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Report: 35-percent chance Roethlisberger plays

AP

As the football-following world waits for the puff of white smoke that will let us all know whether Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be riding a white horse (a really big white horse) in to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday to save his team for another batch (see what I did there?) of turnovers, the most specific report regarding his availability has emerged.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reports that Roethlisberger has a 35-percent chance of playing.

Though we’re not quite sure how anyone has arrived at that number, each team has to engage in a similar exercise every week.  “Doubtful” means there’s a 25-percent chance a player will play.  “Questionable” connotes to a 50-50 coin flip.  (Despite popular belief, “probable” doesn’t mean 75 percent, but that there’s a virtual certainty the player will be available for normal duty.)

If the number really is 35, the Steelers will have a hard time choosing between “doubtful” and “questionable” when the time comes to turn in the injury report.  Maybe they’ll say he’s doubtionable.

Regardless of the label, we’ll be shocked if he doesn’t play.  The notion that the dislocated rib threatens his aorta came from no one but Ben himself, and if he’s in no danger of serious injury the question becomes whether a less-than-100-percent Roethlisberger is better than the alternative.

Based on what we saw last week in Cleveland, is it even a question?

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Joey Bosa at Chargers workouts Monday

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Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco held his pre-draft press conference on Monday and most of the time was spent painting the same broad strokes about the team’s plans for later this week that you hear from every team at this point in the year.

Telesco did provide one newsworthy item about the team’s top pick from last year during the session, however. Telesco said that defensive end Joey Bosa was at the team’s workout on Monday after missing the first few weeks of the voluntary offseason program.

“He was in this morning so I think we’re all good there,” Telesco said.

Bosa was working out on his own the last few weeks and his play last year after missing a much larger period of time while negotiating his contract showed that being away from the team didn’t hold him back too much. That should make his temporary absence this year a distant memory by the time the start of the 2017 season arrives.

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Joe Montana wants street named in his honor to bear Dwight Clark’s name, too

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San Francisco announced on Sunday that 49ers Hall of Famer Joe Montana will have a street named in his honor. But Montana doesn’t want to be alone.

Montana said he wants his receiver Dwight Clark, who caught The Catch from Montana in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, to be honored as well. So at a ceremony recognizing Montana, he asked that “Joe Montana Drive” be named “Montana-Clark Drive” as well.

Clark was recently diagnosed with ALS, but Montana said he knew he wanted to do something to honor Clark before the diagnosis. Montana said that his wife has been telling him that he needs to do something to show how special Clark has been to him.

“She has a great feel and a great sense for these things,” Montana said, via the San Jose Mercury News. “She’s been through my life and through my career. . . . and she knows Dwight was a special guy for me from Day One.”

Still, Montana isn’t above giving his teammate some ribbing.

“When his name goes up on here, they could lower the speed limit,” Montana said. “Because we know Dwight wasn’t very fast.”

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Jerry Jones: Tony Romo situation worked out as well as possible

AP

The Cowboys took their time after the end of the 2016 season before releasing Tony Romo earlier this month and he’ll be moving on to a job in the CBS broadcast booth alongside Jim Nantz.

There was some criticism directed toward Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for the amount of time they took as the process played out, but Romo expressed no animosity toward Jones when he moved on to his new career. Jones is also feeling good about how things wound up.

During a press conference on Monday, Jones said the situation “worked out as well as it possibly could.” Some of that feeling likely comes from Romo moving into a job he could fill for a long time if he proves to be a strong commentator, but Jones also made it clear that he’s happy not to have to play against Romo.

“Yes. I think if he were [playing for someone else] they would be real competition for us this year,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News.

The Cowboys will have plenty of competition as they try to build on last year’s success, but it seems that the only threat Romo will pose to them is well-delivered barbs during a couple of their regular season games.

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Seahawks G.M.: “Moved past” Richard Sherman trade talks

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While we’re still waiting to see what Marshawn Lynch decides to do, it appears we’ve reached some degree of finality to the Richard Sherman trade talk.

Seahawks General Manager John Schneider told reporters today that cornerback Richard Sherman was on hand at the team’s facility for offseason workouts, and that any previous trade talks seem to be over.

Right now we’ve kind of moved past it,” Schneider said, via Stephen Cohen of SeattlePI.com. “If someone calls and goes crazy with something, we’ll discuss it.”

The Seahawks were upfront about their willingness to part ways with the cornerback throughout, and Schneider left himself some wiggle room.

But given the drama of their relationship over the last year, it will still be interesting to monitor their next moves, specifically if they draft young corners this week.

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Jabrill Peppers tests positive for a dilute sample

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NFL teams now have more questions about Jabrill Peppers than what position he’ll play.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Michigan hybrid safety tested positive for a dilute sample at the Scouting Combine.

And just like Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, Peppers got out in front of the news by claiming he was overly hydrated in a statement sent out by his agency CAA.

