If Tony Gonzalez follows through on his retirement, the Falcons will need an upgrade at tight end. Is that their biggest area of need going into next season?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: End of the line for Gonzalez?
And the veteran tight end thinks there’s no doubt the 36-year-old quarterback will return to form this year, after the compression fractures in his back that will keep him out for some portion of the start of the season. Romo has dealt with back injuries before and returned to play well, and that’s part of what makes Witten so confident.
“I’m not a doctor, I’m not here to give him a sales pitch or anything like that, but I do know what he’s about, I know what his mindset is and he’ll get back quickly and play at a high level,” Witten said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Age is just a number from that standpoint. You can’t allow that to get in the way of what you’re goals are and how hard you worked. He’s had a great off-season, he’s built on a lot of those things.
“He had his best season after the back injury in ’13 going into ’14. People are going to bet against him, that’s fine, and I don’t think that’s unfair to do so. But if you know what he’s about, which everybody in this building does, he’s going to be back sooner than probably expected and he’ll play better than anybody thought he would because I know that’s what he’s about.”
Of course, the Cowboys are buoyed by the fact rookie Dak Prescott had such a good preseason, and they deliberately tried to Romo-proof their offense by drafting running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first round.
But losing their leader is still hard for them.
“On the face of this, it really does hurt,” Witten said. “Tony possesses traits that very few have. When he’s not out there, it’s challenging.
“But I don’t think the expectations adjust any. I think the reason for that is we believe in the construction of this team, that it is strong. One of the things we’re trying to do is build on our offensive line, our run game, play-action game, threats down the field, defense, flying around, getting balls out, play field position. I commend coach [Jason] Garrett for that because he does build this structure around that, that it’s not about one individual.”
The hope is that there will be a season left to play for when he returns. The Cowboys were 1-11 without him last year, and since he took over as the starter in 2006, they’re 78-49 with him and 10-23 without him.
Calvin Johnson won’t be competing for victories on the football field this year, but retirement from the gridiron doesn’t mean he’s giving up competing at all.
ABC announced the cast for the forthcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars” on Tuesday and it includes the former Lions wide receiver. He joins Emmitt Smith, Von Miller, Antonio Brown, Hines Ward and other NFLers as contestants on the long-running show.
Johnson will have some competition from the athletic world in Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and Olympic swimmer/fabulist Ryan Lochte. Vanilla Ice, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Maureen McCormick, a.k.a. Marcia from “The Brady Bunch,” are some of the others who will be showing off their tango moves this year.
Johnson announced his retirement from the Lions this offseason after nine years with the team.
A look at some of the Dolphins’ toughest roster calls.
The Jets aren’t showing much concern about the readiness of the offense.
Injuries will make some Bengals roster decisions more difficult.
The Jaguars have more work to do on the offensive line.
The Titans’ top spot in the waiver order will come in handy in the coming days.
Former Cowboys wide receivers coach Hubbard Alexander died at the age of 77.
The Vikings defense has come together over the course of the preseason.
The Panthers are trying to familiarize themselves with Trevor Siemian ahead of the season opener.
The battle for the final spots at receiver continues for the Buccaneers.
A look at the depth on the Rams defensive line.
The Seahawks have made good use of “empty” formations on offense.
Wolff did and returned to trying to make the Jaguars, an effort that came to an end on Monday when the team announced that the former Eagles fifth-round pick was waived with an injury designation. That was one of 12 moves that the Jaguars made to get to 78 players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to cut to 75 players.
The team also placed offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach on injured reserve and transferred center Luke Bowanko and rookie defensive end Jonathan Woodard, who tore his Achilles in May, on the regular season PUP list.
The Jaguars also waived cornerback Demetrius McCray, linebacker Joplo Bartu, wide receiver Shaq Evans, kicker Sam Ficken, cornerback Mike Hilton, running back Cameron Marshall, punter Ryan Quigley and wide receiver Jamal Robinson.
The Browns might be trying to change things, but one of the guys they just jettisoned can notice an immediate difference at his new address.
Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, student of the game that he is, can tell some differences after joining the Patriots in trade last week when the Browns gave up on him.
