Skip to content

NFL morning after: Appreciating Adrian Peterson

adrianpeterson AP

Do we all appreciate how good Adrian Peterson is?

Yes, yes, we all know he’s good. But do we take the time to really examine how good he is? Peterson, who willed the Vikings to victory on Sunday with a 35-carry, 211-yard game against the Bears, has now topped 10,000 yards in his career, and that seems like a natural benchmark to reflect on just how extraordinary Peterson’s career has been.

Peterson now leads the league with 1,208 rushing yards, and if he holds on to keep the league lead for the rest of the season, it will be the third time in his career that he led the NFL in rushing. The list of players who led the league in rushing at least three times is pretty much the same as the list of the best running backs in NFL history: Jim Brown, Steve Van Buren, O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and Earl Campbell.

And Peterson joined an even more exclusive group on Sunday: Players with more than 10,000 career rushing yards and an average of 5.0 yards a carry. That group consists of Peterson, Jim Brown and Barry Sanders.

Sunday was also the fifth 200-yard game of Peterson’s career; only Simpson has more.

Peterson, of course, is joining this elite company in NFL history with lots of football left to play. The 28-year-old Peterson likely has at least a couple more seasons of playing at an elite level, and even as he begins the inevitable decline that every running back experiences after crossing over to the wrong side of age 30, he can probably be counted on to have some solid if not spectacular seasons into his early- to mid-30s. Five thousand more yards seems readily attainable, and if Peterson does that, he’ll join Smith, Walter Payton and Sanders as the only players in NFL history with 15,000 rushing yards.

One of the impressive things about Peterson is that he doesn’t seem impressed with himself. When asked about reaching the 10,000-yard mark, Peterson was quick to credit the offensive linemen he’s played with.

“A lot of guys over the years have contributed to it,” Peterson said. “Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson, Bryant McKinnie, the guys from this year, my fullbacks through the years. Just to be in that elite group, it’s truly a blessing. God has really blessed me to be surrounded by some great guys to get to that goal. So I sit here and I’m just humbled.”

That’s a nice sentiment, but the reality is that Peterson hasn’t had great teammates through his career: Unlike Smith, who racked up his yardage while playing most of his career on a team that had a dominant offensive line and Hall of Famers at quarterback and wide receiver, Peterson has often had to be a one-man gang. Peterson has consistently been the best player on his team and the best player on the field, and he’s one of the best running backs ever to play in the NFL.

Peterson was the player who impressed me most on Sunday. Here are my other thoughts:

Robbie Gould picked a bad time to miss. When Gould, the Bears’ kicker, made his second field goal of the day on Sunday, it moved him ahead of Mike Vanderjagt as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Unfortunately, Gould then missed two field goals: One, a ridiculously long 66-yard attempt, came up short at the end of the fourth quarter. And another, a very makable 47-yard attempt, missed in overtime and gave the Vikings new life. Gould is one of the best kickers in NFL history — unlike Vanderjagt, who played his home games indoors, Gould has to kick at Windy Soldier Field — but that overtime miss may come back to haunt the Bears.

Josh Gordon is the second-best receiver in the NFL. There’s only one Calvin Johnson, but Gordon is doing amazing things while playing in an otherwise dreadful Cleveland passing game. On Sunday, Gordon had 261 receiving yards and became the first player in NFL history to have two consecutive 200-yard receiving games, and he’s now second only to Johnson in receiving yards in the NFL this season. If he hadn’t been suspended for the first two games of the season, Gordon would be challenging Calvin Johnson for the league lead in passing yards. In fact, Gordon is averaging 124.9 yards a game, which is not only better than Megatron’s average yards per game this year, but it’s even better than Megatron’s average yards per game last year, when he set the all-time NFL record for receiving yards in a season.

