ProFootballTalk: Will Kaepernick affect Newton’s game?
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week, an operation that is keeping him on the sideline during this week’s minicamp.
The minicamp marks the end of the Vikings’ offseason schedule and the team will be off until the start of training camp after Thursday’s practice. Greenway couldn’t give a 100 percent guarantee that he’d be on the field for the first practice of training camp, but he did say that any absence will have nothing to do with surgery he had in June to avoid the possibility of his meniscus causing him more problems when the regular season is right around the corner.
“There will be no doubt in my mind unless I get in a car accident or something. From the knee perspective, it’ll be 100 percent, good to go,” Greenway said, via 1500ESPN.com. “I didn’t want to be that guy in training camp or Week 1 saying, ‘Oh, I’ve got to miss two.’ That’s not my mentality. I’d rather, unfortunately, miss these practices in order to get ready for the season. Just kind of felt like it was the right thing to do.”
We’d agree with that assessment. Greenway’s a vital part of the Vikings defense and the minicamp time is relatively insignificant to a player who hasn’t missed a game in the last six seasons.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has insisted throughout that he knew nothing about the fraud being committed at his chain of truck stops.
But the list of his employees who admit to it continues to grow.
According to Michael Sangiacomo of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, three more employees of Pilot Flying J pleaded guilty to federal charges Tuesday of cheating trucking compannies out of fuel discounts.
One of the Tuesday pleas, from regional sales manager Kevin Clark, includes an agreement to cooperate with the investigation. Two other employees pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy charges, and promised to cooperate as well.
A spokesman for Haslam continued to portray it as an isolated problem.
“We are disappointed in the actions of these employees towards our customers,” spokesman Tom Ingram said. “We assure our customers that our five-step plan to correct any wrongdoing and to make certain these actions do not happen again is ongoing, and that our customers’ confidence in the vast majority of our 23,000 team members nationwide remains well-placed.”
The investigation continues, and with more employees (of sufficiently high positions) offering information to prosecutors, it seems inevitable that that majority will continue to shrink.
When 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh insisted that the replacement for Michael Crabtree (Achilles) would come from the current roster, it was presumed that the replacement would be a receiver.
As it turns out, the Niners could be thinking about using tight end Vernon Davis as a wideout while Crabtree recovers.
According to Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Davis participated “exclusively” as a receiver during the team’s recent mandatory minicamp.
While plenty of tight ends line up in the slot these days, Davis could actually be lining up wide — especially since Anquan Boldin is expected to be San Fran’s primary inside receiver.
Davis, a top-10 draft pick in 2006, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at the Scouting Combine. So he definitely has the speed to play on the outside. He also has the size to fight off press coverage, and to manhandle most cornerbacks who would try to get to the ball before him.
In 2009, Jason Smith was the second player chosen in the NFL Draft.
This year, his latest coach is talking about him the way you’d talk about an undrafted rookie.
As MDS mentioned in the one-liners, offensive tackle Jason Smith is trying to shake the draft bust label that was rightly applied to him with the Saints, and they seem receptive.
“I think oftentimes, you take a peek at a player that was selected as high as he was and graded out as high as he was,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, via Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “He is a tremendous worker and has athletic ability.
“So it’s another opportunity, and it’s oftentimes you are able to get a player maybe his second time around or third time around that can come in and find a niche.”
Smith never justified the pick the Rams invested in him, and the Jets let him walk after he was sent there in a swap of bad ideas.
Smith was reflective when asked about his journey, talking about religion and making his plight seem more dramatic than perhaps it is.
“Upon the moment I received salvation, I understood that my calling is now to suffer, just like Christ did. That’s who I am,” Smith said. “So therefore, what I went through, my experiences, whether it be football or life, it brought me to a point of patience. So with patience I have experience, and with experience I have hope. And hope makes me not ashamed of what I went through.
“So everything I went through has made me who I am as a person. As far as the football stuff, it’s still a day-to-day deal. As far as my life, it’s a day-to-day deal. So I desire to know God’s heart. That’s what my focus is.”
The Rams didn’t need him to save the souls of the world, they just needed him to block. The Saints are offering him another chance to do just that.
The NFL undoubtedly hears plenty of complaints from plenty of teams on plenty of issues. Most of those complaints are communicated privately to the league office.
The Bills have opted to take one specific gripe public, via the team’s official website.
