Appeals officer Derrick Brooks upheld Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension.
Burfict was suspended for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the playoffs that caused a concussion.
Burfict met Thursday with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his on-field behavior and steps he could take to avoid further disciplinary action in the future. Burfict, his agents and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis were at the meeting Thursday with Goodell and NFL executi Troy Vincent.
Burfict was fined $50,000 for a hit on Baltimore Ravens tight end Maxx Williams.
Burfict was fined three times for incidents against the Steelers that totaled $70,000.
Burfict will lose $502,941 of his salary next season.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL
Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.
The completion of the 2015 NFL season was made official last Sunday after the Broncos defeated the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Every NFL team now has the 2015 season in their rearview mirror and are focusing on 2016 while preparing for NFL free agency and the draft. So what better time to take a quick peek back to examine how each team faired in last year’s draft. To see which rookie selection made the most impact, who surprised, and who needs to turn it up next year.
This by no means am I casting judgement on the 2015 draft class, as I operate with the belief that it takes three full seasons to honestly grade a draft. Instead this is just a quick review of what each team received from this year’s crop of rookies.
Here is a review of the AFC East Division:
Biggest Impact – Ronald Darby, Cornerback – Florida State (2nd rd pick #50 Overall)
With the Bills not having a first round pick heading into the draft they had to make sure their second round pick would be someone who could come in and contribute immediately. They accomplished just that with the selection of Darby from Florida State. The rookie corner started 15 games registering 68 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 21 passes defensed which was 5th highest in the league. Darby allowed only four touchdowns all season and was tabbed as the Defensive Rookie of the Year by ProFootballFocus. Darby teamed with Stephon Gilmore, and Leodis McKelvin give the Bills a nice compliment of corners heading into next season.
Surprise Impact – Karlos Williams, Running Back – Florida State (5th rd pick #155 Overall)
Coming into the 2015 season if we had predicted that a Bills running back would be tied for the overall team lead with nine touchdowns (7 rushing, 2 receiving) and his name was not LeSean McCoy most of you would have scoffed. That’s exactly what running back Karlos Williams did in his first season in Buffalo. Williams proved to be a terrific compliment to McCoy rushing for 517 yards averaging 5.6 yards a carry. Williams started three games for the Bills while McCoy sat due to various injuries. Williams also scored a touchdown in the first six games he saw action in, which tied a record set back in 1998 by former New England running back Robert Edwards. Williams and Edwards were the only two players to ever accomplish this feat.
Least Impact – Nick O’Leary, Tight End – Florida State (6th rd pick #194 Overall)
The former 2014 John Mackey Award winner and consensus All-American as a senior at Florida State got off to a rough start in his rookie year with the Bills. O’Leary saw limited action during training camp and the preseason and was subsequently cut at the tail end of camp and signed to the practice squad where he remained for most of the season. O’Leary was signed to the active roster for week 14 seeing action in four games catching one pass for just 37 yards.
The All-Time FSU leader among tight ends with 114 receptions, 1,491 yards and 18 touchdowns will need to improve his inline blocking if he hopes to work his way into the Bills rotation at tight end next season and see significant playing time.
Biggest Impact – DeVante Parker, Wide Receiver – Louisville (1st rd pick #14 Overall)
Parker’s rookie season got off to a slow start after he had foot surgery in June and took longer than expected to get up to speed with the Dolphins playbook. In his first ten games Parker managed just four receptions for 49 yards.
Parker picked up the production in the final six games of the season and especially after fellow wide out Rishard Matthews was lost for the season due to a rib injury. From week 12 through 17 Parker started four games and caught 22 passes for 445 yards and three touchdowns culminating in his week 17 performance versus the Patriots were he finished with 106 yards and a touchdown. During that span Parker was averaging 11.2 yards per target which was fourth-highest among wide receivers who saw 25 or more targets.
Parker was one of the nation’s best deep threats his senior season at Louisville averaging 19.9 yards per reception. With the hiring of new head coach Adam Gase and his familiarity on how to use big receivers like Parker (i.e. Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffery) look for his late season surge to continue into 2016.
