THE BOYS ARE BACK ON TRACK: Both Dallas Cowboys player suspensions resolved | Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain to return in week 5 | 2015 Dallas Cowboys
After weeks of inactivity at Valley Ranch due to offseason vacation breaks … there is news to report today.
The NFL announced that Greg Hardy‘s suspension was reduced from 10 games to four games this afternoon. Continue reading →
SO LONG, COWBOY: Sun sets on Spencer’s career in Big D | Dallas defender to go marching on in The Big Easy | Anthony Spencer reunited with Rob Ryan
IRVING, Texas – When word got out that defensive lineman Ben Gardner had obtained Anthony Spencer’s jersey number for the upcoming offseason workouts, most assumed Spencer’s eight-year tenure with the Dallas Cowboys was over. Continue reading →
THE MARINELLI CONNECTION: Dallas Cowboys sign former first-round DT Amobi Okoye | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have signed free agent Amobi Okoye, a former first-round pick in 2007, to a two-year deal.
Okoye could possibly give the Cowboys some help at defensive tackle if he can get healthy, something that has been a challenge for the former No. 10 overall pick of the Texans in 2007.
Okoye, born in Nigeria, was drafted when he was just 19 years old. The 6-foot-2, 292-pound tackle became the youngest player to start an NFL game since 1967.
Okoye reunites with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who coached him two years in Chicago from 2011-12.
Still just 26 years of age, Okoye will likely play the 3-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 scheme.
“We like a lot of things about him. He’s a young player coming out of (Louisville),” Jason Garrett said of Okoye.”He has a lot of talent. Rod was around him in Chicago so we know him well. We think that’s a positive thing. He’s had some health issues the last year … we feel like he has a chance to be a contributor on the line.”
In four years with the Texans, Okoye started 58 of 62 games. He played 25 games in two years with the Chicago Bears but only started once. Out of football in 2013, Okoye might have some position flex at tackle.
“We feel like he has the move to play (3-technique) but he can certainly play the nose,” Garrett said. “We’re not going to rush him into anything. But it’s good to have him in here.”
To make room for Okoye’s spot, the Dallas Cowboys waived linebacker Jonathan Stewart, who spent time on the practice squad last year.
TALLER TARGET TAKEN TODAY: Dallas Cowboys shift lanes for Pitt WR Devin Street | NFL Draft 2014 – 5th Round
IRVING, Texas – After trading up in the second round to grab the defensive player they coveted, the Dallas Cowboys followed suit in the fifth round to grab the offensive player they wanted.
The Cowboys selected Pittsburgh wide receiver Devin Street at No. 146 overall in the fifth round, trading up from their pick at No. 158 and giving away their first seventh-round pick to do so. Street comes to Dallas after a four-year career at Pittsburgh, where he set the school’s career receptions record with 202.
“I just felt like going through this whole process Dallas was my No. 1 choice,” Street said. “I know I didn’t have any say in it, but just getting a feel for them, I felt like they had a lot of faith in me at the combine talking with them and (wide receivers coach Derek) Dooley worked me out. I think everything happens for a reason, and I am blessed to go to such a great organization.”
Street automatically becomes one of the biggest targets on the Dallas Cowboys roster, as he weighs in at 6-3, 198 pounds and posted a 4.55-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February.
“I think I can bring a different dimension,” Street said. “I can run on the inside and the outside. Coach Dooley had me run routes as an outside wide receiver, but then also put me in those quick, short and intermediate routes. I ran those at (Pittsburgh) as well.
“I can remember running a slot route and ended up stumbling a little bit because I over-strided, and coach Dooley told me to shorten my stride up. I shortened my stride up and he said I ran one of the crispest routes he’s ever seen. He feels like I am a quick learner, and I think I definitely am.”
He was the Panthers’ leading receiver for two straight seasons – in 2012, he snagged 73 balls for 975 yards and five touchdowns. His receptions and yards dipped to 51 and 854, respectively, in 2013, but he did improve his touchdown total to seven.
Like the Cowboys’ second-round pick, Demarcus Lawrence, Street comes with a small amount of off-field baggage. He was one of three Pittsburgh football players charged with simple assault and conspiracy in November of 2012, after a student reported being struck in the head during a confrontation with the players. The charge was eventually reduced to disorderly conduct, and Street was given community service.
With the free agency acquisition of LaRon Byrd in April, the selection of Street gives the Dallas Cowboys nine wide receivers on the current roster. The Cowboys also have Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris, as well as Jamar Newsome, Lance Lewis, and Tim Benford.
DAY TWO RECAP: Player To Watch On NFL Draft Day 3
Devin Street Pittsburgh WR 6-3 198 4.55
Physically reminds me of Andre Holmes (currently of the Raiders) when you study him on tape. Long, rangy build with the ability to make plays. Smooth route runner. Will see him line up in the slot at times which is surprising because I didn’t see the initial quickness for that. Is a long strider that builds speed as he goes. Will catch the ball on all levels and hands appear to be natural.
A three-star WR recruit, Street received attention from mostly MAC schools, but committed to Pittsburgh once they offered him a scholarship the summer before his senior year in high school.
After redshirting in 2009, he started four games in 2010 and became a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2011, leading the team with 53 catches and 754 yards. Street again led Pitt in receiving as a junior with personal-bests in catches (73) and yards (975), earning Second Team All-Big East honors. He was the secondary option as a senior in 2013 behind true freshman stud Tyler Boyd, but tied for the team-lead in touchdown catches (7) and averaged 16.7 yards per catch.
Street has an expansive resume and was the go-to target for Pitt the last few seasons, lining up in the slot and outside the numbers – was effective in the short, intermediate and deep levels. He has an athletic frame with the height/length combination to match up well in the NFL, but needs to consistently play up to his measureables and develop his strength. Street projects as one of the top-5 senior WRs in this draft class and early day three selection.
