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Sunday morning one-liners

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A call for the Bills defense to make things as easy on the Jets as they did in the opener.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald wonders if the Dolphins will take advantage of their opportunities this offseason.

The return of LB Brandon Spikes would be a good thing for the Patriots defense.

Even without CB Darrelle Revis for most of the season, the Jets secondary was a strength this season.

Ravens RB Bernard Pierce is faster than some people expect given his running style.

What’s at stake for the Bengals in Week 17?

The Browns try for their first sweep of the Steelers since the days of Tim Manoa this Sunday.

There are plenty of opinions about what went wrong for the Steelers this season.

The Texans have a few milestones within reach in the regular season finale.

Before returning to the Colts, WR Reggie Wayne talked to Andre Johnson about the prospect of playing together.

Plenty of big decisions await the Jaguars after Week 17.

Titans LB Zach Brown is trying to end his season on a strong note.

The seven biggest moments of the Broncos season.

Signs of trouble started early for the Chiefs.

The lack of a consistent running game has been a major problem for the Raiders.

Chargers players had plenty of nice things to say about Norv Turner ahead of what’s expected to be his final game as Chargers coach.

How much will the Cowboys get out of LB DeMarcus Ware?

Gary Myers of the New York Daily News pins the blame for the Giants’ struggles this year on coach Tom Coughlin.

Not everyone is ready to see the end of Andy Reid’s run as Eagles coach.

Can the Redskins pass defense keep up its recent improvement against the Cowboys?

Red zone productivity is a must for the Bears this weekend.

The Lions are trying to avoid a winless division record against the Bears.

RB Ryan Grant has dealt with a slew of injuries during his two stints with the Packers.

Vikings QB Christian Ponder says he learned from the team’s first loss to the Packers.

A look at some of the key matchups for the Falcons this weekend.

Panthers LB Thomas Davis looks back on his successful comeback from a third ACL tear.

Said Saints QB Drew Brees of the final weekend, “Regardless of what happened last week, the week before, whatever, I want the lasting impression in people’s minds to be something really good. We have one more game. I want it to be really good for this team, not only the result but the way we play. I want to be sharp.”

Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy is excited to have an offseason without an injury to rehabilitate.

Uncertainty reigns in Arizona as the regular season comes to an end.

Said Rams QB Sam Bradford of playing in Seattle, “I think it’s a great, great atmosphere to play in. You know their fans are going to be into it. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We had to work a couple of ‘whisper’ cadences at practice — just getting everyone used to not being able to hear the cadence. But, I think everyone in this locker room looks at it as a great challenge for us to go up and get another road win.”

If Vernon Davis can’t play, the 49ers will get a long look at TE Garrett Celek.

The Seahawks are trying to keep their momentum rolling as they head into the playoffs.

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Andy Reid knew defensive stars would miss OTAs

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Most of the Chiefs are back to work, but coach Andy Reid mostly shrugged when asked about a trio of defensive stars who chose to not volunteer.

Safety Eric Berry, outside linebacker Justin Houston and cornerback Marcus Peters are all absent from Organized Team Activities, but Reid said he had spoken to them and knew what was going on.

“I just coach the guys that are here — that’s what I do,” Reid said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star. “So the guys that are here are hungry for reps, and that will do nothing but help us. . . .

“It’s voluntary, so they can be here or not be here, it’s up to them. I knew about all of them.”

Absences this time of year aren’t necessarily anything new for two of them.

Berry missed the last two year’s worth of OTAs while dealing with contract issues and cancer. Houston’s absences were merely contract and knee-related.

But Peters hasn’t missed this kind of time yet. He’s not in position for an extension yet (he’s entering the third year of his rookie deal so he can’t extend until after this season), and there have been no stated reasons for his absence.

The Chiefs have a mandatory minicamp June 14-16, at which point they’re all obligated to show up or face fines.

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Friday morning one-liners

AP

Bills C Eric Wood feels close to 100 percent after last year’s broken leg.

Laremy Tunsil is happy to be back at left tackle for the Dolphins.

The Patriots want rookie DT Josh Augusta to lose some weight.

The Jets waived/injured WR Brisly Estime after he tore his Achilles tendon.

TE Dennis Pitta is happy to still be with the Ravens.

CB KeiVarae Russell hopes for more playing time on the Bengals defense this time around.

A look at how Ryan Grigson fits into the Browns front office.

Steelers S Sean Davis isn’t lacking confidence.

WR DeAndre Hopkins is looking forward to learning from new Texans assistant Wes Welker.

The Colts defense has gotten a lot younger.

Jaguars LB Myles Jack continues to be mentored by Paul Posluszny.

