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Friend says Sterger, Favre "regularly texted"

Jenn Sterger’s reluctance to cooperate with the NFL regarding the investigation regarding whether Vikings quarterback Brett Favre violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy via his communications with her possibly during their mutual employment with the Jets arises from the fact that she can’t truthfully say his conduct was unwelcome.

Comments from one of Sterger’s friends seem to lend credence to that perspective.

Per the New York Post, Allison Torres told Steppin’ Out magazine that Sterger “regularly texted” with Favre “for some time.”

That two-way line of communication would make it very difficult for Sterger to show that she was offended by Favre’s comments, or that his conduct (whatever it may have been) was unwelcome.

“I
just know they kept texting each other back and forth and that he
wanted to hook up,” Torres said.  “I wouldn’t doubt she was enjoying the
attention from him.”

Torres said that Sterger “would keep saying to me, ‘I don’t know what to do,’” and that Sterger never said whether she indeed got together with Favre.

Torres also said that she saw the photos that have taken this case to an even higher level of bizarre.  “I actually saw it when he sent it,” Torres said.  “We just laughed when he did it.”

The notion that Sterger “laughed” when receiving the photos would tend to suggest that she wasn’t appalled or offended or scarred because of his actions.  In turn, it would tend to show that he didn’t commit sexual harassment.  In turn, it would tend to show that he didn’t violate the Personal Conduct Policy.

The fact that, according to Torres, Sterger apparently had a collection of naked photos from celebrities would undermine the notion that a middle-aged quarterback was preying upon a young, innocent girl who was merely trying to make a living.

“She could make millions if she ever cashed in on all the naked photos she gets from friends,” Torres said.

Sterger’s camp realizes the potential damage that could be done by Torres, who unlike Sterger has cooperated with the NFL.

“This
is someone who is clearly trying to exploit an unfortunate situation
and capitalize on the opportunity to see her name in print,” Sterger’s manager, Phil Reese, told the Post.

Some may have the exact same suspicions about Sterger, whose motive (based on the public comments of her lawyer) seems to be money, not notoriety.

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Reports: Fred Davis sought by Washington D.C. police

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins Getty Images

According to multiple published reports, Washington D.C. police are seeking free agent tight end Fred Davis in connection with a domestic violence allegation.

According to a statement from police obtained by PFT, the alleged simple assault occurred early on the morning of June 2 in Washington.

Police released a statement on the allegation Wednesday in the hopes of locating Davis, who has a residence in Leesburg, Virginia, according to authorities.

Davis played for Washington from 2008 through 2013, catching 162 passes for 2,043 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is currently serving an indefinite NFL suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

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Odell Beckham tweaked hamstring on Tuesday

Odell Beckham AP

The Giants had a few players forced out of practice on Tuesday because of injuries or difficulties dealing with heat, including first-round pick Odell Beckham.

The wide receiver pulled up while running a pattern and grabbed his hamstring before going to the sideline for treatment. On Wednesday, General Manager Jerry Reese said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, that Beckham tweaked the muscle. Reese didn’t offer any update on what Beckham might do in practice on Wednesday or any other day.

It’s not the first time Beckham has battled hamstring trouble in his brief Giants career. He dealt with it during the team’s spring work as well and said before Tuesday’s work that he wasn’t sure if it was 100 percent recovered.

Hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger if not given sufficient time to heal so the Giants may dial things back with Beckham in the near future to be sure that he’s in peak condition when he returns to the field. After all, having a speedy new receiver in your offense doesn’t do a lot of good if you can’t use him because he’s got a bad wheel.

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Browns agree with Justin Gilbert, leaving one unsigned

justin gilbert AP

And then there was one.

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the Browns agreed to their deal with first-rounder Justin Gilbert today, getting the cornerback under contract before camp opens.

That leaves just Titans first-rounder Taylor Lewan as the only unsigned pick league-wide.

There used to be dozens of these to worry about this week, but the slotted rookie contracts of the new CBA had all but a handful done before July.

It’s no surprise Lewan is the last man standing, as Titans first-rounder Chance Warmack was the last first-rounder to sign last year.

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Jets place Willie Colon and Antwan Barnes on PUP

New York Jets v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Now we know part of the reason the Jets signed Jason Babin earlier today.

The Jets announced that they were placing linebacker Antwan Barnes and veteran guard Willie Colon on the physically unable to perform list to open training camp, in addition to the signing of the veteran pass-rusher.

