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Hakeem Nicks isn’t talking OTA absence or contract

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Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks made his return to the Giants for the start of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, ending an absence from offseason work just in time to avoid $66,150 in fines if he had skipped the three-day gathering this week.

Nicks offered no explanation for his absence from the team’s voluntary workouts and OTAs, saying only that the reason for staying away was not because he broke his foot during OTAs last spring. Nicks said he won’t talk about his contract, which expires after the 2013 season, and responded to a question about whether he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish by staying away by pointing out that he never said he was trying to accomplish anything.

About the only thing Nicks would grant was that he should have communicated more with coach Tom Coughlin, who expressed his disappointment with Nicks’ absence more than once  while saying he had no idea why Nicks wasn’t at practice. Nicks said he spoke to General Manager Jerry Reese about why he wasn’t with the team, but said he should have spoken to Coughlin as well.

“I feel where he was coming from,” Nicks said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “I could have done a better job of reaching out, but we finally got to talk and we got things straightened out. Coach Coughlin’s my guy, so I think that relationship can’t go sour. I should have done a better job of reaching out to him, but I’m here now.”

Absences from OTAs don’t tend to be remembered in September if the play on the field is up to the necessary level. The same should hold for Nicks and the still-absent Victor Cruz.

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Hue Jackson will determine QB competition by “feel”

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Browns coach Hue Jackson indeed said Wednesday that Cody Kessler will be the first quarterback to get first-team reps in camp. Jackson also said the other three contenders for the job will get reps, too.

So how will it all play out?

“You have to kind of do that by feel,” Jackson told reporters. “Like I said, Cody is going to walk out there first, DeShone [Kizer] is going to get reps, Brock [Osweiler] is going to get reps, and Kevin [Hogan] is going to get reps, and then as we go through the process, we will evaluate and see where we are. There will be markers as we go. There will be data that we will look at to make very important decisions as we move forward. It could change. It could not change. That is all going to play out as we go through training camp.”

This implies that it may take a while to narrow it from four to one. Which necessarily could make the guy who finishes No. 1 less prepared to start than he could be, or maybe should be. Unless the winner makes himself obvious early.

“As you start to see guys start to distance themselves, you start to move into a different direction,” Jackson said. “I think that is what was asked earlier: How will it all turn out? I can’t tell you exactly how fast it is going to happen, but I think we all know that old saying, ‘The cream kind of rises to the top.’ They will start to separate themselves as we go. As that happens, we will make that decision and make sure that guy gets enough reps to be ready to play.”

Kessler shouldn’t read much in to the fact that he’s the first one to get a chance to take the reps.

“Somebody has to walk out there first,” Jackson said. “We have made a decision that it will be Cody and we will kind of go from there. . . . He is still the guy who demonstrates knowing the offense the best. He is the guy that has played the most football for us in that group, and I think he deserves a chance to walk out there first.”

Jackson emphasized that all four players will have a chance, even though rookie DeShone Kizer gets plenty of attention.

“I know we talk about DeShone more than we do Brock [Osweiler] and more than we do Kevin [Hogan], but all four of those guys are going to have to have an opportunity to walk out there and compete because that is the right way to run this.”

Does even Osweiler, the footnote on a trade for a second-round pick, have a chance to win the job?

“Yes, he does,” Jackson said. “He is here competing. Brock did a good job in OTAs and our offseason program. He is going to walk out there and compete just like the other guys.”

In the recent PFT Live draft of quarterbacks on the hot seat, Barstool Big Cat selected the Browns quarterbacks generally. And he has a point; the guy who eventually wins the job likely also wins the right to be the first guy to lose the job, inevitably.

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Fabian Moreau will avoid NFI to start camp

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Washington will not have to place cornerback Fabian Moreau on the non-football injury list to start camp, coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday. It was good news for the third-round pick who missed all of the offseason program.

Moreau tore a pectoral muscle in pre-draft training but will start on the active list only four months after surgery.

“I think he’ll be limited,” Gruden said, via Rick Tandler of CSN. “He can do some individual stuff and walkthroughs. . . .He’ll be limited as far as contact.”

