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Redskins players not wild about Shanahan’s “evaluation”

Lorenzo Alexander AP

It might be prudent and right for Mike Shanahan, coach of the 3-6 Redskins to declare the rest of the season about evaluating for the future.

But that doesn’t mean the people he’s evaluating have to like it.

A number of Redskins players weren’t pleased with the comments, whether they were true or not.

You have a lot of guys that want to win now, people toward the end of their careers who have been here a long time, haven’t been to the playoffs in a long time,” veteran Lorenzo Alexander said, via Mike Wise of the Washington Post. “And ultimately that’s what you play for, to go to a Super Bowl.

“Bein’ 3-6 really [stinks] because right now we’re on the outside looking in. . . . I’m not thinkin’ about next year. That’s an offseason thing for me. But you know it’s hard when you see yourself in that type of position and your head coach is saying those types of things. It’s disappointing.”

Two other players, who didn’t want to be identified, also told Wise they were bothered by the remarks.

As we pointed out last night, someone ought to evaluate Shanahan as well. His 14-27 record gives him a lower winning percentage than either Jim Zorn or Steve Spurrier, guys who were regarded as over their heads.

Shanahan was offered a chance to explain his comments afterward, but declined through a team spokesman. In many ways, the Redskins are stuck with him, as he’s in the middle of a five-year contract, and they don’t have a first-round pick until 2015 after going to get Robert Griffin III. Making the decision to make the play for RG3 means you’re committed to that course, and the guy who sanctioned it.

So for Shanahan to declare this team over is easy to perceive as insulating himself from criticism, and the guys he has to coach for the next two months might not necessarily appreciate taking the fall for him.

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Corey Coleman may return punts for Browns

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 5: Corey Coleman #1 of the Baylor Bears runs the ball down field against the Texas Longhorns in the fourth quarter at McLane Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) Getty Images

When we last heard from the Browns about first-round pick Corey Coleman, coach Hue Jackson was discussing the wideout’s need to get into better physical condition after finding it lacking it early practices.

The latest word on Coleman is more positive. The topic on Wednesday was the possibility that Coleman will return kicks for the team this season. Coleman returned kickoffs at Baylor early in his career and returned just three three punts, but special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said neither that nor the fact that Coleman is expected to play a major role as a receiver stands in the way of him landing the job.

“He can do both,” Tabor said, via Cleveland.com. “He’s an explosive player and he’s developing right now so we’re working on all of those things. He obviously has great speed. He has some really good short-area quickness, a make-you-miss type guy and then has a good burst to go. He’s doing a nice job for us and we’ve just got to keep developing him. … If it’s going to help you win, that’s what we want to do. I don’t get caught up in where a guy’s at just from this standpoint: Antonio Brown for the Steelers might be regarded as one of the best players in the NFL, and he’s their punt returner.”

Antonio Brown comparisons are probably best kept in reserve until Coleman has actually taken a few hundred snaps in the NFL, but that lack of experience as a pro is also why the team should see what he can do in a variety of roles. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said he’s fine with the idea because “we know that [Coleman will] score the ball” however it gets into his hands, so that’s all the more reason to find as many ways as possible to get it to him.

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T.Y. Hilton “more motivated” in 2016

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Getty Images

At this time of year, everyone is undefeated and optimistic and playing really fast in shorts. And all of that makes it easy to get excited about how players look on the practice field.

Stephen Holder of the Indy Star wrote that praise Colts coach Chuck Pagano has bestowed upon wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been “no embellishment” and that Hilton has been the star of the team’s early spring practices.

“I’m more motivated, more hungry,” Hilton said. “I’m just ready to go, man. After watching the playoffs last year and not being in there, I’m just ready to get back to that point and continue to lead this team.”

Hilton still caught 69 passes for 1,124 yards last season, his third straight season over 1,000 yards. But quarterback Andrew Luck was hurt and the Colts weren’t the same team they were in the previous two seasons. Hilton signed a big-money extension before last season because he’s Luck’s top target, and for the Colts to get back to the playoffs they’ll need another big season from Hilton.

