Ravens DL Chris Canty talks about his decision to leave New York and head down south to Baltimore. Canty liked the idea of going to play for a team that has championship pieces, but is in sort of a rebuilding mode after losing so many players this offseason.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: One-on-one with Chris Canty
Athletes decline as they age. So it’s a bit shocking to see that the NFL’s oldest player is having what may be his best season.
Adam Vinatieri, the Colts kicker who will turn 41 in three weeks and is the league’s oldest player by 11 months over Washington punter Sav Rocca, is kicking as well as he ever has. Maybe better than he ever has.
Vinatieri is well known for a few big field goals at important times in big games, but on a week-in, week-out basis, his statistics were relatively pedestrian during his time in New England. That’s particularly true on long field goals: In his 10 seasons as the Patriots’ kicker, he made only eight field goals of 50 or more yards, in 17 attempts. But in Indianapolis in the last couple of years, Vinatieri seems to have lengthened his range. Last year he went 4-for-7 on field goals of 50 yards or more, and this year he’s 4-for-6. He’s also 11-for-12 from 40 to 49 yards, which matches his best season ever with the Patriots.
And no, it’s not just because he’s in a dome now and was outdoors in New England: Most of his 50-plus-yard field goals this season have been outdoors on the road.
The Colts’ website makes the case that this is Vinatieri’s best year, and there’s a good case to be made for it. Every athlete declines with age eventually, but for Vinatieri, 40 isn’t old.
The Browns don’t know who will start for them at quarterback on Sunday against the Patriots, but that’s not stopping wide receiver Josh Gordon from making some predictions about what he’ll do on the field.
Gordon is coming off a team-record 261 receiving yards and he needs 41 yards to set the franchise’s single-season record, something he seems pretty confident that he’ll be able to do despite likely coverage from cornerback Aqib Talib during the game.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll make some plays, but I’m definitely going to make more plays,” Gordon said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “NFL cornerback is a hard position to play, and he’s doing a great job right now for that defense. He’s a real physical, scrappy player. But I’m going to come out there and do the same, go out there and make plays myself and try to make sure that nobody can stop me.”
It’s a sizable step up in class from the Jaguars’ rookie-laden secondary to a matchup with Talib, but Gordon’s eliminated most of the questions about his ability to thrive in every circumstance this season. The biggest one left to answer is what he’d be able to do with a strong and stable quarterback leading the offense, but that will have to wait until at least 2014.
Even the good news for the Jaguars comes with an asterisk these days.
After last night’s win over the Texans, their third straight and fourth in their last five games, the Jaguars were riding high. Now they’ll have to wait to see if they’ll have their most accomplished player when they try to extend the streak.
Jones-Drew topped 100 yards for the first time since last September last night. After the game, he said of his condition “I’ll be fine.”
The veteran back hasn’t looked like himself this season, but he also hasn’t been in the best position to perform. The Jaguars are still last in the league in offense, and the early holes they found themselves in weekly during the first half of the season cut into his chances.
On Fridays, we usually open the phone lines during PFT Live. This Friday, we’re not.
But we have a good reason. The second and third segments go to two key figures on two key NFC playoff contenders: Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
Rivera has led the Panthers to eight straight wins. He’s preparing for the team’s biggest game yet, Sunday night at New Orleans on NBC.
Ryans has emerged as the leader of an overlooked Philly defense that has improved on the fly. Among other things, you’ll find out what he’d do if returning an interception along the sideline and the opposing head coach was standing on the edge of the field.
Both interviews are informative and entertaining. I say that with some confidence because both were taped on Thursday afternoon.
The show streams online at noon ET. Click the box in the right rail to watch. Or download Friday’s show and any others on iTunes.
As the Texans pile up the losses, receiver Andre Johnson piles up the numbers.
The man who several weeks ago seemed to be lukewarm about remaining in Houston continues to give Houstonians a glimpse at one of the all-time greats. With 13 catches and and 154 yards on Thursday night in Jacksonvile, he’s now three receptions behind Torry Holt (920) for No. 14 on the all-time catch list, and 46 yards behind Art Monk (12,731) for No. 16 on the all-time yardage list.
He’s even higher on the list as to a couple of specific in-game achievements.
Johnson now has 50 career 100-yard receiving games, which ties him for fifth in NFL history with Don Maynard. And with 10 career games featuring double-digit receptions and 150 or more yards receiving, Johnson is now tied with Jerry Rice for the most such performances in league history.
And Johnson has done it not with Young and Montana but with Carr and Schaub (and Yates and Keenum).
Given what Johnson has accomplished while catching passes from ordinary quarterbacks, it’s hard not to wonder what he would have done if he had spent the last 11 years catching passes from Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Philip Rivers.
