Ravens Cut Five Players Ahead Of Deadline

The process of trimming the roster down to 53 players by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline has already begun.
The cuts have begun.

29_RosterCuts_newsThe Ravens have started to trim the roster from 75 players to get down to the 53-man squad before Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline. The team waived five players Friday in the first round of cuts.

The five players cut were tight end Nathan Overbay, outside linebacker D.J. Roberts, center Reggie Stephens and defensive tackles Levi Brown and Derrick Hopkins.

All five players were considered long shots to make the active roster because they were competing for jobs at some of the deeper positions on the team.

Overbay and Stephens are both veterans who signed with the Ravens after bouncing around other teams’ practice squads in previous years. Stephens was on Baltimore’s practice squad last year and Overbay was with Houston. Both players have used up their practice squad eligibility.

Roberts, Hopkins and Brown were all undrafted free agents who signed with the Ravens in May.

Roberts played his college career at Tennessee-Martin and saw limited reps in the preseason as he competed with a talented group of outside linebackers that includes Pro Bowlers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Brown and Hopkins also saw limited work in the preseason, as they were behind Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams and fellow rookie Timmy Jernigan on the depth chart.

Roberts, Hopkins and Brown are all eligible for the practice squad if they clear waivers and the Ravens wanted to offer them spots.

The five cuts get the Ravens to a 70-person roster. Other expected moves are to put running back Ray Rice and safety Will Hill on the suspension list, which does not count against a team’s 53-man squad. Defensive tackle Terrence Cody could also be placed on the physically unable to perform list, which would make him ineligible for the first six games, but he wouldn’t count against the roster numbers.

Seahawks outplayed by Raiders in preseason finale

After Russell Wilson led an 80-yard touchdown drive on the game’s first series, the rest of the evening belonged to the Raiders as they handed the Seahawks a 41-31 loss in their preseason finale Thursday night.
OAKLAND – A mistake-marred, penalty-filled, 10-point loss to the Oakland Raiders was not what Pete Carroll was looking for from his team in its preseason finale, but the Seahawks’ fifth-year coach did see some things he liked.

And it started with quarterback Russell Wilson and the starting offense, which was efficient and explosive in scoring on an 80-yard touchdown on the game’s opening series before giving way to the backups at O.co Coliseum on Thursday night.

“We’ve moved ahead,” Carroll said. “We’re better than we were in the past. And I think it’s the growth of the quarterback and his connection with all his guys.”

After that opening series, however, rookie quarterback Derek Carr passed for three touchdowns in staking the Raiders to a 28-7 lead in a game they eventually won 41-31.

The loss dropped the Seahawks’ preseason record to 2-2, the same as in 2011 before they went 4-0 the past two summers.

But Carroll is a glass-half-full kind of coach, and that Wilson-led opening drive was overflowing with praise-worthy efforts that capped a strong preseason for the offense that will finally play an entire game in the Sept. 4 regular-season opener against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field.

“All in all, I think we’re ready to go,” Carroll said.

Even if it didn’t look that way as the Seahawks were penalized 12 times for 95 yards, fumbled a kickoff return to setup one of the Raiders’ touchdowns and allowed Carr to complete 11 of 13 passes for 143 yards and the three TDs.

The saving grace? Another impressive – if short – stint by the Wilson-led offense. He was 3 of 3 on the four-play drive, including a 25-yard TD pass to second-year tight end Luke Wilson.

“I thought we played really well when the first unit was in there on offense,” Carroll said. “When I look back at this preseason, the thing that jumps out at me is what our offense was able to do when the first group was in there.”

140828game600The Wilson-led offense scored on each of its five first-half possessions against the Chicago Bears last week and its first four possessions against the San Diego Chargers the week before that.

“Russell had a phenomenal preseason statistically just in every way,” Carroll said.

So the first drive against the Raiders was a case of picking up where he had left off.

After that silver lining, however, it was pretty much a silver-and-black evening.

“We had a terrible time tonight,” Carroll said. “This game is not indicative, I hope, of how we’re going to play.”

Another positive was getting extra play time for left tackle Russell Okung, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, outside linebacker Malcolm Smith and strong safety Kam Chancellor, who had missed time during the preseason because of injuries or while recovering from offseason surgery.

“That worked out well,” Carroll said.

