Mike Florio puts together his Browns Mt. Rushmore. The four names are: Paul Brown, Otto Graham, Lou Groza and Jim Brown. Fans agree with most of his choices, but selected Ozzie Newsome over Lou Groza.
ProFootballTalk: Cleveland Browns Mt. Rushmore
Robert Griffin III’s return to the starting lineup lasted all of three games.
Since returning from an ankle injury in Week Nine, Griffin has been sacked 17 times in three games, and he completed just 11-of-19 passes for 106 yards with a lost fumble in Sunday’s loss at San Francisco.
According to Schefter, a club source indicated Griffin is still regarded as a key part of the club’s future. Nevertheless, this is no small setback for Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. And it will invite further speculation that Griffin faces an uncertain future in Washington. The club must decide in the offseason whether to exercise an option to extend his contract through 2016 — a proposition that seems more and more unlikely.
The Rams added yet another tight end to their roster Tuesday, signing Justice Cunningham from the practice squad. The transaction was disclosed in the NFL’s personnel notice.
Perhaps best known for being the final pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the 23-year-old Cunningham spent the 2014 offseason and preseason with St. Louis before being placed on injured reserve on September 1. The Rams re-signed him to the practice squad in late October.
Cunningham (6-3, 258) appeared in one 2013 regular season game for the Colts, his original team.
Cunningham’s addition gives the Rams five tight ends on the roster. Two tight ends — Jared Cook (back) and Cory Harkey (quadriceps) — were on the Week 12 injury report, but both played in the loss at San Diego. The Rams had all four tight ends active vs. the Chargers.
With Cunningham arriving, the Rams waived wide receiver Damian Williams, who appeared in two games as a reserve with St. Louis this season. He was inactive vs. the Chargers.
Two of the Bears’ key defensive starters were listed as non-participants in Tuesday’s practice.
Outside linebacker Lance Briggs (groin) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) didn’t take part in today’s workout, according to the injury report. However, the Bears held just a walk-through, according to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune.
Briggs and Fuller both departed Chicago’s 21-13 win vs. Tampa Bay on Sunday with injuries, leaving them less than four days to heal before Thursday’s matchup with the Lions in Detroit.
Bears coach Mark Trestman indicated the availability of Briggs and Fuller might not be determined until Thursday morning, according to the Tribune.
Five other Bears didn’t practice on Tuesday: offensive lineman Brian De La Puente (ankle), defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (knee), defensive end Trevor Scott (knee), linebacker Darryl Sharpton (hamstring) and wide receiver Chris Williams (hamstring).
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle) was limited, with right tackle Jordan Mills (ribs) a full participant for Chicago (5-6).
The second of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s two murder trials has been postponed.
Originally set for May 28, the case regarding the July 2012 shooting deaths of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado had been scheduled for May 28. It has been delayed indefinitely.
Hernandez faces trial in January 2015 for the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez has been jailed without bond on all charges since his late June 2013 arrest for killing Lloyd.
Jury selection in the Lloyd murder case is due to begin on January 9.
Sunday’s game against the Patriots included a pair of incidents involving Lions center Dominic Raiola. He leveled Patriots defensive tackle Zach Moore with a blow to the head during a play, and then Raiola took out Moore’s knees on the final snap of the game, because Raiola was unhappy about New England’s decision to score a garbage-time touchdown.
Raiola said on Tuesday that he wasn’t fined. Per a league source, he won’t be.
It’s unclear why the league has opted to look the other way in both instances, especially in light of the safety-conscious nature of today’s NFL. And in light of the league’s fine-happy nature on issues that have little to do with safety. Or, as some would argue, common sense.
Raiola punched Moore in the head and then dove at Moore’s knees on a play when the Lions were taking a knee. If failing to talk to the media or wearing the wrong kind of headphones or selecting shoes that don’t reflect the proper color scheme justify the withholding of a portion of a player’s paycheck, how do neither of Raiola’s infractions trigger punishment?
Already dealing with an ankle problem, Bush was limited in Tuesday’s practice with a back injury, too.
He also would have been a limited participant on Monday with both injuries, if the Lions had actually practiced.
Several other Lions were limited in practice on Tuesday as well, including receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), defensive end Ziggy Ansah (elbow), safety James Ihedigbo (knee), and safety Glover Quin (back).
