NFL Training Camps 2014: Updates, Rumors and Analysis for July 29
Are you ready for some football?
Of course you are. Who wouldn't be?
Well, the magic day is getting closer. By the end of this week, the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants will have taken the field for the first action of the 2014 campaign.
OK, so by "action" I mean 3.5 quarters of watching fifth-string players blow assignments, but you take what you can get sometimes.
As we count the days until Sunday's Hall of Fame Game (what do you want? I'm desperate. Baseball, people. Baseball!) here's a gander at the latest updates from training camps around the NFL.
Could Josh Gordon Actually Win His Appeal?
You might want to put your affairs in order, because on the heels of LeBron James' return to Cleveland, it appears the city's sports teams may be about to catch another break.
And that's almost certainly a sign of the apocalypse.
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who is staring down the barrel of at least a one-year suspension after failing yet another drug test, has already pulled out one big gun of his own.
As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday, Gordon hired attorney Maurice Suh, who successfully helped Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman appeal a contested drug test two years ago.
Now, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has the details of Gordon's appeal:
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon landed in Stage III of the program last year as part of a negotiated two-game suspension for the use of cough syrup that contained codeine. Once in Stage III, a player never leaves. And he must pass up to 10 drug tests per month.
According to the source, Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests. One test barely generated a positive. And but for the 50-50 luck of the draw, it would have been a negative.
Urine samples routinely are split into two bottles, the “A” bottle and the “B” bottle. If the “A” bottle generates a positive result, the “B” bottle is tested. Amazingly, the “B” bottle doesn’t have to independently show a violation. Instead, the substance abuse policy states that the “‘B’ bottle Test need only show that the substance, revealed in the ‘A’ bottle Test, is evident to the ‘limits of detection’ to confirm the results of the ‘A’ bottle Test.”
In English, close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and “B” bottles.
For Gordon, the “A” bottle showed a concentration of 16 ng/ml, only one nanogram per milliliter above the limits of 15. The “B” bottle showed a concentration of 13.6 ng/ml — less than the threshold.
But because the “A” bottle was labeled “A” and not “B” and because the “B” bottle was labeled “B” and not “A”, the end result is a positive and a minimum one-year banishment from the NFL. Flip the bottles when it’s time to apply the labels, and Gordon isn’t facing a suspension.
Confused? Join the club.
Had Gordon not run afoul of the law twice since his positive test was announced, there appears to be a real chance he would have won his appeal.
Now? Who knows, especially amid the firestorm of criticism over the league's handling of the Ray Rice affair.
Cardinals C Lyle Sendlein Out 3 Weeks
There may not be a team in the National Football League more dependent on their offensive line for success in the passing game than the Arizona Cardinals.
Quarterback Carson Palmer is many things. Agile is not one of them.
Given that, it was hardly welcome news when word came down Tuesday that the Redbirds would be without their starting center for at least three weeks, per Fox Sports radio talk show host Mike Jurecki.
As Darren Urban of the team's website reported, Sendlein injured his leg during one-on-one drills. According to Urban, "Ted Larsen stepped in to play center on the first unit and as 11-on-11 began, you could tell the chemistry with Larsen and QB Carson Palmer were not there. There were a couple of misplayed snaps/fumbles in the first few plays."
Larsen will get plenty of time to iron out the kinks, but the team is no doubt hopeful that Sendlein will be ready before the season opener against the San Diego Chargers.
Texans RB Arian Foster, WR Andre Johnson Out with Hamstring Injuries
All you fantasy football fanatics out there preparing for your league's draft best listen up.
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2013, largely due to his inability to stay healthy.
Yeah, about that.
Head coach Bill O'Brien didn't sound concerned about the 27-year-old Foster, telling reporters, “He’s dealing with something. He’ll be fine. He’ll be back. It’s a minor deal. You know, it’s a long season. He’ll be out there.”
Johnson also downplayed his injury, stating, "Like I said, it’s nothing that I’m seriously (worried about). Anytime you get a nick or anything, you know, you worry about it.”
Of course, sounding concerned and being concerned are two entirely different things.
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence Carted off Practice Field with Broken Foot
The Dallas Cowboys had the NFL's worst defense last year, and with defensive linemen Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware gone and linebacker Sean Lee out for the season, the absolute last thing the Cowboys needed was another significant injury on defense.
So, of course, that's exactly what they got, with rookie DeMarcus Lawrence leaving the practice field on a cart.
"Jerry [Jones] says DeMarcus Lawrence is getting X-ray on his right ankle and foot," ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon tweeted.
The news got worse later Tuesday night, when Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com tweeted, "Source confirms DeMarcus Lawrence had broken foot. 8-10 weeks recovery time. Big blow to defensive line obviously."
Lawrence, who the Cowboys drafted in the second round of May's draft, was being counted on to help replace the sacks lost by Ware and Hatcher's departures.
Now, an already reeling Dallas defense has been dealt another potentially devastating blow.
Giants RB David Wilson Suffers Neck Stinger
Usually, a player suffering a simple "stinger" during a training camp practice would hardly be big news.
However, when that player is attempting to come back from a potentially career-threatening neck injury, it's another story altogether.
New York Giants running back David Wilson is trying to do just that, and after recently gaining full medical clearance, Wilson was back on the practice field with his teammates.
Unfortunately, as Kimberly Jones of the NFL Network tweeted Tuesday, the good times didn't last long: "NYG RB David Wilson didn't finish practice after sustaining a burner. Tom Coughlin: 'We were all praying' for no setback. This could be one."
