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Jason Taylor sees "night and day" difference between Dolphins and Jets

nfl_taylor_250.jpgJason Taylor made a career out of hurling insults at the Jets and their fans.  Now that he’s a Jet, he has lobbed his first grenade at the team with which he spent all but one season of his career.

Asked whether he has noticed a difference in the culture with his new team, Taylor said, “It is night and day.  Everything here is a little more relaxed, I guess you can say.  There is a whole different vibe in the building.  The practices, walkthroughs and meetings are a little more positive and calm.”

If that’s true, why was Taylor essentially begging for an offer from the Dolphins?

Instead, our guess is that Taylor is in the process of treating the Fins with the same contempt he previously directed to the Jets.  And that’s just another reason why the 2010 season can’t get here soon enough.

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John Siegal, oldest former Bears player, dies at 97

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John Siegal, an end that was selected to three Pro Bowls and helped the Chicago Bears win three NFL titles in the 1940s, died this week at the age of 97.

He was the Bears’ oldest former player, per the team’s announcement.

Siegal played just five years in the NFL from 1939-43. However, it was plenty of time for Siegal to be named a Pro Bowler in three straight years from 1940-42 and win three championships in 1940, 1941 and 1943.

Siegal caught 31 passes for 637 yards and six touchdowns while appearing in 43 games with 16 starts.

Siegal then went on to serve in the Navy during World War II.

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Pete Carroll: Time is now for Christine Michael to show his ability

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Christine Michael has played very sparingly over his first two seasons after being selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Michael was frequently inactive as a rookie and appeared in just 10 games for the team last season. He has just 52 carries for 254 yards in two years with the team. While playing behind Marshawn Lynch can make it difficult to get on the field, Michael has struggled to force the issue as well.

With Lynch expected to receive his traditionally light preseason workload and backup Robert Turbin recovering from offseason hip surgery, Michael has a chance to show what he can do with more opportunities.

“This is a fantastic time for him. This is his time,” head coach Pete Carroll said on Tuesday. “We’re going to push him in that regard and just match up with his expectations. He wants to be a front-line, first-line back and he’s got tremendous talent and we’re just going to see how it goes.”

Michael is a very talented player when he has the ball in space. However, he has struggled with some of the finer points of learning the running back position. Some immaturity has factored in as well. Michael will get the majority of the work this preseason and Carroll hopes Michael will show he can be more consistent.

“Have a good game and come on back and have another one,” Carroll said. “Stay with the workload, and handle the bumps and the bruises.”

“You can see his assignments and his consistency here but until we start playing (real) football, at that position, you can’t evaluate.”

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Victor Cruz says he’s at 80 percent in his recovery from knee injury

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New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz recently began cutting and running routes in recent weeks on his road to recovery from a torn patellar tendon last season.

According to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, Cruz estimates he’s at 80 percent now as he continues to progress toward full strength.

“I’m about 80 percent there. I think it’s just a matter of continuing to build the strength for the last leg of it,” Cruz said. “I’ve been running some routes for about two weeks now, and there’s been no pain, no swelling or anything like that, which are all good signs.”

Cruz injured his right knee against the Philadelphia Eagles last October. Cruz had 23 catches for 337 yards and a touchdown in six games before the injury ended his season.

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Lawyer says no restraining order was served on McDonald

raymcdonald AP

With the exception of Al Pacino in And Justice For All, no lawyer has ever publicly declared his client to be guilty as charged. So it’s no surprise that Steve Defillippis continues to claim that former 49ers and Bears defensive lineman Ray McDonald is a law-abiding citizen.

Via Josina Anderson of ESPN, Defillippis claims that McDonald never received the restraining order he alleged violated on Wednesday, which resulted in McDonald’s second arrest in three days.

“When Ray McDonald was released from jail he was not served with a restraining order,” Defillippis said. “They say there is a restraining order now, but they never served him with it.”

Based on the applicable California law and procedure, it’s possible Defillippis has a point. It’s also possible he’s hiding behind a technicality, claiming McDonald didn’t officially receive a piece of paper containing the language prohibiting him from returning to his ex-fiancée’s residence even if McDonald knew he was banned from going back there.