Barnes is coming off some knee problems, so the addition of Babin gives them some experienced depth to get them through camp. Colon is dealing with knee and biceps injuries.

The Jets also released cornerback Lowell Rose to create the roster spot for Babin.

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Washington dismisses name opposition from George Preston Marshall’s granddaughter

Marshall Getty Images

When they first emerged in Leesburg Today last week, comments from Jordan Wright about the name of the Washington NFL franchise got some attention, given that she’s the granddaughter of George Preston Marshall.  But her opinion didn’t move the needle very much.  After all, only so many stories can be written about specific people who think the team owned by Daniel Snyder should change its name; as time goes by and as more and more offer their views, the bar gets higher and higher.

We opted not to write a story about Jordan Wright’s opinion, relegating the subject to one-liner status.  But the matter has now migrated to the pages of the Washington Post, fueled by the team’s decision to respond to the comments from the daughter of the child of the man who applied the name to the team more than 80 years ago.

“We are aware that Jordan Wright has recently changed her long-held position on the Redskins name,” team P.R. spokesman Tony Wyllie told the Post.  “However, we do know from her bio that she has been paid by the newspaper Indian Country Today, which is owned and operated by the Oneida tribe, the most vocal critics of the Redskins name.  So her change of heart is consistent with her employment choices.”

There’s a certain irony that undoubtedly applies to Wyllie’s belief that beliefs can be so easily bought.  How many employees of the team, including perhaps Wyllie himself, are saying what needs to be said in order to ensure that checks signed by Daniel M. Syder, Millionaire will continue to be deposited into their accounts?  If the team thinks “employment choices” directly influence opinions, it’s fair to wonder how many people who have chosen to work for Snyder are muzzling any disagreement with the name in order to continue to be employed.

The team surely wouldn’t expect Wright to admit that her “employment choices” are influencing her opinion.  In turn, I don’t expect Wyllie or anyone else who works for Snyder to do the same thing.

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Alex Boone will hold out from 49ers camp

Alex Boone AP

Vernon Davis reported to 49ers training camp. Teammate Alex Boone will not.

Boone is holding out from 49ers camp, as expected. The 27-year-old Boone has two years left on his contract, with base salaries of $2 million in 2014 and $1.2 million in 2015, and he believes he deserves significantly more than that.

The question is whether the 49ers are willing to give him more than that. They may think they have the leverage because Boone has two years left in his deal and they can fine him $30,000 a day for every day he misses, and they may also think that giving him a pay raise would be rewarding a holdout.

Boone has started all 16 games in each of the last two seasons, and he’s an important part of the 49ers’ offense. By holding out, he’s betting that the 49ers will decide he’s too important to be without, and will give him a raise to get him back in the fold.

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Hernandez’s first murder trial moved to January

Aaron Hernandez AP

Whenever a headline about a guy’s upcoming murder trial contains the term “first,” that’s not good.

For former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, the first of two murder trial has been moved from October 2014 to January 2015.  Specifically, jury selection begins on January 3, and the trial starts on January 9.

Whenever the trial begins (and it could be delayed one or more additional times), Hernandez will face the accusation that he killed Odin Lloyd in June 2013.

Hernandez’s second murder trial, which accuses him of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, is scheduled to begin on May 28, 2015.  That date also is tentative.

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Vernon Davis still wants a new deal

Vernon Davis AP

After skipping the offseason program, losing a $200,00 workout bonus and subjecting himself to up to $70,000 in fines for skipping a mandatory minicamp, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis decided to stop the financial bleeding by showing up for training camp.

Per a league source, his decision to show up for training camp was influenced by multiple factors, including but not limited to $30,000 per day in fines and, after five days, partial signing bonus forfeiture.

The source says Davis still wants a new contract, and he’s “definitely” not OK with proceeding absent a raise.  The team reportedly won’t negotiate with players who are holding out.

It’s possible one specific type of negotiation already has occurred.  It’s common for teams to waive fines when a holdout ends, and it’s just as common for no one to talk about it.  It’s a point Hines Ward recently made on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, regarding his own 2005 holdout, which lasted until the middle of August.

As to Davis, no one is saying anything.  And perhaps all that that implies.

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Redskins will put Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen on PUP

Jim Haslett, Jason Hatcher AP

The Redskins are going to be short on defensive linemen when they open camp tomorrow.

According to ESPN 980 (via CSNWashington.com), defensive ends Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen will be placed on the physically unable to perform list to open camp.

