Monthly Archives: November 2016

Cam Newton gets first roughing the passer call since 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders on Sunday became the first team called for a roughing the passer penalty against Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton since Tampa Bay in Week 15 of the 2014 season.

It came on an incomplete pass in the first quarter when defensive tackle Stacy McGee hit the reigning MVP on an incomplete pass.

Newton blasted officials about the lack of no-calls following an October 30 win against Arizona in which he took a shot below the knees while in the pocket.

He said after the game he didn’t feel safe and that he wanted to talk to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, which he did two days later.

Newton said it was a good conversation and that he “got my point across.”

“Illegal hits for me start in the pocket,” Newton said after the talk. “I know when I am running the football, I am on my own. I understand that. I’m not a dummy or oblivious to the fact that I run the football more than any quarterback who has ever played this game. I mean, duh. I’m fine with that.

“In the pocket, that’s all I’m asking for. Just to get certain things, the standard of every person getting the same calls, that’s all.”

Twice this season opponents were called for roughing, but the penalty was not enforced. In Week 1 at Denver, the penalty was negated by an intentional grounding penalty.

Another was negated in Week 8 against Arizona.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera sent another no-call that he questioned to the NFL for review after a November win at Los Angeles. The league ruled the hit was legal.

Aaron Rodgers: Packers, at 4-6, can close with 6 straight wins

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers ended his postgame news conference after Sunday night’s loss at Washington by saying he’s “very optimistic” the Green Bay Packers can still turn their season around.

No one asked him why until three days later.

When presented with the natural, albeit delayed, follow-up question on Wednesday, Rodgers took it a step — or six — further.

“I feel like we can run the table, I really do,” Rodgers said. “The offense is starting to click a little bit more, we’ve just got to put together a game where we’re more consistent from the first snap to the last. We’ve been, I think, getting closer to that. We’ve really been clicking at times in the last few games. But it’s going to be important that we get going early. We had three three-and-outs to start the [Washington] game, but overall on the season, we’ve done a better job of limiting our three-and-outs, we’ve been sustaining drives pretty well.”

At 4-6 with six games remaining, the Packers stand two games out of first place in the NFC North behind co-leaders Detroit and Minnesota. The Lions and Vikings play on Thanksgiving so even if the Packers end their four-game losing streak with a win Monday night at Philadelphia, they’re still going to be two games behind the division leader.

While Rodgers learned Wednesday that he won’t get back running back Eddie Lacy, who will remain on injured reserve for the remainder of the season, he praised the addition of running back Christine Michael, who was claimed off waivers from Seattle last week, and the return of tight end Jared Cook, who had six catches for 105 and a touchdown against the Redskins after missing six games because of a sprained right ankle.

“You just feel like it just takes one,” Rodgers said. “We get one under our belts, things might start rolling for us and we can run the table.”

Receiver Jordy Nelson likened this season to 2010, when the Packers were 8-6 with two weeks remaining, were in danger of missing the playoffs and there was heat on coach Mike McCarthy. That season, they won their last two games and went on to the Super Bowl.

Nelson said Rodgers’ comments were more than just locker-room rah-rah.

“I think everyone in here probably believes that, to be honest,” Nelson said. “That’s how we started the year. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team here where we went into a game thinking there’s no way we’re going to win this game. Even if our backs are against the wall. If you look at the year we won the Super Bowl and people were counting us out and, honestly (people) were wanting to fire Mike back then when we lost at Detroit and went to New England and we lost and had to win out to make the playoffs. Every playoff game we’ve been in, every regular-season game we’ve been in we thought we were going to win. I think that’s just how confident we are. I think the things we’ve done in the past allow us to be that confident. We just have to go out and do it on the field.”

The problem, however, might not be on Rodgers’ side of the ball. The defense has allowed 40-plus points in each of the last two games.

Still, Rodgers said it’s incumbent upon him to make sure he plays “at a really high level” and “do what I’ve always done and be a little bit better every time I’m out there.”

“I know a lot is going to be on our shoulders especially the way we’re starting games out,” Rodgers said. “We have to start faster, I have to be sharper from the start and I will be. And I’m confident that if we can get this thing started out a little better each week that we can get on that roll and be tough to stop. Now we have to go out and do it. It’s just idle words right now, but I’m confident in our guys and I’m confident we’ll respond on Monday.”

Bengals’ A.J. Green carted off, may miss rest of season

CINCINNATI — Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green will miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. Sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter there is a chance Green will not play again this season.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis declined give an official update on Green’s status when asked after Cincinnati’s 16-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills..