STRENGTHS: Good-sized target with long arms to catch the ball well away from his frame…natural plucker with soft hands to catch everything thrown his way – nice job locating and high-pointing to come down with off-target throws…well-built with natural body control, using his size well, working the middle of the field and holding his own in traffic – terrific hand-eye coordination…long-strider with adequate build-up vertical speed…shows balance after the catch to pick up extra yards…coachable and known as a reliable teammate – senior captain…athletic bloodlines – father (Kutztown) and uncle (Tennessee State) both played college football…productive resume with 40 career starts and three 50+ reception seasons – school’s all-time leading pass-catcher with 202 grabs.
WEAKNESSES: Lean-muscled and needs to spend more time in the weight room to develop his functional strength…will be pushed around by smaller defenders and needs to shed the “soft” label…tight lower body and struggles to create much separation in his breaks…doesn’t have any suddenness as a route runner and will struggle vs. press coverage…needs to show better creativity and wiggle as a ball carrier to be a consistent threat after the catch…needs to stay focused for all four quarters and appears to have some mental lapses…lacks an ideal competitive temperament and too passive…some durability concerns, missing playing time in 2013 with nagging shoulder and ankle issues…character needs investigated after a Oct. 2012 incident when he was charged with one count of criminal conspiracy and simple assault after being accused of punching a student in the head – charges were reduced and he performed community service.
–Dane Brugler | NFL Draft Scout/CBS
STRENGTHS: Has excellent length and room for added bulk. Chews up ground with long strides. Is a big target underneath with a sizable catch radius. Shows natural receiving skills to track, concentrate and adjust. Soft, dependable hands to extend and pull in a throw off his body. Uses his big frame to post up defensive backs. Nice field awareness. Lined up outside and inside. Solid personal and football character. Productive, 40-game starter. Team captain.
WEAKNESSES: Has a thin build and could stand to pack on body armor — durability could be an issue. Needs to get stronger, particularly to improve his release vs. the jam. Builds to speed and is not a threat to take the top off. Leggy and fairly straight-linish — does not pop out of breaks or separate with quickness. Inconsistent route runner. Not aggressive or physical as a blocker. Can be more cognizant of ball security — carries loosely and swings the ball away from his body. Limited special-teams utility.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Rounds 4-5
BOTTOM LINE: Pitt’s all-time leading pass catcher, Street is a narrowly built, long-levered, smooth-muscled receiver whose best assets are his length and hands. Needs to incorporate more physicality into his overall game, but has the ability to be an effective zone beater and red-zone target.
–Nolan Nawrocki | NFL website
The first 100 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft are in the books, but the talent well is far from dry in this deep class.
The bulk of NFL rosters are built in the final four rounds of the draft, where teams can find future starters or fill spots on special teams. Many picks won’t pan out, but the NFL is filled with third-day success stories, just ask Tom Brady, Jared Allen and the countless number of other examples.
Here is a look at the Top-10 players still available entering the fourth round today:
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting reports on Dallas Cowboys OL Zack Martin | 1st round NFL Draft 2014
Name: Zack Martin | Position: Offensive Tackle/Guard | College: Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-4/308 | Age: 23
Honors: Martin was named a team captain his final two seasons and helped pave the way as the starting left tackle for the Irish to reach the BCS national championship game in 2012. He was named the MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl in 2013 and was on the Lombardi Award Watch List and Outland Trophy Watch List beginning all the way back in 2011.
Key stat: The Notre Dame lineman started all 52 games from 2010 to 2013, primarily as the left tackle, setting a new team record among offensive linemen. Despite his stability on the left side of the line for the Irish, some believe he still has the ability to bump inside at the next level.
How He Helps the Cowboys: While the focus heading into this draft and free agency will undoubtedly be on the other side of the line, the Cowboys could still use some help and depth on the inside of their offensive line. The upside with Martin is he has the flexibility to be used inside or outside. If the Cowboys want him to play guard, they can utilize him there until they believe he’s ready to take on the best pass rushers in the game as an offensive tackle.
ANNUAL NFL OWNERS MEETING: League ownership approves new rules | NFL approves new replay process | Field-goal posts to be extended
ORLANDO, Fla. — On the third day of the NFL Annual Meeting, the league’s ownership got down to voting.
One day after approving a rule to allow referees to consult with the officiating department in New York during replay review (see below), the league came to a decision on the rest of the rule proposals on the docket. Here’s a quick summary of the measures:
- The proposal to extend the goal posts five feet taller has passed.
“It just made sense,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. It passed “relatively easily.”
- The “NaVorro Bowman Rule” was passed. That allows the officials to make the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play a reviewable call. This loophole was exposed when Bowman clearly recovered a ball in the NFC Championship Game last year, but the play couldn’t be under review.
- The game clock will now continue after a quarterback sack outside of two minutes.
- Multiple proposals to expand plays that can be reviewed were shot down. The Patriots had suggested allowing all plays to be reviewed. The Washington Redskins wanted personal fouls to be reviewed.
Less than 50 percent of coaches supported the measure to make all plays reviewable, according to the Competition Committee. The committee said the topic inspired a lot of debate.
- The proposal to move the kickoff to the 40-yard line was shot down. So was their idea to eliminate the training camp roster cutdown to 75 players.
- The proposal to move the extra point back to the 25-yard line failed, but the league will experiment with a new extra-point system during the preseason. Extra points in Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason will be snapped from the 20-yard line. (Making them like a 37-yard field goal.)
- The proposal to allow an unlimited number of players on injured reserve to return to the active roster failed. Jeff Fisher of the Competition Committee said that vote wasn’t close.
No decision yet
- The abolition of overtime in the preseason was tabled until May.
- The idea to expand the practice squad from eight to ten players was also tabled. The same goes for expanding rosters for Thursday night games to 49 from 46.
- The league also put off deciding whether to allow teams to open their roof during halftime at games for weather reasons.
- The Competition Committee told the Patriots that it will look at the possibility of adding cameras to all goal lines, side lines and end lines. The NFL will discuss the possibility with its broadcast partners.
