So here’s a new one: Dallas Cowboys defensive end David Irving says his skin ripped when he lost his nipple ring during practice on Tuesday.
It’s the second jewelry-related mishap for an NFL player this week: Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones had to enlist some scuba divers to search a Georgia lake after he lost a $100,000 diamond earring while jetskiing.
Irving, undrafted out of Iowa State in 2015, told NFL Network that his nipple skin tore when he lost his ring and he’s afraid his skin won’t close up.
When Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was told about Irving’s delicate situation, he responded pretty much as you’d expect.
“Oh God, seriously? What are we supposed to do? Look for it?,” Marinelli said with a laugh.
In true Cowboys fashion, this isn’t the only recent newsworthy event for Irving; he was a no-show for the first day of camp in Oxnard, Calif. last Friday. Oh, and he’s also suspended for the first four games of the regular season after violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The Baltimore Ravens are dealing with some concerning news as they open training camp: quarterback Joe Flacco is dealing with a back issue.
It’s unclear at the moment how serious it is. Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens beat writer for the Baltimore Sun, wrote that Flacco is dealing with back soreness that could limit him. But Zrebiec, citing sources, said, “it’s possible Flacco is either held out of a few practices this week as he continues to recover, or takes fewer repetitions during early training camp workouts,” which sounds relatively benign.
In subsequent tweets, Zrebiec reported that Flacco’s back “has been bugging him for a little while” and that he was more uncomfortable on Wednesday, prompting team doctors to check it out, and at the moment the Ravens are prescribing a week of rest for Flacco, with the hopes that the issue dies down.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted that Ravens doctors are still figuring out the exact timeframe for Flacco’s recovery; his colleague, Ian Rapoport, classified the injury as a “disc issue” but mentioned downtimes of both a week or two and 3-to-6 weeks in a tweet on the news.
As pretty much all of us know, back injuries are always to be taken seriously and can linger if not properly addressed at the outset.
The 32-year old Flacco, who is beginning his 10th season, has started 138 of 144 possible regular-season games since being drafted by Baltimore in 2008. He missed the final six games in 2015 after tearing his ACL.
Baltimore doesn’t have great backups behind Flacco: the No. 2 quarterback is Ryan Mallet, and Dustin Vaughan is also on the roster.
New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski is 6-foot-6, 270 pounds.
Canadian rugby star Adam Zaruba is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds. If Zaruba can even come close to being the matchup problem that Gronkowski is – too big for cornerbacks to cover effectively, too fast for linebackers – then the Philadelphia Eagles may have just made a wise choice.
The Eagles signed the 26-year old Zaruba on Monday after putting him through a workout on Sunday.
A profile of Zaruba in the Vancouver Sun says he played American football at Carson Graham Secondary school in the city, and was recruited to play at Simon Fraser University, the only Canadian college that is part of the NCAA, playing at the Division II level.
But football didn’t work out, as Zaruba put it: he redshirted his freshman year, didn’t play in his second and was ineligible in his third. That’s when he found his way to rugby, and three years ago became a full-time member of the national team.
Zaruba’s star turn at the World Rugby Sevens Series earlier this year drew the attention of a South African agent who was developing NFL contacts.
When he was asked if he’d like to give the NFL a try, Zaruba answered in the affirmative.
He had to change his workouts to include speed work, including the all-important 40-yard dash.
Rugby players in the NFL is still relatively rare, though it happens: Nate Ebner, the Patriots standout special teamer, was a rugby standout when he was younger and returned to the sport to take part in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio as part of the U.S. team; the San Francisco 49ers had Australian rugby standout Jarryd Hayne on their practice squad and 53-man roster in 2015.
If Zaruba can make catches like this in Philadelphia’s practices, he’ll be just fine:
UPDATE (6:35 p.m. EST): The Cowboys have released Whitehead. Multiple reporters at Dallas training camp on Monday tweeted that coach Jason Garrett was upset about the Whitehead news; turns out, the 25-year old hadn’t told team brass about his arrest, and they only found out after TMZ’s report.
