Geragos has “reason to believe” a collusion “smoking gun” exists

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Lawyer Mark Geragos, who has been hired to represent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, hasn’t said much publicly about the collusion grievance filed last Sunday on Kaepernick’s behalf against the NFL. In the latest episode of the Reasonable Doubt podcast (with his c0-host Adam Carolla), Geragos said plenty.

“What you need is the email from . . .  Goodell to the owners, you need that smoking gun of the ‘don’t hire this guy,'” Carolla said in the episode that debuted Saturday.

“We have very good reason to believe that that exists,” Geragos replied.

Geragos went on to say that the smoking gun can come in the form of a piece of paper or an answer provided while testifying. Geragos also echoed a point made here recently regarding the potential value of digital evidence.

“The interesting thing will be when the discovery comes, and I expect the discovery to be very quickly,” Geragos said regarding the procedures for obtaining evidence before a formal hearing occurs. “You know, you can’t erase stuff anymore like you used to be able to; texts, emails, things of that nature.”

Geragos also explained that he opted to proceed with a grievance under the NFL’s labor deal because the rules allow things to unfold faster than they would in court.

“I want to move this as quickly as possible,” Geragos said, because Kaepernick “wants to play.”

Geragos also dropped a clear hint that the collusion grievance could go away quickly if Kaepernick gets a chance to play. Of course, the NFL has a reputation for stubbornness, especially in legal matters. If anything, the collusion grievance could cause the league to dig in even more.

Then again, if the NFL hires smart lawyers who quickly gather and properly understand the information that Geragos eventually will see from cell phones and email accounts, a strong recommendation could be made to find a way to get Kaepernick back to work.

“Sometimes I just want to tear what little hair I have on the head out when I see legal commentators say, ‘Oh, this is this uphill battle, it’s that uphill battle,'” Geragos said. “Guys, the conspiracy statute in federal court is much tougher than the collusion standard in the [NFL’s] CBA. . . . And every day federal prosecutors are able to prove conspiracy. So I do not think it’s as uphill as battle as people make it out to be, in fact I think it’s fairly obvious at this point that there has been collusion. But I don’t need to sit here and litigate it so much as let’s see what happens on Sunday in the quarterback situation and whether somebody signs him. I still have a pretty good feeling somebody’s gonna sign him.”

Most don’t have that feeling. Then again, most don’t have access to the proof of collusion that may be lurking in text exchanges and elsewhere on devices used by employees of the NFL and its teams.

The NFL has that access, and the NFL knows it doesn’t require a documented edict from 345 Park Avenue to prove collusion. Fretting among owners or other team employees about, for example, being called out by the President for signing Kaepernick may be sufficient to prove implied collusion, and the labor deal makes it clear that both express and implied collusion are prohibited.

Through six weeks, Deshaun Watson has the most popular rookie jersey

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Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson has emerged quickly as one of the best players in the NFL. He likewise has the best-selling jersey among all rookies.

According to NFLShop.com, from the start of the regular season through Week Six, the top-selling jersey belongs to Watson.

No. 2 belongs to Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, followed by Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, Jets safety Jamal Adams, Steelers running back James Conner, and Browns safety Jabrill Peppers.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett could soon join the list, if he keeps playing like he has during his first two games. 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard could as well, if his team manages to upset the Cowboys on Sunday.

Browns reportedly hadn’t required injured players to adhere to curfew

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Now that it’s known that the Browns sent receivers Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman (pictured) home early last weekend for missing curfew in Houston, the apparent excuse for the violation given by Britt and Coleman is known, too.

Adam Schefter of ESPN, citing an unnamed source, reports that injured Browns players who wouldn’t have been active for the game previously weren’t required to adhere to the curfew.

But that makes little sense. Maybe the Browns hadn’t realized the players were missing curfew, or maybe they hadn’t enforced the rule strictly. The notion, however, that injured players who weren’t going to play the next day could go out and stay out as long as they want while their teammates are resting for the next day’s game is ludicrous, especially for the franchise that employed Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon.

