ProFootballTalk: Biggest Super Bowl concerns
Defensive end Randy Gregory will miss the first four games of the 2016 season while serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, but the terms of the ban allowed him to practice and play for the Cowboys in the preseason.
It appears that won’t be happening, however. Ed Werder of ESPN reports that Gregory has checked into a treatment facility and will not be reporting to Cowboys camp, which opens later this week.
There are no specific details about what led Gregory to check into the facility, but Werder’s colleague Adam Schefter reports that Gregory has violated the substance-abuse policy again and now faces an extended suspension. Whatever the term of that suspension, Gregory’s history of problems in this area will make it hard to count on getting anything from him in 2016 or beyond.
With a lukewarm-at-best statement from executive V.P. of football operations Sashi Brown and an unusual reinstatement coupled with a four-game suspension, some wonder whether the Browns will welcome receiver Josh Gordon back with open arms.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus believes they will. Appearing on Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Rosenhaus addressed the basic question of whether the Browns still want Gordon.
“I do believe the Browns are a big part of Josh getting reinstated,” Rosenhaus said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I do believe that Sashi Brown . . . had a lot to do with this. I believe that Hue Jackson is very committed to working with Josh Gordon. I believe that Jim Brown, who’s an integral part of this process who got to know Josh and has served as a mentor in some respects had a lot to do with this. I really do think that the Browns are committed to Josh and want to see him succeed.”
Rosenhaus believes that the earlier-than-expected reinstatement of Gordon arose directly from a meeting that occurred last week with Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“I believe that Commissioner Goodell really got to know Josh,” Rosenhaus said. “I’m convinced that he believed it would be in Josh’s best interests to go to training camp on time this week as opposed to waiting any longer. Being with his teammates, being with his coaches, and the Browns organization is going to put in a very good supporting system in place for Josh with counseling. They’ve got professionals that are going to work with him to support him moving forward so that he can be a successful football player and work within the system. I really believe the Commissioner wanted to give Josh this opportunity at the outset and see if Josh is able to grow from his experiences and make this transition.”
As to the conditional reinstatement combined with a four-game suspension, Rosenhaus recognizes that Goodell opted to depart from the strict language of the substance-abuse policy, which contemplates full excommunication of a player banished with the chance to apply for reinstatement.
“Commissioner Goodell made a major change in my opinion with this decision in that Josh, now during the four games that he is suspended, he can still work with the team,” Rosenhaus said. “That is a huge change from the past. . . . Commissioner Goodell is making a modification here for Josh that I think could benefit not only Josh but other players down the road because it’s very difficult when you’re on suspension as a young player. You need help and you’re basically on your own once you’re suspended. Now Josh can continue to be around his teammates, his coaches, administrators, people in the front office, and counselors from the Browns. That’s huge. They can still work with him, he can stay very close to everything that’s going on and not be on an island and I think that is a huge development and I thank Commissioner Goodell for that. I think this hopefully is a change that can be modified for certain young players going forward.”
Rosenhaus said Monday that Goodell explained the move was also aimed at building bridges with the NFL Players Association at a time when most bridges have been obliterated by a fundamental lack of trust.
This is the time for last-minute roster-tweaking, and for veterans, a last chance to find a chair before training camps begin.
For veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin, that means another trip to Detroit, after his visit in June.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the Lions are finalizing a one-year deal with the veteran wideout today.
Boldin has some familiarity with Lions coach Jim Caldwell from their days together with the Ravens, and he gives the Lions the kind of physical receiver they may have lacked after the retirement of Calvin Johnson this offseason.
His numbers were down last year in San Francisco, but so were everyone else’s, and he’s been a consistently productive player over the course of his 13-year career.
The Ravens parted ways with a veteran tackle when they released Eugene Monroe recently and it looks like they’ll be adding another one to the roster.
Long was the first overall pick of the 2008 draft by the Dolphins and spent five years as a starter in Miami before moving on to two years in the Rams lineup. Injuries slowed him down over the years, however, and he appeared in just four games without making a start while with the Falcons in 2015.
With first-round pick Ronnie Stanley pencilled in at left tackle and Ricky Wagner at right tackle, Long will likely be vying for a backup role in Baltimore.
Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said recently that he didn’t always work as hard as he could have or should have during his first three years in the NFL, but the guy who made Patterson a first-round pick in 2013 seems to think that wasn’t an issue this offseason.
