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NFLPA adjusts its college all-star game so that scouts can attend

Kansas City Chiefs v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

Last year, the NFLPA conducted a college all-star game that had one significant flaw.  Because underclassmen were permitted to participate, NFL scouts were prohibited from attending.

The players’ union did some huffing and puffing regarding the possibility that such action would constitute an antitrust violation, but there was no litigation filed.

This year, the NFLPA has opted for another path.  In a letter sent Tuesday to all certified player agents, the union explained that only draft-eligible seniors will be permitted to attend.

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will be held on January 19, 2013, at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.  Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards will coach the two teams.

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Sam Bradford urges everyone not to overreact to the preseason

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford warms up prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright) AP

In last year’s third preseason game, Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford went 10-for-10 for 121 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles blew out the Packers to improve to 3-0.

“Last year after the third preseason game, everybody thought we were going to the Super Bowl,” Bradford said today.

The Eagles did not, in fact, go to the Super Bowl. Or the playoffs. Bradford said people need to understand that the preseason — even the third game of the preseason, when starters usually play the longest — doesn’t mean much.

“But there’s very little game-planning that goes into preseason — I’m sure Green Bay didn’t game plan to stop us last year; they probably hadn’t even practiced our offense,” Bradford said. “Obviously it was nice to go out there and execute the way we did in that third preseason game, but I don’t think anyone in our locker room really bought into the fact that because we looked great in a preseason game, it was going to be easy during the regular season.”

So as the Eagles prepare for tomorrow night’s third preseason game, Bradford knows that an impressive win doesn’t mean they’re heading for the Super Bowl. Everyone else should know that, too.

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Bosa, Chargers need to commit to compromising, now

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Defensive lineman Joey Bosa #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts as he walks off the field after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 44-28 in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s been two days since the Chargers opted to take the gurgling impasse with Joey Bosa public, backing the player and his agents into a corner and making it much harder for a reasonable deal to be finalized. NFL Media, partially owned by the Chargers and entirely owned by franchises that could find themselves in similar situations in the future, seems to be slanting coverage in a subtle (or not-so-subtle) effort to pressure Bosa and, ideally, to drive a wedge between Bosa and his agents, with the goal of having Bosa roll out of bed one day with a decision to take the offer that’s on the table.

Making matters worse is the reality that plenty of current and former players are doing the bidding of The Boss, adding to the pressure on Bosa by suggesting that his reluctance to take the pending offer amounts to a reluctance to play football.

But every argument directed at Bosa (e.g., he’s not haggling over much money at this point) can be directed at the team, and the idea that “Bosa must not want to play for the Chargers” easily can be phrased as “the Chargers must not want Bosa to play for them.”

The divide continues to spring from the team adhering to franchise precedent and Bosa adhering to top-three-in-the-draft precedent. Without much separating the two sides (at least until the Chargers vowed to shrink their offer), each side is sitting back, folding its arms, and saying, “What’s the big deal?”

Here’s what needs to happen. The two sides need to get in a room and commit to negotiating until a deal is done.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because we consistently took the same position about the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick. When two sides who disagree commit to engaging in good-faith negotiations, a spirit of compromise and practicality takes over, and a middle ground is reached.

It happens all the time in civil litigation, where parties that despise each other submit to efforts to settle their claims in good faith with the intent of working out their differences and, despite the animosity, they routinely do. Even with apparent anger between Bosa and the Chargers, a genuine effort to get together and strike a deal will most likely get a deal done.

At this point, one side needs to be big enough to make the call, and the other side needs to be big enough agree to give it a try. Once that happens, the deal will be 95 percent complete.

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Report: Jimmy Garoppolo to start Friday night

New England Patriots quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo, left, and Tom Brady, right, walk on the field following an NFL football training camp practice with the Chicago Bears Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

It will reportedly feel like 2001 all over again in Charlotte on Friday night.

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports that, barring a last-second change or scissor accident, Jimmy Garoppolo will get the start against the Panthers in the Patriots’ third exhibition game of the summer. Tom Brady is also expected to play, so he will be coming off the bench to get his first playing time of the preseason.

It’s been a long time since Brady has been in that role, but the circumstances for the Patriots make it a sensible way to go about their business.

Garoppolo has a chance to start a game on the road against a good defense, just as he will in Week One against the Cardinals, and he gets to prepare for the game as the starter. That’s not insignificant for a player who will be making his first NFL start in that game and coach Bill Belichick has called getting Garoppolo ready the No. 1 priority for the offense.

Brady has plenty of experience on that front and whatever time he sees on Friday will be to get him on the field before he serves his four-game suspension to start the season. One bit of worry could be Brady seeing time alongside backups, but there’s no word on when Brady will be in the game and what kind of playing time the rest of the first team is expected to see against Carolina.

