Mike Florio talks about the Seahawks scoring 50-plus points in their last two games and if Russell Wilson’s impressive rookie year can end with a Super Bowl victory. Florio also discusses the NFC and AFC playoff picture and if the Patriots should start to worry.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Can Seahawks make a Super Bowl push?
It looks like the Titans will have quarterback Jake Locker back in the lineup this Sunday.
Locker missed last Sunday’s loss to the Colts with a right wrist injury, forcing Tennessee to turn to Charlie Whitehurst and Zach Mettenberger. Locker was back at practice on Wednesday, however, and got in a full session.
Locker said after practice that his wrist felt fine and that he’s ready to lead the offense against the Browns. Locker also said that he knows he needs to pick up his game after two dismal outings before the injury.
“When you are not winning and things are not going the way you’d like them to go, I’ve always believed the first place you have to look is at yourself, and it is no different in this situation,” Locker said, via the Tennessean. “Just the details, executing the details in a play can make a big difference. And making a tough throw. It is not always going to be wide open and you have to find ways to complete contested passes in this league, and we have to do a better job of that.”
The next 12 games will have a lot to do with more than just how the Titans fare in 2014. They should go a long way toward determining what kind of future Locker has as an NFL starter and more of what we’ve seen this season in terms of performance and health won’t be the ticket to a bright one.
Titans safety Bernard Pollard has a way with words. Especially when using those words to describe the way his team is playing. Especially when it’s not playing well.
“Piss poor horrible,” Pollard said Wednesday regarding the team’s first four games.
He elaborated on that point, explaining that the team has a culture of losing.
“We work, but it’s not translating over to the football field on Sunday,” Pollard said, via Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com. “We have to understand that we have to be better. It’s a must. I come from an organization where the mentality, the culture is just totally different. Yeah, you might lose some games, but it’s a different culture. That needs to be changed here . . . .
“I’m gonna try to piss some people off and I couldn’t care less about what I’m saying. We have talent. We have guys that can take the roof off and guys that can be stars in this league. It’s time for us to do that. The first quarter was piss poor horrible. We sucked butt. I say that again. We were horrible. But we have a shot at being a very good football team, and I’m gonna try and pull that out for all of us.”
At least they’re consistent. In April, Pollard said after his first season with the franchise that the Titans “sucked butt.”
The season started off with considerable promise, given that they went to Kansas City and beat the Chiefs, a playoff team from 2013, in their own building. Since then, the Titans have lost three games in a row, by 16 points, 26 points, and 24 points.
“Right now, we’re doormats to a lot of people around the league,” Pollard said.
Or, as the case may be, piss poor horrible.
The Rams have taken their time naming a starting quarterback for their last two games, but they’re returning from the bye week with a new approach.
Coach Jeff Fisher announced on Wednesday that Austin Davis will make his third straight start against the Eagles this Sunday. Fisher actually went a bit further than that and said that Davis is the team’s starter moving forward.
Even though Fisher has said in the past that Shaun Hill was the team’s starter once he’d recovered from the quad injury that knocked him out of the season opener, it’s not a surprising decision from Fisher. Davis has completed over 72 percent of his passes since taking over the job while throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions, numbers that merit more of a look to see what kind of quarterback he can be over a longer term for a team that will probably be looking for a new starter come the offseason.
That starter could be Davis, he could be a backup or he could be a placeholder for a rookie, but there’s more to learn about Davis than there is about Hill no matter how things might play out in 2015.
The Panthers’ weekly game of Wheel of Running Backs won’t include DeAngelo Williams this week.
According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Williams has a high ankle sprain, and has been ruled out of this week’s game against the Bears.
Williams is in a cast at the moment, which will be removed Friday. But the fact they’re willing to say now that he’s not playing should be a clear indication that it was never close for this week.
Jonathan Stewart did return to practice today, though it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play with a knee injury. Even fullback Richie Brockel and running back Fozzy Whittaker are still out of practice, leaving the cupboard bare.
They signed Chris Ogbonnaya as an emergency backup, to go with practice squad promotion Darrin Reaves.
The optimism that Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer expressed about his ability to play against the Broncos in Week Five appears to be evaporating by the day.
Earlier this week, coach Bruce Arians said that Wednesday would be a big day for Palmer to show that the nerve issue in his right shoulder has healed enough for him to return to the lineup after missing the last two games. It’s Wednesday, but things haven’t developed as Palmer would have hoped.
Arians said, via Darren Urban of the team’s website, that Palmer was excused from the team’s practice so he could go see a specialist about his shoulder. Arians explained that Palmer threw a lot late last week while the Cardinals were on their bye and that his condition has regressed since then.
That points to another start for Drew Stanton, who quarterbacked the team to victories over the Giants and 49ers before the team went on their bye week.
