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Rookies routinely get stuck with big bills

Leaf Getty Images

While it’s apparent that whatever happened to Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin likely went beyond normal rookie hazing, the notion that veterans force rookies taken in the higher rounds of the draft to finance expensive trips or dinners is hardly unprecedented.

Routinely, players taken in round one or two of the draft are expected to foot the bill for a trip or a expensive meal.  It’s therefore impossible to assess whether the report that other Dolphins have been forced to pay for expensive things at the behest of veterans reflects an isolated situation or something that is part of the broader NFL culture.

Regardless of the extent to which it happens elsewhere, it definitely happens.  Former Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf once tried to resist paying for a team dinner.  As legend has it, linebacker Junior Seau eventually got Leaf’s credit card and charged a dinner for everyone on the team except Leaf.

Leaf complained, and Seau responding by flattening Leaf in practice.

“The reason behind the hit was that a bunch of veterans had pulled a prank,” former Chargers exec Billy Devaney told Sports Illustrated last year.  “They’d gone out to dinner and charged it to Ryan’s credit card.  They did stuff like that to first-round picks every year. It might have been a couple thousand dollars, and Ryan went crying to [General Manager Bobby Beathard], saying, ‘This isn’t right. I’m not paying it.’ When the guys found out Ryan had gone to management, they were so pissed. Normally [on an interception in practice] you stop and say no big deal. Well, Junior wanted to send a message. He hunted Leaf down and decleated him. The whole defense came over and high-fived him right away.”

That’s exactly why players don’t complain about stuff like this, and why Martin has been reluctant to complain about whatever his teammates were doing to him that prompted him to leave the team last week.

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Woody Johnson makes a Twitter gaffe

Woody AP

As Twitter blunders go, they usually happen when someone sends an ill-advised tweet, or when someone intends to send a direct message that gets directed to the world.

Jets owner Woody Johnson has demonstrated one of the other potential perils of the social media juggernaut.  Via Deadspin, Woody accidentally clicked the “favorite” button on a tweet directed to Johnson advocating the firing of G.M. John Idzik.

“You really need to #FireIdzik at this point,” the fan said.  “This roster is garbagio.”

Said Johnson after realizing the mistake:  “Have to be more careful when scrolling through my Twitter feed.  The tweet I most recently favorited was inadvertent.”

If only he could claim that the decision to hire Idzik has inadvertent, maybe the Jets would have some hope.

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Panthers playing wait-and-see with Cam Newton

Cam Newton AP

It’s beginning to look like Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be on the same time frame as Tony Romo.

But the Panthers aren’t going to rush to any decisions.

After Newton practiced and moved well earlier today — eight days after suffering two fractured transverse processes in a car wreck — Panthers coach Ron Rivera tried to tap the brakes.

“He looked like he threw the ball well, but again, a lot depends on how he feels tomorrow,” Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review.

If Newton’s able to rebound without too much pain and soreness in his lower back, they’ll add to his workload in practice tomorrow.

Rivera said he hoped to know which direction he was going by Friday.

There’s no standard template for back injuries, but Romo missed one game and played the following week with a similar problem earlier this year.

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Ravens sign Chris Greenwood

Captain Munnerlyn, Chris Greenwood AP

The Ravens keep losing cornerbacks to injury, which means the Ravens keep needing to bring in new cornerbacks to keep 11 men on the field on Sunday.

Asa Jackson was the latest corner to make the move to injured reserve, opening the door for Chris Greenwood to join the team. The Ravens announced Wednesday that they have signed Greenwood off the Vikings’ practice squad to bring their roster back to 53 players.

Greenwood was a fifth-round pick by the Lions in 2012 and played in three games for the team last year. He also spent time with the Cowboys in 2013 before landing in Minnesota this season.

Greenwood is the 13th cornerback to spend time on the Ravens’ active roster this season. Jackson, Jimmy Smith, Danny Gorrer, Aaron Ross and Tramain Jacobs are all on injured reserve.

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Revis not talking about next year

Revis AP

When cornerback Darrelle Revis signed a two-year deal with the Patriots, it became clear that the Patriots would either extend the contract or terminate it.  Currently, the second year of the deal calls for total compensation of $20 million and a cap number of $25 million.

So what will Revis do next year?  He’s not saying.

I don’t know what my future holds,” Revis said Wednesday, via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com.  “Right now, my focus is on this week.”

Could Revis reunite with coach Rex Ryan, who is expected to be fired by the Jets soon?

“I don’t know what my future holds, like I said,” Revis said.  “We’ll see.  The future will take care of itself.”

Fairly early in his tenure with the Pats, talk emerged of a potential extension.  Negotiations along those lines have not yet happened, and possibly won’t.  Revis hold the cards and has the leverage, thanks to a second year that works far better than a one-year contract, given that the franchise tag necessarily isn’t an option.  New England either has to keep him at $20 million for 2015 or cut him.

