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Leon Hall pick-six gives Bengals the lead in Houston

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans Getty Images

Everything was going smoothly for the Texans in today’s wild-card playoff game against the Bengals. And then one play changed all that.

Texans quarterback Matt Schaub made a bad decision with a throw to fullback James Casey, Bengals cornerback Leon Hall jumped the route, and Hall intercepted the pass and raced 21 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. Cincinnati went up 7-6.

Prior to that, the Texans had been in control: Houston had two long drives that ended in field goals, and Cincinnati had been able to do nothing much offensively.

But if Schaub is going to be giving touchdowns away like he did on the bad pass that Hall picked off, this could be an ugly day in Houston.

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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians: “This will be my last job”

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 09:  NFL coach Bruce Arians (L) and NFL player Larry Firzgerald attend Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XXII at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa on April 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Celebrity Fight Night) Getty Images

Part of the reason Bruce Arians seems to be enjoying himself so much is that he’s been liberated from worrying about the future.

Having been through so many moves and coaching changes in his career, the 63-year-old Arians has a rare sense of self-awareness about his current situation, which allows him to appreciate the moment he’s in.

“You never know how long this will last,” Arians told Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. “There’s the old saying, there’s two kinds of coaches, ones that are fired and others who are going to get fired. You just enjoy every day. Right now, it’s the highlight of it.

“There will be lowlights, we know that. But I’m enjoying every single day. This will be my last job.”

Arians could probably retire to Vegas and do two shows a night whenever he feels the urge, but for now, he’s enjoying the work that got him to this point, which cranks back up with a rookie minicamp this weekend.

“I love this weekend because there’s going to be two or three surprises of undrafted rookies or guys we invited for a tryout,” Arians said. “Last year, we signed three guys who were tryout guys. [Quarterback] Phillip Sims made it all the way to almost our football team. That part’s really fun. Then slide them in with the vets next week.

“It seems like we just stepped off the practice field. But, man, there is a different sense of purpose in watching our players come to work every day. We’ve always had great participation. We’ve always had fun doing it, but there’s a sense of purpose, in the weight room, the meeting room. Even Buddy Morris, our strength coach, said, “something’s different.” You can feel it.”

Arians’ own “cool uncle” style is doubtless part of the reason they’ve been able to create that feeling, but the wins on the field have helped turn around a franchise that’s now among the most stable in the league.

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Vikings sign two more draft picks

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 10: Jayron Kearse #1 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after making a tackle during the game against the Georgia tech Yellow Jackets at Memorial Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Moritz Boehringer became the first member of the 2016 draft class to sign a contract when he agreed to his four-year rookie deal with the Vikings this week, but the first player drafted directly from Europe will not be alone for long.

The Vikings have also agreed to deals with two of his teammates less than a week after they were drafted. According to multiple reports, sixth-round tight end David Morgan has agreed to his deal and Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reports that seventh-round safety Jayron Kearse’s contract is also done.

Morgan had 85 catches for 1,104 yards and eight touchdowns during his career at Texas-San Antonio, but his likeliest path to playing time in the short term will come as a blocker. Kearse, who is the nephew of former Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse, was a starter for two years at Clemson and, like most seventh-round picks, will have to do well on special teams to stick on the roster.

The Vikings have five other draft picks to sign and the current CBA is structured so that they shouldn’t have much difficulty getting any of the deals done.

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Reggie McKenzie: DeAndre Washington more than just a third-down back

Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington (21) steps out of a tackle by Texas defensive back Duke Thomas (21) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas) AP

Running back Latavius Murray ran for 1,066 yards last season and went to the Pro Bowl, so it’s fair to say that his first full year as the lead back in Oakland was a successful one.

One thing that the Raiders would like to improve is keeping Murray’s production at a high level across the entire season. After rushing for 4.8 yards per carry in the first half, Murray dropped to 3.3 yards per carry in the second half of the year. They boosted the offensive line by signing guard Kelechi Osemele, which should help the entire offense, and General Manager Reggie McKenzie believes the team got a back in the fifth round who can help keep Murray fresh.

DeAndre Washington is built similarly to Darren Sproles and was used frequently as a receiver at Texas Tech, which seemed to put him on track for a role on third downs in the NFL. McKenzie thinks Washington can do more, however.

“We think he’s a complete back, and when he gets out in space, he can make you look silly.” McKenzie said on 95.7 The Game, via the team’s website. “He can catch the ball, but he can run between the tackles as well as well as bouncing it outside. We think he’s the total package as a runner. We really like him.”

Taiwan Jones, Roy Helu and George Atkinson are the other backs on the roster and none of them proved to be a complement for Murray last season, so the team may need to look outside should Washington fall short of McKenzie’s expectations in the coming months.

