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Hakeem Nicks on getting blown up: “I wasn’t happy, but it’s football”

Hakeem Nicks AP

Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks got blown up by Saints rookie defensive back Isa Abdul-Quddus on Monday night, and the officials threw a flag. But Nicks shook off the hit, got back in the game and said afterward that he didn’t it was that big a deal.

I was defenseless,” Nicks told Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger. “It’s football, he took advantage of it. He did what he’s supposed to do, I guess. I wasn’t happy, but it’s football. He got a good shot.”

It sounds like what Nicks is saying is what we heard a lot of people saying on Monday night: According to NFL rules, which place a high priority on protecting defenseless players, the hit was a penalty. But it’s also hard to ask a defensive back not to lay a hard hit when he’s trying to break up a pass to a receiver going over the middle.

Abdul-Quddus didn’t look like he was trying to injure Nicks, but he did break the rules. And he’ll surely be fined for it.

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Giants try out guy who camped at Falcons facility after he was cut

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Donte Rumph isn’t giving up on his dream, even if it means being thrown out of an NFL facility.

The former Kentucky defensive tackle, who is getting a tryout with the Giants this weekend, has taken an unusual path as he pursues his football career.

Rumph earned a moment of notice last year when he was in camp with the Falcons, as an undrafted rookie from Kentucky who took plenty of abuse. He was called “Cupcake” by assistant coach Bryan Cox while he was lying on the ground injured, which HBO’s Hard Knocks couldn’t wait to share.

But after the Falcons cut him, Rumph did something unusual. He refused to leave.

He set up a shelter which he calls the “Tent of Faith” and moved it across the street to a park after Falcons had security toss him out.

“The ‘Tent of Faith’ is supposed to illustrate strength and courage and being positive regardless of what anybody tells you,” Rumph told Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “So I don’t care what anybody tells me. I’m going to fulfill my dream and I’m going to try my hardest to fulfill my dream.

“And I’m not giving up.”

While it’s a charming story, there are some troubling turns. Rumph said he went through a “dark depression,” which he’s pushing through as he tries out for NFL teams. He said at one point his agent stopped returning his texts and calls, which hurt for a kid who was abandoned by his mother and raised by his grandmother.

“I was like ‘Wow. Why me? Why am I not good enough for anyone?’ ” Rumph said. “It just caused me to doubt myself, put myself down. It was just like a downward spiral. I fell into a depression stage where I just kind of lost contact with the world and just kind of lost myself.”

He credits his fiancee with helping him find himself and getting back on track. He worked out for the Jets before the draft but wasn’t offered a contract, and also had an offer to try out for the Raiders.

You kind of hope he finds a job, although finding some stability in life would also be good as well

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Old Dominion QB Taylor Heinicke among Vikings rookie free agent signings

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The Vikings know that Teddy Bridgewater is their starting quarterback and they signed veteran Shaun Hill as a free agent to back him up, which leaves them with only the third spot on the depth chart to contemplate in the coming months.

Journeyman Mike Kafka is on the roster, but the Vikings added some competition for him on Tuesday when they made Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke one of their undrafted free agent signings. Heinicke passed for 14,959 yards and 132 touchdowns during his college career and will be trying to show that the skills that created those numbers translate to the NFL.

“I can say I’m an NFL quarterback,” Heinicke said, via the Virginian-Pilot. “Now I have to go out and prove it.”

The Vikings also signed former Notre Dame wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, who is the son of longtime NFL defensive lineman Phillip Daniels. He had 49 catches and seven touchdowns in 2013, but didn’t play last season because of academic difficulties.

The Vikings also signed Virginia safety Anthony Harris, BYU wide receiver Jordan Leslie, Tennessee cornerback Justin Coleman, Iowa State center Tom Farniok, Pittsburg State wide receiver Gavin Lutman, Boise State fullback Blake Renaud, Saginaw Valley State guard Jesse Somsel and Boston College guard Bobby Vardaro.

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Bucs put Donovan Smith at left tackle, move Demar Dotson back to right side

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After free agent acquisition Anthony Collins flopped last season, the Buccaneers moved Demar Dotson from right tackle to left tackle for the final weeks of the season.

