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ProFootballTalk: Cleveland Browns Mt. Rushmore

Mike Florio puts together his Browns Mt. Rushmore. The four names are: Paul Brown, Otto Graham, Lou Groza and Jim Brown. Fans agree with most of his choices, but selected Ozzie Newsome over Lou Groza.

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Bill Davis said other players made Boykin expendable

Bill Davis AP

On Sunday, Eagles coach Chip Kelly addressed the decision to trade cornerback Brandon Boykin. On Monday, Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis, who’ll have to make do without the team’s former nickel corner, talked about the decision from his own perspective.

“I think from an organizational standpoint, you make a decision and we were all part of that decision, and Boykin did give us quality starting reps,” Davis said in response to the question of why Boykin is gone, via comments distributed by the team. “But the guys behind him and the guys that replaced him were close enough in theory, because Boykin did it on Sunday. Now, Walter Thurmond has done it on Sundays, [safety Malcolm] Jenkins has done it on Sundays.  There are options there. JaCorey Shepherd has not [done it on Sundays], some of the younger guys have not. But there are enough options there to make it a good move for us as an organization.”

Davis, who said he’s a “Boykin fan,” explained that the move wasn’t a knock on the player.

“I think Boykin came out and he competed,” Davis said.  “It’s no knock on Boykin at all.  It’s a compliment to others, and it’s not [a knock on Boykin] for sure.  Obviously, it’s not.  We have to make decisions all the time and hope that it’s close enough and we’re right.  And sometimes you’re proven right, sometimes you’re proven wrong.  But, no, it’s not at all.”

Davis also addressed the vague criticisms of Kelly offered up by Boykin on his way out.

“He has got one of the most open door policies of guys I’ve been around,” Davis said. “He is wide open.  Boykin . . . went in in the offseason and he had a long talk with Chip about his role, about outside corner, about nickel. [Boykin] came into my office.  We had great conversations with Brandon about all those things.  I think Chip has one the biggest open door policies for the players, and ask the guys in the building.  He really does.  It’s really being portrayed outside different than it is inside because it really is an easy-to-be-around atmosphere.”

So why have three players now (Boykin, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson) expressed concerns about Kelly?

“I think every one of those three people need to answer their own questions,” Davis said. “I can answer from my view of being in 10 different organizations with all different head coaches, schemes, systems, and I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart this is a very great place for players. We do more for players than anything I’ve ever been around.  We do more for conditioning, their body, their health, their mental health, their growth and all parts of being a man and a player than anywhere I’ve been around.  And you can just ask the players about how much we spend time on them, on their mindset, on their moods, on how their bodies are feeling, their hydration, all of it.  I think it’s a couple isolated guys and they have to answer their own questions about that.”

There always will be isolated guys who complain. The strange thing here is that, while players get cut all the time by other coaches, rarely do players raise questions about the coach. Over the past year or so, three have taken aim at Kelly.

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NFL, NFLPA quickly accept invitation to use Magistrate Judge for settlement talks

Negotiation Getty Images

On Friday, Judge Richard M. Berman invited the NFL and NFLPA to utilize the services of Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV for assistance with settlement talks in the Tom Brady litigation. On Monday, the NFL and NFLPA wisely accepted.

Via attorney Daniel Wallach, who posted the recent docket entries on Twitter, proceedings were held before Judge Francis on Monday, via telephone conference.

Undoubtedly, Judge Francis asked for an update as to the offers exchanged by the parties to date, listened to any general comments about their positions as to the merits, and then conducted one or more individual conferences with each party in order to try to bridge the gap.

If Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s activity in the case includes another entry reflecting proceedings before Judge Francis, it will mean that the parties have kept talking. Which will mean that they had a reason to keep talking. Which will mean that they’re making progress toward a possible deal.

As noted over the weekend, Judge Francis seems determined to settle the case. The parties could avoid a potentially awkward and stressful trip to his chambers on August 12 if they can work out their differences before then.

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Ace Sanders suspended 10 games

Sanders Getty Images

Receiver Ace Sanders recently flunked a drug test.

PFT has confirmed that Sanders has been suspended for the first 10 games of the season under the substance-abuse policy. He is eligible to participate in all preseason activities, including games. His suspension becomes effective when the rosters reduce to 53 after the preseason finale.

A fourth-round pick of the Jaguars in the 2013 draft, Sanders previously was suspended four games, which happens after multiple violations of the policy. Under the old version of the policy, he would have been suspended for at least a full year.

Sanders was cut last month by Jacksonville, unclaimed on waivers, and to date unsigned. The suspension will run even if he’s not on a team. It’s unlikely that anyone will sign him until he’s reinstated.

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Eagles lose Travis Long to torn ACL for second straight year

Carolina Panthers v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles linebacker Travis Long missed the entire season last year with a torn left ACL suffered in August. And now he’ll miss his second straight season after tearing the same ACL today.

The Eagles have confirmed that Long tore his left ACL in practice again today and will not play this season.

It’s obviously devastating news for a young man who now has to to be wondering if he’ll ever get to realize his dream of playing in the NFL. And it’s bad news for the Eagles, as well. Although Long wasn’t expected to be a big part of the defense, the Eagles don’t have a lot of depth at outside linebacker and thought Long could be a contributor there, and on special teams.

Long also tore his right ACL in 2012 at Washington State.

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Mortensen talks 11-of-12 footballs report on ESPN Radio

Mort Getty Images

On Friday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen bailed on an interview with WEEI aimed at addressing the delayed firestorm regarding his report that 11 of 12 footballs used by the Patriots in the first half of the AFC Championship were two pounds under the minimum allowable inflation of 12.5 PSI. On Monday, Mort appeared on ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show to discuss the situation.

I tuned in a little late, and I plan to listen to the on-demand version and type up some of the most important responses. For now, here are the highlights based on the fastest hunting-and-pecking I could do while Mort was talking.

First, Mortensen said that he adjusted the report early on from “two pounds under” to “significantly underinflated.”

“I will never retract that,” Mortensen said of the revised report that the balls were “significantly underinflated.”  But he admitted that the two-pounds-under report was “obviously in error” and that it “technically was a mistake” to not retract it on Twitter. (The tweet still lives.)

The softened claim that the footballs were “significantly underinflated” is far more ambiguous than the hard numbers, which were generated by two air pressure gauges that varied by 0.45 PSI. It also overlooks the fact that cold weather and wet conditions will cause the PSI readings to drop.

So is it accurate to say that the footballs were “significantly underinflated”? Would it have been more accurate to say that the footballs were “underinflated”? Would it have been the most accurate to report the numbers actually measured by the two conflicting gauges?

Mortensen also pointed out that his report didn’t directly implicate Brady or the Patriots, but this explanation overlooks the importance of the original report to the story. It took what was a curiosity and converted it into a presumption that someone had tampered with the footballs, and that the only questions to be resolved were who did it and who knew about it?

If the actual numbers had been reported early on, the Patriots could have defused the bomb quickly, pointing to the discrepancy between the two gauges (which arguably is enough to justify a conclusion that the numbers are inconclusive) and explaining that one set of measurements falls squarely within the range predicted by the Ideal Gaw Law.

Mortensen also said he has recently spoken to Patriots owner Robert Kraft. While declining to delve into any details of the conversation, Mortensen said that Kraft told him, “Our fight is not with you. It’s with the NFL.”

Mort has no issue with the NFL. He said he doesn’t feel betrayed because he sought out the information.

Still, he was given false information. And even though he at some point changed the report to “significantly underinflated,” Mortensen told WEEI in January that he sought further confirmation of the accuracy of the two-pounds-under report, and that he received it.

‘Listen,’ I said, ‘is there any discrepancies in what I reported, because I want to know,’” Mortensen said at the time. “And I was just told, ‘No, you were right on.’”

Mort continues to be in a tough spot, and multiple someones at the league office owe him plenty of favors for taking the bullet on this one. And even though Mort never will give up his sources (and he shouldn’t), it would be easy for the NFL to investigate whether one or more league-office employees talked to Mortensen at or about the time of his initial report, and to find out who leaked the false information to him.

Assuming, of course, that none of the relevant persons have destroyed their cell phones.

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Jordan Cameron: I know I can be a Pro Bowl player

Brent Grimes, Jordan Cameron AP

The Dolphins made a change at tight end this offseason when they let Charles Clay go to Buffalo without matching the Bills’ offer for the restricted free agent and signed Jordan Cameron away from the Browns.

It’s a move that would have looked like an upgrade after the 2013 season. Cameron had 80 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns that year and looked like a rising star at the position. That star took on some tarnish last season as shoulder and head injuries helped limit him to just 24 catches in 10 games. The Dolphins would obviously like something closer to the 2013 numbers and Cameron says he feels capable of providing them.

“In my mind I know I can play,” Cameron said, via ESPN.com. “I know I can be a Pro Bowl player. I’m trying to help this team win. Right now I’m not going to set any goals and tell you what I’m going to do in the season. Right now I’m getting better at my craft and that’s the only thing I’m focusing on.”