After the first unit offense was done, backup QBs Terrelle Pryor and B.J. Daniels also passed for touchdowns – Pryor’s 33-yarder to Phil Bates in the second quarter and Daniels’ 7-yarder to Bryan Walters in the fourth quarter.

The Seahawks also got a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown by DeShawn Shead off a pass that was tipped by Phillip Adams.

But it wasn’t enough on this night, against this opponent.

The Raiders passed for 248 yards and four TDs, and ran for another 124 yards and another score. They converted seven of 13 third-down situations.

“I thought the Raiders played great tonight,” Carroll said. “They tore us up in every way. They did everything well. They just took it to us.”

Share Print Email RSS Giants announce roster cuts; 75-man roster set

The Giants have announced transactions to reduce the team roster to 75

Victor CruzEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today made 15 transactions to reach the NFL roster limit of 75 players in advance of the 4 p.m. deadline.

Two players were placed on injured reserve: safety Cooper Taylor, who injured the sesamoid bone in his left foot in Indianapolis on Aug. 16, and wide receiver Marcus Harris, who has a hip injury.

Two players were waived/injured: linebacker Justin Anderson (hamstring) and defensive end Emmanuel Dieke (knee).

Eleven players were waived: cornerbacks Charles James and Ross Weaver; safeties C.J. Barnett and Kyle Sebetic; linebacker Spencer Adkins; wide receiver Travis Harvey; tight ends Xavier Grimble and Jerome Cunningham; guard John Sullen; defensive tackle Everett Dawkins; and kicker Brandon McManus.

>> VIEW UPDATED 75-MAN TEAM ROSTER

Taylor and James were the only players among the 15 who played for the 2013 Giants. Adkins and Dawkins were the only other players with NFL regular-season experience.

With McManus’ departure, 12-year veteran Josh Brown will be the Giants’ placekicker for a second season.

The Giants will play their fifth and final postseason game Thursday night at home against the New England Patriots. All NFL teams must reduce their rosters to the regular-season maximum of 53 players by 4 p.m. Saturday.

Taylor was the Giants’ fifth-round draft choice in 2013. As a rookie, he played in 10 games, had four special teams tackles and scored a touchdown on 21-yard return of a blocked punt vs. Oakland. This month, Taylor saw extensive action at safety in the Giants’ first three preseason games and had 15 tackles (11 solo) and an end zone interception against Buffalo in the Hall of Fame Game. He is expected to undergo surgery on his foot.
>> VIEW UPDATED UNOFFICIAL DEPTH CHART
Harris was signed by the Giants on Aug. 12, 2013 and spent most of last season on the team’s practice squad. He had previously been in training camp with the Detroit Lions (2011) and Tennessee Titans (2012). Harris’ nine receptions (for 92 yards) tie him with Corey Washington for the team-lead this summer. Harris will undergo surgery to repair the labrum in his hip.

Grimble was signed as a rookie free agent from Southern California on May 16. He returned to the field this week after missing almost all of training camp – and the first four preseason games – with a hamstring injury.

Anderson was signed by the Giants on May 12. In four preseason games, he had three defensive tackles (two solo) and a forced fumble and two assisted tackles on special teams.

Adkins played in 24 games for the Atlanta Falcons from 2009-11. He was waived at the end of training camp by the Falcons in 2012 and the Baltimore Ravens last year and did not play in either season. The Giants signed him on Jan. 7. Adkins helped fuel the Giants’ comeback victory in Indianapolis by recovering a fumble in the end zone for their second touchdown. He also had seven tackles (five solo).

Dieke was signed as a rookie free agent on May 13. He assisted on one tackle while playing in all four preseason games.

James was an undrafted rookie when he signed with the Giants on May 10, 2013. He was waived at the end of training camp, signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1 and to the active roster on Oct. 5. James played in 12 games and had seven special teams tackles. This month, he played cornerback and had six tackles (five solo) and a pass defensed.

Packers’ no-huddle slows down for no one

New center or not, Aaron Rodgers to keep up the tempo.

140825-rodgers-300GREEN BAY—A new center will not slow down the Packers’ up-tempo, no-huddle offense.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said as much on Monday, his second day taking snaps from rookie Corey Linsley, who has taken over for the injured JC Tretter.