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Bills say they’re “very comfortable” with Manuel as their backup

EJ Manuel

It’s been a rough year for Bills quarterback EJ Manuel: He came in third in the training camp battle with Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel last year, the Bills went 0-2 in the games Manuel started, the team declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract, and he got more competition when Cardale Jones was drafted.

But the team still says it’s confident in Manuel if he has to play this season.

Bills General Manager Doug Whaley says he’s “very comfortable” with Manuel, adding that Manuel is one of the league’s top backup quarterbacks, according to the Buffalo News.

By waiting until the end of the fourth round to draft a quarterback and taking a project like Jones rather than a quarterback viewed as ready to play right away, Whaley has shown that the Bills appear comfortable going with Manuel as No. 2 behind Taylor on the depth chart. Last year, the games when they had to turn to Manuel didn’t work out too well. Perhaps this year will be different, but the Bills have to be hoping right now that Taylor will start 16 games.

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Former Tunsil business manager/financial adviser becomes main suspect in hacking case


The true villain in the Laremy Tunsil draft-night free fall continues to be the person who accessed his social media accounts and posted damaging information with the obvious intent to spark a slide. Tunsil’s camp eventually could figure out who did it.

Via ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Tunsil’s attorney and agent are investigating a former business manager/financial adviser to determine the role, if any, that he had in the smear campaign.

Per the report, Tunsil hired the business manager/financial adviser in October 2015. Among other things, the person scheduled agent meetings with Tunsil and potential agents.

Tunsil later fired the person after learning that he wasn’t registered with the NFL Players Association as a financial adviser. The man, who was not named by ESPN, reportedly gave Tunsil a new phone in October. Persons close to Tunsil think the former business manager/financial adviser may have accessed Tunsil’s account by using Tunsil’s old phone.

Criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit haven’t been ruled out. An FBI spokesman in Mississippi told ESPN that his office has not yet been contacted to investigate.

Under the Stored Communications Act, the person who accessed Tunsil’s social media accounts could face up to 10 years in prison, along with more than $7 million in liability arising from the slide that occurred after the Ravens reportedly decided not to select Tunsil due to the video.

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Justin Tuck to sign one-day deal so he can retire a Giant

Justin Tuck AP

The Giants are going to sign another impact pass-rusher, but this one isn’t going to get a giant signing bonus.

According to Dan Graziano of, longtime NFL defensive end Justin Tuck will sign a one-day contract with the Giants and retire as a member of his original team.

Tuck spent the last two seasons in Oakland after a cash-grab there, but announced his retirement in February.

The ceremonial deal will bring his career full-circle. He had 60.5 sacks in nine seasons with the Giants. His two years in Oakland were less productive, and a torn pectoral muscle contributed to his decision to step away.

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Matt Slauson lines up visits with Chargers, Bills

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Matt Slauson #68 of the Chicago Bears on the sidelines during the first quarter of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field on September 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  The Arizona Cardinals won 48-23.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears released guard Matt Slauson last Sunday and it hasn’t taken long for the first report about visits with other teams to surface.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that Slauson is scheduled to visit with the Chargers and Bills. Slauson will find familiar faces in each stop.

The Chargers hired Dave DeGuglielmo as an assistant offensive line coach this offseason and Slauson worked with DeGuglielmo when he was the Jets’ offensive line coach in 2012. The Chargers have D.J. Fluker and Orlando Franklin at guard and added Donavon Clark in the seventh round of the draft.

DeGuglielmo was on Rex Ryan’s staff with the Jets and, as most are certainly aware, Ryan is now the head coach of the Bills. Mike Rodak of reports that the Bills are looking at Slauson as an option at right tackle, where Jordan Mills, Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson could also be in the mix.

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Duane Brown case shows that neutral arbitration works

Zz05Mzc0YjUxNjAzODE2YTkyMjg3NDBmZDgzYzU3NTdiMg== AP

The news that Texans offensive lineman Duane Brown avoided a 10-game suspension under the PED policy because he consumed contaminated meat in Mexico raises plenty of questions — including an important question regarding the ongoing habit of someone(s) leaking supposedly confidential information to the media.

But Brown’s case also underscores an important point regarding the process. With the PED policy, as revised in 2014, providing for neutral arbitration in cases of this nature, Brown had an avenue for pushing back against the notion that players are responsible for the compounds in their bodies, regardless of how those compounds may have entered their bodies.

