Skip to content

Sheldon Richardson: I “got my head right” this year

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Mike Gillislee #35 of the Buffalo Bills is tackled from behond by Sheldon Richardson #91 of the New York Jets during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson will serve a one-game suspension to start the regular season, which makes it two years in a row that Richardson will miss the opening of the season because of league discipline.

Other than injury, those off-field issues represent the biggest obstacle to Richardson’s continued success on the field. Richardson seems to recognize that, telling reporters that he “got my head right” this offseason when asked about his maturity.

Words are one thing, but actions will tell the tale. One way that Richardson has tried to show a better approach has come in his dealings with defensive line coach Pepper Johnson. Richardson has been more open to Johnson’s coaching in their second season together.

“I’m a little more compliant this year,” Richardson said, via Newsday. “Last year, I was a little more hardheaded. I felt my way worked. I felt like I knew the system. We were trying new stuff, so I just was being hardheaded. That’s all.”

Richardson is signed through next season after the Jets exercised their fifth-year option on his contract and the size of the deal that will follow his rookie one will be determined in large part by how things play out over those two years. Buying in on the field while keeping things quiet off of it sounds like the best formula to making that deal a big one.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Unmuzzled in D.C., Josh Norman plans to talk up a storm

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 11:  Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins works out during pregame warmups prior to facing the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on August 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cornerback Josh Norman burst onto the scene last year both as one of the best defensive backs in the NFL and one of the most brash. Whether he plays better in Washington remains to be seen; it’s already clear he’ll be even more brash.

In an interview with Kevin Van Walkenberg of ESPN The Magazine, via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, Norman explained that the Panthers wanted him to tone down the trash talk, and that his new team has applied no such restrictions. That will make for interesting periodic appearances on FOX’s pregame show this season, and it apparently made for a compelling interview of Norman in print.

Steinberg has some excerpts from the item, which has yet to appear, as best I can tell, in the alphabet junkyard that is the front page of ESPN.com.

Here are three strong comments that appear in one single paragraph of the story: (1) Norman calls Commissioner Roger Goodell “horrible” and “straight horrible”; (2) Norman blames the league’s six-year-old crackdown on big hits, a move that predated his entry to the NFL, as evidence that “[s]ociety is so soft”; and (3) Norman defends his current team’s name, justifying his position by claiming that he’s part Native American on both sides of his family. (The fact that the franchise using the name pays him $15 million per year may have had a role in shaping Norman’s views.)

The full interview apparently will be released on Friday, when the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine is available at newsstands. Now, all I need to do is go find a newsstand. Maybe there’s one next to the drive-in movie theater.

Moving forward, the question becomes how quickly Norman’s shtick will go the way of newsstands and drive-ins. If he becomes a factory of over-the-top quotes, many will eventually become numb to anything he says, regarding it all not as an authentic, unfiltered viewpoint but as a device for getting more and more (and more) attention.

Permalink 49 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Al Jazeera meetings are set

FILE - From left are file photos showing Pittsburgh Steelers' James Harrison, in 2015, Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews, in 2016, Packers' Julius Peppers, in 2015, and then-Packers player Mike Neal, in 2014. Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison doesn’t want to face a suspension. He is also not interested in talking to NFL representatives right now, either. The NFL has threatened Harrison and three other players with an indefinite suspension if they don’t cooperate in its investigation of alleged use of performance-enhancing substances. The others are Clay Matthews, Mike Neal and Julius Peppers. Harrison spoke Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016,  a day after the NFL’s threat became public.(AP Photo/File) AP

The most-anticipated interviews of the year not involving Ryan Lochte are finally happening.

Via Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com, the NFL has agreed to meet with the four players accused of PED use in a controversial Al Jazeera documentary that emerged last December. Per the report, Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers will be interviewed on Wednesday, August 24 in Green Bay, free-agent defensive lineman Mike Neal will be interviewed on Thursday, August 25 in Chicago, and Steelers linebacker James Harrison will be interviewed on Tuesday, August 30 in Pittsburgh.

The four players abruptly agreed to submit to the interviews last week, after the NFL applied an August 25 deadline for submitting or facing an indefinite suspension. The circumstances have prompted speculation from those in the know that the league made it known through back channels that the investigation is perfunctory and that the players will be exonerated fairly promptly after being interviewed.

