Friday, June 28, 2013

Billick explains Ravens’ decision to rally around Ray Lewis

If the Ravens’ qualification for Super Bowl XLVII dusted off long-forgotten memories of the alleged involvement of Ray Lewis in a double murder, the Aaron Hernandez situation has sandblasted them.  And with the Patriots dumping Hernandez the moment he was arrested in connection with the death of Odin Lloyd, the contrast between the respective approaches of the two franchises to situation involving murder became as sharp as possible.
While many believe the Patriots must have had access to inside information about the Hernandez investigation at the time he was cut, the more accurate assumption would be that the Patriots decided early in the process, without the benefit of any specific intelligence about the case, that no employee arrested in connection with a murder investigation is fit to remain employed by the team.
The Ravens came to the exact opposite conclusion.  The man who coached the team at the time, Brian Billick, recently compiled an exhaustive explanation of the team’s reasoning and approach to the Lewis situation.
Billick explains that the team’s decision to rally around Lewis arose from their faith in his “overall innocence.”  In so doing, Billick implies that the Patriots had no faith in Hernandez’s innocence.
But Lewis was hardly “innocent.”  Lewis wouldn’t have been arrested, charged, and prosecuted based on no evidence.  Prosecutors routinely walk away from trying to secure a conviction under the very high standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt if they believe that the evidence, while pointing to the defendant’s guilt, nevertheless creates an opening for an “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” concoction of enough doubt to secure an acquittal.  Moreover, judges don’t allow cases to go to trial absent the existence of enough evidence to allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the high bar of proof beyond a reasonable doubt had been met.
For Ray Lewis, the prosecutor eventually decided to cut a deal, and Lewis decided not to tell the prosecutor to pound sand/salt/whatever and force the trial to a verdict.  This wasn’t a case where the charges were dropped with no strings attached.  Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in order to escape the far more serious charge of murder.
The Ravens had no qualms about welcoming back to the team without suspension or other punishment (other than the $250,000 fine imposed by the league) a man who pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in a murder case.  New England’s swift and decisive action regarding Hernandez this week amounts to a clear statement that, even if Hernandez had simply lied to the police or concealed evidence regarding a murder, any alleged wrongdoing regarding a murder provides enough reason to move on.
Right or wrong, the Ravens treated Ray Lewis far differently than the Patriots treated Hernandez.  And while it seems that Billick may be trying in artful fashion to soften some of the harsh, inescapable realities the Ray Lewis case, the fact remains that the Ravens had no qualms about embracing and defending a man who clearly had enough involvement to result in a judge allowing a murder trial to proceed, and in Lewis eventually entering a guilty plea for a crime related to the killings.  The Patriots, in contrast, opted to have no further involvement with anyone who had done anything, actually or allegedly, that would get him arrested in connection with the intentional death of another human.
For each organization, it sets a precedent that they surely hope they’ll never have to use in a similar case.

Author: Mike Florio
Photo: KIMBERLY SMITH, AFP Getty Images

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Police found discarded gun near Hernandez’s home, but not the murder weapon

Wednesday’s arraignment of Aaron Hernandez unfolded quickly, with audio of fairly mediocre quality carrying words that flowed quickly from prosecutor Bill McCauley.  Absent a transcript, which we have yet to obtain or locate online, the best (only) way to fully process everything that was said is to listen to the audio from the hearing, repeatedly.
It became obvious during the live proceedings that police have not recovered the murder weapon.  After listening to the arraignment a few more times, it became clear that police found a different weapon on the path between the industrial park where Odin Lloyd was murdered and Hernandez’s home.
Specifically, police discovered roughly one-quarter mile from Hernandez’s home a Jennings .22, a handgun firing ammunition much smaller than the .45-caliber bullets that struck Lloyd.  The Jennings .22 was loaded, and when police searched Hernandez’s home they found matching ammunition, but no .22-caliber gun.
In May, Hernandez had an incident with a Jets fan in Providence.  Another man discarded a gun under a car.  That gun and the gun found by police near Hernandez’s home were both purchased at the same gun store in Florida.
Coupled with surveillance video that, according to McCauley, showed Hernandez and one of the other two men carrying guns that appeared to be larger-caliber weapons, the authorities seem to believe that each of the three men had a gun when Lloyd was shot, that the man with the Jennings .22 didn’t fire on Lloyd, and that the .22 was ditched (possibly thrown out the window of the car) while the three men drove from the industrial park back to Hernandez’s home.
This explains the decision to search the pond and wooded area near Hernandez’s home on Monday with metal detectors.  They were looking — and apparently still are looking — for the larger-caliber gun(s) that were used to kill Lloyd.

