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ProFootballTalk: Chip Kelly or Jon Gruden? You choose
The Cardinals began on-field work for their important Week 16 game at Seattle without starting quarterback Carson Palmer (ankle) and top wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (concussion) on the practice field.
Palmer and Fitzgerald were among four Cardinals starters to sit out on Wednesday, with tight end Rob Housler (groin) and free safety Rashad Johnson (ankle) the others. However, according to Kyle Odegard of AzCardinals.com, Palmer has indicated he should be ready for Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field. Also, coach Bruce Arians has said Fitzgerald is also expected to be available.
Palmer has been on the injury report the last three weeks with a right elbow ailment, but he was listed no worse than a limited practice participant in that span. He suffered the ankle injury in Sunday’s win at Tennessee, a game in which Fitzgerald was also injured.
The 9-5 Cardinals are one game out of the final wild-card spot in the NFC.
Who says there’s nothing to do after football season ends?
Twenty days after Super Bowl XLVIII, the New England Boat Show opens. Running from February 22 through March 2, the event features, well, boats. And appearances by athletes.
As a loyal PFT reader has pointed out, the GMC booth promises to produce a quartet of Patriots.
The specific dates associated with Hernandez (Saturday, February 23) and the other three Patriots suggests that the link for the 2014 show still lists the 2013 appearances. Hernandez apparently canceled his appearance on February 21 “for personal reasons.”
His 2014 appearance will likely be canceled, too.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Browner thanked the Seahawks, accepted responsibility for his actions, and vowed to continue to fight his suspension.
“I want to thank the Seahawks organization for the incredible opportunity they gave me when they took a chance on a player who was out of the NFL and playing in the CFL for 4 years,” Browner said. “I also want to thank all of my teammates, coaches, trainers, staff and the 12’s for their support, respect, and friendship and for helping me grow into the player, father, and person I am today. I have been treated with nothing but first class by everyone associated with the Seattle Seahawks and for that I am forever grateful. Although I disagree with the circumstances surrounding my suspension, I accept responsibility for all of my actions and I apologize for any that causes any unflattering reflections of my family and the Seahawks. I believe in my innocence and will continue to fight with all legal resources available to me to. Go Hawks!!!”
Browner’s agent, Peter Schaffer, was more direct.
“We will continue to exhaust all administrative remedies,” Schaffer told PFT by phone. “If not successful, we will sue the living daylights out of the league.”
Browner contends that his suspension resulted from his placement in Stage Three of the substance-abuse program due to tests he missed while not in the NFL from 2006 to 2011. He had missed enough tests to trigger an indefinite suspension before returning to the league, but he nevertheless was permitted to sign with the Seahawks. The league thereafter placed Browner in Stage Three of the program.
Negotiations aimed at resolving the suspension failed after Browner refused a suspension through October 2014. Under the terms of the substance-abuse policy, a violation committed by a player in Stage Three results in an indefinite suspension with the ability to re-apply after one year.
The odds typically are stacked against a player who challenges the outcome of an arbitration procedure in court. In this case, Browner’s case is strengthened by the fact that he can also sue the NFL for defamation, based on an erroneous report from NFL Media that Browner’s suspension arose under the performance-enhancing drugs policy. Browner also could fashion claims based on the league’s violation of his confidentiality rights via the league’s in-house media conglomerate.
And that’s where the league’s decision to own and operate a media company that reports on player suspensions could get interesting. Browner could argue that a report from the NFL’s media outlet regarding his suspension necessarily violates the supposedly stringent confidentiality provision of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Browner’s situation also could bring into focus other situations that arise when a player no longer is employed by an NFL team, including for example the question of whether players receive appropriate compensation for the use of their names and likenesses in the Madden video game after they have been cut.
Another key Ravens offensive starter also missed practice on Wednesday, as running back Ray Rice sat out with a thigh injury. It’s the first time Rice has been on the injury report since Week Four, when he was listed with a hip injury.
Rice racked up 56 yards on 12 carries in the victory at Detroit. Earlier Wednesday, his comments about his long-term future in the game drew some attention.
The Ravens host the Patriots on Sunday afternoon. Per NFL rules, Baltimore will release another injury report on Thursday and Friday.
The Seahawks’ outstanding secondary has lost one of its more accomplished performers.
Cornerback Brandon Browner, who has started 36 regular-season games in the last three seasons for NFC West-leading Seattle, has been suspended for an indefinite period for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. The league announced the suspension on Wednesday.
Under league rules, a violation of the substance-abuse policy by a player in Stage Three technically results in a banishment. The player has the ability to apply for reinstatement after one year.
