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It is hard not to feel a little bad for St. Louis Rams running back Daryl Richardson.
Former Rams running back Steven Jackson signed with the Atlanta Falcons prior to this season, and Richardson, a seventh-round pick in 2012, had an opportunity to start. Richardson competed against Isaiah Pead during training camp and emerged as St. Louis’ top running back. It must have been a dream come true.
That was until Richardson rushed 42 times for 114 yards (2.7 average) and no touchdowns heading into Week 5. St. Louis is ranked last in rushing yards (189 yards), and if Richardson’s Twitter account is any indication, that lack of production cost him a starting job.
@DRICH_26 You still starting?
— Saeb Haidar (@saebhaidar) October 2, 2013
@saebhaidar not this week man
— Daryl Richardson (@DRICH_26) October 2, 2013
Richardson, 23, went from Abilene Christian University to starting for the St. Louis Rams, and that says something about his talent. He is young enough to learn and possibly take advantage of another opportunity, assuming St. Louis still believes in him.
St. Louis’ other options are Benny Cunningham, who has 10 carries for 22 yards, and Pead, who has rushed seven times for 21 yards.
Unfortunately, for Richardson, he may not be the Rams’ No.1 option anymore.
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson has joined the growing list of underperforming athletes who are sick and tired of fantasy football owners complaining to them on Twitter.
Apparently, there are some fantasy football owners still stuck in 2009. That is the year Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns, plus added 503 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Those fantasy players seemingly forgot that Johnson has been an average player since that magical year before their recent draft. As a result, they actually expected Johnson to have more than 277 yards and no touchdowns through four games in 2013.
As if drafting Johnson was not bad enough, some geniuses compounded that terrible decision by getting on the running back’s Twitter’s page and ridiculing him for his lack of production. As you can guess, Johnson did not appreciate the insults:
Public service announcement: I can care less about fantasy football. Key word fantasy. As long as we win I’m … http://t.co/8mu7lqgOag
— Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) September 30, 2013
U r the head coach n the owner of ur fantasy team so u should be mad at urself I didn’t ask any of u to draft … http://t.co/kIDXyMPvo3
— Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) September 30, 2013
Ironically, Johnson appeared in a fantasy football commercial for ESPN in 2010, and random strangers gave him a hard time about not producing for their teams in that advertisement. Johnson did not mind the ribbing then, but it appears being known for destroying fantasy football teams no longer carries that funny charm.
Complaining to your friends about an athlete killing your fantasy team is one thing, but harassing him on Twitter is immature. The majority of athletes are motivated by money or success, and no player looks himself prior to a game and says, “I got to score today because ‘Baby Got Sacks’ needs me.” Of course, that motivation could help the Jacksonville Jaguars right now.
Here is the reality.
If you are a fantasy owner who drafted Johnson, the only person to blame for that move is yourself.
There was a story on Monday that Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman is in stage one of the league’s substance-abuse program.
And with that leaked news, the Buccaneers-Freeman relationship really goes off the rails. There’s a small, small chance that it was someone close to Freeman who chose to leak that news as the player faces an uncertain future after being benched. ESPN cited “league and player sources” in the report.
No matter if Freeman skipped meetings last week after being benched, as was reported, or missed a team photo or anything else that has been said about him, that news being leaked is a major breach of his privacy rights. Someone broke common decency and etiquette to reveal that news. This goes well beyond the team banishing him to a suite for Sunday’s game. Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said it was a mutual decision, but Freeman’s agent told the Tampa Bay Times that Schiano was lying.
Freeman was understandably upset to see his status in the drug program became public, and that came through loud and clear through a statement he released to Pro Football Talk through his agents.
Here’s Freeman’s statement, which PFT had first:
“Let me be very clear. I have NEVER tested positive for any illegal drugs or related substances. Further, I have agreed to take, and have PASSED 46 NFL-regulated drug tests over the last year and a half.
Since the confidentiality of my medical status has been publicly violated, I am choosing to address this matter so that grossly erroneous assumptions about me do not persist. Like millions of Americans, I have ADHD and I have been prescribed and permitted to take medication to treat this condition for the entirety of my NFL career. Well over a year ago, I took a different medication for the same condition (Ritalin rather than Adderall) , and to assure everyone that the error was a one-time mistake, I agreed to be voluntarily tested in the “NFL Program.” Since that time, I have taken and passed all 46 drug tests I’ve been given, which test for every drug and banned substance imaginable. I agreed to allow such testing to be done at my workplace (team facility) because I spend all of my time there and I have nothing whatsoever to hide or be embarrassed about.