Whether that happens remains to be seen. As explained earlier today, this specific type of potential violation falls within the narrow range of lingering final say for the Commissioner. So if the league decides that they violated the PED policy, Goodell or his designee will resolve it.

Permalink 62 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Vontae Davis out until at least October

Baltimore Ravens v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

Colts cornerback Vontae Davis will miss at least the first month of the season, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday.

The report said Davis has ligament damage in his ankle. Earlier in the day, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Davis would be “week to week” with a medial ankle sprain but didn’t go into much detail on the extent of the injury.

Pagano called his team’s current cornerback situation “scary.”

With Davis out and other players on their cornerback depth chart limping, the Colts agreed to terms with veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie on Monday night.

Davis, 28, is the Colts’ No. 1 cornerback and has been to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons. He has 21 career interceptions, eight over the last two seasons.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Colts agree to terms with Cromartie

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Greg Salas #17 of the Buffalo Bills can't make the catch as Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets defends during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts announced Monday night that they’ve agreed to terms with veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

With at least four cornerbacks battling injuries and top cornerback Vontae Davis out at least a couple weeks with an ankle injury, the Colts worked to bring Cromartie in for a workout earlier Monday.

Last month, Cromartie denied rumors that a hip injury may end his career and made it clear that he wanted to continue playing. He started 15 games for the Jets last season, his 10th in the NFL. He’s also played for the Chargers and Cardinals.

Cromartie, 32, is a four-time Pro Bowler and has 31 career interceptions.

Colts Coach Chuck Pagano told reporters Monday that Davis is “week to week” with a medial ankle sprain and Patrick Robinson, the other listed starter, is “day to day” with a groin injury.

Permalink 19 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kubiak will pick his Week One starter next week

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos looks at the playbook during  a preseason NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos still have 17 days until they open the season against the Panthers. Coach Gary Kubiak won’t wait quite that long to pick a starting quarterback, even if at times it seems that he will.

Kubiak’s decision is coming next week.

“We have three quarterbacks, two of which weren’t on this team last year and one that has one regular-season snap,” coach Gary Kubiak told reporters on Monday. “I knew this was going to take some time. I think it’s a credit to them and how well they’ve pushed each other. It’s down to the nitty-gritty here. I’m going to make a decision next week and we’re going to go to work. They’ve all put themselves in position to go out there and compete.”

Although Trevor Siemian will start the third preseason game, that doesn’t mean he has the inside track to the job over Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch.

“[W]e’ll continue with the competition,” Kubiak said. “I think Trevor did a good job the other night. Obviously he has one play that he’d like to have back or it would have been as good as it could be. I’m going to go back and give him a chance to do that again but, like I said, we’re going to play them equally.”

A decision needs to come not long after the third preseason game because the Broncos need to plan for the fourth preseason game, in which the Week One starter surely won’t be playing.

“Our schedule is different because we are a Thursday opening football team,” Kubiak said. “I have a little bit different of a scenario that I’m working with as compared to opening up on a Sunday and having a 10-day window between [preseason] game four and the opener. I’ve seen a lot of football from them. We are going to go again this week, we’ll make a decision next week and go to work.”

The real question is how long the Week One starter actually gets to work before the No. 2 guy comes off the bench. It seems inevitable that whoever wins the job to start the season is destined to eventually lose it.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hall of Fame says suggestion of fraud is “totally baseless”

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 18:  Pro Football Hall of Fame President/Executive Director David Baker speaks during a half time presentation at the NFL game between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on October 18, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The lawyer representing the customers suing the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the cancellation of this year’s Hall of Fame Game believes that fraud occurred, with the powers-that-be specifically withholding information about the scuttling of the Colts-Packers game in order to keep fans on the premises of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for as long as possible, spending money on food and drinks and programs and souvenirs. The Hall of Fame disputes this contention.

“The Pro Football Hall of Fame regrets this year’s preseason game could not be played,” Hall of Fame V.P. of communications Pete Fierle said via email. “The focus was on the safety of players. The Hall of Fame promptly accepted responsibility and has offered to fairly compensate fans for their inconvenience. The implication that the Hall somehow defrauded fans in any way is totally baseless. Finally, I was with David Baker when he addressed both teams and can categorically deny the statement in your blog today that he used any profanity in addressing the teams or the situation.”

The last line refers to comments from Colts punter Pat McAfee, who characterized Baker’s message as, “This is gonna be a big f—-king problem.”

