Clear thoughts on concussions

Kevin Kolb. Stewart Bradley. Zack Follett. Matt Moore. Kevin Boss. Sergio Kindle. Hunter Hillenmeyer. Cory Redding. Jason Witten. Mario Manningham.

The Chinese calendar says 2010 is the year of the tiger. But as far as the NFL goes, this has been the year of the concussion.

Concussions are being noticed and talked about more than ever. And that has got to be a good thing.

Here is a look at how concussions are being perceived from the angles of head coach, general manager and player.

The head coach

Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher: “We’re as conservative and realistic as you can possibly be with concussions. We always take the extra time, and the league has done a great job of providing us with additional information. It’s a serious injury that needs to be treated very, very delicately.

“If you’re not sure if a player can return from one, that’s what you have your inactive list for. It’s designed for players who are going to miss some time, but not necessarily the whole year. But if you have a guy with multiple incidents or episodes and recovery time is taking a little longer, you would certainly have to consider injured reserve. We have not had one in which injured reserve has been an issue.”

Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis: “How we deal with concussions really hasn’t changed, other than having to go to an independent doctor. We had already been doing the pre-tests. Anytime someone missed time they would have to pass the post-test.

“They won’t pass them on the test to come back the following week if they experience any kind of symptom, and they won’t let anyone go back in a game. It’s really out of my hands.”

Mike SingletaryICON49ers head coach Mike Singletary.

San Francisco’s Mike Singletary: “We just try to tackle better. It’s all in form tackling. That’s basically what it is.”

The general manager

“We are in new waters with concussions, and we intend on not taking any chances,” said a general manager who requested anonymity. “There is no book on how to deal with this.

“The first thing we’ll do is have a player who suffers a concussion take every test he’s supposed to take. Obviously, if he has any signs of post-concussion syndrome he can’t play. But even if he tests out OK, we still could shut him down if he is experiencing symptoms.

“We want to put the safety and health of the player first. Each player is different, and doctor’s opinions on concussions can vary from doctor to doctor. There is no conclusive medical test that tells you everything you need to know. So you can’t be too careful.”

The player

“As we’ve learned more about it, we’re becoming smarter about concussions,” said Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews. “We all saw what happened with Jason Witten in Dallas.

“As players we are taught not to show injuries or pain. It’s almost like we're machines. A head injury is like anything else. We are going to battle through it. But there are long-term effects. As much as we hate sitting out, it’s the right thing to do.

Clay MatthewsICONPackers OLB Clay Matthews

“You think you just had your bell rung, no big deal. All of a sudden it starts to get a little blurry, a little fuzzy. You get dizzy. You don’t remember everything. It depends on the grade of concussion. Even the minor ones, if you take a secondary hit it can be devastating.

“My last concussion was during spring practice at USC. I took a shot, and I wanted to get back out. They took my helmet from me. You want to be a warrior. But you can’t hide it. You see the repercussions of it with Kolb, Stewart Bradley stumbling around. I can’t take it lightly. I completely agree with the medical staff holding them out and going through the process.

“Hopefully we can continue to make helmets and pads that will help us out and we’ll get smarter as the game progresses.”

Thursday night primer

A look at some key matchups, players and things NFL scouts will be watching for on Thursday night.

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State
7:30 p.m. EST, ESPN

What to watch for…

Offensive superstars come to shine

JohnsonICONJohnson is a dual threat run/pass option.

QB Jerrod Johnson: Texas A&M (6-4, 243)
It’s not often you find a quarterback with the overall physical/athletic skill set of a guy like Johnson. He’s a big, strapping athlete who has the kind of arm needed to make all the throws, plus he knows how to buy time in the pocket, break contain and create with his legs. However, it will be interesting to see how he responds in this one, coming off a brutal 11 for 31 passing day last week vs. Florida International, mustering up only 194 yards through the air and throwing four picks. Now, Johnson has come a long way as a pocket passer since head coach Mike Sherman took over. But, the two biggest question marks I still have are…

1. His overall mechanics, as he still has a bit of a lethargic/winding throwing motion and isn’t real clean or sharp with his footwork.
2. He still struggles to quickly diagnose defenses and diligently go through his progressions, especially vs. a faster moving defense (i.e. Florida International).

