PFT Live: More impressive: Kaepernick or Lewis?
The Cowboys got a double dose of bad news on Thursday.
In addition to announcing that linebacker Rolando McClain will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season because of another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, they also passed along word that defensive end Demarcus Lawrence’s four-game suspension under the same policy has been upheld by the league.
Defensive end Randy Gregory rounds out the trio of Cowboys defenders who will open up the season serving suspensions, which should make it difficult for the Cowboys to realize any significant immediate improvement over last year’s lackluster performance on that side of the ball. Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, Ryan Russell and David Irving are among the options for the team at defensive end while Gregory and Lawrence are out of the picture.
After the Cowboys drafted running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first round, owner Jerry Jones said the team hoped his presence would lead to more possession on offense, fewer plays for the defense and, as a result, a better performance from that unit. It may have to if the Cowboys are going to improve on last year’s results.
The list of Cowboys defensive players serving a suspension to open the season has reportedly gotten longer.
Adam Schefter and Todd Archer of ESPN reported that linebacker Rolando McClain will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season on Thursday afternoon and the Cowboys passed along the same word a short time later. It’s a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, which was also the reason why McClain was suspended for the first four games of last season.
McClain re-signed with the Cowboys this offseason after making 80 tackles and an interception in 11 starts for the team after his suspension came to an end last year. McClain missed the voluntary portion of the team’s offseason program, which owner Jerry Jones said was so he could spend time with his kids although coach Jason Garrett seemed less sanguine about his absence.
With McClain out of the picture, the Cowboys will have to shuffle the deck at linebacker. Sean Lee will start with Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber’s experience starting last year likely putting them ahead of Andrew Gachkar, Damien Wilson and Keith Smith for the other two spots.
Seahawks rookie quarterback Trevone Boykin will avoid jail time after pleading down from an assault charge, and will get to satisfy his probation while in Seattle.
That’s good news for the team, as he’s pretty much their No. 2 quarterback at this point.
According to Stephen Cohen of SeattlePI.com, Boykin pleaded no contest to charges of resisting arrest from the New Year’s Eve incident. He was initially charged with a misdemeanor count of assault after getting in a bar fight in San Antonio, which cost him a chance to finish his TCU career in the Alamo Bowl.
Boykin was given a year’s probation and fined $1,500 and court costs. The Bexar County Court judge will allow him to fulfill his 80 hours of community service and anger management course while he’s in Seattle this fall.
At the moment, the undrafted rookie is the backup to Russell Wilson, as Jake Heaps is the only other quarterback on the roster. There was a possibility that they might re-acquire Tarvaris Jackson, though that seems less likely after he threatened to kill his wife last week.
During the second round of the 2015 NFL draft, the Cardinals were sitting at No. 55 and knew exactly who they wanted: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah.
There was just one problem: The Lions wanted Abdullah, too. And the Lions picked 54th.
The new Amazon series All or Nothing reveals that. All or Nothing, which debuts Friday on Amazon Prime, documents the Cardinals’ 2015 season, including the draft — when the Cardinals were so close to taking Abdullah that they had him on the phone in their draft room, and coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Steve Keim were celebrating that they were about to add the player they wanted.
“We’ve been talking about this pick since the Combine,” Arians said. Keim added, “I liked him a lot.”
And then Abdullah gave the Cardinals some bad news: He had another call coming in, and it was from Detroit.
“Detroit’s calling him right now,” announced one dejected voice within the Cardinals’ draft room. “You’re kidding me!” said another.
The Lions took Abdullah with the 54th pick, so the Cardinals, no longer having the guy they wanted at 55, traded down. The Cardinals got a running back, David Johnson, in the third round.
As it turned out, Abdullah and Johnson were fairly similar players as rookies: Abdullah ran for 597 yards, added 183 receiving yards and 1,077 kickoff return yards. Johnson had 581 rushing yards, 457 receiving yards and 598 kickoff return yards. Johnson played well enough that losing out on Abdullah didn’t hurt in the long run, even if it hurt on draft day.
It appears the Browns are down to four quarterbacks.
Connor Shaw said goodbye to Cleveland in a Twitter post on Thursday that said he “learned and grew a lot” during his two years with the team. There’s been no official word from the Browns at this point, but a move was expected with the Browns also carrying Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Austin Davis and rookie Cody Kessler.
Shaw signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and spent most of the year on the practice squad before getting tabbed to start the regular season finale. He went 14-of-28 for 177 yards and an interception and spent last season on injured reserve after a preseason thumb injury.
The Browns said this offseason that every quarterback on the roster was competing to start, but the signs pointed to Griffin as their on-field work unfolded. Things will pick back up in training camp without Shaw in the mix.
