Richard Sherman gets to the heart of the Colin Kaepernick situation

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While fans may hate Colin Kaepernick because he didn’t stand for the national anthem in 2016, the NFL has shunned him for a fundamentally different reason. Indeed, plenty of other players didn’t stand for the anthem during the 2016 season, and most of them remain gainfully employed.

They remain gainfully employed because none of them became the name and face of the movement. Kaepernick did, and he’s the one paying for it with his career.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has become the highest-profile player to recognize this hiding-in-plain-sight reality, in comments to Jarrett Bell of USA Today.

“What is it about?” Sherman said. “It’s not about football or color. It’s about, ‘Boy, stay in your place.’”

Bingo.

“Not a lot of guys are willing to step out there,” Sherman added. “So the guys not speaking up for him are doing him a disservice. There should be a lot more guys saying something. Most guys are like, ‘I don’t want my job to end up the same way.'”

Sherman told Bell that Kaepernick would have been a great fit in Seattle, but the Seahawks decided not to sign him. At least the Seahawks didn’t engage in an awkward, clumsy, slow-motion crowdsourcing exercise aimed at determining whether fans and sponsors would revolt before deciding whether to offer him a job.

“For you to say you have to check with sponsors and fans because this guy took a knee and made a statement?” Sherman said regarding the Ravens’ apparently ongoing deliberations. “Now if you told me this guy threw eight pick-sixes last year and played like a bum, had no talent, that’s one thing. But Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett or whoever is playing for the Jets right now — whoever is starting for the Jets is terrible — have jobs. You’re telling me fans would rather you lose and put a worse player out there because a guy took a stand? That’s where it’s so troublesome to me. . . .

Blake Bortles has shown you enough to where you don’t think Kaep would be a solid fit? Kaep has won games.”

Yes he has. He has nearly won a championship. But team personnel throughout the league have been feeding “football only” nonsense to willing members of the media who pass it along happily to the public because they either don’t like what Kaepernick did or they hope to curry favor with their sources.

For months, the “football only” narrative had prevailed. Baltimore’s decision to be somewhat transparent unwittingly has exposed what’s really happening.

The owners want players to realize that they don’t own the fields, the stadiums, the uniforms, the logos. The teams possess and power the platform, and they choose to let the players occupy it. They’re not going to let players occupy it who step out of line in a way that both triggers criticism from the public and prompts other players to follow suit.

That was Kaepernick’s biggest sin, in the eyes of the vast majority of the league: He did something that caused other players to become aware of their rights, and to act on them.

Everything else that’s been said about Kaepernick is excuse-making and window dressing, no different from the Commissioner dealing with CTE concerns by essentially saying “yeah, but pro football players live longer than those of you who don’t bash your brains into broth.” Some of us see through it. Some of us don’t. Plenty of us don’t really want to.

Kordell Stewart repeats Ray Lewis’ advice to Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick
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Former NFL quarterback Kordell Stewart offered Colin Kaepernick similar advice Ray Lewis did a day earlier: Keep quiet about social activism.

“Right now he’s not giving himself a chance,” Stewart said, via NFL No Huddle on TuneIn with Brian Webber. “I don’t think it’s the owners; I think it’s more or less Colin Kaepernick in my mind. Stay off of social media, and when it comes to the political side of everything, you can express yourself, you can do it quietly. I mean people are looking for former athletes and athletes out there doing some things that can be headline news. Do it from a charitable standpoint. Stay low-key about it. You don’t have to be so [loud], especially in this world of politics in the game of football.

“You see what’s taking place with him right now. He’s not even getting a chance to play and he’s better than 90 percent plus of the backups playing in the National Football League, let alone some starters that are playing right now.”

The Ravens still are deciding whether to sign Kapernick, having consulted with Lewis among others. Lewis posted a video on Twitter on Tuesday, giving Kapernick advice.

“The football field is our sanctuary,” Lewis said. “If you do nothing else, young man, get back on the football field and let your play speak for itself. And what you do off the field, don’t let too many people know, because they gonna judge you anyway, no matter what you do, no matter if it’s good or bad.”

At the moment, Kapernick doesn’t have a choice whether to get back on the football field as no one has been willing to sign him.

