Browns want to sign Brian Hoyer to extension

The Cleveland Browns want to sign quarterback Brian Hoyer to a contract extension, according to ESPN.

Coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Hoyer is competing with former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for the starting job.

Hoyer is entering the final year of his contract and is due a $1 million base salary.

The fact that Cleveland wants to sign Hoyer to a contract is a positive sign about his progress from the knee injury. They also think he will likely be a good bridge to Manziel and possibly a long-term backup once he's ready to start.

Hoyer won both of his two starts last season.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Monday Morning MD

The Oakland Raiders are the only team in the National Football League that plays some of their home games on a baseball dirt infield, which owner Mark Davis has called a “travesty.” Major League Baseball and the A’s recently announced a new 10-year deal to continue playing in the current stadium shared with the Raiders.

In this NFL era of health and safety, Davis may be correct in his terminology, as there are numerous medical issues when playing in the 50-year-old stadium. I have worked and provided medical coverage at all current NFL stadiums and Oakland is by far the worst facility. Imagine trying to move an injured player up three flights of stairs to the league-mandated in-stadium x-ray facility and then having to move him back down two flights of stairs to get to the “baby’s bedroom” sized training room for treatment.

The playing field with grass-dirt transitions creates definite safety concerns. Whenever surfaces change, there are inevitable seams that can cause injury. Players wear cleats meant for grass that result in poor footing on the dirt. I have treated hamstring and groin injuries as a result of the surface conditions in Oakland.

Oakland Raiders

There is no question that the dirt provides less cushioning than grass. Concussions often happen when the helmet hits the ground and this was how running back Jamaal Charles was knocked out of the Chiefs’ only playoff game last season during the first quarter. Some have implicated artificial turf to be worse for concussions versus softer natural grass fields. If that is true, certainly the dirt infield provides an even greater concussion danger.

When football is played on baseball dirt, there is a definite increased incidence of skin abrasions. Every early season contest in Oakland led to the post-game training room becoming a mini “road rash” clinic. Skin breakdown can lead to increased incidence for super-infections like MRSA, which are resistant to tradition antibiotics.

I am not a groundskeeper, but to me, baseball grass is thinner and finer than football grass. San Diego’s professional teams shared a playing field until 2004 and the old grass was frail and easily torn up by football cleats. After the Padres moved into their own stadium, I noticed a definite difference as the subsequent football-only grass surface was noticeably more durable and forgiving.

California had the three oldest and worst stadiums in the NFL. San Francisco will graduate from that dubious rank this upcoming season with the new Levi’s Stadium. San Diego and Oakland remain, neither with a stadium deal in sight.

For the foreseeable future, the Raiders will continue to be the only shared football/baseball stadium in the NFL. With the announcement of a 10-year baseball lease and the safety concerns outlined here, there is pressing need for a solution. The issue isn’t just about being fan friendly with amenities and improved sightlines, but one of player injuries in this NFL health and safety era.

MMMD 1: $675 million concussion settlement cap lifted

The NFL agreed to remove the total monetary limit on payouts to retired players for concussion damages. The settlement judge was concerned whether there would be enough money for future claimants and this solves that potential problem.

The original payout formula based on age and illness will remain. Attorneys from both sides believe that no more than the initial $675 million will be paid, however, the settlement is designed to last for 65 years to accommodate former players that develop future concussion related diseases. This change insures that settlement money won’t run out over time.

MMMD 2: The potentially bigger concussion settlement issue

The revised settlement proposal not only lifts the cap, it also lifts the ban on suing the NCAA or other amateur football leagues. Previously, anyone receiving concussion settlement monies from the NFL would be barred from going back and litigating against his college or high school.

The original settlement proposal was aimed at ending all future litigation. Now the door is open for injured players to potentially seek damages from their pre-NFL years.

It doesn’t look like any of the concussion issues will end anytime soon.

MMMD 3: Writing letter to tell your family you love them, in case you forget

Former NFL tight end Ben Utecht is worried about forgetting that he loves his wife and three young daughters, so he wrote them a letter to memorialize it. His six-year football career ended after a fifth concussion.

The former tight end envisions becoming a full-time advocate on concussion issues. He already is a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Neurology.

Utecht also has begun a music career and this letter is being turned into a song entitled, “You Will Always Be My Girls.”

