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Five Patriots rookies fail physicals

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Not everyone’s ready for camp to start.

When Patriots rookies reported to Gillette Stadium Thursday, five of them failed their physicals.

The group was highlighted by seventh-round WR Jeremy Ebert, along with undrafted defensive lineman Justin Francis, wide receiver Matt Roark and offensive linemen Jeremiah Warren and Markus Zusevics.

Ebert was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list, and the other four were placed on the non-football injury list. Players can be activated from active-PUP at any time.

Sometimes guys fail physicals because of pre-existing injuries, but they may also fail early conditioning tests.

According to Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, Patriots players have to run 20 timed sprints of either 60 yards (skill players), 50 yards (tight ends, fullbacks and linebackers) or 40 yards (linemen).

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Patriots cleared of filing tampered injury reports for Talib, Spikes

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It wouldn’t feel right if the New England Patriots weren’t being accused of trying to skirt the rules in some form or fashion.

However, at least in one instance the Patriots have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

According to Tom Curran of Comcast Sportsnet New England, the Patriots have been cleared by the league of altering the injury reports of cornerback Aqib Talib and linebacker Brandon Spikes.

“It was determined that the Patriots complied with the injury report procedures regarding both players,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

After signing with new teams this offseason, Talib and Spikes both accused the Patriots of fudging their injury reports with inaccurate information in regards to their injuries.

The Patriots have their way of reporting stuff, but I haven’t had a hip problem since Tampa,” Talib said. “The injury I had was actually a quad injury. It was reported as a hip injury, but that’s how they do things.”

Whether it’s not acknowledging Tom Brady’s hand injury or mislabeling injuries with Talib and Spikes, it certainly isn’t the first time the accuracy of New England’s injury reporting has been called into question. At least in this instance, the league doesn’t view the problem of worthy of any action.

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Report: Armanti Edwards, A.J. Jefferson visiting Seahawks

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Instead of taking to their “war room” in preparation for the start of the NFL Draft on Thursday (since the league decided an extra two weeks of waiting wouldn’t drive everyone crazy), the Seattle Seahawks were taking a look at a pair of veteran free agents.

According to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com, the Seahawks worked out receiver Armanti Edwards and cornerback A.J. Jefferson.

Edwards finished last season on injured reserve with the Cleveland Browns after suffering an ankle injury in November. Jefferson was released by the Minnesota Vikings, also in November, after being arrested for domestic assault less than 24 hours after the Vikings tie with the Green Bay Packers.

Seattle needs a new punt returner after Golden Tate signed with the Detroit Lions this offseason. Edwards has returned 40 punts for 281 yards in four years with Cleveland and the Carolina Panthers. That could be the angle of interest for Seattle in Edwards in addition to his receiving ability.

With the departures of Brandon Browner (New England Patriots) and Walter Thurmond (New York Giants), the Seahawks are looking for some added depth at cornerback as well. Jefferson has recorded 109 tackles with two interceptions in 43 games with the Vikings and Arizona Cardinals.

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League has no comment on proliferation of cheerleader lawsuits

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In recent weeks, three different NFL teams have had lawsuits filed against them by current and/or former members of cheerleading squads for various alleged wage violations.

For now, the NFL has nothing to say publicly about the developments.

“We do not have a comment on these team litigation issues,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT by email on Thursday.  “We are following developments.”

It’s wise for the NFL to be keeping an eye on the litigation.  It would be even wiser for the NFL to be privately giving its teams unambiguous advice regarding the appropriate tactics for managing and compensating their cheerleaders.

It’s unclear how widespread the litigation will become.  So far, the Raiders, Bengals, and Bills have been sued for not paying appropriate wages to cheerleaders.

For some teams, an obligation to pay fair wages, as enforced by litigation, could prompt teams to ditch the cheerleading function entirely, as the Bills have done (at least for now).  If teams aren’t willing to pay fair wages that comply with the law, then they should get out of the cheerleading business.

But no team can say it’s not able to afford the minimum wage for all hours worked for the cheerleading squad.  These are billion-dollar businesses, and some of them allegedly (or actually) have taken advantage of a situation in which the sense of competition for a spot on the squad easily can overcome a willingness to insist on proper compensation.

Even if the league decides to not publicly address the situation, anything that reflects poorly on a team in turn reflects poorly on the league, and in turn tarnishes the shield.

