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PFT’s Week 12 picks

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The good news is that I went 10-4 last week, thanks to every overtime game falling the way I’d pick them.  The bad news is that MDS went 13-1, chopping my seven-game lead down to four.

The worst news, potentially, is that we disagree on four games this week.  Which means that MDS can catch me.

Along the way, MDS pulled off the first-ever hole-in-one in the PFT picks battle, correctly guessing the score of the Saints-Raiders game, 38-17.

So, yeah, MDS had a pretty good week, relegating me to muttering, “Son of a bitch.”

But, hey, I still have the better season record, at 103-56-1.  MDS is 99-60-1.

For now.

Texans at Lions

MDS’s take: The Texans looked very vulnerable on Sunday, needing to rally in the fourth quarter just to force overtime before beating the Jaguars. So a Lions win wouldn’t shock me here. But Detroit’s loss to Green Bay on Sunday likely ended the Lions’ playoff hopes, and I see them coming out flat on Thanksgiving.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Lions 10.

Florio’s take:  The Lions have lost 11 of 12 Thanksgiving games.  Make it 12 of 13 when the one-loss Texans come to town, four days after getting a wakeup call against the one-win Jags.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Lions 17.

Redskins at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Cowboys are surprisingly back in the NFC East hunt, less because they’re playing better than because an easy stretch in their schedule has coincided with the Giants’ annual November swoon. They should keep it going against an inconsistent Redskins team.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Redskins 20.

Florio’s take:  The Cowboys are 6-0 all time against the Redskins on Thanksgiving.  Though Washington never has rolled in to Dallas with a quarterback as good as Robert Griffin III on the roster, the Cowboys are too close to the top of the division to stumble now.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Redskins 20.

Patriots at Jets

MDS’s take: I give Rex Ryan a lot of credit for having his team playing hard in the face of adversity last week, and I think Rex will put together a good game plan to stop a Gronkowski-less Patriots offense. But the problems with the Jets’ own offense are real, and not getting any better. The Patriots will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 17, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  A possible classic is in the offing, the first-ever nationally-broadcast Thanksgiving night NFL game on a major network.  The fact that the Jets won on Sunday makes it more interesting.  The fact that the Pats have been pounding teams lately makes it potentially less interesting — except to see which players get hurt on the PAT team in the fourth quarter.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 38, Jets 24.

Vikings at Bears

MDS’s take: If Jay Cutler is back, this is a game the Bears should win handily. If Cutler is out, all bets are off. But it’s looking like Cutler will be cleared to return, and the Bears should turn things around with a convincing win.

MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Vikings 13.

Florio’s take:  The Vikings emerge from their bye week with a six-game stretch that doesn’t look quite as challenging given the Bears’ two-game losing streak.  But the Bears know they need to reverse the slide now, and the Vikings’ second-year quarterback simply isn’t as good as the second-year quarterback who picked the Bears apart on Monday night.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 30, Vikings 17.

Raiders at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Raiders look like they’re ready to give up on the season, and the Bengals look like they’re ready to go on a run. This one won’t be close.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 34, Raiders 10.

Florio’s takeCarson Palmer returns to Cincinnati, with a team far worse than the one for which he notoriously refused to keep playing.  He’ll tell himself he doesn’t feel regret.  And if he tells himself enough, maybe he’ll believe it.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 28, Raiders 13.

Steelers at Browns

MDS’s take: Given the uncertainty surrounding the Steelers’ quarterback situation, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Browns take this one. But I think Charlie Batch will surprise some people by running the offense competently and putting points on the board, and the Steelers’ defense will give Brandon Weeden trouble.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Browns 7.

Florio’s take:  Whether it’s Charlie Batch or Brian Hoyer or Ben Roethlisberger or Kordell Stewart or Terry Hanratty under center, the Steelers will find a way to get things back on track against a Browns team that isn’t nearly as bad as their record would suggest.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 17, Browns 13.

Bills at Colts

MDS’s take: After getting demolished by the Patriots, the Colts need this one. I like Andrew Luck to have a big game against a suspect Buffalo defense, and the Colts to get a win that allows them to keep pace with the Steelers and a game ahead of the Bengals in the AFC wild card race.