Rodgers’ confidence in maintaining the offensive pace stems in part from the basis for the smooth transition initially with Tretter – that Linsley will be playing between two veteran guards in Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, and snapping to a quarterback in his 10th NFL season.

“He’s going to be expected to play at a fast tempo and he’s got sideboards on both sides who know exactly what they’re doing and what everyone is doing up front,” Rodgers said. “Josh and T.J. are going to be very important to Corey, playing as fast as possible, but we have a lot of trust in Corey. He’s played center his entire career.”

Linsley also ran the no-huddle at Ohio State, so he considers keeping pace the least of his and Rodgers’ worries. Rodgers also doesn’t feel it’s necessary to get preseason game snaps with Linsley on Thursday against Kansas City, an indication Rodgers and most of the offensive starters will sit out the preseason finale, as has become somewhat customary.

Linsley got a lot of work on Monday and likely will play, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy dismissed the notion of playing the entire starting unit against the Chiefs just for Linsley’s benefit.

“The mental part of it, we’ll be able to sharpen his blade there,” McCarthy said. “But to go out there and totally overdo reps because you’ve got one player that’s going to start, I’m not going to do that. Because if I have to do that, he’s not the right guy. Corey will be ready to play.”
Monday’s practice was the last full-pads workout of training camp. It featured Rodgers throwing an array of touchdown passes running the scout team with his fellow offensive starters.

Other highlights included rookie fourth-round draft pick and outside linebacker Carl Bradford dabbling some at inside linebacker with the reserve units. Also, defensive lineman Letroy Guion practiced for the first time following a pre-camp hamstring injury.

The timing of Guion’s return couldn’t have been better, given B.J. Raji’s bicep injury and pending surgery. McCarthy said Guion looked “explosive” on his first day, taking limited but “quality” reps. Guion said he wasn’t sure if he’d be cleared to play in Thursday’s game, but either way, he feels he can prepare himself quickly for the regular season.

“He’s ready to go,” fellow defensive lineman Mike Daniels said. “He’s ready to go, and I’m excited for him.”

Thursday’s game will be mostly about final roster evaluations, with the cutdown to 53 players due on Saturday. Decisions at wide receiver and tight end will attract plenty of attention, and Rodgers spoke of several young players at those positions needing to “catch up” quickly if they’re to be counted on in September.

“We’re into the last preseason game, we’re less than two weeks from the opener, and things pick up after this final game, after the cutdown, and guys will feel it,” Rodgers said. “It’s a call to those guys to start stepping up their play, because it’s going to start mattering here really quick.”

Jeff Fisher Looks for Shaun Hill to Guide Rams

Head coach Jeff Fisher held his weekly press conference to wrap up the third preseason game in Cleveland, a 33-14 win. Though news the team lost Sam Bradford for the season was largely the focus, there was plenty of other news to come out Sunday evening.

St. Louis Rams v Cleveland Browns– Fisher said that three of the five to depart Saturday’s game due to injury could be back very soon.

“Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, and Rodger Saffold can potentially play this Thursday night at the preseason game in Miami,” Fisher said.

– Also, all things considered, the Rams got good news on cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

“We’ll miss Trumaine anywhere from four to six weeks with an MCL sprain,” Fisher said. He added that one from the trio of Brandon McGee, E.J. Gaines, and Lamarcus Joyner will likely take Johnson’s spot in the starting lineup.

“We’ll be OK there until Tru comes back,” Fisher said.

– As for two lineup changes on the offensive side for Saturday’s game, Fisher said there was not much to them. According to the head coach, Benny Cunningham started at running back just to get some time behind the first-team offensive line, and Rodger Saffold started at left guard for largely the same reason. Davin Joseph’s emergence at right guard presented an opportunity to play Saffold over on the left. Neither playing-time decision was a knock on running back Zac Stacy or rookie offensive lineman Greg Robinson.

“We knew that Greg was going to play both positions, so we got Rodger in there early,” Fisher said. “Greg played pretty well. Again, he got plenty of snaps. He’s improving. He’s going to be a really good player for us.”

– The Rams also had plenty of success defensively Saturday night, surrendering only 32 yards on the ground and 146 yards through the air.

“We did everything that we wanted to do defensively,” Fisher said. “We played with tremendous effort, tackled well, didn’t give up many explosive plays, got off the field on third down.”

