CSN New England insider Tom Curran joins ProFootballTalk to break down every detail of the Aaron Hernandez saga. The Patriots released Hernandez a mere 90 minutes after his arrest, and Curran believes it was New England’s only choice in the matter.
ProFootballTalk: Did Pats know of murder charges?
The Lions have had two key offensive players dealing with ankle injuries recently and they got little help from either of them as they came back to beat the Saints in the second half last Sunday.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson never suited up for the game and running back Reggie Bush was mostly relegated to the sideline after returning to the lineup from a week off against the Vikings. Bush played in the first half, but Joique Bell got most of the work down the stretch because Bush’s ankle was bothering him. Bush is adamant that he’ll be back in the lineup for Sunday’s matchup with the Falcons in London.
“I’m fine,” Bush said, via MLive.com. “I mean, I’m not 100 percent. But I haven’t been 100 percent since high school. Got rolled up on a few times and injured in the game. But I felt fine after the game, though. Didn’t have any setbacks, and that’s the most important thing. Looking to just continue to progress every week. I’ll be on the field Sunday.”
Bush had nine touches totaling 32 yards against the Saints and it has been several weeks since he’s given much of a boost to the Lions’ offensive attack. If the Falcons put up the kind of effort we’ve seen from them the last few weeks, Detroit might not need much from Bush to get a win and go on a bye that will give him and Johnson some extra time to get right before the second half of the season.
The Titans had an extra roster spot, created when tight end Brett Brackett on Monday.
On Monday night, Chris Mortensen of ESPN confirmed the PFT report.
Mortensen points out that the move wouldn’t be unprecedented, citing the reduction in Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension to four games in 2010. But there’s a big difference in Smith’s case. Roethlisberger — and the rest of the world — knew that his suspension could be reduced. When Smith was suspended, the NFL said nothing publicly about a possible reduction.
With the 49ers currently on a bye, the NFL doesn’t need to say anything immediately. Next Monday or Tuesday, the league could say that Smith will be back for the November 2 game against the Rams. Or the following Monday or Tuesday, the league could say that Smith will be back for the November 9 game against the Saints.
Apparently, the “adult beverage” wasn’t enough to take the edge off Reggie Wayne’s elbow.
According to Mike Chappell of RTV6 in Indianapolis, the Colts wide receiver is expected to miss a game or two because of an elbow injury suffered early in Sunday’s win over the Bengals.
He fell after a play, bracing himself with his left arm as he fell. He had an MRI yesterday, but no results were announced.
Wayne suggested he wasn’t that concerned after the game.
“I’m good now,” he said. “I just kind of fell on it, fell on my arm. Go home, have an adult beverage and see how it feels in the morning.”
The veteran receiver’s numbers have been down in recent weeks (eight catches for 50 yards the last two games), but he was playing well prior to that (14 for 196 against the Titans and Ravens), an impressive comeback for a 35-year-old who tore his ACL last year.
But if he’s not back for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, Hakeem Nicks will have to take on a bigger role.
The Broncos won’t have running back Montee Ball back for Thursday’s game against the Chargers and their backfield will have a different look than it has in the past two games without Ball.
Denver signed running back Kapri Bibbs off of their practice squad and he’ll join Ronnie Hillman, Juwan Thompson and C.J. Anderson at the position. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett was waived to make room for Bibbs on the active roster.
Bibbs signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in the offseason and ran for 84 yards and three touchdowns on 19 preseason carries. Bibbs played his college ball at nearby Colorado State, where he ran for 30 touchdowns in 2013. Ball and Barry Sanders are the only other players to pull off that feat at the highest level of NCAA football.
That scoring touch may have caught the eye of other teams and led the Broncos to promote Bibbs before someone could sign him away. Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports that other teams had expressed interest in doing just that.
Given some time to stretch, Bears guard Kyle Long was able to reach all the way up to take the foot out of his mouth.
After blaming Bears fans (Yep, it was their fault) in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, Long came back Monday and told WXRT-FM that “it was wrong for me to point fingers at the fans.”
“I just think [reporters] had asked everybody in the locker room how they felt about [fans booing], and a lot of the guys didn’t take the bait,” Long said, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “Obviously emotions are running high after a game. Obviously if we were giving them something to cheer about there would be a lot more cheers coming off the field at halftime. Hopefully the score would be a little bit closer as well.
“That falls on our shoulders. It’s unfair to put it on the fans. There was a lot of frustration after the game. You work hard all week. You’re trying to string some wins together. You’re at home. You feel like you’re riding some momentum, and to be down 14-0 going into the half, it’s tough. It’s tough on everybody.”
