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Richardson agrees to terms with Jets

Richardson AP

On Tuesday night, 14 first-round picks had not yet signed their rookie deals.  The number is shrinking.

Four first-rounders have agreed to terms in the past 24 hours.  The most recent is, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.

Richardson, the 13th overall pick in the draft, joins Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (No. 22), Colts defensive end Bjeorn Werner (No. 24), and Packers defensive end Datone Jones (No. 26) as players who agreed to terms on Wednesday.

Still, 10 players remain unsigned, and holdouts could happen.  Titans guard Chance Warmack, the 10th overall pick, technically becomes a holdout on Thursday, when his team has its first training-camp practice.

And, please, don’t drop a comment arguing that a player isn’t a holdout unless he’s under contract.  Whether under contract or not, he’s holding out for a better offer.

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Earl Thomas on track to play in season opener

Earl Thomas AP

Despite still wearing a red “no-contact” jersey in practice, Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas is expected to be ready to play in the team’s season opener against the St. Louis Rams.

“Earl got a lot of work this week,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s getting ready to be in shape to play for the opener. His timing is getting down, his calls, and you can see him fitting in. His intensity that he brings is starting to show up. That’s important.”

Thomas came off the Physically Unable to Perform list on August 5th but did not return to practice until last week. He’s been held out of contact drills even while practicing as the team wants to limit strain on his surgically repaired shoulder.

With Kam Chancellor’s holdout continuing with no resolution in sight, having Thomas ready for the start of the regular season will be a big boost for Seattle. If Chancellor continues his stance into the regular season, the Seahawks will have a much better of chance of weathering his absence with Thomas patrolling the middle of the field.

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Tough decisions loom as teams turn towards end of preseason, roster cuts

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There are lots of jobs to be won across the NFL over the next seven days. There are almost as many to be lost.

Roster cuts are right around the corner. So, too, is the regular season. After this weekend’s rounds of preseason games, teams will be required to cut their rosters from 90 to 75. By Sept. 5, rosters have to be at the regular-season size of 53.

Practice squads are formed following that final cut, and just about every team finds itself busy scanning the waiver wire or trying to make a trade to plug a hole or fortify a position. On Sept. 6 teams can officially designate a player on injured-reserve as designated to return and claim players waived by other teams following the end of the preseason.

The Steelers and Patriots open the 2015 season Sept. 10. Everyone else plays Sept. 13 or 14.

The full NFL calendar through the season and into the spring can be viewed here.

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NaVorro Bowman says he’s “not really” spending two hours to get ready to practice

NaVorro Bowman AP

49ers linebacker Navorro Bowman recently told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that Bowman needs two hours of preparation time before practicing or playing. Bowman now says he doesn’t need two hours of preparation.

Via Matt Maicco of CSNBayArea.com, Bowman said the time that he devotes to preparing is “not really two hours.”

Apparently, it can be more than two hours.

“I’m just a perfectionist,” Bowman said. “I like to warm up my leg as much as possible and to go out there and have a perfect practice. If it takes three hours, I’ll take three hours. Some guys take a lot of things out of context. . . . I had surgery. [The knee] doesn’t feel the same as the other one, so I have to make sure I’m able to do everything I have to before practice starts. That’s where the time frame came from.”

Bowman seems to be sensitive to the perception that he’s returning too early from a torn ACL. Earlier this week, Rodney Harrison of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN said that Bowman runs the risks that offensive lineman will target Bowman’s knee in order to test it.

“Me coming back early,” Bowman said, “that would have been if I would have come back during the season last year.”

So Bowman believes he’s ready, and that the time to prepare has no relation to how he feels once he’s prepared.

Regardless of what Bowman told King or what Bowman said Thursday, the knee will be tested by opposing offensive linemen. He therefore should take whatever time he needs to prepare the knee for that reality.

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Mort says Kraft apologized to him, Patriots deny it

Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony Getty Images

Not much had been said in recent days about Chris Mortensen’s role in the hatching of #DeflateGate because nobody had really said much about it. Mort said some more stuff about it on Thursday, and he probably now wishes that he hadn’t.

Appearing on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Mortensen addressed various aspects of his report that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs measured at two pounds below the 12.5 PSI minimum at halftime of the AFC Championship Game.

Among other things, Mortensen claimed that Patriots owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft separately called to apologize to him for “the way this thing has gone down.” WEEI in Boston reports that the Patriots say the Krafts did not apologize to Mortensen.

