Teams will be looking for a new QB this off-season and Mike Vick might do himself a favor if he has a monster game this Sunday.
ProFootballTalk: Can Vick up his stock?
The Ravens traded Anquan Boldin to the 49ers earlier this offseason, leaving them to sort through the rest of their roster to find receivers to play alongside Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones this offseason.
Boldin led the team in both catches and receiving yards last season, so there’s a big hole to fill even if Torrey Smith takes the expected step up after catching 99 passes over his first two seasons. Jones’ kick and punt return responsibilities mean that he’s only going to be able to do so much so that leaves a relatively inexperienced crew vying for expanded roles in the Baltimore offense.
According to Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun, Deonte Thompson is standing out in that group ahead of Tandon Doss, David Reed and LaQuan Williams. Preston reports that the Ravens think Thompson, who had five catches in his rookie season, has the “inside track” on a starting job across from Smith because he is the most complete option of the group. Coach John Harbaugh didn’t go that far in his assessment, but he did give a positive review of the second-year player.
“[Thompson] could sneak in there, he looks different, is fast and catches everything,” Harbaugh said. “But the other guys like Doss and Reed have done well and worked hard during the offseason. As I’ve always said, the best player will play.”
There’s been so much focus on the changes to the Ravens defense this offseason that Boldin’s departure and the ensuing gap in the depth chart have been relatively small topics of conversation. That figures to change in OTAs and training camp as the team tries to put together an offense capable of repeating as Super Bowl champions.
On Monday, Bills defensive lineman Mario Williams tried to explain text messages that had been released to the media by the lawyer representing Williams’ ex-fiancée. It could be the first of many times that Mario must respond or react to things said and done by Tony Buzbee.
Buzbee is employing a common, and effective, litigation tactic. Williams has sued Buzbee’s client on grounds Buzbee deems to be frivolous and unwarranted, and Buzbee will do everything he can to make Williams regret that decision.
For more proof of Buzbee’s plan, look no farther than his recent comments to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. Buzbee justifies an aggressive reaction to the Williams lawsuit by explaining that the lawsuit he filed contains serious allegations against Buzbee’s client, Erin Marzouki.
“He called her a thief in a public pleading,” Buzbee told Graham. “He said in a public pleading that she never had any intention of marrying him. He said in a public pleading that she had been the one to break off the relationship. He said in a public pleading that the only reason she was with him was to get his money.
“He swore that to be true. Those are some pretty damaging things to say about someone when you know good and well the pleading that you filed is going to be picked up by the press.”
And so Buzbee is fighting fire with hellfire, releasing text messages that have limited relevance to the potentially key question of whether Williams or Marzouki broke off the engagement. While the text messages arguably prove that Williams was moody and erratic, which could perhaps support a finding by a jury that Williams ended the engagement and permit Marzouki to keep the $785,000 engagement ring, that’s just cover for what Buzbee is really doing.
It’s the Reggie Hammond “let’s see what we can f–k with next” approach. And it often works.
In some cases, however, the approach serves only to piss off the other party. Here, it could cause Williams to dig in and spend more than $785,000 in an effort to retrieve the ring.
The only good news is that the couple apparently hadn’t registered at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Mike Smith is obviously a good football coach, but he’d have probably been a pretty good salesman as well.
The Falcons coach talked about the return of Tony Gonzalez, and it’s clear that he had a strategy for coaxing him back for another season after Gonzalez spent last year saying he was 95 percent sure he was going to retire.
“I told Tony, ‘I’m not going to talk about it after this day. I’m just hoping for that 5 percent, but I’m not going to address it through the season and nor should you’ and he didn’t,” Smith said, via the team’s official website. “He went through the rest of the season. The season ended, not quite what we wanted to get accomplished, and Tony was still intent on not playing anymore.”
But after the season, Smith was willing to slow-play things, to let the sting of an NFC Championship Game loss subside.
When it was time to talk to Gonzalez, he made sure to get on a plane and fly to his home in California, rather than doing business over the phone.
“I said ‘Tony, I’ll tell you what, I don’t want to do this on the phone. Let me hop on a plane, come out and have dinner with you and let’s really talk about this,’ ” Smith said. “So we went out and had dinner and had an opportunity to talk. The chances of him playing were kind of bending a little bit.”
Whether the meeting helped change Gonzalez’s mind about coming back, it showed a commitment on the part of the Falcons, who made bringing him back a specific focus during an offseason which saw them make a few precise moves.
The moment when Darrelle Revis went down with a torn ACL last year, Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik recognized an opportunity.
Dominik told NFL Network that he immediately thought about the possibility that the Jets might decide to trade Revis, and that the Bucs’ front office started thinking about what Revis could mean to Tampa’s future during the 2012 season.
“Quite frankly, it started when he blew out his knee,” Dominik said. “I actually went into our director of player personnel Dennis Hickey’s office and I said, ‘That could be a reason why he could leave the Jets.’ Because I knew what his contract situation was, and so when he hurt his knee, I thought, ‘That’s going to be an out possibility’.”
Dominik said all indications are that Revis is making big strides in his recovery, and that he’s going to be the same Revis who was a three-time All-Pro for the Jets.
“I think we’re getting the No. 1 cornerback in the National Football League,” Dominik said.
If Dominik is right about that, he was smart to start thinking about Revis the moment he went down.
Good news about Seahawks defensive ends is getting harder to find than stores renting VHS tapes.
Chris Clemons is rehabbing from a torn ACL and the team isn’t sure when he’ll be able to get back on the field. Michael Bennett has a torn rotator cuff, which doesn’t require surgery but is still something he’ll have to deal with over the course of the season. And Bruce Irvin will be serving a four-game suspension to start the year after violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
The last thing they really need at this point, then, is an injury to Cliff Avril. When it rains in Seattle, it pours. Avril injured the plantar fascia (the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot) in his foot about a month ago and will be out at least another couple of weeks as he tries to recover.
“Well, it hurts. You could ask him about it. The plantar fascia thing is a real uncomfortable thing. You just have to wait it out,” coach Pete Carroll said, via Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune. “It’s something that you can come back from. It’s not a problem. But you just have to wait it out. He’s real anxious to go, and he’s doing very well in his rehab. And he runs some this week for the first time. So it will take another couple weeks at least.”
OTAs aren’t vital for a veteran player like Avril, certainly less important than making sure his foot is 100 percent come training camp and the regular season. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if Avril was held out for the remainder of the offseason work, including next month’s minicamp, in hopes of avoiding the run of bad luck at defensive end that calls to mind Spinal Tap’s problems finding a permanent drummer.
Bengals cornerback Leon Hall missed OTAs last season as he recovered from an Achilles injury and he’s going to miss at least a portion of the team’s organized team activities again this year.
Geoff Hobson of the Bengals website reports that Hall tore a ligament in his thumb while lifting weights. As a result, Hall is going to be on the sideline when the team starts this year’s set of OTAs on Tuesday.
According to the report, Hall is expected back at some point during OTAs so this isn’t nearly as serious an injury as the Achilles issue from last year. Given Hall’s status as a veteran foundation of the defense and the team’s need to keep such a player in the lineup, it wouldn’t be surprising if he took things easy until at least the team’s mandatory minicamp next month.
Dre Kirkpatrick, who also had injury issues in 2012, isn’t expected to do any team drills until training camp as he rehabs from knee surgery performed in hopes of keeping him on the field this season. Should everyone be healthy at cornerback come the start of the season, the Bengals secondary should be better than it was last season and that should keep them in the hunt for a third straight playoff berth.
Kyle Love made the Patriots roster as an undrafted rookie.
And he left the roster in kind of the same way, learning a lesson that no player (at least one not named Tom Brady) isn’t replaceable.
That’s why he wasn’t surprised when the Patriots released him after he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes this offseason. The Jaguars quickly claimed him.
“That’s how they run their business up there; veteran guys who have been there for years and put in a lot of work get treated like rookies,” Love told Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.
Love said that both his parents have diabetes, which made him expect to receive a similar diagnosis. He said he had worked out regularly at Patriots facility, and any weight loss resulting from the disease wasn’t dramatic.
“It’s not like I lost 30 pounds,” he said. “I was never out of shape — I participated every day so I don’t know where that came from.”
Love has a chance to help the Jaguars immediately, but coaches met with the team’s medical staff before putting in a claim to make sure he’d be able to do what he does best.
“They reviewed it and felt good about the situation and felt like we can get him the care he needs,” coach Gus Bradley said. “We went through a preliminary meeting [Monday] to talk about what he can and can’t do and the number of reps. We’ll bring him along slowly and get a chance to see him.”
