Mike Florio chats with Tom Curran of CSN New England to discuss the Patriots as they hit the homestretch of their season. Florio asks if Vince Wilfork is the favorite for DPOY, if Matt Schaub can be placed in the same category as Tom Brady, and the injury status of TE Rob Gronkowski.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Can the Pats run the table?
Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews has been out for almost three weeks and hasn’t played in the preseason, but Matthews has vowed to return for his team’s Sept. 11 season opener for the Browns.
“I promise,” he said.
Matthews suffered a bone bruise on his knee in early August, and the Eagles had originally targeted this week as his potential return date. Now, though, Matthews is focused on being back to work in early September as the Eagles start working on the games that count.
“I don’t like to put percentages on anything, but at the same time, I’m definitely feeling good,” he said. “I’m doing a lot better. I’m running around, moving, lifting, jumping. I’m back doing pretty much all of that stuff.
“The coaches want me to be patient because if there ever was a time to be patient, this is it. We’re just being smart with it.”
Matthews led the Eagles with 85 catches for 997 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Though the Eagles added Dorial Green-Beckham via trade last week and plan to get Green-Beckham some work with the No. 1 offense this week, the Eagles have a young and unsettled receiving corps that’s even younger with Matthews out.
Matthews will again be a key part of the passing game as soon as he’s back to full speed.
“Two or three years ago, I probably would’ve been upset about how [the injury] happened,” Matthews said. “But now, it’s [like], these things happen. It’s part of the game. I’ve been around enough veterans. I’ve seen them handle injury well. Go attack rehab and come back even better.”
The Colts have a new offense to go with a franchise quarterback and a glut of talented receivers. The team’s new offense, designed and run by offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, may be incorporating a heavy dose of one of the primary Madden game crutch plays: Crossing routes.
As explained by Kevin Bowen of the team’s official website, Andrew Luck’s eight-for-eight passing performance in Week Two of the preseason was fueled by taking advantage of speedy receivers running horizontal routes across the formation.
“You’re going to want to get the ball in your best players’ hands with a little space,” Luck said.
“It’s an easy throw for Andrew and we can create the yards for him,” Dorsett said. “I think we should definitely have that more and more in our offense because we got guys that can [make plays]. If we catch a crossing route in man coverage and break a tackle, there’s nothing but room.”
If it works, defenses will adjust, trying to take away the crossing routes. But that will serve only to open up the other avenues of attack, eventually allowing Hilton, Moncrief, and Dorsett to run deep.
Washington and New England have announced that Stork, a fourth-round pick in 2014, has been traded from the Patriots. The move came hours after news emerged that Stork would be cut, which apparently sparked trade interest from Washington.
Why trade for a player who was going to be released? With fewer than four seasons in the NFL, Stork would have passed through waivers — and Washington is low on the pecking order due to making it to the playoffs in 2015.
If Stork retires, he’ll owe Washington half of the $477,000 signing bonus he received in 2014. That’s a potential obligation of $238,500, along with $600,000 in lost salary for 2016.
So if he retires, Stork will be out $838,500.
He’s back on speaking terms with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, too, but maybe no better than that.
Asked by reporters Wednesday about what Baalke had deemed “a good conversation” between the two last week, Kaepernick offered a bit of a clarification.
“We had a conversation,” Kaepernick said.
Pressed further on the matter, Kaepernick said, “We have a business relationship. That’s the point that we’re at.”
And Kaepernick wasn’t going to be pressed any further than that. He again said he’s done discussing how the team handled his injuries last season and his request for a trade last spring.
“Once again, I’m not getting into all of the specifics, anything like that,” he said. “We’re focusing on football and my focus right now is this game Friday.”
Earlier Wednesday, 49ers coach Chip Kelly said he’s glad to have Kaepernick back working in practice this week but has not yet named a starter for this week’s preseason game.
