"His loss is a crippling blow..."
-Brian Galliford, on the loss of Kiko Alonso for the 2014 season
The Buffalo Bills suffered a major loss on defense for the upcoming season when linebacker Kiko Alonso tore his ACL in a workout in Oregon. Alonso finished second in defensive rookie of the year voting in 2013 and was one of three linebackers to play every defensive snap in the NFL last season.
Alonso is the latest linebacker to be lost for 2014. In recent weeks, the Dallas Cowboys lost Sean Lee to an ACL injury for the season and the Atlanta Falcons learned that they will work without Sean Weatherspoon due to a torn Achilles.
"Let's call this one a longshot."
-Dave Halprin, on the Cowboys acquisition of troubled LB Rolando McClain
The Dallas Cowboys pulled off a minor surprise move on Tuesday with the news that they'd traded a sixth-round draft pick in 2015 for then-retired linebacker Rolando McClain and a seventh-round selection. McClain had announced his retirement earlier this offseason at the age of 24 after a stint with the Baltimore Ravens. However, the recent injury to Sean Lee made the Cowboys seek out some additional competition.
After several arrests and an inability to put together solid performances on the field after a successful collegiate career at Alabama, McClain will apparently get one more try at the professional level. Halprin discusses the longshot at Blogging the Boys:
Now you can see why the Cowboys got him so cheap. Despite his excellent college pedigree and his high draft pick status in 2010, he's essentially flamed out on the pro level, not only on the field, but off of it. The Cowboys will have pulled off a miracle if they can resurrect McClain's career.
"I'm coming for his job from day one."
The Tennessee Titans have to be pleased with what they hear from their sixth-round draft choice. Mettenberger is applying heat to the quarterback competition both on the field and now verbally, here in a recent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
"I think that's the approach any guy worth his salt has," Mettenberger said. "You're not only thinking about the short team, but you also have a long-term view of yourself as a player and a person. We don't play this game to ride the bench, you don't play this game to just get a paycheck; at least the good ones don't. You play this game because you love it, you love competing, and you wanna play. That's what I'm doing."
"I still got some gas in my motor."
Former NFL running back Felix Jones hopes to remain an active player in 2014 as he waits for a franchise to give him a shot heading into training camp. Speaking with Kieran Steckley of the Tulsa World, Jones says he still has what it takes and believes an invitation will come his way. He just has to be prepared.
"Every day just grind, it's a grind," Jones said. "Get out there and stay focused and stay on top of things and do the things you know how to do. (I have to) stay focused and ready."
Jones is still only 27 years old and holds a career 4.7 yards/carry average. Jones played in 16 games last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but started only 2 games. He had 48 carries for 184 yards and zero touchdowns.
"Did it hurt me? Hell, yeah"
-Ike Taylor, on taking a pay cut this offseason
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor opened up about the financial realities facing many aging veterans when speaking with Jim Rome on Tuesday. Taylor said being forced to take a pay cut was painful and he was hoping his loyalty to the organization, for whom he has played since 2003, would pay off:
"I'm (ticked) off about it, still am (ticked) off about it, and I'm going to be (ticked) off until the end of the season about it," said Taylor. "It's like you get to a point: 'Why me?' Like, I didn't show my loyalty? You want to talk about a guy who's going to come in in-shape, not waiting to build up into shape when he gets to camp.
"Or you want to talk about a guy who's unselfish and puts his team before his family and friends, you want to talk about a guy who has loyalty -- yeah, it's me. When you come to me and ask me for a pay cut, I'm like, 'Damn, out of all these people, you want to ask Ike?'"
Taylor started all 16 games at cornerback for the Steelers last season.
"If they want me to continue making plays, I'm pretty sure I can't do that if I'm on the sideline."
-New York Jets running back Chris Johnson on whether he will split carries this year
Johnson has never returned to the form that he showed in his 2,000-yard season with the Tennessee Titans in 2009, but in his first season in New York, he's still the Jets' top back. Johnson is coming off knee surgery and according to NFL.com, he said this spring that he would be okay splitting carries with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. Now, he seems less open to that idea:
"That's with any position on the field, if we have a receiver that's continuing to make play after play I'm pretty sure they're going to keep getting the ball," Johnson continued. "(Offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) is a smart guy, he knows how to put his players in the right position to make plays, so at the end of the day, if I continue to play like I've been playing, they're going to keep handing the ball off to me."
"Nothing against Cleveland but this is a winning culture."
-T.J. Ward on moving from the Browns to the Denver Broncos
Ward was one of the Browns' better defenders during his time in Cleveland, but as DenverBroncos.com notes, the Browns only had 18 wins during his four years there while Denver had 15 wins last year alone. While Ward has yet to play in a game for the Broncos, he says he can already tell the difference between the cultures in Cleveland and Denver.
"They're used to winning and you treat all things the same way, period: with a preparation to win," he said. "That's how the coaches treat you and that's how the players treat each other. You expect everybody to know their job, do their job and do it the right way."