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PFT’s Week One picks

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With the start of the NFL regular season comes the start of a new picks competition.  This year, MDS will pit his prognostication skills against the proprietor of this portal.  At least I can proudly say I’m currently tied for the lead at 0-0.

And given that we disagree on only one game, I’m guaranteed to be no more than one game back after one week.

Cowboys at Giants

Florio’s take:  That Dallas playoff win by the Giants in 2007 not only fueled a Super Bowl run but also sparked the first of seven wins by New York in nine games against their NFC East rivals.  Underestimated by many (not me) as they try to become the first team to repeat in nearly a decade, the Giants should be able to continue the string of eight straight defending champs who launch the ensuing season with a win.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 30, Cowboys 24.

MDS’s take: I’m tempted to pick the upset in an attempt to put some distance between myself and Florio right off the bat, but this looks like a tough game for the Cowboys to win. The Giants’ pass rush is going to give Tony Romo fits, and Romo likely won’t have his favorite target, tight end Jason Witten. The Super Bowl champions will begin the 2012 regular season the way they ended the 2011 regular season, by beating the Cowboys.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Cowboys 14.

Colts at Bears

Florio’s take:  In 1961, a far less heralded rookie quarterback who would become a Hall of Famer launched his career with the Vikings (and the life of an expansion team) with a win over the Bears.  Though the Colts in many ways feel like a first-year franchise, lightning likely won’t be striking again, 51 years later.  Andrew Luck looks to be the real thing, but he’ll have to wait for a Week Two visit from the Vikings to get his first NFL win.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 27, Colts 13.

MDS’s take: Andrew Luck has looked outstanding in the preseason, but I’m not falling into the trap of thinking a new franchise quarterback means the Colts are going to pick up right where they left off when Peyton Manning was healthy. Even if Luck is outstanding when the games count for real, the Colts have all kinds of problems on defense, and I like Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte to have big games on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Colts 17.

Eagles at Browns

Florio’s take:  A reunion of the Green Bay mafia will be conducted on Sunday, with various branches of the Mike Holmgren tree coming together in Cleveland.  But the Factory of Sadness will likely continue to churn out chagrin for the denizens of the Dawg Pound.  Though Mike Vick may not be able to stay healthy all season, he’ll be ready go to in Week One.  And so will the rest of his teammates.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 35, Browns 20.

MDS’s take: I’m not sold on the Eagles, but I am sold on the Browns — sold on the idea that they’re the worst team in the league this year. It’s going to be a rough season in Cleveland.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 17, Browns 7.

Rams at Lions

Florio’s take:  Even when the Rams won the Super Bowl, they couldn’t win in Detroit.  Now that the Lions are moving closer to a Super Bowl berth of their own, this one could get ugly.  Quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Rams 10.

MDS’s take: Jeff Fisher is going to turn the Rams around, and they’re going to be a much better team this season than they were last season. An upset over the team coached by Fisher’s old protege Jim Schwartz wouldn’t surprise me, but I’ll pick Detroit in a nail-biter.

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Rams 20.

Dolphins at Texans

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins won’t truly experience Hard Knocks until they get a look at the Texans’ defense.  I rarely predict a shutout.  It’s not really all that much of a stretch on this one.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 20, Dolphins 0.

MDS’s take: This looks like Week One’s biggest mismatch. Ryan Tannehill will have a steep learning curve adjusting to the NFL, while Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and the Texans’ offense will be in midseason form. This is a beatdown.

MDS’s pick: Texans 34, Dolphins 7.

Falcons at Chiefs

Florio’s take:  Last year, I had a feeling that the much-hyped Falcons wouldn’t fare well on a Week One trip to the Midwest, against the Bears.  This year, the Falcons are on the road to the Heartland again, against the Chiefs.  But they’ve got too much firepower, notwithstanding the firewater-influenced fanatics at Arrowhead.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Chiefs 24.

MDS’s take: Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel has expressed disappointment with his team’s performance in the preseason, and with good reason.  The Chiefs have looked shaky on both sides of the ball. Kansas City
got off to a very rough start last season and never recovered, and the start of this season could be rough as well.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Chiefs 10.

Jaguars at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The battle for Matt Barkley would have been a hell of a lot more compelling in Week 17.  When the talent level is equally suspect, the home team gets the edge.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 20, Jaguars 17.

