A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts were two-win team. This year, they’re a wild card team with Super Bowl hopes. Mike Florio also wonders if any playoff contenders are motivated to claim a lower seed and easier road to the Super Bowl.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Indy’s road goes through Houston
The Bengals placed tight end Tyler Eifert on injured reserve with the designation to return after he suffered an elbow injury in the season opener and now they’ve lost another tight end for an even longer stretch of time.
The team placed Alex Smith on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday. Smith, who was used mainly as a blocker in Cincinnati, suffered a biceps injury in Sunday’s win over the Falcons.
Brock signed with the Bengals before their Wild Card game last season, but didn’t play in the team’s loss to the Chargers. He went to camp with the team and was cut in August. Brock also played four games with the Chiefs last season, catching three passes for 36 yards, and saw action with the Bills in 2011 as well.
But now the guys with the money are starting to chime in.
According to the Associated Press, Nike has removed all of its Peterson merchandise from their stores in the Twin Cities.
They’re still willing to sell it to you online, but removing the most visible Viking from the shelves makes some degree of a statement.
It might not have the direct economic impact of Radisson pulling its sponsorship from the team, but it’s another clear sign that there are plenty of people unhappy with the way the team has handled this behind the mask of “due process.”
A major NFL sponsor has had enough with the misbehavior of NFL players and the response of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners he works for.
Anheuser-Busch, the beer maker that spends a fortune on NFL advertising and sponsorship, has released a strongly worded statement in response to the controversies that have unfolded over the last week regarding Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald.
“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league,” the statement said.
Previous statements from the NFL’s corporate partners have generally shown confidence in the NFL’s ability to get a handle on the events that have contributed to the ugliest week in NFL history. The statement from Anheuser-Busch shows no such confidence. If the NFL can’t satisfy Anheuser-Busch, the NFL is at risk losing one of its most lucrative partners.
Which means Roger Goodell is at risk of losing his job. Make no mistake, the reason the NFL’s owners are supportive of Goodell is that the NFL’s owners have made a lot of money while Goodell has run the league. The day Goodell’s mismanagement of this issue costs the owners money is the day Goodell loses the support of the owners. Goodell has already mismanaged the Rice case. He had better figure out the right way to handle the cases of Peterson, Hardy and McDonald.
If Goodell can’t get the job done, the owners will find a commissioner who can.
Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday that defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been fitted with a cast for his left hand a couple of days after breaking it in a loss to the Rams.
There have been a lot of players who have played through similar injuries with the help of a cast, but McCoy said that the team is still weighing the best course of action to take for Thursday’s game against the Falcons.
“Obviously, it’s better if I’m out there but still a long season,” McCoy said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “It can always get worse. That’s the risk of going out there Thursday … time is very short this week, so not having a full week to recover is definitely working against me but I’m a fighter … Most of it is pain tolerance, but as much as you want to be out there, you also want to be smart.”
If McCoy was going to be better in Week Four because he skipped this week’s game, it would likely be an easy choice for the Bucs to sit him down. The injury is going to linger, however, and McCoy will be playing through it for some period of time if the Bucs want to have him in the lineup. That said, the short week provides little opportunity for him to get used to playing with a cast, in addition to the abbreviated recovery time, and that may make him an observer this week.
The Lions had Jason Hanson handle their kicking for two decades, but they’re having a harder time finding a permanent replacement now that he’s retired.
David Akers handled the gig in 2013, but the Lions opted not to re-sign him this year after he went 19-of-24 on field goals. Nate Freese won the kicking job after a camp competition with Giorgio Tavecchio, but he’s missed three field goals in the first two games of the regular season to put his job in some jeopardy.
The Lions turned up the heat on Freese Tuesday by working out a handful of veteran kickers. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the team had Garrett Hartley, Rob Bironas and Alex Henery in for a look.
