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PFT’s Week 15 picks

Peterson AP

Three weeks remain, and I’ve gradually built the lead back to four games.

But MDS has a chance to trim the gap down to one, if he’s right and I’m wrong on the three games on which we disagree.

And yes, Raiders fans, after four weeks of picking your team to lose, getting the exact score of two games right, missing a third exacta by one point, and correctly predicting the Raiders’ point total in all four games, MDS is picking your team to win this week.

Our picks on all Week 15 games appear below.  (Then again, where the hell else would they be?)

For last week, I eked out the win, 11-5 to 10-6.  For the year, I’m 134-73-1, a 64.4 percent accuracy rate.  MDS is 130-77-1, which keeps him at 62.5 percent.

Bengals at Eagles

MDS’s take: I’d been saying for weeks that the Eagles have given up on the season and wouldn’t win another game this year, and they proved me wrong with a spirited effort on Sunday, beating a Buccaneers team with playoff aspirations. So can they do that twice in a row? I don’t see it. Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins will lead a defense that will make life miserable for Nick Foles.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Eagles have now won more recently than the Phillies.  At least that can’t change until April.  Between now and then, the Eagles will change, plenty.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 24, Eagles 17.

Giants at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons are still the favorites to earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but I think the Giants are the better team. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Giants win in Atlanta in December and then do it again in January.

MDS’s pick: Giants 30, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take:  The Falcons need a win to prove they can win in the playoffs.  The Giants need a win to help ensure they’ll get to the playoffs.  This one feels like the NFC version of Texans-Patriots.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 31, Falcons 21.

Broncos at Ravens

MDS’s take: Baltimore’s decision to fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron strikes me as a desperation move. The Ravens know they’re not as good as the three elite teams in the AFC, and the Broncos are going to demonstrate that on Sunday in Baltimore.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens don’t match up well against Peyton Manning.  They never have.  Throw in a flat-tire offense that the Ravens are trying to change while the car is moving, and the late-season slide continues.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 28, Ravens 20.

Packers at Bears

MDS’s take: The Packers can clinch the NFC North with a win, and I think they’ll do just that. Lovie Smith has said from his first day as the Bears’ coach that his No. 1 goal is to beat Green Bay, and Smith’s seat will get even hotter when he fails to do that on Sunday at Soldier Field.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Bears 13.

Florio’s take:  If Jay Cutler doesn’t play, who’ll shove J’Marcus Webb when this one starts to go south?

Florio’s pick:  Packers 24, Bears 13.

Redskins at Browns

MDS’s take: The Redskins have been red hot lately, but the Browns are better than people give them credit for. Whether it’s Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins, the Redskins’ quarterback is going to have a tough time against Cleveland’s defense, and I like the Browns to win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Browns 13, Redskins 10.

Florio’s take:  With or without RG3, the Redskins have found their groove and they’ll continue to push for the playoffs.  Still, this one could be the toughest challenge yet, notwithstanding wins over the Ravens, Giants, and Cowboys.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 24, Browns 21.

Colts at Texans

MDS’s take: The Texans don’t have much time to lick their wounds after the epic beating they took in New England, but Houston is a more complete team than Indianapolis and should put the Colts away and clinch the AFC South.

MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Colts 17.

Florio’s take:  The Texans may have never won in Indy, but they’ve finally figured out how to beat Indy in Texas.  Besides, the Texans need the win to stay ahead of the Pats for the top seed — and the Colts for the division crown.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 28, Colts 17.

Jaguars at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is particularly good, but the Dolphins at least look like they’re going in the right direction, while the Jaguars look like they need to be torn apart and rebuilt from the ground up.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jaguars 7.

Florio’s take:  The Jags’ travel expenses will be low.  Their offensive output will be even lower.  And no one will notice.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 20, Jaguars 10.

Buccaneers at Saints

MDS’s take: Drew Brees will turn in a big game against a depleted Buccaneers secondary, and the Saints will put together a solid win, too late for it to matter in the playoff race.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 21.

Florio’s take:  Not long ago, both of these teams had a real shot at the postseason.  Now?  Not.  Though the Bucs have held their own in the Bayou in recent years, the Saints will be buoyed by their bounty victory.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Buccaneers 23.

Vikings at Rams

MDS’s take: Raise your hand if you actually predicted before the season that this Week 15 game would have playoff implications for both teams. I’m betting on both of these teams falling just short, but I’m impressed that Jeff Fisher and Leslie Frazier have their teams playing well into December. I see the Rams’ defense forcing Christian Ponder into three interceptions and the Rams ending the Vikings’ playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Rams 21, Vikings 16.

