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Geno Smith won’t play on Saturday night

AP

The ankle injury suffered by quarterback Geno Smith in the Jets’ preseason opener opened the door for Mark Sanchez to start against the Jaguars on Saturday night and it has closed the door on Smith playing at all.

The Jets announced that Smith will not play at all in the team’s second preseason game, leaving a big opportunity for Sanchez to convince the coaching staff that he should remain the team’s starting quarterback for a fifth season. It’s not a particularly surprising decision by the Jets since there wasn’t much point in playing Smith if they weren’t prepared to let him start the game and keep things at least superficially even with Sanchez.

Coach Rex Ryan said this week when announcing that Sanchez would start that the “competition is not complete,” but it could move closer to that point if Sanchez performs well against Jacksonville. He played better than Smith in the opener against the Lions, even with one of his trademark interceptions that Ziggy Ansah returned for a touchdown, and reports from practice this week had him playing better than Smith.

Smith’s ankle injury surely contributed to his poor play in practice and it will be interesting to see if the Jets give him a chance to make up for lost time against the Giants in a third preseason game that’s usually a dress rehearsal for Week One.

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Ortiz roast scrapped from TV, due in part to Gronk being Gronk

AP

Sometimes, Gronk being Gronk isn’t suitable for television.

Via the Boston Globe, last week’s roast of former Red Sox star David Ortiz ended up not being shown on NESN over the weekend due to concerns about the over-the-top nature of many of the jokes. Some of those were told by, or referred to, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Others referred to former (and now deceased) Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Jimmy Traina of SI.com has posted the video of Gronkowski’s routine, which likely prompted The Situation to say, “Man, that was awkward.”

“Anthony [Mackie] played Falcon in Captain America: Civil War. Anthony, you were terrible, dog. It was the worst I’ve seen a Falcon look since the second half of Super Bowl LI,” said Gronkowski regarding the game in which he was unable to participate due to injury. “I don’t even need to play the f–king game, and I’m still going to the Hall of Fame! And that superhero, you know, that Falcon, the superhero. That’s the black guy. You know, who can even fly when he’s not being chased by the cops? That’s his super power.”

That wasn’t the only potentially offensive joke Gronkowski told: “You wanna know why Jews do play football? To get their quarter back, you cheap f–k.”

And then there was this one, possibly from the Christmas album and apparently in reference to Ortiz’s reputation for showing up late to his endorsement appointments: “David, thanks for showing up on time to all the Dunkin Donuts shoots. I had a blast jackin’ off for two hours in your green room every time. Hopefully you never use those pillows on your breaks.”

Hopefully, Gronk will never do standup comedy again.

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Rams trying to keep the lid on ticket sales in 2017

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The Rams are trying to sell fewer tickets this year. And the plan does not include simply showing highlights of the 2016 Rams.

According to Vincent Bonsignore of the Orange County Register, the Rams are trying to cap ticket sales in the 70,000 per game range, to alleviate crowding at concession stands and in parking lots.

The Rams sold more than 70,000 season tickets last year, and made 80,000 or more tickets available to games last year. That’s far from capacity at the Coliseum (93,607), but the Rams heard from their customers that the “fan experience” was compromised by the sheer amount of people.

“The environment in the building was spectacular,”Rams vice president of ticket sales Jake Bye said. “But what we learned was that the tradeoff at times came in ways that sometimes compromised the fan experience. The ability to purchase concessions in a quick orderly manner. Or the challenge of parking around the building, which was strained by putting that many people in the building.

“Now that we have a year’s worth of research in that building and seeing how NFL fans behave and when they arrive and what gates they are going through and what items they are buying at concessions stands, we can really take all that information and be so much smarter in how we approach the building and delivering the best experience in year two compared to year one.”

The Rams drew more than 80,000 for five games, and more than 90,000 for the opener. And they’re keeping the option to sell more tickets for certain opponents (i.e. the ones people want to see).

But trying to rein in the number of tickets available should help keep the supply and demand in control, and also give them a chance to head off talk that a potentially bad product simply isn’t going to bring fans in the gate, since it’s not new and shiny anymore.

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Buccaneers looking forward to new indoor facility

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The Buccaneers will no longer be a slave to the elements.

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs are making progress on the construction of their new indoor facility, which is scheduled to open by the start of the regular season.

In recent years, they’ve had to use the nearby indoor baseball stadium, and they used to use a parking garage during their Super Bowl season. But through the years, the unpredictable Florida weather has long been an issue for them, which is why their owners decided to spend $20 million of their own money on the new facility.

