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Bills fear Jets will take Ryan Nassib

AP

If Bills coach Doug Marrone loves his old Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib as much as everyone says, then it would make sense for Buffalo to pick Nassib with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft. But no one else seems to love Nassib as much as Marrone does, which might suggest that the Bills could trade down from No. 8 and get Nassib late in the first round, or even take Nassib with their second-round pick.

The problem, however, is that the Bills are worried that a team in their own division may quietly love Nassib just as much as they do.

That team is the Jets: According to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN, Buffalo believes the Jets are seriously interested in Nassib, and the Bills fear that if they don’t draft Nassib, they might end up facing him twice a year.

The Jets pick three times before the Bills’ second selection, No. 41 overall: The Jets own the No. 9 pick, the No. 13 pick and the No. 39 pick. So if the Jets do like Nassib, any hope the Bills have of taking him in the second round goes out the window.

We’ve also heard the Bills fear that the Jaguars are interested in taking Nassib with the first pick of the second round, No. 33 overall. So even if the Jets’ interest is a smokescreen, the Bills may not be able to wait until the second round to get their man.

In other words, if Buffalo really wants Nassib, it needs to spend the No. 8 overall pick on him. Or at least that’s what other teams want the Bills to think.

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Dak Prescott works with Tom Shaw in readying for season

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While his teammates were vacationing, Dak Prescott was hard at work in Orlando. He has spent his off time training with renowned athletic performance trainer Tom Shaw at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The quarterback finished up his extra work with Shaw on Thursday and headed home as the Cowboys report for physicals Friday.

“He is serious about improving all aspects of his game – and I mean all of it,” Shaw said, via Walt Disney World Sports Public Relations. “He works on the non-football stuff – the conditioning, the core strength work, the weight room strength work, and he attacks the on-field work that’s necessary to become a great player in the NFL. This guy is a worker.”

Prescott began working with Shaw, a former strength and conditioning coach for the Patriots and Saints, before the 2016 draft. The Cowboys made Prescott a fourth-round draft pick, and he won offensive rookie of the year honors after posting a 13-3 record.

“I think he’s the best,” Prescott said of Shaw. “He’s my guy. He tells you exactly what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear. He is honest with all the guys which I greatly appreciate. I came here to Disney to train because I wanted to be in the best possible condition when I go back to my team. I wanted to get that good sweat in down here in Florida to make sure that from a conditioning standpoint, I’m ready to go when my team heads to training camp in California.”

Prescott didn’t show many weaknesses last season after passing for 23 touchdowns and four interceptions, but according to him, he has some. So this offseason, as defensive coordinators worked to take way Prescott’s strengths, Prescott worked to improve his weaknesses.

“Coach Shaw talks to us all the time about turning your weaknesses into strengths, so that’s what I’ve been focusing on during the majority of the spring,” Prescott said. “As an NFL quarterback, there is always some aspect of your game — accuracy, footwork, strength — something you can always work on to improve, so that’s been my focus.”

Shaw raved about Prescott’s work ethic, believing that is what will separate the former Mississippi State star in the NFL.

“This guy has a chance to be an elite quarterback in the NFL,” Shaw said. “The game is important to him. He wants to improve, and he works at it. That’s the way you improve in the NFL: You have to work at it, and that’s what Dak does.”

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Tony Romo on Ezekiel Elliott: He’s going to figure it out and be fine

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Ezekiel Elliott has made the headlines several times for the wrong reasons in his brief career. But former teammate Tony Romo said adjusting to the spotlight that comes with playing in the NFL takes time, and insists the star running back will “figure it out and be fine.”