Still, the rest of McAfee’s message fits with the theory that information about the cancellation was kept from fans. Attorney Michael Avenatti has asked Hall of Fame president David Baker and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to keep their phones as part of an effort to preserve all electronic communications — including text messages that could prove, or disprove, the claim of fraud.

Avenatti will appear on Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio to discuss the situation. An invitation has been extended to Baker to do the same.

Permalink 31 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Michael Bennett on practice fights: There’s a code that has to be followed

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 (L) of the Seattle Seahawks is greeted by his younger brother  Martellus Bennett #83 of the Chicago Bears after the game at CenturyLink Field on September 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was kicked out of a practice for fighting with a teammate for the second time this summer when he and tackle Bradley Sowell got into it on Sunday.

The fight came after Bennett took issue with the way Sowell, who was also removed from the field, took defensive lineman Josh Shirley to the ground on a previous snap. Bennett said Monday that he thinks his role as a leader on defense involves calls for him to “stick up for the younger guys” and enforce a code that calls for teammates to show more respect for one another.

“It’s a whole new offensive line where before it was guys you had battled with for a long time, three-four years,” Bennett said, via the Seattle Times . “There is just a code in the NFL when it comes to injuries and conditioning and stuff like that. … There’s a code to where we have to find that fine line where it becomes about the person’s safety then it is about the game.”

Bennett’s words echo some of what coach Pete Carroll said on Sunday after the spat, particularly about “working to take it as far as you can and still respect the person across from you” without crossing the line that Bennett feels Sowell crossed on Sunday. Bennett and Sowell both said they talked after scuffling and have the respect for each other that Carroll wants, although it seems Bennett won’t be shy about expressing himself should anyone fail to follow the code in upcoming workouts.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Karlos Williams goes unclaimed on waivers

Karlos Williams Getty Images

No one wants Karlos Williams.

Williams, the talented running back who was cut by the Bills on Saturday, has passed through waivers unclaimed. That means all 31 other teams had the opportunity to pick Williams up for his very affordable salary as a 2015 fifth-round draft pick, and all 31 other teams declined.

That would have seemed shocking not long ago, as Williams has undeniable talent: As a rookie last year, Williams averaged 5.6 yards a carry and scored seven touchdowns.

But Williams has a number of off-field concerns: He had character red flags heading into last year’s draft, he reported for offseason work out of shape and overweight this year, and he will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Ultimately, NFL teams concluded that those issues make Williams more trouble than he’s worth. If he can keep himself out of trouble, he’s likely to get another opportunity at some point. For now, however, he’s an unrestricted free agent.

Permalink 28 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Todd Marinovich arrested for drugs, while naked in someone else’s yard

17 Aug 1991: Quarterback Todd Marinovich of the Los Angeles Raiders stands on the sideline during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won the game 13-10. Getty Images

It’s a damned good thing Marv Marinovich never let his son have a Big Mac.

According to Joshua Sudock of the Orange County Register, former NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich was arrested after police found him naked in someone else’s yard with drugs.

The 47-year-old former Raiders quarterback was cited for trespassing, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

The naked part apparently wasn’t illegal.

His father was famously strict on him growing up, banning all junk food as he tried to train a star quarterback. But while the younger Marinovich would go onto become a star at Southern California, his pro game never materialized, and he dealt with drug problems throughout his NFL career and beyond.

Permalink 74 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Belichick will follow new injury reporting rules, whatever they are

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline during the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) AP

The NFL has new injury reporting rules for 2016. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the man many fans regard as the master of misinformation when it comes to listing injuries, committed on Monday to honoring them. Even if he doesn’t know what they are yet.

“I haven’t read them yet but whatever they are we’ll follow them, whatever that happens to be,” Belichick told reporters on Monday.

It remains to be seen how the elimination of “probable” and the expansion of “questionable” and “doubtful” will impact the injury reports. For now, plenty of fantasy football players are freaking out about the potential for uncertainty — and plenty of news outlets will likely benefit from the uptick in interest as games approach and clarity emerges on whether an injured player will actually play.

So I guess I shouldn’t complain.

Regardless of how the new rules are adopted in practice, it’s safe to say that Belichick will examine ways to use the changes to his advantage. As he and every head coach should.

Permalink 58 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Trevor Siemian to start third Broncos preseason game

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Trevor Siemian of the Denver Broncos throws as he warms up before a preseason NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Trevor Siemian will get another chance to start a preseason game for the Broncos.

