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Week One power rankings

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[Editor’s note:  Every Tuesday morning, we’ll post a consensus ranking based on an average of the five rankings from the five PFT writers.  So if you disagree with any of these, don’t blame me.  Who am I kidding?  You’d blame me even if I didn’t cast a ballot at all.]

1. Patriots (1-0; No. 2 last week) (four first-place votes):  With an improved defense and an improved running game, it will take much more than a busted nose for Tom Brady to keep the Pats from their first Super Bowl win since 2004.

2. 49ers (1-0; No. 7) (one first-place vote):  It’s hard to imagine Week One going any better, even if they had managed to sign Peyton Manning.

3. Ravens (1-0; No. 4):  It wasn’t a stirring as last year’s Week One win over the Steelers, but it’ll do.

4. Texans (1-0; No. 5):  Yes, it was impressive.  But the 2012 Dolphins are a far cry from their counterparts of 40 years ago.

5. Packers (0-1; No. 1): Thursday night’s game should have a postseason feel, because if the Packers fall to 0-2 with two home losses before the second Sunday of the season, the Packers may not feel the postseason this year.

6. Broncos (1-0; No. 14):  Even the guy who paid for the Tebow billboards last year has bought a Peyton Manning jersey.

7.  Giants (0-1; No. 2):  They’ll be sliding more than five spots per week if they can’t find four (or five) defensive backs who can cover receivers.

8. Eagles (1-0; No. 9):  A win is a win, but the teams that will be playing the Eagles over the next few months are surely feeling better about the chances of getting a win over Philly.

9. Steelers (0-1; No. 6):  They saw some Tebowing late in Denver on Sunday.  The goal for Sunday when the Jets come to town will be to avoid seeing any more of it.

10. Cowboys (1-0; No. 13):  Tony Romo returns to Seattle for the first time since the time he had popcorn right before a game-winning field goal try.

11. Falcons (1-0; No. 10):  The fact that five Internet hacks weren’t sufficiently impressed with Sunday’s performance to keep the Falcons at least where they were before the game underscores the fact that the Falcons won’t get respect until they command it.

12. Lions (1-0; No. 12):  Rams quarterback Sam Bradford may not have stayed in school to avoid the Lions, but Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t do much to avoid throwing the ball to Rams.

13. Redskins (1-0; No. 24):  Receiver Josh Morgan gushed last week about RG3.  And it looked like an understatement on Sunday.

14. Bears (1-0; No. 11):  Andrew Luck or no Andrew Luck, the PFT Power Rankings panel wasn’t impressed by a 20-point win over a 2-14 team.  The Bears will get a chance to get noticed on Thursday at Lambeau.

15. Saints (0-1; No. 7):  It’s hard not to wonder if the Saints would have looked better prepared if they had signed Drew Brees not before training camp but before the offseason program.

16. Jets (1-0; No. 22):  The Jets may have been wise to bank a few of those 48 points for Sunday’s trip to Pittsburgh.

17. Chiefs (0-1; No. 19):  They held their own with the Falcons, but those four missing starters on defense eventually caught up to the Chiefs.

18. Chargers (1-0; No. 20):  When a team wins a game primarily because the other team’s backup long snapper sucks, that’s not an encouraging sign.

19. Panthers (0-1; No. 19):  The PFT panel apparently thinks last Sunday was a fluke for Cam Newton and Carolina; others may be wondering whether last year was the fluke.

20. Cardinals (1-0; No. 25):  Kevin Kolb gets yet another chance to not earn his money.

21. Raiders (0-1; No. 21):  Of all the changes G.M. Reggie McKenzie has made, not having a backup plan at long snapper kept him from winning his first game.

22. Titans (0-1; No. 21):  Somebody had to open the season by playing the Patriots.  The good news is that the Titans don’t have to play them again.

23. Buccaneers (1-0; No. 23):  Whether the players buy in to the Schiano system after one win remains to be seen.  For now, the PFT panel remains skeptical.

24. Bengals (0-1; No. 24):  The trend of beating teams they’re supposed to beat and losing to teams to which they’re supposed to lose continues.

25. Vikings (1-0; No. 25):  Hey Vikes, win your next home game (Week Three against San Fran), and we’ll move you into the top 20.

26. Seahawks (0-1; No. 26):  Braylon Edwards picked a strange way to show his appreciation for having a job.

27. Bills (0-1; No. 18):  Mario Williams may want a Mulligan.

28. Colts (0-1; No. 26):  If Andrew Luck wants to match Peyton Manning’s three-win rookie season, Luck needs to win at least one of the next two games, at home against the Vikings and Jagars.

29. Jaguars (0-1; No. 29):  Does the fact that it could have been worse than a three-point loss in overtime make the loss any better?

