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PFT’s Week 17 picks

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Well, it’s officially over.

With an eight-game gap and one week of games left, MDS and yours truly disagree on only five games.  Which means that, even if MDS sweeps, I’ll still be three games ahead.  (Math continues to be my strong suit.)

Of course, if I sweep I’ll finish with a 13-game lead.  And based on the five disagreements, I think I will.

Read on to see our picks and our takes for the final week of the regular season.  It all re-sets to 0-0 for the playoffs, at which time MDS will have a chance to exact revenge.  Or to fail again.

Last week, I was 11-5 and MDS went 10-6.  For the year, I’m now at 157-82-1, good for 65.4 percent.  MDS is 149-90-1, which keeps him at 62.0 percent.

Buccaneers at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but they say they’re playing to win in Week 17. They shouldn’t have much trouble winning against the Bucs, who have collapsed at the end of the season.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 34, Buccaneers 13.

Florio’s take:  The Bucs haven’t been the same team since they nearly beat the Falcons in Tampa.  The Falcons are still trying to prove that they’re one of the best teams in the league.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.

Jets at Bills

MDS’s take: Football fans, the Greg McElroyRyan Fitzpatrick quarterback matchup you’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Fitzpatrick will throw a couple of touchdown passes in what may be his final start in Buffalo.

MDS’s pick: Bills 20, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  The Jets have folded the tents, even though the circus is still in town.  Buffalo celebrates the news of a new lease with a home win to end the season, just in time for plenty of changes.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 27, Jets 14.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS’s take: At first glance this might look like a big game, matching up two playoff teams. But with the Bengals locked into the No. 6 seed and the Ravens highly likely to end up with the No. 4 seed, neither of these teams has a lot to play for. I think the Ravens, however, will be a little more motivated to build on the momentum from last week’s win over the Giants and will take this one.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 21, Bengals 14.

Florio’s take:  This meaningless game has plenty of meaning for the Bengals, who need to convince themselves that they can beat the Ravens, in order to obtain the confidence that they can do something else they haven’t done in an even longer time — win in the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 27, Ravens 20.

Bears at Lions

MDS’s take: In 2000, the Lions were 9-6 heading into Week 17 and needed only to beat the 4-11 Bears to make the playoffs. Instead, the Bears pulled the upset and Lions owner William Clay Ford cleaned house and began the disastrous Matt Millen era. This year it’s the 9-6 Bears who need to beat the 4-11 Lions to have a shot at the playoffs. I’ll take the Lions to get their revenge in an upset.

MDS’s pick: Lions 28, Bears 24.

Florio’s take:  Rodney Harrison declared while watching the Lions lose to the Falcons that Detroit’s body language suggests the Lions have quit.  The Bears haven’t.  Sometimes, it’s that easy.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 24, Lions 10.

Texans at Colts

MDS’s take: The Texans are playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Colts are already locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC. Houston has more to play for and is a better team and will win this one going away.

MDS’s pick: Texans 36, Colts 17.

Florio’s take:  The Texans have never won in Indianapolis.  They need it this time more than ever.  But the Colts will have coach Chuck Pagano back, and even if the Colts leave so much on the field that it will make it harder to win in the playoffs, they’ll leave it all on the field to beat the Texans.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 27, Texans 23.

Packers at Vikings

MDS’s take: This is the biggest game played in Minnesota since Brett Favre led the Vikings to a divisional playoff win over the Cowboys three years ago. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, they’re hosting a Packers team that’s peaking at the right time. I like Aaron Rodgers to lead the Packers to a high-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Packers 35, Vikings 27.

Florio’s take:  The Vikings are playing for a postseason berth.  The Packers are playing for a bye.  The Packers remain the better team, and they have every reason to demonstrate that on Sunday.  To the delight of the Bears.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 34, Vikings 21.

Dolphins at Patriots

MDS’s take: A win probably won’t be enough to earn New England a first-round playoff bye, but the Patriots will be motivated to try — and to wash out the bad taste of back-to-back disappointing performances, in a loss to the 49ers and a close win over the Jaguars.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 41, Dolphins 14.

Florio’s take:  The Pats still have a crack at a bye.  That’s all the incentive they need to take out the Dolphins for the second time this month.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, Dolphins 17.

