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LeSean McCoy, other options for Eagles to replace Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles Blog


PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles lost lead running back Jay Ajayi to a torn ACL this week, stripping an already sputtering offense of one of its primary weapons. Led by one of the most aggressive personnel men in the business in Howie Roseman, and with hopes of a Super Bowl repeat still alive in Philly, speculation is running wild as to whether a trade for a running back is in the cards between now and the Oct. 30 deadline.

Let’s take a look at some of the big names being thrown around, as well as some under-the-radar options provided by our NFL Nation reporters.

Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (26 years old)

The big fish. It’s easy to see why the Eagles, or any team for that matter, would be interested in perhaps the best back in the NFL. He’d instantly improve the ground game and the passing game, both as a receiver and in pass protection, while adding an explosive, dynamic back who would open things up for his teammates and instantly lift this offense off the ground. Roseman and Co. are always on the lookout for market anomalies: How often does a player of this caliber become available? From that perspective, a talent like Bell has to be intriguing.

The Eagles recently restructured Fletcher Cox‘s contract to create cap room, but according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, they have not pursued a trade for Bell and do not have plans to do so at this time. The Eagles will need a portion of that cap space to re-sign some of their in-house players over the next couple of seasons — Carson Wentz is going to get a massive contract before long — and it would be difficult to re-sign Bell, who is in the last year of his deal, to a massive new contract given their financial situation.

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (30 years old)

Reports surfaced Tuesday that the Eagles have checked in on McCoy’s availability since news of Ajayi’s injury came down. That makes sense, given McCoy’s familiarity with the Eagles organization (he spent his first six seasons in Philadelphia) and experience in systems similar to coach Doug Pederson’s. McCoy is 30 years old, and perhaps the Buffalo Bills want to get some value for him as they look to replenish the roster. The flip side is that McCoy is currently one of the Bills’ top players. Sitting at 2-3, they probably aren’t looking to throw in the towel on the 2018 season. The asking price might not match the level of interest. The Eagles would also have to be comfortable with their research into off-the-field matters surrounding McCoy of late.

Under-the-radar backs

We asked our fellow NFL Nation reporters for backs on their teams who could potentially be available Here’s what came back:

Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (25 years old)

“The Lions’ starter last year, Abdullah has yet to have a carry in a game this year and was inactive the first four weeks of the season. He can be a multi-purpose back and has returner value. Also in the last year of his contract.” — Mike Rothstein

Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks (25 years old)

“He’s been Seattle’s No. 2 back for the last few weeks behind Chris Carson and ahead of top pick Rashaad Penny. Had 101 yards and two TDs two weeks ago with Carson out. Seahawks are about to have a bit of a logjam at RB with J.D. McKissic set to come off IR, and you figure they’ll want to get Penny more work than he’s been getting. Davis is 25 and playing on a one-year deal worth $1.35 million. Not a bad special teams player either.” — Brady Henderson

Detrez Newsome, Los Angeles Chargers (24 years old)

“Newsome is on the Chargers practice squad, but made the active roster out of training camp. He also can return kicks.” — Eric Williams

Other names to consider

ESPN’s Dan Graziano posted a list of backs the Eagles could take a look at:

Tevin Coleman, 25, share carries in Atlanta with Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith. He is in the final year of his rookie contract. LeGarrette Blount, 31, was the Eagles’ top rusher last season (766 yards, 2 TDs) during their Super Bowl run. He fit into the locker room well and would be able to acclimate quickly.

Jordan Howard of the Chicago Bears and Seattle’s C.J. Prosise Jr. were also recently floated as possibilities.

In-house options

With three weeks remaining before the trade deadline, the Eagles can take some time to see how their own backs perform before making a move if they wish. It will likely be a committee approach between Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles, when healthy, with rookie Josh Adams sprinkled in. Sproles has been sidelined since Week 1 with a hamstring injury and did not practice on Tuesday. Clement (quad) has returned to action after sitting out the last couple of games.

From a fantasy perspective, Clement would be the most appealing option, followed by Smallwood, though it would probably be best to wait and see how things shake out over the next couple of weeks.

The search for help likely won’t be limited to running back. The Eagles could use help at receiver and in the defensive secondary as well. Roseman will be working the phones to see if there are deals out there that make sense.





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Jay Ajayi questions Eagles’ lack of running game in loss


PHILADELPHIA — Eagles running back Jay Ajayi was puzzled by the decision to not lean on the ground game, particularly early, in Sunday’s 23-21 loss to the Minnesota Vikings which dropped the defending champs to 2-3 on the season.

“Obviously we want to be able to run the ball early and start that rhythm early in the beginning of the game. If I remember correctly we had maybe three carries at the end of the first quarter,” he told reporters afterwards.

“With the offensive line we have on this team, running the ball like that, that doesn’t make sense to me.”

Ajayi, who is playing with a transverse fracture in his back, didn’t receive his first carry until the second quarter, and the Eagles called just four meaningful runs over the first half while falling behind 17-3.

