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The NFL Today: Suh likely to be suspended for future flagrant fouls

Ndamukong Suh was fined 100K for his hit last week.  (USATSI)
Ndamukong Suh was fined 100K for his hit last week(USATSI)

Ndamukong Suh came very close to a suspension for his latest illegal hit -- this one a low blow on a defenseless player in Week 1 -- but was granted the benefit of the doubt based on the fact that there was at least a slight chance Vikings center John Sullivan could have impacted the play downfield, sources said.

The arguments were strong in favor of suspending Suh, who has been suspended in the past and has a history of transgressions, but taken in and of itself, after much debate, the NFL's officiating arm opted instead for a $100,000 fine (Suh is appealing it). The officiating arm viewed it internally as a “cheap shot” and something that was unnecessary under the circumstances.

They ultimately conceded that, however remote, there was at least some chance Sullivan could have made it downfield to factor into the play following a Vikings turnover, but the decision came that this was not as egregious as some of his prior penalties. However, should he be involved in another flagrant situation, sources said a suspension of multiple games could be in order. In this case, despite conversations “at length” about a suspension, he was issued a fine.

It's worth noting, that the bulk of Suh's penalties did come prior to his previous suspension, for stomping on an opponent during a Thanksgiving game, with that discipline at least curtailing his pace of flags. Consider the following:

2010 (Week 1) - 2013 (Week 1)

Player

Unnecessary
Roughness

Unsports
Conduct

Total

Goldson, Dashon

11

3

14

Pollard, Bernard

12

2

14

Suh, Ndamukong

12

1

13

Babin, Jason

10

0

10

2011 (Week 13) - 2013 (Week 1)

Player

Unnecessary
Roughness

Unsports
Conduct

Total

Pollard, Bernard

8

1

9

Goldson, Dashon

5

3

8

Hall, DeAngelo

5

2

7

Jenkins, Malcolm

4

2

6

Mincey, Jeremy

5

0

5

Spencer, Anthony

5

0

5

Coples, Quinton ('12-'13)

5

0

5

Reed, Ed

4

0

4

Jackson, D'Qwell

4

0

4

Tapp, Daryl

4

0

4

Smith, Antonio

4

0

4

Finnegan, Cortland

4

0

4

Gregory, Steve

4

0

4

Griffin, Michael

4

0

4

Washington, Daryl

3

1

4

Chancellor, Kam

3

1

4

Hardy, Greg

4

0

4

Moore, Rahim

4

0

4

Smith, Harrison

4

0

4

Godfrey, Charles

4

0

4

Mayo, Jerod

4

0

4

Fairley, Nick ('11-'13)

3

1

4

Smith, Harrison ('12-'13)

4

0

4

Suh, Ndamukong

3

0

3

Miller, Von ('11-'13)

3

0

3

Smith, Aldon ('11-'13)

2

1

3

Of course, the officials on the field also don't capture everything going on in real time, with the football operations department often determining plays that are worthy of fines despite a flag not being thrown on the play.

Freeman's status in Tampa Bay

With the relationship between Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh Freeman and coach Greg Schiano seen by league and team sources as beyond repair, Freeman is likely to ask for a deal ahead of next month's trade deadline. Schiano, whose tenure already stands at a perilous point despite coaching just 17 NFL games, further alienated the quarterback by revealing why he was absent for a team photo, and the lack of trust between the men has long been no secret in that locker room.

Furthermore, several executives on other clubs believe Schiano's refusal to ever really endorse Freeman is an attempt to undermine general manager Mark Dominik, who drafted Freeman in the first round prior to Schiano's arrival from Rutgers and who has also worked diligently to add talent to that roster in recent years. Many around the league believe Schiano would like to have full roster control as well, viewing Freeman -- who threw for over 4,000 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns last year -- as a pawn in a would-be power struggle.

Tampa's drafting of quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round this spring -- Glennon is clearly seen as “Schiano's guy” within the organization -- is just another indication that Freeman's future is elsewhere. In the final year of his rookie deal, with his value being undermined by the head coach, and with the Bucs making no attempts to extend him, a trade request by Freeman is one of few options available to the youngster.

Freeman has been as good as any quarterback in the NFL for stretches at times, but has also struggled with consistency, Still, with his position still in need and him standing 6-5 with some unique athletic traits, a big arm, and still just 25 (younger than Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton, for example), there is surely a market for the player, though the Bucs would likely seek a lot in compensation should they actually shop him.

Of the teams in need of a quarterback upgrade, Minnesota, Tennessee and Oakland leap to mind as potential candidates for a trade, though the possible strength of this upcoming college quarterback class could mitigate demand via trade. Still, it wasn't that long ago Carson Palmer was dealt from the Bengals to the Raiders in-season. So while it is hardly a regular occurrence in the NFL, there is some precedent.

Freeman is just entering his prime and set most of Tampa's single-season quarterback marks a year ago (he also holds many of the all-time franchise marks). Through his first four years in the NFL, he has thrown for more yards, more touchdowns and less interceptions than Joe Montana and John Elway, to name a few, and fewer interceptions (18 fewer) than Peyton Manning. And, furthermore, Freeman has done it despite playing with a new coordinator almost every year. And his win-loss record would look decidedly better if not for the 10 fourth-quarter leads Tampa has blown since he arrived.

Freeman, it should be noted, was not the problem in Tampa's woeful Week 1 loss at the Jets. He actually rallied the team to take the lead in the fourth quarter, only for Schiano's defense to once again display its issues with discipline as Lavonte David's personal foul allowed the Jets to kick a game-winning field goal with time expiring. Four times last year Freeman rallied the Bucs late, only for that defense to hand the game away. The timing of Schiano's remarks about the quarterback this week were seen as curious by several rival team officials. Officials perceived the remarks as a diversionary tactic to get the local media writing about the quarterback instead of about another collapse by Schiano's defense. A defense reinforced this past offseason with the arrival of Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis and Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson

Schiano has struggled to connect with his players, sources said, and is seen as being inflexible and rigid, characteristics that players are generally more willing to endorse if the coach has a pedigree of winning at this level (like Bill Belichick). But Belichick is also not known for talking publicly about his quarterback, of all people, the way Schiano has, and the Bucs situation -- which also includes players contracting MRSA at the team facility, and them bristling at the way Schiano characterized their condition afterwards -- could well further implode.

Perhaps it will do so without Freeman on the roster, as the situation between him and the coach is likely to continue to fester, with a formal trade request expected.

No suspension for Jets linemen

A trio of Jets offensive lineman will be evaluated for fines starting Monday, following an ugly incident at the end of their loss at New England Thursday night, but it is virtually certain no suspensions are forthcoming according to a league source. Jets tackle Willie Colon faces the stiffest punishment, as he initiated contact with an official during the scrum, but even in his case a steep fine is in order.

As the sources pointed out, it is very difficult to discern intent, this situation -- with Patriots and Jets players flaring up after Jets center Nick Mangold rolled up on the ankles of Pats corner Aqib Talib out of bounds following an interception -- quickly spiraled and while the league will look at all possible replays of the situation, this initially appears to be a matter of tempers getting out of control in a wild situation. The league will delve into Colon's history of infractions, but he does not have a reputation for such activities, and while the NFL takes a hard line on any contact with officials, it would be stunning if Colon was forced to sit for a game.

Jets lineman D'Brickashaw Ferguson will be facing discipline as well, as he was caught throwing a punch, but, again these will be fines and not suspensions.

Von Miller beefing up support system

Denver star linebacker Von Miller aims to return to the team following his six-game drug suspension a more mature, responsible individual, according to sources close to the player, including having his parents move in with him in Denver.

Miller has become a media target following his suspension and his recent issues with speeding, and should he fail another drug test or have irregularities with his sample and follow every part of the program's strict protocol, he would be facing a season-long suspension. To that end Miller's parents have moved in with the third-year player shortly after his suspension came down, and the Broncos plan to have a team employee work directly with Miller on a daily basis making sure he is coordinating his time wisely, and working with the player's representatives closely.

Miller isn't seen as a bad kid by any stretch, but clearly he has issues with maturity and responsibility. He's been known to show up to the wrong meeting at the team facility or show up late despite being inside the facility, with details sometimes slipping his mind. For lack of a better word, team officials will babysit him more closely and ensure Miller understands that things many would take for granted -- like traveling outside of the state without first notifying the NFL -- he cannot do. Due to the stage of the drug program he is in, all such trips must be cleared first so that Miller is able to potentially be drug tested.

Miller immediately established himself as one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL upon entering the league as a first-round pick, but his recent indiscretions could restrict his ability to re-work his team-friendly entry-level contract. However, the Broncos remain very high on him, sources said, and will take a more proactive approach to try to keep him on a straight path.

White and Amendola could miss significant time

Falcons receiver Roddy White and Patriots receiver Danny Amendola are both week to week at this point. White has a high-ankle sprain and Amendola with a groin problem. Both were limited by the injuries in Week 1 and it could be several weeks before they return.

One source with knowledge of the Amendola injury, when asked about its severity, said: “He'll definitely be back this season,” which isn't exactly what Pats fans wanted to hear given how few proven receiving options they have right now and the issues Tom Brady has had connecting with their young receivers. There is no set timetable for Amendola's return, and projecting specific weeks would be guessing, sources said, but it is being measured in weeks and not months and it's certainly possible the slot stalwart does not play again in the first half of the season.

White played in Week 1 despite some advising him not to, but the Falcons did not shut him down and he was severely limited by the ankle injury and he did not practice this week. Sources said his injury will likely require several more weeks of rest to properly heal, but, given White's continued desire to play, the team will have to shut him down. If they listen to the player, he will keep insisting on being out there.

As some on the team close to him put it, White's mentality is the same pretty much every week -- “I'm a football player, and football players show up on Sunday.” If he's asked whether or not he can play on his ankle, he will say he can. That won't change. But given his current medical condition that would likely only make things worse, with a long-term approach making the most sense given how early in the season this is, the nature of the injury, and the Falcons' Super Bowl expectations.

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