NFL GridIron Gab Daily Digest

NFL GridIron Gab Daily Digest

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Saints Appear Ready for 2011 in Solid 40-20 Win Over Oakland

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:05 AM PDT

The New Orleans Saints appear to be in mid-season form, at least on offense, two weeks before the NFL season kicks off. In their last meaningful preseason game before their opener in Green Bay on September 8th, the Saints put up 40 points in topping the Oakland Raiders 40-20 at the Coliseum in Oakland.

The Saints offense ran like a well oiled machine, going off for 514 yards. Pro Bowl QB Drew Brees threw for 189 yards on 15-for-23 passing, and the Saints had plenty to feel good about after the 20-point win.

"I felt like we were very efficient offensively running the football and throwing,” Brees said. “Obviously, there's always some mistakes and things you could have done better. But for most part I was pleased with what we accomplished."

As for the Raiders and new coach Hue Jackson, the team once again watched their defense get run over. Oakland allowed 297 yards passing to Arizona in the opener, 239 on the ground last week to San Francisco and then 388 in the air to New Orleans.

"Obviously on that side of the ball we have some work to do," Jackson said. "We'll do the work and we'll get it done. As I said a week ago, thank gosh this is not the regular season. We have some fixing to do. I understand that and we'll get it done."

They did get some good news from their offense, as Jason Campbell went 12-for-17 passing for 150 yards and a score. RB Michael Bush had 32 yards on five carries, a 6.4 yards per carry average.

Campbell led the Raiders to a score on their first drive, as he hit a 35-yard scoring strike to Derek Hagan. He ended the night with 121 yards on six catches. The Saints with their first team offense led 14-7 at the end of one, and 17-10 at the half.

"Obviously on that side of the ball we have some work to do," Jackson said. "We'll do the work and we'll get it done. As I said a week ago, thank gosh this is not the regular season. We have some fixing to do. I understand that and we'll get it done."

Oakland will be in Denver for their opener in the 2nd half of a Monday night double header on September 12th. The defense has a lot of work to do, but LB Kameron Wimbley thinks the club has time to turn it around before the 12th.

"We have some things that we need to clean up," Wimbley said. "Big plays hurt us. We did better in the run game, but it wasn't acceptable in the passing game."

Both teams will sit a number of their big name players for their fourth and final preseason game this upcoming Thursday.

Bengals CB “Pacman” Jones May Start 2011 on the PUP List

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:51 PM PDT

The young Bengals may be without CB Adam Jones for the start of the season, as Geoff Hobson at says that the corner may start the season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and miss the first six weeks of the 2011 season.

Jones has stepped up his rehab now that he's wearing his helmet in drills on the side, but is still quite a ways away from returning. "They said they don't know, but most likely," Jones said after Sunday's practice. "Nothing is set in stone."

The team is for now being careful with Jones, as he had two surgeries on his herniated neck disk. One ended his first Bengals season last October and the other one this past July knocked him out of training camp.

"The doctor told me I was healed," Jones said. "Hopefully they're going to (PUP) me because it's a long-term thing and not just for this season. They want me healthy for not just this season. That's the way I'm looking at it.

Colts Coach Caldwell Says Manning Could Be Off PUP List Soon

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:45 PM PDT

It’s some of the best news that Colts fans could hear. Coach Jim Caldwell says star QB Peyton Manning could be activated soon from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

If Manning is ready to go, the team will be forced to throw recently inked QB Kerry Collins in the mix for week one against the rival Houston Texans, a team that beat the Colts on opening day a season ago.

General manager Chris Polian says the Colts are continuing to evaluate Manning’s health before they have to make a decision September 3rd. If the team does not activate Manning before the final cutdown, he wouldn’t be eligible to play for six more weeks.

“It could happen shortly,” Caldwell said after Friday night after the Colts’ 24-21 loss to the champion Packers. Manning has been on PUP since practice began at training camp August 1st because of offseason neck surgery.

Pittsburgh’s Defense Having Plenty of Issues Thus Far in Preseason

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:32 PM PDT

While the offense has been nothing short of spectacular over the course of the last two preseason games, there’s something that has been an issue with the Steelers, and it’s an issue that needs to be corrected in a hurry.

The defense.

Sure against the Eagles the Steelers D came out looking for blood, and they found it. Coming off an awful showing the week before against the Redskins, the team made it a long night for superstar QB Michael Vick, picking him off three times.

