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Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher dead in apparent murder-suicide

Jovan Belcher AP

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and a woman believed to be his girlfriend are dead, after Belcher apparently shot and killed her, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and shot and killed himself.

A statement released by the Chiefs said only, “We can confirm that there was an incident at Arrowhead earlier this morning. We are cooperating with authorities in their investigation.” But PFT has confirmed with multiple sources that it was, in fact, Belcher who was involved in the incident.

The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting involved a player who shot his girlfriend at around 8 a.m. on Saturday at a home in Kansas City and then left the scene and committed suicide at the team’s facility at Arrowhead a short time later.

Players on the Chiefs are gathering at Arrowhead Stadium today and being told of the situation. The Chiefs are scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. The Panthers’ team flight has not yet left for Kansas City, and the NFL has not yet said whether the game will go on as scheduled.

The 25-year-old Belcher entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine and quickly made an impact, becoming a starter during his rookie season. Belcher’s off-field life had remained relatively quiet, and the news of this morning is stunning to the NFL world.

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Browns happy to see scuffles at practice

Mike Pettine AP

Practice scuffles are a training camp inevitability and we’ve seen them break out at several camps already this summer.

It was the Browns’ turn on Tuesday and their practice featured a big blowup. NFL.com has video of the incident, which seemed to involve a good number of players from both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. After things cooled down, Browns coach Mike Pettine opted against the tried and true coach response of saying that he wants to see his charges show more control over themselves when working among teammates.

“When we talk about the kind of team we want to be, you have to practice that way and that is hard, that’s difficult,” Pettine said. “I can’t tell that lie that we can be a certain way on a practice field and carry it over on the game field. There are going to be times when it does boil over. And you don’t want one side of the ball to get bullied by the other. There has to be some push back….You look at that and it’s the price of doing business.”

Safety Donte Whitner echoed the coach, saying that you want “nasty guys” on both defense and the offensive line as a way of explaining how things boiled over on the field on Tuesday. It’s hard to argue with that assessment or the explanation that players getting ready to play a rough game will sometimes wind up crossing the line during a practice session, but it’s a fine line given the possibility of injuries when things go off the way they did on Tuesday.

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Colts sign a pair, including running back Phillip Tanner

Minnesota Vikings v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The Colts added a pair of free agents today, as they continue to look for depth in the wake of losing running back Vick Ballard to a torn Achilles.

The team announced they had signed linebacker Jonathon Sharpe and running back Phillip Tanner.

Tanner spent the last three years with the Cowboys, mostly as a special teamer. He has 56 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns in his career.

Sharpe is an undrafted rookie who came through the super regional combine setup after two years at North Greenville University. He also played Wofford College before transferring.

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David Wilson suffers burner in Giants practice

David Wilson AP

The Giants took their time clearing running back David Wilson for a return to the lineup after last year’s neck injury and surgery, but that didn’t make take it any longer before there was a reminder of why there was so much uncertainty about Wilson’s future.

Wilson left Giants practice early on Tuesday and Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, that he left the session because he suffered a burner. Burners, sometimes called stingers, are nerve injuries to the neck that can cause muscle weakness and pain down an arm.

They don’t tend to be long-lasting injuries, but Wilson’s history with his neck makes it something of a setback in his return to action that the Giants are likely to take seriously in the coming days. Coughlin didn’t offer any timeline for Wilson’s return, which leaves his availability for the Hall of Fame Game, at the very least, in doubt.

Rashad Jennings, Peyton Hillis, fourth-round pick Andre Williams and Michael Cox round out a Giants running back group that could find itself back to hoping Wilson can contribute this season rather than expecting it.

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The Ravens are just trolling you at this point

erniemccracken

It is no longer fair to accuse the Ravens of being tone-deaf when it comes to their presentation of suspended wife-beater Ray Rice.

Because that would presume they’re not doing it on purpose.

The Ravens continue to make a martyr out of the guy who dragged his unconscious wife out of an elevator, posting a story and a video of last night’s practice, when he was given a standing ovation by Ravens fans.

