NFL GridIron Gab Daily Digest

NFL GridIron Gab Daily Digest

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WR Burress Talks About Playing for One of Three Teams – Texans, Eagles or Jets

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 03:24 PM PDT

Plaxico Burress is still without a team as he and the rest of the nation awaits the end of the lockout. There’s options for Burress, as he is going to be somewhere in 2011, and it won’t be with the Giants, his former team. Burress was on NFL Network Thursday, and spoke about three teams that could eventually sign the wide receiver – the Jets, Texans and Eagles.

“(Jets owner) Woody Johnson has been doing a great job running that organization,” said Burress, wearing a pinstriped suit and lilac tie as he tries to rehabilitate his image. “(Coach) Rex Ryan definitely has that team going in the right direction. They’re definitely right on the cusp of, I think, going to a Super Bowl and eventually wining it.”

As for the Texans, he said: “When you say Houston, all I can say is ‘Wow.’ That’s all I can say, because I give respect where respect is due. And I believe Andre Johnson is the best wide receiver in football. … The way he’s playing down in Houston, they’re getting everything going in the right direction. Matt Schaub has really taken off as an elite quarterback. I think Arian Foster is one of the top-five running backs in this league. I think that team is bound for the playoffs this year and looking forward to great things.”

Then during a call-in interview with Philadelphia radio station 97.5 The Fanatic, Burress gushed about the Eagles .

“It’s definitely attractive,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not. I mean I just look at the pieces to the puzzle that’s already in place, and if I can just go out there and fill that void and just be that extra playmaker and go out and have a presence, have an impact, ya know make the guys better around me, it’s a great opportunity. I mean you don’t get this opportunity too many times in sports and in life to be able to go out and be a part of a group that’s already elite. And if I can just go out and just have a presence, make some plays and do what I love to do, man I think it could be really special.”

Could The Titans Be a Landing Spot for QB Matt Hasselbeck After Kerry Collins’ Retirement?

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 02:16 PM PDT

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times reports Kerry Collins’ retirement means that Tennessee will almost certainly be looking for a veteran quarterback to bridge the gap until rookie Jake Locker is ready to start.

Not only that, but three of the Titans’ top front-office executives came from Seattle: Mike Reinfeldt, Ruston Webster and Lake Dawson. That means they’ve got some familiarity and a great deal of affection for a certain follically challenged quarterback who’s unsigned at the moment.

So is Tennessee a possible landing spot for Matt Hasselbeck? Absolutely. The question will be how much money Titans owner Bud Adams will pony up to pay a free agent knowing that he’s also going to be on the hook for Locker’s rookie contract.

Buccaneers QB Josh Johnson Would Love a Trade To the 49ers

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 01:10 PM PDT

When the 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh as head coach, there was plenty of talk that the 49ers would look to acquire Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson, who had played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego.

With his path in Tampa Bay blocked by 2009 first-round pick Josh Freeman, Johnson, an Oakland native, would welcome a return to both Harbaugh and his native Bay Area, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“I’d get to come home, be with my family, play for a coach that changed my life and play for a team that I grew up loving,” Johnson said on Thursday. “But reality of the situation is this is a business and we’re all seeing it with this lockout. So I’m a part of the Buccaneers and I have one year left.”

Johnson is scheduled to earn $596,833 in base salary in the final season on his four-year, $1.877 million rookie contract.

After sitting his rookie season, Johnson started four games in 2009, completing 63-of-125 pass attempts for 685 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions. As the No. 2 quarterback behind Freeman in 2010, Johnson completed 14-of-16 attempts for 111 yards, and has added 187 yards on 26 attempts over the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

In college, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Johnson was a three-year starter for the Toreros, passing for 9,699 yards and 113 touchdowns while running for 1,864 yards and an additional 19 touchdowns. USD was 30-4 in Johnson’s starts.

Johnson also shed some light on what Harbaugh is like as a coach.

“They will have no choice but to get better,” Johnson said. “He’s going to push you to that point. He used to run guys off in college that didn’t want to get better. Literally. He would run them off the team. That’s what he does. He forces you to get better as a player.”

