Skip to content

Brian VanGorder lands on Jets staff

Brian VanGorder AP

New Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman has never held that job before, but he will have someone on his staff with experience as a coordinator.

The Jets announced Thursday that former Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will join the staff as their linebackers coach. VanGorder spent four years as Mike Smith’s defensive coordinator in Atlanta before jumping to the same job at Auburn last year. VanGorder was let go by the school after head coach Gene Chizik was fired following a dismal 2012 season.

VanGorder’s hiring means that the Jets have filled all of the key positions on their coaching staff after a month of changes prompted by the firing of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and the departure of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine for the same job in Buffalo. Bob Sutton, the Jets’ previous linebackers coach, left to become the defensive coordinator in Kansas City.

The Jets also announced that Bobby April III will be a defensive quality control coach. His father, Bobby April Jr., has been a longtime special teams coach who will run those units for the Raiders this season. Sparano’s son, also named Tony, will be an offensive intern with the team despite his father’s departure.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, New York Jets, Rumor Mill

Saints players not concerned with Jimmy Graham’s absence

Jimmy Graham AP

To no one’s surprise, tight end Jimmy Graham has not joined his Saints teammates at the team’s offseason workouts.

Graham hasn’t signed his franchise tender and would like to negotiate a long-term contract with the Saints before the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to do so. Absent a contract, there’s not much chance that he’ll be joining the team before that date and that’s just fine with tackle Zach Strief.

Strief said that the team isn’t affected by Graham’s absence now because so much offseason work is focused on improving yourself and that his teammates understand that this is just how the business side plays out for a player in Graham’s position.

“Look, I think all of us understand and I think it’s the hardest thing to understand from the outside. It is a business. Neither side is right, neither side is wrong. It just is what it is. I think that everyone knows that the first game of the season, Jimmy will be there and be ready to go,” Strief said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “That’s all you really want at the end of the day. You forget all of a sudden that he wasn’t there for OTAs and all of those other things. Hopefully they get something done for Jimmy’s sake, for the team’s sake. I think it’s best for everybody and they all agree with that. But we’ll see how it plays out.”

The Saints went through something similar with quarterback Drew Brees a couple of years ago, so there shouldn’t be any panic about how things will play out over the next couple of months. As Strief said, Graham will almost certainly be there when the games start and that’s when the Saints will need him the most.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Trent Richardson remains confident after a bad year

Trent Richardson AP

Trent Richardson was nothing short of terrible after the Colts traded a first-round draft pick for him last season. But Richardson hasn’t lost his confidence.

Richardson told reporters today that when he looks in the mirror, he sees the same running back who was viewed as a can’t-miss prospect heading into the draft two years ago.

“As far as confidence, man, I can’t wait. There’s a lot that I want to do,” Richardson said. “I’ve been playing football my whole life. I never thought it would become a struggle for me. I look back at it and I say, ‘Hey, you’re still the guy, you’re still the Trent Richardson you’ve always been. Just keep your mindset right.’”

Now Richardson needs to do something to inspire confidence in the Colts’ coaches, who phased him out of the offense as the season wore on. He sure didn’t do that last year, when he played 14 games for the Colts and totaled just 458 yards on 157 carries — and followed that with an even worse performance in the postseason, with four carries for one yard and one fumble. If Richardson isn’t a whole lot better than that this year, he belongs on the bench.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bills plan to address web blunder “internally”

Donald Trump Speaks To GOP Women's Groups Getty Images

If Donald Trump owned the Bills, he’d likely be spouting off his catch phrase today.  In the interim, someone else may be doing the same thing.

A day after the team’s website prematurely posted a story disclosing that coach Doug Marrone has cancer, the team said it’s looking at the situation.

“We are continuing today to discuss the unfortunate situation we experienced last night with our website and will address the matter internally,” the Bills said in a statement released Wednesday, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.

