PFT Live: Is Cutler the long-term answer at QB?
The Ravens are still looking for an answer in the return game.
The Bengals are still looking for improvement this week.
Steelers first-round CB Artie Burns will not play this week, but promises he’d be ready next week.
The Titans are still working on their division of labor.
The Broncos were given naming rights to their stadium during Sports Authority’s bankruptcy hearing.
The Chiefs are hearing from some new voices on defense.
Washington has plenty of options at LB, which could make cuts interesting.
The Bears have a stomach bug rolling through the locker room.
Packers G.M. Ted Thompson isn’t ready to talk about undrafted rookies yet.
Former Falcons return man Devin Hester wants teams to call his agent.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Bill Belichick are of like mind when it comes to third preseason games.
The Saints did a nice thing for two fans during yesterday’s practice.
Injuries are testing the Buccaneers’ offensive line depth.
When the Patriots were on their way to winning the Super Bowl in 2014, “Do Your Job” was a familiar refrain from coach Bill Belichick to keep players from focusing on things that fell outside their responsibilities on the field and to the team.
The Patriots took ownership of the phrase by registering three trademarks on it, something Darren Rovell of ESPN reminded his Twitter followers of while posting a picture of the phrase on the wall of the Cowboys’ locker room at their practice facility.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski or someone associated with the Gronk Nation website noticed Rovell’s post and penned a response to something they believe will have them “facing the wrath of Patriots fans.”
“While we all know that the Pats thrashed the Cowboys 30-6 last October and Dallas hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since the 1995 season, so they need all the motivation they can get — but can’t America’s Team come up with their own slogan instead of stealing ours?”
While the phrase has become associated with Belichick, a quick search of the internet shows that it is used quite often in all walks of life and was in regular use long before 2014. From Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to people upset with their elected officials to anyone who has ever been on the phone with an unhelpful customer service representative, it’s a phrase that’s often used without notice.
The trademarks protect the Patriots’ financial interests in that area, so the Cowboys won’t be selling “Do Your Job” shirts of their own. As for appropriating the slogan, you might as well borrow from teams that won if you’re going to borrow at all but we’d probably hold off on Jason Garrett saying the team is “on to ____” at any point this season.
DeMarco Murray’s in a better place. And that’s not just geography talking.
The Titans running back said he feels better from a physical standpoint, but that’s just one of the benefits of being traded from Philadelphia to Tennessee.
“I feel great,” Murray said, via Jason Wolf of the Tennesseean. “My body feels great. Mentally, emotionally I feel great and the team looks well.”
There was no reason he shouldn’t have felt that way a year ago. After leading the league in rushing in 2014, he signed a five-year, $40 million deal with the Eagles. But whether he was used up after such a heavy workload in Dallas or not the best fit for Chip Kelly’s offense, it didn’t work out, and the Eagles were as eager to move him on as they were Kelly.
And it sounds like the difference between Kelly and Titans coach Mike Mularkey is also a big part of the reason he’s in a good spot.
“I just think just the work ethic and coaches just doing what they do,” he said, “as far as practice schedule and meetings and things of that nature, just making sure we’re comfortable, making sure we’re all working hard throughout the course of the day.”
He’s clearly happier, and has a chance to be part of a unique backfield. They drafted Alabama’s Derrick Henry in the second round, and Mularkey intends to use both of them extensively. So far this preseason, both have looked good, with Murray gaining 113 yards on 11 carries, and Henry adding 105 yards on 15 carries.
That’s the kind of production that will keep the coaches giving the ball to them, and that apparently makes Murray very happy.
A pair of veterans hoping to revive their careers in Kansas City got word from the Chiefs that it isn’t going to happen.
Williams last played a regular season game in 2014 when he had eight catches for 142 yards and a touchdown for the Bills. That was a second straight down year for Williams, who had caught at least 63 passes in each of his first three seasons with the Buccaneers. Williams caught two passes for 27 yards in the preseason.
Brown also made his last regular season appearance in 2014, when he played in all 16 games for the Giants. Brown wasn’t as effective as he’d been while intercepting eight passes for the Giants in 2012, which likely had something to do with the torn ACL that kept him out for all of the 2013 season and he failed to stick with either the Giants or the Texans last year.