“It’s a huge culture shock,” Mingo said, via Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald. “I felt like the winning spirit was making its way into Cleveland with those new coaches, but it’s definitely been established here for a long time, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Mingo said their 2013 season together with the Browns was “gruesome,” which considering a 4-12 record might be kind.
“Jabaal was there my first year, and he carried me along in that long, long year,” he said. “But to have him again is a huge relief. . . .
“It’s very exciting. This team is stacked at every position. They have guys on the outside who can cover. We’ve got interior guys who are holding gaps and linebackers that are hitting those gaps and making big plays. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
As with Sheard, getting into a stable environment and one — successful — scheme should help. Mingo shouldn’t have to worry about a revolving door of coaches, and they have a track record of turning unproductive players into good ones.
Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright returned to practice on Monday for the first time since injuring his hamstring on August 2, but it wasn’t long before he was back on the injured list.
Wright re-injured his hamstring while running a short pass route during what coach Mike Mularkey said was going to be a day of “limited reps” for the wideout. There’s no word on how long Wright will be out this time around, but the receiver says he plans to be back for the season opener.
“It’s not in doubt,” Wright said, via the Tennessean. “I think I’ll be able to play in it. It’s the same thing. Nothing has changed. Same thing, but it doesn’t feel as bad as it did. I think I’ll be able to go Sept. 11.”
Time will tell if Wright is correct and it’s unclear what his role will be when he is healthy enough to play. Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, Andre Johnson and others have been the receivers during the preseason and Mularkey said the team has “operated pretty well without him” this summer.
Quinton Coples didn’t fulfill expectations as a 2012 first-round pick for the Jets and failed to last four full years with the team before getting cut last November.
It didn’t take the Rams nearly that long to decide that the defensive lineman wasn’t for them. Coples was one of 14 players lopped from the roster on Monday as the team moved toward Tuesday’s 75-man limit. Coach Jeff Fisher said Coples worked hard, but there still wasn’t a spot for a player they signed as a free agent this offseason.
“But out of fairness to a player like Q, I didn’t see him making the team, and that’s exactly what I told him,” Fisher said, via the team’s website. “So I wanted to give him a chance — give him an opportunity — to get out there early to see if he could find work. And if not, we’re going to keep the door open for him.”
Quarterback Dylan Thompson, wide receiver Marquez North, wide receiver David Richards, tight end Benson Browne, tight end Jake Stoneburner, running back Zach Laskey, center Brian Folkerts, offensive lineman Jordan Swindle, defensive lineman Zach Colvin, linebacker Darreon Herring, safety Michael Caputo, kicker Taylor Bertolet and long snapper Jeff Overbaugh were the other cuts.
During the long and winding road that led from the AFC title game in 2015 to the four-game suspension that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will serve this year, emails from Brady speculating about Peyton Manning retiring long before him and touching on other thoughts about the Broncos became public.
Brady apologized to Manning, who shrugged it off by saying “I’ve been roasted before and that is not roasted” before mentioning Comedy Central roasts in particular. Manning still hasn’t been the guest of (dis)honor at one, but he took part in a roast of Rob Lowe that will air on the network soon. Clips have been circulating to promote the show, including one that sees Manning quip about Brady and Deflategate while referencing Lowe’s unsuccessful attempt to break the news of Manning’s retirement in 2012.
“But, hey, I don’t worry about Rob Lowe,” Manning said. “He is a workhorse and, heck man, if they ever stop casting you on sitcoms just look on the bright side. You tried to take the air out of my retirement announcement so fast, you can probably get a job as Tom Brady’s ball boy.”
Manning, who regularly called Brady a friend when asked about the Deflategate charges, got a laugh from the crowd but might be the one sending a note of apology this time around.
Jerry Rice is one of the most popular 49ers ever and one of the greatest players in NFL history, so his words on the Colin Kaepernick situation were bound to get plenty of attention. And when Rice weighed in on the matter on Twitter last night, he chose words that are sure to be controversial.
Rice took to Twitter and chastised Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the national anthem. Rice also seemed to chastise the Black Lives Matter movement.
“All lives matter. So much going on in this world today. Can we all just get along! Colin, I respect your stance but don’t disrespect the Flag,” Rice wrote.
Within hours, that tweet had been retweeted and liked several thousand times, and Rice was trending on Twitter. So plenty of people are paying attention.
