Kaepernick could become involved in future meetings between NFL, players

Getty Images

The anthem issue remains unresolved, and the NFL and  the NFL Players Association have resolved to engage in future meetings and discussions on the issue. Those future meetings may, or may not, involve free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“Colin Kaepernick was not invited to attend today’s meeting by any official from the NFL or any team executives,” attorney Mark Geragos said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “Other players wanted him present and have asked that he attend the next meeting with the goal of forging a lasting and faithful consensus around these issues. Mr. Kaepernick is open to future participation on these important discussions.”

Kaepernick’s current playing status shouldn’t be an impediment. Receiver Anquan Boldin is retired, but he was present for the meeting on Tuesday.

The league may be uncomfortable with Kaepernick’s presence, given his pending collusion grievance. But if the league hopes to reach a long-term solution to the anthem issue, having Kaepernick sign on would help the players buy in.

Of course, having Kaepernick gainfully employed in the NFL may help even more. But it would also inflame those who are upset about players kneeling or sitting during the anthem, even if all of them stand moving forward.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m. ET: Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said that Kaepernick was invited to attend the meeting by players, and that Jenkins doesn’t know why Kaepernick didn’t attend. Via Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, other players said that Kaepernick was invited, but that he didn’t want to be a distraction. No one has disputed the contention that Kaepernick was not invited by the NFL or any team executives. PFT has confirmed that multiple players reached out, but that Kaepernick was not invited by the league or by any team.

49ers sign Tony McDaniel

Getty Images

The 49ers have signed veteran defensive lineman Tony McDaniel, his agency tweeted Tuesday.

San Francisco lost defensive lineman Arik Armstead to a hand fracture Sunday.

McDaniel was a salary-cap casualty of the Seahawks in the offseason. He signed with the Saints, who cut him Sept. 1.

The 11-year veteran spent three of the previous four seasons in Seattle. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was on the Seahawks’ staff in 2013 when McDaniel was there.

McDaniel, 32, made 43 tackles in 16 games and 11 starts last season.

He also has played for the Jaguars, Dolphins and Buccaneers, with 281 career tackles.

On Seferian-Jenkins ruling, league office erred

Getty Images

When final say regarding replay review belonged to the referee at the game site, a convenient vehicle existed for publicly keeping him honest: The NFL’s V.P. of officiating, who had the ability via periodic video and media appearances to explain that, for example, the referee failed to apply the replay-review standard and instead made a fresh ruling on the issue.

Now that the V.P. of officiating has final say on issues of replay review, who will publicly hold him accountable?

As it related to the controversial touchdown-to-touchback ruling in Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron won’t be the one telling the world that he mistakenly failed to apply the “clear and obvious evidence,” previously known as “indisputable visual evidence” and more loosely known as the “50 drunks in a bar” test. Riveron explained himself on Sunday, and he doubled down on Monday.

In this case, and faced with what was by far the toughest replay-review decision of his six-week stint on the job, Riveron did not apply the very high standard applicable to replay review. Instead, he watched the video and issued the ruling that he would have made in the first instance based on the available evidence.

That’s clearly what he did, for one very simple reason. If the evidence were indisputable, there would be no lingering dispute about it. Riveron and his predecessors, Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira, would agree that the right decision was made.

They don’t agree, it wasn’t indisputable. While the evidence that tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins lost possession of the ball before crossing the goal line was clear and obvious, it wasn’t clear and obvious that he failed to recover the ball before landing out of bounds. As Blandino explained it, it appears that Seferian-Jenkins recovered possession of the ball and that his knee landed in bounds. The question is whether the evidence is clear and obvious that this didn’t happen.

It’s not, so the ruling on the field should have been upheld. Indeed, this is one of those situations where either decision on the field should have been upheld, since there’s no clear and obvious evidence to overturn touchdown or touchback.

It’s not the first time Riveron has misapplied the replay standard. In 2009, he incorrectly overturned a ruling on the field in connection with the always-controversial catch-no-catch question, as admitted by Pereira after the fact.