Titans T Taylor Lewan has thrown his support behind the Predators’ push for a Stanley Cup.

Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas is feeling healthy this offseason.

Tyler Bray has been working as the No. 2 quarterback for the Chiefs.

The Raiders are looking for a full season from DE Mario Edwards this year.

G Donavon Clark wants to be a healthy contributor for the Chargers in his second season.

The signs continue to point to LB Jaylon Smith returning to the field for the Cowboys.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo fielded a lot of questions about Odell Beckham on Thursday.

QB Nick Foles had an eventful tour of the league before returning to the Eagles.

QB Kirk Cousins is getting used to a new set of Redskins receivers.

How much can WR Victor Cruz help the Bears?

Lions G T.J. Lang will hit the racetrack for the Detroit Grand Prix.

Ty Montgomery will remain a running back with a wideout’s number for the Packers.

Said Vikings rookie C Pat Elflein, “Yeah, that first meeting, going over the plays, that was my welcome to the NFL moment, especially being a center, you have to be able to use your brain and use it quickly and be decisive.”

Falcons owner Arthur Blank likes the relaxation of celebration penalties.

LB Luke Kuechly likes the veteran additions to the Panthers defense.

The Saints paid tribute to the late Cortez Kennedy at practice.

Watch Buccaneers QB Ryan Fitzpatrick solve a Rubik’s Cube.

Said Cardinals DL coach Brenston Buckner, “I’m not going to chew their food up and then give it to them. I’m going to teach you how to chew it yourself, because when you chew it yourself, you’ll be more satisfied.”

Outlining reasons for optimism about Rams QB Jared Goff.

Kyle Shanahan is growing more comfortable in his role as 49ers head coach.

How long until the Seahawks have all their rookies signed?

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Brandin Cooks would like some clarity on bow and arrow celebration

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The NFL eased the rules on celebrations this week, but shooting a bow and arrow may still be forbidden.

Last year the NFL fined and flagged players who mimed shooting a bow and arrow, saying there’s no place for pretending to have a weapon on the field. This year’s relaxed celebration rules still don’t allow anything relating to weapons, so it appears the bow and arrow is still outlawed.

Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks, who along with Josh Norman was among the players who employed the bow and arrow in celebrations, would like some clarity on whether or not it’s allowed.

It’s for God, so if that’s threatening, then I think we’ve got a problem, but I’m going to be respectful,” Cooks said. “If it’s a penalty, it’s a penalty. I’m not going to do anything to hurt the team.”

The NFL has specifically carved out an exception to the penalty against going to the ground for players who are going to the ground in prayer, so if Cooks says his celebration is religious in nature, perhaps the NFL will make an exception for him as well.

Regardless, even with the newly relaxed rules, players aren’t clear on exactly where the lines are drawn. There will be fewer celebration penalties this year, but the controversy isn’t going away entirely.

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Saints see “same old” Adrian Peterson

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Fullback John Kuhn saw a lot of Adrian Peterson while Kuhn was with the Packers watching Peterson run against the Green Bay defense as a member of the Vikings.

The two players are now part of the same backfield in New Orleans, something Kuhn said on Thursday that he dreamed about while standing on the opposite sideline. Kuhn also said that Peterson looks like that player despite the passage of time and accumulation of injuries over the years.

“He looks the same way he looked when I was watching him from the other sideline for all those years,” Kuhn said, via ESPN.com. “He looks like the same old AP, and I’m just excited to see him in the same team colors.”

One difference from the “same old AP” in Thursday’s practice was the way he factored into the offense as a receiver, something he didn’t do much in Minnesota. Coach Sean Payton said he looked comfortable and was “on top of the protections,” which are important traits for Peterson to have if he’s going to play a lot in an offense with Drew Brees at quarterback.

Peterson’s presence at the workouts also represented a different approach from the one he usually took with the Vikings as Peterson would often work out on his own during the voluntary stages of the offseason program. That’s likely part of the reason why Payton says the veteran has “picked things up well” and the Saints will hope that all continues to run smoothly once they’re doing more than running plays against air.

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Ryan Tannehill says ACL is fully healed and “totally normal”

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Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill chose to not have surgery on his partially torn ACL, and said that the ligament is healed thanks to stem cell treatments.

“Yeah, it’s really strong and ready to go,” Tannehill said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “I feel good. I’m feeling back to 100 percent.

Everything feels totally normal. I’m going to keep pushing to get better next year.”

Tannehill said he’d continue to wear a knee brace, and that he started feeling strong enough to rehab every day by January. Now, he said there are “no more checkpoints,” and he’s confident about going out in Organized Team Activities.

“I feel like I can make any cut,” he said. “I trust it. That’s the biggest thing, do you trust it? Are you able to move without thinking about whether something’s going to happen. Once it got to that point I felt great about it.”