“Zeke, he’s a friend,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I know that he’s a good kid. He’s just trying to find his way. He’s in a position that he’s always going to be in a spot where people are going to take a photo, they’re going to talk about him. We all get these little times in our career where you can go two different directions. He’s figuring it out. He’s obviously made some choices he’ll reflect back and wish he done a little different. But at the same time, just not a whole lot of people are really thrust into this spotlight, this soon, at that age. Really, even in the National Football League there’s only a few of them. I always want to give people a little grace period and a little time. The fact the I know him and I know his personality and how much good he does off the field, how good he is with people, I think he’s going to figure it out and be fine. But like we say, you always got to take responsibility and try to improve in all facets of life.”

Dallas police suspended an investigation into a Sunday night altercation involving Elliott after the alleged victim failed to respond to multiple attempts to contact him and no witnesses came forward. But Elliott also remains under investigation by the NFL for allegations of domestic violence made against him by a former girlfriend a year ago; he is appealing a misdemeanor conviction for speeding after a state trooper clocked his 2016 Dodge Charger traveling 100 mph; he exposed a woman’s breasts during a St. Patrick’s Day parade; and he visited a marijuana dispensary in Seattle last preseason.

Coach Jason Garrett offered support to Elliott on Wednesday, saying, “Zeke’s someone we believe very strongly in as a person and as a football player, and we’re going to continue to believe in him and try to put a structure around him and all of our players to help them make great decisions and grow – grow on and off the field.”

The Cowboys’ veterans report to The Star for physicals on Friday. The team leaves for Oxnard, Calif., on Saturday.

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Ravens make several roster moves

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The Ravens made several moves Thursday.

They waived defensive back Daniel Henry with an injury designation, and placed offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor on the non-football injury list.

The Ravens also placed receiver Aaron Bailey and defensive end Patrick Ricard on the physically unable to perform list.

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Chiefs sign Patrick Mahomes

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Quarterback Patrick Mahomes won’t be missing any of his first NFL training camp due to a contract dispute.

Mahomes was one of the few unsigned 2017 draft picks left in the league until the Chiefs announced on Thursday afternoon that he has agreed to a contract with the team. Like all first-round picks, Mahomes’ contract runs four years with a team option for a fifth season.

Mahomes went to Kansas City with the 10th overall pick after the Chiefs made a trade with the Bills to move into the spot. They gave up a third-round pick and next year’s first-round selection for a player who is expected to serve as a backup to Alex Smith for at least one season before taking over as the team’s starter.

With Mahomes under contract, there are six unsigned picks left around the league. Five of them are first-round selections, including three of the top six picks, but things could start to move with Mahomes and second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky agreeing to deals in the last two days.

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Patriots release OL Chase Farris

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The Patriots released offensive lineman Chase Farris on Thursday.

Farris, 24, spent the majority of last season on the New England practice squad after first being signed to the squad on Oct. 5, 2016.

The Lions originally signed Farris as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State. Detroit released him before the start of the season, though the Lions re-signed him to the practice squad before releasing him Sept. 21, 2016.

Farris began his college career as a defensive lineman and transitioned to the offensive line following his sophomore season. He was a starter at right tackle during his senior season at Ohio State in 2015.
 

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Philip Rivers: Keenan Allen looks as good as before ACL tear

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Chargers first-round pick Mike Williams is dealing with a back injury that could leave him unavailable to the team during his rookie season and having a wideout dealing with an injury is something quarterback Philip Rivers has become overly accustomed to over the years.

In 2016, for example, Rivers played 15-plus games without having Keenan Allen in the lineup. Allen tore his ACL in the first game of the season, leaving him with just six catches for 63 yards to show for the year.

Allen, who also missed eight games with a lacerated kidney in 2015, was working on the field with the team during OTAs this spring and Rivers said he doesn’t think anyone will notice a difference in the wideout’s play.

“I really think he looks as good as he did before he got hurt,” Rivers said on The Rich Eisen Show.

A healthy Allen is a vital piece of the Chargers offensive puzzle whether Williams is healthy enough to contribute this year or not, so Rivers’ words are encouraging even if history provides reason to be skeptical that the rookie’s injury is the last one the Chargers will deal with this year.

