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PFT Live: Does RG3’s ankle injury really open the door for Kirk Cousins?

CSN Washington’s Rich Tandler joins Mike Florio to discuss the impact of Robert Griffin III’s ankle injury. He believes if backup QB Kirk Cousins wins posts a winning record in RG3’s absence, it’s going to be hard to start Griffin again.

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49ers’ respect for due process is inconsistent

raymcdonald AP

As we continue to parse what NFL teams mean when they say they’ll afford players “due process” before taking disciplinary action, the case of 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald is drawing increased scrutiny.

McDonald was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence in an incident that police say left visible injuries on his pregnant fiancée. The 49ers have insisted that it wouldn’t be appropriate to deactivate McDonald — as the Panthers just deactivated their accused domestic abuser, Greg Hardy — because McDonald has only been arrested, not formally charged and certainly not convicted.

But the 49ers haven’t always been so keen on due process. In 2012, when 49ers backup tight end Demarcus Dobbs was arrested for misdemeanor driving under the influence and misdemeanor marijuana possession, the 49ers quickly announced that Dobbs would be inactive for the next game, against the Rams.

So what was the difference? The 49ers said it was a matter of Dobbs still being processed by the police when the team flight to St. Louis left, although they never explained why Dobbs wouldn’t be allowed to play if he got to St. Louis on his own. Dobbs was arrested in the early-morning hours on a Friday, and the 49ers’ game against the Rams wasn’t until Sunday afternoon, and Dobbs could have made it to St. Louis on his own in plenty of time to play, but the 49ers sat him down. The team has never publicly explained what it views as different about the Dobbs case and the McDonald case.

The 49ers have also not publicly explained what they view as different about McDonald, Hardy and Ray Rice, although privately they seem to be saying that the McDonald case isn’t as bad. Several reporters have cited unnamed sources within the 49ers organization as saying they don’t think McDonald’s case is as serious as the NFL’s other two high-profile domestic violence incidents recently.

What makes the 49ers think the McDonald case isn’t as serious? Again, the team isn’t saying. But an arrest on suspicion of felony domestic violence in an incident that leaves visible injuries on a pregnant woman sure sounds awfully serious.

The 49ers are taking a lot of criticism for continuing to play McDonald, and not just from outsiders: Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Steve Young publicly told the 49ers that their decision to keep playing McDonald while also claiming they have no tolerance for domestic violence shows that “you’re not serious about it.”

Young, a graduate of BYU’s law school, also pointed out that just because McDonald is legally entitled to due process, that doesn’t mean the 49ers have to play a guy who is accused of harming a pregnant woman: “I understand due process. . . . Every owner can decide this for themselves.”

Jed York, the team’s CEO, has insisted that “Ray McDonald is not Ray Rice.” Maybe that’s true.

It’s also true that Ray McDonald is not Demarcus Dobbs. Dobbs is a good special teams player, but he’s not as important to the team as McDonald, a starter on the defensive line. If McDonald were just a special teams player, he probably wouldn’t be playing for the 49ers right now. If you’re an NFL player and you want your team to stand up for your due process rights, you’d be wise to be a starter like McDonald, and not a special teams player like Dobbs.

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Transcript doesn’t exist for Hardy’s first trial, yet

Greg Hardy AP

It’s become popular in the media to assume that Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy already has had his day in court on domestic violence charges.  In one way, he has.  But he really hasn’t.

North Carolina procedure calls for an initial trial before a judge, which precedes the trial before a jury.  The true day in court comes when the trial occurs before a jury.

To illustrate the relative lack of significance of the trial before the judge, the court doesn’t even generate a transcript of the trial before the judge.

So to say (as most have) that Hardy was convicted and is appealing the conviction isn’t accurate.  Hardy hasn’t been convicted.  He has been found guilty via a preliminary process that essentially serves as a filter for deciding the cases that are decided by a jury.

