A colleague of mine tried to convince me recently that Bengals tailback Cedric Benson had changed…
Around The NFL: News, Notes & Rumors
Kolb headed to Arizona?
The Arizona Cardinals are still in search of a quarterback and Kevin Kolb has been a name linked to the situation throughout the entire offseason. It turns out, the rumors that started months ago might just be true.
The Cardinals passed on a quarterback in the draft, leading to the conclusion that the team would trade for a new signal caller whenever the lockout came to a halt.
The latest rumblings have Kolb coming to the desert in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Arizona selected Patrick Peterson with the fifth overall pick in the draft, and while Rodgers-Cromartie is a former Pro Bowler, Kolb would have a much bigger impact in 2011 and beyond.
Other trade scenarios could included running backs Beanie Wells or Tim Hightower, but for now, Rodgers-Cromartie appears to be who Philadelphia has zeroed in on.
Analysis: The trade would make a lot of sense for both teams. Obviously, the Cardinals need a quarterback and the Eagles don't need Kolb, other than as an insurance policy for Michael Vick. Arizona would prefer to move one of its running backs but would likely have to shell out an additional draft pick in that scenario.
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Harrison apologizes about remarks
After some harsh remarks from a Men's Journal interview surfaced, James Harrison went on the record to apologize about his critical comments regarding the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell and his teammates:
"I'll start by offering my apologies for some of the words that I said during the four days in May that Men's Journal was invited to my house to discuss what the NFL has recently been portraying as their attempts at 'player safety' rules and regulations," said Harrison via Twitter.
"I did make comments about my teammates when I was talking about the emotional Super Bowl loss, but the handful of words that were used and heavily publicized yesterday were pulled out of a long conversation and the context was lost," Harrison said. "Obviously, I would never say that it was all Ben's or Rashard's fault that we lost the Super Bowl. That would be ridiculous. We all have discussed several things that went wrong in the Super Bowl since that day. What I do apologize for and take full responsibility for is for speaking in such a candid manner to someone outside the team."
"I believe in the right to bear arms. I like to go to the shooting range. I like to hunt. I like to fish. I could just as easily have posed with my fishing poles but it obviously wouldn't be an interesting picture for the magazine," he continued. "I am not promoting gun violence by posing for that photo. There are also other photos in the magazine story that were not shown on air yesterday - including me with my sons, with my mom and as a kid."
"If player safety is the NFL's main concern, as they say it is, they are not going about it in an effective manner," Harrison said. "There's nothing about extending the season or issuing exorbitant fines on defensive players that makes any shift toward the prevention of injury to players."
"I believe that the league may have been feeling increasing pressure about injuries and concussions last year, and that they panicked and put rules in place that weren't fully thought out. I'm not advocating more flags and fines, I'm just saying that the current rules are not completely fair, and I don't believe in the way that the league is handling their position as overseer of the NFL and the well-being of its players."
Analysis: We all know Harrison well enough by now and while the outspoken star can spit out some obscene comments, his intentions aren't necessarily malicious. It's hard not to like Harrison's genuine honesty, however, coming from a former nobody that's become one of the most feared defenders in the league.
Benson in trouble again
For the second time in as many years, Cedric Benson is facing assault charges.
Roger Wade, speaking on behalf of Travis County Sheriff's department, said Benson was arrested in Austin on a misdemeanor count of assault with bodily injury with family violence. The incident took place between Benson and one of his former male roommates.
Benson posted a $10,000 bond and was released prior to 2 p.m.
Benson was previously arrested last summer after being involved in a bar fight in Austin. Police charged him with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a bar employee. The case is still pending as Benson has denied the charge.
Benson was expected to draw a lot of interest in the shortened free agency period, once the lockout ends, but this could deter many teams away from him. Certainly, a surplus of long-term deals won't be on the table.
Analysis: Benson probably just cost himself a lot of money, and two assault charges in two years will deem some hefty punishment from the NFL. Goodell decided not to punish Benson following last year's incident but will likely discipline the soon to be free agent for both charges.
Pacman also facing charges
CB Adam Jones was arrested earlier this month and charged with disorderly conduct, according to WLWT.com.
Jones was at the Scene Ultra Lounge in downtown Cincinnati when he became intoxicated and disruptive. He was asked to leave but was "uncooperative and needed to be escorted outside," according to court documents, per WLWT.com. Jones shouted profanities and then tried to get out of his handcuffs as officers attempted to arrest him.
