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#pounditWednesday, November 25, 2020

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John Ross suffered foot injury while playing defense in practice

John Ross

John Ross’ time with the Cincinnati Bengals has not been a happy one, and the latest twist in the story is pretty much typical of his NFL career so far.

Ross will miss Sunday’s game, and potentially beyond, after suffering a foot injury during practice. The catch is how the injury took place, however. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, Ross volunteered to play defensive back in practice with the Bengals down to four healthy cornerbacks. On just his second play on defense, Ross suffered the foot injury.

That’s pretty much typical of Ross’ Bengals career. Unfortunately, he can’t really blame the team for this one. It sounds like he wanted to play on the defensive side of the ball during practice.

Ross has just two catches this season, having dealt with other injuries as well. The former 9th overall pick in 2017 had previously been publicly pushing for a trade, but didn’t get it before the deadline.

Report: Daniel Snyder targeting ex-GM’s wife in legal proceedings

Daniel Snyder

Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder is still taking legal action against the sources of a false sex trafficking report. That effort has led him to a potentially unlikely source.

According to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic, Snyder is accusing Jessica McCloughan, the wife of former Washington GM Scot McCloughan, of aiding in the publication of that false report. Snyder’s attorneys claim to have documentation that Jessica McCloughan spoke with a former team employee at least 44 times around the time of the article’s publication. This, the claim suggests, is evidence that she had advance knowledge of what was to be published. It also states that the team employee she allegedly spoke to was in contact with the Washington Post, sometimes within minutes of speaking to McCloughan.

Snyder is asking to depose Jessica McCloughan, but is not currently suing her or taking further legal action. The Washington owner is not accusing Scot McCloughan of any wrongdoing.

This is an unusual turn in Snyder’s ongoing litigation. Involving McCloughan and his wife in any way is even more interesting considering how ugly the circumstances of his firing were. Jessica McCloughan had this harsh response to the organization then, too.

Bryson DeChambeau catches bad break with lost ball at Masters

Bryson DeChambeau lost ball

The Masters is being held without patrons this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the absence of fans may have cost Bryson DeChambeau a few strokes during the second round on Friday.

DeChambeau hit one of his token massive drives on the 3rd hole and missed the fairway to the left. While the shot was off the mark, it did not look like it would be difficult to locate. Unfortunately, no one ever found it.

“So you’re saying if we can’t find it it’s a lost ball?” DeChambeau could be heard asking the rules official. “How about casual water? I didn’t think you could lose a ball in casual water.”

The rules official explained that DeChambeau would be able to take a free drop if it was known “for 100 percent certain” that the ball landed in a specific area that was considered casual water or ground under repair. Since there was no way to confirm that, DeChambeau was out of luck.

DeChambeau had to go back to the tee to hit what was his third shot. The second drive landed in approximately the same area, but fortunately it was easier to find. He hit a bad shot for his fourth that went over the green and ended up with a triple-bogey seven.

There were heavy rains at Augusta National on Thursday that caused a weather delay, and that left the course wet. DeChambeau’s ball likely plugged in the ground because of the soft conditions. If fans were on the course, someone almost certainly would have seen where the ball landed.

Considering DeChambeau once snapped a driver in anger during a major championship (video here), we’re surprised he handled the bad break so calmly.

Russell Westbrook responds to report about issues with James Harden

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook has reportedly decided he no longer wants to play for the Houston Rockets, and there are rumblings that James Harden has a lot to do with that. Westbrook insists at least part of that is not true.

Westbrook, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Thursday, responded to a report from Stephen A. Smith that claims he and Harden do not want to play with each other anymore. Westbrook wrote on Instagram that the report is “completely fabricated.”

Many were quick to point out that Chris Paul was traded to the to the Oklahoma City Thunder last year not long after reports surfaced that he was butting heads with Harden. Paul denied that there was a rift in an Instagram comment that was very similar to the one Westbrook made on Thursday. You can see what CP3 wrote here.

It’s not just Stephen A. Smith who thinks Westbrook no longer wants to play with Harden. Westbrook supposedly wants a trade so he can go back to having a role like the one he had in Oklahoma City, and he is not going to get that playing alongside Harden. It probably isn’t a coincidence that Harden wants to stay in Houston.

The way Harden wished Westbrook a happy birthday on Thursday also seemed to indicate things are fine between the two superstars.

So what could be happening? Assuming Westbrook and Harden actually do not want to play together anymore, that does not mean the issues between them are personal. They may simply feel that their games don’t mesh, which makes sense considering how ball-dominant they both are.

NBA stars typically get their way when they decide they want a trade. However, trading Westbrook may prove to be difficult for Houston.

Titans’ punting game, special teams a total disaster in loss to Colts

Mike Vrabel

If you want to look at why the Tennessee Titans lost to the Indianapolis Colts 34-17 on Thursday night, look no further than their special teams, and especially their punting game.

The Titans had three straight terrible special teams plays in a row during the third quarter and early fourth quarter of their loss.

Tennessee led 17-13 at halftime and stuffed the Colts at the goal line on the opening possession of the second half. Tennessee’s offense did nothing, so they ended up trying to punt from their 10. Punter Trevor Daniel then had a 17-yard punt. 17 yards. That’s it.

The amazing field position led to a Colts touchdown, giving Indy their first lead of the game.

As if that weren’t enough, it got worse on the Titans’ next possession.

Tennessee’s following punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown to make it 27-17.

And just when you thought Tennessee’s special teams problems couldn’t get worse, Stephen Gostkowski missed a 44-yard field goal. The Titans ended up losing 34-17 and getting shut out 21-0 in the second half.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said after the game that he wasn’t thinking about making a change with his special teams coach. However, he still plans to keep the players accountable.

