With news that Ben Roethlisberger is inactive for this week’s game against the Ravens, Mike Florio wonders if the Steelers can get by with backups until he is healthy again.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Steelers have a shot without Big Ben?
Bills running back LeSean McCoy appears ready to contribute today, if not quite as much as usual.
McCoy is expected to play and get about 25-35 snaps against the Dolphins, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
That would represent a reduction in the normal workload for McCoy, who has averaged 47.5 snaps a game so far this season. But it would still allow him to contribute to the Bills’ offense.
McCoy left practice Wednesday with hamstring tightness, and initial reports had him out for Sunday. But McCoy made the trip to Miami and now appears good to go, if not for quite his usual role in the offense.
McCoy leads the Bills with 104 carries for 587 yards and six touchdowns this season and is also third on the team with 20 catches. If he sees a reduction in playing time today, Mike Gillislee should be expected to get more carries, and that could be a good thing for the Bills: Gillislee is averaging 6.9 yards a carry in limited work so far this season.
As the NFL reopens its investigation of Josh Brown, its hands could be tied by the policies that were in place at the time any other incidents of alleged domestic violence occurred.
The NFL’s new six-game baseline suspension for first-offense domestic violence was adopted after the Ray Rice situation in 2014, as a response to the intense media and fan reaction to the decision to suspend Rice for only two games once video of his conduct finally surfaced. The new procedures don’t apply to anything that happened before the procedures were adopted.
As to Brown, the authorities in King County, Washington identified two potential incidents of domestic violence: One occurred in May 2015, and the other occurred in May 2014. Brown already has been suspended one game for the incident in 2015, which came with the new policies in place.
The other incident predated the changes to the rules, which would force the league to use the prior approach. For a first offense, Brown would be suspended two games.
The next question is whether other incidents of domestic violence could be proven by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely that not) based only on information from Josh Brown, the police report that finally has been issued, and the record and journals created by Brown. Possibly, separate acts of domestic violence could be stacked against Brown, the way they were for Greg Hardy.
At some point, the question becomes whether the NFL would attempt to impose enhanced discipline for the May 2015 incident, based on supposedly aggravating factors of past misconduct or the argument that the May 2015 incident was a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) offense. That will be harder for the league to pull off, because Brown already has been disciplined for the May 2015 incident.
Ultimately, none of it may matter. Josh Brown quickly has become synonymous with Ray Rice, and there are plenty of men who can do what Brown does. Whatever the official punishment eventually imposed by the NFL, Brown likely will become a pariah, with his only remaining NFL paychecks coming for however long he remains on the Commissioner-Exempt list.
If there’s a silver lining in the ongoing free fall of the New York Jets, it comes from receiver Brandon Marshall learning how to handle tough times.
“I’m growing, man,” Marshall told NJ.com on Friday. “I’m growing as an individual. Obviously, it hasn’t been perfect. But through adversity, character is built. I’m not saying I’ve been perfect throughout it, because it’s really difficult to handle.
“But that’s one of the positives from this start is, I love how I’m maturing and handling things better than I have in the past, when you’re in a losing locker room or when adversity hits. That’s been one of the things I’ve really focused on. I’ve got to continue to grow.”
Marshall added that his relationship with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is “good” after a Week Three run in.
“We have had our moments, whether it’s in practice or in meetings, had a lot of conversations. Everyone comes from different walks of life, and don’t always see things the right way,” Marshall said.
Richardson apparently doesn’t see why Marshall chose to talk about the situation.
“That’s Brandon, bro,” Richardson told NJ.com. “I’ve got nothing to talk about on that note. It’s locker room business. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”
Teammates aren’t supposed to fight with each other, either. But it definitely happens on losing teams. For the 2016 Jets, the fighting began in before the losing even started, with Marshall and cornerback Darrelle Revis getting into it during practice.
Frankly, Marshall’s maturity may be relative. The Broncos, Dolphins, and Bears each traded him.
With nine days left in this year’s trading window, maybe a fourth trade would be the best move for the team and for the player, who has still not yet played in a single postseason game.
With NFL Europe/Europa/Whateva long gone and the Arena Football League close to joining it in extinction, football players not yet ready for the NFL have limited options for developing their game. And so the NFL continues to discuss the possibility of launching a developmental league.
“We’ve talked about it,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters earlier this week. “Some of you may have heard we spent a fair amount of time at the [quarterly] meeting on what we call the 2020 plan, which is talking about how we plan for the future and the things we want to accomplish. One of them is obviously the game, and how do we improve the game? A developmental league could be something that we want to do to try to help develop players.
