Giant’s Jason Pierre-Paul has Finger Amputated After Fireworks Accident

Image from gcobb.com
Image from gcobb.com

Giant’s defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sustained a severe hand injury over the weekend due to a fireworks accident. Pierre-Paul reportedly had a U-Haul truck filled completely with fireworks to set off with some friends in celebration of Independence Day. While lighting one of the fireworks himself, something went terribly wrong, and Pierre-Paul burned himself. While there have been all kinds of reports as to the extent of the injury, it has become clear that there were indeed injuries to both hands. At first, there were reports that Pierre-Paul could lose an entire hand, and that this could be a career-threatening injury.

After being hospitalized, these reports appear to be false. Details are still rolling in, but it seems as though Pierre-Paul (or JPP as he is sometimes referred to as) did indeed injure both hands, suffering severe burns on the palm of one hand and the tips of three fingers on the other. One finger is being tested for nerve damage. Other reports suggested at the very least JPP would need a few fingers amputated, but these reports also look to be an overreaction, as doctors believed there will be no permanent damage.

Not only does this injury not seem to be career threatening, on July 5, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted that, “It may not be game or season threatening, either.” The Giant’s have some concern that the injuries could cause him to miss training camp and the beginning of the regular season, but everyone is still awaiting more medical answers.

There is another twist to this story, as Jason Pierre-Paul has yet to sign the $14.8 million franchise tender, and therefore is technically not under contract. The Giants and JPP have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract, but the Giants have said publicly that they would be okay allowing JPP to play out the 2015 season under the one-year tender and then letting him hit free agency next year.

In the days following the accident, Giants team officials went down to South Florida, where Pierre-Paul lives, looking to see him and diagnose the injuries to his hands themselves. However, with JPP not currently under contract, he doesn’t have to let them see him, and he has avoided them since the accident. The Giants have yet to see Pierre-Paul’s hands, and the public has yet to be made aware of the extent of the injury as of Tuesday. JPP may end up as a free agent, not playing a snap for the Giants this year.

On Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out a medical report that revealed JPP indeed had his right index finger amputated. It has been reported that Pierre-Paul should be able to play, “sooner than you think.” JPP reportedly chose to have the finger amputated because it would allow him to come back sooner.

JPP is certainly an important part of the Giants defense. Considered the team’s top pass rusher, the two-time Pro Bowler led the Giants in sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits. The former first round-pick also recorded 76 tackles (third on the team), which was second only to J.J. Watt among defensive lineman in 2014.

If Pierre-Paul were to miss any time, let alone extensive time, it will certainly hurt a Giants team that has high expectations. Odell Beckham Jr. emerged as a star last year, they will get Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings back from injury, they’ve improved the offensive line, and Eli Manning is a 2-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback. Despite recent struggles, it isn’t inconceivable to think of the Giants as playoff contenders in 2015, but missing a top tier pass rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul could really put a damper on those playoff hopes. It certainly leads one to wonder about the six-week dead period the NFL has between OTAs and the start of training camp, and they will likely think about shortening the time period where the players go unsupervised, or perhaps, allowing more contact in order to supervise them during the six week offseason.

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Patriots Training Camp Battles: Travaris Cadet Vs. James White For Third Down Running Back

Images from Apkfun.co and Real Saints Nation
Images from Apkfun.co and Real Saints Nation

Over the past fifteen seasons in New England, Patriots fans have gone into each season knowing that their team has a reliable pass-catching running back on the roster. Whether it was Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, or Shane Vereen,Tom Brady has always had the luxury of having a solid running back that he can dump the ball off to. Heading into the 2015 season, Tom Brady and the Patriots do not have the same luxury with Shane Vereen signing with the New York Giants this past offseason.

There is a multitude of running backs on the roster that seem to have the ability to take over the role, but they are all for the most part unproven. Two players that will be competing for the role are veteran free agent Travaris Cadet, and second-year back James White. 

Travaris Cadet has spent his first three seasons in the league with the New Orleans Saints, catching passes from Drew Brees. Cadet was basically irrelevant in his first two seasons, catching only seven passes, for 49 yards, and one touchdown. In year three Cadet took a miniature jump onto the NFL scene finishing with 38 receptions, for 296 yards, and one touchdown. 

Much like Shane Vereen, Travaris Cadet spends a lot of his time playing in the slot. At 6-1, 210 pounds Cadet is built like a running back-slot receiver hybrid. Also, with his size and physicality Cadet is able to pass protect for the quarterback, which is huge when playing for Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick. Cadet just doesn’t seem to have that burst potential. His spot on the roster is fairly safe, barring injury, and his ability to digest the playbook will determine whether or not he will earn a starting job.  

