The Daily Briefing Thursday, October 12, 2017

AROUND THE NFL

 

When the NFL made up its 2017 schedule two teams that got a lot of love from the NFL were the Chiefs and the Giants – if your definition of love is primetime games and prime doubleheader slots.

 

Great choice with the Chiefs who are primetime in Weeks 7, 8 and 15.

 

Not so good with the Giants – and that is likely to mean the NFL will be flexing its schedule muscles.

 

The first flex came on Wednesday for Week 7.  With Seattle at Giants a dud for Tony Romo and company as a 4:25 national game, the NFL and CBS moved Cincinnati at Pittsburgh to the late slot.  And to bolster the CBS Midwest regional audience in the early window, Carolina at Chicago was taken from FOX.   FOX will live with being able to slide the Packers home game with the Saints into Chicago.

 

NFC NORTH

 

DETROIT

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press struggles to describe how QB MATTHEW STAFFORD was moving at practice on Wednesday.

 

As Matthew Stafford moved from one drill to the next during the open portion of Lions practice Wednesday, he did so with a noticeable hitch in his step.

 

Stafford wasn’t quite limping on the right ankle that he injured in last week’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, but he sort of hopped his way into a trot the way someone would when they’re trying to avoid putting too much pressure on their leg.

 

Stafford went through a full practice Wednesday for the first time since he rolled his ankle on a fourth-quarter sack by the Panthers’ Kawann Short.

 

Neither he nor Lions coach Jim Caldwell provided much of an update on his injury before practice, but it was clear — even as backup Jake Rudock appeared to get more work than usual — that Stafford is on track to play this week against the New Orleans Saints.

 

“Feel OK,” Stafford said when asked for an update on his injuries before Wednesday’s workout. “You guys can figure (out if I’m going to play) through the week. Coach handles a lot of that stuff. You know that.”

 

Stafford did not appear to have a brace or any other extra supporting device on his foot, though the edge of what appeared to be a black compression sleeve showed just above his knee on his right leg.

 

ESPN reported that Stafford also suffered a mild hamstring injury against the Panthers, though Stafford was listed only with an “ankle” on the Lions’ practice report.

 

Stafford said he won’t do anything out of the ordinary to get ready for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints — “Just working with our trainers,” he said — and Caldwell declined to say how or if he’ll alter practice this week to account for Stafford’s health.

 

Rudock, a sixth-round pick out of Michigan last year, took a handful of snaps from behind center during an offensive installation period open to reporters Wednesday. He typically throws in that period as a complement to Stafford.

 

“Check the report,” Caldwell said. “You’re trying to find a roundabout way of asking how he is or what his injury is. Check the report.”

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

Apparently those who advocate respectful standing for the National Anthem see themselves as “playing the bad guy.”  Todd Archer of ESPN.com on the sales pitch of Jerry Jones to his players:

 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, in a meeting on Wednesday with players and coaches, said his stance on the national anthem protests was rooted in a desire to play the bad guy and deflect attention from the players, according to a source.

 

In the meeting, Jones sought to ensure that players also saw the bigger picture regarding the business side of the situation, including concerns over TV ratings and sponsors, the source said.

 

Some Cowboys players were frustrated by the recent comments from Jones, who took a knee and stood arm-in-arm with them prior to the playing of the national anthem before a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 25.

 

One player said Jones expected the Cowboys will continue to stand during the anthem. Another said the players had a better feeling for Jones’ comments, because at first he wondered if Jones had turned against them, according to the source.

 

Jones, in the team meeting held after practice, also offered the players a chance to speak with him one-on-one, the source said. Players had been told to bring their concerns about Jones’ comments to the meeting.

 

“It went well,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said of the of the meeting, while attending a promotional event later Wednesday. “I mean we ironed out everything that we needed to at this time.”

 

Since Sunday, Jones has been outspoken regarding his stance that players must “not disrespect the flag” and that they must stand for the anthem or they will be benched.

 

Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, Jones said the players could express themselves prior to the national anthem in a similar manner to how the team handled things before their game at Arizona. Prior to the playing of the anthem at that contest, players stood arm in arm with Jones, other front-office executives, coaches and staff and took a knee. During the anthem, they stood arm in arm.

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

With no one left to cover in practice (Dan Hanzus of NFL.com reports that 89% of the Giants receptions were injured Sunday if you count WR STERLING SHEPARD, ankle, day-to-day), CB DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE has left the team. 

 

Seriously, the New York Daily News has the story on a standoff between the veteran CB and Coach Ben McAdoo:

 

 Giants coach Ben McAdoo suspended Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for leaving the team’s facility on Wednesday morning in reaction to being made inactive for this Sunday’s game in Denver as punishment for alleged transgressions last Friday and Sunday.