MDS’s pick: Colts 28, Bills 20.

Florio’s take:  A potential playoff knockout game, with the winner in pretty good shape to make it to January and the loser, well, not.  The Colts aren’t as bad as their loss to the Pats would indicate, and the Bills aren’t as good as their win over the Fins would suggest.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 24, Bills 17.

Titans at Jaguars

MDS’s take: I give the Jaguars a lot of credit for coming out and playing hard against the Texans on Sunday, but the reality is they’re just a bad football team in all phases of the game. The Titans aren’t great either, but they should beat Jacksonville comfortably.

MDS’s pick: Titans 34, Jaguars 17.

Florio’s take:  Giving the Texans their best shot and losing in heartbreaking fashion will either help a bad team find its groove or grease the skids for an epic collapse.  I’m guessing the latter, especially with the Titans still in position to bogart a wild-card berth.

Florio’s pick:  Titans 27, Jaguars 10.

Broncos at Chiefs

MDS’s take: The Broncos have all but clinched the AFC West. No way they lose to the worst team in the division, and maybe the worst team in the league.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Chiefs 10.

Florio’s take:  The Chiefs wanted Peyton Manning, but he didn’t want them.  He’ll get a chance to prove why he made the right choice on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 34, Chiefs 10.

Seahawks at Dolphins

MDS’s take: In Seattle, this game would be a blowout. In Miami, I’m tempted to pick the Dolphins, because the Seahawks have struggled so much on the road. But the Dolphins have been finding ways to lose recently, and I suspect they’ll do that again on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Dolphins 17.

Florio’s take:  The next step for the Seahawks is to find a way to consistently win away from home.  And they can’t get much farther away from home than Miami.  So why not start there?

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 24, Dolphins 9.

Falcons at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: This is a huge opportunity for Greg Schiano’s Buccaneers to show they’re legitimate NFC playoff contenders, but I don’t think they’re ready to take that step. The Falcons will stay ahead of the NFC pack with a win in Tampa.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Buccaneers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Falcons have looked shaky in the past few weeks, and the Bucs have had a solid four games.  The Bucs have the run defense and the running game to give Atlanta a glimpse of the flaws they need to fix before the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 27, Falcons 24.

Ravens at Chargers

MDS’s take: I don’t believe the Ravens are as good as their 8-2 record suggests, and they’re bound to come back to the pack in the AFC eventually. But after the Chargers’ loss to the Broncos on Sunday, San Diego isn’t going anywhere. The Chargers will come out flat and the Ravens will win.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 20, Chargers 16.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens are getting closer to a fifth straight postseason, and Norv Turner is getting closer to a third coaching postmortem.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 24, Chargers 20.

Rams at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals’ offense will be a mess until they can get their quarterback situation straightened out, but Arizona’s defense is good enough that the Rams will lose a low-scoring game in the desert.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 10, Rams 7.

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals have no one to play quarterback and, more importantly, no one to cover Danny Amendola.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 20, Cardinals 10.

49ers at Saints

MDS’s take: This is a fascinating game, with the Saints making a furious run toward the playoffs after a disastrous start to the season, and the 49ers coming off a Monday night when they looked unstoppable. If there’s any defense that can slow Drew Brees and Co. down, it’s the 49ers’ defense. I like San Francisco to get a big road win.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Saints 27.

Florio’s take:  By the end of Thanksgiving weekend, we’ll be giving thanks for one of the great games of the 2012 season.  The Saints may not be able to keep it going, but they’re not ready to stop now.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, 49ers 31.

Packers at Giants

MDS’s take: With the Cowboys closing in on them in the NFC East, the Giants can’t afford to lay an egg like they did two weeks ago against the Bengals. I believe the bye week will help Tom Coughlin’s crew right the ship, and the Packers will be handed a tough conference loss.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Packers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Giants annual theme song is Wake Me Up When November Ends.  November is ending.  The Giants are waking up.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 38, Packers 35.

Panthers at Eagles

MDS’s take: A lousy Monday night game ends the week on a down note. Neither of these teams is any good, but at least the Panthers don’t look like they’ve completely quit on the season.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 21, Eagles 20.

