The Daily Briefing Wednesday, June 14, 2017
AROUND THE NFL
The headline may be a little bit premature (IS THIS THE NFL’S FIRST FEMALE PLAYER?) but Lars Anderson of Bleacher Report has a good look here at Becca Longo, who will be attending Adams State University, a Division II school in Colorado, on a football scholarship.
About a dozen women have played college football at various levels. In 1997 Liz Heaston became the first female to score in a college football game when she kicked an extra point for Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, then an NAIA school. But it’s safe to say that no female kicker has ever possessed the pure ability of the 5’11,” 145-pound Longo, who has kicked a 50-yard field goal in practice and routinely splits the uprights from 45.
“If you can play football and you have determination, I don’t care what your gender is,” says Timm Rosenbach, a former NFL quarterback and the head coach at Adams State. “And Becca can play, simple as that. She’s got accuracy and she’s got a powerful leg, which will only get stronger. We brought her to Adams State for a reason: to compete for a job and help us win football games.”
Longo’s college career will begin in mid-July when she moves into her dorm room in Alamosa and starts working out with the Grizzlies. It will mark the culmination of an unlikely journey into history, one that began at Queen Creek High in Queen Creek, Arizona.
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When Becca was five, her older brother, Bobby, played defensive end at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California. Bobby was Becca’s hero—she mimicked all he did—and the two often played catch in the backyard. Becca never missed one of his games.
Becca was sitting in the stands with her parents one game during that 2004 season when the team’s kicker, a young woman named Heidi Garrett, blasted a 48-yard field goal through the uprights—still the national record for the longest high school field goal by a female. At an end-of-the-season team party for players and their families, Becca couldn’t stop staring at Heidi, her new hero who practically glowed in the dark to little Becca. She had found her role model.
Bob Longo also was intrigued by this female kicker, but for a different reason. He had seen Heidi and her father, Rance, spend countless hours together on different football fields, the father shagging balls and offering love and support to his daughter. To Bob’s eye, the two were a picture of joy.
“I always envied them,” Bob says. “They had a great father-daughter relationship. I hoped that one day I’d have the same kind of connection with Becca.”
Soon they would.
The Zendejas Detailing shop in Phoenix sits in an industrial park near the airport. Most of the expansive square footage in this warehouse-like structure is devoted to cars, but Alex has partitioned a corner for what he considers his true calling: developing young kickers.
The indoor kicking space features 20-foot ceilings and a kicking net with tape plastered on it in the form of a goal post. The longest field goal a student can attempt is only 20 yards, but distance is not Zendejas’ primary focus.
“About 80 percent of kicks are extra points, so we begin by teaching proper form and technique,” says Zendejas, who has coached seven All-State kickers in Arizona since 2006 and who has had four family members kick in the NFL. “Kicking is like any other position in football in that it requires work and a tremendous amount of practice.”
On a recent May afternoon, Longo strolled into the makeshift indoor kicking field, her long brunette hair pulled into a ponytail, her dark eyes flashing. “Let’s do this,” she says enthusiastically. “Time to get better.”
Longo has an athlete’s easy, confident gait. She began playing soccer at nine and was a star shooting guard on her high school basketball team. Sports have always come easy to her.
Now, in the sweltering heat of the Zendejas kicking gym, Longo stretches for 10 minutes while listening to the counsel of Zendejas and his son Alex Jr., who kicked for Arizona from 2008 to 2011. She then began to kick as Alex Sr. and Alex Jr. watched intently with their arms folded.
Over 30 minutes, she struck about 40 balls and split the bars on about 90 percent of them. At one point, Longo made 19 straight. The power and lift she generated on her kicks were staggering.
– – –
And she did. In her first season of kicking on junior varsity, Longo made 30 of 33 point-after attempts and was four-of-four on field goals, with a long of 30 yards.
Day by day, kick by kick, her leg was growing stronger—and so was her confidence.
– – –
Longo transferred to Basha High before her junior year for “social reasons,” she says. This forced her to sit out that football season.
But she still kicked. One evening in the summer of 2015 at a local park, with her father fetching balls, she drilled a 50-yarder, her career long in practice.
She joined the Basha varsity football team for the 2016 season. In one early-season game a player from Pinnacle High bumped into Longo after an extra point. She promptly pushed him back—an act that further endeared her to her teammates.
“The players embraced Becca from the first day of practice because they saw two things: one, she’s good; and two, she’s an athlete,” says Gerald Todd, the former head coach at Basha.
Last season, Longo connected on 33 of 38 extra-point attempts—”The five misses were all blocks by guys coming around the ends,” says Bob Longo—and made her only field-goal attempt from 30 yards. During the season she created a highlight video and sent it to 10 schools, including Adams State.
“I had heard of Becca because of the simple fact that she was a girl playing football, and I recruit the Phoenix area,” says Josh Blankenship, the offensive coordinator at Adams State. “I met her at her school and was blown away by her poise, her confidence and her desire. I immediately thought, ‘This is a player we can work with.'”
Bob Longo researched the Adams State coaches as much as the coaching staff dug into the background of his daughter. Bob wanted Becca to play for a coach who could empathize with her unique situation. “I wanted her to be coached by someone who had daughters,” Bob says. “Coach Rosenbach has two great daughters. That sold me.”
