Brent Musburger: Jon Gruden’s career was ended by a “paid assassin”

Chicago Bears v Las Vegas Raiders
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The Jon Gruden lawsuit against the league continues to reside in the window between the filing of the complaint and the first move by the NFL in response to it. For now, the void has been filled by Brent Musburger, who handled the radio call of the Raiders’ games.

“As I told Coach, whoever took you out, Jon, that was a paid assassin,” Musburger told J.T. The Brick of the Las Vegas Sports Network. “That was one of the best hit jobs that I’ve ever been around. They didn’t go to their media goombahs. They didn’t leak this to Adam Schefter or one of those guys that breaks stories. They first went to the Wall Street Journal. And when Gruden was still coaching after that, then they dumped the rest of it on the New York Times. That was a professional hit job.”

Musburger opened the door to the possibility that the hit didn’t come from the league office.

“There was a second lawsuit involved, OK?” Musburger said. “Between the owner, [Daniel] Snyder of Washington, and a former General Manager. And that means that a lot of outside people had access to those emails that they were going through. So I think the hardest part for Gruden’s lawyers to prove is that somebody from the National Football League actually leaked that. Because if it is somebody from the NFL, shame on them. Because Mark Davis should have been told in the summer, when he had something to do about it.”

From Gruden’s perspective, it may not matter whether it was the league office or someone from the Washington Football Team. Not many people had access to the emails that were leaked to the media. And even though Gruden won’t be able to compel the publications to out their sources, Gruden will be able through discovery to attempt to reconstruct the electronic trail that led from the NFL and/or the Washington Football Team to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

As previously explained, Gruden may not have to ultimately prove that someone deliberately targeted him. The mere fact that a small subset of the documents that the league professes to so carefully protect made their way to a pair of major publications shows that something happened that should not have happened. And that either someone did it intentionally, or that someone negligently failed to safeguard these sensitive materials.

Finally, remember this. Even though some of the emails were involved in litigation between Snyder and Bruce Allen from months earlier, the leaks happened in the same week that the NFL decided to send a packet of Gruden emails to the Raiders. Common sense points to someone within the small universe of people who were involved in gathering the Gruden emails and deciding how to best handle them. It’s also possible that the leak happened not because someone who had access to the emails went rogue, but because someone ordered a figurative Code Red against Gruden.

Alvin Kamara, officially questionable with a knee injury, currently is not expected to play

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints
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There’s hope that the Saints will have the most important player on their offense for Thursday night’s game against the Cowboys. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the current expectation is that running back Alvin Kamara will not play.

Officially questionable with a lingering knee injury, Kamara is expected to miss what will be his fourth straight game.

That’s not a certainty. Nothing becomes official until 90 minutes before kickoff, when Kamara is — or isn’t — on the list of inactive players. For now, however, the thinking is that Kamara will not play.

Kamara was a limited participant in practice all week long. Running back Mark Ingram, who missed the Week 12 loss to the Bills with his own knee injury, fully participated all week and has no designation, which means he’ll definitely play.

In eight games played this season, Kamara has 530 rushing yards, 310 receiving yards, and seven total touchdowns.

Robert Griffin III hints that he was a victim of sexual harassment in Washington

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Earlier today, we attempted to reconcile the intention of former Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III to sell a book that delves into, among other things, the sexual harassment issues within the franchise with his failure to say anything about what he knows either in the past or in the present, given that the issue continues to be the subject of intense public curiosity — and a Congressional investigation.

In response to our tweet on the issue, Griffin said this: “Sexual harassment victims should share their stories when they are ready not when you want them to. The book is not about other people’s experiences with sexual harassment in Washington. It’s about my experience with sexual harassment in Washington. Hopefully you will listen.”

That comment creates the impression that Griffin is a victim of sexual harassment, not a witness to it. So we sought further clarification in response to his tweet. He has not replied.

He has, however, retweeted this tweet from his wife: “Let’s clear up a misconception about ‘Surviving Washington.’ In the book, Robert is not talking about other peoples experiences with sexual harassment in Washington. He is talking about his OWN experience with sexual harassment in Washington.”

