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Antonio Brown says the Steelers’ locker room was divided last year

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Steelers receiver Antonio Brown says his third year with the team was a lot different than his first two.

Brown said on SportsCenter today that Pittsburgh’s locker room was fractured in the 2012 season, in a way he hadn’t seen previously since being drafted by the Steelers in 2010.

“It was definitely different — guys weren’t really together,” Brown said.

Brown said Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was among the veterans who spoke out and tried to explain to the team that selfish behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. But that talk was apparently not enough.

“That’s when you know you’ve got issues and you’ve got to come together as a team. Because the reality of a team game is everyone on the same page, committed to the same thing, dedicated for one goal, and that’s winning,” Brown said.

Although he didn’t name any names, Brown said he thought he had teammates last year who cared more about their individual goals than about the team’s record. And he described going 8-8 as “a bitter taste” that he hopes will motivate all of his teammates to act differently in 2013.

“Everyone in our locker room in 2013 has to understand the value of being in there and what our tradition and history stand for,” Brown said.

Brown said he agrees with Steelers defensive coordinator that the Steelers could have done what the Ravens did and gone on a run to the Super Bowl.

“He’s right on — we definitely had the talent, the pieces in the right place to do some things,” Brown said. “But winning is not talent. It’s all about being on the same page, and each guy having the guy next to him’s back, and being committed to winning. You see a Ravens team that was committed to winning and togetherness, and that’s what it’s all about.”

For Pittsburgh fans, hearing a Steeler say the team needs to be more like the Ravens is, indeed, a bitter pill to swallow.

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Vikings rookie Ifeadi Odenigbo hurt foot on swimming pool gate

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The Vikings were without the services of quarterback Taylor Heinicke for a good chunk of last season while he recovered from a foot injury he suffered while trying to kick in a locked door before training camp.

That means Heinicke can empathize with rookie defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo even if Odenigbo’s own off-field foot injury wasn’t quite as serious. Odenigbo, a seventh-round pick, suffered a deep cut to his foot when he caught it on a loose piece of metal on the gate of the swimming pool at the Eden Prairie hotel that housed players during Vikings OTAs.

“The gate closed on me, and it had some chipped metal and it went right into my heel, so that was my Achilles’ heel,’’ Odenigbo said, via the Pioneer Press. “It was a freak accident. When I was going (through the gate), it just nicked my heel and blood was gushing everywhere. It was a big, deep cut. There was too much skin ripped off for me to have stitches. It was pretty gross. … It was like a fishing rod went into my skin and you yanked the skin out.”

Odenigbo was able to participate in the final practices of the spring, although he said he wasn’t able to wear cleats as a result of the injury and that it “still hurts to put pressure” on the injured foot. That could set him back as he tries to make the team and the back-to-back foot injuries may have other Vikings players watching where they step a little more closely in the future.

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Chiefs make front office moves with Brett Veach installed as G.M.

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The Chiefs shook up their front office in late June when they fired John Dorsey as their General Manager and promoted Brett Veach to fill the position.

On Tuesday, the team announced some other changes to the personnel department. At the top of the list was naming Mike Borgonzi as the director of player personnel.

The Chiefs described the move as a promotion, although it appears to be a modification as much as anything. Borgonzi and Veach were co-directors of player personnel before Veach was promoted to G.M., so he should be up to speed on things related to his new title.

The team also hired Michael Davis as a personnel executive and David Hinson as an area scout. Davis previously worked for the Eagles and Jets while Hinson worked for both those teams as well as the Browns, Saints and Bills.

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Allen Robinson, Jags have talked about extension

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The Jaguars signed center Brandon Linder to a lucrative, five-year extension on Monday and they may be moving on to another member of their starting offense with that deal out of the way.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson said in April that he felt he earned a contract extension based on his play over his first three years with the team and said that his agent has had conversations with the Jaguars about getting one done.

“They have [talked], but at the end of the day, that’s my agent’s job and I’ll let him do his thing and I’ll do my thing on the field,” Robinson said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

Robinson might be in line for a bigger payday if he were to wait on an extension until he does his thing on the field during the 2017 season. The wideout’s numbers dropped from his breakout 2015 campaign and putting up something close to that season would likely leave Robinson in better negotiating position, although the flip side of that would be that getting something done now eliminates the risk of further disappointment leading the Jaguars to look somewhere else entirely.