So it’s not solely the fans’ fault. The media is partly to blame too. They must get tired, what with making concussion symptoms linger and now this.
At least Long realized that antagonizing the paying customers wasn’t the right call for a 3-4 team that’s slipping out of contention for the NFC North title.
The Buccaneers worked out kick returner Trindon Holliday on Monday and things appear to have gone well.
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the team plans to sign the veteran returner to their 53-man roster. Holliday signed with the Giants in the offseason, but he came down with a hamstring injury in the summer and landed on injured reserve. The Giants released Holliday from injured reserve earlier this month, leaving him free to sign anywhere.
Holliday scored four times for the Broncos over the last two seasons — twice on kickoff returns and twice on punt returns — but also fumbled 10 times, which makes him pretty much the definition of a boom or bust return option. The Bucs will naturally be hoping for more boom, especially with Holliday offering nothing but return work to his team.
There’s no word on a corresponding move, but it’s probably not great news for current Bucs returner Solomon Patton that the team is looking for a new player at his position.
Amid plenty of reports and rumors and speculation about the looming relocation of the Rams, Raiders, or Chargers to Los Angeles, the NFL has begun actively exploring what folks in L.A. want from a new stadium.
According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, the NFL will launch a formal assessment of the market. Specifically, questionnaires will be sent via email to roughly 2,000 potential customers. The goal will be to gauge the overall demand for an NFL team, along with the expectations regarding stadium, seating, and stadium amenities.
While the potential return of the NFL has been discussed ever since the Raiders and Rams left 20 years ago, Farmer reports that this is the first time since the 1990s that the NFL has comprehensively surveyed citizens in the L.A. market.
Farmer explains that the survey targets folks likely to buy luxury suites, club seats, and season tickets. One of the best arguments in favor of a return to L.A. comes from the size of the market. The more people there are, the more likely it is that enough people will buy all of the tickets and club seats and suites on a regular basis.
It makes sense to do some work to confirm that, since it would be embarrassing, to say the least, if the NFL’s return is met with fans disguised as plastic chairs sans butts in them.
The Giants have lost their last two games in fairly convincing fashion, but that’s not shaking defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s confidence in what the team can achieve this season.
Pierre-Paul has looked at the Giants’ schedule — they host the Colts, travel to Seattle and then return home for the 49ers and Cowboys — when they return from this week’s bye and thinks the team can handle whatever those teams and the others still to come will throw their way.
“Let’s win all nine games. I think we can do it,” Pierre-Paul said, via the New York Daily News. “We just have to believe. There’s a lot of football to be played. Don’t count us out yet.”
A nine-game winning streak probably isn’t in the cards, even with Pierre-Paul playing at a level similar to his 2011 breakout season, but it is hard to know just what the Giants will do over the second half. They were abysmal to open the year, but then looked like they were rounding into form during a three-game winning streak before taking backward steps the last two weeks. If they can iron some things out during the bye week and get back to the way they were playing during the winning streak, being in contention down the stretch doesn’t feel like a major stretch.
Those next four games are tough, though, and it’s not any more of a stretch to think they’ll remain a work in progress until it’s too late to find a path into the playoffs.
Last week, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis described the status of A.J. Green as “up in the air.” While Lewis expressed more optimism on Monday, Green has repeated the same assessment provided previously by Lewis.
“It’s still up in the air,” Green told NFL Network on Tuesday morning, “but it definitely feels better. We’ll see about this week.”
One thing we won’t see is a fully healthy A.J. Green until 2015, at the earliest.
“It’s probably not gonna be 100 percent, but I hope it’s just manageable,” Green said. “I can get through the season and play at a high level.”
So what about this weekend, against the Ravens?
“I hope so, man. It’s still up in the air, and we’ll see,” Green said.
The Bengals need him. After starting 3-0, the Bengals are 0-2-1.
It was part of a rough fourth quarter overall for Brees, who completed only three of the 14 passes he tried in the final 15 minutes of a game that the Saints led by 13 points before losing 24-23. When it comes to preparing for future opponents, though, coach Sean Payton’s concerns will be about other spots on the roster.
“I just finished talking with him, obviously he would want to have the one interception back,” Payton said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “But I felt like his decision making, rhythm — I felt like his week of preparation and how he played all during practice week was outstanding. He is going to be just fine. He is the least of our worries.”
Brees has thrown seven interceptions this year which amounts to 2.7 percent of his passes. That’s up from last year, but it is in line with career norms and not surprising given the need to throw a lot in order to keep up with the points being given up by the defense.
