Skip to content

Ayanbadejo: Coming out to team made Sam a better player

Derek Carr, Michael Sam AP

Prior to Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announcing he was gay last night, he spent the weekend with a number of supporters.

Former Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo was among them, and he thinks Sam will be a better NFL player for yesterday’s announcement.

In a first-person column written for FOXSports.com, Ayanbadejo compared Sam to Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks from a social standpoint, but also cited the  football component.

Ayanbadejo pointed to the fact Sam had 3.5 sacks as a junior, but 11.5 as a senior after telling his teammates he was gay last August.

“I could go on campus and go around local gay bars in Columbia and not worry about anybody judging me,” Sam told Ayanbadejo. “Prior to coming out, I would be in a local restaurant with my boyfriend and coaches would come in and I would feel insecure and want to sneak out.”

Ayanbadejo said he told Sam to worry about football, and let others be the activists. That’s probably an unreasonable expectation, as so much attention will be paid to him wherever he lands.

But if he continues to play well, it will help make his sexual orientation matter less and less.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Sam Bradford’s old coach sees big things, now that he didn’t quit

St Louis Rams v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

When Sam Bradford’s college coach heard about his former pupil’s trade to Philadelphia, he got excited.

After all, running a similar system at Oklahoma to the one Chip Kelly’s running with the Eagles, Bradford completed 69 percent of his passes and threw 86 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Sooners.

“If he’s 100 percent healthy,” former Sooners quarterback coach Josh Heupel said, “he’ll be able to perform at an elite level.”

Of course, that’s always been the condition with Bradford.

But Huepel also had a hand in making sure Bradford came back to try, after he considering quitting after tearing his ACL twice in nine months. Bradford had previously admitted such, saying Huepel was key in talking him out of it.

“It was one of those moments where, after all the time and energy and passion that he poured into rehabilitating himself in the first injury, you feel like you’re snakebitten,” Heupel told Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “You don’t know when, if, or how your body is going to respond and what your next opportunity is. You’re really just in a lot of limbo. Sometimes, I think, just having a voice from an outside perspective is something that can be valuable.”

Huepel, who is now offensive coordinator at Utah State, said the competitiveness he saw in Bradford in college wasn’t betrayed by the second injury, but underlined. So determined to come back from the first one, the heartache of falling short was temporarily devastating.

“When a player goes through a big letdown, it’s natural to be down,” Heupel said. “I just tried to reach out to him and say, ‘Hey, I still see this in you as a person and a player. I think the best is yet to come for you. You’ve got to get yourself healthy and get yourself back on the field and get yourself in the right environment with the right people and the right supporting cast around you, and there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll achieve the things you’re capable of achieving and want to achieve.’

“Nothing changed for him from a guy who was the number-one overall draft pick as far as who or what he is as a person and a competitor, and ultimately that’s why there’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to reach the pinnacle of success.”

And if — there’s that if again — he can stay healthy, he should be in a place to do just that.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Marvin Lewis worries about defense, not Dalton, in the playoffs

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

NFL coaches want their quarterbacks to play their best football in the playoffs, and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton has not done that. Dalton has one touchdown and six interceptions in his four playoff games, all Bengals losses.

But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis says Dalton is just fine. Asked if he’s worried about Dalton’s play in the playoffs, Lewis answered via TheMMQB.com, “What worries me is our poor performance on defense in the playoffs.”

Lewis continued that the team is committed to Dalton and thinks that Dalton can win if the defense supports him.

“You look at how we’ve played on defense. We haven’t played good enough. Andy had a bad game against San Diego—a bad second half two years ago. The other games it’s been split evenly. We do know, in order for us to be successful, which we can’t even talk about the playoffs because we haven’t gotten there, but the first thing we do, we have to take care of the ball and play better on defense,” Lewis said. “We feel Andy’s our quarterback, and we signed him long-term, and we feel good about him . . . and we will continue to get better with the pieces around Andy. Andy has done a lot of things so far as a pro that not a lot of people have done. We need to keep playing better around Andy and that will be helpful to Andy.”

It’s hard for the defense to play well when Dalton keeps giving them short fields to work with, so it would be nice if Dalton could play better. But make no mistake: Lewis and Bengals owner Mike Brown are totally committed to Dalton as the franchise quarterback.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Monday morning one-liners

Brock Lesnar, Brock Edward Lesnar AP

Forecasting the big spots on the Bills schedule.

