Skip to content

Texans take it to the Broncos as Peyton’s comeback falls short

Reuters

The Houston Texans might just be the best team in the NFL. They sure looked like it on Sunday in Denver.

Houston jumped out to a 31-11 lead against the Broncos on Sunday, then withstood a late comeback attempt by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to hold on and win 31-25.

Few teams in the NFL have the kind of balanced offense that the Texans have. Matt Schaub had four touchdown passes and Arian Foster went over 100 yards, and the Texans showed once again that they can beat teams through the air or on the ground. This offense is really, really good.

And the defense is good, too. The Texans bottled up Broncos running backs Wills McGahee, Lance Ball and Ronnie Hillman all day, and for most of the game they bottled up Manning, too.

However, no one is going to bottle up Manning all day. If anyone doubts that Manning can still play quarterback at a high level, those doubts should have been erased in the fourth quarter in Denver, when Manning marched the Broncos down the field and threw two touchdown passes. Questions were raised last week about Manning’s arm strength, but on Sunday Manning’s arm looked fine. He threw the ball well and had a particularly good pass to Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, a pass that would have put the Broncos right back in the ball game except that Thomas couldn’t get his second foot down before stepping out of the back of the end zone.

Unfortunately, by the time Manning finally got the ball back with a chance to win the game, there were only 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and he was backed up on his own 14-yard line. That was too much to ask for even Manning.

Still, Manning and the Broncos still look like a good team, even with a 1-2 record. They just don’t look as good as the undefeated Texans.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Not much suspense left for Raiders to Las Vegas vote

Getty Images

NFL owners just walked into their opening session of a meeting at which they’ll decide the destination of the Raiders.

And there’s not much suspense left as to how the vote is going to go.

The sense of optimism as the owners walked into the Arizona Biltmore Resort was real, and no one expects anything but affirmation for the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas.

“We’ll find out tomorrow,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said as he walked into the meeting. “It’s gonna be an exciting day for Vegas.”

When Patriots owner Robert Kraft walked by moments earlier, he was asked if he thought the Raiders had the votes need (24) to approve the move.

“Hope so,” Kraft said as he passed.

That was the prevailing sentiment, as commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN earlier there wasn’t much reason to think another outcome was possible.

“I think we will have a vote, and I think we will have a positive vote,” Goodell said. “I think we are in pretty good shape.”

The actually balloting will happen tomorrow, but no one has voiced any opposition, with Chargers owner Dean Spanos among those saying he’d vote for the proposal as well.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bears, Packers cornerbacks both arrested in Iowa

Deiondre' Hall Getty Images

Two former college teammates who play for rival NFL teams reportedly were arrested together Saturday evening following an incident at a bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Bears cornerback Deiondre’ Hall was cited under suspicion of interference, disorderly conduct and public intoxication; Packers cornerback Makinton Dorleant was booked for alleged interference, according to KWWL, an NBC affiliate in Eastern Iowa.

Dorleant’s agent declined comment. Hall’s was unavailable to speak by phone, he said.

Both players entered the NFL in 2016 from Northern Iowa.

Hall, 22, was a fourth-round pick who finished with seven tackles, an interception and three passes defensed in eight games. Dorleant, 24, played four games for Green Bay as an undrafted rookie. He made one tackle while predominantly seeing time on special teams.

According to multiple reports, Hall was tasered during the incident.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL hires a new chief medical officer, a neurologist

Getty Images

The NFL has hired a new top doctor to help with their concussion issue. And this time, he’s not a rheumatologist.

The league announced they had hired Dr. Allen Sills as their chief medical officer, a new full-time position they’ve created.

Sills was most recently a professor of neurological surgery, orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation at Vanderbilt, and was the founder and co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

“There is no higher priority for the NFL than player health and safety and we continually seek to raise our standards and then surpass them,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in their release. “We sought a highly-credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician and researcher, and Dr. Sills’ extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position.”