The concern arises from one of the apparently unavoidable scheduling quirks — the number of games a given team plays against opponents who have had extra rest, whether from a full-blown bye week or the mini-bye that comes from playing on a Thursday.
As Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com points out, the Bills in 2012 faced four opponents in a five-week span who had extra time to prepare. Buffalo lost three of the four games.
This year, according to an analysis performed by BuffaloBills.com, the Bills lead the league with five games coming against opponents who will have extra rest. It happens twice against the Jets, once against the Dolphins, and against the Bengals and Jaguars.
Brown also points out that the Buffalo bye week has been “compromised” by the fact that the Bills return to play the Falcons, who will be operating on 10 days rest after playing on a Thursday night.
“Compromised” may not be the right word here. The purpose of the bye isn’t to give every team a crack at playing another team that has had only one week to get ready. It’s to give each team one week of extra rest. (Actually, some would say it’s to give the networks one more week of regular-season programming.)
The Bills also have broken down the number of games every other team plays against opponents who receive extra rest. Fourteen teams only have one game against an opponent who gets extra rest. Three, including the Patriots, have zero.
“It’s very difficult to call the NFL a league of parity when there’s one team with half of their division games against clubs with extra time to rest and prepare, while another in the same division has none,” Brown writes. “The league simply has to do better.”
We doubt that doing better is doable, given the various other balls Howard Katz juggles when trying to lay out a plan for 256 regular-season games over a 17-week period. But we’re nevertheless intrigued by the decision of one of the 32 franchises to use its website as the platform for shooting an arrow at the NFL scheduling process.
Before the 2012 season, the Vikings envisioned getting a lot of production from their pair of tight ends in the passing game.
They got half of what they were looking for as Kyle Rudolph turned in a Pro Bowl season as a reliable and frequent target for Christian Ponder. His 53 catches ranked second on the team and were 45 more catches than John Carlson had after signing a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikes as a free agent during the offseason.
Carlson missed the entire 2011 season because of a shoulder injury and dealt with a knee issue and a concussion during his dismal 2012 season, but he isn’t willing to say that injuries were the reason for his unproductive campaign. Which doesn’t mean he has a firm handle on what did go wrong.
“I don’t have an answer for you. If I knew, I would have tried … I did try to rectify the situation,” Carlson said, via Bob Sansevere of the Pioneer Press. “It never came together. Missing that time in camp wasn’t good because they didn’t get a feel for what I’m capable of doing. And I didn’t get a feel for the offense and the way Christian (Ponder) throws the ball, and how to run-block. It was a debacle. I’m thankful to be out here and be healthy and have another opportunity.”
Carlson, who took a pay cut in order to stick around for that second opportunity, is now three years removed from back-to-back 50-plus catch seasons with the Seahawks so it’s probably a stretch to expect him to match Rudolph’s production as a receiver. There’s a lot of room between that kind of output and what Carlson turned in last season, however, and something in the middle would be a welcome addition to the Vikings attack in the 2013 season.
In the league only 11 years, the Texans waited until their 10th season to make it to the postseason. Which should skew their Mt. Rushmore toward the more recent contributors.
It didn’t. In large part because the most important player in team history has been there for 10 of the 11 seasons. And receiver Andre Johnson has shown no signs of slowing down.
PFT Planet agreed with me (which is becoming more common in this process) on all four men.
For the explanation and discussion and whatever else we talked about last night on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, featuring former Titans tight end Frank Wycheck in studio, click the little triangle thing below.
Jake Locker had to come back from shoulder surgery.
And he still has to prove he can stop throwing picks.
But the Titans quarterback has done something more important during OTAs,, taking control of the locker room and making the job his own.
“The thing I wanted him to do, No. 1, was to take over the team,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “And this has become his team to the point where he takes over and spreads the message. Watching his interaction with the other players, and how they react to him, he handles himself well and that is his gift.
“Guys respect Jake, and I think the guys know all he cares about is winning.”
He had to display that first in his comeback from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, and Locker used that as a chance to prove how serious he was.
“Physically he is in the best shape of his life. The dude is a beast,” wide receiver Marc Mariani said. “As a quarterback, he wins every sprint in conditioning drills. He is just an animal.
“And he is a natural-born leader. Jake is a guy people look at as an example, and that is what you look for in your leader, your quarterback.”
For all the moves the Titans have made this offseason, they won’t matter that much if Locker reverts to last year’s form. If he’s truly the kind of quarterback you can build around, they’ll have a chance.
