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PFT’s Week 12 picks

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

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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Sam Bradford “not really” thinking about long-term status with Eagles

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 20:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles replaces quarterback Sam Bradford #7 for one play in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson reiterated Monday that, barring injury or other unforseen development, the team will start Sam Bradford at quarterback in Week One.

Pederson also said that he can’t say at this point whether rookie Carson Wentz will remain on the inactive list as the No. 3 quarterback for the entire season. Wentz’s arrival caused some issues between Bradford and the team in the spring that have since been worked out and drafting a quarterback second overall means he’ll be the starter at some point.

Bradford said Monday that he’s not spending much time thinking about what that will mean for him.

“Not really,” Bradford said, via Philly.com. “I think at this point, I’m just trying to come out here, get better each day, try to make this team better, try to help this team win games, do my job the best I can, and then whatever happens, happens.”

It’s hard to block out thoughts about what might be coming later this year or in 2017, but Bradford’s future — in Philadelphia or elsewhere — will be in pretty good shape if he can turn in a healthy and productive season because healthy and productive quarterbacks are always in demand around the NFL.

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Corey Wootton announces his retirement after six seasons

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 20: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins is sacked by Corey Wootton #99 of the Detroit Lions during a preseason game at FedExField on August 20, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

With teams reporting to training camp, the veterans who didn’t get one of the 32 times 90 invitations (that’s 2,880, #math) often start realizing things about their future.

And the latest to retire instead of continuing to pursue football employment is journeyman defensive end Corey Wootton, per his own social media.

Wootton signed with the Lions last year, but didn’t play a down in the regular season after tearing a pectoral muscle in the preseason finale, putting him on IR.

He was originally drafted by Chicago and also spent time with the Vikings, amassing 12.0 sacks in his five years on the field, with 7.0 of them coming in 2012 with the Bears.

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Arthur Jones says he did bad job of checking supplements

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 11:  Arthur Jones #97 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on from the bench against the Denver Broncos during a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL’s PED policy is sufficiently effective to ensnare players who use supplements that contain banned substances. However, the PED policy has yet to catch many (if any) actual cheaters.

Those observations hinge on the honesty of the stream of PED offenders who claim they used a supplement that, unbeknownst to them, included one of the many chemicals and compounds on the long list of forbidden fruits.

Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones, suspended four games for a PED violation, is the latest cheater-who-isn’t-a-cheater. Via Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com, Jones said, “I did a piss poor job of double checking my supplements to make sure nothing was banned.”

The pun probably wasn’t intended; the “I am not a crook” message surely was. Either no one is deliberately using PEDs or they aren’t getting caught or, when they get caught, they’re claiming that they merely took a substance that they didn’t know included a banned substance.

Maybe Jones is telling the truth. The fact that his truth matches the terms of what so many times is used as an excuse makes it harder for folks to accept that his violation occurred inadvertently.

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Browns will give RGIII four out of five first-team reps

robert-griffin-042116-usnews-getty-ftr_1e6vnixax1djm16lk3vspil4lr Getty Images

Robert Griffin III hasn’t been promised the starting quarterback job in Cleveland, but heading into training camp, it’s his job to lose.

Longtime Browns reporter Tony Grossi said this morning on PFT Live that Griffin will get four out of every five reps with the first-string offense at Browns camp. That strongly suggests that coach Hue Jackson is heading into camp with the idea that Griffin is his starter, and will only change his mind if something surprising happens.

“It’s not an open competition with Josh McCown,” Grossi said.

At the moment, the Browns’ depth chart appears to have Griffin on top, McCown second, rookie third-round draft pick Cody Kessler third and Austin Davis fourth. That can change, but it will probably only change if Griffin either gets hurt or plays so poorly that the Browns’ coaches feel like they have no choice but to demote him. The other quarterbacks simply won’t get many opportunities to win the job.

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Tom Telesco: “I guess we’ll see” if Joey Bosa reports to camp

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 07:  Third overall 2016 NFL draft pick Joey Bosa of the San Diego Chargers throws out the ceremonial first picth prior to the start of the San Diego Padres game against the Atlanta Braves at PETCO Park on June 7, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Chargers picked defensive end Joey Bosa with the third overall pick of this year’s draft, they said they had their eye on him throughout the entire pre-draft process and knew that he was they guy they would take once it was known quarterbacks would be the first two picks.