So the biggest thing for Johnson at this stage is to just continue his improvement toward becoming a better pro caliber quarterback. The talent and skill set is there and he has shown the willingness to get better, but he just still has a ways to go. As of now, he looks more like an intriguing developmental guy to me who is going to need a lot of time to compete in an NFL pass game.

HunterICONHunter has the ability to be dynamic in the open field.

RB Kendall Hunter: Oklahoma State (5-8, 200)
Hunter is back in a big way in 2010 with 473 yards rushing in only three games, putting him on pace to rush for 1,892 yards on the year. Now, as an NFL prospect, he is a bit undersized, but what he has going for him is that he runs with a low pad level, does a nice job not exposing his frame to many big hits and possesses an impressive feel in tight quarters. Plus, the guy can be dynamic in the open field, showcasing the ability to routinely make a defender miss in a phone booth and accelerate into daylight.

Now, he was banged up for a lot of the 2009 season and being able to stay healthy is a bit of concern with him. However, watching the way this guy can catch the football out of the backfield, change directions/speeds in an instant and create just about every time he gets the football, he seems like a great change-of-pace back at the next level who can handle a similar role as Lions first-round pick RB Jahvid Best.

Is Von Miller ready to go?
Coming into the year I thought Miller had the makings of becoming the nation’s top pure pass rusher because of his combination of initial burst, developing lateral quickness and ability to bend around the edge. However, with only six tackles and zero sacks through the first three games of the year, this is not the Von Miller many expected.

But, he has been forced to play through a gimpy ankle, which has really taken away from his effectiveness in all areas of his game. However, he’s a guy who is going to regain his burst and when he gives his ankle enough time to heal we will see the Miller of 2009 again. Therefore, tonight, even if he’s not 100 percent healthy, I just want to see how this guy is able to deal with the pain. He’s already proven to have a passion for the game by not shutting it down in order to take care of his body in anticipation of the next level. But I just want to see what kind of a fighter this kid is, knowing he doesn’t have his “A-game”, is he willing to go out and compete snap after snap, which is big for NFL pass rushers.

A defensive lineman who won’t be feeling sorry
Finally, one guy who really caught my eye on tape this summer was Texas A&M defensive lineman Lucas Patterson. He’s a tall, 6-4, 295 pound kid who plays with good bend for his size, uses his hands well and knows how to fight off blocks inside. He isn’t the most explosive of options off the snap, but he possesses a solid first step, has a motor that runs nonstop and consistently is able to find the football quickly. Now, I only saw one tape on him this summer and am looking forward to watching his game again, because Patterson has experience playing both the three and nose spots inside, but I think his true calling card could be as a potential five-technique DE in a 3-4 scheme in the NFL.

Others worth watching…

Texas A&M

OL Matt Allen: No. 70 (6-2, 294)
He’s undersized and really struggles to stick to blocks.

MLB Michael Hodges: No. 37 (6-0, 226)
Lacks great size, is stiff in space and simply doesn’t offer much in either the run or pass game.

Oklahoma State

FB Bryant Ward: No. 37 (5-11, 223)
Is a bit undersized for the fullback position and doesn’t deliver much power on contact. Isn’t on the field for any perimeter runs and just looks like a try hard guy who made it work in college, but won’t be able to in the pros.

LB Justin Gent: No. 42 (6-1, 236)
He isn’t a real gifted athlete and his lacking instincts really compound the issue, keeping him from making many plays on the football.

LB Tolu Moala: No. 59 (6-0, 230)
It’s obvious this guy has a fire in his belly and really craves contact. However, he’s a limited athlete who’s really tight hipped and just doesn’t offer much as an NFL prospect.

DE Ugo Chinasa: No. 91 (6-5, 260)
He’s tall, long and lean, but doesn’t have any kind of real explosive element to his game. He isn’t powerful on contact, lacks a great first step off the line and doesn’t have any real suddenness as a pass rusher. Plays too high in all areas of the game and reminds me a lot of 2010 defensive end prospect Lindsey Witten.

NFL draft/college football questions? Get them answered at

Follow me on Twitter: @WesBunting

Click here to win cash today playing fantasy football with the NFP and FanDuel.