QB MIKE GLENNON says he will be glad to help QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY take his job. Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk.com:
After the NFL draft, Bears quarterback Mike Glennon went from feeling confident he owned the starting job to wondering how long it would be before first-round pick Mitchell Trubisky replaced him. But while that might seem like an awkward arrangement, Glennon says he’s fine with it.
Glennon said this morning on PFT Live that he and Trubisky work well together in the quarterback room, and he’s happy to help Trubisky adjust to the NFL while also competing to keep the No. 1 quarterback job.
“Mitch has done a great job,” Glennon said. “I’m going to help him out as much as I can, but at the same time my job is to get ready and win games for the Chicago Bears. Along the way I’m going to help him, I’m going to be a great teammate, but my mindset is to get myself ready as much as I can, and along the way if I can help him, that’s great.”
Glennon said that if the Bears’ coaches decide to give Trubisky some playing time while Glennon is still the starter, he’ll be OK with that.
“If it helps us move the chains and helps our offense out, that’s fine,” Glennon said.
That’s about the best the Bears can hope for, a veteran quarterback who’s ready to help the rookie who was drafted to replace him.
Coach Jim Caldwell does a comedic impersonation, yes he did. Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com:
Jim Caldwell is known for his stoicism at the podium and on the sideline. Rare is the occasion when he’ll crack a joke or show massive emotion.
But it is minicamp and that usually means time for some levity — something the 62-year-old Detroit Lions coach showed Tuesday after the podium he was standing at continually made booming noises during a question about whether or not it was an advantage to have a workhorse running back or a by-committee approach, which the Lions have used.
After a couple of booms with the initial question — prompting Caldwell to have the question repeated — he channeled Melissa McCarthy’s impersonation of White House press secretary Sean Spicer from this season of “Saturday Night Live.” Or at least one part of the ongoing skits.
“The answer I would give you, and I try to be good about answering questions that you guys ask me half the time, but most of them are self-explanatory,” Caldwell said, followed by another boom. “This thing doesn’t move. I can’t get the wheels on it so I can come after you.
“But it’s who you have and what you have. I find great benefit in both.”
Caldwell then went on to give a detailed answer to the question, but the joke was maybe the best one Caldwell made at the podium in his three-plus years as the Lions’ head coach. He was clearly referencing the “Saturday Night Live” skits with McCarthy playing Spicer and the rolling podium — including one in the SNL season finale in which McCarthy, as Spicer, is motoring down a New York City street behind the podium.
The Lions coach said he hasn’t watched the skits too much, but it’s clear he got some joking inspiration from them.
“I see a clip here or there,” Caldwell said. “Some of them are pretty funny.”
Charles Robinson of YahooSports.com declares the Cowboys to be the clear favorites in the NFC.
The Seattle Seahawks have made headlines for reported locker room discord. The New York Giants have the Odell Beckham Jr. contract negotiations hanging overhead. Even the fully loaded Atlanta Falcons have their own brand of problems – like replacing the NFL’s best offensive coordinator while simultaneously getting over that Super Bowl breakdown.
In this vein, the Dallas Cowboys are laying in the weeds. Not quite the hammerlock Super Bowl favorite like the New England Patriots, but looking more and more capable of being the NFC’s title favorite.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems, mind you. The defense has questions all over the place despite an infusion of talent in the draft. Quarterback Dak Prescott has a whole new set of expectations and the offensive line is being fine-tuned. And running back Ezekiel Elliott, well, his offseason has been one of maintenance (a car accident, a less-than-smart tug on a woman’s shirt, a lingering domestic violence investigation, etc.). Beneath all that, the Cowboys achieved a fairly calm offseason. No contract issues. Little controversy. And maybe most important of all: near 100 percent attendance in the team’s offseason program, which in today’s NFL, is a very big deal.
In some ways, the quiet line Dallas has been walking has been a dream. After a litany of offseasons packed with questions about Tony Romo’s health or replacing DeMarco Murray or years of some disjointed Dez Bryant issue, there has been a palpable change in tune with this franchise. One that features a consistent storyline. Specifically, the transition of aging leadership to a group of players who will comprise the franchise core into the next decade.
By all accounts, Dallas will head into the offseason break having accomplished exactly what it wanted this offseason – closing the transition into the hands of Prescott; keeping Elliott from being suspended (or something worse); and getting everyone to show up for nine weeks and lay a foundation of chemistry. All of that while largely avoiding drama. Apart from a few small lumps in the batter, the recipe will likely produce the NFC’s Super Bowl favorite when training camp begins in July. So long as nobody screws it up when the team’s month-long break begins on Friday.
“Ownership, Jason [Garrett] – that’s really what we’re trying to get done,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said of the fairly calm offseason. “I really credit the culture we have here, because it’s really driven by the players and their wanting to buy in to what we’re doing. … [We could] spend a lot of time talking about what we’re going to do. I think we spend most of our time working towards what we want to do and that’s a good start.”
