2015 NFL Combine results: 40-yard dash times for running backs

While it’s always interesting — and entertaining — to see offensive linemen and quarterbacks run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the test of speed is far more important for some other positions. It’s hard to believe a scout will significantly color his opinions of, say, an offensive tackle based on a fast or slow time in the 40-yard dash, but for positions like wide receiver and running back, the notion isn’t exactly “out there.”

Typically, the fastest positions are running back, wide receiver and defensive back. Judging by the early looks at the running back position though, they’re not exactly pushing the receivers for the top spot. None of the running backs came close to the top receiver, J.J. Nelson. He managed to put up a time of 4.29 seconds.

Ginn joined the Cardinals last offseason as a free agent, signing a three-year, $9.75 million deal. Though he did not factor significantly on offense, Ginn became the team’s primary punt returner, averaging 10.7 yards per return and scoring the seventh return touchdown of his career. He also returned 22 kickoffs for an average of 19 yards per attempt.

While Ginn finds himself on the street, he shouldn’t stay there for long. Since entering the league with the Miami Dolphins in 2007, he has established himself as one of the league’s most consistent return men and a capable reserve receiver. He later played for the San Francisco 49ers and had a career season with the Carolina Panthers in 2013. As for the Cardinals, they are left with Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown and Jaron Brown at wideout.

By cutting Ginn, the team saves $2.5 million in cap space for the 2015 season and avoids $6.5 million in future compensation. The Cardinals entered the offseason with around $5 million worth of cap space.

The biggest mover in McShay’s Mock Draft 3.0 was Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who jumped up from No. 13 to being taken third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former Gator put on an impressive performance at the Combine, displaying the elite speed and athleticism necessary to be a stud edge rusher in the NFL. Fowler’s rise up the draft board caused McShay to drop defensive ends Randy Gregory and Shane Ray to the No. 5 and No. 8 picks.

Nobody could have predicted Peterson would miss almost the entire season

That belief was likely misguided. Nobody could have predicted Peterson would miss almost the entire season, but he was a 31-year-old back with nearly 2,400 carries on his tires with a history of injury issues. Even ignoring the child abuse case that cost him his 2014 season, Peterson has made it through only two 16-game seasons in the past five years. He was always likely to miss a few games, which erodes the logic of the trade a bit. The offensive line rotation included five veterans who have required a trip to injured reserve over the past two seasons, and that doesn’t include Kalil (whose play has deteriorated while limping through injuries) and fill-in Jake Long (whose career was decimated by injuries and who suffered an Achilles injury after four games).

Research I’ve done suggests that injuries are mostly random, especially for younger players. Health one year shouldn’t make us just assume health the next. But based on this, if anything, it’s a surprise the Vikings haven’t been hit by an injury to Bradford himself. Despite the offensive line woes, their quarterback is on pace for his first injury-free season since his 2012 campaign with the Rams, having missed 27 of the next 48 games in the three ensuing years.

ESPN Bengals reporter Katherine Terrell dropped a reference to the movie “The Replacements” this week. She also did a great job of breaking down which Bengals will step into greater roles.

Terrell’s advice is to pick up rookie receiver Tyler Boyd. Although Boyd and veteran Brandon LaFell should both see an increase in targets — and Terrell stressed that fantasy owners should be “cautious about starting anyone in a Bengals offense that couldn’t move the ball in the second half against the Bills last week” — she said Boyd is the one with an opportunity to break out.

“This will be the Bengals’ chance to see what they have in their second-round draft pick,” Terrell wrote of Boyd, who has been used primarily in the slot as the No. 3 receiver for most of this season, but caught his first touchdown of the season last week and saw his most targets (8) and receptions (6) since Week 2.

With A.J. Green out, Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd has an opportunity to break out.

Terrell also pointed out that LaFell’s receptions have dropped considerably since tight end Tyler Eifert returned from injury last month.

Frank Gore, Andre Johnson sign with Colts

Running back Frank Gore has officially signed with the Indianapolis Colts, as has free agent wide receiver Andre Johnson. Both deals are for three years. The two veterans wanted to reunite and play for the same team, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

Gore became a free agent after spending his first 10 seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in all but two seasons and totaled 1,106 yards on the ground in 2014. The Eagles were previously thought to be the leaders for Gore, but the 31-year-old running back reportedly changed his mind and balked on the idea of a deal in Philadelphia. According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Gore told a friend that he was concerned about Chip Kelly’s intense and overbearing demeanor as well as offseason moves made by the Eagles.

Gore’s contract with the Colts will be similar to the one the Eagles offered. The three-year deal is worth $12 million, with $7.5 million guaranteed, per Adam Schefter.

The gathering is similar to the combine conducted a few weeks ago for college prospects, with extensive testing, measurements and position-specific drills performed by the invited players in front of league scouting personnel. The results of the combine are to be distributed electronically to all 32 NFL teams.

One of the more notable names that will participate in the combine is Michael Sam, who was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams last year, cut in training camp, and signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad during the season. He was eventually released by Dallas, however, and never appeared in a regular-season game for any team as a rookie.

There were also some curious names missing from the participant list, including Tim Tebow and Vince Young, both of whom had been rumored to be interested in attending the combine. Tebow reportedly wants to resurrect his NFL career, but apparently he won’t be pursuing this opportunity to showcase his skills in front of scouts. According to the Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith, Young’s agent said his client was not invited to the combine and won’t attend the event in Arizona.

Raiders have a real option for staying in Oakland now

The Raiders may be staying in Oakland after Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office reached a framework deal to keep the team from moving to Las Vegas, according to NBC Bay Area.

Schaaf’s office announced that it had reached a framework agreement on Tuesday with a group of Raiders representatives led by former Los Angeles Raiders player Ronnie Lott.

The framework will now be evaluated by county representatives in a closed session on Tuesday and by the city council in a closed session on Nov. 29.

Injuries have also plagued the Bears this season, too. In a 36-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10, Bears guard Kyle Long suffered an ankle injury and was carted off the field. He was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 15.

Long has to get surgery on his ankle to repair a ligament damage. He needs shoulder surgery as well. Long suffered the shoulder injury in the preseason but decided to play through it. The team said he could do no additional damage to that shoulder while playing.

In a 26-10 loss against the Green Bay Packers in Week 7, Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer broke his arm in the second quarter and didn’t return. He was placed on injured reserve and underwent surgery to repair his arm.

Bears tight end Zach Miller suffered a broken foot in Chicago’s 22-16 loss against the New York Giants in Week 11 and is out for the season.

While down 17-13 in the third quarter, Fitzpatrick threw an interception to defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Fitzpatrick also suffered a knee injury at the end of the third quarter, and quarterback Bryce Petty filled in for him. He only thew for 19 yards on two pass attempts. Fitzpatrick suffered an MCL sprain but returned to the field in the fourth quarter after missing only one series.

The Browns have allowed 38 sacks so far this season, and eight of those came Sunday in the loss to the Steelers, including the brutal hit Lawrence Timmons put on Kessler that knocked Kessler out of the game with a concussion.

The quarterback looked right at two targets then calmly back to the middle to find Jackson

This isn’t a matter of Cousins having a good game against a bad defense. Cousins has played well for five straight games after an uneven start to the season. There’s no doubt the Redskins organization hasn’t settled on his being a no-brainer to re-sign. One of the other players they must re-sign is receiver Pierre Garcon, who had his first 100-yard game since 2014 on Sunday. Cousins and Garcon connected for a 70-yard score against the Packers.

Cousins’ offensive line provided ample time to operate, as it has all season. Earlier in the year, Cousins wasn’t always hitting the plays available. That group deserves credit. It handled the Packers’ stunts much better than when Green Bay beat Washington in the playoffs the previous season.

But in a rare prime-time win by the Redskins, it was Cousins who emerged as the watercooler topic.

Kirk Cousins celebrates with Redskins teammates after throwing a touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon. It one of Cousins’ three scoring tosses on Sunday night.

Now the Redskins need to be smart and quit thinking anyone can do what Cousins has done. In his past 21 games, Cousins has thrown 41 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Here’s what coach Jay Gruden said about that last week: “We can go through the anybodies around the league the last 10 years, and not a lot can do what he’s done for the last 20 games.”

We can nitpick Cousins’ game to death if we want — we have done so and will continue to do so — but he’s the guy in charge of an explosive offense, one that is the reason Washington remains a strong playoff contender. At 6-3-1, the Redskins will go as far as Cousins takes them.

“He’s a beast, man,” Redskins tight end Jordan Reed said. “He’s a great player. He needs to start getting that credit. He deserves it. He makes plays each week. He’s been balling pretty much this whole year.”

Green Bay’s pass defense isn’t very good — let’s be clear about that. But Cousins torched them beyond what others have done. Besides, he has produced against good defenses as well. Entering Sunday, the top four teams when it comes to opposing quarterback’s total QBR were the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens. They had an average opposing QBR of 54.2; Cousins’ average QBR against them is 72.4.