“T.Y. is having as good an offseason as anybody, probably better than anybody,” Pagano told reporters. “I’ve never seen this guy practice as fast as he’s practicing right now. He’s done it day in and day out.”

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Colts sign third-rounder Le’Raven Clark, wrap up draft class

LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 17: Le'Raven Clark #62 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders prepares for the next play against the Kansas Jayhawks during the game on October 17, 2015 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Colts are the latest team to wrap up their draft pick signings, getting the last of them under contract this morning.

The team announced that third-rounder Le’Raven Clark was signed today.

The tackle from Texas Tech (it’s funnier if you imagine Sylvester the Cat saying it) was a four-year starter in college, and has a chance to earn time quickly on a line that needs all the help it can get.

The Colts spent their first-rounder on center Ryan Kelly from Alabama, and doubling up on linemen early shows that they at least realize they need to protect quarterback Andrew Luck if they’re going to pay him.

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Tom Brady appreciated Kevin Faulk’s statement at the draft

Tom Brady AP

Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk made a statement at the NFL draft when he wore a Tom Brady jersey while announcing the Patriots’ third-round pick. Faulk did it to show that the whole Patriots organization is behind Brady, who is facing a four-game Deflategate suspension.

Brady saw that statement, and he liked it.

Faulk told Toucher & Rich that Brady called him to say how much he appreciated the show of respect from a former teammate.

Thank you for just showing the respect that we had for each other,” Faulk said Brady told him.

Faulk said he was a little nervous about the reception he might get, but the feedback has been positive.

“[I] went to the green room right before they take you to the stage,” he related. “And the girl who took me to the green room, she was a New England Patriots fan. And she was like, ‘I love it!’ So that just gave me that much more . . . confidence. It was like, ‘Let’s go do this!'”

Roger Goodell probably didn’t care for Faulk’s statement, but it was well received in New England, from the fans to Bill Belichick to Robert Kraft, and to Brady himself.

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PFWA objects to Bills’ new media policy

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 14: Rex Ryan speaks at a press conference announcing his arrival as head coach of the Buffalo Bills on January 14, 2015 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills unveiled a new media policy on Tuesday. It created a stir among media members.

It also provoked an official response from the Pro Football Writers Association, through current president Jeff Legwold.

In an email to the Associated Press, Legwold called the new policy “a vast overreach of the guidelines in the [NFL’s] current media policy.” Legwold also said that the policy is “not only unnecessary, it is not in compliance.”

Among other things, the Bills prohibit during all practices (closed and open) “[r]eporting on personnel groupings, sub-packages, players who are practicing with individual units (first-team, second team, goal line, offense, nickel defense, etc.), special plays, who is rushing the passer, dropped passes, interceptions, QB completion percentage, etc.”

Coach Rex Ryan blamed the new policy on the team’s P.R. staff, a somewhat ludicrous proposition which overlooks the reality that the P.R. staff works for the coaching staff, not vice-versa.

Via the Associated Press, Bills P.R. chief Scott Berchtold justified the new approach by explaining that it’s unfair for reporters to keep stats on players during practice, because it’s simply practice. Regardless of whether there’s any merit to that theory, it sounds like something that’s coming not from the P.R. staff but from the coaching staff.

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New replay rule has a significant potential loophole

Upon Further Review Football AP

As mentioned on Tuesday (but thereafter forgotten by me), the NFL’s new replay rule has one specific facet that merits closer attention. The twist in question resulted either from shoddy rule-drafting — or from a subtle but nevertheless deliberate effort to make a potentially dramatic change to the rules.

Here’s the key portion of the provision, which expands last year’s practice for the postseason to all games: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock.”

