Trent Williams says his marijuana use was for pain management

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Marijuana isn’t the boogeyman it used to be in society, and the NFL is slowly moving toward the point of admitting they need to research it more.

And stories like Washington tackle Trent Williams‘ should be part of the conversation.

In a long profile by Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post, Williams admits that his four-game suspension for failing marijuana tests came from an effort at pain management rather than recreation.

He said he elected marijuana over the approved pain medications in the past because they had always given him an upset stomach.

“A lot of times, it’s just for that simple reason in itself,” Williams said. “Getting a concussion, dealing with headaches, whatever. Not saying that it was right, obviously I shouldn’t have done it and obviously should’ve chose a different method. But at that time, you’re caught up in the midst of the season and all you want to do is be available. It wasn’t the right decision, but if you’re looking for a reason, it’s just to try and feel better for the next week.”

When Williams was suspended again last year, he said it was for a missed test, and he said he is not using marijuana now. Another failed test would result in a 10-game suspension.

“When you’re staring down a barrel of a gun, you ain’t gonna squeeze the trigger on yourself,” Williams said. “Knowing that that’s what they’re looking for, knowing that they don’t mind ruining someone’s career over something that, I don’t really need no type of intervention or rehab to say, ‘All right, enough’s enough.’ Nah, we ain’t gonna give them no more reasons, so that’s pretty much it. Cold turkey.”

Williams isn’t necessarily advocating here, as a number of players and former players have. But his matter-of-fact admission also points to the need for further research, as pain management is such a huge part of the NFL experience, and doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer.

Todd Gurley happy to be making highlight reels again

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During his rookie season, Rams running back Todd Gurley made a lot of highlight reels while running for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games but he wasn’t featured too prominently in those packages last year.

Gurley slumped to 885 yards on 3.2 yards per carry in the Rams’ first season in Los Angeles, which left some uncertainty about what to expect in Year Three. It’s been a mixed bag through two games as Gurley has fumbled three times and averaged 3.7 yards per carry while also scoring three touchdowns and making it back on the highlight reel.

That came last Sunday when Gurley caught a pass from Jared Goff, hurdled a Washington defender and then scampered into the end zone. Gurley wasn’t happy with the outcome of the game, a 27-20 Redskins win, but likes being recognized for positive contributions.

“Oh yeah, it’s cool,” Gurley said. “It was just like, ‘Aw, you suck!’, you know they show that play a 1,000 times. So when you finally do a good play like I did the other day, it makes you feel a lot better. I don’t know how I did it, I just did it. Hopefully, I can just keep doing that or obviously they’re probably going to be expecting that now so, guess I got to come out with a new move now.”

Gurley’s found success as a receiver beyond that touchdown and has eight catches for 104 yards so far this year, something that has helped the Rams offense take a clear step forward from last year. If that can continue on Thursday, the Rams’ chances of beating the 49ers and Gurley’s chances of remaining in highlights for the right reasons will look a lot better.

Chris Harris: Playing without T.J. Ward is still hard

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The Broncos’ defense has played well after cutting safety T.J. Ward just before the start of the season, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t missed him.

Broncos cornerback Chris Harris said on PFT Live that playing without Ward has been difficult.

“It’s still hard,” Harris said. “Not being able to take the field, he just brought a Tasmanian Devil’s mentality to our defense, high energy, great leadership. He’s definitely missed, man. I wish he could still be here.”

Harris said the Broncos’ secondary hasn’t always been on the same page without Ward’s veteran leadership.

“We’re still working. There are still some communication areas that we’re having. We haven’t build that chemistry,” he said.

Ward is now in Tampa Bay, where he hasn’t been fully integrated into the defense yet, playing less than half the snaps in the Buccaneers’ first game on Sunday.

Santana Moss: RG3’s issues with coaches are why he’s not playing anymore

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Santana Moss says he’s just trying to level with Robert Griffin III.

After a war of words erupted between Moss and Griffin, Moss went on CSN Mid Atlantic and said that Griffin needs to understand that his inability to work with coaches Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden is the reason he’s no longer in the NFL.

“This guy, I think, can still play this game. He might not be a starter, but he still should be able to play. But when you have those situations that occur with coaches,” Moss said.

Griffin, for his part, claims that his problem with Mike Shanahan was that Shanahan never wanted him to quarterback his team in the first place. Now there are 32 coaches who don’t want Griffin to quarterback their team, and so Griffin is out of football at age 27.

Belichick’s Patriots have lost five times to rookie quarterbacks

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Yes, the Patriots have defeated rookie quarterbacks fifteen times under coach Bill Belichick. But, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, they’ve also lost to rookie signal-callers five times.