The words “All lives matter” have become seen as a rebuke to the Black Lives Matter movement, although it’s unclear whether Rice meant it that way.
What Rice clearly meant is to criticize Kaepernick for refusing to stand. Kaepernick has received plenty of criticism from the general public, but he has received mostly support from his fellow NFL players. Rice is making clear that he doesn’t support Kaepernick’s stance.
In trying to talk his way back into another NFL chance, former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla said his “past is the past and it’s going to stay in the past.”
Except, it didn’t.
According to KOIN, Lyerla was arrested Sunday for heroin possession. He was alone in a parked car behind a gas station when police spotted him, and charged him with a felony count of possessing a controlled substance.
Lyerla was arrested for possession of cocaine during his brief but colorful career at Oregon, which also included him quitting the football team and suggesting the Sandy Hook shootings were a government conspiracy. That an NFL team would give him a chance despite all that was an indication of how talented he was in college.
He wasn’t drafted, but the Packers signed him last spring. A knee injury ended his time there, but he was lobbying for another chance after recovering without surgery. It seems unlikely anyone is going to give him one now.
At the very least, it caused his side to make a subtle change.
According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Bosa negotiations resumed after the team’s press release last week, with Bosa shifting the negotiations from one of his co-representatives to the other (in this case, from CAA’s Brian Ayrault to CAA’s Todd France). While that’s easy to portray as a “good cop/bad cop” situation, the reality is both agents were already working for Bosa.
Chargers CFO John Spanos said the offer would only go down, but they were able to reach a compromise yesterday.
“I prefer to keep the details quiet, but I would like to thank Todd France for his professionalism and his help in getting this deal done,” Spanos said.
(All that quote needed was a “no disrespect to Brian Ayrault, but, …” as the Chargers continue to impress with their public relations savvy.)
With that out of the way, Bosa has to worry about his crash course in football to get ready for the opener, as he hasn’t been around the team since June and has two weeks to catch up. He’s done what he could to stay in condition, saying he wasn’t taking it easy in Florida.
“I didn’t think it was fair to the guys out here if I was enjoying time off, partying, doing this, that or the other while they were working,” Bosa said. “I thought I owed it to them and myself to really give it everything I had. . . . I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.”
He also sort-of apologized for his mom saying she regretted not “pulling an Eli Manning,” in a Facebook post, alluding to the quarterback’s successful effort to get traded by the Chargers in 2004.
“What do you expect a mom to do?” Bosa said. “She loves me. She wants what’s best for me, and she made a dumb decision like I have before, saying something I shouldn’t have on social media. She honestly had no idea it was public; she thought she was sending it to someone else. . . . She’s happy I’m here, and I would never turn down an opportunity to be in this situation.”
And after such a long and needlessly awkward situation, the Chargers are too.
The Saints, in their perpetual effort to fix a defense that lacks playmakers, are getting the first crack at former Browns pass-rusher Paul Kruger.
According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, Kruger will visit the Saints today, amid interest from other teams (including, almost certainly, the #MysteryTeam).
The Chiefs would be next on his quick free agency tour, if the Saints let him out of the building.
The Saints tried to sign Kruger in 2013, before the Browns blew him away with a five-year, $40.5 million deal. He’d add some legitimacy to a pass-rush which Saints coach Sean Payton has already labeled “very concerning,” after their last preseason game.
Kruger had just 2.5 sacks last year, but topped out with 11.0 for the Browns in 2014, and he had 9.0 for the Ravens during his salary push in 2012.
But the Saints can’t exactly be picking. It was an area of need anyway, but when 2015 second-rounder Hau’oli Kikaha blew out his knee this summer it became worse.
The Saints also traded for Dolphins backup pass-rusher Chris McCain, evidence they’re going to look under every rock.
The Seahawks are slowly working their way toward the 75-man roster maximum upcoming on Tuesday afternoon.
Brooks was a seventh-round pick out of Clemson in May. He was the third of three running backs Seattle selected in the draft.
Brooks always had an uphill battle for a roster spot. The re-emergence of Christine Michael has added a somewhat unexpected wrinkle to the group as well as Michael appears set to make the roster and contribute alongside Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise this season. Brooks suffered a hamstring injury a week into camp that kept him from making a significant push for a roster spot.
