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MRI coming for Kendall Wright

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The Titans badly lost their game on Sunday, and they may have lost for a while one of their best young players.

Receiver Kendall Wright, a first-round pick in 2012, will have a Monday MRI on his injured elbow.

Wright has 40 receptions for 351 yards and three touchdowns in his first eight NFL games.  He had two catches for 30 yards before being injured on Sunday.

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Terrell Owens, Michael Vick to debut flag football venture

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Basketball fans looking for a fix this summer can take in the Big 3, a three-on-three competition full of retired players headed by rapper Ice Cube and former Raiders executive Amy Trask.

Football fans may have a similar option next summer, if tonight’s test goes well.

According to Sal Pizarro of the Bay Area News Group, former stars including Terrell Owens and Michael Vick will be among the players involved in tonight’s game of the American Flag Football League in San Jose.

The group plans to play a full schedule next year, but tonight’s game is their version of a preseason game, to work out the kinks of the game and the broadcasting.

“When I think about football in the future for guys who want to further their career, this could be an opportunity for them,” Vick said in a video posted on the AFFL’s Facebook page. “They could get enjoyment and fulfillment out of the flag league. I just wanted to be one of the first pioneers being involved.”

Former 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia will be there as well, providing color commentary.

If nothing else, it’s an outlet for former players, and something to fill time during the slowest month of the calendar in sports. And hopefully, no one gets hurt, as a couple of guys did during the Big 3 debut Saturday night.

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Connor Barwin feeling right at home with new team, in old spot

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Connor Barwin had proven himself in one defense, and felt like he was beginning to in another.

But even if he wasn’t hoping to be released by the Eagles after they transitioned him to a 4-3 defensive end, he fell into a comfortable spot, where he can again rush as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense of coordinator Wade Phillips with the Rams.

It was a big adjustment for me,” Barwin said of playing in a 4-3, via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. “I thought the last month of the season was probably my best four games. And I was excited to be back there and continue to adjust in that new role because it takes time.

“But that didn’t work out and this couldn’t be a better situation for me.”

It works, primarily, because it already has. Barwin played for Phillips during his most productive stretch in the league with the Texans, and the 30-year-old doesn’t appear to have lost a step to his old coach.

“He’s bigger and stronger than he was,” Phillips said. “He ran a 4.5-something at the [NFL scouting] combine when he came out, so he can run.

“But he’s a big, strong fast guy now.”

Barwin’s going to be counted on for more than just pass-rush with the Rams, as he was one of a number of veterans brought in this offseason to lend some ballast to a young team. And with the talent they already had on that side of the ball, it’s the kind of move that could pay big dividends for both the player and the team.

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Tom Brady finishes first in Top 100 players poll

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NFL Network likes to fill the slowest part of the offseason with a list of the Top 100 players in the league, and this year, for the first time, a player has repeated as No. 1.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ranked as the best player in the league in this year’s poll of players, the second time he has been so honored. Brady also finished first the first time NFL Network did the poll, in 2011. Other players to finish first are Aaron Rodgers in 2012, Adrian Peterson in 2013, Peyton Manning in 2014, J.J. Watt in 2015 and Cam Newton in 2016.

The value of the Top 100 players list has been questioned, as many players say that they and their fellow players don’t really take the voting — which asks players to list their Top 20 players — seriously. And every year there are some rankings that are head scratchers. This year Watt called his own ranking “a joke.”

After Brady, this year’s Top 5 consisted of No. 2 Von Miller, No. 3 Julio Jones, No. 4 Antonio Brown, No. 5 Khalil Mack, No. 6 Aaron Rodgers, No. 7 Ezekiel Elliott, No. 8 Odell Beckham, No. 9 Le’Veon Bell and No. 10 Matt Ryan.

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Former Dolphins step up to replace Jim Kiick’s lost Super Bowl ring

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Former Miami Dolphins running back Jim Kiick has been without his championship ring from Super Bowl VIII for a long time.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins and some of his former teammates stepped up in an attempt to rectify the issue.

The Dolphins presented Kiick with a new ring a few weeks ago. However, the new ring is actually a replica of the ring for Super Bowl VII, which capped the Dolphins’ undefeated 1972 season.

It was nice to get it,” Kiick said. “Now I have two. The ring was more important than the money.”

Kiick spent the majority of his seven-year career with the Dolphins. He made two Pro Bowls in 1968 and 1969 and led the AFL with nine rushing touchdowns in 1969.

Kiick has been dealing with some mental impairment and is staying in an assisted living facility, according to a recent Sports Illustrated piece by S.L. Price. However, Kiick disputed the severity of his situation as asserted in the piece.

