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Stevan Ridley on Bernard Pollard hit: “Just got to shake it off”

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Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was on the receiving end of what may have been the most brutal hit of the NFL season when Baltimore’s Bernard Pollard knocked him unconscious in the AFC Championship Game. But Ridley says he feels fine now, three months after suffering a serious concussion.

Ridley told the Boston Herald he’s good to go in the Patriots’ offseason program and that he’s not worrying about it.

All I can do now is move forward from that, but it was a nice hit that I took. Just got to shake it off. Comes with the game,” Ridley said.

When Pollard delivered that vicious (but legal) hit on Ridley, it knocked Ridley out and caused him to fall awkwardly to the ground. It was a scary moment for Ridley and for the NFL.

“It wasn’t pretty at all,” Ridley said. “It was one of the worst ones that I took in my life. Besides that, it comes with the game. Sometimes it’s others, and sometimes it’s ourselves. But either way, I love the game, and I love football. I mean, it’s going to happen sometimes, but you’ve got to roll with it, adjust it. Make sure you’re squared away with your doctor, squared away with your team. I’ll be out here this year ready to go.”

That’s good news after an ugly injury.

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Haloti Ngata lands on non-football injury list

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When it became clear that the Lions wouldn’t hold onto defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, one of the first things they did was swing a deal with the Ravens to acquire behemoth Haloti Ngata.

Ngata’s training camp debut is going to have to wait, however. The team announced Monday that Ngata has been placed on the non-football injury list.

The Lions didn’t disclose the injury that’s keeping Ngata out of the lineup and there’s a chance that the team is just being cautious now in hopes of allowing Ngata to work himself into football shape on the sideline before jumping into the middle of drills. Ngata worked through a variety of injuries during his time in Baltimore, but only missed nine games in nine years and four of those were because of a suspension.

Tyrunn Walker and Caraun Reid will likely see increased playing time while Ngata is off the field for a defense that’s hoping to repeat last year’s success despite Suh’s trip to South Florida.

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DeSean Jackson: I don’t think anyone can guard me

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DeSean Jackson led the league with 20.9 yards per catch last season and he’s been one of the top big-play threats in the league for several years.

He doesn’t sound like a man who expects to see a drop in that area in the 2015 season. The Redskins wide receiver was asked Monday what it is like going up against cornerback Chris Culliver during practices and responded that Culliver had one thing in common with every other cornerback in the NFL.

“I don’t think no one can guard me,” Jackson said, via ESPN.com. “It’s how I feel about myself. I don’t feel no one can stop me. You can get Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman — whoever you want to get.”

Jackson’s big plays were a big part of the Redskins offense last season, but his 56 catches for the year don’t exactly fit with being uncoverable by anyone that an opponent can throw your way. Jackson says he’d “love to do more” for the offense this season and hopes chemistry with Robert Griffin III as well as increased play action passing allow that to happen. One test he’ll have to overcome is an October 18 matchup with Revis that will almost certainly be hyped up with the above quote,

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Steelers corner Senquez Golson may need season-ending surgery

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There’s a reason the Steelers were so aggressive in their pursuit of cornerback Brandon Boykin.

One of the guys they hoped to have this year to fix their secondary problems might not play at all.

According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, rookie cornerback Senquez Golson may need season-ending shoulder surgery.

Golson, their second-round pick from Ole Miss, opened camp on the physically unable to perform list after injuring himself during spring workouts. They’re currently exploring all their options, but the fact they called the Eagles back to acquire Boykin is instructive.

The Steelers gave up a fifth-round pick which can become a fourth if Boykin plays in 60 percent of the team’s snaps, and he might, as he’s competing with Cortez Allen and William Gay for a starting job.

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Pierre-Paul still plans to stay away until he’s healthy

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As explained last month, we said that Jason Pierre-Paul’s best move would be to hold out until healthy. That’s apparently what he plans to do.

Via Ed Werder of ESPN, nothing changed in the aftermath of the conversation between Pierre-Paul and G.M. Jerry Reese. Pierre-Paul won’t show up until he can pass a physical and play.

