Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff joins PFT to discuss the next contract for franchise QB Matt Ryan, and speculates about the possible return of Tony Gonzalez saying, “Ultimately it’s up to Tony to decide if he wants to come back and catch 100 balls again.”This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Dimitroff thinks Gonzalez return is 50/50
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul went for a second opinion on his ailing shoulder this week and got some good news.
Doctors told Pierre-Paul that he does not require surgery to fix the problem and prescribed rest as his best course of action at the moment. With so little time left in the season and the Giants out of the playoff race, that might seem like a signal that it is time to shut things down for 2013. Pierre-Paul said it won’t be his decision to shut things down, but he wouldn’t make that call if it was up to him.
“I’ve been battling injuries all year. It’s part of the game. First, as far as getting back surgery, then the knee and then the f—ing shoulder. That’s how it is,” Pierre-Paul said, via the Newark Star-Ledger. “I’m never going to shut it down. If I can go, I’m going to go. It [stinks] watching your teammates play without you. But it’s part of the game. You never know when you’re going to get hurt.”
Pierre-Paul hasn’t practiced yet this week and he’s almost certainly going to miss his third straight game when the Giants meet the Seahawks this weekend. That won’t help the Giants avoid embarrassment, but getting Pierre-Paul back to full strength would make such outcomes less likely in 2014.
Coach Marvin Lewis said only that Newman was sore, but the Bengals made a roster move on Thursday that suggests they’re concerned Newman won’t be able to play. The team has announced that they have promoted cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris from the practice squad and released safety Tony Dye.
Lewis-Harris spent seven weeks on the Bengals’ active roster earlier this season and recorded three tackles in the three games he played during that time. Lewis-Harris also played a pair of games for the team last season. Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Brandon Ghee and Chris Crocker are other possibilities at cornerback in the event that Newman doesn’t play this week.
Dye returned a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Browns last month in the one game he was active for the Bengals.
For the players who respond to such things, the Jets have been willing to provide plenty of bulletin board material to the Panthers.
The latest was wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who, showing a Patton-esque sense of military tactics, has identified a potential weakness in Carolina’s defense..
“Not to call these guys out, but their secondary is probably weakest link on their defense,” Holmes said, via Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com.
Nothing against the venerable Holmes (who may now need to go by Sherlock), but that’s been evident since the offseason, when the Panthers were filling their defensive backfield with cast-offs and undrafted rookies.
For most of the season, the Panthers have been able to get away with it, because of the pressure created by their front four and an excellent set of linebackers. It didn’t work out last week against the Saints, but no one is going to confuse the Jets’ passing attack for that one.
Of course, the Jets started taking shots at the Panthers months ago, with outside linebacker Antwan Barnes mocking their offensive line after Bills defensive end Mario Williams had 4.5 sacks against them.
But that was months ago, before the Panthers wheeled off eight wins in a row and made themselves a playoff team.
Trestman said that the call to put Cutler back in the lineup when he was healthy was made a long time ago and that he didn’t see it as much of a decision despite the fact that Josh McCown has played well in Cutler’s absence. McCown’s play has led some to wonder if Trestman and the Bears are making a mistake by playing Cutler, but Cutler said Thursday that there’s no such discussion inside the organization.
“There’s not a debate in this building and that’s where my concern lies,” Cutler said, via CSNChicago.com.
It’s a call that opens itself up to a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking if the Bears lose in Cleveland, something Cutler acknowledged when he said that there’s not a lot of room for him to be rusty in his return to the field. The same could be said of sticking with McCown when Cutler was healthy enough to play, though, leaving the Bears are left with winning as the only option to avoid blowback in either scenario.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has not been medically cleared to return for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. But Rodgers seems to be getting closer.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said after practice today that while Rodgers was not a full participant, he’s increasing his workload, which would appear to be a positive sign.
“Aaron Rodgers was limited in practice today,” McCarthy said, “He did a little more today than he did yesterday.”
Rodgers will be medically evaluated on Friday, but McCarthy’s football evaluation was positive.
“He’s getting better. He’s Aaron Rodgers. The thing you appreciate is, my man can throw the football. He throws the heck out of it,” McCarthy said.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that Rodgers was moving well and throwing with good velocity during the portion of practice that’s open to the media, which is another good sign. Still, just because Rodgers looks good in a non-contact practice, that doesn’t mean the team’s medical staff is ready for him to go in a game. That decision hasn’t been made yet.
One day after Redskins coach Mike Shanahan conducted a memorable press conference regarding his controversial decision to shut down quarterback Robert Griffin III, Shanahan’s son made it clear that he was among the naysayers.
