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Tomlinson says decision came down to Jets' offense

Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson says his decision to play in New York, rather than Minnesota, came down to his familiarity with the Jets’ offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer.

“I had two places that wanted me and I think the major decision it came down to was playing in a new offense or playing in an offense I already know with Brian Schottenheimer,” Tomlinson said on a conference call today.

Tomlinson said he was tempted by the offer from the Vikings, but that the Jets just felt like the right fit.

“It was pretty tough but when it comes down to it you’ve got to go with your gut and go with what you feel,” Tomlinson said.

As he approaches his 31st birthday in June, Tomlinson dismissed a question about whether he has slowed down, saying he’s still healthy and fast.

“I still have very good speed,” Tomlinson said. “I’m still in great shape. I think I’ll be able to prove that I have good speed.”

During the same conference call, Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum said he thought there would be enough carries to spread around between Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, and he said that Leon Washington is still in the team’s plans, and the team could also draft a running back.

“Maybe we’ll see LaDainian and Shonn in the same backfield, or LaDainian and Leon,” Tannenbaum said. “We’re going to run the ball a lot. That’s important to Rex [Ryan]. That’s our offensive philosophy.”

Tannenbaum also disputed any suggestion that the team’s decision not to keep Thomas Jones was motivated by cheapness.

“Our charge is to put the best team on the field,” Tannenbaum said, adding that Jets owner Woody Johnson “has given us tremendous support.”

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Bruce Arians hopeful Carson Palmer is full speed next week

Carson Palmer Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals have surged to a 3-0 start and done so without starting quarterback Carson Palmer the last two weeks.

Palmer has been sidelined the last two weeks due to a nerve problem in his throwing shoulder.

However, the Cardinals received some positive news Tuesday when Palmer was able to throw a football for the first time since the issue arose in Week 1.

In an interview with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Sirius XM NFL Radio, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Palmer is progressing and could be back to full speed when the team returns from their bye next Monday.

“He was tossing a ball today for the first time and we’re hoping he can throw some tomorrow on the side, which would be a great sight for Monday,” Arians said. “Our fingers are crossed that we’ll have him back Monday, at least at the worst Wednesday, full speed and ready to go.”

Palmer went 24 of 37 for 304 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s season opener against the San Diego Chargers. If Palmer can return to practice by next Wednesday, it should be a positive sign for him to be available for the Cardinals next game at Denver. If he’s still unable to play, Drew Stanton will get his third straight start.

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Marcus Smith II getting a look at inside linebacker

Philadelphia Eagles v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Eagles’ first-round pick has finally found a way to get on the field.

But it’s not at the position he was drafted to play.

The Eagles are giving rookie Marcus Smith II at look at inside linebacker, a move that comes with starter Mychal Kendricks dealing with a calf injury.

A defensive end from Louisville, the Eagles drafted Smith to play outside linebacker in their 3-4 front. But with help needed inside, the 22-year-old Smith got some practice work at the other linebacker spot last week, and he then got game reps at his new position Sunday in the win vs. Washington. Smith, who didn’t play in the Eagles’ first two games, got 16 snaps on defense in the 37-34 victory.

While noting Smith was “still an outside ‘backer to us,” Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said the rookie fared OK in his first action inside.

“This is [a] ‘let’s see if he can do it’ move,” Smith told reporters Tuesday, according to an interview transcript from the club. “Let’s see where he is. It’ll help his understanding. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t work out and he goes back outside, he’s going to have a broader understanding of the defense and all the calls because he would have seen it through two different positional eyes.”

Davis noted Smith’s pass-rush ability gives the Eagles some inside blitzing options. And indeed, on a couple of snaps Sunday, he lined up in the A-gap feigning a blitz before dropping back.

Smith wasn’t credited with any statistics against Washington, so we’re left with visual impressions, and a look at the tape shows a player with obvious athleticism. The 6-foot-3, 251-pound Smith moves well, and it’s easy to see why the Eagles took him in Round One. That said, it was also clear he was finding his way at his new spot.

