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Week Four Friday 10-pack

It’s Friday morning.  And since the news flow often slows down on Friday morning, we need to fill space.

So we fill space with 10 story lines emanating from the upcoming slate of games.

It’s harder with two or three storyline-worthy teams on a bye, but we eventually found a way to milk the cow this week.


1.  Jets could soon be soaring.

After a disappointing Monday night loss to break in their half of the
New Meadowlands Stadium (it’s sort of like Fred and Barney sharing a
swimming pool
), the Jets have won two in a row against their primary
division rivals.  And they’ve done it with cornerback Darrelle Revis and
linebacker Calvin Pace injured, and with receiver Santonio Holmes on
suspension.

So what happens when those guys come back?

The Vikings could find out on Monday, October 11, when Holmes definitely
be back — and when Revis and/or Pace could be dressed and playing, too.

Considering the level of play that the Jets have achieved without them,
the Jets could be poised to run away with the division.  Until then,
they won’t even have to switch to missiles to shoot down the Bills.

2.  Last chance for Mangini?

The Browns have been competitive in each of their first three games.  But they’ve lost each one.

After this weekend’s visit from the Bengals, the Browns play the Falcons, Steelers, and Saints.  Then comes the bye week.

As a result, a loss to Cincinnati on Sunday would make an 0-7 start
likely, and team president Mike Holmgren could decide to part ways with
coach Eric Mangini.  And so Sunday’s game could be Mangini’s last and
best chance to preserve his job beyond October 31.

If the Browns don’t win in Week Four, and in turn don’t pull off an
unlikely upset of the Falcons, Steelers, or Saints, there’s a chance
that, when the Jets come to Cleveland on November 14, coach Rex Ryan
could be looking across the sideline at his identical twin, Browns
defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

3.  Running back injuries confirm 18-game season concerns.

With Colts president Bill Polian sparking a belated debate regarding the
wisdom of an 18-game season, one of the primary concerns is (or at
least should be) the impact of two additional games on the short-term
and long-term health of the players.

Indeed, with seven running backs (Steven Jackson of the Rams, Pierre
Thomas of the Saints, Jahvid Best of the Lions, Ray Rice of the Ravens,
Cedric Benson of the Bengals, Fred Taylor of the Patriots, and Knowshon
Moreno of the Broncos) already dinged up after only three games and
Reggie Bush of the Saints out with a broken leg, the league and
the union need to be very concerned about the potential consequences of
additional games on the players who take the brunt of the punishment in
the 16 games that already are played.

Though the move from 14 to 16 games in the ’70s occurred without much public discussion or debate, the three-channels television universe and the absence of talk radio and the Internet fueled that outcome.  Besides, players continue to get bigger, faster, and stronger.  When they hit each other, the bones and ligaments we all possess are at more risk than ever before.

4.  Team of destiny wanted.

Last year, it was obvious after three weeks that the Saints and Colts
were headed for big things.  New Orleans hung 45 on the Lions, winning
by 18, and 48 on the Eagles, winning by 26.  Held under 30 by the Bills,
the Saints still won by 20.

The Colts started more slowly, beating the Jags by two and the Dolphins
by four.  By Week Three, however, the Colts had taken down the defending
NFC champions (the Cardinals) by 21.

This year, none of the three remaining undefeated teams have rolled over
their opponents consistently.  The Steelers and the Chiefs won close
games in Week One and Week Two before notching 20-plus point victories in
Week Three.  The Bears have won by five points, seven points, and three
points.

The absence of a team that clearly and definitively is taking care of
its business has reinforced the sense of parity that could be laying the
foundation for a playoff run with plenty of teams still alive, and a
postseason in which anything can happen.

For now, the Steelers are the team most likely to emerge as the team to
beat, but first they have to beat the Ravens on Sunday.  If the Steelers
can’t — and if the Bears lose on the road against the Giants — the
off-this-Sunday Chiefs could be the only undefeated team left after four
weeks of action.

Somewhere, Pete Rozelle will be smiling broadly.

