Skip to content

Dez Bryant getting back to his old self

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 19:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys prepares to take on the New York Jets at AT&T Stadium on December 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant isn’t working in full at OTAs this week as the team continues to bring him along slowly after January foot and ankle surgeries, but he’s catching passes and doing individual work while waiting for full clearance.

Bryant hopes to get that after another round of X-rays in the near future, but said Wednesday that even his limited workload leaves him feeling ahead of where he was while mired in a contract standoff with the Cowboys at this time last year. Bryant eventually signed a long-term deal, but a broken foot in the season opener set the tone for a disappointing season all around in Dallas.

The injuries have healed now, though, and Bryant said Tuesday that he feels like he’s rounding into form bit by bit.

“I feel fine; I’ve been working out real good,” Bryant said, via the team’s website. “I’m getting back to my old self. … It feels good. I’m right on time. I actually feel a little ahead of the game. But I’m going to stay patient.”

The Bryant of 2015 wasn’t the one that earned that big contract and it isn’t one that’s going to help the Cowboys moving back in a positive direction this season. The same could be said of quarterback Tony Romo, leaving little doubt about the players that the team will be counting on to lead them back to the right side of .500.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Jerome Cunningham claimed off waivers by Titans

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15:  Jerome Cunningham #86 of the New York Giants runs against  Jonathan Freeny #55 of the New England Patriots during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The first time that tight end Jerome Cunningham was waived this offseason, he didn’t have to move far to join his new team.

He’ll get a few frequent flier miles the second time around, though. The Titans announced on Wednesday that they used their top spot on the league’s waiver list to add Cunningham to their 90-man roster. Tennessee only had 89 players under contract so they didn’t need to make a corresponding roster move.

Cunningham was waived by the Jets on Tuesday when they signed running back Romar Morris. He joined the team earlier this month after being dropped by the Giants, who he played nine games for during the 2015 season.

Cunningham joins Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Anthony Fasano, Phillip Supernaw and Alex Ellis at tight end in Tennessee.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Geno Smith just trying to take advantage of his opportunity

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 01:  Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets in action against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 1, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets quarterback Geno Smith has heard teammates like Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall talk about their desire to see Ryan Fitzpatrick back with the team for the 2016 season, but says that he doesn’t “really pay much attention to it” because he doesn’t think they’ve said anything negative about him.

In fact, Marshall said recently that the Jets will “be OK” if Fitzpatrick doesn’t return and Smith heads into the regular season as the starter. On Wednesday, Smith made it clear that his focus is on preparing himself for that possibility and not on watching to see if Fitzpatrick and the Jets bridge their gap and agree on a deal for this year.

“I believe that I do have an opportunity here, and I’ve just got to take advantage of it,” Smith said, via NJ.com. “If anyone has watched football over the years, it’s always been a process with quarterbacks. Every single quarterback has a different learning curve. Some come right in and blow it away. Some come in and struggle a little bit, and then they get it. For me, my confidence has always been there. I think the knowledge of the game, execution, having the game slow down for me, is something that will continue to grow.”

With no other teams sniffing around Fitzpatrick and the quarterback saying this week that he’ll be playing this season, it continues to look like he and the Jets will find their way back to one another. That will mean either a trip to the bench or the waiver wire for Smith, although there’s not much reason for him to worry about crossing that bridge until the Jets put him at the edge of it.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Broncos sign second-round pick Adam Gotsis

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 3: Marquise Williams #12 of the North Carolina Tar Heels takes a hit from Adam Gotsis #96 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on October 3, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Gotsis would be penalized and ejected from the game for the hit. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos are down to one unsigned draft pick.

Second-round defensive tackle Adam Gotsis agreed to a four-year deal with the team on Wednesday, leaving quarterback Paxton Lynch as the only one of the team’s eight picks without a contract. Gotsis was born in Australia and became the highest drafted Australian in league history when the Broncos tabbed him with the 63rd overall pick.

Gotsis will be in the mix of players vying for playing time up front on defense after the departure of Malik Jackson as a free agent this offseason. His attempt to nail down that playing time will be delayed until training camp as Gotsis is going to be on the sideline until training camp as a result of a torn ACL he suffered while at Georgia Tech last year.

