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Saturday, September 21, 2019

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Report: Alshon Jeffery has ‘pretty good chance’ to play against Lions

Alshon Jeffery

The Philadelphia Eagles have been bitten harder by the injury bug than any team in the NFL through the first two weeks, but the ailment Alshon Jeffery is dealing with does not appear to be serious.

Jeffery left in the second quarter of Sunday night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons with a calf injury. He has not practiced this week and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup with the Detroit Lions, but Elliott Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com believes the receiver has a “pretty good chance” of playing.

DeSean Jackson has been ruled out for Sunday with an abdomen injury, and it was originally reported that both he and Jeffery could miss two weeks. At this point, it sounds like Jeffery is further along in his recovery than Jackson.

The Eagles have so many players battling injuries that they made the rare decision to cancel a practice earlier in the week. Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will likely see a big boost in snaps this weekend with Jackson out, and he could play an even bigger role if Jeffery is sidelined as well.

NBA Board of Governors unanimously passes stricter anti-tampering rules

Adam Silver

Adam Silver’s wish to crack down on tampering in the NBA is reportedly coming true.

The NBA Board of Governors passed a set of rules meant to cut down on tampering and salary cap manipulation on Friday, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Silver said the provisions passed unanimously, and that all options are on the table to put a halt to inappropriate behavior.

This set of rules is meant to increase tanking penalties. Fines will go up, though that’s not expected to be a big deterrent. The most significant clause may be the fact that the NBA would threaten to strip teams of draft picks if they are found to have violated tampering rules.

In general, it’s a pretty straightforward set of rules. However, there’s one clause in the package that will prove particularly controversial.

Calvin Johnson says Lions once made him change story about suffering concussion

Calvin Johnson sad

Calvin Johnson has openly criticized the Detroit Lions on more than one occasion since he made the shocking decision to retire from the NFL at age 30 three years ago, but the latest revelation he made about his time with the franchise may be the most damning.

In a lengthy interview with Michael Rosenberg of The MMQB, Johnson criticized NFL teams for only caring about their “product” and not the welfare of players. He spoke about the rampant opioid abuse across the league, and he also recalled a time when he suffered a concussion and the Lions made him lie about it.

Johnson said he suffered so many concussions playing football that he got used to them and could recognize the signs, which included “seeing stars” and having impaired vision. He says he sustained one in a game against the Minnesota Vikings back in 2012, but the Lions were unhappy that he spoke about it publicly.

“I knew I was concussed because I blacked out. I wasn’t seeing straight,” Johnson said. “And they wanted me to change my story.”

Johnson sat out six offensive plays in the 2012 game after taking a big hit from then-Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway. He returned the next offensive series. Johnson confirmed after the game that he had suffered a concussion and said he also suffered nerve damage and was having trouble gripping a football. The Lions released a statement saying neither assessment was accurate.

“In response to the various reports (Thursday) regarding Calvin Johnson and injuries, we reiterate that Calvin did not suffer a concussion at any time this season,” the team said at the time. “With respect to the Minnesota game on Sept. 30, Calvin sustained a hit that resulted in him being removed from the game and evaluated pursuant to the appropriate concussion protocol by our team doctors.

“He also was subsequently examined the following day and was found to have no concussion. Additionally, Calvin did not suffer any nerve damage. He sustained what is referred to as a stinger Sept. 30 and was able to finish the game.”

Johnson initially declined comment when reporters sought clarification, but he later released a statement of his own through the team.

“I would like to clarify some of my comments from yesterday. I am aware that I did not suffer a concussion in our game against the Vikings earlier this year,” the statement read. “I misused the terms ‘nerve damage’ and ‘concussion.’ I have not suffered any nerve damage nor have I received any treatment for nerve damage. I did suffer a stringer in the game against Minnesota and also have experienced the kind of wear and tear that most NFL players are dealing with at this point in the season.”

The statement read like it was given from someone who was called to the principal’s office, and Johnson said that’s basically what happened. He said he played through concussions many times because that’s what you have to do to earn “Employee of the Month,” as Rosenberg termed it.

