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Veteran scout: Cam Newton “looks terrible” during Combine workout

AP

Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton impressed NFL observers by running the 40-yard dash in fewer than 4.6 seconds at the Scouting Combine.

At least one veteran scout was far less impressed by his workout.

The scout, who works for a team that has no short-term or long-term need at the quarterback position, said that Newton “looks terrible.”

Opinions may very well vary.  The reality, however, is that teams that love a player will be inclined to say bad things about him, both to throw other teams off the scent and in the hopes that the player will be available when the team uses its first draft pick.  Teams that hate a player will be inclined to say they love a player, in the hopes that someone else will burn a pick on the guy, pushing truly coveted players farther done the board.

In this case, our source would be far more inclined to rave about Newton, ensuring that he’ll be taken with an early pick.

The assessment comes in stark contrast to Newton’s media-only workout from earlier in the month.  Of course, if a guy looks good in T-shirts and shorts and without coverages to read to 300-pound linemen to avoid, it really doesn’t mean anything.  If the player doesn’t look good in that controlled environment, it’s a potential problem.

It remains to be seen how many other scouts agree that Newton didn’t look good — and whether they’ll be candid about it.

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Tim Tebow gets a promotion from the Mets

AP

Tim Tebow’s baseball career has taken another step.

According to Teddy Kulmala of The State newspaper, the former NFL quarterback has been promoted a level in the Mets organization.

Tebow has been playing in low-A Columbia, S.C., and is being bumped up to the Class A-Advanced St. Lucie Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. after Sunday’s game.

“Tim brought an incredible amount of experience and leadership to our clubhouse,” Fireflies president John Katz said. “His contributions, both on the field and in our community, have made a tremendous impact on our team, the City of Columbia and the entire South Atlantic League. We wish Tim the best as he continues his journey to Citi Field.”

While progress is progress, Tebow isn’t exactly killing the ball. He’s hitting .222 with three home runs in 63 games, with 23 RBI.

Then again, it’s the Mets.

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Cam Newton: A Super Bowl ring is the one thing missing from my life

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Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is motivated by just one thing.

A Super Bowl ring, Newton told high school players at a 7-on-7 tournament he hosted, is what drives him, and the only thing he’s seeking in life.

“I’m looking at my life right now and I’m saying, ‘I’m missing one thing: I want a Super Bowl,’” Newton said, via the Charlotte Observer. “Yeah, but it’s really certain things that you have to really fine-tune and say, ‘Am I deserving to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback? How can I push myself to be a better me?’”

Newton told the young players that when he was their age, he decided success at the highest level was his only option.

“The only way I put myself in this situation to be successful was I didn’t have no plan B,” Newton said. “I told myself, at the end of the day, I’m gonna be a football player and a football player only. And a lot of guys get it misconstrued because you’re setting yourself up for failure; that’s what some people think. But in myself I was thinking, ‘I ain’t got no other alternative. Either I’m gonna dominate this man in front of me or not.’”

Newton has done plenty in football since he told himself he had no plan B: He won a Heisman Trophy and a national championship in college, and he has an MVP award in the NFL. Now he just needs that ring.

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A year later, no clarity on Peyton Manning’s next move

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The annual Manning Passing Academy has generated plenty of sound bites and speculation regarding the status of retired quarterback Peyton Manning. It started with family patriarch Archie spilling the beans about text messages exchanged by Peyton and Dolphins coach Adam Gase last December, after Ryan Tannehill injured his knee. And it has continued with the perpetual question of what Peyton will do now that he’s done playing.

“It’s definitely important for me to stay close to the game and connected to it in different ways,” Peyton Manning said, via Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “If I took a job [in the NFL] I’m sure you’d probably hear about it. I doubt it would be kept quiet.”

But for his recent hiring as as strategic advisor to Riddell (which wasn’t kept quiet because the company issued a press release), quiet continues to be the key word with Peyton, as he spends time with family, pitches an occasional product, and otherwise enjoys life after having so much of his existence consumed by football. The fact that Peyton was fully and completely consumed by the game has caused some who know him to wonder whether he’ll ever return to the full-time grind, given his propensity to take over anything and everything about a football team — and the physical and mental burden that goes along with it.

