Monthly Archives: March 2016

Lions sign guard Geoff Schwartz, bolstering depth (The Associated Press)

The Detroit Lions have signed guard Geoff Schwartz. The team made the move Wednesday, adding a player with starting experience to bolster its depth on the offensive line. Schwartz started 11 games last year for the New York Giants before breaking his left leg, ending his season.

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Lions’ Levy: ‘Compensation isn’t an excuse’ for NFL to deny risks (Shutdown Corner)

We’ve heard quite a bit lately from NFL owners and league commissioner Roger Goodell when it comes to the dangers of playing football and its likely link to CTE and other traumatic brain issues, and the league seems especially fired up about the New York Times’ report last week on the NFL knowingly touting flawed concussion research for years. But we haven’t yet heard much from current players. That changed on Wednesday, when the Detroit Free Press posted an e-mail beat writer Dave Birkett received from Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy. Birkett reached out to Levy after Levy posted a photo on Instagram that included a caption critical of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. In an interview with Sports Business Journal at last week’s NFL meetings, Irsay compared the risks of playing football to the risks of taking aspirin, yet another tone-deaf comparison from one of the supposed stewards of the game. Just days before the Super Bowl, Goodell said laying on one’s couch is risky when asked about the number of players who are retiring relatively young, citing their health in the process. Birkett was looking for more insight from Levy on his Irsay post, and also asked why he continues to play football despite concerns over brain injuries. In a long response, which the Free Press posted with just minor editing, Levy offered his impassioned thoughts and was critical of the league. Some highlights: “I had a lot of hours in the training room [Levy played in just one game last season due to a hip injury] and realized how normal injury is to us, as football players. I think about how we’re almost numb to it because it’s a part of the job. I became numb to the fact that CTE could be present in me. Like maybe my head buzzing a day after a game isn’t normal. Maybe the emotional highs and lows of a football game/season and beyond aren’t normal. Maybe when I forget something, there’s more to it than just forgetfulness. Disconnected thoughts, at times, might be a part of it. I know of and have heard many players talk about these same issues and if they relate to CTE.” “Compensation isn’t an excuse to hide or downplay the facts. We need to know the risks  and  the rewards. This is an area in which the league has failed its players. Not only never talking about the risks, but some people going a step further to deny and cover it up. It’s imperative to help make players, current and future, more aware of all of the challenges they may face as a result of the choice to play football. We need to have the opportunity to really understand what each other may be going through. It’s scary to think I may have CTE.” “I’m going to pull a Jim Caldwell (the Lions’ coach) and drop a quote that resonates with me: ‘Silence is an action.’ That’s why I feel the need to say something.” “The only voices we have on the subject are the league, which, unfortunately, has shown it can’t be trusted. So far, we’ve had a rheumatologist with questionable credentials [Dr. Elliot Pellman] telling us that there is no link between concussions and CTE, and aided in covering it up, yet is still employed by the NFL. …I’m not asking for this game to be any less dangerous nor risky, I’m asking for there to be transparency about those risks and allow people to make their own, informed decisions. As I’ve stated before, I’m choosing to continue to play in spite of CTE or any other post-football health issue that may arise. But that choice doesn’t justify continued denial and deflection of this issue when we now know better and have the opportunity to do better.” “Players make billions for the league; wouldn’t learning more preserve the longevity of the game? It seems they’re operating in a fear that if the real consequences are known, the sport will be in danger. The major danger is failing to be transparent.” It’s well worth your time to read Levy’s full letter , as it’s clear he’s well-informed and understands he’s taking a risk by playing, but wants to know the full extent of what he may have to deal with once he retires.  

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Saints sign defensive tackle Fairley to 1-year contract (The Associated Press)

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says New Orleans has signed free agent defensive tackle Nick Fairley to a one-year contract. The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Fairley is a former Auburn star and a 2011 first-round draft choice by the Detroit Lions, but was limited by foot and shoulder injuries in his first two seasons. In five NFL seasons, he has been credited with 14 sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

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Scout: Florida DB’s pro day drills best since Rodgers-Cromartie (Shutdown Corner)

