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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

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Ezekiel Elliott responds to critics of his big contract

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott on Thursday responded to critics of his big contract.

Elliott has been outplayed by Tony Pollard through two games. Though it is early in the season, there have already been critics pointing out how much more Elliott is being paid to not be the top performer.

Elliott basically went scoreboard on them all and said that he’s still cashing his checks regardless of his role.

Elliott has to say something about the matter and that’s the best he can come up with.

The 26-year-old was valuable as a rookie and had big seasons in 2018 and 2019. He signed a 6-year, $90 million deal prior to the 2019 season and delivered. But his role diminished last year and that has continued this year. So long as the direct deposits keep coming through though, Elliott won’t seem to mind.

David Culley had one of the most ‘cowardly’ punts in years

David Culley

David Culley did not receive a nice distinction regarding one of his decisions to punt on Thursday night.

Culley is in his first season as the head coach of the Houston Texans. His team lost 24-9 at home to the Carolina Panthers.

The game was actually close at halftime at 7-6. Houston got the ball to start the third quarter and drove into Carolina territory. They ultimately had a 4th-and-4 at the Carolina 39 but decided to punt. They took a delay of game penalty first before punting.

The “surrender index,” which tracks and evaluates whether teams should go for it, rated the decision as among the most cowardly punts since 1999.

That’s not nice.

However, there should be more context to this decision.

The Texans are playing with Davis Mills as their quarterback. He is a rookie and had just thrown five straight incompletions. That probably didn’t inspire much faith in Culley.

On the other hand, you play to win the game, as Herman Edwards says. If you’re trying to win, taking a chance on that 4th-and-4 play was probably the way to go.

The Texans beat the Jags in Week 1. We don’t expect them to win many more games the rest of the season, certainly not with Mills at QB.

Look: Giants dress up as sailors in must-see photo

Giants captain sailors

The San Francisco Giants may have lost on Thursday, but that didn’t stop them from having fun afterwards.

Giants pitcher Kevin Gausman shared a photo on Twitter that showed some of his teammates dressed up. Brandon Belt is in the foreground as the captain. His “seamen” are lined up on the stairs of the plane behind him.

So what’s the deal? Belt recently anointed himself the captain of the team and even had a funny marking on his jersey to show it. He has completely embraced the persona. He also said he is the first one off the plane.

It looks like the team was having fun with Belt’s captaincy and gave him a crew. Some of the guys behind him include Logan Webb, Lamonte Wade Jr. and Zack Littell.

Maybe this is the kind of loose attitude a team in the playoff race needs.

Video: Sam Darnold did a real dynamite job on this block attempt

Sam Darnold block

Sam Darnold had a nice game for the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, but he did have one funny moment.

Darnold’s Panthers ran a reverse in the second half of their 24-9 win over the Houston Texans. Darnold took a snap and handed the ball to Chuba Hubbard, who then pitched the ball to DJ Moore.

Darnold was around as the lead blocker on the play, though his effort on Jacob Martin left a lot to be desire.

Take a look:

They’ll have some laughs over that one during film study.

This story isn’t intended to question Darnold’s toughness in the least bit. He scored two rushing touchdowns and got beat up on one of them. But seeing a QB try to block like that is humorous. At least it was better than Tim Tebow’s effort.

Chris Bassitt shares awesome inspirational post after return from facial injury

Chris Bassitt

Chris Bassitt shared an awesome inspirational post on Twitter Thursday, the day he returned from a serious injury.

Bassitt was hit by a line drive during his start against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 17. Bassitt suffered a fractured cheekbone and jawbone. He also had to get treatment for his eye, where he had a huge cut.

Bassitt shared photos on Twitter of himself undergoing treatment at a hospital.

He also shared his reason for returning this season.

“Why did I come back? What’s the point? I’ll tell you why… We are the green and gold. Bob Melvin is our manager. Don’t make excuses and get your a– to work. If you won’t do it then we will find someone who will. This org turns you into a better person and im [sic] grateful,” Bassitt wrote (edited by LBS).

Bassitt’s return wasn’t just for show, either. He pitched three innings and allowed just one hit, one walk, no runs and struck out four.

Bassitt is 12-4 with a 3.16 ERA this season. It’s nice for the A’s to have him back.

NFL could have wild card playoff game on a Monday

Roger Goodell

The NFL playoffs traditionally take place over the course of four weekends, but they may be making a change this season.

The league already expanded to seven playoff teams last season compared to the previous amount of six. That meant an extra wild card game for each conference was played, giving us a total of six games on the first weekend of the playoffs. Under the previous format, only four games took place in the Wild Card Round.

