Skip to content

Vikings GM Spielman: “Ponder is our guy”

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Christian Ponder could do no wrong as the Vikings got off to a 4-1 start. But even though he proceeded to look exceedingly human, the Vikings still think he’s the right guy.

General manager Rick Spielman just finished a talk with Vikings beat writers, and made it clear where the organization stood on their second-year quarterback.

“I know everybody in this organization believes Christian Ponder is our guy,” Spielman said, via Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. “And I have full, 100 percent belief that Christian Ponder’s going to be our quarterback heading into the future.”

Beating the Lions last week to go into a bye week 6-4 has quieted some of the criticism, but there’s been reasonable doubt about Ponder after a tough stretch of games that made the Vikings look like they could only do one thing well — run.

“Those are things that you look at when you’re developing a young quarterback, is OK, he had a hiccup for a couple weeks — how does he respond?” Spielman said. “Well, he came out of that and responded pretty well last week. I think he ended up with a 114 quarterback rating and was very productive and probably would have been more productive, but we had a few dropped balls here and there, too.

“So, those are the signs that you’re looking at, not only from his physical ability, but how he handles the pressure at that position from the mental standpoint, too.”

Speilman said he’s been encouraged by Ponder’s approach, even the way he joked about his sideline-reporter girlfriend, which became a topic during his slump.

“You have to have stuff roll off your back at that position, just like a head coach or general manager,” Spielman said. “You know there’s going to be — the praises come with that position, but the heavy criticisms come with that position, too. But you have to have the mental makeup to be able to handle all of that.”

Either way, Spielman said he was still well short of the time he needed to make a final determination on Ponder.

“I always have followed the three-year rule,” Spielman said. “The quarterback position — you’ve got to remember, our guy’s only in his second year. You look at the history of development of quarterbacks and I’ve talked to you guys a lot about that and where they come.

“I know they’re getting measured regardless if they’re a rookie or second-year [player]. They’re going to get evaluated from the outside and from the media on their performance that week. But you have to be, from an internal standpoint, looking at the whole picture and looking at a length of time.”

That’s good news for Ponder, especially if they use the time between his second and third year to add some weapons to the outside, which will allow him to look like more than a guy who hands off to Adrian Peterson.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, Minnesota Vikings, Rumor Mill
yo

NFL, NFLPA unveil new concussion protocol enforcement policy

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 22: Quarterback Case Keenum #17 of the St. Louis Rams holds his head after taking a hit against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 16-13. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last year’s embarrassing failure of the Rams and the NFL to get quarterback Case Keenum off the field when he obviously had suffered a concussion resulted in no discipline for anyone involved. However, that failure apparently has contributed directly to the development of a new procedure for enforcing the concussion protocol with real discipline moving forward.

The joint agreement of the NFL and NFL Players Association announced Monday entails each party designate a representative “to monitor the implementation of the protocol and investigate potential violations.” The press release announcing the program explains that “[t]he investigation will not reach medical conclusions; it will only determine whether the protocol was followed.” After the investigation, the league and union “will review the findings to determine if a violation occurred and, if so, to recommend the proper disciplinary response.”

If the parties can’t agree on whether a violation occurred, the matter will be submitted to a third-party arbitrator. The arbitrator eventually will issue a report to Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, and the involved parties.

Ultimately, Goodell has “absolute discretion” to determine the penalties. Still, this process creates a high degree of transparency, making it much harder for situations to be swept under the rug.

A first violation can trigger a fine of up to $150,000. If Goodell finds aggravating circumstances, the minimum fine will be $50,000. Subsequent violations will result in minimum fines of $100,000.

The procedure also allows for the Commissioner to strip draft picks, if Goodell “determines that the club’s medical team failed to follow the protocol due to competitive considerations.”

That’s the provision that will get the attention of the teams. Fines are viewed a cost of doing business; lost draft picks directly affect the ability to do business.

Whether it ever comes to that remains to be seen. Regardless, it appears that something good finally has emerged from last year’s bizarre failure of the Rams and the league to protect Case Keenum.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Taylor Mays suspended additional four games

Taylor Mays AP

The Bengals released safety Taylor Mays over the weekend in a move that may be explained by Mays’ unavailability for the first half of the season.