Love said he’s had to cut out a lot of desserts and carbohydrates from his diet, but that’s something he’s willing to do to manage the disease.
“My wife asked me how I felt after the whole thing went down and it was bittersweet,” Love said. “You’re sad, but then you’re happy at the same time. I’m just trying to move on and not really worry about what happened.”
If they can manage the disease, the Jaguars likely found an upgrade at a position of need. And if that happens, they can thank the Patriots for making a cold calculation that helped them.
Usually when guys stay away from voluntary workouts, it’s because they’re trying to make a statement.
In the case of Bears offensive lineman Gabe Carimi, the statement seems to be that he’s putting all the pressure on himself.
Today will be the fifth of 10 voluntary OTA days for the Bears, and Carimi will have missed all five. He’s working out in Arizona with former Pro Bowl lineman LeCharles Bentley, who said the chance he’s taking is worth it.
“Any time a player opts to make an investment in himself that is outside the scope of what the team expects, that’s a gamble,” Bentley told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “That’s sometimes a risk that players have to be willing to take. Sometimes, when guys are in a situation like Gabe, maybe the player feels comfortable betting on himself.
“Now, where it gets a little sketchy, you can’t go back and be OK. You can’t go back and be good. You’ve got to go back and be damn good. That’s where the pressure falls back onto the player and, to be quite frank, that is where it belongs. Let these guys stand up and man up for themselves. These are their careers. If Gabe Carimi is going to be labeled as a bust, let this man do it on his own terms.”
The Bears have tried to play nice, saying they will welcome him with open arms when he returns. But he was on the roster bubble before this, and playing keep-away is no way to endear yourself to a new coach and a General Manager who didn’t pick you in the first round.
When Carimi did show up for a minicamp, he was working as a second-team right guard. He struggled at tackle last year (as did most Bears offensive linemen), and has battled knee problems.
That’s not the strongest position from which to gamble, but that’s the risk Carimi is taking, as he tries to prove his bust label is not an accurate one.
The Dolphins hope the pieces are in place for a more productive secondary in 2013.
A snapshot of the Bengals roster as the team starts OTAs.
Former Browns LB David McMillan was shot and killed in Georgia last weekend.
The Steelers face plenty of questions as they reach the OTA portion of the offseason.
Said Texans WR Andre Johnson of WR DeAndre Hopkins, “You could kind of tell that he’s thinking a lot when he’s playing, but that’s part of being a rookie. He’s picking up everything pretty well. He went and made some plays today and that’s a good thing. I think day-by-day, he’ll continue to get better and better.”
A visit to the Indianapolis 500 reinforced Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s belief in teamwork and communication.
An analysis of the Titans’ 2013 schedule.
It looks like the Chiefs will be running a more aggressive defense this season.
Arizona State coaches are reading Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s book.
The Redskins are happy with the progress made on their training camp location in Richmond.
Said Lions DT Nick Fairley, “Hopefully we get them in third-and-long a lot this year so we can pin our ears back on D-line and go get the quarterback. I think we’ll do pretty good on defense and, as a team, we’re expecting big things out of everybody.”
Five big questions for the Panthers to answer during the rest of the offseason.
The Rams went the big-ticket route in free agency this year.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will miss Organized Team Activities after having surgery to remove a cyst from his back.
Romo, however, says there’s nothing to worry about, and that the procedure was fairly minor.
“If this was the regular season and I had to play next week, I could,” Romo told the Dallas Morning News. “This is just about being smart. That’s why I did it now. This will have no effect on training camp. No way will it have an impact. And I still think there’s a good chance I’m on the field for minicamp.”
Although it hadn’t been reported previously, Romo had the cyst removed a month ago. He said the surgery was simple enough that his wife could drive him home that day, and he was playing with their son that evening.
“It was a pretty routine afternoon,’’ Romo said. “I was back at the [Cowboys] complex the next day to go through what we would do in the teaching sessions and the throwing sessions this off-season. . . . It was not much of anything, I just went in and had them look at it. It was more of an ache than anything. I just thought, ‘well, it’s something I’d rather not feel.’ I’d rather be 100 percent, not 96 percent. It’s done and it’s made me feel better.”
