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“Muscle Hamster” nickname came from act of chivalry

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Bucs running back Doug Martin hates the name “Muscle Hamster.”  That much we know.  But what we don’t know is how he got it.

Now we do.

Martin, a late-emerging candidate for offensive rookie of the year, tells Mike Garafolo of USA Today that the name initially was applied not to Martin but to his girlfriend at Boise State.

“[S]he was a gymnast,” Martin said.  “Small, but more cut than I was.  My friend [and college teammate] Jarell Root called her a muscle hamster.  So I stood up for her, like, ‘Hey, man, she’s not a muscle hamster!’  And he said, ‘You’re a muscle hamster, too.’  So they called us the muscle hamsters.”

After that, a friend mentioned the nickname in an article about Martin.  And then it ended up on ESPN.  And it took off from there.

At least no one is calling him an elf, angry or otherwise.  Yet.

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Report: Amazon to charge $2.8 million for TNF ad packages

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Those who hope to advertise their goods and services during Thursday night games streamed by Amazon now know what it will cost. It’s still not clear to the rest of us what they will get.

According to Reuters, Amazon will charge $2.8 million for ad packages.

Amazon reportedly can sell 10 30-second spots per game. It’s unclear what an advertiser precisely will receive in exchange for the $2.8 million. Per the report, the $2.8 million package consists of 30-second ads throughout the 10-game slate that will be streamed by Amazon. Reuters notes that published reports indicated Twitter sold packages a year ago at prices ranging from $2 million to $8 million. Without more details are to everything that each package provided to advertisers, it’s impossible to compare Twitter’s deal to Amazon’s.

Twitter reportedly paid $10 million to stream 10 games last year. Amazon reportedly will be paying $50 million for the 10 games, along with (again, reportedly) $30 million in free marketing.

Sources familiar with the deal separately have insisted PFT that the $50 million and $30 million figures are inaccurate, raising the question of whether someone is pumping up the perceived price to be paid by Amazon in order to create the impression that the right to carry the games carries greater value than it actually does. With the current broadcast deals expiring across the board in five years and with real questions lingering about where the multiple billions will come from the next time around, it makes plenty of sense to create the impression that companies continue to pay way too much for the ability to show NFL games. Even if, you know, they aren’t.

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What’s next for John Dorsey?

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Despite today’s news of his ouster in Kansas City, there’s a chance John Dorsey will be landing on his feet, sooner than later.

In January, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dubbed Dorsey, a former Packers executive, as the “best bet” to succeed Ted Thompson as the General Manager in Green Bay. The more immediate question is whether the Packers will be inclined to bring Dorsey back into the fold before such a move is made.

For his part, Dorsey subsequently called his time with the Chiefs the “greatest four years of my life,” and he expressed a desire to stay with the team long enough for his six-year-old son to graduate high school.

Dorsey, who has a year left on his Chiefs deal, can take the year off with pay, stay put in Kansas City, and plan his next move. A respected figure in league circles, he’ll surely find something, somewhere.

He may end up finding the G.M. job that arguably has more job security than any other, since there’s no one person in Titletown who can get up on the wrong side of the bed or catch a wild hair and fire the head of the football operation.

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Tyrunn Walker under investigation for sexual assault

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The Rams’ decision to cut defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker today came just moments before news broke that he is under investigation in a sexual assault case in Louisiana, where he grew up and previously played for the Saints.

The New Orleans Advocate reports that two women told police they were drinking with Walker and another man at a Mardi Gras celebration on February 28 when they began to feel disoriented, and that all four people ended up in a hotel room where the two women can remember little more than waking up and finding Walker and the other man sexually assaulting one of the women.

The local prosecutor confirmed that his office has received the police investigation and is reviewing whether to present the case to a grand jury.

The two women, an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old who are both college students, have filed for a restraining order against Walker and the other man, Justin Williams. Both women spoke to the New Orleans Advocate and indicated they think they were drugged.

Although he is no longer under contract to an NFL team, Walker could be subject to NFL discipline even if he is not charged in connection with this case.

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Chiefs hope to replace John Dorsey by the start of training camp

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When the Chiefs hired coach Andy Reid and then hired G.M. John Dorsey, many assumed that Reid had the same setup he enjoyed in Philadelphia, where he ran the show. In Kansas City, that wasn’t — and isn’t — the case.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Reid and Dorsey separately reported directly to owner Clark Hunt. According to the source, it was Hunt who made the call based on a full review of the all factors to make the move now.

