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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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Patriots release emails to NFL on leaks of false information

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Judge Richard M. Berman has told the NFL and the NFLPA to tone it down regarding the Tom Brady case. That directive apparently doesn’t apply to the Patriots.

The website created by the team in response to the 243-pages-and-nearly-as-many-flaws Ted Wells report has added a new story. It’s dubbed, “League failure to correct misinformation.”

The item consists of a chain of emails between Patriots general counsel Robyn Glaser and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash. The Patriots explain that it is “presented to illustrate the attempts by the Patriots to ask the NFL to correct initial misinformation being reported by the media and to investigate sources of such misinformation, which could only have been league personnel.”

The communications in question began on February 17, when ESPN’s Kelly Naqi reported that the Patriots tried to introduce an unapproved kicking ball into the AFC title game against the Colts. (PFT later reported what actually occurred.) The report from Naqi also contradicted, to a certain extent, the original report from Mortensen.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James complained to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello that “we have ANOTHER leak . . . resulting in a report providing details that no one else would possibly have in a story that tries to implicate a day of game employee.” James also mentioned in his email the NFL’s ongoing refusal to release the accurate PSI measurements, despite the original ESPN report that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum.

“I cannot comprehend how withholding the range of PSIs measured in the game is beneficial to the NFL or the Patriots,” James wrote. “I can only assume, based on the scientific evidence that has been provided to us by multiple independent scientists that the PSI numbers will be within the scientific range. If we had been provided this data within days of the original report, we could have changed the narrative of this story before it led all national news and the damage was done. It has been over 4 weeks and we still can’t get a simple detail that I assume was available the night of the AFC Championship Game!”

The next morning, Glaser forwarded the Stacey James email to Pash, reiterating the team’s earlier request that “the scope of Ted Wells’ independent investigation be expanded to include a review of actions by League personnel.” Glaser said that Pash had promised to “consult with the Commissioner” about the request, but that Pash never responded after that.

Pash replied within 30 minutes, saying that “I have no reason to think [the latest ESPN story] came from our office but I certainly do not condone leaks which I do not serve [sic] anyone’s interest.”

Glaser argued in response that “the leaks would only come from the League office as it would not serve anyone else’s purpose” and urging Pash “to bring your staff and office under control.”

“We have cooperated fully and expediently with Attorney Wells and are now seriously starting to question whether we should do that while our public image and brand continues to be unnecessarily and irreparably tarnished by the League,” Glaser wrote.

Pash later told Glaser that he has “doubts that piecemeal disclosures are likely to accomplish much,” and that “[i]f anything, I would think they are likely to prompt additional questions, additional stories, and additional irresponsible speculation and commentary.”

And then Glaser had enough.

After calling Pash’s responses “pretty disingenuous,” Glaser explained that “if the League is disclosing information that is correcting inaccuracies and misinformation that are currently are hammering away at our brand, we WELCOME the additional stories and commentary.”

“Jeff, you need to step up,” Glaser wrote. “I can’t tell you the number of times you’ve told me that you and your office work for us member clubs. It has been made resoundingly clear to us that your words are just a front. They have no substance at all. If you worked for us, you would already have released today a statement to the effect of, [‘]ESPN, you’ve got it wrong. You do not have full information, you are irresponsibly reporting information that is untrue and you need to stop. Furthermore, as you now know and report reporting yourselves, your original story that 11 of 12 balls were 2 pounds below the minimum allowable psi was just blatantly wrong, we know that because we have the information and here it is…[‘]

“I would appreciate it if you would please tell me everything you are doing, and will continue to do, to stop leaks from occurring. This is information we do not have. We know of not one thing you are doing internally to investigate the sources of the leaks and/or to curtail them. We do know that the one thing we’ve asked you to do — include the League leaks as part of the scope of the Wells investigation — has been rejected by you. So do you blame us for wondering just what the heck you mean when you said, ‘I will continue to do what I can to stop leaks from occurring’?”

The last message in the chain comes from Pash, who called Glaser’s message “personal and accusatory.” He also declined to provide a point-by-point reply, acknowledging that he works for all teams, not just the Patriots.

“Sometimes that creates tension, as it apparently has here,” Pash said.

