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Steelers reach agreement with rookie Jason Worilds

Confirming a story first reported by NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora Wednesday night, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette relays that the Steelers have reached agreement on a four-year contract with rookie outside linebacker Jason Worilds.

In April, we ranked Worilds tenth among outside rushers for the 2010 draft, and predicted he’d go to Green Bay with the 56th overall pick.  The Steelers took him 52nd overall. 
Possessing outstanding explosiveness for a 6-foot-1, 254-pound man, Worilds clocked the fastest 10-yard split among pass rushers at February’s Scouting Combine.  At the Virginia Tech Hokies’ Pro Day, Worilds ran tailback-like forty times of 4.47 and 4.54.  His 20-yard shuttle registered at 4.07 seconds, which is another eye-popping mark.
In Pittsburgh, Worilds will compete with Andre Frazier and fellow rookie Thaddeus Gibson for the No. 3 job behind starting outside ‘backers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.  Worilds should win the battle handily, as he’s easily the best talent of the bunch.
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T.O. finagles 81 from Antonio Bryant

AntonioAss.jpgBengals receiver Antonio Bryant was assigned No. 81 after he joined the team in March; last year, Bryant wore 89 with the Bucs.  The newest member of the team, Terrell Owens, has worn No. 81 for all of his NFL career.

And so the two teammates have worked out a deal that will allow T.O. to continue to wear his signature number.

Warren Sapp of NFL Network reports that an unknown amount of money was paid by Owens to Bryant, with some of the cash going to charity.

Coincidentally, Bryant once wore Owens’ No. 81 with the 49ers, the team with which T.O. started his career.

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DeSean Jackson will report on time for Eagles camp

Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, one of the best wideouts in the NFL after only two seasons, wants a new contract.  But he has been patient, avoiding any public gripes or demands.

And so it’s not a huge surprise that, as Jordan Raanan of reports, Jackson will report on time for the start of the veteran phase of the team’s training camp.

An unexpected decision by Jackson to skip a week of Organized Team Activities in June prompted speculation that he was thinking about taking a stand.  He won’t be, at least not yet.

A second-round pick in 2008, Jackson will earn a base salary of $600,000 in 2010, the third year of a four-year deal.

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Charles Grant agrees to deal with Dolphins

A tumultuous offseason for former Saints defensive end Charles Grant will end happily.

Steve Wyche of NFL Network reports that Grant agreed to a two-year deal with the Dolphins.  Grant was cut by the Saints back in March and has been recovering from a torn triceps.  There were whispers about his desire to play again, while an involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped against him Georgia.

(Oh, and the Starcaps case figures to hang over him until he can collect social security.)

In Grant, Miami adds yet another big body and more flexibility for their defensive line.  He doesn’t figure to play every down and may not be a lock for the team, but he’s an intriguing option to help stuff the run if healthy.

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Chiefs sign two second round picks

The Chiefs signed cornerback Javier Arenas and running back Dexter McCluster on Wednesday. This qualifes as great news for many people.

Arenas and McCluster have realized a life’s dream and have achieved financial security. Chiefs coach Todd Haley gets two of his most promising rookies into training camp on time.  Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis gets a versatile playmaker to play with in McCluster.  And the Chiefs’ entire defense is gaining an identity with a young, exciting secndary.

Finally, the internet hacks at PFT now have two less rookie signings to write up.

To make room on the roster, the Chiefs cut 2008 third-round pick, tight end Brad Cottam, according to Adam Caplan of  The team also re-signed undrafted free agent LeRoy Banks.

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Vince Young will not be suspended

In the end, the reports indicating that Titans quarterback Vince Young was unlikely to face a suspension for his strip club altercation this offseason proved correct.

Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that the league will not suspend Young.  An announcement from the NFL is expected later this week, possibly Thursday.

The news should come as a relief for the Titans, although the decision was not unexpected. 

