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John Fox released from hospital

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Broncos coach John Fox has been released from the hospital in North Carolina where he’s spent most of the last week after having heart surgery.

Fox released a statement through the team thanking the doctors and nurses that have been caring for him since he fell ill last weekend as well as Broncos personnel and fans for their support. Fox said he is “feeling well and getting stronger” and he will do the next phase in his recovery in Charlotte until he is cleared to return to Denver.

“Although I’m eager to return to coaching, my No. 1 focus is my health. I believe in our players and have full confidence in Jack Del Rio and our staff,” Fox said in the statement. “While it’s extremely difficult to be away from the team on Sunday in San Diego, I’ll be cheering them on from home just like the many Broncos fans who have supported me throughout this process.”

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will serve as interim head coach until Fox is able to make his way back to work. The firmest timetable for when that might happen has been the team’s statement that Fox will miss “at least the next several weeks” while recuperating from his surgery.

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Ryan Pace: Report that John Fox was in the dark is “so false”

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On Friday afternoon, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that Bears G.M. Ryan Pace kept coach John Fox in the dark about the plan to get quarterback Mitchell Trubisky until only a few hours before the proceedings began. On Friday night, Pace disputed that notion.

“That stuff is so false,” Pace told reporters. “There’s consistency in everything we do, so we all work arm-in-arm and that’s the way it is and that’s the way it should be.”

Pace added that Fox was “100 percent” involved in the evaluation and planning regarding Trubisky.

“John is involved in every decision deeply,” Pace said. “The respect I have for John is enormous, especially his experience and all of the players that he’s been with. I think if you look back — and we talked about this — I think a lot of it was kept secret I thought we did a good job keeping this thing pretty under wraps, it’s so sensitive. But if you go back to the private workouts that we had, I mean John and I — it’s pretty hard to hide him — but we’re traveling to Chapel Hill and having dinners and workouts with Mitch, so he’s been deeply involved from the very beginning.”

It’s one thing to be involved in every decision, and it’s another to know exactly and precisely what the final decision will be. Is it possible that Fox was involved in the process of evaluating Trubisky but didn’t personally know what Pace would be doing until close in time to the start of the draft? If Pace didn’t make the final decision until then, then yes.

And here’s the value of keeping things secret. If word had gotten out that the Bears were planning to move from No. 3 to No. 2 to get Trubisky, the Browns may have launched a late effort to squeeze Chicago into coming all the way to No. 1 to get him. Moreover, the mere fact that the General Manager of the Bears was showing so much interest in Trubisky may have caused a late shift in Cleveland, with ownership suddenly getting behind the pro-Trubisky wing that seemed to be working all the angles to make him the pick over Garrett.

If, after all, the opinion of a homeless guy was enough to sway Jimmy Haslam to go with Johnny Manziel in 2014, the views of the gainfully employed (and fully housed) Ryan Pace would likely have a much greater impact.

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All but one undrafted player left the green room after Thursday night

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Remember when Geno Smith didn’t get picked in the first round of the 2013 draft, declared he wasn’t returning to the green room for the second night of the proceedings, but then did? That’s a dynamic that has become glossed over now that the draft has become a road show.

A total of 21 players showed up for round one. Five went undrafted. According to a league spokesperson, only one returned on Friday: Washington cornerback Kevin King.

The other four opted not to return. Those who left were Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell, and Alabama tackle Cam Robinson.

King had a short wait on Friday. He was the first pick of the second night, to the Packers. Two of the other guys who left, Robinson and McDowell, went second and third, to the Jaguars and Seahawks, respectively. Kizer was the 20th selection in round two to the Browns, and Awuzie went 28th in round two to the Cowboys.

It’s up to the players whether to go and whether to stay. And they can leave whenever they want. Unless and until the NFL pays them a fee to show up and to stick around, it’s entirely up to them whether to continue to be, as Joe Thomas described it, unpaid actors in a soap opera.

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Martavis Bryant: JuJu Smith-Schuster replaces Sammie Coates, not me

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The decision of the Pittsburgh Steelers to use a second-round pick on USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster sparked a reaction from the Steelers receiver who was most recently reinstated to the team on a conditional basis.

Said Bryant on Twitter, via USA Today: “lol that’s Sammie coates replacement not minds take it how you want to I am back.”

Coates responded by saying, “Hahahahahaha.”

Coach Mike Tomlin jumped in, “@-ing” both of them with this message: “Play nice boys.”

Both deleted their tweets, with Bryant also dumping one in which he said, “It’s a business so I treat it like that.”

That business will be getting more intense once Bryant, Coates, and Smith-Schuster get together at practice, along with the other receivers currently on the roster: Antonio Brown, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers, Justin Hunter, and more. The Steelers have a dozen of them and counting, so some eventually will be gone. And one or two of them may have recognizable names.

