Among the images from Sunday’s Steelers-Browns game was one of Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva standing by himself at the end of the tunnel to the field during the playing of the national anthem while the rest of the team’s players waited deeper in the tunnel to come on the field at the end of the song.
The Steelers had said that all players were going to remain inside until after the anthem and linebacker James Harrison said Villanueva’s deviation from that plan took him by surprise. Villanueva spoke to the media on Monday and shed some light on what happened.
Villanueva, who served in the United States Army, said that he spoke to Ben Roethlisberger on Saturday night after the team came to a decision about their plan for Sunday and asked if he could stand at the front of the team so he could see what was happening on the field. He said he walked to a point where he could see the flag on the field, but wound up too far in front of his teammates and didn’t want to walk back to the team during the song.
Villanueva said he did not want to give the impression that the team was not unified and said several times that it was “my fault only” that things didn’t go off as planned.
“Unfortunately I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally,” Villanueva said in a video from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Jerseys and shirts with Villanueva’s number have been selling well since the anthem on Sunday and many have attributed that to where he was standing during the anthem. Villanueva said that impression is “completely wrong” and that he feels embarrassed every time he sees a picture of him standing by himself.
Villanueva spoke passionately about his service during his 15 minutes with the media and said that he does not believe that players who choose not to stand disrespect that service, adding that he’s heard thanks for it from players who have knelt and that he’d be OK with teammates who chose to kneel even though he’d never do it himself.
“We as a team tried to figure it out, obviously we butchered it, but I have learned that … I can’t tell you that I know what my teammates have gone through,” Villanueva said. “I’m not gonna pretend like I have the righteous kind of voice that you should stand up for the national anthem.”
The advent of weekly games on Thursday night has led to the existence of the Monday practice report for teams that will be playing a few days later.
Most teams in that position don’t actually practice on Monday because they played a game on Sunday, which means the participation levels listed on the report are an estimation of what players would have done in an actual practice. The Packers’ estimation of their own imaginary practice brought some good news for several players who didn’t take part in Sunday’s overtime win over the Bengals.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring), wide receiver Randall Cobb (chest), defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hip), safety Kentrell Brice (groin), linebacker Nick Perry (hand) and linebacker Jake Ryan (hamstring, concussion) all sat out the game after missing practice all of last week, but they were listed as limited participants on Monday’s report. Defensive tackle Quinton Dial (chest) and running back Ty Montgomery (wrist) were in the same category.
Getting Bakhtiari back would help an offensive line that struggled in pass protection on Sunday, but right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) and backup Kyle Murphy (foot), who has started in place of both Bakhtiari and Bulaga this year, were listed as not participating. Cornerback Davon House (quadricep) was listed along with them after not playing on Sunday.
The Packers will face the Bears, who won’t have safety Quintin Demps after he broke his forearm against the Steelers. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (chest) was listed as a non-participant after missing Sunday’s game while center Hroniss Grasu (hand) and guard Josh Sitton (ribs) were listed as limited.
Both teams will hold actual practices on Tuesday.
The Ravens defense will have to bounce back from their 44-7 loss to the Jaguars without the help of defensive end Brent Urban.
Urban left Sunday’s game in London with a foot injury and coach John Harbaugh gave a negative update on his condition Monday. Harbaugh said that Urban suffered a Lisfranc injury and characterized his absence as a long-term one.
Based on that, it seems likely that Urban will go on injured reserve. He will join 15 other players on that list, including recent additions like running back Danny Woodhead and guard Marshal Yanda.
Urban, who joined the Ravens as a 2014 fourth-round pick, started all three games for the Ravens this year. He had four tackles in those appearances and has 25 tackles and three sacks over the course of his career. It’s the third serious injury in four years for Urban after he tore his ACL before his rookie season started and tore his biceps the next year.
Before Sunday’s game against the Texans, many players on the Patriots took a knee during the playing of the national anthem which led to a question for Patriots coach Bill Belichick about his reaction to how the team handled the issue this weekend.
Belichick responded by saying that he was only going to talk about the game, but would “deal with that later.” On Monday, Belichick released a statement that didn’t mention the anthem, protests or President Trump, but showed support for the way his players conduct and represent themselves.
“I have immense respect and admiration for our players, for how they conduct themselves professionally as New England Patriots and for how they represent themselves, their families and community as men. I have coached football for over four decades and one of the greatest things about being in this environment is the diversity of people, backgrounds, viewpoints and relationships we are fortunate to experience. As with any large group of people, there is a variety of perspectives and opinions on many topics. Discussions occur between myself, individual players, groups and the entire team on an ongoing basis. They concern the team and other issues surrounding the team. I am going to keep the specifics of those conversations private. I will do what I feel is best for the team in my role as head coach and collectively, we will work together to find the best way to proceed.”