The Titans open with a home game against Oakland in a game that my Raiders fan friend at swears the Raiders should be favored in.  The news that Young will be available won’t help the chances of the Silver and Black.

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Chargers extend Gates through 2015 season

Now that the Chargers have completed their top priority extension, they can turn their attention to unhappy non-campers Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson.  

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the team has extended six-time Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates for five years.  The deal averages $7.235 million annually and includes $20.4 million guaranteed.
According to Mortensen, the deal makes Gates the highest-paid tight end in football.  Gates was set to play out the 2010 season in the final year of his contract.  He was due a $3.625 million base salary, so Gates’ total net worth is now $39.8 million over six seasons.  He’ll be 35 years old at the end of the deal.
A Pro Bowler in six straight seasons, Gates is putting together a Hall of Fame-caliber resume.  He’s been a first-team All Pro three times.  A converted basketball player, Gates hasn’t missed a game in four years and has averaged nine and a half touchdown catches per season since taking over as a full-time starter in 2004.
Extending Gates was first on Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith’s to-do list with regard to contract decisions.  McNeill is up next.  Jackson is third in line.
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Holmgren trying to stay away from offensive planning

M. Holmgren.jpgThe 2010 Browns offense won’t resemble the units Mike Holmgren coached in Green Bay and Seattle for many reasons, including the quarterback.

There’s also this: Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll won’t run Holmgren’s offense.

“Scheme-wise, this is a different scheme. This is not my scheme. This is their scheme,” Holmgren said at the start of training camp Wednesday.

We don’t think Holmgren is presumptively assigning blame if things go poorly. He’s just being honest, and the truth is that Holmgren allowed Mangini and Daboll to coach what they know.

“Will it be difficult for me? We’ll see. I suspect I’ll get a little bit antsy about some stuff,” Holmgren said.  “I’m comfortable with our involvement [in the offense], which is minimal, I will say,”

Holmgren knows offense, to put it mildly.  Failing to fully take advantage of his knowledge and scheme seems odd at best and a poor use of resources at worst. 

We can’t help thinking about Holmgren’s recent interview where he didn’t rule out a return to coaching.  Mangini and Daboll get their chance with “their scheme” this year.

If that doesn’t work, you can be sure to see Holmgren’s scheme in Cleveland next season, one way or another.

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Posluszny to be limited following groin surgery

The Bills’ best linebacker Paul Posluszny will be limited for the first few weeks of training camp following surgery for a groin injury no one knew he had.

“Poz” told the team’s website the procedure was minor — like all offseason surgery.

The Bills did receive a dose of good injury news on Wednesday when they learned left tackle Demetrius Bell will be cleared for contact to start training camp after missing offseason practices while recovering from ACL surgery. 

If healthy, Bell looks like the favorite to start at left tackle.

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Mack Brown says Sergio Kindle has narcolepsy

As Ravens rookie linebacker Sergio Kindle continues to recover from a fractured skull that he suffered six days ago after supposedly falling down two flights of stairs, his former college coach reportedly said Wednesday that Kindle suffers from narcolepsy.

The Ravens have explained that Kindle fell when he turned the wrong way after waking up in the middle of the night at a friend’s house.

Texas coach Mack Brown made the disclosure at the annual Big 12 media day, according to Chip Brown of, via our colleague J.T. of CFT.

And . . . so much for the HIPAA laws.

Narcolepsy and sleepwalking are two different conditions, but some
researchers believe there’s a link between the two conditions, based on
our own cursory Google research, which is roughly on par with what we could do in our sleep.

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Saints finalize deal with Ramsey, third round pick Graham

It figures that the long-rumored signings of Mark Brunell to the Jets and Patrick Ramsey to the Saints would occur on the same day.

Ramsey was expected to sign with the Saints last week, but it was only a matter of time until he hit New Orleans and put pen to paper.  The Tulane graduate should back up Drew Brees this season.

