But Payton and the altered medical staff will have to do even more damage control to ensure they don't lose the trust of the locker room after cornerback Delvin Breaux's misdiagnosis turned into such a mess.
It was a bad look for a lot of folks:
- For team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, who apparently didn't discover Breaux's fractured fibula soon enough and who had done enough to frustrate Payton in the past to make this a last-straw incident.
- For Payton, who had reached the point where he was ready to trade or possibly release Breaux because of that faulty injury diagnosis. This situation wouldn't be nearly so ugly if it hadn't publicly leaked just days earlier that the team thought Breaux was loafing it.
- For Breaux, who had created some mistrust with the coaching staff through some previous injury issues.
I'm sure all three of those things are fairly common in the NFL. But they rarely play out in the public spotlight the way they did this week.
I haven't gotten an indication that the Saints have any sort of mutiny to worry about. It's even possible that players will see the firing of the team doctors as a positive move. As the team's union representative, Thomas Morstead, said Wednesday, Payton's message to the team was "very well received" when he explained what happened and, "I thought he did a great job of basically promising the team that they're gonna have people that are here in every area of the building -- including the medical staff -- that players feel like have their best interests at heart and are competent."
However, I can't imagine that Breaux is too happy with the way things played out. I'm certain that other players won't be happy in the future if coaches question their commitment to returning from injuries if they disagree with the doctors' findings.
I'm even more certain that some past players are incensed over similar situations, including former cornerback Keenan Lewis and former linebacker Chris Chamberlain, who were practically gloating on social media Wednesday. I can think of a handful of other disgruntled former players who likely feel the same way.
Again, I'm sure this type of thing happens in every locker room. As one source told me, "I believe it's common throughout the NFL, but maybe a little more in New Orleans."
Payton himself said Wednesday, "You're not gonna bat a thousand here, but you're just hoping that more often than not, you're getting the right information."
What players need to know is that Payton and other coaches will have their backs if they insist that the doctors' findings don't match what their bodies are telling them.
Last but not least, this week's turn of events is an awful development for the Saints because we now know for certain that Breaux isn't heading into the year as a healthy No. 1 cornerback.
Maybe the coaches felt Breaux deserved to lose that status due to performance. Or maybe young cornerbacks such as first-round draft pick Marshon Lattimore, second-year pros Ken Crawley and De'Vante Harris and third-year pro P.J. Williams were outperforming Breaux in the coaches' eyes.
But any of those scenarios is bad news for a defense that ranked 32nd in the NFL against the pass last season. The Saints really could have used a healthy Breaux to play at the level he did in 2015, when he came from the Canadian Football League and turned into an instant star. He routinely held his own against No. 1 receivers and could have been a Pro Bowler.
I wrote this summer that a healthy Breaux was one of the greatest reasons to be optimistic that the Saints can finally turn their embattled defense around. So much for that idea.
The good news is that the Saints' secondary will probably still be greatly improved from last season, when they lost starters Breaux and Williams to major injuries in Weeks 1 and 2. The Saints have now added Lattimore, rookie safety Marcus Williams and veteran safety Rafael Bush, and they've been happy with the development of guys such as P.J. Williams, Crawley and Harris.
But it's essential that one or more of those guys is ready to step into a major role quickly -- exactly the way Breaux did in 2015.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J -- It hasn't happened to the New York Jets yet, but coach Todd Bowles said he'd support a player who decided to protest during the national anthem.
“It’s their individual right," Bowles said Wednesday after practice. "We don’t have a rule book on what’s right to protest and not protest. We don’t know those things until the course of time, whether it’s sitting for the anthem, whether it’s raising a fist, whether it’s speaking out, whether it’s a walk to Washington ... who’s to say whose protest is good or bad?"
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the anthem last season, and other players followed. There could be more protests this weekend at preseason games, considering the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist march and subsequent protests led to a woman being killed when a man drove a car into a group protesting the original march.
Bowles, one of eight African-American head coaches in the NFL, said he's not aware of any players on his team planning to protest on Saturday night in Detroit. He said he discusses current events with the team, but they haven't talked about Charlottesville as a group.