The reason for that is simple. If JPP signs the $14.8 million franchise tender before Week One but the Giants place him on the Non-Football Injury list at the start of the regular season, he’ll miss at least six weeks — and the Giants can choose not to pay him. That’s why PFT reported on July 11 that Pierre-Paul would show up if the Giants would commit to paying him the full $14.8 million even if he’s on the NFI list.

Alternatively, I believe Pierre-Paul would welcome a decision by the Giants to rescind the franchise tender. That would make him a free agent, and it would allow him to sign a multi-year deal with any team.

At times, it seems like JPP actually hopes to provoke the Giants to rescind the tender. It remains unlikely that they will, but all it takes is that one moment in which Reese or coach Tom Coughlin or ownership get sufficiently fed up to strip the tender and set Pierre-Paul free.

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John Fox “can’t predict” when Kevin White will practice

Kevin White AP

The Bears are five practices into training camp and they’ve yet to have their first-round pick on the field for any of them.

Wide receiver Kevin White landed on the physically unable to perform list to open up his first professional camp and there’s no timetable at this point for when his shin injury will be healed enough for him to begin working with the team. Coach John Fox said Monday that he’s looking at White’s absence as a “day-to-day” proposition, but after six weeks of dealing with the injury he “can’t predict” when White will be well enough to join his teammates.

“I think he’s making headway,” Fox said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “Like I said, he was on the shelf for six weeks. His conditioning level [and] soft tissue has built him back to have a chance to come back and play.”

Last year, Odell Beckham missed the entire preseason for the Giants while dealing with a hamsting injury and then missed four regular season games before having a rookie year for the ages. Repeating Beckham’s exploits is too much to ask, but the Bears hope for impactful contributions to their offense after a shorter absence from their rookie wideout.

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Andrew Quarless missed start of camp because his daughter died

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When Andrew Quarless didn’t report to training camp on time, the team said it was because of an “extremely difficult family situation.”

It was even worse than it sounded then.

According to Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, the Packers tight end told reporters his baby daughter died at birth last week, which is why he wasn’t present for the start of camp.

Quarless made headlines this offseason for his arrest in Miami on charges of firing a gun during an argument outside a parking garage, and could still face punishment from the league for violating the personal conduct policy.

But any of that trouble pales in comparison to this tragedy, and makes you wonder how he can concentrate on his job at all.

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Cardinals clear Jermaine Gresham, Troy Niklas to practice

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The Cardinals opened up training camp without two of their tight ends eligible to practice, but they’ll be better stocked at the position this week.

The team announced on Monday that Jermaine Gresham has been activated from the physically unable to perform list and that Troy Niklas has come off the non-football injury list.

Gresham was a late addition to the Cardinals roster after spending most of the offseason recovering from back surgery that Gresham had after physicals taken while Gresham was visiting teams as a free agent in March turned up a herniated disc. Niklas had ankle surgery in June and also has dealt with a hamstring problem.

Both players will likely be eased back into the flow of practice and take some time before they’re back to a full workload. Once they are, they should move to the top of the depth chart at the position. Gresham has averaged 56 catches a year over his career, but the position hasn’t been targeted often in Bruce Arians’s two years as the team’s coach.

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Judge rules St. Louis can spend tax money on stadium without public vote

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A judge in St. Louis has ruled that the city does not need a public vote in order to spend city tax dollars for the construction of a proposed stadium to replace the Edward Jones Dome.

Judge Thomas Frawley agreed with the argument made by the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority that the ordinance requiring a vote is invalid because it is too vaguely worded. One point of vagueness was that a new stadium was required to be “adjacent” to an existing convention center, which opponents argued did not apply to the current stadium proposal. Frawley ruled that the two sites did not need to be contiguous to qualify as adjacent.