A look back at all the Dolphins news from last week.

Kansas LB Ben Heeney worked out for the Patriots.

The Jets make a couple of appearances on the list of the biggest trades in Buccaneers history.

An early look at 2016 free agency shows Ravens CB Jimmy Smith at the top of the list of potential free agents.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton was a spectator at TCU’s pro day.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer thinks the Browns will continue trying to make moves at quarterback.

DT Red Bryant seems like an unlikely target for the Steelers.

The Texans website checked in with coach Bill O’Brien at the league meetings.

Is there a chance that Dwight Freeney could return to the Colts?

An argument that the Jaguars should at least double last year’s win total.

DT Leonard Williams remains a popular mock draft choice for the Titans.

A Broncos return for WR Wes Welker looks unlikely.

Chiefs DE Mike DeVito and LB Derrick Johnson are pushing each other in rehab.

The Raiders have set up a bracket to determine the greatest play in team history.

Will C/G Trevor Robinson be in the mix for a starting job with the Chargers?

The Cowboys watched a workout by Georgia WR Chris Conley.

Is Randy Gregory a draft option for the Giants?

A look at where LB Marcus Smith stands with the Eagles.

What positions can the Redskins rule out with the fifth pick?

Bears coach John Fox has won with lightly regarded quarterbacks in the past.

Lions LB DeAndre Levy has taken up wing walking this offseason.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers’s presence at Wisconsin’s Elite Eight victory rubbed at least one person the wrong way.

A pair of former Vikings took part in Wrestlemania’s main event on Sunday night.

Falcons players have been keeping close watch on March Madness.

Some discussion about the Panthers drafting a running back.

The Saints have reportedly set up a visit with Western Kentucky CB Dalton Patterson.

Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson checked out things in the auto racing world.

The Cardinals are planning more time at safety for Deone Buccanon in 2015.

Which guards are draft possibilities for the Rams?

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle wonders if improved mechanics will make all the difference for QB Colin Kaepernick.

Setting the Seahawks current lineup on defense.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Nearly every NFL team wants extra points to change, but how

extrapoint AP

It’s clear that the NFL as an institution wants to make the extra point an actual football play, instead of a pro forma kick that no one ever misses, few want to participate in (especially Rob Gronkowski) and fewer even watch.

But with change accepted, the NFL is running into its usual issue, figuring out what to change it to.

According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, 30 of 32 teams agreed the play needed to be changed, with the competition committee expected to advance a new proposal at the May meetings.

So last Tuesday at the league meetings, every team was asked for input on what the new rule should look like, and as expected, those opinions were “all over the map.”

According to King, the most likely skeleton of the proposal would involve two choices:

— Kicking for one would move from the 2-yard line to the 15, making it a 32-yard field goal (still a high percentage shot, but not 99.6 like last year’s PAT rate).

— Going for two, to turn it into a football play. They’re still talking about the right yard marker to put it on (the 1, 1.5 or 2), in order to make it a real play and not just a push-the-pile-and-hope.

(Man, with all this close-to-the-goal-line action, it sure would be neat if the league could afford fixed cameras to monitor it all. We should have a Bake Sale. Florio, I’ll bring the brownies.)

The proposals would also allow the defensive team to score two by blocking the kick, recovering a fumble or intercepting a pass and returning it to the other end zone.

It seems like a logical place to start, but anyone who’s been in a committee meeting knows how hard it is to find consensus on where to get lunch. Getting 24 of 32 rich and powerful owners to agree on the specific hows (when two of them don’t want it changed at all) will be the next challenge for the competition committee.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kaepernick impresses Warner with touch passes

Kaepernick AP

Cardinals fans weren’t happy when former Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner decided to start working with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick this offseason.  Cardinals fans may be even less happy now.

Via Jim Corbett of USA Today, Warner said recently that Kaepernick has been displaying better touch on his throws.  Thanks to playing touch football with some receivers who aren’t used to catching fastballs from an NFL quarterback.

“We had some guys come out from the office playing in my corporate charity event, and there were a couple of times where I went, ‘Whoa! Was that a little bit of touch I just saw?” Warner said, via Corbett.  “Colin laughed and told me, ‘We’re not out here working for nothing.’

