Green Bay Packers DB Casey Hayward joins PFT Live to discuss his breakout rookie campaign, and how he helped the Packers’ defense rebound from a last place squad in 2011 to a much improved unit in 2012. Hayward also says if he wins the Defensive Rookie of the Year award it will legitimize his rookie campaign, and discusses the double-edged sword of the defensive back position.
PFT Live: Hayward, Packers focus on next season
Tim Tebow doesn’t sleep. He waits.
Tim Tebow has counted to infinity. Twice.
When Tim Tebow does pushups, he isn’t lifting himself. He’s pushing the earth down.
Yes, we can now take Chuck Norris Facts and turn them into Tim Tebow Facts, because the man himself, Chuck Norris, has given Tebow his seal of approval. Norris wrote a column in which he decried Tebow’s current unemployment and said that Tebow is a lot like Norris himself.
“Tebow is a player who rises to the occasion and delivers big in critical game moments,” Norris wrote. “He reminds me of myself when I used to compete in martial arts. I would spar with my black belts in class, and sometimes they would outscore me. Yet in the tournaments, I would defeat them. My students used to ask me, ‘Why can we contend equally against you in class, but we can’t beat you in the tournaments?’ My answer was always the same, ‘When it counts, I rise to the occasion.’ The same is true of the former Heisman Trophy winner: When pressure mounts and the game is on the line, Tim’s turbo turns on!”
Truthfully, Norris should probably stick with the roundhouse kicks and leave the football analysis to others, because his analysis of Tebow leaves a lot to be desired. If it’s true that when it counts, Tebow (like Norris) rises to the occasion, how are we to explain Tebow’s last game as a starter? That was in the playoffs following the 2011 season, and Tebow went 9-for-26 for 136 yards as the Broncos lost to the Patriots, 45-10.
Norris refers to Tebow as the “ultimate clutch player,” but this NFL season, Tebow is probably going to be missing in action.
As everyone was focused on when and if unsigned Giants receiver Victor Cruz will rejoin the team, the other big-name player at that same position who has a contract opted to skip OTA practice on Wednesday.
The situation, and the head coach’s reaction, create some potential problems for the Giants.
Throughout the offseason, we’ve pointed out the link between Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Cruz has no contract now, Nicks will have no contract in a year. If Cruz ultimately signs his one-year restricted free agency tender, both will be hitting the market in 2014 — and the team will have only one franchise tender to apply.
It has been believed in some circles that Nicks’ demands will be driven by what Cruz gets. As one league source with knowledge of the situation has explained it to PFT, Nicks doesn’t care what Cruz gets, because Cruz is a slot receiver. Nicks, an outside receiver, had his value set by Mike Wallace’s contract in Miami.
While this doesn’t mean Nicks will be looking for $12 million per year, it does mean that Nicks doesn’t regard Cruz’s deal as being relevant to his.
Nicks’ absence from practice on Wednesday undoubtedly means that Nicks isn’t happy with the team’s efforts, or lack thereof, to address his contract with one year remaining on his rookie deal. With Nicks saying nothing to dispel that notion, it’s safe to assume Nicks was sending a clear message to the team.
The other problem for the Giants comes from the message coach Tom Coughlin sent in response to Nicks’ decision to skip practice.
“He should be here,” Coughlin said. “I expect everybody here. We’re trying to get our team better.”
Under the pre-2011 labor deals, coaches routinely made public comments suggesting that voluntary workouts aren’t truly voluntary, and the NFL and the union rarely if ever did anything about it. As time went by, with more coaches saying things like “he should be here” and the league and the NFLPA doing nothing, coaches were emboldened to keep doing it.
The new CBA, however, added significant restrictions to offseason workouts, along with a clear commitment to eradicate contact from offseason drills. The CBA also repeated the unequivocal statement that “[n]o Club official may indicate to a player that the Club’s offseason workout program or classroom instruction is not voluntary.”