Did Chip Kelly forget he has Michael Vick? In the second quarter on Sunday, with the Eagles in a goal-to-go situation against the Cardinals, Kelly put wide receiver Brad Smith in to take a shotgun snap — which Smith fumbled. I don’t have a problem with Kelly wanting to try a play with a mobile quarterback in a goal-line offense, but why not put Vick in? Vick is as quick as Smith, and unlike Smith (who signed with the Eagles three weeks ago), Vick actually knows the Eagles’ offense. Nick Foles is the undisputed starter in Philadelphia, but putting Vick in as an occasional change of pace would make sense. Throwing Smith out there made no sense.

Robert Mathis for defensive player of the year. Mathis, the 11-year veteran Colts pass rusher, is having his best season yet. Mathis was already leading the league in sacks heading into Sunday’s game, and Mathis’s strip-sack of Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday was a major turning point in the Colts’ win. With 15.5 sacks this season, Mathis is a huge part of the reason the Colts have all but locked up the AFC South.

The Texans lead the way for the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Of the four teams that entered Sunday with only two wins, three of them — the Jaguars, Falcons and Vikings — won. Only the Texans lost, which means now the Texans have a commanding lead in the race for the first overall pick in the draft. Case Keenum is actually playing pretty well at quarterback, but probably not well enough to keep the Texans from using the first overall pick on a quarterback who will push him aside for the starting job next year. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota are the favorites to be the first player taken, with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney the likely top pick if a quarterback doesn’t go first. (It’s fun to think about how a defensive front with Clowney and J.J. Watt playing together would look.)

Cam Newton plays the quarterback position like no one else, ever. After leading the Panthers to another win on Sunday, Newton is on pace for 3,488 yards passing and 596 yards rushing this season. That’s actually par for the course for Newton (he topped both of those totals in both of his previous two seasons in the NFL), but it’s almost unheard of for any other NFL quarterback. Do you know how many times in NFL history a player has had at least 3,488 passing yards and at least 596 rushing yards in a season? Four: Randall Cunningham in 1988, Daunte Culpepper in 2002, Cam Newton in 2011 and Cam Newton in 2012. Newton’s ability to beat teams with his arm and his legs is something we just haven’t seen before. Like Adrian Peterson, Newton is a player all football fans should appreciate.

Permalink 82 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Minnesota Vikings, Rumor Mill, Top Stories

Rooney on Raiders’ situation: “Something is going to have to give”

Art+Rooney+II+8Pvngm9JPGnm Getty Images

Long-time rivals on the field, the Raiders and Steelers could be allies when it comes to the current stadium situation in Oakland.

Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Steelers owner Art Rooney II addressed the challenges currently faced by Raiders owner Mark Davis, who plays in a dilapidated venue with periodic sewage problems and a baseball infield for half of football season.

“The Raiders have a stadium situation that’s difficult,” Rooney said.  “Something is going to have to give.”

Rooney, who serves as Chairman of the NFL’s Stadium Committee, took a direct role in the Minnesota stadium situation in 2012, helping to persuade the local politicians that action was needed.  Neither Rooney nor any other league officials have taken a public role in persuading the powers-that-be in Oakland to solve the stadium situation.

The Raiders have a one-year lease, which in theory allows them to leave Oakland after the current season.  Davis is currently flirting with San Antonio.

Davis would still need to persuade 23 other owners to approve of a move.  It’s unclear whether Davis could ever conjure the votes.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Josh Gordon’s hearing with the NFL will continue Monday

Josh Gordon AP

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon’s hearing with the NFL is going to overtime.

A league source tells PFT that Gordon’s hearing in New York went from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will continue Monday.

Gordon’s potential year-long suspension for his latest violation of the substance abuse policy hangs in the balance, and going into the process, there was a “slight chance” of a settlement  which might mean something shorter than a one-year ban from the league.

The difference between the A and B samples in Gordon’s test for marijuana created a chance for the Chewbacca defense to prevail, and the fact today’s hearing went so long only furthers that perception.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hall of Fame adds contributors category

paul-tagliabue-getty-t Getty Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has decided to create a separate category for contributors to the game of football, who will now be nominated using a separate process from the way players and coaches are chosen for enshrinement in Canton.