Of course, that won’t keep people from speculating that Reid found a way to make it known in conjunction with his willingness to sign an extension that he wanted to see a change made. The bang-bang timing of the Reid news and the Dorsey news invites that.

A search will commence immediately for a G.M. who will have the same role and authority that Dorsey possessed, reporting directly to Hunt. Internal and external candidates will be considered, with a loose goal of getting the job filled by the start of training camp.

And while it’s very late on the offseason calendar to be making such an important change (it’s the first June firing of a G.M. in a very long time), the quiet spot between the end of the offseason program and the opening of training camp is really the only time of the year when a G.M. isn’t actively working to make the roster better.

Speculation surely will center on people who have experience working with Reid or for Reid. Whether and to what extent there’s familiarity between Reid and the new G.M. will shape the impression as to whether the G.M. has true independence when it comes to shaping the roster.

One name to watch, as one league source has suggested, is co-directly or player personnel Brett Veach. (If Chris Ballard hadn’t left for the Colts, he likely would have been the leading candidate.) But there surely will be plenty of candidates for the chance to put the finishing touches on a franchise that has been knocking on the door for the last four years.

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Kenny Vaccaro not satisfied with career so far

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Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro has been versatile and productive in his four seasons. But it’s not what he wanted or expected.

Vaccaro has yet to make All-Pro or even the Pro Bowl, goals for this season.

I was a top-15 pick,” Vaccaro said, via Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I should be a Pro Bowler. That’s just the way it goes.”

The Saints selected Vaccaro 15th overall in 2013. They have played him at several positions, and Vaccaro has 235 tackles, six sacks, 22 pass breakups and five interceptions. But it has left him wanting.

“I haven’t met any of my goals, and it pisses me off, really,” Vaccaro said. “I want to really, really, really work hard this summer and prepare for the season that I need to have because I feel like a lot of people know it’s in me. A lot of people know I’m good, but I haven’t earned the respect that I need and I want that.”

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Rams, Chargers to hold joint practices

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Los Angeles has two teams now and they will start to get to know each other this summer while waiting for construction on the stadium they plan to share to be completed.

The Rams and Chargers announced their training camp schedules on Thursday and they include joint practices at each team’s training facility. The teams will have a workout on Wednesday, August 9 at the Rams’ training ground in Irvine and they will also work out together at the Chargesrs’ Costa Mesa facility on a date to be determined.

The two teams will also square off in a preseason game on August 26 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Rams are playing until the Inglewood stadium is up and running.

The Chargers will also hold joint practices with the Saints before they play a preseason game on August 20 at the StubHub Center in Carson, which will be their temporary L.A. digs.

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Rams waive defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker

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The Rams released defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker on Thursday. They signed Walker in March to serve as a backup to Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers.

Walker signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent out of Tulsa in 2012. He made the roster but did not take the field as a rookie. Walker played in seven games in 2013 with four tackles and a sack and became a regular in the Saints defensive line rotation the following season, making 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Walker signed with the Lions before the 2015 season but broke his fibula after only four games that season, and he underperformed last season, going from starter to a reserve player and was even benched for a midseason game.

Walker, 27, played 353 defensive snaps in 2016. He appeared in 15 games, finishing the season with 26 tackles and no sacks.

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More negative leaks emerge about Colin Kaepernick

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The big wheels of the anti-Kaepernick machine keep rolling.

In an item that sounds a little like our recent PFT item but that in many ways is fundamentally different, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com shares under the cloak of anonymity more criticism of Kaepernick’s football habits. And, at a time when the 49ers have recently apologized to Kaepernick for a leak to Peter King of TheMMQB.com regarding Kaepernick’s desire to play, these latest leaks come from, yes, the 49ers.

“As one Niners employee explained it, Kaepernick wouldn’t stay late at the facility during the season like many quarterbacks routinely do, saying he’d take work home,” Breer writes. “And there were examples where coaches saw what looked like shoddy prep surfacing in inexplicable mental errors in games. Another staffer, asked if he thinks Kaepernick wants to keep playing, answered, ‘I do think he wants to play — to stay relevant.'”

