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Holmgren admires McCarthy’s composure

Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson AP

In the wake of last year’s “Fail Mary” debacle, many were furious.

But Packers coach Mike McCarthy was his normal, steady self, and one of his predecessors said he envied the restriant.

Former Seahawks and Packers coach Mike Holmgren was interviewing McCarthy on KJR 950 (audio here), and admitted he wouldn’t have been so cool about the simultaneous-catch touchdown call.

“There’s not a question in my mind that was as an interception,” Holmgren said (via ESPN.com). “The thing is, when I watched your press conference the next day, and Mike you’re a real gentleman, I would have been fined. There’s no question in my mind, I would have been fined. And you handled that about as well as I’ve seen a coach handle that. Was that difficult?”

“Thanks,” McCarthy replied. “No question that was difficult, but it was the best thing for our football team, and I never lost sight of that. That was my vision of what I needed to do when I walked into the post-game press conference, and I think it was very apparent what happened. There’s good calls in our league and not-so-good calls, and not-so-good calls sometimes go the other way, . . .

“You knew there was going to be a storm that was going to follow that situation, and I was just trying to get our football team to move on as quickly as possible.”

McCarthy’s ability to keep things level is admirable, but he also quickly recognized he couldn’t let it become a distraction for his team, which it easily could have been.

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Mike Shanahan: Anything short of the Super Bowl is a failure

Mike Shanahan AP

Mike Shanahan says the expectations are very high this season in Washington.

According to Shanahan, his players believe that they have what it takes to win the Super Bowl, and they won’t settle for anything less.

“We have a team that you’re going to be proud of,” Shanahan said. “They have set the expectations: anything short of a Super Bowl is a failure.”

Shanahan said owner Dan Snyder has given his team all of the resources it needs, and that the personnel department has built a team good enough to win it all.

“Coaches coach, players play and together all of us can win championships,” Shanahan said, “and that’s what we plan to do.”

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Erin Henderson misses practice, will play on Sunday

Erin Henderson AP

The Vikings have installed Erin Henderson as their middle linebacker this summer, which meant their fear level was pretty high when Henderson went down with an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice.

Henderson was scared too after getting the back of his left foot stepped on during the session. The back of Henderson’s ankle was cut and he said Friday that he’d never felt a pain quite like the one he felt on Thursday.

“Really, really painful,” Henderson said, via Dan Wiederer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I’ve been playing ball since I was 7 years old and I’ve never had anything like that happen to me before. … It was on fire. There was a little bit of fire down there. But once it calmed down a little bit, then I realized it wasn’t too bad.”

Henderson’s diagnosis appears to be correct. He didn’t practice on Friday because he was still feeling some soreness, but he’ll be in the starting lineup to face the 49ers on Sunday. With Henderson in the lineup, the Vikings will be pretty close to full strength defensively for their date with the Niners offense.

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NFL has agreed to arbitration for all positive PED tests

Goodell Getty Images

Lost in Thursday’s back-and-forth between the NFL and the NFLPA regarding HGH testing is one fairly important point.  The league has agreed to use third-party arbitration not only for HGH testing but also for all other forms of PED testing.

Both the NFL and the NFLPA have informed PFT that a deal on HGH testing would include arbitration for positive HGH results and other positive test results for performance-enhancing drugs.  The lone sticking point remains the NFL’s desire to keep the appeal rights for violations arising from something other than a positive test in the hands of the Commissioner.

The negotiations, occurring primarily in connection with HGH testing, encompass the entire PED policy because HGH is considered to be a performance-enhancing substance.  Changes to the league’s substance-abuse policy, which covers recreational drugs like marijuana, are being separately negotiated.

While the NFL has made a major concession by sacrificing the Commissioner’s exclusive ability to resolve suspensions arising from PED’s other than HGH, the NFL doesn’t seem to be inclined to budge on the matter of violations flowing from something other than a positive test.

“We’re talking about something that has been under the Commissioner’s authority for 50-plus years,” NFL senior V.P. of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch told PFT by phone on Thursday afternoon.  “It was something reaffirmed and agreed to by the union in the 2011 CBA.  It is something that affects five percent or less of all matters that arise as violations under our policy.”

From the NFLPA’s perspective, insisting on arbitration isn’t about protecting wrongdoers (as the NFL has suggested) but protecting those who may be wrongfully accused.