"I’m against racism, segregation and all that other stuff, but how do we come to an answer? I don’t have that answer," Bowles said. "How do we come to a common ground? I don’t have that answer.
“It’s a hell of a debate and a hell of a topic," he continued. "It needs to stop. I don’t have the answers to that, but who’s to say whose protest is good or bad? That’s just the way they feel and it’s their right to express it.”
The Jets have a unique dynamic because their owner, Woody Johnson, works for President Donald Trump. Johnson was nominated by Trump -- and recently confirmed by the Senate -- as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Defensive end Leonard William said he'd have no problem if a teammate protests as long as he keeps his mind on the job at hand.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- At the moment, the Denver Broncos are trying to make the status quo work as they try to ride out some injuries on the defensive line.
The seven defensive linemen the Broncos brought on the trip will have to find a way to get it done as they work through two days' worth of practices against the San Francisco 49ers to go with Saturday's preseason game in Levi's Stadium.
Jared Crick and Derek Wolfe were left in Denver to work with the training staff as they continue to rehab recent injuries. Crick suffered back spasms during Monday's practice and had to be taken off the field on a cart, while Wolfe suffered a sprained right ankle in Saturday's practice -- he also was taken from the field on a cart that day.
Defensive end Billy Winn also suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the Broncos' preseason opener in Chicago last week.
"We've got seven guys here, that's it," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said after Wednesday's practice just outside Levi's Stadium, at the 49ers' practice facility. "If you want to make a mark for yourself, here's your time."
Especially for Adam Gotsis, a second-round pick in the 2016 draft, and Zach Kerr, who was signed in free agency this past March. Nose tackle Domata Peko, a 12th-year veteran, and Shelby Harris, a third-year player, are the only other defensive linemen the Broncos have on this trip who have appeared in an NFL game.
The other three -- Tyrique Jarrett, Shakir Soto and Nelson Adams -- are rookies. Joseph has said the Broncos hope they can stay healthy for the remainder of the preseason since they would rather not have to add a defensive lineman and have to release someone at another position to stay at 90 players.
They signed Adams when Winn was placed on injured reserve to open a roster spot. The Broncos also are a little light at outside linebacker right now given Shaquil Barrett has not practiced in training camp because of a hip injury he suffered in the offseason. Shane Ray tore a ligament in his left wrist in the camp's first week.
The Broncos expect Wolfe and Crick to be ready for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, and Joseph has said Barrett and Ray both could be back in the lineup by Week 2 or 3 of the regular season.
"Whenever somebody gets hurt, you feel for them," Broncos linebacker Von Miller said. "That's just part of it. We have a lot of great guys, have depth on our team. You never want to see injuries ... but it gives all these other guys an opportunity to go out there and be great."
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Kenny Golladay spent some of his first few months with the Detroit Lions getting work in with quarterback Matthew Stafford, but primarily spent his team drills lining up with the second team.
Not anymore. Not after a preseason debut in which he had two touchdown catches with high degrees of difficulty and showed he could be a red zone option. In the team's first practice after the preseason opener against the Colts, Golladay ended up in a new position.
When the Lions ran three-receiver sets, he was with the starters, replacing TJ Jones.
"He's one of those guys that we're just trying to make certain that we give him a bit of experience in a little bit of everything to kind of see where he fits," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "We have an idea but you really don't know until you get him a chance to really delve in to one spot or the other. So, we're trying to cross-train him a little bit.
"But he has the speed. He has the length and those kinds of things you look for, for good matchups on the outside."
Golladay worked primarily on the outside during those three-receiver sets and that pushed Golden Tate into the slot -- a place where he's proven he can be a dangerous receiver throughout his career because of his ability to make defenders miss and run after the catch.
It's not clear if this was a trial period for Golladay or if he has overtaken Jones, who still received some first-team work in certain situations along with Tate and Marvin Jones. TJ Jones and Jared Abbrederis often received second-team work with Jace Billingsley getting a look, too.
