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Roethlisberger expects Wallace to be up to speed quickly

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With all signs pointing to wide receiver Mike Wallace finally reporting to the Steelers this weekend, it looks like we can stop wondering about when he’ll decide to get back to work.

And we can start wondering about how quickly he’ll be able to get up to speed after missing the entire offseason. During preseason action, we’ve seen some clear differences in Todd Haley’s offense from the one Wallace played in last season. That could mean a slow transition, although quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reports that Wallace has a copy of the playbook that will help him hit the ground running.

“I guess it could be a little bit of a challenge. But if he’s putting the work in that I think and he’s telling me he’s doing, he’ll be fine,” Roethlisberger said, via Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times. “He’s been working out and working, not just on his conditioning and his strength, but working also on the offense.”

Any full contemplation of Wallace’s readiness will have to wait until he actually arrives, but one thought does leap immediately to mind. The one thing that hasn’t been part of the Steelers offense under Haley has been the deep ball, something that could be missing because Wallace hasn’t been in the lineup. Even if Wallace doesn’t have a full grasp of the offense when the regular season begins, the threat of him running deep could open up things underneath for Antonio Brown and others.

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The artist formerly known as Evan Dietrich-Smith shortens name

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Ndamukong Suh won’t have Evan Dietrich-Smith to kick around anymore.

And neither will anyone else.

The Buccaneers announced the offensive lineman would heretofore be known as Evan Smith, which was the name he went by until college.

He signed with the Buccaneers last offseason, after a stint with the Packers best known for being stomped on by the former Lions defensive tackle, who is now in Miami.

No explanation was given for the change, though we can only presume he was not adopted by Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith.

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Marv Hubbard passes away at age 68

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Former NFL fullback Marv Hubbard, a key cog for the 1970s Raiders, passed away Monday at age 68, the Raiders said.

A three-time Pro Bowler with Oakland (1971, 1972, 1973), Hubbard rushed for 4,544 yards and 23 touchdowns in eight NFL seasons. An 11th-round pick from Colgate, Hubbard played his first seven pro campaigns with the Raiders (1969-1975) before finishing his career with the Lions in 1977.

“He was a hard runner,” former Raiders head coach John Madden said of Hubbard in a statement issued by the club. “We used to use him — you think back now, people don’t do things like this, but we used to run him early to kind of wear the defense down and then in the middle we would pass and do all our stuff, and then when we got ahead we would run him to finish the game. He was a great game finisher.

“Once we got that lead, you weren’t going to get it back again. You weren’t going to get the lead back again. You weren’t going to get the ball back again, and we had the defense worn down, and we just kept feeding Marv Hubbard, and Marv Hubbard loved that part of football.”

Hubbard had been dealing with prostate cancer, his wife, Virginia, told the Bay Area News Group.

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Shonn Greene missing Titans voluntary work due to family obligations

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The Titans selected running back David Cobb in the fifth round of the draft and the arrival of the big back was seen as bad news for Shonn Greene’s future in Tennessee.

It doesn’t look like he’ll be able to convince anyone otherwise during the team’s voluntary work this offseason. Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com reports that Greene has not been with the team since their workouts started two weeks ago.

Per Kuharsky, Greene is spending time with his three-week-old son and spoke to the team about the need to handle his paternal obligations. He is expected to take part in the team’s mandatory minicamp next month.

Cobb joins last year’s leading rusher Bishop Sankey, Greene, Antonio Andrews and Lache Seastrunk on the running back depth chart in Tennessee. Greene has run for 687 yards on 171 carries in two years with the Titans and is set to make $3.5 million in 2015, all but $833,000 of which the Titans would get back under the cap if they parted ways with the veteran.

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Eric Weddle: I’m not coming in until Chargers do something

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The Chargers have been working out without safety Eric Weddle for the last couple of weeks and it looks like they’ll continue to be without one of their top defensive players.

Weddle is in the final year of his deal and wants a new contract with the Chargers, something that General Manager Tom Telesco said he has “no doubt” they’ll be discussing now that the draft is over. Until those discussions pick up steam, however, Weddle said he’ll be doing his work apart from the team.

“I’m not coming in anytime soon until something on their side is said,” Weddle said during an appearance with Dan Sileo of The Mighty 1090. “They know where we’re at and they obviously know their stance, so we’ll see what happens from there.”

Weddle said that he’s been in contact with defensive coordinator John Pagano about changes to the team’s defensive playbook and the team doesn’t have any mandatory work until minicamp starts on June 16. That leaves some time to start working toward an agreement that would keep Weddle from deciding whether he wants to risk fines as part of his push for a new deal.

