There are three games kicking off in the late afternoon slots on Sunday and we’ve got all the inactives from those contests right here.
Buccaneers at Raiders
Vikings at Seahawks
Steelers at Giants
There are three games kicking off in the late afternoon slots on Sunday and we’ve got all the inactives from those contests right here.
Buccaneers at Raiders
Vikings at Seahawks
Steelers at Giants
The status of the Falcons’ go-to receiver for Sunday’s pivotal game at New Orleans seems in doubt.
The 25-year-old Jones has not played since suffering his injury in the midst of a 11-catch, 259-yard performance at Green Bay on December 8. He didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday as Atlanta began its prep for division-leading New Orleans (6-8).
The Falcons (5-9) are one game out of first place in the NFC South. They will capture the division title if they defeat the Saints and Panthers in the final two weeks.
Week 16 kicked off with a matchup between 2-12 teams on Thursday night, but things will pick up in the next couple of days as the NFL takes over Saturday and Sunday for your viewing pleasure this week.
Saturday brings a pair of games, including a matchup between the Chargers and 49ers in the evening. Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego will join Mike Florio to discuss quarterback Philip Rivers’s physical condition after missing practice time this week with chest and back injuries and what impact those injuries will have on San Diego’s chances of continuing their playoff push.
As we do most Fridays, we’ll also be looking ahead to the weekend’s slate of games by seeing what’s on the mind of PFT Planet. You can send in your questions for Florio on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or by giving a call to 888-237-5269 during the show.
It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.
After worrying everyone through a series of big toe problems earlier this year, A.J. Green’s latest reason to miss practice wasn’t nearly as big a deal.
According to Geoff Hobson of the team’s official website, the Bengals wide receiver was back on the practice field today.
Green was out yesterday with an illness, and the fact he’s back today is a clear sign there’s nothing to worry about for him Monday.
The Bengals can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Broncos, and could sew up the AFC North title with a win and losses by the Steelers and Ravens.
The FCC has decided to let Daniel Snyder be.
Via the Washington Post, the agency responsible for regulating the public airwaves has dismissed a petition against one of the radio stations owned by the owner of the Washington franchise based on the frequent use by said station of the team’s nickname.
“Licensees have broad discretion — based on their right to free speech — to choose, in good faith, the programming they believe serves the needs and interests of their communities,” the FCC concluded. “This holds true even if the material broadcast is insulting to a particular minority or ethnic group in a station’s community.”
An attorney for the station predictably crowed about the outcome.
“The FCC’s written opinion makes crystal clear that use of the word Redskins on the airwaves does not violate any FCC rules, is not obscenity, profanity, or hate speech and is fully protected by the First Amendment,” Andrew McBride said, via the Post.
The conclusion hardly ends the simmering debate regarding whether the name should be changed. While dormant for much of the 2014 regular season, the debate will linger until the name changes — and it will linger for years after the name changes.
In some respects, the team’s struggles (and other significant off-field issues for the NFL) have helped keep the debate out of the spotlight. If/when (if) the team ever becomes a contender that plays deep into January and/or into the first Sunday in February, the debate will perhaps reach critical mass.
Until then, the periodic legal attacks on the name will continue. Thursday’s ruling means only that the FCC won’t provide the silver bullet. Another legal strategy, like the pending attack on the team’s trademark rights, could. Even without the law forcing change, change could come from business realities or internal pressure from other NFL owners.So, for now, the American government hasn’t deemed the term to be offensive. Fortunately for Snyder, the North Korean government hasn’t, either.
Bengals running back Jeremy Hill has made an impression on several fronts during his rookie season.
He’s made headlines with his mouth by criticizing opponents and his own offense’s predictability and he’s shown off a penchant for elaborate touchdown celebrations, including a failed bid to launch himself into the Dawg Pound during last Sunday’s victory over the Browns. Coach Marvin Lewis said that he’s told Hill it’s not to the team’s benefit when he runs his mouth and that he doesn’t quite understand the touchdown celebrations, but he’d like to see more of them as Hill continues to make a strong impression on the field.
“I want him to be able to celebrate in the end zone. That’s a key goal of mine, to let Jeremy celebrate in the end zone as much as possible — just make it quick,” Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I don’t understand much of that, but he’s good. That’s what you want. You want to have guys like that. He’s been good for the team because I think they respect his maturity and how he’s handled things. He’s one of the guys. He’s learning how to grow in the NFL as a young guy. He’s doing it the right way.”
