PITTSBURGH — Mike Tomlin’s affinity for using signature catchphrases is coming in handy these days.
In addition to leading his players on the field and in the classroom as training camp opens this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach is also talking to his young players about the impact of their actions off the field during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You message it thoughtfully,” Tomlin said in his first availability with media of camp. “You use catchphrases, and you guys know I like catchphrases. What you’re talking about is conduct detrimental. That’s a term that’s used often in our business and appropriately so. Because in this COVID environment, if you’re not exercising discretion and being thoughtful about how you move, that conduct is detrimental — to your cause, and to ours collectively. … It’s one fail, all fail in this environment. We’re going to continue to package the messaging that way and be very transparent. It is that. It is conduct detrimental to their efforts and ours.”
• Chargers make bold statement with Bosa
• Broncos contend ‘you need two good backs’
• Dining app, Clorox packs for Lions’ work
• Do Packers have enough elite players?
• Contract deal re-energizing Mike Zimmer
Rookies arrived in Pittsburgh last week, while the rest of the team began showing up for COVID-19 testing earlier this week. Though more than a dozen players around the league have announced their intentions to voluntarily opt out of the season, Tomlin said he hasn’t spent much time anticipating potential opt-outs on his team.
“Those are very individual decisions and we are respectful of those,” he said. “We will just deal with them if and when they arise.”
In conversations with his players, Tomlin and his staff stressed the importance of making smart decisions away from the team — a message he frequently imparts to his players by telling them “Don’t be ‘The guy.’”
“It’s not tough at all,” rookie receiver Chase Claypool said Thursday. “I think it’s pretty straightforward. They lay out the guidelines pretty clearly. All you have to do is follow them. It’s almost tough not to follow them.”
Tomlin’s message also wasn’t a hard one for rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith to grasp.
“For me, just off the field, I am not really someone that goes out,” the 2020 third-round pick said Tuesday. “I am a social guy, but I am not someone who is going to put myself in a bad position that would ruin my opportunity that I have right now. I have never been a guy who goes out to the bars and stuff like that. … I am not going to jeopardize this opportunity by going and putting myself and others at risk.”
Players who contract coronavirus through “high-risk” activities could face team discipline and loss of a paycheck, according to a new protocol from the NFL, outlined in a memo sent by the NFLPA to agents over the weekend, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.
The memo states: “Clubs/NFL can challenge designation as a football related injury if it can prove that the player contracted COVID-19 through engaging in high risk conduct below. (This issue remains open.)”
If the team wins the challenge, it could then put the player on the non-football injury list, giving them the option of not paying him.
According to the memo, the NFL defines high-risk conduct as attending:
an indoor nightclub with more than 15 people
an indoor bar with more than 15 people, other than to pick up food
an indoor house party with more than 15 people
an indoor music concert/entertainment event with more than 15 people
a professional sporting event, other than applicable NFL games or events, with more than 15 people
an indoor religious service attended by more than 25% of a venue’s capacity
“We’ve got to conduct ourselves accordingly,” Tomlin said. “There’s been a lot of work to position ourselves to be where we are right now.”
Raiders’ Jon Gruden calls backup QB Marcus Mariota ‘dazzling playmaker’
HENDERSON, Nev. — While Derek Carr is firmly entrenched as the Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback, the guy signed to be his backup, Marcus Mariota, impressed coach Jon Gruden on Friday, the third practice of training camp in which players wore helmets.
“He’s interesting,” Gruden said with a smile of Mariota. “He took off a couple times today and it really fired me up. He’s been hurt, but looks like the ankle really turned a corner. He’s a dazzling playmaker with his feet and that’s the key to his game.
“I saw glimpses of that today. It’s exciting. Started off slow on 7-on-7 [drills], but [he] picked it up, had a nice day. Had a real nice day.”