This postseason, one of the wild card playoff games could take place on a Monday. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says there would be two Saturday games, three Sunday games, and a Monday game if such a change were made.

NFL fans are already used to games being played on Monday nights, so they would likely be up for it, and the game would likely do great ratings. But there is one possible issue.

If two teams played on Monday, that would mean the winner of the game would have less time to prepare for its next game compared to its opponent. The coaches involved in the Monday playoff game probably would not be happy about that disadvantage.

Here is the play where Christian McCaffrey suffered hamstring injury

Christian McCaffrey hamstring

Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in Thursday’s Carolina Panthers game at the Houston Texans. The versatile back suffered the injury early in the second quarter and headed to the medical tent. A few minutes later, FOX’s Erin Andrews reported that McCaffrey was out for the rest of the game.

FOX did not immediately pick up on the moment when McCaffrey got hurt. However, they later showed this clip of McCaffrey pulling up lame while rushing inside the red zone on second down.

McCaffrey pulled himself out of the game after that play and did not return. He was quickly ruled out, which is generally not a positive sign.

The 25-year-old had 7 carries for 31 yards and two catches for nine yards in the game.

McCaffrey only played in three games last season due to shoulder and ankle injuries.

Colts could have surprising starting quarterback on Sunday

Brett Hundley

The Indianapolis Colts could have a surprising starting quarterback in Week 3 on Sunday.

The Colts are set to visit the Tennessee Titans on Sunday for a divisional game. Starting quarterback Carson Wentz is dealing with injuries to both ankles and has not practiced this week.

Jacob Eason, a fourth-round pick in 2020, is the team’s backup quarterback. However, the former Washington Huskies quarterback looked overmatched when he replaced Wentz against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2. Eason went 2/5 or 25 yards and an interception.

The Colts will likely promote Brett Hundley from the practice squad to the active roster. They even gave him the majority of the first-team reps on Wednesday, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.

Pelissero’s colleague Ian Rapoport said on “The Pat McAfee Show” Thursday that there is not much optimism surrounding Wentz’s chances of playing. Rapoport says “there’s a decent chance it’s Brett Hundley” who starts.

Hundley making the jump from practice squad to Sunday starter would be a surprise. But it might be the right move for the Colts.

It sounds like Wentz will not be well enough to play. Hundley, 28, has appeared in 18 career NFL games. He made nine starts for the Packers in 2017 in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers.

Though Hundley only has nine touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions in his career, he would likely make the Colts more competitive than Eason.

Randall Cobb shares funny story about preseason prep with Aaron Rodgers

Randall Cobb

Aaron Rodgers went out of his way to push the Green Bay Packers to bring wide receiver Randall Cobb back to the team. Once they did, the quarterback was apparently so excited about getting down to business that Cobb had to tell him to pump the brakes.

Cobb revealed Thursday that he had briefly lived with Rodgers in Green Bay during camp while his family was making the move back to Wisconsin. In Cobb’s retelling, the pair spent lots of time watching the Olympics and studying the offensive playbook. In fact, the playbook work was so intense, Cobb had to tell Rodgers to dial it back a bit.

Rodgers certainly doesn’t sound like a guy who had checked out of the Packers mentally by the time Cobb arrived. Rodgers certainly felt the team proved that on Monday night.

Cobb hasn’t been heavily involved in the offense so far, catching four passes for 58 yards in the team’s first two games. Based on this and what Rodgers was saying about him during training camp, it certainly doesn’t seem to have anything to do with a lack of familiarity with the playbook.

This is how Timberwolves reportedly learned of Gersson Rosas affair

Gersson Rosas

The abrupt firing of Minnesota Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas looks set to remain a major story, and we continue to learn more about how quickly Rosas’ transgressions came to light.

Reports surfaced Thursday indicating Rosas was fired in part for engaging in an “inappropriate relationship” with a fellow member of the organization. Rosas’ actions did not come to light until very recently, and did not become known throughout the organization and the league until Wednesday.

A new report indicates that Rosas was stunningly public in carrying on the affair, which helped lead to his downfall. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, team officials became aware of Rosas’ affair when presented with a series of photographs. The photographs allegedly show Rosas and a female Timberwolves staffer, both of whom are married, kissing in a suite at last Saturday’s Minnesota United FC match. The soccer club had reserved luxury seating for several members of the organization, including Rosas and the female staffer.

In one close-up photograph, Rosas and the woman are seen sitting beside each other. In another, they are seen leaning toward each other to embrace.

The identity of the woman has not been disclosed publicly, though a second employee also left the organization on Wednesday.