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League outs Jimmy Kennedy as 2010 whistleblower, Kennedy denies it

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

So much for protecting whistleblowers.

The lengthy memorandum issued by the NFL to all teams on Tuesday regarding the re-issued discipline in the Saints bounty scandal identifies former Vikings defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy as the person who originally told former Vikings coach Brad Childress in early 2010 that the Saints had a bounty on former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game.  (The memo says that Kennedy was interviewed, but it says nothing about whether Kennedy retracted his claim.  A prior memo issued by the league, back when protecting whistleblowers was a supposed priority, indicated that an unnamed Vikings player had come forward in early 2010, but that the player thereafter rescinded his contention.)

It’s not the first time Kennedy has been linked to the Saints bounty scandal.  The sworn declaration submitted by former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove explained that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams told Hargrove that Kennedy had said Hargrove told Kennedy about the bounty on Favre.  At the time, Kennedy vehemently denied the contention via Twitter.

Now, Kennedy has returned to Twitter to refute the NFL’s new allegations.

“It’s really starting to bother me,” Kennedy says.  “How can the NFL continue to say I told them about Bounty & they interviewed me?  THIS DID NOT HAPPEN!”

Kennedy specifically denies that he ever was interviewed by the league.  “This Sucks! I NEVER interviewed with anyone from #NFL, No NFL Security, Not Goodell, NO ONE!”

Regardless of whether there was an interview of Kennedy, there was no reason for the NFL to mention Kennedy’s name.  Unlike former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo, who blew the whistle in 2011 and then became a key source of specific information on which discipline has been based, Kennedy had no role in the case the NFL has made against Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and Hargrove.  Coming on the heels of the league insisting that whistleblowers be protected at all costs, the pointing of a finger at Kennedy was, in our opinion, unfair, irresponsible, and possibly actionable.

As NFL owners prepare to gather in Chicago for their first full meeting since a string of embarrassments smacked against the shield like repeated pecan pies in the face, the gratuitous outing of a whistleblower who never became a witness can be added to the list of things for which the owners could be demanding a full and complete explanation.

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K’Waun Williams wants Browns to pay for surgery on injured ankle

Vince Mayle, K'Waun Williams AP

Just because the Cleveland Browns released cornerback K’Waun Williams doesn’t mean that their disagreement surrounding his ankle injury is going to end any time soon.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Williams is seeking for the Browns to foot the bill for surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle. He failed a physical with the Chicago Bears on Wednesday after they claimed him off waivers from Cleveland.

“We’re requesting they pay for his medical treatment and hopefully they’ll respond appropriately,” Williams’ agent Evan Krakower said.

The disagreement over the extent of Williams’ injury led to the Browns suspending him for two weeks after being absent from practices. Williams was sitting out due to his ankle. The Browns thought he should be on the practice field.

The Browns ultimately released Williams on Monday. However, Cleveland just starting waived Williams instead of using the waived/injured designation. The latter would have led to the Browns continuing to be responsible for his injuries.

Krakower claims that two independent doctors have both concluded that Williams needs surgery to correct the issues with his ankle. Failing a physical with the Bears would also seem to confirm the notion that Williams is not healthy enough to play football at this point in time.

A grievance filed with the NFLPA would be a likely next step if the Browns don’t agree to taking care of Williams ankle issues. The NFLPA is already been involved as Krakower filed an appeal over Williams’ suspension as well.

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John Spanos doesn’t regret taking Joey Bosa dispute public

SAN DIEGO, CA-OCTOBER-14:  San Diego Chargers football team owner Dean Spanos and his son John Spanos follow the action against Indianapolis Colts at Qualcomm Stadium October 14, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Getty Images

San Diego Chargers president of football operations John Spanos was flabbergasted by the continued standoff between the Chargers and defensive end Joey Bosa and unloaded on their first-round draft pick last week.

The public comments from Spanos followed a public statement from the team taking their bargaining position into the open in hopes of turning sentiment against their top pick and nudging him toward signing a contract with the team. Bosa did finally sign his rookie contract with the team five days later.

