Mike Florio talks with Colts WR T.Y. Hilton about what exactly goes through his mind as he is ready to return a kick. They also discuss why Hilton thinks he’s had so much success so early in his career and how the team continues to battle for ill coach Chuck Pagano.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: T.Y. Hilton: Colts staying ChuckStrong
The Lions are clearly trying to mend fences with Calvin Johnson, inviting the retired wide receiver to training camp after an offseason of critical comments about the team. But they’ve taken another step to bring another legend back into the fold.
Via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, the Lions have hired Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders as a “brand ambassador.”
Sanders’ sudden walkaway after 10 seasons was the template for Johnson leaving the team at 30. Like Johnson, he was still producing at a high level when he retired (rushing for 1,491 yards in his 10th season). But the abrupt departure caught many off guard, which is why the team feels this is an important move.
“We’ve thankfully, the last couple years, had an unofficial relationship with him,” team president Rod Wood said. “This year, we formalized it. You described it well, it’s kind of a brand ambassador. He’ll be going on road trips, showing up for suite visits, he’ll be at the Taste of the Lions event, and just interacting with our fans on behalf of the team.
“It’s a formal agreement. I worked with Barry and his agent to put something together that works for both of us. It’s not a football role. It’s more of a marketing, business role.”
Though the circumstances of Sanders’ and Johnson’s departures from the team are similar, Wood was hesitant to connect recent efforts to get them back in the family.
“I’m not going to try and draw comparisons to the two,” Wood said. “I wasn’t here when Barry left, but I’ve been really involved bringing him back into the fold. Like I’ve said, I’m confident the Calvin situation will work itself out.”
Considering some of the things Johnson has said lately, it might take a little more time on that front.
It’s late July, and no one has put on pads yet. So naturally, they all think they’re going to the Super Bowl.
OK, maybe not the Jets.
But New York’s other team is in position to contend for the title, according to their longest-tenured defensive player.
“I think the key is we added a lot of guys and people are like ‘Wow, this year has to be a team that goes to a Super Bowl this year,’ ’’ Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “But it’s all about the hard work.’’
Much of that offseason work included signing Pierre-Paul to a long-term deal, though the rest of their big moves were on offense after last year’s splurge on defensive free agents. And has hard as it may be to believe, the 28-year-old is an elder statesman now, with only quarterback Eli Manning and long snapper Zak DeOssie having been there longer.
“That’s crazy,’’ he said. “Nobody on that defense has been here longer than me, I’ve been there the longest, I know what it takes to get to the Super Bowl, to bring a Giants pride in our heart. That’s what defense is really about.’’
And because it’s late July, they (along with everyone else in the league) think that will lead them to Minnesota for the Super Bowl.
The Los Angeles Rams are set to add former Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos executive Brian Xanders to their front office, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.
The Lions decided to part ways with Xanders in May. He had been a holdover from prior general manager Martin Mayhew and the Lions’ new G.M., Bob Quinn, elected to move on without him.
Xanders could be filling the post vacated by the departure of Ran Carthon in April. Carthon had served as the Rams’ director of pro personnel for the last five seasons.
Xanders spent the last four years in Detroit as a senior personnel executive. He had previously served five years in Denver – first as an assistant general manager in 2008 and then four years as the general manager with the Broncos through the 2012 season. He spent 14 years with the Atlanta Falcons in various roles before heading to Denver.
Green Bay Packers safeties coach Darren Perry pleaded no contest and was fined for a December arrest for drunk driving, according to Paul Srubas of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Perry was fined $225 with an eight-month suspension of his license for the first-time offense, which is deemed an ordinance violation in Brown County. Additional fees and costs bring the total to $956. The plea agreement led to other charges being dropped against Perry, including unsafe lane deviation and refusal to take a breathalyzer test.
Perry has spent eight seasons with the Packers and 15 years in the NFL as a coach. He spent time as an assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders before joining Mike McCarthy’s staff in Green Bay in 2009.
As training camp gets set to open for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team placed fullback Marquez Williams on the physically unable to perform list on Thursday.
Williams was a seventh-round pick of the Jaguars in May’s NFL Draft out of the University of Miami.
Williams will continue to count against the 90-man roster limit in the preseason and be activated any time before the start of the regular season upon passing a physical. Players must be on the PUP list from the start of training camp in order to be eligible for the in-season version of the list, which would require the players to miss the first six weeks of the regular season before being eligible to return.
Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wants every player on his unit to learn two positions. Linebacker Jamie Collins reminds Williams that he played safety at Southern Mississippi.