30. Rams (0-1; No. 30):  With a clock operator error marring the final minutes of a close one in Detroit, only the Rams could find new ways to lose games.

31. Dolphins (0-1; No. 31):  It’s way too early to think the Dolphins won’t win a game this season.  But they definitely don’t look like a team that can win a game this month.

32. Browns (0-1; No. 32):  If Brandon Weeden wasn’t overwhelmed in putting up a 5.1 passer rating, we’d hate to see how bad his numbers would have been if he was.

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DeShone Kizer agrees he’s making progress, ready to compete for starting job

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Browns coach Hue Jackson said earlier Friday that DeShone Kizer is progressing faster than expected. The rookie quarterback agreed with that assessment and, although Kizer says a decision on the starting job is out of his hands, he is ready to compete.

“The way that they’ve thrown me into the fire in the last couple months has been one that has allowed me to grow quickly and to become comfortable pretty fast,” Kizer said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “[The decision on the starting job] is out of my hands, and I look forward to just trying to play well when my time does come.”

Kizer said from the first day of the rookie minicamp to training camp is “completely different.” The Browns have him splitting reps with Cody Kessler with the starters, indicating the Browns are getting Kizer ready to play sooner than later.

“I think they have a good idea of when a quarterback is ready to go out there,” Kizer said. “This is an awesome environment to learn in. Coach Jackson’s had a lot of success developing quarterbacks and to have the veteran offensive line. . . .It’s a great opportunity for me hopefully have some success early if that time has come.”

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Bengals place Cedric Peerman on NFI, Giovani Bernard practicing

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Giovani Bernard joined his Bengals teammates on the practice field for the first day of training camp Friday, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The running back tore his ACL in November.

The Bengals did place running back Cedric Peerman on the non-football injury list, and receiver Monty Madaris on the physically unable to perform list. The team can remove the players from the lists when they are cleared to practice.

Peerman signed a one-year contract in March to return to Cincinnati. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2015 as a special teamer. Last year he missed the first 10 games after fracturing his foreman in the final preseason game.

Cincinnati made re-signing Peerman, their special teams captain, a priority. He will help with leadership responsibilities on a team that lost core players Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko.

Tight end Tyler Eifert and first-round choice John Ross were cleared to practice. Eifert had back surgery in January, and Ross had shoulder surgery. Ross expects to be limited at the start of training camp.

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Pernell McPhee had his knee scoped on Friday

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Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee’s knee trouble landed him on the physically unable to perform list to open camp and it also led him to an operating room on Friday.

Bears coach John Fox announced that McPhee had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Fox described the operation as a “clean-up” procedure.

Fox did not give a timeline for McPhee’s return to action, which was a change from last year when cornerback Kyle Fuller was said to need four weeks to recover from a scope. Fuller never played at all during the 2016 season, although Fox said Friday that McPhee’s situation is not the same.

With Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd on hand, the Bears have other options at outside linebacker while McPhee recovers from the surgery. Because McPhee is on the PUP list, he is eligible to remain on it into the regular season although he would not be able to play during the first six weeks of the season if that’s the case.

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Aaron Donald doesn’t show up for training camp

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Rams G.M. Les Snead said recently that the team is working to find a resolution to defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s contract. Apparently, they’re not working hard enough for Donald’s liking.

Donald didn’t report for the start of camp, according to multiple reports.

Since he has fewer than four years of service, he’d lose a year of credit toward free agency if he doesn’t report within 30 days before the NFL’s regular-season opener. But since the 2014 first-round pick has two years left under contract but is only one year of service away from being eligible for free agency, the year of service toward free agency doesn’t matter.

Seven years ago, cornerback Darrelle Revis held out beyond the 30-day deadline despite having only three years of service. Eventually, he got his contract.

Given that the Rams actively have been negotiating with Donald, the holdout could be the spark to get the job done.

Donald was taken one spot after Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who showed up for training camp despite not yet having a new deal.

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Report: Donald Penn not reporting to Raiders camp

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One of the reasons why the Raiders made the playoffs last year and are considered a good bet to make it back this year is the strength of their offensive line.

Left tackle Donald Penn is part of that strength, but the Raiders may have some work to do to get him in camp with the rest of the team. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Penn is not reporting to training camp because he’s unhappy with his contract.

Penn signed a two-year deal with the Raiders in March 2016 that calls for him to make a base salary of $5.8 million this season. Other bonuses and incentives can push the total to $7.15 million.

Penn has started every game for Oakland since joining the team before the 2014 season and was selected to the Pro Bowl during the 2016 season. His most memorable play of the year may have been a rare miscue, however. Penn slipped while trying to block Colts defensive end Trent Cole on the play that ended with Derek Carr fracturing his fibula.