With offseason workouts completed for most teams, the calendar has reached the point at which players have free time — and coaches and General Managers spend most of their free time worrying about getting a phone call regarding a player who has found trouble.
At some point in the past day or so, Patriots coach Bill Belichick received one of those calls. But instead of hearing about the latest run-of-the-mill off-field entanglement, Belichick was told that tight end Aaron Hernandez faces police questioning after a body of an “associate” was found in the vicinity of a rental car connected to Hernandez.
All reports continue to indicate that Hernandez is not a suspect. Still, Hernandez has consulted with a lawyer, per SI.com. According to ABC, Hernandez received at his North Attleboro home on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. a hand-delivered package from the “prominent law firm Ropes and Gray,” an international corporate firm with 11 offices worldwide.
Police reportedly spent hours inside Hernandez’s residence on Tuesday, ultimately searching the structure and emerging with a box.
Two men who tried to leave during the search reportedly were detained. The car in which they planned to leave also was searched.
Hernandez’s agents have declined comment. The Patriots issued the standard perfunctory comment, acknowledging the reports but declining to address the situation in deference to the investigation.
It’s unclear whether and to what extent Hernandez has been questioned by police. ABC has reported that he was initially uncooperative, which implies that at some point he has decided to cooperate. (The Boston Herald disputes the ABC report, using the dismissive “Web reports” label.)
Many possible explanations exist. It seems implausible that Hernandez had any role in the killing of the “associate,” given the presence of the rental car tied to Hernandez in the vicinity of the body. At a minimum, the car would have been removed.
Also, there was no apparent effort to conceal the body, which was found by a jogger in an industrial park roughly a mile from Hernandez’s home on Monday.
Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is due in court in early July for the next proceedings related to assault charges brought against him following a May arrest for allegedly grabbing his girlfriend by the throat and throwing her to the floor.
Should that case reach a conclusion before the start of the 2013 season, Washington could face discipline from the league under the Personal Conduct Policy and that might extend his early season absence beyond the four-game suspension Washington will serve for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. It’s the kind of baggage that makes it hard to feel too secure about what Washington will bring to the team in 2013, something coach Bruce Arians acknowledged during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian.
“Well, it’s all up to him. He’s had double incidents and, as an organization, that throws a red flag up,” Arians said. “But I think Daryl is a very bright young man who understands the mistakes he’s made and he’s walking a very thin line in the league right now. Super talented, but you have to adhere to the rules.”
The makeup of the Cardinals linebacking corps speaks to their uneasiness about Washington’s status. The Cardinals drafted Kevin Minter in the second round in April after learning of Washington’s suspension and then signed Karlos Dansby in May after Washington’s arrest, giving them two more options at inside linebacker. Those moves came after the additions of free agents Lorenzo Alexander and Jasper Brinkley before any of the bad news about Washington came to light and give the Cardinals enough depth to survive an absence of any length.
That’s not the ideal situation because, as Arians said, Washington’s got an extra level of talent working in his favor. You have to plan for a rainy day, though, and it’s definitely cloudy over Washington.
Amazingly enough, the guy called Kickalicious is more than just a gimmick.
“He’s obviously got a strong leg,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “Every step you try to temper, ‘Well, let’s see what happens when there’s a snapper or holder out there. Let’s see what happens when he’s got a defense that’s rushing. . . . Let’s see what happens when it’s in the middle of practice rather than on their own on the side.’
“He’s passed all those tests. Every step along the way, he’s done a good job with that. So the next thing is when the game’s live and guys are really bearing down on him and there’s pressure involved in the kick. But that’s something that won’t come for a while now. He’s done a nice job working through all the different things that are new to him. That’s encouraging to see.”
Of course, the Lions signed veteran David Akers to be their kicker this offseason, so his chance at making the 53-man roster still aren’t. But Akers sat out most of the spring workouts with to rest a hip injury (the same one that made him uncharacteristically inaccurate last year with the 49ers), and that opened the door.
Maybe kicking a field goal through that small crack will be on the sequel video.
Canisius High School in Upstate New York is adding two great players in Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and Terius Wheatley, the sons of new Bills assistant Tyrone Wheatley.
The Dolphins’ cheerleaders have performed their own version of a Taylor Swift song.
The Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for Tedy Bruschi and Gil Santos will take place on July 29.
