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Lions Ndamukong Suh suspended for Wild Card game

Monday, December 29, 2014, 5:53pm

ESPN - [Full Article]

The Detroit Lions and Ndamukong Suh have been informed that the defensive tackle will be suspended for Sunday's wild-card playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Suh's punishment comes a day after he stepped on the leg of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Suh "unnecessarily stepped on [the] opponent's unprotected leg as he lay on the ground unable to protect himself," according to a statement released by the NFL.

Lions center Dominic Raiola, who himself returned from a one-game suspension Monday, defended Suh's actions.

"He was getting pushed back, you know," Raiola said. "... There's no way at that point in the game that he did something like that on purpose."

Lions safety James Ihedigbo said missing Suh will create a large void on defense.

"I don't know if you can put it into words," Ihedigbo said. "He's a dominant force in our defense. He's kind of the key centerpiece. We have faith in guys that can step up and fill that void and do the best job they can to get this win and help us out.

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Cordarrelle Patterson to 'take full advantage' of offseason

Monday, December 29, 2014, 1:28pm

Star-Tribune - [Full Article]

Cordarrelle Patterson repeatedly said today that he plans to take “full advantage of the offseason,” although he couldn’t provide a clear explanation of what exactly that entails.

Big things were expected of the second-year wide receiver in 2014, but he disappointed in the first half of the season, lost his starting spot in the second and finished with just 33 catches for 384 yards and one touchdown. Now Patterson must prove himself all over again in 2015.

“It wasn’t the year I wanted, like I had last year,” Patterson said. “I feel like last year was a good year for me and I felt like I was going to come back and capitalize off that. Week 1, you know, things was good. But after that, it just started going downhill. I blame myself for everything. I need to just take full advantage of the offseason and get better.”

What exactly will you do to take “full advantage” of the offseason?

“Just resting at first, getting the body healthy. Spending time with the family. And just take full advantage of the offseason, just training and get the offense down pat,” he said. “Just learn it, try to take on the playbook and all the stuff we worked on throughout the year and just try to learn from that, man. Like I said, this isn’t the year I thought it was going to be. It was a bad year for me. So this offseason, it’s going to be a challenge for me to make sure I come back ready to go next year.”

Fantasy Impact:

As the story points out, it’s obvious that Patterson knows — or has been told — that his offseason preparation needs to change for him to ever live up to expectations. The story went on to say that Zimmer has a plan for Patterson and "it's up to Cordarrell." However, based on Patterson's comments, Patterson may not be aware of the plans yet. Patterson was a fantasy bust this year and probably scarred a lot of owners for life. He will fall in drafts next year, but certainly still has potential. This will be a key offseason for him.

Kirk Cousins wants out if RGIII named Washington's starter

Monday, December 29, 2014, 12:53pm - [Full Article]

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins wants a shot at the starting job.

The third-year quarterback said Monday that if Robert Griffin III is named the starter during the offseason he'll ask for a trade, per NBC Washington's Diana Russini.

"Isn't it obvious I couldn't stay here?" Cousins told Russini.

Cousins started five games this season after RGIII was injured before being replaced by Colt McCoy. In his six appearances this year, Cousins completed 61.8 percent of his 204 passing attempts for 1,710 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He lost four straight starts before being replaced at halftime of Week 7.

Fantasy Impact:

Cousins explained that if there is no quarterback competition, there is no point to staying in Washington, the story went on to say. The signal caller added that he would approach the season as 16 games until free agency if RGIII is made the starter. There are plenty of teams who could be looking for help at the QB position for 2015: Buffalo, NY Jets, Houston, Tennessee, Chicago and Tampa Bay are among them.

Monday, December 29, 2014, 12:47pm - [Full Article]

Traded to the Eagles last offseason by the New Orleans Saints, Darren Sproles was supposed to create a dynamic backfield with Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy. Together, the two were supposed to be a nightmare for opposing defenses.

A vision that never came to fruition.

"I feel we could have done more," Sproles said of playing with McCoy, "but I don't know."

"Have us on the field the same time more," Sproles said of what he would like to see next season. "Have me do more routes out of the backfield."

