Skip to content

Cam Newton takes NFC offensive player of the week

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers does The Dab after a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cam Newton and Jameis Winston each threw five touchdown passes last week, but it seems Winston may not be old enough to win NFC offensive player of the week yet.

Newton took the honors for Week 11 over the Buccaneers rookie, which makes him a five-time winner of the award and a two-time winner this season. The Panthers quarterback also took the honors for Week Nine.

Newton was 21-of-34 for 246 yards in the 44-16 rout of the Redskins that moved the Panthers to 10-0 this season. Newton’s five touchdowns went to five different receivers as he continued to show progress as a pocket passer despite playing with a receiving corps that no one would rank among the best in the league.

Newton and the Panthers will try for an 11th straight win in Dallas on Thanksgiving. If Carolina wins, they could wind up clinching a playoff spot by the time the weekend is over with the right combination of losses by other NFC teams.

Permalink 35 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jaguars, Rams, Bengals to play London “home” games

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptu3nwvkogu2mgu3yzuznzg0yzrmmdizymzhywm1yte3 AP

The Jaguars, Rams and Bengals will play so-called “home” games in London next season, the NFL announced today.

The Jaguars will “host” the Colts on October 2, 2016 at Wembley Stadium, part of the Jaguars’ annual commitment to play at least one game in London.

The Rams will “host” the NFC East team that finishes in the same spot in the standings as the Rams do in their division. That game will take place on October 23 at Twickenham Stadium, the rugby stadium that will be hosting an NFL game for the first time. It won’t be known until the end of the season which NFC East team that will be, and it’s also unclear right now whether the Rams will be giving up a St. Louis home game or a Los Angeles home game.

The Bengals will “host” Washington on October 30 at Wembley Stadium. It’s the first time Cincinnati has given up a home game. It could also make Washington the first team to play back-to-back games in London, if Washington and St. Louis end up in the same place in their respective divisions.

The NFL has not yet announced the kickoff times for the three games. This year, every NFL game in London kicked off at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The league also may play a fourth International Series game. That might mean playing in Mexico City, or a fourth game in London.

Permalink 77 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Greg Hardy told ex-teammate he wants to prove Panthers wrong

Greg Hardy AP

Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy has declared the Panthers “a nameless, faceless opponent” this week, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have their phone numbers.

Some of the old teammates he left behind in Carolina said they still keep in touch with the controversial defensive end, who they’ll see in person on Thursday.

Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, fullback Mike Tolbert said he talks to Hardy “all the time.”

“He’s very excited just to prove to everybody, especially the Panthers, that he still can play and it was a mistake letting him go,” Tolbert said of a recent text from Hardy.

Of course, if Hardy thinks his being shown the door was football related, then he’s as delusional as a guy who thinks he’s the victim regarding his domestic violence arrest and subsequent suspension.

Isolating his play on the field, Hardy was a beast his last few years in Carolina (26.0 sacks in his final two full seasons there), and was generally liked in the locker room such that he had a presence there. He was quirky, for sure, and got a wide berth. So when it was time to make a decision on his future, some players lobbied for him to return.

“Greg Hardy is a guy that you flat out want on your football team,” Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said. “He’s a guy that’s a game-changer. He can go out and totally wreck a game plan if you allow him to.

“So of course we went and spoke up for him trying to get him back. But a few details came out with his whole situation and unfortunately we weren’t able to get him back.”

Yes, a few details, a list of which the Cowboys are sorting through and receiving the backlash for now. And while Hardy is a rare pass-rush talent, the Panthers are doing pretty well without him at the moment, which is why they’re willing say nice things and move along.

“He did some good things for us as a football player,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said when asked to sum up his experience with Hardy.

And the things he didn’t say spoke volumes.

Permalink 68 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Matt Forte says he’s playing on Thursday

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: at Soldier Field on November 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears have played the last three games without running back Matt Forte, but it sounds like they can add his return to their list of things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving night.

Forte has been practicing for a while and said Tuesday that he’s ready to take the next step by returning to the lineup at Lambeau Field to face the Packers. Forte said he could have played last Sunday, but the quick turnaround this week made waiting the more sensible choice.

“I’m excited just to get back out there,” Forte said, via “Not really a lot of fun watching the games and doing all that and not be able to help your team win, so I’m not really used to doing that. But it’s going to be fun to get back out there on the field and help us out. Just looking forward to being out there.”

Rookie Jeremy Langford has been filling in for Forte and put up strong numbers in the first two outings before finding rougher going against the Broncos last Sunday. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase said having both backs will give the offense a “really interesting one-two punch” and we’ll get a first chance to see it over a slice of pumpkin pie.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rams statement: Stedman Bailey in “critical, but stable, condition”

Stedman Bailey Getty Images

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey was shot Tuesday night in Miami and remains in the hospital following the incident.