Here’s a look at the Ravens’ offseason in pictures.
Will Hard Knocks be a distraction for the Bengals? Data from other sports teams that have done reality shows demonstrates that it typically doesn’t have much of an effect.
Do the Browns have a Plan B after Bon Jovi canceled a scheduled Cleveland concert?
Fans can go on a Steelers-themed cruise in March of 2014.
The Texans want players staying in shape for the month off before training camp, and they’re particularly concerned about offensive linemen and wide receivers not putting on any extra pounds.
The Colts’ cheerleaders have shot their annual swimsuit calendar.
The Jacksonville City Council is unhappy with the city’s chief attorney for, among other things, the way she previously interpreted the Jaguars’ lease with the city.
The Titans welcomed nearly 200 soldiers from Ft. Campbell to the team’s first day of minicamp.
The offensive line may be an area of concern for the Broncos.
The Chargers are raising awareness for foster children and adoption.
Giants fans may not be happy to learn that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie confessed on Tuesday that he’s not a Giants fan, or a Jets fan, but a Cowboys fan.
Said Eagles rookie TE Zach Ertz of having to miss offseason work because Stanford was still in school, “I think I missed a lot. The reps are invaluable. . . . But I couldn’t do anything about it, so I didn’t really stress over it too much. I was in the playbook a lot, studied as much as I could. So I basically made the most of what I could.”
Offensive line will be the most important position to watch at the Bears’ training camp.
The Lions need players to show maturity during the month off before training camp.
The Packers think offseason team-building activities are important.
Here’s a look at the surprises from the Panthers’ offseason work.
The Buccaneers have donated Warren Sapp memorabilia to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission paid $2 million to the Rams to cover the team’s legal fees for a dispute over upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome.
Giants punter Steve Weatherford is not done ripping his former Jets special teams coordinator, Mike Westhoff.
Weatherford has said in the past that he didn’t like playing for Westhoff, and in an interview with the Star-Ledger, Weatherford answered a question about comparing the Giants and Jets by explaining that Westhoff was the one problem he had when he played for New York’s other team.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Weatherford said of playing for the Giants. “I enjoyed playing for Rex Ryan but the special teams coach [Mike Westhoff] was very difficult to get along with both on and off the field. Here, the Giants have treated me great since the moment I walked in here. I show up early and leave late and give everything I have. I think the Giants have an appreciation for that. I absolutely love being here. I’d play for free.”
Weatherford kicked for Westhoff for the Jets for two seasons with the Jets, in 2009 and 2010, and after they parted the two spoke negatively about each other over issues including Weatherford ranking 23rd in punting one year and Weatherford calling his own fake punt and failing to convert on a fourth-and-18. You’d think by now they’d be over whatever differences they had, but you’d be wrong.
In an effort to better the experience of attending an NFL game in Seattle, the Seahawks announced Tuesday they will be forming an advisory panel consisting of season tickets holders that will meet with team executives in an effort to get input directly from the fan base.
The group will consist of 12 Seahawks season ticket holders that will meet regularly with team president Peter McLoughlin.
“The Fan Advisory Council will play an important role in our efforts to maintain and enhance the Seahawks fan experience,” McLoughlin said in a statement. “We will hold quarterly meetings to discuss and focus on a variety of fan related issues including: in-stadium fan experience, game presentation and in-stadium technology.”
The Seahawks aren’t the only team that have looked to their fan base for input to improve the fan experience. The Cleveland Browns formed a similar panel in 2009 with 25 fans selected by the team to meet with members of the Browns front office.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent yet another surgery Tuesday as part of an offseason filled with procedures aimed at patching the New England Patriots star back together.
This surgery was to address a problematic back. The surgery was said to have gone well and now the surgeon who performed the procedure, Dr. Robert Watkins, has released a statement on the procedure.
“New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy surgery performed by Dr. Robert Watkins at Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles,” the statement said, via Christopher Price of WEEI.com. “The surgery went well. The timing of his return to football will depend on his progression through the rehabilitation program.”
A lumbar discectomy is geared toward addressing issues with a herniated disc in a person’s back.
Watkins performed the same surgery on New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul earlier this month. Pierre-Paul’s recovery time was pegged at 12 weeks. If the same time table holds for Gronkowski it will be very close whether he’ll be available to start the season. Twelve weeks from the day of the surgery would be two days after the Patriots season opener against the Buffalo Bills.