Florio’s take:  Yep, this one sure looked a lot more interesting when the schedule came out in April.  The only question is whether the cries of “Fire Andy” will be drowned out by the chants of “We Want Gruden.”  In the background, the Eagles will prove to be the slightly better of two bad teams.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 24, Panthers 14.

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Mark Davis: Could stay in Oakland through 2019 season

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Mark Davis was just given permission to move his team to Las Vegas, but said he could see staying in Oakland longer than his lease dictates.

The Raiders have one-year options on their lease in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and Davis said Monday they could even stay beyond then while their building in Las Vegas is under construction.

While not everyone is going to be happy about those prospects, Davis said he’d be willing to offer refunds to angry fans who had already put down deposits for season tickets.

“Not happy, but we will do that,” he said.

But mostly, Davis seemed relieved to have the process finalized and to have a home, after so many years of negotiating in vain with the city of Oakland.

He said his father Al Davis “would be proud,” that he had taken the team to “the entertainment capital of the world.”

But for at least the next two seasons, and perhaps three, he’s going to ask his old fans in Oakland to support him.

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Seahawks “disappointed” by Trevone Boykin arrest

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Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested in Dallas on Monday morning after a car he was riding in backed into a bar.

Five people were injured and the driver of the car was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. Boykin was arrested on marijuana possession and public intoxication charges, leading the team to make a statement about the incident.

“We are aware of the situation involving Trevone Boykin,” a team spokesman said on Twitter. “We are still gathering information and are disappointed.”

Boykin was also arrested in December 2015 while still at TCU after an incident at a bar before the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, which may have contributed to him going undrafted before the Seahawks signed him during the offseason. He eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of resisting arrest.

If the Seahawks’ disappointment level is high enough, the team may be in the market for a new backup to Russell Wilson in the later stages of free agency and/or the draft.

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Roger Goodell: Tough call, but no choice but to move

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell still says the league doesn’t want teams to move.

But he said Monday the league had no choice.

For the third time in a year.

“You know that our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each of those teams and the league,” he said as he began his remarks on the “overwhelming” vote. “We’re all disappointed for Oakland and their fans.”

Goodell said all the right things about the effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland, and he brought Texans owner Bob McNair and Steelers president Art Rooney II to bolster his efforts, with Rooney saying it was good to have a stable home “for the long-term.”

After moving the Rams to Los Angeles and then sending the Chargers to join them, it’s a period of upheaval for the league, which has now abandoned a pair of California cities which couldn’t find stadium deals.

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Raiders’ move to Las Vegas approved

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The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.

NFL owners today approved the move of the team from Oakland (where they’re playing in a rickety old stadium) to Las Vegas (where taxpayers will foot a large portion of the bill for a shiny new stadium). According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the vote was 31-1, with only the Dolphins objecting.

They won’t become the Las Vegas Raiders immediately, as the team plans to continue playing in Oakland at least for the 2017 season and probably for 2018 as well, while the new stadium is built. That will create an awkward situation where the home fans are cheering for a team that is about to pack up and leave.

But that has happened before in the NFL, and it will now happen again, and the reason is always the same: money. Raiders owner Mark Davis can make more green in Vegas than he could in Oakland, and so the Silver and Black is moving.

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Brandon Marshall: Vegas could overwhelm young players

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The NFL is expected to have a foothold in Las Vegas after a Monday vote on the Raiders’ bid to relocate to the city, so any concerns raised about putting a team there are likely moot at this point.

Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall still raised one after speaking to NFL owners about building relationships with players at the league meetings in Arizona. Marshall said that he thinks Las Vegas is a great city, but that the things that gave it the nickname of Sin City could prove problematic for young players.

“It can be a tough place for a player coming out of college,” Marshall said, via the Palm Beach Post. “It can be overwhelming for a young player.”

Marshall had his own difficulties in his early years in the league and there’s a no shortage of other players with similar stories, so trouble can obviously be found in every city if a player is looking for it. The potential for it in Vegas may be more front and center, however, and that’s something the Raiders may be weighing when they start acquiring players to play for them in their new home.

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$400 million swing likely cements Vegas deal

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As the league’s owners prepare to rubber stamp the eventual relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas, the deal in Nevada coincidentally became a lot sweeter only one day before the vote.