Chiefs sign Roy Miller

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There’s a new addition to the defensive line in Kansas City.

The Chiefs announced on Wednesday that they have signed defensive tackle Roy Miller as a free agent. Miller, who was released by the Jaguars in March, recently spent time with the Bills and Dolphins in his search for a job.

Miller tore his Achilles tendon last season and missed the final 10 games of the year as a result. He was a starter for all four of his seasons in Jacksonville and made his mark as a run defender, although he did have four sacks during the 2015 season.

Stopping the run was an issue for the Chiefs last season — they finished 26th in rushing yards allowed — and Miller will likely factor into their plans to stop that from happening again this year. He joins Bennie Logan as new additions at defensive tackle in Kansas City.

Ravens dispute ESPN report regarding Colin Kaepernick, sort of

AP

For the Ravens, the process of determining how big of a distraction Colin Kaepernick would be has officially become a distraction.

In response to a report from Diana Russini of ESPN suggesting that coach John Harbaugh and G.M. Ozzie Newsome want to sign Kaepernick but that owner Steve Bisciotti is resisting the move, the team has issued a statement. The statement, however, doesn’t directly dispute the report.

“We are going through a process, and we have not made a decision,” G.M. Ozzie Newsome said in the statement. “Steve Bisciotti has not told us we cannot sign Colin Kaepernick, nor has he blocked the move. Whoever is making those claims is wrong.”

No one is making the specific claim that Bisciotti has told Harbaugh and Newsome that they can’t sign Kaepernick, or that Bisciotti otherwise blocked the move. The claim is that Bisciotti is resisting it.

The term “resistance” implies a lack of finality. The statement from Newsome expressly confirms a lack of finality.

Again, Russini was at training camp on Tuesday, and she interviewed Harbaugh on camera. She came away from the experience (and/or acquired information thereafter) that made her comfortable enough with the situation to declare, unequivocally, that Bisciotti is resisting the move. The fact that he hasn’t slammed the door doesn’t mean he’s not tapping the brakes.

A cynic may say that this entire escapade — from the leak of resistance to the statement from Newsome — is part of the broader effort to take the temperature of the fan base before making a decision. At some point, however, the Ravens need to look at the thermometer and make a diagnosis.

Report: Bisciotti resisting Kaepernick signing

AP

The Ravens literally are trying to have it both ways on Colin Kaepernick.

At a time when the nonsensical comments of linebacker Ray Lewis seem to have the same purpose as the team’s apparent effort to find middle ground on one of the most polarizing issues in sports, the Ravens reportedly are, and aren’t, interested in signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Diana Russini of ESPN, who spent Tuesday at Ravens practice and interviewed coach John Harbaugh on camera, reports (citing “sources”) that Harbaugh and G.M. Ozzie Newsome want to sign Kaepernick, but that they “have met resistance” from owner Steve Bisciotti.

The Ravens have not responded to a request for comment from PFT on the report, which may or may not close the book on the team adding Kaepernick.

It also may or may not frustrate Bisciotti, who emerges as either the good cop or the bad cop in this scenario, depending on one’s perspective. Regardless of how he’s perceived, Bisciotti may not be happy that someone leaked his role in keeping Kaepernick from joining the team, and it could make for awkward times in Baltimore this season, especially if for the third straight year the Ravens fail to make it to the playoffs.

Jaguars sign Tyler Gaffney

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The Jaguars had a roster spot open up this week when tackle Branden Albert retired and they filled it with a running back on Wednesday.

The team announced that they have signed Tyler Gaffney, bringing their roster back up to 90 players. The move comes a day after rookie running back I’Tavius Mathers went to the hospital after being injured and leaving practice on a backboard. Mathers tweeted later on Tuesday that he is doing fine.

Gaffney was a sixth-round pick of the Panthers in 2014 and was waived after suffering a torn meniscus in his knee injury during training camp. He was claimed off of waivers by the Patriots and spent the last three years bouncing between the practice squad and injured reserve in New England without ever playing in a regular season game.

With Leonard Fournette, T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory at the top of the depth chart in Jacksonville, Gaffney’s chances of changing that may not be great unless he makes a strong impression as a candidate for special teams work.

