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Tebow returns to Jacksonville, but not that way

Tebow AP

At a time when the Jaguars aren’t interested in bringing Tim Tebow home to Jacksonville, he went there anyway.

Via the Florida Times-Union, Tebow was in town Friday night to speak at New Life Christian Fellowship.  As he did earlier this month in Michigan, he said nothing about his NFL future.

Tebow did offer one funny, self-deprecating jab at his NFL past.

“One of my favorite stories, ironically, was against the New York Jets,” Tebow said, referring to the game-winning touchdown run for the Broncos, in a 2011 Thursday night game.  “And probably my greatest Jets highlight, I guess.”

The Jaguars remain uninterested in allowing Tebow to create similar highlights for them, even though in 2012 the Jags tried to trade for Tebow.  Jaguars legend Tony Boselli recently suggested that Tebow possibly could be a “franchise quarterback,” but Boselli agreed with the Jaguars’ decision to steer clear of Tebowmania.

“What team wants to bring a guy who’s a developing player onto their roster when he’s going to be a complete distraction — through no fault of his own — and become a disruption in the locker room?” Boselli said.  “It becomes all about that — whether he is going to play, whether it’s going to work — and the rest of the team is saying, ‘We’re trying to win ballgames.’  I feel bad for Tim because I don’t think it’s all his fault.  It’s outside circumstances and people who are making it tough on him.”

Still, Tebow’s image feels partially scripted and contrived.  Though he seems to be a good person, there’s a too-good-to-be-completely-true element that Tebow and/or those close to him possibly have helped perpetuate.  Many casual fans have bought it completely, prompting them to skew their view of his football abilities.

Unless a team is willing to embrace Tebow and Tebowmania, making him the starting quarterback no matter how bad he is in practice or the first 3.75 quarters of a close game, it won’t work.  With no team willing to do that for 2013, the question becomes whether a team that stinks this season will decide that, for 2014, it can stink again without Tebow — or it can stink with him.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Patrick Willis ,Greg Olsen AP

The Bills will get their first look at QB Jordan Palmer tonight.

Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas is still fighting for his job.

Patriots RB Jonas Gray is among the youngsters trying to make a good last impression.

QB Matt Simms is in the driver’s seat for the third job with the Jets.

The Ravens might dip into the trade market for some CB help.

The Bengals were extremely interested in Tyrann Matthieu in the draft two years ago.

Breaking down the Browns roster before final cuts.

The Steelers’ attempt to add speed this offseason has been evident.

Texans QB Tom Savage will get plenty of chances tonight.

Are the Colts really considering adding G Richie Incognito?

Jaguars rookie WR Allen Hurns has impressed with his maturity.

Veteran K Garrett Hartley was part of the Titans’ workout yesterday.

The competition for the final RB spots on the Broncos roster will be fierce.

The Chiefs are working to keep their training camp in St. Joseph.

Raiders QB Derek Carr is looking forward to an extended look tonight.

Richard Marshall is accepting his move from CB to S with the Chargers.

The Cowboys are expected to bring back RB Phillip Tanner for tonight’s game.

Giants QB Ryan Nassib is still fighting for the No. 2 job.

Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins has added some gravity to a questionable secondary.

The Redskins have shown the ability to run this preseason.

Bears WR Santonio Holmes is still trying to fit into a new offense.

Lions WR Golden Tate got the crowd fired up at the team’s kickoff luncheon.

Tonight’s the final chance for Packers QBs Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien to impress.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wants to see some poise from QB Christian Ponder tonight.

The Falcons have an app to allow fans get pictures with cheerleaders.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen didn’t travel to Pittsburgh with the team as his son had open-heart surgery.

Saints QB Drew Brees still has the desire to compete.

The Buccaneers’ starters won’t get much work tonight.

Taking a look at how the Cardinals’ 53-man roster might shake out.

Rams WR Chris Givens can feel QB Sam Bradford’s pain.

