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Jerry Jones, Dez Bryant finally talk

Jerry Jones AP

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones may still be “pissed” at receiver Dez Bryant.  But Jones is no longer too “pissed” to talk to the third-year wideout.

According to the Associated Press, Jones said Tuesday that he and Bryant spoke extensively for the first time since Bryant’s recent arrest for allegedly assaulting his mother.

The Cowboys have yet to make Bryant available for interview.  At some point, the league likely will tell the Cowboys and/or Bryant that media availability isn’t optional.

Jones may be angry not only at Bryant but also at himself.  Burned by the decision not to roll the dice with Randy Moss back in 1998, Jones went the other way with Bryant a dozen years later, taking a risk on a player who has generated plenty of headlines for off-field issues since entering the league.

I’ll ask Jones about the Bryant situation and other Cowboys-related issues when he joins The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday.  The show airs from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET on more than 270 radio stations, on DirecTV’s Audience network, on various regional sports networks, and at DanPatrick.com.

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Army vet Daniel Rodriguez trying to make most of chance with Rams

Daniel Rodriguez AP

Memorial Day weekend has its fair share of gatherings around the grill, swimming in sunny weather and other fun, but none of that should get in the way of remembering that the holiday honors those who have given their lives in service to the country around the world.

Rams wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez doesn’t need that reminder. Rodriguez did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was wounded during the Battle of Kamdesh, while in the Army and his football career began with a promise to a friend who was killed in combat. Rodriguez went to community college, worked on his game and landed as a walk-on at Clemson.

“It was just one of those things where I felt that if I had any purpose in life, I needed to make sure that I kept my word to a friend, and live my life in a way that honored those who had died,” Rodriguez said, via the Rams website. “I needed to make sure that I represented myself well on behalf of my friends who were killed. And that was just trying to live through a promise.”

Rodriguez, who received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device for his service in Afghanistan, wasn’t drafted, but met with Rams personnel at the postseason Medal of Honor Bowl and his pro day and got an invite to try out at the rookie minicamp.

“When they invited me, I was like, ‘Heck yeah, I would love to try out. I’ve got nothing to lose,'” Rodriguez said. “They flew me out here and I thought I was only going to be here for a two-day trial. And they said I had a pretty good workout, made some plays, and they offered to have me stay. It was one of those things that I couldn’t really believe happened, and it was all a whirlwind. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had invitations to other minicamps down the road, and I was just trying to take advantage of every one. And this one was the first one and it stuck. Honestly, it was a blessing in disguise.”

Rodriguez has a long way to go to make the Rams’ 53-man roster, but he overcame long odds to get this far and it’s a safe bet that he’ll have plenty of people rooting for him to continue his stay in St. Louis well past this summer’s cutdown day.

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Report: Brooks Reed may miss start of OTAs

Baltimore Ravens v Houston Texans Getty Images

Linebacker Brooks Reed may miss the first set of organized team activities with his new team.

The Falcons signed Reed to a five-year deal as a free agent in March and is expected to be a starter for the team in the fall, but Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports that Reed may be on the bench as the team moves into the next phase of workouts this week. Reed reportedly suffered a groin injury during the team’s recent veteran minicamp.

McClure describes the injury as a minor one, but the Falcons don’t have much reason to push it toward being something more significant at this point in the offseason. O’Brien Schofield is expected to take Reed’s reps with the first team.

The Falcons may have several offensive linemen on the sideline when they start OTAs as well. Left tackle Jake Matthews, center Joe Hawley, tackle Sam Baker and interior lineman Peter Konz are all on the way back from injuries, as are safety William Moore and running back Antone Smith.

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Sunday morning one-liners

Mario Williams AP

Mario Williams is preparing for a change in his role on the Bills Defense.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is looking forward to the team’s organized team activities.

The chance to see QB Jimmy Garoppolo in a game could prove to be a positive for the Patriots.

Jets coach Todd Bowles shared his thoughts on making evaluations at non-contact practices.

The Ravens are spotlighting TE Nick Boyle’s minicamp highlights on their website.

Checking in on the chances of the Bengals reaching an extension with WR A.J. Green in the near future.

