Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff joins PFT to discuss how he’ll try and get Atlanta over the playoff hump in 2013, if Tony Gonzalez has had second thoughts about his impending retirement, and more.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: How can Atlanta take the next step?
When the Chiefs made Eric Fisher the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft, they didn’t intend for Fisher to be the team’s long-term right tackle. Now that Branden Albert has exited via free agency, Fisher can flip back to his natural position.
“It’s like riding a bike,” Fisher told reporters on Tuesday regarding the change. “I felt good out there today. It’s a lot more natural for me. I’m really excited about it.”
Fisher has been permitted to show up early for camp because of the shoulder injury that resulted in surgery. His weight is at 315 pounds, he’s been lifting again since before OTAs, and he’s ready for his second NFL season.
“I’ve been working my butt of and am just glad to be out here,” Fisher said. “I never really lost strength. I’ve been in there working and when you can’t bench there’s other things you can do and that’s what I was doing.”
Fisher said his shoulder is healed and he’s “ready to go.” Fisher believes he’ll take part in the first padded practice of the year, on Saturday.
Apart from the injury, Fisher struggled at times as a rookie, creating real concerns as to whether he’s ready to play left tackle for the Chiefs.
The Bills’ backup quarterback situation is one to watch, even if only for the events of a season ago.
Starter EJ Manuel missed six games because of injury in 2013, and key veteran Kevin Kolb suffered a career-ending concussion in the preseason, leaving Thaddeus Lewis (five starts) and then-rookie Jeff Tuel (one start) to carry the load at times.
An undrafted free agent from Washington State, Tuel struggled in his first NFL season, completing just 26-of-59 passes (44.1 percent) with three interceptions and just one score. Lewis, who had prior NFL stints in Cleveland, St. Louis and Detroit, fared somewhat better after taking over as the top backup. He was far more accurate, completing 59.5 percent of his attempts (93-of-157). However, he had more turnovers (six) than touchdowns (five).
However, if Lewis is going to win the top reserve role once again, he may have to hold off a challenge from Tuel, who reportedly got some work with the second-team offense on Tuesday. Afterwards, Bills coach Doug Marrone told reporters there was competition for the primary backup job behind Manuel.
“Sure, we have a battle for the second team quarterback,” Marrone said, according to a transcript of his post-practice remarks from the club. “We’re trying to find out who it’s going to be, and Jeff did a nice job in OTAs, and he’s earned himself some more reps.”
The Bills carried just two quarterbacks to begin the 2013 season. And that means Tuel, Lewis and fourth-stringer Dennis Dixon could potentially be fighting for just one spot.
If Joel Dreesen thought tight end pay was unfairly low before, he’s in for a shock this summer, with no pay whatsoever.
The Broncos announced they had released the veteran tight end with a failed physical designation Tuesday.
He caught 41 passes for the Broncos two years ago, but only caught seven passes last year as Julius Thomas flourished as a target for more catches (and ostensibly, more money).
He had three operations on his left knee in the span of a year, and battled through problems with that joint this offseason.
So now the Broncos get to take his $2.5 million in base salary and give it to another tight end.
The Chargers haven’t opened up training camp yet, but they’ve already decided that linebacker Larry English won’t be a member of their 53-man roster.
The team announced Tuesday that they have released English. The Chargers also announced that they have signed center Khalil Wilkes.
English was a first-round pick in 2009, but never developed into the player they hoped to get when they selected him out of Northern Illinois. English made just nine starts in his 52 appearances with the Chargers and produced 11 sacks and one forced fumble over that stretch. Injuries contributed to keeping him off the field, including a pec injury that sent him to injured reserve last season, but English wasn’t much of a factor when he was healthy.
English is not subject to waivers, so he is free to sign with any team once now that he’s been officially dropped by the Chargers.
The lawyers representing former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez wanted to get a wide variety of documents from the team. The team didn’t want to surrender certain things. A middle ground has been identified.
According to the Associated Press, attorney Michael Fee said in court on Tuesday that the dispute has been resolved. Lawyers for both Hernandez and the Patriots declined comment.
The Patriots previously had agreed to surrender 317 pages of personnel records, but the team refused to produce a scouting report and a one-page summary of Hernandez’s pre-draft psychological assessment.
Hernandez’s lawyers have argued that the documents may contain critical information about Hernandez’s state of mind, which could be a hint that the lawyers are exploring the possibility of using some type of insanity-based defense as an alternative to arguing that Hernandez didn’t kill Odin Lloyd.
The Cowboys traded for linebacker Rolando McClain earlier this month as they try to find options to step in for the injured Sean Lee, but it looks like he’s going to miss a little bit of his first training camp with the team.