Coach Gary Kubiak announced Monday that Siemian will be the first man under center against the Rams in a game that has traditionally been used as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. That would suggest that Siemian has some edge in the starting quarterback competition in Denver.

There are some complications, however. Kubiak said that Siemian has a sore shoulder as a result of an attempted tackle he made after throwing an interception against the 49ers and that it’s not clear yet whether he’ll be able to practice on Tuesday.

Kubiak also said that he wants Siemian, Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch to play the same amount of time on Saturday night, but didn’t say whether Lynch or Sanchez would be the second quarterback into the game. Kubiak didn’t rule out any of the three winding up as the starter following the Rams game.

However things go on Saturday, Kubiak said he’ll pick a starter for Week One next week and bring an end to a competition unlike any conducted by a Super Bowl champ in recent memory.

Permalink 27 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Steelers player rep urges players to save money for a work stoppage

RAMON FOSTER ap AP

The Steelers have already lost two key players to suspensions via the league’s substance abuse issue.

But veteran guard Ramon Foster, the team’s representative to the NFL Players Association, said “there are bigger issues than pot,” though his frustration led him to urge players to begin saving money for a potential work stoppage after the 2020 season.

The Steelers will miss wide receiver Martavis Bryant for the entire season, but running back Le’Veon Bell’s suspension was just negotiated down from four games to three. It’s future negotiations Foster’s more worried about, however.

Hit them in the pocket. That way, money always talks,” Foster said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “For us to do that, we have to save on our end. We can’t be just blowing money and not realize what’s coming, especially with guys coming into the league now.”

That’s a bold statement — although with average careers shorter than four seasons, not all current players are going to have to worry about 2021 anyway.

Foster said players ought to be concerned with not only the league’s drug policy, but league control of punishments and post-career care and insurance are the kinds of things players need to be aware of as well.

And he cautioned players to be better prepared financially if they’re locked out, as happened after the 2010 season.

“It’s coming. They’ve hired certain people on their legal team, the NFL has, and we have to be the type of players and union that’s not borrowing money from banks and stuff like that to survive a lockout, a strike,” Foster said. “That can’t happen this time around. We have to be smarter this time around because there are a lot of things we’re going to be fighting for and a lot of things they are going to want and we’re going to want, too.”

There’s a significant difference between a strike and a lockout, and Foster’s other words are will clearly be heard as a threat by management. And the fact the threats are starting now can’t be a good sign.

Permalink 61 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

With Vontae Davis injured, Colts will work out Cromartie

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 01:  Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets warms up prior to playing the Oakland Raiders in their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on November 1, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts are scrambling to find healthy defensive backs, and Stephen Holder of the Indy Star reported Monday that the team plans to have Antonio Cromartie in for a workout.

At least four Colts cornerbacks are currently battling injury issues. Colts Coach Chuck Pagano told reporters Monday that his team’s cornerback situation is “not pretty. Scary right now.”

Pagano said Vontae Davis, the team’s No. 1 cornerback, is “week to week” with an ankle issue. Offseason free agent pickup Patrick Robinson is also “day to day,” Pagano said.

Cromartie, 32, started 15 games for the Jets last season and all 16 the previous season for the Cardinals. He has 33 interceptions in 158 career games.

Last month, Cromartie denied rumors that a hip injury may end his career and said he was hopeful he would catch on with a team before the start of the regular season.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ben Roethlisberger “wouldn’t mind” getting hit this week

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 12:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the game against the Detroit Lions on August 12, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers have kept quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and other key members of their offense out of the first two preseason games this summer, but Roethlisberger expects that to change this week.

The third preseason game is often referred to as a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, so it stands to reason that a player who will be center stage come Week One would get some playing time against the Saints.

“I feel like I could go into the regular season and do it, but I’d like to be out there because it’s a different speed,” Roethlisberger said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “You want to get out there. I wouldn’t even mind getting hit once maybe after the ball’s gone, just a little tap from someone.”

Wide receiver Antonio Brown has shared space on the sideline with Roethlisberger the last two weeks and shares the quarterback’s desire to “get the feel of the game.” Running backs Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams and wide receiver Markus Wheaton have also been on the inactive list, although Wheaton returned to practice last week after missing time with an undisclosed injury.

Permalink 41 Comments Feed for comments Back to top