James White was one of the more interesting players in training camp last season. Throughout July and August, White received first team reps and performed well during practice. However, when the bright lights came on he couldn’t deliver. 

White was mediocre at best in preseason games. He never flashed in the passing game like he was labeled, and in the run game there was not much physicality or burst. His lack of production in the summer lead to his limited game action during the regular season. 

Going into training camp this year, White needs to show that he can really be a playmaker like Shane Vereen was at times during his tenure. He needs to play in the slot and also pass block, two essentials for a running back in the Patriots offense as fans have learned over the past couple of seasons. 

In the end, James White will most likely come out on top in this training camp battle, given his familiarity with the Patriots system. Nevertheless, in time Travaris Cadet will become more acclimated to the offense and take over the position. 

In addition, a change will be necessary due to that fact that at 5-10, 194 pounds James White will easily get exposed pass blocking and will get knocked down easily when running the ball. Cadet is better equipped physically to take over the job. The only way James White remains a starter is if he really flashes and becomes an essential piece to the offense. It is tough to imagine that happening in 2015.

Can the Kings of the AFC East be dethroned?

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Looking over the eight divisions in the NFL, the AFC East division has had a great deal of success over the past 15 years. Don’t remind any Bills, Jets and Dolphins fans about this though, for all twelve division titles, six Conference Championships and four Super Bowls won over this time belong to just one team – the New England Patriots.

But the reigning Super Bowl champs have had an offseason that has casted some reasonable doubt for fans ahead of the upcoming season. With the anchor to their defense and their two starting cornerbacks gone and an impending ruling yet to be handed down by the Ginger Hammer (#exonerateBrady), the rest of the AFC East has made moves to improve their teams with some key acquisitions. Is that enough to sink the tight ship run by Bill Belichick and Co.? Let’s take a look at how the three other teams stack up against the Kings of the AFC East:

Jets – Aside from the big (*cough* robbery *cough*) free agency signing of Darrelle Revis, the Jets also brought back Antonio Cromartie to the secondary to beef up an already tough and talented defense who will have Sheldon Richardson back by the time they face the Patriots in their Week 7 showdown. To complement the defense, the Jets improved their receiving corps by acquiring Brandon Marshall in free agency and drafting Devin Smith in this year’s draft. The bad news? The Jets may be in a better position to expose a weaker Patriots secondary by forcing them to put more cornerbacks on the field against a stronger set of wide receivers. The good news? The Jets don’t have Rex Ryan. Or a QB that can lead them to a division title. And while the Jets will have Sheldon Richardson back, the Patriots will have Tom Brady ready to go too, so I’ll be placing my bets on the Brady Bunch.

Dolphins – Ndamukong Suh decided to bring his talents to South Beach and that is huge for a franchise whose fans have been left with a sour taste in their mouths from watching teams full of hope and promise disintegrate the past two seasons. Having Suh join Earl Mitchell in the interior while Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon rush the edges will be the cause of many headaches for offensive coordinators in the division and across the league. The Dolphins also did a pretty good job of getting quarterback Ryan Tannehill (a massive contract and) some new weapons by signing Greg Jennings and drafting DeVante Parker with the 14th pick of the draft to join a balanced run game for the offense. But are these improvements enough to overcome the major holes this team has at guard, linebacker and at the cornerback position? Or will Dolphins fans face another tumultuous season that will end in more heartbreak for their fans? Too soon to tell. One thing that is certain – Bill Belichick’s bread and butter is taking away what every team does best and making them beat his team without their strengths. If the offensive line for the Dolphins struggle to create openings for their running backs and keep Ryan Tannehill upright, their secondary won’t be able to save them from the Patriots’ elusive passing attack.

Bills – No other team in this division (or in the league for that matter) had quite the offseason the Bills had. No other team in this division will have the pleasure of potentially facing a Brady-less Patriots offense (*knocks on wood*) this season and that is quite the advantage to have on your side, especially with an elite defense led by Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. These three ended the season with double-digit sacks on a team that racked up 54 sacks in 2014. It only gets better for this team because guess who’s at the helm for this Bills this year? Rex Ryan, defensive mastermind. But, said defensive mastermind is no offensive mastermind, and he’s going from one quarterback debacle with Geno Smith and the Jets to another with E.J. Manuel and the Bills. His other options at quarterback (Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel) don’t seem to represent the long term answer to lead a good running combo in Fred Jackson and LeSean McCoy and a good wide receiving corps that includes Sammy Watkins, who is coming off a stellar rookie season. It’ll be quite the chess match when these two teams meet up in Week 2 and in primetime on Week 11. Rex will focus on disguising his defense with intricate blitzing schemes to faze the Patriots quarterback while Bill will squash the running game and force the Bills quarterback to beat the defense with his arm. There is no doubt that the Bills have the biggest chance to dethrone the Patriots for the AFC East throne, but their biggest hole is at the most important position on the team. With that said, I will give Bill Belichick and Co. the benefit of the doubt and another division title for the 2015-16 NFL season.

