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Bouchette: Steelers pushed Scottie Montgomery out


Last year, the Steelers didn’t want to create the impression that they pushed offensive coordinator Bruce Arians out of town.  Even though they did.

This year, the Steelers possibly want to create the impression that they pushed receivers coach Scottie Montgomery out of town.  Even if they didn’t.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes, without specifically reporting, that Montgomery was nudged.  And that potentially becomes important because, with multiple offensive assistants leaving the team after offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s first year on the job, the Steelers surely hope to avoid creating the impression that Haley’s style has caused folks to give up assignments with the Pittsburgh Steelers for jobs at college football powerhouses like UTEP and Duke.

We’re not saying that the coaches left because of Haley.  We’re just saying that, based on what happened last year with Arians, there’s absolutely no reason to believe any whispers or declarations coming from the Steelers on why a coach left.

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Russell Wilson wants to feed the Beast on zone-read runs

Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch AP

Russell Wilson had one of the best rushing seasons for a quarterback in NFL history in 2014, carrying 118 times for 849 yards and six touchdowns. But Wilson says he rarely plans to run.

Asked about the Seahawks’ zone-read offense, Wilson said those plays are almost always intended for him to hand off. Wilson only keeps the ball himself if he sees the entire defense collapse around Marshawn Lynch and knows he’ll have a huge hole to run through.

“In terms of our zone read, I’m honestly trying to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch 99 percent of the time,” Wilson said. “That 1 percent I’ll take if it’s just wide open for me. I want to feed the Beast. I want to hand him the football and that’s what makes him the best running back in the National Football League.”

The Seahawks averaged 172.6 rushing yards a game in the regular season, and no other team even averaged 150 yards. Seattle had by far the most proficient rushing attack in football, and Wilson is proud of that.

“I think it makes it very challenging for a defense to figure out who to stop,” Wilson said. “If they get Marshawn, then I’m over here in the other direction. It’s tough in terms of that, but I think, like I said, the ultimate goal is to hand the ball off to the best running back in the National Football League.”

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Another false alarm at Patriots hotel

Bill Belichick AP

The Patriots’ hotel in Arizona made it through another night without catching on fire, but they still have some issues to work out with alarms telling guests that the building is on fire.

Kim Jones of NFL Media reports that a false fire alarm went off in the middle of the night at the Patriots’ hotel for the second time in the three nights that they have called it home. While some might be deflated by the loss of a good night’s sleep, tight end Rob Gronkowski said at Media Day that he was unaffected by the first alarm.

“I didn’t know that the alarm went off. I actually heard about that, but I didn’t know the alarm went off. I was sleeping. I slept right through it. I slept great last night. I’m glad I didn’t hear it.”

Some players probably weren’t quite so lucky so the Patriots might want to ask that the people they’re paying to provide them with rooms for a restful slumber make sure that alarms are reserved for actual emergencies in the future.

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Odell Beckham Jr. talks about his rookie season

New York Giants v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

Many of you who: (1) didn’t watch Wednesday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN; and (2) saw the segment we posted with Odell Beckham, Jr., Tyrann Mathieu, and a cameo from Ryan Tannehill want to see more from the program.

Instead of wagging a finger at you for not watching or recording the show (because I’d never do that), I’ll drop in a few more clips throughout the day, time permitting.

Here’s Odell talking about his rookie season, including the impact of his one-handed catch and playing for noted taskmaster Tom Coughlin.

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Jay Feely on Jay Cutler: He’ll never be a leader

Jay Cutler AP

Kicker Jay Feely spent a few weeks with the Bears as their dismal season was coming to an end in December, giving him a front-row seat for quarterback Jay Cutler’s brief benching and the final days of Marc Trestman’s head coaching tenure.

Feely was left with some strong impressions. During an appearance with Adam Schein on Mad Dog Sports Radio, Feely said he thought Trestman failed to inspire the players because he “was a little awkward when he spoke” and that problem was exacerbated by a lack of leadership from players. One of the players who failed to lead was Cutler, who Feely spoke highly of as a player while saying the team would be much better off if the quarterback was a leader off the field as well.

Feely doesn’t think Cutler’s going to change who he is at this point in his career, which means the Bears have to make other arrangements on the leadership front.

“That’s not who he is. You’re going to have a vacuum there,” Feely said. “So you have to know that as a general manager or a head coach, ‘Hey, we’re not going to have that leadership from this position, so we’ve really got to have other guys that are going to step up and are going to be our verbal leaders.'”