We learned in March that Mays was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. On Monday, we learned his absence will be even longer.

Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Media report that Mays has been suspended for an additional four games. Rapoport reports that the Bengals haven’t ruled out bringing Mays back to the team once his punishment has run its course, although there’s a lot that will happen between now and then that could change their minds.

Mays played for the Bengals from 2011-2014 and spent last season with the Raiders after brief stints with the Lions and Vikings.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jerry Jones issues statement following fatal crash involving bus

Jerry Jones AP

On Sunday, an accident involving the Cowboys bus resulted in the death of four persons in a van. On Monday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued a statement regarding the incident.

An accident involving loss of life is tragic,” Jones said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We as an organization are deeply saddened, and our thoughts, prayers and concerns at this time are with the family members and loved ones of all who were lost.”

The Cowboys bus was traveling from Texas to Las Vegas for a promotional appearance. It was then due to arrive in Oxnard for training camp.

Officials have said the driver of the van caused the accident by making an illegal turn. Photos of the van from the scene of the accident show a graphic degree of significant damage.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Washington not interested in Dwight Freeney

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27:  Linebacker Dwight Freeney #54 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeatred the Packers 38-30.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington is suddenly without a veteran pass-rusher after Junior Galette suffered another torn Achilles today.

But they’re not looking to fill his spot with someone even more veteran.

According to John Keim of ESPN.com, Washington isn’t interested in signing free agent Dwight Freeney.

Freeney had 8.0 sacks for Arizona last season (and 119.5 in 14 NFL seasons), seemingly showing that he has enough left in the tank at age 36 to hustle up a job.

But Washington’s apparently willing to give long looks to second-rounders Preston Smith (2015) and Su’a Cravens (2016), and doesn’t want to invest in more of a proven commodity.

 

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Washington waives injured safety Kyshoen Jarrett

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15: Strong safety Kyshoen Jarrett #30 of the Washington Redskins makes a tackle on wide receiver Brandin Cooks #10 of the New Orleans Saints in the first half at FedExField on November 15, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins won, 47-14. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington safety Kyshoen Jarrett had a promising rookie season in 2015. But that rookie season ended with an injury, and now Jarrett’s time in Washington is over.

Jarrett was waived today with failed physical designation, as he is still dealing with nerve damage in his shoulder stemming from a collision with Cowboys running back Darren McFadden in Week 17. He has been seeing specialists across the country but has so far been unable to get healthy enough to play again.

A 2015 sixth-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech, Jarrett played in all 16 games as a rookie, starting six and also contributing significantly on special teams.

Washington currently has 88 players on its roster, so the team could add two more players without making any other transactions.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jaguars say Jalen Ramsey is cleared for the start of training camp

jalen-ramsey-042916-getty-ftrjpg_1qkn7u8h8br4n1ajqgeg94igt8 Getty Images

The Jaguars have too much experience with offseason injuries to star picks to not be cautious.

But Jalen Ramsey has apparently shown them he’s well and ready to go.

According to the Associated Press, Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell confirmed Monday that his first-round pick would be cleared to begin training camp after needing surgery in May to repair a torn meniscus.

Ramsey, the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, scared plenty of Jaguars fans when he went down during offseason work, after the team lost first-rounder Dante Fowler to an offseason injury last year.

But Ramsey’s progress has been quick, and they’ve been optimistic throughout that he’d be well.

The Jaguars are also expected to have free agent tackle Kelvin Beachum available, signaling he’s recovered from last year’s knee injury. Likewise, defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, who missed the last seven games last year with a torn right triceps, has also bee cleared.

Offensive lineman Luke Bowanko and defensive end Jonathan Woodard are expected to start camp on the PUP  list.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Vick keeps campaigning for a job

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12:  Quarterback Mike Vick #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands on the sidelines during a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Getty Images

NFL teams have had 90 roster spots for months. And not a single team has given one of them to quarterback Mike Vick.

With camps opening, Vick continues to push for a preseason job. He recently said he wants to play for a contender. Appearing on Monday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show, Vick seemed to be far less choosy.