One twist to this story: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted the he spoke to Whitehead’s agent, Dave Rich, and Rich claims Whitehead wasn’t in Virginia at the time police say the alleged theft occurred.
(Original post begins below.)
On Sunday, against a fair amount of evidence to the contrary, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett declared that “character is critical with us, with the Dallas Cowboys. We have built this team with great character guys.”
Sorry, Jason, that’s a no.
To the long list of transgressions committed by Cowboys players this offseason, add petty larceny.
As first reported by TMZ, wide receiver Lucky Whitehead was arrested in Prince William County, Va. on June 22 and charged with shoplifting/petit larceny under $200. Allegedly, Whitehead stole from a convenience store.
But making matters worse, Whitehead was ordered to appear in court on July 6 and according to court records, he didn’t show. A warrant has been issued for his arrest and he’s since been charged with failure to appear.
Whitehead is currently with his Cowboys teammates in Oxnard, Calif. for the start of training camp. NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport has tweeted that Whitehead will go to Virginia for an Aug. 10 hearing on his charges.
It’s been an interesting few weeks for Whitehead: the former undrafted player also said his dog, Blitz, was kidnapped and ended up in the hands of a Dallas-area rapper. Whitehead got the dog back after posting the crazy story on social media.
Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Tamba Hali might be a few months away from his 34th birthday and headed into his 12th NFL season, but his passion for the game still burns brightly.
Witness his tweets on Saturday afternoon. Hali began by saying he wanted fans to know that he played in just seven snaps in the Chiefs’ playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and noted that he had been told, presumably by coaches and team brass, that the reason he hadn’t played much during the regular season was to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Then Hali wondered: do the Chiefs still need him?
watching both Steelers game from sideline and playing 15 and 7 in the last game I’m still lost. Am I needed in KC anymore?
Though he played in all 16 games last year, it was the first time in Hali’s career he wasn’t a full-time starter, starting just twice.
But it wasn’t just his playing time Hali needed to vent about – without naming names, he also called out his teammates. On paper, Kansas City is one of the best teams in the AFC, but Hali was apparently disappointed by his teammates’ dedication to the offseason program:
According to Kansas City Star beat writer Terez Paylor, safety Eric Berry, cornerback Marcus Peters and outside linebacker Justin Peters, three of the Chiefs’ most talented defensive players skipped all of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, and Dee Ford, who led the team in sacks last year, skipped some of the workouts.
“I’m not gonna shy from it, I think it’s important, especially if you’re on our team and you’re one of our leaders, that you should always be there,” Hali said. “I don’t want to say names. This is my 12th year and I haven’t missed one offseason with the Chiefs. Whoever is on our team and expected to be a leader, we need those guys there because the younger guys come in and see these guys and say, ‘well, I want to be like him, he’s here and he has a lot of money but he’s here, he’s working with the team’. It builds such chemistry for our team.
“I try not to talk on it but it really hurts my feelings because I know how much I love the game and I want for everyone to be here so we can all just get on the same page and make this run. Sometimes that chemistry gets a little lost on your own time, you go someplace else and do your own thing. I understand it’s a business but as far as football goes, when we’re on the field, it’s no business. The business is to go kick ass. Us as players, that’s what we enjoy doing. I encourage anyone that’s on our team that feels they are a leader and can lead our team should be around our team 24/7 when we’re supposed to be there.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid will have his first press conference of training camp on Monday afternoon, but we have to wonder: will Hali’s Twitter rant be another distraction for the team?
There already promises to be breathless evaluation of the competition between veteran incumbent quarterback Alex Smith and rookie Pat Mahomes, and it remains to be seen whether Reid’s offseason power-play – just days after Reid signed a contract extension Kansas City fired general manager John Dorsey and promoted Brent Veach, who has been rising through the ranks since Reid hand-picked him for a job years ago in Philadelphia – will work.
And now Hali, one of the most productive pass-rushers in the NFL over the last decade, has not only expressed discontent with his playing time but has also called out his teammates.
It promises to be an interesting camp for the Chiefs.
The NFL season is inching closer. Through July, Shutdown Corner will examine three big questions for each NFL team as it heads to training camp.
New England Patriots
Report date: Rookies July 24; veterans July 26
Location: Foxborough, Mass.
1. Can Brandin Cooks fit into the offense seamlessly?
New England Patriots history over the last dozen or so years is littered with big-name receivers who joined the team as draft picks or free agents and just couldn’t get on the same page with Tom Brady and the offense: Joey Galloway. Chad Jackson. Chad Ochocinco Johnson. Aaron Dobson.
There are those who succeeded, of course, and the Patriots and Cooks have to be hoping his transition to the team goes more like Wes Welker, Randy Moss and Malcolm Mitchell’s did than any of those mentioned above.
New England traded its first-round pick to the New Orleans Saints to acquire Cooks, the budding young star who had 78 catches, 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns in the Big Easy last season.
Cooks’ numbers at the end of this year may not reflect his transition – this is still a team that has Mitchell, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Chris Hogan and also added Dwayne Allen – but it will be fairly easy to tell how he’s progressing during camp. Is Brady working with him off to the side? Are they communicating a lot? More importantly, is Cooks in 2-minute and hurry-up packages? Those are the ones that require precision timing and quick thinking, and if Brady isn’t confident that Cooks will do the right thing in those situations, he won’t be on the field.
Butler’s story is an NFL fairy tale: undrafted and seemingly undesirable, he practically begged for a tryout with New England and not only did he make the 53-man roster as a rookie, he made one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history just a few months later, and has since been named a Pro Bowler.
But the Patriots under Bill Belichick rarely hand out contract extensions before they absolutely have to, and have stuck to that with Butler. Instead of giving him a multi-year deal this offseason when he was a restricted free agent, they tendered him at the first-round level, a one-year $3.9 million deal. It was a nice pay bump, but Butler has been a good soldier, and better player – and the Patriots have struggled to develop high-level cornerbacks in recent years.
Plus, Butler watched the Patriots jump to sign Stephon Gilmore, a corner who is relatively his equal, to a deal in the early hours of free agency that pays him $65 million over five years with $40 million guaranteed. Talk about something the Patriots rarely do.
3. How many times during the first week of camp will Belichick and Patriots players be asked if they can go 19-0 this season?
Dallas Cowboys players and coaches arrived in Oxnard, Calif. for training camp over the weekend, with several players facing off-field issues.
Including one of their biggest names: among several other offseason headlines for running back Ezekiel Elliott, the second-year player has been waiting for months for the NFL to make its decision on whether he will be punished in conjunction with a 2015 allegation of domestic violence levied by an ex-girlfriend.
There was an ESPN report on July 14 that there was “a growing sense” Elliott would face a short suspension for the incident, even though prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio (Elliott attended Ohio State University in the city) did not bring charges.
But on Sunday, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones threw down a gauntlet of sorts to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, telling reporters that there’s not a shred of evidence Elliott did anything wrong.
“I have reviewed everything, and there is absolutely nothing – not one thing – that had anything to do with domestic violence,” Jones said. “My opinion is there’s not even as issue over he said, she said. There’s not even an issue there.”
Elliott has maintained his innocence in this matter since he was accused, and Jones has backed his player throughout.
Whether Jones’ statement helps or hurts Elliott’s case with Goodell and NFL brass remains to be seen; some at league headquarters could want to keep one of the NFL’s most prominent owners happy, while others may not like Jones challenging them, no matter how high-profile his team is.
