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Week Three Monday 10-pack

The third week of the 2010 season provided plenty of memorable highlights and outcomes. 

From an overtime thriller in New Orleans to a couple of 0-2 underachievers getting things pointed in the right direction to what nearly became an overtime thrilled in Miami, we hope the next 14 weeks are just like this one.

Then again, some teams would prefer to forget all about Week Three.  For 10 story lines focusing on the good and the bad from Week Three, read on.


1.  Coughlin out, Cowher in?

Two years ago, the Giants started the season 0-2, giving up 80 points in
two games.  This year, after a sloppy Week One win against a grossly
overmatched Panthers team, the Giants have surrendered 67 in two even
sloppier losses.

Publicly, coach Tom Coughlin has taken the blame.  Privately, he has
begun the process of holding his players accountable.

Whether it works remains to be seen.  The Giants are becoming every bit
as dysfunctional as they were when Coughlin somehow pulled a Super
Bowl-sized rabbit out of his hat.  The championship season has become
largely forgotten, however, especially as the Giants become upstaged in their new
stadium by the look-at-me Jets, at whom New York and the rest of the
country are looking, both for what they do on the field, and what they
do off it.

After the Giants collapsed down the stretch and missed the playoffs,
co-owner John Mara blew a gasket.  This year, if the Giants fail to
qualify for the postseason, he’ll do more than talk tough.

Coughlin has one year left on his contract, and the Giants will have to
decide after 2010 whether to re-up Coughlin’s deal — or whether to move
on.  If they choose to thank the 64-year-old coach for his
contributions and pay him not to work for the franchise in 2011, the
most obvious candidate to replace him becomes Bill Cowher.

The 15-year coach of the Steelers, who resigned after the 2006 season,
recently said that he’s looking for the “right situation.”  And former
Steelers tailback Jerome Bettis, who called Cowher’s coming resignation
at the outset of the 2006 season, sad earlier this year that Cowher
covets” the Giants job.

Unless and until Coughlin can get his Giants to play disciplined,
winning football, a guy who led the Steelers with square-jawed intensity
could become the ultimate answer to the cross-town team led by a
player-coach who doesn’t actually play.

2.  Tebow takes a big step backward.

Entering the regular season, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow occupied the
No. 2 spot on the depth chart, behind starter Kyle Orton and ahead of
Brady Quinn.  Per a league source, Tebow was under the impression that
he’d be the top backup all year.

After only two games, Tebow fell to No. 3.  Inactive for Sunday’s game
against the Colts, the elevation of Quinn prevented Tebow from entering
the game before the fourth quarter, essentially eliminating the team’s “Wild Horse”
single-wing package.  As it turns out, neither Quinn nor Tebow entered
the game at all.

Following the 27-13 loss to Indy, Bronco coach Josh McDaniels downplayed
the situation.

“Just made a decision after the week of practice,” McDaniels said. 
“Brady had a good week and it wasn’t anything about Tim — we just felt
like Brady was probably better equipped at this point to handle this
style of game plan, the style of defense that they played.  Again, they
get very few reps anyways, but the reps that they get — we felt more
comfortable doing that.”

Whether it’s a one-time thing remains to be seen.  The fact that Tebow
believed he’d be the No. 2 guy all year makes the move surprising.  The
possibility that he’ll stay at No. 3 shows just how far he has to go
before he becomes the full-time starter.


3.  Pink slips coming soon?

The desperation that has prompted so many quarterback changes could soon
result in a flurry of firings.  Coordinators could be the initial
scapegoats in some cities.  But with bye weeks beginning,
underperforming head coaches could soon find themselves staying home for
the rest of the year, with pay.

The Panthers have looked putrid, and if they hit their break at 0-5,
coach John Fox could be out the door.

The Browns, who are 0-3 but just as easily could be 3-0, face the
Bengals, Falcons, Steelers, and Saints before their bye.  And if the
Browns are 0-7, Eric Mangini may not get a chance to host the Patriots
and the Jets in consecutive weeks — which likely would drop Cleveland
to 0-9, anyway.

Another potential candidate for a bye week “buh-bye” is Jaguars coach
Jack Del Rio.  As one league source explained it, multiple factions
currently are clashing in Jacksonville.  “If [Del Rio] survives the
season,” the source said, “he likely won’t survive the offseason.”