Warren Sapp sued for defaulting on loan

Warren Sapp has been sued by a bank in North Carolina that is seeking almost $1 million from him.

Sapp borrowed $990,000 in 2007 to purchase an “exclusive mountain residential development” near Asheville, N.C., per the report. HomeTrust Bank contends in a lawsuit that Sapp owes a principle of $989,000 and an additional $70,000 in charges and fees. He reportedly last made a payment in February.

Sapp was a seven-time Pro Bowl performer and is considered a strong future candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Click here to win cash today playing fantasy football with the NFP and FanDuel

Agents, by the numbers

There are about 750 agents currently registered with the NFL Players Association. However, by my count, there are only 231 with 3 or more clients. Regardless, I respectfully call each and every one of them my competition. The new guy, the mega-agency, the boutique and the mid-size firm are all out there fighting for new clients and keeping the ones they have.

For those who are curious about the business, you may be interested in some of these stats that we’ve compiled on current NFL agents.

Does size matter? It does in this business. The bigger firms keep getting bigger. Some may be adding more agents, but there is power in numbers and the players these agencies work with don’t seem to mind that they are one of many. Here’s a summary of he largest agencies based on number of current representations agreements on file at the NFLPA (includes active, injured and practice squad players):

Drew RosenhausWith an astounding 146 clients, Rosenhaus's roster clearly outnumbers all others.

Rosenhaus Sports: 146 (2 agents)
CAA Football: 104 (2 agents)
Athletes First: 91 (5 agents)
Priority Sports &Entertainment: 84 (5 agents)
SportsStars: 78 (7 agents)
Octagon: 52 (6 agents)
All Pro Sports &Entertainment: 56 (2 agents)
France All Pro Athlete Management: 53 (1 agent)
Agencies with 40 to 49 clients: 6
30 to 39: 10
20 to 29: 9
10 to 19: 31 (I’m in this group with 17 clients.)
3 to 9: 100

The 9 largest agencies represent about 671 players. There are another 55 firms, representing between 10 and 49 clients each, for a total of 900 players. There are roughly 2,000 players on 53-man rosters, practice squads and IRs. That leaves about 100 firms to represent 430 players who are mostly sitting at the bottom of a roster or on the practice squad.

According to the Players Association, the average agent fee per player is about 2.9%. Even though players can negotiate their fees, which are capped at 3%, players are willing to pay their agents close to the max.
It is typical for many agents to reduce fees for first round picks. For example, it is a common practice to reduce the fee for a top 10 draft pick to 2%.

So, based on these numbers, what are agents making?

With an average salary of about $2M per active player, an agent with 20 active players may gross an estimated $1.16M. An agency with 50 clients could gross $3M per year or more. For a firm like Athletes First, which represents several highly compensated starting QBs, it is probably much higher.

An agent’s overhead can range anywhere from 10% to 40% of gross fees. The largest expenses are usually Combine training, travel, office and staff. For example, an agency may spend on average about $15,000 to train each new draft pick.

The most profitable agents work for themselves, have no partners, keep their overhead low and represent 15 or more high quality clients. Fees can only be collected from players only after they have been compensated, so most agents may only be paid once or twice a year.

For endorsements, agents typically charge between 10 and 20%. However, more and more, agencies are outsourcing the endorsement and PR business to specialists.

For anyone trying to break into the business there is hope to make it, but the big firms will remain big and the landscape won’t change much. But one thing that I’ve learned in this business is that there is someone out there for everyone.

Want to work in the NFL? Click here to register for the NFP “Chalk Talk” seminar in Chicago on October 22nd.

Follow me on Twitter: @jackbechta

NFLPA rep says Bill Polian is in 'renegade status'

With players publicly hesitant about even the idea of an 18-game regular season, one veteran took exception to Bill Polian’s remarks earlier this week that the expanded slate was a done deal for the NFL.

Hunter Hillenmeyer, the Chicago Bears linebacker who serves as his team’s representative to the NFLPA, questioned even the notion that it was a done deal.

“I would say that Bill Polian saying something like that when clearly that’s not the case would put him in a bit of a renegade status,” Hillenmeyer said. “He’s just kind of saying it. I respect his candor but that is certainly not the case because (DeMaurice Smith) does a very good job of communicating with the players the pulse of how negotiations are going and that is something that is certainly a CBA issue and could not just be arbitrarily agreed upon by the owners or a team president.”

As the NFP's Andrew Brandt has written repeatedly, the 18-game schedule is a major bargaining chip for the players and you can expect they will leverage it as much as possible. Hillenmeyer traveled to Washington on Tuesday and sat in on the latest negotiation between the players and owners. Because of the sensitive nature of the issue, he declined to say what happened in the meeting or describe the details of it.

He’s definitely not willing to accept Polian’s way of thinking, that the longer schedule is “a fait accompli” as the Indianapolis Colts' president said on his radio show.

“Obviously, the owners want to increase revenues,” Hillenmeyer said. “I just know that it is not something that has been agreed upon yet and I think that people saying things like that undermines the best faith of the negotiating process, even if he is someone who is not sitting at the negotiating table.”

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Click here to win cash today playing fantasy football with the NFP and FanDuel

Purdue loses Marve for rest of the season

Purdue’s worst fears were realized Thursday when the team’s orthopedist confirmed that Robert Marve tore the ACL in his left knee, knocking the quarterback out for the rest of the season.

The Miami transfer suffered the injury in the first half of last week’s 31-20 loss to Toledo.

Robert MarveICONRobert Marve's first season at Purdue has come to an abrupt end.

“Robert Marve is a big part of our football family, he has worked extremely hard to be the great player that he is and our heart goes out to him,” Purdue head coach Danny Hope said in a statement. “Boilermaker nation will rally behind him with all of its support through this tough time.”

It’s an especially tough break for Marve, who tore the same ACL last summer. He was praised throughout the offseason for his increased maturity and his dedication to getting better as a signal caller.

The junior completed 67 of 99 passes for 512 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He added 32 rushing yards and a score.

Redshirt freshman Rob Henry will now take over starting duties when Purdue plays at Northwestern on Oct. 9.

The Boilermakers have been decimated on offense this season. Keith Smith, the Big Ten’s leading receiver in ’09, tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee two weeks ago and is out for the season. And projected starting running back Ralph Bolden suffered a torn ACL in his right knee early in the offseason. He is unlikely to return this year.

Follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave or send your college football questions to

Click here to win cash today playing fantasy football with the NFP and FanDuel.

Week 3 rookie report card, part two

Kansas City vs. San Francisco

This is the second year of Scott Pioli’s rebuilding plan for the Chiefs and it’s already starting to pay dividends. They are off to a 3–0 start partly because of the outstanding draft they had this past April. They have more rookies starting and making contributions than any other team in the league right now. The Chiefs have a very strong scouting department led by director of college scouting Phil Emery. Phil worked for me in Chicago for fours years and I know firsthand what a hard worker and an accomplished talent evaluator he is. I’m very proud of him and happy for his success.

In last Sunday’s game against San Francisco, at least five rookies made significant contributions.

Tony Moeaki

Tony MoeakiICONChiefs TE Tony Moeaki is the team's leading receiver with 12 catches.

The Chiefs third-round pick got a start Sunday and had an outstanding game. He is mainly the “move” tight end for KC, lining up as a fullback, wing and motion man. He also plays as a conventional in-line tight end. For the game, Tony caught 4 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Through three games he is their leading receiver with 12 catches.

Moeaki is a consistent player. He is a tenacious blocker both in-line and on the move; he has soft hands and has an uncanny ability to adjust to the ball. His one-handed touchdown catch in the third quarter is bound for the highlight reel. Tony is a consistently strong runner after the catch, using his speed and run instincts to his advantage. The overall play of Moeaki is more like a veteran than a rookie. In fact, the tight end group from this last draft is proving to be one of the best tight end classes in years. He grades out an A for his play in the game.

Dexter McCluster

Last year I felt McCluster may have been the most exciting player in all of college football. He WAS the Mississippi offense. He may lack size but this kid is some football player. The Chiefs use him in a variety of ways, in their base offense he is a split receiver, when they go to 3-wides he becomes the slot and he is also used as a running back some. They try to get him in space and let his uncanny speed and athleticism take over. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has done a great job finding ways to utilize McCluster’s talents. In the game, Dexter had 3 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, 3 punt returns for 42 yards and a kickoff return for 17 yards. When he has the ball in his hands, not only is he fast and elusive but he runs hard and can break tackles. In short, he is a playmaker. Another “A” grade for his play in game three.

