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#pounditTuesday, May 11, 2021


Jaycee Horn paying tribute to Kobe Bryant with jersey number

Jaycee Horn

One upside of the new NFL jersey number rules is that players can pay tribute to their heroes in ways they previously couldn’t.

That’s what Carolina Panthers first-round pick Jaycee Horn will be doing. The rookie defensive back revealed on Twitter that he’d be wearing No. 8 in honor of Kobe Bryant.

Horn has been pretty attached to the idea of paying tribute to Bryant. In his introductory press conference, Horn entertained the idea of wearing No. 24, Bryant’s other number with the Lakers.

“It’s a great number, it’s definitely in mind,” Horn said, via Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports. “I’m looking at some of those single digits, too, though. See how it works out. My brother was talking to me about it on the way over here (and) change my mind a little bit. We’ll see how it shakes out.”

It’s a pretty popular move to switch one’s jersey number in honor of Kobe. Horn might not be the last NFL player we see using that as a reason to do something like this.

Could Matt Patricia succeed Bill Belichick as Patriots coach?

Matt Patricia

It’s long been assumed that Bill Belichick’s eventual successor as New England Patriots head coach is being groomed as part of the staff already. The latest speculation, however, centers on a name we haven’t heard before.

Boston Globe NFL writer Ben Volin suggested in an appearance on WEEI’s “The Ken and Curtis Show” that the Patriots may be grooming Patricia as Belichick’s heir apparent. Volin noted that Patricia’s signature has been on every contract the Patriots have agreed to this offseason, suggesting he has taken on many of the responsibilities of former director of player personnel Nick Caserio. Volin thinks this was notable because it suggests Belichick trusts Patricia to handle these contractual responsibilities despite Patricia not really operating in that area before.

“They had to choose one person, and they chose him,” Volin said. “It does seem like they are broadening his skill set, and it makes me wonder if they are setting him up to be the heir apparent to Belichick.”

It wasn’t a huge shock that Patricia rejoined the Patriots’ staff following his ill-fated tenure as head coach of the Lions. However, it’s been clear that Belichick is giving him significant responsibilities quite quickly. The Patriots might also believe that Patricia would have better luck coaching a team that’s already more accustomed to New England’s unique organizational culture.

Of course, there have been other names tossed around as potential successors to Belichick. Patricia’s name seems to be one to watch, though.

JuJu Smith-Schuster reflects on infamous comment that motivated Browns

JuJu Smith-Schuster

The end of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 2020 season was one to forget. The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver seemed to constantly be motivating his opponents whether he intended to or not.

The most notable example of this came before the Steelers’ AFC Wild Card game against the Cleveland Browns. Smith-Schuster infamously dismissed the opponents, stating that “the Browns is the Browns” and shrugging off the threat from them. The comment was seized upon by Browns players and fans, and looked particularly bad for Smith-Schuster after Cleveland’s 48-37 win.

Smith-Schuster reflected on the comment recently, and said while he was aware it motivated the Browns, he didn’t have any regrets.

“Probably a lot, honestly,” Smith-Schuster said on “PFT PM” when asked how much the remark motivated the Browns, via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk. “I’m not going to lie to you. It got to a point where the Cleveland Browns had a billboard up in Cleveland that said, ‘The Browns is the Browns.’ I think by me saying that, it says that a lot of people care about what I say.

“At the end of the day, I said what I said. I don’t take anything back. They did come out there, they did whoop our a–. It is what it is. We lost that game. We lost early in that game in the first five, 10 minutes.”

Credit to Smith-Schuster for owning it, because he’s definitely correct about it being a motivating factor. While he may have no regrets, he may want to be a bit more careful about handing opponents bulletin board material in the future. It went wrong for him a lot in 2020.

NFL reportedly spoke to Bills GM about vaccine comments

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane was quietly admonished by the NFL for comments he made about releasing unvaccinated players.