The specific definition of what Dallas is working toward is fairly simple. An edition that is measured and consistent – a tandem approach that has rarely stuck in decades of Jerry Jones ownership. But that’s what this offseason has supplied, with leadership that is straddling two worlds and finding some kind of new chemistry. In one, guys like tight end Jason Witten and linebacker Sean Lee are the veteran pillars rebalancing a leadership void left behind by Tony Romo. In another, Prescott and Elliott are the next cornerstones who will define the franchise from 2017 forward. And somewhere in the middle of those two worlds is Bryant, who is a little of both, with enough experience to lead anyone in the locker room, but also enough youth to still be a long-term piece of the puzzle. If there is a group of guys who will make or break all of this, it’s that five. That five and an offensive line that should still be the NFL’s bar-setter as a unit.
That’s not to discount the rest of the NFC – which has a number of teams with as much (or more) talent from top to bottom. But the problems approaching each aren’t small. The lingering discord (despite players insisting it’s overblown) can’t be downplayed in Seattle, which had an oddly awkward offseason for a team that is still built to contend. There are those in the franchise who are scratching their heads over what exactly happened with Marshawn Lynch, a departure that doesn’t happen without some yet-to-be-explained subtext. The Seahawks’ best cornerback and locker room cornerstone, Richard Sherman, doesn’t just end up on the trading block for no reason. And the contract gripes of a few players are still a thing in Seattle.
Atlanta? We have no idea how well the offense – or quarterback Matt Ryan – is going to function without Kyle Shanahan. Considering how far he brought the quarterback position for the Falcons last season, his loss is immense (and vastly underplayed). And there’s no telling how the team will respond to the Super Bowl loss, which will continue to be a question throughout 2017. Go ask the Carolina Panthers when people stopped asking about the Super Bowl hangover. They haven’t. And they won’t when it comes to Atlanta.
Dallas will benefit from that. It will also benefit from Romo having another legitimate star-making job in television. Not to mention the lack of sticky contract talks lying in wait for training camp. Even the schedule gives Dallas a blessing, by virtue of a Hall of Fame game that will bless the Cowboys with a fifth preseason game that is planned to be almost entirely devoted to rookies and players in their second and third seasons. That extra week of preseason practice means more snaps for Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Switzer, Jaylon Smith and Rico Gathers – all who could play significant roles next season.
“[The Hall of Fame game] is a benefit,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “Especially when you’ve got a lot of young players there. You go in, you get them more drill work, maybe more reps, another extra game of football to evaluate guys. We’ve got a good, healthy roster.”
And now Dallas is headed toward a good, healthy month off – and all of the hand-wringing that comes with it. Inevitably, missteps happen in that void. The kind that have defined this franchise in recent years. The kind that Dallas has largely avoided this offseason. What waits on the other side is a training camp that should greet Dallas as the NFC’s favorite. If only the Cowboys can stay the course and make it one more month.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Pat Leonard in the New York Daily News believes that WR ODELL BECKHAM is who he is.
Odell Beckham Jr. said Tuesday that he is trying to “grow and mature,” but it doesn’t appear he is going to change.
On Tuesday at Giants minicamp, Beckham was the same combination of committed yet controversial that he has been his whole career, including his pass-dropping, wall-punching flameout Jan. 8 in Green Bay. His presence at the mandatory camp was positive, but that development was dampened by Beckham’s conflicting responses on if his OTA absences were contract-related.
It all began Monday night, in fact, when Beckham posted several Instagram photos of a shirtless California offseason workout, wearing shorts with the phrase “F— Em!”, and a caption that read, “Know your worth.”
Then on Tuesday afternoon, after a reflective Beckham explained his pursuit of growth and maturity – citing a book that Tom Brady champions, “The Four Agreements,” as a motivational guide – the Giants receiver bobbed and weaved enough on the contract question to keep it relevant.
Later Beckham’s friend, shoe artist Kickasso, even posted photos on social media of the cleats Beckham had worn to practice, and they reflected his continued frustration with his media coverage, belying the composed image Beckham had presented just hours before.
The cleats had the names of several newspapers and media outlets written in black, with either an X or the word “SHHHH!” covering them in red ink.
And so the Giants will continue to want more of Odell but also more from Odell. Meanwhile, Beckham may want more money from the Giants, but he is treading lightly if that’s the case. He did show up, after all.
Here’s how it went Tuesday. Try to keep up: Beckham first said he will leave his contract situation “in the hands of the man above.” Then when asked if he had skipped OTAs over his contract, he answered: “You’d probably have to ask the people who do the contracts and stuff. I wouldn’t be able to tell you.”
Next he was asked pointedly if he wanted his deal reworked before the fall.
“I couldn’t really tell you,” he said. “Any contract questions (are) not really for me to discuss. I haven’t really talked with anybody about contracts so it’s something that’s been in the air, it kind of was the talk that was brought up among other people. It never was really in my discussions.”
Then Beckham said of any link between his contract and OTA absence: “I don’t know if it had to do with me not being here or not, or what the case may be. I don’t really decide when I get a contract or how that even works to be honest. I really couldn’t tell you. I don’t have any experience (with) it.”
Beckham eventually answered “no” when asked directly again if he had been motivated by his contract to skip OTAs, but altogether his treatment of the subject felt off and deflective. It was tough to know where he stood.
“No, I was just out in L.A. training,” Beckham said. “I’ve seen the whole holdout and all that stuff, and I’ve never really seen it work, so that was never in my mind to, ‘I’m not gonna go to OTAs to get a new contract.’ I don’t think that really proves a point, in my opinion. So I was really just out there (in California) to really take that time for myself, reflect on life and value what’s important and to grow and mature. You should be growing each and every year, each and every day until you leave this Earth.”