An NFL area scout, who also happened to be a former defensive back in the league, told Shutdown Corner on Tuesday that Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III turned in an impressive workout in cornerback drills at the Gators’ pro day. “He is so sweet,” the scout texted from the Gators’ new indoor facility. “Killing drills. Maybe best DB [pro day] workout I’ve seen live since DRC.” That would be Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was the 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft despite playing at I-AA Tennessee State. The scout also noted that Hargreaves, nicknamed VH3, displayed very good ball skills in the positional drills and guessed that any questions about his height or athleticism would be answered with the strong workout. [ Follow Yahoo Sports draft expert Eric Edholm on Facebook and Twitter ] Asked if he thought Hargreaves solidified a spot in the top half of the first round, the area scout says his team’s grading method did not pertain to rounds specifically but that he was one of the higher-rated DBs he has written up in the past few seasons. That would include higher than 2015 draft picks such as Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson, who was the 16th overall pick of the Houston Texans last spring, and Florida State’s Ronald Darby, a second-rounder who had a standout rookie season with the Buffalo Bills. Hargreaves chose to stand on his athletic testing from the NFL scouting combine, and it appears to be a wise choice. The Gators’ pro day was held in the school’s brand new indoor facility, and the scouts in attendance were blaming some of the slower 40-yard dash times for the new surface being a bit sticky. Although no head coaches or general managers were spotted at the pro day, likely because of the overlap of the NFL owners meetings happening down the road concurrently, there were several coordinators and positions coaches in attendance, including Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin (who spoke at length with Hargreaves’ parents after the workout) and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter, even on his birthday no less. Other observations from the pro day: • Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, who checked in at No. 48 in Shutdown Corner’s top 50 2016 draft prospects, displayed “explosion and power” in the bag drills. “Beast” was one word the scout texted after watching him perform. • Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, per the scout, looked “good on tape but very average” at this workout. Robinson also was dinged previously by a few teams for poor interviews at the combine . • Defensive lineman Alex McCalister has an intriguing frame at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds. He worked out in linebacker drills at the pro day as well because of his unusual dimensions but “looked rough” in those and also appeared to have a “bad body.” – – – – – – – Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

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NFL coaches group photo: Can you spot the four who are missing? (Shutdown Corner)

Every year the NFL holds its spring meeting at a chichi hotel in Florida. Every year they take a picture with the NFL’s head coaches … those who opt not to skip it, anyway. Take a look at the photo above from Boca Raton, Fla. on Monday. Twenty-eight coaches took the time to appear for the photo. Four did not. Can you name the four without cheating? Look closely. One is easy. We’ll spot you Bill Belichick if you did not already know. The New England Patriots head coach routinely skips the photo. We’ll have to get the research department on this one, but he might have made one of the past 10 years’ worth. On Sunday, he was seen outside the room where NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was talking to the league’s other coaches, so perhaps this is a silent deflate-gate protest , but that doesn’t explain Belichick’s past absences. For that, we’ll assume it’s that other -gate thingy. And we’ll just assume Bill is in Florida for the fishing or golf or … music? My name is Billlllll http://pic.twitter.com/8smUp9RedJ — Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) March 19, 2016 So have you guessed the other three yet? Spoiler alert: One is Andy Reid. He usually is the easiest to spot, almost every year appearing for the photo in a size XXXL Hawaiian shirt. We talked to some friends of Reid’s at the NFL scouting combine who mentioned that Reid is rehabbing from painful knee surgery, so we do wish him the best if that’s the reason he’s not showing up the other coaches. After all, he’s been doing this coaches’ modeling thing a long time. Another one missing is New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. We put him in the Belichick category of “non-shocker” for not showing up. Payton had his own -gate deal with the bounty stuff, and he perhaps still harbors his own ill will toward the league. He doesn’t speak at the combine because he’s not required to, and the guess is that they don’t fine for bailing on this photo. So Payton is out, too. The last one is tricky. And it’s crazy if you didn’t get it (it took us a while) because he’s the only ginger of the group. Yes, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. We don’t know why Garrett is not there. Late plane? Lost luggage? Partying on “the bus?” No clue. We’ll update you if we find out. As for the guys who did make it, we see the usual stuff: Rex Ryan in his Buffalo Bills gear (even though no one else has theirs on). Bruce Arians — such a boss — in shades and his standard Kangol hat. Mike Zimmer rocking the dad jeans. Jeff Fisher sitting uncomfortably close (almost under him?) to John Fox. But, but … what is that on Ron Rivera’s feet? Is @Panthers coach Ron Rivera wearing TEAL ARGYLE SOCKS? (Please say yes.) http://pic.twitter.com/YW1zQtVhdC — Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) March 21, 2016 Oh my. That’s taking team loyalty a bit far in our estimations. And to think he used to be known as the no-socks guy … And here’s a funny one: The Detroit Lions’ official Twitter account pointing out where the team’s head coach is. Jim Caldwell is third from the left in the second row of the @NFL coaches photo. http://pic.twitter.com/rPEkeNTtDv — Detroit Lions (@Lions) March 21, 2016 Good lord, do fans not know what the coach that franchise stuck them with looks like? It’s funny how one simple photo of 28 missing can say so much about that NFL. But especially about the ones who didn’t bother to show up. – – – – – – – Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

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Lions sign former Jets receiver, punt returner Jeremy Kerley (The Associated Press)

The Detroit Lions have signed wide receiver and punt returner Jeremy Kerley. Detroit made the move Monday, adding depth to a position depleted by Calvin Johnson’s retirement and perhaps ending Golden Tate’s role as a punt returner. The Lions signed former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones to a five-year contract earlier this month.

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