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ProFootballTalk: On the phone with Ray Rice
The Chiefs took their time bringing running back Jamaal Charles back from a torn ACL in the early weeks of this season before he returned to the lineup for the last two games.
Charles’ continued immersion back into the lineup has hit a bit of a snag this week. Charles is listed as questionable for Sunday’s home game against the Saints because of some knee swelling that left him as a limited participant in practice.
The extent of the swelling is unknown, but any sign of trouble in Charles’ knee is likely to be taken seriously by the Chiefs given how cautious they were with bringing Charles back into action in the first place.
Spencer Ware has remained the lead back with Charles back in action and that will likely remain the case whether or not Charles is able to go come Sunday. Cornerback Phillip Gaines is also questionable with a knee injury for Kansas City.
Earlier this week, Redskins coach Jay Gruden ruled rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson out for this Sunday’s game against the Lions and suggested that it might not be until after the team’s Week Nine bye before there was a change in his status.
As it turns out, it will be a lot longer than that. Gruden announced on Friday that Doctson will be placed on injured reserve because of the Achilles injury that the first-round pick suffered in the spring and has limited him to two games this season.
“We saw another specialist, a couple of them now, I think with all the work that we put in we thought it was best to immobilize him for a little bit of time and see if that can help by the time he gets out of the boot,” Gruden said, via the team’s website. “Then he’ll need time to see if he’s ready and hopefully we’ll get him back for the last maybe two games of the year.”
Doctson will be eligible to return to action in Week 15, although, as Gruden said, that’s far from a sure thing given how long Doctson has already been dealing with the injury.
Wide receiver Maurice Harris will be added from the practice squad to fill Doctson’s spot on the roster.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t be the only key offensive player missing when the Steelers face the Patriots on Sunday.
Williams has a knee injury and his absence will leave Fitzgerald Toussaint as the backup to Le’Veon Bell. Wheaton has been dealing with a shoulder injury all season and will miss his fourth game of the year while Gilbert will be replaced by Chris Hubbard for the third straight week.
The Steelers ruled out defensive end Cam Heyward earlier this week. Safety Shamarko Thomas will miss a second straight game with a groin injury, which impacts the Steelers more on special teams than on the defensive side of the ball.
Pugh released a statement today saying that when he supported Brown previously, he did not know the full extent of the allegations against Brown, which became public when police documents were published this week.
“I was misinformed and unknowingly speaking with limited information at the time I commented earlier this year,” Pugh said today. “I had no personal knowledge of his behavior at home and obviously do not condone domestic violence of any kind.”
Pugh’s support for Brown struck some as particularly questionable because Pugh has also spoken strongly in support of standing for the national anthem. Some took Pugh’s comments as suggesting that he would support a teammate who beats his wife, but not a teammate who kneels for the anthem.
Pugh now wants to distance himself from that support of Brown. As do the Giants.
Reed was diagnosed with a concussion last week, and given his concussion history it’s no surprise that he’s missing another game. The Redskins play the Bengals next week in London, then have a bye, so it’s reasonable to think Reed will be out until the second weekend of November.
Jackson missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday with a shoulder injury. Redskins Coach Jay Gruden told reporters that Jackson looked “pretty good” in Friday’s practice, but Gruden stopped short of declaring Jackson ready for Sunday. Jackson will be further evaluated Saturday and could end up being a game-time decision Sunday.
The Jets season has been short on good news in the first six weeks and their chances of turning that around against the Ravens this Sunday won’t be helped by the ankle injury suffered by defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.
Wilkerson missed his second practice of the week on Friday due to an injury that Wilkerson said, via Kimberley Martin of Newsday, has been bothering him for the last couple of weeks. Wilkerson had 1.5 sacks in the season opener against the Bengals, but has been relatively quiet over the last five weeks.
Wilkerson is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game as a result of the ankle and it sounds like it might be a situation where time off is called for if he’s going to get past the injury once and for all.
There are also a pair of question marks on the other side of the ball. Left tackle Ryan Clady and center Nick Mangold are both listed as questionable, although both of them were able to practice on Friday.
King County Sheriff John Urquhart blames the NFL for failing to work hard enough to obtain information about the Josh Brown case. The NFL blames the Sheriff’s office for failing to cooperate with its efforts.
The truth, as usual, lives somewhere in the middle, with both sides bearing blame for the NFL’s lack of information at the time Brown initially was suspended only one game. Ultimately, however, the league’s lack of appropriate diligence resulted in the discipline being imposed based on incomplete facts.
Allow me to explain. (As if you have a vote in the matter.)
The materials released by the King County Sheriff’s department earlier this week show that, indeed, the NFL tried to gather information about the case. A woman named Deborah Katz called Josh Brown’s ex-wife, Molly, on June 3, 2015. (The document says 2016, but that apparently is a typo, based on the full context of the report.)
