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Josh Freeman is your new starter in Minnesota

AP

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier just made official what seemed apparent from the day they signed Josh Freeman.

The former first-rounder will start for the Vikings Monday against the Giants, allowing him to make his debut with his new team against an 0-6 opponent.

“He has adapted to our system,” Frazier said. “I like his work ethic. He has done enough for us to say that he is ready.”

Frazier also said Christian Ponder would be the backup and Matt Cassel the third.

This is nothing but a test drive, as Freeman has the chance to supplant Ponder as the guy they want to move forward with. While that might ruffle some feathers, it’s also worth a shot, as Freeman has played at a higher level than Ponder has reached.

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Marvin Lewis decides dancing is where he draws the line

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Marvin Lewis coaches the team that used a second-round pick on a guy who punched a woman in the face.

Marvin Lewis thinks the NFL’s relaxation of celebration penalties sets a bad example for the youth of America.

Via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com, the Bengals coach said he was not a fan of the league’s decision to allow expanded touchdown celebrations.

I’m not for that at all,” Lewis said. “We had a good standard and the whole standard has always been you want to teach people how to play the game the correct way and go about it the correct way, and that’s not a very good example for young people.”

Lewis has seen first-hand when individualism is taken to its extreme, having coached Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, two of the greats of the last generation of players allowed to have fun after achieving a difficult thing.

“The rules were changed for a reason and I thought we had a good outcome,” Lewis said. “Again, this is a team game, and . . . I don’t understand why we want to give in to individual celebrations.”

Of course, it would be easy to suggest that Lewis is focusing on the wrong things, considering the Bengals just drafted Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who fell into their laps because there happened to be video of him — stop us if we said this already — punching a woman in the face.

And because it’s easy to suggest that Lewis is focusing on the wrong things, we’ll continue to do it. Particularly when Mixon scores a touchdown this year, the ability to do so which caused the Bengals to ignore the fact he punched a woman in the face.

He better not dance, or else Lewis might have to say enough is enough.

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Roethlisberger on retirement contemplation: “Doesn’t matter, I’m here now”

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger contemplated retirement in the offseason. Few believed it. Former teammate Willie Colon did.

“I got to sit down and talk to him and one thing he told me is he did take it seriously,” Colon said last week on PFT Live. “He’s dealt with a lot of injuries.”

Asked Tuesday by reporters about the comments from Colon, Roethlisbeger laughed and said (via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com), “What, did you think I was lying?

Regardless of whether he did or didn’t take it seriously (if he’d retired, Roethlisberger would have owed the Steelers $18.6 million), he has decided to recommit, at least for 2017.

“I’m here,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m here on Day One. You see me out there taking every rep I’m supposed to take and then some. I actually took some of the rookies today. I’m 110 percent committed like I said I was.”

So how close did he come to retiring?

“Doesn’t matter,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m here now.”

He’ll be there until he isn’t, and it will be a one-year-at-a-time proposition until he decides in an upcoming offseason that he’s done. Next year, the price for leaving drops to $12.4 million. The next, $6.2 million. Come 2020, he can retire with no financial obligation to the team.

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Marcus Mariota back on the field, even in limited capacity

AP

The last time we saw Marcus Mariota on a football field, he was being carted off with a broken leg, and with him the Titans chance at a playoff berth.

But Tuesday, even though it was in a limited capacity, he was back on the fields as the Titans began their Organized Team Activities, which was a welcome surprise.

“It felt great,” Mariota said, via Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. “Four months ago I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to participate in OTAs and being able to do some of the drills through practice, it [says] a lot about my progress and my recovery. I was very happy and very grateful to be out there.”

The Titans had pledged to take things slowly with Mariota, and he mostly watched during the “team” portion of work. But he did some walk-through and positional drills and a bit of seven-on-seven.

“I know he’d like to do more, he looks like he can do more, but it’s May,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “We’ve got lots of time.”

Mariota had a plate installed to repair the damage suffered on Christmas Eve, at a time when the Titans had a shot at the AFC South. And if he can stay healthy, the strides they made as a team may help remind people that Nashville is something other than a hockey town now.

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Raiders’ move led about 1,000 fans to seek ticket refunds

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When the Raiders announced that they’re planning to move to Las Vegas in 2020, they also announced that Oakland fans who want out now can get refunds for season tickets they already purchased. About 1,000 fans took them up on that.

Raiders owner Mark Davis told reporters at the league meeting today that his team issued about 1,000 refunds to fans who were unhappy about the team’s decision to leave Oakland.

Davis added, however, that those refunds aren’t hurting the team’s bottom line: He said all the season tickets that have been refunded have since been purchased by other fans.

The Raiders have a talented young team coming off a playoff season, so they’ll probably continue to have support in Oakland, even if the local fans aren’t happy about the decision to leave. If the Raiders have a disappointing season on the field, however, fan support may evaporate, and a team that has often played in front of thousands of empty seats may find itself getting less local support than ever.

