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Week Five Friday 10-pack

As the new ’68 VW bus rolls toward the train that will roll me to New York, I justify the write off by banging out the weekly Friday 10-pack.

This week, the write off extends to Tuesday, thanks to the Vikings-Jets Monday night game in the New Meadowlands Stadium.

I’ll be joining Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, and Greg Coleman of the Vikings Radio Network for the third quarter of the game, with the goal of being a little less disastrous than Christian Slater on Monday Night Football in 2006.

And so this week’s edition of the Friday 10-pack puts a little extra focus on the Monday night game.


1.  What will Favre do?

When the Vikings’ offense lines up to play the Jets on Monday night, quarterback Brett Favre will face a dilemma.

When Moss takes off down the field, drawing a cornerback from the line and a safety over the top, will Favre choose to try to be on the front end of one of those legendary rainbows that splash down into Randy’s arms, with Moss somehow securing possession even as he’s draped by two or three men — and possibly an official?  Or will Favre check down to one of the guys who’ll be facing single coverage, like Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe, or Adrian Peterson?

Favre acknowledged the dilemma during his press conference on Thursday.

“I’m like everyone else,” Favre said. “I’m watching the Monday night game, and I’m like, ‘He’s only been thrown to one time?’  So what if he’s covered?  That’s the thing about Randy.  So what if he’s covered?  But does that mean you just throw it to him and you got four other guys that are wide open?  There’s this added pressure.  Maybe it’s just I’m getting old.”

Favre needs to forget about the pressure and just play.  And he needs to defer to the coaches when it comes to distributing the football.  In some cases, it will make sense to chuck it deep, even if Moss is triple-covered.  In other cases, the smart move will be to take what the defense gives Favre.

And that’s why Favre is feeling pressure.  He knows his nature meshes with winging it deep, on pretty much every drive.  And in what apparently will be his final season (unless it isn’t), Favre finally has a guy who reliably will be in position to catch one out of every two or three of those bombs.  

How can Favre resist?  

2.  Revis need to zip it.

Earlier this year, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis called Randy Moss a slouch.  In Week Two, that slouch blew by Revis and made a one-handed grab for the ages, as Revis was playing the Al Czervik broken arm routine

Now, with Revis still recovering from a Moss-induced hamstring strain that traces to Revis’ August holdout, Revis again is taking shots at Moss, claiming that Randy shut it down in the second half of Pats-Jets game.  Revis even has influenced Antonio Cromartie, who by all appearances held Moss in check on a day Revis couldn’t, to join in the chorus, even though it minimizes Cromartie’s accomplishment from Week Two.  

Revis, who seems like a smart guy, isn’t smart enough.  He should take a cue from Bill Belichick and smother Randy in verbal bouquets.  Few other players find more motivation from external sources than Moss, and Moss will be even more ready to face the Jets, thanks to Revis and Cromartie.

3.  Pats set a dangerous precedent.

The circumstances were familiar.  A disgruntled receiver who wants more money from his current team or a trade to a new one begins to cause trouble, agitating and distracting until he gets what he wants or the whole thing explodes.

Five years ago, the “original 81” took that situation to the extreme, pushing the Eagles to the breaking point and beyond after Terrell Owens’ performance against the Patriots in the Super Bowl prompted Owens to push for a new contract.  The Eagles refused to relent, concerned in part that other players could thereafter try to talk their own way out of town.

With the “other 81” (who is now back to being the “original 84”), the Patriots decided not to dig in their heels, giving Moss what he wanted before the situation involved shirtless situps or press conferences featuring guys saying “next question.”  (OK, the second thing still happened anyway.)

Some will now say that the Patriots have set a dangerous precedent.  And anyone who would say that would be right.  Moss has given any future Patriot who wants a new deal or a trade to a team who’ll give him one a blueprint for getting out.

But here’s the thing.  Moss’ talent level and his accomplishments made the team more likely to relent.  Also, when the Pats acquired him in 2007, the transaction represented at a certain level a deal with the devil.  They knew that, eventually, the Moss who metastasized through the Minnesota and Oakland organizations would return, and they accepted the fact that, when it happens, they’ll deal with it.

Moving forward, the precedent that has been set may not be a problem because the Pats seem to be recommitting to the notion of acquiring only those guys who want to be there.    