It’s possible that Britt and Coleman believed that there was no rule because others had violated it, or that they threw at the wall whatever they could once they were caught getting back to the team hotel more than two hours late. Regardless, the idea that the Browns had no road-game curfew for injured players suggests a level of incompetence of which not even the Browns are capable.

Then again, it is the Browns. No, I still don’t buy it, even coming from the Browns.

Datone Jones dubs Brett Hundley a “future Hall of Famer”

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The timeline may not work as smoothly, but the Packers could be in the early days of their third straight Canton-bound signal caller, according to one of his former teammates.

Via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Datone Jones (a first-round pick of the Packers who had bounced around the rest of the NFC North this year) thinks Hundley will join the immortals, at some point.

Brett Hundley is a great quarterback,” Jones said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer. I have no bad things to say about Brett Hundley. He’s a great guy.”

Jones played with Hundley at UCLA, and at Green Bay.

“Brett Hundley, he’s an all-star,” Jones said. “Brett’s sat behind Aaron Rodgers for a few years now. He could have easily been one of the top quarterbacks coming out of the draft, so just learning from [Packers coach Mike] McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers, I don’t think he has anything to worry about.”

The Packers and their fans will worry, until further notice. Hundley gets his first real chance to show what he can do on Sunday, with the Saints coming to town and amazingly favored by nearly a touchdown. Future visitors to Lambeau Field won’t enter with such expectations if Hundley can make Jones look like a prophet.

Ravens re-sign Tony Bergstrom

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The Ravens re-signed offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom on Saturday. They had released him Thursday to make room for wide receiver Griff Whalen.

To make room, the Ravens waived cornerback Tony McRae.

The Ravens needed depth in the offensive line, having already ruled out right guard Matt Skura with a sprained right knee. The had only six healthy offensive linemen before bringing back Bergstrom.

Baltimore acquired Bergstrom in a trade with the Cardinals just before final cuts in September. He played in three games and was inactive for three this season.

In his career, Bergstrom has played in 43 games, with four starts.

Packers promote Jermaine Whitehead

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The Packers promoted safety Jermaine Whitehead from the practice squad Saturday.
 
Whitehead originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie out of Auburn in 2015. He spent most of his rookie season on the 49ers’ practice squad.

The Ravens signed him to their 53-player roster on Dec. 23, 2015, and he was inactive for the final two games. After Baltimore waived him May 13, 2016, Whitehead signed with Green Bay a few days later.

He appeared in two games for the Packers last season, seeing action on special teams. Whitehead was on the Packers’ practice squad for the rest of the 2016 regular season and postseason and for the first six games of this season.

Jaguars promote Jaydon Mickens

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The Jaguars promoted first-year wide receiver Jaydon Mickens from the team’s practice squad. To make room on the roster, the Jaguars waived first-year wide receiver Max McCaffrey.
 
Mickens originally signed with Oakland as an undrafted rookie on May 12, 2016, and spent the entire 2016 season on the Raiders’ practice squad. He was waived by Oakland with an ankle injury Sept. 2, 2017, and signed to the Jaguars’ practice squad 17 days later.
 
Mickens played collegiately at the University of Washington, appearing in 53 career games and totaling 203 receptions for 2,187 yards and 12 touchdowns.

McCaffrey caught one pass for 4 yards in five games with the Jaguars.

Lane Johnson returns on Monday, Ronald Darby might

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The Eagles host Washington on Monday night, in a critical rematch of their annual home-and-home series which saw the Eagles win in Washington earlier in the season. As Philly tries to extend their record to 6-1, they’ll be getting one key player back, and maybe another.

Tackle Lane Johnson has no label applied to him on the final injury report of the week, which means he’s good to go after suffering a concussion 13 days ago. (Johnson missed the Week Six win over the Panthers.)