Arians added that the team doesn’t consider Palmer a candidate for season-ending injured reserve because they don’t feel that the quarterback is suffering from a long-term injury. He didn’t rule out injured reserve with the designation to return, however, and one imagines that possibility could grow based on what Palmer learns during his visit to the specialist.
He practiced a little on Wednesday. Whether he plays at all on Thursday night remains to be seen.
Officially, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is questionable for the game at Lambeau Field with a sprained ankle. It’s a game-time decision, which means we’ll all know within 90 minutes of kickoff. Unless he doesn’t travel with the team to Wisconsin or someone blabs to Jay Glazer.
In the interim, watch for whether the Vikings activate McLeod Bethel-Thompson or Chandler Harnish from the practice squad to the active roster.
The status for the other injured Vikings is far more clear. Linebacker Chad Greenway (hand) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) are out. Fullback Jerome Felton (knee), linebacker Michael Mauti (foot), running back Jerrick McKinnon (ankle), cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (illness), receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring), and linebacker Brandon Watts (knee) are probable.
On the question of Bridgewater playing, the question becomes whether the Vikings would prefer a healthy and prepared Christian Ponder to a limited and unprepared (relatively speaking) Bridgewater. It doesn’t take an orthopedic surgeon to know how Vikings fans would resolve that one; it may take an orthopedic surgeon to help the Vikings make the right call on whether the rookie should play on a short week.
The Jets defense has had cornerback Dee Milliner in the lineup for part of one game in September because of ankle and quad injuries, but it appears October will be getting off to a better start.
Coach Rex Ryan said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, at Wednesday’s press conference that Milliner will play against the Chargers this Sunday. Milliner last played in Week Two against the Packers, but left the game early after his sprained ankle tightened up in the third quarter.
There’s no word on how expansive a role Milliner might play against San Diego, but any help will be welcomed as the Jets try to slow down Philip Rivers. The Jets have rushed the passer well through the first four weeks and have posted the highest percentage of sacks per drop backs in the league, but opposing offenses have found plenty of places to go with the ball if the rush doesn’t get home.
Milliner can’t fix that all by himself, but his healthy presence should alleviate some of the problems. Safety Calvin Pryor, who left last Sunday’s game with a thigh injury, took part in practice and is also on track to play this week.
There’s been talk in Tennessee that the Titans could trade receiver Justin Hunter. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt says that talk is preposterous.
“Are you kidding me? That’s not something even in consideration,” Whisenhunt said of trading Hunter, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean.
Wyatt has written that the Titans are disappointed with Hunter’s inconsistency and want more out of him. And considering how much talent Hunter flashed in the preseason, his statistics — nine catches for 138 yards and no touchdowns — are short of expectations so far this season.
Of course, those issues point to exactly why other teams aren’t likely to give up much of anything to acquire Hunter in a trade. So the Titans will hold onto him, and hope he’ll do more in the future than he’s done since the Titans drafted him last year.
The blood and guts arrived a few days later than many expected.
Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith mostly played nice as his new team beat his old one Sunday. But he unloaded on his old bosses Wednesday, taking shots at both General Manager Dave Gettleman (who we knew he didn’t like) and coach Ron Rivera (who we didn’t suspect created that kind of animosity).
Smith called in to WFNZ’s “Bustin’ Loose” with Frank Garcia and Mark Yarbro, and fired several volleys in the direction of the team he gave 13 years to, saying neither Gettleman nor Rivera were straight with him.
“Every time I keep reading stuff and reports come out, I just think I was stabbed in the back,” Smith said. “Just like coach Rivera said he wasn’t a sore loser, but yet he never even spoke to me through the whole ordeal. Not one time. He didn’t look at me man-to-man and said this was going down. He said he’s a players’ coach but he never came in and said, ‘Hey Smitty, this is going on. Wanted to give you a heads up.’ He hid in his office.
“Then you come at the end of the game and I play decent and then you come and shake my hand and say, ‘Congratulations. I hope the family’s well. Good luck.’ But we were supposed to be boys and respected me. You would have done it from the jump. You don’t do it at the end. And then you tell the media. Why? So you can look a certain way.”
That was a little surprising, less so was his criticism of Gettleman, who got the ball rolling at the Combine by saying he was “evaluating,” Smith’s play, and then came home to tell Smith he was gone.
Smith said Wednesday that Gettleman referred to him as a “shadow” of his former self.
“He doesn’t even have the cojones to tell us to our face [about being released],” Smith said. “We have to hear it from someone else. Then he calls and says it wasn’t personal. If the first thing that comes out is ‘Well it wasn’t personal,’ then guess what? It was personal.”
Smith also made it clear he wasn’t happy with being portrayed as a distraction, pointing to the team’s willingness to hang onto defensive end Greg Hardy with a $13.1 million franchise tag. He referenced the three teammates he punched, but said that was not comparable to the current situation.
