The Daily Briefing Thursday, October 25, 2018

AROUND THE NFL 

The DB expresses our sorrow at the passing of Anna Pompei, daughter of Dan Pompei, a longtime writer for the Chicago Tribune, now with The Athletic.

 

 

NFC NORTH

 

DETROIT

Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com reminds us how the pick the 49ers sent to New England for QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO ended up.

 

A year ago at the trade deadline, the Patriots sent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round draft pick. At the time, it looked like a monumental trade for both franchises.

 

Which makes it surprising, a year later, that the team that benefited most from that trade may be the Lions.

 

New England traded the 49ers’ second-round pick to Detroit on draft day, and the Lions used that pick on running back Kerryon Johnson. On Sunday, Johnson ran for 158 yards, the Lions’ best rushing game in seven years, and he’s on pace to lead all rookie running backs this season with 1,184 yards.

 

Last year it looked like the 49ers had easily won the Garoppolo trade, as he joined the team mid-season and promptly led them to six consecutive victories. But this season, after signing a massive contract, Garoppolo did not play well before suffering a season-ending injury in Week Three. If Garoppolo doesn’t return to his 2017 form, the acquisition (and subsequent contract extension) of Garoppolo could turn out to be a mistake for the 49ers.

 

The Patriots’ grade on the Garoppolo trade is an incomplete. They moved down in the second round in the trade with the Lions, then made more trades that netted them some late-round players as well as the Bears’ 2019 second-round pick and the Lions’ 2019 third-round pick. Until the Patriots use those picks, we really don’t know how well they made out in the Garoppolo trade.

 

But what we do know is that the Lions got a player who is helping them win games right now. So far, they’re the team that has benefitted the most from the ripple effects of the Jimmy G trade.

 

 

MINNESOTA

DE EVERSON GRIFFIN is back after a bout with mental health issues.  Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

 

“Hello everybody,” Griffen said with a smile as he greeted reporters after practice. “First off, I want to take full responsibility for my actions that went on in September. I had a lot of support from my family, the Minnesota Vikings, the doctors, my teammates, the fans. I want to give my apologies to the people I impacted.

 

“I’m just excited to get back here with my team. It’s been hard to be away. I’m taking it one day at a time to get things back on track.”

 

Indications are Griffen will be active Sunday night when the Vikings and Saints meet in the rematch of the “Minneapolis Miracle” playoff game won by the Vikings nine months ago. Griffen, 30, got one of his 65 career sacks in that 29-24 victory.

 

How many snaps Griffen gets Sunday night — or if he gets any at all — is a decision coach Mike Zimmer said he’ll make at the end of the week. Wednesday, Griffen lined up at his usual No. 1 spot at right end in position drills during the 10 minutes of practice open to the media.

 

“I feel good,” Griffen said. “I was able to work out [while away from the team]. But this game requires more than just working out. I’m able to play football, but I still have to get back in the pass-rush flow and my run flow and stuff like that.”

 

Griffen looked understandably winded, considering he hasn’t played since Sept. 16 against Green Bay. Six days later, he was taken to a mental health facility by ambulance after being picked up in his Minnetrista neighborhood. According to police reports, he had been kept away from Vikings practices earlier that week with a team request to seek mental health treatment.

 

“[Seeking treatment] was the right thing for me,” Griffen said. “Completely. One hundred percent. … I learned a lot about the man outside of football. I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and where I want to go, and the decisions I made. I just want to get better with some of the decisions I’ve made.”

 

Griffen was not arrested nor accused of a crime last month. According to a Minneapolis police incident report Sept. 22, he did draw a police response to the Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis after threatening to assault staff employees and lying on the lobby floor.

 

Zimmer’s news conference opened with 10 consecutive questions about Griffen. The 10th one wanted to know what kind of guidance he’s received to help him offer better support for a player dealing with mental health issues.

 

“I don’t want to get into too much, but I bet you there are people in this room who have had to deal with these kinds of issues as well,” Zimmer said. “Everybody in life has probably had to deal with these different types of issues that aren’t necessarily [physical injuries].