Panthers at Saints

MDS’s take: It’s a meaningless game for both teams, but that doesn’t make it a bad game: Both of these teams have been playing good football in recent weeks, despite falling short of the playoffs. I like the Panthers to keep their winning streak going and make a statement that they’re a team to keep an eye on in 2013.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 24, Saints 21.

Florio’s take:  New Orleans is trying to finish on a high note.  And they are succeeding.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, Panthers 10.

Eagles at Giants

MDS’s take: The Eagles quit on Andy Reid months ago. The Giants have looked in the last couple weeks like they quit on Tom Coughlin. Both of these teams are slouching toward the end of the season, but the Giants have more to play for.

MDS’s pick: Giants 14, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Giants are playing for pride, along with a sliver of hope that they could make it to the playoffs if enough other teams lose.  If the Giants find a way in, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t lose again.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 27, Eagles 20.

Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: This game is meaningless, and I’m tempted to pick the Browns on the theory that the Steelers will be feeling a hangover from their disappointing Week 16 loss. But the Browns have gone in the tank over the last couple of weeks, and at this point I’m not sure I’d pick them to win on the road against anyone.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 9.

Florio’s take:  The Browns haven’t swept the Steelers since 1988, 11 years before the current edition of the Browns was born.  With rampant changes looming in Cleveland, the Steelers still have enough gas in the tank to avoid getting punked by the franchise they’ve owned since 1999 (even though the Browns are now technically owned by a guy who still owns a chunk of the Steelers).

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Browns 10.

Jaguars at Titans

MDS’s take: Last time the Titans suffered a humiliating blowout loss and were called out by their owner, they responded by winning the next game. I think they’ll do it again.

MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 14.

Florio’s take:  Bud Adams isn’t happy with his coaching staff.  He’ll be slightly less unhappy after Sunday, but still unhappy enough to clean house.

Florio’s pick:  Titans 27, Jaguars 16.

Chiefs at Broncos

MDS’s take: Knowing they need to win in order to earn a first-round playoff bye, the Broncos will pound the Chiefs, who have nothing to play for other than the first pick in next year’s draft — which Kansas City will earn by losing.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 27, Chiefs 10.

Florio’s take:  With 10 straight wins each by at least seven points, the Broncos could be the best team in the playoff field.  They’re definitely good enough to continue chasing a bye week.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 34, Chiefs 10.

Raiders at Chargers

MDS’s take: With Norv Turner virtually assured of being fired after the game, his team will send him out a winner in an AFC West contest that doesn’t really matter for much of anything.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 24, Raiders 10.

Florio’s take:  Norv Turner has one last chance to change the owner’s mind.  It won’t matter.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 24, Raiders 10.

Cardinals at 49ers

MDS’s take: San Francisco will shake off Sunday night’s thrashing in Seattle to clinch the NFC West.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Cardinals 3.

Florio’s take:  The Niners are on the brink of squandering the NFC West title that we were ready to hand them back in September.  If they can’t beat the Cardinals and Brian Hoyer at home, San Fran doesn’t even deserve to be in the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 31, Cardinals 13.

Rams at Seahawks

MDS’s take: No one wants to play the Seahawks right now. They’re destroying everything in their paths. The Rams will be no different.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 45, Rams 7.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks, who lost their first round of NFC West games, have been exacting revenge in a big way.  They finish the job on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 41, Rams 17.

Cowboys at Redskins

MDS’s take: In the biggest game of the day, the Cowboys will ride Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to a high-scoring win. I suspect that Robert Griffin III is hurting more than he’s letting on and won’t be able to move as effectively as he did in the Redskins’ Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys. Dallas will take the NFC East crown.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Redskins 28.

Florio’s take:  For the second straight year, the NFC East title game returns to prime time in Week 17.  For the second straight year, the home team advances.  For the second straight year, the Cowboys come up short.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 24, Cowboys 21.

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Seahawks move on from Tony McDaniel

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The Seahawks truly can’t keep everybody.

The team has released defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, PFT has confirmed. PFT likewise has confirmed that McDaniel was informed that the team needed to move on for cap reasons after giving new contracts to quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner.

