Is there extra motivation in Atlanta’s camp to come out and demolish the 49ers? Colin Kaepernick ran all over Green Bay, can he do the same against the Falcons?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Can Kaep do it again against Atlanta?
When the Jets swooped in at the eleventh hour and signed franchise-tagged defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson to a long-term deal just before the deadline for doing so, many interpreted the move as a sign that, eventually, the Jets would do the same thing with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The only problem? There’s no clear, obvious, pinch-or-get-off-the-pot deadline when it comes to Fitzpatrick.
And so the two sides remain hunkered down, not disengaging completely but not attempting in earnest to bridge the gap between their differences. Via Ed Werder of ESPN.com, the two sides haven’t talked recently, they remain far apart, and no resolution is expected soon.
Clearly, the Jets remain interested in signing Fitzpatrick. They recently leaked to the media the notion that several different options have been presented to Fitzpatrick, in an obvious effort to make the Jets look reasonable and Fitzpatrick to look unreasonable. Still, it’s extremely unreasonable for the Jets to continue to let the situation linger; either they want him or they don’t. If they want him, they need to sign him. If they don’t want him, they need to cut the cord.
Having Fitzpatrick’s situation unresolved as camp opens is good for no one. It will be a distraction for the team, an annoyance for those who are repeatedly asked about it, and a constant source of uncertainty for Geno Smith, who will be the starter unless and until Fitzpatrick returns.
Could Fitzpatrick return and not be the starter? In theory, yes. But if they pay him the kind of money they’ve offered him, it would be ludicrous to not play him.
It’s even more ludicrous to allow this situation to hover over the franchise. Unless the Jets think a thickly-bearded cloud will help it in some way when the regular season begin (if they do, I’d love to know why), they should get the deal done or tell Fitzpatrick that they’re moving on without him. Whatever money they’re trying to save by waiting him out simply isn’t worth it.
After an injury-ravaged 2015, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is excited to be back on the field for training camp.
Luck said camp is like a second Christmas because it is “ball all day” without much concern for anything other than putting together this year’s team. Luck will again be the central member of that squad and he’ll come into this year with a freshly minted six-year, $140 million contract that better reflects the realities of the world of the NFL than the allusions to playing a kid’s game that Luck made about the start of camp.
Among those realities is that a player being paid like Luck will be expected to put up big individual numbers while leading his team to playoff success. Luck says that is pressure he’s happy to have on his shoulders.
“I’ve always thought this about pressure and expectation — I’ve always had very high expectations for myself,” Luck said, via the team’s website. “Probably higher than what other people expect. As far as pressure, I think pressure is a privilege and pressure from a coach, from your teammates, from your close friends and family is what’s important to me. You can’t control what folks are going say good or bad, so I’ve never got too caught up in that.”
Luck may not have much control over what everyone might say about him, but the majority of opinions will be formed by his play. Anything like last year’s mix of injuries and poor performance will raise doubts about the Colts’ direction while something more like 2014 will reaffirm Luck’s place among the top quarterbacks in the league.
There are players who have come back from multiple torn ACLs to play, and even play at a high level.
But if Travis Long is doing it, it won’t be in Philadelphia.
The Eagles announced they had released the fourth-year linebacker this morning, leaving an open roster spot.
Long had torn his right ACL in college and his left one twice in the NFL, making his chances slim anyway. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has pulled it off, but for most players, that’s too much to overcome.
The Eagles may have just needed another linebacker at camp, since Nigel Bradham was just arrested for allegedly breaking a bottle over a cabana boy’s head, though Bradham is expected to report to camp today.
Not only did the Jaguars not pick up the option on left tackle Luke Joeckel’s contract this offseason, they also went out and signed a potential replacement and tried the former No. 2 overall pick at a new position.
So yeah, he’s walking into camp this week with a little something to prove.
“I feel the healthiest, strongest and fastest I’ve ever felt,” Joeckel said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “I have a lot of confidence going into this training camp.
“And then there’s a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, and that makes a difference, too.”