Again, this creates the impression that Griffin was a victim, not a witness.

His co-author, Gary Myers, said this to the Washington Post on the issue of sexual harassment: “He heard things, didn’t witness . . .  a lot of what came out in those Washington Post stories.”

Also, Griffin said this in his online video announcing the book: “I’m gonna open your eyes to the sexual harassment that permeated the walls of that building.”

While sexual harassment victims clearly have the right to share their stories when they are ready, it’s fair to ask whether he’s actually a victim, and whether he’s deliberately being coy about this subject in order to sell books. Especially since he has yet to say with true clarity that he was indeed a victim of sexual harassment.

It’s not unprecedented for men to be victims of sexual harassment, obviously. As it relates to the reported culture of the Washington Football Team, however, the notion that a male employee was harassed sexually would dramatically change the existing perception/reality that women were the exclusive victims.

At this point, all we can do it wait for Griffin’s actual story to emerge, either when the book is published or when advance copies make their rounds, in the months preceding official publication. Was he a victim, a witness, or something else? We’ll find out no later than August 2022.

Melvin Gordon among six Broncos who sat out Wednesday’s practice

Denver Broncos vs Los Angles Chargers.
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Broncos running back Melvin Gordon was one of six Broncos who didn’t practice Wednesday.

Gordon played only 26 of 62 offensive snaps Sunday.

The Broncos list him with shoulder and hip injuries. He was on the injury report with the shoulder injury the past two weeks but had full participation in all six of those practices in Weeks 11 and 12.

Tackle Calvin Anderson (ankle/knee), tight end Eric Saubert (ankle), guard Dalton Risner (back), cornerback Ronald Darby (illness) and defensive end Shelby Harris (ankle) also missed Wednesday’s session.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio said he expects several of those players to return Thursday. Anderson, though, will miss 2-4 weeks with his injury, Fangio said.

Safety Kareem Jackson, who missed Sunday’s win over the Chargers, was a limited participant.

Tackle Bobby Massie, who has not played since Week 9, also practiced on a limited basis. Guard Quinn Meinerz (knee), linebacker Baron Browning (back), receiver Tyrie Cleveland (hamstring) and outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (ankle) were the others who were limited.

Tackle Garett Bolles, who is on the COVID-19 reserve list, is expected back to the team facility on Thursday. Bolles injured his ankle in Week 8, but Fangio expressed optimism that Bolles’ injury has healed.

Safety Caden Sterns (shoulder), nose tackle Mike Purcell (thumb) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (tibia) were listed as full participants Wednesday.

David Culley maintains faith in Tim Kelly

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The Texans have not scored more than 22 points in a game this season. They rank last in the NFL in yards per game and points per game.

Houston gained only 202 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Jets, who entered the game last in defense and last against the pass.

Texans head coach David Culley was adamant that he is not considering replacing Tim Kelly as play caller.

“I’d like to see our whole offense do better, (and) me as a head coach do better in getting things the way it should be,” Culley said, via Brooks Kubena of the Houston Chronicle. “There’s no question about our play calling. It’s (lack of success) the fact that we’re not doing what we need to do when the play’s called.”

Kelly wasn’t questioned last season when he had Deshaun Watson as his quarterback. He has had Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills this season.

Raiders sign long snapper Carson Tinker

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Philadelphia Eagles
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The Raiders placed long snapper Trent Sieg on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday. Sieg, who has played 58 consecutive games, is not likely to play Sunday after testing positive for the virus.

Thus, the Raiders were in need of a long snapper.

They announced Wednesday they signed Carson Tinker.

“We had a couple options, a couple different guys, and he played recently, played in over 70 games,” Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said of Tinker, via Levi Damien of USA Today. “He’s got a lot of experience, and I think he played as recently as three weeks ago, so we’re fortunate we can get him in here. He passed all the protocol and he had a good day today, and he’ll be a little bit better tomorrow. So, we’re glad to have him right now.”

Tinker played eight games for the Bucs this season, most recently in Week 10. He spent six seasons with the Jaguars, and has appeared in 77 career games.

Cardinals are undefeated on the road, with every win by double-digit margins

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks
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The Cardinals are closing in on an unprecedented season of dominance in road games.