Feely did add that he thinks John Fox would provide the team with the leadership that was missing with Trestman at the helm and that he thinks there’s plenty of talent in Chicago to fuel a turnaround if the other issues can be dealt with this offseason.

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Tom Benson says he feels fine, is still working

Tom Benson, Gayle Benson AP

Saints owner Tom Benson refuted claims that there’s anything wrong with him, the night after his former heirs filed papers hoping for a court-ordered psychological check.

Via the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Benson stopped for a brief television interview at last night’s NBA Pelicans game, and told Jen Hale of FOX Sports that there’s nothing wrong with him.

People think there’s something wrong with me,” Benson said. “I’ve been in the office everyday putting in a full days of work. I feel fine.”

That drew a round of applause from the crowd, as Benson watched the game from his suite with his wife Gayle and a few staffers.

Yesterday, his daughters and grandchildren filed court papers asking for him to be checked by a doctor, as they try to declare him unfit to cut them out of the will.

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Biggest PFT Live ever coming Thursday from Radio Row


The first Super Bowl week for the three-hour PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio has produced some excellent conversations with current players, former players, media members, and others connected to the NFL. Thursday’ show from Phoenix breaks new ground for the program.

Twelve segments. Twelve guests.

Every segment, it’ll be someone else to talk a little about themselves, a little about the Super Bowl, a little about whatever product or service they’re endorsing this week, and a little about whatever happens to come up in the moment.

Today’s show includes, in chronological order, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, Bengals receiver A.J. Green, Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, Bills coach Rex Ryan, Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, legendary coach Dick Vermeil, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Hall of Fame finalist Tim Brown, and Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon.

I’m worn out from just typing up the list of names.

All three hours of every show this week is simulcast at PFT, and the audio is always available at

Until 12:00 p.m. ET arrives, you can listen to the audio from Wednesday’s show, which included visits from former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell, Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, Bills running back Fred Jackson, Packers great Jerry Kramer, Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, and former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Peterson Getty Images

Bills RB Fred Jackson says Patriots don’t need to cheat to win.

Former Dolphins QB Dan Marino is not surprised by #DeflateGate.

Ten years after his first one, Patriots DT Vince Wilfork is hungry for another Super Bowl.

CB Antonio Cromartie would be open to a return to the Jets.

Ravens K Justin Tucker is hoping for a long-term deal this offseason.

Even the Bengals can find a good #DeflateGate storyline of their own.

Browns CB Joe Haden hopes the team hangs onto Josh Gordon,

The Steelers could stand to learn from the Seahawks as it pertains to defense.

Will the Colts make a run at Ndamukong Suh?

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles hit it off with new coordinator Greg Olson.

RB LeGarrette Blount’s stay in Tennesseee was a short one.

The Broncos have plenty of marketable young stars.

Former Chiefs teammates are stumping for Will Shields for the Hall of Fame,

The Raiders’ search for a defensive coordinator winds on.

LaDainian Tomlinson thinks the Chargers should make a run at Adrian Peterson.

RB Ryan Williams gives the Cowboys some backfield options.

Former Giants S Will Hill owes $16,000 in child support.

Will the Eagles be able to afford their stars this offseason?

New Washington coordinator Joe Barry is “jacked” to be there.

Bears LB Lance Briggs isn’t sure about his future.

A former Lions kicker has a Kickalicious new video.

The Packers could still make a change at special teams coach.

A new lighting system will set the mood inside the new Vikings stadium.

Dan Quinn’s going to bring a new style of tackling to the Falcons.

Taking a look at how the Panthers might rebuild their WR corps.

Former Saints scouting director Rick Reiprish stands by his record.

Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith lost games, but not his locker room.

Seahawks LB O’Brien Schofield is past his bitter parting from the Cardinals.

Patriots WR Danny Amendola keeps up with his old Rams teammates.

The 49ers are finding out raising banners is easier said than done.

The Seahawks are healthy going into the Super Bowl.

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Woody Johnson: Reserving cash for the future not part of Jets’ makeup

New York Jets Introduce General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles Getty Images

When Jets Owner Woody Johnson was asked last season about then-General Manager John Idzik’s decision to hold onto some $20 million in cap space, he defended Idzik by saying that he approved of Idzik’s approach without mandating it.

