Monthly Archives: August 2016

Saints acquire DE Chris McCain from Dolphins for draft pick

The New Orleans Saints acquired defensive end Chris McCain in a trade with the Miami Dolphins on Monday.

“For the amount of times they threw the ball, our ability to affect the quarterback was poor,” said Payton, who also hinted on Monday that the Saints would be looking outside the building for help over the next week.

“This next 10-day period, there’s gonna be some good football players that shift from one team to another via a lot of different ways, be it from trade, be it waiver claims and/or free agency,” Payton said.

The Saints also addressed another one of their top trouble spots Monday, signing veteran offensive lineman Khalif Barnes after a tryout.

Barnes, 34, spent the past seven seasons with the Oakland Raiders after spending his first four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has played in 151 games with 117 starts.

It’s unclear what his role will be in New Orleans since the 6-6, 320-pounder has played both tackle and guard. The Saints’ most pressing need is at guard, but they might also be looking for a versatile swingman to provide backup at both spots.

“I have followed it and I think it’s personally not a good thing. I think it’s a terrible thing, and you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try, it’s not gonna happen,” Trump told The Dori Monson Show on Monday, per Buzzfeed.

Kaepernick has refused to stand during the national anthem during the Niners’ three preseason games this summer, telling NFL Media’s Steve Wyche that his decision is based on perceived societal wrongdoings against African-Americans and minorities in the U.S.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Wyche Friday night. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick reiterated his stance during an 18-minute long media session in the Niners locker room Sunday, during which he told reporters he planned to continue to sit during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick also was critical of both Trump and Clinton when he met with the media.

“I think the two presidential candidates that we currently have also represent the issues that we have in this country right now,” Kaepernick said. “You have Hillary who’s called black teens or black kids super predators. You have Donald Trump who is openly racist. We have a presidential candidate who deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me. Because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison. So what is this country really standing for?”

Packers’ Aaron Rodgers expected to make summer debut vs. 49ers

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers still needs some preseason work, according to one of his long-time coaches, and that’s why the Packers’ quarterback is expected to make his summer debut Friday at the San Francisco 49ers.

This week, however, Rodgers was back at the helm with the No. 1 offense, which was the first sign he would play against the 49ers.

“Aaron has been very sharp in practice,” Clements said. “We haven’t discussed what the exact play time will be, but I’m sure he’ll play. I anticipate that he’ll be sharp. But really you have to be moving around quicker than you do in practice. It tests your stamina a little bit more; you have to get used to that. You have to get used to — get reacclimated to the speed of the game because as I said it’s different than practice. But at this point it’s like riding a bike: You’ve been there, you’ve done it, you know how to do it and you just have to go in and practice it a little bit and get ready.”

It’s not necessary for Rodgers as much as it is for the offense as a whole.

“What you’re looking for any time you put him out there is just going to be how the other guys react, the new guys, [fullback Aaron] Ripkowski getting to play with him for the first time and extensively,” said Packers quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt. “Jared Cook, Ty Montgomery coming back now after missing time. Just for those guys to feel the stress of what it’s like to play and the expectations that come from the offense with him. That’s the kind of things he may not get stuff out of it but other guys definitely will feel it.”

Mindy Black is always watching. Always.

The rookie cornerback found that out after he tweeted a photo of what he was eating for dinner one night in early July. It wasn’t exactly what you’d call a nutritional powerhouse: Vienna sausages covered in hot sauce, a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, a box of Mike and Ike and a 32-ounce Powerade.

The tweet got 1,938 likes but one important dislike — from Black, the Jaguars’ director of performance nutrition.

“I try really hard not to be the food police because I really do think they can fit everything in [their diet in] moderation,” Black said. “But I did give him a hard time because at the time he was doing that he was also getting meals delivered to his house. I’m like, ‘You have healthy meals in your refrigerator!’ And he swore to me that was his cheat meal.”

