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Bears run D sliding while Peterson’s game improving

Detroit Lions v Minnesota ViKings Getty Images

Not only is Adrian Peterson healthy, but he’s hitting his stride.

But while the Vikings running back’s numbers are moving in the right direction, the Bears’ run defense has looked vulnerable lately, heading into Sunday’s game at Soldier Field.

‘‘We’re just in a slump,’’ cornerback Charles Tillman said, via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘It just happens like that sometimes. Guys are trying.’’

Maybe so, but the numbers show they’re not getting much for their efforts.

The Bears entered the bye week second in the league in run defense, allowing 65.8 yards per game. They’ve since slipped to eighth, after giving up 131.5 yards per game on the ground in their last four.

Granted, they’ve played from behind, against good backs, and the numbers are inflated by some garbage-time runs, but the problem is clear.

Meanwhile, Peterson leads the league with 1,128 yards, his torn ACL seemingly decades ago. Unlike the Bears, he’s trending up, with 157.2 yards per game over his last four.

“I think everything can be vulnerable, especially against a team where it’s no surprise that we’re going to run the ball and we’re going to try to establish the run game,” Peterson said. “‘They haven’t faced a run game like us this year, I don’t think. So we’re excited about the challenge, and I’m sure they are, too.”

Given that Peterson’s the one thing the Vikings do well offensively, the challenge for the Bears is clear. Stopping him is another problem altogether.

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Peterson thinks Mathieu deal will get done “pretty soon”

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Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson received his second contract after three years in the NFL. Teammate and close friend Tyrann Mathieu is currently negotiating his own second deal after three seasons. Peterson recently told PFT Live that he believes Mathieu will get his new contract soon.

“I was in kind of a similar situation when it was time for me to sign a new deal and obviously wanting a new deal,” Peterson said. “Like I tell Tyrann all the time, let his agent handle that and also it’s gonna be a long, drawn out process, you just have to be patient. I know it will happen, just don’t know when it will happen but the Cardinals organization understands what Tyrann means to the football team, to the community, and when you have a top notch player like that, that just doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and we have great ownership upstairs and the General Manager and the president and owner of the team. I mean those guys know at the end of the day what Tyrann means and like I said, I’m quite sure that the deal will get done here pretty soon.”

I then asked Peterson, tongue partially in cheek, whether he supports Mathieu getting a new deal as long as Mathieu doesn’t get more than Peterson.

“Not at all,” Peterson said, laughing. “I want him to get every penny that he deserves and if the team obviously wants to pay him more than me, I don’t have a problem with that all because Tyrann’s very, very gifted. He’s very talented, he means so much to this defense as you can tell. I believe we missed a beat last year when he got knocked out for the rest of the season with the ACL injury. But I don’t have a problem with that at all. If they feel he’s worth more than me, it is what it is.”

Mathieu previously predicted on PFT Live that his negotiations will be “kind of a wrestling match but at the end of the day as long as we understand it’s a business and as long as we take care of our relationships I think it’ll be all right.”

The core of the wrestling match could hinge on whether Mathieu should be paid as a safety or a cornerback, since he plays more corner than safety. Mathieu’s pair of ACL tears also could be an issue at the bargaining table.

Regardless, everyone continues to be optimistic that the deal will get done. Now it just needs to get done.

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Luck’s admission of poor play doesn’t affect his leverage

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When hearing that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck admitted he didn’t play well last year even when he was healthy, it would have been reasonable to say something like, “Don’t say things like that when you’re trying to land the biggest contract in league history.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of whether he played well or not (not) or whether he admits it or not (did), Luck still has the leverage to get at least $25 million per year from Colts owner Jim Irsay.

He already has $16.155 million fully guaranteed coming to him in 2016, the option year of his rookie deal. If a new contract isn’t signed by February, the Colts will have to use the exclusive franchise tag to keep another team from gladly giving up a pair of first-round picks for the privilege of making Luck the highest-paid player in league history. The exclusive quarterback franchise tender could be in the neighborhood of $25 million next year.