As written, it’s not entirely clear whether “appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock” represent the only circumstances in which consultation is permitted. While that’s likely the intent, the rule as written arguably allows consultation with on-field officials “to provide information on the correct application of playing rules” generally, with the list following the term “including” being only examples of what is permitted.

On one hand, if the new procedure were intended to have broader relevance, the word “including” would have been followed by “but not limited to.” On the other hand, if the rule were intended to be restricted solely to the “appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock,” it should have been written more clearly.

For example: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information regarding the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock.”

Or: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules relating to the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock.”

Or: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, status of the game clock, and nothing more.”

So either someone did a subpar job of writing this fairly important sentence or someone knew exactly what he or she was doing, with the goal of allowing the league office to provide real-time assistance to on-field officials on any and all matters relating to “the correct application of playing rules.”

On one hand, I was reluctant to point this out, because I fully support the unlimited use of the communication system between the league office and the officiating crew in each and every stadium, in an effort to get every call right. On the other hand, if that power is going to be woven into the rules, it needs to be done in a way that is clear to everyone — including the 32 folks who voted on the new rule.

Again, there’s a chance the someone simply didn’t write the rule as well as it could have been written. Either way, it’s a situation the cries out for clarification at some point before the 2016 football season commences.

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Frank Reich: “Furthest thing from the truth” to say no QB competition

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Sam Bradford #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks to pass against the Miami Dolphins in the first half of the game at Lincoln Financial Field on November 15, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz, they talked about Sam Bradford being their No. 1 quarterback for the 2016 season and they didn’t change their tune after picking Wentz with the second overall pick or when Bradford was away from the team after asking for a trade earlier this month.

Head coach Doug Pederson went as far as saying that he doesn’t want Bradford looking over his shoulder at Wentz or Chase Daniel because Bradford is “my guy.” Pederson’s assistants don’t seem to have the same view of things.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on Tuesday that the Eagles shouldn’t pre-determine how the depth chart at quarterback will shake out and offensive coordinator Frank Reich shared similar thoughts during a Wednesday morning appearance on WIP.

“No, [calling Bradford the clear No. 1 is] probably not the right impression,” Reich said. “I’ve been around this business a long time as a player and as a coach, and one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate is it’s not a contradiction to say you’ve got to have order. Because if you don’t [have] order it’s chaos. So, if you’re the head coach you gotta come in and you’ve gotta establish order. There has to be organization, there has to be order, but the other thing that — as coaches — that you’ve got to establish is a culture of competition. This is one of the most competitive industries in the world and so, to say that there’s not competition, that’s just the furthest thing from the truth.”

The Eagles aren’t paying Bradford $18 million because they want him to sit on the bench, but it would be foolish to let that sway their decision if it is clear that one of the other quarterbacks is better suited to the starting job. Whether Daniel and/or Wentz get enough opportunities in the next few months to prove they are right for the job remains to be seen, however, and Pederson’s consistent line about Bradford likely signals the direction that the competition will take.

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Bucs moving practices to morning in hopes of avoiding worst of Florida heat

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 4: General view of a thermometer on the field reading above 100 degrees before the game between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on June 4, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Dodgers won 11-8 in eleven innings. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dirk Koetter won’t take on another team as the head coach of the Buccaneers for a few months, but he’s found an opponent to game plan against this spring.

That opponent goes by the name of Mother Nature and Koetter is hoping to limit her impact on his team while they are on the practice field. The Bucs held practice at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday and Koetter said that the team will continue to work in the morning through training camp and the preseason in hopes of avoiding the worst of the heat in Tampa.

“The last 10 years I’ve been coaching in the South I really do believe there is a cumulative effect over the course of the season, from August until the end of the year, when you’re out here, even if it’s for walkthrough at 12, 1, 2 [p.m.] and it’s 95 degrees and the sun is beating on you,” Koetter said, via the team’s website. “I just think there’s a cumulative effect. We are going to do everything we can to try to chip away at that. There’s some things we can’t get away from, but we’re going to do what we can.”