“‘Adjacent’ has commonly been interpreted by Missouri courts to mean ‘near or close at hand’ and as ‘not necessarily meaning contiguous,’ i.e. not necessarily meaning touching each other or immediately next to each other,” Frawley wrote in his ruling, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The ruling opens the door for the use of city money for a new stadium, although that may not be enough to stop the Rams from pursuing a move to the Inglewood, California stadium proposed by owner Stan Kroenke. It would allow the possibility of landing another team in the event the Rams did depart without hurting the chances of keeping them in town and the league will be holding a meeting next week to discuss stadium issues in St. Louis, San Diego, Oakland and Los Angeles.

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Packers linebacker Clay Matthews gets day off with “knee soreness”

The Packers had a pretty noticeable absence from practice Monday, but coach Mike McCarthy downplayed any suggestion it was serious.

According to Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com, linebacker Clay Matthews was held out with “knee soreness,” though there were few other details.

McCarthy said Matthews felt something during Saturday’s practice. Players had Sunday off, and when they returned today, Matthews just jogged off the field after watching a bit of practice, before going back in to rehab with the other injured players.

While it may not be a big deal in August, his importance to the Packers defense can’t be overstated. He’s continuing to work both inside and outside, after being thrown into the middle on the fly last year. While that was a concern then because of the impact he can make as a pass-rusher, Matthews didn’t look out of place in the middle.

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Chip Kelly: I don’t hide my personal life, but it’s bizarre anyone cares

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Eagles coach Chip Kelly says that contrary to common belief, the recent revelation that he was once married wasn’t something that he’s been hiding. It’s just something he doesn’t care to discuss publicly.

Kelly says that if people are interested in his football team, that’s something he’ll discuss. His personal life? He doesn’t get why anyone would care.

I just think it’s bizarre,” Kelly told Albert Breer of NFL Network. “I just coach football. That’s what it’s all about. Why people want to know about that other part, I don’t know. I’m not a social media guy, I don’t tweet, I don’t Facebook, whatever all that stuff is. It’s no different than Darren Sproles [not liking to] talk to the media. It bothers me when people don’t respect that. Because you play a professional sport or you coach a professional sport, why does it have to be like that?”

Kelly’s comparison of himself to Sproles doesn’t really hold water. Sproles doesn’t like giving interviews because he stutters and often struggles with speaking when he feels rushed by reporters who are just looking for a quick sound bite. Sproles, who majored in speech pathology at Kansas State, has been open about his stuttering and does discuss it publicly, including working with the Stuttering Foundation. Kelly’s privacy, on the other hand, is just a personal preference.

“I have a very bland, quiet life,” Kelly said. “There’s not a lot there. And I’m not hiding anything, either. There’s no revelations. You wanna talk football? I’ll talk football. That’s my job.”

Kelly’s approach to football makes him one of the most intriguing coaches in the NFL, and that’s why fans are interested in knowing more about him. And, of course, the fact that so many fans are so interested in football is why Kelly is a multimillionaire. If he wants to maintain his privacy that’s his right, but it’s also fair for fans to want to know more about the coach who is turning the NFL on its ear.

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Jack Del Rio brings in a “mindset coach” to keep Raiders positive

Jack Del Rio AP

Once upon a time, Jack Del Rio tried to motivate his team with an ax, and he nearly ended up with a one-legged punter.

So it’s probably for the common good that he’s using something softer, like positive vibes this time.

Via Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the new Raiders coach is trying to change the atmosphere around a perennial losing team by not talking about all the losing that happened before he got there.

“I told them, ‘You guys can really help us by not referring anymore to negative things that have occurred here,’ ” Del Rio said of coaches and former players who are hanging around camp. “Let’s just talk about what we’re going to do going forward and the positives and bring us that great energy. That’ll help.”

Del Rio has also hired a “mindset coach” to work with the coaching staff, who is emphasizing nutrition, exercise, sleep and recovery to help keep the coaches positive, and create a better work environment.

While it sounds a little new-age for the NFL, players seem to enjoy the new approach so far, and it can’t hurt. Since Florio hasn’t hired a mindset coach for us yet, this is where we’re obligated to point out the Raiders haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, and are 56-136 with nine head coaches since then.