There’s still time for that. Johnson is 32. While an assault on Jerry Rice’s records is unlikely, Johnson could finish near the top of the various career lists — especially if he plays with a quarterback who has had a better career than David Carr or Matt Schaub.
It didn’t work out well for the Giants a couple of weeks ago, but Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall is doing some talking ahead of Monday’s matchup with the Cowboys.
The difference is that Marshall isn’t saying anything that will show up on a bulletin board unless there’s a bulletin board devoted to people saying nice things about cornerback Brandon Carr. Marshall avoided any guarantees of victory or bloodshed, choosing instead to talk about how much he dreads facing a player with Carr’s ability.
“I don’t like playing against Brandon Carr,” Marshall said, via the Dallas Morning News. ‘He presents a lot of tough challenges throughout a game. You’ll notice he changes up his game when he plays against bigger receivers. He’s strong. He’s physical. He plays that way against guys like myself. I absolutely hate the matchup. It’s like playing chess out there with him. Every single play is a battle. He just makes you work so hard.”
It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys deploy their pass coverage against the Bears. Alshon Jeffery is coming off a monster game in the loss to the Vikings and teams will have to choose how to defend a team with two receivers that can hurt you. Based on Marshall’s comments, they might be wise to put Carr on Marshall while devoting some extra help to Jeffery’s side of the field.
Unless, of course, that’s just what Marshall’s trying to get them to do.
A year ago, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was determined to come back after his body broke down.
This year, having gotten through his 16th season, he said his future will be determined by things beyond his physical condition.
“I’ll let the season take its course and decompress,” Fletcher said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “You don’t want to make an emotional decision on how you feel during the season. When you win you feel a whole lot better about things than when you lose. That’s how you have to take it.
“There are a lot of things that come to play when you’re deciding whether you want to continue to play: production, performance. Can you play? Health. Do they want you to play?”
Fletcher’s five-year contract was written to void to two years, which will make him a free agent after the season.
But they and he will have to weigh his value carefully. He’s clearly slowing down, and his tackles per game average has fallen from 8.7 per game last year to 7.1 per game this year. And for the first time since joining the Redskins, he’s not the leading tackler, trailing teammate Perry Riley by six this year.
“Last year when I decided I was going to come back and play I threw myself into my workouts and pushed myself beyond what you would think you’d be able to do,” Fletcher said. “I don’t think that will be the deciding factor. It will be other things.”
That sounds like a guy who knows what he’s doing, but doesn’t want to make it official yet.
When Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis left last week’s loss to the Panthers, his absence was termed a chest and shoulder injury.
But Revis might have had another problem.
“They’re saying I got knocked out for a second and came back, but I’m fine,’’ Revis said, via Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. “[The shoulder and chest] are still bothering me a little bit, but I’ll be all right.’’
He said he had no lingering effects of of the groin injury that bothered him going into the Panthers game.
“No, that’s fine and really I’m happy that that is out of the equation, because as a DB we need our legs to run all day,” Revis said. “So, yeah, I’m really glad that’s not a factor any more.’’
Revis had to pass a concussion test before returning to practice, but has worked throughout the week, and should be fine for Sunday’s game against the Bills.
Early this week, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that the team would have to nurse some of their players through injuries this week in hopes of having them on the field against the Vikings.
Linebacker Elvis Dumervil is one of those players. Dumervil injured his ankle against the Steelers on Thanksgiving and has yet to practice this week as a result of the issue.
There’s been no word from anyone around the team about his chances of playing in this weekend’s game. Dumervil, who leads the team with 9.5 sacks on the season, was able to return to the game after getting hurt last Thursday, which is a good sign for his ability to play through the pain even if it is mitigated by the fact that he hasn’t been able to get on the field a week after getting dinged.
Said Bills WR Stevie Johnson of criticism for last week’s fumble, “It makes me work harder. It wakes me up. I feel like sometimes I can get a little lackadaisical and things may happen. I appreciate it. The fans are being real. It’s just a wake-up call.”
Injuries shouldn’t be an issue for the Jets in Week 14.
The Steelers will give Mike Adams another shot at left tackle this weekend.
Said Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, “I do understand that we want to start fast. As of late, we’ve been like the Rocky Balboa of the National Football League. We get bloodied up, but we find a way to finish on top, and we’re going to do that.”
The Chiefs remain confident in their defense despite three straight losses.
The Chargers would like to see more productivity on their kick returns.
The Falcons are likely to have an unexpected 1,000-yard receiver this season.
The Saints can’t underplay the importance of their game with the Panthers.
The Buccaneers hope Sunday’s weather is hot enough to slow down the Bills’ up-tempo offense.
Another week, another tough defense facing the Rams.
That raised the question of whether he’d start this week against the Bills.
“Yep,” defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said, via Seth Walder of the New York Daily News.