It’s unclear whether Marrone publicly would have revealed the removal of a cancerous mole if the issue hadn’t been forced by the accidental posting of a live web link.  If Marrone hadn’t made a decision about whether to publicly acknowledge the disease, the mistake left Marrone with no realistic option.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cardinals don’t think Tyrann Mathieu will be ready for camp

Tyrann Mathieu AP

The Cardinals lost safety Tyrann Mathieu to a torn ACL and LCL last December, creating some doubt about his status for the start of the 2014 season.

That question will likely remain unanswered into the summer. Mathieu said Wednesday that he’s pushing to be ready for the start of training camp, but coach Bruce Arians said it is more likely that Mathieu will be sidelined when camp gets underway.

“I think Ty is going to up to the wire,” Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. “I still anticipate him on PUP, but he refuses to believe it. That’s a good thing.”

Mathieu and the Cardinals feel he’s on schedule to make it back in time for the start of the season, but there’s a lot of time between now and September for a snag in his rehab to slow things down. With Yeremiah Bell still weighing whether or not he wants to return, the Cardinals have Rashad Johnson and Tony Jefferson as their top safeties until Mathieu’s back at full speed.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bears sign RB Shaun Draughn

Baltimore Ravens v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Bears have added a running back who might also be able to contribute on special teams, signing Shaun Draughn to a one-year deal, the club said Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Draughn has played for Washington (2011), Kansas City (2011-2013) and Baltimore (2013). He appeared in three games for the Ravens last season, rushing four times for two yards. The Ravens waived him in October.

Draughn had his most productive pro season in 2012, rushing 59 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns, catching 24 passes for 158 yards and returning 23 kickoffs for 537 yards.

The Bears were in need of RB depth. Before Draughn’s addition, they had just two backs on the roster: Matt Forte and backup Michael Ford. Draughn could also get a shot on kickoffs, where the Bears must replace the departed Devin Hester.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Continuing our draft preview series with a look at the Falcons

Mike Smith AP

The Falcons had methodically turned themselves into one of the NFC’s most consistent teams of the last half-decade, and even won a playoff game.

But it all came crashing down last year, when injuries exposed them as a bit of a house-of-cards team.

This offseason, they’re determined to become more physical on both lines, and the early free agent acquisitions of Jon Asamoah, Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson are evidence of that.

There’s still more work to be done, as they have a number of missing parts to fill in on both sides of the ball, and they’re not afraid to make aggressive moves to fill them. How should they best go about it?

You can click here for the full preview, and vote below on what you think they need to do with the pick.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jets add Jimmy Garoppolo, two tight ends to visit list

Jimmy Garoppolo AP

The Jets have set up a quarterback competition between Michael Vick and Geno Smith for this summer, but they’re still doing some due diligence on the position before the draft.

Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com reports that Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is visiting with the Jets on Wednesday. Garoppolo has been a busy man the last few weeks as he’s made the rounds of teams wondering if he might be the answer to their need at quarterback now or somewhere in the near future.

Whether or not the Jets are one of those teams has a lot to do with what Smith does in his second season, which may preclude another early pick on a quarterback. Vick’s arrival gives them another option for 2014 if Smith fails to progress and there are plenty of other needs they can address in May.

One of them is a pass-catching tight end to go with Jeff Cumberland and the Jets have met with two players who fit the bill. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro is also visiting on Wednesday while NJ.com reports that North Carolina’s Eric Ebron was in on Tuesday. Ebron probably won’t be around for the 18th pick, but Amaro could be a second round possibility for the Jets.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: NFL to expand flex scheduling by two games

Jairus Byrd AP

Earlier this afternoon, NFL PR executive Brian McCarthy teased the coming schedule announcement by promising: “Some interesting twists.”

One of them is apparently two more flex games.

Somehow or another, the NFL’s own website obtained one of the juicy little details, that flex scheduling is being expanded, giving them a chance to change a pair of NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchups.

According to the report, the league now has the option to flex two games during the period from Weeks 5-10, adding some more drama (“Will they flex this week? We’ll reveal, after the break.”) to a process that has plenty already.

