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RGIII feels “comfortable” playing Week One without playing in preseason

AP

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is still shooting to be healthy enough to be on the field with his teammates when training camp gets underway in late July, but Griffin knows that there’s a possibility that his knee won’t be ready at that point.

And he knows that there’s a possibility that the knee might not be sound enough for him to play in the team’s preseason games, although that isn’t something Griffin sees as an obstacle to playing in the first week of the regular season. Griffin said last week that he doesn’t believe he needs to play in August to feel comfortable playing in September.

“I’ve thought about that and yeah, I would be comfortable with that,” Griffin said, via Mark Maske of the Washington Post. “That’s all I can say. I have no control over whether I play in the preseason or not. I would be comfortable running out of the tunnel at FedEx Field with the smoke and everything.”

Coach Mike Shanahan concurred, saying that Griffin needed to practice with the first-team offense before he could play in a game but “not necessarily against an opponent.” While we don’t doubt that’s true, it seems unlikely that this scenario would play out later this year. The Redskins’ final preseason game is August 29 and they open the regular season on September 9 against the Eagles. If Griffin’s knee isn’t sound enough for the Redskins to feel comfortable with the risk of playing him in the first game, it’s hard to imagine the situation changing enough in the intervening days for it to make sense to play him in the opener.

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Lions president asks favor of NFL schedule-makers

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The Lions lost their first five games in 2015 before winning seven of their final 11.

They started 1-3 in 2016 before winning eight of their next 12.

To say NFL schedule-makers were responsible for these slow starts would be a stretch. But in light of the arrangement of late, Lions President Rod Wood said Tuesday he’s kindly submitted a request to the powers that be before next month’s 2017 schedule release: Please, not again.

Wood told reporters he asked the NFL not to assign the Lions three road games in their first four weeks. Such has been the case the past two regular seasons.

Before that stretch, it hadn’t happened to Detroit since 2011.

The Lions went 10-6 that year, winning their first five games en route to the franchise’s first playoff berth since 1999. The results were less favorable when the schedule began the same in 2010; Detroit lost its first four games in a 6-10 year.

The Browns, Dolphins, Rams and Raiders are the only other clubs who began 2016 with three of four games on the road.

Only the Lions were doing so for a consecutive year.

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Goodell doesn’t think Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seemed shocked by the simple suggestion that such a thing could be possible.

When asked directly at the end of the league’s owners meetings if he thought former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was being blackballed for last year’s political protests, Goodell said he saw no evidence of that.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said. “My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams.

“But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Of course, if there was an active collusion happening, it’s unlikely they’d have held a committee meeting on the topic and read the minutes to Goodell to make sure he was caught up.

But a guy that teams wanted to trade for a year ago (namely the Broncos) suddenly can’t find a home as a free agent. The reports that he’s asking for too much money and a starting job have been refuted, leaving many to wonder if there’s not a bigger issue — even if the commissioner sees no evidence of it.

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Roger Goodell says he will attend regular season opener in New England

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It has become customary in the NFL for the first game of the regular season to be hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion. It is also customary that Commissioner Roger Goodell personally attends the first game of the season.

It just so happens that game will be in New England this year, which is a place Goodell has seemingly avoided at all costs since Deflategate began during the 2014 postseason.

But just like Goodell was forced to present Patriots owner Robert Kraft with the Lombardi Trophy in February in Houston, Goodell said Tuesday at the league meetings in Phoenix that he will be attending the season opener.

“I plan to be at the kickoff game,” Goodell said.

Goodell has reportedly not attended a game in New England since the AFC Championship in 2014 that sparked the Deflategate controversy. Goodell’s postseason appearances last year came in Atlanta for their Divisional Round game against the Seahawks and NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.

That New England drought is now set to end on Sept. 7 with the Patriots home opener.

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Roger Goodell: Discussion of celebration rules tabled

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The NFL cleaned up some rules changes already today, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he wanted to get more information before proceeding on modifications to the league’s celebration rules.

Goodell said he asked owners to table the proposal to loosen the league’s collective ties, saying he wanted to talk to more players before any changes are made.

A vote could still be taken at their May meeting, but Goodell said he needed time to gain “clarity” to the rule, and allow players “more ability to express themselves” while maintaining order and decorum.

While the simple act of letting players have a bit more freedom on the field is nice, reaching across the aisle and getting input from players on any topic is an important step. Along with this week’s ban on leaping over the line of scrimmage on kicks (which was suggested by the NFLPA), there’s at least some notion that the league is willing to work with labor. That’s not an insignificant thing.

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Jerry Jones: Tony Romo has options, we’ll know by training camp

AP

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested today that it could be four months before Tony Romo’s future is clear.

Asked today at the league meeting when he’ll know Romo’s status for the 2017 season, Jones said a decision would be made by training camp.