Dotson spent the offseason preparing to play left tackle again in 2015, but that work may have been made moot in the second round of the draft last Friday. The Bucs added Penn State product Donovan Smith with the 34th pick in the draft and Dotson said that the team let him know that Smith’s arrival meant he’ll be moving back to his old spot on the line.

Right tackle isn’t quite as high profile an assignment, but Dotson said he’s comfortable at the position and comfortable with moves that make the line a better unit than the Bucs had in 2014.

“When I left, there were indications that I was going to come back and start off on the left, so I did train myself, prepare myself to come back and play left,” Dotson said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “Shortly after we got back, they said it depends on who we draft. Then after we drafted the kid from, I’m not sure where he’s from, but the kid, Donovan kid, they said they were going to put me back to right and perhaps put that kid on the left. … I was told that’s going to be a big thing to build through the draft, to get some young guys in there that can come in and compete and make this offensive line better. We struggled in so many ways last year. It’s going to be good competition, with guys coming back that are hungry and young guys coming in that I hope are hungry.”

Smith started 31 games at left tackle while in Happy Valley, so it’s not much of a surprise that the Bucs would see if he can handle the spot before turning back to Dotson.

Smith was joined by guard Ali Marpet later in the second round and both could be starters up front when the Bucs kick off the season in September. With Jameis Winston also a good bet to be with the first team, it’s clear that building through the draft is the offensive plan across the board this season.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

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Trading away their first-round pick pretty much ensured that the Bills wouldn’t have a great draft.

The Dolphins cutting CB Lowell Rose now rather than in August may have been a good deal for him because he was unlikely to make their roster.

Alfonzo Dennard peaked as a rookie and was finally cut loose by the Patriots this week.

A strong draft didn’t do a lot to make Vegas impressed with the Jets.

Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome always earns high marks for his drafting.

Don’t expect the Bengals to get much out of their rookie class this year.

Browns rookie Cameron Erving went from a good player to a great player in high school when he began to embrace early-morning workouts.

Steelers rookie Doran Grant is known for his intelligence.

Most draft graders think the Texans had a mediocre draft class.

Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson has been taking some criticism lately.

Ex-Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew is being sued by a security guard who says he was injured in a melee that Jones-Drew was involved in.

If nothing else, Marcus Mariota is giving the Titans plenty of buzz.

Former Broncos offensive lineman Mark Schlereth says the protection for Peyton Manning will be far better this year.

The Chiefs asked the NFL to schedule their home games around some big events in Kansas City.

John Madden on former Raiders FB Marv Hubbard, who died Monday: “Marv Hubbard was one of the toughest players we ever had. There are people that will have contact and people that won’t have contact but only a few that will have it and really enjoy it. Marv was one of those guys who truly enjoyed the collision. He would look for it.”

Here’s the latest on the Chargers’ possible move north to Carson, California.

Could the Cowboys keep five running backs on their 53-player roster?

The Giants are bringing in a guy who was the subject of some unflattering attention on Hard Knocks last year.

New Eagles WR Nelson Agholor says he’ll work like a guy who has to fight just to make the roster: “I think I understand the way life works. I don’t feel like I’m entitled to anything. . . . Work like a peasant. That’s the mind-set.”

Robert Griffin III got a mixed reception when he showed up to a Washington Nationals game.

Bears undrafted rookie QB Shane Carden is used to proving people wrong.

The Lions are giving a tryout to a car salesman from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Packers TE Kennard Backman is described as athletic and nasty.

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson is going through workouts from hell to get better this offseason.

The Falcons and Panthers are co-favorites to win the NFC South.

And the Saints are right behind the Falcons and Panthers.

The Bucs expect fourth-round LB Kwon Alexander to make an immediate impact.

The Cardinals think they drafted some blue-collar players. (Does anyone ever draft white-collar players?)

Rams coach Jeff Fisher says his offensive line is fine, which one St. Louis columnist calls “utter nonsense.”

Trent Baalke says the 49ers will always take a “best player available” approach to the draft.

