Panthers LB Luke Kuechly led all rookies in tackles, but was he the most impressive rookie linebacker from 2012? The PFT crew debates.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
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As legend has it, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino once told a player who was thinking about leaving for the NBA, “You can go and help your family, or you can stay and help mine.”
Louisville football coach Charlie Strong may want Pitino to keep that sentiment to himself, at least for the next few weeks.
John Middlekauf of CSN Bay Area and Gil Brandt of NFL.com report that Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has contemplated staying in school. Brandt adds that he would be “shocked” if that happens.
We’d be shocked, too. Bridgewater currently sits at or near the top of the expected draft order. He can’t push his stock much higher by staying in school for another year.
Even if he could, the current CBA doesn’t reward waiting. Before 2011, coming back to school could for some players help both the coach’s family and the player’s family by driving up exponentially the player’s expected earnings on his rookie deal. Now, with the dollars at the top of the draft dramatically lower, it’s far more important to get to the NFL and start putting in years toward the second contract, when a player (especially a franchise quarterback) can get paid a lot of money for his services.
For Bridgewater, the question is whether he wants to continue getting paid nothing, while others connected to the program get paid plenty.
Of course, there’s a chance Bridgewater will get paid under the table by someone. (Legal disclaimer: We have no evidence of any kind to support the notion that any player at any college has ever gotten paid by anyone connected to the football program.)
There’s also a chance he’ll end up buying at some point down the road at a reduced cost a bunch of Papa John’s restaurants in a state that has just legalized marijuana. (Legal disclaimer: We have no evidence of any kind to support the notion that the Papa John’s guy would sell a bunch of Papa John’s restaurants at a reduced cost to Bridgewater or any other current or former Louisville player.)
Their status remains up in the air after that practice. Coach Leslie Frazier said that both players are questionable to face the Eagles and that the team will make their final decision on their availability at some point Saturday or on Sunday morning. Frazier did say that Peterson appeared to be doing well with his foot injury.
“It was impressive when you consider the early diagnosis,” Frazier said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He’s unique. Very unique. He’s so different than everybody else when it comes to recovering from injuries. We’ve been in situations in the past where you thought he wouldn’t make it and he made it. So it was always in the back of my mind the chance he would make it. He’s amazing.
Frazier was less effusive about Gerhart, who is battling a hamstring injury and wasn’t able to cut as he would in a game during Friday’s practice. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes is doubtful with a sprained ankle and tight end John Carlson has not been cleared after a concussion.
The 35-year-old Newman has not practiced all week. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Newman has a sprained MCL, an injury that was assumed to keep him out at least for this week.
The only other Bengals player not to practice on Friday was outside linebacker James Harrison (illness). He is probable for Sunday.
Outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (thigh), defensive end Wallace Gilberry (knee), running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), safety George Iloka (concussion), wideout Marvin Jones (shoulder) and offensive guard Kevin Zeitler (foot) are also probable for the Pittsburgh game after fully practicing Friday.
The big top this year has moved from New York to Tampa to Miami to Washington. The tent has remained in D.C. for nearly a week, and a guy who used to play there has given the circus another ring.
Appearing Thursday on Tennessee Sports Radio (via the Washington Post), Haynesworth said that coach Mike Shanahan’s contract includes a provision preventing owner Daniel Snyder from talking at length with players.
“[W]hen Shanahan signed his deal, he made it to where he has in his contract where [Snyder] can’t talk to players,” Haynesworth said. “He can only have short conversations, like, ‘Hey how are you.’ Things like that. I used to talk to Dan and tell him how I’m playing, or what I’m trying to do, or whatever. Not that he went down to the coaches or whatever and said anything; just kind of like a friend I’m having a conversation with.
“And once Shanahan got there, I could never even talk to [Snyder] again. He was never in his office, or he was always busy. I always had to come back or something, which never amounted to me ever talking to him. I mean, the only time I talked to him or saw him was when my brother passed, and he was there for my family and flew us to Nashville and to South Carolina for my brother’s funeral. That was really the only time I seen Mr. Snyder.”
While there could be plenty of other reasons for Snyder avoiding Haynesworth after Haynesworth’s first year in Washington, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Shanahan negotiated a term aimed at preventing Snyder from maintaining relationships with players that could undermine the coaching staff. Indeed, Shanahan had the leverage and the reason to get such a commitment.
As Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com explained on Monday’s PFT Live, running back Clinton Portis relied at times on his friendship with Snyder to get out of practice when Jim Zorn was the coach. We’ve heard other stories of Portis disrespecting Zorn, and of Snyder doing nothing about it.
Snyder badly wanted to hire Shanahan. That gave Shanahan the power to ask for pretty much anything he wanted, including an agreement that Snyder wouldn’t buddy up to players.
If Haynesworth’s assessment is accurate, Shanahan may be holding more cards in this game of contract-buyout chicken than previously realized. At a time when Snyder reportedly is studying the contract for language that would support stiffing Shanahan, it’s possible that Snyder already has violated the deal via a relationship with Robert Griffin III that reportedly put Shanahan at the brink of resignation.
Lee did not practice on Friday because of the neck injury that knocked him out of last weekend’s game against the Bears and Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com reports that several of Lee’s teammates said the linebacker will not play this weekend. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware said it came as a surprise since Lee and the Cowboys have been optimistic all week that he’d be able to play.
“I was surprised,” Ware said. “I just saw him in the meeting and I was like ‘Hey what’s wrong? You alright?’ He was a little bit upset but things happen and you gotta keep rolling.”
The good news for the Cowboys is that they are 2-0 playing without Lee this year while the Packers are 1-4-1 playing without Rodgers. Should those trends hold, the Cowboys will end Sunday with their shot at the NFC East title still very much within reach.
It’s another week without Aaron Rodgers for the Packers.
The team has ruled Rodgers out for the sixth straight game because of a broken left collarbone, leaving Matt Flynn to start against the Cowboys in a game the Packers need to win in order to have realistic hopes of making the playoffs. Coach Mike McCarthy said that Rodgers was upset by the decision, but that he feels it’s the right decision for the organization.
“It’s been a difficult morning going through the conversation with Aaron and Dr. [Patrick] McKenzie,” McCarthy said in his Friday press conference. “[Rodgers] feels like he’s ready to play. He’s very disappointed, he’s frustrated. Speaking with Dr. McKenzie, this is the right decision.”
While it isn’t the decision any Packers fan wanted to hear, it’s hardly an unexpected one given the fact that Rodgers wasn’t cleared medically earlier this week. At this point, it appears to be a decision based on imaging of the injury and there’s nothing anyone with the team can do to make that go their way.
There was better news regarding running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy returned to practice on Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury and he’s listed as probable for Sunday.
The Browns will be short a running back because of a concussion, but the good news (I guess) is that they get a quarterback back.
According to Mate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, the Browns have ruled out running back Willis McGahee for Sunday’s game against the Bears, along with left guard John Greco (knee) and tight end Andre Smith (calf).
In McGahee’s place, fullback Chris Ogbonnaya will get more work, as they’re thin in the backfield. Against a run defense as leaky as the Bears’ it might not matter who’s back there, as everyone seemingly runs for 100 yards against them.
It has been another down season for the Bills, but one of the bright spots has been the play of rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.
As mentioned in Friday’s one-liners, Alonso has played every defensive snap for the Bills this season and he’s done it at a high enough level to be a candidate for defensive rookie of the year honors. That candidacy is secure, but Alonso may not be able to keep up his perfect attendance record this weekend.
Alonso has been limited in practice all week because of a knee issue and he tweaked it in practice Friday. That’s led to a questionable designation, although coach Doug Marrone said the second-round pick is intent on playing against the Jaguars.
“He tweaked it,” Marrone said, via the team’s website. “Talking to him, in his mind he wants to play. We have 48 hours and we’ll see how it goes.”
Whether or not they have Alonso on Sunday, it doesn’t look like the Bills will have to deal with Jags running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew is doubtful to play because of a hamstring injury, leaving Jordan Todman as the likely starter against Buffalo. Wide receiver Cecil Shorts is questionable because of a groin injury, so the Jags may be down two of their top offensive players in a game that will help shape the top of next year’s draft.
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau doesn’t think age is a problem with the team’s defense. He also doesn’t think his own age is a problem.
According to Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, LeBeau said Thursday that he wants to return for another season.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to coach this long, and I want to coach, obviously. Because I am a coach,” said the 76-year-old Hall of Famer. “Again, we’ll have to see if people want you to coach.”
Reggie Bush was viewed as a can’t-miss prospect coming out of USC, where he was the best player in college football. But as Bush wraps up his eighth season in the NFL, he’s viewed not as a great player but merely as a good one. Which in Bush’s mind is not good enough.