 

“I know people, doctors, all the experts help with these situations. I don’t think this is as unique as we’re making it out to be. This is an illness, and he’s done a good job of helping to get better, and continues to try to get better. He’s probably going to have to continue to do that just like we all have to do in life.”

 

Teammates were just happy to see No. 97 back in the building. Griffen said it was good to see their smiles and joked that they all said they want him back to being the “wild man” that he is on the field.

 

“It’s great to have him back as a friend and a teammate,” safety Harrison Smith said. “Everything we’re doing is for the best interest of him.”

– – –

Griffen, who was not on the injury report Wednesday, said he’s not yet ready to talk publicly about the details of his illness and what happened. He said he has a plan in place for when that will be, adding that he intends to use his platform as an NFL player to help others.

 

“I just want to be able to do it at the right time, the right place and the right opportunity,” he said. “Right now is not the place, not the time. I just got to focus on the right things, and the right things are my family, finding that balance and getting back to work.”

 

While Griffen said “this is bigger than football,” he took joy in returning to the team facility. And taking that seat that Patterson kept vacant right next to him in the defensive line meeting room.

 

“It was awesome,” he said. “And just getting back into life in general. Driving my car. Doing all the little things. You got to appreciate the little things in life. I’m not taking any day [for granted]. Every day is a blessing.”

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

WR AMARI COOPER sounds thrilled to be away from Jon Gruden’s Raiders.  Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

Amari Cooper wasn’t stunned when he was notified during practice early this week he was being traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Dallas Cowboys.

 

The man shipped in to be the face of Jerry Jones’ receiver corps said he’s thrilled to get a fresh start after three-plus years in Oakland.

 

“It feels great,” Cooper said Wednesday after going through his first Cowboys practice. “It feels like a fresh start, just like a freshman year in college or something like that. … I mean the first thing you think about when you hear the Cowboys is that star, ‘America’s Team,’ and all of that. It’s a great franchise.”

 

The 24-year-old receiver is coming off almost a year-and-a-half of disappointing, up-and-down play. After generating back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons to open his career, Cooper generated just 48.0 receiving yards per game on 3.5 catches per tilt since the start of 2017.

 

Cooper says he’s known Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott since college when the two would battle in the SEC.

 

“I really like the way he throws the ball. It’s a good ball,” Cooper said after practice.

 

Cooper is coming off a concussion suffered in Week 5, his last game in Oakland. The former first-round receiver will practice again with his new team Thursday before the squad breaks for the bye week.

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

High praise for RB SAQUON BARKLEY from one of the all-time greats, his foe this week RB ADRIAN PETERSON,

 

Adrian Peterson knows a thing or two about the running back position.

 

The Washington Redskins rusher has enjoyed an accomplished career and has shared the field with some of the league’s top backs over the years, including Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson, Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch, among others.

 

Peterson can appreciate what others playing his position can do with the football in their hands, so it’s no surprise the 12th-year pro is a fan of New York Giants rookie running Saquon Barkley.

 

“You can just see with the talent,” Peterson said, via John Keim of ESPN. “It’s obvious, him being a rookie and what he’s accomplished so far. That doesn’t happen every year or even two or three or four years [where] that type of talent comes around.”

 

Barkley, the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, has done his best to justify the Giants’ selection of him as an explosive dual-threat weapon.

 

For his size, the 6-foot, 233-pound Barkley possesses exceptional game-breaking speed and has produced his share of video game-like moves in the open field through seven games.

 

Barkley has amassed 481 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 98 carries, averaging 4.9 yards per attempt. He has shown to be highly capable receiver out of the backfield with 424 yards and two touchdowns on 49 catches.

 

The Giants’ rookie running back also own four plays of 50 yards or more from the line of scrimmage, two coming as a rusher and two as a receiver.

 

Given Barkley’s production, it’s no wonder Peterson, who has 438 yards rushing on the season, has enjoyed watching the rookie excel.

 

“From what I’ve seen so far he shows some God-given ability,” Peterson said. “Great patience, his lower-body strength and balance is amazing. He flows.”

 

NFL fans are in for a treat Sunday when the Giants (1-6) host the Redskins (4-2) at Metlife Stadium with a matchup featuring one of the league’s all-time great rushers in Peterson and an emerging star in Barkley.