– Quarterback Austin Davis had himself a solid game against the Browns, completing 14 of his 22 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Fisher said that Davis understands the offensive system well enough that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can freely call the playbook.

“He gets it and he ran around and made plays,” Fisher said of Davis. “He’d like to have a couple throws back, but he moved the ball around really well. He’s had a good camp so far, so obviously Austin would step up to the two spot right now if it were the start of the regular season.”

– Fisher said that rookie defensive end Michael Sam has been showing he can make plays in the league.

“Because of the flow of the game, we played guys a little bit longer, so [we] didn’t give him as many reps as we’d like,” Fisher said. “But we’ll get him probably good playing time this week.”

– Finally, also on the injury front, Fisher said that linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and defensive lineman William Hayes both have a chance to play this week in Miami.

Saccomano: Talking Texas Hall of Famers

Jim Saccomano takes readers on a trip into football’s history in Texas, where Doak Walker is amongst the best to ever play.
Walker Lions FootballENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With the Denver Broncos playing our last two preseason games vs. Texas teams, first Houston and then closing out at Dallas Thursday night, it got me to thinking about all the Pro Football Hall of Famers from the Lone Star state.

Texas has given birth to 23 members of the Hall of Fame, the fourth highest total among states. California, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the first three on that list.

I had a chance to sit down and visit before practice with two of the NFL’s greatest referees of all-time, Red Cashion and Jim Tunney, and I read the list to them.

I asked who they thought the greatest of the greats were, and Red said, “Yes.” That’s all. He and Jim agreed it was impossible to choose, with the criteria becoming so subjective as the merits of each is discussed.

The 23 native Texans in the Hall are (no explanations of positions given by me, as I suspect that mostly great pro football fans are reading this):

Sammy Baugh, Sweetwater

Raymond Berry, Paris

Earl Campbell, Tyler

Eric Dickerson, Sealy

Darrell Green, Houston

Joe Greene, Fort Worth

Forrest Gregg, Sulphur Springs

Ken Houston, Fort Worth

Tom Landry, Mission

Dick (Night Train) Lane, Austin

Yale Lary, Fort Worth

Bobby Layne, Dallas

Bob Lilly, Throckmorton

Don Maynard, Colorado City

John Randle, Hearne

Mike Singletary, Houston

Charley Taylor, Grand Prairie

Emmitt Thomas, Angleton

Thurman Thomas, Sugar Land

Y.A. Tittle, Marshall

Clyde (Bulldog) Turner, Sweetwater

Gene Upshaw, Robstown

Doak Walker, Dallas

When two guys the likes of Red and Jim cannot separate the greatest, that is quite a list.

But they did talk about two guys in particular: Baugh, the first alphabetically, and Walker, the last alphabetically.

“Sammy Baugh pretty much invented the modern passing game,” Red said, with Jim Tunney adding that “he set the first great records and also was a tremendous safety and punter.”

Doak Walker, of course, is revered as just this side of magic.

“I can remember that he stayed at our house for some reason when he made his recruiting visit to Texas A&M,” Red said, “and he seemed so small. But he was one of the greatest players who ever lived.”

Jim Tunney added that “Walker played at Highland Park High School in Dallas as the halfback with Bobby Layne at quarterback. Can you imagine what kind of backfield that high school had!”

Walker was one of just two consensus three-time All-Americans at halfback in college history (that is, he made first team on every All-American team selected by every organization during his college career).

Doak was an assistant in coaching and player personnel for the Denver Broncos in 1966, and one of his tasks was to scout the only other consensus three-time All-American halfback—he scouted and recommended Floyd Little, and of course, in the annals of Hall of Fame players and great Broncos, the rest is history.

Both Red and Jim have spent a week in Denver, watching practice and more or less mentoring young officials who have worked the Broncos-Texans practice, and both men were in awe of the Hall of Famers from Texas.

One could make a case for anyone on that list as the best, but I thought the electric Walker was worthy of special citation, especially considering his Bronco/Floyd Little ties.

Award-winning Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly said of Walker shortly before Doak’s death:” . . . He was as golden as golden gets. He had . . . A jaw as square as a deck of cards and a mop of brown hair that made girls bite their necklaces. He was so shifty you could not tackle him in a phone booth, yet so humble that he wrote the Associates Press a thank you note for naming him All-American. . . . “

Doak, who made Steamboat Springs his retirement home, appeared on 47 magazine covers while at SMU, including Life, Look and Collier’s.

