Titans coach Mike Munchak joins Mike Florio from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ind. After a rough season in 2012, Munchak is hoping a healthy Jake Locker and a productive Chris Johnson can help lead a renaissance season in 2013.
PFT Live: Can Tennessee take a step forward in 2013?
The Seahawks are number one — in performance enhancing substance suspensions.
And according to Mike Sando of ESPN.com, that’s the highest total in the league during that span.
Two other teams, the Broncos and Giants, have had four suspensions each, while the Patriots, Redskins, Bengals, Texans and Rams are tied for fourth with three each.
With 50 total suspensions during that time frame, 22 teams have had at least one.
Only the Bills, Lions, Jaguars, Colts, Chiefs, Jets, Raiders, Cowboys, Eagles and 49ers have stayed off the board.
There have been times in recent years when the Seahawks have been applauded for taking chances in the draft. But there’s a flip side to that, and it bears watching, especially with four guys on the current roster (the Seahawks released Allen Barbre after his suspension, and he’s with the Eagles now) now staring at a possible eight-game suspension if they test positive again.
As the title to this blurb indicates, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has signed a pledge to not use the “R” word.
And, no, it’s not Redskins.
Now, Flacco and two of his teammates — tight end Ed Dickson and center Gino Gradkowski — have signed a pledge to eliminate use of the term. The Maryland Special Olympics page has posted a photo of the signing ceremony.
It’s a potent message to folks who continue to use that word casually, typically with a meaning that is different from its actual meaning. Which can make the person who uses the word completely oblivious to its potentially offensive nature.
Sort of like, well, never mind.
You can’t argue with that as far as getting a healthy body into the lineup to replace linebacker Melvin Ingram is concerned, but Freeney’s previously stated preference to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme and somewhat diminished results in a 3-4 with the Colts in 2012 made “perfect” seem like a bit of an exaggeration. But, as Freeney explained to Peter King for this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback, the Chargers told him that they aren’t going to try to put a square peg in a round hole when it comes to deploying Freeney in 2013.
“They’ll run both. They’re willing to feature me and free me up to make plays. And they’re going to put me in good matchups in the 3-4,” Freeney said.
There wasn’t much point in signing Freeney if the Chargers weren’t going to use him to do what he does best, so we’d expect to see a fair amount of Freeney on the edge with his hand in the dirt on passing downs this season. With Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget capable of generating some interior pressure, the Chargers pass rush should be able to threaten offenses in multiple ways now that Freeney’s in town.
Even though the Chargers have never won a Super Bowl and have played in only one of them, they’ve got plenty of all-time greats.
Possibly, too many to fit on one Mt. Rushmore.
From Dan Fouts to Junior Seau to Kellen Winslow to Lance Alworth to Charlie Joiner to Don Coryell to Ron Mix to Fred Dean to Billy Ray Smith to Rodney Harrison, it won’t be easy to trim to four.
It won’t be easy to trim to a list of 12 finalists. But with your help, we’ll give it a clumsy try.
UPDATE 10:33 a.m. ET: Of course we forgot to mention LaDainian Tomlinson. Making it even harder to get to 12. And then to four.
Now, he’s making another significant adjustment.
According to Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times Picayune, Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis said Smith will open OTAs as an outside linebacker.
The Saints need help at the position, as signing former Cowboys backup Victor Butler was the extent of the additions there. And while Butler could be a good addition — he was productive in spot duty behind two stars in Dallas — the Saints need more.
How the 6-foot-3, 282-pound Smith holds up while standing up will be a key. He’s been a good-not-great pass-rusher in the past, but he’s probably going to need to drop some weight, in hopes of being more fluid than he’s been in the past.
On the surface, it looks like a bit of a desperation move, as the Saints weren’t able to make enough transactions in one offseason to fix a defense that was statistically the worst in league history.
So what happened with Eagles running back Miguel Maysonet in Philadelphia? Per a source with direct knowledge of the situation, Maysonet found himself on the wrong side of a numbers game.
The recent addition of veteran tailback Felix Jones resulted in Maysonet sliding, in the team’s view, to the sixth spot on the depth chart. And so the decision was made to move on.
Despite speculation in some circles that the five-figure signing bonus paid to Maysonet and his abrupt departure after one week of OTA practices speaks to a disconnect between coaching staff and front office, keep in mind that undrafted rookies routinely get sizable signing bonuses — and then routinely get cut.
This year, for example, the Giants gave receiver Marcus Davis a $15,000 signing bonus, and they already have released him.
The balance of Maysonet’s rookie deal will now be subject to the waiver system, given that the Eagles officially have released the former Stony Brook standout, replacing him with undrafted rookie tight end Will Shaw. The teams to watch will be any teams the Eagles outbid to get Maysonet, since those teams can now get him with no signing bonus at all.
If anything, the Steelers pride themselves on continuity.
But when they line up for OTAs this week, they’ll put a different look on the field on both sides of the ball.
As noted by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, they’ll have at least three new starters on defense, a significant shift away from some experienced players.
