Monthly Archives: January 2018

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sustained an injury to his right throwing hand in a minor collision in practice Wednesday, according to a source.

A source close to Brady said it is possible the injury could affect him slightly in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Brady is moving forward with the belief that he should be OK overall.

A second source said Brady’s hand “should be OK.”

Brady was officially limited in practice, according to the team’s participation report, and underwent tests with the team’s medical staff afterward. He had been scheduled to hold a news conference at that time.

The next benchmark for Brady will be Thursday at 12:15 p.m. ET, which is the team’s next scheduled practice.
According to a report from the Boston Herald, the injury occurred when one of Brady’s teammates accidentally ran into him and jammed his hand. X-rays were taken and revealed no structural damage, according to the Herald.

Tom Brady, pictured above celebrating a touchdown in New England's playoff win over Tennessee, was limited in Wednesday's practice with a right hand injury.

Tom Brady, pictured above celebrating a touchdown in New England’s playoff win over Tennessee, was limited in Wednesday’s practice with a right hand injury.

Brady has been on and off the injury report at times this season — for an Achilles and left shoulder injury. This is the first time he has landed on the injury report due to his throwing hand.

Players who were asked about Brady later in the day said they weren’t aware of anything that happened injury-wise at practice.

“He looked like the same old Tom out there,” said cornerback Eric Rowe.

The Patriots have just two quarterbacks on their roster, Brady and veteran backup Brian Hoyer. They don’t have a quarterback on their practice squad.

In addition to Brady, offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, defensive tackle Alan Branch and running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee were all limited with knee injuries.

The Patriots host the Jaguars in the conference title game Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET on CBS.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Naturally, New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams was hard on himself after he ended his stellar rookie season by becoming the victim of one of the most stunning and spectacular plays in NFL history.

“Man, it was just my play to make,” said Williams, who missed the tackle around the Saints’ 35-yard line that allowed Minnesota Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs to run free for a 61-yard, game-winning touchdown in Minnesota’s 29-24 victory.
Williams had bloodshot eyes, but held his head high as he faced the media, vowing to never let a play like that happen again. He reportedly fell to his knees on the field before returning to the locker room. And he was consoled and supported by several of his teammates, who joined Saints coach Sean Payton in stressing that no one player was to blame for that final breakdown.

After missing a tackle that allowed Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs to run free for a 61-yard, game-winning touchdown on Sunday, Saints safety Marcus Williams vowed to do all he can "to make sure nothing like this happens again to me."

After missing a tackle that allowed Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs to run free for a 61-yard, game-winning touchdown on Sunday, Saints safety Marcus Williams vowed to do all he can “to make sure nothing like this happens again to me.”

“The ball was in the air. I didn’t go attack it. And he came down and made a great play, and that’s just on me,” said Williams, who had lowered his head and shoulder and attempted to drive toward Diggs’ leg — though he whiffed completely — instead of contesting the ball in the air or waiting to wrap up Diggs after the catch. “I just gotta be that guy and go up and get the ball. As a safety back there, you gotta be the eraser. And that was my job. …

“I feel like I was a little early [on my launch toward Diggs]. But at that point, I just gotta make the tackle when he comes down. … There’s only 10 seconds left. I knew the situation. You gotta make sure you make the play. …

“If the play happened different, I would just go attack the ball and make that play.”

When asked how he will bounce back from the play, Williams said, “Man, just overcoming. You can’t let it beat you down. I’m gonna take it upon myself to do all that I can to never let that happen again. And, I mean, if it happens again, then I shouldn’t be playing. But I’m gonna take it upon myself to do all that I can to make sure nothing like this happens again to me.”
Williams was almost one of the game’s heroes with a leaping interception late in the third quarter while the Saints were rallying back from a 17-0 halftime deficit. It was Williams’ fifth interception of the season.
The second-round pick out of Utah started all 17 games he played in this year for the Saints’ resurgent pass defense.
“He’s going to have so many opportunities and he’s going to make so many great plays in the future,” veteran Saints linebacker Manti Te’o said. “Everybody makes mistakes, man — it wasn’t just him. He didn’t lose that game. I could have done a whole lot of things better. …

“He’s a great player and a young player and has a bright future ahead of him and he’s gonna make more great plays.”

Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan made similar comments, saying he blamed himself for not getting enough pressure on quarterback Case Keenum, who was able to deliver the deep throw.

And Payton said the Saints had the right call on the play — an outside zone designed to protect the sidelines since a throw in the middle of the field would have ended the game.

“Look, he jumped and went for the tackle,” Payton said. “He’s played well for us all year. It was a timing decision. Obviously he’d like to have that back, but he’s been a good player for us all year.”

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots starting wide receiver Chris Hogan, who had missed seven of the final eight games of the regular season with a shoulder injury, has been cleared to play in Saturday’s AFC divisional-round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

Hogan was officially removed from the team’s injury report Thursday for the first time since injuring his shoulder in an Oct. 29 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
His return should shake up the Patriots’ depth chart, as he was paired with Brandin Cooks as the team’s top two receivers when through the first half of the season. In his absence, the Patriots had been using a combination of Phillip Dorsett and Danny Amendola alongside Cooks, with newcomer Kenny Britt also rotating into the mix sparingly.

Hogan had been off to a strong start this season, catching 33 passes for 438 yards and five touchdowns over the first eight games. After missing four straight games, he returned to action in a Dec. 11 loss to the Miami Dolphins, but struggled as both a pass catcher (one reception on five targets) and blocker.

He was then inactive for the final three regular-season games, and with the Patriots earning a bye, he has had an additional month to recover and gain a greater comfort level to make a return.

Elsewhere on the Patriots’ injury report, No. 3 defensive tackle Alan Branch (knee), running back Rex Burkhead (knee), linebacker Marquis Flowers (illness), running back Mike Gillislee (knee), defensive end Eric Lee (ankle/finger) and top “passing back” James White (ankle) are all listed as questionable. Branch and White said they feel ready to go, while Burkhead had hinted he was in the same category. Flowers and Lee are also expected to be ready for action.

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The Carolina Panthers are facing scrutiny from the NFL after quickly clearing quarterback Cam Newton to play Sunday, less than two weeks after a league mandate requiring more extensive concussion testing for players demonstrating obvious symptoms.

NFL officials have already been in contact with the Panthers’ medical staff as to why Newton was not taken to the locker room when he was being evaluated for a concussion. They will not comment further until those conversations are completed.

Newton was slow to get up after New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata hit him with 8 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the Panthers’ 31-26 loss. He was replaced by backup Derek Anderson, and, as he moved toward the sideline, Newton went to the ground and appeared to be pointing toward his right eye.

Cam Newton is examined after being brought down by Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata.

Cam Newton is examined after being brought down by Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said after the game that Newton had been poked in the eye. But in revisions to its concussion policy announced Dec. 29, the NFL said it would “require a locker room concussion evaluation for all players demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand).”

Those symptoms appeared to match Newton’s actions. But the Panthers never took Newton to the locker room. Instead, they announced he was tested for a concussion on the blue sideline tent and cleared. He returned to the game for the Panthers’ next series and threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to tailback Christian McCaffrey on his third play back.

Newton also said the injury was to his eye.

“I know it was precautionary things for a concussion,” Newton said, “but it wasn’t a hit to the head it was my eye. My helmet had came down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player’s stomach I believe. I thought somebody stuck their finger in my eye, but I’ve got my visor, so that couldn’t happen.”

Even if the Panthers were primarily concerned about Newton’s eye, their decision to eschew a locker room trip — at a time when they were trying to erase a deficit and advance in the postseason — will merit a closer look by league and union officials.

Since the start of the season, the NFL/NFLPA have conducted at least two investigations into potential violations of their concussion protocol. The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 for failing to test quarterback Russell Wilson after he was sent off the field in Week 10. More recently, the league found no violations but announced its Dec. 29 revisions in response to the Houston Texans’ decision to clear quarterback Tom Savage after he presented obvious concussion symptoms on the field, including the fencing posture.

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FRISCO, Texas — The changes Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have alluded to since the Dallas Cowboys’ season ended have started.