 

 But the veteran defensive back called McAdoo’s message “BS,” even as Rodgers-Cromartie pledged to return Thursday. And contrasting accounts that led to his suspension indicate this standoff between Rodgers-Cromartie and McAdoo is far from over.

 

The Giants are allowed to suspend Rodgers-Cromartie a maximum of four weeks for violating the terms of his contract or conduct detrimental to the team, per the collective bargaining agreement. Rodgers-Cromartie, however, could appeal a suspension through the players’ association.

 

Contrasting information flooded in from different sources and reporters throughout Wednesday.

 

Rodgers-Cromartie was absent from practice but not on the injury report. McAdoo followed practice with a vague announcement that he and Rodgers-Cromartie had a “personal” conversation Tuesday and that Rodgers-Cromartie “decided to leave” Wednesday, so “we will suspend him.”

 

The coach’s statement, though, left out the fact that Rodgers-Cromartie’s departure had been in reaction to a disagreement over being told he was benched for the Giants’ Week 6 game.

 

Next, WFAN’s Mike Francesa reported that the suspension was related to Rodgers-Cromartie taking off his pads at halftime Sunday. He reportedly said he wouldn’t go back onto the field, which led to a physical confrontation with another Giant.

 

But Rodgers-Cromartie then shared a different, more colorful account with ESPN’s Josina Anderson. He said he and McAdoo had an argument about playing time on the sideline during Sunday’s loss, admitted he had “handled it the wrong way,” and said he would return Thursday. But he added: “but to sit me a game had me hot, so I left. I was suspended way before I left. I left bc I felt what he said was BS.”

 

Rodgers-Cromartie was under the impression he already had been suspended when he left, given that he had been told he wouldn’t play Sunday in Denver and also would be fined. There is a major financial difference, though, between being fined and benched and suspended.

 

After Rodgers-Cromartie’s comments appeared to contradict McAdoo, team sources tried to paint a fuller picture. The sources said there had been no altercation between the two and that the first time they had spoken of the incident was on Tuesday.

 

The sources said Rodgers-Cromartie had left the bench and gone to the locker room in the second half and then returned to the sideline, which is more in line with WFAN’s initial report. And they said that whatever happened on Sunday resulted in McAdoo telling Rodgers-Cromartie he would be inactive in Denver but that he was expected to prepare all week as if he were going to play.

 

ESPN’s Dan Graziano, then reported that Rodgers-Cromartie had “slammed his helmet down on the sideline, left the team while the game was in progress and went to the locker room with what teammates and coaches understood was with the intent to leave the stadium.”

 

Graziano’s report also said Rodgers-Cromartie was being punished and fined for walking out on the team’s “recovery day” session last Friday. Graziano said the Giants have no plans to release or trade Rodgers-Cromartie and “instead plan to welcome him back with a clean slate once he has served his punishment.”

 

Rodgers-Cromartie’s teammates were caught off guard by the suspension, even though safety Landon Collins suggested there had been an altercation.

 

“It’s a situation between them two,” Collins said. “I wouldn’t say he left the team, he just felt differently about the altercation that happened.”

 

Collins said Rodgers-Cromartie was present on Wednesday for treatment and meetings and did not show any signs of frustration.

 

“He came in with a smile on his face and being the same DRC that he was when he came in,” Collins said. “It surprised us all when (the suspension) happened.”

 

No player could or would confirm or deny the WFAN report of a player confronting Rodgers-Cromartie on Sunday.

 

“I’m not talking about that anymore,” offensive lineman Justin Pugh said after a few questions. “I don’t know the whole situation.”

 

At 0-5, with Odell Beckham Jr. and several players injured and out for the year, Rodgers-Cromartie’s departure is the most obvious sign yet of the Giants unraveling. Eli Apple insisted it’s not. “I don’t think so,” said Apple. “I think the leaders on this team, they’re not going to let anything like that happen.”

 

But it is hard not to think that it’s too late.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA

The Eagles will not have T LANE JOHNSON tonight in Charlotte.  He is still in the concussion protocol.

 

RB WENDELL SMALLWOOD and DT FLETCHER COX are both questionable.

 

Zach Berman in the Phildelaphia Inquirer with more:

 

“He (Cox) is progressing,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Again we’ll take it right up to the 90 minute on game day [to] make that decision. But he is feeling better.”