Rookie LB Aaron Lynch has a lot to prove to the 49ers tonight.

Seahawks QB Terrelle Pryor will be ready to see the Raiders again.

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Wes Welker cleared to travel, not to play

Welker AP

As Broncos receiver Wes Welker recovers from a third concussion in his last 10 games, Welker has received medical clearance to travel to Dallas for the preseason finale against the Cowboys.

According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Welker has not yet been cleared to play.

While the news constitutes tangible proof that Welker isn’t presently debilitated by his most recent brain injury, any doctor who signs off on Welker returning to action must be comfortable with the risk that the next concussion will be the one from which Welker doesn’t quickly and normally recover.  Though his total career concussions aren’t known because he spent plenty of time playing in the days of the how-many-fingers-two-you’re-good protocol, Welker could be on a path that results in concussions happening much more easily, and lingering much longer, given his history.

So at what point do the doctors operate like a boxing referee and stop the fight?  On one hand, Welker and any player should be permitted to accept whatever risk he consciously understands and chooses to embrace.  On the other hand, at a certain point a player must be protected from himself.

With each additional concussion, Welker gets closer and closer to that moment.

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Jets QB coach: Geno Smith’s made big improvement in ball security

New York Giants v New York Jets Getty Images

Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback for the Jets against the Raiders in the season opener, but he’s not guaranteed all that much beyond that if he doesn’t show clear improvement over his rookie season.

Quarterbacks coach David Lee thinks that Smith has already showed real progress in one area. Lee said Smith had a tendency to “go off the reservation” last year, but has reined things in as he’s become more comfortable in the offense. As a result, Smith is showing an increased ability to hang onto the ball heading into his second NFL season.

“That’s probably been the No. 1 most encouraging thing, is he’s secured the ball in the pocket,” Lee said, via the Newark Star-Ledger. “He’s had two hands on the ball, he’s working with two hands on the ball as he’s escaping the pocket and moving and sliding. Just his ball security has been a gigantic [improvement]. And that’ll be the biggest turnaround thing for us, if he just takes care of the ball and doesn’t get it knocked loose. So that’s a good observation. That’s the big thing he’s improved.”

Smith turned the ball over 25 times last season, but only two of them came in the final four weeks of the regular season and he’s thrown one interception this preseason. Keeping that up would be a major plus for both the offense and the defense, to say nothing of Smith’s chances of remaining the starter ahead of Michael Vick for the entire season.

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Report: Tom Brady was “very upset” with Logan Mankins deal

New York Jets v New England Patriots Getty Images

Over the years, Tom Brady has taken less money than he could have made, in order to keep trusted parts around him.

And he didn’t say much about it in the past, as he was left with a bunch of receivers who remember watching him as kids.

But this time might be different.

According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, Brady was “very upset” with the trade of Logan Mankins, adding that “he was not happy with the move.”

Trading Mankins to the Buccaneers was a completely mercenary move, after asking the Pro Bowl guard to take a pay cut before shipping him out.

And that’s all within the realm of doing business, until it infringes on the trust Brady has put in the team by working his numbers around those of others.

As we mentioned earlier this week, if this is the real Patriot Way, then it’s inevitable that one day Brady will be in this situation.

After watching all the receivers he knew leave town, and now one of his most trusted blockers, Brady is well within his rights to wonder how the team is better now than it was before the trade for a fourth-round pick and a spare tight end.

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Colin Kaepernick still trying to figure Stevie Johnson out

steviejohnson AP

New 49ers receiver Stevie Johnson hasn’t done much of anything this preseason, catching just two passes for 11 yards in three games. Colin Kaepernick says that’s because he can’t always find Johnson on the field.

According to Kaepernick, Johnson doesn’t always run routes the way Kaepernick is expecting, and that means Kaepernick doesn’t necessarily see Johnson get open.