Jared Veldheer: CTE study triggered day off to think about future

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While some players may say they’re willing to die on the field (until they realize what that sounded like), other NFL players are taking a more sober approach to their futures.

And Cardinals right tackle Jared Veldheer admitted that last week’s CTE study — in which the degenerative brain disease was found in 110 of the 111 donated brains of former NFL players — gave him pause.

Veldheer told the Arizona Republic that he took a personal day away from the team last week to think about his own future, and that he might have considered retirement.

“There was some stuff going on and I was just trying to process it all,” Veldheer said. “It wasn’t really like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is scary.’ I wasn’t going to, . . . It was more complicated than that. Everyone kind of would like to know more about [CTE] just because that kind of stuff has only been brought up in the last five years or so really and there’s just a lot of stuff they need to do research-wise.

“So a lot of people are kind of in the dark right now and that part may concern some people, but at the same time there’s new helmet companies out and they’re trying to make it so those big helmet-to-helmet collisions aren’t as prevalent.”

The timing of the day off was no coincidence, coming the same day Ravens center John Urschel announced his retirement at age 26. With veteran tackles Branden Albert and Ryan Clady announcing their retirements (for whatever reasons), there’s some degree of contemplation in the air for many players.

Veldheer returned to practice Friday with what he called: “A lot of clarity.”

“It was culmination of things, kind of missing the last half of the season last year [with triceps and finger injuries] and just kind of rehabbing. You start thinking when you have a lot of time on your plate,” Veldheer said. “You start thinking huge-picture life stuff, you know? You normally don’t necessarily think you’re going to die.

“So you’re just trying to figure everything out. Stuff just all kind of happened and compounded and I just kind of needed a second to regroup and reflect.”

As many players have, he’s made the choice to continue. He has two years left on his deal with the Cardinals, and is set to make $6.5 million this year.

Ray Lewis advises Colin Kaepernick to do, well, something

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The Ravens surely meant well when they embarked on a slow-motion, public deliberation regarding whether to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The process nevertheless has become farcical at times, with unreasonable fear of the reaction to signing him causing paralysis by analysis, ultimately inviting anyone and everyone with an opinion on the matter to contact the organization and make their views known.

Adding to the confusion has been the team’s injection of former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis into the process. Presumably done in the hopes that the Lewis imprimatur would make it easier to get reluctant Ravens fans to accept Kaepernick, the team overlooked the possibility that Lewis would choose to talk publicly about Kaepernick — and that Lewis would say things that don’t really make a whole lot of sense.

It’s the latest example of Lewis mistaking charm, charisma, cadence, and inflection for substance. That habit of saying in a compelling way words that when transcribed send a rambling, unclear message marred his career at ESPN, and it has now reared its head twice this week.

During a Monday appearance on FS1, Lewis and Shannon Sharpe engaged in a debate that featured both men speaking but only one of them actually saying anything. On Tuesday, Lewis separately tried make his point without being constantly pummeled against the ropes, in a video that he recorded in his car and posted on Twitter.

I’ve now listened to it three times (the video appears below), and I’m not sure what Ray’s point is. The broader goal, apparently, was to talk his way out of the criticism he has absorbed for whatever he was trying to say when discussing the issue on FS1. But when typing up and looking at the actual words he uttered in the new video, I don’t know what he was trying to say.

“If they really wanna help you, they’ll pray for you, brother,” Lewis says at one point. “They’ll lead you the right way and stop encouraging you to be caught up in some of this nonsense. The battles you are fighting, brother, people way before has been fighting these for many, many, many years.”

What nonsense is Lewis referring to? Given that some people think everything Kaepernick did last season is nonsense, precision is crtical. What does Ray Lewis specifically contend to be the “nonsense” in which Kaepernick was caught up?

Lewis ultimately offers this advice to Kaepernick: “The football field is our sanctuary. If you do nothing else, young man, get back on the football field and let your play speak for itself. And what you do off the field, don’t let too many people know, because they’re gonna judge you anyway. No matter what you do. No matter if it’s good or bad.”

Obviously, Kaepernick can’t get back onto the football field until someone offers him a job. The notion that he should, once he’s playing again, keep his non-football interests a secret is confusing, at best.

