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Mike Shanahan: A coach who overrules the doctors should be fired

Shanahan Reuters

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is adamant that he did not overrule team doctors in the decision to play quarterback Robert Griffin III after Griffin suffered a knee injury — so adamant that he says if he did that, he would deserve to be fired.

In a conversation with NFL Network’s Andrea Kremer, Shanahan said that it’s absurd that he would put the franchise player at risk if the doctors told him not to, and that he believes it’s a firing offense for a coach to disregard a doctor’s medical instructions.

“You’d have to be a complete idiot to think I would overrule our doctors. That’s ludicrous. If someone were to do that, they should be fired,” Shanahan said.

Controversy has swirled over the last 72 hours regarding the Redskins’ handling of Griffin’s knee. First, Dr. James Andrews was quoted as saying Shanahan put Griffin back in the Week 15 game against the Ravens without allowing Andrews to inspect Griffin. Then, Griffin stayed in the game on Sunday against the Seahawks despite clearly being hobbled by his injured knee. Then Griffin ultimately exited the game after injuring the knee again. And then this week Dr. Andrews said his previous comments about Shanahan were misconstrued.

Now Shanahan is doubling down on his claims, insisting in no uncertain terms that he has made Griffin’s health his top priority.

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Anthony Castonzo talking extension with Colts

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Quarterback Andrew Luck’s going to need a new contract soon and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton hasn’t been shy about discussing his desire for a bigger deal with the Colts, but Indianapolis’s contract concerns on offense go beyond those two players.

Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are entering the final year of their pacts and so is left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who joined the team as a first-round pick a year before the other four players from the class of 2012 came on board. Castonzo said Monday that his representatives have been talking with the team about a long-term extension that would keep Castonzo on Luck’s blind side for years to come.

“If you play well, you get taken care of, that’s sort of the way I see it,” Castonzo said, via the Indianapolis Star. “If I was playing like garbage, I wouldn’t be here.”

The Colts haven’t built the strongest of lines in front of Luck over the last three years, but Castonzo has given them one player that they don’t need to think about replacing. While Luck’s next salary will eat up some of the cap space the team has had on hand, a chunk of what’s left should be devoted to making sure they don’t have to think about finding a new left tackle in the near future.

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Reggie McKenzie: “There’s a chance” Raiders sign Tony McDaniel

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel lost his job with the Seahawks in a move that was fueled by the need to rebalance the books in Seattle after handing out extensions to quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Coach Pete Carroll said the decision to release McDaniel “sucks” and held out hope that there would be a way to bring him back to the team, but a former member of Seattle’s staff may get a chance to coach McDaniel instead. Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said, via Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group, that “there’s a chance” that the team signs McDaniel and reunites him with former Seahawks assistant and current Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

Norton sounded like that would suit him fine, although he acknowledged he’s not the man making those decisions.

“I’ve had some good battles and good times with Tony,” Norton said. “Those decisions are made in another group but if they can do anything to help improve us, if there’s someone out there that can help us get better, let’s bring him in and give him a shot.”

McDaniel will likely have interest from other teams as well after a strong 2014 for the Seahawks, but the familiarity with Norton shouldn’t hurt the Raiders if a bidding war for his services should materialize. Their dismal record in recent years could have a less positive effect if McDaniel developed a taste for deep playoff runs the last couple of years.

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Justin Hunter’s attorney confident case will “end well”

Ken Whisenhunt, Justin Hunter AP

Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter faces a felonious assault charge in Virginia after a July fight that prosecutors say Hunter touched off by punching a man in the face at a bar.

Hunter’s alleged victim was left with a broken jaw and a cracked tooth, but Hunter’s attorney Toby Vick says that there are witnesses willing to corroborate that Hunter wasn’t the aggressor in the incident. Vick said that there are “significant” reasons to doubt the credibility of Hunter’s accuser and that he’s “confident that this is going to end well” for his client.

“There were a number of people involved and Justin is the only person that they identified,” Vick said, via the Tennessean. “Here you have an NFL player — with what they believe to have deep pockets — identified when lots of things were going on in there. I think it’s going to emerge that [Hunter and his friends] weren’t even the aggressors.”

