NFL Week 12 News: Steelers release LeGarrette Blount, Colts sign Josh Cribbs, and Cardinals roll

November 19, 2014

In a move seemingly designed to improve team chemistry, the Pittsburgh Steelers released running back LeGarrette Blount, the team announced this week.

“We believe the decision to release LeGarrette is in the best interest of the organization and wish him the best of luck,” Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said.

The move followed Blount's decision to leave the field early during the Steelers recent 27-24 win over the Titans on Monday Night Football.  The Steelers overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to earn the win. 

Other outlets have reported that Blount also left the locker room early after the win.

Blount's conduct apparently was prompted by his displeasure over decreased playing time and touches, as running back Le'Veon Bell received the bulk of the workload, rushing for 204 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries.  Bell’s 204 yards are the fourth-most ever on Monday Night Football, and the fifth 200-yard rushing game in Monday Night Football history.

Blount did not have any rushing attempts in the game.

Blount is a big, physical running back who joined the Steelers as a free agent on March 28. He played in each of the team’s 11 games in 2014, rushing for 266 yards on 65 carries with two touchdowns and added six catches for 36 yards.

Following Blount's departure, the Steelers promoted rookie running back Josh Harris to the 53-man roster, the team also announced.

Harris joined the Steelers on July 29 before being signed to the team’s Practice Squad on August 31. He played collegiately at Wake Forest and went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Colts Sign Josh Cribbs to Boost Special Teams

Looking to add some life to the team's return game and to perhaps give Andrew Luck another weapon, the Indianapolis Colts signed free agent return specialist Josh Cribbs. 

The 6-1, 192-pound Cribbs, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection (2007, 2009, 2012), two-time NFL All-Pro selection (2007, 2009), and a member of the NFL All-Decade Team (2000s). He leads all active players in career kickoff returns and yards, and ranks fifth in NFL history in combined kickoff/punt return touchdowns with 11.

Cribbs ranks third all-time in kickoff return yards (10,505), tied for fifth in kickoff returns (407) and fifth (12,755) in combined kick/punt return yards. He shares an NFL record with nine other players for kickoff return touchdowns in a game, with two in a 2009 win at Kansas City. He also owns two of the top four days ever recorded by an NFL returner: 306 combined kickoff/punt return yards in a 2007 contest against Baltimore and 305 in a 2009 trip to Kansas City.

Now in his 10th NFL season (2005-2014), Cribbs has returned 407 kickoffs for 10,505 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with 203 punt returns for 2,250 yards and three touchdowns. Offensively, he has started 31-of-130 career games played and has totaled 109 receptions for 1,167 yards and seven touchdowns, while rushing 141 times for 808 yards and two touchdowns.

The Colts also signed tight end Weslye Saunders to the active roster, placed running back Ahmad Bradshaw on Injured Reserve, waived outside linebacker Victor Butler, signed running back Michael Hill to the practice squad, and released wide receiver Eric Thomas from the practice squad.

Bradshaw played in 10 games (one start) this season and recorded 90 rushing attempts for 425 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with 38 receptions for 300 yards and a career-high six receiving touchdowns. His receiving touchdown total led all running backs in 2014 and tied for the fifth-highest single-season total by a running back in franchise history. For his career, Bradshaw has tallied 1,052 rushes for 4,843 yards and 36 touchdowns and 177 receptions for 1,429 yards and nine touchdowns in 97 games played (36 starts).

NFL Rookie Watch: Week 11 News

Tampa Bay rookie wide receiver Mike Evans (Round 1, No. 7 overall) again proved that he is the real deal, grabbing seven catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 27-7 win at Washington. Evans became the youngest player in NFL history to have a 200-yard receiving game (21 years, 87 days old).

The performance marked Evans’ third consecutive game with at least seven catches, 100 receiving yards, and a touchdown catch, the first rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

In addition, Cincinnati rookie running back Jeremy Hill (Round 2, No. 55 overall) and Houston rookie running back Alfred Blue (Round 6, No. 181 overall) each rushed for over 150 yards on Sunday, becoming the first rookies from the same college (LSU) to rush for at least 150 yards on the same day in NFL history.

Hill, who rushed for 154 yards in Week 9 against Jacksonville, is the second rookie in franchise history with two 150-yard rushing games, joining Paul Robinson (1968).

Blue tied the franchise rookie record for rushing yards (Steve Slaton, 156 yards vs. Indianapolis on November 16, 2008), and set a single-game club record for carries (36), surpassing the previous mark set by teammate Arian Foster (33 attempts in two different games).

Finally, San Francisco rookie linebacker Chris Borland (Round 3, No. 77 overall) had 12 tackles and two interceptions in the 49ers’ 16-10 win at the New York Giants. Borland is the first rookie linebacker in franchise history with two interceptions in a game.

Arizona Cardinals are on a Mission

The Arizona Cardinals own the league’s best record at 9-1. It is only the second time in franchise history the Cardinals have opened a season with nine wins in their first 10 games, joining the 1948 Chicago Cardinals.

