David Quessenberry in remission

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
[+] EnlargeDavid Quessenberry, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins T lymphoblastic lymphoma in June and has since gone through six rounds of chemotherapy, will serve as the Texans' honorary captain on Thursday.
AP Photo/Pat SullivanDavid Quessenberry is in remission from non-Hodgkin T lymphoblastic lymphoma, having completed a series of chemotherapy treatments and radiation therapy.

HOUSTON -- Texans offensive tackle David Quessenberry is in remission from non-Hodgkin T lymphoblastic lymphoma, having completed an aggressive series of chemotherapy treatments followed by radiation therapy.

"I'm back into it," Quessenberry said. "We're training every day. We're enjoying this offseason time. I'm just using every day to get back to where I was before it happened. I know it's not going to take a week or a month, but hopefully in time I can get back to that point. .. Every day I feel myself getting stronger. Feel myself getting better."

Quessenberry will now undergo a 30-month maintenance period that will include lower doses of chemotherapy, but that might not preclude a return to the field. Quessenberry told reporters at an event at Texas Children's Hospital that he hopes to play football in 2015.

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He was no doubt the Atlanta Falcons' MVP through the first half of last season. Now, Antone Smith is just waiting to see what his NFL future holds.

The diminutive running back, who has averaged 49 yards per scoring play on seven career touchdowns, continues to patiently wait for news on a new a contract. While nothing has been relayed to Smith personally just yet, word at the NFL combine last week was Smith indeed is one of the players with an expiring contract the Falcons have prioritized to bring back. But there also were whispers in Indianapolis about the New York Giants being interested in Smith. Not to mention former Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is now in Tampa and knows how special a talent Smith is.

Smith, who turns 30 in September, has low mileage with just 44 touches in five NFL seasons.

New Falcons coach Dan Quinn has emphasized the need for speed, which is Smith's biggest asset when he's healthy. Plus, owner Arthur Blank previously expressed a desire to keep Smith around for years to come.

"Who wouldn't want to be a Falcon?" Smith said. "Heck yeah, I want to be here."

There is one obstacle Smith has to overcome, however. He is still in the process of rehabbing the broken right leg that prematurely ended his 2014 season.

"I can't do too much right now," Smith said. "It's about getting strength back in the leg. It was a broken tibia. I have no idea when I'm going to start running again. But my thought is, I'm always going to be confident in myself. I'll be back to full strength."

With four touchdowns of 40 or more yards last season, Smith ranked third in the league behind Green Bay's Jordy Nelson (seven) and Washington's DeSean Jackson (five), according to ESPN Stats & Information. Smith had five touchdowns overall on 36 touches while playing in 10 games.

"He made us more explosive," former Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice said of Smith. "His percentage of explosive plays were lights out."

Smith's speed and explosion would be ideal in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's outside-zone blocking scheme, which depends on a one-cut-and-go mentality for the running backs. Shanahan, Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have raved about how second-year back Devonta Freeman could thrive in the new system. And the Falcons could add another veteran back such as Justin Forsett, with Steven Jackson expected to be released.

No matter what, there should be a place in Shanahan's offense for a dynamic playmaker such as Smith.

"That system can fit any back," Smith said. "The sky's the limit in that system. If I am a Falcon, that would be my pedigree right there."

Not to be forgotten is Smith's contribution on special teams as a gunner. He led the Falcons with 10 special-teams tackles during the 2013 season.

The humble Smith, as usual, downplayed his significance to the team.

"I feel like I'm just like anybody else," Smith said. "I just like to play football. I never really look at how valuable I am. I just want to play."

Carroll on Lynch: Hope it works out

February, 20, 2015
Feb 20

INDIANAPOLIS -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll refuses to believe rumors Marshawn Lynch might retire, claiming he never has considered the possibility of losing the mercurial running back.

"We're always preparing for the future with him," Carroll told reporters Friday at the NFL scouting combine. "We've never thought of the future without him. Hopefully, it will work out."

Carroll's comments came two days after general manager John Schneider indicated he wouldn't be shocked if Lynch decided to quit football.

Lynch's hesitancy to commit could have something to do with his contract situation. He's entering the final year of his contract, due to make $7 million. The two sides have been negotiating an extension for "a great deal of time now," according to Carroll, who said the Seahawks have made "big offers" to their leading rusher.

Carroll said he hasn't had direct contact with Lynch, who turns 29 in April.

The Seahawks don't seem concerned with the wear-and-tear factor. In the past four years, Lynch has 1,181 carries for 5,357 yards in the regular season, playing 63 games. That doesn't include eight playoff games over that span, with 164 more carries for 784 yards.

