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Giants ditch Albany, move training camp to team facility


The New York Giants are leaving their traditional training camp home of the University at Albany to train at their regular-season home in New Jersey.

The team told Albany officials this week that training camp will now be at the Timex Performance Center, where the team trains year round. That ends a 17-year tradition of having training camp in Albany.

“The University at Albany and the Capital Region have been great hosts for us during our training camps,” Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said in a joint statement. “UAlbany truly has been the summer home of the Giants.”

But it will be the summer home of the Giants no longer. And although there has been no word on fan access at 2013 training camp, at first blush this would appear to be bad news for fans: Training camps at campus settings usually allow for much better fan experiences than training camps at team facilities.

At least now there will be no complaints about uncomfortable mattresses.

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Bills add quarterback Nathan Peterman

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The Bills were expected to select a quarterback at some point in the 2017 NFL draft, and in the fifth round they finally did.

Buffalo chose Nathan Peterman of Pittsburgh with the 171st overall pick.

The Bills are committed to Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback for now, but Peterman is a developmental prospect who could become a starter at some point.

Beyond Taylor the Bills have Cardale Jones, T.J. Yates and Josh Woodrum on the roster at quarterback. Now they can feel free to toss Peterman into the mix.

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Mike Mayock doesn’t hide his contempt for draft’s circus atmosphere


There was a time when it went without saying that the NFL draft was only for the hardest of hard-core football fans: Who on earth would spend a spring day watching football players’ names being called except people who live and breathe football?

But that time has passed, and not everyone who lives and breathes football is happy about it.

Now the NFL has turned the draft into a massive event, one that draws tens of thousands of fans in person and several million viewers on television. Just as the Super Bowl now includes musical acts that hard-core football fans don’t care about, the NFL draft now includes picks being announced from locales around the world and even in outer space, all in an effort to make the draft a bigger event that appeals to more than just the hard-core fans who have always watched.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, about as hard-core a football fan as there is, got fed up with it today. As the Colts’ picks were announced with help from an orangutan at the Indianapolis Zoo, Mayock ripped his employer’s attempt to inject some levity into the proceedings.

“If we’re going back to the zoo, I’m walking off the desk,” Mayock said. “I’ve about had the zoo, OK? Enough. Enough. I mean, is this good TV?”

NFL Network’s Rich Eisen introduced the zoo segment with some sarcasm, saying, “If we don’t go to the zoo, the world will stop spinning.”

When the orangutan revealed the Colts’ selection of defensive tackle Grover Stewart, Mayock indicated he thought it was unfair to Stewart to turn one of the most significant moments of his life into a circus.

“I think we’ve got to be a little respectful,” Mayock said. “It’s a big day for Grover Stewart, and rather than talking about that chimp, let’s get back to some football here. It’s a big day for him.”

As NFL Network went to a commercial after that, Mayock could be heard saying, “At some point we’ve got to be able to talk about this.” It wasn’t clear if he was saying that to the audience or if he thought the commercial break had already begun and was saying it to his colleagues. Either way, he raises an important point: The NFL wants to grow the draft, but as it does so, it risks leaving its most passionate fans disillusioned.

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Broncos grab Jake Butt

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Tight end Jake Butt’s college career ended with a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl, which led to a draft drop for a player projected to be picked in the first couple of rounds before he was injured.

Butt was able to cushion the fall thanks to an insurance policy and it came to an end at the start of the fifth round. The Broncos took Butt with the 145th overall pick and first selection of the fifth round.

Butt won the Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end last year and caught 138 passes for 1,646 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Wolverines over his career. It will be some time before the Broncos know when Butt will be able to get on the field, but playing time should be available if he can play at the same level as he did before getting hurt.

Michigan has now had 10 players selected in this year’s draft. It’s the first time since 1974 that they’ve had that many players picked.

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DeDe Westbrook denies being kicked out of a Scouting Combine interview

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After the Jaguars picked receiver DeDe Westbrook in the fourth round of the draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay said a team kicked Westbrook out of one of the 15-minute Scouting Combine interviews.

Westbrook denies that.

“I don’t think I was necessarily kicked out of a Combine interview,” Westbrook told reporters after he was picked.

Asked more broadly what happened, Westbrook said, “I have no idea. I’m not aware of that.”

G.M. Dave Caldwell separately said Westbrook has “no margin for error” regarding off-field issues, and Westbrook agrees.

“At the end of the day that’s up to me, and I’ve overcome adversity many times in my life and it’s just another chance for me to overcome it,” Westbrook said. “I thank the Jacksonville Jaguars for giving me the opportunity to do that in their organization.”

Caldwell added that Westbrook likely will play in the slot, and that he could have the same type of role as 2016 Chiefs draft pick Tyreek Hill.

“This is a guy that was a Biletnikoff Award winner, fourth in the Heisman running, averaged 18 yards per catch,” Caldwell said. “He is a punt returner. He is a dynamic athlete, speed and with the ball in his hands. Sitting there in the fourth round, he was a guy sticking out there on the board.”