Johnson also mentioned that he believes you should always have cash in reserve by never spending your last dollar. A few months can make a big difference. Whether because of the team’s results or a change in personal economic theory, Johnson has changed course.

During an interview with ESPN Radio in New York on Wednesday, Johnson reiterated that he didn’t direct Idzik to sit on his money and said that he now does not believe in the reserve approach he previously espoused.

I’m not going to say to him, ‘Save it.’ That’s ridiculous. We’re in this to win it,” Johnson said. “We’re in the win business. Reserving firepower in terms of cash for some future date is not part of the makeup of the New York Jets. We will spend what we are allowed to spend, to try to make us as competitive as we can be.”

New General Manager Mike Maccagnan has already said he plans to be “very active” in free agency this offseason and it seems that he’ll have no problem convincing Johnson to return to the freer spending ways of the years before Idzik implemented his more austere approach to running the team. That might turn out to be good news for cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who was purged last year for cap reasons but hits free agency off a rebound in Arizona with thoughts of a Jets reunion on his mind.

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Rams expected to stay in-house for offensive coordinator

Arizona Cardinals v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

Nathaniel Hackett took a job as the Jaguars quarterbacks coach, which meant that the Rams will not be hiring him to run their offense for the 2015 season.

Offensive coordinator candidates fading off the radar has been a frequent occurrence for the Rams since Brian Schottenheimer left for a job at the University of Georgia and it looks like the team is going to cut down the distance of their search for his replacement. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that it is “all but a certainty” that the team is likely to stay in-house to ultimately make the hire.

Quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti and tight ends coach Rob Boras are the options identified by Thomas. Both coaches have been on the Rams staff since Fisher became the head coach in St. Louis in 2012 and neither has been a coordinator at the professional level.

Boras did run the offense at UNLV for three years, however, and Cignetti was a coordinator at Fresno State, North Carolina, Cal, Pittsburgh and Rutgers along with previous quarterbacks coach work in the NFL.


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Questions raised about Blount orchestrating his return to Patriots

blount AP

Questions have been raised this week in Phoenix about whether Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount purposely got himself cut by the Steelers with the knowledge that if he left Pittsburgh, he could return to New England.

Blount was waived by the Steelers in November after walking off the field before the end of a game, and the Patriots re-signed him that week. That has resulted in stories with headlines like, “The other Patriots conspiracy theory: LeGarrette Blount’s scheme to reunite with Bill Belichick?” A segment on Pardon the Interruption discussed whether tampering rules were violated by the Patriots, who let Blount know he’d have a place to play if he got cut by the Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Blount answered with a soft “No” and shook his head when asked if he orchestrated his exit from the Steelers. Blount wouldn’t answer whether he knew the Patriots wanted him back before he left the Steelers.

But the conspiracy theories don’t make a lot of sense. Even if Blount was purposely acting out because he was unhappy in Pittsburgh, he had no way of knowing for sure that his act would result in the Steelers waiving him. It could have just as easily resulted in the Steelers suspending him or benching him, options that wouldn’t have had the desired effect. And the Patriots didn’t even claim Blount on waivers after Pittsburgh waived him. Some other team could have claimed him, which would have prevented Blount from getting back to New England.

So while it worked out well in the end for both Blount and the Patriots, that doesn’t mean it was planned in advance. A conspiracy theory makes for a good topic of conversation during Super Bowl week — even a conspiracy theory that doesn’t add up.

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Antonio Cromartie on Jets: I didn’t want to leave, I’m open to returning

Pro Bowl Getty Images

At this point last year, discussion about cornerback Antonio Cromartie centered on when the Jets would release him to save money under the cap following an injury-plagued and ineffective 2013 season.

Cromartie wound up getting cut in March and signing in Arizona, where he turned in a strong bounce back season with the Cardinals to set him up on stronger footing heading into this offseason. Cromartie is on track to be a free agent and talked about making a return to the Jets on Wednesday.

“My door is always open to returning,” Cromartie said, via the New York Post. “Everybody knows I didn’t want to leave. I’m going to keep my door open and see what happens.”

Cromartie isn’t the only former Jets cornerback that can be a free agent this offseason, but he might be the more realistic return option. He’ll cost less than Darrelle Revis and he comes with a year of work in new head coach and former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’s system under his belt. Cromartie said he thought Jets players accustomed to Rex Ryan would love Bowles and said he may meet with linebacker Demario Davis soon to give some pointers about Bowles’s scheme.