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Seahawks’ third-round pick Shaquill Griffin to be in mix for starting role

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Until Deshawn Shead can return from his torn ACL, the Seattle Seahawks will need to find at least a temporary option to start opposite Richard Sherman to begin the regular season.

While the leader in the clubhouse to earn the job is veteran Jeremy Lane, third-round pick Shaquill Griffin will likely factor into the discussion during training camp as well.

“The competition is wide open, these guys understand that,” defensive coordinator Kris Richard said. “I’ve said it for years, and I know people kind of look at me like I’m crazy, but Richard Sherman’s job is up for grabs. The competition is open, the best players are going to be out there and they’re going to play for us. The best guys are going to be out there, and if he shows he is more than able and more that capable of being out there and helping this football team, then he will play.”

Lane has played five seasons for Seattle and started a career-high nine games for the team last season. With Seattle shifting to utilize nickel defensive looks more frequently, Lane was a regular on the field. While he can play outside, the Seahawks have previously used him mostly in the slot. But with Shead not expected back until after the start of the season, Seattle needs another starter in the interim.

Griffin left a good impression during the limited activity of the offseason for Seattle’s coaches to envision how he could factor into the discussion as well.

“He’s got probably one of the best corner minds that we’ve had for a young guy around here,” Richard said. “That’s just in regards to leverage, positioning, the understanding of our coverages and where we need him to be. He has picked it up fairly quickly. We’re going to be really excited to see him strap it up and get out there and actually be able to compete for the football while it’s in the air. That’s going to be the next phase, but his technique has been improving day after day, and he has real strength. He has strength in his hands, you can tell he’s a powerful guy, and obviously his speed is there.”

Added head coach Pete Carroll: “He looks good. He looks really good. If you look at our draft class, I think I told you the other day, the guys look like they fit. They fit the expectations. He’s really diligent. He’s real fast. Technique-wise, it’s not hard for him to make it look right. Camp will be huge for him,” Carroll said.

Neiko Thorpe, sixth-round pick Mike Tyson, DeAndre Elliott and Pierre Desir will all factor in to the battle as well, but Lane and Griffin will head into camp as the favorites to win the job.

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Tamba Hali laments departure of John Dorsey in Kansas City

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Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali has seen good, and bad, front office management during his 11-year tenure in Kansas City.

He played through the final three years of Carl Peterson’s tenure in Kansas City and the rocky four years of Scott Pioli’s run before John Dorsey and Andy Reid took over in 2013. Dorsey and Reid have combined to lead the Chiefs to three playoff appearances in four seasons. So Hali is understandably a little caught off guard by Dorsey’s sudden departure from the Chiefs last week.

From a subjective opinion, I wasn’t too pleased,” Chiefs veteran linebacker Tamba Hali said Monday on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network. “I’m really fond of John. Mr. Dorsey, he’s done a tremendous job since he’s been with the organization so everything that happened the past week really caught a lot of us off guard. But I’m sure the Hunt family knows exactly what they’re doing with the re-signing of our coach Andy Reid. I think everything will be fine but Mr. Dorsey will be missed with the Chiefs.”

Dorsey signed Hali to a three-year extension with the Chiefs last year after Hali was named to a fifth straight Pro Bowl in 2015. The Chiefs compiled a 43-21 record in Dorsey’s four years as general manager.

Ryan Crowden, Scott Fitterer, Louis Riddick and Brent Veech are among the candidates to replace Dorsey.

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Adam Gase gives Ryan Tannehill vote of confidence

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Adam Gase wouldn’t make a prediction on Ryan Tannehill’s future a year ago after being hired by Miami. But after the Dolphins quarterback established career highs in completion percentage, touchdown percentage and passer rating in going 8-5, Gase gushes about Tannehill.

“We were put in a lot of tough positions last year,” Gase said, via Clark Judge of the Talk of Fame Network. “And I felt like — especially in our fourth-quarter games, which we had quite a few of them, he did a great job of leading our team [and] finding ways to win.

“Sometimes they weren’t pretty as far as how we had to win them, but I love the fact that he’s the same guy from start to finish. You see him get excited every once and awhile, but it’s probably one of those plays where he makes a good throw, and he gets crushed. But he’s the same guy all the time. And when you can find a guy like that there’s a lot there for us to just keep working on and find ways to get better.”

Gase wants Tannehill to become more aggressive this season, letting it rip, but Gase likes how far the former Texas A&M star has come in the past year.

“I think he’s really made a lot of strides from when I got here,” Gase said. “A lot of it has been his own development through experience.”

Tannehill, 29-35 in his first four seasons, has quieted critics for at least the moment.