The Bengals have indicated a desire to roll with Hill as their lead back with Giovani Bernard, a decision that Hill will justify as long as he’s picking up five yards a pop out of the backfield. Should that continue, Lewis will probably have plenty of opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of what Hill’s up to when he hits the end zone.
With the 10-win Cowboys two games away from a division title — and one slip-up away from blowing both the NFC East crown and a wild-card berth — Jones sees the cup as almost entirely full. Despite failures in each of the last three years to win a Week 17 game that would have delivered a division title.
“I feel better than I felt in those years principally because of the health of [quarterback Tony] Romo,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “We’re in better shape with his health than we were in at least two of those three years.
“Just looking at our team and how it’s continually improved and it has, I think we’re playing our best. On an individual basis across the board the players are executing, and they’re healthier than they were in any of the last three years in general, across the board. Now, that has a lot to do with it.”
Still, the Cowboys have to deliver in each of the next two games, at home (where Dallas is a mediocre 3-4) and on the road against Washington. Lose one, and the Cowboys possibly are done.
So plenty is riding on the team’s ability to finish the job. If they perform like they have all year, the Cowboys will continue to defy the odds. If they finish the season like they did each of the prior three years, they’ll quite possibly be watching someone else pursue the glory that Jones so fervently craves.
When you’re out of it and dysfunctional, you take whatever you can get.
So for Washington outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, the motivation for remaining games with the Cowboys and Eagles is simple.
“We have a chance to be spoiler here,” Kerrigan said, via CSNWashington.com. “Both of these teams are vying for the NFC East title and we have a chance to ruin one of their seasons so hopefully we can do that.
“You see these teams twice a year. Our fans don’t like the other teams in the East and we don’t either. This is a chance to take some positive for us by giving a negative to them.”
Dallas could clinch the NFC East this week with a win over the Colts and an Eagles loss at Washington.
Before the season started, the Packers locked up wide receiver Jordy Nelson through 2018 before he could become a free agent.
Wide receiver Randall Cobb is also headed for free agency when the year comes to an end, but he didn’t get a new deal from the team. It doesn’t sound like one is forthcoming, either. Cobb said Thursday that there are no current contract talks going on with the team, something that Cobb says “is what it is” while adding that he hasn’t given much thought to what will happen after the season.
He did say that Green Bay is a great place to play and it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t want to follow up his first 1,000-yard receiving season by catching more passes from Aaron Rodgers. The size of the deal also plays a role, though, and Cobb said before the season that he didn’t think he had done enough on the field to warrant a big deal. Has he done enough to be paid like a top receiver now?
“That’s a question for you,” Cobb said, via the Green Bay Press Gazette. “Am I? I don’t know. I’m trying to be the best Randall I can be. I don’t know what that means, but I’m trying to be the best I can be. I’ll let everybody else decide what.”
Sorting out Cobb’s contract will likely be one of the first things on the Packers’ to-do list when their season comes to an end and quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it’s important that the team hold onto a player who is having his best season as a pro. If they don’t, there will be plenty of other quarterbacks asking their teams to let them replace Rodgers as the man getting Cobb the ball.
Four days ago, the NFL Players Association filed a legal challenge to the suspension of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The exhibits to the petition include a pair of recorded phone calls between Peterson and NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent.
PFT has obtained the recorded phone calls. They create the distinct impression that Vincent was trying aggressively and zealously to persuade Peterson to attend a meeting in the league office on Friday, November 17.
“We’ve gotta make sure you show up on Friday,” Vincent said at one point in the first of two recorded calls. That first call also had Vincent suggesting very strongly to Peterson that, if he shows up for the meeting, he could learn as early as that night that he would miss only two additional games before returning for the final five games of the season.
“The number that you gave me is real,” Vincent said in reference to a two-game suspension, “but you gotta go through the process.”
Vincent’s words ultimately were used by the NFLPA and Peterson as evidence that the NFL retaliated against Peterson for not showing up at the November 14 meeting, yanking a wink-nod understanding that he’d be suspended two games and hitting him with a harder punishment. But it was unclear from the two phone calls whether Peterson definitely would be suspended only two games if he showed up at the meeting. Listening to both tapes, the impression is that Vincent (regardless of motivation) desperately wanted to get Peterson to attend the meeting, and that Vincent (regardless of motivation) came off as a guy who was trying to broker a deal behind the scenes.
There’s no clear guarantee from Vincent that Peterson would have gotten only two games if he had shown up for the meeting. With Vincent asking Peterson “can I trust you?” and insisting that Peterson not tell anyone about their discussions regarding a two-game suspension, it’s clear Vincent had one clear objective — to get Peterson to show up.
