Skip to content

Every week, Ronde Barber expects Bucs to win

AP

A year ago, as the Buccaneers were sliding from 4-2 to 4-12, the presumption every week was that they’d lose.

Now, the presumption by one of their defensive leaders is that they’ll win.

Cornerback Ronde Barber explained this week that the team has him believing that, regardless of what happens during a given game, the team will finish with more points on the board.

“Here we are three weeks in a row feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Barber said on the Buccaneers Radio Network, via JoeBucsFan.com.  “It’s one of those things where a team starts getting some confidence and, you know, you feel like you’re going to win every week.  I don’t know if you ask everyone else that they believe that, but for me these past couple of weeks have really felt like this is the week where we’re going to just keep rolling regardless of what happens in the game.  And that was the really the case [against the Chargers].”

Though the Bucs are looking good, the upcoming schedule isn’t.  They still play the Falcons twice, the Saints in New Orleans, and the Broncos in Denver.

Still, it’s a far cry from 2011, and the future is bright for the Bucs under Greg Schiano.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Carolina Panthers, Home, Rumor Mill, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
yo

Tyrann Mathieu getting confidence back for “real important camp”

Getty Images

Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu thinks he is the “best defensive player in the NFL” when he’s healthy, which suggests an overwhelming amount of confidence in his own ability.

His injury record doesn’t create the same kind of confidence about his ability to actually stay healthy, however, and playing in a career-low 10 games last season seems to have taken a toll on Mathieu’s belief in himself. Mathieu said on Monday that he is spending the early practices in training camp rediscovering the confidence he needs to thrive on the field.

“I feel good,” Mathieu said, via the Arizona Republic. “Just easing back into it, working back into it. Just gaining that confidence back, which is extremely important for me. Obviously, it’s a real important camp for me. Expectations are high for myself, so really I’m just going to take this time to work on fundamentals and like I said, get that confidence back.”

Coach Bruce Arians agreed that it is a “big year” for Mathieu, who he said needs to show that he can get back to being the player the Cardinals recognize from his best days in past seasons. Staying healthy will be crucial to that effort because another year with big chunks of time on the sideline will make it much harder to be confident that Mathieu can ever fully overcome the injury bug.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Browns rookie Howard Wilson lands on PUP list

Getty Images

Browns rookie Howard Wilson’s first NFL experience wasn’t a particularly good one as the cornerback broke his kneecap during the first practice of the team’s rookie minicamp.

He’s not ready for his second practice yet. Wilson was placed on the physically unable to perform list Monday as a result of the injury.

There was uncertainty at the time of the injury about whether Wilson would need surgery and Wilson said last month, via Cleveland.com, that it was still unclear if he’ll have an operation. As a result, the timeline for a return to the field is also unknown.

The Browns signed veteran corner Jason McCourty after Wilson’s injury and he’s expected to join Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor at the top of the depth chart in Cleveland.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Koa Misi not ready to practice as he rehabs neck injury

Getty Images

The Dolphins are still hoping to get linebacker Koa Misi back on the field, but it doesn’t appear that’s going to happen when they start camp this weekend.

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the veteran linebacker hasn’t been cleared by doctors to return after neck surgery. That almost certainly means he’ll start camp on the physically unable to perform list.

The 30-year-old Misi hasn’t played 16 games in a season since his rookie year (2011), and some thought the neck injury might be a career-ender.

But he’s been encouraged by recent medical reports, and took a pay cut (again) to hang around.

If he’s not ready to play, the Dolphins will probably have to rely on second-round pick Raekwon McMillan as a starter.

 

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys suggest Lucky Whitehead release resulted from accumulation of mistakes

Getty Images

The Cowboys have had a bizarre week of so, culminating in Monday’s news of a shoplifting arrest for receiver Lucky Whitehead, a clumsy “it wasn’t me” defense pushed to the infobots by Whitehead’s agent, and a swift decision by the team to reject the claim of mistaken identity and to cut Whitehead.

Regardless of whether there’s any merit to David Rich’s Eddie Murphy/Shaggy claim that Whitehead isn’t the guy who was arrested in Whitehead’s home county in Virginia, it’s clear that it wasn’t a one-strike, zero-tolerance move to move on from him.

“We evaluate the situation and how it was handled by the player after the incident and we evaluate the body of work,” coach Jason Garrett said Monday, via Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “When you have someone in your program in this environment and they don’t grow, and they make the same mistakes over and over again, it’s time to move on.”

