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Sam Bradford drives the Rams to a comeback victory in Buffalo

St Louis Rams v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Sam Bradford struggled through much of the game in Buffalo on Sunday. But when it mattered most, the Rams’ offense found a way to get the job done.

St. Louis marched down the field on a 14-play, 84-yard drive that culminated with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Bradford to Brandon Gibson with less than a minute to play, and the Rams beat the Bills 15-12. The Rams were added by the Bills dropping several Bradford passes that could have been intercepted — it was that kind of sloppy game for Buffalo.

In addition to losing the game, the Bills lost running back Fred Jackson, who was carted off late in the game with a right leg injury. Although there was no official word on Jackson’s status, it didn’t look good.

And in general, this game didn’t look good. Neither of these teams is heading toward the playoffs, but at least the Rams are continuing to play hard for 60 minutes, every Sunday. That paid off on this Sunday in Buffalo.

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No holes in Vikings schedule, despite presence of Gophers

Minnesota v Indiana Getty Images

Making an NFL schedule is complicated enough, but with the Vikings in someone else’s building, it added a layer to the proceedings.

According to Master Tesfatsion of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the league had to work around a number of requests from the University of Minnesota while the Vikings are using TCF Bank Stadium.

The agreement between the Vikings and the school said that the Vikings could only have one weeknight game when class was in session (which they avoided by playing their Thursday night game on the road).

They also have to work preseason games around move-in week in August, and finals in December. The Vikings play at Detroit while Minnesota students are studying for finals.

The Vikings and Gophers will only have one shared weekend of home games, when the University plays Northwestern on Oct. 11 and the Vikings host the Lions the next day.  (So much purple in Minneapolis that weekend, even Prince will be confused.)

Perhaps most importantly, they were able to avoid conflicts with the Minnesota State Fair (Aug. 21-Sept. 1).

For the sake of the enthusiasts of walleye-on-a-stick and rhubarb pie contests, we can all breathe a sigh of relief for that.

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Report: Bucs would seriously consider Manziel at No. 7

Manziel Getty Images

Since the draft should be today but won’t be today because the NFL moved it to two weeks from today, we’ll spend today and the next 13 tomorrows wondering what will happen when draft day finally is today.

The guy about which everyone wonders the most is quarterback Johnny Manziel.  Though some continue to insist Manziel won’t be taken in round one, we’d be shocked if he’s on the board when Thursday night ends.

We won’t be shocked if Manziel hears his name called in the top 10.  The latest team to join the list of potential top-10 teams that could take Manziel is the Buccaneers.

Ed Werder of ESPN reports that the Buccaneers would “seriously consider” taking Manziel, if he’s on the board at No. 7.  The Bucs see Manziel as being “very unique,” having a “good arm and accuracy,” and generally being a “great athlete.”

That all may be true, but we can’t help but “seriously consider” whether the Bucs would like to see someone cut the line in front of the Buccaneers and take Manziel, pushing down the board a player the Bucs actually prefer.  There’s otherwise no reason to let it be known that the Bucs would take Manziel.

But since we’ve got two more weeks to go, get ready for more smokescreens and obfuscations (hey, watch your mouth) before the time comes to pick the players.

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Paul McCartney to perform at final concert at Candlestick Park

Paul McCartney AP

The headliner at Candlestick’s Park final concert is a legendary musical performer who has some experience playing at the soon-to-be closed stadium.

Via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, Paul McCartney will play the closing show at Candlestick Park on Thursday, August 14, a website dedicated to the artist’s work announced Thursday.

The show, according to PaulMcCartney.com, has been tabbed “Farewell to Candlestick: The Final Concert.”

PaulMcCartney.com bills itself as the “Official Website” of the 72-year-old performer.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle had reported that the 49ers had wanted McCartney to perform the first show at Levi’s Stadium.

According to McCartney’s website, The Beatles’ final concert was at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.

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Spurrier thinks the Texans “have to” take Clowney

Steve Spurrier AP

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says the Houston Texans have only one option with the first overall pick in the NFL draft: Select former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

“Yeah, I think you have to,” Spurrier said when asked by Dan Patrick if the Texans should take Clowney.