McDaniel was due to earn a base salary of $2.5 million in 2015, along with a per-game roster bonuses with a full-season total of $500,000. He remains on the books for $625,000, the proration of his signing bonus from 2014.

He arrived in Seattle two years ago, appearing in 32 regular-season games with 29 starts.  He also has started five of six postseason games in the last two years, including Super Bowl XLIX.

McDaniel appeared in every game during his Seattle tenure; he becomes an immediate free agent, able to sign with any team.

And the next question becomes who’s the next to go after so much money has gone to Wilson and Wagner.

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Lions not sure when Joique Bell will be ready to practice

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The Lions placed running back Joique Bell on the physically unable to perform list to open training camp after an offseason that saw Bell undergo surgeries on both his knee and Achilles, but they aren’t concerned about Bell falling behind in the offense.

Coach Jim Caldwell said that Bell “understands and knows how to run the ball” in the team’s offensive scheme, which leaves the team “majorly concerned” with getting the back healthy enough to actually run the ball. As of now, though, the team doesn’t have any idea about when that is going to be.

“Like I said, I’m not sure how long it’s going to take,” Caldwell said, via the Detroit Free Press. “I do know one thing, that he’s coming along quickly, and we’ll see what the doctor says. I can’t put an exact timetable on it right now. That’s the tough thing about even talking about medical. Sometimes you don’t know.”

Second-round pick Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick will get the snaps with the first team while Bell, who led the Lions in rushing last season, is out of the lineup and strong work from Abdullah could lead the Lions to tweak their plans in the backfield for the season.

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Chip Kelly: I don’t know why Brandon Boykin would say that

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Eagles coach Chip Kelly sounds shocked that Brandon Boykin, who was traded from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh yesterday, is suggesting racial motivations in the decision to trade him.

“I don’t know. In talking to him last night I think he was stunned, he was disappointed. He really liked it here,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that when he informed Boykin he had been traded, Boykin took it like a pro and didn’t express any hard feelings.

“When he left here last night he shook my hand and gave me a hug, didn’t say anything,” he said. “I like Brandon. I just don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Kelly said the Steelers, who gave up a 2016 draft pick for Boykin, have been calling the Eagles for months about acquiring him in a trade. The Steelers recently upped their offer to either a fourth-round pick or a fifth-round pick, depending on Boykin’s playing time, and that was the offer the Eagles accepted.

“They actively pursued him. They wanted to trade for him at the draft and we turned it down,” Kelly said.

Kelly also said he would have liked to keep Boykin, but the Eagles think they have more good cornerbacks than they’ll be able to keep on the 53-player roster. So if they can get a draft pick for one of those cornerbacks, they’re going to do it.

“It more speaks to what our depth was at the position,” Kelly said. “We’re going to have to make some tough decisions at corner and we’re not going to be able to keep them all.”

Despite Boykin’s comments, Kelly said he still likes Boykin.

“I’ve always been a Brandon Boykin fan. I think he did an unbelievable job in the two and a half years I was with him and I wish him nothing but success,” Kelly said.

The feeling does not appear to be mutual.

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Jimmy Haslam: We’re on right track, won’t blow things up

Jimmy Haslam AP

Johnny Manziel isn’t the only member of the Browns organization that owner Jimmy Haslam is promising to be patient with this year.

On Saturday, Haslam addressed the possibility that the team could change coaches and key front office personnel for the third time since he bought the team and admitted that no one will be happy until the team wins consistently. He said, however, that the team has “the right people” in place to build a winner in coach Mike Pettine and General Manager Ray Farmer and that they’ll remain in place.

“We’re not going to blow things up, okay?” Haslam said, via Cleveland.com. “I think we’re on the right track so we’re not going to blow things up. I understand why people might ask that after a couple of bumps in the first couple of years, but we are not going to do that. I think we’re putting a good foundation in place.”

There have been reports about struggles between Pettine and Farmer about the direction of the organization that Pettine denied while speaking with reporters this week. If there is an issue there it could force the Browns to make different choices about who is calling the shots, although finding a way to put together a winner would likely put questions about changes to the hierarchy to rest for a while.

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Brandon Boykin suggests Chip Kelly is uncomfortable with black men

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys

Brandon Boykin is the latest former Eagle to suggest that the coach who traded him, Chip Kelly, was motivated by racism.

