Skip to content

PFT’s Week 11 picks

Getty Images

That five-game lead over MDS has grown to seven, with seven weeks left.

If anyone is capable of blowing this lead, I am.

This week, we disagree on three games.  Last week, we were 10-3-1 and 8-5-1, respectively.  (I would have predicted the Rams-49ers would end in a tie, if I’d known games could end in ties.)

For the year, I’m now 93-52-1.  MDS is 86-59-1.

Dolphins at Bills

MDS’s take: NFL Network gets the week started with a pretty lousy game, with the Dolphins reeling and falling out of AFC wild-card contention, and the Bills even further behind in the AFC East. I’m expecting the difference in this one to be Bills running back C.J. Spiller, who will do to the Dolphins’ defense the same thing that Titans running back Chris Johnson did to the Dolphins’ defense last week. Spiller will have a big game and lead the way as the Bills win.

MDS’s pick: Bills 28, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins have cooled off.  The Bills were never hot.  It’ll be cold on Thursday night in Buffalo.  More importantly, it’s hard to imagine the Dolphins recovering  from Sunday’s debacle against the Titans in only four days.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 28, Dolphins 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons are no longer undefeated and no longer viewed by many people as the best team in the league, but a home game against the Cardinals should be a nice way for Atlanta to get back in the W column. The Cardinals’ defense might be able to keep this game close, but Arizona’s offense won’t be able to do anything.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 16, Cardinals 9.

Florio’s take:  This is precisely the kind of game the Cardinals could steal.  The Falcons, fresh from their first loss, view Arizona as a show-up-and-win opponent — the puff-pastry appetizer to a two-pack of tough steaks in the form of the Bucs and Saints on a short week.  And the Cardinals have had two weeks to get ready for this one.  If I didn’t have a seven-game lead over MDS entering the week, I’d consider calling for the upset.  Instead, I’ll play a little prevent defense.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 35, Cardinals 21.

Buccaneers at Panthers

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have talented young quarterbacks, but it’s Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman who has taken a big step forward recently, while Carolina’s Cam Newton is looking shaky. The Bucs are entering the NFC playoff conversation with a win in Carolina.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 28, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take:  When the Bucs beat the Panthers 10 weeks ago, it was regarded as a surprise.  When the Bucs beat the Panthers this time, it won’t be.  Tampa has gradually improved, and Greg Schiano could soon be getting some coach of the year buzz.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 24, Panthers 16.

Browns at Cowboys

MDS’s take: This is the first of three straight home games, all against teams with losing records, for the Cowboys. So their schedule is setting up for them to go on a nice little run. After saving their season against the Eagles, the Cowboys won’t blow their season against the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 23, Browns 16.

Florio’s take:  The Cowboys get ready for their Thanksgiving date with the Redskins by feasting on the team that is the color of sweet potatoes, both fresh and digested.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Browns 17.

Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: When the Lions get their passing game going, they’re as dangerous an offense as there is in the NFL.  The Vikings were doing all they could to stop Calvin Johnson on Sunday, and he still went over 200 receiving yards. Unfortunately for Detroit, the Lions usually don’t get their passing game going until their defense and special teams have already given up an early lead. And the Packers are not the kind of team the Lions want to be playing catchup against.

MDS’s pick: Packers 23, Lions 20.

Florio’s take:  The Packers are ready to make their move to the top of the division.  The Lions already have made their move to the bottom.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 27, Lions 14.

Jaguars at Texans

MDS’s take: Given that Florio is way ahead of me in our season picks contest, I’m tempted to take the Jaguars here because I’m going to need to hit on some big upsets if I’m going to have any chance of catching up. But even though I think the Texans might be due for a letdown after their big win in Chicago, the Jaguars are so bad that the Texans should beat them even if they turn in their worst effort of the season.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take:  Didn’t this used to be an actual rivalry?  It’s not anymore, thanks to the fact that one team has an 8-1 record, and the other is 1-8.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 41, Jaguars 17.

Bengals at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Cincinnati’s big win over the Giants could be the first step toward a surprise late-season run back to the playoffs, and there’s no way the Bengals will stumble against a terrible Chiefs team.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 34, Chiefs 10.

