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Lions put a beating on the Bears

AP

In a beatdown at Ford Field, the Lions dominated every phase of the game on Sunday and beat the Bears 40-32.

The win improves the Lions to 3-1 and drops the previously unbeaten Bears to 3-1 as well, meaning that at the moment, the Lions own the tiebreaker and are the first-place team in the NFC North.

Although the final score looks close, the Lions controlled this game throughout and led by 24 points with five minutes to play. The Bears scored two touchdowns and two two-point conversions in the final 4:05 of the game to make things a little bit interesting, but the Lions covered the final onside kick to seal the win.

Lions running back Reggie Bush played what may have been his finest game as a pro, cutting, spinning, making people miss and generally looking like the guy everyone was expecting to see when Bush was starring at USC. He had a remarkable game.

Also remarkable was the way Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh schooled Bears rookie guard Kyle Long. Suh was a force all day, but it was his strip-sack of Jay Cutler in the third quarter, which teammate Nick Fairley scooped up and ran for a 4-yard touchdown, that put the game away.

The Bears and Lions are only a quarter of the way into a long season and a lot can happen, but at the moment the Lions look like the top team in the NFC North. It’s been a long time since anyone said that.

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Hue Jackson: DeShone Kizer will have a chance to compete for starting job

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He’s the highest-drafted of the collection of Browns quarterbacks, but coach Hue Jackson isn’t going to hand new guy DeShone Kizer a starting job.

But Jackson did say that his second-round pick was going to have the opportunity to compete for the job, along with Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler.

“We’re going to give all our guys an opportunity to compete,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about who is the starter, who is this. Let’s let these guys get here and learn our offense and spend time with myself and [quarterback coach David] Lee and go out on the field and let’s see how it all turns out.”

Of course, it’s also impossible to know whether the Browns are finished adding quarterbacks to the room. Browns executive Sashi Brown said they “won’t rest until we solidify that position,” and now that the draft has pushed through the first two days, the sorting of some veteran options can begin soon.

But Jackson clearly likes the potential with Kizer, who has prototype size and arm strength but a spotty resume.

“I think we’re better at the position,” Jackson said. “I think we’ve made huge strides over the last several months at that position. . . .

“Obviously, he has the measurables, a big, physical quarterback who can make all the throws that anybody needs to make in the National Football League. He’s intelligent. So he has the characteristics that we’re looking for.”

Of course, the only other addition was Osweiler, and they took him on to buy a draft pick. Kizer’s chances stems largely from the lack of other viable options at the moment.

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Emotional Joe Mixon says he’ll prove himself to Bengals

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Joe Mixon wept.

The Oklahoma running back, who was chosen by the Bengals with the 48th overall pick last night, was emotional during his conference call with reporters in Cincinnati.

You know, I am still sitting here crying. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it,” he said, via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. “You know, I am thankful and very honored to be a part of — to be a Cincinnati Bengal.”

For many, it was the perfect destination for a player who punched a woman in the face. The Bengals have a history of taking in players with off-field problems, and owner Mike Brown has admitted he may have been “overly tolerant” in the past. But Mixon was a special case, with the video of him punching a woman in the face as stark a piece of video as any of his football plays, and one which will be remembered far longer.

And he knows he can’t run from it.

“It changed me a lot as a person, the way you think, the way you carry yourself, go about things,” Mixon said. “I’m going to continue to keep doing the right thing around the community, on and off the field. And I’m going to prove to them why they kept me. Leaving from Oklahoma, I still have their name, at the end of the day. I’m going to do whatever I can to make them proud and make them happy. I’m looking forward to doing that with the Cincinnati Bengals as well.”

The Bengals brought him in for a private visit before the draft — “I was very straight up,” Mixon said — and coach Marvin Lewis said they were comfortable moving forward with him.

Mixon accepted a plea deal in the criminal case, and reached a civil settlement with the woman, who suffered four broken bones in the incident. But the incident will never be far from his name, or his from the Bengals’ as they add to a legacy of giving second chances.

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49ers underscore commitment (for now) to Brian Hoyer

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In Chicago, $15 million-per-year starter Mike Glennon instantly was undermined on Thursday night via the selection of Mitchell Trubisky. In San Francisco, $6 million-in-2017 starter Brian Hoyer had his status cemented via the team’s decision not to pick a quarterback in round one or in round two.

