Apr 21, 2024; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins throws out the first pitch prior to the game between the Atlanta Braves against the Texas Rangers at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins takes field with Falcons, moving past injury, draft shocker

Healing from a season-ending injury and Achilles surgery, Kirk Cousins has lost interest in the draft night conversation centered around the Falcons selected quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick.

Cousins participated in non-contact workouts with his teammates on Tuesday and said he’s on target to be on the field when it matters most. How the Falcons choose to sort out the depth chart at his position after giving him $100 million guaranteed in free agency isn’t an immediate concern for the former Vikings’ starter.

“Always going to be competition in this league, and you’ve always got to go out and earn it,” Cousins said after team workouts Tuesday. “I’m going to control what I can control and also understand there’s a lot that you don’t control. I learned a long time ago that you’ve got to focus on what you can control.”

Falcons head coach Raheem Morris projected Cousins would be ready for training camp based on assessment made by the Atlanta medical team and training staff.

Cousins, who turns 36 in August, had surgery Nov. 1 for a torn Achilles tendon. He shared rehab routines and recovery and healing tips with former NFC North rival Aaron Rodgers, who was weeks ahead of Cousins’ timeline working back from the same injury.

When Cousins first met with media after signing a four-year deal to leave the Vikings, he intimated discussions with the Falcons’ training staff took place before he signed a mere two hours into NFL free agency on March 13. The league launched a tampering investigation that is ongoing, but Cousins dismissed any suggestions of wrongdoing as “innocent” on Tuesday.

Cousins, injured in Week 8 last season, was on the field with teammates on Tuesday and said he felt better than expected.

“It’s coming along really well. Today I felt the best I’ve felt,” he said. “I wasn’t sure when I stood here in March — and I had just gotten here — how much I’d be able to do at practice, but today I felt I was able to do everything I would have normally done. That’s big for that stuff I talked about initially: building continuity, getting shared history together … excited to see how fast we can heal from here.”

An interview on the “Bussin’ With the Boys” podcast earlier Tuesday framed the Penix draft conundrum a different way, touching on whether he has any animosity for the rookie.

“I don’t think there can be; I don’t think it’s helpful,” Cousins said in the interview. “We’re trying to win a Super Bowl and it’s hard enough. Let’s all be on the same page and let’s try to go win a Super Bowl.”

Cousins spent six seasons with the Vikings and played for Washington the first six years of his career. The former Michigan State quarterback has some idea what Penix is experiencing. He was drafted to be a backup to No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III, four rounds later in the same draft.

He reportedly spurned Minnesota’s bid to bring him back in free agency because he learned the Vikings were keen on drafting one of the six quarterbacks selected in the first round last month. The draft surprise came when Atlanta invested its top pick on a quarterback.

Cousins replayed his perspective of the draft-day conversation he had with the Falcons, who called when they were on the clock to inform him Penix was their pick.

“I think you’re reminded again that there are things you control and there’s a lot of things you don’t control,” Cousins told the “Bussin’ With the Boys” podcast. “So let’s deal in reality and recognize that fact and then be a steward not an owner.”

–Field Level Media

Feb 5, 2024; Atlanta, GA, USA; Raheem Morris address the media after being introduced as the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons’ Raheem Morris, Terry Fontenot: All QB options on table

INDIANAPOLIS — As the Atlanta Falcons settle in for the NFL Scouting Combine this week, team brass tackled the quarterback question head-on.

“If we had better quarterback play last year,” new head coach Raheem Morris said Tuesday, “I might not be standing here.”

Three straight 7-10 seasons spelled the end of Arthur Smith’s tenure as Atlanta’s coach. The Falcons flitted between Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke at starting quarterback throughout 2023, with neither able to take the job and run with it.

“We’ve got to get it right, and that’s real clear,” general manager Terry Fontenot said. “We haven’t shied away from that. We know that’s critical to get that position right.”

To replace Smith, the Falcons hired Morris, a former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and most recently the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator. Morris said he’s surrounded himself with “19 quarterback coaches” on his coaching staff, chief among them offensive coordinator Zac Robinson and QBs coach T.J. Yates, both former NFL signal-callers.