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Teams begin preparing for glut of cut players

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Currently, NFL rosters have up to 90 players. On Tuesday, the maximum drops to 75. Four days later, the limit reduces to 53.

My calculator tells me (assuming I entered the information correctly) that up to 1,184 roster moves will be made over the next eight days. Most of those will come from the termination of contracts or the placement of players on waivers. Teams are preparing for the coming glut of cuts by, for example, contacting agents to find out which of their clients are on the bubble.

It’s a common practice, and as a practical matter it’s happening now. Because very soon plenty of guys will be looking for jobs, and plenty of teams will be looking to upgrade their 53-man rosters by grabbing guys cut by other teams.

Regardless of how it all works out, more than 1,000 guys who currently are playing in the NFL and very much want to do so will soon be told they can’t. Plenty more would currently love to be on a 90-man roster but still can’t get a shot (thank heavens I read this one more time before hitting “publish,” because I had a word other than “shot” in there).

Hopefully, the media will keep this dynamic in mind before making a big deal about a handful of guys who choose to leave football before football chooses to tell them to leave. Far more will be leaving football before they want to.

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Falcons announce five roster cuts

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The Falcons announced five roster cuts Friday as they began the process of trimming their roster to 75 players by next week’s deadline.

Waived by the team were wide receiver David Glidden, defensive end Efe Obada, fullback Will Ratelle, cornerback Jordan Sefon and guard Jordan Walsh. All but Obada were undrafted rookies signed by the Falcons last spring. Obada spent some time with the Cowboys last season.

The moves put the Falcons’ roster at 84 players.

All teams must trim their rosters to 75 by Aug. 30, then to the regular season size of 53 by Sept. 3.

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Jeremy Maclin, Lamarcus Joyner fined $9,115 after ejections

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, left, and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, right, scuffle during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. Both players were ejected. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang) AP

Preseason ejections aren’t the most common thing in the world, but there were a pair of them in last week’s game between the Chiefs and Rams.

Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner were both ejected from the game after getting into a scuffle late in the first half of last weekend’s game in Los Angeles. In another reminder that it is still the preseason, referee Tony Corrente announced Joyner as No. 20 of St. Louis, eliciting a round of boos from the Rams’ new home crowd.

It may have been a practice game, but the league issued real fines in response to the pushing and shoving.

Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that both players have been fined $9,115 for striking an opponent. That fine is this year’s minimum penalty on the fine schedule used by the league while offenses judged to be more serious, like Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed roughing Vikings quarterback Shaun Hill last week, will cost $18,231 or more.

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Andy Reid predicts more kickoff returns “than ever”

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The “most dangerous play” in the game is about to get even more dangerous. And the NFL has 13 days to keep that from happening.

The five-yard change to the touchback rule was supposed to reduce kickoff returns, by enticing the receiving team to take a knee. The opposite outcome is expected, with the kicking team opting to try to pin the opposing team inside the 25.

“I think these special teams coaches are smart guys,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told PFT Live on Friday. “They’re popping the ball up, so we might have more returns than we’ve ever had. It’s crazy. I’m not sure it’s the same thing the league was trying to get, but that’s what we’re getting right now. These kickers are so accurate and they can put it right down there within the five yard line and the goal line and force you into a return and then your coverage teams have got to do their thing. Special teams coaches and coverage teams have the confidence that if the kicker does that then they can keep them within that 25-yard area or actually within that 20-yard area. So I think your probably gonna see more returns than ever.”

PFT previously reported that a change to the rule would happen during the season only under extraordinary circumstances. But if there’s reason to believe that something extraordinary is coming (i.e., more returns than ever), why not change the rule back before Week One of the regular season arrives?

Given the one-year nature of the rule, it will take 24 owners in the offseason to extend the rule beyond 2016. But 24 owners can decide right not to scrap the rule for 2016. Given the very real likelihood that the new rule won’t have the intended effect, why in the world wouldn’t they?

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Report: Concerns raised about Ezekiel Elliott’s pattern of behavior

FILE - This Aug. 19, 2016 file photo shows Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott laughing as he talks with teammates on the sideline in the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins in Arlington, Texas. Elliott appears set for his preseason debut at Seattle after the running back taken fourth overall by the Cowboys missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, file) AP

Like many people on out-of-town visits to states where marijuana is legal, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott decided to check out a pot store while he was in Seattle for last night’s preseason game. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wasn’t happy about that.

But beyond that, the Cowboys organization is apparently concerned about the way Elliott handles himself off the field. Ed Werder of ESPN reported today that there are concerns about “a pattern of disturbing behavior” from Elliott.