“We want to give our team the best opportunity, with all of the resources possible, to put the best team on the field and it comes from the top, from the Glazer family,” Bucs chief operating officer Brian Ford said. “We want every competitive advantage. Is it needed? No, we won a Super Bowl without it. But is it going to make us better? Absolutely.”

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has coached in plenty of hot places (Arizona State, Atlanta, Jacksonville), and believes the new building should help his team last.

“And one thing that’s become very apparent, I’ve heard other coaches who coach in the south and the Southeast talk about it, is over the course of a season, the heat does take a toll on your players,” Koetter said. “It takes the elements out. Also, it can help you manage the heat. It gives you a sterile environment when you bring guys in to work out. It gives you a turf field. It’s something that I’ve pushed for. I thank the Glazer family for making it happen.”

The facility will also include 3,500 bleacher seats, which they’ll use during training camp.

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Michael Floyd prosecutor isn’t buying the kombucha tea defense

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More will be known about the fate of Vikings receiver Michael Floyd when we returns to court at 4:30 p.m. ET regarding allegations that he violated the terms of his house arrest. For now, it’s clear that the prosecution is not inclined to cut him any slack.

“He’s in violation and should serve the rest of his jail time,” Caron Close told Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Floyd received a 120-day jail term after pleading guilty to extreme DUI in Arizona. He served 24 days in custody, and he then was permitted to finish the time on house arrest. Presumably, the prosecutor will be taking the position that the full 96 days that Floyd was due to serve on house arrest should now be spent behind bars.

If that happens, Floyd would unavailable for all of training camp, the preseason, and into the regular season. Though he currently faces a minimum suspension of two games for the DUI guilty plea, he otherwise would be permitted to participate in practices and preseason games.

Floyd admits that he tested positive for alcohol; he claims that he had been drinking kombucha tea, and that he didn’t know it contains alcohol. His BAC was measured at 0.055 percent, which means that it contained a lot of alcohol or that he drank a lot of it.

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Eagles WR coach: Alshon Jeffery had his best offseason in years

AP

The Eagles hired Mike Groh as their wide receivers coach this offseason, which set Groh up for a reunion when the Eagles signed wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to a one-year contract as a free agent in March.

Groh was Jeffery’s position coach with the Bears from 2013-15 and Jeffery turned in his two best NFL seasons in the first two years of Groh’s tenure in Chicago. During a recent discussion of Jeffery’s work this offseason, Groh said that the wideout looked the best he has since their first season working together.

“He and I have a history together, so he knows what I think, and I understand the way that he works and goes about his business,” Groh said, via ESPN.com. “I think the spring that he’s had is as good as he’s had since maybe 2013. Pleased with where he is physically, mentally I think he is in a good place. He’s coming in here and learning a new system and working on the chemistry with Carson [Wentz] and everything like that, but it’s been a good spring for him.”

Jeffery had 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013 and followed that up with 85 catches, 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns the next year. Injuries have limited him to 21 games and 106 catches over the last two seasons and surely played a role in his signing a one-year deal with Philly this offseason.

If getting back together with Groh and a productive offseason lead to a rebound on the field this fall, Jeffery will likely be looking at longer deals if he’s back on the open market in 2018.

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Ahman Green arrested on child abuse charge

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Former Packers running back Ahman Green has been arrested in Wisconsin after an allegation of child abuse.

Paul Srubas of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that the Brown County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Green was arrested and taken to the county jail. Per the website for the jail, Green is charged with Child Abuse-Intentionally Cause Harm/Cruelty toward Child.

The authorities also said they are doing further investigation into the matter and did not provide any other details concerning the reasons for Green’s arrest.

Green played for the Packers from 2000-06 and returned to the team in 2009, which was also his final season in the NFL. Green, who also played for the Seahawks and Texans, remains the leading rusher in franchise history.

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Ryan Cowden, Scott Fitterer the latest names in Chiefs G.M. search

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Two outside candidates are part of the Chiefs General Manager search.

Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer are both on the Chiefs’ radar, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today.

Cowden is a former Panthers scout who left Carolina last year for a better job in Tennessee. Fitterer has previously interviewed for G.M. openings in San Francisco and Indianapolis.

The Chiefs made the surprising decision to fire G.M. John Dorsey last week and are now looking for someone to replace him.

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Justin Pugh: I’m “good with” Odell Beckham’s offseason absence

AP

Giants co-owner John Mara said last week that he wishes his club had a dozen players like wide receiver Odell Beckham, which is a pretty good sign that Mara’s not harboring bad feelings about the wideout’s decision to skip the voluntary portion of the team’s offseason program.