– – –

Browns bust WR COREY COLEMAN gets new life as the Giants have signed him to the active roster.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA

The Eagles do not have a healthy QB CARSON WENTZ at the moment.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

For the second straight Wednesday, a back injury has kept Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz from taking a full complement or reps during practice.

 

Wentz was listed as a limited participant, due to the back injury. Last week, Wentz participated on a limited basis on Wednesday, fully participated on Thursday and Friday, and then played in Sunday’s loss to the Panthers.

 

Also limited for the Eagles on Sunday, in advance of a London game against the Jaguars, were linebacker D.J. Alexander (quadricep), tackle Lane Johnson (ankle), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf), and tackle Jason Peters (biceps).

 

Missing practice were defensive end Derek Barnett (shoulder), linebacker Nathan Gerry (ankle, knee), safety Corey Graham (hamstring), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring), and running back Darren Sproles (hamstring). Cornerback Rasul Douglas and running back Wendell Smallwood received a day off.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

CAROLINA

David Newton of ESPN.com is impressed by the record QB CAM NEWTON has forged in crunch time.

 

Cam Newton hadn’t played particularly well and neither had his team, which trailed by 17 points early in the second half. But the quarterback made it clear to everyone at halftime and throughout the final two quarters that they were going to come back and win.

 

And they did.

 

This wasn’t Sunday when Newton rallied the Carolina Panthers from a 17-0 third-quarter deficit to a 21-17 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles with three fourth-quarter touchdown drives.

 

This was the 2010 “Iron Bowl” between Auburn and Alabama, when Newton led the Tigers from a 24-7 halftime deficit — it was 24-0 midway through the second quarter — to a 28-27 victory. Before that day no team had overcome a 24-point deficit against the Crimson Tide.

 

Ever.

 

Newton did what seemed to be the impossible that day — and that season. He led Auburn from behind in eight of 12 games en route to a 12-0 record, the national title and the Heisman Trophy.

 

So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to learn after Sunday’s improbable finish at Lincoln Financial Field that Newton now has two more — 15 to 13 — fourth-quarter comebacks for wins during his NFL career than Aaron Rodgers.

 

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, Newton’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2010, certainly isn’t surprised.

 

“He has a great drive to win and gives everyone around him that confidence that it takes to come back and win,” Malzahn told ESPN.com.

 

Dallas Allen, Newton’s coach at Westlake High in Atlanta, had a saying that “if we have Cam on the field, we have a chance.”

 

Carolina coach Ron Rivera took it one step further, comparing Newton’s desire to be counted on in clutch situations to that of former NBA superstar Michael Jordan.

 

“He’ll come up and say, ‘Coach, put it in my hands, Coach! Trust me!'” Rivera said of the 2015 NFL MVP. “It goes back to a little something I learned from Michael Jordan when we were in Chicago. Michael used to say, ‘Certain guys want the ball when it’s crunch time. Other guys just don’t seem to come off the picks the way they’re supposed to.’

 

“I’ve told that to Cam, and Cam has always wanted the ball.”

 

That gives the Panthers (4-2), who face the Baltimore Ravens (4-3) and the league’s No. 1 defense on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), a chance every week. Newton already has directed two fourth-quarter comebacks this season, leading Carolina to Graham Gano’s 63-yard field goal with two-seconds left in a 33-31 victory against the New York Giants.

 

He almost pulled off another at Washington, but his final three passes were incomplete inside the Redskins’ 20 in a 23-17 loss.

 

Newton doesn’t have the reputation for being Mr. Clutch as Rodgers and others do. But he is tied with Seattle’s Russell Wilson for 11th among active quarterbacks in fourth-quarter comebacks despite playing fewer seasons — he’s in his eighth — than everyone above him but Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

CB PATRICK PETERSON no longer wants a trade.  Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com:

 

– Arizona Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson said Wednesday that his request to be traded “came at a bad time.”

 

“I was just frustrated,” Peterson said.

 

Peterson, who spoke after Wednesday’s practice for the first time since ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday that Peterson “desperately” wants out of Arizona and asked to be traded by the Oct. 30 trade deadline, said those frustrations were with the Cardinals’ 1-6 start.

