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Browns place Dion Lewis on injured reserve, waive Jordan Norwood

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The Browns cut four players on Monday morning as they started making their way to 75 players before Tuesday afternoon’s deadline and they continued the process in the afternoon.

Cleveland placed running back Dion Lewis on injured reserve, a move that’s been expected since Lewis fractured his leg in the team’s second preseason game. It was bad timing for Lewis, who was in position to be the No. 2 back with Montario Hardesty beset by several injuries during camp. The Browns acquired Lewis in a trade with the Eagles, for whom he averaged 4.75 yards per carry in limited action over the last two seasons.

Brandon Jackson and Chris Ogbonnaya are the best bets to see action when Trent Richardson comes out of games as Hardesty is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his knee.

The Browns also waived wide receiver Jordan Norwood, who spent the last three seasons with the team. Norwood had 13 catches in two games for the Browns last year, but a foot injury knocked him out for the rest of the season, and 38 overall for the Browns during his time with the team. The acquisition of Davone Bess likely played a big factor in Norwood’s departure from Cleveland as Bess will fill the slot receiver role this season.

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Saturday morning one-liners

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The Bills have announced information regarding complimentary tickets for night practices at training camp.

Patriots DB Kyle Arrington will host the Triple A Football Camp on Saturday in Brandywine, Maryland.

Underprivileged kids in Rochester, New York will have backpacks full of supplies when school starts, thanks in part to Dolphins LT (and Rochester native) Branden Albert.

Dawan Landry and rookie Calvin Pryor are projected to start at safety for the Jets.

Browns S Donte Whitner says the team’s offense will rely heavily on the running game.

His quarterbacking skills remain the subject of debate, but Bengals QB Andy Dalton is undeniably stellar at pop-a-shot.

Former Steelers first-round tailback Rashard Mendenhall will start his retirement with a $1.4 million house in Santa Monica.

With Arthur Jones gone from the Ravens, DL DeAngelo Tyson knows he needs to step up.

Colts owner Jim Irsay has donated $100,000 to a program for at-risk youth.

Titans teammates give CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson a hard time because he listens to audio books.

The Texans have announced the themes for their 2014 home games.  (What’s wrong with, “Hey, let’s try to actually win this week”?)

How many undrafted rookies will make it to the Jaguars’ 53-man roster?

Deceased Chiefs RB Joe Delaney will get a long-overdue look at his life in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.

Broncos QB Peyton Manning is proud of the manner in which the Manning Passing Academy has grown.

Get to know Chargers LB Melvin Ingram.

The situation regarding the stadium shared by the Raiders and A’s continues to be a bit of a mess.

Cowboys TE Jason Witten sold more merchandise last year than any other player on the team.

Giants RB Rashad Jennings is giving back this weekend to his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia.

Washington DL Chris Baker has started a foundation to help kids in Windsor, Connecticut.

If Eagles RT Lane Johnson ends up missing the first four games of the season, the offensive line should be fine.

So who will start at tight end for the Packers this year?

The man accused of killing the 2-year-old son of Vikings RB Adrian Peterson claims the boy choked on fruit snacks.

The Lions love the enthusiasm and professionalism of DL Darryl Tapp.

Bears rookie S Brock Vereen is working on his on-field communication skills.

Buccaneers K Connor Barth will co-host a kicking camp on Sunday at Hoggard High School in North Carolina.

Panthers QB Cam Newton’s youngest brother is competing in Newton’s 7-on-7 tournament.

Saints NT John Jenkins celebrated his 25th birthday by hosting a youth football camp in Connecticut.

Actor Michael Kelly from House of Cards is a big Falcons fan.

Cardinals OT Jared Veldheer is a big believer in spending lots of time in the weight room.

49ers WR Bruce Ellington hosted a youth football camp in South Carolina on Friday with his cousin, Arizona RB Andre Ellington.

Former Rams LB Will Witherspoon thinks WR Kenny Britt will finally become a star in St. Louis.

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman claims he’s “done talking” about San Francisco WR Michael Crabtree.  (Many would prefer that Sherman generally be “done talking.”)

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Colts will give Trent Richardson first shot at starting RB job

Trent Richardson AP

Trent Richardson averaged just 2.9 yards a carry after arriving in Indianapolis last season, and he was even worse in the playoffs. Under ordinary circumstances, a player who performed like that would have a tough time earning any job at all.

But in Indianapolis, where the Colts gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire Richardson from Cleveland, Richardson remains the favorite to be given the starting job. Mike Wells of ESPN reports that Richardson will get the first shot at starting, ahead of Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard. Donald Brown, who was the Colts’ most effective running back last season, left for San Diego in free agency.

