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Incognito files grievance against Dolphins

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Eleven days ago, the Dolphins suspended guard Richie Incognito.  On Thursday, he officially launched an attack against the suspension.

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Incognito has filed a non-injury grievance under the CBA.  The grievance will be heard by an independent arbitrator.

Over the weekend, we reported that the suspension is indefinite, but that the Dolphins can keep him away for a maximum of four games.  As of Monday, December 2, they have to reinstate him or cut him.

Per Mort, Incognito wants an expedited hearing.  This could reduced his absence, forcing the Dolphins to bring him back or cut him sooner than December 2.

He already has missed one game.  If the arbitrator finds that no suspension was warranted, Incognito would be eligible to receive his game check for the Week 10 contest at Tampa, and for any other games he misses before he is reinstated.

The Dolphins immediately suspended Incognito after receiving evidence from tackle Jonathan Martin regarding alleged harassment, including a voice message in which Incognito uses a racial slur.

“I was appalled, I think anybody would be appalled,” owner Stephen Ross said earlier this week.  “When you first read that text that was reported, to me I didn’t realize people would talk, text or speak that way to people.”

Whether that warrants a four-game suspension — or any suspension — will be determined by an arbitrator.  Either way, it remains unlikely that Incognito will play for the Dolphins again.

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PFT Live: Frank Wycheck, Broncos talk with Mike Klis

Marcus Mariota AP

We’re kicking off the week of PFT Live with a guest host, but you’ll still get your dose of Mike Florio.

Paul Burmeister will be sitting in for Florio as host, which frees PFT’s founder to join the show as a guest early in the program. They’ll talk about the latest news from around the league before moving on to more specific looks at several teams.

Former Titans tight end and current radio analyst Frank Wycheck will fill us in on the team’s attempt to finish up Marcus Mariota’s contract and Mike Klis of NBC 9 in Denver will bring updates on the Broncos as we close in on the deadline to sign wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to a long-term contract. Rich Tandler of CSN Washington and Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press Gazette will also be on hand during the show.

We also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.

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Tug of war could be emerging for Vikings headquarters

Helmets Getty Images

Next year, the Vikings will have a new stadium next to the site of their old one. The next project could be a new team headquarters. For that, the Vikings could be moving to a new city.

For 34 years, the facility known as Winter Park (named for team co-founder Max Winter, not because it’s always Winter in Minnesota) has kept the Vikings in Eden Prairie. Via the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Vikings could move to a new building in Chanhassen. And that has folks in Eden Prairie concerned.

“The recognition of Winter Park, headquartered in Eden Prairie . . . it’s a good way for people to know where Eden Prairie is,” Pat MulQueeny, president of the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce, told the Star Tribune. “If the Vikings were to leave, it’s a loss. Definitely we’d like to keep them here.”

Chanhassen wants to grab the Vikings for the same reason — to increase awareness of a town few beyond the borders of Minnesota know exists.

That gives the Vikings leverage, allowing the team to play one town against the other in order to get the best deal. At a time when that approach no longer is working for other teams trying to get public stadium financing, the last team to finagle major taxpayer dollars for a new place to play could end up squeezing major concessions for their new place to practice.

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Geno Smith: Brandon Marshall is “a quarterback’s best friend”

Geno Smith, Brandon Marshall AP

Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall recently left Jay Cutler, who threw Marshall passes in Denver and Chicago, off a list of his favorite teammates from his various stops around the NFL over the years.

Geno Smith didn’t make that list either, which isn’t much of a surprise since the two men haven’t played a game together since the trade that brought Marshall to Jersey. Smith doesn’t feel the need to wait until September to talk about how much it means for him to play with Marshall, however.

“He’s a quarterback’s best friend … For one, he’s a veteran guy,” Smith said, via the team’s website. “He understands the game on and off the field. He’s a beast of a player. You can’t say enough good things about him.”

The arrivals of Marshall, Stevan Ridley and Devin Smith give the Jets the deepest cast of characters at skill positions they’ve had since taking Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 draft. That’s part of the reason why Ron Jaworski and others think the needle is pointing up for Smith heading into the 2015 season, although that optimism is tempered by those who think the problems of his first two seasons have had more to do with Smith than with the players next to him on offense.

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Manti Te’o thinks he’s becoming a playmaker under Mike Nolan

Manti Te'o AP

After entering the NFL following a high-profile college career (and an even higher-profile story surrounding his personal life), Manti Te’o has been relatively quite in his two years with the Chargers. A part-time starter, Te’o hasn’t been a bust of a second-round pick, but he hasn’t been an impact player, either.

This year, Te’o thinks that’s going to change. With new linebackers coach Mike Nolan in San Diego, Te’o says he feels like he can be a playmaker more like he was at Notre Dame, where he was widely regarded as the best linebacker in college football.

