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ProFootballTalk: NFL needs gun education
In the NFL, injuries are an unavoidable occurrence.
No matter how lucky a team gets on the injury front in a given year, they are bound to lose someone to injury at some point during the season.
The Arizona Cardinals lost defensive lineman Darnell Dockett to a torn ACL this week. Dockett has been a stalwart of Arizona’s defense for years and his loss will create a sizable void to be filled this season.
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald said it’s something the Cardinals still must be able to overcome.
“It’s something that happens far too often in our game and teams have to weather it,” Fitzgerald said, via “The Drive” on FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix. “Coach [Bruce] Arians talked about it yesterday in our night meeting that no team has even won a Super Bowl that starts the season with the same 11 or 22 guys that finish the season when they win the Super Bowl. Even when we made our Super Bowl run, there are guys that went down, there was guys that stepped up to the plate and we’re going to need guys to come in and perform and fill those big shoes that he’s leaving.”
The Cardinals defense was among the league’s best last season. Arizona ranked 6th in total defense and kept the Cardinals in every game they played over the final three months of the season.
If it was just the loss of Dockett, the Cardinals may have very well been able to overcome his injury. However, Arizona has also lost linebackers Karlos Dansby to the Cleveland Browns and Daryl Washington to suspension. Replacing that many pieces may be too much for the Cardinals to overcome.
It was a good day back on the job for reigning Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.
Smith missed all offseason workouts and the start of training camp for the Seattle Seahawks after having ankle surgery this spring. After a limited workload in his first practice on Monday, Smith was ramped up to full participation in practice on Tuesday. It didn’t take long for Smith to flash the form with which he finished the 2013 season.
Smith perfectly positioned himself in the throwing lane of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and made a leaping one-handed interception that he returned 60 yards for a touchdown.
“Hopefully keep it rolling,” Smith said. “I don’t think one practice will do it all but just trying to stack some good days together.”
Smith became a key contributor on Seattle’s defense last season and became indispensable late in the year. Smith had four interceptions in the final five games the Seahawks played. His interception of a tipped pass by Richard Sherman for Michael Crabtree sealed the NFC Championship for Seattle, while his 69-yard interception of Peyton Manning and fumble recovery of Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl helped earn him most-valuable player honors.
Seattle has been without three of their top four linebackers for the majority of training camp. Smith is the first to return with Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner both expected back in the next couple weeks. Wagner and Irvin could both return to practice as soon as next week.
In an effort to not create a monster, the Browns may have made a mess.
Two years ago, Washington immediately installed quarterback Robert Griffin III as the team’s starter. And Griffin, who instantly rose to superstardom in D.C., ended up being not quite as coachable as former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan may have wanted.
With Shanahan now in Cleveland and the Browns taking the biggest celebrity quarterback in this year’s draft, the Browns may have consciously opted to do the opposite, humbling Johnny Manziel in the hopes that, as he earns the job, he’ll learn to listen to an offensive coordinator with a reputation for wanting the offense to be run the way he wants it. Indeed, Coach Mike Pettine hinted at a desire to avoid Manziel Mania when defending in June the team’s decision not to install Manziel immediately as the starter.
“When people criticize how we handled it, what’s the alternative?” Pettine told USA Today at the time. “Would it have been more prudent for us the night we drafted him to name him the starter? And have him come in here and let the media have access to him every day and have a huge press conference for him? Handle him that way?”
Time has shown that it doesn’t matter whether Manziel is the starter or merely competing for the job. Media interest attaches naturally to his name, especially with the quarterback decision nudging toward a regular-season decision that hardly will be final.
And if the Browns opted to use a quarterback competition to humble Manziel, the splitting of first-team reps during practice and regular-season games has made it harder for Manziel or Brian Hoyer to be as prepared as the starter would be if the starter had been named right out of the gates.
Surely, it would have been Manziel. Otherwise, the Browns wouldn’t have traded up from No. 26 to No. 22 to add a quarterback. They would have opted to ride with Hoyer and use the pick on someone who could help the team at another position.
