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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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Bill Vinovich, Terry McAulay to referee conference title games

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 13:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys talks with referee, Bill Vinovich #52 during play against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bill Vinovich was the referee for last year’s NFC Championship Game between the Panthers and the Cardinals, neither of whom will be in the game this year after failing to make it back to the playoffs.

Vinovich will be back, however. FootballZebras.com reports that Vinovich will be the official in charge in Atlanta when the Packers and Falcons square off for the NFC crown and that Terry McAulay will handle the proceedings for the Steelers and Patriots in New England.

Vinovich also worked Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, which makes this three years in a row that he has ranked as one of the top referees in the league. Both Vinovich and McAulay will be working with different crews than they worked with in the regular season as the league puts together “all-star” crews for the postseason.

The Super Bowl referee will be one of the four officials that worked in the divisional round. Carl Cheffers, Gene Steratore, Pete Morelli and Tony Corrente handled those duties.

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Ricky Proehl urges Steve Smith to come home to be honored

ST. LOUIS - JANUARY 10:  Receiver Ricky Proehl #81 of the Carolina Panthers congratulates receiver Steve Smith #89 after Smith scored the winning touchdown in overtime against the St. Louis Rams in the NFC Divisional Playoffs on January 10, 2004 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. The Panthers defeated the Rams 29-23 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steve Smith was proud to be a Raven, and to attach himself to Baltimore for his final three seasons in the NFL.

But one of his closest friends is lobbying him to return to Charlotte, and hopes time heals the wounds that came during his messy 2014 release.

Retiring Panthers receivers coach and former teammate Ricky Proehl said he’s talked to Smith, and hopes Smith will allow himself to be honored at Bank of America Stadium someday.

“For me personally I hope it happens because I think he’s the greatest Panther to put on the uniform,” Proehl said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “He owes it to the fans and he owes it to himself,” Proehl said Tuesday. “There’s a love affair between him and the fans of the Panthers. They deserve it. That’s my opinion.”

Whether Smith shares it remains to be seen. Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman has wisely recused himself from the conversation, since his (bad) relationship with Smith is one of the few perceived hang-ups to honoring a man who broke all their records in his 13 seasons there.

But Smith’s ability to create and carry a grudge are legendary, so there’s no guarantee when or if he’d have a ceremonial retirement in the city in which he’s established his offseason home.

“I have talked to Steve. I think eventually it’ll happen,” Proehl said. “I think he wants it. I think he should do it, to be honest with you.”

Proehl stepped aside from his coaching job yesterday to spend more time watching his own sons play, and the bonds of family between the Panthers and Smith may win out — someday, when Smith himself decides it’s time.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia of the New England Patriots watches the action on the sidelines during their game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots quarterback Matt Patricia’s defense can make a statement by shutting down Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday.

Bills S Corey Graham signed because he wanted to get Buffalo to the playoffs, and he realizes he’s running out of time to make that happen.

The Dolphins may move Kiko Alonso to middle linebacker.

The Jets and G Brian Winters were eager to commit to each other on a long-term deal.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti doesn’t think his team needs a youth movement.

Is a contract extension coming for Bengals coach Marvin Lewis?

How close a look will the Browns’ coaching staff get at Clemson QB Deshaun Watson?

Steelers DB Sean Davis says he’s not scared by the big stage of the playoffs.

Brian Cushing says nothing short of the Super Bowl should be acceptable to the Texans.

Colts QB Andrew Luck isn’t even in the Pro Bowl as an alternate, at least not yet.

Tom Coughlin isn’t afraid to shake things up in Jacksonville.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey has no regrets.

It may be too early to grade the Broncos’ rookie class, seeing as QB Paxton Lynch, the most important pick, gets an Incomplete.

Chiefs QB Alex Smith is a Pro Bowler for the second time.

Here’s a look at the Raiders’ rookies’ first year.

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn says he’s ready to work.

Cowboys owner and G.M. Jerry Jones believes he’s built a team capable of winning the Super Bowl.

Giants WR Odell Beckham is getting some grief for not playing as well as other top receivers in the playoffs.

Will the Eagles be in the playoffs next year?

Bill Callahan isn’t looking to be promoted to offensive coordinator in Washington.

