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Okoye knows he’s starting from square one

Lawrence Okoye AP

The 49ers think they have an intriguing prospect to develop in former Olympic discus thrower Lawrence Okoye.

But before they teach him how to rush a quarterback, they need to start with the basics — putting on pants.

Okoye put on a helmet and shoulder pads for the first time during a visit with the Saints, and knows he has to take his football education one leg at a time.

It was quite interesting,” he said of putting on pads for the first time, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “They’re not as heavy as I thought.”

Neither are the 49ers expectations, immediately.

The 6-foot-6, 304-pounder has all the measurables you’d ever want (4.78-second 40, 35-inch vertical), a remarkable combination of size and explosiveness. That showed when the 21-year-old set the British record in the discus two years after taking up the sport.

“Our Creator created a beautiful man,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Still, the whole never-having-played-football thing is still a thing.

But 49ers line coach Jim Tomsula, who worked in NFL Europe’s developmental program, told Okoye he had what it took to succeed. To be honest, Okoye hasn’t played that much less football than Ziggy Ansah, who was the fifth pick in the draft

“I’m not going to put any limits on myself,” he said. “Nobody would have predicted when I was 18 that I would be the British record holder and an Olympic finalist. I’m not going to sit here and put limits on myself, but I’m also not going to say that I’m going to kick [49ers defensive tackles] Justin Smith or Ray McDonald out of their positions and I’m going to get 20 sacks next year. Of course not. For me, when I get the 49ers it’s all about development. I’m going to develop every day.”

Beginning with learning how to put on a full uniform.

“Luckily, when we first get to camp we don’t have to put pads on until July,” Okoye said. “Hopefully, between now and then I’ll have some practice and will be able to do it sufficiently well so I don’t embarrass myself in the locker room.”

He’s still expected to spend the year on the practice squad — if that — but was worth a flier based on his unique physical skills. Assuming they can get him dressed, of course.

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Cowboys placing Collins on IR

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 8: Cole Beasley #11 and teammate La'el Collins #71 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate after Beasley scored a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half at AT&T Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys offensive lineman La’El Collins will be placed on injured reserve with a toe injury, PFT has confirmed.

Collins has a torn ligament in his toe. The Cowboys will place him on injured reserve knowing they could possibly bring him back in 8-10 weeks if he heals properly.

Teams can activate one player per season from the injured-reserve list.

Collins, who went undrafted in 2015 because he was linked to a murder investigation involving an ex-girlfriend, started 11 games last season at left guard and has started all three this season.

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49ers OL Anthony Davis officially retires

TAMPA, FL -  DECEMBER 15:  Tackle Anthony Davis #76 of the San Francisco 49ers sets to block against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis has informed the team that he’s retiring.

Davis had retired before last season, returned this season and had contemplated retirement before the regular season started. He suffered a concussion in practice following the season opener and isn’t planning to play again.

The team announced the news with a one-sentence statement.

A first-round pick in 2010, Davis started 71 of 72 career games at right tackle. He first retired after being limited to seven games in 2014.

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Report: Langford will miss 4-6 weeks

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25: Jeremy Langford #33 of the Chicago Bears runs in the third quarter during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears running back Jeremy Langford is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after suffering an ankle injury Sunday night vs. the Cowboys, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday night.

Bears Coach John Fox told reporters Monday that Langford had sprained his ankle but didn’t offer a timetable or many details about the injury.

Langford started the first three games of the season and ran for a touchdown in each of the first two. With Kadeem Carey out of the game with an injury, rookie Jordan Howard took over for Langford against the Cowboys.

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Julio Jones active, Kenny Vaccaro inactive on Monday night

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons scores a 21-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons listed wide receiver Julio Jones as questionable to play because of a calf injury kept him from practicing twice last week, but it won’t keep him from playing on Monday night.

As he predicted after getting in a limited practice on Saturday, Jones is in the lineup for the NFC South matchup. The Falcons will also have safety Keanu Neal in the lineup for the first time since drafting him in the first round this year. Neal had knee surgery during the preseason.

The Saints didn’t have the same luck with the players they listed as questionable. Safety Kenny Vaccaro won’t be able to play because of an ankle injury while, as previously reported, a toe injury will sideline wide receiver Willie Snead. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison and tight end Josh Hill also drew the designation before being ruled out Monday. Left tackle Terron Armstead and cornerback Delvin Breaux were ruled out on Friday.

Linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Paul Worrilow were ruled out on Friday as well. They join safety Dashon Goldson, defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw, guard Mike Person, guard Wes Schweitzer and tight end Joshua Perkins on the Atlanta inactive list.

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Thomas Rawls to miss more time

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 13: Running back Thomas Rawls #34 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball past inside linebacker Daryl Smith #51 of the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls was listed as doubtful heading into Sunday’s game against the 49ers because of a leg injury, but he’ll be out on their reports in the near future.

Coach Pete Carroll said on Monday that further evaluation of the injury showed “a little crack” in the bone that will sideline Rawls for the time being.

‘They were able to find a little something in there in the evaluations today that wasn’t clear a week ago,” Carroll said, via Curtis Crabtree of PFT and 950 KJR. “It makes sense for how uncomfortable he was feeling. He’s got a little crack there that we’ve just got to take care of and wait it out a little bit.”

Carroll said that injured reserve wasn’t a consideration for Rawls at the moment and that the running back won’t be “incapacitated” as a result of the injury.

Christine Michael ran 20 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Alex Collins and Terrence Magee worked behind him with C.J. Prosise inactive with a hand injury.

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Report: Browns offensive lineman Bailey arrested for OVI

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 16:  Alvin Bailey #78 of the Seattle Seahawks walks to the line of scrimmage in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Chiefs defeated the Seahawks 24-20.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns offensive lineman Alvin Bailey was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated early Monday morning, a few hours after returning from an overtime loss at Miami.

The Royalton Post reported that Bailey admitted to drinking on the team plane and later at a business in the area.

Officers also found marijuana in the car, the report said, and in addition to failing sobriety tests and being arrested for OVI, Bailey was cited for failure to comply, drug abuse, drug paraphernalia, speed and driving an unsafe vehicle due to a cracked windshield. He’s due in court later this week.

The Browns released a statement in which executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said the team has expressed its “displeasure and extreme disappointment” with Bailey. It also said Bailey’s claim that he was drinking on the team plane would be a violation of team and league rules and would make Bailey potentially subject to team discipline.

Bailey signed with the Browns last March and started at right guard in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Dolphins. He spent the last three seasons with the Seahawks.

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Week Three ratings down, again


Good news came Thursday night for the NFL, with an increase in ratings over the same spot in 2015, even though the Patriots bulled over the Texans. The rest of the TV viewership ratings for Week Three, in comparison to 2015, was not as good.

Via SportsBusiness Daily, the overnight ratings were down for Sunday Night Football on NBC and the late-afternoon national window on CBS.

The Bears-Cowboys game in prime time generated an overnight rating of 12.9, a seven-percent drop over the 13.8 from Broncos-Lions a year ago. Steelers-Eagles in the 4:25 p.m. ET slot dropped by one percent from Bears-Seahawks a year earlier.

In the early-afternoon regional windows, CBS saw an 18-percent decline over 2015, even with Broncos-Bengals delivered to 65-percent of the nation. FOX realized a three-percent increase, however, with games like Vikings-Panthers on the docket.

The week surely will be ending on a sour note, with Falcons-Saints going up against a presidential debate that some are opting to refer to in South Parkian terms. Via SBD, the all-time low for Monday Night Football since the NFL switch it from broadcast to cable came in December 2007, with only 8.449 million watching.

Don’t be surprised if Monday night’s numbers are a lot lower.

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Report: Greg Hardy arrested for drug possession

05-greg-hardy.w529.h352 Getty Images

Former Panthers and Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy has been arrested for drug possession.

NBC 5 in Dallas is reporting that Hardy was arrested in the Dallas suburb of Richardson on Sunday for possession of a controlled substance. He was taken to the Richardson City Jail, where he remained as of Monday afternoon.

There is no immediate word on the substance Hardy possessed, or any information about the circumstances surrounding his arrest.

Hardy was once among the best pass rushers in the NFL, but after the Ray Rice domestic violence incident put the NFL under intense scrutiny, Hardy became toxic for his own past domestic violence arrest. Although charges against Hardy were eventually dropped, he never played for the Panthers again after the Rice elevator video became public.

In 2015 he signed with the Cowboys, but this year no team has shown any interest in him. He was already a long shot to return to the NFL even if he stayed on his best behavior, and a drug arrest could end any hope he had of playing in the NFL again.