According to multiple sources, special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will be allowed to leave despite being under contract with the Cowboys for two more seasons, and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and secondary coach Joe Baker, whose contracts were set to expire, were told they will not be back with the team.

Bisaccia will most likely to join Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders.
The future of offensive line coach Frank Pollack is also in question, despite having three Pro Bowl players — Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin — in place since 2014. Pollack took over as line coach in 2015; during his tenure the Cowboys have finished ninth, second and second in the NFL in rushing.

Changes to head coach Jason Garrett's staff have begun, according to sources.

Changes to head coach Jason Garrett’s staff have begun, according to sources.

Pass protection, however, was an issue in 2017, especially with Smith missing three full games and most of a fourth because of injuries. The Cowboys allowed 32 sacks; 22 came in the final eight games, including eight against Atlanta without Smith. Dak Prescott threw just one touchdown pass in the games in which Smith did not play.
Bisaccia had been the Cowboys’ assistant head coach and special-teams coordinator since 2013. While the return games have not produced much, the Cowboys’ coverage teams have been among the best in the NFL. The Cowboys allowed just 75 punt return yards this season, the fewest in the league. Before a late-season slide, Dan Bailey had been the most accurate kicker in NFL history, and punter Chris Jones had his best season.

The Cowboys had made a commitment to adding or keeping key special-teams contributors over the years.

Wilson had been the quarterbacks coach since 2007. He helped the development of Tony Romo and Prescott, who earned Pro Bowl honors, but the Cowboys drafted just two quarterbacks during Wilson’s tenure: Stephen McGee in 2009 and Prescott in 2016. Both were fourth-round picks.

Baker, a college teammate of Garrett’s, was promoted to secondary coach in 2016 after spending four seasons as an assistant secondary or safeties coach. The Cowboys have not had a secondary member lead the team with more than three interceptions since Terence Newman had four in 2011. The Cowboys selected four defensive backs — Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods and Marquez White — in last year’s draft after opting to let veterans Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox leave in free agency.

Carr, Church and Claiborne were much more productive with their new teams than they had been with the Cowboys in their final seasons.

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CINCINNATI — A spike in donations to the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation came from the most unlikely source on Monday morning.

Dalton’s 49-yard touchdown throw to Tyler Boyd in a fourth-and-12 situation on Sunday night not only sealed a win against the Ravens to knock them out of the playoffs, but it also secured the Bills’ first playoff berth since 1999.
Fans in Buffalo were understandably thrilled, and they wanted to let Dalton know it. While the Bills organization promised to send the Bengals some Buffalo wings, the fans decided to donate to Dalton’s cause.

“I think I’m the hottest guy in Buffalo right now,” Dalton joked to the media on Monday. “According to my Twitter, I think everybody’s loving us right now. Obviously that’s a crazy fan base, and they’re all pretty excited.”

Dalton pulled out his phone to check the numbers on donations to his foundation, noting that most of them were in $17 increments. He thought about it for a moment, then he realized why.

The $17 dollars represent the 17 seasons between playoff berths for the Bills.

“We’re appreciative of that. Obviously they’re helping out a good cause. It’s been pretty fun to see the reaction we’ve gotten,” Dalton said.

Dalton tweeted Monday evening: “In the 24 hours since the 1st donation came in, over 2500 donors and just over $57,000 and counting! Last update for the night! I will update tomorrow. We can’t thank y’all enough!”

Dalton and his wife, Jordan, formed the foundation after he was drafted by the Bengals in 2011. The foundation “provides support, resources, opportunities and life-changing experiences to seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families.”

Many of the foundation’s community outreach programs revolve around helping children, especially those with special needs, and their families in greater Cincinnati.

Although it’s hard to determine where the idea to donate to the Daltons’ foundation started, the idea appeared to gain traction on social media shortly after the Bengals sealed the Bills’ playoff fate and continued through Monday afternoon.

The foundation issued a statement Monday:

“Buffalo fans are a class act,” it read. “Thank you for showing your appreciation to Andy Dalton by supporting the families we serve. All of your donations will go to our outreach programs. We can do more with your help.”