Ridder, a third-round pick in the 2022 draft, remains on the Falcons’ roster. He threw for 2,836 yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 games (13 starts) in 2023, but he tossed 12 interceptions and fumbled 12 times.

Morris and Fontenot made clear they’re leaving no stone unturned, particularly as the Falcons have an estimated $41.99 million in salary cap space.

“We have so many avenues right now because we have free agency money,” Morris said. “We have the ability to trade. … You’ve got option A, you’ve got option B, you’ve got option C, you’ve got option D.”

“It can be a veteran, it can be a young player. We won’t close any doors,” Fontenot added. “It’s about getting it right, whatever that is. And the cool thing about this year is there are a lot of really good options in all areas.”

The Falcons hold the No. 8 pick in the draft, with quarterback-needy teams like Washington and New England ahead of them.

A trade or free agent pickup could be the likelier play, though Morris was careful to sidestep specific questions about pending free agent Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay) or trade-market possibilities Russell Wilson (Denver) and Justin Fields (Chicago).

“I’ve got so much respect for our fans that I won’t get myself in trouble or us in trouble talking about any particular person,” Morris said. “But it’s really exciting with the quarterback group that’s out there that we have the ability of acquiring. And that’s what makes our fan base, that’s what makes our front office, that’s what makes our coaches all excited to be able to talk in our rooms about those people.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera stands on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Ron Rivera interviews with Rams for DC opening

The Los Angeles Rams interviewed former Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera for their recently vacated defensive coordinator position over the weekend, CBS Sports reported Monday.

The Rams are interviewing to replace Raheem Morris, who was named head coach of the Atlanta Falcons last week. The Rams have also interviewed or have interviews set up with Brandon Staley, Aden Durde and Dennard Wilson. Staley served as the Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2020.

Rivera also reportedly interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles last week before they landed on Vic Fangio.

Rivera, 62, last served as a DC on Norv Turner’s staff with the then-San Diego Chargers from 2008-10. The 2010 squad finished first in the NFL in total defense and second in scoring defense.

Rivera is 102-103-2 as a head coach with the Commanders (2020-23) and Carolina Panthers (2011-19). He also has been a defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears (2004-06) and has experience in Philadelphia as Andy Reid’s linebackers coach for five seasons from 1999-2003.

–Field Level Media

NFL Kansas City Chiefs offensive line Wanya Morris

Chiefs rookie LT Wanya Morris likely to start vs. Bills

Chiefs rookie left tackle Wanya Morris worked with the first-team offense on Wednesday.

He’s in line to start for Sunday when the Buffalo Bills (6-6) come to Kansas City after a bye last week.

Head coach Andy Reid said Morris, a third-round pick in 2023, was solid last Sunday night when forced to log a season-high 42 snaps in a loss to the Green Bay Packers. He played eight snaps at left tackle in the first 11 games combined.

Starting left tackle Donovan Smith (neck stinger) could miss the matchup with the Bills, and a one-on-one confrontation with Buffalo pass rusher Leonard Floyd. Floyd leads Buffalo with 9.5 sacks this season.

At Green Bay, Morris allowed one sack and four pressures of quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“Yeah, he’s played well. He’s done a great job in the run and the pass game,” Mahomes said Wednesday. “Now it’s just trying to get him prepared to face a great defensive line with all the games they do and the stunts.”

Reid said running back Isiah Pacheco (shoulder contusion) did not practice Wednesday. He rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries against Green Bay.

–Field Level Media

Jul 31, 2022; Irvine, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris during training camp at UC Irvine. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CPR training aided Rams DC Raheem Morris in life-saving Vegas incident

CPR training helped Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris rescue an unresponsive 3-year-old in a Las Vegas pool last week.

The child had no detectable pulse when his father removed him from the Encore Las Vegas pool and carried him to a nearby lifeguard, according to Morris’ wife, Nicole, who shared the story on Instagram.

Morris rushed to ask the lifeguard where the automatic external defibrillator (AED) was located and ran to retrieve it.

“When I got back, we had a doctor on site that was able to start the compressions. I was able to hand the AED to him, get it open for him, put the pads on the child, and he ended up being OK,” Morris told ESPN.