It’s not clear on the surface of the article whether the leaks come from current or former 49ers employees. Breer has clarified that the person who expressed the belief that Kaepernick wants to play “to stay relevant” was employed by the team a year ago, but Breer has not clarified whether the Niners employee who chided Kaepernick for taking work home is still employed, or whether the leak came before or after G.M. John Lynch told PFT Live that he apologized to Kaepernick for the leaks to King about Kaepernick.

The irony of Breer’s article is that his broader point — Kaepernick needs to speak on his own behalf — comes in an article containing more examples of people speaking about him under the cloak of anonymity. Multiple members of the media have been trafficking in these anonymous opinions, passing them along without scrutiny and thus necessarily presenting them as true.

Breer’s item becomes the latest example of King’s website being all over the map when it comes to Kaepernick. King has consistently and repeatedly argued that Kaepernick should be employed, reiterating the view most recently in King’s weekly mailbag and sharing eye-opening data on Monday from Cian Fahey suggesting that Kaepernick threw only seven “interceptable” passes in 2016, the least in the league. (Kaepernick threw 16 touchdown passes against four interceptions for a 90.2 passer rating last season; imagine how well he would have played if he wasn’t lazy, as Breer’s latest reporting clearly implies.)

Others, like Breer and Andy Benoit, have made their views on Kaepernick clear. Benoit received sharp criticism from Drew Magary of Deadspin.com for making a football-based argument that all 32 starters and 15 backup quarterbacks are better than Kaepernick. While it’s admirable that King allows his people the freedom to write what they want, the issues raised by Kaepernick’s unemployment are too sensitive and too nuanced for a publication to be skittering all over the place regarding whether Kaepernick can or can’t play, regarding whether he does or doesn’t want to play, and regarding whether his unemployment is or isn’t a result of his activism.

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Chiefs fire G.M. John Dorsey

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In a surprise announcement at what is ordinarily the slowest time of the year in the NFL, the Chiefs have fired General Manager John Dorsey.

The Chiefs issued a statement saying Dorsey is out.

“I notified John that we would not be extending his contract beyond the 2017 season, and after consideration, we felt it was in his best interests and the best interests of the team to part ways now,” owner Clark Hunt said in a statement.

That announcement came about half an hour after the Chiefs announced that head coach Andy Reid has signed a contract extension. That will obviously lead to speculation that perhaps Dorsey and Reid weren’t on the same page, and that Reid won a power struggle within the organization. Dorsey recently made the surprising decision to cut an old favorite of Reid’s, Jeremy Maclin.

Dorsey is the third G.M. to be fired since the start of the new league year in March, following Washington’s Scot McCloughan and Buffalo’s Doug Whaley.

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Saints sign Ryan Ramczyk

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Add the Saints to the list of teams with all of their draft picks signed.

The Saints moved into that column on Thursday by announcing that first-round tackle Ryan Ramczyk has signed with the team. Ramczyk, the 32nd overall pick of the draft, signed a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year.

Ramczyk appeared headed for a backup role as a rookie, but left tackle Terron Armstead’s shoulder surgery could lead to a spot in the starting lineup right off the bat. Armstead is expected to miss 4-6 months and Ramczyk is seen as a favorite to take over his role while he’s recovering.

With Ramczyk under contract, there are now 11 unsigned draft picks in the entire league. Seven of those players are first-round picks, including second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky.

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John Mara says Eli Manning has “a lot of years left”

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In 2014, Giants co-owner John Mara said Eli Manning was still “in his prime and still has a lot of good years left.” Three years later, Mara has repeated the same.

“We think he’s got a lot of years left in him,” Mara told WFAN on Thursday, via Dan Duggan of the Newark Star-Ledger.

The difference from three years ago is Manning now is 36 and is entering his 14th NFL season. Manning, who has made 211 consecutive starts, has three years left on his contract.

The Giants started planning for a future without Manning, though, by drafting Davis Webb in the third round. Giants coach Ben McAdoo has said the team intends to give Webb time to develop as the No. 3 quarterback behind Manning and either Josh Johnson or Geno Smith, who are competing for the backup job.

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Andy Reid signs extension with Chiefs

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The Raiders signed their quarterback to a contract extension on Thursday and one of their AFC rivals has done the same with their head coach.

The Chiefs announced that they have reached agreement on a new deal with Andy Reid, who was in the fifth and final year of his current contract. There were no terms announced.

