Latest News and Notes from NFL OTAs
It's summer time!
Now for many people, that means backyard barbecues and an odd little game called "baseball" involving some sort of diamond and some gloves.
However, in the NFL, the start of summer brings with it Organized Team Activities, a two-dollar way of saying the little training camp that comes before the regular training camp.
So, with players around the NFL donning the shorts and shells this week, let's take a look at some latest news and notes from around the league.
Trouble Brewing in San Francisco
The San Francisco 49ers won't gather for training camp until late July, but as the team got together for OTAs, it received a dose of bad news.
It appears the 49ers could be without the services of outside linebacker Aldon Smith for a while.
As Cam Inman of The Bay Area News Group tweeted Wednesday, Smith pleaded no contest to three felony weapons charges and a DUI stemming from a 2012 arrest.
Smith will be sentenced on July 25 and could be looking at jail time, according to Nancy Gay of CSN Bay Area:
DA says Aldon Smith 'faces a range of sentences at the judge’s discretion between no time in custody to 4 years and 4 months in jail.
— Nancy Gay (@nancygay) May 21, 2014
Even if Smith avoids jail time, there's still the matter of the NFL, and Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk doesn't expect commissioner Roger Goodell to be lenient given Smith's past:
No way to predict how long Goodell will suspend Aldon Smith, but I'd expect it to be significant for both a DUI and felony weapons charges.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) May 21, 2014
Granted, the news wasn't exactly unexpected, but it also isn't the sort of headlines the 49ers want to be making as they stare up at Seattle in the NFC West.
Andy Dalton Looking Good
When last we saw Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, he was face-planting in the playoffs against the San Diego Chargers.
Now, with Dalton heading into a contract year, it's make-or-break time for the 26-year-old.
Well, so far so good, at least given what wideouts Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones have seen of Dalton in OTAs, according to Geoff Hobson of the team's website.
"Best I’ve seen him," Sanu said Wednesday. "I think it’s everything. That guy helped. He’s put a lot of work in the offseason, just seeing how he approaches it….it’s on you fast. You turn around and you’re like, ‘whoa.’"
"He’s got a lot of zing, a lot of velocity to him," Jones said. "Especially when it matches the intensity with the way we run our routes. We run our plays in different periods and it just brings everybody up, him included. He’s spinning the ball real nice."
Dalton set career highs across the board last year in yardage, touchdowns and passer rating, but for the third straight season the Bengals were one-and-done in the playoffs.
That needs to change this year.
Johnny Football Update No. 37,632
It's going to be a long summer by the shores of Lake Erie.
At least where stories about the battle to start at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel are concerned.
With that said, though, at least this latest update isn't filled with coachspeak and platitudes that go on and on and on and yet say absolutely nothing.
In fact, general manager Ray Farmer didn't mince words even a little while speaking about the status of the competition with CBS Cleveland's Bull and Fox.
For right now, at least, it's all Hoyer, who has looked better than Manziel "by a substantial margin," according to Farmer.
Glennon Gaining Ground
As I mentioned yesterday, despite naming veteran Josh McCown the starter after signing him in free agency, there's growing sentiment that second-year pro Mike Glennon isn't giving up his job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without a fight.
In fact, it turns out that Glennon's been opening eyes with the new regime for some time, according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports:
"We looked at all the tape of last year," new Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht told co-host Bill Polian and I Tuesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "Having him in the building and going through that first minicamp with him and seeing how he was in meetings and interacted with the team—and more importantly how he was on the field—just secured our feelings of how we evaluated him and felt about him. He's a little bit of an unassuming type of guy, but the players around the building really look up to him and do follow him. That's what it came down to."
Your move, McCown.
Johnny Manziel may be vying for a chance to start with the Browns, but not every highly touted rookie quarterback will see the field this season.
At least, not if the Oakland Raiders have anything to do with it.
The Raiders selected Derek Carr of Fresno State in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, but after trading for veteran Matt Schaub earlier in the offseason, the Raiders are in no hurry for the youngster to see the field.
And then some, according to Jim Trotter of ESPN:
It'll take something 'catastrophic' for Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr to start this year. Coach Dennis Allen is firmly committed to Schaub.
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) May 21, 2014
So, Schaub's the starter is what you're saying?
Locker-Ed and Loaded?
The Tennessee Titans haven't started OTAs yet, but when they do get underway there's one player who will be under an especially big microscope.
Quarterback Jake Locker, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, was limited during minicamp as he continues to rehab from Lisfranc surgery. However, Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reports Locker is expected to be given more latitude by doctors at next week's workouts:
"He'll do most everything," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Locker. "I think he'll be cleared to participate. But we also have to keep an eye towards not doing too much. … Jake is going to want to throw himself in there, and at this point it is more prudent for us to be reserved in what we do, knowing we'll have a lot of practices in camp ahead of us and he'll get opportunities."
The 25-year-old was off to the best start of his career last year before injuring his foot, and the Titans didn't draft a quarterback until the sixth round this year.
Of course, they also haven't signed Locker to an extension yet.
No pressure, Jake.