However, Smith’s position switch holds some intrigue. If he starts to pick up some of the finer points of inside linebacker, he could be a very interesting chess piece for Davis. The more Smith can do, the more snaps he can play, and the more effective he’ll be as a blitzer — the area where he could have a real impact.

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After heart scare last year, no golf outing planned for John Fox this bye week

John Fox AP

While on a golf outing last season during the bye week for the Denver Broncos, head coach John Fox experienced dizziness due to a preexisting heart condition.

Two days later Fox had surgery to replace a valve in his heart and missed the next month. Fox ceding control of the team to defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in the interim while he recovered from surgery.

While his heart issues are now in the past, that doesn’t mean Fox has any elaborate plans for the bye week this season.

According to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com, Fox replied with “an emphatic ‘no'” when asked if he had another golf outing planned for the year.

I feel way better than I did last year’s bye week, at least at the end of it,” Fox said. “It does bring back those memories.”

The Broncos practiced Tuesday and will again on Wednesday before taking the remainder of the week off. Denver, Seattle, Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis are all off this week.

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Vincent says NFL hopes to strengthen personal conduct policy

Vincent AP
On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent met with 11 former players in an effort to identify potential changes to the personal conduct policy.  Vincent has provided an update on the session to PFT.
“At today’s meeting, the overriding theme among our former players was restoring respect for the game and our communities by strengthening personal conduct policy and standards,” Vincent said.  “Consistent among these thought leaders was the desire to achieve excellence and hold all of our players and employees accountable to the core values of the NFL.”
Goodell and Vincent met with Mike Singletary, Willie McGinest, Roman Oben, Eddie Mason, Matt Birk, Patrick Kerney, Robert Porcher, Charles Way, Scott Turner, Tony Paige, and Marty Lyons.
These are men that represented a trans-generational group of players,” Vincent said.  “Some played in the ‘80s, the ‘90s and more recently. They brought to the table both history and institutional knowledge of how the league handled issues in the past, the respect players had and should have for their communities, and the honor it is to play in the NFL. . . .  We discussed topics such as respect for excellence, early intervention, respect for the game, and the importance of integrity and high standards.  These legends of our game emphasized establishing and maintaining accountability for everyone in the NFL family.”
Vincent explained that several additional meetings will be held with former players.  Goodell and Vincent also will meet with active players.
“I believe their input is critically important,” Vincent said of current players, adding that those meetings will happen after the season ends.
“As we move forward to address this critically important issue, the input and leadership of these former players will play a vital role in the solutions we craft to address workplace accountability and expectations,” Vincent added.  “I look forward to participating in this process.”
While the process presumably will result in improved and consistent procedures and practices for determining whether a player has violated the NFL’s rules, it’s clear that NFL players will continue to be held to a high standard of conduct, both on and off the field.
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ESPN addresses text-message mishap in Ravens story

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One of the more glaring problems with ESPN’s story regarding the Ravens’ mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation relates to the text messages sent by owner Steve Bisciotti to Rice after the team cut him.

In the story, ESPN presents the text messages in italics.  While quotes weren’t used, the technique created the clear impression that the text messages were being quoted verbatim. The surrounding context reinforced the idea that exact quotes were being shared.

The first, from the ESPN report: “Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.

The second: “When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.”

As it turns out, the text messages weren’t quoted verbatim.  The statement released Monday by the team included the exact language of the text messages.

The first: “I’m sorry we had to do this. I still love you and believe that you will be a great husband and father If you ever need to talk just call.”

The second: “I just spent two hours talking to Ozzie. It was all about you.  We love you and we will always figure out a way to keep you in our lives.  When you are done with football I will hire you to help me raise Great young men. I still love you!!!”

ESPN’s story also creates the impression that Bisciotti texted Rice without prompting.  According to the Ravens, Rice contacted Bisciotti first, saying:  “I understand the decision but I am thankful for what you have done for me and my family. Me and my wife will continue to work on us and being better but I just wanted to say thank you for giving me a chance.”

ESPN has acknowledged that the italicized text messages did not reflect actual quotes.

“We understand the confusion surrounding our use of italics and recognize we could have been more clear,” ESPN said Tuesday in a statement. “Most importantly, the information in our story about the contents of the texts was consistent with what the team released.”

