Mike Florio takes calls and tweets from PFT Planet to discuss the biggest news in the NFL. The New England Patriots are a sure-shot for the playoffs, but can they run the table if they’re sitting at a No. 3 seed? What’s wrong with Drew Brees? Will Oregon’s style of play under coach Chip Kelly translate well in the NFL, particularly in Philadelphia?
PFT Live: Can Patriots dominate as No. 3 seed?
Tackle Winston Justice has racked up some frequent flier miles of late as he’s jumped from city to city in search of a team to sign him for the 2013 season.
Nashville is the latest stop on his tour. John Glennon of the Tennessean reports that Justice spent Monday visiting with the Titans as Tennessee checks out possible alternatives for David Stewart at right tackle. Stewart isn’t back on the field yet after breaking his leg last season and the Titans have also met with Eric Winston in the last month as they check in on the veterans still on the free agent market or at least those veterans with Winston somewhere in their name.
Justice has also visited with the Chargers, Lions, Dolphins, Steelers and Browns this offseason. The Dolphins have since signed Tyson Clabo and the Steelers added Guy Whimper, but the others may still be in the mix as his eventual landing spot.
Guard Antoine Caldwell also visited with the Titans Monday. Caldwell started six games for the Texans last season as part of a problematic right side of the offensive line. With Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack joining the team this offseason, Caldwell would be trying to be the team’s third guard if he signed in Tennessee.
It was a long week away, but Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network is back on Monday afternoon.
Helping us celebrate the return will be 49ers rookie running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore went in the fourth round of the draft last month after a college career marked by both stupendous performances and season-ending knee injuries. Those injuries could turn 2013 into a “redshirt” year for Lattimore and he’ll talk to Erik Kuselias about his thoughts about that possibility.
Mike Florio and Ross Tucker will also be on hand to discuss the biggest news of the day. They’ll also break down some burning questions for teams in the AFC West with the OTA phase of the offseason well underway. And PFT Planet once again has the chance to pick the final topic of the day from Rob Gronkowski’s latest injury updates, the proposed changes to the league calender and the best remaining free agent on the market.
It all gets underway at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
The club’s official Twitter account posted a picture of Harris, a cornerback from New Mexico State, signing his contract.
From a size standpoint, Harris (6-2, 181) fits the mold of the bigger cornerback new Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley had success with as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. Should Harris make the roster, he would likely figure as a reserve in his first NFL season.
Harris recorded 56 tackles, defended 11 passes and recorded one interception in his senior season with the Aggies in 2012.
Texans linebacker Brian Cushing has said that his goal is to return from his torn ACL as a better player than he was before the injury and it sounds like there’s a good shot that he’ll be able to start trying to reach it when the team starts training camp.
Cushing said that he hasn’t had any setbacks while steadily doing more work. He’s up to running, squatting, jumping and doing position drills in his rehab and said that he feels he’s just missing a little bit of strength in the left knee as he prepares to get back on the field.
“My return is right around the corner, so that’s a good feeling,” Cushing said, via the Texans website. “I can definitely tell you I’ll be ready for the first game of the season, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready for the first practice come training camp.”
Cushing injured his knee on October 8, which means it will have been more than nine full months since his injury when training camp gets underway. He may not be ready for a full workload at that point, but it appears he should avoid the PUP list for even a limited amount of time this summer.
Bills defensive end Mario Williams is embroiled in a lawsuit with his ex-fiancée, attempting to force her to return a $785,000 engagement ring. As part of that lawsuit, his ex-fiancée has released text messages in which Williams discusses taking prescription painkillers and having thoughts of suicide.
But Williams says that’s nothing for anyone to worry about.
“I could really care less. I mean, all it is is allegations, text messages or what not, whatever information blown out of proportion. I mean it’s completely out of context,” Williams said of the released text messages, via WGR.
Williams says that when he mentioned “suicidal thoughts” in a text message, he was “just venting.” Asked about the suicides of Junior Seau and Jovan Belcher, Williams was quick to answer, “Dude, I’m nowhere near that position.”
Williams also said he only uses painkillers as directed by the team’s medical staff.