All three of the new starters fit the Steelers mold of promote from within, having been stashed in reserve in recent years — Worilds and Allen were drafted, McLendon was an undrafted rookie signing who has developed during stints on the practice squad.
But the out-with-the-old isn’t just limited to defense.
And with two new offensive coaches and a special teams coach to integrate, the Steelers need all the getting-to-know-you time they can get this offseason.
The hiring of General Manager Mike Lombardi, the signing of Jason Campbell and Weeden’s own performance last season previously incited such conversations and it’s a safe bet that there will be more of the same in the coming days and weeks. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner thinks that the people having those conversations need to keep a little perspective about where Weeden is in his career.
Turner spoke to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com about Weeden and pointed out some areas where Weeden needs to improve — footwork, playing faster — while also pointing out that the quarterback has “the physical skills to do what we want to do.” He also said that he thought it was wrong to make too sweeping a judgment of Weeden based on the 2012 season because it wasn’t a situation destined for success.
“I think it’s just being realistic about the position. What’s thrown this out of whack a little bit is there have been some players at the position the last couple years that have had immediate impact,” Turner said. “Sometimes that has more to do with the situation they go into as the player himself. I don’t know that there’s a lot of guys in a certain sense last year would have great success offensively at the quarterback position for a lot of reasons.”
It’s amazing how quickly the idea of giving a quarterback time to grow into the job has become as anachronistic as single-bar facemasks, but that’s the reality of a league where rookie quarterbacks seem to lead their teams to the playoffs every year. Weeden’s a slightly different case because of his age and he certainly needs to show improvement to be the guy in Cleveland, but it still seems premature to write him off before his second training camp has even started.
The Chargers haven’t shown much interest in re-singing cornerback Quentin Jammer since he became a free agent in March, but Jammer isn’t giving up hope that the only NFL team he’s played for might still come around.
Jammer was at a charity golf tournament near San Diego this weekend and said that he would like to remain with the Chargers even though General Manager Tom Telesco has been spending the team’s money in other places this offseason. Jammer understands that the team has identified more pressing priorities, but hopes he’s somewhere on that list.
“I’d love to come back,” Jammer said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I’ve had conversations with them. I totally understood the direction they were going in. They said the door wasn’t completely closed. Hopefully, maybe down the road a little bit, the Chargers will offer me something.”
Despite his hopes, Jammer expects to wind up playing elsewhere in 2013. The Redskins hosted Jammer last month — the cornerback called it an “exciting” visit — and have been the only team strongly linked to Jammer since the start of free agency.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says his new quarterback, Carson Palmer, has played better football recently than most people think.
Arians said in an interview on ESPN that he believes Palmer had an outstanding season in Oakland in 2012, and that people who focus on the Raiders’ 4-12 record need to realize that Palmer was not the one to blame.
“What he did last year with the Raiders, in a crazy situation, I thought was very, very impressive,” Arians said.
Arians didn’t elaborate on what he thought was crazy about the Raiders over the last two years, but suffice to say he’s not the only one who viewed the Raiders that way. And Arians makes a fair point: Palmer completed 61.1 percent of his passes, threw for 4,018 yards and had 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Palmer wasn’t the reason the Raiders lost 12 games.
In Arizona, Arians thinks Palmer is going to win a lot of games.
“The biggest thing is his experience level,” Arians said. “He’s tough as nails. As good a deep ball thrower as I’ve ever seen — I mean, really accurate on the deep ball and still has it.”
And now Palmer may finally be in the right situation.
Like most young couples who are on the brink of matrimony, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and his fiancée also are engaged in a harvesting of gifts from family and friends.
And in the bizarro version of the dynamic recently experienced by Tavon Austin and Tyron Smith, Griffin has witnessed a sudden outpouring friends who don’t want him to give them something, but who want to give him something.
As revealed Sunday on Griffin’s Twitter page, fans have bought up the items from the online Bed Bath & Beyond registry of Griffin and his future wife, Rebecca Liddicoat.
Griffin’s timeline starts with an acknowledgement of the spontaneous generosity, and continues with his response to the reactions from folks who think that a multimillionaire shouldn’t be seeking or accepting gifts from fans.
In our view, people can spend their money however they choose, whether it’s buying blenders for their sports heroes or contributing to the jackpot for Powerball, which wouldn’t be nearly as successful if its name captured its essence — a tax on the poor and delusional. The poor and delusional spend lots of money on all sorts of things; if nothing else it stimulates the economy.
While neither poor nor delusional, Griffin reflects the naivete of a 23-year-old. He seemed to be genuinely excited by the unprompted generosity of strangers, and unprepared for the finger wagging from folks who believe a guy who signed a $20 million football contract and who makes millions more from off-field pursuits should be buying his own appliances.
If people want to buy stuff for Griffin or anyone else they don’t personally know, so be it. If other people want to criticize those people for making the purchases or Griffin for accepting them, they can. There’s no right or wrong, just people doing the things they’re entitled to do — whether it’s spending money on someone who essentially is a stranger or spending time worrying about what that stranger and those buying him stuff do.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s message to graduates at Suffolk University: “Be your own person. Make your own decisions. Trust your own instincts. Take risks, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail.”
