ProFootballTalk: Roethlisberger calls out Le’Veon Bell
It’s cold in Kansas City, and Thursday night’s Chiefs-Raiders game is off to a strange start.
After a puzzling challenge by the Chiefs and then an automatic turnover review two plays later, the Raiders kept the ball — the original call was a catch and fumble by Amari Cooper — and then got a 44-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski to take 3-0 lead.
The Chiefs came right back, getting a 39-yard pass to Chris Conley to move into Raiders’ territory, but then turned the ball over on downs following two rather lame and predictable runs right into the middle on third and fourth downs.
Janikowski has not missed from under 45 yards this season.
Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele will not play Thursday night at Kansas City due to an illness.
Osemele, who’s in his first year with the Raiders after signing as a free agent last March, has been a key player for one of the league’s best offensive lines. He had been listed on the injury report as questionable due to a knee injury, not an illnes.
Osemele has not missed a game this season. Jon Feliciano, a second-year player, is listed as the No. 2 left guard on the Raiders’ unofficial depth chart, but the team is listing Vadal Alexander as the unofficial starter in his place.
The Chiefs are healthy and have no injury-related inactives. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin returns, as expected, from a three-game absence.
Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was again a limited practice participant Thursday, and after practice Reed told reporters he’s “optimistic” about his chances of playing Sunday at Philadelphia.
Reed suffered an AC joint separation in his left shoulder at Dallas on Thanksgiving. Though he returned and finished the game, he didn’t play last week.
Reed, who shares the team lead with 59 receptions, told reporters he’s feeling better and hopes he’ll get the go-ahead to play Sunday as the Redskins need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“It’s painful but something I can deal with,” Reed said.
Thursday began with a bit of a bombshell from Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com regarding the extent of the dysfunction in the Rams organization. Recent comments from coach Jeff Fisher deemed critical of the team’s personnel function became the catalyst for anonymous quotes from an unnamed Rams source criticizing Fisher for an apparent effort to shift blame.
The Rams have no comment regarding the report, pointing out that Fisher likely would address the situation at his next press conference. It’s scheduled for Friday at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET.
Fisher, who faced repeated questions last week regarding Eric Dickerson’s relentless effort to get Fisher fired, surely will be pressed for his reaction to the news that someone in the organization criticized him without attaching a name to it.
“It pissed me off because I knew it was meant as a shot,” the unnamed Rams source told Breer regarding Fisher’s apparent attempt to shirk blame for the quality of the roster. “You see it under that umbrella — ‘We need to do a better job in personnel.’ OK, but you want everyone to think that you have full control. You can’t have it both ways, and it can’t always be the talent. Look at the roster, 2012 to now. In ’12, Jeff did a masterful job with what he was given. But we’ve gotten more talent, and we’ve gotten worse.”
There can be little doubt that Fisher wanted, and acquired, full control in 2012. After Fisher picked the Rams over the Dolphins, he told Michael Silver (then of Yahoo! Sports) that Fisher wanted to be able to run the show.
“At the end of the day I wanted the ability to have final say, with a General Manager I could build something with,” Fisher said.
So, basically, all roads lead back to Fisher, both as to coaching and as to personnel. If there’s a problem with coaching, it’s ultimately on him. If there’s a problem with personnel, it’s ultimately on him.
On Friday, it’ll be interesting to see how questions from reporters about these realities ultimately are answered.
Cam Newton doesn’t mind taking the criticism, he’s used to that.
But what the Panthers quarterback couldn’t handle were reports that his benching in Seattle Sunday night was related to something more nefarious than not wearing a tie on the team’s flight from San Jose to Seattle.
“I violated the wardrobe [policy] and that’s it,” Newton said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “You don’t have to dig into certain stories that [I] violated curfew, was out at a club, somebody was caught in the room.”
For his part, Newton has owned the fact he broke Ron Rivera’s ties-on-a-plane policy, and hasn’t rebelled against his coach’s punishment. Rivera has said throughout that he was simply being consistent in his enforcement of his dress code, whether it was the reigning MVP or a special teamer.
And Newton seems to understand that.
“That’s just a warning for everybody,” Newton said. “And at no point in time or even still do I think I’m above the law. I never thought that. I’m not that type of player. A lot of people might think that from the outside looking in. It doesn’t bother me because they don’t know me.
“For anybody’s who’s ever known me or was on my team, they would know this situation could have been prevented because of my decision.”
With a little luck, that should put a bow on TieGate for the Panthers, who have knot quite reached their goals this season.
Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is out with a high-ankle sprain and the hope is that he’ll be well enough to rejoin the team for the postseason, but his absence at present may have spurred a roster move on Thursday.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the team is signing wide receiver Griff Whalen after he worked out for the team. According to a report from ESPN, former Packers wideout Jared Abbrederis also worked out.
Whalen caught two passes in eight appearances for the Chargers earlier this season. He spent the previous three years with the Colts and caught 45 passes, although Patriots fans may remember him best for his role on the snapper on the Colts’ ill-fated swinging gate fake punt from last season.
Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan are the healthy Patriots wideouts at the moment with both Edelman and Hogan absent from the injury report this week after making frequent appearances over the course of the season.
In 2014, Brandon Marshall had a three-touchdown game against the 49ers. As Marshall and the Jets prepare to play the 49ers on Sunday, he was asked what he remembers about that game. The answer? Not much.
That’s because, Marshall says, he was using so many painkillers to play through an ankle injury that he was in a fog mentally, even as he was able to perform well physically.
“I don’t really remember much about that game because I worked really hard to get back from a high ankle — well, I don’t want to go there. Um, well, I’ll say it: I took a couple pain pills. I took a couple pain pills that masked the pain. I really wasn’t supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks. I don’t really remember much about that game. I just remember catching those balls and that was pretty much it,” Marshall said.
With the NFL facing a lawsuit related to painkillers, that’s the type of story that the league would prefer not to hear. It’s also the kind of story that raises questions about why the league is so adamant that players not use marijuana, when many players view it as a safer way to manage pain than the painkillers that team doctors prescribe.
Eric Berry’s big year is laying the foundation for another big payday.
The Chiefs safety, to whom the team applied the franchise tag after his prior contract expired, didn’t sign a long-term deal before July 15. It means that the Chiefs soon will have to decide whether to apply the tag to Berry again, or to sign Berry to a long-term deal.
The tag won’t be cheap. At $10.806 million for 2016, Berry will be owed a 20-percent raise under the tag for 2017. That’s $12.96 million for one season at the safety position, nearly $500,000 more per year than safety Tyrann Mathieu is getting under his top-of-the-market deal.
It becomes even harder to negotiate a long-term deal, since Berry can force his way to the market in 2018, unless the Chiefs plan to give him the quarterback version of the franchise tag to keep him in place for another year.
Berry, who turns 28 later this month, showed on Sunday how important he is to the Chiefs defense. Apart from his contributions on the field, his leadership and personal story of overcoming serious adversity make him even more valuable.
The challenge becomes attaching the right value to his contract, and ultimately finding a way to bridge the gap between what he wants and what the Chiefs will pay.
Here’s the simple reality: If the Chiefs won’t pay him what he wants, someone else possibly will. Like, for example, the team in his home state of Georgia that Berry singlehandedly defeated with a pick six and a game-winning pick two.
Berry gets another chance to demonstrate his value to the Chiefs tonight, in a prime-time matchup with the Raiders. Which only happens to have the AFC West crown essentially hanging in the balance.
The Broncos didn’t hold a full practice on Wednesday, opting for a walkthrough and estimated participation levels on the injury report instead.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian, who missed last Sunday’s victory over the Jaguars with a foot injury, was estimated to be a limited participant in that non-existent practice and he was listed the same way after the Broncos actually got on the field Thursday. Coach Gary Kubiak said that Siemian did everything the team asked of him on Thursday.
“He’s progressing the right way,” Kubiak said, via the Denver Post. “A big test today. He had this orthotics in, so we’ll see how he comes in here tomorrow morning. … It’s very encouraging. We’re where we thought we would be today. We didn’t do much [Wednesday] and our expectation [Thursday] was for him to take half of what was going on and we were able to do that.”
Siemian split reps with rookie Paxton Lynch, who started in his place against Jacksonville and went 12-of-24 for 104 yards. Friday’s injury report should give more of an idea about which one will play against the Titans.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall and long snapper Casey Kreiter did not practice for the Broncos.
Geathers has a neck inury and Mathis has a bicep injury. Those two and starting cornerback Patrick Robinson missed last Monday’s rout of the Jets. Robinson has been a limited participant this week due to the same groin injury that kept him out of the Jets game.
If Robinson returns Sunday against the Texans but Geathers doesn’t, the Colts could be free to use cornerback Darius Butler at safety in some situations. The defense will again be shorthanded with usual signal-caller and inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson serving a four-game suspension.
That suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy was announced earlier this week. Jackson would be eligible to return for the postseason if the Colts qualify.
