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Ten ways to improve the Hall of Fame selection process

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Every year, on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, 44 men and women gather in the host city and determine the members of the next class of Hall of Famers.

Typically, the panel considers 15 modern-era candidates, which systemically is whittled down to five finalists for an up-or-down vote.  The voters also consider two previously-determined finalists determined by the Seniors Committee, which comes up with two players who, for whatever reason, were passed over during past sessions.

In the end, as few as four and as many as seven secure admission to Canton.

Every year, complaints inevitably arise regarding the persons who make it and those who don’t.  At times, those complaints are aimed at the process.  Usually, the debate fizzles by the next day, when the Super Bowl starts.

This year, largely through the efforts of Jason Whitlock of FOXSports.com, the criticism has lingered.  The fact that Whitlock’s opinions have sparked a pointed response from two of the voters has served only to give the discussion ongoing life.

Though some of the voters who perhaps feel a threat to their fiefdom may not like it, any effort to consider whether the process can be improved represents a valuable expenditure of time and effort.  In this vein, we now offer 10 specific ideas for improving the procedure for determining who gets in, and who’s left out of, the Hall of Fame.

1.  Expand the panel.

The panel currently consists only of media members, some of whom are unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, and/or semi-retired.  One voter is assigned for each team, even if the voter has no specific jurisdiction over that team.  For example, Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange holds the vote that corresponds to the Falcons, even though he hasn’t focused his efforts on that team for years.  Ditto for David Elfin, the Redskins’ representative who no longer works for a Washington-focused publication.  Others, like Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, had limited experience covering the NFL but was the only guy at the only paper in the town in which the team is headquartered.

That’s not a knock on Joe, whom we know and like.  But, surely, he’ll acknowledge that he had limited experience covering the NFL when he got the assignment.  Before inheriting the Bengals beat from Mark Curnutte in 2009, Reedy previously covered the Jets for two years (1997 and 1998) at the Post-Star in Glen Falls, New York and the Jaguars for one year (1999) at the Gainesville Sun.  Many would contend that three relatively distant years at non-first-tier publications shouldn’t be enough to secure 2.27 percent of the say as to who makes it to Canton.

The panel also includes one representative of the Professional Football Writers Association and 11 at-large media members.  That’s 44 total voters.

The panel, put simply, is too small.  (And, trust me, I’m not saying that because I’m angling for a seat at the table.  I don’t want one, I don’t expect to ever be offered one — especially after writing this article — and I wouldn’t have the time to do the assignment justice unless and until I become unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, and/or semi-retired.)  Because the human beings who comprise the panel are subject to the same human factors that influence us consciously or otherwise, one way to neutralize those realities is to involve more voters.

As explained below, that doesn’t mean more media members.  To enjoy the full faith and confidence of football fans, the process needs more voices, more perspectives, and less power in the hands of any one voter.

Many of the persons who hold these votes take great pride in the assignment.  As a result, they naturally will be inclined to resist any changes that will make the achievement less significant, such as adding significantly more people to the process.

Regardless, significantly more people need to be added to the process.

2.  Overhaul the Board of Trustees.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is governed by a Board of Trustees.  Some of the names are instantly recognizable, like Commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.  (One name is recognizable but curiously out of place. ESPN’s Todd Blackledge, whose bailiwick is college football, has a seat on the Board of Trustees.)

There is also a cluster of persons with no connection to the NFL, but who hold positions of prominence in and around Canton, Ohio, the geographic location of the Hall of Fame.

With all due respect to those Canton-area businesspeople, it makes no sense for the policies and procedures of the Hall of Fame to be set by folks whose biggest contribution to the process is the ability to show up for meetings without incurring travel expenses.  Though it makes sense for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to seek the support and involvement of the Canton business community, the Board of Trustees should be composed of folks who have a direct role in the game and who have the best interests of the game at all times in mind.

To the extent that there are some Canton-area businesspeople who have a direct role in the game, such as Packers great and successful Akron businessman Dave Robinson, they should have a seat at the table.  We also realize that some members of the Board of Trustees are instrumental in organizing the events that surround each year’s enshrinement ceremony.  But most of the persons who are setting policy for the Hall of Fame should have names that ardent fans and followers of the sport instantly recognize.