He won the Heisman Trophy in 1948 and for years allowed a now-defunct Denver restaurant, Emerson Street East, to display it in the lobby.

His impact on SMU football and football in the Dallas area led to the Cotton Bowl being referred to as “The House that Doak Built.”

Jim Tunney added that for years John David Crow, the great running back, would come out to Doak’s Colorado golf tournament and visit with Walker and his wife, Skeeter. Crow, himself a Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M, was about as tough a back as any state ever produced, but he was a Louisiana native—another direction, another column.

That is a great list of some of the most significant players in the entire annals of football, and it was a pleasure to casually chat about those guys with two of the greatest referees in pro football history.

Thanks to Red Cashion and Jim Tunney for sharing some moments, and happy trails to both until next time.

Browns-Rams: What To Watch For

Brian Hoyer vs. The Rams’ secondary

082314_WTWF_576The Browns’ offensive performances in the first two games has been unacceptable, particularly the passing game. Now that Hoyer officially has the keys to the operation, he’ll be the first to admit things need to improve, and quickly at that.

So far in the preseason, Hoyer is a combined 8-for-20, for 108 passing yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The bigger concern is that the offense is 0-for-7 on third-down when the veteran signal-caller is on the field. Even if the Browns have to reveal some more of their playbook, it’s imperative for the team to show some significant progress.

But because it’s football in August, statistics are quite skewed. Hoyer has been sharing his duties with Johnny Manziel, arguably making it harder to establish stability. Mike Pettine said he’s not worried about box scores in the preseason.

“I think I don’t get wrapped up in the numbers there,” said Pettine. “I think [Hoyer’s] had some drops that you could factor in, some routes that were run at the wrong depth, at the wrong angle. It’s easy to look at the numbers. I think when you look at the tape, it tells a very different picture.”

To the naked eye, accuracy has been Hoyer’s issue through the first two preseason games. He missed Andrew Hawkins in the end zone against the Redskins – although Hawkins probably could have made the catch. NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala asked Hoyer why throwing on target hasn’t been that big of an issue in training camp.

“Well, out in Berea doesn’t count,” said Hoyer. “Obviously, there’s disappointment with not hitting some of those guys in the games, but I think it’s something that we’re continuing to work on. We get some extra routes. You’ve just got to do it at game speed, and it’ll come. I truly believe that as long as you’re working at it.”

If you could pinpoint a weakness on the St. Louis roster, it would be their secondary. Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson aren’t exactly known as lockdown defenders. The young pair of corners are athletic and have potential, but they’ll bite on play fakes and have been prone to give up big plays.

Look for Hoyer to establish a rhythm early with Jordan Cameron. The Pro Bowl tight end should be used as a security blanket until the kinks of the new offense are all worked out. Whether it’s methodically moving the chains, or even taking more chances for a deep completion, the Browns need results on Saturday.
Browns offensive line vs. Rams defensive line

From top to bottom, does any team in the NFL have a better defensive line than the St. Louis Rams?

Defensive end Robert Quinn finished 2013 with 19 sacks, staking his claim as possibly the most elite pass rusher in the NFC. At the other defensive end, not many players can match the consistent energy Chris Long brings every week – seven forced fumbles and 50.5 sacks in six seasons. In the middle, Michael Brockers (6-foot-5, 326 pounds) and Kendall Langford (6-foot-6, 313 pounds) are immovable tanks, who do more than just disrupt the running game. They wear down offensive linemen.

What better test for the Browns’ offensive line than this? NFL expert Mike Mayock told ClevelandBrowns.com in June he thinks Cleveland’s big boys up front can be one of the NFL’s best groups. ProFootballFocus.com has Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio and Alex Mack as the three highest rated Browns offensive players in the preseason. The Browns need to use this strength accordingly.

After dominating the Lion’s defensive line in week one of the preseason, the Browns’ offensive line took a step back in Washington.

Keeping Hoyer safe in the backfield from St. Louis’ ferocious pass rush is the first priority. But secondly, Cleveland will look to show off their zone running game. The offenses success will be predicated first and foremost by having Ben Tate churn out tough yardage. It will be rough against this Rams unit, but a good measuring stick before Week One.