Last week, Jets coach Rex Ryan danced toward that line by calling out linebacker Quinton Coples for his perceived lack of effort at voluntary lifting sessions. This week, Coughlin jumped over the line by saying that Nicks and every other player “should be here.” If the league and union allow those comments to stand uncorrected, other coaches will follow suit, either this year or in the future.
The fact that the comment came from the coach of the team co-owned by John Mara adds some intrigue to this specific situation. For more than a year, Cowboys and Redskins fans have been riled up by Mara’s role in the stripping of $46 million in total salary-cap space from two of the Giants’ NFC East rivals. The Cowboys and Redskins, however, broke no rules.
Here, Coughlin clearly did. The only question is whether the rule will be enforced. Cowboys and Redskins fans, whose teams were punished for rules they didn’t break, surely will be watching closely.
Former Bills (and Oklahoma State) running back Thurman Thomas is making plans to go back to Oklahoma to help recovery efforts after this week’s tornado.
For all the money the Dolphins spent this offseason, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald still sees plenty of questions.
Area business leaders are fired up about the mere suggestion the Patriots could host a Super Bowl.
Beware the premature signing reports on undrafted rookies, as one Browns prospect found out.
The Texans’ and Houston’s successful Super Bowl bid was helped by the area’s Hispanic ties.
All four Broncos in the Pro Football Hall of Fame gathered for the first time to honor owner Pat Bowlen.
The Giants have a three-way competition for the vacant MLB job.
A multitude of options will make the Eagles RB position one to watch in camp.
The Urlacher retirement should quiet the talk of him joining the Vikings (though we suspect it will come up again, thanks Brett).
Saints coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis talk about the beginning of OTAs.
Rams rookie LB Ray Ray Armstrong is trying to make the most of his chance at a new position.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is in the final year of his contract, a deal that will pay him more than $14 million for the 2013 season.
Allen’s cap number is $17 million, which led some to wonder if the Vikings might try to find some way to make Allen’s number lower for this season so that they could use some of that cap space in other ways. That could be accomplished through an extension that guarantees Allen stays in Minnesota for several years or some other kind of restructuring of the current deal, but Allen says that neither option has been on the table this offseason.
“You use the word restructure and that to me makes it feel like they’d want me to take a pay cut. And if anybody asked me to take a pay cut, I’d be through the first door out of there. So no. We haven’t talked one iota. It is what it is,” Allen said, via Dan Wiederer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “And we’re going to go about our business and play good ball and try to win a Super Bowl. And like I said the business stuff? We take care of that in the offseason. I have people to do that. That’s why I don’t get into it. You’re not going to hear it from me. I won’t complain. I go about my business.”
We can’t argue with Allen when it comes to the idea of somehow taking less money from the Vikings. His play has done nothing to warrant any such approach and he’d be correct to reject it out of hand.
An extension seems much more sensible, although the Vikings may have been cautious about it thanks to Allen’s knee and shoulder surgery early in the offseason or the fact that he just turned 31. Unless the two sides plan to start talking in the next couple of months, it looks like Allen’s status will be one of the big stories come the start of next offseason.
Lions running back Reggie Bush is setting the bar high with his new team.
Bush said at the Lions’ Organized Team Activities on Wednesday that while he may have lived in more glamorous places than Detroit in the past (having played his college football in Los Angeles and his pro football in New Orleans and Miami), that doesn’t matter because he’s all business with the Lions. And he thinks the Lions are ready to get down to business.
“I came here to work,” Bush said, via the Detroit News. “I didn’t come here to vacation. I came here to win championships, to win football games, and that’s what I look forward to doing.”
Bush hinted that he’s happier with the Lions than he had been with the Saints and Dolphins.
“Some guys have been asking me, ‘How was Miami? How was South Beach,’” he said. “I tell them, you know, it’s nice but if the football isn’t right, it doesn’t matter where you are at. If your work isn’t right, you are not going to be happy. As long as we take care of business here, this can be an amazing place. I think it has a lot to offer. I look forward to getting into that stadium and hearing those fans be as loud as ever.”
