much,” McCoy said. “I’m trying to let them know, ‘It’s OK if you can’t cover me.’”

Defensive end Brandon Graham, who was in the middle of the melee but called himself a spectator, initially tried to describe the hit as a “nudge.”

“You know, it wasn’t really a nudge because it was 270 [pounds] against 200,” Graham said.  “I wasn’t taking it that seriously because it was just a regular catfight.”

But Graham admitted there’s no place for fighting or otherwise hurting teammates.

“You gotta draw the line,” Graham said.  “You gotta take care of each out out here.  Even when we get pads on you can’t just be out here trying to kill everybody, because we do got to have them for the season.  But [Monday] is gonna be a lot of aggression.”

Coach Chip Kelly isn’t a fan of aggression that results in fights — cat-style or otherwise — between guys who wear the same uniform.  Kelly may need to send a clear message to his players to keep things from getting out of control.

Permalink 15 Comments Feed for comments Back to top