RELATED: NFL approves rule that changes the replay process
ORLANDO, Fla. — NFL owners voted to significantly change the instant replay process.
The league announced owners voted to pass Rule Proposal 9 at the 2014 NFL Annual Meeting, which says that referees can consult with the officiating department in New York during replay reviews.
This proposal always had a wide swath of support throughout the league because there is belief it will improve accuracy and speed during replay reviews. The existing NFL Officiating Command Center in New York immediately will begin to review replays after the call is challenged. By the time the referee gets to his “booth,” the command center can advise the referee on what to look for in the play. The referee ultimately makes the final choice on the play.
It’s hard to see the downside of this rule. It should prevent obvious mistakes from happening.
The league also voted to ban “roll up” blocks to the side of a player’s leg. This is a tweak of the rule that bans these blocks from behind. It should help mostly defensive players, and is a relatively minor adjustment on the previous rule.
The rest of the rules and bylaws proposals are expected to be voted on during Wednesday’s session (see above).
2014 NFL DRAFT ORDER: Official round-by-round order including the compensatory draft picks awarded by the league
The official round-by-round order for the 2014 NFL Draft, including the 32 compensatory picks awarded to 13 different teams:
1. Houston Texans
1 (33). Houston Texans
1 (65). Houston Texans
1 (101). Houston Texans
1 (141). Houston Texans
1 (177). Houston Texans
1 (216). Houston Texans
Compensatory picks cannot be traded
PHOTO: Larry Allen (Dallas, Round 2, Pick No. 46 overall, 1994)
Larry Allen is the only compensatory draft pick in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had quite a career in the NFL, starting 197 of 203 games and making 11 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams. He was voted to both the NFL’s 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams.
A total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2014 NFL Draft have been awarded to 13 teams.
Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four.
The 2014 NFL Draft takes place on May 8 to 10, and will be televised live on NFL Network.
Here are the teams receiving compensatory picks this year, with the round and overall number of each pick:
Atlanta Falcons: 4th round (139), 7th round (253, 255)
Baltimore Ravens: 3rd round (99), 4th round (134, 138), 5th round (175)
Cincinnati Bengals: 6th round (212), 7th round (252)
Dallas Cowboys: 7th round (248, 251, 254)
Detroit Lions: 4th round (133, 136)
Green Bay Packers: 3rd round (98), 5th round (176)
Houston Texans: 4th round (135), 6th round (211), 7th round (256)
New England Patriots: 4th round (140)
New York Giants: 5th round (174)
New York Jets: 4th round (137), 6th round (209, 210, 213)
Pittsburgh Steelers: 3rd round (97), 5th round (173), 6th round (215)
San Francisco 49ers: 3rd round (100)
St. Louis Rams: 6th round (214), 7th round (249, 250)
Compensatory free agents lost and signed by the clubs that will receive compensatory picks in 2014:
Atlanta Falcons: Lost: Brent Grimes, Luke McCown (did not qualify), Christopher Owens, Will Svitek, Vance Walker. Signed: Osi Umenyiora. Baltimore Ravens: Lost: Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Cary Williams. Signed: None. Cincinnati Bengals: Lost: Josh Brown, Bruce Gradkowski, Manny Lawson, Brian Leonard (did not qualify), Pat Sims, Dan Skuta. Signed: Josh Johnson, Mike Pollak, Alex Smith. Dallas Cowboys: Lost: Victor Butler, Kenyon Coleman, Mike Jenkins, John Phillips. Signed: Justin Durant. Detroit Lions: Lost: Cliff Avril, Gosder Cherilus, Justin Durant, Drayton Florence, Sammie Lee Hill. Signed: Reggie Bush, Jason Jones, Glover Quin. Green Bay Packers: Lost: Greg Jennings, Erik Walden. Signed: None. Houston Texans: Lost: Alan Ball, Connor Barwin, James Casey, Justin Forsett, Donnie Jones, Glover Quin. Signed: Greg Jones, Shane Lechler, Ed Reed. New England Patriots: Lost: Patrick Chung, Donald Thomas, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead. Signed: Danny Amendola, Isaac Sopoaga, Will Svitek. New York Giants: Lost: Martellus Bennett, Chase Blackburn, Domenik Hixon, Osi Umenyiora. Signed: Josh Brown, Ryan Mundy, Brandon Myers. New York Jets: Lost: Yeremiah Bell, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, LaRon Landry, Matt Slauson. Signed: Antwan Barnes, Mike Goodson. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lost: Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy, Mike Wallace. Signed: Bruce Gradkowski. San Francisco 49ers: Lost: Ted Ginn, Dashon Goldson, Ricky Jean Francois, Isaac Sopoaga, Delanie Walker. Signed: Craig Dahl, Phil Dawson, Glenn Dorsey, Dan Skuta. St. Louis Rams: Lost: Danny Amendola, Craig Dahl, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Gibson, Robert Turner. Signed: Jared Cook, Jake Long.
It’s no secret the Dallas Cowboys have one of the tightest salary-cap situations in the NFL. Some unexpected relief came from the league.
The NFL set the cap at $133 million, instead of the $126.3 million figure that was originally expected.
At $126.3 million, the Dallas Cowboys were projected to be a league-high $31 million over the cap. March 11 is the deadline for teams to slip under the cap.
While the new projection offers the Cowboys a couple million dollars of relief, it doesn’t save them from having to make tough decisions about key players.
The cap is primed to soar even higher in 2015, after money from the league’s new television deals enter the equation.
The cap rise is good news for both teams seeking cap maneuverability and players who now begin to taste the fruits tied to the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011. The structure of the CBA and the timing of the television deals sets the players up well from 2015 to 2020.
HONOLULU — The NFL wanted Pro Bowl drama. The NFL got Pro Bowl drama.
Alex Smith, the final pick in last Wednesday’s Pro Bowl Draft, led Team Rice on the final touchdown drive on a rain-soaked field. Then Jerry Rice and Riverboat Ron Rivera went for two and clinched a 22-21 win over Team Sanders in the first unconferenced Pro Bowl.
