Michael David Smith joins Mike Florio to make their Week 14 NFL picks. Will MDS correctly pick the score to the Raiders game again? Who do they think will win between the lowly Browns and the even lowlier Chiefs?
On Monday, the Broncos will practice for the first time as a team since capping a stellar regular season with an epic postseason collapse, thanks to a 70-yard touchdown pass that allowed the Ravens to force overtime.
The throw from Joe Flacco landed in the hands of Jacoby Jones because Denver safety Rahim Moore jumped too soon and flailed clumsily at the ball. After, of course, Moore allowed Jones to run right past the safety.
But the Broncos are still sticking with Moore. From coaches to players, Moore has been absolved of responsibility.
“I think he’s over it; I think we’re all over it, you know,” Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio told the Associated Press. “I think we all look back and see things that we could have done better.”
Linebacker Von Miller take responsibility for not getting to Flacco before he could launch the desperation pass.
“Rahim made a few key tackles that day. He was all over the place. It was just a football folly,” Miller said. “I don’t blame Rahim. I blame me and Elvis [Dumervil]: 70 yards to go, we know they’re going to pass the ball. That’s why they bring me and Elvis to close the game out and neither of us got to the quarterback. I took it hard.”
Coach John Fox and executive V.P. of football operations John Elway both believe that Moore’s better days are in front of him.
“Rahim’s focus is on getting better from a year ago,” Fox said. “And there wasn’t one play. It was a whole season. He made great, great progress a year ago from his rookie year and we anticipate him to do that again. He’s a very talented young man.”
“[H]e made tremendous strides from Year One to Year Two,” executive V.P. of football operations John Elway said. “And I think hopefully he makes those same strides. He really had a good year last year and we want to watch him to continue to grow. Safety-wise, we feel pretty good.”
But not good enough to resist kicking the tires of Charles Woodson.
While there’s no reason for the Broncos to bail on a second-round pick in the 2011 draft, Moore’s ability to forget after having months to stew will be critical to whether he can continue to play at a high level — and to keep getting better.
If he does, last year’s gaffe will become a distant memory. A very bad, awful memory, but distant nonetheless.
In news that will no doubt please NFL fans eager for the regular season to just get here already, the vast majority of teams will be holding on-field workouts this week.
The 29 teams slated to conduct organized team practice activities (OTAs) are the Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, 49ers, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers and Texans.
Only the Falcons, Titans and Vikings do not have any official voluntary workouts scheduled for this week. Those three teams will all conduct OTAs in the week after Memorial Day, however.
Here’s a primer on OTA rules for those needing to polish up on the guidelines that teams must follow during these workouts. Also, for specific workout dates for all 32 teams, check out PFT’s offseason workout schedule.
This means that Woodson would be interested in playing for the Lions, if the Lions are interested in paying him what he wants.
“If I make it out of my visit with Oakland, like I just made it out of the visit with Denver, then I’m open,” Woodson recently said, via Angeliqu S. Chengelis of the Detroit News. “Here’s the thing about the Lions, the Lions have players. What the Lions haven’t been able to do is put it together. That winning attitude and to be able to start those winning ways, it has to start somewhere. So, would I be open? Sure.”
Woodson has returned to Michigan for a weekend fundraiser at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, to which Woodson contributed $2 million in 2009.
That number could be the operative number this time around. We could see a team being willing to pay Woodson $2 million for a one-year deal, but Woodson wanting more than that.
There’s no reason for Woodson to accept a lowball offer in May. If he’s going to eventually settle for whatever he can get, he may as well wait until after training camp to take it.
Woodson was cut earlier this year by the Packers, who have shown no interest in bringing him back at a reduced salary. The 49ers hosted him in March, but barring injury will be out of the mix given the arrival of Craig Dahl via free agency and the drafting of Eric Reid in round one.
The Broncos and Raiders currently are the primary candidates to land him, with the Giants reportedly having some interest.
As Dwight Freeney recently learned, all it takes is one injury to push the market to a level where it currently isn’t. That’s the risk any team pursuing Woodson currently is taking by not closing the deal.
The pages of PFT are filled with all kinds of stories and far too many of them are about football players and/or teams behaving badly.