Consider this observation from former Colts punter Pat McAfee during his visit last week to PFT Live:  “[I]f [Peyton] wanted practice to restart, if he didn’t like something that was going [on], practice would restart. If he wanted a guy to make the team, that guy made the team. He kicked [receiver] Austin Collie off the field in the middle of a game before because Austin attempted to catch [the ball] with one hand. . . .

“Peyton ran the show in Indianapolis. Everything about it. He wanted a curfew at the Super Bowl, [G.M.] Bill Polian didn’t. There was a curfew. Peyton Manning just ran everything, that’s just how it went.”

And that’s likely how it would go if Peyton Manning became a G.M. or an executive with a team. It’s his nature, and it’s one of the reasons he’ll succeed at whatever he chooses to do.

The prevailing view is that he’ll wait for a chance to join an ownership group, likely as the Bon-Jovi-in-Buffalo-style front man and not as the person who owns a controlling interest in the team. That said, the money interests that put him that position need to know he’ll essentially be controlling the team.

Fear of failure could be a factor in his decision-making process, which could cause him to be even more careful about picking the right spot to return. Or maybe he’ll be happy remaining close enough to the game to have influence and generate real revenue without sticking his hand back into the flame.

Regardless, he’s earned the right to take his time and to pick his future role(s), whatever they may be. Whatever they end up being, the game will likely be better off for it.

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Louis Riddick: I haven’t heard from Chiefs about G.M. opening

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Sunday morning brought a report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media that the Chiefs have reached out to ESPN analyst Louis Riddick about setting up an interview for the General Manager vacancy they created by dismissing John Dorsey last week.

That report has been disputed by someone very close to the situation. That would be Riddick himself, who took to social media on Sunday to say that word of the Chiefs’ interest has not been conveyed to him.

That doesn’t mean that the Chiefs won’t reach out to Riddick at some point, but, for now, it seems that all is quiet on that front as the Chiefs look for Dorsey’s replacement.

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Steelers expect “great deal of improvement” from tight ends

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Before the 2016 season, the Steelers signed Ladarius Green as a free agent in hopes of keeping the tight end position as a key one in the wake of Heath Miller’s retirement.

Green missed a lot of time after offseason ankle surgery, however, and ended the year in the concussion protocol, leaving the Steelers without much to show for their rare dip into the veteran free agent pool. They released Green this offseason and are moving on with Jesse James and Xavier Grimble in line for significant playing time.

James, a 2015 fifth-round pick, has 47 catches through two seasons and Grimble, who was undrafted out of USC in 2015, had 11 catches in his first regular season action last year. James said the duo is “ready to step up and make the plays we’re asked to make” and offensive coordinator Todd Haley shares that expectation.

“Jesse will be a year better with lot of playing time last year. Xavier, same thing,” Haley said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s a guy who wasn’t even sure he was going to make the team going into last year, made it and then contributed for us. They are young guys. Until you see them through that full third year, I think it should be expected there will be a great deal of improvement.”

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took issue with a report that he wanted the team to add a tight end this offseason. If James and Grimble fulfill Haley’s expectations, there probably won’t be a need to do the same in 2018.

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Report: Chiefs want to interview Louis Riddick for G.M. opening

The Chiefs made waves last week with the surprising announcement that they had dismissed General Manager John Dorsey after four years with the team.

The team’s co-directors of player personnel Mike Borgonzi and Brett Veach are expected to be candidates for a promotion, but the team will be looking outside the organization as well. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Chiefs want ESPN analyst Louis Riddick to interview for the job.

Riddick was a defensive back for several teams in the 1990s and worked in the personnel departments in Washington and Philadelphia before making the move to TV. Riddick interviewed for the 49ers General Manager vacancy earlier this year before they hired John Lynch.

Riddick said he was close to getting that job and, true or not, it looks like he’s getting another chance to make his case for running an NFL personnel department.

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Sunday morning one-liners

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Five questions for the Bills to ponder heading into training camp.

Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi did well after contact last season.

Patriots C James Ferentz’s father was on Bill Belichick’s coaching staff in Cleveland.

Jets season ticket holders shared their thoughts on the team’s direction.

A look at the highlights of RB Danny Woodhead’s first offseason with the Ravens.

Sizing up the Bengals after the completion of their offseason work.