Surprise Impact – Jay Ajayi, Running Back – Boise State (5th rd pick #149 Overall)
Ajayi was a highly rated running back coming out of Boise State prior to last year’s draft. Some evaluators had him ranked third behind Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon and if not for a medical test that showed he had no cartilage in his right knee Ajayi would have been selected higher than the 5th round.
Unfortunately for Ajayi and the Dolphins he suffered a cracked rib in Miami’s preseason finale and was forced to start the season on Short-term Injured reserve causing him to miss the first seven games of the season.
Ajayi was activated prior to week nine and in nine games had 49 carries for 187 yards and one touchdown. Although those are not eye-popping stats Ajayi, who was splitting carries with Lamar Miller, did show a powerful bruising running-style and the ability to sneak out of the backfield and catch passes.
With Miller set to become a free agent this offseason and the new coaching staff’s preference on utilizing more than one back look for Ajayi to have a bigger impact role in the Dolphins backfield next season.
Least Impact – Jordan Phillips, Defensive Tackle – Oklahoma (2nd rd pick #52 Overall)
The former Sooner defensive lineman started four games last season and played in 443 snaps along the Dolphins defensive line. Phillips made little to no impact up front even though he was playing alongside one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles in Ndamukong Suh. Phillips registered his first career sack in week one and ended the season with just two to along with his 19 tackles.
Pro Football Focus rated Phillips as the 105th defensive tackle last season. After his rookie campaign Phillips echoed the sentiment that had been whispered around the organization, that he needed to improve his attention to detail and will have to do a better job of preparing during the week.
New York Jets
Biggest Impact – Leonard Williams, Defensive Tackle – USC (1st rd pick #6 Overall)
Prior to last year’s draft Williams was often mentioned as a possibility to go anywhere between the second and fourth overall selections, the fact he lasted till the sixth pick was considered one of the surprises in the first round. Lucky for the Jets that Williams was indeed still on the board when their selection came up as later during the summer, right before training camp, they would find out that defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson would be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season.
Williams helped fill the void left by Richardson’s absence at the start of the season along the Jets defensive line. Williams had 63 tackles, 4 sacks, 19 quarterback hits, and 30 hurries playing in nearly 800 snaps. According to Pro Football Focus Williams was one of the better run defenders as he registered 35 tackles resulting in a defensive stop, which was 14th most of any interior defensive player last season.
Heading into next season the coaches want Williams to become more of a factor on passing downs encouraging him to work on his technique and hand placement in hopes of generating a more consistent pass rush.
Surprise Impact – Lorenzo Mauldin, Linebacker – Louisville (3rd rd pick #82 Overall)
Mauldin played in 15 games his last season seeing action early on as a member of the special teams unit. It wasn’t until week eight versus Jacksonville, when he notched his first two sacks of his career, did Mauldin start receiving more snaps on defense. Against the Jaguars Mauldin displayed the ability to convert speed to power and provide consistent pressure on the quarterback. From then on Mauldin was predominately used as a rush specialist and ended up with 4 sacks, 19 quarterback hits and a forced fumble on the season.
The Jets are expecting Mauldin to have a bigger role on the team next season, but first he will need to work on his run defense along with dropping into coverage before expanding his playing time.
Least Impact – Devin Smith, Wide Receiver – Ohio State (2nd rd pick # 37 Overall)
After selecting Smith in the second round the Jets expected him to bring the element of speed and big play ability to their offense. Smith was figured to be the perfect complement to starters Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Smith was coming off a senior season at Ohio State where he scored 12 touchdowns and averaged a whopping 28.2 yards per reception.
Unfortunately Smith’s season started off bad when he suffered broken ribs and a partially punctured lung in training camp, costing him the preseason and the first two regular season games.
Then it got worse as Smith tore the ACL in his right knee in week 14 versus the Titans. Smith did manage to play in ten games catching only nine balls for 115 yards and a touchdown.