MDS’s take: Who’s more likely to play and play well in this one, Maurice Jones-Drew or Adrian Peterson? Jones-Drew is healthy and says he’s been staying in shape, but one week isn’t enough to completely learn an offense after a lengthy holdout, and I see Jones-Drew struggling early this season in much the same way Chris Johnson did last season. Peterson didn’t play at all in the preseason, but from all accounts he has recovered from last year’s season-ending torn ACL, and I like him to have a big game in Week One.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 23, Jaguars 16.

Redskins at Saints

Florio’s take:  In a May appearance on PFT Live, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan joked that he hoped Saints quarterback Drew Brees would be suspended for Week One.  That would have been Washington’s only chance to steal a win in a Superdome that will be rocking almost as loud as it was the night they reopened the place in 2006.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 38, Redskins 22.

MDS’s take: The Saints feel like they have a point to prove, and they’ll be motivated, and the Superdome will be a hostile environment for Robert Griffin III. I think the Redskins’ offense is going to be better than most people expect, and they’ll put some points on the board against the Saints, but Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense will score more.

MDS’s pick: Saints 27, Redskins 24.

Bills at Jets

Florio’s take:  Lost in the hand-wringing regarding the Jets’ offense is the fact that the defense is still pretty good.  Good enough to outscore a Bills team that, while improving, isn’t ready to steal one on the road to start the season.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 15, Bills 10.

MDS’s take: This looks to me like one of the most interesting matchups of Week One, because the Jets are desperate to show that their terrible offensive showing in the preseason didn’t mean anything. Unfortunately for the Jets, I think the Bills, bolstered by the addition of Mario Williams, have exactly the kind of defense that can pressure Mark Sanchez and force him into a multiple-turnover game. The
chants for Tim Tebow be deafening by the end of this game.

MDS’s pick: Bills 10, Jets 3.

Patriots at Titans

Florio’s take:  The last time these two teams got together, the Patriots scored 59, and the Titans scored nothing.  While much has changed in Tennessee since 2009, enough players are still there to remind the teammates and the coaches of that day.  And it would matter if the Titans had the horses of defense to keep up with New England’s offense.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Titans 26.

MDS’s take: The consistency of the Patriots in the salary-cap era in the NFL is nothing short of remarkable. The Patriots look, once again, like one of the best teams in the NFL, and Bill Belichick’s defense will give fits to Titans quarterback Jake Locker, making his first NFL start.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Titans 17.

Seahawks at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals didn’t have a shot at quarterback Russell Wilson, given that they sent their second-round pick to Philadelphia for a quarterback who is now second string.  But coach Ken Whisenhunt may be wishing that the team had traded up six spots to get the Seahawks’ new starter; Wilson looks to be better than anything the Cardinals have at the position, which may be enough to pull off a Week One division road win.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 24, Cardinals 21.

MDS’s take: Russell Wilson emerged as the starter in Seattle after one of the most impressive performances in the NFL preseason, while John Skelton became the starter by default in Arizona because Kevin Kolb was one of the least impressive players in the NFL preseason. Advantage: Seattle.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Cardinals 20.

49ers at Packers

Florio’s take:  When one of the best offenses meets one of the best defenses, the game will turn on how the other offense fares against the other defense.  The Packers defense has improved just enough to hold serve at Lambeau Field in the season opener.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 30, 49ers 27.

MDS’s take: The NFL schedule makers gave us a potential NFC Championship Game preview in Week One, and I see the Packers’ offense picking right up where they left off last year — and the Packers’ defense looking better.

MDS’s pick: Packers 27, 49ers 14.

Panthers at Buccaneers

Florio’s take:  The Bucs are laying the foundation for a very good team.  The Panthers are on the brink of being a very good team.  Cam Newton will be out to prove last year was no fluke, and an improved defense will keep it from turning into a shootout.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 31, Buccaneers 21.

MDS’s take: Cam Newton won’t have a sophomore slump — he’ll be every bit the player this year that he as a rookie, and the Panthers will have a better team around him. Greg Schiano will turn the Bucs around, but there are going to be growing pains along the way, and they’ll struggle against the Panthers’ offense. This will be the Panthers’ first statement that they’re a team to be reckoned with in the NFC.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 30, Buccaneers 14.