Despite the poor look it cast on the Chargers for publicly slamming a player they felt worthy of the third overall pick in the draft, Spanos said Wednesday that he doesn’t regret the decision to take the dispute public. He discussed the matter with Judson Richards and Nick Hardwick on XTRA 1360 in San Diego.

Obviously, it was a difficult decision,” Spanos said, via Eric D. Williams of “Any time you’re in a tough negotiation, everything you do is a difficult decision. And let me be clear: It’s certainly never our preference to make any public comments. It’s not how we’ve operated in the past, I would say, and only [on] the rarest of occasions.

“In fact, I’ve probably been involved in hundreds of player negotiations and contract agreements, whether it’s helping out or leading, throughout my lifetime, and that’s the first time I’ve ever said anything public.

“So that shows you how rare that is. It’s not what we prefer to do — only, I would say, when we’re forced to do it. The bottom line is if someone were to tell me that’s why we got it done, then, yeah, I would do it again, because our goal the whole time was we wanted him here. And we were going to do whatever it takes to get him here.”

While presenting actual terms of their offer is a new step for San Diego, it’s not the first time they’ve negotiated in public. They previously threatened to scale back Philip Rivers‘ rookie contract if their offer was not accepted as then-general manager A.J. Smith publicly stated that “negotiations have broken down.

That deal also eventually got done.

Now the process will have to begin of patching up any frayed feelings on both sides that were incurred due to the lengthy – and public – dispute. The two sides will be joined together for at least the next four seasons. They’ll have to learn to get along.

“Joey’s obviously a very talented player,” Spanos said. “You go No. 3 in the draft for a reason. He has a very unique and special skill set.

“I still stand by the fact that I think every player needs training camp to get ready for the season. But I will say this: Now that he’s here, he’s going to work very hard to get ready for the season. I do believe that it’s 100 percent true that he has been working very hard. I think for a player to go through his situation and coming in this late, we’re in probably the best scenario you could be in, given that situation. He’s as ready as a player could be. He’s going to work as hard as a player can work. So I do think he’ll be able to help us this year.”

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Demaryius Thomas believes Denver’s offense will be better

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 11: Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos gets a head tap from teammate Michael Schofield #79 after catching a touchdown pass against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on August 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Broncos prepare to defend their Super Bowl championship, they’ll be moving forward with a second-year seventh-rounder as the starting quarterback and a rookie first-rounder as the primary backup, most likely. And yet the team’s top receiver believes the offensive will be better in 2016 than it was in 2015.

“We got the job done and that’s what it really comes down to at the end of the day,” Demaryius Thomas told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN. “We weren’t perfect, I know of course we wanted our passing game to be better. We were 31st in the passing game but it was something different. Especially in Peyton [Manning’s] offense it was totally different what he did, then Brock [Osweiler] in his appearance he did what he had to do. That’s how he was able to get the contract he did to get on another team.”

This year, there will be one offense at all times.

“It’s just going to be better than what it was,” Thomas said. “I was able to be here this year [for the offseason program]. So everything is going to be better for sure.”

The coaching staff has confidence in starting quarterback Trevor Siemian. Thomas does, too.

“He’s just taken control of the huddle,” Thomas said. “I never even practiced with him, never caught of ball with him when he was here [in 2015]. When he gets in the game he’s in control not shy or stuck up or anything. He’s just ready to go.”

I asked Thomas where Siemian needs to work to improve, and Thomas had a hard time coming up with any specifics.

“There’s not much you can just put your hand on because he’s mobile, he don’t make bad decisions, he knows his plays, he knows everybody on the field, he knows the checks made,” Thomas said. “So it’s just not one thing I can say, ‘Trevor you need to work on this’. Because he delivers the ball well out of your break. The ball is on time. He just took advantage of his chance and he’s doing a great job.”

