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Full transcript of Manti Te’o interview

Manti Te'o AP

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o made a 15-minute appearance in the media room at NFL Scouting Combine Saturday. Here’s the full transcript of his comments:

Te’o (taking the stage and laughing): “That’s a lot of cameras.”

Q: How are you feeling?

Te’o: “ I’m kind of tired right now. A long day, medical exams. It’s all part of the process.”

Q: Are you tired of answering all the questions about the (fake dead girlfriend) incident?

“Yeah, about the incident, I’ve said all I need to say about that. How I’m handling it going forward is doing what I’m doing, focusing on the moment, focusing on football and the combine. Not everybody gets this opportunity to be here. I’m sure there’s

thousands and thousands of people who would like to be here in Indianapolis. Just trying to enjoy the moment.”

Q: How much have you been asked about it by NFL teams?

Te’o: “Quite a few teams asked me about it. Some go to certain lengths, some just ask me, ‘Just give me a brief overview of how it was’ then they get straight to business.”

Q: Why didn’t you play well in the national championship game?

“That’s because I didn’t. That’s all on me. I played hard and so did my team, but Alabama had a great game plan and so did we. They executed better than we did.”

Q: Was the other situation a distraction to you leading up to that game?

Te’o: “No.”

Q: Any teams not ask you about it?

Te’o: “No (laughs). They all ask me about it.”

Q: What are they asking you?

Te’o: “Just tell me the facts. They want to hear it from me. Just tell them basically what happened.”

Q: Do you think it might hurt you?

Te’o: “That I don’t know. That I don’t know.”

Q: Could you summarize the facts?

Te’o: “Just I care for somebody and that’s what I was taught to do. Ever since I was young if somebody needs help you help them out. Unfortunately it didn’t end up the way I thought it would.”

Q: Why wait so long to say something?

Te’o: “It was just a whirlwind of stuff. A 22-year-old, 21-year old at that time, just trying to get your thoughts right. Everybody was just kind of chaos for a little bit, so you let that chaos die down and wait until everybody’s ready to listen.”

Q: Do you understand people might doubt your version of events because it took you so long?

Te’o: “That I don’t know, people doubting because I took a while to come out. From our point of view we wanted everything to come out first and then have my side come out. The way we did I felt worked best for me. I’m very grateful for those who helped me to get through that time. I felt it went as smoothly as it could.”

Q: Have you gotten a sense from NFL people it might affect you in draft?

Te’o: “No, not really. They’ve told me that, . . . they’ve wanted to hear it from me what the truth was. They haven’t really said anything about it affecting me.

“Some guys just talk briefly for 30 seconds and the next 14 minutes is all plays and getting down to business. That’s how I prefer it to be.”

Q: Do you worry how you’ll be treated in the locker room, trouble assuming a leadership role?

Te’o: “No. I think I’ve learned the difference between the things I can control and the things I can’t control. And hopefully by doing the things I can control well I’ll have more favor in the other category. Whatever team I go to, I’m just going to be me, I’m going to work hard, I’m going to do my best to help the team win. And whatever happens happens.”

Q: Can you believe the fascination like this?

Te’o: “It’s pretty crazy. I’ve been in front of a few cameras, but not as many as this.”

Q: “What about when it came out, every news channel, lead story. You surprised?”

Te’o: “I was. It got overwhelming at times. The hardest part and I’ve said was just to see, not necessarily my first name, but my last name. Everybody here, you treasure your last name. That’s what you hold dear. That’s something that when you pass on, the only thing that stays with you, stays here is your last name. To see your last name everywhere and know I represented my family and all my cousins and aunties and uncles, . . .

Q: Are you prepared to deal with this for the next couple years?

Te’o: “Oh, yeah. For me, I hopefully I’m just looking forward to getting straight to football. I understand people have questions, but I’ve answered everything I could. For me I’d really like to talk about football.”

Q: Had you planned to go to the Senior Bowl, did this change your mind?

Te’o: “No. I didn’t get that far. I was still worrying about the national championship. I didn’t get that far.”

Q: Who are some of the teams you’ve met with?

Te’o: “I’ve met with the Texans and I met with the Packers.”

Q: Why didn’t you attempt to go see a girl you cared so much about?

Te’o: “I did. We made plans, obviously it didn’t work out.”

Q: How many more teams do you expect to talk to and which ones?

Te’o: “I don’t know, I’m not sure. I know I’ll be meeting formally with 18 more teams. I don’t know specifically who they are. I’ll find out soon. I’m meeting with 20 total.”