4.  Will Cushing be the same?

Though most of the attention in Houston this week centers on receiver Andre Johnson, who’ll be a game-time decision a week after missing a game due to a lingering ankle problem, another player who should be watched carefully going forward is linebacker Brian Cushing, the two-time (literally) 2009 Associated Press defensive rookie of the year.

Cushing returns from a four-game suspension.  Unlike the other high-profile players whose quarter-season banishments have ended (Santonio Holmes of the Jets and Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers), Cushing’s punishment arose from a violation of the league’s policy regarding performance-enhancing substances.

Assuming, then, that Cushing actually cheated and that his multiple excuses (as the league concluded) hold less water than a fettucini strainer, the question will be whether he can play at the same level without the benefit of the steroids he took before chasing them with hCG in order to kick-start his natural production of testosterone, which shuts down during a steroids cycle.

If Cushing merely used steroids to speed the recovery of an injured knee in order to ensure that he’d be able to play in Week One of his rookie year, he should be able to play as well without them.

Until, of course, he gets injured, and he’s forced to rehab without the use of impermissible chemicals.

5.  Eagles are taking a huge gamble.

When the Eagles travel to San Francisco for a Sunday night game against the desperate and thus dangerous 49ers, they’ll have two quarterbacks:  Kevin Kolb and Mike Kafka.

If Kolb should have his helmet planted into the Candlestick turf like the stump of a used Christmas tree, the rookie from Northwestern will be pressed into service.

And so the Eagles are taking a huge gamble by not having on the roster a veteran with knowledge of and experience in the West Coast offense.  Last year, when Donovan McNabb went down and Kolb stepped up, the Eagles brought back Jeff Garcia in an effort to beef up a depth chart that otherwise included only Mike Vick.  How, then, can the Eagles choose to fly blind with the only alternative to Kolb being an unproven, unaccomplished, and (in comparison to Vick) dramatically less talented first-year player?

6.  Door should be open for Kolb.

The Eagles apparently are willing to assume (or at a minimum hope) that they won’t have to resort to Mike Kafka until Mike Vick returns from a rib/chest injury.  But what if Kevin Kolb plays as well as he did when Donovan McNabb had a rib/chest injury in 2009?

Coach Andy Reid
already has said that Vick remains the starter, something Reid said about Kolb when Kolb was injured.  If Vick was able to alter that status quo, it’s only fair that Kolb should be able to do the same thing.

Though Kolb currently is saying only the right things, Kolb has to be thinking that the door is open.  If he plays incredibly well (admittedly a big “if”, but not impossible), he needs to have a chance to take his job back.

And if Kolb doesn’t get the same consideration Vick received, Kolb will have clear cause to be upset.     

7.  Peppers comes home.

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers returns home on Sunday.  The one-time high-profile Carolina rookie has a simple goal — demolish the Panthers’ current high-profile rookie, quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

Though the Panthers may not win the game, they’ll surely be obsessed with preventing Peppers from having an impact.  They paid him millions, especially in his final season with the team, and he often complained.  At times, he underachieved.  At other times, it seemed that he didn’t give his all on every play.

If coach John Fox has any desire to finish out the season, he’ll find a way to use Peppers’ past words and actions (or inactions) to fire up the troops to give their best possible effort.  With quarterback Jay Cutler out due to a concussion, the Panthers have a chance to pull this one off.

And if the Panthers were to win only one game this year, like they did in the season that put them in position to pick Peppers, they’d likely want the one win to come against Peppers and his new team.

8.  Keep an eye on Kyle Orton.

When the Broncos traded quarterback Jay Cutler to the Bears for a pair of first-round draft picks, quarterback Kyle Orton was tacked onto the deal as an afterthought.

In his second season with the Broncos, Orton is anything but a forgotten man.

Orton currently leads all quarterbacks with 1,419 yards passing, a pace that would shatter Dan Marino’s all-time single-season record.  Though on one hand it’s not surprising given the extent to which the Broncos have tilted their offense toward throwing the ball, the players still need to execute, and no one ever dreamed that Orton would be able to do it.

If he can fire missiles throughout M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Orton will move even closer to being regarded as an elite quarterback.

The truth could be that he’s already there.