Author: Mike Florio
Photo from

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ravens take swing at Miami fans, miss badly

Finally, the Ravens have done something that fairly can be characterized as dumb.
On Tuesday, the team tweeted a taunt to Miami, proclaiming “BALTIMORE sure knows how to throw a party!!!” and posting side-by-side photos of the post-championship celebration crowds in South Florida for the Heat parade and in Baltimore for the Ravens’ Super Bowl celebration.
The message from the stark contrast is clear.  Miami fans were apathetic about the local basketball team’s second straight title, and Baltimore fans showed passion and euphoria for their football team’s Super Bowl win.
As explained by Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens ignored that 400,000 fans turned out for the Heat’s parade, twice as many as Baltimore had for the Ravens’ march through town.  Vensel also linked to a variety of Twitter pictures showing a deep, thick sea of fans along the Heat’s parade route.
It’s the second time in less than three months that the Ravens twisted tails on its social media accounts.  In early April, the team took at shot at the Orioles, with this Facebook message:  “Raise your hand if you’d rather be cheering in THIS stadium than a baseball stadium today!”  The Ravens later apologized to the Orioles.
The Ravens have yet to apologize to Miami fans.  Of course, we can only assume Miami fans have still not properly thanked the Ravens for allowing the Dolphins to avoid an 0-16 season in 2007.

Author: Mike Florio
AP Photo

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bishop could play inside and/or outside with the Vikings

It has been assumed that linebacker Desmond Bishop will compete with Erin Henderson for the starting job in the middle.
Not so, said Bishop on Tuesday’s PFT Live.
“Oh, they told me that all the positions were interchangeable so, you know, nothing is set in stone.  I feel like I’m versatile, I could play
middle or the two outsides, so you kind of see how that unfolds during training camp,” Bishop said.
Bishop also pointed out that, even though he became a starter in Green Bay with a 3-4 defense, he has plenty of experience in the 4-3.
For the entire segment, including a motivation for picking Minnesota that will make Vikings fans happy, go to Pro Football Talk.

Author: Mike Florio
Photo: Jake Roth, US-Presswire

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kirk Cousins: I’ll be ready, but RG3 will start Week One

Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins has spent the offseason working with the first-string offense while Robert Griffin III recovers from knee surgery. But Cousins thinks the chances are slim to none that he’ll be with the first-string offense when the season starts.
Cousins said Griffin has made significant progress in his recovery, and Cousins can’t imagine that Griffin won’t be ready to play when the Redskins open the season against the Eagles on September 9.
“Robert looked awesome, and I’m not just saying that,” he said on NFL AM. “He is a bit of a freak in terms of his athleticism, he has healed very quickly, he couldn’t practice with us, but he was on a separate field doing drills all spring during OTAs and minicamp. He looked really good. I think he’ll be on the field Week One. But my mindset is to be ready no matter what, and I’m getting ready all summer so I’ll be ready if called upon.”
Cousins played well when given the opportunity as a rookie, and he’s ready to do it again this year. But he sounds like he knows that if he wants to be a long-term starter, it will be elsewhere.
“I’m working hard for whenever the opportunity comes, and if I don’t get any opportunities with the Redskins, then so be it,” he said. “Some day it could lead to the potential opportunity to start for someone.”
The best-case scenario for the Redskins is that Cousins doesn’t get any opportunities in Washington.