“You play your starting quarterback, that’s been Robert,” Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Thursday. “I’m pretty disappointed we don’t get to play with him. But it is what it is, and I’m gonna deal with the cards I’ve been dealt.”
Kyle Shanahan also said didn’t know that Griffin would be shelved for Kirk Cousins until Wednesday morning.
“I’ve got zero involvement in that,” Kyle Shanahan said. “I actually game-planned for both all Tuesday. It was a little frustrating to game plan for both. I was told the final decision Wednesday morning, then rolled with it.”
But Kyle wasn’t thrilled with the outcome.
“I definitely made it clear I was disappointed in that. . . . I think it would be good for Robert to get the reps,” Kyle Shanahan said.
If Kyle is telling the truth, Mike could be trying to protect Kyle from the potential fallout of whatever it is that Mike is trying to do.
And it could be that Mike’s broader goal is to protect Kyle’s career. By creating a triangle of dysfunction that focuses on quarterback, owner, and coach, Mike helps ensure that the offensive coordinator will survive the mess with his future prospects as an NFL head coach unaffected.
Thursday’s explanation from Kyle cuts against the perception that father and son are fused at the femur. On Wednesday, Mike seemed agitated and inconsistent. Kyle came off as credible and reasonable.
If Mike gets fired this year, it’s unlikely anyone will hire him to serve as head coach. Kyle, on the other hand, could surface in a place like St. Louis, where Mike’s friend Jeff Fisher could need a new offensive coordinator, given the so-so results generated by the son of former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer.
Texans tight end Owen Daniels is running short on chances to come back from injured reserve.
Daniels was eligible to return to the active roster for last week’s game against the Jaguars, but the short week before a Thursday game didn’t leave him much time to practice and make sure he was ready to go after fracturing his fibula. They have had ample time to prepare for the Colts this week, but the result isn’t any different.
Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com reports that Texans interim coach Wade Phillips said Thursday that Daniels will not be activated for this week’s game. Phillips said he thought Daniels would still play again this season, although it’s probably still fair to wonder if Daniels will come back to play for a team that’s lost its last 11 games.
Daniels’ continued absence could leave the Texans with an issue at tight end. Garrett Graham, who has been targeted often since Daniels has been out of the lineup, missed practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury. Jake Byrne, who backs up Graham with Ryan Griffin, has also been dealing with an illness this week.
Don’t tell Brian Urlacher, but the Bears aren’t listening to him.
When asked about the risk of sitting a hot quarterback (backup Josh McCown), Trestman acted as if it wasn’t a decision at all.
“This decision was made a long time ago,” Trestman said, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t look at it like that.”
As efficiently as McCown has played in his absence (13 touchdowns, one interception, a 109.8 rating this year), Cutler’s clearly the more talented quarterback of the pair. And he’s also the one they’re going to have to make an expensive decision on this offseason.
So even if it’s just to take one last look at him to decide whether to allow him to go to the market, or to sign him to a long-term deal or franchise him, the Bears are going to put him back in there.
Yes, owners were told on Wednesday to expect the 2014 salary cap to climb from $123 million to $126.3 million.
The real expectation is that the expected number will be even higher.
Per a league source, the final number could be more than $127.5 million per team. That would be a 3.65-percent increase over last year.
Last year, the league initially expected the salary cap to inch up from $120.6 million to $121 million. We were told (by the same source) that it would actually be more than $122 million.
The final numbers are announced not long before the start of the new league year in March, at which time every team must be in compliance with the spending maximum.
Ravens safety Matt Elam tugged on Megatron’s cape this week when he said that the Ravens secondary was going to be physical with Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on Monday night because the 28-year-old Johnson was too old to play a physical game.
As you’d imagine, the comments made their way to Johnson on Thursday. Johnson joked that he would show Elam and the Ravens what he could do with his old-man strength and then pointed out that Elam could say just about anything he wants since he and Johnson won’t be going head-to-head during the game.
“He can talk all he wants. He plays back. I don’t see him every play unless I run past him,” Johnson said, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.
Johnson also said he thought that Elam and fellow Ravens safety James Ihedigbo were “nothing extraordinary” and that he thought the Lions will be able to make plays downfield against the Baltimore defense. The statistics bear that out as the Ravens have given up 16 passing plays of 40 or more yards this season, the most in the league.
The Lions are No. 2 on that list, so there’s a pretty good chance of a shootout on Monday night.
They may need some help at wide receiver this weekend, though. Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star reports that LaVon Brazill was out of practice and in a walking boot for the second straight day on Thursday, casting doubt on his availability for Sunday’s game against the Texans.