The team released a statement just after midnight EST.

“We are aware Stedman Bailey was involved in an incident this evening,” the team said in a statement. “We have spoken with Stedman and he is in the hospital in critical, but stable, condition. We are gathering facts about the situation and will provide updates as we learn more.”

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Bailey was shot twice in the head while sitting in a car with several family members. The driver of the car was shot many times while shielding the children in the vehicle from the gunfire. His wounds are apparently life-threatening.

Bailey will have surgery tomorrow to tend to his injuries.

Bailey is currently in the middle of a four-game suspension for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. He has 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown this season for St. Louis.

Permalink 59 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Source: Stedman Bailey has been shot

Lance Kendricks, Stedman Bailey AP

Rams receiver Stedman Bailey was shot Tuesday evening in Miami. A league source with knowledge of the situation has confirmed to PFT that rampant rumors of the incident are indeed true.

Per the source, a statement from the Rams is expected within the next hour or so. The source was unable to confirm at this point any specific details regarding Bailey’s condition.

Bailey played college football at West Virginia. He was a third-round pick of the Rams in 2013.

UPDATE 12:28 a.m. ET: Mike Silver of reports that Bailey suffered a head wound that is not considered to be life threatening. Per Silver, Bailey is scheduled to undergo surgery in the morning.

Permalink 28 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Peyton Manning, in a walking cast, will miss “at least” the next two weeks

Peyton Manning AP

Brock Osweiler gets a minimum of two more games to prove himself in Denver.

According to the Broncos, Dr. Robert Anderson advised quarterback Peyton Manning to spend the next week or more in a walking cast. After removal of the case, rehab on the injured foot will continue. He reportedly has a partially torn plantar fascia tendon in his foot.

“Peyton and I had a good visit today, and we’ve got a plan in place for his recovery,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “His foot will be in a cast for at least a week, but he’ll be able to be part of meetings and do some workouts with the rest of the team.

“We expect him to be unavailable for at least a couple of games. We’ll proceed from there and will continue to support him as he does everything he can to get healthy.”

It means Manning will miss Sunday’s game against the Patriots (which we already knew) and the following Sunday’s game at San Diego. The “at least” implies he could miss more games, such as Week 13 against Oakland and Week 14 at Pittsburgh.

Kubiak said last week that Manning will return as the starter when he’s healthy. On Monday, Kubiak said the team would take it week by week. Now, it’s settled for at least two weeks.

Depending on what Osweiler does over the next two games, it’s possible Manning’s health won’t matter.

Permalink 68 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Patriots, Panthers can clinch playoff spots this week

New England Patriots v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The NFL playoff picture usually doesn’t start to take shape until December, but the 10-0 Patriots and 10-0 Panthers both have the opportunity to clinch playoff berths on Sunday.

The Patriots clinch the AFC East if they beat the Broncos on Sunday night and the Jets lose to the Dolphins. And the Patriots could even clinch the AFC East before Sunday night’s kickoff, if the Jets lose to the Dolphins and the Bills lose to the Chiefs.

If the Jets beat the Dolphins the Patriots can’t clinch the division, but the Patriots can still clinch a playoff berth if they win and the Chiefs lose, or the Patriots win and both the Steelers and Bengals lose.

The Panthers can’t clinch their division this week, but they can clinch a playoff spot if they beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and one of the following three things happens:

1. The Seahawks and Buccaneers lose, or
2. The Seahawks and Falcons lose, or
3. The Buccaneers, Vikings and Cardinals all lose.

There are also some clinching scenarios that involve tie games this week, but those are too unlikely to bother with here. Bottom line, the Patriots and Panthers are close to the postseason, and may get there officially this weekend.

Permalink 56 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lane Johnson apologizes for criticizing Philly fans

Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson issued an apology after criticizing Philadelphia fans for not being more supportive of the team.

Johnson was asked today about the home fans booing the Eagles during Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, and he responded that the Eagles don’t have a home-field advantage because the fans don’t get behind them.

“If we get down by any significant amount of points or we don’t make any first downs, we’re going to get booed. That’s just kind of how it is. It’s not really home field advantage playing here anymore. Really, that’s the truth. Cats here, they really don’t care,” Johnson said.

As is usually the case when an athlete criticizes the fans, that didn’t go over well. So Johnson wrote on Twitter that he shouldn’t have said it.