Black might not be the food police, but she is like Big Brother. And she has to be if she’s going to do her job correctly. Black is tasked with designing the Jaguars’ team meals, coming up with personal nutrition plans for each player and helping each understand the importance of proper nutrition: how it can help the players perform better on the field, recover more quickly and even help extend their careers.

Doing that for 90 players during training camp is difficult, but it’s especially rough with the rookies. They are always Black’s toughest cases because most of them show up having gotten by on the typical college diet of fast food, pizza and junk food.

Black’s job is to convince them that proper nutrition is as much a part of their job as a professional football player as practice and meetings. That’s why she spends time during the Jaguars’ rookie immersion program going over the team’s nutrition services. She also holds a cooking class for the rookies and meets with each player one-on-one to come up with an individual nutrition plan. She’ll go shopping with them to teach them to read food labels. She’ll also set up a meal-delivery service.

The talent is there and he believes he can be his old self — and perhaps better. But the key question for the Browns is simple: Can they truly depend on him?

Which is why they have to listen to trade queries. If someone offers a high pick, the team owes it to itself to run the numbers and analytics and see where the arrows point.

Titans tight end Craig Stevens opts to retire

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Trevor Siemian is likely one quality outing from being the starting quarterback for the defending Super Bowl champion.

Siemian will start Saturday night’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams, and with a productive game, he will have the inside track to start for the Denver Broncos on Sept. 8 against the Carolina Panthers.

Here are five things to know about the second-year quarterback:

Stevens would have played a key role in supplementing a revamped offensive line that is blocking for two new running backs, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Titans will likely call on Delanie Walker and Anthony Fasano, both more receiving tight ends, to work more as blockers in a two-tight end base set.

Phillip Supernaw ranked as the fourth tight end and could move up a notch, with Jerome Cunningham next in line.

The Titans have the No. 1 claim on waivers and could certainly use it as cuts are made around the league as they try to find a player equipped to replace Stevens and allow Walker and Fasano to stick more to their intended roles.

The 31-year-old Stevens, who has played with the Titans for eight seasons, had a $250,000 workout bonus tied to the one-year deal he signed in February. But he leaves behind a scheduled $1.15 million base salary and the potential for $500,000 more in roster bonuses.

Stevens, a third-round draft pick out of Cal in 2008, was the longest-tenured player with the Titans. He played in 109 games with 72 starts, catching 60 passes for 724 yards and six touchdowns.

“Craig is a consummate pro,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said in a statement. “I have enjoyed working with him as a position coach and as a head coach, and he was someone who could always be counted on. He worked at his craft and was always accountable for his play.

As he rebounded from his ACL surgery, Siemian put himself on the Broncos’ radar in the team’s 2015 training camp when he threw two touchdowns among his 23 attempts in the preseason.

Ricky Jean Francois takes over punt return duties to send Redskins home

“They had the speed of the JUGS machine going very, very high,” Baker said. “It was going in all different directions. I was figuring because I’m a defensive lineman, they would give me a straight shot. They kept giving it to me in different directions and tried to take me off key. Ricky had my back.”

Jean Francois said he had never fielded a punt before in his life, save for “’NCAA 2013′ and ‘Madden 2015.’”

But now he can claim the honor of the lineman who ended camp (practice ended after only 30 minutes, though the failures to catch a punt extended it by about five minutes.) Jean Francois said he received tips from kick returner Rashad Ross and corner Bashaud Breeland, who also has worked at returning kicks this camp.

“They helped me out, so we’re going home now,” Jean Francois said. “I’m going to clown Baker now; I’m going to get on him, Twitter or any type of social media, that I caught the [punt] that let us go home. We could have been out there still doing two-minute [drills], but the man with the hands had to come through.”

You can see why the Los Angeles Rams are feeling some urgency to extend the contracts of head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead before the season.