“There are times that he’s going to make a move on a DB, and you have to be ready because he’s also making a move that you have to see,” Kaepernick said, via the Sacramento Bee. “So I think that’s something where it took a little bit longer just to get used to his body language because he had some unorthodox things that he does. But ultimately his separation is there, he’s getting open.”

Johnson acknowledged that his playing style can be hard for a quarterback to figure out.

“I’ve pretty much taken it upon myself to be unorthodox to make up for some things that other receivers have – you know, speed and quickness,” Johnson said. “I set up my routes a little different. It’s a gift and a curse. Because it can take some time to build chemistry with quarterbacks. But at the same time, the gift is that you know you can get open.”

It doesn’t do the 49ers much good for Johnson to get open if Kaepernick can’t find him. If Johnson is going to help the 49ers win, the two of them need to get on the same page in a hurry.

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Jon Beason, over food poisoning, close to a return

Taye Diggs, Jon Beason AP

Giants linebacker Jon Beason has always been a guy who’d leave everything on the field.

But as he comes back from a offseason toe problem, he didn’t have a lot to give last week.

According to Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News, Beason struggled with a bout of food poisoning last week that slowed his ability to rehab.

I was sick last week,” Beason said. “I got a little food poisoning. I was under the weather. I couldn’t train. I was feverish.”

He’s better now, and doing more change-of-direction drills to make sure his toe allows him to play. He said he’s still pointing to the regular season opener against the Lions, and expecting to play.

“I’m looking to come off PUP in the next couple days,” Beason said. “I’m doing everything to make sure my conditioning is up to par.

“I feel good. I feel confident that I will be able to go out and contribute on Sept. 8.”

Being able to keep food down between now and then will help, but getting Beason back on the field will help the Giants shore up a defense that’s going to have to perform this year.

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Kansas City Chiefs team bus involved in accident in Wisconsin

Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs arrived in Wisconsin on Wednesday ahead of their preseason finale with the Green Bay Packers Thursday night.

However, they ran into an issue on their way to the team hotel.

According to the Associated Press, a vehicle containing two adults and three children entered an intersection and collided with one of the Chiefs’ five buses that were transporting them from the airport to the hotel.

The Outagamie County sheriff’s office was providing the caravan of buses with an escort when the bus was struck. One of the children in the car suffered a minor cut to their head and were taken to a hospital for treatment.

No one from the Chiefs was hurt in the incident.

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Bruce Arians says Darnell Dockett’s surgery “went great”

Carolina Panthers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals lost defensive tackle Darnell Dockett for the season when he tore his ACL in practice two weeks ago.

While Dockett won’t be available to Arizona this season, the first stage of his recovery appears to have gone to plan.

According to Josh Wienfuss of ESPN.com, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday that Dockett’s surgery “went great.”

“He was in really good spirits,” Arians said. “Texted him back and forth, and he’s anxious to get back.”

The surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews. He is expected to return to Arizona after spending the next five days in Florida and is expected to remain with the team throughout his rehab. Arians wants Dockett to have a presence in the locker room and on the sidelines during games despite not being able to participate.

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Derek Carr gets a final opportunity to steal the Week One job

Carr Getty Images

None of the three first-round quarterbacks will be starting in Week One. But the first of the second-round quarterbacks could end up winning the gig in Oakland.

Derek Carr has one last chance, via the fourth game of the preseason, to make a case that he should get the chance to lead the Raiders into a minefield masquerading as a regular-season schedule.

“The more that I can be out there, the happier I’ll be,” Carr said, via Jerry McDonald of InsideBayArea.com. “That’s why we work so hard in the offseason. That’s why you spend so many hours here before anyone’s here. That’s why you do all those things, because you want to go out there and help the team win and I’m looking forward to it.”

With starter Matt Schaub dealing with a bad elbow and still-bruised psyche, Carr could with a strong showing against Seattle swipe the starting job.

“I’ve said it from Day One, the guy’s comfortable in the huddle,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “The game’s not too big for him. I still believe he sees the field very well. I don’t think the game’s too fast for him, which a lot of times is a concern with a rookie quarterback.”