Jones also passed along word that the Giants are going to play it safe with the third-year pro: "NYG RB David Wilson will undergo tests after suffering what Tom Coughlin called a 'burner.' I'm told NYG 'will be careful' w/him."
Not the start to Wilson's comeback he was looking for.
3rd-Round OT Morgan Moses on the Outs in D.C.?
The Washington Redskins spent a Day 2 pick on Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses, a player some draftniks regarded as a first-round talent.
Apparently, those draftniks (and the Redskins) may have been off by a round. Or three.
In fact, not only has reserve tackle Tom Compton out-performed Moses to this point in camp, but Mike Jones of The Washington Post left the door open (albeit slightly) for Moses to not even make the team:
You can tell Moses is still getting used to the speed and strength that NFL players possess. Compton also has looked more consistent in run-blocking than has Moses. It’s important that the backup tackle has the ability to play both spots because of roster spot numbers. Could the Redskins wind up keeping both? It’s possible. It’s hard to see them cutting Compton unless Moses makes great strides. But, it’s also hard to see them giving up on a third-round pick this quickly. And, I don’t think you could get Moses on the practice squad. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
As Jones said, the odds aren't good that Washington would give up on a third-round tackle after one camp.
Of course, a third-round tackle that winds up a healthy scratch every week wasn't what the Redskins had in mind, either.
Seahawks Sign RT Eric Winston
Apparently for the Seattle Seahawks, the end of July brings with it not only the beginning of training camp but also time to sift through the veteran scrap heap again.
One day after agreeing to terms with cornerback Terrell Thomas, the Super Bowl champs were at it again. This time, it was with veteran offensive lineman Eric Winston who just so happens to also be the president of the players' union, as Pro Football Talk tweeted.
The 30-year-old Winston made 16 starts at right tackle for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and adds some depth up front, but if he makes many starts for the Seahawks, odds are something has gone wrong.
After all, only three right tackles in the NFL received a lower grade than Winston by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) in 2013.
Ravens CB Lardarius Webb Still Out with Back Injury
Ninety percent of the time when a player gets dinged up in camp, you'll quickly hear the words "minor" and "a few days" uttered by coaching staffs.
It's what the Baltimore Ravens said when top cornerback Lardarius Webb pulled up lame in camp Friday after injuring his back.
Well, Friday has turned to Tuesday, Webb still hasn't returned to action, and now concern is beginning to grow about the sixth-year pro.
That's the latest from Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, who reports that Webb will undergo tests "in the next few days" to determine the extent of the injury:
"He's got some back things that we're looking at right now," head coach John Harbaugh said of Webb following a practice Monday night at M&T Bank Stadium. "Backs are a little weird. At first, it was no big deal. It's lingering a little bit, so we'll find out what's going on with it."
Injuries played a big role in the Ravens going from Super Bowl champions in 2012 to out of the playoffs last year, and a lingering one for the team's top cover man would be far from ideal.
Patrick Peterson Gets PAID
It's been a good offseason to be an NFL cornerback.
Both Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns and Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks have already hit the jackpot with huge contract extensions, and it appeared on Tuesday that Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals was about to join them:
— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) July 29, 2014
Peterson's situation was a bit different than the others', in that the Cardinals still had the youngster under control through 2015 thanks to his fifth-year option. However, general manager Steve Keim made it clear to Tom Pelissero of USA Today that the Redbirds wanted Peterson around for the long term:
He is certainly one of the top two or three corners in the league. The thing about Patrick is he's not just a good player. He's a great human being. But the biggest obstacle with doing that deal probably is nobody in the 2011 first round has signed an extension yet.
It looked like the Cardinals would become the first, but one thing was certain: It wouldn't be cheap.
Haden's deal averages over $13 million a season. Sherman's pays out at an even $14 million per year.
Sure enough, it wasn't.
CB Patrick Peterson's new deal (70M, 48M guaranteed) is a tad better than CB Joe Haden's recent deal (68M, 45 guaranteed)
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) July 30, 2014
That's one fat head of cabbage.
Steven Jackson Injures Hamstring
Just one day ago there was positive news from Atlanta regarding running back Steven Jackson, who was reportedly looking very spry in camp.
That didn't last long.
As D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Jackson will be sidelined indefinitely after pulling his hamstring in workouts.
Head coach Mike Smith downplayed the severity of the injury. “Steven injured his hamstring yesterday,” Smith said. “We kept him out. We don’t think it’s going to be real significant. He will be ready for the first game.”
However, the fact that Smith felt it necessary to mention the season's first game could indicate that Jackson will be out at least a couple of weeks.
The San Antonio Raiders?
We might as well wrap up Tuesday with a trip through the looking glass into the inner workings of the San Antonio Raiders.
According to Josh Baugh and Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News, "Raiders owner Mark Davis and two top lieutenants met recently with several San Antonio officials to discuss the potential of moving his NFL team from the Bay Area to the Alamo City."
On July 18, Davis met with the officials, including Henry Cisneros, then-Mayor Julián Castro, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, Mario Hernandez of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and both Richard Perez and David McGee, the president and chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, respectively.
Davis and his associates reportedly spent two or three days here, visiting the Alamodome and other places. They also took an aerial tour of the city in a helicopter, arranged by developer Marty Wender.
The odds of such a move ever happening are astronomical (for starters, the Raiders would be leaving the nation's sixth-biggest media market for the 37th, per StationIndex.com), but this talk only serves to underscore the Raiders' disastrous current stadium situation.
When the Alamodome is an upgrade, something isn't right.