Future for Safety Following the NFL Concussion Settlement

Player safety has always been a big worry in football. Due to the physicality of the sport, there are often injuries and big hits throughout the duration of a game. This hasn’t derailed the popularity of the sport in America, however. 120.8 million people tuned into last year’s dramatic Super Bowl. The NFL has tried to implement various strategies throughout the last few years to combat the potential risk of serious injuries, particularly concussions and avoid making sporting headlines for the wrong reasons. Twitter has become the "go to" place for sports fans to get sports updates directly from players, Niles Paul spoke of his recent injury via twitter and it reminds us just how gruesome this sport really is.

The NFL has introduced the Concussion Settlement to compensate players who have been severely affected by head injuries but the bill has been put on hold for the time being.

There have been a number of concussion incidents in the NFL in the past few years. Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor collided with San Francisco’s Vernon Davis during a game in 2012 – an incident that caused Davis to miss multiple matches due to the NFL’s concussion protocol. Just last season, Wes Welker suffered a major concussion in preseason and was ruled out for a number of games too. The implications in the short-term don’t seem severe but the long-term health effects can be.

In theory, the Concussion Settlement is designed to provide closure and support to those players and the families who have been affected by concussion injuries while playing in the NFL. However, the limited careers that these players have means that it is vital for NFL stars to remain healthy for as long as possible and concussions are playing an increasing role in shortening careers. In fact, players have recently retired due to the worry of long-term health impacts from concussion-related injuries.

One of the controversial topics on the settlement was the exclusion of CTE diagnoses. CTE is chronic traumatic encephalopathy and over 50 football players have been diagnosed with the illness. Under the current rules and regulations of the NFL’s concussion settlement, players who suffer from neurocognitive impairments, such as a decline in memory and processing speed of the brain, will be eligible for financial awards of up to $3 million. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s sufferers can receive $3.5 million, while ALS victims can receive up to $5 million. However, the settlement says that families of players with CTE will be eligible for up to $4 million but only if the player has passed away prior to the final approval date of the settlement.

In fact, some have even suggested that the NFL could ban safety helmets one day as they are giving players a false sense of security. While the number of concussions throughout the 2014 season went down by approximately 25 percent, the issue remains a key worry for the league and all of the players.

Many NFL players are now becoming more concerned about knee injuries as these type of knocks are the ones that tend to end careers while concussions keep people out for a short period of time. However, we now know that these concussion injuries are having much greater implications on long-term health and they must be limited at all costs. The settlement marks an important milestone, but it’s unlikely that this will be the end of the matter as administrators look for ways to cut out concussions entirely and move on to other areas of concern when it comes to injuries in the NFL.

5 burning questions in the NFL for 2015

Will Tim Tebow make the Philadelphia Eagles roster?

5 burning questions in the NFL
Tim Tebow should make the Eagles roster this season. Chip Kelly should be able to maximize his abilities.

It is unbelievable to me that a quarterback can lead his team to 6 consecutive wins and to the AFC Championship game and then never basically play again.

Granted Tebow did only complete 47% of his passes during the 2011 season with the Denver Broncos, the one great thing he did is that he threw 12 touchdowns and only threw 6 interceptions.  Even though he only threw 12 touchdowns the 2:1 touchdown/interception ratio is what coaches look for.

Another thing Tebow did during the 2011 season is that he rushed for 660 yards and 6 touchdowns.

I believe that Tim Tebow's skill set is a very good fit with the type of offense the Eagles run.  The field is spread out, giving Tebow many lanes to run in if no receivers are open.  He can also run the zone option very well and be a big threat to keep the ball.

Tebow and DeMarco Murray or Ryan Mathews could be a great zone option package for the Eagles to use as a change of pace.  The other quarterbacks on the Eagles roster are not able to do what Tebow can do.

Tebow should make the Eagles roster and they should use the great skills he has.

Will Johnny Manziel return to "Johnny Football"?