The Seahawks are the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

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Eagles first-rounder Nelson Agholor says he’ll “work like a peasant”

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First-round pick Nelson Agholor wasn’t an Eagle long before he met Troy Robinson, a janitor at the Eagles training center. In fact, coach Chip Kelly had Robinson pose for photos with him, as a tribute to the background that got him to this place, at this time.

Agholor’s father, a Nigerian immigrant, works as a janitor at the University of South Florida. And the workmanlike traits were clearly passed down to his son.

“I think I understand the way life works,” Agholor said, via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I don’t feel like I’m entitled to anything. . . .

Work like a peasant. That’s the mind-set.”

His father worked many jobs, sometimes riding a bike between them since he couldn’t afford a car. His mother worked at a nursing home. And Agholor and his four siblings saw every day how they worked to provide for the family.

“My parents have raised us to be very humble and to understand everything in life you have to earn,” Agholor said.

That’s a lesson coaches don’t mind hearing from their players, particularly first-round picks.

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Buccaneers to have up-tempo offense

Koetter AP

To those concerned about Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston possibly not being in shape, the pace of his new team’s offense could result in plenty of extra exercise.

Via, tackle Demar Dotson said Tuesday that the new system under coordinator Dirk Koetter (pictured) will move quickly.

“[He’s a] guy that just, you know, he loves, loves fast tempo, loves to get the ball up field,” Dotson said regarding the successor to Jeff Tedford.  “He loves to go a lot of no-huddle.  That’s going to be something that’s more different than what we’re used to.  So it’s going to be a lot of up-tempo stuff.  So that’s something he loves doing.  It’s got its ups and downs, but I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

Last year, the Bucs lost Jeff Tedford to health reasons not long before the start of the season, plunging the offense into disarray.  As former Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown has previously told PFT Live, teams have backup quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers — but they don’t have backup offensive coordinators.

This year, the Bucs presumably will have Koetter for the entire season.  Which, regardless of personnel, should help the team be more competitive.

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Add Panthers guard to list of players making a pitch for La’el Collins

Trai Turner AP

The Dolphins aren’t the only team whose players are recruiting La’El Collins (even if the team technically can’t at the moment).

Panthers guard Trai Turner told fans on Twitter he was “doing my best” to talk his former college teammate into signing with the Panthers.

According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers are “playing it safe until there’s a clear resolution” of the situation involving the double murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Police have questioned him, and said he’s still not a suspect, which is a step short of saying he’s cleared.

That seems to be the stance of most teams, though the Chargers have admitted they’re looking into it, and the Giants are reportedly in the mix as well.

The Bills and Dolphins were the first two names linked, and a group of former LSU players went to Baton Rouge to see him as well, ostensibly for recruiting purposes.

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Emmitt Smith says the Cowboys are fine at running back

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When you hear Jerry Jones talk about the Cowboys family, and their great support system, maybe he means having his former players prop up his questionable decisions.

Just as Hall of Famer Charles Haley has defended the acquisitions of both their dubious pass-rushers, now Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith is taking his turn, saying the group of running backs they’ve assembled isn’t so bad.

The Cowboys let the league’s leading rusher walk out the door in free agency, as DeMarco Murray landed in Philadelphia. Then they failed to draft one.

That leaves them with the enigma that is Darren McFadden, along with Joseph Randle to keep their running game going.

“Darren McFadden, that is a running back you have to respect. You have to remember he played out in Oakland. Oakland doesn’t have what the Cowboys have,” Smith said during an interview on 105.3 FM, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Having an offensive line, and a quarterback like Tony Romo, and some receivers, and a system that makes some doggone sense, he can become a better running back in this system.

“And [with backup running back Joseph] Randle, you can have a nice one-two punch. The one thing with McFadden, if he gets some of those running lanes that I saw DeMarco have last year, and it’s on — he can take it to the house.”

Last year was the first time McFadden played all 16 games, and he managed 534 yards, at a Richardsonian 3.4-yards per carry clip.

Smith may be right. McFadden might finally stay healthy, and he might finally deliver on the promise that caused the Raiders to take him fourth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.

And Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory might stop making bad decisions long enough to make a prophet of Charles Haley, too.