Considering the competition for the fourth-and-fifth receiver spots, that'll still be a battle to watch -- as will where the Lions use Golladay on a more regular basis. Even as he pushes to end up with more reps, expectations for him should be managed because he's more than likely the fifth option in the offense behind Tate, Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron and a combination of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. But if he keeps playing like he did in practice and the opener, he'll force his way into more opportunities.
Still no Eric Ebron: After the tight end made a cameo in practices in Indianapolis, he once again did not practice Wednesday and Caldwell said he has "a couple issues that he's dealing with." It's not clear, other than the hamstring, what those issues are but he's had knee and ankle injuries in the past. It leads to the question of whether Ebron, now in his fourth season and still yet to play a full 16-game campaign, will always have some sort of injury. Other than the brief appearance in Indianapolis, he hasn't practiced since being injured the first day of training camp.
"I hope not," Caldwell said. "He's had a few here and there but hopefully he'll get to a point where he gets a pretty healthy stretch going. But sometimes you find guys that are highly-explosive guys, they may have an issue once in a while.
"But hopefully he can battle through it."
Cornelius the starter: Cornelius Washington has sat out a lot of training camp due to injuries -- one of the many along the defensive line. But on Wednesday, he returned to practice and was back with the starters opposite Anthony Zettel. Washington was going to be pushed for a starting spot by Kerry Hyder, but Hyder's torn Achilles essentially ended that competition before it started. "I don't like how this is going down," Washington said. "I was expecting to have to battle with Kerry for the spot, but we still got some young guys coming up." He cited Alex Barrett as a player who has caught his eye. But Washington seems to be in a position to be a starter this season opposite Ezekiel Ansah.
A depth corner lack of issue: Between how Teez Tabor looked against the Colts and D.J. Hayden's improved play, the Lions might have strong depth at corner behind Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson. Even the designated special teamer has been showing up more. Johnson Bademosi had a clear interception Wednesday and another one that was overturned (but likely shouldn't have been) in the end zone. He's been consistently around the ball in practice and should be able to handle being the team's No. 3 or No. 4 outside corner this season along with his special teams duties.
Marvin Jones looks good: He continues to be impressive throughout camp, making the play of the day Wednesday with a nice jumping grab over Darius Slay in one-on-one drills. Jones' biggest thing is consistency and turning big plays into touchdowns -- something he's been working on -- and while he didn't get much opportunity against the Colts, he's been consistent in practice over the past two weeks.
This and that
The Lions are running into tight end depth issues with Eric Ebron, Tim Wright and Cole Wick out Wednesday. It led to Robert Tonyan receiving some first-team reps. ... A guy who might make a surprise move up the depth chart? Alex Carter. He almost had an interception against Indianapolis and got a little bit of work in specialized packages with the Lions first-team defense. Could be a ways to go for him to make the roster, but he has been improved through camp. ... T.J. Lang returned to practice Wednesday. ... A small skirmish broke out when linebacker Nick Bellore and center Leo Koloamatangi got into it after Bellore pushed down on Koloamantangi's facemask but it was broken up following a couple of shoves.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The dog days of training camp are here.
Crowds are sparse now that school has started across the Phoenix area. Weeks drag on.
The Arizona Cardinals are almost four weeks into training camp, and the daily grind of practices has become monotonous.
"It's kind of getting boring out there," coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday. "They're getting bored with each other, looking more forward to games, and you have to fight through that. I think we'll fight through it better today."
Since the players reported to camp on July 21 -- about a week earlier than most of the league, because the Cards played in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3 -- they've been living out of a hotel next to the stadium. That alone has been getting the best of some. Quarterback Carson Palmer said the Cardinals have to "fight" through the mixture of hotel living, hotel food and having a roommate.
And it doesn't help that the Cardinals are seeing other teams break camp while they still have a week until they get to go home.
"It's tough," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "We're kind of hitting a wall. I think our biggest thing is a lot of guys just want to sleep in their own beds. We started camp a week earlier than everybody else and we're still here.
"We just have to finish strong."
By the time Arians dismisses his players, they will have gone through 18 open practices plus three closed practices. That's thousands of snaps, plenty of time for the offense and defense to learn, well, a lot about the other.
