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PFT’s Week Nine picks

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Alas, I failed to gain any ground on MDS in Week Eight.  I didn’t lose any either.  We each went 10-3, splitting the two games on which we differed.

This week, we disagree on three games.  Which means I can cut his four-game lead down to one.  (I was always good at math.  Speling not so mutch.)

For the year, he’s 81-39, and I’m 77-43.

For a complete look at this week’s picks, just keep on reading.

Actually, I don’t care if you keep reading.  The click already has been registered.

Bengals at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Bengals are surging and the Dolphins are falling. I see Cincinnati winning big and NFL Network televising another Thursday night game that many fans will turn off at halftime. Also, never bet against a team that wears black and orange on Halloween.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Dolphins 10.

Florio’s take:  This is precisely the kind of game that the Bengals can lose.  Road game against an overmatched opponent with four straight losses and general disarray.  But a skeptical nation will be watching this one while discreetly bogarting its children’s Halloween candy.  One of the best teams in the AFC will step up, or risk not being perceived as one of the best teams in the AFC.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 31, Dolphins 20.

Chiefs at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills’ defense is good enough to hold the Chiefs’ offense in check, so this game should be close into the fourth quarter — certainly closer than you’d think for an 8-0 team facing a 3-5 team. I have a funny feeling a big play on special teams late in the game will give this one to the Chiefs.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 17, Bills 14.

Florio’s take:  It’s time.  The Chiefs have flirted with disaster the last two Sundays at home, narrowly beating the Texans and the Browns.  This week, the Chiefs go on the road, where they really haven’t been tested this year.  The Bills have easily beaten the Chiefs each of the last two years.  While this one won’t be a blowout, it’s time for someone to score more points than the last undefeated team in the NFL.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 23, Chiefs 20.

Falcons at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Falcons are finished. The Panthers are playing great football right now. Carolina has won three straight games by more than two touchdowns, and Sunday will make it four in a row.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 35, Falcons 17.

Florio’s take:  It’ll be interesting to see if the Panthers can recover from a 10-point deficit.  With the defense playing as well as it is, that may not happen any time soon.  With some tough games looming, the Panthers could get a tough test from a team fighting for its playoff life.  Based on how the Falcons played in Arizona last week, it won’t matter.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Falcons 17.

Vikings at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Cowboys’ defense may be shellshocked after what Calvin Johnson did to them on Sunday, but there’s no way the Vikings’ terrible passing game is going to make big plays in Dallas. The Cowboys will probably only need to win eight games to win the NFC East, and they’ll earn their fifth win on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 27, Vikings 13.

Florio’s takeAdrian Peterson returns home to Texas to face a team that could really use him.  Even without him, they have enough firepower to defeat a Vikings team that could be worse than the 3-13 edition from 2011.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 35, Vikings 17.

Saints at Jets

MDS’s take: I expect Rex Ryan’s defense to rebound from last week’s disaster in Cincinnati and play well against the Saints’ offense, but I don’t expect Geno Smith to play much better than he did last week. As a result, the Saints win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Saints 20, Jets 14.

Florio’s take:  It’s a Ryan twins reunion in New York.  Even though the Jets are doing better than expected, they aren’t good enough to close a major gap in talent one week after being blown out by the Bengals.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, Jets 17.

Titans at Rams

MDS’s take: The Rams were more competitive than I expected them to be in Monday night’s loss to the Seahawks, but the Kellen Clemens-led offense is going to be in a lot of low-scoring losses the rest of the season. That’s what I expect to happen when Jeff Fisher’s old team comes to town.

MDS’s pick: Titans 14, Rams 13.

Florio’s take:  The Titans play their first game ever without owner Bud Adams — and against long-time coach Jeff Fisher.  With Tennessee having two weeks to get ready and the Rams operating only six days after a physically and emotionally draining loss to the Seahawks, this could be the ugly result everyone expected on Monday night.

Florio’s pick:  Titans 27, Rams 13.

Chargers at Redskins

MDS’s take: Washington is just not a good team in any phase of the game: The offense still looks like it needs last year’s Robert Griffin III, the defense allows too many big plays in the passing game and the special teams are an absolute disaster. San Diego will put a lot of points on the board and win an easy one.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 31, Redskins 17.