Hatcher had an arthroscopic procedure after minicamp, and is in the middle of the four- to six-week recovery time.

Bowen, however, is coming off microfracture surgery, which makes his return harder to figure.

Hatcher signed a deal with $10.5 million guaranteed to come over from Dallas this offseason.

That will stretch a defensive line that was already old, with most of its key contributors over 30.

 

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Five questions: New York Giants

Eli Manning,  Tom Coughlin AP

In four of the last five years, the Giants haven’t qualified for the playoffs.  A championship win during that lone postseason appearance takes some of the sting out of it, but Lombardi Trophies cam lose their luster pretty quickly.

With two straight subpar seasons since the most recent Super Bowl victory, the Giants could be teetering toward significant change if they go three years without a playoff appearance for the first time since 1994 through 1996.  Which could be good news; the last two times coach Tom Coughlin was clearly on the hot seat, he took the team to the top of the mountain.

Here are five questions for the team unrelated to the coach’s potentially tenuous job status.

1.  Which Eli Manning will show up?

The Giants quarterback recently admitted that he’s a “little nervous” in the team’s new offense.  He should be.

Whatever the offense, Eli Manning’s career has arrived at an unexpected crossroads, at the age of 33 and with a pair of Super Bowl pelts on his wall.  Wrapped around that second NFL title are four failed seasons, with 2013 featuring a career-high 27 interceptions.

Eli’s older brother has a reputation for performing incredibly well during the regular season and then failing to meet expectations in the playoffs.  Eli has a knack for thriving in the postseason, but not being able to get there often enough.

After the second championship, Eli had seemed to be a lock for the Hall of Fame.  Now, his candidacy depends on what happens over the balance of his career.  Starting now, in a new offense with plenty of jobs riding on Eli’s ability to thrive in it.

If he’s only a “little nervous,” he’s not nearly nervous enough.

2.  Can the offensive line get the job done?

The Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl run was fueled by great performances from both the offensive and defensive lines.  Last year, the offensive line wasn’t great.  This year, with the retirements of David Diehl and Chris Snee, the offensive line could be even worse.

The primary goal of training camp and the preseason will be to find the best combination of five starters and hope they can find a way to stay healthy.  A good offensive line works in seamless harmony, opening running lanes and keeping the quarterback from getting hurried, hit, and/or sacked.

The offensive live never gets enough credit when things go well, balanced by never getting enough blame when things don’t.  Things need to go well for the offensive line this year, or plenty of offensive linemen and other employees could be going away.

3.  What happened to the pass rush?

In 2007, the Giants figured out how to beat the Patriots and Tom Brady.  Specifically by knocking him down early and making him worried about getting knocked down for the rest of the game.

Four years later, the Giants showed that they still knew that the best way to win on a big stage is to throw the opposing quarterback off it.

Three years after the fact, who’s left?  Michael Strahan gets his ugly mustard jacket in less than two weeks, Osi Umenyiora can soon be seen on Hard Knocks as a member of the Falcons, and Justin Tuck has taken his 11.0 sacks to Oakland after allegedly being lowballed by the Giants.

Mathias Kiwakuna and his six sacks and restructured deal that has left him with a stick in a place where sticks don’t normally go is back, and the team hopes that the once-promising Jason Pierre-Paul can improve on his paltry sum of two sacks in 2013.  With Pierre-Paul in a contract year, he has plenty of millions of reasons to get back to being the guy who had 16.5 sacks in 2011.

4.  Who plays tight end?

Maybe Pierre-Paul should ask to play offense.  He’d have a good chance to play tight end.  Possibly as the starter.

Look at the depth chart.  The five tight ends currently on the roster are Kellen Davis, Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells, Adrien Robinson, and Xavier Grimble, who sounds like the antagonist in a Dickens novel.  That quintet combined for six total NFL catches last year.

It’s hard not to imagine the Giants making moves at the position, even if they merely pounce on a tight end cut by another team.  Or, ideally, if Jermichael Finley is cleared by the Giants and decides to keep playing football.

5.  Will they be able to run the ball?

Speaking of guys with neck injuries whose futures were in doubt, running back David Wilson has been cleared to play.  The next question becomes whether Wilson, a first-round pick in 2012, can get back to the top of the depth chart, or whether he’ll play second fiddle to newcomer Rashad Jennings, whom G.M. Jerry Reese has called a “bell cow” type.