5.  Time for Texans to prove themselves.

When the Texans toppled the Colts to open the season, the team that has
played eight years without a playoff berth seemed to be destined to
finally bust through to the postseason.  But then the Texans struggled
to beat a Redskins team that suddenly has inherited the stink of the
Rams, and the Texans lost fairly convincingly to in-state rivals who
were on the ropes, in danger of being punched through.

So are the Texans a contender, or did they merely give the first game of the season the Daytona 500 treatment?

Beating the Raiders won’t mean conclusively that the Texans are legit,
but losing will mean that Houston isn’t ready to hang with the likes of
the Colts and the Titans in arguably the best division in the
conference, if not the league.

6.  Desperation shifts from Dallas to New York.

Last week, a strong sense of desperation emerged in Dallas, where the
Cowboys had lost their first two games — and faced falling to 0-3 at
the hands of an upstart team from Houston that had started the year 2-0.

The Cowboys found a way to push the dark cloud away last week, and it
now has settled in New York, over the Rubble half of the Fred-and-Barney
pool.  (That’s the third Flintstones reference of the day.  And it’s not even 1966.)

The Giants, after beating the Panthers (who have turned out to be
toothless, de-clawed, malnourished house cats), have been spanked by the Colts and
Titans in successive weeks.  Only 14 days after losing decisively in
Indy, the Giants cannot afford to be embarrassed again before a national
audience.  (On NBC.)

With their backs firmly pressed against the wall and the Bears
overachieving their way through two of their three wins, look for the
Giants to get their act together, if only for a night.

And who knows?  Three years ago, the Giants lost their first two games
and gave up 80 points in the process.  More than four months later, they
only won the Super Bowl.

7.  Fins, Pats face “must” wins.

Yeah, it’s only Week Four.  But with the Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots
getting an early start on their round-robin routine, neither the
Patriots nor the Dolphins can afford to drop to 0-2.

The Dolphins need it even more; they play the Jets in New York on
December 12 and the Pats in New England on January 2.  Already in danger
of being swept by the Jets, the Dolphins can’t afford to lose at home
to New England, if the Dolphins have genuine designs on winning the
division.

The Patriots need this one, too.  But they still get the Jets and the
Dolphins at home.  For the Dolphins, the season could potentially be over less than a
month after it began.

8.  Loss to Browns could help the Bengals in the long run.

The Bengals, despite their 2-1 record, don’t project the same vibe as
they did a year ago.  With a good defense (Week One at New England
notwithstanding) and a capable running back, the Bengals have relied too
heavily on the passing game.

Though T.O. has thrown the offensive line under the bus without overtly
throwing the offensive line under the bus, questions persist regarding
quarterback Carson Palmer.  Whether he has lingering elbow issues or he
simply has lost his zip on the ball, the Bengals seem to be in the same
style of denial that plagued the Panthers in 2009, when they refused to
face reality regarding quarterback Jake Delhomme.

And so a loss to the Browns could help jar the Bengals into facing
reality.   Eventually, they need to ask themselves whether Palmer
truly represents the future of the franchise at the quarterback
position.

With a base salary of $11.5 million due to Palmer in 2011, we’ve got a
feeling that, win or lose on Sunday, the notoriously frugal Bengals will
think long and hard about paying that much money to a guy who has no
career playoff wins, and whose best days may be fading far behind him.

9.  Snyder’s biggest test could be coming.

For more than 11 years, Daniel Snyder has owned the Redskins.  And for
most of that time, Snyder has been impatient when it comes to the men
who are coaching the team.

After two years, Norv Turner was dumped.  (A playoff appearance likely
saved him in 1999.)  Marty Schottenheimer lasted a season.  Steve
Spurrier made it for two.  But for his resume and Hall of Fame bust, Joe
Gibbs may not have made it four years.  Jim Zorn lasted only two.

And throughout most if not all of Zorn’s final year, Snyder was wooing
(or at least planning to woo) Mike Shanahan, the presumed savior of the
franchise.

In Week One, it appeared to be a brilliant move, thanks to an unexpected
win over the Cowboys.  But after blowing a 17-point lead against the
Texans and somehow losing by 14 against the Rams, the Redskins face what
could be a very long day at Lincoln Financial Field.