As for other star players, Carroll confirmed that cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow) and safety Kam Chancellor (knee) won't need offseason surgery. He also confirmed that safety Earl Thomas will need surgery to repair a damaged shoulder.

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Tom Coughlin met with the media Thursday at the NFL combine. Here's what we learned about the New York Giants:

Coughlin is likely to get a contract extension: Just like last year, when the Giants tacked one more year onto his deal so he didn't have to go into the season as a lame duck, Coughlin is likely to have his deal extended through 2016. He said there would be news on that at some point soon, though he didn't say what the news would be.

Weston Richburg is likely to play center: Coughlin said the 2014 second-round pick, who started 15 games at left guard as a rookie, is a center and would be "given every opportunity" to compete for the starting center job. Coughlin didn't say this, but 2014 starting center J.D. Walton is a likely cap cut whose release would save the Giants $3 million against this year's cap.

Victor Cruz is coming along: Coughlin said Cruz, the star wide receiver who tore his patellar tendon in Week 6, is doing well in his recovery and is planning to start running again soon. The Giants hope Cruz can recover in time for training camp, but they acknowledge his injury was quite serious and will give him the time he needs to recover.

Pass rush is a priority: Even if they re-sign or franchise Jason Pierre-Paul as expected, Coughlin indicated the Giants would be looking to add another pass-rusher this offseason. Coughlin didn't make it sound as though he expected Mathias Kiwanuka (another likely cap casualty) back next season, and while he said he likes Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore, Coughlin said the Giants would like to add to that arsenal as well.

The Giants are meeting with running backs: One of the items on the Giants' offseason agenda is a change-of-pace, big-play-threat running back to fill the role they had carved out for David Wilson last year. One of the many players with whom they've met here is Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, who had 14 rushing touchdowns of 43 or more yards and eight of 64 or more yards in college.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Bill O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith met with the media Thursday at the NFL combine. Here's what we learned about the Houston Texans:
  • Clowney has done right things: Smith talked a lot about being proud of various players and one was Jadeveon Clowney, the first overall pick last year who had microfracture surgery in December after suffering a lateral meniscus tear and articular cartilage damage. Smith said he's been pleased with Clowney's approach to what will be a difficult rehab. "I do think that he can be a very impactful player and reach his potential," Smith said. Said O'Brien: "The first six weeks were very important because he couldn't put any weight on the knee. He had to be really disciplined in whatever he could do rehab-wise. He had to be very disciplined doing that, and he was."
  • Jackson, Mallett are priorities: Cornerback Kareem Jackson and quarterback Ryan Mallett are among the pending free agents the Texans are prioritizing. Smith and O'Brien talked about hoping to keep Mallett in the fold. Smith beamed when talking about Jackson. He mentioned how proud he was of Jackson's development. "I just like him as a man. I'm proud of him. I'm very proud of how he has matured over the course of his career." Smith credited part of that development to Jackson working with and watching fellow cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who is four years older than Jackson.
  • Smith wants Newton to keep growing: We've known Derek Newton was one of the players the Texans hoped to re-sign and Smith gave a voice to that. Smith also talked of being proud of Newton, saying he took to the Texans' system well and he still has a few more levels to get to when it comes to his play. I asked if he thinks Newton will continue that development with the Texans: "Oh, absolutely. I really do. You talk about a guy who was drafted in the seventh round and improved and developed into a good player. That's what you want. You want to keep those guys around." It certainly would be a reward on the work they've put in developing him.
  • Keenum impressed O'Brien: Being released can't be easy on the ego, and the way Case Keenum handled returning to the team that released him, and taking over right away as the starting quarterback in Week 16, impressed O'Brien. "He did it," O'Brien said. "Took over the leadership of that position. That role in the offense. Did a good job with his huddle command ... I think he's a very viable quarterback for us moving into the future."
INDIANAPOLIS -- While no final decision has been made, Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Nick Roach may not play this season because of continued concussion symptoms that first appeared last preseason and cost him the entire 2014 season.

Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said Wednesday that Roach is still experiencing symptoms and he has not been cleared. Roach suffered a concussion Aug. 22 in a preseason game at the Green Bay Packers. He was put on the injured reserve after he missed several games. McKenzie didn’t say any decisions were made, but he sounded as if the team is worried about Roach’s ability to play again.