Cowboys executive Stephen Jones insisted that the release of Whitehead wasn’t aimed at sending a message to the roster, and that it was driven only by his situation.

“We looked at it, we looked at his full body of work and we made a decision to move on,” Jones said, per Hill. “We feel like we’ve given Lucky a lot of different chances along the way going back to last year and I think just decided it was time to go in a different direction.”

Still, the question of whether Whitehead actually was arrested for shoplifting, and then failed to show up in court, remains unresolved. Regardless of any flight records that seem to show Whitehead wasn’t even in Manassas, Virginia at the time of the arrest, police typically gather, you know, photos and fingerprints of people who are arrested. And so if it wasn’t Whitehead who was arrested, that should be fairly easy to prove.

While it doesn’t matter for the Cowboys, it’s going to matter for anyone who may be considering claiming him on waivers. Because if Whitehead was indeed arrested and failed to show up in court on the charges and is now trying to suggest some sort of reverse fall guy situation, it’s all the more reason to avoid him.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tuesday morning one-liners

Getty Images

How many new starters will the Bills field on their offensive line?

What will DE Charles Harris give the Dolphins in his rookie season?

The Patriots secondary looks well stocked this year.

A call for the Jets to give RB Bilal Powell more work.

Said Ravens TE Maxx Williams of his recovery from a knee injury, “I’m finally back where I want to be. Now I just have to prove that I can play football again and show why I’m here.”

A look at the Bengals’ kicking competition.

The Browns have made a lot of changes to the roster since this time last year.

Steelers LB Keion Adams is heading into his first NFL training camp.

Texans RB Akeem Hunt believes he’ll surprise a lot of people this season.

Projecting playing time for the Colts rookies.

The Jaguars have used free agency and high draft picks to stock their defensive line.

CB Logan Ryan likes his new teammates in the Titans secondary.

The Broncos announced themes for their 2017 home games.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid discussed the recent changes to the team’s front office.

Raiders DE Khalil Mack wants a spot on HBO.

A look at what might interest the Chargers about QB Robert Griffin III.

WR Lucky Whitehead’s release was the big story for the Cowboys on Monday.

Former Giants players offered some advice to this year’s team.

Rookie CB Rasul Douglas is working through growing pains at Eagles practices.

The glory days for the Redskins are moving further into the past.

WR Victor Cruz said having former Giants teammates around helps his transition to the Bears.

A store in Michigan was selling t-shirts commemorating the Lions’ non-existent 2016 division title.

The Packers would like to have a Wisconsin-Notre Dame game at Lambeau Field.

Vikings CB Antone Exum is happy to be healthy.

Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff hopes rookie DE Takkarist McKinley is ready for the final preseason games.

The Panthers defense is looking for a little anger.

TE Josh Hill looks set to open Saints training camp on the active roster.

Will the Buccaneers defense keep forcing turnovers?

Cardinals rookies are looking to veterans for the right approach to training camp.

More hits in the draft would help the Rams turn things around.

A 49ers roster projection shows how much they’ve changed this offseason.

Previewing the competition for Seahawks cornerback spots.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Former Jet sues Jeff Sessions over marijuana laws

Getty Images

At a time when the Attorney General wants to crack down rather than relax marijuana laws, a former Jets player is part of a lawsuit naming Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

According to Julia Marsh of the New York Post, former Jets defensive lineman Marvin Washington is one of five plaintiffs suing to decriminalize marijuana. Other of the plaintiffs include an 11-year-old epilepsy patient who needs medical marijuana treatment and a disabled military veteran using the drug to control his post traumatic stress syndrome.

Washington is suing because the law prevents him from receiving federal grants to open a medical marijuana business, in hopes of allowing football players to find a pain management path without opioids.

The suit challenges the constitutionality of the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, which lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug along with heroin and LSD, while meth and cocaine are more benignly listed as Schedule II drugs.

“The record makes clear that the CSA doesn’t make any rational sense and the federal government knows it,” attorney Michael Hiller said.

Washington played eight seasons with the Jets, won a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos in 1998 and spent two years with the 49ers.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bruce Arians praises former first-rounder Robert Nkemdiche

Getty Images

Robert Nkemdiche’s 2016 started by going out the window. Once he got to Arizona, he was more often under the bus.