It gets no easier with the Packers and Colts coming to town, followed by trips to Chicago and Detroit.

Yes, Detroit, where the Lions managed to beat the Redskins in 2009, for
their first win in 22 games.  After a bye, the Redskins have the Eagles
again, the Titans, the Vikings, the Giants twice, and the Cowboys
again.

It all easily could add up to a losing season.  Though the outcome may
be better than 4-12, it easily could be yet another two-digit collection
of losses.  And then Snyder will have to find a way to resist the urge
to act, and to instead commit to staying the course.

Given the open and obvious salivating for Shanahan, there’s no way
Snyder can make a change after only one year.  Based on his history,
however, Snyder surely will approach 2011 with questions swirling in his
mind as to whether there might be another guy out there whose name
Snyder should pencil onto the top of the latest version of his wish
list.

10.  Rams have a chance to make some noise.

Based on their pattern of three wins in 2007, two in 2008, and one in 2009, the Rams were on track to go 0-16 in 2010.

Already, they’ve blown that trend out of the water by climbing to 1-2.

This weekend, the Rams have a chance to break a 10-game losing streak to
the Seahawks, a string that dates back to 2004, when St. Louis took
three games from their division rivals, include two in the usually
impenetrable Qwest Field.

If they can — and if the Cardinals lose in San Diego — the Rams will
find themselves in a  three-way tie atop the division after four weeks.

With three of the next four games against the Lions, Bucs, and Panthers,
the Rams could be on the right side of .500 at the bye.  And that could
give them the confidence they need to make a serious run at the
division crown and the postseason home game that goes along with it.

Sure, they likely won’t win the division.  But the fact that they won’t
be dead in the water with 25 percent of the season in the books is
nothing short of stunning.

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Giants can withdraw Pierre-Paul’s tender, but will they?

New York Giants v New York Jets Getty Images

With Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffering injuries from a fireworks mishap that reportedly aren’t career-threatening, the Giants now must address a more important question regarding his career: Will they rescind his franchise tender?

They can; under Article 10, Section 2(d), the franchise tender can be withdrawn at any time. It would instantly create $14.8 million in cash and cap space, but it also would make Pierre-Paul an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team, with no compensation for the Giants if Pierre-Paul signs with a new team.

But if Pierre-Paul signs the contract, he’s entitled to $14.8 million, fully guaranteed. Article 10, Section 2(c) contains a procedure for terminating a franchise player’s contract for failure “to establish or maintain his excellent physical condition,” which would allow the Giants to pull the plug on the contract if, for example, the Giants realize after he signs the tender that his injuries will keep him from playing.

But that likewise would make Pierre-Paul a free agent. There’s one approach that wouldn’t. The Giants could determine that Pierre-Paul won’t be able to play due to a non-football injury, they can place him on the non-football injury list, and they can elect to not pay him. He would be able to file a grievance challenging the designation, but if the medical evidence due to the fireworks-related injuries is clear, he’ll have a hard time prevailing.

Regardless of how it plays out, the Giants have picked up some leverage. Whether by rescinding the tender or terminating the contract or placing him on NFI, they can drop Pierre-Paul’s compensation for 2015 from $14.8 million to whatever another team would pay a guy with an injured hand to, if they choose the NFI route, nothing. This dynamic could push Pierre-Paul’s expectations on a long-term deal toward a range that Giants are willing to satisfy.

At a minimum, the injury could result in a structure that pays Pierre-Paul based in part on his ability to play, primarily through the use of per-game roster bonuses. Since Pierre-Paul is responsible for the injuries that have now created real questions about his ability to play, he should be amenable to a contract that protects the Giants in the event that he can’t.

Either way, the clock continues to tick. The Giants and Pierre-Paul have 10 days to work out a long-term deal, or the only option will be a one-year contract.

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Jason Pierre-Paul’s fireworks injury not believed career threatening

Houston Texans v New York Giants Getty Images

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul hurt his hand in a fireworks accident on the Fourth of July, but there is some good news to report.