But nothing prevents the lawyer for the defendant from hiring a court reporter.  In this case, that’s what happened.  In this case, the transcript has yet to be finalized.  In this case, the Panthers and/or the league presumably can tell Hardy, “We want a copy of it when it’s ready, and you’re not playing until we have a chance to read it.”

It’s unclear when the transcript will be completed.  But it makes sense for the team and the league to make a clear and pointed request that the transcript be finished and tendered for a full review ASAP, so that the team and the league can determine whether Hardy did what he is accused of doing, and whether he should be disciplined by the team or the league for whatever one or both conclude that he did.

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Panthers not saying whether Greg Hardy will play

Greg Hardy AP

The Vikings believe in due process this week.

The Panthers are giving themselves more time to decide whether they do or not.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said that defensive end/domestic violence defendant Greg Hardy was with the team today, but would not commit to him playing Sunday night against the Steelers.

The Panthers deactivated Hardy yesterday after playing him in the opener (pre-Ray Rice tape), and Rivera wasn’t tipping his hand about the future, but admitted the decision was difficult.

“If you play him and you win, you don’t have a conscience,” Rivera said. “You play him and you lose, it’s a distraction.”

He said Hardy would practice and attend meetings as normal, but he wasn’t ready to say when he’d make a final call on Sunday’s game.

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Report: Mark Ingram to miss several weeks with hand injury

Mark Ingram AP

The Saints will be without their leading rusher for the next several games.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, tailback Mark Ingram sustained a hand injury in Sunday’s loss at Cleveland and will miss “about a month.”

The Saints’ bye is in Week Six (Oct. 12). On the timetable reported by Schefter, Ingram’s status for the club’s next three games (vs. Minnesota, at Dallas, vs. Tampa Bay) could be in doubt. The Saints return from their bye with a road game at Detroit on October 19.

Ingram has had a strong start to the 2014 season, racking up 143 yards and three TDs on 24 carries.

With Ingram out, Khiry Robinson, Pierre Thomas and Travaris Cadet will be the Saints’ top three backs. Robinson could see the biggest increase in work, as Thomas already is a major contributor in the passing game.

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RG3 says he doesn’t have a fracture, likely won’t need surgery

rg3crutches AP

Robert Griffin III got relatively good news after an MRI today.

Griffin, who left Sunday’s game in Washington with an ankle injury, said today that an MRI revealed he does not have a fracture and does not think he will need surgery. According to Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Griffin termed the results “positive.”

That’s not to say Griffin is necessarily close to returning to the field: He’s in a cast and on crutches, and he said there are still more test results to go over.

But it does sound like relatively good news for Washington’s franchise quarterback. Now the question is whether Griffin will still be viewed as Washington’s franchise quarterback when he’s ready to return, or whether Kirk Cousins can continue playing like he did on Sunday, and raise questions about who the team’s best quarterback really is.

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Giants lose Walter Thurmond for season with torn pectoral

thurmond AP

A bad start to the season for the Giants just got worse.

Walter Thurmond, a cornerback who arrived in free agency from Seattle this offseason, has suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will miss the rest of the season. A league source told PFT that the diagnosis was made this morning.

Thurmond has started both games as the slot cornerback this season for the Giants, who are 0-2 following Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals. After Sunday’s game he said he couldn’t keep going because the Giants were asking him to play a lot of press coverage and the injury had weakened his upper body, although he didn’t sound after the game like he thought he had suffered a season-ending injury.

But that’s what he has. Now the Giants have one more position to worry about, in a season that is rapidly going downhill.

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Vikings owner says Adrian Peterson will play this week

Adrian Peterson AP

The Vikings gave Adrian Peterson the weekend off for damage control.

But now they’re falling back on due process.

The team just released a statement from owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf saying the All-Pro running back would fully participate in practices and meetings this week and is expected to play Sunday against the Saints.

He was deactivated and not present last week after being indicted on child abuse charges in Texas stemming from what he claimed was disciplining his 4-year-old son with a switch.