2005 first overall pick Alex Smith is a free agent, but has been running the team’s lockout workouts and is expected to be re-signed to a one-year deal. The 49ers have David Carr under contract through this season, and used a 2011 second-round pick on Colin Kaepernick. That will likely be the depth chart this Fall, unless the 49ers wanted to save some cap space by replacing Carr’s $2.375 million cap hit with Johnson’s ($596,833), though the Buccaneers may not be eager to trade their top backup at the quarterback position.

That said, Carr’s salary would help the Buccaneers reach a cap floor.

Jaguars 2011 Position Battles – Who Takes the Spot at QB?

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 11:34 AM PDT

Now that the 4th of July has come and gone, it's time to get serious about some football. Granted the lockout is in full affect still, but the hope is that the deal for a new CBA will be in place by the end of the week possibly the end of the weekend.

With the hopeful start of training camp just a few weeks away, I am going to take a look into a few of the notable position battles that are going to highlight the Jaguars preseason. Today's main focus will be the battle for the staring QB position, which should be hotly contested between incumbent David Garrard and rookie Blaine Gabbert.

David Garrard

Pros: Has 5 seasons worth of being a starting quarterback under his belt. David has shown flashes of being a very good quarterback in the past, most notably in 2007 when he had 18 touchdowns and 3 interceptions while leading the Jaguars to the playoffs. Last season David went 8-6 as a starter last season, passing for 2734 yards and throwing 23 touchdowns.

Cons: While he has shown flashes of greatness, he has also shown inept passing skills and bad decision making. Some people have questioned his desire to win and his work ethic, as well as his on field ability. David threw 15 interceptions last season, and has thrown double digit interceptions in the past three seasons. His ability to turn the ball over doesn't stop there, as over the past 2 seasons he has fumbled the ball 25 times.

Blaine Gabbert

Pros: Hasn't been beat up by the rigors of an NFL schedule. Blaine has a big arm and is smart with the ball. Blaine threw for 40 touchdowns over the past 2 seasons at Missouri. Blaine has quick footwork, and is good at moving around when a play breaks down. Blaine is also very eager to learn and has a huge desire to win, and will play with a chip on his shoulder to prove he was the best available quarterback in this years draft.

Cons: Hasn't been beaten up by an NFL schedule yet, no one is really sure how he can handle taking hits from some of the best pass rushers in the league. Has very limited experience with taking snaps from under center. Blaine will also have to learn to read and react to the speed of NFL defenses. Blaine also is behind because of the lockout, he is going to play catch up to learn all the nuances of the playbook, and the calls at the line.

The outcome of this battle is most likely going to fall in Garrard's favor, but this is likely his last chance for him to prove he deserves the job. If Garrard slips, Blaine will be thrust into the starters roll. Don't look for Blaine to just lay down in training camp though, this is going to be one of the hottest battles in the league when camp finally kicks off. The next battle that will get looked into will be the battle at the wide receiver position.

8th Circuit Rules That the NFL Lockout Is Legal

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 11:08 AM PDT

By a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has ruled the NFL lockout is legal, overturning the April 25 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson to grant the Players’ motion to enjoin the lockout.

“We conclude that the injunction did not conform to the provisions of the Norris LaGuardia Act,” the majority read. “We therefore conclude that the injunction as a whole must be vacated…

“The district court's order of April 25, 2011, granting a preliminary injunction is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.”

Judge Kermit Bye dissented.

Today’s decision was surprising only in its timing, as NFL players and owners, under the guidance of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, have been working towards a new collective bargaining agreement. With reports that the two sides are close to an agreement, the 8th Circuit has now provided owners with a clear advantage in these talks.

Two items in the players’ favor is that rookies and free agents, i.e. players not under contract, may not be locked out, and that their antitrust case against the league is allowed to move forward.

On the rookies/free agent front, Judge Nelson must hold a hearing to introduce testimony and evidence before imposing an injunction pertaining to players not under contract, which would take a few weeks before a ruling requiring the league to negotiate with and sign free agents and rookies without contracts.

