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Jets could be without Muhammad Wilkerson for season finale


One of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the New York Jets has been the play of defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.

Wilkerson appeared in all 15 games for the Jets this season and recorded 66 tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles. Wilkerson also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery against Seattle in Week 10.

But the Jets may have to get by without Wilkerson for their season finale against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. According to the Associated Press, Wilkerson has a concussion and a knee injury following the Jets loss to the San Diego Chargers last week.

Wilkerson played every defensive snap against the Chargers last week and didn’t show signs of a concussion until after the game. Head coach Rex Ryan was surprised to find out Wilkerson had a concussion following the game.

“It was kind of news to me he has a concussion,” Ryan said.

Wilkerson did not practice for the Jets on Wednesday and would be a big loss along their defensive front if he’s unable to play Sunday. Whether he’ll ultimately be available is still in question.

“That would be a big concern because Mo’s one of the best interior lineman in the league,” Ryan said. “I’d like for Mo to play, but I am concerned.”

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Coaching hire rule change gets tabled

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On Tuesday, the NFL took care of several items of business that had fallen in the cracks during the annual league meeting in March when: (1) the owners quickly approved the relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas; and (2) got the hell out of town before anyone could realize the potential long-term implications of what they had just done. That left plenty of old business that needed to be addressed on Tuesday in Chicago.

One item of old business will continue to be an item of old business.

Via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, owners tabled (again) the question of whether teams may hire as head coaches assistant coaches whose teams are still playing in the postseason. The issue, though presented in some circles as new news on Tuesday, first emerged when the Competition Committee proposed to owners that the change be made. The issue did not make it to a vote in March.

The reason for the delay isn’t clear. Most agree that the change is needed, given that it sometimes shuts out viable candidates when teams choose not to wait possibly until February to make a hire. Also, when a team does wait, the name of the eventual hire becomes the worst-kept secret in the NFL.

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Insult to injury: Derek Newton takes pay cut

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It’s bad enough that Texans right tackle Derek Newton’s not going to play this year after a traumatic double knee injury, but now he’s going to make a fraction of what he was expecting.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Newton has restructured his contract, carving into the base salaries of $4.75 million per year he was scheduled to make the next three seasons.

The Texans have already shut Newton down for the season, after he tore both patellar tendons last fall.

Newton will no make a guaranteed $1.75 million this year and non-guaranteed base salaries of $2.25 million and $2 million in 2018 and 2019. He also has a $500,000 roster bonus this year and in 2018, and $2 million in per-game active roster bonuses in 2018 and another $1 million total in per-game bonuses in 2019.

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Shane Vereen: The best overtime is college football overtime

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A day after the NFL shortened overtime from 15 minutes to 10, Giants running back Shane Vereen said he’d prefer a much more radical change: College overtime.

Vereen said on PFT Live that the college system, in which teams take turns starting possessions from the 25-yard line, is a better format than the modified sudden death format that the NFL uses.

“My favorite overtime is college football,” Vereen said. “Line the ball up at the 25, give each team a chance to go at it, then after the second overtime you have to go for two. I love watching college football overtime. It usually doesn’t take too long. The drives usually aren’t that long. And it’s still exciting. Overtime that’s long and drawn out doesn’t necessarily add to the excitement of the game. If anything it just adds more drives, more punts.”

Vereen says he’s never been involved in a tie game and hopes he never will be. The league’s new overtime rule makes it more likely that he’ll play in a tie this season.

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Packers safety can’t drive 55, but can double it

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The Packers wanted to add some speed to their secondary this offseason. This probably isn’t what they had in mind.

According to Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Packers safety Jermaine Whitehead was cited for doing 110 mph on Interstate 43, with three teammates in the car.

Whitehead was stopped at 3:39 a.m. on May 19, while driving in a 70 mph zone between Milwaukee and Sheboygan. When the officer stopped him, he said he needed to be at Lambeau Field in a few hours for workouts.

“Jermaine originally said he was going 75 to 80 when I asked him how fast he was driving,” deputy sheriff Chad Baumann wrote in the incident report. “I told him his speed (110 mph) and the fact he was passing a semi at a high rate of speed. He did not contest this speed.”

Whitehead played in two games for the Packers last year, spending most of the year on the practice squad.

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Jordan Matthews unfazed by trade speculation

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The Eagles addressed the wide receiver position by signing Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery as free agents this offseason and there was conjecture that they may have more moves in mind.

There was talk about the possibility of a trade involving Jordan Matthews at various points over the last few months, but he remains in Philadelphia with May coming to an end. Matthews was asked about the trade chatter on Tuesday and he said he didn’t talk to anyone from the team about it, saying that “whatever happens is going to end up happening” and that he’s not going to be affected by what might have been said in conversations with other teams.

“That’s fake news. Alternative facts,” Matthews said, via “I don’t really care about that stuff, bro. I feel like it’s the NFL — everybody has a price. Those talks, they happen. It really doesn’t faze me in any way.”

Matthews is heading into the final year of his contract and could be moving on come the end of the season even if he isn’t traded. If that’s the case, the Eagles receiving corps could get overhauled again as Jeffery is on a one-year deal and Smith’s three-year pact can be dissolved rather easily after the 2017 season.

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David Quessenberry participating in OTAs after finishing chemo


David Quessenberry has spent most of the last three years focused on battling lymphoma, but he had his final round of chemotherapy in April and that’s allowed him to get back to other things.

Among the top items on that list would be his career as an offensive lineman for the Texans and Quessenberry has taken a big step toward a full return to that life. Quessenberry was on the field with the team as they opened up Organized Team Activities this week.

Quessenberry was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma in June 2014 and has spent the last three seasons on the non-football illness list while receiving treatment. That left Quessenberry to say in April that he’s in “uncharted territory” while discussing his attempt to resume his playing career.

There’s a long way to go from a May practice to a September roster spot, but we’re not putting anything past a guy who has overcome as much as Quessenberry has to just get on the practice field in the first place.

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Jeremy Maclin: Last year wasn’t up to my standards

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In wide receiver Jeremy Maclin’s first year with the Chiefs, he caught 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns in a season that looked a lot like the 2014 one he turned in for the Eagles before signing a five-year deal in Kansas City as a free agent.

Last year’s numbers weren’t in the same ballpark. Maclin caught 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns while missing four games because of a groin injury, although Maclin didn’t focus on the injury when discussing his disappointment with last year’s play.

“It just wasn’t up to my standards — it wasn’t up to my standards,” Maclin said, via the Kansas City Star. “I’ve never been a stat guy. I’ve never been a guy to say ‘I want this, I want that.’ I just … I didn’t play as well as I could have. And by not playing well, I feel like I let my team down. And that’s the most important part of it.”

Quarterback Alex Smith said both he and Maclin had a role in the drop and that he’s “looking forward to remedying that” during the 2017 season. The Chiefs were able to win the division last year without a big season from Maclin, so pulling that off should be a big benefit to doing it again.

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Ndamukong Suh: “Definitely sick and tired” of early playoff exits

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Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has turned 30, and he’s made all the money already.

Now, he admits he wants more.

Via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Suh said yesterday that never advancing as far as the divisional round of the playoffs is beginning to wear on him.

I’m definitely sick and tired of making it to the playoffs and not going further,” Suh said. “I think everybody feels that way. . . . It feels like guys weren’t satisfied with where we were at. It’s exciting, from my vantage point, to see hunger still. That was not OK the way we finished, especially the last two games of our season.”

The Dolphins were blasted by the Patriots and the Steelers in their final two games, allowing 65 points in the losses. But specifically troubling to Suh was the 4.7 yards per carry over those last two games, and the fact they ranked 30th in the league last year in run defense.

“I put a lot of it on myself,” Suh said of the run defense. “I’m supposed to be the anchor. I plan to be the anchor and continue to be that way. So I think it starts with us front, without question. With the way the defense is set up.”

Suh is paid that way, and ought to be the focal point of their defense. And he’s apparently not satisfied with last year’s results, and early exits.