In a recent appearance on “One Bills Live,” Beane was asked about a hypothetical situation where the team might be just shy of reaching a threshold where enough players have received the COVID-19 vaccine that in-person meetings can resume. Beane said he would be willing to release an unvaccinated player to reach that threshold in order to gain that advantage.

“Yeah. I would. Because it’d be an advantage,” Beane said, via Dan Graziano of ESPN. “We’re laughing, but these meetings [last season] were not as productive as before. You guys saw it in the field house — sometimes we’d have three to four meetings going on, and sometimes you’re talking over each other. But it was the only way to pull it off and be socially distanced. So it would be an advantage to cut a player and fall under that umbrella.”

Unsurprisingly, the league was not happy with Beane’s remarks. According to Graziano, Beane was contacted by the league office and told that a player could not be released solely based on his vaccination status.

It’s no surprise that the NFL would want to quiet any talk like this as much as possible. The league has focused on incentivizing taking the vaccine instead of mandating it. Many NBA players have voiced mixed feelings about taking it, and the same is likely true in the NFL.

Dez Bryant salty about Tim Tebow getting signed by Jags

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant is salty about Tim Tebow getting signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Bryant tweeted on Monday night to express his surprise about Tebow’s deal. He couldn’t believe that Tebow could get signed nine years after last playing in the NFL and said “you got to be kidding me.”

Bryant spent some time out of the NFL after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys. He missed the entire 2018 season due to an Achilles’ tendon injury and declined to play in 2019. Then he signed with the Baltimore Ravens late last season and played in six games for them.

Bryant is currently a free agent and had aspirations in March of signing, but that hasn’t happened. It likely bothers him that Tebow is getting a shot, while he is not.

Bryant then sent a followup tweet where he turned the situation into a matter of race, which has become common for him. He used the Tebow signing as an example for why black people need to stick together.

Look, there is only one coach, only one scenario, under which Tebow possibly could have ended up back in the NFL. His longtime coach and close buddy Urban Meyer would have had to take over a team in order for Tebow to get another shot. That’s what happened.

But None of this means that Tebow will make the team. There are a limited amount of spots on a roster. If Meyer’s top priority is winning, he will not waste a spot on someone who can’t help his team win. So, either Tebow will be good enough to help the team win, or he will be cut. Keep in mind that Tebow is not being signed as a quarterback, but as a tight end, which is a position many thought he should have switched to a long time ago.

Report: Bears could not find partner for Nick Foles trade

Nick Foles

The Chicago Bears have made clear that Justin Fields will get the chance to develop while Andy Dalton holds down the starting quarterback job. There’s a third quarterback on the roster, though, who seems completely frozen out right now.

In a recent appearance on the “Ferrall Coast to Coast” podcast, SiriusXM NFL reporter Adam Caplan noted that the Bears had sought to trade quarterback Nick Foles, but failed to find a taker. The Bears even reached out to Foles’ former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, but they weren’t interested.

“They fully guaranteed his $8 million back in March,” Caplan said. “He’s on the football team. He’s not moving. They tried to trade him to Philly and other teams. Nobody wanted him. He’s still there. He’ll back up Dalton this season.”

That $8 million salary is likely a big reason why there’s no interest in Foles. Anybody who wanted a starting quarterback more or less has one by now, and that salary is very high for a backup. Things may change if there’s a quarterback injury or something like that, but for now, the Bears aren’t going to have any luck with a trade.

Plus, there are doubts about whether Foles is good enough to start for a team with any real ambitions. The 32-year-old former Super Bowl MVP did little for Chicago in 2020, throwing for 1,852 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in nine games.

Back before the Bears signed Dalton and drafted Fields, they were still talking up Foles as a potential starter. Obviously, that’s changed, and now both parties appear stuck with each other.

Tarik Cohen’s twin brother Tyrell found dead after being electrocuted

Tarik Cohen

Tarik Cohen’s twin brother Tyrell was found dead on Sunday, a day after Tarik posted a note on social media seeking help in locating Tyrell.

Tarik said Saturday that Tyrell was last seen at 2 a.m. and was possibly lost in the woods.