“The situation forced him to throw with a little more touch.  He couldn’t throw it as hard as maybe he wanted to with those corporate guys.”

Over the past 10 weeks, Warner has helped Kaepernick with his stance while throwing and the mechanics of making reads from one receiver to the next.  But Warner realizes that may not make a difference once Kaepernick finds himself in live game reps with his muscle memory taking over.

“Is 10 weeks enough time for you to change what you’ve been doing your entire career?  And what does that look like when bullets are flying and people are attacking you?” Warner said, via Corbett.  “Have we gone far enough where that becomes the norm for Colin?

“That’s the big question none of us can answer. . . .  You talk about a guy who has been playing the position one way for twenty-something years, and we’re [trying] to change him in three months?”

It’s unlikely that much will change, unless Kaepernick’s protection allows him to not worry about being hit and instead to consciously focus on the things he’ll have to do for a lot more than 10 weeks in order for it to become part of his subconscious.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Agent: Seahawks re-sign Demarcus Dobbs

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The Seahawks have retained one of the NFL’s more versatile backup defensive linemen.

The club has re-signed defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, agent Wesley Spencer announced on Twitter.

Dobbs (6-2, 282) appeared in four regular season games and three postseason games for Seattle after being claimed on waivers from San Francisco in November. Overall, the 27-year-old Dobbs has notched 37 tackles in 49 regular season games since entering the NFL in 2011.

In addition to playing defensive end, Dobbs can also play tight end in a pinch. The 49ers tried him on offense earlier in his career, though defense has been his job for the bulk of his NFL experience.

Permalink 28 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Draft status doesn’t matter, Anderson tops Ball on Broncos’ depth chart

C.J. Anderson AP

In 2013, the Broncos used a second-round draft pick on Montee Ball, and signed C.J. Anderson as an undrafted free agent. Two years later, there’s little doubt which of them is the better running back — and it’s not the one everyone thought heading into the draft.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak has confirmed that he views Anderson as the starter heading into Organized Team Activities.

“He made a big jump as a player, and I think he’s earned the right to walk in to the offseason program — the OTAs — and line up as our starter,” Kubiak said. “But he’s got to continue to earn it on a daily basis. I think he’s shown he has all the ability to be an excellent starter in this league, so we’re really looking forward to working with him.”

So where does that leave Ball? Splitting backup reps with Ronnie Hillman, a 2012 third-round pick. Kubiak said both Ball and Hillman will get their chances, but Anderson is the man right now.

“I think all three of those guys . . . have all kind of had their little spurts of success with the club when they’ve had their opportunity,” Kubiak said. “But they’re all young. Who’s going to be the bell cow, who’s going to play every down, who’s going to be the three-down player, they’ve got to sort that out. C.J. has shown the flashes of doing that.”

With the draft just a month away, the Broncos may be a cautionary tale for teams thinking about spending high picks on running backs. It’s the undrafted Anderson who’s atop the Broncos’ depth chart, and a second-round pick and a third-round pick competing to back him up.

Permalink 31 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: “Spirited debate” about where Koa Misi will play in Miami

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Dolphins parted ways with a pair of linebackers this offseason when they released Phillip Wheeler and traded Dannell Ellerbe and there’s reportedly some difference of opinion within the organization about other changes at the position.

Koa Misi moved to middle linebacker last season and made 11 starts at the position for the Dolphins. Misi had 64 tackles and a sack in those appearances and Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that head coach Joe Philbin said last week that “as of right now” Misi will remain at the position next season.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle is reportedly on board with that, while the personnel department feels differently. Per Beasley, they’d like Kelvin Sheppard to get a shot in the middle while Misi returns to his previous spot on the outside of the defense. Misi started 26 games there in 2012 and 2013 and would likely remain on the first team on the strong side if he does move.

Jelani Jenkins is set for one outside spot, but the Dolphins need to round out their linebacking group over the rest of the offseason. Misi’s ability to play either spot gives them some flexibility about how to go about doing that, although that flexibility may not be needed if the personnel guys are set on pushing him to the outside.

Permalink 32 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dixon accused officers of racial bias

Dixon AP

Saints cornerback Brian Dixon was arrested early Sunday after an incident involving a moped.  Specifically, he was arrested for resisting arrest.  It still remains unclear what he was being arrested for when he allegedly resisted arrest.

Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate has obtained the police report.