It is unclear how this will play out. Beckham’s last answer seemed to dispel any notion that he would hold out from training camp this summer, for example, to force a new deal. His sentiment about John Mara’s recent comment that he wants Beckham to be a Giant for life also felt reassuring.
“I think we’re on the same page there,” Beckham said. “I would love to be here for the rest of my life.”
On the other hand, Beckham continues to carry an awfully lofty opinion of himself that could backfire in contract discussions. He compared his need to bounce back from last season to “LeBron losing a Finals.” That would be comparing a three-time NBA champion to an NFL player with an 0-1 career playoff record.
TE GREG OLSEN would like a contract adjustment according to Joseph Person in the Charlotte Observer:
In the spring of 2015 the Carolina Panthers moved to lock up tight end Greg Olsen, who was coming off the first 1,000-yard receiving season of his career.
The Panthers signed Olsen to a three-year extension worth $22.5 million, with $12 million guaranteed.
All Olsen has done since then is post two more 1,000-yard seasons, becoming the first tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive 1,000-yard years.
Olsen’s production and reliability – he has made 80 consecutive starts for the Panthers – make his last deal look like a bargain hunter’s dream. Olsen’s extension was similar to those received by offensive tackle Michael Oher (three years for $21.6 million, with $9.5 million guaranteed) in 2016 and situational edge-rusher Mario Addison (three years, $22.5 million, $9 million guaranteed) in March.
By just about any measure, Olsen has out-performed the contract, which runs through the 2018 season.
And now he wants another one.
Olsen, who’s made the Pro Bowl the past three seasons, is looking for a deal that is commensurate with the NFL’s top tight ends, according to a pair of league sources.
Olsen’s $7.5 million per-year average makes him the league’s seventh-highest paid tight end, behind Jimmy Graham ($10 million), Travis Kelce ($9.4 million), Jordan Reed ($9.35 million), Rob Gronkowski ($9 million), Zach Ertz ($8.5 million) and Charles Clay ($7.6 million).
Olsen is 12th among tight ends in terms of guaranteed money.
It’s not a stretch to say Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is underpaid. But the Panthers might not be willing to do anything about it.
Davie Hinshaw firstname.lastname@example.org
Olsen, who will make $6.5 million over the next two years, was asked Tuesday if he hoped the Panthers would re-work his deal.
“In the ideal world, that’d be great,” Olsen said. “I’m very confident on where I stand in the league and where I belong. Both productivity and all things considered, there’s nobody that’s been more productive or more consistent than I have. And I’ll stand on that until the cows come home.”
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He didn’t practice, but T MICHAEL OHER was in Charlotte for mini-camp. NFL.com:
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Oher, who has been dealing with a medical issue, reported to the facility on Tuesday, according to a source. Oher was scheduled to meet with doctors, according to the team.
Per reporters on site, the offensive tackle wasn’t seen at the early portion of practice.
Oher participated in just three games in 2016 as he dealt with concussion issues. The 31-year-old skipped all of the voluntary work this offseason. He also was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge following an incident in Nashville in April.
Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com doubts that RB ADRIAN PETERSON is going to be all that great at age 32:
No one was surprised when the Vikings decided in February to let Adrian Peterson walk instead of paying him $18 million next season. The 2007 first-round pick, long considered the best running back in the NFL, was hampered by a knee injury last season, and at 32, history suggests he’s well past his prime.
But by late April, the Saints had signed Peterson to a two-year deal. On the surface, the best-case scenario was that Peterson would be able to spell feature back Mark Ingram. But voluntary workouts have Peterson’s new teammates marveling at how much he resembles, well, Adrian Peterson.
“He’s a stud, man. He looks the part,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said in early June. “There’s something about handing the ball off to that guy and watching him run through the hole and take on anybody who tries to tackle him.”
Saints left tackle Terron Armstead added: “I’m amazed, honestly. Seeing him just take off his first few steps are as explosive as I’ve ever seen by a human being. It’s unbelievable. I’m very excited to see him when the pads come on.”
And here’s Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro: “It’s ridiculous. He has not lost any steps. Wait, just watch. He’s so explosive … just in flat shoes out there.”
Peterson has said that he feels like he could play till 37 or 38 — “approaching 40,” even — which brings us back to Vaccaro.
“Like he’s not lying, y’all, he’s playing til he’s 40,” Vaccaro said recently. “I’m telling y’all. Y’all about to see like when he tore his knee and came back and ran for 2,000 yards. Now, obviously, we aren’t gonna just feed him like that … but he is gonna be a factor.”
Vaccaro’s referring to when Peterson tore his ACL in December 2011, rehabbed all offseason and started 16 games in 2012 rushing for 2,097 yards (6.0 YPC) and 12 touchdowns. It was superhuman, even in the finely-tuned world of professional athletics. But now Peterson is 32 and coming off a meniscus injury that sidelined him for three months last season — and limited him to just 37 carries, a 1.9 yards-per-carry average and zero touchdowns.
Jeff Duncan @JeffDuncan_
This is my 20th year covering the NFL. I’ve never heard players hype someone the way the Saints talked about Adrian Peterson on Thursday.
Before we try to predict the future, let’s first look at just how dominant Peterson was for much of his first decade in the league with both conventional stats and Football Outsiders’ total-value metric.