9.  Colts have no silver lining.

Many league observers assume that the Colts’ slow start (they’re 2-2) represents a major shift from their recent history of 10-0 launches to the season.  The reality, however, is that it’s the second time in three years that the Colts have struggled in September and October.

In 2008, the Colts opened at 1-2 and later slid to 3-4 before catching fire, winning nine in a row.  That year, however, Peyton Manning was hampered in the early going by late-offseason surgery to clean a staph infection out of his knee.

This year, Manning is fine, notwithstanding rumors of lingering nerves problems in his neck.

So if we accept the fact that Manning is firing on all cylinders (and his numbers suggest that he is), the Colts have no reason to think things will get much better as the season unfolds.  It could be, then, that the pack finally is catching up to the Colts, and that the days of 12-or-more-win seasons are done.

At least for 2010.

10.  Uprising of the winless teams?

In one of the most parity-driven seasons since former Commissioner Pete Rozelle decided that seeing the Steelers, Cowboys, and Raiders competing for every Lombardi Trophy, four teams have been unable to navigate the first four weeks of the season with a win.

This week, each of the four winless teams could change the “0” to a “1” in the win column.

In Buffalo, the Bills welcome the up-and-down Jaguars, who probably are feeling a little too good about themselves after pulling off an unlikely win over the Colts.  In Detroit, the close-but-no-cigar Lions could have an exploding stogie in store for the Rams, who probably are feeling a little to good about themselves after winning two games in eight days.  In Charlotte, as mentioned earlier, the Panthers welcome Julius Peppers home, without having to face Jay Cutler.  And in San Francisco, the better-than-their-record Niners get an Eagles team that won’t have Mike Vick.

Don’t be shocked if each of these four 0-4 teams find a way to further prove the parity premise by pushing the bottom of the pack a step closer to the front.

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Odell Beckham tells football campers Giants are going to the Super Bowl

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 20:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants reacts after a scuffle in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants have missed the playoffs for four straight years, but their quarterback Eli Manning believes that they have the team in place to end that streak.

His top target is setting the bar even higher. Wide receiver Odell Beckham closed out his football camp in New Jersey on Tuesday by telling the campers to “chase your dreams” before telling them that he expects to be chasing his in Houston come February.

“Most importantly, go Giants this year! Super Bowl 51 in Houston. We will be there,” Beckham said, via the New York Post.

Such talk is to be expected from confident athletes, but Beckham is trying to do some due diligence on getting to the top of the mountain as well. A recent post on Instagram shows Beckham and LeBron James posing post-workout with Beckham writing that he “wanted to see what it takes” to be next.

Beckham said he got the answers he’s looking for from James. We don’t know what those answers were, but a significantly better performance from the Giants defense was likely among them if James was breaking things down from an on-field perspective.

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Jets, Fitzpatrick still not close

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets looks to throw a pass to Brandon Marshall (not shown) which resulted in a touchdown during the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on October 18, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Jets swooped in at the eleventh hour and signed franchise-tagged defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson to a long-term deal just before the deadline for doing so, many interpreted the move as a sign that, eventually, the Jets would do the same thing with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The only problem? There’s no clear, obvious, pinch-or-get-off-the-pot deadline when it comes to Fitzpatrick.

And so the two sides remain hunkered down, not disengaging completely but not attempting in earnest to bridge the gap between their differences. Via Ed Werder of ESPN.com, the two sides haven’t talked recently, they remain far apart, and no resolution is expected soon.

Clearly, the Jets remain interested in signing Fitzpatrick. They recently leaked to the media the notion that several different options have been presented to Fitzpatrick, in an obvious effort to make the Jets look reasonable and Fitzpatrick to look unreasonable. Still, it’s extremely unreasonable for the Jets to continue to let the situation linger; either they want him or they don’t. If they want him, they need to sign him. If they don’t want him, they need to cut the cord.

Having Fitzpatrick’s situation unresolved as camp opens is good for no one. It will be a distraction for the team, an annoyance for those who are repeatedly asked about it, and a constant source of uncertainty for Geno Smith, who will be the starter unless and until Fitzpatrick returns.

Could Fitzpatrick return and not be the starter? In theory, yes. But if they pay him the kind of money they’ve offered him, it would be ludicrous to not play him.

