Skip to content

Rivera says he’s playing kids, for his benefit next year

Ron Rivera AP

Ron Rivera is doing like many coaches who are playing out the string, he’s playing kids.

But the Panthers coach said he’s doing it in preparation for coaching them next year.

Oh, Ron.

“It is about winning, don’t get me wrong, because I intend to win or try to win every one of these games we play,” Rivera said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “But at the same time, we’ve got to be able to do it with these young guys. If we don’t play these guys, we’ll go into next season with the same questions.

“People say, ‘Oh you’re just getting them ready for the next coach.’ Well I think I’m getting them ready for me. I could be wrong but I’m not going to worry about that. I’m worried about each game, the next four games, and going forward we’ll see what happens.”

Rivera said he hasn’t talked to owner Jerry Richardson about that, however, since general manager Marty Hurney was fired. That’s when Richardson told him he wanted to see them “trend upward.”

The Panthers are 3-9 this year, giving Rivera a 9-19 record overall. His teams are 1-12 in games decided by a touchdown or less, after yesterday’s loss to the Chiefs.

Watching Rivera lately, you can tell he spent a lot of time working for Andy Reid. There’s a quiet realization of what’s all but certain to happen to him in a month, but he’s going down pushing all the buttons he knows how, and he’s doing it with a measure of grace.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Carolina Panthers, Home, Rumor Mill

Jason Pierre-Paul has sports hernia surgery

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 20:  Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants in action against  Mike Remmers #74 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Any optimism the Giants had about Jason Pierre-Paul’s condition is gone now.

According to Jordan Raanan of, the Giants defensive end had surgery this morning to repair a sports hernia, which should end his season.

The recovery time is pegged at six weeks, and with four weeks of regular season left, it’s effectively a year-ender.

Pierre-Paul left Sunday’s loss to the Steelers with a groin injury, and spent yesterday visiting noted surgeon Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia. The Giants were hoping surgery could be avoided and that he might just miss a few games, but that apparently wasn’t the case.

It also puts a dent in Pierre-Paul’s pending free agency, as he was having a strong recent run (5.5 sacks in the two games before the Steelers game), and once again will enter the market coming off surgical repairs, after losing fingers in a fireworks accident last year.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Victor Cruz, Ben McAdoo have conversation that “needed to be had”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 01: Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants stands on the sidelines against the New England Patriots during their preseason game at MetLife Stadium on September 1, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Victor Cruz wanted answers from coach Ben McAdoo about why he didn’t have any balls thrown his way during last Sunday’s loss to the Steelers and he got them during a conversation on Tuesday.

It sounds like things unfolded in a friendlier manner for Cruz and McAdoo than they did when Daniel Kaffee demanded answers from Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup. Cruz said he left the chat feeling that the team would make “some concerted efforts” to get everyone involved on offense and that he thinks he’ll “be getting at least one target” against the Cowboys.

“We had an honest conversation between both of us,” Cruz said, via the New York Post. “He laid it to me straight, and I gave him my thoughts as well, and I think it was productive and it ended well. It was a conversation that I guess needed to be had, and we had it and we can turn the page and move on. It was just two guys trying to problem-solve. There was no anger, there was nothing back and forth. It was just two guys trying to figure it out and try and continue how to make this team and this receiving corps as productive as possible.”

Cruz caught the winning touchdown on a three-yard pass from Eli Manning the first time the Giants and Cowboys faced off this season. He also played on 89 percent of the team’s snaps in that game, which is a stark difference from last week when he played 43 percent of the time. That was less time than undrafted rookie Roger Lewis got, which hasn’t been the case every week but would seem to be as telling about where Cruz stands on the offense right now as the fact that Eli Manning never found him against the Steelers.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

More non-excuse excuses from Jeff Fisher

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16: Head coach Jeff Fisher of the Los Angeles Rams watches his team against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 16, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rams coach Jeff Fisher, to his credit, is a master of survival. This year, survival has required him to become a master of making excuses without making excuses.

He has said on multiple occasions after losses this year that he doesn’t make excuses, immediately before making excuses. On Tuesday, he once again said, essentially, that he doesn’t make excuses — and then offered up an excuse.

I look at this as being my responsibility, the win-loss record,” Fisher told reporters, before deftly shifting responsibility. “We need to do a better job from a personnel standpoint. We’ve had some unfortunate things take place with some high picks in Steadman Bailey and Tre Mason and those kind of things you don’t anticipate. But we’re moving forward.”

Bailey, a third-round pick, saw his career end after he was shot twice in the head last year in Miami. Mason, another third-round pick, has seen his career evaporate in an apparent haze of mental illness.

