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ProFootballTalk: Grading Super Bowl officiating
The Browns want Terrelle Pryor “1000 percent” focused on playing wide receiver, but it doesn’t look like they’ll mind opposing defenses worrying about the possibility that he’ll be throwing passes this season.
Pryor threw a couple of passes during Tuesday’s practice, one of which came off an end-around during 11-on-11 drills. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com described the toss as a “wobbling duck down the right sideline” which Travis Benjamin was able to catch after cornerback Pierre Desir. Pryor poked some fun at himself after practice.
“They said it was wobbly and ugly,” Pryor said. “They said I lost my QB skills. I told them I never had them.”
Coach Mike Pettine suggested that this won’t be the last time the team tries a bit of trickery with Pryor on offense this season.
“Special plays are going to be part of our plan each week,” Pettine said, via ESPNCleveland.com. “You want to have those up, the sooner the better. I’m just a firm believer of always having that option. If it’s there, you have a couple practiced and ready to go. If you get into a game where there’s a lull on both sides offensively, you need something to break it open. Having a guy like Terrelle certainly gives us that ability.”
Any use of Pryor will be contingent on him being healthy enough to be on the field, something that wasn’t the case for all of Tuesday’s session. Pryor tweaked his hamstring, which he iced while watching practice. Pettine said that he didn’t believe it was serious, but that Pryor would undergo further evaluation.
Safety Darren Woodson stayed with the Cowboys long enough to play for five different head coaches and he played well enough for those coaches to earn a spot among the best players to wear the star on their helmets.
The Cowboys announced Tuesday that Woodson will enter the team’s Ring of Honor during the team’s November 1 game against the Seahawks. He’s the 21st inductee and the first since Drew Pearson, Larry Allen and Charles Haley were enshrined in 2011.
Woodson spent his entire 13-year career in Dallas and was selected to five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams during a tenure that also saw him earn three Super Bowl rings. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in tackles and intercepted 23 passes during his career.
“He’s the ultimate warrior. There’s no more like him,” former teammate Nate Newton said, via the team’s website. “He never left the field. He played all the special teams. He only left the field with the offense. He made everyone better. He was the back end to our defense.”
Woodson was a semi-finalist in the voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2015 class and remains eligible for consideration for that body in 2016.
The break is over. And we’re coming back with a bang.
After three years of a format that included a lot of different people (all of whom did a great job — except for perhaps one former offensive lineman with an affinity for candy), Pro Football Talk on NBCSN returns for the 2015 season with a new format. And a new, permanent, daily member of the show.
Two-time Super Bowl champion safety Rodney Harrison joins the program every weekday. He’ll contribute on most days from his home in Atlanta. I’ll contribute on most days from my home in West Virginia. And Paul Burmeister will be caught in the crossfire from the NBC Sports Group studios in Connecticut.
If you’ve seen over the years some of the segments Rodney and I have done as web-only features during Sunday Night Football, you already know that we have very good chemistry. The relationship works primarily because Rodney’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind, and because I’m afraid of Rodney.
In this format, I won’t be as afraid. Because he won’t be able to kick me under the desk or punch me above it. (At least not at that moment. But I still have to see him on Sundays.)
Rodney seems to be looking forward to the new arrangement.
“Finally adding a football expert to the show,” Harrison told me via text this afternoon. “I got tired of listening to a fraud. Who listens to a guy who never had jock itch or made a tackle?”
(In my defense, I’ve had jock itch.)
“The only thing you ever hit hard was a mosquito,” Harrison added.
Can someone with NBC remind me why I thought this would be a good idea?
It definitely will be a good idea for you to join Rodney, Paul, and me when Pro Football Talk returns to NBCSN next Monday, at 6:30 p.m. ET. The next day, we settle in to our normal time of 6:00 p.m. ET.
In early September, we’ll do a show or two live from Gillette Stadium. Side by side. Where Rodney played for the Patriots. Right on the very edge of the field where Rodney used to apply hard hits to organisms far larger than mosquitoes.
What could go wrong?
It appears the Texans will be without their most important offensive player when the season begins.
That could mean the injured reserve/designated for return list could be in play, though there are no details yet as to the extent of the damage.
As to the damage for the Texans’ offense, it’s hard to overstate that.
The Chargers have high hopes for running back Melvin Gordon after taking him in the first round of the NFL draft and there will likely be some Chargers fans wearing his jersey during games this season, but one interested party is going to be waiting a while before throwing on No. 28.
That party is Gordon’s mother Carmen, who is described as thinking “she’s a coach” by her son. Like many coaches, Carmen Gordon isn’t going to put the cart before the horse when it comes to a player who still needs to prove himself at the professional level.
“You’ve got to show me a little something, but it won’t be this year,” Carmen Gordon said, via ESPN.com. “So you might see me in the stands, but I won’t have the jersey on. I did the same thing in college because I just want to hear what people are saying.”