Florio’s take:  I broke from my vow to never pick the Vikings again this year after their Week 11 bye, and it turned out to be a smart move.  For a change.  So why not do it again?  The young Rams remain inconsistent, and they’re due to lay an egg like the one they popped out against the Jets last month.  Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson is making a run at history.  What better way to take a big chunk out of the gap between A.P. and E.D. (that nickname isn’t as cool as it used to be) than to do it against the team with which he set the record?

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 20, Rams 13.

Lions at Cardinals

MDS’s take: Neither team is playing particularly well, but at least the Lions are playing competitively. The Cardinals aren’t doing anything right.

MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Cardinals 6.

Florio’s take:  Something’s gotta give when a pair of crappy teams get together in Arizona.  The Lions are the lesser of two evils, thanks to the fact that they have the better of the two starting quarterbacks.  By far.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 31, Cardinals 17.

Seahawks at Bills

MDS’s take: Seattle catches a break here, as a bad road team is going not to Buffalo but to Toronto, where the pro-Bills crowd won’t be quite as raucous. The Seahawks strike me as a team peaking at the right time, and they’ll beat Buffalo handily.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Bills 17.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks are getting better on the road.  Especially when the road is more like the semi-neutral site that is Toronto.  The push continues for a playoff berth — and possibly the NFC West crown.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 33, Bills 20.

Panthers at Chargers

MDS’s take: Give credit to both of these teams: Late in a tough season, when it would be easy to mail it in, they’re both playing hard. So this should be a pretty good game, something you can’t often say about a December game when both teams have losing records. A big game from Philip Rivers will win it for the Chargers.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 31, Panthers 28.

Florio’s take:  Ron Rivera returns to San Diego, with inside information about the Chargers’ offense and a quarterback who seems to be finding his stride, again.  Sunday’s upset by San Diego over the Steelers was an aberration; the Panthers’ unexpected win over Atlanta wasn’t.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Chargers 20.

Steelers at Cowboys

MDS’s take: This might be the best game on a great NFL Sunday because both teams are desperate. Then again, the Steelers were desperate last week, too, and they laid an egg. Pittsburgh looks like it’s fading down the stretch.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 20, Steelers 13.

Florio’s take:  It’s a rematch of three prior Super Bowls, and each team’s ability to pursue another Super Bowl appearance rides on the outcome.  It’s hard to overlook that ugly home loss by the Steelers — and it’s even harder to ignore the sense that the Cowboys are finding a way to pull together after Saturday’s tragedy.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Steelers 17.

Chiefs at Raiders

MDS’s take: This might be the worst game on a great NFL Sunday because both teams have nothing to play for other than possibly getting the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. I like the Raiders to win and the Chiefs to take another step toward the top pick.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 21, Chiefs 13.

Florio’s take:  It’s the latest renewal of a once-great rivalry, and it continues to disintegrate.  If the Raiders can win at Arrowhead, they can hold serve at home.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 17, Chiefs 7.

49ers at Patriots

MDS’s take: In a potential Super Bowl preview on Sunday night, I think the Patriots will show they’re playing at another level from the rest of the league. Tom Brady will have a big game against a good 49ers defense, and Bill Belichick will have something up his sleeve for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  Another prime-time home game against a playoff-caliber team, another big win for a Patriots team that is poised to make another assault on a championship.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, 49ers 24.

Jets at Titans

MDS’s take: I don’t think the Jets are particularly good, but none of the teams they’re playing in December are particularly good, either. So I like the Jets to win this one, and probably win out to earn a surprising 9-7 record and even an outside shot at an AFC wild card berth.

MDS’s pick: Jets 14, Titans 10.

Florio’s take:  The Jets keep moving toward an unlikely playoff berth.  The Titans keep moving toward an inevitable house cleaning.  Mittens off for Bud Adams!

Florio’s pick:  Jets 14, Titans 10.

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PFT, NBC extend deal into 2023

NBC

July 1 will mark the seventh anniversary of the PFT-NBC partnership, which launched on that day back in 2009. So why not sign up for another seven years?

PFT can confirm with a high degree of confidence (in lieu of saying “that’s news to me“) the report from Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Journal that a long-term extension has been executed between NBC and PFT. Strengthening our confidence in this report is the fact that NBC separately has announced the deal.