MMMD 4: Jadeveon Clowney says he played with sports hernia in college

Jadeveon ClowneyClowney recently claimed he played his 2013 collegiate season with a sports hernia.

When this year’s first pick in the draft had sports hernia surgery, the Texans indicated it was a new injury. Clowney agreed and stated that the injury happened after the Combine.

Now, the standout pass rusher has indicated that he played the 2013 season with a sports hernia injury. Some question why the Texans wouldn’t have found that at the Combine medical exams. As explained two weeks ago, often there are minimal exam findings and an MRI typically doesn’t show this specific injury.

My information indicates that even if Clowney did have a sports hernia injury last year, it certainly wasn’t severe enough to require surgery. In addition, his Combine evaluation showed a rectus strain and not a sports hernia. Most likely, Clowney’s transition to outside linebacker is what caused the new symptoms and the need for surgery.

MMMD 5: Expect Mike Pouncey to end up on the PUP list

The Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl center recently underwent hip labrum surgery. The opening estimate for return was “at least three months.”

If indeed Pouncey had a labral repair or reconstruction (and not simple debridement), the words “at least” will come into play. He would likely end up on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list which would necessitate missing at least the first six games of the regular season.

As the lone returning starter and “quarterback” of the offensive line, this may significantly affect Miami’s start to the season.

MMMD 6: Knowshon Moreno has knee scope

Knowshon MorenoFormer Denver running back Knowshon Moreno should be ready to go for Miami's training camp.

We discussed the likelihood of Moreno having “now or never” surgery on his knee last week. The former Denver Bronco has now had the knee scope and should return in time for the majority of training camp.

This surgery should not worry Dolphins fans for this season, but may be a worry for Moreno’s career longevity.

MMMD 7: What is that magic spray used on World Cup players?

Cold spray or the magic sponge has been used in the sport of soccer for decades. Skin refrigerants cool the surface of the skin and can provide momentary distraction or temporary relief. Cold water or a sponge soaked in ice water is also used.

Through my years of international travel as a team physician for the USA Rugby team, I am very familiar with this use in international circles. There is no magic here. These techniques don’t cure or fix anything. That is why cold spray is not used in the macho NFL world.

There are other reasons unrelated to the magic spray or sponge that make soccer players hop up miraculously after injury.

MMMD extra: ACL surgery series – Week 24

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Broncos linebacker Von Miller are approaching the six-month mark in their recovery from ACL surgery. At this point, they should be full-go on functional rehab.

I attended an orthopedic conference last week and the topic of ACL graft choices came up. One speaker advocated for the use of non-irradiated cadaver grafts, but even he admitted he would use a patient’s own tissue (autograft) if it were a high level athlete. It is well known that cadaver grafts have a significantly higher failure rate than using autograft.

The reason for this higher failure rate is not true rejection, but that of graft non-incorporation. The re-rupture typically happens at the 6-12 month range.

The worst thing that can happen to any athlete is to re-tear their ACL for a second time. Missing two consecutive seasons more times than not ends a high school, college or NFL career. This is why I highly discourage my patients from using cadaver tissue in ACL reconstruction.

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.

Ex-Jets RB Mike Goodson doesn't show up for court hearing

Former New York Jets running back Mike Goodson remains in trouble with the law.

And he's no closer to resolving his legal issues after failing to show up in court on drug and weapons chaqrges

Cut by the Jets last week with a left squad designation, Goodson could be arrested if he doesn't appear for a July 24 court hearing.

His lawyer cited financial reasons in explaining why Goodson didn't travel from Texas to make it to court.

When he was arrested last year, Goodson was passed out in his car on a highway with an unregistered gun with a hollow-point bullet.

Signed to a three-year, $6.9 million contract last year, Goodson played in just two games and tore his anteiror cruciate ligament.

He was cut when he skipped a mandatory minicamp.

"We're in the human business," Jets general manager John Idzik said. "We certainly do our due diligence. You can do as much research as you can, but you're really not going to know for sure until you get that individual in your organization and try to acclimate them to what you want to do."

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Aqib Talib's brother arrested in Dallas, not Aqib Talib

Dallas police have apologized to Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, correcting their initial mistake when they said he was arrested.

In fact, the NFL player wasn't arrested and charged with public intoxication at a Dallas nightclub.

It was actually Talib's older brother, Yaqub Talib, who was arrested.

