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Peyton Manning’s historic comeback yields Comeback Player of Year award

Peyton Getty Images

For the first time ever, the two strongest candidates for league MVP also are the two strongest candidates for Comeback Player of the Year.

The latter has gone to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

Manning beats out Vikings running back Adrian Peterson; both players arguably had the best two comeback seasons of all time.  Manning missed a full season due to multiple neck surgeries.  Peterson torn his ACL and MCL in Week 16 of the 2011 season.

There has been a sentiment in recent weeks that perhaps Peyton should win the Comeback Player of the Year award, with Peterson winning the MVP prize.  We’ll find out soon whether that happens, or whether Manning will get both trophies in a year that he would have preferred to get his fingerprints once again on a silver one with a football on top.

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Greg Olsen on avoiding Super Bowl hangover: “We take this very seriously”

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 17:  Greg Olsen #88 of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sideline after an inury during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers reported for training camp today, and their veterans are clearly sending a message that last year’s over.

Though the bulk of a 15-1 team which went to the Super Bowl is back (and they might actually be better on offense), the Panthers want to emphasize they’re back to 0-0 like everyone else.

We have a lot of work to do, we take this very seriously,” tight end Greg Olsen said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “This is too hard to come out and just half-assed and find ourselves 1-4 asking, ‘What’s going on?’ We’re not going to allow that to be the problem and that all starts with our preparation here at camp.”

We’re certain that backup quarterback Derek Anderson agrees with Olsen about the gravity of the situation, but the reality is that while no one’s laughing, no one’s crying for a team which had so much success a year ago.

For Olsen it’s a familiar feeling, as he joined the Bears in 2007, the year after their Super Bowl loss. But he was younger then, and now has a better understanding of how a hangover happens.

“It’s not just the players — the team, the community, the fans — it’s human nature,” Olsen said. “I think everyone just assumes, ‘Hey, you’ve got the same guys back. Why would it be any different?’ I think the answer is every game is different; every season is different. Every season has its own kind of history, its own storyline. . . .

“I think from a human instinct perspective, you kind of rest on your laurels. We’ve identified that from Day 1. That can’t be the case with us. We’re going to start from one, and we’re going to build that platform starting with OTAs to minicamp and now to training camp. If we’re not willing to do those things, and if we think we’re just going to show up Week 1 and rattle off 14 wins in a row like we did last year just because we’re the same guys in the same uniforms, you’re going to find yourself in a bad spot. That’s just not the way this league works.”

Of course, that kind of talk is going to crop up in every camp this week, but the Panthers have clearly emphasized it this offseason. Coach Ron Rivera has been harping on it since the spring, and his players have clearly heard the message.

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Cardinals sign Donald Butler

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Donald Butler #56 of the San Diego Chargers looks on during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium on November 22, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals will travel to San Diego next month to practice with the Chargers for a couple of days before their August 19 preseason game.

It will be a homecoming of sorts for the newest member of the Cardinals roster. The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that they have signed former Chargers linebacker Donald Butler to their 90-man roster.

Butler was a third-round pick in 2010 and played well enough in his first years with the Chargers that he signed a seven-year extension with the team in 2014. Things went downhill from there, however, and Butler was released in March after spending the second half of last season on the bench.

He’ll try to get back on track in Arizona, likely as a depth option behind projected inside linebackers Kevin Minter and Deone Bucannon. Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy was waived to make room for Butler on the roster.

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Broncos put Aqib Talib on non-football injury list

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 17:  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos dances as he is introduced before a game against the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib avoided severe injury when he was shot in the leg in early June, but he won’t avoid the non-football injury list to start training camp.

Mike Klis of KUSA in Denver reports that Talib will open camp on the NFI list to give his leg more time to heal. Players with that designation in the summer may be activated at any time, but aren’t allowed to practice or play in the interim.

According to Klis, Talib is likely to miss the first week or two of training camp as well as the team’s preseason opener, although history says it is unlikely that any of the team’s starters will be seeing extensive playing time when the Broncos face the Bears on September 11. Talib is expected to be ready to go when the Broncos open the regular season on September 8 against the Panthers.

Talib said last week that he’s “back running and everything” after the shooting, which police in Dallas are still investigating after Talib told them he didn’t know who pulled the trigger.