Still, the messages make it obvious that the Patriots repeatedly asked the NFL to direct Wells to explore the leaks as part of his investigation, and that the NFL refused to do so.

That directly contradicts comments from Commissioner Roger Goodell at a press conference in May. Pressed by Tom Curran of CSNNE.com on whether Ted Wells was asked to investigate leaks (including the original 11-of-12-balls debacle), Goodell said that Ted Wells “had the opportunity to evaluate that.”

Apparently, he didn’t. But that doesn’t make it too late for Wells or someone else to make another million or so finding out who in the league office turned #DeflateGate from an act of gamesmanship at worst into the crime of the century, all by leaking blatantly false information to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

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Charges against Aaron Kromer and son dropped

Aaron Kromer AP

On Thursday, Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and his son pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery charges stemming from an incident in which both Kromers were accused of hitting minors during a dispute over beach chairs in Florida earlier this month.

There was another court date set for both Kromers in September, but it won’t be necessary. Bill Eddins, the State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit in Florida, announced in a press release, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, Friday that the charges have been dropped against both men.

Per the release, the charges were dropped at the request of the parents of the two minor children allegedly struck during the incident. The parents said injuries sustained by their children were minor and that they didn’t wish to have their lives disrupted any further. The release also references an “amicable resolution” had been reached between the parties.

Kromer was placed on paid leave after his arrest and Bills coach Rex Ryan said before the charges were dropped on Friday that he had no update on Kromer’s status. Presumably the decision to drop the charges will lead the Bills to make a decision about whether Kromer will be back with the team this season.

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Judge asks for settlement talks in Brady case before August 12

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On Friday, the NFL and NFLPA requested an expedited schedule for the resolution of the case involving Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension with the goal of having the matter wrapped up by September 4.

Judge Richard Berman has offered a reply that suggests he’s amenable to that timeline. Berman told the two sides Friday, via the Associated Press, that the has scheduled conferences for August 12 and August 19 involving the “principles” on both sides. That would include both Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who upheld Brady’s suspension after an appeal.

Berman also requested that the two sides “engage in comprehensive, good-faith settlement discussions prior to the conference on August 12.” Brady and the NFLPA said this week that they made a settlement offer to the NFL that was not countered by the league and there were several reports about settlement talks in the case before Goodell offered his decision.

Berman’s response suggests there’s a good chance of resolving the lengthy affair before the start of the season and that could mean Brady is on the field against the Steelers to start the season.

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Russell Wilson contract details begin to emerge

USA - 2014 300 dpi Chris Ware caricature of Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. (MCT via Getty Images) Getty Images

“New money” has become one of the great fictions in the assessment of NFL contracts. But, you know, when in Rome.

For Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the headline is that he signed a four-year, $87.6 million extension, with a new-money average of $21.9 million. The truth is that the last year of his current contract, at a base salary of $1.542 million, has been ripped up and replaced with a new five-year, $89.1 million deal.

But since the average of the total five-year deal is $17.8 million, it won’t be characterized that way when it comes to deciding whose is bigger.

For Wilson, the details of the five-year, $89.1 million deal have begun to emerge. With one important key metric still missing.

The signing bonus, per multiple reports, is $31 million. The total guarantee, per multiple reports, is $60 million. The amount fully guaranteed of the remaining $29 million in guarantees remains unknown.

It’s a key point because the Seahawks and Wilson’s agent had been squabbling about the portion of the contract that will be fully guaranteed at signing, since future fully-guaranteed payments must be placed into escrow now. (To raise the money, Gantt could have organized a bake sale for owner Paul Allen.)

The Dolphins fully guaranteed $60 million of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s contract. For Wilson, the question is whether and to what extent he has fully-guaranteed payments beyond the $31 million signing bonus.

The base salaries are, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, $700,000 in 2015, $12.34 million in 2016, $12.6 million in 2017, $15.5 million in 2018, and $17 million in 2019.

This makes the cap numbers $6.9 million in 2015 (plus any remaining bonus proration from his rookie deal), $18.54 million in 2016, $18.8 million in 2017, $21.7 million in 2018, and $23.2 million in 2019.