Author: Michael David Smith
AP Photo: Tom Gannam from

Friday, June 21, 2013

Report: “Paper” warrant issued for Hernandez

Friday’s ping-pong of published reports regarding whether an arrest warrant for Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has, or hasn’t, been issued has culminated in a report from FOX 25 that, indeed, a warrant has been issued.
According to the report, it’s a “paper” warrant on the charge of obstruction of justice.  The warrant has not yet been entered into the law-enforcement computer system, which prevents police from acting on it.
“It may be that this is a squeeze tactic,” FOX 25 legal analyst Brad Bailey said.  “It may be telling Mr. Hernandez that we have a warrant, a warrant for a crime that has a potential maximum penalty of seven years in prison, is a tactic to get him to come to the table, start talking and start cooperating.  And that’s where the lawyers may be saying, OK, we got it.  You got our attention.  We’re willing to respond.”
The charge most likely has been fueled by reports that police believe Hernandez destroyed his cell phone and home-surveillance system.  The goal, apparently, is to cajole someone into telling authorities precisely what happened on the night 27-year-old Odin Lloyd was shot, according to the Boston Globe, multiple times.
Basically, if Hernandez wants to avoid doing time for obstructing justice, he needs to quickly help ensure that justice is done.

Author: Mike Florio
Photo: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Storm clouds gathering around Hernandez

Things are getting worse by the news cycle for Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
The latest development comes from Steve Silva of, the man who courageously ran with a video camera toward the spot where a bomb was detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April.  Silva says via Twitter that he’s “hearing” from a law enforcement source Hernandez will be arrested in connection with the murder of Odin Lloyd.
It’s hardly a concrete report, but if true it’s hardly a surprise.  FOX 25 reported last night that Hernandez, Lloyd, and two other men were together in a car on the night of the murder, and that only Hernandez and the two other men returned to Hernandez’s home.  As Tom Curran of CSN New England has explained it, the investigation undoubtedly has included a scouring of surveillance video and cell phones and computers and other electronic footprints making it easier to piece together what happened.
Of course, the electronic data will only take police so far.  If they get to a roadblock as to the question of who pulled the trigger, the simple solution will be to arrest all three men and hope that the two who didn’t shoot Lloyd will give up the one who did.
If in fact any of them did.  And on that note, it’s important to remember — as Ralph Macchio learned in My Cousin Vinny — the difference between asking a question and making a statement.

Author: Mike Florio
Photo: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Police spend “hours” inside Hernandez home, emerge with box

With offseason workouts completed for most teams, the calendar has reached the point at which players have free time — and coaches and General Managers spend most of their free time worrying about getting a phone call regarding a player who has found trouble.
At some point in the past day or so, Patriots coach Bill Belichick received one of those calls.  But instead of hearing about the latest run-of-the-mill off-field entanglement, Belichick was told that tight end Aaron Hernandez faces police questioning after a body of an “associate” was found in the vicinity of a rental car connected to Hernandez.
All reports continue to indicate that Hernandez is not a suspect.  Still, Hernandez has consulted with a lawyer, per  According to ABC, Hernandez received at his North Attleboro home on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. a hand-delivered package from the “prominent law firm Ropes and Gray,” an international corporate firm with 11 offices worldwide.
Police reportedly spent hours inside Hernandez’s residence on Tuesday, ultimately searching the structure and emerging with a box.
Two men who tried to leave during the search reportedly were detained.  The car in which they planned to leave also was searched.
Hernandez’s agents have declined comment.  The Patriots issued the standard perfunctory comment, acknowledging the reports but declining to address the situation in deference to the investigation.
It’s unclear whether and to what extent Hernandez has been questioned by police.  ABC has reported that he was initially uncooperative, which implies that at some point he has decided to cooperate.  (The Boston Herald disputes the ABC report, using the dismissive “Web reports” label.)
Many possible explanations exist.  It seems implausible that Hernandez had any role in the killing of the “associate,” given the presence of the rental car tied to Hernandez in the vicinity of the body.  At a minimum, the car would have been removed.
Also, there was no apparent effort to conceal the body, which was found by a jogger in an industrial park roughly a mile from Hernandez’s home on Monday.

Author: Mike Florio
Photo: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

David Beckham supposedly had an NFL kicking offer

Soccer star David Beckham reportedly had an opportunity to kick in the NFL. Unsurprisingly, he passed.
The U.K. Daily Mirror reports that an NFL scout contacted Beckham a few years ago to see if he would be interested in trying out as a kicker. The newspaper adds that “Their idea is not as ridiculous as it sounds because Beckham’s skill at bending in long range free kicks can be perfectly adapted to scoring field goals in the NFL.”
Actually, I’m going to go ahead and say that the idea is as ridiculous as it sounds: Why would any NFL team think Beckham would give up the sport he loves, the sport that has made him fabulously wealthy to the tune of an estimated income of $47 million a year, to try American football?
Perhaps if there’s an NFL franchise in London some day, that team would try to convert a popular English soccer player into a kicker as an attempt to drum up some fan support. But a gimmick like that doesn’t seem very likely to create long-lasting interest in American football.
And if there is an English soccer player who’s going to switch to American football, it’s not going to be David Beckham.

