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Jim Harbaugh is your Coach of the Year

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49ers coach Jim Harbaugh scored another victory Saturday, and this one was decisive.

The Associated Press named Harbaugh their Coach of the Year. He received 45 votes, Packers coach Mike McCarthy got three, and John Fox got two votes.

We think the honor is well deserved for Harbaugh. He made the most of what he had on both sides of the ball. He took an also ran team and made them Super Bowl contenders.  He played to his team’s strengths and hid their weaknesses.

There were many games where he out-coached the competition and he changed a losing culture in San Francisco quickly.

Since we have to complain about something, we can’t believe two people voted for John Fox. His team won eight games and were outscored by 81 points. They collapsed at the end of the regular season. That got Mike Shanahan fired, not Coach of the Year votes.

Jim Schwartz, Marvin Lewis, and Bill Belichick all did great jobs this year and were worthy of recognition, but the voting system only allows for one vote. Harbaugh was the right choice.

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Nicole Brown’s sister takes issue with O.J. Simpson’s “conflict-free life” claim

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One of the more bizarre moments during Thursday’s O.J. Simpson parole hearing happened when Simpson at one point blurted out that he’s led a “conflict-free life.” The moment was particularly significant to the families members of the people that, according to the California civil justice system, he killed.

“Really? You beat my sister,” Nicole Brown’s sister, Tanya, told TMZ. “Regardless of . . . murdering her and Ron [Goldman] the fact is that my sister has diary entries dating back to 1978 about abuse that was inflicted, and also there was that infamous 911 call that he mentioned.”

Regardless of whether you believe Simpson did or didn’t kill his ex-wife and a man who was in the worst possible place at the worst possible time, a jury found Simpson responsible for the deaths under the much lower burden of proof than the criminal “beyond a reasonable doubt” bar.

If you personally have doubts, reasonable or otherwise, about whether Simpson did it, read this assessment of the documentary from 2016.

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Sean McDermott: You can’t be effective as a one-sided head coach

AP

Bills head coach Sean McDermott was the defensive coordinator of the Panthers before getting the top job in Buffalo this offseason, so his natural inclination is to hang around the defense when the Bills are practicing at training camp this summer.

McDermott’s new job calls for him to work against that inclination, however, and he says that’s just what he will do during his first training camp with the team. He said that he’ll be in meetings with position groups so that he can be both a learner and an instructor as time goes on.

“You can’t just be a one-sided head coach and be effective,” McDermott said, via the Buffalo News. “I want my influence to be felt in all three phases. Certainly, the defense comes naturally for me, but that said, I’ve had ideas for what I want the offense and special teams to look like as well. I think the tendency for some is when you get into the special-teams periods and things like that to just, ‘Hey, that’s an off period for coaches sometimes.’ And special teams is where you win games. You’re going to win or lose sometimes two or three games a year on special teams or situational football.”

McDermott has spent his entire time in the NFL working for Andy Reid and Ron Rivera and said both men have influenced his approach to building his own approach to running a team. It promises to be different than the one Rex Ryan took and the Bills hope that’s only the start of the differences.

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Friday morning one-liners

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What’s the outlook for Bills RB LeSean McCoy for the 2017 season?

Dolphins C Mike Pouncey will get his hip checked out before training camp.

Musing about the chances of an undefeated season for the Patriots.

Jets WR Quincy Enunwa is stepping into a bigger role.

The Ravens donated $1.5 million to a local high school.

DT Geno Atkins has earned a place among the top Bengals of all time.

Breaking down the Browns linebackers.

Steelers LB Ryan Shazier compared WR Antonio Brown to The Terminator.

Texans S Andre Hal hopes to have a better season than he did in 2016.

Is there reason to be excited about the Colts wide receivers?

Several players are vying for rotation spots on the Jaguars defensive line.

A look at the Titans schedule.

The Broncos website names 15 players to watch at training camp.

More about the guy in the Chiefs tie who was involved in O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing.

Raiders CB Gareon Conley weighed in on a rap feud.

How will things shape up on the Chargers offensive line?

A take on the 10 best Cowboys players during Jerry Jones’ time as owner.

A stab at predicting the Giants’ 53-man roster.

The secondary is a big concern for the Eagles.

DL Joey Mbu is trying to find a role with the Redskins.

Who will start at safety for the Bears?

The Lions will have some competition at guard this summer.

A breakdown of Ty Montgomery and the rest of the Packers running back corps.