In round three, the 49ers took Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard. Does that mean Beathard could challenge Hoyer for the starting job?

“I don’t look at it at all like that,” coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Friday. “We’re bringing him in here to develop him, give him a chance. But, just like any other position, everyone competes. Brian’s our starting quarterback and right now, Matt Barkley’s our second and I look at [Beathard] to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster. But, every single day of practice, whether it’s an OTA, whether it’s workouts, whatever it is, people are always competing and we’ll always play the best guy, but by no means did we come into this draft thinking, ‘Hey, we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian.’ We’re just trying to add people to our roster to improve the overall talent of our team.”

Unless Beathard develops quickly, the decision not to use a higher pick on a quarterback this year could mean that the 49ers are indeed a year away from making a run at Kirk Cousins. But consider this: Cousins was a fourth-round pick. Beathard arrives via round three, and the 49ers felt compelled to move from 109 to 104 to get him. So the 49ers see something in this guy, and this contract will be much more affordable over the next four years that what it would cost to pay Cousins.

Beathard wasn’t highly regarded by the draft experts but he became the sixth quarterback taken, exiting the board before the likes of Nathan Peterman, Josh Dobbs, and Brad Kaaya. Shanahan presumably believes Beathard can run Shanahan’s offense the way Shanahan envisions it being run. And if Beathard can do that, maybe they won’t need Cousins or Hoyer in 2018. And maybe by 2019 Beathard will be another one of those mid-round quarterbacks who arrive in the NFL with limited fanfare but who become one of the better ones in the league.

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Ryan Pace: Report that John Fox was in the dark is “so false”

AP

On Friday afternoon, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that Bears G.M. Ryan Pace kept coach John Fox in the dark about the plan to get quarterback Mitchell Trubisky until only a few hours before the proceedings began. On Friday night, Pace disputed that notion.

“That stuff is so false,” Pace told reporters. “There’s consistency in everything we do, so we all work arm-in-arm and that’s the way it is and that’s the way it should be.”

Pace added that Fox was “100 percent” involved in the evaluation and planning regarding Trubisky.

“John is involved in every decision deeply,” Pace said. “The respect I have for John is enormous, especially his experience and all of the players that he’s been with. I think if you look back — and we talked about this — I think a lot of it was kept secret I thought we did a good job keeping this thing pretty under wraps, it’s so sensitive. But if you go back to the private workouts that we had, I mean John and I — it’s pretty hard to hide him — but we’re traveling to Chapel Hill and having dinners and workouts with Mitch, so he’s been deeply involved from the very beginning.”

It’s one thing to be involved in every decision, and it’s another to know exactly and precisely what the final decision will be. Is it possible that Fox was involved in the process of evaluating Trubisky but didn’t personally know what Pace would be doing until close in time to the start of the draft? If Pace didn’t make the final decision until then, then yes.

And here’s the value of keeping things secret. If word had gotten out that the Bears were planning to move from No. 3 to No. 2 to get Trubisky, the Browns may have launched a late effort to squeeze Chicago into coming all the way to No. 1 to get him. Moreover, the mere fact that the General Manager of the Bears was showing so much interest in Trubisky may have caused a late shift in Cleveland, with ownership suddenly getting behind the pro-Trubisky wing that seemed to be working all the angles to make him the pick over Garrett.

If, after all, the opinion of a homeless guy was enough to sway Jimmy Haslam to go with Johnny Manziel in 2014, the views of the gainfully employed (and fully housed) Ryan Pace would likely have a much greater impact.

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All but one undrafted player left the green room after Thursday night

AP

Remember when Geno Smith didn’t get picked in the first round of the 2013 draft, declared he wasn’t returning to the green room for the second night of the proceedings, but then did? That’s a dynamic that has become glossed over now that the draft has become a road show.

A total of 21 players showed up for round one. Five went undrafted. According to a league spokesperson, only one returned on Friday: Washington cornerback Kevin King.

The other four opted not to return. Those who left were Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell, and Alabama tackle Cam Robinson.