They even found an apparent woman, Debbie Lindling of Baltimore, to voice her support in the story.

“I’m wearing his jersey because he is still a good man,” she said. “I’m happy to support Ray Rice, just like he has always supported our community.”

“I have on number 27 to show the fans, and the world, that I am supportive of Ray Rice,” added Jerra Byrd of Randallstown, Md, who we think would probably be female as well. “He has been forgiven by his wife. He is moving on with his life. He didn’t ask for the two-game suspension.”

Yes, at this point they’re going over the top with the unpopular opinion, putting on the black hat and happily playing the role of heel.

They’ve become the Big Ern McCracken of the NFL, and they don’t care if you have a uterus or otherwise don’t like it.

Now, if you’ll bring them another Tanqueray and Tab, and if you don’t mind, wash that perfume off before you come back to their table.

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Lyle Sendlein to miss three weeks with calf injury

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein started all 16 games last season after tearing his MCL in 2012, but he’s going to miss some time in training camp.

The good news for the Cardinals is that Sendlein’s absence from the practice field isn’t another torn knee ligament. The bad news is that he’s being bothered by a calf injury that will keep him out of the lineup for three weeks.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made the announcement about Sendlein’s injury on Tuesday and said that Ted Larsen, who started 31 games in Tampa over the last four years, would step into the starting lineup while Sendlein recovers. Sendlein’s experienced enough that he should be okay to pick up where he left off, even if it means missing multiple preseason games although creating harmony on the offensive line should be a focus for the Cardinals after adding left tackle Jared Veldheer and getting left guard Jonathan Cooper back from last year’s broken leg.

Sendlein has started the last 91 games he’s played for the Cardinals, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007.

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PFT on NBCSN looks at Bills, Cowboys, more

Romo AP

Tuesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN continues to take a tour through NFL training camps, with a closer look at a couple of teams that squared off in a couple of consecutive Super Bowls.

The Bills and the Cowboys get the deep-dive treatment during the one-hour show, co-hosted by Russ Thaler and featuring Kevin Gilbride, Brian Westbrook, and Ross Tucker in the stuio.  We’ll also look at the news of the day, do the whiparound thing, and more.

And since the Cowboys are one of the two teams and given that owner Jerry Jones claims none of the key figures (including him) are in danger this year, we’ll ask PFT Planet to decide which seat is hotter between the quarterback and the coach.

Tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET for the results.

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Aaron Rodgers: NFL, Packers better off with Jermichael Finley playing

Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley AP

Jermichael Finley’s football future remains cloudy, but the man who used to throw him passes hopes he’ll be back in Green Bay.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers assumed the starting role in 2008, the same year that Finley joined the team, and Finley has 223 receptions for 2,785 yards and 20 touchdowns for Green Bay since then. Rodgers has spoken to Finley, who is reportedly weighing a decision to return against trying to cash in a $10 million insurance policy after last year’s serious neck injury, and says that the tight end looks great while adding that the Packers (and the entire NFL) would be a better with Finley back on the field.

“This league is better with Jermichael in it and this team is better with him in it,” Rodgers said, via FOXSports.com. “I have had a couple of conversations with him; he looks incredible. If you follow him on Twitter, he looks pretty amazing, and he’s worked his tail off. For him, it’s a matter of getting cleared.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has also said that he’d like to see Finley back with the team throughout the offseason, but things have been in a holding pattern and there’s no sign that a change in the situation is imminent. Until that comes, the discussions about Finley’s impact on the league, the Packers and anything else having to do with football will remain hypotheticals.

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Gordon’s appeal focuses on disparity between “A” and “B” bottle tests

LA8917-001 Getty Images

With the Josh Gordon appeal hearing set for Friday and with Gordon hiring (as Adam Schefter reported last night) the same lawyer who helped Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman avoid a four-game suspension for violation of the PED policy in 2012, Gordon presumably has a case that holds more water than the average bong.

