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No complaints from NFL about preseason today

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From time to time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talks openly about the poor quality of preseason football.

There were no such complaints today.

Today was the day the NFL announced the 2013 preseason schedule, with multiple press releases and/or tweets from teams and the league all landing at roughly 4:00 p.m. ET.  The first tangible evidence that football eventually will return (other than the Hall of Fame game, which was announced two weeks ago) created a real buzz — even though the games in question won’t.

And that’s further proof of the behemoth the NFL has become.  Fans can gripe about paying full value for meaningless games, and yet the announcement of the who, where, and when for 64 of them gets people excited.

As a result, there’s no way the NFL will get rid of any portion of the preseason, absent a way to not only capture the lost revenue but also expand it.  Many still believe that, once the game has been made as safe as it reasonably can be made, the arguments will resurface for replacement two weeks of fake games with two weeks of real games.

And if the argument that the two extra weeks of the regular season never will be accepted by the players, look for the postseason to expand or for the NFL to embrace an outside-the-box approach that would require each team to play 18 games but limit each player’s annual participation to 16.

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Report: Greg Olson to Rams as quarterbacks coach

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 04:  Offensive coordinator Greg Olson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talks with the quarterbacks against the Houston Texans during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on September 4, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) Getty Images

Greg Olson has been linked to the Bills offensive coordinator job recently and was slated for a Thursday interview with the team, but it seems he may not need to stock up on parkas and earmuffs.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Olson will pass on the chance to be considered for a job in Buffalo in favor of joining Rams coach Sean McVay’s staff. The Rams have not hired an offensive coordinator, but, per Schefter, Olson will be the team’s quarterbacks coach.

It’s a role that Olson has filled for several teams during his NFL career, most recently with the Jaguars in 2012. The job figures to be a significant one with the Rams as they try to develop 2016 first overall pick Jared Goff into the franchise quarterback that they hoped to acquire in last year’s trade with the Titans for the top pick.

Olson returned Jacksonville as the offensive coordinator last year and was fired during the 2016 season. He had a stint as the coordinator for the Rams as well, although it came in 2006-07 when the team still called St. Louis home.

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LeGarrette Blount won’t talk about differences between Steelers and Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  LeGarrette Blount #29 of the New England Patriots runs the ball in the second half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s decision to stream video from the team’s locker room after they beat the Chiefs has drawn a lot of reactions around the football world.

The Patriots were included in the comments from coach Mike Tomlin that were captured by Brown’s camera and they have been included in the reaction as well. Wide receiver Julian Edelman said “that’s how that team is run,” which elicited a reaction from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Running back LeGarrette Blount has played for both teams and he got asked a question about differences between the way the two teams operate on Wednesday. His response of “next question” made it clear that he wasn’t going to delve into those waters. He did say that facing the Steelers, who released him after 11 games of limited production in 2014.

“No. I’m just going to go out there and play just like I play everybody else. It’s more about us than them,” Blount said, via ESPN.com.

Blount has played the Steelers twice since returning to the Patriots later in the 2014 season, so any hard feelings that might have existed have had a chance to work themselves out his system.

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Aaron Rodgers preparing for a loud environment in Atlanta

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 30:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls a play against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 30, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Falcons prepare to host their last game at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is preparing for it to be loud.

Rodgers said today that the Packers are preparing their snap counts with the idea that Falcons fans are going to make it hard for his teammates to hear him call signals at the line of scrimmage.

“Everything we do on the field cadence-wise, in a loud environment, we work on in practice,” Rodgers said. “We have crowd noise and music in practice. You like to switch it up and make it difficult on them in practice to see how they would respond in a game situation.”

Rodgers is the best quarterback in football at using snap counts to catch the defense out of position, offside or with too many players on the field, and then throwing deep to take advantage of a free play. That may be more difficult in a loud stadium, but Rodgers will be ready for the noise on Sunday.

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Vance Joseph plans to have an up-tempo, attacking offense

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 12:  Denver Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis, Vance Josepf and General Manager John Elway pose for the media during a press conference to introduce Vance Josepf as the new head coach at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on January 12, 2017 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, who got the job due to his work as a defensive coach, knows that he’ll need to get more out of his new team’s offense. Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live, Joseph explained his plans for doing that.

“I want our offense to be able to score points,” Joseph said. “I want us to be up-tempo and put pressure on defenses. Sometimes when you have a great defense intact you kind of lean to the defense too much and you kind of get spoiled when things go bad, let the defense have it. I don’t want that, I want an offense who wants the responsibility of winning games and scoring points.