The Saints are scoring 25.8 points per game, which is essentially the same as what they scored while making the playoffs last season. They allowed 19 points per game in 2013, a number that has skyrocketed to 27.5 points per game this year. If you’re listing worries about the Saints, defensive ones are going to take up most of the top spots on the list.
As the dust settles on Week Seven, the NFL still would like us to pardon its dust regarding the remodeling of the personal conduct policy.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com explained on Monday that, in the end, the NFL may have two different personal conduct policies: One for players and one for everyone else. King cites the reality that it make take longer to finalize the policy that applies to players. That’s because the players, unlike everyone else in the league (except for game officials), are represented by a union. Through the union, the players have collective bargaining rights, which the players are attempting to utilize as the conduct policy is revised.
King also says reports the non-player conduct policy would allow the league to place employees on paid administrative leave, in the event of “serious crimes.” Of course, that’s what the league ultimately did with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, and it’s surely what the league would like to be able to automatically do with all players accused of “serious crimes” going forward.
For players, however, the game is more than simply getting paid. Peterson’s pursuit of the all-time rushing record, for example, has been derailed. As to Hardy, who’ll surely be a free agent in March, he’s had his ability to showcase his talents in advance of March 2015 short-circuited.
Perhaps more importantly, keeping players away from work pending the resolution of criminal charges gives prosecutors more leverage, generally. The Peterson case demonstrates the value of delay; while Peterson still has his freedom, he lacks the freedom to play football. And that’s still a form of real punishment, regardless of whether the game checks are still being deposited in a bank account large enough to barely notice them.
The Dolphins have sowed optimism and distrust with their performances thus far.
Ten things that led to the Bengals losing 27-0 to the Colts.
The Chiefs offense showed progress late in the win over the Chargers.
The talent on hand might not be enough to fix the Giants’ problems at the point of attack.
Has the league figured out the Bears offense?
The Packers broke a lot of tackles for the Panthers.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer lamented not calling a timeout before the Bills converted a 4th-and-20 on the way to their winning touchdown.
The Panthers defense isn’t doing too much swarming these days.
Wednesday’s injury report should be a long one for the Saints.
The Buccaneers are feeling refreshed after their bye.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says his team is mostly healthy heading into Week Eight.
Last Sunday’s trickery fit right into Rams coach Jeff Fisher’s history.
Of all the potential free agents who bet on themselves going into a free agent year without a new deal, perhaps none have done better for themselves than Jason Garrett.
In the final year of his contract, the Cowboys head coach has his team off to a 6-1 start, which has everyone excited.
“I don’t know that anybody has had a better, brighter vision of Jason’s future than I do,” owner Jerry Jones said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’ve always thought he had the potential to be a serious, consistent, winning coach in the NFL and still think that. … I’m just glad to see him have this kind of success.
“His players hang on every word, and they’re seeing what he’s preaching works. That’s an ideal set of circumstances for a coach that is looking for a big future in the NFL.”
“I’m just not going to talk about it,” Jones said of a new deal for Garrett. “We’ve got so many contracts that we’re supposed to be needing to be talking about, now that things are going good. I’m not even going to begin to start anywhere. I’m just going to squat.
“I’ve got a lifetime of when it’s too much, just sit down and think about it.”
“If you just keep trying to do things the right way, the results on the scoreboard will hopefully take care of itself,” he said. “And that’s just the way I think. That’s the way we try to help this team.”
“That was the last answer I’m going to have about my contract.”
At some point, it’s going to have to come up, unless they manage to go 8-8 again, in which case it might not.
Sunday’s blowout loss to the Packers included an early exit for linebacker Luke Kuechly, who inadvertently made contact with a game official. Coach Ron Rivera doesn’t accept the decision, or the explanation that he received for the move.
“I disagreed with it,” Rivera said Monday, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “I disagreed with the explanation I was given. I looked at the tape and I felt the tape agreed with what I felt.”
The league’s position is that officials should be protected from all physical contact, including but not limited to punching, pushing, shoving, grabbing, or other intimidating or interfering contact — and that any offenses against officials are strictly prohibited.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know who was grabbing me,” Kuechly said Sunday regarding the incident that got him ejected, via Newton. “I was trying to get out of there a little bit. You’ve just got to stay calm in those situations and just walk away and let it take care of itself.”
The situation took care of itself with Kuechly taking an early trip to the locker room. The next question is whether the NFL will take money out of Kuechly’s future pay.
“No,” Rivera said Monday regarding whether Kuechly should be fined. “Not at all. Zero chance.”
But since the NFL believes the ejection was proper because even inadvertent contact is prohibited, a fine would seem to be appropriate under that same reasoning. Kuechly will get a preliminary answer on that point — subject to appeal — later this week.