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Browns claim six players, still need a kicker

Brandon Magee AP

The Browns were one of the busiest teams in the league on Sunday, claiming six players off of waivers, but they still lack a key piece for their special teams.

Cleveland remains without a kicker on their 53-man roster, so they’ll have at least one more move to make unless they are going to try something completely different. According to coach Rob Chudzinski, they aren’t.

“Again, our roster is fluid right now,” Chudzinski said in a statement from the team. “We still need to address our kicker position, so we’re not done. We’re a young and hungry team with some solid veteran leaders. I like the foundation we have in place as we enter the season. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

The Browns confirmed that running backs Bobby Rainey and Dennis Johnson are two of the players they claimed, giving them more options behind Trent Richardson. The other new members of the Browns are tight end MarQueis Gray, offensive lineman Patrick Lewis, linebacker Brandon Magee (pictured) and tight end Keavon Milton. Magee was cut by the Cowboys despite getting $70,000 to sign with the team as an undrafted free agent.

In addition to the previously reported cuts of running back Brandon Jackson and tight end Kellen Davis, the Browns also cut linebacker L.J. Fort, offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann, offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw and fullback Brad Smelley.

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Thursday morning one-liners

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers embrace before the game at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Bills coach Rex Ryan is selling his home in Buffalo (one can only imagine what Rob did to the guest room).

An offseason to-do list for the Dolphins.

Patriots WR Michael Floyd is still learning what QB Tom Brady likes.

The Jets aren’t carrying over much salary cap room.

A look at the future for Ravens OLB Elvis Dumervil.

Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth has a different perspective on the Pro Bowl than younger players.

The Browns might not get DeShaun Watson, but they will work with a number of talented top prospects at the Senior Bowl.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says he’s not in Tom Brady’s class (and waits for someone to argue with him).

Other teams were sniffing around Mike Vrabel before the Texans promoted him to defensive coordinator.

The Colts have another banner which has nothing to do with winning.

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles will be learning his third new system in four years.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota is recovering well after surgery.

Broncos coach Vance Joseph wants his offense to lead the team, in which case they might be hustling backward.

The Chiefs staff will coach the Pro Bowl, which means more beachwear for coach Andy Reid.

The Chargers are going to stick with the same uniforms, for now.

Raiders OL coach Mike Tice is staying in Oakland with a new deal.

The Cowboys will get to host the Packers again next year.

Giants S Landon Collins said the secondary turned down an invitation to the infamous boat ride.

The Eagles added some veteran line depth with G Dallas Thomas.

Taking a look at Washington’s options with Kirk Cousins.

The Bears continue to get recognition for their rookie class.

A look at some possible free agent fits for the Lions.

Packers veteran pass-rusher Julius Peppers isn’t thinking about the future beyond this week.

Former Vikings QB Brad Johnson’s son is getting college offers, despite being in eighth grade.

Falcons S Ricardo Allen has taken a leadership role in the secondary.

Panthers C Ryan Kalil is part of the group remaking “White Men Can’t Jump.”

For all their problems, the Saints don’t have to worry about QB at the moment.

The Buccaneers found a Canadian import before the wall goes up (wait, wrong border).

A look at the Cardinals’ free agent priorities.

Rams coordinator Greg Olson is back, although in a new city and with none of the players from his first stint in that job.

The Falcons aren’t keeping the 49ers coaching news much of a secret.

Finding secondary depth will be an offseason priority for the Seahawks.

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Vance Joseph: Sexual assault claims are false

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 12:  Vance Josepf addresses the media after being introduced as the Denver Broncos new head coach during  a press conference at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on January 12, 2017 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph responded to the publication of details from a 2004 Boulder Police Department report that included sexual assault allegations against him.

Joseph was accused of sexually assaulting two trainers at the University of Colorado, where he was working as an assistant coach, but was neither charged nor interviewed by police. One of the two women in the report did not want to press charges and the other didn’t agree to speak to police, which led to the case being closed.

On Wednesday, Joseph, who left the school shortly after the alleged incidents, told Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post that the claims “are false.”

“That was resolved a long time ago,” Joseph said. “For myself, for my family, for the Denver Broncos, I’m disappointed and embarrassed. I was a young guy and it showed to my immaturity and irresponsibility in my life when I was younger. But I’ve grown so much and that’s why I’m disappointed, because I’ve grown so much as a person, as a coach, as a father, as a husband. Everyone who knows me knows that I try to live my life the right way, and I regret that my name is even associated with this.”

Joseph said that he spoke with General Manager John Elway and team president Joe Ellis about the allegations and the Broncos released a statement last weekend saying they were aware of them while noting that Joseph was not charged.