Wait, wait. No, there’s absolutely no reason at all for that. The Rams have been one of the most underachieving teams in the NFL under Fisher. But apparently the Rams want even more years of disappointing losses and squandered talent.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Saturday that the Rams are trying to get those extensions done before the season. This isn’t the first time possible Fisher and Snead extensions have been reported this offseason, but it seemed so strange that it was easy to forget. Schefter said the deals are likely to happen. Of course they’re likely to happen — one has to imagine Fisher and Snead are even a little curious why, after four losing seasons in four tries, the organization is excited to give them new deals before seeing any results from the 2016 Rams. And you also have to imagine Fisher and Snead want to make those deals official ASAP, before the Rams take the field and disappoint again.

Fisher’s hypnosis over Rams ownership is particularly curious. He hasn’t had a winning season since 2008. He has been a head coach 20 full seasons and finished .500 or worse 15 times. He hasn’t won a playoff game since the end of the 2003 season. And in four seasons with the Rams he has won seven, seven, six and seven games despite a lot of talent, especially on defense.

Rams Notebook: Inside the Hotel California

Fans get a first look

Twenty-two years is a LONG time to be away. The Rams were in L.A. for like 40+ years, then gone for two decades, then back again. But on Saturday, it was like old times, as fans got to see, up close and personal, the NFL in their backyard again.

Foles heads back to familiar territory

Sometimes karma has a funny way of happening when you least expect it. Take for example, Nick Foles, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Kansas City Chiefs. The former Rams QB heads back to Missouri to work with a familiar coach in Andy Reid, thus avoiding another team with QB dysfunction.

T.O. say’s what?

This week on the the Dan Patrick Show, Terrell Owens hinted he could still contribute to an NFL team this season, and hinted the Rams could be a good destination. Clearly, location is everything, seeing as he lives in L.A.
Saturday Wrap-Up

Tr’e Mason showed up at his mom’s house, Jeff Fisher say’s Case Keenum is his starter until he’s not, and the Los Angeles Rams make their first appearance at the Coliseum for a scrimmage.

The post Rams Notebook: Inside the Hotel California appeared first on Cover32.

K.J. Young has been given a second chance to play college football at the highest level.

Washington coach Chris Petersen confirmed Sunday that UW has added Young to its roster. Young, a junior wide receiver, began his career at Oklahoma, but was dismissed in May 2015 for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Petersen said he and his staff did their research about Young, including speaking with OU coach Bob Stoops, before adding him to the roster.

“We talked to all the people he’s been with the last four years and watched his body of work and put the puzzle together and talked to him,” Petersen said per the Seattle Times. “We feel like he’s in a place where he’s going to come here and be successful. We’re excited to get him going.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs moved Monday’s practice from One Buc Place to Tropicana Field, where the Tampa Bay Rays play. Due to the hard playing surface and a field that’s not even marked, coach Dirk Koetter nixed the pads and told players “no collisions.” That didn’t stop defensive end Robert Ayers from knocking center Joe Hawley to the ground during 11-on-11s. Ayers’ response? “They get pissed off at us, and we get pissed off at them. Hands may get thrown, but the way I look at it is that’s how it’s supposed to be.” He added, “I’m a naturally pissed-off person.” — Jenna Laine

Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick throws pick, loses hair to rookie barber

In case you’re wondering, no, Fitzpatrick wasn’t intercepted on a curl route. The Jets’ mane man underthrew Brandon Marshall on a deep seam.

Maybe we’re nitpicking.

To his credit, Fitzpatrick brushed it off, finding the humor in it.

And now, hopefully, we can put an end to the Fitz Follicles.

At Alabama, Derrick Henry was the load that wore teams down. In the second half of games, the 247-pound freight train ground down defenders, smashed through tacklers and gobbled up yards.

Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey has seen Henry — now a rookie in the NFL — excel late in training camp practices. The coach, however, wants his rookie to start better early in workouts.

“I will say this about Derrick: I don’t think he’s a fast starter,” Mularkey said Thursday, via ESPN. “I’ve got to talk to him about that tempo period because we’ve got a bunch of guys up front that are creating things for him and he’s not hitting it like I’d like to see him hit it, (like he is) later in the practice.

