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Browns’ comeback falls short in Baltimore

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In the end, the Browns made an often dull defensive struggle against the Ravens interesting. But Cleveland’s late fourth-quarter comeback attempt fell short.

On the final play of a 23-16 Ravens win, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden threw a pass out the back of the end zone, preserving the Ravens’ win.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed 28 of 46 passes for 356 with one touchdown and one interception, and he also ran for a touchdown in the third quarter. When Baltimore cornerback Cary Williams intercepted Weeden and raced 63 yards for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 23-10 lead, it appeared that Baltimore was putting the game out of reach.

But Phil Dawson hit field goals of 50 and 52 yards in the fourth quarter to bring Cleveland a touchdown and extra point away from sending the game into overtime, and the Browns had a real chance of tying it at the end of the game.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, Weeden missed on that pass into the end zone on the last play, and the Ravens held on to win a game that was much closer than Baltimore expected.

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Mike Zimmer may let coordinator call a game in the preseason

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Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had to give up play-calling duties involuntarily last year, when he had to miss a game because of eye surgery.

This year, he’s choosing to do so during the preseason, to find out if it helps him see the game better.

According to Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Zimmer said he’ll probably let defensive coordinator George Edwards call a preseason game next month to determine if it helps him manage the overall flow of the game.

Whether as a coordinator or a head coach, Zimmer has always called defensive plays in games for the last 17 years.

“I’ll probably have [Edwards] call one in a preseason game and see how it goes,” Zimmer said. “I have not decided yet, no, totally for the season, but I think it’d be good practice in the preseason to see how it goes. See if it helps me help other areas of the game, so I’m kind of thinking that way.”

The Vikings have always had good defenses under Zimmer (ranking in the top third of the league in scoring defense each of his three seasons), but they have more global issues.

They were 3-8 down the stretch last year with a number of close losses, and Zimmer’s looking for ways to help avoid that in the future, even if it means giving away some of the authority he’s always had.

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What were the messiest NFL divorces?

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With whatever it is that’s going on between Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, we have yet another source of NBA inspiration for the PFT Live question of the day.

What were the messiest, ugliest divorces in the NFL? (Of course, with the Lucky Whitehead situation in Dallas, we really didn’t need to swipe ideas from basketball. But what the hell.)

We’ll skip the poll question and leave it open-ended today. Put some ideas in the comments, and the best ones will be borrowed on Wednesday’s show.

Joining the broadcast will be former NFL coach Kevin Gilbride and Lucky Whitehead’s lawyer, Dave Rich. Hopefully, you’ll join us, too — at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio and then at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN, or still on NBC Sports Radio. Or both.

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Ron Rivera “pretty excited” about Cam Newton’s shoulder, weight


It was almost easy to miss, with the recent upheavals in Panthers camp.

But oh by the way, their former MVP quarterback who’s coming off surgery on his throwing shoulder who has missed the entire offseason appears to be OK.

Via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was pleased with where his quarterback was, from both a shoulder rehab and physical conditioning standpoint. Rivera said Newton weighed in at 246 pounds (he was closer to 260 last year), which should help with his mobility after a rough 2016 season.

Pretty excited about where he is right now,” Rivera said. “Again, he’s been like this all offseason. He’s had a very good offseason, considering the fact he couldn’t throw. But he worked very hard, very diligently. I’m excited to see him on the field [Wednesday].”

Newton has thrown with his receivers in recent weeks, but will be limited at the start of camp after having surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff suffered in December. He began light throwing in June, and the hope is that he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season.

That would be nice, since the Panthers are fiddling with their offense this offseason, looking for ways for Newton to get the ball out of his hands quicker. Having him well enough to attempt some of those new plays should only help.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

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Veteran players on the Jets insist there will be no tanking.

Should the Bills cut DT Adolphus Washington for his recent weapons arrest?

The Dolphins are beefing up security at training camp.

Did last year’s suspension actually work in favor of Tom Brady?

The Ravens are a team under construction heading into camp.

Ex-Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins wrote a letter to Cincinnati after announcing his retirement.

And as an ex-Brown, Hawkins wrote to Cleveland as well.

Here’s what to do if you’re heading to Steelers camp.

NFL Network will have a setup at Texans camp.

Colts WR Chester Rogers is a player to keep an eye on in training camp.

Jaguars C Brandon Linder said he wanted to get his contract extension done so he could focus on training camp.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota is feeling great heading into camp.

The Broncos have announced that former head coach Gary Kubiak is returning to the team in a front office role.

Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt says he’s trying to adjust to a new playbook.

