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Demand for Darrell Bevell grows

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Russell Wilson’s list of career accomplishments may also include doing something that Brett Favre never was able to pull off:  Getting Darrell Bevell a head-coaching job.

Bevell, who never gained much if any steam as a head-coaching candidate while tutoring Brett Favre (or, for that matter, Tarvaris Jackson), has now landed on the “A” list after a single season with Wilson.

A finalist for the head-coaching job in Chicago, Bevell has now landed on the interview list in Arizona, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Bevell, who also will interview with the Jaguars, joins a short list with the Cardinals, which includes only Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and current Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton.  The Cardinals were believed to be extremely interested in new Chargers coach Mike McCoy, with the apparent goal of keeping Horton in charge of the defense and pumping up an offense with perhaps the worst quarterback depth chart in all of football.

Now that it’s down to Gruden and Horton, Bevell becomes an intriguing intra-division option.

Of course, the current status of the NFC West could make the Cardinals’ job even less attractive.  With a pair of elite teams in Seattle and San Francisco and the Rams on the rise, the next coach hired by the Cardinals could end up being the next coach fired by the Cardinals before too long.

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Las Vegas investors: $750 million in public money for Raiders, or else

briefcase-cash Getty Images

Las Vegas is fairly new to the business of being a potential host for professional football, but the group that’s trying to bring the Raiders there is already employing a good old-fashioned NFL shakedown.

According to the Associated Press, the group headed by Sheldon Adelson told a local oversight committee last night that they needed no less than $750 million of public money for the project, and would walk away from their project if they don’t get it.

“Not to be difficult, but we’re not negotiable,” said Sands president Rob Goldstein, who spoke on behalf of billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his family. “If we can’t get 750, we respectfully thank you but we’re going to move on.”

Of course, there are critics of the plan, as there are every place when NFL business is built on the back of public money.

“There’s been a lot of conversation on why are we giving money to billionaires,” said Steve Hill, chairman of the oversight committee and head of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “The public is not making a contribution to a privately owned stadium.”

Goldstein said the total cost of the project was going to be $1.9 billion, and he said the list of proposed sites was down to two. They also showed off renderings of a proposed 65,000-seat domed stadium.

The Raiders haven’t been able to get their current hometown to come up with $500 million toward keeping them in Oakland, and have been working on Las Vegas in earnest, even applying to trademark “Las Vegas Raiders.”

Adelson and his company are also trying to rush the project through a September special legislative session, so they can secure the funding before the next NFL owners meeting in January.

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Jerry Jones doesn’t approve of Ezekiel Elliott’s visit to pot shop

look-but-dont

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in two of the 22 states in which the NFL does business. It’s legal, that is, for everyone except the NFL players who live in, work in, or visit those states.

The Cowboys visited the Seahawks on Thursday in Washington, one of the two states were marijuana legally can be purchased. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was photographed in a store that sells marijuana. There’s no evidence he bought any or that he smoked any. Regardless, his boss doesn’t approve of Zeke’s weed window shopping.

“Well, I think that, in and of itself, the reason we are talking about is in a way part of the learning process,” Jones said after Thursday’s game, via Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “But it’s not good. It’s just not good. It’s just not good.”

Setting aside the fact that Jones has been photographed in compromising situations that weren’t illegal but that were at least ill-advised, why is it not good that Elliott was looking at marijuana that was legally for sale if there’s no evidence he bought it or smoked it? While behavior can get a player evaluated for placement in the substance-abuse program, behaving like a tourist is a far cry from behaving like a pothead, Focker.

It still doesn’t look good, but only because of the NFL’s Big-Shield-Knows-Best mandate regarding things a player can and can’t do on his own time. (And because the Cowboys have more than a few guys who consistently choose consuming banned substances over football.) The mere fact that a guy walking down the street and passing a store can’t even go in the store and look but don’t touch underscores the folly of the league’s lingering finger wagging over marijuana.

