News and Views

Packers Will Continue To Keep An Eye On Eddie Lacy's Carries Sunday, March 29, 2015 | Time: 1:13 PT |  Reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Facts: HC Mike McCarthy knows that Lacy takes (and delivers) punishment that other backs don't because of his bulldozer running style. McCarthy said he's not concerned with changing Lacy's willingness to run over people instead of around them, and that the best way to preserve him is to limit his touches. "It's a learning experience," McCarthy said. "I'm conscientious of how many times each guy touches the ball, how much each guy plays, especially the running back. I think you have to be smart there."
Diehards Line: In terms of carries, Lacy's average per game last season didn't even crack the top 10 in the NFL last season. He ranked 13th with 15.4. McCarthy said the 246 attempts he gave Lacy didn't reach the target he had set, but he liked the way he limited Lacy's snaps and carries early in the season and increased them down the stretch. In 34 games over his first two seasons, including playoffs, Lacy has carried 611 times, which ranks fourth in the NFL behind Seattle's Marshawn Lynch (709), Murray (653) and Buffalo's LeSean McCoy (647). His carries in 2013 (305) and 2014 (306) were almost identical, so if anything McCarthy has found some balance. Look for more of the same going forward.
Stevan Ridley To Start Making Free Agent Visits Sunday, March 29, 2015 | Time: 1:12 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... Ridley is scheduled to make his first visits in free agency this week as he explores potential opportunities for 2015 that would have him playing elsewhere from New England.
Diehards Line: Ridley tore his right ACL on Oct. 12, had surgery Nov. 18, and's Mike Reiss reports the running back is on target to receive full medical clearance in about six weeks. Reiss went on to note that Ridley is probably looking at a prove-it type one-year deal because of the injury and thus one consideration he’s weighing is landing with a team where there is a great chance to break through. ... We'll be watching to see which teams show some interest.
If Andre Johnson Wasn't Already Irritated At Texans... Sunday, March 29, 2015 | Time: 1:05 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: When the Texans informed Johnson that he would be an afterthought in Bill O'Brien's offense this season, the franchise icon laughed his way to the top of the division in Indianapolis. Texans owner Bob McNair said this week that he wasn't surprised at Johnson's reaction because it's human nature for athletes to go into denial in the twilight of their careers. "Every athlete I think would like to play forever," McNair said. "They never want to acknowledge that they've lost a step or they can't quite do what they did before. Just look at history. Look at all the players. It just happens time and time again."
Diehards Line: While it's a bit of a surprise to hear McNair say it publicly, the point is taken. As's Chris Wesseling noted, a potential Hall of Famer, Johnson was the best receiver in the game at his career apex. A superstar of that magnitude wouldn't have taken a backseat to an up-and-comer like DeAndre Hopkins if he hadn't lost a step. But there were other factors involved. Was Johnson's decline in production purely the onset of physical attrition? Or was it just as much about a changing role in a new offense with a four-pack of scattershot QB? Whatever the case, it's hard to argue Wesseling's contention that Johnson isn't going to accept McNair's appraisal at face value. The Colts believe Johnson can return to that elite 2012-2013 level catching passes from Andrew Luck, easily the best quarterback of his 13-year career. And having a big chip on his shoulder won't slow Johnson down any more than age.
C.J. Anderson Heads Into OTAs As Denver's Starter Saturday, March 28, 2015 | Time: 11:55 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: One of the most intriguing offseason battles to watch this summer will take place in the Denver Broncos' backfield, which is stocked with young runners Anderson, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman. "Who's going to be the bell cow, who's going to play every down, who's going to be the three-down player, they've got to sort that out," HC Gary Kubiak said this week.
Diehards Line: But went on to note that Kubiak's comment came amid copious praise of Anderson. The 24-year-old flashed a power and speed combo coaches drool over during a brilliant end to last season, in which he carried the load while Peyton Manning battled injuries. Anderson's style would seem to be custom-made for Kubiak's zone-blocking, one-cut runner style -- and Kubiak realizes it. "[Anderson] made a big jump as a player, and I think he's earned the right to walk into the offseason program -- the OTAs -- and line up as our starter," Kubiak said. "But he's got to continue to earn it on a daily basis. I think he's shown he has all the ability to be an excellent starter in this league, so we're really looking forward to working with him." Fantasy owners should feel the same.
Rivera: 15 Carries A Game Is Ideal For Jonathan Stewart Saturday, March 28, 2015 | Time: 11:54 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: The Panthers may have given up on all-time leading rusher DeAngelo Williams, but they haven't given up on the two-back system. HC Ron Rivera said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meeting the Panthers ideally would like to get about 15 carries from Jonathan Stewart and then 8-10 from another back. "The thing you've got to be careful about in this league is you can't rely on one player at one position,' Rivera said. "Running back has definitely been proven that you've got to have a good two-back tandem." The Panthers have Fozzy Whittaker and fullback/running back Mike Tolbert to spell Stewart. But neither can replace him without a dropoff
Diehards Line:in talent like Williams could. So look for that other back to be found in the NFL draft. The Panthers hosted Georgia's Todd Gurley, expected to be the first or second back selected, last week. According to's David Newton, they also have shown interest in Indiana's Tevin Coleman, Southern California's Javorius Allen and a few other backs who would be second- to mid-round picks. "We're looking for that complement to Jonathan," Rivera added. Stewart proved to be one of the most productive backs in the league last year when healthy. He led the NFL in rushing with 437 yards from Weeks 12-15 while Williams was out with a broken hand. The Panthers just want to make sure they remain productive when Stewart can't play or needs a rest.