That feeling extends to one of Beckham’s fellow starters on the Giants offense. Left guard Justin Pugh said he’s “good with” Beckham’s approach to the offseason after Beckham returned “in great shape” for mandatory minicamp this month. Pugh also said that he thought too much was made of Beckham’s absence.

“Odell, I’ve been with him for three, four years now. I know how he is,” Pugh said on NFL Network. “It’s gotta be tough being him though. I always try to look at things from his perspective and see what he goes through. I see that, and I’m like, ‘Come in, get ready to work,’ he’s in great shape. I wonder if we could get a list of all the guys that didn’t go to OTAs. I guarantee, put them all together and they didn’t get as much publicity as Odell.”

Pugh doesn’t have to look far for a player who fits exactly what he was saying about the reaction to Beckham’s absence. Defensive end Olivier Vernon didn’t attend the Giants’ voluntary workouts either and it was noted with a sliver of the attention paid to his teammate.

Both were back for mandatory work and both will be there for the Giants in the regular season, which is the time of year when true judgments will be rendered for all the members of the team.

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Cam Newton throwing again, vows “100 percent” by training camp

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It wasn’t on the practice field during minicamp as coach Ron Rivera suggested was a possibility, and it wasn’t even on a field at all.

But Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is throwing again.

Last week, Newton did some throwing inside the stadium with head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion, his first since undergoing surgery on March 30 on his throwing shoulder.

Newton described the process to Bill Voth of the team’s official website in an exclusive interview/staff meeting.

“Cool, a lot of anticipation,” Newton said. “Obviously, it’s still not 100 percent, but seeing the ball come out of my hand in a throwing motion was good. . . .

“When I say it’s not 100 percent, I’m noting the range of motion part. Like if you sleep with your legs hanging off your bed the whole night, you’re going to wake up and be super stiff. Or like sitting on your hands, or sitting in an awkward position and finally getting up and moving – that’s how I feel.”

Newton acknowledged that waiting so long to have surgery was a difficult decision, since he played the last meaningless month of the season with the injury. But he insisted he stayed on the field at something less than full power because of his commitment to the team.

“I knew something was wrong,” Newton said. “I knew it was going to hurt, continuously hurt. No matter what the treatment was, it takes just one hit or fall and it’s going to inflame again. And it did. Some of it was stubbornness, but I wanted people to know what I’m willing to do for this franchise. At the end of the day, no one could say I quit. . . .

“I figured it would heal on its own. I was trying to get the proper treatment, overtreatment. Get it stretched, get a massage, get the ice, stem, everything. Over time I was like, ‘You know what? It’s just not getting better.’  So when I came back to Charlotte, I got another MRI, and by that time, everything had pretty much cleared up. It wasn’t as swollen as it was during the season so they could see and it showed up as a partially torn rotator cuff.”

Newton said “There’s no doubt” he’d be ready for training camp in a month, saying he should have the kinks worked out in two weeks. It’s an important time for him and the team, as they’re tweaking the offense to make things easier on him, and he’s done little more than watch through the entire offseason.

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Chiefs to interview in-house Brett Veach for G.M. job

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The Chiefs have been turned down at least once, but they have one known candidate for their vacant General Manager job.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, they’ll interview internal candidate Brett Veach to replace fired G.M. John Dorsey.

Veach has background with coach Andy Reid, which can’t hurt since there’s at least the perception that Reid emerges from the recent upheaval with more power. Their structure has been to have a coach and a G.M. who each report to owner Clark Hunt.

Veach’s name came up in Buffalo, primarily because LeSean McCoy was pumping his candidacy.

But having him around could help the Chiefs navigate what has been a tumultuous time for a team with a good roster and what had been perceived as some stability, at least until this offseason.

Minnesota’s George Paton has turned down a chance to interview, and ESPN’s Louis Riddick disputed reports he was on the list.

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Report: George Paton turns down Chiefs G.M. interview

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After being considered for a couple other G.M. jobs, Vikings Assistant General Manager George Paton has decided not to interview for another.

Paton declined an interview for the Chiefs G.M. vacancy, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

The Colts and 49ers both considered Paton for their G.M. vacancies in January, so his name has been bandied about a lot in the NFL this offseason. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a G.M. job next year.

But this year, he’ll remain in Minnesota, and the Chiefs will keep looking, with no word yet on who the strongest candidates are.

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Michael Floyd heads back to court on Monday

AP

As soon as today, Vikings receiver Michael Floyd will find out whether he’ll be sent back to jail and/or otherwise punished for testing positive for alcohol while on house arrest due to, Floyd claims, drinking apparently copious amounts of kombucha tea.