 

“You see the record,” Peterson said.

 

He reiterated the same words when asked if he was frustrated with coaching or personnel.

 

Earlier Wednesday, Peterson tweeted a statement that hinted at his long-term commitment to the Cardinals.

 

Peterson met with Cardinals president Michael Bidwill for 30 minutes on Tuesday, and they discussed ways for the Cardinals to improve and for Peterson to be a leader, sources told Schefter. Peterson said he talks to Bidwill “every day,” but the two are now in a “good place.”

 

“We’ve moved forward from what happened the other day,” Peterson said. “I think we definitely have a clear understanding, and I have two years left under my contract so I’m here.”

 

Peterson also received assurances from Bidwill about the team’s commitment to winning, sources said.

 

“Obviously, he can’t read the future,” Peterson said. “He’s not a psychic or anything like that, but Mr. Bidwill has been doing a great job of making sure that his team has everything to be successful as far a facility, as far as the nutrition, the equipment room, the weight room, the stadium.

 

“It goes down the line. He’s doing everything in his power to make sure we can put the best product on the field.”

 

However, Peterson wouldn’t get into the specifics of his conversation with Bidwill.

 

“For the most part, I’m here,” Peterson said. “I came to practice today. Had a great practice today. Had a couple one-handed interceptions, and looking forward to getting those Sunday, as well.”

 

Coach Steve Wilks said he spoke with Peterson on Monday after the reports surfaced but declined to share the details of their conversation. Wilks said it was “very encouraging” that Peterson said he intends to be in Arizona for years to come but agreed with Peterson’s frustration.

 

“We’re frustrated right now based on the situation that we’re in, 1-6,” Wilks said.

 

After news of Peterson’s request came out Monday, Wilks said the team won’t deal Peterson.

 

“We’re not trading Patrick,” Wilks said. “That’s out of the question.”

 

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Lindsay Thiry of ESPN.com wonders why QB JARED GOFF’s name isn’t on most short lists for MVP:

 

— When asked if he’d given much thought to this season’s MVP race, Jared Goff chuckled.

 

“No,” said the low-key quarterback who has led the Los Angeles Rams to a 7-0 start. “I haven’t.”

 

So, as Goff prepares to face two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (3-2) on Sunday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, we thought about it for him.

 

After all, the Rams are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL, and Goff, in his third season, is leading the league’s top-ranked offense and has ascended the quarterback rankings.

 

“He’s clearly taken a huge step,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s coming off a big year last year and it looks like he’s picked up right where he left off. They’re putting up huge numbers offensively and he’s playing very well.”

 

Though Goff’s stiffest competition in the MVP race could come from teammate Todd Gurley, who leads the league in rushing yards and has a league-high 14 touchdowns, the MVP has gone to a quarterback in each of the past five seasons.

 

Jared Goff for MVP?

How Jared Goff stacks up with the past five MVPs — all quarterbacks — through seven games:

 

YEAR        PLAYER                     REC.       CMP.-ATT. COMP.%   P YDS.      YDS./ATT. PASS TD   INT           TD/INT     TOTQBR

2018       Jared Goff             7-0          152-218 69.7        2130       9.77        14           5              2.8          80.3

2017       Tom Brady            5-2          174-262 66.4        2208       8.43        15           2              7.5          72

2016       Matt Ryan              4-3          165-244 67.6        2348       9.62        16           4              4              78

2015       Cam Newton        7-0          117-216 54.2        1523       7.05        11           8              1.38        46.3

2014       Aaron Rodgers    5-2          141-211 66.8        1674       7.93        18           1              18           77.5

2013       Peyton Manning  6-1          207-289 71.6        2565       8.88        25           3              8.33        85

 

It’s also gone to a quarterback in 10 of the past 11 seasons. And Goff, 24, the top overall pick in 2016, could be next.

 

“He’s extremely accurate, he’s extremely poised,” San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said before Goff dropped 39 points in a lopsided victory over their NFC West rival. “He’s very balanced in the pocket — nothing seems to really get him rattled.”