“So I want to be attacking, I want to be innovative, I want to play fast with tempo. I want to attack defenses, Mike, and that’s the way I kind of envision our offense being along with a dominant defense. If you can get both of those things going now you’re hard to beat every Sunday.”

The defense will indeed remain dominant, in Joseph’s assessment. Though he was disappointed in the decision of one of his “football fathers” to leave for the Rams, Joseph hopes the defense will improve with Joe Woods replacing Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator.

“This defense should not take a step back it should take a step forward,” Joseph said, adding that the team will use the same system and approach. “I can’t guarantee that it’s going to be exactly the same but the foundation won’t change because the players like doing what we’re doing here and they’ve been successful at it. So the foundation won’t change. Now can we add some different tweaks in coverage and front and pressure stuff, absolutely. But most teams every year do the same thing. So it’s going to be the same attacking defensive style you saw from Wade.”

It adds up to high expectations for 2017.

“Since Mr. Bowlen bought this team it’s been one goal, to win championships,” Joseph said. “But that being said no one’s going to give you the wins that put you in the playoffs. So it always starts with going to work, OTAs, training camp, winning your division, those things won’t change. Every year teams change but those things won’t change so for us to go and obtain those goals every year it starts with work. It starts with OTAs, with training camp. It starts with winning your division so those steps won’t get skipped. We understand that and at the end of the day we’re going to work hard and pick our heads up and see where we are.”

Where they very well may be a year from now is getting ready for the AFC title game, which they won a year ago en route to a Super Bowl championship.

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Davante Adams won’t practice until late in the week

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers catches a pass during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his injured wide receiver wouldn’t practice until Saturday, seeming to know it was unlikely he’d play.

So the fact he set the same timetable for another injured wide receiver isn’t a good sign.

Via Jason Wilde of ESPN.com, McCarthy said Davante Adams‘ left ankle injury was sufficiently worrisome that they’d hold him out until the end of the week.

“Curious to see him move,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think he’ll practice until Saturday.”

That’s the same early prognosis he set for Jordy Nelson last week after Nelson suffered broken ribs in the Wild Card win over the Giants. But Nelson didn’t make it to Saturday, as he was ruled out the Friday before the Divisional Round win over the Cowboys.

Adams was able to come back and play Sunday, but his absence would further deplete a receiving corps short on options. He started last week. Nelson’s not practicing today either, and getting him back on the field this week still seems like a long-shot.

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Bills hire Kelly Skipper as running backs coach

OAKLAND, CA - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Kelly Skipper of the Oakland Raiders poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)

The Bills on Wednesday announced the hiring of Kelly Skipper as their new running backs coach.

Skipper held the same job the last two seasons with the Jaguars. Prior to that he coached in the college ranks and spent eight seasons with the Raiders.

Skipper becomes the third assistant officially hired since the Bills introduced Sean McDermott as their new head coach last week.

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Bill Belichick on home field advantage helping: Go ask Dallas and Kansas City

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Bill Belichick head coach of the New England Patriots greets Bill O'Brien head coach ofthe Houston Texans after the Patriots defeated theTexans 34-16 in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots finished with the top seed in the AFC playoffs, which assured they wouldn’t have to play games anywhere other than Gillette Stadium in order to make it to Houston for the Super Bowl.

That’s seen as significant accomplishment for teams and a boost to their chances of advancing out of the conference. Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t overly convinced about that being the case, however.

Belichick was asked at Wednesday’s press conference about how much help the team gets from playing at home and noted that two teams who were at home last weekend aren’t playing this time around.

“I don’t know,” Belichick said. “Go ask Dallas and Kansas City … the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games — the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night.”

The Patriots have played in 10 conference title games under Belichick. They are 4-1 at home and 2-3 on the road in those games, so history would say that being at home gives them a bit of a boost.

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Louis Riddick out, 49ers G.M. list reportedly down to four

San Diego Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The 49ers are narrowing their search for a new General Manager, and it appears the list is down to four.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the team has informed a number of candidates they were no longer in the mix, leaving four possibilities among the previously reported candidates to work with new coach Kyle Shanahan.

They’re seeking second interviews with Green Bay executives Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, along with Minnesota assistant G.M. George Paton, with Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough still a possibility as well.

ESPN analyst Louis Riddick is among the candidates no longer under consideration, though he was thought to be linked to their pursuit of Josh McDaniels as head coach.

“The 49ers pared down its list of general manager candidates Tuesday morning and thanked those who will not be included in the second round of interviews,” 49ers spokeman Bob Lange said in a statement. “Upcoming interviews will be announced as they were in the first round.”

