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PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 13: New York Giants

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

If the NFL seeded every team one through 32 last January and had a playoff tourney, the Giants would have been a chic sleeper pick to win it all. Everyone knows New York is a serious threat no matter its seed.

Of course, there is no such 32-team tournament. Only six teams per conference make the playoffs. And in three of the last four seasons, the postseason has begun with the Giants at home.

The NFL isn’t about to open the postseason to everyone and thus devalue the regular season in the process, so it’s up to the Giants to rack up the wins necessary to get a playoff bid.

The question is, are the up to the task?

Here’s a look at the Giants as training camp approaches:

Strengths.

In Eli Manning, the Giants have a skilled, experienced, playoff-tested, durable quarterback. Think of all the teams that don’t have such stability at this key position. The Giants do, and it’s a primary reason they can’t be discounted.

Manning is surrounded by talented skill-position players. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are an elite wide receiving tandem. The depth beyond Nicks and Cruz is strong, too, with Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy and Ramses Barden also useful players.

The Giants also appear in good shape at running back, where David Wilson and Andre Brown comprise a capable tandem. New York also did well to add pass-catching tight end Brandon Myers (ex-Oakland) to replace Martellus Bennett, who signed with Chicago.

The strength of the defense is a deep defensive line led by ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul, though the latter is recovering from back surgery.

Finally, the bulk of this club’s core has at least one Super Bowl ring. The Giants have won big, and they have thrived in one of the world’s biggest media markets for close to a decade under coach Tom Coughlin. GM Jerry Reese also deserves credit — the Giants annually have a deep, talented roster.

Weaknesses.

Whether the Giants make the postseason could well come down to the play of their defense, which has been below-par of late. The Giants have ranked in the bottom half of the league in yards per game and yards per play in each of the last two seasons. In 2012, only New Orleans was worse in both categories. The Giants struggled against the run (28th in yards per carry allowed) and pass (31st in opponents’ yards per pass play) a season ago.

While the Giants are strong in the front four, their back seven isn’t as imposing. Their linebacking corps lacks a standout, and the depth is questionable, too. The Giants have a similar situation at cornerback, where Prince Amukamara and Corey Webster are the starters with Aaron Ross (back after a forgettable one-year stint in Jacksonville), Jayron Hosley and Terrell Thomas other options. Thomas is coming off his third right ACL tear, and his ability to contribute remains to be seen.

Changes.

The Giants bid adieu to the tough tailback Ahmad Bradshaw, a key part of two Super Bowl teams, leaving Wilson (5-9, 205) and Brown (6-0, 227) to carry the load in the backfield.

Wilson, the club’s 2012 first-round pick, has exceptional speed. If he continues to round out his game, he could give an already potent offense yet another boost.

“He still makes mistakes, but there has certainly been . . . some significant growth,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said of Wilson in June, according to the club. “Now until you get the pads on – and he has to show that he, as a smaller guy, can do the things necessary that other small backs in this league have done — you are still kind of holding your breath when you see him.”

Brown, who scored eight TDs in just 73 carries in 2012, would figure to be the Giants’ short-yardage, red-zone and between-the-tackles specialist.

Two notable additions on offense are Myers, who caught 79 passes for 806 yards and four TDs for Oakland in 2012; and rookie right tackle Justin Pugh, who will compete to start right off the bat.

There are numerous changes on defense. Defensive Osi Umenyiora departed for Atlanta. Mathias Kiwanuka, who started six games at strong-side linebacker for New York in 2012, could see more time at end with Umenyiora gone and Pierre-Paul coming off back surgery. The Giants also added rookie pass-rush prospect Damontre Moore in Round Three.

Two former Eagles — Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson — were added to bolster New York’s defensive tackle ranks. The Giants also added Ohio State tackle Johnathan Hankins in Round Two.

Middle linebacker Dan Connor (ex-Dallas) was added in March, effectively replacing Chase Blackburn, who signed with Carolina. The Giants also parted ways with Michael Boley, who logged multiple starts at strong- and weak-side linebacker in 2012.

Talented-but-injury-prone safety Kenny Phillips signed with the Eagles. Ryan Mundy (ex-Pittsburgh) figures to be the third safety behind starters Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown.

The Giants replaced longtime kicker Lawrence Tynes with Josh Brown, who connected on 11-of-12 field goals for Cincinnati in the 2012 regular season. In his prime, the 34-year-old Brown was regarded as one of the NFL’s best kickers, and he was sharp in his stint with the Bengals a season ago.