Former Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis is also on the roster, and it remains to be seen whether former Packers assistant Ben McAdoo will play the hot hand or use a revolving door at tailback.

Whoever gets the ball needs to do something with it, which could be difficult if the offensive line and/or Eli Manning don’t play well.  But that could be the key to opening up the passing game.  Which will take a lot of pressure off the defense.

Which will make the team better.  Which could keep Tom Coughlin around for at least another year.

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Mike Pouncey now expected to miss two months of season

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Getty Images

Despite some early optimism, it looks like Dolphins center Mike Pouncey’s absence will be a lengthy one.

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Pouncey is now expected to need four months to recover from his June hip surgery, which would extend his rehab into late October.

“Eight weeks is probably what we’re looking at,” a source said of the time Pouncey was expected to miss.

The Dolphins have an early bye week, so he might just miss seven games if that timetable holds up.

The Dolphins open camp Friday, and Pouncey will be placed on the physically unable to perform list at that time. The more interesting call will come at roster cuts. They can save a roster spot by using the regular season PUP designation, which would mean he’d miss at least six games.

The Dolphins had plenty of upheaval anyway, with an overhaul of their offensive line at every other spot. Now, they’re looking for a center for the first few months.

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Jets agree to terms with Jason Babin

Jason Babin, Paul Posluszny, C.J. Mosley AP

The Jets are adding a veteran pass rusher to Rex Ryan’s defense.

Jason Babin, the 34-year-old defensive end who visited the Jets this week, has agreed to terms. Babin’s agents announced the deal on Twitter.

Babin started all 16 games for the Jaguars last year and recorded 7.5 sacks. That was his highest total since 2011, when he had a phenomenal season in Philadelphia and finished with 18 sacks for the Eagles.

Babin was a first-round draft pick of the Texans in 2004 and has also played for the Seahawks, Chiefs and Titans. Although he’s not the All-Pro caliber player he was a few years ago, he’ll provide some solid depth as a situational pass rusher for the Jets.

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Vernon Davis reports to 49ers training camp

Britain 49ers Football AP

The question has now been answered.

Vernon Davis is reporting to 49ers training camp after all.

The news was broken by teammate C.J. Spillman, who posted a video on Instagram of Davis in the locker room. He’s even greeted by teammates teasing him for making a “cameo appearance.”

The Pro Bowl tight end has been clear in his desire for a new contract, and the 49ers have been equally clear about not negotiating with anyone who isn’t there.

So while Joe Staley showed up and got paid, Davis and Alex Boone got nowhere (so far) by staying away.

Plus, a camp holdout costs $30,000 a day and the team can go after any previously paid signing bonuses, making it an expensive decision.

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Heat sends pair of Bills to the hospital

bilde Getty Images

Nearly 13 years ago, Korey Stringer died from the heat at Vikings training camp.  Since then, the NFL and NFLPA have become more and more careful about exposing players to unsafe temperatures.  (Highs, not lows.  Yet.)

And so it’s a surprise, to say the least, to see that a pair of Bills players ended up in the hospital due to the heat.

Via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, tight end Chris Gragg and fullback Evan Rodriguez weren’t at practice on Wednesday due to heat-related illness.  Both went to the hospital, and Gragg (as of Rodak’s last tweet) remains there.

It’s a problem most thought had been conclusively solved in the aftermath of Stringer’s passing.  And while it’s not entirely out of the ordinary for a player here or there to experience health-related consequences to practicing in the heat, a pair of hospitalized NFL athletes becomes a red flag that both the league and the union should immediately explore.

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Race car delivers a healthy Reggie Wayne to Colts camp

Reggie Wayne AP

Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne has been waiting quite a while to get back on the football field after tearing his ACL last season, so it is understandable that he wanted the first day of training camp to get here as soon as possible.

And it’s just as understandable that he wouldn’t want to waste a minute commuting when that day arrived on Wednesday. The Colts shared a video of Wayne making his first appearance of the summer as a passenger in an Indy Car driven by race car driver Ed Carpenter.

Wayne was wearing a modified Colts helmet during his ride to camp, but he’ll be trading it in for the more traditional headgear. The team also announced that Wayne has been cleared to take part in practice and continue preparing to make his game return in the first week of the regular season.

Running back Vick Ballard also has the green light in his return from an ACL injury, giving the Colts back two key members of the offense who were absent as the team won the AFC South and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. With tight end Dwayne Allen also back and Hakeem Nicks joining the club, the Indy offense is primed for another strong season.

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