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Cris Carter: Larry Fitzgerald is the only receiver with hands like mine

Cris Carter AP

Newly elected Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter isn’t shy about proclaiming himself the receiver with the best hands in the history of the game. But he’s gracious enough to acknowledge that there’s one receiver who’s in the same ballpark.

In a first-person feature written with Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Carter says that Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is the one and only receiver whose hands are worthy of being compared to Carter’s own.

“Larry Fitzgerald Jr. is the only person I’d say is comparable. I have never said anybody had better hands than me. No, I haven’t seen that. Catching the football is a gift. You can’t teach that. But Larry is the only one that’s comparable,” Carter said.

Although Carter won’t win any awards for humility, the first-person feature is a fascinating look back at his career. He mentions, for instance, that he admires his old coach Buddy Ryan and thinks Ryan has gotten a bum rap for cutting Carter in Philadelphia and saying, “All he does is catch touchdowns.”

“If I can go back in time, I’d probably go right before Buddy Ryan cut me, to change it. I would do exactly what I did with the Vikings [get clean, which would have meant] I never would have come to the Vikings,” Carter said. “I knew exactly what Buddy was doing. He told me he would never reveal my past [drug and alcohol abuse] to anyone. Someone asked him a question, ‘Why did you cut him?’ And he said, ‘Well, he only caught touchdowns. He wasn’t a complete receiver.’ It was what he decided to do to try to protect me.”

Carter also puts the blame for the fact that he never got to a Super Bowl squarely on a pair of teammates who blew a pair of plays in the 1998 NFC Championship Game loss to the Falcons.

“If I can change one thing about my life, Gary Anderson would make that damn kick,” Carter said. “And then Jimmy Hitchcock would not get beat on a third and 9 on an out and up.”

Fifteen years doesn’t seem to be long enough for Carter to get over that loss.

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Falcons release veteran return man Devin Hester

Devin Hester AP

Earlier this offseason, the Falcons were talking about ways to use return man Devin Hester, suggesting they might “green-light” him to take kickoffs out of the end zone.

But Hester’s Falcons career hit a red light this morning, as the team announced they had released the veteran wide receiver.

The 33-year-old Hester was coming back from toe surgery in January, and only played five games last year. He hadn’t participated in any of the offseason work, and it was unclear what he’d be able to do during training camp.

That injury kept him from showing his old burst, but he’s one of the most dangerous returners in the history of the game, and it’ll be interesting to see if someone wants to give him another chance once he’s well, whenever that might be.

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Sam Bradford “not really” thinking about long-term status with Eagles

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 20:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles replaces quarterback Sam Bradford #7 for one play in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson reiterated Monday that, barring injury or other unforseen development, the team will start Sam Bradford at quarterback in Week One.

Pederson also said that he can’t say at this point whether rookie Carson Wentz will remain on the inactive list as the No. 3 quarterback for the entire season. Wentz’s arrival caused some issues between Bradford and the team in the spring that have since been worked out and drafting a quarterback second overall means he’ll be the starter at some point.

Bradford said Monday that he’s not spending much time thinking about what that will mean for him.

“Not really,” Bradford said, via Philly.com. “I think at this point, I’m just trying to come out here, get better each day, try to make this team better, try to help this team win games, do my job the best I can, and then whatever happens, happens.”

It’s hard to block out thoughts about what might be coming later this year or in 2017, but Bradford’s future — in Philadelphia or elsewhere — will be in pretty good shape if he can turn in a healthy and productive season because healthy and productive quarterbacks are always in demand around the NFL.

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Corey Wootton announces his retirement after six seasons

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 20: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins is sacked by Corey Wootton #99 of the Detroit Lions during a preseason game at FedExField on August 20, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

With teams reporting to training camp, the veterans who didn’t get one of the 32 times 90 invitations (that’s 2,880, #math) often start realizing things about their future.

And the latest to retire instead of continuing to pursue football employment is journeyman defensive end Corey Wootton, per his own social media.

Wootton signed with the Lions last year, but didn’t play a down in the regular season after tearing a pectoral muscle in the preseason finale, putting him on IR.

He was originally drafted by Chicago and also spent time with the Vikings, amassing 12.0 sacks in his five years on the field, with 7.0 of them coming in 2012 with the Bears.

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Arthur Jones says he did bad job of checking supplements

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 11:  Arthur Jones #97 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on from the bench against the Denver Broncos during a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL’s PED policy is sufficiently effective to ensnare players who use supplements that contain banned substances. However, the PED policy has yet to catch many (if any) actual cheaters.

