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Julio Jones active for Falcons today, Weatherspoon down

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

How effective he’s going to be remains to be seen, but Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones will try to play.

Per multiple reports, Jones will be active. He injured his ankle in last weekend’s loss to the Saints, but returned to the game.

He didn’t practice this week, and may not be near full speed, but the Falcons are going to see what he has.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, however, isn’t as close, and will be inactive.

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Oakland A’s: “Unfortunate” Mark Davis brought us into discussion of Raiders lease

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 09: A general view of the exterior of the O.co Coliseum prior to the start of an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders on November 9, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders have extended their lease at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland for another year, giving time for the city and team to work on an agreement that would keep the Raiders in town for a much longer period of time.

Raiders owner Mark Davis said that the Oakland A’s are a major impediment to that effort because they signed a 10-year lease at the Coliseum in 2014. Davis said the A’s have “tied our hands behind our back” because they haven’t declared their intentions beyond that point and that the Raiders don’t want to build a stadium in another part of the site only to have “the ingress, egress, parking and tailgating experience” disrupted should the Coliseum subsequently be torn down to build a baseball stadium.

The baseball team responded to Davis’ comments on Friday.

“It is unfortunate Mr. Davis decided to bring the A’s into his discussion about the Raiders’ stadium lease,” A’s owner Lew Wolff said in a statement. “We respect his right to explore his options in and out of Oakland, including his widely reported consideration of Los Angeles and other markets. The A’s signed a 10-year lease at the Coliseum because we are committed to Oakland. Mr. Davis has said he is fully committed to do a new football stadium in Oakland and there is nothing in our lease that precludes Mr. Davis and the Raiders from building on the Coliseum site.”

There are also funding issues unrelated to the A’s that will need to get worked out before the Raiders can move forward on a new stadium in Oakland, so it’s probably a good thing for everyone involved that there’s more time to figure out solutions before any final decisions about the Raiders’ home are determined.

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Report: Bears adding Ben McDaniels to staff

ENGLEWOOD, CO - CIRCA 2010: In this photo provided by the NFL, Ben McDaniels of the Denver Broncos poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by NFL via Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears are adding former Rutgers offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels to their offensive staff, SI.com reported Friday.

McDaniels is the younger brother of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Ben McDaniels’ first NFL job was on his brother’s staff in Denver in 2009, and he was the Broncos quarterbacks coach in 2010.

He spent the last two seasons at Rutgers and was offensive coordinator last season. McDaniels, 35, also was an offensive assistant for the Buccaneers in 2012-13.

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Steelers re-sign long snapper Warren

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Steelers have signed long snapper Greg Warren to a new one-year contract.

Warren, 34, hasn’t missed a game since 2009. He’s been with the Steelers since 2005.

Warren started as an undrafted rookie and has played in 165 regular-season games and 12 playoff games. His 165 regular-season games are the fifth-most among active Steelers, and he’s one of three active Steelers who have won a Super Bowl ring with the team. He also played last season on a one-year contract.

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Giants hiring Jeff Zgonina to help coach defensive line

HOUSTON - AUGUST 9: Jeff Zgonina #93 of the Houston Texans looks on during the game against the Denver Broncos at Reliant Stadium on August 9, 2008 in Houston, Texas. ( Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants added some experience to their coaching staff, with a guy who played in the league for nearly two decades.

According to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, the Giants are hiring longtime NFL lineman Jeff Zgonina as their assistant defensive line coach.

Zgonina held that same job with the Texans in 2013.

He played in the league for 17 years, doing stints with — take a deep breath here — the Steelers, Panthers, Falcons, Rams, Colts, Dolphins and Texans. He won a Super Bowl with the Rams, and finished his career in Houston.

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Ohio State combine invites just miss ’04 mark

Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott AP

Ohio State had 14 players invited to the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, the most of any college program and the most by any program since 15 Ohio State players were invited in 2004.

Having just missed that mark, Ohio State could still make some draft-related history. Miami (Florida) had a record six players drafted in the first round in 2004, and Ohio State could have that many or more drafted in this year’s first round.

The full list of players invited to Indianapolis at the end of the month can be accessed here.