In a text message to Comcast SportsNet’s Derrick Gunn, Boykin said Kelly is “uncomfortable around grown men of our culture.”

Boykin suggested that he agrees with former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who said after he was traded to the Bills that Kelly was getting rid of all the good black players.

“He can’t relate and that makes him uncomfortable,” Boykin said. “He likes total control of everything, and he don’t like to be uncomfortable. Players excel when you let them naturally be who they are, and in my experience that hasn’t been important to him, but you guys have heard this before me.”

We have heard it before, but we still haven’t heard an explanation for why Kelly, if his roster moves are motivated by racism, has also jettisoned good white players like Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. There’s no doubt that Kelly is radically reshaping the roster he inherited in Philadelphia, but that radical reshaping of the roster hasn’t significantly changed the racial makeup of the Eagles’ roster.

It’s easy to find on-field explanations for why Kelly has made these allegedly racist moves. He prefers a straight-ahead running style, so he traded LeSean McCoy and signed DeMarco Murray to a lucrative contract. He prefers bigger cornerbacks, so he traded Brandon Boykin and signed Byron Maxwell to a lucrative contract. That’s evidence that Kelly has clear ideas about the kinds of players he wants on his football team, but those ideas aren’t tied to race.

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Andre Smith: I’m tired of being mediocre

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The Bengals drafted offensive tackles with their first two picks in this year’s draft, which is the sort of thing that sends a message to the team’s incumbent starters.

Right tackle Andre Smith seems to have heard that message. He reported to camp down 23 pounds from last year, completely healed from the torn triceps that ended his 2014 season and feeling better than he has since he was the team’s first-round pick in 2008. Smith said he’s set a goal of being the best right tackle in the NFL and that he’s “tired of being mediocre.”

“I do feel fresh,” Smith said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I got a year off to prepare my body, get better mentally, physically, get in great shape, stay in shape and be out there with my teammates now and do what I’m supposed to do.”

Even without the arrival of two rookie tackles, Smith has ample motivation for the 2015 season. His contract is up after the year and a season of strong play will be rewarded by the Bengals or someone else next offseason.

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Matt Elam may have torn his biceps on Saturday

Matt Elam AP

The Ravens spent the offseason talking about their hopes for better play from safety Matt Elam this season, but those hopes may have been dashed early in training camp.

Elam suffered an injury to his arm on Saturday and the Baltimore Sun reports that the team fears he tore his biceps. Elam will have an MRI on Sunday to determine the severity of the injury.

If Elam completely tore his biceps, there’s a good chance that he’ll miss the entire season. A partial tear would require a much shorter recovery period that could put Elam back on the field sometime in September.

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said in May that the Ravens haven’t been satisfied with the 2013 first-round pick’s play during his first two seasons with the team. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees praised Elam later in the offseason, but that may be moot if the MRI reveals a serious injury.

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In January, Mort told WEEI he reconfirmed PSI info

Mort Getty Images

On Friday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen pulled the plug on a planned appearance on WEEI in Boston to discuss his #DeflateGate floodgates report that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. As it turns out, Mortensen previously addressed the report on WEEI back in January, in an appearance with Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria.

Told about the PFT report from that same time frame that 10 of the 11 Patriots footballs were closer to one pound under the minimum than two pounds under it (which turned out to be accurate in light of the measurements first published by Ted Wells in May), Mortensen elaborated on his report.

“Listen, I went back . . .  and I can’t go through too many of the steps I took because it wasn’t just a single source,” Mortensen said. “Even before that report came back that maybe they were one pound underneath because I agree maybe it’s a huge difference, but you know what I was told was, I said, ‘Listen,’ I said, ‘is there any discrepancies in what I reported, because I want to know.’ Because even on a small detail like that. And I was just told, ‘No, you were right on.'”

Mortensen then speculated that maybe the frame of reference was 13.5 PSI, and that the sources meant that the footballs were two pounds under that. And then he essentially said that it didn’t matter because of other things his sources told him.

“They said, ‘Use common sense,’ Mortensen said. ‘One team’s footballs, basically all of them were underinflated. The other team’s footballs — they like them on the low end, too, by the way, the Colts — were all within regulation. So all the scientific minutiae that’s been thrown at us, be careful about buying into it.”

