Hines Ward

Extra Points: Jets, Clowney, Steelers, Ozigbo

Hines Ward is back in the NFL, this time as a coach. The legendary former Steelers receiver will join the Jets as an offensive assistant, the team announced in a release. Ward had been a coaching intern, and after impressing during camp got invited back as a member of the full-time staff. “He’s going to be an offensive assistant, he’s going to be working with the wideouts with Shawn so I think that’s a great addition for us. He’s done a lot of really good things with that group, helping out with those guys,” head coach Adam Gase said.

Ward has been working under receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, and that will continue. Ward finished his decorated career with 1,000 receptions and 85 touchdowns, winning two Super Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP Award. He also served as an executive with the now defunct AAF. He’s already made a positive impression on presumed number one Jets receiver Robby Anderson. “He’s a great resource because he’s done it at a high level consistently,” Anderson said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer so what more can I ask for? I’m picking his brain, and he’s more so telling me than I’m asking him, and I’m just staying on top of him. He’s just trying to find ways to get me better in each way.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Jadeveon Clowney was almost a Seahawk all the way back in the spring. The Texans and Seahawks first discussed a Clowney trade before the draft, Seattle GM John Schneider tells Albert Breer of The MMQB. However, there were logistical roadblocks – namely, extension talks with quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner. Meanwhile, the April price tag for Clowney was too high for the Seahawks’ taste. Over the weekend, the Seahawks acquired Clowney for a 2020 third-rounder, defensive end Barkevious Mingo, and linebacker Jacob Martin.
  • The Browns got tight end Ricky Seals-Jones off waivers from the Cardinals this weekend, and they weren’t the only AFC North team interested. The Steelers submitted a claim for the Texas A&M product as well, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Seals-Jones has shown flashed during his two years in the league, but the 2017 UDFA fell out of favor with the new coaching staff in Arizona. The Steelers have Vance McDonald but not a ton behind him on the depth chart, so their interest makes some sense.
  • Before he was claimed by the Jaguars, the Browns and Lions also tried to snag running back Devine Ozigbo off waivers, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Ozigbo turned in a solid preseason with the Saints, but was unable to make their final cut on Saturday. Detroit was only one spot behind Jacksonville in the waiver order, so they just barely missed getting their guy. Ozigbo is an undrafted rookie from Nebraska.
  • Undrafted rookie offensive tackle Ryan Pope signed with the 49ers’ practice squad earlier today, and he was apparently in high demand. Pope had practice squad offers from four teams after getting cut by the Lions, a source told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. Pope played his college ball at San Diego State, where he earned All-Mountain West second-team honors as a senior.

 

AFC East Notes: Fitzpatrick, Jets, Bills

Ryan Fitzpatrick is well on his way to starting for a third AFC East franchise. The 15th-year veteran continues to hold off Josh Rosen for the Dolphins‘ starting quarterback job. “It’s pretty clear to me that Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the way,” Brian Flores said Tuesday (via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, on Twitter). Rosen was viewed as the clear underdog for the Week 1 role coming into camp. Fitzpatrick has not been a regular starter since his two-year Jets tenure concluded after the 2016 season, while Rosen started 13 games for an overmatched Cardinals team last year.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Jets entered camp thin at cornerback, but their top offseason investment at this spot has not impressed coaches thus far. Former Falcons slot corner Brian Poole reported to Jets camp in less-than-ideal shape, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Adam Gase did not single the fifth-year player out as one of the veterans on which the Jets will rely, with the new HC only mentioning Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts in that regard. Gang Green does not have much depth behind its top three. The Jets signed Poole to a one-year, $3MM deal ($2MM guaranteed).
  • Now two former NFL starting wide receivers are giving Jets wideouts guidance. In addition to full-time receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, the Jets brought in Hines Ward as a coaching intern, per Cimini. Ward, who began working with the Jets on Monday, served in this role with the Steelers two summers ago and was part of the one-and-done Alliance of American Football. It appears Ward’s primary pupil will be Robby Anderson, Cimini adds.
  • Bills third-round pick Devin Singletary is stationed behind one of the most veteran-heavy backfield duos in NFL history, with the Bills adding Frank Gore to their LeSean McCoy-led group. But Singletary is receiving plenty of opportunities in camp. The former Florida Atlantic star has worked with Buffalo’s starters “a ton” during camp, Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). While Louis-Jacques adds that this is partially to conserve McCoy and Gore, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk adds more fuel to the speculation Singletary could induce a McCoy pay-cut request or push him off the roster. McCoy (career-low 3.2 yards per carry in 2018) being a departure candidate has been floated at multiple junctures this offseason. Singletary rushed for 66 touchdowns in three college seasons.
  • Dolphins first-round pick Christian Wilkins may have an interesting side job in his first NFL season. The 315-pound defensive tackle has worked on offense as well to start camp, Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post notes. This would presumably mean a role as a fullback, but OC Chad O’Shea did not specify.

Coaching Notes: Lions, Cardinals, Bears

Matt Patricia is already adding to his new coaching staff. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Lions have hired Paul Pasqualoni. The coach’s role in Detroit is unclear, although Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com wonders if he could be the team’s new defensive coordinator.

Pasqualoni, 68, has bounced between the NFL and NCAA during his long coaching career. In the NFL, he served as defensive coordinator of the Dolphins and Cowboys, and he was head coach at Syracuse for more than a decade. In fact, Patricia coached under Pasqualoni with the Orange during the early 2000s. Pasqualoni spent the past two seasons serving as the defensive line coach at Boston College.

Let’s take a look at some more coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • The Cardinals have hired a college coach to fill out their staff. Sporting News’ Alex Marvez reports that the team has hired Charlie Harbison as their new cornerbacks coach. The 59-year-old last served as the co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach for the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cardinals have also hired Kirby Wilson as their new running backs coach. Wilson spent the past two seasons in the same role with the Browns.
  • Former Steelers great Hines Ward was hoping to be considered for the team’s wide receivers coach job before it went to Darryl DrakeMarvez writes. Ward, who currently works as a contributor for CNN Sports, remains interested in coaching. “There was some interest, but I can’t hire myself,” Ward said. “If the opportunity presents itself, it’s something where I’d have to sit down and seriously think about it.
  • Following news that Bears coach Matt Nagy had added Brad Childress to his staff as an offensive consultant, it sounds like the coach isn’t finished with his hires. Adam Caplan tweets that the Bears are also expected to hire Brian Ginn as an offensive assistant. Ginn was at Delaware for almost two decades, where he served as offensive coordinator (among many other roles).
  • The Bears are also expected to hire Bill Shuey as a defensive assistant, reports Caplan (via Twitter). Shuey previously served as the Eagles linebackers coach, where he coached alongside Nagy. Shuey also had a stint as defensive coordinator at Division III Widener for a handful of seasons.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.