New York Giants

Practice Squad Updates: Wednesday

A number of practice squad players have received promotions to their respective clubs’ 53-man rosters this week, or have been signed by a rival club. As such, we should expect plenty of signings today, as teams fill in their openings. Here’s the latest:

  • After his suspension was lifted by the league, fullback Nikita Whitlock signed on with the Giants‘ practice squad, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (via Twitter).
  • Chargers taxi squad guard Craig Watts has been suspended four games for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances, according to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego (via Twitter). To replace him, the Bolts signed former San Diego State offensive lineman Bryce Quigley (link).
  • Wide receiver and kick returner Greg Jenkins, who spent last season with the Raiders, has returned to the club, signing today with the taxi squad, per Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link). The team has since confirmed the signing, tweeting that defensive back Vernon Kearney has joined the practice squad as well.
  • The Saints have filled the final opening on their practice squad by signing kicker Dustin Hopkins, head coach Sean Payton confirmed today to reporters (Twitter link via Chad Sabadie of FOX8).

Earlier updates:

  • The Vikings have signed rookie guard Jordan McCray to their practice squad to fill the spot vacated when Ahmad Dixon received a promotion, tweets Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota will have another spot to fill after losing cornerback Chris Greenwood to the Ravens.
  • In addition to making changes to their 53-man roster today, the Patriots also tweaked their practice squad, adding quarterback Garrett Gilbert, according to a team release.
  • The Packers have filled out their practice squad by signing safety Jean Fanor to the unit, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Fanor played for the Arena League’s Tampa Bay Storm this year, setting a team record for tackles in a season.
  • Former sixth-round guard Jon Halapio has signed with the Broncos‘ practice squad, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).
  • Having entered the day with three openings on their practice squad, the Dolphins added a pair of players to the unit, signing defensive end Emmanuel Dieke and guard Mark Asper, according to Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (via Twitter).
  • The Falcons have filled the 10th and final spot on their practice squad by signing cornerback Jordan Mabin, the team announced today in a press release. The opening was created earlier in the week when the club promoted cornerback Ricardo Allen to the 53-man roster.
  • The Steelers have also filled out their taxi squad, signing former South Carolina offensive lineman Ronald Patrick, tweets Burt Lauten, the team’s PR rep.
  • Defensive back Varmah Sonie, who played this year for Portland’s Arena League team, has signed to the Buccaneers‘ practice squad, per Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (Twitter link).
  • The Panthers have signed linebacker Horace Miller to their practice squad, giving them a full 10-man unit, tweets David Newton of ESPN.com. Miller was cut by Carolina over the weekend and has since cleared waivers.
  • Offensive tackle Tyler Hoover, who started the season with a brief stint on the Colts‘ practice squad and has since spent time with the Eagles as well, has rejoined Indianapolis’ squad, according to Mike Chappell of RTV6 (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Draft, Rolle, Cobb, McCoy

We’re still about four and a half months away from the 2015 NFL draft, and a week and a half from even knowing what the draft order will look like, but that didn’t stop ESPN’s Todd McShay (Insider link) from publishing his first mock draft of the season today. McShay’s first ’15 mock has the top two quarterback prospects coming off the board first, with the Buccaneers selecting Marcus Mariota at No. 1 and the Titans nabbing Jameis Winston at No. 2. The Jets, meanwhile, picking sixth overall, land standout Alabama receiver Amari Cooper in McShay’s scenario, but would still need to find a quarterback to get him the ball.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Calling the Giants a “great fit” for him, safety Antrel Rolle indicated today that he’s hoping for a three-year offer from the team this offseason as he approaches free agency, writes ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. According to Graziano, Rolle believes that if he doesn’t receive such an offer from the Giants, he could get it from another team.
  • In his weekly ESPN Milwaukee radio show, Aaron Rodgers suggested it’s “important” that the Packers lock up wide receiver – and prospective free agent – Randall Cobb (link via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com).
  • The Fritz Pollard Alliance has identified nine minority coaching candidates for NFL teams to consider this offseason, including Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has the details.
  • Washington quarterback Colt McCoy says he wants to return to the team next season, but he’ll almost certainly be seeking a raise, writes Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com. Tandler expects Washington to be McCoy’s first choice, but points out that he likely won’t give a “hometown discount” to a team he has only been with for a year.
  • The NFL has lifted the suspension of free agent fullback Nikita Whitlock, who received a four-game ban from the league last month, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Minor Moves: Wednesday