Richardson is coming off shoulder surgery, while Bradshaw missed most of last season with a neck injury and Ballard missed all but one game last season with a knee injury. So there are injury concerns with all three running backs.

Assuming everyone can go when training camp starts, however, Richardson will get the first shot. To keep the starting job for the whole season, he’ll surely have to average better than 2.9 yards a carry.

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Chad Johnson scores first CFL TD, hugs official who doesn’t return the embrace

Winnipeg Blue Bombers v Montreal Alouettes Getty Images

Former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson scored his first Canadian Football League regular season touchdown on Friday night, and it was no bunny.

Johnson, who’s now playing for the Montreal Alouettes, got behind the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ secondary and hauled in a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Troy Smith, giving his club a 7-3 first-quarter lead.

After the touchdown, Johnson embraced side judge Jocelyn Paul, who remained stoic and didn’t return the hug. Johnson then dropped to his left knee and was greeted by his happy teammates.

The touchdown was the 36-year-old Johnson’s first in a regular season pro football game since December 18, 2011, when he caught a 33-yard scoring pass from Tom Brady as a member of the New England Patriots.

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Johnny Football gets Prime Time’s seal of approval

Deion Sanders AP

Prime Time is a big fan of Johnny Football.

Former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders spoke out in favor of Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, saying that the NFL should welcome him as a breath of fresh air.

“The quarterback mold was created by Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady,” Sanders on 105.3 The Fan. “When we don’t see [partying] from those guys, we kind of think it’s wrong because we don’t see it. That does not mean that Johnny Manziel has done one thing wrong. We just haven’t seen something of his kind. I like it. I love change.”

Sanders said people have overreacted to Manziel going out and having a good time. As Sanders sees it, Manziel isn’t hurting anyone.

“The kid hasn’t done anything. They’re putting him out there like he’s Justin Bieber — like he’s egging folks on and doing wild and rich folks stuff. He’s not doing stuff like that. He’s a good kid,” Sanders said.

Like Manziel, Sanders was brash and flashy and drew plenty of attention to himself even before he ever stepped on the field in the NFL. Sanders ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Andre Reed thinks Richard Sherman wouldn’t have been able to cover Andre Reed

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News flash:  Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman loves him some him.  Which makes plenty of people feel the opposite of love for him.

Former Bills receiver Andre Reed, who’ll finally enter the Hall of Fame later this year, was asked by a participant at the 27th Annual Jim Kelly Football Camp whether Sherman could have covered Reed in Reed’s prime.

Hell no,” Reed told the kids, to their delight, via  (Calm down, Church Lady; they’ve heard — and said — a lot worse than “hell”.)

“Look, Richard Sherman is a really good player,” Reed added.  “But he isn’t a Deion [Sanders] or a [Rod] Woodson yet, even if he thinks he is.”

The most common criticism of Sherman comes from the system the Seahawks use.  Sherman stays on the left side of the formation, and he’s never asked to spend the game shadowing the opposition’s best receiver.  Sherman also benefits from the presence of a potent pass rush and two of the best safeties, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, of the last generation.

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Mariota, Winston both say they’re undecided on the 2015 NFL draft

Mariota AP

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston both would have been first-round draft picks if they had entered the NFL this year, and they’ll be vying to be the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

At least, they will be if they enter the draft. But both Mariota and Winston say they might just stay in school for two more years, and wait until 2016 until they enter the draft.

“We’ll see, I’m not too sure,” Mariota told “The opportunity to leave obviously is there, but at the same time, college is fun and I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.”

Winston said he may want to stay at Florida State long enough to get his degree.

“It’s very important to me. I was always raised as a student first and an athlete second,” Winston said. “I think that’s the main purpose in college. Some athletes lose that perspective. It’s about being a student-athlete, and not just getting that easy money and going to the league. Even if kids leave early, I would want them to come back and get that degree.”

Because both players redshirted as freshmen, Mariota has two more seasons of NCAA eligibility and Winston has three. But realistically, it’s hard to believe either will still be in college a year from now. There’s just too much money to be made in the NFL, and too much of a risk of getting hurt as an amateur, for potential high first-round picks to stay in school. Expect them both to be in the 2015 NFL draft.

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Revenue sharing splits up $6 billion in 2013

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Since only the Packers must reveal their books, due to their non-stock stock ownership structure, the Packers’ annual report includes plenty of info both about the franchise and the league.

Darren Rovell of did some backwards math to determine that the $187.7 million received by the Packers in national revenue means that the league divided a whopping $6 billion among the 32 teams from April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014.

That cash comes largely from the national TV contracts with NBC, ESPN, FOX, CBS, and DirecTV.  The wireless deal with Verizon also pumps up the number, as does the 34-percent chunk of ticket sales that go to the visiting team in name, but that as a practical matter are pooled for revenue sharing.

