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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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Wednesday morning one-liners

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The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle is bullish about the chances of keeping the Bills in Buffalo.

Said Dolphins G.M. Dennis Hickey of his draft philosophy, “You work according to best player available. There’s always variables when it comes to the draft, whether it’s the player evaluation part and there’s always the medical aspect. Then there’s evaluating the character and the makeup of the player. There’s so many variables. But we feel like it’s a good draft and we’re excited about it. We continue every day to try to build the best 53-man roster and of course the offensive line is part of that.”

Players on the Patriots joined other Boston athletes to commemorate the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.

With three 30-year-old starters, don’t be surprised if the Jets draft an offensive lineman.

Former Ravens LB Ray Lewis sold his oceanfront mansion in Florida for $4.77 million, $500,000 less than he paid for it in 2004.

Lots of people think the Bengals will draft Ohio State CB Bradley Roby.

It’s been a year since the feds raided the headquarters of Pilot Flying J, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s family business, and no one knows where the investigation will end.

The Steelers drafted nine players in 2009, and none of them are still in Pittsburgh.

The Texans have now signed six unrestricted free agents: DT Ricardo Mathews, DT Jerrell Powe, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, FS Kendrick Lewis, SS Chris Clemons and RB Andre Brown.

The Colts, who already used their first-round pick on RB Trent Richardson, might try to trade down in the second round to acquire more picks.

Jaguars coach Gus Braadley is talking up Jadeveon Clowney’s passion for the game.

Titans WR Nate Washington embraces the “old man” role in the locker room.

Broncos LB Von Miller is working hard at rehabbing his image.

A receiver or safety would make sense for the Chiefs in the first round.

The Raiders are showing interest in former Oregon S Terrance Mitchell.

The Chargers are working out local prospects today.

Does Cowboys coach Jason Garrett concentrate on the wrong things?

The Giants remain in the market for a backup quarterback after one of their targets, Matt Flynn, signed with the Packers.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly is accused by one writer of letting his ego get in the way of making the right personnel decisions.

Washington would like to draft a tall receiver, but that’s not the team’s top priority.

Notre Dame DT Louis Nix could be a draft target of the Bears.

Should the Lions trade up to draft Clemson WR Sammy Watkins?

Although he’s struggled elsewhere, Matt Flynn always seems to fit in Green Bay.

New Vikings strength coach Evan Marcus has the players working more with free weights and less with machines.

Auburn DE Dee Ford could make sense for the Falcons.

The Panthers need a receiver, and one mock draft has them getting USC WR Marqise Lee.

The Saints are looking at bolstering the secondary in the draft.

Buccaneers RB Mike James says he’s recovering from a broken ankle and, “I’ve got a good opportunity to do what I need to do to get back in the swing of things and get acclimated with everything.”

After just missing the playoffs last year, expectations are high in Arizona for the upcoming Cardinals season.

The 49ers’ signing of WR Brandon Lloyd represents his career coming full circle.

The Rams have honored a local middle school for its students’ commitment to physical activity.

The Seahawks are showing a lot of interest in wide receivers during the pre-draft process.

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Houston schools stop using “Redskins” and other insensitive names

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As the NFL team in Washington continues to defend its use of the name Redskins, the franchise often points out that many high schools use the name. What the team doesn’t point out is that many schools are dropping the name, too.

Despite the team’s claim that “70 different high schools” use the name Redskins, several reports have indicated that the number is actually lower than that, and the Redskins are counting high schools that have already stopped using the name. The latest school to drop the name is Lamar High School in Houston, which announced this week that it will stop going by the name Redskins and start calling its teams the Texans.

That decision was part of a new policy announced by the Houston school district, preventing schools from using team names that are viewed as insensitive. Teams called the Indians, Warriors and Rebels are also changing their names.

The Washington Redskins, however, say they will never change.

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Blake Bortles in Houston for meeting with Texans

Blake Bortles AP

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles has long been connected as a possibly fit for the Houston Texans with the No.1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

The Texans need a quarterback. Bortles is a quarterback. It kind of makes sense, right?