New England Patriots
Biggest Impact – Malcom Brown, Defensive Tackle – Texas (1st rd pick #32 Overall)
Malcom Brown dropping to the final pick of the first round was not something many expected to happen, in fact some had Brown projected going as high as the top ten. So when he fell to New England he was considered one of the steals of the first round. In New England Brown was looked upon to help fill the void left by the departure of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.
Brown had a solid rookie season coming on strong towards the end drawing praise from the coaches for his improvement in both fundamentals and technique. Brown started 12 games and finished with 48 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.
Starting in week 11 and on Brown played in over 50 % of the defensive snaps and towards the end of the season had emerged as the top defensive tackle on the team.
Surprise Impact – Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson Guards (4th rd picks #131 & # 111 Overall)
The Patriots dealt with a number of injuries along the offensive line this past season and had to rely heavily on these two fourth round picks. Mason and Jackson started a combined 19 games between them, and were part of a three-man rotation, along with Josh Kline, at guard for New England most of the season.
Both Mason and Jackson are powerful at the point-of-contact, show good balance and can play with leverage. Mason is more athletic of the two, and is able to quickly get to the defenses second level. Mason also came from a run-heavy offense in Georgia Tech so his run blocking was a bit more advanced than Jackson’s. Jackson played in 54 % of the offensive snaps while Mason tallied about 66 %. Both players look to be long term starters on the inside of the Patriots offensive line come next season.
Least Impact – Jordan Richards, Safety – Stanford (2nd rd pick #64 Overall)
When the Patriots used the 64th overall selection on Stanford safety Jordan Richards, the feeling was they had reached on a player who many had a fourth to fifth round grade on. Although Richards played in 14 regular season games and made two starts, he had minimal impact in any games of consequence for the Pats. Richards was unable to find consistent playing time even though New England was dealing with a number of injuries to their defensive backfield.
Praised by veteran teammates for his maturity, instincts, and speed Richards still has a chance to develop into a starting caliber player for New England. As for his rookie season though, he finished with just 14 tackles, two passes defensed and zero interceptions.
Danny Shimon is a graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp.
Follow Danny on Twitter @dshimon56
Chris Brown – WR – Notre Dame
6012 – 190 – 4.50 (All estimates)
Strong Points –
Two year starter, has gotten better every year. Improved as a route runner. Good hands. Tracks the ball well. Adequate runner after the catch. Willing blocker. Good athlete with better than average speed.
Weak Points –
Narrow frame, needs to add strength. Not a burner. Has a small receiving radius. Not much of a deep threat.
A fourth year senior and a two year starter for Notre Dame. While he has shown vast improvement in his game over the last two seasons, he has always been a complimentary receiver. He run good routes, can make quick cuts and gets some separation. Has good hands abut not a real big receiving radius. Gets what is there after the catch. More of a developmental type player who may need a year on the practice squad.
Michael Thomas – WR – Ohio State
6026 – 210 – 4.50 (All Estimates)
Strong Points –
Excellent size. Has been Ohio State’s leading receiver the last two years. Has a good release and is a fairly good route runner. Can be physical. Good hands. Strong runner after the catch. Adequate route runner. Flashes good blocking ability.
Weak Points –
Don’t see an extra gear going after the ball. When he is not the first or second option he sometimes gets lazy with his routes. Can be inconsistent getting separation. Will have some concentration drops and some body catches.
Third year junior entering the Draft. Went to prep school for a year out of high school. Has great size, and flashes big time ability but he is not consistent. More of a possession receiver but will sneak deep at times. Strong runner after the catch. Makes some nice catches but also has some drops on very catchable throws. Has the talent to be an eventual # 2 receiver but will need a period of development. Has upside, just not there yet. Should have stayed in school.
Jalin Marshall – WR – Ohio State
5112 – 203 – 4.47 (All Estimates)
Strong Points –
Adequate size but long arms allowing him to play taller than he measures. Very good athlete with body control, quickness and speed. Explosive! Getting better as a route runner. Very good hands who tracks the ball and makes tough catches. Very good runner after the catch.
Weak Points –
Converted QB who has only played receiver for 3 years. One year starter. Still raw. Lacks ideal height.