The injury comes at an inopportune time for Brazill as he has moved ahead of Darrius Heyward-Bey on the depth chart in recent weeks. Brazill played almost twice as many snaps last Sunday as Heyward-Bey and caught three passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Coach Chuck Pagano said this week that Brazill and rookie Da’Rick Rogers each deserved to play more in the coming weeks.
“You know what, they were productive in that football game and they gave us a spark in that second half,” Pagano said, via ESPN.com. “And so certainly they’ve earned a right to play more.”
If things don’t improve with his foot quickly, Brazill may have to wait a bit for that opportunity.
Someone really ought to tell Dashon Goldson how reputations get made.
The Buccaneers safety, who is a regular guest on the league’s weekly fine list and has been suspended for being a repeat offender, said it bothers him that people consider him dirty.
“I remember being on the good side of it, hearing commentators, analysts talking about how perfect, how good, how I do it the right way, and all of a sudden with the new rule I’m a dirty player, a nasty player, targeted and I’m not playing the game how it’s supposed to be played,” Goldson said, via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com. “I think that’s ridiculous, and [I'm] being targeted, I feel, because it’s been a few times people have been in the situation or worse situations than me and haven’t gotten penalized like I’ve been.”
Goldson said he thinks players and coaches respect his style (although he might not have asked the people he keeps hitting illegally).
“I think the players, they understand the game and how it’s supposed to be played,” Goldson said. “They’re more on my side than anybody else, and coaches on top of that.
“Now with the new rule, you do have some of those guys, as far as coaches, who complain about hits. And they’re the same guys I’m sure who are teaching their players how to hit and congratulating them when they make a big hit.”
In a sense, Goldson has a point. Because he’s a recidivist, the league is going to look at his actions more closely, and use him as an example to create a deterrent factor for other players.
But he should also look at the tape, and see how he developed the reputation to begin with.
As the University of Texas does, or doesn’t, search for a new head coach, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh doesn’t seem to be interested.
“Are you trying to be funny?” Harbaugh said when asked by reporters about the possibility of a jump to the NCAA on Thursday, via Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group.
That remark from Harbaugh didn’t make it into the official transcript circulated by the team. This one did: “I don’t ever talk about any jobs other than the one I have.”
He’ll have his current job through at least 2015. NFL coaching contracts typically aren’t as easily escaped as college contracts, unless the coach negotiates the ability to walk away whenever he wants, like Nick Saban did eight years ago in Miami.
Texas isn’t the first high-profile college program to potentially be interested in Jim Harbaugh. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, USC recently made a run at Harbaugh, who “flat out rejected” the overture.
It’s unknown whether A.D. Pat Haden responded by saying, “What’s your deal?“
Harbaugh’s deal is that he’ll likely get a new deal from the 49ers after this season. And if Texas pays Nick Saban or someone else $10 million per year, Harbaugh could be in line for a big raise.
The Lions release their first practice report of the week on Thursday and running back Reggie Bush will be listed as out.
Tim Twentyman of the team’s website reports that Bush is not participating in practice as the team prepares to face the Ravens on Monday night. Bush was questionable to play in last week’s game because of a calf injury, but was on the 46-man active roster for the game before winding up sidelined when he aggravated the injury during warmups.
Bush said Wednesday that there was no way he could have pushed through the injury and played last weekend. He said he plans on playing Monday, though.
“It’s one of those things where I can’t really wrap my brain around it because it’s never happened to me before,” Bush said. “I still don’t really understand how it happened. It’s just one of those things and I look forward to getting back this week.”
Bush’s feelings won’t stop his status from remaining uncertain. Given what happened last Sunday, it will likely remain that way until Bush is actually on the field on Monday night.
Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton will play tonight against the Chargers, but he’s not happy about it.
Knighton is among the many NFL players who have spoken out against the league’s practice of having regular Thursday night games, saying that it shows the league cares more about making money for NFL Network than it cares about giving players enough time to recover between games.
“It’s about the NFL, their logo, making money and what the fans want. You know, they don’t really care about us,” Knighton told the Denver Post.
Knighton says players need a full week to recover from a game, and half a week just isn’t sufficient.
“I say Thursday, I’m probably around 75 percent, 80 percent,” Knighton said. “By Saturday, I’m probably around 90, and Sunday morning I feel good.”
For its part, however, the NFL says there are no more injuries in Thursday games than there are in games on other days. And so, while tonight’s game is the last Thursday game this season, the Thursday games will continue. No matter what the players think.