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Mike Pouncey says he got good medical news

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When Dolphins coach Adam Gase met with the media on Tuesday, he said that the team was waiting to hear the results of center Mike Pouncey’s visit with doctors about his hip later in the day before making plans for Pouncey’s practice schedule during training camp.

It appears the results of that visit were what Pouncey and the team were hoping to hear. In a post to Instagram after Gase’s press conference, Pouncey put up a picture of himself running on the field for a game with a caption that reads “when you get the news you’ve been waiting for!!!!”

It’s not clear what that means for Pouncey’s activity level, but it would seem to make him a good bet to avoid the PUP list. Gase said that he doesn’t need to see Pouncey in the preseason in order to feel comfortable putting him on the field, but added that Pouncey wants to “go through his routine for training camp.”

Pouncey also included the hashtag “16+,” which presumably references the number of games he wants to play this season. That’s a number that Pouncey has not reached since his second NFL season, something the Dolphins will likely keep in mind when they come up with a practice schedule even if Pouncey’s been given full clearance.

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Mike Zimmer may let coordinator call a game in the preseason

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Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had to give up play-calling duties involuntarily last year, when he had to miss a game because of eye surgery.

This year, he’s choosing to do so during the preseason, to find out if it helps him see the game better.

According to Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Zimmer said he’ll probably let defensive coordinator George Edwards call a preseason game next month to determine if it helps him manage the overall flow of the game.

Whether as a coordinator or a head coach, Zimmer has always called defensive plays in games for the last 17 years.

“I’ll probably have [Edwards] call one in a preseason game and see how it goes,” Zimmer said. “I have not decided yet, no, totally for the season, but I think it’d be good practice in the preseason to see how it goes. See if it helps me help other areas of the game, so I’m kind of thinking that way.”

The Vikings have always had good defenses under Zimmer (ranking in the top third of the league in scoring defense each of his three seasons), but they have more global issues.

They were 3-8 down the stretch last year with a number of close losses, and Zimmer’s looking for ways to help avoid that in the future, even if it means giving away some of the authority he’s always had.

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What were the messiest NFL divorces?

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With whatever it is that’s going on between Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, we have yet another source of NBA inspiration for the PFT Live question of the day.

What were the messiest, ugliest divorces in the NFL? (Of course, with the Lucky Whitehead situation in Dallas, we really didn’t need to swipe ideas from basketball. But what the hell.)

We’ll skip the poll question and leave it open-ended today. Put some ideas in the comments, and the best ones will be borrowed on Wednesday’s show.

Joining the broadcast will be former NFL coach Kevin Gilbride and Lucky Whitehead’s lawyer, Dave Rich. Hopefully, you’ll join us, too — at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio and then at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN, or still on NBC Sports Radio. Or both.

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Ron Rivera “pretty excited” about Cam Newton’s shoulder, weight


It was almost easy to miss, with the recent upheavals in Panthers camp.

But oh by the way, their former MVP quarterback who’s coming off surgery on his throwing shoulder who has missed the entire offseason appears to be OK.

Via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was pleased with where his quarterback was, from both a shoulder rehab and physical conditioning standpoint. Rivera said Newton weighed in at 246 pounds (he was closer to 260 last year), which should help with his mobility after a rough 2016 season.

Pretty excited about where he is right now,” Rivera said. “Again, he’s been like this all offseason. He’s had a very good offseason, considering the fact he couldn’t throw. But he worked very hard, very diligently. I’m excited to see him on the field [Wednesday].”

Newton has thrown with his receivers in recent weeks, but will be limited at the start of camp after having surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff suffered in December. He began light throwing in June, and the hope is that he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season.

That would be nice, since the Panthers are fiddling with their offense this offseason, looking for ways for Newton to get the ball out of his hands quicker. Having him well enough to attempt some of those new plays should only help.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

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Veteran players on the Jets insist there will be no tanking.

Should the Bills cut DT Adolphus Washington for his recent weapons arrest?

The Dolphins are beefing up security at training camp.

Did last year’s suspension actually work in favor of Tom Brady?

The Ravens are a team under construction heading into camp.