That was easy, but getting Bosa under contract hasn’t been quite so smooth a process. Bosa is one of three players from the draft without a deal as his agents and the Chargers squabble over offset language and the timing of when bonus money will be paid to Bosa. Those issues have been obstacles for some time without an agreement, which may explain why General Manager Tom Telesco basically shrugged his shoulders when asked if Bosa would report to camp.

“I don’t know,” Telesco said on The Mighty 1090 in San Diego, via ESPN.com. “I guess we’ll see. I really don’t know if he’ll [show up]. We’re still working on it. Hopefully we’ll get something done, but I don’t know.”

Telesco said that he understood some people were puzzled about the standoff since it is “not really over money,” but said that the Chargers believe in “certain things of consistency and doing things the same way for everyone on the team” when it comes to contracts. In this case, that consistency could keep the third overall pick they were so sure they wanted from practicing when training camp opens in part because the the team’s worried about how much he’ll get paid if he’s a total flop.

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Danny Woodhead feels “great” after offseason injury scare

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 3: Running back Danny Woodhead #39 of the San Diego Chargers is dragged down by free safety Bradley Roby #29 of the Denver Broncos during a game  at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers running back Danny Woodhead doesn’t go down easily, and doesn’t usually stay down long.

But when a teammate rolled into his ankle in June, the 31-year-old  was worried it was similar to the season-ending injury he suffered in Buffalo in 2014, so he might have been entitled to milk it for a little extra attention.

“Not everyone knows this, but when I was in Buffalo, it hurt and I couldn’t get up on it, but it wasn’t until 30 seconds to a minute after when I was like, ‘Oh. This is bad,’” Woodhead said, via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “So [this time] I kind of gave it the 30 seconds to a minute. It wasn’t out of trying to be a jerk or anything, but I was just like, ‘I don’t know if I’m good yet. Let’s see. Let’s wait this out.’ . . .

“It took a couple weeks, but now I’m as healthy as I’ve been in a long time. I feel great going into the season.”

Having Woodhead ready to contribute will be a good sign for the Chargers, after a productive 2015 season. He led the team in catches (81), receiving yards (755) and receiving touchdowns (six), remarkable numbers for a back on the wrong side of 30.

“In my rookie year and second year, I really didn’t play that much,” Woodhead said. “And then with the year I took off because of the ankle, that’s really three years that didn’t give me wear and tear. I really feel like I’m young. I feel like my body is young. . . . I feel like I’m 26. This might have been the best offseason I’ve had.

“If you were to ask me that five years ago, I would’ve said, ‘Yeah, right.’ But I still feel like I can do the same things as I did or better. As long as I can do the same things I was doing in year four, if I’m doing that or better, I don’t think it’s time for me to go for a while.”

At least he’s ready to go from the start of the season, which is a huge relief after his June scare.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Will the Bills defense be better this season?

Assessing potential improvements in the Dolphins secondary.

Where will Shea McClellin fit into the Patriots defense?

The Jets will have a players leadership council this season.

CB Jimmy Smith playing well is important to the Ravens defense.

Previewing the players heading into their second years with the Bengals.

Rookie WR Corey Coleman was motivated by criticism from Browns coach Hue Jackson.

An optimistic prediction for the Steelers offense despite players missing with suspensions.

Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson avoided the Texans PUP list.

A few under-the-radar Colts training camp storylines.

The Jaguars added K Sam Ficken to the roster.

Titans fans will be able to get QB Marcus Mariota’s autograph at training camp.

Rookie defensive backs will have to catch on quickly to get playing time with the Broncos.

Which Chiefs can boost their offensive production?

The Raiders are set with outside cornerbacks and holding a competition for slot duties.

The Chargers are looking for a big step forward from RB Melvin Gordon.

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley learned from Randy Moss in joint workouts.

Ben McAdoo’s style is geared toward younger members of the Giants roster.

CB Nolan Carroll was among the rehabbing veterans on the field for the Eagles Monday.

Will the Redskins look outside the organization for pass rush help?

The development of recent first-round picks will be important for the Bears this season.

Previewing the biggest position battles for the Lions.

The Packers need some inside linebackers to step up this year.

The Vikings offensive line changed again on Monday with tackle Phil Loadholt’s retirement.

Have the Falcons improved their pass rush?

Tracing Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin’s path back from a torn ACL.

The Saints don’t expect T Terron Armstead to have an extended stay on the PUP list.

In search of buzz about the Buccaneers.

DT Darnell Dockett returned to the Cardinals to say goodbye to the NFL.

QB Jared Goff isn’t the only Rams rookie trying to get noticed at training camp.

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner are excited to renew their college partnership with the 49ers.

