Mike Florio is joined by Michael David Smith as they make their weekly NFL picks. The 49ers head to Atlanta on Sunday afternoon and both Florio and MDS believe Colin Kaepernick will pull off another nice game and lead San Francisco to a Super Bowl berth. Will Florio go back on his September prediction claiming the Patriots will play in the Super Bowl?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: PFT’s Conference Championship picks
The Panthers are off to a 2-0 start, and have a chance to improve on it in prime time against the Steelers Sunday night.
And they hope, by then, we’re talking about the guys on the field.
With the Greg Hardy situation settled for now with his double-secret-probation with pay placement on the commissioner’s exempt list, the Panthers can get about the business of playing without their franchise-tagged defensive end.
“Distraction? I wouldn’t say it’s much of a distraction,” quarterback Cam Newton said, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “You kind of, you [hurt] for a person [like] Greg who has done, in my opinion, every single thing that was asked of him to do.
“There’s a lot of guys that feel for Greg, including myself. But we still have a job to do, and that’s to put the best performance that we have had this whole season for Sunday night.”
Hardy will be allowed back at the facility to work out, but won’t practice or play until his legal matter is resolved.
Whether that’s at a Nov. 17 court date or whether he tries to strike a plea deal to get back on the field sooner (which would result in a six-game suspension without pay), no one knows at the moment.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he’d welcome Hardy back, but gave him a few days to let the dust settle, after his status had clouded the start of the Panthers season.
“All the controversy, we’re not going to let that affect us on the field,” Newton said. “And it’s kind of hard to do that, especially in this type of situation. But, in the end, it’s not about Greg Hardy. It’s about the Carolina Panthers trying to put the best product that they can [on the field].”
And for now, that’s without the guy who’s taking up around 10 percent of their salary cap to go away.
When celebrity attorney Gloria Allred called a press conference this week to blast the NFL for its handling of domestic violence issues, Brandon Marshall was dragged back into the fray.
And he responded in a big way, with a 40-minute press conference in which he said some were exploiting his past issues for personal economic gain, and he defended the league’s new tougher penalties for domestic violence.
“It’s not the NFL’s job to raise men,” Marshall said, via the Associated Press. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s the NFL’s job to take boys from college and raise them to men. It is a problem in our marriages, a problem in our communities, a problem in the way we coach children and parenting – that’s where it starts. It doesn’t start with the NFL, it doesn’t start with the government, it starts at home.”
Marshall provided reporters with testimony which said the woman in question, Rasheedah Watley, was not attacked by him, as well as letters asking him for payments between $100,000 and $1 million.
“There is a letter from the Watleys, from Ms. Rasheedah Watley to the commissioner in 2008, where she states, I was pressured to do this for money,” Marshall said. “My family pressured me, this stuff didn’t happen. Which isn’t all true because it was a very volatile relationship. We argued every single day. We treated each other bad. We had no business being in a relationship.”
Marshall was suspended for three games in 2008, but that was reduced to one. He was never convicted of anything regarding that case.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has come under fire for the last two weeks, from his initial bungling of the Ray Rice case to his disappearing act at a time when the league needs leadership.
But he’s now got more than a few influential owners in his corner.
“I think he’s doing a great job,” Jets quarterback Michael Vick said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “I think some situations are more complicated than others. You’re not going to get it right all the time the first time. These situations that [have arisen] are situations that we never dealt with before. I feel from a PR standpoint, just from a situational standpoint, it’s kind of new to everybody.”
That opinion puts Vick at odds with many, who think the commissioner has screwed things up at every turn lately.
But Vick’s view is colored by his personal experience, as Goodell was helpful to his comeback from federal dogfighting charges.
“Nobody’s perfect,” Vick said. “Nobody can make the correct decisions right then and there on the spot when faced with all forms of adversity. So, you got to give the man a chance. You got to give him a chance. You got to give everybody a chance to get it right. And you see that the other teams that are dealing with it now are making the right decisions based on what’s happened in weeks prior. So you got to give people a chance, man. You’re not going to get it right on the first time.”
That much is evident. And Goodell can only hope he handles his next chance as well as Vick has his.
Devin Hester took sole possession of the NFL record for most return touchdowns in a career when he took back a Michael Koenen punt for a 26-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Atlanta Falcons 56-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hester made the majority of the progress toward that record while a member of the Chicago Bears over the previous eight seasons.
However, Hester said after the game Thursday night in a postgame interview on the NFL Network that he hadn’t been happy with the last few years he spent with the Bears. He even seemingly took a veiled shot at his former quarterback, Jay Cutler.
“I’m happy man,” Hester said, via Adam Hoge of WGN Radio. “You know what, I’m going to say it, man. I wasn’t happy the last 3-4 years in Chicago because things wasn’t going the way I expect. I would always have a great camp, have all the receivers saying and coaches saying I had the best camp of all the receivers. And once the season start off, I’m not there.