Ex-Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins wrote a letter to Cincinnati after announcing his retirement.

And as an ex-Brown, Hawkins wrote to Cleveland as well.

Here’s what to do if you’re heading to Steelers camp.

NFL Network will have a setup at Texans camp.

Colts WR Chester Rogers is a player to keep an eye on in training camp.

Jaguars C Brandon Linder said he wanted to get his contract extension done so he could focus on training camp.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota is feeling great heading into camp.

The Broncos have announced that former head coach Gary Kubiak is returning to the team in a front office role.

Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt says he’s trying to adjust to a new playbook.

As the Chargers work out Robert Griffin III, many in Los Angeles are asking why they’re not considering Colin Kaepernick.

The Raiders hope TE Jared Cook gives them an option over the middle they didn’t have last year.

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is feeling good heading into camp.

One columnist has some tough talk for Giants WR Odell Beckham.

It’s still unclear whether Eagles WR Jordan Matthews will be on the field on Thursday.

Washington CB Josh Norman says everyone believes in QB Kirk Cousins, regardless of his contract status.

Here’s a look at the Bears’ training camp schedule.

Lions RB Theo Riddick hopes to be back soon after a wrist injury.

The Packers’ Family Night usually fills Lambeau Field for a practice.

Said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer after watching the first couple practices of training camp, “They are working hard and we have got a lot of stuff in. I think practice was pretty good yesterday.”

How much should the Falcons pay RB Devonta Freeman?

Should the Panthers be concerned about C Ryan Kalil’s shoulder?

Here’s a look at the Saints’ likely roster.

It’s unfair to expect Bucs DT Gerald McCoy to be Warren Sapp.

Cardinals LB Scooby Wright made an impressive play in training camp.

Here’s what the Rams hope to accomplish in training camp.

The 49ers’ top pick, Solomon Thomas, remains unsigned.

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett’s forthcoming book is titled, “How to Make White People Uncomfortable.”

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Sammie Coates to miss some time after knee surgery

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The Steelers finally have Martavis Bryant back in the fold, but they will be short another receiver when camp opens.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Steelers wideout Sammie Coates will miss the start of camp after getting his knee scoped last week.

Coates apparently suffered the knee injury while training this offseason, and could return as soon as mid-August.

The 2015 third-rounder got off to a promising start last year, but injuries to his fingers and his groin derailed his progress. He needed surgery for the groin problem this offseason.

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Earl Thomas not expecting to be limited for start of training camp

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Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said he felt at around 80 percent as offseason practices were coming to a close last month. With training camp set to open for Seattle on Sunday, Thomas feels like he’s closed down the gap on the remaining 20 percent.

According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Thomas said Tuesday that he expects to be full speed for camp with the Seahawks.

“I don’t think I’ll have any limitations,” Thomas said. “The thing about camp is it’s going to put me in a lot of great situations where I can see how I will react and then I can kind of go from there.”

Thomas had not missed a single game in his first six seasons in the NFL prior to the broken leg that ended his 2016 season last November. He played in Super Bowl XLIX with a torn labrum sustained in Seattle’s NFC Championship victory over Green Bay. He missed most of the ensuing preseason while recovering from surgery.

“I’m feeling really, really good,” he said. “I’m feeling solid. That’s all I can ask for going into this part of the season. I’m excited and ready to get back out there with the guys and try to take this thing, take it all the way.”

The Seahawks are usually careful easing players returning from injuries back into work. Even if Thomas feels 100 percent, the Seahawks will likely ease back on his workload in the early days of camp. But with Thomas such a vital part of Seattle’s defense, having him ready to go for the start of camp bodes well for his recovery overall.

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Agent denies report Koa Misi is retiring after being placed on IR

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Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi’s 2017 season came to an end before it could even begin as he was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

A lingering neck injury that required surgery and brought his 2016 season after just three games led to Miami ending his 2017 season before players ever took to the practice fields for training camp.

A report by Andy Slater of WINZ  940-AM in Miami indicated that Misi has made the decision to retire from the game following Tuesday’s news. However, Misi’s agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, refutes that notion, saying that Misi isn’t retiring.

Zuckerman told the Miami Herald, and confirmed to PFT, that Misi is not retiring.