Florio’s take:  Logic tells us that the winless-at-home Chiefs should fall to a Bengals team that found a way to knock off the defending NFL champions.  But the Chiefs are due to finally get that second pickle.  It won’t do much to make things better in Kansas City, but things won’t get worse — at least not this week.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 23, Bengals 20.

Colts at Patriots

MDS’s take: I’m a believer in the Colts, in the sense that I believe they are going to make the playoffs this season. But that’s largely because the Colts have an easy schedule the rest of the way, with four games remaining against teams that currently have losing records. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, this is one of the toughest games the Colts still have to play, and I just don’t think the Colts’ defense is good enough to keep Tom Brady and company in check. This game may be a first-round playoff preview, but it’s not a close game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Colts 10.

Florio’s take:  A year after the annual Colts-Patriots game lost its luster with the absence of Peyton Manning, the arrival of Andrew Luck could help restore the sizzle.  With the Colts better than folks realize and the Pats not quite as good as believed, the Colts could steal this one.  They likely won’t, but they could.

Florio’s pick:    Patriots 28, Colts 24.

Jets at Rams

MDS’s take: Neither one of these teams is very good, but the Rams have a lot of young guys who look like they’re hungry and playing as hard as they can in every game, while the Jets have a bunch of veterans who look like they give up when they fall behind and anonymously snipe at each other in the media. Advantage Rams.

MDS’s pick: Rams 21, Jets 17.

Florio’s take:  Last week, Pete Carroll got a little revenge against the team that once fired him as its head coach.  This week, Brian Schottenheimer gets a shot at revenge against the team that fired him without really firing him as its offensive coordinator.  The fact that the Rams currently are good and the Jets aren’t will make it easier.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 20, Jets 10.

Eagles at Redskins

MDS’s take: Stick a fork in the Eagles. They’re already on the first five-game losing streak of Andy Reid’s career, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that losing streak extend all the way to the end of the season.

MDS’s pick: Redskins 28, Eagles 13.

Florio’s take:  The struggling Philly offense finally finds an equally struggling defense.  And the struggling Philly defense finally finds digs deep and finds a way to avoid getting torched.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 24, Redskins 21.

Saints at Raiders

MDS’s take: There’s not much doubt after the Saints beat the Falcons that New Orleans has turned this thing around. It should be easy to keep things going against a Raiders team that looks like it has given up on the season.

MDS’s pick: Saints 38, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take:  Dennis Allen knows the Saints offense well, given the time he spent there as a defensive backs coach.  Unfortunately, he lacks the personnel to slow it down.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, Raider 20.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos may be playing the best football in the league right now. Peyton Manning has the offense humming, of course, but Von Miller is a defensive player of the year candidate, and Trindon Holliday is one of the most dynamic special-teams players in the NFL — at least as long as he remembers that you’re supposed to cross the goal line before you start celebrating your touchdown. This is a complete football team, and the Broncos will all but wrap up the AFC West with an easy win over the Chargers.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Chargers 13.

Florio’s take:  This one will look a lot more like the second half of their last meeting, not the first half.  And it could be the final two halves of football for Norv Turner in San Diego.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 31, Chargers 17.

Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: Ben Roethlisberger’s injury came at the worst possible time for the Steelers.  Before Big Ben got hurt, I was expecting the Steelers to beat the Ravens both this week in Pittsburgh and two weeks from now in Baltimore, and to take the lead in the AFC North. But with Byron Leftwich in for Roethlisberger, I like the Ravens.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 13.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers have played the Ravens close without Ben Roethlisberger.  And that’s when the Ravens actually had a great defense.  If the Steelers can run the ball effectively and if Byron Leftwich can start his elongated throwing motion quickly enough to get the ball out before Terrell Suggs plants him into the ground, the Steelers can hold serve at home.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 17, Ravens 13.

Bears at 49ers

MDS’s take: In a battle of teams that may be playing without their concussed starting quarterbacks, I have more faith in the 49ers’ ability to win by running the ball and playing good defense.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Bears 16.

Florio’s take:  Though the Bears likely won’t have another five-game free fall like they did last season, the losing streak will extend at least to two — regardless of who ends up playing quarterback for either team.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 20, Bears 13.