“Molly told me that she had a very limited conversation with the woman and told her that she did not want to speak to her about any of this,” wrote Detective Robin Ostrum of the King County Sheriff’s office. “Molly told me that if it truly was someone from the NFL calling her, she would not trust them to really be having her or her children’s best interest in mind. Molly states that the NFL would only be looking to bury this whole incident and protect Josh. I told Molly that she was under no obligation to talk to this woman, or discuss with anyone that might try to contact her, the nature of the investigation. I told Molly if she wanted, I would call this woman and ask that she not call her anymore; Molly stated that she would appreciate if I would do that.”
Ostrum then explained in the report that she contacted Deborah Katz, who “started pressing me for information on this case.” Ostrum said she would not discuss the case, explaining it was an “open and active investigation.”
“Deborah tried to ingratiate herself to me by telling me she was once a Prosecutor for the State of New York,” Ostrum wrote. “I told Deborah that if that was true, then she should know that I would not discuss an open and active investigation with her. Deborah then asked me why I was saying there was an open and active investigation if the Prosecutor’s Office dropped the charges. I explained to Deborah that the Prosecutor’s Office had not ‘dropped’ the charges against Josh, they had simply chosen not to ‘file’ charges at this time, pending further investigation into this matter, which I was doing.
“I clearly informed Deborah that depending on the outcome of my investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office could still file charges against Josh. Deborah stated that she would call me back from time to time to check on the status of my investigation. Over the next several months I did receive several phone calls from Deborah that [resulted] in the same thing, me telling her I would not discuss my open and active investigation with her. When that didn’t seem to be getting the NFL anywhere, they had a Detective from another local law enforcement agency, who apparent also works as a representative for the NFL, call me and try to get information from me on my investigation. I told him the same thing that I had discussed with Deborah, that I would not share information with him, or discuss my open and active investigation with him.”
The NFL, as noted by senior V.P. of communications Natalie Ravitz on Twitter, also submitted a formal request for public records, apparently on May 26, 2015. The response, along with the public records, finally arrived on October 19, 2016. This explains why media reports regarding the details of the records appeared that same day; others had made a request for public records, and the requests we all filled on the same say.
While it’s clear that the NFL did something to find out more about the allegations and evidence against Brown, the NFL didn’t do enough. It’s one thing to call the same person over and over again and say, “Are you ready to talk about the case?” It’s quite another to employ creative, aggressive, and relentless measures to get around, through, above, or under a stone wall and get to the truth.
Whether it’s contacting the sheriff directly to explain the importance of obtaining more information about the case, pushing Brown, his agents, and his lawyers to pressure law enforcement to conclude the case and release the information, or ultimately threatening to place Brown on the Commissioner’s-Exempt list until the case is closed and the information is obtained, the NFL could have and should have, when faced with that stone wall, done something other than repeatedly bang its head against it.
Law enforcement bears blame as well, given that the investigation languished for more than 14 months, with the case finally closed on September 14, 2016. The timeline suggests that the case fell into a black hole and that, after the league suspended Brown for one game, media inquiries resulted in the case being dusted off and concluded.
That’s unacceptable from a law-enforcement perspective, but it’s hardly unprecedented. Still, the fact that media agitation caused the Sheriff’s office to complete its work proves that the NFL could have pushed the investigation to a conclusion much sooner, with the right approach.
And so the NFL imposed discipline on Josh Brown based solely on information provided by him, without the benefit of the final report or the various attachments that demonstrate a pattern of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. Faced with the choice as to whether the outcome arose from incompetence or design, the safer bet is incompetence, because anyone with an ounce of common sense had to know that, eventually, the investigation would be concluded and a report would be generated for public consumption.
Apart from the league’s decision to suspend Josh Brown for one game based on incomplete facts, these details make the team’s decision to re-sign Brown earlier this year even more confusing. All the Giants had to say was, “Josh, if you don’t find a way to get that investigation finally closed so that the information can be reviewed, we just can’t hire you again.”
Again, this outcome suggests more incompetence than design. Unless, of course, the incompetence flowed not from the efforts to obtain the necessary information but from the belief that the team would be able to brush this matter under the rug and that no one would ever know or care about the truth, especially since it involves a kicker.
During a radio interview on Friday morning, Bills running back LeSean McCoy’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said that a report that his client will miss Sunday’s game against the Dolphins with a hamstring injury was premature and that he expected McCoy to be a game-time decision in Week Seven.
Rosenhaus’ prediction wound up being right on the money. The Bills have listed McCoy as questionable after he was able to return for a limited practice with the team on Friday.
McCoy is coming off two straight big weeks on the ground, running for 150 yards in a win over the Rams in Week Five and going for 140 yards and three scores against the 49ers last Sunday. He tweaked his hamstring in Wednesday’s practice to create the uncertainty about whether he’ll keep it going this weekend.