According to a source with knowledge of the agreement (i.e., me), the digital deal runs through the 2022 NFL season and into 2023. The new agreement relates only to the digital relationship between NBC and PFT, pursuant to which PFT licenses all content directly and exclusively to NBC.

NBC has been a great partner, fueled by strong relationships with multiple NBC Sports employees in digital, TV, and radio. Hopefully, the first seven years and second seven years will be followed by another seven years and more, with PFT and NBC doing business until I croak with my crocs on, and beyond.

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Broncos wideout Cody Latimer calls cops on girlfriend, bails her out

Cody Latimer AP

Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer called the cops on his girlfriend, and ended up in trouble himself.

According to Mike Klis and Jeremy Jojola of KUSA, Latimer was arrested for failing to appear in court to pay an old traffic ticket, leading to him paying $311.50 to settle that charge.

But that was the ordinary part of the day. According to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Latimer called the cops at 2:40 a.m. Monday , saying his girlfriend “put her hands on him.”

His girlfriend, 25-year-old Jaimee Rando, was arrested for assault and disturbing the peace. But Latimer posted her bail on Tuesday afternoon.

He wasn’t at Broncos practice Tuesday, with coach Gary Kubiak saying it was for personal reasons. Latimer has been a disappointment on the field, as the former second-rounder has just eight catches in two seasons.

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Falcons trying Tevin Coleman as a kick returner

Tevin Coleman AP

The Falcons are giving running back Tevin Coleman a look as a kickoff return man during their organized team activity (OTA) practices.

With Devin Hester at 33 and recovering from offseason surgeries, giving Coleman at least a look in the return game is a spring experiment that could end up being a long-term fit.

“With that speed and making one cut is very similar to playing running back,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters about Coleman. “If he can add another value to the team, that’s certainly something that we’ll look at.”

A third-round pick in 2015, Coleman played in 12 games as a rookie and posted two big games but took a back seat to Devonta Freeman’s career year. Coleman carried 87 times for 392 yards and a touchdown.

Coleman returned 30 kickoffs during his college career at Indiana and took one back for a touchdown.

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Lions add rookie TE after placing Wright on IR

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Lions addressed a shortage at tight end by signing Ben McCord on Tuesday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported.

McCord went undrafted last month. He was a four-year contributor at Central Michigan who caught five touchdown passes as a senior.

The Lions lost Tim Wright to a torn ACL last week. Wright was waived-injured by the Lions, and after clearing waivers he was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list Tuesday.

With Eric Ebron sitting out due to an undisclosed injury last week, the Lions were shorthanded for practice after Wright’s injury. McCord will get a chance to make an impression, and the team will likely keep an eye on the waiver wire through the summer as it looks to improve depth at the position.

The Lions waived tight end Casey Pierce earlier this month after he spent last season on the team’s practice squad. Veteran Matthew Mulligan signed with the Lions in April.

McCord joins Adam Fuehne and Cole Wick as rookie tight ends trying to stick with the Lions.

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Kaepernick has perfect spring attendance, in line to collect bonus

Colin Kaepernick AP

Despite not being cleared for football activities, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has “taken an active role” in the team’s offseason workout program, Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported Tuesday.

Kaepernick has financial interest in doing so. Maiocco reported that Kaepernick is in line to collect a $400,000 bonus for participating in at least 90 percent of the team’s offseason program, which concludes next week with a mandatory minicamp.

The report said Kaepernick has attended every session of the program since it opened on April 4. He had surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder in November, then had surgeries on his left thumb and right knee after the season, so his participation has been limited.

The team expects Kaepernick to be cleared for full participation in time for training camp. The report said Kaepernick has done footwork drills and taken mental reps during the team’s OTA practice sessions.

New 49ers coach Chip Kelly has said he’s in “no hurry” to pick either Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert as his starting quarterback. The 49ers allowed Kapernick to talk with Broncos top executive John Elway earlier in the offseason about a potential trade, but the sides did not agree on a deal.

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Broncos QBs sharing first-team reps

STANFORD, CA - FEBRUARY 04:  Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Denver Broncos  stands on the field during practice at Stanford Stadium on February 4, 2016 in Stanford, California. The Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos are in their second week of on-field practice work, and the starting quarterback’s job remains open.

It’s so open that Broncos coach Gary Kubiak told reporters Tuesday that he’s splitting reps evenly among Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and rookie first-rounder Paxton Lynch. As for any kind of depth chart/pecking order, Kubiak said that will come later.

Per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, Sanchez started with the first team in Tuesday’s practice but later took reps with the third unit. Siemian and Lynch also got first-team reps.

