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Ray Horton: I think I’ll be a head coach this year

Ray Horton AP

Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton is one of the hottest head coaching candidates in the league with the Browns, Bills and his current team all talking to him already about their openings.

Horton spoke to reporters about the process on Wednesday, saying that he already has an offensive staff picked out that he would take with him to any head coaching job and that staying with the Cardinals would be his first choice. Horton also said that he didn’t feel he was just being used as a token candidate to fulfill teams’ obligations under the Rooney Rule.

“Oh, no question, no question. I think my background and the way the players have performed for me speaks for itself. I’ve been to five Super Bowls and been on No. 1 defenses and guys out here responded to me very well. So if you’re asking me do I think I’m going to be a head coach this year, I’ll say yes,” Horton said, via Kent Somers of AZ Central Sports. “I think the rule gives you an opportunity to expose yourself to somebody. Like I said, change is good and it exposes you to different ideas, which you are able to express to people.”

Somers has a transcript of Horton’s whole media session which is worth a read for anyone curious about the interview process to become an NFL head coach. Horton’s candid about what he talked to the Cardinals about, including thoughts on the team’s offense, and he certainly comes off as a well prepared candidate. Whether that’s enough to land him a job is something we’ll have to wait a bit longer to learn.

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Ron Wolf knows Holmgren failed in Cleveland because he couldn’t find a quarterback

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Soon, Ron Wolf will enter the Hall of Fame in Canton. Just up the road resides a team with which he has multiple connections.

In addition to a short stint with the Browns in 2004 that ended quickly because then-coach Butch Davis “got a bee up wherever one gets a bee up,” Wolf had a key role in recommending the hire of Mike Holmgren as CEO by former owner Randy Lerner.

So what went wrong in Cleveland for the guy who coached the Packers team Wolf built to a Super Bowl win?

It didn’t work,” Wolf tells the Canton Repository. “I don’t know the reason why it didn’t.”

And then Wolf touched on the potential reason..

“They tried to bring a quarterback in,” Wolf said. “They brought [Colt] McCoy in, and it didn’t work. They brought [Brandon] Weeden in, and it didn’t work.”

The decision to use a first-round pick on Weeden confused Wolf.

“I was shocked when they brought Weeden in only because, from being around Mike, his first thing about a quarterback was feet,” Wolf said. “It was the first thing Mike talked about . . . feet. That guy had no feet. . . .

“To me, the No. 1 tenet in the game is, you’ve got to have a quarterback. If you don’t have a quarterback, then you can’t play. They didn’t get that guy.”

The Browns are still looking for that guy, an admission that 2014 first-rounder Johnny Manziel likely won’t become that guy and an acknowledgement that veteran Josh McCown is merely the dog-paddle option while they keep searching for that guy.

As long as there are NFL teams looking for that guy, plenty of guys who already are that guy with another team will be paid plenty of dollars to keep that guy from becoming that guy with another team.

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Mike Tice: Trent Richardson’s “quickness came around”

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There’s no clearer sign that running back Trent Richardson’s career has not gone as planned than the fact that he’s starting his fourth NFL season on his third team after being the third overall pick by the Browns in the 2012 draft.

If there’s an optimistic spin to put on Richardson signing with the Raiders after an ineffective pair of years in Indianapolis following a trade with Cleveland for a first-round pick, it’s that Richardson will get a fresh start with a new coaching staff. While discussing all of the team’s options at running back, offensive line coach Mike Tice said that the Alabama product has made a good early impression in Oakland.

“Each one has their own style,” Tice said on Sirius XM NFL Radio, via the Raiders website. “I like the [Latavius] Murray kid. He really came on in that veteran mini-camp. He got his legs under him and showed some quickness, some good finish. I thought the young man out of Alabama came on. He lost some weight, his quickness came around.”

Richardson hasn’t gotten high marks on quickness in his first two stops, making Tice’s observation a step in the right direction for a player who hasn’t taken enough of them in the last three years.

The Raiders also have Roy Helu, whose “nice hands” got a compliment from Tice as well, so there’s plenty of competition for playing time in Oakland this season. Murray is at the top of that list, but Richardson may work himself into another chance if he can keep doing things that the coaching staff likes once camp gets underway.