So no wonder they’re trying to get their zen on, and Del Rio has his new consultants working with all areas of the organization.

“We’re trying to hit the Raiders from all sides, really trying to build a sustainable, winning team,” said Scott Peltin, who co-founded the executive performance firm TIGNUM. “A big part is teaching coaches to be better problem-solvers, role-model a high-performance mindset and have more energy and resilience.”

Del Rio’s a high-energy guy anyway, so trying to shake things up fits with his personality. And it’s certainly better than chopping your foot off. So even if it sounds a little corny, it can’t possibly hurt, because they’ve been really bad for more than a decade.

Oh wait, we weren’t supposed to say that.

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Star Lotulelei carted off at Panthers practice

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The start of training camp is a good time in the football calendar because it draws us closer to meaningful games after months without the game, but the increased tempo and intensity of practices also creates an added risk of injuries that leads to players being carted off the field during workouts.

That’s what happened at Panthers practice on Monday. Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei needed the cart’s help to return to the locker room after going down during a drill.

Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports that Lotulelei limped off the field at the end of a play and received medical attention from trainers before riding off the field with his right foot wrapped in ice. Coach Ron Rivera said, via the team, only that Lotulelei’s foot is sore.

Lotulelei broke a bone in his foot in practice during the playoffs last year and any absence during the season would be a blow to a Panthers defense that relies on Lotulelei and fellow 2013 draft pick Kawann Short to control things in the middle of their defensive line.

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Saints add Morten Andersen to ring of honor

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Not many kickers get their names in the rafters at NFL stadiums, but not many kickers have careers like Morten Andersen.

Andersen, one of the greatest kickers in NFL history, has been announced as the next addition to the Saints’ ring of honor. In making the announcement today, Saints coach Sean Payton argued that Andersen also belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Payton makes a good case. Andersen was a Hall of Fame finalist last year, and he’s the NFL’s all-time record holder for games played (382), points scored (2,544) and field goals made (565).

The argument against Andersen basically boils down to an argument against putting any kicker in the Hall of Fame. There’s only one pure kicker in the Hall of Fame, Jan Stenerud, and voters may not be ready to put a second kicker in. (If Andersen doesn’t make it, the next kicker who would have a good shot of getting a bust in Canton would be Adam Vinatieri.)

There’s no argument, however, that Andersen is one of the greatest players in the history of the Saints. He’ll be recognized as such at a Superdome ceremony this season.

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PFT Live: Mark Rodgers, Chargers talk with Kevin Acee

Russell Wilson AP

The Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson beat a start of camp deadline to agree on a new extension and we’ll be looking at how they struck that agreement on Monday’s edition of PFT Live.

Wilson’s agent Mark Rodgers will join Mike Florio on the show to walk us through the steps that he took to secure Wilson’s four-year, $87.6 million extension. We’ll also find out how close Wilson came to playing out the 2015 season on his current deal during Rodgers’s visit.

Wilson isn’t the only quarterback whose contract has been a topic of conversation this offseason. Philip Rivers’s deal with the Chargers is up after this season and word out of San Diego that there’s a drop-dead date for talks looming. Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego will talk to Florio about where things stand on that front and fill us in on anything else of note from Chargers camp.

We also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.

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NFL Constitution and Bylaws not yet relevant to #DeflateGate

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The decision of the Patriots to post a lengthy retort to the Ted Wells report triggered speculation that the Patriots possibly violated the NFL Constitution & Bylaws. Last week’s strong statements from owner Robert Kraft followed by the team’s decision to release email communications with the league office regarding leaks and the NFL’s failure to investigate them has raised once again the question of whether the Patriots will face separate discipline for criticizing the league.

Article 9.1(C)(4) of the Constitution & Bylaws states that no team may “[p]ublicly criticize any member club or its management, personnel, employees, or coaches and/or any football official employed by the league.” The provision then requires that “[a]ll complaints or criticism in respect to the foregoing shall be made to the Commissioner only and shall not be publicized directly or indirectly.”

