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HBO will change the Gleason subtitles

Steve Gleason AP

Steve Gleason believes that his words were misinterpreted via subtitles in a rough cut of his Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel profile, which debuts tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET.

And HBO will be changing the subtitles to reflect the words Gleason says that he said.

The subtitles on the rough cut claims that Gleason said:  “The real problem was no one seemed shocked.  There as no discussion of ‘Wow, did we just hear that?’”

Gleason contends that he actually said:  “The group I was with . . . no one seemed shocked.”  (Listening closely to the words without looking at the subtitles, Gleason’s interpretation seems accurate.)

The move comes, we’re told, after a Monday night discussion between Gleason and producers from the show.  As a result, the subtitles will reflect a more narrow view of Gleason’s perceived reaction to Gregg Williams’ cartoonish rant the night before the Saints faced the 49ers in the 2011 postseason.

In context, the change may not matter.  The questions come off as broad, even if the answer (as revised) comes off as narrow and focused on the people who were with Gleason at the meeting, and no one employed by the Saints.

Hee’s the reality — whether the “group” Gleason was with seemed shocked by Williams’ words depends in many respects on the reaction by the rest of the room.  If players and coaches and team employees seem shocked, Gleason’s “group” likely would have picked up on that.  If, in contrast, the Saints personnel were flabbergasted by Williams’ words, Gleason’s group likely would have caught some of that, too.

In a roundabout way, Gleason’s quote as narrowed is a slap at the stated motivations of the filmmaker who has claimed that he ultimately released the audio against Gleason’s wishes because the filmmaker was so troubled by what he heard.  In the immediate aftermath, per Gleason, the filmmaker wasn’t even shocked.

We’re not shocked that Gleason would be inclined to walk a fine line.  The Saints have been very good to him.  There’s no reason for him to gratuitously turn on the organization.

Still, the distinction between what he said and what HBO thought he said ultimately may reflect no practical difference.

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Ware out with bruised leg bone

Ware AP

Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware suffered a lower leg injury during practice on Sunday.  He was held out of practice on Monday, with coach John Fox calling it a bruised leg.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Ware actually has a bruised bone in his leg.  The source says that Ware nevertheless should be fine, and that the injury is not serious.

Ware has played through many injuries during his NFL career, which until this season had unfolded entirely with the Cowboys.  If healthy, Ware can make a big difference in the Denver defense.

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Raiders sign safety Jeremy Deering

Rutgers Scarlet Knights v Arkansas Razorbacks Getty Images

The Raiders added an extra safety on Monday, announcing the signing of rookie Jeremy Deering, an undrafted free agent from Rutgers.

Deering (6-1, 209) played 48 games (18 starts) for the Scarlet Knights, playing multiple positions. In 2013, he transitioned to free safety from wide receiver and started 10 games on defense. The 23-year-old Deering also has experience returning kickoffs.

Deering had a brief stint with the Patriots in May before being waived.

Deering is one of six available safeties on the Raiders’ roster. A seventh player at the position, Usama Young, is on the active/physically unable to perform list. Young has a quad injury.

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Jets’ Calvin Pace: We’re the best defense in the NFL

New York Jets v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Jets linebacker Calvin Pace says he’s part of the best defense in football.

“[Compared to] the rest of the defenses in the NFL? S—, man, we’re the best,” Pace told the New York Daily News. “You ask anybody around the league, we’re not the team you want to see coming in, even in a down year.”

A lot of people in Seattle (among several NFL locales) would disagree with that statement, but Pace believes opposing offenses fear coach Rex Ryan’s defense more than any other.

“There’s a certain type of aggression when we come . . . you know we’re going to come with a lot of stuff and teams don’t want to see that,” Pace said. “They want to see a vanilla defense, that just lines up and you know where they’re going to be. . . . I’ll take these guys and Rex and this system any day.”

If you’re keeping track of the Jets’ bold statements in training camp, Pace joins Dee Milliner proclaiming himself the best cornerback in the NFL, Ryan calling David Harris the most underrated linebacker in the NFL and Ryan describing himself as “a great coach.” (Ryan did modestly acknowledge that he may not be the best coach of all time.)

If the Jets are half as good as they think they are, they’ll be a playoff team.

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NFL paying attention to influence of high-stakes fantasy football leagues

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Risking money, whatever the amount, on the outcome of NFL games constitutes gambling.  Risking money, whatever the amount, on the outcome of the performance of specific players in NFL games does not constitute gambling.

Playing fantasy football for money isn’t gambling because Congress has decided that “an outcome that reflects the relative knowledge of the participants, or their skill at physical reaction or physical manipulation [but not chance], and, in the case of a fantasy or simulation sports game, has an outcome that is determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of sporting events” isn’t gambling.