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Broncos quarterbacks have “good day” on first day of OTAs


The Broncos have talked about a 50-50 quarterback competition between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch and their plans for Organized Team Activities sticks to that description.

Coach Vance Joseph said that each quarterback will work with the first team during five of the 10 OTAs that lead into the mandatory minicamp that wraps up the offseason program. Siemian got the lead spot on Tuesday in what Joseph termed a “good day” for both of the quarterbacks.

Both quarterbacks are also learning the finer points of the new offense that offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has installed. Siemian called it “different across the board,” something Lynch agreed with while also saying it felt familiar because of his college offense.

“I feel like it fits more of how I play,” Lynch said in comments distributed by the team. “I’m more comfortable in it and there is a little bit more similarities to what I did at Memphis compared to what I had to do last year. Obviously at practice we’ve gotten into the gun a little more than last year, which is more comfortable to me because I’ve been doing it for long. Last year was my first getting under center. The reps that I got last year and the time that I got to play, now coming into OTAs this year, I think I’ve made pretty good strides.”

Lynch will get his first chance to show those strides with the first team on Wednesday.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

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Jay Ajayi may be the Dolphins’ most important player.

Is former Bills GM Doug Whaley breaking his arm by patting himself on the back?

For Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, the key to cashing in is staying healthy.

Sheldon Richardson thinks he can have a monster season in the Jets’ defense.

Ravens TE Dennis Pitta is a big fan of The Bachelorette.

Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick says he’ll be back in two weeks from a hand injury.

The Browns think they have reasons for optimism.

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant is finally back to work.

Texans QB Tom Savage and coach Bill O’Brien are getting on the same page.

Colts OT Le’Raven Clark may be ready to make a big jump.

Is Jaguars QB Blake Bortles ready to bounce back in a big way?

Titans QB Marcus Mariota is making progress.

Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch are sharing the spotlight at Broncos OTAs.

Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin is determined to have a big year.

Raiders third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes isn’t allowed to attend OTAs because of the NFL’s rules keeping players out until their schools finish their spring semesters.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers is as competitive in the offseason as he is in the regular season.

Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith is continuing to make progress in recovery from his devastating knee injury 17 months ago.

Is Odell Beckham’s absence from OTAs a sign of immaturity?

Eagles CB Patrick Robinson is blaming himself for his slow development.

Here’s a look at some of the camp competitions in Washington.

Will the Bears have a Top 5 pick again next year?

The Lions’ top two rookie draft picks are learning the defense together.

Packers G Jahri Evans wants to prove he’s elite.

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook is showing his stuff at Vikings OTAs.

Falcons WR Julio Jones has a big-time fan in Ric Flair.

Will Panthers LT Matt Kalil play well after surgery?

Formerly a defensive lineman for the Raiders, Drew Iddings is trying to make the Saints as an offensive lineman.

Bucs backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is glad to have another Harvard man in the locker room in Cameron Brate.

Cardinals RB David Johnson wants to take the next step toward NFL greatness.

Rams QB Jared Goff is making strides in his first full offseason.

San Francisco LB Reuben Foster is doing as much as he can while protecting his surgically repaired shoulder from contact.

The Seahawks remember Cortez Kennedy as an all-time great on and off the field.

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Eagles apparently weren’t thrilled with Carson Wentz’s QB gurus

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The Eagles invested heavily in quarterback Carson Wentz last year, and identified some mechanical issues they wanted him to polish up this offseason.

They just might not have preferred where he did the polishing.

According to Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Eagles weren’t thrilled about Wentz’s offseason pilgrimage to California quarterback gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux.

When asked if he saw any improvements in his second-year quarterback after a day of Organized Team Activities, Eagles coach Doug Pederson offered muted praise.

“Well, the biggest thing I’ve seen, No. 1, is leadership,” Pederson said. “He’s come in here ready to go. He’s come in here eager, excited about the offseason, working with the new guys and the guys from last year. That’s what I’ve seen. I’ve seen him come in rejuvenated.”