So, basically, Mortensen was lied to by his sources on multiple occasions. In addition to being told when he double-checked that he was “right on,” he was told that the Colts footballs “were all within regulation.” The truth, as demonstrated by the Ted Wells report, is that only four Colts footballs were tested — and on one of the gauges used three of the four balls were under 12.5 PSI.

Moreover, the Colts footballs didn’t start on the low end of the 12.5 to 13.5 PSI range, but right in the middle, at 13.0 or 13.1 PSI. But that’s not what Mortensen’s sources told him.

“I was told they prefer theirs at the lower level, too,” Mortensen said. Which means that his sources wanted him to believe the footballs started at the same point, and that only the Patriots dropped while exposed to cold, wet conditions. Which we now know is completely, you know, not true.

Moreover, the four (not 12, but only four) Colts footballs that were tested sat inside the warmer atmosphere of the locker room, readjusting to those conditions as the Patriots footballs were tested twice and then refilled to 13.0 PSI.

If anything, Mort’s January appearance on WEEI shows that he wasn’t lied to by one person on one occasion, but by multiple people on multiple occasions, regarding key facts beyond the notion that the Patriots footballs were two pounds under the minimum. It’s also now obvious that his sources were within the league office; who else would be lobbying Mort to “use common sense” by comparing the false information that was being provided to him about the Patriots footballs with false information that was being provided to him about the Colts footballs?

Mortensen then was asked if Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft sounded off in the days preceding the Super Bowl because they were irritated by the publication of misinformation. Mortensen bristled at the implication.

“You’re saying that they’re telling the truth and we’re disseminating misinformation,” Mortensen said.

It’s now clear that ESPN, through multiple league-office sources, was indeed disseminating misinformation. And ESPN still has not adequately answered for that, beyond Adam Schefter’s recent suggestion that Mort was indeed lied to by multiple high-level sources.

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Sunday morning one-liners

Denver Broncos v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Bills DT Marcell Dareus is in line for a big new contract.

G Jamil Douglas is in the mix for a starting job with the Dolphins.

RB LeGarrette Blount is back at practice for the Patriots.

WR Chris Owusu is off to a good start at Jets camp.

The Ravens practiced without WR Breshad Perriman and LB Terrell Suggs.

Said Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther of CB Dre Kirkpatrick, “He’s really grown a lot as a person, aside from football. What it takes to be a good pro and the consistency you need to be a good pro. I think he has figured that out.”

The Browns may be without running backs Duke Johnson and Terrance West for a bit.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley isn’t hearing much criticism of his work with the Steelers anymore.

DL Jared Crick is expecting a bigger role with the Texans this year.

The Colts are aware that expectations have gone up this season.

WR Allen Robinson stood out during Saturday’s Jaguars practice.

Those wanting Titans QB Marcus Mariota’s autograph had to put up with a long wait.

S T.J. Ward has big goals for the Broncos secondary.

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles sees himself as the LeBron James of football.

LB Sio Moore has been cleared for practice by the Raiders.

Chargers DE Tenny Palepoi fractured his foot on Saturday.

The Cowboys lost LB Justin Jackson to a torn ACL.

Giants players said they felt for DE Jason Pierre-Paul after seeing pictures of his bandaged hand.

Some thoughts about the Eagles’ decision to trade CB Brandon Boykin.

The Redskins have added CB Deshazor Everett to the roster.

Bears DT Eddie Goldman is keeping a close eye on his hydration.

The Lions lost some players on defense, but aren’t expecting to take a step back.

The Packers are being cautious with G Josh Sitton to make sure he’s healthy for the season.

Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater likes what he’s seen from rookie WR Stefon Diggs.

The competition for running back snaps is picking up at Falcons camp.

Panthers CB Josh Norman is concerned about the “wildlife” at the team’s training camp.

Luke McCown is sharing advice with his competition for the Saints backup quarterback job.

Bad weather interfered with the Buccaneers schedule on Saturday.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer thinks his arm might be stronger now than in past years.

QB Nick Foles got off on the right foot in his first Rams camp.

The 49ers have gotten a taste of WR Torrey Smith’s ability to reel in deep balls.

TE Jimmy Graham’s integration into the Seahawks offense continues at camp.