Bush said on Jim Rome on Showtime that it’s disappointing to him when he compares what he has accomplished to what he thought he would accomplish in the NFL.
“I don’t feel like I’ve met all the expectations,” Bush said. “Nobody sets higher standards for myself than me. When I was coming out of college, I thought I’d be winning Super Bowls every year, I’d be in the Pro Bowl every year, competing for MVPs every year. It’s been a very humbling experience since the day I set foot in the NFL.”
Forget being a Pro Bowler every year, Bush has never been to a Pro Bowl. And his numbers have been fine, but far from spectacular: He averages about 600 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards a year.
However, despite missing two full games and parts of others with injuries, Bush has a good chance of setting career highs in both rushing yards and yards from scrimmage this season. And he likes his chances of continuing to contribute for several more years.
“I still feel like I have a lot left to give this game and we’re still hacking away,” Bush said. “But I would say my career has been OK. It’s been good but not great. I feel like there’s a lot left in me to give this game, so I look forward to the years to come and I’m going to ride this thing until the wheels come off.”
Bush’s college career was rewritten by others, when his stats were erased from the record books and his Heisman Trophy was taken away because of NCAA rules violations. But the 28-year-old Bush still has a chance to rewrite his NFL history himself, starting now. If big games from Bush lead the Lions to the playoffs, and to their first playoff win since Barry Sanders was in Detroit, Lions fans will remember him as a major success.
The disappointing second season of Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill has come to a premature end.
The Jets announced they placed last year’s second-round pick on injured reserve because of knee problems.
Hill had just 24 catches for 342 yards this season, which is actually an improvement over his rookie year. Granted, he’s not in the best situation to flash receiving talent, but he’s also been part of the problem.
Of course, it’s not like the Jets passed on anyone useful with that pick, so it’s not as if they have regrets.
Thursday night’s stabbing at the parking lot of Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium apparently did not involve issues between Chargers and Broncos fans, according to the Denver Police Department.
In an video update posted on YouTube and linked through Twitter, Sgt. Steve Warneke explains that “it appears that this stems from a traffic altercation.” Warneke says that the suspects were backing out of a parking space and nearly struck the vehicle in which the victims were located.
The condition of the three victims has been upgraded. They have non-life threatening injuries. There still may be a fourth victim.
A 29-year-old man has been held for investigation of three counts of aggravated assault. Two other men have been released pending further investigation.
It looked like one of the dirtiest things you’ll ever see on a football field. But Steelers center Cody Wallace says it was an innocent mistake.
Wallace reached out and touched Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks in a place Starks clearly did not want to be touched during Sunday’s game, and the video isn’t pretty. Wallace, however, says there’s a simple explanation for what he did.
“I was trying to get under the pile and get a hand on the football,” Wallace said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get low enough As soon as I realized what was happening, I definitely stopped. It’s unfortunate it looks that way and came out that way. . . . I thought I was going to be able to get under there and I wasn’t able to and I wasn’t able to get a hand on the football.”
We’ll find out today if the NFL fines Wallace, or if the league office buys Wallace’s explanation.
Pitta will join Mike Florio on Friday’s PFT Live to talk about his return to the field. They’ll discuss how his hip, which was dislocated during summer work, held up in the return to action and how it felt to be a participant in the wild final two minutes of Baltimore’s Week 14 win over the Vikings.
The direction of the rest of the show will have much to do with PFT Planet. We’re looking for your questions, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show.
You can watch it all live at noon ET by clicking right here.
Earlier this week, the names Jim Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin emerged out of the burnt orange in connection with the expected vacancy at the University of Texas.
Since the report came after Tomlin’s weekly press conference but before Harbaugh’s, Harbaugh has been asked about it publicly. Tomlin hasn’t been.
But Tomlin has told the team’s in-house publication, Steelers Digest, that he has no interest in being a college coach.
The question is whether interest could be generated by, for example, a huge financial offer dwarfing his current deal. Surely, there’s an offer that would prompt Tomlin to “lose my placement” as it relates to his employment.
Even if the folks in Austin were willing to break the bank for anyone not named Saban, the question would become whether Tomlin would be able to get out of his contract in Pittsburgh, even if he ever wanted to.
It’ll likely never get to that point. Sure, if the Steelers keep losing beyond 2013 Tomlin may have to consider coaching in college eventually. For now, it appears highly unlikely that he’ll be bolting for Texas or any other college job.