In the past, contributors were elected in the same way that players and coaches were. But some voters and fans didn’t think that made much sense: After all, when the Hall of Fame Selection Committee is having its annual meeting on the day before the Super Bowl, how are they supposed to make a judgment between a player and a person like NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, a Hall of Famer whose contributions to the game aren’t easily enumerated through stats and Pro Bowl appearances.

Now contributors will be voted upon separately, using a process similar to the process for nominating senior candidates — a “contributors committee” will nominate a finalist, and although that finalist will be voted upon by the regular Hall of Fame Selection Committee, that vote will be separate from the vote on players and coaches. So a contributor (who could be an owner, commissioner or anyone else who has contributed to the sport off the field) will not be competing with a player for a spot in the Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame believes there’s currently a backlog contributor candidates, so in 2015, 2017 and 2019 it will allow up to two contributors to be enshrined. In other years only one contributor can be enshrined per year.

Basically, this is good news for the Hall of Fame hopes of contributors who have been voted down recently. That includes former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell and former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Don’t be surprised if two of those three are putting on gold blazers in Canton a year from now.

Permalink 34 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Steelers sign RB Jawan Jamison

Washington Redskins v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

The Steelers have made a change to their RB corps, signing Jawan Jamison and waving Alvester Alexander, the club announced Friday.

A 2013 seventh-round pick of Washington, the 23-year-old Jamison spent most of last season on the Redskins’ practice squad, then was promoted to the roster for the final three games. Washington waived Jamison in March.

A Rutgers product, Jamison (5-7, 203) rushed for 1,075 yards and four TDs in 2012 for the Scarlet Knights. He’ll compete to be the Steelers’ fourth back. Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer will take three of the depth chart spots at tailback for Pittsburgh.

The 23-year-old Alexander is a first-year pro from Wyoming. He spent last season on the Steelers’ practice squad.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Harbaugh confident in Marcus Lattimore

Marcus Lattimore AP

Although 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore is still unable to practice, 21 months after a horrific injury at South Carolina, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh says he’s confident Lattimore will contribute to the team.

Marcus is going to be a part of this team, in some form or fashion,” Harbaugh said, via CSNBayArea.com. “I know what he’s got inside of him and I know what he’s capable of doing on the football field. We all do.”

Unfortunately, there’s still no word on when Lattimore will be part of the 49ers, in any role other than an observer at practice.

“We’ll continue to do what’s best for him and ultimately that’ll be what’s best for the program,” Harbaugh said.

Lattimore has worked very hard to rehabilitate from an injury so severe that doctors feared at first he may never walk without assistance again, let alone play football again. Here’s hoping that Harbaugh’s confidence is well placed, and that Lattimore eventually gets on the field with the 49ers.

Permalink 25 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys add a defensive end

Jason Garrett AP

The Cowboys came into camp with deficiencies on the defensive line and things have only gotten worse since they arrived in Oxnard.

Second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence broke his foot, defensive tackle Terrell McClain has a sprained ankle and defensive end Ben Bass is dealing with a hamstring injury. On top of that, Anthony Spencer and Amobi Okoye are on procedural lists that bar them from practicing.

If nothing else, the Cowboys need some healthy bodies to get through practice and they added one on Friday. Agent Brett Tessler announced that his client Ken Boatright has signed a two-year deal with the team.

Boatright, a defensive end, spent a portion of camp with the Seahawks after signing as an undrafted free agent last year and some more time on Seattle’s offseason roster this year before being cut loose. He’s never played in a regular season game.

Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com reports that the team could also sign defensive end Adewale Ojomo, who was released by the Titans following a solicitation arrest. Boatright, Ojomo and Cory Henry all worked out for the Cowboys on Friday.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jerry Rice Jr. suffers torn labrum

Jerry Rice Jr. AP

Redskins wide receiver Jerry Rice Jr. will need shoulder surgery after sustaining a torn labrum, head coach Jay Gruden said Friday, according to the club’s Twitter feed.

According to Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com, Gruden seemed to indicate the club hoped Rice would end up on injured reserve, though no call yet has been made on how Washington will proceed.