Seattle Seahawks: Wilson’s Contract at a Stalemate?

Image from: nflbreakdown.com
Image from: nflbreakdown.com

With the ball on the one-yard line, less than a minute remaining on the clock, and a four-point deficit, Russell Wilson dropped back to throw a Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass. Rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass and the Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XLVIX. Russell Wilson was that one pass away from winning his second Super Bowl, in just his third year as a starter. Now, entering the final year of his rookie contract, both the Seahawks and Wilson want Russell to sign an extension. However, the two camps are on different sides on what the money should look like. It was reported recently that Wilson is looking to become the highest paid player in the NFL.

Russell Wilson was a part of a recent wave of young talent into the NFL at the quarterback position, a group that includes Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick. Tannehill, Dalton, Newton, and Kaepernick have recently signed lucrative extensions. Newton and Kaepernick’s contracts are each worth over $100 million (though Kaepernick’s is incentive laden), Dalton’s is worth $96 million, and Tannehill’s is worth $77 million. The four-year deal Wilson received as a rookie is worth under $3 million. Currently, Aaron Rodgers is the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, with an average yearly salary of $22 million. That’s the number Wilson and his agent are using to negotiate.

The Seahawks have gotten off easy with Wilson the past three years. They essentially had a free quarterback, able to funnel a lot more money into their defense and easily stay within the salary cap requirements. Pete Carroll’s NFL head coaching resume before Russell Wilson was: fired, fired, 7-9, 7-9. Then in his third year with Seattle, he names rookie Russell Wilson his starting quarterback. All of a sudden he wins a playoff game, wins the Super Bowl the next year and comes one play away from repeating last year. Is Russell Wilson the best player in the National Football League? No. Is he the best quarterback in the National Football League? No. But right now, that’s irrelevant.

In today’s NFL, finding an elite quarterback that can win a Super Bowl is becoming harder and harder. Wilson, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger have won 13 of the last 14 Super Bowls. It’s possible to win games with average quarterback play, but it is impossible to win a Super Bowl without an elite quarterback in today’s NFL. It’s not that quarterbacks have gotten worse, they’ve actually gotten much better, but the responsibility of playing quarterback has gotten much more difficult. With the introduction of the no-huddle offense, quarterbacks not only have more responsibility at the line of scrimmage, they also have an extra 20-30 plays a game with the ball in their hands. The debate over Russell Wilson’s contract isn’t a debate over how he ranks in comparison to other quarterbacks in the league; it’s a debate over how valuable he is to the Seahawks. There’s a reason average quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Ryan Tannehill just got big contracts. Even at the level they’re at ability-wise, they’re extremely hard to replace. When all these things are considered, the Seahawks have no choice but to pay him.

This contract doesn’t have to get done immediately. Wilson is still under contract for the upcoming year, and he has no intention of holding out. Next year, if Wilson remains unsigned, the Seahawks will have the ability to franchise him, and Wilson has said he would be willing to play under the franchise tag. This would either mean him playing for one year, or the two sides hashing out a long-term deal. Either way, it doesn’t seem likely that Wilson will hit the open market. The only plausible questions that remain are when he signs, how long he signs for, and how much he signs for.

By: Rory MacCallum

New England Patriots: Changing Places, Welcoming New Faces

The defending Super Bowl champs will have a lot of different faces on both sides of the ball to start the 2015 season.

On the defensive side of the ball the team will look to replace akeem113longtime Patriot Vince Wilfork, linebackers Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas who were good depth and situational players for the team last season, as well as cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis who went back to the division rival New York Jets. The losses of Browner and Revis will hurt the Patriots the most. Last year New England played primarily a man coverage defense, this year it looks like the team will be focusing on more of a zone defense and pressuring the quarterback through their front seven.

The Patriots defense will look to rely on 1st round pick defensive tackle Malcolm Brown to replace Wilfork, cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler to take on larger roles this season as well as free agent signee Jabaal Sheard to add to New England’s pass rush and pressure the quarterback for the new look defense.

Offensively the Patriots will look similar to last year, only losing running back Shane Vereen to the New York Giants in free agency.

