October 2015

Joseph Randle was the starting running back for Dallas until Darren McFadden had the team's first 100-yard game of the season last weekend. Now the third-year back's status is in question with him taking time away from the team to deal with an unspecified personal issue while already ruled out of Sunday's game against Seattle with a back injury. Randle appeared at practice Wednesday before leaving the team's facility, and he left after a brief appearance at the facility Thursday morning.
Steve Spagnuolo is like everybody else when it comes to Jason Pierre-Paul. The New York Giants defensive coordinator is trying to find out how much the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end will be able to do after losing a finger in a July 4 fireworks accident. After rejoining the team Wednesday, Pierre-Paul proved to the medical staff that he was in shape.
The Minnesota Vikings have developed one of the NFL's best defenses, headlined by coach Mike Zimmer's creative package of blitzes. Young linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks have the potential to be stars. Defensive end Everson Griffen leads the team in sacks.
Good news for the Dallas Cowboys (and Dez Bryant fantasy owners): the receiver practiced for the second straight day on Thursday, and barring a setback will return to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Bryant broke a bone in his right foot during Dallas' season opener against the New York Giants, and underwent surgery to repair it on Sept. 14. He practiced for the first time Wednesday, and returned Thursday, taking part in 11-on-11 work for the first time. After practice, Bryant didn't want to take questions from reporters but did make a passing statement: Dez Bryant walked through locker room: Just know I had a great day at practice. I had a great day. You should have seen me in 1-on-1. — Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) October 29, 2015 On Wednesday night, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones sounded optimistic about Bryant's chances of playing this week, saying the Pro Bowler was "on target" to be in uniform against the Seahawks. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said "it would be a lot of fun" getting to cover Bryant, calling him a great player. More NFL on Yahoo Sports  
SEATTLE (3-4) at DALLAS (2-4)
Perhaps even more so than the 2016 NFL prospects themselves, the 32 NFL teams' needs right now are very much up in the air. There are a number of extenuating factors: Will there be a coaching or front-office change? Which players will come or go in free agency? Will there be injuries to change the situation entering the draft? [ Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: First place wins $100K in our $600K contest for Week 8 ] Still, we have an idea of which pressing needs could be addressed by teams at some point in this coming offseason — via trades, free agency or, yes, the draft — regardless of any other changes. One common theme has emerged: Quarterbacks and offensive linemen will be in high demand, even if the draft supply won't match that need. That could help push up, say, Michigan State's Connor Cook into a top-10 pick and force a run on offensive linemen in Round 1 that perhaps belies the talent at both positions. Here's our team-by-team look at how the needs stand, in order, with perhaps a bit more of a lean toward potential position targets in the draft. Team Need 1 Need 2 Need 3 Skinny Detroit Lions OL CB DL Both lines of scrimmage and secondary could use some new blood. Baltimore Ravens DB pass rusher WR Which is in worse shape: the pass rush or the coverage? Both bad. Tennessee Titans OL S LB Could also be in the mix for a running back, depending on David Cobb's play. Cleveland Browns QB WR DE We'll assume that they overlook a receiver, but finding a QB is crucial. Houston Texans QB RB S Would be stunning to see them pass another QB in Round 1 again. Jacksonville Jaguars OL CB LB Almost certainly will help Blake Bortles with better blocking talent early. San Francisco 49ers OL QB WR All of this, of course, depends on what they do with Colin Kaepernick. San Diego Chargers OL pass rusher S The third need is assuming that Eric Weddle walks in free agency. Kansas City Chiefs OL DL WR You could add QB to the list, but we think they'll fortify up front first. Tampa Bay Buccaneers OL pass rusher WR Jameis Winston needs more help, and he's almost sure to receive some. Chicago Bears OL QB CB Defense actually needs lots of help, but hard to pass up on right QB. Dallas Cowboys RB DT QB Loss of DeMarco Murray, injury to Tony Romo exposed major depth issues. Buffalo Bills LB S OL This defense should be better; the O-line needs a little fine-tuning. Washington Redskins QB S OL Look for Scot McCloughan to continue building a tougher, stronger roster. New Orleans Saints CB WR pass rusher Don't overlook wide receiver as a top target position in the spring. Seattle Seahawks  OL DT CB Russell Okung might be cut, making this a major concern for Russel Wilson's health. Philadelphia Eagles  OL QB pass rusher Top two needs happen to be two spots Chip Kelly might ignore again. Miami Dolphins  OL DL CB Both lines could use a little more youth, but need bigger on offense. Oakland Raiders CB S LB Will be big players in free agency, so needs could change dramatically. St. Louis Rams WR OL DE More likely they'd look for a receiver than OL help in draft. Pittsburgh Steelers CB TE QB Missed on 2015 help with two cornerback draft