News and notes to get you ready for Week 13 …
1. We normally keep it on the field in this space, but the Kareem Hunt story is still new, and it’s a chance to take you through how the NFL and Chiefs went through the process of investigating Hunt, and coming up empty in the offseason. This started, after the February incident, with the NFL putting its on-the-ground private detective in Cleveland in motion (the league keeps two on retainer in every market as a supplement to its security department, and those are usually ex-state police or ex-FBI with local law-enforcement connections). The detective went to the hotel where the incident happened, and was told that, due to corporate policy, the hotel couldn’t share surveillance video. The detective then called the hotel chain’s corporate headquarters, and hit another brick wall. After that, he went to the Cleveland Police Department, and got another no—the department actually told USA Today it never obtained the video, because the case was a misdemeanor. So what was the detective able to get? According to a source, he obtained the 9-1-1 call and body-cam video, which the league reviewed and revealed little. From there, multiple messages to the women on the scene went unreturned. The league didn’t talk to Hunt about the incident, but the Chiefs did and the league went on their info, which indicated Hunt sais he had nothing to do with with it. And the NFL talked to other witnesses on the scene, who corroborated Hunt’s account and what was said in the police report. No charges were filed, and that was that.
2. The Chiefs, as I understand it, followed the league’s lead throughout on the case—standard procedure holds that once the NFL starts an investigation, the club has to yield. As for how Friday went, the video that went up on TMZ constituted new information to the team, and once the club’s decision-makers saw it, they made the call that Hunt was done as a Chief. Why the six-hour lag? That was about protecting the team competitively—there was no need to let Hunt go and have him wind up on another team, so they waited on the league. And once the NFL made its decision to put Hunt on the exempt list, the Chiefs felt comfortable he wouldn’t play again in 2018 and moved to release him. But again, the decision that he’d never play for the team again was made right away, once it became clear that Hunt hadn’t been truthful with them.
3. As for Hunt’s future, while this technically isn’t a domestic violence case, he’ll be subject to the level of punishment someone involved in one would be. And the entry point there is six games. One thing to remember: A June incident in which Hunt allegedly punched a man at an Ohio resort will be considered by the league as well. Also, Hunt hit the waiver wire at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
4. Alright … now for football. And let’s start with Vikings-Patriots, one of Week 13’s marquee matchups, and some good news for the visitors to Foxboro. I’m told Minnesota expects to have Stefon Diggs (knee) without much limitation.
5. The Jets remain committed to letting Sam Darnold get to 100 percent. Last week, we told you this week was going to be a toss-up. With uncertainty through the days leading up to today’s game against the Titans, chances are the coaches play it safe with rookie again. His injury, to the outside of his foot, is the kind where a tweak can set a player back three or four weeks. So with the Jets playing out the string, taking any sort of risk with Darnold makes no sense.
6. It’s been fun the last few weeks seeing how teams have prepared for Ravens rookie Lamar Jackson. The scout-team quarterback for the Falcons this week: Rookie receiver Russell Gage, fast and shifty enough to get the defense acclimated to what it’ll be chasing today.
7. Speaking of option offenses, keep an eye on how the Bengals deploy Jeff Driskel against the Broncos in what could an elimination game for both teams. We mentioned Driskel’s speed in this week’s Monday Afternoon Quarterback, and his inconsistencies as a passer. He was actually initially recruited to Florida to run Urban Meyer’s spread offense. And Cincinnati OC Bill Lazor has background in running option concepts, having worked with Chip Kelly.
8. The Rams get Aqib Talib back, and that should help in getting Marcus Peters into better spots. Peters has fallen short of the standard he set for himself as a player his first three years in the league. I’m told Talib will start and is full go, coming back off ankle surgery.
9. The Dolphins are expecting to have DeVante Parker (shoulder) for their crucial home game against the Bills today.
10. I wouldn’t read too much into Mitchell Trubisky (listed as doubtful with his right shoulder issue) making the trip to New Jersey. I’ve talked to Bears coach Matt Nagy a bunch about the need for he and his quarterback to work on their feel for each other, and to that end there is value in Trubisky being there and watching Nagy call a game from the sidelines.
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