There aren’t many lawyers who spend the time before their client’s case is resolved preaching their guilt from the rooftops, so there’s still a need to let things play out in court. Hunter is due there on September 3 for a hearing and the NFL has said they are reviewing the case as a possible matter for review under the personal conduct policy.

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Marcus Mariota hasn’t thrown an interception in Titans camp

Marcus Mariota AP

Sometimes you have to be very careful when interpreting training camp statistics.

But sometimes, the big round numbers — like zero — have a way of standing out.

According to John Glennon of the Tennesseean, Titans rookie Marcus Mariota has gone through four straight practices without an interception, making him the only Titans quarterback in camp to do so.

According to the unofficial tally, Mariota is 49-of-73 in combined drills over four days of camp, a solid 67 percent.

Again, camp stats have to be taken with a grain of salt sometimes, as they don’t always (or never) provide for context of who the drills are against and with, the plays being worked on that day and a million other factors. But hey, it’s a number.

(By the way, camp stats are awesome. Those degenerates who cover the Jets mastered the calculation of passer rating during the Tim Tebow era, and a few sick individuals who cover the Packers break out stop watches to document hang time during punt drills. You’re all twisted, and we all love you.)

But as it pertains to the second overall pick in the draft, the news is good. Mariota is a careful quarterback by nature (only four interceptions against 42 touchdowns), and he’ll need to continue that with the Titans if they’re going to have a chance to progress.

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Suh becomes mentor to rookie Jordan Phillips

In this Thursday, July 30, 2015 photo, Miami Dolphins defensive tackles Jordan Phillips (97) Earl Mitchell (90) and Ndamukong Suh (93) prepare to run drills at the teams NFL football training camp in Davie, Fla. For about three weeks preceding the start of Dolphins training camp, rookie Phillips and his fiancee were on a vacation in Oregon. That is, except for the two hours a day where Phillips was learning from Suh. When the new defensive leader of the Dolphins asked Phillips to join him for what essentially was a training camp before training camp, the rookie didn't hesitate before accepting the invitation. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) AP

Ever since the Dolphins broke the bank for defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the football-following world has been looking for signs that Miami made a mistake.

There will be no such evidence found in this article.

Via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald, Suh took an active role following offseason workouts in mentoring rookie second-round defensive lineman Jordan Phillips.

“One thing he did is he encouraged Jordan Phillips to come out and train with him,” coach Joe Philbin said. “That’s an example of leadership — of taking a young player, showing him obviously from a physical standpoint and a professionalism standpoint, a preparation standpoint, some of the things that he’s done to get himself ready.”

So how did it happen?

“Came up to me one day and asked if I wanted to train with him and see how he works,” Phillips said. “It felt good because it seemed like he believed in me and wanted me to do well.”

Neal explains that Phillips went to Oregon following the Rookie Symposium and spent two hours per day for 22 days working out with Suh, from running to lifting to yoga to flexibility exercises.
“It’s incredible,” Phillips said. “I’ve never seen anybody work the way he does. That’s something I want to resemble.”
The effort has continued during training camp, with Suh giving Phillips constant feedback. Which has to give the Dolphins and their fans encouragement that Suh isn’t going to take his foot off the gas now that he has a contract paying him $60 million in fully-guaranteed money at signing.
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Bucs look to Doug Martin as “lead guy” in backfield

Doug Martin AP

When the Buccaneers opted not to exercise the fifth-year option on running back Doug Martin’s contract, it seemed like the natural progression of things for a player who hasn’t impressed since his rookie season.

Martin ran the ball 319 times for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie in 2012, but injuries and ineffectiveness have limited him to just 261 carries over the last two seasons. Bobby Rainey looked better last year, the team drafted Charles Sims in the third round last year and brought in a new offensive coordinator this season, so the time seemed ripe to move on from Martin as the main man in the backfield.

That’s not how things are playing out, however. Martin’s offseason work garnered good reviews and coach Lovie Smith says he’s the top man in the backfield again this year.

“Definitely a key for us,” Lovie Smith said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “We talked about being able to establish the run. Doug will be the lead guy doing that, so it’s very important that we open up some holes and let him do his thing. I don’t know about 2012 and, last year, none of us performed the way we needed to. I just know Doug has been great through the offseason program. Seems like he is running hard out there right now. No complaints. Again, he, like the rest of us, plans on performing a lot better this year and he’ll get an opportunity to.”