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Dockett laments Dansby’s decision to “chase the money”

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For the second time in his career, linebacker Karlos Danbsy left Arizona via free agency.  Twice-former teammate Darnell Dockett wishes Dansby hadn’t.

He chased the money,” Dockett said Thursday, via ArizonaSports.com.  “I’ve got a lot of respect for our guy that left, I love him like a brother.  But we were one or two pieces away from really making a lot of noise.”

In Dockett’s mind, Dansby’s decision was simple — cash or a championship.

“I personally feel like he chased the money versus chasing a ring,” Dockett said.  “No knock towards Cleveland — I don’t want people to try to think I’m saying Cleveland doesn’t have a chance; everybody has a chance — but I just felt like it was made for him to be here.”

While it’s hard to tell a guy not to get top dollar for his services, Dockett seems to think Dansby’s market was influenced by a performance that was aided by the team’s potent defensive line.

“[W]hen you look at everything we’d done [last] year; the sacrifices our defensive line made for that certain individual to make his plays and go into a game not being selfish,” Dockett said.  “Our defensive line doesn’t care about sacks and tackles.  We come in to do a job, to hold guys off our linebackers so we can be the number one defense.”

The Cardinals may be fine without Dansby.  The Browns may end up being better.  But it’s clear that Dockett believes Dansby should have helped the team finish what it started last year.

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NFL V.P. of law and labor sees no issues with Eagles cutting DeSean

DeSean Jackson AP

Amid questions about whether the Eagles acted improperly in their dealings with DeSean Jackson, a high-ranking league executive says there are no issues.

Adolpho Birch, the NFL’s senior vice president of law and labor policy, said today that the Eagles simply made a football decision regarding Jackson, as teams do every day.

“I think we are comfortable that the decisions that were made on both ends were football decisions,” Birch said, via Philly.com. “Both sides, the objective that they sought from a football perspective, they got, whether that be the Eagles or the Redskins. I think the player’s going to be in a good position. I think at the end of the day, everyone was comfortable with that.”

Although that might sound hard to swallow at first, considering Jackson was the Eagles’ top receiver last season and was coming off the best year of his career, it’s not unreasonable: Jackson was due $10.5 million this season, and it’s easy to believe that the Eagles decided they could better use that cap space elsewhere.

However, the NFL Players Association has been concerned less with whether the Eagles cut Jackson for football reasons than with whether the Eagles bad-mouthed Jackson on his way out the door. The NFL is apparently satisfied that the Eagle did nothing in their dealings with Jackson, but the NFLPA may have a different view.

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Bradley Roby charged with operating a vehicle under the influence

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Former Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby, a potential first-round draft pick, may have just done something to significantly downgrade his draft stock.

According to 10 News in Ohio, Roby is facing a a charge of OVI, or operating a vehicle under the influence.

The incident took place on April 20, when officers were called to the scene of a person passed out behind the wheel of a car. The officers who responded to the call reported that they couldn’t get the driver’s attention, and that when they opened the door they noticed the odor of alcohol. The driver failed a field sobriety test.

Roby’s agent Michael Perrett gave a different account of the incident to Ohio State sports website ElevenWarriors.com.

“This past weekend my client Bradley Roby was issued a citation in Columbus, Ohio for operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI),” Perrett said in a statement. “Bradley was sitting in his parked car in a parking lot when he was approached and questioned by an officer. He was fully cooperative and willingly submitted to field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. His BAC test registered a negligible .008 and after further testing at the police station, he was very quickly released on his own recognizance. There are no other charges, and we are confident that this matter will be resolved quickly and favorably for Bradley. However, as the matter is still pending, we cannot comment further at this time.”

This isn’t Roby’s first off-field incident. He was also suspended for the first game of last season after he was accused of getting in a bar fight, although criminal charges in that case were eventually dropped.

Roby is one of the 30 players who will attend the NFL draft. This incident means he’s likely going to have to wait a little longer to hear his name called on draft day.

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Falcons schedule biomechanical test, aptitude test with Clowney

clowney AP

We have a little more information about the Falcons’ trip to South Carolina on Friday to see star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

A league source tells PFT that the Falcons are going to see Clowney tomorrow, and they will give him a biomechanical assessment test and an aptitude test. There will be no on-field drills of any kind.

That assessment with the Falcons is what Clowney’s agent, Bus Cook, was talking about when he said Clowney “may do one more thing, for one team, maybe a five-minute workout.”

