Mike Florio talks with Broncos CB Chris Harris about his 98-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Ravens, how the Broncos honored those lives taken in Newtown, Conn., and his thoughts about coming into the league as an undrafted player.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Chris Harris on his 98-yard pick six
With Chargers owner Dean Spanos definitely having the nine votes needed to keep Rams owner Stan Kroenke out of L.A. and Kroenke likely having the nine votes needed to keep Spanos out of L.A., the future of the NFL in Los Angeles could hinge on the ability of Spanos and Kroenke to work something out.
Via Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego from the quarterly league meetings in New York, some owners believe a deal can be struck between Kroenke and Spanos regarding which team(s) will move to L.A.
Some owners actively oppose Kroenke’s desire to move the Rams, believing that Spanos has tried long enough to get a new stadium in San Diego, and that St. Louis is on the verge of crafting a viable stadium proposal to keep the Rams. But if at least nine owners feel strongly enough about Kroenke getting the L.A. market to vote against the Chargers, the situation will remain at impasse, with both teams in limbo.
A brokered deal would hinge, as many such arrangements do, on money and/or other considerations. With each owner able to block the other from moving, one owner needs to persuade the other owner to drop his opposition. In addition, then, to the relocation fee that would be paid to the league generally, the owner who moves to L.A. may have to make a large, separate payment to the one who doesn’t.
Likewise, the arrangement could include other terms. For example, if Spanos accepts that the Chargers will stay in San Diego and the Rams will move to L.A., the league could agree that only one team would be in L.A. Likewise, the league could agree to devote extra resources to the construction of a stadium in St. Louis to persuade Kroenke to stay there.
It’s becoming more and more clear that something will happen, sooner than later. While a one-year delay is possible (and some think Kroenke is pushing that angle because he believes it raises his chances of prevailing), Acee reports that Steelers owner Art Rooney II said Tuesday, “I think we have a chance of getting something voted on by January.”
Lost in the shuffle are the Raiders. Officially partnered with the Chargers for a proposed stadium project in Carson, the Raiders have become an afterthought in the Rams-Chargers impasse. Some assume that, if Kroenke prevails, it means the Raiders and Chargers will move to L.A. and share a venue. Others believe that the Chargers could be the only team in the Carson facility.
There’s also a chance that the Rams and Chargers will agree to resolve their differences with by sharing a stadium at Kroenke’s Hollywood Park location. That would leave the Raiders in Oakland, or elsewhere.
Whatever happens, Raiders owner Mark Davis (pictured, with Spanos) seems satisfied — or at least oblivious.
“I’m a happy camper,” Davis said, via Acee. “Everything is going to work out.”
Yes, it will. And there’s a good chance that, however it works out, Davis will be left out of Los Angeles.
Anyone who saw the highlight knew this was coming.
Rams receiver Stedman Bailey caught a touchdown pass during Sunday’s win over the Cardinals, and he promptly hit the ground and pretended to be asleep, using the football as a pillow. Inevitably, Bailey has been fined.
Whether he meant any harm doesn’t matter. Going to the ground (except in prayer) or using the football as a prop triggers a violation. In this case, Bailey did both.
Bailey should be happy that his conduct triggered only a fine. A flag should have been thrown, and the Rams should have been kicking off from their own 20 instead of from the 35. Which could have had a significant impact in what was at the time a 17-9 Rams lead.
But Bailey already knows that. Because he already has heard about it from his head coach.
“We’ll address it,” Jeff Fisher told reporters on Monday. “Probably should’ve been penalized, which would’ve hurt us. I say we will address it, but I’ve already addressed it. . . . He used the ball as a prop. It’s a foul. It’s a 15-yard penalty and you’re kicking off from the  yard line and that’s not part of what we do.”
It’s what Bailey did, but it didn’t hurt the Rams this time. Despite the somewhat defiant tweet, it’s safe to say Bailey won’t be doing it again.
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson aggravated the sprained MCL in his right knee during last Sunday’s loss to the Redskins, but he plans to play this weekend vs. the Saints.
“We’re 1-3,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday. “We ain’t got nobody else.”
The Eagles are struggling to get the run game going, and Johnson isn’t the only offensive lineman dealing with injury issues. Matt Tobin replaced the injured Andrew Gardner at right guard but had to move to left tackle when Jason Peters was injured last Sunday. Gardner is out for the season, and the rest will be sorted out as the week progresses.