Spurrier said if there was a franchise quarterback like Andrew Luck in this draft, it might be a different story. But Spurrier doesn’t believe any of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft is that kind of elite talent, and as a result he says CLowney is the clear choice.

“He’s a really good football player, and obviously pass rushing is what he does best,” Spurrier said. “He’s a pass rusher like nobody I think I’ve ever seen in college football.”

Spurrier has been candid about Clowney not always having the best work ethic, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no question about who the most talented player in this draft is. That’s Clowney.

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Report: Patriots sign Josh Hull

970e5d8a1342b9813e117b6a9541927f-1 AP

Linebacker Josh Hull was released by the Redskins earlier this month, but it looks like he’s landed a new job.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the Patriots have signed Hull to a one-year deal.

No financial terms were disclosed, but it is unlikely that Hull got more than the minimum salary for a player with four years in the league. Hull had 14 tackles in 11 games for the Redskins last year in a special teams role. The 2010 seventh-round pick also played 28 games for the Rams before they cut him at the end of the summer.

His work in St. Louis was mostly on special teams as well, so you’d expect that New England will be asking him to compete for a role on those units in 2014.

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More physicals in Indy for some top prospects

Scott Crichton AP

It seems like the Scouting Combine was forever ago, but some prospects are heading back to Indianapolis for one of the final steps in the pre-draft process.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton is among a group of players going back to Indy for a medical re-check.

Players are given vigorous and thorough examinations at the Combine, and teams view those checks as the main benefit of the event. Any players with red flags then are brought back in for a re-check later.

Crichton had a stinger, which was the reason he has to head back, but said he had no serious neck issues.

Assuming the physical confirms that, Crichton could be a second-round selection.

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PFT Live: Draft preview with Corey Chavous, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Sammy Watkins AP

The NFL Draft kicks off two weeks from tonight and we’ll be looking ahead to it on Thursday’s PFT Live.

Former NFL defensive back Corey Chavous of DraftNasty.com will join Mike Florio to break down the latest about what he’s hearing about how things will play out over three days next month. They’ll take a look at players who could go earlier and later than expected, profile some lesser known prospects and more when Chavous drops by the show.

The NFL schedule was released on Wednesday night and we’d like to hear what PFT Planet thinks about it, the draft and everything else in the NFL. Florio will be responding to those thoughts during the show, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 to share what’s on your mind. 

Whether you have a question or not, it all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Sherman changes his tune about Crabtree rant

Sherman AP

In the aftermath of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s on-field tirade against 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree after the NFC title game, Sherman vowed to stop belittling other players.

Now, Sherman is singing a different tune.

In January, in an item that he wrote for TheMMQB.com, Sherman suggested that he’d be turning a new leaf when it comes to verbally tearing opponents a new orifice.

“No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is,” Sherman wrote at the time.  “That’s not mine.  It belongs to Irvin Himmel.  Somebody tweeted it at me after the NFC Championship Game.  If I could pass a lesson on to the kids it would be this:  Don’t attack anybody.  I shouldn’t have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did.  You don’t have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.”

On Wednesday, Sherman expressed no remorse for his verbal assault on Crabtree.

I don’t regret anything,” Sherman said during a panel discussion at Harvard Business School, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.  “People said I had no class.  What is class in sports?  What exactly is it?  Do I say great game and go cookie cutter?  No.  I don’t think he played a great game. . . .  If it was Larry [Fitzgerald], and the same situation happened, I wouldn’t have said a thing.  Because I respect Larry.”

So which is it, Richard?  Have you learned not to put someone else down?  Or would you — and will you — do it again, to Crabtree and others whom you deem to be unworthy of your respect?

Often inappropriately, Sherman has been called many things in recent months.  One thing he can’t currently be called is consistent.

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Bernie Kosar: Concussions cost me a broadcasting job

Bernie Kosar, Rick Sponaugle AP

Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar says concussions suffered during his NFL career have caused him to develop a speech problem, which in turn led to his dismissal as the color commentator for Browns preseason games.