Position battles.

With Blackburn departing in free agency, the Giants will have a new starter at middle linebacker. Mark Herzlich, primarily a reserve in his first two NFL seasons, held the job in offseason workouts.

“He’s taken a leadership role out there and I think he has some good respect from his teammates in some of the things he’s done in the OTAs,” defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said in June, according to a transcript from the team. “Obviously, we want to find out what happens when the pads come on.”

Connor, who has 27 starts, is another option in the middle.

There may be greater uncertainty at outside linebacker, with Keith Rivers, Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger among the competitors for playing time. Per ESPNNewYork.com, Rivers and Paysinger were the starters outside in the offseason, though Williams was dealing with a knee injury. For the record, Rivers made three starts on the strong side and three on the weak side in 2012, with Williams starting two games on the strong side and one on the weak side. All three of Paysinger’s 2012 starts came at weak-side linebacker.

On offense, Pugh and veteran David Diehl will compete at right tackle. Both could potentially play guard, too. Also, how the Giants divide carries between Wilson and Brown will be closely watched by fans and fantasy-football players alike.

Prospects

The Giants lost their final four road games of 2012. Similar struggles away from home to begin this season would be very problematic for New York, which starts the 2013 campaign with three-of-four on the road, including the season-opener at Dallas. Overall, five of the Giants’ first eight contests before their Week Nine bye are away from MetLife Stadium.

After the bye, the Giants have three straight home games, with the Nov. 17 prime-time meeting vs. Green Bay perhaps the biggest challenge.

Nevertheless, all of that home cooking presents a big opportunity for Coughlin’s club. The Giants — like every other team in the competitive East — need to get their wins when they can. The division hasn’t produced multiple playoff teams since 2009.

Should the Giants get back to the postseason, there will be no doubting their readiness for the rigors of January. The NFC East is tough. And it will also take its toll, too, as the Giants, 9-9 in division play the last three seasons, too well know. To get to January, New York needs to slog through the schedule that encompasses the kids going back to school, the leaves turning colors and all of that holiday music on the radio.

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John Harbaugh joins “Cradle of Coaches”

Harbaugh AP

Last year, Ravens coach John Harbaugh won a Super Bowl.  This year, he secured something even more rare.

On Friday, a statue was unveiled in his honor at Miami of Ohio’s “Cradle of Coaches,” a bronze gallery of tributes to coaching legends who played college football at the school.

“There’s nothing like the Cradle of Coaches.  I don’t think there’s a bigger honor in coaching,” Harbaugh said, via the team’s official website.   “People may not understand that, but once you take a look at it, it means a lot.”

The Ravens’ website has video of the unveiling, which fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) wasn’t disrupted by Mr. T.

The throng of 260 family members, friends, and colleagues who attended a Friday night dinner in Harbaugh’s honor included a surprise visit from John’s brother, Jim, head coach of the 49ers.

“There have been a lot of proud moments but I’ve never been more proud of him than I am today,” Jim said at the celebration.  “I always prided myself on being the tallest Harbaugh, but that all changed today when they unveiled that statue.”

John Harbaugh played college football at Miami in the early 1980s.

“I wasn’t a really good football player, but I was the best football player I could ever be,” John Harbaugh said. “And there were a lot of challenges and a lot of difficult things.  But then 10 years later, or 15 years later, or 30 years later, you have a chance to look back and you understand why you were there at that time with those people.”

Harbaugh’s likeness joins Paul Brown, Bo Schembechler, Weeb Ewbank, Earl Blaik, Carm Cozza, Paul Dietzel, Ara Parseghian and John Pont in the grove of statues outside Yager Stadium.

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Odell Beckham has visits with Eagles and Dolphins this week

Odell Beckham Jr., Taveze Calhoun AP

On Saturday, MDS passed along a report from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald regarding the Dolphins’ interest in draft-eligible wide receivers and what it might mean for Mike Wallace’s future in Miami.

One of the receivers mentioned in the report is LSU wideout Odell Beckham and the Dolphins will get some more information about Beckham this week. During an appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Saturday, Beckham said that he will be visiting with the Dolphins on Friday and Saturday as he winds up a busy week. Beckham confirmed that he will visit with the Jets on Monday and Tuesday before moving on to talk to the Eagles in the middle of the week.