“Peppers went to the combine, the statement read. “He was sick after flying there from San Diego. He has a history of cramping. Peppers was being pumped with fluids, drinking 8-10 bottles of water before he went to bed, because he was the first guy to work out two days for the LBs and DBs. He had to go through that first day, come back on second day, and that was the fear. So Peppers was pounding water and under the weather. He never failed a drug test in his life, nor tested positive before for any substance.”

While that’s very possibly true, it’s also irrelevant in the context of the NFL’s testing program, which treats dilute samples as failed tests.

To what degree it impacts his draft stock remains to be seen.

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Davis Webb has no qualms about letting NFL teams determine his destination

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Quarterback Davis Webb began his college career by choosing Texas Tech. It worked at first, with Webb beating out Baker Mayfield, who opted to transfer to Oklahoma. Then came Patrick Mahomes, who won the starting job at Texas Tech. Webb then opted to transfer to Cal.

So Webb has seen the power of the player at the college level, where the decisions are made by the participants in football and not by the teams. He still has no qualms about the NFL’s system of dividing up talent based not on what the player wants but what the teams want. He expressed his position on the matter during a Monday visit to PFT Live.

Webb said plenty more about his preparation for the NFL, his desire to get to offseason workouts as soon as possible, and his interest in eventually becoming a coach. Through it all, a strong love of the sport came through. Which should make him more attractive to the teams that are considering him.

The Chiefs, Jets, and Seahawks have brought him in for a visit, and the 49ers have worked him out. Webb said that more information about other visits and workouts will be coming later in the week.

Even later in the week, he’ll have his first NFL team. And he’ll quickly get to work for whoever that is.

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Clock is ticking loudly for Raiders, Marshawn Lynch

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More than a month ago, running back Marshawn Lynch made major waves with tales of his potential unretirement. Now, only three days before the draft, the prospect of a return seems no stronger than it was when the news first surfaced on St. Patrick’s Day.

The only reasonable explanation resides in the inherent unpredictability of Marshawn Lynch. When he’s pushed in one direction, he seems to be more inclined to go the other way. So with the Raiders pushing him to make a decision before the draft, Lynch’s natural inclination may be to not make a decision before the draft. Which, if the Raiders pick a running back early in the process, could result in the door naturally closing on Lynch.

From Lynch’s perspective, it may simply be a matter of calling the team’s bluff. If the Raiders have decided that they want him as a player and need him as an ambassador of sorts to the city the franchise soon will be fleeing for good, maybe they won’t pull the trigger on another tailback. Maybe they’ll keep waiting for Lynch because they know he’ll help them through an awkward, slow-motion, conscious uncoupling with a home city that also is Lynch’s hometown.

So, basically, it’s hard to imagine Lynch giving in, given what we know of Lynch. The real question is whether the Raiders will make the issue moot by picking a running back in an early round, or whether they’ll continue to wait for Lynch to choose to finalize and to formalize his return to the NFL.

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Jake Long announces his retirement

AP

Former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long realized that coming back from a torn Achilles as he approaches his 32nd birthday was going to be a struggle.

So Monday, he decided to call it a career.

Long tweeted out his thanks to friends and family, but said he wouldn’t be trying to play again.

“As I continue with my recent rehab,” he wrote, “I realize that although my heart and mind still want to play, my body is telling me something completely different.”

Long signed with the Vikings last year when injuries hit, but was lost for the season in November.

The top pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Dolphins, Long also played for the Rams and Falcons. He was a perennial Pro Bowler during his days with the Dolphins, but injuries derailed his career.

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Giants picking up Odell Beckham’s 2018 option

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Odell Beckham has caught 288 passes for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns over his first three seasons with the Giants, which likely meant that the team’s decision-makers spend more time on the average workday figuring out what to have for lunch than they did figuring out whether to pick up their option for 2018 on Beckham’s contract.

Kimberly Jones of NFL Media reports that the Giants are picking up that option, which will be guaranteed against injury only for the 2014 first-round pick. Beckham joins Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin as wideouts from that year’s first round to have their options picked up with word still pending on plans for Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks.

The future for the Giants and Beckham will likely involve discussions about a long-term deal that would keep Beckham on the team for a long while.

Those statistics listed above make the case for why the Giants would be interested in doing that while some would use his outbursts on the field, on the sidelines and in Lambeau Field hallways to argue that Beckham’s volatility works against a long-term investment. The Giants have occasionally complained about those outbursts, but co-owner John Mara said earlier this year that Beckham is the “last guy” he worries about and that would seem to suggest that his play will carry the day.

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Washington linebacker Will Compton signs his tender

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With the window to sign offer sheets with other teams passed, restricted free agents don’t have many choices at this stage.

So most of them go ahead and sign.