It’s even more ludicrous to allow this situation to hover over the franchise. Unless the Jets think a thickly-bearded cloud will help it in some way when the regular season begin (if they do, I’d love to know why), they should get the deal done or tell Fitzpatrick that they’re moving on without him. Whatever money they’re trying to save by waiting him out simply isn’t worth it.

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Andrew Luck finds pressure on him a “privilege”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 08:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

After an injury-ravaged 2015, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is excited to be back on the field for training camp.

Luck said camp is like a second Christmas because it is “ball all day” without much concern for anything other than putting together this year’s team. Luck will again be the central member of that squad and he’ll come into this year with a freshly minted six-year, $140 million contract that better reflects the realities of the world of the NFL than the allusions to playing a kid’s game that Luck made about the start of camp.

Among those realities is that a player being paid like Luck will be expected to put up big individual numbers while leading his team to playoff success. Luck says that is pressure he’s happy to have on his shoulders.

“I’ve always thought this about pressure and expectation — I’ve always had very high expectations for myself,” Luck said, via the team’s website. “Probably higher than what other people expect. As far as pressure, I think pressure is a privilege and pressure from a coach, from your teammates, from your close friends and family is what’s important to me. You can’t control what folks are going say good or bad, so I’ve never got too caught up in that.”

Luck may not have much control over what everyone might say about him, but the majority of opinions will be formed by his play. Anything like last year’s mix of injuries and poor performance will raise doubts about the Colts’ direction while something more like 2014 will reaffirm Luck’s place among the top quarterbacks in the league.

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Eagles cut oft-injured linebacker Travis Long

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 08: James Brown #78 of the Chicago Bears knocks down Travis Long #57 of the Philadelphia Eagles during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 8, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Eagles 34-28. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

There are players who have come back from multiple torn ACLs to play, and even play at a high level.

But if Travis Long is doing it, it won’t be in Philadelphia.

The Eagles announced they had released the fourth-year linebacker this morning, leaving an open roster spot.

Long had torn his right ACL in college and his left one twice in the NFL, making his chances slim anyway. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has pulled it off, but for most players, that’s too much to overcome.

The Eagles may have just needed another linebacker at camp, since Nigel Bradham was just arrested for allegedly breaking a bottle over a cabana boy’s head, though Bradham is expected to report to camp today.

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Jaguars tackle Luke Joeckel has chip on shoulder after trying offseason

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 28:  Luke Joeckel #76 of the Jacksonville Jaguars watches the action during the preseason NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons at EverBank Field on August 28, 2014 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

Not only did the Jaguars not pick up the option on left tackle Luke Joeckel’s contract this offseason, they also went out and signed a potential replacement and tried the former No. 2 overall pick at a new position.

So yeah, he’s walking into camp this week with a little something to prove.

“I feel the healthiest, strongest and fastest I’ve ever felt,” Joeckel said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “I have a lot of confidence going into this training camp.

“And then there’s a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, and that makes a difference, too.”

Of course, the fiscal and personnel moves the Jaguars made were partly because of his own play, as Joeckel struggled at times last year. So any lack of confidence in their left tackle would be justified, even if the numbers weren’t so high.

But by not picking up his 2017 option (for $11.9 million) and by signing former Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum in free agency, Joeckel was immediately put on notice. The snaps they gave him at left guard should have then made it clear nothing was going to be handed to him.

“You always try to play with some kind of chip,” Joeckel said. “But this one is different. Going from high school and right into college as a true freshman, there was definitely competition, but I’ve started every game I’ve played in football. I want to keep that going.”

He said he’s not thinking about moving to guard, that he wants to compete for the job he’s held. And with Beachum recovered from last year’s ACL tear, he’s expected to be there to compete from the start of camp as well.

That will give Joeckel a chance to re-establish himself, as well as his market as he enters a contract year.

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Adam Gase interested in how Arian Foster can “grow the running back position”

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans rushes against the Indianapolis Colts in the second quarter on October 8, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins have added veteran Arian Foster to their offensive backfield in a move that sets up a competition for playing time at running back with Jay Ajayi.

Foster is coming off a torn Achilles and will need to pass a conditioning test to be on the field when training camp kicks off on Friday, something coach Adam Gase didn’t seem overly concerned about on Tuesday. Gase said they spent a lot of time with Foster before signing him and has faith in the training and conditioning staffs to have Foster in good form.