Sharing the reps is an interesting approach, but Kubiak clearly believes it’s the right one. Sanchez is the only competitor with real NFL experience, and though his draft position says Lynch’s time will come sooner than later, the Broncos are trying to repeat as Super Bowl champs and won’t rush him. Through the early practices, Siemian has played well enough to create some buzz.

It’s only May, but this figures to remain one of the most interesting — and apparently open — position battles in the NFL through the summer until a starter emerges, or until Kubiak has to pick one.

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Cowboys sign fourth-rounders, including Dak Prescott

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 14:  Dak Prescott #15 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs looks to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Davis Wade Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Starkville, Mississippi.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys haven’t drafted many quarterbacks lately, and the one they took this year now has a contract.

Per the league’s official transaction wire, the Cowboys have signed fourth-round defensive end Charles Tapper and quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott, the 135th overall pick, was the first quarterback they’ve taken since using another fourth-rounder on Stephen McGee in 2009.

He was the consolation prize when they were unable to move back into the late first round to take Paxton Lynch, and an interesting prospect in his own right. He ought to have time to develop, as starter Tony Romo said he wants to play another four or five years.

As with other teams, they’re now down to just one unsigned pick, third-round defensive tackle Maliek Collins.

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J.J. Watt thinks he’ll be practicing soon

J.J. Watt AP

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt isn’t practicing with the team right now as he continues to recover from offseason groin surgery required to repair core muscle injuries he suffered during the course of the 2015 season.

The Texans obviously want to be sure Watt is 100 percent for the start of this season, so he’s been working out on the side while his teammates go through practices during OTAs. Watt said Tuesday that he expects his participation level will rise in the near future.

“I feel really good,” Watt said, via the Houston Chronicle. “As soon as I’m allowed, I’ll be out there. You guys know me well enough now to know that it’s not up to me. I think it will be soon.”

The Texans have two more OTAs this week, four over the next two weeks and then a three-day mandatory minicamp that ends on June 16. Watt should be doing more by the time that schedule wraps up, but may not be full go until training camp. That should work out just fine for the Texans defense as long as it ensures a healthy Watt come September.

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Report: Toxicology shows Will Smith was legally drunk

570a1c8ce3c36_willsmith Getty Images

Saints defensive end Will Smith, who was shot and killed in what has been described as a road rage incident, was legally drunk at the time, according to a new report.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that toxicology tests put Smith’s blood alcohol content at 0.24, or three times the legal limit of 0.08. An attorney for Smith’s family had previously claimed that Smith was not inebriated to the point where he couldn’t drive.

Cardell Hayes has been charged with murdering Smith and attempting to murder his wife Raquel, who was also shot in the incident. Hayes’ lawyer is claiming the shooting was self defense.

Surveillance cameras and witness statements indicate that that Smith’s SUV bumped Hayes’ Hummer and drove off before Hayes caught up to Smith, rammed into the SUV, and shot him in an ensuing argument.

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Tim Wright goes on IR, after tearing his ACL

Calvin Johnson, Timothy Wright AP

It was at least a little curious last week when the Lions put tight end Tim Wright on waivers, but now we know why.

The team announced this afternoon that Wright reverted to injured reserve after clearing waivers, and that he had torn his ACL.

The Lions acquired Wright in a trade with the Buccaneers (after they had previously traded him to the Patriots and later brought him back).

He played in nine games last year, catching nine passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The Rutgers product has 13 touchdowns over his three NFL seasons.

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Carson Wentz says the Eagles have “an awesome quarterback room”

Quarterback Carson Wentz throws a pass during the Philadelphia Eagles' rookie minicamp at the team's NFL football training facility, Friday, May 13, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) AP

On the outside, it appears that the Eagles’ quarterback situation is something of a mess, with the declared starter Sam Bradford not hiding his disappointment that the team traded up to draft Carson Wentz. But from Wentz’s perspective, everything is great.

Wentz said that he, Bradford and Chase Daniel have quickly developed a good rapport and are getting along well, with the two veterans helping the rookie learn to be a professional.

“So far it’s been great,” Wentz said. “Working with Sam, working with Chase, we’ve got an awesome quarterback room. A lot of really good discussions about the playbook, about life, it’s been great. And then on the practice field, they’ve been great for me. We have a really good relationship, so nothing but great things to say about those guys.”

Wentz is putting a happy face on what could be perceived as an uncomfortable situation. We’ll see in three months how happy everyone is when one quarterback is named the starter and the other two have to bide their time on the bench.