Author: Michael David Smith
Getty Images via Shutdown Corner/Yahoo Sports!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Judge agrees to release Chad Johnson after seven days

When a Florida judge felt that Chad Johnson wasn’t taking a probation hearing seriously enough, she said she would throw him in jail for 30 days. But now the same judge has decided that seven days was enough.
Judge Katherine McHugh ruled today that Johnson can be released from jail, 23 days earlier than she had originally given him after he slapped his attorney on the butt and drew laughter during a probation hearing in her courtroom.
According to TMZ, McHugh scolded Johnson for his history of disrespectful behavior and also told him that what he did to his ex-wife in 2012, when he was arrested for domestic abuse, was “horrific.” And she extended his probation for another month, through October 16.
But in the end, she seems to have come to the decision that 30 days in jail is too severe for a playful pat on the butt. And so Johnson will be a free man.

Author: Michael David Smith
AP Photo

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Patriots seem to concede Putin didn’t steal Kraft’s ring

The story of an effort to avoid an international incident in 2005 has created an international incident in 2013.  Sort of.
But now, after Patriots owner Robert Kraft explained that Russian president Vladimir Putin stole his Super Bowl ring and Putin’s spokesman claimed it was a gift, the Patriots have tried to put the matter to rest by conceding, apparently, that Kraft’s tale of being strong-armed for the trinket is shtick.
“It’s a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert re-tells for laughs,” a Patriots spokesman reportedly said.  “He loves that his ring is at the Kremlin and, as he stated back in 2005, he continues to have great respect for Russia and the leadership of President Putin.  In particular, he credits President Putin for modernizing the Russian economy.”
So it sounds like Kraft doesn’t actually believe that Putin stole his ring.  Or perhaps Kraft has Googled “Alexander Litvinenko.”  Or maybe Kraft is aware of the army of Russian bears who can survive a direct impact from speeding cars.

Author: Mike Florio

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rams sign Matt Giordano

The Rams were in the market for a veteran safety and they found their man on Friday.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Rams have signed safety Matt Giordano. Safety Don Unamba was let go in a corresponding move.
Giordano visited the team this week along with Sherrod Martin and Abram Elam as the Rams tried to find some experienced help for their young group of safeties. Giordano started 13 games for the Raiders last year and, like just about everyone else on the Raiders defense in 2012, did not play particularly well. He also started nine games for Oakland in 2011, but has primarily been a reserve and special teamer during previous stints with the Saints, Packers and Colts, who drafted Giordano with the 134th pick in the 2005 draft.
Giordano will likely compete with Darian Stewart for a starting job with 2013 third-rounder T.J. McDonald expected to occupy the other safety spot. He may not be the only veteran joining the Rams in the near future. The team has been looking at linebackers as well and could bring one to add depth and competition before training camp.

Author: Josh Alper

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Willis McGahee says he’s healthy, plans to play in 2013

Running back Willis McGahee won’t be playing for the Broncos in 2013, but he plans on playing for someone.
McGahee spoke with Josina Anderson of ESPN after getting released on Thursday and said that he “knew it was going to happen” because the Broncos are looking to get younger in the backfield. McGahee also said he has no physical restrictions after last year’s season-ending knee injury when discussing his desire to sign on with another team for the 2013 season.
“I will keep playing. I don’t feel like I have to go out there and say what I have left. I know what I can do. I’m not worried about it. Once I get the opportunity, it will be all good,” McGahee said. “There are a lot of places I wouldn’t mind playing. You got Miami, Dallas, Green Bay, San Diego, Oakland. That’s not necessarily my order of preference, though. All of those teams I mentioned I would go to with no problems.”
The Packers seem like a long shot and the Chargers have Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown to go with the “average” Ryan Mathews, but the other teams could all be possibilities for McGahee. That market should start shaping up shortly and it wouldn’t be surprising to see McGahee land with another team before the start of training camp this summer.
A return to the Broncos can probably be ruled out, however. McGahee said the team never approached him about taking a pay cut from his $2.5 million base salary, which provides further confirmation that they’re comfortable rolling with Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball.