Morris credited his recent training on certified CPR and AED use for knowing the process and protocol for introducing the automatic electric shock device. Use of AEDs and CPR training have become priorities for NFL teams since the January incident involving Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who experienced cardiac arrest on the field and was revived by team training and medical staff using an AED.

“I’m just thankful I knew what to do,” Raheem Morris said. “You just never know when you’re going to need that stuff.”

Nicole Morris said the boy was discharged from the hospital 24 hours later.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; The Sooner Schooner enters the field after Oklahoma Sooners score a touchdown against the Baylor Bears during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma RT Wanya Morris declares for NFL draft

Oklahoma offensive tackle Wanya Morris announced Friday that he is declaring for the NFL draft and will skip the Sooners’ bowl game.

Morris, a right tackle, spent the last two seasons with Oklahoma after spending his first two college campaigns at Tennessee.

“These past 4 years haven’t been easy at all, but everyone of you have helped me mature into a better man, player and teammate,” Morris said on Twitter. “… After discussing with my family, I will be opting out of the bowl game and declaring for the 2023 NFL draft.”

Morris is likely a mid-to-late round selection in the draft.

He is the second Oklahoma offensive lineman to declare this week. Left tackle Anton Harrison, a possible first-round pick, announced he was declaring for the draft on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA;  TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Chandler Morris (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

TCU QB Chandler Morris (knee) out vs. Tarleton State

TCU quarterback Chandler Morris will miss Saturday’s home game against Tarleton State due to a sprained left knee.

Morris sustained the injury in the third quarter of TCU’s season-opening 38-13 victory over Colorado.

“He’s got a sprained knee, not severely strained,” Horned Frogs coach Sonny Dykes said at Monday’s news conference. “It’s one of those deals that will immobilize him for a couple of days. He’ll try to get out any kind of swelling.

“It will be basically strengthening and getting him back to normal. Fortunately, we have an open week next week.”

Max Duggan will start against Tarleton State. Duggan will be making his 30th career start for TCU and has passed for 5,947 yards, 41 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

Morris beat out Duggan for the starting job prior to the opener.

Morris completed 13 of 20 passes for 111 yards before exiting against Colorado. The Oklahoma transfer passed for 717 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in relief behind Duggan in 2021.

Also, linebacker Thomas Armstrong is done for the season after tearing an ACL against Colorado.

After the open date, the Horned Frogs visit SMU on Sept. 24.

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; A general view of the end zone before their game between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Giants to add seven to Ring of Honor

The New York Giants are reaching back into team history and adding six players and a contributor to the Ring of Honor, the franchise’s highest achievement.

Former running backs Joe Morris, Ottis Anderson and Rodney Hampton, as well as defensive end Leonard Marshall, were invited to practice on Tuesday and were told of their selection by Giants president and CEO John Mara.

Joining them as new members of the Ring of Honor are Ronnie Barnes, the senior vice president of medical services who has been on the team’s medical staff for 47 years, and defensive back Jimmy Patton and halfback/receiver Kyle Rote. The latter two will be inducted posthumously.

All seven of the honorees were members of Giants championship teams: Patton and Rote in 1956; Morris in 1986; Anderson and Marshall in 1986 and 1990; and Hampton in 1990.

Barnes has been with the Giants for all four NFL championships.

Their additions will leave the Ring of Honor with 50 members. Two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning was honored in 2021.

“We are proud to add these deserving and legendary figures in Giants history to our Ring of Honor,” Mara said in a news release. “Each of the players was among the very best at his position to wear a Giants uniform. All of them helped our franchise win championships and enjoy long-term success, as has Ronnie Barnes, who has been an invaluable and beloved member of our organization for decades.”

The enshrinement ceremony will take place Sept. 26 when the Giants host the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on “Monday Night Football.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 22, 2020; Flowery Branch, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley takes the field and a football for training camp at the Falcons training facility. Mandatory Credit: Curtis Compton/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons to hold McKinley ‘accountable’ for words

Atlanta Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris plans to hold Takk McKinley accountable for his social media post ripping the team for failing to meet his trade request on Tuesday.

McKinley claimed via Twitter that the Falcons turned down a second-round pick last year and other offers Tuesday from team’s attempting to acquire the defensive end at the trade deadline.

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