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Transcript of Andy Reid interview from PFT Live

Former Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid gestures during a news conference with Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt introducing Reid as the Chiefs new coach in Kansas City, Missouri Reuters

[Editor’s note:  Chiefs coach Andy Reid appeared as a guest of the January 9 edition of PFT Live.  A full transcript of the interview appears below.]

Mike Florio: Now that you’re the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, the most immediate question is, will there be a play in the new playbook called the 65 toss power trap?

Andy Reid: (laughing) You’ve been talking to Gruden man.  We’ve got some good stuff in there.

MF: Well, one thing that was obvious to me watching your press conference Monday coach is you seem to be genuinely rejuvenated by this new opportunity in Kansas City.  Talk about how this change has changed you and how you feel after 14 years in Philly now getting started with the Kansas City Chiefs.

AR: Well listen, Mike, I enjoyed every minute in Philadelphia. The fans were passionate, the Luries were tremendous, and it was a good, solid — it was a great organization.  I had an opportunity to work with Joe Banner who did a phenomenal job and Howie Roseman who did a phenomenal job, Tom Heckert, all these guys, you know, the people that you deal with there as a whole, players, coaches, it was a good bunch.  This was an opportunity here to work for one of the great families in the National Football League.  So I’ve sat through all the owner/coach meetings and all that down at the owners meetings, and I’ve looked around the rooms and I understand.  I understand what the Kansas City Chiefs are all about, I’ve been in it long enough to figure it out. So when Clark Hunt came calling, I listened and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  And as he presented his side and I was able to talk to him about my side and what kind of my makeup and how I go about my business and so on, it just seemed to click and work and thus I decided to come here.

MF: And, Coach, there was all sorts of reports and speculation last week linking you to other jobs, most notably the Arizona Cardinals. Was anyone else ever in this seriously or was it all Chiefs from the get-go?

AR:  Well, listen. My wife’s from Phoenix and the Cardinals have a great organization so I, they were interested, I was interested, there was, you know, I’ve got a place out in California close to San Diego and there was some interest there and so, listen, when it was all, and they’ve got a great organization there.  So there were decisions that had to be made.  I would tell you, I just kind of came back to, like I said, there are three or four families in this league that are just, that you’d love to work for as you get old and grey like I’m getting, quickly.  So, this is one of those, one of the franchises and I was lucky enough where they came calling and lucky enough where they offered me a job.

MF: What’s the one thing you’ll carry from your 14 years of experience as a head coach with the Eagles that you think will help you the most as you start your career with the Kansas City Chiefs?

AR: Well, you know, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing really.  Until you’ve walked in a head coach’s shoes, you feel like you really know nothing.  So I’ve had that opportunity to do it and you go, doggone, all those years of experience as a coach, this is so different.  This is a different, different deal as a head football coach in this league.  So, every day from that point on that you’re appointed the head coach, you learn and that’s, it keeps your mind fresh and every day is a new day and it’s a pretty exciting thing.  So, there are only 32 of them in the whole world, man, so it’s pretty exciting.  I would tell you the same thing.  There’s a bunch of things I learned there, I’m going to try to do better here with.  I take full responsibility for the last couple years.  It wasn’t good enough, absolutely wasn’t good enough.  Learned some great lessons, I’m going to bring those with me along with all the other 12 years I was there.  I look at it as sort of 14 great years, I take that, I take all the experience of all 14 years, and try to do a better job.  We didn’t get the Super Bowl ring doggone it, Mike, and you know that’s what we’re all shooting for and we didn’t get it.  I’m going to try to do my best for this organization and allow them, all of us, to get a ring.

MF: The team that you’re with now, at least according to last year’s record, has the longest path to get to the top of the mountain.  When you look at what the Chiefs have, what happened to the Chiefs in 2012, what’s you’re assessment of why they finished 2-14?

AR:  Things didn’t work out.  Whether it was injuries or whatever, it just didn’t work out for them.  Specifically at specific positions, it didn’t work out.  I would take you to the other side of that and I just say good coaches and good players, if you can combine those things you’re going to win a lot of games.  If you can eliminate distractions, if there’s no pulling one way or the other, and this isn’t saying that that’s what happened there, I’m saying in general in this league.  If everyone is pulling in the same direction, front office, coaching staff, players, if you’re pulling in the same direction, when those things get out of whack, normally good things don’t happen.  So, you take those few facets, everyone pulling in the same direction, you take the combination of good players and good coaches, I think those are all important for teams to win.  And normally if they’re not something in those areas there, there’s a problem.

MF: You had a great comment the other day about looking for the next Len Dawson, the only quarterback who has led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl win.  The obvious question in response to that Coach is how do you go about finding the next Len Dawson in Kansas City?

AR: Well you better start by looking at the guys who are here.  And you better start with how many coordinators, well look at skill level, and then how many coordinators have these guys had?  How many changes?  That’s a fragile position right there, man.  If you’re talking about guys that you’re asking ‘Am I going to be a cardiologist or an orthopod?,’ one of those deals, and all of a sudden you’re going to change on them and make them overnight, in one year go from being the cardiologist to the orthopod, that’s a tough thing to do.  So that’s how it is when you have to learn new offenses and new ways, it’s not easy.  But you better analyze what’s there, and then you always keep your eyes open for that position, you’re always going to do that.  So, if you have a great player, you’re going to make sure you have a great backup, and so we’re going to do that.  We’ll look at it in draft, we’ll look at in in trade, we’ll look at it in free agency, we’ll keep our eyes open.  But first we’re going to look at what we have and analyze that.

MF: You’ve got a track record of getting the absolute most out of whatever quarterback you put on the field, you’ve done that consistently.  What is it that you do with a quarterback that gets him to be the best that he can be?  What is it that’s coachable that isn’t already part of that quarterback’s makeup?

AR:  As a coach, we’re here to teach, and to teach you better know your system.  As a coach, I’ve been lucky enough to have the Marty Mornhinwegs of the world, the Brad Childressess of the world, I mean I’ve had some good quarterback coaches of late, Doug Pederson, these are good football coaches, Pat Shurmur, good football coaches that can teach, most of all teach. And so, and then the players have been good players. It’s just a matter of being able to pull it out of that player and try to find what makes him tick and evaluate him the right way.  Make sure you find guys you can work into your system and then have the aptitude and ability, skill and ability, and can think on their feet maybe. You’ve got to do it quick, I mean real quick, and so you’ve got to be able to make accurate decisions in a very short amount of time.

MF: When do you anticipate making decisions about which coaches are going to be joining you as members of the staff in Kansas City?

AR: Doing it right now. Right now. We’ve been interviewing general managers and that process is still going on. And then I’ve made calls to coaches and I’m starting to bring them in here now. We’ve got the first ones on campus right now, so working through that process right now too.

MF: Any names you want to announce? No one’s really watching this, so, you know. . . .

AR: (laughing) That’s what I want to do right here. You are the best, man.

MF: You’ve got that first overall pick in the draft and it doesn’t seem like there are any quarterbacks out there that are worthy of being taken first overall, is that going to be the first thing you do when you evaluate the draft class?  Is there a quarterback that would be worthy of that first selection?

AR:  We’ll look at that position; we’re going to do that. We’ll look at all positions but we’re going look at that position. You’ve got to go through and analyze that, and that’s time right now.  We’re early in the process so we’ve got to get in and do all that, do all the evaluations and that’s a long tedious deal, but let’s get it knocked out.  A lot of the scouts and personnel guys have been doing that throughout the year and then what they do is, they bring the information in and then the coaches are part of the evaluation and then you build yourself up to a draft after having an opportunity to meet with these kids. We’ll see how it goes. Mike, the most important thing is that it’s the right pick.  So, we get so caught up, and you can’t get caught up right now and say you have to have a quarterback. You do that and it’s not the right guy, that’s a problem, that’s a real problem, that sets you back.  So whoever you take at that spot, it better be the right guy, that’s the most important, it doesn’t matter the position, really doesn’t matter, as long as he’s a good football player.

MF: One other area there’s been a lot of discussion on lately, and you played there this year, you go back there next year, FedEx Field. You’ve been there every year since it opened, a lot of criticism of the quality of the surface there. You were there in November, what’s your assessment of the condition, the quality, the overall playing surface at FedEx Field?

AR: The actual field itself?

MF: Yes, the actual turf itself.

AR: Well, Mike, it, it’s not bad (laughs). It’s not bad.

MF: Does that mean it’s not good?

AR: Well, I can’t tell you that it’s, it’s not bad. Listen, those grounds guys bust their tails to make sure it’s right, we played there this year. I’ve found in years past that it’s fine.

MF: But isn’t there a deeper issue that the NFL needs to be looking out now, Coach, that the NFL needs to be ensuring that these fields are always good, that they’re always the same. You’re talking about huge financial investments in the players, you want to keep them healthy, you don’t want them to get injured by anything other than the contact they experience on the football field and we know that’s inevitable, but you don’t what them to be injured by where they’re playing, where they’re running, how they’re setting their feet. Hasn’t the time come for the NFL to say we want the field to be as good as it can possible be in every NFL stadium?

AR: Listen, the field when we played there, it had rained, so there was a weather issues. In the years past the field’s been fine. I don’t know what happened the other day, I actually didn’t have a chance to see the game because I was doing this here.  You’re going to have to make that decision on that.  The one thing that I think people need to know, is that those grounds crew people spend so much time and effort there trying to make it right.

MF: Well, we know you’re going to be spending a lot of time and effort trying to make things right in Kansas City. It’s a new day for the Chiefs, a new day for you, and we wish you all the best. Congratulations on your success, best wishes going forward and we hope to talk to you soon.

AR: Listen Mike, it was my pleasure. Thank you.

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Mike Williams, Brad Smith added to PFT’s All-Unemployed Team

Mike Williams AP

Since published last week, PFT’s All-Unemployed Team has undergone a little turnover, with center Stefen Wisniewski (Jacksonville) and Michael Crabtree (Oakland) among those departing for the ranks of the job-holding.

With Crabtree gone, we had one spot open at wide receiver. However, we decided to add two receivers to the squad.

And both receivers, as it turns out, were one-time Bills.

However, Mike Williams and Brad Smith are different propositions for NFL clubs. The 27-year-old Williams has three 60-catch seasons to his credit. The 31-year-old Smith, on the other hand, has never caught more than 32 passes in a season.

Williams might have more upside. However, Smith can be used multiple ways. Smith has 134 career carries; Williams has one. Moreover, Smith is a former collegiate quarterback, and he has more special teams experience than Williams.

Williams might be a player who can still be developed. Smith, though, can do several things.

Whom do you prefer?

The answer probably depends on the club.

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Twenty years ago Saturday, Joe Montana called it a career

Joe Montana of the Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

As the 49ers’ Twitter feed points out, Saturday is the 20th anniversary of quarterback Joe Montana’s retirement from the NFL.

Montana’s departure came after two seasons with Kansas City, which traded a first-round pick for him in April 1993.

While Montana wasn’t able to finish his career with the franchise with whom he won four Super Bowls, the trade worked out well for him, the Niners and the Chiefs.

Let’s review.

The Chiefs made the postseason in both of Montana’s seasons as a starter. He led the club to a pair of playoff wins in ’93 — the franchise’s last two postseason victories to date. His Kansas City seasons were a bookend to a spectacular career that landed him in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

The 49ers, meanwhile, ended up trading the Chiefs’ first-round pick (No. 18, 1993) to Phoenix, as ProSportsTransactions.com notes. The 49ers then traded down again, landing at No. 26 in Round One, where they selected defensive Dana Stubblefield, who was a starter on their dominant Super Bowl XXIX-winning club of 1994.

But the 49ers’ draft haul from the Montana trade didn’t stop there.

In trading down for Stubblefield, the 49ers landed the No. 81 overall pick, a third-rounder. They packaged a second-round pick (No. 56) and the 81st pick to the Los Angeles Raiders for a second-round pick (No. 41).

It gets better. The 49ers then moved that 1993 second-round pick to the Chargers for San Diego’s first-round pick in the 1994 NFL Draft (No. 15 overall). The Chargers, for the record, took tailback Natrone Means, who helped that franchise get to Super Bowl XXIX.

So what did the 49ers do with the Chargers’ first-round pick? According to ProSportsTransactions.com, the 49ers traded it to the Los Angeles Rams for the No. 7 pick to take defensive tackle Bryant Young — who, like Stubblefield, was a starter at defensive tackle right off the bat. And when the Chargers and 49ers met in Super Bowl XXIX, Means rushed for just 33 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

To review: Joe Montana helped the 49ers win four Super Bowls, and when the franchise moved on from him, it picked up a couple of key pieces needed to win a fifth Super Bowl.

There’s a reason why the 49ers were as good as they were for as long as they were. Did they ever know talent, and did they ever know how to work the draft.

The words “Joe Montana, third-round pick” ought to ring a bell, too.

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Gates says he’s not looking to play less

Gates Getty Images

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates recently said that, instead of playing “the whole game” in 2015, he’s more likely to play only in those situation where he’s likely to get the ball.  He now says he didn’t say what it sounded like he said.

“For me, to put in all this work in all these years and have the opportunity to play and say I don’t want to play, I don’t know where people got that from,” Gates told Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego.

They got it from his own words:  “With injuries and whatnot, I played a little bit more than they expected me to play last season,” Gates told TheMMQB.com.  “I was playing the whole game.  How I feel next year, it depends on how much volume they have me doing.  I’d like to come in on third-and-7s, red zones, those situations.  That’s what my contribution is at anyway.”

“It was probably a misquote or a misunderstanding,” Gates explained to Gehlken.  “I ain’t asking to play less.  Every time I’m in a game, I feel like I have the opportunity to make a play.  Why would I want to be on the sideline?  That defeats the purpose.  The only way you can contribute is by being in the game.”

So Gates doesn’t want to play less in 2015.  Regardless of whether he said he does.

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Marcedes Lewis takes pay cut to stay in Jacksonville

Marcus Gilchrist, Marcedes Lewis AP

Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis was on the trade block, but not anymore.

Lewis has agreed to a new deal and will stay in Jacksonville.

“I’m pumped to be a part of something exciting and be a big part of it,” Lewis told the Florida Times-Union.

The reports about Lewis’s new contract are calling it a “restructuring” and not a “pay cut,” but a pay cut is what it is. Lewis will turn 31 next month, was scheduled to cost $8.2 million against the Jaguars’ salary cap this season, and caught just 18 passes last year. Obviously, the Jaguars wouldn’t have kept him at his previous cap number.

Now Lewis will stick around another year, and although he’s no longer the top tight end in town after the arrival of Julius Thomas, he’ll get a chance to be a part of turning the Jaguars around.

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Bryant, Wells dispute lingers

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

The sending in February of a cease-and-desist letter to the former adviser of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant hasn’t resolved the situation.

Per multiple sources, Wells still has not complied with specific requests made at the end of the February 20 letter, a copy of which PFT has obtained.

“You have until 5 p.m. EST, Monday, February 23, 2015 to provide us with the requested money and materials, as well as written confirmation of your compliance with the demands set forth in this letter,” the communication from Jordan W. Siev to Wells states.  “Absent your full and immediate compliance with these demands, we will take all appropriate actions to enforce our client’s rights, which may include commencing litigation against you to assert claims of conversion, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud, among other claims, seeking a preliminary injunction, and seeking an award of compensatory and punitive damages, and reimbursement of all of our costs and attorneys’ fees resulting from your actions.”

The letter specifically refers to a payment received by Wells on Bryant’s behalf from BioSteel Sports Supplements.  Bryant’s representatives contend that Wells kept the money.

It’s unclear at this point whether any legal action will be taken by Bryant against Wells.  According to one source, the primary purpose of the letter was to terminate the power of attorney Wells previously held on behalf of Bryant.

Ultimately, Bryant has the right to change agents and advisers, whenever he wants and for whatever reason.  Bryant made a comment Friday indicating he realizes his agents and advisers work for him, not the other way around.

