Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey doesn’t plan to report for training camp without a new deal, according to a league source.
Mincey ranks 70th in compensation among defensive ends.
He signed a two-year, $3 million contract last year that includes a $500,000 signing bonus.
He’s due $1.5 million this year and carries a $1.75 million salary-cap figure.
Mincey recorded six sacks in 16 starts last season.
By holding out, Mincey can be fined $30,000 per day.
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun
In Tom Telesco’s two seasons as General Manager of the San Diego Chargers they have had back-to-back 9-7 seasons. In 2013 the Chargers made the playoffs, but they fell short a year ago. With Denver seemingly starting to go downhill and the Chiefs and Raiders progressing, the Chargers have to at least stay even with the rest of the division.
There was a lot of talk about quarterback Phillip Rivers being traded during the off-season but it never came to fruition.
Rivers, at 33 years of age, is still is at the top of his game. Last year he completed 379 of 570 passes for 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns. While he lacks the movement skills he had earlier in his career, he still has a very quick release and is extremely accurate.
The backup is Kellen Clemens, who going into his 13th season, is a very reliable player to have in that important backup position.
The Chargers running game was horrible a year ago. The leading rusher was an undersized rookie free agent, Brandon Oliver, who ran for only 582 yards. To change that, the Chargers drafted explosive Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin to be their lead runner. Gordon has a running style similar to the Chiefs Jamaal Charles but he isn’t the receiver that Charles is. Like most backs coming out of college, Gordon will also have to improve his pass blocking.
The primary backup at running back will be either Oliver or Donald Brown, who was a disappointment in his first season with San Diego. Danny Woodhead is coming off an injury and is also in the mix.
Tight End and Wide Receiver
The bad news is that the Chargers have lost long time starter Antonio Gates for four games due to a league suspension. There are some in the Chargers organization who feel that this could be a positive. The Chargers have relied on Gates for the past 12 seasons and it’s time to develop another player. The next guy in line to start at tight end is Ladarius Green who has shown flashes of talent in his three previous seasons.
The starters at the wide out positions will be Keenan Allen, who already has two strong seasons under his belt. The other wide out will be veteran Malcom Floyd. Another possibility could be Stevie Johnson who San Diego signed as a free agent. While Johnson is very talented, he has a way of wearing out his welcome. Jacoby Jones appears to be the fourth receiver, and he is also a reliable returner.
The line will have a different look than a year ago since center Nick Hardwick and guard Jeromey Clary retired. To replace Hardwick, the Chargers have moved Chris Watt over from guard. Watt started five games as a rookie. I thought that when he was coming out of Notre Dame, he was a natural center. We will soon find out.
To replace Clary, the Chargers gave substantial money to former Denver starter Orlando Franklin. He should be a huge upgrade. The other guard is Johnnie Troutman, who needs to play with more consistency.
The tackles will be King Dunlap, who last year may have had his best season, and former first round pick D.J. Fluker. If Troutman struggles at guard, Fluker could move inside, and former Buffalo Bill Chris Hairston could play right tackle.
The defensive line has to get better. As of now, they have one legitimate star in end Corey Liuget. Liuget is still young, and this will only be his fifth year in the league, so he can still get even better.
The other end going into camp is Kendall Reyes. Reyes has the traits to be a very good player, but he has never been able to play with complete consistency. Behind Reyes and Liuget are Ricardo Mathews, Tenny Palepoi, and free agent pickup Mitch Unrein. The rookie sixth-round pick could surprise, but he is more of an undersized pass rusher who looks like a role player.
While the starter at nose tackle going into camp is Sean Lissemore, I expect second year man Ryan Carrethers to mount a strong challenge. Carrethers should see a good amount of playtime.
There will be a bit of a different look at linebacker in 2015. Dwight Freeney is gone as is inside starter Jarrett Johnson.
The starters inside will be Manti Te’o who has been set back by injuries but played well towards the end of last year. He felt good about his off season and is looking forward to camp. Opposite Te’o is Donald Butler who has not lived up to his contract numbers. Butler needs to show vast improvement this year. If he falters even a little, rookie Denzel Perryman is ready to step in. Perryman might be undersized, but he is all football player!
For the outside linebackers, former first round pick Melvin Ingram has to put injuries aside and play to his first round talent level. His play picked up some last year but it still wasn’t enough. Now in his second year, Jerry Attaochu should show improvement. He has some very good pass rush talent.