Assuming he is, the team will begin figuring out how to deploy him and Ajayi. Ajayi was the subject of much optimistic chatter from Gase this offseason and the coach says now that playing time will sort itself out, although he seems intrigued about what Foster can bring to the offense as both a runner and receiver.

“He’s the type of guy that he can run his route tree similar to what a wide receiver’s is,” Gase said, via the Miami Herald. “He runs about as smooth as any running back that I’ve ever seen. I’ll be interested to see how far we can grow the running back position with him.”

Foster’s readiness to play is the first big question that has to be answered in Miami. If the answer is that he’s good to go, it appears he’ll be given every chance to grab the No. 1 spot.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills acknowledges the crowd after the Bills beat the New York Jets 22-17 at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Can the Bills count on Tyrod Taylor to play like a franchise QB?

Can the Dolphins count on LB Kiko Alonso to stay healthy?

Don’t expect Bill Belichick to change the game plans much during Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.

There’s more talk in New York that the Jets may be Geno Smith’s team, not Ryan Fitzpatrick’s.

Bengals RB Gio Bernard did a good deed.

The Steelers’ defense is trying to catch up to the offense.

Ravens OT Stephane Nembot grew up trapping antelope and giraffes in Cameroon.

Former Browns WR Reggie Rucker, who admits he stole from nonprofit organizations, says he’ll use money from a concussion lawsuit settlement to pay back his theft.

The Texans gave undrafted rookie Ra’Zahn Howard a $5,000 signing bonus.

Colts QB Andrew Luck says he’s ready to go.

Jaguars OT Luke Joeckel has a chip on his shoulder.

The promise of a better run game should be good news for the Titans’ offense.

The Broncos want the rookies in their secondary to know that they can’t get away with playing like typical rookies.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is showing his admiration for the late Dennis Green.

Here’s a look at the tight end position heading into Raiders camp.

Says Chargers RB Danny Woodhead, “I’m as healthy as I’ve been in a long time.”

The Cowboys are expecting LB Rolando McClain at camp, despite his looming 10-game suspension.

Giants WR Odell Beckham worked out with LeBron James.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson is getting credit for hiring Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator.

An anonymous donor is paying for the funeral of the famous Washington fan who went by the name Chief Zee.

Devin Hester will be remembered as a Bear, even though he spent the last two years in Atlanta.

Anquan Boldin and TJ Jones may compete to be the Lions’ No. 3 receiver.

Packers RB Eddie Lacy still has work to do.

The NFL may say it opposes gambling, but it’s not stopping the the Minnesota Lottery from starting a new Vikings scratch game.

Falcons RB Tevin Coleman will get the first shot to be the team’s kick returner.

Panthers training camp will be in the mid-90s and humid.

The Saints already had a young receiving corps, and it got younger when the oldest receiver on the team, Vincent Brown, was placed on injured reserve.

Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy says QB Jameis Winston is growing as a leader.

The Rams’ rookies are going back to school.

The 49ers may not be convinced that OT Anthony Davis is fully committed to football.

Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu doesn’t expect to be on the PUP list for long.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider are continuing their strong working relationship.

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NFL, NFLPA establish a Field Surface and Performance Committee

501238444 Getty Images

Buried at the bottom of Monday’s joint league-union press release announcing a new procedure for enforcing the concussion protocol was a list of other agreements reached by the NFL and NFL Players Association.

Peter King of TheMMQB.com noticed one that otherwise has gone unnoticed. Here’s the key language from the release: “This offseason the NFL and NFLPA established the Field Surface & Performance Committee, a joint committee to provide advice and guidance regarding the safety, performance and testing of non-NFL game day and practice surfaces. The new committee will perform research and advise the parties on injury prevention, improved testing methods, and the adoption of tools and techniques to evaluate and improve field surface performance and playability.”

King notes that, as part of the agreement, the NFLPA’s designated field consultant “will be granted equal access to all NFL playing fields and field test results,” which expressly includes “non-traditional venues (e.g., London, Mexico City, Hall of Fame Game).”

The union has been concerned for several years about the quality of the playing surfaces, but the union hasn’t had an equal seat at the table. It now does.

The agreement extends beyond the actual playing surface, which as Reggie Bush learned the hard way in St. Louis last year can create separate problems. By the eighth game of the 2016 season (and ideally sooner), all stadiums hosting NFL games must have “standard safety wall padding and a surface surrounding the field that is safe for players.”