Notre Dame was behind Ohio State with 10 players invited to the combine. UCLA and Alabama each had nine players despite Alabama quarterback Jake Coker being one of the notable snubs. In what’s considered a strong draft year for defensive linemen, 59 of them received combine invites.

One of the draft’s most interesting defensive linemen, Noah Spence, started at Ohio State before being barred by the Big Ten and finishing his college career at Eastern Kentucky last fall. Two other players who received combine invitations have Ohio State ties: Duke safety Jeremy Cash transferred from Ohio State, and Bowling Green wide receiver Roger Lewis was verbally committed to Ohio State before legal trouble sent him on a different path.

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Jay Bromley won’t face charges after attempted rape accusation

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 07:  Jay Bromley #96 watches from the sideline during the second half of a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley became the subject of a police investigation late last month after he was accused of attempting to rape a woman in a New York City hotel.

The investigation began when a woman allegedly performed a sex act in the hotel room before things went south when she claimed Bromley tried to do more than he had agreed to pay for before they met. Bromley denied the charges and said that he was the subject of an attempted shakedown by the woman, who he met on social media. The incident ended with the woman reportedly jumping on the hood of Bromley’s car after being denied a ride and getting thrown off when Bromley drove away.

Bromley won’t end up facing any charges. A New York City police official told the New York Daily News there was “no criminality.”

“As we stated from the outset, the allegations against Mr. Bromley were completely false,” Bromley’s lawyer Alex Spiro said. “Today, Mr. Bromley has been officially cleared of all wrongdoing. We are thankful to law enforcement for their efforts, and are hopeful that the focus can now return to Jay Bromley’s remarkable story.”

Bromley, a 2014 third-round pick, is heading into his third season with the Giants.

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Lions sign Lamar Holmes

TAMPA, FL -  NOVEMBER 17:  Tackle Lamar Holmes #76 of the Atlanta Falcons sets to block against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 17, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Tampa won 41- 28. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions rushed for the fewest yards in the NFL last season and had issues protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford for a good part of the year, so the offensive line is expected to be an area they look to upgrade this offseason.

The bigger moves on that front will have to wait for a little bit, but the team made a move to bring another player into the mix on Friday. The Lions announced that they have signed former Falcons tackle Lamar Holmes.

Holmes was a third-round pick by Atlanta in 2012 and started 19 games during the 2013 and 2014 seasons before a broken foot sent him to injured reserve early in the latter campaign. He spent the first 12 weeks of the 2015 season on the PUP list because of further issues with the foot before being released with an injury settlement.

Holmes will likely fall into the mix at right tackle for Detroit. The Lions cycled through several of them last year with Michael Ola closing out the year. Ola is set to be a free agent and the team will likely be looking to add other options at the spot as the offseason progresses.

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Brandon Marshall wants to stay with Broncos, grow bank account

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The Broncos didn’t have long to celebrate their Super Bowl title before discussion turned to whether they’d be able to keep key members of their defense once free agency arrives.

Von Miller, Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan are all on track to become unrestricted free agents and their futures have generated the most discussion in the last few days. Brandon Marshall, Trevathan’s partner at inside linebacker, isn’t on the same track as his teammates.

Marshall is set to become a restricted free agent and said Friday that he’d like to both remain with the Broncos and see a bump in his bank account in 2016.

“I would definitely love my bank account to grow in these next few months – I would love that,” Marshall said on NFL Network. “Me and my agent have been talking, we’ll see what happens. But I would love to stay in Denver. I grew up a Broncos fan. I love the Broncos. I love the organization and community, so I’d love to stay in Denver. We’ll definitely see what happens.”

If the Broncos don’t sign Marshall to a new contract in the near future, they’ll certainly be using a restricted free agent tender to ensure that Marshall doesn’t leave without having a chance to match another offer or getting draft pick compensation if they choose not to meet the price.

Given how well Marshall, a 2012 fifth-round pick of the Jaguars, played in 2015, a first- or second-round tender seems more likely than the original round number and the way things fall with the unrestricted free agents will likely determine whether the Broncos try to do more than that with Marshall this offseason.