The Vikings have high expectations for T Riley Reiff.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan is impressed by the video board at the team’s new stadium.

It didn’t take long for interim G.M. Marty Hurney to announce his first move since returning to the Panthers.

The Saints have an official supermarket.

Said Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter, “This isn’t the time of year where you need to give those guys a big pep talk about what we’re going to be. We’re a team that’s building, a team that’s getting better, and we’re trying to chip away at it every day.”

Three questions for the Cardinals defense to answer.

Getting to know some of the Rams rookies.

The 49ers inside linebackers will be battling for playing time during training camp.

Will the Seahawks get more from TE Jimmy Graham this season?

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Saints hire former Dolphins executive for analytics role

AP

The Saints have added to their front office, hiring a former Dolphins executive to bolster their analytics department.

According to Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints hired Ryan Herman as a football analyst.

He worked for the Dolphins as director of football administration, leaving them in August 2016. He started there in 2010, and worked on the salary cap under former General Manager Jeff Ireland, who now works for the Saints as assistant G.M.

The Saints didn’t elaborate on his role, but he’s believed to be their first staffer devoted to analytics.

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Derek Carr: If refs would call holding, Khalil Mack would get 30 sacks

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Raiders quarterback Derek Carr may have the highest salary in the league, but he also may not even be the best player from the Raiders’ 2014 draft class.

Carr thinks Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack would blow away the league’s sack record and record 30 sacks if referees would call holding the way they should on offensive tackles who grab Mack.

“Because we know this is going to blow up, I’m gonna say 30,” Carr said on SiriusXM. “If he doesn’t get held . . . if they start calling the holdings, if they start calling them like they should — I’m saying 30.”

Mack has a total of 30 sacks in his three-year NFL career, so expecting him to get 30 in one season is unrealistic. Maybe Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 sacks in a season is a more realistic goal.

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Lions hire Barry Sanders for marketing post

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The Lions are clearly trying to mend fences with Calvin Johnson, inviting the retired wide receiver to training camp after an offseason of critical comments about the team. But they’ve taken another step to bring another legend back into the fold.

Via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, the Lions have hired Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders as a “brand ambassador.”

Sanders’ sudden walkaway after 10 seasons was the template for Johnson leaving the team at 30. Like Johnson, he was still producing at a high level when he retired (rushing for 1,491 yards in his 10th season). But the abrupt departure caught many off guard, which is why the team feels this is an important move.

“We’ve thankfully, the last couple years, had an unofficial relationship with him,” team president Rod Wood said. “This year, we formalized it. You described it well, it’s kind of a brand ambassador. He’ll be going on road trips, showing up for suite visits, he’ll be at the Taste of the Lions event, and just interacting with our fans on behalf of the team.

“It’s a formal agreement. I worked with Barry and his agent to put something together that works for both of us. It’s not a football role. It’s more of a marketing, business role.”

Though the circumstances of Sanders’ and Johnson’s departures from the team are similar, Wood was hesitant to connect recent efforts to get them back in the family.

“I’m not going to try and draw comparisons to the two,” Wood said. “I wasn’t here when Barry left, but I’ve been really involved bringing him back into the fold. Like I’ve said, I’m confident the Calvin situation will work itself out.”

Considering some of the things Johnson has said lately, it might take a little more time on that front.

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Jason Pierre-Paul thinks Giants are a Super Bowl contender again

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It’s late July, and no one has put on pads yet. So naturally, they all think they’re going to the Super Bowl.

OK, maybe not the Jets.

But New York’s other team is in position to contend for the title, according to their longest-tenured defensive player.

“I think the key is we added a lot of guys and people are like ‘Wow, this year has to be a team that goes to a Super Bowl this year,’ ’’ Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “But it’s all about the hard work.’’

Much of that offseason work included signing Pierre-Paul to a long-term deal, though the rest of their big moves were on offense after last year’s splurge on defensive free agents. And has hard as it may be to believe, the 28-year-old is an elder statesman now, with only quarterback Eli Manning and long snapper Zak DeOssie having been there longer.

“That’s crazy,’’ he said. “Nobody on that defense has been here longer than me, I’ve been there the longest, I know what it takes to get to the Super Bowl, to bring a Giants pride in our heart. That’s what defense is really about.’’

And because it’s late July, they (along with everyone else in the league) think that will lead them to Minnesota for the Super Bowl.

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Report: Rams to hire Brian Xanders to front office role

AP

The Los Angeles Rams are set to add former Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos executive Brian Xanders to their front office, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.

The Lions decided to part ways with Xanders in May. He had been a holdover from prior general manager Martin Mayhew and the Lions’ new G.M., Bob Quinn, elected to move on without him.

Xanders could be filling the post vacated by the departure of Ran Carthon in April. Carthon had served as the Rams’ director of pro personnel for the last five seasons.

Xanders spent the last four years in Detroit as a senior personnel executive. He had previously served five years in Denver – first as an assistant general manager in 2008 and then four years as the general manager with the Broncos through the 2012 season. He spent 14 years with the Atlanta Falcons in various roles before heading to Denver.

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Packers assistant Darren Perry convicted, fined for drunk driving arrest

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Green Bay Packers safeties coach Darren Perry pleaded no contest and was fined for a December arrest for drunk driving, according to Paul Srubas of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Perry was fined $225 with an eight-month suspension of his license for the first-time offense, which is deemed an ordinance violation in Brown County. Additional fees and costs bring the total to $956. The plea agreement led to other charges being dropped against Perry, including unsafe lane deviation and refusal to take a breathalyzer test.

Perry has spent eight seasons with the Packers and 15 years in the NFL as a coach. He spent time as an assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders before joining Mike McCarthy’s staff in Green Bay in 2009.

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Jaguars place Marquez Williams on PUP list

As training camp gets set to open for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team placed fullback Marquez Williams on the physically unable to perform list on Thursday.

Williams was a seventh-round pick of the Jaguars in May’s NFL Draft out of the University of Miami.

Williams will continue to count against the 90-man roster limit in the preseason and be activated any time before the start of the regular season upon passing a physical. Players must be on the PUP list from the start of training camp in order to be eligible for the in-season version of the list, which would require the players to miss the first six weeks of the regular season before being eligible to return.

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Gregg Williams can’t wait to utilize Jamie Collins’ versatility

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Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wants every player on his unit to learn two positions. Linebacker Jamie Collins reminds Williams that he played safety at Southern Mississippi.

He’s begging me to play safety,” Williams said, via Patrick Maks of the team website. “And I’m not saying he couldn’t be the best one out there right now. If he wanted to play defensive end, he could play defensive end.”

Collins, who arrived in Cleveland after a midseason trade with the Patriots, is versatile, athletic and intelligent, Williams said. Collins played quarterback in high school, and, at an offseason skills challenge, he drained a 30-yard throw into the kicking net on the first try.

“There’s lots of things about his versatility,” Williams said, “that it’s going to be fun and challenging to find spots to cut him loose.”

In eight games with Cleveland last season, Collins made 69 tackles and two sacks and forced a fumble.

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Jets reach agreement with first-round pick Jamal Adams

AP

The New York Jets have reached a deal with first-round pick Jamal Adams, according to his agency Universal Sports Management.

The No. 6 overall selection in the draft, Adams was one of just six draft picks without contract following Patrick Mahomes signing with the Kansas City Chiefs earlier on Thursday.

Adams’ deal will be a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year.

Adams was the top defensive back selected in the draft in a class considered deep in secondary talent. He appeared in 36 games at LSU over the last three seasons with 209 total tackles, 18 for loss with two sacks, five interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Just five draft picks now remain unsigned: 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas (No. 3 overall), Titans receiver Corey Davis (No. 5 overall), Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley (No. 24 overall) and safety Jabrill Peppers (No. 25 overall). The Raiders’ second-rounder, Obi Melifonwu, also remains unsigned.

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Rob Ninkovich on Matt Patricia’s choice of T-shirt: Everyone has to wear clothes

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Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported earlier this week that Roger Goodell remains miffed about Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s choice to wear a T-shirt mocking the Commissioner upon the team’s return from Super Bowl LI. Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich says get over it.

Everyone has the right to wear whatever shirt they want,” Ninkovich said on Boston Herald Radio’s “The Rundown.” “Everyone has to wear a shirt, right? You can’t just wear no shirt. I think someone threw it at [Patricia], and he said, ‘All right, nice shirt, it’s cool, it’s blue, so I’ll put it on.’ I thought it was a funny shirt.”

Goodell hasn’t returned to Foxboro since the Deflategate controversy began but is expected for the regular-season opener there Sept. 7. He could bump into Patricia, who wore Barstool Sports Goodell-with-a-clown-nose T-shirt as he deplaned after the return from Houston in February.