Gordon possibly does, especially if the same spirit of lenience that helped Ray Rice receive a suspension of only two games for knocking out his fiancée applies in any way to Gordon.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon landed in Stage III of the program last year as part of a negotiated two-game suspension for the use of cough syrup that contained codeine.  Once in Stage III, a player never leaves.  And he must pass up to 10 drug tests per month.

According to the source, Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests.  One test barely generated a positive.  And but for the 50-50 luck of the draw, it would have been a negative.

Urine samples routinely are split into two bottles, the “A” bottle and the “B” bottle.  If the “A” bottle generates a positive result, the “B” bottle is tested.  Amazingly, the “B” bottle doesn’t have to independently show a violation.  Instead, the substance abuse policy states that the “‘B’ bottle Test need only show that the substance, revealed in the ‘A’ bottle Test, is evident to the ‘limits of detection’ to confirm the results of the ‘A’ bottle Test.”

In English, close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and “B” bottles.

For Gordon, the “A” bottle showed a concentration of 16 ng/ml, only one nanogram per milliliter above the limits of 15.  The “B” bottle showed a concentration of 13.6 ng/ml — less than the threshold.

But because the “A” bottle was labeled “A” and not “B” and because the “B” bottle was labeled “B” and not “A”, the end result is a positive and a minimum one-year banishment from the NFL.  Flip the bottles when it’s time to apply the labels, and Gordon isn’t facing a suspension.

Setting aside (for now) my lingering concerns about the NFL policing the use of marijuana by players, the Draconian provisions of a program that subjects a player to up to 10 tests per month and will remove a Stage III player from the workforce for at least a full year if he failed a single test over the balance of his career, and the NFL’s apparent unwillingness to subject Colts owner Jim Irsay to this same testing protocol and standard, Josh Gordon will be treated extremely unfairly if the policy is strictly applied to him as it is written.

All because the bottle that tested at 16 ng/ml was labeled with an “A and the bottle that tested at 13.6 ng/ml was labeled with a “B”.

The NFL clearly got it wrong with Ray Rice.  The NFL has a chance to get it right with Josh Gordon.

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Brandin Cooks showing screen game, stealing the show

Saints Camp Football AP

The Saints gambled in March when they traded running back Darren Sproles to the Eagles for a draft pick.

But they might have ultimately won, as they found a guy with the same kind of ability to turn small plays into big ones.

According to Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been the star of camp so far, making it clear the Saints are going to build the plan with him in mind.

During Tuesday’s practice, Cooks took a quick bubble screen the distance, and the video of him pulling away from the Saints defense is frankly alarming.

The ability to run more complicated routes will be needed, but the pure speed he showed on the simplest one makes it clear he’s going to be a weapon for Drew Brees soon.

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Whisenhunt says it’s too early for a Titans depth chart

Drew Allen, Ken Whisenhunt AP

The Titans don’t have any starters, any backups, any fourth-stringers just functioning as extra bodies at training camp. Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt says it’s way too early for the Titans to have any depth chart at all.

Whisenhunt told the Tennessean he won’t be releasing a depth chart to the media because he doesn’t even have one himself. He needs time to take a look at every one of his players before he knows who’s likely to be in the starting lineup in Week One.

“I kept coming up with this depth chart that had a bunch of slashes and a bunch of different names on the first line,” he said. “And I said that it’s just not worth doing that and we’ll let it settle out. I told the players . . . ‘Don’t pay attention to the depth chart. You’re going to control that.’ “

Whisenhunt doesn’t want young, inexperienced players to think they’re going to have to back up the veterans.

“Everybody has an opportunity here, and we’re going to play our best guys,” he said.

And July 29 is too early for Whisenhunt to say who his best guys are.

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Andre Reed has very strong words for Bon Jovi

Reed Getty Images

You know that group hug we suggested earlier today to salvage Jon Bon Jovi’s bid for the Buffalo Bills?  The one with Bon Jovi and Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith and Andre Reed?