Washington’s Will Compton is the latest to take care of the paperwork, signing his today according to John Keim of ESPN.com. RFA running back Chris Thompson signed his Friday.

Compton got the original-round tender of $1.797 million, and wouldn’t have cost another team anything in compensation since he was undrafted.

But with Washington signing Zach Brown, Compton may return to a reserve role.

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Tim Barnes scheduled to work out for 49ers

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The draft is the main attention-getter in the NFL this week, but teams are taking care of business on other fronts with offseason workout programs underway across the league.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the 49ers will have former Rams center Tim Barnes in for a workout on Tuesday. Barnes was released earlier this offseason before the Rams signed former Viking John Sullivan.

Barnes started every game for the Rams over the last two seasons, but the new coaching staff in Los Angeles opted to replace him as part of a series of changes to the line this offseason.

The 49ers have also made moves on their offensive line, including a trade with the Ravens that brought center Jeremy Zuttah to the team. Zuttah’s presence would likely put any 49ers interest in Barnes as a depth option, although any thoughts on that front are likely premature until the 49ers put Barnes through his paces this week.

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Unnamed scout suggests small market will be better for DeShone Kizer

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As the draft approaches, it’s important to remember that “anonymous scouts” may have a Machiavellian agenda, saying bad things about players they hope other teams won’t draft and good things about players they hope some other sucker will select. With that caveat, consider this fairly harsh criticism from an unnamed scout of Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer.

He’s a pure millennial,” the anonymous scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “He’s caught up in being more of a quarterback image than being a quarterback. If he goes to the right spot with the right coach, he’ll ascend. They’re going to have to get him to focus on football. I honestly think this guy would do better in a small market. If he goes to a big market he’ll enjoy everything else that comes with the position. The one position in the building you don’t want to worry about whether he’s going to be focused on football is quarterback.”

Since we don’t know who the unnamed scout is, it’s possible he works for a team that is in a small market and that hopes to land Kizer, who is regarded as having a potentially big upside. And the upside is the key, since teams without franchise quarterbacks know that the draft is one of the few places to find one.

As to going to “the right spot with the right coach,” that’s true of anyone, really. Dak Prescott instantly became Dak Prescott in part because he was picked by the Cowboys and not by a team that didn’t have the offensive line, the running back, the receivers, the tight end, and the coaching staff.

For Kizer and any other quarterback, that should be the primary hope this week — to land in the right spot with the right coach, regardless of which round that happens in.

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Saints still talking to Adrian Peterson

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Discussions about free agent running back Adrian Peterson have cooled as the draft approaches, but at least one team remains interested.

The Saints and Peterson are still talking about a contract, Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune reports.

How soon a contract could be agreed upon remains to be seen. The Saints may want to wait and see if a running back they like is available in the draft, which could make them less interested in Peterson. And Peterson may want to see if a team that misses out on its preferred running back gives him a call.

But at a time when other teams aren’t showing a lot of interest in Peterson — or in any of the available veteran running backs, for that matter — the Saints remain interested.

ESPN would surely love to see the Saints sign Peterson, as their first opponent is the Vikings, on Monday Night Football.

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Corey Davis says he’s close to 100 percent after ankle surgery

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In this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback column for TheMMQB.com, Peter King quotes Mike Mayock of NFL Network as saying that there is “more medical concern with high draft picks than I’ve ever seen in a draft before.”

One of those picks is Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis. Davis is at the top of the list of wide receivers available for selection this year, but ankle surgery at the start of the offseason kept him from working out for teams over the course of the pre-draft process.

Davis said at the Scouting Combine in early March that he was confident he would be “good by minicamp” and he offered another update recently. Davis told Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com that he expects to be 100 percent in a “few weeks,” which would allow him to get some work in with his new team ahead of training camp this summer.

We’ll find out how much the injury impacted Davis’ draft standing later this week. He visited with the Ravens, Browns, Eagles and Titans, all of whom are thought to be good bets to add a receiver before the draft is out.

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23 cities are interested in hosting the draft

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Now that the NFL has realized that it can do with the draft what it does with the Super Bowl, cities are lining up to get a chance to host the league’s annual offseason tentpole event.

Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the number of locations interested in hosting the draft exceeds 20.

“We have gone out multiple times to all 32 clubs to get their expression of interest in hosting the draft,” NFL senior V.P. of events Peter O’Reilly told Kaplan. “The number of interested . . . markets are 23, which is inclusive of Canton.”

For now, the NFL pays most of the freight when it comes to hosting the draft. As more cities compete for that privilege, the league could soon dictate terms, like it does with the Super Bowl.

The draft also could be hosted in a given year by several different cities. That’s a possibility the league has mentioned in the past. As interest grows, it makes even more sense to consider it.

New York City had a hammerlock on the draft from 1965 through 2014. In 2015 and 2016, the draft was held in Chicago. This week, the draft will be held in Philadelphia.

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