Jared Crick, Vance Walker and Kenny Anunike will be Gotsis’ chief competition for playing time once he’s fully recovered.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dwight Freeney expects to visit Falcons next week

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27:  Linebacker Dwight Freeney #54 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeatred the Packers 38-30.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dwight Freeney is in Cincinnati on Wednesday to meet with the Bengals, but it doesn’t look like that will be the end of his search for a home for the 2016 season.

Jim Trotter of ESPN reports that Freeney told him that he expects to visit with the Falcons next week.

The Falcons came into the offseason with a need to boost the pass rush provided by their front seven. They signed linebacker Courtney Upshaw and defensive end Derrick Shelby, drafted a couple of linebackers and are moving Vic Beasley from defensive end to linebacker.

Freeney had eight sacks in 11 games after signing with the Cardinals during the 2015 season. That led Arizona and it would have led Atlanta by a comfortable margin — Beasley topped the team with four sacks — which makes Freeney the kind of established pass rushing threat that the Falcons still don’t have on hand for the coming season.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Blair Walsh: Missed field goal won’t define me

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 10:  Blair Walsh #3 of the Minnesota Vikings misses a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Seattle Seahawks defeat the Minnesota Vikings with a score of 10 to 9.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh spoke to the media after Wednesday’s OTA session and one of the topics that came up was the team’s move indoors at their new stadium.

Walsh said it’s “always easier to kick indoors,” but added that he felt he “had one of my better years as a pro” while the Vikings were playing their home games outdoors in 2015. That was true for much of the season, although Walsh’s final kick at TCF Bank Stadium is the one that most people remember.

That was the 27-yard field goal that he hooked wide left with 22 seconds left in the team’s 10-9 playoff loss to the Seahawks. Walsh says the kick was one moment in his career that he “won’t define me” as a player.

“I’m way past the point of being upset about it or, you know, to the point where it bothers you like that,” Walsh said, via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It’s something I’ve already dealt with and gone through. On a day-to-day basis, no, I don’t think about it. I really don’t use it like that. That initial month or so period, I definitely looked at it as motivation for me. But, like I said before, I had a good year. That was enough motivation for me going into this year.”

Any high-pressure kicks that Walsh has to take this year will come with some added intrigue and any misses in those spots will surely lead some to conclude that he wilts in those situations. If Walsh makes them all, though, the definition of his career will include more than one bad kick on a cold January afternoon in Minneapolis.

Permalink 44 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Doug Whaley: “Poor choice of words” to say humans shouldn’t play football

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 08:  Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley walks the sidelines before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills General Manager Doug Whaley made some headlines on Tuesday when he said during a radio interview that football is “a violent game that I personally don’t think humans are supposed to play.”

It was an odd position for a man charged with fielding a team of humans to play football to make while answering a question about wide receiver Sammy Watkins being injury prone. Hearing that from a team executive was particularly jarring at a time when the NFL is working hard to make the case that they are making the game a safer one.

On Wednesday, Whaley hewed more closely to that party line while walking back what he said the previous day.

“Clearly I used a poor choice of words in my comment yesterday morning,” Whaley said in the statement. “As a former player who has the utmost respect and love for the game, the point that I was trying to make is that football is a physical game and injuries are a part of it. Playing football no doubt is very physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, and that is all part of what make the game so compelling to play and watch. The game has more protection for players now than ever, thanks largely to the safety advancements and numerous rule changes made by our league and promoted to all levels of football. I believe our game continues to have a bright future and I hope that this statement provides clarity as to the intent of my earlier comment.”

The brightness of Whaley’s future with the Bills will have plenty to do with how the team fares this season, making the health of the human beings he brought to Buffalo of paramount importance.

Permalink 53 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Corey Coleman may return punts for Browns

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 5: Corey Coleman #1 of the Baylor Bears runs the ball down field against the Texas Longhorns in the fourth quarter at McLane Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) Getty Images

When we last heard from the Browns about first-round pick Corey Coleman, coach Hue Jackson was discussing the wideout’s need to get into better physical condition after finding it lacking it early practices.

The latest word on Coleman is more positive. The topic on Wednesday was the possibility that Coleman will return kicks for the team this season. Coleman returned kickoffs at Baylor early in his career and returned just three three punts, but special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said neither that nor the fact that Coleman is expected to play a major role as a receiver stands in the way of him landing the job.