The lack of the option makes this a contract year for Martin, so there’s much to be gained if he can turn the clock back to his rookie season and a very uncertain future in the NFL if the trends of the last two seasons continue in 2015.

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Panthers will reevaluate Star Lotulelei in a few weeks

Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was in a walking boot after injuring his right foot at Monday’s practice and a report from Ed Werder of ESPN indicated that the team didn’t believe the injury was a serious one.

The Panthers offered their own update on Monday evening and it fell more into the “ask again later” category. It’s the same foot that Lotulelei broke a bone in while practicing during the playoffs last season and team trainer Ryan Vermillion said that the team would be taking their time to make sure that the defensive tackle was healthy before getting him back on the field.

“Star has a stress reaction in his foot. We are going to be cautious. He is in a walking boot and we will reevaluate his foot in a few weeks,” Vermillion said in a statement on the team’s website.

That timeline would put Lotulelei at risk of missing the preseason since it’s hard to imagine he’ll start going 100 percent the first day back on the practice field. That’s not ideal, perhaps, but it should be fine with Carolina if it means he’ll be in the lineup for the start of the regular season.

The team is also waiting on defensive tackle Kawann Short, who is dealing with back soreness. Coach Ron Rivera said he’ll be evaluated on Tuesday, but that “everything looks positive” for the team’s other starter up front.

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Ted Ginn admits leaving Carolina was “going out and chasing a check”

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

Among our favorite kinds of football players, right up there with the ones who overcome long odds or do inspirational things, we have a soft spot for those with a little self-awareness.

So it was a great relief to hear one of them admit that yes, in fact, it was about the money.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Panthers wideout Ted Ginn admitting that leaving for Arizona last year was about nothing more than “going out and chasing a check.”

Ginn appeared to have hit free agency at the right time, after catching five touchdown passes (one short of what he had done the six previous years) for the Panthers in 2013 while working on a one-year deal. So when the Cardinals gave him a three-year, $9.75 million contract, he had to go.

“You only have a short window in this league, so you just gotta go and do what’s good for your family,” Ginn said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think going out there was best for my family. I think being here was the best thing for me. It’s only a short window to go out and get what you can get, so I just praise God that they had their hands open for me to be able to return. Now that I’m here I have to put all that I can do in, and show what I have on and off the field to be a Panther.”

When the Cardinals got tired of him after a year (he caught 14 balls and made minimal impact, other than a playoff fumble), the Panthers were happy to bring him back. For whatever reason, he looks like an NFL wide receiver when he’s with them, as he’s made numerous deep play connections with Cam Newton already in camp.

So while he doesn’t regret trying to capitalize on his good season, he’s also aware that the Panthers seem to work for him.

“No, not at all,” he said. “Like I said, you gotta do what you do for your family. The best thing about the whole situation is coming back somewhere where somebody likes you.”

And with the way Ginn’s career has gone, finding that place has been tough, so he’s hanging on now.

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Tom Coughlin cranky about first training camp fight of the year

Tom Coughlin AP

In case you haven’t heard, the Giants have a guy who is dealing with a bit of a hand issue at the moment.

So they are perhaps more sensitive to the possibility of having another one at the same time.

Via the New York Daily News, Giants coach Tom Coughlin reacted grumpily to the first camp fight of the year, when offensive lineman Justin Pugh and defensive end Damontre Moore threw punches before being separated.

“I had a problem with that one, because they’re out there swinging,” Coughlin said. “I’ve been hurt first-hand by a guy who broke his hand in a fight, . . . In the old days, they used to wrap it up and play. But they don’t do that anymore.

“I was upset about the fight, losing their temper and all that stuff, but the bottom line is you can’t afford to do it and lose a guy.”

It’s especially true at the two positions in question, as they’ve already lost left tackle Will Beatty for the year to a pectoral injury and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul for who knows how long (though they did finally talk) after he blew a finger off in a fireworks accident.

So while Pugh and Moore got the “get off my lawn” treatment from Coughlin, his frustration is likely as cumulative as anything else.

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Cowboys letting Sean Lee ease back into things in camp

Dallas Cowboys OTA Getty Images

At the rate the Cowboys were losing linebackers, it’s no wonder they want to be careful with Sean Lee.

