Would the Cowboys draft Morris Claiborne again if they knew then what they know now? Will Janoris Jenkins‘ success change teams’ views about players with off-field issues? The PFT guys tackle these questions and more as they review the rookie crop of defensive backs.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Reviewing the rookie crop of DBs
Jaguars owner Shad Khan wants to know what’s going on.
According to the Associated Press, Khad met with players and coaches Monday, asking “why are we not winning and what can we do to fix it?”
Khan has generally been upbeat and low-profile, but his team is now 14-40 under coach Gus Bradley, and Sunday’s embarrassing home loss to the Raiders included two ejections, one player penalized for a racial slur and way too many flags in general.
Khan reportedly had an open forum, where players and coaches were encouraged to talk about the problems the franchise had, and why they didn’t make the leap so many expected (including someone who picked them to go to the playoffs).
What makes this meeting a concern for everyone with a job there is it’s the second time in a month he spoke to the team. He talked to them prior to their London game, and they responded with a win that time.
If they don’t Thursday night against the Titans, it’s worth wondering how many of the participants in Monday’s meeting (other than Khan) will be around for the next one.
Browns rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, and that’s a good sign as Coleman tries to return from a broken hand.
Coleman previously hadn’t been cleared to practice since suffering the injury on what Browns coach Hue Jackson described as a freak play in practice last month. The injury occurred a few days after Coleman had 104 yards receiving and two touchdowns in Week Two vs. the Ravens.
Jackson told reporters Wednesday that Coleman is “getting closer” to a return but said Coleman probably won’t play this week vs. the Jets.
The injury did not require surgery. It’s likely that Coleman, the Browns’ first-round pick last spring, will wear some sort of protective brace on his hand and that he’ll have to prove he can play with the wrap or brace and still catch the ball before he’s allowed to play in games.
The Browns also listed wide receiver Terrelle Pryor as limited with a hamstring injury. He missed two practices last week and though he played last Sunday he clearly wasn’t 100 percent.
The Lions have been playing without several key players in recent weeks because of injuries, which hasn’t stopped them from reeling off three straight victories.
They may be getting some reinforcements as they try to make it four straight wins against the Texans in Houston this weekend.
Running back Theo Riddick, tight end Eric Ebron and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were all back on the practice field Wednesday. Riddick and Ngata have missed the last two games while Ebron has missed all three games in the current winning streak.
Given the way the Texans defense looked against the Broncos in Monday night’s loss, the return of Riddick could pay dividends for an offense that hasn’t found much consistency on the ground in recent weeks.
Cornerback Darius Slay didn’t practice on Wednesday after hurting his hamstring against the Redskins last weekend. His loss would be a big one for the defense, although another look back at the Texans on Monday suggests the home team might have a hard time taking full advantage of it.
Word earlier this week was that Redskins tight end Jordan Reed would be on the practice field Wednesday after missing the last two games with a concussion and that was proven correct when the session got underway.
Reed wasn’t the only player in the concussion protocol to make it back for a limited practice. Cornerback Josh Norman also got the go-ahead to do some on-field work a few days after being forced out of the team’s loss to the Lions.
The news wasn’t as positive when it comes to running back Matt Jones. Jones didn’t practice due to a knee injury that coach Jay Gruden said Jones reported on Wednesday. Gruden said Jones came in sore and had “pain cutting” while adding that there wasn’t an issue when he ran in a straight line.
Gruden said that the team plans to take everyone with them to London for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. That includes Reed and Norman, although he added that he’d like to have a better idea about their chances of getting fully cleared before the flight takes off on Thursday night.
When the Bills and Patriots got together in Week Four, a pregame scrum occurred before the officials took the field. No flags were thrown (because the officials, you know, weren’t there to throw the flags), but several Bills players were fined after the fact.
The fact that no Patriots were fined suggests that the home team wasn’t in the wrong. The Bills, who will be the home team for Sunday’s rematch, didn’t see it that way. Buffalo safety Robert Blanton called the decision of quarterback Jacoby Brissett and receiver Malcolm Mitchell to jog through the defensive back’s pregame drills “extremely disrespectful.”
Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman vows to retaliate again, if there’s a repeat of the jogging through their pregame drills, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Robey-Coleman, who was fined $10,000 for the Week Four incident, also said he doesn’t mind being fined again.
It’s unknown whether the NFL has altered the pregame procedures, ensuring that officials will be present when players from both teams are on the field. The officials typically don’t come out until 50 minutes before kickoff. The incident from Bills-Pats Round One happened more than 50 minutes before kickoff.
The Titans will be missing a pair of starting defensive backs for Thursday night’s game against the Jaguars.