“It feels great to be 9-1,” said 11-year veteran and star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who last week became the second-youngest player in NFL history to reach 12,000 receiving yards. “We have a long road ahead of us, but methodically every single week we’re taking care of business. That’s what we set out to do.”

At 9-1, Arizona sits atop the NFL standings. It is the first time since the end of the 1948 regular season that the Cardinals have sole possession of the league’s best record at least 10 games into a season.

“We’re 9-1 but nothing’s won and nothing’s lost yet,” said head coach Bruce Arians. “We could lose it all in the next four or five weeks. We could win it all in the next four or five weeks. But we can only win one at a time.”

Through the first 11 weeks of the season, the Cardinals have built a two-game lead in the race for the NFC’s top seed and own a three-game lead in the division. Arizona is the only team in the league yet to lose a conference game (7-0).

“Our goal is to get in the playoffs,” said quarterback Drew Stanton, who is 3-1 this season as the team’s starter. “That’s been the goal from Day One. That’s still our mindset. I’m going day by day. The rest of it will take care of itself if we continue to take care of business each and every week like we should.”

Arizona has enjoyed success at University of Phoenix Stadium, where the team is a perfect 6-0. The Cardinals are the only team in the NFL with a 6-0 home record and one of only five teams yet to lose at home this season. This marks the first time since 1970 in which the Cardinals have won their first six home games to begin a season.

“We have to protect the nest,” said wide receiver Michael Floyd, who had two touchdowns in the team’s Week 11 win over Detroit, about the team’s home-field advantage. “This is our home and no one can come in here and win. B.A. (Bruce Arians) says to us every single time we go out on the field that no one can come into our house and outperform us.”

The primary reason Arizona has played so well this year has been its outstanding defense.  The D, led by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, has forced 20 turnovers this season, including 15 interceptions, the second-most in the league. Arizona has also limited turnovers on the offensive side of the ball and is tied for second in the NFL with a +11 turnover differential.

“Coach Bowles is definitely one of the smartest defensive coordinators I have ever been around,” said star cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is the only player in the league with at least 10 interceptions (14) and five return touchdowns (five) since 2011. “He does a great job at preparing us throughout the week and getting us in position to make plays. He puts guys in position to make plays. It’s a different guy each and every week that’s making that big play for us.”

In addition, Arians has done an outstanding job leading the team.  This past weekend, he did not limit the playbook for backup quarterback Drew Stanton, showing confidence in the signal-caller that he will have to rely on for the remainder of the year now that starter Carson Palmer is out with an ACL tear.

In his second season as Arizona’s head coach, Arians has compiled a 19-7 (.731) record. His 19 wins are the most by any head coach in franchise history though his first 26 games. Including his 9-3 record as the interim head coach with Indianapolis in 2012, Arians has a 28-10 (.737) record as an NFL head coach.

“He probably isn’t your prototypical NFL coach but that doesn’t matter to our players and it doesn’t matter to our fans,” says team president Michael Bidwill. “What matters is we’ve got a great football coach.”

AFC North Division Race is Going Down to the Wire

All four teams in the AFC North are currently within a half game of first place in the division following the Steelers’ 27-24 win at Tennessee on Monday Night Football. Cincinnati (6-3-1) holds the slightest of edges over Pittsburgh (7-4), Baltimore (6-4), and Cleveland (6-4) for the top spot in the division.

“It has always been competitive, but this year you are really seeing the youth and talent that has been on these teams stepping up and growing into those roles,” said Cincinnati tackle Andrew Whitworth. “It’s going to be a heck of a challenge to win this division.”

The AFC North is the first division in which every team is at least two games above .500 at any point in the season since the 1935 NFL Western Division.

“When you play against playoff-caliber teams, it definitely helps you,” said Pittsburgh safety Will Allen. “Being in a tougher division brings better competition and it brings a greater preparation for what’s to come.”

The four AFC North clubs have combined for a 17-7-1 record (.700) against non-division opponents in 2014, the best of any division in the NFL.

“I probably feel the same way I felt about it when the season opened, this is the best division in football,” said Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh. “That’s only going to serve to make us all better in the end.”

With six weeks remaining in the NFL regular season and 12 teams in the AFC sporting records of .500 or better, all four AFC North teams are in a strong position to challenge for playoff spots.

“The meaningful games come at the end of November and December,” said Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only seven divisions have finished with a combined winning percentage of .700 or better outside the division. Three of those divisions produced that season’s Super Bowl champions, including the 2013 NFC West. All seven of the divisions to accomplish the feat have featured at least two playoff teams, with four sending three teams to the postseason.

The Seattle Seahawks, who were one of three 10-win teams in the NFC West last year, finished with an NFC-best 13-3 record en route to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history. The 2007 NFC East also produced the Super Bowl XLII-champion New York Giants (10-6), one of six Wild Card playoff teams to win a Super Bowl title.

By Staff of and news services

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...