Michael Sam invited to NFL Veteran Combine

Michael Sam is going to get another look from NFL scouts and executives March 22 in the NFL Veteran Combine, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The report was confirmed by Cyd Zeigler at Outsports.

Sam, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as a seventh-round draft pick in 2014, was cut in training camp and signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad. He was released without playing in a game.

This is the first Veteran’s Combine and will be held in Tempe, Ariz. Approximately 100 players will be chosen to take part in the proceedings, helping a few guys enjoy another opportunity. In the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Sam struggled with a slow 40-yard dash time of 4.91. Going into the event, Sam was projected to be a third- to fifth-round selection, but dropped in the draft.

Sam is the first openly gay player to attempt to make a career in the NFL. The 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year is now on the outside looking in and earlier this week, signed on to be a contestant in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Sam has maintained throughout that he wants to continue playing football.

While McShay notes that the Rams’ biggest needs are probably quarterback and offensive line, neither of those positions will have highly ranked prospects available this late in the draft, so the best bet is for St. Louis to take a wide receiver at No. 10. Cooper should be a nice value pick here for the Rams. He is considered the most complete receiver and the most polished route runner in the draft.

With the Giants leaning heavily toward franchising defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, help on the offensive line becomes their biggest need here in the first round. Scherff is McShay’s highest-rated offensive lineman, and his combination of athleticism and versatility (he can line up at either guard or tackle) should provide a big upgrade up front for the Giants.

Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders led a West Division sweep at the CFL awards banquet Thursday night

2016 CFL stats: 51 receptions, 885 yards, nine touchdowns in 11 games

College: Notre Dame

After being waived by both the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots this summer, Daniels, 23, moved to the CFL and earned the outstanding rookie award. He carries some baggage following his departure from Notre Dame, but his season in Canada has proceeded without incident. “He’s the kind of guy that if he has a crazy-great game in the Grey Cup, we may never see him again [in the CFL],” Ferguson said.

Planet Football: Countries where the sport is thriving
It’s not just the CFL anymore. Leagues in Germany, Japan, China and other countries have popped up as “tackle” football grows. Here are the top countries grinding it out on the gridiron.

Mitchell leads Stampeders’ sweep of CFL awards
Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders led a West Division sweep at the CFL awards banquet Thursday night.
Offensive lineman Hunter Steward, BC Lions

No, I’m not suffering from an overdose of tryptophan. Consider:

The Jets (3-7) are well rested after the bye week; that’s important with so many older players. The Patriots are coming off a West Coast trip, their defense doesn’t scare anybody, Tom Brady (knee) is banged up and they probably won’t have star tight end Rob Gronkowski (chest).

The last blowout in this rivalry was the “Butt Fumble” game in 2012. The ensuing six games have been decided by seven points or fewer.

“We haven’t played anybody quite like the Jets,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “The players they have that we’ll have to block are very, very difficult. They’re well coached, they have good schemes. They have a lot of experienced players in the secondary. They do a great job of disguising coverages and disguising their pressures, and then dropping out of them, things like that. This will be a very challenging week for us.”

Personally, I think Fitzpatrick will play well. He will face a defense that has gone 15 quarters without a takeaway — his kind of defense.

Meanwhile, Mr. Brady is looking for his 200th career win, which would tie Peyton Manning for most combined wins (regular season and postseason) for a quarterback. In other words, Brady is chasing history while Fitzpatrick is fighting to avoid becoming it.

Ndamukong Suh signs record deal with Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have officially signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. As one of the top defensive players in the league, Suh was the biggest name in free agency. He was already one of the highest-paid players in the league a season ago, and he will remain as such on his new six-year deal worth $114 million, with $60 million coming in the first three years.

Players of Suh’s caliber rarely reach the open market. The Detroit Lions didn’t give him up without a fight, however. They were willing to pay $17 million per year with $58 million guaranteed to hold on to Suh, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The offer surpassed the record six-year, $100 million deal that Texans defensive end J.J. Watt signed last offseason, but it was just below the $19 million per year the Dolphins are set to give Suh.

When asked the inevitable question about the upcoming draft and Marcus Mariota, Kelly quickly shot down any speculation that the team will trade up for the former Oregon quarterback. He admitted he thought that Mariota is the best quarterback in the draft, but insisted that the Eagles would not “mortgage the future” because they have too many other needs to fill this offseason.