Gordon’s arrival in San Diego will also force her mother to root against Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who she says she likes because “he was a bad boy back in the day.” If her son shows more than a little something as a rookie, it would help the Chargers in their quest to succeed the Broncos as AFC West champs and perhaps convince Mom to start wearing his jersey.
The Cowboys and Broncos had to be backed against a wall and a deadline before reaching deals to keep their young wide receivers.
The Colts may be a little more proactive.
While he also noted that “nothing is imminent,” the fact they’re talking could be meaningful.
The Colts have effectively said they’re not going to address quarterback Andrew Luck’s deal until after the coming year. They’ve already picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal to carry him through 2016, which may be why they’ve taken such a casual approach to what is going to be a huge deal whenever it is signed.
Hilton has already noted the four-year, $70 million deals signed by Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas as setting the bar. He’s currently working out the final year of his rookie deal, which will pay him $1.542 million this year.
Of course, the Colts drafted Phillip Dorsett in the first round this year, so it will be interesting to see if Rosenhaus’s visit creates any momentum toward a deal.
The NFL has asked venues in Los Angeles to let them know by tomorrow if they’re interested in being temporary hosts of a professional football team.
And mostly, what they’re hearing is “No, thanks.”
According to Nathan Fenno and Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, there isn’t a land rush to offer the Chargers, and/or Raiders and/or Rams a place to play before a new stadium can be built in Carson and/or Inglewood.
The Coliseum is the only venue to publicly admit interest.
The 27,000-seat StubHub Center, home of the MLS L.A. Galaxy, is the latest venue to pull out of the running, joining the Rose Bowl as expressing no interest.
“We’ve really just begun,” NFL L.A. point man Eric Grubman said. “Aug. 5 was a date that helped us know what venues might be available in a traditional sense and I think that has sorted itself out. . . . Other, more complex opportunities could very well present themselves as the picture becomes clearer.”
That seems to point to the baseball stadiums of the Angels and Dodgers, and those facilities aren’t expected to submit proposals on the NFL’s timeline, on account of the whole maybe hosting playoff games of their own thing.
But Grubman remains confident, saying: “In any event, I think this works itself out by the end of this year.”
Of course, the NFL has been expressing that kind of optimism throughout. Whether the buildings of Los Angeles have any more interest than the citizenry remains to be seen.
During an appearance on the Zaslow and Joy Show on 104.3 The Ticket in Miami, Incognito admitted that he’s circled those games in red on his calendar but says it’s not because of any hard feelings about the team suspending him in the wake of bullying allegations during the 2013 season.
“Not one bit. I don’t have one hard feeling about anybody I ever played with in Miami,” Incognito said. “I still got a lot of love for those guys, a lot of respect for those guys, still got a lot of close friends on that team. What went down went down and it was a crazy time and things were said, but I really don’t have any hard feelings toward anybody.”
If there’s another reason to pay special attention to the meetings with the Dolphins, it could be the arrival of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in South Florida. Incognito said that the Bills are going to have their hands full dealing with Suh, Cameron Wake and the rest of the Dolphins defensive line as they try to keep pace in the AFC East this season.
Texans running back Arian Foster spent most of Monday night’s practice on the sideline, but coach Bill O’Brien said after the workout that it was just a rest day for the veteran back.
“We’ve got to monitor Arian, like I told you guys that in the offseason and I think that’s what that’s all about today,” O’Brien said.
A pair of ESPN reports that there was more to the decision than that. Adam Schefter reports that Foster came up limping after a pass play that was his final action of the evening and Tania Ganguli reports that he suffered a groin injury on the play.
There’s no word on the severity of the injury and there’s certainly no reason to push Foster through a muscular injury that could get worse at this point in camp, but it does offer a reminder that Foster has missed 11 games over the last two seasons with injuries. Even if this isn’t a serious issue, it’s a good bet that the Texans do what they can to rest Foster and raise the chances that he will be on the field to help take pressure off their quarterback come the regular season.
UPDATE 1:50 p.m. ET: Jayson Braddock of ESPN 97.5 in Houston reports that Foster may need surgery, something that Ganguli and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle are reporting as well. Braddock adds that Foster may be a candidate for injured reserve/return, which would keep him out of the lineup for at least eight games.
Murray said he didn’t ask coach Chip Kelly for an explanation because he just does what he’s told, but Kelly did get a question about Murray’s absence from the field when he met the media on Tuesday. The coach who doesn’t like answering questions about himself had no problem sharing that dehydration was the rationale behind the team’s decision.
Kelly said the team checks players’ hydration levels and they didn’t want to put Murray on the field because they felt there was an increased chance of further problems.
“It was a training staff decision,” Kelly said, via NJ.com. “Especially, with the way the weather has been, we didn’t want to take any chances. It’s not just for [Murray], we treat every player on a daily basis.”
Murray is back to work and says he feels fine, so all should move forward without incident as long as Murray continues to check out on the sports science side of things.