As the salary cap continues to climb, Wilson won’t last long as the second highest-paid player in the NFL. From Eli Manning to Philip Rivers to Andrew Luck to other young quarterbacks who become stars, the bar soon will be pushed to $23 million, $25 million, and beyond.

By 2019, Wilson’s salary of $17 million will be middle-of-the-pack at best. Before then, if he keeps playing like he has, Wilson likely will have another new deal.

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Ray Farmer: I gave the NFL my cell phone in Textgate investigation

Ray Farmer AP

Tom Brady refused to let the NFL see his cell phone as part of the Deflategate investigation, but Browns General Manager Ray Farmer took a different approach when he was investigated in Textgate.

Farmer, who is suspended for the first four games of the season for texting members of the Browns’ coaching staff during games, says he allowed the NFL to view his phone as part of its investigation.

“I turned over my cell phone,” Farmer said, via Cleveland.com. “Again, I made the mistake. I made the admission. It is what it is. I’ll deal with any penalty I got. If they saw fit to be lenient, than that was their call; it wasn’t mine.”

There are several differences between Farmer’s case and Brady’s. The phone was central to the violation in the case of Farmer; the texts themselves were his violations, whereas in Deflategate the NFL only thought Brady’s calls or texts might have included information about rules violations. Brady is a member of a union that has a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL; Farmer is not in a labor union. And Farmer has admitted breaking the rules, whereas Brady has denied any wrongdoing.

Farmer and Brady also approached the NFL’s investigation differently. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said when suspending Farmer that he had been cooperative and that his suspension was lessened as a result, whereas Goodell criticized Brady for his lack of cooperation.

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Bashaud Breeland’s day gets worse, carted off practice field

breeland AP

We can now consider training camp season to be officially open, as we’ve had our first mention of the dreaded cart.

According to Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com, Washington cornerback Bashaud Breeland was carted off the practice field with an apparent knee injury.

NBC 4 had video of the spill, showing a non-contact situation, where Breeland’s knee collapsed as he tried to break with a receiver.

That makes this a really bad day for the second-year corner, since he was suspended one game by the league for a marijuana possession charge last year.

While there’s no official word, they can only hope that’s all the time he misses.

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Jay Gruden: RGIII “starting to realize he has to put the work in”

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Patience hasn’t been a word frequently associated with Robert Griffin III during his NFL career.

Whether it was immediately entering the starting lineup after going No. 2 in the 2012 draft or making the start in the 2013 season opener after a knee injury in the playoffs earlier that year, instant gratification was the goal since Griffin joined the Redskins. Coach Jay Gruden told Albert Breer of NFL Media that he’s trying a different path.

Gruden wanted Griffin to earn his spot as the starter last season and benched him during the season when Griffin failed to meet expectations, but has installed him as the starter this year with a plan to let Griffin ride out rough patches in hopes of improving.

“Let’s see what he can do, and give him some time,” Gruden said.

For the plan to succeed, Gruden believes his willingness to be patient has to be met by the same willingness from Griffin. The coach says that he’s seen signs of it from the quarterback this offseason.

“He’s not used to failure. He’s very competitive,” Gruden said. “It has an effect on him. He wants to be the best, and he’s got a long way to go to be that. But he still has the confidence and still [has] the swagger where he thinks he can be, and he’s starting to realize he has to put the work in and he has a lot to learn.”

Gruden also pointed to the need for the team to play better across the board to help Griffin succeed, but the patience is only going to extend so far. The Redskins picked up Griffin’s 2016 option, but it’s guaranteed for injury only and they aren’t likely to pay him $16.2 million if he doesn’t look closer to the quarterback they want by the time the season comes to an end.

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Vernon Davis no longer in the brand building business

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When 49ers tight end Vernon Davis stayed out of the team’s offseason workouts in 2014 in hopes of getting a new deal, he said that everything he did was in “the best interest of building my brand.”

Davis didn’t get that new deal, didn’t have a good 2014 season and didn’t make any waves this offseason. On Friday, he said that he’s come up with a new approach that included firing the financial advisor who encouraged him to stay away from the team because that unnamed person “worships money.” Davis insists that he’s not laying down in front of that altar.

“That’s not who I am. That’s not what I stand for. I don’t do anything for money,” Davis said, via the Sacramento Bee. “I don’t let money represent me. That’s just not me. I play for the love of the game. And that’s the beauty of this sport — it’s that about the love, the teammates, your coaches.”

