Mike Florio talks with Lions running back, Joique Bell about the his role alongside Reggie Bush and the Lions new head coach, Jim Caldwell. Then, Florio talks with UNC tight end, Eric Ebron about his journey to the NFL draft.
Jaguars fans in Jacksonville have supported the team steadfastly, despite nearly a decade of mediocrity. But with increased expectations in 2016 that aren’t being met, the locals are getting restless.
And that isn’t sitting well with receiver Allen Robinson.
“When you hear the atmosphere of when we step out on the field, when we go to punt or before halftime when Blake [Bortles] takes a knee and you hear the booing, it’s kind of funny to me,” Robinson said, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. “It’s funny that we get our best home-field advantage when we go to Wembley [Stadium].”
The Jaguars have been playing one home game in London per year, with the other seven played in Jacksonville.
The team has played six games this year, winning two but not performing on offense the way they did a year ago. The next chance to win comes on Thursday night against the Titans. Another loss could grease the skids toward major changes for the organization.
Giants kicker Josh Brown was placed on the Commissioner’s-Exempt list last week after the release of documents by the King County (WA) Sheriff’s Office.
Included among those documents were writings from Brown that had him admitting that he “physically, verbally and emotionally abused my wife” and viewed her as his slave. Many others weighed in on the matter over the last week, but Brown had remained silent until issuing a statement to Adam Schefter of ESPN on Tuesday.
“I am sorry that my past has called into question the character or integrity of The New York Giants, [Giants owner John] Mara or any of those who have supported me along the way. I have taken measures to get help so that I may be the voice of change, not a statistic. It is important to share that I never struck my wife, and never would. Abuse takes many forms, and is not a gray area. Through the past several years I have worked to identify and rectify my own behaviors. The road to rehabilitation is a journey and a constant modification of a way of life. My journey will continue forever as a person determined to leave a positive legacy and I embrace the opportunities to show and speak about what has helped me to be that man. In the interim, I am cooperating with the Giants and the NFL. Thank you to everyone that has supported me, I will not let you down.”
Schefter previously reported that Brown will not appeal the league’s decision to put him on the list, which bars him from playing while he continues to receive his full salary. Brown was suspended for one game to open the year and would have the right to appeal any further discipline the league tries to enact under the auspices of new information coming to light, although Mara’s admission that Brown admitted to the team that he abused his wife may make that difficult for the league.
Joe Namath has issued an apology for something that didn’t require the advance consumption of Tic Tacs.
On Sunday, Namath questioned the severity of Jets quarterback Geno Smith’s knee injury.
“If you’ve got a right knee injury keeping you out of the game why are you standing on the sideline the entire 2nd half?” Namath tweeted. “How bad can it be?”
As it turned out, pretty bad. Geno Smith has a torn ACL.
“Somebody tell Joe that the doctors have the final say on whether you can or cannot get back into the game,” Smith tweeted, “and also that I love him!”
Namath then issued an apology, although arguably half-hearted and incomplete.
“My bad Geno,” Namath said. “In the dark ages we players had the say. I hope you heal and play as long as you choose!”
So, basically, Namath is saying that, in his day, players played with a torn ACL, if they wanted to. Presumably, they also played with various other ailments, if they wanted to. Including concussions, presumably.
Eagles running back Ryan Mathews lost a fumble in the fourth quarter for the second time in three games against the Vikings, although the turnover didn’t wind up hurting the team in a 21-10 victory.
That wasn’t the case in Week Five against the Lions, when Detroit took advantage of Mathews’ miscue to drive for a go-ahead field goal in what became a 24-23 victory. Mathews lost three fumbles for the Eagles last year and has fumbled 20 times over the course of his career, although neither recent nor distant history have coach Doug Pederson feeling down about the back.
“Well, it’s definitely a concern and we don’t want to see it, especially in those situations – four-minute situations there at the end of the game,” Pederson said in his Monday press confrence. “We’ve got to continue to either find out if he’s tired, where he’s at at the end of the game; if we need to put Wendell [Smallwood] or Darren [Sproles] in there – we’ll find out more about that. But by no means am I down on Ryan at all. We just have to make sure that he understands that he can’t obviously do that and put ourselves in a situation where we’re giving the ball back to the opponent.”
Whether Mathews understands that it’s a negative to fumble the ball or not is secondary to whether he’s doing the right things to avoid turnovers that can make life more difficult for his team. His history says its an issue and it probably won’t take more than another fumble or two for the Eagles to rethink who is getting the ball down the stretch in games.
Cleveland may be in store for yet another quarterback change.
The Browns’ official depth chart this week lists Kevin Hogan as the first-string quarterback. Joe Callahan, claimed on waivers yesterday, is listed as the second-string quarterback. Josh McCown, who is still recovering from a broken collarbone, is third, while Cody Kessler, who suffered a concussion on Sunday, is listed as fourth.