 

Goff’s Total QBR is 79.1 and ranks fourth in the league behind Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. He ranks fourth in passing yards, with 2,130 behind Matt Ryan, Mahomes and Kirk Cousins.

 

“He’s throwing the ball extremely accurate, giving guys a chance to run after the catch,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “Clearly he’s a very talented thrower of the football that can change his arm angle, but I just think the way that he’s throwing the football consistently with accuracy, giving guys the chance and then obviously the deep ball has been real positive, too, and he’s been able to hit on a handful of those when he’s taken shots down the field.”

 

Goff is completing 55 percent of his throws of 20-plus yards downfield, up from 37.7 percent in 2017, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

 

Leading his receivers into the open field, as well as allowing them to pick up yards after the catch, has been an emphasis for Goff this season.

 

“Reps, reps, reps,” Goff said, when asked how he was able to make the improvement. “Really testing yourself and seeing how far out in front you can put it and how perfect you can be over and over again.”

 

Goff has connected on 69.7 percent of this throws, good enough to rank sixth in the league, and he’s second in yards per attempt with 9.77.

 

He could stand to gain some ground on his touchdown-to-interception ratio, where he ranks 10th, with 14 TDs and five picks.

 

But, according to ESPN Stats & Info, his numbers through seven games are on pace with those of the past five quarterbacks to win MVP: Tom Brady, Ryan, Cam Newton, Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

 

Goff’s Total QBR is more than eight points higher than Brady’s was through seven games in his 2017 MVP season. Goff has three more wins than Ryan did at this point in 2016. His completion percentage (69.7) is 15 percent better than Newton’s was in 2015 (54.2). He’s passed for 456 yards more than Rodgers did through seven games in 2014, and as far as comparing Goff to Manning’s MVP performance in 2014, well, that’s one quarterback whom Goff still just doesn’t quite stack up to.

 

However, once winless in seven starts as a rookie, and now undefeated through seven in Year 3, Goff is well on his way.

 

“He’s playing at a high level,” said Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph before Goff led the Rams to a 23-20 victory at Mile High. “He’s so accurate; he’s so tall and long. He can see over the rush. He’s not being hit. … He’s playing like an MVP veteran quarterback.”

 

This Sunday, when he goes head-to-head against Rodgers, also a first-round pick who starred at the University of California, we’ll see if Goff, too, can be an MVP.

 

 

SEATTLE

Reinforcements for the Seahawks.  Brady Henderson of ESPN.com:

 

Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright and tight end Ed Dickson are expected to make their season debuts Sunday against the Lions in Detroit.

 

Coach Pete Carroll was noncommittal on Wright’s availability earlier in the week, but on Wednesday he said he’s anticipating that both Wright and Dickson will play Sunday as long as they don’t suffer any setbacks in the meantime.

 

The Seahawks could have a pair of defensive ends back this week as well. Rasheem Green is practicing after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. Carroll said Dion Jordan, who has dealt with knee and hip injuries and was inactive for two of the past three games, is “the best he’s been in a while.”

 

That’s why Carroll answered in the affirmative when asked if the Seahawks, who are coming off their bye, are as healthy as they’ve been all season.

 

“We’re in pretty good shape,” Carroll said.

 

Wright has been sidelined because of what Carroll called a setback in his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery in late August, which was initially expected to keep him out only a few weeks.

 

The Seahawks have cycled through replacements at Wright’s weakside spot, first starting rookie Shaquem Griffin in the opener. They then signed Mychal Kendricks, who played there for the next three games until he was suspended indefinitely in connection with his pleading guilty to insider trading charges. Austin Calitro has also seen time there, and more recently, Seattle has moved Barkevious Mingo over from the strong side.

 

Wright is now back in the spot he manned for most of his first seven seasons in Seattle.

 

AFC WEST

 

THE RAIDERS

Right after saying he didn’t “see” the Raiders trading WR AMARI COOPER (until it happened), Jon Gruden says the same thing about the prospects of jettisoning QB DEREK CARR, the last remaining lynchpin of the Jack Del Rio Era.  Herbie Teope of NFL.com:

 

Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden addressed reporters Wednesday for the first time since the team traded wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick.