Currently, it’s roughly a 50-50 split.  That needs to change.

3.  Change the bylaws.

The Board of Trustees ultimately determine the contents of the Hall of Fame’s bylaws.  All too often, members of the panel who are faced with criticism of the selection process instantly explain that their hands are tied by the bylaws.

So change the bylaws.

Every year, the NFL changes multiple rules in the hopes of making the game better.  In the past half-decade, the only meaningful change to the bylaws occurred when the modern-era finalists were increased from 13 to 15.

The bylaws shouldn’t be used as a shield for avoiding change, but as a sword for implementing it.  All too often, the bylaws become an excuse for the status quo, not the impetus for improvement.  For that reason alone, the powers-that-be need to be willing and able on an annual basis (or more often) to look for ways to improve the rules that govern the selection process.

4.  Include Hall of Famers.

Every year, the winner of the Heisman Trophy acquires the ability to vote on all future winners of the award.  The logic is simple, and undeniable.  Winning the Heisman represents membership in an exclusive club, and the men who have won it should have a say in who gets it.

The argument applies even more strongly to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame coach John Madden believes that the busts talk to each other at night.  If they do, the first comment when a new crop joins them shouldn’t be, “Who in the hell let that guy in?”

They say it takes one to know one, and a Hall of Famer is in the best position to know another Hall of Famer.  Though giving Hall of Famers votes would introduce the possibility of biases and prejudices, those factors surely apply from time to time (or, as the case may be, every year) to the 44 men and women who currently have the keys to Canton, especially when players who earn a reputation for being hard on the media seem to have a hard time getting into the Hall of Fame.

The only requirement?  To vote, the Hall of Famer must attend the meeting.  No proxies or absentee ballots.  If they show up, they get a say in the process.

5.  Include coaches and other established football minds.

In responding to Jason Whitlock’s column calling for change, Bob Gretz argued that “Rick Gosselin has forgotten more football in a week than Whitlock has known in his life.”  That same observation likely applies to many of the folks currently on the selection committee.

And that observation probably would apply to all of them if, say, guys like Joe Gibbs or Ron Wolf or Bill Parcells or Chuck Noll were in the room.

So why not give people who have devoted their careers to coaching football and/or running football teams a direct say in who should and shouldn’t land in the Hall of Fame?  For those not already in the Hall of Fame, they’d have to forfeit their own eligibility for the Hall until two years after leaving the committee.

Frankly, those folks are far better suited to picking the new members of the Hall of Fame than pretty much everyone on the selection committee as its currently constituted.

6.  Categorize the candidates.

Every year, the finalists are thrown into a vat regardless of the position they played, with the new members of the Hall emerging from a stew that can’t distinguish between pancake blocks and pick-sixes.  It would make more sense to allow one new member per year from each of the various positions on the field:  quarterback, running back, receiver/tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, defensive back, and coach/G.M./contributor.

The finalists would be determined by position, with the list of candidates trimmed to three-to-five before the selection meeting, and with no requirement that a person be admitted from each position group.

This would expand the potential maximum size of the class from seven to eight, but the high-water mark of seven per year has been in place since 1964, the year after the charter class was inducted.  At the time, the NFL and AFL had only 22 teams.

Today, the NFL has 32 franchises, as a result of the addition of two in 1966, one in 1967, one in 1968, two in 1976, two in 1995, one in 1999, and one in 2002.  Moving the maximum annual class from seven to eight in light of the growth of the league isn’t simply justified, it’s overdue.

7.  Scuttle the Senior Committee.

The Senior Committee serves the purpose of allowing the selection committee to revisit two players from past seasons who fell through the cracks.  In other words, it gives the selection committee to right past wrongs.  By improving the selection process, there would be no reason to clean up past messes by devoting two of seven annual spots to guys who failed to get in when competing directly with their peers.

In his response to Jason Whitlock’s criticisms, Bob Gretz unwittingly proved our point.

Gretz explained that, ever year, a pair of Hall of Famers join the Seniors Committee to assist in the process of whittling down the previously overlooked players to two finalists, who seem to almost always get in.  For the 2011 class, Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham and Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders worked with the Seniors Committee.

Ham, per Gretz, made a strong case for linebacker Chris Hanburger.