UPDATE 3:14 p.m. ET: The Browns announced that Shaw has been waived.
When the Browns cut quarterback Johnny Manziel after two years of his four-year contract and no team claimed the contract on waivers, the Browns landed on the hook for the remaining guaranteed money in his contract.
His salary of $1.169 million is fully guaranteed for 2016, along with $1.004 million of his 2017 salary. But the contract, as PFT previously has explained, contemplates the voiding of the guarantees for a variety of reasons.
One of the triggers is an NFL-imposed suspension. Which means that the Browns, if the report of a Manziel suspension is accurate, could avoid the $2.173 million in guaranteed money he’s still owed.
The biggest question in this regard relates to the impact of the team waiving him before he was suspended. For example, there’s no way that the Browns would be able to recover signing bonus money due to the suspension, given that he’s no longer on the team. Ultimately, lawyers could be tussling over whether a team can void guarantees due to a suspension occurring after the player’s contract was terminated.
Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson will have to sit out the team’s Week One game against the Bengals.
The NFL announced today that Richardson is suspended for one game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Richardson will have to miss all practices during the first week of the season but is eligible for training camp and the preseason as normal.
Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in January in connection with an arrest last summer for driving 143 miles an hour while evading police with a 12-year-old in the car. He was not charged with child endangerment, nor was he charged with any drug offenses even though police said they smelled marijuana.
Last month, Richardson said he wasn’t sure if he would be suspended and was trying to move on. He’ll be able to move on, but only after missing Week One.
With the likelihood of the Chargers obtaining taxpayer funding for a new stadium in San Diego taking a major hit via a recent ruling of the California Supreme Court, the team’s geographic future has become even more uncertain.
With a 66.6 percent supermajority now needed to justify public money, a new stadium in San Diego becomes a virtual impossibility. So what are the other options?
First, the Chargers could exercise their right to join the Rams in Los Angeles. The Chargers, however, have questions about the economics of being the second team in the facility. Efforts currently are being made to determine the dollars and cents of sharing space with the Rams. The Chargers have until January 2017 to make a decision.
Second, they could stay at Qualcomm Stadium, where the lease runs through 2020. At that point, San Diego may ask the team to make needed repairs as part of a new lease, which could trigger an impasse.
Third, the Chargers could consider moving to Las Vegas, which has been linked to the Raiders. This would result in two franchises that not long ago were partners in an effort to move to L.A. becoming adversaries in a chase for Sin City.
Fourth, a move to the San Gabriel Valley isn’t out of the question, to Ed Roski’s long-forgotten-but-still-shovel-ready City of Industry site.
Fifth, San Antonio or Austin is an option, but the existing Texas teams would oppose a third team on their turf.
Sixth, the Chargers could move to London or Toronto or some other international market. However, that option is regarded as the least likely of the six.
However it plays out, the Chargers most likely won’t be playing in a new stadium in San Diego.
NFL suspensions routinely come down on Fridays, which I’m sure is coincidental. The Friday before a holiday weekend would be a perfect time to drop one, especially if it was a big one.
And one might be on the way, a little earlier than expected.
According to TMZ, former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel will be suspended the first four games of the coming season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The report specifies that the suspension is for substance abuse, though the league was also looking into Manziel under the personal conduct policy after his incident with his ex-girlfriend.
At the moment, it’s kind of a moot point, since Manziel is not on a roster and hasn’t shown any indication of being ready to join one.
He did vow to get “completely sober” tomorrow, though at this stage taking him at his word for anything seems ill-advised. But if he’s suspended by the league, he’d be subject to further testing and mandatory compliance with a treatment plan.
So perhaps with the NFL saying it wanted to help Manziel, getting him into the program might be the best way to guarantee he gets the help he needs, if he’s serious about making a comeback.
NFL players are off until training camp, but Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler is working. And putting his wife to work as well.
Osweiler is trying to learn the playbook so that he’ll have it down pat by the time his first training camp in Houston begins, and so he has his wife quizzing him by reading plays and then making him describe exactly what his responsibilities are.
“My wife will act as the offensive coordinator at times during the evening,” Osweiler told ESPN. “I’ll have her read the full play to me. I’ll sit there and try to picture it, spit it back out to her, make sure I’m verbalizing it the right way so that when I step into the huddle the next day in practice, things are coming out clear.”
In his new environment, Osweiler feels like the new kid in school.
“That’s the playbook, that’s getting to know your teammates. Understanding the ins and the outs and the operation and style of this building and how our strength staff operates,” he said. “It’s like the first day of school and going to a new school. Who’s going to be my new best friend? What’s our teacher like? I can’t wait to see the playground, maybe our weight room and cafeteria.”