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Bears thank Forte for his service, professionalism

Matt Forte, Nick Roach AP

The Bears released a statement Friday officially announcing their intentions not to re-sign veteran running back Matt Forte — and thanking Forte for his service.

“These decisions are never easy, especially given what Matt has meant to our team and community,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said in the statement. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Matt is one of the all-time great Bears and did an excellent job for us on and off the field last season. He was a tremendous teammate. We thank him for his professionalism and wish him the very best as he continues his career.”

Forte ranks second in Bears history in yards from scrimmage (12,718), rushing yards (8,602), receptions (487), 100-yard rushing games (24) and games with 150 yards or more from scrimmage (25), trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton in all five categories.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Forte turned 30 in December. He’ll be a free agent when the new league year begins March 9.

Earlier Friday, Forte sent out word via social media that he wouldn’t be back with the Bears.

Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end,” he wrote on Instagram. “I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to re-sign me in free agency. I will remain forever grateful for my time spent in Chicago and being able to play for an organization with such a rich history.”

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Cleveland radio host resigns

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Last month, Cleveland radio host Kevin Kiley cooked up the hottest of takes regarding the fitness of females to serve as football coaches. Kiley’s rant migrated from illogical to cartoonish, culminating in an argument that women shouldn’t vote on the Pro Football Hall of Fame, either.

His station, 92.3 The Fan, never disciplined Kiley. He’s nevertheless out, following a resignation that he claims was tendered in November.

“My principles, their principles of doing business they don’t match,” Kiley said in an interview with WOIO-TV, via Cleveland.com. “It was tough for me to work there. . . . In 35 years I’ve never been censored and I shouldn’t have been censored for this. You shouldn’t accept censorship ever. You should make sure the people on the radio are telling you the truth as they see it.”

Via Deadspin.com, Kiley claimed that the station censored him by refusing to allow the host to respond to criticism of his comments about female coaches.

He shouldn’t have been prevented from responding to criticism of his comments; he should have been prevented from saying anything. If 92.3 The Fan was going to allow him to remain on the air (it shouldn’t have), why shouldn’t he have been given even more rope?

Absent the additional hot takes that would have come in response to people who exercised their First Amendment right to call him a moron, a misogynist, and/or a misfit, some other station will be more likely to give him a spatula-shaped microphone so that he can serve up some more.

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Report: Lions expected to hire Broncos assistant as QB coach

Matthew Stafford AP

The Lions promoted Jim Bob Cooter from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator when they fired Joe Lombardi last season and then, to the great joy of many, made Cooter the permanent choice for the job once they decided to hold onto head coach Jim Caldwell.

That left an opening at quarterbacks coach and it looks like they will be dipping into Cooter’s past for the new addition to the staff. Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that Broncos offensive assistant Brian Callahan, who worked with Cooter in Denver during the 2013 season, was in Detroit on Thursday and is expected to get the quarterbacks coach job.

Callahan, who is the son of current Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan, worked with the quarterbacks in Denver as well and Peyton Manning said Callahan will be “a top-flight quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator, maybe head coach like his dad” in the future.

“I know Jim Bob well,” Callahan said before Super Bowl 50, via the Detroit Free Press. “We worked together for a year. But as of right now, we’re just worrying about this game. If anything comes to it after that, then we’ll go from there. But really, technically, I’m just worried about playing in the Super Bowl, to be honest with you.”

The quarterbacks job is the last position coach opening on Caldwell’s staff for the 2016 season.

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Cam Newton sports “I win my way” T-shirt

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In an Instagram message thanking the fans for a memorable 2015 season, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wears a T-shirt that declares, “I win my way.”

The text accompanying the photo reiterates Cam’s “my way” mantra: “I am not perfect and I will make mistakes but I will continue to work on improving each day trying to perfect all my imperfection. Pursuing greatness is my commitment, and I will continue to be true to myself, to my family and to making all of you who follow me proud. I will win my way and hope to inspire you all to win your way.”

Perhaps an even more telling message appears over Newton’s right shoulder in the photo, in a framed crop of the iconic shot of Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston.

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even,” the quote from Ali declares.