Pierre-Paul’s injury is not believed to be career threatening, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

As we in the United States celebrate our nation’s birthday, fireworks are, for millions of Americans, part of the fun. But they’re not without their risks. The fifth of July is always a day full of news stories about injuries in fireworks accidents, and yesterday at least one man died while setting off fireworks.

Pierre-Paul easily could have lost his hand, or worse. If he survived this accident with his career intact, he can count himself as lucky.

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Raiders take out full-page ad to support U.S. women’s team

AlDavis Getty Images

As the U.S. national women’s soccer team prepares to face Japan in the final match of the World Cup, the Raiders have issued something far more significant than the perfunctory tweet in support of the effort.

Via the Sunday Night Football twitter page, the Raiders took out a full page ad in the Vancouver Sun, with a photo of star player Alex Morgan and beneath it the slogan “Just Win Baby,” along with the Raiders logo.

The match starts at 7:00 p.m. ET. The U.S. women’s team last won the World Cup in 1999.

The ad appeared in Saturday’s edition, which was the 86th anniversary of the birth of former owner Al Davis.

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Report: Jason Pierre-Paul injured in fireworks accident

Indianapolis Colts v New York Giants Getty Images

For many of us, last night was a chance to blow off some steam, if not some fingers.

But Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul might have gotten a little too close to the action.

According to Andy Slater of WINZ in Miami, Pierre-Paul “severely injured” his hand in a fireworks accident last night.

A woman who said she was his neighbor tweeted out a photo of a “truck load of fireworks,” showing large boxes in a van.

Details at this point are few, but this could potentially have a huge impact on him and the Giants, as he hasn’t signed his franchise tender worth $14.8 million, and they’d have a tremendous lack of pass rush without him if he missed an extended amount of time.

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New U-T San Diego column argues city may be better off without Chargers

Breakup

As the Chargers prepare to break up with San Diego, San Diego seems to be preparing to tell the Chargers, “I. Am Breaking up with you.”

Beyond the unscientific U-T San Diego poll that shows a preference to keep Comic-Con over keeping the Chargers, a new column from Dan McSwain of U-T San Diego argued that the town may be better off without the team.

McSwain calls a new stadium “a bad business deal for the public,” with hidden costs beyond up-front taxpayer expenses driving the contribution much higher. Then there’s the question of whether having an NFL team in town actually generates significant revenue.

As a practical matter, the column gives those not inclined to subsidize a new NFL stadium more ammunition for arguments with those who do. And if gives those who are on the fence about the issue ammunition for coming to a conclusion that having the Chargers move 90 miles up the road may not be such a bad thing.

Ultimately, it gives San Diego a way to fire a middle finger back at the franchise that currently is displaying both of them in the direction of the city.

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Ron Wolf knows Holmgren failed in Cleveland because he couldn’t find a quarterback

Holmgren Getty Images

Soon, Ron Wolf will enter the Hall of Fame in Canton. Just up the road resides a team with which he has multiple connections.

In addition to a short stint with the Browns in 2004 that ended quickly because then-coach Butch Davis “got a bee up wherever one gets a bee up,” Wolf had a key role in recommending the hire of Mike Holmgren as CEO by former owner Randy Lerner.

So what went wrong in Cleveland for the guy who coached the Packers team Wolf built to a Super Bowl win?

It didn’t work,” Wolf tells the Canton Repository. “I don’t know the reason why it didn’t.”

And then Wolf touched on the potential reason..

“They tried to bring a quarterback in,” Wolf said. “They brought [Colt] McCoy in, and it didn’t work. They brought [Brandon] Weeden in, and it didn’t work.”

The decision to use a first-round pick on Weeden confused Wolf.

“I was shocked when they brought Weeden in only because, from being around Mike, his first thing about a quarterback was feet,” Wolf said. “It was the first thing Mike talked about . . . feet. That guy had no feet. . . .

“To me, the No. 1 tenet in the game is, you’ve got to have a quarterback. If you don’t have a quarterback, then you can’t play. They didn’t get that guy.”

