Friday Football Footnotes: Ben Roethlisberger’s name dragged into Deshaun Watson mess; J.K. Dobbins, Saquon Barkley making comebacks

“Friday Football Footnotes” this week looks at how Ben Roethlisberger’s name is getting dragged into the suspension wrangling of Deshaun Watson. J.K. Dobbins and Saquon Barkley are looking to make big comebacks in 2022. And there are legal problems in Arizona.

Watson’s “whataboutism”

Apparently, Deshaun Watson’s legal camp is going to use Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL suspension in 2010 as leverage if the league increases the six-game punishment of the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

When Roethlisberger was suspended in 2010 after a second accusation of sexual assault, he was given a six-game penalty that was reduced to four. Via NFL reporters Josina Anderson and Jeff Darlington, Watson’s legal team is apparently going to use that outcome as a barometer if the NFL attempts to increase his suspension from six games to more.

Watson has been sued by 24 massage therapists for alleged sexual misconduct. As was the case in both of Roethlisberger’s situations, none of the accusations rose to the level of criminal charges.

If the NFL does increase the suspension on appeal, don’t be surprised if Watson takes the matter to federal court. To this point, though, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio said the Browns are proceeding with a plan to use Watson in the preseason but are preparing to have him sidelined for the first six games. That’s similar to what the Steelers did with Roethlisberger in 2010.

The Browns play the Steelers in Cleveland on a Thursday night in Week 3.

J.K. doing just fine

J.K. Dobbins has insisted for a while that he will be back in time for Week 1 of the 2022 regular season. The Baltimore Ravens running back suffered a torn ACL last year during the preseason finale.

After Thursday’s practice, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the former Ohio State standout might be able to start practicing soon.

“J.K. is a little more of a hurry because he’s making it a hurry,” Harbaugh said. “He wants to get back out there. So, we’ll look at it again Monday and see where we’re at Monday. Maybe he starts doing something like individual – maybe not. It will be up to the doctors.”

For now, though, Dobbins remains on the PUP list. Harbaugh said fellow injured running back Gus Edwards is “a little further out” from returning following an ACL tear of his own.

Barkley back?

Saquon Barkley may be returning to top form. That’s the account from multiple reporters covering New York Giants training camp.

The former Penn State running back suffered a high ankle sprain in 2019 and an ACL tear in 2020. Then he tested positive for coronavirus and had more ankle problems in 2021. But now Barkley is vowing to get back to the level that allowed him to become NFL Rookie of the Year in 2018.

“I just want to be a versatile player and do whatever I can to help the team win. Whatever coach asks me to do, I’m going to go out there and try my best at it. Whatever I need to work on, continue to work on, and just evolve my game,” Barkley said via Giants Wire. “That’s something I want to do, become an overall better player, and I think this offense is giving me the opportunity to do that, so I’m thankful and blessed to have that.”

Problems in Arizona

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was arrested this week on criminal speeding charges. The Arizona Department of Public Safety confirmed the news to KTAR News 92.3 FM and Arizona Sports.

Arizona Sports reports that the former Baltimore Raven was traveling at a speed of 126 miles per hour at 7:05 a.m. Wednesday morning.

In Arizona, possible punishments for criminal speeding include up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, plus three points on your license.

Brown did practice with the team on Thursday.

Ex-Steelers assistant coach facing charges

Now also with the Arizona Cardinals, former Steelers assistant coach James Saxon is involved with a legal matter. The Cards running backs coach was charged with two counts of domestic battery. The accusations stem from an incident on May 25 in Indianapolis. Saxon allegedly assaulted a woman in front of a child younger than 16 years old.

According to ESPN.com, the incident occurred on May 7. It allegedly started with an argument at an Indianapolis-area Costco and continued at the home of the woman.

“The Level 6 felony charge (the least serious in Indiana) comes with a sentence range of six months to 2 1/2 years in prison and a potential fine of up to $10,000. The other charge, a Class A misdemeanor, has a sentencing range of up to a year in prison and a potential fine of up to $5,000.”

Saxon is accused of assaulting the woman in front of two children during an argument at the home that she shares with her mother. According to her account, Saxon pushed her repeatedly, eventually causing her to fall into a garage door.

The Cardinals are said to be looking into the situation. He coached the Steelers on Mike Tomlin’s staff from 2014-18.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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