Johnson initially injured his knee in the preseason and is also playing on a sore ankle but said he can’t afford to rest until the team’s bye week with the Eagles looking to salvage their season.
“They’ve got pain killers for that,” he said of his pain tolerance.
Johnson has been a good player and a good quote — and he’s right when he says the Eagles need him.
Todd Gurley had his breakout game. Now, the Rams rookie back is looking to take the next step towards a full comeback from ACL surgery last November that ended his college career and delayed his NFL debut.
Two days after Gurley rushed for 146 yards in his second NFL game, Gurley practiced without the brace he’s been wearing on his left knee.
He told reporters he wants to test it this week in practice. The Rams held Gurley out of the preseason and the season’s first two games to bring the No. 10 pick in last year’s draft along cautiously; Gurley had surgery on his left knee last Nov. 25.
Last Sunday, he not only “exploded” but played the part of closer, running for more than 100 yards in the fourth quarter as the Rams finished an upset of the Cardinals. That there are still steps he needs to take is a scary thought for the rest of the NFC West.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Patriots coach Bill Belichick is that he just grumbles one-word answers at his press conference. In reality, Belichick is one of the most articulate and insightful NFL coaches — at least when he’s asked about a topic he wants to discuss.
Today’s media session in New England was a good example of that. Belichick was asked about the missed call at the end of Monday night’s Lions’ Seahawks game, and although some might assume Belichick would answer with something along the lines of, “I’m focused on our own game on Sunday,” Belichick actually answered with a detailed, thoughtful response that lasted more than eight minutes.
“I think it’s a really good question, but it would entail probably a pretty lengthy answer,” Belichick began. “There are so many different levels that that question encompasses. Let’s start with rookies coming into the league. The first thing we do is teach them the rules in the National Football League and in particular make them aware of the changes between the college rules and the pro rules, which there are a significant number. And we don’t really assume because we have no way of knowing how educated or uneducated they are on the rules, if they even are the same between the two – between college and professional football. So, it starts there.”
Belichick then detailed how his players and his coaches learn the intricacies of the rules through offseason meetings with officials, question-and-answer sessions with representatives from the league office, and sessions with each position coach explaining the intricacies of the rules relevant to the players at each position.
“Obviously, the offensive guard doesn’t have to know everything about pass interference and vice versa, but it’s important for them to know the things in their position and how the game is being officiated. And then those things are also pointed out in various other team or individual settings as they become pertinent over the course of the year, whether it be a particular play or particular opponent or that type of thing. And then I talk to the team on a regular basis on situational plays, which involve officiating, timing, utilization of timeouts and so forth and so on, so that’s probably on a regular basis from training camp all the way through the end of the season – call it once a week or something like that – somewhere in that vicinity. Sometimes it’s more than that, but always trying to keep our team aware of situations, and a lot of times we change the situation a little bit just to extend the conversation about a play. So this is what happened, but if something else or if they hadn’t had timeouts or if the ball was here, or the ball was there, just try to understand and comprehend totally what we’re doing from a team standpoint or an individual situation. The whole sideline, ball security, whistle, all those kind of ball possession plays, those are very important for everybody to understand and we stress those a lot. Any time the ball is loose, like it was in last night’s game, try to make sure everybody understands what they can do, what they can’t do. And of course once you get into the kicking game, you can multiply everything that happens on offense and defense exponentially because you not only have the possession plays, but then you have all the plays that happen when the ball is kicked, and those rules sometimes are, well they are different than plays of possession like a runner or a receiver or a returner who’s carrying the ball. There is the whole handling of the ball and the kick and did it cross the line of scrimmage and so forth and so on. It’s a lot for the officials to understand, it’s a lot for the coaches to understand, and it’s a lot for the players to understand. But in the end we try to look at the rule book as a useful tool, something that can benefit us if we know what we have to work with, how to make the best of a situation based on the way the rules are written and try to maximize our opportunities there. But that being said, there is still a lot happening in a short amount of time. It’s challenging for all of us – players, coaches and officials. I don’t know if that really answers your question. We could probably talk about that one for weeks.”
Belichick certainly could.
Wilson has now been sacked 18 times through four games, putting him on pace for 72 — and putting both guys in position to challenge the all-time record of 76.
The bigger concern is a matter of basic physics. The more a quarterback is hit, the more likely he’s eventually going to be hurt. For Wilson, who does a great job of avoiding contact and properly absorbing it when running, getting banged around by guys he doesn’t see coming behind the line of scrimmage eventually could do harm that no amount of nanobubbles will quickly heal.
