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Jermichael Finley drops by Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network

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Packers tight end Jermichael Finley got some attention early last month recently for saying that he felt like he and quarterback Aaron Rodgers were suffering from a lack of chemistry this season and intimating that the quarterback had to play scared because he didn’t have time to throw the ball.

The Packers have found some better offensive footing in the past few weeks, but Finley’s production remains much lower than expected coming into the season. You can find out how that’s impacting his thoughts about things when he makes an appearance on Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network Tuesday.

Mike Florio, Shaun King and Ross Tucker will also be on hand to talk about the latest Eagles loss and what they can do to shore up their leaky offensive line over the final eight weeks of the season. Bob Glauber of Newsday will also be on hand as the crew whips around the biggest news and injuries around the league as we put a final bow on what went down in Week Nine.

It all gets going at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

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NFLPA sues NFL and Management Council in Minnesota

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On Tuesday, the NFL filed a four-page lawsuit against the NFLPA in Manhattan. On Wednesday, the NFLPA filed a much longer lawsuit against the NFL and the NFL Management Council in Minnesota.

The 54-page petition requests that the the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota vacate the arbitration award in the Tom Brady case, arguing that the four-game suspension “defies” the Court’s decision in the recent Adrian Peterson case, “ignores” the “law of the shop” and essence of the labor deal, and “gives the back of the hand” to fundamental principles of “procedural fairness and arbitrator bias.”

The Peterson case is relevant because, according to the NFLPA, Judge David Doty concluded that the NFL is required to give players advance notice of potential discipline.

“Brady had no notice of the disciplinary standards that would be applied,” the petition says at page 3, “and no notice of the potential penalties.”

The petition also points out that the league and the NFLPA collectively bargained the punishment for “alleged equipment tampering by players,” and that the NFL was not permitted to disregard those provisions without advance notice.

The petition likewise explains that the “Competitive Integrity Policy” was “never given” to players, and that it specifically applies only to teams, not to players.

As to the allegation that Brady failed to cooperate with the investigation, the NFLPA argues that “a fine is the only penalty that has ever been upheld in such circumstances.” (In 2010, Brett Favre was fined $50,000 for failing to cooperate with an investigation regarding allegations that he texted inappropriate photos to a Jets employee.)

More generally, the petition claims that the discipline violates the “law of the shop” that requires fair and consistent treatment of players by basing Brady’s discipline on air-pressure tests that “did not generate reliable information,” and that the arbitrator (Commissioner Roger Goodell) was “evidently partial.”

As to the discipline based on air pressure, the NFLPA notes that the NFL first issued procedures for ball pressure testing only three days ago — “a stark concession that it had no procedures in place when the data on which Brady’s punishment was based was collected.”

At page 8, the petition calls the 20-page ruling from Commissioner Roger Goodell “little more than an exercise in rehashing the [Ted] Wells Report,” and accuses Goodell of making “unfounded, provocative and mystifying attacks on Brady’s integrity.”

As to that point, the NFLPA dusts off the ruling of former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue in the bounty case of 2012, who found that the NFL has never suspended players solely for obstructing an NFL investigation: “In my forty years of association with the NFL, I am aware of many instances of denials in disciplinary proceedings that proved to be false, but I cannot recall any suspension for such fabrication. This is no evidence of a record of past suspensions based purely on obstructing a League investigation.”

Right or wrong, the fact that the NFL doesn’t, and hasn’t, suspended players for such behavior arguably means that the NFL can’t suddenly start doing it, without collective bargaining. Which means that the NFL technically cannot suspend Brady for failing to cooperate — and that no players can be suspended for failing to cooperate until the NFL secures the ability to do so at the bargaining table.

The document also contains a lengthy quote from the statement provided on Wednesday by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Which really isn’t surprising. Kraft’s verbal challenge to the league office sounds a lot like the kind of rhetoric for which NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith often draws criticism.

This time around, the union Smith runs and the team Kraft owns have one big thing in common: They agree in their mutual strong criticism of the NFL.

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Raiders name Beth Mowins preseason play-by-play announcer

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The Raiders announced today that veteran announcer Beth Mowins will call play-by-play for their preseason games this season.

Mowins will be a rarity in the NFL as a female in a broadcast booth. Although many women work NFL games as sideline reporters, the play-by-play and commentator duties are almost always handled by men. Mowins is eminently qualified for the Raiders job, having spent two decades calling games for ESPN, including many college football games. Her presence in the Raiders’ booth is a positive step.