picks. Minnesota Vikings OL LB WR Depth up front was slaughtered early in the season by injuries. New York Jets pass rusher TE OL More pass-rush help would make a great defense even better. Atlanta Falcons LB DL TE Still need more front-seven snarl to build Dan Quinn-style defense. Indianapolis Colts OL DL pass rusher Simply put, this team is not nearly good enough in the trenches. New York Giants pass rusher S CB Defense needs a facelift to help slow down quality passing games. Arizona Cardinals pass rusher LB OL More fine tuning, but this startling lineup just could use a few small upgrades. Denver Broncos OL QB RB Offensive makeover will continue with or without Peyton in Gary Kubiak's eye. Cincinnati Bengals LB OL WR Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu both in contract seasons, which makes it a need. Green Bay Packers pass rusher DL OL Ted Thompson takes the best player, and it has borne good results overall. Carolina Panthers CB OL S Age in secondary, Josh Norman's free-agent status are concerning. New England Panthers CB LB RB Corner appears by far the biggest need, but they're without a first-rounder. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
Jason Pierre-Paul returned to New York Giants practice on Wednesday. Perhaps some of his teammates had seen him before then, but Pierre-Paul was reclusive after his July 4 fireworks accident severely injured his hand. So for many, Wednesday was the first chance to see Pierre-Paul's oft-discussed hand. [ Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: First place wins $100K in our $600K contest for Week 8 ] And like anyone else, they had to look. “Of course,” Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said Wednesday to the New York Daily News . “If you hear something like that, you’re always trying to peek. You don’t want to say, “show me,” or anything like that. I definitely tried to peek. I just try to be nosey.” Pierre-Paul lost his right index finger, part of his thumb and also had injuries to his middle finger. And Amukamara admitted he was surprised to see it. “Just never seen anything like that,” Amukamara told the Daily News. “I’ve never seen a hand like that before.” This is what Pierre-Paul has to deal with. Not the morbid curiosity about the appearance of his hand. He'll have to overcome a serious injury that is practically unprecedented in the NFL. Pierre-Paul was the Giants' best pass rusher, and one of the best in the NFL. They franchise tagged him for a reason this offseason. Now nobody knows what to expect from him. Can he play well after such a bad injury to his hand? There's a mental side of it too. Pierre-Paul's Giants' teammates aren't the only ones who will want to see what Pierre-Paul's mangled hand looks like. He'll deal with that for a long time. Pierre-Paul, who signed a one-year deal with the Giants on Tuesday, will work back slow. He did drills off to the side on Wednesday, the Daily News said. The hope is he can play by either Nov. 15, or Nov. 29 after the bye. But how will he play once he's back? Everyone is curious to see that, too. More NFL on Yahoo Sports - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab
The Patriots signed defensive back Ross Ventrone to their practice squad on Wednesday, bringing back a player they signed as an undrafted rookie out of Villanova in 2010. It was the 30th transaction for New England and Ventrone; over the course of his first three seasons with the team, he was shuttled back and forth between the 53-man roster and practice squad, each promotion, release and re-signing counting as a transaction. In 2011, there were 21 such moves, as Ventrone played in eight regular-season games but the Patriots were doing what they could to preserve his practice squad eligibility (back then, if a player played in nine games in one season he could no longer be on a practice squad). We reached out to the NFL, but it doesn't know if Ventrone's lengthy record with the Patriots is a record. [ Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: First place wins $100K in our $600K contest for Week 8 ] More interesting is Ventrone will now be coached in part by his older brother, Ray "Bubba" Ventrone, who is in his first year as the Patriots' special teams assistant. Ray Ventrone also began his career with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie out of VIllanova, and retired last year after a 10-year career as a special teams standout with New England, Cleveland and San Francisco. It is rare in the modern NFL for one brother to coach another. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Ventrone are just the sixth such instance, with the first four coming over 70 years ago. Currently, 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin goes to work every day and sees his younger brother, D.J., who is an offensive assistant and has been on staff in San Francisco for two-plus seasons. The Nessers are the first family of brother coach/player relationships: Ted Nesser was a player-coach for the Columbus Panhandles in 1920-21, and coached brothers Frank, Fred, John and Phil (a sixth Nesser brother, Al, played 12 seasons for four clubs, but not Columbus). Elgie Tobin was player-coach of the Akron Pros in 1920-21 and had Leo Tobin on his roster in 1921, Chicago Cardinals player-coach Arnie Horween (1923-24) had Ralph Horween as one of his players in 1923, and Hall of Famer Steve Owen coached brother Bill "Red" with the New York Giants from 1932-36.

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