Josh Norman can only ‘laugh’ at Odell Beckham’s jab

Norman’s amusement and subtle jab about Beckham’s penchant for self-promotion came in response to the following quote from the Giants wide receiver:

“It goes back to what I was saying. If I wasn’t playing him twice a year, maybe people wouldn’t bring it up as much. But now it’ll be a lot more media attention for him, attention that I don’t really look for, attention that I don’t need. The reason that he’s become so relevant is because of me.”

Both players have seemingly gone out of their way to avoid the high road ever since their over-the-top Week 15 matchup that ultimately led a new automatic ejection rule for repeated unsportsmanlike conduct.

Fortunately for Norman and Beckham, there’s no penalty for unsportsmanlike rhetoric.

Even while tacitly acknowledging how silly it is, most every sports website grades NFL draft picks within days (or sometimes hours or even minutes) of the draft occurring. We at did it ourselves: we had grades live during the draft, plus winners and losers after Day 1, after Day 2, and at the end of the whole thing, plus another full round of grades at the end of the draft as well.

It’s fun, but it’s mostly guesswork, baking in the biases of whoever is doing the grading. Falcons owner Arthur Blank has an interesting system for grading the draft, one that’s just as valid (if not more so) than the one we used.

“Every team should get a grade A,” Blank said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Then when you look back two or three years, that’s when you judge whether or not if you had a good draft or not.”

Basically, Arthur Blank is like Oprah. “You get an A! And you get an A! And YOU get an A!” It’s a very kind grading system, one based on [gasp] having the patience to evaluate picks once we actually know how the players turned out, rather than before they step onto the field.

In explaining his reasoning for why his Falcons in particular get an A grade, here’s what Blank had to say. “I would give our coach and General Manager a grade A because I know that every single position they drafted very specifically for exactly what the coach wanted and the coaching needs in terms of defense or in terms of the offense. Hopefully, that will play out in a successful way over the next couple of years.”

Of first-round pick Keanu Neal, Blank said, “It wasn’t just the best player on the board. It was the best player that had a specific skill-set that we feel fit that position and we are always drafting for character.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s actions are ‘scaring’ Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall

“The only thing that he can do to make this right is to say he was on vacation, [he] was out of the country,” Marshall said.

Anyway, if Marshall’s scared, that’s probably not a good sign for any Jets fans, who’s hoping that the team will be able to work out a deal with Fitzpatrick before the first practice of training camp kicks off on July 30.

If the Jets do that, and Fitzpatrick turns it down, he might not ever text Marshall back ever again.

Six weeks after being shot in the right leg, Aqib Talib is back on his feet.

The Broncos cornerback was at a golf tournament in Denver on Monday, where he made his first public appearance since being shot in early June.
During a short interview with the Denver Post, Talib said that he “feels great” and “should be ready for training camp.”

Talib and the rest of the Broncos’ veterans are scheduled to report to training camp on July 27. If Talib’s healthy enough, there’s a chance he could be on the field for the team’s first practice of camp, which is scheduled for July 28.

The Jets wide receiver revealed this week that Fitzpatrick hasn’t been returning his texts. That might not sound like a major issue to some people, but it’s a major issue to Marshall because it’s completely out of character for Fitzpatrick.

NFL to reportedly study whether it should narrow field goal uprights

NFL kickers have not made less than 80 percent of their field goal attempts in over a decade, nor less than 82.4 percent since 2009. Possibly as a result of that fact, the NFL will conduct a study this season to determine whether the uprights should be narrowed, according to the Toronto Sun, which conducted an interview with NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino on the subject.

“That would be one way to affect both the extra point and the field goal,” Blandino said, per the Sun. “(Success rates) have continued to climb over the years as our field-goal kickers and that whole process has become so specialized, from long snapper to holder to kicker. We’ll do some studies this year.”

One of those studies will include the placing of microchips inside kicking balls so that the NFL can study, among other things, how far inside the uprights all successful field goals and extra points are kicked. As of now, the plan is to use these balls for the preseason, but if the study goes well the practice could continue into the regular season as well.