Fantasy Impact:

Sproles was on the field for 344 total snaps in his first season with the Eagles. Of those 344 snaps, Sproles shared a backfield with McCoy only 38 times. The two were successful during their limited time together, as the offense averaged 6.5 yards per play this season with both McCoy and Sproles on the field, the story said. Sproles had double-digit touches the team's first two games but then the touches got less and less as the weeks went on. He did miss a game because of a knee injury. Sproles didn't catch a ball in three games this year and in two of those he wasn't even targeted.

Tom Coughlin survives, will return to Giants in 2015

Monday, December 29, 2014, 12:19pm

Dan Graziano on Twitter - [Full Article]

Tom Coughlin has been told that he will return to Giants in 2015, but still has a meeting with John Mara today about potential staff changes.

Fantasy Impact:

The Giants have played much better in the second half and have been aided by WR Odell Beckham Jr. and his bust-out rookie season. QB Eli Manning and the rest of the offense seem to have a much better grasp of OC Ben McAdoo's system than they did in preseason and in the early part of 2014. Perhaps the fall comes on the defensive side.

Monday, December 29, 2014, 11:00am - [Full Article]

Eagles coach Chip Kelly stiff-armed a question about how important it is to identify a franchise quarterback Monday, but Kelly spoke encouragingly of Nick Foles, saying Foles just needs to continue his improvement trajectory in the offseason.

Though Kelly talked again of thoroughly reviewing the quarterback position, Foles would seem to be the most likely 2015 starter.

Kelly said Foles "just needs to continue to work. One thing I do not fault Nick (on) is (his) work ethic. He's been outstanding in that. I watched how he attacked his rehabilitation ... what he did every day. He's been outstanding from that standpoint. I think he's continuing to grow as a quarterback. I think that's part of the maturation process in this league ... you kind of almost need to do something, make that mistake and then learn from that mistake. That's the one thing I admire about Nick is, he processes things well, if he does make a mistake, rarely does he make the same mistake twice.

"I think he just needs to continue on the trajectory he's headed on right now."

Fantasy Impact:

Realistically, Foles seems like he'll be the starter for the Eagles in 2015. Philly local media often points out that Foles doesn't always appear to be Kelly's guy, so these were pretty encouraging words from Kelly about Foles. Foles was never afraid to throw the deep ball, something Mark Sanchez didn't always have success with, and that seemed to limit the Eagles offense over the last few weeks. Foles is a nice fantasy option to wait on at QB, especially if his target area is the seventh or eighth round again in 2015 drafts.

Jim Harbaugh takes Michigan job

Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:39am

ESPN - [Full Article]

Michigan has told its biggest boosters that a deal for Jim Harbaugh to become its next head coach is done and that a news conference is scheduled for Tuesday, a source close to Michigan told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Interim athletic director Jim Hackett and other officials from the school met with Harbaugh in California Sunday night after he officially parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers. The agreement reached ended a nearly month-long coaching search in which virtually any conclusion other than landing Harbaugh would have been deemed a disappointment in Ann Arbor.

Fantasy Impact:

Harbaugh came close to taking the Michigan job in 2011, but decided to jump to the NFL and the Wolverines hired Brady Hoke. Hoke's record went steadily downhill during his four seasons at Michigan. Hoke was fired after a Nov. 29 loss to Ohio State that guaranteed the program would not play in a bowl game. Harbaugh was reportedly high on the Raiders and Jets lists of head coaching candidates.

Bills QB Kyle Orton retires

Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:18am - [Full Article]

He was a late signing at the conclusion of the preseason, a veteran presence that Bills head coach Doug Marrone felt had to be on the roster at the most important position. Come season’s end Kyle Orton made 12 starts going 7-5 for the Bills. On Monday he announced this season would be his last in the NFL.

“I just have been going at it for 10 years and it’s just a family decision and I’ve decided to get home and be a dad and call it a day,” said Orton.

Orton, who was contemplating retirement this past offseason signed with the Bills and had a player option to return for the 2015 season, but wanting to be close to family again has his mind made up.