Brooks carried six times for 17 yards and caught one pass for 4 yards in two preseason games with Seattle.
The Seahawks made six moves official on Monday. Seattle released Brandon Browner, placed Sealver Siliga on injured reserve, waived/injured receiver Deshon Foxx and waived defensive end DeAngelo Tyson, wide receiver Montario Hunter and linebacker/fullback Kyle Coleman.
That would leave Seattle with six more moves to make before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday.
Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is working out for supposedly more than 20 Major League Baseball teams on Tuesday in an attempt to become a professional baseball player.
Regardless of the outcome of that showcase, Tebow already has a professional baseball contract offer.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Tebow has been extended a contract by Aguilas del Zulia of the Venezuelan winter-ball league.
“He’s a great talent,” Aguilas general manager Luis Amaro said. “He’s an athlete. He’s won the Heisman. He’s won two national championships. I know baseball is a hard game, but he’ll either adjust and show he’s ready to play pro ball or not. I think it’s low risk, high reward for Zulia.”
Winter ball provides a decent level of competition should Tebow accept the offer to join Aguilas del Zulia. Many young MLB players and players recovering from injuries head to Venezuela to play in the league to continue their development or get live game action to supplement the rehab process.
It would be a decent chance for Tebow to get a start should MLB teams initially pass on offering him a minor league deal.
It’s a long shot for Tebow, but he’s at least getting interest and a chance to chase a career change.
Plenty of people who have reacted to the decision of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to refuse to stand for the national anthem due to his belief that African-Americans and people of color are oppressed in this country by embracing the message but questioning the method. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman took that position in remarks to reporters on Monday.
“Obviously, what he meant to do was in a good place,” Sherman said, via comments distributed by the team. “He wanted to make a stand, anytime you don’t stand during the national anthem people are going to criticize it. That’s the unfortunate part of it, you can’t ever stand against the flag and things like that, a lot of people sacrifice and things like that for it, but there is also a deeper meaning to what he did.
“He’s talking about the oppression of African-Americans in this country and that has been going on for a long time and I think a lot of the focus has shifted away from his message, and for some people rightfully so, to him taking a stand against the nation, etc, etc. I think there’s also things about this nation that people need to remember and take heed of and also acknowledge. This country is also the same country that had whites and colored signs on the bathroom. We’re still in that country, we’re still in that nation, and that need to be acknowledged and that needs to be changed.
“There’s people with that mentality that still exist, and that needs to change. There are still people that treat people of color with subjectivity, they treat them a certain way, they categorize them. They put them in a category, in certain statistics that are put out there to make sure that police profile certain people in certain neighborhoods, and that needs to change. There is some depth and some truth into what he was doing. I think he could have picked a better platform and a better way to do it but every day they say athletes are so robotic and do everything by the book, then when somebody takes a stand like that, he gets his head chopped off.”
Sherman then pointed out that society at large could learn from the color blindness that occurs naturally in competitive sports.
“When you play football you’re not concerned about whether you’re throwing to a black guy or a white guy or orange guy or Asian guy,” Sherman said. “You’re concerned about getting the ball there, executing your job, winning. You’re concerned about playing for the next guy, playing for your brother. I think that’s something the nation can take from sports. The Olympics was also a great example of how different countries — everybody comes together. Nobody’s sitting there saying I’m not going to run against this guy because he’s black, white, orange, blue. They’re running to compete for their nation to win. They don’t care what color the people on their team are. They’re supporting them. They’re supporting their country and that’s how it should be all the time regardless of circumstance. I think it’ll be a long time before we get there but hopefully we’re trending in that way.”
Hopefully we are. In the grand scheme of things. open and blatant racism happened routinely not that many years ago. Changes have been made, but plenty of changes still need to occur. And while Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the national anthem will be criticized, his actions have spurred thought and discussion and reflection about where we are as a people, where we’ve come from, and where we need to go. Our ability to discuss and debate those topics in a frank and civilized manner arguably is reason enough to stand in honor of a flag that gives all citizens of the nation the freedom to react to Kaepernick’s words and actions, to form their own opinions, to express them freely and openly, and possibly to emerge with a better understanding of each other’s positions.