Nutritional supplements are practically unavoidable in an NFL locker room.
But as he waits for his B sample to be tested which could trigger a 10-game suspension for a PED policy violation, Eagles tackle Lane Johnson said he’s done with them.
According to Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com, Johnson said he’s going to avoid the risk of a potential third suspension (which would be two years) by not taking anything. He contends his positive test comes from a supplement which was approved by the league, but was tainted with a banned substance that was not on the label. He’s also planning to file suit against the company which provided the product.
“Going after them,” he said. “I have people on it to get it done. . . .
“Seriously, I don’t want to have to go through this again. Unless something changes, the policy, I don’t trust anything. I can’t risk it. If it happens again, I miss two years and I’m just not going to risk that happening. I’m not taking any chances.
“Food and water. That’s all I’m going to put in my system. Food and water. No supplements, no powders, nothing.”
Johnson’s in a bit of a limbo at the moment, waiting for final word on a long-reported first positive test. The Eagles have been working him with the second team in the interim, so they can get their Plan B line together.
Of the twelve teams that qualified for the 2015 playoffs, some are destined to not make it back. Today’s PFT Live delves into the subject, attempting to identify the teams most likely to not return to the postseason.
The show gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the NBCSN simulcast beginning at 7:00 a.m. ET. At 7:15 a.m. ET or thereabouts, Rob “Stats” Guerrera and I will identify our four teams most likely to be home for January.
You can pick yours now, by picking up to four in the poll below. We’ll share the numbers and some of the best observations from the comments throughout the program.
During the program, we’ll be joined by a guy whose team has been to the playoffs five straight years (Bengals cornerback Adam Jones) and a guy who coached plenty of teams to the playoffs (Hall of Famer Tony Dungy).
After losing two fumbles in Saturday’s preseason game, Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez was hard on himself, saying, “It’s difficult playing like crap on two plays and ruining an opportunity.” But Sanchez says he’s still feeling positive.
Asked about those comments on Wednesday, Sanchez said he doesn’t think he ruined his opportunity to become the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Instead, Sanchez just thinks he ruined two opportunities for the Broncos to score in their preseason game against the 49ers.
“I squandered an opportunity that game,” Sanchez said. “It wasn’t like, ‘OK, that’s it, throw in the towel.’ I think a lot of people interpreted it that way, but that’s never been my attitude. I don’t quit. I’ll take this thing down to the wire if that’s what it takes, and that’s what it looks like, so let’s go.”
Sanchez may not have ruined his opportunity to earn the starting quarterback job, but he certainly didn’t help his chances. Trevor Siemian has clearly taken the lead in the quarterback competition and will start the third preseason game. And Sanchez may have even fallen behind rookie Paxton Lynch for the No. 2 job.
The Broncos can save $3.5 million in salary by cutting Sanchez, and they would also save the seventh-round draft pick they traded to the Eagles because the trade is conditional on Sanchez making the team.
If Sanchez doesn’t make the most of his opportunities this week, he could be gone next week.
Some thought that retired running back Marshawn Lynch would return to football. He has, technically.
Via ESPN.com, the former Cal running back participated in practice with the Cal football team as it prepares for its season-opening game against Hawaii in Australia.
“He came out to practice [Tuesday], watched practice, actually suited out and took a couple reps as the scout team running back,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes told ESPN.com.
Obviously, Lynch is no longer eligible to play for the Golden Bears. (He’s still eligible to drive a cart around on the field after a big win, however.)
“I told him, ‘If you had one game left, we’d give it to you 50 times,'” Dykes said.
At the NFL level, he has as many games left as he wants.
He has said, adamantly, that he’s done with football. But that doesn’t keep him from changing his mind. And while the Seahawks still hold his rights via the reserve/retired list, if he suddenly were to show up in Seattle and say he’s ready to play, chances are the Seahawks would release him from the reserve/retired list, allowing him to sign anywhere he wants — if he’s released before the trade deadline.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher made it abundantly clear during Tuesday night’s episode of “Hard Knocks” that running back Todd Gurley is not to hit the ground during practice.