Regardless of whether a court of law buys the excuse, the NFL surely won’t. If McDonald’s career wasn’t already over after Monday’s arrest, it definitely is after Wednesday’s.

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Browns release center Nick McDonald

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The Browns have parted ways with an offensive lineman who started seven games at center a season ago, releasing Nick McDonald, per the NFL’s Wednesday personnel notice.

McDonald was released with an injury settlement, according to the league. He has a knee injury, the Browns said. The club also announced McDonald’s departure.

The 27-year-old McDonald stepped into the lineup when Alex Mack suffered a season-ending broken leg in October. However, the Browns drafted Florida State center Cameron Erving in Round One in April. Moreover, reserve veteran offensive lineman Ryan Seymour can also play center.

McDonald’s previous regular season experience came with the Patriots, for whom he played 16 games (three starts) from 2011 through 2012.

The release of McDonald leaves the Browns with one open roster spot.

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Ray McDonald is arrested yet again

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If the Bears hadn’t already cut defensive lineman Ray McDonald, they’d be doing so tonight.

According to Katie Nelson of the San Jose Mercury News, McDonald was arrested Wednesday by Santa Clara, California police. McDonald allegedly violated a restraining order.

The restraining order, issued after McDonald’s Monday arrest, required him to stay away from the residence of his ex-fiancée.While his past incidents allow for a certain degree of gray area regarding the things that did and didn’t happen, it’ll be much harder for McDonald to claim innocence if he violated the fairly bright line of returning to premises from which he was ordered to stay away.

The 49ers cut McDonald after a pair of allegations against him last year. The Bears gave him another chance, but they promptly cut him after the Monday arrest for domestic violence and child endangerment.

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Adrian Peterson: I’m trying to secure my future with the Vikings

Adrian Peterson AP

On Wednesday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer gave a blunt answer to a question about running back Adrian Peterson’s outlook for the 2015 season.

“He’s got two choices. He can play for us or not play,” Zimmer said.

Peterson is not taking part in the team’s offseason workouts and a report earlier this week indicated the running back wanted to be traded away from the team. Peterson spoke to Josina Anderson of ESPN Wednesday evening and said that wasn’t the case, explaining that his absence is about a desire for security in Minnesota.

“The reason I’m not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded,” Peterson said. “It’s about securing my future with the Vikings. It’s business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings.”

It’s not the first time the subject of Peterson’s contract has come up this month. Peterson’s agent Ben Dogra called for the team to show Peterson “a commitment” to making him a Viking for his entire career.

Peterson is set to make $12.75 million this season and his contract runs through 2017, but none of the $32 million beyond this season is guaranteed so it would be easy for the Vikings to move on at that point. Guaranteeing some of the money would provide some of the security that Peterson says he’s seeking, although there’s been little sign from the Vikings about their willingness to go that route.

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Orlando Franklin: Philip Rivers is “more approachable” than Peyton Manning

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A very strong will to win coupled with a wide range of facial expressions have earned Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers a certain reputation for being a bit of a jerk. He isn’t, and former Broncos tackle Orlando Franklin can attest to that.

Franklin, who joined the Chargers as a free agent after four with the Broncos, compared Rivers to Peyton Manning in a Wednesday interview with Paul Burmeister of NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk.

“[O]ne thing I noticed immediately when I got here is that Phillip Rivers is definitely more approachable than Peyton,” Franklin said. “I don’t know if it was because I was a lot younger being that I met Peyton in my second season and now meeting Phillip going into my fifth season but definitely I will say Phillip is more approachable than Peyton.”

It doesn’t make one guy a better leader than the other; they’re just different. Last year, receiver Emmanuel Sanders said Manning is a “far better leader” than Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.Franklin’s assessment lends credence to the idea that Manning, at this stage of his career, is more coach than player. And it therefore becomes a little harder for the players — especially younger ones — to connect right away with a guy who may at times seem to be more aligned with management than labor.