Under the labor deal, that $25 million becomes, with a 20-percent raise, $30 million in 2017 and, with a 44-percent raise for a third tag, $43.2 million in 2018. That’s $98.2 million over three years of the tag. Factoring in the $16.155 million Luck is due to earn this year, that’s $114.35 million over four years.

That’s an average of $28.58 million per year.

Yes, to get that much money Luck would carry the year-to-year risk of injury and ineffectiveness. How often, however, does a quarterback suffer a truly career-ending injury? Likewise, how often does a successful starting quarterback suddenly lose his fastball?

It’s not impossible, but it’s a risk that Luck should be willing to assume if the Colts won’t give him the total dollars and, more importantly, the structure he wants. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco recently parlayed an exorbitant cap number into a new deal that paid out a $40 million signing bonus. Last year, Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh got $60 million fully guaranteed at signing in 2015. Those amounts should be the starting point for Luck, with a potential aspiration of $50 million to sign and $75 million fully-guaranteed at signing — or at the latest $75 million in fully-guaranteed money vested by March 2017.

As previously explained, Luck also should tie the later years of the contract to the growth in the cap, ensuring that the contract won’t become obsolete as the spending ceiling continues to climb.

If Luck wants those terms and if the Colts don’t want to give Luck those terms, he can go year-to-year under the tag unless and until the Colts decide to let someone else give Luck what he wants.

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Browns drilling RG3 in throwing mechanics, avoiding hits

BEREA, OH - APRIL 21, 2016: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Cleveland Browns drops back to pass during a voluntary mini camp on April 21, 2016 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption *** Robert Griffin III Getty Images

As Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III enters his fifth NFL season, he still needs to be reminded of some of the basics.

Specifically, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, the Browns have three major lessons they’re drilling into Griffin in his first few months with his new team:

1. Plant your back foot, then throw.
2. Get down, then slide.
3. Throw the ball away, don’t take needless hits from the defense.

Usually, a player who has been in the NFL as long as Griffin would be expected to have the fundamentals down. But Griffin was so successful, so early in his career, while relying so much on his natural gifts, that he still has a lot to learn about playing the position.

Griffin’s downfall in Washington was his inability to avoid taking hits, and when Griffin couldn’t avoid the pass rush in the preseason last year, Jay Gruden ultimately decided that Griffin wasn’t up to the task of quarterbacking his team. Hue Jackson will have to be convinced that Griffin has learned enough to lead the Browns.

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Tarvaris Jackson free on $2,500 bond after threatening to kill wife

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Former Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has been released from jail on a $2,500 bond, after allegedly pointing a gun at and threatening to kill his wife.

According to Chris Hush of WESH, the 33-year-old Jackson was released from jail Friday.

Jackson was arrested after an incident with his wife in which he was intoxicated, and threatened to shoot her. She grabbed an iron and a knife at one point to protect herself, before another adult at the residence separated them. She also taunted the free agent quarterback, saying “You better be accurate because you ain’t accurate on the field.”

Jackson has a 59.6 percent career completion percentage.

According to the police report, several children were in the home at the time of the incident, and police found marijuana along with his 9mm handgun. He is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

“She felt fearful and she thought he could kill her,” said Twis Lizasuain with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

The report also stated there may have been prior disputes between Jackson and his wife, which will certainly complicate the case and his bid for future employment. The Seahawks had previously said they’d welcome the veteran backup back, but that seems less likely now.

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Wisconsin kid Tony Romo still looks up to Brett Favre

Tony Romo

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin, and when he was 12 years old his favorite team traded for Brett Favre. A quarter century later, Romo still considers Favre his hero.

I still look up to him,” Romo told ESPN. “Anybody who grew up in Wisconsin, everyone knows who Brett Favre is and what he’s meant to Green Bay and Wisconsin life. They come around once in a generation. Green Bay’s been lucky enough to go from Brett to Aaron [Rodgers] and that’s just unrealistic in real life to have that happen in professional sports. But Brett getting inducted is one of the most no-brainer things that’s ever taken shape. I’m just glad to see the reunion of that two that has happened.”

As a young boy, Romo lived through some dark years as a Packers fan: Before Favre arrived, Green Bay missed the playoffs 10 years in a row and struggled to fill Lambeau Field. All that changed with Favre.