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Falcons reach deals with 19 undrafted free agents

Terron Ward AP

The brother of a Pro Bowl safety is among 19 undrafted free agents who have reached deals with the Falcons.

Oregon State’s Terron Ward, the brother of Broncos standout safety T.J. Ward, is the lone running back among the undrafted free agents announced by Atlanta on Tuesday.

Ward (5-7, 201) rushed for a career-high 696 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Beavers in 2014. He suffered a season-ending torn meniscus in Oregon State’s upset of Arizona State in November.

Ward will aim to stick in a Falcons backfield that includes fellow rookie Tevin Coleman and veterans Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith.

The Falcons also reached agreements with the following rookie free agents: North Texas linebacker Derek Akunne, Tarleton State defensive tackle Chris Brown, Central Oklahoma wide receiver Marquez Clark, Azusa Pacific offensive lineman Cody Clay, Louisville safety Terell Floyd, Northern Arizona tight end Beau Gardner, Wisconsin defensive tackle Warren Herring, Fort Valley State cornerback Mike Lee, Cincinnati offensive tackle Eric Lefeld, Oregon linebacker Derrick Malone, Houston defensive tackle Joey Mbu, Central Florida cornerback Jordan Ozerities, Florida Atlantic safety Damian Parms, Ottawa University wide receiver Joshua Stangby, Auburn safety Robenson Therezie, New Mexico State center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, Texas Central cornerback Kevin White and Indiana wide receiver Shane Wynn.

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PFT Live: Jake Fisher, PFT Planet calls and tweets

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The Bengals picked two offensive tackles with their first two picks in the draft and one of them will join Mike Florio on PFT Live Wednesday.

Jake Fisher was Cincinnati’s second-round pick and we’ll find out how his first few days as a member of the organization have gone. We’ll also see if he’ll share any of the team’s plans for him during his rookie season and get his reaction to Andrew Whitworth’s public comments about the team drafting players who could be replacing him in the lineup.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. Email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour of the show by clicking right here.

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LeSean McCoy: Chip Kelly got rid of “all the good black players”

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Bills running back LeSean McCoy isn’t backing down from the idea that he and Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s relationship is the reason for his departure, saying Kelly didn’t like or respect stars.

And he doubled down on those comments by making a serious allegation.

In an interview with ESPN the Magazine, McCoy said Kelly was uncomfortable with him, with an uncomfortable reason for it.

“The relationship was never really great,” McCoy said. “I feel like I always respected him as a coach. I think that’s the way he runs his team. He wants the full control. You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That’s the truth. There’s a reason. . . .

“It’s hard to explain with him. But there’s a reason he got rid of all the black players — the good ones — like that.”

McCoy didn’t elaborate, and the Eagles didn’t comment on the statement, which they’re inevitably going to have to do.

McCoy’s statements track along with the accusation/non-accusation of ESPN talker Stephen A. Smith in March, who suggested the same sinister motive.

Kelly’s approach to running off stars seems color-blind, considering the way he openly taunted guard Evan Mathis last weekend, saying no one has offered to trade for him in two years.

But clearly, McCoy has a problem with Kelly that goes beyond skin deep.

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Gregory makes permanent commitment to Cowboys

Gregory

Five days ago, the Cowboys drafted defensive end Randy Gregory.  Much longer than five days from now, the Cowboys will be part of Gregory.

Gregory’s forearm carries a large tattoo in the shape of the star the Cowboys wear on their helmets.

“This journey is a marathon, not a sprint!!” Gregory proclaimed in the message with the photo that he posted on Twitter.

He’s right.  But a tattoo is permanent, unless someone wants to take much more time than it took to get the tattoo to get it removed.  And in today’s NFL, rarely does a player spend his entire career with one team.

But at least Gregory is likely to be with the Cowboys longer than Stevan Ridley will be with the Jets — and Ridley already has a Jets tattoo.

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Cam Newton’s diploma going next to his Heisman Trophy

Cam Newton AP

As you might imagine, Cam Newton is still a pretty big deal on campus at Auburn.

So much so, that he’s passing on his graduation so he doesn’t take away from others on their big day.

Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, the Panthers quarterback told the school newspaper there that he was skipping the ceremony after finishing his degree this semester.