Davis says he feels “great overall” as training camp gets underway and the 49ers offense could certainly use the kind of production he provided before last season if they’re going to bounce back from last year’s showing.

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Photos show Jason Pierre-Paul in a sling with huge bandage

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Giants co-owner John Mara said yesterday he wasn’t quite sure how many fingers Jason Pierre-Paul had at the moment.

And while none of us can be sure, the first photos of the Giants defensive end since he lost a finger in a fireworks accident don’t look good.

The New York Daily News has photos of Pierre-Paul taken in Florida, showing him in a sling with a gigantic bandage covering his right hand.

It’s hard to tell much, other than it looks like he has a boxing glove on, and doesn’t look like a guy who’ll be participating in football any time soon. We already knew he lost his right index finger, but the way he’s wrapped, it’s unclear what else is going on under there.

“We don’t know how extensive the damage is. That’s the problem,” Mara said yesterday. “I don’t know how many fingers he has.”

But at least there’s something to look at now.

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Joint NFL-NFLPA request could set stage for settlement

Moe

On Thursday, Judge Richard M. Berman made like the Honorable Moses Harry Horowitz (a/k/a Moe Howard) and clunked together the heads of the NFL and NFLPA, directing them to: (1) quit talking publicly about the #DeflateGate case; and (2) start talking to each other privately about resolving it.

The next day, instead of submitting a motion requesting a ruling by September 4 or, alternatively, an injunction allowing Brady to play until the case is resolved, NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler submitted a letter informing Judge Berman that the two sides have been talking, and that they’ve agreed on a proposed schedule for resolving the case.

They’ve agreed that the case can be concluded without depositions or document requests or testimony or the formal introduction of evidence in court. They’ve also agreed it can be resolved quickly, with the NFL and NFLPA submitting initial documents supporting their respective positions by August 7 and the parties then responding to each other’s initial submissions seven days later.

The focus then would shift to the oral argument before Judge Berman, because that would be the day on which — before, during, or after the hearing ends — he likely would call the lawyers and a key representative from each party (perhaps Roger Goodell and Tom Brady) into his chambers for the purposes of twisting arms (or gouging eyes) in an effort to settle the case.

I’ve said all along that a four-game fine, with no acknowledgment of wrongdoing from Brady, would make the most sense. Although the NFL may strenuously object to that outcome, the league could feel differently if/when Judge Berman says, “You can take no suspension and a four-game fine, or you’ll get no suspension and no fine. It’s up to you.”

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Trent Richardson lands on non-football injury list

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Trent Richardson’s fresh start with the Raiders has hit a snag.

The running back has been placed on the non-football injury list to open camp. The Raiders didn’t disclose an injury, but it’s possible that Richardson failed to pass the team’s conditioning test or has some issue that kept him from taking it.

Offensive line coach Mike Tice said earlier in the offseason that Richardson’s “quickness came around” during the team’s spring work, but Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that “whispers” around the team were that Richardson’s attempt to bounce back from his dismal stint with the Colts “is not going so well.” When he’s activated, Richardson will be competing with Latavius Murray and Roy Helu for snaps in the backfield and/or a roster spot.

Wide receiver Rod Streater was also placed on the NFI list while defensive tackle Stacy McGee and kick returner Trindon Holliday were placed on the physically unable to perform list. They join linebacker Sio Moore on that list.

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Dwayne Bowe: Josh McCown has potential to be a top-five quarterback

Josh McCown AP

The first two days of practice have done nothing to lessen the feeling that quarterbacks will be a major, if not the major, focus of Browns training camp.

Johnny Manziel’s rough start on Thursday was followed by a better day on Friday with Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan reporting that the presumptive No. 2 was 10-of-11 during 11-on-11 drills. Josh McCown had more success on Thursday and was 9-of-11 on Friday, which led wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to offer a rave review of the veteran’s work.

“He’s showing all the potential of being a top-five quarterback in the NFL,” Bowe said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. “The way he’s performing out here, it’s unbelievable, making tight throws, trusting his receivers.”