Whether Del Rio survives the season depends on whether the Jaguars can
turn things around, quickly.  Outscored by a total of 50 points in two
weeks, things get no easier next week, when the Colts come calling.  (It also doesn’t help that the Jags are stuck in a division with Indy, Tennessee, and Houston.)

In San Francisco, Mike Singletary could be on the hot seat, too — if
anyone there had the nerve to actually communicate the decision to fire him. 
(Would you?)

Then there’s Raiders coach Tom Cable, who faces some risk of being fired
every minute of every day, of every season.

4.  Time to change inherently unfair fumble rule.

While watching the Chargers-Seahawks game, which Seattle surprisingly
won, a play late in the first half reminded us of one of the most
inequitable rules in all of sport.

When an offensive player fumbles the ball out of bounds, his team keeps
possession.  But when an offensive player fumbles the ball out of the
end zone that his team is trying to invade, the ball is regarded as
having been recovered by the other team, and it’s placed at the 20.

NFL spokesman Michael Signora described it as a “long-standing rule, in
place for decades.”

That’s fine, but that doesn’t make it fair.

It simply makes no sense to punish the offensive team for getting so
close to the end zone, losing the grasp on the ball near paydirt, and
then losing possession even if the other team never actually recovers
it.  

Instead of giving the ball to the defense at the 20, the rule should
give the ball to the offense, at the opponents’ 20.  Some would argue
that possession should be awarded at the line used for the try after a
touchdown.  Either way, possession shouldn’t be handed over the defense
when the defense has done squat to secure possession.


5. Jets, Falcons seize control of their divisions.

With 13 games to go, a lot can — and will — happen.  But two teams
confidently can claim that, for now, they rule the four-team roosts in
which they reside.

Both the Jets and the Falcons went on the road and knocked off rivals
who had been 2-0.  So now the Dolphins will have to win in New York and
the Saints will have to win in Atlanta in order to avoid what amounts to
a three-game swing in the standings — 2-0 versus 0-2, plus ownership
of the tiebreaker.

Coupled with the Jets’ win over the Patriots, New York has come a
long way in only 13 days

Ditto for the Falcons, who lost a heartbreaker in Week One and suddenly
have broken the Saints’ hammerlock on the NFC South.  It likely was the biggest win of quarterback Matt Ryan’s three-year career.

Again, there’s a long way to go.  For now, though, the Jets and Falcons
have to be feeling pretty good about where they are.


6. Chiefs are for real.

When a team exceeds expectations, expectations eventually will be
adjusted.  For that reason alone, look for the Chiefs to continue to
downplay their success, in the hopes that no one will believe that
they’re a legitimate contender to win the AFC West.

But they are.  Already, the 3-0 Chiefs possess a two-game lead over the rest
of the division, and they’ve toppled the perennial top dogs from San
Diego.

Moving forward, the Chiefs benefit from a fourth-place schedule.  While
the Chargers play the Ravens and the Patriots, the Chiefs get the Browns
and the Bills. (All four AFC West teams play all four AFC South teams
in 2010.)  Those two games could end up making a huge difference, if the
race gets tight in late December.

The biggest question mark comes at quarterback, but that question mark
became an exclamation point, at least for a day, when Matt Cassel
completed 16 of 27 for 250 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception
— good for a passer rating of 111.7.

It’s the kind of triple-digit performance that became commonplace for
Cassel in 2008, when he replaced Tom Brady in New England.  Now that
Cassel could be clicking with Charlie Weis, the guy who helped make Tom
Brady into Tom Brady, there could be even more strong performances from the
player whom many regard as the weak link on a slowly-improving
franchise.

Until then, the Chiefs would prefer that we all regard them as
slowly-improving, with no reason to think that they may be headed in the
direction that their 3-0 record suggests they’re heading.

7.  Dallas Desperadoes deliver for Wade.

Backed against the wall, the Dallas Cowboys proved the value of a single
NFL weekend by avoiding an 0-3 start, pulling into a three-way tie for
second place in the NFC East, and getting themselves back on track for a
season that still could end with a Super Bowl.

Desperation suited the Cowboys well on Sunday in Houston, and now
they’ve got time during their bye week to continue to tweak the offense
and refine the defense and prepare to continue the push toward and
beyond .500.