Last night against the Falcons, the team put up gaudy numbers on offense, but the Falcons offense led by Matt Ryan, who for some reason threw the ball 42 times in a half, also at times seemed to march up and down the field against the usual awesome Steelers D.

So what gives?

The Falcons had 266 yards in the half, nearly matching the 276 yards the Steelers gave up in an entire game in 2010.

"I think they would have run a lot more than what they did, but if you have something that was working, and it was working for them, I don't see what you need to change it for," LB James Harrison said.

Getting off the field on third downs seems to be a major issue for the Steelers, both in the regular season and the playoffs. Everyone seems to know that the way to beat the Steelers D is to throw, throw, and throw some more. It seems to be a plan that a lot of teams are going to try to use in 2011.

"I'd like to see us get off more consistently on third down defensively, put more consistent pressure on the quarterback and have tighter coverage in the secondary," coach Mike Tomlin said.

Troy Polamalu has at times looked solid in preseason, but remember he’s coming off an injury that made him look very normal in last years playoffs. The LB core is as good as ever, and right now the secondary is without Ike Taylor, who has a broken finger but should be back for the opener vs the Ravens.

"We have to be closer and challenge more potential catches," Tomlin said. "But that's just looking at it from a knee-jerk reaction."

Knee jerk or not, the Steelers D needs to do a better job, or the issues that have haunted them thus far in the preseason may rear their heads again starting September 11th in Baltimore.

Look at the Tape – Lions DT Ndamukong Suh Did Not Throw a Punch

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:24 PM PDT

I was pretty steamed after the pathetically one-sided commentary from Dan Dierdorf during last night's broadcast and the complete falsehood of ESPN's highlights regarding Ndamukong Suh's role in a scuffle last night.  Now PFT has chimed in and I was expecting a moment of sanity, but instead Mike Florio has regrettably fumbled his opportunity to end this foolishness and chose to stoke the fire of the "Suh is a Dirty Player" movement.

For those who missed it last night, 5 seconds after the whistle blew, Patriots' guard Logan Mankins threw Lions' defensive end Lawrence Jackson to the ground by his facemask.  Suh joined in the skirmish and used an open palm to shove Mankins away from his fallen teammate.  The national media has chosen to label it a punch and completely ignore the flagrant personal foul committed by Mankins.

Two things immediately vindicate Suh in this pathetic slant job of a story.  The first, the fact that Suh had an open palm and pushed Mankins.  Despite video evidence of the open palm shove, it is still being called a punch.  The second, if Suh truly lost his cool and threw a punch at Mankins, why did he calmly walk away and help his teammate back up a split second after the alleged punch?  I have watched a lot of football and I have seen tons of fights, I have never seen a player get so steamed that he throws a punch and then immediately calms down and walks away.

It's irresponsible and pathetic reporting based off a two second clip that doesn't even show what Mankins did.  It's really sad that the Lions are finally on the national radar again, but still have to deal with one-sided hack job reporting that is nothing but a smear campaign on one of their best and brightest superstars.

Cleveland Gets Top WR Mohamed Massaquoi on the Field For First Time in Preseason

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:22 PM PDT

The young Cleveland Browns do not exactly have a wide out core that is going to strike fear in the hearts of many teams in the NFL, but one player that they sorely need in their lineup if they are going to have a successful 2011 is receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

For the first time Sunday, Massaquoi was on the field in Berea, Ohio, still wondering how he got an injury that has kept him out of all contact drills.

"It was a bone chip, but I'm not sure when or where it came from," Massaquoi said, explaining problem. "I didn't know it until I got here."

Massaquoi was out there with his teammates catching passes during a non-contact drill Sunday. It was his first football-related action since coming to camp with his left foot in a cast.

The wide out is expected to be the Browns key target in 2011 for Colt McCoy, the 2nd year QB. In 15 games last season, he had 36 catches for 483 yards and two touchdowns. In 2009 Massaquoi tied for the team lead with 34 catches, good for 624 yards and three TDs.

"It's great to have Mo get in a few drills and get his feet under him," McCoy said. "We're going to slowly work him back in, and Carlton as well. It's encouraging for us."

Texans Coach Kubiak Hopeful RB Foster Will Be Ready for the Opener

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 08:16 PM PDT

Texans coach Gary Kubiak is hopeful that star running back Arian Foster will be ready to go for the teams opening game against the Indy Colts on September 11th. Foster hurt his hamstring against the 49ers on Saturday night.