“I’d like to thank Clark and the entire Hunt family for the opportunity to continue my coaching career here in Kansas City,” Reid said in a statement. “We’ve made quite a bit of progress over the last four seasons, but we are not done yet. We are going to continue to work towards our ultimate goal of winning championships. I’ve been blessed by the support of the community, our fans, the Hunt family and the entire Chiefs staff. I’m looking forward to the years ahead as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.”

Reid has gone 43-21 in four seasons with the Chiefs and has taken the team to the playoffs in three of those years. The extension will give him a chance to improve on those totals while overseeing the expected transition from Alex Smith to 2017 first-round pick Patrick Mahomes at quarterback.

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Darren McFadden embraces backup role with Cowboys

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Darren McFadden never lived up to expectations as the fourth overall pick in 2008. In seven seasons with the Raiders, McFadden had only one 1,000-yard season as he missed 29 games with 15 different injuries.

Yet, McFadden, who turns 30 next month, still has a job in the NFL. He has, in fact, embraced his role as Ezekiel Elliott’s backup.

“Obviously I’m going to be a backup guy,” McFadden said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do it. If it’s special teams or whatever, I’m up for it. At the end of the day, it’s a team sport. I’m a team guy. That’s what I love about the game.”

McFadden didn’t even test free agency in the offseason, instead signing a one-year, $980,000 deal that included only $80,000 to sign. The Cowboys are comfortable with him as Elliott’s primary backup considering he rushed for 1,089 yards for them in 2015.

McFadden missed most of last season with a fractured elbow, playing only three games and 48 offensive snaps while getting only 24 carries. He also played 13 snaps on special teams, something the Cowboys ask of their backup running backs.

“It’s tough [not to be the feature back],” McFadden said. “…But at the same time, it’s a team sport. I’ve been around the game long enough to know that eventually someone is going to come in who is going to try to run you out.

“I’m blessed to be 10 years in the league as a running back still playing. It’s one thing I’m very happy about.”

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Cowboys confident Jeff Heath can fill Barry Church’s shoes

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Jason Garrett refers to Jeff Heath as one of the players “who always shows up” when the Cowboys give him chances. To that end, the Cowboys plan on giving Heath more chances this season.

They have penciled in Heath as the starting strong safety, a spot left open by the free agent departure of Barry Church.

I’ve seen a lot [from Heath],” free safety Byron Jones said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “All of this stuff we saw last year, he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time earlier in the season, but he was coming in at critical situations and making good plays. That’s what Jeff Heath’s main thing is.

“Even on special teams, he’s a core guy. He’s a guy who is calling the plays. He’s a personal protector on punt [coverage]. That’s a big job. If there’s one guy we can trust with that, it’s Jeff Heath.”

The Cowboys signed Heath as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Known more as a core special teams player, Heath has made the most of his time on defense. He has five interceptions since arriving in Dallas, including the postseason, which ties him for the team lead in that span. Heath has intercepted Jameis Winston three times and Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers once each.

Heath received his most snaps his rookie season when he was on the field 594 defensive plays, starting nine games because of injuries in the secondary. He got only 125 snaps in 2014, 205 in 2015 and 243 in 2016.

On the first minicamp practice last week, Heath had two interceptions of Dak Prescott. Heath’s performance in the offseason program has given the Cowboys confidence he can handle the job.

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Former Colts coach Frank Kush dies at 88

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Former Colts and longtime Arizona State head coach Frank Kush has died at the age of 88.

Kush coached the Colts from 1982-84, which made him a first-hand witness to both the team’s move from Baltimore to Indianapolis before the 1984 season and then-owner Robert Irsay’s decision to draft John Elway in 1983 despite Elway’s desire to avoid the Colts. Elway was ultimately traded to the Broncos.

“That was old man Irsay’s decision,” Kush said in 2008, via the Arizona Republic. “I’m sure he [Elway] didn’t want to play for the Colts. If that included Frank Kush, that’s his opinion.”

Kush went 11-28-1 before resigning with a game left in the 1984 season. He coached one season in the USFL before that league folded and spent a year in the CFL between his Colts and Arizona State gigs. Kush spent 21 seasons at ASU and went 176-54-1, but his tenure came to a bad end after a player accused Kush of punching him during a 1978 game.

Kush returned to the school in 2000 as a special assistant to the athletic director. The field at Sun Devil Stadium is named after him and a statue of Kush sits outside a stadium entrance.

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