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PFT’s Week Six picks

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For the Week Six picks, I’m hoping MDS makes like MRS (Matthew Rutledge Schaub) and throws a pick six.

Making that wish somewhat unrealistic is the fact that we disagree on only three games.

Last week, he was 9-5 and I was 8-6.  His lead now stands at three games:  52-25 to 49-28.

If I’m right on all three, I’ll catch him.  And, yes, he and I may be the only two people in the world who actually care.

Giants at Bears

MDS’s take: Florio has done me a big favor with his stubborn insistence on continuing to pick the Giants, and I’m hoping he keeps going with the theory that the Giants are due for a win. (The Washington Generals are due to beat the Harlem Globetrotters any game now, too.) The Bears’ defense is good at forcing turnovers, and the Giants’ offense is good at turning the ball over. That’s a good combination for Chicago.

MDS’s pick: Bears 28, Giants 13.

Florio’s take:  The Giants are due to win.  The Bears are due to not lose.  The Bears are the better team.  The Bears are playing at home.  Advantage Bears.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 24, Giants 17.

Packers at Ravens

MDS’s take: Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco both signed enormous contracts this offseason, but only one of them is earning his money. The struggling Ravens’ offense will have a good opportunity to put some points on the board against a Packers defense that’s missing Clay Matthews, but Rodgers will do more damage than Flacco as the Packers win a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Ravens 27.

Florio’s take:  It’s rock-scissors-paper time in Baltimore, where the Ravens defense is becoming the rock and the Packers’ offensive line is running with scissors.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 24, Packers 20.

Bengals at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills’ defense is playing tough, physical football, and Kiko Alonso is my early pick for rookie of the year. If EJ Manuel were playing, I’d pick the Bills. Unfortunately, I just can’t pick a team to win a game when its starting quarterback was on the practice squad a week ago, and that’s what the Bills are doing with Thad Lewis starting. So I’ve got to go with the Bengals.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 16, Bills 13.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals can beat the teams they shouldn’t, and not the teams they should.  This is the weekend they need to turn it around, or they may not be getting beat in January.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 27, Bills 13.

Lions at Browns

MDS’s take: This is another game where a quarterback injury makes the difference. The Browns won all three games that Brian Hoyer started, and if Hoyer were still starting I’d pick Cleveland to make it four in a row. But with Brandon Weeden back under center, I think the Lions’ defensive line is going to wreak havoc against a quarterback who’s too slow to get rid of the football.

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Browns 10.

Florio’s take:  The Browns have won three in a row, and they’re wrapping up a three-game home stand at the Factory of Gladness.  Without Calvin Johnson, the Lions aren’t the same team.  I’m guessing Johnson either won’t play or he’ll be too banged up to make a difference against a team that will come within a game of matching its 2012 win total after only six weeks.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 24, Lions 20.

Rams at Texans

MDS’s take: Houston has been playing some terrible football recently, but St. Louis is even worse. The Texans’ defense can shut down the Rams’ offense well enough that even another lousy game from Matt Schaub won’t lose it for Houston.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Rams 10.

Florio’s take:  Jeff Fisher returns to Houston with a team that has underachieved, to face a team that has underachieved.  Led by a quarterback who has underachieved.  (That applies to both teams.)  Even with the Texans battling against a home-field disadvantage, their defense is good enough to overcome whatever the quarterback does or doesn’t do.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 23, Rams 16.

Raiders at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Kansas City’s turnaround has been remarkable, and I’m particularly impressed with the aggressive defense the Chiefs are playing, led by the one-man wrecking crew that is Dontari Poe in the middle of the line. I like the way Terrelle Pryor is playing for the Raiders, but Poe is going to get in Pryor’s face all day and make him skittish with his passes.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 20, Raiders 9.

Florio’s take:  It’s been a long time since both teams in this storied rivalry were relevant.  The Chiefs are very relevant.  And very hard to beat at home.  It won’t be easy, but the Chiefs will finally have the same number of wins at 2012 Pro Bowlers.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Raiders 17.