“You know, and I got a quarterback now that man, he loves even the walk-ons, man. And the coaches know how to get the ball to me, you know, make plays for me. And I’m excited for this season, man. This is only the beginning for our team.”
The experiment of using Hester’s ability as a receiver in Chicago never seemed to fully take off. After posting a strong campaign in 2009 with 57 catches for 757 yards and three touchdowns, he never approached those numbers again. His catch total dripped to 40, 26 and then 23 over the next three seasons before being taken out of the role under Marc Trestman last year.
In three games for Atlanta, Hester already has seven catches for 126 yards and appears to be revitalized in all facets of the game.
Every team in the league had a chance to sign Hester when he was a free agent this summer. With Hester happy with his surroundings, the Falcons may have found a potential difference maker off the scrap heap.
Earl Thomas can’t quite put his finger on why he felt a little off during Sunday’s 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers. However, Thomas believes the loss has helped reinvigorate him ahead of this week’s Super Bowl rematch with the Denver Broncos.
“I think I definitely got my championship spirit back after that loss; my crave, my hunger, and my desire to be unstoppable back,” Thomas said. “I don’t think I lost it but after that game I was like, ‘dang, something just hit me,’ and I just been focused ever since and it feel so good just to be feeling like this.”
Seattle’s defense was on the field for over 42 minutes with temperatures on the field nearing 120 degrees. Thomas even had to leave the game in the second half to get an IV to replenish fluids after suffering from cramps. The Chargers put up 377 yards of offense and converted 10 of 19 third opportunities to keep Seattle’s defense on the field. Thomas and the rest of the Seahawks defense just couldn’t get the stops they are typically able to get.
While San Diego didn’t hit any massively big play against the Seahawks – their longest play being a 21-yard touchdown from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates – Seattle just couldn’t find ways to get off the field consistently.
Thomas just didn’t feel like he was playing like himself last week in San Diego. It’s an experience he says he hasn’t encountered before.
“It never happened like that,” Thomas said. “That game was so weird. It was different. It just felt funny out there. Even in my body language when I watch myself on film. I have no regrets from the game but one thing I can say, just that my technique and just as my posture wasn’t as aggressive and I think that’s a part of my mindset that I need to turn on.”
Thomas is itching for the opportunity to get back on track this week against the Broncos.
“We’re ready to play right now,” Thomas said. “I love when we have something to prove and a lot of times when we’re on top like this, we’ve got to protect what we have. This is not a one person game, this is a team sport and we have to capture every moment. We have a lot of young players that are trying to understand their role in this defense, but we had a lot of great coachable moments from that film and I got onto some guys and I took criticism myself and we move on.”
In the aftermath of the worst loss of his NFL head coaching career, Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith said he was “embarrassed” by his team’s performance in a 56-14 loss at Atlanta on Thursday night.
“Obviously, you know, we weren’t ready to play,” Smith said, taking the blame for his team’s poor showing at the outset of his postgame remarks.
Smith said the team’s injury list, which grew longer with the loss of quarterback Josh McCown to a thumb injury Thursday, was not an excuse for a defeat in which the Bucs surrendered the first eight touchdowns before finally getting on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.
“The guys we had out there, we should’ve played better than that,” Smith said.
In relief of McCown, second-year backup Mike Glennon completed 17-of-24 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. Glennon also didn’t commit a turnover.
“If there was something bright to come out of this game, it was probably his play,” Smith said.
Never before had a Smith-coached team surrendered more than 45 points in a game, and never had one of his teams lost by more than five touchdowns, according to the Spreadapedia database.
The Buccaneers’ head coach called the loss a “scar” that would stay with Tampa Bay.
“Scars don’t go away. This will be on us,” Smith said. “Rest of our lives, we’re going to remember this game.”
He added: “Luckily, we have 13 more games to go.”
The Atlanta Falcons completely dominated the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the tune of a massive 56-14 blowout victory on Thursday night.
It was the second highest point total in Atlanta franchise history. The Falcons improved to 2-1 on the year while Tampa Bay fell to 0-3.
Devin Hester scored the 20th return touchdown of his career to take sole possession of the NFL record for most kick returns for scores in a career. Hester also had a 20-yard touchdown run on an endaround in the second quarter.
Matt Ryan set a franchise record for completion percentage (87.5 percent) in a game going 21 of 24 for 286 yards and three touchdowns before being replaced by T.J. Yates in the third quarter. Harry Douglas caught one touchdown pass from Ryan with Julio Jones added two scores. Steven Jackson scored. Antone Smith scored. Safety Kemal Ishmael scored on an interception return.