“Ham told the group that when he went to the Steelers in the 1971 NFL Draft out of Penn State, the Pittsburgh coaches gave him film of Hanburger to study,” Gretz writes.  “There was no doubt in Ham’s mind that Hanburger was a legitimate candidate.  Whose word are your going to take on this subject:  Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham, or Jason Whitlock?”

Gretz essentially is admitting that the selection committee screwed up by not putting Hanburger in the Hall years earlier.  With the involvement on the selection committee of guys like Hall of Famer Jack Ham convinced that Hanburger should get in, that wouldn’t have happened.

In other words, if Ham and the other Hall of Famers had a seat at the table, perhaps Hanburger wouldn’t have been erroneously passed over.

After all, whose word should the Hall of Fame been taking on this subject:  Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham, or any member of the media?

8.  Embrace transparency.

Though many voters seek refuge in the bylaws and regard them as if they’d been etched onto stone tablets by the hand of God, many also will acknowledge the validity of Whitlock’s complaint that the process unfolds in secrecy.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC, who has nothing but the best interests of the process in mind (and I say that not because he’s a friend and a colleague but because I’ve spent enough time around him to know that’s who he is and how he operates), would welcome transparency.

I’d be fine with our votes being made public, which the Hall currently doesn’t want us to do,” King wrote in his February 7 Monday Morning Quarterback column.  “The feeling from Hall officials is if our votes are published, then some voters might vote differently; if a voter from Buffalo, for instance, didn’t vote for Andre Reed (and this is only an example, not the truth), he might face a backlash when he goes back to cover his team. Or in some small way it might affect his vote if he or she knew everyone would know exactly how the vote went. I believe it’s incumbent on us to not hide behind the privacy of the room. The Hall is a huge deal, obviously, with burgeoning interest every year. If we’re going to sit on the committee and sit in judgment of these men for enshrinement, I think you ought to know how we vote.”

If one of the most respected members of the NFL media believes that the process should be more transparent, then it’s fair to say that the process should be more transparent.  With an expanded panel of voters, anyone who covers the team on which a player played most or all of his career could abstain from voting, thereby addressing the biggest concern that King raised.

9.  Involve the NFL.

As mentioned above, the Commissioner and various owners occupy seats on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees.  But the NFL should be even more involved than that.

Though it’s called the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s essentially the NFL Hall of Fame, and the NFL should be in position to propose changes to bylaws and initiate procedural enhancements aimed at improving the process of determining each class of enshrinees.

One change the NFL would likely make relates to the consideration of off-field conduct.  Currently forbidden by the bylaws, the reality is that plenty of voters consider the things a candidate did when not playing football, especially in close cases.  The bylaws, then, should change to reflect the reality of the process.

If the NFL is the perpetual custodian of the highest levels of the sport, the NFL should have much greater involvement in and dominion over the museum that celebrates those who made the biggest impact on the game.

10.  Commit to continuous improvement and change.

Most of the criticisms of the current selection process arise from a perception that the system is stale and stagnant, in large part because change doesn’t happen often and doesn’t seem welcome.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell repeatedly explains that the league constantly must look for ways to enhance and improve the game.  That same attitude must infect, and overtake, the Hall of Fame.

So many things about the selection process need to be changed because so little change has happened in the 48 years since the Hall of Fame opened.  Egos and agendas and pride and any other factor that stands in the way of change needs to be set aside, and folks need to look for ways to make the process better, and ultimately more fair.

We’re not advocating change for the sake of change.  But in this case there has been little or no change.  Changes need to be made, and then the Hall of Fame needs to be willing to consider future change without external calls for it.

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Browns waive OT Chris Faulk, PK Jake Rogers

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The Browns waived offensive tackle Chris Faulk and kicker/punter Jake Rogers on Monday, according to the NFL’s transactions.

The move leaves the Browns with 88 players, two short of the 90-player limit.

The 24-year-old Faulk spent the 2013 season on injured reserve with Cleveland after knee surgery. Faulk suffered a torn ACL and MCL at LSU in 2012.

Rogers, 27, signed with the Browns in June. He was waived with an injury.

By waiving Rogers, the Browns have just one punter (Spencer Lanning) and one kicker (Billy Cundiff).