Author: Josh Alper
AP Photo

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Manti Te’o earning respect of Chargers coaches, veterans

Given the unusual circumstances surrounding his final year at Notre Dame and somewhat baffling performance in the National Championship game, Manti Te’o was always going to have to prove to whatever organization decided to draft him that he was worth the investment.
So far with the San Diego Chargers, Te’o is passing the test with flying colors.
According to Michael Gelhken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Te’o has impressed coaches and players alike with his skill and maturity in the Chargers’ facility.
Head coach Mike McCoy, center Nick Hardwick and linebacker Larry English in addition to other members of the Chargers organization all praised the approach Te’o has brought to the team and the work ethic he’s showed since being drafted in April.
“I see what’s going to be a heck of a football player,” Hardwick said. “He gets good jumps on the snap. He knows where the ball is going. He seems to be really quick to react on it. In the locker room, he’s a cool guy. He’s easy to be around.”
It appears as though Te’o has answered any questions his teammates may have had about what kind of person he is off the field. Now it’s just about what he can do on it.
“When you’re on the football field, everything else doesn’t matter,” Te’o said. “Thankfully for me, I’m surrounded by a bunch of teammates that have really pushed me to be better. All they care about is No. 50 is working his butt off, and I’ll take care of the work ethic part. They’ll make sure I’m moving in the right direction. … I can’t be a leader if I don’t know where I’m going.”

Author: Curtis Crabtree
AP Photo

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Belichick on Tebow questions: We’ve talked enough about him

Patriots coach Bill Belichick met the media for the first time with Tim Tebow on his roster, and it didn’t take long for Belichick to get sick of answering questions about his new backup quarterback.
“Anything we do is what we feel is in the best interest of the team. Tim is a talented player that’s smart and works hard, so we’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said when initially asked about Tebow.
As reporters continued to press him for thoughts about Tebow, Belichick began to grow annoyed.
“I’ve answered that question twice: He’s a talented player who’s smart and works hard,” Belichick repeated.
Asked more questions about Tebow, Belichick urged reporters to find something new to talk about.
“We’ve already talked enough about him,” Belichick said. “I think I’ve covered it. Anything else?”
Some of the questions from the media were about the media, including whether Belichick thought the presence of reporters at this week’s minicamp could become a distraction.
“We’ve been in front of bigger crowds than this before,” Belichick said. “Hopefully there will be more than that at our games on Sundays.”
Asked about how Tebow will be used, Belichick declined to get into specifics.
“We’re gonna do what we think is best for this football team, so, I don’t know, we’ll see,” Belichick said. “We’ll see, I don’t know.”
Belichick did dispute the report that he “hates” Tebow as a player, although he made clear that he didn’t want to talk much about that.
“I like Tim. I have a lot of respect for Tim,” Belichick said.
Belichick may like Tebow. But Belichick doesn’t seem to like all the questions about Tebow.

Author: Michael David Smith
Photo: Anthony J Causi, NY Post

Monday, June 10, 2013

Patriots made the most sense for Tebow from the start

When the Jets cut quarterback Tim Tebow after the draft, the Patriots became the most obvious destination.  After all, the man who drafted Tebow in Denver (Josh McDaniels) serves at New England’s offensive coordinator, and the man who coached Tebow to a Heisman (Urban Meyer) is a good friend of coach Bill Belichick’s.
The notion of Tebow playing for the team that twice blew out his Broncos in 2011 shattered last month, when Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports reported that Belichick “hates” Tebow as a player.  (Silver tells PFT he’ll be weighing in soon via a column.)
But it’s still not clear what Tebow will be doing.  All signs point to Tebow playing quarterback, especially with the Pats cutting Mike Kafka.  But Tebow never will play quarterback in a game, unless and until Tom Brady suffers another torn ACL or other similar injury and backup Ryan Mallett does the same.
At a minimum, Tebow will get to work with McDaniels and the rest of the offensive staff, with the goal of helping Tebow get the most out of his natural abilities.  And he will be able to serve as the scout-team quarterback when the Patriots face a team with a mobile quarterback — although the 2013 schedule isn’t exactly littered with them.
Still, having Tebow play quarterback doesn’t mean he won’t do other things.  In New England, tight ends play receiver and receivers play running back and running backs play receivers and they’re all interchangeable at times.  With Brady never leaving the field, surely the Pats will find a way to use Tebow.
Especially when playing the Broncos.  Or the Jets.