Former Raiders Tim Brown and Matt Millen will join Mowins in the booth.

“Calling games for one of the premier franchises in the NFL is a real privilege, especially alongside a Hall of Famer and a four-time Super Bowl champion,” Mowins said in a statement released by the Raiders. “The Raiders have always taken pride in being innovative and we are excited to engage with Raider Nation in what promises to be an exciting buildup to the new season.”

Photo via Beth Mowins on Twitter.

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Dolphins donning throwbacks in December

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The 2015 Miami Dolphins may not be able to rediscover the glory of years past, but they’ll at least look like the teams that competed for (and won) championships.

The Dolphins will dust off their now-defunct uniforms for a Monday night visit from the Giants on December 14.

It’s wise for the Dolphins to break out the throwbacks in December, given that they’ll close the season with four home games only four Sundays apart, starting December 6 and ending January 3. With the blackout policy suspended, the Dolphins need to do whatever they can to entice fans to show up four times in five weeks to close the season.

The Dolphins introduced their current futuristic, helmetless Dolphin logo in 2013. The fact that the base color for the helmet remained white permits the old uniform to be resurrected by swapping out the decals, since the NFL now requires players to use one helmet for the entire year.

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Nothing happening between the Giants and Eli Manning, yet

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Recent comments from Giants co-owner John Mara suggested that an effort will be made to get quarterback Eli Manning signed soon. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, no such efforts have commenced.

It means that the outside chance of Manning getting a new deal by the start of camp is really no chance.

This doesn’t mean the Giants won’t soon start the process, but they haven’t started it yet. And it likely won’t be a simple negotiation, given the position Eli plays and its value to an NFL franchise.

There’s no reason to think a deal won’t get done, eventually. Manning has consistently said he wants to stay with the Giants, and the Giants would have a hard time getting quality play out of the quarterback position without him.

Still, the process of locking Eli up with what probably would be a retirement contract has no yet begun.

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Packers won’t put Aaron Rodgers on a training camp pitch count

Aaron Rodgers AP

Aaron Rodgers has dealt with some injuries, and he is the MVP.

But that doesn’t mean the Packers are going to put their quarterback on any kind of pitch count in training camp.

Aaron is going to have to get exactly he needs,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, via Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconson.com. “That’s obviously the priority, and it’s not as much about Aaron, it’s about [his] connection with the other players. So that’s goal No. 1.”

The Packers do have three other quarterbacks in camp, and they’ll want to get new backup Scott Tolzien enough work to get him ready. But with fifth-rounder Brett Hundley and Matt Blanchard in camp, there will be a natural governor on the amount of reps Rodgers gets.

But the 31-year-old also believes in building timing with his receivers, which means he’s not going to want to give up too much work.

“It’s a conversation. There’s a point every year where the throwing might get a little too much and then we back off,” McCarthy said. “You always have to push to that point. The most important thing, he knows [that point] better than anybody.

“We’re not counting throws all the time and it’s not a concern as it will be when he’s later in his career. He’s still very physically fit and so I don’t feel like I need to protect him because of any type of elbow or shoulder issue, thing like that. But we just work through it, communicate and see where he’s at every day.”

Because of his importance to their fortunes, they’ll keep a close eye on him. But he’s also not so old that he’s unable to take a full workload either.

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Clock is ticking for Seahawks and Russell Wilson

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At some point between now and Thursday night, the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson will work out a new contract. Or they won’t. If they don’t, they won’t talk about the situation any further until after the season ends.

Forgotten (or perhaps never noticed) in the hours since the Tom Brady ruling appeared is the notion that the $21 million annual offer to Wilson reflects not the total value of a new deal, but the “new money” average.

Since Tuesday morning, PFT has determined that, indeed, the $21 million offer refers not to total value but includes the $1.5 million Wilson is due to make under the final year of his rookie deal. Which means that, if Seattle has offered $21 million per year over four years in “new money,” the total value is $85.5 million over five years — a total value of $17.1 million per year.

For any deal done after 2015, the “new money” average will match the total value. And Wilson will likely be able to get a lot more than $21 million per year, from the Seahawks or someone else.

Is Wilson being greedy if he tries to get $25 million per year or more? Before answering that question, consider this: He has brought tremendous value to the franchise over the last three years, for total compensation of $2.1 million. So when talking about what he deserves for the future, it’s important to ponder what he deserves for the past.