Bears fans are saying Jay Cutler looks out of shape in the vacation photos his wife posted online.

Lions LT Taylor Decker is getting recognition for a strong rookie season.

Vince Lombardi Jr. is selling his dad’s old stuff.

Here’s a look at the state of the Vikings’ secondary.

Atlanta is rallying around the Falcons.

The Panthers worked out former Georgia QB Aaron Murray.

The Saints’ special teams are a work in progress.

The Buccaneers improved their completion percentage this season.

If the Cardinals aren’t better than the Seahawks, at least they can take solace in being more likable.

The Rams probably aren’t sorry to see their unsuccessful offensive coordinator Rob Boras go.

San Francisco DT DeForest Buckner was recognized for a strong rookie season.

Tom Cable will remain in Seattle as offensive line coach, where he has a lot of work to do.

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Darius Slay changes his tune on Pro Bowl, now wants to go to Orlando

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Darius Slay #23 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after making a late fourth quarter interception during the annual Thanksgiving day game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on November 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Minnesota 16-13.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

A month ago, Lions cornerback Darius Slay scoffed at the Pro Bowl, called it “pointless,” and didn’t seem enthused about a trip to Orlando at all.

Now, he’s hoping for the chance at some mouse ears.

Via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Slay’s holding out hope he gets the call now. As the second alternate, someone would have to pull out for that to happen for him to have the chance.

“Of course I will,” Slay said. “That’s not even a decision.”

Currently, the four NFC cornerbacks are Richard Sherman, Xavier Rhodes, Janoris Jenkins, and Patrick Peterson. Josh Norman is thought to be the first alternate. Slay said he knows both Rhodes and Jenkins are playing in the game. But Slay said while exchanging jerseys with Sherman after their playoff loss to the Seahawks that he “said maybe he’ll try to get me in there.”

Sherman is, of course, dealing with a “significant” knee injury — not that anyone would know that from reading a Seahawks injury report — so there could be a spot open.

But in December, Slay cited the move to Orlando as part of the reason he wasn’t so enthused, saying: “I really just wanted to go to Hawaii for the free.”

Now a trip to Central Florida apparently doesn’t sound so bad, but he’d still need one more guy to pull out to make the trip a reality.

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Kiko Alonso could move from middle linebacker

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:   Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers drops a pass as  Kiko Alonso #47 of the Miami Dolphins defends during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

As a restricted free agent-to-be, linebacker Kiko Alonso’s chances of switching teams for a third straight offseason aren’t good.

Alonso may still be on the move this offseason, however. The Dolphins have considered the idea of moving Alonso away from middle linebacker and putting him on the outside as they head into the 2017 season.

The Dolphins are expected to make additions to the linebacker group in the coming months and Alonso’s ability to play in either spot on the defense gives them flexibility about what kind of players they will pursue. Newly promoted defensive coordinator Matt Burke, who was Alonso’s position coach in 2016, said the results of their shopping will play into their call with Alonso.

“It kind of goes hand and hand,” Alonso said, via the Miami Herald. “We’ll see what other type of players we bring in through free agency and the draft and where Kiko fits in. Obviously we see him as an important piece of the future. I had a great time working with him and helping him get to that point; but, we really haven’t even started to evaluate position moves, fits, schemes, all of that stuff. That’s going to be an ongoing process.”

Alonso had 115 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 15 games during his first season with the Dolphins.

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Pending free agent Danny Woodhead ahead of schedule in ACL recovery

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Running back Danny Woodhead #39 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions at Qualcomm Stadium on September 13, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s no guarantee Danny Woodhead will be with the Chargers as they make their move north.

But he is making moves.

Via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the running back is reportedly six weeks ahead of schedule in his recovery from last year’s torn ACL, and is shown in a video running and cutting.

Woodhead was lost for the season in September, and if he’s ahead of normal pace, a training camp return is realistic.

But he’s also turning 32 next week, and has finished two of the last three seasons on IR, playing just five games combined in 2014 and 2016. When well, he’s one of the better pass-catching backs in the league (he caught 81 passes and had nine combined touchdowns in 2015), so he has value.

He’s an unrestricted free agent in March, thus Team Woodhead getting the positive word out there now.