Javier Arenas

Arenas is used as the nickel corner for the Chiefs. He also lines up deep with McCluster on kickoff returns. He also splits the punt return role with McCluster. In Sunday’s game, he had a 20-yard kickoff return to open the game and 3 punt returns for 23 yards. His best was an 18-yard return in the second quarter where he made a very quick move to make two 49ers defenders miss. Unfortunately, he sustained a minor leg injury with that return and did not play much in the second half.

In the views I had of him as a defender, he showed good press man cover skills. Arenas does not have great 40 speed, but he has outstanding feet, hips and foot quickness. This gives him top mirror ability. I have to give Javier an ‘incomplete’ grade for his defensive play because I just didn’t see enough snaps to grade fairly; his kick return grade for the game is a solid B+.

Eric Berry

Berry starts at strong safety for Kansas City. He did not have great stats for the game (4 tackles, 2 assists) but San Fran knew who he was. He is a force in the run game. He is very quick reacting and instinctive, he comes up quickly to support and is a strong tackler. In coverage he showed good man cover skills and is excellent in zone. He has outstanding range to the sideline and consistently keeps good position. He gets a well-earned B+ for the game.

Kendrick Lewis

Lewis made the start at free safety Sunday. He was the Chiefs fifth-round draft pick. When I went to Ole Miss last year I really liked his play. He was one of the more instinctive safeties in the draft. What hurt his draft value was he didn’t time well. That being said, he plays fast because of his great instincts. He finds the ball! Early in the game, he closed very quickly to get a breakup on an underneath route. When in coverage he shows good range and like Berry, consistently gets and keeps good positioning in zone. The 49ers tried a flea flicker at one point of the game and Lewis’ coverage was outstanding. The only negative I saw was while in pursuit to the sideline he was a bit out of control and missed a tackle on Michael Crabtree. Because of the miss, Crabtree got a 22-yard gain. Missed tackles usually turn into big plays for the opposing team. He earns a solid B.

Click here to win cash today playing fantasy football with the NFP and FanDuel.

Fantasy live chat today at 2:30pm eastern

It's time to start getting those rosters ready for Week 4.

Join NFP fantasy analyst Joe Fortenbaugh today at 2:30pm eastern for a 30-minute live fantasy chat. We'll be talking starts, sits, injury updates, lines, odds, predictions and more.

To join the chat, just log in to the Total Access Pass and click on the “Live Chat” tab at the top.

Haven't jumped on the Total Access Pass train yet? Click HERE to do so now!

Tommie Harris could return to action vs. Giants

Lovie Smith went out of his way on Wednesday to make sure it was known Tommie Harris isn’t in his dog house.

Or if he is in the dog house, he’s not at the back of it and should get to come out and run again soon.

The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle received a very public benching on Monday night when he was de-activated for the game with the Green Bay Packers. Harris was healthy and the decision was made that he simply wasn’t one of the team’s 45 best players for that game.

It was a surprising move on the surface, but the Bears have struggled to get production from Harris ever since signing him to a contract extension in 2008. He practiced rarely last year and that became an issue for new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Harris hasn’t missed a thing this year and he hasn’t produced on the field.

There’s the trick. The team believed a more involved Harris would lead to a more dynamic one. General manager Jerry Angelo even stepped out before the season began and said he expected a return to Pro Bowl form.

Instead, he’s been deemed a liability. Why hasn’t more practice created the results the team is seeking?

“That's what we're trying to figure out, all right?” Smith said. “You don't have to figure all that out after three games. We're going to go back to practice. Maybe sometimes taking a week off helps for whatever reason. But Tommie is still a big part of what we're going to do around here.”

From the sounds of things, Harris will be active for Sunday’s game at the Giants. What role he’ll play remains to be seen. This is the third timeout he’s been given in three seasons. Maybe it makes a difference. But Smith sure can’t say.

“We don't try to send messages or things like that,” Smith said. “As far as who will who be dressing this week, who will be starting, that is why you go through the practice week.”

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Click here to win cash today playing fantasy football with the NFP and FanDuel