Coach Doug Pederson ended up calling 35 pass plays to 17 runs despite the backs averaging close to five yards per carry on the ground.

It was a similar story last week, with the Eagles dialing up 50 passes to 22 rushes (5.3 yards per attempt) in a 26-23 loss to the Titans. The Eagles have been short-handed at the running back position with both Darren Sproles (hamstring) and Corey Clement (quad) hampered by injuries.

Quarterback Carson Wentz has been averaging 41 dropbacks per game since returning from multi-ligament knee surgery in Week 3, and has taken his share of punishment. He has been sacked 12 times and absorbed 27 QB hits in three games of work this season.

The offensive line has not been as reliable as expected in pass protection, and there are times when Wentz is holding the ball too long.

“Obviously, you want to eliminate as many as you can, reduce the number of hits,” Pederson said. “Active quarterback, you know he’s going to move and made some great plays [Sunday] with his legs and found some holes to run and to throw out of.”

The Eagles went run-heavy to start the second half against Minnesota and found immediate success, but Ajayi fumbled at the Vikings five-yard line to squander the opportunity.

“I can’t do that,” Ajayi said. “I pride myself on being elite. I want to be elite. I want to be the best. You can’t do that when your team is counting on you.”



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Jay Gruden: Expectations should be high, given Redskins’ talent – Washington Redskins Blog


RICHMOND, Va. — Jay Gruden doesn’t need a reminder. The Washington Redskins coach knows the situation quite well. It’s his fifth season, which makes him the longest-tenured coach under owner Dan Snyder. The Redskins have missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons.

The math adds up to the obvious: It’s time to win.

“We do need to produce, without a doubt,” Gruden said. “It’s a production-based business, without a doubt. Every NFL head coach knows that’s the deal, whether you’re in your first year, fifth year, 10th year or in the Hall of Fame. You’ve got to win.”

That’s why it’s good for Gruden that he views this roster as the most complete one he has had in Washington. Player after player has said the vibe is different this season, though that has been said in past camps.

The Redskins have won 10 games only three times since they won the Super Bowl after the 1991 season. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2005. It’s a fan base and an organization that want much more. The team has taken steps under Gruden, going from four wins his first season to nine and an NFC East title in his second. But then it was 8-7-1 followed by 7-9.

Snyder gave Gruden a two-year extension in February 2017, and the head coach would be wise to avoid job security speculation by leading this team to the postseason this time around. Otherwise, we could see the eighth coaching change under Snyder, who bought the team in 1999.

Not that this weighs on Gruden more than it has in the past. He doesn’t come across any differently, displaying sarcasm and humor during news conferences. He works on the field the same with the players, sometimes lining up as a defensive back against receivers in drills.

“I felt pressure the moment I signed the contract,” he said. “That’s the way it is here in D.C. Everyone expects a winner. I know Mr. Snyder does and Bruce [Allen], the whole city and the fans. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to this without winning a playoff game. I understand the expectations are high. We’ve put ourselves in position that it should be high, given the talent on this team.”

Gruden said this is the most talent he has had since he was hired in 2014. The Redskins have more depth on the defensive line and at running back. They have a veteran quarterback in Alex Smith, who they believe is an upgrade over Kirk Cousins, now with Minnesota.

Gruden also pointed to defensive improvements, adding first-round defensive lineman Daron Payne to pair with his former Alabama teammate, Jonathan Allen. The organization hopes it has created more depth based on how some players were forced to play during an injury-filled 2017.

“Yes, we have more players that can step in and play than we ever have,” Gruden said. “We have the makings of something pretty good. Now it’s a matter of getting everyone on the same page. It’s about producing and playing in key situations and making plays when it counts.”

The Redskins like their running back situation, starting with rookie Derrius Guice and third-down back Chris Thompson, among others. They like their receiver situation with the addition of speedster Paul Richardson. They like their tight ends now that Jordan Reed is healthy (that sound you hear is the organization collectively knocking on wood). If they stay healthy — the team used 36 offensive line combinations last season — and if players such as receiver Josh Doctson develop, then the Redskins could have an explosive attack, which doesn’t mean to Gruden what you think.

“Explosive to me doesn’t mean 40 points a game,” Gruden said. “Explosive to me is ball control, having big-play ability, of course, but also expressing your will on the defense. Hopefully with the power we now have at running back and the tight ends able to block, I think we can control the line of scrimmage. So explosive might mean control the ball and score 20 points. We have the ability to do a lot of different things. We can spread you out or tighten you in and run the ball. It’s just us finding a happy medium and not going too crazy with the 300-play list for game day.”

That’s why players are optimistic.

“I can’t pinpoint it. Just the vibe feels different,” said Thompson, who is coming off a broken fibula. “I know Jay feels it, and we feel it. It’s a matter of us getting all the guys healthy.”

Safety D.J. Swearinger said the vibe is definitely different.