Here are Wednesday’s minor roster moves from around the league, with the latest transactions added to the top of the list throughout the day:

  • Cut yesterday by the Jets, defensive back Josh Thomas has already found a new home, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, who tweets that the Lions have claimed Thomas off waivers. Thomas will take the roster spot vacated by LaAdrian Waddle, who was placed on injured reserve today, as noted below.
  • Safety Josh Bush is receiving a promotion to the Broncos‘ active roster from the club’s practice squad, reports Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com adds (via Twitter) that the club is also re-signing tight end Dominique Jones, who was let go earlier in the week. Denver, after making multiple roster moves yesterday, had two roster spots available, so no corresponding move is required to clear room.

Earlier updates:

  • A pair of player will make the leap from the Jaguars‘ practice squad to their active roster, per Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, who tweets that quarterback Stephen Morris and safety Matt Daniels have been promoted. The Jags had one opening, and created another by placing linebacker Khairi Fortt on injured reserve with a hamstring issue.
  • The Ravens are back up to 53 players on their roster after signing cornerback Chris Greenwood off the Vikings’ practice squad, tweets Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Greenwood is the latest player added to a secondary that has been decimated by injuries this season and lost Asa Jackson and Terrence Brooks in Week 15.
  • The Lions are placing offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle on the injured reserve list due to his partially torn ACL, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter).
  • After waiving tackle J’Marcus Webb yesterday, the Vikings will fill the open roster spot by signing safety Ahmad Dixon from off their practice squad, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. The well-traveled Dixon has already spent time with the Vikes, Dolphins, and Bears since being drafted by the Cowboys in May.
  • According to agent Howard Shatsky (Twitter link), his client, tight end Jerome Cunningham, has received a promotion from the Giants‘ practice squad to their active roster. The team has yet to officially confirm the call-up, but there’s an available roster spot at the moment, so it wouldn’t require a corresponding move.
  • The Buccaneers, another team with an open roster spot, have signed defensive end Lawrence Sidbury as their 53rd man, the team announced today in a press release. The ex-Falcon, who was released by the Texans in August, replaces cornerback Crezdon Butler, whom the Bucs cut yesterday.

Giants Sign Two Players, Place Two On IR

The exodus of Giants players to the team’s injured reserve list continued today, as linebacker Jacquian Williams and offensive lineman James Brewer became the 21st and 22nd Giants to land on IR, tweets Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. To replace the latest two roster casualties, the Giants promoted defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton from their practice squad and signed guard Adam Gettis from off the Steelers’ taxi squad, per Graziano (via Twitter).

While Brewer didn’t play a significant role for the Giants this season, Williams was one of the team’s starting linebackers, logging 571 defensive snaps on the year. Pro Football Focus’ overall grade (subscription required) for Williams was negative, but that figure was influenced in large part by a poor pass coverage rating — the linebacker was above average against the run, according to PFF. Both Brewer and Williams are suffering from concussions, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).

Vacchiano adds (via Twitter) that the Giants completed their series of moves by replacing Hamilton on their practice squad with defensive back Thomas Gordon.

New York Links: Coughlin, Idzik, Ryan

The Jets and Giants are well out of playoff contention themselves, but should have an opportunity to play spoiler over the next couple weeks. The AFC East cellar-dwellers are preparing to host the Patriots this Sunday, and an upset victory would significantly impact New England’s quest for the conference’s No. 1 seed. Meanwhile, the Giants close their season in Week 17 with a game against the Eagles, whose postseason hopes could hinge on winning that game.

As we wait to see if either the Jets or Giants can trip up a division rival in the season’s final two weeks, let’s round up a few Tuesday links out of New York….

