Mike Florio talks with Tom Curran of CSN New England and J. Michael of CSN Baltimore to recap the AFC championship game between the Ravens and Patriots.
Mike Florio talks with Tom Curran of CSN New England and J. Michael of CSN Baltimore to recap the AFC championship game between the Ravens and Patriots.
Good news came Thursday night for the NFL, with an increase in ratings over the same spot in 2015, even though the Patriots bulled over the Texans. The rest of the TV viewership ratings for Week Three, in comparison to 2015, was not as good.
Via SportsBusiness Daily, the overnight ratings were down for Sunday Night Football on NBC and the late-afternoon national window on CBS.
The Bears-Cowboys game in prime time generated an overnight rating of 12.9, a seven-percent drop over the 13.8 from Broncos-Lions a year ago. Steelers-Eagles in the 4:25 p.m. ET slot dropped by one percent from Bears-Seahawks a year earlier.
In the early-afternoon regional windows, CBS saw an 18-percent decline over 2015, even with Broncos-Bengals delivered to 65-percent of the nation. FOX realized a three-percent increase, however, with games like Vikings-Panthers on the docket.
The week surely will be ending on a sour note, with Falcons-Saints going up against a presidential debate that some are opting to refer to in South Parkian terms. Via SBD, the all-time low for Monday Night Football since the NFL switch it from broadcast to cable came in December 2007, with only 8.449 million watching.
Don’t be surprised if Monday night’s numbers are a lot lower.
Former Panthers and Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy has been arrested for drug possession.
NBC 5 in Dallas is reporting that Hardy was arrested in the Dallas suburb of Richardson on Sunday for possession of a controlled substance. He was taken to the Richardson City Jail, where he remained as of Monday afternoon.
There is no immediate word on the substance Hardy possessed, or any information about the circumstances surrounding his arrest.
Hardy was once among the best pass rushers in the NFL, but after the Ray Rice domestic violence incident put the NFL under intense scrutiny, Hardy became toxic for his own past domestic violence arrest. Although charges against Hardy were eventually dropped, he never played for the Panthers again after the Rice elevator video became public.
In 2015 he signed with the Cowboys, but this year no team has shown any interest in him. He was already a long shot to return to the NFL even if he stayed on his best behavior, and a drug arrest could end any hope he had of playing in the NFL again.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has resolved what could have become an ugly legal headache.
Sued by Texas Senator Royce West for $60,000 in damages to rental property, Bryant opted to respond by suing West in return, making strong allegations of misappropriated funds and professional malfeasance.
West didn’t react well to the claims, seeking $500,000 in sanctions against Bryant for making false accusations — accusations that also ensnared longtime Bryant confidant, babysitter, and reputed fixer David Wells.
Given the things West and Wells potentially know about Bryant, the receiver was suddenly juggling hand grenades by fighting with both of them publicly. Bryant has found a way, wisely, to re-insert the pins.
“Dez Bryant and Royce West have settled the disputes between them amicably and have withdrawn all claims and counterclaims,” West attorney Trey Crawford said in a statement provided earlier Monday to PFT and other media outlets.
Confidentiality agreements likely prevent either side from saying more. The fact that West’s lawyer is trumpeting the resolution not-so-subtly implies that West is pleased with the outcome, which quite possibly entails what it should have from the start: Bryant compensating West for any damage to the rental property and Bryant dropping any over-the-top claims that will inflame two men who have been close enough to Bryant to wreak havoc for him, or at least to try to do so.
Fullback Marcel Reece missed the final Raiders game of last season and the first three games of this season after being suspended for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy, but he’s eligible to return to action this week.
He won’t be returning to action with the Raiders, though. The Raiders released Reece on Monday, ending an eight-year run with the organization.
Reece joined the team in 2008 and was a staple in the lineup starting in 2010. Reece ran 183 times for 844 yards and three touchdowns while also catching 205 passes for 2,015 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers helped him make the Pro Bowl four times, although he was ineligible to take the trip to Hawaii last year because of the suspension.
