The PFT crew whips around the biggest news in the NFL, starting with the bleak news out of Miami. John Abraham was close to calling it quits, but rumors indicate the defensive end will find a new home by the end of the week.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Can the ‘Phins avoid a political fiasco?
Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan wore No. 97 during his first two years in the NFL, but is sporting No. 99 this season after it became free following Chris Canty’s departure from the team.
Jernigan explained that he made the switch because he admired Hall of Famer Warren Sapp when he was growing up and “definitely wanted to model my game after him.”
“Nasty, ferocious, he came every play,” Jernigan said, via ESPN.com. “You definitely knew he was there and when he made a play. Another thing, he played down in Florida, too, so he was definitely one of the greats from our state.”
If you thought Sapp would appreciate a young player offering a reminder of how good Sapp was on the field rather than the less impressive headlines Sapp has made away from the field, it appears you would be wrong.
Sapp didn’t elaborate as to why he’s bothered by Jernigan’s gesture. Jernigan went to Florida State and Sapp went to Miami, so that could have something to do with a less than gracious response to Jernigan’s nod in his direction.
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown finished the 2015 season with 1,834 receiving yards, which was good for second in the league behind Julio Jones and the fourth-best total in the history of the NFL.
Brown put up those numbers despite playing in an offense that was missing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for four full games and parts of others, leaving many with the opinion that he would have become the first player with 2,000 receiving yards in a season if Roethlisberger had been healthy. It’s also left some of his teammates feeling like Brown could hit that milestone this season.
Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski called it “realistic” and guard Roman Foster said he’s “going to bet on” Brown if the wideout makes a push for the magic number.
“I think it is possible,” wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Just think: Calvin Johnson had [1,942 yards in 2012], so you know you can get close to it. Everybody knows what he is capable of. I don’t want to put that pressure on him, but it is definitely possible.”
Brown wouldn’t make any predictions, saying that it “is a lot of yards” and noting that it remains to be seen how teams will defend the Steelers with Martavis Bryant out of the picture. His chances are also going to be tied closely to Roethlisberger’s health, but Brown’s track record makes his chances as good or better than anyone’s to set a new single-season record for receiving yards.
The NFL hired Joe Lockhart as its new V.P. of communications because he’s well-connected with power in Washington. Here’s an illustration of just how well-connected Lockhart is: When the Obama family moves out of the White House in January, they’re going to move into a house owned by Lockhart.
The New York Times reports that President Obama and his wife and daughters will move into an 8,200-square-foot home in Washington, D.C., which Lockhart owns.
There’s no word on how much rent Obama will pay Lockhart, but estimates are that the house is worth $6 million and the going rate on a place like that is $22,000 a month.
Lockhart was previously the press secretary and senior adviser to Bill Clinton, and the managing director of communications for the Glover Park Group. And now, as the NFL dispatches Lockhart to speak to the wealthy and powerful in Washington, he has another title: President Obama’s landlord.
In a new interview, former Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan hinted that he wasn’t allowed to coach the defense the way he wanted to because head coach Sean Payton took some authority away from him. Payton says that isn’t so.
Payton said this morning on PFT Live that the defense in New Orleans — which set an NFL record for the most touchdown passes allowed in a season — was Rob Ryan’s defense.
“The idea that it wasn’t his defense, or he wasn’t in charge of it, is silly,” Payton said.
Payton said the Saints’ defense repeatedly struggled with fundamentals like getting the right calls and the right players on the field.
“When you’re struggling as bad as we’re struggling for two years, and some of the same problems keep coming up — you know, 10 guys on the field — those are things that just are hard to live with,” Payton said.
Whoever you believe, there’s no doubt that Ryan and Payton didn’t see eye to eye. Now Ryan works in Buffalo for the one coach he’s sure he can see eye to eye with, his brother Rex.
Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson was back on the practice field for OTAs this week, running around with his teammates and hanging out at a charity golf tournament.
The guy he hit in a head-on collision last weekend, however, is still in the hospital recovering from multiple surgeries.
According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, former Duke quarterback Anthony Boone remains at Carolinas Medical Center after procedures to repair hip and hand injuries, following the Sunday morning head-on collision with Thompson’s car.
Thompson was cited for driving left of center, and while alcohol was detected, he was under North Carolina’s legal limit according to police. Thompson said his cell phone fell under his feet, causing him to swerve into Boone’s lane, triggering the crash.