Buccaneer Quotes: August 20

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed highly-coveted pass-rusher Michael Johnson in free agency in March, they moved Johnson into the starting right defensive end position and moved incumbent Adrian Clayborn out. But the Buccaneers didn’t move Clayborn out of the starting lineup; rather, they put him first in line at left defensive end. They hope the results will be improved pressure from both edges of their defensive front, which hasn’t produced sacks at the desired frequency for quite a few seasons.

Clayborn08_20_14_1_aIt’s not surprising, of course, that the Buccaneers want to keep Clayborn involved, given the promise he has shown with 7.5- and 5.5-sack seasons in 2011 and 2013, respectively. The effort the former Iowa star puts forth in practice and in games has never been questioned, so if there is a way for Clayborn to excel in a new role, he’ll figure it out.

“It’s a tough transition to make, but he has just a nonstop motor and it seems like wherever we put him, he finds a way to be successful at that position,” said Head Coach Lovie Smith, who has also given Clayborn some reps at defensive tackle in pass-rushing situations. “With Michael coming in at that position, this was an option for Adrian and he’s accepted that role and again hasn’t missed anything since I’ve been here. The guy just shows up like the [Energizer] Bunny: He just keeps going. We’re expecting good play out of him.”

Clayborn’s all-out approach might result in hustle sacks from time to time, but Smith says it is the young player’s talent that will be the root cause if he develops into a more prolific pass-rusher from his new vantage point.

“I like to think that every person that gets sacks, [there] has to be some effort involved in it and he does have that,” said Smith. “He has ability too, it’s not just [his effort]. I don’t think an effort player gets sacks just based on that, and relying on you just working harder every play than your opponent. That is a part of his game though. I think when you have some talent and you have a non-stop motor, then you have something special.”

Clayborn’s potential wasn’t the only topic being discussed at Buccaneer headquarters on Wednesday. Below are some additional thoughts from Coach Smith and several players.
On what he brings from Green Bay that could help the offensive line improve:
“For me, I played with a lot of good players up in Green Bay, I know how they go about their business, I learned how to watch film with them on my own and those kind of things. I’ve seen how we’ve been successful up there and from that standpoint I tried to bring that down here to these guys and show them some of those things, but for the most part once we get the five guys solidified I think that will definitely help as far jelling and then being able to move forward in that process.”
Head Coach Lovie Smith

Opening statement:
“Day two of preparing for the Buffalo Bills, which is good. I think just about every day that I’ve come in here, I’ve talked about good practice and we’re getting better. I’m definitely going to say that today. Our football team got better today. As good a practice as we’ve had. Good work. Hot. [We] finished up with our two-minute offense and defense. We do see progress being made, but we still have a long ways to go. This time of the year, you have to eventually – we’re at 90 [players] right now, we need to get down eventually to our 53-man squad. So you have to release some good football players. Letting Lavelle Hawkins go, he did a great job for us here. We feel like we have a lot of receivers, especially young receivers, that we like. Again, it’s always tough when you tell a player he won’t be on our football team anymore. But it’s about the rest of the group. We do have a couple of injuries. Can’t give you a lot more information on the injuries. Steven Means was able to go through team stuff today. Beyond that, Alterraun Verner continues to get better. Making progress. The rest of our guys, we didn’t have anyone off the top of my mind that came back from their injuries.”
RELATED: Alterraun Verner Sets Course for Saturday Return

On defensive end Michael Johnson’s injury:
“Mike has a knee bruise. It’s not anything serious so he should be good to go this weekend at least.”

On if the evaluation process for the players has been completed:
“The evaluation process for most of the players has been done. This week, the group that plays is telling you an awful lot. Telling our guys, telling our team what we think up until this point. But we haven’t had extended play. We’ll play into the third quarter with our starters this week. But to answer your question, most of it has been done, but every year, there are some positions in the latter part of our roster that will be decided by some of the play this week and of course next week also.”

On making the decisions for who makes the roster and who does not:
“My comment was that, in the end, there aren’t a whole lot of hard decisions, and I’m going to stay with that. It becomes clearer and clearer as we let players play. You have to earn play time by what you do on the practice field. Then, it’s about performing in the game. And they are telling us. So again, right now, for the most part, we know. We want to confirm a couple of things.”