“There’s no fine,” Raiola said, via Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News. “It’s during the game. I don’t know about regrets, I don’t live life with regrets. I didn’t intentionally try to hurt anybody. I didn’t try to do anything out of the ordinary. I would’ve gotten a FedEx letter [from the league office regarding a fine]. So, just play the game. I didn’t make it a big deal, everybody else did.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick ripped Raiola the day after the cheap shot, pointing out that Raiola was probably sore at the Patriots because he’s been in the NFL for 14 years and has never beaten the Patriots. Raiola declined to get into a war of words with Belichick.
“I don’t really care what he said,” Raiola said. “Not a lot of people beat those guys. I didn’t make it an issue. I just finished the game.”
Raiola may say he was just finishing the game, but he was also taking a cheap shot at an opponent. Just because the NFL says he didn’t technically break the rules, that doesn’t change the fact that what he did was dirty.
With right tackle Phil Loadholt done for the season due to a torn pec, the Vikings need help at tackle.
They explored getting that help by bringing in veterans J’Marcus Webb and Eric Winston for tryouts on Tuesday, per a league source.
Webb appeared in eight games for the Vikings last year, with one start. He’s perhaps best known for getting bumped by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on national television when Webb was Cutler’s left tackle.
Winston, the current NFLPA president, started 16 regular-season games from 2007 through 2013 with the Texans, Chiefs, and Cardinals. He spent some of training camp with the Seahawks, and he has gotten periodic look-sees throughout the season.
Neither Webb nor Winston have been signed by the Vikings, yet.
Loadholt will be replaced in the starting lineup by Mike Harris, who arrived to the NFL undrafted in 2012 and spent two years with the Chargers. Harris has 27 regular-season appearances and 12 starts. Sunday will be his first as a Viking.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been dealing with a back injury. But that back injury won’t keep the 49ers from having to deal with Lynch on Thursday night.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Lynch “without question” will play in Santa Clara on Thanksgiving night.
If Lynch can get through the short-week game, he’ll have a chance to get some extra rest before the Seahawks head to Philly for a showdown with the 8-3 Eagles.
Phillips has been waived, which makes him available to any of the league’s 31 other teams if they choose to make a claim. Phillips wasn’t overly productive in Tennessee this year, but he had 10 sacks for the Broncos in 2013 and there’s not a lot of available players with Phillips’s history as a pass rusher at this point in the season.
The Titans also announced that they have placed center Brian Schwenke on injured reserve. Schwenke hurt his knee during last Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, which also saw him catch a deflected pass and then fumble it as his career as a center didn’t set him up well for the role of ballcarrier.
Tennessee signed offensive lineman Eric Olsen to help fill the void left by Schwenke. Left tackle Taylor Lewan also suffered a sprained ankle against Philly, so there might be multiple starters missing when the Titans face the Texans this week.
Linebacker Dontay Moch was promoted from the practice squad to round out the set of moves for the day.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday that he felt he didn’t give his team the best chance to win based on the way he handled the clock during the team’s final offensive drive in a 26-24 loss to the Browns, echoing criticism from many corners that didn’t do anything to help Smith’s job security.
Quarterback Matt Ryan said Tuesday that he thought Falcons players were angry at themselves in the wake of the loss, but that their anger didn’t extend to Smith. He also said that the players’ job is to make Smith’s decisions the right ones on the field.
“There’s nobody that takes more responsibility than Mike,” Ryan said on 680 The Fan, via ESPN.com. “And that’s one of the reasons, as a player, you love him. He is the first to say, ‘Listen, I wish we would have done that one differently.’ So from a player’s perspective, we’ve got to make him right. We can’t worry about anything else other than we’ve got to convert that third down, we’ve got to get a first, we’ve got to be able to make them burn their timeouts and then kick it in the uprights and win that game. I feel for [Smith] because he’s ‘the man’ when it comes to that. He will stick his neck out there for us and take the brunt of the responsibility. But, from a player’s standpoint, we’ve got to make him right.”
Ryan’s loyalty to his coach is clear, but it’s less clear how much loyalty owner Arthur Blank will show Smith once the season comes to a close. Finding a way to finish atop the NFC South would help and Ryan correctly points out that the Falcons control their own destiny in that regard. So would Ryan finding a way to cut down on interceptions against the Cardinals, who visit Atlanta this week, after throwing nine of them in two games against Arizona the last two years.
In these cynical and sarcastic times we live in, many folks saw Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers drinking a Grape Crush soda after beating the Vikings and thought there was a message.