Will Josh McCown give the Browns a 30-something success story at quarterback?

Said Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt, “I have made some progress, but I am in my second year and I still have a lot to learn.”

The Texans’ uniforms didn’t get much love from ESPN.com’s Uni Watch.

Colts G Donald Thomas is trying to regain his spot in the lineup.

TE Connor Hamlett took a brief break from football before signing with the Jaguars.

A look at some of the best rookie seasons in Titans history.

The Broncos are preparing options for PATs based on this season’s rule changes.

How will the playing time break down on the Chiefs defensive line?

The Raiders hosted a tour of the USS Hornet for military families.

Stadium issues continue to dominate the Chargers landscape.

Ten things to know about Cowboys rookie OL Chaz Green.

The Giants are moving Bennett Jackson from corner to safety.

A projection of the Eagles starting defense.

A look at Redskins RB Alfred Morris’s best performances from his first three seasons.

Bears tight ends are forging quick bonds this offseason.

CB Rashean Mathis wants to be a mentor for younger Lions cornerbacks.

The Packers have one roster spot available.

The Vikings will need some unexpected contributors to step up this season.

Falcons WR Julio Jones is branching out into the restaurant business.

Comparing the Panthers’ front seven to the 2003 defensive front.

If the Texans appear on “Hard Knocks,” the Saints could make a cameo or two.

Buccaneers defensive line coach Joe Cullen said preparing to face the Lions last season made him aware of DE George Johnson, who joined the Bucs in a trade this offseason.

Checking out the inside linebacker possibilities with the Cardinals.

Who are the breakout candidates for the Rams this year?

Running through the contenders to replace 49ers DE Justin Smith in the lineup.

Previewing the choices defenses will have to make when facing the Seahawks this season.

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Goodell’s quest for “new information” makes for confusing Brady appeal

Goodell AP

Apart from the question of whether Commissioner Roger Goodell possesses sufficient independence to ever serve as the arbitrator in cases involving NFL teams and NFL players is the question of whether he possesses the basic competence to do so.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Goodell isn’t a lawyer. And an arbitration definitely is a legal proceeding.

The first question for any legal proceeding is determining the legal standard to apply. In an appeal, sometimes the entire process starts over again from scratch (the Latin-loving lawyers call that “de novo” review). Most appeals apply deference to significant portions of the work that was done by a lower tribunal.

When former federal judge Barbara Jones overturned the indefinite suspension of former Ravens running back Ray Rice last year, she used the “abuse of discretion” standard, which gives (Captain Obvious alert) a range of discretion to the person who made the initial decision. The hearing officer on appeal may have reached a different decision if handling the case from scratch, but if the person who made the initial decision exercised discretion properly, the decision should be upheld.

Rice’s case arose under the Personal Conduct Policy. The suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady flows from Article 46 of the labor deal, which gives the Commissioner full power over matters regarding the integrity of the game. The standard for Brady’s case is believed to be “arbitrary and capricious,” which is similar to the “abuse of discretion” test. The person handling the appeal may not agree with the decision, but the decision stands unless the person who made it had no reasonable grounds to do so, or failed to engage in an adequate consideration of the circumstances.

Regardless of the specific wording of the standard, the initial Brady decision is expected to receive “very substantial weight” on appeal.

For all appeals that aren’t “de novo,” the record of evidence becomes frozen in place when the appeal commences. Which means that, unless the appeals officer is starting from scratch, no new evidence should be considered. Which makes one of the comments this week from Commissioner Roger Goodell confusing, to say the least.

Asked whether Brady would receive another chance to cooperate with the investigation by surrendering text messages and emails, Goodell said this: “We have a process here. It’s long established. I look forward to hearing directly from Tom. If there is new information or there’s information in helping us get this right, I want to hear directly from Tom on that.”

“New information” shouldn’t matter under the “abuse of discretion” or “arbitrary and capricious” standard. The quest for “new information” has ended at that point. So if Goodell is considering “new information,” he’s not handling the appeal the way he should.

