The Dallas Cowboys missed the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop watching NFL games.
There are four games on tap this weekend:
Will home-field advantage be established this weekend?
A thrilling Wild Card Weekend saw three road teams prevail in hostile environments — setting up another enticing batch of games. Noting the surprising success enjoyed by visitors this past weekend, which road team is most likely to prevail in the divisional round?
The divisional round pits eight of the best quarterbacks in the NFL against one another.
Drew Brees versus Russell Wilson. Andrew Luck against Tom Brady. Colin Kaepernick battles Cam Newton. To top it all off, Philip Rivers will once again take on Peyton Manning in the final game of the weekend.
Whether it’s two young quarterbacks battling to prove who is the better dual-threat signal-caller, a showdown of sophomores versus veterans or two of the most experienced minds in the game facing off, this weekend packs a lot of offensive punch.
Which teams will survive this hurdle in the race toward Super Bowl XLVIII 48?
The Dallas Cowboys missed the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop watching NFL games.
Can home-field advantage can be established this year?
In the NFC, the 49ers and Saints are considered better teams than their home opponents, but both teams travel into tough weather conditions. In the AFC, the Colts were 6-2 at home in the regular season, but they’ve shown signs of being vulnerable.
And then there’s Green Bay. Since 2002, the Packers are 3-4 at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. That mark was 13-0 before ’02.
|KANSAS CITY CHIEFS||INDIANAPOLIS COLTS|
|NEW ORLEANS SAINTS||PHILADELPHIA EAGLES|
|SAN DIEGO CHARGERS||CINCINNATI BENGALS|
|SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS||GREEN BAY PACKERS|
So how wild will this weekend’s wild-card playoff games be?
A high-scoring game is expected Saturday night when the New Orleans Saints visit the Philadelphia Eagles. An Ice Bowl-like game is expected when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Can the Indianapolis Colts repeat their 16-point win from Week 16 over Kansas City on Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium? Anything can happen in the San Diego-Cincinnati game Sunday.
Which teams will survive the first hurdle in the race toward Super Bowl XLVIII?
The Dallas Cowboys have filled their roster with the 53rd player on Tuesday, acquiring rookie linebacker/defensive end Caesar Rayford from the Colts.
The Cowboys have sent a late round (undisclosed) draft pick to Indy in exchange for the undrafted rookie, who started out with the Redskins before joining the Colts in May. Rayford made their roster, only to be sent to the Cowboys three days later.
Rayford had five sacks for the Colts, not only leading the team, but all NFL players in the preseason.
He’s considered a rangy player with long arms. Rayford ran a 4.56 in the 40 coming out of college at the Univ. of Washington. He’s also shown the ability to block kicks.
Rayford went undrafted out of Washington in 2008 and spent the last four years in the Arena Football League, where he had 28.5 sacks with the Utah Blaze. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound defensive end signed with the Colts in May and had a team-high five sacks, four tackle for loss and five quarterback hits in preseason. He also had two forced fumbles.
Rayford also played for the British Columbia Lions of the CFL and Spokane Shock of the Arena League.
Rayford came out of nowhere this summer, piling up a league-leading five sacks in the preseason. The undrafted defender — who projects as a 4-3 end in Dallas — earned high praise from Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who called Rayford a “football junkie.”
Rayford, 27, fills out the roster after the Cowboys had an empty spot after trading veteran tight end Dante Rosario. This is the fourth trade the Cowboys have made since Saturday. They’ve acquired Edgar Jones from the Chiefs, traded Sean Lissemore to the Chargers and Rosario to Chicago.
The trade might suggest the Cowboys are not that confident in Anthony Spencer’s return from a knee injury. Spencer has yet to practice since the first few days of training camp, before he underwent a scope on his knee.
Currently, the Cowboys are prepared to play George Selvie and Kyle Wilber at the end positions if Spencer doesn’t play.
After 17 grueling weeks, the playoffs are finally here. The seeds are set and the field is stacked.
A quick look at the 12 teams that survived to play another game. Here’s a case for and against each squad in the race to Super Bowl XLVII:
1) Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
How do they make a deep run? The Falcons continue to be an excellent home team. The running game provides just enough balance to complement a potent passing attack, and the defense routinely baffles elite quarterbacks, producing several turnovers.
How do they get eliminated? The Falcons struggle to rush the passer, and they become too one-dimensional on offense. In their three losses this season, they produced just two sacks and were out-rushed, 487-146. A team like the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers could pose a huge problem.
2) San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
How do they make a deep run? The defense dominates the line of scrimmage and Colin Kaepernick produces three or four big plays per game. Receiver Michael Crabtree continues to emerge as a top-shelf talent, and the running game benefits from the fresh legs of rookie LaMichael James.