Arizona is 6-0 on the road this season, and all six wins are by double-digit margins. If they beat the Bears by double digits on Sunday, they’ll become just the third team in NFL history to win seven straight road games by double digits in one season. (The others were the 1984 49ers and 1968 Cowboys.)

No team has ever won eight in a row by double digits on the road, but the Cardinals have a great chance: After the Bears on Sunday, the Cardinals’ next road game is at Detroit, and they’ll likely be double-digit favorites against the Lions.

The Cardinals’ final road game of the season is at Dallas. Beating the Cowboys by double digits won’t be easy, but if the Cardinals can do it, a 9-0 road record with all the wins by 10 or more points would qualify as the greatest road performance in NFL history. (Granted, only with this year’s 17-game seasons have teams had the opportunity to win nine road games.)

Although the Cardinals’ road record is impressive, it’s worth noting that they’re achieving it in a much easier environment for road teams: Home-field advantage has disappeared in the NFL, with home teams going 89-89-1 this year after going 127-128-1 last year. In an NFL where home-field advantage no longer exists, it’s unsurprising that a good team like the Cardinals can win on the road like no team ever before.

Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal enters NFL draft

Texas A&M and Georgia Bulldogs
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Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal will forgo his final college season to enter the NFL draft. Leal announced his decision on his Instagram account.

“It is with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I’m humbled to officially announce that I am declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft,” Leal wrote. “My time in Aggieland was cut short, but I will always cherish my time at Texas A&M and look forward to moving into the next phase of my life a better man.”

Leal made 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss this season.

In his three-year career, Leal totaled 133 tackles, including 25 for loss, and 13 sacks.

Leal is projected as a late first-round choice.

Jalen Hurts limited in Wednesday’s practice

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants
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Jalen Hurts said Wednesday he is “ready to go” for Sunday, but it’s probably good he has a few more days before the game against the Jets.

The Eagles quarterback was limited in Wednesday’s walkthrough.

He sprained his ankle when he had his foot stepped on against the Giants.

“You guys obviously know I’m dealing with a little something, but it’s business as usual,” Hurts said Wednesday, via Tim McManus of ESPN.

Hurts threw three interceptions and posted a 17.5 passer rating Sunday in one of the worst performances of his career. The Eagles scored only seven points.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said Hurts is “hungry to get out there again and to redeem himself from a performance that wasn’t up to his standard.”

“He’s as tough as they get. Obviously, you want that out of your quarterback,” Sirianni said. “So, yeah, I mean, in my mind, he’s playing, right? Again, like I said, we’re hopeful. I think, in his and my mind, we’re both saying, ‘Yeah, he’s going.'”

Gardner Minshew is the Eagles’ backup quarterback.

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (resting player, back), running back Jordan Howard (knee), running back Boston Scott (illness) and receiver DeVonta Smith (illness) did not practice Wednesday.

Defensive end Derek Barnett (ribs), linebacker T.J. Edwards (ankle), defensive end Tarron Jackson (neck), right tackle Lane Johnson (resting player), center Jason Kelce (resting player, knee), running back Miles Sanders (ankle) and defensive end Josh Sweat (knee) were limited.

Odell Beckham Jr. limited by hip injury in practice

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Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught his first touchdown as a member of the Rams last Sunday and he also picked up an injury.

Beckham was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice due to a hip pointer injury. Head coach Sean McVay said on Monday that he does not think the injury is going to affect Beckham’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.

Beckham had five catches for 81 yards overall last Sunday and McVay said he’s happy with how the wideout is progressing in the offense.

“He did a nice job,” McVay said, via Skyler Carlin of “I continue to say it but for him to be able to play as many snaps and do as many different things as he is on such a short amount of time that we’ve been together — I think it’s a real credit to his football acumen and how smart he is.”

Running back Darrell Henderson (quad) and cornerback David Long (illness) did not practice Wednesday. Wide receiver Ben Skowronek (back) was limited.

