First and 10: On Ezekiel Elliott, Sheldon Richardson, Adrian Peterson and More
1. We’ll see if Ezekiel Elliott gets the temporary restraining order that would affectively push the pause button on his suspension while his case snakes through the district court in Sherman, Texas. But while the NFL and Cowboys disagree on what happened between Elliott and Tiffany Thompson, both can agree he needs a wake-up call. And if this doesn’t serve as one for him, it’s hard to see what would.
2. Consider the Jets’ recent trade a gift to Todd Bowles. You heard me right. The team, you might have heard, will have some bumps over the next few months, and thanks to the purge of the spring and summer, the locker room was bereft of veteran leaders. Good thing that incoming receiver Jermaine Kearse is one, given the potential for things to swing the wrong way there.
3. That’s not to say Sheldon Richardson will be a problem in Seattle. His issues were different than Mo Wilkerson’s in New York. The Jets never had a big concern with Richardson’s effort or his passion for football, it was more his overall maturity. And those maturity problems could well have cropped up in what’s expected to be a lost Jets season. But in a place to succeed like Seattle? Richardson should be OK.
4. Intrigue of tonight: How do the Chiefs use Tyreek Hill? All summer, we’ve heard about the plan to move him all over the formation. How does that play out, and will New England’s Malcolm Butler draw the assignment? Both how Hill is deployed and how the Patriots defend him (I’d think big-ticket free-agent Stephon Gilmore may draw Travis Kelce) should be fun to watch.
5. Another storyline for you will be how the Patriots use Dont’a Hightower defensively. Hightower’s health has been an issue, and he failed the Jets’ physical in March when he was a free agent and didn’t play in the preseason. The Patriots need his presence as a traditional linebacker and as a pass-rusher, given their depth issues in the front seven.
6. Adrian Peterson’s Saints debut in Minnesota is full of intrigue for a number of reasons, but I’m genuinely excited to see what he has left. His teammates swore up and down to me that he’s looked like the same freak he always was. “I played with a mediocre offensive line and still led the league at 30,” Peterson said to me in June. “I just look at things different. If I started buying into what everyone was saying, I probably would’ve retired three or four years ago.”
7. Facing mounting expectations, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, as I understand it, hasn’t changed much. The premise, as one staffer explained it, is that “our expectations are higher than anyone else’s could be.” Interestingly enough, Oakland plays this year’s version of them on Sunday—the young, rising Titans, a promising team that’ll look to make the same leap the Raiders did last year.
8. Joe Flacco is expected to play, and play well on Sunday in Cincinnati. But it feels like his back issue won’t just go away. He’s 32, 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, and when guys are that big and that age, and have a back issues, they generally don’t just resolve themselves.
9. So all three first-round quarterbacks will start the season on the bench, and the fourth one drafted last April, Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer, will start. A lot of that is circumstantial, but it’s still a pretty sure sign that he’s impressed Hue Jackson’s staff with his ability grow up fast.
10. I understand, appreciate and respect those who take concussions, and studies into their effects, seriously. That said, that investigation into Tom Brady, based on a TV interview with his wife, came off as a total waste of time.