“It’s been a fun process,” Beckham said. “It’s been a little tough at times to be able to catch your workouts because you’re traveling for days at a time. It’s been fun to go around and meet coaches and general managers and just be able to reach out.”

Beckham also said that he has already met with the Bills, which he called a “fun experience,” and Bengals while making the rounds of interested teams. There will likely be other interest as well as Beckham is almost certainly going to be off the board before the first round comes to an end on May 8.

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Manziel worked out for Browns Saturday, will meet with them this week

Johnny Manziel AP

It took the Browns some time to get around to checking out Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, but they’ll have plenty of information about one of the draft’s top signal callers by the end of the week.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Browns watched Manziel work out in College Station, Texas on Saturday, giving them a taste of what they missed at Manziel’s pro day earlier this offseason. Schefter also reports that Manziel will be in Cleveland for a meeting with Browns brass during the week.

Once that’s complete, the Browns will have met with and/or worked out all of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft. There have been reports that Fresno State’s Derek Carr has caught the team’s eye, but any final decision will likely have to wait until the Browns have a full picture of what Manziel brings to the table.

With the fourth and 26th picks in the first round and three more picks in the next two rounds, the Browns have plenty of options when it comes to adding a quarterback to compete with Brian Hoyer for the starting job. The audiences with Manziel should play a big role in which of those options they wind up choosing.

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Sunday morning one-liners

John Harbaugh AP

The Bills helped the United Way set new fundraising records.

What kind of impact will offensive coordinator Bill Lazor have on the Dolphins?

Cracking the Patriots roster won’t be easy for rookies.

Said Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson, “We finished 8-8. People expected us to finish worse than that, so we exceeded their expectations but not ours. It was a good way to finish the season but hopefully we’ll roll it over into the upcoming season.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was overwhelmed by a statue of him going up at Miami (Ohio) University.

Coley Harvey of ESPN.com doesn’t think the Bengals should take a quarterback in the first few rounds.

Digging into the Browns’ reported love for Fresno State QB Derek Carr.

He won’t make it to the 15th pick, but the Steelers could use Texas A&M WR Mike Evans.

Injuries were a big factor for the Texans last season.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off played a role in former Colts OL Ryan Diem’s NFL career.

Jaguars LS Carson Tinker has written a book about his experience when tornadoes hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama while he was in college.

Mulling a trade down the draft board for the Titans.

Mike Klis of the Denver Post reveals a reason why the Broncos shouldn’t trade out of the 31st overall pick.

Will the Chiefs draft a quarterback this year?

Raiders T Austin Howard lands on this list of players overpaid in free agency.

There are 52 Pro Bowlers on the Chargers’ schedule in 2014.

What will the Cowboys be looking at when they settle on their draft picks?

Running through some of Giants General Manager Jerry Reese’s greatest hits.

A look at some linebackers that might interest the Eagles in the draft.

Former Redskins RB John Riggins gets busy in the kitchen.

Safety continues to look like the Bears’ biggest remaining need.

An argument in favor of the Lions trading back in the first round.

The Packers’ Tailgate Tour returned to Lambeau Field.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson shares some thoughts on the team’s future at quarterback.

The Falcons might be able to use Missouri DE Kony Ealy, but they’re unlikely to land him in the draft.

Some Panthers draft questions and answers.

Looking ahead to the release of the Saints schedule.

Buccaneers DE Michael Johnson has been watching tape of Simeon Rice.

Colorado State C Weston Richburg drove home to Texas after a meeting with the Cardinals in Arizona.

It looks like the Rams will be drafting a quarterback at some point next month.

49ers fans want the color of seats on BART trains to change to something less reminiscent of Seahawks colors.

CB Dwayne Harper ranks No. 19 on this list of the best Seahawks draft picks of all time.

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Nick Foles on DeSean Jackson: It’s surprising, but it’s a business

DeSean Jackson

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles didn’t expect to lose his No. 1 receiver, DeSean Jackson, and didn’t see it coming before the Eagles sent Jackson packing.

You know, it’s surprising,” Foles told CSNPhilly.com. “But at the same time, you learn that it’s a business. It’s a tough business, at times. We develop a lot of friendships on a team and I’ve had many of my close teammates let go. It’s very tough, but at the same time, you know it’s part of the game, part of the business.”

Despite talk that Jackson was a trouble maker in the locker room, Foles said he never saw any of that.