If Bush really can help the Lions become a championship-caliber team, Lions fans will be louder than ever.
Some players are held up from joining their NFL team until their college class graduates.
But for Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, the degree he received yesterday is far more important.
According to Chris Roth of WBAY in Green Bay, Jolly was in a Houston courtroom Wednesday, receiving a diploma for completing a drug treatment program, which was the final step in his attempted return to the Packers.
“I know I’ve seen a change, and I know your family has seen a change, and we are just so darn proud of you today just for the progress that you’ve made,” said judge Denise Bradley, who originally sentenced him. “I didn’t know if we would see this day happen.”
Jolly hasn’t played since 2009, when he was suspended for multiple drug arrests. The Packers have been willing to give him a chance, but the progress he’s made off the field is the only reason.
“[Judge Bradley] seen something in me,” Jolly said. “Even though she gave me the sentence, she saw something in me. Today I stand here a free man.
“My life is going great. I’m back with my team, the Packers. I just want to thank her. She’s done a really good thing for me. That was a blessing.”
The Packers sent director of player development Rob Davis and senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith to Houston for the ceremony, another sign they’re backing his attempt.
He’s rejoining the team for OTAs next week, with no illusions about his chances.
“I don’t know anyone who sat out three years and was able to go back to the same team,” Jolly acknowledged. “I met with the Packers a couple of weeks ago. They understand my situation and they are willing to be there for me, so I’m just doing everything I can to be in shape and do everything I need to do for my team.
“They have been there, and I’m going up there to do my best to show them what they want to see this year. So I’ll be doing everything in my power to get ready.”
If he gets back on the field, it will be impressive. But not as much as the comeback he just authored.
Despite a roll back in the amount of offseason work and the amount of contact allowed during OTAs as dictated by the new collective bargaining agreement, the past couple weeks have already produced a handful of serious injuries.
The San Francisco 49ers lost wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a torn Achilles on Tuesday. Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Greg Scruggs tore his ACL during routine drills prior to the NFL Draft and San Diego Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram tore his ACL as well.. Now New York Giants fullback Henry Hynoski is the next up to be dealt a potentially serious blow.
According to Dave Hutchinson of the Newark Star-Ledger, Hynoski injured his left knee during the Giants first OTA workout on Wednesday and will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
Hynoski collided with running back Andre Brown and fell to the turf during a full team drill before being carted off the field.
“He kind of got (his leg rolled up on) and so we are taking a look at that,” head coach Tom Coughlin said. “I said a few prayers and I’ll continue until I hear what it is.”
Hynoski appeared in all 16 games for the Giants last season. He carried the ball five times for 20 yards and caught 11 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Bear Pascoe will likely pick up the duty in the backfield if Hynoski is going to miss a significant portion of time.
The Carolina Panthers added another linebacker to their roster Wednesday by claiming Ryan Rau off waivers from the Cleveland Browns.
Rau was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Portland State University by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. He was released by the Eagles at the end of training camp but re-signed to the team’s practice squad, where he spent most of the season. He was elevated to the active roster in December and appeared in four games for the Eagles and made three tackles.
He was released by the Eagles in April before being claimed by the Browns the next day. The Browns then placed Rau on waivers Wednesday. The Panthers also waived/injured tight end Logan Brock.
Back in February, the thought of wide receiver Ramses Barden remaining with the New York Giants appeared to be a long-shot. Barden, a third-round pick of the Giants in 2009, was vocal about his desire to find a different opportunity after four years in New York and still struggling to find a role.
However, the open market appears to have not been as kind to Barden as he may have hoped.
According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, Barden is scheduled to undergo a physical with the Giants on Thursday. If all goes the plan, he could re-sign with the team by the end of the day.
Barden said “it’s probably best for me to start looking other places” during an interview with Sirius XM Radio in late-February. After limited interest, discussions with the Giants picked up again within the last week, per Vacchiano. Barden has struggled to find playing time with the Giants. He’s managed to catch just 29 passes for 394 yards in four seasons with the team.