But the marijuana ban is here to stay, in part because the issue has become part of the broader push-and-pull of collective bargaining — and in part because the NFL Players Association knows that it’s relatively easy for players not in the program to smoke, if they want to. Regardless of whether they do, they should be able to walk into a store that sells it without being called out by their coach, owner, or anyone else.

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Julio Jones could be back by Sunday, MRIs for Neal and Clayborn today

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) celebrates with wide receiver Julio Jones (11) after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard) AP

The Falcons have some problems coming out of last night’s game against the Dolphins. But apparently the condition of star receiver Julio Jones isn’t one.

Jones left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter, but it’s apparently not so bad, since coach Dan Quinn said he’d be back on the practice field as soon as this weekend.

“I think Julio will hopefully be back in short order and hopefully as quick as Sunday,” Quinn said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “I think he definitely wanted to go back in. And just for me, it was a coach’s decision where I said, ‘OK, you’re done.’ He definitely wanted to go. He was loose and ready to go.”

Given his importance to the team, and his not-insignificant injury history, keeping him tucked away was the wise decision.

The rest, the Falcons are going to have to wait and see on. First-round safety Keanu Neal (knee) and veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn (shoulder) will have MRIs today to determine the severity of their injuries.

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Tony Romo says he’s OK after leaving game with back injury

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is tended to by a trainer after he went down on a play against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo left Thursday night’s preseason game with a back injury, but he said afterward that he’s fine.

In fact, Romo said after the game that he was glad to take a hard hit, which he said has him mentally ready for the 2016 season after an injury-plagued 2015.

“In a weird way I feel good about the fact that – that was probably as tough a hit I took on the back as I have in the last five years,” Romo said. “From that regard, I feel very lucky that it can hold up and you can keep going.”

Romo said the hit he took from Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril hurt at first, but he felt fine within a few minutes and wanted to go back in the game.

“At the moment when you go down – you crunch. And so your back gets squished,” he said. “You kind of feel the, almost like a sensation of if someone gave you a stinger in your shoulder or something – where it just feels hot for a second and then that just dissipates after a minute.”

With Romo out, Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott continued his strong preseason, completing 17 of 23 passes for 116 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. Prescott’s preseason play has many in Dallas thinking they can withstand a Romo injury this year. But they’d prefer not to find out.

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Report: Keanu Neal tells teammates he’s OK

Atlanta Falcons rookie strong safety Keanu Neal (22) catches a ball during an NFL football practice Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) AP

Falcons first-round safety Keanu Neal had a short night Thursday due to a knee issue, but signs point to Neal having avoided major injury.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported late Thursday night that Neal was telling teammates he believes he’ll be OK and ready to play in the season opener vs. the Buccaneers.

Neal was slow getting up after trying to make a tackle in the first quarter of Thursday night’s preseason game vs. the Dolphins. He ended up walking gingerly to the sideline after talking with trainers, then later was taken to the locker room.

Neal will undoubtedly continue to be evaluated and receive treatment as the Falcons return to Atlanta. He has more than two weeks until the Sept. 11 season opener, and being able to play in that game will be his focus.

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Ezekiel Elliott impressive in limited debut for Cowboys

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 25:  Running back Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on prior to the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The fourth overall pick from this year’s NFL Draft put on an impressive performance in his preseason debut on Thursday night.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 48 yards on seven carries for Dallas before yielding backfield duties to Alfred Morris for the remainder of the first half.

Elliott had carries of 9, 9, 13 and 8 yards as part of Dallas’ seven-play, 81-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter that gave the Cowboys a 7-0 lead over Seattle.

He flashed speed in getting to the edges of the Seahawks’ defense, an ability to find creases between the tackles and ran over oncoming defenders. Elliott even won a couple of collisions with Seattle safety Kam Chancellor.

Elliott had been sidelined due to a hamstring injury suffered in the early stages of training camp. It didn’t look to be any issue Thursday night.