“He was a great teammate to me,” Foles said. “We had a great relationship on and off the field. Everybody has other things going on, but to me personally, I really enjoyed playing with him and I’m excited that he landed on his feet. He’s a heck of a player.”

Now he’ll be a heck of a player for Philadelphia’s NFC East rival in Washington.

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Warren Moon: Johnny Manziel has to adjust his game in the NFL

Johnny Manziel AP

Warren Moon is a fan of Johnny Manziel’s skill set.

However, Moon does have a few reservations about the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.

In an interview with Alex Marvez and Zig Fracassi on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Moon said the 6-foot, 207-pound Manziel must avoid seeking contact as much as he did on the college level. Moreover, Manziel also must prove he can regularly operate from the pocket, according to the Hall of Fame quarterback.

“Well, he’s one of the most exciting players to play college football, no question about it,” Moon said of Manziel. “He’s a risk taker, and he gets away with a lot of those things.

“I just think in the NFL, some of those things, he’s going to have to take out of his game. He just won’t be able to get away with some of those things that he did in college football, especially taking on people, being as physical as he likes to play the game. I don’t think you can do that in the NFL or you won’t be available for your football team.

“So if he changes a lot of those things out of his game, those are the things that made him special. Now all of a sudden he becomes a pocket passer. Can he do that on a consistent basis? That’s something I’m really not comfortable with right now. I’d have to see him do a little bit more of that.

“But no question about it, he’s an exciting football player that brings some very exciting athleticism to the position.”

Moon praised Manziel’s approach to the predraft process, noting that the former Texas A&M star has focused upon his craft.

Nevertheless, Moon still isn’t sure if Manziel’s collegiate production will translate to the NFL.

“He’s doing all the things right to move himself up in the draft, but still, what makes Johnny Manziel ‘Johnny’ is those special, magical plays that he makes, and I just don’t know if there’s going to be as many of those when you’re playing against the talent that he’s playing against in the NFL,” Moon said.

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Dolphins’ interest in receivers raises questions about Wallace’s future

Mike Wallace

The Dolphins have denied reports that they want to trade wide receiver Mike Wallace, and it appears highly unlikely that Wallace will play anywhere other than Miami this season. But there are big questions about whether Wallace has a future in Miami beyond 2014.

The latest question comes from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who reports that the Dolphins are closely scrutinizing several receivers they could take in the first or second round, including LSU’s Odell Beckham, USC’s Marqise Lee, Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin. Jackson adds that “if the Dolphins do add a receiver in the first three rounds, it will raise questions about their intentions with Wallace in 2015 and beyond.”

The reality is that Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey probably doesn’t have any intentions with Wallace in 2015 and beyond. Hickey wasn’t in Miami when former G.M. Jeff Ireland signed Wallace, and Hickey probably thinks what most people think, which is that Ireland overpaid to acquire Wallace last year.

The Dolphins won’t trade Wallace not because they don’t want to, but because his contract makes it all but impossible. First, Miami would take an immediate cap charge of $8.8 million if Wallace is traded before June 1. Secondly, any team that trades for Wallace would be taking on his fully guaranteed salary of $15 million this season. That’s not going to happen.

So don’t be surprised if Hickey drafts a receiver this year who could replace Wallace as Miami’s No. 1 receiver next year.

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Jim Kelly returns to Buffalo, will continue treatment

Jim Kelly AP

Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly has returned to the Buffalo area to continue to be treated for sinus cancer, his brother, Dan Kelly, said today, according to multiple reports.

“Jim’s coming back, and he wants to fight cancer here in Buffalo. He will be continuing all his treatments here in Buffalo,” Dan Kelly said on Saturday, according to the Buffalo News.

According to the News, Kelly arrived in Buffalo on Saturday.

Kelly reportedly began chemotherapy treatments about two weeks ago. He had been receiving treatment in New York City.

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Report: Loucheiz Purifoy was caught with drugs, avoided arrest

loucheizpurifoy AP

Loucheiz Purifoy, a former Florida cornerback who is expected to be drafted next month, reportedly was caught with drugs last month and avoided arrest by agreeing to work as a police informant.

Now the matter of how Purifoy avoided arrest is the subject of an investigation. The Gainesville Sun reports that Purifoy never made himself available to officers to serve as an informant, so the Alachua County sheriff, whose officers originally stopped Purifoy, has asked the Gainesville Police Department to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.