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Titans sign Adoree’ Jackson

AP

The Titans have signed one of their two first-round picks from this year’s draft.

The team announced on Tuesday that cornerback Adoree’ Jackson has agreed to a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth season. Jackson went at No. 18, 13 picks after the Titans took wide receiver Corey Davis. Davis is one of three draft picks yet to sign a contract with the team.

Jackson won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top collegiate cornerback last season and finished his career at USC with six interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown and also scored six times as a receiver, four times as a kickoff returner and four times as a punt returner during his college days.

Titans G.M. Jon Robinson said that the team may sprinkle Jackson in on offense at some point down the line, but, for now, he’ll be playing defense and in the return game.

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Tampa to host 2021 Super Bowl, L.A. moves to 2022

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The delay in the opening of the new stadium for the Chargers and Rams in Los Angeles will lead to a delay in the Super Bowl’s return to Los Angeles.

NFL owners voted unanimously on Tuesday to move Super Bowl LV in February 2021 from Los Angeles to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Los Angeles will now host the Super Bowl a year later.

The two teams in Los Angeles announced last week that construction delays related to heavy rains in the Los Angeles area would require the opening of the stadium to be pushed back to 2020. The NFL has a rule stating that stadiums must be open for at least two seasons before they can host a Super Bowl, which required Los Angeles to seek a waiver that the league’s owners opted not to grant.

Tampa was the runner-up in bidding for Super Bowl LV. Raymond James Stadium has been undergoing major renovations over the last couple of years so the stadium will look much different from the last time it hosted the big game in 2008.

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Overtime rule change is permanent

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Two wrongs don’t make a right. They potentially make a freaking mess.

I’m not one to say “I told you so” (actually, I am), but I want to make sure it’s clear from the get-go that the misguided change to the preseason and regular-season overtime procedures will result in unintended consequences. At least the owners let themselves an escape hatch by making the change a one-year proposition, with 24 yes votes necessary in 2018 to continue it.

Oh, wait. They didn’t. Per a league spokesman, it’s a permanent change. That means it becomes the law of the land until at least 24 of the owners decide to dump it.

Think of how this came to be. For decades, overtime has had a duration of up to 15 minutes. While longer overtime periods became more likely after the adoption of the two-possession rule* in 2010, it wasn’t until the NFL faced increasing criticism for Thursday Night Football that sealing off the possibility of a team playing up to 75 minutes on a Sunday and then playing again on a Thursday became a concern. Taking that possibility off the table became the top concern that pushed the change through, despite real concerns about what may happen — and with no easy way to fix the mistake because the opposition will now have to grow from nine to 24 to change the rule again.

There could be more ties, which everyone will hate. There definitely won’t be fewer ties, not with the rule that guarantees the team that kicks off to start overtime a chance to tie or beat a first-drive field goal. And there could be unfair outcomes, with dinking and dunking by a West Coast offense milking the clock and giving the other team little or no time to score if/when they get the ball for the first and only time.

Some believe teams will now play faster in a compressed extra session. If they do, and if the same number of average snaps are taken in overtime with 10 minutes as there were with 15, the problem won’t have been addressed at all.

There are too many variables, too many permutations, too many possibilities for the league to make this change on a permanent basis. The fact that the league office commandeered a permanent change shows how committed it is to the new rule regardless of consequence, which underscores that the main objective was simply to take from the table one of the things to which players, media, and fans could point when complaining about short-week football.

Instead, players, media, and fans will be complaining about the unintended consequences of 10-minute overtime, if not this season then eventually.

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Jamaal Charles to focus on getting healthy until camp

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A recent report gave running back Jamaal Charles 50-50 odds of making the Broncos’ 53-man roster come September and his push to get on the right side of that decision won’t be starting in earnest for a while.

Broncos coach Vance Joseph said on Tuesday, via James Palmer of NFL Media, that Charles will be focused on rehab and getting healthy during the Organized Team Activities phase of the team’s offseason schedule. Charles has dealt with knee injuries the last two seasons.

While the time off the field will give other running backs more opportunities to catch the eye of the coaching staff, Joseph said that Charles has no chance to help the team if he isn’t healthy and that it wouldn’t be fair to the veteran to push him into action before that point.

Charles’ contract doesn’t include any guaranteed money, so it won’t be hard for the Broncos to walk away if Charles isn’t able to get back to form by the end of the preseason.

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Calvin Johnson joins Raiders for first week of OTAs

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Ten years ago, the Raiders didn’t want Calvin Johnson. They now do. Sort of.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Johnson will join the Raiders during the first week of Organized Team Activities. He’ll attend as a guest of offensive coordinator Todd Downing.

It’s unclear whether Johnson will be observing or participating in any of the coaching. It’s also unclear whether Johnson is dipping his toe in the water regarding the possibility of coming back to football in a non-playing capacity.

