|Steve Spagnuolo to be named Giants' DC|
Returns after filling same role from 2007-08
By: Doug Orth | Jan 15 2015, 4:35 pm
|Almost six years to the day after Steve Spagnuolo left the Giants, he was re-hired as their defensive coordinator. Spagnuolo, who served as the Ravens assistant head caoch/secondary coach this past season, interviewed with the Giants on Wednesday. He replaces Perry Fewell, who was fired last week.
The Giants went with Spagnuolo over Bills DL coach (and former Giants linebacker) Pepper Johnson, former Raiders coach Dennis Allen and Redskins DB coach Raheem Morris. (Newark Star-Ledger)|
FFToday's Take: Spags was lauded for his work in shutting down the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, but his zone-heavy schemes have been exposed in stops at St. Louis and New Orleans where his teams didn't feature Hall-of-Fame DE Michael Strahan or a couple of other pass-rushers in their prime like Osi Umenyiora or Justin Tuck. It is an uninspiring hire, especially if the Giants don't upgrade their pass rush in the offseason.
|Bill Callahan joins Redskins as OL coach|
Stripped of play-calling duties in Dallas in 2014
By: Doug Orth | Jan 15 2015, 4:30 pm
|The Washington Redskins have hired former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Bill Callahan, according to league sources. Callahan's title is offensive line coach. He received a lucrative three-year contract, the sources said.
Callahan had offers from teams as both an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach before deciding to join the Redskins.
FFToday's Take: With HC Jay Gruden calling plays in Washington, there is no chance that Callahan will take that role on in his new job this season. What he should do, however, is boost the Redskins' inconsistent ground game. Alfred Morris is locked in as the early-down back while Silas Redd and Chris Thompson will likely vie for passing-down work with Roy Helu almost certain to leave via free agency.
|NFL planning first-ever Veteran Combine|
Will allow free agents to go through Rookie Combine drills
By: Doug Orth | Jan 15 2015, 4:20 pm
|With the emergence of regional combines which allow through-the-cracks rookies to get a chance before NFL scouts, the NFL has now decided to offer veterans the same chance. The league sent out a memo to teams, which outlines their plan for the first Veteran Combine on March 22.
The event will allow veteran free agents to go through the same kinds of drills and testing draft prospects go through in Indianapolis, with representatives of all 32 clubs on hand. (Pro Football Talk)|
FFToday's Take: While the NFL is undoubtedly doing everything it can to infiltrate every part of the calendar year as possible, this is a good idea for fringe players to show off their wares and give personnel departments an idea of how they stack up athletically with the incoming rookie class. About 100 players will be chosen to participate this year and it wouldn't be a surprise if several of them made teams this fall.
| Aaron Rodgers, Lacy limited on Thursday|
McCarthy being cautious with RB
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 15 2015, 12:15 pm
|(On Aaron Rodgers) Participated in the second half of practice. Passed under pressure and did two team periods. Just getting ready to play. (On Eddie Lacy) His knee is sore. I was just being conservative, so I pulled him in the middle of practice. He'll be ready to go. Coach was just nervous. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)|
FFToday's Take: Rodgers was officially listed as limited on Thursday and while he's in no danger of missing this week's game, his mobility is going to be limited. Lacy's knee isn't a great concern at the moment as it sounds like coach was being overly cautious by holding out the Packers starting running back on Thursday.
|Niners to name Jim Tomsula coach|
Vic Fangio not expected to return as DC
By: Jake Gordon | Jan 14 2015, 6:17 pm
|After eight known external interviews, including a second sitdown with one candidate, the San Francisco 49ers are prepared to stay in house. Jim Tomsula, who has been the Niners' defensive line coach since 2007, is set to be promoted to succeed Jim Harbaugh, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
FFToday's Take: When San Francisco was exploring a trade of Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland it was rumored that Jim Tomsula would have been the choice to replace Harbaugh so it isn't completely unexpected to see him get his chance with Harbaugh officially out of the picture. Known as a player friendly coach, Tomsula is not expected to bring back current DC Vic Fangio.