Clowney was also in Atlanta for a visit yesterday, but it’s important to remember that when a player visits a team, that’s just a visit to meet coaches or team officials, not a workout. Clowney isn’t doing any full-fledged workouts, just the brief test for the Falcons tomorrow.

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Source: Clowney isn’t “working out” for Falcons

Clowney Getty Images

It’s true that the Falcons will be venturing to South Carolina on Friday for a visit with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.  It’s not true, according to a league source, that Clowney will be “working out” for the Falcons.

Specifically, the Falcons won’t be putting Clowney through any of the “drills” that typically occur during private workouts.

It’s unclear which team, if any, will get that five minutes.  Some league insiders believe that the team that will get a limited look at what Clowney can do on the field will be the Rams.

Confused?  Don’t blame us.  We’re not the ones who delayed the friggin’ draft by two weeks.

UPDATE 6:58 p.m. ET: A league source tells PFT that the Falcons plan a biomechanical test and an aptitude test with Clowney.

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Corey Chavous mock draft has one major surprise

Manziel AP

Our good friend Corey Chavous of DraftNasty.com returned to PFT Live on Thursday for more pre-draft chatter, and he gave us something to chatter about with dropped jaw in his first-round mock draft.

In his Draft Nasty 2014 NFL Draft Manual, Chavous has the Saints taking quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 27th pick in the draft.

It’s a shock, and it’s highly unlikely to happen.  But it’s fun to talk about and think about what could happen when the selections start to fly.  Even if we talk and think about things that may never happen.

One thing we know about football is that unexpected things will happen.

For more of what Corey had to say, here’s the full segment of his Thursday visit to the show.  Which includes specific information on how to get your hands on a copy of the Draft Nasty 2014 NFL Draft Manual.

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Buffalo Jills suspend operations in wake of lawsuit

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In response to a lawsuit from five former members of the Buffalo Jills, the Jills have done what any wrongfully accused organization would do in a situation like this.

They’ve gone out of business.

Not permanently.  But until further notices.  That’s the reaction, according to the Buffalo News, from Stejon Productions Corp, which manages the group.

The move comes not long after 35 members were selected for the newest installment of the Bills’ cheerleading squad.  Stephanie Mateczun, the president of Stejon Productions Corp., told the Buffalo News that the move happened in response to the lawsuit.

But Mateczun said nothing more; she’ll be making a statement “when the time is right.”

“I‘d like nothing more than to state our side of the story, but it would be inappropriate to do so while in litigation,” she said.

That’s a cop out.  She’ll be stating her case in the context of the litigation, sooner rather than later.  There’s no reason to refrain from launching a pre-emptive public defense, especially in light of the P.R. fallout from the strong allegations contained in the lawsuit.

In situations like this, the court of public opinion will issue a verdict quickly.  When a lawsuit alleging inappropriate business practices is met both with silence and a suspension of operations, the court of public opinion inevitably will deem the employer to be guilty as charged.

Meanwhile, the five women who sued will potentially be chastised and harassed by one or more of the 35 new members, who will blame not those who set up potentially illegal business practices but those who blew the whistle for the collapse of their ability to be NFL cheerleaders.

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As expected, Panthers exercise 2015 option on Cam Newton

Cam Newton AP

The Panthers won the NFC South and advanced to the playoffs with Cam Newton leading their offense last season, so it stands to reason that they aren’t in any hurry to find a new quarterback to run the show.

On Thursday, they assured that they’ll have Newton on the roster through at least the 2015 season. Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that the team has officially exercised their option on Newton’s contract for the 2015 season.

Should Newton play out the 2015 season under his current deal, he’ll make over $14.6 million in his fifth NFL campaign. Chances are that he and the Panthers will be talking about a contract that extends well beyond that season over the next year-plus as the 2011 first-round pick has shown continual improvement since his rookie year and has room to grow a few weeks before his 25th birthday.

Now the Panthers can turn their attention toward getting Newton and the rest of the offense the help at receiver and offensive line that they’ll need to make last year’s playoff berth a regular occurrence in Charlotte.

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Evan Mathis: I’m not holding out

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In March, we reported that Eagles guard Evan Mathis was given permission by the Eagles to seek a trade this offseason because the team wasn’t willing to give him the new contract that he craved.

That led to some speculation that Mathis would stay away from the team’s voluntary workouts, but he reported this week along with his teammates. On Thursday, he addressed the situation with reporters by saying he wasn’t going to talk about his contract and referencing former Eagle Terrell Owens.