“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration,” the statement read. “As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue. On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.
“To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.”

It will be interesting to see if the Panthers follow suit with Greg Hardy today, after deactivating their domestic abuse defendant Sunday against the Lions.

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Keenan Allen says Sherman is just another guy, not a shutdown CB

shermanallen AP

Chargers receiver Keenan Allen went up against Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman on Sunday, and Allen did not come away particularly impressed.

Allen, who caught five passes for 55 yards in the Chargers’ upset over the Seahawks, said he doesn’t think playing Sherman is much different from playing any other cornerback.

He’s just a normal guy,” Allen said, via ESPN. “We can go at him. We took some shots at him. We are not going to shy away from him. He’s not really a shutdown corner. We definitely wanted to come out and show we could go any way we wanted to and that we were in control of the game.”

Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd was blunt about how the Chargers attacked Sherman, saying, “Keenan was lighting up Sherman.” That might be a bit of an overstatement, but Allen did play very well. And he may have played well enough to convince other teams that they don’t have to stay away from Sherman.

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PFT Live: Redskins talk with Rich Tandler, Bob Glauber

Robert Griffin III, AP

Another year, another injury for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to deal with.

Griffin left early in Sunday’s win with a dislocated ankle that the team hopes will only keep him out of the lineup for a month, but further tests will determine just how long Griffin might be out of the lineup. Kirk Cousins played well in relief and Rich Tandler of CSN Washington will join Mike Florio on Monday’s PFT Live to discuss the entire situation, including whether or not there will be a quarterback controversy when and if Griffin is healthy again this season.

Bob Glauber of Newsday will also drop by the program to review some of what happened around the league in Week Two. He and Florio will touch on several topics from around the league now that we’ve learned a bit more about how this season might unfold.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Dolphins bringing back Daniel Thomas

Daniel Thomas AP

The Dolphins lost running back Knowshon Moreno to a dislocated elbow early in Sunday’s loss to the Bills and then watched Lamar Miller hobble off with an ankle problem later in the game, leaving them short on backs.

Miller was reportedly OK to return, but stayed out since the game was a blowout. Moreno will miss several weeks, however, and the Dolphins have moved quickly to bolster the depth chart in the backfield.

Agent Tony Fleming told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that his client Daniel Thomas has agreed on a contract with the team. It’s a return engagement for the 2011 second-round pick, who spent the last three seasons with the Dolphins and was cut on the way to 53 players last month.

Thomas offered the Dolphins mediocre production during his 40 games with the team, which contributed to Moreno’s arrival as a free agent and Thomas being beaten out for roster spots by Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa. It looks like he’ll get another chance to show he can thrive at the professional level as the Dolphins prepare to move on without their most effective runner of the young season.

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Dee Milliner’s ankle tightened up on him in Sunday’s loss

Jordy Nelson

One of the key plays that wasn’t interrupted by an ill-timed timeout during Sunday’s 31-24 Packers victory against the Jets was an 80-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson in the third quarter.

The play, which snapped a 24-24 tie, came after Nelson beat Jets cornerback Dee Milliner on a double move. It turned out to be the final play of the day for Milliner, who was returning from a high ankle sprain that kept him sidelined for months and said after the game that the ankle got tight as the game progressed.

“I felt good,” Milliner said, via NJ.com. “When I first got out there, I was moving around pretty good. I came in at halftime and felt good. But when I went back out towards the end, I felt like it was tightening up a little bit, and that’s when I told Antonio [Allen] he could come in for me.”

With the Bears up next, Milliner’s status will be closely watched this week because the Jets clearly need all the help they can get at corner right now and a healthy Milliner is the only improvement they’re likely to make given the players currently on the roster.

Wide receiver Eric Decker’s status will be another issue for the Jets to sort out this week. Decker left with an injury to his hamstring, the same one he hurt over the summer, in the second half and it’s unclear as of now whether or not he’ll miss an extended period of time.