Ultimately, money will be an issue — what the Patriots will offer him versus what other teams (possibly the team coached by Ryan next year) would offer.

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49ers sign Phillip Tanner

Phillip Tanner AP

During the offseason, there was a lot of talk about how much depth the 49ers had at running back.

The season takes unexpected turns, however, and the erosion of that depth is one of the numerous negative ones that the 49ers’ season has taken this year. Marcus Lattimore retired without ever playing a down, Kendall Hunter tore his ACL, LaMichael James was cut and now Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde are both banged up heading into Week 15.

As a result, the team announced Wednesday that they have signed running back Phillip Tanner. Tanner spent time with the Bills this season when they were hurting for healthy backs, but never saw any game action. He ran 56 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns in 39 games for the Cowboys over the last two seasons.

Gore is recovering from a concussion while Hyde is battling back and ankle issues. Neither practiced on Tuesday as the 49ers began preparing to face the Chargers on Saturday.

The 49ers placed tight end Garrett Celek on injured reserve to open the spot for Tanner.

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Report: Police search Ray McDonald’s home

McDonald

As part of a rape investigation, San Jose police have served a search warrant at the home of 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, according to ABC 7.

Per the report, an adult female received treatment at a local hospital for a possible sexual assault that occurred on Tuesday.  The hospital contacted San Jose police.

The victim reportedly alleged that she was “possibly sexually assaulted.”  Based on the preliminary investigation, the alleged suspect is McDonald.

McDonald was investigated in August and September for domestic violence.  He was never charged with any crime.

Just as McDonald provided the first potential case under the then-new domestic violence and sexual assault policy, McDonald now becomes the first potential case under the new personal conduct policy.  If charged or if the league determines via an investigation that McDonald may have committed a violent crime, he’ll be suspended with pay.

With only two games left in the 2014 regular season, the team and the league soon will have the entire offseason to determine whether and to what extent McDonald should be placed on paid leave or otherwise disciplined.

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DeMarco Murray practices on Wednesday

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it was not “unrealistic” for running back DeMarco Murray to play against the Colts on Sunday despite having surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand on Monday.

Murray’s presence in the lineup didn’t get any less realistic on Wednesday. Murray was able to take part in individual drills and coach Jason Garrett said that the team hopes to keep ramping things up as Sunday draws closer.

“He has to get something out of each day,” Garrett said before practice Wednesday, via the team’s website. “Today we don’t anticipate him practicing much but he’s got to move around and get himself physically ready to play in this game. As we go, we’ll see how functional he is – how he can hold the ball, hold it under duress, catch the ball, block do all the things necessary to be ready to play. We’ll try to ease him into drills and practice as the week goes on.”

Murray’s presence was a welcome one for the Cowboys, but two of his blockers weren’t able to get on the field. Right tackle Doug Free and right guard Zack Martin both missed the day of work with ankle injuries, although Garrett said they avoided the dreaded high ankle sprain and are day-to-day heading into the weekend.

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Cam Newton practicing and looking mobile

Cam Newton AP

Eight days ago, Cam Newton was in a car wreck that left him with two broken bones in his back.

Today, he was running around with teammates and throwing 60-yard passes.

In video from Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Newton looked fairly comfortable while sprinting from drill to drill and throwing passes during individual drills.

It’s unclear what he did during the portion of practice closed to the media.

We’ll know more later this afternoon when coach Ron Rivera talks to reporters, but Newton looked like a guy they’re hoping to have available Sunday when they play the Browns.

If not, they’ll have to go back to Derek Anderson, in hopes he can keep their playoff chances alive against someone other than the Buccaneers.

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Jaguars leaning toward starting Blake Bortles

Blake Bortles AP

The Jaguars have been out of the playoff race since the first half of the season, leaving them with little to do this year than work toward building a better foundation for 2015 and beyond.

A big part of that is the development of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, who they selected third overall in May. It looks like that development will continue on Thursday night against the Titans.

A foot sprain created some doubt about Bortles’s ability to play and he’s listed as questionable for the game, but coach Gus Bradley said that the team is leaning toward starting Bortles.

“He’s really progressed,” Bradley said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “Tuesday to today, much better. We just need to see him move around better. He’s progressed much faster than anticipated. Another day, I think, will benefit him.”

Defensive tackle Roy Miller missed practice with a knee injury and is also listed as questionable. Defensive end Andre Branch and linebacker Khairi Fortt are both out.

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Patriots first-round pick Dominique Easley heads to IR

easley AP

Knee injuries caused Dominique Easley to drop in the draft, and now a knee injury has cut Easley’s rookie season short.

The Patriots are placing Easley on injured reserve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Easley tore both ACLs during his college career at Florida, and knee soreness has plagued him this season.