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Packers issue statement on Andrew Quarless, saying little

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After Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was accused of firing two shots during an argument with a group of women, it wouldn’t have been at all surprising if the Packers had issued a statement saying they had cut him. So the Packers’ actual statement is good news for Quarless.

Instead of cutting him immediately, the Packers have issued the boilerplate statement that teams often issue when a player finds himself in off-field trouble.

“We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information. We will withhold further comment,” the team’s statement said.

Unless the “more information” the Packers gather shows that he’s been falsely accused, there’s still a very good chance he’s going to find himself unemployed before the start of training camp.

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Odell Beckham: One-handed catch “still a little crazy to me”

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Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham made several big plays during his rookie season, but any list of his highlights will start with his leaping, one-handed touchdown catch against the Cowboys on November 23.

The Giants lost the game, although that didn’t do anything to dim the luster of Beckham’s grab in the days, weeks and months after the game. In an interview to accompany his naked photos in ESPN the Magazine, Beckham said it is “unfortunate, in a way, to be known only for ‘the catch'” because of all the things he accomplished as a rookie.

Acclaim for Beckham’s rookie output went well beyond praise for that catch, which even Beckham finds it hard to believe he pulled off.

“When I watch it, I’m like, ‘Wow, that really happened!’ It’s still a little crazy to me. I envisioned myself making some kind of catch in the end zone, but I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be,” Beckham said. “You have to have a picture of what you want to do before you can do it — I learned that from [Cardinals safety] Tyrann Mathieu. I knew that I was capable of it, but just seeing it and the reaction to it, it was by far the craziest thing that has ever happened to me.”

As long as Beckham is healthy, something the team can’t take for granted after more hamstring trouble this offseason, there should be plenty more highlights to come in 2015. None of them may surpass his catch against the Cowboys, but it will be even harder to believe that anyone knows him just for one catch if he can replicate the rest of his 2014 work.

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Ronde Barber sees “zero fear” in Jameis Winston

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Former Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber struck plenty of fear in the hearts of quarterbacks, thanks to a level of versatility that made his approach to any given play unpredictable. But Barber apparently wouldn’t have rattled new Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, because Barber sees in Winston a guy who won’t get rattled.

[H]e plays with zero fear,” Barber recently said, via JoeBucsFan.com. “He’ll let go of any ball. He has that confidence.

“I’ve played against guys that have supreme confidence in themselves and their ability to make plays. You can already see it. He has no fear letting the ball go.”

Barber said he has seen fear from Winston’s predecessor at Florida State, EJ Manuel.

“He’s timid. He holds the ball,” Barber said of Manuel. “He’s scared to deliver it when he needs to. [Winston] is the complete opposite, maybe to a detriment at times. He throws a lot of interceptions.”

Despite the interception, Barber used what he dubbed a “tired-ass cliche” in saying Winston has “that ‘it,’ that bravado, that gunslinger mentality.”

Still, the mentality has to be matched by the physicality. Can Winston hold up between the white lines against the freakish athletes who play defense in the NFL? If the answer to that question is no, he’ll end up losing his bravado, quickly.

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Austin Collie catches TD in CFL debut

AFC Championship: New England Patriots Vs. Denver Broncos Getty Images

July is a very slow month in the NFL until training camps open and July 4 falling on Saturday means it has been even quieter than usual the last few days, but it was opening weekend for the B.C. Lions in the CFL.

That meant it was also time for wide receiver Austin Collie to get back on a field for a meaningful game since he was with the Patriots during the 2013 season. Collie’s NFL career, most of which was spent with the Colts, was derailed by concussions, but he’s healthy and made a positive impact in a losing cause for the Lions.

Collie caught five passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, suggesting he’s right to feel that his tank isn’t on empty yet.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s so much for the love of the game,” Collie said, via the Salt Lake Tribune. “I just felt like I wasn’t done. That feeling of not being done, that’s what kept my drive going.”