King had a short wait on Friday. He was the first pick of the second night, to the Packers. Two of the other guys who left, Robinson and McDowell, went second and third, to the Jaguars and Seahawks, respectively. Kizer was the 20th selection in round two to the Browns, and Awuzie went 28th in round two to the Cowboys.

It’s up to the players whether to go and whether to stay. And they can leave whenever they want. Unless and until the NFL pays them a fee to show up and to stick around, it’s entirely up to them whether to continue to be, as Joe Thomas described it, unpaid actors in a soap opera.

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Martavis Bryant: JuJu Smith-Schuster replaces Sammie Coates, not me

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The decision of the Pittsburgh Steelers to use a second-round pick on USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster sparked a reaction from the Steelers receiver who was most recently reinstated to the team on a conditional basis.

Said Bryant on Twitter, via USA Today: “lol that’s Sammie coates replacement not minds take it how you want to I am back.”

Coates responded by saying, “Hahahahahaha.”

Coach Mike Tomlin jumped in, “@-ing” both of them with this message: “Play nice boys.”

Both deleted their tweets, with Bryant also dumping one in which he said, “It’s a business so I treat it like that.”

That business will be getting more intense once Bryant, Coates, and Smith-Schuster get together at practice, along with the other receivers currently on the roster: Antonio Brown, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers, Justin Hunter, and more. The Steelers have a dozen of them and counting, so some eventually will be gone. And one or two of them may have recognizable names.

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Giants could see Davis Webb taking over for Eli Manning in 2-3 years

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Giants quarterback Eli Manning has three more years left on his contract, and the Giants can easily get out of the final year. Which is why they just drafted an heir apparent who could take over in two or three years.

Davis Webb, a quarterback from Cal, was the Giants’ pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft, and General Manager Jerry Reese said afterward that he sees Webb becoming a very good quarterback once he’s had some time to learn behind the 36-year-old Manning.

“We think [Webb] has a high ceiling and can come in and learn the pro game,” Reese said, adding, “Hopefully, he can sit behind Eli for two or three years.”

The Giants’ selection of Webb was a bit surprising, both that Webb lasted until the 87th overall pick and that it was the Giants who finally selected him. Most people thought Webb would go higher than that, with some projections putting Webb in the first round.

But Webb was passed over until the Giants finally decided that he was too good a value to pass up. As a rookie, Webb will likely be the third-string quarterback behind Manning and Geno Smith, but eventually he could become a starter.

“We’re hoping Eli plays a long time for us,” Reese said. “But we know he’s not going to play forever.”

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Steelers keep James Conner in Pittsburgh

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James Conner is leaving college football, but he’s not leaving the facility where he practiced or the stadium where he played.

The Steelers have made the former running back a third-round pick in the draft.

Conner’s story is well-documented; he survived cancer to return to football. Conner recently has said he was only 60 percent at the outset of the 2016 college season.

The Steelers currently have Le’Veon Bell at the top of the depth chart. He’s subject to the franchise tag, and could be gone after 2017. Conner, if he develops, could become an intriguing contributor in 2018.

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Cowboys add Jourdan Lewis, who faces a July jury trial

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The Cowboys have rolled the dice on a player who is facing domestic violence charges.

Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis has been drafted in round three, despite a July 10 trial date on misdemeanor charges. That fact that it’s a misdemeanor means he wouldn’t face significant jail time.

Lewis allegedly “dragged [the victim] across the living room floor and then grabbed her by the neck and held her down on the floor for about three seconds.” He has pleaded not guilty.

Lewis faces no discipline from the league, given that the incident happened before the draft. However, the incident would be considered as potential aggravating circumstances if Lewis has any violations of the Personal Conduct Policy while in the NFL.

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Giants add Davis Webb

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Amid a buzz that former Cal quarterback Davis Webb could have crashed round one, he lasted until round three. And he ended up on the depth chart in New York.

The Giants have made Webb the 87th pick in the draft.

He becomes the potential replacement to Eli Manning, whenever Eli Manning will decide to retire. (Or when the Giants will decide to retire him.)

Webb arrives from Cal. He transferred to Berkeley after losing the starting job at Texas Tech to Patrick Mahomes. Before that, Webb beat out Baker Mayfield, resulting in Mayfield transferring to Oklahaom.

Webb aspires to be a coach. For now, he’ll be a player with the Giants — and he potentially could become the starter there, in time.