The Associated Press reports that Judge Bill Cook Jr. ruled that McClain’s trial in Alabama on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct will not be moved from a scheduled Friday start. McClain’s attorney had requested a delay because of the conflict with Cowboys camp, but the linebacker will now either have to settle the case before Friday or miss some practice time while the case is heard.
McClain pleaded not guilty to the charges, which resulted from an April 2013 incident in Decatur, Alabama, last year.
It’s certainly not an ideal situation for McClain, who is trying to resume the football career he put on hold last season to deal with mounting legal issues stemming from his off-field behavior. Even with Lee out of the lineup, McClain faces an uphill battle in a short amount of time to show that he’s both fit enough and committed enough for the Cowboys to keep around.
One of the rites of training camp season is the emergence of the cart as a harbinger of bad news.
And in Giants camp, they’re going to need a bigger one.
While we don’t know the severity of McClain’s problem at the moment, we know they’re already thin there, with linebacker Jon Beason on the physically unable to perform list.
The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl by 35 points over the Denver Broncos in February. They re-signed several key players to long-term deals this offseason and suffered few significant losses to free agency this spring.
With all that in mind, the Seahawks had to come in at the top of our preseason power rankings.
The Seahawks have few questions as training camp gets set to open on Friday. Seattle’s offense has the potential to be more explosive this season with a healthy Percy Harvin in the lineup and Russell Wilson having another year of experience under his belt. The defense will remain as one of the most physically imposing units in the league with their key pieces intact and star-studded secondary locked up for the next few years.
However, the San Francisco 49ers remain directly in the rear-view mirror and the battle for NFC West should once again be must-see entertainment this fall.
Our full Seahawks preview is located here. Tell us in the poll below if you feel the Seahawks deserve the ranking we gave them heading into the season.
The Bengals got ready for the start of training camp on Monday by putting a slew of players on either the Physically Unable to Perform or Non-Football Injury lists.
Two of the biggest names to hit the PUP list were cornerback Leon Hall and defensive tackle Geno Atkins, both of whom are recovering from season-ending injuries during the 2013 season. There wasn’t much word leading up to Monday’s moves that either player was going to need to extend their rehab much longer and coach Marvin Lewis said Tuesday that the team hasn’t ruled out either player practicing before the first week of camp is out.
“Leon’s goal was to be out there the very first practice. He’ll probably achieve that goal,” Lewis said, via the team’s website. “Geno’s goal is to be out there the very first practice. I’m going to keep him from achieving that goal because I want to lay eyes on Geno for a few days. That’s what I told him yesterday. He’s going to start on PUP and as soon as he and I agree he’s ready to go in the rigors of practice, we’ll feel good about it.”
It’s the prudent direction to take since players who participate in practice are not eligible for the regular season PUP list, which requires them to wait at least six weeks before practicing, and the Bengals can remove the designation at any point during training camp.
Hall will take the conditioning test on Wednesday and he should be off the list if he performs well. If Atkins follows suit quickly, the Bengals defense will be shaping up nicely ahead of the start of the regular season.
For all his self-inflcited problems this offseason, weather is the latest thing to keep defensive tackle Marcell Dareus from training camp.
According to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, Dareus wasn’t able to get from his court date in Alabama Monday to Rochester, N.Y. because of bad weather.
“He’ll be with our weight room staff working out as soon as he gets here,” coach Doug Marrone said.
They’re going to give him a few more days before he re-takes his conditioning test, which he failed once already. Between that and arrests for synthetic marijuana and drag racing, it’s been quite an offseason already for the former No. 3 overall pick.
As the Texans and receiver Andre Johnson remain at an impasse over whether he’ll be given a chance to earn back $1 million in a squandered roster bonus, a new development suggests he’ll show up for training camp.
Unless it doesn’t.
Per multiple reports, Johnson was spotted Monday at NRG Stadium, the building in which the Texans play and the location of the team’s facilities. Per a source with direct knowledge of the situation, however, Johnson’s visit to the building doesn’t mean he’ll be showing up for training camp. It likewise doesn’t mean he won’t be showing up for camp.
After the offseason program ends and before the start of training camp, players are permitted to use the team facility to work out on their own, as long as no coach, trainer, or other club personnel participates in the process. That’s possibly all that Johnson was doing — utilizing his free access to the weight room and other exercise equipment at the team facility.
So, yes, Johnson was there. And, no, it doesn’t mean anything, one way or the other.
On Monday, the Tampa Tribune published Tony Dungy’s answer to the question of whether he would have drafted Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly-gay player. Dungy’s 38 words triggered a flood of debate and controversy, and plenty of pointed criticism.