While the contents were consistent, the clear and obvious error in the presentation invites fair questions regarding whether other aspects of the story are incorrect, especially in light of the strong (albeit belated) written response the Ravens provided to 15 different aspects of the report.

This specific flaw also carries with it some irony.  At a time when the Ravens fairly have been hammered for failing to ask for the notorious elevator video, ESPN didn’t ask the Ravens to confirm the precise contents of the text messages sent by Bisciotti. Instead, ESPN asked only if Bisciotti sent two text messages to Rice.

The story from ESPN doesn’t disclose that ESPN asked the Ravens only to confirm that Bisciotti sent two text messages and not to confirm the contents of the text messages.  But the words selected by the authors invite a perception that the Ravens were informed of the alleged language of the text messages: “Asked about the text messages Friday, the team did not deny Bisciotti had sent them: ‘His text messages to Ray reflect his belief that everyone is capable of redemption and that others, including players, can learn from Ray’s experience.'”

Moving forward, it’s up to the reader to decide whether to overlook ESPN’s mishandling of the text messages, or whether to treat this specific wrinkle as the proverbial bite of bad beef in a pot of stew.  Do you keep on eating, or do you throw out the whole thing?

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Manziel play should have drawn a different penalty

Manziel Getty Images

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel’s biggest play on Sunday against the Ravens didn’t count.  After entering the game on a first down to hand the ball to running back Isaiah Crowell, Manziel pretended to exit the game as starter Brian Hoyer re-entered.

While talking to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan near the sideline, the ball was snapped, and Manziel took off down the field.  Hoyer threw the ball Manziel’s way.  He caught it and completed a 39-yard play.

But a flag thrown against running back Terrance West for illegal shift wiped out the play, resulting in a five-yard penalty.  It actually should have been even worse.

Per a league source, the Browns should have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, because Manziel was within five yards of the sideline in his team’s bench area at the time the ball was snapped.  Specifically, Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1(l) prohibits teams from “[u]sing entering substitutes, legally returning players, substitutes on sidelines, or withdrawn players to confuse opponents, including lingering by players leaving the field after being replaced by a substitute and an offensive player lining up or going in motion less than five yards from the sideline in front of his team’s designated bench area.  However, an offensive player is permitted to line up less than five yards from the sidelines on the same side as his team’s player bench, provided he is not in front of the designated bench area.”

So Manziel could have gotten away with it (absent the illegal shift) if he’d been at least five yards from the sideline, or if he’d been within five yards of the sideline but not in the designation bench area.

Actually, Manziel would have gotten away with it, but for the illegal shift.  The officials missed the call.  If West hadn’t been penalized, the play would have created one of the more controversial outcomes of the weekend.

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Report: Morris Claiborne skips Tuesday walk-through after being demoted

Morris Claiborne AP

According to a published report, the Cowboys have benched cornerback Morris Claiborne — and he apparently did not take the news especially well.

Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPN.com reports Claiborne “angrily left” the team’s facilities and did not attend Tuesday’s walk-through practice after being told he was being removed from the starting lineup in favor of Orlando Scandrick.

A first-round pick in 2012, Claiborne has struggled with injuries and his play at points of his three-season career with Dallas. This week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made headlines when he said the team’s move to trade up for Claiborne two years ago hadn’t quite panned out just yet, though Jones also noted that the former LSU star still had upside.

Only 24 years old, and with 24 starts to his credit, Claiborne can still be of value to Dallas, even if it’s just in “sub” packages. But instances of NFL players skipping practice are exceedingly rare, and it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys react as they prepare for an important game against formidable New Orleans on Sunday night.

If nothing else, this is an unneeded distraction for Dallas, which has won two games in a row and has largely flown under the radar, save for a humbling loss to San Francisco in Week One.

But now, drama may have just made an unwelcome return to Valley Ranch.

UPDATE 10:19 p.m. ET: NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport also reports Claiborne left the club after being told of his benching.

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Buccaneers sign WR Louis Murphy

Louis Murphy Jr. AP

The Buccaneers are bringing back a wide receiver whom they released just before the start of the regular season.