But no team hits on every draft pick, high or other otherwise. Just like every other team deals, from time to time, with injuries or bad officiating or anything else that Fisher has cited in recent weeks as an excuse after saying he doesn’t make excuses. (The folks at have the full list.)

Tuesday seems to be the first time the non-excuse excuses have looked and felt like an effort to throw G.M. Les Snead under the bus, at least a little bit. Indeed, Fisher tried to create the impression that he didn’t know Snead has gotten a contract extension, too.

“I’m so busy here, I was honestly unaware that he was extended,” Fisher said. “I’m being honest with you. We’re just working here.”

The not-so-subtle message is that Fisher has no say whatsoever in who the G.M. is, which creates the impression Fisher doesn’t have higher standing in the organization than Snead. Which makes it seem as if Snead is equally if not more responsible for any personnel issues than Fisher.

Or, more accurately, that Fisher really isn’t responsible or, even more accurately, shouldn’t be held accountable. For personnel blunders, injuries, short weeks of preparation, travel, weather, the vagaries of coin flips, or pretty much anything else.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Trevor Siemian says he’s “getting better every day”

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27:  Outside linebacker Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs sacks quarterback Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos for a safety in the second quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian is out of the walking boot after the foot injury that cost him last week’s game, and he’s hoping to not miss another one.

During an interview with Denver Sports 760 AM, Siemian said he’s “making some progress” toward a return this week against the Titans.

I think I’m getting better every day,” Siemian said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “[I’m] trying to do some different things this week and see how it holds up. I think I’m making some headway and we’ll see how it ends up.”

Coach Gary Kubiak said Monday he was hopeful Siemian would be back, and the quarterback himself seemed eager to return to a normal workload. Kubiak said last week he’d have no problem playing Siemian without a full week of practice, so it’s clear they want to make sure he gets plenty of chance to recover physically, since they trust his grasp of the offense without weekday reps.

“If it was up to me, I’d try to be out there every day doing something,” Siemian said. “But, again, this is a day-to-day thing and that’s how we’re taking it. We’ll come in in the morning [Wednesday[ and see how I’m doing and listen to Greek [head athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos] and he’ll take care of me.”

First-round rookie Paxton Lynch replaced him last week, and while they got a win over the Jaguars, it was a clear step down from where Siemian has been lately, so they’re excited to get the former seventh-rounder back on the field.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Vic Fangio could be part of “massive overhaul” in Chicago

Vic Fangio AP

John Fox has been able to fix teams quickly in both his previous stops, but the going has been much tougher in Chicago. And if he continues next year as head coach, some changes to his staff could be inevitable.

Via Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Tribune, one of those on the way out could be veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, as part of a “massive overhaul” of the team’s staff after a disappointing 3-9 start obscured any of the strides they made going 6-10 last year. According to the report, that overhaul won’t include Fox himself.

The Bears have plenty of problems, beginning with injuries and suspensions this year. But many would identify the problems with their offense, as they’ve struggled since replacing offensive coordinator Adam Gase with Dowell Loggains.

Fox hiring Fangio in Chicago was a bit of a surprise to some, as Fox has always run 4-3 defenses and Fangio was a 3-4 guy. But the Bears are built to play a three-man front now, and changing that might create another layer of problems.

If they make a change at all, as coaches get notoriously jumpy this time of year as they look for future employment.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mike Zimmer’s listening to the doctors as he comes back from eye surgery

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 14: Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer watches the action during the second quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 14, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Vikings 16-14. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer might have been wearing a patch, but he could still see what the Vikings were doing wrong in practice.

He still can see everything with one patch over his eye,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said, via Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “If you made a mistake, he still sees it — ‘I see that!’ I’m like, ‘Wait a minute!’ ”

That Zimmer’s back on the job already after having his fourth eye procedure Friday isn’t surprising. But he said during his weekly interview on KFAN that he’s following doctor’s orders carefully. He’s expected to travel with the team to Jacksonville this week but said there was “still a lot to be determined” regarding the health of his right eye.

“I understand the seriousness of the issue and what it is,” Zimmer said. “If they tell me it’s in my best interest to sit in the box during the game or in my best interest to not go to the game, or there’s a possibility of losing my eyesight in this eye, then I’m going to listen to them.

“I think there’s a lot of speculation out there that says I’m not doing what the doctors are telling me to do, and I don’t believe that’s right.”

He said doctors told him to not look up, instead limiting him to “horizon, down,” He also needs to limit his physical activity as he recovers.

He’s continued to work through four procedures to repair a detached retina, and skipped last Thursday’s game. But he was back at Tuesday’s walk-through with a white patch over his eye.