  • Giants ownership has been mum about Tom Coughin‘s future with the team, and that’s just fine with the head coach, as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post details. Asked if his job status occupies his thoughts, Coughlin replied, “No, it doesn’t. We’ve got two games to go and we want to be the best we can be in these next two games.”
  • Jordan Raanan of NJ.com identifies five players on the Giants‘ roster who qualify as potential building blocks, led by Odell Beckham, who is “already the best player on the team,” in Raanan’s view. One of the five is free-agent-to-be Jason Pierre-Paul, who won’t come cheap, but should be a priority for the club this offseason.
  • Meanwhile, players like defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and cornerback Prince Amukamara remain under contract with the Giants for the 2015 season, but the team may need to rework or extend those deals, among others, says Patricia Traina of Bleacher Report.
  • While you can point to several missteps made within the last year by general manager John Idzik, letting Darrelle Revis go to the Patriots when the cornerback had interest in returning to the Jets was the GM’s worst move, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
  • Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post outlines several potential landing spots for Rex Ryan, if and when he’s let go by the Jets, identifying several head coaching jobs likely to open up. While Ryan has reportedly told friends he’s interested in a television job, and wouldn’t want to work as a defensive coordinator, Cannizzaro thinks the Giants‘ DC job could be an ideal fit, which sounds like a long shot to me.

Extra Points: JPP, Cameron, Gruden, Locker

Jason Pierre-Paul’s walk year spike may cost the Giants, writes Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. After performing solidly but not spectacularly for the bulk of the season, Pierre-Paul is putting on a great show down the home stretch, just in time to increase his worth. “That’s one of those things that go unnoticed, but I think people are starting to realize he gets tremendous sack numbers but his sack numbers, just because they went down, they don’t realize how much of a hustle player he is,’’ said second-year defensive end Damontre Moore. More from around the NFL..

  • Not everyone is looking strong heading into free agency. Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap looked at three players who hurt their stock with their play on Sunday, including Browns tight end Jordan Cameron and Ravens running back Justin Forsett.
  • Jon Gruden openly wonders if the Bears should have kept Josh McCown and ditched Jay Cutler, as Mike Sando of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req’d) writes. While Cutler has struggled, I would note that McCown hasn’t exactly shined in Tampa Bay.
  • Given his issues with durability as well as the fundamentals of the position, Jake Locker will have to settle for a backup job as a potential reclamation project in 2015, writes Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. The Titans quarterback was placed on IR earlier today.
  • With many issues still to be settled, it sounds unlikely that the league will put a team in Los Angeles in time to play in 2015, writes Peter King of The MMQB.
  • In an interview on WBBM-AM 780, Bears GM Phil Emery spoke about last week’s controversy involving offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune has the goods.
  • In case you were worried, the Super Bowl will go on, despite the failure of Congress to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes.

NFC Notes: Cardinals, Garrett, Buccaneers

The NFL playoff picture cleared up in some ways in Week 15, with teams like the 49ers and Vikings officially falling out of contention. But with just two games left on the schedule for each team after tonight, several clubs remain in the hunt for the conference’s No. 1 seed and homefield advantage. Intra-divisional showdowns will be key over the next two weeks, with the Cardinals preparing to host the Seahawks in Week 16, and the Lions and Packers gearing up for a Week 17 game at Lambeau Field.

While we wait to see how the NFC standings shake out, and which contender is left out of the postseason, let’s check in on a few items from around the conference….

  • Appearing on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM today, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim indicated that his team will add a quarterback to its practice squad “for emergency purposes” (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). The club intends to stick with Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas on its active roster, while Drew Stanton recovers from his knee injury.
  • While Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stopped short of publicly announcing that Jason Garrett would return for next season, an extension for the head coach seems like something of a formality at this point, writes Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s very obvious that he is doing very well and his hard work is paying off,” Jones said of Garrett.
  • The Buccaneers are in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 overall pick for the 2015 draft, which would give them the opportunity to select a quarterback like Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. However, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk suggests that Tampa Bay should focus on building a roster with a great defense and a strong running game rather than continuing to search for a franchise quarterback. Smith argues that allocating money and resources to areas that other teams aren’t necessarily prioritizing, rather than playing catch-up at QB, could give the club a competitive edge.
  • With six sacks and 13 solo tackles in his last three games, Giants defender Jason Pierre-Paul is finishing strong as he approaches potential free agency, writes Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com. Pierre-Paul and Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant top Fitzgerald’s list of players in contract years who improved their stocks this week.