As a local meteorologist pointed out, there’s no guarantees that the weather will be cooler early in the day and the nature of summer in Florida is such that you’re going to be broiling at some point or another while on the practice field. If you can limit those moments as much as possible, practices should be more productive which should benefit the team as they prepare for more tangible opposition.

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Mark Sanchez makes it back to practice field for OTAs, after all

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez attends the 142nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 07, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Churchill Downs) Getty Images

There was some back-and-forth when Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez had surgery to repair a minor thumb injury on his non-throwing hand.

Sanchez himself was hopeful of not missing any time, but the Broncos were skeptical he’d be ready to go.

But when they took the field Tuesday for OTAs, the presumptive starter was out there on the field, his left thumb in a small wrap but otherwise normal.

That allowed Sanchez to make a good first impression on his new teammates, as he tries to take over for some guy named Peyton Manning.

That’s what you like to see in a competitor,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said of Sanchez, via Art Stapleton of the Associated Press.

Sanchez was the first quarterback in line during all the individual drills, but gave way to Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch during team periods, so he’s not all the way back yet.

“Anytime you’re not in there full go, you’re just itching to get back into the swing of things,” Sanchez said. “But this was better than nothing and we’ll just take it smart, slow and steady.”

Of course, with a first-round pick on hand, and coach Gary Kubiak talking up the unknown Siemian, Sanchez has some obvious motivation to do what he can to remind his new team he’s the only one there with actual NFL experience. Lynch’s draft position means he’ll eventually get a chance to be the guy, but Sanchez knows he has an opportunity here to give his own career a boost by playing alongside a tremendous defense.

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Bills get defensive when discussing Shaq Lawson’s surgery

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Shaq Lawson #90 of the Clemson Tigers reacts against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills sold first-round pick Shaq Lawson as an immediate contributor.

But now that he’s had shoulder surgery and may miss some time in the regular season, the Bills are saying they’re taking the long view with the former Clemson pass-rusher.

We knew this was a possibility,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said, via Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. “When we came together, we are like, ‘what is the best thing for this young man and what is the best thing for our team?’ Well, the best thing for our team is to get this kid at 100 percent and ready to roll for us, and that’s exactly what we did. He’s going to make a 100-percent recovery from this injury and at some point he’ll be playing and he’ll be rolling and every single Bills fan out there, in my opinion, will be happy we drafted him.”

But in following with the Bills’ theme of the day yesterday — trying to evade the relentless and dastardly pursuit of truth by the media — Ryan was evasive when asked why they weren’t more forthcoming about an issue that most saw as inevitable.

“Guys, he can play right now. If we never had the surgery, he could play right now. But what we’re trying to get is Shaq Lawson at 100 percent,” Ryan said. “That’s why we decided to have the surgery when we did. We could have waited during the season and then at some point if he had to go with the surgery, he would have been lost for the rest of the year. This way, we get him and we know at some point we’re going to have him – and not just have him out there playing, but at 100 percent.”

They just don’t know when that will be, and if they’re not going to let us know who dropped a pass in practice, they’re certainly not going to share such an important piece of information with us.

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Packers “being smart” with Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson AP

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson’s return from last year’s torn ACL has progressed well in recent months and Nelson said in April that he had resumed running routes.

Nelson also said that he hoped he’d be participating in OTAs with his teammates, but the Packers haven’t yet given him the green light to take part in all drills. Nelson is doing individual work and coach Mike McCarthy said that the team will evaluate things each week to determine if Nelson is ready to do more.

While Nelson would like that, he doesn’t sound like he’ll be too surprised if a full return to action waits until the summer.

“We don’t want to push it too much because we’re still in May,” Nelson said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Our goal is obviously September. Obviously they’re being smart. They’re probably doing the right thing; obviously you want to push the limits.”

Given how long Nelson has been in the Packers offense and how much the Packers missed him last season, keeping things low key for as long as possible seems the likeliest course of action in Green Bay.

