Jeremy Kerley on failing PED test: Maybe a ghost did it

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When there’s something strange and your PED test isn’t good, who ya gonna call? 

In the case of Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, you’re gonna call the Ghostbusters.

Kerley’s four-game suspension for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy came to an end this week and Kerley said he still doesn’t know how a banned substance got into his system. At the time of his suspension, Kerley released a statement that said he intended to “investigate this matter until I am able to figure out what caused the positive test” and pursue remedies against anything that was tainted without his knowledge.

On Wednesday, Kerley said he hasn’t found that answer and offered up a supernatural explanation.

“I don’t know,” Kerley said, via the New York Post. “There’s a lot of ghosts around here. Maybe a ghost put it in me. You know the Ghost of Christmas Past? A ghost might have put it in me. I don’t know.”

Given the long history of things going wrong for the Jets, it’s surprising no one has come up with the ghost explanation in the past.

Doug Brien’s missed field goals in Pittsburgh during the playoffs? A ghost pushed them off course. A muddy field in Miami for the AFC title game? A ghost yanked the tarp away. Mark Gastineau didn’t rough Bernie Kosar, but a ghost did. The Buttfumble?W

Well, maybe not everything can be pinned on a poltergeist.

Robert Woods on shoulder: Everything’s good and ready to go

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One of the best days of wide receiver Robert Woods‘ career came in Seattle last season when he caught 10 passes for 162 yards while playing for the Bills.

Woods plays for the Rams now and that means he’ll be back in Seattle this Sunday for a game that will go a long way toward determining who wins the NFC West this season. All indications early in the week were that Woods will be on the field after missing the last three games with a shoulder injury and Woods confirmed he’s on track on Wednesday.

“I feel like the movement, everything is there. Everything’s good and ready, so I feel like there’s no [sense of] not trusting it,” Woods said, via the team’s website. “I’ve been in practice a little bit last week, and then starting to go this week — I’m confident, very confident in it.”

Woods’ exploits couldn’t keep the Bills from losing that game in Seattle last year and the Rams lost the first meeting with the Seahawks this season, so it would be a good time for Woods to snap his personal losing streak against his new divisional rivals.

No plans for Christian Hackenberg to play “right now”

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Jets quarterback Josh McCown had surgery on his broken left hand and went on injured reserve this week, leaving Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as the two quarterbacks for the final three games of the season.

Given McCown’s absence and the lack of playoff hopes for the 5-8 Jets, it would seem like a perfect opportunity to get Hackenberg in the lineup and see what the 2016 second-round pick is capable of doing on the field. Petty is going to start in New Orleans this Sunday, though, and coach Todd Bowles said on Wednesday that there are no plans to play Hackenberg “right now.”

When asked why that’s the case, Bowles simply pointed to the depth chart that had Petty as the No. 2 all year.

“Because Bryce is our starter,” Bowles said at his press conference. “Bryce is the next man up. We have people at every position that want to play. We’re not jumping people over people just to play considering anything. Bryce is our starter.”

Bowles didn’t close the door on a change in plans in the final two games, but it doesn’t sound like there’s much urgency inside the organization to get a look at Hackenberg in game action. That doesn’t suggest high hopes for a bright future for Hackenberg with the Jets and the offseason will tell us if there’s any future at all.

Goodell: NFL has discussed changes to discipline with NFLPA since 2012

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Now that the NFL Commissioner finally has a new contract, the Commissioner can get back to the business of the NFL. And one important item of business continues to be the manner in which the NFL metes out discipline against players for off-field misconduct.

Asked by reporters on Wednesday whether the league needs to revamp its procedures for off-field discipline, Goodell didn’t answer the question (shocker). Instead, he reminded everyone, indirectly, that this is a matter for collective bargaining.

“We have discussed this with our Players’ Association,” Goodell said. “I told the ownership this earlier today. I can remember the first meeting, it was June 2012, less than a year after we completed our CBA — let’s address the way we are dealing with discipline. There are better ways to do this and we just haven’t come to an agreement on that. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of focus on that, but the reality is there are very few circumstances. They get a lot of attention, I understand that, but that is something I’m sure will come up in the context of the next CBA. We have always been willing to consider that.”