It’s unclear why Monday’s press release didn’t make a bigger deal of this agreement, which arguably is as significant as the development of a joint procedure for enforcing the concussion protocol. At a time when a perception exists that the league and the union can’t get along, any evidence that they are putting their differences aside and working together for the best interest of players should be trumpeted loudly, so that the media, fans, and especially the players know what’s happening.

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Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews haven’t talked to NFL yet about allegations

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 3: Outside linebacker Julius Peppers #56 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after a sack during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 3, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images) Getty Images

The two Packers players implicated in the Al Jazeera report about performance-enhancing drugs didn’t say too much Tuesday as they reported to camp, beyond the fact they haven’t talked to the NFL and didn’t think much of the allegations, to begin with.

(Then again, the fact they talked at all probably qualifies Green Bay’s media relations staff for an award.)

But Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews were short on specifics of the investigation, saying they were trusting the guidance of the NFL Players Association at the moment, and not talking to the league.

I’m letting the PA handle that,” Peppers said, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Probably will, but don’t really know the details of the process at this moment.”

Matthews was more expressive but followed the same path, saying he didn’t know what he could tell investigators beyond the fact the claims they were delivered banned substances from an anti-aging clinic weren’t true.

“I have no idea,” Matthews said when asked what information he could provide. “We asked the same questions [to them]. Maybe it’s to conduct a formal investigation. I don’t know.

“It’s annoying, there’s no doubt about that.”

The initial claims have been recanted by the guy who made them, and retired Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has already been cleared by the league — though the NFLPA pointed out that as a former union member, Manning didn’t fall under their auspices and was free to proceed with the NFL as he wished.

“It sets a dangerous precedent, but at the same time, I get it, they have a job to do,” Matthews said of the league’s investigation. “But now I’m — and some of these other guys — are in kind of in a whirlwind of controversy. If it was up to me this thing would be behind us a long time ago.”

The league still wanted to interview current players as they came to training camp, but at a time when the NFL and NFLPA are agreeing at record pace, they don’t seem to have quite come to a compromise on this one.

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Colin Kaepernick cleared by doctors following shoulder surgery

Colin Kaepernick, Courtney Upshaw AP

Now that “heck of a competition” at quarterback can truly begin.

According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been fully cleared to participate in practice after offseason shoulder surgery.

Kaepernick flew to Vail, Colo., yesterday to meet with Dr. Peter Millett, who performed the surgery. There, he went through a series of tests including some on-field work, and Kaepernick apparently passed. He also had work done on his right thumb and left knee this offseason, getting the bulk rate.

He’ll have his team physical Saturday when players report to training camp, with the first practice Sunday.

Then he’ll have a chance to compete for his old job with Blaine Gabbert, who had the head start in impressing new 49ers coach Chip Kelly.

“All I’ve heard is that Chip has told me it’s going to be a competition, . . . and to come in and be ready to compete,” Kaepernick said in June. “That’s my mindset, and I’m excited to do that.”

Of course, he wasn’t excited about everything this offseason, specifically when trade talks with Denver broke down because he wouldn’t take a pay cut.

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Jared Cook uncertain on timeline for return from foot surgery

Jared Cook, Rashad Johnson AP

Green Bay Packers tight end Jared Cook was placed on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp after having “preventative” surgery in June on his ailing foot.

According to Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Cook is still uncertain when he’ll be able to get back to practice with the Packers.

However, the surgery was minor and isn’t expected to hinder his availability for the start of the season.

No, it wasn’t anything serious,” Cook said. “It was just, they didn’t want it to prolong and something happen later on down the road in season….I’d just rather be safe than sorry.”

But in joining a new teams, Cook will be missing valuable time to build a relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Cook missed the end of the offseason program due to the surgery and will have fewer days to build chemistry with Rodgers before the start of the regular season.

“Whether we’re in a new system or not,” Cook said, “you want to be out there on the field. That’s where you have the most fun. That’s what you’re basically bred to do. It’s not fun being separated from everybody and doing special drills to get you back. You want to be out there having fun with your teammates, but it’s just something I have to endure now so later on it’ll be better.”

The Packers hope the addition of Cook can add a second option at tight end to pair with Richard Rodgers.