Permalink 33 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Bills announce Anquan Boldin is visiting on Monday

Getty Images

Word came at the end of last week that veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin would be visiting with the Bills this week and the team confirmed it by announcing Boldin is in Buffalo to meet with the team on Monday.

As Chris Brown of the team’s website points out in the announcement, the Bills’ depth chart at receiver is “largely a jumble” once you get past Sammy Watkins. Second-round pick Zay Jones dealt with a knee injury during spring work and Andre Holmes, Jeremy Butler and Philly Brown are all new to the team after signing this offseason.

Boldin would give them another new face, albeit one with both more experience — including two years as Tyrod Taylor’s teammate with the Ravens — and more accomplishments at the professional level. He ranks ninth in league history with 1,076 receptions and would have a good chance to move past players like Terrell Owens, Tim Brown, Chris Carter and Marvin Harrison if he finds a home for the 2017 season.

Boldin said earlier in the offseason that he’d like to find that home closer to his offseason one in Florida, although there might be some flexibility there with camps starting and Boldin still out of uniform.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Michael Irvin won’t be charged with sexual assault

Getty Images

More than a month after Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin and his lawyer held a press conference aimed at lobbying for prosecutors to not charge Irvin with sexual assault, the case is finally closed.

Via Andy Slater of WINZ radio, Broward County authorities have decided not to proceed, due to a lack of evidence.

“Nothing happened that night,” Irvin said during the press conference, which ended with Irvin saying, “Make a decision, let’s move on.”

The decision has been made, and the authorities have moved on. This doesn’t keep the alleged victim from suing Irvin, and the much lower standard of proof (plus the unavailability of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination) could mean that, although Irvin won’t face criminal jeopardy, the case may not be fully closed.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

PFT preseason power rankings No. 4: Pittsburgh Steelers

Getty Images

The Steelers have six Super Bowl trophies. They’d likely have more but for the team that has won five in the last 16 years. And in a year that the Patriots hope to match the Steelers at six, the Steelers may be the primary impediment to New England.

But here’s the problem. In an offseason that saw the Patriots mash the gas pedal in an effort to get even better, what have the Steelers really done to close the gap?

So while the Steelers remain among the best teams in the NFL, the question is whether they’re good enough to get to No. 7 before the Patriots get to No. 6. And then to No. 7.

Biggest positive change: The return of receiver Martavis Bryant from suspension makes a great passing game even better, with one major caveat. Bryant still hasn’t been fully reinstated, and until he is there’s a chance he won’t be. And he wouldn’t be the first player closing in on reinstatement after a substance-abuse policy who then stubs his toe to otherwise trip over a blunt. So the Steelers and Bryant have every reason to keep him on the straight and narrow as he closes in on returning to the field and further diversifying one of the best offenses in the NFL. Failure would mean that the passing game, while still potent, wouldn’t be nearly as good as it could be.

Biggest negative change: The passing of legendary Hall of Fame owner Dan Rooney in April marked not only the end of an era but also raised questions about whether the Steelers of the past 50 years could eventually revert to the bumbling also-rans of their first 40. Though Dan Rooney didn’t seek credit or the spotlight, he was the common thread for a team that consistently contended after going through multiple decades of persistent failures. There’s no reason to think Art Rooney II will have a hand any less steady than his father’s, but the future of one of the few remaining franchises run by the family that founded it presents real questions with the man who provided perhaps one of the best foundations any NFL team has ever had now gone.

Coaching thermometer: It’s been seven years since the team’s last Super Bowl appearance, and the locals tend to gripe about Mike Tomlin whenever things aren’t going as well as expected. With high expectations for 2017, a rough start will commence the annual grumbling about Tomlin’s future. Ownership has been immune to the ups and downs and highs and lows of a franchise that contends often enough to make it easy to patient, but with Art II now running the show it remains to be seen whether the trend of three coaches since 1969 will continue indefinitely.

We’d like to have a beer with . . . . Todd Haley. The former Chiefs coach has helped transform the Pittsburgh offense into a juggernaut. Though very good before Haley arrived, he has presided over an unlikely swinging of the pendulum that has given the team an offense that currently is much better than the defense. It sounds blasphemous, but it’s true, and Haley’s ability to work well with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and to get a diverse group of personalities to perform well together and not whine about getting more opportunity should have earned him consideration for a second chance to coach a team by now.