“He’s begging me to play safety,” Williams said, via Patrick Maks of the team website. “And I’m not saying he couldn’t be the best one out there right now. If he wanted to play defensive end, he could play defensive end.”
Collins, who arrived in Cleveland after a midseason trade with the Patriots, is versatile, athletic and intelligent, Williams said. Collins played quarterback in high school, and, at an offseason skills challenge, he drained a 30-yard throw into the kicking net on the first try.
“There’s lots of things about his versatility,” Williams said, “that it’s going to be fun and challenging to find spots to cut him loose.”
In eight games with Cleveland last season, Collins made 69 tackles and two sacks and forced a fumble.
Adams’ deal will be a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year.
Adams was the top defensive back selected in the draft in a class considered deep in secondary talent. He appeared in 36 games at LSU over the last three seasons with 209 total tackles, 18 for loss with two sacks, five interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Just five draft picks now remain unsigned: 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas (No. 3 overall), Titans receiver Corey Davis (No. 5 overall), Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley (No. 24 overall) and safety Jabrill Peppers (No. 25 overall). The Raiders’ second-rounder, Obi Melifonwu, also remains unsigned.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported earlier this week that Roger Goodell remains miffed about Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s choice to wear a T-shirt mocking the Commissioner upon the team’s return from Super Bowl LI. Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich says get over it.
“Everyone has the right to wear whatever shirt they want,” Ninkovich said on Boston Herald Radio’s “The Rundown.” “Everyone has to wear a shirt, right? You can’t just wear no shirt. I think someone threw it at [Patricia], and he said, ‘All right, nice shirt, it’s cool, it’s blue, so I’ll put it on.’ I thought it was a funny shirt.”
Goodell hasn’t returned to Foxboro since the Deflategate controversy began but is expected for the regular-season opener there Sept. 7. He could bump into Patricia, who wore Barstool Sports Goodell-with-a-clown-nose T-shirt as he deplaned after the return from Houston in February.
Ninkovich doesn’t expect Patricia’s choice of T-shirt to hinder the defensive coordinator’s chances of getting a head coaching job.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Ninkovich said. “People want to take it how they want to take it. If you really think about it, everyone has to wear clothes, so you just put a shirt on, and you know, it is what it is. I think it’s a nice shirt. It’s blue. I love blue. My favorite color is blue.”
While his teammates were vacationing, Dak Prescott was hard at work in Orlando. He has spent his off time training with renowned athletic performance trainer Tom Shaw at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The quarterback finished up his extra work with Shaw on Thursday and headed home as the Cowboys report for physicals Friday.
“He is serious about improving all aspects of his game – and I mean all of it,” Shaw said, via Walt Disney World Sports Public Relations. “He works on the non-football stuff – the conditioning, the core strength work, the weight room strength work, and he attacks the on-field work that’s necessary to become a great player in the NFL. This guy is a worker.”
Prescott began working with Shaw, a former strength and conditioning coach for the Patriots and Saints, before the 2016 draft. The Cowboys made Prescott a fourth-round draft pick, and he won offensive rookie of the year honors after posting a 13-3 record.
“I think he’s the best,” Prescott said of Shaw. “He’s my guy. He tells you exactly what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear. He is honest with all the guys which I greatly appreciate. I came here to Disney to train because I wanted to be in the best possible condition when I go back to my team. I wanted to get that good sweat in down here in Florida to make sure that from a conditioning standpoint, I’m ready to go when my team heads to training camp in California.”
Prescott didn’t show many weaknesses last season after passing for 23 touchdowns and four interceptions, but according to him, he has some. So this offseason, as defensive coordinators worked to take way Prescott’s strengths, Prescott worked to improve his weaknesses.
“Coach Shaw talks to us all the time about turning your weaknesses into strengths, so that’s what I’ve been focusing on during the majority of the spring,” Prescott said. “As an NFL quarterback, there is always some aspect of your game — accuracy, footwork, strength — something you can always work on to improve, so that’s been my focus.”
Shaw raved about Prescott’s work ethic, believing that is what will separate the former Mississippi State star in the NFL.
“This guy has a chance to be an elite quarterback in the NFL,” Shaw said. “The game is important to him. He wants to improve, and he works at it. That’s the way you improve in the NFL: You have to work at it, and that’s what Dak does.”
Ezekiel Elliott has made the headlines several times for the wrong reasons in his brief career. But former teammate Tony Romo said adjusting to the spotlight that comes with playing in the NFL takes time, and insists the star running back will “figure it out and be fine.”