A third year sophomore entering the Draft. Redshirted as a freshman so that he could learn to be a receiver. Was a QB in high school. He is raw but very talented with a lot of upside. Very good athlete with speed and body control. Becoming a good route runner, can snatch the ball and is very good after the catch. Will compete for the ball in traffic. Though he isn’t as productive as teammate Michael Thomas, he has more upside. Looks like he could be a good returner. Will need some developement but he is an eventual starter in the league.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe
Injuries not an excuse
Everyone wants the game decided between the white lines. No one wants the “what ifs” of an injured key player or a referee’s blown call. Although Super Bowl 50 was not a mistake free game, fans got what they wanted. The better team (or should I say the better defense) won and no one is making excuses.
This was an essentially healthy Super Bowl. Sure there were key players from both teams that were on injured reserve, like Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Tillman, and Ryan Clady (all three out from ACL tears). However, key injuries on both clubs played and all were able to contribute.
There were no excuses coming from the Panthers. Thomas Davis played well as expected just two weeks after breaking his forearm. Jared Allen played despite a fractured foot. Coach Ron Rivera dismissed the ideal that Corey Brown leaving with a concussion changed the game.
The Broncos trio of injured defensive backs, T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart and Chris Harris all played. Peyton Manning played without obvious effects of his plantar fasciitis.
Concerns about the grass field at Levi’s Stadium being suboptimal or causing injury were unfounded. Sure there were some slips but a loose turf/poor footing actually helps to reduce traumatic injury.
Even with the halftime show and the post-game trophy presentation, the field seemed to hold up to my post-game inspection.
I am happy Super Bowl 50 involved no cart offs and few injuries. There was no concussion controversy like last year with Julian Edelman that led to the new medical timeout rule. Corey Brown did enter the concussion protocol, despite originally the calf being the main concern.
A positive injury spin for the golden Super Bowl is the way I like it. I wish every game would be more like this one.
MMMD 1: MVP for a reason
Of course Von Miller’s game changing play is what earned him the Most Valuable Player award. His 2.5 sacks and two forced turnovers were key.
The reason for his spectacular play is that he is finally 100% Although he played well last season, the second season back from ACL is usually the better year. I tell my patients it takes a minimum of 18 months to forget about your knee.
When I asked Miller about his knee last year during Super Bowl week, he claimed his knee was good, but when pressed, admitted there was more improvement to come. No matter how hard someone works, you just can’t speed up the biology of the ACL graft incorporating and becoming a ligament again.
MMMD 2: Ups and downs of being there in person
Although I sorely miss seeing the broadcast and don’t have access to replay, there are up sides to being in San Francisco. I learned a lot by being there asking the right medical questions and observing first hand.
There were reports of a laser healing Jared Allen’s foot fracture. When asked about it, the Panthers DE said he didn’t know if it was the laser that helped him or the myriad of other treatment modalities.
Thomas Davis had no swelling and no protection on his forearm during the week. I doubt the picture circulating of his “football-like” forearm was a current one. The photo Davis posted seemed to be taken well before arrival in the Bay area.
I always suspected that Chris Harris, Jr. had more that a bruised arm. He confirmed he had a nerve injury that caused him considerable pain but won’t need surgery.
Reggie Bush explained at the NFL Honors red carpet that his surgery was more than simple arthroscopy. He had meniscus repair where his cartilage was sewed and requires more recovery time than trimming but he should be ready well before training camp.
Jamal Charles appeared on track for a second successful ACL surgery. In person, he had excellent flexion of his knee while making the rounds on radio row. Range of motion is the first step after ACL reconstruction and Charles seems well on his way.
MMMD 3: Athletic trainers are hardworking and underappreciated
As Broncos teammates, coaches and staffers were celebrating and passing around the Lombardi Trophy in the locker room, the athletic training staff was still hard at work. They emerged for a quick minute to get a group picture in front of a Champions banner, but then quickly returned to training room duties.
Athletic trainers rarely get the spotlight they deserve. Even in defeat, the Panthers medical staff certainly deserves praise and Stephania Bell’s piece does just that.