“Without Brett Favre, the Green Bay Packers really aren’t the Green Bay Packers, even though they have a great history and [Vince] Lombardi and everything else that goes into it,” Romo said. “I was watching football before they had Brett Favre and Green Bay was not someone that you had to worry about on your schedule if you were playing in the NFL. I think he brought them back to prominence and made that organization’s standard of excellence and from there all the pieces started to fall into place. What you see today, that is a byproduct of him, his talent, his ability, his knowledge of the game, his passion, his work ethic and really his willingness to compete.”

Fave is a hero to a lot of guys who grew up in Wisconsin, including one who became an NFL quarterback himself.

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Rams have sold 63,000 season tickets

OXNARD, CA - MAY 06:  Head coach Jeff Fisher of the Los Angeles Rams takes to the field during a Los Angeles Rams rookie camp on May 06, 2016 in Oxnard, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Los Angeles is ready to support the Rams.

Rams COO Kevin Demoff told the Ventura County Star that the Rams have already sold 63,000 season tickets. The team’s goal is to sell 70,000 season tickets and leave the remaining seats for single-game sales.

The Rams plan to configure the Coliseum at a capacity of 80,000, although they can open it up for 90,000 fans if there are big games when the demand warrants it.

Demoff said the Rams have felt welcomed in Southern California.

“This has really been a labor of love over the past five months to get this team up and running in every facet,” Demoff said. “Our group has been working tirelessly. I must say, the warm reception we have received from everybody in this community has been unbelievable.”

The team and the community are looking like a good match. Now the question is whether the Rams, who haven’t had a winning record since 2003, can give Los Angeles a team worthy of that support.

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Jay Gruden hires Jon Gruden’s son

1408309630000-AP-Redskins-Camp-Football AP

The Nepotism Football League continues to live up to its name.

In Washington, the latest keep-it-in-the-family hire comes from coach Jay Gruden hiring his brother Jon’s son, Deuce Gruden, to serve as a strength-coach intern, according to Dan Sternberg of the Washington Post.

Coaches hiring children and other family members has become a way of life in the NFL, presumably because nepotism has been commonplace among the ranks of team ownership since the NFL was founded nearly 100 years ago. But with owners, where the choices are to pass the franchise to a son or daughter or sell it, nepotism is natural. It’s not as natural when an employee who doesn’t hold equity in the operation does it.

The practice is nevertheless accepted by most owners, who apparently believe it would be hypocritical to prohibit coaches from grooming family members when ownership is doing the exact same thing.

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Manziel’s father: “He’s a druggie and needs help”

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel addresses the media after NFL football minicamp in Berea, Ohio, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (AP Photo/David Richard) AP

Paul Manziel, father of ex-Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, told ESPN’s Josina Anderson Friday that his son “is a druggie” and that jail “would be the best place for him.”

Anderson contacted Paul Manziel after Johnny Manziel’s attorney, Bob Hinton, accidentally texted the Associated Press that he intends to seek a plea deal for the pending assault charges his client is facing but worries about Johnny Manziel’s ability to stay clean.

Hilton texted the AP, among other things, this rather unforgettable line: “Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle.”

The Browns released Johhny Manziel in March. Since then he’s been seen only on TMZ and other sites that have covered his partying and legal matters. The assault charge stems from a January incident with his ex-girlfriend after which Manziel signed a restraining order barring him from contact with her.

Paul Manziel’s full statement to ESPN read: “He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. I don’t know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn’t seeked it yet. Hopefully he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. That’s about all you can say. I don’t know what else to say. I hate to say it but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. So we’ll see.”

Per the report, Hinton’s accidental text to the AP Wednesday also said he “was given a receipt by a colleague that purports to show [Johnny] Manziel spent more than $1,000 at a drug paraphernalia shop 15 hours” after Manziel was involved in a hit-and-run crash earlier this week.

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Saints’ West Virginia training camp facility closes due to heavy flooding

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The Saints possibly will be staying in Louisiana for training camp this year, after all.

The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, has closed indefinitely after heavy flooding on Thursday.

With the Saints not arriving until July 27, it’s likely that the situation will be resolved by then. However, major efforts could be required to get things back to normal in roughly four weeks.