When training camps open next month, the Texans need the new kid in school to quickly become the leader of the franchise.
Cardinals running back David Johnson showed flashes of his potential as a rookie. In 2016, his team expects a lot more. And Johnson is fine with that.
Appearing on Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Johnson made it clear that he embraces the high expectations that people like coach Bruce Arians have established for him.
“I can’t say after one year’s work that he is one of the best, but he’s got a chance to be one of the all-time best,” Arians has said.
Those high expectations were fueled in large part by Johnson’s 187-yard, three-touchdown performance in prime time against the Eagles. Entering the 2016 season as the starter, the Cardinals will be hoping for more games like that.
Regardless of how his second season goes, Johnson already achieved more than many scouts thought he would. Johnson said that, at the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine, plenty of personnel people didn’t know who the Northern Iowa product was, with some thinking based on his size that he was a linebacker.
Plenty of linebackers likely will be wishing Johnson played linebacker, and the Cardinals are undoubtedly grateful that no one else figured out who he is and what he can do before they made him a third-round pick last year.
The Saints’ wide receiver depth chart is so full of young players that the experienced veteran of the group, Brandin Cooks, is 22 years old. But Saints quarterback Drew Brees is not concerned about that.
Brees told the New Orleans Advocate that young receivers Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman and Michael Thomas are, along with Cooks, perfectly capable of picking up the Saints’ offense and playing the way the Saints need them to play.
“I am not worried about the inexperience, if you are just talking about years and games played,” Brees said. “I feel like the time on task between all of us is pretty significant when you are talking about the practice reps and the time that we spend away from this facility together. I think they’re quick studies; they’re all hard-working guys that are very smart, intelligent and hungry.”
The Saints’ passing game was good last season with Cooks and Snead as the top two wide receivers, and the addition of Thomas in the second round of the draft should help. There are questions about whether the Saints’ defense will be good enough, but Brees thinks the offense will be as good as ever.
When the Vikings were at the Scouting Combine earlier this year, General Manager Rick Spielman said that the team was using analytics to derive data beyond 40 times and bench press totals.
Spielman called it “another tool” the team could use to evaluate players and it is something that the team appears set to do more of in the future. The Vikings announced Thursday that they have promoted pro scout Scott Kuhn to the role of director of analytics.
“Scott’s aptitude to analyze the tremendous amount of data that is available to us today will be a huge benefit for all of our football operations,” Spielman said in a statement. “Scott’s work ethic and knowledge that he has demonstrated made this an easy decision to promote him to this new position.”
The Vikings also named Anne Doepner their director of football administration in the shuffling of roles in their front office ahead of the 2016 season.
Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly was one of the most prolific scorers in his sport, even though he never won a title.
So perhaps as well as anyone, he understands how soccer star Lionel Messi feels, and wants him to know things could be much worse.
Messi couldn’t lead Argentina to a Copa America title last week, with his missed penalty kick serving as his personal Scott Norwood moment. It was his fourth loss in a championship game for his country, along with Copa America finals in 2007 and 2015 and the 2014 World Cup.
Kelly lost four Super Bowls with the Bills, so the agony of coming so close is something he knows.
“The bottom line is, you go out there, you play your heart out,” Kelly said he’d tell Messi, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. “You know you’re one person on the team of a lot. Yeah, when you’re the star, there’s the old cliche, ‘You get too much of the praise when you win, too much of the blame when you lose.’ The thing is, for me, I knew that I had teammates. We all played together. We won as a team; we lost as a team.
“For me, I don’t cry about it. Yeah, of course, I would love to have won one, two [Super Bowls]. I would have loved to win them all. It just wasn’t in the good Lord’s plans. I tried, I busted my butt. It just didn’t happen. Go out and enjoy yourself.”
Messi hinted at retiring from international competition after Sunday’s loss, something Kelly didn’t do while he was playing.
And perhaps his own battle with cancer has given Kelly a different perspective, but he’s also far enough removed from his Hall of Fame career to understand that no matter how brilliant the player, one can’t win a championship alone.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul does more than talk about fireworks safety in his new public service announcement — he shows what can happen.
The safety PSA he made with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which debuted this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America” can be viewed in full here.
Pierre-Paul lost a large portion of his right hand including his entire index finger last July 4th when an explosive went off in his hand before he could get rid of it.
“In a split second it blew off my whole hand,” Pierre-Paul said. “All I could do was think about my son and was I going to make it. Now I’m truly blessed to be alive. Now when I look at fireworks I think about safety.”
The image of what’s left of his hand ought to serve as a visceral reminder, especially as the nation’s amateur pyrotechnicians emerge for their biggest annual celebration.