Steelers at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Some say this could be the highest-rated regular-season game in NFL history.  Though the 1985 Bears-Dolphins game ultimately may keep the crown, the return of Peyton Manning could set the high-water mark for the entire 2012 season.  He wouldn’t have come back if he couldn’t get it done, and the Steelers have too many issues to come out of the gates with a road win.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Steelers 17.

MDS’s take: This is a rematch of last year’s playoff meeting, but it’s a very different game with Peyton Manning at the helm in Denver and Tim Tebow off running the wildcat with the Jets. The result, however, will be similar: In a close, competitive game, the Broncos’ offense will get a late score to win it.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Steelers 17.

Bengals at Ravens

Florio’s take:  Cincinnati gets its first chance in 2012 to win a game that it shouldn’t.  Though in time those wins will come, the Ravens have too much talent on both sides of the ball.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 31, Bengals 24.

MDS’s take: The Bengals took a big step forward last year with the emergence of a young offense led by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. This is an opportunity for them to make a very big statement about re-ordering the AFC North, but I see the Ravens’ defense making a big statement that they’re not going to let their young rivals get the best of them just yet.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Bengals 13.

Chargers at Raiders

Florio’s take:  Oakland is taking a step back in the hopes of eventually taking a giant leap forward.  The Chargers are trying to finally put the pieces together.  For now, advantage Chargers.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 27, Raiders 21.

MDS’s take: In the game that will have those in the Eastern time zone drinking coffee late into Monday night and showing up to work bleary-eyed on Tuesday morning, the Chargers will get a big game from Philip Rivers and get a leg up on the Raiders in the AFC West.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 27, Raiders 21.

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Eagles sign Canadian rugby player Adam Zaruba

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The Eagles signed a tight end on Monday who will need to brush up on more than just his playbook in order to make the team this summer.

Adam Zaruba is trying to make the jump from a spot on Canada’s national rugby sevens team to a place in the NFL. Zaruba has not played football since he was in high school, but jumped at the chance to try for a switch when it was offered in May and spent the last couple of months working out ahead of a tryout with the Eagles over the weekend.

“It will be a really awesome thing for me as an athlete,” Zaruba said of his chance to try out, via The Province. “The window here is very small.”

At 6’5″ and 265 pounds, Zaruba has plenty of size and his rugby background speaks to his athletic ability. Those traits won’t make up for the lack of experience, but they should be Zaruba’s biggest pluses as he tries to make a big leap.

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PFT preseason power rankings No. 3: Green Bay Packers

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Seven years ago, the Packers barely made it to the playoffs. And then they went on the road for three straight playoff games, made it to the Super Bowl, and won the whole damn thing. Since then, the Packers rarely have had to struggle to get to the postseason, but they’ve been unable to get back to the Super Bowl.

In 2011, a franchise-best 15-1 record evaporated into a one-and-done Lambeau loss to the Giants. In 2012, another division title and a wild-card win led to a shredding in San Francisco by a quarterback now deemed to be unfit to play. The next year resulted in another division title (despite an 8-7-1) record and another home loss, this time to the same team, and the same currently-unemployed quarterback.

The Packers went 12-4 in 2014, culminating in a defeat-snatched-from-victory’s-jaws NFC title game loss in Seattle. The next year, a wild-card berth resulted in an overtime loss in a division-round game for the ages in Arizona. Last year, the Packers caught fire after a 4-6 start and made it to the NFC title game again, running out of steam in Atlanta.

This year, they again sit near the top of the stack as the season approaches. And their CEO believes that, after two NFC title-game appearances in the last three years, this time they’ll punch through, making the short trip across the border and playing for their fifth Super Bowl trophy in the Vikings’ living room. They’ll definitely get at least close. Whether they can finish the job is another issue entirely.

Biggest positive change: Ted Thompson hasn’t signed many free agents over the years, but when tight end Jared Cook made a cash grab, Thompson said sayonara and signed Martellus Bennett. While Bennett may not make a spectacular postseason catch that takes out the Cowboys in Dallas, Bennett likely will be an upgrade, especially since Bennett has had the better overall career. With Cook’s performance perhaps finally persuading Thompson of the value of having a competent pass-catching tight end (something they haven’t had since Jermichael Finley), Bennett becomes the guy who maybe can make the difference for an offense that is loaded at plenty of other positions, primarily the one responsible for throwing the football to guys like Bennett.