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Greg Hardy appeal hearing starts Thursday morning

Greg Hardy AP

While the football-following world waits for a date to be picked in the Tom Brady appeal hearing, the official review of another high-profile suspension will begin on Thursday.

Commencing roughly at 10:00 a.m. ET, arbitrator Harold Henderson will consider the appeal of Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy’s 10-game suspension for violating the Personal Conduct Policy. While the NFL Players Association has concerns about Henderson’s independence, an effort will be made to persuade Henderson to reduce the suspension dramatically. Some of the key points that likely will be raised appear below.

First, the NFLPA likely will argue that the league applied the new Personal Conduct Policy retroactively to Hardy, despite a claim that the 10-game suspension arises under the old policy. The old policy ordinarily would have triggered a two-game suspension for a first-offense involving domestic violence, and the NFL has admitted that investigative procedures adopted since the Ray Rice video emerged last September were applied to Hardy. The NFLPA will argue that rules and punishments adopted post-Rice were applied retroactively to Hardy, too.

Second, the NFLPA likely will argue that the league’s reference to the presence of guns at the time of the incident shows that the league applied the new policy to Hardy, since the guns were legally owned. Under the new Personal Conduct Policy, the presence of guns can be an aggravating factor in the discipline to be imposed. Under the old policy, the presence of legally-owned firearms wouldn’t have mattered.

Third, the NFLPA likely will attack the investigation that triggered the suspension, pointing out the absence of any recording of the interview of the lead detective in Hardy’s criminal case or of the key witness who allegedly admitted that she was under the influence of one or more substances when overhearing the interaction between Hardy and his alleged victim.

Fourth, the NFLPA likely will rely on a three-hour interview of the alleged victim conducted by detectives on the morning of the incident, which allegedly conflicted with her testimony at the bench trial that resulted in the much-publicized “conviction” of Hardy. The NFLPA will argue that the three-hour interview of the alleged victim from the morning of the incident wasn’t given to the judge who presided over the bench trial, and that Hardy’s lawyers first received it four days before the jury trial that was schedule to begin in February.

As it relates to the suspension of Greg Hardy, the NFLPA will argue that the investigation and discipline never mention or deal with the contradictions between the three-hour interview with detectives and the alleged victim’s testimony at the bench trial.

On one hand, the circumstances suggest Hardy did something he shouldn’t have done. On the other hand, Hardy and all players are entitled to fair and consistent procedures based on the rules that were in place at the time the relevant conduct occurred. Fairness and justice aren’t always popular, and in some cases the NFL may be hiding behind popular opinion to justify unfair outcomes.

Or, perhaps more accurately, the NFL is determined to never again be criticized for not going far enough when punishing a player — and that the NFL has no qualms about being criticized for going too far.

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Santana Moss talking to Dan Snyder about a future in Washington

Santana Moss AP

Longtime Washington receiver Santana Moss wants to keep playing. But he may have to settle for doing something else for the team.

Moss has said that he’d like to play one more year in Washington, but he also said on 106.7 The Fan that he has talked to team owner Dan Snyder about the possibility that he’ll find some other role on the team.

“I went up there and met with Dan a little before the draft, and we just talked basically about life, football, everything,” Moss said, via the Washington Post. “Dan has always been special to me from Day One when I became a Redskin, and he knows how much I love him and I appreciate him. So we sat down and talked for hours, and he just told me, ‘I know that you want to play so I’m not sure how things are gonna go, but if you’re not a ‘Skin, whenever you’re done, I want you back here to retire and everything. And when you’re done with that, if you want to do something with the team, give me a holler.’ And I appreciate that, because I feel like my life has been around football for so long that it’s hard to just walk away, even when it’s time for me to walk away.”

It probably is time for Moss to walk away: He’s about to turn 36 and managed just 10 catches last season. But Snyder values Moss’s contributions to the franchise, and will likely find some role for him going forward.