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John Mara’s arguments confirm the NFL has returned to the pre-Ray Rice mindset

FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015 photo, New York Giants co-owner John Mara walks across the field before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. A visibly shaken Giants owner John Mara said Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 he was fine with the NFL's suspension of placekicker Josh Brown for one game, despite allegations Brown abused his ex-wife as many as 20 times prior to the Giants signing Brown to a two-year extension last spring. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) AP

After the Ray Rice video rocked the NFL to its foundation and nearly toppled a Commissioner, the NFL reacted to immense public pressure by making big changes. And now that the PSI has reduced (yeah, I went there), the NFL has retreated to it pre-Ray Rice reality.

That’s exactly what happened in the Josh Brown case. Arrested in May 2015 for a domestic violence incident that the NFL saw fit to discipline with a one-game suspension, the NFL still has provided no explanation as to why the league deviated from the six-game baseline that was adopted in an effort to put out the post-Ray Rice firestorm.

Mitigating factors are required to reduce the six-game suspension. So what were they?

The NFL has made no effort to identify the mitigating factors or to even say that there were any. The only real explanation provided in support of the action taken came from the inability of the NFL’s investigators to fully investigate the case, blaming their failure to get to the truth (under the low standard of “more probable than not”) by pointing out that Brown’s former wife refused to cooperate and that law enforcement officials likewise wouldn’t talk, outcomes that scream out “red flag” more than they say “dead end.”

Good investigators figure out ways to get people to tell the truth. Good investigators don’t shrug and say “oh well” and create a blueprint for all other players who are accused of domestic violence: If you can convince the witnesses not to talk, the league will have no choice but to go easy on you.

The bigger problem in this case is that the Giants also went easy on Brown. Although it wouldn’t be right for the team to look the other way if a key player on offense or defense were involved in a similar situation, at least it would make sense. Why are the Giants opening themselves up to criticism and scrutiny for a kicker? As one G.M. told me earlier this year, there are three great kickers, three bad kickers, and the other 26 are all the same. Brown is one of the other 26, and the Giants easily could have found another one of those 26.

“These are not easy decisions,” Giants co-owner John Mara said Wednesday, finally breaking the organization’s silence on the subject. “Very easy to say, ‘Guy’s been accused, get rid of him. Terminate him.’ But when you’re sitting at the top of an organization and you’re responsible for a lot of people, you’d better make more informed decisions than that.”

That’s fine, but in this case the Giants didn’t have to fire Brown. His contract had expired, they knew about the allegations, and instead of finding another kicker they hired Brown again.

Some may say that the Giants were being merciful or giving the player a second chance or whatever, but it’s impossible to reconcile the Giants’ actions with these words from Mara, uttered at a time when the league was under heavy siege: “Everyone in our league, players, coaches, front-office people, need to understand there is no excuse for domestic violence ever and there is going to be severe consequences.”

The fact that the NFL imposed a one-game suspension on Brown shows that some degree of domestic violence occurred. His ex-wife claimed, before clamming up, that there had been up to 20 prior incidents of violence.

“There is no excuse for domestic violence,” Mara said in 2014. In 2016, Mara sounds like a guy making multiple excuses for Brown.

“There’s a big difference between allegations and convictions or indictments,” Mara said Wednesday. “And a lot of times there’s a tendency to try to make these cases black and white. They’re very rarely black and white. You very rarely have a Ray Rice video.”

Those are all excuses for Brown’s domestic violence, for which the consequences were minimal — and which the Giants decided to ignore when re-hiring a player with whom the organization technically had no employment relationship.

The inescapable message is this: With the Ray Rice incident nearly two years old, the NFL and its teams have assumed the pre-Ray Rice posture. Unless, of course, there’s any chance a video exists that TMZ may eventually buy.

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Tony Romo leaves game after just three plays with apparent back injury

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, left, is tackled by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo left Thursday night’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks after just three plays after being sacked from behind by defensive end Cliff Avril.

Romo stepped forward in the pocket and escaped pressure to his left while Avril closed from Romo’s backside. Romo began to slide as Avril chased him down and was caught in an awkward position as the two players went to the ground.

Romo immediately reached for his lower back area and was tended to be the Cowboys’ training staff being walking off the field under his own power.

Dak Prescott replaced Romo at quarterback upon his exit from the game.

Romo has not left the Cowboys sideline and is throwing passes during Seattle’s opening possession.

Romo completed his only pass – an 11-yard slant to Terrence Williams – before being hurt on the third snap of the game.

UPDATE 10:40 p.m. ET: Romo has not returned to the game and multiple on-field reporters have said it’s a coach’s decision to keep him on the sidelines.

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Mike McCoy walks the fine line between employee and coach

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 3:  Head coach Mike McCoy of the San Diego Chargers smiles and gives a fist bump to strong safety Jahleel Addae #37 of the San Diego Chargers during a game against the Denver Broncos  at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers and defensive end Joey Bosa remain at an impasse. And coach Mike McCoy is caught between a proverbial rock and a hard place.

McCoy met with the media on Thursday, a day after folks higher on the organizational chart than McCoy poured gasoline and threw a match onto the bridge over which they hope Bosa eventually will walk. Watch the press conference. McCoy is doing everything he can to be a good employee and also a good coach.

Interestingly, McCoy sidestepped questions about the team’s assertion that Bosa would not be able to help the team as of Week One, even if he shows up right now. Then again, McCoy previously has made it clear that the plan they have for every player means that if a player has a uniform issued to him, he’ll be playing.

On Thursday morning, Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy addressed the challenges that can arise for the man stuck in the middle of a contract dispute between front office and player.

“You’re walking a fine line,” Dungy said on PFT Live. “You work for your bosses. They’ve made a decision how much they’re going to pay and how they’re going to structure this contract. You can’t criticize them, you work for them, you want the player there, and you’re also going to have to work with the player for the next 10 years and you want him to know that you’re in his corner as well. You want him to get paid as much as he can make, you want him to be happy and be part of the team. So you are caught in the middle, and I had a couple of those as a coach. You don’t negotiate but you do stay in communication with the player. ‘Hey, we need you Joey. We’re on your side, we’re with you. Don’t let the business part of it enter into the football part. When you get here, here’s what we’ve got to get done.’ So you do have to keep those lines of communication open but you’re also working as part of that team representing the Chargers, so it’s a very, very fine line.”

McCoy is walking that line very well, since he’ll be expected to get the most out of Bosa — and to create an atmosphere where it will quickly seem like the holdout never happened. If the holdout ever ends.

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Julio Jones, Adrian Clayborn hurt, too

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 11:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons runs on the field during player introductions prior to facing the Washington Redskins at Georgia Dome on August 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons are dropping like flies in Orlando.

With first-round rookie safety Keanu Neal already being evaluated for a knee injury, starting receiver Julio Jones has an ankle injury. The only good news is that he hasn’t gone to the locker room, which suggests it’s not serious.

Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn has been taken to the locker room for X-rays on his shoulder. Which sounds a lot more ominous than the Jones injury.

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Ndamukong Suh injures ankle

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) and Chris Jones (52) pressure Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins) AP

The Falcons aren’t the only team sweating out an injury to a starting defensive player on Thursday night in Orlando. Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh suffered an ankle injury, too.

Suh is being evaluated in the locker room. Like Neal, Suh is questionable to return. Since it’s a preseason game, “questionable” is a lot closer to “no freaking way.”

The Falcons lead the Dolphins, 7-0. I felt compelled to list the score, even though the score doesn’t matter. The injuries do.

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Falcons first-round safety Keanu Neal suffers leg injury

FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal (22) is shown during their annual Friday Night Lights NFL football practice at Grayson High School, in Loganville, Ga. Free-agent signee Dwight Freeney and rookie safety Keanu Neal are expected to make their preseason debuts for the Falcons on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016,  at Cleveland, bringing Atlanta's defense closer to its projected regular-season status. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File) AP

The top priority for every team in the preseason is to emerge from it with as many players healthy as possible. The Falcons currently are holding their breath regarding first-round safety Keanu Neal.

The rookie seemed to tweak his right knee while trying to make a tackle in the first quarter of Thursday night’s preseason game against the Dolphins in Orlando. Plenty of rubber pellets went flying, which could result in criticism of the footing on an artificial turf surface in a building that hasn’t hosted NFL teams since 1997.

He walked off with mild assistance, and he has been taken to the locker room for further evaluation.

The Falcons hope Neal will become a Kam Chancellor-type presence for the Falcons. The more important question at this point is whether he’ll be ready to play in 17 days when the Falcons open the regular season at home against the Buccaneers.

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Jets waiting on right tackle to return to practice

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Jets right tackle Breno Giacomini told reporters Thursday that he will play this season, but he’s unsure when that will be as he tries to recover from a back injury.

He’s currently on the active/physically unable to perform list, which leaves PUP as an option when the season begins. But the Jets haven’t made any decisions on that front, and ideally Giacomini would like to be back before the team’s seventh game, which is the earliest he could return if he starts the regular season on PUP.

For now, though, the Jets are waiting on Giacomini to be able to return to practice.

Unless he’s practicing, he’s not better,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said.

Giacomini, who suffered a lower back injury in a spring minicamp practice, said he’s “day to day” as far as being able to suit up. He’d have to be absolutely sure he’s ready to return if he wants to get back on the field because if he returns to practice, say, next week he becomes ineligible to start the regular season on PUP.

Bowles has acknowledged that the team has been looking to add another tackle, another sign that PUP to start the season is the most likely scenario.

A seventh-year pro, Giacomini has started every game the last two seasons at right tackle for the Jets. He previously played three seasons for the Seahawks.

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Kubiak still hasn’t decided on a No. 2 quarterback for Saturday

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch jokes with teammates as he heads to the locker room after the teams' joint NFL football training camp session against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 in Englewood, Colo. Lynch, like the rest of the team's rookies, was sporting a new haircut as part of an end-of-camp tradition carried out by veterans. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) AP

In two days, the Broncos will host the Rams in the all-important third preseason game. Coach Gary Kubiak still hasn’t made a fairly important personnel decision regarding the game.

Trevor Siemian will start at quarterback. The next guy in at the position still isn’t known.

“I know who’s going first,” Kubiak told reporters on Thursday. “I haven’t made a decision [on who’s going second]. I’m telling the truth.”

The hard truth for veteran Mark Sanchez could be that he may have fallen to No. 3, behind Sieman and Paxton Lynch. Two guys who have never thrown a regular-season NFL pass. If so, there’s a good chance Sanchez will fall off the roster entirely.

Making matters worse for Sanchez is the praise that Kubiak has heaped on Lynch, the team’s first-round pick in 2016.

“I’m very excited about the progress he’s made,” Kubiak said of Lynch. “We knew we had ground to make up and we knew he had a ton of talent, but he’s really adapted to playing under center. He’s making the calls. What he had to do this week, run the Rams’ offense and then get in there and run ours, that’s hard to do. He really had a good week of practice. I think he’s very confident in what he’s doing and I think he has confidence in us to do what he does best. I think he’s made a lot of progress. He’s going to be a fine young player.”

The immediate question is whether he’ll be playing after Sieman on Saturday. The bigger question is when Lynch will be playing before him. There’s still a chance that, two weeks from tonight, Lynch’s career debut will come for the defending Super Bowl champions in a game against the team they beat for the 50th Lombardi Trophy.

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Which player is most likely to win his first career MVP award?

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09:  J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans looks on before playing against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, the topic of the day focuses on predicting the best player of the upcoming year, with a twist.

Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, and Cam Newton have each won at least one league MVP award. Which player who has never won a league MVP is the most likely to win his first league MVP award in 2016?

We’ve come up with a list of 10 candidates — which is sure to spark some discussion about people who weren’t dubbed finalists. But lines had to be drawn somewhere, and 10 makes as much sense as any number more than nine and less than 11.

So cast a ballot and make your case for the guy you picked, or against a guy someone else picked, or in favor of someone not on the list, or just call me a stupid idiot. Again.

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