Bowe’s assessment of McCown’s potential to move into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks at this point in his career probably won’t find too many co-signers, but coach Mike Pettine also gave McCown positive marks a couple of days into camp.

“That’s the one thing that has jumped out is his accuracy, not just on the underneath stuff but those intermediate to deeper throws,” Pettine said. “I talk about having to watch the film and being able to evaluate, but I don’t have to watch the film to know he threw some pretty good balls in practice today. It’s good to see. Hopefully, that will carry over when we’re in pads.”

The Browns have their first padded practice on Saturday and it’s a good bet that the performance of the quarterbacks will continue to be a leading storyline.

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Sheldon Richardson won’t be charged for weed, child endangerment

Sheldon Richardson AP

For all the alarming stuff in the police report regarding Sheldon Richardson’s July arrest, it appears he’ll only face misdemeanors and traffic charges.

Via Brian Costello of the New York Post, the local prosecutor said he can’t bring child endangerment or marijuana charges against Richardson even though the report said there was a 12-year-old and the fresh odor of marijuana in a car that was clocked as fast as 143 mph.

“Our role is to take a look at the evidence that we know we have and say, given that, are we going to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed this felony?” St. Charles (Mo.) County prosecutor Tim Lohmar said. “The plain and simple answer to you is when we had all the facts in front of us we thought we’re going to have a tough time proving this beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Lohmar said he wasn’t sure he could get a conviction on a felony count of endangering the welfare of the child for several reasons, including the possibility that the family of the child (who has not been identified) might not cooperate.

Likewise, he said the lack of evidence kept him from pursuing drug charges, though that doesn’t mean he thinks Richardson is innocent.

“There were no drugs found in the car, but anybody who takes a look at the situation knows what’s going on there,” Lohmar said. “The odor, according to the officer, was such that it was a fresh odor. The weed had just burned. I think you can reasonably assume that had been taken place while they were driving and somewhere between that and the time they were pulled over whatever was in the car was thrown from the car. We don’t know that, obviously.”

Since Richardson didn’t make it easy on cops by admitting he had just smoked all the weed like Le’Veon Bell did, there’s no basis for the charges.

That won’t necessarily keep the league from acting on it, as they’ve made it clear they’ll investigate things on their own and not be bound by legal schedules under the new personal conduct policy. Richardson is already facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

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Report: Mike Kensil was Mortensen’s “main source”

Kensil Getty Images

It’s unlikely that ESPN’s Chris Mortensen was going to out the source(s) of the blatantly false report from January that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were a full two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum during a Friday appearance on WEEI. (That likelihood became even smaller once Mortensen canceled.)

John Dennis of WEEI reports, via Tom Curran of CSNNE.com, that one of Mortensen’s “main sources” for the false report was NFL V.P. of game operations Mike Kensil.

Curran reported more than six months ago that Kensil, a former Jets employee whose father once was the team’s president, was the “driving force” behind the investigation.

During a Thursday appearance on WEEI, Adam Schefter of ESPN seemed to suggest that Mortensen had multiple sources. Regardless of the total number, the information was false — and the report caused #DeflateGate to morph from a curiosity to, eventually, a federal case.

Before it became a federal case, it became a supposedly independent investigation. However independent the investigation was (or wasn’t), it wasn’t sufficiently independent to prompt Ted Wells to turn the focus back against the league for its potentially dissemination of false information to ESPN — and for its failure to immediately correct the information.

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NFL, NFLPA request expedited schedule in Brady case

Tom Brady AP

The NFL and NFLPA have found a point of agreement when it comes to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s challenge of his four-game suspension.

Gabe Feldman of Tulane Law School reports that the two sides have asked Judge Richard Berman for an expedited schedule that would lead to a final resolution of the case, subject to appeal, before the start of the 2015 season. They propose a timeline that would have motions filed by August 7 and replied to by August 14 with the oral arguments and decision to follow in short order.

The two sides have also agreed that “no discovery is needed to adjudicate the motions, which will be based on the arbitration record.”

That request would avoid the need for Brady and the NFLPA to pursue an injunction, although a loss for Brady could lead him to ask an appeals court for one that would allow him to play pending an ultimate decision in the case.

UPDATE 2:19 p.m.: The Boston Globe has posted a copy of the entire motion.

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