|Raiders sign Del Rio as new coach|
Mike Smith in the mix for new staff
By: Jake Gordon | Jan 14 2015, 6:00 pm
|The Raiders signed Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to a four-year deal to be their new head coach on Wednesday afternoon, league sources said. (SFGate.com)|
FFToday's Take: Two former head coaches, Mike Smith and Marc Trestman, are the front runners to become Del Rio's defensive and offensive coordinators respectively. This suggests that former interim head coach Tony Sparano will not be a part of the team's coaching staff for the upcoming season.
|Cardinals to promote assistant to replace Bowles|
Arizona remains interested in Dick Lebeau
By: Jake Gordon | Jan 14 2015, 5:30 pm
|Cardinals coach Bruce Arians plans to promote a current assistant to replace Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator and would like to hire former Steelers coordinator Dick LeBeau for a senior position on staff, according to NFL sources. It's unknown which assistant will be tabbed to replace Bowles, who was hired as the New York Jets head coach on Tuesday. It's also not a certainty that LeBeau would join the staff, although he and Arians have discussed the possibility.
LeBeau's role would be similar to what assistant head coach Tom Moore does on the offensive side of the ball.
FFToday's Take: Defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, linebackers coach James Bettcher and defensive backs coach Nick Rapone are viewed as the most likely to replace Bowles. None of the aforementioned coaches have experience at the Coordinator level in the NFL. If Dick Lebeau is indeed hired he would likely be tasked with mentoring whichever coach is promoted.
|Peterson's uncertainty could alter Vikings' draft|
Running back remains suspended
By: Jake Gordon | Jan 14 2015, 5:00 pm
|With Adrian Peterson's future still up in the air after the running back's suspension was upheld in December, the Minnesota Vikings might need to consider other options at the position moving forward.
"I think a lot (of the offseason plan) will depend on Adrian's situation, but I also know initially, as I start putting a little bit of the draft stuff together, it's a pretty good running back class this year," general manager Rick Spielman said Wednesday.
FFToday's Take: The Vikings have little choice but look to add quality depth and competition in the backfield with Peterson's status still up in the air for next season. Currently suspended and carrying a $15.9 million price tag for 2015, Peterson could find himself cut by Minnesota if a resolution isn't reached this Spring.
|Jets expected to hire Chan Gailey as OC|
Jets also hire new GM and HC
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 14 2015, 7:00 am
|For his offensive coordinator, Bowles is targeting Chan Gailey, sources said. Gailey has been out of the NFL since 2012, when he was fired as the Buffalo Bills' coach. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: The Jets have completed an overhaul of their top management and coaches by hiring Mike Maccagnan as general manager, former Arizona DC Todd Bowles as head coach and Gailey as offensive coordinator. Gailey's timing offense with heavy doses of the screen game was a good fit for running back C.J. Spiller during the 2012 season in Buffalo. However, before the offense moves an inch, the quarterback position needs to be addressed.
|Cowboys sign HC Jason Garrett to 5-year deal|
$6 million annually
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 13 2015, 5:30 pm
|Jason Garrett’s has agreed to a new five-year deal with the Cowboys, a source said. The contract has yet to be signed, but that will come later this evening or Wednesday morning.
The deal will run through the 2019 season and will average slightly more than $6 million annually, according to the source. (Dallas Morning News)|
FFToday's Take: It's also being reported that Rod Marinelli will receive a three-year deal to remain as defensive coordinator. Garrett has been the head coach since the middle of the 2010 season when he took over for Wade Phillips. Offensive and defensive philosophies should remain intact heading into 2015.
|Broncos, HC John Fox part ways|
Four-year runs ends with a 46-18 record
By: Doug Orth | Jan 12 2015, 6:00 pm
|The Denver Broncos and coach John Fox have mutually agreed to part ways, team sources confirmed to ESPN.com.
The move comes a day after the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs by the Indianapolis Colts, and a year after the team's first appearance in a Super Bowl since John Elway, now the team's general manager, retired as quarterback.
The separation ends Fox's four-year tenure with the Broncos that saw the coach miss part of last season as he recovered from a heart procedure. Fox led Denver to AFC West titles in each of his four seasons as coach. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Jay Glazer was out in front of this yesterday, mentioning that Fox could be coaching for his job against the Colts. Elway's moves in free agency this past offseason suggested the Broncos expect to win a Super Bowl in the next 2-3 years, so the disappointment of coming up short again this weekend was enough for Denver to make the move. Expect OC Adam Gase to be one of the frontrunners for the job in an effort to entice Peyton Manning to return for at least one more year, although Elway might opt to go with someone with head-coaching experience.
| Peyton's been playing with torn quad|
Injury occured Week 13 against San Diego
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 12 2015, 10:03 am
|Peyton Manning initially tore his right quad Dec. 14 in win over Chargers, per sources. MRI back in Denver confirmed tear. (Adam Schefter on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: Manning's statistical decline begin two weeks prior when he threw for 179 yards against Kansas City (Wk 11) and 173 yards against Buffalo (Wk 12). Manning was noncommittal on his future after yesterday's loss to the Colts voicing health and coach concerns as reasons for his hesitation.
| Eddie Lacy slowed by asthma|
Packers RB missed time in 2nd quarter
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 12 2015, 7:00 am
|The only thing that can put Eddie Lacy on pause is the sub-freezing temperature of the Wisconsin outdoors that inflames his lungs.
But while an asthma attack sidelined him for a portion of the second quarter, the Green Bay Packers running back roared back and ended up with 101 yards on 19 carries against the respected Dallas run defense ranked No. 8 in the NFL this season.
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)|
FFToday's Take: James Starks played exclusively on a Packers' drive in the 2nd quarter while Lacy was struggling with his breathing. Lacy returned for a few plays before halftime then carried a normal workload in the 2nd half. He should be fine for Sunday's championship matchup with the Seahawks.
|Bills expected to hire Rex Ryan as head coach|
49ers Greg Roman expected to be OC
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 11 2015, 10:00 am
|The Buffalo Bills are putting the finishing touches on a deal that will make Rex Ryan their next head coach, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The hiring of Ryan would complete an extensive coaching search for the Bills, who have interviewed 12 candidates since Doug Marrone opted out of his contract on Dec. 31. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: ESPN goes on to say that 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman would be Ryan's OC. Roman would likely bring a run-first offense to Buffalo especially considering the Bills may have no other option but to ride out EJ Manuel at quarterback in 2015. Kyle Orton has retired and the Bills do not have a first-round pick in this year's draft.
|Chris Johnson arrested on weapons charge|
Open carrying of weapons/firearms, second degree misdemeanor
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 10 2015, 1:10 pm
|Jets running back Chris Johnson has been arrested in his hometown of Orlando, Florida.
PFT has confirmed a report that Johnson was arrested on Friday for open carrying of a firearm, a second degree misdemeanor. A league source tells PFT that Johnson does have a license to carry in Florida. But this arrest wasn’t just for carrying, it was for open carrying. (Pro Football Talk)|
FFToday's Take: The team is aware of the situation but isn't commenting. Johnson split time with Chris Ivory this past season and signed a 2-year deal prior to last season.
| Edelman, LaFell listed as Probable|
Pats receivers expected to play
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 9 2015, 6:10 pm
|RB Jonas Gray (ankle), QB Tom Brady (ankle); WRs Brandon LaFell (toe)/Julian Edelman (concussion) listed as probable on final injury report. (Mike Reiss on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: LaFell was limited in practice this week but should be in the starting lineup along with Edelman who was also limited this week and hasn't played since suffering a concussion in Week 15. Edelman will be a nice daily league play as it's likley the Patriots will go with a pass-heavy approach against the Ravens who allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs on the season.
| Philly Brown limited Friday, questionable|
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 9 2015, 6:00 pm
|On their final injury report, the Panthers listed wide receiver Philly Brown as questionable for their divisional round game against the Seahawks. Brown was limited in Friday’s work with a shoulder injury. He was hurt in last week’s win over the Cardinals. (ProFootballTalk)|
FFToday's Take: Joe Webb (QB) may be forced into wide receiver duty if Brown is made Inactive on Saturday. Newly signed Stephen Hill may be active as insurance.
| Rodgers has "slight tear" in calf muscle|
Packers QB expects to play Sunday in divisional round
By: Doug Orth | Jan 8 2015, 5:20 pm
|Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' calf muscle has a slight tear in it in addition to being significantly strained, according to league sources.
