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NFL morning after: Week One is so much fun

Anquan Boldin of the San Francisco 49ers falls as he is being tackled by Jerron McMillian of the Green Bay Packers during their NFL season home opener football in San Francisco Reuters

Football is back. Can you believe it?

Can you believe the day’s two biggest favorites, the Patriots and Colts, had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the Bills and Raiders?

Can you believe the Giants turned the ball over three times in the first six minutes on Sunday night?

Can you believe that Adrian Peterson ran for a 78-yard touchdown the first time he touched the ball — and then gained just 15 yards on 17 carries the rest of the way?

Can you believe that Tyrann Mathieu needed only one quarter as an NFL player to make exactly the kind of ball-hawking play he was famous for at LSU, stripping Jared Cook to save a touchdown?

Can you believe that the beleaguered Jets actually won their opener, in the most ridiculous manner possible, with a Buccaneers penalty setting up the game-winning field goal?

Can you believe that three different games started with safeties and had scores of 2-0 in the first quarter?

Can you believe Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, with 112 rushing yards, is currently the NFL’s leading rusher?

This is why Week One of the NFL season is so much fun: We go from no football at all for seven months to 10 games at once, and about a hundred things you never expected all happening simultaneously. About two hours after kickoff of the early games on Sunday, I was so exhausted just trying to follow it all that I wasn’t sure if I’d make it for the nine hours or so of football that were still ahead of us.

But I made it, just like you did, just like millions of Americans who have been desperate for the return of the NFL, who spent all day Sunday on their couches obsessing about football and wondering how we survived these long months without it.

Here’s what went through my mind as I watched it all unfold:

Is it too much to ask that the officials know the rules? Referee Bill Leavy admitted after the 49ers beat the Packers that he and his crew had wrongly given the 49ers a free play, calling it third down after offsetting penalties when it should have been fourth down. The 49ers used that extra down to score a touchdown, and the Packers have every right to be furious about it. It’s one thing for an official to miss a call because he didn’t have a good angle to see it. It’s much worse for the officials to get a ruling like that wrong, even after they had time to review and discuss it.

Ndamukong Suh needs to get a grip. The season just started, but Suh was in midseason form when it came to costly penalties for illegal hits: Suh drilled Vikings center John Sullivan in the knee after DeAndre Levy intercepted a pass, drawing a penalty that cost the Lions a touchdown on Levy’s return. There was absolutely no reason for Suh to hit Sullivan (Levy was already well past him), and it was yet another example of Suh hurting his team while trying to hurt an opponent. Suh had a good game for most of the day: He pressured Christian Ponder into an interception, and he was a big part of a stout defensive effort that saw the Lions bottle up Adrian Peterson for most of the game. But a good game most of the day isn’t good enough. Suh needs to cool it, and if he can’t, Lions coach Jim Schwartz needs to bench him.

The Jaguars may be worse than last year. And last year they were 2-14. Jacksonville simply couldn’t do anything against the Chiefs, who looked like a much better team than a year ago with new coach Andy Reid running the show. I don’t even know what to say about the Jaguars, but I will note that they were the first team in NFL history to lose a game by the score of 28-2. So, there’s that.

Anquan Boldin was the best player in the NFL on Sunday. Boldin is a perfect fit in the 49ers’ offense, and they desperately needed him to step up when No. 1 receiver Michael Crabtree went down. Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome has a great track record of making the right personnel calls, but after a Week One in which Boldin caught 13 passes for 208 yards and the Ravens got whipped by the Broncos, I wonder if Newsome is thinking he should have found a way to make room for Boldin under the Ravens’ salary cap, instead of trading him to San Francisco.

Calvin Johnson had a touchdown overturned on the Calvin Johnson rule. Johnson made a leaping catch at the 1-yard line, stuck the ball across the goal line, then fell to the ground and had the ball wobble when he hit the ground. The official on the field ruled it a touchdown. The referee looked at the replay and changed the call to incomplete pass. Johnson has been here in Week One before, having an apparently game-winning touchdown catch overturned in the opener against the Bears three years ago. He’s probably getting sick of the rule that bears his name.

