Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos arrives for the start of the NFL football annual meetings Sunday, March 26, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)(Photo: The Associated Press)
PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on the NFL meetings (all times local):
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has plans for Thursday night, Sept. 7.
Goodell said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings that he expects to be at the season kickoff in Foxborough when the Patriots play host to an undetermined opponent.
Smiling broadly when asked about it, Goodell said “I plan to be at the kickoff game.”
After the “Deflategate” saga, Goodell did not attend New England’s playoff games, instead going to Atlanta for the divisional round and then the NFC title game. Of course, he did hand the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots owner Robert Kraft in February after the Super Bowl.
During Super Bowl week, Goodell said he was not avoiding Foxborough and would return if Kraft invited him. Kraft later said Goodell was welcomed at the stadium. Patriots fans might not agree after Tom Brady sat out his four-game suspension to begin the 2016 season.
NFL players may be wearing different helmets based on their position in the not-too-distant future.
The chairman of the league’s head, neck and spine engineering subcommittee outlined the research that’s leading in that direction in an informal gathering with reporters at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday.
Dr. Jeff Crandall, director of the Center for Applied Biomechanics at the University of Virginia, said the NFL is working to develop reliable sensors to monitor the minute details of the impact of concussion-causing hits.
Once those sensors are developed, it soon could well be the case of big linemen and speedy receivers wearing helmets that protect different parts of the head.
“There are position-specific cleats, position-specific shoulder pads, and we know that players in different positions receive different types of severity and frequency of impacts,” Crandall said, “so we think that a position-specific helmet makes sense.”
Crandall repeated statistics first made public at the Super Bowl that showed concussions caused by helmet-to-helmet hits were down, and concussions caused by helmet-to-body hits were up. That would make sense as players shift from drilling an opponent’s helmet and hit the shoulder pad or lower instead.
That might lead to work to develop a safer shoulder pad as well as helmet, Crandall said.
Position-based helmets could be in use in four or five years.
The helmet talk was part of a wide-ranging discussion of the research the NFL says is being done to present to the private sector to produce safer football equipment.
Everything is status quo with Tony Romo, which means the Dallas Cowboys quarterback remains in limbo.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings that nothing has changed regarding Romo, who sat out most of 2016 while Dak Prescott was winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and leading the team to a 13-3 record and NFC East crown.
Dallas had planned to release Romo earlier this month, then opted not to as it sought a trade for the 36-year-old QB.
“He and Jerry are the principle people in working that situation through,” Garrett said of Romo and team owner Jerry Jones. “I don’t want to get into any specifics.
“Tony has been a great football player in this league for a long time, he can play the game at a very high level. Durability has been an issue the last couple of years and no one knows how he can handle the course of a 16-game season. But you take that risk with everyone on your roster.
“We’ll work through the situation day by day. Nothing has changed.”
NFL owners approved having referees use a hand-held tablet for video replay reviews, eliminating “going under the hood,” and also centralized final decisions on such calls.
Previously, the referee would go to a sideline camera for reviews, and he would have final say on keeping or reversal a call. Now, league officiating chief Dean Blandino and his staff in New York will make those decisions with input from the referee.
Also Tuesday, owners extended bringing touchbacks out to the 25-yard line for another year, and eliminating “leapers” trying to block field goals or extra points. They added protections for defenseless receivers running their routes, too.
During their rise to playoff contention in 2016, the Tennessee Titans learned some valuable lessons.
None was more significant than recognizing the importance of every down.
“One play can change a season, not just a game,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “People point to we had that Jacksonville loss (38-17 in Week 16), but I look at plays in other games.
“We need to be more detailed and not have things go wrong, pay more attention to detail is how you solve that.”
The Titans were among the league’s most-improved teams, finishing 9-7 and barely missing the playoffs.
Asked if he considers the AFC South wide open, Mularkey preferred to look at his young team.
“I think we can play with anybody,” he said. “But you’ve got to do it week in and week out, when it counts.”
Sean McDermott doesn’t think it will be easy coaching in a division with the guy he calls “one of the greatest of all time.”
Responding to a question about the Patriots at the NFL owners meetings Tuesday, the new Buffalo coach at first said he’s so focused on his new job he hasn’t had much time to think about anything else.
But it quickly became clear that McDermott has thought about the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick.
“It’s one thing to have success, it’s another thing to sustain it. That to me starts with leadership,” McDermott said. “… They’ve been able to sustain their success and we’re all scrambling to try to catch up with them.”
McDermott, the defensive coordinator at Carolina before taking the Bills job, laughed when he heard that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wants to play six or seven more years and that Belichick could coach until he’s 80.
“This is supposed to be fun coming out here, man,” McDermott said.
The Houston Texans — loaded at several positions, but not quarterback — have been mentioned as a possible destination for Tony Romo. Coach Bill O’Brien can’t say much about it.
“He’s a heck of a quarterback,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “That’s all I can say about that.”
With Romo still under contract to the Dallas Cowboys, O’Brien can’t get more specific.
The Texans have been unsettled at the position for years. Houston thought it had a keeper in Brock Osweiler, but shipped him to Cleveland one year after signing him to a four-year $72 million contract, $37 million guaranteed.
“Obviously we haven’t had stability there,” O’Brien said. “That hasn’t been any one person’s fault. I think that’s just kind of the way it has happened over the three years that I’ve been here.”
O’Brien doesn’t think rookie quarterbacks are ready to play right away, so don’t expect Houston to draft a starter.
“We’re excited about the two guys we have coming back,” he said of Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden.
Los Angeles Chargers fans will get a close look at new coach Anthony Lynn, quite literally, because the team will be playing in the 30,000-seat StubHub Center next season.
And Lynn said he likes it that way.
“I don’t see any real challenges right now. I just see advantages,” he said. “We’re sold out and it’s hopefully our crowd. It’s a small, intimate environment. I think it’s going to be fun.”
The team will play there until the $2.6 billion stadium that is to house the Chargers — as renters — and the Rams in 2019 is completed.
Lynn said it’s a big market “but they definitely can support a couple of NFL teams there.”
If those teams are good.
“Just go out there and win and everything will take care of itself,” he added.
And about being little brother to the Rams, who moved to Los Angeles a year ago, will own the new stadium, and already have a solid fan base?
“I haven’t even thought much about the Rams to be honest with you,” Lynn said.
Browns coach Hue Jackson has little use for pro days, especially when looking at quarterbacks.
Cleveland is still searching for its franchise QB after nearly two decades back in the NFL. The Browns have the top overall draft pick following a 1-15 season, and also the 12th pick. Should they opt to select a quarterback, it will be one who came to a private workout.
“It’s better when you get the opportunity to take a player to dinner, get extra time with him,” Jackson said Tuesday. “Have a private day and have him do exactly what you want to see him do as opposed to exactly how they want it.
“You could do both, but sometimes if you pick to do a pro day, some agents advise not to do a private day.”
Cleveland has three quarterbacks — Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan and Brock Osweiler — and is looking closely at top prospects Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer in a QB-weak draft.
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