Florio’s takePhilip Rivers owns a 5-1 record against Mike Shanahan.  The Chargers are rested and the Redskins are reeling after suffering a 38-point second-half barrage against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 24, Redskins 14.

Eagles at Raiders

MDS’s take: Everyone has spent so much time in the last couple weeks asking what’s wrong with Chip Kelly’s offense that a lot of people are overlooking all the problems with the Eagles’ defense. When you can’t even force a turnover against the Giants’ offense — and the Eagles’ defense couldn’t last week — you know something is wrong. Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor makes his share of mistakes, but the Eagles don’t have the defense to take advantage of those mistakes. Pryor will make enough big plays with his feet to win this one and make Kelly wish he had a quarterback like Pryor.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 20, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Raiders complete a rare two-game sweep of Pennsylvania’s pro football teams without ever having to leave the Bay Area.  All four NFC West teams will be at or above .500 come Sunday, thanks to their ability to pulverize the teams of the NFC East.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 17, Eagles 9.

Buccaneers at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Buccaneers are playing as badly as any team in the NFL right now. Seattle is the toughest place to play in the league. The Seahawks can name their score.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 41, Buccaneers 13.

Florio’s take:  Two teams that entered the NFL together in 1976 couldn’t be more different in 2013.  While the Bucs still have the bragging rights that come from winning a Super Bowl, the Seahawks could be on course to match that achievement this year.  Tampa will be a minor speed bump along the path to New York

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 31, Buccaneers 10.

Ravens at Browns

MDS’s take: Browns quarterback Jason Campbell actually played well against the tough Chiefs’ defense, and the Ravens haven’t been playing well recently. Call me crazy, but I think the defending Super Bowl champions are going down in Cleveland.

MDS’s pick: Browns 20, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take:  The team that used to be the Browns has beaten the Browns 11 straight times.  If the Ravens can’t run that streak to 12, their five-year run of playoff berths could be ending, too.  Rested and re-focused, the Ravens will find a way, as they always seem to do when they need it most.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 20, Browns 10.

Steelers at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots have had so many injuries that they feel like they’re going to fall apart at any moment, but there they are in their customary spot atop the AFC East. They’ll keep it going against the Steelers.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Steelers 21.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers can win if they commit fully to the run, and if they can find a way to slow down a good-not-great New England offense.  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seems to be too determined to prove he’s still a franchise quarterback to buy in to a run-based attack, even if the team’s use of the Wildcat means that the Steelers no longer view him as a true game changer.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 24, Steelers 21.

Colts at Texans

MDS’s take: Case Keenum may provide the Texans a spark, and the Colts may be due for a letdown. I’m tempted to pick Houston to pull off an upset and snap their five-game losing streak, but I just can’t pull the trigger on it.

MDS’s pick: Colts 21, Texans 20.

Florio’s take:  Two weeks after Peyton Manning returned to his adopted home of Indianapolis, Andrew Luck returns to his real home of Houston.  The question is which Colts team will come with him — and whether Case Keenum can build on his near miss against the Chiefs from Week Seven.  I’ll say the one that lost to the Chargers, and yes.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Colts 20.

Bears at Packers

MDS’s take: In this week’s only matchup of teams with winning records, the Packers will strengthen their grip on the NFC North race with a win over the Bears. Both teams are banged up, but the Bears’ loss of Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs makes it tough for them to win anywhere. I certainly don’t see them winning in Green Bay.

MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Bears 17.

Florio’s takeJosh McCown, Luke McCown, Cade McNown.  Either way, it’s a McLoss, McDog.  Green Bay keeps rolling toward another division title, as long as the quarterback doesn’t join the injured list.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 35, Bears 21.

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Richard Sherman suddenly takes trade talk more seriously

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Richard Sherman quickly has gone from being amused to bemused.

A week after laughing off talk of a possible trade from Seattle, the seventh-year cornerback has taken a more serious tack regarding the possibility that his days in Seattle are coming to an end. On Thursday, he provided this statement to Gee Scott of 710 ESPN: “I wouldn’t want to leave this city and my guys, but I understand it’s a business and organizational philosophies change.”