"It's funny because at this point they know all our calls, we know all their calls," center A.Q. Shipley said. "You can see it in practice. We make a call for a double-team, and guys are playing out because they know the double-team's coming.
"It becomes monotonous. It's part of what it is, but it's good work."
Neither Palmer, Shipley nor Mathieu disputed Arians' assertion that camp has become boring. One way to fight the boredom is to face another team, which will happen for the third time this preseason on Saturday, when the Cards host the Chicago Bears at University of Phoenix Stadium.
But Arians doesn’t call these matchups "games," at least not for the starters. He calls them "practices." "They're only out there for 15, 20 plays," Arians said.
Even so, he added, "there's a different level of excitement."
And according to Palmer, there is an upside to the tedium of camp.
"There's a lot of things you got to fight through through training camp, and that's what training camp is," Palmer said. "It hardens you and makes you a better team, the more time that you spend around each other.
"But there's no doubt that guys are waiting for next Thursday, counting down the days."
Both Mariota and Newton lead their teams in different ways, and have had varying levels of success. Newton has a NFL MVP award and a Super Bowl appearance. Mariota has neither, but could sniff one or both if he continues on his current path of progression.
There are a few obvious on-field comparisons: Both are exciting dual-threat starting quarterbacks, both won the Heisman Trophy and both are former top-two draft picks. Beyond those facts, Mariota doesn't have much connection to Newton despite the stretch comparisons people try to make. The two aren't exactly friends yet.
"Actually, I haven't gotten to know him yet," Mariota said, before shifting gears to their Heisman similarities. "It's cool to be able to experience that, especially with the Heisman House and different things like that you get to meet a bunch of different Heisman [winners]. It's a lot of fun to get to be able to know those guys and just kind of share stories. I look forward to talking to him and getting to know him."
Mariota and Newton didn’t have any side-by-side battles Wednesday as the Tennessee Titans hosted the Carolina Panthers in the first of two joint practices this week. Newton is healing from a shoulder injury and didn’t do any live action. Panthers coach Ron Rivera is currently undecided on whether Newton will play Saturday against Mariota and the Titans, but if Wednesday’s practice is any indication Tennessee won’t see much of him.
Newton has four NFL seasons on Mariota so the two didn't cross paths in college and they have played against each other only once, a 27-10 Panthers win in November 2015.
Mariota spent a lot of time in the film room this year reviewing his 2016 tape while rehabbing his broken right leg. Sometimes NFL quarterbacks watch the tape of quarterbacks across the league to gain insight, but it was important for Mariota to lock into reviewing his own footwork and timing flaws rather than copying a facet of Newton or any other quarterback’s game.
"I don't really compare myself or try to imitate a whole lot of guys," Mariota said. "It's important that you understand what your game is. Everyone's kind of unique and you kind of build yourself to be the best player that you can be for this team."
"I'm good," he said. "It feels good."
And that, clearly, is good news for the Redskins, who could use a healthy Doctson on the field. The second-year receiver participated in individual drills but did not take part in one-on-one or full-team work.
Doctson injured his hamstring in Richmond on August 6. At the time, he was rather upset, heading to the locker room with a towel over his head. But some of that frustration could have stemmed from the fact that he was off to a good start after having missed all but two games last season with Achilles issues.
Coach Jay Gruden hasn't ruled out Doctson for Saturday's second preseason game, against Green Bay. He said he'll listen to what the trainers and Doctson have to say and see how he does at practice.
"[Thursday] we're going to see how much more he can do and then we'll make a decision on Saturday," Gruden said.
Doctson needs to be healthy for the season, but he also needs more work at receiver. Before his injury, Doctson showed a lot of what he could do in practice. He was a smooth route-runner and capable of athletic catches because of his 6-foot-2 height and 40-inch vertical jump.
In his absence, Ryan Grant continues to work with the starting group as the No. 3 receiver. But Doctson's absence, coupled with tight end Jordan Reed remaining on the physically unable to perform list, makes it tough for the passing game to develop a good rhythm.