But will he finish?
“We’ll see,” Thurman replied.
“You take away that one play in the game, and he actually played a really good game. But you can’t take that one play away,” Thurman said. “And it affects his overall performance. And it affects the overall perception of him. But really, he was playing well. He had pass breakups, he actually was tackling pretty well and he misses that one tackle and it goes for a touchdown.”
The ninth overall pick in the draft has been a disappointment this year, benched three times, and missing three games because of injury.
“At that point, you’re looking for the reaction of the player,” Thurman said of last week’s benching. “And there’s times where you look at him, you look in his eyes, you say, ‘You know what this is not a good look.’ And you say ‘Let’s make the move.’ ”
The Jets need to play whatever mind games are necessary, to try to push him to a performance they think he’s capable of delivering on a more consistent basis.
Harvin didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday, putting his status for Sunday’s showdown firmly in doubt.
Two weeks and five days ago, Harvin made his only appearance of the season, with 19 snaps against the team that traded him to Seattle, the Vikings. Harvin emerged with soreness that neither the bye week nor a night off against the Saints has been able to fully alleviate.
With the Seahawks closing in on the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the best move could be to let him rest up for the next month in the hopes that he’ll be good to go when the Seahawks host a divisional-round game.
Maybe it’s desperation, or maybe it’s just a gimmick to keep players paying attention during a season that won’t end in the playoff hunt.
But whatever the motivation, the Jaguars — yes the Jaguars — are spicing things up with some trick plays at the right time to spark a stagnant offense.
Last week it was running back Maurice Jones-Drew throwing the first touchdown pass by a non-quarterback in franchise history (since 1995). It took less than a week for someone to join him, with wide receiver Ace Sanders taking a lateral from quarterback Chad Henne and firing back across field to Jordan Todman to help the Jags put away the Texans.
“You can only call those on certain down-and-distances,” offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said, via Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union. “You try to get tendencies on coverages and when you think is the best chance to get man coverage. We just felt in that situation, it was a good time to take that shot [with Sanders' pass]. We were thinking about calling it a series or two earlier. The down-and-distance just hit at the right time.
“The ball was also on the correct hash, the right side. It was in the area of the field where we practiced it from, between the 25 and the 15. You don’t want to do those [double passes], in my opinion, and not get a touchdown with it. Things just worked out for us.”
The play worked, and things have sufficiently loosened up. Jones-Drew ran for over 100 yards for the first time in more than a year, and the Jaguars showed something resembling a personality.
They’re still 4-9, and they’re still last in the league in offense.
But for a project which coach Gus Bradley and General Manager Dave Caldwell knew was going to take more than a year, such plays are the kind of thing that helps keep players pulling in the same direction, allowing the organization to work toward a larger goal.
Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw has no intention of calling it a career.
Bradshaw’s season came to a premature end because of neck surgery and he’s had other issues with his neck and feet in recent years, but he told Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star that he plans on coming back to the field in 2014. In fact, Bradshaw says that he feels like he’d be well enough to return this season if the Colts hadn’t put him on season-ending injured reserve.
“I feel like I might be able to play if I could,” Bradshaw said. “I feel great coming out of surgery. I just feel like I needed it. [The doctors] said they took that bulging disc off my spinal cord and my blood pressure and everything just dropped. There was a lot of stress and everything built up in my body from that. That being the biggest nerve in your body, it was pretty serious. But I feel good now.”
That Bradshaw wants to play comes as little surprise. The question will be how much teams are willing to offer in terms of compensation and playing time to a player who has spent a lot of time in the trainer’s room over the last few years.
During the Lions’ Thanksgiving win over the Packers, Erin Andrews of FOX Sports reported that Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been having fluid drained from his right knee throughout the season.
That Johnson has been bothered by his knee is not new information. Johnson has missed one game because of the injury and he regularly sits out a day or two of practice to manage the condition well enough for him to be on the field each week.
Johnson was asked specifically about having his knee drained, but would neither confirm nor deny whether that was part of the maintenance being done to keep his knee feeling good each week. Neither would coach Jim Schwartz, although he did say there would be nothing unusual about such an approach.
“You know me, the answer is no, no and no,” Schwartz said, via the Detroit News. “I wasn’t around or watching TV during those reports. I don’t know that that’s unusual for players in the NFL. This goes back as long as I’ve been here or maybe as long as I’ve been in the NFL that there are a lot of players that have stuff like that which requires to get them to game day, but I don’t comment on any individual player’s injury situation.”
Whatever Johnson’s doing for his knee, there haven’t been any negative effects on the field. He’s got 72 catches for 1,299 yards and 12 touchdowns in 11 games and he’ll set the Lions’ franchise record for career receiving yards if he picks up 40 yards against the Eagles this weekend.