Ultimately, Carr could be the first rookie quarterback to start, joining his older brother David as rookies who lined up under center to launch their rookie seasons.

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Julius Thomas thinks emphasis on defensive fouls could pump up his numbers

Thomas AP

Last year, Julius Thomas set the Broncos’ single-season record for receiving touchdowns by a tight end, with 12.  This year, he doesn’t have a specific goal to beat that. 

Generally, however, he realizes that his numbers could be even better, thanks to the renewed emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding.

Thomas addressed that and other topics during a recent visit with PFT Live.  The first subject?  Whether he thinks the NFL should outlaw Peyton Manning’s Rocky Top dance.

Thomas also identifies a guy on each side of the ball who could be due for a breakout year, like Thomas had a year ago.

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Vick, Cooper are “all good” after offseason snub

rs_560x415-130731200656-1024.VickCooper.ms.073113_copy AP

As the Jets prepare to end the preseason with a low-travel-cost trip to Philly, Mike Vick will return to the place where he spent five NFL seasons.  He recently told Ian O’Connor of ESPN New York that Vick’s proudest moment as a professional athlete came with the Eagles a year ago, when he defused the Riley Cooper situation.

Specifically, Vick stood up for and spoke out on behalf of Cooper, after he was caught on camera using a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert.

Guys were mad at me for a while,” Vick said of his Eagles teammates.  “They were upset with me for a day or two, like six or seven guys who were just like, ‘Really, how could you do that?’ And then I’m getting phone calls from people everywhere, and my Twitter page is kind of in an uproar. But I took that stand for him, man, and I just hope at the end of the day that he appreciates that.

“I just hope he’s [appreciative] of my boldness to step out in front of the world and say what I said, and he appreciates what I did and understands the magnitude of it, because nobody else was going to step up and say anything. I could’ve said the same thing that 25 of my teammates were saying, and there was built-up anger.”

Some apparent anger built up for Vick in the offseason, after Cooper signed a new contract to stay in Philly, thanks in large part to the fact that Vick helped take the sting out of Cooper’s comments.

“A couple of things transpired since [the incident] that I dislike, and I’ll be honest with you,” Vick told O’Connor.  “After he signed his contract, I sent him a text and I never got a text back, and that made me feel a certain type of way.  But I’m not the type of guy who holds grudges.”

If Vick were a guy who held a grudge, it’s all been resolved.  Via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, a Vick spokesman said Vick and Cooper have spoken today, and that they “are all good.”

Regardless, Vick’s comments should that the Cooper situation easily could have imploded both for the player and for the team, and that Vick had an important role in keeping it all together.

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Snyder has “started the process” of planning for a new stadium

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Despite being used only 10 times per year for NFL games (plus home postseason contests and, for some, a periodic Super Bowl), NFL stadiums become obsolete in roughly a single generation.

For Washington, where FedEx Field opened in 1997, the time is approaching for a new venue.  Owner Daniel Snyder tells CSN Washington that the team has “started the process” of planning for a new home.

“Whether it’s Washington, D.C., whether it’s another stadium in Maryland, whether it’s a stadium in Virginia, we’ve started the process,” Snyder said.  “We are going to push forward.  We’ve started meeting with architectural firms.  We are in the process of developing because it is a long term that you do it.”

Snyder says the new stadium would have a throwback look and feel.

“We’ve already seen some preliminary drawings and I’m going to be very retro with it,” Snyder said.  “It’s gonna feel like RFK.  It’s gonna move like RFK.  I love that, I actually asked architectural firms to do it and they said that they can do it.  I said that I think the lower bowl sections are going to want to rock the stadium like the old days.”

Snyder didn’t give a specific timetable for opening a new stadium, but he said,  “I’d like to see it sooner than later.”  He’d also like to see it host a fairly significant annual event.