So it’s nice when we get a chance to feature the other side of things. One such opportunity presented itself Saturday when the Patriots went to Newtown, Connecticut to hold a football clinic for hundreds of kids between the ages of 6 and 14. Patriots owner Robert Kraft owns a company in Newtown, which was the site of the horrific murders of 20 children and six adults last December.
“As a part of the New England community, I think all of us were devastated when we saw what happened here and if it can happen in the town of Newtown, it could happen in any city or town in America,” Kraft said.
Around 30 current and former Patriots players, coaches and cheerleaders took part in the clinic, which saw more than 500 participants pre-register and more register on the day of the event. The Connecticut Post reports that Kraft got involved as well, playing cornerback against a youngster trying to catch a pass from tight end Rob Gronkowski and drawing calls for a pass interference flag when the receiver tripped over Kraft’s feet.
“Out of bad things, good things can happen, and the good here is to see the resilience and the mental toughness and support this community gave to one another,” Kraft said. ”We saw it in Boston right after the horrible events on Patriots’ Day, the same way the community came together.”
One name on PFT’s All-Unemployed Team sticks out like a sore thumb:
With Dwight Freeney joining San Diego on Saturday, Abraham is the best pass rusher left on the market. His primary skill is a valuable one, and I would suspect someone is going to ante up to get him in the fold. The 35-year-old Abraham wants to be a full-time starter, which is the big hang-up keeping a player who had 10 sacks in 2012 from landing a new gig.
However, Abraham’s leverage is not hurt with organized team practice activities (OTAs) getting into full swing around the league. Perhaps a team doesn’t like what it is seeing from its defensive ends in workouts, or perhaps an injury occurs. Melvin Ingram’s torn ACL early in OTAs suddenly put the Chargers in real need of pass-rush help.
Enter Freeney, and exit one of the best players left in free agency.
Now we wait to see what happens with Abraham. Similarly, it will be interesting to see where another solid veteran defensive end, Israel Idonije, lands. Idonije, who recorded 7.5 sacks for the Bears in 2012, is a recent addition to the All-Unemployed Team. Another new member is Bradie James, who notched 77 tackles for Houston last season. He replaces Karlos Dansby, who signed with Arizona.
Finally, the special teams portion of the All-Unemployed lineup has a new look with punter Chris Kluwe and returner Josh Cribbs moving on to Oakland. Mat McBriar, last of Philadelphia, takes over for Kluwe, while Stefan Logan replaces Cribbs. Logan most recently played for Detroit.
We will continue to update the team as needed. And with so much activity this week, another departure or two wouldn’t be surprising.
Then again, we’re almost two-thirds through spring and John Abraham is still unsigned. And we didn’t see that coming.
But he’s also part of a less-distinguished record for the team.
As noted by Anwar Richardson of MLive.com, Fairley’s part of a 2011 Lions draft class that has woefully underperformed and embarrassed the organization off the field.
Fairley’s play has been good, but his two arrests have him tied for second in his class. Former second-rounder Titus Young leads the way with three, and fellow second-rounder Mikel Leshoure has two also.
In fact, fifth-round linebacker Doug Hogue’s the only member of the five-man class who hasn’t been arrested since joining the league, since seventh-rounder Johnny Culbreath had one. Hogue’s with the Panthers now, and Fairley and Leshoure are the only players left on the Lions roster at this point.
That might not be Matt Millen-esque, but it is an embarrassing collection of choices by General Manager Martin Mayhew, and the fact they signed Reggie Bush this offseason further diminishes any impact Leshoure might have.
The Lions were aggressive making moves this offseason, and they probably should. Anything to keep from thinking about their recent past can’t hurt.
New Eagles coach Chip Kelly is asking his players to do more while they’re at the team facility.
But he’s not asking them to hang around as long, which puts an extra burden on them.
With Kelly trying to streamline practices, Eagles players should have even more free time on their hands, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Under former coach Andy Reid, meetings stretched from early morning to early evening, in part to provide structure to the days of young men who can’t always be trusted to handle free time well. Of course, there were also chunks of empty space in the day that allowed players to nap in their lockers, or send out for fast food.
Now, players run at a faster pace for a shorter time, and nutritional smoothies personalized for each player are provided, among many changes.
“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be real hard,” tight end Brent Celek said. “But I think that’s something guys appreciate. Chip is like, ‘Listen, we know that it’s hard out here, but, . . . we’re going to try and take care of you so you feel good the next day.’”