“Negotiations have broken down,” Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith said in August 2004. “Prior to the training camp report date, we made an effort to get Philip signed. Also, during the past week, we exchanged ideas and could not come to an agreement. On Friday, we offered a great deal to Philip. We also notified both Philip and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, that the offer will stand until 5 p.m. Sunday evening and if not accepted, the final offer will be pulled off the table. . . . We also informed them that the package we talked about and offered will now only go down in value.”
The Rivers holdout had some of the same perspective-based disagreements that allowed the team to cling to a set of principles premised on paying less, and that allowed the player to cling to a set of principles premised on getting more, with the team locked into the spot at which Rivers was picked and the Rivers camp applying a quarterback premium.
“The offer we made to Philip is not a slot offer at No. 4, but in fact, an offer that exceeds [those of] No. 2 Robert Gallery and No. 3 Larry Fitzgerald,” Smith said. “We believe it’s a great offer. Jimmy Sexton has been informed several times that the Eli Manning-Tom Condon deal with the New York Giants was of no concern to us before, no concern now nor will it be in the future. This is very unfortunate and disappointing but it is what it is.”
The Rivers deal eventually got worked out, and presumably the Bosa deal will, too. Otherwise, he’ll re-enter the draft in 2017 and the Chargers will get nothing for him.
It’s hardly the first holdout in San Diego, but with a stadium vote looming and all hands needed on deck in order to win as many games as possible before November 8, it could be the last holdout in San Diego. But not the last holdout for the Chargers.
The Eagles didn’t wait long to put wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham into game action, throwing him into the lineup for last week’s game against the Steelers two days after he was acquired in a trade with the Titans.
Green-Beckham will be in the lineup again for this week’s game against the Colts and he’ll be getting a chance to see how he fits with the team’s projected starters. Coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday that the Eagles will “put a little package together” for the wideout while the first team is in the game.
“We put a couple plays in for him this week, expanded his role from a week ago,” Pederson said in comments distributed by the team. “Full week of practice. He’s comfortable with what we’re doing with him. Can’t tell you how many [or] the number of snaps he’ll get, but he’ll definitely play and play with the first group.”
Green-Beckham’s acquisition and quick move into the lineup may not be an indictment of the receivers that have seen time since Jordan Matthews suffered a knee injury, but they aren’t votes of overwhelming support either. Should Green-Beckham do well in the limited package Pederson’s proposing this week, an expanded role in future weeks will likely be coming at the expense of someone who thought his spot on the roster was more secure than it turned out to be.
The NFL playoffs have significant turnover every year, with four, five, or six teams that made it the prior season not getting back. On Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, we’ll attempt to pick four 2015 playoff teams who won’t be back in 2016.
You can pick, too. The 12 teams appear in the poll below. Pick four of them who won’t be back, and we’ll share the results on tomorrow’s show.
PFT Live gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the simulcast on NBCSN starting at 7:00 a.m. ET. Guests include Bengals cornerback Adam Jones and Hall of Fame coach and NBC analyst Tony Dungy.
Suspended Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon received a one-year suspended sentence and probation Wednesday at a sentencing hearing and will avoid jail time as long as he complies with conditions set by an Oklahoma judge.
Blackmon had pleaded guilty in April to a DUI charge.
The Dec. 2015 incident marked Blackmon’s second DUI arrest since being drafted in the first round by the Jaguars in 2012 and his third in all. He remains indefinitely suspended by the NFL after his appeal for reinstatement was denied last year.
Through his attorney, Blackmon declined an interview request while leaving the courtroom Wednesday.
In a less combative release than the one they sent out regarding their contract negotiations with Bosa, the Chargers announced that Square has been suspended four games by the league for a substance-abuse policy violation. The team expressed it’s disappointment and Square apologized in a statement of his own.
“I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire Chargers organization as well as the fans,” Square said. “I made a mistake and take full responsibility. I look forward to returning in Week 5 and doing whatever I can do to help the team.”
Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Square was suspended after missing a drug test.
Square joined the Chargers as a waiver claim in 2014 and had six tackles in six games for them last season. In addition to Square, the Chargers will also be without Sean Lissemore on their defensive line in the early part of the year after placing him on injured reserve earlier this month.