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Report: Marlon Brown lands with Broncos

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown (14) jumps over Miami Dolphins free safety Louis Delmas (25) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) AP

The Broncos plan to sign wide receiver Marlon Brown, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

The one-year deal reunites Brown with Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, who coached Brown in 2014 when Kubiak was offensive coordinator of the Ravens.

Brown made the Ravens as an undrafted rookie in 2013 and immediately became a regular contributor. He played in 38 games, starting 15, over three seasons for the Ravens before finishing last season on injured reserve. Brown has 87 career catches for 891 yards and seven touchdowns; all seven touchdowns came in his rookie season.

He was released by the Ravens in May after re-signing with the team in March.

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Tom Coughlin hired by league office

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants talks with referee John Parry #13 during a game against the San Francisco 49ers on October 14, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The Giants won 26-3. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Out of coaching after he was pushed out by the Giants, Tom Coughlin is staying in football and staying in New York.

Coughlin will work for the NFL’s football operations department, Jim Trotter of ESPN reports.

The football operations department works on officiating, rules, and communicating with coaches and players about the game on the field. The department is headed up by Troy Vincent.

Coughlin said in May that he still wants to coach. Another NFL head-coaching job is probably a long shot, but the league office apparently thinks Coughlin still has something to contribute.

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Matt Forte says he was told to refer Ryan Fitzpatrick questions to Todd Bowles

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Bowles and General Manager Mike Maccagnan were both introduced. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets coach Todd Bowles said in June he’s tired of answering Ryan Fitzpatrick questions.

But he’s apparently the only one being allowed to address them.

Via Seth Walder of the New York Daily News, new running back Matt Forte fielded a question about the unsigned free agent quarterback, and quickly deflected.

“All questions about Ryan is for coach Bowles,” Forte said. “They told me to tell you all that.”

Asked who “they” included, Forte motioned toward the team facility: “They. Everybody knows who they are.”

Of course, that’s not going to make the issue go away. But advising players to leave the topic alone makes it easier for them in the long run, since their team will either be quarterbacked by Fitzpatrick or someone not Fitzpatrick, and none of them have any control over that.

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Columbus city attorney has “open investigation” into Ezekiel Elliott allegations

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  College football player Ezekiel Elliott attends Fanatics Super Bowl Party on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Fanatics) Getty Images

When Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was accused of domestic violence last week, police in Columbus, Ohio referred his accuser to prosecutors after declining to arrest Elliott due to conflicting witness reports that said Elliott didn’t strike the woman.

A spokesman for the Columbus city attorney’s office confirmed that they were contacted and that they are looking into the matter.

“We currently have an open investigation,” the spokesman said, via TMZ Sports. “We are collecting as much evidence as possible. Once the investigation is complete, our office will determine if there is sufficient evidence to establish probable cause. Basically, whether there is enough evidence to charge him or not.”

Elliott has denied the accusations and told police he never lived with the alleged victim, which conflicted with the account she gave to police. The NFL is also investigating the accusation and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday, via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, that the team does not expect the matter to impact Elliott’s availability for training camp in any way.

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CFL G.M. says league told him not to pursue Greg Hardy

NORTON, VT - MARCH 22:  U.S. Border Patrol Agent Andrew Mayer walks onto a frozen lake during a patrol on the lake that is split between Canadian territory to the right and the U.S. March 22, 2006 near Norton, Vermont. As American politicians continue to debate immigration reform, Border Patrol agents work the northern border to prevent illegal entry.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Getty Images

Greg Hardy seems to be struggling to find a next stop on his redemption tour, and he can apparently cross Canada off the list.

According to CBC News, Saskatchewan Roughriders General Manager/coach Chris Jones said there was some suggestion of bringing Hardy in during the spring, but the CFL ruled against it.

“Greg Hardy inquired to us back during camp and it was about a six-hour discussion,” Jones said. “The league made their ruling on it and we moved on. . . .

“He was interested in coming up. I inquired with the league. The league made their ruling, and you can talk to [CFL commissioner] Jeffrey Orridge and those guys if you need to have more info on it.”

A CFL spokesman said the league did have discussions with the Roughriders, but that the call was made by the team.

“The decision whether to pursue a player rests with the organization,” the league said. “And in this case, while the league did discuss the matter with the Riders, it was ultimately the organization’s decision to not place Hardy on the Riders’ negotiation list in May.”