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Jerry Jones on buying the Cowboys: It was not a pretty investment

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The Cowboys were losing $1 million a month when Jerry Jones bought them for $140 million in 1989. They now rank atop Forbes’ annual team value rankings at $4.2 billion.

Every owner these days is trying to keep up with Jones, who enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.

“The NFL was always a dream of mine, an ambition of mine, and I must say that almost within months of the time that I actually could afford to basically be involved — 29 years ago — to be involved in an ownership position, I immediately exchanged the financial security and basically put our future, put practically everything in terms of the Dallas Cowboys in buying the team,” Jones said on a Hall of Fame press conference Thursday. “It was not a pretty investment. It wasn’t one that you or anybody else would admire at the time. That was not the point. The point was what it could do. It really does show that in spite of some of the physical aspects of challenges that if you just have enough passion about things [you can be successful]. My most important thing is I don’t think I’ve worked a day since I bought the Dallas Cowboys. It has absolutely been a labor of love every morning, and I’ve [never] been more excited about the future, the future of the league, the future of the Cowboys, my future. I’m more excited today than I was maybe in ’89 when I became involved.”

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Rams sign Dan Orlovsky

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With training camp opening soon and just two quarterbacks under contract, the Rams have added a third.

Veteran backup Dan Orlovsky told SportsSpectrum.com today that he is signing with the Rams.

Orlovsky has stuck around in the NFL since the Lions took him in the fifth round of the 2005 draft. He’s had two stints in Detroit as well as stints in Houston, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. He has 12 career starts.

In Los Angeles, Orlovsky will serve as a veteran mentor to Jared Goff, last year’s first overall pick who will be the starter, and Sean Mannion, the 2015 third-round pick who will back Goff up.

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Panthers release Michael Oher

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The Panthers released offensive tackle Michael Oher with a failed physical designation Thursday.

Oher has been in concussion protocol since September. He missed the final 13 games last season. The move was not unexpected but came only days after he defended former Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman while ripping teammates.

In an Instagram post, Oher said that other than head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion and team doctor Robert Heyer, Gettleman was the only other person “who has constantly checked on my well being, my condition and state of mind in the time I’ve been suffering from my injury.”

“Guy really cares about you as a person just not the player also his [sic] always interested in how your family is as well,” Oher wrote. “Hated to hear that news but I know he’ll be fine. And for the people downstairs who are happy and had something to do with it downstairs, Karma’s a MF!!”

Oher joined the Panthers in 2015 and started all 16 regular-season games and three postseason games for a team that won an NFC Championship and made an appearance in Super Bowl 50. He signed a three-year extension with the Panthers last summer and was due to make $2.25 million this season.

The Panthers signed Matt Kalil to play left tackle this offseason and have Daryl Williams and 2017 second-round pick Taylor Moten as options on the other side of the line.

In eight NFL seasons split between Baltimore (2009-13), Tennessee (2014) and Carolina (2015-16), Oher started 110 regular-season games. He was a member of the Baltimore’s Super Bowl XLVII championship team following the 2012 season.

 

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San Diego always will hold special place in LaDainian Tomlinson’s heart

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LaDainian Tomlinson played nine seasons for the Chargers in San Diego. He now works for the Los Angeles Chargers as a special assistant to owner Dean Spanos.

Tomlinson insists he feels no conflict. He said he always will have a special place in his heart for San Diego, while trying to promote the team in Los Angeles.

“I’m going in[to the Hall of Fame] as a San Diego Charger, because that’s actually where I played,” Tomlinson said on a Pro Football Hall of Fame conference call. “I recognize that you cannot erase the history of 56 years in San Diego. I do recognize that. However, I do realize that I do work for Dean Spanos and the L.A. Chargers. There’s no conflict there. I know who I played for, but now in my retirement, I work for the L.A. Chargers, who, in my mind, they’re the Chargers. To me, it’s always been about the lightning bolt, and that’s my thoughts about a conflict and what not.”