Reed's absence is more critical because he's the focal point of the passing game. Though he said he would "be back shortly," it's still uncertain when that will be. He had worked off to the side throughout camp in Richmond, but Wednesday didn't do anything on the field. Reed is wearing a wider cleat on his left foot and using orthotics.
But for Doctson, Wednesday was a good step. The Redskins can't rush his return, but they also need him working with the starters in practice.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- DeMarco Murray took the opening handoff of team drills, galloped through a large hole, and ran past a couple of would-be Carolina Panthers tacklers for a big gain. It looked as close to a fully healthy Murray as the Tennessee Titans have seen since the first week of training camp.
Murray's hamstring injury, suffered Aug. 2, cost him nearly two weeks of full practice reps, but Titans coach Mike Mularkey anticipates him playing Saturday against the Panthers.
"He's still kind of testing it a little bit. I think he's progressing pretty well," Mularkey said. "Mix him up and see how he is out there."
Murray said his hamstring feels better, but he did not want to put a percentage on his health. He returned to team drills earlier this week and did not appear limited in Wednesday's joint practice with the Panthers.
"I am better now, and it's great to be back," Murray said. "I'm working hard and I'm ready to go."
It will be the first time this preseason Murray and fellow running back Derrick Henry will attack defenses at the same time. The Panthers' stout front seven gave them a strong test on Wednesday, winning more than their fair share of battles against the Titans' run game in team drills after Murray's big run.
The Titans are hoping for a better offensive showing Saturday against Carolina than they put out there against the New York Jets last weekend. That will start with establishing the run effectively early in the game.
Mularkey was also eager to have the Panthers 4-3 defense challenging them considering the Titans' first three regular season opponents (Oakland, Jacksonville, Seattle) field 4-3 defenses or hybrid defenses.
On another injury note, Titans receiver Eric Decker twisted his ankle during one-on-one drills early in Wednesday's practice and didn't finish the session. Mularkey doesn't believe the injury is serious.
" Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he hasn’t made a decision about whether quarterback Cam Newton, who did not participate in live team drills as he continues to rehab his surgically-repaired shoulder, would play in Saturday’s second preseason game. It doesn’t feel like Rivera plans to put his franchise quarterback at risk because Newton still hasn’t been turned loose to throw in all team drills in practice, but stay tuned.
" Judging by reports on social media, Newton did more talking than he did throwing. “He’s trying to bring a little energy ... at least he believes it’s energy, and that’s the important part, trying to get his guys going,” Rivera told reporters. “He was into it, which is always a good thing.”
" Rivera liked the tempo in practice and that there weren’t any fights, but he wasn’t thrilled with the way the offense finished drives. “We got into red zone a couple of times but didn’t finish,” said Rivera, who spent most of the day with that side of the ball.
" Linebacker Thomas Davis said the one-year extension he received late Tuesday afternoon was fair for him and the Panthers. “Now we’re moving forward,” said Davis, who got a $6.75 million extension through the 2018 season with $2 million guaranteed in 2017 and $3 million guaranteed total.
" First-round pick Christian McCaffrey continued to juke Titans out of their shoes as he has Panthers all through training camp.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) August 16, 2017
KK Short and Peppers with some nastiness pic.twitter.com/FFmngbXYNn
— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) August 16, 2017
“To be honest, I don’t think DeShone [Kizer] will be the starter in Week 1,” Thomas said Wednesday.
Thomas’ comments echo those of quarterbacks coach David Lee, who said that Kizer is “not there yet” when it comes to playing a regular-season NFL game. While Thomas does not pretend to be a quarterbacks coach, his stature as a perennial Pro Bowl lineman and leader of the team does give him credibility. Thomas said coach Hue that Jackson usually talks to him before making an important decision like this, although Jackson clearly will not decide based solely on Thomas’ advice.
“It is a competition, but I would expect Brock to win because of his experience,” Thomas said. “And a rookie quarterback is the hardest position to get ready to play in your first year. So there’s no doubt he could win the competition, [but] I definitely would expect probably Brock to win it.
“My personal philosophy is as a quarterback, it takes at least two or three years to have a basic level of understanding of NFL defense and offenses, to be able to operate proficiently out there on the field, especially in Week 1. That would be asking a lot.