This isn’t the first time that special teams have cost the Titans this season, and it probably won’t be the last.

Photo: Chipermc/Wikimedia via cc by-sa 4.0

Mike Vrabel had some great trash talk for Philip Rivers

Mike Vrabel

Mike Vrabel and Philip Rivers have been around long enough that they went from facing each other as players to now facing each other as coach and player. In fact, Vrabel remembers a time when he had some great trash talk for Rivers back when they were playing each other.

Vrabel is in his third season as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. His Titans are facing Rivers’ Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night. Ahead of the game between the teams, Vrabel brought up some trash talk he had for Rivers when they were players.

“I might have remembered a young Philip Rivers trying to replace Drew Brees. We were out in Qualcomm Stadium, and I told him to anyone within earshot that he would never be Drew Brees. That I knew it, and he knew it, and everybody else knew it,” Vrabel said in an interview with ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

“We laughed about it, and it looks like both of them had pretty good careers.”

Rivers began his career in 2004 with the San Diego Chargers. He backed up Brees the first two years before San Diego let Brees go as a free agent and moved on to Rivers. Both have gone on to enjoy Hall of Fame careers. But at that time, Vrabel couldn’t resist trying to get inside a young Rivers’ head about it.

Knowing Rivers, he probably had plenty of trash talk in response for Vrabel.

Photo: Chipermc/Wikimedia via cc by-sa 4.0

Report: Hornets are a potential suitor for Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook reportedly wants out of Houston after spending just one season with the Rockets, and the Charlotte Hornets have emerged as a potential suitor for him.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the Hornets have interest in Westbrook and make sense as a landing spot for the All-Star point guard. Charlotte has several veterans on expiring contracts, and it doesn’t hurt that Westbrook has an endorsement deal with the Jordan Brand. Michael Jordan, of course, is the owner of the Hornets.

The Hornets finished 23-42 last season and did not qualify for the playoffs in Orlando. However, they’re the type of team that Westbrook could certainly take over, and it sounds he would prefer a situation like that to the one he is currently a part of in Houston.

Westbrook is owed over $132 million over the next three seasons. Any team that acquires him will need a ton of salary cap space, so that may require some serious maneuvering. Charania believes the Hornets are in a position to pull it off.

Westbrook has reportedly become uneasy about the culture in Houston and wants to join a team where he can have a similar role to the one he had with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That likely has a lot to do with both him and James Harden being ball-dominant players. It isn’t a huge surprise that Harden reportedly wants to remain with the Rockets.

Amy Palcic sends tweet about ‘humiliating’ firing from Texans

The Houston Texans made an extremely unpopular decision on Wednesday to fire vice president of communications Amy Palcic, and Palcic has addressed the move on social media.

Palcic sent a tweet on Thursday thanking people who supported her in the wake of her firing. She referred to Wednesday as “arguably the most humiliating day of my life.”

“On what was arguably the most humiliating day of my life, people showed up — my friends, colleagues, total strangers. PR can often be a thankless job. We live behind the scenes lifting others up. A great reminder that being a good person matters in the long run.
THANK YOU,” Palcic wrote.

It’s still unclear why Palcic, who was the first and only woman to have full PR responsibilities for an NFL team, was fired. The Texans said she was no longer “a cultural fit” with the organization. Numerous members of the NFL media community immediately unloaded on Houston for the decision. You can see some of their reactions here.

Palcic won the Rozelle Award in 2017 for having the best PR staff. She seems to be widely respected, and J.J. Watt made that clear with his show of support for her.

This is why Russell Westbrook wants a trade from Rockets

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook spent one season with the Houston Rockets and already wants out.

The Rockets got rid of coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey this offseason and have brought in Stephen Silas as head coach. But Westbrook may be on his way out.

So why does Westbrook want to be traded?

According to The Athletic’s great breakdown on the subject, Westbrook “has been uneasy about the team’s accountability and culture, and wants to join a team where he can have a role similar to his prior, floor-general role in Oklahoma City.”

Westbrook reportedly attempted to implement some of the same accountability culture in Houston that he built throughout his career in Oklahoma City. He even reportedly had some tense conversations with James Harden about accountability.

FOX 26 in Houston’s Mark Berman put things more simply and says that Westbrook is not happy with the Rockets’ offense.

That reason may be somewhat harder to buy considering the Rockets may want to change their offensive system following the departures of D’Antoni and Morey. But it could also point to Westbrook’s discontent with playing in an offense dominated by Harden.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the same day we learned Westbrook wants out, it was also reported that Harden wants to stay. The two are ball-dominant guards. We know how much Westbrook likes leading a team, and it sounds like that is what he wants to return to.

Westbrook is owed over $132 million over the next three seasons. Whoever takes him on will also be adding quite a hefty salary.

Russell Westbrook reportedly wants out of Houston

Russell Westbrook

The Houston Rockets are undergoing a full makeover, and Russell Westbrook reportedly does not want to be part of it.

The Rockets got rid of Mike D’Antoni as their head coach and let general manager Daryl Morey go. Now the team’s future is in question in terms of personnel.

Westbrook wants out of Houston, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Wednesday.

The report comes the same day that another report said both Westbrook and James Harden were concerned about the team’s future.

Westbrook, 31, spent his entire career with Oklahoma City prior to last season. He was traded to the Rockets last year and reunited with Harden. The Rockets lost in the second round of the playoffs to the eventual-champion Lakers.

Westbrook is owed over $132 million over the next three seasons, which might make it challenging to find a trade partner.