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Ray Lewis showed some nerves before final trip to stadium

Wild Card Playoffs - Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

The Ravens thought they had seen everything from Ray Lewis in his 17-year career, which passed for a final time through Baltimore in Sunday’s win over the Colts. But before the game, they saw something they didn’t expect from Lewis.

Nerves.

Teammate Brendan Ayanbadejo told Yahoo’s Mike Silver he was surprised to see  Lewis’ emotions on the way to M&T Bank Stadium.

I’ve never really seen Ray nervous before,” Ayanbadejo said. “I mean, Ray Lewis doesn’t get nervous. Well, Ray was nervous. It was a pretty amazing sight.”

Ayanbadejo eventually started filming the approach, and the adoring reception Lewis received on his way in.

Lewis said after the game it probably hadn’t sunk in yet because there’s another game, Saturday at Denver, to prepare for.

While the Ravens defense was hardly at its best, and Lewis himself failed to put away a pick-six by dropping an Andrew Luck pass that hit him in the hands, those same teammates think there’s an opportunity for more. They played better than they did down the stretch (when they lost four of their last five), but they’re facing a mature version of Luck in a guy named Peyton Manning this week.

“I think we’re still kinda playing possum,” said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. “We’re not telling the whole story. Everybody knows that when they play us, they’ve got a fight on their hands. What kind of fight, they don’t know.

“Sometimes we can be crafty, and wear ’em down with a good plan and win on points. Sometimes we can go for the knockout, and down they’ll go. The thing is, they don’t know. We’re not showing our hand just yet. But we do pack a punch.”

And they’re packing Lewis, for one more one last time.

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Sean McVay: No question Kirk Cousins can keep improving

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks on after the New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins 19-10 at FedExField on January 1, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Sean McVay is the youngest head coach in the NFL after being hired by the Rams and Kirk Cousins had a hand in getting McVay to that spot.

Cousins’ play as the starter over the last two seasons has created a big question for the Redskins to answer about his future with the organization, but it didn’t hurt McVay to be associated with the development of a quarterback who went from backup to the franchise tag in 2015 before turning in another good season in 2016.

During an interview with ESPN 980 in Washington, McVay called Cousins someone you can “absolutely win a championship with” and said he thinks that Cousins will continue to move up the ladder of NFL quarterbacks in the years to come.

“I don’t think there’s any question in my mind,” McVay said. “Look at his body of work the last two years. These guys are great players and they have a long resume. They’ve accumulated that experience and gone through things good and bad. Anytime you look at someone who is successful at anything, one thing they’ve had to do is overcome some adversity. It’s an inevitable part of this game, but it’s something when you look at Kirk over the course of his career and through his life, he continually responded to challenges in a way that makes you believe in him.”

McVay added that he hopes Jared Goff can progress on the same kind of trajectory in the coming years. Goff’s presence in Los Angeles should keep anyone from connecting dots between the coach’s praise and Cousins’ impending free agency, which promises to be a major storyline in Washington while McVay is trying to have the same kind of success with another quarterback.

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Derek Carr helps find missing child

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 24:  Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts near the end of the second quarter on December 24, 2016 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Raiders won 33-25.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The social-media platform known as Twitter can be used for plenty of good things, and for plenty of not-so-good things.

Here’s one very good thing for which it recently was used: A retweet from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr of a message aimed at finding a missing boy resulted in a reply with information that helped police find him, via CSNBayArea.com.

It’s a reminder of the potency of the device. Carr, with more than 247,000 followers, clicked a button and performed a significant service for his fellow man.

Meanwhile . . . . Never mind.

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San Diego CBS affiliate expects to carry Chargers games

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:  San Diego Chargers fans cheer on their team against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers have left San Diego, but they’ll still have a presence there.

Via the San Diego Union-Tribune, the local CBS affiliate plans to carry “a lot of Chargers games” in 2017.

The station’s general manager told Tom Krasovic of the Union-Tribune that CBS corporate executives make the decision on which games will be televised in which market, and that the “local station doesn’t have any say.”