It’s also not the first time the league office has failed to properly (in my opinion) break the ruling on the field down to its various parts and focus on whether clear and obvious evidence to the contrary exists. The notorious #DezCaughtIt play from the 2014 playoffs should have been upheld because there is not clear and obvious evidence that he failed to make a so-called football move (or whatever the proper term was or now is) when he jumped, caught the ball, took several steps forward, and lunged toward the end zone with the ball tucked between his hand and forearm.

That one was less clear. This one is more clear. Riveron, whether he’ll admit it or not, overturned the ruling on the field without clear and obvious evidence that the ruling was incorrect.

Broncos making moves, and more likely to come

Getty Images

The Broncos came out of Sunday’s loss to the Giants battered, and appear set to make multiple transactions.

According to Mike Klis of KUSA, the Broncos are releasing veteran defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin and putting offensive lineman Billy Turner on injured reserve.

Rubin was a 16-game starter for the Seahawks last year, and signed with the Broncos in Week Two. But the 31-year-old was only active twice.

They’re probably going to need to roster spots to add wide receiver depth for this week’s game against the Chargers.

While Demaryius Thomas was able to finish the game, Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie were carted off and they’re expected to miss at least a game each. That leaves them with just three healthy receivers at the moment, since Cody Latimer was inactive last week.

Who were the best replacement quarterbacks of all time?

Getty Images

Inspired by the extended absence of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and his replacement by the largely unproven Brett Hundley, Tuesday’s PFT Live took a look at the question of the best replacement quarterbacks of all time.

We did it draft style, with Chris Simms and yours truly going back and forth through three rounds.

As the segment demonstrated, my trio was by far the better trio, but only because Simms inexplicably passed on the guy who clearly and indisputably was the best replacement quarterback of all time.

Check it out, and chime in via the comments.

Eric Reid doesn’t think rule change on anthem is coming

Getty Images

In a statement about Tuesday’s meeting between the NFL, NFLPA, players and team owners in New York, the NFL and NFLPA said that everyone in the NFL community has “a tremendous respect” for the national anthem but it doesn’t sound like the anthem was a focal point of the meeting.

Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports that no rules changes regarding players being required to stand for the playing of the anthem were discussed and 49ers safety Eric Reid told Breer’s colleague Jenny Vrentas that the anthem was a small piece of what was discussed.

“I don’t think they can make a rule change,” Reid said. “The point of the meeting was to discuss these issues and how they are all of our issues.”

Reid, who began kneeling during the anthem last year, said that he plans to continue doing so.

While Judy Battista of NFL Media reports that she was told the meeting was the “best the communication has ever been between players and owners” and the focus on issues rather than the anthem suggests a desire to change the conversation, there were no tangible actions on either front mentioned in the statement released at its close.

Defensive-minded Texans become offensive-minded Texans

Getty ImagesIn

Even without three-time NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt for most of last year, the Texans still led the league in total defense. Houston, in fact, ranked in the top 10 in total defense five of the past six seasons, with Watt the face of the franchise.

Scoring was the Texans’ problem, as they ranked no better than 14th in points the previous four seasons.

Amazing how a franchise quarterback can change the identity of a team overnight.

“Everything has flipped, turned 180 degrees from last season,” owner Bob McNair said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “We knew our defense was good last year, and we would keep teams from scoring a lot of points. If the offense just didn’t turn the ball over and could score a few points, we could win the game. This season, we know we’re going to score a lot of points. If our defense keeps teams from scoring too much, we can win.”

The Texans have lost defensive end J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus to season-ending injuries, and inside linebacker Brian Cushing is serving a 10-game suspension.

But rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson gives the Texans hope.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s the franchise quarterback, the present and the future,” McNair said. “He means everything to our offense.”

The Texans are averaging 29.5 points, 11.5 more than they did through six games last season. They have averaged 34 points in the five games Watson has started.

Watson has 15 touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns, the same numbers Brock Osweiler in his one season in Houston.