“He can do both,” Tabor said, via Cleveland.com. “He’s an explosive player and he’s developing right now so we’re working on all of those things. He obviously has great speed. He has some really good short-area quickness, a make-you-miss type guy and then has a good burst to go. He’s doing a nice job for us and we’ve just got to keep developing him. … If it’s going to help you win, that’s what we want to do. I don’t get caught up in where a guy’s at just from this standpoint: Antonio Brown for the Steelers might be regarded as one of the best players in the NFL, and he’s their punt returner.”

Antonio Brown comparisons are probably best kept in reserve until Coleman has actually taken a few hundred snaps in the NFL, but that lack of experience as a pro is also why the team should see what he can do in a variety of roles. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said he’s fine with the idea because “we know that [Coleman will] score the ball” however it gets into his hands, so that’s all the more reason to find as many ways as possible to get it to him.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Frank Reich: “Furthest thing from the truth” to say no QB competition

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Sam Bradford #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks to pass against the Miami Dolphins in the first half of the game at Lincoln Financial Field on November 15, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz, they talked about Sam Bradford being their No. 1 quarterback for the 2016 season and they didn’t change their tune after picking Wentz with the second overall pick or when Bradford was away from the team after asking for a trade earlier this month.

Head coach Doug Pederson went as far as saying that he doesn’t want Bradford looking over his shoulder at Wentz or Chase Daniel because Bradford is “my guy.” Pederson’s assistants don’t seem to have the same view of things.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on Tuesday that the Eagles shouldn’t pre-determine how the depth chart at quarterback will shake out and offensive coordinator Frank Reich shared similar thoughts during a Wednesday morning appearance on WIP.

“No, [calling Bradford the clear No. 1 is] probably not the right impression,” Reich said. “I’ve been around this business a long time as a player and as a coach, and one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate is it’s not a contradiction to say you’ve got to have order. Because if you don’t [have] order it’s chaos. So, if you’re the head coach you gotta come in and you’ve gotta establish order. There has to be organization, there has to be order, but the other thing that — as coaches — that you’ve got to establish is a culture of competition. This is one of the most competitive industries in the world and so, to say that there’s not competition, that’s just the furthest thing from the truth.”

The Eagles aren’t paying Bradford $18 million because they want him to sit on the bench, but it would be foolish to let that sway their decision if it is clear that one of the other quarterbacks is better suited to the starting job. Whether Daniel and/or Wentz get enough opportunities in the next few months to prove they are right for the job remains to be seen, however, and Pederson’s consistent line about Bradford likely signals the direction that the competition will take.

Permalink 40 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bucs moving practices to morning in hopes of avoiding worst of Florida heat

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 4: General view of a thermometer on the field reading above 100 degrees before the game between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on June 4, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Dodgers won 11-8 in eleven innings. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dirk Koetter won’t take on another team as the head coach of the Buccaneers for a few months, but he’s found an opponent to game plan against this spring.

That opponent goes by the name of Mother Nature and Koetter is hoping to limit her impact on his team while they are on the practice field. The Bucs held practice at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday and Koetter said that the team will continue to work in the morning through training camp and the preseason in hopes of avoiding the worst of the heat in Tampa.

“The last 10 years I’ve been coaching in the South I really do believe there is a cumulative effect over the course of the season, from August until the end of the year, when you’re out here, even if it’s for walkthrough at 12, 1, 2 [p.m.] and it’s 95 degrees and the sun is beating on you,” Koetter said, via the team’s website. “I just think there’s a cumulative effect. We are going to do everything we can to try to chip away at that. There’s some things we can’t get away from, but we’re going to do what we can.”

As a local meteorologist pointed out, there’s no guarantees that the weather will be cooler early in the day and the nature of summer in Florida is such that you’re going to be broiling at some point or another while on the practice field. If you can limit those moments as much as possible, practices should be more productive which should benefit the team as they prepare for more tangible opposition.

Permalink 24 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Packers “being smart” with Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson AP

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson’s return from last year’s torn ACL has progressed well in recent months and Nelson said in April that he had resumed running routes.

Nelson also said that he hoped he’d be participating in OTAs with his teammates, but the Packers haven’t yet given him the green light to take part in all drills. Nelson is doing individual work and coach Mike McCarthy said that the team will evaluate things each week to determine if Nelson is ready to do more.

While Nelson would like that, he doesn’t sound like he’ll be too surprised if a full return to action waits until the summer.

“We don’t want to push it too much because we’re still in May,” Nelson said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Our goal is obviously September. Obviously they’re being smart. They’re probably doing the right thing; obviously you want to push the limits.”