And so HGH testing remains delayed because the NFL doesn’t want to yield on something that, by its own admission, happens in one out of 20 cases, or fewer.  But if discipline for PED violations absent a positive test are so rare, why should either side dig in?

One potential solution would be to give the Commissioner preliminary appeal rights, with a third party reviewing the decision under a looser standard of review.  This would give the players an extra layer of protection if, for example, Goodell’s decision were clearly erroneous, an abuse of discretion, and/or arbitrary and capricious.

Absent a compromise on that point, the NFL and NFLPA will continue to be at impasse as to the implementation of an agreement reached more than two years ago.

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Kyle Shanahan says RGIII’s mechanics are fine

Robert Griffin III, Kyle Shanahan AP

Earlier this week, Ron Jaworski of ESPN said that he thought Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s throwing mechanics during warmups for their game against the Steelers looked like they weren’t as clean as they were last season before he injured his knee.

Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was asked about Jaworski’s observation and said he thought that the quarterback’s mechanics have looked fine to him.

“I’m pretty impressed with how Robert throws the ball,” Shanahan said, via the Washington Post. “I think he’s pretty good at it. I think he has pretty good technique, too. It’s all about keeping your technique in the pocket when you’re under duress. … I think Robert is as good of a thrower as there is.”

You might note that Shanahan didn’t say that Griffin’s mechanics were the same as they were last season, although it seems less important that Griffin throw the ball exactly the same way than that he get the same kind of results he got when he put the ball in the air as a rookie. Like every other question about Griffin, that one will have to wait until the regular season gets underway because judging Griffin off of pregame warmups and practice sessions means you’ll only be getting part of the picture needed to draw a real conclusion.

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Richard Marshall chooses the Chargers

marshall AP

As the Chargers try to close the broad gap between themselves and the Broncos in the AFC West, they’d added a defensive back who only recently became available.

Per a league source, former Dolphins cornerback Richard Marshall has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Chargers.

The Jaguars also were in the mix to sign Marshall, who collected $6.1 million for a total of four games with the Dolphins.

Marshall also has played for the Cardinals and Panthers.  In San Diego, he joins a depth chart currently topped by Shareece Wright and Derek Cox, with Johnny Patrick and Steve Williams as the primary backups.

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PFT Live: A spot on the roster for Tebow?

Mike Florio talks about Tim Tebow’s absence of playing time in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Lions. He also analyzes Michael Vick’s on-field production from 2010 to 2012.

 

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Anquan Boldin shining in mentor role for 49ers

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The 49ers knew they were getting a proven receiver for their money, when they took Anquan Boldin’s contract off the Ravens’ books this offseason.

But they’re getting more than their money’s worth in the lessons Boldin is sharing with a young receiving corps, sharing 10 years of NFL experience every day.

Q has been so good with the younger guys, trying to teach them how to be professionals,” wide receiver Kyle Williams told Jim Trotter of SI.com. “He’s not just teaching them what to learn, but how to learn it, how to learn concepts and how you can see certain things in coverages. I think his whole mentality, his whole approach to this game is something we all can learn something from. He’s so serious about it. He doesn’t play around.”

That includes not even taking time to celebrate his Super Bowl win with the Ravens, including a visit with the President which he skipped. Coming close with the Cardinals showed him how small the margin was, and he didn’t want to give it away.

“For me it doesn’t change,” Boldin said of his motivation. “That’s the reason why I didn’t go to the ring ceremony at the White House. If you take time to celebrate, you kind of lose that edge, lose that hunger.”

That professionalism is going to be huge for the 49ers this year. In the absence of injured Michael Crabtree, he could end up a safety net for Colin Kaepernick, giving the third-year quarterback someone to rely on as he grows in the game as well.

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PFT Live: Tight availability at tight end for Ravens

Mike Florio chats with CSN Baltimore Raven Insider Clifton Brown about the  Ravens’ Thursday night loss to the Panthers and how the loss of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson at tight end will affect the Ravens going forward.

 

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PFT Live: $14 for stale popcorn

Mike Florio takes questions from twitter and answers phone calls from fans around the country. Florio does not expect much from RB Felix Jones in Pittsburgh and discusses the Browns chances to make waves this season. Plus, the worst stadium food that Mike Florio has ever had.

