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Laurence Maroney faces marijuana charge

L. Maroneymugshot

In January, free agent running back Laurence Maroney was arrested on weapons charges in St. Louis. Now prosecutors say Maroney has a conceal carry permit, and no Missouri gun laws were violated. But that doesn’t mean Maroney is off the hook.

Instead, KMOX reports, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office has charged Maroney and four other men with one count each of possessing under 35 grams of marijuana in connection with the January incident.

The five men were arrested on January 17, after officers smelled marijuana coming from the two cars they were driving around Chaifetz Arena before a concert.

Maroney’s attorney, Scott Rosenblum, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Maroney plans to plead not guilty and that it was “unfortunate he was charged under the circumstances.”

The Patriots’ 2006 first-round draft pick, Maroney played the 2010 season for the Broncos and totaled just 36 carries for 74 yards. The Broncos aren’t expected to bring him back in 2011, and given his combination of poor on-field performance and off-field trouble, it’s hard to see why any other team would want to sign him either.

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Who will Bill Belichick try to take away from Steelers offense?

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers begins to hand the ball off to running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

When it comes to devising a defensive game plan, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a simple approach: Take away what the opposing offense does best. So what will he try to take away from the Steelers on Sunday?

Putting the clamps on running back Le’Veon Bell could open up a passing game that features quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Antonio Brown. Taking away the passing game means Bell could run wild.

One of Belichick’s best game plans came when he served as the defensive coordinator of the Giants in Super Bowl XXV. He persuaded the New York defense to buy in to an approach that invited Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas to run the ball, allowing Thomas to have a big day on the ground but slowing down the quick-strike K-Gun offense. Fifteen years ago, when facing the Greatest Show on Turf in Super Bowl XXXVI, Belichick focused on taking away the passing game, dropping extra players into coverage and daring coach Mike Martz to run the ball. Martz, too stubborn to deviate from what we wanted to do, refused to adjust.

So what will Belichick do against the Steelers and Bell? Sunday night’s 170-yard output from Bell resulted in zero touchdowns for the team, so maybe Belichick should be willing to let Bell get his yards with a bend-don’t-break effort to avoid big plays and easy scores in the passing game.

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Bill Belichick isn’t worried about videos on “Instant Chat”

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Bill Belichick head coach of the New England Patriots looks on in the first half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has some stock responses for questions from the media that have become well-worn parts of his public image at this point in his career.

The advent of social media added a few new ones to Belichick’s repertoire, particularly when it comes to using the wrong names for well-known companies that operate in that space. The video posted by Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown from the team’s locker room on Facebook after Sunday’s win that featured Mike Tomlin telling his team to get their minds on the AFC title game because the a-holes in New England have had an extra day to prepare.

“As you know I’m not on Snap Face and all those,” Belichick said on WEEI on Monday afternoon. “I’m not too worried what they put on Instant Chat.”

Should Belichick watch the video, chances are he isn’t going to be too shocked by anything that goes on given how long he’s been in the game and that nothing’s going to change his mind about being a more active Face Page user.

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Bill O’Brien not ready to declare Brock Osweiler his 2017 starter

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans looks on in the second half against the New England Patriots during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans coach Bill O’Brien benched Brock Osweiler this year, and he only got his job back when the backup got a concussion.

So it makes sense that O’Brien isn’t ready to declare Osweiler his starter for next season.

Via Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com, O’Brien stalled when asked about his quarterback’s status Monday.

“Before I talk about those types of things, I have to evaluate it myself,” O’Brien said. “I’ve got to talk to our coaching staff, get their input, personnel people, get their input. So I wouldn’t be a good head coach if I stood up here and said, this is what I’m planning to do. The game is less than 48 hours ago. We’re going to evaluate everything.”

Osweiler’s entering the second year of that four-year, $72 million contract they gave him out of desperation last year — when they were hoping to avoid being a a 9-7 team with a great defense and no quarterback.

As it turns out, Osweiler was practically Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brian Hoyer, and the result was the same.

But the contract might have been enough to make him the incumbent, except for the fact Tom Savage replaced him late in the season before a concussion knocked him out of the lineup.

And with the last memory a three-interception performance against the Patriots, Osweiler’s going to have a long offseason to prove himself.

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Andy Reid: Loss wasn’t all about Alex Smith

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks of the field after being defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers with a score of 18 to 16 in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The final four teams playing this season are quarterbacked by Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan, a group that was described as three Hall of Famers and the favorite for MVP this year in a question posed to Chiefs coach Andy Reid at a Monday press conference.

Reid was asked about whether Alex Smith measured up to that group when it came to being able to get the Chiefs to the next level of success.