“Zeke, he’s a friend,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I know that he’s a good kid. He’s just trying to find his way. He’s in a position that he’s always going to be in a spot where people are going to take a photo, they’re going to talk about him. We all get these little times in our career where you can go two different directions. He’s figuring it out. He’s obviously made some choices he’ll reflect back and wish he done a little different. But at the same time, just not a whole lot of people are really thrust into this spotlight, this soon, at that age. Really, even in the National Football League there’s only a few of them. I always want to give people a little grace period and a little time. The fact the I know him and I know his personality and how much good he does off the field, how good he is with people, I think he’s going to figure it out and be fine. But like we say, you always got to take responsibility and try to improve in all facets of life.”
Dallas police suspended an investigation into a Sunday night altercation involving Elliott after the alleged victim failed to respond to multiple attempts to contact him and no witnesses came forward. But Elliott also remains under investigation by the NFL for allegations of domestic violence made against him by a former girlfriend a year ago; he is appealing a misdemeanor conviction for speeding after a state trooper clocked his 2016 Dodge Charger traveling 100 mph; he exposed a woman’s breasts during a St. Patrick’s Day parade; and he visited a marijuana dispensary in Seattle last preseason.
Coach Jason Garrett offered support to Elliott on Wednesday, saying, “Zeke’s someone we believe very strongly in as a person and as a football player, and we’re going to continue to believe in him and try to put a structure around him and all of our players to help them make great decisions and grow – grow on and off the field.”
The Cowboys’ veterans report to The Star for physicals on Friday. The team leaves for Oxnard, Calif., on Saturday.
The Ravens made several moves Thursday.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes won’t be missing any of his first NFL training camp due to a contract dispute.
Mahomes was one of the few unsigned 2017 draft picks left in the league until the Chiefs announced on Thursday afternoon that he has agreed to a contract with the team. Like all first-round picks, Mahomes’ contract runs four years with a team option for a fifth season.
Mahomes went to Kansas City with the 10th overall pick after the Chiefs made a trade with the Bills to move into the spot. They gave up a third-round pick and next year’s first-round selection for a player who is expected to serve as a backup to Alex Smith for at least one season before taking over as the team’s starter.
With Mahomes under contract, there are six unsigned picks left around the league. Five of them are first-round selections, including three of the top six picks, but things could start to move with Mahomes and second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky agreeing to deals in the last two days.
The Patriots released offensive lineman Chase Farris on Thursday.
Farris, 24, spent the majority of last season on the New England practice squad after first being signed to the squad on Oct. 5, 2016.
The Lions originally signed Farris as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State. Detroit released him before the start of the season, though the Lions re-signed him to the practice squad before releasing him Sept. 21, 2016.
Farris began his college career as a defensive lineman and transitioned to the offensive line following his sophomore season. He was a starter at right tackle during his senior season at Ohio State in 2015.
Chargers first-round pick Mike Williams is dealing with a back injury that could leave him unavailable to the team during his rookie season and having a wideout dealing with an injury is something quarterback Philip Rivers has become overly accustomed to over the years.
In 2016, for example, Rivers played 15-plus games without having Keenan Allen in the lineup. Allen tore his ACL in the first game of the season, leaving him with just six catches for 63 yards to show for the year.
Allen, who also missed eight games with a lacerated kidney in 2015, was working on the field with the team during OTAs this spring and Rivers said he doesn’t think anyone will notice a difference in the wideout’s play.
“I really think he looks as good as he did before he got hurt,” Rivers said on The Rich Eisen Show.
A healthy Allen is a vital piece of the Chargers offensive puzzle whether Williams is healthy enough to contribute this year or not, so Rivers’ words are encouraging even if history provides reason to be skeptical that the rookie’s injury is the last one the Chargers will deal with this year.
The Cowboys were losing $1 million a month when Jerry Jones bought them for $140 million in 1989. They now rank atop Forbes’ annual team value rankings at $4.2 billion.
Every owner these days is trying to keep up with Jones, who enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.
“The NFL was always a dream of mine, an ambition of mine, and I must say that almost within months of the time that I actually could afford to basically be involved — 29 years ago — to be involved in an ownership position, I immediately exchanged the financial security and basically put our future, put practically everything in terms of the Dallas Cowboys in buying the team,” Jones said on a Hall of Fame press conference Thursday. “It was not a pretty investment. It wasn’t one that you or anybody else would admire at the time. That was not the point. The point was what it could do. It really does show that in spite of some of the physical aspects of challenges that if you just have enough passion about things [you can be successful]. My most important thing is I don’t think I’ve worked a day since I bought the Dallas Cowboys. It has absolutely been a labor of love every morning, and I’ve [never] been more excited about the future, the future of the league, the future of the Cowboys, my future. I’m more excited today than I was maybe in ’89 when I became involved.”