Biggest negative change: Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang jumped to the Lions in free agency, months after the Packers dumped guard Josh Sitton and he landed with the Bears. While some would say interior linemen are fungible, it’s not easy to let quality guys like Lang and Sitton (and center JC Tretter) leave and hope that the next man up will help keep the quarterback from being the next man down.

Coaching thermometer: Who the hell knows? The standard for Mike McCarthy doesn’t seem to be the same as it is elsewhere, where a single owner can decide in any given year (or on any given day) that the coach isn’t getting the most out of the roster. In Green Bay, it’s different. Which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether the individual owner would make good or bad decisions about keeping or changing coaches.

But here’s one thing that’s hard to dispute. A traditional owner likely would have pushed Thompson to push McCarthy to push defensive coordinator Dom Capers out the door. And many would say that the consistent failure of the defense to properly complement Rodgers and the offense justifies a new approach during however many years Rodgers has left.

We’d like to have a beer with . . . Mike Daniels. The underrated and outspoken interior defensive lineman would hopefully loosen up and share his insights on what’s going right and what’s going wrong with a Packers team that always gets close but can’t get over the top. Is Rodgers a good leader? Where could he do better?

When Rodgers said last year that the team lacked energy on the sideline and then said there needs to be a healthy fear of getting cut, did the players see that as a shot at McCarthy?

Who isn’t carrying his weight? Is Capers the problem?

It may take more than a few beers to get to the bottom of this one. But we’d sure love to try. Even if I’d be passed out before Daniels begins baring his soul.

How they could prove us wrong: If Bennett and Rodgers simply don’t mix (and their personalities are clearly different), that could create a layer of dysfunction that could make it hard to get through what has been an annual stretch of underachievement and adversity. And if running back Ty Montgomery can’t take the week-in, week-out   pounding now that he has made the full-time switch from receiver, they may regret letting Eddie Lacy walk — and not making a run at Adrian Peterson. Chances are, though, that they’ll still find a way to still be standing when the field is cut to eight or four. The question remains whether they can keep it together when the field gets cut to two.

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Chiefs DL Chris Jones will start on PUP after knee surgery

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Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, according to Chiefs head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.

Jones, who made 11 starts and had 28 tackles and two sacks last season, had arthroscopic knee surgery July 12.

Tight end Travis Kelce, who had offseason shoulder surgery, and linebacker Derrick Johnson, who ruptured his left Achilles tendon last December, will not have to go on the PUP list. Burkholder said Johnson can do a “good bit” already.

Offensive guard Parker Ehinger, who tore an ACL last November, and linebacker Dadi Nicolas, who ruptured his patellar tendon in January, both will start camp on PUP.

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Bills visit with Roy Miller, Devon Still and Leger Douzable

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The Bills had wide receiver Anquan Boldin in for a visit on Monday and he wasn’t the only veteran free agent meeting with the team.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that defensive linemen Roy Miller, Devon Still and Leger Douzable were also in for visits to kick off the week.

It’s the second AFC East visit for Miller this month as the former Jaguar also spent time with the Dolphins recently. He’s coming off a torn Achilles last season. Still, a 2012 second-round pick of the Bengals, played three games for the Texans last season before ending the year on injured reserve.

Douzable is a familiar face to many players in Buffalo after playing in all 16 games and making five starts for the Bills last year. The changes at head coach and General Manager mean that the guys making the call on the roster makeup aren’t as familiar with his work, however.

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Veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers visiting Cardinals

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There are still a few free agents on the market who can be of service to teams, but time is drawing short to get them into camp.

One of them appears to be closer to finding a home.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, former Chargers and Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers is visiting the Cardinals Wednesday.

He has also received some interest for the Patriots, and had contact with the Steelers early in free agency.

The 31-year-old Flowers finished last year on injured reserve with the latest in a series of concussions, which led to some concerns about his future.

The Cardinals are looking for answers at their number two corner spot, and coach Bruce Arians has declared the competition “wide open.” They apparently are opening it up beyond the options on the current roster.

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Eagles will “continue to look” for cornerbacks during camp

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The Eagles made some roster moves on Sunday to set up their roster for training camp and two of them included cornerbacks.

They cut Dwayne Gratz and placed second-round pick Sidney Jones on the non-football injury list. The Jones move was expected after he tore his Achilles in a pre-draft workout while Gratz’ departure left the team without much in the way of experienced depth.

That could change as camp unfolds. During a Monday press conference, head coach Doug Pederson suggested the team isn’t done making moves at corner.