“Anything I take is 100 percent prescribed, given from here,” Williams said, referring to the doctors at the Bills’ facility.
Blown out of proportion or not, these are the kinds of embarrassing stories that tend to come out when people get involved in litigation with their exes. That’s why it’s wise to take it slowly with romantic relationships, and wiser still to buy a more sensible engagement ring, and save the $785,000 jewelry for the 50th anniversary.
With six teams to go, let’s turn our attention to the franchise that produced six Pro Bowlers in 2012. And somehow only two wins.
But the Chiefs have had plenty of proud moments, dating back to participation in the first Super Bowl.
Here’s your chance to scour the team’s rosters all the way back to the days of the Dallas Texans and vote for the four members of the franchise (player, coach, other) who should be on the Chiefs’ Mt. Rushmore.
From Hank Stram to Lamar Hunt to Derrick Thomas to Len Dawson to Willie Lanier to Otis Taylor to Emmitt Thomas to Bobby Bell to Tony Gonzalez, there are plenty of deserving candidates. Name your favorites below.
Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes is not volunteering for voluntary workouts.
And while that seems like the definition of no news, the fact it’s so unusual makes it so.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Spikes has been working out on his own, and isn’t staying away because he’s unhappy with his contract, which expires after this season. Every other starter has been at the facility in some capacity since the offseason program began on April 15.
A source told Howe that Spikes would report by or before the team’s June 11-13 minicamp.
The team is having an open-to-the-media OTA tomorrow, giving Patriots coach Bill Belichick a chance to discuss Spikes’ absence.
I’m sure it will be an enlightening conversation.
When players are drafted by NFL teams, they may have some past allegiances to other clubs to put aside.
Sometimes that doesn’t happen quite quickly enough to please fans of their new team. Such is the case for Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, who posted a Vine video of himself wearing a Raiders hat while sipping on a drink. The Raiders and Chargers have had a healthy animosity for one another since their days in the AFL and that’s led to some angry reactions from Chargers fans on social media.
Lobshots.com has compiled some of these responses (there’s some not safe for work language in that mix) as well as the offending picture, which has since been deleted. Allen has also tweeted out an apology and promise that he won’t be wearing any more silver and black in the future.
That’s a prudent fashion choice on Allen’s part, although the phrase making mountains out of molehills does come to mind. While the prospect of an NFL rookie coming into the league to make as a secret agent tasked with taking down an organization makes for a corker of a story, there’s not much chance our fictional Manchurian Candidate would spell out his intentions by wearing another team’s hat in public.
The Seahawks might lead the league in PED suspensions, but it’s apparently not for a lack of trying.
Seahawks General Manager John Schneider called Bruce Irvin’s suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances “very disappointing,” and said the team has “gone above and beyond what the league has done,” in terms of educating players.
Schneider’s remarks came on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon, and made it clear the team’s trying to curb a trend.
“This is something we take very seriously here,” Schenider said. “The league has done a great job of educating guys and we’ve actually gone above and beyond what the league has done. We have a guy in place here that helps our player development people. You do what you can. It’s very disappointing. Pete [Carroll] and I sat down with Bruce. Pete addressed it with the team. Bruce addressed the team.
“And, you know, really good organizations are the organizations that can take body blows. We look at this as a learning opportunity and one that obviously needs to be addressed, but this is also an opportunity for others to step forward.”
The Seahawks prepared for the suspension by signing free agents Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, but they’ll be required to change even more while they wait on Irvin to be reinstated and Chris Clemons to return from a knee injury.
“And we have to treat it really, quite honestly, like he sustained a high ankle sprain or something,” Schneider said. “And you make those adjustments whether it be in the game or during the offseason.”
Schneider said after doing research on players in college, he’s not surprised at the numbers of suspensions.
But given the concentration in his own building, he should be treating it like a different kind of outbreak, rather than just a four-week injury which will inconvenience his coaches.
And we’re back.
It’s been 10 days, but we’re back at 5:00 p.m. ET with another edition of Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network. Which means that we need your input for the final topic of the show.
Make your selection below, and then join us for the program. I hope I remember where the studio is.
A running back from Texas A&M, Michael was the No. 62 overall pick and Seattle’s first selection in the 2013 draft. He was the fifth running back taken.