Beyond the disputed notion that the Krafts apologized, Mortensen made other claims during the interview regarding the report. They’re listed below.

First, Mortensen downplayed the perception that the NFL peddled false information by explaining that the sources didn’t reach out to him, but that he reached out to the sources.

“The whole narrative that somebody from the league deliberately leaked false information to me is so much baloney,” Mortensen said. “It’s actually insulting, because I made the inquiry.”

In other words, Mortensen is saying the league is absolved of deliberately leaking false information because the sources didn’t affirmatively provide the information to Mortensen, but that the league instead provided the information upon request. However, the league then never corrected the false information, even after the same false information was reported both by Mortensen and by Peter King.

So Mort can choose to be insulted, but the “baloney” narrative seems accurate.

Second, Mortensen continues to downplay the clearly false report that 11 of 12 footballs were two pounds under the minimum by claiming that he quickly amended the report, claiming that the footballs were “significantly” underinflated. But what is “significantly” underinflated, given the NFL’s admitted ignorance of the operation of the Ideal Gas Law and the fact that, on one of the two pressure gauges, the measurements fell within what the Ideal Gas Law would predict? Moreover, despite his claim that ESPN quickly clarified the report, the original ESPN.com story to this very moment states that 11 of the 12 footballs were two pounds under the minimum.

Third, Mortensen fails to acknowledge that three of the four Colts footballs also were measured below the 12.5 minimum on one of the two pressure gauges, even though those footballs started the game at 13 PSI.

Fourth, Mortensen claims he didn’t suggest that the balls were tampered with. But the magnitude of the report — 11 of 12 footballs a full two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum — did the suggesting for him. Indeed, the most common reaction to Mortensen’s report was “wow, somebody tampered with the footballs,” and the only remaining questions related to who ordered it and/or who knew about it.

Fifth, Mortensen tries to shift the focus away from himself by claiming that he “never implicated” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and that the first person who did was coach Bill Belichick. Technically, Mortensen is right; his report didn’t specifically implicate Brady. But it was a damning report to the Patriots, and it turned a curiosity into a hashtag, making the decision to hire “independent” investigator Ted Wells a no-brainer and putting Belichick, Brady, and the rest of the organization squarely on the defensive until the team finally was told the truth in late March.

The truth remains that Mortensen’s sources lied to him. Instead of blaming the sources for lying to him, Mortensen is trying to create the impression that they didn’t lie to him.

So now Mortensen’s sources owe him. Big time. Here’s hoping that the stuff they give him this season and beyond is a lot more accurate.

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Concussed last week or not, Robert Griffin III is cleared to play

Robert Griffin III, Tyrunn Walker, Ezekiel Ansah AP

A week ago tonight, there was confusion regarding the question of whether Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III had been cleared to return to a preseason game against the Lions following a possible concussion. Earlier on Thursday, Griffin danced around the question of whether he actually was concussed.

Concussion or not, the team has announced that Griffin has been cleared to play in the Week Three preseason game against the Ravens.

“[A]n independent neurologist has cleared quarterback Robert Griffin III to play for Saturday’s game at Baltimore,” the team said in a release issued earlier Thursday evening.

The declaration comes after Griffin opted to defer to “the people who report that stuff,” adding that “I don’t report that stuff.”

On the surface, it seems a little goofy that Griffin didn’t know whether he had a concussion. But goofy could be the right approach for Griffin; Rodney Harrison praised the player for taking a page out of the Bill Belichick “say nothing” playbook during Thursday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.

Click below to hear Rodney say a lot more than nothing about the situation.

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Ryan Mallett missed practice because he overslept

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Maybe Ryan Mallett hit the snooze alarm for an extra five and it never came back. Or maybe he messed up the AM/PM. Or maybe there was a separate knob for the radio alarm.

Whatever the reason, Mallett overslept today and missed practice, the Houston Chronicle reports. The Texans had previously confirmed that Mallett missed practice but refused to say why.

That doesn’t reflect well on Mallett, who lost the Texans’ quarterback competition to Brian Hoyer this week and took it hard. If Mallett ever wants to convince coach Bill O’Brien that he deserves to start, missing practice isn’t the way to do it.

There have been reports about Mallett lacking maturity going back to his college days, and his failure to get to work on time today won’t do anything to change the perception that he’s just not ready to lead an NFL team.