Best in the NFC: Who Are 2011′s Top Contenders?

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 08:40 AM PDT

1. Green Bay Packers

The Super Bowl Champions are a complete team. They have faced adversity and had their back against the wall and they prevailed. Offensively, they struggled out of the gate but finished with stratospheric displays in two of their last three playoff games, winning the Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers winning the MVP. The Pack have 2 of the 10 best corners (Woodson and Williams), the best receiving corps in football, the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year (Woodson) and the 2010 runner-up Clay Matthews. They proved they can be competitive when Rodgers gets hurt and they added intriguing offensive skill players in the draft (Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, Hawai’i RB Alex Green). Due to their lack of players workouts, be prepared to hear a new level of “Super Bowl hangover” predictions. Don’t believe it. The Packers are the class of the NFC by far this year and won’t see a challenger in their division until Minnesota in 2012. It’s a passing league and Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 423 yds/4 TD/1 INT, 366/3 TD/0 INT, and 304/3 TD/0 INT in 3 of his last 5 playoff games.

2. Dallas Cowboys
Bob Sanders and O.J. Atogwe are no longer free agents. Ray Edwards, Darren Sharper, Danieal Manning, Jason Babin and Dawan Landry will be pursued by many teams. The biggest defensive addition for any team in the off-season was not a player. Rob Ryan comes over from Cleveland to coach the Cowboys defense. This hire was perfect, giving the defense an engaging, motivational coach with high standards. The 2011 Cowboys will have a more streamlined, hard-nosed feel to them and I believe they will immediately validate Jerry’s faith in Jason Garrett. The offense is loaded with young weapons – Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, and Felix Jones are all under 30 – and they added DeMarco Murray in the draft. They finished 7th in scoring, mostly due to the preparedness and savvy of Jon Kitna, who started 9 games. He played like a man knowing this might be his last time in command. The defense was awful last year but still has all four of the Pro Bowlers from its 2009 incarnation that was 2nd in points allowed. I expect Romo to rise to this challenge and – with help from his newly-focused teammates – finally solidify himself as the franchise QB at age 30. I am skeptical that they will get past Green Bay, though.

3. New York Giants
They have a lot of the same momentum that my #1 team in the AFC, San Diego, has. They also have the QB San Diego wanted back in 2004. The Giants – like the Chargers – had injury issues and some fluky mistakes (tipped INTs, punting to Desean Jackson) last season. While their top NFC East competition are bringing in new defensive playbooks, there will be a sense of continuity with Big Blue. While their projected starting 11 on defense (adding Prince Amukamara for at least their base nickel) will be near the upper third of the NFL, I think it was a great move to assemble their receiving corps in consecutive drafts. While their Steve Smith might be on the move, they are loaded with talent as evidenced by the huge preseason by Victor Cruz. Mario Manningham will have a breakout fantasy year and many don’t realize that Eli has thrown for 4000 yards, back-to-back, something Tom Brady has never accomplished.

4. New Orleans Saints
I think physical running backs and pass rushing freaks are the two kinds of players you look to see contributions from right away. I’m certain the Saints got the running back in Mark Ingram, and I’m pretty sure they got that level of pass rusher in Cameron Jordan. The Bucs will get close and the Falcons offense will be enough to carry their average defense but the Saints are the most battle-tested and Drew Brees has been scorching-hot in his last two playoff games. Brees has a Manning-like proficiency in the Payton offense and having a real bruiser like Ingram will only push one of the deadliest weapons of the offense: the play-action. The Saints scored 30 or more points in six straight games last year, and scored 36 in the playoff loss. The Saints have been 5th, 12th, 1st, 1st and 11th in points scored the last five seasons. Ingram replacing Bush and fantasy sleeper Jimmy Graham replacing Shockey only makes the offense scarier.

