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Report: Raiders talking to Holmgren about “leadership role”

AP

We haven’t heard too much from Mike Holmgren since he rode his Harley off into the Ohio sunset, but that could be changing.

According to ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson, Holmgren is talking to the Raiders about a “possible leadership role.”

Given the reports of his possible interest in a job with only the Cowboys (a rumor that was planted, nurtured, then denied), and then a broadened scope, it’s no surprise to hear his name linked.

The Raiders just hired former Holmgren co-worker Reggie McKenzie as general manager a year ago, though they have explored the possibility of adding to their front office, including recent talks with league exec Ray Anderson.

Holmgren said recently it would be a “big surprise” for him to return to coaching, but he didn’t say a return in any capacity wasn’t happening, and his Bay Area ties make it worth considering.

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Report: George Paton turns down Chiefs G.M. interview

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After being considered for a couple other G.M. jobs, Vikings Assistant General Manager George Paton has decided not to interview for another.

Paton declined an interview for the Chiefs G.M. vacancy, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

The Colts and 49ers both considered Paton for their G.M. vacancies in January, so his name has been bandied about a lot in the NFL this offseason. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a G.M. job next year.

But this year, he’ll remain in Minnesota, and the Chiefs will keep looking, with no word yet on who the strongest candidates are.

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Michael Floyd heads back to court on Monday

AP

As soon as today, Vikings receiver Michael Floyd will find out whether he’ll be sent back to jail and/or otherwise punished for testing positive for alcohol while on house arrest due to, Floyd claims, drinking apparently copious amounts of kombucha tea.

The court hearing, scheduled for Monday in Arizona, has been enhanced by the Vikings’ decision to send a letter supporting Floyd’s belief that kombucha tea doesn’t contain alcohol. It’s not all that implausible to think Floyd truly wasn’t aware that the beverage contains a certain amount of booze, given that he was subject to periodic, unannounced dates with an in-home breath-testing machine.

Arizona doesn’t screw around with DUI offenses; Floyd admitted to extreme DUI, which included a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.217 percent, well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Many jurisdictions view house arrest as a privilege. For Floyd, that privilege was extended to a decision to let him complete the sentence in Minnesota, so that he could attend offseason workouts with the Vikings.

Much of the outcome will depend on the judge’s attitude toward deviations from the terms of house arrest in DUI cases, along with an assessment of whether Floyd is telling the truth. The magnitude of his BAC — 0.055 percent — will make it easier for the judge to conclude that Floyd was simply rolling the dice and hoping he wouldn’t be tested, perhaps with the kombucha tea defense tucked into his back pocket.

Regardless, an answer as to whether Floyd will get a pass or a trip back to prison could come by the time Tuesday arrives.

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Le’Veon Bell looks healthy on basketball court

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Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had core muscle surgery in March and it looks like his recovery is moving along well.

Bell shared a video (the language in the video isn’t safe for most workplaces) of his participations in a basketball game on Sunday and it shows him moving well as he knifes through the lane for a couple of layups. Two snippets of action on video don’t make for a sound medical analysis, obviously, but it would seem that Bell is well on his way to a full recovery.

That could come at the start of training camp, although Bell’s health wasn’t the only thing keeping him off the field during the Steelers’ offseason workouts this year. Bell has not signed his franchise tender and has not agreed to a long-term contract, so he did not join the team for that work.

Bell and the Steelers have until July 17 to work out a longer deal and it will be up to Bell to decide about making an on-time arrival to camp if one doesn’t come to fruition. If he does decide to show up, the glimpse of his basketball moves suggests he’ll be ready for football action as well.

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OTT may not be the future of the NFL, for much of the country

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‘Member when getting online consisted of hearing the dial tone, the rapid succession of the numbers being punched up by the modem, and the inevitable screeching and squawking until silence returned and the slow wait commenced for the images to gradually appear and the speakers to proclaim, “You’ve got mail”? For many, it’s not a memory.

So as the NFL plots a future of game-content delivery that consists of OTT services that rely on the high-speed Internet connections that many have taken for granted, it’s important to keep in mind the reality that millions are still living in AOLworld. Consider this June 15 article from the Wall Street Journal, dubbed “Rural America is Stranded in the Dial-Up Age.”

“Delivering up-to-date broadband service to distant reaches of the U.S. would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, experts estimate, an expense government, industry and consumers haven’t been willing to pay,” explains the item from Jennifer Levitz and Valerie Bauerlein. As a result, high-speed Internet access is either not available or ridiculously expensive in much of the country.

Which means that, while plenty have ditched cable or satellite TV for devices that deliver the images and sound just as quickly and reliably, plenty of people continue to be limited to the traditional means of receiving and digesting TV programming. And that doesn’t even include the millions who live in areas that have high-speed Internet available, but who due to economic limitations rely only on the free, over-the-air signals captured by rabbit-ear antennas.