The Raiders held the first overall pick in the draft in 2007. They took quarterback Jamarcus Russell, passing on Johnson and greasing the skids for a tailspin that the franchise finally is emerging from.

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Report: Tampa new favorite to host L.A.’s Super Bowl

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The record rains in Southern California might be costing more than a season of Rams and Chargers games.

With the league reluctant to play a Super Bowl in the first year of a new stadium, other contenders are now in the mix to host the 2021 Super Bowl.

According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Tampa is now considered the “front-runner” to host the event, which would suggest the needed waiver to keep the game in L.A. isn’t likely after weather caused a year of construction delays.

A seasoned Super Bowl host, Tampa bid to host the game that was awarded to Los Angeles as a reward for the new stadium the Rams and Chargers will share.

New Orleans was also in the mix, but convention and Mardi Gras conflicts will keep them from hosting that year.

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Report: Fletcher Cox to return to Eagles OTAs next week

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The Eagles started this year’s slate of Organized Team Activities without defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in attendance, but it doesn’t sound like his absence is going to be an extended one.

Coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday that while he would expect Cox to be at the practices, the defensive tackle has a satisfactory reason for not being at the voluntary session. Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the reason is because he is spending the week with his family.

Berman also reports that Cox is expected back with the team next week as they continue OTAs and move closer to the end of their offseason schedule.

Left tackle Jason Peters was also missing from Tuesday’s practice and teammate Lane Johnson said, via Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, that he expects Peters will be back for the mandatory minicamp in June.

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Duane Brown skipping OTAs over contract

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Most offseason workouts are voluntary. Every team wants all players to attend every one of them.

In Houston, left tackle Duane Brown isn’t.

Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Brown is staying away from Organized Team Activities due to displeasure with his contract.

Brown has two years left on his current deal, which is due to pay out a non-guaranteed amount of $9.65 million in 2017 and $9.75 million in 2018. None of it is guaranteed.

Wilson notes that the Texans don’t renegotiate contracts with two years remaining on them.

The Texans have a variety of contractual situations to address unrelated to Brown. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and he deserves a new one. Also, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is eligible for his second contract, and he could begin to clamor for a new deal at any time.

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Roberto Aguayo fails in first public head-to-head with Nick Folk

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Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo has taken another step toward becoming former Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo.

Via JoeBucsFan.com, the second-year, second-round pick missed “at least three” of four field goal tries during a Tuesday OTA session. The good news is that the goal posts were narrower than normal. The bad news is that recently-signed veteran Nick Folk went four-for-four on the same narrow posts.

As noted by JoeBucsFan.com, practice “went silent” after Aguayo missed for the third time: “Ninety players plus coaches, many just BSing and drinking water during the kicking period, were quiet.”

For a position that ultimately will be counted on to perform under pressure, failing to perform under the pressure of the first open practice with Folk on the field won’t help Aguayo convince the Bucs to keep him around.

The outcome makes it even more likely that the Buccaneers ultimately will be paying Aguayo $428,000 to kick elsewhere than paying Folk $750,000 to make like a tree and get out of here.

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Mike Glennon: This is my year, not worried about 2018

AP

When the Bears signed quarterback Mike Glennon to a three-year deal as a free agent this offseason, most people assumed that he’d be getting most of that time as the starter in Chicago with a chance for a longer run if he played well.

That outlook changed when the Bears traded up to the No. 2 pick so they could select Mitchell Trubisky in last month’s draft. Now the questions aren’t about whether Glennon is the long-term answer at the position but about how long it will be before the Bears turn to Trubisky.

Glennon said Tuesday that the team has told him it is his team this year and that he’s not thinking about anything beyond that as a result.

“This year is my year and I’m not going to worry about the future,” Glennon said, via Zach Zaidman of the team’s radio network.

Glennon also said that he would have still signed with the Bears even if he knew Trubisky was going to be the pick, which may sound like a stretch but Glennon signed a deal that the Bears that offered the team an easy out after this season so he was going to have to play well to keep his job under any circumstances. If he does, he’ll get a shot in Chicago or somewhere else and that’s more than enough reason to keep focus on himself rather than the rookie waiting in the wings.

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Report: Michael Oher planning to show for minicamp, play this year

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Panthers tackle Michael Oher wasn’t with his teammates Tuesday, but he’s expecting to be there soon, and to play this season.

While Oher didn’t report for the start of the Panthers Organized Team Activities Tuesday amid reports he’s not in the best of shape, in addition to coming off a concussion which kept him out of all but three games last season.

According to David Newton of ESPN.com, Oher plans to show up for a mandatory minicamp in mid-June, and also plans to play this year if he’s cleared through the concussion protocol.

Oher’s still working out, and team officials have praised his comeback efforts.

But they’re also planning for life without him, in case he doesn’t.

The Panthers signed left tackle Matt Kalil in free agency, and used a second-round pick for Taylor Moton to compete for he starting right tackle job.

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