Panthers at Vikings

MDS’s take: Both of these teams seem like they should be better than their 1-3 records. If one of them is going to turn things around, I think it’ll be the one that has Cam Newton at quarterback, not the team that has Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel or Josh Freeman at quarterback.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 17, Vikings 14.

Florio’s take:  The chase to be the Vikings’ quarterback of the future begins on Sunday, as they host a team that thought it had one, but possibly doesn’t.  Losing coach lands on an even hotter seat.  Winner gets a heat reprieve, for at least a week.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 28, Panthers 21.

Steelers at Jets

MDS’s take: Say what you will about Rex Ryan, but the guy knows how to put together a good defense. He’s done it again this year, and coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is making strides with the offense, too. I still have a hard time seeing the Jets as a playoff contender, but they’ll be 4-2 after beating the woeful Steelers.

MDS’s pick: Jets 27, Steelers 7.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers are 0-5 and the Jets are 3-2 and many expected it to be the opposite.  The Jets have a strong front seven and the Steelers don’t have a strong offensive line and even though Pittsburgh beat the Giants last year in MetLife Stadium the Steelers are a shadow of what they were last year.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 17, Steelers 13.

Eagles at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Even with Nick Foles in place of Michael Vick, this is a game Philadelphia should win without too much trouble. The Eagles’ schedule is getting a lot easier. They beat the winless Giants last week, they’ll beat the winless Buccaneers this week, and they get the Giants again in two weeks. An 8-8 record may be enough to win the NFC East, and when you look at their schedule it’s easy to see the Eagles getting to eight wins. They’ll get win No. 3 on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Buccaneers 13.

Florio’s take:  Chip Kelly and company continue to take advantage of a soft spot in the schedule by running circles around a team that won’t be able to keep up with the Eagles offense, regardless of whether Nick Foles or Mike Vick is running it.  If Vick doesn’t play, it’ll be the first time in league history that both starting quarterbacks in the same game are Napoleon Dynamite dopplegangers.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 30, Buccaneers 20.

Jaguars at Broncos

MDS’s take: There’s no doubt who will win, but if I were betting this game against the spread (and I’m not), I’d pick the Jaguars to keep it closer than the 28-point margin. The Broncos are coming off an exhausting battle with the Cowboys and probably won’t be at their best. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the Broncos don’t have to be at their best to win this one.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Jaguars 21.

Florio’s take:  Does watching this game count as rooting for the underdog or rubbernecking at a train wreck?  Survey says . . . . both.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 49, Jaguars 13.

Titans at Seahawks

MDS’s take: I’ve been impressed with the Titans all year, and they’re a better team than most people realize. But there’s no way Ryan Fitzpatrick is winning at Seattle.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Titans 17.

Florio’s take:  It’s a shame Jake Locker is injured.  He’s missing the chance to come back to Seattle and have his team suffocated and his ear drums ruptured.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 24, Titans 10.

Saints at Patriots

MDS’s take: The best game of the week is in New England, where the Patriots need Rob Gronkowski to return against a surprisingly tough Saints defense. Even if Gronk is at full speed, however, I think Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham are a better pair right now than Tom Brady and Gronkowski, and I like the Saints to put up a lot of points.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Patriots 21.

Florio’s take:  The Saints proved that they can win away from home against a competent team like the Bears.  With an elite offense and a much-improved defense, why not a clean road sweep of the Super Bowl XX teams that played in New Orleans?

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Patriots 21.

Cardinals at 49ers

MDS’s take: The 49ers have put their stumbles behind them and are playing great football. The Cardinals are better than most of us expected, but there’s a clear NFC West pecking order, and the Cards are behind the Niners.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 31, Cardinals 10.

Cardinals at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Bruce Arians doesn’t “see the dominance” of the 49ers and Seahawks.  While the 49ers aren’t yet dominant this year, Arians probably won’t like what he sees.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 27, Cardinals 17.

Redskins at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Dallas’s defense is struggling, and Robert Griffin III may put up some big numbers. But Washington’s defense is struggling even more, and Tony Romo may put up some bigger numbers.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 35, Redskins 31.

Florio’s take:  Jerry Jones won’t be talking about moral victories come Monday.  He’ll have an actual victory.  You know, the kind where his team scores more points than the other.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 21, Redskins 13.

Colts at Chargers

MDS’s take: I’m amazed at the way the Colts keep shaking off injuries and finding ways to win. The Chargers are playing well on offense, but their secondary is a mess, and Andrew Luck should pick it apart.

MDS’s pick: Colts 34, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Chargers once were a thorn in Indy’s side.  The Chargers are now littered with thorns of their own, and the Colts have found a way in the post-Peyton era to blossom, no matter the amount of duress.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 24, Chargers 21.

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New 49ers running back says Colin Kaepernick owes him a thumb

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After working with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Kurt Warner said he was impressed with the touch he was able to put on passes.

He might want to run that by 49ers running back Mike Davis, who said on Twitter that Kaepernick “owe me a new thumb” after one pass in OTAs this week.

My thumb is good, man. It was just one day,” Davis said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “My thumb was messed up because of Kap, but I’m all right. . . . Kap, man, [has] a lot of power. I didn’t know he could throw the ball that hard. As I can see yesterday, I can tell how hard he can throw it. . . .

“I didn’t know it was coming that fast and it hit my thumb. I still caught it, but it was crazy.”

The 49ers are hoping Davis can contribute as a receiver, after he caught 66 passes his final two seasons in college. But if he’s going to, Kaepernick might need to take a little something off of them.

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Derrick Shelby on Dion Jordan: It’s a bad situation, he’s not replying to texts

Dion Jordan AP

The Dolphins didn’t have much to say about defensive end Dion Jordan’s status with the team before he was suspended for the entire 2015 season and they haven’t had much to say about his future with the organization since that suspension was handed down in late April.

Coach Joe Philbin and General Manager Dennis Hickey have opted to pass on questions about whether the former third overall pick will be welcomed back to the team and it seems Jordan is also passing on opportunities to stay in touch with teammates. Defensive end Derrick Shelby said that he’s reached out to Jordan to no avail.

“It’s a [bad] situation,” Shelby said, via the Miami Herald. “I’ve texted him a few times but got no response.”

Let’s hope Jordan is speaking to someone about his issues with drugs, because they have obviously had a major impact on his ability to do his job and build a career. Whether he has a future in Miami or not, Jordan’s chances for a successful life will only improve by getting a handle on them in the next year.

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Sheldon Richardson enjoying the meaning of voluntary

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 28:   Sheldon Richardson #91 of the New York Jets reacts during their 24 to 17 loss to the Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium on September 28, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is absent from Jets voluntary workouts because he wants a new contract.

Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is absent from Jets voluntary workouts because, well, because they’re voluntary.

Richardson tweeted out word to his concerned fans that all is well and he’s just holding the word voluntary to its true meaning.

I have a life outside of football n I chose to enjoy my family a little longer so to u fans that know everything please worry bout yourself,” he wrote this morning.

OK then.

The Jets weren’t sure about the reasons for his absence, or if they were they weren’t saying.

But when coach Todd Bowles said he hoped all his players would show up “but unfortunately, that’s not the case,” it made it clear how coaches view the the meaning of the word.

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Frank Gore, Andre Johnson make “pretty seamless” transition to Indy

James Laurinaitis, Frank Gore AP

It has been a long time since running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson have had to get used to playing for a new team.

Gore was with the 49ers for 10 years before signing with the Colts as a free agent this year and Johnson spent a dozen seasons in Houston before heading to Indianapolis after the Texans released him. Given what they say about old dogs and new tricks, there might have been some fear that their transition to new surroundings would take some time.

Not so, says Colts coach Chuck Pagano.