NFL, NFLPA say promoting equality a “common issue” after Tuesday meeting

Getty Images

A meeting in New York between representatives of the NFL and the NFLPA along with players and team owners wrapped up after about four hours on Tuesday afternoon.

The meeting was set up to discuss ways for the league and players to address the issues behind player protests that have taken place during the playing of the national anthem over the last two seasons. The NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement after the meeting came to an end that didn’t feature any specific talking points or actions that will be taken, but did say the sides will continue to work toward “common ground.”

“Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities. NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.”

“As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change.”

Colts cornerback Darius Butler was at the meeting and shared his thoughts with Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com.

“It’s not going to be fixed overnight, no resolution made right now, but it was a good dialogue,” Butler said.

The league’s owners will be meeting on Tuesday afternoon with the national anthem set to be a major topic of conversation.

Lane Johnson practiced for Eagles Tuesday

Getty Images

The Eagles were without right tackle Lane Johnson in last Thursday’s victory over the Panthers, but it looks like they’re on track to get him back for next Monday night.

Johnson missed the game with a concussion and it appears he has made a good deal of progress in his recovery. The Eagles held a practice on Tuesday and reporters viewing the open portion observed Johnson going through drills without any apparent limitations.

Because they are playing the Redskins on Monday, the Eagles won’t release an official injury report until Thursday. Multiple reports from Philly indicate Johnson has been cleared from the concussion protocol, however, and Tuesday’s practice activity suggests that’s the case.

Running back Wendell Smallwood was also taking part in practice. He’s missed the last two games with a knee injury.

Luke Kuechly not practicing Tuesday, still in concussion protocol

Getty Images

If Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly doesn’t have a concussion, the Panthers sure are treating him like he has one.

According to Bill Voth of the team’s official website, Kuechly was jogging around during practice Tuesday, but did not participate in drills.

He walked onto the field wearing a baseball cap instead of a helmet, which was a good sign as to his level of participation.

While there were reports that he did not suffer a concussion last week against the Eagles, the team quickly responded by saying he remained in the protocol and there was no change to his status.

The fact he’s had diagnosed concussions the last two years makes them approach everything with an abundance of caution. When he missed six games last year, he was cleared by the independent neurologist to return, but coach Ron Rivera held him out of meaningless games late anyway.

Monday Night Football ratings down last night, season still up over 2016

Getty Images

AFC South games routinely generate the NFL’s lowest television ratings, and last night was no exception.

The Titans’ win over the Colts drew a 6.1 overnight rating for ESPN on Monday night, which according to Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Daily is the third-lowest overnight ESPN has had for a Monday night game since it acquired the Monday night rights in 2006. That’s down 3 percent from last year’s Week Six Monday night game.

The two lowest ratings in the history of Monday Night Football both came last year, with the lowest ever coming opposite a presidential debate and the second-lowest coming late in the season when the Colts played the Jets with both teams out of the playoff race.

Despite last night’s disappointing rating, ESPN’s Monday night ratings are still up 4 percent this year compared to the first six weeks of Monday Night Football last year.

Roethlisberger: Martavis Bryant told me he doesn’t want to go anywhere

Getty Images

Sunday brought a report that Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant requested a trade, which was followed by Bryant tweeting that he’s happy in Pittsburgh and his girlfriend apparently confirming the report.

That leaves some uncertainty about Bryant’s desire, but Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger feels pretty sure about where the wide receiver’s head is at the moment. Roethlisberger was asked about the report during a Tuesday appearance on “Cook and Poni” on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and said his conversations with Bryant haven’t left him thinking Bryant wants out.

“Martavis, I talked to him, he doesn’t want to go anywhere,” Roethlisberger said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Sometimes things come from agents because they want what they think is best for the player and don’t realize that it ends up hurting the player. I don’t know exactly what happened here, but I do know that Martavis, there hasn’t been any inklings of unhappiness. It’s unnecessary drama.”