It's the latest in a long string of off-field incidents for Jones, who was sentenced to probation and 200 hours of community service in February under a plea deal for his role in the much publicized strip club melee in Las Vegas during NBA All-Star Weekend four years ago that left one employee partially paralyzed and two others wounded.
Jones received a gross misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct as part of the plea agreement.
Besides the community service, Jones was ordered to enter an anger management counseling program, stay off any non-prescribed drugs and be subject to random urinalysis testing.
Jones told the Las Vegas Sun after the hearing: "I'm happy I finally got everything behind me. This has been a long, long haul and has affected a lot of families. It has affected me personally. I'm trying to do whatever I have to do to never come back to nothing that is close to this situation again."
Signed by the Bengals last year, Jones played in five games last season before suffering a season-ending neck injury. He had 13 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble which he returned for a touchdown.
Analysis: The NFL will more than likely come down hard on Jones, who was given another chance following his involvement in the Las Vegas strip club incident. The Bengals are in a rebuilding mode and have fell suspect to multiple off field incidents this year, meaning Pacman's time in Cincinnati could be coming to an end.
Colts' former first-round pick arrested
Indianapolis Colts defensive end Jerry Hughes was arrested Sunday morning for public intoxication, according to a local television station in Dallas. The arrest took place at The Bank nightclub at around 2:30 a.m. CT.
Authorities told WFAA in Dallas that they noticed a disturbance that continued outside of the nightclub.
Hughes, a first-round pick in 2010, played in 12 games as a rookie, making only six tackles on the year.
Analysis: The lockout is getting closer and closer to being over, but the NFL might want to accelerate those talks amidst a rash of police blotter. Veterans and youngsters alike are getting picked up at an alarming rate. Hughes, entering his second season with the Colts, had a disappointing rookie campaign and this won't help his status in Indianapolis.
Posluszny wants to remain in Buffalo
LB Paul Posluszny is expected to become a free agent once the lockout ends and while he has stated his preference to re-sign with the Buffalo Bills, he will keep his options open.
One option could be the New York Giants, where defensive coordinator Perry Fewell would be a familiar face. Fewell was the Bills' defensive coordinator and then interim head coach when Posluszny broke into the league.
"I love Coach Fewell and the type of defense that he ran when we were in Buffalo, we had a good relationship together," Posluszny told SiriusXM NFL Radio, per The New York Post.
"Actually I have an uncle that lives in the New York area and he just sent me a text the other day saying he's read on the internet that the Giants are a possible spot for me. I mean, so yes, there's a lot of interesting possibilities out there and the one thing about free agency, all players, I think, you want to know your true value. You want to know how other teams value you and what they think of you, so that's the interesting part of it. But, I mean, the Giants, along with several other teams, there are some interesting opportunities out there, that's for sure."
Posluszny was tendered a contract as a restricted free agent before the lockout began, but he could become an unrestricted free agent depending on the details of a new collective bargaining agreement.
He had a career-high 157 tackles last season, including nine games of 10-plus tackles and 25 combined in the final two games. However, that didn't stop the Bills from finishing last in the NFL in run defense, allowing 169.6 yards per game on a whopping 4.8 yards per carry.
Analysis: Posluszny has been one of the few bright spots for the Bills, who continue in their quest to return to mediocrity. Expect Buffalo to do everything it can to re-sign Posluszny once the lockout ends, if he does indeed become an unrestricted free agent with the new CBA.
Ward hopes to beat DUI charges
WR Hines Ward was arrested in Georgia early Saturday morning on a drunk driving charge, and his agent released a statement claiming Ward was not impaired at the time he was pulled over.
"On July 9th Hines Ward was stopped by Dekalb Co. police for suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence," agent Andrew Ree said in a statement. "He cooperated fully with the police and truthfully answered all of their questions. We are currently in the process of ascertaining all the facts. From our preliminary investigation we can tell you that we are confident that the facts will show that Hines was NOT impaired by alcohol while driving. However, Hines is deeply saddened by this incident and apologizes to his fans and the Steelers organization for this distraction."
The Steelers have not commented on Ward's arrest.
Analysis: Only time will tell if Ward will be proven innocent when the facts are in but it certainly doesn't look good for the 14-year NFL veteran.
Grant counting on returning as starter
RB Ryan Grant played in only one game last season because of an injury, but he expects to be considered the starter when training camp opens. Grant believes that's what the team is planning.
Grant told WSSP Radio, "From what I've heard, that's the conversation that was told to me. I was told that by (former running backs coach Edgar Bennett), initially. Jerry (Fontenot, the new position coach) didn't tell me that anything changed. Jerry told me that as of right now I'm still the leader of the backfield and the expectations won't change. I do believe there will be competition, which is fine. I'm all for that."