 

With the trades of Khalil Mack and Cooper in the past two months, the Raiders (1-5) are clearly going in a new direction.

 

Gruden explained he has the team’s best interest in mind for the present and future, but added he doesn’t anticipate the Raiders making further moves ahead of the NFL’s Oct. 30 trade deadline.

 

“I don’t see us making any more trades,” Gruden told reporters. “I didn’t see us making a trade the other day. I really didn’t. But sometimes, like I said, your plans change whether you like it or not. You don’t know who’s going to call you and what they’re going to say, you really don’t. … I don’t see us making any more trades. But I’ll never say never again to anybody.”

 

Does that stance apply to quarterback Derek Carr?

 

“I don’t see us making any more trades,” Gruden repeated. “Certainly, I don’t see us trading our quarterback.”

 

While the head coach appeared to give a vote of confidence to Carr, it was far from a definitive answer to shut down any trade speculation surrounding the fourth-year quarterback.

 

AFC NORTH

 

CINCINNATI

Coach Marvin Lewis doesn’t sound too happy with LB VONTAZE BURFICT.  Paul Dehner, Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

 

The questions came about Vontaze Burfict. Marvin Lewis was uninterested in the discussion.

 

In an NFL environment where everyone is talking about the Cincinnati Bengals’ controversial linebacker, the head coach didn’t want to be the latest.

 

Lewis was asked at his Wednesday press conference how Burfict has played coming back from suspension and offered a one-sentence summation: “He’s not playing as well as he has in the past.”

 

When the follow-ups came, they all were rebuffed.

 

“I don’t want to talk about Vontaze,” he said. “It’s not relevant.”

 

This backs up the stance Lewis took on Burfict when asked about his hit to Antonio Brown in the aftermath of the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The linebacker lived in the national conversation as many called for the league to be harsher on Burfict than they were laying down a fine of $112K, by far the largest for a non-suspension in his career.

 

Analysts even suggested the Bengals be fined, while the front office took issue with the entire conversation, believing none of the punishments levied were good for the game or the correct move by the NFL.

 

“Everybody makes comments on everything No. 55 does,” Lewis said then. “They don’t comment on anything anybody else does. Let’s just leave it at that.”

 

Meanwhile, what little Lewis said about Burfict wasn’t a lie. Burfict hasn’t played well, missing four tackles on Sunday, a career-high, according to Pro Football Focus. His presence has made little difference for a linebacking corps being exploited on a weekly basis.

 

In fact, on the year, the Bengals’ linebackers have been targeted on 48 receptions that went for a first down, via PFF. Not only is that the most in the league, but 10 more than any other group.

 

And now, Burfict finds himself banged up again. He went out for the final quarter-plus of the game against Kansas City with a hip injury and didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice.

 

Lewis was asked if Burfict would be able to play on Sunday, but I think you know how that went.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

JACKSONVILLE

The argument for signing Colin Kaepernick seems to be, “sure he’s not very good, but he’s got to be better than xxx.”

 

Today “xxx” is BLAKE BORTLES.  Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

The beef between Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid that spilled over into Sunday’s pregame routine was based on Reid feeling that Jenkins sold out the player protest movement started by Colin Kaepernick.

 

Part of the contention from Reid’s end comes from a perceived lack of support for Kaepernick, who remains unemployed.

 

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Jenkins defended his stance on the Players Coalition before taking a jab at an unsuspecting victim.

 

“While our main focus is always on the communities and those systemic oppressions and how we can leverage relationships, our access and resources to help people in everyday communities there’s still a responsibility to speak out on behalf of Colin Kaepernick, who started this movement and who still doesn’t have a job,” Jenkins said. “And I wholeheartedly believe he’s being blackballed. To speak out in support of behalf of Eric Reid who put his job on the line to fight for those who didn’t have a voice.

 

“And that’s what we’ve tried to do throughout this whole thing. We’ve always maintained, I know I’ve always maintained, and every chance I get to say Colin Kaepernick has started this. Eric Reid deserves a job. Colin Kaepernick deserves a job. I can turn on the tape this week in our opponent and see that Colin Kaepernick deserves a job.”