Possibly, Vincent was doing so at the behest of Commissioner Roger Goodell and/or others in the upper echelon of the league office. Possibly, Vincent was simply acting on his own, thinking that he’d be helping Peterson by getting Peterson to submit to a meeting that was loosely defined and, given the involvement of outside experts, unprecedented.
Vincent’s testimony from the Peterson appeal hearing, a copy of which PFT also has obtained, makes it clear that Vincent was dealing with a diverse group that had developed no consensus as to Peterson’s additional punishment. The audiotapes don’t convey the same “anything can happen” message to Adrian; instead, Vincent was strongly selling optimism that the final outcome could be two games.
Far more telling than the discussions about a two-game suspension were a couple of other comments that have not been emphasized by another media outlet that obtained the audio. First, Vincent asked Peterson in the initial call, “If there is more discipline, what should it be?” This strongly implies that Vincent, contrary to his superiors, believes suspension with pay is discipline.
Second, if there was any doubt about the first comment, Vincent elaborated on that point in the subsequent call. “You were away from the game,” Vincent said. “You were not participating, even though it was a paid leave. You were not participating. And ballplayers know their shelf life.”
Faced with that language during the Peterson appeal hearing, Vincent offered the following explanation: “Can I tell you why I shared that? Is because inside this group I had people who have no idea what the culture of or what the lifespan is of a National Football League player and they could care less. I was hoping, when this — that they would consider that you have a shelf life, the body has a shelf life as an NFL player. Because there are people in this group, they could care less. I was giving context so they can keep things into consideration.”
That’s the strongest, clearest argument yet against the NFL’s ill-advised position that paid leave for allegations of off-field misconduct isn’t discipline. And it’s coming from the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, one of the highest ranking members of the league office.
Regardless of anything else that happens with Peterson’s case, Vincent’s taped comments and testimony should become the centerpiece of a challenge by the NFLPA to the league’s cockeyed notion that putting a player on paid leave harms neither the player nor his team. Surely, it does.
If there was any doubt, just ask Peterson and the Vikings, who’d likely be a lot better than 6-8 right now if they’d had Peterson available for even half of the season.
Odell Beckham has emerged this season as not just a leading rookie of the year candidate but perhaps the best receiver in all of football. But that’s not how Beckham views himself.
In fact, when Beckham was asked whom he’d choose as rookie of the year, he picked a couple of his LSU teammates: Beckham said Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry would be his first choice, and Bengals running back Jeremy Hill would be his No. 2.
(LSU’s offense was loaded with talent last season: In addition to Beckham, Landry and Hill, it also had quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was starting for the Titans until he got hurt, guard Trai Turner, who is starting for the Panthers, running back Alfred Blue, who has 483 rushing yards for the Texans, and wide receiver James Wright, who has 121 yards from scrimmage for the Bengals.)
Beckham said the rookie of the year award would be nice, but he’s not giving it a lot of thought.
“It’s always in the back of your mind. But right now, honestly, just finish out the last couple of games and whatever happens, happens. You can only control what you can control. I’m just [thinking] whatever happens, happens,’’ Beckham told the New York Post. “Of course [it’d be nice]. If it were to happen, it’d be quite an accomplishment. But that’s not up to me; just keep doing what you’re doing.’’
Generally, Beckham said, he doesn’t think about individual accomplishments, which is why it’s strange to him when fans talk to him about his stats because they have him on their fantasy teams.
“I don’t have time for that,’’ said Beckham. “People talk to me about fantasy all the time. It’s something I really don’t pay much mind to it because I don’t like . . . I’m on someone’s fantasy team, ‘do good for me.’ I don’t play football to play for someone’s fantasy team. I play because this is what I love to do.’’
The Giants love what Beckham is doing for them this season. And no matter how much credit he wants to give to his old college teammates, Beckham is the best rookie in the NFL.
The Jaguars announced a contract extension for defensive tackle Roy Miller earlier this week that will allow them to hold onto Miller without competing for his services with other teams when free agency opens in 2015.
It will also allow Miller to avoid selling his services while coming off of knee surgery.
Miller didn’t play against the Titans on Thursday night after missing practice all this week with a knee injury and Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports that Miller will need surgery to repair his meniscus. O’Halloran expects Miller will be placed on injured reserve before the Jaguars season comes to a close against the Texans next weekend.