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Stephen Ross wants to win, not just host a Super Bowl

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 23:  Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross walks the field before a game between the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 23, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was clearly relieved to have been involved in a winning Super Bowl bid yesterday, especially after it was mentioned he sunk $450 million of his own money into the project.

“I wish it was $450 million,” he replied, suggesting his renovations to his stadium cost even more than initially reported.

But Ross also has another rather large piece of unfinished business, as he hopes to get his team into the game and not just his city.

I want a Super Bowl winner,” Ross said, via Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post. “That’s my legacy. That’s what I would love.”

That should serve as a reminder that no matter how rich these guys get, the power of the game still has a hold on them, and not even the gift of a Super Bowl hosting slot could obscure that for the moment.

When it was suggested that no team has ever played a Super Bowl on its home field, Ross replied: “I’m looking to be the first — if I don’t play before.”

“I think we’ve got a great team going, you know, in terms of football operations and I think we’ve just got to see it on the field,” he said. “The momentum is good.”

Of course, Ross has a grandiose view of his own operation. Earlier this offseason, he declared: “From every aspect except the playing field, we’re probably the first class organization in the National Football League.”

And now that his region is back in the tourist loop, he can get to work on that other important part of the equation

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Knowshon Moreno wants to play in 2016

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 28:  Knowshon Moreno #28 of the Miami Dolphins looks on in the fourth quarter during action against the St. Louis Rams at Sun Life Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) Getty Images

A recent report from Mike Klis of KUSA said that running back Knowshon Moreno was “80 percent done” mentally when it came to making a decision to retire, but a source very close to Moreno is taking issue with that.

That source would be Moreno himself. Moreno responded on Twitter to an article describing him as “likely done with football” by writing that the opposite was true.

“This is not true,” Moreno wrote. “I plan on being back on the field in 2016.”

For that plan to come to fruition, Moreno is going to need to find a team that wants to facilitate the continuation of his playing career. Moreno last played in 2014 with the Dolphins, but tore his ACL shortly after returning from a dislocated elbow and has had a long history of knee problems over the course of his career.

That’s not a great selling point for a running back, although it’s certainly possible that a team or two would take a look at Moreno to see if there’s anything left in the tank. It doesn’t seem like the likeliest outcome, but Moreno isn’t ready to move on at this point.

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Tyler Eifert could miss the start of the regular season

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 13:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball after catching a pass during the first quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert is probably wishing he had never been a Pro Bowler right now.

Eifert suffered an ankle injury in the Pro Bowl that was slow to heal and will now require surgery, which he is scheduled to undergo today. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Eifert could miss the first couple of games of the regular season.

That’s a big blow to the Bengals, and it may be a big blow to the Pro Bowl. Players are already increasingly declining invitations to play in the game. In seven months, you can bet that many NFL players will be thinking about Eifert when they consider whether it’s really worth it to accept the “honor” of playing in a meaningless exhibition game.

Eifert has already missed 19 games in his three-year career. Last year Eifert played in 13 games and caught 52 passes for 615 yards, with 13 touchdowns.

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Rueben Randle out after gallbladder surgery

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Rueben Randle #82 of the New York Giants scores a 45 yard touchdown in the third quarter to take the lead in their game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Rueben Randle has spent the last couple of months getting used to life with the Eagles, but that’s going to be on hold for a bit after his offseason took a turn to the operating room.

Randle is recovering after having surgery to remove his gallbladder earlier this week. The procedure typically doesn’t lead to a long recovery period, although the demands of playing professional football are different than those of most other jobs when it comes to returning to work after a surgical procedure.

The Eagles website suggests Randle may not return to the field until training camp, when he would resume a push to earn snaps alongside Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor in the Eagles offense. Josh Huff and Chris Givens will likely see more reps in practice until Randle gets the green light to pick up where he left off.

Randle signed a one-year deal with the Eagles in March after spending the first four years of his career with the Giants.

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