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Jordy Nelson: I can’t be out there moving slowly

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 1: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers looks for yards against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 1, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson returned to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, marking the first time that he’s been on the field since breaking ribs against the Giants in the Wild Card round.

Nelson said after the workout that he’s breathing easier than he was right after getting hurt and that he’s feeling better in general, but acknowledged that he doesn’t know that he’ll be able to show he’s “fully functional” in time to play against the Falcons on Sunday.

“I’ve improved every day. Hopefully that continues,” Nelson said, via the Wisconsin State Journal. “I’ve got to be able to go out and perform. I just can’t be out there slowly running or just being some random person. I’ve never played receiver with broken ribs. We’ll find out, hopefully. If it happens, we’ll see how it goes. Right now, I’m just focused on getting back to full motion and doing everything and seeing if we can get that opportunity.”

Nelson said he expects to wear additional pads if he does play in Atlanta and his status isn’t the only one to watch at receiver. Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison both sat out practice and Adams isn’t expected to work all week because of an ankle injury, which could leave the Packers with a serious shortage at receiver.

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Roger Goodell confident things are going to be just fine in L.A.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stands on the field prior to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahwaks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Never mind that Los Angeles doesn’t seem to want the Chargers, or that the Chargers reluctantly went there. And never mind that they’ll play in a 30,000-seat stadium for a couple of years, before becoming the sorry brother-in-law sleeping on Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s fancy new couch in Inglewood. And never mind that neither team is very good, and fewer and fewer people want to watch them.

This is going to be a huge success for everyone, declared NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

It’s a great market,” Goodell said at a rally yesterday, via Eric Williams of ESPN.com. “It’s the second largest market in the country and the entertainment capital of the world. We have millions of fans here, and we’ve had two teams in the market before, and we’re building an extraordinary stadium.”

Of course, all those extra eyeballs and dollars didn’t translate into numbers last year, as ratings declined when the locals were fed a steady diet of Rams games (and who says they have no taste there?). But Goodell said the long-view of the situation is positive, and that having both teams put down roots there will help it become something greater.

“Everyone wants their home team to win; that’s shown throughout the country,” Goodell said. “These teams will transition into this market. You see the great athletes and great players that they have. They’re going to be great off the field as well in this community, and that’s going to take some time.

“We’ll have a new stadium coming on in 2019, so we truly believe and are confident in this market. And we understand the challenges that we have to meet here. We have to set a high bar here in Los Angeles, and we’re committed to doing that.”

One of the challenges they have to overcome is apathy, as the Rams haven’t had a winning season anywhere since 2003 or in Los Angeles since 1989. And the Chargers have thus far been nothing more than a punchline, with their logo being mocked and movers refusing to move them, setting the stage for a Lakers-Clippers relationship.

Of course, the Lakers actually won occasionally, so it might be a Clippers-Clippers situation.

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Brandon Marshall: Any team should be happy to have me for $7.5 million

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 17:  Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets makes a catch against Tony Lippett #36 of the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on December 17, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the regular season ended, Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall spoke to reporters in the locker room and seemed to suggest that he’d be open to taking a pay cut for the 2017 season.

Marshall said that it’s “not about the money anymore” and that he’d “play for free” because his bills are paid. In an appearance on “Boomer & Carton” on WFAN, however, Marshall revisited the issue and sent a very different message. Marshall said that “any team should be happy to have me” for the $7.5 million salary he’s set to make next season.

“What I said was, to clarify my statement, I said I love the game so much that if my bills were paid, which they are, I’ll play for free. But teams also know my value,” Marshall said, via NJ.com. “I’ve probably been underpaid the last six years, if we’re really about comparing production to receivers across the league and what I’ve been doing … Now, when you only catch 50-something balls for over 700 yards and you’re 30-something years, that’s when teams come to you like, ‘We don’t think you’re good anymore.'”

Moving on from Marshall would result in saving his entire $7.5 million salary under the cap, something that the team might prefer to an aging receiver in what’s expected to be an extensive overhaul of the roster this offseason. They might also like to keep Marshall while saving some money, but Marshall’s latest comments make that seem unlikely.

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Bills interview Ken Dorsey for offensive coordinator opening

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 8:  Quarterbacks Coach Ken Dorsey and Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers talk on the sidelines during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 8, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Panthers 31-13.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers coach Ron Rivera stressed the need for his offense to “evolve,” but so far, that hasn’t included any major changes.

But one may be coming.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, the Bills interviewed Panthers quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey for their offensive coordinator opening. Former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott obviously has a connection there, having worked together the last four years.

The 35-year-old Dorsey has enjoyed the good and the bad of the last two seasons, from being there as Cam Newton won an MVP and they went to the Super Bowl, to watching Newton regress badly this year (among other factors) as they fell to 6-10.

Dorsey worked in pro scouting for the Panthers prior to joining the coaching staff.