Obviously, the same kind of skill needed to predict the winners of NFL games applies when projecting the performances of individual players.  In many ways, a fantasy football team resembles a convoluted parlay card, where the non-gambling gambler tries to compile a roster of players who will “win” more yards and points than the team put together by an opposing non-gambling gambler.

The hair-splitting and nonsensical distinction from Congress has made gambling on fantasy football as legal as gambling on stocks, which has spawned an industry that includes some very high-stakes fantasy leagues, some of which undoubtedly include NFL players.  But while it’s only a matter of time before word emerges of the involvement of NFL players in six-figure fantasy leagues, another potential complication could emerge when it comes to the non-gambling gambling of large amounts of money on fantasy football.

Peter King of TheMMQB.com explains that, during his training-camp tour, he has caught wind of “undue pressure some players and coaches feel from big-money fantasy-football players.”  Writes King, “I had one coach tell me there’s so much money in some of these fantasy-football playoff pools that people who used to gamble with bookies illegally are now gambling in high-stakes fantasy-football leagues, which is not illegal.” King adds that the “NFL has its antennae up over this, and it’ll be interesting to see if the pressure escalates to more serious threats on players or coaches.”

Interesting, and incredibly alarming.  Although physical threats against those responsible for poor player performances are possible, it seems more likely that those who would consider breaking the law to express displeasure in losing large amounts of money would be far more inclined to break the law in order to win large amounts of money.

In what would be a bizarre twist on point shaving, coaches and players could in theory be bribed to ensure that certain players will generate significant production, or that certain players will be shut down.  Getting to coaches and assistant coaches who control the offensive game plan would be the most efficient approach.  It also would help to grease defenders who would be inclined to slip on an invisible banana peel, springing a specific player for a touchdown or two.  Or four.

The league, which generates significant profit and attention both directly and indirectly from fantasy football, should be concerned about the potential for corruption.  Even if playing fantasy football for significant amounts of money isn’t illegal, at a certain point the money in the balance will open the door for all sorts of illegal activity.

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Pierre Garçon leaves practice after hamstring tweak

Pierre Garcon AP

During wide receiver Pierre Garçon’s first season with the Redskins, he missed time with a foot injury that hampered him even after he returned to the lineup in the second half of the season.

Garçon knows about the problems caused by lingering injuries as a result and he’s trying to make sure he doesn’t have to deal with another one this year. Garçon reached for his right hamstring after making a catch in practice on Monday and then went to the sideline for the remainder of the session. After it was over, Garçon told reporters that he wasn’t sure when he would return but that he felt sure it wasn’t a major injury.

“Just being smart. There’s no real need to keep playing through it right now, early in the season. Just got to be smart and get it healed up,” Garçon said, via CSNWashington.com.  “No need to really rush it, or trying put everything to the wall right now. It is the first week of training camp.”

The Redskins don’t practice on Tuesday, so Wednesday would be the earliest return date for Garçon. Given his value to the offense and experience, an extra day or two to make sure that all is well might not be a bad idea.

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Raiders G.M.: Khalil Mack is like Clay Matthews

Khalil Mack AP

It’s early, obviously. And it might be wishful thinking.

But the Raiders clearly have high expectations for first-rounder Khalil Mack.

According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie is comparing his newest linebacker to one of the best pass-rushers in the game.

He’s reminded me of Clay Matthews from Day 1,” McKenzie said, referring to Clay III, the Packer, and not the long-time Browns linebacker. “He’s one of those guys that knows how to set the edge, and he has length and power and some tools to rush the passer.

“He’s got that first step, he can bend, he’s relentless.”

McKenize was working in Green Bay when the Packers drafted Matthews in the first round, and said that intensity is something they saw in Mack this year.

“That’s what Clay was, you don’t have tell him to go sic ‘em,” McKenzie said. “He just innately does that. Khalil is that same way.”

“It’s hard to find guys that are skillful that have that innate ability.”

If Mack has the same kind of instant impact (Matthews had 23.5 sacks his first two seasons, and 50.0 in five), the Raiders will be delighted. They out enough solid veterans into their defensive mix that adding that kind of spark could make them respectable quickly.

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Griffin says Titans are a “different team” now

Griffin Getty Images

After a failed 2013 season, Titans tight end Delanie Walker claimed that six or seven of his teammates were cancers, sparking a stream of reactions as people like coach Ken Whisenhunt said the concerns should have been kept in house, cornerback Jason McCourty and receiver Nate Washington said Walker should have called a team meeting, and now-former Titans running back Chris Johnson (who may have been one of the tumors to whom Walker was referring) said Walker should have named names.