Thus, while it’s a major part of the NFL’s future when it comes to Internet users who opt out of cable and satellite, OTT can’t be a replacement for those who don’t have that luxury.

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Jamal Adams draws “unbelievable” review for offseason work

AP

The offseason has not been filled with positive stories about the Jets, but there’s at least one exception to the overall tone around the team heading into the 2017 season.

Safety Jamal Adams was the team’s first-round pick in April and he was ticketed for the starting lineup even before Calvin Pryor was dealt to the Browns for linebacker Demario Davis. Coach Todd Bowles has called Adams “very instinctive” while mostly sticking to coachspeak about the rookie, but cornerback Morris Claiborne has been more effusive about what he’s seen from Adams in his first practices as a pro.

“The things he has done so far? He’s unbelievable,” Claiborne said, via NJ.com. “He’s been out here playing lights out. Picking up the defense, checking to different things, knowing what he wants to check to. He’s having fun doing it, too. His spirit is awesome. He’s having fun doing what he knows how to do, and that’s football. I can’t be more impressed with a young guy coming into the league, and, especially playing on that backend, doing the things he’s done so far.”

It will take more than hitting on one safety for the Jets’ rebuild to be a success, but every journey has to start somewhere. Adams making good on the hype he generated at LSU would be as good a departure point for the Jets as any.

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Monday morning one-liners

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Bills S Jordan Poyer is happy to be able to play after last year’s kidney injury.

Special teams work was a big reason why DB Michael Thomas got a new contract with the Dolphins.

A look at some of the rookies the Patriots will play against this season.

Jets CB Juston Burris has his eyes on a starting job.

The biggest competitions for roster spots at Ravens training camp.

Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick was on the same side as Antonio Brown when Brown turned out for Kirkpatrick’s football camp.

The Browns have high hopes for TE Seth DeValve.

Steelers DL Javon Hargrave talked about what he learned during his rookie season.

The start to Wes Welker’s coaching career with the Texans has gone well.

Former Colts LB Robert Mathis shared his thoughts on Pacers star Paul George’s possible departure.

Can Cam Robinson handle playing guard for the Jaguars during his rookie season?

Titans WR Harry Douglas likes what he’s seen from the team’s rookie wideouts.

The Broncos’ chefs are sharing the recipes they whip up for the team.

Zach Fulton is trying to hold onto his starting guard spot with the Chiefs.

Raiders T Marshall Newhouse took in a NASCAR race at Sonoma.

The Chargers hope CB Jason Verrett is ready to go at training camp.

A look at the competition for backup tight end spots with the Cowboys.

The Giants’ only kicker isn’t a well-known player at this point.

Who will return kickoffs for the Eagles?

What is quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell working on with Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

Markus Wheaton believes people underrate the Bears wide receivers.

The Lions are expecting contributions from several running backs.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers made a winning visit to the “$100,000 Pyramid.”

LB Eric Kendricks expects the Vikings will be more successful this season.

Falcons LB Duke Riley plans to work out with Odell Beckham Jr. in the near future.

How does Panthers coach Ron Rivera measure up to his peers?

A call for the Saints to leave the door open for Peyton Manning to have a role in the organization.

Until they get on-field results, the Buccaneers won’t get much national respect.

Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu hopes his football camp inspires constructive work from the campers.

An optimistic prediction for Rams QB Jared Goff’s second season.

Is Mike Shanahan’s presence around the 49ers a good thing for the team?

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett and his brother/Packers TE Martellus Bennett were recognized for their philanthropic work.

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Mets G.M. on Tim Tebow: “We recognize this is not a usual circumstance”

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The traditional stats might not seem to merit a promotion, but the Mets are seeing things in Tim Tebow to justify moving him up a level in their minor league system.

Despite hitting .220 for the  low-A Columbia Fireflies, the Mets promoted him to high-A St. Lucie yesterday.

“His on-base, his isolated power, his swing, exit velocity. A lot of different things have been much better in the last 15 games or something like that,” Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said, via Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. “On the other hand, we recognize this is not a usual circumstance, but we just felt, everything involved, it was about the right time for him to move to high-A ball.”

Tebow has 23 RBI and three home runs, but he’s also second on the team with 14 doubles. He strikes out a lot (69 times in 214 at bats), and he’s also 29 years old.

“I think we’re pleased with the first half of the season. It’s not like he’s tearing up the league, but at the same time all the indications are positive in terms of various things we look at, chase rates, exit velocities and other things,” Alderson said. “The bottom line is the average isn’t there, but he’s improving. . . .

“There was a chance he would completely bomb in spring training, that didn’t happen. His performance there justified assignment to a full-season club. He went to Columbia. I wouldn’t say he’s excelled there, but I would say what he’s done there, given all the circumstances, justifies the promotion to St. Lucie.”