Coupled with receivers coach Ricky Proehl stepping away, it would give Rivera a chance to freshen up his staff.

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Tom Brady in trouble? Right

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on 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 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The man who shrugged at an assault from Dabo Swinney by claiming it’s better to be interesting than right has opted for neither this week when launching an assault on the greatest quarterback to ever play. Colin Cowherd believes that, with a lackluster postseason performance against the Steelers, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be in jeopardy of being jettisoned for Jimmy Garoppolo.

While it’s entirely possible that, at some point, Brady’s desire to keep playing will outlive the team’s desire to employ him, that’s not happening if Brady loses at home to the Steelers on Sunday.

Cowherd’s primary argument is that Brady has had two straight postseason “clunkers.” And while, statistically, that’s true in comparison to, you know, his league-record 28 touchdown passes against only two picks in 12 regular-season games (good for a passer rating in excess of 112), the Patriots beat the Texans by 18 and were a two-point conversion away from forcing overtime in Denver notwithstanding Brady’s”clunkers.”

The entire premise of Cowherd’s argument is that coach Bill Belichick always gets rid of a guy one year too early in lieu of doing so one year too late. But that’s not universal. Exceptions have been made for players like Troy Brown, and an exception definitely would be made for Brady, who consistently has left money on the table when doing new deals in order to ensure that he’ll never put Belichick in a position where he has to decide whether to dump Brady for cap reasons.

Last week, Scott Zolak of the Patriots Radio Network blurted out that Brady will have the job “until he dies.” I’ll give Zolak a chance to put Cowherd’s theory to rest on Thursday’s PFT Live when Zolak makes a return visit at 8:35 a.m. ET.

Tune in at Sirius 213, XM 202, NBCSportsRadio.com, the NBC Sports Radio app, and/or NBCSN.

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Antonio Brown: Malcolm Butler “puts hands on you like no other”

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is pursued by Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots after making a catch in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown will have his hands full with Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. And Brown thinks Butler may have his hands full of Brown’s jersey.

Brown said Butler is a physical cornerback who gets his hands on opposing receivers as much as anyone in the NFL, and that’s what Brown will have to be ready for on Sunday.

“Butler finishes to the ball. He puts hands on you like no other. We are up for the challenge,” Brown said.

Butler has shadowed Brown in each of the last two Steelers-Patriots games, and for the most part Brown has won their individual matchups: Brown caught seven passes for 106 yards when the Steelers and Patriots played this season, and Brown caught nine passes for 133 yards when the Steelers and Patriots played last season.

If Butler can’t get his hands on Brown on Sunday, it’s going to be tough for the Patriots to stop the Steelers’ offense.

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Pete Carroll concerned with C.J. Prosise’s durability

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13: C.J. Prosise #22 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball during the third quarter of a game against the New England Patriots during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seattle’s season came to an end on Saturday before running back C.J. Prosise could return from a fractured scapula that wiped out the second half of his rookie season with the Seahawks.

The broken shoulder-blade was the fourth injury that caused Prosise to miss time since being drafted in May. A hip flexor issue kept Prosise sidelined in OTAs. A hamstring strain took away time in training camp and a broken wrist bone in Seattle’s regular season opener against Miami forced Prosise to miss four games.

“I can’t tell you that I’m not concerned about C.J,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “He had trouble through the offseason, was unavailable to us throughout, and there was a groin and a hammy and a wrist and then the scapula thing he had. He has to show it.”

Prosise had 369 total yards over the four games preceding his injury against the Philadelphia Eagles in mid-Novemeber. He rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries and caught 16 passes for 195 yards. However, he also missed 12 of 18 games regular and postseason games for Seattle.

“He certainly is on it when he’s right,” Carroll said. “We would have had a shot this week to try and get him out there again, we would have busted it to get it and he would have had a really good chance to make it, so he was that close to returning. But there is a concern.”

The Seahawks had 11 different running backs carry the ball at least once for them this season due to injuries to Prosise and Thomas Rawls.

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Who will win the NFC title game?

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 30:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 30, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

With two games to be played this weekend, the questions of the day for Thursday’s and Friday’s PFT Live are as simple as they can be. Who wins?

For Thursday, it’s the NFC. Packers at Falcons.

Vote, comment, vote again, comment again. Tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET to NBC Sports Radio and then to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. for the simulcast. Guests include Scott Zolak of the Patriots Radio Network and MDS of PFT.

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Report: Seahawks will sign Perrish Cox

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 13:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is hit by Perrish Cox #20 of the Tennessee Titans after he scores a touchdown during the game at Nissan Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks plan to sign veteran cornerback Perrish Cox, NFL Network reported Wednesday.