General Manager Rick Spielman called Patterson “probably the premier kickoff returner in the league” and a “big play waiting to happen” before suggesting that the work Patterson put in will open up the possibility of Patterson making some of those big plays on offense.
“Where Cordarrelle has made tremendous strides this year is on his route running ability and becoming a better receiver,” Spielman said, via the team’s website. “He is very tuned in and very focused trying to prove to everybody, including himself, that he’s going to be not just a great athlete with the football in his hands, but a true receiver in the NFL.”
Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell will have big roles on offense for the Vikings this season with Jarius Wright, Charles Johnson and Adam Thielen also back from last season. Patterson’s ability to break a big play is attractive, but he will likely need to show a consistent ability to make all kinds of plays to have a spot in the offensive mix.
Recuperating wide receiver Jordy Nelson told fans to not panic, by giving them something else to panic out about.
According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Packers wideout said the reason he was placed on the physically unable to perform list yesterday had nothing to do with the torn ACL which cost him last season.
“It’s not the ACL. No one needs to freak out,” Nelson said.
Nelson said he tweaked the other knee while working out this offseason, which of course is something different to worry about. According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, Nelson described it has a “hiccup” in the other knee, and said he wasn’t worried about the regular season opener.
I’m sure the Packers faithful will remain calm. All is well.
Ed Werder of ESPN reports that the team has discussed adding Hardy, who spent five years with the Panthers and last season in Dallas.
Werder points out that cornerback Josh Norman would vouch for Hardy, based on their mutual time together in Charlotte. The bigger question is whether Washington would be willing to withstand the potential P.R. fallout from adding Hardy.
Last week, the Jaguars worked out Hardy without much of a major negative reaction. Even if Washington would be criticized for giving Hardy another second chance based on his domestic violence incident from two years ago, the franchise knows a thing or two about ignoring criticism and moving forward.
Hardy has played defensive end in a 4-3 defense throughout his career. In Washington, Hardy would become a linebacker in the 3-4 attack. Ultimately, his primary role would be to rush the passer from the edge of the defensive line. That’s a skill that remains the same regardless of defensive alignment.
When the Packers players reported for training camp on Monday, coach Mike McCarthy said that he thinks quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the best shape he’s been in during their time together.
McCarthy didn’t share his thoughts about running back Eddie Lacy’s condition, which was of interest after McCarthy opened up the offseason by saying that Lacy was too heavy last season. Lacy’s fitness came up on Tuesday as the Packers got set for their first practice of camp and the review was positive, although McCarthy added that it would be the last.
“Eddie is ready,” McCarthy said, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m done talking about people’s weight. I felt like I gave an honest answer.”
If the Packers had doubts about Lacy’s condition, they could have put him on the PUP list to open camp but he was given the green light to get on the field Tuesday. A return to form for Lacy this year would be a big positive for the Packers offense and for his own earning potential as he enters the final year of his rookie deal.
That’s where Short expects to be, at some point.
With camp approaching, Short hasn’t changed his mind about showing up and laying the foundation for a great contract year. With a base salary of $1.036 million and daily fines of $40,000, Short realizes the short-term economics don’t favor a holdout. The long-term economics have Short targeting a deal worth $17 million per year or more come 2017.
The Panthers, of course, will have the ability to apply the franchise tag to Short. The Panthers did just that with cornerback Josh Norman, only to rescind the tag in late April after apparently becoming exasperated with Norman’s demands and/or concerned he’d stay away until days before Week One of the regular season.
A tag on Short could prompt a deliberate effort to get the tag rescinded. Or it could spark a long-term contract before the July 15 deadline a year from now. Or the Panthers could sign him before applying the tag.
It’s also possible that the Panthers will simply let Short leave via free agency, given the abundance of interior defensive linemen and confidence they can find and coach up more.
Either way, barring serious injury or an unexpectedly steep decline in his play, Short is going to get paid.
Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones isn’t saying what substance he took to earn him a four-game suspension in the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. But he is saying it’s something he took legally, and accidentally.
In addition to blaming his suspension on failing to read the ingredients list on a supplement, Jones pointed out today that a lot of perfectly legal medications have banned substances in them.
“I mean with the NFL you can take too much cough syrup and it says PED,” Jones said, in comments distributed by the Colts. “I’m not going to get into too much detail over that.”