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Raiders sign LB Horace Miller

Horace Miller AP

The Raiders made four roster moves Wednesday, signing linebacker Horace Miller and wide receiver Milton Williams III and waiving cornerback Travell Dixon and wide receiver Austin Hill. The club announced the transactions this afternoon.

Miller (6-1, 210) was most recently with the Panthers, who waived him on April 1. He spent time on the Panthers’ active roster and practice squad in the 2014 regular season but didn’t appear in any games. A UTEP product, Miller signed with Seattle as an undrafted free agent last May.

Williams (6-2, 218) is back with the Raiders after being waived by the club on May 12. The former Delaware State player signed with Oakland as an undrafted free agent on May 8. He caught 50 passes for 586 yards and five touchdowns in his final collegiate season in 2014.

Hill and Dixon are undrafted rookies. Both played at Pac-12 schools, with Hill an Arizona product and Dixon a former Washington player.

The Raiders have all 90 roster spots filled.

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No date yet for Tom Brady appeal hearing

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Under Article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL and the NFL Players Association must pick a date for the appeal of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension within 10 days after the filing of the appeal. The deadline is today. And it hasn’t happened yet, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

It could still happen today. If it doesn’t, the two sides can agree to postpone the deadline to selecting a date for the hearing.

The NFLPA hopes to get the hearing completed in June, with the goal of leaving enough time to challenge via legal action a decision by Commissioner Roger Goodell to uphold all or part of the suspension.

Look for a date to be selected fairly soon. Especially since the month of June begins fairly soon.

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Shane Ray sitting out, but Broncos think he’ll be ready soon

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Broncos first-round pick Shane Ray fell on some draft boards because of a toe injury that some teams thought would require surgery. And that injury is, in fact, keeping Ray sidelined at the start of Organized Team Activities.

That doesn’t mean the Broncos are worried. Head coach Gary Kubiak said today that he expects to see Ray doing pass-rush work soon.

He’s close,” Kubiak told the Denver Post. “I think next week you’ll see him do some individual (work) and those types of things. We fitted him with some orthotics. He’s feeling good. He’s done some work. He’s done a lot of treatment.”

Ray thinks he might take the field as soon as Thursday or Friday.

“But it’s a process and it’s not something we want to rush. We want to make sure that when I do come back, I can be me,” Ray said.

The Broncos will take it slow in May, in the hopes that Ray can be the player they drafted by September.

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Matt Forte: All I can do is play football

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Running back Matt Forte is back with the Bears after skipping the early phases of the team’s voluntary offseason work while working out on his own.

Those workouts, described as “rigorous speed training,” came as Forte enters the final year of his contract and that led to speculation that Forte’s absence was designed to get the Bears to extend his contract. Forte said he does want a new contract, but that he wasn’t staying away as leverage to get it and that he wouldn’t hold himself out of mandatory practices.

Forte stuck to that script Wednesday.

“All I can do is play football. I’ve come to the realization that any run or catch I have could be my last in a Bears uniform. If they don’t want to re-sign me, I’ll have to play football somewhere else,” Forte said, via CBS Chicago. “Nobody wants to play on a one-year deal, especially with the uncertainty of how football is. You just figure, a guy who’s been there since day one, has put in hard work and continues to produce, that guy should be rewarded. But it’s a business, and that doesn’t always happen.”

It rarely happens for running backs who have turned 30 and Forte will hit that milestone in December, which will likely make 2015 a season-long audition for Forte to show the Bears and the rest of the league his worth.

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Report: Michael Campanaro sustains quad injury

Michael Campanaro AP

One of the Ravens’ young wide receivers is reportedly on the mend.

Second-year pro Michael Campanaro sustained a quadriceps injury in Wednesday’s organized team practice activities, Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports. The degree of the injury is not yet known, the Sun said.

The 24-year-old Campanaro caught seven passes for 102 yards and one touchdown in four games as a rookie in 2014 for Baltimore, which traded a 2015 sixth-round pick to Cleveland to take Campanaro in Round Seven. He’s likely to at least be one of the Ravens’ top five wide receivers in 2015.

The Ravens’ OTAs this week run through Thursday.

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