In addition to the stadium suddenly costing $200 million less (which never happens), word emerged on Sunday that another $200 million in public money will be available. That’s a $400 million swing, and it makes an already attractive package even more attractive, since it reduces dramatically the money the Raiders will need to borrow in order to get the deal done.

And so the conveniently-timed release of the information about the $400 million sweetener makes it even more likely that the Raiders will be getting the green light to go to the city where plenty of the suckers born every minute lose some of their own green every second.

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Report: Giants have some interest in former Jet Nick Mangold

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There could me a little more traffic moving from one side of MetLife Stadium to the other.

According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, the Giants have expressed interest in bringing former Jets center Nick Mangold to the blue side of the stadium.

The 33-year-old center was released last month, after spending his entire career with the Jets.

And while he’s not as young as he used to be, Mangold would be an interesting addition to a line that is in some degree of flux. How they’d use him and incumbent center Weston Richburg would be interesting, but Mangold’s toughness and leadership might be what the Giants line needs most.

They’ve also brought in former first-rounder D.J. Fluker this offseason, which probably prevents them from moving Erick Flowers to right tackle as some have suspected might be the best plan.

The Giants have also dragged former Jets quarterback Geno Smith in as a backup, and spent heavily last offseason on heavy defensive tackle Damon Harrison.

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Jack Del Rio’s solution to speeding up games: Don’t throw so many flags

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The Raiders were flagged for an NFL-high 147 penalties last season, so Raiders coach Jack Del Rio may be slightly biased when he offers his solution to the league’s problem with slower-paced games.

Del Rio told Steve Wyche of NFL Network that he supports the NFL’s efforts to speed up games, and he thinks the best way to do it would be for the officials to let the players play.

“For them to try to move along the game, I’m all for it,” Del Rio said. “I have one suggestion:
Just don’t throw so many flags. We saw so many flags last year in Oakland, I’d like to see a lot less flags thrown. So hopefully we get that flow of the game issue.”

Del Rio believes penalty delays are a real issue for the NFL’s fans, especially younger fans.

“With the millennials and people nowadays, you’re not going to keep their attention if you have too many pauses and delays,” Del Rio said. “They want things right now. So for us to speed up the game, I think that’s smart.”

Throwing fewer flags might be smart. And it might benefit Del Rio’s team.

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Should Seahawks sign Kaepernick?

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The Seahawks have a backup to Russell Wilson in Trevone Boykin. Now that Boykin has been arrested, could the Seahawks be looking for another quarterback to serve as Wilson’s understudy?

If they are, there’s one available quarterback who would make a lot of sense — if he’s willing to suspend for a year his desire to be a starter.

Colin Kaepernick, as one source explained it to PFT, has very high regard for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. And we know that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has high regard for Kaepernick; Sherman recently opined that Kaepernick is better than 20 of the current starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

While that may be an exaggeration, the Seahawks have seen first-hand what Kaepernick can do with the right coaching and game planning. If/when Wilson gets injured, Kaepernick would definitely be a better option than Boykin, especially if Boykin’s arrest results in the team moving on from him the same way it moved on from Tarvaris Jackson following an arrest a year ago.

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Chargers announce 2017 season tickets are sold out

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The Chargers were on their way to a sellout of their season tickets for the 2017 season last week and they finished the job in the last few days.

The team announced on Monday that “all season tickets currently available” for their first season in Los Angeles have been sold. The Chargers began offering seats to existing season ticket holders in late February and opened sales to the general public on March 9.

The team will be playing at the StubHub Center, which will have the NFL’s smallest capacity at 30,000 seats.

In their announcement, the Chargers said that some tickets are being held back for players’ families, visiting teams and “promotional purposes.” They added that they could put more seats up for sale in the future if some of those seats are freed up as well as “from additional improvements at StubHub Center.”

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Oakland mayor asks for last-minute delay on vote

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NFL owners just walked into another round of meetings, and their decision on the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas seems imminent.

But Oakland mayor Libby Schaff is asking for a last-minute reprieve.

According to the Associated Press, Schaaf is asking the league for more time to negotiate for a stadium deal which would keep the Raiders in Oakland.

