ProFootballTalk: How long is Ponder’s leash?
The efforts to use the national anthem as a vehicle for shedding light on serious societal issues entails various types of risk. One specific type of risk is fairly significant.
In an interview with 60 Minutes Sports, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin says that he has gotten “a few” death threats based on his involvement in the matter.
“A couple of people told me to watch my back,” Baldwin tells Jon Wertheim in a partial transcript circulated by Showtime.
“How do you respond to that?” Wertheim asks.
“The same way Colin [Kaepernick] did,” Baldwin said. “You know, there’s issues going on in our society that people feel compelled to talk about and I’m not going to be quiet about. And if something was to happen to me, I think that would just further prove my point that there are issues in our culture, in our society that need to be changed.”
Regardless of whether the threats are real and credible (and the vast majority of death threats aren’t), death threats always should be taken seriously by the authorities — regardless of whether they’re made on (anti)social media, by phone, or in person.
The transcript of the interview doesn’t contain many/any specifics beyond Baldwin saying he’s been told to “watch his back,” which may not have even been an actual death threat. Whatever the details may be, if Baldwin truly feels threatened, he should report the threats, the threats should be investigated, and action should be taken against those who made them.
The week is over, which means that 15 more hours of PFT Live have been created. It also means that, if you missed any of it live, you can download the podcasts.
If you do, you’ll be informed, entertained, and hopefully from time to time amused. Sometimes by design, sometimes perhaps not.
A new front has emerged in the Benson Family Feud.
As Saints owner Tom Benson tries to resolve a fight with estranged heirs arising from his decision to prevent them from acquiring ownership of his NFL and NBA teams, the NFL will not allow Benson to follow through on a proposal to swap non-voting shares of the Saints with personally-guaranteed promissory notes in trust funds previously created for his daughter and her children.
Via Katherine Sayre of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, recent court filings in a lawsuit sparked by the issue “show that the NFL’s finance rules won’t allow Benson to use his personal wealth . . . to back the proposed promissory notes.” The league’s position derailed a settlement that had previously been reached between Benson and trustees regarding his desire to strip Saints equity from the family members’ trust funds.
The problem comes from the possibility that, if Benson defaults on the 30-year promissory notes, the estranged heirs could attempt to seize his personal assets — including the controlling shares of the Saints franchise.
Per the report, Benson recently made a revised offer in the aftermath of the NFL’s ruling. The trustees have argued that the proposal, based on a January 2015 valuation of the team, should be based on the value of the team as of September 8, 2016, which would result in an even greater dollar value.
That’s the biggest problem Benson faces as he tries to fix this; as NFL franchise values continue to climb, the 60-percent chunk of the team held in trust continues to climb, too, making it costlier for Benson to replace those shares with comparable assets.
Until these issues are fully and finally resolved, it’s unclear whether the estranged family members will be frozen out completely of an ownership stake in the Saints. Even though they wouldn’t have power over the affairs of the team, they’d own the majority of it — which would be a very awkward outcome to an already messy situation.
If there are any London-based billionaires with an interest in American football reading this, please give Jim Irsay a call.
Irsay, the Colts owner whose team plays in London tomorrow, said at an appearance there today that he’s hoping the NFL will have a franchise in London. And Irsay thinks the key is getting the right owner in place, someone who understands both American football and the European market.
“That’s my goal as an owner, to find the right owner and the right team to come here,” Irsay said, via George Bremer of the Herald Bulletin.
The NFL is serious about building the sport in London, with many owners believing the league is as popular as it’s going to get in the United States and will need to grow overseas if it’s going to keep growing. But there are many logistical challenges to putting a team in London permanently, as opposed to just playing a few games a year there. The right owner will have to work through those challenges to make it work.
Garoppolo will start Sunday against the Bills, WEEI reports.
After playing very well in the first game and a half of the season, Garoppolo suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder during the Week Two game against the Dolphins and sat out Week Three against the Texans. Jacoby Brissett started against Houston but suffered an injury of his own, to his throwing thumb.