 

There is more clarity about right tackle Lane Johnson, who has been ruled out with a concussion. Johnson’s absence was expected. The league-mandated concussion protocol makes it difficult for a player concussed on Sunday to be cleared in time to play a Thursday game. Halapoulivaati Vaitai will start in Johnson’s place. The Eagles went 2-4 in the six games Vaitai started last season. They’re 9-2 since last when Lane Johnson is in the lineup. The Eagles are confident that Vaitai is better positioned to start this season than last year.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

NEW ORLEANS

According to NFL.com, the Saints come off their bye as one of only three teams in the Modern Era (which started in 1933? The Great Depression is “Modern”?) to make it through the first four games without a single giveaway.

– – –

Sean Payton says that RB ADRIAN PETERSON still has “it” but that a trade to Arizona for a late-round pick made perfect sense.  Josh Katzenstein in the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

 

When Adrian Peterson met with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton on Tuesday, Payton relayed both good news and bad news to the future Hall of Fame running back.

 

The initial bad news for Peterson was the Saints traded him to the Arizona Cardinals, meaning his time with New Orleans was over after just four games and less than six months on the roster. Peterson, who spent 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings, regularly discussed how much he enjoyed joining a team near his family in Houston and teaming up with another future Hall of Famer in quarterback Drew Brees.

 

But, as much as the trade was bad news in the present, it was also good news for Peterson’s future because in Arizona, the 32-year-old will have more opportunities to show that he can still play to the level he expects. With Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara atop the Saints’ depth chart, it would’ve been hard for Peterson to carve out a bigger role than what he’d seen to start this season.

 

Ultimately, Payton called the trade a “win-win.”

 

“In my discussions yesterday with (Cardinals general manager) Steve Keim, it was like, ‘Hey, this guy still has it, and here’s what he does well and we’ve seen it,'” Payton said Wednesday morning. “it’s just a little crowded right now.”

 

Payton expressed confidence in Ingram and Kamara, and the coach said the timing and opportunity to trade Peterson to Arizona, the NFL’s worst rushing team so far, was “perfect.” The Saints received a conditional sixth-round pick for 2018.

 

“This was done just using common sense, and we had a chance to get a draft pick next year,” Payton said. “I know Arizona was short at this position, and there’s a confidence level we have with how Mark and how Alvin are playing.”

 

Payton also said he developed a great relationship with Peterson during their brief time together. The two regularly met in Payton’s office and would talk “a ton” about the Saints’ offensive scheme and Peterson’s role.

 

“Our relationship, I would say, has been fantastic, and (the trade) was an opportunity really where he was going to obviously get somewhere and be featured more,” Payton said, “and I’m happy that that opportunity has come up and we were able to make a trade.”

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

The Cardinals are acting like they have acquired an ADRIAN PETERSON in his prime.  Kevin Patra at NFL.com:

 

Adrian Peterson stood on the sideline most of his time in New Orleans, rushing just 27 times for 81 yards through four games. After the trade to Arizona, the 32-year-old running back is ready to show he still has what it takes to be a workhorse.

 

“I have so much left,” Peterson said. “I look to play at least four or five more years, god willing. I have a lot left in the tank. Stay tuned. You guys will be able to see that firsthand.”

 

Peterson has heard the discussions that given his age and injury history, perhaps he’s no longer a runner who can carry an offense.

 

“Do I still got it?” Peterson responded to a question. “Well I don’t think it’s that mentality, ‘do I still got it,’ but that’s all you hear from the media…’oh he lost it’ this that and the other. So, of course, in my mind was like, OK, I know that’s not the case. When I go out there I’m always putting my best foot forward and I feel like it will speak for itself.”

 

All Day added it’s not his “first rodeo” playing behind a heretofore struggling offensive line and he’s been able to be productive in the past.

 

Peterson’s mentality meshes with what coach Bruce Arians said he saw on film from the running back in limited opportunities this season.

 

“I’ve been really pleased with tape this years I saw on him this year, it’s just his opportunities dwindled down there (in New Orleans),” Arians said Wednesday. “And I haven’t been satisfied with our running game, and that’s no knock on Chris Johnson (who was cut Tuesday). I love Chris Johnson. It just didn’t work out. When (Peterson) was available, we thought it was the best thing for our football team.”

 

Arians added that Peterson brings an element to the Cardinals running game it’s been missing since David Johnson went down with a wrist injury.

 

“A violent runner who still has it,” Arians said of what he saw from Peterson. “He’s not 22 anymore, but he still pours it up in there and it’s very exciting.”

 

Arians said Peterson would be ready to start Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though the coach added he wouldn’t be in on third downs, as he learns the nuances of the Cardinals passing and blocking schemes.