Wide receiver Robert Woods, who has a foot injury, and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who hasn’t played since returning from a four-game suspension and suffering a hamstring injury, are both listed as doubtful.
Both had missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. Haden has a groin injury that kept him out of last week’s game, and Pryor suffered a hamstring injury during last week’s loss at Tennessee.
Browns Coach Hue Jackson told reporters earlier in the week he was “very hopeful” that Pryor and Haden would be able to play Sunday in Cincinnati. Pryor has a team-high 33 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns.
Haden has previously missed two games due to two different groin injuries. Haden was limited to five games last season by various injuries.
The Browns have also ruled out safety Marcus Burley, tight end Seth DeValve, quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Corey Coleman, who’s not yet been cleared to return to action due to a broken hand.
His weekly Friday radio appearances give Cowboys owner Jerry Jones plenty of chances to talk about his quarterback.
But while he didn’t have an update on Tony Romo’s status today, Jones did offer some good news on several other key injuries.
During his appearance on 105.3 The Fan, Jones said he expects wide receiver Dez Bryant, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and cornerback Orlando Scandrick to play next week against the Eagles after they take their bye this weekend.
Bryant has been out since Sept. 25 with a knee injury, but said earlier this week (when he wasn’t ginsu-ing himself while making soup) that he was ready to return after the bye.
Lawrence suffered a shoulder injury two games into his return from a four-game suspension. Scandrick hasn’t played since Week Two with hamstring injuries
Regarding his starting quarterback, Jones said it was “up in the air,” whether Romo would practice next week, as he recovers from broken bones in his back.
After Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco missed practice on Wednesday, neither he nor head coach John Harbaugh expressed much concern about Flacco missing Sunday’s road game against the Jets due to the right shoulder soreness that kept him off the field.
Flacco missed practice again on Thursday, which may have had some wondering if things were moving in the wrong direction for the quarterback. Friday brought better news, however.
The Ravens announced that Flacco is back on the practice field with the rest of the team for the final day of on-field preparations for the Jets. The team’s final injury report for the week will be released later in the day and Flacco’s return to work would seem to make any listing other than questionable a surprise.
The Ravens have lost three straight games, including last week’s loss to the Giants in the same building they’ll be in to face the Jets.
The Rams have been dealing with injuries to three of their starting defensive linemen in recent weeks and final word on how many of them will be available this Sunday in London won’t come until Sunday morning.
Defensive ends Robert Quinn and William Hayes are both listed as questionable for the game against the Giants. Quinn has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury while Hayes returned to the lineup last week after missing two games with an ankle injury. Both players were full participants in practice the last two days, which would seem to bode well for their chances of playing.
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers won’t play for the second time in three weeks after being ruled out due to a thigh injury. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson is out for the second straight week with an ankle injury.
Johnson’s absence will hurt the Rams as they try to keep Odell Beckham under wraps, but the return of Quinn could help mitigate that absence if he’s in the lineup and able to consistently pressure Eli Manning.
Cornerback Jason McCourty is in his eighth season with the Titans, which means he’s been part of one winning team over the course of his career.
At 3-3 after the first six weeks of this year, the Titans look like they have a chance to increase that number to two. They’re taking a two-game winning streak into this weekend’s game against the Colts and it’s one that they feel like they can win, which McCourty says represents a big change from past seasons.
“I’m very optimistic and excited,” McCourty said, via the Tennessean. “Good things lie ahead. You go into every game right now and you feel like, ‘Hey, we should win this game.’ We’re prepared. … That’s the reason we play this game — to make it to the tournament, and to try to win games once you get in it. It would mean everything. It would mean all those seven years prior that you put into it were worth it.”
McCourty has played a role in changing the outlook for the Titans this year. He’s healthy after missing 12 games last year due to a groin injury that required a couple of surgeries and has 11 passes defensed, which leaves him four off his career high with 10 games left to play in the year. Head coach Mike Mularkey said McCourty looks like a different guy compared to last year and that may help make for a long-awaited different result to the season.
The first episode arrived on Thursday, to a strong to quite strong response.
If you missed it, there’s still time to download the brand-new PA and Florio podcast, before Week Seven arrives.
PA is Paul Allen, the voice of the Vikings who brings a level of “he’s loose” zeal to everything he does. With just enough enthusiasm to get under my skin. Which creates for some interesting exchanges.
Give it a listen, supply a rating, leave a review, and click the “subscribe” button so you’ll have each week’s episode as quickly as possible.
Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has a hip injury that kept him from practicing on Wednesday, and that rendered him limited in practice on Thursday and Friday. But it won’t keep him from playing on Sunday against the Rams.
Beckham has no label attached to him in the final report, which means he definitely will play.