Plenty of players have issues and causes and foundations that they support in their spare time. The fact that the players have the platform of pro sports gives those issues and causes and foundations even more exposure. With Kaepernick committed to not using the sidelines as a platform for demonstration in 2017, why should he also take his off-field efforts to improve society underground?

On an issue where nearly everyone has a strong view at either end of the spectrum, Ray Lewis seems to be the one person who is trying to have it both ways, supporting Kaepernick while simultaneously wagging a finger at him, apparently in the hopes of pleasing everyone and/or offending no one.

Ray’s words are actually a microcosm of the team’s effort to decide what to do about Kaepernick, creating a conflicting, contradictory stew of comments and views and observations that careen around the room and never reach a conclusion. The problem is that, for both Lewis and the Ravens, this clumsy effort to please everyone and/or offend no one eventually going to please no one and/or offend everyone.

John Harbaugh says there’s nothing new on Ravens’ QB situation

AP

Will the Ravens add Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III while Joe Flacco recovers from a back injury? Coach John Harbaugh has been asked the question several times in the last week, and he says there’s not much more to say about it.

“There’s really nothing new on that quarterback situation,” Harbaugh said today. “Nothing’s changed. It’s right where it was.”

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti mentioned both Kaepernick and Griffin as players the Ravens had discussed internally, and Harbaugh says Bisciotti deserves credit for being transparent about the Ravens’ thought process.

“There’s really no update on that. I thought what he said was very honest, forthcoming and genuine comments that he made which I think you always respect from Steve. He does a great job with that and I think that’s what our fans should appreciate about him,” Harbaugh said.

Ultimately, Harbaugh said, every free agent quarterback in football is a possibility in Baltimore.

“I would pay attention to every quarterback that isn’t signed,” Harbaugh said. “They’re all options for us right now.”

Crockett Gillmore has MCL surgery, now expected to miss season

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When Ravens coach John Harbaugh updated the status of tight end Crockett Gillmore on Sunday, he said Gillmore suffered a cartilage tear in his knee that wasn’t expected to end his season.

Harbaugh also said that Gillmore would be going for another visit with doctors on Monday and the results of that one rendered the previous update obsolete.

The team announced on Tuesday that Gillmore had surgery to repair MCL and is expected to need five months to make a full recovery. As a result, he is also expected to miss the entire 2017 season.

It’s the third blow the Ravens have taken at the position this offseason. Dennis Pitta was waived in the spring after his latest hip injury made it unlikely he’ll ever play again and Darren Waller has been suspended for the entire season.

The Ravens signed Larry Donnell over the weekend to go with Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle.

Ryan Clady announces his retirement

AP

For the second time this week, a former Pro Bowl left tackle has retired.

But unlike Branden Albert, Ryan Clady didn’t walk away from a team in the first week of training camp.

Clady tweeted out word that he was retiring after nine seasons in the NFL.

He mentioned in his message that “several teams” were interested in signing him, but that with a week of camp in the books, he didn’t feel the passion to play to the level he expected of himself.

Clady visited the Seahawks earlier this offseason, but hadn’t found other apparent offers.

He played in nine games for the Jets last year, after a productive seven-year run with the Broncos.

Unemployed quarterback No. 39 in merchandise sales

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The Top 50 Player Sales Report released on Tuesday by the NFL Players Association includes 49 players who currently are employed by NFL teams. The unemployed player, a former 49er, comes in at No. 39.

Yes, the man who had the 17th highest-selling jersey in May 2017 finished at No. 39 from May 1 through July 31 in all merchandise sales. Which is impressive, given that there likely wasn’t much merchandise manufactured bearing Colin Kaepernick’s name or likeness, given that he hasn’t been a member of an NFL team since early March.

Kaepernick finished higher than players like Cardinals running back David Johnson (No. 42), Saints running back Adrian Peterson (No. 45), Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins (No. 48), and Cardinal receiver Larry Fitzgerald (No. 49).

Jersey sales likely had a lot to do with that figure. After Kaepernick’s status as No. 17 on the May 2017 list became a news item, the league-owned online shop didn’t update the page to reflect jersey sales for June 2017. And, perhaps, all that that implies.

The figures more than imply another message: Whoever signs him will be selling plenty of jerseys bearing his name an number over new colors and logos.

Tuesday morning one-liners

AP

Which Bills helped their stock in the first week of training camp?