2007: 14 games, 1,341 yards, 5.6 YPC, 12 TDs, No. 4 in total value;
2008: 16 games, 1,760 yards, 4.8 YPC, 10 TDs, No. 17 in total value;
2009: 16 games, 1,383 yards, 4.4 YPC, 18 TDs, No. 10 in total value;
2010: 15 games, 1,298 yards, 4.6 YPC, 12 TDs, No. 6 in total value;
2011*: 12 games, 970 yards, 4.7 YPC, 12 TDs, No. 9 in total value;
2012: 16 games, 2,0976 yards, 6.0 YPC, 12 TDs, No. 1 in total value;
2013: 14 games, 1,266 yards, 4.5 YPC, 10 TDs, No. 25 in total value;
2014**: 1 game, 75 yards, 3.6 YPC, 0 TDs;
2015: 16 games, 1,485 yards, 4.5 YPC, 11 TDs, No. 6 in total value;
2016: 3 games, 72 yards, 1.9 YPC, 0 TDs;
* Peterson tore his ACL in a Week 16 game against the Redskins. Seven months later he not only returned to the Vikings’ lineup, he finished the 2012 season as the NFL’s highest-rated running back.
** Peterson played in just one game before he was suspended for the rest of the season due to a child-abuse case.
Peterson was a top back in 2015 and perhaps he would still be in Minnesota if he hadn’t gotten injured last season. But he did, the Vikings moved on and the Saints feel like Peterson can be an integral part of their offense even if he is on the wrong side of 30.
“I’d be lying to you say it doesn’t give you a chip (on your shoulder). Especially being a competitor,” Peterson said last week, via the New Orleans Advocate’s Nick Underhill. “It’s not my main focus. It’s something that drives you a little bit. After 30, because it was the same back then. ‘Oh, he’s 30.’ Then I ended up leading the league in 2015. Same thing the next year. Stuff will continue to repeat itself until I finish.”
Peterson’s right, of course, which brings us to our next question: What does history say about when he will be finished?
Let’s start with the top-10 running backs from their age-32 season (from 2000-2016):
Player Year Team G Att Yds YPA YPG TD
Ricky Williams 2009 Dolphins 16 241 1121 4.65 70.1 11
Emmitt Smith 2001 Cowboys 14 261 1021 3.91 72.9 3
Mike Anderson 2005 Broncos 15 239 1014 4.24 67.6 12
Frank Gore 2015 Colts 16 260 967 3.72 60.4 6
Jerome Bettis 2004 Steelers 15 250 941 3.76 62.7 13
DeAng. Williams2015 Steelers 16 200 907 4.54 56.7 11
Thomas Jones 2010 Chiefs 16 245 896 3.66 56 6
Fred Jackson 2013 Bills 16 206 890 4.32 55.6 9
Corey Dillon 2006 Patriots 16 199 812 4.08 50.8 13
Garrison Hearst 2003 49ers 12 178 768 4.31 64 3
That’s an impressive list that includes three 1,000-yard rushers. Put another way: It’s reasonable to think that Peterson could have a Peterson-like season in 2017. But don’t expect that productivity to last; here are the top-10 backs from their age-33 season:
Player Year Team G Att Yds YPC YPG TD
Frank Gore 2016 Colts 16 263 1025 3.90 64.1 4
Emmitt Smith 2002 Cowboys 16 254 975 3.84 60.9 5
Warrick Dunn 2008 Bucs 15 186 786 4.23 52.4 2
Ricky Williams 2010 Dolphins 16 159 673 4.23 42.1 2
Antowain Smith 2005 Dains 16 166 659 3.97 41.2 3
Terry Allen 2001 Ravens 11 168 658 3.92 59.8 3
Fred Jackson 2014 Bills 14 141 525 3.72 37.5 2
Thomas Jones 2011 Chiefs 16 153 478 3.12 29.9 0
Darren Sproles 2016 Eagles 15 94 438 4.66 29.2 2
Jerome Bettis 2005 Steelers 12 110 368 3.35 30.7 9
DeAng Williams 2016 Steelers 9 98 343 3.5 38.1 4
The numbers are down across the board — from attempts, to total yards, to yards per carry to touchdowns. And that’s to be expected because running back is among the most fungible positions in football; teams can find comparable — or better — production from younger, cheaper players. It’s why you don’t see high-priced running backs in their 30s littering NFL rosters while the Tom Bradys of the world can still be at the top of their game as a soon-to-be 40-year-old.