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NFL Shop gets very confused about location of Washington’s team

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Apparently, the reluctance of some (I’m looking at me) to use the nickname of the Washington NFL franchise has created some confusion for the fine folks at NFLShop.com.

Via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, a line of “State Pride” license plates offered by the league has the Washington team logo over the outline of the state of Washington.

Of course, Washington is in D.C., with the name technically being the team’s only connection to the area. Home games currently are played in Maryland, and training camp currently is held in Virginia.

The link to the item is now dead. Hopefully, someone managed to order the thing before the item was yanked.

And, even more hopefully, the man for whom both the state and the capital were named is currently making the same face he was making in the portrait accompanying this article regarding the blunder, somewhere.

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Riddick is a candidate in Kansas City, but he hasn’t directly been contacted yet

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A strange situation emerged on Sunday morning, when the league-owned media conglomerate (i.e., partially owned by the Chiefs) reported that the Chiefs had reached out to ESPN analyst and former NFL defensive back Louis Riddick about interviewing for the unanticipated G.M. vacancy in Kanas City. Riddick, who presumably would be interested in interviewing for the job given his interest in the 49ers G.M. position earlier this year, took to Twitter to declare that he hasn’t been contacted by the Chiefs.

So what’s going on? One theory, as offered earlier today on the non-vacation vacation edition of the PFT Live podcast (and in the video attached to this post) is that Riddick simply hadn’t been contacted yet, but that he will be. In that case, his more prudent move arguably would have been: (1) to appreciate having his name in circulation for another G.M. job; and (2) to wait for what may have been inevitable.

As one media source explains it to PFT, the truth is that, technically, the Chiefs hadn’t directly contacted Riddick, but that the team had contacted his representation. Which allowed Riddick to technically claim that he hadn’t been contacted by the Chiefs.

So why did Riddick, who definitely is a candidate for the job, shout down the report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media on social media? It likely has something to do with what he said, or more accurately didn’t say, about the situation to ESPN. Another factor quite likely may be the fact that ESPN’s NFL information machinery ended up being scooped by a competitor — a dynamic that one specific reporter at ESPN is reputed to be very sensitive about, even if said reporter pretends publicly to not be.

For now, Riddick is continuing to pretend to not be a candidate for the Chiefs job, even though he is. It likely is a matter of time for him to interview, unless he withdraws his name or the team decides based on the clunky public denial to move on to another candidate.

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Teez Tabor’s mental makeup impresses Lions

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Some scouts questioned Teez Tabor’s lack of top-end speed after he ran a 4.62 at the combine, but Lions General Manager Bob Quinn has downplayed concerns by mentioning the cornerback’s instincts and “reactionary athleticism.”

Tabor has impressed Lions cornerbacks coach Tony Oden with his mental makeup.

“I consider him a balcony thinker as opposed to a ground-level floor thinker,” Oden said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “So he wants to know what the guy next to him is doing. Before I go over it he starts to think about, ‘OK, what if this route happens? What’s our adjustment vs. that?’ But it’s in a positive way. Sometimes you get guys doing it, trying to just kind of get on your good side. He’s doing it because it’s a legit question.”

While Oden cautions that Tabor has much to learn, the second-round pick has impressed thus far. Tabor will compete with Nevin Lawson and D.J. Hayden for time opposite Darius Slay.

A three-year starter at Florida, Tabor made 104 tackles, nine interceptions and 37 pass breakups.

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Ezekiel Elliott relies on hurdling to avoid getting hit in the knees

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Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will appear on the cover of a magazine while wearing no covering on his body. He’s the featured athlete in this year’s edition of the ESPN The Magazine “body issue,” which features “all nude, tastefully done” photos of various athletes.

In the press release announcing the placement of Elliott on the cover of the issue, ESPN included some quotes from Elliott, the most interesting of which relates to his habit of hurdling. Though he doesn’t say it directly, the clear message is that he’s trying to avoid taking low hits to the knee.

“One of my signature things is to hurdle people,” Elliott says. “I think it’s one of the most impressive physical feats I’m able to do, being a bigger, physical running back. I don’t have the highest vertical, but I think it’s more of a mental thing. Being a bigger running back, defensive backs will go lower on you — they tend to cut-tackle you. I just kind of gives them the aspect where they have to worry about me jumping over them and right through them; it adds an aspect to my game. I ran hurdles in high school. I was a really good hurdler.”

To continue to be a really good running back, Elliott needs to be durable. Which means it will be important for him to avoid taking the kind of hits that could make mincemeat of his knees.

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Vikings release statement supporting Michael Floyd

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The Vikings continue to support Michael Floyd as they have since signing him. On Monday, Floyd was sentenced to a day in jail for violation of his house arrest.