New England chose Easley with the 29th overall pick in this year’s draft. As a rookie he has played in 11 games with two starts, and recorded seven total tackles, one sack, one pass defensed and one interception.

The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Easley is a defensive lineman with a lot of talent. Now the Patriots will have to hope his knees don’t prevent him from ever fully realizing that talent.

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Trent Cole having hand surgery, out for Saturday

Carson Palmer, Trent Cole AP

Earlier this week, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray had surgery on a broken bone in his hand after suffering the injury in Sunday night’s game against the Eagles.

It turned out to be a popular sequence of events. Eagles linebacker Trent Cole also broke a bone in his hand in that game and coach Chip Kelly announced that Cole will have surgery on Wednesday. Cole had been deciding between different possible ways to deal with the injury, including possibly wrapping it and playing through any pain.

He ultimately went the other way, though, and Kelly said he will miss Saturday’s game as a result. That’s a deviation from Murray’s path as the Cowboys are holding open the possibility that their top rusher will play against the Colts in Week 16 and the Eagles haven’t said whether Cole will play against the Giants in the season finale.

Brandon Graham will step into Cole’s spot against Washington and he’ll be trying to boost his value to the Eagles with a good performance in an expanded role.

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Bucs add veteran defensive end Lawrence Sidbury

Lawrence Sidbury AP

The Buccaneers needed some defensive line depth coming down the stretch, so they shuffled the roster.

The team announced they signed journeyman defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, waiving cornerback Crezdon Butler to make room for him on the roster.

Sidbury, a former fourth-round pick of the Falcons, has spent time with the Colts and Texans.

The Bucs have promoted a raft of guys from the practice squad lately, but adding a vet like Sidbury helps them get through the next few games.

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Osi Umenyiora tells Jonathan Massaquoi to keep complaints private

Jonathan Massaquoi AP

During his years with the Giants, defensive end Osi Umenyiora could be counted on to provide two things consistently.

He rushed the passer well enough to help front a defense that won a pair of Super Bowls and he complained about playing time, starting status, contractual issues or anything else bugging him when it was time to meet with the media. What was good for him then isn’t something he wants from his teammates now that he’s with the Falcons, however.

Defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi complained about his playing time last week, something that the Falcons responded to by keeping him out of the lineup altogether against the Steelers last weekend. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said it was because Massaquoi hadn’t done enough in practice, but Umenyiora, who has seen his own playing time diminish this season, said that Massaquoi needs to learn that airing his grievances through the media won’t work out for him.

“He is very talented; there is no doubt about that,” Umenyiora said, via ESPN.com. “But in my experience, talking about it publicly will do him no good. The coach will do whatever they want to do at the end of the day.”

The big difference between Umenyiora and Massaquoi is production. Massaquoi has six sacks since entering the league in 2012 and Umenyiora had 22.5 in his first three years, which gives you a lot more leeway to be a squeaky wheel without doing any damage to your role on the defense.

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De’Anthony Thomas garners AFC special teams player of the week honors

De'Anthony Thomas AP

In a game his team desperately needed, Chiefs rookie punt returner De’Anthony Thomas gave Kansas City a lead it would not relinquish.

Thomas’ 81-yard first-quarter punt return touchdown Sunday helped spark the Chiefs’ 31-13 victory over Oakland and helped earn him AFC special teams player of the week honors from the NFL. The league announced the award on Wednesday.

On the score, Thomas caught the ball around the numbers nearest the Kansas City sideline. He made one cut, burst through an alley near the boundary and sprinted clear. Thomas was never touched en route to his first regular-season return touchdown, a testament to his speed and some outstanding blocking, with safety Daniel Sorensen and wide receiver Junior Hemingway among those doing their jobs very well. Thomas punctuated the score by flipping into the endzone, and oh, to be 21 years old and of world-class fitness.

With the win, the Chiefs (8-6) stayed within a game of the final wild-card spot in the AFC. They now face another must-win game at 9-5 Pittsburgh on Sunday.

And if the Steelers were very, very careful kicking to Thomas  . . . well, they couldn’t be blamed.

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PFT Live: Golden Tate, Cowboys talk with Clarence Hill, Coaching hot seat

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Lions and Cowboys are each trying to sew up playoff spots and division titles in the final two weeks of the season and we’ll be talking about both teams on Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live.

Lions wide receiver Golden Tate will join Mike Florio to discuss the team’s push for the postseason and what he thinks needs to happen in the next two weeks to ensure that the team plays at least 17 games this season. They’ll also talk about Tate’s overall feelings about his first season in Detroit and whether he’d like a shot at his former team come the postseason.

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram will also be a guest on the show. The status of running back DeMarco Murray after surgery on a broken bone in his left hand earlier this week will be a main topic of conversation during Hill’s visit to the program.

Florio will take his weekly look at the coaching hot seat as well, including how much heat Monday night’s loss added under Bears coach Marc Trestman.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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