That’s where Newton needs to focus in the next stage of his development. When things aren’t coming easily for Cam and the Panthers, he needs to fight past the feeling that it’s not his day and find a way to overcome the adversity, even if he’s tempted to think there’s no hope. As to his decision not to dive on that loose ball late in the Super Bowl, it’s possible that Newton decided, consciously or not, that there was no way the Panthers were going to score a touchdown against the Denver defense.

The next time Newton is in that situation, he needs to come up with an “extra ounce of power,” providing the throw or the run that will turn what seemed destined to be a defeat into a win.

I don’t care that he was sulking after the game; I’d rather see a player be miserable than happy following a tough loss. And I don’t blame him for walking out of the press conference after hearing Chris Harris Jr. crowing about what Denver’s defense did to Newton and the passing game. But to the extent that Newton’s emotions are distracting him during a game, Newton needs to “reach down to the bottom of his soul,” ignore the feeling that he’s destined to lose, and find a way turn it around.

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Report: Panthers interviewing special teams coaches

Bruce DeHaven, Richie Brockel AP

Panthers special teams coach Bruce DeHaven has continued to work after being diagnosed with cancer, embodying the team’s “Keep Pounding” motto which began during Sam Mills’ own fight with the disease.

But it appears they want to at least find some help for him.

According to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, the Panthers are interviewing Bucs assistant Kevin O’Dea and 49ers assistant Thomas McGaughey for a special teams coaching position with the team.

It’s unclear if that’s a reflection on DeHaven’s condition, as neither he nor the team has said much about it. Last week, he buried the hatchet with Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who fired him as Buffalo’s special teams coach following the Music City Miracle in the 1999 playoffs.

The Panthers brought 67-year-old Russ Purnell in as an assistant to DeHaven this year, so this could be for a role supplementing DeHaven.

UPDATE 12:02 p.m. ET: Marvez follows up, saying the interviews are to replace Purnell, and that assistant coach Curtis Fuller who helped with special teams last year will return to exclusively coach defensive backs next year.

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Matt Forte makes it official: He’s out in Chicago

Matt Forte AP

We can file this one as one of the early offseason #asexpected notes, but it’s now official: Matt Forte won’t be returning to the Bears.

The veteran running back just sent out word via social media that he wouldn’t be back, as the team won’t pursue extending the free agent.

Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end,” he wrote on Instagram. “I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to re-sign me in free agency. I will remain forever grateful for my time spent in Chicago and being able to play for an organization with such a rich history.

“My only regret is not being able to win a Lombardi trophy for the best fans in all of sports. I’m excited about the next chapter of my NFL career. But, Chicago will always be home. God Bless and Bear Down!”

While Forte has hit the magic number for running backs (he turned 30 in December), he’s remained productive, and his blend of running and receiving ability ought to make him an attractive target in free agency.

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Bucs wary of spending big in free agency

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht introduces Dirk Koetter as new head coach of the NFL football team in Tampa, Fla., Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. (Will Vragovic/The Tampa Bay Times via AP) TAMPA OUT; CITRUS COUNTY OUT; PORT CHARLOTTE OUT; BROOKSVILLE HERNANDO TODAY OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT AP

Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander said this week that he wants to see the team boost the number of pass rushers on the roster, something that’s hard to do with veteran players without spending a fair amount of money in free agency.

That might leave the draft as the likeliest way that the team addresses that need. General Manager Jason Licht has plenty of salary cap space to work with this offseason, but said this week that the team is wary of devoting too much of it on veterans who have played out contracts with other teams.

“We’ll be selective and strategic,” Licht said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “We don’t want to put ourselves into a position where if you take the wrong guy and give him too much money, it can disrupt your team. I’ve said since Day 1, we are going to build through the draft. And from Day 1, the most success we’ve had is with draft picks. We still believe the best way for us to go is to draft and develop players. You can’t think you’re going to put yourself over the top by signing these high-dollar guys.”

One player that the Bucs will have to spend some money to keep is running back Doug Martin as Stroud reports that the NFL’s second-leading rusher in 2015 wants to “hit the jackpot” this offseason. Licht said the team has had “great discussions” with Martin, but Stroud expects he’ll hit the open market when free agency opens on March 9. Should he leave, that could change the plan for the Bucs, although there’s a lot of time for things to work themselves out between now and then.

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