Now, Titans safety Michael Griffin has voiced concerns similar to Walker’s, with slightly less inflammatory language — and slightly less flair than teammate Bernard Pollard, who has declared that the Titans “sucked butt” last year.

It’s a different team now,” Griffin said, via Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com.  “It’s a different team in the fact that it’s different all the way around.  You see this team in a positive direction, aimed in the right direction. The guys we’ve brought in the last two years, the coaching staff — all of this you can see where this team can go. . . .  It’s a different mood when you come here.  You’re just excited and ready to play football.  [Before] you just had a lot of guys that had other things on their minds.  Other things were more important.  They were just happy to be here rather than more happy to win football games. That being said, the guys who are here [now] want to play football.”

Griffin didn’t say who those guys with “other things on their minds” were or what those “other things” were.  But his views mesh with Walker’s, and it’s good news for a franchise that by all appearances has struggled to find its way since blowing the No. 1 seed via a division-round home loss to the Ravens in January 2009.  If Griffin is right, the Titans may be finding their way again.

It would help to find an answer at quarterback.

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Adrian Peterson may not play in the preseason

Adrian Peterson AP

On Monday, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson promised that the Vikings offense will be less predictable than it has been in the past few seasons.

Peterson said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that “you won’t be able to write” the same stories about the lack of versatility in the Vikings’ offense. Based on coach Mike Zimmer’s own comments Monday, the team won’t be providing many hints about Peterson’s role in the new scheme until the regular season.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Zimmer said there is “nothing to see” from Peterson in the preseason that the team needs to prepare for the season. Zimmer allowed that Peterson may make a cameo appearance if the running back feels it will benefit him to see action in a preseason game, but it doesn’t look like the coaching staff views it as any kind of a priority.

Whatever the Vikings offense winds up looking like this season, Peterson is going to be playing a major role in it. The injury risks involved with playing Peterson, then, are pretty great when the rewards for preseason reps are going to be low for a player of his stature. There are more rewards to be found in giving the rest of the offensive players work, though, and that sounds like the priority in Minnesota this summer.

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Looney becomes the wildcard in Alex Boone holdout

Looney Reuters

As the holdout of 49ers guard Alex Boone lingers, the team’s resolve or lack thereof will hinge on the performance of his replacement, Joe Looney.

So far, so good.  So the 49ers say.

Coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters on Sunday that Looney has had “some ‘wow’ moments” in practice.

“One in particular, I was like, ‘Wow.’  He pulled, he was on a track, he was square, he delivered a blow,” Harbaugh said.  “Good things.”

Boone’s ongoing no-show isn’t a good thing, but there’s no obvious middle ground for player and team.  The team wants Boone to show up before they’ll talk to him about a new contract.  He doesn’t want to show up until he gets the new contract.

A fourth-round pick in 2012, Looney is perhaps best known for a low hit in a preseason game last year on former Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams.  Looney claimed in the aftermath of the incident that he’s not a dirty player.

Now the 49ers need him to be a good player, clean or dirty or otherwise.

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Panthers optimistic about Kelvin Benjamin’s MRI

Kelvin Benjamin AP

Losing Kelvin Benjamin would be a potential disaster for the Panthers.

So the fact they’re not freaking out about his “precautionary MRI” is probably a good sign.

Benjamin was sent back to Charlotte for tests after banging knees with a teammate Sunday afternoon. He finished practice and signed autographs afterward, so there was no early sign of panic.

“It could just be one of those things where if he had iced it right away and not finished [Sunday’s] practice, maybe it would have been better,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, via Black and Blue Review. “If it’s negative we’ll just keep on rolling. I’m optimistic that is what it’s going to be.”

There’s also some video of Benjamin riding around campus on a comically small minibike (or maybe he’s just so big it looks like something a clown would ride in the circus).

“We want to be smart with it,” Rivera said. “He came in this morning and [head trainer Ryan Vermillion] just wanted to be careful with him.”

They need to be, since he’s got the most potential to become a big-play threat of any of the Panthers’ odd lot of receivers.

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Giants want Eli Manning to complete 70 percent of his passes

eli AP

The Giants are setting a high goal for Eli Manning’s completion percentage this season. A very high goal.

Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf told reporters today that he wants Manning to reach a 70 percent completion rate this season.

Frankly, that’s preposterous. Manning completed just 57.5 percent of his passes last season, and his career completion percentage is 58.5 percent. The highest rate he’s ever had in any season was 2010, when he completed 62.9 percent of his passes. Unless the Giants are planning an offense that consists of nothing more than dump-offs to running backs, the idea that a career 58.5 percent passer is suddenly going to become a 70 percent passer is silly.

A 70 percent completion rate has only been reached five times in NFL history: Twice by Drew Brees and once each by Ken Anderson, Steve Young and Joe Montana. It’s less common than a 5,000-yard passing season or a 2,000-yard rushing season.