“We had a couple phone calls,” Vick said. “I won’t say as many phone calls as I’d like. I understand the dynamics. I’m 36 years old. The thing is I still have a lot in the tank. I go work out, still go throw, still feel good. And the thing is with me, I just don’t like the way the season ended last year. I ended the year inactive and that’s not me. I’m truly better than that. And I believe in that.”

One of the reasons team shy away from Vick is that he never has fully embraced the role of a backup, with his high level of confidence causing him, even now, to not rule out the possibility of becoming a starter.

“I know I can still win football games,” Vick said. “Not saying that I can go out and be a 16-week starter, who knows? But you’ve got to get that opportunity. I still feel like I can produce.”

Dan suggested a way to prove it: Have a Pro Day workout.

“If I had a Pro Day, I would light it up,” Vick said. “I mean, I go work out and I look good in my training, and everybody tells me that. So that gives me the confidence that, you know, I do still have it. And the reason why I can think forward and think positive about where I’m at in my career, and how I can finish, and it’s all about finishing strong. So Pro Day, it’ll be exceptional for me and everyone watching. But do I want to run the 40 again? No.”

Vick believes he’d still do well in the 40 (even if he doesn’t want to run it), but playing quarterback entails much more than whatever straight line speed he still has. The fact that he still believes he can play at a high level, coupled with the reality that so many current players grew up idolizing him, limits his universe of teams to those with firmly established starters who would never be the subject of a potential locker-room mutiny fueled by starstruck youngsters who love the idea of playing with Mike Vick.

Vick found that spot in Pittsburgh in 2015, but when he got a chance to play, it didn’t work out very well. With Ben Roethlisberger injured, Vick eventually yielded to Landry Jones.

Part of the problem was that Vick didn’t know the offense because he arrived late. This year, he’d be joining the team without the benefit of participating in an offseason program.

Last year, it took an injury to Bruce Gradkowski to get Vick a chance. This year, it may take another injury. Even then, chances are Vick’s name is farther down the list than it was a year ago.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Texans put J.J. Watt, Duane Brown on PUP list

J.J. Watt AP

They didn’t do it with a handwritten note, but the Texans have made it official that defensive end J.J. Watt won’t be practicing with the team when training camp opens.

The Texans announced on Monday that Watt has been placed on the physically unable to perform list. Watt had back surgery recently and told fans that he expects to be back soon, although there are conflicting reports about just how soon that will be. Watt also had groin surgery this offseason, so more time to rest at this point in the calendar should have its benefits.

Left tackle Duane Brown was also placed on the PUP list as he continues to return from the torn quadriceps that ended his 2015 season. He said earlier this offseason that he expects to be back for Week One.

Tackle Jeff Adams, safety Lonnie Ballentine and cornerback Cleveland Williams III were also placed on the PUP list while linebacker Brennan Scarlett is on the non-football injury list. The Texans also announced that they have signed wide receiver Quenton Bundrage and waived wide receiver Richard Mullaney.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Junior Galette done for year with torn Achilles

0218-junior-galette-getty-4 Getty Images

For the second straight year, Washington linebacker Junior Galette’s season is ending before it starts.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Galette has suffered a torn right Achilles tendon. He’s expected to miss the year.

Galette, whose Twitter page hints at a significant hardship of recent vintage, suffered the same injury in the left leg last August, during his first preseason with Washington. This year, the injury apparently has happened while Galette was not with the team. If so, that would allow Washington to place him on the non-football injury list and, if the team so chooses, to not pay his base salary of $1 million this season.

The team had planned to hold Galette back until training camp, given last year’s injury. But G.M. Scot McCloughan had noticed that Galette’s “explosion” had returned, and the team had hoped he’d return to the same form that allowed him to rack up 22 sacks over 2013 and 2014 combined, his last two years with the Saints.

Permalink 39 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

49ers name Tom Gamble assistant General Manager

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  A view of San Francisco 49ers helmets on the bench during their NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers brought Tom Gamble back into their front office last year after he parted ways with the Eagles and now they’ve given him a new title for the 2016 season.