Indeed, Mariota, who lost his starting job with the Tennessee Titans to Ryan Tannehill last season, struggled early in practice, missing tight end Jason Witten badly on an intermediate pass to the right sideline. And he throws a different ball than Carr.
But it is Mariota’s scrambling ability and willingness to extend plays with his legs that makes him a good fit for Gruden’s offense. Even as Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, has said since signing as a free agent with Las Vegas in March that the Raiders were Carr’s team.
In fact, both Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft by the Titans, and Carr, a second-round pick of the Raiders in 2014, suffered season-ending broken legs on the same day in Week 16 of the 2016 season.
“It’s like weird, crazy things that link you together,” Carr said earlier in camp.
“I’ll tell you one thing, in our quarterback group you have to compete and that’s what I do. Anyone that’s around me, all I’m going to do is compete. I’ve had multiple starters in the NFL come in here and be in the same room as me. You can go through the list about who’s started games and who’s been in our quarterback room. It happens all the time, but when you go 7-9, people like to make up stuff.”
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Mariota would push Carr, a three-time Pro Bowler and the franchise’s all-time leading passer who is coming off career highs in passing yardage (4,054), completion percentage (70.4%) and Total QBR (62.2) but is just 39-55 as a starter, with one winning season in six years.
And as Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN.com, “The best quarterbacks are the ones that have the wins; stats will follow.”
Mariota is 29-32 as a starter.
“Competition brings out the best in any player in any sport,” Olson said.
“I would say it’s the best competition that we’ve had since we’ve been here.”
Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett ‘had lot of hesitation’ about playing before deciding not to opt out
Lockett’s concern stemmed from a preexisting heart abnormality as well as the fact that much of his family has asthma. Before the Seahawks drafted Lockett in the third round in 2015, medical checks at the scouting combine revealed that his aorta is on his right side. At the time, Lockett was briefly unsure if he would be able to continue playing football.
“So just with everything that happened in COVID, that was one of my biggest issues was just trying to make sure [this heart condition] wasn’t gonna affect me if I was able to go out there and play,” Lockett said Friday on a video conference with reporters. “Obviously, nobody really knows. You’ve got doctors who kind of give you what you need to know up front, what they think and what their biggest opinion is of it, but I think I had my chance to opt out, and I said that if I come up here, I’m gonna just play.
“I know that we’ve got Pete [Carroll], we’ve got a lot of older coaches. They don’t want to put themselves in a situation to get sick neither, so I told myself if they could do it then I know I could do it. And if I’m going to come out here and play, then I’m just going to do what needs to be done. I’m not going to stress about COVID. I did that from February to before we came into camp.”
The 27-year-old Lockett has led the Seahawks in receiving in each of the past two seasons.
His family experienced a scare earlier this year when a cousin contracted COVID-19. The woman had previously lived with Lockett in Seattle.
“It was bad,” he said. “I would get messages from her mom and she would send me like a long paragraph and stuff because my cousin never told me. She was just telling me how she was having a hard time breathing, she really didn’t feel good, and when I ended up talking to my cousin after she ended up overcoming it, she had told me that there was one day where her body was just aching so much she had told a woman … basically like she really didn’t think she was going to make it. She was like, she didn’t think her body was going to be able to deal with what she really felt another day.”
Lockett said the cousin has asthma, as does much of his father’s side of his family.
“That’s why it made me question if I wanted to come play,” he said. “I have a lot of stuff in my family to where I don’t want to put anybody in jeopardy.”
The Seahawks had one player, guard Chance Warmack, opt out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns. As of Friday, they had placed only one player on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and that was due to a false positive test to wide receiver John Ursua, who has since been activated and is taking part in practice.
Colts’ Jacoby Brissett says he knows he’ll start at QB again somewhere
INDIANAPOLIS — Jacoby Brissett might never start another game at quarterback for the Colts. But in his mind, he believes he’ll be a starter again in the NFL at some point down the road after he failed to hold on to the job in Indianapolis in 2019.