So if the offensive line isn’t going to do a better job of blocking, Wilson needs to get rid of the ball faster and/or to get out of the pocket quicker. Or he may not be on the field long enough to be sacked 76 times.
One of the odd aspects of the Seahawks winning Monday night’s game on a bad call is that ESPN made no mention of it on the air during the game. ESPN’s Monday Night Football producer says it was simply a matter of the ESPN crew not realizing it was a penalty in all the action surrounding the game-changing play.
Producer Jay Rothman said in a statement to PFT that they would have offered up extended replay angles and commentary if they had realized the Seahawks committed a penalty, but they didn’t realize it until after the game.
“Our immediate responsibility in the frenzy of the play was to provide definitive looks of the turnover,” Rothman said. “Due to the immediate and decisive call of a touchback by the Back Judge and Referee Tony Corrente, and no disputing of the call by the Lions, we had no signs of the illegal tip. We all missed it live. Clearly, had we caught it, we would have extended the looks of all angles. And had we done so, the booth would have clearly seen the illegal tip. Having said all of that, it would not have determined the outcome of the game, as currently an illegal tip is not reviewable.”
It’s a little surprising that Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and any producers in their ears didn’t catch the bad call because Tirico and Gruden are good at what they do, and ESPN’s Monday Night Football production is usually first-rate. You’d think one of them would have noticed the illegal bat. But people miss things. It happens.
What’s harder to understand is how Gerry Austin, the former NFL referee who sits in the booth with Tirico and Gruden, didn’t notice it. Austin’s entire job is to analyze officiating. This was one of the biggest calls of the NFL season, and Austin whiffed. Perhaps Austin is hesitant to point out blown calls because he knows how hard the job of being an NFL official is. But if that’s the case, he’s not cut out for the job he has. And make no mistake, the job he has is a hard one. Although Mike Pereira does a good job of explaining NFL rules in his role as an analyst on FOX, Mike Carey struggles in a similar role on CBS, and Austin has struggled in his smaller on-air role on ESPN.
Another issue is that the NFL’s rules are incredibly complicated. Players, coaches, fans and the media often have a hard time understanding the rules. Monday night’s game showed that sometimes even the officials miss calls right in front of their faces. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a professional rules analyst misses some calls, too.
The Eagles and Dolphins have stunk on offense this season. Is one of them likely to turn it around?
It’s not a rhetorical question. It’s today’s poll question for NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk.
Tune in at 6:00 p.m. ET to see the results, and also to hear more about the bizarre outcome of Monday night’s game between the Lions and the Seahawks.
Rodney Harrison, Paul Burmeister, and yours truly will get you up to date on all big issues in the NFL.
For a team that rarely has reason to look forward to tomorrow, there’s currently a ban on thinking about yesterday.
In Washington, where the franchise surprisingly is 2-2, some players insist that the 2015 version of the team never be compared to last year’s model.
“If I hear anybody say ‘This is what happened last year,’ I go crazy,” defensive lineman Terrance Knighton said after Sunday’s win over the Eagles, via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. “I’ve heard people say, ‘Damn, just like last year.’ I’m like, no. No! Guys like myself, guys like [Jason Hatcher], guys like Trent Williams, guys like Dashon Goldson, we don’t let people talk about the past in this locker room. I better not hear it.”
“[T]his is a new team,” Williams said. “Sometimes lessons can be learned a year later, but the majority of the time, there’s really no point in talking about it. The focus should be on what’s ahead of us.”
Williams, sort of peeking into his rear-view mirror, admitted that in prior years Washington would have withered after the Eagles erased a 13-0 deficit in the second half.
“I think the easy thing would have been to say, ‘You know what? They came back on us,'” Williams said. “We could have let that type of aura creep through the whole team, and we could have laid it down. But like I said, this is a different team from last year.”
One of the biggest differences is that, through four weeks, the team is tied for first place. Sure, they’re still not above .500. But looking at the record would be only to indulge the recent past. The focus should be on the fact that 12 games remain, and that Washington has every right to think it can win the division.
Which I never would have typed last year.
The Saints are bringing in a new punter while Thomas Morstead recovers from a leg injury and that’s reportedly going to cost safety Kenny Phillips his spot on the roster.
With Brandon Fields coming onboard, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports that the team will release Phillips for the second time this season. Phillips was released before the first game of the season and returned in Week Two after Rafael Bush was lost for the season.