“We pick up on the rosters from the start of the season to the end of the season, probably three to four hundred players on average. Having those players ready to play as quickly as possible and developed so that their skill set’s furthered are all positive things about the long-term future of the game. I particularly have an interest in that and would like to make sure we’re evaluating that as something that can help improve the game and improve our players.”
A developmental league particularly is needed for the quarterback position, where not nearly enough players are good enough to play at the NFL level. But a developmental league also would be useful for all other positions, along with officiating, coaching, and scouting.
The question is whether the NFL could make money from a developmental league and, if not, the amount of losses the league would be willing to tolerate. NFL Europe wasn’t profitable, and the league eventually decided to stop the sangre.
Some owners may see no reason to give players not yet ready to earn a roster spot a chance to do so — and plenty of players with one of those roster spots may agree. Still, there’s a need for game-ready talent when injuries inevitably occur.
Given the ongoing decline in TV ratings, the NFL also should be wary of potentially diluting the product by adding more football in presumably markets not currently served by the NFL. Would the fans in those markets support a minor league team? If so, would they be less likely to support a nearby NFL team?
As every other professional league has learned in the past 40 years, Americans love football — but only so much of it. Between high school, college, and the NFL, the saturation point possibly has been reached. Before the NFL adds even more football in the interests of developing better football, the NFL should be sure that the effort won’t fail miserably.
The Buccaneers made a wide receiver swap Saturday, promoting Freddie Martino from the practice squad and waiving Donteea Dye.
Martino has previously spent time this season on both the active roster and the practice squad. He’s played in two games.
Dye could land back on the practice squad next week.
Earlier this week the Bucs placed veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson on injured reserve.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy still may not play in Sunday’s game at Miami with a hamstring injury, but he still hasn’t been ruled out.
McCoy has made the trip to South Florida, PFT confirms. The news was first reported by Jeff Darlington of ESPN.
While it’s possible a ruse aimed at making the Dolphins think they’ll be facing McCoy, if his hamstring injury is bad enough to keep him from playing, it wouldn’t be a good idea to take him to Miami.
This doesn’t mean McCoy will definitely play. But it means that he still could.
The Jets placed veteran linebacker Erin Henderson on the non-football injury/illness list Saturday.
Henderson had started four games this season and led the team in tackles in each of the last two games.
The Jets promoted two linebackers from the practice squad Saturday, Julian Stanford and Victor Ochi. Stanford has already played in three games for the Jets this season. Ochi is an undrafted rookie outside linebacker who spent the offseason with the Ravens before landing on the practice squad with the Jets.
The Jets also placed tight end Braedon Bowman on injured reserve.
The 49ers have promoted Harris to the active roster. To create space for him, the team waived defensive tackle Taylor Hart.
In two games late last season, Harris generated 140 rushing yards and 97 receiving yards. He was inactive for the first two games of 2016, waived on October 1, and signed to the practice squad on October 3.
Davis, a fourth-round pick in 2015, had more snaps than Draughn a week ago. Davis has a career average of 1.7 yards per carry.
As the Broncos prepare to return to prime time, 11 days after a Week Six loss to the Chargers, two of the team’s players await final clearance to return from concussions.
Tackle Russell Okung and receiver Cody Latimer are both listed as questionable for Monday night’s game against the Texans. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak told reporters on Saturday that the next step for each player is official and final medical clearance.
“They both practiced today and are doing well and obviously they have to be cleared,” Kubiak said. “That’s the key there.”
The clearance will come on Saturday, if at all.
Meanwhile, linebacker DeMarcus Ware continues to be out with a forearm injury. Kubiak said that a recent CT scan was encouraging, and that Ware is expected to return to practice this week.
We previously passed along a report about a supposed 80 percent increase in TV viewership for NFL games in the United Kingdom this season. But it turns out that report was spinning the NFL’s UK ratings in a more positive light than is warranted.
A reader who tracks NFL viewership on UK television at NFLUK.com contacted us to point out that the numbers being used to peddle a narrative of a significant ratings increase in the UK are misleading. Those ratings refer to the cumulative total number of viewers who watched all NFL programming in the UK this season as opposed to last season — but this season there’s more NFL programming available in the UK than there was last year, thanks to new highlight shows on BBC. So it’s no surprise that the cumulative total viewership is higher.
A better apples-to-apples comparison for TV viewership in the UK is how this year’s first London game, Colts-Jaguars, fared on BBC2 compared to last year’s Bills-Jaguars game in London. And on that score, the NFL isn’t growing in London: The Colts-Jaguars game drew 351,000 viewers on BBC2, a decrease compared to the 381,000 viewers for Bills-Jaguars last year on BBC2. This year’s Colts-Jaguars game did draw a larger audience than last year’s other early London game on BBC2, Jets-Dolphins, although that game’s ratings were lower because it aired at the same time as the Rugby World Cup.