Kelly knows there’s a chance to be taken with his schedule, and that urging players to always eat well or get 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night isn’t a realistic goal.
“If I can’t trust them when they leave this building then we probably brought the wrong guys in here,” Kelly said.
What it will create is a process of weeding out the players who aren’t on board, and that could require a bit of tearing down before he can build back up.
Safety Husain Abdullah drew a lot of attention for his decision to skip the 2012 season to join millions of other Muslims on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
It’s not every day that you hear about a NFL starter in his prime walking away from the game when he’s still healthy enough to play it and Abdullah told Bill Williamson of ESPN.com that he knew there was a chance he wouldn’t be able to land another job in the league. Abdullah said he was fine with that scenario — his brother and fellow safety Hamza hasn’t landed a job after taking the pilgrimage as well — but that he also worked hard to get back into football shape upon his return from the pilgrimage in hopes of landing a job with an NFL team before the end of the season.
“But teams figured that I missed OTAs and training camp that I might not be ready,” Abdullah said. “I understood. So I had to wait. It crossed my mind that I wouldn’t get a chance. I was at peace with that. I was so grateful do to something I waited my whole life for.”
Abdullah wound up signing with the Chiefs in February, which looks like a pretty good spot for him to resume his career. Eric Berry is set at one safety spot, but Kendrick Lewis struggled with injuries in 2012 and could be vulnerable to a challenge from Abdullah this summer.
With only two cities vying for Super Bowl L and then only two cities squaring off for Super Bowl LI on Tuesday, the voting process becomes much more simple than if three or more cities were being considered for one game.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT via email that the procedure initially will consist of San Francisco and South Florida squaring off, with owners voting via secret ballot for one or the other. If either gets 24 of 32 votes, that bid wins the game.
If neither gets the 75-percent supermajority, the voting immediately transforms in round two to a simple majority, with 17 votes winning.
If the owners deadlock at 16, the voting continues. Indefinitely.
After the host for Super Bowl L is named, the loser then takes on Houston for Super Bowl LI, with the same rules applying.
The two-tiered approach gives Texans owner Bob McNair a clear strategy when voting for the Super Bowl L host. He needs to vote for the city he thinks Houston is less likely to beat for Super Bowl LI.
But the more they talk about it, the more clear it becomes that they don’t mind it being perceived that way.
Via Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano compared his third-round pick to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, and said he thought Glennon “can play quickly,” if they need him to.
But our situation will be only if he’s needed,” Schiano said. “Or if he wins the job. Look, I’m not against that. We have a starting quarterback. It’s not like we’re looking to find a starter. But competition is competition. Mike Glennon is a fierce competitor. I knew that when he was coming out of high school. Now being able to work with him a little, you can see it on the practice field.”
It’s reasonable to think the Bucs want to have Glennon ready in a hurry, with Freeman in the final year of his rookie contract.
But with every passing report, it’s harder and harder to sell the motion that they have nothing but trust in the former first-rounder, or that they want to hitch themselves to Freeman for the long-term future.
Statistics don’t always tell the entire story, but they do a pretty good job of providing everything you need to know about how 2012 went for Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
His 71 catches were his least for a season since 2006 and he never had a lower average than the 11.2 yards per catch he picked up last year. The Cardinals finished 5-11 after winning their first four games and Fitzgerald is quite sure that he doesn’t want to go through another year like that in 2013.
“It was the most frustrating season, time, I’ve ever had professionally or even amateur. I’ve never had a year like that,” Fitzgerald said, via Bruce Cooper of the Arizona Republic. “It was tough mentally. Physically, it was tough. It builds resolve. I know I never want to go through a season like that personally or as a team and I’m going to do everything in my power not to ever repeat that. It left a real bad taste in my mouth.”
There’s reason to believe Fitzgerald will be able to avoid a similar taste this year. Whatever Carson Palmer’s flaws are as a quarterback, he’s well ahead of John Skelton and Ryan Lindley and the same is likely true of backup Drew Stanton should Palmer go down with an injury. The addition of Jonathan Cooper should bolster a leaky offensive line and Bruce Arians showed last season with Reggie Wayne that he knows how to find new ways to maximize the production of veteran receivers.