“Do I still think you can win with Alex? We were right there to do that,” Reid said, via the Kansas City Star. “He made a phenomenal throw on the two-point play to put us in a position to take care of business. This wasn’t all about Alex, that’s not what this was. That’s not what this came down to.”

One question for any team that might contemplate a quarterback change is whether they can find someone better than what’s already on hand and it’s an especially important one for a team like the Chiefs that have so many other pieces in place at the moment.

Upgrading on Smith from freely available talent won’t be easy and the Chiefs know what to expect from Smith. There’s a low ceiling for offensive fireworks, but there are also limited mistakes and the combination has worked well enough for them to go to the playoffs three times over the last four years. For those reasons and the near $10 million in dead money the Chiefs would have if they cut Smith, thinking about who might be next in line at quarterback seems likelier than a change in the starting lineup in 2017.

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Divisional-round ratings down three percent

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws a pass during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Even with one of the four divisional-round games moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to prime-time, the ratings for the quartet of contests fell behind last year’s numbers.

Sure, it was only a three-percent reduction. But it was a reduction nonetheless.

Via SportsBusiness Daily, the spike from Packers-Cowboys was offset by drops arising from the Steelers-Chiefs, Seahawks-Falcons, and Texans-Patriots. The Saturday night game between Houston and New England was down 10 percent over last year’s Saturday night classic between the Packers and Cardinals.

The next ratings test comes Sunday, when the Packers and the Falcons and the Steelers and the Patriots square off in the conference finals. Last year, the Patriots-Broncos averaged 53.3 million viewers, and Cardinals-Panthers had an average viewership of 45.7 million.

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NFL declines comment on Seahawks’ failure to disclose Richard Sherman injury

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:  Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks stands on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Amazingly, the Seahawks blatantly violated the rules of the NFL’s injury reports by concealing a knee injury to cornerback Richard Sherman. Even more amazingly, coach Pete Carroll freely admitted to it.

Not surprisingly, the NFL is saying nothing about it. Reached by PFT for comment on the situation, the NFL had none.

Actually, that’s a little surprising. In past situations like this, the league has at times acknowledged that it is reviewing the matter. In this case, the league hasn’t even gone that far. (The league took a similar approach when Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele was a surprise scratch on a Thursday night due to an illness that was not previously disclosed by the team.)

One league source expressed outrage over the Sherman situation, pointing out that deliberate failure to comply with injury-reporting rules compromises the integrity of the game in a significant way.

“They flat-out lied week after week to the league and the public,” the source said. “How is that different from any of the Patriots’ ‘-gates’?”

As the NFL prepares to authorize the relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas, full compliance with the injury-reporting rules becomes paramount to the integrity of and public confidence in professional football. Transparency regarding potential violations becomes even more important, since the public needs to know when teams have been caught cheating when it comes to the injury reports.

Unless, of course, cheating on the injury reports is so widespread that the league doesn’t want the public (or the public servants who work in Congress) to realize that the violations are sufficiently rampant to amount to inherent corruption.

It’s frankly impossible to know whether and to what extent violations have occurred if the NFL’s position is going to be to say “no comment” and move on, hopeful that everyone else will move on, too.

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Raiders promote Trey Scott

NAPA, CA - AUGUST 05:  A detail of a helmet during the Oakland Raiders Training Camp at the Napa Valley Marriott on August 5, 2009 in Napa, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders, who apparently won’t be having to replace director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales this year, may already have an in-house substitute in mind, if/when someone else makes Clinkscales a General Manager.

The team has promoted midwest scout Trey Scott to the position of Assistant Director of Player Personnel. Scott, 28, has spent five prior seasons with the team. Before that, he worked for Washington.

Scott arrived in Oakland with Clinkscales and others in May 2012. Both are names to watch, especially if this year’s playoff berth from the Raiders is a sign of things to come.

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Jason Tarver to interview for Washington DC job

San Francisco 49ers v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

Washington continues to add to its search for a defensive coordinator, with a fourth name joining the list.

According to Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post, former 49ers linebackers coach Jason Tarver is scheduled to interview.

Former Bills coordinator Rob Ryan met with them today, and they’ve also interviewed former Browns head coach Mike Pettine and former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley.

Tarver was defensive coordinator in Oakland from 2012-14, and previously worked for the 49ers as a position coach.

Washington had received permission to talk to Panthers secondary coach Steve Wilks, but he got the same promotion in Carolina after Sean McDermott got the Bills head coaching job.

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Richard Sherman had knee injury, Seahawks didn’t report it

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks talks with cornerback Richard Sherman #25 prior to the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

For much of the 2016 season and into this year’s playoffs, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman would get days off practice that the Seahawks would claim on their official injury report were “not injury related.”