For now, the question is whether the Seahawks and Wilson can find a middle ground in the present, or at least in the next 24-36 hours, both as to total value and the amount of the deal that is fully guaranteed. If they can’t, and if Wilson sticks to his vow to not talk contract after training camp starts, a new clock will start ticking — and the next countdown could end with a boom.

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Report: Jason Pierre-Paul to continue rehabbing on his own

Jason Pierre-Paul AP

On Tuesday, Giants co-owner John Mara criticized defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul for not letting Giants officials visit him in the hospital after his July 4 fireworks injuries and said that he doesn’t think Pierre-Paul is “receiving very good advice right now” regarding his lack of communication with the team.

It doesn’t look like Pierre-Paul will be changing his course as a result of those comments, however. Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports that Pierre-Paul “isn’t likely” to be swayed by the feelings of the man who has been signing his checks the last few years. Per Graziano, Pierre-Paul will continue rehabbing on his own in South Florida.

Those checks are likely at the heart of Pierre-Paul’s desire to heal away from the team. If he signs his franchise tender, the Giants can put him on the non-football injury list and not pay him until he’s activated. The two sides could sign an agreement that guarantees Pierre-Paul his salary, but there’s no sign that’s on the table at this point and, of course, the Giants can still rescind the $14.8 million tag altogether.

If Pierre-Paul continues to stay away from the team, he’ll likely return when doctors tell him he’ll pass a physical that would eliminate the NFI possibility. There’s no timeline for that, although a source told Graziano that Pierre-Paul will be ready to play “sooner than a lot of people think.” Given the uncertainty surrounding his status, it’s hard to know when that might be and that’s probably not going to make Mara or anyone else with the Giants feel any better about the situation.

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Falcons sign DeMarcus Love

DeMarcus Love AP

The Falcons had Jake Long in for a visit this week, but he went on to meet with other teams and the Falcons have signed another free agent offensive tackle on Wednesday.

The team announced that DeMarcus Love is the newest member of the roster.

While adding Long would likely create increased competition for starting jobs in Atlanta, Love’s addition looks like a depth move. A sixth-round pick of the Vikings in 2011, Love has yet to play in a regular season game during his NFL career while making stops with the Jaguars, Giants, Saints and Broncos after parting ways with Minnesota.

With Lamar Holmes recovering from a broken foot, the Falcons have Jake Matthews at left tackle and Ryan Schraeder and Tyler Polumbus as possibilities at right tackle unless there are any other additions to the mix.

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Junior Galette cited for driving on suspended license

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Two weeks before he was cut by the Saints, Junior Galette was involved in yet another off-field issue.

Galette was cited for three misdemeanor traffic violations, including driving on a suspended and expired drivers license, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

There’s no indication that the traffic violations played a role in the Saints’ decision to cut him, which was motivated primarily by a domestic violence charge that was later dropped, and the emergence of a tape that appeared to show him hitting a man and a woman with a belt. But the traffic violations will add to a sense around the NFL that Galette is the kind of guy who just can’t stay out of trouble.

It’s that sense around the NFL that may make it hard for Galette to find a new team. Although he’s a very good player on the field, with back-to-back double-digit sack seasons, his frequent off-field issues may make him more trouble than he’s worth.

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Report: Cardinals will release Alfonzo Dennard

Jimmy Legree, Alfonzo Dennard AP

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard landed in Arizona after the Patriots cut him this offseason, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be making it to training camp with the team.

Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that the Cardinals, who open camp in a couple of days, will release Dennard. Dennard joined the team in May, which wasn’t all that long ago but apparently it was enough time for Arizona to know he wasn’t the right fit for their secondary.

Dennard was a 2012 seventh-round pick of the Patriots and many thought he was a potential steal at that point in the draft because he was projected to go much higher before a pre-draft arrest hurt his stock. He played just 29 games for the Pats over three seasons, however, and the team dropped him this year despite losing Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner as free agents.

Dennard doesn’t turn 26 until September, so there’s a good chance he’ll find another team that wants to take a look at him this offseason. The Cardinals, meanwhile, will roll on with Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel and others at corner.