That’s far from “Those wizards in California saw things I never did and fixed them,” which might shine some light on their reluctance to embrace the trip. It’s not that House and Dedeaux are bad at what they do (they’ve worked with Tom Brady and Matt Ryan and Drew Brees among others), it’s more that Pederson and Frank Reich were brought in specifically because they’re good with young quarterbacks, and might not appreciate the work being farmed out.

Wentz downplayed the work, and said “I’m not really sure,” when asked if he’d return.

“It wasn’t super in-depth,” he said. “It was just kind of cleaning up some things from an efficiency standpoint. No mass overhauls. Nothing major. A lot of it having to do with footwork.”

In the context of his coaches not being thrilled with his choice, that may involve a bit of tap-dancing to keep everyone happy.

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Report: Seahawks expected to work out Colin Kaepernick, others

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Someone is finally going to actually see for themselves whether Colin Kaepernick is able and willing to play football.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Seahawks are going to audition some backup options soon, and “barring a change of plans” Kaepernick is expected to be among them.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week that Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III were among the guys they were considering as a potential backup to Russell Wilson, since they have no experience on the bench.

If nothing else, it supports commissioner Roger Goodell’s stance that Kaepernick isn’t being blackballed.

Barring a change of plans, of course, which sounds sort of ominous the way it was dropped in there so casually.

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Shane Vereen visits PFT Live on Wednesday

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Our recent offseason excursion into having former players in the studio for a full hour at a time on PFT Live carries with it a twist on Wednesday: A non-former player joins the show.

Giants running back (and Super Bowl XLIX champion with the Patriots) Shane Vereen visits the studio in Connecticut for the final four segments of the simulcast, and among other things we’ll pick our all-time favorite NFL celebrations from a variety of categories. (We always tackle the most difficult and delicate topics.)

We’ll address plenty of other issues throughout the show, which begins (began) at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio and then heads to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET for the two-hour simulcast. Join us.

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Colts’ Clayton Geathers may not be ready for start of season

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Colts safety Clayton Geathers started nine games last year before a neck injury ended his season. Now the question is whether his neck injury will also affect his 2017 season.

Geathers hoped the injury would heal on its own, but when it didn’t, he had surgery in March. He’s now attending the Colts’ Organized Team Activities, but he’s not participating, and when asked if he’ll be ready for the start of the season, he couldn’t answer. Neither could Colts coach Chuck Pagano.

I can’t tell you when Clayton is going to be available for us, but he’s doing everything as far as the rehab and the meetings,” Pagano said. “He’s just not practicing right now. When the doctors say he’s 100 percent and he’s ready to roll, then we’ll put him back out there.”

As Geathers said, “You don’t want to play around with the neck.” He shouldn’t play until he’s completely healthy, and it sounds like it may be several more months before he’s completely healthy.

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Donald Penn says slipping on play Derek Carr was injured continues to stick with him

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Oakland Raiders left tackle Donald Penn can’t shake the memory of the slip he had on the play that ended with his quarterback lost for the season.

According to PFT alumnus Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Penn says the memory of his misstep on the play against the Indianapolis Colts that led to Derek Carr sustaining a broken leg is something that has stuck with him even five months later.

I should have held on (to Colts defensive end Trent Cole) and brought him down with me,” Penn said. “That play sticks with me. I’m going to try to do whatever I can do better to make sure nothing like that ever happens again. I’ve never gotten a quarterback hurt before in my life since I’ve been playing. None of my quarterbacks ever got hurt. That was the first. That’s something I take pride in, and I’m going to try my hardest to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Penn had a stellar season in 2016 protecting Carr’s backside from opposing pass rushers looking to inflict damage. The Raiders were cruising into the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, Carr was having a great year under center and Penn was doing everything he could to allow Carr the chance to complete passes.

But with Cole coming off the edge, Penn lost his footing as the Colts pass rusher chased down Carr from behind. The sack left Carr with a fractured fibula. The Raiders season was broken in that moment as well.

“You’ve got to try not to think about it too much,” Penn said. “It happened. You wish you could go back and get it back. I’ve done that same (pass) set I don’t know how many times on that same field and never just slipped out of nowhere. I took a little step. I’m not going to put it on myself. I should have been able to do something better. You know me: I’m not going to blame the slip for happening.”

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