“Now I could be totally wrong. I might be going out on a limb here. But I think that they’re grooming Brock to be the starter in Week 1, based on what I’ve seen.”
Jackson will address on Wednesday or Thursday who starts at quarterback in the second preseason game. But practices have given every indication that what Thomas says is accurate. Osweiler has remained with the first team since the day Jackson named him to start the preseason opener — and even after Kizer threw for 184 yards in the second half against the Saints.
“[Jackson’s] not going to put somebody in there who’s not ready just because he’s playing for a couple years down the line,” Thomas said. “That’s not the way he’s wired. He wants to win. Whoever wins the QB spot, I’m going to put my trust and faith in Hue that that’s the player that’s going to give us the best chance to win.”
Thomas sees promise in Kizer; he just doesn’t think Kizer's time is now.
“I know that just because DeShone might be good in a few years doesn’t mean you want to throw him in before he’s ready,” Thomas said. “I’ve been on teams where they throw a guy in there because he’s the first-round pick or he’s the guy that the front office says, ‘Well you gotta play this guy.’ It doesn’t always work out the best for the player and the team.
“The team ends up usually losing and the player loses confidence in himself. Because they’re just not ready.
“The game is so complex at any position, but the quarterback position is so detailed, and it takes such a level of competence that it’s so difficult for a quarterback to master that in only one training camp or one season.
“While I think DeShone has done an amazing job, and he’s exceeded most people’s expectations, that doesn’t just mean he’s ready to be the starter tomorrow. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before he’s ready.
“You don’t want to see a guy lose his confidence and lose his swagger by being played before he’s ready.”
Laquon Treadwell can’t change the results of his rookie season, but he can learn from them.
The Minnesota Vikings' 2016 first-round pick caught just one pass and played only 80 offensive snaps in his first NFL season. Since his disappointing debut, Treadwell has spent the offseason improving his route-running technique.
“I was always more talented than everyone or just had more will to win. I guess I got away with a lot of things,” Treadwell said Tuesday. “Here guys are just as talented and want to win just as bad as you. I just have taken the time to really focus on my technique. My talent is showing with the technique now, so I’m on the uprise.”
The former Ole Miss standout said he has been learning the details of route running from the team’s top two receivers.
“When it's time to win at certain points in my route, I didn’t have the formula,” Treadwell said. “Watching [Stefon] Diggs and [Adam] Thielen, they were very technically sound and that’s why they were able to beat guys consistently and they know how to win.”
While technique is Treadwell’s focus, health has also been an issue. He missed the final three games of last season after suffering an injury on the opening kickoff of Minnesota’s Week 14 matchup against Jacksonville.
This year, the 22-year-old receiver has been out for a large portion of training camp with a hamstring injury suffered on July 31. Treadwell was present for Tuesday’s practice, but took a limited number of snaps during the offense-vs.-defense portions.
“Unfortunately I went down right before the pads, so I’m trying to show it in pads now and build trust and confidence with the quarterbacks,” Treadwell said.
When he has been healthy, the Vikings have shown trust in their former first-round pick, exclusively playing him with the first team in practice.
“The biggest thing with Laquon is that he needs to continue to build confidence in himself,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “If he drops a ball, he’s gotta forget about it and move on to the next play and go make a play. With him it’s just making plays and not being so hard on himself.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The onus is on the Chicago Bears' entire first-team offense -- not just quarterback Mike Glennon -- to raise the bar in Arizona on Saturday.
“I mean, it’s bigger than the first but not as big as the third,” Glennon said of the significance of the second exhibition game. “I don’t really know how else to say it. Everything gets more amplified Week 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and then ultimately the season opener. Obviously I want to go out and play well, but I don’t want to make too big a deal and put too much pressure on a preseason game.”
Glennon’s image took a beating after he went 2-for-8 for 20 yards with an interception that was returned for a touchdown against Denver last week, but he wasn’t the only culprit.
“Our whole first unit was not very good,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I don’t think we blocked very well. I thought we had some drops. We didn’t get off man coverage, which wasn’t something we were surprised about. So all in all, I think there are a lot of things that we saw on the tape, the players saw.”
