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Browns interview Ken Whisenhunt

Ken Whisenhunt AP

Days after he was fired by the Cardinals, Ken Whisenhunt has had his second interview for a new job.

Whisenhunt interviewed Wednesday with the Browns about their head coaching vacancy, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner traveled to Arizona for the interview, although it is believed that the primary reason they went there is to interview Oregon coach Chip Kelly, whose team plays in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona on Thursday night.

The Browns are also interviewing Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone. Whisenhunt has also interviewed with the Bills.

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Browns admit to “strong feelings” about “timing and process” of Gordon decision

Farmer AP

The Browns shouldn’t be happy that it took more than three months for the NFL to resolve the status of receiver Josh Gordon.  And they aren’t.

“While we may have strong feelings on the timing and the process of this decision, we have also consistently communicated that we will focus on what we can control in our day-to-day approach,” G.M. Ray Farmer said in a statement issued by the team.  “Right now that is preparing our team for the 2014 season and at the same time, supporting Josh however we are able under NFL guidelines during his suspension.”

That’s a polite way of saying, “We’re pissed that it took this long to get an answer.”

But as the Browns focus on what they can control, the fact remains that the Browns could have controlled trading Gordon last year (they chose not to) or drafting Sammy Watkins in May (they chose to trade the pick).

Without Gordon, the depth chart now features Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, and a collection of no-names.  The Browns possibly will find someone who is cut by another team, or maybe swing a trade.  Either way, the receiver position quickly has become a weakness.

Although the Browns arguably (if not actually) were jerked around by the league, they knew this was coming.

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Today, Jerry Jones says season will be “uphill battle”

Jerry Jones AP

It was only about 24 hours ago that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was talking about the “glitz and glamour,” of his team.

(We just kind of assume at this point he’s always thinking about glory hole too.)

But today, he was signing a different tune, painting a less shiny picture of what might be about to happen to his team.

At the team’s kickoff luncheon (rarely the kind of event that brings realism, much less pessimism), Jones told his players: “our back’s up against the wall.”

You know that we have an uphill battle this year,” Jones said, via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com. “And we do have an uphill battle. But most of you had an uphill battle when you came to camp. Most of you did. And some of you have absolutely rose to the occasion.”

It’s hard to find too many who are optimistic about their chances, coming off three straight 8-8 seasons, with no real improvement to a defense that wasn’t good to begin with.

And the fact Dr. Jones himself is tempering the expectations now shouldn’t be a good sign.

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With Christine Michael injured, Seahawks bring back a back

Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

We knew the Seahawks performed the man-bites-dog act of claiming a Jaguars player last night, but a new injury forced another move today.

The team announced the re-signing of running back Demetrius Bronson and the waiver claim of center Patrick Lewis today, and the release of linebacker Marcus Dowtin and guard Greg Van Roten.

Bronson was cut Monday, but they needed him back after running back Christine Michael tweaked his hamstring in practice Tuesday. As a result, he isn’t expected to play in the preseason finale tomorrow night.

And more than likely, Bronson will find his name in the transactions again soon, but not before he gets a last chance to make an impression — on the Seahawks or someone else.

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Pete Carroll: We’re trying to do things exactly right

Pete Carroll AP

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed Wednesday that reports of a minicamp fight involving cornerback Richard Sherman were the impetus for a NFL review of their offseason practices that found the team violated the rules governing contact at those workouts, but said that the team was not intentionally trying to flout the rules.

Carroll said that “we’re trying to do things exactly right” in terms of what goes on during practices after being penalized on the same grounds in 2012, but the league thought otherwise after asking to see film of the practice in question and others from the team’s minicamp. That review led to a reported fine of over $100,000 for Carroll personally and more than $200,000 for the team as well as the loss of minicamp days next year. Carroll said he didn’t feel like the Seahawks were being victimized by receiving a second penalty.

“No, I don’t feel like the victim. No, I don’t at all. I think that we practice in a manner that draws attention, and we have for a long time. And I go back: A year ago and halfway through this camp, when they observed what was going on, they said everything was just fine so we kept going and just kept working. I was really pleased with that but unfortunately it went otherwise when we got to mini camp.”

Carroll wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the penalty, although we’d imagine he could think of better uses for the money he owes the league.

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Bengals announce Burfict extension

Burfict Getty Images

It took awhile, but it’s finally official.

The Bengals have announced that linebacker Vontaze Burfict has signed a new deal.  It puts him under contract through 2017.

Burfict, the NFL’s leading tackler in 2013, was eligible for a new deal because he wasn’t drafted.  It’s a strange donut hole in the current labor deal, which forces incoming rookies to wait three years to renegotiate, if drafted.

“Vontaze is a special talent; he has shown us that from his first day here,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “He is a load physically and he’s extremely competitive, but what really makes him stand out is the instinct and feel he has for the game. It’s something born in him, you can’t coach a player to naturally react the way he does in all situations. This signing is a great move for the future of our defense.”

“It’s unusual to sign a player this early in his career to a contract extension, but Vontaze is a player who merits this,” executive vice president Katie Blackburn said. “He has proven to be an exceptional find for us, and we are happy to reward him now for his accomplishments. It’s good for him and good for our team.”