Jones is correct about that: The full list of banned substances under the NFL’s PED policy includes pseudoephedrine, which is found in common cold medicines like Sudafed. However, the NFL allows the use of pseudoephedrine if a player can document that he was taking it for cold relief, on the recommendation of a team doctor.
What Jones actually tested positive for has still not been released and may never be. Jones has declined to say, and the NFL doesn’t release details of PED tests. If it was as innocent as taking an over-the-counter medication without scrutinizing the ingredients list, Jones might be better off, from a PR standpoint, explaining exactly what he took.
The Falcons cut the most prolific return man in NFL history Tuesday, but it wasn’t because he was having a hard time staying on the field.
According to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said health issues weren’t the reason they parted ways Tuesday.
“He passed his [pre-camp] physical,” Dimitroff said. “It was a football decision for us in the end. Not to be evasive about it, but we wish him a lot of luck and we think it’s best for the organization for us to move forward.”
The 33-year-old Hester missed most of last season with a big toe injury and hadn’t participated this offseason while recovering from surgery. But he did play the final five games of last season, though he didn’t make many plays and only played one snap of offense.
Over his career, he has set league records for total return touchdowns (20) and punt return touchdowns (14), but the combination of age and rule changes which lessen the impact of return men made him expendable.
There’s also the small matter of the $3 million in base salary he was owed this season, which was likely as much of a factor as any.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Tuesday the official list of presenters for the eight-man class of 2016 that will be inducted next week.
The group of presenters includes Hall of Fame coaches Marv Levy and John Madden; Colts owner Jim Irsay; longtime coach Dom Capers; Brett Favre’s wife, Deanna; and Lisa DeBartolo, the daughter of former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.
Deanna Favre will become just the second wife to serve as her husband’s presenter, while Lisa DeBartolo will become the fifth daughter to present her father.
Former Rams tackle Orlando Pace will be presented by his son, Justin. Tony Dungy will be presented by his former teammate, Donnie Shell.
Capers will present former Panthers, Steelers, Rams and 49ers linebacker Kevin Greene. Irsay will present former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Madden will present former Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, while Marv Levy will present former Lions guard Dick Stanfel.
The class of 2016 will be inducted Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.
Word came from the NFL on Monday that Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been conditionally reinstated from the suspension that kept him off the field last season.
Gordon will still be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, but he’s eligible to practice and play with the team during the preseason. That left the Browns in need of a spot on the 90-man roster for Gordon.
They created it by announcing that they have waived defensive back A.J. Stamps. Stamps signed with the team in early May after going undrafted out of Kentucky and will become a free agent if he passes through waivers unclaimed.
The Browns hold their first training camp practice on Friday. Gordon reported to the team’s facility Tuesday to take a physical ahead of what will be his first on-field action with the team in a long time.
Unlike ESPN, NFL Network hasn’t undergone significant upheaval among its throng of players-turned-analysts. But one fairly big name with a gold jacket could be going elsewhere.
Via Michael McCarthy of Sporting News, Michael Irvin’s contract at NFLN will expire before the start of the 2016 season.
The timing is a bit odd; it’s far better for these deals to expire before other networks have finalized their lineups for the coming campaign. The fact that the news is trickling out now suggests that Irvin hasn’t gotten the kind of financial offer he wants to stay put. If other networks show interest, NFL Network may up the ante.
Per McCarthy, the league-owned network hopes to keep Irvin around.
If Irvin leaves, there aren’t many other options. NBC, CBS, and FOX presumably don’t have open seats. McCarthy calls ESPN a “natural landing spot,” given that Irvin worked there from 2003 to 2007.
Still, Irvin’s first stint in Bristol was rocky at times. In 2005, ESPN suspended Irvin after he failed to disclose that he had been arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. Also, former ESPN ombudsman George Solomon criticized remarks from Irvin suggesting that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s speed can be attributed to possible African-American ancestry.
When the Dolphins drafted cornerback Xavien Howard in the second round of this year’s draft, he immediately became a contender for a starting job in the secondary.
His push for that job or another prominent role early in his first season hit a snag heading into camp, however. Howard needed to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee after getting hurt on the final day of Dolphins minicamp and coach Adam Gase said Tuesday that Howard will open camp on the physically unable to perform list while he recovers.
Gase said, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, that the team expects to have Howard back on the field by the first regular season game at the latest. That timeline may not leave the rookie with enough time to show he’s ready to handle a regular role on defense in the opening weeks.