- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner17 hrs ago
Tuesday's trade between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots probably sent folks scurrying to see if there's anything wrong with guard Logan Mankins. Or, perhaps, worry there's something wrong with Rob Gronkowski.
The Patriots have agreed to trade Mankins, who has made six of the past seven Pro Bowls, to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a draft pick. The deal was first reported by Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, while ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the pick as a fourth-rounder. Usually when the Patriots move on from a player, there's a good reason. Mankins is 32 years old but still a solid player. He finished 18th among guards in Pro Football Focus' 2013 grades and is 10th in their preseason grades this year. He surely represents an enormous upgrade for the Buccaneers, whose offensive line play this preseason has been frightening, especially at guard.
So maybe this is more about Gronkowski than Mankins?
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
Considering how tough the NFL is on repeat offenders in the drug policy, maybe Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather should feel lucky he got just a two-game suspension for his latest illegal hit.
A blast of Baltimore Ravens receiver Torrey Smith in Wahsington's third preseason game was Meriweather's sixth violation of player safety rules. Not one, not two, not three ...
Last year, Meriweather was suspended two games for an illegal hit, but the suspension was reduced to one. And even after yet another violation, he got the same penalty that he got from his fifth go-around (although it's hard to believe this one will be reduced). He'll sit the first two games of this season (at Houston and vs. Jacksonville).
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers desperately need help at guard, and there's a former Pro Bowl guard who has been out of work all offseason.
So, it looks like it might be time for the NFL to forgive and forget with Richie Incognito.
The Buccaneers will bring Incognito in for a visit and sign him if it goes well, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported. Incognito had to be wondering if he would be frozen out of the NFL for good.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner2 days ago
You don't expect kickers to end up on the NFL's suspended list, but it happened to Denver's Matt Prater. And it's because he had a couple of beers at home, his lawyer said.
Prater, one of the league's best kickers because of his range on field goals and ability to get touchbacks on kickoffs, will miss the first four games of the season according to the Denver Post. His suspension is a violation of the substance-abuse policy, and is alcohol related, the Post said. Prater had been in the league's alcohol program since he was charged with a DUI on Aug. 12, 2011 . Once a player is in the program, any positive tests can result in an automatic suspension, which is what happened with Prater.
The NFL had threatened a year-long suspension but Prater's attorney Harvey Steinberg worked out a deal for only four games, the Post said.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner3 days ago
Falcons receiver Julio Jones looks just fine.
Jones is coming off a foot injury that required season-ending surgery last year. He was on an unbelievable pace last year when he got hurt, and so far this preseason he looks like the exact same guy that was dominating the league.
Jones had a fantastic touchdown in the second quarter against Tennessee. He caught a short pass, then dragged Titans cornerback Coty Sensabaugh for a bit before he fell off. With safety Bernard Pollard bearing down, Jones had a great spin move to his left, leaving Pollard behind. He was in the open field and scored a 52-yard touchdown.
But Jones said he’s still not quite himself yet.
“I didn’t have that extra gear tonight that I wanted,” Jones said during a sideline interview on the Falcons’ broadcast. “To other people it looked like I did a good job, but to me, I have a high standard for myself and I feel like I have a little rust on myself now.”
Now that’s scary.
The biggest problem with the New York Jets the past few seasons has been a lack of offensive playmakers.
They added a few this offseason, and on Friday night at least, the offense looked a lot better. The new supporting cast has helped quarterback Geno Smith, who officially won the Jets' starting job on Friday.
Chris Johnson has added a positive dimension to the running game. The former Titan has looked sharp this preseason. He had a nice 17-yard run in the first half against the Giants, and a 12-yarder in the second half. Eric Decker was signed from Denver to be the Jets' No. 1 receiver, and he had a nice 27-yard catch in the first half and a short touchdown from Michael Vick in the second half. Rookie tight end Jace Amaro also showed up, with three first-half catches for 28 yards and a touchdown.
The Jacksonville Jaguars wanted to sit Blake Bortles this season. All year, they said. That was that.
Well, if you've seen the Jaguars play this preseason you understand this one fact: Bortles is the team's best quarterback. Not the best for the future or for 2015 or even for Week 8. Right now.
This preseason, Bortles has shown off every physical skill that caused the Jaguars to take him with the third pick of the draft. He has a fantastic arm, great size and moves well. His touchdown throw against the Lions on Friday night, a 13-yarder to Allen Hurns, was a major-league fastball. He was 10-of-16 for 158 yards against Detroit. Even if you were skeptical of Bortles coming in, you have to admit he definitely passes the eye test. He has looked really good.
The scuffle between Jaguars rookie receiver Marqise Lee and Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis in Friday's preseason game looked like most football dust-ups, with a big difference a few seconds after it got broken up.
Toby Gerhart ran left, Lee was blocking, he and Mathis started to lock up and refused to let go. There was some shoving and then they got separated. Then as two officials led Lee away, both suddenly grabbed their flags and threw them.
The abusive language rule.
It's a good thing New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham got his contract situation figured out, because the NFL just took a decent chunk of it away.
Graham was fined $30,000 by the NFL for dunking the football over the goal post twice in last Friday's preseason game, according to numerous sources including the New Orleans Advocate. The NFL actually took it easy on him. As the Advocate pointed out, he could have been fined a little more than $33,000 based on the league's rules for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner5 days ago
You can say a lot of things about Green Bay, and coming from someone who lived near there for a while, I've said all of them myself.
But if you do an "NFL's best fans" ranking and have anyone but Packers fans in the top spot, you're trying too hard to be different.
Forbes got it right. They ranked the best NFL fan bases, using a formula of attendance, television ratings, merchandise sales and percentage of population that watched or attended their hometown team's games. The Packers' fans ranked first, because there really is no other option.
According to Forbes, market researchers Nielsen Scarborough found that "84 percent of adults in Green Bay are Packers fans, identified as such having watched, attended, and/or listened to the team’s games this past year." You can't find 84 percent of people in most communities to agree that water is wet, much less on a football team. Now, here's where you say that Packers fans are so into the team because there's nothing else to do in Northeast Wisconsin, and that's what Forbes did: