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Brendon Ayanbadejo ‏apologizes for comments about the Patriots

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With a day to think about it, Brendon Ayanbadejo ‏would like to recant his claims about the Patriots.

Ayanbadejo, the Ravens linebacker who ripped the Patriots on Twitter Sunday night over Spygate and an offense that Ayanbadejo described as a “gimmick,” returned to Twitter on Monday morning and said he was sorry for what he had said.

Ayanbadejo’s comments about the Patriots were surprising and out of character for a player who’s generally viewed around the NFL as intelligent and levelheaded. The Patriots said they didn’t particularly care about anything anyone was saying in the social media, so any talk that Ayanbadejo’s tweets would make their way to a bulletin board at the Patriots’ facilities can be dismissed.

But that doesn’t mean the Ravens were happy that one of their players spoke out of turn like that. It seems likely that Ravens coach John Harbaugh or someone else in the team’s leadership leaned on Ayanbadejo to apologize and move on.

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OTT may not be the future of the NFL, for much of the country

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‘Member when getting online consisted of hearing the dial tone, the rapid succession of the numbers being punched up by the modem, and the inevitable screeching and squawking until silence returned and the slow wait commenced for the images to gradually appear and the speakers to proclaim, “You’ve got mail”? For many, it’s not a memory.

So as the NFL plots a future of game-content delivery that consists of OTT services that rely on the high-speed Internet connections that many have taken for granted, it’s important to keep in mind the reality that millions are still living in AOLworld. Consider this June 15 article from the Wall Street Journal, dubbed “Rural America is Stranded in the Dial-Up Age.”

“Delivering up-to-date broadband service to distant reaches of the U.S. would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, experts estimate, an expense government, industry and consumers haven’t been willing to pay,” explains the item from Jennifer Levitz and Valerie Bauerlein. As a result, high-speed Internet access is either not available or ridiculously expensive in much of the country.

Which means that, while plenty have ditched cable or satellite TV for devices that deliver the images and sound just as quickly and reliably, plenty of people continue to be limited to the traditional means of receiving and digesting TV programming. And that doesn’t even include the millions who live in areas that have high-speed Internet available, but who due to economic limitations rely only on the free, over-the-air signals captured by rabbit-ear antennas.

Thus, while it’s a major part of the NFL’s future when it comes to Internet users who opt out of cable and satellite, OTT can’t be a replacement for those who don’t have that luxury.

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Jamal Adams draws “unbelievable” review for offseason work

AP

The offseason has not been filled with positive stories about the Jets, but there’s at least one exception to the overall tone around the team heading into the 2017 season.

Safety Jamal Adams was the team’s first-round pick in April and he was ticketed for the starting lineup even before Calvin Pryor was dealt to the Browns for linebacker Demario Davis. Coach Todd Bowles has called Adams “very instinctive” while mostly sticking to coachspeak about the rookie, but cornerback Morris Claiborne has been more effusive about what he’s seen from Adams in his first practices as a pro.

“The things he has done so far? He’s unbelievable,” Claiborne said, via NJ.com. “He’s been out here playing lights out. Picking up the defense, checking to different things, knowing what he wants to check to. He’s having fun doing it, too. His spirit is awesome. He’s having fun doing what he knows how to do, and that’s football. I can’t be more impressed with a young guy coming into the league, and, especially playing on that backend, doing the things he’s done so far.”

It will take more than hitting on one safety for the Jets’ rebuild to be a success, but every journey has to start somewhere. Adams making good on the hype he generated at LSU would be as good a departure point for the Jets as any.

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Monday morning one-liners

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Bills S Jordan Poyer is happy to be able to play after last year’s kidney injury.

Special teams work was a big reason why DB Michael Thomas got a new contract with the Dolphins.

A look at some of the rookies the Patriots will play against this season.

Jets CB Juston Burris has his eyes on a starting job.

The biggest competitions for roster spots at Ravens training camp.

Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick was on the same side as Antonio Brown when Brown turned out for Kirkpatrick’s football camp.

The Browns have high hopes for TE Seth DeValve.

Steelers DL Javon Hargrave talked about what he learned during his rookie season.

The start to Wes Welker’s coaching career with the Texans has gone well.

Former Colts LB Robert Mathis shared his thoughts on Pacers star Paul George’s possible departure.

Can Cam Robinson handle playing guard for the Jaguars during his rookie season?

Titans WR Harry Douglas likes what he’s seen from the team’s rookie wideouts.

The Broncos’ chefs are sharing the recipes they whip up for the team.

Zach Fulton is trying to hold onto his starting guard spot with the Chiefs.

Raiders T Marshall Newhouse took in a NASCAR race at Sonoma.

The Chargers hope CB Jason Verrett is ready to go at training camp.

A look at the competition for backup tight end spots with the Cowboys.

The Giants’ only kicker isn’t a well-known player at this point.

Who will return kickoffs for the Eagles?

What is quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell working on with Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

Markus Wheaton believes people underrate the Bears wide receivers.

The Lions are expecting contributions from several running backs.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers made a winning visit to the “$100,000 Pyramid.”

LB Eric Kendricks expects the Vikings will be more successful this season.

Falcons LB Duke Riley plans to work out with Odell Beckham Jr. in the near future.

How does Panthers coach Ron Rivera measure up to his peers?

A call for the Saints to leave the door open for Peyton Manning to have a role in the organization.

Until they get on-field results, the Buccaneers won’t get much national respect.

Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu hopes his football camp inspires constructive work from the campers.

An optimistic prediction for Rams QB Jared Goff’s second season.

Is Mike Shanahan’s presence around the 49ers a good thing for the team?

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett and his brother/Packers TE Martellus Bennett were recognized for their philanthropic work.

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Mets G.M. on Tim Tebow: “We recognize this is not a usual circumstance”

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The traditional stats might not seem to merit a promotion, but the Mets are seeing things in Tim Tebow to justify moving him up a level in their minor league system.

Despite hitting .220 for the  low-A Columbia Fireflies, the Mets promoted him to high-A St. Lucie yesterday.

“His on-base, his isolated power, his swing, exit velocity. A lot of different things have been much better in the last 15 games or something like that,” Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said, via Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. “On the other hand, we recognize this is not a usual circumstance, but we just felt, everything involved, it was about the right time for him to move to high-A ball.”

Tebow has 23 RBI and three home runs, but he’s also second on the team with 14 doubles. He strikes out a lot (69 times in 214 at bats), and he’s also 29 years old.

“I think we’re pleased with the first half of the season. It’s not like he’s tearing up the league, but at the same time all the indications are positive in terms of various things we look at, chase rates, exit velocities and other things,” Alderson said. “The bottom line is the average isn’t there, but he’s improving. . . .

“There was a chance he would completely bomb in spring training, that didn’t happen. His performance there justified assignment to a full-season club. He went to Columbia. I wouldn’t say he’s excelled there, but I would say what he’s done there, given all the circumstances, justifies the promotion to St. Lucie.”

That’s just about the definition of damning with faint praise, but Tebow has continued to work on his second sport, and get high marks for his intangibles. That’s always been the case, regardless of sport.

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“Annoyed” by hearing about Antonio Brown’s work ethic, Joshua Dobbs now witnesses it

AP

Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs used to hear a lot about receiver Antonio Brown. Now Dobbs understands why.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones previously coached at Central Michigan, where Brown played college football. And Jones still points to Brown as an example of the kind of effort he’s looking for, to the point where some of his current players get sick of hearing about it.

“I heard a lot of talk about him from Coach Jones,” Dobbs said during a Sunday night visit to NewsChannel5 in Nashville, “and you almost got annoyed to the point of talking about his work ethic. But then when you get to camp and you see the attention that he puts into each and every rep, how hard he works, and then the amount of hours that he puts into his craft outside of the complex, you definitely see where the coaches were coming from and the point they were trying to make.”

And so the guy who made the most out of his free education in Tennessee (graduating with a degree in mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering) is already getting the most out of his paid education in Pittsburgh, where he quickly learned one other important lesson during the Stanley Cup Final: He ditched the Nashville Predators sweater for a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater.