The injury is not expected to prevent Rodgers from playing in Sunday's divisional round playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, but it could affect how mobile and effective he is.
"There's no question he will play, but there's also no question he will not be 100 percent," said one doctor familiar with the injury. "The question is whether he'll be 95 percent or 50 percent." (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: This should not come as much of a surprise to anyone that has been tracking this story for the last couple of weeks. Rodgers was limited to team drills on Thursday and Green Bay will not practice again until Saturday, making him a very questionable play in playoff leagues or daily-fantasy formats. Rodgers is more than capable of beating a lot of teams solely as a pocket quarterback, but his injury is one that could give out on him at any time, just like it did in Week 17. Matt Flynn is the next man up.
|Browns, OC Kyle Shanahan part ways|
Split reportedly due to disagreement over Manziel
By: Doug Orth | Jan 8 2015, 5:15 pm
|The Cleveland Browns' tradition of change continues, as a team source told ESPN.com Thursday that OC Kyle Shanahan and QBs coach Dowell Loggains will not return next season. Shanahan resigned and Loggains was fired, according to a league source.
Both spent one year with the Browns, and both were under contract for 2015. Sources familiar with the situation said the split was caused because the pair did not see eye to eye with the front office about QB Johnny Manziel. The front office wants Manziel to be the starter, and the source said the coaches do not believe they can win with him. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: Good luck to the Browns finding another offensive mind that did what Shanahan did for their offense in 2014. The Browns were without three Pro Bowlers on offense for large portions of the season: C Alex Mack, TE Jordan Cameron and WR Josh Gordon. Despite that, the Browns scored at least 21 points in nine of the first 11 games. Shanahan's departure figures to have a significant impact on the fantasy values of every Cleveland player, particularly Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West.
|Veteran Unger to return for Seahawks|
Seattle hoping to win line of scrimmage
By: Jake Gordon | Jan 7 2015, 8:30 pm
|RENTON, Wash. (AP) -- Of all the positions on the offensive line, center is the one most needing continuity. And it's been the one most like a revolving door for the Seattle Seahawks this season. Four different players have started at least three games at center this season. But just in time for Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against Carolina, veteran Max Unger is expected to return after missing the final six games of the regular season because of an injury. (AP)|
FFToday's Take: Max Unger's expected return against the Panthers will be a big boost in a game featuring two of the NFL's top rated defenses during the regular season.
|Falcons announce front-office restructuring|
Assistant GM Pioli to see role expand
By: Jake Gordon | Jan 7 2015, 6:58 pm
|With their head-coaching search picking up steam, the Atlanta Falcons are making significant changes upstairs.
The team on Wednesday announced a front-office restructuring that hands more responsibility to assistant general manager Scott Pioli -- and essentially pulls some away from longtime Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff. Dimitroff has kept his job, but the leash is tight.
FFToday's Take: Under the new front office restructuring Thomas Demitroff will see his responsibilities narrowed to those most impacting the on-the-field product. The Falcons have begun second round interviews for the team's head coaching vacancy this week, a post that could ultimately decide Dimitroff's job status beyond 2015.
| Rodgers misses practice Wednesday, calf strain|
Packers QB may practice Thursday
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 7 2015, 5:49 pm
|Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Aaron Rodgers might practice on Thursday, but either way, his quarterback will play on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
The better question might be how Rodgers' strained left calf might limit him in Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field. "I'm going on Sunday," Rodgers said Wednesday. "It's just a matter of how."
FFToday's Take: Hmmm, this doesn't inspire a lot confidence for those wanting to gamble on Rodgers in playoff or daily league formats. Rodgers was limited during the Lions victory after re-injuring his calf back in Week 17. He's going to suit up on Sunday and start unless there is a setback this week but the risk of re-injury will be significant.
| Edelman expected to be ready for Ravens|
Patriots wideout missed last two weeks with concussion
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 7 2015, 12:30 pm
|Wide receiver Julian Edelman said he is ready to put his concussion in the past as he gears his attention toward Saturday's playoff opener against the Ravens. (Boston Herald)|
FFToday's Take: Expect the Patriots to find a way of list Edleman as Questionable later in the week but all signs point to him returning for the Divisional game against the Ravens. Edelman missed Week 16 with a concussion then sat out the meaningless Week 17 game against the Bills. Edelman's return would mean Danny Amendola would once again take a back seat in the receiving rotation.
| Jameis Winston headed to the NFL|
Formal announcement coming Wednesday
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 7 2015, 9:43 am
|Jameis Winston won't be back in a Florida State uniform next season, his father said Wednesday, opting instead to enter the NFL draft. Initially, Antonor Winston said his son planned to wait until after the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T to announce a decision, but instead, Jameis Winston came to a firm decision Tuesday night that he was ready to enter the NFL draft.