The Dolphins are taking it easy with S Reshad Jones.

Said Patriots RB Dion Lewis, “We have a lot of great running backs, and they’re great guys as well. Competition’s great. That’s when you show who you really are.”

Jets CB Morris Claiborne’s work at practice earned a good review.

The Ravens got WR Michael Campanaro back at practice.

Former Bengals RB James Brooks visited the team’s camp on Monday.

S Derrick Kindred isn’t taking a spot in the Browns secondary for granted.

First-round pick T.J. Watt is off to a good start at Steelers camp.

The game has slowed down for Texans LB Bernardrick McKinney.

Some positive notes about Colts WR Donte Moncrief’s work at practice.

Rookie T Cam Robinson is in line for a big role with the Jaguars after Branden Albert’s retirement.

Titans rookie TE Jonnu Smith has set high expectations for himself.

Things went a bit better for the Broncos offense on Monday.

The Chiefs are working to boost their run game.

Said Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. of rookie DT Eddie Vanderdoes, “I think he understands how to get lined up. He understands the blocking schemes. He understands how to get on edges. Things that we drafted him for.”

Chargers wide receivers have been doing a lot of talking to the team’s defensive backs.

Rookie DE Taco Charlton is coming along after a slow start at Cowboys camp.

Blocking is a focus for Giants rookie TE Evan Engram.

An injury scare last summer hasn’t dimmed Eagles TE Zach Ertz’s excitement about doing some hitting in practice.

Redskins veterans are high on rookie DL Jonathan Allen.

Bears LB Leonard Floyd feels he’s improved as a tackler.

WR Kenny Golladay has been doing some extra work with Lions QB Matthew Stafford.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t want to compare his defense to other teams.

Vikings CB Terence Newman said he is “chasing this hot babe known as the Lombardi Trophy.”

The Warriors’ rebound after losing in the NBA Finals caught Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s eye.

WR Brenton Bersin has been cut several times, but keeps coming back to the Panthers.

Willie Snead is a big believer in the Saints receiving corps.

The Buccaneers aren’t underestimating S Keith Tandy.

CB Tramon Williams said he wouldn’t have signed with the Cardinals if he didn’t think they could have a winning season.

A healthy CB E.J. Gaines has been productive at Rams practices.

The 49ers are dealing with injuries at safety.

Kendrick Lamar stopped by Seahawks camp.

Jets wouldn’t give Morris Claiborne the No. 24 Darrelle Revis made famous

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Morris Claiborne wanted to wear the same number he wore in Dallas, but the Jets may have used No. 24 for the final time.

The Jets apparently are leaving open the possibility of retiring the number made famous by cornerback Darrelle Revis, whom the Jets released in the offseason. They made Claiborne, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal, take his second choice, which was No. 21.

I definitely asked for 24, because that’s the only number I know,” Claiborne said, via Bob Glauber of Newsday. “I’ve had 24 since I came into the NFL. But I understand the history behind that number.”

Revis played for the Jets for eight seasons in two stints, making 25 interceptions and 111 pass breakups. He earned All-Pro honors three times with the Jets and Pro Bowl honors four times while in New York.

“A lot of people said, ‘Do you want that number? You have some really big shoes to fill?’” Claiborne said. “Yeah, you’re right, but I’m not coming to fill Revis’ shoes. Revis’ shoes are filled, and then some. I’m here to fill my own shoes.”

Claiborne had more injuries than interceptions after a five-year career with the Cowboys, who made him the sixth overall choice in 2012. He never played a full season and missed 33 of a possible 80 games in his career. Claiborne had his best season in 2016 but played in only seven games during the regular season.

Texans add safety Marcus Gilchrist

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Nearly eight months after suffering a serious knee injury while with the Jets, safety Marcus Gilchrist has found a new team.

Gilchrist has agreed to terms with the Texans, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The 28-year-old Gilchrist had started every game for four years before suffering a torn patellar tendon in the 13th game of last season. While he recovered from the injury, the Jets cut him this offseason.

It’s not clear whether Gilchrist will be ready to jump in and get to work immediately, although it had been reported that he expected to be at full speed in August. If he’s healthy, he should be a valuable addition to the Texans’ secondary.