According to the report, police officers saw Dixon “splitting lanes” and driving down the center of the road, eventually swerving and cutting off another vehicle.

The officers contend that Dixon became “belligerent” after he learned that he’d be getting a ticket, eventually saying “just give me my ticket so I can get the f–k out of here.”

According to the report, Dixon’s “imposing size, stature, and weight, as well as the defendant’s agitated state” resulted in an order to sit on a curb.  (He’s listed as six feet and 195 pounds, which would nearly qualify me as having “imposing size, stature, and weight.”)  Dixon refused, instead taking a step toward the officer.

An officer then began to place Dixon under arrest.  He allegedly tensed his body and pulled away from the officer.

“Let me go,” Dixon allegedly said.  “You’re just doing this because I’m a black man with dreads and I look like a criminal. I’m not a criminal.”

While being taken in custody, Dixon said, “I’m not a criminal.  I give so much to this community.  I’m an NFL player.  Let me call my agent.”

The Saints acknowledged that they are aware of the incident but had no further comment on Dixon, who earned a roster spot last year despite being undrafted.

Permalink 100 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Brandon Magee gets advice from Bo Jackson

Magee AP

Officially, former Buccaneers linebacker Brandon Magee remains committed to football.  Unofficially, he’s giving baseball a try — in spring training with the Red Sox.

As he does, Magee is heeding advice from one of the last great two-sport stars, Bo Jackson.

“Some of them I can tell you, some of them I won’t,” Magee said Sunday regarding the pointers he has gotten from Jackson, via Rick Weber of ESPN.com.  “He’s a great guy.  He’s been here before.  He gives me encouragement all the times I talked to him.  He just told me to stay humble and try to keep working hard and outwork everybody out here.  That’s his main key.”

While he still may be interested in playing football, Magee seems to be all in with baseball, at least for now.

“Every day, I’m learning something new,” Magee said, via Weber.  “I’m getting adjusted to it.  It’s a lot different than playing football.  You’ve got a lot flexibility things I’m working on — getting my arm ready, getting my swing right.  I’m enjoying every minute.

“It’s been 90 feet every day so far.  I think starting tomorrow we’re going to ramp it up even more — taking four rounds of BP tomorrow.  So I’m excited about that.”

So how focused is Magee on football?

“I’m just focusing on spring training,” Magee said.  “And I take it one at a time.  When I’m playing football, it’s to help the team win.  When I’m playing baseball, I’m focusing on getting better, helping the team win.  Now I’m just focusing on getting better every day.”

Still, Magee needs to eventually pick a lane.  As Jackson said last year, times have changed since he played baseball and football at the highest levels.  He conceded that he probably wouldn’t be able to pull off playing both sports in 2015.

Currently, the lane necessarily is baseball, because no NFL team has given him a job.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL to begin research Monday into enhanced camera system

Pylon Getty Images

Whatever Patriots coach Bill Belichick said last week in Arizona, it worked.  The NFL will soon be taking a closer look at the use of fixed cameras during games, at the goal line and elsewhere.

Soon as in very soon.  Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that the league will commence research and development on Monday regarding Belichick’s proposal to add more cameras.

Breer says that the league specifically is looking for “the right technology and then how to best integrate the cameras into the replay system that will work in all 31 stadiums.”

Cost has been identified as a reason for not installing more cameras, a red herring that caused Belichick to go blue (unless he didn’t).  But cost surely isn’t the actual issue, especially since the technology easily can become a revenue stream with the slapping of a logo on the pylon and/or the granting to GoPro of a license to call itself the Official Action Camera of the NFL, or some similar foofy marketing concoction.

The more practical challenge from the placement of cameras in pylons comes from the presence of 22 players and seven officials on the field, who can obscure what otherwise would be a clear view of action on the field.  It also will become important for the officials to not place ever further reliance on the availability of visual evidence when making calls in real time, erring one way or the other with the assumption that any errors can be rectified by replay.

Permalink 81 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tisch says St. Louis, Oakland, San Diego are “kind of in the fourth quarter”

Tisch Getty Images

When it comes to Los Angeles, the NFL has a tough balancing act on its hands.  The desire to go to L.A. on one side, the importance of giving the cities where the potential L.A. franchises currently play a fair chance at keeping them on the other.