At a time when the NFL is considering a move from 18 games, it’s
important to remember the impact of a single NFL game when a total of
only 16 are played.  The significance of each and every contest makes
each and every one dramatic and memorable; for the Cowboys, who
faced full-blown implosion after only two weeks, a single game changed
everything.

If the season is “enhanced,” that quality could quickly be diminished.

8.  Steelers could run the table.

We know it’s way too early to say this, but we’re going to say it
anyway.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could go undefeated.

It’s unlikely.  Eventually, they’ll surely lose.  But if they can get past the
Ravens on Sunday in the last game without Ben Roethlisberger and if he
pumps up an offense that is complemented by the best defense in the
league, the Steelers will be unstoppable.

If they get to 16-0, it won’t have happened against a slew of patsies. 
They play at Miami and at New Orleans, and they host the Patriots and
the Jets.

Still, there’s already something special about this team, and it could
become even more special if Roethlisberger helps light up a scoreboard
that rarely will reflect many points from the opposition.

9.  Vick’s historic redemption tour continues.

As the football-watching world waits for Mike Vick’s triple-digit
passer-rating performances to drop dramatically, as they always have done in the past, Vick has instead put his
foot harder on the gas, authoring his best performance to date with the
Eagles.

In a 28-3 win at Jacksonville, Vick completed 17 of 31 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 119.2.

In 10 quarters, Vick has thrown six touchdown passes and not a single
interception.

He’ll face his toughest test yet next week, when Donovan McNabb returns
to Philly for a game that Eagles fans will want to win more than any
non-playoff game in franchise history.  And regardless of how well
McNabb does or doesn’t play, another strong showing from Vick could make
McNabb’s performance moot.

Meanwhile, at some point we need to acknowledge that we’re witnessing
one of the most compelling stories in league history.  Rather than
merely returning to the level he occupied before missing two years while
in prison, Vick could be on the verge of reaching new heights — and of
becoming the franchise quarterback he never quite became in Atlanta.

10.  Saints need to lose their blind spot for Garrett Hartley.

Kicker Garrett Hartley forever will occupy a position in the pantheon of
Saints stars, thanks to his delivery of the franchise’s first NFL title
via a 40-yard overtime kick in the NFC Championship and a trio of
40-plus-yard field goals in the Super Bowl.

But kicker remains one of the most fungible positions in football, and
if a guy can’t do his job there are plenty of others who can, and who will.

The challenge for coach Sean Payton and G.M. Mickey Loomis will be to
forget about the things Hartley did in the past, and to focus on what
he’s doing now.

Or, more importantly, on what he’s not doing.

Two missed field goals in Week One allowed the Vikings to hang around
much longer than they should have, and a redirection from 49ers
defensive tackle Ray McDonald may have prevented Hartley from being the
goat in Week Two.

The goat he was on Sunday, when he missed an overtime chip shot after
knuckling the game-tying kick that forced the extra session.

Peter King reported on Sunday night that the Saints will bring in
kickers this week
.  It shouldn’t simply be a shot across Hartley’s bow. 
Kickers need to be much more reliable than Hartley has been.  And if
Hartley continues to receive extra consideration for what he did in last
year’s Super Bowl, the Saints won’t win another one this year.

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K.J. Wright on Dan Quinn: “In this business, you always want guys to reach the top”

Pete Carroll AP

It’s widely assumed Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will become the Falcons’ head coach after the Super Bowl.

Asked Thursday how Seattle’s players viewed Quinn’s potential departure, outside linebacker K.J. Wright offered a reasoned view of life in the NFL, noting it’s only rational to take opportunities for advancement when they are presented.

“In this business, you always want guys to reach the top of whatever it is,” Wright said, according to an interview transcript provided by the league.

“If you’re guys like J.G. (Seahawks defensive quality control coach John Glenn), he’s a quality control guy, you want him to someday become a linebackers coach or tight ends coach. Take (Seahawks linebackers) Coach (Ken) Norton (Jr.) you want him to one day become a D-coordinator.

“You always want guys to grow. If it comes down to players in free agency, one team’s not paying enough, you want them to go elsewhere and get paid the most money they can.

“I want guys to reach the top of their field and just be the best they can be and be able to provide for their family.”