If Rice Jr. has a season-ending injury, Washington has several options. The club can directly place him on injured reserve, or he could revert to injured reserve if he club waives him and he goes unclaimed. The team could also elect to waive him off the roster with a financial settlement.

The son of the Hall of Fame wide receiver, Jerry Rice Jr. signed with Washington in June as a undrafted free agent. He also had tryouts with San Francisco and Baltimore. Rice Jr. played college football at UCLA and UNLV.

Permalink 19 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Brandon Lloyd joins Michael Crabtree on sideline

Brandon Lloyd AP

When it rains at wide receiver for the 49ers, it pours.

Michael Crabtree will miss the next week or two of practice with an injury that the 49ers have not disclosed, although Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that it is a sore hamstring that the team wants to rest so Crabtree doesn’t do further damage that keeps him out of the lineup for an extended period.

Crabtree will have some company in the trainer’s room. Coach Jim Harbaugh said that Brandon Lloyd will also be out for a week or two, although, as with Crabtree, the coach didn’t specify what kind of injury Lloyd suffered in practice this week.

Lloyd didn’t play at all last season, so he could probably use all the work the 49ers threw his way to earn a roster spot with the team or catch the eye of another club looking for help at receiver before the start of the season. Anquan Boldin, Stevie Johnson, Jonathan Baldwin, Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton and Kassim Osgood round out the receiver group in San Francisco.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Packers fear Jared Abbrederis tore his ACL

Jared Abbrederis AP

It looks like Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis is going to spend his rookie season on injured reserve.

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Packers believe Abbrederis tore his ACL during practice on Thursday. Abbrederis was headed for more tests on Friday and coach Mike McCarthy wouldn’t confirm anything about the severity of the injury when he met the media.

“I haven’t had time to sit down with the medical staff,” McCarthy said. “Right now, he has a knee. He completed practice yesterday.”

Abbrederis was a fifth-round pick after catching 202 passes during his Wisconsin career and was competing for punt return duties in addition to an offensive role. Now it looks like he’ll have to wait and try his luck again next year.

Permalink 50 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cary Williams doesn’t want to practice with “Cheater” Patriots

Cary Williams AP

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams got himself thrown out of a joint practice with the Patriots last year for fighting.

He didn’t wait until the teams got together later this month to throw his next haymaker.

They are cheaters,” Williams said of the Patriots, via Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. “They are.”

That was an obvious reference to the Spygate scandal, which saw the Patriots fined $250,000 they lost a 2008 first-round pick for illegally videotaping opponents’ signals. Coach Bill Belichick was also fined an additional $500,000.

But it wasn’t a drive-by for Williams, who kept piling on the team he grew to hate when he was with the Ravens. He said he didn’t like practicing against anyone, but especially New England.

“I’m trying not to go into details about it or disrespect that organization because I give that organization nothing but, . . .you still got to go out there and play the game,” Williams said. “All the credit. I give them all the credit in the world. But one fact still remains, they haven’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught.

“You got caught. I know you’re gonna be looking at the film when we go out there. That’s just that. I don’t want to show them my card. That’s just me, not them. Not them. Every team is gonna look at it anyway. We’re gonna look at what they do too.”

Williams has just guaranteed those practices will be watched a little more closely by everyone.

Permalink 124 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Talib not worried about emphasis on fouls against receivers

Talib AP

The last time the NFL made defensive holding and illegal contact with receivers a point of emphasis in 2004, the number of flags thrown for both fouls increased from 79 to 191.

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib doesn’t believe this year’s emphasis on those fouls will result in a similar uptick.

“They always talk about it but once it’s September and the real games start, it will probably be regular,” Talib told reporters on Friday.  “It’ll probably go through preseason and die out.  It doesn’t matter, it is what it is.  We’re just going to come out here and play football.”

It probably won’t die out, especially if teams like the Seahawks commit those fouls under the impression that the officials won’t throw a stream of flags for fear of bogging down the game.  The officials are under orders to throw the flags, and they apparently will.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Haslett not thrilled by referee’s suggestion that defense needs to be coached differently

Jim Haslett AP

Veteran referee Ed Hochuli said this week that there will be a closer emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact penalties this season, something that he predicted would lead to a lot of flags in the early part of the season.