Tomlinson earned first-ballot induction into the Hall, rushing for 13,684 yards and 145 touchdowns with most of those (12,490 yards, 138 touchdowns) coming in San Diego before closing out his career with the Jets.

Tomlinson said planning for Hall of Fame weekend, which includes a private party for each inductee, has kept him busy.

“What’s been surprising is how similar it is to planning a wedding,” Tomlinson said. “I feel like I’m getting married again. That’s actually what the process has been like.”

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Chris Johnson heading back to Cardinals

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The Cardinals have talked about getting running back David Johnson 30 touches a game this season, although there’s some doubt about whether that is a realistic goal.

Whether or not that’s the case, they may be able to get running backs with the last name Johnson 30 touches a game. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Cardinals will sign Chris Johnson to their 90-man roster.

Johnson said recently that he’d like to return to the team after spending the last two years in Arizona. He wasn’t able to complete either of those seasons on the active roster, however. Johnson hurt his leg in 2015, opening the door for the younger back to take over the lead role on offense, and had sports hernia surgery early last season.

Johnson, who ran 25 times for 95 yards before last year’s injury, joins Andre Ellington and rookie T.J. Logan as backup options in Arizona.

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Terrell Davis grateful Hall selectors didn’t hold short career against him

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Terrell Davis played only seven seasons. Kenny Easley played only seven seasons.

Both endured long waits for the Pro Football Hall of Fame after their careers ended prematurely because of injury. But both finally were rewarded for what they did in seven seasons. Easley enters the Hall of Fame after making 32 career interceptions and earning defensive player of the year honors in 1984. Davis enters after rushing for 7,607 yards and 60 touchdowns in the regular season and He another 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight playoff games. He earned league MVP honors once, offensive player of the year honors twice and Super Bowl MVP honors once.

“I think really you can kind of throw Kurt Warner in the mix a little bit as well,” Davis said on a Pro Football Hall of Fame press conference Thursday. “His position is unique. . . .Yeah, I think that’s one thing that shouldn’t really evaluated when you talk about players making it to the Hall of Fame is the length of their career. I think what I was pleased with this year was to see Kenny Easley go in and to see myself go in. To be two guys whose careers weren’t as long as a lot of guys that we’re going to be standing next to. I think the selection committee, they’re looking at impact alone and saying, ‘Hey, when this guy was healthy, when he was playing, what did he do?’ I think that’s really the only criteria is just evaluating somebody for the work that they’ve done and not something they thought, ‘Was it long enough?’ Well, I think seven, eight years is a pretty long time to play in the National Football League.”

Davis mentioned receiver Sterling Sharpe as a player whom selectors have overlooked because of Sharpe’s short career. Sharpe played seven seasons but had five 1,000-yard seasons. He led the NFL in catches three times, in yards once and in touchdowns twice.

“Certainly, Sterling Sharpe’s name should be mentioned with the Hall of Fame, and a lot of people believe before Sterling got hurt — if he didn’t get hurt, this man would have been probably one of the greatest wide receivers to have played the game, and I agree with that,” Davis said. “I’m always going to root for the guys whose careers are probably taking a knock because they didn’t play long enough, because I know how that feels. But I think things are changing, and I think mentality and the attitude toward the longevity is starting to shift a little bit and I’m happy to see that.”

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O.J. Simpson granted parole

AP

O.J. Simpson will be a free man. Eventually.

The Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners has decided, roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of a 75-minute hearing, that the Hall of Fame running back should go free after serving nine years in prison.

The decision came despite the best efforts of Simpson to sabotage his case with rambling comments that failed to reflect true contrition. But Simpson was, by all appearances, a model prisoner. And so with nine years served, Simpson will be released.

It was made clear to Simpson that his parole will come with conditions, and that any violation will result in his re-incarceration. For now, though, he’s on track to be freed, at the age of 70.

