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McClain could be back

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There’s something not quite right about the decision of a 23-year-old top-10 draft pick with three years of experience retiring from the NFL.

Then again, there’s usually something not quite right when it comes to linebacker Rolando McClain.

My first thought upon seeing the news that he’ll be walking away from the game is that he’s doing so temporarily, an that if he stays out of trouble for a specific period of time (perhaps a year, perhaps less than that), McClain will unretire and return to the Ravens.

It’s a brilliant approach, since it gives the Ravens an escape hatch from McClain’s most recent legal troubles and it likewise gives McClain a path to return to the team.  Indeed, Baltimore will retain McClain’s rights, since he’ll be placed on the team’s reserve/retired list.  So if/when he returns, the Ravens would move him to the active roster, and they’d have him under contract for one year at $700,000.

One source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the decision to retire was made solely by McClain, with no influence from the team.  McClain, we’re told, wants to focus solely on getting himself together before continuing his football career.  The Ravens have offered to be a resource for McClain during this process, a consideration that likely flows in part from McClain’s connection to Alabama, where G.M. Ozzie Newsome played college football.

Thus, the only way McClain’s NFL story won’t continue will be if his arrest record continues to grow.  But if he can keep himself out of trouble, McClain could indeed be back.  And he’d likely be in Baltimore.

“We’ll see what happens,” the source said.

What could happen is an unlikely story of redemption for a player who, with some maturity, still has plenty of football left in him.

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David Quessenberry participating in OTAs after finishing chemo

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David Quessenberry has spent most of the last three years focused on battling lymphoma, but he had his final round of chemotherapy in April and that’s allowed him to get back to other things.

Among the top items on that list would be his career as an offensive lineman for the Texans and Quessenberry has taken a big step toward a full return to that life. Quessenberry was on the field with the team as they opened up Organized Team Activities this week.

Quessenberry was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma in June 2014 and has spent the last three seasons on the non-football illness list while receiving treatment. That left Quessenberry to say in April that he’s in “uncharted territory” while discussing his attempt to resume his playing career.

There’s a long way to go from a May practice to a September roster spot, but we’re not putting anything past a guy who has overcome as much as Quessenberry has to just get on the practice field in the first place.

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Jeremy Maclin: Last year wasn’t up to my standards

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In wide receiver Jeremy Maclin’s first year with the Chiefs, he caught 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns in a season that looked a lot like the 2014 one he turned in for the Eagles before signing a five-year deal in Kansas City as a free agent.

Last year’s numbers weren’t in the same ballpark. Maclin caught 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns while missing four games because of a groin injury, although Maclin didn’t focus on the injury when discussing his disappointment with last year’s play.

“It just wasn’t up to my standards — it wasn’t up to my standards,” Maclin said, via the Kansas City Star. “I’ve never been a stat guy. I’ve never been a guy to say ‘I want this, I want that.’ I just … I didn’t play as well as I could have. And by not playing well, I feel like I let my team down. And that’s the most important part of it.”

Quarterback Alex Smith said both he and Maclin had a role in the drop and that he’s “looking forward to remedying that” during the 2017 season. The Chiefs were able to win the division last year without a big season from Maclin, so pulling that off should be a big benefit to doing it again.

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Ndamukong Suh: “Definitely sick and tired” of early playoff exits

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Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has turned 30, and he’s made all the money already.

Now, he admits he wants more.

Via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Suh said yesterday that never advancing as far as the divisional round of the playoffs is beginning to wear on him.

I’m definitely sick and tired of making it to the playoffs and not going further,” Suh said. “I think everybody feels that way. . . . It feels like guys weren’t satisfied with where we were at. It’s exciting, from my vantage point, to see hunger still. That was not OK the way we finished, especially the last two games of our season.”

The Dolphins were blasted by the Patriots and the Steelers in their final two games, allowing 65 points in the losses. But specifically troubling to Suh was the 4.7 yards per carry over those last two games, and the fact they ranked 30th in the league last year in run defense.

“I put a lot of it on myself,” Suh said of the run defense. “I’m supposed to be the anchor. I plan to be the anchor and continue to be that way. So I think it starts with us front, without question. With the way the defense is set up.”

Suh is paid that way, and ought to be the focal point of their defense. And he’s apparently not satisfied with last year’s results, and early exits.

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Broncos quarterbacks have “good day” on first day of OTAs

AP

The Broncos have talked about a 50-50 quarterback competition between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch and their plans for Organized Team Activities sticks to that description.

Coach Vance Joseph said that each quarterback will work with the first team during five of the 10 OTAs that lead into the mandatory minicamp that wraps up the offseason program. Siemian got the lead spot on Tuesday in what Joseph termed a “good day” for both of the quarterbacks.