Regardless Sills’ resume, which is extensive and impressive, that’s a long way from the league hiring Jets team doctor Elliott Pellman, the rheumatologist and Paul Tagliabue’s personal physician they put in charge of the league’s concussion committee. Pellman has since been nudged into retirement.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lions RB Theo Riddick had surgery to both wrists

Getty Images

Theo Riddick, one of the NFL’s premier passing-game backs, is usually mindful of his hands.

This off-season, the attention is on his wrists.

The Lions veteran underwent surgery to both wrists following his December placement on injured reserve. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Riddick is expected to be ready for organized team activities, which begin in May.

Ability is less the issue in the Lions’ backfield.

Durability is.

Between ankle and wrist ailments, Riddick missed six games in 2016. He still finished with 53 receptions for 371 yards and five touchdowns while adding a career-high 357 rushing yards and a score. Ameer Abdullah suffered a Week 2 foot injury that ended his season. He also is expected to be ready for OTAs.

No Lions player gained more than 70 rushing yards in a single game last season.

Birkett postulated the team “could look to add a running back high in April’s draft or sign an aging veteran as insurance.” The April 27-29 draft is widely viewed to be well stocked at the position.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Panthers defend letting Cam Newton play through shoulder injury

Getty Images

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton suffered a shoulder injury in Week 14, and last week decided to have surgery to repair the shoulder. Now the Panthers are facing questions about why Newton played the final weeks of the season after Carolina had been eliminated from playoff contention if his throwing shoulder was injured badly enough that he’d eventually need surgery.

But Carolina G.M. Dave Gettleman says the Panthers still try to win even when they’re out of playoff contention, Newton wanted to play and the medical staff thought he could.

We are in the business of winning,” Gettleman said, via the Charlotte Observer. “That’s what we’re here for. I just know that’s my responsibility – put the best club on the field and to win games, that’s Ron [Rivera’s] job. That’s why we’re all here. You talk about our culture here and the No. 1 priority is winning football games. Those conversations happen. Cam’s a football player. He wanted to play and the medical people felt it was fine, so we did.”

As Newton was playing hurt, the Panthers were shutting down Luke Kuechly with a concussion, but Gettleman says it’s not fair to compare the two situations.

“It’s two different cases and I’m not going to go down there,” he said. “There’s always conversations with injuries. We have this crazy idea we should care about them as people. They’re going to have long lives beyond their NFL careers.”

Unlike a concussion, Newton’s shoulder injury isn’t the kind of ailment that raises concerns about his life after football. And so the Panthers said he could keep going at the end of 2016, even if it affects his readiness when training camp opens in 2017.

Permalink 28 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Vegas gambling issues falling on deaf ears within NFL

Getty Images

When it comes to the potential practical consequences of putting a professional football team in Las Vegas, the NFL isn’t completely ignoring the situation. It seems, however, that not nearly enough people are taking the situation as seriously as they should.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, some are indeed sounding alarms about moving a team to the nation’s gambling capital. Those alarms seem to be obscured by the sound of the league’s looming jackpot.

As noted on Saturday, the NFL can’t (and thus isn’t even trying to) reconcile its desire to put a team in Las Vegas with its supposed aversion to all things gambling. But if, after the owners get together this week with a chance for any opponents to chime in, the league gives the Raiders the green light to leave Oakland for Las Vegas, it will be important for both the team and the NFL to have clear plans in place for plopping players, coaches, executives, and other team employees into a place where gambling is more prevalent than good food quickly.

Put simply, players and their families will be moving into a place where gambling is everywhere. While some have argued that nearly any player on any team already is within driving distance of a casino, casinos in most places are destinations. In Las Vegas, where both casino games and sports betting are legal, a player can’t walk out of his apartment without being smacked in the face by the “here it is, why aren’t you here?” prevalance of it.

At some point, the lure of gambling will tempt everyone — even those who believe they are sufficiently self-disciplined to avoid it. At some point, someone connected to the team will develop a gambling problem. At some point, someone with a gambling problem will develop a significant gambling debt. At some point, someone with a significant gambling debt will be ripe to be compromised.