And soon, it appears Quinn will indeed be at the top level of his profession, which will create a ripple effect of opportunity for others.

Wright, for his part, wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen Quinn get a head coaching job last season.

“I thought he was going to leave last year with how good he was,” Wright said. “… He will most definitely be gone. He can bring a nice presence to teach defense, teach fundamentals. Just put a good defensive coordinator around him and offensive coordinator around him and you’re going to win football games.”

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Sean Taylor highlights could be on Bobby Wagner’s Saturday agenda

New York Giants v Washington Redskins Getty Images

On the night before Super Bowl XLIX, Seahawks Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner might pass the time by watching some clips of standout defenders of seasons past.

And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, too.

“I’m going to chill and probably watch some Ray Lewis, Sean Taylor highlights,” Wagner said Thursday, according to an interview transcript from the NFL. “Probably throw in some Ninja Turtles.”

A surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer, Lewis was Super Bowl XXXV MVP and one of the all-time greats at middle linebacker. The late Taylor, meanwhile, was of the most skilled safeties to have entered the league in recent memory.

We’re less certain how the Ninja Turtles rank among the animated shows of its time, but one should prepare for the Super Bowl as he sees fit.

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Status quo for Seattle’s injury report as all practice fully

Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas AP

Two of the Seahawks’ defensive stars appear to be coming along well as they deal with injuries suffered 10 days ago in the NFC title game.

Cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow) and free safety Earl Thomas (shoulder) both practiced fully on Thursday, according to the injury report. It’s the second straight full workout of the week for both All-Pro defensive backs.

In fact, for a second straight day, all 53 players practiced for Seattle, a good sign with the Super Bowl in less than 72 hours.

Right tackle Justin Britt (knee), tailback Marshawn Lynch (back), and right guard J.R. Sweezy (ankle) are the only other players on Seattle’s injury report. Britt missed the NFC Championship with his injury, but his full participation to begin this week augurs well for his availability for Sunday.

Lynch has been previously dealt with back issues but has not missed any full games. Sweezy, meanwhile, was first listed with an ankle ailment late in the season. However, he’s played and started every game this season.

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Akeem Ayers added to injury report

Rob Ninkovich, Akeem Ayers AP

The Patriots’ injury report grew by one name on Thursday.

Linebacker Akeem Ayers (knee) was a limited participant in the club’s second practice of Super Bowl week. He was not on the club’s initial injury report released Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Ayers has recorded 22 tackles and four sacks for New England since being acquired from Tennessee in October. Including the postseason, he has appeared in 11 games for the Patriots, making four starts. Ayers (6-3, 255) logged 11 snaps on defense and special teams in the Patriots’ 45-7 victory over Indianapolis in the AFC title game.

Ayers was one of five Patriots limited on Thursday. The others — linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), defensive tackle Chris Jones (elbow), defensive tackle Sealver Siliga (foot) and center Bryan Stork (knee) — were limited on Wednesday.

Quarterback Tom Brady (ankle) was again a full participant.

The Patriots’ final injury report will be released Friday.

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Dick Vermeil recalls how the Marshall Faulk trade went down

Super Bowl XXXIV - St. Louis Rams v Tennesee Titans Getty Images

On Thursday’s PFT Live, former Rams head coach Dick Vermeil recalled how the pivotal 1999 trade for future Hall of Fame tailback Marshall Faulk came together.

As Vermeil told it, supply, demand and a good rapport with then-Colts coach Jim Mora were the catalysts for the deal, which netted Indianapolis second- and fifth-round picks and St. Louis one of the most versatile backs of all time.

“They wanted our draft choice, and we wanted Marshall Faulk, and Jim Mora was the head coach there,” Vermeil said Thursday. “Jim and I worked together at Stanford as young assistants. Jim was my linebacker coach at UCLA, so we had a relationship.

“There was no BS in talking and negotiation and game-playing between Jim and I. Our presidents and general managers did a lot of talking and discussing and working out details, but the final decision came down between Jim and I, and we got it done, that’s all.

“And it worked great for us. It worked great for Marshall Faulk. They got the running back they wanted out of Miami who had a great career for them, Edgerrin James, had great success. They already had a great quarterback who was really starting to come on in Peyton [Manning].

“So they got what they wanted. We got we wanted.”

Added Vermeil: “The same trade today would cost a lot more.”