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Giants could see Davis Webb taking over for Eli Manning in 2-3 years

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Giants quarterback Eli Manning has three more years left on his contract, and the Giants can easily get out of the final year. Which is why they just drafted an heir apparent who could take over in two or three years.

Davis Webb, a quarterback from Cal, was the Giants’ pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft, and General Manager Jerry Reese said afterward that he sees Webb becoming a very good quarterback once he’s had some time to learn behind the 36-year-old Manning.

“We think [Webb] has a high ceiling and can come in and learn the pro game,” Reese said, adding, “Hopefully, he can sit behind Eli for two or three years.”

The Giants’ selection of Webb was a bit surprising, both that Webb lasted until the 87th overall pick and that it was the Giants who finally selected him. Most people thought Webb would go higher than that, with some projections putting Webb in the first round.

But Webb was passed over until the Giants finally decided that he was too good a value to pass up. As a rookie, Webb will likely be the third-string quarterback behind Manning and Geno Smith, but eventually he could become a starter.

“We’re hoping Eli plays a long time for us,” Reese said. “But we know he’s not going to play forever.”

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Steelers keep James Conner in Pittsburgh

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James Conner is leaving college football, but he’s not leaving the facility where he practiced or the stadium where he played.

The Steelers have made the former running back a third-round pick in the draft.

Conner’s story is well-documented; he survived cancer to return to football. Conner recently has said he was only 60 percent at the outset of the 2016 college season.

The Steelers currently have Le’Veon Bell at the top of the depth chart. He’s subject to the franchise tag, and could be gone after 2017. Conner, if he develops, could become an intriguing contributor in 2018.

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Cowboys add Jourdan Lewis, who faces a July jury trial

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The Cowboys have rolled the dice on a player who is facing domestic violence charges.

Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis has been drafted in round three, despite a July 10 trial date on misdemeanor charges. That fact that it’s a misdemeanor means he wouldn’t face significant jail time.

Lewis allegedly “dragged [the victim] across the living room floor and then grabbed her by the neck and held her down on the floor for about three seconds.” He has pleaded not guilty.

Lewis faces no discipline from the league, given that the incident happened before the draft. However, the incident would be considered as potential aggravating circumstances if Lewis has any violations of the Personal Conduct Policy while in the NFL.

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Giants add Davis Webb

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Amid a buzz that former Cal quarterback Davis Webb could have crashed round one, he lasted until round three. And he ended up on the depth chart in New York.

The Giants have made Webb the 87th pick in the draft.

He becomes the potential replacement to Eli Manning, whenever Eli Manning will decide to retire. (Or when the Giants will decide to retire him.)

Webb arrives from Cal. He transferred to Berkeley after losing the starting job at Texas Tech to Patrick Mahomes. Before that, Webb beat out Baker Mayfield, resulting in Mayfield transferring to Oklahaom.

Webb aspires to be a coach. For now, he’ll be a player with the Giants — and he potentially could become the starter there, in time.

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Ravens take a flier on risky pass-rusher Tim Williams

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Father Ozzie’s Home for Wayward Boys has taken in another one, and doubled up with another former Alabama player.

With the 78th pick, the Ravens took linebacker Tim Williams, who has both the pedigree and checkered past that the Ravens have some background with.

Williams is one of the most talented pass-rush prospects in the draft, with nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss last year.

But he comes with concerns, specifically his admission of multiple failed drug tests in college. Coupled with a misdemeanor gun charge, it was enough to scare some people off, at least at this point in the proceedings.

Williams was also used almost exclusively as a pass-rusher, but Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome obviously felt like the middle of the third round was an acceptable time to take a chance on someone from his old school who could be an impact player on passing downs.

Williams is the second Alabama player to join the Ravens this week, along with first-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

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Eagles “really confident” Sidney Jones will be same player after Achilles tear

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Cornerback Sidney Jones became a new member of the Eagles in the second round of the draft on Friday night, but it’s still unknown when Jones will be able to get on the field for the team.

Jones tore his Achilles in his pro day workout and will be on a rehab schedule for several more months at least. A recent report from his doctors indicated a return during the season is in the cards, but Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said Friday night that the team didn’t know when Jones will be ready to play.

He did say that the team believes Jones will be the same player he was before the injury when he is ready to go.

“Our doctors and training staff not only looked at corners, but we reached out to teams in other sports,” Roseman said, via CSNPhilly.com. “That gave us a lot of confidence here. There’s no insurance for this, but we feel really confident that with our medical team when he gets here he’s going to be able to be the exact same player he was before the injury. … There’ll be no rushing back from this. We’ll do whatever’s in the best interest of getting Sidney Jones 100 percent. Whatever the timetable is. We’ll defer to the doctors. That will not be our decision.”