It doesn’t make sense for players about to hit the open market to limit their potential landing spots, but the Jets’ need at corner and Cromartie’s ties to the area (he’s living in New Jersey this offseason) suggest there could be something to this potential reunion beyond the Bowles connection.

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Joe Haden: Johnny Manziel is definitely not a joke

Johnny Manziel, Kyle Shanahan AP

Last week, a report from on Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel’s rookie season painted Manziel in a negative light.

Several unnamed members of the team slammed Manziel on various fronts, including one anonymous teammate who called his first NFL year a “100 percent joke.” Cornerback Joe Haden was willing to put a name on a different view.

Haden said that Manziel is “definitely not a joke” and named Phil Taylor and Travis Benjamin as two other teammates who feel that way. Haden said criticisms of Manziel’s work ethic, preparation and practice performance were overblown for a player that Haden suggested was held to an unfair standard.

“Johnny takes too much bashing for nothing and the thing is that being a quarterback in the NFL is so much harder,” Haden said, via “They can’t do anything. If Johnny is to do anything that shows him having fun instead of being in the meeting room, they blow him up.”

Linebacker Karlos Dansby has also chosen to avoid the cloak of anonymity to discuss his teammate. Dansby publicly called for Manziel to dedicate himself to the game in the past, but also said Wednesday that criticism of Manziel’s practice work was incorrect. He said Manziel made the defense “better every day” and that he thinks Manziel will do what it takes to improve heading into his second season.


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Darrell Bevell: Robert Turbin “understands his role”

Robert Turbin AP

Some teams use a running back-by-committee approach.

The Seahawks are not one of those teams.

Marshawn Lynch, of course, will get the vast majority of backfield snaps for Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX, and with good reason.

But even a back at the top of his game like Lynch needs a rest once in a while. And when that happens, the Seahawks turn to third-year pro Robert Turbin, who has carved a niche as the backup to Lynch.

The 25-year-old Turbin has been solid in limited opportunities for Seattle, gaining a little more than four yards per carry in 2014 in 83 rushing attempts over the regular season and postseason. He’s never missed a regular season or playoff game, and he’s lost just two fumbles in more than 300 touches on offense in that span.

At Wednesday’s media session, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell praised Turbin’s approach to the game.

“He does a great job. Number one, he understands his role and he embraces that role,” Bevell said, according to a transcript from the NFL. “He doesn’t gripe and complain about the role he is in. He is very prepared. If something happened and he had to play every snap, there would be no question that he would be able to get it done.

“He is a true professional who works hard at his craft. He tries to get better every day. No detail is too small for him. That is why you like guys like that in that role.”

Turbin’s role Sunday figures to be limited — around 10 snaps. But he’s earned that work, and he’s kept it for three seasons now. In a backfield where the starter dominates the carries, Turbin has nonetheless found a way to contribute.

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Pats could get Stork back for Super Bowl

Brady AP

The Patriots won the AFC title without the services of center Bryan Stork, who has a knee problem.  Injured in the divisional round against the Ravens, Stork could be back for Super Bowl XLIX.

According to the official injury report for Wednesday, Stork practiced on a limited basis.  Also practicing on a limited basis on Wednesday were linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), defensive tackle Chris Jones (elbow), and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga (foot).

Quarterback Tom Brady fully participated despite a lingering ankle issue.  His cold apparently isn’t severe enough to merit a mention in the injury report.

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Tyrann Mathieu shares secrets on how to stop Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham Getty Images

Wednesday’s star-studded edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN included an LSU mini-reunion.  Former Tigers Odell Beckham Jr. (now with the Giants) and Tyrann Mathieu (now with the Cardinals) joined the program to discuss, among other things, how to slow down Beckham.

Mathieu told Paul Burmeister the best way to do it is with a quick jam at the line of scrimmage.

“I think somebody in his face the entire game, it’ll probably give him some trouble,” Mathieu said.

Beckham agreed:  “It’s true, it’s true,” he said.

“That’s probably one of the things that I want to work on the most is just that press game.  I feel like if you can get that first five yards down, I feel very comfortable about the rest of my game,” Beckham said.

Mathieu then got a chance (sort of) to demonstrate when Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed up to throw a pass to Beckham.  To see the whole exchange, click below.

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