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It’s not easy to cover an NFL team without ever mentioning its nickname. But that’s precisely what the Washington Post will do, from this point forward.
The editorial board of the Post has announced that it will stop using the team’s name, most of the time.
“While we wait for the NFL to catch up with public opinion and common decency we have decided not to use the slur ourselves except when it is essential for clarity or effect,” the newspaper said.
While it’s unclear why or how the Post would need to use the name for clarity or effect, it’s smart to leave a loophole, since the newspaper is in, you know, Washington. The broader loophole comes from the fact that the newsroom will keep using the name.
The Washington NFL team, through spokesman Tony Wyllie, called the move “no surprise.”
“The editorial board has been opposed to the Washington Redskins name for more than 30 years,” Wyllie said, inadvertently gutting one of the knee-jerk argument from the name truthers, who insist that opposition has arisen only recently. “We just wish they would have had taken us up on our offer to visit several reservations to see how much Native Americans embrace and value the name and use it as their own logo and mascots across this country.”
That position ignores the reality that the National Congress of American Indians actively opposes the name. Which is no surprise, since the franchise generally continues to ignore the fact that the NCAI actively opposes the name. If the franchise had simply ignored the debate in 2013 instead of attempting to engage or debunk it, the franchise probably wouldn’t be dealing with an issue that has now grown to the point where the editorial board of the biggest newspaper in the team’s market now refuses to use the name.
Brandon Graham was the Eagles’ first-round pick under a different regime in 2010, but he has never looked like the right fit in the 3-4 defense preferred by head coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis. Graham understands that, but he also understands this: There’s always room on an NFL roster for a guy who can get to the quarterback.
So Graham, who got his second sack of the preseason on Thursday night, feels confident that he’ll play and play well for the Eagles this season. And if the Eagles cut him, Graham thinks he’ll play well for someone else.
“It’s just a tricky situation,” Graham said, via CSNPhilly.com. “Hopefully, I’m here. If not, hopefully I can show somebody else that I can definitely get the job done, and that’s all I’m trying to do. I know I’m not the ideal size and I don’t play as good in space as I would like. I’m getting better at it, but it’s just one of those things where I know I can go get that quarterback, and I know I can play the run good. It’s just in space, I’m trying to get a lot better at that.”
Graham said he hopes the Eagles’ coaches will keep him on the roster because he believes the Eagles are ready for big things this year.
“I come in, practice every day, work hard and I just try to put it on film to show them that I can help this team win,” Graham said. “I’m just trying to secure a spot because I know how great we can be. I know I can get better, and that’s the thing. Man, if I’m here, I know I’m going to get better each week, because my attitude and focus is all about the team. I know we can take it to the next level, and I want to be here to see us win the championship. I want to be a part of it.”
If Graham isn’t a part of it in Philadelphia, he’ll catch on somewhere. Perhaps on a team with a defense that’s a better fit for his skills.
Immediately after defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey had biceps surgery, the 49ers were unsure whether or not he’d miss the entire season.
It’s been a few weeks since the operation and the team is optimistic that they haven’t seen the last of Dorsey in 2014. Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports that coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday that there is a “very good chance” that Dorsey is able to return to the team before the end of the year.
Harbaugh pegged the timetable for Dorsey’s return at three-and-a-half months, which would keep him out of the lineup until the final weeks of the regular season. If the 49ers season unfolds the way the last few have, the team should be in the hunt for the playoffs and/or the NFC West at that point and a healthy return would likely be welcomed given the way injuries can pile up over the course of the season.
If that time frame is accurate, the 49ers will have to either keep Dorsey on the roster as an inactive player or place him on injured reserve with the designation to return after at least eight weeks out of the lineup.
The NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy continues to ensnare anyone but cheaters.
The latest player to be suspended, Chiefs tackle Donald Stephenson, has become the latest to offer up an excuse unrelated to the intentional ingestion of a substance aimed at enhancing performance.
”I’m extremely sorry that I failed to check with the NFL, NFLPA, or Chiefs medical team before I took a medication that requires a therapeutic use exemption,” Stephenson said in a statement issued by the NFLPA. “The rules are strict, and without at TUE, the consequence is a four game suspension. I apologize to the Hunt family, John Dorsey, Coach Reid and his staff, my teammates, and our awesome Chiefs fans. It is not a mistake I will ever make again. I will train extremely hard during my time away from the team, and I will be ready to contribute to my teams effort to win a Super Bowl as soon as I return.”
Stephenson doesn’t say that he had a prescription for the medication that he took. He also doesn’t specify whether the medication is a stimulant or something that would help build muscle mass or speed recovery from injury.