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

Jamie Eisenberg of CBSSports.com wonders if QB ALEX SMITH and the Chiefs will hit a bump in the road on Sunday – especially from a Fantasy Football perspective:

 

Smith has been amazing so far this year, and he comes into this game as the No. 2 Fantasy quarterback, behind only Watson. He has three games with at least 28 Fantasy points, and he hasn’t scored less than 18 points in any outing yet. But he’s due for a letdown, which should happen this week. Smith has faced the Steelers four times over the past three seasons, and he’s averaging just 255 passing yards in those matchups, with four total touchdowns and one interception. Smith is also 1-3 vs. Pittsburgh over that span. The Steelers have yet to allow a quarterback to score 20 Fantasy points this year, although they haven’t exactly faced stiff competition from guys like Blake Bortles, Joe Flacco, Mike Glennon, Keenum and DeShone Kizer. Still, it’s hard to expect a huge performance from Smith this week, and this will be his worst game of the season against the Steelers.

 

 

THE RAIDERS

Dan Hanzus of NFL.com on WR AMARI COOPER’s plunge:

 

What has happened to Amari Cooper? Ostensibly the Raiders’ No. 1 wide receiver, Cooper has tallied four receptions for 23 yards in his last three games, all Raiders losses. He has 13 catches on the season and seven drops, the most of any receiver in the league, per Pro Football Focus. For what it’s worth, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio believes Cooper had a chance to ball out against the Ravens last Sunday had backup quarterback EJ Manuel shown him some love.

 

“Yeah. I saw five wide-open [looks], shook his guy, was open in space,” Del Rio said, according to ESPN.com. “I would have loved to see that ball get delivered to him there.”

 

Maybe this is just a slump. The alternative is that 23-year-old Amari Cooper is bad at football now, which feels suspect. With Derek Carr set to return this week, don’t be surprised if the Raiders look to get Cooper involved early and often. That would be step one. Step two? Catch the damn ball.

 

The Raiders have only completed 13 of the 33 passes thrown at Cooper.  That would be 20 of 33 without the drops.

 

AFC NORTH

 

CINCINNATI

As TE TYLER EIFERT elects back surgery, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com wonders if we will see him again in a Bengals uniform:

 

Tight end Tyler Eifert has decided to have season-ending back surgery, which means we might have seen the last of him in a Cincinnati Bengals uniform.

 

If that’s the case, one of the last plays fans will remember from Eifert’s five-year stay in Cincinnati will be a touchdown pass against the Texans that was called back because Eifert stepped out of bounds before coming back to make the catch.

 

In some ways, that play sums up Eifert’s career: full of promise but ultimately unfulfilling.

 

Eifert, whose contract expires after the season, was brilliant when he was healthy, but that was not often. At his best, he was a scoring machine, catching 13 touchdown passes in 2015.

 

But Eifert’s list of ailments since he arrived in Cincinnati as a first-round pick in 2013 is long.

 

He missed the final game of his rookie season with a neck injury but made it back for the playoff game. Playing behind Jermaine Gresham, Eifert worked through some injuries that season and was on the injury report for forearm and knee issues.

 

Prior to the 2014 season, a teammate fell on his shoulder, and Eifert tore his left labrum, which caused him to miss the 2014 preseason.

 

He badly dislocated his elbow just eight snaps into the 2014 opener and was out the rest of the season. In addition to the dislocation, he tore his brachialis, the muscle that flexes the elbow. He had two surgeries that fall, one to remove scar tissue from his elbow and one for the labrum tear. He spent the season on injured reserve.

 

He missed three games in 2015 because of neck issues and a concussion.

 

He played in only eight games last season due to ankle and back injuries. The ankle injury, sustained in the previous season’s Pro Bowl, initially kept him out, but the back injury pushed his season debut back even more. His season ended early after the Bengals were eliminated from playoff contention and Eifert elected to have back surgery.

 

Eifert had issues with his back entering Notre Dame and had to have surgery during his freshman season. At this point, it’s fair to wonder if Eifert’s back problems will plague him his entire career. When asked about it in June, Eifert admitted that he’ll always have to work around the back issue, and he even gave up golfing, one of his favorite pastimes.

 

It’s probably time for the Bengals and Eifert to part ways. There’s likely a reason the Bengals, who saved salary-cap room to sign Eifert and Vontaze Burfict to potential extensions, reached a new deal with Burfict but quietly moved on to the season without an extension for Eifert.

 

The Bengals, perhaps more than most teams, always have one eye on the future. It’s why they were interested in tight end O.J. Howard in the draft this year. There was always the possibility that it wouldn’t work out with Eifert.

 

If the Bengals are looking at the future, it’s going to be hard for them to devote a large amount of money to Eifert when they could put that money elsewhere. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap will be going into the final years of their contracts in 2018. The Bengals use their rollover cap space as cushion for future extensions, and it would make more sense to use it on Dunlap and Atkins, who are the core of their defensive line.