Also inking a deal on Wednesday was promising Saints third-round tight Jimmy Graham.  The former Miami Hurricane basketball player opened eyes during the offseason while playing in t-shirts and shorts, causing some to wonder if Jeremy Shockey will prove unnecessary in 2011.

First, Graham has to prove that his skills translate when pads come on.

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As expected, Jets add Mark Brunell

Veteran quarterback Mark Brunell won his first career Super Bowl as a backup in 2009.  He now has joined a team that many believe will walk away with the title in 2010.

Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network reports that the Jets, as expected, have signed Brunell.  Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that it’s a two-year deal.

The 17-year veteran last served as a full-time starter in 2005, with the Redskins.  He spent nine seasons with the Jaguars, eventually losing the starting job to Byron Leftwich.

Under the rules of the Final Eight Plan, the Jets weren’t able to add another unrestricted free agent until July 24, the first day of the first training camp of the year. 

In New York, Brunell provides veteran depth behind starting quarterback Mark Sanchez.  Also in the mix is Kellen Clemens, one-time quarterback of the future who to date has not fulfilled his potential.

Brunell wore No. 11 last season in New Orleans, coincidentally the same chapter of the U.S. bankruptcy laws under which he recently sought protection in the face of more than $20 million in debt.

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Titans replace Pola, who cites lockout as factor in leaving

The Titans just handed Craig Johnson what should be every coach’s dream job: Chris Johnson’s tutor in Tennessee.

The Titans announced the move on Wednesday in the wake of Kennedy Pola’s departure to USC.  Craig Johnson was the Titans quarterbacks coach, but assistant Dowell Loggains was promoted to take over that role.

Pola, meanwhile, spoke to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean about Pola’s decision to leave USC. He defended Lane Kiffin’s actions, but we were especially interested in Pola’s decision-making process.

The new USC offensive coordinator was handed a three-year deal instead of the one-year deal he had in Tennessee.  Pola expressed concern about a possible NFL lockout next summer that could reduce assistants’ salaries next summer by up to 50%.

Don’t be surprised if Pola’s flight to college proves to be harbinger of assistant coaching departures to come in 2011.

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Haynesworth will be required to pass a conditioning test

Earlier today, we pointed out that Ravens defensive tackle Terrence Cody had passed a conditioning test.  One of the wiseguys in the crowd responded by pointing out that he didn’t realize Cody had eaten a conditioning test.

For dinner tonight, Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth possibly is eating a slow-roasted conditioning test of his own.  Because Jay Glazer of FOX reports that coach Mike Shanahan will require Haynesworth to pass a conditioning test before he will be permitted to practice with the team.

The move could be a stroke of genius on Shanahan’s part, forcing Haynesworth to prove that he has the desire to do what he’s told to do, to be with his teammates, and to work hard.  If he’s merely showing up for training camp because he has to do so in order to preserve his bonus money, he’ll potentially not try his best to pass the conditioning test, and in turn he’ll likely fail it.

And then he’ll be exposed to his teammates and the media as a fraud, especially in light of the boasting Haynesworth’s trainer recently has done regarding the great shape Haynesworth supposedly is in.

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Colts sign Jacques McClendon

Four days before the start of training camp, the Indianapolis Colts have signed their fourth-round pick.

The Colts announced today that Jacques McClendon has signed with the team.

McClendon was a two-year starting guard at Tennessee who had the distinction of being the highest-drafted player who wasn’t invited to the combine.

The Colts now have four draft picks signed — McClendon, tight end Brody Eldridge, linebacker Kavell Conner and defensive back Ray Fisher — and four to go.

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Shawn Crable release points out weak 2008 Patriots draft

Shawn Crable ran out of chances before he ever hit the field.

A third-round pick of the Patriots in 2008, the converted outside linebacker never played a single snap for New England because of injuries.  The Michigan product talked a good game this offseason, but he wasn’t physically ready for training camp this week and the Patriots grew tired of waiting, releasing him on Wednesday.