Phillips started the last three games for New Orleans and had 12 tackles in those games, but the return of Jairus Byrd to the lineup for last Sunday’s game against the Cowboys likely made the Saints feel comfortable about moving forward without the veteran.
Those three games were the first for Phillips in the regular season since 2012 with the Giants as knee issues kept Phillips off the field for the last two seasons.
The Vikings and 49ers opened up the season against each other and they got back in touch on Tuesday to make a trade.
Hodges started three of the first four games for Minnesota this season, making 20 tackles, and played in 25 other games since being selected in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Spielman said, via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com, that the team likes what they’ve seen from 2015 second-round pick Eric Kendricks and decided to use their depth at linebacker to shore up another spot.
Minnesota’s starting center John Sullivan is on injured reserve with the designation to return, leaving Joe Berger to start the first four games of the season. Easton, who was acquired in a trade with the Ravens in early September, gives them another option at that spot.
Coach Chuck Pagano said that Luck, who is dealing with a right shoulder injury, was a limited participant in practice and that he threw passes while taking most of the first team reps during the session. Matt Hasselbeck, who started in place of Luck against the Jaguars last weekend, didn’t practice because of an illness.
Pagano offered little insight into Luck’s chances of playing by repeating his standard refrain that the quarterback is trending in the right direction. Luck also met the media and said that he’s operating under the assumption that he’ll be in the lineup against Houston on Thursday night.
“I’m preparing to start, and to play,” Luck said, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “I think I’ve gotten better every day. I don’t think I’m necessarily where I’d want to be today in a perfect, perfect world.”
Wednesday will bring another practice and the release of the team’s final injury report before facing the Texans.
The Buccaneers made a series of roster moves Tuesday in addition to bringing back kicker Connor Barth.
The team also placed defensive end T.J. Fatinikun on injured-reserve and promoted wide receiver Donteea Dye and defensive end Howard Jones to the active roster from the practice squad.
The promotion marks a big step for Dye, an undrafted rookie who played collegiately at Div. III Heidelberg. Jones was the NFL’s highest-paid practice squad player, so it’s fair to assume the Bucs had Jones in the plans, sooner or later. Jones spent all of 2014 on the Steelers’ practice squad.
Fatinikun sustained a knee injury in the second half of last Sunday’s game against Carolina.
The Bucs also signed offensive tackle Reid Fragel and defensive end Josh Shirley to the practice squad and released tackle Martin Wallace from the practice squad.
The Rams are holding off on making any injured reserve moves with linebacker Alec Ogletree until after he has surgery on his broken fibula, but they know that they’re going to need some help at the position in the coming weeks.
They brought back a familiar face to provide some of it on Tuesday. The team announced that they have signed veteran linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. There was no need for a corresponding move since the Rams had an open roster spot after trading wide receiver Chris Givens to Baltimore.
Dunbar spent the last three seasons with the Rams before being released before the start of this season. Dunbar started 36 games over those three years and recorded 190 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
The Saints tried out four punters and have decided on former Dolphins punter Brandon Fields as their temporary replacement.
Kicker Zach Hocker served as the emergency punter in last Sunday’s win over the Cowboys after Morstead’s injury. Marvez also reported the Saints will take a look at other kickers this week after Hocker missed a 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys.
Fields, 31, was replaced by the Dolphins in training camp after seven seasons with the team. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013.
Joe Philbin’s last practice as head coach of the Miami Dolphins demonstrated how thoroughly he had lost control of his team.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Saturday practice in London before Sunday’s loss to the Jets featured heated exchanges among quarterback Ryan Tannehill and defensive players who weren’t following Philbin’s instructions.
The report says Philbin told the defensive players to take it easy during Saturday practice so that the offense could work on getting its timing down. However, linebacker Chris McCain was still practicing aggressively, and that led to a shouting match between he and Tannehill. According to the report, Tannehill made a crack about giving McCain a scout team trophy. Other scout team defensive players then joined in and were aggressively going after the first-string offense, despite Philbin’s request that they ease up.
If it went down how it’s been described, it doesn’t speak well for Philbin’s ability to keep practices under control. If the head coach has told the scout team to settle down and let the offense work, the scout team should respect the head coach enough to do so. The head coach should also foster an atmosphere where there’s enough team camaraderie that the starting quarterback isn’t making cracks about the scout team guys.