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Jeromey Clary takes pay cut of nearly $3 million

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Chargers guard Jeromey Clary is coming off a rocky 2013 season and started camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list while he recovers from hip surgery.

Waiting for him to get healthy wasn’t a sure thing for the Chargers because Clary was set to make $4.55 million and the team drafted guard Chris Watt in the third round in May, but Clary went a long way toward guaranteeing himself a job for the entire year on Monday.

Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reports that Clary has agreed to take a big pay cut in exchange for the Chargers guaranteeing his entire salary for the season. Clary will now make $1.6 million with Gehlken reporting that the savings are earmarked for any needs that may arise over the course of the regular season.

If Clary recovers in time to play in the preseason, he could still wind up in the starting lineup come September. If not, his new salary makes Clary, who can also play tackle, a more viable reserve option.

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Report: Terrell Thomas signs with Seattle

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The Seahawks lost cornerback Walter Thurmond to the Giants as a free agent, costing them a bit of depth that they may fill with a player who used to play for the Giants.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the Seahawks have agreed to terms on a contract that will bring Terrell Thomas to Seattle. The move reunites Thomas with Pete Carroll, who was the head coach at USC while Thomas was playing for the Trojans.

Thomas returned from two seasons lost to a pair of torn ACLs in the same knee to play in all 16 games for the Giants in 2013, starting seven times and recording one sack, one interception and one forced fumble over the course of the season. It was a fairly remarkable comeback given Thomas’ injuries, which followed another torn ACL in the same knee earlier in his career.

He worked out for a few teams over the course of the offseason, but no one bit until Seattle took the plunge on Monday. The Seahawks have Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane back from last season, and there’s been positive reviews of 2013 fifth-rounder Tharold Simon after he missed his rookie season with an injury.

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Patriots snag Tyler Gaffney off waivers from Panthers

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The Panthers didn’t really need sixth-round running back Tyler Gaffney this year anyway, so when he was injured recently, stashing him on IR made sense.

But the Patriots had other ideas.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Patriots claimed Gaffney off waivers, even though he needs season-ending knee surgery.

It’s similar to their 2012 claim of injured Giants tight end Jake Ballard, meaning one of these days those unwritten rules are going to have to be written down.

It also means the Panthers are out the draft pick and the $96,600 signing bonus they gave him, since the Patriots only pick up his base salaries.

And the fact that Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman was with the Giants during the Ballard claim makes it more egregious, that they lost a guy they drafted because they had to have Fozzy Whittaker the next three weeks.

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Report: No timetable for Cordy Glenn’s return, but expected in time for season opener

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The Bills have not provided much information about the illness that has forced tackle Cordy Glenn to miss all of training camp thus far, but whatever’s troubling him does not look like it will keep him out of the lineup into the season.

Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reports via a team source that the Bills expect to have Glenn back in time for the start of the regular season. The source added that the team would be “shocked” if Glenn wasn’t able to play in at least one preseason game, but resisted sharing any information about what’s wrong with the left tackle.

Graham points to the team not adding any help at left tackle as a sign that they feel confident that Glenn will be back in action in time for the season. He also reports that seventh-round pick Seantrel Henderson, whose draft stock was hurt by character questions, has “held down the fort quite well” in Glenn’s absence.

Glenn, a 2012 second-round pick, has started all 29 games he’s played for the Bills in his two-year career.

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Colbert can’t envision scenario where Roethlisberger would leave Pittsburgh

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Probably because franchise quarterbacks without serious injury questions (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees) rarely if ever change teams, few have taken notice of the situation in Pittsburgh, where Ben Roethlisberger is grossly underpaid and the team won’t do anything about it until 2015 at the earliest.

The situation has prompted speculation that the two sides may not be able to work out a new contract next year, which would compel the team to pay more than $22 million to keep him under the franchise tag in 2016 and more than $26 million in 2017.  Which eventually could prompt the Steelers and Roethlisberger to go their separate ways.