Burfict plunged through the draft due to a variety of concerns, from a failed drug test at the Scouting Combine to questions regarding whether he could control his temper on the field to a bad performance (both on the field and before the media) in Indianapolis to a bad Pro Day.  Mike Mayock described Burfict at one point as non-draftable.  Burfict remained optimistic, despite getting no pre-draft visits or workouts.

The Bengals didn’t draft Burfict, but they took a chance on him as an undrafted free agent.  It paid off for the Bengals, and it’s now paying off for Burfict.

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Tommy Kelly signing with Cardinals

Tommy Kelly AP

The Cardinals continued their search for help on the defensive line in the wake of Darnell Dockett’s ACL tear by bringing defensive tackle Tommy Kelly to town for a visit on Wednesday and it looks like they had more luck with him than Brett Keisel.

PFT has learned that Kelly will be signing with the Cardinals a couple of days after he was released by the Patriots.

Kelly is coming off an ACL tear of his own in 2013 and wasn’t able to convince the Patriots that he was worth bringing back for another season. He’ll get at least a few days to give the Cardinals a reason to draw a different conclusion. Kelly had 22 tackles and 2.5 sacks in five games last season before getting hurt last year.

Frostee Rucker is getting the first look at Dockett’s spot for the Cardinals, who also signed Isaac Sopoaga since Dockett was injured.

UPDATE 4:02 p.m. ET: The Cardinals have announced that Kelly signed a one-year deal and that they have released defensive tackle Ryan McBean to make room for him on their 75-man roster.

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How will the Browns do without Josh Gordon?

Browns Getty Images

They could have traded him last year, for a second-round draft pick and more.  They could have drafted Sammy Watkins to replace him.

They did neither, and now the Browns will proceed without a clear-cut No. 1 receiver.

So how will the Browns do without Josh Gordon?  Answer the poll question below, and then tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET for the answer on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk.

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Jeff Fisher still angry at ESPN over shower coverage

New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

ESPN has already apologized for its out-of-line story about Michael Sam’s showering habits.

But that’s not necessarily enough for Rams coach Jeff Fisher.

Via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fisher is still quite angry with reporter Josina Anderson and her employer about the story, even after getting a follow-up apology call from ESPN president John Skipper.

I’m extremely disappointed in her piece,” Fisher said. “I think it’s unethical. I think it’s very, very unprofessional. Not only the piece itself, the content. The manner in which she did it.”

Part of Fisher’s displeasure is apparently with Anderson’s talking to players away from the team facility. Coaches don’t like anything that happens outside their controlled little world, and for that, Anderson behaved like every other professional reporter who covers the NFL.

“She was out of line because she went and contacted several players on their personal time,” Fisher said. “Misled them with questions and then put this piece together. . . .

“I’m disappointed for Mike. I’m disappointed for the players who she put in this position, and mostly I’m disappointed for her because she felt what she was doing was right — and it wasn’t right.”

Rams defensive end Chris Long followed up the initial report with a Twitter message which read: “Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it.”

We wish that was the truth.

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Sheldon Richardson: Eli Manning is watching the rush

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The dismal state of the Giants offense has been a frequent topic of conversation this preseason and the starters will be out there for a while in the fourth preseason game in hopes of working out the kinks before the results start to count in the standings.

Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson got an up close look at the Giants offense in last Friday’s preseason game and identified one thing that’s not working for the tenants of the other home locker room at MetLife Stadium. Richardson said that he thought quarterback Eli Manning, who struggled for most of the first half before leading a touchdown drive just before halftime, was spending too much time thinking about the guys trying to sack him.

“Got some kinks to work out, you can notice that stuff, little stuff like that — it’s to the point where he don’t trust his offensive line that much, ’cause he’s watching the rush,” Richardson said, via the New York Post. “Little stuff like that.”

Manning took a pounding last season with 39 sacks and a plethora of other hits allowed by a leaky offensive line, which the Giants worked hard to upgrade this offseason. That’s still a work in progress and Manning has looked understandably unsure of his protection this summer as a result.

That can’t continue if the Giants offense is going to rebound this season, so that offensive line is going to have to come together quickly.

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Chargers announcer suspended for anti-Semitic comment

hankbauer

Hank Bauer, a longtime broadcaster for San Diego Chargers games, has been suspended after making an anti-Semitic comment on the air last week.

After Bauer’s on-air partner Josh Lewin said at the end of last week’s game that he wouldn’t leave a game early if he had paid for the ticket, Bauer made a joke implying that Lewin is cheap because he’s Jewish.

As a result, Bauer is suspended for this week’s preseason finale. The Chargers issued a statement saying it was the broadcaster Clear Channel, not the team, that suspended Bauer.

“Although we know Hank had no ill-will behind his remarks, we agree the comments were inappropriate. Per Clear Channel’s decision, Hank will not be broadcasting Thursday night’s game,” the statement said. “Hank has been a strong radio voice for the Chargers for the past 16 years and a passionate supporter of the team since his playing days. We look forward to Chargers fans receiving the same high-quality broadcast from Josh and Hank when he returns to the booth for the regular season.”