Should fans be optimistic about the Browns?

Getting to know Steelers WR Cobi Hamilton.

Breaking down the Texans quarterbacks.

Which undrafted free agents can make the Colts?

Who would the Jaguars protect in an expansion draft?

The Titans joined USA Football in issuing grants to 33 youth football programs.

Said Broncos CB Bradley Roby, “My time is coming. I’m not really worried about that. I just want them to know that I’m a baller and when I get on that field I’m going to ball.”

Examining the appeal of the Chiefs’ General Manager job.

Raiders G Kelechi Osemele celebrated a birthday.

Chargers TE Antonio Gates threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game after his wife sang the national anthem.

A couple of things Mark Cuban hopes to bring to the Mavericks as a result of how Cowboys owner Jerry Jones runs his team.

Giants secondary coach Tim Walton has seen growth in CB Janoris Jenkins since the two men were with the Rams.

Who are the biggest bargains on the Eagles?

Projecting how things will go for the Redskins running backs this year.

RB Jordan Howard looks like the most impressive offensive player on the Bears.

Lions S Miles Killebrew feels like he knows more about the team’s defense heading into his second season.

Packers QB Brett Hundley tried his hand at throwing passes into a moving car.

Vikings WR Rodney Adams dedicated himself to football after the death of his mother.

Alex Gray is trying to make the jump from rugby to the Falcons.

Daryl Williams plans on starting at right tackle for the Panthers.

Saints WR Willie Snead’s brother was a counselor at this year’s Manning Passing Academy.

Taking a trip to see where Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard grew up.

Cornerback remains an area of concern for the Cardinals.

The Rams have 84 players on their 90-man roster at the moment.

Former 49ers DL Michael Carter still coaches his daughter Michelle, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, in the shot put.

Is kicker the biggest roster concern for the Seahawks?

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Paxton Lynch may be making his move

AP

As Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch brace for a training camp/preseason battle for the starting job in Denver, Lynch apparently received a boost as the team commenced its final break of the offseason.

Via Mike Klis of 9news.com, “something happened” with Lynch in the final two weeks of the offseason program.

“His switch was flipped,” Klis writes. “He started to get it. He started to play as if he was doing just that — playing. Playing and not thinking about his protections and hot reads and coverages and delivering the ball on time.”

Lynch didn’t disagree with that perception.

“I mean the more reps I’m getting with these guys, the more I get to go against the defense and see the looks live compared to just on paper, it’s helping me a lot,’’ Lynch told Klis. “I think each practice I’ve progressively got better.”

Siemian still has the lead, per Klis, but a contest that seemed to be headed for a blowout may now be going the other way. And that’s bad news for the third-year seventh-round pick, given that as practical matter he’ll need to win big in order to win the job. All ties and anything close to that likely will go to the second-year first-rounder, whom the Broncos undoubtedly hope to give opportunities to reach the ceiling they surely believe he has.

Otherwise, they wouldn’t have traded up to get him 14 months ago.

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Remember Carr’s crack at the Seahawks

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The fine fellow who runs the @OldTakesExposed account on Twitter has received a gift that may keep on giving. (Unrelated to the dumb sh-t I say on a regular basis.)

With Raiders quarterback Derek Carr commemorating his new contract by throwing shade at the Seahawks for the decision to throw and not run from the one in Super Bowl XLIX, the Oakland offense will now be scrutinized whenever it progresses toward the end zone.

“[T]here’s no pressure, there’s no, ‘We’ll be on the one-yard line and I won’t give it to Marshawn, I’ll throw it.’ None of that stuff,” Carr said.

Based on Carr’s comment, there will be no reason for the opposing defense to anticipate a throw from the one. Which means there will be no reason to instruct any of the defenders to cover the pass. Which means 11 players can load up to pursue and to pound Marshawn Lynch.

That would be unwise, of course, because if defenses consistently take Carr’s comments literally, the Raiders eventually will embrace the possibility of making Carr look like a liar by throwing, not running.

The more likely reality is that Carr’s comment will have no impact on the plays called by the Raiders when the ball is on the one and Beast Mode is in the backfield. The run-pass option must always be present, if for no reason than to ensure that the defense is kept guessing for as long as possible regarding what will happen after the snap. The more the defense knows about the play before it begins, the easier it will be to stop it.

