Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Guest Post by Niles Pender of NFL Fan Appeal
The NFC South has been ruled by New Orleans in recent years, with Atlanta periodically fighting for the throne. Although Atlanta overtook New Orleans in 2010 to win the division title, 2011 was a return to normal for the division as the Saints went 13-3 and reclaimed the division. Offseason turmoil on multiple fronts for the Saints might mean that the NFC South sees a new power emerge.
The Saints will feel the impact most on the defensive side of the ball, as Jonathan Vilma is suspended for the entire 2012 season. Former Pro Bowler Will Smith is also suspended, so it will be interesting to see how the team holds up in the face of adversity. The matchup that has to be circled on the team's schedule is their regular season rematch against San Francisco. Other important games will be against the Giants and Packers, both of which could serve as playoff previews.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 7:48 PM
Guest Post by Niles Pender of NFL Fan Appeal
The AFC South, essentially since its inception, has been one of the least interesting divisions in the NFL to talk about. Discussion about it began and ended with the Indianapolis Colts, who ruled the division for the better part of a decade. Sure, other teams would make it look competitive: The 2007 Jaguars gave the Colts fits, and the 2008 Titans even managed to steal the crown for a season. Indianapolis always ended up returning to the top, though.
All of that changed in 2011, when Peyton Manning missed the season. It changed for good on March 8th, when Indy released Mannning and tore up most of its roster. Gone are mainstays such as Gary Brackett, Dallas Clark and Jeff Saturday. Even head coach Jim Caldwell and general manager Bill Polian are gone, replaced by the combination of new head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson. The Colts are now taking a long position by drafting Andrew Luck and adding dozens of new faces to the team. By opting to rebuild around rookie quarterback Andrew Luck instead of trade the pick and make one last run with the same core, the AFC South has been left up for grabs.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 7:44 PM
Gregg Rosenthal - NFL Around the League
Brian Urlacher fully expects to be a free agent for the first time in his NFL career after the 2012 season. But he says he's at least a few years away from calling it quits.
Urlacher, who says he'll be ready for training camp after missing organized team activities with a knee injury, told ESPNChicago on Wednesday that he expects to play two to three more years. Just don't expect it to come with the Chicago Bears' biggest rivals. Asked if he'd ever play for the Green Bay Packers, Urlacher flatly said no.
"That's a good deal," Urlacher said to laughter.But what if they offered two years and $20 million?
Throughout the interview, Urlacher stressed that he hopes and plans to stay with the Bears, who drafted him in the first round (ninth overall) in 2000. But it won't be an easy contract to figure out. It's never easy to sign franchise legends at the end of their career.
"My back feels great, my neck feels good, my muscles aren't pulling anymore, so that's good," he said. "Everything feels pretty good right now. I always say (I want to keep playing) two to three more years. It all depends on how I play on the field, because if I don't play good enough nobody is going to want me."
Teams will want Urlacher. But he'll have to prove he can stay healthy and play at a high level or he's headed for a drastic pay cut.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 7:36 PM
Posted by Michael David Smith on June 27, 2012, 4:21 PM EDT
There’s good injury news for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Eric Berry, the safety who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2010 but suffered a torn ACL in Week One of 2011, says he’s ready to go right now. Berry told Adam Schein of Sirius XM NFL Radio that he’s 100 percent physically.
The absence of Berry last year was a big blow to the Chiefs’ defense, and having him on the field playing the way he did as a rookie would represent a major step forward for Kansas City.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 5:39 PM
Posted by Mike Florio on June 27, 2012, 10:32 AM EDT
It’s officially time to break out the Deux Deux Deuxs.
ESPN has announced that Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer will call the second game of the season-opening Monday Night Football doubleheader, when the Raiders host the Chargers.
The official announcement includes a “podcast” from Berman, who likely still thinks that term is a reference to the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in which he explains how the decision came to be.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 11:03 AM
Posted by Michael David Smith on June 27, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is coming off a tremendous season, is freakishly athletic and at age 23 has an enormous upside. But one teammate may have gone a bit overboard in describing just how high Pierre-Paul’s upside is.