That’s just about the definition of damning with faint praise, but Tebow has continued to work on his second sport, and get high marks for his intangibles. That’s always been the case, regardless of sport.

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“Annoyed” by hearing about Antonio Brown’s work ethic, Joshua Dobbs now witnesses it

AP

Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs used to hear a lot about receiver Antonio Brown. Now Dobbs understands why.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones previously coached at Central Michigan, where Brown played college football. And Jones still points to Brown as an example of the kind of effort he’s looking for, to the point where some of his current players get sick of hearing about it.

“I heard a lot of talk about him from Coach Jones,” Dobbs said during a Sunday night visit to NewsChannel5 in Nashville, “and you almost got annoyed to the point of talking about his work ethic. But then when you get to camp and you see the attention that he puts into each and every rep, how hard he works, and then the amount of hours that he puts into his craft outside of the complex, you definitely see where the coaches were coming from and the point they were trying to make.”

And so the guy who made the most out of his free education in Tennessee (graduating with a degree in mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering) is already getting the most out of his paid education in Pittsburgh, where he quickly learned one other important lesson during the Stanley Cup Final: He ditched the Nashville Predators sweater for a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater.

“I am guilty,” Dobbs said.

If he hopes to win hearts and minds in Pittsburgh, he’s not being guilty. He’s just being smart.

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Charcandrick West raves about Patrick Mahomes’ arm strength

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Chiefs running back Charcandrick West has caught some practice passes from rookie first-round quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and he’s feeling it in his hands.

West told NFL Media that it forced him to take notice when he saw how quickly the ball was getting to him when Mahomes throws it.

“Man, this kid can throw the football,” West said. “Man, I mean, I ran I think a slant route and I was like, woah. It was crazy. He’s got a cannon on him.”

Having a cannon is not something anyone would say about the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, Alex Smith. So whenever Mahomes supplants Smith, Mahomes will bring something to the table that Smith does not.

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Raiders taking pride in a new, cleaner image

AP

The Raiders have an image, and they know it. To be honest, they cultivated it for a long time, and successfully.

But as a new team prepares to move to a new city in a few years, they want to make sure the people of Las Vegas know they aren’t some marauding band of felons, descending upon their city.

As noted by Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Raiders have the longest streak in the NFL of not having a player arrested (going back to 2014).

And coupled with the programs they run for players throughout the year, they are taking pride in being something other than what they were perceived to be for years.

“The people that know the Raiders in Las Vegas, they know the Oakland Raiders, the Los Angeles Raiders, through parents, uncles and aunts,” Raiders director of player engagement Lamonte Winston said. “There was a certain persona. Well, that’s totally changed. . . . These are the new Raiders where we have educational platforms, where our guys are going back to school, where our guys are establishing businesses. We want young people in Las Vegas, student-athletes, to know that character counts with us. It really is important to us.

“Before we put the pads on and start knocking heads, (for) the men who put on those helmets, character counts. Professionalism counts. Academics count. Respect counts. That’s what we want to bring to the community.”

At the moment, it’s all on the upswing for the Raiders, with an ascending team on the field, full of likable stars who seem just plain nice. That’s not always what the Raiders have sold, but this seems to work for them now.

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Cam Jordan: Saints are ready to win Super Bowl now

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees raised eyebrows when he told PFT Live in March that his team is “very close” to getting back to the Super Bowl. One of his teammates has now taken the next step.

“We’re building a team to win a Super Bowl,” defensive end Cam Jordan tells Greg Bishop of SI.com, who guest-wrote Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column this week. “We’re not building for the future. It’s hard not to believe in our team. We’re ready to win it now.”

So how much of that is the glass-half-full optimism/delusion that litters the league in June, and how much of it is real? The Saints have put together three straight 7-9 seasons despite having an abysmal defense. If the defense improves a little, they get to the playoffs. If the defense improves a lot, they’ll be partying like it’s 2009, with the kind of record that forces the road to Minnesota through Louisiana.

The team continues to be led by a 38-year-old quarterback whose teammates still believe in him. Zealously.

“Is there a better quarterback?” Jordan said regarding Brees. “You tell me how many 5,000-yard seasons have been produced in NFL history.”

There have been nine, in the 98-year history of the league. Brees has five of them. Every other quarterback who ever has played the game combined has four.

The Saints also have Adrian Peterson, a potential secret weapon that the team hasn’t been trying very hard to keep secret. Multiple players have praised his lingering abilities. If, when paired with Brees, Peterson can perform like he has throughout his career when healthy, many who should have seen it coming will be saying “we should have seen it coming.”

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NFL uses eye-tracking technology to improve game presentation

The NFL has decided to take steps aimed at improving the TV presentation of its games, with specific focus on pace. To do that, the league actually went to the homes of fans to “replicat[e] the game experience.”