Both quarterbacks are also learning the finer points of the new offense that offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has installed. Siemian called it “different across the board,” something Lynch agreed with while also saying it felt familiar because of his college offense.

“I feel like it fits more of how I play,” Lynch said in comments distributed by the team. “I’m more comfortable in it and there is a little bit more similarities to what I did at Memphis compared to what I had to do last year. Obviously at practice we’ve gotten into the gun a little more than last year, which is more comfortable to me because I’ve been doing it for long. Last year was my first getting under center. The reps that I got last year and the time that I got to play, now coming into OTAs this year, I think I’ve made pretty good strides.”

Lynch will get his first chance to show those strides with the first team on Wednesday.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

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Jay Ajayi may be the Dolphins’ most important player.

Is former Bills GM Doug Whaley breaking his arm by patting himself on the back?

For Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, the key to cashing in is staying healthy.

Sheldon Richardson thinks he can have a monster season in the Jets’ defense.

Ravens TE Dennis Pitta is a big fan of The Bachelorette.

Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick says he’ll be back in two weeks from a hand injury.

The Browns think they have reasons for optimism.

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant is finally back to work.

Texans QB Tom Savage and coach Bill O’Brien are getting on the same page.

Colts OT Le’Raven Clark may be ready to make a big jump.

Is Jaguars QB Blake Bortles ready to bounce back in a big way?

Titans QB Marcus Mariota is making progress.

Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch are sharing the spotlight at Broncos OTAs.

Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin is determined to have a big year.

Raiders third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes isn’t allowed to attend OTAs because of the NFL’s rules keeping players out until their schools finish their spring semesters.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers is as competitive in the offseason as he is in the regular season.

Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith is continuing to make progress in recovery from his devastating knee injury 17 months ago.

Is Odell Beckham’s absence from OTAs a sign of immaturity?

Eagles CB Patrick Robinson is blaming himself for his slow development.

Here’s a look at some of the camp competitions in Washington.

Will the Bears have a Top 5 pick again next year?

The Lions’ top two rookie draft picks are learning the defense together.

Packers G Jahri Evans wants to prove he’s elite.

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook is showing his stuff at Vikings OTAs.

Falcons WR Julio Jones has a big-time fan in Ric Flair.

Will Panthers LT Matt Kalil play well after surgery?

Formerly a defensive lineman for the Raiders, Drew Iddings is trying to make the Saints as an offensive lineman.

Bucs backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is glad to have another Harvard man in the locker room in Cameron Brate.

Cardinals RB David Johnson wants to take the next step toward NFL greatness.

Rams QB Jared Goff is making strides in his first full offseason.

San Francisco LB Reuben Foster is doing as much as he can while protecting his surgically repaired shoulder from contact.

The Seahawks remember Cortez Kennedy as an all-time great on and off the field.

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Eagles apparently weren’t thrilled with Carson Wentz’s QB gurus

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The Eagles invested heavily in quarterback Carson Wentz last year, and identified some mechanical issues they wanted him to polish up this offseason.

They just might not have preferred where he did the polishing.

According to Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Eagles weren’t thrilled about Wentz’s offseason pilgrimage to California quarterback gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux.

When asked if he saw any improvements in his second-year quarterback after a day of Organized Team Activities, Eagles coach Doug Pederson offered muted praise.

“Well, the biggest thing I’ve seen, No. 1, is leadership,” Pederson said. “He’s come in here ready to go. He’s come in here eager, excited about the offseason, working with the new guys and the guys from last year. That’s what I’ve seen. I’ve seen him come in rejuvenated.”

That’s far from “Those wizards in California saw things I never did and fixed them,” which might shine some light on their reluctance to embrace the trip. It’s not that House and Dedeaux are bad at what they do (they’ve worked with Tom Brady and Matt Ryan and Drew Brees among others), it’s more that Pederson and Frank Reich were brought in specifically because they’re good with young quarterbacks, and might not appreciate the work being farmed out.

Wentz downplayed the work, and said “I’m not really sure,” when asked if he’d return.

“It wasn’t super in-depth,” he said. “It was just kind of cleaning up some things from an efficiency standpoint. No mass overhauls. Nothing major. A lot of it having to do with footwork.”

In the context of his coaches not being thrilled with his choice, that may involve a bit of tap-dancing to keep everyone happy.

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Report: Seahawks expected to work out Colin Kaepernick, others

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Someone is finally going to actually see for themselves whether Colin Kaepernick is able and willing to play football.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Seahawks are going to audition some backup options soon, and “barring a change of plans” Kaepernick is expected to be among them.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week that Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III were among the guys they were considering as a potential backup to Russell Wilson, since they have no experience on the bench.