Those observations hinge on the honesty of the stream of PED offenders who claim they used a supplement that, unbeknownst to them, included one of the many chemicals and compounds on the long list of forbidden fruits.

Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones, suspended four games for a PED violation, is the latest cheater-who-isn’t-a-cheater. Via Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com, Jones said, “I did a piss poor job of double checking my supplements to make sure nothing was banned.”

The pun probably wasn’t intended; the “I am not a crook” message surely was. Either no one is deliberately using PEDs or they aren’t getting caught or, when they get caught, they’re claiming that they merely took a substance that they didn’t know included a banned substance.

Maybe Jones is telling the truth. The fact that his truth matches the terms of what so many times is used as an excuse makes it harder for folks to accept that his violation occurred inadvertently.

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Browns will give RGIII four out of five first-team reps

robert-griffin-042116-usnews-getty-ftr_1e6vnixax1djm16lk3vspil4lr Getty Images

Robert Griffin III hasn’t been promised the starting quarterback job in Cleveland, but heading into training camp, it’s his job to lose.

Longtime Browns reporter Tony Grossi said this morning on PFT Live that Griffin will get four out of every five reps with the first-string offense at Browns camp. That strongly suggests that coach Hue Jackson is heading into camp with the idea that Griffin is his starter, and will only change his mind if something surprising happens.

“It’s not an open competition with Josh McCown,” Grossi said.

At the moment, the Browns’ depth chart appears to have Griffin on top, McCown second, rookie third-round draft pick Cody Kessler third and Austin Davis fourth. That can change, but it will probably only change if Griffin either gets hurt or plays so poorly that the Browns’ coaches feel like they have no choice but to demote him. The other quarterbacks simply won’t get many opportunities to win the job.

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Tom Telesco: “I guess we’ll see” if Joey Bosa reports to camp

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 07:  Third overall 2016 NFL draft pick Joey Bosa of the San Diego Chargers throws out the ceremonial first picth prior to the start of the San Diego Padres game against the Atlanta Braves at PETCO Park on June 7, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Chargers picked defensive end Joey Bosa with the third overall pick of this year’s draft, they said they had their eye on him throughout the entire pre-draft process and knew that he was they guy they would take once it was known quarterbacks would be the first two picks.

That was easy, but getting Bosa under contract hasn’t been quite so smooth a process. Bosa is one of three players from the draft without a deal as his agents and the Chargers squabble over offset language and the timing of when bonus money will be paid to Bosa. Those issues have been obstacles for some time without an agreement, which may explain why General Manager Tom Telesco basically shrugged his shoulders when asked if Bosa would report to camp.

“I don’t know,” Telesco said on The Mighty 1090 in San Diego, via ESPN.com. “I guess we’ll see. I really don’t know if he’ll [show up]. We’re still working on it. Hopefully we’ll get something done, but I don’t know.”

Telesco said that he understood some people were puzzled about the standoff since it is “not really over money,” but said that the Chargers believe in “certain things of consistency and doing things the same way for everyone on the team” when it comes to contracts. In this case, that consistency could keep the third overall pick they were so sure they wanted from practicing when training camp opens in part because the the team’s worried about how much he’ll get paid if he’s a total flop.

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Danny Woodhead feels “great” after offseason injury scare

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 3: Running back Danny Woodhead #39 of the San Diego Chargers is dragged down by free safety Bradley Roby #29 of the Denver Broncos during a game  at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers running back Danny Woodhead doesn’t go down easily, and doesn’t usually stay down long.

But when a teammate rolled into his ankle in June, the 31-year-old  was worried it was similar to the season-ending injury he suffered in Buffalo in 2014, so he might have been entitled to milk it for a little extra attention.

“Not everyone knows this, but when I was in Buffalo, it hurt and I couldn’t get up on it, but it wasn’t until 30 seconds to a minute after when I was like, ‘Oh. This is bad,’” Woodhead said, via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “So [this time] I kind of gave it the 30 seconds to a minute. It wasn’t out of trying to be a jerk or anything, but I was just like, ‘I don’t know if I’m good yet. Let’s see. Let’s wait this out.’ . . .

“It took a couple weeks, but now I’m as healthy as I’ve been in a long time. I feel great going into the season.”

Having Woodhead ready to contribute will be a good sign for the Chargers, after a productive 2015 season. He led the team in catches (81), receiving yards (755) and receiving touchdowns (six), remarkable numbers for a back on the wrong side of 30.

“In my rookie year and second year, I really didn’t play that much,” Woodhead said. “And then with the year I took off because of the ankle, that’s really three years that didn’t give me wear and tear. I really feel like I’m young. I feel like my body is young. . . . I feel like I’m 26. This might have been the best offseason I’ve had.