The league needs to be ready to prevent it (which may be impossible) and to spot it when it happens (which may be just as difficult). And even if the league manages to keep it from ever happen for the duration of the Raiders’ stay in Las Vegas, the league needs to be ready to hear more of the same-old conspiracies about corrupt officiating and points shaving, realizing that a layer of craps-table felt will make the tin-foil hats seem less nutty.

Permalink 88 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Seahawks keep adding linebackers

Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks have used 2017 free agency to load up in one specific area of the roster. They’ve now added three veteran linebackers to the team.

Via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, the Seahawks have signed Terence Garvin. The former West Virginia defender (he played there with former Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin) spent 2016 with Washington. Before that, Garvin had three years with the Steelers.

He joins Arthur Brown and Michael Wilhoite as new Seattle linebackers. Beyond adding depth to the linebacking corps, Garvin will help on special teams. As Condotta notes, the departure of tight end Brandon Williams created a need on the third leg of the football stool.

Garvin, 26, has played in 59 career regular-season games with one start in four NFL seasons.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Franco Harris: I have no pain, but if I ever do I’ll use marijuana

Getty Images

Franco Harris played in the NFL into his mid-30s, carried the ball more than 3,000 times, and often lined up as a blocking fullback on plays when he didn’t get the ball. He also played in an era of full-contact practices that would make today’s players weep. Throw in his status as a three-year starter at Penn State and his high school football career, and it’s safe to say he was in tens of thousands of collisions on the football field.

And he has something surprising to say: At age 67, he feels fine, mentally and physically.

“Even during my playing days, I really didn’t have to do anything with pain management,” Harris told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ve never had any long-term pain. I’ve been pretty lucky all the way back to high school. I’m even more amazed that at 67 I’m not dealing with more issues.”

But Harris knows the time may come when an old football injury — or just age — catches up with him. And as a result, he’s become an advocate for marijuana as a safer painkiller than opioids.

“I will tell you this, if it ever comes to a point where I do need pain management, I’d feel very lucky and happy now that we have medicinal marijuana in Pennsylvania,” Harris said.

Harris is urging the NFL to take marijuana off its banned substance list and allow players to use it if prescribed by a doctor, which is now legal in most states.

“The NFL is reviewing its position on medical marijuana,” Harris said. “They’re really reviewing their whole pain management regimen and how those things are handled, but if you don’t mind me giving you my personal feeling, I feel in any state that has approved medical marijuana, the league should remove medical marijuana from being a banned substance. I feel that recreational marijuana should be a banned substance in the NFL, but medical marijuana has a different composition.”

As the NFL continues to face criticism over widespread use of painkillers distributed by team doctors, it’s surprising that the league hasn’t been more willing to consider permitting medical marijuana. Players like Harris speaking out may change that.

Permalink 49 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Michael Irvin: Ezekiel Elliott has to learn how big being a Cowboy is

Getty Images

Hall of Fame Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin thinks there’s a special kind of scrutiny that comes with being a star player on the Dallas Cowboys, and Ezekiel Elliott needs to learn that.

Irvin said on KRLD that Elliott has to understand that the kind of attention he got as a star player in college will be dwarfed by the attention he’s getting now that he’s a star player in Dallas. Irvin said the incident in which Elliott pulled a woman’s top down in public demonstrated a kind of immaturity that isn’t acceptable for a Cowboys star.

“Not to ever make an excuse for anybody, but he’s a young guy,” Irvin said, via the Dallas Morning News. “And I don’t mind a guy having fun and all of that. But I need him to understand the enormity of everything surrounding him. I know Ohio State is huge, but the Dallas Cowboys are something different. Everything you do, anything you do . . . that’s going to get out, that’s going to be a story. And you have to try to stay away from that. As I was watching it, I remember when I first saw it . . . I checked my calendar. Is this Mardi Gras? When you watch it, you can see the wheels turning in his head . . . don’t do it; don’t do it. But he does it. He just has to be careful, man.”

Irvin had plenty of his own off-field problems during his time as a Cowboy, so some would say he has no standing to criticize Elliott. But perhaps Irvin is uniquely qualified to understand why Elliott needs to clean up his off-field act. There’s a perception around Elliott that he needs to grow up, and Irvin is only the latest to say so.