Tannehill showed progress as a passer last year, and the injury late in the regular season left the Dolphins listless in the playoffs. And as long as he holds up, they should have a chance to build on that this year.

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Former NFL running back Michael Bennett gets five years in prison

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Former NFL running back Michael Bennett will spend the next five years in prison, after pleading no contest to felony charges of burglary and identity theft.

According to Filipa Ioannou of the San Francisco Chronicle, the 38-year-old Bennett took out $225,000 in loans in the name of his girlfriend’s parents. He broke into their home to steal paperwork he used to steal their identities and apply for the loans.

At the time of the incident, he was on probation in Florida for a wire fraud incident.

“The defendant used a position of trust within this victim’s family to exploit and take advantage of them,” district attorney Jill Ravitch said in a statement.

Bennett, the 27th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Vikings, was a former Pro Bowler. He also played for the Saints, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Chargers, and Raiders. He made the Pro Bowl after the 2002 season, when he ran for 1,296 yards. But injuries derailed his career after that, and he never rushed for more than 500 yards in any other season.

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It’s huge, jam-packed Friday PFT Live

The unofficial start of summer begins with, unofficially, one of the biggest PFT Live episodes we’ve had since the last time we had a really big episode of PFT Live.

As most of us embark on a three-day Memorial Day weekend (programming note: not us), a three-guest show gets you the football fix you need before you spend your time fixing up all sorts of grilled meats. We’ll speak live with former Jets and Browns coach Eric Mangini, along with Seth Wickersham of ESPN The Magazine, whose article about the Seahawks drew sharp reactions both from Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman and Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett.

The show also includes a two-part interview taped earlier this week with Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff. The segments come from a 70-minute, no-break sit-down from earlier in the week; the full audio has been posted as a PFT Live podcast, and the full video will be posted later today right here.

For right now, get to NBC Sports Radio at 6:00 a.m. ET, and then slide over to NBCSN for the two-hour simulcast.

For now, here’s a quick slice of the Dimitroff interview.

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Victor Cruz just wanted to be loved, feels it in Chicago

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It was clear from Victor Cruz’s recent remarks about his departure from the Giants that he wasn’t feeling loved by his old team.

His new one made sure he got the message.

During an appearance on ESPN Radio’s Waddle & Silvy show, the veteran wide receiver said he was greeted with open arms by the Bears.

“I just wanted to hear that I can have an opportunity to play,” Cruz said of the free-agent process. “To come and be a direct impact to a football team. And Chicago showed me a lot of love. . . . Everyone was adamant about how they felt I could contribute to the football team and be a factor immediately coming right in. And not just as a player but as someone who’s been around football a long time and can come in and provide an insight to different teams and different nuances of the game.

“And I think Chicago presented the best opportunity for me.”

The Bears certainly present that, as they lack proven options in the passing game after losing Alshon Jeffery to the Eagles in free agency. With former first-rounder Kevin White yet to make an impact, they needed targets for Mike Glennon or Mitchell Trubisky.

“I looked at that receiver room and I saw a lot of young guys and a lot of talent in there as well,” Cruz said. “A lot of guys that can benefit from just having someone like me in the room, to pick my brain and for me to tell them how I think we can get better.”

The 30-year-old Cruz said he has “a lot left in the tank” after seven seasons in New York, two of which were lost to knee and calf injuries. The Giants cut him in a cap-saving move this offseason, and he said yesterday that the team was trying to hold him down last year to make it easier to release him.

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Ravens holding Terrell Suggs out of OTAs

AP

The Baltimore Ravens fully understand its May and they don’t need to see anything from Terrell Suggs on the field at this stage of the offseason.

According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, the Ravens are holding the 34-year old linebacker out of the early stages of OTAs.

He probably could practice but I’m holding him out,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s in here training every single day and doing a great job on the conditioning part of it.”

Suggs sustained a torn biceps last October. Despite the injury, he missed just one game before returning the field and playing the rest of the season for the Ravens. He finished the year with 35 tackles and a team-high eight sacks.

The Ravens will need Suggs ready to go in September. They don’t need to see him on the field in May.

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Falcons visited league office to determine limits of OTA contact

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Last year, excessive contact during offseason workouts resulted in the Falcons losing a week of Organized Team Activities. This year, the Falcons left nothing to chance.

G.M. Thomas Dimitroff, appearing on a special 70-minute special edition of PFT Live, explained that he and coach Dan Quinn traveled to the league office to obtain specific guidance regarding the things that can and can’t be done during non-contact practices. The Falcons engaged in a comprehensive review of their offseason workouts with the NFL in order to determine the limits of the process.