After meeting with the Oakland Raiders on Monday, Bortles arrived in Houston Tuesday night for a meeting with the Texans on Wednesday.

Bortles met with Texans’ brass at the combine and general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien were both on hand for Bortles’ pro day workout as well.

They’ve been great,” Bortles said from the William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, via James Palmer of CSNHouston.com “He’s a great guy and a great coach. I’m just excited to get here, meet everybody and sit down and talk with everybody again. So I’m really looking forward to it.”

Bortles, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater are the three likely selections the Texans have to choose between if they want to take a quarterback with their top selection in the draft. Houston also has scheduled a pre-draft visit with Manziel set for next week.

The Texans know they are taking a quarterback at some point in the draft. If it will be at No. 1, Bortles and Manziel seem to have become the two options Houston is focusing on the most.

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Report: Pair of South Carolina prospects wanted for police questioning

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A pair of prospects from the University of South Carolina is apparently wanted for questioning by police in relation to an incident at a New York City nightclub last week.

According to TMZ, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and cornerback Victor Hampton are “wanted for questioning at the very least” stemming from an alleged attack at Greenhouse nightclub.

A club promoter allegedly suffered “extensive facial injuries” after being allegedly attacked by three men. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

With less than four weeks to go until the NFL Draft, college prospects are still directly under the spotlight of teams as they continue to adjust and tweak their draft boards. While the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, it likely won’t benefit Quarles and Hampton to have their names tied to a police investigation.

Both players are expected to be drafted based on projections. However, if they are found to be involved in this incident it could affect just when teams decided to take a chance on the,.

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Chris Johnson says Jets visit went well but no decision yet

Cory Redding, Chris Johnson AP

Free agent running back Chris Johnson visited with the New York Jets on Tuesday. It was his first visit since being released by the Tennessee Titans earlier this month.

After visiting with the Jets, Johnson decided to take in Tuesday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. While at the game, he spoke with multiple reporters regarding his visit.

Per Josina Anderson of ESPN, Johnson said “I had a great visit with the Jets. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”

Johnson reiterated those thoughts to Peter Botte of the New York Daily News but added he’s “not ready to make my decision.

Johnson had a down year in 2013 for Tennessee but still posted his sixth straight 1,000-yard season. However, the 3.9 yards per carry were the lowest mark of his career.

The Jets ranked sixth in the league in rushing last season with Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory as the primary options out of the backfield. Johnson would likely work in as part of a rotation alongside Powell and Ivory should he elect to sign with the Jets. But, Johnson is also a home run threat whose speed could be a real addition to the lineup.

For now, Johnson isn’t ready to make a decision as he’s possibly holding out for a better offer from the Jets or another team. However, if he doesn’t make a decision soon, teams may elect to wait until after the draft to re-evaluate their needs and Johnson may have to wait to find a new home.

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Lions intend to split the running back role between Bush and Bell

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The Lions have a pair of potent tailbacks.  And they plan to use both of them.  Perhaps equally.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Tuesday that Reggie Bush and Joique Bell will share the load.

“[T]his game is a violent game anymore and it’s hard for one running back to get all the carries,” Lombardi said.  “So much like they did last year, I see these guys kind of having a split role and both being very productive.”

Last year, Bush and Bell became the first teammates in league history to rack up both 500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season.

Based on salaries, Bush likely is in line to be the starter.  But Bell will get plenty of opportunities, and the shared role will help both guys stay healthy deeper into the season — and to play deeper into the decade.

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Derek Carr isn’t lacking in confidence

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When it comes to the 2014 crop of rookie quarterbacks, most consider three of them to be at the top of the heap:  Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, and Johnny Manziel.

There’s a fourth guy who believes he’s better than all of them.

Appearing on NFL Network on Tuesday, Fresno State’s Derek Carr was asked whether he’s the best quarterback in the draft.

Absolutely,” Carr said.  “And I say that with respect to all of the other guys because they are great competitors and all of those good things.  Of course it’s not easy for me to answer a question like that but I absolutely think so.  There is no doubt in my mind and we can turn the film on, sit down and watch it, and we’ll talk about it and I’ll convince you.”