Ninkovich doesn’t expect Patricia’s choice of T-shirt to hinder the defensive coordinator’s chances of getting a head coaching job.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Ninkovich said. “People want to take it how they want to take it. If you really think about it, everyone has to wear clothes, so you just put a shirt on, and you know, it is what it is. I think it’s a nice shirt. It’s blue. I love blue. My favorite color is blue.”

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Dak Prescott works with Tom Shaw in readying for season

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While his teammates were vacationing, Dak Prescott was hard at work in Orlando. He has spent his off time training with renowned athletic performance trainer Tom Shaw at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The quarterback finished up his extra work with Shaw on Thursday and headed home as the Cowboys report for physicals Friday.

“He is serious about improving all aspects of his game – and I mean all of it,” Shaw said, via Walt Disney World Sports Public Relations. “He works on the non-football stuff – the conditioning, the core strength work, the weight room strength work, and he attacks the on-field work that’s necessary to become a great player in the NFL. This guy is a worker.”

Prescott began working with Shaw, a former strength and conditioning coach for the Patriots and Saints, before the 2016 draft. The Cowboys made Prescott a fourth-round draft pick, and he won offensive rookie of the year honors after posting a 13-3 record.

“I think he’s the best,” Prescott said of Shaw. “He’s my guy. He tells you exactly what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear. He is honest with all the guys which I greatly appreciate. I came here to Disney to train because I wanted to be in the best possible condition when I go back to my team. I wanted to get that good sweat in down here in Florida to make sure that from a conditioning standpoint, I’m ready to go when my team heads to training camp in California.”

Prescott didn’t show many weaknesses last season after passing for 23 touchdowns and four interceptions, but according to him, he has some. So this offseason, as defensive coordinators worked to take way Prescott’s strengths, Prescott worked to improve his weaknesses.

“Coach Shaw talks to us all the time about turning your weaknesses into strengths, so that’s what I’ve been focusing on during the majority of the spring,” Prescott said. “As an NFL quarterback, there is always some aspect of your game — accuracy, footwork, strength — something you can always work on to improve, so that’s been my focus.”

Shaw raved about Prescott’s work ethic, believing that is what will separate the former Mississippi State star in the NFL.

“This guy has a chance to be an elite quarterback in the NFL,” Shaw said. “The game is important to him. He wants to improve, and he works at it. That’s the way you improve in the NFL: You have to work at it, and that’s what Dak does.”

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Tony Romo on Ezekiel Elliott: He’s going to figure it out and be fine

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Ezekiel Elliott has made the headlines several times for the wrong reasons in his brief career. But former teammate Tony Romo said adjusting to the spotlight that comes with playing in the NFL takes time, and insists the star running back will “figure it out and be fine.”

“Zeke, he’s a friend,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I know that he’s a good kid. He’s just trying to find his way. He’s in a position that he’s always going to be in a spot where people are going to take a photo, they’re going to talk about him. We all get these little times in our career where you can go two different directions. He’s figuring it out. He’s obviously made some choices he’ll reflect back and wish he done a little different. But at the same time, just not a whole lot of people are really thrust into this spotlight, this soon, at that age. Really, even in the National Football League there’s only a few of them. I always want to give people a little grace period and a little time. The fact the I know him and I know his personality and how much good he does off the field, how good he is with people, I think he’s going to figure it out and be fine. But like we say, you always got to take responsibility and try to improve in all facets of life.”

Dallas police suspended an investigation into a Sunday night altercation involving Elliott after the alleged victim failed to respond to multiple attempts to contact him and no witnesses came forward. But Elliott also remains under investigation by the NFL for allegations of domestic violence made against him by a former girlfriend a year ago; he is appealing a misdemeanor conviction for speeding after a state trooper clocked his 2016 Dodge Charger traveling 100 mph; he exposed a woman’s breasts during a St. Patrick’s Day parade; and he visited a marijuana dispensary in Seattle last preseason.

Coach Jason Garrett offered support to Elliott on Wednesday, saying, “Zeke’s someone we believe very strongly in as a person and as a football player, and we’re going to continue to believe in him and try to put a structure around him and all of our players to help them make great decisions and grow – grow on and off the field.”

The Cowboys’ veterans report to The Star for physicals on Friday. The team leaves for Oxnard, Calif., on Saturday.

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