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No fines for Pats hits on Bradford

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford lies on the field during the second quarter of the NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Wembley Stadium in London Reuters

After Sunday’s game in London between the Pats and the Rams, the coach who has been outscored 104-7 in eight quarters against Bill Belichick complained about multiple unflagged hits on St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford.

“[T]hey . . . missed three roughing the passer calls on our quarterback,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.  “Those are 15-yard penalties and they keep drives alive.  But, as I said, it’s a difficult game to officiate and they’re not going to see everything, but I’d like to have seen [referee Walt Coleman] do a better job of protecting our quarterback.”

Coleman didn’t protect Bradford, and now the league office isn’t, either.

Per an NFL spokesman, no fines have been issued against any Patriots players for hits on Bradford.

Plays that don’t draw flags in real time routinely result in fines, after the NFL has had a chance to study the tape.  In this case, a study of the tape apparently didn’t change the position that the rules weren’t broken.

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Making sense of the Arthur Jones PED suspension

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18:  Arthur Jones #97 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on before the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

With Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones suspended four games under the PED policy, some may think that he committed multiple violations before triggering a suspension, because that’s how suspensions work under the substance-abuse policy (which encompasses marijuana and other non-PED-type drugs). Under the PED policy, however, the first positive test results in a suspension.

In 2014, the formula changed to impose a two-game suspension if the player tests positive for a diuretic or masking agent, a four-game suspension if the player tests positive for a stimulant or anabolic agent, and a six-game suspension if he tests positive for a both  a “prohibited substance” and a diuretic or masking agent, or if the player attempted to substitute, dilute, or adulterate a specimen, if the player attempted to manipulate a test result, or if the player committed a violation of the law or other documented violation based on credible evidence.

A second violation triggers a 10-game suspension, and a third violation results in a banishment for at least two full seasons.

Jones joined the Colts in 2014 after spending his first four seasons with the Ravens. In two years with the Colts, Jones has appeared in only nine games with three starts.

As explained by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star, the ineffectiveness, injury history, and suspension could combine to prompt the Colts to dump Jones sooner than later.

Jones signed a five-year, $33 million deal in 2014. Cutting him now would result in a $1.1 million cap charge for 2016, and a $2.2 million cap charge for 2017.

But with Jones previously agreeing to reduce his salary from $4.5 million to $2.5 million for 2016, the Colts may decide to see whether Jones provides any evidence of an ability and willingness to step up before they tell him to step off.

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Hue Jackson has drawn up plays specifically for Terrelle Pryor

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20:  Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor #17 of the Cleveland Browns rushes against cornerback Richard Sherman #25 and outside linebacker K.J. Wright #50 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Browns 30-13.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The guy who once drew up plays for Terrelle Pryor the quarterback is now doing the same thing for Terrelle Pryor the receiver.

As explained by Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Browns coach Hue Jackson has devised specific ways to get the ball into Pryor’s hands so that he then can use his size and speed to do good things for the offense. It’ll happen via short, quick passes and reverses.

Five years ago, Hue Jackson was the coach in Oakland, and Pryor was a quarterback who arrived via the supplemental draft.

As Pryor continues to learn the receiver position, plays aimed specifically at letting him do what he does best will increase his confidence, justify his roster spot, and ultimately help the team win games.

Pryor isn’t the only weapon who will be used creatively by Jackson, according to Pluto. Running back Duke Johnson will be  used at times as a receiver, because Jackson wants to find different ways to throw passes to him.

Ultimately, the player throwing the passes will have the biggest impact on the offense. The more Jackson can get out of the options available to quarterback Robert Griffin III (or, if there’s a true competition, perhaps Josh McCown), the better the quarterback will look.

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Dennis Green’s success with any quarterback may be his greatest legacy

Bears v Vikings Getty Images

After news broke that longtime NFL coach Dennis Green had died at the age of 67, Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway paid tribute to Green.

“My heart and prayers go out to Dennis Green and his family. Had the pleasure of playing for Dennis at Stanford for 2 years. Great Coach!” Elway wrote on Twitter.

But the single most impressive accomplishment of Green’s career may be that he didn’t need a great quarterback like Elway. In fact, Green could take just about any quarterback, plug him into Green’s offense, and get to the playoffs. Green took the Vikings to the playoffs eight times in his 11 seasons as head coach, in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Just take a look at the quarterbacks Green had in those seasons:

1992: The Vikings went 8-4 with Rich Gannon as their starter and 3-1 with Sean Salisbury as their starter. Although Gannon would later become a very good quarterback with the Raiders, he was viewed at the time as a nobody — and Salisbury was viewed as worse. And yet Green rode them to the playoffs in his first season as head coach.

1993: Jim McMahon was viewed as old and washed up and just a backup at that point in his career, but Green brought him to Minnesota and rode him to the playoffs.

1994: Warren Moon is a Hall of Fame quarterback, but he was seen as way past his prime when the Vikings acquired him in a trade with the Houston Oilers. And yet with Moon as the starter, the Vikings made the playoffs again.

1996: Moon was injured at the start of the season, so Brad Johnson — who had never started a game in a four-year NFL career up to that point — stepped in and led the Vikings to a 4-0 start. Moon would eventually return, he and Johnson would flip-flop on the depth chart, and it would ultimately be Johnson who led the Vikings to the playoffs.

1997: Johnson shared the job with Randall Cunningham, who had been viewed as so far past his prime that he wasn’t even in the league the year before. Again, Green led the Vikings to the playoffs.

1998: With Cunningham supplanting Johnson as the starter, the Vikings had their best season of the Green era, going 15-1 and falling in the NFC Championship Game.

1999: Green benched Cunningham for Jeff George, another past-his-prime quarterback, and once again found a winning touch, as the Vikings went 8-2 in George’s 10 starts and made the playoffs again.

2000: Green started Daunte Culpepper and saw him put together an incredible season, with 3,937 passing yards, 33 passing touchdowns, 470 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. The Vikings lost the NFC Championship Game, which would be the last playoff game Green coached.

That revolving door of quarterbacks is worth repeating: Rich Gannon, Sean Salisbury, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George and Daunte Culpepper. Green never had one franchise quarterback he could count on year after year. Instead, Green found a new quarterback year after year. And he kept finding ways to win. That was a great piece of coaching.

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Gabbert seen as better fit than Kaepernick in Kelly’s offense

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 08:  Blaine Gabbert #2 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after being tackled close to the goal line during the first half of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Levi's Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. The ball was ruled down on the 1-yard line and the 49ers scored on the next play.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Blaine GabbertColin Kaepernick quarterback competition has an early leader, and it’s the guy who was once viewed as a draft bust, not the guy who was once viewed as a future superstar.

That’s the word from ESPN, which reports that Gabbert has picked up new coach Chip Kelly’s offense, is seen inside the organization as a better fit than Kaepernick, and has the edge heading into training camp.

Although Kelly and 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke have said publicly that they like Kaepernick and still think he can succeed, virtually all the talk coming out of San Francisco this offseason has indicated that Gabbert is leading in the quarterback competition. In fact, it’s fair to wonder if the only reason Kaepernick is even on the roster is that the 49ers misjudged the trade market and thought when they picked up his guaranteed $11.9 million salary this season that they’d be able to unload him for a draft pick.

When Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season and to the NFC Championship Game after the 2013 season, he was widely viewed as one of the league’s up-and-coming stars. At the same time, Gabbert was struggling mightily in Jacksonville as a No. 10 overall pick who appeared to be a massive mistake in the draft. At the time, it would have been unthinkable that Gabbert and Kaepernick could compete for a job and Gabbert would win. But from all indications, that’s what’s expected to happen in San Francisco this summer.

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Ameer Abdullah: NFL can’t take the kickoff away

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Lions running back Ameer Abdullah led the league in kickoff return yards as a rookie last year. But he’s worried that by the time his career ends, there will be no such thing as a kickoff.

Abdullah told MLive.com he knows the NFL has talked about eliminating the kickoff, but he doesn’t believe there’s any real evidence that it’s too dangerous, and he doesn’t want to change a play that has been so fundamental to the sport of football for as long as the sport has existed.

They can’t take the kickoff away . . . I have to see the numbers to believe it’s too dangerous,” Abdullah said. “I return kicks. I watch the film. What I see is what I see, and I think there are more dangerous plays out there. You can only have two-man wedges now too, so it’s basically just one-on-one blocks. I just don’t think it’s dangerous enough to eliminate.”

Abdullah likes kickoffs not only because returning them is part of his job but because they’re exciting. And he correctly points out that eliminating the possibility of an onside kick would fundamentally change football.

“It’s one of the most exciting plays in football,” Abdullah said. “It’s a play that changes the game, especially if you have a game where the offenses and defenses are matching each other. The kickoff return makes a difference. And what happens with onside kicks? Do they take that away too?”

The onside kick is probably the strongest reason to keep the kickoff: Without the onside kick, a game with more than a one-possession lead in the fourth quarter becomes a lot less exciting. But if the NFL can figure out a way to ditch the kickoff while preserving the opportunity for a team to get the ball back after scoring, the kickoff may go away. No matter how much Abdullah and other players want to keep it.