The Lions lost 27-16 to the Ottawa Redblacks in the debut for Collie and head coach Jeff Tedford, who was supposed to be the offensive coordinator in Tampa last year before a health problem kept him away from the team. Henry Burris, who had stints with the Packers and Bears, threw three touchdowns for Ottawa.

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Vick’s former dogfighting property returns to the spotlight

Vick AP

For multiple years, then-Falcons quarterback Mike Vick ran a dogfighting operation under the nose of Surry County, Virginia prosecutor Gerald Poindexter. Once the dogfighting operation was discovered, Poindexter created the impression in the opinion of some (including me) that he was dragging his feet, looking for a reason not to prosecute Vick. After the federal government swooped in an obtained an indictment, a guilty plea, and an admission from Vick that he had killed multiple dogs that were deemed unfit to fight, Poindexter still wasn’t even able to get an indictment from a grand jury on state-level charges of animal cruelty.

But Poindexter was able to initiate charges against the folks who transformed Vick’s property, the site of Bad Newz Kennels, into The Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.

As explained by the Associated Press, Poindexter filed charges against the group’s founder and executive director, Tamira Thayne, after authorities seized a pit bull from the facility. She was accused of animal cruelty and failure to provide adequate care to a companion animal, but a judge later ordered that the dog be returned. Poindexter then dropped the charges.

That wasn’t the end of it. Thayne has filed a federal lawsuit against Surry County chief animal control officer Tracy Terry and others. The lawsuit states that the charges were rooted in retribution.

“Thayne has been an outspoken critic of Surry County, Prosecutor Gerald Poindexter, and Surry County Animal Control’s anemic handling of the Michael Vick dogfighting enterprise and belated prosecution,” the civil complaint alleges.

The case is ongoing, and the Good Newz Rehab Center continues to operate, rescuing, rehabilitating, and adopting roughly 400 dogs. There are plans to expand Vick’s former property to house up to 50 dogs at a time.

Meanwhile, Vick continues to look for his next NFL opportunity, after five seasons with the Eagles and one with the Jets. There’s a belief that some teams have shied away from Vick and will continue to do so because of his dogfighting history. The publication of an AP story about his former dogfighting property during the NFL news void of Fourth of July weekend won’t make any teams that feel this way any more inclined to pursue him.

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Romo will move his fantasy football event to Los Angeles next year

Tony Romo AP

The NFL strong-armed Tony Romo into scrapping plans to host a fantasy football convention in Las Vegas. But Romo isn’t getting out of the fantasy football game.

Asked about the issue in an interview with his hometown newspaper in Burlington, Wisconsin, Romo said he was disappointed to miss the opportunity to interact with fans at the convention, but he’s going to do it again next year — in an NFL-approved venue.

“We just wanted a chance to have fans interact with their favorite players,” Romo said. “We’re going to do it next year in Los Angeles in 2016. It will be a chance to learn about fantasy football. You can learn about technique, why you should start someone versus certain coverages. Little things that the average person wouldn’t know the details on. It’d be neat to get out there and be up close with your favorite players. A bunch of Packers and Cowboys will be there. I still haven’t play fantasy football, but you see an avenue for the people to enjoy football.”

Romo was caught in the middle of the NFL’s seemingly contradictory efforts to embrace fantasy football while simultaneously distancing itself from gambling. Next year, when the league will likely be relocating a team to Los Angeles, the NFL will be all for Romo’s fantasy football event.

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Elvis Dumervil: If I get 23 sacks, we’ll be in Super Bowl

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Players can sometimes be criticized for putting individual goals ahead of team ones, but Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil has found a way to combine the two.

Dumervil enters this season 10 sacks shy of 100 for his career, but that’s not the major milestone that’s on his mind. Dumervil is taking aim at Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record by keeping a note with “23” written on it in his locker and he’s quick to point out that his motivation isn’t just about the accolades that would come from raising the bar.

“If I can hit that number, that’ll mean we’ll be in the Super Bowl for sure,” Dumervil said, via the Baltimore Sun. “You try to win games, you try to win championships. To me, there’s nothing more important, because you can have the stats and accolades, but if you’re sitting home, it really doesn’t do any justice.”