According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, they’re holding him out of 7-on-7 drills during camp to give him plenty of time to recover from last year’s torn ACL which knocked him out the entire season.

“As Sean gets older, and Sean’s been through some adversity, I think he’s learning and I’m learning to have the ability to understand what the final product needs to look like and also understand the process to get there,” linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. “I think he’s understanding of that and I’m doing a better job, I hope, of understanding as well. It’s a work in progress. We’re going to work to the final product.”

It’s a matter of pragmatism as much as anything else. They’ve already lost Keith Rivers to retirement, and Rolando McClain and rookie Mark Nzeocha were placed on the physically unable to perform and non-football injury lists with knee injuries at the start of camp. Of course, McClain is also staring at a four-game suspension when he is well, and then Saturday Justin Jackson tore an ACL.

So for a player as important as Lee, they’re practically putting him in bubble wrap, as he plans to be ready for the Sept. 13 regular season opener.

“He’s made a lot of progress,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We don’t want big setbacks so we’ll kind of incrementally up his work and hopefully he can handle it and we’ll just keep making progress.”

With Lee moving to the weakside linebacker spot, he’s going to have more room to make plays, and making sure he’s ready to make them at the right time.

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Former Lions running back Mel Farr dies at 70

Mel Farr Getty Images

Former Detroit Lions running back Mel Farr has passed away at the age of 70, the team confirmed on Monday night.

Farr, the 1967 NFL offensive rookie of the year, was a two-time Pro Bowl selection during his seven seasons with the Lions. Farr had 739 carries for 3,072 yards and 26 touchdowns during his tenure. He also caught 146 passes for 1,374 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career.

Farr and teammate Lem Barney, the 1967 defensive rookie of the year, sang backup vocals on Marvin Gaye’s hit song “What’s Going On.”

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Mortensen’s original story still has the 11-of-12 footballs falsehood

Pressure Getty Images

On Monday afternoon, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen appeared on ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard Show to elaborate on the report that sparked the neverending #DeflateGate investigation and arbitration and, now, litigation.

Our preliminary item on the interview appears here. The good folks at MassLive.com have typed up the entire transcript. The good folks at TheBigLead.com have posted the audio, along with their own informative assessment of the interview.

Courtesy of the good folks at Deadspin.com, who haven’t ripped me recently but, oh, it’s coming, comes an intriguing nugget that cuts against the notion that Mortensen changed his story from “11-0f-12 footballs were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum” to “11-0f-12 footballs were significantly underinflated.” Apparently, his official story hasn’t changed.

From the item posted at ESPN.com on January 21, 2015, the first sentence: “The NFL has found that 11 of the New England Patriots’ 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game told ESPN.”

And then the second sentence, still present in the story and not removed: “The investigation found the footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required by NFL regulations during the Pats’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources.” (The “below what’s required” phrase should pull the plug on efforts to explain away the erroneous information given to Mortensen as referring perhaps not to the balls being two pounds below the 12.5 PSI minimum but two pounds below the 13.5 PSI maximum.)

Then there’s the original tweet, which is still live, and which could be removed at any time by pressing the three little dots and then selecting “Delete Tweet.”

Mort, who I like and respect, continues to be in a very tough spot on this one, and privately he should be livid with those who lied to him on multiple occasions about the 2.0-pounds information, and about other things. For months, it appeared that the glaringly false leak that instantly converted an odd circumstance into presumed Patriots guilt never would become the focus of national scrutiny.

It now has, and the early consensus is that even though Mortensen has explained the situation more extensively than ever, real questions remain regarding the origin of the report — and a real reason continues to exist for the NFL to investigate itself.

If finding out whether someone in the league office had received a copy of the Ray Rice elevator punch video before TMZ leaked it merited the hiring of former FBI director Robert Mueller, the much simpler task of finding out who talked to Mortensen can be accomplished with someone having a far less impressive pedigree, and a far lower hourly rate.

So why won’t the league do it?

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Texans no closer to naming a starting quarterback

Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer walks onto the field for an NFL football organized team activity, Monday, June 1, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) AP

Nearly two months ago, Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he could be picking a starting quarterback “very soon.” He’s apparently no closer to making a decision.