With receiver Michael Crabtree out indefinitely due to a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered on Tuesday, the 49ers now must decide how to replace him.
Coach Jim Harbaugh has opted not to disclose whether they team will consider adding players not currently on the team.
“We don’t comment on anybody but the players that we have here on this team,” Harbaugh told reporters on Wednesday, via quotes distributed by the 49ers.
It sounds like the 49ers initially will hope that players currently on the roster will step up.
“You look at the young receivers on our team that will emerge, because they have to emerge,” Harbaugh said. “So, [I'm] excited to watch them compete for that spot.”
Asked specifically whether Randy Moss could return to the team, Harbaugh reiterated his non-response response.
“We’re excited for the young receivers that we have,” Harbaugh said. “Really feel that somebody’s going to emerge there because they have to. And competition will create that. And we’ll look forward to watching that.”
At least Harbaugh used more than a few words to evade the question. Asked about the possible return of Moss, quarterback Colin Kaepernick simply said, “That’s not my decision.”
Harbaugh explained how the injury happened, and he emphasized that the 49ers don’t anticipate the injury will end Crabtree’s season.
“He was coming in motion and just was planted and started a route,” Harbaugh said. “And [it] felt like somebody kicked him in the Achilles, which sometimes people say it feels like. But, good news is he woke up from the surgery and first thing he asked [the doctor] how it went. So, he talked about the success of the surgery and that didn’t anticipate that he’d be out for the year. And his comment to that was he’s got no choice but to be back. So, every day now is a healing day. And that starts today.”
The effort to find an internal replacement starts today, too. And possibly the effort to find an external replacement.
With defensive back Charles Woodson returning to the Raiders, there’s a minor problem. Cornerback Tracy Porter had been assigned No. 24, the jersey number Woodson wore during his first stint with the Raiders.
The problem is expected to be solved.
In a Wednesday appearance on PFT Live, Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com expressed confidence that Woodson will get No. 24 back from Porter. And in an unverified Twitter account that appears to be legitimate, Woodson declares that he once again will be wearing No. 24.
It’s unclear what if anything Woodson has offered in order to make that happen.
For Gutierrez’s take on Woodson’s return (including video of the fans who turned out in droves to welcome him to the team’s facility), he’s the relevant slice of PFT Live.
Last week, the Vikings unveiled the design for their new stadium. Since PFT Live was on a temporary hiatus last week, we weren’t able to talk about it.
This week, we’re back, and Vikings president Mark Wilf (pictured with Vikings chairman Zygi Wilf) joined the program to talk about the new venue, which opens in 2016.
The revolutionary design creates a place that fans will want to visit, encouraging other teams building new stadiums to look for ways to create structures that have desirable and unique features, like a transparent roof that Wilf believes will become a common replacement for the more costly retractable roof.
He also touched on the expectations for the team in 2013, a year removed from an unlikely playoff appearance, and whether the Vikings will be attempting to extend coach Leslie Frazier’s contract before the 2013 season.
When NFL spokesman Greg Aiello takes issue with something we write on PFT, he calls us out via Twitter. When he doesn’t like something written by the Associated Press, Aiello breaks out the typewriter.
Aiello has written a lengthy response to a column from Jim Litke of the AP. The Litke column is, basically, a sawed-off shotgun blast of various and in spots inaccurate contentions regarding the NFL’s ongoing quest for dominance of the American sports landscape.
Litke’s cynicism is sort of cute, in that it implies he’s only realizing now that the NFL has pitched a tent at the top of the mountain and is building a moat around the perimeter. That’s what successful businesses do. They keep looking for ways to improve and to grow. The improvements are limited only by the ingenuity and drive of the business; the growth is limited only by consumer demand.
Apart from the factual errors in Litke’s column (e.g., he claims Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants taxpayers to “foot the bill” for renovations to Sun Life Stadium, which as Aiello points out implies incorrectly that the project includes no private money), it arises from the premise that, in a capitalistic economy, it’s somehow wrong for the NFL to capitalize on its success.