“We got a lot of leaders on this team, especially with quarterback, and we get a guy like Alex Smith in here,” he said. “Defensively, we got a lot of pieces. We added a lot of pieces on offense. The talent is through the roof. The main thing is get the chemistry there, and you get the chemistry there, and there will be trouble.”

That would be good news for Gruden and the Redskins. Otherwise, there could be a different sort of trouble.



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Former NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for photo with gun


Former NFL kicker Jay Feely has apologized after posting a picture on his Twitter account of himself carrying a gun next to his daughter and her prom date.

The original post went up Saturday, and he posted the apology on Sunday, saying: “The prom picture I posted was obviously intended to be a joke. My Daughter has dated her boyfriend for over a year and they knew I was joking. I take gun safety seriously (the gun was not loaded and had no clip in) and I did not intend to be insensitive to that important issue.”

Feely, 41, has been a football analyst on CBS since 2014. He played for six teams in a 14-year NFL career, most recently for four games with the Bears in 2014.





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Broncos gave Jay Cutler silent treatment before drafting him – Denver Broncos Blog


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Just this week, the guy who makes the football decisions for the Denver Broncos, John Elway, made it clear how important it is to get to know draft prospects.

He made it clear how much he values face-to-face conversations, the quality time, as he prepares to select fifth overall on Thursday.

“When you have them in on a visit you get to know them better,” Elway said. “You still don’t get to know them really well, but you get to know them better and you learn about the personalities. I don’t jump to conclusions that they are true. I draw my own conclusions, so no matter what’s been said out there, I try to draw my own conclusions and get as many viewpoints on a kid. The bottom line is I have to draw from my own and with the feel I get from them. … It’s hard to draw from too many different opinions until you get around them and get a feel for them yourself.”

But more than a decade ago, one of the Broncos’ quirkier draft chapters involved little power of conversation, limited quality time and absolutely no face-to-face meetings. As the Broncos look hard at another draft board with several high-profile quarterbacks under review, there is the silence-is-golden story of the Broncos and Jay Cutler.

Because when the Broncos traded up — not once, but twice — in the first round of the 2006 draft to select Cutler at No. 11, the man making the decision then — Mike Shanahan — had not spoken to Cutler face-to-face at any point leading up to the draft. The Broncos didn’t even attend Cutler’s pro day at Vanderbilt.

“Not once,” Cutler has said. “Never. The first time I talked to him was after they picked me.”

It seems so out of place now as every crumb of information, every sliver of body language, is shoved through multiple levels of review, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. So much so that earlier this year when Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was presented with the idea of a team selecting him without first talking to him, it seemed foreign.

“At all? Not at all?” asked Mayfield, one of the most highly rated quarterbacks in this year’s draft. “Wow, I don’t know, just from my own experiences, I’m not sure I can even see that happening.”

Wyoming’s Josh Allen, too, wasn’t quite sure how to consider such a thing.

“I can’t say that’s happened,” Allen said early in the draft process. “I already feel like I’ve talked to every team or at least somebody from every team with [the Senior Bowl], combine and everything.”

Shanahan has always maintained it was all part of special circumstances. Coming off an appearance in the AFC Championship Game, the Broncos were slated to pick 29th in 2006. Shanahan liked Cutler enough as a player to want to draft him, but knew that wasn’t going to happen near the bottom of the first round.

Years later when Shanahan, as the Washington Redskins head coach with the No. 2 pick in hand, was deciding between Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, he openly discussed both, met with both and did nothing to hide the pursuit.

“We were picking 2, and if you’re there, you have to like both guys, be willing to pick either guy and we were, as an organization, willing to pick either guy then,” Shanahan said. “[The 2006 draft] was different. I was trying to get in position and it was going to be close.”

So Shanahan called on a friend. Jeff Fisher’s Tennessee Titans had the No. 3 pick and team owner K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr. had already pointed at Texas quarterback Vince Young. Because the Titans had such a high pick, they vetted, met with and worked out the top three quarterback prospects in that draft: Young, USC’s Matt Leinart and Cutler.

“We had sat down with them all,” Fisher said this past season. “And we knew Vince was going to be the pick, so in that situation I talked to Mike about the guys as people. We knew, in our situation, Vince was the pick, we weren’t compromising that in any way.”

“I could see the rest on film,” Shanahan said. “So, we didn’t have to participate in the talk … it was a little different.”

Information in hand and with a desire to select Cutler, the Broncos made a trade with the Atlanta Falcons on the first night of the 2006 draft to move up from 29 to 15. But Shanahan didn’t believe that would be quite enough, as the top nine picks were made with Cutler and Leinart still on the board.

The Arizona Cardinals then selected Leinart at No. 10, so Shanahan made a trade with the then-St. Louis Rams to get to No. 11 — where the Broncos selected Cutler.

“I’ve said it was kind of the same way we did when we got [linebacker] John Mobley [in the 1996 draft],” Shanahan said. “We never talked to him before that draft before we took him [at No. 15]. Jimmy Johnson called me after that one. I think he wanted to take him, too.”



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