There still may be frustration ahead in what looks like a very tough NFC West, but Fitzgerald should find 2013 a little more to his liking all the same.
The process for nominating players, coaches, etc. to each team’s Mt. Rushmore has made its way back to Broadway, with the Jets officially on the clock.
For Fireman Ed and company, the challenge is to show us your nominees for the four greatest contributors in franchise history.
The problem is that there likely won’t be many players or others from recent years. Those back-to-back AFC title game appearances are looking more and more like aberrations, and the best player from those teams (Darrelle Revis) only played five years and a slice of a sixth.
But nominate whoever/whomever/whatever you want. From Joe Namath to Tim Tebow, everyone is eligible at this stage of the process. Eventually, we’ll trim the field to a dozen or so finalists for official voting.
At least, as official as online poll voting ever gets.
The Jets lost a quarterback this week when David Garrard said “no mas” because of a knee injury and a report from Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com indicates they were interested in replacing him.
Grossi reports that the Jets “really wanted” to sign Brian Hoyer after Hoyer was released by the Cardinals. They weren’t able to close a deal, though, and Hoyer agreed to terms with the Browns on a two-year deal.
It probably comes as no surprise that the Jets were interested in the quarterback since they’ve shown some level of interest in just about every quarterback with recent NFL experience. It would also come as no surprise to see the team look elsewhere for another body to add to their current four-man mix at the position since it is clear that no one from that group has a stranglehold on the starting job.
Hoyer’s probably about as good as it is going to get on the free agent market until team start making cuts during camp this summer, however, and adding a player who can learn the offense quickly enough to win the job at that point is, to put it mildly, a long shot. It’s probably going to be Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith at quarterback come the start of the season for the Jets.
NFL owners will be gathering in Boston this week for a meeting that has one primary item on the agenda: Awarding two Super Bowls.
First, it’s Miami versus San Francisco for Super Bowl L. Then, the loser takes on Houston for Super Bowl LI. The votes will happen on Tuesday.
Via Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News, supporters of the South Florida Super Bowl raised $36.5 million to support their bid, which is more than twice the amount previously believed and $6.5 million more than Bay Area supporters raised.
For the powers-that-be in San Francisco (yes, we know the stadium is in Santa Clara), the broader goal has becomes cracking the Super Bowl rotation, which would put games periodically in the new venue instead of making a title game a one-shot, quid pro quo for building it.
“Owners remember successful Super Bowls,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Rosenberg.
The bar will be higher for Super Bowl L. “It’s a bigger deal,” NFL senior V.P. for events Frank Supovitz told Rosenberg. “Super Bowl L has to be above and beyond even that curve of improvement.”
That could make it even harder for Miami to win Super Bowl L, given the failure of an effort to secure public funds to upgrade Sun Life Stadium. After hinging future Super Bowls to renovations at the place where the game is played, the not-so-subtle threat will come off as hollow, especially if Miami gets the 50th edition of America’s premier sporting event.
Miami could still finagle Super Bowl LI. At times, the game is as much about the events preceding it as the game itself, and South Florida remains an ideal location for the seven days of events that come before kickoff.
Linebacker Rolando McClain’s decision to retire from the NFL in an attempt to get his personal life in order seems like a wise thing for a player who has not been able to stay out of trouble since entering the professional ranks.
According to McClain’s college coach, it’s also a decision that’s fair to a Ravens team that signed McClain to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal after he was released by the Ravens. Alabama coach Nick Saban said he thinks McClain needs to get himself into a place where he can concentrate on football and that it was the right move to announce his retirement rather than go forward at less than full speed.
“For the Ravens, Ro’s being fair to them,” Saban said, via Don Kausler Jr. of the Birmingham News. “What he’s saying is that he’s not ready to play rather than them having to release him, where someone else can claim him. They can retain his rights. I think he likes the Ravens organization. I think he likes John [Harbaugh]. I think he likes Ozzie [Newsome]. He appreciates the fact that they gave him an opportunity, so I think he’s doing the right thing.”
In a statement, McClain said that “God willing” he’ll play for the Ravens one day and the Ravens will hold onto his rights as long as McClain remains on the Reserve/Retired list. It’s not the great favor that Saban makes it out to be, but Baltimore would certainly stand to benefit down the road if the former eighth overall pick is able to get back to a place where he’s focused on the football field instead of the courtroom.