If there’s “new information,” Brady should ask to re-open the investigation, allowing Wells to do whatever it is that he charged the NFL millions of dollars to do, and then giving Vincent a chance to reconsider the punishment, with Goodell waiting to review the matter on appeal. That apparently won’t be happening, which introduces a major flaw into the process.

A separate problem arises from the reality that, even though Goodell tried to distance himself from the initial decision by delegating it to executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent, the suspension shows the fingerprints of the man whose signature appears on every football the NFL uses.

“[O]nce we had the [Ted] Wells report, our staff — led by Troy Vincent, who handles these matters on a regular basis and has all spring — immediately began meetings,” Goodell said. “I participated in some of those meetings so I understood the discussion that they were having. Troy made a recommendation. I authorized him to go ahead and issue that as I do in every other case.”

Goodell participating in disciplinary meetings is no different than an owner participating in draft meetings; eventually, the owner’s preferences will become a factor. And when Goodell “authorized” his top football lieutenant to make the initial decision to suspend Brady four games, Goodell may as well have been making the decision himself.

And now he’ll be handling the appeal. Under a standard that shouldn’t allow for “new information” to be considered. Which will do nothing to dissuade the NFL Players Association from arguing that the NFL is, once again, making it up as it goes.

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Art Rooney II hopes NFL will soon hold games in Mexico and Germany

Art Rooney II AP

One of the members of the NFL’s International Committee is optimistic the league will soon stage games in two countries in which it has shown interest.

In an interview with his club’s website, Steelers president Art Rooney II said he “would be disappointed” if the NFL wasn’t holding games in Germany and Mexico “within the next five years.”

Said Rooney, according to Steelers.com: “The audience in those two countries — there are enough NFL fans in both to support a game, and so it’s really a matter of being able to put together a stadium situation that would work well for us, as well as being able to put together a broadcasting and digital media-style programming so the games can be broadcast in those countries as well being played there.”

On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would “evaluate” Germany, Mexico and Brazil as game sites. However, as Rooney told Steelers.com, Germany and Mexico are more likely to host a game before Brazil.

Said Rooney: “Brazil is the one I would say is the newest discussion, and my guess is there will have to be a little longer lead time in developing that.”

The NFL will hold three regular season games in London in 2015. Overall, the league has scheduled 14 games in London since 2007.

At some point, the league would figure to play a game elsewhere, whether in Europe or somewhere else outside North America. And as Rooney sees it, Germany and Mexico are at the head of the line.

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Doug Whaley: All our quarterbacks are on equal footing

EJ Manuel AP

Last week, Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman denied a report that the Bills were thinking about parting ways with third-year quarterback EJ Manuel before the start of the 2015 season.

General Manager Doug Whaley was on the same page during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show. Whaley called the report “just someone trying to get something stirred” during the offseason and said that the team remains excited about Manuel’s future in the NFL. That excitement wasn’t enough to stop the team from acquiring Matt Cassel and it isn’t enough to lift Manuel ahead of Tyrod Taylor or Jeff Tuel in the pecking order at this point in the offseason, however.

“I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job,” Whaley said. “Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start. It’s exciting for us.”

The Bills may not be making any plans to cut Manuel at this point and there isn’t much reason for them to be in that mode. If all four quarterbacks really are on equal footing, though, then Manuel can end up fourth on the depth chart at the end of August and leave the Bills with a decision to make.

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A.J. McCarron sees himself and Andy Dalton as two future stars

Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron AP

At the moment, A.J. McCarron is stuck behind Andy Dalton on the quarterback depth chart in Cincinnati. But McCarron doesn’t see himself as a backup for long

McCarron told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he is OK with being behind Dalton on the depth chart for now, but he thinks he and Dalton will both be stars in the future.

“If you’re not going to dream big, then why dream?” he said. “I want to compete. Andy’s our starter, I know that. I love Andy to death. Andy’s always been there for me. He’s been like a big brother to me. But I’m going to compete and try to push him the best I can and have his back — always. He’s our starter, I know that, but I want to make him better in every way that I can. Like I told him, hopefully one day me and him can be retired and look back on it and we’re both 100 million-dollar guys. That’s my dream. And I’ll always be that way. So that’s what I want to do.”

