Mike Florio talks about the Falcons’ Thursday night beat down of the Saints and Drew Brees‘ surprising amount of interceptions thrown. Florio says that while the Falcons are a sure thing for the postseason, the Saints are still scraping for a shot. He also discusses the buzz surrounding Falcons’ defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s head coaching candidacy and the Bounty hearings that begin today.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Falcons’ future bright unlike Saints’
When word first surfaced that Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was facing a suspension for a missed drug test, Bell denied knowing anything about it. He was lying.
On Thursday, Bell admitted that the NFL notified him in March that he was facing discipline for a missed test. That contradicts what he said in June, when he claimed he had absolutely no knowledge of such discipline.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Bell said, two months after the NFL had informed him. “People are going to say what they want to say on the Internet. It is people who really have nothing to do. I don’t get upset or let it bother me.”
That’s exactly what Bell did, and it was foolish. He could have simply said, “The NFL’s drug-testing policy is confidential, so I won’t talk about it.” Instead, he lied.
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones wasn’t able to finish the first practice of training camp with some degree of injury, but coach Dan Quinn said to trust him, everything was just fine.
According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, Jones suffered a minor injury, and was seen on the sidelines stretching both legs to deal with the pain.
Quinn said it wasn’t cramps, but wouldn’t give any other information, saying: “I’m not going to disclose that. He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”
“We just held him out,” Quinn said. “He had a little tweak, so we just decided to hold [him]. He’ll likely be back in there for tomorrow. He could have gone back in today and was asking me to, but I decided not to.”
The good news is that their best player is OK, but it’s disappointing that another coach is already playing coy with information so early in camp. It’s not a full-on John Fox/Kremlin approach, but it seems more difficult that it needs to be, considering the information is of major interest to his entire fanbase.
As the Buccaneers prepared to open camp, they received the perfunctory introductory speech from their first-year head coach. And while Dirk Koetter opted not to share publicly the remarks he privately delivered to his players, one of his players opted not to be quite as discreet.
“Dirk basically said we’re striving for a championship around here and we’ve got some good, good players,” tackle Demar Dotson said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “We’ve got a young group of good players and the outside world doesn’t know how good this team is going to be. He stressed that we know it. It doesn’t matter that they don’t know it right now. We’ve got to keep building because we’re not where we’re supposed to be yet. But he said we’re going to come out of that tunnel, Lord willing, when we play Atlanta [on September 11] and then we’re going to show the world.’’
The early reviews on Koetter’s methods have been positive, at least as far as Dotson is concerned.
“Dirk has that player-coach feel, but you’ve got to respect him because he tells you what he wants and he demands it out of you,” Dotson said. “But also he keeps it loose around here. Nobody is tight. You’re not walking around here scared to do something. He lets you be a man, he lets you be a pro but he demands that respect from you.”
The Buccaneers could be demanding respect from everyone, if in the first year with Koetter as coach and the second year with Jameis Winston as quarterback and the first year with Mike Smith as defensive coordinator it all comes together for a team that has struggled to be relevant for most of the current decade — and that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007.
Backup quarterback may be the biggest uncertainty for the Seattle Seahawks as training camp gets set to begin on Saturday.
Undrafted rookie free agent Trevone Boykin and 2015 undrafted free agent Jake Heaps are the only two quarterbacks on the roster outside of Wilson. Jackson, who handled the duties for the last three years, likely won’t be back after allegedly pulling a gun on his wife and being charged with aggravated assault.
While general manager John Schneider said that Boykin has done some nice things over the offseason since being signed in May, he also said the team would keep looking for quarterback options elsewhere as well.
“Yep, absolutely. And we do that with every position. We’ll have one, two, three guys like on standby,” Schneider said.
“I like all our players, I’m just never really one of those guys that’s like, ‘Yeah, we got this. We got this.’ You know what I mean?” he added. “Pete’s job is to instill confidence in people and he does a great job; it’s one of his best attributes, making everybody feel great about themselves and instilling confidence in their abilities. My job is to be forward thinking and our staff – Dan (Morgan), Trent (Kirchner), Scott (Fitterer) – to be ready for what’s coming next if it doesn’t work out.”
Schneider said he believes Boykin would have been a third- to a fifth-round pick if not for his legal troubles prior to the Alamo Bowl with TCU in December. He also said that he believes Boykin has handled the transition to becoming a professional well so far.
“Great athlete, tons of arm strength,” Schneider said of Boykin. “I like the way he dialed himself in as a pro in that short period of time he was here, kind of studying and watching Russell and learning as much as he possible can. He started putting together some practices that were consistent all the way through instead of – he’s a rookie, so that’s why that’s impressive.”