Darren Waller out of Raiders practice, DeSean Jackson limited

Las Vegas Raiders v Dallas Cowboys
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Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said that tight end Darren Waller avoided a major knee injury last Thursday, but that the team would have to see how he does this week before knowing whether he’ll miss this weekend’s game against Washington.

The first signs aren’t great for Waller’s availability. He did not take part in practice on Wednesday and that will likely have to change at some point in the next two days if he’s going to play on Sunday.

Another one of Derek Carr‘s targets is also on the injury report. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who had three catches for 102 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving, is listed as limited with a calf injury.

Defensive end Carl Nassib (knee) and linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (hamstring) were out of practice. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle) and cornerback Keisean Nixon (ankle) were the only other limited participants.

Report: Taysom Hill will start against Cowboys on Thursday night

Miami Dolphins v New Orleans Saints
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During his news conference Tuesday, Sean Payton didn’t commit to Taysom Hill starting at quarterback Thursday night. Payton, though, apparently has seen enough this week to know Hill is good to go.

Hill was a full participant in all three practices this week, taking the first-team reps, and he does not have a designation.

Hill will start against the Cowboys, Mike Triplett of ESPN reports.

Hill becomes the third quarterback to start for the Saints this season, following Jameis Winston and Trevor Siemian. Winston started the first seven games, and the Saints went 5-2 before his season-ending knee injury. The Saints did not win any of Siemian’s four starts, and they enter Thursday night on a four-game losing streak and in a must-win situation to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Hill dressed the past two weeks as Siemian’s emergency backup but did not play as he worked his way back from a foot injury. Hill partially tore his plantar fascia.

He has not played since Week 10.

Hill hasn’t started at quarterback since Dec. 13, 2020, his final start in Drew Brees’ four-game absence. Hill went 3-1 while Brees was injured.

Seahawks sign Adrian Peterson to practice squad

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Running back Adrian Peterson’s visit with the Seahawks went well.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said at his Wednesday press conference that Peterson has signed to the Seattle practice squad. Carroll joked that he’s been trying to land Peterson on his team since he was coaching the University of Southern California.

“We didn’t get him back in the day but like I just told him we finally got him,” Carroll said, via Curtis Crabtree of PFT and KJR.

Peterson was cut by the Titans a little more than a week ago. He ran 27 times for 82 yards and a touchdown in three games for Tennessee.

The Seahawks lost Chris Carson for the year to a neck injury and they currently have Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer dealing with injuries.

Patriots place Kyle Dugger on COVID-19 reserve list

NFL: NOV 28 Titans at Patriots
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Safety Kyle Dugger may not be available when the Patriots face the Bills on Monday night.

The Patriots put Dugger on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday. Reports indicate Dugger tested positive, so he’ll only have a shot of playing if he’s vaccinated and has two negative tests taken 24 hours apart.

Dugger has 80 tackles, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery in 12 games this season. He joins J.J. Taylor on New England’s COVID-19 reserve list.

Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips join Dugger as safeties who have seen a lot of time in the Patriots defense this season. Chances are that the Patriots will have to look for others to step in against Buffalo.

Bucs place Aaron Stinnie on injured reserve

NFL: NOV 22 Giants at Buccaneers
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The Buccaneers announced Wednesday they placed offensive guard Aaron Stinnie on injured reserve. Stinnie injured his knee in Sunday’s victory over the Colts.

Stinnie started at left guard in place of injured starter Ali Marpet, leaving first-year player Nick Leverett to play the final 57 offensive snaps after Sinnie’s departure.

Stinnie is required to miss at least three games before becoming eligible to return, but coach Bruce Arians described Stinnie’s injury as longer term than that.

As the team’s primary backup at both guard spots, Stinnie was active for the first 11 games this season. He saw action in five games.

Last season, Stinnie replaced injured right guard Alex Cappa and started three postseason games, including Super Bowl LV.

The Bucs currently have eight offensive linemen on their active roster, with Josh Wells serving as the swing tackle and Leverett and Robert Hainsey backing up the interior spots. Tampa Bay also has guard John Molchon and tackle Brandon Walton on the practice squad, though neither has any regular-season game experience.

Tampa Bay did not announce a corresponding move, so the Bucs’ roster stands at 52 players.