“I think I’ve been away from my parents since going to college, so 14 years,” he said. “Anytime you have a chance to end on a good note and go home and spend time with family that’s really important to me and my wife and we’re just excited to move on.”

He also said there is no NFL scenario that will change his mind to retire at this time.

Fantasy Impact:

Orton’s retirement leaves the Bills without a veteran at the quarterback position. E.J. Manuel and Jeff Tuel were the only other quarterbacks on the roster. The time Orton spent with Manuel this season however, has him optimistic about the former first-round pick’s future with Buffalo, the story said. However it remains to be seen if the team will turn back to Manuel and give him another chance.

Cards 'hopeful' Drew Stanton plays in Wild Card game

Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:13am

Pro Football Talk - [Full Article]

Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim made his usual appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 Monday morning, and had a positive tone when asked about the possibility of Drew Stanton making Saturday’s playoff game with the Panthers.

“At this point it’s day-to-day, but we’re hopeful,” Keim said.

The Cardinals would still likely be underdogs on the road Saturday, but would have a more compelling chance against a suddenly hot Panthers Defense.

Fantasy Impact:

Getting Stanton back would be a huge boost to the Cardinals, who have floundered badly under third-choice Ryan Lindley, the story said. Stanton was recovering well from his previous knee injury when he had to be treated for an infection last week, an infection the team believes was picked up outside its facilities.

Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:04am

ESPN - [Full Article]

Marques Colston might be back with the New Orleans Saints next year. But just in case he isn’t, the Saints cherished his game-winning touchdown in Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for all it was worth.

Colston was awarded a game ball after turning a short pass into a 36-yard TD with 1:57 remaining. And the usually-stoic veteran even shed a tear, fellow receiver Robert Meachem told The Advocate.

“You couldn’t have scripted a better ending,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who acknowledged that assistant coach Joe Vitt had made the team aware of certain milestones they could reach in the season finale -- including the fact that Brees and Colston could move into fifth place in NFL history with 68 touchdowns as a duo (they broke a tie with Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne).

Fantasy Impact:

Brees, Meachem and receiver Kenny Stills all insisted that they expect Colston to be back in 2014, even though his future is in doubt since he’s due $7 million in salary and bonuses. But the emotion they all expressed made it clear that they’re prepared for the possibility Colston, 31, might be done after nine seasons with the Saints. Colston could take a pay cut to stay, the story pointed out, but Saints may want to move on with a healthy Brandin Cooks back next year to go along with Stills, who emerged this year after injuries slowed his start to 2014.

Bears fire HC Marc Trestman, GM Phil Emery

Monday, December 29, 2014, 9:58am

Pro Football Talk - [Full Article]

Just minutes after news first broke that the Bears have fired General Manager Phil Emery, news also broke that head coach Marc Trestman was fired. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports first broke the Trestman news.

Now the Bears will attempt to pick up the pieces, with a new coach and a new general manager inheriting the mess that Emery and Trestman have left behind.

Fantasy Impact:

Trestman was a surprising, outside-the-box choice as the Bears’ head coach, coming as he did from the Canadian Football League. But in his first season as the head coach of the Bears, he showed a lot of promise as an offensive innovator. Unfortunately, Trestman’s second season was a disaster, as the Bears appeared to quit on the season, the story pointed out. One positive out of Trestman's time was re-establishing RB Matt Forte in the passing game, something previous HC Lovie Smith got away from. Forte broke the record for RB receptions in a season with 102 this year, one better than Larry Centers' mark of 101 set back in 1995.

LeSean McCoy's knee injury not serious, wants to be an Eagle

Monday, December 29, 2014, 9:52am - [Full Article]

LeSean McCoy lay on the turf with the medical staff checking his left knee late in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 34-26 win over the New York Giants on Sunday.

McCoy initially feared it was something serious, based on the way he went down. Other players knelt around him, hoping it wasn't. McCoy eventually arose and limped off the field on his own power. He wanted to go back into the game, but the clock was winding down by that point.

The Eagles' Pro Bowl running back avoided a scare. The question now is whether that was his final carry with the team.