Three years ago the Jaguars used the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft on receiver Justin Blackmon. Now the Jaguars think Blackmon’s career is over.
Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said today that Blackmon, who has been suspended by the NFL for the last 21 months because of repeated failed drug tests, appears to have decided that he’s not willing to put in the work to get himself back on the field.
“I have not heard anything and I guess I harbor a little bit of hope but realistically I think when you’re away from the game for two-and-a-half years what you were once is not what you probably will be,” Caldwell said. “Your skills do erode and especially if you’re not staying in tip-top shape and you’re not in football shape. I don’t know to expect but I would say common sense would probably be if you haven’t played football in two-and-a-half years apparently that’s not a priority for you.”
That’s a shame. Blackmon has great, great talent. He was a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award for the best wide receiver in college football, and he was the first wide receiver ever to win the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Award. He could have been something special in the NFL.
Instead, Blackmon will be a cautionary tale of a player whose great talent wasn’t enough to overcome his off-field problems.
When NFL teams have a complaint with the league office, they usually address it behind closed doors. But the Patriots are taking their issues with Commissioner Roger Goodell into the open.
That includes the Patriots’ website, which has published a slide show featuring pictures of fans holding anti-Goodell signs.
Although the slide show is titled “12 awesome public displays of affection for TB12,” not all of the fans shown are simply supporting Brady. Some are going after the commissioner, with signs like “Stop Goodell” and “Free Brady, Fire Goodell.”
A great deal of anti-Goodell sentiment exists among NFL fans, especially in New England. The Patriots’ website has decided to turn the spotlight on some of those anti-Goodell fans.
The question of whether Dez Bryant caught the ball or not has been debated quite often since the Packers outlasted the Cowboys in the playoffs last season, but one prominent member of the Cowboys organization doesn’t think the ruling of no catch was the reason why Dallas didn’t advance to face the Seahawks.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones points to the other side of the ball as the reason why the Cowboys fell short in the postseason. The pass rush is what Jones feels was missing and says it is something the team is focused on improving this summer.
“At the end of the day, it’s probably what cost us a chance to win a championship last year, we just didn’t quite have the pass rush we needed to stop an Aaron Rodgers when we needed to stop him or make the play that needed to be made when you’re trying to win a Super Bowl, so these guys are getting a lot of good teaching,” Jones said on KRLD, via the Dallas Morning News. “Rod Marinelli is one of the best in the business, you’ve got Leon Lett, who’s certainly a Cowboys legend in his own right. It’s just a great group of guys out there helping these young guys hopefully get better at rushing the passer.”
There were plenty of teams staying away from both Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory this offseason because of off-field red flags, but you need not look too far beyond Jones’s comments to understand why the Cowboys rolled the dice on both players. If they perform as hoped, Demarcus Lawrence makes strides in his second season and Tyrone Crawford keeps providing pressure on the interior, the Cowboys should be providing more pressure on quarterbacks and a weakness will turn into a strength.
On January 20, Chris Mortensen of ESPN tweeted that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game were under-inflated by two pounds of pressure per square inch. That report was incorrect.
So Mortensen deleted the tweet. Unfortunately, he waited more than six months to do so.
As of early this morning, we noted that Mortensen’s incorrect tweet was still live. And then we noticed later this morning that the tweet is gone. Presumably, Mortensen decided at some point in the last few hours to delete his tweet, although he hasn’t explained it publicly.
To his credit, Mortensen has admitted that the tweet was a mistake. But as many people have learned when they tweeted something and then wished they could take it back, just deleting a mistake doesn’t make it go away. Mortensen’s tweet (“NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each, per league sources”) still lives in the many news stories that quoted it. And Mortensen’s tweet was used for months to shape the Deflategate story. Even though PFT and others cast doubt on the report almost immediately, and even though the Patriots pleaded with the league office to correct the record, official confirmation that the balls were not as under-inflated as Mortensen’s source claimed didn’t come until the Wells Report was released months later.
That’s been one of the maddening things about the whole Deflategate mess: Accurate information has been hard to come by, and the gaps have been filled with inaccurate information.
Mortensen’s “2 lbs each” tweet was one of the big pieces of inaccurate information. It’s now off Mortensen’s Twitter timeline, long after the damage was done.
We’ll be spanning the country on Tueday’s PFT Live to bring you everything you need to know about the NFL.
On one coast, Mike Florio will be talking to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe about that latest developments in Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s push to have his four-game suspension wiped out in federal court. We’ll also ask Volin for some early thoughts about what the team’s been doing at training camp.
From the other coast, Florio will welcome Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle with a look at the Raiders. Some topics that may come up for discussion include the positive reviews for wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Derek Carr’s play at quarterback and the team’s stadium situation. And smack dab in the middle is John Glennon of the Tennessean with the latest on the Titans.
Author Monte Burke will also be on the show to discuss his new biography of Alabama coach Nick Saban with a particular focus on Saban’s years in the NFL.
We also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.
It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.