The Raiders emerged from the 2014 draft with great selections in round one and round two. By rule, both players (Khalil Mack and Derek Carr) are eligible for new contracts after the 2016 regular season ends.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Raiders are currently expected to focus on signing Carr before Mack.
The reason is simple; the Raiders have the ability to extend Mack’s four-year deal to five, given that he was a first-round pick. And they surely will do so before the May 3 deadline for exercising the fifth-year option.
Carr, as a second-round pick, has only one year remaining on his rookie contract. And so, without a new deal, the Raiders would be required to use the franchise tag on Carr to keep him off the open market in 2018.
So what will it take to sign Carr? Much of it depends on the outcome of the season, including the team’s playoff success and whether Carr, a league MVP candidate, wins the award. He could be able to leverage a top-of-the-market deal, which would represent an investment of the kind the Raiders haven’t had to make in the salary-cap era.
As for Mack, it’s currently believed he has no problem with waiting in line, in part because there’s really nothing he can do. Holding out technically is an option, but the daily fines and bonus forfeitures make it financially unwise.
The broader question is whether Mack eventually becomes frustrated with Carr, if Mack believes Carr is unreasonably refusing to sign a new deal so that the Raiders can then focus on Mack.
Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams has been dealing with an ankle injury for some time and he was listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice due to the issue.
Thursday’s practice saw Williams take a step in the wrong direction. He didn’t practice at all as the team continued their preparations for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
Williams has missed one game this season and has seen limited playing time in several other games. He played on 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last weekend and has picked up 1.5 sacks on the year with the full sack coming in the season opener.
Linebackers Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins were also out of practice for Miami. Alonso is dealing with a broken thumb and hamstring injury with the hamstring injury thought to be the bigger stumbling block to his presence in the lineup. Alonso said on Thursday, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, that he feels good, but doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play.
No one knows the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry better than Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen; he spent 11 seasons with the Raiders and five with the Chiefs.
Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, the man who played for the L.A. (but not Oakland) Raiders recalled going to Oakland for a game with the Chiefs. Fans were given free admission in exchange for turning in guns.
The only problem? They kept the bullets — and then threw them at the Chiefs players.
But Marcus holds no grudge against Oakland. He said he prefers that the team stay there, with a second choice of returning to Los Angeles over moving to Las Vegas.
For the full interview, which includes Marcus forcing me to sing (if you can call it that) the Kay Jewelers jingle, click the thing in the thing.
And here’s where it gets fun. You can post a video of yourself singing the Kay Jewelers jingle with the #SingforStJudeDonation hashtag, and Kay Jewelers will donate $100 to St. Jude’s Children Research hospital for each video posted. There’s a limit of one video per person, but Kay Jewelers will donate up to $50,000 — so 5,000 of you should do it.
So do it. Trust me; your effort will be no worse than mine.
The Chiefs are playing for first place in the AFC West tonight despite not having the player who, when healthy, would be their best offensive playmaker. In the playoffs, they may have him on the field.
The Chiefs are expecting to have running back Jamaal Charles back for the start of the playoffs, if they make the playoffs, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Charles played in just five games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury. This year he has played in just three games and has had two more knee surgeries, although both of them were viewed as minor cleanup procedures.
If Charles returns and looks like the Jamaal Charles of old, that would be a huge boost to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl aspirations. Unfortunately, Charles wasn’t able to do much of anything during the three games he played this year, and it seems like a stretch to think he could get back on the field in January and be the kind of impact player he once was.
The Chiefs would save $7 million on their 2017 salary cap if they cut Charles in the offseason, so there’s a good chance that he’s going to be moving on from Kansas City after the season. It would be nice to see him get a playoff swan song.
Bears coach John Fox is just like us.
Fox’s team will be playing the Lions this weekend, which meant he did a conference call with Lions media on Thursday to discuss the game. As you’d imagine, the subject of the Detroit offense came up during the call and he praised the work that offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter has done since being bumped up into the top job last season.
As you’d also imagine, Fox gets the same kick out of saying and/or thinking about Cooter’s name as everyone else who has had the good fortune to come across it.
“I love the name,” Fox said, via the Detroit Free Press. “He and [Vikings cornerback] Captain Munnerlyn. I recruited Captain way back when I was in Carolina. Those two are right up there, player and coach. But I love saying Jim Bob’s name.”
Fox had Cooter on his staff in Denver and tried to hire him with the Bears when he took the Chicago job in 2015, but the Lions blocked the move. Cooter was promoted to his current job later in the year and the Lions are 14-7 since that point, which goes to show that the coach brings more than just a good name to the table.