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Maccagnan “very” disappointed in Richardson, but supportive for now

Maccagnan Getty Images

The news that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson had gotten arrested for street racing and resisting arrest was news to the Jets. And the Jets aren’t happy about that. But since Richardson is really good at football, they’re going to be patient with him, for now.

“That was something that was disappointing, very disappointing,” Jets G.M. Mike Maccagnan told reporters on Saturday, via quotes distributed by the team. “It was not something that we were aware of until it kind of came across the Internet on the media. [Coach] Todd [Bowles] sort of said this the other day and I am going to agree with him, we do worry about Sheldon in terms of the decisions he has made off the field. There is a degree of trust that has been broken, but we are supportive of him and there are a lot of resources in this building that we want to make available to him. Our doors are always open. There definitely has to be a better line of communication between Sheldon and us, but we are going to do everything in our power just to help him not just as a football player develop, but make sure he’s doing the right things off the field.”

Maccagnan declined to make any long-term commitment to Richardson, although it’s clear they’re not going to part ways with him in the short term, even though the four-game suspension imposed last month likely wiped out the remaining guarantees in his rookie deal.

“I think at this point in time and going forward, we will see how this progresses,” Maccagnan said. “He has obviously made some decisions that have consequences in terms of the NFL and the substance abuse policy that he is going to have to deal with. Now, he has had an issue off the field [and just] like all other players, it affects the Personal Conduct Policy and it’s really a league issue so they are going to sort of find out how the league proceeds with this.”

It also could result in another substance-abuse policy complication for Richardson, if the smell of marijuana that police detected when arresting him translates into another failed test for Richardson, whose next positive would trigger a 10-game suspension. With marijuana metabolites remaining in a person’s system for up to 30 days and Richardson subject to up to 10 unannounced tests per month, the Jets should also be bracing for a second suspension under the substance-abuse policy, in addition to consequences under the Personal Conduct Policy.

Since Richardson was the 2013 NFL defensive rookie of the year, and given that defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson remains a year away from free agency without a new contract, the Jets won’t be doing anything rash. If Richardson were an undrafted free agent at the bottom of the roster, the Jets surely wouldn’t be displaying so much patience.

Maccagnan tiptoed around the question of whether Richardson would already be gone if he were at the bottom of the 90-man roster.

“I think we try to do that with any player that we have, to a certain degree to see if there is something we can help them with on or off the field,” Maccagnan said. “I wouldn’t frame it in that kind of context.”

Unless Richardson can prove that he somehow was framed, the context is going to entail Richardson not playing football when the real games arrive, with the only question for now the extent of any additional suspensions that the NFL will impose on Richardson — and whether he can refrain from smoking marijuana long enough to avoid a looming one-year banishment from the sport.

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Marc Trestman: Emphasis is on being “a great running team”

Justin Forsett AP

During Marc Trestman’s two years as the head coach in Chicago, the Bears ranked 24th and 30th in rushing attempts and threw the ball 65 percent of the time.

That didn’t do much to erase the label that Trestman had earned in previous stops as an offensive coach who prefers moving the ball through the air. That offensive approach seems at odds with the one the Ravens rode to 5,838 yards and 409 points last season as they had the eighth-best rushing attack in the league with Gary Kubiak as their offensive coordinator, but Trestman says he isn’t throwing away what his predecessor did in Baltimore.

“Ravens football starts with the running game, and that doesn’t mean you’re not going to throw the ball,” Trestman said, via ESPN.com. “But the emphasis here is we want to be a great running football team and we have the players to do that. So that’s where we start.”

Trestman says it’s an “overblown perception” that he’s locked into a pass-centric offense, saying that he’s utilized the players he’s had on his rosters to do the things that they did well. Some of those players have been “good running backs,” but Trestman said they were best suited for a different style than Justin Forsett and the Ravens line.

Time will tell how things play out in Baltimore, but it definitely seems unwise to veer too far away from what worked so well for a Ravens team that brings back Forsett and their entire line.

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Jets have spoken to Evan Mathis, but price too high

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Guard Evan Mathis was set to make $5.5 million for the Eagles this season, but stayed away from Philly during offseason workouts before being released amid conflicting accounts about whether or not that’s what he wanted.