“Never that we know of has the NFL voted to displace a team from its established market when there is a fully financed option before them with all the issues addressed,” Schaaf said in a statement. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t do everything in my power to make the case for Oakland up until the very end.”

Unless she can make her way to the Arizona Biltmore Resort in the next few minutes, she might be too late. The league is expected to vote on the measure this morning, and everyone anticipates having well more than the 24 votes needed to approve the move.

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Browns to have Mitchell Trubisky in for workout on Friday

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The Browns didn’t send coach Hue Jackson or executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown to North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s pro day workout earlier this month because they planned to hold a private workout with him at another time.

They won’t be traveling to North Carolina for that workout either. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that Trubisky will work out for the Browns at their facility on Friday.

Players typically aren’t allowed to work out during their visits to teams leading up to the draft, but there’s an exception for prospects who went to college or grew up nearby. Teams have a day set aside for those players to visit each year and Trubisky, who grew up in Ohio, will be part of the contingent in Berea on Friday.

The exception for local prospects also means that Trubisky’s visit doesn’t count against the limit of 30 that the team is allowed before the draft.

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Panthers say Jerry Richardson isn’t selling team

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Panthers owner Jerry Richardson isn’t attending the league meetings in Arizona this week and a six-person group will be representing the team in his place.

Per the team, they won’t be there to discuss the possible sale of the team. A report from Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports suggested that the future of the franchise “could become more of a front-burner issue” this year with “many other owners” anticipating that the team will be sold before Richardson dies.

Richardson is 80 and has dealt with health issues in the past, but the plan has been that the team won’t be sold until after he passes away.

“Mr. Richardson is healthy, vigorous, happy and fully engaged in the business of the Carolina Panthers. The team is absolutely not for sale,” team spokesman Steven Drummond said, via the Charlotte Observer. “These reports are based on the misinterpretation of an agenda item. No owner is more committed to his team than Mr. Richardson.”

The agenda item Drummond refers to is the team’s move to buy back a four percent interest in the team that was held by the late Donald Keough. That move requires the approval of other owners.

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Raiders vote coming soon

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With plenty of momentum building toward a vote that would allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, the league apparently plans to cram the proposal through quickly. Before anyone realizes that dropping a franchise into a city synonymous with gambling: (1) could create real temptations, problems, and consequences for players who find themselves living in and around casinos; (2) is inconsitent with the league’s opposition to sports betting; and (3) could — will — invite speculation about corruption when officiating and/or player and/or coaching errors occur.

Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Daily, the ballots are expected to be cast by 3:00 p.m. ET on Monday. The approval would be conditioned upon the Raiders getting a lease and finding a developer for the new stadium in Nevada.

Following the vote, Commissioner Roger Goodell, Raiders owner Mark Davis, Texans owner Bob McNair, the chairman of the league’s finance commitee, and Steelers President Art Rooney II, the chairman of the league’s stadium committee, will speak to the media. Which underscores the widespread expectation that there won’t be nine “no” votes in the room.

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Carson Palmer: “I’m pretty good” at mentoring a young QB

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If the Cardinals weren’t already thinking about life after Carson Palmer, the brief uncertainty about whether he’d return for the 2017 season likely forced the issue squarely onto their radar heading into the offseason.

They’re looking at the top prospects in this year’s draft and General Manager Steve Keim told us on PFT Live recently that Palmer is down with serving as a mentor to a rookie that they bring into the fold. Over the weekend, Palmer said that Jon Kitna played that role for him when he arrived in the NFL with the Bengals and that he feels he’ll be able to play it as well as Kitna did.

“Not to float my own boat, but I think I’m pretty good at it,” Palmer said, via ArizonaSports.com. “I know I’ve had many great mentors and role models and guys to look up to; guys I’ve learned a lot from so I know how to approach being that guy and I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

It’s easier to be a mentor when you’re not wondering if the younger player will be supplanting you in the lineup. Kitna didn’t have to worry about that with Palmer because he knew the first overall pick in the draft would be starting when ready and Palmer knows that whoever he mentors will be succeeding him rather than forcing him out of the lineup in Arizona.

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