Gruden did not announce the team’s entire PUP list but confirmed safety DeAngelo Hall and outside linebacker Houston Bates will start on it. Both players are returning from torn anterior cruciate ligaments.

Gruden expects “probably a couple more” players on the list when it is announced before practice starts Thursday.

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Bills place Colt Anderson on PUP

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The Bills have placed safety Colt Anderson the physically unable to perform list, the team announced Wednesday. Anderson has a foot injury.

Anderson has played seven NFL seasons, including last season with the Bills. He re-signed with the team in January after playing in two games.

Anderson was a walk-on at the University of Montana, went undrafted and signed with the Vikings in 2009. He played four seasons (2010-13) with the Eagles, two seasons with the Colts and last season with the Bills.

In 79 games played, with seven starts, he has 102 tackles and an interception. He is more valuable as a core special teams player, with the ability to play on all the units.

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Dolphins place Reshad Jones on non-football injury list

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The Dolphins played without safety Reshad Jones for most of last season due to a shoulder injury and they’ll open up training camp without him on the field as well.

The team announced that Jones has been placed on the non-football injury list, which leaves him ineligible to practice until he’s activated. That can happen at any point during camp.

Jones’ shoulder doesn’t appear to be the issue. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Jones “tweaked something” while working out on his own ahead of camp and that he’s expected to be fine.

The Dolphins also placed wide receiver Rashawn Scott on the physically unable to perform list and tackle Avery Young on NFI. They activated running back De’Veon Smith and tackle Eric Smith from the PUP list.

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Jets claim Lucky Whitehead

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Lucky Whitehead has found his new team.

Whitehead, the receiver recently released by the Cowboys, has been claimed on waivers by the Jets. The move makes some sense, as Whitehead is both young and cheap, two qualities the Jets are looking for in this rebuilding season: The 25-year-old Whitehead is playing for the league-minimum salary on the contract he signed as an undrafted rookie in 2015.

The Cowboys placed Whitehead on waivers yesterday after an odd situation in which police said he had been arrested for shoplifting, only to say later that they had actually arrested someone else who gave them Whitehead’s name. Dallas appeared ready to move on from Whitehead for both on-field and off-field reasons regardless of the facts of that case.

With the Jets, Whitehead will compete for a roster spot as both a receiver and a return man. He probably has a better chance of making the 53-man roster in New York than he did in Dallas, so getting waived at the start of camp — rather than at the end of the preseason — may turn out to be a lucky break for Whitehead.

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Bengals place DB Brandon Wilson on NFI

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The Bengals placed defensive back Brandon Wilson on the non-football injury list and running back Jarveon Williams on the physically unable to perform list, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Neither will practice with the team Friday, but the Bengals can remove them from the lists at any time.

The Bengals made Wilson a sixth-round pick after he played in the secondary and the backfield, while returning kicks at the University of Houston. He scored touchdowns in all three phases in his college career. The Bengals are listing him as a safety.

Williams was the University of Texas at San Antonio’s all-time leading rusher. He signed with the Bengals as an undrafted rookie free agent after rushing for 2,393 yards and 20 touchdowns. He had 900 yards and eight touchdowns on 207 carries last season. Williams was a returner during his first two seasons at UTSA.

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David Irving says he lost a nipple ring during practice

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Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones lost an expensive earring while jet skiing ahead of training camp, but players also lose jewelry from their body while going through practice with their teams.

That was the case for Cowboys defensive end David Irving. Irving revealed on Twitter Tuesday night that he lost a nipple ring during the day’s workout in California.

It’s not something that’s come up too often over the years in the NFL, which may explain why defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wasn’t quite sure how to react to the news of Irving’s loss.

“Oh God, seriously?” Marinelli said, via Kristi Scales of the Dallas Morning News. “What are we supposed to do? Look for it?”

Jones hired divers to look for his earring, something that Irving won’t have to do if he wants to recover his lost bauble rather than just moving on without it.

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Ricardo Allen signs his tender

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Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen signed his exclusive rights tender, the team announced Wednesday. Atlanta also announced it has waived rookie center Cam Keizur.