Said Sherman last week about then-nascent trade chatter: “I just laugh it off, man. It’s funny to me. But sometimes people need to see you gone to realize what you had. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. But I don’t let things like that bother me. The chips will fall how they’re supposed to.”

So what changed in the interim? Among other things, G.M. John Schneider didn’t scoff at the notion of a Sherman trade, saying instead that “[w]e listen to everything.”

Sherman apparently has gotten the message.

He has $4.4 million of bonus money that would hit the cap, either in a pair of $2.2 million chunks or all at once. Also, $5 million of his base salary for 2017 became fully-guaranteed a year ago. A trade of the contract, which has a total base salary of $11.431 million for 2017, would absolve the Seahawks of that obligation.

No trade partners have emerged for Sherman, but with the draft four weeks away, all it takes is a phone call. The Seahawks are ready to listen.

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Ricky Jean Francois explains why he owns 25 donut shops

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It’s not for entertainment.

It’s not for late-night cravings.

Ricky Jean Francois says he owns 25 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, and his reason is for the long haul.

The new Packers defensive tackle signed a one-year, $2 million contract last week. Fair to say, he won’t dump all those funds into a million-dollar sports car and clothes. Jean Francois has made investing a priority in his NFL career, applying the focus into a business strategy that so happens to make him something of a doughnut-and-coffee tycoon.

Jean Francois said that he wasn’t as conscientious with his money in 2009 as a 49ers rookie.

But as the NFL paychecks grew, his attention did, too.

“When the big money came in,” Jean Francois said, via Fox Sports Radio, “I was like, ‘I need a retirement plan right now. I need a retirement plan that can grow right now, so at the time when I actually walk out of the NFL, I don’t have to let the NFL be my identity. Teams can look at me like, ‘OK, he’s a business man. He’s a smart guy. He knows what he’s doing with his money.’

“I’m going on year nine, and I have so many different investments and opportunities, so the day I have to walk out of the league, I won’t have those second guesses. I won’t be those guys you see on ’30-for-30.’ I won’t be those percentage of guys that goes broke. . . . I want to be that guy on top. When the league talks about, ‘This is what you do with your money,’ they actually show a picture of me.”

Between the March free-agency period and rookie contract signings to come, Jean Francois’ example is a timely one.

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Mark Tauscher may be thinking about running for Wisconsin governor

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Former Packers are popular in Wisconsin. One of them (who also is a Wisconsin native and played for the Badgers) may soon try to find out quite how popular they are.

Mary Spicuzza of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explores whether former Packers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher is considering a run for governor. The primary (and only) evidence is a “Mark Tauscher for WI Governor” Facebook page that apparently has no connection to the player.

“We are not affiliated with Mark Tauscher, yet,” the Facebook page claims.

Tauscher did not respond immediately to a request for comment from the Journal Sentinel. Even if he’s interested, it makes sense to keep the interest quiet until momentum builds (or doesn’t) for a viable run. The first rule of politics is to keep political aspirations secret, in order to prevent creating the perception that the politician has failed to rise to the desired level of success.

Tauscher has no political experience (which obviously isn’t a disqualifying factor). He currently has a media presence, providing commentary and analysis as to both the Badgers and Packers. Tauscher also hosts a weekday radio show with Jason Wilde.

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Former Jaguars WR now a decorated sheriff’s officer

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There is no shortage of ex-NFL players who chose to become police officers or firefighters following their playing careers, perhaps none more visibly than former Eagles offensive lineman Danny Watkins. His passion for service outweighed his love for football.

Ernest Wilford did not leave football to pursue a new field.

But based on an award he received Thursday, he has a knack for it.

The former Jaguars wide receiver was honored with a Peer Achievement Award from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office he serves. He joined the department last March because he “wanted to serve the people in the community who cheered him on in his previous profession, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Wilford played for the Jaguars from 2004 to 2007 and again in 2009 and 2010.

The newspaper cited a number of actions prompting the accolade.

The list includes Wilford responding to a domestic disturbance situation that involved an “unruly son.” Its root issue was the son not having a job. Wilford spoke to a local restaurant employee, who helped arrange a job for the teen. On another call, Wilford arranged a dentist from his church to meet with a woman who reported significant pain but could not afford dental care. The woman previously threatened suicide, per the report.