The Raiders released tackle Austin Howard this week, leaving Marshall Newhouse, 2017 fourth-rounder David Sharpe and 2017 seventh-rounder Jylan Ware among the other options at tackle.

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Every year is a potential farewell tour for Ben Roethlisberger

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Some (i.e., me) think that Tom Brady continues to suggest he’ll be playing for years into the future so that he’ll never have a farewell tour. For Ben Roethlisberger, every year officially will now be a potential farewell tour.

In an interview with Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger made it clear that he’s now on a year-to-year arrangement.

“It’s just, it’s 14 years; that’s a long time,” Roethlisberger said. “I think the average life expectancy in the NFL is three years, maybe three-and-a-half now. . . . I’ve been blessed to do this a long time. I think it’s just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time. Even when you get home, I try my best to turn it off when I walk in the front door. I think I do a pretty good job of that, but it still consumes you in a way.”

Roethlisberger also mentioned concerns about head injuries, adding that his wife “would be OK if I hung it up, too.” But he said he still loves his teammates, making it right for him to return for another year.

He won’t commit beyond this year. And there’s a chance, in theory, that he’ll decide at some point during the coming season that he doesn’t want to play another one. At that point, the farewell tour officially would begin.

Followed by the retirement. Followed by, possibly, the First Annual Unretirement.

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Solomon Thomas signs with 49ers

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We’re down to two unsigned picks from the 2017 draft.

The 49ers announced on Friday that third overall pick Solomon Thomas has signed his rookie deal with the club. Thomas was drafted after the 49ers made a trade out of the second spot in the first round with the Bears, which changed Thomas’ draft slot but not his destination as he was the player the team wanted all along.

Thomas’ signing comes a day after General Manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan expressed their hope that the start of camp would provide the impetus needed to get the defensive lineman under contract. They did not say what had held things up to this point, but it’s been worked out to everyone’s satisfaction in any case.

With Thomas signed, Titans wide receiver Corey Davis, the fifth overall pick, and Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley, the 24th overall selection, are the only draftees without contracts. PFT reported earlier on Friday that the Raiders and Conley are making progress toward a deal.

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There simply weren’t enough reps in Philly for Marcus Smith

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The Eagles abruptly dumped linebacker/defensive end Marcus Smith, a 2014 first-round draft pick, earlier this week. On Friday, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz explained the decision to move on.

“I think the biggest thing in not working out, as far as this year, is the other acquisitions that we made, you know, and where we were,” Schwartz told reporters. “And it really sort of put us up against, ‘How are we going to get reps for all these guys?’ We do like a good, young player in the pipeline in [defensiv end] Alex McCalister. [We] had drafted, obviously drafted [defensive end] Derek [Barnett], and brought in [defensive end] Chris [Long]. You know, so that made it difficult.

“You know, [Smith] played some good football last year for us. He got a sack on [left tackle] Tyron Smith on the third play of the Dallas game that was a good sack. We just, you know, I think it just got to the point that there are only so many reps at practice, so many reps in training camp, and we devoted those to the guys that we brought in, plus the other guys that we’ve had.”

It’s still early in the process to make that move, and the Eagles could have kept him around in the event that one or more of the other pass rushers suffer injury. Cutting him now, however, gave him a fair chance to land elsewhere. Which he did, with the Seahawks.

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Curtis Samuel dealing with a hamstring strain

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The Panthers will be without their second-round pick for at least a little while.

Wide receiver Curtis Samuel did not practice with the team on Friday after feeling tightness in his hamstring at the end of Thursday’s session. The team is calling the injury a hamstring strain and he left camp at Wofford College to get further evaluation in Charlotte.

Samuel also dealt with a hamstring issue during minicamp this spring, so the team will likely proceed with caution in order to keep it from being an ongoing problem this year. That may not help Samuel’s chances of playing a big role on offense right out of the gate, but missing a week is better than a month or more.

The Panthers are also without fifth-round pick Corn Elder at the moment. The cornerback had an MRI after Wednesday’s practice that revealed a patella stress fracture in his knee. His status is being called “more week-to-week than day-to-day.”

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49ers put Jimmie Ward on PUP after hamstring injury

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San Francisco defensive back Jimmie Ward will spend at least the start of training camp practices on the physically unable to perform list.

The 49ers announced that Ward is on PUP after he suffered a hamstring injury while going through the team’s conditioning test on Thursday.

Ward is moving from cornerback to safety this offseason, which meant the 49ers wanted him to get as many reps as possible in camp. So they’ll hope to have him back on the field soon.