The Raiders signed fullback Jamize Olawale to a three-year extension last December in a move that likely helped clear the way for Reece’s departure before the suspension.
After 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert turned in a terrible performance in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, coach Chip Kelly said he didn’t think about benching Gabbert. That’s in part because backup Colin Kaepernick still isn’t 100 percent healthy after having three offseason surgeries.
Kelly said today that Kaepernick is still working himself back into shape and needs to get stronger before he’d be able to start week in and week out.
“I don’t think he’s ready to go full time,” Kelly said of Kaepernick. “He’s continuing to work on it. I think he’s over there right now. And, Kap will be the first to tell you, if you guys have been around here before, I think his playing weight has been around 225 and he’s not at that right now. So, he’s going out there and continuing to work, continuing to get better. He had a serious layoff in terms of being able to medical rehab. To get the full Kap for what you need, the potential that he has, he needs to continue to just work on the physical aspect of things.”
Asked how close Kaepernick is to 100 percent healthy, Kelly answered, “I don’t know. That’s a good question for him. So, he’ll be able to tell you exactly where he is.”
Kaepernick is healthy enough to be the No. 2 quarterback, which means he’s healthy enough that he could play if Gabbert got hurt. If Gabbert keeps playing the way he’s been playing, Kelly may make a change even if Kaepernick isn’t 100 percent.
The Panthers offense had a slew of problems against the Vikings in Sunday’s 22-10 loss that included a silent day from wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
Benjamin was targeted once and finished the game without a catch, which is a big change for a player who had 13 catches on 21 targets in the first two weeks of the season. It’s one that Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said can’t become a permanent one.
“Yeah, we’ve got to find a way to get him the ball more. That starts with me,” Shula said, via the team’s website. “But we’ve got to make sure we’re doing it in a way that we’re not just trying to force him the ball. … That’s our job — to continue to get our playmakers opportunities. They rolled to him at times but they also had some one-on-ones. But just because teams roll to a receiver doesn’t mean you still can’t get it to him. We just weren’t good enough yesterday.”
Any attempts to get Benjamin the ball will be more successful if there’s actually time for Cam Newton to throw the ball in his direction and there may have been more work for the wideout on Sunday if not for the eight sacks that Carolina allowed to the Vikings.
The NFL and the American Football Coaches Association have reached an agreement on new guidelines that will allow NFL teams to meet, scout and test certain underclass draft prospects nearly a year before they declare — or choose not to declare — for the draft.
The new rules come after many top college coaches, including Nick Saban of Alabama and Urban Meyer of Ohio State, campaigned for greater access and possibly even an underclass combine to prevent young players from making poor decisions about whether or not to enter the draft.
The new agreement, which goes into effect in early 2017, does not include an underclass combine but will allow college programs to designate players eligible for extra scouting and, per the release on the new agreement, those players can be “tested and interviewed prior to their 2017 college seasons at the school’s senior pro day for 2017 draft-eligible players.”
The change marks progress from an antiquated system that basically had scouts pretending like they weren’t evaluating players who weren’t seniors.
“Information is good,” Meyer said in July. “[The players] are getting their information somewhere, so why not get it from the experts — the scouts, the general managers, people who have the right information? They’re getting it from agents and they’re getting it from wannabes, and that’s not good information.”
In 1994 the NFL established an underclass advisory committee that works with the NFL’s two sanctioned scouting organizations to provide pre-draft grades on eligible players who are facing a draft decision. Among the gripes Meyer and other prominent coaches have had with the current system are a lack of time from the end of the college season to the deadline and the lack of access players have had to real opinions from league scouts and executives.
Beginning in February, each school can designate up to five players eligible for additional scouting and will have the opportunity to designate more than five players in certain situations. It basically means that on the 2017 pro day circuit, scouts will also get to evaluate top prospects for future drafts.
“The more information our college advisory committee has, the better evaluations they can make for student-athletes who are at a critical juncture of their lives,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in the statement. “While there is no question that obtaining a college degree is a transformative experience for so many people in society and a goal to which we encourage everyone to aspire to, for those talented few individuals that have the ability to succeed in the NFL prior to exhausting their college football eligibility, this new agreement will ensure they have better information with which to make their decision. We appreciate the efforts of our partners at the AFCA in making this new agreement a reality.”
Ruling Vereen out for the duration of the year was a bit premature, however. The Giants have revised their earlier announcement to say that Vereen will have surgery without ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Vereen could spend eight weeks on injured reserve and be eligible to return to the team later in the year if he’s healthy enough to play. Teams do not have to designate the one player eligible to return until they have been on I.R. for six weeks.
Vereen’s absence comes at a time when Rashad Jennings is dealing with a thumb injury that kept him from playing in Week Three. Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey both saw action during Sunday’s game and coach Ben McAdoo said Monday that fifth-round pick Paul Perkins “is ready to step up.”
McAdoo also said it would be later in the week before the team knows if cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple will be able to play against the Vikings after leaving Sunday’s loss with injuries.
The Jets haven’t made much use of their tight ends in the passing game since Todd Bowles became the team’s head coach last season, but they added one on Monday who came into the league with some potential in that area.
According to multiple reports, the Jets have claimed Austin Seferian-Jenkins off of waivers. Seferian-Jenkins was waived by the Buccaneers on Friday after he was arrested for DUI.
Seferian-Jenkins was a second-round pick in 2014, but only played in 16 games over his first two seasons because of injuries. He then earned the ire of coach Dirk Koetter at practice this offseason and dropped behind Cameron Brate on the depth chart.
He caught 45 passes for 603 yards and seven touchdowns overall for the Bucs, numbers that the current group of Jets tight ends weren’t going. His new team will hope that Seferian-Jenkins can stay healthy and trouble-free enough to add something to an offense that flopped in Kansas City on Sunday.
UPDATE 5:16 p.m. ET: The Jets announced Seferian-Jenkins’ arrival and waived linebacker Julian Stanford.
Things are off to a better start after their Week Three victory. Left guard Alex Boone hurt his hip against the Panthers, forcing him out of the game and necessitating an MRI to evaluate the extent of the injury.
The results of that test haven’t created a great worry for coach Mike Zimmer, who said Monday that Boone “should be OK.”
“I mean, I won’t know until we get out there and practice,” Zimmer said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But, from what I understand he’s doing better.”
The Vikings held up well without their missing pieces against the Panthers, but the more healthy the bodies the better for keeping the wins coming as the season unfolds.
Upon his return to the Steelers after a three-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy, running back Le’Veon Bell told reporters today the issues were “behind me.”
“There shouldn’t be any more off-the-field issues. I apologize to everybody for that,” Bell said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “I just want to move forward. I’m ready to get back on the field and show people what I’m able to do.”
Bell missed the first two games of last season after a DUI charge in which he admitted smoking marijuana on his way to the airport prior to a Steelers preseason game. The latest suspension was for missing tests, which he said was entirely his fault.
But he said his priority now was taking care of himself physically and “whatever it takes for me to be on the field.”
“I’m not a perfect person. I never will be. I’m not going to try to be,” Bell said. “I understand there are some things I can get better at, and I’m going to shoot to get better at them.”
The Steelers could use the jolt he could provide for the offense, after a listless 34-3 loss to the Eagles.
“Once they plug me in, I feel like I’ll go out there and help the guys move the football,” Bell said. “I just want to be a guy that’s reliable, make sure I take care of the football, make plays in situational downs, get in the end zone, help the offense move the ball and win games.”
He also said he had no problem sharing the ball with veteran backup DeAngelo Williams, though no one expects it to be anything near a job share.
Bears Coach John Fox told reporters Monday that quarterback Jay Cutler is “day-to-day” with the thumb injury that kept him out of Sunday’s loss at Dallas.
