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Officials hand Texans a touchdown, with an assist from Schwartz

Jim Schwartz AP

In the most embarrassing display of pathetic NFL officiating since the replacement refs’ Fail Mary ended the lockout, the Texans were handed an 81-yard touchdown on what should have been an eight-yard run by Justin Forsett.

But Lions coach Jim Schwartz deserves part of the blame as well.

Forsett took a handoff and ran up the middle and was clearly tackled after eight yards. Anyone with two good eyes (or even one good eye) could see that both Forsett’s knee and his elbow were on the ground, and players on both teams started walking back to get into the huddle for the next play.

But apparently none of the seven officials the NFL sent to Ford Field today has even one good eye, because none of them saw that Forsett was down. And when Forsett realized that none of the officials saw him go down, he got back up and sprinted to the end zone. The ruling on the field was a touchdown.

OK, no problem: Touchdowns are automatically reviewed, and this one will be overturned on replay, right? Wrong.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw his challenge flag, which is against the rules on scoring plays, which are automatically reviewed. And the NFL’s rules say that when you throw a challenge flag on a play that is automatically reviewed, not only are you penalized 15 yards, but the play is no longer reviewed. So Schwartz’s bonehead decision sealed the Texans’ touchdown.

But while Schwartz could be seen pointing to himself and saying, “That’s on me,” it’s really on the officials. This was an unconscionable mistake.

The NFL recently fined referee Tony Corrente his game check for swearing into an open microphone. The officials working today’s game in Detroit deserve a much harsher punishment than that, for a much worse mistake.

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Sidney Rice thanks the Seahawks on the way out the door

Sidney Rice AP

Sidney Rice stepped away from the NFL at age 27 today, but he said he wants to make sure Seattle knows he’s not going anywhere.

“After careful consideration and seven wonderful years playing in the National Football League, including the last three for the Seattle Seahawks, I have decided to retire from playing in the National Football League,” Rice said in a statement released by the team. “I have enjoyed my experiences with all of my coaches, teammates and passionate Seahawks fans. I take great pride in knowing I was one of the players signed to help build the foundation of the team that ultimately won the Super Bowl. I’ll be joining the 12s in support of the Seattle Seahawks as they take on the challenge to repeat. I appreciate all of the wonderful opportunities and look forward to establishing myself as a businessman. I will always be a Seahawk!”

Rice has invested his money back into his market, as he opened the first of five chicken-wing restaurants in June.

That kind of responsibility is part of the reason the Seahawks had such a response to Rice, who missed the second half of last season with a torn ACL.

“The entire organization would like to thank Sidney for his leadership over the past three seasons,” said General Manager John Schneider said. “His time as a Seahawks player displayed the core values that Pete and I aimed to bring to the program and Sidney is a true champion. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

Rice wasn’t a certainty to make the Seahawks roster this season, but he has clearly taken the steps to establish himself for the much longer career of being a retired football player, and done it the right way.

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Von Miller cleared to practice

Von Miller AP

The Broncos are doing the same roster housekeeping to start training camp as the other 31 teams in the league, but their roster shuffling won’t involve linebacker Von Miller.

Coach John Fox said Wednesday that Miller will avoid the Physically Unable to Perform list after tearing his ACL in Week 16 of last season. Fox said that Miller may be limited in practice in the early stages, something that seems like a good bet since passing on the PUP list now means it won’t be an option if Miller should need extra time to round into shape when the preseason comes to an end.

Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, defensive end Derek Wolfe and safety Rahim Moore, who all joined Miller on season-ending injured reserve last year, also avoided the PUP list. Cornerback Chris Harris, who tore his ACL in the postseason, was not so lucky. Harris was placed on the PUP list and Fox said his rehab is progressing as expected.

“He’s on schedule,” Fox said, via USA Today. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a guy work that hard to rehab. … It’s grueling.”

The Broncos have their first practice of training camp on Thursday morning.

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Trestman: Jordan Palmer will get first run at top backup QB job

Jordan Palmer AP

The eldest of the Bears’ backup quarterback options will get the initial shot at being the top reserve behind Jay Cutler.

Coach Mark Trestman indicated Wednesday that Jordan Palmer will have the first opportunity at the club’s second-team reps, the Bears’ official Twitter feed reported.

The 30-year-old Palmer has not played in an NFL regular season game since 2010. However, he has the most experience in the Bears’ scheme after re-signing with the club last October.

Sixth-round pick David Fales and ex-Panther Jimmy Clausen are the other competitors to replace Josh McCown as Cutler’s top backup. McCown starred in extended relief work a season ago, earning a starting job with Tampa Bay.