If the past is any guide, one of the ways Belichick will proceed is by keeping his public commentary on football matters now that he’s released this statement.
After defensive end Tank Carradine went down with a high ankle sprain in last Thursday’s loss to the Rams, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said that the team had to decide whether or not to put him on injured reserve.
They made the call on Monday and announced that Carradine has indeed been placed on injured reserve. He’ll be eligible to be designated for return after spending six weeks on the list.
Carradine started two of the 49ers’ first three games and has seven tackles and a sack on the year. First-round pick Solomon Thomas, Aaron Lynch and Elvis Dumervil join Arik Armstead as options at defensive end with Carradine out of action.
The 49ers filled Carradine’s roster spot by signing linebacker Mark Nzeocha off the Cowboys practice squad. Nzeocha was a seventh-round pick in 2015 and had four tackles in seven games for Dallas over the last two seasons.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held a briefing on Monday afternoon and much of her time was spent fielding questions about President Trump’s comments about players who kneel during the playing of the national anthem.
Huckabee Sanders repeatedly said that the President’s comments, including calling players who kneel sons of bitches, have been misconstrued as being against something when all he was doing was showing that he’s “for respect in our country.” She was asked if the President went to far in calling players who kneel sons of bitches who should be fired and said that it is “always appropriate” for the President to defend the American flag.
She also rejected any notion that race plays a factor in the President’s focus on this issue despite Colin Kaepernick and other players saying they took a knee to protest police brutality toward minorities and other racial inequalities. Huckabee Sanders added that the White House believes the focus has shifted, which led to a question about why the President takes white supremacists who “say that their protest is about heritage, not hate” at their word and not the players.
“I think if the debate is really, for them, about police brutality I think they should probably protest the officers on the field protecting them instead of the American flag,” Huckabee Sanders said.
In a follow-up, Huckabee Sanders said she was not advocating protesting police officers but was “pointing out the hypocrisy” of the players.
The Falcons won’t release their first injury report of the week until Wednesday, but we know one player who will be listed on it.
Coach Dan Quinn said on Monday that wide receiver Julio Jones will be limited in practice this week after hurting his lower back during Sunday’s victory over the Lions. Quinn also said that he’s not worried about having Jones on the field against the Bills in Week Four, although injuries can take a turn for the worse so his status could change over the course of the week.
Jones caught seven passes for 91 yards in the 30-26 victory and now has 16 catches for 265 yards on the season. He’s still looking for his first touchdown of the year, although those numbers have done a lot to help the team to a 3-0 record without getting in the end zone.
Quinn said that safety Ricardo Allen is in the concussion protocol along with right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who did not play against the Lions. Quinn is hopeful that Schraeder will be able to return this week.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham showed how productive he can be on the field during Sunday’s game against the Eagles when he caught two touchdowns in less than two minutes to tie the game at 14 in the fourth quarter.
He followed the first of those touchdowns by dropping to all fours and mimicking a dog urinating on the field, which led to a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. He followed the second by raising a fist in what he suggested was a reference to the widespread protests around the league.
That didn’t draw a flag, but Beckham wasn’t apologetic about the one he did get. He said after the game that he was trying to “spark the team, and the consequences are going to be what they are.” On Monday, coach Ben McAdoo was asked about Beckham’s celebrations and the penalty but made it clear he had no interest in the topic.
“We should be talking about how he played,” McAdoo said, via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. “He made some great plays yesterday, some tremendous plays. I’d rather be talking about that than the celebration penalty.”
The first three-plus years of Beckham’s career have seen plenty of things worth talking about in terms of both his play and penalties for his behavior on the field. The latter didn’t hurt the team much this week, but it will be harder for McAdoo to avoid talking about it should the result be different the next time around.
The Bears got their first win of the season on Sunday, but they lost a starting safety to an injury.
Bears coach John Fox said on Monday, via the Chicago Tribune, that Quintin Demps fractured his left forearm during their overtime victory over the Steelers. There’s no word on whether Demps will go on injured reserve or not, but he’ll be out of the lineup for a while even if they don’t make that move.
Demps was injured while tackling Le'Veon Bell in the fourth quarter of the game. He signed a three-year deal with the Bears as a free agent this offseason and recorded 12 tackles in the first three games.
Adrian Amos replaced Demps in the lineup against Pittsburgh and will likely move into the starting lineup alongside rookie Eddie Jackson.
After leaving Sunday’s loss to the Vikings with an ankle injury, linebacker Lavonte David said that X-rays were negative and described the injury as a “minor” one.
He also said that he’d have an MRI on Monday and that test reportedly brought different results. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that David is expected to miss a month or more after being diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.
David’s injury came on a day when the Buccaneers were already without middle linebacker Kwon Alexander. He was ruled out for the game last Friday due to a hamstring injury, which led the Bucs to shift Kendall Beckwith inside and start Adarius Glanton.