Possibly joining Johnson will be cornerback Ronald Darby, who dislocated an ankle during the Week One win at Washington and hasn’t played since.

Darby officially is questionable, as are linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf), linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), and running back Wendell Smallwood (knee). No other players appear on the final report in advance of the Monday night game.

Browns sent Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman home from Houston for missing curfew

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The winless Browns have been a mess on the field this year, and they have some problems off the field as well.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, last week in Houston receivers Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman were both sent home early after they missed Saturday night curfew. Britt and Coleman had both already been ruled out for the game against the Texans with injuries, but they traveled with the team and were expected to attend meetings and team functions and stand on the sidelines during the game. Instead, they were already on the way back to Cleveland by kickoff.

The incident is the latest in a long line of disappointments for both players in Cleveland. The Browns signed Britt to a four-year, $32.5 million contract this offseason, and he’s been a big disappointment. Coleman was a first-round pick last year, but he’s been limited by injuries and has just 39 catches so far in his NFL career.

The Browns have not publicly addressed the matter. Britt is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Titans with knee and groin injuries, while Coleman remains on injured reserve with a broken hand.

Josh Norman ruled out Monday night

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Washington cornerback Josh Norman will miss another game with a rib injury.

Coach Jay Gruden confirmed today that Norman is out for Monday night’s game against the Eagles. Norman was able to practice on a limited basis this week, but it always looked like a long shot that he’d be able to return this quickly. Norman suffered the injury on October 2 against the Chiefs and has been out since then.

Washington would have loved to have its secondary at full strength against the Eagles, who are getting a big year from quarterback Carson Wentz. Instead they’ll be at less than 100 percent.

Also ruled out for Washington are a couple of offensive linemen, Tyler Catalina with a concussion and Ty Nsekhe with a core injury.

At his first home game as owner, Jerry Jones was criticized for sitting during the anthem

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Jerry Jones has appeared to become the most strident of the NFL owners in his stance that players must stand for the national anthem. But it hasn’t always been that way.

After Jones’s first home game as the Cowboys’ owner in 1989, a fan complained that Jones and his guest, Elizabeth Taylor, had been spotted sitting during the national anthem. The Star-Telegram published a letter from the offended fan, Ken Johnson.

“JEERS: To Jerry Jones and Liz Taylor, who were the only two people at last Sunday’s Cowboys-Redskins game not standing when the national anthem was played,” the letter said. “Riding out in a cart just before the anthem began was bad enough, but sitting while it was played was more than many of us could handle. Jerry, please note that in Texas, we stand for the national anthem. P.S.: Tom [Landry] always took off his hat.”

We’re not sure why Jones (or Taylor) wouldn’t have stood for the anthem in 1989, but apparently some time in the last 28 years Jones has decided that not only will he always stand for the anthem, but every Cowboys player must stand as well.

Jeremy Lane downgraded to out

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As the Seattle Seahawks try to end the one-game winning streak of the juggernaut Giants, the Seahawks won’t have one of the key pieces from their defense.

The Seahawks have downgraded cornerback Jeremy Lane from doubtful to out, with a groin injury.

Lane missed the Week Five game against the Rams, and he’ll likewise miss this one. Which shouldn’t matter much, given that pretty much every Giants receiver is injured.

The Seahawks are the second straight team emerging from a bye to play the Giants. The Broncos apparently were a little too complacent; the Seahawks probably won’t be.

Gregg Williams hopes Marcus Mariota’s hamstring is hurting “a lot”

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Five years after the bounty scandal, the man at the heart of it is making jokes about quarterback injuries.

Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has had a resurrection to his career that would impress even Marv Albert, tiptoed back down the “remember me” path on Friday when discussing Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who played through a hamstring injury on Monday night.

“We will see how healthy he is,” Williams told reporters. “We have played some very mobile quarterbacks. Marcus is extremely mobile. He is very well coached. . . . When we are playing those kinds of guys, we are pretty well versed on making those decisions and trying to make them do what we want them to do, but he is very dangerous when he is out there. I hope his hamstring is hurting a lot.”