That’s what NFL COO Tod Leiweke told the second annual Geek Wire Sports Tech Conference at CenturyLink Field, via Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.

“We’re really starting to study how people are watching games,’’ Leiweke said. “And we’re doing it in really, really interesting ways.’’

Among other things, the league is using eye-tracking technology in fan homes to monitor the things they follow during the games, along with what they do during commercial breaks. The study has contributed to a decision to reduce the total number of commercial breaks from five per quarter to four.

“They want a pace of play that doesn’t involve us chopping things up,’’ Leiweke said. “[Y]ou’re going to see, next [season] really working hard to tighten up that game presentation and present the game with more of that pace.’’

It’s all part of an effort to deal with any ever-changing present that continues to raise questions about the future, given the explosion of options that consumers now have when it comes to the many different ways to spend their time — considerably more than the days when the options were to watch one of three channels on TV, read a book or a magazine, or stare off into space like David Puddy.

“Anyone who thinks they know exactly what’s going to happen is not telling you the truth,’’ Leiweke said. “Because it’s very, very hard to tell, in this rapidly changing world, what this is all going to look like in 2025.’’

It’s very, very to tell what it’s all going to look like in 2017. For those who watch NFL games, it’s apparently going to start looking a lot different.

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Report: Dorsey decision fueled by concerns over communication, management style

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Typically, the reasons for the firing of a G.M. are clear, either because the team has stunk or the organization has clumsily leaked the reasons in advance of the move. In Kansas City, it’s still not clear why the General Manager of a team that has made it to the playoffs three times in four years was dumped on the same day the head coach was extended.

According to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, concerns about communication and management styles contributed at least in part to the seemingly abrupt decision to part ways with G.M. John Dorsey.

John does stuff and doesn’t tell people why,” an unnamed source told Paylor regarding the decision to move on from a pair of executives, Trip MacCracken and Will Lewis, without much internal explanation. Another unnamed source told Paylor that Dorsey’s management style “could wear on people.”

“He’s not a big disciplinarian or big on chain of command, so people did what they wanted,” an unnamed source told Paylor.

“It’s more about his management skills,” another unnamed source told Paylor.

It’s unclear what was done to remedy the situation before taking the drastic step of firing a G.M. who had been getting the job done, or whether Dorsey had been put on notice of his deficiencies before termination became the right move for the Chiefs. The circumstances invite speculation that coach Andy Reid, who received an extension on the same day Dorsey got a pink slip, at a minimum approved of the move and at maximum wanted it. It’s also possible, however, that owner Clark Hunt simultaneously evaluated both men and decided that one should get extra additional years with the team and the other should get none.

Regardless, the termination happened so swiftly and surprisingly to people outside and inside the organization that it’s easy to wonder whether a man now accused of having a subpar management style was also the victim of substandard management practices.

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Vacation (not really) starts tomorrow

It’s vacation time here at PFT. Which means, basically, nothing.

The work never stops because the news never stops and, frankly, none of this is really work. So as I embark on a four-week mandatory vacation (that sounds so much better than “suspension”) from PFT Live, a flood of new stories will continue to be posted here every day at PFT, and new audio/video content will continue to appear on a daily basis, even if PFT Live will be on hiatus from NBCSN (thanks, Tour de France) and replacements will be handling the weekday radio show on NBC Sports Radio.

On most of the weekdays over the next four weeks I’ll be taping a podcast that will replace the daily PFT Live podcasts. The podcasts will be available on Apple Podcasts, audioBoom, and wherever else you get the PFT Live podcast.

So, basically, whether you’re working or on vacation we’re going nowhere. Which means we hope you’ll continue to park right here, multiple times per day every day.

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Should NFL hold its draft before free agency?

AP

The question was posed during Thursday night’s NBA draft in the form of a Twitter poll, and NFL fans who are typically reluctant to change embraced the idea by a 12-point margin: Hold the NFL draft before NFL free agency.

Basketball and hockey both do it. Perhaps the NFL should, too.

For veteran players, the knee-jerk reaction would be that they don’t want their looming paydays to be usurped by younger and cheaper draft picks, as teams fill needs by adding rookies in lieu of paying veterans. But what about the teams that don’t get what they want or need in the draft? At that point, a premium could be paid to add a talented veteran free agent because there’s no “screw it we’ll just draft someone” fallback.

One practical impediment to what would be a dramatic change to the offseason calendar comes from the intense time and effort devoted to the draft from the moment football season ends. With the Scouting Combine and Pro Days and team visits and private workouts, the draft couldn’t be moved up by very much if at all, thereby delaying free agency into April, and perhaps May. With offseason programs opening in April, that’s hardly ideal.

So while it’s fun to think about teams first drafting players and then signing veterans, the NFL isn’t likely to change its approach any time soon. Unless the NFL decides that there’s plenty of money to be made by turning the offseason on its head.

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