How do they get eliminated? The49ers’ defense can be attacked; the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks provided a blueprint for doing so in Weeks 15 and 16. The 49ers’ offense, meanwhile, is capable of stalling for long stretches of time. The poor play of kicker David Akers could also end up costing San Francisco a game.
3) Green Bay Packers (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? Led by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ passing attack gets hot and puts up huge numbers, outscoring every opponent. A different receiver steps up every week and a healthy Clay Matthews closes out games with pressures and sacks.
How do they get eliminated? The offensive line can’t protect Rodgers and the running game fails to provide the necessary balance. The Minnesota Vikings match up very well against the Packers; they’re fully capable of quickly ending Green Bay’s postseason.
4) Washington Redskins (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? The Redskins’ unique offense controls the clock, shortens games and piles up just enough points. The defense covers up some soft spots by sending lots of pressure and creating key turnovers. Relishing their postseason opportunity, steady veterans DeAngelo Hall and London Fletcher produce game-changing plays.
How do they get eliminated? Robert Griffin III’s knee injury makes the offense more predictable, and a talented defensive opponent manages to take away Alfred Morris. The Redskins’ defense struggles to create a pass rush, and the safety play is exposed by a top-notch quarterback.
5) Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? They carry their momentum right through the postseason. Russell Wilson continues to play clutch, mistake-free football, while Marshawn Lynch grinds out tough yards. The defense continues to create high numbers of turnovers and finds the end zone a few times, as well.
How do they get eliminated? An opponent stacks the box to take away Lynch, and the athletic Wilson is contained. The lack of a true No. 1 receiver ends up being an issue, and the offensive production takes a nosedive.
6) Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? Adrian Peterson continues to carry the entire offense, and Christian Ponder protects the football. Jared Allen gets hot; his pressures create sacks and turnovers. Kicker Blair Walsh hits a long, game-winning field goal along the way.
How do they get eliminated? An opponent sells out to slow down Peterson, and Ponder is unable to make them pay for it. Peterson puts the ball on the ground, and Ponder struggles to play from behind. The defense allows a mobile quarterback to create plays with his legs.
1) Denver Broncos (13-3)
How do they make a deep run? Peyton Manning will have two weeks to prepare for his first opponent. The Broncos are the NFL’s most complete team, ranking in the top five in virtually every important statistic. This balance will make Denver very difficult to eliminate. The pass rush can take over a game, giving Manning’s offense a short field and allowing the Broncos to pile up points quickly.
How do they get eliminated? If the weather is horrible in Denver and the Broncos’ rushing attack is unable to get on track, they could struggle offensively. A matchup against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the snow would pose a very formidable challenge.
2) New England Patriots (12-4)
How do they make a deep run? Recently returned tight end Rob Gronkowski sparks an offensive explosion. Brady benefits from a solid ground attack, utilizing his tight ends to produce chunk plays down the field. The young secondary allows some big gains, but comes up with a few key turnovers.
How do they get eliminated? A physical Baltimore Ravens team pushes around New England’s offensive line, or the Pats simply run into a red-hot Denver team on the road and lose a shootout. I don’t see any of the other AFC teams giving New England much of a problem.
3) Houston Texans (12-4)
How do they make a deep run? They forget recent struggles and recapture their early-season form. Arian Foster shoulders the load on offense, and the defensive line creates numerous sacks and turnovers. The secondary avoids giving up the big play.
How do they get eliminated? Matt Schaub fails to make enough plays to outscore either the Patriots or the Broncos. Facing constant double-teams, J.J. Watt is unable to dominate the game.
4) Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? A well-rested Ray Rice carries the ball more than he has during the regular season, and the Ravens physically pound their opponents. Tight end Dennis Pitta and receiver Torrey Smith produce big plays in the passing game. The defense is sparked by the return of Ray Lewis. Paul Kruger plays the role of unsung hero, making several impact plays.
How do they get eliminated? The offense features too much Joe Flacco and not enough Rice. Baltimore allows too many sacks; opponents manage to strip the ball from Flacco in the pocket, creating turnovers. The defense struggles to contain the run.
5) Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? Andrew Luck continues to excel on third down, and the veteran pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis steps up to make several impact plays. Cornerback Vontae Davis keeps playing at an elite level, picking off a few balls.
How do they get eliminated? The offensive line is overwhelmed and Luck doesn’t get any time to throw the football. The defensive front is pushed around, giving up too many rushing yards to a back like the Ravens’ Rice or the Patriots’ Stevan Ridley.
6) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? Receiver A.J. Green gets hot, producing several big plays through the air, and the pass rush dominates on the other side of the ball. Geno Atkins finally gets credit for his outstanding play after collecting several sacks and tackles for a loss.
How do they get eliminated? The running game is unable to provide balance, and Andy Dalton turns the ball over too much. The defense is on the field too often, and the unit runs out of gas late.
He was remembered Saturday morning for his religious beliefs, sense of humor, physical presence and his lifelong desire to play in the NFL.