For full details, check out the video. For the full, 70-minute interview with Dimitroff download and subscribe to PFT Live in Apple podcasts, audioBoom, and wherever else podcasts are sold. For free.

Money back guarantee.

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Report: Draft bust Justin Gilbert suspended four games

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One of the biggest draft busts in recent NFL history has seen his career dealt another blow.

Former Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert, the eighth overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, has been suspended four games, according to Courtney Fallon of NFL Network. There has been no word on the reason for the suspension.

Of course, a suspension only matters if the player has a team to play for, and Gilbert doesn’t. The Browns got rid of Gilbert after only two seasons, and the Steelers cut him this offseason. He’s been unemployed since.

It remains to be seen whether any team will want to pick Gilbert up now, or in the future. It’s possible that this player with Top 10 talent could be done at age 25.

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Malik McDowell signs with Seahawks

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The Seahawks have agreed to a contract with their top pick from this year’s draft.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team has signed defensive lineman Malik McDowell to a four-year deal. The Seahawks traded down three times before eventually selecting McDowell with the 35th overall pick.

McDowell had 24.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks at Michigan State and disrupted offenses on plenty of occasions during his time in East Lansing. There were also periods where McDowell was a non-factor, leading to critiques of his work ethic during the pre-draft process.

The best of McDowell would make him a good fit in the rotation up front for the Seahawks, who also added Nazair Jones to the mix in the third round.

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Jets sign Corey White

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The Jets continued retooling their secondary on Thursday.

The team announced that they have signed defensive back Corey White to their 90-man roster. They waived/injured wide receiver Brisly Estime in a corresponding move.

White has mainly played corner since entering the league as a fifth-round pick of the Saints in 2012. He spent last season with the Bills and had 30 tackles and two interceptions in 15 games with the Jets’ divisional mates. He’s also played with the Cowboys and Cardinals, although his time in Arizona came after Todd Bowles left to become the Jets’ head coach.

The Jets also used four draft picks on defensive backs and signed cornerback Morris Claiborne this offseason while cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Marcus Gilchrist were released.

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Buccaneers sign second-rounder Justin Evans

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The Buccaneers waited a while before signing their draft picks, but they have made quick work of it since getting the ball rolling.

First-round pick O.J. Howard signed his deal on Monday, three more picks agreed to terms on Tuesday and the team announced on Thursday that second-round safety Justin Evans has signed his contract as well. That leaves third-round wide receiver Chris Godwin as the only remaining unsigned pick in Tampa.

Evans started for Texas A&M the last two years and made an impression as a big hitter in the secondary for the Aggies. He also had four interceptions, so could wind up filling different roles for the Bucs depending on who else is on the field with him.

The Bucs also signed J.J. Wilcox as a free agent this offseason and the two newcomers will join Chris Conte and Keith Tandy in the mix for playing time at the back end of the defense.

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Sonny Randle, All-Pro receiver and college coach, dies at 81

Sonny Randle, one of the best players in the history of the Cardinals franchise and later a college head coach, has died at the age of 81.

A high school track star, Randle enrolled at the University of Virginia with little football experience and wasn’t even on the team as a freshman. But he made the team as a walk-on during his sophomore year and eventually became a star, leading the ACC in catches, receiving yards, kickoff return yards and all-purpose yards in 1958.

The Chicago Cardinals took early notice of Randle’s talent and used a 19th-round draft pick on him in 1958, even though he still had a year of college ahead of him. In those days, a team could draft a player who wasn’t done playing college football and own his rights until he finished his college career, and the Cardinals were happy to wait until he could sign a pro contract in 1959.

In 1960 the Cardinals moved to St. Louis and Randle became one of the top players in the league, leading the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns and earning first-team All-Pro recognition. He would have three more Pro Bowl seasons for the Cardinals after that, but injuries began to take their toll, and later in his career he bounced around the league in San Francisco, Dallas and Washington without matching the success he had in St. Louis.

Randle was a natural as a coach, starting while he was still an active player and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team noticed his speed and asked him to give baseball players instructions on sprinting techniques. Cardinals outfielder Lou Brock, who would go on to lead the National League in stolen bases eight times, said Randle helped him become a faster runner.

In retirement Randle became a college football coach and had a great deal of success early on, leading East Carolina to back-to-back Southern Conference championships. That got him hired at his alma mater, Virginia, but he struggled there and was fired after two losing seasons. He eventually got another shot as a head coach, at Marshall, but there were allegations of mistreatment of players, more losing, and he was fired again.

Randle found success later in life as a broadcaster, including working as a color commentator on Marshall games. He worked in broadcasting into his late 70s, retiring in 2014.

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