For the Chiefs, it doesn’t matter. For the second straight Friday, they’ve lost an offensive starter to a suspension. (Last week, it was receiver Dwayne Bowe for one game under the substance-abuse policy.) They’ll also be required, by league policy, to pay a share of Stephenson’s lost salary to the league in the form of a fine, since he becomes the second Chiefs player to be suspended this year.
Whenever a General Manager gets fired, his pet projects are living on borrowed time.
So when 2012 third-rounder Michael Egnew failed to progress, he was an easy mark for the Dolphins now that Jeff Ireland is gone.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Dolphins are waiving Egnew today.
Criticism of Egnew was common during Hard Knocks in his rookie season, and with the guy who picked him no longer in charge, it became easier to admit a draft mistake.
He caught seven passes for 69 yards last year, after appearing in just two games as a rookie.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said that he’s done dunking balls over the crossbar, which will save his team penalty yards and save him money.
PFT has confirmed that Graham has been fined $30,000 for a pair of dunks following touchdowns during last week’s preseason game against the Titans. That’s a lot of money to spend for celebrating a touchdown even if Graham had been labeled a wide receiver during his franchise tag grievance earlier this offseason.
In addition to the fine, those dunks led to 15-yard penalties that prompted Saints coach Sean Payton to say he was “very upset” with Graham after the game. Ultimately, Graham, who predicted he’d lead the league in penalties after the rule was changed, promise not to do it anymore.
Should Graham go back on his word, the fines will go up now that he’s racked up a pair of offenses. Given how avoidable and damaging these penalties are, Payton might have to use stronger words than “very upset” to describe his feelings about Graham.
Maybe Bon Jovi should have stuck with the AFL.
As the Arena Football League tries to become a rock-star outfit, more and more outfits are becoming owned by rock stars.
Last year, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS purchased an expansion franchise in L.A. This year, Vince Neil of Motley Crüe will own a new team that will be placed in Las Vegas. The team will be known as the Outlaws.
“The opportunity came up to bring a franchise to Las Vegas and that’s where I’m from,” Neil said in a press release. “Every guy wants to be an ‘outlaw’, so why not give them the Outlaws?”
Two other AFL franchises have played in Las Vegas, including the Gladiators, which moved from New Jersey before moving to Cleveland before qualifying for this year’s Arena Bowl.
The Chiefs were already worried about rebuilding an offensive line, now they’re minus a big part of what was left.
The league announced that right tackle Donald Stephenson was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the performance enhancing substances policy.
“Obviously losing Donald is disappointing, but we are in full compliance with the league’s policy,” the Chiefs said in a statement, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
Stephenson issued a statement through his agent citing the now-common line that he took a medication without a “therapeutic use exemption,” which is the new version of the Adderall defense.
Coupled with the losses in free agency of Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah, and the uneven play of 2013 No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, the Chiefs didn’t need one more problem on the line.
But now they’ve got a big one, for the first quarter of the season.
Although the Jets haven’t officially named Smith their starter to open the regular season, Vick makes it clear that’s where things are heading. It’s something he’s done all offseason, even as some members of the Jets staff and brass have insisted that there’s a more spirited competition than anyone has actually seen unfold. Vick’s said all the right things about Smith and his own backup role, so it would seem that all’s well with the team’s plan to have the veteran ready and waiting if Smith can’t handle the job.
That may not be the case, though. Jenny Vrentas of MMQB.com reports that some Jets coaches “have privately expressed disappointment that Vick didn’t show up more hell-bent on winning the starting job.” One would have to guess that those coaches weren’t the same ones involved with making decisions about the quarterbacks since that has always felt more like it was Smith’s job to lose than Vick’s to win.
“The last five years I spent in Philly, I had some great years and played in some great games and went through a lot. Now it’s an opportunity for me to refresh myself and take a step back away from the game. I’m kind of relishing the moment that I’m in right now,” Vick said. “I am not required to have to do a lot. Preserving my body right now is very important to me, and making sure I can make a strong push late in my career in case I am needed.”
There’s some resignation in his words, but would it really be better for the Jets if Vick was causing problems about not being the starter? He’s said multiple times that he still wants to start and his willingness to accept being Smith’s backup likely had something to do with the likelihood that he’ll be called on at some point this season and the way the Jets presented the situation to him. If there’s a problem with that answer, someone with the Jets should have asked different questions earlier in the process.
Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson didn’t sound too many optimistic notes about safety Delano Howell’s neck injury earlier this week when he said that Howell would need to form an “opinion with his wife and his agent” about next steps.
Whatever those conversations might be, it doesn’t sound like they’ll involve bringing an end to his career. Mike Wells of ESPN.com reports that the injury is not going to force him to stop playing football.
Howell met with doctors this week to discuss the best course of action and, per Wells, the Colts are expected to speak with them on Friday about where things go from here. At that point the timetable for a return to the field will presumably start to take shape.