After Philbin was fired on Monday, interim head coach Dan Campbell stressed at his introductory press conference that he wanted to see more competitiveness on his team. Although Campbell was careful not to criticize Philbin, it wouldn’t be surprising if Campbell saw Saturday’s incident as a sign of a team full of players who weren’t accustomed to pushing each other hard enough at practice. With Campbell now running the show, starters and scout teamers alike should be ready for tougher practices.
There was a suggestion during Sunday’s Vikings-Broncos game that Denver quarterback Peyton Manning doesn’t care about numbers. The new book from Gary Myers regarding the Peyton Manning/Tom Brady rivalry suggests otherwise.
Chapter 1 begins with a story about the 2007 regular-season finale between the Giants and Brady’s undefeated Patriots. Peyton Manning called his brother, Eli, with a request.
The request wasn’t to keep the Patriots from becoming the first team to go 19-0 (although the Giants would get that job done later). It was to keep Brady from breaking Peyton’s single-season touchdown pass record.
“Anytime players say statistics are just numbers and they don’t pay attention, they’re not telling the truth,” Myers writes. “Manning might have been funny as guest host on Saturday Night Live and a tremendous pitchman in all through television commercials, but he has an ego, a big ego. Manning wanted that touchdown record to be enduring, just as Dan Marino did when he threw forty-eight back in 1984, shattering the old record of thirty-six set by Y.A. Tittle, which had stood since 1963. At least Marino’s record lasted twenty years. Manning’s was on the verge of being wiped out after just three.”
So Eli passed the message along to linebacker Antonio Pierce, with Pierce requesting dinner for the defense at Del Frisco’s in Manhattan if they kept Brady’s 48 from surpassing Peyton’s 49.
Ultimately, the Giants failed to keep Brady from getting to 50. Six years later, Peyton would get his record back, with 55.
If/when someone is ever closing in on breaking Peyton’s record of 55 touchdown passes, look for Peyton to find a way to plead with the opposing defense to keep it from happening. Because he cares about numbers. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Cornerback Byron Maxwell was forced out early in Sunday’s loss because of a quad injury and he provided an update on his condition on Tuesday.
Maxwell said that he has a quad contusion that is feeling better as more time passes since the injury, leaving him to believe that he’ll be able to play when his 1-3 team takes on the 1-3 Saints in Week Five. That confidence is undermined a bit by Maxwell’s description of his condition at the moment
“It feels a little better,” Maxwell said, via NJ.com. “But I still can’t really run, and slowing down is hard.”
Maxwell’s first year with Philly after signing a six-year contract as a free agent hasn’t gotten off to a good start for him individually or for the team, something that he’ll try to change against Drew Brees if he gets the green light to play.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is scheduled to meet with the media on Tuesday afternoon and we’ll have to wait until he does for some word on what he did during Tuesday’s practice.
Neither Luck nor Matt Hasselbeck was on the field for the portion of practice open to the media. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reports that they were likely warming up inside the team’s facility while their teammates stretched and went through special teams drills.
Luck was listed as a limited participant in Monday’s practice because of the right shoulder injury that kept him out of Week Four and Hasselbeck said after the session that he does not expect to make another start this weekend.
Cornerback Vontae Davis was sitting out of practice for a second straight day because of a foot injury. His absence would leave the Colts without their top cornerback and likely create some opportunities for Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on Thursday night. Defensive tackle Henry Anderson, linebacker Bjoern Werner and cornerback Jalil Brown were also on the sideline during Tuesday’s session.
Coach Pete Carroll said that it was “unfortunate” that the officials didn’t apply the rule correctly after the game and on Tuesday admitted that he would have been taken aback if they had thrown a flag and returned the ball to the Lions. Carroll said that his staff tells players to knock loose balls out of bounds, but wasn’t aware that it’s against the rules to do that in the end zone.
“I would have done the exact same thing. I would have done the exact same thing,” Carroll said on 710 ESPN. “I didn’t know that rule either. I’ve never even seen it come up and I’ve been coaching for — I don’t even know how many years it is and how many games it could possibly be — I don’t know how anybody would have know that one. If they did, they did.”
Carroll probably should have known about the rule since the Seahawks were guilty of breaking another section of it in a 2013 game against the 49ers. In addition to barring players from batting the ball out of the end zone, the rule also makes it a penalty to bat a loose ball toward the opposing end zone as Seahawks safety Chris Maragos did with a blocked punt in that game.
Monday night’s play came in a bigger spot so there shouldn’t be too many people around the league unaware of the rule thanks to the attention generated by the non-call.