Vermeil’s final thought is especially interesting. In hindsight, the Rams didn’t pay a high price at all for a tailback tailor-made for their offense.

On the other hand, the tailback position perhaps isn’t valued as it was in 1999. Were a similar trade made now, it would likely draw no shortage of dissenters suggesting giving up a second-round pick — a player under club control for four seasons — would be a mistake for a running back entering his sixth NFL season, as Faulk was 16 years ago.

Nevertheless, it’s a fun topic to ponder. Clearly, the Rams made the right call. The question is, when will another club take a big swing in the trade market for a tailback — especially after the Colts’ deal for Trent Richardson didn’t work out?

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Joe Montana thinks Tom Brady ordered footballs to be deflated

Rudy Giuliani & Joe Montana Visit FOX & Friends Getty Images

Tom Brady has said many times this week that Joe Montana was his childhood hero. Brady probably won’t be thrilled with his favorite player’s thoughts about Deflategate.

“If I ever want a ball a certain way, I don’t do it myself,” Montana said, via the Boston Globe. “So, somebody did it for him. But I don’t know why everybody is making a big deal out of trying to figure out who did it. It’s pretty simple. If it was done, it was done for a reason.”

Montana doesn’t seem to think deflated footballs are a big deal, but he also doesn’t think the Patriots’ footballs would have become deflated in the AFC Championship Game for any reason other than Brady wanting someone to do it.

“I mean, it’s easy to figure out who did it,” Montana said. “Did Tom do it? No, but Tom likes the balls that way, obviously, or you wouldn’t have 11 of them that way without him complaining, because as a quarterback, you know how you like the ball. If it doesn’t feel like that, something is wrong. It’s a stupid thing to even be talking about because they shouldn’t have the rule anyway. If you want to see the game played at the best, everybody has a different grip, everybody likes a different feel.”

If the Patriots win on Sunday, Brady will join Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only starting quarterbacks to earn four Super Bowl rings.

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Prop Challenge, Day VII — Will there be a safety in the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, we’ll take a closer look at one proposition bet per day, something we’ve dubbed PFT’s Prop Challenge.

Here’s the idea: we present a prop, do some light analysis, then let you decide which side to take — hypothetically, of course. (Previous examples are at the bottom of this post.)

When the Super Bowl wraps up, we’ll tally the votes and see how well PFT Planet did.

Now, let’s get to today’s prop, which is courtesy of oddsmaker William Hill U.S.:

Will there be a safety in the Super Bowl?

Yes: +475 (opened +450).

No: -600 (opening odds).

As of earlier Thursday, William Hill U.S. had written more tickets on the “Yes” side of the safety bet than on any other prop.

The appeal of “Yes” is obvious. At +475, a winning $10 bet will pay $47.50, with $57.50 in total returning to the bettor. That’s the sort of victory that can leave a Las Vegas visitor feeling as cool as Danny Ocean ordering a whiskey at the Bellagio.

Also, the last three Super Bowls have featured safeties, with all coming on different kinds of plays.

Last season, a snap over Peyton Manning’s head got the scoring going as Seattle sprinted to a 43-8 rout.

The previous year, Baltimore punter Sam Koch took a safety in the waning seconds to kill time and to take a block or return score out of play in the Ravens’ 34-31 victory.

Finally, New England’s Tom Brady was flagged for intentional grounding in the endzone to put the first points on the board in Super Bowl XLVI, a 21-17 Giants win.

Overall, there have been nine safeties in 48 Super Bowls — about one per every 5.3 games. And if just considering Super Bowl history, there might be a decent-enough case for the “Yes” for those wanting to take a flier at +475.

However, the Super Bowl safety rate is very high relative to regular-season play.

Since 2011, safeties have occurred about once per every 13.7 regular-season contests.

However, in that same span, the safety rate jumps to one per every 6.1 playoff games.

Take the last three Super Bowls out, however, and the rate is just one safety for every 10 games.

What does this all mean?

Well, we leave it up to you to decide. How would you play it — yes or no?

The poll is open, as are the comments.

Go get ‘em.

Previous props studied:

Day I: Over-Under on Brandon LaFell’s receiving yards.

Day II: Over-Under on Doug Baldwin’s catches.

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

Day IV: Will there be a one-yard TD in the Super Bowl?