Giants defensive lineman Chris Canty sayshe thinks Pierre-Paul can be as good as Reggie White.
“There is really nobody in the league right now that you can compare him to,” Canty said on the Michael Kay Show. “The only person that kind of sticks out where you can compare him to — and I can’t believe I am saying this — but he reminds me a lot of Reggie White. His ability to play all those different positions and to impact the football game the way he does, he is an unbelievable talent.”
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 11:01 AM
Posted by Darin Gantt on June 27, 2012, 9:52 AM EDT
The Patriots have been willing to go with two quarterbacks in the past. Something about having a guy like Tom Brady can give you that confidence.
They may do so again if they find a market for one of their backups, based on the progress Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett have made.
Hoyer couldn’t find a taker this offseason when he was a restricted free agent, stepping into a market which included Peyton Manning and a pair of franchise-caliber quarterbacks in the draft.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 10:59 AM
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 8:47 AM
Posted by Michael David Smith on June 27, 2012, 7:57 AM EDT
The Bills announced that individual game tickets will be available online on July 9.
If there’s a spot for a fullback on the Patriots’ roster, Spencer Larsen appears to have the inside track.
Said Jets QB Tim Tebow of getting cheers from kids at a football camp, “It’s very humbling. I just take my role and my platform as a professional athlete very seriously.”
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 8:43 AM
Posted by Josh Alper on June 26, 2012, 4:28 PM EDT
Thanks to bounties, concussions and arrests, there haven’t been a ton of feel-good stories bouncing around the NFL this offseason.
There might even be none if not for Brian Banks. Banks’ story is probably familiar to you by this point, but we might as well spin it out there one more time. Banks was a high school linebacker good enough to commit to USC as a junior before his life was derailed when he was accused and convicted of rape while still in high school. He spent time in jail and was still on house arrest in May when he was exonerated of any crime when his accuser admitted to fabricating the story.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 7:31 AM
Posted by Mike Florio on June 26, 2012, 10:45 PM EDT
Victor Cruz has had such a hectic offseason that he looks forward to the relative calm of putting on pads and getting beaten up.
“I can’t wait for football season to come around, so I can kind of relax and focus on football,” Cruz said Tuesday at the William & Mary football camp, according to Tom Robinson of the Virginian-Pilot.
Cruz passed on a chance to appear on Dancing With The Stars (which surely would have kept eventual champion Donald Driver from being invited), telling Neil Best of Newsday that “I just want to be focused on football and focused on what’s to come, and I’m just not at the point in my career where I feel like I need to do that.” But Cruz has instead focused on plenty of things other than football, hiring IMG to represent his off-field interests, which include writing a book and becoming the new Campbell’s Soup pitchman and handing out a Grammy and shopping his Young Whales T-shirt line via among other things a trip to Italy.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 7:29 AM
Posted by Mike Florio on June 26, 2012, 5:02 PM EDT
As Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to deliberate the final rulings in the bounty suspension appeals, the league over which he presides continues to declare the players’ guilt.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday, via the Associated Press, that the evidence is “overwhelming.”
“The investigation was thorough and includes statements from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge about the details of the program, corroborating documentation and other evidence,” Aiello said. “The enforcement of the bounty rule is important to protect players that are put at risk by this kind of scheme.”
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 7:28 AM
Posted by Michael David Smith on June 26, 2012, 7:38 PM EDT
Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbleyfell just short in his quest to advance to the finals of American Ninja Warrior.
Wimbley completed the obstacle course on the reality show, which is itself quite an accomplishment, but his time was good enough only for 16th place in a competition in which the first 15 finishers advance.
At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Wimbley may be the largest person ever to complete theAmerican Ninja Warrior course. The course includes climbing and hanging and is usually completed by men who weigh about 100 pounds less than Wimbley. To complete the course, Wimbley has to have outstanding upper body strength, and especially impressive grip strength. There are probably a lot of NFL running backs, receivers and defensive backs who could complete this course, but Wimbley may be the only lineman who could do it.
Still, Wimbley didn’t do it fast enough. And so he can turn his attention away from obstacle courses, and back to football.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 7:26 AM