By trading up for Manziel, the Browns made their choice. By not following through with it, the Browns have made it harder for Manziel to be ready for the job that they’d hoped to hand him as of Week One. Now, they may have to go with an equally unprepared Brian Hoyer and hope he doesn’t play so well that it becomes impossible to use Manziel at any point in 2014, or to start 2015.
Browns fans know that dynamic all too well from seven years ago, when Derek Anderson made it impossible to use Brady Quinn in 2007, setting the stage for a controversy in 2008 from which the team still hasn’t fully recovered.
The Eagles have added a tailback who shouldn’t need much time to pick up Chip Kelly’s offense.
The club announced Tuesday night it had acquired Panthers running back Kenjon Barner for a conditional 2015 seventh-round pick.
The 25-year-old Barner played collegiately at Oregon under Kelly, rushing for 3,623 yards and 41 touchdowns. A 2013 sixth-round pick of the Panthers, Barner appeared in eight games as a rookie, rushing six times for seven yards, catching two passes for seven yards and returning two kickoffs for 17 yards.
“Kenjon will hopefully bring some depth to both our running back and return positions,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said in a team-issued statement Tuesday night. “He’s obviously a guy I know really well from Oregon, where he had a very productive career. He has a lot of speed, explosiveness and had a knack for making some really big plays. But our plan with him right now is get him in Philadelphia as soon as we can and plug him in at running back and returner and let him compete.”
Barner’s addition gives the Eagles seven tailbacks. He’ll vie for a reserve role in the Philadelphia backfield. Darren Sproles, Chris Polk, Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey and David Fluellen are the other options behind starter LeSean McCoy. Polk is dealing with a hamstring injury.
Eagles rookie Josh Huff, who’s listed as the club’s second-team kickoff returner, will miss the Eagles’ third preseason game with a shoulder injury, which could lead to Barner getting some special teams work in his Philadelphia debut.
The Lions opted not to pick up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Nick Fairley’s rookie contract in order to give him extra incentive in what became a contract year.
So far, it hasn’t worked.
“If you’re asking me whether or not Fairley is going to be a starter, he’s not starting right now,” Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. “He’s second team. . . . But the rest of it, we’ll look. It’s a long week. We’ve got a lot of work to do in between and typically like most games, we’ll take a look at where we are and make an assessment on that toward the end of the week.”
In other words, if Fairley finally reaches the potential that made him a first-round draft choice on a consistent basis, he’ll return to the starting lineup. If chasing a new contract won’t flip that switch, nothing ever will.
Collins’ Green Bay career ended because of a neck injury suffered in the club’s second regular season game of 2011. Collins, who underwent vertebrae fusion surgery, was released by Green Bay in April 2012. He has not appeared in an NFL game since.
Earlier this year, Collins had indicated he was willing to consider a return to football.
Collins’ ball skills were a major strength. A three-time Pro Bowler, Collins picked off 21 passes in regular season play for Green Bay from 2005 through 2011, and he scored the Packers’ second touchdown in their Super Bowl XLV victory over Pittsburgh on an interception return.
In his statement Tuesday, Collins thanked his “family, friends, and the Packer Nation for the love and support.”
A full 15 days have passed since hearing officer Harold Henderson concluded the hearing in connection with the appeal of Browns receiver Josh Gordon’s one-year suspension. Nearly four months have passed since word of the suspension first emerged.
And there’s still no ruling. The substance-abuse policy requires that a decision be made within a “reasonable time.” That’s a fuzzy concept, but given the delays already inherent to the process, it’s all starting to feel unreasonable.
Under the plain language of the substance-abuse policy, it also would be unreasonable for Henderson to impose anything other than a one-year suspension or no suspension at all. Despite multiple reports and a clear suggestion from ESPN’s Mike Tirico during Monday night’s Cleveland-Washington game that Henderson could split the difference, the rules simply don’t contemplate it. If the policy is applied as written, it will be all or nothing.
While Henderson technically has the power to do whatever he wants, failing to interpret and apply the policy as written could result in the NFL no longer hiring Henderson to serve as a hearing officer. Unless, of course, the NFL wants Henderson to find a middle ground, so that Gordon’s suspension for smoking marijuana (possibly on a second-hand basis) won’t be quite as glaring in comparison to Ray Rice’s two-game ban for domestic violence.