G.M. Kevin Colbert doesn’t see that happening.  In fact, he’s gone all in, telling reporters, “I don’t see any circumstances where Ben does not finish his career here,” via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

While it remains probable if not highly likely that Roethlisberger will remain in Pittsburgh, circumstances definitely exist where Ben moves on.  What if he gets injured this year or next year and the Steelers aren’t willing to make a huge financial commitment to keep him, a la the Colts and Manning?  What if Ben won’t accept the team’s best offer on a new deal for 2015, forcing the team to use the franchise tag until the price gets so high that they can’t afford to do it?  While $22 million for 2016 could be stomached, $26 million for 2017 gets a little pricey.  By 2018, when Ben would be the same age Manning was when he left the Colts (36), and the price tag for one more year will shoot to $38.1 million for one season.

Meanwhile, Roethlisberger would have made more than $70 million on a year-to-year arrangement.  If he’s willing to continue to bear the injury risk, why not let it play out that way?

So, yes, there’s a way that dominoes fall that will lead to Roethlisberger walking away.  Given the zeal with which Steelers fans follow the team, both sides need to tread lightly for fear of catching the blame for an eventual divorce.  And, ideally, to ensure that as few Steelers fans as possible realize that a divorce, while still far from likely, could indeed happen.

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Dolphins sign two new linemen, cut Gerald Ford

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The Dolphins offensive line is one big construction zone, so why not shuffle the deck a little more the first few days into camp.

The team announced they had signed veteran Tony Hills and Steven Baker, who apparently are an upgrade over the camp bodies they have.

Hills has kicked around a bit, spending time with the Steelers, Broncos, Colts, Bills and Raiders, playing in 10 games with one start.

To make room for the new blockers, the Dolphins released tackle Michael Phillip and wide receiver Gerald Ford, who was signed in June.

With the bounty scandal in their recent past, there was no way they could avoid the bad publicity that came with pardoning Richard Nixon.

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Emmanuel Sanders: Peyton is a far better leader than Ben

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Emmanuel Sanders arrived in Denver this offseason after four years in Pittsburgh. He immediately noticed a big difference between Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

Sanders said on 104.3 The Fan in Denver that Manning’s leadership and determination to win goes far beyond that of Roethlisberger or any other teammate Sanders has ever had.

“I feel like Peyton is a far better leader, in terms of staying after practice, catching balls, wanting guys to get on the same page with him, things of that sort,” Sanders said. “This is the first time that I’ve had a quarterback that every single day after practice — no matter what his accolades, NFL MVP, Super Bowl ring — he keeps guys like me and [rookie receiver Cody] Latimer after practice. . . . He’s not one of those guys you’ve got to chase down. He’s going to be right in the same spot, ready to work, every single day. I just feel like that’s a difference from a mental standpoint.”

Sanders said he views Roethlisberger as a winner, too, and he enjoyed their time as teammates. But he’s enjoying his time with Manning even more.

“I’ve got so much love for Ben,” Sanders said. “At the same time, I’m not going to lie. I’m happy to be part of this organization and happy that Peyton is my quarterback.”

Those comments will surely be received better in Denver than in Pittsburgh.

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PFT on NBCSN covers lots of ground in first show back

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The riders in that Tour de France thing covered plenty of ground in Europe during the last three weeks, knocking Pro Football Talk on NBCSN off the air in the process.  In our first show back after the annual cycling hiatus, we’ll climb back on the tricycle and pedal like hell for 60 minutes.

With co-host Dave Briggs, Ross Tucker (I didn’t mention him in an earlier post about the show returning, and he undoubtedly noticed and was miffed about it), Kevin Gilbride, and Brian Westbrook in studio and yours truly firing up the remote location in West Virginia, we’ll get you caught up on the biggest news of the day, and we’ll take a close look at the Seahawks and Texans as the best and worst teams from a year ago launch training camp.

Briggs and I also will do the fast-moving daily whiparound, which he’s never done and I haven’t done in 25 days so it’s destined to go flawlessly.  Speaking of things that won’t go without a hitch, the poll question focuses on the future of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who rightfully wants his new franchise-quarterback contract now and who won’t be getting it.

Answer the question then tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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49ers say they’ll try to extend both Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati

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The 49ers appear willing to do business with those who will do business with them.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said the team wanted to try to extend both guard Mike Iupati and wide receiver Michael Crabtree before they become unrestricted free agents next spring.

We’re going to try,” Baalke said. “We’re going to work at it, certainly. But at some point, you got to stop negotiating deals and let these guys concentrate on playing football. I don’t know what point that is. We’ll make that determination as a club.