He’ll need to do a great job when the regular season starts, or he won’t have the job for long. Thomas seems to acknowledge the possibility of a quarterback change at some point, but he’s not worried it will become an issue in the locker room.

“I don’t think there will be concerns,” Thomas said. “You know, we had a little rocky start last year, rocky road last year. We know we’re gonna be in a situation where we aren’t going to be the best but we will be better than what we were last year. I think Trevor will be fine and whoever will have to play at the time will be fine. Guys are just going to jump on the bandwagon and we’re going to go with it, we’re going to make something happen.”

It will be easier for the offense to make something happen if the defense continues to keep the opposing offense from making things happen. Thomas thinks the defense can be better, which definitely will help the offense, regardless of who the quarterback may be.

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Consider, if you will, the Rotoworld Fantasy Football Draft Guide

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The PFT-NBC relationship began with a joint effort to market and sell Rotoworld fantasy football draft guides. So in honor of the tiny seed that grew into, well, something large and green and possibly legal for consumption in Colorado and Washington, we’re doing our friends at Rotoworld a favor and pointing out that the Rotoworld Fantasy Football Draft Guide is now available.

Here’s the link to the low-cost product that can help you dominate fantasy draft.

The package includes analysis, customized rankings and projections, a total of 23 cheat sheets, sleepers and busts, team profiles, player profiles of all relevant players, mock drafts for standard leagues, IDP, PPR, and more.

So check it out and give it a try and get ready to make the decisions that make the difference between winning your league or having to get a tattoo of Johnny Manziel doing the money sign on your bicep because you came in last place. Again.

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Report: Karlos Williams works out for Steelers

Karlos Williams Getty Images

Free agent running back Karlos Williams recently worked out for the Steelers, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

Williams was cut by the Bills earlier this summer. He had a difficult summer during which he gained weight and was suspended for the season’s first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

A fifth-round pick of the Bills in 2015, Williams ran for 517 yards and seven touchdowns last season in 11 games. He worked out for the Jets last weekend.

Steelers star running back is Le’Veon Bell suspended for the first three games of the season. The team looking at Williams, who’s also suspended during that time, was probably about getting a feel for what kind of shape he’s in and having a backup plan in place in case DeAngelo Williams or Fitzgerald Toussaint suffer an injury.

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Washington leaves 26 players at home for preseason finale

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Few teams play starters in the preseason finale. Washington didn’t even bring them to Tampa for Wednesday night’s game against the Buccaneers.

The team has announced that 26 players not only won’t play but also aren’t in Florida.

With the roster at 75, that leaves 49 players total for the game, which means that there will be plenty of opportunities for the backups to prove themselves as coach Jay Gruden tries to identify the next 22 players to go, by Saturday.

The only downside is that any players destined to be cut but who suffer season-ending injuries will land on injured reserve, either at full pay or the “split salary” that often is used to protect the team against a likely roster cut suffering a serious injury in training camp or the preseason.

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After being cleared, James Harrison takes social media victory lap

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Steelers linebacker James Harrison said he’d done nothing wrong and insisted he would be cleared.

Wednesday, he was. The NFL announced that its investigation and interviews regarding an Al-Jazeera report on players allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs revealed no credible evidence they had.

On Wednesday evening, Harrison posted a collage (see the picture to the right) on his Instagram account of headlines and screenshots from stories about his being cleared. He tagged it, “It’s only breaking news because you thought I was guilty” and added an all-caps reminder that he’s worked for everything he has “since Day One.”

Now, the Harrison-Roger Goodell friendship can continue.

Harrison and Packers defensive standouts Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, all of whom interviewed with league investigators last week, were cleared. The NFL did not name free agent linebacker Mike Neal, who also interviewed last week, in its release on the investigation’s findings.

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College football at Lambeau Field won’t include Lambeau Leap, by LSU players

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When Wisconsin hosts Louisiana State at historic Lambeau Field this weekend, players who score touchdowns may be tempted to do the thing that Packers players do when they score there.

On Wednesday, LSU coach Les Miles made his position that Lambeau Leaping will result in hitchhiking home.