The Buccaneers couldn’t do anything right. Tampa Bay fumbled five times, losing four to Atlanta. Josh McCown was intercepted once before leaving the game in the second quarter with a thumb injury. Add in snap issues as well and it was a total cluster for the Bucs.
Despite having 56 points through three quarters, the Falcons were unable to become the 23rd team to score 60 points in an NFL game. The New Orleans Saints were the most recent team to do so with a 62-7 victory over Indianapolis in October 2011.
Tampa Bay recorded their only offensive score of the game with 8:46 left to go when Mike Glennon hit Vincent Jackson for a 3-yard touchdown. Linebacker Danny Lansanah intercepted Yates on Atlanta’s next possession and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to bring the score to 56-14.
The following is a compilation of skill position players listed on Thursday’s injury report, along with their practice activity levels as declared by their clubs.
The final status for players whose teams play on Sunday will be announced on Friday.
Did not practice
Rams WR Tavon Austin (knee).
Panthers WR Jason Avant (thigh).
Giants WR Odell Beckham (hamstring).
Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee).
49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee).
Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring).
Rams TE Cory Harkey (knee).
Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (illness).
Jaguars WR Allen Hurns (ankle).
Washington WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder).
Saints RB Mark Ingram (hand).
Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring).
Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle).
Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee).
49ers TE Vance McDonald (knee).
Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).
Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle).
Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow).
Colts WR Hakeem Nicks (illness).
Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (concussion).
Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).
Raiders WR Rod Streater (hip).
Browns RB Ben Tate (knee).
Chiefs RB De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring).
Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh).
Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh).
Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (groin).
Steelers RB Dri Archer (ankle).
Lions RB Joique Bell (knee).
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (shoulder).
Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder).
Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle).
Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).
Panthers WR Jerricho Cotchery (thigh).
Patriots WR Julian Edelman (back).
Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot).
Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar (knee).
Washington PK Kai Forbath (right groin).
Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring).
Chargers TE Antonio Gates (hamstring).
Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart (foot).
Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe).
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee).
Jaguars TE Clay Harbor (calf).
Eagles WR Josh Huff (shoulder).
Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring).
Jets RB Chris Johnson (ankle).
Jaguars RB Storm Johnson (ankle).
Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew (hand).
Seahawks RB Christine Michael (hamstring).
Lions RB Montell Owens (hamstring).
Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (chest).
Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (thigh).
Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen).
Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring).
Jaguars TE Mickey Shuler (heel).
Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (chest).
Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder).
Washington RB Darrel Young (neck).
Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee).
Browns WR Travis Benjamin (knee).
Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (quadricep).
Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw (other).
Panthers WR Philly Brown (ankle).
Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder).
Eagles TE Zach Ertz (knee).
Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (foot).
Texans TE Garrett Graham (ankle).
Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray (foot).
Chiefs WR Frankie Hammond (shoulder).
Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (back).
Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet (knee).
Washington RB Roy Helu (quadricep).
Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway (hip).
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (groin).
49ers RB Carlos Hyde (calf).
Texans WR Andre Johnson (ankle).
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (back).
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).
Titans RB Dexter McCluster (foot).
Broncos PK Brandon McManus (right groin).
Steelers WR Lance Moore (groin).
Bears WR Josh Morgan (groin).
Panthers TE Greg Olsen (calf).
Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs).
Eagles WR Brad Smith (groin).
Vikings WR Rodney Smith (hamstring).
Colts WR Reggie Wayne (other).
Chiefs WR Albert Wilson (ankle).
The Buccaneers’ quarterback of the past/future is about to become the quarterback of the present.
Mike Glennon will enter Thursday night’s game against the Falcons in place of Josh McCown. The starter has left for the locker room after striking his hand on a helmet after throwing a pass. Officially, he’s questionable to return with a thumb injury, according to Tracy Wolfson of CBS.
Glennon can’t do much worse than McCown, who completed five of 12 passes for 58 yards and an interception before leaving the game.
The Buccaneers continue to trail, 35-0.
During his first season with the Falcons, Devin Hester has shown that he can do a thing or two on offense. But he also still has the skills that could eventually put him in Canton.
With a 62-yard punt return that hit paydirt, Hester broke a tie with Deion Sanders at 19 career touchdown returns. Hester now has the record all to himself with 20. He paid tribute to Sanders with an extended high step into the end zone, drawing a flag for taunting in the process.
Hester also has added a 20-yard touchdown run as part of Atlanta’s 35-0 first-half lead.
And while it’s easier to criticize the Bears both for letting Hester go and for never finding a way to unleash his broken-field skills on offense, keep in mind that every team has a crack at Hester on the open market. The Falcons made the move to get him, and he could end up being a major difference maker as Atlanta tries to get back to the postseason.
After the 2012 season, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez was 95-percent retired. And he returned.
After the 2013 season, Gonzalez’s moved his estimate to 100 percent. And he has said he won’t be returning.
Now with CBS, which televises Thursday Night Football, Gonzalez explained that he won’t be returning to the Week Three TNF host team.
“No,” Gonzalez said about a possible reunion with the Falcons. “I know I can still play. But at the same time, I got 17 years in the league. I really do feel content and happy to be up here because I win every week.”
Gonzalez’s options aren’t limited to the Falcons. He signed a two-year deal in 2013, which as a practical matter gave the Falcons his rights for 2014, if he decided to give it another go. By not retiring before the start of the league year in March, Gonzalez forced the Falcons to cut him before a balloon payment came due. As a result, Gonzalez can now sign with any team, at any time.
Literally, at any time. Even during the playoffs.
If, for example, one of the Super Bowl teams has a tight end suffer an injury in the conference title game (it happened three years ago, when Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski badly sprained an ankle), Gonzalez can sign a contract and suit up for a one-game shot at the Super Bowl ring he never won.
It’s been an ugly start for the Buccaneers tonight in Atlanta.
The Falcons’ first two offensive possessions ended with Matt Ryan touchdown passes, the first to Harry Douglas and the second to Julio Jones, and Atlanta got a pick-six on defense from safety Kemal Ishmael making the score 21-0.
In the early going the game has been notable mostly for how easy the Falcons have made it look: They’ve simply marched down the field with the Bucs providing little to no resistance. Only once did it look like the Bucs had made a big play on defense, when safety Mark Barron took the ball away from Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo and began racing downfield. But Falcons receiver Devin Hester made a great play, running Barron down, stripping the ball from him and recovering Barron’s fumble.
The Bucs caught a break when they fumbled the ensuing kickoff, only to have the officials rule that forward progress had stopped. That break didn’t amount to much, as Ishmael’s interception return for a touchdown happened right after. The Bucs are going to have to catch a whole lot more breaks if they’re going to make this game competitive.
Here’s an unusual story that would have gotten more attention in recent days if other more serious and unusual stories hadn’t become so usual of late.
Last week, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley missed the team’s flight to Baltimore for the Week Two Thursday night game against the Ravens. The Steelers have confirmed the version of events that multiple sources shared with PFT.
Late for the flight, Haley contacted the team to advise that he was stuck in traffic. He said his wife would be driving to Baltimore anyway, so he rode with her.
Ultimately, Haley missed no meetings and the situation otherwise caused no problems. But his absence on the flight was noticed, and it was regarded as unusual.
Probably because it is unusual. Members of the coaching staff ordinarily don’t miss team flights. In this specific case, Haley was fortunate that the game was fairly close via car. He also was fortunate that most of the media has been focused on other things.
Snoop Dogg, however, may have something to say.
As authorities continue to investigate whether to bring formal charges against 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, who was arrested and accused of domestic violence in August, police now say another incident took place at McDonald’s home on May 25.
San Jose police confirmed today that they were called to McDonald’s house after an incident in which a woman grabbed a man’s gun. Although police did not identify either the man or the woman involved by name, multiple reports say the subjects were McDonald and his fiancee, whom McDonald is accused of assaulting in a later incident in August.
“An engaged couple (a male and female subject) were in an argument when the female subject became upset, grabbed a firearm (handgun) registered to the male subject, and held it at her side,” the police statement released today said, via CSNBayArea.com. “When the male subject informed the female subject that he was going to call 911, the female subject put the firearm away and fled without incident. The female subject did not make any threats or point the firearm at the male subject. Both subjects have been identified and were contacted.”
This is the first time police have released any information about the May 25 incident, in which no arrests were made. Police arrested McDonald on August 31 but have released little information about the circumstances that led to that arrest, other than a brief statement saying the “victim had visible injuries.”
The 49ers have taken criticism for allowing McDonald to continue to play while the investigation into the August 31 incident is ongoing. Three other NFL players — Carolina’s Greg Hardy, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Arizona’s Jonathan Dwyer — have been taken off the field this week while they face abuse charges.
The Buccaneers will be without a Pro Bowl interior lineman and their starting tailback on Thursday night.
Standout defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand) and running back Doug Martin (knee) are both inactive for tonight’s game at Atlanta, the Bucs said. Bobby Rainey starts in place of Martin, who will miss his second straight game, while Da’Quan Bowers will replace McCoy, according to the Falcons’ website, which announced the game’s starters.
The Falcons are also down a key contributor, too, with wide receiver Roddy White (hamstring) declared inactive, according to the club. Harry Douglas will get the start for White, who didn’t practice all week.
In addition to McCoy and Martin, the Buccaneers have deactivated offensive guard Kadeem Edwards, linebacker Mason Foster, offensive guard Rishaw Johnson, offensive tackle Kevin Pamphile and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.