Both Garoppolo and Brissett are officially listed as questionable for the game. Brady will return to the team when his suspension ends on Monday.
Donte Whitner has rapidly fallen from perennial Pro Bowl safety to a guy looking for a job. He’s hoping to find that job with the Giants.
Whitner will work out for the Giants this weekend, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
The Bills made Whitner the No. 8 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft and he played five years in Buffalo. He then played three years for the 49ers and two for the Browns. Cleveland cut him in April and he hasn’t signed anywhere since.
The sack that resulted in an MCL sprain for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson didn’t amount to a classic horse-collar tackle. But it fell within the scope of the recently-expanded definition of the rule.
NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained in his weekly media officiating video that a violation occurred even though Harold didn’t have his hand inside Wilson’s jersey, and even though Harold didn’t pull Wilson to the ground from behind.
“The left hand will be in the front of the jersey but the right hand will be on the back at the nameplate,” Blandino said. “He’s gonna pull the runner toward the ground. The key is where does he grab the runner? He’s gonna grab on the nameplate. And remember the new rule this year is nameplate or above. . . . And if he pulls the runner toward the ground in any direction it’s a foul.”
The league expanded the protection earlier this year to limit injuries, and Wilson was indeed injured on the play.
Horse-collar tackles remain legal as to quarterbacks in the pocket. When the quarterback exits the pocket, the back of his jersey can’t be grabbed and pulled to the ground at the nameplate or above.
Which probably means that the term “horse-collar tackle” should be revised into something that better reflects what is prohibited, if for no reason other than to limit fan and media confusion.
Week Four kicked off on Thursday night with a Bengals win and it continues with 13 more games on Sunday, which means that the 26 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.
Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered in the lineup barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.
With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.
Colts vs. Jaguars (in London)
Seahawks at Jets
RB Thomas Rawls (fibula) remains out for the Seahawks. TE Jimmy Graham (knee/back), TE Nick Vannett (ankle), LB Mike Morgan (hip), DT Jarran Reed (hip) and RB C.J. Prosise (wrist) are all questionable. QB Russell Wilson (knee/ankle) has no injury designation at all.
The Jets won’t have WR Eric Decker (shoulder), WR Jalin Marshall (shoulder) or QB Bryce Petty (shoulder) in the lineup this Sunday. LT Ryan Clady also has a shoulder injury, but is listed as questionable.
Panthers at Falcons
Raiders at Ravens
RB Kenneth Dixon (knee), LT Ronnie Stanley (foot) and CB Sheldon Price (thigh) are all doubtful for the Ravens. WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), KR Devin Hester (thigh), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), G Alex Lewis (concussion) and OL John Urschel (shoulder) all drew questionable tags.
Lions at Bears
The Lions are without DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle) and LB DeAndre Levy (quad) again this week. DE Wallace Gilberry (abdomen), LB Antwione Williams (hamstring), WR Marvin Jones (hamstring), TE Eric Ebron (ankle), S Tavon Wilson (neck), CB Adairius Barnes (ankle), T Riley Reiff (ankle) and DE Devin Taylor (ankle) are all questionable to play.
A long Bears injury report finds RB Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring), QB Jay Cutler (thumb), DT Eddie Goldman (ankle), RB Jeremy Langford (ankle) and LB Danny Trevathan (thumb) all doubtful to play. S Harold Jones-Quartey (concussion), DE Jonathan Bullard (toe), WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), DB Sherrick McManis (hamstring), CB Tracy Porter (knee), G Josh Sitton (shoulder) and LB Willie Young (knee) drew questionable tags.
Titans at Texans
The Texans ruled out LT Duane Brown (knee), TE Stephen Anderson (hamstring), RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle) and WR Braxton Miller (hamstring). LB Brian Cushing (knee) and S Quintin Demps (hamstring) are listed as questionable.
Bills at Patriots
The Bills initially ruled out WR Sammy Watkins (foot), but later placed him on injured reserve. T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee) and WR Greg Salas (groin) remain on the active roster, but won’t play this weekend. S Colt Anderson (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder), S Jonathan Meeks (foot) and S Aaron Williams (ankle) are all questionable.
The question of the Patriots starting quarterback is up in the air with Jacoby Brissett (thumb) and Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) listed as questionable to play. T Marcus Cannon (calf), G Jonathan Cooper (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) and CB Eric Rowe (ankle) are also questionable.
Browns at Redskins
The Browns head to Washington without WR Corey Coleman (hand), TE Seth DeValve (knee), C Cameron Erving (chest, lung), QB Josh McCown (left shoulder), DE Carl Nassib (hand) and LB Nate Orchard (ankle) in the lineup. CB Tramon Williams (shoulder) is listed as doubtful, leaving him unlikely to play. S Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring) and CB Joe Haden (groin) are both listed as questionable.
CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle), WR Josh Doctson (achilles), G Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and CB Dashaun Phillips (hamstring) are all out for the Redskins. LB Trent Murphy (elbow, shoulder) and DE Kendall Reyes (groin) are both questionable.
Broncos at Buccaneers
Rams at Cardinals
Rams DE William Hayes (ankle) is doubtful after missing practice all week. WR Tavon Austin (shoulder), WR Kenny Britt (thigh), DT Dominique Easley (illness) and CB Lamarcus Joyner (toe) are all listed as questionable.
Saints at Chargers
T Terron Armstead (knee), CB Delvin Breaux (fibula), TE Josh Hill (ankle) and G Senio Kelemete (hamstring) are out for the Saints. DT Tyeler Davison (shoulder, foot), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), LB James Laurinaitis (quadricep), WR Willie Snead (toe) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) are all listed as questionable.
The Chargers will play without S Jahleel Addae (collarbone), DE Joey Bosa (hamstring) and CB Brandon Flowers (concussion). Doubtful tags leave T King Dunlap (illness) and TE Antonio Gates (hamstring) unlikely to play. T Joe Barksdale (foot), LB Jatavis Brown (hamstring) and G Orlando Franklin (back) are all questionable.
Cowboys at 49ers
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (knee) is questionable, but he didn’t practice all week and said the team will play it safe. LT Tyron Smith (back) is also questionable and also didn’t practice. CB Orlando Scandrick (hamstring), DE Jack Crawford (shoulder), RT Doug Free (quadriceps), LB Andrew Gachkar (neck), S Jeff Heath (knee), and LB Mark Nzeocha (Achilles) round out the list of questionable Cowboys. QB Tony Romo (back) is out.
Chiefs at Steelers
RB Jamaal Charles (knee) may play for the first time this season after being listed as questionable. The Chiefs definitely won’t have T Jah Reid (knee, ankle) and RB Charcandrick West (ankle), however. CB Phillip Gaines (knee) and LB Tamba Hali (knee, hand) are both questionable.
The Steelers will be missing G Ramon Foster (chest), S Robert Golden (hamstring), CB Senquez Golson (foot), RB Roosevelt Nix (back), WR Eli Rogers (toe), LB Ryan Shazier (knee) and C Cody Wallace (knee) on Sunday night.
When Bills coach Rex Ryan spoke to the media on Friday, there was “major concern” about Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins‘ ability to return to the lineup in the near future because of continued problems with his surgically repaired foot.
Ryan may have a penchant for hyperbole, but this wasn’t one of those times. The concern about Watkins was great enough that the Bills placed him on injured reserve on Friday afternoon.
Watkins will be eligible to return to the team in eight weeks if his foot is feeling better and the Bills opt to use their one designated return spot for him, but there’s obviously some doubt about when Watkins might be well enough to return to the Bills lineup.