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Titus Young sentenced to five years probation, inpatient treatment

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Former Lions wide receiver Titus Young pleaded no contest to a felony battery charge last month, which opened up the possibility of three years in jail for someone who has spent the last few years in and out of custody.

Young was sentenced on Tuesday and avoided that time behind bars. Young was sentenced to five years probation and a year of inpatient treatment and therapy. Young has been at the Crosby Center in California receiving that treatment for the last three months and the center’s director and one of his psychologists testified on his behalf at the sentencing hearing.

They testified that Young had been misdiagnosed and mistreated as schizophrenic and bipolar and that they’ve seen better results since he’s come to be under their care.

“We’re not seeing the irritability, the anger, the acting out, the violence,” Dr. Robert Knol said, via the Detroit Free Press. “We have seen cooperation. We have seen a genuine investment in all forms of his treatment, both in individual sessions and group sessions. We’re very optimistic. I predict we’ll all celebrate the restructure of a fine young man.”

Young’s restructure would come too late to salvage an NFL career, but not too late to stop him from doing harm to himself or others. We hope that his continued treatment leads to that result.

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Chargers staying in touch with La’el Collins

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We found out on Tuesday that tackle La’El Collins isn’t meeting with any teams right now because NFL rules prohibit teams from official visits with him at LSU’s campus until the school year wraps up on May 9.

We also found out about one of the teams that might be interested in having a conversation with Collins once that restriction is lifted. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco was on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian and said that the team was doing what it could to research Collins while staying in touch with his team.

“We were working on this before the draft, we worked on it through the draft and we’ll continue to work through it right now even today,” Telesco said. “Compiling information, talking to a lot of different people, seeing where it goes and staying in contact with his representatives. We’ll just see how it plays out.”

The Chargers aren’t the only team staying in communication with Collins and we’ll likely get more of an idea of who’s making a serious market for his services once the visiting restrictions are lifted this weekend.

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Chip Kelly: If we’re ever in position to draft a top QB, I’ll be fired

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Eagles coach Chip Kelly tried to trade up to draft quarterback Marcus Mariota, but it didn’t work out. And he doubts he’ll ever get to draft a top quarterback.

Kelly said he’d love to be able to draft a quarterback first and second overall, but he thinks if the Eagles ever have the first or second pick, he’ll get fired. So Kelly hopes that Sam Bradford, who was once a first overall pick, can prove to be the Eagles’ franchise quarterback.

“When you look at all the winning organizations,” Kelly said, via, “if you want to play with the odds as we want to play, it’s got to be with a quarterback situation and then the only way you’re going to get a quarterback is you got to be really not very good so you finish in the top 1-2 in the draft. If we’re not very good and we finish with the top 1-2 in the draft, I don’t think I’m going to be here, so we better find another way to find a quarterback. And that’s what we did with Sam.”

Kelly is wrong when he says the only way the winning organizations get a quarterback is to draft at the top. Only one of the last seven Super Bowls was won by a team whose quarterback was a Top 10 draft pick. Super Bowls can be won by sixth-round picks like Tom Brady, third-round picks like Russell Wilson as well as quarterbacks acquired in free agency like Drew Brees.

But Kelly is surely right that if the Eagles collapse and get the first or second pick in the draft, someone else will be making that pick.

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Jermaine Kearse signs restricted free agent tender with Seahawks

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Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse is back under contract with the Seattle Seahawks after signing his restricted free agent tender with the team.

According to Adam Schefter of, Kearse signed the tender worth $2.356 million on Tuesday. The signing was confirmed by a team spokesman.

Kearse took over as the No.2 wide receiver in Seattle’s offense following the trade of Percy Harvin to the New York Jets last October. He started 14 of 15 games with 38 catches for 537 yards and one touchdown during the regular season.

However, Kearse has been most productive in the playoffs each of the last two years. He caught seven passes for 209 yards in the postseason, including the 35-yard game-winning touchdowns in overtime of the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.

His 33-yard juggling reception in the Super Bowl helped Seattle to the doorstep of their second straight championship before the ill-fated Malcolm Butler interception at the goal line.