McCarron won two national championships as the starting quarterback at Alabama, but he spent his rookie season on the sideline after the Bengals drafted him in the fifth round last year. He’s got a long way to go before he’s a $100 million guy. But it’s good to dream big.

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John Madden: Super Bowl call will “torment” Pete Carroll forever

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks dejected after defeat to the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks Pete Carroll acknowledged after the Super Bowl that he’d always regret the decision to pass at the goal line rather than run.

That’s almost easy to say now, at a time when he’s trying to insulate the coordinator who called the play, and the quarterback who threw the game-losing interception.

But one of the best coaches the game has ever known said the memory won’t get any easier with time.

That will torment him forever,” Hall of Famer John Madden told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “Winning one game is hard. Getting to the Super Bowl is hard. Then getting that close and losing has to be tough, because we only remember the winners of the Super Bowl.

“One of the biggest gaps in sports is the difference between the winning and losing teams of the Super Bowl. They don’t invite the losing team to the White House. They don’t have parades for them. They don’t throw confetti on them.

“Does it haunt you? Hell yes, it haunts you. I’m still haunted by some championship games.”

Madden’s Raiders lost five conference championship games in seven years, nearly taking the pleasure out of finally winning one.

But he doubts that Carroll having won one will take the sting away from the chance at a second.

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Kraft tells Larry King he hopes he helped Brady’s appeal

larryking AP

There’s been plenty of talk around the NFL that Patriots owner Robert Kraft decided not to fight the NFL’s Deflategate penalties because the NFL has given a quiet assurance that Tom Brady will get a favorable ruling on the appeal of his four-game suspension. Now a report from Larry King (of all people) indicates that Kraft was thinking along those lines when he decided to accept the NFL’s punishment.

King wrote on Twitter that he talked to Kraft today, and that Kraft told him he’s hoping that accepting the NFL’s penalties will help Brady in his own fight against his four-game suspension.

It’s not often that NFL news is broken by Larry King, but this seems plausible. Even as Kraft has given up the fight against the Patriots’ sanctions, he still steadfastly supports Brady. It would make sense that Kraft would give up the fight against the league primarily because he wants to help Brady.

Although if that is Kraft’s intention, he probably would have preferred that King not tweet about it.

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“Free Tom Brady” rally set for Sunday outside Gillette Stadium

The Destruction Of Tea In Boston Getty Images

Those aggrieved by Tom Brady’s four-game suspension are invited to a rally at a parking lot outside of Gillette Stadium on Sunday, per an announcement on Facebook.

The “Free Tom Brady rally” will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday and will “protest the unjust football arrest of half God half man Tom Brady.”

There is no indication the team has any connection to the rally.

The gathering, according to the announcement, will be “peaceful.”

As of this writing, 375 fans had indicated on Facebook that they would be attending.

One fan wrote: “Can’t be there but best wishes from England!”

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Tyrann Mathieu finally feels “free” after dealing with injuries

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 30:  Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals stands on the field during warm ups prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on November 30, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu had to overcome a lot just to stick in the NFL.

But once he got there, stuff kept happening which kept him from doing what he does best.

But after a series of injuries that limited him, he’s finally well and ready to get back to the player he was in 2013 before a late-season knee injury, which was followed by a broken thumb last year.

It just feels good to be free,” Mathieu said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

“He has a gleam in his eye that I didn’t see at all last year,” coach Bruce Arians said.

That’s saying something, because Mathieu was a playmaker on a good defense as a rookie, before the injuries took a toll on him. He admitted he was tentative last year, not confident in his own health.

“You try to stay as optimistic as possible,” Mathieu said. “But there is a reality to it, too. It’s kind of hard to keep telling yourself it’s going to be all right, especially when we got into the thick of everything last year, thinking that if I was 100 percent, I’d probably be able to help my team a whole lot more than I’m doing right now.”

So instead of playing freely, he worried about making mistakes.

“You play scared because you don’t want to give up a touchdown,” Mathieu said. “Or you play too aggressive because you don’t want to be singled out as if you’re not giving the effort. It’s kind of like the worst of both worlds.

“I’ve never thought about it as hard as I did last year. I was always thinking about something, rather than just going out there to play.”