Given how long Nelson has been in the Packers offense and how much the Packers missed him last season, keeping things low key for as long as possible seems the likeliest course of action in Green Bay.

Permalink 48 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Knowshon Moreno wants to play in 2016

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 28:  Knowshon Moreno #28 of the Miami Dolphins looks on in the fourth quarter during action against the St. Louis Rams at Sun Life Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) Getty Images

A recent report from Mike Klis of KUSA said that running back Knowshon Moreno was “80 percent done” mentally when it came to making a decision to retire, but a source very close to Moreno is taking issue with that.

That source would be Moreno himself. Moreno responded on Twitter to an article describing him as “likely done with football” by writing that the opposite was true.

“This is not true,” Moreno wrote. “I plan on being back on the field in 2016.”

For that plan to come to fruition, Moreno is going to need to find a team that wants to facilitate the continuation of his playing career. Moreno last played in 2014 with the Dolphins, but tore his ACL shortly after returning from a dislocated elbow and has had a long history of knee problems over the course of his career.

That’s not a great selling point for a running back, although it’s certainly possible that a team or two would take a look at Moreno to see if there’s anything left in the tank. It doesn’t seem like the likeliest outcome, but Moreno isn’t ready to move on at this point.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rueben Randle out after gallbladder surgery

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Rueben Randle #82 of the New York Giants scores a 45 yard touchdown in the third quarter to take the lead in their game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Rueben Randle has spent the last couple of months getting used to life with the Eagles, but that’s going to be on hold for a bit after his offseason took a turn to the operating room.

Randle is recovering after having surgery to remove his gallbladder earlier this week. The procedure typically doesn’t lead to a long recovery period, although the demands of playing professional football are different than those of most other jobs when it comes to returning to work after a surgical procedure.

The Eagles website suggests Randle may not return to the field until training camp, when he would resume a push to earn snaps alongside Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor in the Eagles offense. Josh Huff and Chris Givens will likely see more reps in practice until Randle gets the green light to pick up where he left off.

Randle signed a one-year deal with the Eagles in March after spending the first four years of his career with the Giants.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Maurkice Pouncey “doing everything” in return from broken leg

Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert AP

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey missed all of last season after breaking his leg in the preseason and coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this offseason that he wasn’t sure if Pouncey would participate in OTAs as a result.

Pouncey’s rehab appears to have gone well because he took every snap with the first-team offense as the Steelers kicked off the final segment of their offseason work on Tuesday. Pouncey said his leg feels 100 percent healthy and he isn’t planning to hold anything back in practices after his long stay on the shelf.

“I’m 26 years old, man,” Pouncey said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m doing everything. I don’t need time off. I’m [ticked] off I missed a lot. I’m ready to go.”

Pouncey also confirmed that he required multiple surgeries to repair the leg, adding that he’s “happy to be out here now.” Happy will likely be a fitting description of the Steelers’ mindset if Pouncey remains on the field for the entire 2016 season.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Goodell: Standard practice to have dialogue back and forth with NIH

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gestures during a press conference at the NFL owners meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez) AP

Monday’s release of a Congressional report critical of the NFL for allegedly trying to influence the direction of a National Institutes of Health study about detecting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living brains has led to a variety of responses from the league and its medical advisors.

Commissioner Roger Goodell echoed many of those previous responses during a Tuesday press conference when he was asked about the report.

“I take a much different position to that on several fronts,” Goodell said. “One is our commitment to medical research is well documented. We made a commitment to the NIH. It is normal practice to have discussions back and forth with the NIH. We have several members that are advisors on our committees — Betsy Nagel, Rich Ellenbogen —who have had experience with NIH or worked with NIH. It is very important to continue to have that kind of dialogue through appropriate channels, which our advisors have. That’s a standard practice. We have our commitment of $30 million to the NIH. We’re not pulling that back one bit. We continue to focus on things our advisors believe are important to study. Ultimately it is the NIH’s decision.”

Goodell went on to say that he did not think it was “appropriate” for the report to be released without speaking to those aforementioned medical advisors and took issue with the report referencing Ellenbogen and others as reaching out on behalf of the NFL.

In a follow-up question about NFL players not trusting the league on concussion issues, Goodell said that it was something the league has to do better at and pledged to “continue to find ways to make our game safer.” He also said that the league has to “make sure people understand the facts” about the effects of head trauma, something that’s been difficult given how often the league and outside groups find themselves on opposite sides of the issues raised by research.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top