“Well, again, it’s a position that we continue to look even outside, as we do every position, and as you know, we’re going to continue to look and try to bring in guys if we can and just create as much competition at that spot,” Pederson said in comments distributed by the team. “You know, it’s obviously a spot that we’re going to keep our eye on throughout camp. But now it gives a couple of our younger guys, you know, Jalen Mills, and guys like that, a chance to really get in here and get valuable reps.”

If those reps don’t yield the desired results, calls to other teams about trades and close perusal of the waiver wire will likely be in the Eagles’ future.

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Lucky Whitehead on shoplifting charge: I didn’t even know about that

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Lucy Whitehead said he was unaware he had a warrant issued for his arrest after failing to appear in court on a shoplifting charge.

I didn’t even know about that,” the Cowboys receiver said, via Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

Whitehead’s initial arrest occurred June 22 in Virginia, according to TMZ. At that time, he was accused of taking less than $200 worth of items from a convenience store.

On July 6, Whitehead failed to show up at Prince William County Court for an appearance related to the June 22 arrest, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He will now also face a charge of failure to appear in court.

The court date has been rescheduled for Aug. 10, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which will force Whitehead to leave training camp.

Cowboys officials first learned of the incident Monday, per Hill.

Whitehead has had an unusual offseason, saying last week that a dognapper was demanding ransom for his dog before the dog was returned a day later.

The Cowboys’ selection of Ryan Switzer in the fourth round made Whitehead a long shot to return to the Cowboys for a third season. Now, Whitehead might find his spot with the Cowboys even more precarious.

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Gareon Conley remains under investigation for rape

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As the Raiders’ rookies report to training camp, a legal cloud hangs over first-round draft pick Gareon Conley.

Just days before the draft, a woman told police that Conley raped her in a Cleveland hotel. Cleveland Police say they are still investigating.

“Detectives have had meetings with the prosecutor’s office,” Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “They would still classify it as being under investigation. No official charges have been filed. . . . They haven’t ruled it closed. The official statement is it still remains under investigation.”

The Raiders made the surprising decision to draft Conley in the first round despite the rape allegation, and at the time they expressed confidence that he would be exonerated. Three months later, he hasn’t been.

Conley has not yet signed his rookie contract and it is unclear whether the Raiders will sign him without some clarity about his legal status.

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Cowboys featured in ad opposing Bathroom Bill

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The Cowboys are working behind the scenes, opposing the passage of the so-called “Bathroom Bill,” according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. A special legislative session is considering a bill that would have people use the restroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate.

Passage of the bill could derail the Cowboys’ bid for the 2018 NFL Draft, among other future events they hope to host.

Per Moore, the Cowboys are featured in a $1 million ad buy by the Texas Association of Business that begins play on radio stations Tuesday. In the ad, a lifelong Cowboys fan describes her excitement that the 2018 draft could be in North Texas. She then says the NFL could reject the club’s bid to host the festivities, costing Texas “millions of dollars in lost revenue and leaving a lot of Cowboys fans angry” if the bathroom bill passes.

Cowboys officials are taking a diplomatic approach, trying not to alienate Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the bill’s primary proponent. Owner Jerry Jones carefully chose his words when asked about the bill, showing no interest in entering the debate publicly.

“There are different bills being discussed,” Jones said, via Moore. “They are fluid and change by the day.”

The Cowboys long have played the role of favorite for the 2018 draft, but the NFL has yet to announce the site for the event. NFL officials have not commented publicly, but a league spokesman addressed the bathroom bill in the wake of Super Bowl LI in Houston in February, saying, “If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.”

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Packers apparently will have to beat out every other NFL team to host draft

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Every team apparently has a desire to host the NFL Draft, according to Packers CEO Mark Murphy. Murphy told shareholders Monday that every NFL city, plus Canton, Ohio, has bid to host the draft.

The Packers have bid for 2019, 2020 and 2021.

“What I’ve heard is they’re gong to announce soon the ‘18 draft [location], so it would probably around this time a year from now that they’re looking at ’19,” Murphy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.

The Packers’ Titletown District would play host to the event, with the 10,000-seat Resch Center, which sits across Oneida Street from Lambeau, mentioned as a possibility for the draft itself.

The 2014 draft was the last one in New York City, with Chicago hosting in 2015 and 2016. Philadelphia hosted this year.