As the Chargers work out Robert Griffin III, many in Los Angeles are asking why they’re not considering Colin Kaepernick.

The Raiders hope TE Jared Cook gives them an option over the middle they didn’t have last year.

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is feeling good heading into camp.

One columnist has some tough talk for Giants WR Odell Beckham.

It’s still unclear whether Eagles WR Jordan Matthews will be on the field on Thursday.

Washington CB Josh Norman says everyone believes in QB Kirk Cousins, regardless of his contract status.

Here’s a look at the Bears’ training camp schedule.

Lions RB Theo Riddick hopes to be back soon after a wrist injury.

The Packers’ Family Night usually fills Lambeau Field for a practice.

Said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer after watching the first couple practices of training camp, “They are working hard and we have got a lot of stuff in. I think practice was pretty good yesterday.”

How much should the Falcons pay RB Devonta Freeman?

Should the Panthers be concerned about C Ryan Kalil’s shoulder?

Here’s a look at the Saints’ likely roster.

It’s unfair to expect Bucs DT Gerald McCoy to be Warren Sapp.

Cardinals LB Scooby Wright made an impressive play in training camp.

Here’s what the Rams hope to accomplish in training camp.

The 49ers’ top pick, Solomon Thomas, remains unsigned.

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett’s forthcoming book is titled, “How to Make White People Uncomfortable.”

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Sammie Coates to miss some time after knee surgery

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The Steelers finally have Martavis Bryant back in the fold, but they will be short another receiver when camp opens.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Steelers wideout Sammie Coates will miss the start of camp after getting his knee scoped last week.

Coates apparently suffered the knee injury while training this offseason, and could return as soon as mid-August.

The 2015 third-rounder got off to a promising start last year, but injuries to his fingers and his groin derailed his progress. He needed surgery for the groin problem this offseason.

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Earl Thomas not expecting to be limited for start of training camp

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Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said he felt at around 80 percent as offseason practices were coming to a close last month. With training camp set to open for Seattle on Sunday, Thomas feels like he’s closed down the gap on the remaining 20 percent.

According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Thomas said Tuesday that he expects to be full speed for camp with the Seahawks.

“I don’t think I’ll have any limitations,” Thomas said. “The thing about camp is it’s going to put me in a lot of great situations where I can see how I will react and then I can kind of go from there.”

Thomas had not missed a single game in his first six seasons in the NFL prior to the broken leg that ended his 2016 season last November. He played in Super Bowl XLIX with a torn labrum sustained in Seattle’s NFC Championship victory over Green Bay. He missed most of the ensuing preseason while recovering from surgery.

“I’m feeling really, really good,” he said. “I’m feeling solid. That’s all I can ask for going into this part of the season. I’m excited and ready to get back out there with the guys and try to take this thing, take it all the way.”

The Seahawks are usually careful easing players returning from injuries back into work. Even if Thomas feels 100 percent, the Seahawks will likely ease back on his workload in the early days of camp. But with Thomas such a vital part of Seattle’s defense, having him ready to go for the start of camp bodes well for his recovery overall.

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Agent denies report Koa Misi is retiring after being placed on IR

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Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi’s 2017 season came to an end before it could even begin as he was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

A lingering neck injury that required surgery and brought his 2016 season after just three games led to Miami ending his 2017 season before players ever took to the practice fields for training camp.

A report by Andy Slater of WINZ  940-AM in Miami indicated that Misi has made the decision to retire from the game following Tuesday’s news. However, Misi’s agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, refutes that notion, saying that Misi isn’t retiring.

Zuckerman told the Miami Herald, and confirmed to PFT, that Misi is not retiring.

We’re all disappointed. It’s unexpected. I feel bad for him and we’ll see what the future entails,” Zuckerman told the Herald.

Slater followed it up with a tweet saying Misi had told family and close friends his intentions to retire Tuesday night.

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase told reporters that he was confident Misi would play again. He will be a free agent after the upcoming season. He is not eligible to return from injured reserve as players need to be on the initial 53-man roster in order to be eligible to return to action.

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Xavier Rhodes mentor Terrell Buckley says likely Rhodes inks extension with Vikings this week

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Xavier Rhodes believes he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He may be about to sign a deal that pays him like one.

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Rhodes’ mentor, former NFL cornerback Terrell Buckley, believes there’s a “high probability” Rhodes signs a contract extension with the Vikings this week.

“He is trying to get a couple of things squared away (with the contract),’’ Buckley said. “He wants to be there. He loves the (Vikings) organization, but obviously it’s a business.