“Coach Nolan brings an old-school feel to not only our position, but to the defense as a whole,” Te’o said, via ESPN. “He’s all about making plays. He’s all about doing whatever it takes to put each piece in a position to make a play. It’s definitely a good thing to have him here.”

The Chargers’ defense struggled through a rough 2014 season, but Te’o believes they’re ready for a course correction this year.

“We all can do a better job, especially up front,” Te’o said. “Just being more stout, knowing where everybody’s going to be and just having that mindset that we’re going to make a play. Definitely each one of us can do better at that.”

Te’o looked better in college than he has looked so far in his NFL career. Nolan might be the coach who can get the most out of Te’o’s talent.

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Unnamed exec “still confused about” Eagles trading for Sam Bradford

Chip Kelly, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow AP

When training camps open in a little under a month, one of the most-watched storylines will be the progress of Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, coming off a pair of torn ACLs.

But some are wondering whether too much has been made of his arrival by trade already.

Via Mark Eckel of, “one of the league’s top executives in personnel” was skeptical of the impact Bradford will actually have.

“I understand they gave up on Foles,” he said. “But I don’t know why they’re building up Bradford so much. I’m still confused about that whole deal. You can only talk about him being the first pick of the draft for so long. What has he done since then?

“If Bradford had gone anywhere else you wouldn’t even be talking about him. He’s been hurt the past two years and even when he was healthy, he was just average. But he’s with Chip Kelly, so there’s hope I guess. Chip Kelly is the one guy who can make Bradford a success.”

That might be because of Kelly’s magic milkshakes, which may have helped make his team the healthiest in the league over the last two years. But Bradford has played in just 49 of 80 possible games in his five seasons, so unless there’s something in the smoothies to keep him ACLs intact, it will be hard for Kelly to transform him.

Bradford has been a good quarterback at times, but he was stuck on some bad teams as well. If Kelly can polish him up, his reputation will only grow.

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Von Miller on contract: Do good things and it takes care of self

Josh Watson, Von Miller AP

The Broncos have nine more days left to hammer out a long-term deal with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas before the deadline to sign such contracts with players who received the franchise tag.

However things wind up playing out with Thomas, the process could serve as a practice run for next offseason. That’s when linebacker Von Miller will be eligible to become a free agent and the Broncos will have to make the same kinds of calculations that they’ve made with Thomas in order to hold onto the second overall pick of the 2011 draft.

If Thomas signs a multi-year deal, Miller can get the franchise tag but no new deal for Thomas would leave the Broncos with two key free agents and one tag after the 2015 season. For now, Miller’s not sweating those scenarios.

“But I just want to play the best I can,” Miller said, via “Everything takes care of itself if we do good things and I play like I want to for this team … I think guys here worry about winning. The time for all that other stuff is after the season.”

Miller has plenty of company on defense when it comes to playing out the final year of a contract. Defensive linemen Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe, linebackers Danny Trevathan and Stephen Johnson and safety David Bruton are also headed toward free agency in what will likely be another busy offseason in Denver.

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Still no interest in Ray Rice

Ray Rice AP

Three years ago this month, running back Ray Rice signed a contract with the Ravens that paid him $24 million over the first eight months. In the eight months since Rice’s indefinite suspension was overturned, Rice hasn’t gotten a single sniff from any of the NFL’s 32 teams.

Plenty of people have said Rice deserves a second chance, but no one has given him one. The stigma arising from his brutal assault on then-fiancée (now wife) Janay Palmer lingers, and Rice lacks the talent to overcome it. His age (28) works against him, as does the fact that Rice’s play dropped dramatically in his most recent full season of action, with 660 yards rushing and an average of 3.1 yards per carry — the lowest of his career by 0.9.

Many think if Rice’s name were Adrian Peterson, he’d still be playing. But it would be hard even for Peterson to overcome the video evidence that emerged only four days before Rice’s two-game suspension was due to end. Even though anyone with any degree of common sense and/or basic human empathy knew what a man knocking out a woman looked like without having to see it, seeing it changed everything for Rice.

With the offseason program over and training camp looming, the only question remaining is whether Rice’s name shows up on any team’s list of players to call if/when injuries happen to running back already on the roster. Even if he’s a candidate to be contacted, the ultimately challenge will be to get the owner to sign off on signing Rice.

So far, no one has. It would be naive not to at least wonder whether the league office has put out the word to shy away from Rice, given the controversy his conduct sparked — and the consequences it nearly caused. Still, the league always consists of a team or two that is inclined to stick it to 345 Park Avenue; the bigger question is whether the rush that would come from defiance would outweigh the ruckus that Rice’s arrival could cause for the team that gives him a job.

