Can the Vikings roll in Green Bay? Will the Colts go into Detroit and kick the Lions when they are down? Does no Big Ben mean no chance for the Steelers in Baltimore? The PFT guys sort through Week 13′s mess with their Sunday picks.
ProFootballTalk: Week 13 picks
In many NFL cities, a new quarterback rolling into town in May and declaring himself a realistic option for a starting job would draw a polite nod, maybe a pat on the head.
In Cleveland, Brian Hoyer may be onto something.
The newest Browns passer said Thursday he was confident, and that “No doubt I have the capability to be a starting quarterback.”
Hoyer started a game for the Cardinals on short notice last year, but hasn’t done much else other than stand behind Tom Brady for three years.
He also said the Browns haven’t told him about what his role might be.
“Nothing,” he said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I mean for me, I’m just coming out here. I’m so far behind these guys. I’m learning from Brandon and Jason and coach [Norv] Turner. Obviously there’s a great coaching staff here, so I’ve been asking them a lot of questions and just trying to catch up. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to compete for a spot on this team.
“Wherever that goes, we’ll see. But I’m just trying to take it day by day right now, improve myself, and hopefully every day the plays get a little bit easier, the calls get a little bit easier and things like that.”
Everyone’s taking a wait-and-see approach to Hoyer’s role, because unlike in other places, there’s a realistic chance it could be greater.
Brett Favre spent most of his career as the most beloved man in Green Bay, but the last time he was there, he was getting booed off the field after his Vikings had lost to an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team. There was plenty of bad blood then, but Rodgers says now is the time for Favre to come back to Green Bay and be honored for his career with the Packers.
In fact, Rodgers said on the Jim Rome Show that it’s past time.
“I’m excited about it. I really am,” Rodgers said of honoring Favre. “It’s been too long. Our country and the state of Wisconsin, these people are a people of second and third and fourth chances, and I think it’s time to let the healing process begin for those who are still upset about what went down.”
Rodgers said he has no reason to feel any ill will toward Favre, and he hopes the Packers retire Favre’s number before Favre is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I’m very secure with the things I’ve been able to accomplish with the team and individually here in Green Bay, and excited about the chance to see him again and get his number retired here before he goes into Canton,” Rodgers said.
The ceremony to retire Favre’s number will be a great moment at Lambeau Field. And a very different moment than the last time he was there.
It’s good to see that Woody Johnson’s ban on leaks held up so well.
While this one wasn’t the front office variety which was so common before, an unnamed Jets player has already started the Mark Sanchez-ripping which I think we all saw coming.
Come to think of it, Unnamed Jet has been the team’s most consistent performer in recent years.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com talked to a Jets player, who didn’t offer his name, who said 80 to 90 percent of the team was ready to see Sanchez replaced as the starting quarterback.
“Everyone on the team likes Mark personally but there’s a general feeling among some of the players that maybe it’s time to give someone else a chance,” the player said.
This comes on the heels of a three-interception practice by Sanchez which coach Rex Ryan deemed “unacceptable.”
This train is only leaving the station, and it’s only going to pick up steam. If not for the horrible contract extension the previous administration gave him, new Jets General Manager John Idzik might have been inclined to start that rebuilding effort with rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
But numbers dictated that they keep Sanchez, and now they’re apparently in for a fun year of back-biting and general mayhem.
A cornerback from Mississippi State, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Banks is one of the new additions to a revamped Tampa Bay secondary. The Buccaneers traded their 2013 first-round pick to the Jets for cornerback Darrelle Revis, then used their top remaining selection (No. 43) on Banks, who notched 63 tackles and intercepted four passes as a senior for the Bulldogs.
Banks could contribute right off the bat for the Buccaneers, who have the makings of a very good cornerback corps if Revis comes back strong off an ACL tear and Eric Wright plays to his best form.
The signing of Banks leaves the Buccaneers with all but one draft pick — quarterback Mike Glennon — under contract, the club said.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said after taking the field at Organized Team Activities that everything is positive with his surgically repaired knee.
“The knee feels great,” Griffin said. “I’m able to do all the stuff out there without any hesitation, so that’s the best part about it. I’m excited about that. It’s all about having that confidence, and if you put the work in you’ll have that confidence when you get back out there on the field. It’s about playing like you were never injured.”
Griffin said he talked to coach Mike Shanahan prior to OTAs and said he wanted to do as much on-field work as he could, and that Shanahan allowed him to join other players who are rehabbing from injuries to do some limited on-field drills. Griffin said he expects to be able to sprint within the next couple of weeks and to cut within a couple weeks after he starts sprinting.
“There’s two phases left, explosive sprinting and cutting. Those are the only two things left. Being at four and a half months out, I am a little bit ahead,” Griffin said. “My goal is to be out there for training camp.”
Griffin hastened to add that he is being smart about not pushing himself so hard that he has any setbacks. But from all indications Griffin will be ready to go before the start of the regular season.
DUI charges against Titans tight end Brandon Barden were dismissed, after the arresting officer failed to show up for court.
Barden was arrested in Lincoln County, Georgia in February after a single-car wreck, after which he refused blood alcohol tests.