Boone, who was in camp with the Lions last summer, had just gone through a workout for a CFL team. But any thoughts of football are on hold while he recovers. His mother said he still hasn’t heard from Thompson or the Panthers (probably because they’re anticipating a lawsuit).
“He’s doing good. He’s got a long road back, but he’s getting better,” Jenice Boone said. “Praying every day, praying for strength.”
Boone left Duke as the winningest quarterback in school history (19, hey, it’s Duke), and threw for 5,789 yards and 38 touchdowns. He appeared in nine games with the Montreal Alouettes last year. But with a broken hip and ligament and tendon damage to his hand, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be playing anywhere soon.
Bills head coach Rex Ryan and his twin brother Rob have long talked openly about their weight struggles. When Rex hired Rob this year, working together did not help them take the pounds off.
Rex told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com that he’s gained 30 pounds since hiring Rob, and Rob added that he had his lap band surgically removed and has gained 24 pounds. Rex said he hoped the two of them could work together on losing weight, but it didn’t work out that way.
“I was going to get his weight down to mine. No, no, my weight started going up to his. So that’s really what happened there,” Rex said.
Rob said that he started to get his weight under control while working from the Cowboys, going from 320 pounds to 260. But he gained 30 pounds in a month after he was fired by the Cowboys and hired by the Saints, and his weight has been a struggle since.
The Cowboys are happy to explore the possibility of trading guard Ronald Leary, but they’re not going to just give him away.
“We told Ron that he could certainly look around, but we’re not in the business of letting go of good football players for little or nothing,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said, via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News. “We got calls during the draft asking to trade for some of our running backs. We just don’t have that interest. Ron’s a big part of this football team.
“We know it’s disappointing when you’ve been starting and you’re not. We’d hoped that he would look at it as ‘let’s come in here and compete.’ . . . We expect him to come in here at some point. And we want to welcome him with open arms, and hopefully he’s getting in shape wherever he is right now.”
Leary proved to be a perfectly capable starter on good lines in 2013 and 2014, before Collins fell into their laps. There are plenty of places he could probably be starting, but the Cowboys know that too, and have no reason to make a hasty decision.
In the two year since he became an Eagles first-round pick, Marcus Smith hasn’t done much to make people feel the team made the right choice in 2014.
Smith played sparingly at linebacker under former defensive coordinator Bill Davis and the bust word has been thrown around quite a bit. Smith’s chance to erase that label will come as a defensive end in Jim Schwartz’s defense and he believes that it will be a departure from his first two seasons.
“I understand it,” Smith said, via Philly.com. “I wanted to be on the field, but I wasn’t. I learned a lot of things from my first to second year. I think I’ve grown and matured a lot that this third year. You’ll see a different Marcus.”
Smith said he and Schwartz have talked about Jerry Hughes, who went from a disappointing linebacker with the Colts to 10 sacks off the edge as a defensive end under Schwartz in Buffalo. That led to a five-year, $45 million deal for Hughes and the loss of any bust tag that might have been placed on him when he was with the Colts.
Can lightning strike twice? Smith and the Eagles certainly hope so.
Over the past two weeks in Buffalo, it felt like the season already was slipping out of coach Rex Ryan’s control. With a up-or-out ultimatum reportedly in place for Ryan and G.M. Doug Whaley, it’s now clear that Rex and Rob Ryan are taking over.
And for good reason. If a failed season is going to get Rex fired, then Rex wants to be the one responsible for it, with his fraternal twin and other trusted lieutenants at his side.
“We never lost a fight in our life,” Rex Ryan said of his brother Rob in a joint interview with TheMMQB.com. “Ever. And we ain’t losing this one. And that’s a true statement. Not just because we are badasses — because we are, individually — but collectively, it’s a lot different. To this day, no man is going to whip me. Why? Because I’ve got my brother with me. And I’ve got my brother, [defensive coordinator] Dennis Thurman, with me. Ed Reed is here for a reason. These players are going to be like that, too. We want to fight like brothers. I don’t know if we have 100 percent buy-in from even the entire building. I don’t know yet. But the people directly with me, my coaching staff and the players, that’s where it starts. I don’t know all the business people yet; they should be ‘all in,’ but I don’t know. There’s times when the doubt part, that can be driven through the media. But I’m going to surround myself with the very best, and I’m going to win.”