Unfortunately, it appears that some people who may have noticed the testing at my workplace have made hurtful and incorrect assumptions and chosen to disseminate inaccurate and very disturbing information. It is a shame that when times have gotten tough, people have chosen to attack the character of others, rather than supporting each other. I remain dedicated and focused to being the best quarterback I can be and to help a team win a championship.”
This situation keeps deteriorating. Just when you thought that Freeman not being allowed on the sideline Sunday and the bickering that followed marked the low point, the childish backbiting got much, much worse on Monday.
[Watch: Week 4 NFL highlights]
It doesn’t seem the public battles can get any worse than this embarrassing low point, but we’ll wait to see what both sides can come up with over the rest of the week.
Paul Oliver, who played 57 games for the Chargers from 2007-11, is dead at age 29.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Oliver committed suicide, citing “three independent sources close to Oliver” in its report that he took his own life.
It’s too soon to know why Oliver committed suicide. And it really doesn’t matter at the moment; it’s just a sad, tragic day for Oliver’s family, friends and a Chargers team that has dealt with a lot of horrible news in recent years. The most notable Chargers tragedy was when Junior Seau took his own life in 2012. Now Oliver reportedly has as well.
Statement from Paul Oliver’s family: “We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers. We request privacy in the wake of this tragic loss.” — Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) September 25, 2013
Here’s the Chargers’ statement:
“Everyone in the Chargers family is sad today after hearing the news about Paul. He was part of our family for five years. At just 29 years old, he still had a lifetime in front of him. Right now all of our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this most difficult time.”
Oliver played at the University of Georgia, and his finest moment came when he was the primary defender on Georgia Tech receiver and future NFL star Calvin Johnson, and held Johnson to two catches and 13 yards. Georgia coach Mark Richt was also devastated by the news.
“It’s heartbreaking for me personally, for our staff, for the Bulldog Nation I’m sure, and obviously for his family,” Richt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m just, I mean I was just crushed this morning when I heard it, quite frankly. I really haven’t been able to keep it off my mind, to be honest with you.
“We’ve got to find a way to reach out and help in any way we can. I hope there is some way the Bulldog Nation can rally around that family, I hope everybody would be encouraged to do so.”
Oliver also had a brief stint with the Saints in his NFL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Sunday night could see the debut of two key Steelers — one for this season, the other for his career.
The team has been without key offensive cog Heath Miller at tight end, and it has soldiered on too without running back Le’Veon Bell, who was expected to be their bell cow back this season.
[Play Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Still, Miller is listed as questionable, meaning he has a 50-50 chance of playing. Bell is probable, so he has a 75 percent chance of making his NFL debut this week. On defense, cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) remains out.
The Bears, meanwhile, might be without one of their key defenders. Cornerback Charles Tillman has only practiced this week on a limited basis with a knee. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall (back), offensive guard Kyle Long (back) and tight end Martellus Bennett (shoulder) all are listed as probable.
Here’s a look at some of the other key injuries from around the NFL for Sunday’s games:
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens: Ravens running back Ray Rice (hip) is listed as doubtful, as is defensive tackle Chris Canty. They both should be considered game-time decisions. This game likely will mark the return of safety Ed Reed to Baltimore, although he’s still listed as questionable for the Texans. Receiver Andre Johnson (concussion) has been cleared to play and is probable to go.
New York Giants at Carolina Panthers: The big news for the Giants is that cornerback Corey Webster (hip) is listed as doubtful, which is a tough blow for a shallow secondary, depth-wise. The Panthers will definitely be taxed in their defensive backfield with safety Quintin Mikell (ankle), and corners D.J. Moore (knee) and Josh Thomas (concussion) all listed as out, and cornerback James Dockery (thumb, shoulder) questionable.
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals: Running back Eddie Lacy (concussion) missed Friday’s practice and is listed as questionable, but James Starks is expected to start for the Packers. We’ll have to wait another week at least before safety Morgan Burnett returns. For the Bengals, defensive end Robert Geathers (elbow) is out and corner Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring) is doubtful; both got hurt in Monday’s win over the Steelers.
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys: Wide receiver Dez Bryant has gotten some good news on his back, and though he’ll have to play through some pain, he will give it a go, apparently. He’s listed as probable, along with corner Morris Claiborne (shoulder), quarterback Tony Romo (ribs) and defensive end DeMarcus Ware (neck). Fellow end Anthony Spencer (knee) is questionable. The Rams will be without offensive tackle Rodger Saffold (knee), but most of the other key contributors should be ready for Sunday.
Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings: With Brandon Weeden (right thumb) out, the Browns will call on Brian Hoyer — not Jason Campbell — to start for the second time in his career. The last one was last season with the Cardinals, in a loss to the 49ers in Week 17. Other key Browns injuries: Ahtyba Rubin (calf) is questionable, and offensive guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) is doubtful. The Vikings have myriad injuries, but most are not that serious; only Rhett Ellison (knee) has been ruled out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots: For the first time this season, tight end Rob Gronkowski (back, forearm) is listed as questionable — one of six Patriots with such a designation. Gronk will be a game-time decision, reportedly. Receiver Danny Amendola (groin) is doubtful, and not expected to play. For the Bucs, guard Carl Nicks is expected to make his debut Sunday, although he’s listed as questionable. He has been out since August with a foot injury.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints: Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (toe) have been battling injuries and each are listed as questionable, though expected to give it a go Sunday. The Saints once more will be hurting on defense, with safety Roman Harper (knee) out, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (calf) questionable and a slew of players nicked up and listed as probable. Guard Jahri Evans (hamstring) and running back Mark Ingram (toe) also are questionable.
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans: Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd, who suffered a scary neck injury last week, is out, and linebacker Manti Te’o remains doubtful with a foot injury. Two other key Chargers — linebacker Donald Butler (groin) and right tackle D.J. Fluker (concussion) — are questionable. The Titans will be without running back Shonn Greene (knee) and defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill (ankle) but otherwise should be in decent shape.
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins: The good news for Detroit is that Reggie Bush, questionable with a knee, appears ready to go. The Redskins have five players listed as questionable — defensive ends Stephen Bowen (knee) and Kedric Golston (abdomen), kicker Kai Forbath (right groin), receiver Leonard Hankerson (hamstring, hip) and safety Brandon Meriweather (concussion).
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins: The Falcons are among the more banged up teams in the NFL. After placing Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Biermann on the injury list this week (Weatherspoon can return later), the defense also might have to be without corner Asante Samuel (thight) and the offense will not have left tackle Sam Baker (knee, foot) and running back Steven Jackson (hamstring), both of whom have been ruled out. Receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White continue to gut their way through injuries, too. The Dolphins listed center Mike Pouncey (ankle) and receiver Mike Wallace (groin) as questionable, but as a team they appear to be getting healthier.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: Bills safety Jairus Byrd (foot) has been upgraded to questionable after missing the first two weeks, but corner Stephon Gilmore remains out. The Jets are relatively healthy, with no new injuries.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers: The Colts’ defense comes in a little banged up, with safety LaRon Landry (ankle) out and linebacker Pat Angerer (knee) listed doubtful. The 49ers went from one player on the injury list last week, to 10 this week. Most everyone should play, but tight end Vernon Davis (hamstring), running back LaMichael James (knee), defensive tackle Ray McDonald (both ankles) and safety Eric Reid (concussion) are all questionable.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks: The 0-2 Jaguars, nearly 20-point dogs, have ruled out four players, including quarterback Blaine Gabbert (throwing hand) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf), so Chad Henne once more will start. The Seahawks will be without left tackle Russell Okung, who was placed on the short-term IR with a toe injury, but are fairly healthy otherwise.
Two games into Trent Richardson’s second season, the Cleveland Browns have given up on the running back who was the third pick of the 2012 draft. In a surprise move, the Browns shipped Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday for a first-round pick in the 2014 draft.
There’s spinning your wheels, then there’s the Browns. This is one of the more baffling moves the team has pulled off, and there have been plenty to go around.
Richardson has not been great in his one-plus NFL seasons, but last year he was playing through injuries most of the season. He has flashed his tremendous talent already (when the Browns weren’t deciding to let Brandon Weeden throw 53 times in a close Week 1 while giving Richardson just 13 carries in a close game, anyway). The new front office, led by general manager Mike Lombardi, decided to ship off Richardson already – and in the process announce they’ve practically given up on the 2014 season after two games.
[Related: Slideshow: Biggest NFL in-season trades]
For now, it looks as if the Browns will turn to free agent veteran Willis McGahee to fill the role that Richardson is leaving.
#Browns announce trade of RT Trent Richardson to Colts for 1st-round pick. RB Willis McGahee will come in for physical.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) September 18, 2013
When you give up on the third pick of the draft after a little more than a year and turn to someone like McGahee, you have to wonder if the franchise has any long-term vision. There’s almost no chance the Colts’ pick will be in the top five, especially now that the offense has added a legitimate running back.
The Colts lost starting running back Vick Ballard to a freak knee injury in practice last week, leaving them with Ahmad Bradshaw and little else. Colts owner Jim Irsay got Twitter buzzing with this message on Wednesday afternoon.