As explained in May, Athis language doesn’t encompass a (supposedly) independent investigator. But does it apply to criticism of the NFL itself?

Maybe. While the language primarily focuses on public criticism of other teams, it also prohibits criticism of “any football official employed by the league.”

At first blush, that encompasses game officials, the folks in the black and white stripes. But the language is broad enough to cover front-office employees — football officials who don’t actually enter the field of play.

So far, the only specific target of the assault from the Patriots has been NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, who arguably is not a football official. But he hasn’t been criticized by the Patriots; instead, the team has merely released emails sent to and received from him.

The Patriots haven’t specifically criticized any football officials by name. But that won’t necessarily stop the I-do-what-I-want mindset from twisting the team’s generalized comments into a finding that they have violated the rule that requires criticism on football matters to be directed privately to the Commissioner and not publicly articulated.

The question is whether the NFL wants to further escalate the situation by pushing back against the Patriots, or whether the league is willing to let the team vent — to an extent. As PFT reported over the weekend, the Patriots have yet to hear from the league in response to the email disclosure, but the Patriots assume that, eventually, a message will arrive.

The league has not yet responded to a request for comment from PFT on the Patriots’ decision to release the emails. The NFL has spoken, however, on a separate provision of the NFL Constitution & Bylaws that many are citing as proof of a violation by the league office.

Here’s Article 9.3(B): “No owner or person holding any interest in a member club, nor any officer, stockholder, director, or partner thereof, nor any officer or employee of the League or a member club thereof, shall enter the dressing room of a game official.”

Under the plain language of this provision, no League employee may enter the dressing room of a league employee. Thus, Article 9.3(B) seems to clearly prevent what happened in this case; as explained at page 66 of the Ted Wells Report, league employees Alberto Riveron, Dan Grossi, Troy Vincent, and Mike Kensil entered the “dressing room of the game officials” for the purposes of testing 11 Patriots footballs and four Colts footballs at halftime of the AFC Championship.

On one level, it’s a technicality. The testing of the footballs needed to be done somewhere; the locker room assigned to the officials made the most sense.

At a deeper level, the message could be that there should be none of these ad hoc investigations or inquiries sparked by league employees while a game is being played. If there are concerns raised by a team during a game, it’s for the game officials — and no one else — to handle it. And if the NFL, via 95 years of never considering what happens inside the bladder of a football under varying temperatures and other weather conditions, suddenly becomes curious about that topic, the way to address it isn’t to have a posse of league employees barge into the locker room of the officials to launch an investigation at halftime but to take the appropriate measures apart from the fragile and finite confines of a given game.

From the league’s perspective, there’s no violation at all — based not on the plain language of the provision but based on the way it has been applied.

“The interpretation has always been that no one should enter the game officials locker room unless on official business,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT by email on Monday morning. “League, club, and security people enter the officials locker rooms at every game to assist them with various functions. It is standard procedure. If the officials have an issue with anyone entering their locker room inappropriately, they would report it to security people at the site or to the head of officiating.

“This isn’t anything new or different. Various people with official game day functions enter the room. For example, your SNF crew goes into officials’ locker room for the standard 90-minute meeting before the game. The meeting includes someone from the broadcasting crew, the officials, officiating observer, the home and away PR reps, green hat, orange sleeves. This happens at every NFL game.”

The explanation makes sense, but the first paragraph invites curiosity regarding how game officials felt about a sudden investigation being launched not by the game officials but by the NFL, during the limited period of time that the game officials have to relax and regroup for the next 30 minutes of game action. Besides, if any of the game officials had deemed the intrusion by league employees “inappropriate,” would any of them have felt comfortable saying so?

Regardless, the Constitution & Bylaws currently aren’t an issue for the Patriots or for the NFL in the #DeflateGate controversy. And, unless and until the Patriots begin criticizing specific football officials by name, they likely never will be.

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