5 burning questions in the NFL
Manziel is working hard to get back his "Johnny Football" swagger. With the addition of Josh McCown it should relieve some of the pressure on him.

Johnny Manziel has looked better so far this preseason than he ever did last season.  The problem now is that he is having elbow pain and they are shutting him down for a little while to let his elbow rest.

So far this preseason Manziel has completed 58.6% of his passes, up from 51% last season.  He has also thrown 1 touchdown to 0 interceptions so far this preseason.

As of right now 13th year quarterback Josh McCown is penciled in as the starter and he has had a good preseason as well.  So far McCown has completed 80% of his passes, throwing 1 touchdown, but with 2 interceptions as well.

I think it will actually help Manziel being able to not have to come in this season with all the stress of having to be the starter.  He can concentrate on getting himself back on track and then work his way into the starting quarterback role.

One good thing the Browns did was bring in some bigger receivers for their quarterbacks to throw to.  They signed Brian Hartline from the Miami Dolphins and Dwayne Bowe from the Kansas City Chiefs.  Both of these two receivers have the prototype size and speed the Browns need to have a successful passing offense.  Add in Jordan Cameron and they have a decent receiving corps.

How will Adrian Peterson perform after having basically a year off?

5 burning questions in the NFL
Peterson should return as one of the top backs in the NFL this season.

Adrian Peterson is the absolute prototype NFL running back even at age 30.  You could probably even say his body is at age 29 after taking all year off last season.  He is past his prime, but should still be one of the best running backs in the NFL this season if not the best.

The Vikings running game has been terrible so far this preseason.  It looks as if they have lost their starting right tackle Phil Loadholt to an achilles injury and will miss the entire season.  So, the Vikings are moving players around up front to field the best 5 offensive linemen they can.

Peterson will no doubt make the offensive line better with him carrying the ball, but they will have to give him some room to run.  He can't run through all 11 defensive players.

You must also take into account that Peterson and the Vikings will be facing the league's 12th toughest schedule.  That will be very tough on a young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and they need to get their running game going to help him out.

How is Peyton Manning's arm?

5 burning questions in the NFL
Peyton Manning shows no signs of slowing down to me. Look for him to have another great year.

Judging Peyton Manning's arm based on his 2014 stats I would say it is doing pretty good.  His 4,727 yards passing was the 2nd most in his career behind his 5,477 yards he put up in 2013.

Manning's 66.2 completion percentage last season was higher than his career 65.5 completion percentage.  His 39 passing touchdowns was the 3rd most he has had in any one season.

I have heard some so called experts say that his production tailed off as the season went along, but you can't prove that with his stats.  He clearly had a bad game versus the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs last season, but if I know Peyton Manning that will make him come back even better this season even at the ripe old age of 39.

Don't listen to the weakening arm rumors, he still can get the job done with the best of them in the NFL.

Can the Cowboys overcome the loss of DeMarco Murray?

5 burning questions in the NFL
Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle will shoulder the load left behind by DeMarco Murray.

One thing everyone has to keep in mind is that even if DeMarco Murray was back with the Cowboys there is no way he would be able to match the monster year he had last season.  I would almost say it would be impossible.

Another thing everyone needs to remember is that over 900 of Murray's rushing yards last season came after first contact.  That means even with the Cowboys great offensive line they still need a back that can run through tackles.

The Cowboys have 3 good backs that can shoulder the load as a group and be successful.  Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle will be the top two backs getting most of the carries and I believe undrafted free agent Gus Johnson should be their 3rd back, or at least on the practice squad because there is no way Randle and McFadden will be healthy all 16 games.

Growing up in Arkansas I have seen how good Darren McFadden can be.  I saw him dominate some very tough SEC defenses every Saturday that he played for the Hogs.  Check out my article on McFadden, DeMarco Murray runs to Eagles; Cowboys sign McFadden.