 

The Eagles face the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. The Jags QB is Blake Bortles, who was benched for Cody Kessler during last Sunday’s loss. While Bortles remains the starter, the confidence in Jacksonville remains tenuous.

 

It’s not a new idea that Kaepernick > Bortles, especially in the realm of social media. It’s new to hear an opponent take such a direct shot the week of a matchup.

 

While it might not placate Reid’s concerns, Jenkins used the Bortles example to illustrate how he’s helped support the players’ cause.

 

“But at the end of the day when I started this back in 2018, my personal journey to help my own communities it was never about the NFL or anybody having a job in the NFL,” Jenkins said. “It was about people. Every day citizens where I come from who all live here in Philly and all across this county. At the end of the day my decisions will all be about people.”

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

Former NFL back Maurice Jones-Drew speculates on where RB LeSEAN McCOY might end up:

 

LeSean McCoy’s best days in Buffalo are over. Let’s face it. It’s time for the Bills to set him free and give him a chance to make a splash somewhere else.

 

The two-time All-Pro, who is currently in the concussion protocol after exiting last week’s game with a head injury, is one of the few backs who is tradeable at 30 years old. He’s still elusive, explosive and a definite threat between the tackles and in the pass game.

 

The Bills’ best offensive weapon since his arrival in 2015, McCoy was a big reason the team ended its playoff drought in 2017, when he put up over 1,500 scrimmage yards. A year later, Shady is on pace for just 919 yards from scrimmage, but it’s not his fault. The Bills’ offense looks sooo much different than it did a year ago, after the offseason departures of quarterback Tyrod Taylor and THREE offensive linemen — including left tackle Cordy Glenn (now with Cincinnati) and Pro Bowlers Richie Incognito and Eric Wood (both retired). Buffalo is in rebuild mode, and it doesn’t help that rookie quarterback Josh Allen is out for several weeks with an elbow injury.

 

Let’s be honest, the league’s second-worst offense isn’t going anywhere this season. Trading the six-time Pro Bowler would benefit both parties, with the Bills acquiring draft picks that could spur a rebuild this offseason and McCoy making an immediate impact for a team with legitimate playoff and/or championship aspirations. When he’s healthy, McCoy is one of the best running backs out there.

 

That said, which teams need Shady’s services most? Here are four options (in alphabetical order):

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-3): Ranking 24th in rushing, the Baltimore Ravens, who average just 3.4 rushing yards per carry, could use a game-changer in the backfield. Averaging 4.6 yards per carry in his career, McCoy is far superior, talent-wise, to what we’ve seen from Baltimore’s pair of middle-of-the-road running backs (Alex Collins and Buck Allen). The shifty Buffalo Bill would give the offense another dimension, similar to what Ray Rice did for the Ravens in their Super Bowl XLVII run. Not to mention, the league’s top-ranked defense is going to give the offense plenty of opportunities to score. And Shady’s ability to provide a consistent ground presence could help the Ravens’ offense control the clock in big games.

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-4): After Jay Ajayi (knee) was lost for the season earlier this month, Corey Clement asked GM Howie Roseman not to bring another running back in to an already crowded backfield (which includes Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles). Roseman said the backfield needed to provide a good reason for him not to look for outside help. Roseman got his answer this week, as Philly royally struggled to run the ball (58 rushing yards and 2.4 yards per carry) in a loss to the Carolina Panthers.

 

Enter Shady.

 

Doug Pederson is already familiar with the veteran back after being together in Philly from 2009 to 2012. He fits Pederson’s offense and could provide the same boost Ajayi did a year ago when he was traded from the Dolphins. (Ajayi led the NFL’s third-ranked rushing unit by the end of 2017). The Eagles, who currently rank 21st in rushing, need a spark heading into the second half of the season, and Shady’s return to Philly could be a big one.

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (3-3): The Seahawks’ run game has improved immensely of late, with Seattle putting up 172 rushing yards per game in the last three games. Their running back committee features Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny, and they’ve done a good job taking some pressure off Russell Wilson. The one thing this backfield lacks, though, is an explosive presence. That’s where McCoy comes into play. Adding him to the offense would make it much tougher for opposing defenses, because he’s a home-run hitter who must be accounted for at all times.