Author: Mike Florio
AP Photo

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bears have no plans to sign JaMarcus Russell

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell had his workout with the Bears on Friday, but he isn’t going to be signing with the team.
That’s the word from Chris Mortensen of ESPN, who reports that the Bears will not be signing any of the three quarterbacks they had in on Friday. Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards were the other two quarterbacks who worked out in Chicago.
According to Mortensen, Russell weighed in at 267 pounds on Friday. That’s just about what he weighed when he first entered the league and it’s way down from the 300-plus pounds Russell was carrying when he started his comeback effort. At the very least, that shows Russell’s serious enough about his efforts to resume his professional career to get into the necessary physical condition.
The same could be said of Russell’s reported willingness to play in Canada if he can’t convince an NFL team to bring him on board. Jeff Garcia, who has been working with Russell, says that going north of the border is something Russell would do if he finds an interested CFL team.

Author: Josh Alper
Getty Images

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chad Johnson “at peace,” but wants another chance

As it turns out, Terrell Owens isn’t the only former NFL wide receiver having a hard time coming to grips with the reality that teams don’t want him.
Former Bengals standout Chad Johnson said on ESPN’s “First Take” that he was hoping to get back into the league at some point, even though he hasn’t found a home since his lackluster 2011 in New England.
Johnson’s next date is a court date, as he has a probation hearing next week connected to last year’s assault charges regarding his former wife.
Johnson called a missed appointment with a probation officer a “miscommunication,” and said he will accept whatever consequences are coming.
“I’m going to be OK,” Johnson said. “I’m OK now, but I put myself in this situation and I have to deal with everything. With life, I’m at peace with everything.
“I would love to finish my career off the right way. If it happens, I’m not sure. But I would like to.”
The 35-year-old wideout hasn’t been productive in some time, and many teams won’t view him as being worth the sideshow.
But he thinks he deserves another chance.
“I’m in a position where I have to prove myself again that I can still play,” Johnson explained. “Can I still do it? I’m at the bottom again, like having to prove myself when I first came in [to the NFL] and I was hungry. I got complacent at some point in my career. I thought I had it right. I thought I had made it and figured it all out. I lost the game that I loved and played for years.”
It’s hard to not have a measure of sympathy for Owens and Johnson as their chances for comebacks fade, but ultimately, they’re responsible for their own unemployment.

Author: Darin Gantt
AP Photo, J Pat Carter

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Vick doesn’t know where he stands in quarterback competition

Before, Eagles quarterback Mike Vick was certain.  Now, he’s confused.
“This is still my team,” Vick said in April“This is still my job.”
Asked on NFL Network today where he stands in the effort to keep his job, Vick was candid:  “I don’t know.”
But he’s still confident.
“That is up to Coach [Chip Kelly] to decide what is best for this football team but as of right now, I am very pleased with my progress,” Vick said.  “Today, I felt like I had some throws I wanted back but for the most part I have done good.  I got some balls in the end zone and just playing the position the way it is supposed to be played.”
Kelly has said he’s in no hurry to name a starter, which means that it may not be Vick.  But even if he isn’t the starter, Vick plans to contribute.
“Always going to be a leader on this team, regardless of what my place is,” Vick said.  “I am confident that I continue to be a guy that is looked up to on this team and continue to play my role.”
It’s still unclear what his role will be.  And it apparently won’t be clear for a while longer.

Author: Mike Florio
AP Photo

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mike Tomlin: Ben Roethlisberger had “minor” knee surgery Wednesday

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent “minor” surgery on his right knee on Wednesday, head coach Mike Tomlin said in a team-issued statement on Wednesday.
The club recommended the procedure “to ensure he will be completely healthy for the start of training camp,” Tomlin said.
Here is the full text of Tomlin’s statement:
“Earlier today, Ben had minor surgery on his right knee that was the result of slight discomfort this offseason. We advised him to get the surgery done to ensure he will be completely healthy for the start of training camp. This surgery will have no long-term effects on his health.”