The massive shared amount, which exceeds last year’s salary cap of $123 million by more than 50 percent, highlights the ongoing importance of the broadcast antitrust exemption.  The federal law, passed decades ago, gives the NFL the ability to negotiate TV deals as a 32-business block, forcing networks that covet broadcasts of significant national interest to also take less attractive games involving less compelling teams.

If that exemption ever goes away, all teams would have to cut their own deals, and a handful of teams would make a killing.  Which could make it tempting for some owners to not be all that upset if the exemption ever evaporates.

Still, revenue sharing levels the playing field, ensuring that the NFL won’t be split into a collections of haves and have nots.

Maybe that should be have mores, and have mosts.

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Nealy admits taking a “banned stimulant”

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Another suspension under the PED program, another player who hasn’t admitted to taking a stigmatizing compound like steroids.

Like Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan eight days ago on that pre-July 4 bad-news dump by the NFL, Vikings linebacker Spencer Nealy admits that he violated the policy — by taking a banned stimulant.

“”Recently I learned from the NFL that I tested positive for a stimulant that is banned under the NFL policy,” Nealy said in a statement issued by the NFLPA.  “I worked with my agent and the union to investigate the test results, and I learned that a supplement I took contained a banned stimulant.  I understand that the NFL policy is very strict, and I take responsibility.  I’’m very sorry for the impact of this situation on my teammates, the Vikings organization and Vikings fans.  I will work extremely hard during training camp, and during the suspension, I will stay in top shape and will be ready to contribute upon my return.””

If that text sounds familiar, it should.  It reads a lot like the statement issued by the Dolphins on Jordan’s behalf.

“I recently learned from the NFL that I tested positive for stimulants that are banned under the NFL policy,” Jordan’s statement said.  “I worked carefully with my advisors and the union to investigate the test results, and I take full responsibility for the test results.  I’m very sorry for the impact of this situation on my teammates, coaches, Stephen Ross, the entire Dolphins organization, fans and my family as well.  I will continue to work extremely hard during training camp and preseason.  During the suspension, I will stay in top shape and will be ready to contribute upon my return.”

The biggest substantive difference between the statements comes from Nealy’s concession that he took a supplement that contained a banned stimulant.  He doesn’t, unlike others before him, claim that the supplement was spiked with the banned stimulant without his knowledge.

For both players, the term “stimulant” has replaced the recent explanations pointing to Adderall, which contains a banned stimulant.  And while it’s entirely possible that both players indeed took a banned stimulant and not something more sinister like steroids, there’s no way to know because the NFL currently doesn’t have the ability to correct the record by disputing either player.

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Spencer Nealy suspended four games for violating PED policy

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Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy will serve a four-game suspension to begin the 2014 regular season after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league said Friday.

Nealy, 24, spent part of the 2013 season on the Vikings’ practice squad. The club signed him to a reserve/future deal in December.

Nealy can take part in the Vikings’ training camp and preseason activities before serving his suspension. He can first return to an NFL roster on Monday, September 29.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Nealy played collegiately at Texas A&M. He had a stint with Detroit last year before joining Minnesota in August.

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John Harbaugh: Our defense will be top-five in the league at worst

Matt Elam AP

The Ravens won the Super Bowl after the 2012 season, but that didn’t guarantee an extended stay for any players on the defensive side of the ball.

Baltimore returns just two starters — linebacker Terrell Suggs and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata — from that team and they’ve been working to replenish the talent supply. Their first four picks in the 2013 draft were defensive players, but they gave up the most fourth quarter points in team history. They added four more in the first four rounds of this year’s draft, leaving coach John Harbaugh to set a high bar for the unit to reach on the field this season.

“The expectation for our defense is to be top-five, at the worst,” Harbaugh said, via “It has always been that way and always will be.”

This year’s Ravens defense is much shorter on experience than the one that won the Super Bowl, but the hope is that the infusion of youth over the last two years has upped the speed and athleticism enough to bring the team back to previous heights. It’s a big bet and one that will further solidify the reputations of Harbaugh, defensive coordinator Dean Pees and General Manager Ozzie Newsome if it pays off.

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Colts part ways with repeat offender LaVon Brazill

Brazill AP

The Colts know when to take advantage of news cover.

So they dumped the bad stuff, and LaVon Brazill on Friday afternoon when everyone was otherwise occupied.

The team announced they signed wide receiver Aaron Burks and waived Brazill, who was suspended for a year for his latest violation of the substance abuse policy.

It’s certainly not a show of compassion and forgiveness, the kind of thoughts that were common for pill-addict owner Jim Irsay.

Speaking of Irsay, we haven’t heard anything from the league on him.

It’s early yet.