Crable spent his first two seasons on injured reserve. Considering the timing of the release, we expect one of the Belichick disciples to at least kick Crable’s tires during training camp.

The release highlights what has been a disappointing 2008 draft class for New England outside of Jerod Mayo.  As Albert Breer of the Boston Globe points out, it’s entirely possible that come Week One only Mayo and reserve cornerback Johnathan Wilhite will remain from the team’s seven man draft class, which included four picks in the first three rounds.

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Steelers extend Kevin Colbert five seasons

The trademark stability of the Steelers franchise was rocked by a few players this offseason, but the power structure inside the building will remain constant for a long while.

Just a week after coach Mike Tomlin was awarded a contract extension, the Steelers signed Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert to a five-year extension of his own. Colbert arrived in 2000, and has consistently brought in talent as well as any evaluator in the league. 

“I am very thankful to Art and Mr. Rooney for the opportunity to continue my
career with the Pittsburgh Steelers,” said Colbert. “Our organization will be
faced with many challenges in the coming season and beyond. I look forward to
working with the Rooneys and Coach Tomlin as we pursue our only acceptable goal — a Super Bowl title.”

We applaud the timing and substance of the move. After the offseason the Steelers just had — more on that below — the organization smartly recognized they have the right guys leading the way.  At least off the field.

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Report: Tim Tebow wants more than Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys selected Dez Bryant with the 24th pick in the 2010 NFL draft, and the Denver Broncos selected Tim Tebow 25th. Ordinarily, that would mean Tebow should get paid a little bit less than Bryant.

But Tebow apparently wants more money than Bryant, and that’s why he wasn’t there when the Broncos’ rookies reported to training camp today.

Ed Werder of ESPN reported on NFL Live that the holdup on Tebow’s contract is the request from agent Jimmy Sexton that a premium be paid to Tebow because he’s a quarterback. Sexton wants Tebow to get a bigger signing bonus, higher base salaries and more money overall than Bryant is getting from the Cowboys.

Werder reported that Tebow and the Broncos are close to getting the deal done, but in the mean time, coach Josh McDaniels has called Tebow and expressed disappointment that Tebow didn’t report with the rest of the rookies.

“You’re missing time and you can’t afford to miss it,” McDaniels told Tebow, according to Werder. “You’re not going to get these snaps back.”

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UFL unveils uniforms, but limited visual evidence is available

So the UFL hyped up its unveiling of new uniforms for the five teams that will play in 2010.  And so after getting the latest press release on the subject, we went to the league’s official website, hoping to eyeball the new duds.

And we found only one picture, of the sides of various jerseys hanging on a rack.

That’s it.  For now, there’s nothing else.  No images of helmets or of the fronts (or backs) of jerseys.  And the online shop still shows “coming soon” when the link is clicked.

We’re trying to give a little support to the UFL, but this group really needs to get its crap together.  The P.R. function has improved over last year, but recent roster gaffes coupled with the inexplicable failure to make images of new uniforms available for view or jerseys available for purchase on the day the uniforms were unveiled makes us wonder whether this league will be anything other than a collection of slappies with any success coming from dumb luck.

UPDATE:  A better picture has been added to the story at the UFL website, with better looks at the duds on each individual team’s page.  The uniforms look to be a huge improvement over last year (which ain’t saying much).  My favorite is the Nighthawks.  As if any of you care.

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Raiders officially name Jason Campbell a starter

Tom Cable announced on Wednesday what appeared fairly obvious on draft day: Jason Campbell is Oakland’s starting quarterback.

Cable kept the notion alive during the offseason that Bruce Gradkowski could compete for the starting job, but a torn pectorals muscle kept the Polish Popgun from getting acclimated into offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s new offense.

The arrival of the Jason Campbell era has ushered in some new found confidence in Oakland.  Cable said Wednesday, “I know we’re going to be a good team. I’m not afraid to say that.”

Campbell only has to be average to give them a shot.

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