Other personnel men who have been told they won’t get a second interview include Jimmy Raye III of the Colts, Seattle’s Scott Fitterer, and Panthers assistant G.M. Brandon Beane. Seahawks exec Trent Kirchner had previously pulled his name from consideration.

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Falcons owner Arthur Blank admits Kyle Shanahan is “a big loss”

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:  Atlanta Falcons Owner Arthur Blank stands on the field prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons spent the year nailing opponents with their offense. So it stands to reason they might lose the manager of the hardware department.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank admitted it would be difficult for his team to lose offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, but understands it’s also the cost of running the league’s highest-scoring offense.

“Well, I think Kyle would be a big loss,” Blank told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “But great coaches and great teams, that’s what happens in the National Football League, unlike when I was running [Home Depot]. When we had somebody who was ready to run a large division, it wasn’t a problem. You’d take [him] and move him out of his division and give him his own division. In the NFL, you only have one NFL team. And unless we’re going to put Kyle in charge of our soccer team — and we already have a good coach there — that’s it. We only have one great football coach.

“Great coaches like Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells in the past, Coach [Joe] Gibbs and Andy Reid — and the list goes on and on — are great NFL coaches who have produced over time, and they lose their coordinators. Same with Mike Tomlin.”

Of course, there’s still business to attend to, and the 49ers can’t officially hire Shanahan until the Falcons are finished playing this season. But he could sit for a second interview/first date with his prospective General Manager next week even if the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl.

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Morgan Cox added to AFC Pro Bowl team

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03:  Morgan Cox #46 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after the Ravens won 34-31 against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Getty Images

There have been a fair number of players added to the Pro Bowl rosters the last couple of weeks as players have dropped out, but the latest addition to the AFC team didn’t come with a corresponding departure.

The Ravens announced that long snapper Morgan Cox has been named to the team by Chiefs coach Andy Reid as a need pick. Long snappers are not voted onto the team like players at other positions and this marks the second year in a row that Reid has tabbed Cox to do the snapping.

Cox will be joining three other Ravens at the game in Orlando. Kicker Justin Tucker, fullback Kyle Juszcyzk and linebacker C.J. Mosley will also be participating. Guard Marshal Yanda was elected to the team, but will not play due to a shoulder injury.

Cox has been the long snapper for the Ravens since the 2010 season and has played in all but 10 games over that span.

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As 49ers candidates fled, Kyle Shanahan won big

Kyle Shanahan AP

Not long ago, the interest of Kyle Shanahan in the head-coaching job in San Francisco was lukewarm at best. It has heated up considerably this week.

Shanahan’s spike in interest in the job resulted from the lack of interest that multiple others had, either in coaching the team or in taking the G.M. job.

It began with Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard. Regarded as the team’s first, second, and third choice for the job, Ballard wasn’t interested. He asked the team to deny the request for permission to interview him for the job, apparently in order to avoid the impression that he generally isn’t interested in an opportunity for advancement.

Next came Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, who didn’t want the job, either. Other candidates for the G.M. job either declined an invitation to interview or withdrew after interviewing.

The decision of Ballard and Caserio to pass on the job apparently contributed to the shift in agenda from hiring a G.M. first to hiring a coach and G.M. who will work together well. As potential members of a tag team began to bow out (starting most prominently with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels), that plan changed as well. When Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable withdrew, it left Shanahan as the only candidate.

Shanahan will benefit from that situation, significantly. He’s expected to be the highest-paid first time head coach in league history, and he’s expected to have final say over the roster and the draft. Next, he’ll be directly involved in the General Manager, which makes Shanahan the clear-cut captain of the S.S. 49er.

So how did it get to this point? Despite the widespread popular belief that the 49ers are currently the most dysfunctional team in football, the thinking in league circles is that, with some tweaks, the G.M. and coaching jobs could be desirable. The impediment to attracting their preferred candidates isn’t owner Jed York; apparently, it’s Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Football Operations Paraag Marathe.

Marathe is, as a practical matter, the Russ Brandon of the 49ers. The only difference is that the 49ers make no secret of Marathe’s influence over the football operations.

From his online bio: “On the team side, Marathe reports directly to 49ers CEO Jed York and has a significant role in major strategic decisions for the club as Chief Strategy Officer. He also continues in his long-respected role as the team’s chief contract negotiator and salary cap architect, while overseeing the team’s football analytics department.”