Dumervil was third in the NFL with 17 sacks last season, setting a new Ravens single-season record in the process, and he should continue to be a major threat to quarterbacks who also have to keep an eye on Dumervil’s teammate Terrell Suggs. Upping that number won’t be out of the question, although it will take more than a big year for Dumervil to land the Ravens a trip to Santa Clara next February.

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Sunday morning one-liners

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Five offensive playmakers to keep an eye on at Bills camp.

TE Arthur Lynch is hoping for a better second season with the Dolphins.

Seeing similarities between this year’s Patriots Defense and last year’s Lions unit.

QB Jake Heaps faces an uphill climb to make the Jets.

Breaking down the biggest questions about the Ravens.

DT Brandon Thompson could be a big part of the Bengals run defense.

Ron Wolf reminisced about his brief time with the Browns.

The Steelers have put together a team of their best players since 1992.

Five pass rushers the Texans will have to tangle with this season.

The Colts celebrated July 4 with a montage of national anthems.

Jaguars director of pro personnel Chris Driggers has been with the team since the beginning.

Five things to keep in mind regarding the Titans and QB Marcus Mariota.

Broncos players have kept tattoo artist Ortavio Griego busy in recent years.

The Chiefs are highlighting TE Travis Kelce’s best plays from last season.

Ten of the best quotes from late Raiders owner Al Davis.

How big a problem will TE Antonio Gates’s absence be for the Chargers?

Cowboys QB Tony Romo was nervous about throwing a pass to Luke Bryan during the Country Music Awards.

A look at the potential role for fullbacks in the Giants Offense.

The Eagles will miss facing some top defensive players thanks to suspensions early in the season.

Which Redskins backups could move into the starting lineup?

CB Kyle Fuller is learning his second scheme in as many years with the Bears.

Lions CB Darius Slay is acting as a mentor to rookie Alex Carter.

Looking ahead to training camp with Packers president Mark Murphy.

Reviewing a decade of Vikings ownership by the Wilf family.

The Falcons are one of the teams with a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

Amini Silatolu could be a key player on the Panthers offensive line.

A pre-camp preview of Saints WR Seantavius Jones.

What’s the deepest position on the Buccaneers roster?

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is one of many practitioners of deception in the world of sports.

Musing about whether the addition of QB Nick Foles makes the Rams a playoff team.

S Craig Dahl is one of the 49ers veterans who will be fighting for jobs at training camp.

Is Seahawks RB Christine Michael on the roster bubble?

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Dwayne Bowe: Josh McCown has my confidence high right now

2015 Cleveland Browns Mini Camp Practice Getty Images

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe last scored a touchdown during the Chiefs’ 45-44 playoff loss to the Colts in January 2014, but he expects the drought to end once he takes the field for the Browns in a regular season game for the first time.

Bowe is expected to play a prominent role in the Cleveland offense with Josh Gordon suspended for the 2015 season and he says he’s up for the job. Bowe said he’ll play “touchdown man” in Gordon’s absence and that last year’s shutout in the end zone was a product of a lack of opportunities once Kansas City was close to scoring. It’s an assessment that Browns wide receivers coach Joker Phillips agrees with and one Bowe feels will change with Josh McCown at the controls of the offense.

“That’s what I’m going to show you guys,” Bowe said, via Cleveland.com. “It’s going to be exciting, especially with a new uniform, a new city, new everything, I’m going to feel good. With Alex Mack and Joe Thomas, we’re going to have a lot of time to hit that deep ball even in the red zone. I never had a quarterback like Josh that was that tall and could see the mismatch and really go to it. He’s got my confidence level high right now.”

Bowe has averaged about 59 catches and 743 yards per season over the last three years as the top receiver with the Chiefs, numbers that don’t scream replacement for Gordon for an offense that badly needs one. Bowe’s suggests that’s because his production was adversely impacted by the overall offense in Kansas City, something that should be put to the test early in the 2015 season.

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Jay Gruden says RG3 has grown, thanks to his new QB coach

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In his first year as the head coach in Washington, Jay Gruden figured he could coach the quarterbacks himself. Gruden was a college and arena football quarterback, and he wanted to take a hands-on approach to the most important position.

