Peter King, Erik Kuselias and Mike Florio say that Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman is not considered a team leader as a starting quarterback should be and that if Freeman doesn’t step it up, his career in Tampa Bay may soon be coming to an end.
ProFootballTalk: Bucs doubt Josh Freeman’s leadership
Rams coach Jeff Fisher says quarterback Jared Goff, the first overall pick in this year’s draft, is not yet ready to take over as the team’s starting quarterback.
Asked about benching starter Case Keenum after Keenum’s four-interception game on Sunday, Fisher insisted that the loss wasn’t Keenum’s fault and it’s not time to make a change.
“Jared’s going to play when we feel Jared’s ready. Had we won this game you wouldn’t be asking about Jared,” Fisher said. “We didn’t lose this game because of the quarterback play. We lost it because of some other positions.”
There are two separate issues facing the Rams at the quarterback position: One is whether Keenum is playing well enough, and the other is whether Goff is ready to be a starter. What Fisher made clear is that he both thinks Keenum is playing well enough and thinks Goff still needs time before he’s ready to start.
Until Fisher’s opinion changes on both of those matters, Goff will remain on the bench.
Browns coach Hue Jackson had enough. Enough losing, enough frustration, enough of Cincinnati’s offense ramming the ball down Cleveland’s throat on Sunday.
And so Jackson eventually ditched his headset and delegated the task of calling offensive plays to offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Jackson did it so that he could give the team’s struggling defense a piece of his mind.
“I took them off,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I called the team out. Yeah, I was disappointed because I don’t want anybody running the ball like that on us. We’ve got to get some things squared away, but I take responsibility for it all. It’s not our players; we’ve got to fix some things and keep working on some things and we will.”
Meanwhile, Jackson will be subject to giving in to basic human emotions.
“I can get disappointed,” Jackson said. “I don’t like where we are as a football team, and this is my responsibility, so, at the end of the day in my mind, I have to find a way to fix it — and as fast as I can as best I can, so that’s what I have to do. . . . I keep telling you guys — I’m not discouraged. I’m disappointed in losing. I’ve never lost like this. But I’m going to find a way [to win], I promise you that. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I’m going to find a way and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
The Browns have nine more chances to get a win, with not many clear chances left on the schedule. The Jets, who come to town on Sunday, have the worst record of the team’s remaining foes, at 2-5. The remaining schedule also includes two games against Pittsburgh, another against Baltimore and Cincinnati, and contests against the Cowboys, Giants, Bills, and Chargers.
In other words, maybe Brian Billick shouldn’t have backed off.
But even if the Browns go 0-16, better times are coming. I promise you that. I just don’t know when and, for now, I don’t know how.
The Packers are struggling to keep defensive backs on the field, and now another one is headed to injured reserve.
Banjo apparently has a short-term injury, and might have been available in three or four weeks. But with a spate of other problems in the secondary, the team apparently decided it could not wait that long.
Banjo, 26, has been a solid backup and special teams player, and will be a restricted free agent after this season.
The Cowboys returned from their week off for a practice on Monday and it appears wide receiver Dez Bryant remains on track to make his return to the lineup after missing the last three games with a hairline fracture in his knee.
Bryant was on the field working with his teammates during Monday’s session and said last week that he feels ready for game action. The Cowboys don’t have to issue an injury report for Sunday’s game against the Eagles until Wednesday, but Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports that Bryant, who was limited in the team’s one bye week practice by a cut on his hand, was catching passes and running routes while the practice was open to the media.
Several other Cowboys who went into the bye week dealing with injuries returned to work, including cornerback Morris Claiborne and defensive end DaMarcus Lawrence.
Left tackle Tyron Smith did not practice as he continues to deal with the back injury that kept him out of two games. Quarterback Tony Romo also has not been cleared for practice yet, leaving Dak Prescott to continue adding to the strong case he’s already made to hold onto the job.
The Bears just lost another quarterback to injury, but got one back Monday.
Cutler’s been out since Week Two, and during his absence, Fox was very careful to not promise the job back to the incumbent. But Fox was also careful to not discount the possibility. When he said “we don’t have a plan,” he wasn’t being difficult as much as he was acknowledging that until Cutler was well enough to return, it didn’t matter.
But Fox also described Cutler as “tough-minded” and “a good teammate,” during the absence, which is helpful since they don’t have much of a choice.
It appears Jets quarterback Geno Smith has suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the initial MRI of the knee that Smith injured on Sunday against the Ravens leaves the Jets with the belief that Smith suffered a torn ACL.
Smith exited the game in the second quarter after taking a sack from Ravens linebacker Matt Judon. He said after the game that he didn’t feel the injury was a significant one, but this is hardly the first time that we’ve seen a player get worse news than anticipated once further testing took place.