Although it’s unclear whether the case progressed to a full-blown hearing or was resolved through negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, the fact that the Commissioner no longer controls the internal appeals process makes it easier for players to fashion a defense that could stick. If the league office were still running the show, chances are that Brown would have been run out of the league for 10 games.

For proof of this, look no farther than the StarCaps case. There, the league allegedly knew that an over-the-counter supplement had been spiked with a prescription diuretic, the league allegedly failed to share that information with the union, and the league adhered to the bright-line, strict-liability, thou-shalt-not-have-PEDs-in-your-body-even-if-you-didn’t-mean-to-take-them attitude that permeated the process when the league office had final say over the appeals.

That same attitude possibly (likely) would have applied to Brown, whose defense could (would) have been met with a shrug and a recitation of the rule: You’re responsible for what’s in your body. Period.

Having a neutral process gives players a chance, because it removes final say from a league office that flexes its muscles through the unscrupulous administration of discipline.

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Davante Adams may struggle to make Packers’ roster

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 20:  Wide receiver Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the football after a reception against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFL game at Lambeau Field on September 20, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers defeated the Seahawks 27-17.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

As a second-round draft pick in 2014, Packers receiver Davante Adams has been a disappointment. And he may be running out of time to change that.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Adams is one of the receivers who will be “battling for their lives” in training camp. That report pegs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as locks to make the roster, with Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis, Trevor Davis, Ed Williams and Jamel Johnson competing for the remaining three or four roster spots devoted to wide receivers.

Although Adams has started 23 games in his first two seasons, he hasn’t played well. Last year he averaged just 9.7 yards a catch and scored just one touchdown. Based on merit — rather than on draft position — it’s hard to see how he’d win a roster spot unless he shows dramatic improvement in the next four months.

With Nelson injured, the Packers’ most effective receiver last year was James Jones, but the team has told Jones it’s moving on to younger players. But despite his draft status, Adams may not be one of the younger receivers on the roster.

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Report: Terron Armstead gets $25 million fully guaranteed

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 talks to guard Ben Grubbs #66 running back Travaris Cadet #39 and offensive tackle Terron Armstead #72 of the New Orleans Saints from the line of scrimmage during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Two left tackles signed five-year extensions with their teams on Tuesday and the numbers for the two deals are in the same neighborhood.

As we reported on Tuesday evening, Bills tackle Cordy Glenn’s deal is worth up to $65 million with $26.5 million fully guaranteed. There’s another $9.5 million guaranteed against injury only for the 2012 second-round pick.

In terms of total possible value and full guarantees, it appears that deal puts Glenn just ahead of Saints tackle Terron Armstead. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Armstead’s deal includes $25 million in fully guaranteed money and can be worth a total of $64.5 million. Armstead also has another $13 million guaranteed against injury only, leaving him a few ticks above Glenn in total guarantees.

Those numbers put Armstead behind Glenn and Trent Williams in terms of average annual salary and full guarantees while the two contracts in tandem help set the price for any left tackles who may be looking for new deals in the near future.

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Eagles resume search for personnel help, with Joe Douglas interview

Howie Roseman AP

The Eagles haven’t lacked for personnel moves this spring.

But now that the draft is over, they’re ready to resume their search for a personnel man.

According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Eagles have been granted permission to interview Bears college scouting director Joe Douglas.

He’ll be interviewing for a vice president-level position which would oversee the pro and college scouting departments.

Of course, both those departments are being overseen by de facto General Manager Howie Roseman, who has made plenty of moves as he tries to erase all vestiges of the Chip Kelly era, extend a raft of players and stockpile quarterbacks.

Douglas spent 15 years with the Ravens, and came to the Bears last year. The Bears could have blocked Douglas’s interview since it isn’t for a G.M. title, but they didn’t.

The Eagles interviewed a number of candidates earlier this year, but suspended the search to focus on preparing for this year’s draft.

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Colts offensive line “laying the foundation” for a better 2016

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 03:  Head coach Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins looks on during a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Sun Life Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

With Andrew Luck on the sideline and a streak without a 100-yard game from a running back at 50 and counting, there wasn’t much doubt about the Colts’ need to improve their offensive line play this offseason.

The team signaled it would be a focus by hiring Joe Philbin to coach the unit and continued to address the area by drafting four offensive linemen last week. That’s the most the team has picked up in a single draft since 1983, when the draft lasted 12 rounds.

Now comes the time to put the new coach and those new players together with the holdovers from 2015 in order to build a stronger unit. Guard/tackle Joe Reitz said that Philbin has “been great to work with so far” and that he’s making playing faster a priority for a line that knows what needs to happen in 2016.