“I was informed yesterday by the Cleveland Browns and WKYC that I have been replaced as a 2014 preseason game day color commentator,” Kosar said in a statement, via Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I believe that this decision stems from my slurred speech impairment, which is a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL.”

Kosar’s slurred speech was noticeable when he was hired for the job, however, which raises the question of why he would get fired for it now if the Browns and WKYC didn’t have any problem with his speech at the time they hired him. It seems much more likely that Kosar’s unprofessional comments during a preseason game last year, and the DUI Kosar got a month later, caused the Browns and WKYC to conclude that he’s not someone they want representing them.

But Kosar believes he’s the right person for the job.

“I would hope that WKYC would reconsider utilizing my in-game talents and overlook my concussion-induced impairment,” Kosar said.

That’s probably not going to happen. But Kosar’s comments will, if nothing else, cause the lawyers for the Browns and the NFL to take notice: At a time when concussion litigation is a major concern in pro football, this is a prominent former player claiming that concussions are costing him the opportunity to make a living now that his playing days are over.

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Phil Taylor would like the Browns to pick up his 2015 option

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Getty Images

Several players picked in the first round of the 2011 draft have already found out whether or not their teams will be exercising options for the fifth year of their contracts by May 3, but others are still waiting to see what will happen.

Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor is in the latter group and he knows what he wants the Browns to do. Taylor would like to have his option, which would set him up to make about $5.5 million, exercised so that he can remain in Cleveland.

“I would love to be here, but that’s not up to me,” Taylor said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “So we’re going to wait and see what [the front office] is going to do about it.”

Taylor started 15 games last season, but only played 555 snaps as a two-down player used to thwart opposing running games. The switch to Mike Pettine as head coach will bring a different defensive look and could bring Taylor more playing time, but, obviously, Cleveland has to make a call on Taylor before they see how he fits into the new scheme. That option is guaranteed against injury only, which gives the Browns some flexibility but they may prefer the freedom to hold off on any call until the season has played out.

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Steve Slaton joins the Toronto Argonauts

Charles Clay, Steve Slaton, Jamaal Westerman, Shelly Lyons AP

The CFL has popped up on our radar a few times in recent weeks.

Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco is trying to keep his professional football career going in Montreal and he may be catching passes from former Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, who is trying to get his own pro career going after being ignored by the NFL last year. The Alouettes aren’t the only team adding familiar names to their roster, though.

The Edmonton Eskimos signed former West Virginia and Dolphins quarterback Pat White last month and now one of his former college teammates has also decided to try his luck in the land of poutine and Labatt’s.

The Toronto Argonauts have announced the signing of former Texans and Dolphins running back Steve Slaton. Slaton’s career started with a bang — 1,282 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns as a rookie for the Texans in 2008, but lost his starting job the next year and it has been a while since we’ve seen Slaton on the field. He was let go by the Dolphins before the start of the 2012 season and wasn’t part of a team in 2013 either, leaving the 28-year-old with few options that didn’t include using his passport.

Slaton joins former Falcon Jerious Norwood in the backfield for the Argonauts.

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Colts get the bye-week short straw this year

Luck Getty Images

One of the many areas for potential pissing and moaning about the perceived unfairness of the schedule comes from the bye weeks.  Specifically, from the teams that have to play multiple other teams who had two weeks to prepare for the game.

This year, the bye week short straw goes to the Colts, who face three different teams after those teams had bye weeks.

Specifically, the Colts face the Giants after their Week Eight bye, the Patriots after their Week 10 bye, and the Jaguars after their Week 11 bye.  The good news/bad news for the Colts is that they also have a Week 10 bye, which means that the Pats won’t have an advantage when it comes to preparation.  Of course, this means that the Colts won’t get two weeks to prepare for a team that has only one week to get ready to face the Colts.

The Colts have a fourth situation in which an opponent has extra time to get ready.  Ten days before their Week 17 game at Tennessee, the Titans play on a Thursday night.