The cleaner outcome, if the difference is going to be split, would come from a negotiation. As of Tuesday night, however, there have been no talks — and none are expected.
Still, if Henderson wants to work this out, he can get the parties on the phone and ask the NFL to offer an eight-game suspension and to keep it open for 24 hours while Gordon decides what to do, with a wink-nod understanding that, if a ruling is issued, it will be a full-year suspension.
Plenty of judges have used that and similar tactics to get cases settled. Don’t be shocked if it happens here.
Former linebacker Tim Shaw, who retired after being released last year by the Titans, has become the latest NFL player to develop ALS.
Shaw spent six seasons in the NFL after arriving via the 2007 draft to Carolina. He made the announcement on Tuesday via a video posted at the Titans’ website. He then took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and Shaw thereafter challenged the current Titans roster and the Penn State football team to do the same thing.
Shaw, who also played for the Jaguars and Bears, talked about his plans for the future in March. Now, those plans have changed dramatically. We wish him the best as he fights this horrible disease, and we encourage everyone to contribute to the ALS Association and/or to The Gleason Initiative Foundation, started by former Saints defensive back Steve Gleason, and/or to The Brigance Brigade, launched by former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance.
With enough money and research and dedication, ALS can be cured. Here’s hoping it happens sooner than later.
As it has grown and grown and grown some more, the NFL has continued to find more and more and more revenue streams.
The latest could be the Super Bowl halftime show. Currently a gig the performer plays for free in order to turn a gigantic international platform into the high profile and profits that go with it, the league now wants a cut.
According to the Wall Street Journal (via SportsBusiness Daily), the NFL has asked the three artists under consideration for the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show to “contribute a portion of their post-Super Bowl tour income” to the NFL, or to “make some other type of financial contribution.” Per the report, the idea received a “chilly reception” from the representatives of Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Coldplay.
Regardless, it only takes one performer to bite the hook in order for the NFL to parlay the halftime show into even more of a moneymaker. And it’s entirely possible that the league leaked the development in order to pressure one of the three to blink, given that plenty of other performers who would gladly give up a piece of a pie they otherwise don’t have will now be calling the league to offer whatever the league wants for the privilege of playing to one of the biggest audiences in TV history.
With the new season starting, an enhanced in lineup is coming to NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk.
But you’ll still be stuck with me. (Sorry.)
On Tuesday, NBC Sports Group announced that Paul Burmeister arrives as the new co-host of the program on Tuesday, September 2. Burmeister, who played quarterback, served as a captain, and won the team MVP award at Iowa in 1993, became one of the original hires at NFL Network in 2003. During his time with NFLN, Burmeister hosted a variety of shows there, including Total Access and Path to the Draft.
Joining the lineup of analysts will be former NFL defensive end and Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor, former NFL head coach and long-time assistant coach Kevin Gilbride, former NFL running back Brian Westbrook, and former NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes. They’ll be part of a rotation that includes former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker and former NFL fullback Jon Ritchie.
“I certainly feel I can give a valid critique of what took place in a game, explain why and what the thinking was with players and coaches, or why that mistake occurred,” Gilbride told Richard Deitsch of SI.com. “I will have no difficulty in judging whether something was a good or bad decision and maybe even offer some alternatives on other ideas. People just see the behavior, the action. But what has always been fascinating to me is what are the causes that led to that behavior.”
This season, PFT on NBCSN also will feature regular contributions from other NBC Sports Group analysts, including Tony Dungy and Hines Ward of Football Night in America, Cris Collinsworth of Sunday Night Football, and Doug Flutie of NBC’s Notre Dame football coverage.
Deepening the roster and breadth of expertise will be Mike Ryan, a 26-year NFL athletic trainer who will help explain injuries, rehab, and related issues.
But you don’t have to wait until September 2 to watch the show. It’s still on every weekday, through and beyond September.
And hopefully you’ll continue to be stuck with me.
The 49ers don’t know when or if defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey will play in 2014. But they do know that they have him under contract through 2016.