“He’s got to make sure it makes sense to him financially. But he’s excited about it. He loves Minnesota. He loves the head coach (Mike Zimmer). He loves (defensive backs coach Jerry Gray). He’s very adamant and excited that he wants to be a Viking. He wants to play his whole career in Minnesota.’’

Rhodes made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season after recording five interceptions, 11 passes defended, 52 tackles and a forced fumble for the Vikings last year. The former first-round pick is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract with Minnesota, which is set to pay him a touch over $8 million this season.

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Falcons stadium roof will remain closed, indefinitely


Last month, the roof at the new Falcons stadium successfully closed. Next month, it may stay that way for a while.

Via Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, AMB Group CEO Steve Cannon said Tuesday that the roof will be closed when the stadium opens next month, and that it will remain closed “for an undetermined period of time” thereafter. Cannon blamed the inability to fully mechanize the roof on construction delays.

As a result, Cannon said the roof will be closed both for the preseason home opener on August 26 and the regular-season home opener on September 17.

That conflicts with something Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay said in May on PFT Live. At the time, McKay said the roof will be fully operational from the moment the stadium opens.

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Texans GM Rick Smith: “No contract dispute” with holdout Duane Brown

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Even with left tackle Duane Brown skipping offseason workouts and holding out from the start of training camp in West Virginia, Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith doesn’t feel he has anything to discuss with the former Pro Bowler.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Smith’s stance is that Brown is under contract and that’s that.

I have talked to Duane,” Smith said. “There is no contract dispute. Duane is under contract for two more years. That’s our position.

“We’re here to get our team ready for the season. He should be a part of it. Duane and I have a really good relationship. He’s our longest-tenured player. He’s an important member of our team, and he ought to be here. He needs to be here.”

NFL teams can be hesitant to issue contract extensions to players with more than one year remaining on their current contracts. That doesn’t mean they never happen though. The Texans themselves have broken that mold for Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt in the past. However, DeAndre Hopkins was unsuccessful in leveraging a contract with two years left on his deal a season ago.

Brown was placed on the reserve/did not report list by the Texans on Tuesday. Brown already has skipped the full offseason program, including a mandatory mini-camp that exposed him to roughly $80,000 in fines. Because Brown is under contract, each day missed of training camp carries a potential $40,000 fine as well.

He is scheduled to make $9.4 million this season and $9.75 million in 2018.

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Jerry Jones: We make decisions in best interest of the team


Jerry Jones wouldn’t speak specifically about the team’s decision to release Lucky Whitehead, but the Cowboys owner clearly was bothered by criticism of it.

I’m not going to talk about Lucky,” Jones said Tuesday night, via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. “I’m going to talk about players.

“I’ve never talked to a player that I didn’t have empathy. If you all [media] have done one thing in my time to criticize me, it is how I will back up a player to a fault. You’ve done it. You’ve done it for years. I will back them up to a fault.”

Jones became emotional as he continued.

“So when we do make a decision around here that’s in the best interest of the team to move on, there’s one thing you can forget about and that is whether you’re being fair or whether you’ve given it consideration of what it means to the individual,” Jones said. “That doesn’t happen around here. Thank you guys.”

Virginia police cleared Whitehead of a bogus shoplifting charge but not before the Cowboys decided to release him. Whitehead appeared on the NFL’s transactions Tuesday.

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Tamba Hali: Rant was about desire to win a championship

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Tamba Hali went on Facebook Live to clear the air Tuesday night, saying his frustration stems from his desire to win. The Chiefs linebacker talked for almost six minutes, clarifying a series of angry tweets he had over the weekend about a lack of playing time in the playoff loss to the Steelers.

The social media rant was not well received by Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who criticized Hali for airing his grievances publicly.

“Over the weekend, we had a little bit of typing going, expressing my thoughts and my feelings, how I feel about situations,” Hali said. “I think it got blown out of proportion. All I was trying to say is, at the end of the day, I love the game. I want to bring the Kansas City Chiefs a championship. I’ve been here going on my 12th year, and I’ve always wanted to win a championship, and I’ve always given it my all. I’ve always wanted to win a championship, and I’ve always been a part of the equation. What happened last year is I just wanted to win. I think anyone can bear with me and understand that the frustration of losing a game in the playoffs and barely playing. Being a competitor, you just want to win. That was basically what the rant was about.”

Hali played only seven snaps in the team’s playoff loss to the Steelers. He started only two games last season, making 3.5 sacks, the second-fewest of his career, as Dee Ford and Justin Houston solidified starting roles.

Hali said he has talked to the Chiefs and vowed to show up on time for his 12th season.

