New Rule Unfair to DeSean Jackson, Camp Holdouts

New Rule Unfair to DeSean Jackson, Camp Holdouts

As you can see, CSN caught up with the Pro Bowl wide receiver and returner at the airport on Sunday night, making some kind of fashion statement as he prepares to join the rest of the squad in Lehigh for his fourth Eagles training camp. Of course, it's little surprise DeSean Jackson finally showed, given that he is being coerced and actually had little choice in the matter.

If Jackson didn't get into camp by August 9, a rule change in the new collective bargaining agreement would prevent him from earning a year of service, which basically means instead of becoming a free agent in 2012, he would continue to have one year remaining on his contract. In short, number ten has much more to lose than $30,000 per day in fines. He could lose an opportunity to receive the very thing he's been fighting for--a new contract.

This is a major departure from old NFL rules. Players previously had until Week 10 of the regular season to report, and while they would lose more than half a season's worth of paychecks, would still accrue that all-important service year. In 2010, both Vincent Jackson of the Chargers and Logan Mankins of the Patriots held out until the bitter end to protest their respective clubs' unwillingness to offer a long term contract.

I think we can all agree that the old rule was more than a little lopsided. A player theoretically could hold out deep into the fall, and be in uniform for fewer than half his team's games, but get credit for having played a full NFL season.

However, the new rule is even more lopsided than the last one, and far more unfair. Jackson could lose the right to gain a service year before the Eagles have ever played so much as a preseason game. That takes the teeth right out of any holdout, especially in this case where the player is scheduled to become a free agent in March.

This may be all well and good to fans, as we have something of a distaste for professional athletes who hold out and ask for more money. As unpleasant as it is though, holding out of training camp is one of the only forms of leverage a football player has during a contract dispute. Now the act is rendered virtually meaningless.

And make no mistake, DeSean Jackson DESERVES a new contract. The diminutive one is scheduled to make little more than $600,000 in base salary. Even with his prorated signing bonus, the total sum of his current deal pays him less than a million dollars in 2011. For a player of his caliber, Jackson is getting flat out ripped off compared to the rest of the league.

We've heard the tired arguments fans trot out there. No, you probably will not earn "only" a million dollars this year, but unless other professionals in your field make millions, that's irrelevant. And yes, Jackson signed a contract, but as a second round pick, he had little room to negotiate the compensation for his rookie deal. Plus, let's not overlook the fact that NFL teams routinely don't honor their end of the pact, so why should a player?

Jackson is the person taking all the risk here. Players need to make as much money as they can when they are in the prime of their career, because before you or they know it, it's over.

Ultimately, I believe the Eagles will reach an agreement with DeSean before this is all said and done, perhaps once they finish a new contract for Michael Vick, but the August 9 deadline to report is still troublesome. What if Jackson sustains a serious injury during a preseason game, or even during practice? Will the front office still sign him to a long term extension?

I doubt it.

Because the risk for injury exists in those meaningless situations, a player should be able to hold out at least until the first week of the regular season. It's a long enough period of time that it's a valid concern for the club, but punctual enough that it meets the most obvious criteria for earning a year of NFL service--that being the athlete was available for a full slate of 16 games.

As for Jackson's situation, he was absolutely right to hold out. He was already underpaid last season, he's in the final year of his contract, and he has more than proven himself a valuable asset on the football field. If I were him, there would be no way I would risk injury until that check was in the mail.

But it's not up to him anymore. The league has taken it out his hands, and all he can hope is the Eagles do the right thing.

Before it's too late.

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Ben Simmons rolled his right ankle during scrimmage on the final day of training camp. He was taken for precautionary imaging. The results have not yet been completed.

Jerryd Bayless did not scrimmage because of a sore left wrist, which the team continues to monitor. He sat out of Thursday's scrimmage for the same reason.

Jahlil Okafor participated in Friday's scrimmage in accordance to his load management. The Sixers are being cautious with players as they return from injury. Okafor underwent right knee surgery last season. 

Temple vs. SMU: Get ready for offensive firepower in AAC opener

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Temple vs. SMU: Get ready for offensive firepower in AAC opener

Temple (2-2, 0-0 AAC) vs. SMU (2-2, 0-0 AAC)
Lincoln Financial Field
Saturday, Noon, ESPNews

If recent history tells us anything, we should expect to see some crooked numbers on Lincoln Financial Field’s scoreboard Saturday afternoon when SMU visits Temple in the conference opener for each team.

The last two times these AAC programs have met, the final scores have wound up 59-49 (a SMU win in Dallas in 2013) and 60-40 (a Temple win in Dallas last season).

Temple is coming off a 48-20 homecoming demolition of Charlotte. The game was basically over early in the second quarter, a frame in which the Owls scored 28 points to blow away the 49ers. SMU is coming off a 33-3 home loss to in-state rival TCU. The Mustangs hung tough for the first half and the score was 6-3 at the break, but the Big 12 powerhouse Horned Frogs took over in the second half.

Weather could play a factor Saturday, though, as current forecasts call for a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the Philadelphia area all afternoon.

Let’s take a closer look at Saturday’s the matchup.

Scouting Temple
The Owls’ offense has been in a much-needed groove since the second half of the narrow loss at Penn State two weeks ago.

Last week, Walker went 15 of 26 for 268 yards and two touchdowns – a 51-yard bomb to Adonis Jennings and a 40-yard quick strike to Brodrick Yancy. On the season, Walker has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 846 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. His favorite target has been Keith Kirkwood, who has 14 grabs for 191 yards and two touchdowns through four games.

It should be no coincidence that Temple’s offensive revival has come with the return of star senior running back Jahad Thomas, who missed the first two games of the year with a dislocated left thumb. In the two games Thomas has played, he’s got 127 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Sophomore Ryquell Armstead, who also has four rushing scores, leads the Owls with 166 yards on the ground. Last year against SMU, then-freshman Jager Gardner ripped off a school-record 94-yard touchdown run.

One other offensive note: Temple head coach Matt Rhule was finally pleased with his offensive line after the way it played against Charlotte. Earlier this week, he praised offensive line coach George DeLeone and the job he’s done recently trying to get work out the issues on the line. The Owls didn’t give up a sack last week. True freshman Matt Hennessy started at left guard last week while redshirt sophomore Jaelin Robinson saw time at right tackle. Don’t be surprised if they see significant playing time again.

Two things have concerned Rhule defensively – a lackluster pass rush and the tendency to give up big plays.

Through four games, the Owls have yet to establish any sort of consistent pass rush. They have just four sacks through four games. They had 10 in last year’s opener against Penn State alone. The good news for Temple’s pass rush is that SMU starts a freshman QB and his given up nine sacks through four games, so opportunities to disrupt the pocket should be there on Saturday.

Temple’s defense has allowed 10 plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage this season, including a 66-yard touchdown run by Charlotte’s Kalif Phillips last week.

Injury-wise, the Owls are relatively healthy. Sophomore wideout Ventell Bryant, who was believed to be dealing with a shoulder injury, announced on his Instagram this week that he’d been cleared to play.

Scouting SMU
The Mustangs’ rebuilding efforts took a big hit during the first game of the season when senior quarterback Matt Davis, who played very well against Temple last season and hurt the Owls with both his arm and legs, was lost for the year with a knee injury. Redshirt freshman Ben Hicks has stepped in and his tenure so far hasn’t been so hot. He’s completed just 50 percent of his passes this year and has thrown just two touchdowns compared to seven picks.

Despite the inexperience and lack of production at quarterback, SMU will still push the tempo with a fast-paced offense that can rip off chunks of yardage instantly and averages 448 yards per game. A big reason for that is the play of sophomore wideout Cortland Sutton, who has 449 receiving yards and four touchdowns already this season. Sutton, whom Rhule had very high praise for earlier this week, averages 24.9 yards per reception. Sophomore tailback Braeden West is no slouch, either. He’s averaged 93.8 yards per game on the ground this season and has two rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, SMU has a couple of ballhawks in its secondary. The Mustangs are tied for tops in the nation with 10 interceptions through four games. Sophomore corner Jordan Wyatt is tied for the team lead in picks with three and also leads the Mustangs with 25 total tackles and two forced fumbles. Walker will have to be wary of where Wyatt is at on the field. Senior Horace Richardson also has three picks already for the Mustangs.

While SMU’s takeaway numbers are pretty, the Mustangs’ total defense numbers are ugly. They give up an average of 449.8 yards per game, which ranks 98th out of 128 teams in the FBS. The 27 points the Mustangs allow per game are good 70th in the FBS.

History
Saturday will mark the third meeting between the schools in the last four years and fifth overall. As mentioned above, the two teams combined for 208 points the last two times they’ve met. Those last two meetings have been the only meetings between Temple and SMU that have had definitive finals. They tied in both 1942 (6-6) and 1947 (7-7). So feel free to call Saturday’s game a rubber match.

Storyline to watch: Second test for Temple's secondary
Thus far this season, Temple has faced a triple-option team in Army, an FCS team in Stony Brook, a weapon-filled offense in Penn State and a second-year FBS team in Charlotte. Needless to say, Penn State was the only true test Temple's defense, specifically the new-look secondary, has had to face and it didn't go so well, especially in the first half when the Nittany Lions tore the Owls apart with slant plays for huge chunks of yardage. While the Owls' defense calmed down, the Nittany Lions still finished with 287 passing yards and 403 total yards. Temple's secondary will have its next test on Saturday with Sutton and SMU's receivers. Corners Derrek Thomas, Artrel Foster and Nate Hairston and safety Delvon Randall have a prime opportunity to gain more confidence against a young quarterback with a tendency to make mistakes. Junior safety Sean Chandler is still the unquestioned leader of the group.

What’s at stake: Getting conference play started on the right foot
If the Owls want to be taken as a serious threat to repeat in the AAC East, this is a game they have to have against an inferior SMU team. This is the first of nine straight AAC games, and even though SMU is in the AAC West, this game is still a tonesetter for rest of conference play. The Owls don’t want to fall behind right off the bat. And they really don’t want to fall behind right of the bat this week, with a short week and travel to Memphis for a game on Thursday looming. Yes, that’s two games in five days coming up for Temple.

Prediction
Even if the weather doesn’t hold out, points will be scored at the Linc on Saturday. Just not as many as the past couple of years. At this point in time, Temple just has more talent and it looks like the Owls are finally getting things in sync. Temple 38, SMU 21