On Tuesday, Dungy issued a statement elaborating on his comments. The full text of it appears here.
Dungy explains that the quotes were obtained in the aftermath of the draft, following the news that Oprah Winfrey would turn Sam’s story into a reality show. (The plug has since been pulled on the project.)
“I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team,” Dungy says.
“I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does.
“I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not.
“I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not.”
Dungy notes that he had been asked those questions in the preceding three months, and that he consistently said that playing in the NFL “is, and should be, about merit.” The question posted by the Tampa Tribune focused much more narrowly than that.
“What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams,” the former Buccaneers and Colts head coach says. “I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization. I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.”
While not mentioned by Dungy, Sam’s status as a marginal prospect likely was a factor in that analysis. Some players are good enough to justify the distractions that come along with employing them, from Lawrence Taylor to Michael Vick to Ben Roethlisberger to Johnny Manziel. Sam, the 249th selection in a 256-man draft, may not be good enough to make it. Thus, Dungy and plenty of other coaches would choose not put on the roster bubble a player whose mere presence could be the equivalent of signing up for Hard Knocks.
And then, if/when the player is cut, the scrutiny intensifies. “Did his teammates not accept him?” “Was there a power struggle in the front office?” “Is the coaching staff split?” “Did something happen?”
Dungy is expected to talk about the situation later this week, on The Dan Patrick Show. Until then, his statement and the context of his original comments should be considered, regardless of whether Dungy’s position is being criticized or praised.
When the real numbers of the long-term contract signed by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became available, it became apparent that any team with a potential franchise quarterback should offer the same deal. Now.
Not surprisingly, a team widely regarded as being extremely careful with money wants to pay its potential franchise quarterback like Kaepernick.
Via Geoff Hobson of the Bengals’ official website, owner Mike Brown believes Dalton’s deal should be in the Kaepernick range. Presumably, a deal already would be done if Dalton’s camp agreed with that sentiment.
And if there was/were/whatever any doubt that the Kaepernick deal is incredibly team friendly, the Bengals’ willingness to give the same contract to a guy who hasn’t won a playoff game proves it. A mere $13 million fully guaranteed at signing on a seven-year commitment from the player. A very late (relatively speaking) April 1 deadline each year for dumping the player before injury-only guarantees become full guarantees. An annual average that pays the quarterback mid-level money now and, given spikes in the salary cap, mid-level money (or worse) in the out years. And an obligation for the player to plunk down a ton of cash for a $20 million disability policy payable to the team in the event that he suffers a career-ending injury.
So, yes, the Bengals should try to give Dalton that same contract. And the Panthers should try to give it to Cam Newton.
And the Colts should try to give it to Andrew Luck. And so on throughout the league as each young quarterback with franchise potential becomes eligible for a new deal.
On Monday, the Giants said goodbye to a memorable player from the Tom Coughlin era when guard Chris Snee announced his retirement.
On Tuesday, they welcomed back another memorable player. The team announced that David Tyree, whose helmet-aided catch of an Eli Manning pass set up the winning score in Super Bowl XLII, will be rejoining the team as the team’s director of player development. Tyree has been working in the league office on player engagement and development and replaces former Giant Charles Way, who has moved onto a job with the league.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy,” Tyree said in the team’s announcement of the hire. “I guess you could say it’s a second homecoming. I’m grateful to have an experience with Charles Way, seeing his growth, his maturity as a professional. It even, to some degree, has impacted my life personally as a professional. Then having this opportunity to fill those shoes, I’m just grateful for the foundation that’s been laid, I’m grateful to be an example and hopefully represent this great organization in the same light and continue the great atmosphere and tradition of a wonderful organization with a premier culture. I’m just thrilled to get in here and serve these players.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Tyree would work with players “to aid them in their continuing education, their development as young men, the opportunities in the business world and in networking.”
Broncos safety T.J. Ward was scheduled for a hearing on assault charges on Tuesday in Denver, but a request from his attorney has led the court to delay the proceedings until August.
The Associated Press reports that Ward’s attorney Abraham Hutt asked the court for more time to review evidence he just received and a judge granted the request. Ward is now due back in court on August 4.
Ward faces misdemeanor assault and disturbing the peace charges as a result of an incident at PT’s All Nude Club in Denver on May 10. Ward is accused of throwing a glass mug at a bartender during a dispute about whether or not Ward was drinking from a bottle he brought with him to the club and was asked to dispose of once inside.
The Broncos signed Ward to a four-year deal this offseason and the former Brown is expected to boost the team’s defense alongside fellow free agent acquisitions DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib. He’s also expected to avoid league discipline that would stop him from performing that role.