“I think this region, not only this town, this region deserves a Super Bowl,” Snyder said.  “It ought to be here, it would be a fantastic accomplishment.  It’s the biggest sporting event in the globe.  It’s the nation’s capital, it’s a no-brainer.”

It’s also a no-brainer that, as Snyder embarks on securing partial public funding (because one of the benefits of being really rich is finding a way to get other people to pay for your stuff), he’ll need to be willing to consider trading the team name for taxpayer money and, possibly, the privilege of hosting a Super Bowl.  That way, Snyder can eventually declare victory in a debate that will end either with Snyder voluntarily changing the moniker in exchange for something tangible or involuntarily losing it, without any type of compensation.

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Titans announce extension with Jurrell Casey

Jurrell Casey, Kamerion Wimbley AP

The Titans and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey were talking about a contract extension for the last couple of months and those talks have reached a fruitful conclusion.

The Titans announced Wednesday afternoon that they have reached a multiyear deal with Casey, who is coming off a 10.5-sack season that left him as one of the most productive  pass rushers at the position. PFT has learned from Casey’s agent Drew Rosenhaus that it is a four-year extension through 2018 worth as much as $36 million with $20.5 million guaranteed. It is not known how full those guarantees are, but we do know General Manager Ruston Webster is excited that the deal is done.

“We are excited to come to an agreement on an extension with Jurrell,” Webster said, via the team. “This is something Jurrell has earned not only with his play on the field but his work ethic as well. We appreciate Jurrell’s professionalism through this process and look forward to many good years to come.”

The 2011 third-round pick was heading into the final year of his deal before reaching agreement on the extension. He’s been a starter since his rookie season, but 2013 was his breakthrough year in terms of production. The Titans made it clear on Wednesday that they expect it to be his standard moving forward. If so, they have a foundation piece for their defense for years to come.

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Cowboys claim Patriots pick Jemea Thomas off waivers

jemeathomas AP

The Patriots spent a sixth-round draft pick on defensive back Jemea Thomas this year, and Thomas was so unimpressive in training camp that he didn’t even survive the first round of roster cuts. But he’ll now get a shot in Dallas.

Thomas was claimed on waivers by the Cowboys today, a day after he was placed on waivers by the Patriots.

Thomas played both cornerback and safety at Georgia Tech and was also viewed heading into the draft as a player with the potential to be a solid contributor on special teams. He didn’t show much of anything in three months of work with New England.

But in Dallas, where they’re desperate for talent on defense, there’s a decent chance that Thomas can stick around beyond Saturday’s cut down to the 53-man roster. The Patriots saw Thomas’s talent before the draft, and the Cowboys still think he has promise, even if he couldn’t cut it in New England.

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Steelers won’t suspend post-pot arrest, this time

Steelers Getty Images

When it comes to applying and enforcing internal rules, the Steelers (like most sports teams) operate not with bright lines but a golf bag.  And they carefully select a club based on, ultimately, the overriding duty to win as many football games as possible.

That’s why it’s no surprise that the Steelers won’t be suspending running back Le’Veon Bell or LeGarrette Blount for last week’s Cheech and Chong meets Dumb and Dumber marijuana episode.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains that the Steelers won’t suspend either player.  He bases his conclusion on the plain language of the labor deal, which prohibits teams from taking matters into their own hands regarding alcohol and drug offenses.

While entirely accurate, that provision didn’t stop coach Mike Tomlin from sitting former Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes with pay in 2008, after a mid-week marijuana citation.  It also didn’t stop the Steelers from suspending former defensive lineman Alameda Ta’amu after a DUI incident.

In this case, a suspension of the two players involved would put the team in a tough spot for the regular-season opener against the Browns.  And so the discipline will be meted out in some other way, the team will defer (for a change) to the league office, and this specific incident of arguable compliance with the CBA will be forgotten the next time a guy who is less important to the cause gets in trouble and the team decides to make an example out of him.

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