“Pretty seamless,” Pagano said, via ESPN.com. “They don’t miss a beat as far as the playbook goes, knowing what to do. Every time I see them in the huddle, break a huddle, to me it looks like they’re going the right direction. They’re lining up right. They’re very talented, talented guys. They fit right into the locker room. They’re professionals. Again, the resume speaks for itself. They’re not talkers. They’re workers, they’re doers.”

Gore and Johnson were both in line for reduced roles if they had remained with their old teams, but the Colts don’t appear to be thinking about things the same way. Gore should again be the workhorse in the backfield while Johnson is going to get a lot of looks from Andrew Luck while playing a version of the Reggie Wayne role from Andrew Luck’s first two seasons.

A slow transition wouldn’t have changed those plans, but picking things up quickly will only make life easier on offense for the Colts.

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Montreal Alouettes sign Michael Sam

Michael Sam AP

Michael Sam is bound for the Canadian Football League.

Sam, the former Rams and Cowboys defensive end, has signed a two-year contract with the Montreal Alouettes, the club announced Friday.

“With the signing of Michael Sam, we have become a better organization today,” Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp said in a team issued-statement Friday. “Not only have we added an outstanding football player, we have added even a better person that brings dignity, character, and heart to our team.”

Joining Montreal gives the 25-year-old Sam a chance to jump-start his career in a professional league that occasionally serves as a launching pad back to the United States, with Miami’s Cameron Wake and Cleveland’s Andrew Hawkins among the CFL alumni currently in the NFL. Sam’s pass rush ability — he notched three sacks in four preseason games in 2014 — should serve him well in a fast-paced league.

Sam, who became internationally known after announcing he was gay in February 2014, has not been with an NFL club since being released from the Cowboys’ practice squad in October.

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Chiefs sign tight end Ryan Taylor

Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Chiefs have added another tight end to the mix.

The NFL’s daily transaction report brings word that Kansas City has signed veteran Ryan Taylor to their roster. Taylor was released by the Dolphins earlier this month.

Taylor entered the league as a 2011 seventh-round pick of the Packers and played in 50 games for the team before being dropped from the roster last October. He spent a little time in Baltimore and then played eight games for the Browns to close out the season. Taylor saw most of his work on special teams, but did catch eight passes while he was with the Packers.

Travis Kelce has a lock on the starting tight end job for the Chiefs. Demetrius Harris, Richard Gordon and 2015 fifth-round pick James O’Shaughnessy will join Taylor in the scrum for backup work.

The Chiefs released guard Ricky Henry to make room for Taylor on the roster.

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Cowboys, Orlando Scandrick agree to new contract

Scandrick Getty Images

The Cowboys and cornerback Orlando Scandrick have come to terms on a new deal.

Scandrick had skipped the early part of offseason work because he was unhappy with his contract, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Scandrick will sign his new contract today.

The 28-year-old Scandrick still had four years left on his old contract, so the Cowboys had plenty of leverage if they wanted to tell him he wasn’t going to get more money. But the team has apparently decided that it’s important to keep its best cornerback happy.

Scandrick has played his entire eight-year career in Dallas, and now there’s a good chance that he’ll retire a Cowboy.

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Report: Hard Knocks narrowing its list, Browns not on it

Mike Pettine, Johnny Manziel AP

The Browns have one of the league’s top reality shows going anyway, but they don’t necessarily want it filmed around the clock.

And they may not have to worry about it.

According to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, the Browns request to not be on the HBO training camp documentary has been granted. He mentions that Washington, along with the Bills and the Texans, are the likeliest subjects this year.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle has confirmed that the Texans are one of three finalists, and a decision could come as soon as next week.

With quarterback Johnny Manziel easing back into the football world after a stint in rehab, the presence of cameras 24-7 would have only added a layer of ridiculousness to what is already going to be an unusual camp. The Browns made it clear that the Manziel situation made them uneasy with the prospect of doing the show.