Randle is a good one cut downhill runner.  He has to prove that he can stay healthy and be the man.  He was a good backup to Murray, but now he has to step up even more now that opposing defenses will be game planning to stop him instead of Murray.

I was shocked to see Johnson go undrafted.  In my article Top 10 NFL Draft Prospects at Running Back with Video, I had Johnson ranked as the 8th best running back in the draft.

I am tired of hearing all this mess about Lance Dunbar.  The kid has never done much and I don't think he is an every down back.  At best he is a 3rd down back for screens and draws and to dump the ball to him out of the backfield hoping he can use his speed for a big play.


Redskins’ LB Junior Galette Out For Season With Torn Achilles

Washington Redskins' LB Junior Galette will miss the 2015 NFL season after suffering a torn left achilles tendon during practice on Wednesday.

Galette, 27, is facing a 6-8 month recovery timetable and will undergo surgery to repair the injury in the coming days.

Washington signed Galette to a one-year contract on July 31 following his release from the New Orleans Saints, where he spent the first five seasons of his career after going undrafted out of Stillman in 2010. Galette had only agreed to a four-year $41.5 million extension with the Saints last September, but a series of off-field issues ultimately led to his departure. He had agreed to restructure that deal in March, but video evidence of a recent alleged domestic incident appeared to be the tipping point in his fractured relationship with the Saints and coach Sean Payton, who had reportedly privately expressed his displeasure with Galette.

Galette became a key player for New Orleans, transitioning from a role player into a major contributor on the Saints' defense over the last five years. He flourished in 2013 - his and the team's first season under the stewardship of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan- recording 12 sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries. Following that season, Galette was rewarded with his multi-year extension.

Despite the Saints' defensive regression in 2014, Galette still managed to put together a productive season, tallying 10 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Per Pro Football Focus, he finished the 2014 season as the league's second-highest graded 4-3 pass-rusher.

The Saints released LB Junior Galette last month after a series of off-field issues.
The Saints released LB Junior Galette last month after a series of off-field issues.

Additionally, New Orleans is said to be looking to recoup about $1.25 million from Galette's contract, representing what would have been his base salary for the 2015 season. The Saints were obligated to pay Galette that money as it was part of the guaranteed money in his deal. New Orleans, which has been no stranger to grievances and arbitration hearings over the course of the last four offseasons, will likely argue that Galette's off-field behavior deemed his contract invalid. Galette, in turn, would likely file a grievance through the NFLPA.

The Redskins were hoping that Galette would provide a surge to their pass-rush in 2015. They envisioned a fearsome pass-rush duo consisting of Galette and Ryan Kerrigan spearheading their front seven's attempts to get to the opposing quarterback. Having only recently recovered from a pectoral injury which had kept him limited throughout the Saints' offseason program, Galette was set to make his preseason debut for the 'Skins in their regular season dress rehearsal against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday. His injury now means the team must now turn to in-house replacements such as Trent Murphy and Preston Smith. The team is high on both Murphy and Smith, but neither are as explosive as Galette, who has made a name for himself as a legitimate pass rush specialist.

Originally from Haiti, Galette started his collegiate career at Temple before transferring to Stillman after he was suspended by the Owls. He had expressed his desire to remain with the Saints earlier in the summer, but the team was understood to have been fed up with his off-field actions and there had been rumblings about a possible split between the two parties dating back to before May's NFL Draft.

Galette was facing the possibility of a league suspension to start the season as a result of his off-field issues, with the Redskins bracing for a verdict as soon as this week. Washington was said to be hopeful that any suspension would be a short-term punishment in the two-game range. Instead, Galette will miss all of the 2015 season with a serious injury that will leave his future up in the air as his contract with the team is just for one season.

C.J. Spiller Undergoes Knee Surgery; Expected To Return Week 1

New Orleans Saints running back C.J. Spiller, one of the team's notable offseason signings, underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee and is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the preseason. Reports suggest that Spiller should be ready in time for the Saints' week 1 trip to Arizona.

Spiller, 28, had been missing from training camp practices with what was being called a "minor" injury. He missed the Saints' preseason opener on Thursday night in Baltimore, and was seen in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday. Orthopedic surgeon James Andrews has an office in that area.

Saints RB C.J. Spiller is expected to miss the rest of the preseason after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
Saints RB C.J. Spiller is expected to miss the rest of the preseason after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

Spiller, who has battled multiple lower-body injuries throughout his five-year career, is expected to play a large role within the Saints' offense this season. New Orleans has finished near the top of the league in pass attempts to running backs in recent years, and Spiller is slated to play a significant role similar to that of former Saints players Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, and Pierre Thomas.

Mark Ingram remains established as the team's starter, but with Spiller sidelined, the likes of Tim Hightower and Marcus Murphy will see extra work and a chance to impress, while Khiry Robinson will also see more snaps.

The team may also look to bring in another back while Spiller is sidelined. Thomas, who spent the first eight years of his career with New Orleans, remains unsigned after being released by the team in March. He was close to signing with the Houston Texans, who have lost their starting running back Arian Foster for several weeks due to a groin injury, but the move fell through.

Spiller missed six games with Buffalo last season due to a collarbone injury. His best season to date came with the Bills in 2012, when he rushed for 1,244 yards and 6 touchdowns to go along with 43 receptions for 459 yards and two additional scores. He signed a four-year $18 million contract with New Orleans in March which includes $9 million in guaranteed money.

The Saints' next preseason game will come against the New England Patriots next Saturday, August 22. The teams will hold joint practices at the Saints' training camp base at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.

Arian Foster Sidelined By Groin Injury

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster will miss the first several weeks of the 2015 NFL season due to a groin injury which will require surgery.

Foster, 28, was hurt in Monday's practice -- the first fully-padded practice of Texans' training camp-- and now adds another groin problem to the list of what has been a long line of soft tissue ailments that have plagued him throughout his career. A groin injury forced him to miss two games in 2014, and the former undrafted free agent spent several weeks of the 2013 season on the sidelines due to a back issue. He suffered two separate hamstring issues during the 2011 preseason and has often battled soreness and tightness in those muscles over the years.

Foster, who led the league in rushing in 2010, and has been elected to four Pro Bowls, will almost certainly be headed for the reserve/designated to return list, meaning week 10 could be the earliest chance the former Tennessee Volunteer has to return to action.

Alfred Blue will be first in line to replace Arian Foster in the Texans' lineup.
Alfred Blue will be first in line to replace Arian Foster in the Texans' lineup.

In the meantime, Houston's backfield duties will fall at the feet of Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes, Chris Polk and rookie Kenny Hilliard. The Texans will likely scour the free agent pool and trade market in an attempt to bolster their ranks at the tailback spot while Foster recovers.

Blue's skill set profiles that of a third-down specialist and change-of-pace type, but he performed well as a feature back in Foster's absence last season, including a 156 yard performance against the Cleveland Browns in week 11. Blue, who will likely be first in line for touches in Foster's stead, left Monday's practice with what appeared to be cramping issues, but is expected to be fine. The 24-year-old finished his rookie year with 528 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Hilliard, Blue's former LSU teammate, was taken in the seventh-round of May's NFL Draft, and like Polk, has the attributes of a short-yardage and goal line back. Grimes, a versatile 25-year-old who has added value as a backfield receiver, will also be in the mix for work as Houston presses on without their lead back.

Foster, whose injury has been described as "severe" by the Houston Chronicle, is in the fourth season of the five-year $43.5 million deal he signed with the Texans in 2012. While no date has been set for the procedure, and thus, no exact recovery timetable given, the injury will almost certainly rule him out until November, if not later. His loss is a major one for Houston, who has built its offensive attack around Foster's rushing ability. The Texans, who have yet to settle on a starting quarterback, will now have to rely on a relatively unproven group of backs and a passing game that is still a work in progress.