According to the report, Purifoy was caught with marijuana and the synthetic drug known as bath salts. Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell wrote in a letter to Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones that after Purifoy failed to act as an informant an arrest warrant issued for him was quashed, and now the matter needs to be investigated.

“Based on probable cause developed by the deputy, an arrest warrant was issued for Loucheiz Purifoy for April 4, 2014, after he failed to fulfill his end of the bargain,” Darnell wrote. “The action to quash the warrant is highly unusual and, as a result, I have numerous questions as to the propriety of how this occurred.”

Purifoy was previously arrested for marijuana possession in February of 2013, and the Gators suspended him for the first game of the season. If he can stay out of trouble off the field, Purifoy has the talent to be a major contributor in the NFL: At Florida he was a starting cornerback, played a little wide receiver and was outstanding on special teams as a returner, on kick coverage and in blocking kicks.

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Tom Savage will not attend the draft

Tom Savage AP

Former Pitt quarterback Tom Savage has quickly gone from an unknown to a hot prospect, to the point where he received an invitation to attend the NFL draft. But Savage won’t be there.

Savage has declined his invitation and will not attend the draft, Josina Anderson of ESPN reports.

Just a few weeks ago, no one would have even expected Savage to get an invitation. But the buzz around the league suggests that NFL teams are growing so enamored with Savage’s size and arm strength that some teams may think he’s worth a first-round pick.

Savage started as a true freshman at Rutgers in 2009 and showed a lot of promise, but he suffered a hand injury and lost his starting job in 2010, transferred to Arizona and then transferred again when new coach Rich Rodriguez implemented an offense that didn’t play to his strengths. At Pittsburgh in 2013, he completed 61.2 percent of his passes, threw for 2,958 yards and had 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Moving around so much makes Savage one of the toughest prospects in the draft to evaluate, but some people think he’s going to hear Roger Goodell call his name early.

When Savage does hear his name called, it will be on TV.

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Lions keep bringing in guys they can’t draft at No. 10

KHALIL MACK AP

If you assume the Lions aren’t delusional, you can also assume they want to make a move up in the draft.

Because they’re bringing in another top-five caliber prospect for a visit, when they’re picking 10th.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack is visiting the Lions next week.

Along with recent visits from South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, it’s clear the Lions aren’t limiting themselves to their present location.

Mack is viewed by many as a more natural fit in a 3-4 defense, but the Lions could use him in a Von Miller-type role as well. Or they could just be establishing a smokescreen in an effort to cut a better deal with someone in the top five.

 

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Raiders plan to cut Pryor on Monday if they can’t trade him

Terrelle Pryor

One way or another, Terrelle Pryor will no longer be an Oakland Raider by the close of business Monday.

That’s the word from Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, who reports that the Raiders will cut Pryor on Monday if they can’t trade him before then. That’s not a big surprise; it had already been clear that the Raiders have no plans for Pryor going forward, and that means it makes sense to send him packing before the start of the offseason training program.

It seems unlikely that anyone would trade for Pryor when the word is out that he’s about to be cut. Then again, he did show flashes of promise last season, and he’s only due a salary of $750,000 this year, so it’s possible that some team might think he’s worth a seventh-round pick.

Pryor is a phenomenal athlete who made some big plays last season, but those big plays were more with his feet than with his arm, and he still has a lot of work to do as a passer. If a team is willing to work with him as he develops, there’s still a chance that he’ll be a franchise quarterback. Just not in Oakland.

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Sankey knows running back position has less value in today’s NFL

Sankey AP

The ongoing devaluation of the running back position could prompt highly-talented athletes to gravitate toward other positions.  Until then, highly-talented athletes who have chosen to play running back will be relegated to making chicken salad out of their NFL prospects.

Washington running back Bishop Sankey realizes that the game is changing.  But he still embraces the challenge of playing running back at the NFL level.

“Obviously last year with there being no running back going in the first round, I think there has just been a bigger emphasis on the pass in the NFL and maybe I’m biased but I feel like running back are just as valuable as anybody else on the field especially on the offense,” Sankey told NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk this week.  “We not only contribute on the ground but we also pass protect, protect the quarterback and we can also be used as an asset out of the backfield catching the ball.

“Not only that I think a lot of running backs contribute a lot on special teams as well with kick returns, punt returns.  Not even being a returner but also blocking for those guys and it’s kind of the direction the league’s going in now, but for me it’s just like I want to go out there every time I get a chance and eliminate all the questions that the NFL coaches have and really just try and put my best foot forward to give me a good opportunity come draft day.”