Of course, the fiscal and personnel moves the Jaguars made were partly because of his own play, as Joeckel struggled at times last year. So any lack of confidence in their left tackle would be justified, even if the numbers weren’t so high.
But by not picking up his 2017 option (for $11.9 million) and by signing former Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum in free agency, Joeckel was immediately put on notice. The snaps they gave him at left guard should have then made it clear nothing was going to be handed to him.
“You always try to play with some kind of chip,” Joeckel said. “But this one is different. Going from high school and right into college as a true freshman, there was definitely competition, but I’ve started every game I’ve played in football. I want to keep that going.”
He said he’s not thinking about moving to guard, that he wants to compete for the job he’s held. And with Beachum recovered from last year’s ACL tear, he’s expected to be there to compete from the start of camp as well.
That will give Joeckel a chance to re-establish himself, as well as his market as he enters a contract year.
Foster is coming off a torn Achilles and will need to pass a conditioning test to be on the field when training camp kicks off on Friday, something coach Adam Gase didn’t seem overly concerned about on Tuesday. Gase said they spent a lot of time with Foster before signing him and has faith in the training and conditioning staffs to have Foster in good form.
Assuming he is, the team will begin figuring out how to deploy him and Ajayi. Ajayi was the subject of much optimistic chatter from Gase this offseason and the coach says now that playing time will sort itself out, although he seems intrigued about what Foster can bring to the offense as both a runner and receiver.
“He’s the type of guy that he can run his route tree similar to what a wide receiver’s is,” Gase said, via the Miami Herald. “He runs about as smooth as any running back that I’ve ever seen. I’ll be interested to see how far we can grow the running back position with him.”
Foster’s readiness to play is the first big question that has to be answered in Miami. If the answer is that he’s good to go, it appears he’ll be given every chance to grab the No. 1 spot.
Bengals RB Gio Bernard did a good deed.
The Steelers’ defense is trying to catch up to the offense.
Former Browns WR Reggie Rucker, who admits he stole from nonprofit organizations, says he’ll use money from a concussion lawsuit settlement to pay back his theft.
The Texans gave undrafted rookie Ra’Zahn Howard a $5,000 signing bonus.
The promise of a better run game should be good news for the Titans’ offense.
The Broncos want the rookies in their secondary to know that they can’t get away with playing like typical rookies.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid is showing his admiration for the late Dennis Green.
Here’s a look at the tight end position heading into Raiders camp.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson is getting credit for hiring Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator.
An anonymous donor is paying for the funeral of the famous Washington fan who went by the name Chief Zee.
The NFL may say it opposes gambling, but it’s not stopping the the Minnesota Lottery from starting a new Vikings scratch game.
Panthers training camp will be in the mid-90s and humid.
The Rams’ rookies are going back to school.
The 49ers may not be convinced that OT Anthony Davis is fully committed to football.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider are continuing their strong working relationship.
Buried at the bottom of Monday’s joint league-union press release announcing a new procedure for enforcing the concussion protocol was a list of other agreements reached by the NFL and NFL Players Association.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com noticed one that otherwise has gone unnoticed. Here’s the key language from the release: “This offseason the NFL and NFLPA established the Field Surface & Performance Committee, a joint committee to provide advice and guidance regarding the safety, performance and testing of non-NFL game day and practice surfaces. The new committee will perform research and advise the parties on injury prevention, improved testing methods, and the adoption of tools and techniques to evaluate and improve field surface performance and playability.”
King notes that, as part of the agreement, the NFLPA’s designated field consultant “will be granted equal access to all NFL playing fields and field test results,” which expressly includes “non-traditional venues (e.g., London, Mexico City, Hall of Fame Game).”
The union has been concerned for several years about the quality of the playing surfaces, but the union hasn’t had an equal seat at the table. It now does.
The agreement extends beyond the actual playing surface, which as Reggie Bush learned the hard way in St. Louis last year can create separate problems. By the eighth game of the 2016 season (and ideally sooner), all stadiums hosting NFL games must have “standard safety wall padding and a surface surrounding the field that is safe for players.”