If nothing else, it supports commissioner Roger Goodell’s stance that Kaepernick isn’t being blackballed.

Barring a change of plans, of course, which sounds sort of ominous the way it was dropped in there so casually.

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Shane Vereen visits PFT Live on Wednesday

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Our recent offseason excursion into having former players in the studio for a full hour at a time on PFT Live carries with it a twist on Wednesday: A non-former player joins the show.

Giants running back (and Super Bowl XLIX champion with the Patriots) Shane Vereen visits the studio in Connecticut for the final four segments of the simulcast, and among other things we’ll pick our all-time favorite NFL celebrations from a variety of categories. (We always tackle the most difficult and delicate topics.)

We’ll address plenty of other issues throughout the show, which begins (began) at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio and then heads to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET for the two-hour simulcast. Join us.

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Colts’ Clayton Geathers may not be ready for start of season

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Colts safety Clayton Geathers started nine games last year before a neck injury ended his season. Now the question is whether his neck injury will also affect his 2017 season.

Geathers hoped the injury would heal on its own, but when it didn’t, he had surgery in March. He’s now attending the Colts’ Organized Team Activities, but he’s not participating, and when asked if he’ll be ready for the start of the season, he couldn’t answer. Neither could Colts coach Chuck Pagano.

I can’t tell you when Clayton is going to be available for us, but he’s doing everything as far as the rehab and the meetings,” Pagano said. “He’s just not practicing right now. When the doctors say he’s 100 percent and he’s ready to roll, then we’ll put him back out there.”

As Geathers said, “You don’t want to play around with the neck.” He shouldn’t play until he’s completely healthy, and it sounds like it may be several more months before he’s completely healthy.

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Donald Penn says slipping on play Derek Carr was injured continues to stick with him

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Oakland Raiders left tackle Donald Penn can’t shake the memory of the slip he had on the play that ended with his quarterback lost for the season.

According to PFT alumnus Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Penn says the memory of his misstep on the play against the Indianapolis Colts that led to Derek Carr sustaining a broken leg is something that has stuck with him even five months later.

I should have held on (to Colts defensive end Trent Cole) and brought him down with me,” Penn said. “That play sticks with me. I’m going to try to do whatever I can do better to make sure nothing like that ever happens again. I’ve never gotten a quarterback hurt before in my life since I’ve been playing. None of my quarterbacks ever got hurt. That was the first. That’s something I take pride in, and I’m going to try my hardest to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Penn had a stellar season in 2016 protecting Carr’s backside from opposing pass rushers looking to inflict damage. The Raiders were cruising into the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, Carr was having a great year under center and Penn was doing everything he could to allow Carr the chance to complete passes.

But with Cole coming off the edge, Penn lost his footing as the Colts pass rusher chased down Carr from behind. The sack left Carr with a fractured fibula. The Raiders season was broken in that moment as well.

“You’ve got to try not to think about it too much,” Penn said. “It happened. You wish you could go back and get it back. I’ve done that same (pass) set I don’t know how many times on that same field and never just slipped out of nowhere. I took a little step. I’m not going to put it on myself. I should have been able to do something better. You know me: I’m not going to blame the slip for happening.”

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Roethlisberger laments Le’Veon Bell’s absence from OTAs

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Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell currently doesn’t have a contract. Which means that he can’t, absent a rarely-used (by veteran players) letter of protection, participate in offseason workouts.

That hasn’t stopped quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from publicly lamenting Bell’s absence.

“I’m not worried about the chemistry, but I wish he’d be here just because he’s one of the pieces to our puzzle,” Roethlisberger told reporters, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I know he can’t participate because I don’t think he’s 100 percent healthy, but it would be nice to see him here just in terms of the chemistry and learning and being a part of this process. But obviously, it’s up to him.”

It’s not entirely up to him. The Steelers haven’t signed Bell to a long-term contract. So Bell currently has no contract, since he hasn’t signed his franchise tender, which will pay him $12.1 million in 2017.

As Bell tries to get a long-term deal, his only leverage comes from the withholding of services. Which is what he’s doing.

Which is why he may not fully appreciate getting pressure from a guy who has gotten paid, on multiple occasions, to give up that leverage and show up for offseason workouts.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick’s “musical chairs” comments not as biting as initially reported

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New Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick met with the media for the first time at Tuesday’s OTA session. As initially reported, Fitzpatrick provided a quote that generated plenty of criticism of the backup-turned-starter-turned-backup-turned-starter-turned-backup-turned-starter-turned-backup.

From Roy Cummings of FloridaFootballToday.com, Fitzpatrick said this regarding the loss of his job with the Jets: “[I]t’s a game of musical chairs and they pulled the chair out from under me.” The full quote creates a much different impression regarding whether Fitzpatrick was blaming anyone but himself for no longer being the starter in New York.