Q: What are you telling teams you bring to the table as a player?

Te’o: “I think what I bring to the table is a lot of heart, a lot of energy and somebody that works hard. Somebody who hates to lose. I always say, ‘I hate losing more than I love to win.’ The reason why I love to win is because I don’t have to go through that feeling of losing. It’s those times where I lose that feeling that will stick with me. For teams I tell them, ‘You’ll always get somebody who’s humble, works hard, doesn’t say much and will do everything it takes to win.’”

Q: Have any lingering regret over all this?

Te’o: “I could have done some things different, obviously, done a lot of things different to avoid all this stuff. But throughout my experience my senior year, I wouldn’t do anything different.”

Q: Has this been embarrassing?

Te’o: “Oh, definitely. For anybody to go through, it’s definitely embarrassing. When you’re walking through grocery stores and you’re kind of like giving people double-takes to see if they’re starting at you ,it’s definitely embarrassing. I guess it’s part of the process, it’s part of the journey. You know it’s only going to make me stronger and it definitely has.”

Q: Have you gotten past the point of being embarrassed about it?

Te’o: “Oh, definitely. It definitely has gone. Obviously I’m here. If I was still embarrassed I wouldn’t be standing in front of you.”

Q: Can you understand what NFL teams are trying to get at?

Te’o: “Yeah, they want to be able to trust their player. You don’t want to invest in somebody you can’t trust. With everybody here, they’re just trying to get to know you, get to know you as a person and as a football player. I understand where they’re coming from.”

Q: Does that make you feel you’ve got a hurdle to overcome in the honesty department?

Te’o: “It could be a hurdle, but it could also be a great opportunity to show who you really are. That’s the way I’ve approached it and it’s been a great growing experience for me.”

Q: Ravens have been mentioned a lot as a destination for you. How much would you like to follow Ray Lewis?

Te’o: “Aw, definitely, whatever team I go to, but definitely the Ravens. Ray Lewis, I’ve grown up watching Ray Lewis. Just watching his intensity, his passion for the game, his love for the game, his work ethic. Everything in a linebacker that you want to be is in Ray Lewis, from leadership qualities, all that. He’ll be definitely missed in Baltimore and in the NFL as a whole.

“If I get to go to Baltimore, it will definitely be some big shoes to fill, but an opportunity I’ll be honored to have.”

Q: What’s different about you now?

Te’o: “For me I’ve learned just to be honest in anything and everything you do, from the big things to the small things. Secondly, to keep your circle very small and to understand who’s really in your corner and who’s not. I think going off of the season my team and I had, there’s a lot of people in our corner. Then when Jan. 16 happened, there’s a lot of people in the other corner. I just learned to appreciate the people that I have that are with me and to just make sure you always try to turn a negative thing into a positive.”

Q: What’s been the toughest moment since all this came out?

Te’o: “I think the toughest moment, to be honest with you, was a phone call that I got from my sister where she told me that they had to sneak my own family in their home because there were people parked out in the yard and stuff like that. That had to be the hardest part.

“And for me, something that I’ve always had a problem with is when I can’t do something about it; I can’t help. To know that my family was in this situation because of the actions I committed was definitely the hardest part for me.”

Q: As a player what kind of challenges can you anticipate at the next level?

Te’o: “The game gets even faster, a lot more complex. What I have to do as a player is I have to remember why I’m playing this game. It’s the same game I played when I was a little kid on the streets, same thing, football’s still the same shape. Obviously people are going to be professionals. This is where the best play. But as long as I don’t stray too far from who I am and what I believe in, I think the journey will be worth it.”

Q: Players have been arrested, had drug issues, does it bother you that you’re under the same scrutiny as guys who have been in jail?

Te’o: “Everybody makes mistakes and one of the positive things about what I went through is I’ve learned to empathize with those who are going through the same thing. Those who are going through some hard times, who are getting attention that they don’t necessarily want. It just taught me to always give somebody the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘You never know, you never know what’s going on with a person.’”

Q: What about the difference between situations?

Te’o: “That’s something I don’t believe I can comment on.”

Q: Did you consider legal action against Ronaiah Tuisasosopo?

Te’o: “I think that’s the worst thing you could do. Both families are going through chaos. There’s not only people camped out at my house, there’s people camped out at his house. I went through what I went through and he went through his own share of stuff.

“I think that’s the worst thing for me to do is to do that. Always try and forgive. If you forgive, you’ll get the majority of the blessings. I always try to forgive and it’s definitely benefited me.”