 

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John Pagano on Dwight Freeney: We need him every down

Dwight Freeney AP

When Dwight Freeney became a free agent early in the offseason, many people predicted he’d wind up playing for a 4-3 team that was looking for him to rush the passer from the spot he filled for all but one year with the Colts.

Part of that was based on Freeney being 33, which is often an age where a player moves into a situational role, and part was based on Freeney’s struggle to fulfill all of the responsibilities of an outside linebacker after Indy switched to a 3-4 scheme last season. An injury to outside linebacker Melvin Ingram opened up an opportunity in San Diego, however, and Freeney is about to start another season with a team that primarily runs the 3-4.

And he’ll again be asked to do everything that an outside linebacker has to do as opposed to concentrating solely on getting after the quarterback. Defensive coordinator John Pagano, brother of Colts coach Chuck, said that the team is looking for Freeney to be on the field every down.

“He’s going to be an every-down guy for us,” Pagano said, via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. “Need him on first, second, third down. He’s going to play all downs. If you spot guys here and there, they never get into the defense. They never get the defense. They don’t understand the whole process of the defensive calls. That’s the mindset he has. Otherwise, you never learn the why. He is a why guy.”

The Chargers are expected to use Freeney in multiple looks so that he’s not as exposed at linebacker as he was last season, but a heavy workload may still take its toll on his effectiveness wherever Freeney lines up. The Chargers have an intriguing defensive line, but they’ll need pressure off the edge to take pressure off their defensive backs and asking Freeney to provide it consistently while playing most of the snaps is something less than a sure thing.

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Marshall visits Jaguars, could pick new team Friday

Marshall Getty Images

Cornerback Richard Marshall unexpectedly became a free agent earlier this week, cut by the Dolphins as he was closing in on a $4.55 million base salary for 2013.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Marshall could pick his next team as soon as today.

Marshall visited the Jaguars on Friday, according to the source.  That follows a Thursday visit to the Chargers.

For now, the finalists are Jacksonville and San Diego.

In either city, Marshall would have an opportunity to crack the starting lineup.  In Miami, Marshall actually was on the first-string, but at that salary the Dolphins couldn’t justify keeping him.

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David Wilson to start at running back for Giants

New Orleans Saints v New York Giants Getty Images

The Giants’ depth chart currently has two players listed as their starting tailback, but only one of Andre Brown or David Wilson will be on the field for the first snap against the Cowboys on September 8.

During an appearance on ESPN Radio on Friday, General Manager Jerry Reese said that Wilson, the team’s first-round pick in 2012, would be that player.

“We expect [Wilson] to be our starter, and be in the backfield with Andre Brown, who had a terrific season going last year until he got hurt,” Reese said. “[Brown's] had the injury bug a little bit since he’s been in the league. But if he can stay healthy, and David Wilson comes on like we expect him too, we think we can have a pretty dynamic backfield.”

It’s not surprising that Wilson wound up with the job. He has a game-breaking gear that Brown doesn’t have and the team didn’t draft him where they did to sit behind a player who has played 14 games in his four NFL seasons.

Starting isn’t everything, though, and the preseason has revealed that the Giants still prefer Brown as a third down back because he is a more capable pass blocker than Wilson. If Wilson can’t pick that part of the game up to the satisfaction of the coaching staff, the split of playing time might be closer than some expect because the Giants will want to avoid both big hits on Eli Manning and the predictability that can come into an offense when defenses know that certain plays are off the board due to the personnel on the field.

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PFT Live 08/23: Clifton Brown, PFT Planet

Mike Florio chats with CSN Baltimore Raven Insider Clifton Brown about the Baltimore Ravens Thursday night game against the Panthers and the Ravens missing Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson at Tight End. Then, Florio takes calls and tweets from PFT Planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dolphins start the process of paring roster

Matt Scott, Alonzo Highsmith AP

Teams have to reduce rosters from 90 players to 75 by next Tuesday.

The Dolphins are just getting a head start on the process.

The team announced they had waived five players Friday: Guards Jeff Braun and Chandler Burden, defensive tackle Chris Burnette, linebacker Alonzo Highsmith and wide receiver Kenny Stafford.

Highsmith is the notable name of the bunch, primarily because he shares a name with the former Oilers, Cowboys and Buccaneers running back and Packers personnel man who happens to be his dad.

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