INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback Philip Rivers has yet to step foot inside his new team’s facility, shake the hands of his teammates or give coach Frank Reich a hug after being reunited with him.
Rivers also hasn’t had any on-field work with his center, but one thing he can practice during the coronavirus pandemic. is cadence calls and playcalls — even if it’s virtually.
It’s not ideal, but those obstacles haven’t kept Rivers from showing leadership during the team’s virtual meetings with coaches and teammates.
“I feel like I’ve got to know him,” wide receiver T.Y. Hilton said. “I mean, he’s already taken control of meetings. So he’s asking questions, knowing the terminology. He’s been in this offense — just some things we’ve changed up with different names. So he’s just getting those things down, and once he gets those down, he’ll be ready to go.”
“Vocal” is the word coaches and teammates have used to describe Rivers since he signed a one-year, $25 million contract with the Colts in March. But that’s expected, considering he is a veteran headed into his 17th NFL season and already is comfortable with the offense, as it’s basically the same one he’s run since 2013 when he and Reich were together with the Chargers. Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and tight ends coach Jason Michael were also on the Chargers’ staff at different points.
“When we get into the quarterback room, that is where Philip has already had an impact in that room — a few suggestions, a few lingo things there, a few terminology things,” Reich said. “… He’s got some good insight. There have been several — I can’t think of one off the top of my head — times where we’ve just gone to him and said, ‘Hey, just tell us how you want this. How do you see this? Are you good with this or do you want to call it something different? Do you want to look at it a different way?’ So that interaction is normal, and he is great at that stuff.”
The pandemic has left teams and players across the league trying to be creative when it comes to getting in sync, because few are working out in the same location.
Rivers is the fifth different starting quarterback that center Ryan Kelly has worked with since entering the NFL in 2016. Learning cadences with Rivers hasn’t been easy. These times call for being creative, which is why they’ll go step-by-step during conference calls.
“Obviously, Phil has a very different verbal cadence than what I’m used to, but that’s football, man,” Kelly said. “That’s the way it is. We’re getting paid as professionals to figure it out. There are going to be some learning curves for sure, but as soon as we can get out on the field or even if it’s just Phil and I sitting down and running through a few things, I think it’s really going to help out.
“We’re doing everything that we can to get live reps. If you visualize it enough, it will come over time to get used to it. As far as down to the cadence and his presence in the huddle, it’s obviously going to be paramount that we get that down. I think we’re doing a good job.”
Rivers’ receiving targets in 2020 are spread all across the country. Some are in California. Some are in Indiana. Some are in North Carolina and Florida.
So what does Rivers do to get some throws in until he is able to work with Hilton & Co.? He sets up makeshift targets to throw at with his son, who also is a quarterback, in Florida.
“This particular drill was like a checkdown drill, where he was dropping back in the pocket simulating movement and that little net, like it would be Nyheim Hines checking out of the backfield and then boom, deliver it that way. Then deliver it with this arm angle, working fast in the pocket, doing that,” Reich said. “That’s one example of physical tape that I’ve seen of him out there doing that kind of thing.
“At some point Philip will be moving here to Indy, sooner rather than later. Then more and more guys will get back to Indy, and then, as it’s allowed, we can get out on fields. It won’t be our field, but he’ll get together with receivers. He’ll throw with them.”
Dwayne Haskins, social media react to Washington NFL team name change
Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins said he’s “looking forward to the future” after the NFL franchise announced on Monday that it will be retiring its nickname and logo after completing a thorough review that began on July 3.
Haskins was one of several current and former NFL players who weighed in on the latest news, with other players asking social media followers to offer suggestions on what name the franchise should use next.
Last week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the franchise would not use any Native American imagery.
Washington’s logo of an American Indian chief had been designed by a Native American in 1971.
Washington has held the same nickname for the past 87 seasons, the most consecutive seasons with one nickname before a change in the history of NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL franchises, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Another source told ESPN that the plan, as of now, is to retain the franchise’s use of its burgundy and gold colors.
Here is how social media reacted Monday to the news:
— Dwayne Haskins, Jr (@dh_simba7) July 13, 2020
I guess all of these jerseys, t-shirts, helmets, etc. that I have in my house are collector’s items now? pic.twitter.com/IQ0wY6xuli
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) July 13, 2020
Unbelievable ha. https://t.co/6Gjo6HvflV
— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) July 13, 2020
Going to be crazy seeing a different logo for the redskins … and name !!!
— F L ⚡️ S H (@Melvingordon25) July 13, 2020
— Chris Baker (@cbakerswaggy) July 13, 2020
— Notah Begay III (@NotahBegay3) July 13, 2020
Washington …….??? Let’s hear it
— T.J. Ward (@BossWard43) July 13, 2020
I think it will be Redwolves!
— Phillip Daniels (@PhillipDaniels) July 13, 2020
Seahawks’ Quinton Dunbar changes lawyers after report of payoff
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar has changed legal counsel after new information came to light late last week about a possible payoff that took place at the office of attorney Michael Grieco.
Grieco and Michael Weinstein have withdrawn as Dunbar’s counsel, according to court records. Andrew Rier and Jonathan Jordan of Rier Jordan will now represent Dunbar as he faces four counts of armed robbery from a May 13 incident in Miramar, Florida.