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01:  Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 01: Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Also guard Dan Connolly is currently a free agent and according to some reports is considering retiring from football after winning the Super Bowl. The Patriots will also be without running back LaGarrette Blount for the first week of the season for a violation of the leagues substance abuse policy last year as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who New England plays week one. New England may also be without quarterback Tom Brady who is currently appealing his 4-game suspension handed down to him by the league for the “DeflateGate” scandal and there is no timetable for the league to make their decision regarding Brady’s appeal.

The offense could look a lot different than it has the past 15 years if Brady ends up losing his appeal and accepting his suspension (which I do not think will happen). 2nd year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would likely be the starter for the duration of Brady’s suspension and though no one knows how the offense would operate with Garoppolo under center, it is almost guaranteed to take a step back to when Brady is under center. With Blount out for week 1 and running backs Shane Vereen and Steven Ridley gone the offense could look very different than it did back in February when the Patriots were playing for the Super Bowl.

Premature Evaluation: A way Too Early Look at the NFL Power Rankings, Part 1 AFC

Image via NFL
Image via NFL

With the league offices on Park Avenue literally turning into the Big Apple Circus, I figured why not have fun at the expense of the thirty two franchises whom keep this “non-profit” organization going.  This is considered “down-time” for the NFL, when coaches and staff take a month or so off, to unwind before going full tilt into training camp.   Bill is most likely parading around Nantucket on his newly renamed boat.  Mr. Kraft is off in the mother land being an evangelist for Israeli football.  The Forehead is figuring out if Denver really did want to trade him to Houston for God only knows how many draft picks.  With the Brady appeal decision looming, we take a look at the league as a whole and why this year is the year YOUR franchise wins the Lombardi Trophy.

AFC East

BUFFALO BILLS:

Season tickets are at an all-time high.

Rex gives Brady more trouble than anyone.

Shady McCoy is going to run for 2,000 yards.

Translation:

Buffalo is still a cesspool and almost had Bon Jovi as their owner.

Agreed, but his record is still under five hundred.

Until he has a hamstring pull and starts calling Rex a racist as well.

MIAMI DOLPHINS:

Suh!

We own Brady in Miami and the AFC is weak.

Our coach is coaching for his job, he has a lot to prove.

Translation:

O/U on the amount of games before Suh gets suspended is 3.5.  I’ll take the under.

As soon as the weather drops below South Beach, the Dolphins turn into guppies.

The doppelganger from the father in Step Brothers is a pud.  Plain and simple.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:

They are the defending world champions.

We have Brady and Belichick.

Our schedule is much easier than last year, the AFC goes through Foxboro.

Translation:

True, but nobody has won back to back titles since…..

God, I love them both.  I’d take a bullet for them.

Patriots always seem to have that “WTF” game somewhere early/mid-season.

NEW YORK JETS:

Brandon Marshall and Decker will be unstoppable.

Our defense is the best in the league!

Todd Bowles is a no nonsense coach.

Translation:

Whom is going to throw them the ball?

Cromartie is a shell of himself, but their front seven is solid.

He also has a permanent grin on.  He reminds me of the Joker.  Actually from this day on he will be referred to as the Joker.

AFC North

PITTSBURGH STEELERS:

Dick Lebeau needed to go, time for new blood on defense.

Big Ben had one of his best years as a pro last season, the Steelers were very close.

Winning in Pittsburgh is tough in the cold weather.

Translation:

Pittsburgh hasn’t been stout on defense in years, especially against the pass.  This is a building process for them.

Can the Pittsburgh offense stay out of the tub and off the drugs long enough to sustain success?

You lost to Tampa Bay at home last season, enough said.

CINCINNATI BENGALS:

Andy Dalton is going to take the next step this year.

Geno Atkins leading that front seven is scary.

The Jungle is becoming a very tough place for opposing teams to play.

Translation:

Andy Dalton is going to take another step in which direction?

Geno Atkins wasn’t the same player after he got hurt.  Case closed.

Marvin Lewis continues to hold a franchise back with more talent on both sides of the ball than most other teams.

BALTIMORE RAVENS:

Flacco is a proven winner.

Our defense is solid and will continue to win us big games.

Harbaugh is one of the best in the business.  He can coach up holes in all three phases of the game.

Translation:

Flacco threw two gifts to the Patriots in the biggest game of the year.

Your defense blew two fourteen point leads in the playoffs.

Harbaugh is a cry baby like his twin and folded when BB put the heat on him.

CLEVELAND BROWNS:

Josh McCown is legit and will win us more games than lose them.

Our secondary is one of the best in the business.  Haden is the GOAT.

It’s been fifty-one years!  Our time is now.

Translation:

McCown has Matt Flynn syndrome.  The Denim King went down with a concussion and he played decent against second tier defense.