However, that won’t keep Seattle from seeing what else is available. The Seahawks reportedly put in a waiver claim on Connor Shaw earlier this month. As teams release veterans – like the Rams did by cutting Nick Foles on Wednesday – Seattle will likely be inquiring about potential fits as Wilson’s backup.
Paul Posluszny has been on a lot of bad football teams.
He’s never experienced a winning season in nine years in the NFL. A pair of 7-9 teams in Buffalo are the best he’s been a part of during his career.
Posluszny knows bad rosters when he sees them. That’s why he’s hopeful this year is different with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
According to Mike DiRocco of ESPN.com, Posluszny believes the 2016 Jaguars are the most talented team he’s been a part of during his NFL career.
“I would definitely say so,” Posluszny said Wednesday. “Especially with depth, the group that we have here is the most talented since I’ve been in Jacksonville, for sure. It’s exciting because you say, ‘Hey, we have guys that can be elite players at multiple positions.’ It’s been a long time since we’ve had that.”
That bar isn’t exactly a high one to clear. Jacksonville has won just 19 games in five seasons since Posluszny joined the team in 2011.
However, this iteration of the Jaguars seems far less anemic than in previous years. The offense showed it can move the football and score points with consistency last season and the defense has been bolstered by the additions of Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Prince Amukamara, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack.
Potential doesn’t mean anything though unless it translates to wins and losses, but the Jaguars seem positioned to be much more capable of finding victories than they’ve been in nearly a decade.
Maybe even good enough for Posluszny to be a part of a winning team for the first time in his career.
On what coincidentally was the first day of the NFL draft in 1999, I ran a half marathon roughly 30 miles outside of Columbus, Ohio. Several hundred people showed up to trudge through neighborhoods and back roads. Five or six miles in to the 13.1-mile race, I came to a spot where it wasn’t clear whether to turn right or keep going straight. Based on the markings on the road, it looked like I should turn right, but the lead pack(s) had gone straight.
So I decided to turn. And it quickly became obvious that roughly 50 people who had been in front of me had gone the wrong way. Which meant that, halfway through a half marathon, I was in first place.
I knew it wouldn’t last. But I enjoyed it while it did. And I didn’t bother to check behind me, because I knew that ultimately there was nothing I could do to hold off the guy who was going to win. (Along with plenty of others.)
I thought of that day for the first time in a long time after I saw this headline at ESPN.com: “Arriving at camp above Rams’ depth chart, Case Keenum not looking over his shoulder.”
There’s no reason for Keenum to look over his shoulder. It’s just a matter of time before he’ll be passed by rookie first-rounder Jared Goff.
Sure, the Rams may try to make it look like Keenum has a chance to play most or all of the season, for the same reason they toyed with everyone for two-plus weeks before making it known that Goff would be the first overall pick. They also may want to give Goff a chance to build confidence by creating the impression that he actually accomplished something instead of having the starting job handed to him.
So enjoy the lead while you can, Case. Eventually, you’ll be looking at the back of a blue jersey with “GOFF” in gold letters.
Veteran defensive end Chris Clemons has told the Seattle Seahawks he is retiring and will not be reporting to training camp on Friday.
Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network was the first to report that Clemons second tenure with Seattle was over before it really ever got started. The team confirmed Clemons had informed them of his retirement on Thursday night.
Seattle acquired Clemons from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010 along with a fourth-round draft pick in exchange for defensive end Darryl Tapp. Clemons quickly became Seattle’s most dominant pass rusher, recording 33.5 sacks over the next three seasons. Clemons became a salary cap casualty following the Seahawks win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII before signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014.
Clemons had 11 sacks in two seasons with the Jaguars before being released and re-signing with Seattle in April.
Clemons, 34, would have been fighting for a spot on the back-end of Seattle’s roster. Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Frank Clark are the top three edge rushers for the Seahawks. Clemons would have been competing with younger players such as Cassius Marsh, Ryan Robinson and undrafted free agent signings David Perkins and Montese Overton.
Instead, Clemons has elected to call it a career. Despite not earning a starting role in the first six years of his career, Clemons still compiled 69 sacks in his 12-year career.
As the Eagles prepare for their first season without Chip Kelly as head coach, a key member of the offense has opted to point out some of the factors that undermined the team’s performance under the man who preceded Doug Pederson.
Regardless of the days on which practice happens, Peters questioned Kelly’s emphasis on constant uptempo workouts.