Officer Christopher Treadwell wrote in his report that Barden lost control of his SUV, hit a ditch and flipped one and a half times. The report also said Treadwell could “smell a strong odor of alcohol.”
But according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean, those charges were thrown out because of “lack of prosecution.”
“If the officer doesn’t show for court, everything is dismissed,’’ said Debbie Pruett of the Lincoln County probate office. “Brandon had an attorney and she requested it be dismissed for a lack of prosecution and the judge had no bearing to change it. It’s completely closed. . . .
“It is rare that they don’t [show up], but I think the officer had worked the night shift.”
Barden’s case can still be reviewed by the league for possible discipline.
A former undrafted rookie from Vanderbilt, Barden played in three games last year, and has been participating in offseason workouts with the Titans.
Earlier this week, Steelers tight end Heath Miller said there was a “chance” he’d be able to play the entire 2013 season after tearing his ACL late last season but admitted there’s no timetable yet for his return to full activity.
“Yeah, I think it’s a little too early to say anything like that. It’s a long time before training camp, so that’s a long time to make gains positively or maybe even for something to happen negatively,” Miller said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “So, I’m just taking one day at a time, and I hope to get better every day.”
Miller’s quarterback has a more optimistic take on the tight end’s recovery. During an appearance on WDVE on Thursday, Ben Roethlisberger said that he had “no doubt” that Miller would be on the field for the first week of the season and that his bigger concern is keeping Miller from doing too much too fast as he gets ready for the games to begin.
“The biggest thing is going to be trying to hold Heath back because I think he’s gonna want to get out there too soon,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m gonna fight to say ‘Heath, don’t play in any preseason games. Just get out there for the regular season.’”
The Steelers seem to be approaching things the same way as Roethlisberger. They didn’t draft a tight end in April and their only move of note at the position in free agency was bringing back Matt Spaeth, who has stuck in the NFL the last six years because of his skills as a blocker.
Almost every article that has been published in the 24 hours since Brian Urlacher announced his retirement has included the words “future Hall of Famer.” But one veteran NFL personnel man says he’s not so sure about that.
Former Colts and Giants G.M. Ernie Accorsi said on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio that he isn’t convinced Urlacher is a sure-thing lock for Canton.
“I think he’s a borderline Hall of Famer,” Accorsi said. “I don’t know that he’s a definite Hall of Famer. I think there is a host of them, like Willie Lanier, that were dominant players. He was good, but I wouldn’t put him in that level.”
Asked if he’d put the “guaranteed Hall of Famer” label on Urlacher, Accorsi said he wouldn’t. Instead, Accorsi said, Urlacher was a somewhat limited player who doesn’t deserve to be mentioned among the all-time greats.
“I definitely wouldn’t,” Accorsi said. “That’s my opinion. I don’t think he’s a guarantee. I mean, he may get in because he got a lot of publicity and he was a hard player. But his span that he covered was really restricted. Now a lot of those middle linebackers were in those days. They didn’t have three or four wide receivers so they stayed on the field for three downs. They might be off today. But, no, I certainly don’t have him in [Dick] Butkus or Ray Lewis [category]. And I don’t think he should be in there, really with [Joe] Schmidt and [Ray] Nitschke and those guys, either.”
Accorsi may be right, but it’s possible to say that Urlacher falls short of the greatness of middle linebackers like Butkus and Lewis, but to still say he belongs in the Hall of Fame. And that’s exactly what I would say: Urlacher doesn’t have a case to be the greatest middle linebacker ever. But he has a strong case for the Hall of Fame.
There was news made at OTAs on both coasts this week and we’ll be talking about it during Thursday’s edition of PFT Live.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News will join Mike Florio to talk about a Jets practice on Wednesday that left coach Rex Ryan vexed by Mark Sanchez’s interceptions. We’ll find out how much that will impact Sanchez in the competition with Geno Smith for the starting quarterback job. We’ll also try to see if Mehta can explain how any member of the Jets organization would expect much else from Sanchez after his 52 turnovers over the last two years.
Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area will also join us to discuss the fallout from 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree’s Achilles injury earlier this week. The 49ers are holding out hope that Crabtree will return during the 2013 season, but we’ll talk about how they’ll cope with what will be, at the very least, an extended absence during the regular season.
You can watch it all live at noon ET.
Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks took the Giants by surprise when he failed to show up at the team’s organized team activity on Wednesday.
Coach Tom Coughlin expressed his opinion that Nicks “should” have been at the voluntary workout, although league rules say the exact opposite, and speculation arose that Nicks was firing a preliminary shot in negotiations for a new deal with his contract expiring after the 2013 season. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported as much after speaking to a team source, but that report is now being walked back after a response from Nicks’ agent.
Peter Schaffer has not offered any explanation for why Nicks did not attend the OTA with other Giants, but “strongly denied” that his contract had anything to do with his decision to stay away. In a series of text messages, Schaffer said the wideout “takes his place in the community very seriously and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that reputation.” The team source also got in touch to say that he was merely giving his best guess for Nicks’ absence.
“We’ve all talked about our contracts and the things we’ve been through, like what’s going on with [wide receiver Victor] Cruz,” the source said. “When you talk about money and what you think the team is doing right or wrong, sometimes feelings get really hard.”