It’s unclear who isn’t buying in, but the reference to business people would apply most naturally to team president Russ Brandon. There’s also Whaley, who may have already sealed his own fate with that goofy “humans shouldn’t play football” remark from earlier in the week. For him, the outcome very well could be: (1) get fired if the team doesn’t make the playoffs; or (2) get pushed out in a Rex Ryan power play if Rex-Rob manages to get the team to the playoffs.
Rex-Rob are surely aiming higher, due in large part to the failing health of their father, Buddy. Asked for Buddy Ryan’s thoughts on the Rex-Rob coaching reunion, Rob said, “He’s struggling. That’s another reason –”
And then Rex finished the thought: “We’re going for broke, man.”
However it plays out, the Bills have immediately have become one of the most compelling teams in the NFL. They’ll be even more compelling when the games begin, especially if in the process of going for broke everything breaks bad.
The Texans defense is shooting for a faster start this season.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is the only hand guiding the Titans defense in 2016.
How can the Broncos defense be better this year?
Delving into concerns about the Giants offensive line.
Tracing the roots of Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s scheme.
The Falcons are trying several things to jolt their pass rush.
Where does Panthers coach Ron Rivera rank in relation to his peers?
The Buccaneers took their rookies golfing.
The Rams will be looking for some new leaders after this offseason’s roster moves.
Rob Ryan was relieved of his duties as the Saints’ defensive coordinator during the 2015 season while the team was on its way to finishing 32nd in the league in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed.
That performance came on the heels of a 2014 campaign that ended with the same ranking in yardage and a 28th-overall finish in points, but it probably comes as little surprise to learn that neither of those performances did much to temper Ryan’s confidence in his coaching ability.
Rob joined twin brother and Bills head coach Rex for an interview with Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com that fits right in with what we’ve come to expect from the Ryans over the years. When asked about why the two brothers have joined forces, Rob managed to promise wins over Bill Belichick and declare his work in New Orleans a success in a short period of time.
“For me, and I’ll speak for myself on this, I have an extra hunger,” Rob Ryan said. “I have always been a guy who is going to work my tail off, and I think I have always advanced the head coach’s plan. But at the end of the day, the last two years in New Orleans were a waste of time for me. I want to give everything I have to a team that I want to be a part of, with a head coach I want to be a part of. Not only is Rex a great head coach, but he is also a great defensive coach. He’s going to be the best coach that I can work for, anytime. And I have worked for Belichick, who is the best head coach in football, in the history of the game. But we’re going to beat him, and we’re going to beat him together. And it’s going to be an awesome challenge. I need to be in a multiple system. I was hired to be in a multiple system in New Orleans, and I did a damn good job and got fired for it. I am more hungry now than I have ever been. So I wanted to go with the right guy. And the right guy is someone I have 100 percent trust in and 100 percent faith in.”
Rob Ryan’s defense of his time with the Saints centers on a 2014 move to make the defense more like the one the Seahawks have been running in recent years. He said signing safety Jairus Byrd “ruined us” and that all teams running a variation of the Seattle defense have been “s—ty” while his biggest mistake was sitting on his hands and letting it happen.
Rex Ryan has said similar things in defense of the Bills’ defensive performance in 2015 and promises a return to his full scheme in 2016 with his brother by his side. Based on this interview, it’s certainly a return/continuation of the full-throated style that will make the Ryans easy targets should the improvement fail to come.
Dez Bryant got caught up watching one of last night’s most intense back-and-forth sporting competitions, and he wants to hang with the winner.
It was 11-year-old Nihar Janga, who was named co-champion when the Scripps National Spelling Bee was declared a tie after 25 words for Janga and co-finalist Jairam Hathwar.
As Harthwar went in for a high five to celebrate, Janga ignored him and threw up the Cowboys wide receiver’s famous “X” as he was mobbed by family members.
This pleased Bryant greatly, and he was quick to reach out to the young speller, writing on Twitter: “
#NiharJanga you just made my whole day buddy.. Congrats on winning the #spellingbee champ.. Some how some way I have to get you to a game #x”
Young Nihar has a bit of showman in him — despite being a fifth-grader, and one of the youngest participants in the spelling bee. At varying points in the contest, he’d show off his knowledge by calling out definitions rather than ask judges for them, and cameras caught him shaking his head like Dikembe Mutombo when Hathwar got a word wrong.
Frankly, we love the blending of art and knowledge, and it is only right that two great sportsmen like Bryant and Janga should get together.
Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi was handcuffed and detained by Fort Lauderdale police, but not arrested, after punching a man in the head in a bar fight last weekend.