The team announced in a statement from General Manager Trent Baalke Monday that Gamble has been promoted to assistant General Manager. Gamble had been a senior personnel executive since returning to the team in 2015 and was the team’s director of player personnel in 2011 and 2012.

“Tom is an accomplished talent evaluator who grew up around the game of football,” Baalke said. “Having spent the last 28 years of his life in the NFL, his wealth of experience has been invaluable to our organization for almost a decade. Tom is a hard-working professional and more importantly a good man. We are excited he will continue to play an integral role in the development of our team.”

Gamble came to Philadelphia in 2013, the same year that Chip Kelly was hired as head coach, and left after being fired by Howie Roseman. That was part of the internal struggle between Kelly and Roseman that led to Kelly getting personnel control for the 2015 season. The Eagles fizzled on the field, Kelly was fired and made the move to the 49ers while Roseman took back personnel control in Philadelphia.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel still hanging out together

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 14:  Josh Gordon #12 makes a catch on a ball thrown by Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 14, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

At any other time, Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel turning up in the same place might not necessarily have been newsworthy.

But today, yeah, today it looks unusual.

Hours before he was being conditionally reinstated by the NFL after his own substance abuse suspension, Gordon turned up in social media video with Manziel who just came upon a suspension of his own.

Via TMZ, the video shows the two of them hanging around with puppies, playing video games and otherwise occupying themselves in a wholesome manner.

That’s a good thing for Gordon, who doesn’t need any trouble of his own now that the door to his return has finally been opened. As for Manziel, he’s reportedly trying to get himself in any kind of shape to try a comeback, so maybe Gordon’s the good influence he needs.

(Roll that around in your head for a second.)

Of course, Manziel has yet to prove himself able to stay on the straight and narrow long enough to be considered a good influence, so Gordon might be better off to hang out with his teammates, and people who are focused on being football players.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Wentz may not get a full redshirt season

Football: NFL Draft: Portrait of Philadelphia Eagles QB and No 2 overall pick Carson Wentz during photo shoot at NovaCare Complex.
Philadelphia, PA 4/30/2016
CREDIT: Al Tielemans (Photo by Al Tielemans /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: SI348 TK1 ) Getty Images

Yes, the second overall pick in the draft is expected to be buried on the depth chart — and inactive on game days — when the season begins. But Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz could indeed be dressing (and playing) at some point this season.

Sam Bradford will be the starter in Week One, and Chase Daniel will serve as the backup. Wentz, at No.3 on the depth chart, won’t be dressed for the game. Beyond that, it’s not clear how long that pecking order will be in place.

“Well, we don’t know it will be his entire rookie year; we can’t speculate that far out,” coach Doug Pederson told reporters on Monday. “But going into the season, there is a good chance it starts that way.”

That last line suggests Wentz could leap a spot (or two) before September 11, so basically the door is open.

Sixteen years ago, when Pederson wasn’t the coach but the starting quarterback in Philly, the baton passed to Donovan McNabb in Week 10. Before that, McNabb made appearances in five of nine games that Pederson started. Pederson was asked whether Wentz, like McNabb, would play before he starts.

“For me it’s more down the line,” Pederson said. “I’m very comfortable with Sam and very comfortable with Chase. It’s a little different scenario than we had in 1999. Donovan came in as the No. 2, so [it’s a] different scenario this year.”

The scenario is that the ceiling is high and the bar is low. Wentz will be able to develop without the weight of expectations or a sense of urgency. He’ll be ready when he’s ready, and Eagles fans need to be ready for anything.

One of the factors surely will be whether the Eagles thrive with Bradford. If the team struggles to win and slides out of contention, it could be time for Wentz to grab a helmet and enter the fray for some reps that will help get him ready for 2017.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mike McCarthy: Aaron Rodgers in “best shape” I’ve seen

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Athelete Aaron Rodgers attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers offseason started with coach Mike McCarthy talking about running back Eddie Lacy needing to lose weight, but he’s not the only player whose waistline became a talking point in the last few months.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers made some big changes to his diet after having arthroscopic knee surgery early in the offseason, eliminating dairy and eating “more of a vegan diet” while dropping to 218 pounds. That’s the lowest weight Rodgers has been at during his Packers career and McCarthy said Monday that the quarterback’s efforts have paid off.