Because we’re curious — and because Peterson mentioned that he could see himself playing until he was 38 — here are the combined season totals for the top running backs, age 34-38:
Player From To G Att Yds YPC YPG TD Yrs Age
Emmitt Smith 2003 2004 25 357 1193 3.34 47.7 11 2 35
Ricky Williams 2011 2011 16 108 444 4.11 27.8 2 1 34
Dorsey Levens 2004 2004 15 94 410 4.36 27.3 4 1 34
Lorenzo Neal 2004 2008 77 99 348 3.52 4.5 1 5 38
Kimble Anders 2000 2000 15 76 331 4.36 22.1 2 1 34
Mack Strong 2005 2007 37 54 246 4.56 6.6 1 3 36
Zack Crockett 2006 2007 17 40 163 4.08 9.6 0 2 35
T. Richardson 2005 2009 71 35 158 4.51 2.2 0 5 38
Fred Taylor 2010 2010 7 43 155 3.6 22.1 0 1 34
Larry Centers 2002 2003 25 32 138 4.31 5.5 2 2 35
Priest Holmes 2007 2007 4 46 137 2.98 34.3 0 1 34
T. Thomas 2000 2000 9 28 136 4.86 15.1 0 1 34
Notice the right-most column. That’s the age these backs — many of whom were fullbacks and still contributed as blockers — last played in the NFL. A feature back’s existence, in general, burns brightly before flaming out. The good news is that Peterson could have a bounce-back year in ’17 and live up to the praise we’ve heard from his new teammates in recent weeks. But the reality is that, beyond next season, it’s more likely than not that Peterson will be just a shell of himself. There is no shame in that because unless you’re a franchise quarterback, professional football is a young man’s game.
Then again, Peterson is more than your garden-variety feature back.
“If you can reverse Father Time, maybe he knows him,” Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said recently, via NOLA.com. “I don’t know, but either way, I’m going to be getting real familiar with A.P. to understand how can I move as he does at the age that he is.”
Generational PK ROBERTO AGUAYO has a moment outkicking PK NICK FOLK. Jenna Laine of ESPN.com:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers really do have a kicking battle going on. On Tuesday, the first day of mandatory minicamp, it was Roberto Aguayo who got the best of veteran Nick Folk.
Midway through practice, both lined up for five attempts, increasing the distance with each kick. Folk went first and made his first four attempts. His fifth and final kick, from 54 yards out, bounced off the right goal post.
Aguayo went next and made 5-of-5. He drilled the final 54-yard kick.
“It’s been close,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said. “They’ve been going five kicks a day and usually it’s one here or there. That’s the difference though over the course of the year between an 85 percent kicker and a 74 percent kicker.”
Last month, on the first day of OTAs, Folk easily had the edge. The two practiced with narrow uprights, and Aguayo missed three out of four attempts from 35-40 yards out. Folk made all of his. Granted, the narrow goal posts measure 8 1/2 feet, versus the 18 1/2 they’ll see in games, but it seemed like a bad omen for Aguayo.
The second-round draft pick struggled in his rookie season last year, making 71 percent of his field goals, the worst in the NFL. Folk made 87 percent of his field goals last year and his career average is 81.3 percent. He went 3-for-3 on field goals of 40-plus yards, an area Aguayo struggled with, going just 4-for-10 last season.
In his 10-year career, Folk has made 72.1 percent of his attempts from 40-plus yards. He’s also made 59 percent of field-goal attempts from 50-plus yards, just a shade below Connor Barth. That’s why they signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million.
“Roberto got the best of it today and looked good and [kicker] Nick [Folk] looked good,” Koetter said. “Nick’s was a little bit short. Roberto hit five clean ones, so that’s what competition is.”
LOS ANGELES RAMS
DT AARON DONALD shows up for the mandatory mini-camp. Kevin Patra at NFL.com:
Aaron Donald does not yet have a new contract, but the defensive tackle is no longer staying away from the Los Angeles Rams’ facility.
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reported Tuesday that Donald reported for mandatory minicamp, according to a team spokesman.
Donald has stayed away from voluntary offseason workouts before this week.
NFL Network’s Omar Ruiz, who is in attendance at Rams practice, reported Donald is doing individual work off to the side.
Donald is set to earn just $1.8 million in 2017 under his rookie contract. The Rams exercised the fifth-year team option to keep him in L.A. in 2018. Both sides hope a deal is done well before then, and it might very well depend on what happens next to Trumaine Johnson.
“If they’re able to do a new deal for [Johnson], they can cut that salary-cap hit maybe in half, maybe more, free up some space, and allow them to do a deal for Aaron Donald,” NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said on Tuesday during Inside Minicamp Live. “Aaron Donald and the Rams have been trying to work out a new deal. There’s no indication — despite the fact he showed up — that the two sides are anywhere close [in agreement]. It’s a long process.”
– – –
There is more to QB JARED GOFF in 2017. Alden Gonzalez of ESPN:
– Jared Goff likes to say that he has gained 10 pounds for every year of his life. He’s 22 now, heading into his second season in the NFL, and he is carrying about 220 pounds on him these days, 10 more than he did as a rookie.
The trend continues.
“I hope it slows down at about 23, 24,” Goff said with a smile. “I think I’ve been doing a good job just trying to continue to get strong and just continue to work as hard as I can.”
The Los Angeles Rams’ official website lists Goff at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds after listing him at 215 last year. He came into the NFL relatively slight, then absorbed 25 sacks over his final six games — far more than anybody else during that stretch — and bulked up. Goff said that the added weight was merely a function of him continuing to grow into his body, not a reaction to anything that occurred last season. But it should only help.
Goff remembers the extra weight he added going into his sophomore season at Cal and how much better it made him.
“I felt it in the pocket,” Goff, speaking after the Rams’ minicamp practice on Tuesday, said. “The ability to make one guy miss is a big deal, and the ability to not get tackled by just a hand, just a guy grabbing your jersey, is a big deal. I think that’s where it helped the most.”