Durability remains a question mark for Cameron, whose 2013 totals are more than the rest of his career combined, but he should get a boost from playing with a stable starting quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Clay was targeted frequently the last two seasons and a healthy Cameron could approach his past highs if the Dolphins continue to make the tight end a focal point after overhauling their receiving corps this offseason.

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Jury tipster had “sexually explicit relationship” with Hernandez

Hernandez Getty Images

If you thought that the situation involving former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez couldn’t get any more bizarre, you thought wrong.

Via the Boston Herald, the anonymous tipster who contacted Hernandez lawyer James Sultan had  been involved in a “sexually explicit relationship” with Hernandez, “prior to and during the trial.”

The tipster, identified in court papers as only as “Katy,” told Sultan that a juror was “untruthful” during jury selection regarding knowledge of separate murder charges pending against Hernandez.

Sultan wants to question the tipster under oath. Prosecutors oppose the effort, claiming that “Katy” had ulterior motives to make an “implausible” allegation.

If “Katy” isn’t Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, the development is awkward, to say the least. It also will invite curiosity regarding the visitation rules at the jail where Hernandez was held before and during trial.

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Broncos’ Britton Colquitt takes a pay cut, just like Peyton Manning

Britton Colquitt AP

There’s a cost that comes with doling out huge contracts to keep star players.

In Seattle, it means guys get cut. In Denver, they take pay cuts.

According to the Associated Press, Broncos punter Britton Colquitt took a $1.4 million pay cut Monday, dropping his salary from $3 million to $1.6 million.

He was once the league’s highest-paid punter, but after the Broncos signed wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to a four-year, $70 million deal, they had to start looking under the couch cushions. Of course, quarterback Peyton Manning took a $4 million haircut himsef.

I’m not mad about it,” Colquitt said . “It’s part of the business, and I’m confident in our team this year and the ability God has given me. And I feel that I’m going to have a better year than I’ve had in the past. It’s no big deal. Money’s not why I’m doing this. . . .

“I mean, Demaryius had to get taken care of somehow. Peyton took a little hit a couple months ago. So, I mean, Peyton’s a good guy to follow, a good example.”

Of course, the problem might now be that he makes less than his brother Dustin of the Chiefs, who’s making $2.95 million this year.

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Tom Brady will appear in court on the 12th

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady signs autographs during an NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) AP

It may not have been smart for Tom Brady to destroy/dismantle/whatever his phone, but he’ll be doing the smart thing next Wednesday. According to Albert Breer of NFL Media, Brady will appear in court on August 12, for the first of two settlement conferences with Judge Richard M. Berman.

Albert Breer of NFL Media, whose tweets regarding the possibility of Brady participating by phone kicked up a mini-storm of something other than sand, reports that Brady will attend in person and that “was always the plan.”

But if it was always the plan, there should have been no reason for anyone to inquire regarding the procedure for appearing by phone. And there should have been no reason for the NFLPA to explain it would “follow Brady’s guidance.”

Our guess is that the NFLPA poked around about participating by phone because Brady asked to do it that way, and that the NFLPA heard enough to reconfirm the notion that it wouldn’t have been wise to seek permission to not attend.

The wisest move would have been to not even poke around. Merely asking the question can create a question about how committed a litigant is to doing what the judge wants. The best approach in these cases always is to show a full and unconditional commitment to attend whenever and wherever the judge requests.

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Report: Star Lotulelei injury not believed to be serious

Carolina Panthers v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Panthers lost wide receiver Stephen Hill to a torn ACL over the weekend and saw a more integral part of their team need the assistance of a cart to make it back to the locker room during Monday’s practice.

Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei appeared to suffer a right foot injury during the session and was seen icing it while riding with medical personnel. Lotulelei broke a bone in his foot during a practice before the Panthers faced the Seahawks in the playoffs in January, so seeing the same part of his body receiving treatment was a reason for concern even after coach Ron Rivera said Lotulelei was sore.

“We might be being overly protective about it,” Rivera said, via the Associated Press.

Ed Werder of ESPN reports that anyone not reassured by Rivera’s words can breathe a little easier. Werder reports that the injury is “not believed” to be serious, although Lotulelei will wear a protective boot on his foot to ensure that it doesn’t get any more serious.

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Report: Matt Elam to miss entire season

Matt Elam AP

Coach John Harbaugh wasn’t optimistic about safety Matt Elam’s status after he suffered an arm injury over the weekend and it doesn’t look like Harbaugh will be having any pleasant surprises on that front.

The reports on Monday morning that the Ravens were “not counting” on having Elam on the field this season because of a torn biceps have been followed by one from Ed Werder of ESPN with a Ravens source confirming a full tear of the muscle. That means surgery and a spot on injured reserve for the third-year safety.

