News and Views

Toby Gerhart In Line To Handle Fullback Role Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Time: 12:58 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: The news was straightforward: The Jaguars waived fullback Bradie Ewing. His release is that it means the Jags don't currently have a fullback on their roster. As NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted, the door is now open for Gerhart to line up at fullback.
Diehards Line: Moving Gerhart to an H-back role has been discussed since the Jags snagged Bernard Pierce off the waiver wire from the Baltimore Ravens following his DUI arrest. With shifty Denard Robinson and second-year runner Storm Johnson also appearing to have their roles increase, it seemed Gerhart could be squeezed out of the rotation altogether. However, as NFL.com suggests, putting him into an H-back/fullback role can keep him on the field and potentially provide another dimension to the Jaguars' offensive attack. Still, the move has to be considered a disappointment for a player who signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract last offseason to be the team's primary back. But Gerhart couldn't stay healthy in 2014 and was unproductive behind a shaky line (3.2 yards per carry).
Caldwell Expects Bigger Role For Theo Riddick Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Time: 12:56 PT |  Reported by MLive.com
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The Facts: The Lions plunged to 28th in rushing last season, then cut one-time starting tailback Reggie Bush. Clearly they have a need at the position. And Jim Caldwell expects Riddick to be a part of the solution. "We try and give (the ball) to the guys who are going to do something with it, and I think he's going to be one of those guys who's going to force us to give him the ball more," Caldwell said last week at the NFL owners meetings. "I think you're really going to see him come along."
Diehards Line: Riddick seemed like a better fit the New Orleans-style system the new coaching staff installed last season. But once the season began, it quickly became obvious Riddick remained the team's third option behind Bush and Joique Bell. He had one touch each of the first two weeks, and seven in the first five weeks combined. Riddick's playing time eventually expanded in October and November, when Bush was slowed by a stubborn ankle injury. And he delivered whenever called upon. But once Bush returned from injury, Riddick immediately faded from the game plan. He finished the season with just 20 carries for 51 yards, plus 34 catches for 316 yards and four touchdowns. Caldwell expects Riddick's role to grow next season, though MLive.com's Kyle Meinke notes that could depend on what kind of tailback the team adds in April's draft. As Meinke summed up: "Riddick is a plus-plus pass catcher out of the backfield, but hasn't shown any kind of chops yet on the ground -- yet."
Ravens, Rob Housler Said To Have Mutual Interest Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Time: 12:55 PT |  Reported by the Baltimore Sun
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The Facts: There's mutual interest between the Ravens and Housler, according to league sources. Although no deal has been reached in contract discussions, the two sides are expected to keep talking in search of a financial compromise.
Diehards Line:As Sun staffer Aaron Wilson suggests, the former Cardinals starter could be a good fit for new Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman as an athletic pass-catching tight end. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds at the 2011 NFL scouting combine, the fastest time among any tight end that year. Housler visited the Atlanta Falcons this month and the Browns were recently reported to have interest in Housler -- also mutual. Housler had 84 catches for nearly 900 yards from 2012-13, but his production plummeted to nine catches and 129 yards last year. He was targeted just 17 times. The Ravens have a need at tight end after veteran Owen Daniels signed a three-year, $12.5 million contract this offseason to join the Broncos. Owens' departure leaves Crockett Gillmore, who provides a blocking presence and caught 10 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown as a rookie last season at the top of their depth chart.
Jacquizz Rodgers Visiting The Bears Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Time: 10:38 PT |  Reported by Profootballtalk.com
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The Facts: Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Jacquizz Rodgers is visiting with the Bears.
Diehards Line: Rodgers spent four years with the Falcons after Atlanta drafted him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. The Bears have Matt Forte and Ka’Deem Carey as their top two backs. Rodgers was of most use in the passing game during his tenure with the Falcons, catching 155 passes for 1,104 yards and five touchdowns while also playing the role of pass blocker when the situation called for it. He didn’t add nearly as much as a runner, but that’s probably not the chief concern in Chicago with Forte and Carey already on hand. Of course, fantasy owners would point out that much of Forte's value comes from his receiving totals; adding a receiving back isn't necessarily what we're hoping for.
Chiefs Take A Look At Brandon Tate Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Time: 10:38 PT |  Reported by Profootballtalk.com
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The Facts: Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports the team visited with Brandon Tate recently.
Diehards Line:As PFT reminded readers, the Chiefs didn’t get any touchdown catches from their wide receivers in 2014, which left the position as an obvious area to look for help this offseason. Kansas City signed Jeremy Maclin away from the Eagles and re-signed Jason Avant to continue the veteran’s long relationship with Andy Reid, but their ongoing interest is improving the position is understandable. Tate caught 17 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown in 16 appearances for the Bengals last season, modest totals that represented a big jump over the 14 catches he mustered while playing every game in the three previous seasons. Speed has been his calling card in the NFL, but those catch totals illustrate how rarely it has led to big plays on offense. Tate’s main role in Cincinnati came as a punt and kickoff returner, but the Chiefs are well stocked at those spots with De’Anthony Thomas and Knile Davis.