“I think the Chargers televised games will be the highest-rated games in the market,” Alberto Mier y Tieran told Krasovic. “So I would prefer we carry as many Chargers games as possible.”’

Much was made regarding the news that TV ratings were down in L.A. after the return of the Rams. But the reality of the league’s broadcast rules is that, without a team in a given market, the networks can assign more compelling games to the local affiliate that otherwise would have its hands tied. The Rams weren’t good, but FOX had its hands tied following more than 20 years of flexibility.

If the Chargers struggle, CBS will be able to give San Diego games involving better teams and higher stakes. And, in turn, better ratings.

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Sean Lee replaces Luke Kuechly in the Pro Bowl

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Richard Rodgers #82 of the Green Bay Packers scores a touchdown past Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Luke Kuechly was medically cleared to play late in the season, after missing four games with a concussion.

And since he didn’t play the last two because the Panthers were out of the playoff hunt, he’s not going to play in any other meaningless exhibitions.

Via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee will replace Kuechly in the Pro Bowl.

There’s a reasonable case to be made that Lee should have been there anyway, especially with Kuechly missing six games.

But Lee had a phenomenal season in his own right, for a defense which overachieved throughout the year.

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Carlos Dunlap replaces Jadeveon Clowney in Pro Bowl

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 29:  Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after making a defensive stop during the third quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium on September 29, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Texans are out of the playoffs, and their star defensive end is out of the postseason all-star game.

The Bengals have announced that defensive end Carlos Dunlap will replace Jadeveon Clowney in the Pro Bowl, which will be played later this month in Orlando. Clowney won’t play due to injury.

Dunlap joins defensive tackle Geno Atkins and receiver A.J. Green as Bengals who have qualified for the Pro Bowl. However, Green won’t play due to a hamstring injury.

For Dunlap, it’s his second straight Pro Bowl, and the second of his career. He had eight sacks in 2016.

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Alex Smith, Dustin Colquitt add to number of Chiefs in Pro Bowl

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chiefs safety Eric Berry pulled out of the Pro Bowl this week, but the Chiefs are still gaining in the number of players from their roster who will take part in the game.

The team announced on Tuesday that quarterback Alex Smith and punter Dustin Colquitt have been added to the roster. They join tight end Travis Kelce, cornerback Marcus Peters and rookie returner Tyreek Hill as representatives from Kansas City in the game.

It is the second time that Smith has been part of a Pro Bowl roster and he will be replacing Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who fractured his fibula late in the season as the Raiders and Chiefs were vying for the AFC West title. The Chiefs took it with a win in Week 17 while the Raiders lost, but Smith’s season came to an end in an 18-16 loss to the Steelers last Sunday night.

With Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger both on the roster, there will be at least one other replacement quarterback going to the game.

Colquitt is also going to the Pro Bowl for the second time. He’s going in place of Colts punter Pat McAfee, who announced over the weekend that he will be having knee surgery.

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Ken Whisenhunt will remain Chargers offensive coordinator

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt of the San Diego Chargers before a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 1, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers hired a head coach with an offensive background in Anthony Lynn, but that won’t lead to a change at offensive coordinator.

During his introductory press conference, Lynn said that Ken Whisenhunt will “definitely be retained” for the 2017 season. Lynn said that he would have tried to bring Whisenhunt with him if he’d gotten a head coaching job when interviewing with teams last year.

Whisenhunt worked under Mike McCoy in 2013 and then left after getting a head coaching job with the Titans. He was dismissed after going 3-20 and returned to the coordinator job in 2016.

On the defensive side, Lynn confirmed the Chargers have interviewed Gus Bradley about taking the coordinator job and said that he’d be talking to Bradley again on Tuesday. Bradley has also interviewed with the Redskins and is thought to be a possibility with the 49ers if they hire Tom Cable as their head coach.