While no specific word or phrase stands out like a proverbial sore thumb in that response, the full content and context makes it clear that Goodell continues to view the process of off-field discipline as a product of the back-and-forth of union negotiations. Which means that, before the Goodell surrenders any of his current power over the process, he will want an equivalent concession from the NFLPA. Which is precisely the wrong way to handle this. (The fact that the NFL and NFLPA have been talking about this for five years underscores the reality that the NFL refuses to regard the situation as anything other than a product of the give-and-take of bargaining.)

Amid plenty of challenges to the NFL’s business, now is the time to realize that there’s a mutual benefit to changing the procedures. For years, Goodell has resisted independent review of his decisions under the conduct policy. At the same time, however, decisions of the league office made when it comes to on-field discipline are reviewed by a hearing officer who is jointly appointed and paid by the league and the union. So why not use the same procedure when it comes to off-field discipline?

Here’s why not: The league office views the entire union relationship as something the players wanted, and part of what they get when they want a union is a process that requires them to give something up to get anything they don’t currently have.

If Goodell and his top lieutenants have learned nothing else over the past five years, it’s that the current system creates a bad look for the NFL. Of course, it’s debatable that they’d even admit it’s been a bad look. Which may be the far bigger problem when it comes to the procedures of imposing discipline on players due to off-field misconduct.

Le’Veon Bell happy for another opportunity to face Patriots

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The last time the Steelers played the Patriots, running back Le'Veon Bell only had a small role in the proceedings.

Bell injured his groin after playing 11 snaps and spent the rest of the 36-17 loss in the AFC title game watching from the sideline. Bell called it a “terrible feeling” to be out of that game and that meant he’s had his eye on this week’s visit from the Patriots for a while.

“I just felt like I missed a opportunity to get to a Super Bowl,” Bell said, via ESPN.com. “When this year came around, we saw the schedules and everything, I knew had another opportunity if I was being healthy and playing the Pats again. It’s good. The opportunity is here.”

Sunday’s winner won’t be booking a ticket to Minneapolis, obviously, but a Steelers win could secure them homefield advantage in the games leading up to the Super Bowl. Having Bell the whole way would help their chances of grabbing that advantage and of beating the Patriots should this year’s AFC crown come down to the same two teams.

Thursday morning one-liners

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The Bills may avoid a repeat of last week’s blizzard.

The Dolphins offense has evolved from “garbage” to something better than garbage.

Patriots QB Tom Brady was on the practice field to stop the week.

Jets QB Bryce Petty gets his long-awaited chance to show the Jets what he can do.

Ravens WR Jeremy Maclin still trying to get on the same page with QB Joe Flacco (no rush, fellas, it’s only December).

Bengals legend Corey Dillon said his return to Cincinnati was “unbelievable.”

New Browns G.M. John Dorsey has nothing but praise for coach Hue Jackson.

Steelers CB Joe Haden said of his comeback from a broken leg: “It’s getting there.”

The Texans are getting QB Taylor Heinicke ready just in case.

Colts RB Frank Gore is running like “a man possessed.”

The Jaguars aren’t ready to talk about the playoffs yet.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota apologized to reporters after getting a scolding from his mother.

Broncos DE Zach Kerr is ready to make the most of his opportunity.

Chiefs C Mitch Morse missed another practice.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers has been playing some of his best football lately.

The Raiders are ready to turn the page after embarrassing showing against Chiefs.

Cowboys RT La'el Collins is ready to practice for the first time in two weeks.

Giants S Landon Collins said players have CB Eli Apple‘s back.

Eagles CB Sidney Jones takes first step in “long journey.”

Washington K Dustin Hopkins is back at practice and could return this year.

Bears LB Danny Trevathan warns opponents not to take them lightly.

The Lions are excited to have RB Ameer Abdullah back.

The return of Aaron Rodgers is doing wonders, for the sale of Packers-Vikings tickets.

The Vikings are running short on TEs at the moment.

The Falcons are going to need a second implosion to take down the parts of the Georgia Dome that didn’t fall the first time.

Panthers LB Shaq Thompson is day-to-day with a foot problem.

Saints QB Drew Brees could set a new league record for accuracy.

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans is keeping some perspective this season.

The Cardinals’ latest replacements on the offensive line are ready for their turn.

Rams WR Robert Woods is ready to get back in to help shoulder the load for offense.

The 49ers have broken out an old-school boombox.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll supports K Blair Walsh.