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Cardinals place Tyrann Mathieu on PUP list

Tyrann Mathieu AP

The Cardinals aren’t sure whether or not safety Tyrann Mathieu will be healed from torn ligaments in his knee in time to play in the team’s first regular season game, so it comes as little surprise to learn that he won’t be practicing with the team early in training camp.

Mathieu was one of two Cardinals placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list on Thursday, which means he’ll be held out of the team’s practices until the medical team feels he’s ready to take on a bigger workload. The procedural move can be undone at any point during camp, but Mathieu’s questionable status for Week One could lead the team to leave him on the list for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

Mathieu will be joined on the PUP list by defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu. Ta’amu is also recovering from a torn ACL that was suffered in Week 17 last season and said in the spring that he hopes to return to action before the end of camp.

The Cardinals also waived wide receiver Kelsey Pope as they set their roster for the start of camp.

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Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice is retiring

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks will enter the 2014 season with one less player than they expected to have.

Per a league source, receiver Sidney Rice has decided to retire from football.  The source says that the 27-year-old Rice’s decision arises from his history of concussions.

More recently, Rice has been unable to play due to a knee injury suffered during the 2013 season.  A torn ACL caused him to miss eight games in the regular season and the playoffs.

Signed in 2011 after four seasons in Minnesota, Rice never came close to matching a breakout season third season in the league.  With Brett Favre arriving in Minnesota, Rice generated 1,312 receiving yards in 2009.  Since then, he has appeared in 16 regular-season games only once.

Cut after the 2013 season by the Seahawks, Rice rejoined Seattle in April after getting clearance from Dr. James Andrews.  Rice was due to earn a base salary of $1 million this year.

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NaVorro Bowman opens 49ers camp on the PUP list

NaVorro Bowman AP

Some of the roster moves teams are making come as a surprise, but the 49ers knew this one was coming.

The team announced linebacker NaVorro Bowman was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list.

Bowman suffered a torn ACL and MCL in last year’s NFC Championship Game, so he wasn’t expected to be back on the field for the start of camp.

But getting him back on the field early in the season will be crucial for the 49ers if they want to get back to that level, as Bowman was playing as well as any defensive player in the league last season.

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Kluwe suit on hold as settlement talks continue

Kluwe AP

Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe will absolutely, positively sue the Vikings this week.

Unless he doesn’t.

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, lawyer Clayton Halunen says that the lawsuit he previously promised to file on Wednesday has been placed on hold.  Instead, Halunen will take the next couple of weeks” to see whether the case can be resolved via negotiations with the team.

“We have spoken with the Vikings lawyer Joe Anthony and we have agreed to recommend to our clients that they continue with their conversations,” Halunen said Wednesday, via Tomassaon.  “We will not be taking any action pending the completion of those discussions.”

It’s a smart move, by both sides.  The early 1980s Wapnerization of America flooded courts with civil complaints, forcing judges to come up with mandatory mediation programs, which compel litigants to try to work out their differences under the auspices of a neutral third party.  Eventually, the Vikings and Kluwe will have to do just that.  With the facts of Kluwe’s case not very complicated, why not just do it now?

“We have not set a deadline so I can’t say there’s a deadline but I think both sides are interested in trying to determine whether or not our conversations are going to be a productive in a very short period,” Halunen said.

The real deadline comes on the two-year anniversary of May 2013 Kluwe’s release by the Vikings.  He’ll either sue or settle long before it’s four minutes to Wapner.

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Kyle Long out a few days with viral infection, Chris Conte to PUP list

Michael Ford, Kyle Long AP

The Bears got a standout rookie season from guard Kyle Long and expectations are high for the 2013 first-rounder in his second season, but it will be a few days before he hits the practice field.

The team announced Wednesday that Long is suffering from a viral infection and will not practice through the weekend as a result. Assuming that all goes well with his recovery, there shouldn’t be any impact on Long’s readiness for the season or his ability to handle the duties on the right side of the line.

The same appears to be true of right tackle Jordan Mills. Mills sat out minicamp because of a foot injury, but both he and left guard Matt Slauson (shoulder surgery) have been cleared by doctors to begin practicing with their teammates.

Safety Chris Conte isn’t quite that far along, however. Conte will start camp on the PUP list after having shoulder surgery in April. He’s expected back before camp comes to a close, but fourth-round pick Brock Vereen could use any extra reps he receives to stake a claim to the free safety job that could be too much for Conte to overcome.

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Ryan Harris announces he’s signed with Chiefs

Ryan Harris, Keshawn Martin AP

Tackle Ryan Harris spent the first four years of his career as a member of the Broncos, so he’s familiar with being on the opposite side of the field from their AFC West rivals in Kansas City.

Now Harris is going to get a chance to see how the other half lives. Harris announced on Twitter that he’s signed with the Chiefs a day before they hold their first full-squad practice of the summer.