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Stanley Wilson II arrested while naked again

stanleywilson

Former Lions defensive back Stanley Wilson II has been arrested while naked, and not for the first time.

The Oregonian reports that police in Portland arrested Wilson on January 10 after finding him naked outside a stranger’s home. Wilson hasn’t posted bail and has been in jail since.

Wilson was also arrested on June 22 after a homeowner caught him trying to break into a house. The homeowner shot him and he ran off, and when the homeowner called 911, emergency personnel arrived and found Wilson outside the home, also naked. Wilson suffered only minor injuries from the gunshot.

Since that incident, Wilson has had multiple violations of his conditional release, including testing positive for methamphetamine and getting arrested for spitting at a campus safety officer. It is unclear why Wilson has been allowed to stay out of jail despite repeatedly violating the conditions of his release.

What is clear is that a person who repeatedly gets arrested naked, spits at people and tests positive for methamphetamine has a serious problem. A graduate of Stanford University, Wilson once appeared to have a promising future. But like his father, the former Bengals running back who shares his name, Wilson has a serious drug problem. Wilson’s father was once benched when a Bengals coach caught him getting high before the Super Bowl, and after drugs derailed his NFL career he spent most of his adult life in prison. We hope the younger Wilson can get the help he so obviously needs.

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Report: Kyle Shanahan “almost certain” to accept 49ers job

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 30:  Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan of the Washington Redskins looks on during the fourth quarter of their game against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on December 30, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers will have to wait a little bit longer, but it appears their search for a new head coach is winding down.

According to Mike Silver of NFL Network, Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is “almost certain” to accept the job as 49ers head coach. An ESPN report earlier on Tuesday indicated that the 49ers would be offering the job to Shanahan.

Shanahan cannot officially be offered the job until after the Falcons’ season comes to end. That could come as soon as Monday or may have to wait an additional two weeks until after Super Bowl LI. Regardless, the 49ers search for a fourth different head coach in four seasons is drawing to a conclusion.

The Falcons similarly had to wait for head coach Dan Quinn to become available following Super Bowl XLIX two years ago.

Shanahan will be available to interview again next week after the NFC Championship even if the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl. Once Shanahan is in place, the 49ers appear committed to finding a general manager candidate that can mesh well with him.

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What should Kyle Shanahan do?

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan walks on the turf before the first half of an NFL football game between the Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers, in Atlanta. Broncos general manager John Elway began his third coaching search in six seasons with a visit to Kansas City on Friday to interview Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub. Elway and his committee, which includes team president Joe Ellis and player personnel director Matt Russell, will then travel to Atlanta to meet with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan over the weekend. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File) AP

The 49ers are down to one option for their head-coaching job. So what should Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan do when he’s offered the job?

That’s the PFT Live question of the day for Wednesday.

The options are simple: Should Shanahan take the 49ers job when it’s offered or pass, waiting at least a year to become a head coach?

Answer below, drop a comment, and then tune in for the show at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio and then at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN. Guests include Broncos coach Vance Joseph and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Antonio Brown apologizes for Facebook video

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 25:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown tweeted an apology late Tuesday night for using Facebook Live to broadcast the Steelers’ locker room celebration after last Sunday’s win over the Chiefs.

The video violated league rules in addition to angering many of Brown’s teammates and showing viewers Steelers coach Mike Tomlin using obscenities in regard to the Patriots. Tomlin made clear Tuesday that the team was angry with Brown and that Brown will be punished.

“I let my emotions and genuine excitement get the best of me,” Brown wrote. “And I wanted to share that moment with our fans.

It was wrong of me to do, against team and NFL policy, and I have apologized to Coach Tomlin and my teammates for my actions. I’m sorry to them for letting it become a distraction and something that they’ve had to answer questions about while we’re preparing for a big game on Sunday.”

The Steelers play at New England Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.

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Philip Rivers reiterates that he’s fine with L.A.

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins  at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

A strange, nonsensical rumor has emerged in recent days that L.A. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers doesn’t want to play in the team’s new hometown, and that the 49ers are interested in acquiring his rights.

You know, the 49ers. The only team currently without a head coach or a General Manager.