Author: Mike Wilkening
Photo: Jason Bridge, US Presswire

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chip Kelly gets DeSean Jackson’s attention with demotion

If anyone was wondering about Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s willingness to shake things up, let them wonder no more.
Even beyond speeding up the pace, playing loud music, or getting rid of the tacos, Kelly has been willing to push his new team to make sure his message was being received.
That included making one of his best players, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, run with the third team at times.
“There were times when I was going with the threes, times when I was going with the twos, things like that,” Jackson told Tim McManus of “There was a point where I went into Chip Kelly’s office and talked to him face-to-face to see what was going on with that.”
Kelly told him what he’s said to others, that nothing was going to be given, regardless of previous status.
“He just expects everyone to do things a certain way,” Jackson said. “He was asking everybody to do the same thing. For myself, I just had to really hear it from his mouth to get that rapport with him and be on the same page with him. When I went in there, he said he expects everybody to buy into the system and do everything the right way.
“And if there is any little thing a player doesn’t want to do, that’s his way of reacting to it. The best thing I did was go talk to him instead of just sitting back and being mad.”
Kelly wants his offensive skill players to be versatile, which means knowing everyone else’s assignments as well as their own. When Jackson wasn’t up to speed, Kelly gave him some remedial work.
Jackson admitted that was new to him, since he was given one assignment, and generally executed it well under old coach Andy Reid.
And while he required some time and a talk, he said he supports Kelly’s plan now.
“At the beginning of the process I didn’t know the full offense and I didn’t know every play, so that probably had to do with why I was moved to different teams and things like that,” Jackson said. “Now I am all-in on the offense and I’m very familiar with the whole system. It’s a good thing that I am able to learn that and know what everyone is doing instead of one person. . . .
“Now I’m with the right group and everything is good and there’s never been no problems. I just had to get a feel for [Kelly] and know what he wants and what he expects me to do.”
And Kelly also got the attention of the rest of the locker room by making an example of Jackson, a quick-strike move to establish his authority.

Author: Darin Gantt

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kaepernick thought he was going to be a Raider

So the Raiders had a brilliant plan to make a trade to get the quarterback they so desperately needed, and it didn’t quite work out.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated outlines the background of the Raiders’ attempt to maneuver in the 2011 NFL Draft for Colin Kaepernick, a move Kaepernick himself thought was going to happen.
“Coach [Hue] Jackson told me before the draft they were going to do everything they could to try to get me,” Kaepernick said. “I thought there was a good chance they’d pick me. I never heard anything from the 49ers before the draft after I worked out for them [at Nevada]. I just figured they weren’t interested.”
Except, they were, and they beat the Raiders to the punch.
The Raiders loved Kaepernick, and had him rated atop their board of quarterbacks (ahead of top pick Cam Newton and first-rounders Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder).
But everyone knew they loved him, so the 49ers knew who they had to get in front of.
Both teams tried to make a deal with the Patriots, owners of the 33rd overall pick, but couldn’t get it done. The 49ers were finally able to deal with Denver for the 36th spot.
“I think about it all the time, believe me,” Jackson said. “No question in my mind we wanted it to happen, and no question I thought it could happen. We wanted the kid in the worst way.”
Not getting Kaepernick then led to a string of bad decisions, from using a supplemental third-rounder on Terrelle Pryor to panicking and giving up a first and a second six months later in exchange for Carson Palmer.
Landing Kaepernick could have changed so many things, perhaps keeping Jackson on the job, and that might have kept Reggie McKenzie from taking over as General Manager a year later to blow the place up and start over.
But obviously, this was all Zak Gilbert’s fault.