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PFT preseason power rankings No. 11: Miami Dolphins

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Five weeks into the 2016 season, it looked like the change to Adam Gase at head coach wouldn’t do anything to change the franchise’s fortunes.

They were 1-4 and a competent kicking performance from the Browns in Week Three would have had the Dolphins looking up at the rest of the league with an 0-5 record. The offense was floundering, the defense wasn’t stout enough and there was little joy in South Florida.

The next 11 weeks went a lot better. Jay Ajayi, who was left at home in Week One in a coach’s decision, ran for 204 yards and the defense stifled the Steelers in a 30-15 win that touched off a 9-1 run that lifted the Dolphins into the postseason for the first time since 2008. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s knee injury helped ensure the Dolphins’ stay in the playoffs was a short one, but the final result of the year was unquestionably positive.

Tannehill is healthy again, the other key offensive pieces remain in place and there’s reason to believe the defense will be better, all of which adds up to optimism about the direction the Dolphins are headed.

Biggest positive change: The Dolphins were outscored by 17 points overall last season, which didn’t stop coordinator Vance Joseph from landing a head coaching job but made it little surprise that defense was a primary focus this offseason.

They used five of their seven picks on defenders and picked up linebacker Lawrence Timmons, defensive end William Hayes, safety Nate Allen and safety T.J. McDonald as veteran additions. They also get safety Reshad Jones back after last year’s season-ending rotator cuff injury, so there’s reason to hope the results will be better under new coordinator Matt Burke.

Biggest negative change: There’s no one transaction or development to point to as the Dolphins held onto Jones and wide receiver Kenny Stills while left tackle Branden Albert was traded to make room for Laremy Tunsil. That leaves us with the biggest potential negative change and it could be the turn of the calendar.

The Dolphins went 8-2 in one-score games last season and the wins that followed the Week Six win over the Steelers came against many of the weaker teams that the league had to offer in 2016. Teams like the Raiders, Falcons and Chiefs are on this year’s schedule after the Rams and 49ers appeared on last year’s slate, which may set the stage for a regression even if the execution isn’t markedly different.

Coaching thermometer: As cool as a seat can get in the Miami summer. Not only did Gase take the team from 6-10 to 10-6 and into the playoffs, he also saw several moves pay off in a major way. Benching Ajayi at the start of the season looked smart while he was running for 1,272 yards in the next 15 games and his strong show of faith in Tannehill was rewarded with the quarterback’s best season.

Even missteps like shuffling Cameron Wake to a situational role wound up with a positive as Gase was able to admit he was wrong and change directions. That flexibility is important and one of many signs that the Dolphins found the right guy in Gase.

We’d like to crack a beer with … Jarvis Landry. Landry made the boldest statement of the Dolphins offseason when he said they’ll beat the Patriots twice in 2017. We’d like to follow up on that and hear about his desire for a new contract after catching 288 passes in his first three seasons.

How they can prove us wrong: Landry is probably going to have to be right about the results of those games with the Patriots for this ranking to be ridiculously low come the end of the year.

It could look too high if Center Mike Pouncey’s ongoing hip issues lead to more missed time and more shuffling on an offensive line that hasn’t been good enough, Ajayi can’t find the heights of his three games of more than 200 rushing yards and the defensive changes don’t lead to better results with cornerback looming as a potential trouble spot again this year.

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Trai Turner’s deal is for four years, $45 million

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The contract extension announced by Panthers right guard Trai Turner today will pay him $45 million over the next four years.

A league source tells PFT the $11.25 million a year contract includes $20.5 million guaranteed. Turner will receive a $15 million signing bonus.

The 24-year-old Turner is now scheduled to hit free agency after the 2020 season, when he’ll be 28 years old. Turner has started all 16 games and been chosen to the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons. If he keeps playing that way, he’ll be due for another big contract within four years.

Turner is represented by Drew Rosenhaus, who also represents Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who may be next to work out a new deal with the team.

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