It might be a good idea to not invite Reed to the party.

[F]–k Bon Jovi!” Reed tells New York Magazine, via ESPN.com.  “”You might as well just take this city, throw it in the river, and let it go down Niagara Falls.”

We’ll interpret that as a “no” vote from Reed on Bon Jovi’s candidacy to buy the Bills.

Reed will be inducted into the Hall of Fame speech on Saturday night.  Hopefully, he won’t grab the mic and utter similar profanities.

Then again, hopefully he will.

Regardless of what happens on Saturday night, Reed may have given the Buffalo faithful three words that will become the prevailing chant that echoes from Fawcett Stadium out to I-77 when the Bills play the Giants to cap Hall of Fame weekend in Canton.

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Return to camp a short one for Panthers’ Tre Boston

Tre Boston AP

It’s not a good week for the Panthers’ draft class.

First-rounder Kelvin Benjamin scared everyone by needing an MRI (it’s just a minor bone bruise), and then they lost sixth-rounder Tyler Gaffney to a season-ending injury and ultimately the Patriots.

They got fourth-round safety Tre Boston back on the field today, but it wasn’t a long stay.

Boston, who was just activated from the physically unable to perform list after sports hernia surgery, was carted off before the end of practice. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he may have aggravated the injury, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

The Panthers brought in veteran safeties Roman Harper and Thomas DeCoud this offseason, but were hoping Boston was going to be able to contribute. Now, they have to wait to see when that might be.

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Jets want to give Chris Ivory plenty of goal-line chances

Chris Ivory AP

The Jets are confident — as they are with all things — that Chris Johnson will get plenty of touches and gain plenty of yards.

But he might lose some chances near the goal line to Chris Ivory, for what running backs coach Anthony Lynn said was good reason.

Lynn called Ivory “the best power runner in the game,” which means Rex Ryan might not win the annual award for hyperbole.

“If we were playing tomorrow, Chris Ivory would be on the goal line, obviously,” Lynn said, via Seth Walder of the New York Daily News. “Sometimes in those situations you have an extra defender that you can’t block, and you need a back that can take him on.”

All exaggerations aside, Ivory has proven himself a tough runner in the past, specifically as a guy who doesn’t go down on first contact.

“Some guys have that unique ability to get skinny in a hole, find a soft spot,” Lynn said of short-yardage backs. “It’s not necessarily a power back.”

So while some might prefer an Adrian Peterson or a Marshawn Lynch, the Jets are going to give Ivory plenty of chances at the goal line, it seems.

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PFT Live: Lions talk with Dave Birkett, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Lions president Tom Lewand announced Monday that the team was putting a pin in negotiations with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season, a move that raises the chances that Suh will be playing elsewhere in 2015.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press will join Mike Florio on Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss the Lions’ decision and share his thoughts on how he thinks things will play out once the sides revisit the issue. They’ll also catch up on other developments from Lions camp, including the progress new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is making with the installation of his scheme.

From there, the course is up to PFT Planet. Florio will be answering your questions during the show, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 while things are in progress.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Lardarius Webb’s back injury “lingering a little bit”

Mike Wallace, Lardarius Webb AP

The Ravens shrugged off the severity of cornerback Lardarius Webb’s back injury over the weekend, but the level of concern in Baltimore has gone up after Webb remained out on Monday.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that coach John Harbaugh said that Webb, who was forced out of Friday’s practice, is expected to have further evaluation of the problem in the coming days.

“He’s got some back things that we’re looking at right now,” Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. “Backs are a little weird. At first, it was no big deal. It’s lingering a little bit, so we’ll find out what’s going on with it.”

Webb bounced back well from a 2012 ACL tear and is slated to start across from Jimmy Smith this season. The Ravens lost Aaron Ross to a torn Achilles and Dominique Franks is on the NFI list, leaving them without much experienced depth at corner right now. That should help some younger players develop, but would be a problem if Webb’s back injury were to linger more than a little bit.

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