So how did they get past the off-field issues, which included multiple allegations of criminal wrongdoing?

“We did a lot of work on it,” Caldwell said. “All the way back to his high school days. We have some really good sources there at Oklahoma that I have known for a long period of time. The football aspect of it is really good. Obviously he has had some issues early in his career. We feel that is behind and that has to be behind him.”

Caldwell sounds comfortable with the potential for scrutiny arising from the decision to pick Westbrook.

“I think we have done our due diligence enough to realize that is behind him and that, like we said, all of those charges were dropped,” Caldwell said. “I think we all have been accused of things, not all of us, but many of us have been accused of things. We don’t take it lightly. Obviously it is a serious issue, and we just feel like at this point in time to give the kid a chance to make it right.”

If he doesn’t, he won’t be in Jacksonville for long. And the Jaguars will have wasted a fourth-round pick.

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Cards fourth-round pick Dorian Johnson not worried about liver condition

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His exact spot varied from list to list, but many pre-draft rankings had guard Dorian Johnson listed as a possible pick on the second day of this year’s draft, but he remained on the board until the Cardinals took him in the fourth round with the 115th overall pick.

The biggest reason why Johnson was still available at that point is a liver condition that Johnson has had since birth. Johnson’s agent Joe Panos told Adam Caplan of ESPN that teams told him they passed on Johnson earlier “even though his heptalogist said his condition will in no way affect his ability to play.”

Johnson said that it has never caused him problems in the past and doesn’t anticipate it will in the future.

“I have no issues with it,” Johnson said, via the Cardinals website, “I’m absolutely not worried about it at all.”

Johnson started 42 games at Pittsburgh and could compete for a starting job in Arizona as a rookie.

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Cowboys finally get another Switzer

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The last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl, the head coach’s name was Barry Switzer. They’ve now added a player with the same last name, but no relation.

North Carolina receiver Ryan Switzer, a West Virginia native (of course I’m going to mention that), has arrived via round four of the draft.

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky recently praised praised Switzer during a visit to PFT Live. Switzer has sure hands and quick feet, but the decision is a bit of a head scratcher with Cole Beasley already manning the slot in Dallas.

Switzer, who ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, also can return punts for the Cowboys.

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Steelers draft quarterback Josh Dobbs

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If Ben Roethlisberger really plans to retire soon, the Steelers may have just found his successor.

Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs went to the Steelers in the fourth round of the NFL draft, with the 135th overall pick.

Dobbs is perhaps the smartest quarterback in this year’s draft, an aerospace engineering major who says learning an NFL playbook should be a breeze after the kind of studying he’s done in college. On the field, Dobbs says he has learned a lot from picking the brain of his fellow Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning.

Although he wasn’t always a consistent passer at Tennessee, Dobbs has the physical tools and the smarts to be an NFL starter. He’ll be a third-stringer behind Roethlisberger and Landry Jones at first, but he may have a big role in the Steelers’ future.

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49ers make another trade, add another running back

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Before the 49ers made their first pick of the final day of the draft, they made a trade with the Broncos that landed them running back Kapri Bibbs.

Adding Bibbs didn’t completely satisfy their desire to bolster their backfield, however. They traded the 143rd and 161st picks in this year’s draft to the Colts for the 121st pick and used it on Utah running back Joe Williams.

Williams played an abbreviated season in 2016 after giving up football for part of the year. Williams said his decision to walk away from the game resulted from his need to deal with the death of his seven-year-old sister and the time off didn’t seem to hurt his game as he ran for the majority of his 1,407 yards and scored all 10 of his touchdowns after returning to the Utes in October.

Williams and Bibbs join Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, DuJuan Harris and Mike Davis in a crowded backfield. Given how much the 49ers have been trading during this draft — six deals thus far — that could change before the day is out.

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Samaje Perine heads to Washington

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Former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon received plenty of attention prior to and during the draft. To some extent, that diminished the amount of attention that could have been (and should have been) paid to fellow former Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine.

Perine, who set an NCAA single-game record with 427 yards in 2014, has exited the board in round four, and he’ll start his NFL career in Washington.

With Matt Jones on the block, it very well could be Rob Kelley and Perine sharing touches in 2017. Perine made it clear during a recent visit to PFT Live that he has no problem with doing that, given that he eventually did it with Mixon in Norman.

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Air Force draft hopeful Jalen Robinette required to serve on active duty

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Air Force receiver Jalen Robinette was expected to be drafted today, but a policy preventing him from deferring military service may change that.

The Air Force Academy said in a statement that Robinette or any other player drafted will be required to serve on active duty for two years, meaning his NFL career wouldn’t be able to start until the 2019 season at the earliest.

“The Air Force notified Academy officials [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military service commitments for cadet athletes,” the statement said, via the Denver Post. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve status, which would permit their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Last year the Department of Defense adopted a new policy that allowed service academy athletes to serve in the reserves, rather than active duty, so that they could begin their athletic careers immediately after graduating. That policy worked out well for Ravens receiver Keenan Reynolds and long snapper Joe Cardona, both of whom were allowed to go straight from the Naval Academy to the NFL.