 

 

CLEVELAND

KEVIN HOGAN gets his turn on the Browns QB carousel.  Pat McManamon of ESPN.com:

 

Kevin Hogan will be the new starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns when they play the Houston Texans on Sunday, coach Hue Jackson announced Wednesday.

 

“It’s not so much 0-5, it’s how we’re playing on offense,” Jackson told reporters. “I know everybody keeps thinking it’s the record. I have a vision for this offensive football team and I know how this offense works. That’s what I have to get it to. I don’t care how we go about that. We just got to do it.”

 

Hogan, who will make the first start of his career, replaces rookie DeShone Kizer, who was benched after halftime of Sunday’s 17-14 loss to the Jets.

 

“I’m excited,” Hogan said. “It’s another opportunity to go out there and play some ball, which I love. I played a lot of games in college and, when I was out there the other day, it felt like I was in college again. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

 

The offense has struggled under Kizer, who is last in the NFL in Total QBR (18.4) and has thrown the most interceptions (nine). He is 81-of-159 (50.9 percent) with three touchdowns and 12 sacks this season, and in the past five-plus quarters he has played, the Browns were held scoreless.

 

“You want to do whatever you can to be out there playing,” Kizer said. “I don’t play this game to sit on the bench. So now it’s about accepting this as a challenge and doing whatever I can to get back out there and once again be the best quarterback, the best version of myself that I can be when I do get back out there.”

 

Jackson had gone to Kizer as his starter when the season began, saying he would stick with the rookie through all the growing pains. However, he has changed that position.

 

“I’ll say it again: DeShone Kizer has a huge future here with the Cleveland Browns,” Jackson said. “He needs to continue to grow, continue to get better, and he will. There’s no question in my mind that he will. But right now I think this is what’s best for our football team and this is the decision that I’ve made.”

 

Hogan now gets his chance as the 28th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999. He spent the offseason as the fourth quarterback in a three-player competition for the starting job. He did not play in the first preseason game, but eventually earned the backup role ahead of Brock Osweiler (released) and Cody Kessler (No. 3).

 

In another article, McManamon walks down the Lane of Almost Memories:

 

The Cleveland Browns spent the past few days deciding between DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan as the team’s starting quarterback for this Sunday’s game at Houston.

 

Deshaun Watson will start for the Texans.

 

Watson joins a long list of guys who “could have been Browns.” In a nightmare scenario that often seems to happen to the team from Cleveland, the Browns will face one of the quarterbacks they could have taken in April’s draft after a week spent deciding between two guys who started training camp as third and fourth on the depth chart. By the way, Hogan got the nod Wednesday.

 

It’s a similar scenario to a year ago, when the Browns traded the draft pick used to take Carson Wentz to the Eagles, then saw Wentz beat them in the opener.

 

Watson leads the league in Total QBR. Wentz is third.

 

Kizer, the guy the Browns selected to start the season and the guy coach Hue Jackson praised effusively, is last. And the Browns are 0-5.

 

It’s these kinds of tales that have Browns fans ripping up their jerseys — and perhaps their future season-ticket orders — because it’s a recurring theme. Going all the way back to 2004, the Browns have bypassed quarterbacks who have gone on to have success with other teams.

 

The seminal moment in this history took place in the ’04 draft. Ben Roethlisberger grew up in Ohio and played collegiately in Ohio. He was right down the road.

 

But with few exceptions, then-coach Butch Davis had a habit of drafting only players he had a) coached, b) recruited or c) played against at the University of Miami.

 

Roethlisberger came from the MAC, and Davis privately told people with the Browns he was not a fan.

 

Davis preferred two Miami players he had recruited: safety Sean Taylor or tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. With Roethlisberger watching in the draft room in New York, Davis tried unsuccessfully to trade up to get Taylor, then selected Winslow.

 

The Steelers happily took Roethlisberger, and Davis cast his lot with Jeff Garcia, who lasted one 4-12 season in Cleveland.

 

Bypassing Roethlisberger continues to torment the Browns, especially since he plays right down the turnpike.

 

Since that draft, the Browns have gone 62-151 and have not been in a single playoff game. The Steelers have not had a losing season, have been to the playoffs nine times, played in the Super Bowl three times and won two.

 

Roethlisberger against the Browns is 21-2 as a starter, and 1-0 when he came off the bench in a game in which he wasn’t supposed to play.

 

To say the Browns haven’t recovered from that draft is accurate. But that’s just one pick that “could have been” that has held the Browns back. Yes, going back through drafts is the easiest second guess in the world. Every team has its misses, and every team in the league missed on Tom Brady five times.