NFL clarifies why the catch rule was updated with new language

“This isn’t an all-inclusive list,” Blandino said. “Let’s say a player controls the ball and he stumbles for 10 yards and he doesn’t necessarily tuck the ball away. Well, I think at that point common sense would dictate that he had the ball long enough. But for the most part, most of the plays that we’ve looked at, these potentially bang-bang plays, either the player turned upfield and tucked the ball away and braced for contact, or he got hit prior to doing those things and the ball came out and was incomplete.

At that point, it becomes an entirely subjective call, something the NFL should avoid. After all, we all seem to have differing opinions of what a catch is and isn’t.

Blandino maintained that the NFL tried to make the rule “clearer” with the updated language, but also admitted to something we’ve all known since that infamous Dez Bryant non-catch: The time aspect is super “gray.”

“The catch rule has been obviously a subject for debate and what we try to do is just make it clearer as to what the time element is,” Blandino said. “A catch is control, then two feet (down in bounds), then time. And we all tend to agree, for the most part, on control and two feet.

“But it’s that time element that becomes gray. Well, how long does the player have to have the ball after the second foot is down? So what we try to do in the (rule) book is put some language in, some things that are tangible that you can look at. So after the second foot is down, does the player tuck the ball away? Does he turn upfield? Does he have the ability to avoid contact, whether that’s using his off arm to attempt to stiff-arm a defender?

“So it’s some things that fans and coaches and players and, most importantly, officials can look at and use to make a decision that that receiver has now transitioned to a runner and now he has possession. So if the ball comes loose after that, it’s a fumble versus an incomplete pass.

“So, really, not a change to how the rule is being officiated, but it’s just trying to make it clearer, trying to give our officials and everybody else just some things that they can look for when we’re looking at these plays because these are plays that have been debated over the past couple of years. We’ve been talking about catch-no catch with the Competition Committee for 10-15 years.”
Ten to 15 years later, the rule still isn’t much clearer.

Anquan Boldin’s free agency might be nearing its end. Training camp, which is the time when Boldin would be expected to start mastering a new offense, is just a couple weeks away, and one team has reportedly emerged as the favorite to sign the 35-year-old receiver.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Saints should be considered the frontrunner in the Boldin sweepstakes, which has drawn mild interest. Boldin reportedly visited the Lions and Redskins earlier this offseason.

If Boldin signs with the Saints, he’ll slot in alongside the speedy Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas, who the Saints drafted in the second round of this year’s draft. At this stage in his career (and for the past few years), Boldin’s slowed considerably, but he’s still a big-bodied target capable of warding off defenders on tightly contested passes.

Philadelphia hosting 2017 NFL draft, even if Eagles have no first-rounder?

So we likely won’t see a Donovan McNabb-like situation play out next year, but I am not sure we would have anyway. A lot of that talk about Philly-folks-being-angry talk is a bit overblown (and even if it’s not, I am at least trying to insulate myself from their wrath in case Yahoo asks me to attend — smart, eh?).

Host-city teams have made it through the early stages of the draft just fine despite the lack of a first-round pick in the past. That said, the draft was in New York for 50 years prior to Chicago getting it the past two, and there are two NFL teams there. The New York Giants lacked first-rounders during the era where the draft was a big fan event in 1993 and 2005; the New York Jets lacked one in four different years over the past few decades — 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2005.

So somehow, New Yorkers had to wait until the 43rd and 47th picks, respectively, to hear their teams make picks. (What made it funnier, too, was that the Jets’ first pick that year was a kicker — Mike Nugent.) Of course, that was a three-day even back then, so Nuge came off on Day 1, albeit later in the night. In the current format, assuming the Eagles don’t trade back into Round 1, the Philly fans would not hear the team make a pick for 24 hours or more after the draft kicks off.

