ProFootballTalk: How long is Ponder’s leash?
The Seattle Seahawks gave Jimmy Graham a day off on Tuesday after four heavy days of work as he continues his rehabilitation from surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his right leg over the offseason.
Graham has yet to be involved in full team workouts since being activated off the physically unable to perform list two weeks ago. He’s been relegated to early work in individual drills and rehab work on side fields during team periods of practice.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Graham was evaluated and tested over the weekend with all signs pointing in the right direction. However, he’s still uncertain whether Graham will be ready for Seattle’s season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 11.
“I’m not calling that yet. I don’t know that,” Carroll said Tuesday in an interview with Dave “Softy” Mahler on 950 KJR-AM in Seattle. “Not until we really cut him loose in practice, which next week is going to be a really important week for him. He had a great week this week. He had his best day yesterday, really a big workload and he handled everything and feels really good coming out of that. So we’ll see. There has never been that deadline in my mind. We just want to get him back when he’s ready. But he looks really good, everything is positive and he’s really fired up and that’s what he wants to do. We’ll see if we can get that done.”
Graham’s injury has proven to be a difficult one for athletes to recover from and be the player they were before the injury. New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz hasn’t played a game in nearly two years after suffering similar injuries in the 2014 season. However, Carroll believes the player he’s seeing going through rehab work on a daily basis looks every bit the player Graham was when they traded for him a season ago.
“No, he looks exactly the same. I don’t think he’s going to be any different at all when he comes back. He’s worked too hard,” Carroll said. “We’ll have to see how the rigors of the games, how that weighs on him but I don’t see that. He looks really, really good. It’s jut been a marvelous effort by Jimmy to get back and the trainers to work with him. We just need to do it in the right timing. There’s not a rush. This is a very long season and if it takes a couple extra weeks that’s fine.”
If there was any doubt about Graham’s availability early in the season, the Seahawks could have left him on the physically unable to perform list to preserve the ability to place him on the reserve/PUP list to begin the season. That move would mean Graham would be ineligible for at least the first six weeks of the year.
Bringing him back to practice as early as they did means that the team believes he’ll be ready early in the season. If not Week 1, then soon after.
In 2015, Tim Tebow spent much of the offseason as an employee of the Eagles. He could possibly become an employee of the Phillies. But not likely.
Via Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Philadelphia’s Major League Baseball team will send a scout to Tebow’s baseball workout next Tuesday in L.A.
But the Phillies reportedly are merely doing due diligence, checking out Tebow in the same way they would send a scout to check out other amateur athletes hoping to play baseball.
For that reason, plenty of teams could show up to see what Tebow can do. The real question is whether anyone will hire him. It would be wise not to hold your breath, or any other bodily function, in anticipation of Tebow signing a contract to become a player on a Major League roster.
After the Browns practiced vs. the Buccaneers Tuesday in Tampa, Gordon told reporters he hopes he’s not going anywhere.
“I really can’t comment on [those rumors],” Gordon said, per the Browns’ official transcript. “I’m not really sure. I haven’t heard too much about it. Cleveland is my team. That is where I want to be.”
The NFL conditionally reinstated Gordon last month. He’s suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, and assuming he stays out of trouble he’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. These practices against the Bucs are Gordon’s first work vs. another team since Dec. 2014, when he played five games after being reinstated.
He was suspended for all of last season. Schefter’s report said the Browns didn’t want to trade Gordon, and the team quickly shot down the rumors.
“[Browns Owner] Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam, the organization and [Browns coach Hue] Jackson, I think the world of those guys and their decisions and this organization,” Gordon said. “They’re family. They’re showing me love and respect back to me by allowing me to stay here up to this point, and I expect to move forward with that.
“I’m excited about it. It’s where I want to be and I’m happy to be in Cleveland.”
Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after leaving Tuesday’s practice.
Goodwin was examined by trainers and later escorted off the field after hitting his head on the ground while trying to make a catch.
The speedy Goodwin is trying to win a role in the Bills’ offense and has been impressive in camp. Two weeks ago, Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman praised Goodwin and said he appears to be “on a mission.”
Goodwin, who just missed qualifying for the Olympics in the long jump, is listed as a second-teamer on the Bills’ unofficial depth chart. He was limited to two games last year by injury and had 17 of his 20 career catches as a rookie in 2013.
Though the Bills expect Sammy Watkins to play in this weeks preseason game, they’re still shorthanded at receiver. Bills Coach Rex Ryan told reporters that Marcus Easley and rookie Kolby Listenbee aren’t close to returning.
The NFL has scheduled Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s meeting with league investigators regarding performance-enhancing drugs allegations made in an Al-Jazeera report for this Thursday, Aug. 25.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the change in date, which meets the initial requirements set forth by the NFL that players named in the report interview by Aug. 25. The league threatened to suspend players who refused to interview.