Such community work would not generate a headline if not for Wilford’s NFL background.

So, if nothing else, it’s a reminder that the most positive efforts from public service workers often go unnoticed to the greater public.

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Scot McCloughan speaks (through Michael Robinson)

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After heading to the Scouting Combine with a nonexistent P.R. plan for dealing with soon-to-be-ousted G.M. Scot McCloughan, Washington’s contingent to the league meetings in Phoenix consisted of team president Bruce Allen painting a positive picture to multiple reporters. (Despite multiple requests made this year and in prior years, the team has not made Allen available for an interview with PFT.)

Michael Robinson, a former NFL fullback, a current NFL Network analyst, and a friend of McCloughan, explained on a Richmond radio show a recent phone conversation with McCloughan.

“He knew the players loved him, and he started feeling the hate from Bruce Allen right around, well, he’s been feeling it, but when they didn’t let him speak [to reporters] at the Senior Bowl, he said to him that was his last straw, and he knew that he was on his way out,” Robinson said Thursday on The Wes McElroy Show, via the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “He said it was after a draft meeting, after the combine, Bruce called him up to his office and was just like, ‘Nobody likes you in this building. Nobody wants you here.’ And Scot was like, ‘Well, I guess I’m out of here.'”

McCloughan also told Robinson he doesn’t have “an issue right now drinking,” and that “I haven’t touched a drink in a while.”

Amid the possibility of a grievance and/or litigation from McCloughan, it’s possible if not likely that the two sides are attempting to work something out informally. If McCloughan were hell bent on a legal pound of flesh, he’d already be seeking it; the fact that he hasn’t initiated proceedings strongly suggests that efforts are underway to resolve the situation before it gets to that point.

If litigation is looming, it probably makes sense for McCloughan not to do any further talking, either directly to the media or to friends who are in the media. When it comes to any form of court proceedings, anything you say and will be used against you, if the other side can find a way to spin what was said into a benefit.

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Report: Sharrif Floyd knee injury could be career ending

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Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s career could be over as a result of a knee injury and subsequent surgical complications.

Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that Floyd suffered nerve damage when he had surgery in September to repair a torn meniscus, and the injury is putting his career in jeopardy.

“Sharrif is rehabbing, has seen some of the best doctors in the country, will continue to rehab and hopefully, this will heal sooner than later,” said Floyd’s agent, Brian Mackler.

Floyd’s $6.757 million base salary this season is guaranteed for injury as the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. But at 25 years old he likely had many years left to play and tens of millions of dollars left to earn beyond 2017. This injury puts that future in question.

Floyd suffered the injury in September but the Vikings initially said they didn’t think it would be serious. It wasn’t until December that they placed him on injured reserve.

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Cameron Jordan, Byron Maxwell, Delanie Walker take part in NFL-USO tour

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A trio of NFL players deserve plenty of credit for what they’ll be doing on their own time.

Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell, and Titans tight end Delanie Walker will be going to Southwest Asia to participate in the annual NFL-USO Tour of American military bases.

The dates and specific locations haven’t been announced, for security reasons. They’ll devote a full week to the effort.

Kudos to the NFL for putting this program together, and even more kudos to the men who will be doing something neither easy nor convenient for the good of our troops.

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Browns high on Malik Hooker, set to host him

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Chances are, if the Browns retain their No. 1 overall pick, it will be used on Myles Garrett.

But the former Texas A&M edge rusher isn’t the only defensive prospect on whom the franchise appears high.

Malik Hooker, the dynamic safety from Ohio State, will visit the Browns’ facility on Friday, he told ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland. There reportedly is serious interest in his quick visit becoming a long-lasting one; however, it seems unlikely Hooker would be the choice over Garrett at No. 1 or available when Cleveland is on the clock again at No. 12.

That leaves a first-round trade, back or up, as the best scenario in which Hooker becomes a Brown.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Browns are “considering him in the first round of the draft. They’ve spent a lot of time on him and have expressed as much interest as any team in the league,” Cabot reported, citing sources.

While Hooker will visit the Browns, he won’t appear at the NFL Draft.

He has declined the league’s invitation to attend the Philadelphia event, he told PFT Live on Thursday.