The team has announced a two-year extension with Dorsey.
“Glenn is a true pro who has quickly become a valued contributor to our organization both on and off the field,” General Manager Trent Baalke said in a team-issued release. “He is a quick study and a very good football player that has earned this extension, and we look forward to his future contributions.”
Dorsey may not do much more to earn his 2014 salary, due to a torn biceps suffered in training camp. Per a league source, the team still is deciding whether to put Dorsey on season-ending injured reserve, to put him on injured reserve with the designation to return, or to carry him on the 53-man roster until he’s ready to play.
Dorsey entered the league in 2008 as the fifth overall pick in the draft. He signed in 2013 with the 49ers, appearing in all 19 regular-season and postseason games, with 15 total starts as the replacement to nose tackle Ian Williams, who suffered a broken leg in Week Two.
On Sunday, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy missed practice with what he called a “small version of turf toe.” On Tuesday, coach Chip Kelly rolled out a small version of passive aggression when talking about McCoy’s overall practice habits.
“It’s OK,” Kelly said regarding the question of whether McCoy’s return to practice on Monday reveals a strong work ethic, via Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. “Some days he’s great out there. Other days, he’s not so great.”
McCoy, who recently said that Kelly pushes the star tailback like no other coach ever has, didn’t take questions about Kelly’s remark. (And all that that implies, possibly.)
Kelly otherwise downplayed the toe injury, said that McCoy is “fine,” that it’s “not as big of an issue as I think anybody has made it out to be, and that the issue has become “way overblown.”
Still, McCoy used the phrase “small version of turf toe,” and former NFL athletic trainer Mike Ryan joined Tuesday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN to explain what that means and how it can affect a running back. Plus he brought props.
The rookie season of Jets fourth-round draft pick Shaq Evans is over before it began.
Evans, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury, has been placed on injured reserve.
Reports today that Evans was waived/injured proved to be incorrect, as the Jets decided to put Evans directly on injured reserve. If the Jets had waived/injured Evans, he could have been claimed by any other team. It’s rare for players who are waived/injured to be claimed, but it’s possible that Evans would have been: He showed a lot of promise in college at UCLA, and if some other team that had a high draft grade on Evans wants him, he would have been there for the taking.
That the Jets put him on injured reserve, rather than exposing him to waivers, suggests that they believe he can still be a contributor. But that won’t be until 2015 at the earliest. His 2014 season is over.
The list of players from the 2011 draft that have outperformed Texans defensive end J.J. Watt over the last three years is somewhere between minuscule and non-existent depending on your point of view.
Watt has had to sit and watch as players like Patrick Peterson, Andy Dalton and Richard Sherman have signed long-term deals with their teams, however. Watt says it’s great to see them sign these deals “because it shows that their teams appreciate what work they put in” and said that he wouldn’t mind seeing the same appreciation from the Texans.
“I like to see those guys be shown appreciation so far,” Watt said, via Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. “I hope that I’ve worked hard enough and hopefully I’ve put myself in a situation where I can be shown some of the same appreciation. Hopefully they feel I’ve outplayed my current contract, but the end of the day, we’re paid to play football. If I got paid a little more, I wouldn’t be terribly upset.”
Watt, who is under contract through next season after the Texans exercised their 2015 option on his rookie deal which will pay him the average of the 3rd-25th highest paid defensive ends, made it clear that he’s not thinking about a holdout and said he tries to live by the theory of giving $3 of work for $2 of pay. Still, Watt’s outperformed his current deal and has every reason to want another.
Texans owner Bob McNair said recently that the team would do an extension for Watt if it makes sense, but also pointed out that they could franchise him twice after the 2015 season to assure he remains in town. Such a decision might change Watt’s tune, although there’s plenty of time before push would come to shove on that front.
Because he’s a Steeler again.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Keisel has agreed to return to the Steelers for a 13th season.
The move is a win-win, as Keisel lends some stability to a defensive line that lost some parts this offseason, and the timing kept him from having to go to training camp.
Any veteran will welcome that, and now the Steelers are welcoming Keisel home, and it only took using the Cardinals for a little leverage to get it done.