It looks like former Jets G.M. Terry Bradway survived the shake-up in the front office.
It looks like the Steelers will have a competition for new punt and kick returners.
The Titans will host a 5K run ending on the 50-yard line at LP Field in August.
Running back reps are one thing to watch at Broncos OTAs.
Chris Ault’s arrival in Kansas City could mean a lot of play action on offense this season.
The Chargers website took a look back at the life of the late Chuck Muncie.
The Cowboys personnel department had to do a lot of scrambling to find veteran help because of injuries last season.
Former Giants DT Dwayne Hendricks hopes to get another shot from an NFL team.
The landscape at cornerback is wide open for the Eagles.
Bears P Adam Podelsh organized a fundraiser for a young man with cancer.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank hosted a fundraiser in Atlanta attended by President Obama.
The Buccaneers are playing in a highly pressurized NFC South.
Eric Crouch looks back at his brief time as a member of the Rams.
What will the Seahawks be missing at defensive end early in the season?
With 25 down and seven to go, the team-by-team Mt. Rushmore nomination process is rocketing toward conclusion.
For any of those you’ve missed, here’s the full list of links to the nomination pages for the teams already posted. Feel free to chime in on any, some, or all of them, if you haven’t. Or if you already have.
Over the next few days, the nominations process will conclude and the voting will start and, in two weeks, the process of unveiling each team’s Mt. Rushmore will begin, on NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk.
The Ravens overhauled their defense this offseason, without being awash in salary cap room.
They did it by knowing when to let go, trading expensive-but-old Anquan Boldin, cutting Bernard Pollard and holding the door open for free agents Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed and Cary Williams.
And with more big moves on the horizon for next offseason, the Ravens are already looking ahead at another sticky cap situation.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens have nearly $71 million of next year’s cap committed to six players (that would be 58 percent of this year’s $123 million limit, and the cap isn’t expected to rise dramatically).
So even though they’re looking at another crop of key free agents (Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Michael Oher, Arthur Jones, Corey Graham), they’re confident about being able to keep the right parts together.
“I think the thing we want to do is just live in the moment right now,” assistant G.M. Eric DeCosta said. “Those guys are under contract. They’re all outstanding players. They’re some of the very best players at their position in the league. We just want to play this year. We’ll let those decisions wait until the future.
“We have a lot of flexibility with the cap. [Negotiator] Pat Moriarty and Ozzie do a phenomenal job of making tough decisions. We’ve made a lot of tough decisions over the last couple of years. They’re hard decisions to make. Any time you have to cut a player or let a player go in free agency because of the salary cap, it’s tough to do that.”
Having so many key players hit free agency at the same time is the bane of drafting well. But as the Ravens have shown this offseason, they’re not above letting guys walk and drafting a replacement, or plugging one in whom they drafted a year ago.
That kind of year-ahead thinking and successful drafting is the reason they won a Super Bowl, but have remained competitive for more than one season at a time.
At a time when the NFL wants to get more people from other countries interested in pro football, the best strategy could be getting more people from other countries playing pro football.
As recently explained by Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com, the NFL has seen a gradual increase in the addition of foreign players, with 10 players born outside the U.S. drafted last month. Five of them, including fifth overall pick Ziggy Ansah, were picked in the first two rounds.
Since all played college football in the U.S., it means the NFL found these players in the traditional way. At some point, the NFL could be at the front lines of searching for players beyond our borders.
“We may be at the tip of the iceberg with this,” Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff told Marvez. “Some very talented athletes from other countries as they learn our game and nuances will begin to excel more than others have in the past.
“I think we’ve become a lot more open-minded to the fact we will invite players outside of our country where there was once a stigma attached about not having a true understanding of football. We now say that while they may not have a true understanding yet, the potential athleticism and phenotype suggest there’s some serious upside.”
The goal becomes finding large men who can do what NFL players need to do, and then teaching them how to do it. “There are big, fast, strong athletes with upside to grow into NFL players,” Dimitroff said. “These guys may someday be coming in waves.”
Of course, getting more people in other countries interested in football will result in more NFL body types finding the game, instead of the game having to find them. As more foreign players make their way to America, more will become aware of the path. Also, as more NFL football is played in places other than America, more will become aware of the game.
One major step in that direction would be the recognition of football by the International Olympic Committee. Per Marvez, a ruling on the International Federation of American Football’s pending application is expected by June. Eventually, a seven-on-seven version of football could become the global version of the game.
Whether it’s seven or 11 or any other number, the more exposure the game with the uniquely shaped ball gets in other countries, the more potential NFL players can be found from other places.
Of course, those who balk at the NFL taking “our” game to other countries will surely complain about players from other countries taking NFL jobs. But the obsession with winning will take coaches and General Managers anywhere for potential players, proving once again that a system based exclusively on merit is the best way to ensure diversity and inclusion.