It’s unclear why Monday’s press release didn’t make a bigger deal of this agreement, which arguably is as significant as the development of a joint procedure for enforcing the concussion protocol. At a time when a perception exists that the league and the union can’t get along, any evidence that they are putting their differences aside and working together for the best interest of players should be trumpeted loudly, so that the media, fans, and especially the players know what’s happening.
The two Packers players implicated in the Al Jazeera report about performance-enhancing drugs didn’t say too much Tuesday as they reported to camp, beyond the fact they haven’t talked to the NFL and didn’t think much of the allegations, to begin with.
(Then again, the fact they talked at all probably qualifies Green Bay’s media relations staff for an award.)
“I’m letting the PA handle that,” Peppers said, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Probably will, but don’t really know the details of the process at this moment.”
Matthews was more expressive but followed the same path, saying he didn’t know what he could tell investigators beyond the fact the claims they were delivered banned substances from an anti-aging clinic weren’t true.
“I have no idea,” Matthews said when asked what information he could provide. “We asked the same questions [to them]. Maybe it’s to conduct a formal investigation. I don’t know.
“It’s annoying, there’s no doubt about that.”
The initial claims have been recanted by the guy who made them, and retired Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has already been cleared by the league — though the NFLPA pointed out that as a former union member, Manning didn’t fall under their auspices and was free to proceed with the NFL as he wished.
“It sets a dangerous precedent, but at the same time, I get it, they have a job to do,” Matthews said of the league’s investigation. “But now I’m — and some of these other guys — are in kind of in a whirlwind of controversy. If it was up to me this thing would be behind us a long time ago.”
The league still wanted to interview current players as they came to training camp, but at a time when the NFL and NFLPA are agreeing at record pace, they don’t seem to have quite come to a compromise on this one.
Now that “heck of a competition” at quarterback can truly begin.
Kaepernick flew to Vail, Colo., yesterday to meet with Dr. Peter Millett, who performed the surgery. There, he went through a series of tests including some on-field work, and Kaepernick apparently passed. He also had work done on his right thumb and left knee this offseason, getting the bulk rate.
He’ll have his team physical Saturday when players report to training camp, with the first practice Sunday.
Then he’ll have a chance to compete for his old job with Blaine Gabbert, who had the head start in impressing new 49ers coach Chip Kelly.
“All I’ve heard is that Chip has told me it’s going to be a competition, . . . and to come in and be ready to compete,” Kaepernick said in June. “That’s my mindset, and I’m excited to do that.”
Of course, he wasn’t excited about everything this offseason, specifically when trade talks with Denver broke down because he wouldn’t take a pay cut.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jared Cook was placed on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp after having “preventative” surgery in June on his ailing foot.
According to Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Cook is still uncertain when he’ll be able to get back to practice with the Packers.
However, the surgery was minor and isn’t expected to hinder his availability for the start of the season.
“No, it wasn’t anything serious,” Cook said. “It was just, they didn’t want it to prolong and something happen later on down the road in season….I’d just rather be safe than sorry.”
But in joining a new teams, Cook will be missing valuable time to build a relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Cook missed the end of the offseason program due to the surgery and will have fewer days to build chemistry with Rodgers before the start of the regular season.
“Whether we’re in a new system or not,” Cook said, “you want to be out there on the field. That’s where you have the most fun. That’s what you’re basically bred to do. It’s not fun being separated from everybody and doing special drills to get you back. You want to be out there having fun with your teammates, but it’s just something I have to endure now so later on it’ll be better.”
The Packers hope the addition of Cook can add a second option at tight end to pair with Richard Rodgers.
Cook appeared in all 16 games with the St. Louis Rams last season. He caught 39 passes for 481 yards but did not find the end zone for the first time since his rookie season with Tennessee.
The Titans signed offensive lineman Will Campbell Tuesday.
A sixth-round pick of the Jets in 2013, Campbell, 25, has never played in a regular season NFL game. A four-year contributor as a defensive lineman at the University of Michigan, Campbell made the Jets’ roster in 2013 but spent the year transitioning from defensive line to offensive line.