“So everybody understands defensively that “30” doesn’t need to be f—— hit in the 9-on-7 (drill). Ok?” Fisher said in a coach’s meeting. “I don’t want “30” tackled. We need “30.” So individual groups let your guys know that “30” doesn’t go to the ground in a team period or a 9-on-7. … We need to treat him like the fricking quarterback.”
On Wednesday, Gurley hit the ground during practice as part of a scuffle with teammates.
“It was his choice,” Fisher said of Gurley ending up at the bottom of a scrum. “We all need to be smarter than that. But, that was his choice. It shows you what kind of competitor he is.”
After the second incident with Gurley, Fisher called a halt to practice before starting things anew minutes later.
“The first drill was really good. And then we got into the second period, they got a little testy so we gave them a timeout. Go sit in the corner, go to your room, take a little time out,” Fisher said. “So we cooled off and we got a lot done. You don’t like to see this happen. I’m not concerned about this carrying over to the games. It was a good learning experience for us, they’re competing, 1s against 1s, we had some good work. At this point, we move on. Start to game plan, start focusing for the Broncos.”
Fisher apparently needs to make sure Gurley gets the message as well about not having their star running back end up on the ground in practice.
Word emerged earlier this week that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson moved his wedding to Ciara out of North Carolina because of controversial House Bill 2, a law that restricts bathroom use to the facilities that correspond with a person’s gender of birth, not the gender he or she identifies with.
On Wednesday, Wilson was asked to address the decision during a routine press conference. He didn’t deny it, but he didn’t elaborate much, either.
“I just believe Jesus loves all people and that’s honestly what I believe,” Wilson told reporters. “I constantly pray for world peace, I pray for peace in the world and I pray for joy, but my focus right now is just on the Cowboys and scoring in the red zone.”
And that was the extent of Wilson’s remarks on the topic. The real question is whether he intended his wedding planner to blurt out the relocation of the ceremony, or whether he would have preferred word of the change to never have emerged, so that he wouldn’t have to address it at all.
Whether Wilson does or doesn’t talk about social issues is his business. He’s hardly unique; when it comes to the small handful of true franchise quarterbacks in the NFL, most have little or nothing to say on controversial topics. Whether that’s because franchise quarterbacks, as team leaders, are more likely to not do anything that may make waves with the coaches or whether franchise quarterbacks are so caught up in their jobs that they don’t have the time or the inclination to worry about anything else, franchise quarterbacks typically remain in their very narrow — but prominent and profitable — lane.
With the regular-season opener little more than two weeks away, the artificial — but very real — deadline for the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees to hammer out a new contract is arriving. Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, Brees reiterated his position that, once the regular season begins, negotiations will stop until the season ends.
“That’s always been my mindset and my approach,” Brees said. “That’s what it was back in 2011. We were kind of in a similar situation and we got into the season, first couple weeks, and I just felt like it was becoming a distraction and I’d just rather focus on football. I hope that we can get something done between now and then, I’m confident that we can but you know at this point still just very much focused on getting us ready to play for Week One.”
A source with knowledge of the situation has suggested that next week could be the week in which something happens. If nothing happens before Week One, and if Brees sticks to his plan to not negotiate once the season begins, the Saints will either use the franchise tag (at a 44-percent raise over his $30 million cap number, which equates to $43.2 million) or they will essentially let the market set his value, hopeful to sign him before he officially hits the open market in March.
As we’ve seen time aged again, if a player hits the market, there’s a chance he hits the road. For Brees, that remains unlikely. It’s less unlikely, however, if a deal doesn’t get resolved by Week One.
Brees said plenty of other interesting stuff. Click the video box to hear it all.
Trevor Siemian will start at quarterback in Denver’s third preseason game; that much is known. It’s also known that Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch will play in Saturday night’s home game against the Rams.
Here’s what isn’t known: The name of the second quarterback to enter the game.
“I’m going to decide that probably at the end of the week,” coach Gary Kubiak told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m going to continue to watch Trevor and how he’s doing, and then make that decision depending on how much we play up front.”