And since NFL Films doesn’t really want an “unwilling participant,” the Browns appear to be off the hook this year.

There were nine teams eligible to be “drafted” to do the show this year, in addition to the aforementioned four: The Giants, Vikings, Bucs, Rams, Jaguars and Titans.

The Bills could have been exempt since they have a first-year coach, but they’ve never been on the show and could volunteer.

New coach Rex Ryan is one of the most colorful characters in the league anyway, and generally welcomes the attention the way he used to welcome a G-D snack.

But there were reports the Bills weren’t interested, so we’ll see if they follow through. They’d clearly be the most interesting of the teams mentioned in the report, guaranteed to be good summer television.

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Excessive celebrations won’t result in longer PAT try

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The more we think about the supposedly simple change to the PAT procedures, the more complicated it all gets.

A reader posed an intriguing question regarding whether the new rule will result in fewer excessive celebration penalties during touchdowns, since the foul would move the two-point try to the 17 — or turn the single-point kick into a 47-yard field goal.

Unfortunately for those who hope to keep the “No Fun” in the NFL, penalty enforcement won’t change. Which means that an excessive celebration penalty following a touchdown will be enforced on the kickoff, not on the PAT.

So, basically, there won’t be any additional reasons for coaches to be upset with players who do dumb things after scoring touchdowns.

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Report: Belichick never believed Brady on deflation issue

Brady Getty Images

The popular theory regarding the somewhat surprising decision of the Patriots to not appeal the punishments imposed against the team by the NFL is that owner Robert Kraft and Commissioner Roger Goodell struck some sort of a behind-the-scenes deal, possibly one that entails reducing the four-game suspension imposed on quarterback Tom Brady. But there’s another theory that is simpler, both on the surface and beneath.

Maybe the Patriots just caved because they knew they couldn’t win and they didn’t want to do more damage to their relationship with their 31 business partners and the presiding body that binds them together.

Appearing recently on CSN New England’s Sports Tonight, Ron Borges of the Boston Herald offered up a tidbit that fits with the theory that the Patriots abandoned a fight they knew: (1) they wouldn’t win; and (2) would make things worse.

“[Coach Bill] Belichick never believed [Brady’s] story, from what I was told,” Borges said. “Because they all know. Why do you think all those retired quarterbacks, the Troy Aikmans of the world — Troy Aikman is about as nice a guy as I’ve ever met in football — nobody’s backed [Brady]. Nobody, not a single guy. Why do you think that is? Because they hate Brady? No. Because they’re not stupid. They know nothing’s done with those balls that the quarterback doesn’t want done.”

That’s pretty much what Brady said back in January, during that awkward are-you-a-cheater?-I-don’t-believe-so press conference that few found credible.

“When I pick those footballs out, at that point, to me, they’re perfect. I don’t want anyone touching the balls after that, I don’t want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in, taking any air out, to me those balls are perfect and that’s what I expect when I’m on the field,” Brady said.

So if he doesn’t want anyone to do anything to the footballs after that and if they do something to the footballs after that, they’re either making the footballs less perfect to Brady’s chagrin — or more perfect to Brady’s delight.

The Wells report has many flaws. The science is shoddy and suspect. And the team of high-priced sharks supposedly skilled and experienced in interrogating witnesses was unable to get a confession from a pair of maroons whose text messages made them seem guilty.

Even without a confession or a smoking gun from Messrs. Beavis and Butthead, the text messages made them seem guilty. Someone apparently was doing something to footballs that Brady had deemed to be perfect. Although the NFL historically failed to understand the dynamics of air pressure and historically failed to apply any sort of scientific principles to the pre-game inflation process and historically failed to properly supervise the footballs before kickoff and historically failed to ensure a clear chain of custody of the official game balls, the text messages point vaguely to misconduct. Although some league officials may have had an agenda against the Patriots during the AFC title game and after it (by leaking blatantly false PSI data to ESPN, which gave the situation a much more sinister feel), the text messages point vaguely to misconduct.