He spent much of 2014 on the Bills’ practice squad and has also spent time with the Packers.
The signing of Campbell puts the Titans’ roster at 89, one short of the preseason max of 90. The Titans open full training camp on Saturday.
For the Colts, the 2015 season was a mess. For quarterback Andrew Luck, it was even more of a mess.
With camp opening, Luck told reporters that he’s 100 percent after multiple injuries last year, included a lacerated kidney. Entering 2016, Luck made it clear that he and the rest of the team have a chip on their shoulder.
“Yeah, I think so,” Luck said regarding whether the team has an edge this year. “I think so.”
Like every team, Indy’s goal is to get to the Super Bowl. “And win that game,” Luck added.
That’s a long way away, but the foundation for a successful season is put in place during training camp. Luck embraces that.
“Camp is awesome,” Luck told reporters. “I had a coach once explain camp is like second Christmas and it certainly feels that way. There’s an energy. There’s a buzz in the air. It’s great to see all the guys. There are some new faces absolutely. That’s sort of the nature of the NFL and there’s also some consistent faces like T.Y. Hilton, Chuck Pagano, Dwayne Allen, Anthony Castonzo, so there’s a great core group of guys on this team and integrating the new guys is always a big deal for the offseason and training camp.”
What about camp makes it so awesome?
“That it’s ball all day,” Luck said. “You don’t really have to think about anything. You can wear the same clothes, you know, two weeks in a row and no one is going to judge you unless you start smelling and then someone tells you, ‘You smell.'”
Last year, the Colts smelled bad. This year, the goal is to turn that stink into something that smells a lot more like napalm in the morning.
As the Jaguars begin their 22nd NFL season, they will be adding a sixth person to the “Pride of the Jaguars.” The next name on the list will be receiver Jimmy Smith. It’s an honor reserved to those who have made the biggest contributions to the franchise.
“I’m definitely proud and emotional right now,” Smith said Tuesday morning, via Jaguars.com, who got the call informing him of the decision from owner Shad Khan. “It was a 217 area code. I started not to pick up the phone because I usually don’t answer numbers I don’t know. It was Shad Khan, and I knew right then. My heart started beating fast and I couldn’t catch my breath. He said, ‘Jimmy, this is Shad Khan with the Jacksonville Jaguars . . . .”
Smith joins Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Mark Brunell, and former owners Wayne and Delores Weaver as the members of the team’s most exclusive group of honorees.
The 1992 second-round pick of the Cowboys became an original Jaguar in 1995, spending 11 seasons with the team. He caught 862 passes for 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns.
Smith won’t be insisting on the exclusive club remaining small. He already is lobbying for former Jaguars receiver Keenan McCardell and former Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin to be added to the group.
General Manager John Schneider signed an extension with the Seahawks over the weekend and, as expected, his partnership with coach Pete Carroll won’t be ending any time soon.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Seahawks and Carroll have agreed to an extension that puts Carroll under contract in Seattle through 2019. Carroll and Schneider both joined the Seahawks in 2010 and their record leaves little reason to wonder why the Seahawks will keep everything in place.
The team has gone 60-36 under Carroll in the regular season and 8-4 in the playoffs. The latter record includes their Super Bowl XLVIII title, their run back to the game the next year and at least one playoff win in each of the last four seasons.
There’s no word on the financial terms of the deal, but Carroll was already among the best-paid coaches in the league. His new deal will keep him there and keep him in Seattle through at least his 68th birthday if all goes according to plan.
Coleman had a career-best seven interceptions last season, and the new deal rewards Coleman for the work he did last season as under the radar signing who became a productive player on one of the league’s best defenses.
Coleman, 28, was a seventh-round pick of the Eagles in 2010. He played four years with the Eagles and one with the Chiefs before joining the Panthers last season.
After starting just three games in 2013-14, Coleman started all 15 games he played for the Panthers last season. He was a full-time starter in 2011-12 for the Eagles but started just thee of 15 games he played for the Chiefs before signing a two-year deal with the Panthers in March 2015.
Coleman has 17 career interceptions and had his first career sack last season.