The 31st overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Ward had his fifth-year option picked up this year, meaning that after he plays this year for $690,000, he’s due an $8.5 million salary in 2018.

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Raiders, Gareon Conley “making progress”

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As the Oakland Raiders prepare to conduct their first training-camp practice on Saturday, there’s still a chance that their first-round pick will be present and accounted for.

Per a league source, the Raiders and cornerback Gareon Conley are “making progress” on a contract, but they’ve not yet struck a deal.

Conley, one of only three unsigned draft picks, has had his status complicated by a lingering rape investigation in Ohio. The Raiders may be looking for protections in the event Conley is charged, and Conley may be (should be) saying, essentially, “You should have thought of that before picking me.”

As recently explained, if the Raiders made no verbal requests before making the selection for specific terms that would be inserted if Conley wasn’t cleared before camp begins, he’s entitled to the same contract he would have gotten without the pending legal entanglement. Of course, that’s easier said than done in sensitive matters of this nature; it’s entirely possible the Raiders (potentially at the behest of the league office) are seeking advance permission to place Conley on paid leave if he’s charged for something that he allegedly did before he was drafted.

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Mychal Kendricks asked for a trade early this year

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There were reports over the course of the offseason that the Eagles might trade linebacker Mychal Kendricks, but nothing ever came of it and Kendricks is in camp with the team this summer.

On Friday, Kendricks said that the initial push to look into a trade came from him. Kendricks asked the team to move him or, failing that, release him after seeing his playing time drop after the change in coaches from Chip Kelly to Doug Pederson. Kendricks said the team had a different plan, however.

“I asked for a trade, for sure,” Kendricks said, via Philly.com. “Their response was, ‘You’re young and you’re talented and we’re not into that.’ I took it like that. … It’s as simple as that. It’s cut and dry. That’s the business. It’s just like that you that. You tell them what you want, they either do it or they don’t, and you’re in the contract you signed. And that’s it.”

Kendricks signed a five-year deal with the team in 2015 and said he’d “plead the fifth” when asked if he regrets doing that given what’s happened to his role after the change of coaches and defensive schemes. He added that he’s not unhappy to be in Philadelphia because he respects “these guys and the guys I work with every day.”

Still, it sounds like Kendricks wouldn’t mind if the Eagles changed their mind or if someone made them an offer that convinced them to ship the linebacker out of town.

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Seahawks, Chiefs swap linebackers

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The Seahawks and Chiefs made a trade on Friday involving a pair of linebackers.

The Seahawks are sending Kevin Pierre-Louis to Kansas City and they will receive D.J. Alexander in return.

Pierre-Louis was a fourth-round pick in 2014 and has played 34 games while making one start over his first three seasons. He’s played sparingly on defense in those appearances, but has been a regular on special teams in Seattle.

When Pierre-Louis has played on defense, he has played on the outside for the Seahawks. Alexander, a 2015 fifth-round pick, has been on the inside with the Chiefs, but otherwise has a similar profile to the player coming back to Kansas City.

Alexander played nine defensive snaps as a rookie and 48 during his second season while appearing regularly on special teams in every game the Chiefs played over the last two years. His work on those units was good enough to get him a spot in the Pro Bowl last year.

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Tyler Eifert, John Ross have been cleared to practice

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Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert said in April that he wasn’t sure he would be cleared to practice at the start of training camp due to the back surgery he had last December, but he got good news when he met with doctors to find out if he’d be able to join his teammates on the field this week.

Eifert said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, that he’s been fully cleared to practice. Eifert missed eight games last season to continue a career-long trend of time spent in the trainer’s room rather than on the field, where Eifert has been a potent part of the Cincinnati offense.

Eifert has missed 27 games over his first four seasons, something that the Bengals would obviously like to see change as he heads into his fifth NFL campaign.

Eifert wasn’t the only member of the receiving corps with some good medical news to report. First-round pick John Ross said, via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com, that he’s been cleared to practice, although he’s going to be limited as he makes his way back from shoulder surgery.

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Joe Flacco hopes he just misses a week

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Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is on the sideline with a back injury right now, but he said Friday that he hopes it won’t be long before he’s back under center.

Flacco said that he’s dealing with stiffness in his back and did not attribute the problem to the disc issue that was reported earlier this week. That report also pegged his timeline to return to action at 3-6 weeks, but Flacco said that he hopes to be back on the field in a week and that he doesn’t feel there’s any chance he’ll miss the start of the regular season.

“Hopefully it calms down pretty quickly,” Flacco said during a session with reporters at Ravens camp.

Flacco said he isn’t doing any throwing at all and that the plan for now is to just rest, adding that doctors have told him that course of action should keep the issue from being one that bothers him during the regular season.

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