In the future, perhaps Mallett should arrange for a wakeup call. And try not to offend the wakeup guy.

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Josh Johnson joins Jets, Jake Heaps jettisoned

Josh Johnson Pic Getty Images

The Jets have made a change at the bottom of the quarterback depth chart.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed with the Jets today, while rookie Jake Heaps was cut.

Johnson, who was cut by the Bengals this week, is one of the NFL’s most athletic quarterbacks, but has struggled as a passer. He has played in 29 games and thrown five touchdown passes and 10 interceptions while rushing for 274 yards. Heaps is an undrafted free agent from the University of Miami who threw one pass, an incompletion, for the Jets this preseason.

It’s unlikely that Johnson will make the Jets’ roster, but he’ll provide depth for now. While Geno Smith continues to recover from a broken jaw, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starter and the backups are rookie Bryce Petty and the recently signed veteran Matt Flynn.

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NFL slated to start the season with more than 30 players suspended

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New England Patriots Getty Images

The NFL has suspended more than 30 players this offseason.

Our NFL 2015 suspension tracker currently has the names of 34 players on it, with the possibility that more suspensions could still be coming.

It’s still possible that some suspensions could be overturned. Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant is still appealing his four-game substance-abuse suspension, while Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is still going through the courts to battle his four-game Deflategate suspension.

The two longest suspensions handed down this offseason were the 16-game bans given to Browns receiver Josh Gordon and Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan. Some of the suspended players are little-known free agents who likely wouldn’t play in Week One anyway, but some of the noteworthy suspensions include six games for 49ers receiver Jerome Simpson, four games for Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, four games for Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson, four games for Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain, four games for Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, two games for Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, one game for Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount and one game for Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.

In all, players have been suspended for a cumulative 159 games for the 2015 season.

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Russell Wilson has more to say about Recovery Water

Seattle Seahawks v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Over the past two days, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has said plenty of stuff about Recovery Water, a company in which he has invested. And most of what he has said indicates a belief by him that the product helps prevent or treat concussions.

Wilson was back at it on Thursday, extolling the virtues of a beverage with nanobubbles, which he claims helped him not get a concussion when he took a blow to the head against the Packers in January.

“I didn’t have a concussion,” Wilson told reporters, via comments distributed by the team. “I guess it was perceived wrong, but I did not have a concussion. I was saying that I had consistently been drinking the water for about a month, month and a half, you know, five to seven times a day and maybe this stuff is helping me out. It’s one of those things that I truly do believe it helps with recovery, it’s one of those things that the science behind it, all that help that they’re trying to do.”

Via Twitter on Wednesday, Wilson said that Recovery Water helped prevent him from getting a concussion, which meshes with what he said today. But what he said today conflicts with the message sent by his quotes to Rolling Stone, when he said, “I banged my head during the Packers game in the playoffs, and the next day I was fine. It was the water.”

Saying “the next day I was fine” implies that the prior day he wasn’t. Wilson said today that he was.

“I didn’t have any head injuries, but I was trying to say I think it helped prevent it,” Wilson said. “I think your brain consists of like 75 to 80 percent water so I think that just being hydrated and drinking the Recovery Water really does help.”

Under that theory, drinking any type water would help. As, possibly, would playing football while wearing not a helmet but a fishbowl.

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It sounds like Aaron Rodgers won’t play on Saturday

Packers Camp Football AP

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday that the Packers offense is right where it needs to be for the start of the regular season before saying he wasn’t sure how much playing time he’d get in Saturday’s game against the Eagles.

Based on what one of his backups had to say on Thursday, it sounds like he won’t get any playing time at all. The Packers have three starting offensive linemen battling injuries heading into the game, which isn’t the kind of situation you want to put Rodgers in if you can avoid it. Quarterback Matt Blanchard says that they won’t when discussing his own plans for the game.

“I know the starters aren’t going to be playing but for us, it’s our first time out on Lambeau this season,” Blanchard said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “The backups don’t normally get these type of reps. We have a lot of respect for Philly and their defense. Their starters are going to be playing a lot of time. It’s a good opportunity for Brett [Hundley] and I to get in there and see where we’re at and take advantage of it.”

Given the usual operating procedure for the final week of the preseason, it seems likely that Rodgers’s next game action will come in Week One against the Bears. Demovsky reports the team’s defensive starters are expected to play in Saturday’s game.