Whether or not the contract is the issue right now, the Giants are likely to spend a fair amount of time trying to strike a deal with Nicks before the start of free agency next year. If Cruz winds up playing out this year on his restricted free agent tender, things will be even busier as the Giants try to figure out how to hold onto two receivers with just one franchise tag at their disposal.
A wide receiver from Oregon State, Wheaton will compete to be one of the Steelers’ top receivers beyond starters Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. The Steelers have been willing to play young receivers right off the bat in recent years, with Mike Wallace one example. However, Sanders and Brown also earned reps as rookies, with both garnering more opportunities as the 2010 campaign progressed.
Timed at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, Wheaton hauled in 91 passes for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.
Hawthorne will vie to be a reserve cornerback in his first NFL season. The Illinois product made 26 collegiate starts.
Robert Griffin III is back on the Redskins’ practice field at Organized Team Activities, four months after reconstructive knee surgery.
Griffin is able to drop back, set his feet and throw passes. Albert Breer of NFL Network posted videos of Griffin at work, and Griffin does not appear to have any difficulty moving around and passing. He’s not doing any full-speed running, but from watching what he is doing, you wouldn’t know he suffered a major knee injury in January.
Obviously, there’s a big difference between non-contact drills and playing in an NFL game, and Griffin appears to be working primarily with other players who are rehabilitating injuries, rather than partaking in the regular team workouts. But the fact that Griffin is on the field has to be taken as a good sign that all the optimistic talk about Griffin’s recovery proceeding ahead of schedule was justified.
If Griffin has progressed this far from January to May, there’s every reason for Washington fans to be optimistic that Griffin will make enough progress from May to September that he’ll be on the field for Week One.
Unlike some of his Eagles teammates, tight end James Casey doesn’t have to make the adjustment from playing for Andy Reid to playing for Chip Kelly.
He does have to make an adjustment, though. Casey spent his first four seasons with the Texans before signing with the Eagles as a free agent this offseason but isn’t going to have OTAs or minicamp to help him make the transition to his new offense. Mike Garafolo of USA Today reports that Casey had arthroscopic surgery to clean out loose cartilage in his right knee and will miss the remainder of spring practices.
Garafolo also reports that Casey’s surgery may have been part of the reason why the Eagles cut undrafted rookie running back Miguel Maysonet earlier this week. A person “informed of the team’s thinking” told Garafolo that Casey’s absence (as well as that of rookie Zach Ertz, who is not permitted to practice with the team because Stanford is still in session) left the team with a need at tight end. They filled it by signing Will Shaw and felt that running back was a spot where they could afford to lose a body.
While it would have helped Casey to be at practices in May and June, he isn’t likely to fall out of the team’s plans before training camp. As long as he’s healthy enough to participate with his teammates this summer, we should see plenty of Casey with the offense next season.
UPDATE 11:18 a.m. ET: The original version of this post indicated Casey was set to have surgery. Garafolo has updated his report to reflect the fact that Casey has already had surgery.
Giants fullback Henry Hynoski had to be carted off the field during the Giants’ organized team activity on Wednesday and the injuries he sustained will require surgery on Friday.
The Giants announced that an MRI on Hynoski’s left leg revealed an injury to his medial collateral ligament as well as a fracture of his lateral plateau. The plateau is a weight-bearing area at the top of the tibia in the lower leg. The team gave no specific timetable for Hynoski’s recovery from the injury, but the fullback is shooting for a return in time to play in Week One.
“I am going to set my mind to being ready for the first game of the regular season,” Hynoski said. “They said that is not an unrealistic goal, and I will do everything in my power to be ready for the start of the season.”
Hynoski played all 16 games for the Giants last year and was a key part of their run blocking while also catching 11 passes and a touchdown. Tight end Bear Pascoe has seen time at fullback in the past and could fill in there until Hynoski is ready or the Giants could look outside the organization for insurance in case Hynoski isn’t able to fulfill his goal of returning in time for the season.
When the Steelers were sifting through the wreckage of their 2012 season, Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley came in for criticism for his work ethic.
Steelers coaches said they wanted to see him work harder during the offseason while an unnamed teammate said that Woodley was “awful” in 2012 while opining that he was always hurt because he wasn’t working out hard enough. That led to other members of the Steelers complaining that the comments broke the code of the locker room, although Woodley says that the whole affair didn’t impact him.
“It doesn’t bother me at all. They’re coming at the wrong person when they try coming at me. I don’t listen to nothing,” Woodley said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Playing football my whole life growing up, and you’re in the spotlight sometimes it comes with the good and the bad. You just have to know how to accept it. I’m one of those guys, I don’t pay attention to much at all. I just go out there and do what I’m supposed to do. And these guys on the team know what I go out there and do each and every day.”
Woodley, who says he’s healthy after last year’s ankle injury, claims he took no motivation from his critics, but teammate Larry Foote told WDVE that he’s seen an “extra-motivated” Woodley at workouts this spring and thinks he could put up a “defensive MVP-type” season. The Steelers will surely take that kind of production regardless of what inspired it.