The club has re-signed receiver Louis Murphy, a sixth-year pro from Florida, the team’s website said Tuesday. Murphy, 27, spent the preseason with the Bucs, but the club released him one day before the opener vs. Carolina.

Murphy (6-2, 200) has hauled in 121 passes for 1,744 yards and eight touchdowns in regular season stints with the Raiders (2009-2011), Panthers (2012) and Giants (2013).

To make room for Murphy, the Buccaneers waived wideout Chris Owusu, a third-year pro from Stanford. Owusu appeared in the Buccaneers’ first three regular season games, catching two passes for 20 yards.

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Rex says there’s no QB controversy in the Jets’ locker room

rexgeno AP

Jets coach Rex Ryan says there’s no dissension within the locker room about the starting quarterback situation.

After Geno Smith had a rough game in Monday night’s loss to the Bears, there’s been some talk on the outside that the Jets should turn to Michael Vick. But when Ryan was asked whether that talk could be a distraction within the team, he answered, “No, I don’t think so.”

“I think everybody’s behind Geno,” Ryan said. “He’s our quarterback and our football team believes in him, so that’s it. And like we mentioned, Geno’s a mentally tough guy. We’re happy that we have Mike Vick on this team, but we believe in Geno. We understand it wasn’t great, he made some mistakes, but we’ve just got to get better and we’ve got to learn from these and then move on.”

Smith may have improved a bit as a passer since last year — his completion percentage has risen from 55.8 percent as a rookie in 2013 to 63.1 percent this year, and his passer rating has risen from 66.5 to 77.0. But his numbers still are far from great, and his bad decision-making, both on his two interceptions Monday night and on another pass that should have been intercepted on the Jets’ final drive, are raising questions about whether he’s learning fast enough.

Ryan says the answer is simple: Smith is the starting quarterback. Now Ryan needs to figure out a way to get Smith to play better.

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Chargers sign RB Shaun Draughn

Shaun Draughn AP

As expected, the Chargers have moved to bolster their running back depth.

The club announced the signing of ex-Bears tailback Shaun Draughn on Tuesday. Draughn tried out for San Diego today before signing, a league source told PFT.

Draughn, 26, played in the first two games of the season for Chicago, which waived him one week ago. He will likely back up Donald Brown and Branden Oliver in Sunday’s game vs. Jacksonville.

The signing of Draughn comes on the same day the team officially placed Danny Woodhead on injured reserve with a broken leg. The Chargers were already without Ryan Mathews (MCL sprain) when Woodhead suffered his season-ending injury on Sunday.

In other moves Tuesday, the Chargers signed outside linebacker Cordarro Law and inside linebacker Kevin Reddick to the roster while waiving defensive end Lawrence Guy. The Chargers have injury concerns at both LB spots. Inside linebacker Manti Te’o has a broken foot expected to keep him out multiple games, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Also, the club’s OLB depth is a concern. Reserve Reggie Walker suffered an ankle injury in Sunday’s win at Buffalo, per the Union-Tribune, and rookie Jerry Attaochu is dealing with a hamstring ailment.

Finally, the Chargers also signed rookie tailback D.J. Adams, third-year tight end David Paulson and rookie inebacker Colton Underwood to the practice squad, while safety Adrian Phillips was released.

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Jordan Reed likely out for Week Four

Washington Redskins v Houston Texans Getty Images

Washington looks set to again be without one of its key passing game targets.

According to John Keim of ESPN.com and multiple other reporters who cover the team, tight end Jordan Reed indicated Tuesday he’s doubtful to play Thursday night vs. the Giants because of a lingering hamstring injury.

Reed, who did not practice on Tuesday, has missed the last two games. Niles Paul has been the primary pass-catching option at tight end in his absence for Washington (1-2).

In addition to Reed, left guard Shawn Lauvao (knee) sat out practice on Tuesday. Josh LeRibeus is listed as the top backup to Lauvao on the depth chart.

Nine Washington players were limited on Tuesday, including wide receiver DeSean Jackson (shoulder) and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (finger). Orakpo has signaled he will play against New York.

Also, tailback Alfred Morris (knee) was among five Washington players who put in full practices Tuesday despite landing on the injury report.