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Report: Malcolm Butler will be at OTAs this week

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 20:  Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots intercepts a pass intended for  Harry Douglas #83 of the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots opened up the OTA portion of their offseason schedule last week without cornerback Malcolm Butler and his absence was accompanied by a report that Butler wants a new contract as he heads into his third year with the team.

Butler’s not required to be at any team practices until next month’s mandatory minicamp, but it doesn’t look like he will be missing in action for much longer. The Patriots will hold two more OTAs on Wednesday and Thursday this week and Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that Butler will be in attendance.

Howe adds that the “strong indication” is that Butler’s absence last week was not part of a push for a new contract and that Butler wants to avoid “unnecessary attention” this offseason after missing a flight on his way to practices last year.

Butler is set to make $600,000 in 2016, which is certainly a bargain price for a player in his role for the Patriots but it isn’t one that there’s much pressure for the Patriots to adjust. Butler is set for restricted free agency after the season and extending a first-round tender would likely be enough to ensure that he doesn’t leave town until 2018 at the earliest.

With linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower progressing toward unrestricted free agency, Butler may be third in line among New England defenders for extension talks in the immediate future.

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Broncos could keep Ware on sideline until training camp

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 27: outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after sacking the quarterback while playing the Detroit Lions in the first quarter on September 27, 2015 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

A week after saying that outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware would likely be limited through OTA practices and minicamp due to back issues, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said Tuesday that Ware might not do any on-field work until the Broncos open training camp in late July.

Given that Ware is going to be 34 this summer and is very much a proven player, that’s probably a smart move. It’s notable because those back issues sidelined Ware at two different times last season and because the Broncos are counting on him to be a productive pass rusher.

A week ago, Kubiak said Ware sitting out the start of OTAs was “more preventative than anything” and said “we’ll probably make decisions on DeMarcus day to day based on how he is feeling.”

Ware had 7.5 sacks last season, 4.5 in the first four games before the back flared up, though he recovered well enough to play in the postseason and had two sacks in the Super Bowl. He took a pay cut in the offseason to stay with the Broncos.

A first-round pick of the Cowboys in 2005, Ware came to the Broncos in 2014. He’s only missed eight games in his career, all in the last three seasons, and has 134.5 career sacks.

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Branden Albert not worried about Laremy Tunsil being left tackle of the future

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 29:  Branden Albert #76 of the Miami Dolphins in action against the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 29, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Laremy Tunsil wasn’t expected to be on the board when the Dolphins were picking 13th in the first round of last month’s draft, but Tunsil tumbled after a video showing him smoking pot surfaced and Miami was there to stop his fall.

Tunsil played left tackle at Ole Miss and is expected to play that position in the NFL as well, although it looks like his first stop on the Dolphins offensive line will be at guard because Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James are installed at left and right tackle. Albert said Tuesday that he isn’t threatened by Tunsil’s addition and that he’s spending time making sure the rookie is ready to play as soon as possible because it’s the best thing for the team.

“I’m the left tackle of this team. I wasn’t worried about anything,” Albert said, via ESPN.com. “I’m trying to bring [Tunsil] along the best I can. The faster he moves along, the faster that his progress comes, the faster we get the five best offensive linemen on the field. … and that’s going to help the team.”

Albert said he’s down to 313 pounds, which is as light as he’s been since leaving the Chiefs for the Dolphins, and that losing weight has made for less impact on his knees a year after returning from a torn ACL and MCL. A healthy Albert would be a good thing for the Dolphins line in 2016 and beyond, even if it means Tunsil continues his NFL education at other positions.

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Kelvin Benjamin trying “not to baby” knee in return to field

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 10:  Kelvin Benjamin #13 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after scoring a 15 yard touchdown thrown by Cam Newton #1 in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at CenturyLink Field on January 10, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers had wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin on the practice field for the first time in almost a year last week when he joined the team at Thursday’s OTA session.

Benjamin was back at it on Tuesday and said after the workout that it feels good to be on the field after such an extended layoff. Benjamin isn’t a full participant at this point, but told reporters that he isn’t holding anything back during the drills that he is able to do.

“Not at all. I try not to baby it,” Benjamin said. “I try to go hard. Whatever the route is, I try to trust in the process that we have been doing, the rehabbing. So I just go ahead and make that plant.”

Benjamin said that a knee brace was recommended, but that he’s going without one because it “would be a mind thing” that could get in the way of returning to full speed. After seeing Benjamin catch 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in 2014, no one in Carolina’s going to want to get in the way of that either.

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