The Rams’ offensive line should be better, but Andrew Whitworth alone can’t significantly improve a unit that allowed the NFL’s second-most sacks last season. And since the end of the 2016 season, Goff’s divisional opponents have only added more menacing pass-rushers, most notably rookies Solomon Thomas (49ers) and Haason Reddick (Cardinals).
“It’s always important to be able to sustain some of the hits,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “You still want to make sure that you’re fluid and flexible. I think that weight, when you’re thinking about some of the throws that you have to make in the face of a pass rush, and where you have to absorb those hits — I think it just allows you to be a little bit sturdier. I think you want to put it on the right way.”
The Rams believe Goff has. He called this his “first real offseason,” because colleges don’t really allow for one and because he spent a good chunk of last year’s preparing for the scouting combine.
“I did my best in the months we had off to continue to train hard,” Goff said, “and my body continues to grow.”
Coach Pete Carroll says the Seahawks really do want to extend 29-year-old S KAM CHANCELLOR.
Pete Carroll said the Seattle Seahawks have “every intention” of getting a long-term extension done with safety Kam Chancellor this offseason.
“We would very much like to work something out,” the coach said Tuesday. “We’re working at it. And that’s really all we’ll say. But we are working at it with every intention of taking care of business. It takes awhile. Things take awhile. His frame of mind and our frame of mind are in a really good place. And we’re going to work hard to get something done. We’ll see if we can.”
Chancellor, 29, is entering the final year of his deal. He said he has not yet heard from the team about a new contract.
Coach Vance Joseph won’t make any QB decisions based on OTAs or mini-camp. Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com
In a football-mad city that has seen the likes of John Elway and Peyton Manning play quarterback at a level few others could relate to, the position is always on the front-burner among the team’s faithful.
And as the Denver Broncos wind down their offseason program with this week’s mandatory minicamp, this year’s quarterback competition between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch has already filled countless hours of discussion within and around the team.
That might be all well and good, coach Vance Joseph said after Tuesday’s practice, but the team’s decision-makers haven’t really started keeping score yet.
Joseph re-affirmed Tuesday that the competition won’t be decided until later this summer, even if the quarterbacks say they’ve gotten an early start anyway.
“It’s hard to get a true evaluation with these guys right now, because there’s much learning going on around those guys,” Joseph said. “There’s been positive plays by both guys, there’s been big throws by both guys, there’s been terrible throws by both guys. Our mindset has not changed — get to [training camp] and have a true evaluation.”
Asked after Tuesday’s practice how Siemian’s and Lynch’s work during the offseason program will impact the final decision, Joseph even ratcheted that thought up a notch.
“This part? Probably zero to none. … It’s going to be won on the football field,” Joseph said. “It’s going to be won in the games in the preseason, and that’s the way the evaluation starts; that has not changed for myself or for the staff.”
QB ANDREW LUCK is not ready to throw at this time and might not be for some time. Mike Wells of ESPN.com:
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been out since January following right shoulder surgery, isn’t sure he’ll be ready for the start of training camp in late July, he said Tuesday.
“To be honest, I have not thought about it,” Luck said. “If I’m ready for it, then great. If I’m not, then that’s the way it is. I’m certainly hopeful for it. In my mind all I can do — and I truly feel this way — with this rehab, with my shoulder, I can’t look five months down the road, three months down the road, a week down the road. To me it’s about the next rehab session, the next day. That’s where my focus is and that’s where I think it needs to be to truly get back to 100 percent.”
The Colts have shied away from giving a timetable on Luck’s return. The only thing they’ve said is that the plan was never for Luck to take part in the team’s offseason workouts and that he’s not throwing a football yet. Owner Jim Irsay said last week his franchise quarterback is “healing tremendously.”
Coach Chuck Pagano was also asked Tuesday about Luck’s availability when training camp starts.
“Am I hopeful? Am I praying? Yeah, but there’s no timetable,” the coach said.
Luck has served as an extra coach on the sideline during the team’s workouts. He said the current five-month stretch where he hasn’t thrown a football is the longest he’s gone since he first starting throwing a ball when he was around 6 or 7 years old.
QB JIMMY GARAPPOLO seems to be ailing. Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal:
The biggest story of the day was Jimmy Garoppolo, or the lack thereof.
The fourth-year quarterback started practice on the stationary bike while his teammates went through their warm-up routine. That was the first sign that something was a little off. As Tom Brady and Jacoby Brissett started to warmup their arms, Garoppolo watched before departing practice.
The quarterback spent nearly all of the OTA session on the lower field, which has been reserved for rehabbing players. It appears that Garoppolo is suffering from a leg injury, which would explain why he only through four total passes in full-team drills last week in the final day of minicamp. On a day where Brady threw 24 passes and Brissett threw 16, it was unknown why Garoppolo got such little work.
THIS AND THAT
KAEP AND THE OTHER UNSIGNED QBs
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com looks at COLIN KAEPERNICK and the other unsigned QBs:
Apparently Austin Davis signing with the Seattle Seahawks was not the breaking point for Colin Kaepernick’s puzzling unemployment.
This week, the New Orleans Saints saw the Seahawks’ nondescript quarterback signing and raised them Ryan Nassib, the 21st passer to sign a veteran deal this offseason.