Asked whether it was difficult for Fitzpatrick when he realized that he would not be signing with a new team as the opening-day starter, Fitzpatrick said this, via quotes distributed by the team: “I mean, it’s tough, but I’ve been through that before. When I got cut in Buffalo in 2012, I signed on in Tennessee as a backup. The year after that I signed on in Houston as sort of a quarterback competition, and then got traded to the Jets as a backup. I started that 2015 campaign as the backup to Geno [Smith].

“It was a new team, new environment for me and I had to step up when my number was called. It’s the harsh reality of the NFL: There are [only] so many jobs that are available. I can’t complain about it. Last year I was the starter, and if you play well as the starter you continue to play. I didn’t play well and so I lost the game of musical chairs. They pulled my chair out from under me. But I’m happy to be here, and I do just enjoy football. I enjoy the Xs and Os and just the day-to-day interaction. I’m really happy to be in this role and to be here.”

While he did indeed say “they pulled my chair out from under me,” Fitzpatrick also said that he “didn’t play well.” And he didn’t.

And he knows it. As does everyone else.

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Bose renews deal with NFL, with extra exposure coming during replay reviews

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The NFL’s new replay system will give its official tablet provider greater exposure when the device is brought onto the field for the referee to consult with the league office. The NFL’s official headset provider will get a bump, too. And that provider presumably has agreed to pay plenty for that privilege.

The league announced on Tuesday that Bose has renewed its agreement to be the official headphone and headset provider of the NFL. “Headset” is the key, given the constant presence of “Bose” on the equipment worn throughout every game by the league’s 32 head coaches.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The twist comes this year when the referee will be wearing the Bose headset not when squirreled away in the sideline replay machine but in the field when the headset and tablet are brought to him from the sideline. The release from the NFL makes only passing reference to use of the Bose headsets for replay, but a league spokesman confirmed that the Bose headset will be used (in lieu of the earpiece through which the league office currently can talk to the referee) during replay reviews, adding value to the Bose partnership.

Bose acquired the sponsorship in 2014, after a 14-year deal with Motorola (believed to be worth $40 million per year in its final years) had expired. Motorola reportedly had offered $50 million per year to renew in 2013, but the league passed — spending a full year with simply the NFL logo on the headsets.

“Bose” will continue to be the name that millions see during NFL games, both on the sidelines and, starting this year, whenever a referee is hearing from the league office what the outcome of any replay reviews will be.

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Seahawks sign third-rounder Amara Darboh

AP

The Seahawks signed third-round pick Amara Darboh to his four-year rookie contract on Tuesday.

Darboh, one of four third-round picks by the Seahawks, became the seventh member of Seattle’s 11-man draft class to sign with the team. The Seahawks’ top four selections – defensive tackle Malik McDowell (second round), offensive lineman Ethan Pocic (second), cornerback Shaquill Griffin (third) and safety Delano Hill (third) remain unsigned.

Darboh was a second-team All-Big Ten selection during his senior season at Michigan. He led the team with 57 catches for 862 yards and seven touchdowns.

Darboh gives the Seahawks a bigger receiving option to complement Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. If Darboh makes a strong push in training camp, he could push Jermaine Kearse for a larger share of the team’s snaps as well.

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Shanahan: There were never any trade talks about NaVorro Bowman

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When the 49ers denied that linebacker Navorro Bowman was available via trade, the statement permitted a reasonable inference that, while he currently isn’t available, he previously may have been. Meeting with reporters on Tuesday in connection with the commencement of the team’s Organized Team Activities, coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear that there have never been any trade talks involving Bowman.

And in doing so, Shanahan admitted that another veteran 49ers name came up in connection with a potential trade.

“[T]he only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about [tight end] Vance [McDonald] on draft day,” Shanahan told reporters. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing. When it came to NaVorro or any other player on our team, no one’s asked and we haven’t either.”

And so Bowman, who tore an Achilles tendon last season, will remain with the team. He participated in Tuesday’s OTA session, and Shanahan likes what he saw.

“I thought he’s looked real good, kind of what I told you guys the last time I spoke with you,” Shanahan said. “Anytime you’re coming off an Achilles you’re waiting for him to ease into it and from what I’ve seen just watching him, I would have never known that just by watching him. He looks like the guys I’ve seen on tape over the years.”

Bowman signed last year a contract that runs through the 2022 season. He’s due to make $6.75 million in 2017.

McDonald is signed through 2021. He’s due to make $2.1 million this year and presumably remains available in trade. Which maybe should be the real headline of this item but the second period of Penguins-Senators is about to begin.

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