“I’m the one making the decisions on who to trust and who to be surrounded by,” Bryant said, via Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News.  “I’ve surrounded myself with people who I think deserve to be trusted.”

This implies that Bryant believes Wells and other former representatives/advisors didn’t deserve to be trusted.  Which could further alienate Wells, who had been Bryant’s closest confidant and adviser during the early days of his NFL career.

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Wisniewski lands in Jacksonville

Wis AP

Center Stefen Wisniewski has a new home.  Finally.

The free-agent lineman, who spent the first four seasons of his career with the Raiders, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Jaguars, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.  The decision came after visits and/or discussions with the Titans, Jaguars, Patriots, Buccaneers, Seahawks, Bears, and Washington.

The short duration of the deal isn’t surprising; at this stage of the free-agency process, the big money is long gone.  So he’ll try to have a big year in Jacksonville and hit the market again in 2016.

A Pittsburgh native, Wisniewski played from the moment he arrived as a second-round pick in 2011, with 61 appearances and 61 starts.  As a rookie, Wisniewski played left guard; he shifted to center in 2012.  Wisniewski became displaced in Oakland when the Raiders signed Rodney Hudson last month.

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Rex Ryan goes after Jace Amaro again

Rex AP

Former Jets coach Rex Ryan continues to hold Jets tight end Jace Amaro accountable for his contention that the Jets weren’t held accountable in 2014, Ryan’s last one with the team.

It’s not the truth,” Ryan said Saturday morning on WFAN radio, via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com.

Rex then became more circumspect in his remarks about Amaro:  “That kid’s a little . . . he’s going to get . . . we’ll see what happens,” Rex told Kimberly Jones..

“I just know it’s not the truth, and for him or anybody else to pop off like that, I think is absolutely a joke,” Ryan said.  “Now, look, if David Harris would have said something, or D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, or someone, I would be hurt by it.  I would be absolutely devastated by it.  But a kid like that?  Nah.  I know him, and that doesn’t bother me one bit.”

If it did bother Rex, his comments presumably would be even stronger.  If that’s even possible.

He’s full of sh-t,” Rex recently told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com, “and I’ll remind him of that when we play him.  Look, we weren’t perfect, and I never said we were going to be perfect.  But that’s a f–king b.s. comment.”

So, basically, I don’t know whether I’d rather see the Bills face the Patriots on the first Thursday night of the season, or the Bills against the Jets on Sunday night.

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Medical re-check provides good news on Todd Gurley

Gurley AP

Former Georgia running back Todd Gurley appears poised to be the first running back selected in the first round of the draft in three years.

Gurley, who looked like a sure-thing first-round pick before suffering a torn ACL in November, had his surgically reconstructed knee inspected by doctors as part of the NFL’s medical-recheck today in Indianapolis. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Gurley’s knee checked out fine and there’s optimism that he’ll be good to go in time for training camp.

That likely means Gurley will go in the first round of the draft, something that we haven’t seen since 2012. In 2013 the first running back selected was Giovani Bernard with the fifth pick in the second round, and in 2014 the first running back selected was Bishop Sankey with the 22nd pick in the second round.

When healthy, Gurley is a powerful runner and kickoff returner with breakaway speed. If NFL teams are convinced he’ll be healthy in time to play a full rookie season, then he should be a high pick.

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Steelers’ doctors clear Jaelen Strong’s wrist

jaelen-strong-arizona-state-sun-devils-catching-pass Getty Images

We noted yesterday that former Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong would miss Saturday’s medical re-check in Indianapolis, and that he had a visit with the Steelers. As it turned out, Strong’s visit allowed the Steelers’ doctors to give Strong’s injured wrist a thorough check.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Strong went through a battery of tests on his wrist during his visit to Pittsburgh. According to Schefter, the Steelers’ doctors cleared Strong and are sending the results of his checkup to other teams.

It’s odd that Strong is getting the re-check from the Steelers’ doctors rather than going through the process that most players recovering from injuries go through in Indianapolis. It’s unclear whether every other team will be satisfied with getting a report from the Steelers’ staff.

Despite a report that Strong would need surgery to repair the broken bone in his wrist, Strong says he played five games through the injury and is fine.

Strong will attend the draft and is viewed as a late-first or early-second-round pick.

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Russell Wilson says Rangers want him to play baseball

Wilson AP

When some of the quotes first emerged from Russell Wilson’s interview with HBO’s Bryant Gumbel regarding Wilson playing baseball, it sounded like the musings of an elite, 25-year-old athlete who thinks he can do anything — but who surely would never undermine his football career by playing professional baseball.  Based on the full interview, it sounds like a stronger possibility.

After Wilson suggests that he may “push the envelope a little bit” and play football and baseball, Gumbel pounces.

“Let’s be blunt,” Gumbel says in an interview that debuts Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m. ET.  “You played minor league ball for a while.  Correct me if I’m wrong.  Numbers were .227 average, five homers, 26 RBI.  If the numbers were better, would you [play baseball and football]?”

“I wouldn’t be worried about the statistics of it,” Wilson replies.  “I know I can play in the big leagues.  With the work ethic and all that, I think I definitely could for sure.  And that’s why the Texas Rangers got my rights.  And they want me to play.  Jon Daniels, the G.M., wants me to play.  We were talking about it the other day.”

The Seahawks G.M., John Schneider, was talking about it the other day, too.  And Schneider isn’t ready to assume Wilson would fail.

“I think one of the primary things that really attracted Russell to us — I know me in particular — was the confidence he has in himself and the goals, dreams, aspirations,” Schneider told KIRO radio.  “He’s off the charts in terms of his confidence level and the way he views himself, so it doesn’t surprise me that he would think that way.  Quite frankly, I haven’t thought much about the baseball aspect of it.  Based on the position that he plays in football, I think it would be difficult.  But the way he attacks everything, I don’t think you could put anything past him.”

Schneider also declined to say whether the Seahawks would try to stop Wilson from playing baseball.  It was smart to sidestep the question, because a football-only ultimatum from N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien sparked Wilson to transfer to Wisconsin.

“I’ll never forget it,” Wilson says.  “I’ll never forget the times that people have told me that I couldn’t do something.”

That’s ultimately good news for Schneider and the Seahawks, because Wilson believes the interception at the end of Super Bowl XLIX won’t define him.

“Even if you don’t get back [to the Super Bowl]?” Gumbel says.

“I’ll get back.”

“You’re sure of that.”

“I’ll get back.”

Whether and how often he gets back could depend on how much of the team’s salary cap is devoted to him.  That wasn’t a topic that came up in the interview with Gumbel.  Soon, it’ll be an issue far more important than his lingering baseball dream and Super Bowl nightmare.

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Trent Baalke thinks Aldon Smith is primed for a big year

Aldon Smith AP

Aldon Smith has had so much off-field trouble during his time with the 49ers that there’s been talk that General Manager Trent Baalke should have just cut him. But not only is Baalke not getting rid of Smith, Baalke says Smith is primed for a big 2015 season.

He’s got a great look in his eye. He’s doing well,” Baalke told ESPN. “For anybody that’s been in a situation like Aldon’s been in, every day is a process. But he’s doing exceptionally well and he’s probably in as good a shape as he’s been in a long time.”

Smith missed nine games last season because of an NFL suspension, and when he did play he didn’t play particularly well, with just two sacks in seven games — a sharp decline from his 42 sacks in 43 games in his first three seasons. But Baalke said that Smith has had perfect attendance during offseason workouts and is even taking the lead with his teammates.

“[He’s] starting to develop into a leader out there, which is great to see and been a pleasure to watch,” Baalke said.

For the 49ers, who have experienced plenty of losses elsewhere on the roster, a return to form for Smith would go a long way toward getting their defense back on track. Baalke likes Smith’s chances of making it happen.

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New schedule-release target is Tuesday or Wednesday

2011 NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Few targets move like the one that eventually will trigger the release of the NFL’s regular-season schedule.  Originally planned for next Thursday, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the finalists are now Tuesday and Wednesday.

The schedule is and has been ready to go.  As another source tells PFT, the league circulates the finished product to some of the more influential owners for “beta testing” before making it officials.  It’s unclear whether any of the owners have the juice to force changes to the schedule; some adjustments would require more effort than shuffling a couple of games around.  It could be that Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose job partially entails keeping a constituency of 32 as happy as possible, wants some of the key members of the group that determines his terms of employment to feel as if they are involved.

And they should be.  It’s ultimately their sport.  Besides, a fresh look at the 256-game slate from a self-made billionaire or two (and even from some of the guys who had the billions handed to them at birth) can’t hurt.

Regarding the specific day for releasing the schedule, NFL Network typically has a strong voice in the process.  Currently, the word is that NFLN prefers Wednesday.

Either way, the wait for applying the “when” to the “who” and the “where” will end soon.

And it’s not as trivial an exercise as some would suggest.  Apart from letting fans make travel plans games the intend to attend or permitting fans to begin anticipating key prime-time and other high-profile games, individual teams will know whether they’ll be facing an array of cream puffs to start the season, a murderer’s row, or something in between.  For some franchises, the won-loss record at the end of September could be a major factor in whether the team does or doesn’t get to the postseason.

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New Colt Andre Johnson not focused on facing the Texans

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

When the NFL schedule comes out next week, some fans will circle the dates of the Colts-Texans games, when Andre Johnson will face his old team. But Johnson isn’t thinking about that.

Johnson, who signed in Indianapolis last month after 12 seasons in Houston, says he’s not motivated by revenge, anger or any animosity toward the Texans.

“Everybody thinks I went to the Colts to try to get back at the Texans, and stuff like that,” Johnson told ESPN. “That had nothing to do with it. I just went to the best place where I felt that was the best fit for me where I can have the best chance to win a championship. It wasn’t about circling dates or nothing against the Texans. I had 12 great years.”

Johnson’s return to Houston in a Colts uniform may be emotional for him, for his teammates and for fans. But once the ball is kicked off, it’s just another game.

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Bucs not concerned about Winston giving up football for baseball

Winston AP

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have plenty of reasons to potentially be concerned about quarterback Jameis Winston.  But they continue not to be, in large part because they’ve done their homework on him.

One potential area of concern comes from the possibility that, if discouraged by the difficulty of adjusting to the next level of football, Winston will trade in the pigskin for the horsehide, leaving the NFL and embarking on a baseball career.  That’s a possibility the Buccaneers have considered, and they’re confident it won’t happen.

It always has been my dream, but I’m just playing football right now,” Winston said in February, leaving the door slightly ajar for the possibility of playing baseball and football professionally.

For the Buccaneers, who wasted the first overall pick 29 years ago on a running back who opted for baseball (Bo Jackson), the nightmare scenario would entail Winston deciding that football at the NFL level is much harder than he thought it would be, and opting instead to give baseball a try.  For that reason, Tampa Bay’s research on Winston has included getting a frank assessment of his baseball prospects.  While a role as a major-league relief pitcher wouldn’t be impossible for Winston, it wouldn’t be automatic, either.  In turn, it wouldn’t provide the kind of quick-fix that could tempt a guy to trade NFL football for Major League Baseball.

The Bucs realize that nothing can be completely ruled out, but as they stand poised to make him the first overall pick in the draft, they’re confident that this Bo will know to stick with football.

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Report: Nike reaches deals with Mariota, Winston, three other top prospects

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If it’s draft season, then it’s time for apparel companies to strike deals with some of the top incoming NFL prospects.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Nike has signed Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon to endorsement contracts.

News of the Nike deal with Winston comes as he faces a civil lawsuit regarding a sexual assault allegation levied by a Florida State student in 2012. Winston was never charged criminally in connection with the allegation.

“Jameis has stated his innocence regarding serious charges made against him. We’ll continue to monitor the situation,” a Nike spokesperson told ESPN.com.

Winston, Mariota, Gurley and Cooper played for schools that sported Nike-branded uniforms. Gordon, meanwhile, wore an Adidas-branded uniform at Wisconsin.

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