Grant is due a $1 million bonus on the 15th day of the league year.
Analysis: The Packers' front office will be forced with some difficult decisions on which players to cut loose and who to bring back, but Grant should be safe for now. Despite the emergence of James Starks and drafting Alex Green in this year's draft, Grant could still be considered one of the top running backs in the NFC.
McCoy expects to bounce back in second season
DT Gerald McCoy said he is in great shape after rehabbing from a biceps tear that cost him the final three games of his 2010 rookie season.
Saying he is "100-percent healed," McCoy added, "I'm right at 300 pounds now, and it's a good 300 pounds. I left for the offseason last year at 310, but it wasn't good weight. I'd never been 300-plus before. Coach (Raheem Morris) even told me, 'You don't have to be heavy. You need to be the most in-shape guy on the field, one of the fastest guys on the field.'
"So this offseason I've been working on speed, quickness and losing weight. I've been slimming down. But I've been building muscle so I can hold those double teams even though I'm a smaller guy."
McCoy said his slow start last season was linked to playing end often instead of tackle.
McCoy said, "My first snap as an NFL player against Cleveland, I didn't even play (tackle). I was an end. I was moving all around. So, finally, I just said to coach, 'Man, please let me play one position so I can learn it.'
"After that, things started working for me and I took that tape and (looked) at what I was doing right and I just built off of that. And that's what I've been doing this offseason."
Analysis: McCoy produced little on the field as a rookie (in large part due to injury) but will be counted on heavily in 2011. The Bucs' coaching staff has had an entire offseason to gameplan around McCoy and the second-year defender should also benefit from the presence of rookies Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers.
Burress continues to lure new teams
WR Plaxico Burress will be a free agent once the lockout ends and there's no telling how much interest there will be in a 34-year-old wide receiver coming off a 20-month prison term, but that hasn't stopped him from a media blitz.
Burress has taken advantage of the dearth of offseason news by keeping himself in the media's radar, and on Tuesday told the "Carmen, Jurko & Harry" radio show that the Chicago Bears are one of three teams he's interested in playing for.
"Oh without question, without a doubt (the Bears are among his top three choices)," Burress told the ESPN 1000 radio show. "My decision making is going to come down to what I said, playing with an elite quarterback, playing with a running game, playing with a great tight end, and Greg Olsen is already that guy, in my estimation he'll be a Pro Bowler this season.
"That's the same situation I went into when I made my decision to go to New York (to play with the Giants), and it's a pretty similar situation."
Burress has already said playing with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick would be "a dream come true." Who the third team on Burress' wish list is remains uncertain. Last week he praised the New York Jets and coach Rex Ryan, while also saying he believes the Houston Texans are an up-and-coming team to watch for.
"I can't say where I'm already going," Burress told the radio show. "There are a lot of situations for me to go into. It's not solely going to be based on how much I'm going to be making. It's going to be based on me putting myself in a great situation. Me going to a city where I'm going to be embraced by the fans, and going to an organization that I can help and make the other players around me have the impact, go out and score some touchdowns and hopefully win the Super Bowl."
Analysis: Plaxico is clearly jockeying for position with a few interested teams, the Bears being the latest potential suitor. Burress would be an good fit in Chicago as the team currently deploys several smaller wideouts while severely lacking another redzone target in addition to Olson.
Jackson would welcome Plaxico in Philadelphia
WR DeSean Jackson said he thinks his team would be the perfect landing spot for wide receiver Plaxico Burress.
"Plaxico Burress just came out to California; me and him just spent some time together and catching up," Jackson told ESPN Radio in New York. "I think he would love to come play for the Eagles, come play with me and (Michael) Vick. He already kind of had a connection with Vick, with him being in prison and him kind of talking to him before. So it might be a connection, I'd love it. But regardless, I wish the best for him, and if he was to come to Philadelphia I think it would be a dangerous combination."
Jackson said he has loved the opportunity to play with Vick. "It was a dream come true," he said. "I've always had so much respect for him. And for him going through what he's been through and still be able to get a second opportunity and making the best out of it, first of all I'll say for the Eagles to believe in him after all the other teams just doubted him and said he couldn't do it, and for myself to actually watch and witness the every-day hard work, the things he was doing in the community, for myself it was really like a dream come true."
Analysis: Philadelphia has always been a logical landing spot for Burress, who's skills as a possession receiver would be an ideal complement to the speed of Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. The correlation between Vick and Burress, because of their incarcerations, also makes for an intriguing storyline.