Kellen Winslow lives! Kellen Winslow caught exactly one pass all year in 2012. You could be forgiven if you thought Winslow was done. But he’s not done, not by a long shot. Winslow had seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown and was the Jets’ best offensive playmaker in their win over the Buccaneers. Winslow’s bad knee will never allow him to be the kind of player he looked like he’d be coming out of college, but he still has something left, and he’ll be a great security blanked for rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

Danny Amendola did what Danny Amendola does. The Patriots’ new go-to receiver did both of the things people thought he’d do: He caught a bunch of passes (10 for 104 yards) and he got hurt (missing some time with a strained groin). If Amendola can stay healthy, he’s going to be a great fit for Tom Brady and Co. But given Amendola’s history, that’s a big “if.”

The Saints are in first place in the NFC South. Last year, the Saints’ defense was a debacle. Through one game this year, the Saints are 1-0 and the rest of the NFC South is 0-1, and the New Orleans defense looked good in the opener against Atlanta. Sean Payton is back, and the Saints are back.

Have you ever heard of Cid Edwards? Edwards was a good-but-not-great running back for the Cardinals, Chargers and Bears in the 1960s and 1970s. He never had 1,000 yards in a season, never made a Pro Bowl, never was an important player on a playoff team. So why am I bringing up Cid Edwards today? Because in 1972, in his first game with the Chargers, Edwards had 100 receiving yards and 97 rushing yards. No other NFL player had ever reached 100 receiving yards and 90 rushing yards in his first game with a new team until Sunday, when Reggie Bush had 101 receiving yards and 90 rushing yards in his first game with the Lions. Bush is a perfect fit in the Lions’ offense, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him lead the league in yards from scrimmage this season.

All Larry Fitzgerald needs is a competent quarterback. Fitzgerald doesn’t need a good quarterback — which is a good thing, because I’m not sure that Carson Palmer, at age 33, still qualifies as a good quarterback. But Palmer is at least a competent quarterback, and you couldn’t even say that for any of the other quarterbacks the Cardinals have had since Kurt Warner retired (Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer, Derek Anderson and Max Hall). Now that Fitzgerald has someone competent throwing him the ball, expect him to resume putting up big numbers. Fitzgerald scored two touchdowns on Sunday after scoring only four touchdowns all season last year.

We have 16 more of these Sundays. Yesterday was a lot of fun. We have a lot more fun ahead of us.

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Jamari Lattimore signs with Jets

Matthew Stafford, Jamari Lattimore AP

The Jets have added another player to their linebacking corps.

They announced the signing of former Packer Jamari Lattimore on Wednesday. Lattimore visited with the team last month.

Lattimore made the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and spent the last four years playing mostly on special teams and as a reserve in Green Bay. He did make five starts at inside linebacker last season, although the Jets will likely keep him as a depth option as long as David Harris and Demario Davis, their starters on the inside, are healthy.

Lattimore is the third Packers inside linebacker from last season to wind up with a new team this offseason. A.J. Hawk signed with the Bengals and Brad Jones landed in Philly after getting released by Green Bay.

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Bears re-sign CB Sherrick McManis

Jacksonville Jaguars v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Bears have retained a backup defensive back and key special-teamer, reaching a one-year deal with cornerback Sherrick McManis, the club announced Wednesday.

The 27-year-old McManis appeared in 12 games as a Bears reserve in 2014, with the club crediting him with 13 special teams tackles. A Northwestern product, McManis has played in 39 games the last three seasons for Chicago after two seasons with Houston (2010-2011).

McManis’ ticket onto the roster figures to be tied to his versatility and experience. He could project as the Bears’ fourth or fifth cornerback and a core kicking game player.