This is the summer reality for Kaepernick and other QBs resigned to fates as backups or third-stringers: Barring injury or epiphany, teams aren’t eager to spend more than the vet minimum. Davis just signed a $775,000 deal, and Nassib might beat that total, if barely.
Many unsigned quarterbacks would welcome such a deal, which begs the question: Will this get even worse for Kaepernick?
If the internet didn’t explode when Davis or Nassib signed, it might when Dan Orlovsky or Zach Mettenberger do.
About a dozen quarterbacks remain on the market — many of whom have started one or more NFL games — yet jobs are scarce. Most teams have at least a reasonable backup option. Seven quarterbacks went in the first four rounds in April’s draft.
Some teams are rolling with four quarterbacks (hello, Bills!). Some teams have nothing but backups (hello, Jets!). Plans have been formed.
At least Kaepnernick has two things going for him: He’s clearly the best player in the remaining crop, and a lot can happen from now until the end of training camp, when teams decide whether they need reinforcements. The Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers and Detroit Lions are among teams that could use a new arm for depth.
Here’s a multi-tiered breakdown of the existing quarterback market, and how it affects you know who.
Quarterbacks who have signed this offseason: Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer, Josh McCown, Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Blaine Gabbert, Chase Daniel, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum, Austin Davis, Ryan Nassib, Matt McGloin, E.J. Manuel, Aaron Murray, David Fales, Kellen Moore, Mark Sanchez, Josh Johnson.
However you feel about Kaepernick, there’s little debate he’s better than at least a few on this list.
Fair or not, several NFL coaches asked about Kaepernick say they either don’t like his game outright, don’t like his fit in their system or feel he’s not quite good enough to offset the proverbial ‘distraction’ buzz word thrown around in NFL circles.
There might be more to it than that, of course. And Kaepernick’s negotiations with teams haven’t been made public. But many names on that list generated news value for reasons other than their on-field merit.
Top options available: Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Shaun Hill, Dan Orlovsky
How will things shake out?: Texts with several high-level personnel evaluators paint a clear picture.
Kaepernick is the best option in this crop.
Three of four executives said, if seeking a backup, they would choose Kaepernick from the remaining talent pool. One voted for Griffin III.
“Kap, Hill, Orlovsky, RG3,” prioritized one AFC exec.
Another from the NFC said he wouldn’t sign Griffin III “under any circumstances.”
“Of the remaining (three), Kaepernick is the most physically gifted and would likely be the choice, but not until I worked him out and had him in for a physical,” the NFC exec said.
It’s still unclear whether Kaepernick has actually worked out for a team. His session with Seattle late last month was classified as a meeting.
Two backups to watch are Dallas’ Kellen Moore and Detroit’s Jake Rudock. They are not proven commodities, and if they struggle in camp, perhaps the Cowboys or Lions will consider their options.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said Griffin III was on the team’s radar, but otherwise his market has been chilly at best. Last year’s shoulder injury cost Griffin III 11 games and, it seems, any momentum that existed.
The Vikings considered bringing Hill back before signing Case Keenum, but time is working against him. He turned 37 in January. Orlovsky is no longer running out of end zones, but with 47 passing attempts in five seasons, he might be running out of chances.
Camp journeymen: Thad Lewis, Zach Mettenberger, Christian Ponder
First-round picks tend to get more follow-up calls than most, which is why Ponder could find a training camp home on a tryout basis.
Lewis has played for six teams in six years and was the 49ers’ No. 3 for part of last year. He’s still capable of filling a preseason role that could turn into something more.
Mettenberger never quite fulfilled the promise he showed as a rookie in Tennessee, but here’s to guessing he’ll get one more chance somewhere. He’s 25 and has a big arm, which is worth a camp appearance despite fading out quietly in Pittsburgh.
Semi-retired emergency QBs: Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Whitehurst
Whitehurst’s beautiful locks have flown onto NFL fields in three of the last four seasons. What’s one more?
Gradkowski has spent the last two years on Injured Reserve with various ailments, and Pittsburgh deciding to move on could signify the end for the former Mid-American Conference star who carved out a nice NFL career.
Outside looking in: Keith Wenning, Sean Renfree.
Doesn’t appear to be much traction here.
QB you haven’t seen the last of…: Johnny Manziel
At least on Instagram. And maybe the NFL. Manziel’s reps have been quiet about his football future, but sustained sobriety and a re-dedication to the sport might prove it’s not too late for at least a tryout.
QB out of the bullpen and back on the NFL market: Tim Tebow
Nah, just playin’.
ESPN is ecstatic that the highest-rated NBA game in many years drew an audience equal to an average NFL Sunday Night game. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:
The NBA is enjoying a post-Michael Jordan resurgence when it comes to the championship round, with the most-watched NBA Finals since Jordan played in his last postseason with the Bulls in 1998. But even with Round Three of the Warriors vs. LeBron pushing the average audience to a 20-year high-water mark, the numbers serve as a reminder that football is still king, James.
Even with the biggest audience in a generation, the NBA Finals averaged 20.4 million viewers for each of the five games between Golden State and Cleveland, with no real competition elsewhere on TV. In contrast, NBC’s Sunday Night Football averaged 20.3 million viewers in 2016, despite constantly facing first-run programming like The Walking Dead.
So, yes, basketball is doing better than it has at any time since Jordan became only a shoe salesman. But the NBA still has a very long way to go to become what the NFL continues to be.