“If you run 100 times in a row, back to back to back, don’t you think your 50th time you’re going to be a little slower?” Peters said. “But if you get a little bit of a rest, you’re going to be a little bit faster. . . . It’s give and take. When you go back to the huddle and you get that wind, you’re just a little stronger when you go back to the line, so I think it will help.”
Beyond wearing out the players, Peters thinks the Eagles had a hard time out thinking opposing defenses.
“I mean, this is the National Football League, and if the running back is to the left and you’re running the zone read, where do you think the ball is going?” Peters said. “To the right. . . . They caught up to us. . . . We just needed to change a little bit up, especially with [quarterback Sam Bradford] back there. They know he’s not gonna run it, so it kind of put our hands behind our back. . . .
“[The coaches] call the play, and we execute it. But when the [opponents] know, and they’re professionals too, and they know what the play is, it’s tough.”
There’s no guarantee the Eagles will be any better with Kelly out, but fans of the team that has inherited should be concerned about the possibility that they’ll eventually be yearning for Jim Tomsula.
“It’s just a lingering back issue and everything,” Ware told reporters on Thursday. “Now, they are just being a lot more precautious. Are you going to beat him through training camp or are you going to really take care of the veteran and make sure he is ready for the season?”
Still, Ware doesn’t seem to be concerned by the team’s decision to characterize his football injury as a non-football injury.
“I don’t know what to categorize it — if it’s PUP or NFI — but you can’t do any of the field activities,” Ware said. “You have to sit back, watch the walk through and go through your treatment until they feel like you are ready for football activities.”
Whatever the label, Ware downplayed the condition.
“If I had the choice if the game was tomorrow, I’d be out there playing,” Ware said. “The timeline is what the trainers think and what [John] Elway and all those guys think, what they want to do right now and just going from there with their plan. . . . It’s just soreness and working through the soreness. I wouldn’t say there is any discomfort. Now it’s strengthening and making sure it’s strengthened through the whole season instead of just saying, ‘OK, you’re just ready to play the first preseason game.’ Let’s get it all the way to the point where it’s iron clad and it can withstand the whole season.”
The whole season includes the postseason. Last postseason, Ware was far from 100 percent.
“I was around 70 percent in the playoffs. Now, knowing everything is right and having some time off in the preseason to get everything stronger and a lot more stable, I’ll be at 94 percent when all said and done,” Ware said, referring to his number.
Along the way, Ware has a clear incentive to play as much as he can, and to get as many sacks as possible. After reducing his $10 million salary to $6.5 million, he can earn the $3.5 million back by racking up 13 sacks.
Suspended Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant has been training five days a week and will serve as a volunteer assistant football coach at a high school in Nevada this fall, ESPN reported Thursday.
“[Bryant] is as focused as I’ve seen him in a while,” his agent, Thomas Santanello, told ESPN. “He’s keeping very busy. He enjoys working with kids.”
Bryant, who’s suspended for at least a year, is back in the news this week because the Steelers are reporting to camp without him and because Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was serving a similar suspension for violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, was recently reinstated.
Santanello said Bryant has stayed clean and complied with terms of the NFL’s drug program.
Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said last spring that Bryant needs to “find himself” and understand he’s on the verge of losing “the privilege” of playing in the NFL.
Bryant, 24, has 14 receiving touchdowns in 21 career games. He was also suspended to start the 2015 season, and he can apply for reinstatement after the 2016 season.
Tim Tebow isn’t ready to close the door on the NFL just yet.
Tebow, who was in training camp with the Eagles last year but hasn’t played in a regular-season game since he was on the Jets in 2012, said on CBS Sports Radio that he still believes he can play.
“I mean, for me, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” Tebow said. “I’m still young, I still feel really good. So is that something that I feel like I can be an effective quarterback in the NFL? Yeah, I really do feel like I could be. But I think at the same time, there are a lot of other things that I’m doing that I love and that I’m blessed to do.”
Tebow’s best bet if he wanted to continue his NFL career would probably be to develop in the Canadian Football League, but Tebow sounds more interested in pursuing his other life goals if the NFL doesn’t come calling.
“Football is just one thing that I love to do,” Tebow said. “But it can’t become your everything because eventually you’re not going to be able to play, whether that’s today or five years from now. And if it’s your everything, when you’re done what do you do?”
It’s good that Tebow has other things he wants to do, because his NFL career is almost certainly over. Whether he still thinks he can play or not.
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon met the media for the first time since he was reinstated by the NFL from a suspension that kept him off the field for all of last season.