As it turns out, he just really likes grape soda.
Rodgers cleared up the social media-generated flap during his weekly radio show with Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, insisting he wasn’t trolling the Vikings.
He apparently eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drinks the same soda after every game, which makes seem like he’s a 9-year-old even if he’s not going for juvenile humor.
“Seven years. To all the idiot trolls out there, seven years,” Rodgers said. “PBJ and Grape or Orange Crush. It’s been grape for the last five, the first couple years it was orange or grape. Seven years.”
While it’s hardly a controversial topic, he seemed offended at the perceived lack of respect for opponents.
“Anybody who knows, any of the local media or anybody who’s seen me after a game, I’m always carrying that around with me. That’s probably the only soda that I ever drink – right after the game, when you’ve got to get those nutrients back with you,” Rodgers said. “So that’s my post-game [snack] – PBJ and the Grape Crush. I do like it, contrary to anybody who thinks I was trolling anything. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s comical.
“I don’t do those kind of things.”
Now, if he beats the Patriots this week and walks to the podium with a Sam Adams, we will be able to call shenanigans on him.
Jay Gruden has said he has “every intention” to start Robert Griffin III at quarterback this weekend, for what would have been one of the best games of the year. In the year 2012.
It’s Washington and Indy. Griffin and Luck. The top two picks in the 2012 draft. Now, Griffin could be having a hard time keeping one of the top two spots on his team’s depth chart.
Diana Russini of NBC 4 in Washington reported earlier today that the quarterbacks will meet at the team’s facility on Tuesday “to find out who is starting.” And that hardly represents a clear indication Griffin remains entrenched as the starter.
In an organization seemingly bereft of strong leadership, the man who served for years as one of the true leaders in the locker room has addressed the situation in blunt, candid terms.
“It’s not an environment that’s really conducive to winning for a sustained period of time, from top to bottom,” former linebacker London Fletcher said Monday on 106.7 The Fan in D.C. “You have to have a plan in place and say, ‘You know what? This is what we’re gonna do, this is a winning formula,’ and then stick to the formula. From my seven years, prior to [when] I got there, even now — and I count myself as being a part of it because I didn’t help get it as good as I wanted it to be once I left — you have to have a plan, that, ‘You know what? This is going to be a winning plan, let’s stick to this plan, let’s stick to the script,’ so to speak, and do it the right way. And that hasn’t been done before I got there, while I was there, since I’ve left, and I don’t know if they know what they’re doing, in terms of saying, ‘Hey, this is what we’re gonna do to be a winning franchise for the next decade.’ I like Jay Gruden as a head coach. I think from a play-calling standpoint, I like some of the things he’s done. Maybe he can be that guy, but there needs to be some more changes that take place.”
It’s a strong indictment of the entire organization, from a guy who was in the middle of it for seven years. And Fletcher has the perspective that comes from being with winning teams; he won a Super Bowl with the Rams.
Whatever Washington is doing, it’s clear that, currently, the plan is there is no plan. The next five weeks could be more about figuring out who’ll be there to put a plan (or to not put a plan) in place in 2015 and less about laying the foundation for sustained success.
The Broncos have made a change at kicker.
The Broncos had high enough hopes for McManus this season that they cut Matt Prater, a Pro Bowler last year, to hand McManus the job. But McManus has struggled and made Broncos fans miss Prater, who has since returned from a drug suspension and signed with the Lions.
McManus missed a 33-yard field goal attempt on Sunday against the Dolphins. That turned out to be his last chance in Denver.
The Cardinals have added a veteran running back to their roster for the final five weeks of the season.
The team announced on Tuesday afternoon that they have signed former Raiders and Bears tailback Michael Bush. They released Kerwynn Williams to open up a spot on the roster.
Bush has not played for anyone since the Bears released him in March after two years with the team. He ran for 608 yards and eight touchdowns on 177 carries during his time in Chicago. His best season came in 2011 with the Raiders, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, when he ran for 977 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Cardinals haven’t found a reliable No. 2 back behind Andre Ellington this season and Ellington’s production has sharply declined over the last few weeks. He’s run 47 times for 89 yards in the last three weeks to go with 14 receptions, which makes the interest in a productive backup an easy one to understand. Bush’s work the last two years wasn’t overly impressive, but it wasn’t any worse than what Arizona’s gotten this season.