On how he will handle playing the starters in the third preseason game:
“I’m telling them, ‘You have this much time.’ The guys that start the game will play into the third quarter. They know that. From there, we’ll kind of see how it all works out. They do know that. We’re trying to hit on all those different situations. Right now, we’ve done it for the most part. But now, it’s about players learning how to come in at the half, us to make adjustments, and then finish up strong in that third quarter. So this is a big part of the evaluation for us to get ready and I look forward to this team each year.”

On what he is looking for from the starters in the third preseason game:
“Improved play. When you come in as a new staff, we can’t set a whole lot of lofty goals. Based on what? We’re starting from scratch right now. So for us, we set the bar against Jacksonville. We wanted better play last week; we got that. Now we need to take another big, big step as I see it. I mean, we’re playing the division champs to open up the football season. We need to play our best ball. We need to be peaking about that time. So we need to see something that we really like this week.”

On the advantages of practicing in the heat:
“It has to be an advantage for us. I’m new to the area. You feel the heat. It does make a difference. Green Bay, Chicago, those outdoor teams have an advantage over warm-weather teams that come up. We feel like we have the same. Not feel like – we do. It will affect our game and we need to be ready. That’s why – I understand other people and other teams, what time they practice during the day early to avoid the heat – no, we’ve got to get ready for it. Only way to get ready for it is to practice in it. So we’ll continue to do that and it will be an advantage for us.”

On how many tight ends the team will carry:
“I liked this question. A little, ‘Have I figured it out?’ I better know. Have I figured it out? Yes, we have, and I’m assuming you would like for me to tell you that right now too? I would like to. I’m just going to say tight end is a valuable position and you can’t have too many tight ends. I can probably say that about O-line, quarterback and every other position too. I’m not trying to go around your question, we have figured out – we have an idea about how many we want to keep and we like all of the tight ends we have right now. Again, I don’t think there are hard decisions to make that tell you who stays on the team.”

Nick Mangold Sees Value of Cortland Chemistry

Jets O-Line Showed Closeness with Run Game, Still Needs to Work on Penalties

mangold-tj-81814The Jets have returned to their Florham Park training center for the remainder of training camp, but the time spent at SUNY Cortland gave center Nick Mangold and the rest of the offensive linemen the opportunity to bond.

“Cortland, I think, was great for us. We were able to hang out a lot,” Mangold said after today’s practice. “Once you know a guy on a personal level, it helps a lot more on a professional level.”
The relationship they built while in central New York may have helped them pave the way for Jets running backs in their 25-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night. Running backs averaged 5.0 yards per carry against the Bengals, accounting for 134 of the Jets’ 169 yards on the ground.

The linemen also stepped up on goal-to-go situations, paving the way for rushing touchdowns from QB Geno Smith and RB Bilal Powell. The Jets were a perfect 3-for-3 when it came to all red zone situations, which also included a Michael Vick touchdown pass to WR Clyde Gates.

“Getting down in the red zone and scoring is a big thing,” Mangold said. “If you can walk away with touchdowns instead of field goals, you’ll win a lot of games and we’re trying to focus on that.”

Mangold said the team will be focusing on limiting penalties in the future, as offensive linemen were responsible for seven of the team’s 12 penalties, which added up to 90 of the team’s 133 penalty yards.

“It’s a cause for concern if it becomes a habit. You always talk about personal fouls, holding, how they can hurt a drive, hurt a game,” Mangold said. “You can talk about it until your blue in the face and I don’t think that it registers a lot of times with guys. This time, we were able to see the detriment that it had when you go from third-and-6 to third-and-16. Third-and-6 is hard enough as it is, and now you tack on an extra 10.”

Two of the penalties were called on RT Breno Giacomini, who has displayed his physicality since joining the Green & White. Mangold said Breno was able to fit right in with the rest of the linemen, bringing with him an aggressive style of play.

“Breno is great,” Mangold said, “and having him and Willie next to each other — we refer to them as the Bash Brothers — I think that kind of mentality, as long as it’s within the whistle, is a great thing for us.”
Mangold was asked about the chances of other teams seeing the penalties and trying to lure the Jets into making mental errors. He said he agreed, but is confident his teammates will be smarter than to fall for the trick.

“If they don’t, then they’re probably not doing their due diligence,” he said. “But at the same time, I know our guys are going to be smart enough not to get roped into that.”