The option that was once seen as most likely was the Cowboys releasing Romo and letting him decide for himself what to do next. But it now seems that the Cowboys want to hold onto him, potentially to find a trading partner.

Jones also said he and Romo have spoken recently, that they’re doing great, and that Romo has “a lot of options.” That would seem to suggest that one option Romo is considering is retiring and moving on to a television job. That might be the option Jones likes best: Jones has always loved Romo and would probably rather see him retire a Cowboy.

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NFL offering research to help find safer and position-specific helmets

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The NFL isn’t trying to get into the helmet business. But they are willing to share their concussion research with manufacturers in an effort to end up with better helmets.

NFL executive vice president of health and safety policy Jeff Miller brought Dr. Jeff Crandall, the chairman of the league’s head neck and spine engineering subcommittee to meet with reporters Tuesday at the owners meeting. And while Crandall said the science is still a few years away, the eventual benefit could be position-specific helmets in hopes of reducing the chances of concussions.

Crandall said that since different position groups already wear unique cleats or shoulder pads for the specific demands of the jobs, customizing helmets is a logical next step.

“We know that players in different positions receive different types of severity and frequency of impacts,” Crandall said. “So we think a position-specific helmet makes sense.”

For instance, linemen tend to receive lower severity hits to the head at a higher frequency than skill position players, the result of banging into each other on every snap as opposed to taking high-speed hits in the open field. So focusing the protection at the front of the helmet would be a more effective way to protect linemen.

Crandall, the director of the Center for Applied Biomechanics at the University of Virginia, said the first step is coming up with a reliable sensor to detect impacts, and the hope is that one can be found by 2018 or 2019. If that can be found, they’re willing to share the research with manufacturers, in hopes of such helmets being available by 2020.

Miller also reiterated that concussion rates were down 8.7 percent during the 2016 regular season, and down around 10 percent when you include the preseason. They also noted that there has been a 40 percent reduction in concussions suffered from helmet-to-helmet hits, which they see as evidence that rules changes are helping make the game safer. Of course, that means more concussions are coming from helmet-to-body contact, but the league hopes their research efforts can help lead to better equipment.

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Jason Garrett: Nothing has changed with Tony Romo

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The Cowboys are still holding onto Tony Romo, weeks after they were reportedly set to release him, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said today that “nothing has really changed since the end of the season.”

Romo is keeping a low profile, but reports are starting to surface that he’s unhappy with the Cowboys, who have made Dak Prescott the starting quarterback. There have also been reports that Romo might quit playing entirely and take a television job.

With Romo’s $14 million salary this season, it seems unlikely the Cowboys would keep him around as Prescott’s backup. And Romo might just decide not to play at all if he’s not going to be a starter. But it could be months before we get any clarity about Romo’s situation. For now, Garrett says, the situation is the same as it was before: Romo is on the Cowboys, as Prescott’s backup.

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Cowboys extend all 3 coordinators’ contracts

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You get an extension.

You get an extension.

And you get an extension.

The Cowboys saw to it that all three coordinators’ contracts were extended before players convene in April for voluntary workouts. ESPN’s Todd Archer reported Tuesday that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia signed off on their agreements.

Linehan and Marinelli were entering the final year of their respective deals, per Archer.

It is unclear by how many years each coach’s contract was extended.

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Eagles kick tires on CB Patrick Robinson

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Cornerback Patrick Robinson must prove he can stay healthy before seeing another large contract.

The Eagles are providing him that chance.

Robinson agreed to a one-year deal Tuesday, the team announced. He joins Philadelphia following an injury-marred year in Indianapolis, hence his contract being of the “prove it” variety worth the veteran minimum, a source confirmed to Pro Football Talk.

The Colts signed Robinson in 2016 to a three-year, $13.5 million contract following a 16-game campaign in San Diego.

But he played only seven games, suffering a concussion in the season opener and later a groin injury that landed him on injured reserve. He has been diagnosed with multiple concussions during the past two years.

Robinson, 29, arguably was the Chargers’ most valuable off-season acquisition in 2015. He similarly arrived there on a one-year deal and showcased the versatility to contribute outside and in the nickel. He finished with 59 tackles and an interception.

In 2010, the Saints drafted Robinson in the first round out of Florida State.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first reported the contract is worth $1 million. Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice first reported a deal was imminent.

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Vikings begin push to put Jim Marshall in Canton

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The Vikings hope that a player who once ran the wrong way with the football will end up running right into Canton.

Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf told PFT Live on Tuesday that the team has embarked on an effort to get defensive end Jim Marshall, a key member of the Purple People Eaters, into the Hall of Fame. Marshall would be eligible for consideration by the Senior Committee.

A fourth-round pick of the Browns in 1960, Marshall spent 1961 through 1979 with the Vikings, appearing in 282 straight games with 270 consecutive starts. He still holds the career record for the recovery of opponents’ fumbles with 29.