OK, if anyone is near Bryan Stork, send us a picture of him, so we’ll know for sure where he is and what’s going on.
According to former Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who still works for Dan Snyder’s radio station, Stork is retiring.
Mike Jones of the Washington Post, who does not work for Snyder, said his source told him that was “possibly” true.
Stork is a good player and would clearly be of benefit to a team if he wanted to play. But he also has a track record of concussions, and that could be a factor here as well.
But at this point, he could abandon snapping for a living and try out to play Major League Baseball and we wouldn’t be surprised.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison has agreed to talk to NFL investigators tomorrow about an Al Jazeera documentary alleging he used performance-enhancing drugs, and he expects the same result as the first player who cooperated with the league’s investigation.
“They are going to clear my name and give me the same sendoff they gave Peyton Manning,” Harrison said, via ESPN. “I’m going to be cleared. They are going to give me the same thing, flash, across the bulletin board, NFL, Instagram, Twitter, all that — ‘James Harrison cleared.'”
The Al Jazeera report accused Manning, Harrison, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and free agent Mike Neal of using PEDs. Manning cooperated with the league’s investigation and was cleared. Harrison, Matthews, Peppers and Neal initially refused to cooperate but agreed to speak to investigators when they were told they’d be suspended if they didn’t.
Despite agreeing to cooperate, Harrison referred to the NFL’s interview as a “waste of time.”
“It’s a stupid thing I gotta do to continue doing what it is I want to do and trying to get to where we want to be, and that’s holding a Lombardi [Trophy],” Harrison said.
After being cleared like Manning, Harrison hopes to do at the end of this season what Manning did at the end of last season.
Cardinals wide receiver John Brown went into the league’s concussion protocol early in training camp and wound up missing three weeks of work before getting cleared to return to practice last weekend.
Brown’s return to action has hit a snag, however. Coach Bruce Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, that Brown has a headache and won’t practice on Wednesday.
The Cardinals were off on Tuesday and Brown took part in Monday’s practice while wearing a non-contact jersey to let his teammates know not to hit him during the workout.
Per Somers, the Cardinals “seem confident” Brown will be ready to go for the start of the regular season but concussions don’t always follow a straight line and a return to the concussion protocol could make that an iffy proposition given how long the symptoms have lingered this month.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is also out of practice on Wednesday while he continues to manage the MCL issue that kept him from playing in the team’s second preseason game.
The good news is, the Patriots kept the scissors away from Rob Gronkowski. Actually, that’s probably a good idea year-round.
According to Phil Perry of CSNNE.com, the Patriots tight end returned to the practice field today. Jon Bon Jovi was apparently there too, but the Patriots are much happier Gronkowski will be there for them.
Gronkowski has been off since pulling up in an Aug. 15 practice and walking away with trainers. No word was given as to the reason for his absence.
Considering he’s practically never involved in the preseason anyway, his absence for the last week hadn’t yet reached the point of panic.
That appears to have been premature or a well-timed leak to generate some trade interest because Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Stork has been traded to the Redskins for a conditional draft choice. There’s no word on the draft pick or the conditions.
Kory Lichtensteiger is at the top of the depth chart at center for the Redskins and has gotten the start in each of the team’s two preseason games to this point. They have Spencer Long listed as their backup center, but Long is also the starter at left guard while the team waits to see if Shawn Lauvao can be healthy enough to regain the job.
Stork, a 2014 fourth-round pick, has made 17 starts at center for the Patriots over the last two seasons.
On Tuesday, Buccaneers rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo was heckled and jeered by his team’s own fans while he kicked at a public practice. On Wednesday, there were no heckles or jeers because Aguayo didn’t kick during the open practice.
This development invites suspicion that the Buccaneers tried to hide Aguayo from those who may heckle and jeer him. According to JoeBucsFan.com, the team privately has denied any such suggestion.’
Besides, with the next two preseason games at home (including Friday night against the Browns), it’s not as if the Bucs could hide Aguayo for very long.
The second-round draft pick has missed three total kicks in two preseason games, and he struggled at times in practice on Tuesday.