Should Alexander miss more time, the Bucs will have to reach deeper into their depth to fill out their defense for their upcoming date with the 0-3 Giants.
The Rams had the weekend off after beating the 49ers on Thursday night, which left time for one of their players to get into some trouble with the law.
Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News reports that Westbrooks was arrested in Bakersfield, California over the weekend. Per the report, Westbrooks was pulled over by police for speeding and the officers subsequently found a gun registered to someone other than Westbrooks in the car.
Westbrooks has been released on bail and is expected to be at practice with the Rams on Monday.
Westbrooks was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence earlier this year, but the Sacramento County District Attorney chose not to file charges against him in that matter.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct during Sunday’s loss to the Eagles when he did an impression of a dog urinating in the back of the end zone.
The penalty forced the Giants to kick off from their own 20-yard-line, which didn’t wind up hurting them all that much because Eagles tight end Zach Ertz lost a fumble on the next play. It was the second straight week that a Giants player was penalized for their celebration as tight end Evan Engram got flagged for grabbing his crotch after scoring in the Week Two loss to the Lions.
During a Monday appearance on PFT Live, Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh acknowledged that those penalties “put the team in a bad spot” and that players need to be aware of the “fine line” that exists despite the league’s relaxed rules for celebrations. Pugh also said Beckham “obviously knows he doesn’t want to put us in a bad position,” although Beckham’s own comments suggest that’s not first on his mind.
“We needed to make a play,” Beckham said, via NJ.com. “We’re down 14-0? We needed a spark. I don’t care if it’s from the 5-yard line on our side. It didn’t end up being detrimental, which is the main thing. When I get into the end zone, I’m going to do what I do to spark the team, and the consequences are going to be what they are.”
Coach Ben McAdoo didn’t have anything to say about Beckham’s penalty after the game, but he was seen talking to an animated Beckham on the sideline after the touchdown. It’s not the first time that Beckham has gotten penalties for on-field demonstrations and the reaction to them from the team has almost always been more critical when the team loses. With the Giants 0-3, that may make for another round of discussion about Beckham’s behavior in the coming days.
Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had seven catches for 106 yards in the first two weeks of the season and the Colts lost both of those games.
The third game of the year went better for both player and team. Hilton caught seven passes for 153 yards and a touchdown in a 31-28 victory over the Browns and said that it isn’t a coincidence when a good game for him leads to a positive result.
“I’m a leader, and at the end of the day, when I speak they listen,” Hilton said, via ESPN.com. “I was just trying to make plays. For us to have success, I have to make plays. If I don’t, we struggle. I came out with the mindset that I’m going to put the team on my back and play.”
Hilton was particularly effective when the Browns blitzed Jacoby Brissett. He caught five passes for 118 yards and scored his touchdown when Cleveland sent extra pressure and Brissett got the ball in the hands of the team’s most explosive wideout. Given how well it worked out, that’s something they’ll likely look to continue doing in Seattle next week and beyond.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on Saturday morning in reaction to President Trump’s Friday night call for the league to get rid of “son of a bitch” players who don’t stand during the playing of the national anthem and his words were followed by many others from owners, players and coaches around the league.
As Sunday’s games wound down, Goodell, who called the President’s comments “divisive” and lacking respect for the league, shared his thoughts about a day filled with focus on how players comported themselves during the anthem.
“The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud,” Goodell told Peter King of TheMMQB.com. “I’m proud of our league. . . . They reflected the frustration, the disappointment, of the players over the divisive rhetoric we heard [from the President].”
King asked Goodell if he was bothered by that prospect of more of the same in weeks to come.
“No,” Goodell said. “We live in an imperfect society. A public discourse makes us strong.”
The President continued to comment on the league via Twitter over the weekend and on Monday, which suggests that the discourse may not be ending in the immediate future.
Eagles running back Darren Sproles left Sunday’s game against the Giants after getting hurt in the first half and a report on Sunday night indicated that he broke his arm.
Sproles reportedly suffered another serious injury as well. Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN report that Sproles also tore his ACL. They add that he’s scheduled to have surgery on his arm on Monday and that he will have knee surgery later.
Assuming that is confirmed, Sproles will not be playing again this season and it is fair to wonder if he will ever play again. Sproles, who turned 34 in June, said at the end of the 2016 season that he thought he would call it a career after the 2017 season. Going out on injured reserve wouldn’t be any player’s first choice, but two serious injuries and the continued passage of time won’t make it easy for Sproles to return for a 14th NFL season.
If it is the end, Sproles leaves in 8th place in NFL history in all-purpose yards and a long highlight reel of plays with the Chargers, Saints and Eagles that made him a consistently exciting player for most of the last two decades.