The injury knocks Howell out his presumed spot alongside LaRon Landry in the Colts defense. Mike Adams is the next man up in that spot.
One of the NFL most disruptive defensive tackles will reportedly return to the playing field on Sunday night.
Bengals lineman Geno Atkins, who hasn’t appeared in a game since suffering an ACL tear on October 31, is slated to play in Cincinnati’s exhibition at Arizona, coach Marvin Lewis said Friday, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“He’s had a great couple weeks of practice. He looks like Geno. I’ve been impressed,” Lewis said Friday, according to the Enquirer.
The 26-year-old Atkins has recorded 29 sacks in four NFL seasons, including a career-best 12.5 in 2012. The Bengals signed him to a five-year, $55 million contract last September.
Sunday’s Bengals-Cardinals game will air at 8 p.m. Eastern on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Titans rookie running back Bishop Sankey has a shot to move ahead of veteran Shonn Greene into the top spot on the depth chart this summer as Greene dealt with knee problems, but he is at risk of fumbling it away.
Sankey has fumbled in each of the first two preseason games and displayed problems holding onto the ball in practice as well. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Sankey needs to show more attention to details like footwork and exchanges with the quarterback because they are the root cause of the fumbles. Sankey appears to have taken the coach’s words to heart.
“You definitely can’t put the ball on the ground. I want to do everything right assignment-wise, execution-wise. That’s really my main focus each and every game, to help the team win,” Sankey said, via 247Sports.com. “It seems like a small detail, but it’s something you’ve got to do right each and every time. It wasn’t an issue for me in college, and I don’t plan on it being an issue for me now.”
It’s hard to think of a running back who made a fumbling problem part of their plan for an upcoming season, but, as Sankey pointed out, holding onto the ball wasn’t an issue for him at Washington. That doesn’t mean the demands of the professional game won’t be and Sankey’s expected rise to a prominent offensive role will take some time if the little things continue to trip him up.
Snoop Dogg has become over the years the ultimate football frontrunner, gliding onto the bandwagon of any team that achieves any real success. He’s apparently anxious to get back on the black and gold party bus.
But he thinks the team needs a little help first.
“Man, the Pittsburgh Steelers need a new f–king offensive coordinator,” Snoop Dogg says in a video posted online. “This guy sucks. Coach Tomlin, this is Snoop Dogg, man. Fire that mutherf–ker and get us a real offensive coordinator. We ain’t won a playoff game since we had that mutherf–ker. Sh-t.”
Snoop Dogg is talking about Todd Haley. And Snoop’s facts are a little off. The Steelers haven’t even been to the playoffs since Haley arrived.
In an Instagram post accompanying the video, he asks, “Bruce Arians where r u?” Actually, Arians is coaching one of the other teams for whom Snoop Dogg has shown support in the past.
Last year, it seemed that Haley would become the scapegoat for the Steelers’ struggles. Instead, the team changed offensive line coaches.
For now, it’s way too early to panic. The offense has been improving under Haley, and there’s reason to believe it will be even better this year. Besides, it’s still the preseason, and last night’s game was marred by the misadventures of a couple of guys who engaged in an activity that fits far more neatly into Snoop’s wheelhouse.
Over the course of the offseason, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford each said that the team wanted to use a variety of running backs this season in order to keep Doug Martin fresh and healthy after his 2013 season came to an early end with a shoulder injury.
As the old saying goes, though, man plans and the injury rate for running backs in the NFL laughs. The Bucs have lost rookie Charles Sims for much of the season to an ankle injury and Mike James is sidelined by a shoulder injury, cutting what was once a deep backfield down to Martin and Bobby Rainey. According to Smith, the result will be a familiar role for Martin.
“With Mike James going down with an injury and with Charles going down, [Martin and Rainey] need to play at a certain level,” Smith said, via the Associated Press. “They’re both good players, but Doug is our bell cow. He likes that role. He’s had a good camp, hasn’t missed a beat.”
If that’s going to work out, the Bucs are going to need to sort out their issues at guard sooner rather than later because there’s only so many times you can send a back into a swarm of defenders before he doesn’t get back up.
The Packers will welcome back an old friend on Friday night when Charles Woodson and the Raiders come calling for a preseason matchup.
We could all probably predict a warm reception for a player who had his best years in a Packers uniform, but for more insight into what’s going on in Green Bay these days we’ll ask Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to share his thoughts on Friday’s edition of PFT Live. Dunne and Mike Florio will talk about what to watch for on the Packers side of the ball in the traditional dress rehearsal for the regular season.
Then we’ll close out the week by finding out what PFT Planet wants to know. Florio will be taking your questions on the Packers, the Raiders and everybody else in the league so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or call 888-237-5269 during the show.
It all gets started at 1 p.m. ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.