ATLANTA — Coming off the playoff bye week, and rolling right into Super Bowl week …
1. There is no guarantee that Alex Smith ever plays football again—and that’s not as ominous as it sounds. The Redskins’ quarterback underwent multiple clean-up surgeries after he contracted an infection following surgery on a compound fracture in his leg suffered on Nov. 19, and the healing bone is still far too brittle to absorb any sort of force. There isn’t much precedent for this injury, so the team and player are dealing with a lot of unknown. Smith’s a guy who is definitely worth rooting for. But right now, it’d be tough for anyone, Redskins included, to predict how his recovery is going to play out.
2. Todd Gurley sitting during the NFC Conference Championship Game was not a result of any sort of injury he suffered. And the good news spinning this forward is that Rams people felt like Gurley handled having his playing time cut into really well. Gurley still played in two-minute drills and on passing downs, and he did a bang-up job as a blocker with no drama on the sideline. That would indicate that he’ll be good to go on Sunday, both in the injury department and otherwise.
3. Commissioner Roger Goodell will speak at his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference on Wednesday, so we’ll likely hear from him for the first time on infamous missed pass interference in New Orleans then. I thought it would make sense for the NFL to get in front of that early. The league didn’t. And it’d make no sense to put a statement out now, and create a second conversation off what we’ll get on Wednesday.
4. DeMarcus Lawrence tweeted a simple message to his team on Friday: “Your move.” The Cowboys, for their part, haven’t informed Lawrence whether they plan to franchise tag him a second time (at $20.56 million) or not. The expectation is the sides will discuss it at the combine, and Dallas does have a history of holding its cards close to the vest and taking its time on these decisions. So we might not get final word until the March 5 deadline to tag guys.
5. Speaking of Dallas, Cowboys assistant Kellen Moore had the playsheet and called the plays for the NFC team in yesterday’s Pro Bowl. Jason Garrett hasn’t conceded it yet, but Moore’s considered the favorite to be Dallas’ new offensive coordinator.
6. Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman shook things up on Monday, telling Bleacher Report’s Ty Dunne that “Age has definitely taken its toll” on Tom Brady. And my immediate reaction was to think how that wasn’t smart for the 27-year-old to say. Then, I thought about it and remembered that then-Jets CB Antonio Cromartie call Brady “an a--hole” days before he and New York dealt the Patriots their last loss in the divisional round. That was eight years ago.
7. A big piece of business for the Saints to take care of: Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is a coaching free agent, and by far the biggest loose end to tie up on their staff. Allen has transformed the New Orleans D over the last two years, taking it from being a liability to a group capable of carrying a team through a playoff game (see: Philly game).
8. Texans offensive assistant/ex-Patriots receiver Wes Welker is on the circuit—he interviewed for a job with Green Bay last week and San Francisco on Monday. The Niners are restructuring a bit after the departure of passing-game coordinator Rich Scangarello to Denver.
9. Seeing Eagles DE Chris Long ruminate on coming back for a third year in Philly underscores the importance of fit in the NFL. When he asked for his release in New England, it was about the scheme and how it wore Long down over the course of the 2016 season. In Philly, that’s not a problem. And that’s not to say anything ill of New England—it just wasn’t the right place for him.
10. Wade Phillips is still the best.
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