But after an utterly disappointing rookie season in which he appeared in only five games and collected three tackles, the Cardinals are encouraged by what they’ve seen so far from the mammoth defensive tackle.

Via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians praised Nkemdiche for being “disruptive” (which is a good thing in this context) and said there was a good reason for it.

He just had to learn what pro football is all about,” Arians said. “When you’re the No.1 high school recruit in the country and you kicked everybody’s ass in high school, and you did it in college, you just showed up and did it.

“That doesn’t work here, especially when you’ve got guys that have children and are paying bills. This is a whole different level here. . . . Guys that were highly recruited sometimes have such an entitlement that it doesn’t work here.”

The physical talent was never a question. But his pro career that began with the bizarre story of his falling out an Atlanta hotel window while under the influence of something. The police said drugs, Nkemdiche said he was just drunk (such that that makes it better when you’re flying, somewhere between window and Earth). His rookie season made little more sense. He was openly criticized by Arians last year and routinely made inactive.

If he has truly learned how to work like a pro, it will go a long way toward helping the Cardinals replace Calais Campbell, who left for the free agency dollars in Jacksonville.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Falcons feel good about Julio Jones’ recovery from foot surgery

Getty Images

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones may face a limited rep count when he returns to the field in training camp on Thursday, but the team feels good about his progress from foot surgery.

Atlanta General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said Jones is doing well, although the Falcons don’t know how much they’ll have to limit him.

“He’s healed up very, very well,” Dimitroff said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are ready for him to jump into camp. I’m don’t know the exact rep count, but as you know Julio will do what he feels he can do. . . . He’s so competitive when he gets back on the field. We’ll continue to monitor him.”

Jones had the surgery in March and was given a recovery time of 4-5 months.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Which offseason narrative are you not buying?

AP

As training camps open, the many offseason narratives and assumptions can finally, or at least eventually, be replaced with fact.

So which of the many beliefs, assumptions, whatever about the 2017 season aren’t you buying? That’s the Tuesday PFT Live question of the day.

Examples include, for instance: (1) the Patriots can be penciled in for the Super Bowl; (2) Adrian Peterson will revert to his 2015 form in New Orleans; (3) the Seahawks will have a Super Bowl LI hangover; (4) the Seahawks still have a Super Bowl XLIX hangover; (5) the Titans will have a breakthrough season, etc. Etc. Etc.

Mention any of those or any others in the comments. The best ones may be mentioned on the air. Absent any efforts to wedge in profanity.

Barstool Big Cat of the Pardon My Take podcast will join the program again, for the two TV hours. It all gets started at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, before sliding over to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Panthers sign receiver Trevor Graham

Getty Images

With players set to report to training camp on Tuesday, the Carolina Panthers made one last addition to their roster before getting their season preparations underway.

The Panthers announced Monday they have signed receiver Trevor Graham. The Panthers’ roster is now full with 90 players under contract.

Graham, known by his initials T.J. when he was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Buffalo Bills, has decided to go with his given first name instead.

Graham was not on an NFL roster last season after the Philadelphia Eagles released him in August. Given the Eagles struggles at wide receiver last year, that may not bode well for Graham’s chances of making the Panthers roster.

Graham caught 54 passes for 683 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons with the Bills before being released at the end of training camp in 2014.  He briefly stopped in Tennessee before appearing in 12 games for the New York Jets that season and four games for the New Orleans Saints in 2015. He totaled just seven catches for 111 yards and a touchdown over that span.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Plaxico Burress, Tommy Kelly join Cardinals as coaching interns

AP

Former receiver Plaxico Burress and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly have joined the Arizona Cardinals for training camp as coaching interns on Bruce Arians’ staff.

According to Craig Grialou of ArizonaSports.com, Edwards and Kelly are among several coaching interns serving on staff for training camp.

Burress played under Arians for one season in Pittsburgh when Arians was the Steelers’ wide receivers coach in 2004. Kelly played his final season under Arians in Arizona in 2014.

It’s a regular occurrence around the league to have extra bodies help as interns on the coaching staff with the increased roster size of training camp. Burress spent 12 seasons in the NFL with the Steelers, New York Jets and New York Giants. Kelly played 11 seasons with the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Saints activate Travin Dural from non-football injury list

Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints had placed wide receiver Travin Dural on the non-football injury as rookies reported to training camp last week.