Werder didn’t detail what behavior was involved in that pattern, but far more concerning than entering a legal marijuana store is that there’s an investigation in Columbus, Ohio, into an allegation of domestic violence. The Columbus city attorney’s office said a month ago that there’s an “open investigation” into that allegation. There has been no update to that story since.

Frankly, it feels a little ridiculous to even be talking about visiting a legal marijuana store when there’s also an investigation into a domestic violence allegation. The latter is a serious concern, while the former is something that shouldn’t even be the NFL’s business. After Werder’s report aired on ESPN, his colleague, former NFL running back Merril Hoge, said somebody should sit Elliott down and tell him, “Nobody’s ever played with drugs and won.” But that’s silly. Many people who have smoked marijuana have become Hall of Fame football players and had success in other fields, up to and including becoming president of the United States. (And it’s also worth noting that there’s not even any evidence that Elliott actually used marijuana. He may have simply been curious to see how a legal marijuana store operates.)

The domestic violence allegations against Elliott are, indeed, concerning. The marijuana issue is nothing.

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Tom Brady reportedly playing in tonight’s preseason game

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, grasps the hand of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, right, during NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

Barring another unfortunate scissors incident, it appears we’ll see Tom Brady for the first time this preseason when the Patriots play against the Panthers.

Whether he starts, however, remains to be seen.

According to Tom Curran of CSNNE.com, Brady has joined the Patriots in Charlotte with the intention of playing.

Of course, the plan was for Brady to play a week ago, before he cut his thumb with a pair of scissors in pregame. That forced Jimmy Garoppolo to make a quick start, and it’s worth wondering whether Bill Belichick sat Brady on purpose just to see how Garoppolo would react.

Belichick has also maintained that having Garoppolo prepared for starting the first four games of the regular season was his priority, so it will be interesting to see how much Brady actually plays tonight.

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Rueben Randle feels he still has plenty to prove

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:   Rueben Randle #82 of the New York Giants catches a pass in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles knew wide receiver Rueben Randle well from his time with the Giants, and the team should know Randle much better now that he’s gone through spring and training camp trying to earn a starting role after signing with the Eagles in free agency.

But Randle still feels like he’s not only proving himself as a player. He believes there were knocks on his consistency and work ethic that may have scared away some potential free agent suitors.

“I feel like I get read wrong because I do a lot of things naturally and it doesn’t seem like I’m giving much effort,” Randle said, per ESPN. “If I go out there and make a one-handed catch and make it look effortless, I get praised for it, but if I do all these other things effortlessly, it’s like I’m not giving much effort.

“It’s just kind of one of those things, you just have to go out there and just make some plays and see how it goes from there.”

The Eagles would like Randle to make a bunch of plays. Jordan Matthews, who led the team in every receiving category last season, has been out for the last three weeks and Randle is in a crowded group of wide receivers trying to make an impression. Randle, who caught eight touchdown passes last season for the Giants, has three preseason catches in two brief appearances.

Though Randle’s focus has been on getting up to speed with a new offense and earning a role in the starting lineup, he’s also playing for the future. He’s just 25 and is on a one-year contract, so he could be back on the free agent market next spring — or play his way into the Eagles’ long-term plans.

The Eagles expect Matthews back for the season opener, and in the meantime Randle and the other receivers are trying to stand out.

“If I didn’t [feel confident], I shouldn’t be here,” Randle said. “We all should feel confident in where we are. We just have to go out and prove ourselves.”

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Tyrann Mathieu, Robert Nkemdiche expected to play Sunday

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 09:  Tyrann Mathieu attends the premiere of "All or Nothing" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for Amazon) Getty Images

The Cardinals will have some different faces on the defensive side of the ball in their third preseason game than they had in their first two outings.

During a Friday press conference, coach Bruce Arians said that safety Tyrann Mathieu will play for the first time since tearing his ACL last December. Mathieu said this week that he “wouldn’t say I’m ready to play a full game” and he won’t be out there for anything close to that as Arians said the plan is for Mathieu to play 10 snaps at the most.

That’s also true of defensive lineman Frostee Rucker and cornerback Justin Bethel, who were also on the physically unable to perform list for most of camp.

Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is slated to play a bigger role. The first-round pick missed weeks with an ankle injury, but has been practicing and Arians said he’ll see a lot of playing time against the Texans this weekend.

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Stevan Ridley visiting Colts on Friday

FILE - In this June 14, 2016, file photo, Detroit Lions running back Stevan Ridley runs during NFL football practice in Allen Park, Mich. The Lions have cut Ridley. They made the move Thursday, Aug. 25, before practice. Detroit signed Ridley in April, hoping he would bolster its depth in the backfield after the release of Joique Bell. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) AP

It didn’t take long for running back Stevan Ridley to start lining up job interviews after being released by the Lions on Thursday.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reports that Ridley is in Indianapolis for a visit with the Colts on Friday.