Fox also gave an interesting answer when he was asked if Cutler will return as the starter when he’s healthy.
“I don’t think there are any givens,” Fox said. “And that’s not an indictment on anybody.”
The 0-3 Bears play the Lions on Sunday. Brian Hoyer started vs. the Cowboys with Cutler out.
Fox said running back Jeremy Langford suffered a sprained ankle in the loss to the Cowboys. He didn’t offer a timetable or any more details on Langford’s injury.
Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan got called for a crucial penalty on the final drive of Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Raiders when he was judged to make a late launch into a pile of Raiders at the end of a catch by Tajae Sharpe that put the Titans on the three-yard-line.
The unnecessary roughness call pushed the Titans back 15 yards, something Lewan apologized to his teammates for after the game while also saying that he “was just doing what I thought was right.” Lewan was also spotted having a conversation with umpire Dan Ferrell while walking off the field during the game. He confirmed to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com that he “absolutely” said some things to Ferrell before the official told him to “f— off.”
“Honestly, he said some things, and whatever,” Lewan said. “It is what it is. The game’s over and regardless of what he said, it’s not gonna change the game or what happened. There’s nothing I can really say about it.”
Lewan was also the subject of a tweet from ESPN college football broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit that called him “an absolute fraud” and a “#FakeToughGuy.” Lewan, a Michigan alum, didn’t take a swing back at the Ohio State alum.
“It’s not my place to comment on that,” Lewan said. “It’s his prerogative. I’m playing in the NFL. He has his job, I have mine, and whether it’s right, wrong or not, it’s not my place to comment on that.”
The Titans appeared to get into the end zone shortly after Lewan’s penalty, although the score was waved off after Andre Johnson was flagged for offensive pass interference.
The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but it doesn’t appear they’ll be using it for a quarterback to provide insurance with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett banged up.
Field Yates of ESPN reports that the team will be signing defensive tackle John Hughes. Hughes was dropped by the Browns last week and he’ll reunite with former Cleveland teammates Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo in New England.
Hughes was a third-round pick by the Browns in 2012, but was never a consistent starter during his time in Cleveland. He made 10 starts in 53 appearances during his time with the team and will be moving into a reserve role for the Patriots as well.
Assuming he sticks around beyond this week, of course. Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich are wrapping up four-game suspensions and space will need to be made for them. As the last one in, Hughes could be the next one out so he may learn that life moves pretty fast at the bottom of the Patriots roster.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham didn’t do anything to get himself suspended in Sunday’s matchup with Redskins cornerback Josh Norman as he avoided running shots to Norman’s head and anything else that would have run afoul of the pregame warnings delivered to both players.
While Beckham kept things together on the field, he didn’t avoid meltdowns altogether. He put on a show on the Giants sideline after an Eli Manning interception in the fourth quarter that saw him take the metal frame of a kicking net to the head after it recoiled from being hit by Beckham.
A FOX camera caught a close-up of Beckham’s face at the end of the tantrum and he appeared to have tears coming out of his eyes. On Monday, Giants coach Ben McAdoo said the wideout needs to do a better job of keeping his emotions in check.
“Emotionally on the sideline in between the series, he needs to do a better job,” McAdoo said, via NJ.com. “That’s all of our responsibilities, mine included. But he needs to control his emotions better and be less of a distraction to himself and his teammates. It’s our job to help him with that process. It takes a village. Communication, having a variety of different people, different coaches, staff members that he can talk to and communicate with, just help him direct his focus.”
Manning did speak to Beckham on the sideline after his tirade and agrees with McAdoo, saying everyone needs to “stay calm” at that point in the game.
Complete emotional detachment is neither reasonable to expect nor a good mindset for a competitive athlete, but the Giants saw the damage that Beckham losing control could do last season. It didn’t have the same on-field impact Sunday, but it was enough that McAdoo felt the need to remind the wideout that it’s not what the team wants to see.