Even before the official free agency period opened, the Eagles sent shockwaves across the league when they traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Kelly justified trading away the franchise’s all-time leading rusher for a player who missed all of last season with a torn ACL because, financially, it allowed him to also sign cornerback Byron Maxwell. He didn’t want to lose McCoy, but noted that “you have to give something up to get something” in this league.

Kelly also addressed the dynamics of the power and decision-making structure within the Eagles organization. Notably, he confirmed that he would have final say on all moves made this winter and during the draft. However, he is not in charge of the personnel department, per NFL Network’s Albert Breer, and he also confirmed that it was not his decision to initiate the front office shakeup last December, which included the firing of VP of Player Personnel Tom Gamble.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Jets’ starting QB again

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles named Ryan Fitzpatrick the starting quarterback against the New England Patriots in Week 12.

In the Jets’ 27-23 loss against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9, Fitzpatrick did not play well. He threw for 193 yards to go along with a touchdown and two interceptions. While he did deliver accurate passes, like the 17-yard touchdown to Jalin Marshall, he committed two costly turnovers.

I didn’t feel like myself. I had never even had one major surgery before, much less three in one year. To have the game taken away from me three times — each time left to wonder if I would ever be the same again — that was hard.

Watt went home to Wisconsin to recover, and while there, he rekindled his passion for the game by remembering what made him love football in the first place. Standing under the Friday night lights at his high school convinced Watt that he isn’t finished with the NFL.

In that moment, I had a realization. I was actually overwhelmed by it. Football has been everything to me since I was 10 years old. For the past few months, all of that has been taken away. It’s been like a mini-retirement. And I realized that the money, the fame, the awards, the people talking about me on TV, none of that matters. None of those things have any effect on why I love this game and why I give everything I have to it.

After Watt landed on injured reserve in 2016 with the re-herniated disc, many questioned whether he would physically be able to continue playing in the NFL, or if he would have the desire to keep playing. Even Watt wasn’t certain, but his passion for the game is back, and he will be, also.

It’s been a devastating season for Browns quarterbacks in terms of injuries, and it’s understandable that Pryor and Thomas don’t want their teammates’ health to continue to be in jeopardy. Robert Griffin III was placed on injured reserve after fracturing his shoulder in Week 1. McCown has finally returned after recovering from a hairline fracture in his shoulder in Week 2, and Kessler is on his second concussion.

McCarthy’s penchant for calling timeouts with his defense on the field late in the first half cost him again

“We had a rough start to the game — three three-and-outs,” Rodgers said. “It’s tough. We didn’t get going early. It would’ve helped our defense out if we could’ve got out to a better start.”

McCarthy’s penchant for calling timeouts with his defense on the field late in the first half cost him again. He called one with 2:39 left, after Mike Daniels stuffed running back Robert Kelley for a 3-yard loss on first down from the Redskins’ 25. Two plays later, Kirk Cousins hit tight end Jordan Reed for a 26-yard gain that led to Kelly’s 10-yard touchdown run with 39 seconds left before halftime.

They still have no running game (paging Christine Michael, who was inactive four days after the Packers claimed him off waivers).

Coach Mike McCarthy’s end-of-half clock-management decisions backfired once again.

The cornerbacks, or what’s left of them, can’t stop getting beat deep.

The rare big play (welcome back, Jared Cook, who hadn’t played since Week 3) was wasted by the special teams.

No more evidence should be needed to determine that, at 4-6 and two games out of first place in the NFC North with just six weeks remaining, the Packers are all but out of it for 2016.

Let’s start with the running game. On the first three series, the Packers tried three different ball carriers: James Starks for no gain, Aaron Ripkowski for two yards and Ty Montgomery for four yards and then two. All three series went down the same way: three plays and a punt. That’s the first time Aaron Rodgers has ever started an NFL game that way. Maybe Michael, who is still the only Packers running back to rush for a touchdown this season (even though his scoring plays happened to be for the Seattle Seahawks), can change that next week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Miller limped off the field with a foot injury near the end of the second quarter. He was ruled out after halftime. Miller was able to walk, but he was clearly upset, slamming his helmet on the ground. Coach John Fox said the tight end broke a bone in his foot and will miss the rest of the season.