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Week Eight picks

The inability of referee Scott Green to properly apply the supposedly clear rule regarding going to the ground when making a catch not only cost the Vikings a win.  It also prevented me from extending to two my streak of victories over Rosenthal.

Yes, he beat me by one game in Week Seven, and the difference was the outcome of the Vikings-Packers game.

For the week, Rosenthal got 10 right and four wrong.  I was 9-5.

For the year, Rosenthal is 69-35.  I’m 65-39.

And though it pains me to type this (in part because I’ll never hear the end of it from him), Rosenthal currently has a better showing than all of the ESPN “experts,” including the Accuscore projections and the fan-based picks. 

Maybe he should apply for a job there.  They probably need someone with a sturdy shine box.


Broncos vs. 49ers in London

Florio’s take:  When the league picked this game to be the 2010 English export, it didn’t look like a bad choice.  The 49ers were viewed as the favorite to win the NFC West, and the Broncos were regarded as a middle-of-the-road team with the potential to improve.  Seven weeks into the season, the 49ers have only one win and the Broncos have two.  The decision to thrust quarterback Troy Smith into the starting lineup smacks of the desperation coach Mike Singletary surely is feeling, and even though Denver lost to one Bay Area team by 45 in Week Seven, Week Eight likely will bring a seventh loss for the Niners.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 30, 49ers 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The NFL should send teams to London earlier in the season, before they show how bad they really are.  The depleted Broncos defense gets worse every week, and the 49ers defense just made Matt Moore look like, well, Matt Moore from 2009.  This is a crossroads/gut check/insert cliché game for both coaches.  I trust Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton far more than Mike Singletary and Troy Smith.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 31, 49ers 21.

Jaguars at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  Four prior games between these two teams have been decided by seven points or less.  Continuation of that trend would help Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, even if the Jags lose.  One more 20-plus-point blowout (the Jaguars already have suffered four) could get Del Rio fired.  The return of David Garrard and the departure of Tony Romo could help, but probably not enough.  But at least the Jags will possibly lose by less than 20.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Jaguars 17.

Rosenthal’s take:  Jon Kitna versus the Jaguars secondary.  The immobile quarterback versus the force that provides no resistance.  If I was a betting man, I’d stay far away from this one because both teams are about as trustworthy as Florio’s hairpiece.  At least the Jaguars seem like they care. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Jaguars 20, Cowboys 16.

Dolphins at Bengals

Florio’s take:  From 1978 through 2000, the Dolphins won nine straight games over the Bengals.  Cincinnati has won the last two, but they haven’t played since Bill Parcells put his thumbprint on the Dolphins.  More importantly, the game won’t be played in Miami, where the Fins are 0-3.  Though the Bengals found some punch on offense against the Falcons, the Dolphins are more talented, more desperate, and (after believing they got screwed against the Steelers) more feisty.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Bengals 16.

Rosenthal’s take: Chad Henne has quietly improved all season, and he should do well against a Bengals secondary without Adam Jones and possibly Johnathan Joseph.  Carson Palmer is also playing better, but it seems to take a 21-point deficit to warm him up.  The Bengals defense is providing too many chances for failed comeback attempts.

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bengals 21.

Bills at Chiefs

Florio’s take:  Some (I’m looking at you, Rosenthal) think that Bills coach Chan Gailey has something up his sleeve for his most recent former team.  Pointing to an unlikely strong showing by Buffalo’s offense against a complacent Ravens defense, Rosey thinks the Bills can give the Chiefs a run for their money.  Let’s see if Rosey puts his money where his mouth is.  Arrowhead Stadium has been a-rockin’; Gailey and his team would be wise to not go a-knockin’.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 31, Bills 14.

Rosenthal’s take:  I’m not sure people have really wrapped their mind around the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Bills racked up 514 yards on the Ravens.  514! The Harvard product is a joy to watch, with decisive, difficult throws often into tight windows.  He’s a great runner and seems to like contact.  And he has a red beard.  The Bills will keep losing most weeks because their defense is an embarrassment, but at least they’ll be fun to watch.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chiefs 34, Bills 31.

Redskins at Lions

Florio’s take:  For the third straight year, these two franchises meet in Detroit.  In 2008, the Redskins kept the Lions winless by only eight points.  In 2009, the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak with a win over the ‘Skins.  Assuming Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, back after suffering a shoulder injury in Week One, won’t throw four passes to DeAngelo Hall, the rested, ready, and confident (perhaps delusional) Lions should be able to get it done.  Last week’s meltdown by the Chicago offense concealed the fact that the Washington offense isn’t dramatically better, and the Lions look to be in line for their second win of the year.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Redskins 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Signs the Lions have come a long way:  (1) they are still talking playoffs after a 1-5 start and it doesn’t seem completely insane; (2) they’ve outscored their opponents this year (thanks Rams!); (3) they are favored against a 4-3 Redskins team and I’d still give the points.

Rosenthal’s pick: Lions 24, Redskins 17.

Panthers at Rams

Florio’s take:  Like the other team that will contend for the NFC West crown, the Rams are tough at home and soft on the road.  This week, a win at home would pull the Rams to 4-4, and it would end a four-game losing streak against Carolina, a slide that began in St. Louis nearly seven years ago with a double-overtime loss to the eventual NFC Super Bowl representatives.  This time around, the Rams simply have the better team — which given the state of the Panthers isn’t really saying much.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 24, Panthers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The Rams are winless on the road, so it’s good the league loaded them up with home games before a three-game road trip after Thanksgiving.  The Panthers finally found a passing game, which could make them a dangerous spoiler the rest of the way.  Every game for the Rams is dangerous because they aren’t that talented, but they’ve responded very well to losses this year.

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 22, Panthers 20.

Packers at Jets

Florio’s take:  The Jets remain the hottest team in the NFL, with a swarming defense and a sufficiently competent offense.  Receiver Santonio Holmes had two extra weeks to hone his timing with quarterback Mark Sanchez, which should result in an even more souped-up passing attack.  The Packers aren’t remotely close to being Super Bowl ready, and without again getting a couple of gift calls on touchdown plays they can’t expect to win this one.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 27, Packers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Packers lost another linebacker for the season, while the Jets are fully healthy after their bye.  Revis Island is ready to re-open with tougher immigration laws and there’s a sense New York hasn’t played their best despite being 5-1.  All logic points to the Jets. (I’m sure Florio is taking his beloved Jets.)  All the more reason to take the Packers, who are ready to go on a run.

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 26, Jets 21.

Titans at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Vince Young likely will return for a Tennessee offense that did fairly well without him.  But the two Tennessee losses have come against teams that run a 3-4 defense, the preferred attack of the Chargers.  And the Charger

s have much more talent than their 2-5 record suggests.  Assuming that the late surge in Week Seven against the Patriots woke up the four-time defending AFC West champions, the Chargers will stay alive for at least another week.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 23, Titans 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans have a knack for frustrating opponents and forcing them into mistakes.  The Chargers have a knack for frustrating their fans and making unforced errors.  The Titans lead the league in takeaways and have scored the most points off turnovers.  The Chargers have the most giveaways in the AFC.  Add it up, and Norv Turner’s head should explode sometime in the third quarter.

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 26, Chargers 21.

Vikings at Patriots

Florio’s take:  Vikings coach Brad Childress has been talking lately.  A lot.  His words regarding the officiating in Sunday night’s loss to the Packers got him a $35,000 fine.  His barbs directed at the Patriots and Bill Belichick could get Chilly a butt-whipping on par with the 31-7 defeat his team absorbed from Belichick and company four years ago.  Brett Favre, who won’t play only if he can’t move, will be jumping on his “broke foot” when things go well, and he’ll be walking like John Wayne with hemorrhoids when things go poorly.  Count on plenty of Rooster Cogburn on Preparation H sightings.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Vikings 13. 

Rosenthal’s take:  After the Patriots released Lawyer Milloy then lost to the Bills 31-0 to open the 2003 season, ESPN’s Tom Jackson said the “Patriots hate their coach.”   Three weeks after New England traded Randy Moss to Minnesota, it’s the Vikings that seem to hate their coach.  The rest of the country hates Brett Favre, who seems to know it and wear it on his face during every depressing press conference.  This is the week Moss begins to realize how good he had it in Foxborough.  

Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 24, Vikings 14.

Buccaneers at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  Bucs coach Raheem Morris thinks he has is the best team in the NFC.  Less than two years ago, the Cardinals actually were the best team in the NFC.  Though the Cardinals have looked horrible at times, the managed to take down at home a Saints team that thumped the Bucs in their own stadium.  And that’s good enough for me.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 24, Buccaneers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The “best team in the NFC” isn’t favored in Arizona, where the Cardinals are 2-0 this season.  If the Bucs are to live up to Raheem Morris’ hype, this is a game they win going away.  Arizona’s passing game is a mess, while the running game isn’t much better.  It’s a miracle they are 3-3. Still, these teams are more similar than different.  And they’ll have the same record after this one.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cardinals 19, Bucs 14.

Seahawks at Raiders

Florio’s take:  Here’s the toughest call of the week.  Tony Dungy thinks the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC.  Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson thinks his team is the most talented in the entire NFL.  The Seahawks had been unable to win on the road before taking down the Bears two weeks ago.  Before a far=less-than-full stadium against a Raiders team buoyed by a 59-point uprising against the Broncos on Sunday, the Raiders likely will finish an unlikely ascension to .500 at the halfway point of the season.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 27, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: Every time the Raiders win a game, they say they turned the corner.  Even though they haven’t won back-to-back games since 2008, I’m just crazy enough to believe them this time.  The Seahawks whole offensive gameplan seems to be “don’t throw interceptions” but they need a little more than that on the road.

Rosenthal’s pick: Raiders 23, Seahawks 16.

Steelers at Saints

Florio’s take:  At one point in September, it looked like this game would feature a clash of the best two teams in the league.  It remains half right, with the Steelers among the best of the bunch and the Saints sliding toward irrelevance.  Though the defending champs’ backs are being pushed against the wall, that 13-point loss to the Browns means the days of dominance have ended, at least for now.  A one-dimensional offense is no match for a multi-faceted Steelers defense, and this one could turn into a rout, which would mean the ratings will only double those from Game Four of the World Series.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 34, Saints 21.

Rosenthal’s take:  A lot of tough games to pick this week. I’ve debated this one for days, but the tiebreaker goes to the Steelers.  Even though Pittsburgh’s pass defense has looked shakier the last two weeks, New Orleans has struggled against far worse groups.  At some point, it’s worth recognizing the 2009 Saints passing attack just may not come back.

Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 27, Saints 24.

Texans at Colts

Florio’s take:  The Texans obsessed over their Week One visit from the Colts, and it paid off.  Since then, the Texans have been roughly average.  They get another crack at the Colts on Monday night, at a time when plenty of Indy players are missing.  But as long as Peyton Manning remains healthy, the Colts will be tough to beat, especially at home.  Manning realizes the importance of not being swept by the Texans — and not falling to 0-3 in the division.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 33, Texans 27. 

Rosenthal’s take: Dallas Clark and Austin Collie will be missed, but I’m not really that worried about the Colts offense in this game. They have great depth and the Jeff George Colts could score 30 points on this awful Texans defense.  The bigger question is whether the Colts defense can snap out of their funk.  At home, in a huge division game, I’ll take my chances they make enough plays.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 38, Texans 31.

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Will someone roll the dice on Gareon Conley being cleared?

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Barring a clear and unequivocal public declaration in the next 24 hours or so from the alleged victim that she was not sexually assaulted on April 9 by Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, Conley will enter the draft with a cloud hanging over his NFL future. But with plenty of evidence available and with teams having the resources to find out even more, it’s possible that someone will take a calculated risk on Conley, if the team develops a sense that he’s innocent, and/or that the alleged victim doesn’t intend to press the issue.

The police report indicates that the alleged victim declined to be interviewed by police at a local hospital, after previously telling them her version of the events. Whether and to what extent the authorities convince her to cooperate and, eventually, to testify in court will go a long way toward determining whether Conley will be prosecuted. If the allegation persists in her refusal to continue to assist the investigation, the criminal case will go nowhere.

If the case proceeds, Conley could have a serious problem. The police report cites a rape statute, which makes the alleged crime a first-degree felony. Under Ohio law, that would result in a sentence of three to 11 years.

Conley has witnesses who claim that he “never touched” the alleged victim, and that she became upset after she was kicked out of the room. The rape kit that was administered to the alleged victim will shed more light on whether contact occurred, but ultimately it will be impossible to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt without cooperation and testimony from the alleged victim.

The victim’s name isn’t publicly known, but the teams either have or can get access to it. As a result, teams have been to do research regarding the alleged victim. It’s also possible that one or more teams will try to contact her directly in order to explain the importance of knowing by Thursday night what will happen with the situation before making a multi-million-dollar investment in Conley.

Regardless of what happens, the teams have every incentive to ensure that they aren’t squandering one of their most important assets. The stakes are high for everyone involved, and the sooner the truth emerges the better off everyone will be.

For Conley, the biggest problem is that, if he’s innocent, irreversible damage likely is going to be done to his NFL career. If he’s guilty, he rightfully should have far bigger problems than sliding in the draft.

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Mike Williams worked out for Chargers, Titans

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Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams is among the players that will be watching the first round of the NFL Draft closely because he’s widely expected to find out where he’ll be starting his NFL career before Thursday night’s festivities in Philadelphia come to an end.

Williams made a late bid to sway minds with a couple of teams over the last week before the big night. Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Media report that Williams had a pair of workouts with teams picking in the top 10.

Williams worked out for the Chargers last Thursday and then showed his stuff for the Titans on Saturday. He previously spent time with both teams during meetings at the combine in Indianapolis or at the team’s facilities.

The Chargers have the No. 7 pick on Thursday while the Titans are scheduled to pick fifth and 18th — which is where Mike Florio projected Williams to land — in the first round. They could be moving down, however, and there are sure to be some developments that could impact where Williams winds up coming off the board in a draft that is light on certainty with kickoff a little more than 24 hours away.

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Seahawks and Raiders flip 2018 fifth- and sixth-rounders for Lynch

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Because of the relationship between the General Managers involved in the soon-to-be-finished Marshawn Lynch deal and the urgencies each side felt, the compensation didn’t figure to be complicated or excessive.

And it’s not.

According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the Seahawks will get Oakland’s 2018 fifth-round pick and the Raiders will acquire Seattle’s 2018 sixth-rounder and Lynch, once he’s completed his physical and the trade becomes real.

Seahawks G.M. John Schneider and Raiders boss Reggie McKenzie used to work together in Green Bay, and the familiarity made the trade part of the transaction easy.

Plus, with Schneider getting Lynch off the books and McKenzie getting the kind of human shield in Oakland that may help fans forget for a moment the team’s leaving soon, everybody wins whether Lynch is a productive runner again or not.

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Vikings are suddenly in play for a quarterback in the draft

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Technically, the Vikings already have selected a quarterback in the 2017 draft. They did it by sending their first-round pick (and more) to Philadelphia last year for Sam Bradford, whose contract expires after the coming season.

With the news that 2014 first-round selection Teddy Bridgewater likely won’t have his fifth-year option exercised, the Vikings will now be in play to use another 2017 pick on another quarterback.

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the 2017 draft, including three in the top 90. Their first selection comes at No. 48 in round two.

In 2014, the Vikings vaulted back into the bottom of round one to get Bridgewater. Six years ago, they used the 12th overall pick on Christian Ponder.

The fact that the Bridgewater decision, which doesn’t have to be made until May 3, already has been leaked (with the qualifier of “likely”) invites speculation as to whether the Vikings are trying to create the impression that they may go for a quarterback in one of the early rounds, in order to maximize the overall unpredictability and confusion regarding their plans.

Ultimately, that’s the smartest move for any team — conceal your actual plans for as long as possible, and embrace anything that will naturally make those plans seem even less certain. This Bridgewater news adds a position to the various ones the Vikings could target, and it definitely makes the drafting of a quarterback more likely if a quarterback is deemed to be their best player available when they pick at No. 48.

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Joey Bosa has a specific plan for his offseason work, and it seems to work

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Joey Bosa takes preparation seriously. Last year when he was getting ready for the draft, he even practiced for the Wonderlic, before logging the kind of score that would make people who care about such scores nod approvingly.

“I’m not as dumb as I may sound or look,” Bosa said.

Along those lines, the Chargers defensive end has a concrete plan about his offseason, which he has taken pains to keep team officials abreast of. It was noted that he wasn’t around for the start of voluntary workouts last week, but he has since returned.

I’ve been over-communicating with everybody for months now,” Bosa said of his plan, via Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News. “It’s no secret to anybody.”

Bosa told all his coaches well in advance that he was going to continue the conditioning work offsite with his own trainer (who didn’t want to be named, in a rare lack of self-promotion in that industry). Bosa worked with the same trainer last year and emerged from a long contract standoff to win defensive rookie of the year honors, with 10.5 sacks despite missing the first four games.

“I just found a guy who really knows what he’s talking about, and my body changed in ways I could never have imagined last year,” he said. “Pain in certain parts of my body that I’ve had chronically for years and years was suddenly gone after going through this process and this program.

“After that and after the year I had last year, I saw no reason why I would ever change what I’m doing.”

Considering his production, the Chargers ought to be fine with it, and appear to be. And considering the lengths he’s gone to to explain his participation in a process that’s supposed to be voluntary, everyone else should be as well.

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Report: Vikings unlikely to exercise Teddy Bridgewater’s 2018 option

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Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman met the media on Tuesday and one of the topics of conversation was quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s attempt to come back from last season’s severe knee injury.

Spielman said that there is still no timeline for Bridgewater to resume a full workload of football activities after last August’s injury. That injury was serious enough that it has created doubt about Bridgewater’s ability to return at all and that uncertainty will play into the team’s decision about their option on Bridgewater’s contract for the 2018 season.

That decision needs to be made by the middle of next week and Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Vikings are unlikely to pick up the option. The option is guaranteed against injury and, as you’d likely imagine, that’s a sticking point for the Vikings as they’d prefer not to be on the hook for more than $11 million in salary for a player who isn’t able to play.

Sam Bradford is in the final year of his contract as well, which may lead the Vikings to consider a quarterback addition in the draft this week as they plan for all eventualities at the most important position on offense.

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Longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder laid off by ESPN

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One of ESPN’s most experienced NFL reporters is out, effective immediately.

Ed Werder, who has a strong reputation for covering football and particularly the Cowboys, has been let go, he said on Twitter this morning.

“After 17 years reporting on NFL, I’ve been informed that I’m being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire,” Werder wrote.

ESPN is expected to lay off around 100 employees this week, as the network tries to reduce costs as it deals with declining revenues thanks to cord cutting. At least one other NFL reporter, longtime Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky, has also been let go, and it’s likely that several notable names in the NFL media world will be without jobs soon.

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No update yet on Marshawn Lynch from Marshawn Lynch

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The last time NFL Media told us a deal was in place between the Raiders and Marshawn Lynch, it wasn’t. And Lynch himself made things clear with this tweet: “If u kno me you kno my business is my business and if u don’t kno me that’s a fun fact for ya… when sh-t get REAL I’ll let you kno!!!!

While it’s highly unlikely that NFL Media would allow itself to go 0-for-2 on this specific story, Lynch still has yet to let anyone know whether “sh-t” has gotten real. Besides, NFL Media wisely has applied this caveat to its report: “As is nearly always the case with Lynch, nothing is done until it’s done. All parties involved were wary of celebrating a deal until Lynch sets foot on the mainland and meets with those necessary to complete a deal. But at this point, sources directly involved in the situation are confident it’ll get done.”

Lynch is scheduled to return to the Bay Area on Wednesday from a trip to Haiti. Some have pointed to his travels as the reason for his failure to let us know whether “sh-t” has gotten real. That said, it is indeed possible to tweet from the road (and from the air). The fact that, as of this posting, he has said nothing means there’s still a chance that he will say pretty much anything.

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Report: Buccaneers talking about trading back

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There was a report early this week that many of the teams drafting at the top of the first round are open to trading down and that feeling apparently extends to the later sections of the round as well.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Buccaneers have spoken to “at least three teams” about trading back from the No. 19 overall pick. Schefter adds that the Buccaneers could trade out of the first round altogether, which suggests that at least one of those teams is looking to trade back into the first round or doesn’t currently have a first-round selection.

The Rams, Vikings and Patriots are currently without a first-round pick and the Patriots are without a second-round pick as well.

One team that could be a potential trade partner for the Bucs is the Giants. Their General Manager Jerry Reese said the team would do that if the opportunity presents itself, although they and any other teams will almost certainly be waiting to see how the first 18 picks fall before making a move into Tampa’s spot.

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Mark Ingram says he’s fine with addition of Adrian Peterson

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Mark Ingram got some high-profile company in the backfield Tuesday, but the Saints starting running back said he’s fine with the addition of Adrian Peterson.

I’m all about winning, man,” Ingram said, via Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If this will help us win, I’m all about winning. I’m all for it.”

Ingram’s coming off his first 1,000-yard rushing season, and he’s always had some degree of help in the backfield, rather than being the kind of bell cow back he was at Alabama. Last year it was Tim Hightower, but it has been several others in his time in New Orleans.

Saints coach Sean Payton said Peterson would have a “very clear and defined” role on the team, but Ingram didn’t seem worried about it cutting into his carries.

“Listen, man, it’s nothing new,” Ingram said. “I’ve been sharing the ball with one or two, maybe three guys since I got here.

“I figured we were going to draft somebody or get somebody in free agency, still might, I figured that was going to happen, so it’s not surprising to me. I don’t care who comes in, where I’m at, who I’m playing with. I’m always going to compete, I’m always going to do the best I can do and that’s just me, that’s how I’m built.”

Of course, none of the backs Ingram’s been sharing time with have an MVP trophy, or 11,747 rushing yards, but that’s an adjustment he’s willing to make.

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Marshawn Lynch deal to Oakland is done, pending physical

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The Raiders had a deadline, and Marshawn Lynch has apparently met it.

According to the NFL Network, the deal between the veteran running back, the Raiders and the Seahawks will be finished by the end of the day.

Lynch has agreed to a new one-year deal with Oakland, and the teams have already agreed on the details of a trade, which will involve a swap of late-round draft picks in 2018.

The deal will pay Lynch a base of $3 million, with the chance to make $2 million more if he gains 1,000 yards, with a maxed-out value of $8.5 million.

That sends Lynch out of retirement and back to his hometown team, in time to do some PR work and perhaps run the ball from time to time for a team that needed a back after Latavius Murray left in free agency. General Manager Reggie McKenzie said he needed to know what Lynch was going to do before the draft, so he could make other plans this week if he wasn’t coming home.

Lynch will still need to pass a physical, and he’s heading to the Bay Area to do that after returning from a trip to Haiti.

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Cowboys think they’re OK “staying put” at 28

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The dearth of quarterbacks may make other teams desperate to trade up. But for one guy who loves a good deal, the depth at cornerback makes him more likely to sit tight.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was willing to to sit tight at No. 28 overall and see what comes to them.

This is a real good year for staying put,” Jones said. “I don’t know if it’s because we need so many good football players or because there are some good football players there, especially in those early rounds. But in my experience, it’s wasting your time to talk about what you might do trading in the later rounds.

“As far as value, what opportunities we might have there, you don’t ever want to predetermine what you’re going to do. But certainly if you stay there we will have an opportunity to really help our team, in my view.”

The Cowboys have been willing, if not downright eager, to make deals in either direction in the past. From trading up for Morris Claiborne and Demarcus Lawrence to moving back for players such as Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams, to failed bids for quarterbacks Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook last year (before they settled for Dak Prescott), he’s always up for some action.

But this draft is perceived as being deep at one of the positions the Cowboys need most. After losing cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Claiborne in free agency (along with safety Barry Church and others), they need to infuse some young talent into the secondary. They also need pass rushers, but it appears they think they’ll be able to find what they need later.

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Chad Kelly says NFL teams know he’s moved past “dumb mistakes”

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Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly wasn’t at the Scouting Combine as a result of the NFL’s new policy banning players who have been involved in acts of violence off the field. But Kelly said he believes NFL teams know what kind of person he is.