The Cowboys are viewed as the favorites for 2018, although a so-called “Bathroom Bill” in the works for the state’s special legislative session could send the event elsewhere. Kansas City has expressed strong interest in hosting the event in the next few years.

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Adolphus Washington pleads not guilty on concealed firearm charge

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With the Bills set to start training camp this week, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington took care of some legal business on Monday.

Washing was arrested in Cincinnati earlier this month and charged with improperly carrying a concealed firearm. A police report from the incident says Washington “reached for and displayed a gun while sitting inside his vehicle, just feet away from officers” and a video of the incident features an officer telling Washington he was lucky that things didn’t escalate after showing the firearm.

Washington pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge on Monday and a pre-trial hearing was set for August 1. His attorney Clyde Bennett told Mike Rodak of ESPN.com that he hopes to have the case dismissed.

“I believe the charges are factually and legally inappropriate,” Bennett said. “I don’t believe that Mr. Washington committed any crimes. That is why we have filed a motion to dismiss. Our intent and plan is to have the charges against him dismissed.”

Washington, a 2016 fourth-round pick, is due at the Bills’ first practice of training camp on Thursday.

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Cowboys’ Lucky Whitehead arrested, warrant issued for shoplifting

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Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead was reportedly arrested for shoplifting last month, then had a warrant issued for his arrest after he failed to appear in court to answer for the charge.

Whitehead’s initial arrest took place on June 22 in Virginia, according to TMZ. At that time, he was accused of taking less than $200 worth of items from a convenience store.

On July 6, Whitehead failed to show up at Prince William County Court for an appearance related to the June 22 arrest, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He will now also face a charge of failure to appear in court.

It’s been an odd offseason for Whitehead, who said last week that his dog had been taken and was being held for ransom, then said a day later that his dog had been returned.

Whitehead has an uphill battle to make the Cowboys’ roster, and off-field distractions won’t help.

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Clayton Geathers will be on PUP list to start regular season

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The Colts won’t have safety Clayton Geathers in the lineup for the first six weeks of the regular season.

General Manager Chris Ballard said Monday that Geathers will go on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp and will remain on that list when the team makes the cut to 53 players. That means he will be ineligible to play or practice for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

The word from Ballard doesn’t come as a surprise as the possibility of Geathers missing regular season time has been on the table since he had neck surgery in March.

In better health news at safety, Ballard also said, via George Bremer of the Anderson Herald Bulletin, that first-round pick Malik Hooker is good to go for the start of camp. Hooker had shoulder and sports hernia surgeries after his final season at Ohio State, but has recovered and should be a strong candidate for a starting spot right out of the gate.

Quarterback Andrew Luck will open camp on the PUP list, but is expected to come off before the start of the season. The same is true of defensive lineman Kendall Langford and offensive lineman Brian Schwenke.

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Willie Snead says he’ll be at camp on Thursday

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Saints wide receiver Willie Snead has not signed the exclusive rights free agent offer that the team tendered early this offseason and made no bones about his desire for a different deal than the one-year, $615,000 one that’s on the table, but that won’t stop him from being at training camp on Thursday.

Snead wrote in a text message to Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he will report to camp with the rest of the team’s veterans.

“No holdout,” Snead wrote. “I’ll be on the practice field Thursday.”

Because Snead hasn’t signed his tender, he would not be a holdout if he did decide to stay home but the wideout participated in all of the team’s offseason activities so it’s no surprise that he’ll continue to get his work in.

Snead has 141 catches for 1,879 yards and seven touchdowns over the last two seasons and is set for a big role in the offense again this year. If he doesn’t sign a multi-year deal with the team this season, Snead will be a restricted free agent in 2018.

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Linebacker Zach Orr visiting Texans today

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Zach Orr’s quest to get back into the league after initially announcing his retirement earlier this offseason has taken him to Houston.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the former Ravens linebacker is visiting the Texans Monday.

Orr was a second-team All-Pro selection last year and led the team in tackles, but the Ravens didn’t tender him as a restricted free agent. That wasn’t negligence on their part, it came after he announced his retirement because of a neck issue which was deemed career-ending.

But Orr has found doctors willing to clear him, and now he’s looking for a team for follow suit.

He had some interest earlier this summer after announcing his comeback plans, talking to the Lions, Colts and Jets.

The Texans could use some linebacker depth after losing John Simon to the Colts in free agency.

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