Assuming the diagnosis holds, Smith will miss the rest of the season and likely has played his final snap with the Jets with his contract expiring after the season. It’s a tough blow for Smith, who was in line to start last season before he suffered a broken jaw when then-teammate IK Enemkpali punched him in the jaw. Enemkpali also suffered a torn ACL this year, although Smith will likely look elsewhere for tips on how to rehab the injury.
Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Smith on Sunday and said he believes he should be the starter before anything was known about the severity of the injury. The Jets also have Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg on hand, but may opt to go back to Fitzpatrick in hopes that he can show something closer to his 2015 performance than he did in the first six weeks of the year.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady goes to great lengths to say nothing.
And even in as safe a space as being against domestic violence, Brady isn’t going to allow himself to be dragged into revealing any opinions he may or may not have.
During his weekly appearance on WEEI, Brady expressed the requisite anger with Giants kicker Josh Brown, who admitted to years of abuse of his then-wife and has been placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, after an initial one-game suspension.
“I grew up with three sisters, I was very fortunate to learn from a loving father and a loving mother how to treat and respect women,” Brady said. “I have a daughter of my own and domestic violence is a horrible issue. It’s a tragedy when it happens. Any type of abuse or bullying of people who can’t defend or fight for themselves, I have no respect for that.
“Like I said, the NFL, they claim to take tough stances and this is their situation. This is their situation to deal with. I’ll let them deal with it. Like I said, I was very fortunate to grow up with sisters, a mother — I condone no part of that. That is absolutely something I would never be a part of or do. It’s a terrible tragedy.”
Of course, Brady was also punished by the NFL for something far less loathsome, and he was asked if it was frustrating that Brown could be suspended for one game while he was banished for four. And that’s when he grabbed the wheel tightly with both hands and steered straight for the middle of the road.
“I think it is the league’s issue,” Brady said. “Obviously, there is a lot of controversy with that. I’m trying to stay out of all that. I will let them handle it. I think that is their responsibility. I certainly don’t condone any part of domestic violence. I think it is a terrible, terrible thing. I think the league, they have to handle those types of things.”
“I’m just going to stay in my lane. Like I said, it’s up to them to decide whatever they want to do. I’m just going to try and stay out of any kind of my opinion. I certainly have opinions, I just don’t really care to share them.”
Say this for Brady, even though he has some preferences some may not care for, he’s non-expressing his non-opinions consistently.
Williams said after the game that he was in pain and had an MRI scheduled for Monday to determine the extent of the injury. It sounds like the results of that test brought some good news.
Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports that the test showed no structural damage to Williams’ knee. As a result, there’s hope that he will be able to play against the Bengals in London in Week Eight as the Redskins try to get back on track after their four-game winning streak came to an end.
The likelihood of that won’t be known until we’re a bit deeper into the week, something that will also be true of Norman’s progress through the concussion protocol.
Legal battles still may come in the case of Giants kicker Josh Brown. Whether the league properly placed Brown on the Commisioner’s-Exempt list won’t be one of the fights.
Brown won’t be appealing the designation, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
It’s a smart move, given that the league’s ability to use the Commissioner’s-Exempt list in Personal Conduct Policy cases has been previously upheld via arbitration. Also, Brown is still getting paid; if he fights his current status and forces his way to the active roster, he invites a possible termination of his contract by the Giants.
The Giants could still cut him, in theory. The NFL recently confirmed to PFT that placement on the Commissioner’s-Exempt list does not insulate a player from being released. But the Giants could face a grievance if they impose what would amount to a second punishment for his off-field misconduct, in the same way the Ravens did two years ago after cutting Ray Rice.
Although the NFL is currently investigating separate allegations of wrongdoing about which the league didn’t actually know, Brown can argue that the NFL and/or the Giants should have known, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, all information about his off-field behavior before imposing a one-game suspension, if/when other action against him is taken.
Regardless, Brown realizes that he can’t force his way onto the field, and that at this point the only real question is whether and to what extent he’ll be paid. With the Giants still paying him while he’s on the Commissioner’s-Exempt list, there was no reason to upset the proverbial applecart by filing an appeal.
The Panthers hoped to get healthier over their bye week and things appear to have played out that way in the secondary.
The team returned to work on Monday and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that cornerbacks James Bradberry and Robert McClain were both back on the field with the team. Bradberry started the first four games of the season, but the 2016 second-round pick missed the last two games with a toe injury. McClain missed Week Six with a hamstring injury, leaving the team with a shortage of healthy cornerbacks.
That number got even lower when Daryl Worley suffered a concussion against the Saints. The play of the cornerback group has been an issue for the Panthers all season so the return to health for Bradberry and McClain doesn’t guarantee improvement, but it should at least improve the chances that progress can take place in the coming weeks.