Antonor Winston said his son received a first-round grade from the NFL draft advisory committee. (ESPN)|
FFToday's Take: There had been rumblings in recent days that Winston was seriously considering staying in school another year but instead he will head for the NFL Draft in April. Winston and Marcus Mariota should be the top to quarterbacks drafted but both had question marks heading into the NFL. Winston's off-field concerns are real. Tampa Bay and Tennessee have the top two picks in this year's draft.
|Colts staying the course with Herron|
Likely in line for another heavy workload versus Denver
By: Doug Orth | Jan 5 2015, 4:40 pm
|The Colts (plan to) stay the course with Dan Herron in spite of the fumbles, HC Chuck Pagano says. Reducing touches might kill a guy’s confidence. (Stephen Holder on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: Indianapolis knows its other options aren't all that appealing, which is likely the backbone for Pagano arriving at this decision. Most NFL coaches have quick hooks when it comes to backs that have ball-security issues, so another early fumble this week could easily lead to an unexpected workload for Zurlon Tipton. With that said, expect Herron to be a key part of the Colts' game plan against the Broncos coming off his 141-total yard, 10-catch, one-touchdown performance against the Bengals.
|Hill's rookie year comes to disappointng end|
Bengals' RB blames himself for playoff effort
By: Doug Orth | Jan 5 2015, 4:35 pm
|After ending the regular season with three straight games of at least 100 yards rushing, Jeremy Hill was comparatively punchless in the Cincinnati Bengals' wild-card round playoff game at Indianapolis on Sunday. The Bengals did have problems blocking all game as the Colts regularly loaded their defensive front with extra linebackers or defensive backs to minimize Hill's rushing lanes. Only two Bengals were credited with positive run-blocking grades by Pro Football Focus: LT Andrew Whitworth had a plus-0.2 while RG Kevin Zeitler had a plus-1.7.
Hill said the loaded fronts had no affect on his running.
FFToday's Take: In a game that Cincinnati had little choice but to feature its rookie running back (with A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham sidelined), it didn't. Instead of turning to Giovani Bernard as a de facto slot receiver, the Bengals used Rex Burkhead in that spot, opting to play Hill on 21 snaps of their 62 offensive snaps. Hill is too versatile to be treated as an early-down back only, but that is exactly how he was deployed in the team's season-ending loss. It is something to keep in mind when ranking him in fantasy purposes in 2015.
|Cardinals likely to eye RB in free agency|
Had interest in C.J. Spiller before shoulder injury
By: Doug Orth | Jan 5 2015, 4:15 pm
|The Cardinals had interest (in C.J. Spiller) before the trade deadline, (but he) got hurt. They'll likely sign a RB in free agency. (Mike Jurecki on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: News that Arizona might be looking for a running back in the draft or free agency isn't exactly earth-shattering, but it is notable the Cards entertained the possibility of adding Spiller, whose game is quite similar to Andre Ellington's. Either way, keep Arizona in mind for Spiller in the likely event that he hits free agency.
|Wade Phillips to become Redskins' new DC?|
Considered early favorite to replace Jim Haslett
By: Doug Orth | Jan 5 2015, 4:05 pm
|Strong sense within Washington Redskins headquarters that Wade Phillips is well-positioned to be their next defensive coordinator. Has ample support. (Jason La Canfora on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: Haslett was overmatched as a defensive play-caller for most of his time in Washington, so just about any hire figures to be an upgrade. Phillips certainly qualifies as an upgrade and makes sense as a proponent of the 3-4 defense with a long history of sparking quick turnarounds with the defenses he inherits. His chances of landing the job are even stronger considering his ties with former Chargers GM A.J. Smith, who is a senior executive in Washington's front office.