The notion defies logic, common sense, the things Rivers said last week, and most recently something he has said on Tuesday.

Via Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Rivers said he’s fine with L.A. Acee also points out that Rivers’ current contract contains a no-trade clause.

And remember this — the contract was signed after it became apparent that the Chargers could be moving. Indeed, the four-year, $83.25 million contract deal was signed following the emergence of plenty of rumors and speculation regarding the notion that Rivers didn’t want to go to L.A. If he truly didn’t want to go, he could have refused to extend the deal. He also could have added provisions to the contract aimed at giving him extra compensation or voiding of the contract if/when relocation occurred.

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Rex Ryan ditches Bills truck wrap for Clemson magnets

monster_truck_buffalo_bills

After Rex Ryan became coach of the Bills, he bought a truck and wrapped it in Bills colors and logos. Now that he has been fired, the Bills wrap is long gone.

Via ESPN.com, Ryan was spotted driving a white truck with a couple of Clemson magnets slapped to the passenger-side doors. Ryan’s son, Seth, plays at Clemson.

Ryan hasn’t been publicly seen or heard from since getting fired and driving off in the Bills-themed truck. Many believe he’ll take a job in TV; his brother, Rob, reportedly is under consideration to become the defensive coordinator in Washington.

While it’s currently believed to be unlikely that Rex would get a third chance to coach an NFL team, he could be a successful college coach — primarily since he would likely be a very effective recruiter. He became coach of the Jets in 2009, taking them to a pair of AFC title games in his first two seasons and serving in that role through 2014. He coached the Bills for two years.

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San Diego moving companies vowing not to actually move the Chargers

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01:  A fan of the San Diego Chargers holds a sign en route to the Charger's 37-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs during their NFL game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the help of loyal Chargers fans and a website campaign, San Diego moving companies have banded together in an effort to refuse to help the Chargers physically move from San Diego to their new home in Los Angeles.

The move will go on, but the founder of the effort told USA Today that even some involved who aren’t Chargers fans view the protest as a way to stand up for their community.

“This campaign has sort of kept my hopes afloat,” Ryan Charles of HireAHelper.com said. “I’m so caught up in this right now and trying to do this for San Diegans and Chargers fans as sort of one last stand.

“I feel like I’ll only know [it’s real] when I see them take the field as the Los Angeles Chargers.”

Charles said that more than 25 San Diego-based companies and 10 from the L.A. area have united via the wewontmoveyouchargers.com website to pledge not to participate in what Charles admitted would be a very lucrative series of jobs.

“We’re continuing to add more companies every hour,” Charles said. “We’re still actively calling companies, and companies are signing themselves up through the link on that site. So yeah, I think it’s definitely had an impact.”

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Chris Hogan “feeling good” after injuring thigh

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots reacts in the first half against the Houston Texans  during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan had four catches for 95 yards in two-plus quarters against the Texans last Saturday night, but didn’t get a chance to build on those numbers after he hurt his thigh.

Hogan went back to the locker room and didn’t return to the 34-16 win. It doesn’t sound like he has much concern about the injury keeping him from playing against the Steelers, however.

Hogan said that he felt he could have returned to the game had the Patriots needed his services and that he’s feeling even healthier now.

“Feeling good, just had a little minor setback in the game, but I’m working back every single day and feeling better every day,” Hogan said in comments distributed by the team.

The Patriots played without Malcolm Mitchell for the second straight game as he continues to deal with a knee injury. Hogan and Julian Edelman, who had eight catches for 139 yards, were the leading receivers in the divisional round win.

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Report: Brock Olivo also a candidate for Denver special teams job

Broncos practice at Dove Valley Getty Images

The Broncos plan to interview Brock Olivo for their vacant special teams coach position, Mike Klis of News9 in Denver reported Tuesday.

A special teams standout during his four-year playing career with the Lions from 1998-2001, Olivo has spent the last three seasons as assistant special teams coach with the Chiefs and has worked under Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub, who’s considered one of the league’s best special teams coaches and was a candidate for multiple head coaching jobs.

Per a previous Klis report, the Broncos interviewed Bears assistant special teams coach Richard Hightower for the job on Monday and interviewed Greg McMahon, the former Saints special teams coach, on Tuesday.

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