“I don’t know when he can be back, but he has a hamstring injury, I can tell you that,” Lewis said.

Green hit the ground when trying to make a catch on the second play of the game, and he got up in obvious pain. He briefly stood on the sideline, held up by two assistant trainers, who signaled for a cart. Green was taken to the locker room and did not return.

He is scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

Green was sitting at his locker after the game, but he declined to talk to the media.

“I just talked to him a little while ago,” said teammate Domata Peko. “He said he’s going to take it day to day.”

Numerous teammates called Green the best player or one of the best players on the team when discussing his injury after the game.

“He’s our leader and the best playmaker we have,” said running back Jeremy Hill. “When you lose him, it definitely hurts the team.”

A five-time Pro Bowler, Green was on track for his sixth 1,000-yard receiving season this year; with 964 receiving yards on the season, he came into the game trailing only Falcons wideout Julio Jones in that category.

Green had four touchdowns for the Bengals this season.

Tony Romo says he backs Dak Prescott, but still wants to play

FRISCO, Texas — For nearly five minutes, an emotional Tony Romo addressed his past, present and future as Dallas Cowboys quarterback almost three months after suffering a compression fracture in his back that has kept him out of the first nine games of the regular season.

Romo read a prepared statement that lasted just under five minutes, and did not take any questions.

Romo accepted that he will be Dak Prescott’s backup when he returns this week against the Baltimore Ravens.

“He’s earned the right to be our quarterback,” Romo said. “As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right. He’s guided our team to an 8-1 record and that’s hard to do. If you think for a second that I don’t want to be out there, then you’ve probably never felt the pure ecstasy of competing and winning. That hasn’t left me. In fact it may burn more now than ever.”

Romo entered 2016 feeling as good about his game as he has ever felt. He was able to go through an entire offseason program and training camp without any issues from a back that required two surgeries in 2013. The twice-broken left collarbone that forced him to miss 12 games last year was surgically repaired in the offseason.

Then on the third play of the Aug. 25 preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Romo suffered a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra when hit from behind by defensive end Cliff Avril. He attempted to re-enter the game but was held out. After the contest he expressed confidence that his back was able to withstand such a hit. On the next day he was diagnosed with the fracture.

“To say the first half of the season has been emotional would be a huge understatement,” Romo said. “Getting hurt when you feel like you have the best team you’ve ever had was a soul-crushing moment for me. Then to learn it’s not three of our weeks but 10 is another blow. And through it all you have a tremendous amount of guilt on having let your teammates, fans and organization down. After all they were depending on you to bring them a championship. That’s what quarterbacks are supposed to do. That’s how we’re judged. I love that. I still do.”

In his 14th year and 36 years old, Romo knows he does not have many chances left to compete for a championship.

He said he has felt like an “outsider,” as the Cowboys have put together the best record in the NFL while he rehabbed. Last week marked the first time he went through three straight full practices since late in the 2014 season. After Sunday’s win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the Cowboys would go with Prescott’s hot hand.

“It’s a dark place, probably the darkest it’s ever been,” Romo said. “You’re sad and down and out and you ask yourself, ‘Why did this have to happen?’ It’s in this moment you find out who you really are and what you’re really about.”

Romo also knows the business of the NFL. In 2006, he did what Prescott is doing. Bill Parcells went to him over Drew Bledsoe after six games and he spurred the Cowboys on to the playoffs. He has been the Cowboys’ starting quarterback ever since, becoming the franchise leader in touchdown passes and yards while compiling a 78-49 record.

“It’s not always easy to watch,” Romo said. “I think anybody who’s been in this position understands that. But what is clear is that I was that kid once, stepping in, having to prove yourself. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. It really is an incredible time in your life. And if I remember one thing from back then, it’s the people that helped me along when I was young.

“And if I can be that to Dak, you know, I’ve tried to be and I will be going forward. We all know something magical is happening to our team. I’m not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak or this football team by becoming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows that I have his back. And I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately, it’s about the team. It’s what we’ve preached our entire lives.”

Heat expect to be without injured Goran Dragic against Jazz

MIAMI — The Miami Heat expect to be without injured point guard Goran Dragic for the game Saturday against the Utah Jazz.

Dragic sprained his left ankle in the third quarter Thursday in a loss to Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls. X-rays were negative, but Dragic remains in a walking boot and dealing with some swelling.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says Dragic is listed as day-to-day.

Dragic is averaging 16.3 points and 5.9 assists in the season’s first seven games for Miami, which has dropped three straight and is off to a 2-5 start.