Hartley was dropped by the Saints last December after making 22-of-30 field goal tries through that point in the season. Bironas was released in March as a cost-saving move by the Titans while Henery was cut by the Eagles last month in favor of Cody Parkey.
The Colts signed running back Dion Lewis last week to bolster a running back corps left thinner than they’d like by Vick Ballard’s season-ending injury, but it looks like another injury may be forcing the team to reallocate their resources.
Indianapolis announced Tuesday that they have waived Lewis and signed defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles off of the Patriots’ practice squad. Lewis did not play on Monday night.
The Colts saw defensive tackle Arthur Jones exit Monday night’s loss to the Eagles with a high ankle sprain and the addition of Quarles suggests that he’ll miss a bit of time while recovering from the injury. Quarles spent training camp with the Giants and was claimed off of waivers by the Patriots, who then signed him to their practice squad after dropping him from the 53-man roster a short time later.
When Dolphins center Mike Pouncey had hip surgery, there were reports that he could miss as much as half the season while recovering.
Pouncey always said he’d be back sooner than that and avoided the regular season PUP list that would have kept him from practicing or playing for at least six weeks. Earlier this month, the center set a goal of playing by the end of September and took a step toward meeting it on Tuesday.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Pouncey was a participant in practice for the first time since having the operation.
Pouncey took part in drills during the portion of practice open to the media, but it’s not known the extent of his participation in the rest of the practice. Whatever his level of work, Salguero reports that the team still plans to start Samson Satele in Week Three with Week Four’s trip to London to face the Raiders looking like a better bet for Pouncey’s first game action of the regular season.
The Falcons don’t have much time for aches and pains to heal up before facing the Buccaneers on Thursday and that might leave them without wide receiver Roddy White.
Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports White missed practice for the second straight day on Tuesday because of a hamstring injury. That casts serious doubt on his availability for the game against Tampa, especially when recent history is taken into account.
White missed a big chunk of time last summer with an ankle injury, but he suited up for the first five weeks of the regular season with poor returns before sitting out for three weeks after the Falcons were off in Week Six. His production increased from that point, which may help guide the Falcons’ ultimate decision for playing Thursday against taking the extended recovery before their Week Four game against the Vikings.
The Falcons did have Julio Jones at practice for the second straight day, so it doesn’t appear there’s much risk of the Falcons being without both of their starting wideouts. That should make for less of a “whole” in the lineup come Thursday night.
Last Monday, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti sent coach John Harbaugh to face the media after Ray Rice was cut in the wake of the notorious elevator video. This Monday, Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf gave G.M. Rick Spielman the short straw of facing tough, hostile questions from reporters who couldn’t reconcile the facts of the Adrian Peterson case with the convenient insistence on honoring the “due process” rights were designed to protect citizens from being incarcerated unfairly.
Bisciotti eventually spoke, in a less public context. The Wilfs likely will, too, at some point. But it’s one thing to face the music when it’s the loudest. It’s quite another to carefully engineer the condition of a one-on-one interview once the dust begins to settle.
That’s the way it’s been for the past nine days. Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t conduct a press conference; the league office hand-picked a pair of reporters for interviews, one on camera and one by phone. Bisciotti likewise didn’t sit at a table or stand at a podium and answer whatever questions the assembled press had.
Look for Zygi Wilf, Mark Wilf, or both to eventually do the same, selecting the right person in the right situation to allow them to get the message out without having to confront the open-season fray into which they thrust Spielman on Monday.
And it’ll keep happening that way, as long as we fail to demand that owners be accountable for their decisions and actions not by sending letters to fans or having a conversation with a sympathetic or grateful ear but by walking to the microphone and inviting anyone and everyone to ask whatever question they have.
The decision of Goodell, Bisciotti, and the Wilfs to hide from the media confirms that the NFL currently is under siege. Maybe if they decide to stop acting that way and to provide candid answers to all questions, the league will begin to emerge from its current hole.
Until then, the league just keeps digging.