Permalink 77 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cardinals doing their homework on incoming quarterbacks

Getty Images

The Cardinals know that the end is near for quarterback Carson Palmer. Because, as Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim said during a recent appearance on PFT Live, Palmer is willing to mentor a young quarterback, it makes sense to bring a young quarterback into the fold which Palmer is still playing.

It therefore also makes sense for the Cardinals to be taking a close look at the incoming crop of signal callers. Which, as explained by Kent Somers of azcentral.com, they are doing. They’ll be doing it with private workouts.

“I would stray away from Pro Days if I could,” Keim said, via Somers. “They’ve become so big that you don’t have the individual attention you need. You’re wasting some time.”

The Cardinals will be investing some private time in working out Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and presumably the rest of the quarterbacks at the top of the class.

“I think there are five or six really good arms in this draft,” coach Bruce Arians said, via Somers. “Whether there are five or six quarterbacks, that’s what we have to find out. I’m feeling more and more there are a couple of sleepers who, because of their offenses, didn’t show as much as they are capable of.”

In other words, folks are trying to make sure the perceived second or third cut of quarterbacks doesn’t include another Dak Prescott. Over the past decade or so, the Cardinals have done very well when acquiring established quarterbacks in the waning years of their careers (Palmer, Kurt Warner). They’ve struggled when drafting quarterbacks (Matt Leinart, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, Logan Thomas) or rolling the dice by trading for — and paying — and unproven guy (Kevin Kolb).

The stakes are high in 2017. The perennially downtrodden Cardinals have been competitive and relevant in recent years only when they’ve had Palmer and Warner. They need someone who will play as well as either guy, and stick around a lot longer.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL to consider unlimited challenges, as long as they’re successful

Getty Images

Under current NFL rules, a coach may challenge two calls per game, and if replay reviews prove him right on both of them, he gets a third challenge. Three is the limit.

If a proposal before the Competition Committee this week is approved, there will be no limit, and coaches can keep challenging as long as they’re successful.

Washington has proposed a rule that would permit an unlimited number of successful challenges. If the challenges are unsuccessful, the limit would still be two.

That rule proposal would seem to have a lot of headwind in an offseason in which the NFL has made faster-paced games a top priority. More challenges means more replay delays, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged that replay delays are a problem.

So it seems unlikely that the rule would be adopted. A team challenging four, five, six or more times a game could slow the game to a crawl, even if the coach is correct. Of course, the real issue is that officials shouldn’t be making enough mistakes that a coach could have four, five or six successful challenges in the first place.

Permalink 58 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Talk in Buffalo that Doug Whaley could be on the way out

Getty Images

Bills General Manager Doug Whaley appears to be on the hot seat, raising questions about who’s really calling the shots in Buffalo heading into the draft.

Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News writes that it seems only a matter of time before Whaley gets moved out. Sullivan suggests that owners Kim and Terry Pegula have decided to give more authority to new head coach Sean McDermott, and Whaley’s power is limited. Sullivan even suggests that it could be that the only reason Whaley hasn’t resigned is he wants the Pegulas to fire him so they’ll be forced to keep paying him until his contract expires.

The Bills have decided that McDermott, not Whaley, will address reporters at the official annual pre-draft media event. Typically the person who answers questions in that setting is the person who’s calling the shots, and the Bills choosing McDermott to talk to the media on the team’s behalf suggests that McDermott, not Whaley, is calling the shots.

A similar situation played out in Washington in February, when G.M. Scot McCloughan was kept away from the media. A month later, McCloughan was fired.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Whaley is the next NFL G.M. to lose his job.

Permalink 65 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Roger Goodell sends ominous letter to Oakland mayor

AP

There are certain words and phrases a city would prefer not to hear from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the days before a critical relocation vote involving its local franchise.

Such language is now in the Oakland mayor’s possession.

Goodell reportedly sent a letter Friday to Mayor Libby Schaaf, a transmission Schaaf received after having sent the NFL her own letter in which she characterized the latest effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland as a “viable and responsible proposal.” Clearly, Goodell did not agree.

“Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution,” Goodell said in the letter, which the East Bay Times reportedly obtained Saturday. “It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion.”

Oakland and its partners submitted Friday a revised $1.3 billion development proposal that Goodell wrote is not “clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable time frame, and free of major contingencies,” according to East Bay Times.

A vote that could relocate the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas is expected as early as Monday at the NFL’s annual spring meeting in Phoenix. Twenty-four of the league’s 32 owners must vote in favor of the relocation for it to be approved.

It’d be the latest relocation for the league. On Jan. 12, the Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles. The Rams moved from St. Louis to L.A. last year.

Goodell’s full letter has not been published in its entirety at this time, but its largest excerpt reads as follows, per the East Bay Times:

“We have been prepared for nearly two years to work on finding a solution based on access to land at a certain cost, without constraints on the location of the stadium or timing of construction, and clarity on the overall development,” Goodell wrote.

“However, at this date, there remains no certainty regarding how the site will be fully developed, or the specific and contractually-defined nature of the participation by Fortress or other parties. In addition, the long-term nature of the commitment to the A’s remains a significant complication and the resolution of that issue remains unknown.”

Permalink 110 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Martellus Bennett pledges to donate jersey sales profit

Getty Images

The Packers’ official online team store is full of jersey options for potential buyers, its stock including Aaron Rodgers’ top-selling No. 12, Jordy Nelson’s No. 87, Randall Cobb’s 18 and Clay Matthews’ 52.

Martellus Bennett’s jersey is not yet available.

There is added reason for that soon to change.

The new Packers tight end announced Saturday an incentive for fans interested in wearing his No. 80. He pledged on social media not to pocket a cent off whatever commission he’ll receive from jersey sales in 2017, allocating his profit instead to “after school programs that I’m working to put together.”

He added that his older brother, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, inspired him.

Michael pledged this month to donate all endorsement money earned in 2017 “to help rebuild minority communities through s.t.e.a.m programs, as well as initiatives that directly affect women of color in hopes that we can create more opportunities for our youth and build a brighter future.” He also committed 50 percent of his jersey profit to fund inner-city garden projects.

Fans generally have to be mindful when investing in a player jersey.

As a hypothetical, former Packers running back Eddie Lacy’s jersey was $99.95 to begin the year. After his contract expired on March 9, it’s down to $69.97. A player’s roster longevity is often directly correlated to the jersey’s value.

Martellus does not necessarily shine in that category. He is 30. As part of a three-year contract he signed this month, the Packers can avoid paying him a $2 million roster bonus if he’s released before the start of the 2018 league year. In 2019, he is due a $5.65 million salary.

But the factors to purchase his or his brother’s jersey now extend beyond that.

They’ve turned profit into philanthropy.

Notably, the brothers are neither the first nor surely last NFL players to make such commitments. Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, for example, announced he would donate all jersey profits in 2016 amid a surge in sales.

“The only way I can repay you for the support is to return the favor by donating all the proceeds I receive from my jersey sales back into the communities!” Kaepernick said on Instagram. “I believe in the people, and WE can be the change!”

Others around the league, including Chargers safety Darrell Stuckey, have donated game checks to specific causes.

Permalink 60 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Eagles withdraw four of their five rule change proposals

Getty Images

The Eagles were among the most active teams at proposing rules changes to be voted on at the upcoming league meeting, but now they’re pulling back most of their proposals.

According to CSNPhilly.com, the Eagles have withdrawn four of the five changes they had proposed.

The only rule change the Eagles aren’t withdrawing is the rule against players leaping over the line to block field goals or extra points. That idea has broad support and is expected to pass.

The proposals the Eagles are withdrawing include a rule giving long snappers additional protection, a rule expanding the definition of “crown of the helmet,” a rule that would give coaches more opportunities to make instant replay challenges and a resolution to allow teams to use alternate color helmets.

The Eagles withdrawing those proposals doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t eventually be taken up: The league could still ultimately decide to adopt one or all of those proposals. But it does mean the Eagles won’t be pushing for a vote next week.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top