“I would say Aaron’s vibe, and really his offseason participation and performance, looks to line up for a great year,” McCarthy said, via ESPN.com. “He’s in great shape. I would say this is the best shape I’ve seen him in.”

The Packers hope to find a better groove in the passing game this season, something that Rodgers will obviously have a big hand in as the year unfolds. Having a healthy wide receiver Jordy Nelson and tight end Jared Cook would also help, although McCarthy wouldn’t say Monday whether they will be cleared for a full practice schedule when camp gets going on Tuesday.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Josh Gordon can stay with team during four-game suspension to start season

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 18: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns lines up during a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 18, 2014 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Under the substance-abuse policy, a player banished for at least a full year under the program cannot be with the team during the suspension. For Browns receiver Josh Gordon, the conditional reinstatement crafted by Commissioner Roger Goodell allows Gordon to be with the team throughout training camp, the preseason, and during his four-game suspension to start the year.

While Gordon can’t practice or play during the first four weeks, he can with the team as he attempts to remain on the right path to full reinstatement.

Goodell called agent Drew Rosenhaus on Monday and explained that Goodell specifically opted to craft an outcome that allows Gordon to return to the team with the most support possible, despite the decision to keep him off the field for four additional weeks.

“He wants to give Josh another opportunity,” Rosenhaus told PFT. “He liked Josh and wants to help him and he deserves another chance.”

Apart from helping Gordon get the most out of his latest second chance (he was suspended two games in 2013 and 10 games in 2014), Rosenhaus said Goodell explained he specifically wants to show the NFL Players Association that he is capable of and willing to fashion outcomes aimed at assisting players and cooperating with the union. Rosenhaus added that the NFLPA has been unwavering in its support of Josh Gordon.

At a time when there’s a perception that otherwise able players are choosing to no longer play, it frankly makes sense to help players who are willing to play to find their way back to the field.

Rosenhaus said Gordon is “elated” by the news and that Gordon is immediately heading for Cleveland. The carefully-constructed terms of the reinstatement suggest that the Browns are on board with it, and that they fully intend to keep Gordon as he continues to work through the various things he still must do in order to earn full reinstatement.

“Countless others including your agent, teammates and coaches, Mr. Haslam and the leadership of the organization, the [drug-testing program] professionals and Jim Brown also have pledged to provide you with every resource at their disposal,” Goodell wrote to Gordon in the letter explaining the reinstatement. “But as you acknowledged, ultimately, your future is your responsibility. I have every belief that you can make the right choices, but it will be up to you to do so.”

The development gives the Browns hope for a significant boost to the passing game as of Week Five, when Gordon could be returning for Tom Brady’s return as the Browns prepare to host the Patriots.

Permalink 38 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Panthers sign tight end with basketball, Australian experience

ROSEMONT, IL - JANUARY 30: Eric Wallace #25 of the DePaul Blue Demons grabs a rebound in front of Brandon Triche #25 of the Syracuse Orange at the Allstate Arena on January 30, 2010 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers are deep enough and talented enough to take a look at projects during training camp.

And their latest one checks off a pair of the unconventional boxes.

The team announced they signed tight end Eric Wallace, waiving wide receiver Kobi Hamilton to clear the roster spot.

Wallace grew up in North Carolina, but played college basketball at Ohio State and DePaul. He hasn’t played America football since he was 14, but he has played three years of Australian Rules football.

He had a minicamp tryout with the Saints, but caught the eye of Panthers receivers coach Ricky Proehl recently at his private facility.

“I walked into his office and told him I wanted to play for the Carolina Panthers,” Wallace said. “It was a short chuckle at first, and then he was like, ‘Are you serious?’ I was.”

According to the team website, the 6-6, 260-pounder ran a 4.6-second 40 the next day for Proehl, which led to another workout with the team.

That led to a contract offer to go to camp. The Panthers have one of the game’s best in Greg Olsen and adequate depth, so taking a flier on someone with impressive workout numbers seems reasonable when rosters are at 90.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top