While 15-5 is an impressive win-loss mark, the notion that Belichick has lost five times to still-wet-behind-the-ears quarterbacks is a little stunning. Making it even more stunning is that the list of rookies who have found a way to beat Belichick and the Patriots includes the likes of Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, and Colt McCoy (yes, the Browns once actually beat the Patriots). The others are Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson.

As Reiss notes, the rookies who have won against the Patriots and Belichick enjoyed both great defenses and stout rushing attacks, which this week’s opponent, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, definitely has. What Watson doesn’t have is home-field advantage. Rookie quarterbacks are 0-8 against Belichick’s Patriots at New England.

Eagles secondary short on healthy bodies

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The Eagles played without cornerback Ronald Darby in last Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs and they appear to be on track to adding to the list of injured defensive backs on the inactive list for this Sunday’s game against the Giants.

Safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Jaylen Watkins, who replaced Darby in the starting lineup, both left the loss to the Chiefs with hamstring injuries. Zach Berman of Philly.com reports that both players could miss multiple games as a result of the injuries, which would leave the Eagles down three in the secondary for their matchup with their NFC East rivals.

Corey Graham stepped in at safety and rookie Rasul Douglas is the next man up at cornerback.

“We have confidence in both of those guys,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “I’m not going to get up and give you the pluses and minuses of every player. … But it was the first experience for Rasul. It was not the first experience for Corey. Corey has been around the block. Rasul stepped in, and I thought he did a good job. He tackled well and made no mental mistakes. That’s a tough duty against what they do offensively from read option, reverses to shovel passes to jet sweeps to all the different stuff, and it’s a lot of moving parts. I was proud of him for that part of it.”

A hobbled secondary would seem to be just the thing the Giants need for an offense that’s been awful to get back on track, although it won’t much matter who is in the secondary if the Giants can’t block a pass rush that’s picked up eight sacks in the first two games.

Jim Caldwell on contract: If we win, everything takes care of itself

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In March, Lions coach Jim Caldwell was asked about his lack of a contract beyond the 2017 season and he said he wasn’t worried about it.

Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden did some worrying about it for him during ESPN’s broadcast of Detroit’s win over the Giants on Monday night, pointing out that it’s unusual for a coach who has taken his team to the playoffs twice in the last three years to be in that position. On Tuesday, Caldwell said he heard about the comments but that his position on his contract hasn’t changed over the last six months.

“I heard a little buzz about it, but it’s not important,” Caldwell said, via the Detroit News. “Just like I’ve said before, I’ll say it a thousand times, I’ve told you guys I’ll answer it the same way now and you ask me eight weeks down the road, I’m only concerned about a couple things — It’s my men and my mission. And our mission is to win. Everything else will take care of itself. And they aren’t worried about anything else other than that. So, that’s our focus.”

If you’re looking for reasons why the coach has not gotten an extension, not being hired by General Manager Bob Quinn and failing to win a game in either playoff appearance come to mind. Despite those things, it’s hard to disagree with Caldwell’s assessment that all will work out if the team’s 2-0 start is a harbinger of how the year will play out.

The Bucs have a strange weakness: Case Keenum

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If Sam Bradford remains fine, but not the kind of fine that can actually play in football games, the Vikings may still be fine.

In part, because backup quarterback Case Keenum kind of owns the Buccaneers.

Via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Keenum could become the first quarterback to beat Jameis Winston three times (division rivals Cam Newton and Drew Brees are stuck at two each).

Keenum’s beaten them twice with the Rams, and has played well in those two games. In 2015, he posted a 158.0 passer rating, completing 14-of-17 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, he only completed 14-of-26 for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. It should be noted that he did these things as a Ram.

In those two wins, he has shown the ability to go long, with three touchdown passes of 43 yards or longer.

Yes, that Case Keenum, owner of the 9-18 career record as a starter. If he changes teams again, he should strongly consider joining an NFC South team.

Wednesday morning one-liners

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The Patriots have the worst defense in the NFL, according to the stats at Football Outsiders.

Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi had 122 yards in the opener, giving him the best yards per game average of any running back in the NFL.

Bills RB LeSean McCoy has reeled off three runs of 20 yards or longer, tied for most in the league.

Jermaine Kearse is leading the Jets with 11 catches for 123 yards.

The Ravens have the best defense in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders.

Browns QB DeShone Kizer has been sacked an NFL-high nine times.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton ranks last in the NFL in ESPN’s QBR, and last in the NFL according to Football Outsiders.