5. Philadelphia Eagles
One of the most underrated storylines was how troubled the Eagles defense was for much of the year. Blame it on the turf or what have you, but they allowed Jay Cutler and the Bears offense one of their best games. The guy calling the shots for this defense, Sean McDermott, was fired. Looking across the NFC East, I would think the Cowboys’ defense has more holes than the Eagles but I love Rob Ryan’s ability to push players and I also love his attacking schemes. Quietly, the Eagles finished 2-3 including the playoff game down the stretch, were victorious by more than 7 in neither win, and committed 12 turnovers in the last four regular season games. They’ll be a factor, but that could be seriously jeopardized if Michael Vick gets hurt again (hurt twice last year) and Kolb isn’t there to line up under center.

Notable snubs:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I have the Bucs getting in the playoffs ahead of the Eagles but I think the Eagles will be a more polished team and also have the pedigree of having won a lot of games in the playoffs, which is the slighter of the two advantages. Their Roethlisberger/Vick-style X-factor QB Freeman, had an identical or lower interception rate than those two last year, despite having rookies at the skill positions.

St. Louis Rams
Barring the re-re-rebirth of Alex Smith being the success that his teammates claim it will be, St. Louis has this division wrapped up. The newly-formed Super Bowl XLII Odd Couple (Spagnuolo and McDaniels) are bringing back the best defense in the division last year (20.5 ppg allowed), added more defenders in the draft (freak Robert Quinn and DB Jermale Hines who has great upside), and keep adding dynamic playmakers for Sam Bradford. You can see why Los Angeles wants them. The post-Warner/Boldin Cardinals need O-line help and are going nowhere. The Seahawks are still trying to recuperate from the failed drafts of Ruskell-Holmgren-Mora. If the Rams pick up all six divisional games, they could end up with the #1 seed in the NFC but I’d pick any of those five teams and the Bucs to beat them in a playoff game. The Rams are too young right now.

Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons got fortunate breaks in both games against the Bucs and I simply think – of the three teams competing in the South – Atlanta has the least talent and the worst coach. They have a lot of playmakers on offense but just two – John Abraham and Brent Grimes – on defense.

Detroit Lions
I have never seen a trendier playoff pick. They COULD make it, but the hype for Suh-Fairley-Vanden Bosch is some of the wildest I’ve ever seen. I think – after Green Bay – the division is pretty close.

Also: Best in the AFC: Who Are 2011′s Top Contenders

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Free Agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw – “I Want to Come Back to the Giants”

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 07:49 AM PDT

We were lucky enough to have the chance to interview the Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw! He took some time out of his busy schedule to talk football with us. Here’s what he had to say:

GiantsGab: What’s the latest you’re hearing on the lockout?

Ahmad Bradshaw:There’s been talks going on, between the two parties, something good will come out of it, hopefully. They’re trying to get something done around the 15th, they’re really pushing to get something done before then, so we can get training camp started.

GG: How has it affected your training?

AB: Well, it’s tough, around this time we normally come together. We’ll see the outcome of it.

GG: You’ve battled injuries seemingly your whole career. How are you feeling, and what do you plan to do to stay healthy?

AB:I’m doing a great job of just maintaing myself right now, taking care of my injuries, keep them treated, keep them healthy. It’s a tough game, a lot can go on, just have to try to maintain, and last the whole season.

GG: Last season was disappointing. What went wrong? What changes are you going to make?

AB:We have the weapons to be an elite team, we have to come together, get ready for training camp, prepare for the season

GG: Describe your relationship with Brandon Jacobs

AB: Brandon’s like a big brother to me, since the first time I stepped into Giants Stadium. I don’t mind sharing the load, he’s a big guy, and we’re going to come in and run around people. There’s no controversy between us.

GG: Giants drafted Da’Rel Scott in the 7th round. Have you had a chance to talk with him and if so what did you say?

AB: With the Giants, it takes a long time to get used to the playbook, all the different plays and schemes, just get used to all the different running schemes, protections, verbage, that’s the hardest thing when you first come in as a rookie. In my first year, it took me all of summer, mini-camp, OTA’s, the whole year until the Buffalo game, the championship to really know it.

GG: What are your expectations for next season?

It’s going to be one of the biggest years of my life, I’m a free agent, I want to come back to the Giants, but if it’s not the Giants, I’m a durable, strong back, who can produce.

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