The offensive line in particular failed to establish the run when Jordan Howard was in the game. Howard rushed for only three yards on four attempts. Make no mistake, the Bears -- led by Howard -- are supposed to be a power-running team. Chicago has little to no shot to thrive on offense in 2017 without a strong rushing attack. Running backs Tarik Cohen, Ka’Deem Carey and Benny Cunningham all looked pretty good against the Broncos, but most of that came after Fox pulled the starters.
And the pass protection was subpar. Left tackle Charles Leno was beaten multiple times, which contributed to Glennon’s lackluster night in the pocket. At 6-foot-6, Glennon doesn’t have Mitchell Trubisky’s mobility. He has to be protected in order to run the offense the right way.
“I think I did a fine job preparing mentally, it was just more the execution side of it,” Glennon said. “And the more we get in these preseason games, preseason two we spend more time game planning; preseason three we spend even more time. That’s just kind of the flow of the preseason.”
Still, Glennon is the focal point. He needs an efficient night in Arizona to slow down the Trubisky express that’s roaring through Chicago, but he can’t do it alone.
“I just really don’t get online,” Glennon said of tuning out criticism. “I watched the preseason games but I just avoid the possible distraction of hearing what people may say. The only thing that matters are the coaches and the players in the locker room and what they have to say. That’s where my focus is.
I understand as writers, you guys have a job to do. There may be some speculation, but I don’t know.”
TAMPA, Fla. -- On the first episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," fans got a glimpse into the world of 23-year-old quarterback Jameis Winston with a visit to his childhood home. In the second episode, which aired Tuesday night, there's even more Winston.
But it's not the carefree guy who moonlighted as the "Crocodile Hunter," documenting the live birth of cockroaches on his front porch, or pointing out where guests pee when the toilet's occupied.
Instead, Winston is in "game mode" for the first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Fans get a look at his pregame rituals, his interactions with teammates and coaches on the sideline, and even some friendly trash talk with opponents.
Most of all, though, they see how he is as a leader and learn why he endeared himself so quickly to teammates, even those much older than him, when he first got to Tampa. They learn why he's played an instrumental role in establishing a new culture in Tampa.
Before games, he goes up to every one of his teammates' lockers, telling them, "I've got your back. I've got your back, all right? Right here, baby. Let's get it tonight. I've got your back. Let's get it."
This isn't an act for the camera, either. He will also stand at the door and shake every one of his teammates' hands as they re-enter the locker room after warm-ups.
He knows all the right buttons to push, including who might need an extra boost, something his mental coach at Florida State, Trevor Moawad, said is because of Winston's "high level of emotional competence."
He tells third-string middle linebacker Riley Bullough, "This time, they're gonna be able to see that leadership shine!"
Bullough responds, "Damn right!"
Winston says, "I can see it in your eyes. I can see it in your eyes. I feel ya, Riley."
He tells teammates, "I know a lot of people out here tonight waiting on their moment. I know there's a lot of people in red waiting on that one moment to show what [you're] about," Winston says.
"I ain't gonna be able to sleep tonight if I don't seize that one opportunity I get tonight at 7:30 against the Cincinnati Bengals. We only get one. Don't take it for granted, men."
At one point, he and J.R. Sweezy, who teammates swear is the most terrifying guy on the team, say "I love you" to each other.
In arguably his strongest display of leadership, he walks over to the bench and scolds two backup offensive linemen -- James Stone and Jarvis Harrison -- for laughing after quarterback Ryan Griffin suffered a shoulder injury to his throwing arm. It's a sprained AC joint that will keep him out for several weeks.
“I’m happy y’all are having fun, but Ryan just hurt his shoulder," Winston said. "So keep having fun."
The players quickly wiped the smiles off their faces.
This is the same quarterback who, before his rookie camp in 2015, got off the bus first so he could shake every one of his teammates' hands as they entered the building.
This is the same player who told safety Keith Tandy, "Today is your day. Go get your blessing" when he stepped into a starting role against the New Orleans Saints and made the game-winning interception.