Hogan’s spot atop the depth chart doesn’t mean he’s going to start on Sunday against the Jets, but it does indicate that he’d be the starter if the Browns had to play today. If Hogan does start he’d be the Browns’ fourth different starting quarterback this season, following Robert Griffin III, McCown and Kessler.
After Kessler suffered his concussion on Sunday, Hogan came in and showed impressive rushing ability, catching the Bengals by surprise with his feet and carrying seven times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, Hogan wasn’t as successful passing the ball: He completed just 12 of 24 passes for 100 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Cowboys got a head start on scouting this week’s opponent, although when they were looking at Carson Wentz, it was with an eye toward the possibility he might be around for longer than a week.
The guy they coached at the Senior Bowl was taken before they had a chance to draft him, and as you may have heard, they found a rookie of their own they like in Dak Prescott. But make no mistake, they were convinced Wentz had the chance to be good.
“He clearly loves football,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of the Eagles quarterback, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “He’s very passionate about it. He’s a smart football player. He’s a talented football player. I thought he grew over the course of the week, a real tribute to the approach that he took. He had a real command with his teammates. I thought he played well in practice, played well in the game. Very impressed by him.”
Wentz was able to go through the week under Cowboys coaches before they knew they’d be facing him twice a year, and he ran a scaled-back version of their offense. And they liked the way he was able to pick up things quickly, which would have made things interesting if he had somehow lasted until the fourth pick in the draft, as he was the highest-rated quarterback on their board.
“I’m not so sure he had ever lost a game, maybe one or two,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “The thing that blew me away was he never made anything lower than like an A in school. I said, ‘Well, you broke my record. I didn’t make it through kindergarten without getting a B.’ But he was really sharp. And he’s a really talented kid. I’m not surprised he’s doing well at all.”
But the Senior Bowl was also when the Cowboys met Prescott, who was playing for the South team that week. And while Wentz got off to the high-profile start, Prescott has shown himself more than able to be a starter, now and in the future.
When the Dolphins were 1-4, plenty of their fans were ready to abandon ship. But first-year coach Adam Gase continued to believe.
His belief has paid off with a pair of wins, heading into the bye week. Appearing on Monday’s PFT Live, Gase attributed the surge to one primary factor.
“I think the fact that we got our five starting offensive lineman back has been obviously a big part of that,” Gase said. “It’s changed the whole way that we’ve been able to play the game where the offense is staying on the field for a longer period of time. We have better time of possession. Our defense is actually getting to do what we built it to do, which is rush the passer and really not play 75 to 80 plays a game. It was a little ridiculous there for the first five games of the season where they were playing just way too many snaps.”
Gase helped weather the early-season storm by shutting out the noise.
“I think it’s easy when you don’t look at the Internet and don’t look at Twitter and don’t listen to radio and don’t watch TV,” Gase said. “So that makes it easy. You just kind of live in your own little bubble and just keep working every day. Our players, I think, did a great job of trying to do the same thing. I know it’s a little tougher for them because they’re out in the public a lot and people have family members and agents and fans. They have more access to them so they probably have to hear a little bit more than what a lot of our coaching staff has to hear. So I’m sure it’s a little tougher to just kind of stay in that tunnel and just keep fighting.”
Why doesn’t Gase consume any media about his team?
“I think it’s just putting negativity in your head,” Gase said. “I just stay away from it. I think we’ve been so busy, there’s so much going on for us right now as far as kind of what we’re trying to do down here. I know our coaching staff is working really hard to keep coming back every day and giving our players a great plan and try to put them in a good position. We haven’t had a lot of time for anything out side of football.”
Whatever they’re doing (or not doing), it’s currently working. And with some extra time to further heal up and plan for the final nine games of the season, Gase and the Dolphins could still make plenty of noise in the AFC.
1. Patriots (6-1; last week No. 2): They may be here for a while, especially if they can avenge their only loss of the season to date.
2. Cowboys (5-1; No. 4): A return to glory is entirely possible.
3. Vikings (5-1; No. 1): They weren’t going to win them all. On Sunday, they wouldn’t have won against anyone.
4. Seahawks (4-1-1; No. 3): There’s a sense that the wheels could come off at any point for this team. There’s also a sense they’ll eventually mash on the gas pedal. It remains to be seen which one happens first.
5. Packers (4-2; No. 7): As long as they play inferior opponents, the offense will look just fine.
6. Broncos (5-2; No. 9): “This one’s for Brock.”
7. Falcons (4-3; No. 5): The Second Annual Collapse has begun. How long will it last?
8. Steelers (4-3; No. 8): Linebacker Ryan Shazier says the team is “garbage” right now. Plenty of teams would love to smell that bad.