“We agreed that new counsel would allow for continued advocacy of Mr. Dunbar’s innocence without any collateral distractions,” Grieco told ESPN in a text message Monday about his decision to step aside in the case.
Dunbar’s new attorneys filed Sunday for a Notice of Appearance and Notice of Participation in Discovery requesting all the necessary information from the state for this case.
The switch was made just days after evidence obtained by the New York Daily News from a search warrant indicated that the witness in the alleged robbery, Dominica Johnson, oversaw a payout to the victims at Grieco’s office. The warrant noted video footage and direct messages as evidence. All four alleged victims signed affidavits shortly after recanting their original stories.
The Miami Herald then reported over the weekend that, as of last month, Grieco was under criminal investigation.
Grieco responded to the Daily News’ report over the weekend.
“Law enforcement, both local and federal, was advised from day one and beyond that the alleged ‘victims’ in this case were actively extorting [DeAndre] Baker and Dunbar,” he told The Seattle Times. “These men fabricated a robbery story after waiting an hour to call police and then immediately began contacting the players demanding money.
“My office obtained accurate and truthful affidavits consistent with the independent witness and my client’s account. These ‘victims’ are seasoned career criminals who have been arrested and/or convicted of crimes ranging from conspiracy to commit murder, to human trafficking, to filing a false police report. Mr. Dunbar took and passed a polygraph confirming that he did not participate or witness any robbery.”
Baker, a cornerback for the New York Giants, also faces four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm from the incident. His attorney, Bradford Cohen, told ESPN over the weekend that no payment or offer of money was made from Baker.
NFL unveils Oakley Mouth Shield to combat coronavirus
In the name of health and safety, NFL players could be sporting a whole new look in 2020.
The Oakley Mouth Shield — a product designed by doctors and engineers from the NFL and NFL Players Association to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus on the field of play — is expected to be distributed to all 32 teams over the next week, when it will receive a test drive on a much larger scale than it has gotten to date.
Safety protocol negotiations are ongoing between the league and players. Currently, there is no mandate to wear a face shield, but the NFL’s medical experts are advocating for the use of the protective equipment.
“That’s certainly what we’re going to encourage,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. “And we hope that we’re going to land on a product design that’s something that everyone would want to wear, because they’ll see the value and want that additional protection without any detriment to performance.”
The Oakley Prizm Lens Technology used by skiers, military personnel and, most recently, NFL players for enhanced color and contrast in their visors, is featured in the new design. Plastic sheets extend down and attach to the faceguard. There are airways and openings on the mouth shield but none that allow the direct transmission of droplets, according to the chair of the NFL’s engineering committee, Dr. Jeff Crandall.
The mouth shield has already been distributed to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers — two teams close to Oakley’s home base — per NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer, and has also been sent to various player representatives and equipment managers for feedback.
The two biggest concerns to date have been visibility and breathe-ability, according to Mayer.
“We’ve only had it on a few players — we have 2,500 players in the league — but I was surprised that … claustrophobia has not been an issue yet,” he said. “I think it will be when we [have more players testing them].”
“My second year in the league I thought it’d be cool, I put a visor on my helmet,” Watt told ProFootballTalk. “I was like, ‘It looks so cool, I wanna put a visor on.’ I had it on for about three periods of practice and I said, ‘Take this sucker off — I’m gonna die out here.’ … So now you’re gonna put something around my mouth? You can keep that. If that comes into play, I don’t think you’re gonna see me on the field.”
The current design, however, is the result of an iterative process based in large part on player feedback, with comfort and functionality top of mind along with protection. Quarterbacks who tested them recently were able to effectively call out plays, Mayer said, following initial responses that the sound was too muffled. There was also broad consideration given to field of view.
Crandall said that Oakley has conducted internal testing in which it has sprayed particles of fluid to represent droplets expelled by players and has seen a high success rate of blocked transmission.
“I don’t know that there’s a direct percentage that anyone’s come up with because a laboratory is not the on-field environment, obviously,” Crandall said. “There’s lots of things that players do on the fields that they’re not easily replicating [in] the laboratory, but it is a significant blockage to transmission of droplets. There is no straight pathway through the face shield or visor for a droplet to be transmitted.”
While Oakley is the official supplier of the NFL, there are other manufacturers of face shields, and players may end up using other brands as well in 2020, according to chief revenue officer and executive vice president of NFL partnership Renie Anderson.
Mayer called football “probably the perfect milieu or petri dish in which to transmit the virus,” given that it is a contact sport involving a large number of players. The NFL and NFLPA are hoping the different safety measures they are taking, including the introduction of the Mouth Shield, will lead to a safer environment.
“Just like everything we do, whether we’re talking about better cleats or better performing helmets, it’s all about something that’s safer and yet also protects and in many cases enhances performance,” Sills said. “That’s the same mantra and the same sort of approach that we’re taking here. I’m really pleased with how the work is going along. We’re not at a finished product yet. Like most things in health safety, there’s really no finish line here. So we’re hoping to continue to innovate and improve as we go along. But we’re excited about where we are and excited about the potential role this may play in risk mitigation on the field.”
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