This day of MONSTER TRADE,The Tidal Wave Of Deal making…Shocks the system of “..Didn’t see THIS ONE COMING!!!!!!” Grig’s Rollin’ Dice!
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) September 18, 2013
Less than an hour later the Colts had stolen Richardson from the Browns.
“Trent’s a great player and we expect him to have success in this league,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said, according to AP. “Right now, based on how we’re building this team for sustainable success, we’re going to be aggressive and do what it takes to assemble a team that consistently wins.”
Richardson has 298 carries for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns in his 17 NFL games, while adding 58 receptions for 418 yards and one touchdown. Again, he dealt with injuries last season, including broken ribs, so the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
How bad was this trade? Well, Cleveland running back Dion Lewis, who is on injured reserve, wasn’t sure if he was being pranked:
This real or fake
— Dion Lewis (@DionLewis28) September 18, 2013
The Browns at least have some ammunition for next year’s draft. After the Richardson trade, it’s a pretty good bet their own pick will be very high in the first round.
It is pretty common for a fantasy football owner to jokingly tell their friends that a certain NFL player is killing their team. However, most of us do not get on Twitter and rip that player because he played poorly.
However, some of the disgruntled owners of Baltimore’s Ray Rice thought it was a good idea to verbally attack the running back yesterday. Rice had 13 carries for 36 yards before eventually leaving the game with a hip injury in the fourth quarter. Baltimore defeated Cleveland, 14-6, but Rice’s performance contributed to the fantasy football loss of some teams.
After some “fans” attacked Rice on his Twitter page, the running back finally fired back:
I was a fan of fantasy football until today so many spiteful and hateful words I still love you all God Bless great win today #Ravens
— Ray Rice (@RayRice27) September 15, 2013
Talk about a few flunkies ruining it for the rest of us.
The majority of fantasy football owners – those who understand it is a game – enjoy playing because we are competitive, love football, and delight in sending text messages to our friends at 1 a.m. bragging about a victory. Few of us would even think about contacting that player and insulting them, especially after they left a game with an injury.
Let’s hope somebody shows Rice how to block ridiculous people on Twitter for the sake of those fantasy football owners who actually have a brain.
You don’t generally hear about serious injuries coming out of an in-season NFL practice, considering they’re controlled and relatively light. That’s why it was so startling to see the news that Vick Ballard is suddenly done for the season.
[Play fantasy football on the go: Live/mock drafts, real-time scoring and more on iPhone, iPad and Android]
Ballard, who shares time at running back on the Colts with Ahmad Bradshaw and started the season opener, suffered a torn ACL on a freak non-contact injury in Thursday’s practice, the Indianapolis Star reported.
“We feel awful for Vick,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano told he Star. “We’ll deal with it. No one handles adversity like us.”
The injury is bad for Ballard, who had 814 rushing yards last season as a rookie and had 63 yards on 13 carries against the Raiders last week. You don’t want to lose a year of your professional career to a knee injury suffered without contact in practice.
This means more will be asked of former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw. In his first game with the Colts, Bradshaw had 26 yards on seven carries. He missed most of training camp and didn’t play at all in the preseason because of a foot injury, and isn’t the best bet to stay healthy with a full share of carries in Indianapolis. Perennial disappointment Donald Brown, who didn’t touch the ball in the opener, will get another shot to contribute.
Injuries happen in the NFL all the time, but the Colts didn’t figure on losing one of their key offensive players in this way.
The Pittsburgh Steelers cannot get a break when it comes to injuries.
Pittsburgh was optimistic running back Le’Veon Bell, who has a midfoot sprain that is being categorized as a Lisfranc injury, could miss at least a month of playing time, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bell sustained his injury in the preseason and did not have surgery. However, today’s news is another huge blow to Pittsburgh’s offense.
The Steelers recently re-signed running back Jonathan Dwyer after backup LaRod Stephens-Howling sustained a season-ending ACL injury in Week 1. Pittsburgh’s only healthy running backs were Isaac Redman and Felix Jones after this past Sunday’s game. The Steelers had only 32 rushing yards during a 16-9 loss against Tennessee.
In addition, Pittsburgh lost center Maurkice Pouncey (ACL and MCL) and linebacker Larry Foote (ruptured biceps) to season-ending injuries this past Sunday.
Pittsburgh’s offense is struggling without Bell, and it appears his health will not improve anytime soon. The Steelers are doing the right thing by not rushing Bell back into action, but nobody has stepped up in his absence. Dwyer played well in the preseason, but staying healthy is probably the biggest victory Pittsburgh can hope for nowadays.