And apparently, he can still see problems with his good eye, which is a good sign.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Todd Bowles: Jets’ problem was bonehead mistakes, not effort

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets smiles while watching his team warm up prior to the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Monday night’s beatdown at the hands of the Colts, the Jets were criticized for a lack of effort. But coach Todd Bowles said after watching the tape that he thinks his players were hustling.

He admits, however, that his players made a lot of stupid mistakes to contribute to an ugly loss.

“I thought the effort was a lot better, but I thought we made some bonehead mistakes that cost us,” Bowles said.

Asked to clarify what the bonehead mistakes were, Bowles answered, “Probably too many to mention, because there was a lot of people that made them, whether it was offense or defense or on special teams. We had busts that we normally don’t have, and there were certain things that we didn’t execute. We didn’t execute at all.”

Bowles said the bonehead mistakes extended to everyone on the team.

“I don’t think anybody played well,” Bowles said.

Bowles is surely right about that. And if he can’t find a way to fix those bonehead mistakes he may find himself looking for work in four weeks.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Wednesday morning one-liners

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to their NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots QB Tom Brady leads the league with a 113.1 passer rating.

Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso has recovered four fumbles, most in the NFL this season.

Bills RB LeSean McCoy is averaging a career-high 5.5 yards a carry this season.

Although he was benched before the fourth quarter on Monday night, Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has still thrown the most fourth quarter interceptions in the NFL this season.

Ravens K Justin Tucker’s great season includes a perfect 8-for-8 on field goals 50 yards and longer.

Bengals K Mike Nugent has missed five extra points this season.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown has led the league in catches the last two years and is tied for the league lead this year.

After having several close losses early in the season, the Browns have lost four straight games by at least 14 points.

Colts QB Andrew Luck has been sacked an NFL-high 36 times.

Texans QB Brock Osweiler has more than doubled his interception total, from six with the Broncos last year to 13 in Houston this year.

Titans RB DeMarco Murray’s 4.6-yard average is a full yard per carry better than he had in Philadelphia last year.

Jaguars QB Blake Bortlespasser rating has declined from 88.2 last year to 76.9 this year.

Broncos OLB Von Miller leads the league with 12.5 sacks.

Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill has an NFL-high 374 punt return yards.

Raiders QB Derek Carr has thrown 470 passes and been sacked just 12 times. (His brother is jealous.)

Chargers CB Casey Hayward is leading the league with seven interceptions.

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has 37 rushing first downs this season, most in the NFL.

Eagles QB Carson Wentz had seven touchdowns and one interception in his first five games. He has five touchdowns and 10 interceptions since then.

Giants WR Odell Beckham has over 1,000 receiving yards this season. No one else on the Giants even has 500 receiving yards.

Washington QB Kirk Cousins has 36 passes of 25 yards or longer, the most in the NFL.

Bears RB Jordan Howard has had a good rookie season, but he has also dropped an NFL-high seven passes.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford has a career-high 178 rushing yards.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three games.

Vikings QB Sam Bradford’s 97.5 passer rating this season is a career high.

Falcons MLB Deion Jones is the NFL leader in interception return yards, with 132.

Saints QB Drew Brees has an NFL-high 30 touchdown passes.

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has 64 receiving first downs, most in the NFL.

Panthers QB Cam Newton has a career-low 80.6 passer rating this season.

ESPN’s QBR ranks 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick as the worst passing quarterback and best running quarterback in the NFL.

Rams P Johnny Hekker has landed 40 punts inside the 20-yard line, by far the most in the NFL.

Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner has an NFL-high 127 tackles.

Cardinals RB David Johnson has topped 1,000 rush yards and 700 receiving yards this season, something no player had done since Le’Veon Bell in 2014.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick playing with plantar fasciitis

Orlando Scandrick AP

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will have to manage an injured left foot through the remainder of the season.

According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Scandrick is dealing with plantar fasciitis that has limited his availability recently.

Scandrick was relegated to only playing in nickel situations against the Minnesota Vikings last Thursday. He played just 54 out of 74 snaps against the Vikings as Anthony Brown started in his place opposite Brandon Carr.

It’s very frustrating,” Scandrick said. “But there is nothing I can do. I doubt it gets better until the off-season. The only treatment is rest. And I can’t get that at this time. It’s not a long-term health issue. But it’s unfortunate. I knew the first year back (from last year’s ACL injury) would be difficult and things like this would pop up. I’ve just got to get through this season.”

Despite the limited snaps, Scandrick had a season-high seven tackles against Minnesota.

If the Cowboys can lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, Scandrick may be able to get the rest he needs to improve the issue for the postseason run. Dallas has a 2.5 game lead over Seattle in the race for the top seed. It could give Scandrick as many as three weeks off to rest his foot before the Cowboys begin preparation for their Divisional Round matchup.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Who’s the coach of the year so far?