“I’ve always been a distraction?” Smith said. “But I didn’t hit my wife. Yeah I hit some teammates six or seven years ago but I didn’t beat my wife. I didn’t get arrested for DUIs. I didn’t fall off no motorcycles. …
“All I did was charity work in Charlotte. I made mistakes. But building this big ol’ crutch about it like as if I pushed their hand?”
The reasons the Panthers cut Smith have been obvious. He didn’t play well with others, specifically quarterback Cam Newton.
But his frustration on the way out the door speaks to tensions with Gettleman that indicate there was more than one personality at play in the decision that sent him to Baltimore.
The Packers kick off Week Five against the Vikings on Thursday night and they won’t have wide receiver Jarrett Boykin’s help as they try to get a leg up on their NFC North rivals.
Boykin has been ruled out for the second straight week because of a groin injury. Coach Mike McCarthy indicated that Boykin’s injury is more sever than the team originally thought and that it might keep him out through the Week Six game against the Dolphins as well.
“I don’t know if he’s going to be ready for Miami. That’s a long time away. It’s a little worse than we thought,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
Rookie Davante Adams took over the third receiver duties against Chicago and should fill the role again this week.
Linebacker Sam Barrington (hamstring) and defensive tackle Josh Boyd (knee) have both been listed as doubtful for the game while linebackers Clay Matthews, Mike Neal and Brad Jones join guard T.J. Lang as probable to play on Thursday.
That would have put him in position to return after this week’s bye for the Week Six date with the Packers, but it doesn’t look like that timetable has held up. Moreno said on Wednesday that it is looking more like Week Eight for his return to field.
“I probably got like four more weeks,” Moreno said, via the Palm Beach Post. “About four more weeks and I’ll be good.”
The absence of Moreno, who had a big game when the Dolphins knocked off the Patriots in the season opener, is a bit less painful after Lamar Miller’s strong outings in Weeks Three and Four. With the Bears and Jaguars following the Packers on the schedule, there should be running room for Miller in the coming weeks if the line can hold up its end of the bargain.
Supplanted of late by other controversies, the debate regarding the Washington name lingers. On Tuesday, Packers CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged that the debate also has migrated to the upper reaches of the NFL.
“There have been discussions at the league level,” Murphy said Tuesday at Marquette Law School, via Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We have had some discussions at owners’ meetings. Dan [Snyder] has made presentations. Quite honestly, I think with all the issues we are facing, with domestic violence and concussions, it’s probably not at the top of the list.”
He’s right, but eventually it will be.
Murphy added that he’s “very sensitive” to the subject, given Green Bay’s proximity to the Oneida Nation. Murphy pointed out that, while serving as Athletic Director at Colgate, he presided over the change of the team’s nickname from the Red Raiders to the Raiders.
The Panthers probably aren’t going to have running back DeAngelo Williams on the field against the Bears this Sunday and they definitely won’t have Mike Tolbert, but the backfield may not be totally devoid of veteran presence.
Jonathan Stewart was in full pads at Wednesday’s practice, a few days after he missed the team’s loss to the Ravens with a knee injury. That’s a good sign for his chances of keeping the Panthers from relying on Darrin Reaves, Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker, who didn’t practice Wednesday, for their ground attack as they try to avoid a third straight loss after a 2-0 start to the season.
Stewart wasn’t the only player back at practice on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s loss. Linebacker Thomas Davis’s hamstring was feeling well enough for him to suit up for the session, raising hopes that the Panthers will have one of their defensive leaders back in place against the Bears.
Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards also sat out Wednesday’s practice for Carolina.
The Bears shuffled the deck and added some speed.
The team announced they signed cornerback Teddy Williams off the Arizona practice squad, and released linebacker Terrell Manning.
Williams is a fascinating player because of his pure speed, which has caused teams to try him at wide receiver as well.
He’s played in 10 games over two seasons with the Colts and the Cardinals. He spent parts of 2010 and 2011 on the Cowboys practice squad.
Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was held to just two catches for 12 yards in Sunday’s game against the Jets, as a sprained ankle had him at far less than 100 percent. But Johnson says this week is different.
Johnson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press he’s feeling “definitely better than at this time last week.” Johnson will, from all accounts, be ready to go on Sunday against the Bills.
And when the Bills come to town, that means the return of Jim Schwartz, the Buffalo defensive coordinator who was Detroit’s head coach for the last five years. Johnson said he and Schwartz frequently discussed how Schwartz would cover Megatron if Schwartz had to devise a game plan to stop him. Schwartz told Johnson double coverage would always be Schwartz’s strategy.
On Sunday we’ll get to see if Schwartz, who coached Johnson when he set the all-time NFL record for receiving yards in a season in 2012, can come up with a plan to slow Johnson down.