“My apologies to Aqib Talib,” said Maj. Max Geron, a Dallas police department spokesman, wrote on Twitter. “Original information reported was incorrect.”

It was Geron who initially announced that Aqib Talib, who has a history of off-field problems, had been arrested.

Geron explained the mistake by an incorrect internal email that led to the confusion.

According to police, Yaqub Talib was involved in a disturbabce and was "the primary instigator, throwing bottles and becoming very physical with the people around him. That’s the reason he was arrested.”

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Antonio Cromartie says he hasn't lost his speed

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie posted an Instagram video and captions where he refuted losing any of his trademark speed.

The former New York Jets cornerback says he ran a 4.34 and a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash.

 "And (people) say I've lost a step," Cromartie wrote. "Only thing I can do laugh at you all. Ran 4.34 and 4.36 in the 40 today after a workout and I'm only getting faster."

Whether Cromartie has lost his speed doesn't appear to be an issue.

Whether he remains an inconsistent player is a more relevant question.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

It's strictly Panthers or retirement for Thomas Davis

As far as veteran linebacker Thomas Davis is concerned, it's either play for the Carolina Panthers or nothing else.

Davis told The Charlotte Observer he would rather retire than play for another team.

Davis has endured three torn anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee.

The Panthers haven't turned their back on him, allowing him to rehabilitate his injuries and they picked up the option in his contract for two years and paid him a $5 million bonus following last season.

“If I’m going to play football and represent an organization, it’s going to be with the team that stuck beside me and never gave up on me,” Davis said. “My mindset right now is, I’m going to play for the Carolina Panthers or I’m done playing football. ..

“It was up to them to make the decision whether they wanted to keep me around. And fortunately enough for me I played well enough for them to bring me back.”

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Dolphins to meet with Darryn Colledge, Samson Satele

The Miami Dolphins are scheduled to work out offensive linemen Darryn Colledge and Samson Satele on Monday, according to the Miami Herald.

Per the report, the Dolphins will also work out two other offensive linemen.

The Dolphins are shorthanded after losing center Mike Pouncey for at least three months due to a torn labrum that required hip surgery..

Satele is a former Dolphins draft pick who was later traded to the Oakland Raiders.

He has started for the Raiders and for the past two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts.

Colledge has played for the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Johnny Jolly cleared by doctors following neck surgery

Veteran defensive tackle Johnny Jolly has gained medical clearance after undergoiing neck surgery in January.

He had spinal fusion surgery on Jan. 10.

A free agent, Jolly is awaiting a call from teams to return to the NFL.


Jolly's outlook is positive and is expected to play this season.

"Johnny is doing great," said Jolly's agent, Jack Bechta, a founder of National Football Post, following the surgery. "He's not symptomatic and expects to play a minimum of three more years .There are over 16 players in the league playing with this particular single-leve fusion, which is the most common procedure for cervical issues."

Jolly made it back to the NFL last season in an incredible comeback story. This followed Jolly serving jail time and a three-year suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy stemming from an addiction to codeine.

Jolly, 31, ended last season on injured reserve after helping bolster the Packers' run defense.

"Johnny's potential new team and contract situation will be fluid as he heals," Bechta said. "But I think everybody would love to see his wonderful story continue in Lambeau."

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Team Preview: Atlanta Falcons

A lot was expected of the Atlanta Falcons in 2013, and they didn’t deliver. During the latter part of the season, there was even talk that head coach Mike Smith was in trouble. That did not prove to be true, but there were coaching changes.

Highly regarded Mike Tice has taken over the offensive line which played miserably last year. The defensive line coach was replaced by Bryan Cox. Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan is making a scheme change. While they don’t necessarily say so publicly, the personnel on the defensive line and at linebacker seem more suited to a base 3-4 scheme. The way clubs play defense now in the NFL, the base scheme is really just in first-and-10 situations.

The Falcons also had injury problems in 2013, and like every team in the NFL, they have to keep their core players healthy. Here is how their lineup looks going into training camp.


Matt Ryan, going into his seventh year, should be at the top of his game. He took a beating last year, was sacked 44 times, and his play fell off. It didn’t help that he didn’t have a healthy Roddy White for a good part of the season. With the offensive line revamped and White healthy, Ryan’s play should improve. He has the talent to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

There is not much behind Ryan. The Falcons recently traded for Houston backup T.J. Yates. Yates gives the Falcons the best chance for a reliable backup who can hold the fort should Ryan get injured.