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Joe Thomas blasts Oregon for workouts that put players in hospital

joe-thomas-101416-getty-ftrjpg_1nvu4od8hwfrbzucay7ozl7yo Getty Images

Browns left tackle Joe Thomas doesn’t say much. So when he does, people pay attention.

On Tuesday, Thomas had something to say about offseason workouts at the University of Oregon sufficiently intense to put three players in the hospital.

“Whoever is behind this should be fired, nothing to do with football. Where’s NCAA? How about protecting athletes instead of your paychecks!” Thomas said on Twitter. “These are the petty games ‘coaches’ play when they are clueless about actually coaching the game and developing the kids. Gives [football a] bad name. . . . If NCAA won’t protect these student athletes, maybe they need to form some type of coalition that has power to stand up to the ‘coaches’.”

Thomas is right. It’s bad enough that these kids are exploited, getting compensation that pales in comparison to the revenue they generate. They also have no real protection against abusive practices, whether it’s unsafe workouts in January or unlimited padded practices during the season or grown men coming back to school and practicing against kids who supposedly are kept out of the NFL due in part to the goofy notion that they need to be protected against grown men.

Apparently, college players do need protection against grown men. And if the grown men into whose care they are charged can’t be trusted to take proper care of them, hopefully there are other grown men and women in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches of the government who will.

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Anthony Lynn credits Bill Walsh’s commitment to minority coaches

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When Anthony Lynn was introduced as the Los Angeles Chargers’ new head coach today, he remembered one of the most influential coaches he ever knew: Bill Walsh.

Walsh was a Hall of Fame coach for the 49ers and worked in the 49ers’ front office in 1996 when he contacted Lynn, a backup running back for the 49ers, and said they needed to talk.

“I remember the day when Bill Walsh came down to the locker room in 1996 and he grabbed me and he said, ‘We need to talk.’ And I said, ‘Oh, s–t, he’s about to cut me,'” Lynn said, perhaps not realizing his press conference was on live television.

But Walsh didn’t cut him. Walsh told him he had a better future in football than he realized.

“He goes, ‘No, I want to take you to lunch, I want to talk to you about something.’ He started talking to me about coaching. He said, ‘I’ve identified you as a coach in the National Football League and I want to tell you about my program for minority coaches.’ And we begin this talk about coaching, and I’d never thought about coaching before. But that’s where the seed was planted, from Coach Walsh. . . . From that moment on, every team meeting I sat in I started taking notes like a coach, I started preparing like a coach.”

Walsh realized that African-Americans were underrepresented on coaching staffs in the NFL at a time when few others were talking about it. The league now recognizes Walsh with the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, and coaches like Lynn recognize how Walsh helped pave the way for their career success.

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Darian Stewart will go to the Pro Bowl

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18:  Wide receiver Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots has a reception for a first down and is hit by free safety Darian Stewart #26  and strong safety T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos secondary will be well represented at the Pro Bowl in Orlando.

The Broncos announced on Tuesday that safety Darian Stewart has been named to the game as a replacement for Chiefs safety Eric Berry. Stewart will join cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris on the AFC roster, leaving safety T.J. Ward as the only regular member of the starting lineup who has not gotten the nod. Linebacker Von Miller is also on the team.

It will be the first Pro Bowl appearance for Stewart, who finished his second season with the Broncos after five seasons with the Rams and Ravens. He had 68 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while starting all 16 games.

Stewart’s stay in Denver will continue beyond this season as he signed a four-year extension with the team during the season.

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Zach Zenner will spend his offseason doing medical research

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Zach Zenner #34 of the Detroit Lions looks for yards during a run against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan Detroit won the game 20-17. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Lions running back Zach Zenner was at South Dakota State, people told him he wouldn’t make it in the NFL, and so he majored in biology with a plan to start medical school when his college career ended.

But Zenner, who said when he was in college that he just hoped to make an NFL practice squad before becoming a surgeon, is now playing well enough for the Lions that he expects to have a long NFL career ahead of him.