Steelers WR Antonio Brown leads the NFL in receiving yards.

Colts P Rigoberto Sanchez has put five punts out of bounds, most in the NFL.

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles‘ passer rating of 72.4 is even worse than last year.

Texans QB Deshaun Watson is the No. 2 quarterback in the NFL according to ESPN’s QBR. That’s based almost entirely on one play, his 49-yard touchdown run.

Titans RB Derrick Henry is the No. 1 running back in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders.

Broncos QB Trevor Siemian is tied for the league lead with six touchdown passes.

Chiefs QB Alex Smith has the highest passer rating in the NFL when taking snaps from the shotgun.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is averaging just 2.5 yards a carry.

Raiders QB Derek Carr is the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL through two weeks, according to Football Outsiders.

Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence is tied for the league lead with four sacks.

Eagles TE Zach Ertz is tied for the league lead with 11 receiving first downs.

Washington RB Chris Thompson’s 61-yard touchdown was the longest touchdown run in the NFL so far this season.

Giants starting RB Paul Perkins is averaging just 1.9 yards a carry.

Lions K Matt Prater has made a 58-yard field goal and a 56-yard field goal, the two longest field goals in the NFL this season.

After averaging 5.2 yards a carry as a rookie, Bears RB Jordan Howard is averaging 2.7 yards a carry this year.

Vikings QB Sam Bradford leads the league in passer rating.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has thrown 92 passes, most in the NFL.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan‘s 88-yard completion is the longest in the NFL this year.

Saints QB Drew Brees has thrown 82 passes, the most of any quarterback who hasn’t yet thrown an interception.

The Panthers’ defense has allowed just three points in each of their first two games.

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans had seven catches for 93 yards in the opener, more than twice as much production as any other Bucs receiver.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer has thrown four interceptions, tied for the most in the NFL.

Rams RB Todd Gurley has an NFL-high three fumbles.

49ers QB Brian Hoyer has zero touchdowns and two interceptions this season after having six touchdowns and zero interceptions with the Bears last season.

Seahawks P Jon Ryan has seven punts inside the 20-yard line, with no touchbacks.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo considering giving up play-calling duties

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Ben McAdoo was hired because he was supposedly good at offense. The Giants have not been good at offense.

So the second-year head coach is considering making “drastic” changes this week, which could include him giving up play-calling responsibilities.

Monday’s loss to the Lions was the eighth straight game in which the Giants have scored fewer than 20 points.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. That’s insanity. It’s not working,” McAdoo said, via James Kratch of NJ.com. “So we’re going to look to make some changes this week, like we did last week, maybe a little bit more drastic this week, to use your word.

“If that means me giving up play calling duties, that’s something that [the offensive staff will] look at, that we’ll talk about.”

If he was to make a change, play-calling would likely go to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

But that might not be the only shuffle. When asked about personnel changes, McAdoo said: “Jobs are won in this league. They’re not given away. Someone has to win a job, or take a job, to get a job.”

So far, the Giants seem to lack qualified candidates, for many of those roles. They’re currently 28th in the league in total offense, behind the Bengals, but just ahead of juggernauts such as the Colts, Jets, Texans, and 49ers.

Joe Thomas on Zeke Elliott: “You have to learn how to lose”

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Much has been said by many about Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s lack of hustle following the Chris Harris Jr. interception on Sunday, from wagging fingers to making excuses to many things in between. Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, appearing on PFT Live, had the best (and perhaps only) explanation regarding the reasons for Elliott’s lack of hustle: Elliott hasn’t learned how to play when his team isn’t playing well.

“[T]he problem when you’re a young player and some people will take this the wrong way but you have to learn how to lose,” Thomas said. “Because in college a lot of times these guys come from programs where they didn’t lose a lot, and so as soon as things are going poorly it’s easy for those guys to just throw in the towel, and I think we saw that with Ezekiel. Obviously they had a tremendous season last year. He came from an organization in college at Ohio State that hardly ever lost, and if you find yourself in a situation where you’re losing sometimes those guys don’t know how to handle it and they don’t understand you have to play at the highest level and give everything you have on every single play no matter what the scoreboard says because that’s your job and that’s what you owe to your teammates.

“I think for young players it’s difficult sometimes because they just don’t know how to handle it and it takes sometimes, you know, public shaming like Ezekiel’s getting right now to learn that just because you’re losing a game doesn’t mean it’s time to go quit because you’re quitting on your teammates and you’re quitting on the game. In the NFL, that’s not acceptable and that’s not how you play and hopefully he’ll learn from that situation.”

