AFC West: Danny Travathan

NFL hits Joe Mays back

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
3:25
PM ET
This is the most chaotic of Roger Goodell’s time as NFL commissioner.

Yet in a time when the officiating labor issue has affected the integrity of the game, Goodell has taken control of one of his hot-button topics -- player safety. It will cost Denver Broncos’ middle linebacker Joe Mays.

The NFL suspended Mays for one game and fined him $50,000 for a violent hit on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub on Sunday. Mays hammered Schaub, whose helmet shot off his head. Schaub went down, holding his head in his hands in obvious pain. Later, he said he lost part of his ear on the play.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Mays is appealing the suspension. Mays has a reputation for being a good person and a respectful player. He twice apologized to Schaub on Sunday, and Denver coach John Fox has supported Mays.

Mays -- who was fined nearly $9,000 for a hit on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan in Week 2 -- said Monday in an interview with a Denver radio station that he knew he was in the wrong, but he made it clear his intention was not to hurt Schaub.

“What I was thinking is, I’m just reading my progression, my gap blocks, so I’m thinking, try to get to the quarterback as fast as I could, try to get him down before he gets the ball off,” Mays said in the radio interview. “I see him back there, I’m coming, I’m coming and I see him cock back to release the ball, but I’m still going to try to hit him so I can affect the release a little bit. So, he threw the ball, and he kind of ducked his head because he saw me coming. When he ducked his head, that’s when I came in and hit him. It looked worse than what … I mean, it didn’t look good. I’ll just put it that way. My intention was to go in there and get a hit on him, not hit him in the helmet. Unfortunately, that’s what happened.”

Mays admitted, “I guess I could’ve been lower.” Still, in the radio interview, it seemed Mays thought he’d be fined, not suspended.

“If you hit him like that, you can also get fined,” Mays said. "Who knows how much money they’ll take away from me? When it comes to quarterbacks, they’re definitely going to protect them. I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen to me.”

If Mays loses the appeal, he’d likely be out for Sunday’s home game against Oakland. The Broncos could use several players in his spot, opting for Keith Brooking, Wesley Woodyard and backups Danny Trevathan and Nate Irving if he is cleared after suffering a concussion against Houston. Denver might have to make a roster move at the position if both Mays and Irving are out Sunday.

Rules are rules. It was a brutal hit. I was there, and I could feel the hit from the press box. I don’t think Mays’ intentions were bad. I believe his explanation, but the NFL has strict helmet-to-helmet rules. I don’t think Mays has a lot to complain about, especially a week after he was fined for a hit on Ryan.

Broncos Camp Watch

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
11:00
AM ET
NFC Camp Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Dates

Three thoughts as training camps open around the NFL

One thing I'm certain of: The Peyton Manning show is about to begin. Four months after he rocked the NFL by signing with the Broncos, the legendary quarterback is now beginning his first NFL training camp without a horseshoe on his helmet.

Manning will be the story of the NFL this summer. At the age of 36, there will be daily updates as he tries to come back from a surgically repaired neck that cost him the entire 2011 season. Manning has looked good in offseason workouts and he remains on pace to be ready for the season. Still, his every training camp pass will be dissected by media and fans. If Manning throws a dart, you’ll hear about it. If Manning throws an interception, you’ll be alerted. If Manning suffers a setback, sirens will blare. The summer of Manning is about to commence.

One thing that might happen: There could be some clarity at weakside linebacker as the Broncos try to adjust to playing without starter D.J. Williams. He is facing a six-game NFL suspension for using a banned substance.

The Broncos are currently considering Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving and rookie Danny Trevathan for Williams’ spot. It will be an open competition and the final decision likely will not be made until late in the preseason. But we might see someone emerge in camp. Right now, it is Woodyard’s job to lose, I believe. Yet, Irving and Trevathan will get a look. Trevathan, a sixth-round pick, had a steep hill to climb to win the temporary starting job, but he opened eyes in OTAs.

One thing we won't see: The option. The high school offensive days are over in Denver. I’m sure no one is more thrilled than Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. McCoy did one of the most impressive jobs in the NFL last season when he scrapped a traditional NFL offense during the season and tailored an offense to best utilize former quarterback Tim Tebow. But working with Manning is a much better, er, option for any offensive coordinator.

Denver leader John Elway, a legendary quarterback himself, clearly hated that approach and replaced Tebow with Manning as soon as he could. Now, the rest of the offense can rest easy and go back to a traditional passing game with perhaps the best passer in NFL history. This will be a relief to the offensive line and receivers as the Manning era buries memories of 3 yards and a cloud of Tebow in Denver.

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