"Looks like we're dealing with the same thing we were dealing with at the start of camp," Kubiak said Sunday. "Hopefully, we can get him back on the rehab train, and get him ready for opening day. He'll be day-to-day."

Foster had sat out the Texans preseason opener, then rushed five times for 47 yards and two touchdowns in the teams 27-14 win over the Saints on the 20th of August.. He was hurt on his eighth carry against the 49ers.

"Until he hops back out there, there's a concern," Kubiak said. "But it sounds like we're heading in the right direction."

Foster himself said on Sunday in a Tweet to his followers not to worry, that he would be back and ready to go for the opener.

Gridiron Preseason Preview: Saints at Raiders

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 11:27 AM PDT

Amidst all the hoopla surrounding the arrival of Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders will take the field for an important preseason battle with the visiting Saints Sunday at the Coliseum.

The Raiders made a big splash in Monday’s supplemental draft by forfeiting a 2012 third-round pick to acquire the services of Pryor, the talented former Ohio State quarterback who left the Buckeyes’ program in June amidst an NCAA investigation in which it was determined he received improper benefits. The 22- year-old would have been forced to sit out the first five games of his senior season as punishment for his part in the ongoing scandal.

Pryor will have to wait a while to make his NFL debut as well, as his entry into the supplemental draft came with the condition he’d also have to miss the first five contests of the upcoming regular season. The athletic rookie is eligible to play in Oakland’s two remaining preseason games, though he won’t be participating in Sunday’s affair after only beginning practicing on Friday.

Jason Campbell is expected to play for the Raiders despite exiting last week’s eventful 17-3 loss at Bay Area rival San Francisco late in the first half with a slight concussion. The starting quarterback completed 5-of-7 passes for 74 yards and was sacked three times before departing.

Campbell and Oakland’s healthy starters are slated to work into the third quarter of this week’s tilt, though the offense may be without several key parts against the Saints. Star running back Darren McFadden remains sidelined with an orbital bone fracture, while wide receivers Jacoby Ford (broken hand), Louis Murphy (hamstring) and Chaz Schilens (knee) are still on the mend from injuries that also kept them out of the San Francisco game.

In addition, tight end Kevin Boss will likely miss the rest of the preseason after spraining his knee in last weekend’s defeat.

Oakland’s depleted offense mustered only 214 total yards and was successful on just 1-of-10 conversion tries on third and fourth down against the 49ers.

New Orleans will be heading to the Coliseum with a few injury concerns of its own, with wide receiver Lance Moore (groin) and Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks (knee) both ruled out of Sunday’s matchup. Strong safety Roman Harper is questionable to play after fracturing his pinkie finger in practice this week.

The Saints began their 2011 preseason on a strong note, delivering a convincing 24-3 win over San Francisco at the Superdome on Aug. 12, but weren’t as sharp in last week’s road test against the seemingly-improved Houston Texans.

Quarterback Drew Brees did engineer a touchdown drive early in the second quarter of the 27-14 loss, but was an off-target 7-of-14 for 109 yards before giving way to backup Chase Daniel late in the first half.

The defense, meanwhile, couldn’t back up an excellent performance in the opener, with the Texans piling up 208 rushing yards and 436 total on the evening. New Orleans had yielded just 234 total yards and generated six sacks against the sputtering 49ers the previous week.

Like the Raiders, Saints head coach Sean Payton plans to have his first-team units on the field for close to three quarters in the traditional “dress rehearsal” game of the preseason.

The Saints and Raiders have met four times previously in preseason play, with each team prevailing twice in the series. New Orleans was a runaway winner in the most recent clash, coming through with a 45-7 triumph at the Coliseum in 2009.

Packers: Early Impacts Upon 2011 Season

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 11:12 AM PDT

Fan poll about important impacts facing 2011 Packers.

With the serious  questions about offense and its protection issues and the lack of consistent defensive front seven pass rush, we present this poll for the fans.

Patriots WR Welker Says Neck Will Be Ok

Posted: 28 Aug 2011 10:18 AM PDT

Late in the first half of the Patriots preseason game against the Lions, Tom Brady threw an interception, Wes Welker made the tackle on the Lions defender but left the game with a neck injury.

When walking out of the locker room, Welker told Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, "I'm OK."

"He's a tough guy," QB Tom Brady said. "There's nobody tougher than Wes Welker. He's mentally, physically, he's as good as there is. He's a huge part of our offense."

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