Johnson has had a very public dispute with the Lions over his signing bonus, but it’s clear the hostility he feels toward the organization has to do with more than just money. If the Lions forced him to cover up a concussion to make themselves look better, you can understand why he’d be bitter about that.

Tom Brady denies criticizing officials in Jags-Titans game

Tom Brady

Tom Brady wants to make it clear that he’s not blaming the referees for the numerous penalties called during Thursday night’s game between the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brady sent a pair of critical tweets during Thursday’s game, which was marred by constant flags, some of which were definitely questionable. On Friday, Brady sought to clarify them, stating that he wasn’t blaming the referees for their performance.

Essentially, Brady is blaming the NFL for having officials call things more tightly. And he has a point: per NFL.com’s Judy Battista, offensive holding penalties are way up in 2019 compared to where they were the year before.

We saw this coming during the preseason, and perhaps we should’ve worried then. Many fans would agree with Brady, though. Parts of Thursday night’s game were very difficult to watch because of all those flags.

Rival teams not convinced Jaguars will trade Jalen Ramsey?

Jalen Ramsey

Jalen Ramsey made it clear earlier in the week that he no longer wants to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the team found itself in a different situation on Friday than it was in prior to Thursday night’s win over the Tennessee Titans. Now, speculation is starting to build that the Jags may hang onto Ramsey.

Several teams have called the Jaguars with legitimate interest in acquiring Ramsey, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that they are wondering if Jacksonville actually plans to trade the All-Pro cornerback.

“Given the performance that the Jaguars had on the field (Thursday) night and given the fact that they have a pretty favorable schedule and a rookie quarterback who is playing pretty well, do they decide to deal their best player in a division that they feel is winnable?” Rapoport said. “That’s a question we simply do not know the answer to.”

Ramsey is signed through 2020, so the Jaguars don’t need to be in any rush to deal him from a contractual standpoint. The former first-round pick has also spoken about how he still loves his teammates, and all indications are that his issues are with the front office and not head coach Doug Marrone or anyone in the locker room. If the Jags feel they have a chance to win arguably the worst division in football, they could try to smooth things over with Ramsey.

We already know one very influential person within the organization would like to see Ramsey stick around, and these types of situations tend to be fluid in pro sports. If a team doesn’t blow the Jaguars away with an offer, it would not be a surprise if they rode things out with Ramsey through at least the end of the season.

Jerry Jones throws Taco Charlton under the bus after waiving him

Taco Charlton

The Dallas Cowboys selected defensive lineman Taco Charlton in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but it’s fair to say they were quite disillusioned with him by the time they placed him on waivers this week.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did not mince words in explaining why the team opted to move on from Charlton after just over two seasons. Jones accused Charlton of wilting, and said he struggled to mentally recover after bad practices.

Ouch. Jones is known to be a straight shooter, but that’s a very harsh assessment of a former first-round selection.

The stats bear out that Charlton just didn’t contribute enough. After picking up three sacks in his rookie year, Charlton’s tally fell to one in 2018 despite seven starts. The production just wasn’t there, and the decision to move on is understandable. He’s since moved to Miami, where expectations are going to be a lot lower for both Charlton and the team.

Gardner Minshew once tried to break his own hand to get medical redshirt

Gardner Minshew may not be the most talented quarterback in football, but there is no one in the NFL willing to go to greater lengths to achieve their goals than the Jacksonville Jaguars rookie.

Minshew was a guest on the “Pardon My Take” podcast this week, and hosts Big Cat and PFT Commenter asked him to tell a story that most encompasses what a “football guy” he is. The former Washington State star recalled the time he had just enrolled at East Carolina from junior college and was so desperate to redshirt his first year that he tried to smash his own hand with a hammer.

Minshew said he had two senior quarterbacks ahead of him in his first year at ECU, and one was moved to running back in the fourth game of the season when the starter got knocked out with concussion. That left Minshew to play about a half, but the starter returned the following week. Minshew’s only hope at that point to save a year of eligibility was to be granted a medical redshirt. We’ll let him take it from here.