“I am guilty,” Dobbs said.

If he hopes to win hearts and minds in Pittsburgh, he’s not being guilty. He’s just being smart.

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Charcandrick West raves about Patrick Mahomes’ arm strength

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Chiefs running back Charcandrick West has caught some practice passes from rookie first-round quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and he’s feeling it in his hands.

West told NFL Media that it forced him to take notice when he saw how quickly the ball was getting to him when Mahomes throws it.

“Man, this kid can throw the football,” West said. “Man, I mean, I ran I think a slant route and I was like, woah. It was crazy. He’s got a cannon on him.”

Having a cannon is not something anyone would say about the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, Alex Smith. So whenever Mahomes supplants Smith, Mahomes will bring something to the table that Smith does not.

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Raiders taking pride in a new, cleaner image

AP

The Raiders have an image, and they know it. To be honest, they cultivated it for a long time, and successfully.

But as a new team prepares to move to a new city in a few years, they want to make sure the people of Las Vegas know they aren’t some marauding band of felons, descending upon their city.

As noted by Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Raiders have the longest streak in the NFL of not having a player arrested (going back to 2014).

And coupled with the programs they run for players throughout the year, they are taking pride in being something other than what they were perceived to be for years.

“The people that know the Raiders in Las Vegas, they know the Oakland Raiders, the Los Angeles Raiders, through parents, uncles and aunts,” Raiders director of player engagement Lamonte Winston said. “There was a certain persona. Well, that’s totally changed. . . . These are the new Raiders where we have educational platforms, where our guys are going back to school, where our guys are establishing businesses. We want young people in Las Vegas, student-athletes, to know that character counts with us. It really is important to us.

“Before we put the pads on and start knocking heads, (for) the men who put on those helmets, character counts. Professionalism counts. Academics count. Respect counts. That’s what we want to bring to the community.”

At the moment, it’s all on the upswing for the Raiders, with an ascending team on the field, full of likable stars who seem just plain nice. That’s not always what the Raiders have sold, but this seems to work for them now.

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Cam Jordan: Saints are ready to win Super Bowl now

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees raised eyebrows when he told PFT Live in March that his team is “very close” to getting back to the Super Bowl. One of his teammates has now taken the next step.

“We’re building a team to win a Super Bowl,” defensive end Cam Jordan tells Greg Bishop of SI.com, who guest-wrote Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column this week. “We’re not building for the future. It’s hard not to believe in our team. We’re ready to win it now.”

So how much of that is the glass-half-full optimism/delusion that litters the league in June, and how much of it is real? The Saints have put together three straight 7-9 seasons despite having an abysmal defense. If the defense improves a little, they get to the playoffs. If the defense improves a lot, they’ll be partying like it’s 2009, with the kind of record that forces the road to Minnesota through Louisiana.

The team continues to be led by a 38-year-old quarterback whose teammates still believe in him. Zealously.

“Is there a better quarterback?” Jordan said regarding Brees. “You tell me how many 5,000-yard seasons have been produced in NFL history.”

There have been nine, in the 98-year history of the league. Brees has five of them. Every other quarterback who ever has played the game combined has four.

The Saints also have Adrian Peterson, a potential secret weapon that the team hasn’t been trying very hard to keep secret. Multiple players have praised his lingering abilities. If, when paired with Brees, Peterson can perform like he has throughout his career when healthy, many who should have seen it coming will be saying “we should have seen it coming.”

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NFL uses eye-tracking technology to improve game presentation

The NFL has decided to take steps aimed at improving the TV presentation of its games, with specific focus on pace. To do that, the league actually went to the homes of fans to “replicat[e] the game experience.”

That’s what NFL COO Tod Leiweke told the second annual Geek Wire Sports Tech Conference at CenturyLink Field, via Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.

“We’re really starting to study how people are watching games,’’ Leiweke said. “And we’re doing it in really, really interesting ways.’’

Among other things, the league is using eye-tracking technology in fan homes to monitor the things they follow during the games, along with what they do during commercial breaks. The study has contributed to a decision to reduce the total number of commercial breaks from five per quarter to four.

“They want a pace of play that doesn’t involve us chopping things up,’’ Leiweke said. “[Y]ou’re going to see, next [season] really working hard to tighten up that game presentation and present the game with more of that pace.’’

It’s all part of an effort to deal with any ever-changing present that continues to raise questions about the future, given the explosion of options that consumers now have when it comes to the many different ways to spend their time — considerably more than the days when the options were to watch one of three channels on TV, read a book or a magazine, or stare off into space like David Puddy.

“Anyone who thinks they know exactly what’s going to happen is not telling you the truth,’’ Leiweke said. “Because it’s very, very hard to tell, in this rapidly changing world, what this is all going to look like in 2025.’’

It’s very, very to tell what it’s all going to look like in 2017. For those who watch NFL games, it’s apparently going to start looking a lot different.

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Report: Dorsey decision fueled by concerns over communication, management style

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Typically, the reasons for the firing of a G.M. are clear, either because the team has stunk or the organization has clumsily leaked the reasons in advance of the move. In Kansas City, it’s still not clear why the General Manager of a team that has made it to the playoffs three times in four years was dumped on the same day the head coach was extended.

According to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, concerns about communication and management styles contributed at least in part to the seemingly abrupt decision to part ways with G.M. John Dorsey.

John does stuff and doesn’t tell people why,” an unnamed source told Paylor regarding the decision to move on from a pair of executives, Trip MacCracken and Will Lewis, without much internal explanation. Another unnamed source told Paylor that Dorsey’s management style “could wear on people.”

“He’s not a big disciplinarian or big on chain of command, so people did what they wanted,” an unnamed source told Paylor.

“It’s more about his management skills,” another unnamed source told Paylor.

It’s unclear what was done to remedy the situation before taking the drastic step of firing a G.M. who had been getting the job done, or whether Dorsey had been put on notice of his deficiencies before termination became the right move for the Chiefs. The circumstances invite speculation that coach Andy Reid, who received an extension on the same day Dorsey got a pink slip, at a minimum approved of the move and at maximum wanted it. It’s also possible, however, that owner Clark Hunt simultaneously evaluated both men and decided that one should get extra additional years with the team and the other should get none.

Regardless, the termination happened so swiftly and surprisingly to people outside and inside the organization that it’s easy to wonder whether a man now accused of having a subpar management style was also the victim of substandard management practices.

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Vacation (not really) starts tomorrow

It’s vacation time here at PFT. Which means, basically, nothing.

The work never stops because the news never stops and, frankly, none of this is really work. So as I embark on a four-week mandatory vacation (that sounds so much better than “suspension”) from PFT Live, a flood of new stories will continue to be posted here every day at PFT, and new audio/video content will continue to appear on a daily basis, even if PFT Live will be on hiatus from NBCSN (thanks, Tour de France) and replacements will be handling the weekday radio show on NBC Sports Radio.

On most of the weekdays over the next four weeks I’ll be taping a podcast that will replace the daily PFT Live podcasts. The podcasts will be available on Apple Podcasts, audioBoom, and wherever else you get the PFT Live podcast.

So, basically, whether you’re working or on vacation we’re going nowhere. Which means we hope you’ll continue to park right here, multiple times per day every day.

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Should NFL hold its draft before free agency?

AP

The question was posed during Thursday night’s NBA draft in the form of a Twitter poll, and NFL fans who are typically reluctant to change embraced the idea by a 12-point margin: Hold the NFL draft before NFL free agency.

Basketball and hockey both do it. Perhaps the NFL should, too.

For veteran players, the knee-jerk reaction would be that they don’t want their looming paydays to be usurped by younger and cheaper draft picks, as teams fill needs by adding rookies in lieu of paying veterans. But what about the teams that don’t get what they want or need in the draft? At that point, a premium could be paid to add a talented veteran free agent because there’s no “screw it we’ll just draft someone” fallback.

One practical impediment to what would be a dramatic change to the offseason calendar comes from the intense time and effort devoted to the draft from the moment football season ends. With the Scouting Combine and Pro Days and team visits and private workouts, the draft couldn’t be moved up by very much if at all, thereby delaying free agency into April, and perhaps May. With offseason programs opening in April, that’s hardly ideal.

So while it’s fun to think about teams first drafting players and then signing veterans, the NFL isn’t likely to change its approach any time soon. Unless the NFL decides that there’s plenty of money to be made by turning the offseason on its head.

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Mark Cuban hopes to emulate Jerry Jones

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Two of the highest-profile American sports owners run their teams in Texas, where everything that’s bigger includes the egos of business moguls. But there seems to be no negativity between Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Cuban recently expressed excitement and praise for Jones, as he prepares to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Hopefully I emulate all this,” Cuban said, “Jerry had two goals: One, to be successful in business and he knew he had to sell, and two, to win. And when you’re trying to be successful usually someone’s not going to take kindly to the way you do it. Jerry’s always been a great salesperson and he set the example if you want to be successful it doesn’t hurt to eat, sleep and breathe your company. He’s done that and he does that to this day.”

That’s significant, given Cuban’s failed effort to back the long-dead UFL and his “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered” forecast for the grab-every-dollar NFL. But despite the flaws of pro football, Jones has been a huge part of what has made it continuously greater and greater since he bought the Cowboys in 1989. Jerry’s passion to make his franchise a success forced recalcitrant old-school owners to buy in, despite their desire to not fix things they deemed to be unbroken.

Even if something is working well, it can always be made to work better. Jones used business acumen to make that happen. Along the way he won three championships. Which is more than most owners can say, in any sport.

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Dede Westbrook has clear goals to achieve “at the beginning of the season”

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While he stopped short of reprising the Randy Moss vow to “rip up” the NFL, fellow Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook seems to have a plan for his rookie year. And he apparently plans to put it in motion quickly.

“[W]e all know what I’m capable of,” Westbrook said at an autograph session in Oklahoma, via Kendrick Marshall of the Tulsa World. “Of course, the expectations are high for me. I set goals for myself that I want to obtain at the beginning of the season.”

Drafted in round four despite off-field issues and a crowded Jacksonville depth chart, Westbrook quickly was compared to controversial 2016 Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill when the Jaguars justified the move.

“[W]hatever role they want me to play,” Westbrook said Saturday. He could be playing multiple roles, given his skills from scrimmage and in the return game. Overall, however, Westbrook realizes the transition from college to the NFL won’t be easy.

“The fact that you have to go out and practice hard each and every day — the playbook is huge,” Westbrook said. “It isn’t like college anymore, where pretty much everything is guaranteed as far as a scholarship goes. Regardless if you’re drafted or not, in the NFL you can get cut.”

That’s a very accurate observation, especially with 90-man rosters that eventually will shrink to 53. But Westbrook, if he stays out of trouble, could end up being a big part of a turnaround in Jacksonville that many have believed has been due for the past few years. Getting key contributors in the middle rounds of the draft will be one of the ingredients in building the roster of a contender, and if Westbrook reaches the goals he has for the early part of the season maybe this year will be the year the Jaguars finally match their performance to their potential.

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Terrelle Pryor working out with Antonio Brown

AP

Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is still relatively new to wide receiver and his preparation for his first season at the position in Washington includes work with one of the best wideouts in the league.

Pryor posted video and pictures on social media of workouts with Steelers star Antonio Brown in recent days. Pryor spoke earlier in the offseason about plans to work with Randy Moss and Michael Irvin as well and the Redskins free agent pickup said this spring that he knows he still has a lot to learn after playing quarterback for the majority of his career.

“The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it,” Pryor said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “They always want to learn. I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there. I’m always pinpoint in meetings, always answering questions. I jump on a question before anyone else can. I enjoy it. Once you stop learning and think you’ve got it, that’s when you lose. I never want to get to that point. I’m always curious, how to get better and how to be a dominant player and how to make people look at me and say, ‘I want to be like that.’ That’s what drives me.”

Brown, Moss and Irvin are pretty good people to go to for pointers about how to succeed as a receiver in the NFL and continued growth from Pryor will make his new team very happy he’s part of the offense in 2017.

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