The Seahawks need experience in their secondary with Deshawn Shead having ACL surgery after being injured last weekend and both Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman also dealing with injuries. The team won’t push Thomas and Sherman in training camp if they aren’t ready, so the addition of Cox likely isn’t the only move the Seahawks will make to bolster their secondary depth.

Cox, 30, went from starter for the Titans in November to being released soon after. He played in 11 games last season, starting nine, and has started 45 of 81 games in his career.

A fifth-round pick of the Broncos in 2010, Cox has also played for the 49ers and previously spent time with the Seahawks in 2013.

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Jim Irsay breaks silence, says nothing about his coach and G.M.

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24:  Team owner Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts waves to the crowd after the Colts defeated the New York Jets 30-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Long before Donald Trump was using Twitter as a tool for talking directly to the people, Colts owner Jim Irsay had perfected the craft. To a fault.

But even as the Two-Days-From-Now-Commander-In-Chief continues  to expand his presence on social media, Irsay has been dormant. Until today.

He finally broke his silence, 12 days after declaring that the team had signed a backup kicker. But Irsay didn’t address the elephant on the room; he simply retweeted a “thank you” from the team to retiring linebacker Robert Mathis.

Meanwhile, with mounting reports, rumors, and speculation about his pursuit of a new coach and/or General Manager and/or leader of the entire football operation, Irsay has still said nothing about the status of coach Chuck Pagano and G.M. Ryan Grigson.

Nothing. Not a word. Not a peep. On the record, off the record, nowhere.

There are three logical explanations for this. First, Irsay is still trying to lure Peyton Manning to take over the team, and the two of them are engaged in a negotiation that has yet to result in either man blinking. Second, Irsay had moved on to other candidates to take over the team, and those efforts are still pending. Third, Irsay has given up on finding replacements but it’s gotten to the point where declaring that both Pagano and Grigson will be back would make the delay seem even more conspicuous, so Irsay is simply going to say nothing and eventually act like nothing was happening.

Through it all, Pagano and Grigson have been left in limbo, a situation that surely causes plenty of personal angst and professional embarrassment. Again, what options do they have? They could quit, but they’d forfeit their buyouts.

And so the only solace comes from knowing that they’ll still be getting paid for the next three years, whether working for Irsay or not. At this point, they may welcome the “or not” option.

As to anyone who may be considering wink-nod accepting employment from Irsay while he’s still officially employing Pagano and Grigson, consider this: You could be the next one to eventually be undermined by an owner who looks for your replacement before he fires you.

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Rams long snapper picked for Pro Bowl

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 15:  Head coach John Fassel talks with Jake McQuaide #44 of the Los Angeles Rams against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 15, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rams long snapper Jake McQuaide has been selected to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl.

McQuaide is a first-time Pro Bowler. He’s been the Rams’ long snapper since 2011.

The Pro Bowl is Jan. 29 in Orlando.

McQuaide becomes the third Rams player to be selected for the Pro Bowl, joining punter Johnny Hekker and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

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Carl Cheffers set to referee the Super Bowl

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 24: Referee Carl Cheffers #51 signals a turnover in the first quarter of the game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum on December 24, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The referee who made the most controversial penalty call of the playoffs will referee the Super Bowl.

Carl Cheffers, who threw the holding flag on Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher that negated Kansas City’s game-tying two-point conversion against the Steelers, has been given the Super Bowl assignment, according to FootballZebras.com.

That won’t sit well with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who said after that holding call that Cheffers “shouldn’t be able to wear a zebra jersey.”

This will be Cheffers’ first Super Bowl. Three of the other officials on the Super Bowl crew — head linesman Kent Payne, line judge Jeff Seeman and field judge Doug Rosenbaum — have worked a Super Bowl before, while three others — umpire Dan Ferrell, side judge Dyrol Prioleau and back judge Todd Prukop — will be working their first Super Bowl.

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Jaguars keep Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Jaguars announced Wednesday that they’re retaining Nathaniel Hackett as their offensive coordinator.

Hackett, 37, spent the last two seasons as the team’s quarterbacks coach and last year was promoted to offensive coordinator under then-coach Gus Bradley nine games into the season following the firing of Greg Olson.

New coach Doug Marrone is keeping Hackett in that role in part because the two have history. Hackett was offensive coordinator under Marrone at Syracuse and with the Bills.

“We are excited to announce Nathaniel Hackett as our offensive coordinator and he will immediately be tasked with installing and implementing our offense this offseason,” Marrone said in the team’s statement. “I have had the pleasure of working with Nathaniel for seven consecutive seasons and know firsthand how knowledgeable and passionate he is about winning.”

Hackett becomes the sixth coach officially added to Marrone’s staff after the Jaguars announced last week that Marrone, the interim coach after Bradley’s firing, would take over on a permanent basis.

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