Mangold was held out of today’s practice with a toe injury, which he joked about in the locker room with reporters, delving into discussion about the purposes of the toes and which toe injury could cause the worst injury.

All kidding aside, he said the injury was not serious.

“I’m out here walking around,” he said. “I’m just trying to get things healed up before the season starts.”

This was the third practice Mangold missed during training camp. The other two were spent with his family, welcoming a new daughter into the world.

Another fresh start for O’Brien Schofield

One of the more impressive performances in the Seahawks’ impressive victory over the Chargers on Friday night was turned in by O’Brien Schofield, who wasn’t even supposed to be with the team this summer.

Chargers Seahawks FootballAsked about the play of O’Brien Schofield after Friday night’s preseason home opener, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll offered six words that pretty much said it all.

“He was all over the place,” Carroll said.

That was indeed the case in the 41-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers at CenturyLink Field, where the performance of Seahawks and their 12th Man fans was midseason despite this being only the second game of the preseason.

Schofield was credited with three tackles, including a sack and another tackle for a loss, as well as four quarterback hits. But even that impressive stat line doesn’t give enough credit for the disruption Schofield caused while playing as the Leo end in the base defense and one of the rush-ends in the nickel.

He was, well, as Carroll said, “All over the place.”

But that description also sums up Schofield’s offseason following the Seahawks’ 2013 season that ended with the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

Schofield thought that he had cashed in on his success, and that of his team, by signing a lucrative deal with the New York Giants. But before he could sign the contract, Schofield was told the team had failed him on his physical, voiding the transaction, because he was forming arthritis in his left knee. That’s the same one in which he tore the ACL in 2010 while preparing for the Senior Bowl.

Other teams called, but Schofield was a man without a team until he re-signed with the Seahawks in May.

“I truly believe everything happens for a reason,” Schofield said in the locker room as Friday night was becoming Saturday morning. “I had a talk with coach Carroll and John (Schneider, the Seahawks’ GM) before I got back and I told them this year, for me, it wasn’t about the money. It was about an opportunity and I just wanted a fair chance to compete and show who I am.”
Friday night, Schofield went from displaced to all over the place while showing just what he can do. And it appeared he had an unfair advantage over anyone who given the chance to block him. When Schofield wasn’t hitting backup QB Kellen Clemens, he was pressuring him into moving off his spot and making his throws too quickly. Schofield’s sack came in the fourth quarter against No. 3 QB Brad Sorenson. But Schofield’s most-impressive play occurred in the third quarter, when he split a pair of blockers to drop running back Branden Oliver for a 2-yard loss.

“That’s the thing that’s special about this defense, I believe we all play off each other,” Schofield said. “Being at home with the 12s and just the momentum, it feels like practice. It’s something we work on all week and all I was trying to do is just be aggressive and be disruptive.”

He was all of that, and more, against the Chargers. But Schofield is still hungry for more.

“Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve been battling just to prove myself and just have the opportunity for someone to believe in me,” said Schofield, who was a fourth-round draft choice by the Arizona Cardinals in 2010. “I’m just working my tail off right now. The way I feel right now, I want to build on tonight and not let this be a one-time thing.

“It’s something that’s encouraging to me, and hopefully to my teammates and coaches.”

Last year, after the Seahawks claimed him off waivers from the Cardinals, Schofield played end and linebacker – and even started during the preseason and regular season. That’s because Chris Clemons, the since-departed starter at Leo end, was recovering from knee surgery; Cliff Avril, the current starter at Leo end, was limited in training camp and the preseason; and strong-side linebacker Bruce Irvin was serving a league-imposed four-game suspension.

This summer, Schofield is working predominantly at end, and has added 15 pounds to assist in that role. He had a tackle for a loss in the preseason-opening loss to the Broncos in Denver last week and, given more snaps against the Chargers, followed that with an even more productive outing on Friday night.

“O.B. is competing his tail off to make this football team and mark his mark here,” Carroll said. “It showed up last week and again this week. And he’s doing it every day in practice. So I’m really fired up for him.”

And Schofield is just as fired up.

“I came out and just played my heart out,” he said. “I really love this game. I really take this opportunity as a privilege. Just everything that happened to me this offseason made me reevaluate my career and what means the most to me.

“I told myself that whoever gave me the opportunity that I was going to do everything possible to put myself in a position for success.”

So far, so good? No, so far, better than good.