Q: Are you dating anybody in real life?

Te’o: “No, not right now.”

Q: When your sister called about sneaking parents in, what was your emotion?

Te’o: “Just why? It should never get that way. As people we have to realize that we’re all people, somebody is somebody’s son, somebody is somebody’s daughter. And I try to picture it that way. Would you want somebody doing that to your son? Would you want somebody doing that to your daughter? If not, why do it? Through this whole experience I’ve learned that.

“Since I’ve experienced it, the things I see, the things I do, I try to always think ‘That’s somebody/s son. That’s somebody’s daughter. That’s somebody’s mom, dad. Whatever I do try to base what I do off of that.”

Te’o: “In closing, I’d like to thank everybody for being here. It’s been a hard but tremendous ride for me and my family and the University of Notre Dame. I’d like to thank my parents, my family, my friends, the University of Notre Dame and everybody who supports me. I couldn’t do it without all of you.

“Hopefully after this I answered the things I needed to answer and we can move on with football. So thank you, everybody.”

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Stefen Wisniewski visited Jaguars on Wednesday

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Center Stefen Wisniewski may be recovering from shoulder surgery, but he’s still generating interest around the league.

Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports that Wisniewski visited the Jaguars on Wednesday, which was the same day that a report of the center’s visit with the Patriots surfaced. Wisniewski has also visited the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Bears since the start of free agency last month.

Wisniewski has started 61 games for the Raiders since they made him a second-round pick in 2011, but he won’t be back in Oakland after the Raiders signed Rodney Hudson as a free agent. Wisniewski would likely move into the starting lineup ahead of Luke Bowanko if he signed with the Jaguars after Bowanko struggled to protect Blake Bortles in his 14 starts as a rookie in 2014.

Landing in Jacksonville would also reunite Wisniewski with Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who held the same job with the Raiders for the last two seasons.

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Packers won’t look away from the mistakes that doomed season

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The easiest thing for the Packers to do with tapes of their playoff loss to the Seahawks would be to ignore them, or burn them.

But the Packers have poured themselves into them, poring over each of the mistakes that helped them blow a late lead and lose the NFC Championship Game in dramatic fashion.

Via Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said all the plays that contributed to that loss have been gone over time and again, to catalog the disappointment and look for answers.

That’s part of your scheme evaluation,” McCarthy said. “We have done it as a staff. We cut up every situation, so we’ve seen those plays from that game a number of times from our scheme evaluation.”

In case you’ve forgotted (they haven’t), the Packers were up 19-7 with under five minutes to play, and ended up losing in overtime thanks to a fake field goal and a botched extra point.

There has also been accountability, with special teams coach Shawn Slocum fired and a number of the players involved in those mistakes released (Brandon Bostick, Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk).

The mistakes were the kind that grind away at coaches, who plan so meticulously and carefully for any situation, then watch a season unravel in an instant.

McCarthy said he’s even gone back and watched the television copies of the game to supplement the game film, apparently needing a reminder of how bad it looked to those who live outside the world of All-22.

That couldn’t have been easy, and frankly somebody should buy the poor guy a stiff drink or something for sitting through it again.

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Ravens owner: NFL was “stupid” not to have a domestic violence policy

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Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says the NFL should have always had a policy specifically to deal with domestic violence, rather than lumping in domestic violence incidents with other personal-conduct policy violations.

“I think that we were pretty stupid not to recognize domestic violence as a category by itself,” Bisciotti told Ravens season-ticket holders, via ESPN. “No other infractions — failed drug tests, bar fights or DUIs — nothing to me should rise to that level. I’m embarrassed to say that they were lumped together. So, I’m happy that we found ourselves comfortable taking that categorically and putting it into at the top of the list as something that is just unacceptable.”

The NFL and the Ravens were initially caught flatfooted by the Ray Rice case, with the league suspending Rice only two games and the Ravens standing by him. Only after the infamous elevator video emerged did the Ravens release Rice and the NFL reacted to the public outcry by creating new rules about dealing with domestic violence arrests.

“We did the best we can,” Bisciotti said. “I can’t say I don’t have regrets. I said back then, my regret was not cutting him. My regret was not demanding to see the video. I believe we could’ve gotten it. If we had seen the video back in the spring, I think we would have a different circumstance. We would’ve released him. We should have seen the video in May and not in September.”

Bisciotti says the Ravens now take players with domestic violence incidents in their past off their draft board, and avoid signing such players in free agency.

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Titans restructure contract of tight end Craig Stevens

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The Tennessee Titans and tight end Craig Stevens have agreed to a restructured contract for the 2015 season.