Plenty of franchises are interested in having that conversation with a potential franchise quarterback.  In a separate appearance on the league-owned broadcast channel, Carr rattled off a list of teams with which he has met.

“Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Tampa, Minnesota – just the first that come off the top of my head,” Carr said.  “Tennessee.  I’ve been with them, working out with them, visiting with them, talking to them, the whole process.  Those have been the initial ones so far.”

Carr’s brother, David, was the first pick in the 2002 draft.  After five years as the starter in Houston, Carr has served as a backup with the Panthers, Giants, 49ers, and Giants again.

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Trump has realistic shot of being approved

Trump AP

Despite the bluster, the bravado, and the convenient revisions to the history of his antagonism of the NFL, billionaire Donald Trump would have a good chance of being approved as owner of the Bills, if the family of Ralph Wilson decides to sell the team to him.

“I don’t see why not,” a source with direct knowledge of the dynamics of team ownership told PFT on Tuesday.  “He’s the only one saying it will stay in Buffalo.”

But what of Trump’s thirst for attention, his potential inability to put the greater good above his own interests, his tendency to be belligerent and combative with real or imagined enemies?

“I don’t think there are nine people to stop him,” the source said, in reference to the fact that nine “no” votes from other owners can block the sale.

Of course, a vote of the owners won’t matter unless the Wilson family chooses to sell the team to Trump.  It’s one thing for Trump to talk publicly about buying the franchise.  It’s quite another to put the cash and financing together to make the purchase.

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Anthony Barr intrigued by playing in Dallas

Barr AP

The Cowboys need defensive linemen.  And multiple defensive linemen in the draft pool would like to play for the Cowboys.  The question is whether they’ll be there when the Cowboys are on the clock.

And whether the Cowboys will move up the board to get them.

A day after Pitt’s Aaron Donald visited Big D, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr arrived.  And he talked about his interest in the Cowboys.

“There’s pros and cons to every team and everywhere you go, but if I were a Cowboy, that would be really a blessing, truly a dream come true – a team I watched growing up,” Barr said, via the team’s official website.  “It would just be surreal.  I would be really appreciative to be here.”

During his visit, Barr spent time with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

“He showed me a lot of tape of [Julius] Peppers and Simeon Rice and [Warren] Sapp, so I think he wants me playing that defensive right end position to go after the quarterback, and that’s something I’m all for,” Barr said.

Barr also was a little star struck by the folks from the team with the blue star.

“I met Jerry Jones last night, and I couldn’t believe it,” Barr said.  “I couldn’t even talk at first, like, ‘This is Jerry Jones.’  It was a pretty cool experience, so these guys get my respect right off the bat.”

He’ll get their respect if he becomes a Cowboy, and if he helps lead the team back to the days of glory.

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Report: 49ers “very unlikely” to pick up option on Aldon Smith

AldonSmith AP

The 49ers have until May 3 to decide whether to extend the contract of linebacker Aldon Smith from four years to five.  In the wake of his latest off-field incident, we reported that the 49ers haven’t made a decision on whether to pick up the option.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the team is “very unlikely” to extend the deal.

Kawakami also believes that Smith “probably” won’t play for the 49ers in 2014.  The mechanism for Smith’s unavailability is unclear.  He could be suspended by the league under multiple policies and/or he could be placed on the non-football injury/illness list by the team if he has had a relapse of his alcohol issues.

The decision not to exercise the option reinforces the notion that the 49ers may indeed be done with Smith, at least for now.  Exercising the option would guarantee his 2015 salary of $9.75 million for injury only.  As of next March, it would be fully guaranteed.

For now, Smith’s 2014 salary also is guaranteed.  A suspension would wipe out the guarantee, however.  Likewise, if the 49ers were to place Smith on the NFI list, they wouldn’t have to pay him.

The risk of owing him $9.75 million in 2015 remains small.  Which would make a decision not to pick up the option confusing.  If the 49ers are done with Smith, why not trade him?  He’d be more attractive in trade if his new team would control his rights for two years.

Regardless of how the situation plays out, the 49ers clearly are exploring their options.  And those options include Smith never suiting up for the 49ers again.