“I hope that’s not the case in games. We need him to be full strength. As soon as we call his number, he needs to hit things better.”

The nature of Henry’s role as a rookie necessitates Mularkey’s urgency. The Heisman Trophy winner will not be slogging through 25-30 carries a game. Instead, he’ll be slated to spell starter DeMarco Murray for stretches.

Detroit Lions

1 to 10 percent: Ezekiel Ansah broke out with a 14.5-sack campaign last season; it’s promising, but Osi Umenyiora is a similar example of a player who did the same thing in his third year and went on to have a perfectly useful career without any shot of making the Hall of Fame. … Haloti Ngata made five consecutive Pro Bowls between 25 and 29, but he has slipped over the past two seasons and doesn’t have the sort of counting statistics that help make Hall of Fame arguments. … Matthew Stafford has the cachet of being a former first overall pick, but he has made it to one lone Pro Bowl in seven years while posting what basically amounts to a league-average NY/A+ (101). Slightly above-average quarterbacks need to win a ton of games and have a peak season that approaches or hits MVP level, as Terry Bradshaw did, to make it to Canton. Stafford has yet to do either.

Anquan Boldin might be a Hall of Very Good player, which is less a reflection on him and more a comment on how stacked the receiving classes are going to be in the modern NFL. It hurts a bit that Boldin’s most productive seasons came at the very beginning of his career and are easier to forget than a late-career spike would be. He’ll finish his career toward the bottom of the top 20 in receptions and receiving yards, but he might not have accumulated quite enough to make it into the Hall.

Marvin Harrison’s complicated Hall of Fame legacy

Harrison’s attorney told the Inquirer that his client isn’t a suspect and was never questioned.

“If you know me, the person, I don’t have to worry about what other people think,” Harrison told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Everyone’s going to have their opinions. I don’t worry about what people think. My fans and people who are close to me know what type of guy I am.”

There was another odd incident in 2014 in which Harrison was shot at. Harrison was in his truck outside an apartment building when a man fled his apartment because he said it was being robbed. The man got in the bed of Harrison’s truck and one of the two intruders shot twice at Harrison’s truck, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Nobody was harmed.

Harrison always was a mysterious figure. He rarely spoke with the media. He was the only living member of this year’s Hall of Fame class who wasn’t present when the class was announced at last year’s NFL Honors show in San Francisco.

The stories about the incidents in Philadelphia have made Harrison even more enigmatic.

Greatest moment

It wasn’t one moment for Harrison, but an entire season. Passing and receiving records don’t last long in this era, but Harrison’s record for receptions in a season lapped the field.

In 2002, Harrison caught 143 passes. That was 20 more than the previous record, held by Herman Moore. From 2003 to 2013, no NFL receiver caught more than 123 passes. Antonio Brown has 129 and 136 receptions the last couple seasons and Julio Jones had 136 in 2015, so they’re closing in on Harrison. But Harrison still has the record.

The funny thing about Harrison’s remarkable 2002 is it started slow. He had four catches for 34 yards in the opener. Over the rest of the season Harrison had at least six catches in every game, at least eight catches 12 times and double-digit catches in six games. He also had 10 100-yard games. His 1,722 yards that season are the seventh-most all time. It’s one of the great single seasons in NFL history.

Mathieu is returning from a torn ACL suffered in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ December blowout of the Eagles in Week 14 last year. Despite the injury, Mathieu was named first-team All-Pro for the first time in his career, after his stat-line-stuffing season.

He also likely gained a lot of new fans after “All or Nothing,” the NFL FIlms miniseries that chronicled Arizona’s 2015 season. Mathieu and coach Bruce Arians were the stars of the show, their close personal relationship on display along with Mathieu’s fiery leadership and stellar play. When he was injured, the tenor of the show, along with the Cardinals’ postseason hopes, changed.