The Browns are still looking for that guy, an admission that 2014 first-rounder Johnny Manziel likely won’t become that guy and an acknowledgement that veteran Josh McCown is merely the dog-paddle option while they keep searching for that guy.

As long as there are NFL teams looking for that guy, plenty of guys who already are that guy with another team will be paid plenty of dollars to keep that guy from becoming that guy with another team.

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Mike Tice: Trent Richardson’s “quickness came around”

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There’s no clearer sign that running back Trent Richardson’s career has not gone as planned than the fact that he’s starting his fourth NFL season on his third team after being the third overall pick by the Browns in the 2012 draft.

If there’s an optimistic spin to put on Richardson signing with the Raiders after an ineffective pair of years in Indianapolis following a trade with Cleveland for a first-round pick, it’s that Richardson will get a fresh start with a new coaching staff. While discussing all of the team’s options at running back, offensive line coach Mike Tice said that the Alabama product has made a good early impression in Oakland.

“Each one has their own style,” Tice said on Sirius XM NFL Radio, via the Raiders website. “I like the [Latavius] Murray kid. He really came on in that veteran mini-camp. He got his legs under him and showed some quickness, some good finish. I thought the young man out of Alabama came on. He lost some weight, his quickness came around.”

Richardson hasn’t gotten high marks on quickness in his first two stops, making Tice’s observation a step in the right direction for a player who hasn’t taken enough of them in the last three years.

The Raiders also have Roy Helu, whose “nice hands” got a compliment from Tice as well, so there’s plenty of competition for playing time in Oakland this season. Murray is at the top of that list, but Richardson may work himself into another chance if he can keep doing things that the coaching staff likes once camp gets underway.

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Packers issue statement on Andrew Quarless, saying little

Atlanta Falcons v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

After Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was accused of firing two shots during an argument with a group of women, it wouldn’t have been at all surprising if the Packers had issued a statement saying they had cut him. So the Packers’ actual statement is good news for Quarless.

Instead of cutting him immediately, the Packers have issued the boilerplate statement that teams often issue when a player finds himself in off-field trouble.

“We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information. We will withhold further comment,” the team’s statement said.

Unless the “more information” the Packers gather shows that he’s been falsely accused, there’s still a very good chance he’s going to find himself unemployed before the start of training camp.

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Odell Beckham: One-handed catch “still a little crazy to me”

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Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham made several big plays during his rookie season, but any list of his highlights will start with his leaping, one-handed touchdown catch against the Cowboys on November 23.

The Giants lost the game, although that didn’t do anything to dim the luster of Beckham’s grab in the days, weeks and months after the game. In an interview to accompany his naked photos in ESPN the Magazine, Beckham said it is “unfortunate, in a way, to be known only for ‘the catch'” because of all the things he accomplished as a rookie.

Acclaim for Beckham’s rookie output went well beyond praise for that catch, which even Beckham finds it hard to believe he pulled off.

“When I watch it, I’m like, ‘Wow, that really happened!’ It’s still a little crazy to me. I envisioned myself making some kind of catch in the end zone, but I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be,” Beckham said. “You have to have a picture of what you want to do before you can do it — I learned that from [Cardinals safety] Tyrann Mathieu. I knew that I was capable of it, but just seeing it and the reaction to it, it was by far the craziest thing that has ever happened to me.”

As long as Beckham is healthy, something the team can’t take for granted after more hamstring trouble this offseason, there should be plenty more highlights to come in 2015. None of them may surpass his catch against the Cowboys, but it will be even harder to believe that anyone knows him just for one catch if he can replicate the rest of his 2014 work.

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Ronde Barber sees “zero fear” in Jameis Winston

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Minicamp Getty Images

Former Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber struck plenty of fear in the hearts of quarterbacks, thanks to a level of versatility that made his approach to any given play unpredictable. But Barber apparently wouldn’t have rattled new Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, because Barber sees in Winston a guy who won’t get rattled.

[H]e plays with zero fear,” Barber recently said, via JoeBucsFan.com. “He’ll let go of any ball. He has that confidence.

“I’ve played against guys that have supreme confidence in themselves and their ability to make plays. You can already see it. He has no fear letting the ball go.”