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Stefen Wisniewski’s latest free agent visit with Patriots this week

Stefen Wisniewski Getty Images

The Patriots became leverage for Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain to get a better deal at home, but they won’t have to worry about that with their latest visitor.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the Patriots hosted Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski on a visit this week.

Wisniewski is coming off shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, but has still drawn considerable interest. He’s had visits with the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Bears already, with others checking in.

The Raiders don’t need him after signing former Chiefs center Rodney Hudson to a big money deal, but plenty of others could use him and realize an upgrade (assuming he’s healthy).

While the number of visits and his injury history indicates he’s not yet ready to sign, the Patriots clearly think he could help.

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Texans sign Nate Washington

Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

The Texans have added another veteran wideout to the group of players vying for playing time alongside DeAngelo Hopkins in their 2015 lineup.

The team announced Wednesday that they’ve agreed to a deal with former Titans wide receiver Nate Washington. Houston has also signed ex-Jaguar Cecil Shorts this offseason while losing Andre Johnson to the Colts in their game of AFC South receiver roulette.

Washington spent six seasons with the Titans, culminating with 40 catches for 647 yards and two touchdowns while making 11 starts for the team in 2014. Those numbers are in line with his usual production in Tennessee, outside of the 74-catch, 1,023-yard season in 2011 that stands as Washington’s most productive NFL season.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that it is a one-year deal worth $1 million with $30,000 in guaranteed money, which doesn’t leave the Texans with much reason to hold onto Washington should the 31-year-old look unable to help the team once they start on-field preparations for next season.

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Ravens trade Gino Gradkowski to Broncos

Baltimore Ravens v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Broncos have been looking to add to their options at center this offseason and it looks like they’ve settled on a player who played for head coach Gary Kubiak in Baltimore last season.

The Ravens announced Wednesday that they have traded center Gino Gradkowski and a 2016 draft pick to the Broncos in exchange for a 2016 draft pick. There are no details about which picks will be swapped or if there are any conditions based on Gradkowski’s output in Denver that can change the compensation.

Gradkowski was a fourth-round pick by Baltimore in 2012 and started every game at center for the Ravens during his second NFL season. The results were not all that good, leading Baltimore to trade for Jeremy Zuttah before the 2014 season. Gradkowski saw just a handful of snaps as a reserve in Baltimore and may not have made the team this year with John Urschel and Ryan Jensen on hand as other options in the middle of the line.

The Broncos had Manny Ramirez at center to start last season and moved Will Montgomery into the first team as they looked for a better unit as the year went on. Montgomery is a free agent, leaving Gradkowski without much in the way of experienced competition for the job at the moment.

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Kevin White will attend the draft

White AP

With Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota not attending the 2015 NFL draft, the NFL needs some of the other big-name prospects to show up for the first non-New York draft show since 1965.  In that regard, the NFL can count on former West Virginia receiver Kevin White.

White told PFT this week that he’ll be backstage at the draft when his name is called.  He also may need a tissue.  Or two. Or more.

“I think I’m going to be very emotional, a lot of tears, just because it has been a very long journey for me,” White said.  “A lot of the guys go straight out of high school to Division One. I had to go to junior college and even when I was at junior college, I had to miss a season.  It’s been a long journey.  My junior year wasn’t great.  I had a lot of nicks and bruises and we had a losing season.  It’s been a long journey for me, a lot of pressure on me to kind of do what I have to do to make it.  It’s not very common for a guy like me to make it so come draft day, I’m going to be very emotional.”

While it’s a given White will hear his name early in round one, he hasn’t been hearing from many teams.

“When I was training, a lot of teams would call but after the Combine, not too many teams called me,” White said.  “I haven’t been getting a lot of interest or phone calls or a lot of team meetings or workouts.  I’m not sure what the deal is.  Like I said, I am going to continue to train and do what I have to do and hopefully everything will pay off. . . .