Jets' Ellis facing possible deportation
NT Kenrick Ellis had a trial for a felony charge of malicious wounding moved to Nov. 28 last week. If convicted, the third-round pick faces possible deportation, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
Ellis is not a U.S. citizen, according to the report. The Jamaica native moved to Florida when he was 11 and although he has "permanent resident" status, Ellis could be deported if convicted of the aggravated felony charge.
A former Hampton star, and one of only four players from historically black schools to be selected in this year's NFL Draft, Ellis was arrested in April 2010 and charged for an incident at Hampton (maximum penalty: 20 years) in which he allegedly broke a man's jaw in an altercation. Ellis was previously dismissed from the South Carolina squad for non-divulged violations of team rules believed to have involved positive marijuana tests.
The ESPN report said the likely outcome is a plea bargain, with Ellis' attorney seeking at least less than a one-year sentence, "suspended or otherwise." If Ellis ultimately faces a misdemeanor with less than one year in jail, he wouldn't face deportation.
The Jets haven't commented on the situation since saying after the draft that they conducted an extensive background check and were comfortable with Ellis' situation.
Analysis: Should Ellis be looking at felony charges and possible deportations, it would have been a huge lapse in judgment by the Jets' front office. Ellis will likely plea down to misdemeanor charges, avoid deportation and end up contributing as a rookie in New York.
Britt's tumultuous offseason continues
WR Kenny Britt pleaded not guilty to three counts of disorderly conduct in Hoboken, N.J. on Tuesday, according to The Tennessean.
He had a new trial date set for Sept. 20 - two days before the Titans are scheduled to play the Baltimore Ravens. If convicted, Britt faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a $1,000 fine and other mandatory penalties, according to the paper.
Britt was originally arrested on June 8 and charged with fourth-degree obstruction, fourth-degree tampering or fabricating evidence and third-degree resisting arrest with force. Those charges were reduced to disorderly conduct.
It has been a tumultuous offseason for Britt, who is being sued for his alleged role in a bar fight last October, according to the Nashville City Paper.
Harold E. Pointer filed a civil suit in Davidson County Circuit Court in June seeking $150,000 in punitive and compensatory damages. Britt and patron Bradford Miser are named in the suit along with the bar, the Karma Lounge in Nashville.
According to the paper, Pointer claims Britt and Miser were allowed to re-enter the lounge after being escorted out, then approached Pointer and his friend. Miser allegedly hit Pointer with a glass bottle, starting a brawl on the floor during which Pointer claims Miser and Britt hit him repeatedly until security intervened.
Britt also has a July 18 court date after surrendering to Nashville police regarding outstanding warrants resulting from an alleged falsification of a driver's license application.
Britt also had a bizarre series of postings on his Facebook account last month, including an announcement that he was retiring and a curse at commissioner Roger Goodell. Britt later claimed his account had been hacked.
Analysis: Britt's messy offseason continues and appears to have no end in sight. Britt's potential is limitless but continuing issues with the law with undoubtedly stunt his growth in Tennessee. Chances are, even if Britt is cleared of any wrongdoing, more problems will arise in the future.
Massaquoi hopes for breakout season
WR Mohamed Massaquoi told the Cleveland Plain dealer he made good use of the lockout in trying to improve.
Massaquoi said he traveled a lot and worked with some of the league's better receivers, while also watching a lot of tape.
Some of these receivers were Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona, Calvin Johnson of Detroit, Pittsburgh's Hines Ward and Cincinnati's Chad Ochocinco.
He said, "I'm looking at this as a fresh start and I wanted to learn from the best. I wanted to be able to start from scratch and be able to use what they know to help me.
"If you watch Chad, you watch his feet. You watch Larry and you see how he adjusts to certain balls. You watch Calvin, how smooth and controlled he is at all times. Hines and Wes Welker, they understand the game so well. It's not always about just running out there and running a route. They really understand what they're doing out there."
Massaquoi concluded, "There's a reason that they're in the league as long as they are. You really can't fix what you don't know. You see how those guys go about their business, how they work, how they're running routes and how they're adjusting to certain things and it's completely different."
Analysis: Massaquoi has plenty of skills but has fell victim to a struggling Browns' offense throughout the early years of his career. With a new head coach and offensive coordinator, Massaquoi will have a chance for a breakout season, as long as QB Colt McCoy and company effectively grasp the team's new offensive scheme.
Information from the Sports Xchange was used in this report
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at firstname.lastname@example.org
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