Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith will be calling the defensive plays going forward, a big change from last season when Leslie Frazier handled the duties, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Smith hasn't talked about the change, but he was clearly calling plays at practice, relaying said plays to linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson, who relayed them to the helmet communicator.
Frazier, the team's defensive coordinator, handled the play-calling duties last season and came under fire for the team's struggles on that side of the ball. Despite having a lot of young, talented players, the Buccaneers wound up with the 25th overall defense, finishing near the bottom in points allowed per game and most other statistics.
Smith, a defensive specialist, will obviously devote a lot more time to the defensive side of the ball this season. Meanwhile, his offensive staff will be working with Jameis Winston, the top pick of this year's draft. Smith has to feel he has the right people in place to give Winston the best chance of success, especially by putting his focus on the other side of the ball.
Peters to miss all of 2015
Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Corey Peters was carted off the field on Wednesday, and the team learned on Thursday that he sustained a torn left Achilles. This is a huge hit for Arizona, and for Peters, who tore his other Achilles at the end of the 2013 season.
He signed with the Cardinals this offseason and the plan was for him to be the starting nose tackle. He signed a three-year deal with the team, so this is definitely a big hut. Rookie fourth-round pick Rodney Gunter is expected to start in place of Peters in the middle of Arizona's line. They've now lost an important starter every season since 2011, counting Greg Toler, Levi Brown, Jonathan Cooper and Darnell Dockett among those who injured themselves prior to the beginning of the regular season in recent years.
Smith getting an MRI
Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Marcus Smith suffered a right hamstring strain during practice on Thursday. The extent of the injury is unknown at this point, as Smith is scheduled to get an MRI done on Friday. Still, at this stage, it seems like the injury isn't as serious as the recent Achilles and ACL tears every team fears in the preseason and training camp.
Smith was carted off the practice field with the injury. Philadelphia doesn't have a lot at the outside linebacker position outside of starters Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. Smith was one of the top backups, and behind him guys like Bryan Braman, Deontae Skinner and Dasman McCullum comprise the depth chart. Smith will definitely be missed if he has to miss any time.
Could Taylor win thejob Thursday?
On Thursday, the Buffalo Bills will take on the Cleveland Browns in preseason action (or something not entirely unlike "action") and quarterback Tyrod Taylor will get a chance to work with the starters to say his part in the ongoing quarterback battle. Taylor is taking on both E.J. Manuel and Matt Cassel, and while the three have had their moments in camp, Taylor may be the most-surprising performer of them.
That begs the question: if Taylor is excellent on Thursday, can he win the starting job? Albert Breer of the NFL Network seems to think so, saying after attending Bills camp that a "good performance" from Taylor on Thursday could win him the job. In the team's first preseason game, Taylor completed 5 of 8 passes for 49 yards, and also had six carries for 47 yards. Cassel looked good throwing as well, with 7 of 8 completions for 45 yards. Manuel completed 4 of 8 for 77 yards and a touchdown, with none of the three throwing an interception.
Bell says he's quicker
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell was ridiculously good last season, putting up a total of 2,215 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns, but he thinks he'll be even better this season. Bell said that he compared video from last season to how he's looking in training camp, and has concluded that he's a lot faster now than he was then, as noted by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
Bell said that he doesn't consider 2014 his "breakout" season, he said that he was just getting started, and that he's only getting better. Obviously, Bell is still young and improvement can be expected, but he went on to say that he felt like he was going in slow motion last season compared to where he is now. There's definitely some hyperbole in there, but woe to defenses around the NFL is there's any truth to his statements.
Bell will miss the first two games of the season due to a suspension.