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Dez Bryant recently made agent change

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 21:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates his touchdown reception against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the wake of Thursday’s item regarding the potential unintended consequences of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant’s decision to fight a lawsuit filed against him by Texas state senator Royce West with a lawsuit of his own, some league insiders have expressed confusion about the move, given that Bryant’s representation team includes agent Tom Condon, who surely has the ability to connect the dots from Bryant taking a fight with trusted advisors like Royce West and David Wells public and the havoc those trusted advisors could create if motivated to do so.

It’s a good point. But here’s the problem: Condon no longer is a member of the representation team.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal recently reported that Bryant ended the joint arrangement of Condon and Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports by parting ways with Condon and keeping Roc Nation. So, presumably, Condon didn’t have a chance to warn Bryant about the pitfalls of alleging that West and Wells (who is not yet a party to the litigation) misappropriated funds and/or failed to maximize his earning potential through endorsements and other marketing deals.

It’s unclear whether Bryant was warned and ignored the advice, or whether no one bothered to tell him that throwing stones at a couple of guys who were once in his inner circle could create all sorts of problems within the confines of the litigation, and possibly beyond. If the litigation quietly goes away sooner than later, that could be a result of Bryant getting and heeding the message on a better-late-than-never basis.

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NFL insists players named in PED report must give interviews

Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The NFL is not backing down on its insistence that the players named in an Al Jazeera documentary about performance-enhancing drugs must agree to interviews as part of the league’s investigation.

The players involved are Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews, Steelers linebacker James Harrison and free agent (and former Packer) Mike Neal. Peyton Manning is also part of the NFL’s investigation, although his retirement means he’s no longer a member of the NFL Players Association and not a part of the ongoing battle between the league and the union over whether players must give interviews to league investigators.

The four players submitted affidavits responding to the allegations made against them in the Al Jazeera documentary, but Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the NFL still insists that affidavits aren’t good enough, and they must give interviews.

The players’ union insists that the NFL has no right to investigate players unless there’s “credible evidence” that they used PEDs. The NFL says the league only needs credible evidence to impose discipline, not to launch an investigation. The league plans to send investigators to Packers camp and Steelers camp to interview the players, but the players are expected to decline to be interviewed.

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Browns add Nick Hayden

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

The Browns announced the signing of veteran defensive lineman Nick Hayden Friday.

The team was in the market for defensive line help after defensive end Desmond Bryant suffered a torn pectoral. Bryant is expected to miss the entire 2016 season.

Hayden has played in 76 career games over seven seasons with the Panthers, Bengals and Cowboys. He started 47 of 48 games over the last three seasons with the Cowboys.

Hayden, 30, was a sixth-round pick of the Panthers in 2008. He has two career sacks and two fumble recoveries.

The addition of Hayden puts the Browns at the cap of 90 players on the active roster. The Browns open full training camp July 29.

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Bears cut Omar Bolden

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Bears released defensive back Omar Bolden Friday, just a few months after signing him in free agency.

Per ESPN’s Adam Caplan, the Bears in March had guaranteed Bolden $80,000 on a one-year contract worth a total of $840,000.

A fourth-round pick of the Broncos in 2012, Bolden played in 56 games in four years in Denver. He had been handling the punt return duties for the Broncos before suffering a knee injury during the playoffs last January.

Bolden had his first career punt return touchdown last season. He only missed one game over his first three seasons before injuries limited him to nine games last season.

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Moss: Dennis Green picked the right words, right beats

50730677 Getty Images

Former Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss shared some memories of former Vikings coach Dennis Green Friday on ESPN’s NFL Live, and Moss remembered one Monday Night Football game during his rookie season for which Green was especially wound up.

“It was a big game, and I remember Coach Green saying throughout the week that he was going to unleash something on the Packers,” Moss said. “Before the game, some of us were playing some beats on the lockers. Now, everybody knew Coach Green liked to play the drums. He played some beats on the lockers, too, but after a minute he started playing the same beat [the players were], not his own. Everybody was geeked up, riled up and ready to go play the Packers.

“He would always say, ‘There’s only one ball. You have to play to one beat.'”

The Vikings won that game, 37-24. Moss had five catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

Green died Friday at age 67. He coached the Vikings for 11 seasons, eight of them playoff seasons, and later was head coach of the Cardinals.

Moss was just officially hired by ESPN. He was a rookie in 1998, when the Vikings went 15-1 and Moss caught 17 touchdowns for what was the highest-scoring offense in league history to that point.