The team has ruled out cornerback Perrish Cox and safety Rashad Johnson after they missed both days of practice this week. Johnson has a neck injury and Cox is in the concussion protocol after getting hurt against the Colts last Sunday.
The Falcons are worried enough about Tevin Coleman’s hamstring injury that they signed two running backs yesterday.
Today, they’re taking no chances with their other main back.
According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman was wearing a non-contact jersey in practice today, and will ostenisbly be added to the injury report with some undisclosed malady, as the absence of contact seems to define being limited.
With Coleman expected to miss this week’s game against the Packers, the Falcons added some depth by promoting Terron Ward from their practice squad and signing veteran Stevan Ridley.
The Falcons might just be playing it safe with Freeman, but they can scarcely afford to be without him as they try to stop their two-game losing streak. After turning last year’s 5-0 start into an 8-8 finish, plenty of people are already wondering if they’ll keep sliding.
Tom Brady’s mother apparently needs to get her eyes checked.
The woman who gave birth to baby #Tommy nearly 40 years ago believes that her offspring can spring around the field faster than anyone.
During his Wednesday press conference, Brady interrupted a question that mentioned his lack of speed.
“Don’t tell my mom that either because she would totally disagree with that,” Brady said.
So Mother Brady thinks you’re fast, Tom?
“Yes, she thinks I’m very fast,” Brady said. “She says, ‘I think you’re the fastest person on the field.’ I say, ‘Mom, you are crazy. No way.’ That’s moms.”
The broader point was that, even though Brady may lack straight-line speed (except in the beta-carotene challenged rods and cones of his mother), he has developed an explosiveness in tight spaces, allowing him to move quickly in the pocket or, if necessary, to scramble for a key gain.
“We’ve been talking about that for a few years,” Brady said, “just being able to, if there are two or three plays a game that you can make just moving the pocket, or sliding, or buying your receivers more time, or scrambling on third and two, it’s just one more thing that they have to defend. . . . It’s nice to be able to do that because I think it’s a little discouraging for a defense when they feel like they’ve got you covered or they’ve got the right call on it, and all of the sudden — I mean, I don’t think they’re preparing for me scrambling for first downs. I know they’re not working on that. They’re working on stopping Gronk, and stopping Julian [Edelman], and Danny, and [Chris Hogan], LeGarrette [Blount] and James [White]. That’s not one of their top 10 things on their hit list, so I think it’s pretty discouraging when it happens and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Maybe that’s why Brady’s mom thinks he’s so fast. By running when no one else thinks it’s coming, Brady seems speedy because the 11 guys who are hoping to tackle him have been caught flat-footed.
The Bills haven’t swept the Patriots since 1999, which also is the last year the Bills made it to the playoffs. If Buffalo can beat New England for the second time this year, maybe they’ll be on track to get back to the postseason.
Which makes it an important game. Coach Rex Ryan has called it the most important game of the year.
In a conference call with Buffalo media, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked whether he agrees.
“Every game’s important to us,” Belichick said. “It’s the next game, so I wouldn’t argue with that.”
But is it as important as Ryan says it is?
“We play 16 games,” Belichick said. “They’re all important. This is the next one so it’s the important one because it’s the next one.”
He’s right, but he’s missing the point. Some games are indeed more important than others. Down 1-0 in a two-game annual series with a division rival after losing to that team at home, this one is huge because it would give the Bills the head-to-head tiebreaker, in the event they can catch the Pats in the standings.
And a win by New England would be a potential death blow for Buffalo’s chances to become the first team other than the Patriots to win the division since 2008, since it will open up a three-game lead, split the season series, and given the Pats the head-to-head edge in the next tiebreaker, given that the Bills will have three losses in the division.
So, yes, it’s an important game because it’s the “next game.” And it’s even more important because it’s the “next game” (and the last game) against a Buffalo team that already has shut out the Patriots once this year, in their own building.
Never mind elite. Joe Flacco doesn’t think he’s very good at all right now.
The Ravens quarterback shouldered the blame for the team’s slow start on offense, which has them 3-4 going into their bye and ranked 25th in the league in points scored.
“I’m obviously not playing good enough,” Flacco said Wednesday after the team’s final practice of the bye week. “We’re not a good offense and it starts with the quarterback. I got to be better.”
Flacco ranks 29th in the league in passer rating at 75.4, with just five touchdowns against 6 interceptions. But specifically, he could be better late in games, as he’s had the ball late in each of the games during his team’s four-game losing streak.
But coach John Harbaugh was a bit easier on his quarterback than the quarterback was.
“Joe Flacco is the key to our success. So, we need to all do everything in our power that all the things are falling in place for him,” Harbaugh said. “He can play. He can throw it. He can make decisions. He can score touchdowns for us. He can do all the things we need to do. We need to make sure that we give him a chance to do that.”