 

But in the Browns’ world, when the quarterback position has been such a mystery, missing on quarterback after quarterback is befuddling — at best.

 

Here’s a look back, in reverse order, at guys who could have been Browns from each draft — going only into the first two rounds.

 

2017

 

Could have had: Mitchell Trubisky, Watson

Took: DeShone Kizer (second round)

 

It’s tough to criticize the Browns for taking Myles Garrett over Trubisky with the first overall pick, but when the Bears took Trubisky second and Kansas City took Patrick Mahomes II 10th, the Browns were sitting at the 12th spot with Watson coming off a glittering college career and national championship upset win over Alabama. Cleveland chose instead to make a trade with Houston that got them the Texans’ first-round pick in 2018 along with Houston’s first-round pick in 2017, which became safety Jabrill Peppers. The long-term success of this deal will be determined, but Watson had the highest Total QBR in each of the past two weeks and has three of the top 11 this season. For the season, Watson is No. 1 in the NFL in QBR and Kizer is last.

 

2016

 

Could have had: Jared Goff, Wentz

Took: Cody Kessler (third round)

 

Acquiring Goff would have taken an aggressive move, but the Browns ranked Goff the top quarterback in the draft and were not aggressive in pursuing him. The Rams were, and they are happy with their decision, as Goff has shown improvement this season. He ranks seventh in passing yards and has seven touchdowns to three interceptions. Wentz is the real guy the Browns could have had, as they traded that pick to the Eagles. Philadelphia is ecstatic they have Wentz. On Sunday, Kizer was benched and Wentz threw four touchdown passes. He has 10 TDs this season, sixth in the league, and is completing 62.2 percent of his passes with a rating of 97.7. He was a gimme at the second overall pick.

 

2014

 

Could have had: Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo

Took: Johnny Manziel (first round)

 

This decision set the Browns back years — the two years they wasted on Manziel, plus the extra time it takes to find and develop a guy. Bridgewater was doing good things until he was sidelined by a serious knee injury. Carr — the choice of Joe Banner and others in the organization before they were fired — has been outstanding in Oakland. And the Browns tried to pry Garoppolo from the Patriots via trade in the offseason. Manziel is out of football.

 

2012

 

Could have had: Robert Griffin III

Took: Brandon Weeden (first round)

 

The Browns tried to trade up with the Rams to get the pick that turned out to be Griffin, but the Redskins won the bidding and Mike Holmgren was left futilely trying to explain what happened on a conference call with season-ticket holders. No, Griffin did not sustain success in Washington. But the Browns did not have a quarterback when they could not complete this deal. They wound up with Weeden, who became a victim of the Browns’ churning quarterback meat grinder.

 

2011

 

Could have had: Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick

 

This was the draft the Browns traded out of the Julio Jones slot and took defensive lineman Phil Taylor. Jones is one of the best players in the league. As for the second-round quarterbacks, there hasn’t been much outcry about them. But Dalton has won 58 games and has been to the playoffs five times as a starter, and Kaepernick played in a Super Bowl and twice played in the NFC Championship Game. The Browns had Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace.

 

2009

 

Could have had: Mark Sanchez

 

The significance of Sanchez? The Browns traded the pick to the Jets so they could take him. His career has withered, but he did play in two AFC Championship Games.

 

2005

 

Could have had: Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell

Took: Charlie Frye (third round)

 

A lot of teams missed on Rodgers, as he dropped to Green Bay with the 24th pick. The Browns weren’t interested in him because they had traded for Trent Dilfer. Instead of taking a quarterback, they took receiver Braylon Edwards third.

 

2004

 

Could have had: Roethlisberger

 

Enough said.

 

The DB wondered why McManamon didn’t mention 2007 when the Browns drafted Brady Quinn, but then we took a look at all the other QBs drafted that year.  There truly was not a better option.

 

Round            

                                               

1                      JaMarcus Russell       Oakland                      LSU

1                      Brady Quinn               Cleveland                    Notre Dame

2                      Kevin Kolb                  Philadelphia                Houston

2                      John Beck                   Miami                         Brigham Young

2                      Drew Stanton              Detroit                        Michigan State

3                      Trent Edwards             Buffalo                        Stanford

4                      Isaiah Stanback           Dallas                        Washington

5                      Jeff Rowe                    Cincinnati                   Nevada

5                      Troy Smith                   Baltimore                   Ohio State

6                      Jordan Palmer             Washington                UTEP

7                      Tyler Thigpen               Minnesota                  Coastal Carolina

 

Stanton, Carson Palmer’s backup in Arizona, is the last man standing from this group.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

INDIANAPOLIS

The slow return of QB ANDREW LUCK continues as he will practice twice this week.  The AP:

 

Andrew Luck will be back on the Colts’ practice field Thursday and Saturday this week.