“Coach Green gave me a chance,” Moss said. “I remember him on draft day calling and asking if I was ready to become a Viking. The answer was yes.

“Today I’ve been reading a lot of the comments and the positive things people are saying about him…and they’re very true. He meant a lot to me and meant a lot to others. His legacy will live on.”

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Colts’ Arthur Jones suspended four games for PEDs

Arthur Jones AP

Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Jones can participate in training camp and the preseason but will have to sit out the first four games of the regular season. He can return to the Colts on Monday, October 3.

This is the second time this month that a member of the Jones family has been suspended for violating a PED policy. Jones’s brother, UFC fighter Jon Jones, was pulled from his light heavyweight championship fight after he tested positive for two substances banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. (The Joneses also have a third brother, Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones.)

Arthur Jones missed the entire 2015 season after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason.

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Elliott’s father says his son did no wrong, the truth will come out

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Running back Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State runs with the ball during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Stacy Elliott, the father of Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, released a statement Friday in which he denied any wrongdoing by his son in regard to recent allegations of domestic violence.

“The reported allegations and Internet postings regarding our son are completely false,” Stacy Elliott’s statement said. “Ezekiel has done nothing wrong. The police have investigated this matter and eyewitnesses have verified the lack of any wrongdoing. The actual evidence in this matter clearly indicates what the real motivation was behind the police being called.

“We are confident that when the truth comes to light it will reveal the falsity of these claims. Ezekiel has been fully cooperative with the police and will continue to do so — along with cooperating with the NFL — moving forward.”

The NFL is investigating the allegations made by a 20-year old woman in Columbus, Ohio, where Ezekiel Elliott starred at Ohio State.

Separate reports that have been published Friday say that the incident stemmed from Elliott and the woman breaking up, and also that the Cowboys don’t believe the allegations are true.

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Eagles cut a wide receiver, leaving them three roster spots to fill

Philadelphia Eagles v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

The Eagles made a roster move in advance of reporting to training camp this weekend, giving them three spots to fill.

The team announced they had released wide receiver Jonathan Krause, who was with the team last season.

They now have 87 on the roster, giving them room for some additions before rookies and selected veterans start reporting Sunday.

Krause, who was undrafted out of Vanderbilt in 2014, has also spent time on the practice squads of the Browns and Patriots as well.

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Bill Belichick has the NFL’s least diverse coaching staff

Belichick Getty Images

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has assembled the least diverse staff of any head coach in the NFL, according to an ESPN study of diversity in NFL coaching.

Belichick’s staff of 14 coaches includes just two minorities, meaning the Patriots have the NFL’s least diverse staff, according to ESPN. Those numbers do not include strength coaches and other non-football personnel.

Only three NFL teams have coaching staffs on which at least half the assistants are minorities, and all three have minority head coaches: Ron Rivera’s Panthers, Todd Bowles’s Jets and Mike Tomlin’s Steelers. The five coaching staffs with the lowest percentage of minority assistants — New England, Jacksonville, San Diego, Dallas and Washington — all have white head coaches.

As one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, Belichick will get the benefit of the doubt in a way other coaches would not: It’s hard to argue, given his success, that Belichick has done anything other than hire the most qualified assistants regardless of skin color.

On the other hand, given that Bill’s son Steve Belichick is the Patriots’ safeties coach and Bill’s other son Brian Belichick is a new Patriots scouting assistant, the Patriots may deserve some criticism for perpetuating the NFL’s old boys network.

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Report: Ezekiel Elliott incident stemmed from breakup of relationship

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Draftee Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State arrives to the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

A he-said/she-said situation seems to be shaping up regarding the assault allegations against Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a source claims that the incident stemmed from the fact the first-rounder from Ohio State broke off a relationship with the woman.

The source said the “alleged victim said she would ruin him if he did.”

That version of the story seems to be going around quickly, and Elliott already has members of the Cowboys family vouching for him.

In addition to the team choosing to believe his side of the story at the moment, Elliott has also been in communication with Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin.

Irvin said on the “Rich Eisen Show” that he had spoken and texted with Elliott today since the first reports emerged, and that Elliott denied any wrongdoing.

Irvin said Elliott told him “I didn’t put my hands on her.”

Of course, we haven’t heard the accuser’s side of the story, beyond photos of the injuries which were posted online this morning. Interviews with witnesses provided varying reports, and no charges were filed by police, though the case was referred to prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio.

The NFL has said it would investigate the case for possible violations of the personal conduct policy.

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