Day V: Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yards.

Day VI: Over-Under on LeGarrette Blount’s carries.

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Other granddaughter fires back at family members “publicly harassing” Tom Benson

Benson Getty Images

The Benson family feud continues to spread.

The latest development comes courtesy of Dawn Jones, a granddaughter of Saints owner Tom Benson who takes issue with the strife caused by her aunt and two cousins.

“Unfortunately it is now public knowledge that an ugly conflict is taking place in our family,” Jones said in a statement released to the media. “I have remained silent over the past week in hopes that the conflict would be resolved quickly and quietly once other family members saw the irreparable damage that was being done by their actions. It has become apparent over the last few days that they have no intention of stopping their relentless attacks, so at this time I would like to publicly state my support for my grandfather, Tom Benson. My husband, my children and I all have a great relationship with my grandfather and Gayle. I have recently spent time with them both and communicate with them on a regular basis. I have witnessed nothing that warrants the actions that are currently being taken. I am brokenhearted that other family members have chosen to publicly harass and humiliate the patriarch of our family — the very person who is responsible for giving them everything they have. During this difficult time I would ask that you pray for the entire family, especially for my grandfather, Tom Benson.”

Last week, Mr. Benson announced a new succession plan for ownership of the Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans, with his wife, Gayle, inheriting the teams. Daughter Renee LeBlance and her children, Ryan LeBlanc and Rita Benson LeBlanc, promptly filed a lawsuit challenging the changes to Mr. Benson’s will.

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LeGarrette Blount doesn’t deny that he tried to get back to New England

Blount AP

One of the main non-#DeflateGate questions this week relates to whether any sort of winking and/or nodding occurred in connection running back LeGarrette Blount’s release from the Steelers and return to the Patriots.

Carolyn Manno of NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk asked Blount directly — and pointedly — about whether Blount is bothered by the suspicion that he tried to get fired by the Steelers in November, paving the way for his return to New England.

“No it doesn’t bother me, people are going to assume what they are going to assume, I can’t change their minds,” Blount said.

“Are they right?” Manno asked.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“But it does matter,” Manno replied.

“Why does it matter?”

“Because if they’re right then that wouldn’t have been allowed.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Blount said. “People don’t know what they are taking about they just know what they think and everyone is entitled to their opinion whether it’s right or wrong.”

That’s hardly a convincing denial from Blount, who would have been wiser to say that he passed through waivers after he was released and any team could have claimed him and no one did. Instead, three teams made waiver claims for running back Ben Tate, who’d been released by the Browns the same day.

If it was a scam, it was perfectly executed. Blount quit on the Steelers one day after Patriots running back Jonas Gray torched the Colts for 201 yards, creating the clear impression that the Patriots would have no desire to reunite with Blount.

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Wilson thinks NFL fines for Marshawn are excessive

wilsonmarshawn AP

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the NFL’s golden boys, a player who conducts himself in public exactly the way the league wants. But if Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has a different approach, Wilson thinks that’s fine.

Wilson said he thinks the fines that the NFL has threatened Lynch with are excessive. All Wilson cares about is that Lynch is a good teammate.

“There’s times I don’t think he should be fined, that’s for sure, especially to the extent that people try to fine him for,” Wilson said. “That’s just my honest opinion. I think the guy loves the game, people love the way he is, and sometimes people try to take certain things away from people, the way they are. I don’t know. I don’t think he should be fined for it, personally.”

Lynch has risked fines this week both for spending only five minutes a day in the presence of reporters and for wearing his own Beast Mode hats rather than NFL-authorized gear. It wouldn’t be surprising if the NFL ends up fining Lynch so much that he actually loses money for appearing in the Super Bowl. That sounds ridiculous to Wilson — and surely to many NFL players who think the NFL is too heavy-handed in its practice of fining players.

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Austin Collie joins CFL’s B.C. Lions

Austin Collie AP

Austin Collie is headed to the Canadian Football League.

Collie, the former Colts, 49ers and Patriots wide receiver, has signed with the British Columbia Lions, the team said Thursday.

A Hamilton, Ontario native, the 29-year-old Collie has caught 179 passes for 1,908 yards and 13 TDs in five NFL seasons, with the bulk of his experience with Indianapolis from 2009 through 2012. He also had stints with San Francisco and New England in 2013, catching four passes for 57 yards in the 2013 AFC title game with the Patriots. Collie did not play for an NFL club in 2014.