"When he talks to you and he looks you in the eye, you feel it like in your soul, and you're like, 'I've gotta make a play for him,'" Tandy said. "His leadership is pretty unbelievable, especially for a guy who is [so young]."
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that his mother, Galynn, is doing well after undergoing cancer treatments last year, and reflected on how special it was to have her at Super Bowl LI.
“She couldn’t be any better, considering everything she’s gone through,” Brady said Tuesday on sports radio WEEI’s "Kirk and Callahan" program. “Everyone in our family is so happy. She got some tests back that were really positive, and she’s on the road to recovery.”
Brady’s comments Tuesday came as part of his guest appearance during WEEI’s cancer research telethon. He touched on how cancer has affected his family.
“My mom going through it, but my dad was right there alongside every step of the way. I’m on the other coast, so I wasn’t there on a daily basis. I could only offer certain kinds of support in certain ways, from afar. A lot of it was happening during the football season. My sisters were there every day, bringing my mom to her appointments, her treatments, really providing support that she needed. ...
“You just do the best you can do. Certainly, to see my mom now and come through it, I think she probably has a different perspective, too. You never know what happens in this life. I think we appreciate all these days that we have and appreciate the moments we have with each other. That’s really what I’ve tried to focus on.”
As for preparing for the Super Bowl as Galynn underwent cancer treatments, Brady said, “It was a very challenging time for our family. My mom is such an important, supportive, loving, caring, kind, generous mom. You want to be able to be there for her in moments like that. You just do the best you can do from afar. Obviously, playing football, it’s hard to do that because there is a commitment to a team that needs you also.
“I knew that my dad was taking good care of her and leading up to the Super Bowl; my dad had been to only one game all season. They hadn’t been to any of those games over the course of the year together, which was the first time in my entire playing career. So it was really special when she was at the Super Bowl. Really special to celebrate with her. She was really looking forward to going to the Super Bowl. I wanted her to be there. I wanted our team to get there. Fortunately we were able to get there and it was a really special time for our family, with such great memories, being there together.
“It’s great it turned out the way it did. Her treatments were ending at that point, so it kind of signified the end of not only the season but what she was going through, what our family was going through. It was a great way to finish the year.”
Brady relayed how his parents surprised him at training camp last week and that his wife, Gisele Bunchden, threw a surprise 40th birthday party for him. Brady had thought his parents had traveled back to California, but they also surprised him by attending the party.
“These moments you have, you really appreciate them because when someone is not feeling good, like last year at this time, we didn’t have many opportunities to do those things,” he said. “It was just nice to share it with them and with the people you care and love the most.
“You don’t know what happens. Perspective is a great thing to have, because you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. When you have your health, there are a lot of things that are great, positive. When you’re not as healthy as you want to be, you do take those things for granted – feeling good and feeling vibrant, waking up and doing the things you love to do.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- Cooper Rush was admittedly a little skittish about performing his impersonation last week after he failed at the tried-and-true rookie hazing tradition of singing in front of teammates.
"He got up there to sing one time and his singing wasn't very good at all," Dak Prescott said. "He got booed in the first three words, so didn't have much of a tone. So we had to figure out something else for him to do."
Considering Rush is a quarterback and has red hair, he was called on to impersonate Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, which is a big ask for an undrafted free agent trying to stay on everybody's good side.
"Are you saying all redheads look alike?" Garrett said, when asked about the impression.
Maybe. Maybe not. But Rush was able to pull it off.
"First things first, he walks in and [says], 'How we doin' boys?' and holds his belt a little bit," Rush said. "I guess you got to start with that one."
Some veterans put him up to it, including Prescott.
"It was great," Prescott said. "The redhead, the resemblance, he did a great job."
It was so good he was called on to do it a second time.
"I saw him laughing, so we were good," Rush said of Garrett. "I was little worried, but a few guys backed me up [saying], 'You have to do it. We'll back you up if it goes south.' It was a little nerve-wracking but it worked out."
Garrett was OK with it, but he doesn't want Rush to quit his day job.
"He's a better quarterback than an impressionist," Garrett said.
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