Kubiak is going to watch Trevor in part because Trevor has a bum shoulder, which limited him to taking 80 percent of his normal reps on Wednesday. The real thing to watch is whether Sanchez or Lynch enter the game after Siemian. If it’s Lynch, that means Sanchez could be regarded as No. 3 on the depth chart. If he is, the next question becomes whether the Broncos would cut Sanchez before Week One, avoiding his $4.5 million salary and keeping the seventh-round pick that otherwise would go to the Eagles.
Sanchez still has $1 million in guaranteed salary, but if someone else picks him up, the Broncos would benefit from the offset. Even if he doesn’t play elsewhere in 2016, the Broncos would save $3.5 million and a seventh-round pick by releasing Sanchez.
Of course, this would require heading into the regular season with a pair of quarterbacks who have never thrown a regular-season pass. But if Sanchez can’t beat out either of those guys, that’s a major problem for the fifth pick in the 2009 draft.
Meanwhile, Bosa has missed a month of work and the Chargers will soon start preparing for the regular season without Bosa having played a single snap or taken part in a single meeting unless a deal gets done soon.
The banter Wednesday indicates no deal is close, but Bosa’s college position coach, Larry Johnson, told reporters in Columbus Wednesday night that he believes this standoff will end with Bosa signing and reporting to the Chargers.
“I think he’s going to play,” Johnson said. “I’ve talked to him. He wants to play football but he understands the business side of the NFL…he’s dying to get on the field.”
Cleveland.com posted video of Johnson’s interview. Johnson, the father of the former NFL running back by the same name, was Bosa’s position coach for Bosa’s final two seasons at Ohio State. He now coaches Bosa’s brother, Nick, a true freshman.
“Joey is working hard,” Johnson said. “I talked to his dad today. He’s doing everything he can to get ready.
“If he goes in and he’s in great shape, other than knowing the playbook and playing with grown men, he can still play [as a rookie]. He can catch up. He’s got a great shot.”
Picture this: An NFL preseason game played in a stadium where the league ordinarily doesn’t play games, one night after another event was held at the same venue.
No, I’m not talking about the Hall of Fame Game that wasn’t. Tonight at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, one night before the Falcons take on the Dolphins there, Orlando’s MLS team is playing a game.
This means that the field will have to be reconfigured promptly after the game ends, with all of the appropriate NFL markings painted on the field.
In Canton earlier this month, the painting wasn’t the problem. It was the drying of the paint. Because the field covering was removed later than expected, the paint was still wet as kickoff approached. When someone decided to apply heat to the paint, the rubber pellets that provide cushioning for the artificial turf melted, turning the rubber goo and wet paint into a Deepwater Horizon mess that was unfit and unsafe.
Presumably, the hair dryers won’t be used this time around. Still, the quick turnaround needed to play the game in a stadium that hasn’t hosted an NFL game since 1997 could lead to other problems — especially since there could be separate issues with the infrastructure and other technology needed to properly operate an NFL game.
The agents representing Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa remained silent after the team issued a strong statement regarding the sputtered negotiations on Wednesday. In the aftermath of even stronger comments from Chargers president of football operations John Spanos, Bosa’s representatives have replied.
They’re not saying much, but they have pointed to an alleged 14-day delay by the team in responding to the offer made by Bosa’s camp on July 28. After that two-week period of silence, the Chargers have decided that, if Bosa doesn’t show up right now, he won’t be able to help them much as a rookie.
The bigger problem is reflected in the opening paragraph of the statement: “It is unfortunate the San Diego Chargers have decided to manipulate facts and negotiate in the media. The team surely is not strengthening its relationship with Joey Bosa by taking this stance and making their position public.”
Here’s the bottom line from Bosa’s camp: “The Chargers can focus on trying to sway public opinion, but our focus will remain on our client and securing a contract for him that is fair and consistent with his draft position.”
That continues to be the primary basis for the impasse. Bosa wants to be paid based on his draft position. The Chargers want to pay him consistently with how they have paid every other player they have ever employed, even though they’ve never employed a top-10 pick under the 2011 labor deal.