Receivers and Tight Ends

The big loss at tight end is Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. His loss leaves the Falcons without a known receiving threat at the position. Free agent signee Bear Pascoe is more of a blocking tight end. The receiving tight end will most likely be second year man Levine Toilolo. He only caught 11 passes a year ago but has excellent talent and upside.

In Julio Jones, the Falcons have one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. If Roddy White returns to pre-2013 form, the Jones/White duo is as good as any in the league. The third receiver is seven-year veteran Harry Douglas who had one of his best seasons in 2013.

During free agency, the Falcons signed Devin Hester. Hester will be their primary return man as well as their fourth receiver. He is a threat any time he touches the ball in space.

Running Backs

Steven Jackson is the number one back, but with 11 years of experience, he can’t be counted on to carry a full load. The Falcons drafted productive Devonta Freeman from Florida State in the fourth round and I expect him to get a number of touches. Antone Smith, another Florida State product has shown top talent. Based upon the personnel, it looks as if this will be a running back-by-committee year.

Offensive Line

To put it mildly, the O-Line was terrible last year, and changes were made. Sam Baker is healthy and is back at left tackle. The Falcons first round pick this year was Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews. Matthews played left tackle in 2013 but, prior to that, was a very productive right tackle, and that’s where he will line up.
The guards will be holdover Justin Blalock, who hasn’t missed a start in years and free agent Jon Asamoah from Kansas City.

At center, the starter will either be 2012 second round pick Peter Konz or Joe Hawley. Both players can play center or guard. For depth, the Falcons signed former Bears first round pick Gabe Carimi, who Tice feels can still be a solid NFL player.

Defensive Line

Just looking at the defensive line personnel, the players fit more of a 3-4 type scheme, but they will be playing multiple fronts in 2014.

New to the defensive line in 2014 are free agent signees Paul Solial, a giant 345 pound nose tackle and Tyson Jackson, a 5-technique and former top draft choice in Kansas City. In the second round, the Falcons drafted talented Ra’Shede Hageman. Hageman had first round talent but played with an inconsistent motor. He has the ability to be special. The main holdover inside is Jonathan Babineaux, who still plays well after 10 years in the trenches.

Lining up outside is Kroy Biermann coming off an injury. When healthy, he can rush the passer. Veteran Osi Umenyiora will be the designated pass rusher. Others in the mix to play in the defensive line rotation are Peria Jerry and Corey Peters. My feeling is it will be midway through training camp before it all gets sorted out on the D-Line.


The surprise of last year’s rookie class is back at one of the linebacker positions. Undrafted free agent Paul Worrilow not only made the team, but he lead the Falcons in tackles.

The Falcons lost Sean Weatherspoon for the season this spring with an Achilles injury. He could very well be replaced by rookie fourth round pick Prince Shembo from Notre Dame. Shembo played outside as a pass rusher at Notre Dame and is a high motor guy. The Falcons were originally going to play him inside, but with Weatherspoon’s injury, Shembo may have to play outside. Second year man Joplo Bartu is also in the mix outside and has pass rush skills.

After the Weatherspoon injury, the Falcons signed Tim Dobbins from Houston. He is not seen as a potential starter. Rookies Marquis Spruill and Yawin Smallwood also figure into the mix.


Last year’s second round pick, Robert Alford from Southeastern Louisiana, played very well as a rookie, and more is expected in 2014. Last year’s first round pick, Desmond Trufant, will line up at the other corner. The Falcons will be young and inexperienced at the position but have two players with great upside starting.
Also in the mix at corner is free agent Josh Wilson from Washington and Javier Arenas, who is more of a nickel corner.

The safety position has some depth with William Moore, Dwight Lowery, Zeke Motta and rookie Dezmen Southward. Southward has safety size but corner skills and looked good in OTA’s.

Schedule and Outlook

The NFC South has become one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Carolina has shown great improvement and New Orleans is always tough. Tampa Bay, with Lovie Smith, looks to show great improvement. The Falcons first four games aren’t easy. They open with New Orleans before traveling to Cincinnati for weel two. In week three, they host Tampa Bay on Thursday night before traveling to Minnesota to finish the first quarter of the season. If the Falcons are going to challenge for the NFC South crown they have to come out of that opening month with a 3-1 record.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe