Monday Morning Third Down Running Back: More Changes Coming

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

The roster is set for today, but that could all change tomorrow. Well, at least for the eighth practice squad spot. We talk more about Dontay Moch, Greg McElroy, Thomas Howard and Ray Lewis.

THE UNKNOWN DONTAY MOCH

Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Dontay Moch cleared waivers on Sunday after the organization respectfully asked for his iPad during final cuts on Saturday. A quick sidenote: Do you believe that there will ever be a circumstance when a player is released, they build a self-propagating, self-replicating virus that uploads into the network when it connects? Maybe I watch too many shows with hackers looking more Hollywood than "hacker" -- but then, who calls someone a hacker these days?

The speculation was that if Moch cleared waivers, he'd return to the practice squad.

He cleared waivers, but that's not really a surprise.

Despite generating 6.5 quarterback sacks during the past two preseasons (he only played part of one preseason game in '11 with a foot injury), Moch has played only one regular season game in the past two years (five defensive snaps against the Browns in Oct. '12). Battling migraine issues and a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing substances policy, it's really not a surprise that another team didn't take a flyer on him and the remaining $1.5 million left on his rookie contract.

But he's not on the practice squad.

The reasoning can be anything from negotiations (as we pointed out earlier Sunday morning), to targeting another position or player (read below), to something more long-term. Regardless, it's the eighth spot on the team's practice squad. In the end, by this Thursday when the focus is completely on the team's regular season opener in Chicago, interest in the team's practice squad will become a bloodless corpse until this time next year.

And it probably won't be all that surprising if the Bengals just said, we're done. Don't get me wrong, Moch is well-liked and when his migraines become a distant memory, there's every reason to believe that he'll become a productive pass rusher. As a life-long sufferer myself, migraines are difficult to live with. Headaches are huge, but they're the least extreme symptom that you have to deal with. They significantly impact, not only your profession, but your personal and social life.

He said last month that he hasn't had one in nine months.

"I’ve made a whole lifestyle change to take complete control over what I do and that seems to have fixed the problem," Moch told Dan Hoard last month. "Dietary stuff, supplements, prescriptions if I have to take them…preventative things. I’ve talked to a lot of people. I went out of my circle to get other opinions – different doctors and different routes and ways. It took a little bit from everybody to figure out my situation because everyone is different. It helps because it gives you a path toward understanding it better."

If he's successful in overcoming his own migraines, he's a personal hero of mine.

At the same time, he believed that was the case last year heading into the regular season. After a four-game suspension and a one-week roster exemption, Moch contributed with five defensive snaps before the migraines returned and wiped out the rest of his season. That's the cliff notes of his entire career, which is entering a third year.

Because of this, I don't buy into "what system" Dontay Moch is more comfortable in. True, Nevada employed a base 3-4 defense during Moch's tenure. True, in that system he generated 30 quarterback sacks in four seasons, and a Western Athletic Conference record 63 tackles-for-loss. But don't tell me that he can't play in a 4-3 alignment, where he led the team in quarterback sacks in each of the previous two preseasons. How can one weigh that judgement when he's only played five defensive snaps in the NFL? Debate the alignment all you want -- he has to get on the field first.


***

GREG MCELROY WILL BE IN CINCINNATI

First hinted by CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, then confirmed by NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, former New York Jets quarterback Greg McElroy is flying to Cincinnati on Monday. McElroy, a former seventh-round pick from the 2011 NFL draft, has completed 19 of 31 passes in his career while generating 214 yards passing, a touchdown and an interception. And most of that came during his lone start, a week 16 loss to the San Deigo Chargers.

La Canfora and Rapoport fell short of saying that he'd sign with the Bengals practice squad, but we can't imagine that it would be for any other reason. However, the team wants to check the knee that McElroy injured during practice last week before doing anything. They have this thing about signing players with pre-existing knee injuries.

More impressive about the young man is the classy thank you that he sent to fans and the organization.

Pointed out by Bill Jones with the CBS affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth, McElroy's Southlake Carroll Dragons beat Andy Dalton's Katy Tigers in the 2005 Texas High School Championship game.

***

THOMAS HOWARD ALSO MAKING THE TRIP

Former Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Thomas Howard will be in Cincinnati on Tuesday, according to Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com and Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer. While some may envision dramatic music with the quality Hard Knocks production slowly replaying Howard rolling out his No. 53 jersey, take a quick step back.

Howard suffered a significant ACL injury in early September last year. The outside linebacker has promoted improvement every time he's updating someone about his knee, but it's always telling what the other 31 teams do (or in this case, don't do). The game-plan as we understand it is for Howard to update the team on his ACL. But even if that's 100 percent, we have to believe that he'll need time to get back into football shape.

Marvin Lewis has wanted Howard to return to Cincinnati all offseason, but concern about the knee and the emergence of Vontaze Burfict and Emmanuel Lamur (both college free agents following the 2012 NFL draft) virtually pushed any need for Howard out. Now with Lamur suffering his own season-ending injury, the idea of bringing Howard back generated enough interest for the team to get a medical update on their former tackling machine from 2011.

***

SILLY RAY LEWIS

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and ESPN studio analyst believes that there's a conspiracy.

"I’m not gonna accuse nobody of nothing — because I don’t know facts. But you’re a zillion-dollar company, and your lights go out? No. No way," Lewis said, via Nate Davis of USA Today. "Now listen, if you grew up like I grew up — and you grew up in a household like I grew up — then sometimes your lights might go out, because times get hard. I understand that. But you cannot tell me somebody wasn’t sitting there and when they say, ‘The Ravens [are] about to blow them out. Man, we better do something.’ … That’s a huge shift in any game, in all seriousness. And as you see how huge it was because it let them right back in the game."

First of all, if you're not going to accuse nobody of nothing, then you're accusing everyone of everything. But, whatever. You're ESPN's problem. San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York followed up those comments with the truth behind the power outage.

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