Elam was trying to bounce back from a 2014 season that saw him knocked out of the lineup in favor of Will Hill and the former first-round pick had drawn some good reviews from coaches after the team made it plain that it was rapidly approaching now-or-never in terms of Elam contributing to the team.

Hill and Kendrick Lewis are the expected starters at safety and the Ravens are short on experienced options behind them, which could lead them to make an addition or two as cuts start happening around the league.

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Andrew Quarless back to work after “the saddest day of my life”

Quarless Getty Images

Andrew Quarless thought this offseason was tough. Then came what he called “the saddest day of my life.”

Earlier today, the Packers tight end told reporters the reason he missed the start of training camp was because his baby daughter died during birth.

“I thank this team for the type of support they have given me to help me get through this,” he said, via Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “Just very thankful for these guys. It’s really a family in here. It’s really a family. I’m looking forward my first day getting back out there today. It felt real good. It felt real good just to get out there, catch some passes, be able to run around a little bit, kind of get back to your old self and get back into things.”

Normal has been hard to come by for him this offseason, after he was arrested in Miami for firing a gun during an incident at a parking garage. He said he talked to coach Mike McCarthy after that, and apologized for “bringing negativity to this place.”

That’s why he was hoping for another child to help bring some balance, and why it was important to him to have his 5-year-old son by his side today, saying “he was really looking forward to being a big brother.”

“It’s been a lot. It’s been a lot,” Quarless said. “As you grow older as a man, you really understand life and you really understand things. I’m so appreciative of this team. Even from the incident earlier in the month, there’s just been so much support. More than I feel like sometimes I might deserve. Just the amount of love from everybody, it’s really been good for me. It’s hard to explain how much that means to me. I’m just thankful. . . .

“Today was rough. I’m a little drained. I was drained the past couple of days. Just to get out there today, it was a great feeling. It was a great feeling being around my teammates having fun and actually smile. Actually to smile and be happy, that was good for me.”

That training camp can do that for a man who has been through that kind of trauma is amazing, as the team has become a place of refuge for Quarless at a time of such tragedy.

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Tom Brady shouldn’t ask for permission to appear in court by phone

Phone Getty Images

Happy birthday, Tom Brady. I have a present for you, on the day you turn 38.

I picked it out myself, during a search that spanned 18 years of practicing law. Based on those 18 years of practicing law, I can tell you one thing, in no uncertain terms.

Do not attempt to participate in the August 12 or August 19 settlement conferences with Judge Richard M. Berman by phone. Don’t do it. Don’t even ask for it. Get your ass to Manhattan, and make it clear to Judge Berman’s clerk that you’re happy to get your ass to Manhattan, whenever the judge wants your ass (and the rest of you) there.

Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that the parties may be able to participate in the mandatory August 12 settlement conference by phone, but that they’ll have to present a good reason for doing so. Breer separately explains that the NFL (and presumably Commissioner Roger Goodell) will be there in person. Breer also reports that the NFLPA “will follow Brady’s guidance.”

The fact that it’s the NFLPA following Brady’s guidance and not the other way around is troubling. Lawyers need their clients to buy in, completely. Clients need to be ready to do whatever the lawyers tell them to do, without hesitation.

In this case, the lawyers need to tell Brady to get his ass to Manhattan on August 12, and he needs to say, “Whatever you need, I’ll be there.”

When dealing with a federal judge, it’s important to always show a high degree of deference and respect. When dealing with a federal judge who already has made it clear that he’ll be taking control of the case and aggressively pushing it toward settlement, it becomes important to show even more deference and respect.

In this case, it means getting your ass to Manhattan on August 12, without reservation or equivocation or even exploring the possibility of phoning in. Intended or not, every word and action sends a message, and if the message is anything other than, “Whatever you need, I’ll be there,” it’s not a good message.

Does it mean Brady will lose the case if he doesn’t show up in person? No. But the mindset that has him thinking it would be a good idea to not get his ass to Manhattan could manifest itself in other ways that could end up making the judge frustrated with Brady.

At some point, Judge Berman could start to wonder whether Brady is demonstrating the sort of entitlement that helps explain why he refused to give his phone to Ted Wells, why Brady dismantled/destroyed/whatever his phone on the same day he was due to meet with Wells, and whether Brady decided he could get away with having Beavis and Butthead take the top off game balls in order to make them easier to grip.

Brady wants the judge to restore to Brady the ability to play in four regular-season games. To persuade the judge to give Brady what he wants, Brady needs to treat the judge like the Wizard of Oz.

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Haloti Ngata lands on non-football injury list

Haloti Ngata AP

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

the San Francisco 49ers play the Washington Redskins Getty Images

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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