CFL commissioner has “good” talk with Johnny Manziel

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The CFL isn’t quite ready to welcome Johnny Manziel to their league, but their commissioner said he felt “good” about what he heard from Manziel himself.

Via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said he spoke to Manziel in September about a chance to play north of the border, but stopped short of saying he was prepared to clear him to play.

He represented himself incredibly well [in the meeting],” Ambrosie said. “He was thoughtful. I found him to be authentic and sincere. I also felt like he seems to have come to a good place in his life. He was talking a lot about his family. Now, I should say that’s part of the problem. My bias is towards family. So when I’m with somebody in there talking about my family, immediately I feel good about the conversation.

“That’s exactly why we feel for any player who has had some trouble in their past. It’s important to not let the laypeople be the only part of the decision-making process. That’s why we’ve implemented a process where we’ll lean very heavily on experts who have training and skill that will allow them to really understand where somebody is in their personal journey and be able to give me wise counsel.”

Ambrosie said Manziel would have to talk to investigators about his past, including the 2016 domestic violence arrest, which proved to be the last straw for the Browns with their former first-round pick. That charge was later dismissed, though he has to complete an anger management class, along with other programs.

Given his background, Ambrosie said the league wanted to make sure they’re not taking an undue risk by signing someone else’s problems. Manziel’s rights are held by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and coach June Jones certainly sounded optimistic about his chances, saying Manziel could be “the best player to ever play up here.”

But as with most things Manziel, the playing is only a small part of the consideration.

Alex Collins wears dark visor because of migraines

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The NFL won’t let players wear dark visors in their helmets just to look cool, requiring a medical reason.

Ravens running back Alex Collins said this week he got approval for his to combat a long-running issue with migraines.

“I have had this migraine problem for a while, like since high school,” Collins said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “Just throwing up before the games and having to play through it, . . . I am used to playing with them and dealing with it.”

Of course, not having the deal with that would obviously be preferable, and Collins said the visor has made a tangible difference for him.

“It’s like playing in the shade all the time,” Collins said. “What really activates the migraines is just, . . . When everyone looks at the sun, you have to put your hand over your eyes to block the sun, and you have to squint your eyebrows. For most people, that doesn’t bother them — they’re just blocking the sun. But for me, that strain is what stimulates the migraine.”

“Just from straining my eyes trying to focus on something, and playing out there at that speed, just straining and trying so hard to block out the sun is when the migraines really come in. But, when I’m able to play with a relaxed face out there, just reading my keys and doing what I need to be doing without that strain on my eyes, then the migraines don’t happen.”

Perhaps that’s why he’s looking more relaxed on the field too. After getting cut by the Seahawks this preseason, he has found both a home and a starting job with the Ravens, leading them in rushing this season. He had 120 rushing yards last week against the Steelers, and has 491 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns in his last five games.

Robert Griffin III says he turned down offers from the Cardinals and Ravens

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Robert Griffin III hasn’t found a new NFL home since the Browns cut him in the offseason, but he says he could have played for the Cardinals and Ravens.

“I had an offer from Arizona, and also from Baltimore,” Griffin said on ESPN’s SC6.

So why did he turn down those offers? Griffin said the Cardinals had too many quarterbacks on the roster and he didn’t think he would get any practice time as a fourth-stringer. And he said Baltimore made him an offer right before its preseason opener against his original team, Washington, and wanted him to start in that game. Griffin said he didn’t think he would have adequate time to prepare in the Ravens’ offense, so he turned it down.

Griffin understood that he might have been turning down his only offers.

“I had interest in the offseason,” Griffin said. “It just wasn’t the right fit and I had to make that decision for myself to say, ‘Look, if I don’t accept this offer, there’s a chance I won’t play football this year.’ And I would talk to my family, and I was OK with that, OK with the fact that it might happen.”

Griffin did say, however, that he would love to sign with a team right now and hopes a playoff contender that needs a quarterback will consider him.

“I love football. I miss the game,” Griffin said. “I am ready. So I haven’t given up on 2017 yet. There are some teams that need help and may need help going into the playoffs.”

But it’s hard to understand why a team that needs help in the playoffs would call Griffin now, if he was telling the Ravens four months ago that he needs adequate practice time to be ready for a preseason game. If Griffin wanted to play in the NFL in 2017, his best bet was to accept one of those offers in the offseason and prove himself in training camp. And his best bet going forward will be not to turn down any offers in 2018.