That’s perhaps why Belichick isolated Brady from the get go, telling reporters that the coach knew nothing about the preparation of the footballs, and that reporters would have to talk to Brady. Unless a deal was struck through the back channels to secure better treatment for Brady (if he accepts the obvious offer from Commissioner Roger Goodell to finally turn over that cell phone), the Patriots perhaps have decided that they should walk away from a fight they can’t win because they finally realize it’s also a fight they shouldn’t win.

Still, it’s also a fight the NFL has failed to convincingly win, thanks to a multi-million-dollar investigation that resulted in a puzzle pieces being jammed together to look like the lid of a different box. And that’s the biggest problem with this entire escapade. By failing to craft a report that withstood objective external scrutiny, Wells and company made it impossible for anyone to achieve a clear sense as to what did and didn’t happen. They were supposed to get to the truth. Instead, the developed a visceral sense of what the truth was, and they did an ineffective job of finding the truth and presenting it in a way that comes off as persuasive and accurate.

But if Belichick ultimately doesn’t believe Brady, there was no reason to keep fighting. And if Borges is right, the Patriots may have deeper issues to deal with regarding the relationship between franchise quarterback and coach and franchise quarterback and franchise.

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Michael Bennett: Playing for Pete Carroll is like playing for Willy Wonka

Gene Wilder AP

We have a feeling that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a pretty popular movie in the house when Martellus and Michael Bennett were growing up.

A couple of years ago, Martellus said that then-Bears coach Marc Trestman reminded him of Willy Wonka. That didn’t help Trestman all that much when Bears brass decided he was a bad egg after last season, but that left an opening for a Wonka-esque figure on the NFL sidelines. Enter Pete Carroll, or so says Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.

“It’s like playing for Willy Wonka,” Bennett said on 750 The Game in Portland, via the Tacoma News-Tribune. “He’s crazy. He wants to be young. He just is one of those guys who’s always up beat, wants to have a good time, and let’s you be yourself.”

And the snozzberries taste exactly like snozzberries in the team’s cafeteria to boot.

Bennett went on to compare Carroll quite favorably to Greg Schiano, who coached the Bucs when Bennett was in Tampa and earned poor marks for letting men act like men. Bennett and Carroll haven’t been seeing much of each other of late as the defensive end has stayed away from workouts in a quest to shake more money loose from the team.

They haven’t decided to send him to the taffy-pulling room or anything nearly as severe, but Bennett’s just a year into his deal and that may make the idea of a raise nothing more than pure imagination on Bennett’s behalf.

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Friday morning one-liners

Danielle Hunter AP

Bills LB Ty Powell wants to be more than a special teams contributor.

Getting to know a bit more about Dolphins rookie G Jamil Douglas.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman posted a video of his workout with QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

WR Brandon Marshall and CB Antonio Cromartie are having fun with their matchups at Jets practice.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh likes the change in extra points.

The Bengals will have a spirited competition at cornerback.

Browns QB Johnny Manziel gets back on the field next week.

Staying healthy is a goal for the Steelers offensive line.

Texans DE J.J. Watt showed off a picture of a nasty bruise from last season.

The Colts waived former college basketball player and aspiring offensive lineman Demarco Cox.

A negative take on the Jaguars’ uniforms.

Titans G Andy Levitre visited an elementary school to promote both reading and physical fitness.

TE Jeff Heuerman’s future with the Broncos still looks bright despite his torn ACL.

Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star shares his thoughts on which Chiefs rookies looked the best at minicamp.

Concern about Raiders QB Derek Carr’s finger injury is low.

The Chargers are shuffling through third quarterback options.

Would the Cowboys consider bringing RB Ray Rice onto their roster?

A look at how the Giants might deal with the loss of T Will Beatty.

A breakdown of the Eagles offensive line.

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and his wife welcomed a baby girl named Reese on Thursday.

A long Blackhawks game this week led to a remembrance of the longest Bears game in history.