At a time when strangers happily are buying up the items on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s wedding registry at Bed, Bath & Beyond, there’s nothing wrong with the NFL doing whatever the NFL can do to take advantage of the enormous power and popularity it has amassed. As long as the NFL uses that power and popularity in legal and ethical ways, the more power and popularity to it.
Still, Litke whines about the NFL rewarding cities that have contributed public funds to stadium projects with Super Bowls. Should the cities that have contributed public fund to stadium projects be excluded from hosting Super Bowls?
Litke whines about a potential three-week delay in the draft, and the “scheduling conflicts” conflicts it will potentially create with Mother’s Day and NHL and NBA playoff games. As to the former, the draft isn’t held on a Sunday. As to the latter, if consumers choose to watch and follow the NFL draft instead of hockey or basketball playoffs, why should Litke or anyone else (other than hockey and basketball owners) care?
Litke whines about the extra work that the expanded calendar will create for NFL employees. First, free agency, the Scouting Combine, and the draft will still happen, only at different times. Second, if more work truly is created, teams can hire more help or pay the current employees more money or risk having employees who don’t want to work a little harder leaving for other jobs.
Litke also whines that “many clubs are likely to cut out minicamps” if the draft is delayed, revealing that he has no understanding of how the NFL works. The coaches will ensure that every practice permitted by the labor deal is conducted. Besides, if Litke is worried about people working too hard, shouldn’t he applaud a change that results in less work for players and coaches?
With all due respect (i.e., here comes the insult), Litke just wants to whine about the NFL, and to do so he has slapped together some flimsy gripes and complaints without regard to whether they hold water.
The far better point is that, by constantly expanding and growing, the league risks saturating the marketplace, and in turn seeing its power and popularity diminish. Moreover, it’s human nature to resent (or at least to be leery of) anything that gets too big, too strong, and/or too rich.
Perhaps that mindset spawned Litke’s column. Perhaps the league is inching toward the point of diminishing returns. Even if that’s the case (and we think this could indeed happen if the NFL forces an 18-game season onto the American public), the NFL has every right to keep looking for ways to expand its influence and to enhance its balance sheet.
The NFL has plenty of flaws and problems, and it seems at times to thrive despite them. But the goal of any worthwhile business is to get bigger, and no company ever should say, “OK, that’s enough. We’re good right here.”Those that do risk not being “right here,” or anywhere else, for very long.
Last year, then-49ers quarterback Alex Smith caused a stir by pointing out that stats don’t supersede wins. While that concept isn’t controversial standing alone, Smith’s decision to point to the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton gave it a little extra edge.
This year, Smith at least can say he’s consistent.
On Wednesday, the new Chiefs quarterback was asked about receiver Dwayne Bowe’s recent boast that he’ll lead the NFL in receiving.
“I’m not worried about that,” Smith said, via quotes distributed by the team. “I’m really trying to lead the team in wins. It would be great, but that’s such a long way off. I’m not thinking about that to be honest. Not at all. Jacksonville is the date we’re all looking at. It’s all we care about. We have a lot of practices to get ready, and we need a lot of practices to get ready for that game. We have to play a lot of catch up. We don’t have the luxury of having been together for years and been in the same system. We’re playing catch up right now. We have to make up a lot of ground.”
It’s the right attitude, and the proper urgency. Every NFL season is a separate entity, and the Chiefs are trying with a new coach, new G.M. and new quarterback to turn the page on a 2-14 season. Many assume they’ll improve; what we know for now is that, if the choice comes down to improving statistically or via victories, Smith will take the latter.
The 25-year-old Lewis started the 2012 season finale for Cleveland, completing 22-of-32 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
A Duke product, Lewis entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2010 with St. Louis. After the Rams let him go in 2011, he landed with the Browns, who were then coached by Pat Shurmur, the Rams’ former offensive coordinator. Shurmur is now the Eagles’ offensive coordinator.