“My comment about the fans was out of line and I apologize,” Johnson wrote. “I’m just frustrated like they are about our performance on the field. The bottom line is that we need to give them a reason to cheer by scoring and winning games. We need to EARN that home field advantage and I know that. Our fans deserve better. The Linc can rock and that’s on us to make it happen.”

If the Eagles want more support from the fans, complaining about the fans is the wrong way to make it happen. The right way is to start winning games.

Permalink 64 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kaepernick has surgery, with 4-6 month recovery time

Clay Matthews, Colin Kaepernick AP

As expected, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has undergone surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. Via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, the damage to Kaepernick’s labrum was “extensive.”

Barrows also reports that Kaepernick’s recovery is expected to take four to six months. In little more than four months, April 1 arrives — the day on which Kaepernick’s $11.9 million salary for 2016 switches from being guaranteed for injury only to being fully guaranteed.

It means that the 49ers could have an even harder time trading Kaepernick (it already wasn’t going to be easy), and that they may have to cut him before he’s fully cleared, hopeful that he’ll eventually become healthy prior to Week One, at which time he’d be entitled to still collect paychecks if he remains injured.

Some have suggested that Kaepernick gets the $11.9 million if he can’t pass a physical before April 1. And while Kaepernick’s camp may indeed make that argument as part of a grievance that would be filed if Kaepernick is cut before he’s healthy, the more likely outcome is that Kaepernick would get money guaranteed for injury only if he can’t pass a physical before Week One of the 2016 regular season.

Either way, it’s hard to imagine Kaepernick playing for the 49ers in 2016.

Permalink 45 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Browns announce Josh McCown to start, Johnny Manziel third

Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel AP

After giving him a chance to prove himself the rest of the season, the Browns have now taken that chance away from Johnny Manziel.

The team announced that Josh McCown would return to the starting lineup this week, and the Manziel would be the third quarterback behind Austin Davis, after video emerged of him partying over the bye week.

Pettine said after consulting with his coaching staff, and talking to General Manager Ray Farmer and owner Jimmy Haslam, he told the players involved of his decision.

Everyone in this organization wants what is best for Johnny just like we do for every player in our locker room,” Pettine said in a statement from the team. “I’m especially disappointed in his actions and behavior because he has been working very hard. The improvements from last year to this year have been tremendous but he still has to consistently demonstrate that he has gained a good understanding of what it takes to be successful at the quarterback position on this level. It goes well beyond the field.

“We are going to continue to support him in every way possible, but at this point, we’ve decided it’s best to go with Josh as the starter going forward.”

McCown has been hurt lately, but that’s not really why they went to Manziel, since their season was shot and they had a former first-rounder they weren’t sure was ready to play.

They still don’t know.

Permalink 154 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Officials’ histories may explain their blown calls on Monday night

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptrkzjkwzdrlmza1n2ixoty4otljogi5nwm1mthizwqw AP

The two officials who are being widely criticized today for blown calls last night both have work histories that may help to explain why they made those big mistakes.

The first blown call was the inadvertent whistle by line judge Gary Arthur. As noted by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Arthur has just recently returned from suffering a broken collarbone, broken ribs and a collapsed lung in a sideline collision during a Week One game. On Monday night, Arthur nearly collided with Bills coach Rex Ryan on the sideline just before he blew the whistle. It wouldn’t be surprising if Arthur is a little skittish about sideline collisions after the injuries he suffered, and he blew the whistle as soon as he sensed he was about to run into someone on the sideline.

The second blown call was on the last play of the game, which shouldn’t have been the last play of the game. Bills receiver Sammy Watkins fell down and rolled out of bounds with two seconds left, where the clock should have stopped. But head linesman Ed Walker ruled that Watkins gave himself up inbounds. Walker has only worked for a year and a half in the NFL after a long career as a college football official, and the rules in college football are different: Winding the clock would have been the correct call if a college player had done what Watkins did. Walker apparently forgot the difference between the NFL rule and the college rule, costing the Bills a final play in the process.

It’s useful to identify the reasons that mistakes are made — not because anything can be done to change the bad calls after the fact, but so the league can work to prevent bad calls in the future. The league should do more to make sure officials coming back from injuries are really ready to return, and do more to make sure officials understand all the rules differences when they move from college to the NFL.

Permalink 127 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Pettine tired of Manziel incidents, won’t say he remains Browns’ starter

Johnny Manziel AP

The Browns returned to work Tuesday, which means reporters asked coach Mike Pettine about Johnny Manziel’s weekend away from the team.

This has happened before. And this time, Pettine’s answer was “disappointing. Very.”