Cook appeared in all 16 games with the St. Louis Rams last season. He caught 39 passes for 481 yards but did not find the end zone for the first time since his rookie season with Tennessee.

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Titans sign OL Will Campbell

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 2:  A Tennessee Titans helmet displays the Futbol Americano logo during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at The Coliseum on October 2, 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Colts defeated the Titans 31-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans signed offensive lineman Will Campbell Tuesday.

A sixth-round pick of the Jets in 2013, Campbell, 25, has never played in a regular season NFL game. A four-year contributor as a defensive lineman at the University of Michigan, Campbell made the Jets’ roster in 2013 but spent the year transitioning from defensive line to offensive line.

He spent much of 2014 on the Bills’ practice squad and has also spent time with the Packers.

The signing of Campbell puts the Titans’ roster at 89, one short of the preseason max of 90. The Titans open full training camp on Saturday.

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Andrew Luck declares himself to be 100 percent, sets sights on Super Bowl

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For the Colts, the 2015 season was a mess. For quarterback Andrew Luck, it was even more of a mess.

With camp opening, Luck told reporters that he’s 100 percent after multiple injuries last year, included a lacerated kidney. Entering 2016, Luck made it clear that he and the rest of the team have a chip on their shoulder.

“Yeah, I think so,” Luck said regarding whether the team has an edge this year. “I think so.”

Like every team, Indy’s goal is to get to the Super Bowl. “And win that game,” Luck added.

That’s a long way away, but the foundation for a successful season is put in place during training camp. Luck embraces that.

“Camp is awesome,” Luck told reporters. “I had a coach once explain camp is like second Christmas and it certainly feels that way. There’s an energy. There’s a buzz in the air. It’s great to see all the guys. There are some new faces absolutely. That’s sort of the nature of the NFL and there’s also some consistent faces like T.Y. Hilton, Chuck Pagano, Dwayne Allen, Anthony Castonzo, so there’s a great core group of guys on this team and integrating the new guys is always a big deal for the offseason and training camp.”

What about camp makes it so awesome?

“That it’s ball all day,” Luck said. “You don’t really have to think about anything. You can wear the same clothes, you know, two weeks in a row and no one is going to judge you unless you start smelling and then someone tells you, ‘You smell.'”

Last year, the Colts smelled bad. This year, the goal is to turn that stink into something that smells a lot more like napalm in the morning.

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Jimmy Smith to be inducted into the “Pride of the Jaguars”

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As the Jaguars begin their 22nd NFL season, they will be adding a sixth person to the “Pride of the Jaguars.” The next name on the list will be receiver Jimmy Smith. It’s an honor reserved to those who have made the biggest contributions to the franchise.

I’m definitely proud and emotional right now,” Smith said Tuesday morning, via Jaguars.com, who got the call informing him of the decision from owner Shad Khan. “It was a 217 area code. I started not to pick up the phone because I usually don’t answer numbers I don’t know. It was Shad Khan, and I knew right then. My heart started beating fast and I couldn’t catch my breath. He said, ‘Jimmy, this is Shad Khan with the Jacksonville Jaguars . . . .”

Smith joins Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, Mark Brunell, and former owners Wayne and Delores Weaver as the members of the team’s most exclusive group of honorees.

The 1992 second-round pick of the Cowboys became an original Jaguar in 1995, spending 11 seasons with the team. He caught 862 passes for 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns.

Smith won’t be insisting on the exclusive club remaining small. He already is lobbying for former Jaguars receiver Keenan McCardell and former Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin to be added to the group.

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Report: Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

General Manager John Schneider signed an extension with the Seahawks over the weekend and, as expected, his partnership with coach Pete Carroll won’t be ending any time soon.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Seahawks and Carroll have agreed to an extension that puts Carroll under contract in Seattle through 2019. Carroll and Schneider both joined the Seahawks in 2010 and their record leaves little reason to wonder why the Seahawks will keep everything in place.

The team has gone 60-36 under Carroll in the regular season and 8-4 in the playoffs. The latter record includes their Super Bowl XLVIII title, their run back to the game the next year and at least one playoff win in each of the last four seasons.

There’s no word on the financial terms of the deal, but Carroll was already among the best-paid coaches in the league. His new deal will keep him there and keep him in Seattle through at least his 68th birthday if all goes according to plan.

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