But the policy handled players’ requests on a case-by-case basis, and while the Naval Academy allowed Reynolds and Cardona to play, the Air Force Academy is not allowing Robinette to play. Barring a change in policy, Robinette won’t play in the NFL until 2019.

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Jaguars take a chance on DeDe Westbrook

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DeDe Westbrook is in for a rude awakening.

The former Oklahoma receiver, with multiple behavior questions that surely caused him to drop, has landed in Jacksonville near the top of the fourth round of the draft. In Jacksonville, he’ll have both executive V.P. of football operations Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone laying down the law.

Westbrook tried to distinguish himself from guys like Joe Mixon at the Scouting Combine.

“I got in some trouble and I did some things as well, but I was never convicted of anything,” Westbrook told reporters in Indianapolis. “Like, I’ve been to jail, but all the charges [were] dropped. I have no pending charges or anything. So I think I’m just like you.”

Sure, but for the “been to jail” part. And also for the “kicked out of a job interview part.” During ESPN’s coverage of the draft, Todd McShay said Westbrook was actually ejected from one of the 15-minute team interviews.

Westbrook was accused in 2012 of throwing the mother of his two children to the ground. He was accused in 2013 of biting her arm and punching her in the face. Last year, he was arrested for criminal trespass.

There will be no gray away in the land of two-toned football helmets. Westbrook will either comply fully and completely with the standards of behavior that Coughlin and Marrone demand, or he’ll be gone quickly — possibly before they ever even sign him to a contract.

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49ers trade 2018 fourth-round pick for Kapri Bibbs and 2017 fifth-rounder

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New 49ers General Manager John Lynch has been an active trader in his first draft and that continued on Saturday.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the 49ers have sent a 2018 fourth-round pick to the Broncos in exchange for running back Kapri Bibbs and a fifth-round pick this year. The 49ers now have seven picks on Saturday while the Broncos have five left.

Bibbs ran 29 times for 129 yards in 12 games last season and also had two catches for 75 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown. C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker are at the top of the running back depth chart for the Broncos, but more help may be coming before the day is out.

Bibbs will join Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, DuJuan Harris and Mike Davis as backfield options for the Niners in 2017.

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Steelers bring Keenan Lewis in for a visit

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The Steelers added a cornerback to the roster on Friday when they drafted Cam Sutton in the third round and they’re spending some time on Saturday with one of their former third-round picks at the position as well.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the team has Keenan Lewis in for a visit. Lewis was released by the Saints last summer and visited the Steelers at that point as well, but concerns about his hip injuries helped keep a deal from coming together.

Lewis didn’t wind up playing at all last season and played in just six games in 2015, so it has been some time since he’s been a regular on the field. He has a good amount of starting experience, however, and the Steelers could give him an extended look this offseason if they feel he’s healthy enough to do something with it.

While Lewis visits, the Steelers have four more picks — one in each round — to use on the final day of the draft.

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No sign of Goodell as Day Three of the draft begins


The NFL gradually is figuring out that no benefit is derived from having the Man Who Runs Big Shield absorbing relentless booing at the draft.

After using Ron Jaworski on Friday night in a failed effort to get the fans to go easy on Roger Goodell, the Commissioner was out of sight when the third day of the draft began. Instead, former Eagles standout (and current NFL executive V.P. of football operations) Troy Vincent led the way, with a pair of locally beloved Brians at his side: Westbrook and Dawkins.

That’s not how it happened last year in Chicago, when Goodell found out that the zeal for booing him had not subsided by Saturday. What we saw and heard this Saturday is how it should have been from the outset. The unforgettable scene from Thursday night in Philly would have been enhanced by having, for example, Sylvester Stallone get things started. Instead, the loud boos took away from it.

The biggest question for the 2017 draft is whether Goodell’s bosses will take away his podium privileges, permanently. Surely he realizes by now that it doesn’t help him, it doesn’t help the league, and it doesn’t help the draft for the Commissioner to continue to be the face of the event.

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Jaguars say Cam Robinson will compete at left tackle

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The Jaguars traded up one spot in the second round on Friday night in order to select Alabama tackle Cam Robinson.

It’s the second time the Jaguars have made a trade to acquire a tackle this offseason with Branden Albert coming to Jacksonville in an earlier deal with the Dolphins. Albert was pencilled in as the team’s left tackle, but he has not been at offseason workouts in a reported bid for a new contract.

Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell said after the pick that the Jags see Robinson as a left tackle as well and that they wanted to have their “bases covered” with Albert absent from voluntary work. He did leave open the possibility that Robinson could move inside as well.

“They’ll compete,” Caldwell said, via 1010XL. “They’ll compete for the spot. … I think we’ll leave [Robinson] at tackle for the time being. Never say never, but he’s got the skillset to move inside if that’s what you’re asking.”

That move inside could become more likely if Albert begins attending the offseason program and better offensive line play is vital for Jacksonville however they line up come Week One.

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