Harris was a third-round pick of the Broncos in 2007 and played 46 games with the team before moving on to Houston. He played in all 32 games for the Texans over the last two seasons and made five starts.

The Chiefs have Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson set at left and right tackle, respectively, which likely leaves Harris with a chance at earning the swing tackle job behind them if he can beat out J’Marcus Webb during camp.

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NFL announces Lane Johnson suspended four games for PEDs

Lane Johnson AP

Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson has been suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Johnson blamed the suspension, which had previously been reported but only today officially announced, on a medication that he says he took without realizing it was on the list of banned substances. He did not name the medication.

“In April while training, I mistakenly and foolishly put a prescribed medication in my body to help with a medical issue. I mistakenly failed to clear it with Eagles trainers and check the NFL list of banned substances. I am extremely sorry for this mistake and I will learn from it and be smarter in the future,” Johnson said. “This will be very hard on me to not be battling with my teammates for four games – but I will be ready and better than ever when I return.”

With Johnson and Miami’s Dion Jordan both suspended from Week One through Week Four, two of the NFL’s Top 4 picks in the 2013 NFL draft will be serving PED suspensions to start the season.

Johnson can participate in training camp and the preseason but will have to be away from the team’s facility from the start of the regular season through Monday, September 29.

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Texans sign Tyson Clabo

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets Getty Images

The Texans added some experience to their offensive line on Wednesday.

Agent Chad Speck announced on Twitter that his client Tyson Clabo has agreed to terms on a contract with the Texans. Speck offered no details on the deal, but Adam Caplan of ESPN reports it is a two-year contract. Caplan also reports that Clabo had contract discussions with the Cardinals after a visit that came to nothing as the two sides couldn’t agree on money.

Clabo spent last season with the Dolphins and started 15 games as part of a line that allowed 58 sacks over the course of the season. He was a starter with the Falcons for the previous seven seasons as well, holding down the right side of the line in both Atlanta and Miami.

Clabo will likely compete with incumbent Texans right tackle Derek Newton, who is coming off a rough year of his own in Houston. 2013 third-round pick Brennan Williams was thought to be Newton’s chief competition, but the Texans released Williams this week.

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Reports: Fred Davis sought by Washington D.C. police

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins Getty Images

According to multiple published reports, Washington D.C. police are seeking free agent tight end Fred Davis in connection with a domestic violence allegation.

According to a statement from police obtained by PFT, the alleged simple assault occurred early on the morning of June 2 in Washington.

Police released a statement on the allegation Wednesday in the hopes of locating Davis, who has a residence in Leesburg, Virginia, according to authorities.

Davis played for Washington from 2008 through 2013, catching 162 passes for 2,043 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is currently serving an indefinite NFL suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

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Odell Beckham tweaked hamstring on Tuesday

Odell Beckham AP

The Giants had a few players forced out of practice on Tuesday because of injuries or difficulties dealing with heat, including first-round pick Odell Beckham.

The wide receiver pulled up while running a pattern and grabbed his hamstring before going to the sideline for treatment. On Wednesday, General Manager Jerry Reese said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, that Beckham tweaked the muscle. Reese didn’t offer any update on what Beckham might do in practice on Wednesday or any other day.

It’s not the first time Beckham has battled hamstring trouble in his brief Giants career. He dealt with it during the team’s spring work as well and said before Tuesday’s work that he wasn’t sure if it was 100 percent recovered.

Hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger if not given sufficient time to heal so the Giants may dial things back with Beckham in the near future to be sure that he’s in peak condition when he returns to the field. After all, having a speedy new receiver in your offense doesn’t do a lot of good if you can’t use him because he’s got a bad wheel.

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Browns agree with Justin Gilbert, leaving one unsigned

justin gilbert AP

And then there was one.

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the Browns agreed to their deal with first-rounder Justin Gilbert today, getting the cornerback under contract before camp opens.

That leaves just Titans first-rounder Taylor Lewan as the only unsigned pick league-wide.

There used to be dozens of these to worry about this week, but the slotted rookie contracts of the new CBA had all but a handful done before July.

It’s no surprise Lewan is the last man standing, as Titans first-rounder Chance Warmack was the last first-rounder to sign last year.

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Jets place Willie Colon and Antwan Barnes on PUP

New York Jets v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Now we know part of the reason the Jets signed Jason Babin earlier today.

The Jets announced that they were placing linebacker Antwan Barnes and veteran guard Willie Colon on the physically unable to perform list to open training camp, in addition to the signing of the veteran pass-rusher.

Barnes is coming off some knee problems, so the addition of Babin gives them some experienced depth to get them through camp. Colon is dealing with knee and biceps injuries.

The Jets also released cornerback Lowell Rose to create the roster spot for Babin.

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