For the Giants (1-2), six players were limited on Tuesday, including linebacker Jon Beason (foot, toe), wideout Odell Beckham (hamstring) and punter Steve Weatherford (left ankle). For Beckham, the club’s No. 1 pick in May, the practice is his first of the regular season; he’s missed the first three games with his injury.

Reserve outside linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) was the only Giants player to sit out practice on Tuesday, according to the injury report.

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With Pitta gone, Ravens kick tires on tight ends

Kellen+Davis+DOjoqPnGYGSm Getty Images

Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta has dislocated the same hip he dislocated in training camp a year ago.  He’s done for the year, and the Ravens are looking for help.

Per a league source, the Ravens worked out four tight ends on Tuesday:  Kellen Davis (pictured), Matthew Mulligan, Jake Murphy, and Emmanuel Ogbuehi.

Veteran Owen Daniels becomes the top option for the Ravens, with Pitta gone.  Also on the roster at tight end are Crockett Gillmore (or is it Gillmore Crockett?) and Phillip Supernaw.

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Jags, Raiders, Bucs acquire dibs on waivers

LS002243 Getty Images

From the end of one regular season through the third week of the next regular season, the team with the worst reason in the prior season has dibs on all players placed on waivers.

This year, that was the Texans, from February through today.

As of today, that ended.  The Jaguars, Raiders, and Buccaneers — all 0-3 and tied when it comes to strength of schedule played so far — are tied for the top spot.  If two or more make a waivers claim for the same player, the issue will be resolved by the flip of a coin.

The Jets and Rams are tied for fourth position, and the Chiefs, Vikings, and Saints are tied at No. 6.  Again, coin flips would decide priority.

A five-way tie exists at No. 9, with the Browns, Packers, Colts, Dolphins, and Washington.  Ditto for the coin flips.

The Bengals currently are last on the 32-team pecking order.

The deck will now be reshuffled on a weekly basis, based on won-loss record and schedule strength.  Through the trade deadline, all players with less than four years of service pass through waivers.  After the trade deadline, all players who are released must first go through waivers.

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Titans cut T.J. Graham, sign Chase Coffman

T.J. Graham AP

Wide receiver T.J. Graham’s career prospects looked pretty bright when the Bills drafted him in the third round of the 2012 draft, but they’ve dimmed significantly this season.

Graham caught 54 passes in his first two years with the Bills, but failed to make the team of training camp this summer and was claimed off of waivers by the Titans. He didn’t see action in any of the first three Titans games of the season, however, and the team decided to move in a different direction on Tuesday.

The Titans announced that they have waived Graham and signed tight end Chase Coffman. Coffman has four catches in 22 career games with the Bengals and Falcons and spent training camp with Tennessee before being dropped as the team set its initial 53-man roster.

Graham’s speed was his big calling card coming into the NFL and it could earn him looks from other teams in the future, but it takes more than a good set of wheels to make it in the NFL and Graham is running out of time to show that he has the other requisite skills.

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Joe Philbin again declines to name Ryan Tannehill the starter for Week Four

Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

On Monday, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin declined to say that Ryan Tannehill would start at quarterback against the Raiders in London this weekend and that guaranteed he’d be asked about it again on Tuesday.

Philbin didn’t change course when the inevitable question came. Philbin said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, that the team would play the “best 46″ against Oakland and that the team’s coaches would take this week’s practices into account before making the call between Tannehill and Matt Moore.

Dolphins players don’t seem to be buying into the uncertainty at quarterback. Salguero reports that it “seems obvious” to several members of the team that Tannehill will remain the starter this week.

That does seem to be the likeliest outcome. Making a move to Moore at this point would strap Philbin’s future as the team’s coach to Moore’s performance, which is at least as risky a proposition as moving forward with Tannehill and comes with the added demerit that Tannehill hasn’t progressed nearly as much as the team would have hoped under Philbin’s tutelage.

That said, Tannehill hasn’t played well enough to have the job on lockdown and there’s no reason for Philbin to try to make him feel otherwise going into a game that would deal a serious blow to both men if the Dolphins fall to 1-3.

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