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The Redskins claim 23rd spot in PFT’s preseason power rankings

DeAngelo Hall AP

There are no ulterior motives for the Redskins this season, but will there be victories?

Our votes for PFT’s preseason power rankings say the team has some work to do to convince us that firing Mike Shanahan was enough to completely turn things around after a 3-13 2013 season. The Redskins come in at No. 23 in the rankings, one spot ahead of the Cowboys and behind the Giants and Eagles.

Our preview runs down everything you need know about the Redskins heading into camp, but defensive questions loom the largest when it comes to reasons for doubt about the Redskins’ turnaround. Those doubts are balanced by quarterback Robert Griffin III’s return to health and upgraded talent at wide receiver, but what the final result will look like remains up in the air ahead of training camp.

Let us know what you think of the Redskins’ rating in the poll below and in the comments.

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Jaguars’ Brown, Shorts taking part in Larry Fitzgerald’s camp

Cecil Shorts AP

At 26, Cecil Shorts III is the oldest wide receiver on the Jaguars’ roster.

The club’s second oldest receiver, Mike Brown, is 25.

We mention this because Brown and Shorts, per the Jaguars’ website, are among those taking part in Larry Fitzgerald’s annual workouts in Minnesota. And both Shorts and Brown appear to be making the most of the experience.

“You get a chance to see what other guys are doing on the field, how they run their routes, how they set their routes up – things like that,” Brown told of the workouts, which have attracted about 30 players, he said. “You’re always looking for something to pick up from every single person.”

Shorts, meanwhile, told the club’s site he has enjoyed watching how Fitzgerald goes about his business.

“That’s the biggest thing for me, seeing how he deals with people, how he attacks his game, how he works on his craft,” Shorts told “He’s a future Hall of Famer. He’s up here, willing to work with guys who are trying to get on teams, guys in college, guys fighting to get on teams. It says a lot about him. He’s a humble guy.”

That Shorts and Brown are willing to work and eager to improve in the early days of July has to appreciated by the Jaguars, who have a pair of rookie wideouts (Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee) who figure to play this season. If a club’s veteran players set the right example with their actions, that’s a healthy outcome for the organization.

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Cam Newton will catch up with his new WRs next week

Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin AP

Other than a few 7-on-7s on the final day of minicamp, none of the Panthers’ new wide receivers has been able to work with Cam Newton this offseason as he recovered from ankle surgery.

They’re going to get a chance to catch up next week.

Panthers wideout Tiquan Underwood told Tom Pelissero of USA Today that Newton and the rest of the quarterbacks would get together for some work before training camp.

It’s been more difficult because Cam’s coming off an ankle injury and he had to get surgery, so we couldn’t throw with him as much as we would like,” Underwood said. “I know we’re all going to get together next week in Charlotte. We’re just going to try to speed up the process. We’re all going to throw — Derek Anderson, Cam Newton, Joe Webb, Matt Blanchard and all the receivers — just to work on timing and get that down pat before camp.”

Newton needs to learn them, since they’re all new. The Panthers lost Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon this offseason, replacing them with first-rounder Kelvin Benjamin and veterans Underwood, Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery.

That’s going to take more than a week of throwing it around to make up for, but the extra time is at least a chance for Newton to catch up.

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Graham’s camp believe appeal deadline comes Monday at 4:00 p.m. ET

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If the Saints and Jimmy Graham don’t work out a long-term deal soon, Graham will have to file an appeal of the arbitration ruling on his franchise-tag status or waive the issue.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Graham’s camp believes his deadline for filing the appeal is Monday, July 14, at 4:00 p.m. ET.

The thinking is that Graham actually received the ruling on Thursday, July 3, even though the ruling was released on Wednesday, July 2.  The 10-day clock expires on Sunday, July 13.  Because the window closes on a Sunday, Graham has until the next day the league office is open to file the notice of appeal, pushing his deadline to 4:00 p.m. ET on Monday.

Still, why chance it?  With the Saints understanding that business is business, why not start the appeal process now and avoid a potential Dumervil-style fax machine faux pas?  Moreover, if a long-term deal isn’t worked out by July 15, the appeal process will be farther along than it would be if Graham waits until the last minute.

With the Saints and Graham required to get any long-term deal signed and filed by 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, it’s fair to say that one or the other will happen by Monday at 4:00 p.m. ET — Graham will sign a long-term deal, or he’ll file his appeal.

There’s a chance that both will happen, with Graham filing the appeal as a last-ditch effort to get that last concession from the team, and the Saints giving it to him once the appeal is filed.

It makes the most sense to just get the deal done now.  But the Saints are taking it slowly, likely because the Saints suspect that, when push comes to shove, Graham will pounce on the offer that’s currently on the table, or something very close to it.

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