Allen made the transition from cornerback to free safety, becoming an entrenched starter. He played a team-high 1,101 defensive snaps last season, or 99.1 percent of the Falcons’ defensive plays. The Falcons drafted Allen as a cornerback in the fifth round in 2014. They cut him, but he returned on the practice squad and made his way to the active roster after moving to safety.

Allen has started 30 games over the past two seasons, including every game during the 2016 season. He made 90 tackles and two interceptions in the regular season and two more in the postseason.

Kaizur was an undrafted free agent from Portland State.

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Ravens confirm Kenneth Dixon out for season

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Reports on Tuesday were that Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon would miss the entire season after having surgery to repair an injured meniscus and, unfortunately for Dixon, that is the case.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh confirmed the bad news for Dixon while meeting with the media on Wednesday. There’s been no roster move to shift Dixon to injured reserve, although that will likely be coming in the near future.

Dixon also dealt with knee trouble during his rookie season while running 88 times for 342 yards and two touchdowns. He was suspended by the league for the first four games of the 2017 season for a PED policy violation.

The Ravens also officially announced the addition of Bobby Rainey to their backfield on Wednesday. Rainey joins Buck Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro and undrafted rookie Taquan Mizzell as options to join Terrance West and Danny Woodhead on the roster this season.

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Dontari Poe makes weight, will get another $125,000

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Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and their ilk may not work work everybody when it comes to losing weight, but we’re willing to bet that the Dontari Poe plan would find some success on the open market.

Finding someone to finance the venture would likely be a problem, however.

Poe had the second of four contractually mandated weigh-ins at the start of Falcons camp and the defensive tackle came in at 330 pounds or less. Poe had to be under 340 pounds during spring work to get his first $125,000 bonus, which means he is now halfway to a bonus worth $500,000.

“In talking to him, he’s under the guidelines,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said, via ESPN.com. “I’m happy for him to be at his best. I’m not surprised. This is a guy who handles … I mean, this guy is a pro. Whatever we’ve asked him to do, he’s done that.”

Poe will have his next weight check on the Monday before the Falcons’ season opener and the final one will come in early November.

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Dante Fowler says he’s “learning and growing” from mistakes

AP

The Jaguars drafted Dante Fowler to make an impact as a pass-rusher.

He’s made more on the police blotter lately, but said Wednesday he’s not going to get in any more trouble, and that he wanted to be a role model.

Fowler was arrested for simple battery and criminal mischief last week, and then we found out he had at least 10 traffic tickets in the last 20 months. That led to a hard conversation with Jaguars executive Tom Coughlin, and Fowler said he’s changed.

“I just want to let people know and everybody know that’s not me as a person,” Fowler said, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. “I’m a better person than that, and it won’t happen again.

“I told Tom that I’m sorry. I told him that I apologize. I can’t make the organization look like that and put us in situations like that. That’s not us. That’s not how we are as a team. That’s not how we are as an organization. We had a good talk. I told them from here on out, nothing else will happen.”

Fowler also met with coach Doug Marrone, but he didn’t want to delve into details about the conversation or any potential discipline.

“Any time something like that happens, no matter who it is, you’re disappointed,” Marrone said. “For me it’s a little bit bigger than that. I believe that we represent something even more so than the organization. We represent a sport, a league, so I think whenever those things happen no matter who it may be I think that it’s concerning.”

The battery charges stemmed from an incident in which Fowler reacted to a man who confronted him about his driving, and allegedly hit the man, knocked his glasses off and stepped on them, and threw his groceries in a lake..

“At the end of the day, it could have went down a totally different way,” Fowler said. “I could have [taken] the right approach. I took the wrong approach, and I realize that I’m wrong for that. Like I said, it won’t happen again.”

Fowler was also arrested in Miami Beach in March 2016 on charges of assault against a police officer/EMT and resisting arrest without violence. Those charges were dropped after a pretrial intervention. He also had to address a TMZ video which showed him refereeing a fight between his girlfriend and the mother of his child. But he insists he’s not immature.

“It’s just some things, just learning and growing,” Fowler said. “I’m a professional. People are going to push me to that point. I just have to be the bigger person and realize who I am and do that. Maturity is not a problem.