While there have been some trial balloons floated in Washington and Jacksonville, there’s no indication anyone’s interested in signing the former Panthers and Cowboys defensive end based on his previous domestic violence charges (which were eventually thrown out following a reported settlement with his accuser).

Of course, the Roughriders can try to take the high ground on this issue too, but they have a player on their roster now with allegations of domestic violence in the past. But their coach was also honest about the league’s place in the talent-acquisition heirarchy.

“Quite honestly, you wouldn’t have a league if all the guys who had some type of past transgression in high school or junior college or college [weren’t allowed to play],” Jones said. “You wouldn’t have a CFL.”

Of course, the abilities to play football and simultaneously stay out of police cars are ones shared by many players on both sides of the border.

But the Roughriders and/or CFL backing away also shines some light on how damaged Hardy’s stock is. While his transgressions as a member of the Panthers were enough for some teams, it was creating a distraction and not offering enough bang for the buck in Dallas that has made him radioactive in NFL circles.

And now if the CFL won’t touch you, it’s reasonable to wonder who will.

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Jerry Jones on Randy Gregory: No question he needs help

Randy Gregory AP

Tuesday brought word that Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory has checked himself into a treatment facility and that he faces an additional suspension from the league on top of the four-game ban he’s set to serve at the start of this season.

A second suspension could keep Gregory out for an additional 10 games, which would make 2016 essentially a lost season and leave the Cowboys with little to show for the 2015 second-round pick they used to select Gregory. On Wednesday, however, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that the team’s disappointment in the turn of events is of less concern than Gregory finding a better path in life.

“There’s no question he needs the kind of help and care he’s getting right now,” Jones said, via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. “We have no official notification from league. We are first and foremost interested in how he can address his addiction and get to where he can function in society first and look to be a football player second.”

Part of the reason why Gregory dropped to the Cowboys in 2014 was because teams were concerned that off-field issues would keep him from realizing his on-field potential. That’s certainly the way things have played out to this point and it’s impossible to predict another outcome until Gregory finds another way to live his life away from the football field.

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Kirk Cousins relishes chance to prove himself

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 26: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins celebrates at the end of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Redskins defeated the Eagles 38-24. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Back in May, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins responded to a question about the prospect of playing out the year on the franchise tag by saying that he didn’t feel he deserved a long-term deal if he doesn’t play well during the 2016 season.

That prospect is now the reality for Cousins, who didn’t sign a multi-year deal before the July 15 deadline to get one done. During an interview with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday, via the Washington Post, Cousins talked about the situation again and reiterated that he’s comfortable and even looking forward to the chance to prove his worth this season.

“If I wasn’t wanted here, the team would not have franchise-tagged me,” Cousins said. “It’s been well documented that it’s a good amount of money, so the franchise tag showed that I am wanted. Now, maybe not beyond this year, but for this year I am wanted and, frankly, that’s all you really have in this league. You don’t have much more than the next game, this coming season, you’ve got to prove it. Whether I was on a long-term deal or a one-year deal, if I didn’t play well this season, it wasn’t going to matter. I feel good about having this one season to go prove myself and see what I can do. I’ve always been at times a little underrated, a little overlooked and that’s okay. That’s part of my story. I think I do relish the opportunity to prove to people that I’m capable of playing well and being here for a long time. Having that opportunity to prove yourself is really all you can ask for in this league.”

Cousins has that opportunity and making the most of it will lead to another round of negotiating with the Redskins that could include the use of another franchise tag. That would boost Cousins’ salary to $24 million in 2017 and set the bar for a long-term deal even higher than it was this time around.

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Ryan Kerrigan sees front seven improving with Josh Norman’s presence

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 04: Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Redskins gets introduced prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField on October 4, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images) Getty Images

One of the knocks on cornerback Josh Norman’s jump from Carolina to Washington is that Norman won’t be as effective because the front seven of his new team isn’t nearly as good as the front seven of his old team. A member of the front seven of Norman’s new team prefers to flip that around.

“[Y]ou definitely take that personally and of course Carolina does have a very good front seven with guys like Short and Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, guys like that but we feel like we like the guys we have in Washington,” Kerrigan said on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “Chris Baker, myself, Preston Smith, Will Compton, Perry Riley, guys like that. We feel like we can, especially with Norman’s addition, become an even better front seven. So we look forward to hopefully improving not just in the front seven but as a defense as a whole.”