|CFL star Duron Carter setting up visits|
Son of Hall of Fame WR free to sign with any team
By: Doug Orth | Jan 5 2015, 3:55 pm
|A source close to Duron Carter tells me he's working out for Colts (Tuesday), Chiefs Wednesday, Vikings soon after. (Matt Miller on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: Carter, the son of Cris Carter who stands 6-5 and 205 pounds, has also visited with the Bucs. Duron went undrafted out of Ohio State in 2013 due to character concerns, but has largely rehabbed his image up north while amassing 124 catches for 1,939 yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two seasons in the CFL. If he lands in the right situation - Minnesota could certainly qualify as one - Carter could be a factor in redraft leagues in 2015. At the very least, dynasty owners should look to add him ASAP.
|Seahawks 3-0 in recent meetings with Panthers|
All close games, all played in Carolina
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 5 2015, 8:30 am
|The Panthers (8-8-1) will seek to avenge three agonizing losses to Seattle (12-4) by a total of 13 points over the past three years, including a 13-9 defeat in Week 8 this season. All of those games were in Charlotte. This will be the Panthers’ first trip since 2010 to Seattle. (Charlotte Observer)|
FFToday's Take: The Seahawks won by scores of 12-7 (2013) and 16-12 (2012) along with their 13-9 win this season. The Seahawks are currently a 10.5 point favorite. Carolina will have a tough task going on the road and attempting to keep this game from getting out of hand despite their recent close calls with Seattle. Cam Newton and the rest of the Panthers offense will be risky playoff league and DFS plays this week.
|No carries or catches for Trent Richardson |
Colts let Dan Herron carry the load
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 5 2015, 8:00 am
|Shouldering the heaviest load of his career — the Colts sat Trent Richardson for most of Sunday's win with an illness — Dan Herron responded with 141 all-purpose yards, the most from a Colts' running back in three seasons. (Indianapolis Star)|
FFToday's Take: You could see this one coming. Richardson missed practice time earlier in the week due to "illness" and while he was active on Sunday he only saw the field late in the game after Herron fumbled twice. Rookie Zurlon Tipton was the No.2 running back. Richardson is falling out of favor in Indy and can't be trusted in playoff leagues or daily formats.
| A.J. Green doubtful, Gresham questionable|
Missed practice Friday
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 2 2015, 2:35 pm
|The chances A.J. Green plays in this weekend's Wild Card game against Indianapolis took a hit Friday. And now the Bengals wait with hope giving way to reality.
He was listed as doubtful on the official injury report.Green suffered a concussion after being stripped of the football Sunday against Pittsburgh. He did not practice Wednesday, practiced in a limited capacity Thursday, was held completely out of practice this Friday.
FFToday's Take: Bad news for the Benalgs as they will be without their best wide receiver. Mohamed Sanu will attempt to fill the void but expect Cincinnati to attempt a run-heavy gameplan with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. TE Jermaine Gresham (back) did practice Friday and is listed as questionable. He will be a gametime decision.
| Le'Veon Bell out for wild-card game|
Josh Harris expected to start
By: Mike Krueger | Jan 2 2015, 2:30 pm
|Steelers running back and team MVP Le’Veon Bell has been ruled out of Saturday’s AFC wild-card game against the Baltimore Ravens. Bell hyperextended his right knee against the Bengals in the regular-season finale. He did not practice all week. Bell’s replacement is Josh Harris, who has 16 yards on nine carries in his professional career. He was inserted into the Bengals game and had a 59-yard run that was nullified by a holding penalty. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)|
FFToday's Take: It's been the general thinking that Bell would miss this game and now it's official. Harris will get the start for the Steelers with Dri Archer used in a change of pace role. The newly signed Ben Tate is expected to be active but should clearly be the No.3 running back against the Ravens.
| A.J. Green limited in practice on Thursday|
Suffered concussion in Week 17
By: Doug Orth | Jan 1 2015, 4:25 pm
|The status of A.J. Green for Sunday's playoff game remains in question. He's officially still in the league's concussion protocol, which means he cannot return to practice or speak with the media. Green suffered a concussion in Sunday's loss against Pittsburgh and this was his first opportunity to return to the practice field.