Maybe the Giants also have a goal for Rashad Jennings to rush for 2,000 yards this year. But that goal wouldn’t be any more unrealistic than Manning completing 70 percent of his passes.

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PFT Live: Jets talk with Manish Mehta, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Rex Ryan AP

PFT Live is back this Monday with your daily dose of football news and information and we’ll be kicking things off with a look at Jets training camp.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News will join Mike Florio for a discussion of how things are shaping up for Rex Ryan’s sixth season as the team’s head coach. Mehta will give us the latest on the Geno Smith/Michael Vick competition for the quarterback job, first-round pick Calvin Pryor’s concussion and the other notable developments from the first few days of practice.

All 32 teams are in camp, so there’s plenty to talk about around the rest of the league as well. PFT Planet can let us know which areas are of the most interest by sending in questions for Florio on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or by giving a call to 888-237-5269 during the show.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Lions activate Golden Tate from PUP list

Golden Tate AP

The Lions opened up training camp without wide receiver Golden Tate on the practice field as a result of a shoulder injury that he suffered during the spring, but Tate was sure that he’d be an active participant before too much more of the summer was gone.

Tate was proven correct on Monday. The Lions have activated him from the Physically Unable to Perform list and the team’s biggest free agent addition is expected to take part in his first camp practice as a member of the Lions.

Tate’s return to practice will allow him to speed up the process of familiarizing himself with the offense being installed by offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi this offseason. Coach Jim Caldwell said, via the Detroit Free Press, that quarterback Matthew Stafford has shown good command of the offense and getting the guys catching his passes on the same page will be an important next step of the process in Detroit.

Defensive end Ziggy Ansah and rookie wide receiver T.J. Jones remain on the PUP list as the Lions open up their first full week of camp.

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Chip Kelly: Draft hype is worst thing about the NFL

2014 NFL Draft Getty Images

There’s no question that the NFL loves the draft and all they hype that goes along with it.

They’ve added days to the process, moved it to prime time and pushed it further back in the calendar to expand the amount of eyes taking in the move from college to the pros for the top prospects in the land. They spend plenty of time and money to promote the event each year and get even more free publicity from around the country as mock drafts and draftniks help whet everyone’s appetite for the selections, a hyperbolic process that inevitably leads to huge expectations for players a few years removed from high school.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly has gone through the process twice on the NFL side and he doesn’t share the league’s fondness for the event.

“What’s the worst thing about the league? I said the draft. I mean, the hype that goes into the draft is insane. Totally insane,” Kelly said, via Peter King of TheMMQB.com. “The biggest thing for me is that everybody thinks whoever you drafted or whoever you signed is now gonna be a savior. They come in just like me and you come in as freshmen in high school or freshmen in college, or your first year on the job at Sports Illustrated – you’re not telling people what to do, you’re just trying to figure out what room to go to.”

“I think a lot of times the hype turns into really, really hard times for the individual who got picked, because there’s so many expectations of everyone building them up to be Superman because they had three months to write about them and talk about them. Then when they get picked, they’re a very, very good prospect, but there’s a learning curve when you go from any job out of college into a company. If you take a job at Wells Fargo when you get out of college, your first day of the job they don’t say, ‘He’s our first-round draft pick, he’s the savior to the company!’”

Kelly went on to add the NFLPA’s Rookie Premiere event, post-draft grades and just about everything short of the food in the Eagles’ war room onto the list of things he doesn’t like about the draft process. Kelly’s either going to have to grin and bear it or find somewhere else to coach, though.

While the draft came into existence as a way for teams to add young players to their rosters, it has gradually become a television show devoted to promoting the league and a new crop of future stars. That creates an industry for people trying to make it seem like there’s a science, rather than educated guessing, to picking 21-year-olds who will become great 26-year-old football players and a message that the moves made over seven rounds in the spring can profoundly change the fortunes of a team in the fall.

With those conditions in place, hype is an unavoidable byproduct and it is one that isn’t going anywhere.

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Buccaneers sweating it out this training camp

Buccaneers Camp Football AP

Most of the other teams in the steamy part of the country are going early or late (or to West Virginia) to avoid the heat.

But the Buccaneers are charging right into the teeth of it, practicing in the swelter of the afternoon.

According to JoeBucsFan.com, the heat index for today’s 1 p.m. practice is scheduled to hit 100 degrees.

 

Bucs coach Lovie Smith has talked about using the heat to play into their home field advantage this fall, and most of their practices are scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are having most of their workouts in the morning, while the Saints headed to the mountains of West Virginia where the conditions are fall-like.
We’ll see if it works to Smith’s advantage this year, or whether his team is wiped out in camp and has little left for the regular season.

 

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