Athletic trainers are the first ones to arrive and the last to leave. They are the unsung heroes of football.
MMMD 4: Head Health Initiative
Results of the NFL’s Head Health Challenge were on display during Super Bowl week. There was promising technology to provide an underlayer for artificial turf to lessen the blow as one’s helmet impacts the ground. Two types of new helmets to help protect against concussions were in the works. Finally, two new diagnostic tools are being developed. One is a blood test and the other is a portable mini-EEG. Both have potential for sideline usage.
The hope is by next Super Bowl, some of these new products will be in use in Houston.
MMMD 5: Two people fired over JPP medial record leak
As expected the hospital realized it had a problem and started an aggressive investigation that included examining computer access. HIPAA privacy laws were broken by the hospital and whoever leaked the information.
Two people who had inappropriately accessed the information were fired. This does not mean either of them leaked the information to a reporter. They could have just done it out of curiosity. The actual source of the leak could have gotten away with it as he or she may have had legitimate access to the info but was wrong to let media know about it.
MMMD 6: Two best parts of Super Bowl week for me
I ran into Mike Pereira and had a nice chat. I told him how I describe what I am doing in media as the “medical Mike Pereira”. He was flattered and liked the idea. He sees a definite growing roll for medical analysis as has happened with rules analysts.
I also got a great look throughout Levi’s Stadium. This was the only current NFL stadium that I have not been to. The 49ers new stadium was finished after I resigned from head team physician duties in 2013. Not sure what difference it make but now I can once again say that I have been to all current NFL stadiums.
MMMD 7: ProFootballDoc scorecard
Other than adjustments when new info comes to light, this will be the final self-scoring update for the 2015 season.
Thomas Davis played and played well as expected. Chris Harris, Jr, confirmed he had a shoulder nerve issue as postulated. Both Broncos safeties started as indicated two weeks ago. Corey Brown did have a calf issue before he was entered into the concussion protocol.
The previous 160-10 (94.1%) record now ends the football year at 165-10 (94.3%). This is similar to the 2014 season total of 137-11 (92.6%). The low 90s percentage is about equivalent to picking 15 out of 16 games correct each week. Video analysis will never be completely accurate or replace a hands-on examination, but I believe it gives a reasonable first impression.
Austin Hooper – TE – Stanford
6040 – 250 – 4.68 (All Estimates)
Strong Points –
Very athletic, smooth, easy change of direction, very good hands and ability to adjust to the ball. Good route runner, can uncover versus both man and zone. Can be productive both short and deep. Good runner after the catch. Willing blocker. Has growth potential to 255-260.
Weak Points –
Seldom plays in-line as a Y. Lacks strength and power to be effective as a blocker. Needs to get bigger and stronger. Not play in short yardage situations. Does not have a lot of playing experience.
Underclassman who is entering the Draft. Listed as a junior but still had two years of eligibility left. Did not play as a true freshman in 2013. Seldom lines up in-tight as a Y, usually flexed out as a slot, wing or wide. Very good athlete who has very good body control and speed. Good route runner who can uncover versus zone or man. Has excellent hands and can make the difficult catch. Strong runner after the catch. Effective short and deep. Needs to get stronger and improve blocking skills. Has to be used as a move tight end until he gets bigger and stronger. With his athleticism he has upside.
Glenn Gronkowski – FB/TE – Kansas State
6026 – 235 – 4.69 (All Estimates)
Strong Points –
Good athlete, strong blocker (run and Pass) Good short route runner, hands and run after catch ability. Inside run, can get tough yards and will get yards after contact. Tough and competitive.
Weak Points –
Role player in the Kansas State offense, doesn’t get to carry the ball that often.
Younger brother of the Patriots Rob Gronkowski. A fourth year junior who has graduated and will enter the Draft. Is a role player for Kansas State and is used mainly as a blocker. He is a strong lead blocker who is good at finding his block and adjusting on the move. Good inside runner who can get tough yards. Good receiver who runs good routes and had good hands. Can be a combo fullback/move tight end at the next level. Should also be a productive special teams player.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe