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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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Michael Oher “working his fanny off” in comeback effort

AP

Techincally, Michael Oher remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

But the Panthers tackle is apparently working like a man who intends to play next season.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman said Oher “has been working his fanny off.”

Oher suffered a concussion in Week Three and didn’t play again last season, with the team eventually putting him on IR. They then signed free agent left tackle Matt Kalil, which would return Oher to right tackle if he returns.

And apparently, they’re thinking that’s a when rather than an if.

“He’s doing NFL workouts. He’s fully engaged in that weight room sweating his butt off,” Gettleman said. “He looks great, he sounds great. . . .

“Like I told you, he’s doing NFL workouts right now. His workouts right now are not for the faint of heart. He’s down there grunting like everybody else.”

If he doesn’t return, the Panthers would have a pretty glaring hole at right tackle. Previous starter Mike Remmers went to Minnesota in free agency, and though they have former fourth-rounder Daryl Williams on the roster, it’s still thin if Oher is unable to play.

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Cowboys kick the tires on veteran tackle Byron Bell

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The Cowboys have enjoyed depth and stability on their offensive line, but now have to look around for options.

Friday, they brought in a guy with some decent starting experience.

According to Todd Archer of ESPN.com, the Cowboys had former Panthers and Titans offensive lineman Byron Bell in for a visit. He has also met with the Packers this week.

Bell didn’t play last year after an ankle injury suffered in OTAs, but started 72 games over his first five seasons. He was a solid-to-good right tackle for the Panthers, but was in over his head when they moved him to left tackle, and they brought in Michael Oher as an upgrade. He played both guard and tackle for the Titans, starting all 16 games in 2015.

The Cowboys are looking at their options after losing Ronald Leary in free agency and Doug Free to retirement.

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Bob Brown was the one player who intimidated Mean Joe Greene

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Mean Joe Greene is known as perhaps the toughest player in NFL history, but he admits there was one guy who could get the best of him on the field.

Greene, the Hall of Fame Steelers defensive lineman, appeared on PFT Live and, when first asked whether he was ever intimidated during his playing days, answered, “That’s not something I experienced when I was on the football field.”

But after giving it some thought, Greene mentioned a fellow Hall of Famer, offensive lineman Bob Brown, whom Greene made the mistake of taking on just once.

“Probably my biggest example of being intimidated was a ball game we played in 1972, we played the Oakland Raiders and Bob Brown was the right offensive tackle and I was the left defensive tackle — I played one player removed from him. L.C. Greenwood lined up opposite Bob Brown.”

Greene recalled that Greenwood, his longtime teammate who was also a very tough player, was complaining during the game that Brown was whipping his butt. Greene, convinced that he could handle Brown one-on-one, told Greenwood to switch places with him for a play. As it turned out, Brown hit him so hard that Greene didn’t even know what happened except that he was on the ground and his helmet had been knocked sideways.

“I said ‘What’s happening?’ he said, ‘Oh man the guy is killing me.’ I said, ‘Let me have him. I’ll line up over him.’ And when I lined up across from Bob Brown, and I looked in that helmet, he’s a couple shades darker than me and all I could see was his eyes, just the look in that helmet, I was very fearful,” Greene recalled. “When the ball was snapped, all I remember was looking through the ear hole of my helmet, one shoe was off, and the play was gone.”

Younger fans may not know the name Bob Brown, but that story from Greene speaks volumes. Brown was one of the all-time tough guys.

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Packers reportedly considered Adrian Peterson visit

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The first free agency in the 10-year career of running back Adrian Peterson continues, for good reason. He still wants to be paid more than anyone wants to pay him.

One team that would be a logical fit for Peterson considered bringing him in for a visit. Via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, the Packers thought about it before deciding against it.

If the Packers said “no thanks” because they believe Peterson would have had the same response to any offer from the Packers, there’s possibly a chance they jump in, if/when Peterson realizes that the money simply won’t be close to where he thought it would be.

Still, the smartest play for Peterson could be to wait. Wait for teams to not emerge from the draft with the running back they hope to get. Wait for teams to become discontented with the running backs on their roster during offseason workouts. Wait for the inevitable torn ACL, broken leg, etc. suffered by a starting running back with a contending team.

Meanwhile the Packers will potentially wait for Peterson to decide that he wants to play for whatever he can get.

However it plays out, Peterson likely will play this year. The only questions are where and, perhaps more importantly, when.

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Panthers will pick up option on Kelvin Benjamin

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The Panthers still can’t be sure what they have in Kelvin Benjamin.

But they’re going to commit to him anyway.

Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman told the Charlotte Observer the team plans to pick up the fifth-year option on the wide receiver, who has alternated between good and injured and confusing.

The option will pay Benjamin $8 million for the 2018 season.

The 2014 first-rounder was excellent as a rookie, with 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. But he followed a torn ACL in 2015 (the Panthers went to the Super Bowl without a legitimate starting receiver) with a less-productive 2016 (63 catches for 941 yards and seven touchdowns).

He also he also had moments of inconsistency last year that were bothersome, including the way he gave up pursuit of an interception on the play that resulted in Cam Newton’s shoulder injury (which led to Newton needing surgery next week).

That said, he’s still just 26 and gives Newton a large target, and he remains their best option at the position.

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2013 quarterback draft class was a disaster

AP

Four years ago, only one quarterback was drafted in the first round, and only two were taken through the first 72 selections. Most teams knew what they were doing in passing on available passers.

In hindsight, the 2013 draft class was a disaster.

Former Bills quarterback EJ Manuel, the 16th overall pick in the draft that year, started 10 games as a rookie and a total of seven since then. He has 19 career touchdown passes, 20 turnovers, and a passer rating of 77.5.

Geno Smith (pictured), picked 39th overall by the Jets, started all 16 games as a rookie and 13 in 2014. A broken jaw resulting from a locker-room punch in August 2015 ended his time with the Jets as a starter; he has 28 touchdown passes, 36 interceptions, seven lost fumbles, and a passer rating of 72.4.

The next guy off the board was Mike Glennon, in round three. He played well enough in two seasons to position the Buccaneers to earn the first overall pick in the draft, which they used to pick Glennon’s replacement, Jameis Winston. Glennon started 18 total games before taking a seat behind Winston.

With 30 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions, and a passer rating of 84.6, he’s clearly the best of a bad bunch. Which partially explains his $15 million per year deal in Chicago. (It’s still not clear who the Bears were bidding against.)

Also drafted that year were a flurry of fourth-rounders: Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson, and Landry Jones. Of them, Barkley (six starts) and Jones (four starts) have played the most. Somewhat surprisingly, both ended up with better second contracts than Manuel or Smith.

Barkley signed a two-year, $4 million deal with a $500,000 signing bonus in San Francisco. Jones has a two-year, $4.4 million contract in Pittsburgh, with $600,000 to sign. In contrast, Manuel has a one-year, $800,000 contract in Oakland and Smith has a one-year deal with a base value of $775,000 and a maximum value of $2 million.

Also drafted that year were a quartet of seventh rounders: Brad Sorensen, Zac Dysert, B.J. Daniels, and Sean Renfree.

So it was a very bad year for quarterbacks in the draft. Kudos to (most) of the teams for realizing this and not over-drafting signal-callers. And condolences to Manuel and Smith for somehow sliding behind Barkley and Jones when the time came to sign a second deal.

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Colts cut Arthur Jones

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The Arthur Jones era in Indianapolis has come to an end.

The Colts announced this morning that they have released Jones, a defensive tackle who has spent the last three seasons with the team.

When the Colts signed Jones to a five-year, $33 million contract in 2014, they thought he’d make a huge impact in the defense run by coach Chuck Pagano, who had previously coached Jones in Baltimore. But Jones played in just 17 games in three seasons, missing time with injuries in all three years and also serving a four-game PED suspension.

The 30-year-old Jones probably still has some football left in him. But he’s going to have to sign with a team that’s offering him a lot less money than he made in Indianapolis.

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Four tech giants bidding for online streaming of Thursday games

AP

When owners meet in Phoenix next week, they’re expected to get an update on the bidding for the online streaming package for Thursday Night Football, and it’s apparently a competitive process.

According to Kurt Wagner of Recode, four tech giants are bidding for the package, with Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and YouTube expressing interest.

Twitter paid $10 million for the rights to 10 games last year, chosen from offers from the other three. This year, others could join the mix, and the added interest could drive that higher, which will be sweeter music to the ears of owners than any birds chirping.

The deal is more interesting for its potential for growth and worldwide reach than current value, because $10 million is bar tab money compared to what the league is getting from broadcast networks.

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All halftimes will be 13 minutes, 30 seconds

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As the NFL looks to tighten the belt regarding the amount of time it takes to play a game, the league will be adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to halftime.

The duration of intermission will expand from 12 minutes to 13 minutes and 30 seconds. While on the surface that could make some games longer, the 12-minute intermission currently has some play in the joints. Moving forward, all halftimes will last precisely 13 minutes and 30 seconds.

“Halftime currently is 12 minutes, but there is built-in delay time that involves teams getting to the locker room and the infrastructure of our stadiums and how they’re configured,” Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said during a Thursday conference call. “So we’re going to eliminate all of those discretionary periods of time and just have a clock, 13 minutes and 30 seconds, and at the end of that period, the ball will be made ready for play for the second half kickoff.”

The change doesn’t appear on a lengthy list of proposed rule changes for 2017. Apparently, this is the type of administrative matter that the league office can handle without a vote of the owners.

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Brian Quick goes to Washington

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Sean McVay made the move from the Redskins to the Rams this offseason and wide receiver Brian Quick will be making the opposite jump.

Quick’s agents announced on Friday that their client has signed a deal with the Redskins. Quick joins Terrelle Pryor as new additions to a receiving corps that lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon as free agents this month.

Quick was the 33rd pick of the 2012 draft and is coming off his most productive NFL season. Quick caught 41 passes for 564 yards and three touchdowns last season while playing with Case Keenum and Jared Goff.

A move to playing with Kirk Cousins would seem to bode well for Quick’s chances of building on those numbers, although Quick’s playing time may be dependent on how ready 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson is after missing almost all of his rookie season with an Achilles injury.

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Brian Robison takes 2017 pay cut, adds year to contract

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Vikings defensive end Brian Robison has agreed to an extension through the 2018 season that comes with a pay cut for this season.

Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that the veteran will cut his base salary from $5.3 million to a fully-guaranteed $3.9 million for the coming year while also giving up $300,000 in workout and per-game roster bonuses. He will have those bonuses in his contract for the 2018 season along with a $3.2 million base salary that includes $1.25 million in guaranteed money.

Robison is heading into his 11th season with the Vikings and has started all but one of the regular season games the team has played over the last six seasons. He had 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles last season, but saw Danielle Hunter, who finished the year with 12.5 sacks, eat into his playing time as the year progressed.

With linebacker Chad Greenway retiring and running back Adrian Peterson released, Robison has now spent more time with the Vikings than any other player on the current roster.

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Philip Rivers: Any rookie QB will have to sit for a while

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The Chargers have talked about the possibility of adding a quarterback in the draft and they’re doing their due diligence on this year’s prospects.

They had workouts with Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs and are set to work out Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer on Friday. If they do draft a quarterback, they’ll be playing behind Philip Rivers and Rivers said during an interview with Nick Hardwick and Judson Richards on KLSD that he’d be willing to act as a mentor. He also said that the learning process would be an extended one for any new arrival.

“You expect at some point they’re going to get a younger guy in the room to try to start to develop him and groom him,” Rivers said. “It doesn’t by any means really affect me. I think it’s healthy for me to know this thing doesn’t last forever. I have to get to playing better and keep this thing going as long as you can. I think as long as I do that, then whoever it is they bring in here, they’re going to sit for a while.”

Rivers is signed through 2019, so any rookie addition would be sitting for at least three years if he plays out his current pact with the team that didn’t let Drew Brees‘ presence stop them from adding a quarterback in the first round of the 2004 draft.

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NFL has no specific proposal for automatic ejections/suspensions, yet

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The long list of proposed rule changes does not include a proposal regarding ejections or immediate suspensions based on certain types of hits. Apparently, that’s because the league has yet to formulate an actual proposal.

“On the suspensions, for certain types of hits we will cover it with the NFLPA, we’ll cover it with the membership this next week,” Competition Committee chairperson Rich McKay said during a Thursday conference call. “We just want to show some plays that we think have no place in our game and therefore should result in suspension and/or ejection if it’s seen on the field and can be called. As opposed to I think sometimes people get caught up in the idea that a player should be warned and then there should be progressive enforcement. In this case these are plays we just don’t want in our game and our feeling is if suspension is an option and you show those plays to players, we’ve seen them really conform to rule changes and we think this will help us even more conform to not having these types of plays in our game. So, that’s the purpose of that.”

There’s apparently no proposal yet because a fundamental change to the procedures for suspending players would require agreement with the union. Also, because game officials already are reluctant to eject players for fear of impacting competitive balance, any new rule would require clarity, specificity, and a procedure (possibly supervised in real time by the league office) that would ensure consistency.

In other words, don’t expect anything to happen next week. In the absence of a written proposal and an agreement with the union, this one is going to take more time — especially if the NFLPA insists on a significant concession to expand the league’s ability to suspend players.

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Dean Blandino: Officials can issue warning before penalty for 12 men in huddle

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During the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Packers in January, Dallas was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct when wide receiver Brice Butler was judged to have entered the huddle and then left without participating in a play.

The penalty wiped out a 15-yard gain that put the Cowboys on the edge of the red zone and was followed by a punt a couple of plays later in a turn of events that loomed large in a three-point loss. If the same thing were to happen in the playoffs next season, the Cowboys might not find themselves penalized.

During a conference call on Thursday, NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said that the league will give officials the right to issue a warning before heading straight to a 15-yard penalty.

“We did discuss it,” Blandino said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Obviously that’s a penalty you don’t see very frequently. We looked at some of the language in the book, and we’re going to give our officials more latitude to warn the team if they feel it is a potential issue and then penalize after a warning.”

Given how rarely the call is made — referee Tony Corrente made both the January call and the previous one in 2014 — it’s not likely to come up all that often, but the shift laid out by Blandino seems like a more appropriate response when and if it does.

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Friday morning one-liners

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The Bills announced their offseason workout schedule.

Will Dolphins DT Jordan Phillipspotential meet his production this season?

It doesn’t look like WR Michael Floyd will be staying with the Patriots.

A look at the newest member of the Jets’ receiving corps.

Can the Ravens find LB Terrell Suggssuccessor in the draft?

The Bengals special teams should benefit from RB Cedric Peerman’s return.

The Browns were all over Ohio State’s pro day workout.

Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt is in line for a contract extension.

Texans DE J.J. Watt was on the wrong side of a snowball fight.

How do the Colts stack up at cornerback behind Vontae Davis?

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles thinks he’s making progress toward cutting down turnovers.

DT Sylvester Williams hopes to make his late father proud with his play for the Titans.

Is Michigan WR Amara Darboh a good fit for the Broncos?

Could the Chiefs offer QB Colin Kaepernick a landing spot?

Raiders offensive coordninator Todd Downing likes the new additions to his unit.

RB Branden Oliver is predicting a breakout season with the Chargers.

CB Orlando Scandrick stuck up for Cowboys fans.

Will DT Jonathan Hankins re-sign with the Giants?

The draft should offer the Eagles a chance to address their remaining needs.

A trio of free agents who might interest the Redskins.

A few things to consider with QB Mark Sanchez joining the Bears.

The Lions took a look at a few prospects from the University of Missouri.

Explosiveness has been a focus for the Packers this offseason.

Who will back up Vikings QB Sam Bradford this season?

Falcons S Keanu Neal returned to Florida for his alma mater’s pro day.

Greg Olsen has worked out well for the Panthers and they’re taking a look at another tight end from the University of Miami.

LB Manti Te’o is thankful for a chance to play for the Saints.

The Buccaneers have built up their young talent.

The Cardinals think an exodus of free agents is a sign of how well they’ve built their team.

It didn’t take a long journey for Rams personnel to check out USC’s pro day.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is doing his research on this year’s quarterback prospects.

A defense of Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

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