This year, there likely will be no running backs taken in round one.  If given the choice between being a first-round pick or the first running back taken, Sankey would take being the first running back selected.

“I think it just speaks high if you’re the first guy to go at your position,” Sankey said.  “It speaks high of what teams think about you and the work that you’ve put in up to this point.”

While it’s highly unlikely any running back will go in the first round, Sankey has a good shot of being the first running back whose name is called.  And then he’ll get a fair chance to show what he can do in September, when his number is called.

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Northwestern union vote coming in six days

Northwestern AP

The question of whether the Northwestern football team can have a union won’t matter unless the players want a union.  The latter question will be resolved soon.

The vote will be conducted on April 25.  For the yes-or-no proposition, a simple majority wins.

As recently explained by Alejandra Cancino of the Chicago Tribune, the vote possibly will be delayed pending full resolution of the question of whether the student-athletes are also employees.  The more likely outcome will be a sealing of the ballots until the legal issue has made its way through the court system.

So it’s possible that, after months of appeals resulting in a decision that the players can have a union, the votes will be counted and it will be determined that the players choose not to unionize.

Still, a ruling permitting unionization will allow other student-athletes at other private colleges to attempt to organize.  And the mere threat of union drives should prompt the NCAA to make changes that would make players less likely to choose against a union.

Those changes could eventually impact the NFL’s free farm system in ways that could make the farm system something other than free.  Or which could prompt the NFL to launch its own developmental league.

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Saturday morning one-liners

Morris Getty Images

The Bills secured preliminary approval for a $3 million class-action settlement arising from allegations that the team’s mobile alert service sent out more texts than the recipients had agreed to receive.

RB Chris Johnson says the Jets told him Geno Smith and Mike Vick will battle it out for the quarterback job.

Count Northern Colorado QB Seth Lobato among the many signal-callers whom the Patriots have examined this year.

The Dolphins seem to have a real interest in Miami QB Stephen Morris.

Ravens DT Terrence Cody says LB Rolando McClain has “humbled himself” and is “ready to play football.”

Steelers DE Nick Williams is working his way back from a knee injury that wiped out his 2013 season.

Bengals strength coach Chip Morton is looking forward to the expansion of the weight room.

Browns QB Brian Hoyer participated in a celebrity cooking competition.

Jaguars LS Carson Tinker wrote a book about his experience in the Tuscaloosa tornado of 2011, which claimed the life of his girlfriend.

Injuries hit the Texans harder in 2013 than in 2012.

Colts DE Bjoern Werner recently visited practice at Kentucky.

Titans LB Shaun Phillips strongly prefers the 3-4 to the 4-3.

The Raiders have finalized their exhibition schedule, which includes a nationally-televised game against the Packers.

Former Chargers QB Jesse Freitas, 62, will spend up to three years in a locked mental-health facility after a history of setting fires and other crimes.

The Chiefs use iPad playbooks during the regular season; they may experiment with using them in the offseason, too.

Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio visited Oregon State practice to watch his son, Luke.

Eagles QB Nick Foles will serve as honorary captain for the home opener of the Philadelphia Soul.

Redskins WR DeSean Jackson reportedly celebrated his arrival in D.C. this week with a $20,000 bottle of champagne.  (Who says he doesn’t get it?)

Giants P Steve Weatherford accepted a high-school prom invitation via Twitter.

Cowboys fans aren’t happy that DL Jason Hatcher left for Washington.

The Vikings are kicking in another $1.2 million to get bigger and better video screens at their new stadium.

The Bears are sniffing around former Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir.

The failure of Lions DT Ndamukong Suh to show up for the offseason program is bad; the team’s apathy about his absence is worse.

Should Packers Hall of Famer Bart Starr gotten more of a chance when coaching the team?

After undergoing back surgery last August, Panthers DT Linden Gaydosh couldn’t sit for a month.

Buccaneers S Keith Tandy will host a football camp this summer in his hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a new mock draft that predicts the Falcons will trade up to No. 2 for OT Greg Robinson.

Saints CB Champ Bailey will make his public debut Tuesday at a local celebrity golf tournament.

The turf has been installed at the 49ers new stadium.

The Seahawks will be keeping a close eye on the development of RB Christine Michael this offseason.

Rams LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar calls 2013 a “wacky year.”

The new video boards being installed at the Cardinals stadium will be triple the size of the original screens.

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