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Missouri Supreme Court invalidates Commissioner as arbitrator

Goodell AP

When it comes to employment disputes involving individuals teams, the NFL traditionally stacks the deck in its favor, forcing disgruntled employees to agree to arbitration — with the Commissioner of the league presiding. Last week, the Missouri Supreme Court delivered what could become a fatal blow to the league’s obsession with allowing a non-lawyer to make legal decisions that could be influenced by business interests unrelated to what the law requires.

In a lawsuit filed more than four years ago by former Rams equipment manager Todd Hewitt, the Missouri Supreme Court invalidated the requirement of submitting all claims to arbitration resolved by the Commissioner. The Missouri Supreme Court based its conclusion in part on a fairly simply analysis of three provisions of the league’s Constitution and Bylaws.

First, the Court pointed out that Section 8.3 gives the Commissioner “full, complete, and final jurisdiction and authority to arbitrate . . . [a]ny dispute between any player, coach, and/or other employee of any member of the League and any member club or clubs.” Next, the Court pointed out that Section 8.1 requires the NFL to “select and employ a person of unquestioned integrity to serve as Commissioner of the League and shall determine the period and fix the compensation of his employment.” Then, the Court pointed out that Section 8.2 states that the “Commissioner shall have no financial interest, direct or indirect, in any professional sport.”

The provisions are clearly inconsistent; it’s impossible for the Commissioner to have “no financial interest” in “any professional sport” when he is paid by the league — and when the bulk of his compensation often comes from bonuses tied to the financial success of the league. More importantly, the Missouri Supreme Court concluded that the conflicting provisions and obvious bias of the Commissioner when “required to arbitrate claims against his employers” makes the requirement that employees submit claims to arbitration resolved by the Commissioner unenforceable.

While narrow in application to the State of Missouri (which serves as the home of two NFL teams, the Rams and Chiefs), the ruling provides a blueprint for employees who hope to avoid Commissioner-resolved arbitration in the other 21 states in which the NFL does business. It also gives the NFL Players Association and the NFL Referees Association a potential hammer for challenging in court the ability of the Commissioner to continue to serve as the arbitrator over claims brought by players and game officials, respectively.

While those provisions likely will have greater teeth because they appear in Collective Bargaining Agreements, the three provisions quoted by the Missouri Supreme Court from the NFL’s Constitution and Bylaws lay the foundation for a case-by-case attack on arbitration submitted to the Commissioner based on the inherent bias of the Commissioner.

It’s an obvious problem that has been hiding in plain sight for decades. At some point, the unions, the courts, and/or the NFL itself need to acknowledge that the Commissioner necessarily is incapable of being objective when resolving disputes involving the very teams that hire and pay him, and to come up with a more fair and unbiased procedure for resolving disputes.

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Patriots waive LB Deontae Skinner

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The Patriots waived a defensive contributor from early in the 2014 regular season, parting ways with second-year inside linebacker Deontae Skinner on Tuesday.

The transaction was listed in the NFL’s personnel notice.

The 24-year-old Skinner appeared in seven games (one start) for New England last season, making 16 tackles. The Patriots waived him in late October, and he would finish the season on the practice squad. He was signed to the offseason roster after the Super Bowl.

The Patriots also waived long snapper Tyler Ott on Tuesday, leaving rookie Joe Cardona as the lone snapper on the roster.

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Dolphins waive CB Lowell Rose, two others

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The Dolphins waived a pair of second-year reserve cornerbacks who saw action for Miami last season on Tuesday, letting go of Lowell Rose and T.J. Heath, the club said. The Dolphins also waived second-year kicker Zach Hocker.

Rose, 25, played in five games in 2014, with the 27-year-old Heath appearing in two games. The Dolphins drafted a pair of cornerbacks in last week’s draft, selecting Bobby McCain (Memphis) and Tony Lippett (Michigan State) in Round Five. The club also added veteran corner Zack Bowman in April.

The 23-year-old Hocker was a seventh-round pick of Washington in 2014, but he was waived at the end of the preseason.

Including drafted rookies, the Dolphins have 74 players on the roster.

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