The Week 11 and beyond flex scheduling is wide open, as before.

But this gives the league a chance to avoid a clunker, as well as a chance to remind you that you’re a slave to its powers.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys could pounce on Manziel

Manziel Getty Images

From the moment the Joneses who own the Cowboys started gushing about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, we began to pay attention to the possibility that the Cowboys would be inclined to add the potential franchise quarterback a year after giving Tony Romo a franchise quarterback contract.

Ed Werder of ESPN fuels that notion, explaining on SportsCenter that, if Manziel falls to No. 16, the Cowboys could take him.

Let’s take a step farther.  We think that, if Manziel slides past the Vikings at No. 8, the Cowboys could be inclined to trade up to get Manziel.  In 20 of 25 drafts, Jerry Jones has made a move with a first-round pick.  This year, moving up for Manziel could give the Cowboys the kind of offseason shakeup they surely covet.

Said Werder on the air, “Jerry Jones was raving about [Manziel] this weekend . . . in front of Romo.”

It would be a circus, a distraction, a potential mess to have Romo and Manziel on the roster.  Cap considerations would make a trade of Romo difficult if not impossible this year.  The cap hit would be stiff next year but not insurmountable, if the Cowboys were to move Manziel to the starting lineup and move Romo out of the building.

With an extended lull resulting from the league’s insistence on delaying the draft by two weeks, it’s fun to consider what may happen.  It would be even more fun to cover the efforts of Romo and Manziel to coexist as the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart of America’s Team.

Permalink 76 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mike Adams stabbing trial features two sharply different theories

MikeAdams Getty Images

Back when I was practicing law for a living and doing this as a hobby that went from paying nothing to paying a little to paying enough to stick my law license in the cushions of a couch and burn it, I’d explain at the start of the trial that the opening statement is the picture on the cover of a puzzle box, and that the jury eventually will piece the puzzle together to make that very picture.

For the trial of three men accused of stabbing Steelers tackle Mike Adams, the pictures on the puzzle box couldn’t be much different.

As explained by Paula Reed Ward of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the prosecution claims that three men stabbed Adams last year during an attempted carjacking.  The defense claims that Adams was drunk and obnoxious, that he bumped into one of the men, who dropped his cell phone and shish kebab, and that a fight ensued.

The lawyers representing the defendants continue to insist that Adams is lying to protect himself at work.

“Mike Adams has a huge, multimillion-dollar motive to lie,” attorney Fred Rabner said.  “Being out at 3 o’clock in the morning, drunk, is not the Steelers’ way.”

Strengthening the defense is the fact that Adams had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.185 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Adams still ended up being stabbed, but it will be difficult to eliminate reasonable doubt on the pending charges of attempted murder, conspiracy, and attempted robbery, especially in light of Adams’ inebriation.  Not only does his alcohol content make the defendants’ theory of the case more likely but it also makes it hard to rely on Adams’ recollection of the events in question.

The defendants also claim that Adams’ story has changed along the way, which again makes it hard to eliminate reasonable doubt.

It’s still early, but the prosecution in this case is facing an uphill climb.  The best chance of a conviction could arise if one or more of the three defendants opt to take the stand, and if they can be caught in one or more lies while testifying.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Khalil Mack, Buccaneers reportedly met this week

Trayion Durham, Khalil Mack AP

The Buccaneers signed defensive end Michael Johnson as a free agent last month, a move that filled the pressing need for a pass rusher they had entering the offseason.

It may not have taken them out of the market for one of the draft’s top pass rushing prospects, however. Bucs defensive end Steven Means went to the University of Buffalo with linebacker Khalil Mack and told JoeBucsFan.com that his former college teammate was in Tampa to visit with the Bucs on Tuesday.

It’s the second up-close look that the Bucs have had at Mack this offseason. Defensive line coach Joe Cullen led Mack through drills at Buffalo’s pro day in March and would presumably coach Mack if he wound up as a defensive end in Tampa.