It was just a week ago that Elliott was involved in some sort of dust-up at a Dallas nightclub that allegedly left a man with a nose injury. However, whatever happened, Elliott won’t face any legal trouble – Dallas police suspended their investigation when neither the victim nor witnesses would cooperate.
Odell Beckham Jr. spent much of his offseason in Los Angeles training for his fourth NFL season, and he and the rest of his teammates are due in New Jersey in just a few days for the start of training camp.
But when Beckham got a message that there is a cancer-stricken boy in Texas longing to meet him, the receiver dropped everything to make his wish come true.
According to the Facebook page made to chronicle his treatment, 9-year old Jayro Ponce went to the hospital last Dec. 26 with a stomachache; testing revealed a ruptured appendix, but during surgery cancerous tumors were discovered.
Ponce has been diagnosed with malignant rhabdoid tumor; it is a rare childhood cancer, with only 20 to 25 new cases in the United States each year.
Currently, he is being treated at the Ronald McDonald House in Amarillo, Texas.
Not long ago, Ponce was visited by another Giants player: starting center Weston Richburg, whose family lives not far from the Ronald McDonald House. While visiting Ponce, Richburg learned that Beckham is the boy’s favorite NFL player.
Fast forward to last week, when Richburgh’s father Danny reached out to Beckham via social media, telling him “time is of the essence” to make Ponce’s dream of meeting his sporting hero come true.
In a Facebook post, Ponce’s family wrote, “We were blessed to spend time with this amazing soul and his friend! There’s no words for this experience. Jayro enjoyed this experience to the fullest. Thank you Make A Wish!”
Beckham has worked with the Make-A-Wish foundation in the past, visiting with other children through the organization.
As a man born and raised in south Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio is a Miami Dolphins fan.
So while his favored team is certainly on an upswing these days, Rubio has watched his Dolphins be on the losing side of the scoreboard 20 of the 29 times they’ve faced New England Patriots since Tom Brady became the Patriots’ starting quarterback.
And Rubio has a plan to change that.
This week, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson was on Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearing; he has been nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
‘‘Support for your nomination due to your relationship with the New York Jets is painful and difficult, but I’m willing to do it for the good of the country,’’ Rubio joked, according to the Associated Press.
Rubio didn’t stop there, suggesting both his Dolphins and Johnson’s Jets could be helped if they nominate another man for an ambassadorship.
‘‘I think you and I agree the country would be well-served if a certain Thomas Brady were nominated ambassador to Brazil,’’ Rubio told Johnson. ‘‘Perhaps that could be arranged before September of this year.’’
Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, is a native of Brazil, so while Rubio’s plot would get Brady out of the AFC East, it would at least get Brady’s spouse back to her home country.
“I don’t know why people are laughing,” Rubio deadpanned. “I’m very serious.”
But Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts put the kibosh on Rubio’s idea, telling him via Twitter that “Brady isn’t leaving the country until he & the Patriots have won a few more Super Bowl rings.”
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones has been suspended without pay for the first game of the regular season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The NFL announced the punishment on Friday.
Given his personal history and the initial details of the incident – Jones’ felony charge came when he allegedly spit on a jail nurse, a charge that was later dropped, and in video taken inside the police cruiser, Jones tells the arresting officer, “I hope you die tomorrow” – the 11-year veteran is likely lucky he received only a one-game suspension.
In a letter to Jones explaining its decision, the NFL wrote, “extensive video documentation of the tone, tenor and nature of your interactions with law enforcement at the site of your arrest, during transportation to the jail, and during the booking process. As you acknowledged, your post-arrest words and actions reflected poorly on you and your family, the Cincinnati Bengals football club, and the NFL. While it is our understanding that appropriate apologies have been publicly extended, they do not completely negate your behavior and admission of culpability for the underlying conduct.”
Despite the light punishment, ProFootballTalk reports that Jones will appeal the decision.
The Bengals open the regular season hosting their AFC North rivals the Baltimore Ravens.