Jaguars’ Paul Posluszny on a winning team for first time in 11 seasons

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With Sunday’s 30-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the Jacksonville Jaguars guaranteed linebacker Paul Posluszny his first winning season in 11 years in the NFL.

A second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2007, Posluszny had never even been a part of a .500 team in his first 10 years in the NFL. The Bills went 7-9 in each of his first two seasons with Buffalo before sliding to 6-10 and 4-12. The Jaguars had not won more than five games in any of Posluszny’s first six seasons with the franchise. The win over Seattle on Sunday moved Jacksonville to 9-4 and secured a winning season for Posluszny for the first time in his career.

When I got here in 2011, I thought we were going to the playoffs because David Garrard was going to be our quarterback and we were going to have a great defense. And it just didn’t unfold the way you thought,” Posluszny said, via Mark Long of the Associated Press.

“To be at the bottom and to finally fight our way, work our way and get back up, just to be in the position that we’re at now, it’s great and it shows you that we’ve finally started to earn the right to win. Now we want more.”

A Pro Bowl selection in 2013, Posluszny has appeared in 142 career games in his 11 seasons with Buffalo an Jacksonville. He’s racked up 16 sacks, 15 interceptions, eight forced fumbles and 1,199 total tackles.

Seahawks’ Quinton Jefferson says incident with Jacksonville fans was “unfortunate”

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Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson was pleased to hear no one would be suspended for the ugly actions at the end of Sunday’s game in Jacksonville. However, that didn’t stop him from calling his confrontation with fans “unfortunate” after having debris thrown at him from stands after he was ejected in the final minute of the game.

“It’s unfortunate,” Jefferson said Wednesday. “Wish it didn’t get that far, wish it didn’t happen but once it happened we’ve got to learn from it and ultimately we’ve got to move on from it.”

Jefferson was leaving the field of play after being ejected when some sort of trash flew over his head from the stands. He stopped in his tracks, returned to the front of the stands and began shouting at fans. When more debris came flying his direction and narrowly missed his head, Jefferson snapped and attempted to climb into the stands before team equipment manager Erik Kennedy managed to pull him back from the railing and helped lead him from the field.

“He feels terrible about it,” head coach Pete Carroll said of Jefferson on Monday. “It’s not the kind of kid he is. He just emotionally got overrun and he lost it. Fortunately, people restrained him and all that. It’s a tremendous learning opportunity for him and any other young guys.”

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed tweeted after the game that Jefferson had racial slurs shouted at him from the stands as well. Jefferson said he wasn’t sure of that but took offense to something else he did hear.

“I honestly don’t know,” Jefferson said when asked about the alleged slur. “There was a lot of people saying a lot of stuff so I really didn’t tune into anything in particular. There was really only one thing I tuned into in particular. Somebody said they was going to have sex with my mother. That’s the only thing I really can really remember.

“There was so much yelling and stuff I couldn’t make out anything what people were saying except for that one thing. That stuck. I heard that.”

Jefferson said he’s since watched replays of the whole affair.

“It was a little hard,” he said. “It was a little worse because I’ve got kids. My kids seen it. My wife seen it. She was upset about it and everything. I felt even more for them because they had to watch that stuff.”

Lions add defensive tackle Rodney Coe off waivers

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The Detroit Lions claimed defensive tackle Rodney Coe off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday.

Coe spent the last two games on Seattle’s 53-man roster before being waived by the team on Tuesday. He was active for last week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars but played just two snaps.

Coe was with Seattle during the offseason and flashed at times during training camp. He was released during the team’s final cuts and returned to the team’s practice squad in the middle of the season.

He recorded seven tackles in four preseason games for the Seahawks this year.

Coe has also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016.

Detroit waived defensive end Kasim Edebali to clear a roster spot for Coe.

Seahawks’ Malik McDowell shouts profanities at officers in TMZ video of arrest

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Police footage has now surfaced of Seahawks defensive tackle Malik McDowell being arrested in Atlanta in the early morning hours on Sunday.

Via TMZ.com, McDowell is seen being handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle by a pair of officers. McDowell repeatedly asks what he’s being arrested for and is told “disorderly conduct” and “using fighting words” by the officers.