Barber said he has seen fear from Winston’s predecessor at Florida State, EJ Manuel.

“He’s timid. He holds the ball,” Barber said of Manuel. “He’s scared to deliver it when he needs to. [Winston] is the complete opposite, maybe to a detriment at times. He throws a lot of interceptions.”

Despite the interception, Barber used what he dubbed a “tired-ass cliche” in saying Winston has “that ‘it,’ that bravado, that gunslinger mentality.”

Still, the mentality has to be matched by the physicality. Can Winston hold up between the white lines against the freakish athletes who play defense in the NFL? If the answer to that question is no, he’ll end up losing his bravado, quickly.

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Austin Collie catches TD in CFL debut

AFC Championship: New England Patriots Vs. Denver Broncos Getty Images

July is a very slow month in the NFL until training camps open and July 4 falling on Saturday means it has been even quieter than usual the last few days, but it was opening weekend for the B.C. Lions in the CFL.

That meant it was also time for wide receiver Austin Collie to get back on a field for a meaningful game since he was with the Patriots during the 2013 season. Collie’s NFL career, most of which was spent with the Colts, was derailed by concussions, but he’s healthy and made a positive impact in a losing cause for the Lions.

Collie caught five passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, suggesting he’s right to feel that his tank isn’t on empty yet.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s so much for the love of the game,” Collie said, via the Salt Lake Tribune. “I just felt like I wasn’t done. That feeling of not being done, that’s what kept my drive going.”

The Lions lost 27-16 to the Ottawa Redblacks in the debut for Collie and head coach Jeff Tedford, who was supposed to be the offensive coordinator in Tampa last year before a health problem kept him away from the team. Henry Burris, who had stints with the Packers and Bears, threw three touchdowns for Ottawa.

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Vick’s former dogfighting property returns to the spotlight

Vick AP

For multiple years, then-Falcons quarterback Mike Vick ran a dogfighting operation under the nose of Surry County, Virginia prosecutor Gerald Poindexter. Once the dogfighting operation was discovered, Poindexter created the impression in the opinion of some (including me) that he was dragging his feet, looking for a reason not to prosecute Vick. After the federal government swooped in an obtained an indictment, a guilty plea, and an admission from Vick that he had killed multiple dogs that were deemed unfit to fight, Poindexter still wasn’t even able to get an indictment from a grand jury on state-level charges of animal cruelty.

But Poindexter was able to initiate charges against the folks who transformed Vick’s property, the site of Bad Newz Kennels, into The Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.

As explained by the Associated Press, Poindexter filed charges against the group’s founder and executive director, Tamira Thayne, after authorities seized a pit bull from the facility. She was accused of animal cruelty and failure to provide adequate care to a companion animal, but a judge later ordered that the dog be returned. Poindexter then dropped the charges.

That wasn’t the end of it. Thayne has filed a federal lawsuit against Surry County chief animal control officer Tracy Terry and others. The lawsuit states that the charges were rooted in retribution.

“Thayne has been an outspoken critic of Surry County, Prosecutor Gerald Poindexter, and Surry County Animal Control’s anemic handling of the Michael Vick dogfighting enterprise and belated prosecution,” the civil complaint alleges.

The case is ongoing, and the Good Newz Rehab Center continues to operate, rescuing, rehabilitating, and adopting roughly 400 dogs. There are plans to expand Vick’s former property to house up to 50 dogs at a time.

Meanwhile, Vick continues to look for his next NFL opportunity, after five seasons with the Eagles and one with the Jets. There’s a belief that some teams have shied away from Vick and will continue to do so because of his dogfighting history. The publication of an AP story about his former dogfighting property during the NFL news void of Fourth of July weekend won’t make any teams that feel this way any more inclined to pursue him.

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Romo will move his fantasy football event to Los Angeles next year

Tony Romo AP

The NFL strong-armed Tony Romo into scrapping plans to host a fantasy football convention in Las Vegas. But Romo isn’t getting out of the fantasy football game.