Given the high regard that NFL teams have for Mack, that seems an unlikely outcome unless the Bucs decide to trade up from the seventh spot in the first round.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Robert Griffin III to drive pace car at NASCAR event

Robert Griffin III AP

Robert Griffin III couldn’t steer his team out of a skid last year. Hopefully, Saturday night goes more smoothly.

According to Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News, the Redskins quarterback will serve as an honorary pace-car driver for Saturday’s NASCAR race in Richmond.

The Redskins-NASCAR link is strong, with former coach Joe Gibbs one of the top team owners in stock car racing.

But it was a new-school tie that got RG3 a seat behind the wheel of the pace car.

NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr., a Redskins fan, invited him to the track via Twitter, and the two made the connection.

Now, all the racing fans waving their 3 flags might have a new favorite quarterback.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jeff Demps focusing only on football

Arizona Cardinals v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Last month, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said he was excited to coach the fastest guy in the NFL.

Smith was referring to running back Jeff Demps and his previous coaches never got much of a chance to actually coach him because Demps was splitting his time between football and track. Demps’ choice paid off with a silver medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics, but his track focus didn’t leave much time for football. Demps played two games for the Bucs last year and didn’t play for the Patriots in the 2012 regular season, which makes him largely an unknown on the gridiron at the professional level.

Smith and the Bucs will get Demps’ full attention this year, though. Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune reports that Demps said that he is putting his track career on hold for the foreseeable future and concentrate only on his football career.

Kick returns are one obvious spot to look for Demps to make a contribution to the Bucs in what will be his first real shot at turning his speed into a regular role at the professional level.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mayock: Clowney can be the best player in the NFL, if he wants it

Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney has been the most scrutinized prospect in this year’s NFL draft for a full year now, as soon as we turned the page on the 2013 draft and started looking ahead at the 2014 draft. Much scrutiny has come from Mike Mayock, the NFL Network draft analyst who said he’d take Khalil Mack over Clowney if he had the first overall pick.

But Mayock isn’t saying Clowney lacks talent. In fact, Mayock thinks Clowney is among the most talented football players he’s ever seen.

“He’s the most talented player in the draft,” Mayock told the Philadelphia Daily News. “A physical freak. The only downside to him is whether or not he’s motivated to be the best every week.”

Mayock said he doesn’t think Clowney is a bad person, but he does think Clowney sometimes looks on tape like he lacks effort.

“Every time he’s been motivated, he had a great game. I just think he has to get in a good defensive line room at the next level. Get mentored by the right people. If he wants to be the best player on the planet, he will be,” Mayock said.

The biggest question facing the Texans with the first overall pick is how badly Clowney wants it.

Permalink 15 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Broncos have every intention of picking up Von Miller option

Von Miller AP

As more and more teams pick up the fifth-year option on 2011 first-round picks, the Broncos have yet to pick up the option on linebacker Von Miller.

Eventually, they will.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Broncos have every intention to exercise the option.  Since they have until May 3 to do it, there’s no reason to do it prematurely.

Because the option makes the 2015 base salary guaranteed for injury, any team that exercises the option before May 3 assumes the risk — small as it may be — that the player will suffer a two-season injury during the offseason program.  So why not wait until the last minute to accept that risk?

Speaking of injury, Miller continues to rehab from a torn ACL.  If something goes wrong in his rehab on the team’s facility and that something spills beyond 2014 and into 2015, the team would be on the hook for his 2015 salary.

With Miller, there’s yet another level of risk to consider.  He’s in Stage Three of the substance-abuse program, subject to multiple unannounced tests per month.  One false move, and he’s suspended for a year.  While they Broncos wouldn’t have to pay him if he’s suspended, his status surely would impact whether the team wants to make a major financial commitment for 2015, which then becomes the starting point for a long-term contract.

So it’s smart for the Broncos to wait until the last minute.  It would be smart for every team to wait until the last minute.  By the end of next week, the waiting will be over for everyone.

Permalink 15 Comments Feed for comments Back to top