McDowell repeatedly lobs expletives at the officials and flaunts how much money he has while being detained by the officials outside of SL Lounge in Atlanta.

Police responded to a verbal altercation that involved McDowell shouting that he had $600 stolen from him. McDowell was initially allowed back inside the club with a friend, but was kicked out again after allegedly emptying bottles of liquor on the floor.

McDowell released a statement apologizing for his actions on Monday, saying he was “embarrassed” by the incident. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said he had spoken with McDowell about the incident as well.

“I did see him and he met with John [Schneider] also,” Carroll said on Monday. “He is very remorseful. He got in a situation and made a mistake, and hopefully this will be a learning experience for him. I don’t know more than that about it. We just talked about it a bit, but I know he felt really bad representing in that manner.

“I think we’re definitely going work to help him in every way that we can. We’ve already talked about that. And let’s hope that this isn’t an indicator of things to come. I hope that he has turned with this experience. He sounds very much intending to do that and we’ll see what happens.

McDowell won’t play this season for Seattle. An ATV accident in mid-July left McDowell with a severe concussion and additional injuries that has kept him from practicing or playing. He was the team’s top draft pick in May being selected with the 35th overall pick in the second round.

Texans haven’t ruled out Tom Savage for Christmas Day game

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Tom Savage won’t play this week, but the Texans haven’t ruled him out for their Christmas Day game against the Steelers. Coach Bill O’Brien said the quarterback continues to improve after his scary concussion. Savage’s arms and hands twitched as he lay on the ground following a hit by 49ers linebacker Elvis Dumervil.

“I talked to him a few times, a couple times,” O’Brien said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “Seems like he’s doing well. He’s in the protocol and he’s just kind of going through that right now.”

T.J. Yates will start against the Jaguars, and the Texans are expected to promote Taylor Heinicke from the practice squad as the backup.

“Taylor Heinicke will be the backup, more than likely,” O’Brien said. “We haven’t made that roster move yet but that’s the way we’re leaning right now.”

John Mara admits that “mistakes” have been made in concussion protocol

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John Mara, co-owner of the Giants. And master of the obvious.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday at an ownership meeting in Dallas, Mara addressed the league’s ongoing difficulties regarding proper application of the concussion protocol.

“Whenever you’re dealing with human beings there’s going to be mistakes made,” Mara said, via NFL.com, as to recent glitches with the removal of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Texans quarterback Tom Savage from play for concussion evaluations. “And there were mistakes made there. They haven’t completed their investigation yet. But in almost every case with the concussion protocol, we get it right. But those we get wrong end up being highly publicized and that’s what ended up here.”

Sorry, John. Getting it right in “almost every case” isn’t good enough when it comes to head injuries. It’s also not good enough when no one in the stadium apparently notices what everyone at home has seen.

Letting Russell Wilson skirt past trainers and doctors and re-enter a game without a concussion protocol isn’t a mistake. It’s negligence. Letting Tom Savage stay in a game after his hands shook like a person suffering from the early stages of a seizure isn’t a mistake. It’s recklessness.

Calling these failures a “mistake” is a stone’s throw from shrugging and saying, “Sh-t happens.”

Of course, that’s essentially what the league did in response to past “mistakes” regarding the protocol, whether arising from the failure to remove Panthers quarterback Cam Newton from play against the Broncos in the first game of 2016 or the failure to remove then-Rams quarterback Case Keenum from play against the Ravens in 2015 or the failure to remove Patriots receiver Julian Edelman from Super Bowl XLIX or the Jahleel Addae/Chris Conte incidents from 2014 or any and every other instance that triggered no real discipline of any kind toward those responsible for protecting players who may have suffered head injuries from another head injury, the consequences of which can be devastating.

These weren’t “mistakes.” These were the failure of the officials, trainers, doctors, ATC spotters, and coaches to discharge their obligations to protect the health and welfare of players. And if no one is ever going to be punished for it, it’s never going to change.

Meanwhile, we wait to see what the punishment will be for the failure to keep Wilson in the blue medical tent or the failure to send video of Savage’s troubling physical manifestation of head trauma to the Texans sideline. Here’s a safe prediction: The league will characterize the facts of each case as unique and unprecedented, explaining that none of the people responsible for properly implementing the protocol could have been expected to do anything differently.

In other words, “Sh-t happens.”

Literally.