“If you were to ask me that five years ago, I would’ve said, ‘Yeah, right.’ But I still feel like I can do the same things as I did or better. As long as I can do the same things I was doing in year four, if I’m doing that or better, I don’t think it’s time for me to go for a while.”

At least he’s ready to go from the start of the season, which is a huge relief after his June scare.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Will the Bills defense be better this season?

Assessing potential improvements in the Dolphins secondary.

Where will Shea McClellin fit into the Patriots defense?

The Jets will have a players leadership council this season.

CB Jimmy Smith playing well is important to the Ravens defense.

Previewing the players heading into their second years with the Bengals.

Rookie WR Corey Coleman was motivated by criticism from Browns coach Hue Jackson.

An optimistic prediction for the Steelers offense despite players missing with suspensions.

Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson avoided the Texans PUP list.

A few under-the-radar Colts training camp storylines.

The Jaguars added K Sam Ficken to the roster.

Titans fans will be able to get QB Marcus Mariota’s autograph at training camp.

Rookie defensive backs will have to catch on quickly to get playing time with the Broncos.

Which Chiefs can boost their offensive production?

The Raiders are set with outside cornerbacks and holding a competition for slot duties.

The Chargers are looking for a big step forward from RB Melvin Gordon.

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley learned from Randy Moss in joint workouts.

Ben McAdoo’s style is geared toward younger members of the Giants roster.

CB Nolan Carroll was among the rehabbing veterans on the field for the Eagles Monday.

Will the Redskins look outside the organization for pass rush help?

The development of recent first-round picks will be important for the Bears this season.

Previewing the biggest position battles for the Lions.

The Packers need some inside linebackers to step up this year.

The Vikings offensive line changed again on Monday with tackle Phil Loadholt’s retirement.

Have the Falcons improved their pass rush?

Tracing Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin’s path back from a torn ACL.

The Saints don’t expect T Terron Armstead to have an extended stay on the PUP list.

In search of buzz about the Buccaneers.

DT Darnell Dockett returned to the Cardinals to say goodbye to the NFL.

QB Jared Goff isn’t the only Rams rookie trying to get noticed at training camp.

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner are excited to renew their college partnership with the 49ers.

Will coach Pete Carroll get an extension from the Seahawks soon?

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Police visit Tre Mason’s home five times in four months

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 03:  Tre Mason #27 of the St. Louis Rams rushes with the ball against Jimmie Ward #25 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

In early March, Rams running back Tre Mason had a bizarre incident with police, resulting in his arrest on various charges. He then failed to appear in court, before eventually doing so.

Since then, police reportedly have been called to his house on five different occasions. According to TMZ, the most recent incident happened on Saturday.

Per the report, Mason’s family is concerned about his mental health. During one of the police visits, he agreed to check into a facility. He apparently didn’t.

Mason has not yet been accused of assaulting family members. On one occasion, a family member told police that Mason hadn’t slept in days, and that the family member was concerned if Mason left the house “he will get hurt.”

Mason didn’t participate in OTAs this year, excused from the voluntary sessions for “personal reasons.” The next question for the Rams is whether Mason, a third-round pick in 2014, will be welcomed to training camp — and whether he’ll even show up for it.

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Pederson continues to commit to Bradford as Week 1 starter

bradford-sam082315-getty-ftrjpg_6qwfldz8wmio1w7qdzj8hpebh Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson remains committed to Sam Bradford as his starting quarterback.

“I’ve said all along that Sam’s the guy,’’ Pederson said after Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz completed their first training camp practice on Monday.

Pederson said he doesn’t see anything happening in the preseason that would change his quarterback depth chart.

“You’ve got to get through four games and a lot of preseason. But going into September 11, Sam’s the guy. I’ll stick with that. Chase is our No. 2, and Carson is our No. 3,” Pederson said.

The Eagles, more than any other team, poured resources into the quarterback position this offseason: They signed Bradford to a two-year, $35 million contract, signed Daniel to a three-year, $21 million contract and traded up to the second overall pick to draft Wentz. With all those resources going into the position, they’d better have a good starting quarterback. Pederson thinks they have one in Bradford.

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Derrick Morgan says NFL isn’t doing enough research on cannabis

Derrick Morgan AP

Now that Eugene Monroe has retired, Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan is the last active player who is willing to be an advocate for medicinal marijuana.

He hopes he’s not the only one for long, and has shared the research he’s done on the topic. But he hopes time will see the plant’s stigma subside, and that the league will spend as much time researching as he has.