How they could prove use wrong: If Le’Veon Bell boycotts training camp and the preseason and he’s either not ready to contribute from Week One or the Steelers catch a wild hair and rescind the franchise tender (not likely), the passing game will face more pressure — and the running game will hinge on guys like rookie James Conner or veteran Knile Davis. And if the defense can’t effectively make the switch to playing more man-to-man coverage (a device aimed at slowing down the Patriots), the Steelers could plunge from Super Bowl contender to team scrambling to get to the postseason. Which they were a year ago, until a Christmas Day win over the Ravens kept them from spending January at home.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Vikings sign a tackle to bring roster to 90 players

Getty Images

The Vikings have brought their roster to the maximum of 90 players with training camp kicking off this week.

The team announced on Monday that they have signed tackle Arturo Uzdavinis to a contract. He will join the rest of the team at Minnesota State University in Mankato for practices.

Uzdavinis spent time on the Lions’ roster this offseason and the Vikings will be his fifth club since entering the league as an undrafted free agent last year. He initially signed with the Texans and then spent time on the practice squads in Chicago and Jacksonville without seeing any regular season action.

He’ll be trying to earn a spot as a backup behind left tackle Riley Reiff and right tackle Mike Remmers, both of whom signed as free agents this offseason as part of the Vikings’ bid to improve their offensive line play.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Packers shareholders meet on Monday

Getty Images

If you own one or more shares of non-stock stock in the Green Bay Packers, today’s the one day per year that the investment becomes more tangible than the piece of paper framed in your den.

Today’s the day that you can show up at Lambeau Field for the annual meeting of shareholders. Via the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the meeting (which always precedes by a few days the start of training camp) is a little earlier than usual because the Packers start their preseason a little earlier than usual, with a preseason game on Thursday, August 10.

Via the Press-Gazette, the Packers have 363,948 shareholders. Only 8,000 to 12,000 attend, with the biggest crowd showing up in 1998, with 18,707.

CEO Mark Murphy, G.M. Ted Thompson, and others are expected to speak. One of the topics likely won’t be the PFT Live question of the day regarding who bears the blame for the team’s underachievement.

As Barstool Big Cat suggested on Monday’s PFT Live, maybe we should go off the board and blame the shareholders. If nothing else, that will give them something to discuss when they get together today at 11:00 a.m. CT to hear from some of the folks more directly responsible for the chronic inability of the team to parlay annual contention into a Super Bowl appearance.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Steelers unveil uniform patch in honor of the late Dan Rooney

Getty Images

Longtime Steelers chairman Dan Rooney died at the age of 84 in April and the team unveiled a patch that will be on all of their uniforms this season to commemorate what he meant to the organization.

The patch has Rooney’s initials “DMR” inside the three leaves of a black and gold shamrock, which combines Rooney’s devotion to the Steelers and his time as the United States ambassador to Ireland. Steelers president Art Rooney II says the patch “really called out parts of his life that were important to him.”

“It’s going to mean so much to wear it,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “For me personally, I was really close to him. He was an excellent guy, a great person to be around. He knew everybody. He was really respected. I hope we can honor him as much as possible. It would mean a lot to all of us players and Steelers Nation.”

The Steelers also wore a jersey patch when Rooney’s father and team founder Art Rooney died in 1988 and they wore a helmet decal honoring longtime coach Chuck Noll when Noll died in 2014.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

DeAngelo Hall to open camp on the PUP list

Getty Images

Washington is hoping safety DeAngelo Hall is back to help stabilize the secondary this year, but he won’t be ready when camp opens.

According to John Keim of ESPN.com, Hall and linebacker Harrison Bates are going to open camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Both players tore ACLs last year, with Hall’s in September and Bates in December, so it’s reasonable that they’re not full speed at the moment.

The 33-year-old Hall took a pay cut this offseason, which was expected considering his role. He’s transitioned from cornerback to safety, and they have some young players there to start. But they value his leadership and want to keep him around.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Dalvin Cook: I cannot compare myself to Adrian Peterson at all

AP

The Vikings ended their working relationship with running back Adrian Peterson when they released the veteran early this offseason and part of the plan in the backfield with Peterson out of the picture is for second-round pick Dalvin Cook to have a big role in the offense.