The more immediate concern is accounting for any and all missing persons in the areas affected by the West Virginia flooding, where 20 already are confirmed dead. Eventually, a decision will have to be made regarding the upcoming PGA event at The Greenbrier; based on the stunning before/after photo of the golf course, it could be very difficult to have things up and running in less than two weeks.

Donations for those affected by the West Virginia flooding can be made through the Red Cross, by visiting redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. An immediate $10 donation came be made by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

We routinely share donation information following natural disasters and encourage contributions, but this one hits very close to home for me. If you’re a regular here, please consider taking a minute and text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation for people who definitely could use the assistance right now.

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Rams cut Wells, Worton

OXNARD, CA - MAY 06:  J.J. Worton #9 of the Los Angeles Rams warms up during a Los Angeles Rams rookie camp on May 06, 2016 in Oxnard, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Rams trimmed their offseason roster by two Friday, waiving linebacker Matthew Wells and wide receiver J.J. Worton.

Wells was a sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2015 and was traded to the Bears during his first training camp. He was waived by the Bears and eventually landed on the practice squad with the Rams before signing a futures contract with the Rams in January.

Worton’s second stint with the Rams lasted just over a month. Worton was arrested on charges that he assaulted a man and two women at a Foxborough, Massachusetts bar last January. He was also accused of groping both women and then knocking out one of their boyfriends.

The Patriots dropped him from their practice squad after that incident. He’d spent some time with the Rams last season before heading to New England, and the Rams signed him again last month after he participated in their minicamp as a tryout player.

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Tarvaris Jackson arrested after allegedly pointing gun at wife

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is without a team for the 2016 season, although that may be the least of his worries in the near future.

Chris Hush of WESH in Orlando reports that Jackson was arrested for aggravated assault after pulling a gun on his wife. Hush shares a shot of the police report from the Osceola County Sheriffs Office from an officer who reported to the scene of a domestic disturbance.

Per the report, Jackson was intoxicated and loaded his gun during an argument with his wife before telling her “I’ll kill you, bitch.” Another adult who was at the house grabbed Jackson before things could escalate any further.

Jackson’s wife told police she feared for her life and grabbed an iron and knife at points for protection, but Jackson initially said nothing more than arguing occurred. He also told police that there was no gun in the house, but they found a handgun on the kitchen counter along with marijuana.

Jackson later told police he did grab a bag containing his gun and told his wife that he should shoot her. Per the report, Jackson’s wife replied that he “better be accurate because you ain’t accurate on the field.”

The Seahawks signed Trevone Boykin and Jake Heaps as backup options for Russell Wilson after Jackson filled the role for the last three years. They’ve said the door isn’t closed on a return to the team, although this incident and whatever happens next could certainly shut it.

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Manziel’s lawyer accidentally texts case strategy to AP

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Johnny Manziel may need a new lawyer. The AP eventually may need a new lawyer, too.

To cap a week that has consisted of plenty of renewed discussion regarding the manner in which the prosecutors in the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial botched the case, Manziel’s lawyer committed a technological faux pas by sending a text message accidentally to the Associated Press. Lawyers representing the AP likewise may have made a tactical error by authorizing publication of a text message that wasn’t intended for the AP.

“Manziel’s lawyer accidentally texts AP, confirms he is seeking plea deal in assault case, worries about QB’s ability to stay clean,” the AP posted at its NFL page. To the extent anyone may wonder whether the Twitter account was hacked, the AP has published a stand-alone story confirming the accidental text.

The mistake happened after an AP reporter texted lawyer Bob Hinton, seeking comment regarding the recent hit-and-run involving a car owned by Manziel. Hinton responded with a text that said, among other things, “Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle.”

Per the report, Hinton’s accidental text also said he “was given a receipt by a colleague that purports to show Manziel spent more than $1,000 at a drug paraphernalia shop 15 hours after the crash.”

It’s not Hinton’s first miscue in the case. Colleague Jim Darnell previously had to walk back Hinton’s off-the-cuff remark that he’d prefer to see Manziel and the ex-girlfriend he allegedly assaulted “kiss and make up.”