For Bengals fans, that means they wait and see. HC Marvin Lewis will have to wait as well. "I don't know," he said when asked whether or not Green would play this weekend. "You'll see on Sunday."
FFToday's Take: Green must have passed a baseline concussion test with team doctors since he participated in warmups and installation on Thursday. He has two days to be cleared by an independent neurologist, but he's a longshot to be overly productive considering the concussion, the matchup (he should run at least half of his snaps in the coverage of top Colts CB Vontae Davis) and the fact that he could once again be a victim of an infamous Andy Dalton playoff meltdown.
|Fitzgerald not expected back w/ Cards in 2015|
Cap number expected to be $23.6 M
By: Doug Orth | Jan 1 2015, 4:10 pm
|Larry Fitzgerald does not expect to be back with the Cardinals next season, a source familiar with the situation told FOX Sports Arizona on Wednesday. That could make Saturday's wild-card playoff game in Charlotte, N.C., the final game of the Valley icon's Arizona career.
Last week, GM Steve Keim confirmed a Pro Football Talk report that the Cardinals had no plans to cut Fitzgerald despite an unworkable $23.6 million cap number next season, which would account for about 17 percent of the projected $141 million salary cap. (Fox Sports Arizona)|
FFToday's Take: Fitzgerald can still get it done at a fairly high level, but there is simply no reason to have one receiver counting that much against the cap for an offense that spreads the wealth as much as Arizona does now under HC Bruce Arians. The odds are very high that Fitzgerald will play his final game as a Cardinal this weekend.
|Doug Marrone leaving Bills|
Coach exercises opt-out clause
By: Jake Gordon | Dec 31 2014, 6:20 pm
|STATEMENT FROM BUFFALO BILLS OWNER TERRY PEGULA:
“Doug Marrone informed me late today that he has decided to exercise the option clause in his contract and relinquish his responsibilities as our head coach."
FFToday's Take: Add the Bills to the list of teams looking for a new coach this offseason. Buffalo is coming off a disappointing year and will also need to figure out what to do at the quarterback position where EJ Manuel has struggled when healthy and Kyle Orton has retired.
|Steelers make it official, sign Ben Tate|
Insurance for Le'Veon Bell
By: Mike Krueger | Dec 30 2014, 1:36 pm
|Steelers now have signed running back Ben Tate to the 53-man roster, the team announced today. (Adam Schefter on Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: The Steelers are using Tate as insurance for Le'Veon Bell who injured his knee in Week 17 and will likely miss the first round of the playoffs. Josh Harris and Dri Archer would likely receive the bulk of the backfield work against the Ravens is Bell is out.
| Steelers looking at Ben Tate|
LeVeon Bell probably unavailable for first round of playoffs
By: Antonio D'Arcangelis | Dec 30 2014, 12:00 pm
|Jason La Canfora posted on Twitter: "Steelers are hosting Ben Tate today as ESPN reported, with LeVeon Bell likely out this week. He is the only RB they're bringing in" (Twitter)|
FFToday's Take: It appears that Bell is doubtful for the tilt with Baltimore in the Wild Card. Tate could make an interesting value in daily fantasy play if he gets up to speed in the offense and Bell remains out.
| Surgery not ruled out for Philip Rivers|
Chargers quarterback will take wait-and-see approach
By: Antonio D'Arcangelis | Dec 30 2014, 11:55 am
|The season ended Sunday. Philip Rivers' stance on injuries didn't.
The Chargers quarterback remained politely protective over the specifics of a back injury that has ailed him the past month. Offseason surgery, he allowed, is considered an option. Whether it is necessary will be determined in the coming weeks.
As for further details, Rivers didn't go there.
He called such talk "self-serving," not wanting health to affect how his play is evaluated.
There were reports this month that he's dealt with a bulging disk in his lower back, reports that Rivers on Monday called "not exactly accurate." He declined to elaborate further.
Rivers made his 144th consecutive start Sunday since becoming the Chargers' starter in 2006. It's the second-longest active streak in the NFL.
"It just does me no good to say on the record what it was," Rivers said. "I was dealing with sore ribs. I was dealing with the back. Exactly what that was, really, who cares? What I mean is I don't see the reason for it.