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John Harbaugh expects multiple championship with Joe Flacco

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Jim Irsay and John Harbaugh may not have much in common. Here’s one thing they do: Both except to win more than one Super Bowl with their current starting quarterbacks.

“When [Joe Flacco] first walked into the building after we drafted him in 2008, [it was like], ‘Hey, dude, we’re going to win multiple Super Bowls,'” Harbaugh said this week, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “We’re going to win multiple championships here. And we’re going to.”

Of course, the difference between Irsay and Harbaugh (among others) is that Harbaugh already has one with Flacco. Still, both teams arguably are equally far away from the next.

The Ravens made it to the playoffs five straight years with Flacco and Harbaugh. In 2013, one year after the lone Super Bowl victory, the run ended. The next year, the Ravens had a pair of 14-point leads in New England before falling to the eventual champions in the divisional round. Then came back-to-back seasons of no playoff appearances, with a division title narrowly lost in a Christmas Day classic against the Steelers.

Despite a franchise-quarterback contract, Flacco arguably isn’t a franchise quarterback — or the more popular five-letter shorthand reference to one. Winning a second Super Bowl would help. As he enters the 10th year of his season, it remains to be seen when Super Bowl No. 2 will come his way.

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Andy Reid vows to get Tyreek Hill more involved in the Chiefs’ offense

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Tyreek Hill burst onto the scene as a rookie in Kansas City last season, scoring six touchdowns on 61 catches, three touchdowns on 24 carries, two touchdowns on 39 punt returns and one touchdown on 14 kickoff returns.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid looks at those numbers and thinks 138 touches isn’t enough for a player with Hill’s ability to get to the end zone.

So Reid will turn Hill into an offensive playmaker in 2017, giving him more snaps at running back and wide receiver after he was on the field for less than half of the offensive plays in 2016.

Growing Tyreek in the offense will be important,” Reid said.

Reid says Hill arrived in the NFL without a lot of experience running the kind of routes that an NFL offense demands of its receivers, but Hill can get better at that with experience.

“He was a running back that they kind of moved around a little bit,” Reid said. “His routes when he first came were kind of raw. They weren’t as disciplined as they need to be in this offense. So much of this offense is timing and being in a certain spot and knowing defenses, knowing secondaries and all that, how you’re going to make adjustments. That was all new. He is a smart kid. He picked it up so fast, and he was able to play at our level.”

If Hill can become an NFL-quality route runner, he should make an even bigger impact in 2017. Which is a scary thought for the Chiefs’ opponents.

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What’s the NFL’s end game with gambling?

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As the NFL tries to balance a love of Las Vegas with a loathing of the primary activity that goes on there, what if the league also secretly lusts after gambling?

Sure, Commissioner Roger Goodell is saying all the rights about gambling being the wrong thing for the NFL. Just like he previously was saying all the right things about Vegas being the wrong place. In addition for being paid to be the pin cushion for owners who prefer rich and famous to rich and notorious, Goodell’s compensation package includes taking positions that he knows he eventually may have to abandon as gracefully as possible. Or not gracefully at all.

Really, what has been the cost of Goodell’s about-face on Las Vegas? Has anyone said anything critical about Goodell for saying one thing and doing another? Hell, inconsistency or word and deed practically become the way of the world.

So Goodell can continue to say gambling is bad until the owners decide that gambling is good. And then Goodell can start saying gambling is good, without ever acknowledging that he regarded gambling as bad.

When the owners (and in turn Goodell) decide that gambling is good, what happens next? Behind the scenes, efforts will be made to eliminate the federal law that prohibits the expansion of sports betting beyond the states where it currently happens. (The NFL has used that law to block the expansion of sports betting in states like Delaware and New Jersey.) When that push becomes public, we’ll hear a lot about states’ rights and other situationally convenient philosophies that will justify America telling the United States that they can set up sports books if they want.

Then, the various states will begin to adopt betting on sporting events, one at a time until as many that will ever do it have done it. Then, as many NFL teams as possible will begin to find a way to make money from sports betting.

The process could culminate at some point (maybe years from now, maybe decades) in the ability of a fan/bettor to access a team or league website or app and quickly and cleanly (and legally) place a bet.