But overall, a change of host city seems like a good idea. As good a host as Chicago was, the indoor venue was lacking and the league is looking to make this traveling-circus (until L.A., home of the NFL Network, likely lands it for the long term) as another way to promote the league and — duh — make more money. It makes sense for them, and it gives good NFL cities a chance to have the football world descend there for a few days. Yay, almost everyone wins.

It’s also a great chance for the locals to put on a good show and help dispel the myth that they are not warm, convivial hosts to out-of-towners, right? Right.

Von Miller and the Broncos planned to meet Friday.

The Denver Broncos and Von Miller seemingly realize something, with their July 15 deadline coming up fast.

The Broncos need Miller. And Miller needs the Broncos.

According to ESPN’s Ed Werder the Broncos and Miller planned to meet Friday, one week before the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign a long-term deal. There have been plenty of nasty things said through the process, like contract details being leaked, Miller’s passive aggressive protest of cropping Broncos GM John Elway out of an Instagram photo and Miller letting it be known he won’t play for the franchise tag in 2016.

But we know how the drill works. May and June is for sniping at each other in the media and weeks of doomsday stories about how Player X will never play for Team Y again. Then July comes around and everyone gets down to business.

Denard Robinson was asleep at wheel when he crashed into a pond reported that an officer on the scene determined Robinson was not impaired and shouldn’t be charged with a DUI.

According to the police report from Fox 30 in Jacksonville, Robinson took a wide left turn, causing the car to go over the sidewalk and down the embankment. There were no skid marks indicating Robinson tried to stop the car before it crashed.

According to TMZ, an officer knocked on the driver’s door window of Robinson’s car. Robinson opened his eyes and went back to sleep.

“I continued to knock on the window until the passenger woke up and rolled the window down and said, ‘What’s up,’” the officer wrote in the report, according to TMZ. “I explained that their vehicle was in a pond and that they needed to exit.”

Robinson, a phenomenal college quarterback for the Wolverines, has been a solid contributor in his three seasons with the Jaguars. He has 941 rushing yards, 288 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Calvin Johnson said he had a “fair share” of concussions although he was never officially diagnosed with one
There was a good reason Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson retired at age 30, not that we couldn’t have figured it out months ago.

Johnson detailed some of his injury history to ESPN’s “E:60,” and discussed the things he had to do to stay on the field during his nine NFL seasons. The most startling revelation was that he believes he and other NFL players suffer a concussion as frequently as “every third play.” What makes that so scary is Johnson was never officially diagnosed with a concussion in his career.

“Concussions happen,” Johnson said. “If not on every play, then they happen like every other, every third play, you know. With all the helmet contact, guys hitting the ground, heads hitting ground. It’s simply when your brain touches your skull from the movement or the inertia, man. It’s simple to get a concussion, you know. I don’t know how many I’ve had over my career, you know, but I’ve definitely had my fair share.”

Undrafted rookie Dominique Robertson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP)
Robertson, 21, was hospitalized in Loma Linda, Calif. with gunshot wounds and was released Friday night. Riverside County sheriff’s deputies detained him for questioning, according to Robertson’s mother, but would not confirm his identity or why he was being questioned.

Robertson’s attorney, Zulu Ali, said his client was questioned without legal representation and that his client’s Sixth Amendment rights might have been violated.

“We just basically know that he was obviously a victim of a shooting and they came and they took him directly out of the hospital,” Ali said.

The extent of Robertson’s wounds were unclear. He told authorities he was shot outside an apartment complex, but police found no evidence of a crime and area residents reportedly heard no gunshots.

One year ago, the Bucs learned that one of their players, C.J. Wilson, had suffered a fireworks-related injury over July 4 weekend, like the New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul had. Wilson since has retired from football.

Robertson transferred to West Georgia from Texas Tech in 2014 after two years at Riverside (Calif.) Community College. At West Georgia, Robertson was arrested in 2015 for felony obstruction and simple assault and battery. Although he was invited to the NFL scouting combine, Robertson was not picked in the 2016 draft.

NFL News 2016, NFL Football News