“Maybe they’ve seen it all and heard it all so maybe I’m in the clear,” White added.  “Until they call or I have a set workout schedule, I’m just going to continue to do what I have to do and wherever I do go, if I have a workout or prior workout, I’ll enjoy it and try to make the most out of it.”

The full interview with Kevin White appears below.  Among other things, he identifies a couple of NFL receivers who remind White of himself (one of whom wears No. 11), and he talks about his NFL mentor (a different guy who also wears No. 11).

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Should Cowboys pursue Adrian Peterson?

Adrian Peterson AP

The Cowboys created $12.8 million in cap space by exercising their pre-existing right to restructure quarterback Tony Romo’s contract.  So what should they do with the money?

Well, Adrian Peterson’s base salary of 2015 is a mere $12.75 million.

Previously, the Cowboys weren’t regarded as a favorite to land Peterson, if the Vikings decide to trade him.  And it still may be a long shot.

But that doesn’t stop us from asking whether they should.  It also doesn’t stop you from answering.

We’ll share the results of the poll question on Wednesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.  Jason Taylor and Jonathan Vilma will report from the University of Miami Pro Day workout, and we’ll take a closer look at the Rams and Giants draft plans with Paul Burmeiser, Ross Tucker, and Kevin Gilbride in Connecticut.

I’ll make my contributions from, as usual, my basement in West Virginia.  Tune in to NBCSN at 5:30 p.m. ET for the one-hour extravaganza.

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Steelers bring back defensive end Clifton Geathers for a year

Geathers Getty Images

The Steelers keep filling in the blanks on defense, hanging onto a guy they signed last year but didn’t use.

They announced that defensive end Clifton Geathers had been re-signed to a one-year contract.

The sixth-year lineman signed with them last December, but he was inactive for all four regular season games and one in the playoffs.

Geathers has bounced through a lot of stops, since he was a sixth-round pick of the Browns in 2010.

He’s also been with the Dolphins, Cowboys, Colts, Eagles and Washington as well.

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Bengals bring back Brandon Tate

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Wide receiver/kick returner Brandon Tate visited with the Chiefs this week and the prospect of losing him may have spurred the Bengals into taking action to ensure Tate’s return to the team for the 2015 season.

The Bengals announced Wednesday that they have re-signed Tate, who has spent the last four seasons in Cincinnati.

“Brandon has been a big contributor to the success of our team in qualifying for the playoffs the past four seasons,” coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement. “We are happy he has decided to remain a Bengal.”

Tate joined the Bengals as a waiver claim in 2011 after he was cut loose by the Patriots and has spent most of his time with the team as their primary kickoff and punt returner. He wasn’t particularly productive in either role last season, which led many to believe that the Bengals would be looking elsewhere for return help in 2015.

They still may do that in the draft, especially if they can find a player who also offers a potential boost to the offense as a receiver. Tate caught 17 passes for the Bengals last season, but has never made much of an impact in the passing game during his time with the team.

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Bears sign Sam Acho

Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

The Bears brought in a new defensive coordinator this offseason when Vic Fangio signed on to head coach John Fox’s first Chicago staff and that’s expected to mean a move toward the 3-4 base look that both men favored in previous stops.

On Wednesday, they added a player with experience in such schemes. The Bears announced they have signed former Cardinals outside linebacker Sam Acho to a one-year deal.

Acho was a fourth-round pick by Arizona in 2011 and made a splash as a rookie with seven sacks and four forced fumbles in 16 games. Acho added four more sacks while making 16 starts in his second season, but missed most of 2013 with a broken leg and contributed just one sack to the team’s pass rush.

The Bears signed Pernell McPhee to go with holdover options Lamarr Houston, Shea McClellin and Jared Allen on the edges of the defense. Acho will work his way into that mix as well and the Bears will determine how all the pieces fit once they start their offseason program.

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Cowboys restructure Tony Romo’s deal yet again for cap room

Tony Romo AP

Tony Romo didn’t take a pay cut to help keep DeMarco Murray.