Five things to keep an eye on during Lions OTAs.

K Mason Crosby likes working with Packers special teams coach Ron Zook.

Vikings rookie DE Danielle Hunter is learning how to use his size and speed at the NFL level.

A visit to Ellen DeGeneres’s television show offered Falcons owner Arthur Blank the chance to buy an $8,000 dress.

Said Panthers K Graham Gano of the new extra point placement, “I expect to make every kick, and that’s not something that will change. Nothing will change mentally or form wise.”

Saints rookies took a tour of New Orleans.

Which Buccaneers will be the most improved in 2015?

Cardinals G Mike Iupati bought a house once owned by NBA player Amar’e Stoudemire.

LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar represented the Rams at an event honoring St. Louis high school student-athletes.

49ers WR Dres Anderson got schooled on NFL life by his father Flipper Anderson.

Seahawks LB Kevin Pierre-Louis says he’s medically cleared for OTA work.

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John Harbaugh thinks weather will dictate more two-pointers

OWINGS MILLS, MD - SEPTEMBER 08:  Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens answers questions during a news conference at the teams training facility on September 8, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland. Earlier in the day the Ravens terminated the contract of running back Ray Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely after the release of video showing Rice striking his then-fiancée in a hotel elevator.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Even though the distance for two-point conversions didn’t change this week, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said he think we’ll see more of them.

With extra points moved back to the 15, the kicks aren’t that much more difficult, but Harbaugh said there will still be a difference.

It is going to encourage more two-point conversion tries,” he said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “There’s no question about it, especially in windy stadiums. Maybe later in the year when it means the most will probably see the most attempts.

“I know one thing, we’re going to spend more time defending two-point conversions and practicing two-point conversions because it’s going to be a bigger part of the game.”

Harbaugh’s a former special teams coach, so it figures that he’s going to have a different perspective on any changes in the kicking game. And he said he needs time to study the possibilities.

“I’m really interested in finding out more of the specifics — penalties, what if we jump offsides, what if they jump offsides,” Harbaugh said. “I can’t wait to see the details.”

Coaches are creatures of habit, so even the small act of shaking up their practice routines is notable. And if the weather encourages more coaches to abandon what is still a safe point for the chance at an extra one, then the league will have gotten the bump it was looking for.

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Kelvin Benjamin to miss some OTA time with hamstring injury

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21:  Kelvin Benjamin #13 of the Carolina Panthers during the game at Bank of America Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Panthers take the field for OTAs next week, they’ll do it without last year’s first-round pick.

Via Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is nursing a hamstring injury and won’t participate next week.

Benjamin had a solid rookie season, with 73 catches for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. His numbers tapered off late in the season, but they hope the addition of second-rounder Devin Funchess will help, giving quarterback Cam Newton a pair of big targets to help the offense develop.

While Benjamin’s hamstring’s not a major concern, the time lost is still at least an inconvenience. The Panthers have traditionally been slow starters, and Newton missed all of last year’s OTA season while recovering from ankle surgery, which may or may not have contributed to that.

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Dante Fowler set for ACL surgery next week

Dante Fowler Jr. AP

It’s been a couple of weeks since Jaguars first-round pick Dante Fowler tore his ACL while taking part in his first NFL practice and that means it is just about time for Fowler to have surgery to repair the injury.

Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports that Fowler’s surgery has been scheduled for next week.

The Jaguars ruled Fowler out for the season a day after he suffered the injury, leaving him with almost a full year before the team will start their preparations for the 2016 season. The plan is for Fowler to spend much of that time rehabbing at the team’s facility while also taking part in meetings with the rest of the defensive linemen in order to keep him mentally in the mix while he recovers physically.

Fowler is optimistic about his ability to bounce back to form after the injury, a feeling that’s supported by the similar recoveries we’ve seen from a lot of other players in recent years. That doesn’t make the loss of his rookie season any easier to swallow, but the long view still holds promise for the Jaguars and Fowler.

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