His casket was Cowboys grey with the team’s star logo on the inside. His No. 53 Cowboys framed jersey and pictures from his life bracketed the casket, along with a signed helmet from the Indianapolis Colts.
Brown, who was signed to the Dallas practice squad in October after being cut from Indianapolis, died when the car he was riding in flipped after hitting a curb. The driver, Josh Brent a teammate with the Cowboys and at the University of Illinois.
More than a dozen of his teammates from Illinois and high school attended the service. The Cowboys, who held a service on Tuesday in Dallas, will wear a "53" decal for the remainder of the season to honor Brown.
"I’m sad, but when I think about Jerry I just think about the happy Jerry," Jason Davis said, who helped recruit Brown to play at the University of Illinois. "He was so humble. He was so funny. He was so good at football."
Brown’s youth coach remembered a player so competitive he never seemed pleased. He told about approaching Brown after a game the team handily won and asking the boy why he was crying.
"He’s crying these big ol’ tears and he said, ‘I. I. I didn’t touch the ball enough,’" the coach recalled to a roar of laughter and nodding heads.
Several relatives chose to speak to a small media gathering prior to the service. Each said Brown died far earlier than he should but they trusted it was his time. Many also said they believed the funeral would help bring closure to the close-knit family.
Andrea Bosquez was the final person to offer condolences during the service. She is scheduled to give birth to their daughter, already named Mya, in February.
"I love you," she said looking at the casket. "He was the love of my life. He was my fiancé. He was my best friend."
The cause of his death was only brought up once in passing, until the ministers began speaking in the second half of the funeral. The four who spoke talked about the evil affects alcohol played in the death but each reminded the gathering that whatever led to Brown’s death did not diminish the lives involved.
"I have no answer for why this happened," one said. "But we live with the decisions — good, bad or otherwise."
Editors Note: Below, is a link to a must see video. Click HERE to view.
FORGIVENESS: Jerry Brown’s mom tells Josh Brent she still loves him
NORTH ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-Vashon High School graduate Jerry Brown died early Saturday morning in a car crash in Irving, Texas. The car was being driven by Josh Brent who was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter. The two were football teammates at Illinois and were both involved with the Dallas Cowboys organization. Brent was a starter. Brown was on the practice squad.
Brown’s family in St. Louis is now looking back at his life and legacy. He graduated from Vashon in 2006 and from that point on his family says he worked hard to reach is dream to play in the NFL.
- Visitation: Friday from 6-8pm at Oak Baptist Church located at 3040 Hickory Street St. Louis, MO 63104.
- Funeral: Saturday at 10am at the Hopewell Church located at 915 N. Taylor
- Burial: St. Peters Cemetery
- Repass at Vashon High School from 2-5pm
Courtesy: FOX2 – KTVI – St. Louis – click HERE to watch video (duration – 2:12)
COWBOY FAMILY MOURNING: Josh Brent arrested for DWI, manslaughter; crash killed teammate Jerry Brown
Brent, 24, was identified as the driver in a car crash that killed Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, 25. Brent was arrested for driving while intoxicated after failing field sobriety tests. Once Irving police determined Brown had passed away, Brent was booked into Irving City jail on one count of intoxication manslaughter, according to a police report.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown,” said owner Jerry Jones in a statement. “At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him.”
Brent was responsive after the crash, but Brown wasn’t. Brown was transported to an area hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. An intoxication manslaughter charge is a second-degree felony.
The accident occurred at 2:21 a.m. going westbound on the service road of Highway 114. The vehicle was speeding when it hit the outside curb and flipped once before coming to rest in the middle of the service road, according to the report.
Irving police spokesperson John Argumaniz said Brent was attempting to pull Brown out of the vehicle, which had started to catch on fire, when police arrived and put out the flames.
“Our investigators are certain that they were traveling well above the posted speed limit," Argumaniz said. "They base that on the physical evidence out at the scene, gouge marks, skid marks, where the vehicle initially impacted the curb to where the vehicle came to rest.”
Brent and Brown both played college football at Illinois, where Brent had previously been arrested for driving under the influence in 2009. Brent, who was absent on the team charter Saturday, was in the midst of his best season in the NFL.
He started five games with nose tackle Jay Ratliff injured for much of the season. Brent would have been the likely starter Sunday against the Bengals with Ratliff out.
Brent compiled 22 tackles this season and forced a fumble on Eagles running back Bryce Brown last weekend that led to Morris Claiborne’s fumble return for a touchdown.
RELATED: Jerry Jones offers first public comments on Brown’s passing
Jones talked about remembering Brown, keeping Brown’s family in the team’s thoughts and wanting to play well in his honor.
Q: Jerry, you have been with your team every step of the way as every layer of this tragedy has unfolded. How would you describe the emotions right now of this team?
Jerry Jones: "Well for the last few hours our focus has been on Jerry Brown. Our team loved him. They certainly are conscious of him and want his family to know and have as much of them as they can give. At the same time, they know that one of the best things they can do for him and his memory is to come to the game today, is go out and play well."
Q: Jason Garrett told the team last night that this, football is not life and death, but there is a very important game to be played today. How do you focus the team? How did Jason put them in that direction?
Jones: "First of all we all know, but we remind ourselves that there is something more important than football, and this is life, and certainly the lost life of Jerry. On the other hand, they know the best way they can honor Jerry, because he was such a hard worker, so conscientious and enthusiastic about his career, the best thing they can do for him is go out and play the way he would have liked to have seen them play and a team that he would have wanted to be a part of."
Q: You know this team, how do you hope or think they will respond in light of this tragedy?
Jones: "Well first of all, I think that our team is grieving, and they know that. They also know that they can handle that better if they will go out and do their work and do it to the top of their abilities. So it is a way for them to respond, and to some degree, I am sure that many of them are proud that they have this to do this afternoon."
RELATED: ‘Devastated’ Josh Brent sends statement through his agent
With his teammates in Cincinnati, Josh Brent issued a statement Saturday night through his agent Peter Schaeffer regarding the tragic accident that took the life of teammate, former roommate and friend Jerry Brown:
"I am devastated and filled with grief. Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and team mate, Jerry Brown. I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him. I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time."
RELATED: Remembering Jerry Brown; Perseverance led to chance in NFL
IRVING, Texas – Linebacker Jerry Brown was in the process of continuing his NFL dream when his life was cut short early Saturday morning in a car driven by Josh Brent, his former teammate at Illinois.
The 25-year-old had a long journey between his days at Illinois and his first taste of the NFL. After going undrafted in 2011, Brown went to the Canadian Football League and had two stops in the Arena Football League before joining the Indianapolis Colts at the beginning of this year.
He was active in one game for Indianapolis before getting released and going to the Colts practice squad. After his contract was terminated in Indianapolis, Brown joined the Cowboys’ practice squad in October in place of receiver Raymond Radway.
Before making his way to the NFL, Brown played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League and the Jacksonville Sharks and San Antonio Talons of the Arena Football League.
Brent, who was arrested for intoxicated manslaughter, was a familiar face for Brown in the Cowboys’ locker room going back to their days at Illinois.
Brown played mostly defensive end in college, playing in all 13 games at the position in 2007 and in 11 games in 2008.
Brown was named the Defensive Scout Team Player of The Year during his redshirt season in 2006 at Illinois. Six years later, he would be helping the Cowboys prepare for their opponents. The Missouri native celebrated his 25th birthday a month and a half ago on Oct. 20.
RELATED: Josh Brent released from jail after posting bail
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was charged Saturday with intoxication manslaughter connected to the death of Cowboys practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown Jr., Irving, Texas, police confirmed to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
Irving police confirmed Brent was processed on the charge and released after posting his $50,000 bail Sunday. The second-degree felony is punishable by two to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz said Brent is being held without bond.
Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent faces an intoxicated manslaughter charge following a car crash which claimed the life of teammate Jerry Brown Jr. (Irving Police Department/)
According to a report released by Irving police, Brent was behind the wheel of a car at 2:21 a.m. when it hit a curb, causing the vehicle to flip at least once before coming to rest in the middle of a service road. When officers arrived on the scene, Brent was responsive and able to speak. Brown, 25, was unresponsive and transferred to a local hospital, where he later was pronounced dead.
Officers suspected alcohol played a role in the accident and had Brent perform field sobriety tests. Brent eventually was taken into custody. The charges were altered from driving while intoxicated to intoxicated manslaughter when police learned Brown had died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
A statement was released Saturday night on Brent’s behalf by his agent, Peter Schaffer:
"I am devastated and filled with grief. Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown," the statement read. "I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him. I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time."
Brent pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in 2009 after he was arrested for speeding while driving under the influence with a suspended license, according to Champaign County, Ill., court records obtained by The Associated Press.
"We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown. At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him."
The NFL released the following statement:
"We have been in contact with the Cowboys and have deployed staff members and our independent professional counselors to assist the team in dealing with this tragedy. We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jerry Brown and extend our condolences to his family, friends, and the Cowboys organization."
Brown’s family released a statement Sunday, obtained by Fox Sports insider and NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer:
"The family of Jerry Brown Jr. wish to express our sincere appreciation for all of your prayers, phone calls, flowers, visits and other acts of kindness shown during the death of our son. We would also like to send our prayers out to Josh Brent and his family as well. With kindness and love, The Family of Jerry Brown Jr."
Brent and Brown were college teammates at Illinois and were living together in Dallas, a team source told Rapoport.
Brent is in his third season with the Cowboys. A promising nose tackle, he had been in line to start for injured veteran Jay Ratliff on Sunday.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys will play the only undefeated team left in the NFL on Sunday. They will play in a dome on Sunday. They will pay against an NFC South team.
What is this 2009 again?
The Cowboys hope so.
In 2009, the Cowboys beat 13-0 New Orleans inside the Superdome, 24-17.
"Going down to New Orleans I think will have a similar type feel in that you know you’re going against a great opponent that does a lot of things well and creates a lot of problems,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “You can draw on the fact of what you did as a team and individually to beat that opponent that day. What were some of the things that you were successful with, whether that was your approach, whether it was a certain fundamental thought that gave you a chance to do something … I don’t want to give away too much, but that allowed you have a chance to be a little better."
A fast start is a must.
“I can remember playing against New Orleans down there I think when they were undefeated and I think we scored pretty early in that game and that helped out a lot so …,” Romo said.
The Cowboys scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game for a 14-0 lead with 5:15 left in the opening quarter. Romo hit Miles Austin for a 49-yard score to open the game and Marion Barber followed it with a 3-yard TD run as the Cowboys went on their way to a 24-17 win against the Saints.
That win propelled the Cowboys to the playoffs. At 3-4, the Cowboys could use a similar boost with a win Sunday at Atlanta.
“I just think we know we have to go up there and play our best game,” Romo said, “and do the little things right that give you a chance to win football games.”
Ernie Sims has never played in a 3-4 defense. He hasn’t played much inside either. But that’s why the Dallas Cowboys signed him.
Sims, signed Wednesday after Dallas put starting inside linebacker Sean Lee on injured reserve, is getting a crash course in the team’s sub-packages.
"Do I think I can play? Yes," Sims said. "If you look at me earlier in my career, I’ve been probably smaller than I am right now. I’ve actually gained about 5-6 pounds of lean mass. I’m stronger, faster and obviously bigger than I was my first couple of years in the NFL. I’m pretty confident in my ability. Obviously only time will tell."
Sims was the ninth overall pick of the Lions in 2006 and became an immediate starter, starting 50 consecutive games before injuries forced him out of the lineup in 2009. The Lions traded him to Philadelphia in a three-way deal for tight end Tony Scheffler and a seventh-round pick. He had only 2.5 sacks and an interception in 56 career starts for the Lions.
Sims, who played one season for the Eagles and spent last season in Indianapolis, said he has grown up a lot since then.
"This is a brand-new beginning for me. It really is," Sims said. "I’ve been through a lot in the NFL. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown up as a young man. A lot of people when they see me, they say he looks familiar, but is that the same guy? I’m still the same guy. I just look different. I cut all my hair off. I don’t carry myself like I did. I’m married now. I’ve got a beautiful young son now. My motives and my mindset is totally different now. What I’ve been through in the NFL is really just completely changed my life. That’s why I say this is a totally new beginning for me. When I say I’ve got something to prove, I’ve got something to prove. It’s game time."
Sims said the transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4 isn’t a big deal.
"it’s really just X’s and O’s," Sims said. "It’s the same principles. It’s the same things going on in every defense that I’ve played in. The good thing about me is I’ve played in several different defenses with several different teams with several different defensive coordinators. …I’ve seen all the different defenses you can play in, all the different schemes and coverages. That kind of gives me an upper hand with me trying to adjust to this new defense."
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have cut wide receiver Raymond Radway from the practice squad two weeks after signing him.
With Danny Coale healthy again after a hamstring strain, the Cowboys did not need a third wide receiver on the practice squad. Radway was among the Cowboys’ final cuts in the preseason after he failed to make a catch. He struggled in his return from a fractured ankle suffered in the final preseason game of 2011.
Outside linebacker Jerry Brown replaced Radway on the practice squad. Brown floated between Indianapolis’ practice squad and active roster after signing with the team earlier this year. Brown, 25, played at Illinois and wasn’t drafted.
DENVER (AP) — The days of lugging around 500-page playbooks and stacks of DVDs are over for half of the players in the NFL.
Their teams have gone digital, replacing the old-fashioned thick paper playbooks with iPads that put everything from X’s and O’s to notifications, scouting reports and video cut-ups at their fingertips.
"Technology is taking over the world and we’re just trying to keep up with it," Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Graham Harrell said.
The number of teams using iPads for playbooks and game film has increased this season from two to 14. In the NFC, the Bears, Cardinals, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Redskins and Seahawks are using the tablets as are the Bengals, Broncos, Chargers, Colts, Dolphins and Ravens in the AFC.
Other teams, such as the Chiefs, Titans and Saints, are using iPads for some things but haven’t completely abandoned three-ring binders, and the Bills are considering switching over next year, when the NFL makes game film available in high definition, coach Chan Gailey said.
The Ravens and Buccaneers were the first teams to go digital last year, although Tampa Bay returned to the traditional playbooks this season under a new coaching staff.
The top model iPads that feature 64 gigabytes of data and retail for $829 each are loaded with about $700 worth of programming, and most teams issue them to roughly 120 players, coaches, scouts and other personnel. That works out to roughly $180,000 per team.
Broncos video director Steve Boxer figures it will take about a year to begin realizing a cost savings from ditching the paper playbooks that consumed trees, money and manpower and kept copy machine repairmen on speed-dial.
Daily itinerary updates, diagrams and video are automatically pushed to each iPad so a player can have the video clips of a practice or game downloaded by the time he gets out of the shower. Because the video isn’t streaming, he can watch it on the airplane or at his apartment, whether or not he has a Wi-Fi connection.
Apps developed by PlayerLync in suburban Denver or Global Aptitude out of Baltimore allow players and coaches to highlight sections in yellow on the tablet’s touchscreen and to write notes with a stylus just as they would with a pencil on paper playbooks. Those notes are saved on servers and can be downloaded again at any time for future reference.
"I don’t think there’s any minuses unless you lose it and have to pay that fine," Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears said.
The Indianapolis Colts are interested in cornerback Mike Jenkins. I heard the Detroit Lions are, too. But there are other teams that want nothing to do with him.
Reality set in for me Friday when I was told, again, the Dallas Cowboys are not interested in trading Jenkins.
There are several reasons why. Let’s explore.
1. Injuries. Jenkins battled through shoulder, neck and knee issues last season and still tied for the team lead with 10 pass breakups. In some ways, Jenkins was the Cowboys’ best corner last season given how badly Terence Newman played down the stretch and Orlando Scandrick’s own inconsistencies. But the Cowboys played five cornerbacks last season. The names? Jenkins, Newman, Scandrick, Alan Ball and Frank Walker. Newman, Jenkins and Scandrick — the top corners on the team — missed a total of nine games due to injuries last season. You can never have enough cornerbacks on your team considering how fragile the position can be. Morris Claiborne, Dallas’ first-round pick, hasn’t practiced yet with his new team while he recovers from wrist surgery. Scandrick battled ankle problems last season. You need depth on your team, and keeping Jenkins adds that.
2. Jenkins was good. He did make the Pro Bowl in 2009 as an injury replacement, so the Cowboys know he can play at a high level. His inconsistencies bother them, but Jenkins is good in man and zone coverage. He’s got the speed to run with speedy receivers and his size is good enough to take on taller receivers, too. The issue Jenkins faces is not being a physical corner. Jenkins isn’t afraid to mix it up with receivers and tight ends in tight spaces, but he doesn’t do it as much as he used to. Some NFL teams wish he would do it more. The question you have to ask yourself is, is Jenkins better than Scandrick?
3. The Cowboys’ trade needs. A front office source said the Cowboys want something significant for Jenkins if they deal him. What does significant mean? A fourth-round pick? Fifth round? Seventh round? It’s doubtful the Cowboys are getting a first- or second-round selection for Jenkins. Not because Jenkins isn’t worth it, but because he’s in the final year of his contract and he’s coming off shoulder surgery. The Cowboys don’t have much leverage. If you just want to give him away, you can always get a seventh rounder for him. But keeping Jenkins could also mean gaining an compensatory pick in next year’s NFL draft.
Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com
ESPN deletes videos without warning. If the link is broken, please accept our apology.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said the team still hasn’t decided who it will take with the first overall pick in next month’s NFL draft.
"It’s up in the air," Irsay told USA Today on Monday. "We have to look at this thing completely open-minded.
"You have two outstanding athletes, two great pure passers, two guys from families that are incredible."
In comments Tuesday to NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora, new Colts coach Chuck Pagano echoed his owner’s remarks in regard to the Luck-Griffin debate.
"Both of those guys have a great skill set and have NFL arms to make all the throws," said Pagano, who’s currently in Palm Beach, Fla., for the NFL Annual Meeting. "They’re dynamic in the pocket, football IQ is off the charts, mobility is scary. They can extend plays with their feet. Both are very, very talented guys, dynamic young men, great leaders. Both are going to be very successful. We’re still in the process of not only evaluating those two but everyone else moving forward."
Most observers still expect Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to be the No. 1 pick, but Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III made a strong impression with his performance at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine and again at Baylor’s recent pro day.
Pagano said that it really is a win-win situation for the Colts, and either Luck or Griffin would be a great pick.
"You look at the tape, all the numbers and what they’ve done for their respective programs throughout their collegiate careers, they’ve just been outstanding," Pagano said. "I think they’re both can’t miss guys."
Colts general manger Ryan Grigson said Monday that the team will bring in Luck for a private workout during the next couple of weeks, something it isn’t doing with Griffin.
Irsay didn’t rule out the Colts signing one of the two quarterbacks before the draft begins April 26.
"We’ve talked to both agents," he said. "We haven’t negotiated yet."
Colts’ dilemma: Luck or RG3?
