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#pounditSunday, September 26, 2021

Football

Tony Dungy calls out NFL over new playoff schedule

Tony Dungy

The NFL announced a significant change to its playoff schedule on Friday, and Tony Dungy is among those who believe it could become an issue.

With the playoffs having been expanded by one wild card team in each conference last year, the 2021 postseason will now feature a Monday night game. Of course, that means the winner of the game will be guaranteed to have to play a road game on short rest in the Divisional Round. Dungy said the NFL has always tried to avoid that scenario even in the regular season. He criticized the NFL for introducing it in the playoffs now.

Obviously, a Monday night game will draw better ratings than a Saturday game. NFL fans are used to having a game on Monday night, so the schedule change won’t be an issue for them. It will, however, put the winning team at a disadvantage over teams that play on Saturday and Sunday.

Dungy certainly is not the only one from the NFL world who expressed concern about the schedule change.

Kliff Kingsbury has funny response to Urban Meyer’s quote about NFL

Kliff Kingsbury

Urban Meyer probably didn’t expect sympathy as he transitioned from the college game to the NFL. He’s definitely not getting it from Kliff Kingsbury.

According to Broncos coach Vic Fangio, Meyer recently compared coaching in the NFL to facing Alabama every week. Kingsbury also came from the college ranks, coaching at Texas Tech before making the jump to the Arizona Cardinals. If anything, he seems to think Meyer undersold it.

Meyer coached at traditional powerhouses like Florida and Ohio State in college. Kingsbury didn’t, so he’s not exactly moved by Meyer’s transition.

Kingsbury has a pretty good sense of humor. This is a pretty quality response, though we’re guessing it’s not actually meant to be mean.

Josh Gordon once again reinstated by NFL

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon has squandered multiple chances to revive his once promising NFL career, but the veteran wide receiver will now have another.

Gordon has been informed by the NFL that he has been reinstated, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Gordon was with the Seattle Seahawks last year and looked like he was going to be eligible to play toward the end of the season, but he had another setback in his ongoing battle with substance abuse. He then had his conditional reinstatement rescinded and was suspended again.

The NFL Players Association recently recommended to the NFL that Gordon be reinstated after the 30-year-old completed his treatment program. Gordon had been subject to drug tests for the last several months, and he reportedly passed all of them.

The odds are obviously stacked against Gordon. He has had numerous chances to prove he can stay clean, and it always ends the same way. He joined another league earlier this year and made his impact felt with plays like this, but it’s unclear if any NFL teams will give him a chance.

Photo: CLSN Media via CC-BY-SA 4.0

Bill Belichick has funny take on reunion with Julian Edelman

Bill Belichick

Julian Edelman will be honored at halftime of the New England Patriots’ game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and Bill Belichick says he is looking forward to seeing the retired wide receiver. Unless, of course, Edelman plans on trolling his former coach.

Belichick was asked on Friday about Edelman’s upcoming ceremony. He treated us to a rare lighthearted response.

Edelman has always loved needling Belichick. He’s been known to bust out an impersonation of the future Hall of Fame coach. He also recently provided a glimpse into what playing for Belichick was like.

It’s obvious that Edelman and Belichick have maintained a close relationship. There aren’t many current or former players who openly have that type of dynamic with The Hoodie.

Here is how long Christian McCaffrey will miss with hamstring injury

Christian McCaffrey hamstring

Christian McCaffrey left Thursday night’s game against the Houston Texans with a hamstring injury, and we now have a better idea of how long the Carolina Panthers star might be out.

Ian Rapoport of NFL media reports that McCaffrey is expected to miss “a few weeks.” While McCaffrey will undergo more tests, there may be one positive sign for Panthers fans — he is not expected to go on injured reserve.

You can see the play where McCaffrey injured his hamstring here.

If the Panthers do place McCaffrey on IR, he would be required to sit out at least three games. The fact that they have not committed to doing that is an indication that they believe he could return sooner.

Rookie Chuba Hubbard is expected to get the bulk of the carries and backfield work for the Panthers while McCaffrey is out. The former Oklahoma State star had 52 yards rushing on 11 attempts in Thursday’s win over the Texans. He added 27 receiving yards on three catches.

Odell Beckham Jr to make season debut against Bears

Odell Beckham Jr

Odell Beckham Jr. sat out the first two weeks of the season as he continued to recover from knee surgery, but the Cleveland Browns star is set to make his 2021 debut.

Beckham was not listed on the Browns’ injury report on Friday, which means he will play against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Jarvis Landry was placed on injured reserve this week due to a knee injury of his own, so Beckham’s return is timely.

Beckham appeared in just seven games last year before suffering a torn ACL. He caught 23 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns.

Landry offered a promising take on Beckham’s recovery during the offseason.

Photo: Erik Drost/Flickr via CC-BY 2.0

Carson Wentz could start Sunday despite ankle injuries?

Carson Wentz Colts

Carson Wentz injured both of his ankles in the Indianapolis Colts’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week, and it has been widely assumed that he will miss at least one game. Perhaps that will not be the case.

Wentz was a surprise participant in practice on Friday, which puts him on track to play in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Wentz had not practiced this week prior to that, which is why the development was unexpected. The Colts gave Brett Hundley the majority of first-team reps in practice on Thursday, which many took as an indication that he could start in Week 3 over primary backup Jacob Eason.

One of the things that has held Wentz back throughout his career is his inability to stay on the field. A Philadelphia Eagles executive alluded to that with his harsh assessment of Wentz’s time with the team recently. Perhaps Wentz is prepared to play hurt to shake that reputation.

Twitter reacts to big NFL playoff schedule change

Roger Goodell

The NFL has officially announced that Monday night football is coming to the playoffs, and the news drew mixed reactions from fans and the media.

The NFL expanded the playoffs last season by adding a wild card team to each conference. There were three Wild Card Weekend games held on Saturday and three on Sunday. Beginning in 2021, however, there will be two games on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday night.

There were a variety of responses to the big change on Twitter:

A lot of concerns were raised over teams having to play on short rest. That already happens with some games on Sundays and some on Saturdays, but the Monday night game now guarantees a short week for the winner. The NFL will likely avoid making it even shorter by assuring that the two teams that meet on Monday night will play the following Sunday.

Obviously, the NFL made the change with ratings in mind. NFL fans are already accustomed to games on Monday nights, and there is little doubt the Monday night playoff game will draw better ratings than it would have on Saturday. As with any change, however, there is sure to be plenty of opposition.

Stephen A. Smith has message for Steelers

Stephen A. Smith

Ben Roethlisberger is banged up heading into Week 3, and Stephen A. Smith believes there is an obvious insurance policy sitting out there for the Pittsburgh Steelers that they have yet to capitalize on.

During Thursday’s edition of ESPN’s “First Take,” Smith said he is baffled that the Steelers have not yet reached out to Cam Newton.

“He can run with the football. Granted, he’s not as mobile as he used to be, but he’s considerably more mobile than Ben Roethlisberger and he’s younger,” Smith said. “So the combination of those two, with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins as your options, why hasn’t Cam been called already? That’s how I’m looking at it.”

Newton remains a free agent after he was released by the New England Patriots prior to Week 1. As Smith mentioned, the Steelers already have Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins on their roster. Haskins was said to have impressed the team during training camp, but head coach Mike Tomlin had a harsh assessment of him after the final preseason game.

Roethlisberger has played through numerous injuries during his career, and he will likely try to do the same with his pectoral muscle injury.

Newton may not even want to sign with the Steelers if Roethlisberger is going to play. Unless he has an opportunity to start, Newton doesn’t have much financial incentive to play this season.

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.