According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, Stevens agreed to re-do the final year of his deal that was set to be worth $3.5 million.

The new deal will drop his salary closer to the $1.6 million he made with the team in 2014. Without a new deal, Stevens could have become a salary cap casualty.

Stevens has spent seven seasons with the Titans. He appeared in just five games last season before a thigh injury sent him to injured reserve and ended his season.

Stevens has appeared in 93 games with 48 catches for 603 yards and four touchdowns for Tennessee.

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Carson stadium would generate millions of dollars, create thousands of jobs

AP I MEX Mexico Money Found AP

The teams that hope to build an NFL stadium in Carson, California have commissioned an economic impact analysis of the project.  As expected, it would generate plenty of money — and plenty of jobs.

The Los Angeles County Development Corporation estimates that a venue shared by the Chargers and Raiders would create more than 16,000 jobs for the construction, and more than 13,000 jobs for all ongoing stadium-related activity.

The study also estimates that construction would generate $1.1 billion in local labor income and $118 million in state and local taxes.  The study estimates that, with two teams playing there, the stadium would generate $609 million per year in local labor income, and $60 million in state and local taxes.

The numbers aren’t surprising; the NFL has become a gigantic business operation, and a two-team stadium undoubtedly would churn out the cash.  The simple reality is that the proposed stadium in Inglewood, California likely would have a similar impact, if two NFL teams play there.

And so the question remains which stadium can win the race to get the appropriate clearances to break ground?  While the economic impact study doesn’t answer that question, it makes it even more clear that a return to L.A. by the NFL is closer than it’s ever been.

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Eddie LeBaron dies at 85

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Quarterback Eddie LeBaron, who made it to the NFL despite a five-foot, seven-inch, and 160-pound frame, died Wednesday at the age of 85, according to the Sacramento Bee.

A tenth-round pick in 1950, LeBaron played for Washington in 1952 and 1953, and from 1955 through 1959.  He went to Canada in 1954, and he finished his career with the Cowboys from 1960 through 1963.

Between being drafted and debuting in the NFL, LeBaron earned a Bronze Star in the Korean War.  He also was wounded twice in battle.

A member of the Washington Ring of Fame, LeBaron made it to three Pro Bowls in D.C., and another in Dallas.   He was the league’s rookie of the year in 1952.

After his playing career, LeBaron worked as a broadcaster with CBS.  He later became the G.M. of the Atlanta Falcons, and later and executive vice president with the franchise.  He was named the NFL’s executive of the year in 1980.

LeBaron also worked as a lawyer, obtaining his law degree in 1959.

He’s survived by his wife, Doralee.  Married 61 years, they have three sons and five grandchildren.

We extend our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

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Top tight end Maxx Williams won’t attend the draft

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The top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, have both said they don’t plan to attend the festivities in Chicago. Now the top tight end is opting out as well.

Maxx Williams, regarded by many as the best tight end in the 2015 draft class, told KARE 11 that he intends to spend the weekend with his family instead of going to the draft.

Not every top prospect is skipping the event. West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, a likely Top 10 pick, confirmed that he will be there. But in recent years, all the top picks have been there in person. That won’t be the case this year.

Officially, the NFL says each player can decide for himself whether to attend the draft. But the league might quietly ask players who say they’re not going to reconsider. The draft is the NFL’s biggest offseason event, and the league wants to use it to market its new stars. That’s harder to do when those new stars choose to stay home.

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Steve Bisciotti possibly commits tampering by saying Haloti Ngata could return in 2016

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Nose tackle Haloti Ngata spent nine seasons playing for the Baltimore Ravens and owner Steve Bisciotti said Wednesday that he doesn’t rule out the possibility of Ngata returning to Baltimore in 2016.

However, there’s a problem with that statement because Ngata is now a member of the Detroit Lions.

Bisciotti commenting on having interest in another team’s player is the definition of tampering.

The Lions elected not to pursue tampering charges against the Miami Dolphins for their pursuit of Ndamukong Suh at the start of free agency and they may elect not to pursue it again in this instance. It is a difficult matter to police anyway.

But Bisciotti surely appears to have committed tampering in this instance. He can certainly have a desire to reunite with Ngata in the future. He just can’t express that thought publicly with Ngata in a Lions uniform.

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Bisciotti: Ravens working on extension with Marshal Yanda

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Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said Wednesday the team is currently working on a contract extension for guard Marshal Yanda.

