It’s that time, again. The time where teams like the Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars have their veterans reconvene in the off season for Organized Team Activities (OTAs), which is allowed “voluntary” practice in helmets and shorts only.
And, as always, it’s interesting to see who is there with their teammates and maybe more so, who is not there.
In Jacksonville for example, off an AFC South Championship and two playoff wins, the Jaguars were welcoming veterans back. And QB Blake Bortles was anxious to talk to the media on several subjects:
WATCH: QB Blake Bortles and QB Coach Scott Milanovich address the media following OTA #1. https://t.co/85cIi6ug4m
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) May 22, 2018
Off of wrist surgery right after the AFC Championship Game, Bortles throwing will be scrutinized more come training camp, but for now, it’s a story, too. And he was out there tossing the ball around with his teammates.
The same cannot be said of defensive back stars Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Both players decided to skip day one of the work for coach Doug Marrone. It’s not known, if or when, they will participate in the non-mandatory part of the off season.
Meanwhile, to the South in Miami, all eyes are on the rebuilt knee of QB Ryan Tannehill, who suffered a season ending re-injury early last August in training camp.
Well, he was on the field for Adam Gase’s team participating in the offense’s limited work, and Tannehill did so without the heavy brace on his left knee:
Welcome back #17. pic.twitter.com/7EvR9gFZft
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 22, 2018
The Dolphins also had veterans like newly traded for DE Robert Quinn, and free agents RB Frank Gore, etc. were going through the paces at the Davie facility.
Finally, the Buccaneers were also on the field for day one of OTA’s, and the Bucs welcomed in speedy WR DeSean Jackson, who likes to condition alone/with his personal trainers, etc. in California. However, it was Jackson who earlier talked about needing to do some off season work with QB Jameis Winston and fellow receiver Mike Evans And, Jackson feels that he needed to do more with them in an OTA.
The one slight surprise is that newly acquired DE Jason Pierre-Paul skipped Tuesday’s work and head coach Dirk Koetter didn’t have much of an explanation. This is because there are players who are veterans, like JPP, who don’t have to be there for voluntary work.
So, once more, it’s voluntary off season work with your team. Do coaches want all the players that are under contract there and ready? Sure they do.
Is it realistic that all veterans think it’s important and want to be there for “voluntary” off season work?
Of course not, and the names will come and go until most of them show up for involuntary mini-camp or the big enchillada, training camp itself.
New Jersey authorities charge Janoris Jenkins brother in homicide at his home
It only took a little over 24 hours for authorities in Bergen County, New Jersey to make an arrest in the homicide at the home of New York Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins. And as it turns out, Jenkins older brother William is being charged aggravated manslaughter in the death of 25-year-old Roosevelt Rene.
Rene, who had been staying at the Jenkins home as a guest and friend of the family, was found by a worker in the basement of the home on Tuesday morning.
The 34 year old older brother, William Jenkins had been taken into custody early Tuesday in New Jersey and was sent to Ontario County, New York on a parole violation. He is in the process of being extradited across the New York/New Jersey state lines to Bergen County to face the manslaughter charge.
JUST IN: Janoris Jenkins’ brother charged with manslaughter https://t.co/c3u8x4UE3M
— New York Post (@nypost) June 27, 2018
On Monday evening the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Rene had been strangled or suffocated to death.
Meanwhile. Janoris Jenkins, who just completed his second season with the Giants after signing as a free agent, is reportedly still in Florida. And, he has yet to comment either himself or through a spokesperson about the death at his home.
Janoris Jenkins was not believed to have been home this weekend as neighbors reported that he and his girlfriend had gone to Florida two weeks ago after Giants mini-camp at concluded.
The Giants have had no comment other than they are monitoring the situation.
As we wrote on Monday, Jenkins is a former star at Pahokee High School where they won the state championship and was part of the Gators National Championship season of 2008 as a freshman in Gainesville.
Is there a referee crisis for the NFL?
Over the course of the past couple of weeks a story has developed that isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it probably should.
Whether or not Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski are happy or unhappy with the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick is also a big deal.
And yes, whether or not players, like Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, can get new contracts or will be holding out come training camp next month is again, a big deal.
However, we haven’t seen nearly as much coverage on something that is also very significant once the game start being played. There are four former NFL referees from a year ago that have all resigned/retired and that’s a big number all at once.
As is laid out here, with the NBC official announcement Thursday that former referee Terry McAulay will be joining NBC Sunday Night Football in the booth, that means three of them will be in the Network TV booth this fall:
Now official: Terry McAulay to NBC. Gene Steratore to CBS. Per sources: Jeff Triplette to ESPN to replace Gerry Austin, who joined Raiders.
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) June 27, 2018
There has already been some eyebrow raising at Triplette going to Monday Night Football as a rules expert for ESPN, but they obviously had a need when Gerry Austin agreed to go join former MNF analyst Jon Gruden in a newly created position with the Raiders.
And as for Steratore, who worked Superbowl 52 last year, he will serve not only in the booth with the Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, but will be used as a college basketball rules analyst this winter for CBS’ hoops coverage. He’s shown above dealing with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll being on the field and flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct in their December loss at the Jaguars.
The fourth referee is Ed Hochuli, who is retiring and yet to have a TV role, if there is one for him.
The bigger point is that everyone of these head referees are long time veterans and represent approximately 25-30% of the referees who work weekends in the NFL.
And in the cases of Steratore and McAulay, they are younger than Triplette and Hochuli, and could have conceivably been referees another 10 years or so, had they wanted.
So, why didn’t they want to continue?
Former supervisor of the NFL officials and now Fox TV rules analyst, Mike Pereira, has repeatedly expressed that due to the micromanaging that HD replay reviews have caused, that many of the “rank and file” are disgruntled and discouraged.
And, if several on field officials can follow his lead and end up with a high paying network TV gig, then who can begrudge them?
Still, we at F.F.I. can’t hope but wonder if this kind of turnover with head referees will have some effect with the new ones taking over botching calls or situations come this fall.
Former Bucs first round pick McCants arrested, again
The sad tale of former Buccaneers number one pick Keith McCants continues, as early Monday morning he was arrested, yet again, this time in St. Petersburg for drug possession.
McCants, who was taken fourth overall as the Bucs first round pick in 1990, was booked in the Pinellas County jail for felony possession of crack cocaine.
According to jail records, this is the ninth different time that McCants has been arrested on some charge in the Tampa Bay area in the last eight years.
McCants, now 50 years old, never lived up to the billing of being taken in the top five, as he played only three seasons in Tampa Bay,. He battled weight and knee problems and only registered 12 sacks in three seasons. He also played for the Oilers and the Cardinals in subsequent seasons, but was out of the NFL by 1995.
McCants has repeatedly tried to get his life in order, including giving motivational speeches and writing an essay in the Sporting News in 2011 warning younger players about dangers with drugs, etc. and his troubles.
The former Alabama All American was also featured on the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Broke” in 2012, where he detailed how he had lost all of his $4.5 million dollars from his playing career.
McCants was booked at 4:24 a.m. in the Pinellas County Jail Monday morning and bonded out at $2,000 on the felony charge for drug possession, and also for driving with a revoked or suspended license.
One of McCants previous arrests was for driving with a suspended license in January of this year and he was to have stood trial on July 10th on that charge.
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