“I get an idea. I go home and I grab a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and I grab a hammer,” Minshew said. “I go in my room and take a pull of Jack Daniel’s, put my hand down on the table and BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. I can tell it’s not broken, so I take a pull and one, two, three do it again. Still nothing. I’m just shaking but I knew it still wasn’t broken. One more time, another three hits was all I could take. I couldn’t break my own hand.”

All Minshew was left with was a swollen hand for a few weeks, which he said he he told his coaches was the result of slamming it in a car door.

In case you were still questioning whether Minshew was anything more than just a fantastic mustache guy, there’s your answer. If he’s willing to pulverize his own fingers for an extra year of college ball, you know he is laying it on the line every week for the Jags.

Tip va Cordog

Bill Belichick admits ‘there are some things we’re looking into’ with Antonio Brown

Bill Belichick

The allegations are piling up against Antonio Brown, and even New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is finding that it is difficult to completely ignore them.

On Friday, Belichick began his press conference by acknowledging that there are off-field issues going on with Brown that the Patriots are taking seriously. As expected, however, he said he would not have any further comment on the situation.

When reporters refused to ask questions about any topic or player other than Brown, Belichick ended the press conference.

Belichick does not often get bothered by media questions, and him saying they were looking into things sounded ominous for Brown.

The Patriots knew of the potential headaches they might have to deal with by signing Brown, but things have really only gotten worse for him since they brought him in. They were supposedly completely blindsided by the sexual assault lawsuit that was filed against Brown last week, and another woman has accused him of sexual misconduct since.

The latest issue involving Brown centers around some text messages that were shared with the public early Friday morning. They allegedly show that Brown was harassing and trying to intimidate the woman who made the most recent sexual misconduct allegation by attacking her credibility in a group text with his associates. The NFL is looking into all of the allegations, and there’s still a very real possibility that Brown could be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list.

SI explains why image of Antonio Brown was darkened for story

Antonio Brown

An image that ran along with the bombshell Sports Illustrated piece detailing numerous allegations against Antonio Brown appeared to show the star wide receiver with darker skin than he actually has, but the publication insists that had nothing to do with race.

On Thursday, Robert Littal of Black Sports Online shared two images of Brown on Twitter. One was the original, and the other was the image used in Robert Klemko’s feature about Brown that was published on Monday. The darker image is the one SI used, and Littal questioned the motive behind that.

Klemko later responded that SI uses the same photo filter for all stories dealing with “deep dives detailing crimes or accusations.”

The fact that Brown’s jersey color is also different in the SI image indicates the intent was not to darken the color of his skin. However, Littal and others still believe the photo filter — not matter when or how it is used — has a problematic underlying message.

Klemko spoke with two dozen people about the numerous issues Brown has had both in his personal and professional life. The piece featured a new sexual misconduct allegation against the seven-time Pro Bowler in addition to accounts from business partners and people Brown has hired in the past who say they never got paid. Klemko also says another person, who wasn’t included in the story, is considering filing criminal charges against Brown.

Wade Phillips has extremely high praise for Baker Mayfield

Wade Phillips is widely considered to be one of the best defensive minds in football, and it is certainly noteworthy when someone who has been coaching in the NFL for over 40 years refers to an opposing quarterback as “worrisome.”

That is how Phillips described Baker Mayfield while speaking with the media about the Los Angeles Rams’ upcoming matchup with the Cleveland Browns. Phillips had extremely high praise for Mayfield and said people don’t appreciate what he has been able to accomplish at such a young age.

“I’m not sure anybody realizes how good this young player is, early in his career,” Phillips said. “There’s been a lot of great ones that haven’t done what he’s done in the first however many games he’s played. … He has tremendous ability and has really done well. I think they expect so much of a first-round pick, but I think he’s played well and continues to play well and is getting better.”

Mayfield has struggled through the first two games this year, as he has just two touchdown passes compared to four interceptions. With more NFL tape to study on him, he’s bound to have a tougher time against some teams this year than he did during his rookie season. He’s also still just 24, so mistakes are to be expected.

Going up against Phillips will be one of the toughest tests Mayfield has this year, and the longtime defensive coordinator clearly isn’t taking it lightly.