“You’ve got to start looking out for the player. We’ll continue to communicate with the medical staff and I’ll talk to Nick and we’ll make the decision,” McKenzie said. “But I’m in the best interests of the player and as much as we’d love him to be our signal caller on defense, I don’t want to risk life-long injury if he goes out there. Especially if he has any, not discomfort, but any type of feeling within him that something’s not right. And for it to last this long is not a good thing.”

Roach, who Oakland signed as a free agent from Chicago in 2013, didn’t miss a defensive play in his first season with the Raiders. He was replaced by Miles Burris last season. McKenzie acknowledged Oakland will be looking for a middle linebacker.

Meanwhile, starting outside linebacker Sio Moore is not expected to be ready until training camp due to his recovery from a hip injury that ended his season in December and required surgery. While Moore will miss the OTA season, McKenzie expects him to have no trouble being ready for the season.
INDIANAPOLIS -- When the Dallas Cowboys begin their official offseason program in April, linebacker Sean Lee will be a full participant.

"I think Sean is ahead of target," executive vice president Stephen Jones said.

Lee suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the first day of organized team activities last May and missed the season. This is the second rehab Lee has gone through after tearing his right ACL at Penn State.

The Cowboys replaced Lee with Rolando McClain at middle linebacker during the 2014 season and they are not sure where Lee will play in 2015.

A lot of it will be determined by what the team elects to do with McClain, who is a free agent. If McClain re-signs with the Cowboys, then Lee could play the weak-side linebacker spot.

"We'll put him in the best spots, but that has certainly been talked about -- Sean at weak," Jones said. "But that doesn't mean he will, for sure, be there. We're kind of looking at a group of guys who can do all of them."

The recovery of cornerback Morris Claiborne has gone slowly, as expected. Unlike Lee he will not be ready for the offseason program as he comes back from a torn patellar tendon, and he might not be ready for the start of training camp. It is quite possible that he will begin camp on the physically unable to perform list.

If that's the case, then it will be the fourth straight year he will not go through a full camp because of injuries.

"Of course it is (a concern)," Jones said. "But you never know when a player is going to turn the rock over and obviously getting him beefed up and ready to go. We've got great trainers, great rehab people, great strength and conditioning people and he needs to get in line and do the right things and good things will happen for him."

Richard Sherman won't have surgery

February, 9, 2015
Feb 9

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will not undergo Tommy John elbow surgery, at least for now, he confirmed Tuesday in a text message to The Associated Press.

Dr. James Andrews advised Sherman to try to let his elbow heal on its own rather than have the surgery. Andrews will check on Sherman's elbow again in a month.

Sherman hurt his elbow during the second half of Seattle's 28-22 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 18.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had said Feb. 3 in a radio interview that Sherman might not require Tommy John surgery after all.

"He's not a pitcher, and he's not a left-hander. Sherm might not have to have that kind of surgery," Carroll said. "If he was a thrower he would."

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Earl Thomas having shoulder surgery

February, 5, 2015
Feb 5

Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas is having surgery to repair a fully torn labrum in his left shoulder, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Thomas separated the shoulder during the NFC Championship Game but returned to finish out the victory and started in the team's Super Bowl XLIX loss to the New England Patriots.

A key cog in Seattle's Legion of Boom defense, Thomas is expected to be 100 percent by the start of training camp.

Thomas is the third member of the Seahawks' vaunted defense known to have played through a worse-than-expected injury during the Super Bowl. Strong safety Kam Chancellor played with a torn MCL and cornerback Richard Sherman may need Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

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Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor played Super Bowl XLIX with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee along with a deep bone bruise on the outside of his knee, Seahawks.com reported Wednesday.

Chancellor fell to the ground when he was hit on the knee near the end of practice two days before the Super Bowl, suffering the bruise.

The MCL tear, however, may have been a previous injury, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

Chancellor said he didn't know whether he was going to play Sunday when he went down in practice, even though he was listed as probable.

"They told me I wasn't going to be able to play," he said. "They told me torn MCL and bone bruise. I was mad. I was frustrated. But at the end of the day, I was able to play. My teammates came to me. They prayed with me. That's when it hit me. Why am I mad? I've got to be grateful for how I'm feeling right now. There are some people out there worse than me.

"I could have had a broken knee and not been able to play. So I just prayed for health and happiness. I prayed for peace and just to be able to make it to the game and play as much as I could for my teammates."

Chancellor had 10 tackles in the 28-24 loss to New England in the Super Bowl, including one for a loss. The Seahawks haven't said whether Chancellor will need surgery, but Carroll indicated Monday it is a possibility.

"It's not a matter of talking about being injured and playing," Chancellor said. "It's about being grateful for getting the opportunity to still even play through the injury."