Author: Darin Gantt
AP Photo, Tony Avelar

Sunday, June 2, 2013

McNabb wants father-son meeting with Griffin

When former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb recently called out the Cowboys for giving quarterback Tony Romo a nine-figure contract, many wondered whether this meant that McNabb would criticize any quarterbacks who in his mind justify it, or whether he’d simply use his fairly new media platform to settle scores with former rivals.
McNabb, apparently, is taking the more balanced approach.
He tells Mike Wise of the Washington Post that Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is doing “too much right now; it’s just too much.”
Specifically, the second overall pick in 1999 believes that propensity of the second overall pick in 2012 to find and linger in the spotlight will potentially hurt the team.
“I get some of things he’s doing to draw attention to himself: the Adidas commercials, going out and enjoying the life of a young, famous NFL quarterback.  I understand RG has a lot of stuff going on,” McNabb said.  “But if you’re coming off ACL surgery, you don’t need to be having a press conference at OTAs.  Every week?  Really?  It becomes a circus, a sideshow.  It takes away from the focus of what those sessions are supposed to be about:  the team.”
McNabb compared the situation to the manner in which his coach in Philly handled similar situations.  “One thing Andy Reid did is he never let the injured guys become the story if they were off to the side at practice,” McNabb said.  “He thought it took away from the guys who were grinding and practicing every day.
“So when I look up on TV and see him up there talking all the time about how great he’s doing — or doing jumping jacks or someone else talking about his supernatural healing powers — I wonder to myself:  Is this about selling tickets to the fans or what?
“I don’t blame him.  They’re letting him do it.  But at some point, it can be counterproductive.  You can set yourself up for more criticism later.”
Criticism also can come from comments made by Griffin’s father, who recently expressed public concern that the Redskins expect Griffin III to run too much.
“His dad should have never done a one-on-one interview like that,” McNabb told Wise.  “You can’t say what he said because it almost undermines his son, who has to answer all the questions about it later.  Now, we all know what he said was right.  But that’s something you voice behind closed doors because otherwise it creates a wedge that didn’t have to be there.  No team needs those kinds of things hovering over them.”
So McNabb has offered assistance to Griffin III.  And Griffin II.
“I would really like for me and my dad to sit down with he and his dad just to tell them what we went through and talk about our experiences,” McNabb said.
McNabb tried to reach out to Griffin last year, but McNabb never heard from him.  In contrast, McNabb has spoken to Russsell Wilson “many times,” because as McNabb explained it, “I know what it’s like to be young, good and have the world looking at you.”
Regardless of whether McNabb is merely looking for the new generation of quarterbacks to do some NFC-championship-ring-kissing, his experiences and knowledge would be useful to any young player.
Of course, by taking his criticism of Griffin III public, the phone now may never ring.  Especially given McNabb’s views on the Bed, Bath & Beyond wedding-gift controversy.
“When that happens, it just looks like rich people receiving things from the poor,” McNabb said.  “I know his intention wasn’t that, but it’s the perception people take from it.  It’s disrespectful.  You just don’t do that.”
What you also apparently don’t do is ignore Donovan McNabb.   It’ll be interesting to see whether McNabb’s decision to call Griffin III (and II) out results in a sit-down, or provokes an equally public response.

Author: Mike Florio
AP Photo

Saturday, June 1, 2013

46-year run ends for Pro Football Weekly

The handwriting has been on the wall for months, given the lack of handwriting or other new content appearing at the Pro Football Weekly website.  Despite the controversial and headline-creating Geno Smith scouting report by Nolan Nawrocki, the worst-kept secret in media circles had been that PFW was in an apparent death spiral.
On Friday, editor Hub Arkush posted a farewell message on the publication’s website.  A separate link revealed the cold, hard truth:  assets of $143,000, and liabilities of $8.5 million.
“Over the last five years our majority owner and each of the minority partners invested a tremendous amount of money, time and effort to try to build a bridge for PFW from the rapidly deteriorating world of old media to the new, exploding market of digital media and glitzy, new products,” Arkush writes.  “We built some truly great stuff that you all seemed to love, but try as we might, we couldn’t get enough of you to pay what it cost us to deliver it.  There comes a time when there is just no more money to lose, and now we are forced to close the doors.”
While PFW could have, in our view, remained competitive in the world of new media — indeed, the publication’s “Way We Hear It” feature reflected Internet-style rumor mongering long before folks were mongering rumors on the Internet — the name itself epitomized old-media realities.  “Weekly” would no longer cut it; news and analysis must be delivered in real-time via electronic means, not once per week in a publication that looked and felt more like a newspaper than a magazine.
At one point, PFW was an indispensable source of league-wide information and analysis to supplement local newspapers that focused on one team and national newspapers that provided only the most superficial information (but at least they did it in pretty colors).  Put simply, times changed and PFW didn’t.
Every new-media publication should heed that warning.  Times will continue to change.  Those who don’t change with the times eventually will have a pile of liabilities that dwarf their assets, too.

Author: Mike Florio
Photo: Pro Football Weekly