Haden is good against mediocre receivers.  Look at his numbers against the elite.

Exactly, it has fifty-one years.  If Lebron couldn’t get it done.  Josh McCown isn’t going to be either.

AFC South

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS:

We got Frank Gore to carry the rock and Andre Johnson as another target for The Neck Beard.

Our division is so weak, we’ve all but guaranteed a home playoff game.

Luck is going to take that next step into elite status, and should win the AFC.

Translation:

You are still soft and I have no words to describe what is going to happen to you week six when New England comes to town.

Raise a banner for that one too.

Ask Luck and the drug addict owner their record against BB and TB12 led teams.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS:

Bortles got some much needed experience last year and our line is much improved.

Julius Thomas is going to be a monster in the red zone.

Our team is resilient and going to surprise a lot of people next year.

Translation:

Bortles did improve, but whom is going to carry the rock?  MJD isn’t coming through that door.

Who are the other playmakers on that offense? And Julius Thomas is soft as well.

Your coach was surprised when you didn’t turn the ball over.  Plain and simple.

TENNESSEE TITANS:

The Silent Hawaiian is going no-huddle straight out of the gate.

Sankey will surprise people this year and go for over 1,500 yards.

Our secondary is one of the best in the league, we’re going to be tough to throw against.

Translation:

How many college quarterbacks who don’t run a pro-style offense do anything in year one?

Sankey looks like Tyrion Lannister in football pads.

Luckily you’re playing against the AFC East this year.  Outside of TB12, you have paper bags throwing against you.

HOUSTON TEXANS:

Foster is going to reestablish his dominance in the running game.

JJ Watt is an “All-World” talent.  Who is going to stop him?

We have two Brady understudies fighting for the QB job.  They are both Pro Bowl talents.

Translation:

You can keep Arian Foster and his rubber band hamstrings.

JJ Watt IS an all-world player.  But he is only one of 22.

Matt Cassel, Kevin O’Connell, Michael Bishop, etc. etc.

AFC West

DENVER BRONCOS:

Manning is the best to play the game, he is due for his second Lombardi.

Our front seven is going to be dominant.  Miller and Ware paired with our rookie class will be giving nightmares to defensive coordinators.

Our offense is going to be more balanced this year, and not depend on 18 to win every game.

Translation:

As of today, whom is his number one receiver? Soft Thomas went to Jacksonville and Hard Thomas doesn’t want to take part in OTA’s.

Miller feasts on bad quarterbacks and disappears against physical offensive linemen.  Watch the tape.

CJ Anderson and Monte Ball are NOT the saviors in the Mile High City.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:

Alex Smith is as good a game manager as there is in this league.

Jamal Charles may run for 2,000 yards this year with a healthy offensive line.

Houston, Hali and Poe are the second coming of the Steel Curtain.

Translation:

Alex Smith also forgot how to throw touchdowns to his wide receivers.

There is a lot of tread on Jamal’s tires.  Not to mention he is creeping up on the wrong side of 30.

The secondary is the question mark here.  Here is hoping Eric Berry gets healthy.  In all seriousness, prayers to him.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS:

This is a contract year for Rivers, he is going to be playing like a man possessed.

San Diego is one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play, especially east coast teams.

Antonio Gates came into OTA’s leaner and quicker than he is looked in years.

Translation:

This could also be a contract year for the Chargers in general.

Tell that to New England whom came in on short rest last season.

Any tight end with a bad foot, spells bad news for everyone involved.

OAKLAND RAIDERS:

Derek Carr showed promise in year one, he could surprise some people this year.

Latavius Murray is a beast pounding the rock.  He may go for 2,000 yards this year.

Khalil Mack may win defensive player of the year.

Translation:

He may, but his offensive line may get him killed before Halloween.

Murray was a flash in the pan last season and won’t break 1,000 yards this year.  I’ll throw some money on that as well.

Sadly Khalil is only one of twenty two out there, and you are still the Raiders.

As I said before, this is the most boring of times for any NFL fan.  Many of us are waiting with baited breath on the fate of Thomas Edward Brady.   The fans of the other thirty one franchises are anticipating big things from their team this year, and feel they are only a piece or two away from surprising people.  In reality, the NFL is a tricky place and things happen that can change the entire competitive landscape in the blink of an eye.   Personally, my sites are set on opening weekend when the Steelers come to town.  We’ll see if the loss of the entire cornerback platoon has any effect on the BB run defense.  Oh, and there is also that slight detail if the greatest quarterback to ever play the game will be suiting up for it as well.   We are just about a month out from training camps folks, hang tight.

By: Mike Procopio

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