The Eagles would obviously like to see Jones help them in 2017, but picking him here means they’re comfortable with trading a year of playing time for a better player once he’s back on the field. That says a lot about how highly they regarded Jones before the injury and how much that full return would mean to the team.

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Rams add Cooper Kupp

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The Rams are adding weapons for Jared Goff and Sean McVay.

After taking a tight end in round two, the Rams have added a receiver in the third round, nabbing Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp.

Primarily a slot receiver, Kupp’s arrival creates an intriguing situation as it relates to Tavon Austin, the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft who received a second contract last year but who has still not really become what they hoped he’d be.

Kupp could transition to the outside at the next level, with Austin on the inside. However it plays out, the Rams are adding pass catchers and playmakers as they prepare to go head to head with the Chargers in Los Angeles.

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Saints continue to add to backfield with Alvin Kamara

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The Saints already had a 1,000-yard back, and then they went and signed a former MVP and future Hall-of-Famer.

So naturally, they drafted another running back.

The Saints traded up to the 67th overall pick in the third round to take Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

He didn’t get regular work in college, but he was a big-play threat, averaging 6.5 yards per carry last year. He’s also a solid pass-catcher, and gives them a different element than either Mark Ingram or Adrian Peterson.

The Saints like using multiple backs, and they’ve now reloaded significantly.

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Marvin Lewis: We felt we could move forward with Joe Mixon

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The Bengals brought one of the bigger storylines of the second round of the NFL draft to an end when they drafted Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon with the 48th overall pick.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis acknowledged that the 2014 video of Mixon punching a woman is repellant — “I don’t know who isn’t disgusted at what they saw,” Lewis said at a press conference Friday night.” — but said that the team’s research into Mixon during the pre-draft process and the settlement he came to with the woman left them feeling comfortable about bringing him to Cincinnati.

“We’ve done such a lot of work regarding Joe Mixon, throughout the entire process this year and based on all the time, all the research, we felt that we can continue to move forward,” Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Joe’s situation kind of came to a settlement in all ways this week, which also led us to feel better about the opportunity here to move forward. We have done all our due diligence we could do, time spent, interviewing people, everybody around him, everybody around his background, people that have coached at Oklahoma with insight regarding him and how he has carried himself since that day.”

Mixon will be scrutinized on and off the field in Cincinnati, something that he and the team should already be well aware of and something they’ll likely continue to deal with for some time given how big of a story Mixon’s assault became in the last few months.

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JuJu Smith-Schuster is a Steeler

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It’s time for virtual JuJu Smith-Schuster to change teams again.

The former USC receiver, an emotional and competitive player who will instantly fit with the mindset of Pittsburgh, has become the newest member of the Steelers.

He arrives via the 62nd pick, near the bottom of round two. And he could instantly boost a depth chart that consistently features plenty of impact players, especially with the conditional reinstatement of Martavis Bryant.

During a recent visit to PFT Live, Smith-Schuster said the Rams and Cowboys showed the most pre-draft interest in him. After creating a player based on himself in Madden, he joined the Bills before obtaining a release and signing with the Raiders.

The real Smith-Schuster is now a Steeler, and once upon a time the Steelers found a receiver from USC who did great things for the team, in Super Bowl X and elsewhere.

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Cowboys take CB Chidobe Awuzie in round two

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The Cowboys continue to address the exodus that damaged the defense in free agency.

After taking pass rusher Taco Charlton in round one, the Cowboys replaced Brandon Carr and/or Morris Claiborne by selecting Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie in round two.

The Cowboys will need Awuzie to compete for playing time right away, along with pretty much every other defensive player they pick.

Nearly all of the pre-draft visits conducted by the Cowboys were defensive players. Look for more of the same over the rest of the draft.

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Mixon pick creates crowded backfield in Cincinnati

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Setting aside the biggest issues arising from the Bengals’ decision to draft running back Joe Mixon, the team has now added a third second-round tailback to the depth chart.

Gio Bernard arrived via the second round in 2013. The following year, the Bengals used a second-round pick on Jeremy Hill. With Mixon now on the team, who gets the short straw?

Bernard, who tore an ACL late last season, already has received a $1 million roster bonus for 2017. He has a cap charge of more than $3.6 million this year.

Hill enters the final year of his rookie contract. He has averaged fewer than four yards per carry in each of the two years since his rookie season that featured 5.1 yards per attempt. He could be vulnerable to a trade or, possibly, an outright release. Either move would entail a cap charge of only $262,000.

It makes more sense for Mixon to supplant Hill, given their comparable styles. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine the Bengals keeping all three guys in 2017.

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