“If I’m going to answer any contract questions I’d prefer to do it from the comfort of my driveway, while I’m doing a Richard Simmons-type workout,” Mathis said, via CSNPhilly.com. “Maybe some sit-ups and some curls or something.”

Mathis, who said he believes he’s the best left guard in the league, also said that he won’t be holding out of any mandatory activities later in the year in hopes of pressing the contract issue further. He added that he won’t let the contract issue become a distraction.

“A distraction? No,” Mathis said. “I mean, I’m not going to let anything distract me from my job, which is to play football. And I can handle anything you guys (reporters) throw at me. So that’s not going to distract me. If you want to keep asking questions, I’m here to answer them. So it doesn’t really bother me, and if people want to keep tweeting to me I’m right there. I’m wide open. I’m easy to get to, so it’s not going to be a distraction.”

After getting the chance to shop himself and finding no takers, Mathis doesn’t have much choice beyond doing his job as well as he’s done it the last few seasons and hoping for a better result in the future. In the meantime, he’ll have to be content with the $5.15 million he’ll make for the 2014 season.

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Report: A.J. McCarron called in sick for Titans visit

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Perhaps more than any position, quarterbacks are in the perception business.

As it stands, A.J. McCarron is generally perceived positively, despite the reality show that his soon-to-be-wife may or may not be working on.

Now we get a nugget that may or may not change the perception of McCarron.

According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean, the Alabama quarterback missed a pre-draft visit with the Titans, telling them he was sick.

Now, maybe he had a cold, or ate some bad sushi. Maybe the Titans weren’t even really that interested in him, since they didn’t reschedule.

But not every quarterback gets the benefit of the doubt. A few years ago, there were reports of Ryan Mallett skipping a workout with the Panthers, which quickly took on a sinister tone, leading to predictable denials.

Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin went through a similar wringer after cutting short a workout this year.

But McCarron isn’t fighting the same kind of perception issues Mallett was dealing with prior to his draft, or the same kind that seemed to circulate around Benjamin.

Again, it could be completely innocent.

But teams and fans will often see exactly what they’re looking for when news like this comes up.

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Victor Cruz would like the Giants to draft an outside receiver

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The Giants got very little out of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks the last two years, which led the Giants to put forth very little effort to stop him from leaving as a free agent and offered a big reminder of how much better the Giants offense looks with an outside receiver drawing the attention of the defense.

One player who certainly agrees with that is Victor Cruz. Cruz burst to stardom while drawing a lot of single coverage out of the slot because Nicks was a bigger concern for opposing defenses, but saw his productivity dip in 2013 as defenses stopped worrying about Nicks and other Giants targets. On NFL Network Thursday, Cruz lobbied for the team to draft another receiver capable of putting up big numbers outside in the first round.

“A [big-play receiver] is something we need in this offense to be successful,” Cruz said. “An outside guy that can do the job and that can help fuel all the other receivers in the locker room and put some fire up under them to get them where they have to be.”

Cruz said Texas A&M’s Mike Evans fit the bill as the kind of receiver he’d like to see join him on the Giants offense and the Giants would probably be thrilled to see Evans still on the board when they are ready to make the 12th pick in the first round. That seems unlikely, though, and the Giants may not be able to grant Cruz’s wish for receiver help until later in the draft.

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Falcons will put Jadeveon Clowney through a short workout

Clowney AP

The agent for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has previously said his client might do one short private workout for one team prior to the draft.

Now we have a report that one team is going to put Clowney through a short private workout.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, the Falcons will go to Columbia, S.C. on Friday to put Clowney through “a few drills.”

Hmmmmmmm.

The Falcons, picking sixth, would never be able to get the player who would fill their most pressing need through ordinary means.

But they’ve shown in the past (Julio Jones) that they’re willing to make big deals to move up, and with 10 picks, they have the beginnings of the ammunition needed.

The underlying truth is that the Falcons might be more of a hot seat situation than many might believe. They finally broke through to win a playoff game following five years of consistent regular season success, but then the floor crashed from underneath them last year.

They’ve got their quarterback, and many of the key parts around him to have success for the foreseeable future. But if that success doesn’t come soon, they might see the need for changes to the current structure.

To win now, they might need one more impact piece, who’d come at a bargain rate (at least in dollars), even if they had to surrender future picks to get him.

Now might be the time for the Falcons to make a move, and Clowney might be the one player they think they need to deliver.

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