“I’m all in,” Hali said. “All the guys at the Chiefs understand that I’m one of those guys who loves to compete, and I will continue to compete at a high level. . . . I don’t feel like I’m done. I just want to know where we’re going.”

Hali has appeared in six playoff games in his career, winning only one. He wants a championship before he’s done, and Hali knows time is running out.

“I’m not getting younger,” Hali said. “When I was young, I actually felt like I could play this game forever. Reality has struck. It’s not going to happen that way. I’m not going to play the game forever. There’s going to come a day when I have to be done playing. But time is running out. For us to win a championship, I think coach Reid and his staff has assembled some of the best coaches and players on this team so we can ahead and make a run. We just need to make sure everybody is on board and understand what’s at stake here. It’s real serious business when it comes to football and me. Some people don’t take it that serious. I do. . . .

“I just wanted to clear the air. I’m not looking for more money. I’m not looking for that. I’m not looking for this. I just want to win.”

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Eagles hoping Alshon Jeffery improves their red-zone TD percentage

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Carson Wentz hosted eight of the Eagles’ receivers in North Dakota as they worked and hung out for three days. The most important wideout for him to establish timing with is Alshon Jeffery.

The free agent addition immediately becomes the best receiver Wentz ever has had.

It’s really nice having a guy like Alshon, not only catch radius, but he has some of the strongest hands I’ve ever seen,” Wentz said, via Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The thing with Alshon and I, we just have to keep building that chemistry, building that relationship. … You can just see, he’s kind of a different animal, throwing the ball to him. He can cover some ground. It’s nice to have a guy like that.”

The Eagles ranked 24th in red-zone touchdown percentage last season, converting only 27 of 55 possessions inside the opponents’ 20-yard line into touchdowns. They scored field goals on 22 red-zone possessions.

“Alshon has tremendous ball skills,’’ quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said. “The way he can track a football in the air, go up with one hand and get a ball. The thing that’s very comforting for a quarterback is when a receiver has a big catch radius, where you don’t have to be pinpoint-accurate all the time, because it’s hard. There’s a guy in your face. You’re trying to find lanes. When you can throw a guy open and feel confident that he’s going to be able to extend his hands outside his body to catch the football, that gives you a lot of confidence as a quarterback.’’

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Jourdan Lewis found not guilty of domestic assault

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An Ann Arbor, Mich., jury found Cowboys rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis not guilty of domestic assault, according to John Counts of After a little more than an hour of deliberation, a six-member jury determined Lewis did not criminally assault this girlfriend in March.

Per Counts, Lewis did not take the stand, but jurors heard his side of the story in a video recording of his initial interview with police. Lewis’ girlfriend, Nikole Miller, woke him up when she arrived home to find him asleep with the lights on, angering her. Lewis hit her with the pillow he was sleeping on.

“The pillow I was on, I hit her with it,” he said at one point, but also saying at another point that he “threw” the pillow at her.

Lewis was adamant to police that he didn’t strike her with his hands at any point. Instead, Lewis said Miller struck him after he called her a derogatory name.

Miller initially told police Lewis squeezed her neck when he held her down, but when she was interviewed a second time, that detail changed, according to testimony.

Police officers testified that the apartment didn’t appear in disarray as they would expect in an altercation.

Lewis will join his teammates in Oxnard, Calif., after missing the first two days of practice.

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Alex Smith not concerned about Tamba Hali’s tweets, or any tweets

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Chiefs defensive end Tamba Hali expressed his displeasure with the team on Twitter, but Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith isn’t concerned.

That’s partially because Smith believes Hali has proven he’ll always be there for his teammates when it counts, and partially because Smith couldn’t care less about social media at all.

“I didn’t read all of them,” Smith said of Hali’s tweets. “I did hear about it. To be honest, I don’t think it is a huge deal, I don’t want to turn it into anything big. I think Tamba is one of the most unique teammates I have ever had and I mean that in a good way. He is a guy that says what’s on his mind. He is honest. He is sincere. I think I appreciate that about him. Sometimes there are things that are said that just comes out. So, to be honest, I don’t think it is a big deal. I don’t think it’s anything anyone has to worry about. This locker room is as drama free as they come, so I don’t think it will be an issue.”

Smith said he’s personally not on social media, so he doesn’t get involved in the drama that surrounds social media.

“I kind of missed that wave,” Smith said. “That wave passed me by. I remember coming into the league and MySpace was big. I didn’t get on that train and then the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all roads passed me. At this point it is kind of refreshing.”

So we will never see Smith complain about the Chiefs on Twitter. Or on MySpace.

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