This was the best Pro Bowl in a long, long time.
Here’s what else we learned from Sunday’s game (Watch highlight video):
1. Even if the banter was manufactured by the 2014 Pro Bowl Draft, players after the game said they enjoyed the process and the opportunity to play with guys they never had a chance to team with before. It was a theme all week.
2. Teammates hitting each other didn’t seem like a big deal. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson laid the wood on teammate Jamaal Charles early. Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward later flipped Josh Gordon to the ground. We never did get that teammate-on-quarterback sack, though.
3. Speaking of quarterback sacks, the defensive lines dominated. The two teams ended up with nine sacks. Early in the contest, we wondered if Sean Payton would call Team Rice’s coach (and division rival) Ron Rivera and ask him to sit Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback was sacked twice and battered often. The QB pressures were a big reason for all the turnovers.
4. J.J. Watt was a beast. Playing next to Ndamukong Suh and later Greg Hardy, Watt was unblockable. With Team Rice double-teaming Watt, Hardy picked up a sack. Don’t think management in Houston didn’t see that and ponder what Jadeveon Clowney would look like next to Watt.
5. The playful teammate trash talk was constant and likely will linger in texts and tweets the next couple days. Mike Tolbert’s SuperCam mock-celebration after his two-point conversion was emblematic. “I told Cam I was going to mess with him if I got in the end zone, so I had to,” Tolbert said laughing.
6. The lack of continuity on offense clearly hurt the product. Not only were there fewer teammate combinations due to the draft, the new format also lessened the practice time by one day. There were a multitude of miscommunications between quarterback and receiver.
7. Speaking of teammates, Drew Brees hit Jimmy Graham for an early touchdown pass. On the play, Brent Grimes (all 5-foot-10 of him) ended up on the 6-foot-7 tight end. That, friends, is a mismatch.
8. What was going through Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe’s mind as he rumbled toward the end zone after his second-quarter interception? “I was thinking of a touchdown celebration dance,” Poe said after the game. “I didn’t get there, but next time I will though.”
ROAD TO THE 2014 NFL DRAFT: Senior Bowl 2014 | NFL Draft Prospects showcased in today’s game on NFL Network
Future stars of the NFL will hit the field in Mobile, Ala. for the 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl at 3:00 this afternoon. Check out the pro football talent scouted by the Cowboys and imagine how some of these young men might fit on the Dallas Cowboys 2014-2015 roster.
Last year’s Senior Bowl class produced a whopping 10 first-rounders, three top-five selections and the No. 1 overall pick.
1. Injuries forced many top prospects to pass on the Senior Bowl: Top talents like Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and UCLA LB Anthony Barr were among the 19 invited players that weren’t healthy enough to participate.
2. Nine invited prospects made a “business” decision to stay at home: Alabama QB AJ McCarron made headlines prior to the week when he announced he would pass on the Senior Bowl opportunity on the advice of his agent. He wasn’t the only player to make that choice. Top prospects C.J. Mosley and Khalil Mack were among the other healthy prospects that elected to pass on the Senior Bowl experience.
3. The upcoming draft will feature a record number of underclassmen: This Senior Bowl crop will be competing for draft positioning with one of the most talented underclassmen groups we’ve seen in a few years.
While there likely won’t be any top-10 picks to emerge from this year’s game, don’t be surprised if six players hear their name called in the first round of the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft.
1. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame #70): He was outstanding all week long. He has enough athleticism to play tackle, but he has Pro Bowl potential as a guard.
2. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: His combination of quickness and power was a matchup nightmare for opposing offensive lineman. He doesn’t have ideal size, but he held up well in the team and run periods.
3. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia: He has ideal size and quick feet. He’s not a great knee bender, but he held up well in 1-on-1 pass-rush drills. He creates a lot of space in the run game.
4. Ra’Shede Hagemen, DT, Minnesota: He had an up-and-down week, but he flashed enough to keep his name in the first-round conversation. He’s a size/speed freak with a huge upside.
5. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: He was the best quarterback in Mobile, and teams that met with him really like what they heard. He has a big arm and he was accurate throughout the week.
6. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: He was the most explosive edge rusher throughout the week. Most teams I’ve spoken with have him rated as a second-round prospect, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he snuck into the bottom of the first round because of his pass-rush skills.
Odds and ends
Best position group: Offensive line
Worst position group: Running back
Stock on the rise: Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Stock on the decline: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
Wildcard player: Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
Three to imagine in a Dallas Cowboys jersey
The Reese’s Senior Bowl is regarded as the crown jewel of the college all-star season, with elite prospects dotting the rosters at every position. Given the importance scouts place on the performance of players in highly competitive matchups, the practice week and game tape provide the answers to many of the questions evaluators have about the top prospects in the 2014 class. With that in mind, here are three guys with a lot riding on their performance this weekend:
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, #99 Minnesota (photo above)
It’s hard to find a talented interior defender blessed with Hageman’s size and athletic gifts. Measuring 6-foot-6, 311 pounds, Hageman glides across the field like a gazelle, yet flashes explosive strength and power at the point of attack. While scouts are certainly fascinated by his physical tools and unlimited potential, Hageman’s marginal production and inconsistent motor keep him from rating as an elite prospect at the point. Now, Hageman has changed the perception of his game by dominating the competition in practice this week, but scouts need to see him take it to another level when the lights come on to solidify his standing as a mid-to-late first-round selection.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
The league is trending toward bigger corners on the perimeter after watching the Seattle Seahawks make their way to Super Bowl XLVIII behind a physically imposing secondary that features long, rangy athletes on the outside. Jean-Baptiste is a former wide receiver turned cornerback with impressive physical dimensions (6-3, 220) and ball skills. He has been the top cornerback in attendance, displaying a refined game that is ideally suited to play in a scheme that features press-man coverage extensively. Although Jean-Baptiste has made a strong case to be in the discussion as a borderline Day 1 selection, a spectacular performance in the game could send the Nebraska star flying up the charts.
Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn (photo above)
Scouts pay close attention to players who dominate the practice week at the Senior Bowl. Ford has not only thrashed opponents in drills, he has produced a number of disruptive plays that would qualify as game changers at the next level. Although he flashed that kind of potential occasionally at Auburn, no one expected him to destroy the competition with his speed, burst and athleticism off the edge. In doing so, Ford has convinced several scouts and coaches that his skills translate well to the NFL as a designated pass rusher. If Ford can continue to display the quickness, burst and rush skills in the game that he has shown throughout the week, Ford will be one of the fastest risers up the charts heading into the combine.
Two quarterbacks to watch
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
The NFL scouting community has been buzzing about Carr’s potential as a franchise quarterback since his emergence as a standout playmaker the past two seasons. He has lit up the Mountain West Conference for 9,086 yards and 87 touchdowns against only 15 interceptions. Most impressively, he has displayed a lively arm to match his superb athleticism and improvisational skills. Yet, some scouts still question his poise and composure within a muddied pocket. This was one of his biggest flaws discovered in his 2012 tape (junior season), and it reappeared in a disappointing showing against USC in the Las Vegas Bowl. With another opportunity to show his wares against a squad with NFL-caliber players at every turn, Carr needs to show scouts that he can deliver pinpoint throws with defenders in close proximity. In addition, he must show coaches that he has the poise to work through his progressions to find an open receiver with the pocket crumbling around him. If he can withstand the pressure, while making a few accurate throws downfield, Carr could leave the Senior Bowl rated as the top senior quarterback in the draft.
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
There are some scouts who believe Thomas is better suited to play tight end at the next level, but his combination of size and arm talent makes him too enticing to disregard as a quarterback. Thomas has enjoyed an up-and-down week of practice, but his flashes have been impressive enough to keep his name in the mix as a developmental quarterback prospect. With the NFL ushering in a new wave of athletic quarterbacks, Thomas’ performance in the game could significantly impact his chances of getting a legitimate shot to play his preferred position as a pro.
The NFL is starting over with the Pro Bowl.
The NFL originally announced radical changes to the format of the All-Star game back in May, eliminating the traditional AFC vs. NFC matchup in favor of a fantasy draft-like roster selection.
Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will serve as alumni captains, choosing two rosters with the help of two NFL.com fantasy users.
The NFL and NFLPA distributed a joint press release, explaining that the changes are designed to make the Pro Bowl “the ultimate fan-friendly celebration of the game.”
“As players, we wanted to keep the Pro Bowl to honor excellence in individual performance and connect with the fans in a different environment,” said NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth, who proposed the changes to the game. “To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas.”
Under the new format, players will be selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players.
Players will be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft, which will air (tonight) on Wednesday, Jan. 22, on NFL Network.
The 2014 Pro Bowl will be held on Sunday, Jan. 26, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
- Game within the Game: A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter. This will increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct “two-minute drills,” which are especially exciting for fans.
- No Kickoffs: The coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first. The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.
- Rosters: The rosters will continue to consist of 43 players per squad. The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.
- Cover Two and Press Coverage: The defense will be permitted to play “cover two” and “press” coverage. In previous years, only “man” coverage was permitted, except for goal-line situations.
- Stopping of the Game Clock: Beginning at the two-minute mark of every quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the clock will stop as if the play were an incomplete pass. This rule will make the team with the ball attempt to gain yardage toward the end of each quarter.
- Game Timing: The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the signal of the referee, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.
- Play Clock: A 35-second/25-second play clock will be adopted instead of the typical 40-second/25-second clock.
- Sacks: The game clock will not stop on quarterback sacks outside of the final two minutes of the game. Currently, the game clock stops in these situations outside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.
Check out the new NFL Pro Bowl page for much more detailed information about the NFL’s All-Star game!
TOP NFL FREE AGENTS 2014: Pro Bowl bound Dallas Cowboys DT Jason Hatcher among NFL’s top 25 Free Agents
As the NFL’s 2013-2014 season comes to a close, let’s take a first glance at the 2014 NFL free-agent market.
It’s early in the offseason process. Franchise tags have yet to be discussed. There’s still time for clubs to lock up young stars to long-term contracts. Many of these names will be removed from consideration by the time the upcoming 2014 NFL free agents list is compiled in early March.
This list places the highest value on ascendant players with little or no reason to expect a dropoff in production over the next few years.
Here’s the Top-25 NFL Free Agents for 2014:
1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints tight end
2. Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers defensive end
3. Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins linebacker
4. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills safety
5. T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns safety
6. Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans cornerback
7. Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs left tackle
8. Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end
9. Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders defensive end
10. Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins cornerback
11. Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens left tackle
12. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts cornerback
13. Linval Joseph, New York Giants defensive tackle
14. Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle
15. Jared Veldheer, Oakland Raiders left tackle
16. Aqib Talib, New England Patriots cornerback
17. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos cornerback
18. Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns center
19. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos wide receiver
20. Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks defensive end
21. B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers defensive tackle
22. Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers cornerback
23. Walter Thurmond, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
24. Donald Butler, San Diego Chargers linebacker
25. Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle
RELATED: Jason Hatcher added to NFL’s Pro Bowl 2013-2014 Roster
IRVING, Texas – And now the Dallas Cowboys have three Pro Bowlers. And once again, it’s a first-timer headed to Hawaii.
Jason Hatcher has been added to the Pro Bowl roster, replacing the spot of Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, who will not play for injury reasons.
Hatcher led all NFL defensive tackles in sacks last year with a career-high 11 as just edged out Tennessee’s Jurrell Casey with 10.5.
Hatcher had the most sacks by a Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle since Randy White had 12.5 in 1984.
He was the first player other than DeMarcus Ware to have the team’s outright sack title since 2004 when Greg Ellis had nine. Hatcher’s 11 sacks was the first double-digit finish other than Ware since Tony Tolbert’s 12 in 1996.