Brissett said he was surprised when coach Frank Reich gave him the news last winter that they were replacing him with veteran Philip Rivers as the starter. Reich acknowledged that Brissett, like any other player would be, was upset by the demotion.
“I still believe in myself,” Brissett said Friday in his first public comments since Rivers’ arrival. “I know I’m a starter in this league. I know I can play at a high level. I did it last year.”
Brissett became the starter when Andrew Luck announced his retirement two weeks before the regular season last year. The Colts gave Brissett a two-year contract, allowing him the opportunity to prove he could be the next franchise quarterback.
Brissett, however, didn’t consistently play at a level needed to lead a team to the playoffs last year. He started strong in leading the Colts to a 5-2 record, including victories over playoff teams Houston, Tennessee and Kansas City. But Brissett, who suffered a knee injury at Pittsburgh in early November, faltered down the stretch as the Colts lost seven of their final nine games to miss the playoffs.
He finished 29th in the NFL with 196.1 yards per game and was hesitant to take shots down the field.
General manager Chris Ballard gave an indication a change was going to occur when he said the jury was still out on Brissett at the end of last season. Rivers is a 38-year-old veteran who has passed for 59,271 yards and 397 touchdowns in his 16-year career. Brissett said he still plans to compete even though Rivers is now the starter.
“I really can’t say enough positive [things] about how he has been with this change, I guess — I don’t know another word for it, with me being here and also how he has just been,” Rivers said. “He’s an impressive guy to be around. The way he works at it and then how helpful he’s been with little things, ‘Here’s how we signal this. Here’s how I usually set that. Here is how I set that.’ Then the few things that I’m like, ‘Gosh, can we do this? Can we do that?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ll learn it. Whatever you are most comfortable with.’ So he has been super helpful, gracious.”
Brissett still has significant value to the Colts. Reich has said they plan to have special packages for Brissett to get him onto the field this season. And Brissett has to be ready to step in and start at any moment, especially with the uncertainty when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
Brissett, like Rivers, will be a free agent at the end of this season. “I know I’ll be a starter in this league one day again,” Brissett said. “Wherever that may be.”
Truth behind Arsenal interest in £40m transfer for 'phenomenal' teenage talent revealed
Gerrit Cole posts 20th straight regular-season win as Yankees beat Red Sox
F1 2020, Spanish Grand Prix, live, qualifying: Daniel Ricciardo, start time, Lewis Hamilton, weather updates, stream access
Nationals bring up prospect Luis Garcia, place Starlin Castro on IL
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt says team did nothing ‘egregious’ to cause outbreak
Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg leaves start vs. Orioles after 16 pitches
A-League 2020, football news: Robbie Fowler claims Brisbane Roar wrongful dismissal
Bayer Leverkusen chief opens exit door for Chelsea transfer target Kai Havertz
Cards coach Willie McGee opts out of season; St. Louis gets 6 doubleheaders
Arsenal plot two transfers including Thomas Partey after Willian as £30m sale green lit
NFL3 days ago
Phillip Lindsay still sees big-play potential after Broncos add Melvin Gordon
NFL3 days ago
Pick-six: Ravens face challenge of keeping half-dozen Pro Bowl players – Baltimore Ravens Blog
NFL1 day ago
49ers facing tough economic reality even after George Kittle signing – San Francisco 49ers Blog
NFL2 days ago
Dolphins adding jersey patch to honor legendary coach Don Shula
NFL2 days ago
‘Good fortune’ and ‘luck’: Cardinals start camp as 1 of 5 teams without player on COVID-19 list – Arizona Cardinals Blog
Cricket3 days ago
UAE board gets official nod from BCCI to host IPL 2020
NFL2 days ago
Browns’ Nick Chubb is primed for rushing title in 2020 campaign – Cleveland Browns Blog
MLB3 days ago
Which new MLB rules do we love and which should never be seen again?