Indianapolis has cast a wide net in its search for a general manager, so wide that it extends to Valley Ranch.
Tom Ciskowski, the Cowboys assistant director of player personnel, is one of several candidates the Colts have expressed an interest in interviewing. The club has contacted the Cowboys and received permission to speak to Ciskowski.
Ciskowski keeps a low, public profile, but has risen through the ranks since he joined the club in 1992. He took over as the Cowboys director of college and pro scouting when Jeff Ireland left for Miami in 2008 and acquired his current title in 2011.
Baltimore’s Eric DeCosta, Atlanta’s Lee Snead and Philadelphia’s Ryan Grigson have also been given permission to speak to Indianapolis.
Note: Dallas’ general manager was not interested in interviewing for the position!
The Cowboys debated the merits of three offensive linemen in the first round of the April draft before setting their sights on Tyron Smith.
The club faces the runner-up in that debate Sunday.
Smith, Nate Solder and Anthony Castonzo were the focus of this discussion. The Cowboys ignored trade opportunities to stay at No. 9 and take Smith. Solder was next to go at No. 17 to New England, the team’s opponent this weekend.
Jacksonville offered both of its picks in the first round to move into the Cowboys spot so they could take quarterback Blaine Gabbert. If the club had made that deal, Smith would have been long gone by the time the Cowboys were on the clock at No. 16.
That would likely have put Solder in a Cowboys uniform.
“We liked Nate Solder very much,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He was one of the three tackles that we considered strongly in the first round.
“We spent a lot of time with him. We spent some time with him at Valley Ranch, at the combine and other places.
“We were not surprised he was drafted in the first round, and we’re not surprised he’s playing this early into his first year. He’s a very talented guy, a very smart guy, he’s a very good competitor and I think he clearly is fitting in well out there.”
All three have fit in. Solder has started four games for the Patriots. Castonzo has started four games for Indianapolis and Smith has done the same for the Cowboys.
Smith has done more than fit in. He has flashed the dominance the Cowboys believe will make him the anchor of their offensive line. The rookie has been the team’s best and most consistent offensive lineman through four games.
“I’m adapting pretty well, but there is always something to work on,” Smith said. “It will always be like that.”
The Boys Are Back bonus: Listen to the call that Coach Jason Garrett made to Tyron Smith on draft day.
Three Cowboys who were a part of the 26 released Saturday have been claimed on waivers by other teams.
Fullback Chris Gronkowski has been claimed by Indianapolis
Safety Andrew Sendejo has been claimed by the New York Jets
Cornerback Josh Thomas out of Cedar Hill has been claimed by Carolina.
Ravens one-year deal with center Andre Gurode
The Cowboys had hoped to get Thomas, their fifth-round draft pick out of Buffalo, on their practice squad.
On Saturday, the Cowboys cut safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and he’s heading to the team’s practice squad, according to a tweet from his agent, Andy Simms.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indianapolis Colts are bringing one veteran quarterback out of retirement.
No, not Brett Favre.
The Colts agreed to terms Wednesday with Kerry Collins, making him the likely starter in case Peyton Manning hasn’t completely recovered from offseason neck surgery when the season opens Sept. 11.
Collins said he has been given no indication that Manning won’t play at Houston.
“Hopefully, Peyton will be back, but if he’s not maybe I can be one of the guys that can help this ball club,” Collins said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday night. “The biggest draw for me coming here was just being with a team that I have a lot of respect for and a lot of history with, and really to be with a great team and play with one of greatest quarterbacks of all time.”
Collins agreed to a one-year contract and acknowledged he could be talked into staying longer than 2011.
Not everyone in the Colts locker room is enamored with the move.
“We don’t even know him, we ain’t vanilla, man, we ain’t no simple offense,” receiver Reggie Wayne said. “So for him to come in here and be the starter, I don’t see it. I think that’s a step back.”
Colts coach Jim Caldwell wasn’t available to talk with reporters about Collins, a player he coached at Penn State, because the official announcement didn’t come until after practice. Caldwell spoke with reporters before practice. But he struck a calm tone in a statement released by the team.
“He is a veteran quarterback who has started many games and he brings dimension and depth to the quarterback position, which will be helpful,” Caldwell said. “He is familiar with our division and will make a great addition to our roster.”
The move is another indication that Manning’s streak of 227 consecutive starts, including playoff games, is in serious jeopardy for the first time since 2008.
Manning had surgery May 23 to repair a nerve in his neck, and the recovery has gone slower than expected partially, Manning said, because he couldn’t work out with team trainers during the 4 1/2-month lockout.
On Saturday morning, Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote on Twitter that the Colts should be prepared to play without Manning in the opener against the division-rival Texans. Later that day, Manning acknowledged he did not expect to play in the final two preseason games and that he would need the next two weeks just to get healthy.
Collins said the first call from Indy came Saturday, too.
Caldwell hasn’t said when he expects Manning to return to the field after signing a five-year, $90 million contract to stay in Indy last month.
“I think he laid out pretty well where he is, and that he is working extremely hard to try and get back as quickly as he possibly can,” Caldwell said Monday. “He’s going to work hard at trying to get back and get ready, and he’s doing everything he can to do so.”
And if he’s not ready? Well, there’s Collins, who has played in 195 career games with Tennessee, New Orleans, the New York Giants, Oakland and Carolina before retiring in July.
Collins has a career 55.8 completion percentage and has thrown for 40,441 yards, 206 touchdowns and 195 interceptions. As the starter, Collins has led his team to the playoffs four times, including a Super Bowl appearance with the Giants in the 2000 season.
Wayne, a five-time Pro Bowl player and one of Manning’s favorite targets, has supported backup Curtis Painter. And while he called Collins “a great guy,” he said he was worried about the Colts getting better.
“Who says Kerry’s going to be the starter?” Wayne said. “Just because we bring him in doesn’t mean he’s the starter. He’s got to learn too, right? Unless they gave him a playbook months ago, he’s got to learn to.
“I don’t care who you are, I mean I’m not going to let anyone just come in here and just push someone (like Painter) aside like you’re that dog now, you know what I mean?” Wayne added.
Painter has started both preseason games this year, completing 8-of-16 passes for 95 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. In Friday night’s 16-3 loss to Washington, Painter managed only one first down and couldn’t get the offense past its 29 despite playing the entire first half.
He hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2009. Another backup, Dan Orlovsky, has played in 13 games in six NFL seasons, and the other quarterback on the roster is undrafted rookie Mike Hartline.
For his part, Painter doesn’t expect it to take Collins long to get up to speed.
“He’s a veteran guy, been around a while, I’m sure the terminology across the league isn’t too different,” Painter said. “I expect he’ll come in and pick it up quite well.”
Collins didn’t waste any time getting started, either.
“It’s going to be like learning a foreign language,” he said. “The concepts will be the same, but the terms will be completely different and that’s why I need to bust my tail and get in the classroom so I can get out there and operate the offense sooner rather than later, hopefully.”
The good news is that Collins already has some familiarity with the Colts’ brain trust.
Indy vice chairman Bill Polian took Collins in the first round of the 1995 draft, No. 5 overall, when he was in charge of the Carolina Panthers. And Caldwell was Penn State’s passing game coordinator from 1988-92, during part of Collins’ college career.
The other big question is whether Collins has rediscovered his passion for the game since announcing his retirement July 7. He said then he was unsure he was committed to properly preparing for game day.
Two weeks later, Collins said he had even considered retiring at the end of last season.
But the chance to win a Super Bowl ring, something he doesn’t have, was enough to end the retirement after seven weeks.
“I know we’re going to have a heck of a football team here, and it would be great to be on a team that ultimately wins the whole thing,” Collins said. “But I know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.”
Irsay had tweeted to ask for suggestions about signing a veteran free agent and on Sunday said he was in Hattiesburg, Miss., stirring speculation that he might be trying to lure Favre out of retirement (again). Instead, it was Collins.
Camp Confidential: Indianapolis Colts
ANDERSON, Ind. — It’s trendy to call the Colts aging and to view the Texans and even the Jaguars as up-and-comers in the AFC South.
But if Indianapolis is healthy, it’s awfully risky to be ahead of the curve regarding its demise.
This is a team that lost a ton of talent to injury last season and still won the division at 10-6. It’s added some nice pieces on defense through bargain-basement free-agency. It drafted two offensive tackles who should be pillars, and also selected a short-yardage back.
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a big rebound year, and most teams aren’t even talking rebound when it comes to following a division title.
“I think it’s really the same team,” middle linebacker Gary Brackett said.
The same team is a major threat to win the division and compete for home-field advantage in the playoffs. Should it break through for the third Super Bowl appearance of the Peyton Manning era, a huge prize awaits: The game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The timetable for his return is unknown. You know the drill: They say he’s progressing well, that they are optimistic, etc., and no one outside a very tight circle has any real idea when he will re-emerge. He was spotted once throwing with what a witness called “decent velocity.” Hey, encouraging news is encouraging news.
“I also think there is some quality in the backup corners. Kevin Thomas is one of them. There are some interesting guys, and they’ll play themselves on or off the roster based on the preseason. But based on what I’ve seen thus far, I’d say we’ve got a good group and one or two guys will emerge.”
They will all benefit, of course, from a better pass rush. And if Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are better supplemented by Jerry Hughes and Jamaal Anderson on the edges and Tommie Harris provides a solid nickel push in the middle, they could have one.
Will the passing game have enough consistent weapons?
The ability of the 2010 Colts to get production from the likes of tight end Jacob Tamme and receiver Blair White was remarkable.