But after franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III struggled last season, Gruden decided he needed an assistant who could spend all his time coaching the quarterbacks. So Gruden hired a full-time quarterbacks coach, Matt Cavanaugh. Gruden says he can already see that Griffin is benefiting from Cavanaugh’s presence.

“Now we have a set of eyes strictly on the quarterback, and I think that’s important,” Gruden said, via Richmond.com. “Every snap, every handoff, every dropback is being critiqued to make sure we do it the right way, and I think that’s been a big benefit for Robert.”

Cavanaugh spent 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback for the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles and Giants, and has spent 23 seasons as a quarterbacks coach, first at his alma mater the University of Pittsburgh, and then for the Cardinals, 49ers, Bears, Ravens and Jets. Griffin agrees that he’s benefiting from Cavanaugh’s knowledge.

“Bringing all that knowledge and experience, I think it’s helping everybody,” Griffin said. “He’s been with a lot of different teams and a lot of different offenses, and he knows a lot of different ways to get from point A to point B, and I think that helps us and helps me as a quarterback to go out there and see everything.”

Griffin’s 2014 season was a huge disappointment. Cavanaugh’s job is to get Griffin ready to turn things around in 2015.

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Quarless allegedly fired shots during argument with group of women

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More details have emerged regarding the Miami misadventures of Packers tight end Andrew Quarless. And they don’t make the situation any better for Quarless.

According to the Miami New Times, the police report claims Quarless fired two shots — one into the air — from a semiautomatic .45 caliber handgun during an argument with a group of women.

The argument happened as Quarless and another man were leaving a parking garage in a Porsche Panamera (product placement!). The men approached another car containing several women. An attendant at the parking garage heard one of the women yell, “No, get away, leave me alone!”

According to the police report, Quarless produced the gun and fired two shots, one straight into the sky. One of the women later told police that Quarless fired the shots “in an attempt to emphasize his dominance and manhood.”

The parking attendant called police. According to the police report, Quarless left the Porsche and tried to hide the gun in a potted plant. Police found the gun and matched the shells found at the garage with the gun.

Quarless is charged only with a misdemeanor, but that won’t matter to 345 Park Avenue. Firing a weapon twice in public — including the firing of a round into the air — during a dispute with a group of women Quarless didn’t know will undoubtedly provoke harsh consequences in the post-Ray Rice NFL.

It also could provoke the Packers to consider dumping Quarless and his $1.3 million salary, unless they’re willing to pay him to not play, because Quarless is likely headed for paid leave pending the resolution of his case.

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Josh Robinson has partially torn pectoral muscle

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The good news? Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson has more time to tweet. The bad news? Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson has more time to tweet.

Per multiple reports, Robinson has a partially torn pectoral muscle. The injury happened before the team’s mandatory minicamp last month.

It’s unclear when Robinson will be ready to practice or to play.

The fourth-year veteran appeared in 16 games last season, working mainly in the nickel package. If he can’t play, it means that the Vikings will need more from Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn, 36-year-old Terence Newman, and rookie Trae Waynes.

Robinson was recently in the news for controversial remarks following the Supreme Court’s decision allowing gay marriage. Robinson compared homosexuality to pedophilia in a tweet that he deleted and for which he later apologized.

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Report: Andrew Quarless arrested in Miami for firing a gun, twice

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Another Packers player may not be available as of Week One.

With Datone Jones suspended and Letroy Guion likely the next to be disciplined, Green Bay tight end Andrew Quarless has joined the march to the sidelines after reportedly being arrested in Miami on Saturday morning.

According to the Miami New Times, Quarless was involved in a fight at South Beach, which allegedly prompted him to fire a gun twice into the ground. He tried to flee, but Quarless was apprehended by a pair of police officers.

A spokesman for the Miami Police Department confirmed the arrest and its detail to the New Times. An incident report is expected to be released later today.

Under the new Personal Conduct Policy, Quarless could be headed for paid leave pending the resolution of these charges and the imposition of league discipline. Thereafter, he’d potentially serve an unpaid suspension.

Quarless appeared in 16 games with 11 starts in 2014, catching 29 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns.

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