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Friday, January 18, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

Antonio Brown blasts Bruce Arians over ‘diva’ remarks

Antonio Brown

Even with wide receiver Antonio Brown’s Pittsburgh Steelers future in doubt, he’s more than happy to defend himself via Twitter.

The latest instance of this came after former Steelers offensive coordinator and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians referred to Brown as a “diva,” claiming he was no longer the same guy that Pittsburgh drafted.

Brown wasn’t having that.

There’s an added shot at former Pittsburgh teammate Emmanuel Sanders, who recently criticized Brown’s conduct, tucked in there as well.

This probably won’t endear Brown to his Steelers’ bosses any. There’s a reason Pittsburgh seems eager to move on from him. This is just more distraction that they don’t really need, though he certainly has the right to respond to public criticism.

Ryan Shazier wants to continue rehabbing with Steelers

Ryan Shazier

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is set to become a free agent, but wants to continue trying to return to football with his current team.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II said Shazier, who suffered a devastating back injury in 2017, still wants to play in the NFL again and wants to continue working to do it with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Shazier didn’t play in 2018, and we last saw him walking onstage to announce a Steelers draft pick, which was an inspiring moment. Expect the Steelers to be amenable to bringing him back as long as he wants to continue working toward a return.

10 most important players remaining in the NFL playoffs

Patrick Mahomes

One of the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, or Los Angeles Rams will be crowned Super Bowl champions in less than a month, and it’s fun to think of which players might end up getting each team there. Many are obvious, but all are of vital importance. If these ten players play their best, it’s hard to stop them, and it’s easy to see how they can win a game for their team at the most important time of the year.

Here are the ten most important players left in the NFL playoffs.

10) Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

Thomas had a dominant game against the Philadelphia Eagles, going for 171 yards receiving against the reigning Super Bowl champions. That means that whomever the Los Angeles Rams have covering him is going to be facing a very tough task, and it wouldn’t be any easier for any potential AFC opponent in the Super Bowl. Thomas is a favorite of Brees and a threat in every way, and if the Saints win the Super Bowl, expect him to be a big reason why.

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Packers reportedly hire Nathaniel Hackett as new offensive coordinator

Green Bay Packers logo

The Green Bay Packers continue to improve their offense staff around quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Packers have hired former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to fulfill the same role under new head coach Matt LaFleur.

Hackett was fired by the Jaguars this season, having served in the role since 2016. He seemed to feel he was scapegoated when it happened as Jacksonville, lacking an NFL-caliber starting quarterback, floundered throughout much of the season. Going from Blake Bortles to Rodgers should be quite the upgrade for him.

Nick Foles admits he wants to find starting job for next season

Nick Foles

With free agency pending, Nick Foles has made it clear that he wants to be someone’s starting quarterback in 2019.

Foles said Monday that he would “love to lead a team,” offering up a pretty clear hint of where his priorities will lie if and when he hits the open market.

“Yeah, like I said, I would love to lead a team,” Foles said, via Tim McManus of ESPN. “The starter thing, leading a team, impacting a locker room … that’s why we play the game, to impact people, to create an atmosphere.”

Foles is a Super Bowl winner and has clearly shown himself worthy of the opportunity to quarterback a team. It’s likely that he’s going to have a lot of suitors this offseason, though it remains to be seen how he can hold up in an environment other than Philadelphia.

Report: Rockets’ Clint Capela out 4-to-6 weeks with thumb injury

Clint Capela Rockets

The Houston Rockets got very bad news about one of their key players on Monday.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, center Clint Capela will miss 4-to-6 weeks with a right thumb injury.

Capela tweaked his thumb on Sunday on a lob play, though he returned to the game. The issue did not appear serious at the time, but it turns out that he’s poised to miss at least a month of action.

The Rockets are already without one key player. The absence of Capela, who is averaging a double-double this season, is a really brutal blow.

NBA finds no wrongdoing in Cavaliers’ Patrick McCaw signing

Cleveland Cavaliers logo

No rules were broken by the Cleveland Cavaliers in their signing of restricted free agent Patrick McCaw, an NBA investigation concluded.

The league announced that there was nothing wrong with Cleveland’s handling of McCaw. The Cavaliers signed the restricted free agent to a two-year non-guaranteed offer sheet before waiving him after just three games, sparking speculation that Cleveland did him a favor to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent as quickly as possible.

McCaw has since joined the Toronto Raptors, and the league has determined that there was no circumvention or conspiracy. That effectively closes the matter.

Bears refuse to rule out pursuit of Kareem Hunt

Kareem Hunt

The Chicago Bears refused to rule out what would be a controversial pursuit of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.

Bears coach Matt Nagy admitted that he spoke to Hunt a week ago, but nobody was willing to commit either way to bringing Hunt to Chicago.

Nagy was Hunt’s offensive coordinator during the running back’s rookie year with Kansas City in 2017.

Hunt was released by Kansas City after video emerged of him assaulting a woman. He faces a lengthy suspension from the NFL, and any approach from the Bears would be met with significant public outcry. It’s hard to see any reason for them to do it.