Giants Leaning Toward Retaining Coughlin

Two weeks ago, the Giants were coming off their seventh straight loss, and it looked likely that the team would be moving on from head coach Tom Coughlin at season’s end. Since then, the team has recorded dominated victories over Tennessee and Washington, and while those aren’t exactly the most impressive opponents, Coughlin’s future in New York suddenly looks a little more stable.

According to Steve Serby of the New York Post, the odds of Coughlin returning to coach the Giants for 2015 have “skyrocketed dramatically,” with one source telling Serby that there’s a 99.9% chance that Coughlin will be back. Serby lays out a number of reasons why Giants ownership may be inclined to keep Coughlin in charge of the club — the 2014 team has been ravaged by injuries, stability is a priority for the franchise, and Coughlin is still Eli Manning‘s preferred head coach.

Meanwhile, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News agrees that “there’s at least a decent chance” Coughlin will keep his job, and rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is a big reason for that. While that may be oversimplifying things, Beckham’s play in recent weeks has shown that if he’s paired with a healthy Victor Cruz and the team restocks its offensive line, the offense appears to have a very bright future.

That Giants’ offense struggled to get points on the board at times earlier in the year, but Manning, Coughlin, and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo all seem to be getting comfortable with McAdoo’s West Coast scheme, which was implemented this year. The organization reportedly views McAdoo as Coughlin’s eventual successor, but the OC likely won’t be ready to take over in ’15, so it makes sense that New York would lean on Coughlin for at least one more season.

Giants ownership is expected to make a formal decision on Coughlin after the end of the regular season.

Coaching Notes: Harbaugh, Coughlin, Philbin

Whether or not the 49erswindow is closed, head coach Jim Harbaugh’s time with the team may be in its waning moments. His relationship with CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke has deteriorated, and questions have arisen over his future with the team since before the 2014 season.

Harbaugh expects to meet with the organization about his future, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.

“I’m always available to sit down with the owner and general manager, absolutely,” Harbaugh said. “Yes, at some point I expect that.”

Here are some other notes regarding coaches on the hot seat:

  • Giants‘ head coach Tom Coughlin has long been rumored to be at the end of his rope as the team’s head coach, due to his advanced age and the team’s poor performance. Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork.com believes coach Coughlin deserves one more year. O’Connor believes that his two Super Bowl rings have earned him the benefit of the doubt, and believes the organization owes him the opportunity to coach the phenomenal rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in 2015.
  • After being blown out by the Patriots, the Dolphins should consider moving on from head coach Joe Philbin at season’s end, writes Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. With the team’s playoff hopes nearly out the window, Salguero argues that anything short of two wins and an unlikely playoff berth would cement the season as another disappointment.
  • Buccaneers‘ head coach Lovie Smith has also been underwhelming, but the team would be unlikely to move on from him so soon, writes Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Smith is in the first year of a five-year deal, and it would be unusual for the organization to make a move so early into the contract.

Coaching Updates: Coughlin, Philbin, Broncos

Let’s take a look at a few items regarding two head coaches who are on the hot seat and two more who might join the head coaching ranks in 2015:

  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Giants head coach Tom Coughlin wants to coach for another season, and there is no guarantee that New York will fire its long-time sideline general. Steve Serby of the New York Post adds that it is not time for Coughlin to be replaced.
  • Rapoport tweets that Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin‘s fate will be determined by how his team finishes the 2014 season. If Miami suffers another December swoon, Philbin’s job will be in jeopardy. Rapoport adds (via Twitter) that if Philbin is fired, the team does not plan to pursue Jim Harbaugh, contrary to numerous reports stating otherwise.
  • Mike Klis of the Denver Post writes that the Broncos can expect to replace both offensive coordinator Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio after this season, as both are prime candidates to land head coaching gigs.