Other teams with multiple post-bye opponents include the Patriots (Bengals and Colts), the Chargers (Chiefs and Raiders in consecutive weeks), the Packers (Dolphins and Bears), the Bears (Packers and Vikings in consecutive weeks), the Vikings (Panthers and Buccaneers), the Buccaneers (Redskins and Falcons), the Saints (Ravens and Steelers), and the Cardinals (Broncos and Eagles).

With eight teams facing two teams each after byes and the Colts facing three, that leaves 10 teams who’ll play the full season without facing a team that had two weeks to get ready.  They are the Jets, Bengals, Steelers, Jaguars, Texans, Cowboys, Falcons, Panthers, Seahawks, and 49ers.

Yes, the Seahawks and the 49ers, regarded by many as the best two teams in the NFL, won’t have to face a team that had a week to prepare until, at the earliest, the divisional round of the playoffs.  If/when (when) they both make it that far.

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Lions bring in Jason Hanson as a kicking consultant

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Getty Images

After 21 seasons as the Lions’ kicker, Jason Hanson retired in 2013. Now he’s back. Sort of.

The 43-year-old Hanson would probably be a better option than either of the two kickers currently under contract to the Lions, John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio. But when the Lions brought Hanson to their minicamp this week, it wasn’t to lure him out of retirement. It was because special teams coordinator John Bonamego wanted to get Hanson’s perspective on how the Lions’ two young kickers looked.

He just wanted another set of eyes for the guys they want to kick,” Hanson told the Lions’ website. “He wanted my opinion – somebody else to give feedback to him. They have a short time to look at the guys, to see if they feel they have the guys they want or if they want to look at other people. . . . I appreciate that he wants another set of eyes. While I’m out there, they’re asking me stuff. I’m glad to help them any way I can.”

Hanson added, however, that there’s only so much you can tell from watching a kicker at a minicamp. After all, there are lots of guys who can boot 50-plus-yard field goals in practice. The key is finding a kicker who can do it consistently, when a game is on the line.

“Here’s the problem: everybody’s good,” Hanson said. “If you brought them in, they’re good.”

Unfortunately for the Lions, it’s unlikely they’ll find any kicker as good as Hanson, one of the best in NFL history.

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Sean Weatherspoon still recovering from late-season knee injury

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Vick spins away from Atlanta Falcons defender Weatherspoon during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Philadelphia Reuters

The Falcons’ dismal 2013 season was marked by injuries to several of their key players, including linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon missed seven games with a foot injury that put him on injured reserve for half the season and then he missed the final two weeks of the season after hurting his right knee. Weatherspoon didn’t need surgery, but he had platelet rich plasma therapy and said that the team is easing him back into the mix because he hasn’t fully recovered from the knee injury at this point.

“I’m feeling good. It’s been a process,” Weatherspoon said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “The season was rough. I’ve been feeling pretty good, though. I’ve been working with the training staff non-stop, about four or five days a week. Just been getting after it, doing whatever I can do to get my body feeling good so I can, you know, get back to where I’m feeling where I’m at my top [form]. … I feel, I would say, probably 80 percent. I’m working hard and just looking forward to getting back to 100 [percent].”

The Falcons are taking a similarly restrained approach with wide receiver Julio Jones‘ return from last year’s foot injury and getting both players back to full speed in time for next season will be vital to their chances of bouncing back into the playoff mix.

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We roll on with the draft previews with a look at the Bucs

Lovie Smith AP

There are overhauls, and then there’s what the Buccaneers did to the roster this offseason.

The Bucs hired a new General Manager (Jason Licht) and a new coach (Lovie Smith), dumped their most expensive player (Darrelle Revis) and a talented-but-troubled wide receiver (Mike Williams).

They also brought in free agents in droves, giving the team a new look to go with their new uniforms.

With Josh McCown in place at quarterback, the Bucs might use their top pick to fill other needs, but franchise passers are hard to pass, if they think this class contains one.

They do have sufficient needs that trusting McCown for a year might be the prudent call. You can read the full preview by clicking right here, and tell us in the poll below which direction they should lean.

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