“I just take the NFL for their word: If they say that long-term health and player safety are top priorities of the league, then why aren’t you looking into all the options for health care that are out there?” Morgan told Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. “It’s definitely incumbent upon them to really delegate some time and some resources to look into it.”

Morgan is pushing the medical benefits of cannabis, and wants to draw the line between the possible pain-relief potential the plant holds and the recreational smoking many have made synonymous.

Morgan said he’s never failed a drug test for marijuana, and hasn’t used it because of the league’s rules against it. But he also thinks demonizing the drug by grouping it alongside things such as LSD and heroin keeps people from seeing the protection it could offer players.

“CTE, all this stuff is real … that’s unsettling as a player,” he said. “You want to be able to think that you are going to be there for your family in full capacity, that you’re going to be able to be an active member, contributing member of society. With something like that, I’ve got to look at what my options are. If this happens to be an option, which I think it will be, then I’m going to look into it, . . .

“Every player is in a different position. But at the root of it, if your motivation is being proactive about preserving your health, then I don’t think you should have to tippy-toe around anything.”

At the moment, he’s the only current player even tippy-toeing, but hopes more will join him.

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Former Patriots defensive tackle busted on drug charges on campus

8 Sep 1996:  Defensive lineman Mark Wheeler of the New England Patriots looks on during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.  The Bills won the game, 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport Getty Images

Longtime NFL defensive tackle Mark Wheeler, who once started a Super Bowl for the Patriots, has been arrested on drug charges in Texas.

According to KBTX, 46-year-old Mark Wheeler was taken into custody after Texas A&M police said they found him sitting in a truck on campus with marijuana and cocaine.

According to the report, the officer noticed a marijuana cigarette on the console of his truck, but he told them it was medical marijuana.

Upon searching, two bags of marijuana were found hidden in water bottles (less than 15 grams) and a small bag of cocaine inside a Tylenol bottle (setting up another medicinal defense).

A former third-round pick by the Buccaneers in 1992, Wheeler played eight seasons in the NFL. He started for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, and also played for the Eagles.

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Brandon Marshall has finally heard from Ryan Fitzpatrick, duo spending time together in Chicago

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:   Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets and Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets watch the game against the Buffalo Bills from the sidelines during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall expressed concern recently when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick stopped returning messages in the lull before the start of training camp.

Marshall can now call off the search.

Fresh off playing in the American Century Championship golf tournament in South Lake Tahoe, Nev. this past weekend, Fitzpatrick has made a stop in Chicago to see his (former?) teammate. Marshall posted a photo to his instagram page on Monday night of Fitzpatrick and his two sons hanging out on a rooftop in the Windy City.

Fitzpatrick remains at an impasse in reaching a contract agreement with the Jets, despite multiple offers being floated by the team in hopes of finding a resolution. He didn’t renew the lease on his New York apartment and an end to the saga appears far from imminent.

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Kenny Anunike placed on PUP list by Broncos

Kenny Anunike AP

Promising pass rusher Kenny Anunike will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list for the Denver Broncos.

The third-year defensive end has been hampered by injuries early in his career. He missed all but three games last season due to a knee injury that required surgery in August and eventually landed him on injured reserve.

He flashed his raw ability in last year’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Anunike had eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

He has just one tackle in his regular season career.

A player can be activated from the PUP list any time during the preseason. However, a player must be placed on PUP prior to the start of training camp in order to be eligible for the reserve/PUP list for the regular season.

It’s uncertain whether Anunike has suffered some kind of a setback from the issues that plagued him last season or if the move is just to provide the Broncos with roster flexibility and the time needed for Anunike to get back to full speed.

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Tom Jackson won’t be back at ESPN

ESPN commentators Tom Jackson and  Chris Berman during the ESPN Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams in St. Louis, Missouri on December 11, 2006.  The Bears won 42 - 27.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The report from Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News that Tom Jackson will leave ESPN provided some wiggle room for the veteran analyst to return to Sunday NFL Countdown for what would be his 30th season. Multiple industry sources tell PFT that the decision has been made: Jackson won’t be coming back.

As one source explained it, ESPN’s decision to bring back Trent Dilfer after his contract had expired and it appeared he would leaving arose in part from Jackson’s decision to leave.

Jackson had long been regarded as being tied at the hip with on-air partner Chris Berman. With Berman reportedly entering his last year at ESPN, it’s somewhat odd that Jackson wouldn’t want to do a victory lap with Berman.

Unless, of course, that victory lap will be all about Berman and/or consist of Berman complaining about the fact that ESPN management has apparently nudged him out.

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