Gordon reiterated the message that he’s grateful for the chance to return that he sent on Twitter after being reinstated and said there were times when he wasn’t sure if the Browns would want him back. He said he’s happy that they do and that he’s a different person than the selfish player that he’s been in the past. Gordon said he knows that just saying it doesn’t prove anything and wants to show how he’s changed by taking advantage of the support that the Browns are offering him.
“I have a great support staff here, moreso than I’ve ever felt before,” Gordon said, via the Akron Beacon-Journal. “It plays a part on both sides. Me wanting to give in to that support and allow them to help me and me wanting to be helped, as I opposed to before me trying to be selfish and do things on my own.”
Gordon said that quarterback Robert Griffin III is part of the support team and someone that he knows he can “count on and lean on” during the season. Gordon and Griffin have adjacent lockers, which Gordon said was no accident.
Gordon also addressed his relationship with a past Browns quarterback by saying that Johnny Manziel is always going to be his friend, but that they are “definitely two different people on two different paths.” Gordon said he has to do what’s right for him for the “sake of my career,” something that the Browns likely hope includes fewer nights with their former quarterback and more time spent focused on resuming a career that will remain long on promise as long as Gordon remains on the field.
Football season essentially has begun, with the opening of camp. But Saints quarterback Drew Brees is willing to continue to entertain contract offers from the team until football season actually launches, with Week One of the regular season.
Brees reiterated the deadline for doing a new deal during Thursday comments to the media from training camp in West Virginia.
“My approach is when the season is here it’s all about the season, I don’t want to be worrying about a contract or anything else,” Brees said. “My mind will be on the preparation week to week on the next opponent. If there’s something to be done, it’s between now and the season.”
Since it’s a deadline-driven business, the safest bet is a deal will come, if at all, in the days before the regular-season opener.
“Just to clarify, nothing is adversarial,” Brees said at one point on Thursday. “I have a great relationship with Mickey Loomis and have for my entire time here. This is just that part of the business let’s call it where, obviously, conversations happen in regards to the contract it’s between my agent Tom Condon and Mickey Loomis and, obviously, I am kept abreast as to the way those conversations are going. I think there’s a process to this and it isn’t an exact science and it isn’t an exact process. We’ll see how this shakes out over the next month and a half.”
While the questions from reporters have yet to focus on the ultimate hammer Brees holds, the 43.2-million pound elephant remains in the room. If the Saints use the franchise tag on Brees for what would be the third time of his career, he would be entitled to a 44-percent raise over his $30 million cap number for 2016.
Which translates to a tag of $43.2 million. Which also translates to a low likelihood that the team would invest so much cap and cap space in a quarterback who turns 38 in January. Which means the market would set his value next year. Which means the anticipated market would set his value now.
Which means that Condon and Loomis need to get on the same page as to what Brees would be worth on the open market in order to get on the same page as to his value moving forward. From the player’s perspective, however, his age won’t be a factor in his value.
“I don’t see any reason why I can’t play at the highest level for the next five years minimum,” Brees said. “It really comes down to how long do I want to play.”
Eventually, it also may come down to where he wants to play. Because Brees may have the ability to do what he last did in 2006: Hit the market and look for his next destination.
The Cowboys — or at least owner Jerry Jones — have stood by Rolando McClain despite his latest suspension.
But the strange career of the former top-10 pick has taken yet another turn.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, McClain wasn’t on the Cowboys team plane to California for training camp, with no apparent explanation.
While McClain is suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season for his latest substance abuse policy violation, Jones has been in his corner throughout.
McClain was also missing for a large portion of the voluntary offseason work, which reportedly angered his coaches. Then again, Jones denied that and said coaches were lobbying for McClain’s return, so maybe he’ll make another excuse for a guy who has had plenty made for him.
Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell apologized to the team on Thursday for his reported missed drug tests and pending four-game suspension being a distraction, but in a meeting with reporters at the team’s training camp site Bell didn’t say much else about his situation.
That’s understandable as Bell prepares to appeal the suspension. Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t want to say much about Bell’s appeal but said it’s his understanding that the hearing will be held sometime around mid-August.
That doesn’t affect the Steelers’ plans for now because the team has a reliable backup in DeAngelo Williams and because Bell is still rehabbing a knee injury.
Last week, Bell wrote on his Instagram account “I’m not gonna miss any games. Trust me.”
Thursday, Bell said he was notified of his missed test in March. He had told Pittsburgh reporters in June that he hadn’t missed or failed a test, but a recent report said he missed several drug tests.