The stay on the NFI list ultimately ended up being a short one. Dural passed his physical with the team on Monday and will be able to practice when the Saints first take to the practice field later this week.

Dural caught 37 passes for 758 yards and seven touchdowns with LSU in 2014. He appeared in 38 career games, catching 100 passes for 1,716 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chargers interested in Griffin but not Kaepernick

Getty Images

When other quarterbacks get workouts or sign contracts with teams instead of Colin Kaepernick, there are semi-plausible ways to distinguish the situation based on football principles. When Robert Griffin III draws interest from the Chargers and Kaepernick doesn’t, it’s impossible to explain the interest in one and not the other.

Unless, of course, the Chargers are deliberately shying away from Kaepernick for the reasons that many assume teams are shying away from Kaepernick — because he used the platform provided by an NFL team to lead a movement.

Kaepernick has achieved far more from a football standpoint than Griffin, who simply hasn’t been able to adjust his game to the pro level, where he can’t ran away from trouble like he did in high school and at Baylor. At the NFL level, he gets hit and he gets hurt and he hasn’t done squat since before injuring his knee against the Ravens as a rookie.

No one would suggest he has mastered a pro style offense. He’s roughly the same kind of quarterback that Kaepernick has been, and the Chargers being interested in the lesser option who has roughly the same skill set makes the decision to shun Kaepernick for either political or clumsily-justified business reasons obvious.

Sure, the Chargers may be concerned about alienating the L.A. market at a time when two teams are vying for the same hearts, minds, and wallets. But there’s also a way to argue that signing Kaepernick would give the Chargers an edge by immediately attracting the many fans in Southern California who would embrace Kaepernick’s activism.

Regardless of whether the reasons reflect prudence or wrong-headedness, the Chargers taking a look at Griffin and not Kaepernick confirms the idea that Kaepernick’s unemployment isn’t about football — and it definitely isn’t about catering to the many fans who would deem his non-football efforts to be a reason for becoming a fan of the L.A. Chargers.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

David Irving on his suspension: I made the mistake

Getty Images

Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving thought the NFL had erred when he received word of a failed drug test.

I was pretty upset,” Irving said, via Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. “As soon as I got the letter I called right away, like, ‘What the [expletive]! This has to be a mistake.’ But it wasn’t. I made the mistake.”

Irving, who earned NFC defensive player of the week honors when he forced three fumbles and had a sack in 19 snaps against the Packers in Week 6, will miss the first four games after violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. Irving used an over-the-counter substance he hoped to endorse.

“Everything listed on the bottle was fine,” Irving said. “It was supposed to be all natural, but [it had] a hidden ingredient. It was a substance that actually wasn’t even listed on the bottle. When I asked about the substance, they don’t even know the substance. I guess my testosterone levels were too high.

“It gets you going. I started taking it after the season when you’re not working out with the team, you know, something to get my ass in the gym. It’s funny, I thought I was hitting a second puberty.”

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Jaylon Smith’s nerve shows improvement as Cowboys have high hopes for LB

AP

Jaylon Smith’s latest electromyogram (EMG) test showed improvement in the nerve, and though it still may be months before the linebacker’s peroneal nerve fully regenerates, it was good news.

Smith is practicing with his teammates, something he wasn’t able to do this time last year.

It feels great,” Smith said, via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News. “Last year I was kind of a spectator just in the beginning stages of rehab. Now I’m in the mix and playing football.

“The plan is to work hard and every day. It varies as far as the scheduling. I’m just doing everything that they allow me to do.”

Smith, who will practice every other day during camp, has vowed to play in the season opener. His return to action has not been questioned as much as how good he will play if he has to wear a brace for drop foot. But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones compared Smith to a “No. 1 draft pick.”

Smith was rated as a top-10 pick for the 2016 draft before his devastating left knee injury during Notre Dame’s bowl game Jan. 1, 2016. The Cowboys used a second-round pick on Smith, who spent last season rehabbing.

“He was at the top of the board and would have been at the top of the board this year,” Jones said. “The caveat is what we all wonder. Can he play like he had the career playing at that particular time? So that’s what we’re here to see. To me, he’s just like looking at a No. 1 draft pick out here coming out on the field for the first time.

“We all know his circumstances, and what he needs to overcome. It looks really good, all testing, all feeling, really looks as good as I could have hoped that it would look at the time. We’ll see.”

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top