Williams laughed, but his history makes it a little less funny. Even if the Saints received unfairly harsh punishment (and they did) for offering walking-around money to players who already had an incentive to incapacitate opponents via clean, legal hits in part because it was a cultural reality in the NFL, Williams was at the center of that culture, with plenty of players from plenty of other teams Williams had coached immediately telling their own tales of bounties elsewhere.

The “joke” about Mariota serves as a reminder to everyone (including Browns ownership) about Williams’ history, especially at a time when Browns ownership may be thinking about possible interim head coaches from a staff that doesn’t have an offensive coordinator, if Browns ownership decides after tomorrow that 1-22 doesn’t cut it or that, after next Sunday in London, 1-23 requires a change in the status quo.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins has a colorful description of the Jets’ culture change

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The Jets have greatly outperformed expectations in 2017, due in part to a dramatic change in the culture of the team. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has explained the difference between last year and this year, in colorful terms.

It’s f–king night and day,” Seferian-Jenkins said, via Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News. “It’s not the same s–t at all. I’m happy it’s not. That sh-t was bad.”

Regardless of who wasn’t, or wasn’t, causing the issues in 2016, receiver Jermaine Kearse has helped provide the solution.

“Jermaine’s had a big part” in the turnaround, Seferian-Jenkins said.

For Kearse, who won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks and spent several years in the environment of a winning organization, it wasn’t an accident.

“There’s good teams in the NFL each year, and it’s just something so minor and something so detailed that separates good teams from bad teams,” Kearse said, via Popper. “I felt like if there was any chance that I could help create a culture and a similar mindset where everybody was on the same page, that we could have success here.”

Kearse instantly spotted defensive lineman Leonard Williams as a team leader. So Kearse immediately struck up a relationship with Williams.

“Coming into a locker room with 50-plus people, you’re not from here, you’re from a whole different team, for most people it would probably be easy to just keep your head down and be quiet and focus on you,” Williams said. “But he did the opposite. He reached out. He exposed himself. He put himself out there and went out on a limb.”

“Winning consistently; it’s more than Xs and Os,” Kearse said. “You’ve got to have a certain camaraderie with your teammates, because at the end of the day, you’ve got to lean onto one another. This is the ultimate team sport. There’s no sport like this. There’s no other sport that takes 11 guys doing their job right to have one successful play.”

The Jets are seeing what happens when true camaraderie exists. They’ve already won more games than anyone expected them to win, and they are in the thick of things in the AFC East, even if at 3-3 they’re technically for now in last place.

Texans lead NFL in scoring since Deshaun Watson became starting quarterback

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The Houston Texans started Tom Savage at quarterback in Week One, and the result was a disaster, as the Texans were held scoreless in the first half. Houston coach Bill O’Brien made a change at halftime, and the results have been extraordinary.

Since Deshaun Watson became Houston’s starting quarterback in Week Two, the Texans have scored more points than any other team in the NFL. The Texans have scored 170 points since Week Two, five more than the Chiefs, who have scored the next-most — and the Chiefs did it in one more game because that includes the 30 points the Chiefs scored on Thursday night.

But even that 170 points since Week Two understates just how much of an impact Watson has had on the Texans’ offense because his first start came on a short work week on a Thursday night in Week Two, and that night the Texans won by a score of 13-9.

Since Week Three, when Watson got his first start with a full week to prepare, the Texans have scored 157 points — 19 more than the second-place Chiefs who, again, have played one more game than the Texans over the same time period.

Watson has 14 touchdown passes over the last four weeks. No other player has more than 10. Watson also leads all NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards, with 202.

In a short period of time, the Texans’ offense has gone from incompetent with Savage under center to sensational with Watson running the show. There’s no question that Watson is a dynamic young talent. The only question is, what the hell was O’Brien thinking starting the season with Watson on the bench?