Will coach Pete Carroll get an extension from the Seahawks soon?

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Police visit Tre Mason’s home five times in four months

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 03:  Tre Mason #27 of the St. Louis Rams rushes with the ball against Jimmie Ward #25 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

In early March, Rams running back Tre Mason had a bizarre incident with police, resulting in his arrest on various charges. He then failed to appear in court, before eventually doing so.

Since then, police reportedly have been called to his house on five different occasions. According to TMZ, the most recent incident happened on Saturday.

Per the report, Mason’s family is concerned about his mental health. During one of the police visits, he agreed to check into a facility. He apparently didn’t.

Mason has not yet been accused of assaulting family members. On one occasion, a family member told police that Mason hadn’t slept in days, and that the family member was concerned if Mason left the house “he will get hurt.”

Mason didn’t participate in OTAs this year, excused from the voluntary sessions for “personal reasons.” The next question for the Rams is whether Mason, a third-round pick in 2014, will be welcomed to training camp — and whether he’ll even show up for it.

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Pederson continues to commit to Bradford as Week 1 starter

bradford-sam082315-getty-ftrjpg_6qwfldz8wmio1w7qdzj8hpebh Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson remains committed to Sam Bradford as his starting quarterback.

“I’ve said all along that Sam’s the guy,’’ Pederson said after Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz completed their first training camp practice on Monday.

Pederson said he doesn’t see anything happening in the preseason that would change his quarterback depth chart.

“You’ve got to get through four games and a lot of preseason. But going into September 11, Sam’s the guy. I’ll stick with that. Chase is our No. 2, and Carson is our No. 3,” Pederson said.

The Eagles, more than any other team, poured resources into the quarterback position this offseason: They signed Bradford to a two-year, $35 million contract, signed Daniel to a three-year, $21 million contract and traded up to the second overall pick to draft Wentz. With all those resources going into the position, they’d better have a good starting quarterback. Pederson thinks they have one in Bradford.

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Derrick Morgan says NFL isn’t doing enough research on cannabis

Derrick Morgan AP

Now that Eugene Monroe has retired, Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan is the last active player who is willing to be an advocate for medicinal marijuana.

He hopes he’s not the only one for long, and has shared the research he’s done on the topic. But he hopes time will see the plant’s stigma subside, and that the league will spend as much time researching as he has.

“I just take the NFL for their word: If they say that long-term health and player safety are top priorities of the league, then why aren’t you looking into all the options for health care that are out there?” Morgan told Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. “It’s definitely incumbent upon them to really delegate some time and some resources to look into it.”

Morgan is pushing the medical benefits of cannabis, and wants to draw the line between the possible pain-relief potential the plant holds and the recreational smoking many have made synonymous.

Morgan said he’s never failed a drug test for marijuana, and hasn’t used it because of the league’s rules against it. But he also thinks demonizing the drug by grouping it alongside things such as LSD and heroin keeps people from seeing the protection it could offer players.

“CTE, all this stuff is real … that’s unsettling as a player,” he said. “You want to be able to think that you are going to be there for your family in full capacity, that you’re going to be able to be an active member, contributing member of society. With something like that, I’ve got to look at what my options are. If this happens to be an option, which I think it will be, then I’m going to look into it, . . .

“Every player is in a different position. But at the root of it, if your motivation is being proactive about preserving your health, then I don’t think you should have to tippy-toe around anything.”

At the moment, he’s the only current player even tippy-toeing, but hopes more will join him.

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Former Patriots defensive tackle busted on drug charges on campus

8 Sep 1996:  Defensive lineman Mark Wheeler of the New England Patriots looks on during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.  The Bills won the game, 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport Getty Images

Longtime NFL defensive tackle Mark Wheeler, who once started a Super Bowl for the Patriots, has been arrested on drug charges in Texas.

According to KBTX, 46-year-old Mark Wheeler was taken into custody after Texas A&M police said they found him sitting in a truck on campus with marijuana and cocaine.

According to the report, the officer noticed a marijuana cigarette on the console of his truck, but he told them it was medical marijuana.

Upon searching, two bags of marijuana were found hidden in water bottles (less than 15 grams) and a small bag of cocaine inside a Tylenol bottle (setting up another medicinal defense).

A former third-round pick by the Buccaneers in 1992, Wheeler played eight seasons in the NFL. He started for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, and also played for the Eagles.

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Brandon Marshall has finally heard from Ryan Fitzpatrick, duo spending time together in Chicago

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:   Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets and Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets watch the game against the Buffalo Bills from the sidelines during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall expressed concern recently when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick stopped returning messages in the lull before the start of training camp.