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Hardy may not be playing for a while

Greg Hardy AP

Was Greg Hardy’s deactivation a one-time thing or a trend?  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the current expectation is that Hardy’s surprise deactivation from Sunday wasn’t a blip on the radar screen.

According to the source, Hardy likely won’t be playing for a while.

And that makes sense.  The NFL’s new world order, sparked by the Ray Rice video and cemented by the Adrian Peterson case, prompted the Panthers to park Hardy on the bench after defiantly insisting he’ll play.  The Panthers probably won’t be re-reversing course any time soon.

The NFLPA may have something to say about that, eventually.  While every team chooses to shelve seven members of the active roster every week, deactivations (even with pay) aren’t supposed to be punitive.  At some point, Hardy may decide to force the issue — and if he chooses to do so, the union will be compelled to take up the cause on his behalf.

The argument would be, “Play me or cut me.”  Given that the CBA was reconfigured in 2006 specifically to prevent teams from putting players on ice for reasons unrelated to skill or health (thanks to the T.O. case in Philly), Hardy would have a strong position.

Of course, the team’s handling of Hardy won’t matter if the league decides to step in.  As Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported on Sunday, the league may be consulting with an independent party in order to determine how best to navigate the personal-conduct policy with Hardy, a first-time offender who has yet to receive a jury trial on the pending charges.  (The league should be able to figure that out on its own, but the NFL is under siege right now, especially on issues of meting out discipline in domestic violence cases.)

So whether it’s the team or the league taking action against Hardy, chances are he won’t be playing, perhaps until after his November jury trial.  What Hardy needs to ask himself if whether fighting the team’s decision to pay him not to play will result in a decision by the league to prevent him from playing, without pay.

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Vikings sticking with Matt Cassel

Matt Cassel AP

There were a lot of calls from the stands for Teddy Bridgewater as the Vikings went down in a 30-7 home loss to the Patriots, but coach Mike Zimmer won’t be giving into them.

After Sunday’s loss, which featured four Matt Cassel interceptions, Zimmer said that he never thought of putting Teddy Bridgewater into the game. He also said that he wasn’t going to consider making a change ahead of the Week Three trip to New Orleans.

“I’m going to hold the quarterback position just like every position here to the same standard, and I also said I wasn’t going to have a quick hook,” Zimmer said, via the Pioneer Press. “Matt needs to play better. It’s pretty obvious he needs to play better. We all need to play better. I need to coach better.”

Cassel has shown he can play better than he did on Sunday, but the last few years have given us a pretty good idea of the kind of quarterback he is and what he’s capable of doing for an offense. Bridgewater’s book remains unwritten and it will be hard not to crack the cover if Cassel has a few more games like he had against the Pats. It will be even harder if Adrian Peterson’s absence from the lineup is an extended one that turns this Vikings season into one designed to build for the future rather than to win right now.

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Clock was handled properly at end of Rams-Bucs game

Evans AP

The Buccaneers didn’t get an opportunity to try a game-winning field goal against the Rams on Sunday because of a 10-second runoff resulting from a player injury occurring when Tampa lacked time outs.  The rule, aimed at avoiding the fabrication of offensive injuries in crunch time, ended the game following an injury to Bucs receiver Mike Evans, with the home team at the St. Louis 33.

As pointed out by the Big Lead, the play in question finished with 11 seconds on the clock.  Since 11 minus 10 equals (hang on a second while I confirm this) equals one, the Bucs arguably should have had enough time to try a 50-yard field goal for the win.

Per a league source, that’s not how it works in real time.  The clock continues to tick after the play ends, with the officials stopping the clock when it’s obvious a player is injured.  In this case, the officials recognized that Evans was unable to get up with less than 10 seconds remaining.

If Evans had been clearly injured with more than 10 seconds left, the Bucs would have had one second left.  He wasn’t, and that’s just the way it goes, given that any other rule would allow any player on offense to fake a broken arm in order to ensure that his team will get more opportunities.

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