The Panthers also had Leonard Johnson on the field. Johnson has been on the non-football injury list due to a torn Achilles and could provide more help for the struggling group if he gets the green light for game action.
The Cardinals came out of last night’s game without a win or a loss, at least on the score sheet.
But they’re now down another receiver.
He’s having more tests to confirm the severity today (presumably an MRI).
Brown left last night’s game in the first half, and didn’t return. They were already playing without John Brown (hamstrings, sickle cell trait), leaving them thin at receiver.
Now they’ll need J.J. Nelson to step into a more prominent role, as they prepare for a game against the Panthers (who are actually getting healthier in the secondary at the moment).
The Packers placed cornerback Sam Shields on injured reserve last week, which leaves him unavailable through at least Week 14, and another member of the position group will be out for multiple weeks as well.
Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports that Damarious Randall had surgery over the weekend after missing most of the last three games. Demovsky reports that Randall, who was listed with a groin injury, went to see core muscle specialist Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia for the surgery.
Randall is expected back this season, but it will be a few weeks before it will be time to start thinking about his return to the lineup.
Quinten Rollins has also missed the last two games with a groin injury, so the Packers have been short on cornerbacks for a while. Ladarius Gunter and Demetri Goodson started in last week’s victory over the Bears and should continue to see plenty of playing time as the team waits for the healthy return of their other cornerbacks.
The Eagles’ defense suffered a big blow in Sunday’s win over the Vikings.
Ron Brooks, a starting cornerback, is done for the season after he ruptured his right quadriceps tendon during the game. Eagles coach Doug Pederson confirmed that Brooks is out for the year today.
Brooks arrived as a free agent this year from Buffalo, where he had also played for Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Brooks has started five games this year on defense and also plays on special teams.
Eli Apple loves his mother and understands she’s outspoken.
But he also wanted to make it clear he’s just over here doing his job.
After his mother Annie Apple blasted Giants owner John Mara for comments regarding kicker Josh Brown’s admission of abuse, and then doubled down with a column about her history of being abused, the rookie cornerback had the same reaction many others did.
“How are you a so-called champion of domestic violence but lack basic compassion for a victim?” Annie Apple wrote. “Yes, this man signs my son’s checks as I’ve been reminded on Twitter. Mr. Mara owns the New York Giants. He doesn’t own Annie Apple. Wrong is wrong. And Mr. Mara’s comments were unapologetically wrong and hit at a raw place.”
“I was like, ‘godd–n,’” Apple said, via Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “But she’s her own person. She’s gonna do whatever she wants to do. She’s gonna talk about this. I’ve just got to understand that. It’s cool.
“My mom’s very vocal and that topic is very important to her, so I can understand where she was coming from. But at the same time in my position I just have to do my part and play football and do what I can do.”
Apple said he’s had conversations with the Giants organization about the topic.
“I’ll be good on that front,” Eli Apple said. “I talked to them, let them know my mom, her reactions like that sometimes are like that, she’s her own person, she’s gonna do that, so I’ve just got to do my job. I just made sure I talked to everybody, man, just let them know, whoever is concerned. . . .
“She has a voice, she has a voice and she’s gonna use it no matter. I love her for that. She’s a unique woman and she’s always gonna speak up no matter what and I can’t really control that. I’ve just got to play football, . . . I tried to (talk to her). She’s a little upset at everybody right now, so I’m probably gonna give her her space a little bit.”
It’s an unusual position for the son to have to be in, to be discussing the words of his mother. But from the moment she agreed to step into the spotlight, it was also a little inevitable.
At the start of the season, Dolphins coach Adam Gase was so down on running back Jay Ajayi that Gase left Ajayi home for the team’s Week One trip to Seattle. A whole lot has changed since then.
On Sunday, Ajayi became just the fourth player in NFL history to rush for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games, and Gase said today on PFT Live that Ajayi’s success has been all about improving his work ethic. Gase said that the team had some issues with Ajayi between the end of the preseason and the start of the regular season, but those issues are all in the past.
“He had 10 bad days there from the fourth preseason game to the first game, but he’s been great every day besides having that little rough spot,” Gase said. “He’s done a great job grabbing this thing and taking advantage of it, and he’s done everything we needed him to do.”
Gase said he could tell as soon as the Dolphins returned from Seattle that Ajayi was committed to having a positive impact on the team this year.
“When we got back for that next week, he was great in the meetings, he practiced hard, he did everything we asked him to do,” Gase said. “And that’s why he’s in this position.”
It was less than two months ago that the Dolphins didn’t even think Ajayi was one of the 46 players they wanted on the field for Week One. Now Ajayi looks like one of the best running backs in the NFL.