The court hearing, scheduled for Monday in Arizona, has been enhanced by the Vikings’ decision to send a letter supporting Floyd’s belief that kombucha tea doesn’t contain alcohol. It’s not all that implausible to think Floyd truly wasn’t aware that the beverage contains a certain amount of booze, given that he was subject to periodic, unannounced dates with an in-home breath-testing machine.

Arizona doesn’t screw around with DUI offenses; Floyd admitted to extreme DUI, which included a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.217 percent, well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Many jurisdictions view house arrest as a privilege. For Floyd, that privilege was extended to a decision to let him complete the sentence in Minnesota, so that he could attend offseason workouts with the Vikings.

Much of the outcome will depend on the judge’s attitude toward deviations from the terms of house arrest in DUI cases, along with an assessment of whether Floyd is telling the truth. The magnitude of his BAC — 0.055 percent — will make it easier for the judge to conclude that Floyd was simply rolling the dice and hoping he wouldn’t be tested, perhaps with the kombucha tea defense tucked into his back pocket.

Regardless, an answer as to whether Floyd will get a pass or a trip back to prison could come by the time Tuesday arrives.

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Le’Veon Bell looks healthy on basketball court

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Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had core muscle surgery in March and it looks like his recovery is moving along well.

Bell shared a video (the language in the video isn’t safe for most workplaces) of his participations in a basketball game on Sunday and it shows him moving well as he knifes through the lane for a couple of layups. Two snippets of action on video don’t make for a sound medical analysis, obviously, but it would seem that Bell is well on his way to a full recovery.

That could come at the start of training camp, although Bell’s health wasn’t the only thing keeping him off the field during the Steelers’ offseason workouts this year. Bell has not signed his franchise tender and has not agreed to a long-term contract, so he did not join the team for that work.

Bell and the Steelers have until July 17 to work out a longer deal and it will be up to Bell to decide about making an on-time arrival to camp if one doesn’t come to fruition. If he does decide to show up, the glimpse of his basketball moves suggests he’ll be ready for football action as well.

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OTT may not be the future of the NFL, for much of the country

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‘Member when getting online consisted of hearing the dial tone, the rapid succession of the numbers being punched up by the modem, and the inevitable screeching and squawking until silence returned and the slow wait commenced for the images to gradually appear and the speakers to proclaim, “You’ve got mail”? For many, it’s not a memory.

So as the NFL plots a future of game-content delivery that consists of OTT services that rely on the high-speed Internet connections that many have taken for granted, it’s important to keep in mind the reality that millions are still living in AOLworld. Consider this June 15 article from the Wall Street Journal, dubbed “Rural America is Stranded in the Dial-Up Age.”

“Delivering up-to-date broadband service to distant reaches of the U.S. would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, experts estimate, an expense government, industry and consumers haven’t been willing to pay,” explains the item from Jennifer Levitz and Valerie Bauerlein. As a result, high-speed Internet access is either not available or ridiculously expensive in much of the country.

Which means that, while plenty have ditched cable or satellite TV for devices that deliver the images and sound just as quickly and reliably, plenty of people continue to be limited to the traditional means of receiving and digesting TV programming. And that doesn’t even include the millions who live in areas that have high-speed Internet available, but who due to economic limitations rely only on the free, over-the-air signals captured by rabbit-ear antennas.

Thus, while it’s a major part of the NFL’s future when it comes to Internet users who opt out of cable and satellite, OTT can’t be a replacement for those who don’t have that luxury.

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Jamal Adams draws “unbelievable” review for offseason work

AP

The offseason has not been filled with positive stories about the Jets, but there’s at least one exception to the overall tone around the team heading into the 2017 season.

Safety Jamal Adams was the team’s first-round pick in April and he was ticketed for the starting lineup even before Calvin Pryor was dealt to the Browns for linebacker Demario Davis. Coach Todd Bowles has called Adams “very instinctive” while mostly sticking to coachspeak about the rookie, but cornerback Morris Claiborne has been more effusive about what he’s seen from Adams in his first practices as a pro.

“The things he has done so far? He’s unbelievable,” Claiborne said, via NJ.com. “He’s been out here playing lights out. Picking up the defense, checking to different things, knowing what he wants to check to. He’s having fun doing it, too. His spirit is awesome. He’s having fun doing what he knows how to do, and that’s football. I can’t be more impressed with a young guy coming into the league, and, especially playing on that backend, doing the things he’s done so far.”

It will take more than hitting on one safety for the Jets’ rebuild to be a success, but every journey has to start somewhere. Adams making good on the hype he generated at LSU would be as good a departure point for the Jets as any.

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