“But we’re certainly going to work toward that goal. Those are two very good football players, and guys we’d love to have in this organization for the long term.”

They can tag one or the other next offseason if they choose, buying time. Then again, Maiocco points out they’re not particularly close to deals for either Crabtree or Iupati, so at this point it’s just talk.

But talking about extending good players is also a way of extending a finger, perhaps the one in the middle, toward holdout guard Alex Boone.

 

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MRI reveals bone bruise for Kelvin Benjamin

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The Panthers were optimistic that wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin would avoid bad news from the MRI on his left knee that was scheduled after Benjamin banged knees with another player during Sunday’s practice.

Benjamin didn’t get a totally clear bill of health after his trip into the tube, but the diagnosis fell well short of the worst case scenario.

Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that coach Ron Rivera said that the tests showed a bone bruise and that the timetable for his return to the field would be measured in terms of days rather than weeks. Rivera added that there is still some swelling around the knee, but that it is structurally stable.

The news is good for the Panthers offense, which looks like it will be relying heavily on the first-round pick to make plays for Cam Newton this season. Benjamin will need all the practice time he can get in order to make a quick enough transition to the professional ranks for that to happen, so the news will be even better if it is just a couple of days before he’s back in action.

 

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Lions table Suh contract talks until end of season

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Lions coach Jim Caldwell thinks that the team will be able to get a deal done that keeps defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in Detroit, but it won’t happen before the start of the regular season.

It won’t come during the regular season, either. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that Lions president Tom Lewand said on Monday that the team was putting contract talks with Suh on hold until after the end of the regular season.

Lewand and General Manager Martin Mayhew both said they thought a deal could still get done, although the timing has obviously changed and the decision to call off talks for now suggests the two sides weren’t particularly close to reaching an agreement. The window to get an extension done at the end of the season will be short. One deadline they will face is the one governing the use of the franchise tag, something that neither man ruled out despite Suh’s price under the tag standing at a massive $26.9 million for the 2015 season.

That won’t be a factor if Suh doesn’t have a good season or if he gets hurt, but another strong year will make for some tough calls in Detroit come next winter. And those calls could lead Suh to another uniform for the 2015 season.

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Mario Manningham still lacking confidence in knee

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Wide receiver Mario Manningham tore his ACL late in the 2012 season with the 49ers and finished last season on injured reserve because of continued knee troubles that still haven’t resolved themselves.

Manningham returned to the Giants this offseason as a free agent and said Monday that he’s not feeling as confident in the condition of his knee as he’d like to feel. He had the knee scoped in January and is “just trying to get back to where I was” while testing it out during camp.

“I know my knee [is] fixed,” Manningham said, via the New York Daily News. “It’s just confidence. It’s just me sticking the foot in the ground and going. So that’s like I say: every day it gets better and better.”

With Odell Beckham struggling to get past a hamstring injury, the Giants are short on healthy depth behind Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle right now. Should both injury issues linger deeper into the summer, the Giants may need to think about looking at outside options to provide them with a bit more certainty in the receiving corps as they try to form a group that will help Eli Manning complete 70 percent of his passes.

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Ware out with bruised leg bone

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Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware suffered a lower leg injury during practice on Sunday.  He was held out of practice on Monday, with coach John Fox calling it a bruised leg.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Ware actually has a bruised bone in his leg.  The source says that Ware nevertheless should be fine, and that the injury is not serious.

Ware has played through many injuries during his NFL career, which until this season had unfolded entirely with the Cowboys.  If healthy, Ware can make a big difference in the Denver defense.

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Raiders sign safety Jeremy Deering

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The Raiders added an extra safety on Monday, announcing the signing of rookie Jeremy Deering, an undrafted free agent from Rutgers.

Deering (6-1, 209) played 48 games (18 starts) for the Scarlet Knights, playing multiple positions. In 2013, he transitioned to free safety from wide receiver and started 10 games on defense. The 23-year-old Deering also has experience returning kickoffs.

Deering had a brief stint with the Patriots in May before being waived.

Deering is one of six available safeties on the Raiders’ roster. A seventh player at the position, Usama Young, is on the active/physically unable to perform list. Young has a quad injury.

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