Still, Zenner has decided to keep his medical options open. With the idea that he might still become a doctor some day, Zenner is working on a medical research project, studying ultrasounds of rat arteries, at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit.

“I think it’s important to [do these kind of projects], not only for the career aspect of it — kind of building the resume — but also, mentally, for the brain,” Zenner told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s a totally different type of mental exercise than preparing for a defense. You can make similarities between the two in just the fact that football isn’t just a running straight, ramming your head against brick wall over and over. [There are] a lot of mental aspects to football, as well, but it’s just totally different from that.”

Zenner now says he isn’t sure whether he’ll go to medical school. It’s entirely possible that by the time he retires from football he’ll have enough money that he doesn’t have to work again, and that he’ll be pretty old to just be starting in a field that requires several years of schooling. But with his offseason work, he’s keeping his options open.

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Report: Clyde Simmons joining Browns coaching staff

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 22:  Defensive end Clyde Simmons #96 of the Philadelphia Eagles rushes the passer of the Arizona Cardinals in Sun Devil Stadium on December 22, 1990 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Eagels won 23-21.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns brought Gregg Williams in from the Rams to be their defensive coordinator and one of Williams’ assistants in Los Angeles will reportedly be making the trip with him.

Alex Marvez of Sporting News reports that Clyde Simmons will be joining the Browns coaching staff. Simmons spent the last five years as the assistant defensive line coach in the Rams.

Marvez reports that he will be coaching that position group with the Browns as well, although neither defensive line coach Robert Nunn nor assistant defensive line coach Ken Delgado were among the four defensive coaches relieved of their duties earlier this month.

The Rams job was Simmons’ first position on an NFL staff. He spent 15 years as an NFL player for the Eagles, Cardinals, Jaguars, Bengals and Bears and ranks 20th in NFL history with 121.5 sacks.

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Martavis Bryant applies for reinstatement

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 09:  Martavis Bryant #10 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers have one receiver in a bit of hot water with his coach, but they have another one who is trying to work his way back into the good graces.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, suspended Steelers wideout Martavis Bryant has applied to the league for reinstatement. The process can take some time for the league to process (see Aldon Smith), so this simply sets the stage for a potential return next season.

Bryant was suspended for a year for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.

The Steelers made their disappointment with Bryant clear, so it’s not automatic that they’re going to want to bother with him.

They’re not overburdened with depth without him, but they’re also proving by still being on the field in January that his absence didn’t kill their chances.

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Steelers expect James Harrison to be limited in practice

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Outside linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off of the field with a Sunday Night Football game ball following the Steelers victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Getty Images

The big headline from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s press conference will be about his response to wide receiver Antonio Brown’s decision to film the scene inside the team’s locker room after they beat the Chiefs, but there was also information about the health of some of the team’s players.

Tomlin said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that linebacker James Harrison is expected to be limited this week because of shoulder and triceps injuries. The veteran has been playing well in the first two weeks of the postseason and has 2.5 sacks to go with the crucial holding penalty he drew against Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher on a fourth quarter two-point conversion.

Tomlin also said that safety Sean Davis continues to be bothered by a shoulder injury, but it didn’t stop him from practicing in full last week or playing against the Chiefs. The rookie moved into the starting lineup down the stretch and has helped push the defense to a better place it was early in the year.

The final update was more of a reaffirmation of the status quo as Tomlin confirmed tight end Ladarius Green remains in the concussion protocol.

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Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl stepping down

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25: Carolina Panthers offensive assistant Ricky Proehl watches the action from the sidelines during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Panthers defeated the Jaguars 16-10.  (Photo by Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl has informed the team that he plans to resign.

Per the Panthers’ official website, Proehl is stepping down for family reasons. He has two sons who will be playing college football next fall.

Proehl spent six years with the Panthers, the last four as wide receivers coach. He had a 17-year career as a player and played three seasons with the Panthers.

Proehl caught 669 passes and 54 touchdowns passes in his career while playing for the Cardinals, Seahawks, Bears, Panthers, Rams and Colts.

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