Put simply, Marathe has influence, along with the ear of ownership. He’s been there for 16 years, and he has transcended the bubble of accountability in which coaches and General Managers reside. And that’s precisely the kind of dynamic coaches and General Managers try to avoid.

Shanahan is embracing it because, as his final package will demonstrate, he leveraged the team’s desperation to his full advantage. Moving forward, however, it’s an elephant in the room that may be serving as an oversized anchor.

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Julio Jones held out of practice Wednesday

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:    Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said there was “no concern” about wide receiver Julio Jones‘ toe injury after he left last Saturday’s win over the Seahawks, but added that the wideout might be limited in practice leading up to the NFC Championship Game.

The limitations will be total on Wednesday. Quinn announced at his press conference that Jones did not practice with the team as they begin their on-field preparations for the game against the Packers. He did take part in a walkthrough, however.

Quinn said that the plan is for Jones to do more as the week unfolds, but it’s a good bet that the Falcons aren’t going to push him too hard on the practice field if there’s any fear that it would make him less effective come Sunday.

Safety Keanu Neal, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and defensive linemen Jonathan Babineaux were all limited participants for the Falcons.

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Jets hire Dennard Wilson as defensive backs coach

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Jets dispatched three defensive coaches after the end of the regular season and they’ve announced a new hire to replace one of them.

The team announced on Wednesday that Dennard Wilson will be the team’s new defensive backs coach. Joe Danna served as the defensive backs coach during Todd Bowles’ first two seasons as head coach.

Wilson spent the last five years with the Rams and was the team’s defensive backs coach for the last two seasons. He was the defensive quality control coach in his first three years with the club and served as a scout for the Bears for four years.

The Jets are still looking for a new defensive line coach and outside linebackers coach. There was a report that former Bears assistant Clint Hurtt would fill the linebackers role, but there’s been no official announcement and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reported this week that there’s “no indication” that he’ll be joining Bowles’ staff.

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NCAA needs to do more to protect college football players

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Head coach Willie Taggart of the South Florida Bulls looks on in the first half against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns tackle Joe Thomas wisely wanted to see someone fired for the Oregon offseason workout debacle. It’s not happening, unfortunately.

Instead, the adult responsible for an exercise regimen that put three players in the hospital will be suspended for one month. And that’s that.

The punishment of Irele Oderinde has been announced by the school, and head coach Willie Taggart has said all the right things (even if he didn’t do the right thing) in response to the development.

“As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first,” Taggart said in a statement that perhaps should have been followed by an explanation of the manner in which he’s being held responsible for the incident. “I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university.”

It’s easy for Taggart to support the actions taken by the university when the actions weren’t taken against him. But why shouldn’t they be? While it may not be grounds for immediate termination or resignation, Taggart surely hopes to improve the performance of the team. In order to do that in September, the players need to be in great physical shape. He directly benefits from those efforts.

Mentally, the players also need to know that there’s a new sheriff in town, a new way of doing things. A break from the means and methods of the past. And there’s no better way to get their attention than to mimic Kurt-Russell-in-Miracle and go again and again and again and again until they realize they’re working (without pay) for a different boss.

The NCAA needs to intervene, providing real punishment when player health and safety is undermined and providing a reliable mechanism for players to register complaints about practice and workout abuses. The players have no protection; the NCAA needs to provide it.

If the NCAA can’t or won’t, someone else needs to step up and provide assistance and support for college football players who know misconduct is occurring but who have no way to efficiently have their concerns addressed without getting on the wrong side of the head coach.

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Browns, Jaguars, 49ers carrying over most money into 2017 cap

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

When teams don’t spend the maximum amount allowed under the salary cap, NFL rules allow them to carry over unspent money and apply it to the next year’s cap.

The NFLPA announced the amounts of money each team will be carrying over into the 2017 season on Wednesday. The Browns rank at the top of the list.

Cleveland tore down their roster in 2016 and that left them with $50,123,269 in money to bring with them into the 2017 offseason. They also have two first-round picks, including the first overall pick, to use as they continue their long-lasting attempt to build a winning team.

Two other teams that finished near the bottom of the pack are next on the list. The Jaguars, owners of the No. 4 pick in the first round, will have over $39.3 million to add to their cap space while the 49ers, who have the second overall pick, have $38.7 million at their disposal.

The Chargers carry over the least money at just over $113,000 and the Rams, Jets, Vikings and Falcons are the other teams bringing less than $1 million with them into next year’s cap. The NFL told teams that the cap will rise $8-10 million from this year’s $155 million total, although official numbers won’t be set until closer to the start of the next league year.

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