So the fact he’s out there now, running around in OTAs, is a positive sign. Because when the Honey Badger doesn’t care about making mistakes, he’s at his most dangerous.

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Marcus Mariota has the NFL’s best-selling jersey in May

Marcus Mariota AP

Titans fans are eager to throw their support behind new quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Mariota has the NFL’s best-selling jersey for the month of May, Titans director of finance Stuart Spears told Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.

A study by a sports marketing company also found that Mariota ranks as the 39th most marketable athlete in the world. That may sound rather shocking for a player who hasn’t played a professional game yet, but Mariota was a popular Heisman Trophy winner at Oregon who enters the NFL with a significant fan base. It also helps that Mariota (unlike the only player drafted ahead of him, Jameis Winston) has a squeaky-clean image off the field.

So for now, Mariota is among the NFL’s top stars. But that popularity won’t last long unless he can prove himself on the field.

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On this day in 1985, the NFL ramped up its overseas efforts

2005 American Bowl in Tokyo - NFL Party - August 4, 2005 Getty Images

The NFL’s push to expand its international reach is no secret. Three regular season games are set for London in 2015, and the league has studied Brazil, Germany and Mexico as potential future game sites.

However, the league’s desire to grow its influence beyond the United States isn’t a new development. In fact, we’ve now reached the 30-year mark of the NFL’s serious concerted efforts to go international.

On this day in 1985, league owners approved a plan to play at least one overseas preseason game beginning in 1986, per the NFL’s Record and Fact Book. And beginning with a Bears-Cowboys matchup in London in ’86, the NFL scheduled at least one exhibition in another country for 18 consecutive years, according to footballgeography.com.

The NFL had previously staged preseason games outside of the United States, with a Cardinals-Chargers game in Tokyo in 1976 the first played outside of North America. However, they were not annual events.

But as the 1980s went on, the NFL’s international ambitions broadened. In 1989, the NFL would found and fund the World League of American Football, which lasted 15 seasons before the league decided to focus on staging regular season games outside of the United States.

Now, the NFL International Series has a foothold on the league calendar. The next logical question is whether an internationally based team will follow.

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Pats fan takes belief in Brady’s innocence to the grave

Tom Brady AP

Deflategate has taken a lot out of Tom Brady’s reputation across most of America. But in New England, Brady is as beloved as ever.

In fact, the extent to which some in New England are rallying around Brady has reached new highs — or lows, depending on your perspective.

We now have the late Patricia Shong of Auburn, Massachusetts, who passed away on Monday at the age of 72. Shong’s obituary ran in the local paper and told the story of her life, her family, her career and her favorite activities. And then it included a line about Shong’s continuing support of Brady.

“She would also like us to set the record straight for her: Brady is innocent!!” the obituary says.

That’s a popular sentiment in New England. But this is the first time we’ve heard it expressed from beyond the grave.

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Stephen Ross told Dolphins’ execs to go into win-now mode

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is tired of building for the future. He wants to win now.

That’s the message Ross has given his front office staff from Day One — and even before Day One. Dolphins G.M. Dennis Hickey says that when he was interviewing for the job, Ross said the time to win is now — and Ross vowed to pony up the money to make that happen.

Hickey said on 104.3 The Ticket that everyone in the front office and the coaching staff has been on the same page about the way to build the Dolphins, and that starts from the top, with Ross making clear from the beginning where his expectations were.

We’re a process-driven organization,” Hickey said, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “Part of the process is collaboration, getting our coaches together with our scouts and getting them together to do their due diligence. The process is about making good, sound decisions that make sense.”

The Dolphins spent a fortune to sign Ndamukong Suh, and they’ve also spent a lot on players including Ryan Tannehill, Mike Pouncey, Cameron Wake, Branden Albert, Brent Grimes and Jordan Cameron. Those moves may help the Dolphins win now, but a day of reckoning is coming. Next year, the Dolphins are projected to be $17 million over the cap — putting them in by far the worst cap shape for 2016 of any team in the NFL. If the Dolphins don’t win now, they may regret the way they’ve structured their salary cap — because all those expensive contracts are going to make it harder to make more big moves in the future.

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