Kerrigan sees no difference at all in the Josh Norman of 2015 and the Josh Norman of 2016 as a player. As a person, Norman wasn’t what Kerrigan had expected.

“He’s exactly what you saw from a playing standpoint with Carolina last year he was athletic, fast, really good breaking on the football,” Kerrigan said. “What was surprising to me was if you watch him on TV last year you know he’s jawing with Odell Beckham and all this stuff but then he’s actually one of the more calm and more chill guys I’ve ever been around. I kind of was expecting a little bit of a of a wildcat when he came in but he’s been far from it. He’s just been a guy who’s come in and wanted to do his work and wanted to improve and help the team.”

The wildcat in Norman will return from time to time — twice against Beckham and the Giants, twice against Dez Bryant and the Cowboys, and maybe more often. Washington could use a little of that fight as it tries to win a second straight division, and to progress even deeper into the postseason.

For the full visit from Kerrigan, taped Tuesday and played on Wednesday, click the thing in the thing below.

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Bengals add rookie defensive end

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 25: Defensive end Jack Gangwish #95 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers reacts during the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Rutgers 42-24. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bengals cut two players and placed several players on the physically unable to perform list Tuesday, and Wednesday they added a defensive end to their preseason roster.

The team signed undrafted rookie Jack Gangwish, who started nine games as a senior at Nebraska last fall. The Bengals are looking for additional depth and developmental players at defensive end, so Gangwish should get a chance to prove himself during training camp.

The Bengals open camp Friday.

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Bill Belichick: Time to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to start

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots  sends in a signal while the Patriots play the Houston Texans in the third quarter on December 13, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots coach Bill Belichick opened things up today with a reasonable revealing — for him — assessment of his quarterback situation.

Of course, he’s going to be without starter Tom Brady for the first four games because of his #DeflateGate suspension, but Belichick admitted what was already clear, that Jimmy Garoppolo had to get himself ready to start four games.

“We had, finally, some definition with Tom’s situation, so our priority now is to get Jimmy ready for the start of the season, for the Arizona game [Sept. 11],” Belichick said, via Mike Reiss of “That will be, obviously, a comprehensive process.

“Tom will return as the starting quarterback when he comes back, but in the meantime, we have to prioritize the first part of our schedule and that will be to get Jimmy ready to go.”

So there you have it: Belichick eliminated the possibility of a quarterback controversy when Brady returns, and didn’t allude to a competition between Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett for the interim job.

While that seems obvious, it’s rare for Belichick to admit anything beyond the current condition.

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Patriots bring back Halapio, add Pascoe

NFC Championship - New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The Patriots are adding tight end Bear Pascoe and offensive lineman Jon Halapio, Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters Wednesday.

Pascoe, 30, was most recently with the Lions. He saw his most extensive time with the Giants early in his career and has also spent time with the Falcons and Bears. Pascoe has 40 career receptions in 85 games.

Halapio, 25, was a Patriots sixth-round pick in 2014. He was cut during his first training camp and has spent time with the Broncos and Cardinals.

Pascoe and Halapio were likely added because tight end Clay Harbor and guards Tre Jackson and Shaq Mason are starting camp on the physically unable to perform list.

The moves put the team’s roster at the preseason max of 90 players. The Patriots have an exemption for safety Nate Ebner, who’s competing in rugby sevens in the Summer Olympics starting next week.

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Jets cutting Zac Stacy, amid some injury issues in backfield

Zac Stacy AP

The Jets signing Bernard Pierce seemed a bit unusual at first, considering they have pretty good depth at the position.

But they’re not quite as deep as they were earlier this offseason.

According to Adam Caplan of ESPN, the Jets will waive running back Zac Stacy with a failed physical designation.

Stacy had surgery to repair a broken left ankle last November, and apparently wasn’t ready to contribute.

The Jets also have some other injury issues at the position, with Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network adding that Khiry Robinson is expected to start training camp on PUP because of a leg injury.

They still have Matt Forte and Bilal Powell atop their depth chart, but apparently had a short-term need for Pierce. He’s suspended the first two regular season games, but is eligible to participate in training camp and the preseason.

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