Officials are visiting camps around the league to provide some instruction about how the rules will be applied. Referee Terry McAuley has been at Redskins camp this week and told a reporter that coaches are going to have to change the way they teach their players to play in pass coverage if they want to avoid flags, which he threw several of during the team’s practices. That suggestion didn’t sit well with Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

“You know what I would tell the official? I would tell him that he needs to worry about officiating and we’ll coach the team,” Haslett said, via CSNWashington.com. “He needs to worry about calling interference because he called about four or five yesterday where there was nothing. So tell him to worry about his job, we’ll worry about our job.”

While one can certainly understand Haslett’s distaste for someone telling him how to do his job, especially when the rules regarding holding and illegal contact are already on the books. We also imagine this won’t be the last complaint from a defensive coach about the officials throwing flags for what might be borderline calls so that they are in line with the league’s edict on emphasizing those calls.

Given the recent trends in football, those complaints will likely fall on deaf ears while passing offenses continue to put up bigger and bigger numbers.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kelvin Benjamin returning to practice tomorrow

Kelvin Benjamin AP

The Panthers dodged a bullet this week when rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin’s MRI turned up no structural damage to his knee.

They’ll get back to having a full arsenal soon.

According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Benjamin is scheduled to return to practice tomorrow.

The Panthers don’t have much to discuss at the position other than their first-round pick, as they filled out the roster with veterans and young projects.

Benjamin has also developed a quick friendship with quarterback Cam Newton. Considering there was always a little frost between Newton and Steve Smith, that’s important for the Panthers moving forward.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Harbaugh says it’s “refreshing” to table contract talk

Jim Harbaugh AP

The 49ers have tabled their contracts talks with coach Jim Harbaugh, and the owner has said they’re not apparently far apart on money.

But as to the cessation of talks, Harbaugh turned it into a positive, saying he didn’t want a new contract with two years left on his contract.

Isn’t it refreshing?” Harbaugh said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “It has to be refreshing for you, refreshing for everybody in the building, refreshing for our fan base that the concentration will be on the 2014 season and our goals as a football team and achieving those goals. That’s the 49er way that I subscribe to.

“As I stated on the record these past months, this past week, all focus is on the 2014 season and achieving our goals. Now, the organization and I are in lockstep and all energy, all focus is on achieving those goals.”

Well, except for holdout guard Alex Boone, and tight end Vernon Davis, who threatened a holdout before showing up.

Of course, Joe Staley had four years left on his contract when he got a contract extension, so apparently there are some loopholes in “the 49er way.”

“That’s another thing that I’m on the record for,” Harbaugh said “And expressed that last summer when I was presented with a new contract, just my feeling, my principle, just a value, as the leader of the team, if I’m running in for a contract extension every couple years, it has a tendency to send everybody else running for the water cooler.”

Until his status is clarified, however, people are going to continue to sidle up to the cooler for a refreshing drink of “When do I get mine?”

Permalink 18 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

San Antonio official believes Raiders have given city “a serious look”

San Antonio skyline Getty Images

After meeting with Raiders owner Mark Davis last month, the president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce believes Davis will give the city some real consideration if the team decides to move.

In an interview Friday with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Chamber executive Richard Perez told hosts Alex Marvez and Ross Tucker that Davis “has indeed given us a serious look, and we’re going to see where this takes us.”

Perez also shed some light on Davis’ message to city officials.

“I will you tell that I felt very, very comfortable and confident that his word was true,” Perez said. “And he said, ‘Look, you know, I’m not telling you that I’m coming today, but I will tell you that I’m looking, and you all are definitely someone that we’re looking very closely at.’”

Referring to the city’s previous failed attempts to appeal to professional teams, Perez said: “The carrot’s been dangled in front of us before. We’ve jumped, and we haven’t been successful. But if you don’t take a chance, you never will succeed.”

Permalink 33 Comments Feed for comments Back to top