Ultimately, one or two current NFL cities will be losing their teams.  And while the NFL tries to say all the right things (presumably in order to prevent three stadiums from being empty or close to it in 2015), the cat is far enough out of the bag to make it clear that St. Louis, Oakland, and/or San Diego will be losing their franchises, as soon as next year.

This could come to a vote in a year,” Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said at the league meetings, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Tisch added that the league has made it “very clear” that those three cities must “get their proposals to their respective teams sooner rather than later.”

“Is it crunch time? Is it a two-minute warning yet? No,” Tisch said, via Thomas.  “But . . . those three cities are kind of in the fourth quarter.”

As Thomas points out, St. Louis seems to be much farther along in the process than Oakland or San Diego.  But owner Stan Kroenke remains, as Thomas characterizes it, on a “bullet train” to L.A.

Which makes the theory that has gathered momentum in recent weeks the most sensible one yet:  The Rams and Chargers go to L.A., and the Raiders slide from Oakland to St. Louis.  Which will mean that only two cities will lose the NFL, but that three teams will be getting new stadiums.

Permalink 53 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Russell Wilson: Contract situation will work out

Russell Wilson AP

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is heading into the final season of his contract, but he doesn’t sound overly concerned about getting a new deal done.

“In terms of my contract, I don’t really talk about that kind of stuff,” Wilson said, via the Everett Herald. “I love the game of football. I love playing the game of football. I try to put my best foot forward and I want to be the best to ever play the game. That’s the way I look at it. I’ve been fortunate enough to win a lot of games at such a young age and to be able to play with some great guys and have some great comeback wins and win a Super Bowl, and go to back to back Super Bowls. It’s been special. So that’s what I focus on. I focus on the next opportunity that I have. The rest will come. I believe God is going to bless me. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I trust always. And I trust it’s going to work out the way it’s supposed to.”

The Seahawks get Wilson for this year at the bargain salary of $1.5 million. If they can’t get a deal done beyond this year, however, the only way they could ensure he doesn’t leave is to franchise him at a number approaching $20 million.

Franchising Wilson is exactly what they’ll do if they have to, but they’d prefer to get a deal done before it comes to that. Wilson sounds like he’s ready for whatever happens: Ready to sign if the right deal comes, or ready to wait if he’s not satisfied with what the Seahawks are offering.

Permalink 77 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dixon arrested after moped incident

Moped Getty Images

Saints cornerback Brian Dixon was arrested for resisting arrest, but not for anything else.  Which raises a legitimate question about what he was being arrested for when he resisted arrest.

That logic still seems to be lost on the authorities in South Beach, but Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate offers some additional details about the incident.

Per Underhill, police say Dixon was driving a moped.  A police officer pulled him over.  Dixon then questioned the officer.  And the officer arrested Dixon.

Without knowing what Dixon said, it’s hard to know whether the arrest was justified.  It’s nevertheless odd that Dixon was arrested for resisting an arrest that still has not been specified.

Permalink 46 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Packers to remain “smart” about how they use Eddie Lacy

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptu0ndixytc0mjvmm2m5zmzlyzbkogjhzmi4mwq1mtuy AP

The Packers wanted Eddie Lacy to show he could be an effective three-down running back in 2014 and Lacy was successful in that effort.

Lacy averaged over 10 yards a catch on 42 receptions and did a solid job as a pass blocker in his second NFL season, leaving coach Mike McCarthy without too much to tell Lacy about where to improve heading into the 2015 season. The conversation will instead be about continuing to use Lacy in a way that he can be an effective offensive force without putting him at risk of overuse over the course of the season.

McCarthy said he thought the team was “really smart” in how they used Lacy last season. He ran the ball 246 times in the regular season, good for 13th in the league, and it sounds like McCarthy would be happy with a similar total next season.

“I go back to past experience,” McCarthy said, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I went through this, really. Ricky Williams [who was with the Saints when McCarthy was on New Orleans’s staff] was the first running back that I went through the how-many-attempts, how-many-runs [discussion]. It’s a learning experience. I’m conscientious of how many times each guy touches the ball, how much each guy plays, especially the running back. I think you have to be smart there.”

Lacy added 40 more carries while continuing to run well in the postseason, which makes it tough to argue with the contention that the team came up with a good plan for their top running back. As long as Lacy is healthy, they should be able to find the same formula this time around.

Permalink 52 Comments Feed for comments Back to top