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Thursday’s PFT on NBCSN poll question looks at Colts, Rams

NBCSN

Week Three of the preseason includes a game between a pair of franchises that were once swapped by Robert Irsay and Carroll Rosenbloom. The Colts visit the Rams in a matchup of teams that were in Baltimore and L.A. when their pink slips were swapped.

Thursday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN bases a poll question on these two teams, asking whether it’s more likely that the Colts will make the Super Bowl or the Rams will make the playoffs.

Cast a ballot below and then tune in at 6:00 p.m. ET for 30 minutes of new and analysis with Rodney Harrison, Paul Burmeister, and yours truly. It’s guaranteed to get you ready for the all-important third week of the preseason. Assuming any week of the preseason is important.

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Patriots waive/injured 2012 third-rounder Jake Bequette

Jake Bequette AP

The Patriots waived 2012 third-round pick Jake Bequette last year, but brought him back to the practice squad and then moved him from defensive end to tight end this year in an attempt to find a place for him on the roster.

That effort has come to an end. The NFL’s daily transactions report brings word that Bequette, who had been absent from practice of late, has been waived with the injured designation. If he’s not claimed, he can go on Patriots injured reserve or become a free agent after an injury settlement with the team.

Bequette was one of four players dropped from the roster on Thursday. The team announced that offensive lineman Mark Asper and linebacker Cameron Gordon have been waived and that veteran defensive tackle Antonio Johnson has been released. The team also waived defensive back Jimmy Jean on Wednesday.

All the moves leave the Patriots with several open roster spots, but they may remain unfilled with the deadline to cut rosters to 75 players coming next week.

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Terrelle Pryor not sure if he’s playing Saturday

Terrelle Pryor AP

Terrelle Pryor practiced for the Browns again on Thursday, but he’s not sure whether he’ll be in the lineup for the team’s third preseason game on Saturday.

Pryor said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, that how his hamstring feels on Friday will determine whether or not he can make his first appearance of the preseason and his first game appearance since making the move to wide receiver upon joining the Browns this offseason.

Browns coach Mike Pettine said recently that Pryor’s extended absence this summer has hurt his chances of making the team, something Pryor is aware of but says won’t stop him from following the injury protocol laid out by the team.

Given the lack of potential playmakers on Cleveland’s offense, Pryor may stand a better chance than most players who have had as little to do on the field as he’s had during camp. Still, a good showing on Saturday that ends with Pryor healthy would go a long way toward extending his stay with the team.

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Eagles waive/injured Emmanuel Acho after thumb surgery

Philadelphia Eagles v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Eagles are down one inside linebacker in the competition to make the 53-man roster.

According to multiple reports, Emmanuel Acho has been waived/injured because of a thumb injury. Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Acho’s injury required surgery.

Every team in the league will have an opportunity to claim Acho off of waivers. If no one does, he can revert to injured reserve with the Eagles or reach an injury settlement with the team that makes him a free agent.

Acho played 20 games for the Eagles the last two seasons and made two starts last year. He was competing for a backup inside linebacker job this year.

His departure leaves Brad Jones and Najee Goode in the mix for spots along with Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans and third-round pick Jordan Hicks. Jones has been getting some work at outside linebacker as well, which could boost his chances of surviving the cut to 53 players.

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RG3 declines to say if he had a concussion

Robert Griffin III AP

If you were inclined to believe that Robert Griffin III didn’t really suffer a concussion in last week’s preseason game, nothing he said today would change your mind.

Griffin met with the media today for the first time since the team announced last Thursday that he had a concussion, and when he was asked directly if he actually had a concussion, Griffin wouldn’t answer.

“You’ve got to talk to the people who report that stuff. I don’t report that stuff. I was in the locker room, taking a shower, getting ready to watch the rest of the game, so I don’t know,” Griffin said.

Questions have been raised about whether the team used a concussion diagnosis as a convenient way to let Griffin dodge the media. The NFL’s media policy says that all players are required to talk to reporters after games — with the exception of players who suffered concussions.

Asked today if he suffered a concussion when he got hit on his final play, Griffin answered, “I have no idea. I just know I was in some pain, the trainers came out and that was it.”

The team couldn’t get its story straight on the night of the game about whether Griffin had a concussion, and Griffin sounded today like he wanted to wash his hands of the team’s official concussion diagnosis, without coming right out and contradicting it.

What Griffin did say is that he’s been cleared to return, and he’s planning to play Saturday. He’ll have to address the media again after that game. Unless the team says he has another concussion.

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