Regardless, any time the Raiders throw from the one or close to it with Marshawn in the mix, someone will be dusting off Carr’s comments. Especially if the decision to score by the air doesn’t result in a touchdown.

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Gettleman “frustrate[d]” by media reaction to Kelvin Benjamin’s weight

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One of the headlines from Charlotte in the early days of the offseason program related to the size of the body of Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Now that Benjamin apparently is in shape, Panthers G.M. Dave Gettleman has a few things to say about the reaction to Benjamin’s bloat.

“This is what frustrates me with the media today,” Gettleman said recently, via Bill Voth of the website the Panthers own and operate. “They go to DEFCON 5 on everything. . . . Kelvin Benjamin being overweight was not a big deal. It was April 17. Can we all get a grip?”

For starters, the media doesn’t go to “DEFCON 5 on everything.” The media showcases the stories that the audience is expected to be interested in, at every given phase of the calendar. The media companies that do that the best way thrive; those that fail to write and talk about things of interest to the audience fail.

During the offseason, after players have had a fairly extended chance to eat as much and work out as little as they want, guys who show up out of shape naturally land on the radar screen. In this specific case, the media didn’t come to the conclusion about Benjamin being all about the beignets on its own. The head coach flagged the issue while talking to the media.

“He is a little heavy,” Ron Rivera said in late April. “He knows it. We’ve talked about it. We talked about what he has to do, and he’s done a great job. Am I concerned? Yes, because he is heavy. I’m going to admit that right now. But is he working hard? Absolutely. He’s been there every day and done the things we’ve asked him to do, and it’s all strictly on a voluntary basis.”

Voth curiously (or maybe not curiously, given that the Panthers employ him) failed to mention Rivera’s words. Instead, Voth pointed to media reaction to a May 23 video of Benjamin moving sluggishly and a May 24 picture of a jersey fitting Benjamin snuggishly. (That’s not a word. Yet.) That’s the irony of Gettleman’s comments and the hypocrisy of the article that came directly from the Panthers. The head coach told the media Benjamin had gotten fat; what did Gettleman and the Panthers expect?

Some would say he and they expected exactly what happened: Benjamin had a fire ignited under his enlarged ass, and he got it and the rest of his body into shape. Gettleman essentially conceded that when asked how Benjamin reacted to his mass becoming a meme.

“You tell me,” Gettleman said. “How do you think he responded?”

So, in other words, mission accomplished. Now, apparently, the Panthers are covering their own rear ends by washing their hands of any responsibility for the criticism of Benjamin by blaming it all on the media.

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Ex-Giant Matt Mitrione knocks out MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko

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Matt Mitrione got his start as a professional athlete in the NFL, but he’s had a lot more success in MMA.

Mitrione, who played nine games as a defensive end for the Giants in 2002, earned the biggest win of his pro MMA career on Saturday night when he headlined a Bellator MMA card at Madison Square Garden and knocked out Fedor Emelianenko.

The fight lasted just over a minute and saw Mitrione and Emelianenko knock each other down with simultaneous punches, followed by Mitrione landing several punches on the ground and knocking Emelianenko unconscious. The 40-year-old Emelianenko was once the best fighter in MMA, but he’s now well past his prime.

Mitrione said before the fight that several of his Giants teammates had reached out and said they’d be watching.

“That means a lot to me. It’s a lot of pride. I carry the Big Blue with me all the time,” Mitrione told the New York Post.

The 38-year-old Mitrione has had the most successful career of several former NFL players who have tried MMA. Herschel Walker’s foray into MMA is better known to the general public, but Walker built his 2-0 career MMA record against a couple of hand-picked opponents who were no match for him. Mitrione has built his 12-5 pro record against legitimate opponents.

For big, strong guys who find that they’re not quite good enough to make it in the NFL, MMA gives them a second chance at a career as a professional athlete. Mitrione is making the most of his.

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Koa Misi waiting to be cleared after neck surgery

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Linebacker Koa Misi took a pay cut to stay with the Dolphins this offseason, but he never made it on the field for the team.