“Number one, I don’t think walking really solidifies anything for me,” Newton said. “I have pretty much conquered the main reason why I’m here, and all I really need is a degree. Plus, I don’t want to take away anything from the people already graduating. After seeing the response coming from class, I wouldn’t want to take anything away from another person’s [graduation day].“

Twitter photos of Newton are common as he walks through campus, so the graduation selfies would have probably been out of control. But for Newton, the achievement is still as significant as anything he’s done on the football field.

“When I do get my diploma, I’m going to put it right above my mom’s door, so she knows her words were not in vain,” Newton said. “All my awards that mean the world to me are implanted [in her house], and this is no different. If anything, it’s going right along next to the Heisman.”

Newton also said he hopes to put his degree in sociology to good use when he’s through playing, with hopes of opening a day care center.

“As I get more educated about sociology, and education as a whole, shame on me if I don’t use my influence in a positive way,” Newton said. “Someone may look at my situation and say, ‘He may be financially set, but yet he’s bettering himself.’ Maybe I can encourage somebody else who is in my situation or is down and out [to] always strive for a better you and that’s what this was pretty much all about: making myself better.”

And as he does so, he’s letting the rest of the graduates enjoy their moment in the spotlight as well.

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Chris Johnson wants to be a Cowboy

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Some people don’t want to be a Cowboy. Others do.

Veteran running back Chris Johnson does. Via the Dallas Morning News, Johnson recently made his pitch to be signed by the Cowboys in a sidewalk interview with TMZ.

I’d fit good in Dallas,” Johnson said.  “They need it.  Yeah. That’s what we’re trying to do. . . . Dallas, come holler at me.”

Johnson has been working out since being cut by the Jets and then shot in the shoulder. At last word, Johnson still had the bullet in his body.

A first-round pick in the same year recent Dallas hire Darren McFadden entered the league, Johnson had six straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Titans, one of which saw Johnson pass 2,000 yards. With McFadden and Randle at the top of the depth chart, it’s hard not to think Johnson would make them better at the position.

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Report: Giants “in the mix” for La’el Collins

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We’re starting to get more of an idea about the teams that are potential landing spots for La’El Collins as an undrafted free agent and the group reportedly includes the Giants.

Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that the Giants are “in the mix” for the prospective first-round pick who was passed over by all 32 teams many times because teams were uncomfortable drafting him while police in Baton Rouge wanted to speak to him as part of a double murder investigation. Collins had that conversation with police on Monday and is not a suspect in the case.

“We thought about La’El the whole draft because he was sitting up there,” vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. “But we were gonna pass on that.”

The Giants took tackle Ereck Flowers with their first-round pick, but Raanan reports that they see Collins as a guard at the NFL level. With underwhelming play across the line last season, Collins would join Flowers as a serious contender for early playing time wherever he might wind up if he landed in Jersey.

Should pursuit of Collins progress to following the Dolphins’ players lead and sending former LSU teammates to talk to him, the Giants could enlist last year’s first-round pick Odell Beckham to do some recruiting. The team can’t send any officials to meet with Collins on campus until May 9.

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#DeflateGate investigation still lingers

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The encore for Ted Wells officially has run longer than his debut.

As noted by NFL Media’s Albert Breer, the Wells-led investigation into the #DeflateGate scandal has now consumed more time than the investigation conducted by Wells regarding the Dolphins bullying scandal. In Miami, Wells’ work was done in 100 days; his latest project is at 103 days and counting.

While the two situations have many differences, the Dolphins scandal required interviews of many people and a review of thousands of text messages, followed by an effort to harmonize conflicts in the information provided by witnesses and to explore and explain other incidents that emerged as Wells examined the allegations that resulted in former Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin leaving the team abruptly in late October 2013. The question of whether the Patriots deliberately deflated footballs used during the AFC championship game against the Colts would seem on the surface to entail a far less complex set of facts and a far more narrow universe of potential witnesses and evidence.

In fairness to Wells, the NFL emphasized upon hiring him that there would be no timetable on his work. But did anyone expect that his work would last into May?

Commissioner Roger Goodell has repeatedly said that the report from Wells is coming soon. It’s unclear whether the NFL will release the report publicly before Goodell determines the penalties, if any, that will be imposed as a result of the findings.

Regardless, the ultimate bad-news dump comes in 16 days: The Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. The only thing keeping the report from being released then could be the league’s sensitivity to the perception that it tries to bury bad news into the final hours of the work week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And I’m not giving up.”

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

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

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

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

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Old Dominion QB Taylor Heinicke among Vikings rookie free agent signings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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