 

If the football gods put McCoy in Seattle, Wilson and Shady would be the best QB-RB duo in the league. Think Vince Young and Chris Johnson, but better. Wilson has the ability to open up lanes for McCoy, who will in turn open up play-action for Wilson. Think of the possibilities.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-3): As bad as the defense is, the Bucs are still in position to make a run at the postseason. They lead the league in passing yards (364 yards per game) but sit 29th in rushing. This lackluster ground game features Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones. Barber has shouldered the load so far, with 74 attempts for 260 yards (3.5 yards per carry), while Jones hasn’t been the player Dirk Koetter initially thought he was getting in the draft. In total, this pair has one rushing touchdown. The unit is in dire need of help.

 

I played for Dirk Koetter in Jacksonville, where he was the offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011. McCoy is a versatile back who could produce right now in Koetter’s system. He’d also be a huge teaching tool for the younger running backs.

 

Speaking of Koetter, he’s walking on thin ice right now, and his seat feels hotter by the minute. Running back is a big area of concern, so why not bring in a player who could largely improve production at the position? His seat could cool off with the right move.

 

 

NEW ENGLAND

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com thinks the Patriots may make a deal by next Tuesday.

 

Bill Belichick loves to trade, and the NFL’s trade deadline is Tuesday.

 

This combination adds a compelling subplot surrounding the 5-2 New England Patriots, who have won four games in a row and are preparing to visit the Buffalo Bills on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

 

The phones, as usual, are ringing at Patriots headquarters.

 

“A trade is a two-way street, so you have to have a trade partner. But I would say, in our case, probably the other 31 teams — maybe excluding the ones in our division because we’re probably not going to deal with them — I think they know we’re willing to trade,” Belichick said earlier this week on sports radio WEEI.

 

“And so if they have a player that for whatever reason they want to trade, in all honesty, usually we get a call because we’re a team that trades. I’m not saying we’d make a lot of trades, but if the situation is right, we’d certainly consider it. We’ve made our share.”

 

Some of those have added players to the roster, such as linebackers Kyle Van Noy (2016), Jonathan Casillas (2014) and Akeem Ayers (2014), defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga (2013) and cornerback Aqib Talib (2012).

 

But another point Belichick made in his radio interview is that the Patriots haven’t been afraid to trade players away despite their position as one of the top teams in the AFC, with linebacker Jamie Collins (2016), tight end A.J. Derby (2016) and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (2018) recent examples of that approach.

 

So that is why Belichick said every trade possibility is evaluated individually, because each has its own unique dynamic. Sometimes those possibilities are foreshadowed weeks in advance.

 

“Certainly we’ve heard from teams that have said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in so and so? We’re not ready to do anything now, but maybe when we get closer to the deadline, let’s see how depth is,'” Belichick said on WEEI.

 

Other times, he said, the Patriots will call teams and propose something they might have otherwise not considered, but could be motivated by the team’s interest and willingness to deal.

 

So that’s why Belichick said he “wouldn’t rule anything out” at this point.

 

As for areas the Patriots might be most interested in pursuing, running back, defensive tackle and linebacker are three that figure to be highest on the list.

 

With rookie running back Sony Michel (knee) banged up, the club had practice squad rusher Kenneth Farrow taking significant snaps at Wednesday’s practice. The only other healthy running backs on the roster are James White and Kenjon Barner.

 

While the Patriots could potentially use Farrow as a bridge until Michel returns — while also factoring in the potential return of Rex Burkhead in early December as a designated-to-return-from-IR player — it makes sense to think they’d also explore trade possibilities at the position.

 

As for the defense, Belichick might not have the same urgency as others, with a belief that the answers are in-house.

 

“We gave up seven points a couple weeks ago against Miami. Hopefully we have some more of those games in us,” he said on WEEI. “I think we can play good defense. I think we can play better than we’ve played.”

 

Still, if a front-seven defender is made available in a cost-efficient deal — similar to when the team acquired Van Noy, Casillas and Ayers — the Patriots have the flexibility to make it happen after restructuring cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s contract to create cap space.