Bauer apologized on Twitter.

“I made a hurtful insinuation that I regret and I would like to express how sorry I am. My poor choice of words were unfortunately open for negative interpretation, please know it was never my intention to offend any of my listeners. I hope you accept my apology,” Bauer wrote.

Bauer was a running back for the Chargers from 1977 to 1982, spent four seasons with the team as an assistant coach and has been broadcasting in San Diego for 27 years.

Photo via KGTV.

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Report: Lardarius Webb restructures deal

Lardarius Webb AP

Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb hasn’t been able to help the team on the field this summer because of a back injury, but he has reportedly been able to help out with their salary cap.

Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that Webb has agreed to restructure his deal with the Ravens by converting $4 million of his $7.5 million base salary into a signing bonus. That allows the Ravens to drop further under the cap now and spread out the cap hit over the three remaining years on his contract.

If there’s an immediate reason for the Ravens to want extra cap space, it could be to sign an extension with one of the team’s other players. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, wide receiver Torrey Smith and kicker Justin Tucker are a few of the candidates for a new deal and the Ravens could use their new cap space to reach a deal with one or more of those players.

That’s a concern for the front office. Webb’s top priority is getting healthy and back on the field to help an ailing cornerback corps that added Derek Cox to the mix on Tuesday.

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Gordon may apply for reinstatement after 2014 season

Gordon Getty Images

The good news for the Browns and Josh Gordon is that hearing officer Harold Henderson ultimately didn’t apply the substance-abuse policy as written regarding the duration of Gordon’s suspension.  The bad news is that Gordon will still miss the full season.

But Gordon may be reinstated before August 27, 2015, which would mean that the supposedly mandatory one-year suspension contained in the policy won’t be enforced in this case.

While it does nothing to help Gordon or the Browns in 2014, it means that he could be back with the team in time to better prepare for 2015.  If the policy had been applied as written, Gordon would not have been back until August 27, 2015.

Of course, Gordon must stay clean over the next several months and beyond, passing up to 10 drug tests per month.  If he fails before he’s reinstated, he may not be reinstated.  If he fails after, he’ll face another lengthy suspension.

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Gordon considers all options, including legal action

Gordon AP

Now that the NFL has suspended receiver Josh Gordon for the 2014 regular season (and, if the substance-abuse policy is applied as written, a full calendar year), the question becomes whether Gordon will continue to fight the ban.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, all options currently are on the table, including legal action.

Any lawsuit would face an immediate and aggressive challenge from the NFL under the Federal Arbitration Act, which requires courts to respect the outcome of private litigation.  Only in rare circumstances can a court throw out the results of a private arbitration procedure, and the standard for scuttling the outcome is high.

Gordon’s best bet could be to fashion a plausible legal theory and attempt to secure a so-called “preliminary injunction,” which would prevent the NFL from implementing the suspension under the litigation concludes.  Former Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams successfully delayed, but failed to defeat, a suspension in the StarCaps case.

If litigation is going to be filed, it needs to be filed soon.  At this point, there’s a chance it will be.

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Loss of Gordon = more targets, more $ for Jordan Cameron

6f11daf55c23d26ef60221bfc4b0b313 AP

The big losers in the Josh Gordon suspension, other than Gordon, are the Browns.

But Browns *tight end Jordan Cameron could benefit handsomely from this, on the field and at the teller’s window.

The Pro Bowl pass-catcher is now clearly the Browns’ most capable receiving target, and should have the opportunity to put up monster numbers since the Browns don’t many reliable options in the passing game.

While they wait for Miles Austin’s hamstring to explode or Nate Burleson to go out for a pizza or for Andrew Hawkins to develop into something other than a complementary slot player, Cameron should get all the looks from Brian Hoyer and/or Johnny Manziel.

That’s good news for a guy going into the final year of his rookie contract.

Cameron said recently that talks toward an extension were “going well,” and there are many reasons to take care of him now.

Not only do the Browns need to dilute (pun intended) the impact of the bad news about losing the league’s leading receiver from last year, they need to make sure they don’t lose Cameron a year from now, when Gordon might come back.

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Cam Newton: “No doubt” I’m playing in Week One

Cam Newton AP

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s preseason work was probably over after the third preseason game under any circumstances, but a rib injury suffered against the Patriots last weekend made it a certainty.

An MRI found a hairline fracture that Newton said on Wednesday affects several ribs, leaving him with some healing up to do before the regular season. The quarterback is adamant that the injury won’t keep him from answering the bell against the Bucs on September 7.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Newton said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I’m just going to worry about things that I can control. I’m going to continue to come in and get as much treatment as possible so my body will be 100 percent.”

Coach Ron Rivera delivered a similar message on Wednesday, adding that the team wouldn’t be taking zone read plays out of the playbook while Newton is dealing with the rib injury. That’s likely the best thing for the Panthers’s chances of winning, but those runs and the team’s shaky offensive line mean that Newton will be at some risk of further injury once he does return to the lineup.

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