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Eric Berry on fighting cancer: Fear nothing, attack everything

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Chiefs safety Eric Berry met the media after his return to practice on Wednesday and sent a message of determination that explains why he’s back to work less than a year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Berry was flanked by his parents, who he thanked along with the Chiefs, his teammates and many others for supporting him during his fight, and said that keeping a positive mindset was crucial to dealing with the disease. Part of that positive mindset became a motto of sorts for Berry over the last eight months.

“Fear nothing, attack everything,” Berry said.

It wasn’t always easy to do that. Berry talked about the fear he had that he would die in his sleep and how he had to set a goal of getting out of bed some days because of the toll that the treatment was taking on him. He also talked about the difficulties of working out and staying in shape while going through chemotherapy.

“There would be times I would work out and just end up crying after the workout because, first of all, I couldn’t believe that I made it through the workout, I couldn’t believe it was that hard,” Berry said. “I was trying to push myself to the limit, I couldn’t push myself how I wanted to. I had to break it down to really embracing the process and understand that everything wasn’t going to come back overnight. When you add chemo into something like this, that’s a whole different monster because it literally feels like you’re dying.”

Berry said the last eight months were a “battle every day” to get back to the spot he found himself in on Wednesday. Berry fought that battle very well and we wish him continued health and success for years and years to come.

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Cowboys won’t negotiate with Jeremy Mincey, will fine him

Jeremy Mincey AP

If Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey wants a new deal, he’s not going to get it by staying away.

And he’s actually going to lose money if that’s the route he takes.

Via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys executive Stephen Jones said the team will fine Mincey for every day he’s not present, and they won’t negotiate as long as he’s not there.

Teams can fine players $30,000 per day for missing training camp.

Mincey’s scheduled to make $1.5 million in base salary this year, after signing a two-year deal with the Cowboys last offseason.

He has a history of erratic/costly behavior from his time with the Jaguars. They once signed him to a four-year, $20 million contract, but cut him after a series of missed meetings and other issues.

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Jake Long expected to visit Broncos next

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The Giants had Jake Long in for a second visit on Wednesday as they consider their options in the wake of left tackle Will Beatty’s torn pectoral, but the Giants aren’t the only team that lost a player at that spot to injury this offseason.

Not coincidentally, they also aren’t the only team kicking the tires on the former first overall draft pick. Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reports that Long is planning to leave New Jersey on Wednesday night to visit with the Broncos.

The Broncos lost Ryan Clady to a torn ACL this spring and have Ryan Harris and rookie Ty Sambrailo on the roster as contenders for the spot.

Per Vacchiano, the door hasn’t been closed on the Giants signing Long but the tackle isn’t in a rush to pick a team while he considers his options. Long visited with the Falcons this week as well and other teams could also be interested in seeing how Long has responded after a second torn ACL before cementing their plans on the offensive line.

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Kevin White to start Bears camp on PUP list

Kevin White AP

A shin injury suffered in offseason workouts has landed Bears first-round pick Kevin White on the physically unable to perform list as training camp gets underway.

General Manager Ryan Pace said Wednesday that the team wants to take it easy with White given how much time remains before the start of the season and that they want him to focus on building up his cardiovascular strength before letting him loose on the field. Pace also said that White isn’t thrilled by the decision.

“He’s fired up,” Pace said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “We kind have to put handcuffs on him.”

Quarterback David Fales also wound up on the PUP list because of an illness, but outside linebackers Willie Young and Lamarr Houston have both been cleared to practice after suffering a torn Achilles and ACL, respectively, last season.

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NFLPA must respond to NFL lawsuit by August 13

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The #DeflateGate saga is sufficiently compelling to spawn not one but two federal lawsuits. The second one will be filed soon in Minnesota. The first was filed Tuesday in New York.

Via a lawyer with both a Twitter and PACER account, the New York case has been assigned to Judge Richard M. Berman. Berman has directed the NFLPA to respond to the initial filing by August 13, with this note: “Court will set a conference following receipt of defendant’s response.”

Judge Berman, a senior-status jurist who was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, has been characterized as a “liberal judge.” That’s good news for the NFLPA, since the NFLPA is a union and liberal judges tend to be more favorable to the interests of labor than management.

Of course, the NFLPA views Judge David Doty as an even better option, and Judge Bergman’s initial order gives the union an opening to push the Minnesota case forward until August 13. So there’s a chance the NFLPA will try to push things very aggressively in Judge Doty’s courtroom, with the “liberal judge” in New York possibly inclined to stand down and let Judge Doty run with this one.

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