Gruden Looking To Get Pierre Garcon's Numbers Back Up Saturday, March 28, 2015 | Time: 11:52 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: In 2013, Garcon set a franchise record for receptions and finished eighth in the NFL in receiving yards. In 2014, the team added DeSean Jackson and Garcon's numbers dropped off precipitously. HC Jay Gruden said this week that he intends to get Garcon's numbers "back up" in 2015 by ensuring stability at quarterback and spreading the ball around more evenly. "I think we missed him on a lot of opportunities," Gruden said of Garcon. "That just comes with playing [wide receiver] with three quarterbacks, which is never the ideal situation, obviously. That hurt all the receivers."
Diehards Line: Indeed, as's Tarik El-Bashir reminded readers, in 2014 the Redskins started three QBs -- Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy -- and each endured their share of struggles. The revolving door disrupted game planning, not to mention chemistry and timing in the passing game. Garcon's receptions total dropped from 113 to 68, his yardage plummeted a whopping 44 percent, from 1,346 to 752, and his number of first downs fell from 60 to 32. "Moving forward, we'll get some stability at the quarterback position [and] you'll see all the numbers go up for all the receivers, hopefully," Gruden said. Put the emphasis on the "hopefully" there folks.
Still Hope For Stephen Hill? Saturday, March 28, 2015 | Time: 11:49 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: Hill's time on the practice squad wasn't wasted. He improved to the point that HC Ron Rivera believes the New York Jets' 2012 second-round pick is ready to be a factor in 2015. "Very much so," Rivera said Wednesday. "He's a guy we feel has an opportunity. We're very excited about [seeing] Stephen during OTAs and mini-camp."
Diehards Line: Rivera went on to explain, "With his size (6-4, 215) and speed and his ability to get vertical, if he can assimilate to what we do -- and I think he will; he seems to be a very smart man - he might be a guy that has an opportunity to contribute for us." Hill is so close that Rivera doesn't feel the sense of urgency to draft a speed receiver. That doesn't mean the Panthers won't take one in the first couple of rounds if a receiver is the best player available. "It takes pressure off us, most certainly," Rivera said. "The big thing, we have a guy that potentially can contribute, and in a big way. And at the end of the day, you can sit back and say he was a second-round pick." The Jets had high expectations for Hill. But between his lack of production and a history of drops he never fulfilled those. He was cut at the end of training camp last season, and the Panthers were quick to stash him on their practice squad. And this year, because the roster isn't set, Hill has a chance to win a spot on his own merit.
Is Nick Foles The Long-Term Answer In St. Louis? Saturday, March 28, 2015 | Time: 12:03 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: This month's trade for Foles hasn't steered the St. Louis Rams away from wanting to add a quarterback through the draft. "It's our intention to draft one," Jeff Fisher said this week. "The Nick trade has no bearing over what we do in the draft."
Diehards Line: As's Marc Sessler notes, with Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota likely to be long gone by the time the Rams pick at No. 10, St. Louis still sounds likely to mine the later rounds for a signal-caller. No matter what St. Louis does in the draft, the onus will still be on Foles to give the Rams a dose of long-lost stability under center. We'll see if he can earn in St. Louis what he didn't in Philadelphia: The coaching staff's confidence.
Jeremy Maclin Still Trusts In Chip Saturday, March 28, 2015 | Time: 12:02 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: The NFL is quickly dividing into two succinct camps: Those who believe in what Chip Kelly is doing, and those who think his experiment will fail wildly. Count Maclin among the former despite the fact that he bolted Philadelphia for Kansas City this month in free agency. "I still believe in Chip," Maclin recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think Chip's going to do great things here. I have the utmost respect for him. Unfortunately, we couldn't get something worked out. But at the end of the day I'm very excited about playing for Kansas City and playing for Big Red."
Diehards Line: Maclin, who had a career high in receptions and yards and tied a career high in touchdowns during his only healthy season with Kelly in 2014, said his departure ultimately wasn't about the money even though Kansas City shelled out a five-year deal worth up to $55 million. "Obviously you want to get paid because of all the stuff that you do," he said. "But it wasn't necessarily about who could pay me the most money." Of course, that's how it ended up. Kelly said the Eagles wanted the receiver back but ultimately couldn't match Kansas City's offer.
Panthers Sign Former Packers WR Jarrett Boykin Friday, March 27, 2015 | Time: 2:29 PT |  Reported by
The Facts: The Panthers announced they have signed Boykin, the former Packers wide receiver, to a one-year contract.
Diehards Line:Boykin spent three years with the Packers, but became a free agent when they didn’t tender him an offer this offseason. He caught 49 passes in 2013, but fell down the pecking order when the regulars got well and caught just three passes last year. Boykin grew up in Charlotte, attending Butler High, and as PFT suggests, he has a chance to latch on in a much shallower depth chart than the one he was stuck on in Green Bay.