The expectation in March was that Misi would be cleared to return from neck surgery before the end of the team’s offseason program. That did not happen, however, and it remains uncertain if Misi will get the green light from doctors before training camp gets underway next month.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that Misi saw a doctor in the last couple of weeks and that he has another appointment set for July.

“I don’t know,” head coach Adam Gase said this month. “We’re not there yet. When you see him start running around or something, then I’d say we’re close.”

The Dolphins drafted Raekwon McMillan in the second round and he could be an option to start alongside Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons in the event Misi doesn’t get cleared. Neville Hewitt and Mike Hull are also on hand at linebacker in Miami.

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Bakhtiari bemoans Green Bay’s constant close calls

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On one hand, the Packers should be happy that they contend every year. On the other hand, they should be upset that they keep knocking on the door but can’t kick it in.

Put left tackle David Bakhtiari in the second category.

It’s starting to piss me off a little bit,” Bakhtiari recently said, via Pete Dougherty of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You’re not guaranteed another year. Keep getting close and not making it is stressful. We’ve got to collectively — we’ve got to do more. . . . The Green Bay Packers — I mean, the trophy is the Lombardi Trophy. We have to get back there and win it.”

The Packers last did in 2010. Since then, armed with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, the Packers chronically have come up short. In some years, in-season sputters keep them from securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. In other years, they earn home games in January, and lose there.

Many will point to the Packers as the team to beat once again in the NFC. And, if recent history holds, someone eventually will beat them before they get a chance to win the trophy named after their legendary coach for a fifth time.

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Vikings support Michael Floyd’s kombucha tea defense

When it comes to his effort to avoid jail for violating the terms of his house arrest, Vikings receiver Michael Floyd has an ally: His employer.

According to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Vikings C.O.O. Kevin Warren sent a letter to the presiding judge supporting Floyd’s claim that he didn’t know kombucha tea contains alcohol.

“I am writing to request Mr. Floyd not have his court mandated requirements negatively impacted since he did not know the kombucha he ingested contained alcohol,” Warren wrote in the letter dated June 21.

In a sworn affidavit, Floyd said the team encourages players to drink the tea for health reasons, and that it is “on tap” at the team’s training facility. (That may not be the best choice of words.) Floyd also hired a forensic pathologist to explain that, because Floyd purchased a case of kombucha tea without refrigerating it, additional fermentation occurred, elevating its alcohol content.

Perhaps most importantly for Floyd’s case, the forensic pathologist concluded that, based on Floyd’s explanation regarding the amount of kombucha tea he ingested before failing multiple home alcohol tests, the time frame during which he drank it, and the blood-alcohol concentration that was measured, the numbers are “achievable and consistent” from consuming kombucha tea “to a reasonable degree of medical and scientific certainty.”

The question now becomes whether prosecutors have hired an expert of their own to dispute the conclusions from Floyd’s expert, or whether prosecutors will simply say, “It doesn’t matter. He was prohibited from consuming alcohol.” Ultimately, the question will be whether the judge is motivated by any of this to give Floyd a pass or to say, “It doesn’t matter. He was prohibited from consuming alcohol.”

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Colts may hit more in camp, despite being “scared to death” of injuries

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After seeing his team miss too many tackles last season, Colts coach Chuck Pagano says he may work more on tackling in camp.

Pagano said he’s still as concerned as ever about keeping players healthy for the regular season, but he also thinks there’s limited time to work on tackling, and training camp is the right time for it.

“You’re always scared to death, but at the same time if you don’t tackle, it’s hard to get good at tackling,” Pagano said, via ESPN. “We do, obviously, a lot of what we call ‘thud.’ It’s first contact, it’s wrap up, and you try to stay off the ground as much as you can and take care of each other. But we’ll continue to have discussions regarding that, and there may be some periods come training camp that we decide we want to go live here.”

New Colts G.M. Chris Ballard says going live is a must.

“This will be a physical camp for us,” Ballard told the team’s website. “We’ve got a young football team and you need to spar. I think we will have a physical camp and I think you need to. It helps get your body ready. I think a lot of the problems we have is that we don’t hit enough. You’re always worried about injuries, but this is football and it’s a physical game. It’s much like boxing. You need to spar.”

The Colts will be sparring more in training camp this year, while trying to avoid anyone getting knocked out.

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