Month: July 2016

What we learned: 10 takeaways from Thursday

Is Thomas Rawls a lock to carry the load early in the season for the Seahawks? The second-year back is not ready for camp as he tries to recover from a serious leg/ankle injury and Pete Carroll has hesitated to promise Rawls the starting job. The position battle to see who else emerges in Seattle is one to watch.

Good news for the Saints, as safety Jairus Byrd was healthy enough to open training camp on the field for the first time in three seasons.

Coach Todd Bowles made a few things clear about his quarterback position on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s first full day with the Jets. Fitzpatrick is definitely the starter. Geno Smith is the backup and isn’t going anywhere. That would seem to put Bryce Petty’s job in jeopardy.

At least Fitzpatrick’s hair showed up in midseason form:

Okay…NOW it’s official.

We have re-signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The salsa is back in the Big Apple.

Victor Cruz will be on the Giants’ practice field when the team begins training sessions on Friday and will not be placed on the PUP list, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of his progress.

The injury-afflicted wide receiver hasn’t played a game since suffering a season-ending knee injury in October 2014. He planned to return in 2015, stirring Giants fans fantasies of a lethal Odell Beckham-Cruz combo on the wings. However, a calf injury sidelined him for the season, leaving everyone to wonder when he’d ever return to his full form, or the field.

When Cruz participated in individual drills in May’s organized team activities, he called the workout a “turning point” and promised the plan was “to be full go” by the beginning of training camp. The Giants wideout is currently on schedule, but updates on Cruz’s health have become the most predictably unreliable reports in the league.

Cowboys’ Randy Gregory facing additional suspension

The situation on the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive front seven continues to grow ever bleaker.

Defensive end Randy Gregory, already suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, is enrolling into a treatment program as he faces the prospect of an additional suspension, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the player’s plans.

The real worry, per Rapoport, is that Gregory has shut out people in his inner circle. It’s now hoped that treatment will help him resolve the problem and allow him to get his football career back on track.

The latest ban is also for violation of the NFL’s Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse, which will likely bring the suspension to at least 10 games. There is concern amongst the Cowboys’ braintrust, Rapoport added, that Gregory might not play again.

“I don’t want to comment on that,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett in response to news of Gregory facing suspension, according to the Cowboys’ official website. “I’m not commenting on Randy Gregory.”

A consensus top-10 talent leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Gregory plummeted to Dallas in the second round due to a failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Nebraska star also was late to pre-draft interviews amid concerns about his ability to handle the “mental rigors” of professional football.

Needless to say, the Cowboys were well aware of the risk in drafting Gregory.

Executive vice president and chief operating officer Stephen Jones made it clear months ago that the second-year edge rusher was on thin ice.

“This is a disappointment,” Jones said in February. “We have been clear with Randy about what his responsibilities are and what is expected of him. This is something that he is going to have to work through and correct.”

Along with Gregory’s lengthy absence, the Cowboys also have middle linebacker Rolando McClain serving a 10-game suspension and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence sitting out the first four games.

The front office is under increasing pressure to import pass rushing help over the next six weeks.

Suspended WR Josh Gordon meets with Roger Goodell

Gordon, who hasn’t played a game since December 2014, was spotted in April hanging out with free-agent quarterback — and former Browns starter — Johnny Manziel in Southern California. Still, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown told The Plain Dealer in June that he believed Gordon was making progress.

“I’ve talked with Josh twice on the phone, and the last time I talked with him he sounded very motivated and I think he was in rehab and feeling good about it and discovering some things about himself,” Brown, an advisor to the team, said. “He really seemed ready to take responsibility for himself.”

Brown also suggested that coach Hue Jackson and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam would welcome Gordon back if he’s reinstated, but Cleveland certainly isn’t waiting around after selecting four receivers — Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton — in this year’s draft.

Gordon’s return would give the Browns an uber-talented weapon to bolster their ailing offensive attack. As it always seems to be with this player, though, we’ll need to wait and see what comes next.

If Ray Rice has an opportunity to play in the NFL again, he plans to use his game checks to battle the issue of domestic violence.

The former Ravens running back was released by Baltimore in September 2014 after video surfaced of Rice punching his then-fiancĂ©e Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Rice told USA TODAY’s Tom Pelissero on Wednesday that he would donate his entire 2016 salary to organizations and programs aimed at the prevention of domestic violence and the support of its victims.

“All the scrutiny that I’ve got, it was deserved, because domestic violence is a horrible thing,” Rice said. “Me donating my salary is something that’ll be from the heart for me. I only want to play football so I can end it the right way for my kids and for the people that really believed in me. But I know there’s a lot of people affected by domestic violence, and every dollar helps. It’s raising awareness.”

Matt Spaeth’s long run with the Pittsburgh Steelers is over.

The team announced Thursday that Spaeth has been released with the designation of failed physical.

“Matt never fully recovered from knee surgery that occurred this past offseason, and he will not be ready to return to football activities at this time,” general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement released by the team. “Matt played an integral role in our Super Bowl XLIII Championship run, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”