Nothing contained in Hinton’s unintended sequel is shocking, given what we already know about Manziel. The broader question is whether the AP should have shared the information that was accidentally shared with the AP, legally or ethically. The lawyer clearly wasn’t “on the record” with the AP; it was an accidental message clearly not meant for the AP or any other news operation.

Some would say that Hinton’s text should have been regarded as an off-the-record communication not authorized for use by the AP or anyone else. If Manziel’s lawyer believes that, and depending on how the law specifically applies to situations like this, there could be a few more rounds until this unexpected skirmish is over.

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Report: Purdue defensive tackle entering supplemental draft

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Purdue defensive tackle Ra’Zahn Howard will enter the supplemental draft, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday.

Citing a source, Schefter reported that Howard is leaving school for academic reasons. Players who have a change of circumstance after the early-entry deadline for the draft can apply for the supplemental draft.

Howard was suspended in January and announced his intention to transfer. He was a three-year starter at Purdue.

Purdue listed Howard at 6-foot-3, 325, so NFL teams will at least give Howard a look. The supplemental draft is held in July, and Schefter reported that Howard will hold a pro day workout in New Jersey on July 8.

A team that selects a player in the supplemental draft gives up its corresponding pick in the following year’s draft. Five players have been selected in the supplemental draft in the last six years, most recently offensive tackle Isaiah Battle by the Rams last year and most notably wide receiver Josh Gordon with a second-round pick by the Browns in 2012.

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Packers report record profit, revenue over last fiscal year

Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers,  renovated in 2003, is set for play  August 16, 2004. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Very little about the NFL escapes public scrutiny these days with the notable exception of the financial records of the 31 privately held teams under no obligation to share that information.

The Packers are not privately held, however, and their annual report gives us an idea about how things are faring in bank accounts around the league. You won’t be surprised to hear that business is good.

The Packers reported a franchise-record $408.7 million in revenue for the fiscal year that ended on March 31 along with a record $48.9 million in net income and $75 million in profit from operations. Those last two numbers represented 68 percent and 91 percent jumps from the previous year.

Packers president Mark Murphy attributed an 11 percent increase in local revenue to $186.2 million to the success of business at the Lambeau Field atrium and strong sales/marketing programs. National revenues — money shared equally by the league’s teams — went up six percent to $222.6 million, which provides part of the picture of the financial outlook for the rest of the teams in the league.

Part of the reason for the rise in the team’s profits this year was a drop in expenses that the team attributed to “a league assessment related to debt refinancing” and the previous year’s spending on the Titletown project near Lambeau Field. Murphy said he did not expect to see the same profit margin next season as player expenses appear set to rise.

“We have a number of core players with contracts ending,” Murphy said. “We could have a number of signings next year, and the biggest thing there [on the balance sheet] is the signing bonuses.”

Even so, it’s a good bet that the professional football business will remain a financially rewarding one for the Packers.

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Broncos, Miller haven’t spoken since early June

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 24:  Linebacker Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos looks on from the sideline during a game against the St. Louis Rams at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on August 24, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Miller will miss the first six regular season games of the season after being suspended for violating the NFL's drug policy. The Broncos defeated the Rams 27-26.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Broncos visited the White House on Monday, June 6, someone (the Broncos) leaked to the media the terms of an offer that the team had made to linebacker Von Miller — and that had expired on Tuesday evening, June 7. Since that time, the two sides haven’t talked much, if at all.

Josina Anderson of ESPN.com reports that the Broncos and Miller have had no conversations since early June.

As of last Friday, PFT learned that neither side had contacted the other in the aftermath of the contract signed by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in Philadelphia.

Even when the two sides were communicating, they weren’t actually negotiating. Instead, they traded proposals without the kind of in-depth back and forth that can bridge the gap on key terms.

If/when player and team truly negotiate, they should be able to work something out. For now, there’s no reason to talk. The team’s attempt to apply artificial deadlines didn’t get a deal done. The real deadline arrives on July 15.

At this point, it would be a surprise if the two sides resume discussions before Monday, July 11. If a deal is going to get done, it’ll likely happen not long before 4:00 p.m. ET on Friday, July 15. Assuming the fax machines are working, of course.

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