Collie endured multiple significant injuries in his Colts career, missing extended time in 2010 because of a concussion and nearly all of 2012 because of a patellar tendon tear.

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NFL didn’t log the PSI of each Patriots football

Football Getty Images

What was the precise PSI of each of the 12 footballs the Patriots’ offense used in the AFC Championship Game? We’ll probably never know.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino confirmed today that the NFL didn’t log the exact PSI of each football. According to Blandino, when officials inspect footballs to see if they’re properly inflated, they simply approve them or disapprove them.

In other words, although the Patriots did play with under-inflated footballs, the NFL hasn’t kept detailed records of whether those footballs were slightly under-inflated (which could be the result of a change in temperature) or significantly under-inflated (which would indicate that someone purposely let air out of the footballs).

The NFL will apply a low standard of proof to the Deflategate investigation, which means that the NFL doesn’t necessarily need an air-tight case to conclude that the Patriots broke the rules. But anyone who wants the NFL to get to the bottom of this should want the NFL to be as careful as it possibly can to preserve every piece of evidence it possibly can. And a detailed log of the inflation levels of each football is a piece of evidence the NFL should have.

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Earl Thomas apparently angry about random HGH test

NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks Team Media Availability Getty Images

The Seahawks have found something else to be aggravated with the NFL about.

Safety Earl Thomas posted a tweet this morning about being tested for HGH, and some of his teammates aren’t too pleased about it.

According to Ed Werder of ESPN, Thomas wouldn’t elaborate today, but another Seahawks player told him: “We are being treated like criminals, tested like people on parole.”

The league began testing in October, and they tested six players from eight randomly selected teams each week.

So while Thomas might have just coincidentally been on the list for this week, he and his teammates certainly don’t see it that way.

 

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Jonathan Dwyer placed on probation after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct

Jonathan Dwyer AP

Running back Jonathan Dwyer saw his 2014 season come to an early end when the Cardinals placed him on the non-football illness list following an arrest related to an incident with his wife in September.

The legal matters stemming from that arrest came to an end this week when Dwyer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in Maricopa County, Arizona. Maricopa County Superior Court spokesman Vincent Funari said, via the Associated Press, that Dwyer has been sentenced to 18 months of probation and community service as a result of the plea.

Dwyer was originally facing a felony count of aggravated assault and other misdemeanor charges before the plea as a result of the incident, which allegedly featured Dwyer head butting his wife in the face and breaking her nose.

The NFL could discipline Dwyer as well, although it’s not clear how much of a playing future Dwyer has ahead of him given his mediocre on-field production at a position where teams have proven adept at finding productive players on a regular basis.

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Lions have proposed expanding replay to cover penalty calls

Cowboys take down Lions; head to Green Bay next Getty Images

The Lions lost to the Cowboys in the Wild Card round of the playoffs in a game that featured officials picking up a flag for pass interference on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens in the fourth quarter.

That decision helped keep the door open for Dallas to win the game and NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said in the days after the game that there should have been a defensive holding call on the play at the very least. The Lions would like to see all teams have a chance to challenge such rulings in the future.

At a press conference in Arizona Thursday, Blandino said that the Lions have made a proposal to expand replay so that it includes penalty calls in the future.

“We’ve had discussions going back to last offseason talking about expanding replay and adding to the list of reviewable plays,” Blandino said, via the Lions website. “I think when you look at the evolution of replay and where it started, it was always based in fact. Did the football touch the ground? Did the foot touch the sideline? And we stayed away from the areas that involved subjective judgement. There’s always judgement, but there’s different levels of subjective judgement and that was in the areas of pass interference and offensive holding. I think it’s something as the technology has improved and now we have high definition and super slow motion and 4K, all of that technology begs the question can we eliminate some of the mistakes that happen during the game? I think that’s something that’s going to be on the agenda this offseason.”

Over the years, one of the chief objections to expanding replay is that it would lead to slower games. It’s hard to see where there would be a huge rise in the number of challenges if the current arrangement for coaches is kept in place, however, and the ability to make the correct ruling on the field rather than in a press release after a game should be an appealing one.

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