Along with his team-high in sacks, Hatcher was second on the team with 33 quarterback pressures, just behind Ware’s 35. Hatcher and George Selvie tied for the team lead with seven tackles for loss and his 48 tackles ranked eighth on the defense.
Hatcher, who is an unrestricted free agent, has openly said he will test the free-agent market come March, so it’s very likely this game in Hawaii could be his last in a Dallas Cowboys helmet. However, he also said he thought he wouldn’t return to the Cowboys in 2011, but signed a three-year deal to remain in Dallas.
It happens a lot in the NFL: The dazzling revolutions of September and October — the promise of a new-fangled Wildcat or read-option or run-and-shoot paradigm that will change everything — often fall by the wayside in the bitter rain and snow and cold of January, when football returns to the eternal verities of truth and reality.
So it is this year.
In a season during which passing and scoring records fell, all four Championship Sunday participants (including the one that set those records) relied on the timeless formula last weekend: run the ball effectively, control the clock, play solid defense and make the other team earn every point it scores.
You could see evidence of the back-to-basics approach in every divisional-round game:
- Russell Wilson’s passing was mostly grounded, and the oft-injured Percy Harvin was knocked out of the action with a concussion, but the Seahawks still took down the Saints. Seattle won behind tackle-breaking machine Marshawn Lynch (in postseason Beast Mode, evidently) and a suffocating defense that rattled New Orleans’ top weapon, Jimmy Graham.
- New England, decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball (along with, it has to be said, the murder charge against tight end Aaron Hernandez), has fewer difference-makers than it has had at any time in recent memory. But LeGarrette Blount was the blunt force that the Patriots used to pound the Colts’ defense into submission. Meanwhile, the Pats’ myriad defensive looks frustrated Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, who threw four interceptions.
- San Francisco won its second road playoff contest in eight days, thanks in large part to a defense that stonewalled Carolina’s running game (Cam Newton was the only Panther to eclipse 20 yards rushing) and snagged two interceptions. Offensively, the 49ers employed a balanced attack: Frank Gore led the charge on the ground while Colin Kaepernick made some timely plays through the air, leaning heavily on veteran gamer Anquan Boldin.
- Denver used San Diego’s own formula from the regular season — control the ball, shorten the game, manage the clock (35:27 of possession) — to keep the Chargers on their heels all day long. Denver’s defense missed Von Miller’s havoc-wreaking presence but stiffened enough to allow the Bolts just 65 yards rushing, less than half of what the Broncos churned out in a winning effort.
Each one of the four divisional-round winners exceeded 125 yards rushing. After setting the single-season record with an astounding 5,477 passing yards, Peyton Manning threw for just 230, with the other three winning quarterbacks failing to reach 200. Glamour QBs Tom Brady and Wilson didn’t even throw a single touchdown pass.
There is, of course, a long tradition of returning to the run game in the postseason. Go back 45 years to the New York Jets’ memorable defeat of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. New York was led by Joe Namath, who was one season removed from becoming the first quarterback in pro football history to throw for 4,000 yards, but the Jets ran more than they passed on that day (logging 43 carries and 29 throws), to control the clock and the Colts. (A year later, the Kansas City Chiefs — another team known for offensive daring and innovation — rushed the ball 42 times for 151 yards to dominate the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.)
These things were true 45 years ago, and they still might be true 45 years from now.
In recent years, we’ve seen running backs de-emphasized on draft day. Yet, by the time the playoffs roll around, the best teams almost always have a solid run game in place.
The star of the divisional weekend, Blount, went undrafted out of college and was pawned off by the Buccaneers this past offseason — yet he’s been unstoppable for the Patriots of late. Marshawn Lynch was a first-round draft choice, but the Bills gave up on him before the Seahawks recast him as their most reliable offensive threat. Knowshon Moreno’s demise had been rumored for years in Denver, but this season he’s been a steady all-around back who doesn’t fumble (and a strong blocker, to boot). Frank Gore is a former third-round pick — thanks in part to some injury baggage from college — who has developed a reputation as a tough inside runner, and his efficiency boosts both the passing game and Kaepernick’s devastatingly effective keepers.
So why does this happen so often? Why do the gaudy passing numbers of the regular season frequently get supplanted by the meat and potatoes of old-school football in the new year? Simple reasons, mostly:
Better defense: Playoff teams are generally more accomplished defensively, meaning each opponent has a formidable pass rush. The best way to neutralize this is to have a running game that the defense has to take seriously.
Weather: So Peyton Manning isn’t as good in cold-weather games? Guess what: He’s not alone — not by a long shot. Show me a quarterback who consistently overperforms in freezing temperatures and snow, and I’ll show you an anomaly. Cold weather leads to numb hands, making it very difficult to execute the touch throws that separate the great quarterbacks from the good ones. And while receivers enjoy a slight advantage over defensive backs in terms of footing — because they know where they’re going — it’s much harder to catch a rifled pass in sub-freezing weather than it is on a room-temperature day. (If you’ve never tried it, just trust me.)
Dangerous opposing quarterbacks: You can get away with a quick, drive-killing string of incompletions — or even a turnover — when the quarterback on the other side is an untested rookie/journeyman who lacks pocket presence. But do that in a playoff game against a Manning or Brady, and you’re going to get burned. That’s why it’s all the more important to control the football and minimize mistakes.
Throwback football will be on full display in the NFC Championship Game, as the style fits the personalities of the coaches very well. A physical running game is a large part of the DNA both Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh used to build their respective teams.
It’s a bit different on the AFC side. New England’s commitment to the run is simply Bill Belichick’s adaptation to a roster that’s currently short on difference-making receivers and tight ends. The Pats very well could go back to being a top-five passing attack and the league’s top-ranked offense next season if they can come up with the right group of receivers for Brady. On the other hand, Denver is only committed to the run as long as you stay in a loose shell defense that begs the Broncos to use it.
In each game, though, both teams will look to assert their will by establishing a ground attack. And the ones that do so best will likely meet in New Jersey in February.
AFC WILD-CARD ROUND
NFC WILD-CARD ROUND
SATURDAY, JAN. 4, AND SUNDAY, JAN. 5, times TBA
SATURDAY, JAN. 4, AND SUNDAY, JAN. 5, times TBA
No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs at
No. 4 Indianapolis Colts
No. 5 San Francisco 49ers at
No. 4 Green Bay Packers
No. 6 San Diego Chargers at
No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals
No. 6 New Orleans Saints at
No. 3 Philadelphia Eagles
AFC DIVISIONAL ROUND
NFC DIVISIONAL ROUND
SATURDAY, JAN. 11, AND SUNDAY, JAN. 12, times TBA
SATURDAY, JAN. 11, AND SUNDAY, JAN. 12, times TBA
No. 1 Denver Broncos
No. 1 Seattle Seahawks
No. 2 New England Patriots
No. 2 Carolina Panthers
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
SUNDAY, JAN. 19, time TBA
SUNDAY, JAN. 19, time TBA
TBA at TBA
TBA at TBA
SUPER BOWL XLVIII
SUNDAY, FEB. 2, 6:30 p.m. ET
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Owner Jerry Jones does not want to discuss the future of coach Jason Garrett while the Dallas Cowboys remain in the playoff hunt. That much is abundantly clear.
If the Cowboys fail on national television with a chance to win the division for the third consecutive season finale, though, all bets are off.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported on Monday’s edition of NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” that jobs are indeed on the line in Dallas.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones told Silver that everybody in the organization is under pressure to perform for their jobs over the next two weeks. That includes “players, coaches, executives — everybody.”
Although ownership has given Garrett a vote of confidence regardless of the season’s outcome, that sentiment appears to have changed after the younger Jones referred to Sunday’s loss as one of the top-five most “brutal moments” in the 25 years he and his father have run the Cowboys.
Several people inside the Cowboys’ building have told Rapoport that nobody believes Jerry’s pledge to keep Garrett on board. In fact, the consensus is that it’s now “playoffs or bust” for Garrett’s livelihood in Dallas.
The front office changed defensive coordinators and play callers after the last two 8-8 seasons. If there’s a third, Garrett is expected to be the “next domino to fall,” per Silver.
There is an understanding at Valley Ranch that the talent level isn’t up to par, especially on defense. There’s also frustration among teammates that Romo has continued to audible from the run to the pass.
Those two factors aren’t enough to give Garrett a pass considering the ongoing struggles with game planning, play calling and time management in close games. The Week 17 showdown versus the Eagles might very well decide this coaching staff’s fate for the 2014 season.
NFLN: Prater’s NFL-Record 64-Yard FG | Watch Video
Kicker Matt Prater set a new NFL record when he kicked a 64-yard field goal through the uprights at the end of the first half against the Tennessee Titans in Week 14.
Last Sunday, kicker Matt Prater took down Tom Dempsey and the legendary 63-yard field-goal record when he banged a 64-yard attempt through the uprights in Denver.
Dempsey’s regular-season mark stood for exactly 43 years and one month. Three men in history tied the 1970 record: Jason Elam (1998), Sebastian Janikowski (2011) and David Akers (2012).
None until Prater could surpass the legend.
No kicker in four decades of football could muster that extra yard to outdo Dempsey. In honor of Matt Prater and all the men who went before him in the valiant effort to kick balls from deep, we give you a look at the failed attempts to break the record.
|FG attempts of 64-plus yards|
|Player||Team||Date||Quarter||Length of miss|
|Sebastian Janikowski||Oakland Raiders||9/28/2008||2||76|
|Joe Danelo||New York Giants||10/28/1979||2||74|
|Mark Moseley||Washington Redskins||11/25/1979||4||74|
|Fred Steinfort||New England Patriots||9/29/1980||2||73|
|Phil Dawson||San Francisco 49ers||9/26/2013||2||71|
|Mark Moseley||Washington Redskins||9/2/1979||4||70|
|Mason Crosby||Green Bay Packers||12/28/2008||2||69|
|John Hall||New York Jets||10/19/1997||2||68|
|Neil Rackers||Arizona Cardinals||11/23/2008||2||68|
|Jan Stenerud||Kansas City Chiefs||9/21/1975||2||67|
|Steve Cox||Washington Redskins||12/20/1987||4||67|
|Ali Haji-Sheikh||New York Giants||10/24/1983||4||66|
|Jason Elam||Denver Broncos||12/10/1995||2||66|
|Sebastian Janikowski||Oakland Raiders||12/13/2009||2||66|
|Robbie Gould||Chicago Bears||12/1/2013||4||66|
|Greg Zuerlein||St. Louis Rams||10/14/2012||4||66|
|Steve Christie||Buffalo Bills||11/2/1992||2||65|
|Jason Elam||Denver Broncos||9/10/2001||2||65|
|Jason Hanson||Detroit Lions||10/14/2001||2||65|
|John Kasay||Carolina Panthers||10/29/2006||2||65|
|Jeff Reed||Pittsburgh Steelers||10/21/2007||2||65|
|Raul Allegre||Baltimore Colts||12/11/1983||4||64|
|Steve Cox||Cleveland Browns||12/2/1984||4||64|
|Jason Elam||Denver Broncos||12/19/1997||2||64|
|Neil Rackers||Arizona Cardinals||10/31/2004||2||64|
|Sebastian Janikowski||Oakland Raiders||11/4/2007||2||64|
|Sebastian Janikowski||Oakland Raiders||10/21/2012||4||64|
When Green Bay visits Dallas on Dec. 15, it could be a crucial game for the Cowboys’ playoff hopes.
And the Packers might come to Texas without their star quarterback.
There’s speculation (from the drama queens at NFL.com) that if Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) can’t play next week against Atlanta, Green Bay might shut the quarterback down for the season, if the Packers are out of the playoff race.
Rodgers, who did not play in Thursday’s loss to Detroit, was cleared to practice on a limited basis earlier this week and did some throwing on the field Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Packers are 5-6-1 and in third place in the NFC North.
When asked Friday whether Rodgers has a chance to play against Atlanta, coach Mike McCarthy replied, “I don’t know that.”
“I just know when we came off the field Wednesday that he wasn’t ready to play yet,” McCarthy added. “So, we’ll see how the testing goes. But it needs to be the right thing. I know he wants to play, I know he’s trying to gear up each and every week to play, but we’ll see what happens next week.”
Feeling the sting of the Packers’ most lopsided loss since they fell 35-0 at home against New England in McCarthy’s first season as coach in 2006, at least one frustrated player commented on how much Rodgers has been missed.
Green Bay didn’t have a victory in its five November games after Rodgers went out after the first series of the loss to Chicago on Nov. 4. The last time the Packers were winless in a full month of games was December 1990, when they went 0-5.
“It definitely made things a lot more difficult without Aaron,” left guard Josh Sitton said Thursday. “I think we all know that. There’s no denying that. You can’t say, ‘Hey, we can go and play just as good without Aaron.’ We haven’t won a game without him in five weeks. He’s the best player on this team. Yeah, we need him, but there’s a lot more going on than just that.”
Navajo Code Talkers Attend Game
A leader of the Navajo Code Talkers who appeared at a Washington Redskins home football game said Wednesday the team name is a symbol of loyalty and courage — not a slur as asserted by critics who want it changed.
Roy Hawthorne, 87, of Lupton, Ariz., was one of four Code Talkers honored for their service in World War II during the Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Hawthorne, vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, said the group’s trip was paid for by the Redskins. The four men met briefly with team owner Dan Snyder but did not discuss the name, Hawthorne said. Still, he said he would endorse the name if asked, and the televised appearance in which three of the Indians wore Redskins jackets spoke for itself.
“We didn’t have that in mind but that is undoubtedly what we did do,” Hawthorne said when asked if he was intending to send a statement with the appearance. “My opinion is that’s a name that not only the team should keep, but that’s a name that’s American.”
Monday night’s brief, on-field ceremony came as some Indians and civil rights leaders wage a “Change the Mascot” campaign that targets the term redskins as a racial epithet.
Jacqueline Pata, head of the National Congress of American Indians, called the appearance “a political play rather than a heartfelt recognition of the Code Talkers.”
Pata, a member of the Tlingit Tribe of Alaska, said she reveres the Code Talkers for the work they have done but added that people often fail to recognize that the origins of the term “redskin” date to a period when Indians faced efforts to annihilate their culture.
“We were outlawed during that same period the mascot was created from practicing our own religion and our own cultures,” she said. “That term is associated with getting rid of the Indians.”
Snyder has called the team name and mascot a “badge of honor.” The name dates to the team’s first years in Boston in the 1930s and has survived numerous outside efforts to change it. The team has been in the Washington, D.C., area since 1937.
Redskins senior vice president Tony Wyllie said there was no truth to suggestions that the Code Talkers were used to bolster the team’s resistance to a new name.
“They’re American heroes, and they deserved recognition,” he said.
Also attending Monday’s game were Code Talkers president Peter MacDonald Sr., George Willie Sr. and George James Sr.
The Navajo Code Talkers used codes derived from their native language to shield military communications from interception by Japanese troops. Hawthorne said there are now about 30 surviving Code Talkers.
The trip to Washington was the second this month for Hawthorne, who last week joined Code Talkers from other tribes who received Congressional Gold Medals for the role they played in World War I and World War II. Members of the Navajo were recognized in 2000.
Redskins Nation Report
COWBOYS GIANTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Jersey boys want to give Dez Bryant some of his own medicine | 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said the game is “like a Super Bowl to us,” which actually kind of makes sense. At 4-6, the Giants are working with a razor-thin margin of error. It’s not win-or-go-home, though it might as well be.
Yesterday, Giants safety Will Hill turned his attention to Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. Hill offered up the defense’s strategy on how to unsettle the All-Pro.
“Get your hands on him,” Hill said, via NJ.com. “He doesn’t like to be touched, like most receivers in this league. But really him. He doesn’t like to be touched.”
“You just have to be physical with him,” cornerback Prince Amukamara agreed. “He’s a big guy. You just have to use his medicine against him. I think that is the key.”
Consider Bryant a sleeping giant right now. The Dallas Cowboys targeting their best player a grand total of two times, in what should have been a shootout with the New Orleans Saints.
You can safely assume coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan have drawn up a game plan this week that calls for Tony Romo to look Bryant’s way early and often. We’ll see if the Giants’ handsy game plan has any effect.
One of four NFL teams without a Super Bowl appearance, the Cleveland Browns finally have a tangible sign of their eight championships prior to the modern era.
Digging through a box in his North Carolina garage as part of the reality show “Garage Gold” on the DIY Network, the grandson of a former team minority owner found a trophy commemorating the 1946 All-America Football Conference championship.
The AAFC did not present teams with trophies, so the 38 players commissioned a pair for owner Arthur B. McBride and minority owner Daniel Sherby.
The 1946 season not only jumpstarted the Browns franchise, but was also the first of 10 consecutive seasons in the title game under Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown.
The Browns won AAFC titles in 1946, ’47, ’48 and ’49, and then won the NFL title in their first year in the league in 1950. The NFL did not hand out permanent championship trophies until 1966.
“We did not know that this one existed at all,” Browns alumni relations manager Tony Dick said after returning from North Carolina this week, via the Chronicle-Telegram. “It’s pretty special that we actually have something that’s physical and you can look and it says that we’ve won a championship.”
The Browns will work with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to decide where the trophy is displayed. If it ends up at the refurbished team headquarters in Berea, the Browns will have a surrogate connection to their halcyon days to overshadow the manufactured motivation that stands as a daily reminder of the “Factory of Sadness” era.
Courtesy: Chris Wesseling | The official NFL website writer