It was a commonly held assumption that Rashard Mendenhall would start the season on the PUP list. So common, in fact, that well-connected Pittsburgh beat writers were told that Mendenhall wouldn’t be removed from said list prior to the Steelers’ opener, and therefore he wouldn’t be available to the team until Week 7.
And that probably would have happened in a perfectly peachy Utopian world, one in which RPatz and KStew are granted eternal bliss, and we can freely eat delicious fried chicken without fearing political backlash. Ahhh, simpler times.
But a funny thing happened once Mendenhall wasn’t the only injured running back on a team that prides itself on its ability to run and hurt you. Suddenly, he’s just fine.
Yes, it’s practice, and it’s not even an NFL practice. Still, when the Kentucky Wildcats strapped a camera to Max Smith’s helmet to provide a very rare and unique perspective, you quickly get a feel for the extremely tight windows a quarterback has to throw into, and the distance from the pocket to the far reaches of the sidelines.
On its most basic level, the Hard Knocks series on HBO gives us a glimpse into the rigors of training camp, and the amount of sweat equity required to merely be included on a 53-man NFL roster once August ends. Then succeeding and thriving during the season is an entirely different level of pain.
And while that alone would be sufficient to make the show required viewing for anyone who has even a passing interest in NFL football, what makes the series truly griping are the snapshots of life away from the field. We see what it’s like for the families of players, and especially the borderline players who are hopeful to just make the practice squad, and consequently their wives become NFL vagabonds.
We also see the inner workings of major roster decisions, and last night we saw Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin working through his thought process behind the move to cut Chad Johnson less than a day after a domestic incident that will also eventually lead to his divorce from Evelyn Lozada.
Unless you’re important, of course, because the really important defensive linemen who power the defending champs and their pass rush aren’t getting hurt yet. You know, the guys named Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Osi Umenyiora. You know, the guys who combined to have 30.5 of the Giants’ 48 sacks last year. Yeah, those guys.
The problem, though, is that if one of those guys ever goes down, there’s beginning to be some serious depth questions around them on the Giants D-line due to the sudden outbreak of serious (and in one case, season ending) training camp injuries.
Placed by the neighbor who was helping Evelyn Lozada after her domestic dispute with Chad Johnson Saturday night that ended with a three-inch gash in her forehead, the call takes place only about a half hour after the incident.
While telling Lozada to wipe the blood from her cut, the neighbor repeatedly asks for measures to be taken so that a scene isn’t created, saying he doesn’t want the media to get involved because Johnson is a “very high-profile person”. Lozada can faintly be heard in the background, at one point saying that Johnson hit her with his head.
At the time, they assumed Johnson was somewhere in the neighborhood looking for her, but they didn’t know where specifically.
‘Tis the season for cringes whenever that awful thwack of equipment colliding rings out over the practice field. That sound is always cause for alarm, but especially during training camp, when a key player could potentially be lost for the season before he’s contributed during even a single meaningful snap.
We’re pushing ahead to a time when the world is abandoned on Sundays and Monday and Thursday nights for football consumption. But we’re still nearly a month (27 days) away from the day when most teams open the regular season, leaving plenty of time for busted bones and tweaked muscles during preseason games, or worse, routine practice drills. Chargers running back Ryan Mathews is already out for up to six weeks, the same amount of time that Pat Angerer will be sidelined after the Colts’ middle linebacker who had 148 tackles last year fractured his foot during yesterday’s preseason win over St. Louis.
The Eagles already dodged a potentially damaging blow after Michael Vick’s hand injury was little more than a contusion. Now they’ll need to seduce lady luck again after a scary incident today in practice involving defensive backs Nnamdi Asomugha and Nate Allen.
We should probably step away from Chad Johnson for a little bit, since we’ve now had three straight posts dealing with his ungraceful exit from Miami. Or maybe we won’t, because if there’s something that brings me great joy, it’s talking about an unemployed player who doesn’t stop talking.
Anywho, we return to Johnsongate again briefly to note an interesting comment from head coach Joe Philbin when he spoke to the Miami media following practice this morning. Most assumed that Johnson wasn’t given the normal amount of strikes that figurative life batters typically face, an assumption supported by the minimal contract he was given, his behavioral history, and the fact that Philbin is more strict than your grandfather who was raised on moon pies and 10-cent movies.
Last night Pro Football Talk even reported that Johnson was on a “one strike” arrangement with the Dolphins. So yeah, there you go, right? Well no, maybe not.
Johnson may have been dealing with a far wider strike zone, but he was still given multiple opportunities. And according to Philbin, he failed, and it became clear the relationship between a brash, loud receiver, and young rebuilding team with a rookie quarterback who could start Week 1 wasn’t going to work out.