Asked about the issue in an interview with his hometown newspaper in Burlington, Wisconsin, Romo said he was disappointed to miss the opportunity to interact with fans at the convention, but he’s going to do it again next year — in an NFL-approved venue.

“We just wanted a chance to have fans interact with their favorite players,” Romo said. “We’re going to do it next year in Los Angeles in 2016. It will be a chance to learn about fantasy football. You can learn about technique, why you should start someone versus certain coverages. Little things that the average person wouldn’t know the details on. It’d be neat to get out there and be up close with your favorite players. A bunch of Packers and Cowboys will be there. I still haven’t play fantasy football, but you see an avenue for the people to enjoy football.”

Romo was caught in the middle of the NFL’s seemingly contradictory efforts to embrace fantasy football while simultaneously distancing itself from gambling. Next year, when the league will likely be relocating a team to Los Angeles, the NFL will be all for Romo’s fantasy football event.

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Elvis Dumervil: If I get 23 sacks, we’ll be in Super Bowl

Baltimore Ravens v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Players can sometimes be criticized for putting individual goals ahead of team ones, but Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil has found a way to combine the two.

Dumervil enters this season 10 sacks shy of 100 for his career, but that’s not the major milestone that’s on his mind. Dumervil is taking aim at Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record by keeping a note with “23” written on it in his locker and he’s quick to point out that his motivation isn’t just about the accolades that would come from raising the bar.

“If I can hit that number, that’ll mean we’ll be in the Super Bowl for sure,” Dumervil said, via the Baltimore Sun. “You try to win games, you try to win championships. To me, there’s nothing more important, because you can have the stats and accolades, but if you’re sitting home, it really doesn’t do any justice.”

Dumervil was third in the NFL with 17 sacks last season, setting a new Ravens single-season record in the process, and he should continue to be a major threat to quarterbacks who also have to keep an eye on Dumervil’s teammate Terrell Suggs. Upping that number won’t be out of the question, although it will take more than a big year for Dumervil to land the Ravens a trip to Santa Clara next February.

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Sunday morning one-liners

AlDavis Getty Images

Five offensive playmakers to keep an eye on at Bills camp.

TE Arthur Lynch is hoping for a better second season with the Dolphins.

Seeing similarities between this year’s Patriots Defense and last year’s Lions unit.

QB Jake Heaps faces an uphill climb to make the Jets.

Breaking down the biggest questions about the Ravens.

DT Brandon Thompson could be a big part of the Bengals run defense.

Ron Wolf reminisced about his brief time with the Browns.

The Steelers have put together a team of their best players since 1992.

Five pass rushers the Texans will have to tangle with this season.

The Colts celebrated July 4 with a montage of national anthems.

Jaguars director of pro personnel Chris Driggers has been with the team since the beginning.

Five things to keep in mind regarding the Titans and QB Marcus Mariota.

Broncos players have kept tattoo artist Ortavio Griego busy in recent years.

The Chiefs are highlighting TE Travis Kelce’s best plays from last season.

Ten of the best quotes from late Raiders owner Al Davis.

How big a problem will TE Antonio Gates’s absence be for the Chargers?

Cowboys QB Tony Romo was nervous about throwing a pass to Luke Bryan during the Country Music Awards.

A look at the potential role for fullbacks in the Giants Offense.

The Eagles will miss facing some top defensive players thanks to suspensions early in the season.

Which Redskins backups could move into the starting lineup?

CB Kyle Fuller is learning his second scheme in as many years with the Bears.

Lions CB Darius Slay is acting as a mentor to rookie Alex Carter.

Looking ahead to training camp with Packers president Mark Murphy.

Reviewing a decade of Vikings ownership by the Wilf family.

The Falcons are one of the teams with a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

Amini Silatolu could be a key player on the Panthers offensive line.

A pre-camp preview of Saints WR Seantavius Jones.

What’s the deepest position on the Buccaneers roster?

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is one of many practitioners of deception in the world of sports.

Musing about whether the addition of QB Nick Foles makes the Rams a playoff team.

S Craig Dahl is one of the 49ers veterans who will be fighting for jobs at training camp.

Is Seahawks RB Christine Michael on the roster bubble?

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