Now the Seahawks are admitting that an injury did affect Sherman for much of the season.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said today on 710 ESPN in Seattle that Sherman suffered an MCL injury during the season. Carroll said the injury was affecting Sherman both physically and mentally.

That raises an obvious question: Why did the Seahawks’ injury report repeatedly list Sherman’s days off as “not injury related” when an injury was affecting him physically and mentally? The whole point of the injury report is that the NFL wants teams to be transparent about which players are ailing and which players are healthy. The Seahawks were less than transparent.

Carroll surely believes the Seahawks’ decision not to list Sherman on the injury report was true to the letter of the law, or else he wouldn’t have mentioned it today. And he might be right: Not every bump and bruise has to be listed on the injury report, and if the Seahawks were certain Sherman was going to be able to play through the injury, they may be in the clear as far as the league office is concerned.

Still, it’s odd that Carroll is talking about injuries affecting Sherman now, when the official word from the Seahawks all season was “not injury related.”

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Chip Kelly talking to Jaguars again, and they have a head coach

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 06:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines during their NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on October 6, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tom Coughlin interviewed for the Jaguars head coaching job, didn’t get it, and still ended up employed there.

And Chip Kelly might be following the same path.

After interviewing for the head coaching job that went to Doug Marrone, the former Eagles and 49ers head coach was back at EverBank Field today talking to Jaguars officials, according to Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union.

Kelly as coordinator would be a fascinating idea, and could give Blake Bortles a better chance to succeed. They haven’t officially parted ways with coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, but if Kelly’s hanging around, there are only so many other jobs for him there.

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Report: DeShawn Shead suffered torn ACL

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 07:  Defensive back DeShawn Shead #35 of the Seattle Seahawks breaks up a pass intended for Wide receiver Anquan Boldin #80 of the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card game at CenturyLink Field on January 7, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks safety Deshawn Shead suffered a torn ACL in last weekend’s playoff loss at Atlanta, NFL Network reported.

The report said Shead will have surgery to repair the tear. The Seahawks feared after the game that Shead had torn his ACL but no official diagnosis was made until the team returned to Seattle.

Shead will become a restricted free agent in March.

Shead started all 15 games he played in 2016. He had one interception and a career-best 14 pass breakups.

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Titans add two to coaching staff

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 26: Ryquell Armstead #25 of the Temple Owls celebrates with wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the East Carolina Pirates at Lincoln Financial Field on November 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans have hired ex-NFL player Frisman Jackson as their new wide receivers coach and Craig Auckerman as assistant special teams coach.

This is Jackson’s first NFL coaching job. Jackson spent the last two years as wide receivers coach at Temple and previously coached at North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois and Akron. He added the title of passing game coordinator at Temple last season.

Jackson played under Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie with the Browns in the early 2000s.

Auckerman was special teams coordinator with the Chargers last season after serving as assistant special teams coach the previous three seasons with the Chargers. Auckerman has 10 years of NFL coaching experience.

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Julio Jones may be limited, but will be “ready to rock”

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:   Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

It may not be “no concern,” but the Falcons are apparently confident wide receiver Julio Jones is OK.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters that Jones might be limited in practice this week, but would be “ready to rock,” in time to play Sunday against the Packers.

Jones aggravated the foot/toe injury he’s been dragging around the last few weeks, and may not be 100 percent.

But it’s also clear there’s nothing so significant it will keep him off the field against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

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New Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams hires his son

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: A Cleveland Browns helmet rests on the field prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns are hiring Blake Williams as their new linebackers coach and Jerod Kruse as assistant defensive backs coach, per multiple reports.

Williams is the son of Gregg Williams, who was hired as the Browns’ defensive coordinator earlier this month. The Browns have made staff changes on both sides of the ball since the end of last season.

Blake Williams worked under his father with both the Saints and Rams. He’s spent the last four seasons coaching in the college ranks, the last two at Southeastern Louisiana.

Kruse will work under DeWayne Walker, who was hired as the secondary coach last week. Kruse also coached at Southeastern Louisiana.

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49ers continuing G.M. interviews with Seattle’s Trent Kirchner

UFC Fighters meet San Francisco 49ers Players Getty Images

The 49ers might be honing in on a head coaching choice (or just picking whoever’s left), but their search for a General Manager is continuing.

Via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the 49ers are interviewing Seahawks personnel man Trent Kirchner today.

They’re presumably clear to also talk to Seattle’s Scott Fitterer today, as he was among the previously reported candidates and the Seahawks’ schedule is clear after this weekend’s loss to the Falcons.

The 49ers have cast a wide net for G.M. candidates, and initially suggested they wanted to fill that position before they hired a head coach. And if the Falcons beat the Packers this week, they’d technically have another two weeks to accomplish that goal, since presumed choice Kyle Shanahan would be held up the way Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was.

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