“I’m actually growing a lot, especially with this new structure [under Coughlin and Marrone] and everything like that. Starting to carve me into the person I want to be, the professional I want to be. It’s just a bump in the road that I have to get over and put past me and show you guys, show the organization, show the city, that I’m a role model and I want to go in that route and not go in another bad route.”

Of course, if Fowler’s hitting bumps in the road, the hope is he’s hitting it at or below the speed limit, and that he can be taken at his word that he’ll turn things around.

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Julio Jones hires divers to search for expensive earring lost in lake

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Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones isn’t known for dropping footballs, which has made him enough money to afford the purchase of a few extravagant items like expensive earrings to wear while jet skiing around a lake.

It also allows him to afford hiring some help when one of those earrings goes missing. Jones was on Lake Lanier in Georgia when he was thrown from his jet ski while crossing the wake of a boat and he realized that one of his diamond earrings was missing when he surfaced.

The earring, which is worth more than $100,000, remained below and Jones hired a dive team to search for it on the bottom of the lake. The bottom of the lake is some 65 feet below the surface, which the “Scubaman” of Lake Lanier Bobby Griffin — RGH2O could work if he wants another nickname — said was “pitch black,” and their efforts were unsuccessful.

“As long as I’m good, it’s materialistic stuff,” Jones said, via WXIA. “You can always get that kind of stuff back.”

Jones is now at camp with the Falcons where he and the team will try to do what they couldn’t last season and finish as the Super Bowl champions. If they do, let’s hope Jones leaves the ring at home while flying across the lake.

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Martellus Bennett had sleep over in Packers locker room

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Tight end Martellus Bennett didn’t see the ghost of Vince Lombardi or Curly Lambeau during his overnight stay at Lambeau Field.

Bennett, who signed with the Packers in the offseason, arrived from his home in Chicago late Tuesday night and found the doors to the dorm at St. Norbert College locked. So he headed to Lambeau Field, where Bennett said, on Instagram, that he slept for the night.

“Sleeping on the floor doesn’t bother me. I actually like sleeping on the floor from time to time,” Bennett said in an Instagram post.

“I hope there aren’t any ghosts hiding with the Packers though ‘cause if there are some ghosts that are going to come out in this locker room I need to get out of here.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy was unaware of Bennett’s overnight stay until reporters asked him about it.

“I was here late last night, so he must’ve come after I left,” McCarthy said, via Aaron Nagler of USA Today Network-Wisconsin. “I don’t usually check lockers for people sleeping.”

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Joe Thomas not worried about memory loss “right now”

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Joe Thomas, who has admitted some memory loss, acknowledged a concussion study released Tuesday but called it a “multi-faceted” issue.

The Browns left tackle told Graham Bensigner in an interview with In Depth in April that he was sure “the damage has already been done” to his brain from a lifetime playing football. Thomas said Wednesday, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that doctors have assured him that some of his small memory lapses are normal.

I’m not worried about it right now,” Thomas said.

He declined to say whether he has undergone additional testing since noticing some forgetfulness, such as where he put his keys.

“But for me, personally, I do monitor those things very closely,” Thomas said.

Boston University researcher Dr. Ann McKee revealed to The New York Times that 110 of 111 NFL players who donated their brains to research had C.T.E. or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the neurocognitive disease thought to be linked to repeated blows to the head. That prompted the questions to Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowler.

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Eagles cut 2014 first-round pick Marcus Smith

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Another disappointing recent acquisition is out in Philadelphia.

Marcus Smith, the Eagles’ 2014 first-round draft pick, has been cut.

The Eagles tried at times to use Smith as both a defensive end and an outside linebacker, but he just never fit in and managed just four sacks in three NFL seasons. Former Eagles coach Chip Kelly liked Smith’s talent, but the current regime in Philadelphia has had no use for him.

The Eagles declined to pick up Smith’s fifth-year option this offseason, and Smith did not participate in voluntary offseason work. So both sides seemed to understand that they wouldn’t be together much longer.

Still, the decision to cut Smith now, rather than give him one last chance to prove himself in training camp, is a surprise. The Eagles will move on and Smith will now see if some other team believes in his talent.

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