An interesting rookie to watch is Kyle Emanuel. He was one of the better FCS pass rushers while at North Dakota State. He played down in college and will need to adjust to playing on his feet.
Brandon Flowers played very well in his first year as a Charger and was given an extension. He will hold down the left side. On the right side will be last year’s first-round pick Jason Verrett. Verrett is undersized, but plays an aggressive game. Although, that style of play could hurt his durability. The third corner should be free agent acquisition Patrick Robinson, who came over from New Orleans.
Nine-year vet Eric Weddle is the free safety, while the strong safety position will be a camp battle. Third-year man Jahleel Addae played close to 400 snaps a year ago as a reserve and nickelback. He is a playmaker and will be tough to keep off the field. Coming over from Miami is free agent Jimmy Wilson who started 13 games for the Dolphins. While Addae is undersized, he may be too good to keep out of the starting lineup.
As I have mentioned in the other AFC West write-ups, the division title is up for grabs. I feel Denver’s days as the champ are over and the division will be a battle between Kansas City and San Diego. The Chargers have to get much better play on defense this year in order to challenge for the title.
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The 2014 season went great for the Miami Hurricanes until the last four games. They started off the season with wins against soft teams followed by losses to Nebraska and Georgia Tech. They went on a three game roll beating Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. Then, they played the dominant FSU Seminoles and it went downhill from there. They closed out the season losing four straight games to FSU, Virginia, Pitt, and South Carolina. This year, the Canes are hoping to bounce back and be more consistent.
The offense for the Hurricanes will have a hard time replacing the offense threat they had last season in RB Duke Johnson. Johnson was a very valuable cog in the rushing attack for the Hurricanes. He provided over 1,500 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns. Replacing him will be tough but they do have two up and coming backs that should do a decent job. Gus Edwards and Joe Yearby were both great backups last season and will hope to develop themselves into key parts of this offense. On the passing side of the ball things are looking very positive. They have QB Brad Kaaya, a promising prospect for the 2017 Draft in two years. Kaaya blew people’s minds last season. As a freshman, he threw for over 3,000 yards, threw 26 touchdowns and had 12 interceptions. Although the Canes lost both WR Phillip Dorsett and TE Clive Walford, the receiving staff still looks like they will be in great shape. The offensive line for Miami looks very weak heading into this season, seeing as they have only one returning starter. They also lost the leader for the line, Ereck Flowers, to the Draft last year. They do have some linemen who are coming off of injuries from last season such as OT Sunny Odogwu who stands at 6’8” and 322 lbs.
The defensive side of the ball for the Hurricanes does not look as promising as the offensive side. Last year the Canes were ranked 30th in the nation in rushing defense. This year will likely be a different story. Miami lost four starters from their front seven in the draft. The most missed piece will be LB Denzel Perryman his hard hitting play style. This year there is a lot of young talent who needs some polish. The biggest one to keep an eye on will be DT Jelani Hamilton. The leader of the LB core would be Jermaine Grace. Grace is the only returning LB for the Hurricanes. He will have to be the glue that holds this defense together. The Canes have a lot of experience returning to their secondary this year, three starters to be exact. Last year they allowed only 192.5 passing yards per game, which ranked 20th in the nation. With a more experienced staff, they are hoping to have one of the best pass defenses in the nation.
2015 Outlook: 8 out of 10
The Miami Hurricanes have an extremely tough schedule to overcome this year, and I am struggling with whether they can do it or not. Don’t get me wrong, the Canes have a great team this season, but in many instances, the teams they are facing will be stronger than them. It is a very rough road schedule. They face Florida State, Cincinnati (who has a brand new stadium), Duke, and Pittsburgh (in November) all on the road. Anyone who follows the ACC knows that in-conference road games are extremely difficult. Even their home schedule is hard, with matchups against Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Georgia Tech, all of which have a very good chance of beating them. I say to not expect more than eight wins out of the Canes this season. The schedule just does not favor them.
2016 NFL Draft Prospects:
#2 DB, Deon Bush, Senior—6’1”, 198 lbs
#5 LB, Jermaine Grace, Junior—6’1”, 210 lbs
#15 QB, Brad Kaaya, Sophomore—6’4”, 218 lbs
As training camps around the league start, often players with any minor injury issue will start on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. The Steelers opened camp with a surprise in center Maurkice Pouncey and four others starting on PUP. This designation sounds ominous, but what really is the significance?
The knee-jerk reaction for the rabid fan is to freak out when your favorite player is placed on the PUP list. After all, there has been an entire offseason to get healthy. The reality is that most players pass physicals and are activated very quickly, usually within days.
Teams freely use the temporary PUP designation to get some future roster protection in case an injury lingers or regresses. There are actually two categories of PUP (active and reserve) with different implications.
Active/PUP is utilized in the preseason when a player doesn’t pass a physical from a football related injury. The player remains on the active 90-man roster during this time. He can pass a physical at any time and come off the list and start practicing.
Reserve/PUP is saved for the regular season. Here the player does not count towards the then 53-man roster. This designation requires missing a minimum of six but a maximum of 12 weeks. Once activated, there is up to a three-week grace period for practice before being the roster spot counts.
Check-in physicals are performed upon arrival at every camp and a player must pass before any conditioning tests or practice starts. If there is any question on an injury or the possibility of a setback, the player is typically failed on physical and the active/PUP designation is used to preserve the right to later enact the reserve/PUP status in the regular season.
If a player passes the initial physical and practices for even one minute without having been on active/PUP first, a team loses the ability to use the roster spot saving reserve/PUP designation. This is why you will see teams freely apply the active/PUP status as training camps open. This is also why you will see many players pass a physical a day later and begin practice. If the original injury flares up, this allows the team to save the roster spot later. However, it can’t be used if a new unrelated injury occurs.
Expect Jadeveon Clowney (Texans/knee), Earl Thomas (Seahawks/shoulder), Sam Bradford (Eagles/ACL), Dont’a Hightower (Patriots/shoulder), Brandon Albert (Dolphins/ACL), Dennis Pitta (Ravens/hip) and more to be placed temporarily on active/PUP. They all are coming off known injuries and it means very little to start camp on PUP, as long as it is temporary.
It is more telling when a player with known injury does not start on PUP than if he does. Le’Veon Bell starting camp day one not on PUP is much more meaningful. Evan Silva of Rotoworld asked me about Bell earlier this summer and I indicated little concern about the knee injury that kept him out of the playoffs. The Steelers leaving him off PUP indicates they have no worries about any possibility of lingering injury or risk of missing games and indeed he has had a strong early showing already.
Expect the Rams to open with Todd Gurley on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list, which is essentially the PUP equivalent, except it is for a non-NFL injury. Players with illness, fireworks injuries or those injured in college football fall under this category. For a full listing of PUP, NFI, IR and IR/dfr, see last year’s column here.
MMMD 1: Jadeveon Clowney “looks spectacular”
The Texans team physician says last year’s first pick of the draft has very little muscle atrophy after his microfracture procedure due to use of blood flow restriction (BFR) training. The surgery necessitates non-weight bearing initially and limited physical exercise for at least six months. This typical leads to significant muscle loss, whereas Clowney’s is minimal.
Although the Texans have a top team surgeon and his use of BFR puts him ahead on rehab, expect Clowney to still start camp on active/PUP. BFR helps muscle girth but it has yet to be shown to help articular cartilage regrow and that is the main issue.
Despite this report of great progress, my earlier comments still stand and the hope is for a small lesion. Even in the best hands, needing microfracture is not a good sign. The likelihood is that Clowney will not have a 10-year NFL career. If he gets to a second contract or is just productive throughout the first one, that would be deemed a huge success. The bottom line is Articular cartilage is the Holy Grail.
MMMD 2: Impossible to have someone else’s kneecap
Trevathan now says he was just joking. He admits to reconstructive surgery but the kneecap is his. I still think the injury bears watching as anytime articular cartilage is involved, it leads to concern.
MMMD 3: Why is Junior Galette still listed on Saints roster?
New Orleans decided to part ways with Junior Galette due to character issues. Because Galette had a recent pectoral injury where surgery was contemplated, the team can’t actually cut him until he reports and passes a physical (or reaches an injury settlement).
Passing a physical shouldn’t be an issue as this recent video proves the pectoral issue behind him. However, Galette still needs to report to do so before he can be released. That may be the bigger obstacle based on reports of his anger at the Saints.
MMMD 4: C.J. Wilson stepping away from football
Most of the attention has been on Jason Pierre-Paul, but the other NFL player injured by July 4th fireworks has decided to step away from football after he lost his index and middle fingers. We all wish him well.
Meanwhile, Justin Tuck says he spoke to JPP who realizes he made a mistake, but his spirits are up. Hope he can put this behind him and return to play. It all depends on what damage there is beyond the index finger.