The NFLPA sent a letter on behalf of Harrison last week in which Harrison agreed to an interview. The initial date for that interview was Aug. 30.
Last week, Harrison told reporters the NFL has no credible evidence against him and proposed that his interview be broadcast live.
Packers players Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are scheduled to interview Wednesday. Harrison’s interview will take place before the Steelers fly to New Orleans for their Friday night preseason game.
Free agent running back Karlos Williams didn’t get any takers on waivers, but he is drawing some interest around the league.
Williams visited the Jets today, Sal Capaccio of WGR in Buffalo reports. The Jets are one of five teams that have reached out to show interest in Williams.
At the moment, all of that interest appears to be more of a feeling out process than an immediate contract offer. Williams won’t be able to play for the first four weeks of the season anyway because he’s under suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, and teams will need to be convinced that Williams won’t cause problems off the field before anyone will sign him. There are also concerns about Williams’ weight after he showed up to camp out of shape.
Williams is undeniably a talented player, and he made a number of big plays as a rookie for the Bills last season. If Williams can get in shape and stay out of trouble, he may still make plenty of big plays for some team this season. It could be the Jets, even if they’re not ready to sign him just yet.
Former Cowboys, Broncos and Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey announced his retirement Tuesday.
Mincey, who played the last two seasons for the Cowboys, posted a picture on Instagram along with a thank-you letter in which he announced that he’s finished playing.
His contract with the Cowboys expired after last season. Mincey also had elbow surgery in the offseason after an elbow issue slowed him last season.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that Mincey, 32, had offers from interested teams but opted to retire. Mincey had 26 sacks over nine NFL seasons and six in 2014 with the Cowboys.
A sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2006, Mincey also spent time with the 49ers before he made his regular season debut with the Jaguars in 2007. He played for the Jaguars until 2013, when he was released and finished the season with the Broncos.
The Steelers announced Tuesday that they’ve signed inside linebacker Vince Williams to a new, three-year contract.
Williams, a sixth-round pick in 2013, has been a valuable inside linebacker and special teamer in all three of his previous seasons. He’s again listed second on the depth chart at one of the team’s two inside linebacker spots as the Steelers prepare for the 2016 season.
Williams has played in 47 games and started 13 in his career. He was very much in the middle of last year’s Steelers-Bengals heated moments that turned into offseason social media chatter that’s stoked the rivalry between the two teams.
Known as a run stopper, Williams also produced two fumble recoveries, a pass breakup and split a sack last season.
The first chapter of cornerback Senquez Golson’s Steelers career was a bust due to a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entire season.
Chapter two didn’t get off to a better start. Golson has been out since suffering a Lisfranc injury early in training camp, but he said Tuesday that this season will not play out the same way as the last one. The 2015 second-round pick vowed to return to the field in time to make his Steelers debut.
“I’ll definitely be back this year,” Golson said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m thinking sometime in November. For sure by the end of November, I’ll be full speed back.”
November is a long time to wait for a player who hasn’t seen much practice time since the Steelers drafted him, but the rule change allowing teams to wait on designating a player to return would seem to leave that door open. It would likely shut quickly if the Steelers need to use that spot for a player who has been more involved in the last two years, however.
In the meantime, the Steelers are visiting with Keenan Lewis about joining a cornerback group with plenty of question marks beyond the ones about Golson’s status for this season.
The NFL’s decision to embrace L.A. as a location for the Rams also means the NFL will from time to time have to embrace the L.A. civil justice system.
The lawsuit seeking compensation for fans who attended the Hall of Fame Game earlier this month in Canton, Ohio has been voluntarily dismissed without prejudice from federal court in Ohio and re-filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. To support the choice of the L.A. area as the forum, the class representative, Greg Herrick, is a resident of L.A. who purchased a ticket to the Hall of Fame Game and traveled to Ohio for it.
The lawsuit also points out that the NFL has four teams in California “including one within this district” — the Rams.
The allegations aren’t significantly different than the prior version of the lawsuit; the biggest change appears to come from allegations based on statements made by Colts punter Pat McAfee in a podcast the day after the canceled game. It’s likely that revised legal claims eventually will be filed to allege, among other things, fraud in the concealment of the cancellation of the game from the fans who had assembled at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for it.
The biggest reason for the decision to proceed in federal court in Los Angeles likely comes from the belief that the combination of the judge, the jury pool, and the appeals court will lead to a better outcome for the plaintiffs. For that reason, the NFL and the Hall of Fame likely will fight the choice of venue, attempting to secure a transfer of the case to a more favorable location.
Picking the best forum is a key aspect of good lawyering. The NFL did that last year, when filing the initial lawsuit regarding Tom Brady’s suspension in federal court in Manhattan, before the NFL Players Association could filed a lawsuit attacking the suspension in federal court in Minneapolis.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie has been part of three teams that have sent the Colts packing from the playoffs over the course of his career, but if he has a hand in ending their season this year it will come while wearing a Colts uniform.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn’t seem to have much fear of that happening while discussing the decision to sign Cromartie on Tuesday, however. Pagano called Cromartie a perfect fit for the team’s defense who won’t need much time to catch up on the system because of similarities to systems he played in with the Jets and Chargers.
“Long, athletic, fast,” Pagano said, via the team’s website. “Ball skills, intelligent, smart, knows the game as well as anybody I’ve been around.”
What made Cromartie a particularly good fit for the Colts right now is the fact that he’s healthy. Cornerbacks Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson, Darius Butler, D’Joun Smith and Jalil Smith are all dealing with injuries of varying magnitudes, leaving a big hole to fill on the back end of the defense.
Cromartie didn’t look capable of filling it for much of last season with the Jets, although he says a groin injury contributed to his struggles and that he feels he can “still play at a high level” now that he’s healthy. If he can, his fit in Indianapolis will be a perfect one on several levels.
Most of the out-of-the-blue retirements happen before training camp, and involve guys who don’t have a job.
But this one is from a guy who was actually employed.
A solid blocker throughout his stint in the league, Stevens was part of an aging depth chart for the Titans, with Delanie Walker and Anthony Fasano. He re-signed with Tennessee this offseason on a one-year deal.
He started 11 games last year and had 12 catches. In his career, the former third-rounder caught 60 passes for 724 yards and six touchdowns.
In last year’s Super Bowl, playing for the Panthers, Norman generally got the better of Thomas: Thomas had six passes thrown his way and caught only one, for eight yards. Norman boasted of that in the interview.
“I don’t know what he was out there for,” Norman said. “He was supposed to be an all-world guy, and I shut him down.”
Thomas, of course, was on the winning team, however, and a Norman defensive holding penalty set up the Broncos’ game-clinching touchdown. So when Thomas saw Norman’s comments, he took to Twitter with a picture of his Super Bowl ring.
Demaryius Thomas (@DemaryiusT) August 23, 2016
And with that, Thomas gets the last laugh.
The Vikings opted not to play quarterback Teddy Bridgewater against the Seahawks last Thursday and a report emerged in the following days that Bridgewater was bothered by shoulder soreness leading up to the game.
That wasn’t confirmed by the team, but the fact that Bridgewater didn’t throw in practice on either Saturday or Sunday seemed to offer further evidence that all wasn’t 100 percent with his arm. Tuesday’s practice provided reason to believe things are headed back that way.
Bridgewater threw during team drills, although reports from the team’s session indicated that he was mostly throwing shorter passes during the workout. Shaun Hill, who started in Bridgewater’s place, also returned to action after a day off and a day off from throwing to further return things to normal for the Vikes.
Coach Mike Zimmer again passed on saying the shoulder was the reason for Bridgewater’s limited activity in recent days, but hinted that something physical was to blame for holding Bridgewater out last week.
“I told you guys when I first got here I would try and be as transparent and honest as I can and I will be,” Zimmer said, via Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But there are certain things I’m not going to tell you. If he had an issue with his shoulder, I’m going to make sure that I err on the side of caution. If I played him and he got hurt, you guys would be killing me in the press. I’m always going to protect the players. Im going to do what I think is best for the organization. You’re going to have to respect that.”
If Bridgewater plays against the Chargers in the Vikings’ first game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, it sounds like it’s safe to assume that Zimmer is convinced that all is well with Bridgewater’s arm, legs and so on down the line.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco avoided the physically unable to perform list to open camp and his surgically-repaired knee hasn’t had any setbacks during practices, which leaves one big box to check on his comeback from a torn ACL.
Flacco hasn’t played in either of the team’s first two preseason games, but said on Tuesday that he will be on the field against the Lions this Saturday. Flacco expects to play the same amount he’d typically play during the team’s third preseason outing,
“It’s not super important to go out and play a game just because I need to play a game. You need to get back out there, you need to get your mind used to getting ready for a game,” Flacco said on Mad Dog Sports Radio with Adam Schein. “And then, yeah, I need to get over that last hurdle, which is going out there and being a live target for guys to hit and see how I react to it.”
Saturday’s game will be Flacco’s first with wide receiver Mike Wallace in the lineup and the Ravens hope that their connection helps fuel better production through the air than they had before and after Flacco got hurt last year.