“Eventually I will tell you who it is,” O’Brien told reporters on Monday, via comments distributed by the team. “I am not going to keep it a secret. When we are ready to make a decision, I will tell you who it is.”

Those remarks came a day after O’Brien denied the rumor that he already has settled on Brian Hoyer.

“That would be absolutely untrue,” O’Brien said Sunday. “Every play, every day is evaluated. These guys are very even. No decisions have been made.”

Hoyer, who went through a quarterback competition last yearn Cleveland, is widely believed to have the edge. But Ryan Mallett looked good on Sunday, when he got his shot with the first-team offense.

So this back-and-forth could continue, giving both guys a chance to win the job — but giving the guy who wins it fewer opportunities to be fully prepared for it.

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Jimmy Graham prepares to block “75 percent” of the time

Seattle Seahawks' Jimmy Graham reaches to catch a ball at an NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Regardless of whether Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham likes to block, he’ll be doing plenty of blocking with his new team. And he says he welcomes it.

“I’m blocking here,” Graham told reporters on Monday, via comments distributed by the team. “Out there the last few I was pretty banged up so midway through the year I kind of stopped blocking . . . . Now here, I’m blocking quite a bit and I love it. It’s very important for me to be a part of that here because that’s about 75 percent of the offense here, and when you have a back like [Marshawn Lynch] you want to be in there on those explosive runs, and you want to be a part of that.”

The other 25 percent of the time, Graham will be the guy we’ve come to know in New Orleans.

“Third and 10 is when I’m going to make my money and that’s when I’m going to have to be special for this team,” Graham said. “Down there in the red zone. That’s just what I’ve always done. I’m doing the most down there.”

Other than the blocking. Apparently, he’ll be doing plenty of blocking.

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Kromer talks to media, says pretty much nothing

FILE - In this April 18, 2013, file photo, then-Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer talks to reporters during the team's NFL football minicamp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill. Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon says offensive line coach Aaron Kromer has been put on paid administrative leave after being accused of punching a boy in the face for using his beach chairs.  Kromer joined the team in January after being fired from the Chicago Bears. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

On Sunday, the Bills suspended offensive line coach Aaron Kromer for six regular-season games. On Monday, Kromer addressed the media. Like the Ray Rice no-questions-from-the-press conference of May 2014, Kromer simply made a statement without an ensuing back-and-forth with reporters.

“Can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be back here at training camp,” Kromer said, via comments distributed by the team. “How grateful I am for Terry Pegula, Kim Pegula, Russ Brandon, of course Rex [Ryan] for allowing me back to do my job. I’m sure everybody wants to hear what happened over the last couple weeks and I’m not at liberty to talk about it. So all I can say right now is that I’m excited about being back here, working with the talent that we have on the offensive line, making them the best they can be this training camp, and getting them ready for the season. That’s my whole goal, that’s my whole focus at this point and I’m excited about being able to able to do that. Thank You.”

It was perhaps the shortest comment ending in “thank you” since Joe Pesci’s opening statement in My Cousin Vinny trial.

So why isn’t Kromer at liberty to talk about it? The fact that the Bills suspended Kromer tells us that Kromer did something.

Besides, who told Kromer he’s not at liberty to talk about it? As the NFL’s disciplinary process has taken on greater importance in the aftermath of the Ray Rice case, it becomes even more important that someone provide some sort of a tangible explanation about the reasons for a suspension, so that the public can make comparisons between the punishments imposed for different sets of circumstances.

In Kromer’s case, neither the team, coach Rex Ryan, nor Kromer said anything of substance; the reports are that Kromer punched a teenager much smaller than him in a beach-chair brouhaha. Still, the statement issued Sunday night was as general as it could have been, and Ryan punted in both directions when addressing the situation before Kromer on Monday.

“I just think that you know obviously we made a statement,” Ryan told reporters. “We issued a statement as an organization, so I’m really not going to add a whole lot to that. I think Aaron [Kromer] will be out here to talk to everybody and I certainly don’t want to speak for Aaron. So that’s really where I’m, you know comfortable saying I think we had a pretty thorough statement.”

But the statement wasn’t thorough. It said nothing about the incident other than to call it an “incident.” And Kromer said nothing.

So, officially, Kromer was suspended six games for an incident. And no one is going to talk about the incident. And now the story is over.

Thank you.

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