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Report: Rolando McClain’s workout with Ravens “not a roaring success”

Oakland Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

In a recent interview with the Carroll County Times, linebacker Rolando McClain indicated he wanted to restart his NFL career with the Ravens, who hold his rights after his retirement last spring.

Well, McClain reportedly had a workout with the Ravens, and the first accounts of that meeting are not flattering for the 2010 first-round pick.

According to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network, McClain’s workout, from what she was told, “was NOT [her emphasis] a roaring success,” with the linebacker not completing the conditioning part of the exercise.

According to Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times, the workout was conducted Tuesday, and it “did not go well.”

Speaking at the NFL meetings in March, Ravens coach John Harbaugh made it clear the club would welcome back McClain, but only if he were diligent about his craft.

“If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of excited about him,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN.com. “If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”

The 24-year-old McClain last appeared in an NFL game in 2012 with Oakland.

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Falcons waive Saeed Lee, Adam Nissley

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The Falcons waived defensive back Saeed Lee and tight end Adam Nissley on Tuesday, the club said.

Lee and Nissley spent the 2013 season on injured reserve.

The 23-year-old Lee signed with the Falcons last May after going undrafted out of Alabama State. He reportedly suffered a leg injury in training camp.

Nissley, 25, also spent the 2012 season on injured reserve. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nissley suffered two ACL tears in his time with the Falcons. A UCF product, Nissley signed with Atlanta in April 2012.

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Source: Schedule release planned for April 22

NFL Getty Images

When it comes to the 2014 schedule, the NFL has said that the target for the release is mid-April, but that the schedule won’t be released this week.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL currently plans to release the schedule on Tuesday, April 22.

The unveiling of the schedule could be shifted to Wednesday, April 23 or Thursday, April 24.  For now, though, the plan is to pull the sheet off the 256-game slate on Tuesday.

Look for the schedule to be announced in prime-time, with a multi-hour event on NFL Network and something similar to that on ESPN, complete with (if last year’s trend holds) an effort to make preliminary picks for games to be played in December.

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NCAA begins circling the wagons, starting with food

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The NCAA has done plenty of huffing and puffing in the wake of the effort of Northwestern’s football team to unionize.  The NCAA will now try to blow their house down.

With food.

On Tuesday, the NCAA’s Legislative Council determined that student-athletes “can receive unlimited meals and snacks in conjunction with their athletics participation.”

So now college football coaches can punctuate meetings by saying, “Let’s go eat a goddamn snack.”

The move won’t become official until April 24, if/when the NCAA Board of Directors approves the move.  It would be a shock if they nix it, since preventing something that many assumed already was available to student-athletes could be the moment that the push to secure significantly better treatment for them fully crystallizes.

Then again, that may have already happened.

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NFL could discipline Aldon Smith without resolution of pending charges

Smith Getty Images

The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy gives a player the benefit of the doubt when he finds himself in one wrong-place/wrong-time situation.  The policy isn’t as forgiving when it happens two or more times.

With 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith now involved in a second incident that falls under the Personal Conduct Policy, he could be disciplined before either or both situations are resolved in court.

“With respect to repeat offenders, the Commissioner may impose discipline on an enhanced and/or expedited basis,” the league’s Personal Conduct Policy states.  “In such cases, the timing and nature of the discipline will be determined by the Commissioner based on several factors including, but not limited to:  the severity of the initial charge and the later charge, the facts underlying the later charge; the length of time between the initial offense and later charge; and the player or employee’s compliance with counseling and other programs.”

Last year, Smith was charged with multiple felony counts arising from the alleged possession of illegal weapons.  He now faces an eventual felony charge arising from the allegation that he made a false claim of having a bomb while in an airport security line.

With a pair of pending felony incidents, that could be enough to prompt the NFL to move against Smith sooner rather than later.

Multiple players have been suspended by the NFL while charges were still pending.  Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games (reduced to four) without ever being even arrested or charged.

Smith’s multiple alcohol-related arrests fall under the substance-abuse policy.  The NFL could be influenced by those incidents when deciding whether to discipline Smith before either of the two non-alcohol charges has been resolved.

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