9. Chiefs (4-2; No. 12): This may be the one team no one wants to play in January.
10. Raiders (5-2; No. 13): Maybe they should start their home games at 10:00 a.m. PT, too.
11. Lions (4-3; No. 18): Maybe Matthew Stafford will start getting the credit he deserves.
12. Washington (4-3; No. 6): The closest this team will come to No. 1 happened on the sideline of Sunday’s game in Detroit.
13. Eagles (4-2; No. 15): Shrugging off a couple of losses and three first-quarter turnovers from Carson Wentz, the Eagles have re-established themselves as an unlikely postseason contender.
14. Giants (4-3; No. 17): Based on his interception return for a touchdown against the Rams, maybe Landon Collins should play running back.
15. Bills (4-3; No. 10): The Bills last swept the Patriots in the same year the Bills last went to the playoffs. Ending one streak on Sunday would go a long way toward ending the other one.
16. Texans (4-3; No. 11): They could have won the division and made a quick exit from the playoffs by spending a lot less than $18 million per year on a quarterback.
17. Cardinals (3-3-1; No. 14): They get a chance to exorcise their lingering 2015 demons with a trip back to Charlotte. And if the Cardinals lose this one, it could be over.
18. Buccaneers (3-3; No. 20): The next two games will tell us plenty about whether this team is ready to contend.
19. Bengals (3-4; No. 21): They’ll fly a long way to try to extend the winning streak against former Bengals offensive coordinators to two.
20. Dolphins (3-4; No. 25): At a time when plenty of NFL players are the last ones to realize it’s over, Arian Foster deserves credit for being quick to admit it.
21. Chargers (3-4; No. 26): Could this be the best team in the division?
22. Colts (3-4; No. 28): Could this be the best team in the division?
23. Titans (3-4; No. 16): This could have been the best team in the division.
24. Ravens (3-4; No. 19): This could be a problem for John Harbaugh, eventually.
25. Rams (3-4; No. 22): This could be the formula for 7-9.
26. Saints (2-4; No. 23): This could be a little awkward when Jimmy Graham returns to New Orleans on Sunday.
27. Panthers (1-5; No. 27): This could be the first step in a slow climb out of the basement.
28. Jaguars (2-4; No. 24): If they don’t win in the Star Trek uniforms, Gus Bradley could be teleported to a new job.
29. Jets (2-5; No. 29): “How dare you react to the fact that I wasn’t good at my job.”
30. 49ers (1-6; No. 30): Those “traffic problems” in Santa Clara that made the stadium seem sparsely attended for a Thursday night game are here to stay.
31. Bears (1-6; No. 31): The Cubs are providing the Bears with the cover they need to keep stinking.
32. Browns (0-7; No. 32): The Indians are providing the Browns with the cover they need to keep stinking.
The Ravens have made their choice for a player to return from injured reserve this season.
The team announced on Tuesday that it will be safety Matt Elam, who was placed on injured reserve after injuring his knee and having surgery in the preseason. He is practicing with the team on Tuesday and Baltimore will have three weeks before they’ll have to add him to the 53-man roster or lose him for the rest of the year.
Elam, the team’s 2013 first-round pick, has not played in a regular season game since the 2014 season. He missed all of last season with a biceps injury and will have the extra time provided by the bye week to get back up to speed.
The Ravens have suffered several injuries in the secondary over the course of the season and placed safety Kendrick Lewis on injured reserve last week. Lardarius Webb also left last Sunday’s loss to the Jets with a hamstring injury.
Pete Carroll is optimistic, primarily because Pete Carroll is optimistic.
But the Seahawks coach is convinced that his team’s moribund run game is going to improve soon, and maybe the reason is that it just can’t get much worse.
Via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, Carroll said he hopes the return of running back Thomas Rawls from his fibula injury the week after next will spark an offense that is a shell of its former self.
“This is what we’re counting on right now,” Carroll said. “We’re counting on him running this week, and then next week [against the Bills] preparing to play. That’s what we’re counting on unless something changes.”
That won’t help them this week against the Saints, but they’re playing the Saints, whose defense is historically bad. But the Seahawks are averaging a meager 3.12 yards per carry, which is next to last in the league.
The absence of Rawls and the limitations of quarterback Russell Wilson because of his knee and ankle injuries have kept them from running effectively, but Carroll said Wilson was improving.
“He is getting better,” Carroll said. “He got out of this game maybe for the first time, he felt nothing of carryover on his ankle or his knee, which is really good. There’s always a little bit of aftermath. He didn’t feel that from what I understand.”