The team is certainly bullish on Cook’s potential and Cook hopes to fulfill those expectations, but he doesn’t want to put himself in the shoes of his predecessor at this point.

“He is a future Hall of Famer,” Cook said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “This is my first year in the NFL. I am not as close to him, so I cannot compare myself to him at all because he is going to go down as one of the greatest backs in history probably. So I just have to go out there and work and I cannot have that in my head.”

There’s no arguing that Cook and Peterson are in very different places in their careers, but it seems likely that Peterson’s past work and what he does with the Saints in 2017 will be weighed against the numbers put up by Cook, Latavius Murray, Jerick McKinnon and anyone else who runs the ball in Minnesota this season.

Permalink 21 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Stephen Jones: Dak Prescott is going to be better than last year

Getty Images

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was the breakout star of the NFL last season, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

That’s the word from Cowboys Executive V.P. Stephen Jones, who said Prescott is committed to improving and will be better than he was as a rookie.

“He knows he’s got to take his game to another level,” Jones said. “The great ones get better each year. I think he expects that from himself, I know he puts in the work, I know he’s a leader, the team responds to him, the team wants to play hard for him. That’s rare. I think he’s going to answer the bell and I think he’s going to be better than he was last year.”

Jones said that while Prescott has enjoyed some of the fame and fortune of stardom, he hasn’t changed his approach to the game.

“I’m just amazed with how he handles himself,” Jones said. “Football is first. he’s got an insatiable appetite to want to get better.”

The Cowboys are putting pressure on Prescott to be the face of their franchise, and they think he’s up to the task.

Permalink 33 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

David Bruton retires after eight seasons

Getty Images

Safety David Bruton’s 2016 season came to an end after four games because of a concussion and those four contests will be the final ones of his NFL career.

Bruton was released by the Redskins in December and had a workout with the Ravens, but said his heart wasn’t in it after suffering six concussions and dealing with other injuries over the course of his career. That meant it was time to follow a new path and the former Bronco has enrolled at the University of Colorado-Denver to pursue a future as a physical therapist.

“I’m burnt-out, definitely worry about my health,” Bruton said, via ESPN.com. “Another season was cut short by a concussion [in 2016] — that’s six. I’m a guy who likes to use his brain. Especially back in school, I need as many brain cells as possible with all these science classes. It came down to health, and I’ve definitely had my time in the league. I’m ready to move on.”

Bruton was a fourth-round pick by the Broncos in 2009 and spent seven years with the team as a core member of their special teams units. He was part of their Super Bowl team after the 2015 season, but did not play in the win over the Panthers due to a fractured fibula.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mike Glennon trying to stay in the moment

AP

In May, Bears quarterback Mike Glennon was asked about the team trading up to draft Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick of the draft and Glennon said that “this year is my year” and that he isn’t worrying about anything beyond the 2017 season.

Not worrying isn’t exactly the same as not thinking, however. Glennon signed a three-year contract in Chicago this offseason, but the presence of a highly drafted rookie at the same position is a hard thing to ignore no matter how hard you might try.

“I’m sure my mind will wander; that’s just being a human,” Glennon told the Chicago Sun-Times. “But whenever I feel that, I’m going to try to bring myself back down to the present. The biggest thing is just staying in the moment. When you worry about the future, it creates unnecessary stress. And a lot of those thoughts will be negative rather than positive.”

Glennon’s time in Chicago may have an expiration date, but he also has an opportunity to play and show he’s capable of leading an NFL offense. If he does, his future in the league will look pretty bright even if the uniform he’ll be wearing is uncertain.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Monday morning one-liners

Getty Images

What will the Bills do with DT Adolphus Washington?

Dolphins WR DeVante Parker enters the 2017 season with high expectations.

A look at the Patriots’ backfield options.

A Jets-eye view of the AFC East.

The Ravens are looking for a few good options on offense.

Which Bengals are in line for extensions?

Breaking down the Browns’ wide receivers.

A review of the football camps run by several Steelers players this offseason.

It’s shaping up to be a pivotal year for Texans WR Jaelen Strong.

Frank Gore is back for another year atop the Colts running back depth chart.

The Jaguars have questions along their offensive line.

What can the Titans expect from their defensive linemen?

The Broncos quarterback competition is heating up again.