Browner’s suspension primarily stemmed from missed drug tests when out of the NFL. Browner claimed not to have been told of the league-required tests.
With Browner now appearing to be out of the mix for the foreseeable future, Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond are among Seattle’s top options to fill the cornerback spot opposite of Richard Sherman. Maxwell, a third-year pro from Clemson, has started the last three games and has made a positive impression.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently lamented certain “inadequacy” of the team’s personnel, as that personnel was compiled by General Manager Jerry Jones. There could be even more inadequacy on Sunday at Washington.
Five key defensive players missed practice on Wednesday due to injury: cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring), linebacker Sean Lee (neck), defensive end George Selvie (back), LB Ernie Sims (groin), and defensive end DeMarcus Ware (back).
Claiborne has said he won’t play, and Lee could be done for the season.
If the Cowboys lose to the Redskins and the Eagles beat the Bears on Sunday night, the Week 17 Philly visit to Dallas will become the Third Annual NFC East Championship game. If Dallas wins or Philly loses, the winner in Week 17 goes to the playoffs — and the loser goes home.
In the Cowboys’ case, it’s hard not to imagine them going home the following week, after the wild-card round. If they even get there.
The Bears drafted guard Kyle Long in the first round of the draft in April, which meant that he joined his brother Chris and his father Howie as NFL players.
Chris is a defensive end for the Rams, where he shares a locker room with left tackle Jake Long. Jake Long is no relation to Howie and his brood, but he now also has a brother playing for the Bears.
The Bears signed tackle Joe Long off of the Steelers practice squad on Wednesday, which means that he is now teammates with his brother’s teammate’s brother. Adding to the fun is the fact that Joe Long started his NFL career when he signed with the Rams (when Jake was in Miami) as an undrafted free agent last year. He wound up on the Steelers practice squad later that year, where, to the best of our knowledge, he played with no members of either Long family.
He also played in no regular season games and doesn’t figure to play much for the Bears outside of an emergency in the next two weeks, which makes this a pretty good place to wrap up this installment of the Long Family Chronicles.
Photo via Steelers.com
49ers CEO Jed York said Wednesday that he “definitely” anticipates Jim Harbaugh to be the coach of the 49ers for a long time and that Harbaugh and General Manager Trent Baalke have a healthy working relationship.
That issue came up because of a report from Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News about “creative tensions” between Harbaugh and General Manager Trent Baalke. During an appearance on KNBR, York didn’t deny that the coach and the G.M. butt heads on occasion but that they eventually figure out “the best thing for the 49ers” and move forward from there.
York wouldn’t discuss specifics about an extension for the coach, but did say that Harbaugh has never asked for more personnel control in the future.
“He’s never asked for that, he’s never intimated any of that,” York said, via CSNBayArea.com. “And it’s easy to say, it’s easy to speculate, ‘Well, he was in college and he had full control and he wants full control here.’ That sounds great until you actually get to reality. And Jim’s never really ever asked for that.”
Things have worked out pretty well for the 49ers with Harbaugh and Baalke at the reins of the franchise, so it is no surprise that York wants to keep things in place as long as possible. If Harbaugh feels the same way, hammering out an extension this offseason shouldn’t prove to be too difficult.
The NFL has fined Garvin $25,000, WLWT’s Artrell Hawkins reports.
Garvin was not flagged on the play, but the NFL said afterward that he should have been. Punters and kickers are considered defenseless players, meaning they can’t be hit in the head or neck area. Garvin’s helmet struck Huber’s chin. Huber suffered a broken jaw and a cracked vertebrae on the hit, ending his season.
Garvin told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he plans to reach out to Huber, but he added that he doesn’t think he can change the way he plays on special teams just because the NFL is going to discipline him.
“When you’re playing football, you don’t think of all that, you’re thinking about doing what you’ve got to do to make a play,” Garvin said. “I wasn’t out there trying to be vicious or anything like that, I’m just trying to do what I can to make a play and help my team out. When you’re in a game, you’re trying to make a play, that’s all I’m thinking about.”
The $25,000 fine shows the NFL also wants Garvin to think about lowering his target.
There are just two weeks left in the regular season, which means it isn’t hard to pick out the biggest storylines of the weekend.
Only four teams have officially booked passage to the postseason, which means games involving the other teams vying for spots will make up most of the list. On Wednesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, we’ll start looking ahead to those games.
One of the biggest will be on NBC on Sunday night as the Eagles and Bears square off in Philly with both teams trying to claim division titles. There’s plenty of action before we get to that point, though, including Baltimore’s visit to New England and a de facto NFC South title game between the Saints and Panthers in Charlotte. We’ll talk about all those games and much more as we get you ready for the penultimate weekend of the 2013 season.