Miller should be recovered in time to take part in the Jaguars’ offseason program, which will help him make good on the four-year, $16.25 million commitment that the Jaguars made to him this week. Miller’s season comes to a close after 14 starts, 20 tackles and a sack.
Better communication is part of the Patriots’ plan to do a better job against the Jets run game than they did earlier this season.
T Joe Thomas longs for a chance to play in a playoff game with the Browns.
The Broncos brought TE Dominique Jones back to the 53-man roster.
Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of QB Tony Romo, “It has the potential to be his best season. The factor that would impact the most in my mind would be if we do have the kind of season that we’re all dreaming about here, then it would be his best.”
Former Giants G Chris Snee recounts telling coach and father-in-law Tom Coughlin that he was retiring.
If teams with head coaching vacancies come calling, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s stay with the Lions could be a short one.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wants more toughness from his team late in games.
There will be plenty of backups on defense for the 49ers this Sunday.
Eddie Lacy can’t really see. But he can’t see himself looking like Eric Dickerson either.
The Packers running back is having problems with his contact lenses, and was limited in practice the last two days because of an irritated eye.
Lacy’s eye started bothering him when he wore his contacts past their normal 30-day shelf life, and now he said he can’t read nameplates across the locker room if he closes his right eye. He’s getting glasses soon, but said he didn’t want to have to wear goggles this week.
Otherwise, could goggles be an option?
“I refuse,” Lacy said, via Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I don’t want to say I refuse because I might because I think it will be better than wearing contacts, but that’s kind of old-fashioned.”
He said he plans to put his contacts back in this weekend, and coach Mike McCarthy said he didn’t think it would otherwise impact Lacy’s availability for this week’s game.
After months of hype and hope and anticipation, one awful start isn’t going to change the way the Browns think about Johnny Manziel.
They’d like to see some results sooner, rather than later, but still see bright potential in the first-rounder who flopped in his starting debut last week.
“I feel the same about Johnny as I always have,” Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Johnny is a playmaker. He’s done that throughout his career. Nobody can argue with that at all. There were a couple times in that game he did make some plays. We weren’t able to capitalize on it. . . .
“Johnny is going to have some growing pains. He’s played a type of football that he’s not going to be able to down in and down out in the NFL, but you still want him to do it at times. He did it at times. You know he’s going to have some bad plays from his lack of experience, and we hope to manage those and not put him in those situations as much.”
It almost has to get better for Manziel, if only because it would be hard to be worse. He threw for 80 yards with two interceptions last week against the Bengals, and only ran 38 plays.
It was a disaster by any measure, but Shanahan thinks Manziel is resilient enough to withstand it.
“I think he is,” said Shanahan. “Johnny is a real impressive guy. I don’t think everybody knows really what Johnny is about, and Johnny is very humble. Johnny is a real dude. He’s not going to sit there and BS me or anything. We all were embarrassed by that game.
“Anytime you don’t put up points – it’s not just Johnny – all of us are extremely embarrassed about that. We want to get back to Sunday, and Sunday couldn’t come quick enough. Monday and Tuesday were real rough. Felt a little better Wednesday getting out and practicing. Felt better today getting our practice in, and we just want to get out there again so we can get that bad taste out of our mouths.”
Of course, if he doesn’t play better the next two weeks, people will be wondering if the familiar taste of Cleveland will ever change.
The Bills have eight wins and one of the best defenses in the league, which makes it pretty obvious where the blame will lie should they fail to find a door into the playoffs over the next two weeks.
It’s the offense, obviously, and head coach Doug Marrone tried to head off criticism of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett for that unit’s shortcomings on Thursday. Marrone said that blame should be on him for “anything that happens” with the football team and said that Hackett has been dealt a tough hand when asked about what he’d discuss with Hackett after the season.
“Those are things that I would talk with Nathaniel about,” Marrone said, via ESPN.com. “[When] we go through a process after the season, like everybody knows, we’ll sit down and talk. It’s been two years now. We’ve gone through, I don’t know, how many quarterbacks that we’ve played. We’re playing with a quarterback that wasn’t in our training camp. I think all of those things are pretty big challenges when you’re trying to get things going from an offensive standpoint.”
The quarterback issues have been a challenge, although it’s hard to completely separate EJ Manuel’s failure to develop in his second season from the job done by the person in charge of the offense. Even with C.J. Spiller’s injury, it’s also hard to explain how one of the league’s best rushing attacks from last season is now averaging a toothless 97.5 yards per game.
None of that appears to have Hackett on thin ice in Buffalo, but it’s hard to come up with explanations other than the offense for why the Bills’ playoff drought could extend another season.