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Dez Bryant, Royce West settle their legal differences

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Tracy Porter #21 of the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has resolved what could have become an ugly legal headache.

Sued by Texas Senator Royce West for $60,000 in damages to rental property, Bryant opted to respond by suing West in return, making strong allegations of misappropriated funds and professional malfeasance.

West didn’t react well to the claims, seeking $500,000 in sanctions against Bryant for making false accusations — accusations that also ensnared longtime Bryant confidant, babysitter, and reputed fixer David Wells.

Given the things West and Wells potentially know about Bryant, the receiver was suddenly juggling hand grenades by fighting with both of them publicly. Bryant has found a way, wisely, to re-insert the pins.

“Dez Bryant and Royce West have settled the disputes between them amicably and have withdrawn all claims and counterclaims,” West attorney Trey Crawford said in a statement provided earlier Monday to PFT and other media outlets.

Confidentiality agreements likely prevent either side from saying more. The fact that West’s lawyer is trumpeting the resolution not-so-subtly implies that West is pleased with the outcome, which quite possibly entails what it should have from the start: Bryant compensating West for any damage to the rental property and Bryant dropping any over-the-top claims that will inflame two men who have been close enough to Bryant to wreak havoc for him, or at least to try to do so.

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Raiders release Marcel Reece

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Fullback Marcel Reece #45 of the Oakland Raiders takes a pass for nine yards against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter on December 20, 2015 at Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Packers won 30-20. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Fullback Marcel Reece missed the final Raiders game of last season and the first three games of this season after being suspended for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy, but he’s eligible to return to action this week.

He won’t be returning to action with the Raiders, though. The Raiders released Reece on Monday, ending an eight-year run with the organization.

Reece joined the team in 2008 and was a staple in the lineup starting in 2010. Reece ran 183 times for 844 yards and three touchdowns while also catching 205 passes for 2,015 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers helped him make the Pro Bowl four times, although he was ineligible to take the trip to Hawaii last year because of the suspension.

The Raiders signed fullback Jamize Olawale to a three-year extension last December in a move that likely helped clear the way for Reece’s departure before the suspension.

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Chip Kelly: Colin Kaepernick is still not healthy enough to start

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers walks off the field after the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 37-18.   (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

After 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert turned in a terrible performance in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, coach Chip Kelly said he didn’t think about benching Gabbert. That’s in part because backup Colin Kaepernick still isn’t 100 percent healthy after having three offseason surgeries.

Kelly said today that Kaepernick is still working himself back into shape and needs to get stronger before he’d be able to start week in and week out.

I don’t think he’s ready to go full time,” Kelly said of Kaepernick. “He’s continuing to work on it. I think he’s over there right now. And, Kap will be the first to tell you, if you guys have been around here before, I think his playing weight has been around 225 and he’s not at that right now. So, he’s going out there and continuing to work, continuing to get better. He had a serious layoff in terms of being able to medical rehab. To get the full Kap for what you need, the potential that he has, he needs to continue to just work on the physical aspect of things.”

Asked how close Kaepernick is to 100 percent healthy, Kelly answered, “I don’t know. That’s a good question for him. So, he’ll be able to tell you exactly where he is.”

Kaepernick is healthy enough to be the No. 2 quarterback, which means he’s healthy enough that he could play if Gabbert got hurt. If Gabbert keeps playing the way he’s been playing, Kelly may make a change even if Kaepernick isn’t 100 percent.

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Panthers want to get Kelvin Benjamin more involved after Sunday shutout

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:   Kelvin Benjamin #13 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after making a catch against the San Francisco 49ers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers offense had a slew of problems against the Vikings in Sunday’s 22-10 loss that included a silent day from wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

Benjamin was targeted once and finished the game without a catch, which is a big change for a player who had 13 catches on 21 targets in the first two weeks of the season. It’s one that Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said can’t become a permanent one.

“Yeah, we’ve got to find a way to get him the ball more. That starts with me,” Shula said, via the team’s website. “But we’ve got to make sure we’re doing it in a way that we’re not just trying to force him the ball. … That’s our job — to continue to get our playmakers opportunities. They rolled to him at times but they also had some one-on-ones. But just because teams roll to a receiver doesn’t mean you still can’t get it to him. We just weren’t good enough yesterday.”