Michael (5-10, 220) rushed for 417 yards and 12 touchdowns on 88 carries as a senior for Texas A&M, but he tested very well at the Combine, and he could vie for carries with second-year pro Robert Turbin behind starter Marshawn Lynch.
The media was allowed to watch the Eagles OTA on Monday, which meant there were plenty of eyes on running back LeSean McCoy as he left the field before the end of practice.
Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com reports that McCoy left the field to have his knee examined on the sideline and did not return to the field before the session came to an end. According to Mosher, McCoy did not appear to be seriously injured and Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer got the same impression when he spoke to McCoy briefly as the running back went to lunch. McLane didn’t add whether or not McCoy was going be dining in his car or not.
McCoy wasn’t the only player who wasn’t able to practice — several Eagles players were delayed by flight problems caused by weather issues around the country — but starting running backs needing to have their knees checked out tend to garner more than their fair show of attention.
When you throw in the fact that the Eagles are still figuring out things at quarterback, McCoy’s health becomes all the more important. If the initial read is correct, this is something that will be forgotten before the first burgers hit the grill on Memorial Day weekend and that’s all the better for the Eagles.
The league continues to huff and puff about the Pro Bowl, even as the TV audience blows the doors off the numbers generated by the World Series.
More huffing and puffing is expected this week in Boston, at the quarterly league meetings.
Yes, it’s become fashionable to wring hands and gnash teeth about the Pro Bowl. The consternation, of course, has served only to generate more interest in the inherently pointless exhibition, which exposes healthy players unnecessarily to injury.
The problem is that the players don’t play the game hard, and they shouldn’t. To get through a regular season and (for many) postseason unscathed and then to risk spending the offseason in rehab makes no sense, especially for players due to become free agents.
There are two ways to improve the game — devise a strategy for making the players play harder, or come up with a way to make a half-speed game of modified two-hand touch seem more interesting. The possibility of letting designated captains pick teams regardless of conference affiliation would fall into the latter category. Only a dramatic increase in the money paid to the winning team would result in players playing harder.
Still, the chances of the game being canceled are roughly equivalent to the chances of a team moving to L.A. in the foreseeable future. The league will keep talking about both, and the league surely will actually accomplish neither.
The Pro Bowl provides televised content for which the networks pay real money. As long as the ratings, and thus the money, are there, the Pro Bowl will remain.
Broncos rookie running back Montee Ball is getting plenty of work with the first-string offense at Organized Team Activities.
That’s because neither of last year’s top two running backs, Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno, are participating. McGahee is the only Bronco who has chosen not to attend the voluntary practices, while Moreno, who suffered a knee injury in the Broncos’ playoff loss to the Ravens, hasn’t been cleared for team drills.
The decision to draft Ball calls into question whether the Broncos plan to bring back both McGahee and Moreno. Denver is fairly deep at running back, with Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and Jacob Hester also on the team. But Chafie Fields, McGahee’s agent, told the Denver Post that McGahee’s absence from OTAs doesn’t indicate that he doesn’t plan to be a part of the Broncos when mandatory work begins.
“He’s following the same routine he’s had his whole career,” Fields said. “He’ll be there. He’s ready to compete. No messages.”
McGahee may be ready to compete, but every day he’s not there is a day that Ball gets another opportunity to show the coaching staff that he deserves to be the team’s No. 1 running back.
There are jobs up for grabs on the linebacker depth chart in Pittsburgh this year and one of the players expected to be in the thick of competition for them has signed his rookie contract.
The Steelers announced Monday that sixth-round pick Vince Williams has agreed to a contract with the team. Williams joins safety Shamarko Thomas as members of the 2013 draft class to agree to deals. There are seven other players, including first-round linebacker Jarvis Jones, still unsigned.
Williams wasn’t invited to the combine despite starting his last two years at Florida State, where he had 13.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He’ll be part of the mix at inside linebacker behind Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote and his bid for playing time will get a boost if second-year player Sean Spence’s physical condition ends up being closer to the more negative prognostications floating around this offseason.
Williams is one of the new faces making for a different looking Steelers team at OTAs this month. His work at those sessions will help determine how much we see of that face.