Pettine said the organization is concerned about Manziel’s “repeated pattern of behavior” and will discuss the latest incident and that pattern later on Tuesday. Pettine said he didn’t want to make a “knee jerk” reaction but also said he can’t say now if Manziel will start at quarterback for the Browns next Monday vs. the Ravens.

The team named Manziel the starter for the rest of the season last week.

The website Busted Coverage first posted about Manziel’s night out in Austin, Tex., on Monday afternoon. Busted Coverage had pictures and videos it says were taken last Friday.

Manziel vowed last week not to be “an embarrassment or a distraction” for the Browns during his bye week.

Manziel spent almost three months in rehab for an undisclosed issue starting last January. Last month he was back in the news after police were called to a roadside argument between Manziel and his girlfriend; no charges were filed and the NFL also declined to discipline him.

Maybe Pettine and the Browns have had enough. Stay tuned.

Permalink 152 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lovie: Re-signing Doug Martin is a priority

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 22:  Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates his first down in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 22, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

When faced with a decision about picking up the $5.6 million fifth-year option on running back Doug Martin’s contract, the Buccaneers opted not to pull the trigger.

Two years of injuries and middling production influenced that decision, but Martin has turned things around this year. He’s been in the lineup for all 10 games and ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards after going off for 235 yards in last Sunday’s rout of the Eagles.

On Monday, coach Lovie Smith addressed Martin’s possible free agency and said that the Bucs will make holding onto their 2012 first-round pick a priority.

“Is Doug Martin a priority? I can say that, yeah, he definitely is,’’ Smith said, via the Tampa Tribune. “I don’t think Doug came into the season thinking he wasn’t wanted around here. It’s the complete opposite of that. And we have put him in a position to have the type of year he’s having right now. So, I think it’s all good. If I’m Doug Martin, I’m pretty happy I didn’t sign a contract before and I like the position I’m in right now.”

It’s hard to argue with Smith’s take on Martin’s position. Players don’t tend to like the franchise tag, but getting it would guarantee him more money in 2016 than he would have made with the option and it sets a higher floor to use in discussions of a long-term deal with the Buccaneers as well. He’d also be part of a team that is using him well this season and taking strides offensively offensively overall with the arrival of Jameis Winston, both of which might be more appealing than starting over somewhere else.

Permalink 21 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Steratore says Watkins “gave himself up” on final play

092712_nfl-ref_400 Getty Images

Thanks to last night’s inadvertent whistle at Gillette Stadium, another potentially significant officiating gaffe has received far less attention.

It came on what turned out to be the last play of regulation, with the Bills down by seven and trying to get in position for a last-ditch, Hail Mary heave to the end zone. It appeared they’d get it, with quarterback Tyrod Taylor completing a 16-yard pass to receiver Sammy Watkins, who hit the deck and rolled out of bounds at the Buffalo 48, apparently with two seconds on the clock.

But then an official did the arm-crank thing, keeping the clock running and ending the game.

It was, from ESPN’s perspective, another poorly-discussed, late-game snafu, with Mike Tirico pointing out the curiosity before the broadcast ended, but with no explanation from Gerry Austin or anyone else regarding why it was or wasn’t the appropriate decision to end the game.

Afterward, referee Gene Steratore addressed the decision to keep the clock running through the rarely-seen creature known as a “pool report.”

“What we had as far as the last play with Buffalo’s reception was that the receiver gave himself up voluntarily in the field of play,” Steratore said. “When that occurs and we deem that the runner, which he would have been after he maintained possession after his reception, he was now a runner, had given himself up in the field of play. Then fact that he scoots out of bounds is not as important. We wound the clock. It was a judgment call by that head linesman that he felt like he gave himself up in the field of play. It’s not a reviewable play. So winding the clock or stopping the clock is not something we review. So, in his judgment, he deemed that the runner gave himself up in the field of play voluntarily, which does put him down by contact in the field, so he wound [the clock].”

Steratore’s explanation makes sense, as long as the circumstances of the play are ignored. Watkins wasn’t “giving himself up”; he was trying to get out of bounds before being touched. Without the time to stand up and step over the white line, he did the best he could to get out of the field of play.

While it may have been a “judgment call” by the official, the end result reflected poorly-formulated judgment. Which means that this is the kind of call that should be reviewable for a clear error in the exercise of that judgment.

And not through a five-minute, product-placement, dog-and-pony show. This is precisely the kind of situation where an official calling the game in real time from a box above the field should have the power to buzz Steratore and say, “Your guy screwed up. Fix it. Now.”

Until the NFL embraces such fundamental changes to the way a game is officiated, the divide between the folks at home who know what happened and the people in black-and-white stripes who don’t will only get wider and wider.

Permalink 194 Comments Feed for comments Back to top