Any attempts to get Benjamin the ball will be more successful if there’s actually time for Cam Newton to throw the ball in his direction and there may have been more work for the wideout on Sunday if not for the eight sacks that Carolina allowed to the Vikings.

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NFL, AFCA agree on new guidelines, access for scouting underclassmen

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 29: Defensive back Eli Apple of Ohio State runs with the ball during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 29, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL and the American Football Coaches Association have reached an agreement on new guidelines that will allow NFL teams to meet, scout and test certain underclass draft prospects nearly a year before they declare — or choose not to declare — for the draft.

The new rules come after many top college coaches, including Nick Saban of Alabama and Urban Meyer of Ohio State, campaigned for greater access and possibly even an underclass combine to prevent young players from making poor decisions about whether or not to enter the draft.

The new agreement, which goes into effect in early 2017, does not include an underclass combine but will allow college programs to designate players eligible for extra scouting and, per the release on the new agreement, those players can be “tested and interviewed prior to their 2017 college seasons at the school’s senior pro day for 2017 draft-eligible players.”

The change marks progress from an antiquated system that basically had scouts pretending like they weren’t evaluating players who weren’t seniors.

Information is good,” Meyer said in July. “[The players] are getting their information somewhere, so why not get it from the experts — the scouts, the general managers, people who have the right information? They’re getting it from agents and they’re getting it from wannabes, and that’s not good information.”

In 1994 the NFL established an underclass advisory committee that works with the NFL’s two sanctioned scouting organizations to provide pre-draft grades on eligible players who are facing a draft decision. Among the gripes Meyer and other prominent coaches have had with the current system are a lack of time from the end of the college season to the deadline and the lack of access players have had to real opinions from league scouts and executives.

Beginning in February, each school can designate up to five players eligible for additional scouting and will have the opportunity to designate more than five players in certain situations. It basically means that on the 2017 pro day circuit, scouts will also get to evaluate top prospects for future drafts.

“The more information our college advisory committee has, the better evaluations they can make for student-athletes who are at a critical juncture of their lives,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in the statement. “While there is no question that obtaining a college degree is a transformative experience for so many people in society and a goal to which we encourage everyone to aspire to, for those talented few individuals that have the ability to succeed in the NFL prior to exhausting their college football eligibility, this new agreement will ensure they have better information with which to make their decision. We appreciate the efforts of our partners at the AFCA in making this new agreement a reality.”

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Shane Vereen’s season may not be over

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:   Shane Vereen #34 of the New York Giants runs with the ball against the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Monday, the Giants announced that running back Shane Vereen would miss the rest of the season after suffering a triceps injury in Sunday’s loss to the Redskins.

Ruling Vereen out for the duration of the year was a bit premature, however. The Giants have revised their earlier announcement to say that Vereen will have surgery without ruling him out for the rest of the season.

Vereen could spend eight weeks on injured reserve and be eligible to return to the team later in the year if he’s healthy enough to play. Teams do not have to designate the one player eligible to return until they have been on I.R. for six weeks.

Vereen’s absence comes at a time when Rashad Jennings is dealing with a thumb injury that kept him from playing in Week Three. Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey both saw action during Sunday’s game and coach Ben McAdoo said Monday that fifth-round pick Paul Perkins “is ready to step up.”

McAdoo also said it would be later in the week before the team knows if cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple will be able to play against the Vikings after leaving Sunday’s loss with injuries.

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Jets claim Austin Seferian-Jenkins

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Buccaneers  40-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets haven’t made much use of their tight ends in the passing game since Todd Bowles became the team’s head coach last season, but they added one on Monday who came into the league with some potential in that area.

According to multiple reports, the Jets have claimed Austin Seferian-Jenkins off of waivers. Seferian-Jenkins was waived by the Buccaneers on Friday after he was arrested for DUI.

Seferian-Jenkins was a second-round pick in 2014, but only played in 16 games over his first two seasons because of injuries. He then earned the ire of coach Dirk Koetter at practice this offseason and dropped behind Cameron Brate on the depth chart.

He caught 45 passes for 603 yards and seven touchdowns overall for the Bucs, numbers that the current group of Jets tight ends weren’t going. His new team will hope that Seferian-Jenkins can stay healthy and trouble-free enough to add something to an offense that flopped in Kansas City on Sunday.

UPDATE 5:16 p.m. ET: The Jets announced Seferian-Jenkins’ arrival and waived linebacker Julian Stanford.

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