Yanda has been one of the best guards in the leagues over the last few seasons. He was made the Pro Bowl in four straight seasons and was name a first-team All-Pro for the first time in 2014.

Yanda is about to enter the final year of his contract with the Ravens with $5.5 million due in base salary.

Yanda has started 78 of a possible 80 games for the Ravens over the past five seasons. Yanda even started the final three games of the regular season and Baltimore’s playoff victory over Cincinnati at right tackle.

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Fourth defendant pleads guilty in Sean Taylor murder case

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The fourth of five defendants charged in the 2007 murder of Sean Taylor has pleaded guilty.

Charles Wardlow entered his guilty plea in a courtroom in Miami today and was immediately sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Four down, one to go,” Taylor’s father, Pedro Taylor, told the Miami Herald after the sentencing.

Eric Rivera, who pulled the trigger on the shot that fatally wounded Taylor, was convicted last year. Rivera, who was 17 at the time he killed Taylor, was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Jason Mitchell, whom prosecutors say organized the planned burglary of Taylor’s home, was also convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison. Venjah Hunte pleaded guilty years ago and agreed to testify against the others. He got 29 years in prison.

The fifth defendant, Timmy Brown, is still awaiting trial.

Taylor was a star player for the Miami Hurricanes and Washington’s first-round draft pick in 2004, becoming a Pro Bowl safety in his third season. Today would have been Taylor’s 32nd birthday.

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Vikings sign Mike Kafka, Caesar Rayford

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The Minnesota Vikings have signed quarterback Mike Kafka and defensive end Caesar Rayford.

Kafka’s agent, Mike McCartney, announced his signing with Minnesota while Rayford made his own announcement via his facebook page.

Both players took part in the NFL veteran combine in Arizona.

Kafka spent the 2014 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the third-string quarterback behind Josh McCown and Mike Glennon. Kafka has not appeared in a regular season game since 2011 when he played sparingly in four games for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rayford was traded from Indianapolis to Dallas in 2013 after a standout preseason with the Colts. Rayford appeared in seven games for the Cowboys and recorded five tackles. He spent the 2014 split between playing in the CFL and the Arena League.

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Seahawks re-sign Will Tukuafu, Jesse Williams

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The Seattle Seahawks re-signed fullback Will Tukuafu and defensive tackle Jesse Williams on Wednesday.

Tukuafu was an unrestricted free agent following last season while Williams had been released in a salary related move in March.

Tukuafu was signed by Seattle during the season after Derrick Coleman broke a bone in his foot in pre-game warmups in St. Louis in October. He appeared in nine games for Seattle while playing both fullback and some defensive tackle as well.

Williams was a fifth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2013 but has missed the last two seasons due to knee injuries. Williams has only appeared in two preseason games in his two years with the team.

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Bengals unveil April Fool’s gag that takes shot at Browns

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Sam Wyche probably got a kick out of this one.

On April Fool’s Day, the Cincinnati Bengals introduced a new logo and helmet. And the new logo and helmet are no different than the old logo.

Making the non-change change even more brilliant is the strong likelihood that the Bengals were taking a shot at the Browns, who recently pulled the sheet off a new helmet and logo that looked not much different than their prior helmet and logo.

So well played, Bengals. Well played.

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Dwight Lowery visited with Colts

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The Colts re-signed safety Mike Adams, but they’re still in the market for more help at the position and had a veteran option in for a visit.

Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that veteran safety Dwight Lowery met with the team. Lowery played for the Falcons last year, but should be familiar to several members of the Colts organization after playing for the Jets and Jaguars during the first six years of his career.

Lowery made 15 starts while playing in every game for the Falcons last season and finished the year with 79 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a sack. He was also a starter during his three years with Jacksonville, although injuries limited him to 12 games during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

With Adams back in the fold, Lowery would likely compete to take over next to him with LaRon Landry and Sergio Brown both moving on from Indianapolis.

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Jamari Lattimore signs with Jets

Matthew Stafford, Jamari Lattimore AP

The Jets have added another player to their linebacking corps.

They announced the signing of former Packer Jamari Lattimore on Wednesday. Lattimore visited with the team last month.

Lattimore made the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and spent the last four years playing mostly on special teams and as a reserve in Green Bay. He did make five starts at inside linebacker last season, although the Jets will likely keep him as a depth option as long as David Harris and Demario Davis, their starters on the inside, are healthy.

Lattimore is the third Packers inside linebacker from last season to wind up with a new team this offseason. A.J. Hawk signed with the Bengals and Brad Jones landed in Philly after getting released by Green Bay.

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