Joe is absolutely right. For Elliott, losses have been rare. Decisive losses have been even more rare. In an age of Madden “rage quits,” where it’s easy to pull the plug on a lost cause and start over, Elliott assumed the demeanor of a kid who threw his controller down and stormed off to the kitchen for another juice box. Part of the maturation process for Elliott and any teammates who have may slid into that same mindset is to understand that they owe it to the game to keep trying until the game is over.

Even if they already want the game to be over.

Saints cornerback Sterling Moore suffers pectoral injury

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This is exactly what the Saints don’t need, an injury to a member of the league’s worst defense.

According to Josh Katzenstein of the of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Saints cornerback Sterling Moore suffered a pectoral injury during Sunday’s loss to the Patriots.

He’s in the process of getting additional opinions on the injury now, so they don’t know whether he’ll be available against the Panthers this week.

The Saints are already without cornerback Delvin Breaux, who could return from IR once his broken fibula heals. And first-round pick Marshon Lattimore left Sunday’s game after being diagnosed with a concussion, so he may not be cleared to play this week.

That leagues P.J. WilliamsDe'Vante Harris and Ken Crawley, and if you’ve never heard of those guys, it might explain why the Saints are giving up over 500 yards per game.

Seahawks’ Paul Richardson caught game-winning TD after dislocating finger

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Wide receiver Paul Richardson caught the game-winning touchdown pass for the Seattle Seahawks in their 12-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Richardson managed to do so despite dislocating his finger on the eighth play of the game.

A pass from Russell Wilson short-hopped Richardson and caught him in his ring finger on his right hand. The ball dislocated his finger and broke through the skin. He had to leave the game to have his finger set and his wound stitched up before he could return the game. His injured finger was then taped to his pinky finger to provide stability, limiting the effectiveness of both fingers for the rest of the game.

“It was definitely very tough,” Richardson said of trying to catch after the injury. “Playing with eight fingers is no joke. You got to do what you’re got to do. Duty calls.”

Richardson ultimately played 39 of 82 snaps in the game despite the injury. He caught two passes for 19 yards, including the 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. With Seattle trailing 9-6 with just over seven minutes remaining, Richardson sprung free along the sideline as Wilson scrambled away from pressure. Richardson made the grab before being hit by 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson.

“It’s pretty sore today,” head coach Pete Carroll said on Monday. “He gutted it out in the ball game and we think by the end of the week he should be in good shape, ready to go.”

Terrelle Pryor asks Cody Davis not to hit him in the knees

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With just under seven minutes remaining in Sunday’s victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor caught a 9-yard pass from Kirk Cousins that was negated by a holding penalty against left tackle Trent Williams. Pryor was hit just after catching the ball and tackled by Rams safety Cody Davis.

While the play appears rather unspectacular to the passing glance, Pryor was at least concerned about the play enough to send a message via Twitter to Davis on Tuesday.

While making sure to note he didn’t view the play as “dirty,” Pryor asked for Davis to try not and hit a player so close to the knees next time. Davis appears to make contact with his shoulder just above Pryor’s knee.

The hit was not malicious and didn’t appear to be illegal in any way, as Pryor seemed to note in his tweet. It’s also not surprising that he would like to not be hit that close to knees.

The “strike zone” of where defenders can hit receivers in the act of catching the ball continues to shrink. As the ability to hit a player high has been eliminated, defenders instead are going lower at a far greater clip. It’s the unfortunate byproduct of the changing NFL rules through the years.

Broncos’ Brandon Marshall chides fans on Twitter confusing him for Giants’ Brandon Marshall

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While New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall was catching just one pass for 17 yards and dropping a critical throw in Monday night’s loss to the Detroit Lions, fans began tweeting their complaints and grievances at Brandon Marshall.

Only the Brandon Marshall they were tweeting was, in some cases, not the Brandon Marshall they intended to direct their ire toward. Instead of the Marshall that plays for the Giants, the tweets were being directed at Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.

Marshall – the one in Denver – couldn’t help but have some fun at their expense.

As Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com details, Marshall tweeted replies at various users who were criticizing the Giants’ Marshall for the drop.

“How are you tweeting and dropping passes at the same time?!” one user asked to have Marshall reply “Cuz I can do Bof.”

He also replied “Meet in the parking lot after the game chump!” and “Come say that to my face!” to other accounts blasting the other Marshall for his performance against the Lions.

Marshall said it’s a routine occurrence and that he can’t reply to everyone making the error. At least he was able to have some fun with the case of mistaken identity.