Five things to keep an eye on as the Chiefs start training camp.

John Pagano’s impact on the Raiders defense is something to watch as the 2017 season unfolds.

Should the Chargers consider bringing back WR Vincent Jackson?

The Cowboys believe QB Dak Prescott is committed to raising his game.

Will Giants coach Ben McAdoo back up S Landon Collinsbig talk?

Everything to look forward to during Eagles training camp.

A projected 53-man roster for the Redskins.

Checking out the Bears’ inside linebacker options.

Who will step forward in the Lions backfield?

Breaking down the Packers’ outside linebackers.

The Vikings hope their rookies can hit the ground running this year.

Will Falcons QB Matt Ryan repeat last year’s success?

Tracking expectations for Panthers QB Cam Newton.

Running through the top Saints position battles.

There will be new murals of Buccaneers players at Raymond James Stadium this year.

The Cardinals are looking for a No. 2 cornerback.

Sean McVay is embarking on his first season as the Rams head coach.

The 49ers could use Carlos Hyde and Joe Williams as a 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

S Earl Thomas‘ return to health is expected to lift the Seahawks defense.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Mike Zimmer expects Teddy Bridgewater to start camp on PUP list

Getty Images

The Vikings have been encouraged by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s return from last year’s traumatic knee injury. But they know he’s not quite ready for a full workload as camp opens.

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he expected Bridgewater would open camp on the physically unable to perform list.

“I think so, but again I haven’t seen him,” Zimmer said.

Bridgewater suffered a torn ACL and a dislocated knee in practice last August. He’s done some work with teammates during spring drills, and recently posted a workout photo without a knee brace.

He’s expected into camp Wednesday, at which point Zimmer can make a more detailed assessment, but Bridgewater not being ready at this point was fairly #asexpected.

Players can be activated from the PUP at any point during camp. If they stay on the list through the start of the regular season, it would rule him out for at least the first six weeks.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Browns may make Duke Johnson their No. 1 slot receiver

AP

Cleveland’s Duke Johnson is a running back, but he’s had more receiving yards than rushing yards in each of his first two NFL seasons. In his third season, he may not be a running back at all.

Johnson is the leading candidate to be the Browns’ No. 1 slot receiver, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

Last year Andrew Hawkins was the No. 1 slot receiver in Cleveland, but he left for New England in free agency.

As one of the few bright spots in Cleveland’s offense last season, Johnson caught 53 passes for 514 yards and ran 73 times for 358 yards.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jerrell Freeman saves fellow airline passenger with Heimlich

Getty Images

It’s a good thing Jerrell Freeman decided to have one last cheat meal before training camp.

The Bears linebacker made a last-minute call for some brisket at the airport in Austin Sunday, when he encountered a man who was choking, and saved him with the Heimlich maneuver.

According to Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, Freeman said the man initially just looked disoriented, before he realize how serious the situation was.

“Like he had forgotten something and was about to go running for it,” Freeman said. “But then he went around the table and started to look a little frantic. I’m thinking, ‘Man, this is odd. Maybe one of his kids walked off and he can’t find his kid or something?’”

Instead, the man was choking on his own brisket, and an older woman initially tried to perform the Heimlich herself, before yielding to an NFL linebacker who could put a little more force behind the move. Freeman said he’s never performed the move previously, but was taught by his mother, a nurse, how to do it.

“I grabbed him and tried to squeeze the life out of him,” Freeman said. “You’ve got to push in and up. So I did that and he started throwing up what he was choking on. I asked him if he was all right and he shook his head like ‘No!’

“I grabbed him again and hit him again with it. And when I put him down the second time, his eyes got big. He was like, ‘Oh, my god! I think you just saved my life, man!’ It was crazy.”

The choking victim, a man named Marcus Ryan, eventually introduced himself and mentioned his ribs were a little sore, when he realized an NFL player had dislodged his food in a rather forceful way.

Then both men were able to enjoy their brisket, chewing carefully.

“Crazy,” Freeman said. “Hey, I guess that was some good brisket. He wasn’t about to let that go to waste. You can’t get between a man and his brisket. I get it.”

Fortunately, Freeman was at the right place at the right time to help the victim, and the Bears can only hope he has the same kind of impact for them.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top