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Ravens take a flier on risky pass-rusher Tim Williams

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Father Ozzie’s Home for Wayward Boys has taken in another one, and doubled up with another former Alabama player.

With the 78th pick, the Ravens took linebacker Tim Williams, who has both the pedigree and checkered past that the Ravens have some background with.

Williams is one of the most talented pass-rush prospects in the draft, with nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss last year.

But he comes with concerns, specifically his admission of multiple failed drug tests in college. Coupled with a misdemeanor gun charge, it was enough to scare some people off, at least at this point in the proceedings.

Williams was also used almost exclusively as a pass-rusher, but Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome obviously felt like the middle of the third round was an acceptable time to take a chance on someone from his old school who could be an impact player on passing downs.

Williams is the second Alabama player to join the Ravens this week, along with first-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

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Eagles “really confident” Sidney Jones will be same player after Achilles tear

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Cornerback Sidney Jones became a new member of the Eagles in the second round of the draft on Friday night, but it’s still unknown when Jones will be able to get on the field for the team.

Jones tore his Achilles in his pro day workout and will be on a rehab schedule for several more months at least. A recent report from his doctors indicated a return during the season is in the cards, but Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said Friday night that the team didn’t know when Jones will be ready to play.

He did say that the team believes Jones will be the same player he was before the injury when he is ready to go.

“Our doctors and training staff not only looked at corners, but we reached out to teams in other sports,” Roseman said, via CSNPhilly.com. “That gave us a lot of confidence here. There’s no insurance for this, but we feel really confident that with our medical team when he gets here he’s going to be able to be the exact same player he was before the injury. … There’ll be no rushing back from this. We’ll do whatever’s in the best interest of getting Sidney Jones 100 percent. Whatever the timetable is. We’ll defer to the doctors. That will not be our decision.”

The Eagles would obviously like to see Jones help them in 2017, but picking him here means they’re comfortable with trading a year of playing time for a better player once he’s back on the field. That says a lot about how highly they regarded Jones before the injury and how much that full return would mean to the team.

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Rams add Cooper Kupp

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The Rams are adding weapons for Jared Goff and Sean McVay.

After taking a tight end in round two, the Rams have added a receiver in the third round, nabbing Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp.

Primarily a slot receiver, Kupp’s arrival creates an intriguing situation as it relates to Tavon Austin, the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft who received a second contract last year but who has still not really become what they hoped he’d be.

Kupp could transition to the outside at the next level, with Austin on the inside. However it plays out, the Rams are adding pass catchers and playmakers as they prepare to go head to head with the Chargers in Los Angeles.

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Saints continue to add to backfield with Alvin Kamara

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The Saints already had a 1,000-yard back, and then they went and signed a former MVP and future Hall-of-Famer.

So naturally, they drafted another running back.

The Saints traded up to the 67th overall pick in the third round to take Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

He didn’t get regular work in college, but he was a big-play threat, averaging 6.5 yards per carry last year. He’s also a solid pass-catcher, and gives them a different element than either Mark Ingram or Adrian Peterson.

The Saints like using multiple backs, and they’ve now reloaded significantly.

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Marvin Lewis: We felt we could move forward with Joe Mixon

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The Bengals brought one of the bigger storylines of the second round of the NFL draft to an end when they drafted Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon with the 48th overall pick.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis acknowledged that the 2014 video of Mixon punching a woman is repellant — “I don’t know who isn’t disgusted at what they saw,” Lewis said at a press conference Friday night.” — but said that the team’s research into Mixon during the pre-draft process and the settlement he came to with the woman left them feeling comfortable about bringing him to Cincinnati.

“We’ve done such a lot of work regarding Joe Mixon, throughout the entire process this year and based on all the time, all the research, we felt that we can continue to move forward,” Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Joe’s situation kind of came to a settlement in all ways this week, which also led us to feel better about the opportunity here to move forward. We have done all our due diligence we could do, time spent, interviewing people, everybody around him, everybody around his background, people that have coached at Oklahoma with insight regarding him and how he has carried himself since that day.”

Mixon will be scrutinized on and off the field in Cincinnati, something that he and the team should already be well aware of and something they’ll likely continue to deal with for some time given how big of a story Mixon’s assault became in the last few months.

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