The Jaguars need all the help they can get on offense, and now they’re short at tight end.
That will keep Lewis out for at least eight weeks, though he can begin practicing after six.
That fits the time frame coach Gus Bradley announced earlier this week for Lewis, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s loss to Washington.
The Jaguars better hope wideout Cecil Shorts gets back soon from his hamstring injury, or an already bad offense is just going to get worse.
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne has been sacked 13 times this season, by far the most of any quarterback in the NFL. And Jacksonville has rushed for just 89 yards this season, by far the fewest of any team in the league.
Those stats indicate that the offensive line isn’t getting the job done. One member of the Jaguars’ offensive line has paid for that with his job.
Bradfield was expected to be a backup this season, but he was forced into the starting lineup when Austin Pasztor suffered a broken hand. It’s not clear whether Pasztor will be able to play in Week Three, but if he can’t the Jags will go with Sam Young, who replaced Bradfield after he was benched in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
If Bradfield was the problem, the Jaguars’ offensive line should improve in Week Three. It could hardly get any worse.
Vernon Davis left Sunday night’s game on crutches, but he could be back on his feet soon.
According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, Davis avoided a serious ankle injury and could be back as soon as Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
An MRI yesterday revealed a deep bruise, but no structural damage.
Davis wasn’t able to return to the game after being rolled by Bears linebacker Jon Bostic. That left them thin, with backup tight end Vance McDonald suffering a knee injury and Derek Carrier is the only healthy tight end on the roster.
Some portions of the new drug policy will be retroactive. Some won’t.
Browns receiver Josh Gordon has pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. Under the new drug policy, a first offense will trigger a two-game suspension. Under the old drug policy, a first offense ordinaily results in no suspension and a maximum fine of $50,000.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon pleaded guilty now to ensure that he will not receive an automatic, mandatory two-game suspension for the DUI charges. (Under the old drug policy, a suspension is possible for first-offense DUI, if a player has had other issues under the substance-abuse policy.)
The guilty plea was submitted by Gordon’s lawyer; he was not required to appear personally in court. In exchange for the plea, Gordon received a 60-day suspended sentence. He also must pay a $100 fine. His driver’s license has been suspended.
Gordon is expected to be suspended a total of 10 games under the new substance-abuse policy. Previously, he had been suspended for the entire 2014 season.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken a lot of hits in his career.
But he said Tuesday he’s “still very sore” after a shot to the chest from Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw last Thursday.
Upshaw was flagged for roughing the passer on the play, after drilling Roethlisberger on a clean run.
“I’m hurting today as much as I was at any point I can think of in the last year,” Roethlisberger said on 93.7 The Fan, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com.
Roethlisberger said it was the hardest he’s been hit since Bart Scott leveled him in 2006.
“This is easily right there with a close second,” Roethlisberger said. “I lost my breath instantly and remember hitting the ground thinking, ‘Boy, that hurt a lot.’ I kind of pride myself on not taking those big hits, but I sure as heck didn’t see it coming.”
He clearly didn’t see his own play falling off this way either. He was 22-of-37 for 217 yards and an interception, and the Steelers have scored just three field goals in their last six quarters.
It won’t get any easier for him Sunday night, against a Panthers defense which is top-five in both yards and points allowed.
The governor of Minnesota is calling on the Vikings to change course and suspend Adrian Peterson for abusing his son.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says Peterson — who admits that he whipped his son and caused cuts and bruises — should not be playing until he has gone through the legal process.
“It is an awful situation,” Dayton said in a statement. “Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.”
Dayton said he remains a Vikings fan, even as he feels disappointment toward the team.
“I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans,” Dayton said.
Given the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the Ray Rice case, it’s almost impossible to trust Goodell to handle the Peterson case appropriately. Which is one reason that many are calling on the Vikings to take it upon themselves to bench Peterson. Something they’re refusing to do amid severe public pressure.