“We know we need to improve and we will be better this year,” Reitz said, via “I think that’s what we’re building for now. We’re laying the foundation, fundamentals on the field and building together as an unit. It’s not always the best five out there. It’s five guys working together as an unit. I’m excited to see where it can take us in the future.”

It would be unusual for a player to say in May that he and his teammates will be worse than they were the previous season and the bar for the Colts line is low enough that some improvement should be expected. They’ll need more than just a minimal gain to create the changes needed, however, and any proof that they’ve found it won’t be coming for months.

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Cowboys defensive coordinator “elated” with Ezekiel Elliott pick

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21:  Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs into Damon Knox #93 of the Michigan State Spartans and Riley Bullough #30 of the Michigan State Spartans at the line of scrimmage in the second quarter at Ohio Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli may not have gotten the kind of impact pass-rusher he was hoping for in the draft.

But he thinks the guy the Cowboys did draft first — running back Ezekiel Elliott — will make a huge difference for his side of the ball.

I’m elated because I think you always look at the big picture,” Marinelli said on 105.3 The Fan. “We don’t play fantasy football. It’s not that. A 1-yard, 2-yard run there’s fight and physicalness. That’s good for your team. It develops toughness. We have to go against that offense every day. We play our offense more than anybody. It develops a hardness to your defense. You’ve got to play against a great line, a great back, now you’ve got to match up on an All-Pro receiver, great quarterback.

“It’s the physical nature of the game, which at times is being lost in today’s football. The physical nature of the game, I believe in that. This young man and the other backs are going to bring that.”

The Cowboys defense will certainly be tested in practice, as they have a collection of talent to rival anyone in the league. Whether they have enough bodies to stop it during the week or not, they’re going to have to be better on defense on Sundays for it to matter at all.

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David Quessenberry feels strong as he continues comeback from cancer

HOUSTON - MAY 10:  Tackles David Quessenberry #77 and Nick Mondek #69 of the Houston Texans Houston Texans rookie mini camp on May 10, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma nearly two years ago, forcing a halt to his football career while he received treatment for the illness.

That treatment helped Quessenberry go into remission last year, although his attempt to get back on the field wasn’t as successful. He spent the year on the non-football illness list while continuing to work out and regain strength in hopes of returning to the team this season.

Quessenberry is a bit under the 306 pounds he used to carry, but says he feels great and believes it is the right weight for him as he works to resume his playing career.

“I feel excellent,” Quessenberry said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I can’t wait. I feel strong. I feel fast. I feel explosive. It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time. I can’t wait to get out there. It will be a good year.”

It’s hard to know how good a chance Quessenberry has to make the team until the Texans’ offseason is further along, but it’s hard to imagine that his effort and determination won’t help him if it is a close call in a few months time.

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Stubblefield declares innocence

Zz04NzI0MmY5Y2Y0MjVkYjNmZTQ1NjljNDZjYThkN2QwNw==-1 AP

As in most cases involving allegations of criminal misconduct, the defense lawyer has proclaimed his client’s innocence. Unlike most cases involving allegations of criminal misconduct, the defendant has now done so as well.

The declaration comes from former NFL defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield, who is accused of raping a “developmentally delayed” female in April 2015.

“I am here to state without any reservation that I am completely innocent of all these allegations,” Stubblefield said at a press conference on Tuesday, via the San Jose Mercury News. “I have worked my whole career to be a part of the Bay Area community. And I have worked in several communities and charities with the church. This is an issue that is very close to me. One of my primary charities is Special Olympics, something that is true and dear to my heart. This is why these allegations hurt me so badly.”

Stubblefield’s legal team also has disputed the suggestion that the alleged victim in the case is “developmentally delayed.”

“They described the alleged victim yesterday as disabled to sensationalize the case,” attorney Gary Winuk said.

The article from Robert Salonga, Tracey Kaplan, and Mark Gomez of the Mercury News includes some of the facts that will form the basis for the argument that the alleged victim is (and isn’t) “developmentally delayed.”

Defense lawyers provided reporters with materials showing the alleged victim’s social media profiles, her job history, and prior legal filings, in order to show that she had the capacity to consent to sexual activity with Stubblefield. His lawyers also provided the results of a lie-detector test and phone records revealing more than 20 text messages between Stubblefield and the alleged victim.

Per the article, “the materials show limited reading and language comprehension by whoever wrote them, but do not prove or disprove whether the author is mentally diminished.” By way of example, the article says that the alleged victim wrote this on her Sittercity profile: “I fuller feeling lose weight.”

Free on $250,000 bail, Stubblefield’s arraignment is set for June 3.

A former NFL defensive rookie of the year and NFL defensive player of the year, Stubblefield played for San Francisco, Washington, and Oakland.

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