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Jack Del Rio of the Oakland Raiders shakes hands with head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs following the Chiefs 23-17 victory over the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Every team has played 12 games, and four games remain. (That is the limit of my mathematical ability.)

So with 75 percent of the season done, who’s the coach of the year so far?

It’s the question of the day for Wednesday’s PFT Live.

Vote, comment, vote, comment, lather, rinse, repeat. And then tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio and/or 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

Guests include former NFL linebacker and current FOX college and pro analyst Chris Spielman and former NFL tight end and current ESPN college and pro analyst Anthony Becht.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Harrison Smith’s season in doubt due to high ankle sprain

New York Jets v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Vikings safety Harrison Smith could miss an extended period of time due to a high ankle sprain, the Pioneer Press reported Tuesday.

Smith has a grade 3 sprain and will miss at least this week’s game at Jacksonville.

The report said Smith could miss the rest of the season and might eventually need surgery. That will be determined over the coming weeks.

He originally suffered the injury on Nov. 20 and aggravated it in each of the last two games, the report said. He left the stadium after last Thursday’s game vs. the Cowboys with his left foot and ankle in a protective boot.

Smith, a former first-round pick, made his first Pro Bowl last season. He hasn’t missed a start this season.

The 6-6 Vikings are two games behind the Lions and tied for second with the Packers in the NFC North.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jets take a look at four long snappers

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 16:  Long snapper Rick Lovato #59 of the Green Bay Packers looks on while taking on the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets worked out four long snappers on Tuesday, a league source told PFT.

The four were Rick Lovato, Zach Triner, Daniel Dillon and Kameron Canaday. Lovato recently filled in as an injury replacement for the Redskins. He also snapped in two games and two playoff games for the Packers in 2015.

Dillon and Canaday were both on the offseason roster with the Cardinals last spring as undrafted free agents. Triner got a tryout with the Texans last spring.

The 3-9 Jets are playing for next year, and having four long snappers in could have been about looking forward to next year. Tanner Purdum, who’s been the team’s regular long snapper since 2010, is in the final year of his contract.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Gholston dealing with ankle sprain

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 23:  William Gholston #92 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts after a sack of Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston is dealing with an ankle sprain, and his status for Sunday’s game vs. the Saints is uncertain, reported Tuesday.

The report said Gholston left last Sunday’s game at San Diego on crutches and with a protective boot on his left ankle.

Gholston is the only Buccaneers’ defensive lineman to start every game this season and leads the defensive line unit in tackles. He has 2.5 sacks on the season.

Gholston, a fourth-round pick in 2013, has missed just one game since early in his rookie season.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL: We haven’t announced anything about Randy Gregory

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs against Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second half as Randy Gregory #94 of the Cowboys and Greg Olsen #88 of the  Panthers look on at AT&T Stadium on November 26, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The mystery of Randy Gregory’s ability to return to practice continues.

First, Albert Breer of reported that the Cowboys defensive end is eligible to return to practice Wednesday, in advance of the completion of his eligibility to play in Week 16. Next, Breer reported that the NFL has informed Gregory that he can’t return to practice on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys declared through the website they own and operate that “the NFL has announced he will not be eligible to practice with the team until his suspension has been completed.”

Said the NFL to PFT: “We didn’t announce anything” about Gregory. “We haven’t commented at all today on his status . . . [and] we don’t have a comment.”

So, basically, Gregory won’t be at practice before Week 16. Unless he will be.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chargers talking to L.A. Coliseum about playing there in 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Brian Quick #83 of the Los Angeles Rams can't hold on to the ball for an incomplete pass against the Carolina Panthers in the the second quater of the game at the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Getty Images

If you thought the playing surface looked a little rough with both USC and the Rams playing there in 2016, it could get a lot rougher in 2017.

Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today explains that the Chargers are talking to the L.A. Coliseum Commission about playing there next season.

“In light of the vote of the people of San Diego, it’s back on the table in earnest,” L.A. Coliseum Commission President Mark Ridley-Thomas said, via Schrotenboer. “So the appropriate amount of due diligence continues to be done, and we will see if in fact we can strike a deal.”

The StubHub Center, a much smaller venue, reportedly has been identified as another potential location. Which gives the Chargers two options. Which gives the Chargers leverage in the discussions with both venues.

There’s likely more than meets the eye on this one, given the game of four-dimensional chess currently being played in connection with the future locations of the Chargers and Raiders. Still, with little more than a month to go before the Chargers’ window of opportunity for an L.A. move closes, the Chargers need to be making arrangements for next year, because if they announce an intention to move to L.A., they’ll move immediately.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top