While that technically doesn’t reset our days without arrest meter, it’s another incident for a player with a bit of a past.
Via to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, this incident never led to an arrest because the other party didn’t want to press charges.
According to the police report, Misi and a group of friends going into an argument with a man named Scott Cabrera outside the Cyn Nightclub. They separated briefly, but according to the report: “Seconds later, Misi and other members of his group charged toward the nightclub entrance where Cabrera was standing in line. I was unable to stop all of them from charging and ran back toward the entrance, to where I witnessed Misi strike Cabrera in the head, causing him to fall to the ground.”
Misi was ordered to get down, but he tried to run and the cop “executed a leg sweep to bring him to the ground.”
(We knew things might be getting slow for Johnny Lawrence, but had no idea he was working as a Florida cop).
Misi was eventually cuffed and put in the back of a patrol car, but when Cabrera wouldn’t provide a statement or wish to press charges, Misi was released.
The Dolphins issued the traditional “aware/gather information” statement, but reports of the incident came after their post-OTA media availability.
In 2012, Misi pleaded no contest to felony battery with serious bodily injury, after breaking down a man’s door and giving him a beating which resulted in a broken eye socket.
Amid talk that the Raiders could move to Las Vegas, some around the NFL are concerned about playing in America’s gambling capital. But gambling is so pervasive around America today that most NFL teams play near a casino.
That’s the word from the American Gaming Association, which points out that 80 percent of NFL teams play within a one-hour drive of a casino.
The Rams’ new stadium in Los Angeles is being built right next door to the Hollywood Park Casino, which will make the Rams one of six teams (along with the Steelers, Ravens, Lions, Browns and Saints) that play less than a mile from a casino. Another 13 stadiums are between one and 20 miles from a casino, and seven stadiums are 20 to 40 miles from a casino.
Only six teams — the Cowboys, Texans, Falcons, Panthers, Jaguars and Titans — play more than 40 miles from a casino.
The reality is that if playing near a casino is a problem for the NFL, then the NFL already has a problem. Moving one team to Las Vegas won’t change that.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t exactly been a fan of technology creeping onto the field. He doesn’t enjoy having cameramen on the field and microphones picking up everything said at the line of scrimmage.
But Rodgers believes the equipment was detrimental in another way as well. He believes it’s responsible for Randall Cobb suffering a punctured lung in the Packers’ playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals in January.
Rodgers joined his former Packer teammate and current free agent linebacker A.J. Hawk for a nearly two-hour conversation on Hawk’s “The Hawk Cast” podcast and expressed his disdain for the technology creep into the field of play. During the conversation, Rodgers said he believes Cobb’s injury was due to him being mic’d up for the game.
“Randall Cobb had a serious injury last year in a playoff game and I believe, as I think he would as well and the team, that that was caused from him being mic’d up,” Rodgers said. “Because he fell on his mic pack and he had an injury to his insides that kept him out of the game and probably would have kept him out of the rest of the playoffs. The puncture spot, or the injury spot, was directly adjacent to his mic pack.”
Cobb landed hard on his back while attempting to make a one-handed catch late in the first quarter of Green Bay’s playoff loss to the Cardinals. He began coughing up blood on the sidelines and had trouble breathing. He was released from the hospital after an overnight stay and is doing well now.
Whether the mic pack played a part in Cobb’s injury or not, Rodgers still isn’t fond of the technology encroaching on the game.
“Yeah, I think it’s too much information,” Rodgers said. “In 2008 there used to be no headset on defense, so the defense had to signal in every play and that was part of the whole Spygate issue and filming signals and what not. But now you have mics on both guards most of the time and you pick up everything that the quarterback says when we’re at home, and sometimes on the road as well, and I think that’s a competitive edge for the defense and it makes you have to work that much harder with your dummy words and your live and dead words. I mean, that’s part of the game there, but I think that the access is a little bit much.
“I think being mic’d up, when I’m mic’d up, it takes away from the authenticity of the game for me. I don’t feel comfortable mic’d up.”
Hawk then turned the conversation to idea of having point-of-view cameras in quarterbacks’ helmets at some point in the near future.
“Won’t be my helmet I’ll tell you that much,” Rodgers said.
“How are you going to stop them?” Hawk asked.
“I don’t get mic’d up. I’m not going to wear that,” Rodgers replied.
“What if they put them on every guy?” Hawk asked.
“Might have to call it a career,” Rodgers said with a laugh.