It all gets started at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Robert Griffin III isn’t going to take a snap again for the Redskins this year, but he might get a chance to see one from one of his old teammates.
Walton used to snap for Griffin at Baylor, and will give the Redskins another blocker to choose from for the next two weeks and perhaps beyond.
Walton was a solid player before a broken ankle in 2012, and though the Broncos activated him from the physically unable to perform list, he didn’t play this year. The former third-round pick is worth a look to see if he’s approaching health.
The Ravens have provided a more concrete explanation of what that means. The team announced on Wednesday that he has been fitted with a knee brace, and that he’ll be limited in practice.
While Flacco reportedly didn’t need an MRI to assess potential damage to his knee, it’s obvious that there’s an injury of some sort. And the use of a brace confirms what we all saw on Monday night — the low hit from Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy scared Flacco.
The inability of Flacco to fully prepare for Sunday’s date with the Patriots should give them some concern, too, as the defending Super Bowl champs try to extend a late-season four-game winning streak.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said earlier this week that the shoulder injury suffered by fullback Bruce Miller last Sunday “didn’t look good” and the 49ers made a move confirming that assessment on Wednesday.
Miller has been placed on injured reserve, ending a season that saw him become a useful piece of the offense as both a receiver and a blocker. With Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham back in action, the 49ers will likely miss him more in the latter role in the coming weeks.
When Harbaugh said that Miller’s injury was a serious one, he said that the team would take a look at Owen Marecic, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford, as a replacement but, per Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, Marecic chose not to come. Another familiar face will be taking Miller’s roster spot.
The team has re-signed Will Tukuafu, who spent the last two seasons with the 49ers and opened the season on the 53-man roster before being released after the opening week. Tukuafu saw most of his time on the defensive line and special teams, but the team experimented with him as a fullback as well.
Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes gave up $3.5 million in non-guaranteed salary before the start of this season to avoid getting cut by the Jets and he said Wednesday that he’d be open to another pay cut to stick around for another season.
Holmes said that he would do “anything for the team” and that it would “probably not” matter how much of a cut the Jets asked him to swallow because he believes big money follows strong production. There hasn’t been much production this season as Holmes has just 18 catches in nine games this season while missing five games with a hamstring injury. Holmes doesn’t think the injury should be the reason for the pay cut, but reiterated he’s ready to do what the team wants.
“I mean I wouldn’t agree with it, because you can’t do anything about injuries that occur, first time I’ve been injured in my career, but like I said for the team, sacrifices are to be made,” Holmes said, via the New York Daily News.
Holmes has been injured before, he missed most of last season with a Lisfranc injury, but that’s pretty much beside the point. Holmes is set to make $9.25 million next year and his current tune of being all about the team has not been one he’s sung in the past while bashing teammates and other members of the organization. That means the Jets can save themselves both headaches and cap space, two reasons to think that the team will pass on Holmes’ offer while letting him ply his trade elsewhere next year.
Injured Bengals punter Kevin Huber made a surprise visit to the locker room Wednesday, wearing a giant neck brace, but blaming himself for the hit that put him in one.
Huber suffered a broken jaw and a cracked vertebrae after being hit by Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin. He said he’d have surgery to repair his jaw Friday, after it was temporarily wired shut Sunday night. He said his neck should heal without surgery, and he has all his teeth, so he’s got that going for him.
“I’m good. I’m feeling pretty good. The pain’s pretty good, pretty tolerable. It’s more uncomfortable than anything,” Huber said, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Though the hit was illegal, and the league said a flag should have been thrown for hitting a defenseless player, Huber said he was as upset about punting the ball straight down the middle, allowing Antonio Brown to return it for a touchdown.
“I mean, that was the worst part of everything, it was my fault to begin with,” Huber said.
He said he’s heard from a few sympathetic punters, but hadn’t heard from Garvin and didn’t expect to or need to.
“If some guy would call to apologize for every hit they made, guys would be on the phone all the time,” Huber said. “I’m not expecting any calls.”
Huber was placed on injured reserve, and said there’s no reason he shouldn’t return next year, largely taking the high road.
“There’s not really much I can do about it now,” he said. “Me getting mad and stressed about it is only going to make it harder to get through. It is what it is. It’s part of the game, I know, big hits. Unfortunately I got one of the big hits and I got hurt and I have to deal with it. I’ll be fine. I’ll be back next year. It’s unfortunate and disappointing I can’t be playing right now, going forward in these last couple of games to get into the playoffs. I can get mad all I want, but what’s that going to do?”
Garvin can only hope the league is as forgiving when it’s time for fines to come out, but that’s unlikely.