Marshall can now call off the search.

Fresh off playing in the American Century Championship golf tournament in South Lake Tahoe, Nev. this past weekend, Fitzpatrick has made a stop in Chicago to see his (former?) teammate. Marshall posted a photo to his instagram page on Monday night of Fitzpatrick and his two sons hanging out on a rooftop in the Windy City.

Fitzpatrick remains at an impasse in reaching a contract agreement with the Jets, despite multiple offers being floated by the team in hopes of finding a resolution. He didn’t renew the lease on his New York apartment and an end to the saga appears far from imminent.

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Kenny Anunike placed on PUP list by Broncos

Kenny Anunike AP

Promising pass rusher Kenny Anunike will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list for the Denver Broncos.

The third-year defensive end has been hampered by injuries early in his career. He missed all but three games last season due to a knee injury that required surgery in August and eventually landed him on injured reserve.

He flashed his raw ability in last year’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Anunike had eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

He has just one tackle in his regular season career.

A player can be activated from the PUP list any time during the preseason. However, a player must be placed on PUP prior to the start of training camp in order to be eligible for the reserve/PUP list for the regular season.

It’s uncertain whether Anunike has suffered some kind of a setback from the issues that plagued him last season or if the move is just to provide the Broncos with roster flexibility and the time needed for Anunike to get back to full speed.

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Tom Jackson won’t be back at ESPN

ESPN commentators Tom Jackson and  Chris Berman during the ESPN Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams in St. Louis, Missouri on December 11, 2006.  The Bears won 42 - 27.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The report from Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News that Tom Jackson will leave ESPN provided some wiggle room for the veteran analyst to return to Sunday NFL Countdown for what would be his 30th season. Multiple industry sources tell PFT that the decision has been made: Jackson won’t be coming back.

As one source explained it, ESPN’s decision to bring back Trent Dilfer after his contract had expired and it appeared he would leaving arose in part from Jackson’s decision to leave.

Jackson had long been regarded as being tied at the hip with on-air partner Chris Berman. With Berman reportedly entering his last year at ESPN, it’s somewhat odd that Jackson wouldn’t want to do a victory lap with Berman.

Unless, of course, that victory lap will be all about Berman and/or consist of Berman complaining about the fact that ESPN management has apparently nudged him out.

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CFL expands use of coach-to-quarterback communication system

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 30:  Bo Levi Mitchell #19 of the Calgary Stampeders passes upfield during the 102nd Grey Cup Championship Game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at BC Place November 30, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Calgary won 20-16. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) Getty Images

The CFL often does thing differently than the NFL. In some cases, the CFL’s differences make the Canadian version of pro football better.

A little-known change for 2016 has invites speculation regarding whether a similar change in the NFL would be good for business.

As explained by Scott Mitchell of the Calgary Herald, the CFL for the first time in 2016 allows the coach-to-quarterback communication system to operate to the snap, and beyond.

Calgary Stampeders coach Dave Dickenson called the change an “executive decision” of which he wasn’t aware until the season began. Dickenson also said that his team has not yet used the system during a play to tell the quarterback what to do with the ball in real time.

“In theory, they can,” Dickenson said. “We don’t feel like it’s the best thing to say, ‘Go deep,’ or ‘Take the flat.’ The game’s going so fast and, I think, it might be easier from the booth to see stuff, what pops and what doesn’t pop, but I don’t yell into his ear. I think coaches, in that case, would be trying to be more important than they are. Just stay out of the way. You need to coach your quarterback well enough that he sees what he sees and he trusts his eyes and he throws it.”

“We kind of found out, I think, in Week One,” Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said. “I remember Dave coming and telling me about it and I was kind of skeptical about it at first because we didn’t do it in training camp.”

Bo Levi Mitchell has only one specific request when it comes to the use of the technology.

“I told him it was something that, ‘Hey, if you’re comfortable saying it then I trust you when you say things,'” Bo Levi Mitchell said. “Obviously, the only time I don’t want it is when I’m in the huddle trying to talk to guys. You can’t have somebody yelling in your ear and you can’t hear anything.”

For the NFL, where the system cuts off 15 seconds before the snap, the question becomes whether it makes sense to allow a coach to continue speaking to the quarterback beyond that point, including during the live play. Given that the CFL teams apparently didn’t know the change was coming until the season began, it’s still too early to know whether it will be an improvement, given that teams really didn’t get a chance to experiment with it or to plan for using it.

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