Marshall, 79, also appeared in four Super Bowls with the Vikings. Fellow Vikings defensive linemen Alan Page and Carl Eller previously made it to Canton.

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Giants coach on Adrian Peterson: “Never say never”

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The Giants were one of the first teams Adrian Peterson started flirting with, even before the Vikings let him go.

And it appears there’s at least some interest on their part.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo was asked specifically Tuesday whether they’d have interest in adding the 32-year-old running back, and he replied directly: “Never say never.”

He also said that despite his age and the fact he’s had one healthy season in the last three years, he thinks Peterson has the ability to help a team.

“He’s a guy who’s a very talented player, and he has a chip on his shoulder,” McAdoo said. “And if he can stay healthy he has a lot to offer.”

The Giants could clearly use someone who is an every-down back, as their depth chart consists mostly of complementary backs such as Shane Vereen and Shaun Draughn and 2016 fifth-rounder Paul Perkins.

Whether that guy is Peterson remains to be seen, but McAdoo’s response did nothing to stop the speculation linking them.

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Ex-Bengal Rey Maualuga set to visit Chiefs

AP

Rey Maualuga just hit the market this past weekend.

He didn’t have to wait long to receive some interest.

The former Bengals linebacker is scheduled to visit the Chiefs on Thursday, according to the Kansas City Star’s Terez Paylor. Cincinnati released the 30-year-old on Saturday, one week after it agreed to terms with ex-Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter.

Maualuga made a career-low six starts in 2016.

He played in 14 games but saw 326 defensive snaps, finishing with 27 tackles and an interception. The former USC standout has spent all eight seasons of his NFL career with the Bengals.

It was time to move on.

Kansas City is an option.

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Hue Jackson rules out trading No. 1 pick for QB

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Strategically, it makes little sense for a team with the No. 1 overall draft pick — or any pick, for that matter — to eliminate the possibility of a trade. A club never knows what offer sheets may become available before the draft or even while on the clock, so it is best to stay open to all outcomes.

On Tuesday, Browns coach Hue Jackson didn’t eliminate every trade option with his top pick.

He did, however, rule out one.

Cleveland will not be swapping out its No. 1 choice to address its infamous quarterback situation, Jackson told reporters in Phoenix. He also spoke glowingly about the prospect expected to go first overall, reportedly calling former Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett a “tremendous player” who will “definitely be in the discussion.”

The Browns won’t pass up on Garrett, or theoretically a different prospect at No. 1, in a trade that nets them a quarterback.

“No,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I can tell you no on that one.”

Cleveland also owns the No. 12 overall draft pick on April 27.

Moving that selection for a quarterback remains on the table.

 

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Jack Del Rio doesn’t want to spend time talking about Las Vegas

AP

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio doesn’t want to spend too much time talking to his team about the franchise’s pending move to Las Vegas.

Primarily, that’s because many of the people he’d be telling it to might never get that far.

“The reality is, I’m going to go talk to guys that may never make it, that won’t make it to Las Vegas, about Las Vegas,” Del Rio said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com.

Of course, that’s not going to keep players from wondering what’s next, but since the team’s going to play in Oakland for at least the next two years, it’s probably best to not invest too much time with the current roster. Only three players on the current roster are under contract through 2020, which is the year they’ll move into the new stadium there. They have options for two more years in Oakland, and owner Mark Davis said playing in their current home in 2019 remains a possibility.

“Everyone needs to understand what the landscape is,” Del Rio said. “To me, once you get that part settled, then you can settle back into you job, and what you need to do. There are wives at home right now that are asking their husbands and their husbands don’t have those answers. The first thing I want them all to know is that just remember, the 30 percent rule; 30 percent of the team changes so don’t worry about what we’re going to be doing two or three years from now. Worry about taking care of your jobs now so you can be a part of that in two or three years.

“So it’s about the here and now for the actual coach, for the actual player, for the actual product we’re putting out this year. But you can’t be blind to the fact that there are families involved, there are people involved, and they need some information. And part of that will be, not yet. Not yet.”

It’s natural that players are going to wonder about their future homes, but Del Rio’s point is a valid one — if they don’t play well in Oakland the next year or two, it may not matter.

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NFL owners extend trial period for touchbacks to 25

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NFL kickoffs never will be the same.

If that wasn’t clear before Tuesday, it certainly appears so now.

Owners approved a one-year extension to a rule that temporarily was enacted in 2016, the league announced. The rule change follows what the NCAA introduced in 2012: Following a touchback, the line of scrimmage is the 25-yard line instead of the 20. Last season saw the touchback frequency spike from the 5-yard incentive, an effect the league sought in the name of player safety.

This temporary rule soon may become permanent.

Another year of similar data could do the trick.

NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino said last week that 39.3 percent of kickoffs were returned last season, the “lowest rate of return in NFL history.”

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