For a successful business that constantly wants to find ways to make more and more (and more) money, there’s a revenue stream that has been flowing to people other than NFL owners since the day the sport was born. Every year, billions are changing hands via wagering on NFL games, without the NFL getting a cut.

The move to Las Vegas represents a clear statement that, eventually, it will.

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Anthony Lynn: Joe Mixon is still on the Chargers’ draft board

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Former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is reportedly off the draft boards of at least two NFL teams, the Dolphins and Patriots, over concerns about the incident in which he punched a woman, seriously injuring her. But Mixon only needs one team to take a chance on him.

Perhaps that one team will be the Los Angeles Chargers, who brought in Mixon for a visit and say he’s still a player they’re considering.

“We just wanted to pick his brain and see where he was at football-wise because he wasn’t at the combine. He did a good job with that,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said, adding, “He’s still on the draft board. It didn’t change much. . . . We know he can play football. He’s one of the best backs in the draft. We just wanted to do our homework, that’s all.”

Mixon is a talented enough player that he’d likely be a first-round pick if not for the ugly off-field incident. The Chargers or some other team will look at the talent, and overlook the assault.

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Myles Garrett will have a visit with the 49ers

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The Browns insist they’re not trading the top pick for a quarterback. The world assumes that Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett will be the top pick, even though he’s not a quarterback.

But in case he’s not off the board, the 49ers are going to be ready.

Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Garrett said he will visit with the 49ers, the owners of the No. 2 overall pick.

General manager John Lynch was on hand  for Garrett’s pro day workout in College Station, Texas, and seemed dutifully impressed that Garrett participated.

I thought it was impressive,” Lynch said. “Here’s this kid who really doesn’t need to show everyone much more, but yet he shows up and runs a 40. I think it just speaks to the kind of kid he is. It was impressive. It’s well-documented – I’m not saying anything ground-breaking – he’s a special athlete.

“He checks all the boxes. That’s why people are talking about him in the way they are.”

It would be a major surprise if Garrett was available when the 49ers were on the clock, but it would also be a mistake if they weren’t prepared, just in case.

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When will a coach bet on himself?

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Jim Caldwell’s it-is-what-it-is approach to his current employment situation in Detroit serves as a reminder of a periodic hot take that often bubbles up for me whenever a good coach closes in on the completion of his contract: When will a coach treat the looming expiration of his deal as a shot at free agency?

Rarely if ever does an NFL head coach: (1) finish every game of his contract; and (2) inform the NFL, “I’m available to the highest bidder.”

When Jason Garrett’s contract expired in Dallas after a Final Eight season in 2014, he could have made the Vince-McMahon-strutting-GIF move to another city, but he truly didn’t want to leave the Cowboys. Last summer, with both coach Pete Carroll and G.M. John Schneider entering contract years, they could have individually or collectively said, “Hey, Rams! Interested?” after the 2016 season ended.

They opted instead to re-up.

For whatever reason, coaches (and General Managers) never bet on themselves in that way, choosing the sure thing over the shot in the dark. Maybe they’re conservative by nature when it comes to the knowledge that large amounts of money will continue to flow to the bank account beyond the current year. Maybe they have a hard time assessing their own potential value objectively. Maybe they fear that the jobs that become available are available not because the current coach stinks, but because the organization does.

Regardless, there’s never been a head coach who says, “I don’t want a new contract for now. I want to hit the open market next year.” Maybe Caldwell, if he takes the Lions to the playoffs again without an extension before the season ends, will hit the open market without making the declaration in advance.

And maybe the boss of the Lions will become the first NFL head coach to walk into free agency like the boss of the WWE.

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Report: Vikings signing Arena League tight end Nick Truesdell

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The Minnesota Vikings are bringing in a former Arena League player that made a significant impression during pro combine testing last weekend.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the Vikings are signing tight end Nick Truesdell after an impressive showing that saw him post a 4.6-second 40-yard dash time while measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds.

Truesdell has played for six different teams in the Arena Football League and Indoor Football League with just one previous opportunity on an NFL roster. He spent a brief three-day stint with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 before being released early in training camp. He’s also been invited in as a tryout player for rookie mini-camps with the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers in past years.

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