 

Coach Chuck Pagano gave the update during a conference call Wednesday.

 

Pagano described Luck’s progression as “coming along good.”

 

The Colts’ quarterback returned to practice last Wednesday, the first time he’s worked out with his teammates since having surgery on his throwing shoulder in January. So far, Luck has been limited to throwing every other day.

 

Indy (2-3) was off on Tuesday and Wednesday as it prepares for Monday’s matchup at Tennessee.

 

In his latest update, Pagano said Luck’s strength was improving, but that he wouldn’t risk a setback by rushing his best player back too quickly.

 

AFC EAST

 

MIAMI

The move to JAY CUTLER, which the DB must admit to liking at the time, isn’t working out.  The Dolphins have 3 offensive touchdowns while NFL.com reports every other team has at least 7.

 

Now, we would point out that most of those other teams have played one more game than the Dolphins who still are only 2-2.

– – –

More details emerge about the fall of Chris Foerster who met the woman in question when the Dolphins were displaced by Hurricane Irma.  Will Brinson of CBSSports.com:

 

More details continue to emerge regarding former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster and the video he sent to a Las Vegas model Kijuana Njie in which he was seen snorting a white, powdered substance before heading into a team meeting.

– – –

In an interview with the “Dan LeBatard Show” on ESPN Radio on Wednesday, Njie said she released the video because she was worried Foerster “low-key threatened” her about exposing the video.

 

“He basically sent me a message saying anything I planned to do or tried to harm him will be turned over to his job’s security team,” Njie said, via the Miami Herald. “After he sent the video, he came off his high and low-key kind of threatened me if I ended up exposing the information. Before he could do anything to me, I felt that needed to be exposed.

 

“Just in case I somehow pop up dead, that story was still going to get out.”

 

According to Njie, she and Foerster met for the first time back when the Dolphins were practicing out in California before playing the Chargers in Week 1. At the time Foerster was looking for “entertainment.”

 

“He was calling for entertainment,” Njie said. “He did mention he wanted to party. We met multiple times. Chris Foerster used me as his cocaine platter. … I was dating him.”

 

A lot to unpack there. Also: Njie said that while she “cares” about the Dolphins coach, she also believes strongly she needed to take him down to “expose the inequalities in the system.”

 

“My motive was to basically expose the inequalities in the system,” Njie said. “It’s not just the NFL. The inequalities that come with being a minority compared with a white privileged person in America in general. This is shining light on the inequalities we have as a country. We don’t get paid the same amount as everyone else.

 

“To be completely honest, me and my best friend actually already had plans to record him someway regardless to expose him. Even if he didn’t send that video, it was going to be exposed because it needed to be exposed.

 

“How do we have someone who is paid millions to be a leader for a team doing blow when we can’t have blacks kneeling for the anthem. After I realized his habits and who he was and everything going on the system, he was going to get exposed.”

 

As a result of her comments and her decision to expose Foerster, Njie said that she has received death threats from various people, although roughly 70 percent of the people commenting on the situation are supporting her.

 

Njie also added that she has more footage of Foerster, which she plans to expose at some point in time and, while she never saw any other members of the Dolphins team hanging around and doing drugs with Foerster, he “spoke to” her about “other people.”

 

“When we were together, there was no one else around,” Njie said. “But he spoke to me about other people.”

 

 

NEW ENGLAND

QB TOM BRADY tells us not to be concerned about his left shoulder, he isn’t.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Tom Brady has an injury to his left shoulder. It doesn’t seem that it will cause him to miss Sunday’s game against the Jets.

 

“I’m good,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m not worried about it.”

 

He said he also wasn’t worried about getting an MRI, and he made it clear no one should be concerned about the possibility of him not playing this week.

 

“I’ll be there Sunday,” Brady said. “Don’t worry about that. I’ll be there.”

 

It doesn’t change the fact that he has an injury that apparently is causing him pain through which he’ll have to play.

 

“I think everybody [plays through pain],” he said. “I mean, there’s a lot of bumps and bruises over the course of a year. So I’m not concerned.”

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

ANTHEM

Today in the Anthem Debate, the Commissioner seems to walk back his expectations for all players to respectfully stand for Our National Anthem:

 

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that “there has been no policy change” regarding players standing for the national anthem before games.

 

Speaking with NFL Network’s Nate Burleson in New York, Goodell addressed a claim made Wednesday morning by President Trump on Twitter that the NFL is “demanding” players stand for the anthem.

 

“What we’ve had is unprecedented dialogue over the last year with our players, our owners, with community leaders and law enforcement,” Goodell said. “What we plan to do is have a very in-depth discussion with the players and owners next week to make sure we truly understand the issues and also understand the approach we want to take together with the players to address these issues in our communities.”