The Colts have Frank Gore in the starting lineup and have been looking for a No. 2 back to separate from the pack this offseason. There was some early buzz about undrafted rookie Josh Ferguson, but he’s run for nine yards on 13 carries through two preseason games. Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman are more experienced options already on the roster.

Ridley couldn’t rise above the third team with the Lions this summer and ran for 90 yards on 36 carries for the Jets after returning from a torn ACL last year, so he may not represent a clear upgrade over the players already on hand.

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Peyton Manning to appear on Comedy Central roast of Rob Lowe

KNOXVILLE, TN - JULY 14: Former NFL and University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning speaks during a ceremony to celebrate the life of former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, on July 14, 2016 at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.. Summitt died June 28 at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. (Photo by Mark Humphrey - Pool/Getty Images) Getty Images

Of all the networks on which Peyton Manning could have appeared this fall, Comedy Central would have been low on the list of options.

But that’s what Manning will soon be doing. Via TheBigLead.com, the retired Colts and Broncos quarterback will participate in the roast of Rob Lowe. The show will be taped on Saturday night in L.A., and it will premiere on Labor Day, September 5.

Four years ago, Lowe “reported” that Manning would be returning, a scoop fueled by wishful thinking that surely was fed to Lowe by Colts owner Jim Irsay.

It’s an odd and eclectic group of comedians and non-comedians, with Ralph Macchio, Ann Coulter, and Jewel among those who will appear. As each attendee takes a turn at the podium, every participant becomes the target of barbs, some of which can be a little (or a lot) raunchy. Which means that, in addition to dishing it out, Manning will be taking it, too.

Manning will surely be good when it comes to dishing it out. He has shown that he possesses great comedic timing, and he’ll obsess over every joke to ensure each one is funny.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with taking it — and how aggressively the others will give it to him.

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Report: Tyler Eifert hoping for Week Four return

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 09:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball in the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert started jogging recently for the first time since having ankle surgery in May, which marks one of the first steps toward a return to the field this season.

The gap between jogging and the responsibilities of an NFL tight end leave several more steps for Eifert to take in that journey without much time to take them before the start of the regular season. It makes sense, then, that Week One doesn’t appear to be Eifert’s targeted return date.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Eifert is hopeful that he can play for the first time in Week Four of the regular season when the Bengals host the Dolphins on a Thursday night. He adds that Eifert could “push it” to return the previous week, although it will probably be a couple of weeks before Eifert and the Bengals will know if that’s a realistic possibility.

Should it look like Eifert will need more time before the cut to 53 players, a stay on the regular season version of the PUP list could be in the cards. He’d be ineligible to play for the first six weeks, but the Bengals would have a roster spot available for a player able to contribute right away.

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Andy Reid: Alex Smith “gets it,” and his arm is strong enough to win a championship

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks to pass in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Andy Reid became the head coach in Kansas City, the first order of business was to find a quarterback. Coincidentally, the 49ers were looking to lose a quarterback.

Win. Win.

As Reid and Alex Smith start their fourth season together with the Chiefs, Reid addressed the question of why Smith doesn’t get more credit beyond the organization for his skills and abilities.

“I think it’s how you start, you know?” Reid said on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN. “Your first impression’s the one that kind of hangs with you for a while. So here he was, a kid that comes in as a first pick and then goes through seven or eight different coordinators and different offenses and different head coaches. Finally, he gets Jim [Harbaugh] in there and he settled down and played pretty good football then he got hurt but he was always trying to overcome those early years. Every year he was learning a new system. That’s tough on a quarterback now, I’ll tell you. So he’s been with us now for four years. He’s in a groove and been playing good football for us and, heck, he can still get better. That’s the great thing about football. We can all get better as the years go on, coaches and players. That’s a great thing.”

So what’s the best thing Smith does?

“He’s highly intelligent and he just gets it,” Reid said. “I’m not telling you he’s got the strongest arm in the league, but he’s got plenty strong enough to win a championship with and he knows how to use it. I’ve got full trust in the guy, he’s been a real pleasure to coach.”

49ers coach Chip Kelly may be wishing that he were coaching Smith right now, which may have happened if the team hadn’t picked Colin Kaepernick over Smith. Some (like PFT Live producer and ardent 49ers fan Rob “Stats” Guerrera) think the 49ers kept the right guy. The rest of the reasonably-minded world knows otherwise.

Then again, I’ve never accused Stats of being reasonably minded.

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