Whether the NFL ever becomes appointment viewing for large numbers of UK fans remains to be seen. Right now, in a country of about 65 million people, less than 1 percent watch a typical NFL game.
Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson has been placed on injured reserve.
Johnson, the Texans’ first-round draft pick last season, suffered a broken foot on Sunday against the Colts.
Although it’s possible that Johnson could return in eight weeks, he is likely done for the season.
Johnson also suffered a foot injury as a rookie last year, although he was able to play through it and finish the season before having offseason surgery.
This year Johnson was beginning to emerge as one of the most important pieces in the Texans’ secondary, and he played every snap but one against the Colts despite the injury. Now the Texans will have to reconfigure their secondary without him.
Fans at a London rugby stadium could be treated to a different kind of scrum on Sunday, when the Rams and Giants play there.
With the often-chippy Odell Beckham Jr. squaring off against the usually-chippy L.A. defense, Nigel and his mates may learn a lot more about American football than they previously had known. After all, a game in December 2014 between the two teams featured a late hit on Beckham, a brawl that led to three ejections, and thousands in fines.
Beckham emerged from the melee with a $10,000 penalty for kicking at linebacker Alec Ogletree.
That happened a year before Beckham’s outburst against the Panthers resulted in a suspension. Now, only a few weeks after Beckham once again proved that he has skin thinner than a late-night-tweeting politician, the Rams get another chance to light his stubby fuse.
Surprisingly, coach Jeff Fisher says that won’t happen.
“We’re going to play between the snap and the whistle, and that’s it,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters, via ESPN.com. “No, we’re not going there. Our guys are going to play hard and play fast, tackle, and have been instructed not to hurt the football team.”
It’s one thing to not do anything that would draw a flag. It’s quite another to constantly try to rattle and harass Beckham. The players are smart enough to know there’s a benefit to doing that — and Fisher is smart to stake out his “I ordered them not to touch Private William Santiago” territory before kickoff.
In other words, bollocks.
The NFL hasn’t seen much good news on the television ratings front this season, with far fewer people watching this year than last year. But there is one place where NFL TV ratings are up.
According to the New York Daily News, TV ratings on Sky Sports and BBC networks in the United Kingdom are up 80 percent from last year.
There’s a feeling in some league circles that the NFL is already as popular as it’s ever going to get in the United States, and if the league is going to continue to grow it will have to do so overseas. London has been the focal point of the NFL’s international growth efforts, and those television numbers would suggest that the league is making inroads.
What remains to be seen is whether the league can become a consistently popular sport in London, and not just a passing fad. The NFL is committed to playing at least three games a year in London, which suggests that the league believes there are real opportunities for growth across the pond, at the same time as the NFL’s ratings tumble in the United States.
UPDATE 3:58 p.m. ET: It turns out that those TV ratings gains in the UK were overstated.
Why is Colts owner Jim Irsay standing by G.M. Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano despite the team’s 2-4 record? Because he doesn’t think they’re as bad as 2-4 suggests.
According to Irsay, the Colts could easily have won every game this season if only they had caught a few breaks.
“We could be 6-0 right now if the ball bounced our way,” Irsay told USA Today.
It’s true that the Colts have lost some close games: Three of their four losses were one-score games, and even their 34-20 loss to the Broncos was a one-score game until the final minute. Of course, the Colts’ two wins were one-score games as well. By Irsay’s logic, they’re only a couple good bounces from being 0-6.
The reality is that basically every bad team in the NFL can say it’s a few good bounces away from having a good season. The good teams are the ones that find a way to win even when the bounces don’t go their way.
The Dolphins will use a couple of little-known tight ends on Sunday.
The Colts have been trying to build a dominant defense for five years — and failing.
A collection of paintings and artifacts previously owned by deceased Titans founder Bud Adams will be displayed in Indianapolis on November 12.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid will work his 300th game on Sunday.
A blend of rookies and free agents is making it harder for the Raiders defense to excel.
Washington’s defense knows it will have its hands full against Detroit.
The Falcons offense is getting better and better under Kyle Shanahan.
Chancellor Lee Adams, the son that former Panthers WR Rae Carruth hoped would be killed along with his mother, will be waiting outside the prison the day Carruth is released.
Former Tulane DE Royce LaFrance hopes to make the most of his latest chance with the Saints’ practice squad.
Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was healthy enough to participate in the weekly bucket challenge, which likely means he’ll be healthy enough to play.
The Rams have been let down by the offense and the defense in successive weeks.
ESPN ranks all American pro sports teams, and the 49ers landed at No. 122.
Out of 122.