MMMD 5: Cardinals rookie WR wounded by gunfire
When I was team physician, our second-round pick was an innocent bystander and shot at a mall in the July offseason in his hometown as well. He subsequently needed surgery.
The team immediately had me reach out to his treating physicians to get updates. I am sure this is the case here with the Cardinals just like the Giants also reached out when JPP was hurt. The job of professional sports is not limited between the white lines.
MMMD 6: NFL plotting response to movie Concussion
A movie about two doctors at the forefront of the CTE issues will be released on Christmas day. Apparently owners have already begun to meet to deal with the response.
I hope the movie is accurate and continues to bring further concussion awareness rather than being sensationalist. No one should be afraid of an honest discussion of the issues.
MMMD 7: ProFootballDoc scorecard
As we restart the regular season column format, I will resume the self-assessment of correct/incorrect injury prediction/analysis that left off at 6-0. The goal is to have vetted numbers this year instead of just reporting 92.6% accurate at season’s end.
The vast majority of the Jason Pierre-Paul analysis has been accurate. Even though my breakdown turned out correct on multiple aspects, it will count as only one in the plus column. Add to it the correct assessment that Trevethan did not “have somebody else’s kneecap” and that Le’Veon Bell would start the season healthy and that leaves the score at 9-0. I am sure a miss is coming soon.
Follow David on Twitter: @profootballdoc
Dr. David Chao is a former NFL head team physician with 17 years of sideline, locker and training room experience. He currently has a successful orthopedic/sports medicine practice in San Diego.
The upcoming 2015 NFL season is important for a number of individuals across the league. Coaching jobs, careers, and generational wealth could all be determined in a single season. With that in mind, I have identified two starting quarterbacks for which 2015 could make or break their careers.
Sam Bradford – Philadelphia Eagles
When the St. Louis Rams made Sam Bradford the top pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, they were hoping that they had FINALLY found the man to replace Kurt Warner (no offense Marc Bulger). Bradford was a decorated collegiate quarterback who, as a redshirt sophomore, threw for an Oklahoma Sooners record 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. Bradford’s career with the Rams got off to a terrific start as he was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010 after setting a record for completions by a rookie. Bradford earned the honor without much talent around him. His receivers that year consisted of Danario Alexander, Mark Clayton, Donnie Avery, and Danny Amendola. Only Amendola is still currently on a NFL roster.
Bradford’s fortunes started turning for the worse in 2011 as he missed six games due to a lingering ankle injury. Then in 2013, after starting seven games, Bradford tore the ACL in his left knee in a game versus Carolina and missed the rest of the season. After a grueling rehab, Bradford was excited and ready to go for the 2014 season until he tore the same ACL during the third week of the preseason. In his five years with the Rams, Bradford started 16 games in a season only twice (2010 and 2012) and compiled a record of 18 – 30 – 1 as the starter.
When Chip Kelly and the Eagles traded their current starting quarterback, Nick Foles, along with a second round pick to St. Louis for Bradford this offseason eyebrows were raised. The Eagles traded valuable assets for a player who by the time the 2015 season kicks off will not have played a regular season game in 22 months. Rumors swirled that Kelly had acquired Bradford in hopes of being in a position to draft former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Those rumors never came to fruition and Bradford heads into the upcoming season as the projected starter.
With the Eagles, Bradford will be operating in an offense similar to the one he excelled in at Oklahoma, a fast paced spread scheme where they dictate tempo and place a lot of pressure on the defense. The Offensive Coordinator at Oklahoma during Bradford’s time was Kevin Wilson. Wilson and Kelly know each other well and they both run a very similar offense.
What seems to make Bradford a good fit for this offensive system is his ability to quickly decipher what the defense is attempting to do and his quick release. Bradford is also a very accurate passer with the ability to “throw a receiver open”, often hitting them in stride and allowing them to pick up additional yardage. The addition of Bradford’s former teammate and roommate at Oklahoma, DeMarco Murray, will also be beneficial. With more offensive weapons around him, a familiar system he has experienced success in, and an offensive minded head coach, Bradford, for the first time in his NFL career, might be set up to succeed. It could turn out that the trade which took the NFL by surprise could have been the best thing to happen to Bradford.
Recent reports of Bradford opting not to engage in contract extension talks with the Eagles could be a good indication on how confident Bradford is heading into 2015. Bradford has decided to gamble on himself. Bradford is confident that he can overcome the injury bug that has plagued him for most of his five year career and confident that he is finally with the right coach and an offensive scheme that fits his strength to a tee. Bradford has decided that 2015 will be the year where he answers all the questions regarding whether or not the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft will forever be labeled a “bust”.
Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears
To say Jay Cutler, at the beginning of his career, was a little brash, cocky, and immature would be putting it mildly. How else would you explain Cutler proclaiming to The Sporting news in 2008 that he had a stronger arm than former Broncos legend John Elway? Or that the Broncos offense should put up 30 points a game that season, and that Denver should be the favorite out of the AFC to reach the Super Bowl. That season, the Broncos finished 8 – 8, missing the playoffs for the third straight season, and eventually costing Mike Shanahan his job. Cutler did make his only Pro Bowl as he threw for over 4,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. 2008 would also be Jay Cutler’s last season in a Broncos uniform as a disagreement with new Head Coach Josh McDaniel, over his attempts to trade Cutler for Matt Cassel, caused too many hurt feelings and bruised egos leading Cutler to force a trade out of Denver.
Cutler was traded to the Bears to start the 2009 season, and ever since then, his career has been a roller coaster. 2015 will be Cutler’s seventh season in Chicago under three different head coaches (Smith, Trestman, and Fox) and under five different offensive systems. Cutler has learned and run offenses coordinated by Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice, Marc Trestman / Aaron Kromer, and Adam Gase. Stability on the offensive side of the ball has also been lacking during Cutler’s tenure in Chicago. Even though Cutler has thrown for almost 28,000 yards and over 180 touchdowns, his career in Chicago has been marred by untimely turnovers (130 interceptions, 45 fumbles), criticism regarding his facial expressions and demeanor, and questions about his passion for the game and his leadership ability. To his credit, Cutler has never snapped back at critics or any negative publicity that has been geared towards him.
The hope was that all of his hard work was finally paying off in 2013 as Cutler, under Trestman, put together a solid season that saw him produce the highest quarterback rating of his career to date (89.2). Optimism was rampant in Chicago that Trestman was finally the right offensive mind that could challenge Cutler intellectually and tap into his vast potential. After that season, Cutler was given a seven-year 126 million dollar contract (with 54 million guaranteed) indicating that the Bears were committed to making Cutler the face of their franchise. A team steeped in a tradition of playing tough, hard-nosed defense would now be an offense first team, who would rely on their quarterback and his weapons to outscore their opponents in order to win games.
After a horrible 2014 season both on and off the field, those plans were scrapped quickly as Bears ownership cleaned house by firing GM Phil Emery and Trestman. Ryan Pace was brought in from the New Orleans organization as the GM, and he quickly hired John Fox as his head coach. Right off the bat, things were different for Cutler now that Pace and Fox were in charge. Neither man committed to Cutler as their quarterback during their respective introductory news conferences. Cutler was no longer being consulted on possible offensive coaching hires or player acquisitions as he was during the previous regime. Pace was not the general manager who signed off on the 126 million dollar contract the year before. John Fox is not a first time head coach that Cutler can assume he will outlast. This time, if expectations are not met, the Head Coach isn’t going anywhere. The Offensive Coordinator (unless he chooses) will not be going anywhere. This time, Jay Cutler will be the one walking the plank.
Again, to his credit, Cutler has not lashed out about the apparent lack of support. Instead he has shown that he has matured since 2008, and has taken accountability for the lack of offensive success. He has shown leadership in being one of the first to text newly signed players or draft picks welcoming them to the team. He has gathered his offensive teammates down at his home in Nashville to organize extra training sessions. With weapons like Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte, Kevin White, and with Adam Gase calling the plays this just might be the best collection of coaching and talent he has had as a member of the Bears. This also might be Cutler’s last chance in Chicago. Cutler has taken a beating both locally and nationally. He has gone from being a potential franchise quarterback to an average or in some cases below average starter. In a recent ESPN piece, 35 NFL coaches and talent evaluators were polled to help rank all 32 starting quarterbacks and place them into tiers. Cutler was ranked 21st and placed into tier 3 which was defined as “Quarterbacks who are good enough to start but need lots of support, making it tough to contend at the highest level”. One head coach was anonymously quoted as saying he would want Cutler as a backup. 2015 is shaping up to be the most important season of Jay Cutler’s NFL career: a season that could restore faith in a physically talented quarterback, or a season that could continue to give ammunition to the doubters and skeptics to keep pounding on a beleaguered quarterback who has not lived up to his potential.
Danny Shimon is a graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp.
Follow Danny on Twitter @dshimon56