We’re all disappointed. It’s unexpected. I feel bad for him and we’ll see what the future entails,” Zuckerman told the Herald.

Slater followed it up with a tweet saying Misi had told family and close friends his intentions to retire Tuesday night.

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase told reporters that he was confident Misi would play again. He will be a free agent after the upcoming season. He is not eligible to return from injured reserve as players need to be on the initial 53-man roster in order to be eligible to return to action.

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Xavier Rhodes mentor Terrell Buckley says likely Rhodes inks extension with Vikings this week

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Xavier Rhodes believes he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He may be about to sign a deal that pays him like one.

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Rhodes’ mentor, former NFL cornerback Terrell Buckley, believes there’s a “high probability” Rhodes signs a contract extension with the Vikings this week.

“He is trying to get a couple of things squared away (with the contract),’’ Buckley said. “He wants to be there. He loves the (Vikings) organization, but obviously it’s a business.

“He’s got to make sure it makes sense to him financially. But he’s excited about it. He loves Minnesota. He loves the head coach (Mike Zimmer). He loves (defensive backs coach Jerry Gray). He’s very adamant and excited that he wants to be a Viking. He wants to play his whole career in Minnesota.’’

Rhodes made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season after recording five interceptions, 11 passes defended, 52 tackles and a forced fumble for the Vikings last year. The former first-round pick is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract with Minnesota, which is set to pay him a touch over $8 million this season.

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Falcons stadium roof will remain closed, indefinitely


Last month, the roof at the new Falcons stadium successfully closed. Next month, it may stay that way for a while.

Via Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, AMB Group CEO Steve Cannon said Tuesday that the roof will be closed when the stadium opens next month, and that it will remain closed “for an undetermined period of time” thereafter. Cannon blamed the inability to fully mechanize the roof on construction delays.

As a result, Cannon said the roof will be closed both for the preseason home opener on August 26 and the regular-season home opener on September 17.

That conflicts with something Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay said in May on PFT Live. At the time, McKay said the roof will be fully operational from the moment the stadium opens.

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Texans GM Rick Smith: “No contract dispute” with holdout Duane Brown

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Even with left tackle Duane Brown skipping offseason workouts and holding out from the start of training camp in West Virginia, Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith doesn’t feel he has anything to discuss with the former Pro Bowler.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Smith’s stance is that Brown is under contract and that’s that.

I have talked to Duane,” Smith said. “There is no contract dispute. Duane is under contract for two more years. That’s our position.

“We’re here to get our team ready for the season. He should be a part of it. Duane and I have a really good relationship. He’s our longest-tenured player. He’s an important member of our team, and he ought to be here. He needs to be here.”

NFL teams can be hesitant to issue contract extensions to players with more than one year remaining on their current contracts. That doesn’t mean they never happen though. The Texans themselves have broken that mold for Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt in the past. However, DeAndre Hopkins was unsuccessful in leveraging a contract with two years left on his deal a season ago.

Brown was placed on the reserve/did not report list by the Texans on Tuesday. Brown already has skipped the full offseason program, including a mandatory mini-camp that exposed him to roughly $80,000 in fines. Because Brown is under contract, each day missed of training camp carries a potential $40,000 fine as well.

He is scheduled to make $9.4 million this season and $9.75 million in 2018.

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Jerry Jones: We make decisions in best interest of the team


Jerry Jones wouldn’t speak specifically about the team’s decision to release Lucky Whitehead, but the Cowboys owner clearly was bothered by criticism of it.

I’m not going to talk about Lucky,” Jones said Tuesday night, via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. “I’m going to talk about players.

“I’ve never talked to a player that I didn’t have empathy. If you all [media] have done one thing in my time to criticize me, it is how I will back up a player to a fault. You’ve done it. You’ve done it for years. I will back them up to a fault.”

Jones became emotional as he continued.

“So when we do make a decision around here that’s in the best interest of the team to move on, there’s one thing you can forget about and that is whether you’re being fair or whether you’ve given it consideration of what it means to the individual,” Jones said. “That doesn’t happen around here. Thank you guys.”

Virginia police cleared Whitehead of a bogus shoplifting charge but not before the Cowboys decided to release him. Whitehead appeared on the NFL’s transactions Tuesday.

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