Of course, getting healthy over the bye week would help, as they’ve missed key offensive linemen (Marshal Yanda and Ronnie Stanley) and their top wide receiver (Steve Smith) for portions of the season. They’re hoping they’ll all be ready when they return to work in a week.
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said after beating the Texans last Monday night that he’d like to continue riding a 1-2 punch of C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker out of the backfield, but circumstances may dictate a different approach.
Mike Klis of KUSA reports that Anderson will miss practice on Wednesday while going for a second opinion on a knee injury that he suffered in the game against Houston.
Anderson got hurt on a run at the end of the first quarter, but was able to remain in the game and ran for 84 more yards after going down on the play. That would seem to provide reason to hope that further examination won’t turn up anything too damaging, although we’ll have to see how the rest of the practice week plays out for more clarity on that front.
Anderson and Booker combined for 190 rushing yards on 33 carries against the Texans, providing the kind of support for quarterback Trevor Siemian that the Broncos need on offense whether Anderson is part of providing it in Week Eight or not.
For now, the Patriots looks to be the best team in the NFL. Just like they did a year ago, when they didn’t close the deal with another Super Bowl win.
The Patriots had a fatal flaw — their offensive line — that kept them from nailing down the No. 1 seed and then from winning in Denver during the postseason.
No team is without flaws. And each contending team has a flaw that can kill their hopes.
Wednesday’s PFT Live featured a look at the fatal flaws of each of the current division leaders. Enjoy.
Which is another way of saying, “I’m too lazy to type them up, and we prefer that you sit through a 30-second ad in exchange for roughly 10 minutes of content.”
Lions wide receiver Golden Tate wasn’t the kind of receiver he thought he was capable of being. And he said it took being benched for him to realize it.
Via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com, Tate said that it took his being parked for most of the second half of a Week Four loss to the Bears for him to realize how he needed to approach his job.
“[The Chicago game] kind of lit a fire under my tail a little bit,” Tate said. “I had to dig deep a little bit. I had to soul search and think about some things. But it just came down to one thing for me — be confident in who I am as a player, work my tail off and control what I can control. And that’s when the ball is thrown my way, make something happen.”
It’s been happening since then, as he’s again making plays downfield, and on a more regular basis. He was averaging 3.7 yards every time he was targeted by Matthew Stafford before the benching, and 11.0 yards per target since. He had 14 catches for 95 yards in his first four games, but has 17 catches for 297 yards in the three games since.
That’s indicative of the progress Stafford and the Lions have made under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, but Tate said the difference for him was based on a simple decision.
“You’ve got two options: Make a play, or not make a play,” Tate said. “Which GT do you want to be?”
Since being benched, he’s back to being the GT he thought he could be.
A suspension kept Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus out of the first four games of the season and a hamstring injury has kept him out of the last three, but the time for Dareus to make his 2016 debut may be drawing closer.
Dareus returned to practice on Wednesday for a limited session for the first time since initially suffering the injury upon his return from the suspension. During his press conference, coach Rex Ryan expressed optimism about getting Dareus on the field against the Patriots this weekend and the Bills may also be getting wide receiver Robert Woods back in the lineup.
Woods missed last Sunday’s loss with a foot injury and also got in a limited practice on Wednesday. With Sammy Watkins on IR and Marquise Goodwin still in the concussion protocol, a return from Woods would be a welcome event for the passing game.
Running back LeSean McCoy did not practice due to the hamstring injury that forced him out last Sunday, leading to questions about whether he should have played at all, and safety Aaron Williams was also on the sideline while recovering from a neck injury.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was back at practice on Wednesday. In a very loose sense that hardly suggests his return to the field is imminent.
Via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Romo threw in individual drills on Wednesday. It’s the first time he has thrown at practice since suffering a compression fracture in his back during the preseason, at Seattle.
Romo has been throwing regularly in recent weeks. His most notable effort came in Week Two, when Romo threw passes before the team’s win at Washington.
With rookie Dak Prescott rolling, the Cowboys have no reason to rush Romo back. Indeed, like most difficult decisions, they seem to be delaying this one as long as they can. Which means that the team is, in a roundabout way, applying the “100 percent” rule to Romo, holding him back until he’s fully and completely healed — and determining whether he’s fully and completely healed based in part on the performance of Prescott.
As long as they’re winning with Prescott, why make any decisions about Romo? As long as Romo, who’s getting $500,000 per week whether he plays or doesn’t, isn’t publicly complaining about the situation, the Cowboys can keep kicking the can unless and until Prescott hits the proverbial rookie wall.