Kelly pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct two years ago as part of a case in which he was initially accused of punching two people, threatening to shoot up a bar with an AK-47 and resisting arrest. He said this morning on PFT Live that he has told NFL teams that he’s grown up since then, and he thinks those teams believe him.

“I’ve made it clear that I just had my 23rd birthday, if I don’t get it now I’ll never get it. I think they understand my sincere apologies for making those dumb mistakes,” Kelly said.

A bigger problem for Kelly right now may be that he’s rehabbing both knee and wrist injuries, and he hasn’t been able to work out for teams the way he would have liked. So there are some significant questions about him, but he’s hoping he has answered those questions as well as possible, and will hear his name called this week by some team that’s satisfied with the kind of player and person he is.

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Latavius Murray plans on being ready for training camp

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Adrian Peterson earned a prominent spot in the headlines on Tuesday by signing with the Saints in a move that sets him up for an early return to Minnesota because the two teams will square off in Week One.

The plan for the Vikings is for Latavius Murray to be in Peterson’s old spot as the team’s starting running back, although the Vikings will have to wait a little while before they have a chance to see exactly how Murray fits into their offense. He had ankle surgery shortly after signing with the team as a free agent and said Tuesday that he’s still going through the rehab process with designs on being ready to go when training camp starts.

“That’s the plan,” Murray said. “That’s my goal, obviously. I don’t want to miss any more time than I have to, but, at the same time, I have to continue to trust the plan [the medical staff] has in place for me. I want to be out there when it’s time to lock and load.”

When that time arrives, Murray says that he knows the Vikings want him on the field as much as possible as an every-down back and said he’s confident that his receiving skills will allow that to happen. It will be a spell before there’s on-field evidence to support those feelings, but little doubt that the Vikings will need Murray to hit the ground running upon his return to action.

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Mixed signals from Rams on Trumaine Johnson

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The Rams opted to apply the franchise tag to cornerback Trumaine Johnson for a second time, despite the 20-percent raise over last year’s eight-figure salary. Since then, mixed signals have emerged as to whether the Rams will keep him under the one-year, $16.74 million tender (which he has signed), trade him, or sign him to a long-term deal.

As the first minicamp of the Sean McVay era began on Tuesday, the mixed signals continued.

“Today he’s a Ram,” G.M. Les Snead told reporters regarding Johnson. “First walk-through [practice on Tuesday], and then we’ll get this minicamp going and it’ll go through OTAs, and the plan I mentioned is still the same. It’s not necessarily going to affect the draft at all. We’ll try to rank the corners from top to bottom. You can always use more than one or two or three good corners. His situation won’t affect it, but right now he’s a Ram, and we plan to go from there.”

The “today he’s a Ram” line prompted an obvious follow-up — is there a chance he’s traded from the Rams tomorrow or one of the next days?

“No, right now, I think we’re more into OTAs and let’s see if we can get something done by the end of this thing,” Snead said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”

Johnson separately spoke to reporters about his situation.

“I’m glad to be a Ram, point blank,” Johnson said. “Coming out here, it’s a privilege to play football. I’m glad I’m on the team, and I’m with the Rams.”

Does he wants a long-term deal?

“Of course,” Johnson said. “We’ve got time right now. That’s not my main focus, I’m going to let my agent handle that. In the meantime, get to know the new guys, be back with the old guys and get all of these new defenses in with the coaches.”

Either way, Johnson is saying he’d like to stay.

“Of course, I love these guys,” Johnson said. “I’m here because I love my teammates. I don’t want to leave and hopefully we get a long-term deal.”

It still seems as if all options are on the table, especially since Johnson has plenty of leverage when it comes to long-term talks. With $16.74 million already guaranteed for 2017 and quarterback money looming if he’s tagged again in 2018, Johnson can (and should) ask for a huge deal in order to commit beyond this season. The Rams also have options; they can draft a replacement, and/or they can use Johnson as bait to replenish draft picks after sending their 2017 first-rounder (No. 5 overall) to Tennessee as part of the Jared Goff trade.

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