Mathis hasn’t landed another job for the 2015 season yet and Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan indicated that a big part of the reason is Mathis’s desire to get as close to that $5.5 million as possible.

“We’ve had talks with Evan’s agent,” Maccagnan said, via the New York Daily News. “They’re kind of getting a feel for where – they have a range for where they want to be. The other thing with a lot of teams honestly at this point in time, you almost want to kind of see what you have first to a certain degree. Obviously Evan’s a good player, but as this thing plays out a bit we’ll get a better feel for that. The thing is too is that Evan might have a value he’s looking for right now that may not be in the value that some of the teams want to potentially spend on him. But we’ll see how that develops.”

The Jets have several players under consideration for the right guard job this season. Mathis would almost certainly be an upgrade on Willie Colon, Brian Winters, Oday Aboushi or Brent Qvale, but, for now at least, that potential upgrade appears to come at too high a cost for the team’s pocketbook.

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Jameis Winston says he’s “matured” since his college days

Jameis Winston AP

The Buccaneers have put all their faith in Jameis Winston, after making him the first pick in the draft and the face-off the franchise.

And despite his problems at Florida State, Winston said he’s learned and is better for it.

I’ve matured since I was an 18-year-old kid, just getting into mischievous things,”Winston said, via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com. “But now I love this opportunity that I’ve been given. It’s a blessing. The best thing about it is my dream always was to be a professional quarterback, and I’ve achieved that dream.”

Of course, there’s more to his time in Tallahassee than mischief, as he was accused of sexual assault but never charged, was questioned by police for a BB gun fight between players, cited for stealing crab legs and suspended for a game after shouting a vulgar internet phrase on campus.

But the Bucs did their research, and made their deal, and now Winston says he’s simply trying to fit in.

“On this team, I’m just accepting my role,” Winston said. “We have a lot of veterans. Vincent [Jackson], Gerald [McCoy] — those guys are our leaders. My job right now is just to play quarterback.”

So far, all the reviews on Winston have been good, and he’s fit in nicely. Now, we get to see if he can play.

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Quarterback competition gets underway at Texans camp

Brian Hoyer AP

The Texans held their first practice of training camp on Saturday with a session that also resumed the competition for the team’s starting quarterback job.

Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle reports that Brian Hoyer got most of the work with the starting offense and that his short passes were “crisp and on target.” Ryan Mallett also played to advance billing with good deep balls mixed in with throws that were off target. None of what happened on Saturday moved coach Bill O’Brien to declare a leader or a timeline for making a choice.

“I thought both guys had some good plays [and] both guys had some plays they probably want to have back,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “Hopefully we can continue to keep that going in the right direction as far as more good than bad. I thought both guys came out and competed today. We don’t look at it as a first team and a second team and all that.”

Mallett responded to a question about the competition by asking if he was being counted out before going on to say that he felt O’Brien would give him a “fair shot” and that he’s focused on improving rather than just thinking about beating out Hoyer. Hoyer’s experience may give him an edge for the opener, but improvement for Mallett will only make it likelier that both players get their chances during the regular season.

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Eric Weddle “making the most” of final Chargers camp

Eric Weddle AP

Safety Eric Weddle wasn’t happy that the Chargers wouldn’t talk about a contract extension this offseason, which led him to skip voluntary work this offseason before returning for mandatory minicamp.

Weddle said at the time that he would play out the 2015 season and look forward to free agency in 2016. That still appears to be the plan since there’s been no talk of a contract in the last couple of months, although arriving at training camp has made Weddle a bit more sentimental about the eight years he’s spent with the team.

Weddle said he looked at things differently heading into his “last year” with the team and is “making the most” of time with longtime teammates this summer.

“I’ve come to realize you never know how long you’ll play,” Weddle said, via NFL.com. “Especially with this group, there is not many of us that were here just four years ago – I think there is just five or six of us left. We are definitely taking every moment together, relishing the moments we have and the time we have and will most likely be the last year for a lot of us in this situation, we’ll move on to other teams. So we are going to make the most of it, play our hearts out for each other and go from there.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates are two other veteran Chargers heading into the final year of their deal and even the team’s future in San Diego is in doubt, which could make this the end of an era for the organization in several ways.

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