The Heat will have to change their starting lineup for the first time this season, with Tyler Johnson a candidate to replace Dragic at starting point guard.

Paul George fined $15K for kicking ball into the stands

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George was fined $15,000 on Tuesday for kicking the ball into the stands on Saturday.

George was ejected for kicking the ball, which hit a fan in the face, during the Pacers’ game against the Bulls.

He apologized after the game.

“I meant to kick the ball against the mat, the stanchion, I guess,” George said after the Pacers’ 111-94 win over the Bulls. “And my soccer skill isn’t as good as I thought. I apologized to the people who I hit, and I’m glad my team was able to pick up this win and me not be at fault for the loss.”

George said when he apologized to the fan, she told him she was OK.

“She said she’s fine,” George said. “She’s good.”

George also sent flowers to the woman he accidentally hit.

Seahawks’ Earl Thomas won’t be fined for hugging official

RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas will not be fined for hugging official Alex Kemp during last week’s game against the New Orleans Saints, according to a league source.

Thomas recovered a fumble and ran it back for a 34-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

He then hugged Kemp, who smiled before reaching into his pocket and flagging Thomas for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“It was a pretty interesting moment,” coach Pete Carroll said this week. “We’re not going to do that again. … Earl got the chance to celebrate with an official for one time in his career.”

Thomas said Sunday that he didn’t realize he was flagged until someone told him in the locker room after the game.

“Just an exciting moment,” he said. “That’s just how I celebrated.”

The Seahawks lost to the Saints 25-20.

Jamie Collins Elite Jersey

The New England Patriots have traded linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns for a draft pick.

The trade is for a third-round compensatory pick if the Browns are awarded one, a source told ESPN’s Pat McManamon. If the Browns don’t get that pick from the league, the trade is for a fourth-round pick, the source said.

“In the end, we did what we thought was best for the football team. There are a lot of things to take into consideration. I’m sure we could bring up a lot of points to talk about, but in the end, that’s really the bottom line,” Bill Belichick said on sports radio WEEI when asked about the trade.

Collins’ four-year rookie contract will expire after the season, and he was at one point asking for what one league source described to ESPN’s Adam Schefter as “Von Miller money.” The Denver Broncos gave Miller a six-year, $114.5 million deal in July, including $70 million guaranteed.

For the Browns, the trade is designed to help a defense that has struggled to stop teams all season and is especially thin at outside linebacker. No team has scored fewer than 25 points on the Browns this season, and four of eight have scored more than 30 — including the New York Jets on Sunday.

The outside linebacker spot has been thin in Cleveland since Paul Kruger was released during the preseason and Nate Orchard went on injured reserve early in the season. The Browns are tied for 21st in the NFL with 14 sacks in eight games, and Collins could help there.

There is risk involved for Cleveland. Collins can become a free agent after the season; the Browns will have to convince him it’s worth staying with a team that is currently winless. The Browns (0-8) would have the option of using the franchise tag on Collins.

“We’d love to keep him obviously,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said to reporters. “It’s got to be mutual and hopefully we can move in that direction. But I think it’s getting him here, having him get to know us, us getting to know him. We know what he is. We know what he brings to the table. I don’t think we would have done this if we didn’t think there was an opportunity to move forward with him.”

Collins played 48 of 70 defensive snaps against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, which was unusual because he had typically been an every-down player.

The Patriots (7-1) took him off the field when the Bills used fullback Jerome Felton in run-based packages, perhaps indicating that New England no longer viewed Collins as a three-down linebacker.

If the Browns are awarded a compensatory pick, it will be made at the end of the third round. The Browns would receive the pick based on an NFL formula evaluating the free agents the team signed and lost during the offseason.

This is the second trade between the Patriots and Browns this season. In August, the Browns traded linebacker Barkevious Mingo, a former first-round pick, to the Patriots for a 2017 fifth-round pick.

Collins, 27, had appeared in seven games for the Patriots this season and had 43 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. He missed Week 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals because of a hip injury and had been listed on the injury report the past two weeks before coming off it Friday.

A fourth-year veteran, Collins made his first Pro Bowl last season.

“I think he’s a tremendous pass-rusher,” Jackson said. “He can play linebacker. I think there are several things he can do. He has a real versatile skill set.”

Collins is the second high-profile defensive player the Patriots have traded this year. In March, New England dealt defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals. Like Collins, Jones will be a free agent after the season.

Jones appeared to react to the trade of his former teammate with a tweet shortly after news of the deal was reported.

Since Sept. 1, 2014, the Patriots have made 21 trades that either involved a player leaving or coming to New England, the most of any team in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.