ABC 11’s Tim Pulliam reported that a body was found on Sunday at a Duke Energy substation in Wake County, North Carolina. The body was later identified as Tyrell’s.

Tyrell was reported as missing by his girlfriend. Pulliam says authorities believe Tyrell was running away from a car accident when he climbed the substation and died from electrocution.

Tarik deleted his tweet Saturday seeking his missing brother.

The Chicago Bears issued the following statement after learning of Tyrell’s death.

Tarik and Tyrell are fraternal twin brothers. Tarik has played for the Bears since being drafted by them in 2017.

Photo: Thomson200/Wikimedia via CC0

Aaron Rodgers set to make another notable TV guest appearance

Aaron Rodgers Jeopardy

While speculation continues to run rampant about Aaron Rodgers’ NFL future, the Green Bay Packers quarterback keeps adding to his resume in Hollywood.

A new promo released Saturday revealed that Rodgers is set to guest star on an upcoming episode of ABC’s “The Conners.” Even more notably, he’ll be appearing as the host of “Jeopardy!” within the show.

This will only fuel speculation even further. Rodgers has made no secret that he wants to host “Jeopardy!” on a permanent basis after his well-received guest stint in April. It’s also been reported that he will at least be considered for the job.

No permanent host has been announced yet, but the fact that he’s appearing in the role here — presumably with the show’s blessing — may be a hint that he has a real shot at the gig. Of course, it’s also possible that the episode taped during his guest hosting stint, or that the show felt he would be best for ratings.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of Rodgers’ ongoing drama with the Packers. It may leave some wondering where his priorities lie, but it’s clear that he’s keeping busy regardless of where things stand with the team.

Here is why Jaguars are waiting to make Tim Tebow decision

Tim Tebow

The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be flirting with the idea of signing Tim Tebow, but they are not in a rush to make a final decision.

In his weekly column for NBC Sports, Peter King confirmed that there is a chance the Jaguars could sign Tebow as a backup tight end. However, King believes head coach Urban Meyer will want to wait at least another week before making a determination.

“I hear the Jaguars will wait till after this weekend’s rookie mini-camp to assess their roster and maybe see how much they think they can get in the overall blocking/receiving from fifth-round tight end Luke Farrell of Ohio State. (I think they’ll be pleased with him.) But after declining to keep solid vet Tyler Eifert last week, the Jags have a major need at tight end. Which could give Tebow fan Urban Meyer a pretty good reason to bring in Tebow for a shot to be roster insurance,” King wrote.

It does not sound like the Jags will have any competition to sign Tebow. The 33-year-old has not had any known workouts with other teams, and he probably only wants to play for Meyer if he returns to the NFL. He is also beloved by many fans in Jacksonville because of his Florida roots.

Some comments the co-owner of the Jags made last week indicated Meyer is leaning toward signing Tebow. We should have an answer by the end of the month.

Photo: Sports Spectrum/Wikimedia via CC-BY-SA 4.0

Trey Lance admits he was in the dark about 49ers’ draft plans

Trey Lance

Is it possible for an NFL team to keep its draft plans a secret, even from the player they’re drafting? The San Francisco 49ers proved the answer is yes.

The Niners drafted quarterback Trey Lance third overall in the NFL Draft, having apparently been the favored selection of both coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch. While Lance knew the 49ers were interested, he admitted that his guess was it was “50-50” whether he’d be picked once San Francisco went on the clock.

“I honestly did not know,” Lance said Wednesday, via Adam Maya of “I wished all day, and my agent was telling me all day that we should have an idea, or even the week leading up to it, that we should have an idea going into it, and credit to them. They did a great job of (keeping it a secret).”

How did the Niners do it? First, the coach and GM didn’t even compare notes on the pick until the week of the draft. Once they made up their minds, they essentially didn’t tell anyone else within the organization, much less outside of it.

In general, players and their agents at least have an idea of what’s going to happen on draft day. Lance certainly didn’t get the typical experience, but it sounds like he did land where he wanted to.