The Bills filled Watkins’ roster spot by claiming wide receiver Justin Hunter off of waivers from the Dolphins. A 2013 second-round pick of the Titans, Hunter has not made good on the potential he showed coming out of college. With Watkins out of the lineup, he should get plenty of chances to do so in Buffalo in the coming weeks.
As the Lions try to move to 2-2 on the year, they’ll definitely not have two key players. They possibly won’t have two others.
Also questionable for the Lions are cornerback Adairius Barnes (ankle), defensive end Wallace Gilberry (abdomen), tackle Riley Reiff (ankle), defensive end Devin Taylor (ankle), linebacker Antwione Williams (hamstring), and safety Tavon Wilson (neck).
Jones leads the league in receiving yards through three games, with 408 total yards.
The Cardinals missed right guard Evan Mathis in the lineup in Buffalo last Sunday, but they’ll have him back as they try to improve their record to 2-2 against the Rams this weekend.
Mathis missed last Sunday with a toe injury, but got in a full practice Friday. He was not given a designation on the team’s injury report, which means he’s expected to play barring a downgrade at some point on Saturday.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd also went without a designation on the injury report and practiced in full the last two days after being cleared through the league’s concussion protocol. Floyd was diagnosed with a concussion on Monday after reporting headaches a day after doctors gave him the green light to return to the game following an evaluation in Buffalo.
Washington cornerback Josh Norman didn’t draw any penalties for hits on his rival, Giants receiver Odell Beckham, during their much-anticipated meeting on Sunday. But Norman was penalized and fined for a hit on another Giants receiver.
Norman was fined $48,620 for a hit on Giants receiver Sterling Shepard, the NFL confirmed today.
The hit drew an unnecessary roughness flag against Norman. The fine is more than players usually get for unnecessary roughness, but Norman is considered a repeat offender after two fines for his actions when he played against the Giants last year.
Norman will see the Giants again on New Year’s Day, in Week 17.
Key & Peele got it right; two pumps are allowed.
Two weeks after Steelers receiver Antonio Brown drew a flag and a fine for a pelvic-thrust celebration that included three (maybe four) pumps, Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders escaped both by stopping short of three.
While it’s possible Sanders added a third pump (CBS cameras cut away after two), the NFL tells PFT that Sanders was not fined.
The two plays had striking similarities. Perhaps the only difference was the number of pumps. Which would indeed make Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele prescient.
There was no press release touting the record-low eight-million-person audience generated by Monday night’s Falcons-Saints game on ESPN, which did battle with the first presidential debate. Thursday night’s Dolphins-Bengals game drew a similar audience, and it’s reason for at least a little crowing.
The league has announced that the NFL Network-only game generated a 4.76 household rating and an audience of eight million on all platforms, TV and digital. According to the league, it’s a six-percent increase over the ratings and audiences for last year’s NFLN-only games.
So how does it compare to 2015? For the first time this year, an apples-to-apples look isn’t feasible, because last year’s Week Four games on Thursday night appeared on CBS and NFLN. The Ravens-Steelers game drew a whopping 19.4 million viewers.
This year, the exclusive NFLN games are interspersed among the full schedule; in past years, the NFLN-only games came later in the year.
That dynamic alone would contribute to the lower total numbers for games that were exclusive to the league-owned network, since more of the game involve teams that aren’t vying for postseason positioning.
Next week, Thursday Night Football returns to CBS and NFL Network, along with Twitter. The numbers generated by Cardinals-49ers will be compared to last year’s Week 5 Thursday nighter between the Colts and Texans.
In the old days, Russell Wilson might have been listed as probable on the injury report. But with that designation gone, he’s not on the report at all.
The Seahawks have ruled running back Thomas Rawls out and declared five players questionable, but none of them happen to be their quarterback who has been getting treatment for knee and ankle injuries.
Wilson had previously said there was “no doubt” he was going to play this week against the Jets.
Graham had 100 yards on six catches last week against the 49ers, but was held out of practice Thursday with knee and back issues.