That question might seem absurd considering that McCoy, 26, rushed for 99 yards on Sunday to finish with 1,319 yards this season. It was the second-highest rushing total of his career, with both seasons coming under Chip Kelly. He was named to his third Pro Bowl in six seasons last week.

But McCoy is due to be paid $9.75 million with a salary-cap number of $11.95 million in 2015. That's a hefty price for a running back, and McCoy admitted that his future goes through his mind sometimes - especially after the Eagles jettisoned DeSean Jackson last offseason.

Fantasy Impact:

McCoy said he wants to stay and seems open to restructuring his contract after a down year. HC Chip Kelly came out Sunday and said he wants Shady back in the fold for 2015, so a departure seems unlikely at this point.

Mike Smith let go by Falcons

Monday, December 29, 2014, 9:45am

ESPN - [Full Article]

Coach Mike Smith was fired by the Atlanta Falcons, the team announced Monday morning.

"Smitty's contributions to our club, team and city over the last seven years are numerous," owner Arthur Blank said in a release. "His accomplishments on the field made him the most successful coach in the 49-year history of the Falcons, and we are grateful for the foundation he has laid for us for the future."

Fantasy Impact:

Smith's firing did not come as a surprise, as multiple media outlets have reported on Blank's frustration with the Falcons' shortcomings over the last two seasons. Smith finished with a 1-4 postseason record despite going 66-46 in the regular season. The Falcons reached the playoffs four times in Smith's seven seasons with the team.

Black Monday begins: Jets fire Rex Ryan

Monday, December 29, 2014, 9:42am

ESPN - [Full Article]

The writing has been on the wall for a long time, and now it's reality: the Jets have fired Rex Ryan. Second-year general manager John Idzik was also let go.

The pair was informed of their fate early Monday morning, the team announced.

The popular head coach brought the Jets out of relative obscurity in the world's biggest market back in 2009. He led New York to the AFC title game twice in his first two seasons and even scored a book deal and contract extension. But he never reached the playoffs again.

The defensive-minded coach's time was marred by inconsistent quarterback play, a knock on his resume that he was never able to overcome despite going through several different coordinators. The team drafted two quarterbacks in the first or second round -- Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith -- neither of whom could buoy an offense strong enough to complement Ryan's dominant defenses. Ryan leaves the Jets with a 46-50 record.

Jets owner Woody Johnson issued a statement following the news.

"Both Rex and John made significant contributions to the team, and they have my appreciation and gratitude for their efforts and commitment. Over the years, Rex brought the Jets a bold confidence and a couple of great post-season runs, which all of us will remember. I am beginning our search for new football leadership, effective immediately, with guidance and support from respected football experts, including Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf, two Super Bowl winners with decades of valuable experience."

Fantasy Impact:

As NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted on Sunday, Johnson is searching for a candidate with more of a personnel background. As Rapoport also noted, Ryan will search for another head coaching opportunity. Potential openings in Chicago, Oakland and Atlanta would certainly be appealing. If not, Ryan will go into television -- he retained a media agent in the event that he would move in front of the camera.

LeVeon Bell hyperextends knee

Monday, December 29, 2014, 9:39am

ESPN - [Full Article]

The Steelers received a major scare on the way to winning their first AFC North title since 2010.

Running back LeVeon Bell left the Steelers' 27-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night in the third quarter after taking a direct shot on his right knee and did not return.

Coach Mike Tomlin said after the Steelers finished 11-5 and secured the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs that Bell hyperextended his knee and did not appear to suffer a serious injury. Bell was one of the last people out of the Steelers locker room, and he had his right knee wrapped in ice and walked slowly to a cart that took him to the players' parking lot at Heinz Field.

"We'll gather more significant information as we proceed through the week," Tomlin said. "We're thankful that it's not anything major."

Fantasy Impact:

It's still way too early, but Bell is no sure thing to play in the Wild Card game at home against Baltimore. Bell did not have a brace on his injured knee or walk with the aid of crutches and overall the injury isn't considered serious. Backup Josh Harris carried five times for just seven yards.