“I promise you that if anybody jumps [for] the Lambeau Leap, they’ll end up with their thumb out to see if they can get a ride home,” Miles said Wednesday, via CFT. “It’s college football, and we’ll play it that way, and I think our guys understand. We’ll do it right.”

The NFL allows the Lambeau Leap, even though it technically violates league rules regarding celebrations. College football has a similar rule but no similar exception.

Wisconsin players have yet to receive a similar warning. Then again, they’ll have a much shorter trip home.

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Jimmy Graham’s status for Week One to be determined “late next week”

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tight end Jimmy Graham #88 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against the Chicago Bears at CenturyLink Field on September 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tight end Jimmy Graham won’t be in the lineup for the Seahawks on Thursday when they close the preseason against the Raiders, but the fourth week of the preseason has never been the date on people’s minds when it comes to Graham’s return to game action.

Week One against the Dolphins is the date that everyone has been watching and there’s still no answer from the team about whether Graham will play. Coach Pete Carroll was typically upbeat on Wednesday, but said a determination won’t be made for another week or so.

“Jimmy has been practicing full-go, and we’re thrilled about it,” Carroll said, via the team’s website. “He is too, he has had a lot of fun being back out with the fellas and all. He had a full week of practice, he’ll have another full week of practice, and we’ll just keep taking it day-to-day. … We won’t know until late next week.”

Taking Graham off the physically unable to perform list is a good sign that the Seahawks expect to have Graham in the lineup in the first few weeks of the season, but there’s not much to gain from pushing for the first of 16 games if it creates undue risk about the next 15 on the schedule.

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Vikings officially place Teddy Bridgewater on injured reserve

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 12:  Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Vikings announced the extent of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury on Tuesday, they didn’t say that Bridgewater’s season was over even though his torn ACL and dislocated knee made it all but certain.

The Vikings have now gone ahead and made it official. The team announced on Wednesday afternoon that Bridgewater has been placed on injured reserve. While teams can hold off on designating a player to return thanks to a rule change this season, the player must be placed on IR after the cut to 53 players so Bridgewater will spend the foreseeable future rehabbing with 2017 in his sights.

Minnesota also formally announced the expected return of Brad Sorensen to the quarterback room. Sorensen was waived this week, but reports after Tuesday’s injury indicated he would come back if he cleared waivers.

Sorensen joins Shaun Hill and rookie Joel Stave on the active roster while Taylor Heinicke remains on the non-football injury list after hurting his foot while kicking a door.

The Vikings also placed defensive lineman Scott Crichton and defensive back Antone Exum on injured reserve after they passed through waivers unclaimed.

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Exclusive video of the Tim Tebow baseball showcase!

Former NFL quarterback, Tim Tebow does a 60-yard run for baseball scouts and the media during a showcase on the campus of the University of Southern California, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016 in Los Angeles. The Heisman Trophy winner works out for a big gathering of scouts on USC's campus in an attempt to start a career in a sport he hasn't played regularly since high school. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) AP

So with two hours of radio on NBCSN every day, we’ve got four break segments per hour that require a little filler. One of today’s segments was supposed to include highlights from the Tim Tebow baseball showcase a/k/a one-man fantasy camp.

And so when we came back to air the folks in the control room rolled the footage. But it wasn’t the footage that we’ve now seen ad nauseum of Tebow shagging flies like a non-alcholic-beer-league softball player or running 60 yards in a straight line with the form of the Oregon mascot or swinging a bat but never seeing where the ball goes.

No, they tricked me with something I didn’t expect. It made me laugh. It possibly will make you laugh, too.

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Justin Forsett is back to 100 percent

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 1: Running back Justin Forsett #29 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on prior to a game against the San Diego Chargers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ravens running back Justin Forsett became a late bloomer in NFL circles two years ago, when he rushed for 1,266 yards during his first season in Baltimore. Now approaching 31 and coming back from a broken arm that shortened his 2015 campaign, Forsett is ready to build on what he did in 2014.