Whatever happened, Bryant is in Pittsburgh and there’s no sign that the Steelers plan to change that in the near future. An uptick in production from Bryant would likely ensure things remained that way and Roethlisberger said he thinks increased repetitions after missing all of last year will get Bryant back to a role like the one he played in 2015.

NFL decided not to formally review Derrick Henry touchdown

AP

With the Titans up by seven on Monday night and in position to burn up the clock and exit with a win, running back Derrick Henry broke a 72-yard touchdown run — giving Tennessee a 14-point victory.

Coincidentally, the Titans were favored by seven or 7.5 points to win, and the touchdown allowed them to cover the spread.

Henry came dangerously close to stepping out of bounds with a left foot, both at the Tennessee 44 and the Tennessee 49. A formal replay review never happened, and ESPN didn’t even mention the possibility that Henry had been out of bounds.

According to a league spokesman, it was determined that a closer look wasn’t necessary. Arguably, however, the game should have been stopped to ensure that Henry didn’t step out of bounds.

Apparently (and this didn’t come from the league but from someone familiar with how things work there), the standard for not ordering full replay review is the mirror image of the standard for overturning a ruling on the field. Basically, there must be clear and obvious evidence the ruling was correct to avoid an examination of whether there is clear and obvious evidence the ruling was not correct.

Discretion exists where the play will have no significant impact on the outcome of the game. In this case, however, the impact came not on the outcome of the game but on the outcome of the wagering on the game. With the NFL moving a team to Las Vegas and with a sense that legalized sports wagering is inevitable, the league needs to be cognizant of meaningless scores that actually are meaningful, and to ensure that they are valid and proper scoring plays.

It’s entire possible that Henry remained inbounds. But it was close enough to take a second look, and it definitely was close enough for any of the many ESPN employees who have eyes on the field to have noticed it and mentioned it to the guys in the booth.

Ravens make a change at linebacker

Getty Images

The Ravens offense has been a big problem through the first six weeks of the season, but a Tuesday roster move addressed the other side of the ball.

The Ravens announced that they have released linebacker Jonathan Freeny and replaced him on the roster with Steven Johnson. Freeny joined the team in late September after defensive end Brent Urban was placed on injured reserve. He had two tackles in three appearances with the team.

Johnson played six games with the Steelers last year and played in one early this season while bouncing on and off the roster in Pittsburgh. He spent the first three years of his career with the Broncos and spent the 2015 season with the Titans.

Freeny saw all of his work on special teams and that will likely be Johnson’s main focus in Baltimore as well.

From 2013: Ted Thompson and the backup quarterback “jinx”

Getty Images

Mike McCarthy can reiterate until he’s gray in the face that his quarterbacks moving forward will be Brett Hundley and Joe Hallahan Houlihan O’Callahan Callahan, but it’s ultimately not the Packers coach’s call. The man who determines the composition of the roster is G.M. Ted Thompson.

Four years ago, the last time the Packers had to proceed with a revolving door of mediocrity after Aaron Rodgers broke a collarbone (it was the left side that time), Thompson had an intriguing, to say the least, explanation for his staffing decisions when it comes to the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

“You make sure you have so many of every position, given the limitations of a 53-man roster,” Thompson told USA Today. “But quite frankly, you never think about your better players ever getting hurt. If you think that way, you might jinx it. It might happen. Literally, you don’t think about it. It’s a place where you never tread.”

So Thompson believes in jinxes?

“No,” Thompson said. “But you still never tread. You just don’t like to say it.”

Which means he does believe in jinxes. Or at least he did in 2013. This year, the No. 2 behind Rodgers has been Brett Hundley, who completed two of 10 regular-season passes before 2017. And the No. 3 (now No. 2) is a Division III quarterback with no regular-season playing time. So maybe Thompson still believes in jinxes.

Maybe he should revisit that. Twice in four years, Rodgers has suffered a multi-game injury.

Meanwhile, the team that beat the Packers on Sunday has to be very glad that it invested $2 million in another quarterback with Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater already on the roster.