"It had no effect on my performance, good or bad the last few weeks; it really didn't. The back maybe was a little tougher over the last few weeks, but it wasn't, 'If I didn't have a bad back, I would have made the throw.' That was never the case. … I felt good enough to play."
Rivers had a 71.2 passer rating in four December games.
It was his lowest single-month rating since November 2007 (68.8).
He was without running back Ryan Mathews and wide receiver Keenan Allen the final three games, not to mention running back Danny Woodhead and center Nick Hardwick who were placed on injured reserve early this season. The Chargers started their fifth center of the season Sunday. Rivers was sacked seven times, including six times in a 13-dropback span.
Players voted for team awards. They were presented during a Monday meeting.
Rivers, the MVP, finished the year with 4,286 yards, 31 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. (Union-Tribune San Diego)|
FFToday's Take: Rivers is a stubborn guy who can double down on this "injuries don't affect my performance take" all he likes, but fantasy owners need to remember his poor performance down the stretch when they draft their teams next summer. It's not the first time Rivers has concealed an injury and allowed his play to suffer. There are plenty of fantasy quarterbacks to choose from, folks.
|Vikings' Charles Johnson making strides for 2015|
Bears' Brandon Marshall to Johnson: 'You're a baller'
By: Antonio D'Arcangelis | Dec 30 2014, 11:45 am
|Charles Johnson entered a game last month at Chicago with six career catches. When the game was over, Bears star Brandon Marshall wanted to work out with him this offseason.
Marshall didn't know anything about the Vikings wide receiver prior to a Nov. 16 game at Soldier Field. Then he saw Johnson catch six passes for 87 yards.
"He came up to me after the game and he said, 'Hey man, much respect, you're a baller, you're really good,''' Johnson said of his first encounter with the Chicago wide receiver while Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was nearby. "Teddy was standing there and he said to him, 'Why didn't you tell me about him? Invite him to our (offseason) camp.' Teddy was like, 'We just signed him.' It was pretty cool.''
Johnson was signed off Cleveland's practice squad Sept. 20, and two months later had his breakout game against the Bears. Now, he expects to be working out this offseason not only with Bridgewater, but with Marshall, soon to be recovered from season-ending broken ribs and a lung injury suffered Dec. 4.
Bridgewater and Marshall both train at Fit Speed Athletic Performance in Weston, Fla., just outside Miami. Johnson is looking forward to getting some pointers from a guy who has five NFL 100-catch seasons while having made five Pro Bowls.
"It's great,'' Johnson said. "It was something to see that a guy like him who's established thought that I was good and acknowledged my game. He said that I had some good skills, and I really appreciated the compliment.''
Pardon Marshall if he knew little about Johnson until last month. After being a seventh-round pick out of Division II Grand Valley (Mich.) State by Green Bay in 2013, Johnson was on the Packers' practice squad before getting picked up by the Browns. Then he had knee surgery, ending his season.
Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner held that position last year with Cleveland and Minnesota quarterbacks coach Scott Turner was then the Browns receivers coach. They saw enough of Johnson to recommend he be signed three months ago.
Johnson had his first six career catches over a seven-game span before his big outing against the Bears. After that game, he replaced Cordarrelle Patterson as a starting wide receiver and finished the season with 31 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns.
"We all respect Charles around here,'' Patterson said. "I hope he'll be here for many years.''
Johnson still has two years left on his rookie contract, paying him an economical $510,000 in 2015 and $600,000 in 2016. So he's not going anywhere anytime soon.
"I just go out there each day and just try to work, so you can see my type of talent that I have, and I think coaches can see that,'' Johnson said.
Marshall also has seen it. The two might play for rival NFC North teams, but Johnson relishes any chance he can get to learn from one of the league's top receivers. (Pioneer Press)|
FFToday's Take: It's funny that these two -- who both share the same-spelled names with other NFL players. But it's excellent news that Marshall will be mentoring Johnson, as Marshall is one of the top red zone targets in the league and a guy to emulate for his intelligence and ever-growing emotional awareness. Johnson could be a very exciting player in 2015 and could make a interesting mid-round sleeper pick who provides WR2 value.