NFC South: Ray Anderson

Some clarity on NFL meeting plans

March, 16, 2011
Just finished a media conference call with Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, and Ray Anderson, the NFL’s vice president of football operations.

The good news was there was no talk about labor news -- the focus was on football matters as the NFL prepares for its annual spring meeting. I’ll be heading to New Orleans on Sunday to cover that and the meeting officially starts Monday.

Before McKay and Anderson got into some possible rules changes, the NFL cleared up a situation that had been very uncertain in recent days. All 32 coaches are expected to attend and they’ll meet with the media Tuesday morning. In other words, I’ll have time to get with Sean Payton, Mike Smith, Raheem Morris and Ron Rivera and bring you what they have to say.

In another matter, an NFL spokesman said the league continues to work on its 2011 regular-season schedule and that’s expected to be announced, as usual, in mid-April. The spokesman didn’t give any hints if some of the opening-week prime-time games will be announced at the league meeting, but that’s been known to happen in the past.

New Orleans fans won’t be happy to hear there is no plan to propose a new seeding process for the playoffs. That comes after the Saints went 11-5, but drew the No. 6 seed and a trip to No. 4 Seattle, which went 7-9 and won the NFC West. McKay said the competition committee discussed a look at changing the seeding, but there didn’t appear to be enough momentum from teams to even make a proposal.

Our John Clayton will be posting much more on the rule changes that are proposed over on our main NFL page in just a bit. But the most significant proposal, at least in my eyes, is one to make some major modifications on kickoffs. Due to a high rate of injuries on kickoffs, McKay said the committee will propose moving the spot of the kickoff from the 30-yard line to the 35 and players on the kicking team would have to line up within five yards of the ball.

The proposal also includes moving the spot of touchbacks to the receiving team’s 25-yard line from the 20. Penalties for kicks going out of bounds still would result in the ball being placed at the receiving team’s 40-yard line. The proposal also would eliminate all wedge blocks, including the two-man wedge.
Looks like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t the only NFC South team making their players disappear. At least temporarily Tuesday afternoon, the Carolina Panthers took their roster off the team’s official website.

It’s back up now and a team spokesman said it was taken down due to the “uncertainty’’ surrounding the league’s labor situation. I just checked all four NFC South team websites and each of them is showing a roster -- at the moment.

Speaking of “uncertainty,’’ there’s a lot of it going around. This is the time of year when the NFL world generally gets ready for the annual spring meeting. It’s generally the biggest business meeting of the year and lots of people from all areas of the league generally attend.

Well, this year’s going to be different, but we have no idea how different just yet. I’ll be leaving Sunday for New Orleans where the league meeting, or some semblance of it, is scheduled to start Monday. At this point, all we know for sure is that Wednesday there will be a conference call featuring Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, who chairs the competition committee, and NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson.

They’re supposed to give the media a preview of some rules and issues the competition committee will be working on at the meeting. I’m pretty sure McKay and Anderson aren’t going to be fielding any labor questions.

Once we get to the actual meeting, it’s going to be interesting to see who shows. In normal years, the league has a breakfast where media can talk with AFC coaches one day and NFC coaches another. Almost always, all the coaches are there. But league officials so far have said there might be some sort of scaled-down version of the media sessions with coaches.

In talking to officials from several NFC South teams today, there seems to be uncertainty about whether their coaches will be attending the meeting.

Dunta Robinson gets $50,000 fine

October, 19, 2010
Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson will not be suspended for his hit on Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson in Sunday’s game. But Robinson has drawn a large fine and will be pointed to as an example as the NFL tries to discourage future violation of safety rules with possible suspensions.

Robinson was one of three players fined Tuesday, the NFL said. Robinson drew a $50,000 fine as did New England’s Brandon Meriweather. Pittsburgh’s James Harrison drew a $75,000 fine and the NFL said he was fined more because he was a repeat offender.

In his letter to each of the players, league vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said “future offenses will result in an escalation of fines up to and including suspension."

In Robinson’s case the NFL specifically said the following:

“In the second quarter of Atlanta’s game against Philadelphia, Robinson unnecessarily struck a defenseless receiver. That action violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8 (g) of the NFL Official Playing Rules, which states that it is unnecessary roughness if the initial force of the contact by a defender’s helmet, forearm, or shoulder is to the head or neck area of a defenseless receiver who is catching or attempting to catch a pass. ‘’

Robinson and Jackson each suffered concussions on the play and left the game. Atlanta coach Mike Smith said Robinson’s availability for Sunday’s game with Cincinnati will continue to be evaluated as the week goes on.

Could Dunta Robinson face suspension?

October, 19, 2010
You don’t have to connect too many dots to figure out that Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson might be facing serious disciplinary action for Sunday’s hit on Philadelphia receiver DeSean Jackson. A suspension could be a possibility, if you listen to what the NFL is saying.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said the league no longer will give first-time offenders a free pass for “devastating hits’’ and "head shots." In general, the league usually has issued fines for such hits in the past. Anderson said the league may begin issuing suspensions for such hits.

But Robinson could be a victim of timing and other circumstances. There were a number of brutal hits across the league Sunday, and that’s led to the NFL speaking out about ways to curb violence.

Robinson’s hit resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness and both he and Jackson left the game and didn’t return. Robinson’s hit didn’t appear to be intentional. It was a split-second play where he and Jackson were going full speed. Robinson’s head appeared to hit Jackson’s shoulder pads first and then moved up for a helmet-to-helmet collision.

In the past, Robinson might have gotten off with just the penalty or a small fine. But it sure looks like Robinson’s hit might have come at the wrong time. Robinson might be used as an example and that could mean a suspension.