“When we signed Michael Floyd, we hoped he would show signs of improvement and we continue to expect that he shows progress and a professional attitude,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said in the statement. “We believe Michael will be a productive member of the Vikings organization, both on and off the field. Pursuant to the ruling of the Arizona Court earlier today, Michael will serve the remainder of his sentence and we expect him to be with the team at the start of training camp in Mankato when the players report on July 26.”

The Vikings supported Floyd’s defense that kombucha tea caused him to violate alcohol tests that were part of the terms of his house arrest. Floyd said he did not realize kombucha tea contained alcohol, which he was prohibited from consuming as part of his sentence for a December DUI in Arizona.

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Vernon Davis recalls the hardest hit he ever took, from Kam Chancellor

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Washington tight end Vernon Davis is heading into his 12th NFL season, but one hit stands out above all the rest as the hardest he’s ever taken.

Davis made an appearance for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and told a group of kids that the hardest hit he’s taken came from Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, who hit Davis so hard he felt disoriented.

It was crazy. He hit me so hard, I just got up, I didn’t know where I was going. I kind of lost my memory a little bit. I just got up like this, my face was just like aaagh,” Davis said as he made a face, making the kids laugh. “I just didn’t know what happened. I was like, ‘Wow I just got hit by a very big man.’ He hit me hard. You know what somebody told me? He said, ‘Shake it off. It’s all right. Shake it off.’ I’m like, ‘I can’t remember anything. You tell me to shake it off? Why don’t you go shake it off, buddy?’ That was quite a hit.”

The hit Davis referred to gave him a concussion and drew a flag on Chancellor, although Chancellor was not fined by the NFL.

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Dak Prescott working on eliminating “potential Kryptonite”

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Dak Prescott arguably had the best rookie season for a quarterback in history. He went 13-3 as the starter with 3,667 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, only four interceptions and a 104.9 passer rating.

Whether it was easy or not, Prescott made his rookie season look that way.

Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, though, has warned Prescott that defensive coordinators have spent the offseason studying Prescott’s every move.

“You’ve got to build on the good things,” Linehan said, via Matt Mosley and Ed Weder on The Doomsday Podcast. “There were a lot of good things for a young player, but you know they will be gunning for him, studying him a little bit more. You’re not going to sneak up on anybody. They’re going to find out what it is about your game that is strong and what maybe wasn’t as good, and you really dig deep and you study. You say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to be better against this certain, whether it’s this blitz or this coverage they might be working on, my potential Kryptonite so to speak.’ So I think you’ve really got to hone in on that and be a little proactive with it.”

Everyone — from Jerry Jones to Jason Garrett to rookie teammates — has spent the offseason lauding Prescott’s work ethic, which Linehan calls “rare.” Prescott hasn’t sat idly by waiting for defensive coordinators to catch up with him.

“Every day we give him something more,” Linehan said. “It just makes sense to do in a systematic and timely fashion. I don’t think you say, ‘Hey, Dak, in your second year you need to do 10 times more.’ You need to do a few things more every day, just like you did last year. Where you started the season isn’t where you finished. We were doing things at the end of the year we didn’t even dream of doing at the beginning of the year, but there is a time factor that needs to go by.

“…Our job is to put him in a position to succeed and his job is to go out and the execute the plays we call in the situations that we’re in. That’s probably one of his best attributes is he plays his position. He takes it to another level based on a guy who does all the intangible stuff that some guys just don’t get. He’s got that part. The mental side, the experience side, that comes with daily reps and really off the field preparation that he does. He’s got some rare work ethic type stuff.”

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“Huge win” for Michael Floyd

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Yes, Vikings receiver Michael Floyd is going back to jail. No, he’d prefer not to. Yes, the fact that his sentence has been limited to only one day is being viewed by him and his representatives as a major victory.

One source with knowledge of the situation called it a “huge win,” pointing out that the presiding judge had broad discretion. The judge could have, for example, forced Floyd to spend in jail the 96 days he was given the opportunity to serve on house arrest. Likewise, the judge could have imposed a fresh sentence of house arrest, with an order requiring Floyd to serve the term in Arizona.

As it stands, one day in jail and five days of house arrest represent a “can I start serving it right now?”-type of an outcome, allowing Floyd to quickly pay his debt to Arizona and then to focus on his efforts to make the team in Minnesota, and to have a major impact on the field in 2017. This outcome allows him to miss not a single day of training camp and the preseason.

Also, the decision possibly will have no impact on his looming suspension from the league for the extreme DUI guilty plea. He faces a baseline suspension of two games, and it can be increased based on aggravating factors. The positive alcohol test becomes less of a problem if, from the judge’s perspective, the glitch necessitated only one day in jail.

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