Appearing Wednesday on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, Forsett said he’s 100 percent again. He also said that he’s feeling great and fresh because, for most of his early years, he didn’t have the same wear and tear that other running backs experience. He also has noticed something positive about being an experience (i.e., older) player in the NFL.

“The game is just so much slower than it was when I was 24,” Forsett said. “Coming into the league, your head’s kinda spinning and things are happening fast on and off the field. Now I kind of got a little more wisdom underneath me and the game has slowed down and I can anticipate things before they happen.”

He said that he noticed the change in his third or fourth year, “where you really start to understand not only what you do as a professional, as a running back, but you start understanding schemes [and] you start understanding what the guys around you are doing and it kind of makes your job easier.”

Forsett pays plenty of attention to what one guy around him (his quarterback) does, and Forsett thinks Joe Flacco looks the same following a torn ACL suffered last season.

“I haven’t noticed any difference as of late,” Forsett said. “I mean he’s been in the pocket, standing strong, getting the ball out, he’s been leading the same way. Joe is Joe, man, I mean there’s no high or low he’s even keeled in all situations. So even after the injury Joe’s remained the same.”

Steve Smith is still the same guy he’s always been. For a story from Justin Forsett about the intensity and competitive nature of Smith, check out the video accompanying this blurb.

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NFL to announce Philadelphia as 2017 draft host city

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 18:  A detailed photo of the football on the tee prior to the start between the Arizona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFC championship game on January 18, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 2017 NFL draft will be in Philadelphia.

The league announced today that Philadelphia and NFL officials will have a joint announcement at City Hall tomorrow. Although the league hasn’t officially announced that Philly is the draft host, it’s obvious that is what will be announced, after months of reports that Philadelphia was the front-runner for the 2017 draft.

After hosting the draft in New York City for decades, the NFL moved it to Chicago for the last two years. Now the league is looking to turn the draft into a traveling road show that will draw big crowds across the country. Several NFL teams have said they want to host the draft in their towns.

One drawback to Philadelphia as the 2017 host is that the Eagles don’t have a first-round pick, after sending their 2017 first-rounder to Cleveland in the Carson Wentz trade. That might dampen some local interest in the draft, but the NFL still thinks Philadelphia will be a good host.

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Report: Bills claim Patrick Lewis

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes as center Patrick Lewis (65) blocks Arizona Cardinals' Calais Campbell (93) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

The Bills have claimed center Patrick Lewis via waivers, NFL Network reported Wednesday.

The Seahawks waived Lewis Tuesday. He started nine games at center last season but this summer had fallen to second on the depth chart behind Justin Britt.

With the Bills, Lewis will presumably compete with Fernando Velasco for the backup center job behind Eric Wood.

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Pete Carroll: “Many scenarios” where Brandon Browner could return

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 08:  Brandon Browner #39 of the Seattle Seahawks lines up against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on August 8, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks ended Brandon Browner’s second stint with the team when they released him this week, but coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that there could be a third tour of duty at some point.

Seattle was working to convert Browner from cornerback to safety after bringing him back this offseason. Carroll said Wednesday that the team “ran out of time getting him ready” and that it was tough to keep him on the roster given the presence of other players who were ready to fill the safety jobs.

“He could play for us, which he did in games,” Carroll said, via the Seattle Times. “But I think there was still aways to go and I thought in respect to him, give him more time to find a place with somebody else. There are many scenarios where we would ask him to come back, so we left with that exchange. I love that guy and his competitiveness and toughness and all of that. But it was a big request. We weren’t making him play safety and faking it we needed him to play to be on the roster and help us and the other guys were just ahead of him.”

Browner didn’t look too good at cornerback in New Orleans last season, which is a stumbling block to finding work at that position with another team and, given where we are in the calendar, a continued transition to safety is going to be difficult. That may leave him available should the Seahawks’ needs change, although it seems clear they think they’re better off without Browner in the secondary this year.

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