 

A league spokesperson told NFL.com on Wednesday that “commentary this morning about the Commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together.”

 

In a joint statement released by the NFL and NFL Players Association on Wednesday, both the league and union stated there have been no changes to the current policy regarding the national anthem:

 

“Commissioner Roger Goodell reached out to NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith today and both he and player leadership will attend the League meetings next week. There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem. The agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized. Everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these issues in a civil and constructive way.”

 

Goodell told Burleson that “the real dialogue and the real issues have been overtaken by the controversy” surrounding the national anthem.

 

“What we want to do is get back to focusing on the actions that we want to take to really improve our communities and support our players to get things done,” Goodell said. “We want to get to from our current situation to where we are really making a difference in the community and get involved in action that is going to have a positive outcome for our law enforcement, for our communities, and for our country overall.”

 

Goodell also stressed to Burleson the importance of having a dialogue to learn and understand from one another.

 

“We need more understanding,” Goodell said, “and that’s what has happened for us over the last year with our players going into their communities and doing the listen and learning tours, going to ride-alongs, listening to community leaders, going to bail proceedings, and seeing what the players have focused on is what they want to try to improve in their communities. By sharing that with our owners, our owners support that effort. They understand this is important to our players and they want to help them make a difference. That is what’s so unique about this — our owners and players coming together to help use the platform to make great changes in our community. The bottom line is, we all agree we want to make our communities better.”

 

Miami Dolphins players, team staff and Goodell on Tuesday met with Miami-area police as part of team’s Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. The group met with North Miami Police Dept. and Broward County Sheriff officers as part of the program, which included a ride along.

 

“The most important thing I’ve learned is how important this is to our players and how much work they have actually done in their communities to identify these issues and identify solutions, more importantly,” Goodell said. “By sharing that with us and sharing that with our ownership, there is a deeper understanding of each other and how we can go about making our communities better, collectively. We want to support one another in that effort and that is what makes me proudest of our players and proudest of our league.”

 

Goodell added: “I do think there’s a sense of urgency because we want to get in the communities and make a positive impact. It’s important for us to continue to work together. The urgency that we all feel is continuing the work that we are doing, keeping focused and having a positive outcome for our players, our communities, our teams, our fans and for the leaders in our communities. I believe that urgency is actually beneficial — but this isn’t something that started two weeks ago, this is something that we have been focused on for well over a year. It requires patience and a deeper understanding than we have on a lot of these issues. I know our fans are focused on football, as they should be. We want to get that focus on football. We want to support our players, support our communities, and help make them better.”

 

The NFL got some surprising, qualified support on the airwaves on Wednesday.  William Cummings of USA TODAY:

 

Few people have stronger conservative bona fides than Rush Limbaugh, but even the paragon of right-wing radio is starting to have doubts about the way President Trump is tackling NFL players’ national anthem protests.

 

Limbaugh, of course, thinks the players are disrespecting the anthem, the flag, the cops and the military. But he expressed fears Wednesday that Trump is leading America toward a slippery slope by using the power of the presidency to demand the NFL force players to stand for the anthem.

 

“Trump is in the right, don’t misunderstand,” Limbaugh said on his show. “But no president should have dictatorial power over individual behavior. A president should not be able to tell the owners of a business how their employees are gonna act and what they’re gonna swear allegiance to and all that. That’s up to the owners to do, and it’s up to the owners to come up with a system of punishment if their employees violate company policy, like it is in any other business.”

 

Limbaugh stressed that he thinks Trump’s “motives are pure” but he said he doesn’t “think that it is useful or helpful for any employee anywhere to be forced to do something because the government says they must. That scares hell out of me.”

 

“We don’t want the president being able to demand anybody that he’s unhappy with behave in a way he requires,” he added. “That’s scary to me, even if the president’s somebody I happen to like.”

 

 

FORMER PLAYER ARRESTED

Tracy Porter, a defensive back on the Super Bowl-winning Saints, is in trouble with the law in Baton Rouge.  WWLTV:

 

A Super Bowl Saint was arrested in Baton Rouge on drug and battery charges.

 

According to the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, officers arrested Tracy Porter on Oct. 10 after a woman claimed he attacked her five days earlier.

 

According to the affidavit, the unidentified victim came to police on Oct. 5 and told them she was in an argument with Porter that turned physical. The victim stated that she met with Porter to get the keys to her home back, but he was upset and pushed her up against his car.

 

The victim told police that Porter then grabbed her around the face and neck. The police officer taking the report noted that the woman had fresh bruises consistent with her story.