But coincidentally, his latest restructuring creates enough cap room to make room for the guy who could be his next running back.

The Cowboys have restructured Romo’s deal yet again, creating $12.8 million in cap space this year.  A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that it wasn’t a negotiated restructuring, but an automatic conversion of $16 million of Romo’s base salary to a signing bonus.  His salary for 2015 becomes $1 million.

Granted, that just pushes (yet again) prorations into the future, and whenever the time comes for Romo to be an ex-Cowboy, he’ll be their biggest cap hit for at least a year beyond.

They’ll tack on another $3.2 million worth of cap charge to each of the remaining years of his extension.

And while they might not turn the short-term savings into an Adrian Peterson deal, it is a happy coincidence that the wantaway Vikings running back has a $12.75 million salary coming his way this year.

I’m sure the two aren’t connected.

Right?

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Saints extend Jahri Evans through 2017 season

New Orleans Saints v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The Saints entered the offseason with two guards carrying big cap hits for the 2014 season, but they got rid of one when they traded Ben Grubbs to the Chiefs.

On Wednesday, they announced a contract extension for Jahri Evans that should alleviate much of his cap hit as well. The team added a year to Evans’s deal so that it now runs through the 2017 season.

Exact details of the deal are unknown, but the result is sure to be a lower cap number than the $11 million that Evans stood to count against the cap this year. That makes it easier to hold onto him for this season, something that wasn’t guaranteed at the higher cap number, and it should leave less dead money for them to deal with if they decide to part ways with the 31-year-old down the line.

With the extension in place, Evans will almost certainly be back at right guard where he will play next to new center Max Unger in the reworked interior of the Saints offensive line.

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NFL reaches deal with D.A. to see photos from first Greg Hardy trial

Greg Hardy AP

The NFL has yet to hand down any disciplinary ruling to Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy as a result of their investigation into his domestic violence case from last year and they’ll have a bit more information to consider before making any decision about a violation of the personal conduct policy.

The league has reached a deal with the Mecklenburg County (N.C.) District Attorney’s office to look at seven photos from Hardy’s bench trial last summer. Hardy was found guilty in that trial, but appealed to have a jury trial and then had the charges dismissed when accuser Nicole Holder failed to appear in court.

Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that the photos are of Holder’s injuries and were taken by “a medical advocate.” They will only be seen by the NFL, NFLPA and any experts involved in the investigation.

“We appreciate the District Attorney’s office agreeing to make the information available to us and we look forward to the opportunity to review the photographs,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.

The ability to view these photos, along with ones previously obtained from Charlotte police, should move the league closer to making their call on Hardy’s availability for the coming season.

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Stevan Ridley visits the Jets

ridley AP

Free agent running back Stevan Ridley is continuing to make a tour of the AFC East.

Ridley is visiting the Jets today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

After playing his entire career with the Patriots, Ridley hit free agency this offseason after suffering a torn ACL last year. He has already visited the Dolphins.

The 26-year-old Ridley had 94 carries for 340 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games before he was lost for the season in 2014.

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Saints sign Kyle Wilson

Denver Broncos v New York Jets Getty Images

In 2010, the Saints took cornerback Patrick Robinson with the 32nd pick in the first round of the draft.

Robinson landed in San Diego as a free agent this offseason and part of the team’s plan to replace him on the roster involves another first rounder from that class. The Saints announced Wednesday that they have signed cornerback Kyle Wilson, who went 29th to the Jets that year.

Wilson played in every game over five seasons in Jersey, but never made good on that lofty draft position with the Jets. Wilson played almost exclusively in the slot for the Jets and his performance was found lacking enough that his snaps diminished over the last two years even with the Jets desperate for help at cornerback.

With Brandon Browner and Keenan Lewis on the team in New Orleans, a sub package role will be Wilson’s path to playing time in New Orleans as well. How much of a role he winds up playing will likely be determined by any further additions New Orleans makes at the position as the offseason rolls along.

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