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Sherman might avoid TJ surgery

February, 3, 2015
Feb 3
[+] EnlargeRichard Sherman
AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenRichard Sherman suffered his elbow injury in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers.

Coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday in a radio interview that Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman might not require Tommy John surgery after all.

Carroll made his comments in an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle, during which he also said the team and Marshawn Lynch have been in active talks about the running back's future with the team.

Carroll said he "might have been misled" when he said Monday that Sherman would require Tommy John surgery, an elbow-ligament-replacement procedure named after the former Major League Baseball pitcher.

"He's not a pitcher, and he's not a left-hander. Sherm might not have to have that kind of surgery," he said. "If he was a thrower he would."

Carroll didn't clarify what type of procedure Sherman would undergo if he doesn't have the Tommy John surgery.

Sherman hurt his elbow during the second half of Seattle's 28-22 overtime win over the Packers in the NFC title game on Jan. 18.

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METAIRIE, La. -- The injury that kept New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans out of the Pro Bowl was a partially-torn ligament in his wrist, a league source confirmed after it was first reported by WWL-TV.

Evans had surgery last month, but the specific injury was unknown. As previously reported, Evans is expected to be fully recovered in time for offseason workouts and the start of organized team activities in May.

Evans, 31, played through the injury for a portion of the season and never missed a snap or a practice. But he opted to have it fixed after the season.

Although he was selected for his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl, Evans had a down year by his lofty standards in 2014, showing more inconsistency than usual as a pass protector. And he’s due $7.5 million in salary and bonuses this year, which has led to natural speculation about whether his future could be in doubt or a pay cut could be demanded.

Both scenarios seem unlikely, though, especially since the Saints don’t have any alternatives waiting in the wings. Evans (6-foot-4, 318 pounds) remains an above-average guard, who continued to stand out many times on film this past year, especially as a run blocker. It wouldn’t be easy for the Saints to find an upgrade in the free-agent market, especially at a discounted price.

Chargers' Nick Hardwick to retire

February, 2, 2015
Feb 2

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers say 11-year veteran center Nick Hardwick will announce his retirement on Tuesday.

Hardwick had been the Chargers' starter since his rookie season of 2004. Hardwick started all 136 games he played in, including 67 straight.

He suffered a neck stinger in the 2014 opener and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. The Chargers clearly missed his veteran leadership. Due to injuries, four other players started at center last season.

The 33-year-old Hardwick was in the final year of his contract. He contemplated retiring last offseason before deciding to come back.

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PHOENIX -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas may need medical procedures to repair their injuries, and Carroll confirmed Monday that cornerback Richard Sherman will need to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left elbow.

"From what I understand, that is accurate," Carroll said of Sherman. "His will to play through this never wavered."

The surgery to repair the injury was named after former Major League Baseball pitcher Tommy John, one of the first athletes to have the procedure. Normal recovery time for a pitcher is nine to 12 months, but Carroll doesn't see that happening for Sherman.

"I really don't think so as long as Sherm doesn't want to become a late-inning reliever," Carroll said. "There's plenty of time to work all that out, and I don't think there's any concern."

Carroll also said Chancellor's knee injury may be more serious than first thought. Chancellor injured his left knee in a practice two days before the Super Bowl, but played the entire game wearing a brace. Thomas also played the entire game Sunday, two weeks after suffering a separated shoulder in the NFC Championship Game.

"For Kam Chancellor to play [in the Super Bowl], it's superhuman stuff," Carroll said. "He shouldn't have been able to go. He may have had an earlier injury from years past, and maybe some of the damage was from before. He got really banged hard on it.

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Report: Doctors cleared Edelman

February, 2, 2015
Feb 2

PHOENIX -- New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was tested for a concussion and cleared to finish Super Bowl XLIX after taking a big hit in the fourth quarter, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The person said Monday that Edelman, who caught the winning 3-yard touchdown pass, was checked on the New England sideline by medical staff and an independent neurologist. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

On Monday, coach Bill Belichick was asked whether Edelman was checked for a concussion but largely sidestepped the question.

"I'm a coach and I had a deal with our trainers and doctors. They're the medical experts and they don't call plays, and I'm the coach and I don't get involved in the medical part," he said. "When they clear players to play, then if we want to play them, we play them. The plays we call, I don't have to get approval from them. It's a good setup."

Edelman was leveled by Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor after making a reception with about 11 minutes left in New England's 28-24 win on Sunday night.

He stayed in the game for the rest of the series and caught another pass to set up Tom Brady's 5-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola that cut Seattle's lead to 24-21. 

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