And while Romo isn’t feeling enough to get to work now, he’s expecting to be as good as ever before the season starts.
Multiple suspensions in a given year won’t simply cause a team to lose the services of a player. The teams also are required, under certain circumstances, to forfeit to the league office a portion of the salary that some players won’t be paid during the suspension.
The policy applies once a team has a second suspension in a given league year. For the first suspension that triggers a fine (i.e., the second suspension in a given league year), the penalty is 25 percent of the player’s base salary for the duration of the suspension. For the next suspension in a given league year, the fine is one third of the player’s base salary for the term of the suspension, not to exceed $350,000. For the next suspension drawing a fine in a given league year, the penalty is half the player’s base salary for the term of the suspension, not to exceed $500,000.
For 2013, the Seahawks are in the clear, because the policy applies only to multiple suspensions in the same league year. In the current league year, the Seahawks have had only one suspension, so far. For the next suspension arising under the substance-abuse policy, the personal-conduct policy, or the policy regarding steroids and related substances, the fines will begin to accumulate.
For the Seahawks, the more pertinent question isn’t whether they’ll be fined in the wake of the Bruce Irvin suspension in the 2013 league year, but whether and to what extent the Seahawks have been fined for the four prior suspensions occurring since 2011.
In 2011, the NFL expanded the program to encompass teams whose players have incurred fines for on-field infractions equaling and exceeding $100,000 in a given league year.
Dolphins safety Reshad Jones has changed his mind and decided to attend Organized Team Activities.
Jones, who is unhappy with his contract, skipped Monday’s voluntary workout. But Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Jones will show up to the Dolphins’ OTA session today.
Jones’s agent, Joel Segal, and Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland spoke several times on Monday, and Ireland told Segal the Dolphins would open discussions on a new contract “eventually” if Jones showed up, Salguero reports. Whether “eventually” means any time soon, and whether the Dolphins’ offer will be enough to satisfy Jones, is a separate question. But Ireland’s assurance was enough to get Jones to report.
The Dolphins chose Jones in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL draft, and he’s scheduled to make $1.3 million this year, on the final season of his rookie contract. Jones has been a good player in Miami, earning a starting job in his second season and starting all 16 games while leading the team with four interceptions last year, so the Dolphins would like to keep him around for several more years.
Broncos safety Rahim Moore says he’s doing his best to ignore the nasty comments from fans after he gave up the game-tying 70-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter of Denver’s playoff loss to Baltimore.
“I’ve had some bad comments, but I keep those to myself because it’s part of the territory,” Moore said. “Just from random people, anybody, you know? So, but I hear them, I just keep walking. Or I just keep them in the back of my head.”
Moore said he doesn’t blame fans who are angry with him.
“The fans, that’s what they’re supposed to do, that’s why they’re there for us, they pay all their money, their hard-earned money and they want to see greatness,” he said. “So, I don’t fault them at all. But this year, we’re going to do all we can to put some smiles on their faces.”
It’s one thing for Denver fans to boo Moore at the time he gave up the Joe Flacco-to-Jacoby Jones touchdown pass. But if fans are still making “bad comments” to Moore when they see him out and about in Denver, those fans need to get over it.
Still, all Moore can do is ignore anything fans say about that touchdown. And not let it happen again.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was the victim of a burglary this weekend as his Maryland home was broken into and several things were taken from the residence.
According the Associated Press, Rice had $2,000 and a pair of guns stolen from his home Friday night. Rice was out-of-town but a friend was staying at the house and notified police of the incident. Police say the burglar entered through a rear window and ransacked Rice’s home.
Surveillance video caught the burglar on tape.
Apparently even winning a Super Bowl just four months ago isn’t enough to earn Rice a reprieve from being a crime victim. At least he wasn’t home when the robbery happened.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington has pleaded not guilty to his arrest earlier this month on assault charges stemming from an incident with his ex-girlfriend.
According to the Associated Press, Washington entered the plea Monday.
Per Phoenix police, Washington’s former girlfriend and mother of his baby claims he grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the ground during an altercation at her apartment. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and criminal trespass and released on bond.
Washington has been able to practice with the Cardinals during offseason workouts. He has been getting second-team reps with a four-game suspension and possible further discipline from the league from this arrest looming in the future. Karlos Dansby instead saw action with the Cardinals’ first-team defense.