Stevan Ridley Visiting The Dolphins Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Time: 9:39 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... Ridley will meet with the Miami Dolphins, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday, according to a source informed of the player's plans.
Diehards Line:Ridley is coming off an ACL tear that shortened his 2014 season to just six games. With LeGarrette Blount in the fold, the Pats appear to have moved on. The Dolphins need help behind Lamar Miller. Miami's second leading rusher last season was QB Ryan Tannehill, as the Dolphins couldn't find a proper complement to Miller after Knowshon Moreno went down after three games. Daniel Thomas is a free agent and never turned into the thunder to Miller's lightning. As NFL.com notes,second-year pro Damien Williams has athleticism, good size and displayed some burst, but had just 36 carries as a rookie. If Ridley can prove he'll be fine coming off an ACL tear, he could be the tough, between-the-tackles runner the Dolphins need to add this offseason. ... Stay tuned.
Redskins Exec Williams: Nobody Has Given Up On Robert Griffin III Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Time: 12:21 PT |  Reported by CSNWashington.com
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The Facts: Redskins executive and former Super Bowl-winning QB Doug Williams joined Sirius XM this weekend to talk about the Skins' offseason and the future of Griffin. "This is a young guy that’s got some talent," Williams said. "There are adjustments that he has to make if think given time, and I think that’s one of the reasons why nobody has given up on him. With the talent that he does have, you’re hoping that the last couple of years with the injuries and everything is out of the way, that he will develop into the guy that we all hope for him to be. I think it’s fair to give him that opportunity."
Diehards Line: Williams also spoke on HC Jay Gruden naming RG3 the starter back in February and what the franchise is hoping Griffin can get better at. "I think being in there and sitting down and talking to Jay, and talking to everybody that’s involved, I think it’s evident that Jay has done what he thought was right in naming him the starting quarterback. But at the same time, Jay also said that we hope he can improve," he said. ... In case you missed it, Gruden has stressed that Griffin is the starter right now. It'll be up to RG3 to hold onto it (whether the team adds a QB in next month's draft or not).
Fox: Jay Cutler Needs To Work On His Confidence Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Time: 12:16 PT |  Reported by Profootballtalk.com
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The Facts: HC John Fox said last week that Cutler would be in an open competition for the starting QB job in 2015, something that could result in Cutler making $15 million to hold a clipboard while Jimmy Clausen or David Fales leads the Bears into the fray on Sundays. That seems like an unlikely way for things to play out, something that even Fox seemed to admit while discussing what needs to change in order for Cutler to put forth a better effort than he managed last year. “I think he got to the point that he lacked confidence a year ago. To build that back up is going to take time, daily. It takes trust like any relationship. I think he and [offensive coordinator] Adam Gase having a relationship from back in Denver [is helpful] so I think it starts there,” Fox said.
Diehards Line: The coach continued: “Football-wise, there are things you can do in coaching to minimize some of the exposure. Playing complementary football is going to help. I don’t want to just single him out. I have concerns with really everybody we’re going to line up as a starter. But I know this: Unless something good happens, it’s hard to have confidence. ...” We'll suggest that's a two-way street. It's not just Cutler having confidence in himself; that confidence has to be shared by the staff. We'll see if both sides can boost theirs over the course of the coming OTA and mini-camp run.
Miles Austin Agrees To One-Year Deal With Philadelphia Monday, March 30, 2015 | Time: 5:32 PT |  Reported by NFL.com
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The Facts: Chip Kelly is adding another wideout to his receiving corps. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Austin has agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.3 million in base salary with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to a source informed of the situation. Austin can make another $700,000 in incentives, Rapoport added.
Diehards Line: The 30-year-old wideout played in 12 games, starting 11, for the Cleveland Browns last season before being placed on injured reserve with a kidney injury. Austin caught 47 passes for 568 yards and two touchdowns in 2014. The former Dallas Cowboys receiver has dealt with injuries -- including persistent hamstring troubles -- that have sidetracked his career following back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2009 and 2010. It's not clear where Austin fits in with a group currently led by Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Riley Cooper. But nobody should expect Austin to play more than a complimentary role.
Redskins Sign RB Michael Hill Monday, March 30, 2015 | Time: 5:27 PT |  Reported by Profootballtalk.com
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The Facts: Hill, a second-year tailback from Missouri Western, re-signed with Washington on Monday, according to the NFL’s personnel notice.
Diehards Line:Hill (5-10, 210) was on Washington’s practice squad toward the end of last season. He was last with the Colts, who waived him in March. The 25-year-old Hill has also played for San Diego (2013), Green Bay (2013, 2014) and Tampa Bay (2013-2014). Overall, he’s rushed for 23 yards on nine carries and caught two passes for 23 years in NFL regular season play, all in 2013 in stints with Green Bay and Tampa Bay. Hill joins Silas Redd and exclusive-rights free agent Chris Thompson as reserve options behind starter Alfred Morris in Washington.