Of course, they’re going to have to try to fix things with another patchwork offensive line, as left tackle Bradley Sowell is going to miss some time with an MCL sprain. Whether that negates the return of Rawls and Wilson’s getting healthier will be seen, but the best answer this week might just be their opponent.
The Colts are 3-4 after the first seven weeks of the season, but still sit firmly in the mix for the AFC South title with the Texans currently leading the division with a 4-3 record.
Their chances of moving up in the pecking order would likely increase with a healthier roster and there are some good signs on that front heading into Week Eight. Colts coach Chuck Pagano said that the team expects to have wide receiver Donte Moncrief on the field at practice this week.
“Moncrief has a good chance to get back into the swing of things,” Pagano said, via the team’s website. “I think he will get on the field on Wednesday in a limited capacity.”
Moncrief has not played since Week Two due to a fractured scapula and he only took nine snaps in that game before getting hurt, so he hasn’t had much of a presence on the field for Indianapolis this season. Moncrief was second on the team in both catches and receiving yards last season.
There may be others rejoining the team this week. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and Pagano said he is “trending in the right direction.” Defensive linemen Henry Anderson and Zach Kerr are also expected to work this week as the Colts prepare to face the Chiefs.
The Jaguars have lost a starter on their defensive line for the rest of the season.
The team announced Tuesday that nose tackle Roy Miller tore his right Achilles in last Sunday’s loss to the Raiders. Miller will have surgery and be placed on injured reserve.
Miller started all six games for the Jaguars this season and 50 games overall for the Jaguars since joining the team in 2013. He had 10 tackles this season and had 94 tackles and five sacks during his three previous seasons with the team.
While Miller was the starter, the Jaguars have used a variety of defensive linemen this season and he played on just over 36 percent of the snaps through the first six games. Sen’Derrick Marks, Abry Jones and rookie Sheldon Day are still on hand to play with Malik Jackson on the interior of the Jacksonville line.
The NFL is ready to play a regular-season game in China. The challenge arises primarily from what happens after the game played in China.
“The main focus of the work now is as much about how does a team come back from China and then play and be competitive after a trip like that?” NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller told Alex Marvez of Sporting News. “It’s less of the focus on the game in China itself.”
Some would say the focus shouldn’t be China at all, and that the NFL should focus on the “National” aspect of its title. At a time when TV ratings are sharply down domestically, the league could keep mining for gold in other countries, or it could devote assets to renew the zeal and passion of existing fans.
It’s far cheaper and simpler to keep existing customers than to harvest new ones. Maybe China, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, England, and elsewhere should take a back seat to the United States, with the overriding goal being to make American football great again.
The Steelers haven’t gotten anything from tight end Ladarius Green since signing him as a free agent this offseason due to an ankle injury that led him to the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp.
That may change once the team returns from their bye week, though. The team announced that Green is expected to practice with the team on Tuesday.
Green said he’s been able to keep up on the mental end of things while he’s been rehabbing his ankle, but that on-field work will represent a significant change.
“It’s a big difference,” Green said, via the team’s website. “You can learn as much as you want to but until you go on the field and actually go through it, it’s a big difference. I had a good while to learn the playbook. I learned it pretty much and am pretty good at it. Until you go on the field and run it, it’s a totally different animal.”
Returning to practice opens up a 21-day window for the Steelers to decide whether to activate Green or shut him down for the rest of the season. Jesse James and Xavier Grimble have been the tight ends for the Steelers in Green’s absence and they’ve combine to catch 30 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib praised General Manager John Elway on Monday night for making the right decision at quarterback.
Talib said after the broncos beat the Texans that it’s clear that Trevor Siemian is a better quarterback than Brock Osweiler, who left Denver for Houston this offseason. And Talib noted that the Texans gave Osweiler a four-year, $72 million contract, while Siemian is playing on a four-year, $2.3 million contract.
“If you look at it overall, [Elway] saved a bunch of money. And Trev is a great quarterback, man. He’s better than Brock in my eyes. So it’s a win-win situation,” Talib told USA Today.
Of course, Elway wasn’t exactly perfect on the quarterback front: He did offer Osweiler a contract this offseason, reportedly for four years and $64 million. And Elway also traded for Mark Sanchez with the expectation that Sanchez would beat out Siemian for the starting job. That didn’t work out, and Sanchez was released before the start of the regular season.
Still, it’s clear that the Broncos ultimately got it right at quarterback: Anyone would rather have Siemian for $600,000 a year than Osweiler for $18 million a year. Talib is probably right that Siemian is better than Osweiler, and he’s certainly right that Osweiler shouldn’t be making 30 times as much money as Siemian. The Texans are probably asking themselves right now why they were willing to pay Osweiler more than Elway, the G.M. who knew him best, was willing to pay.