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As Mariota, Titans haggle over offsets, history says it’s a non-issue

Marcus Mariota AP

The Titans and first-round draft pick Marcus Mariota haven’t come to terms because they haven’t agreed on whether his rookie contract will include offset language. Which is an odd issue to become a stumbling block, because history says it will almost certainly be a non-issue.

Offsets only come into play if a player gets cut by the team that drafts him and then signs on with a new team. Although first-round picks’ contracts are guaranteed, if there are offsets in his contract, the team that drafted the player can deduct whatever he makes with his new team from the money the team that drafted him has to pay. In other words, if Mariota’s rookie contract calls for him to make a base salary of $615,000 in 2017, he’s guaranteed to get paid that money even if the Titans cut him after the 2016 season. But if some other team signs Mariota and pays him $615,000 in 2017, the Titans don’t have to pay it to him. If there are no offsets in the contract, Mariota can “double dip” and collect $615,000 from both the Titans and his new team.

Here’s why it doesn’t matter: Mariota would have to be so bad that the Titans cut him in the next four years, but not so bad that some other team wouldn’t sign him. and that almost never happens. In the 21st Century, only one quarterback has been drafted in the first round, cut in his first four years, and then signed with another team. That quarterback was Brandon Weeden, who lasted two years in Cleveland and then signed in Dallas after the Browns cut him.

Other first-round quarterbacks have been cut in the first four years but not signed anywhere else (JaMarcus Russell), or been traded away by the teams that drafted them (Blaine Gabbert, Tim Tebow). But only Weeden has been cut and then signed elsewhere, which means Weeden is the only first-round quarterback for whom offsets have been an issue.

The Browns did convince Weeden to agree to offsets in his rookie contract, which meant they were allowed to deduct the league-minimum salary he earned from the Cowboys last year from the amount Cleveland still owed him on his rookie deal. The Titans want Mariota to agree to offsets so that if they cut him and he’s playing for some other team in 2017, they can also deduct his salary with his new team from the amount he gets paid by Tennessee.

But if Mariota is as bad for the Titans as Weeden was for the Browns, the Titans will have bigger problems than saving a few hundred thousand dollars.

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Bengals quietly shifting Onterio McCalebb from corner to receiver

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In college at Auburn, Onterio McCalebb played running back, becoming one of only two players in SEC history with more than 2,000 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving, and 1,000 yard returning kickoffs.

And he wasn’t drafted.

The Bengals signed him, with an eye toward making the 4.34-in-the-40 speedster into a cornerback. While he’s still listed as a cornerback after spending most of the last two years on the practice squad (he has appeared in one career regular-season game), McCalebb is getting a new opportunity in Cincinnati.

During last month’s mandatory minicamp, the Bengals switched McCalebb from cornerback to receiver. And that’s apparently where he will be when training camp opens.

“The transition to corner maybe was not as smooth as we had hoped,” Bengals receivers coach James Urban told, via Mark Inabinett of “But he’s a great kid who can run, and it’s obvious he’s natural with the ball in his hands since he’s played offense his whole life. Let’s see what he does at training camp when everybody is starting from square one.”

McCalebb is far from square one in his NFL career. Eventually, he’ll run out of practice-squad eligibility, which means that, at some point, it’s up or out for McCalebb.

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Khiry Robinson “all good” with role in crowded Saints backfield

Khiry Robinson AP

With Pierre Thomas on his way out and Mark Ingram headed for free agency, Saints running back Khiry Robinson may have had moments early this offseason when he saw himself playing a prominent role in the Saints backfield in 2015.

He’d performed well when given opportunities late in 2013 and early in 2014, although an arm injury last year kept him from building on that early success. Assuming he was healthy, it looked like Robinson would get that chance this year.

Ingram re-signed, however, and the Saints added C.J. Spiller as a free agent after parting ways with Thomas, which presents a different scenario for the third-year running back. Robinson isn’t complaining about how things played out, however. He says he’s “all good” with the current pecking order in New Orleans.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said, via “I just gotta keep working. It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”

Robinson may be third on the depth chart, but that doesn’t rule him out of the mix for playing time. The Saints have played three or more backs throughout Sean Payton’s tenure as head coach and all the talk this offseason in New Orleans has been about maximizing the output of all the team’s skill position players along with a renewed focus on running the ball. That philosophy and Robinson’s attitude about the situation should bode well for the back once the team starts getting serious about divvying up playing time later this summer.

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Golden Tate taking better care of his body

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Lions receiver Golden Tate has finally beaten his donut habit.

After a career season in 2014, Tate (whose rookie season in Seattle included the alleged theft of Top Pot donuts) has focused on taking better care of his body.

I’ve been doing some yoga, trying to work on my flexibility,” Tate said recently, via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. “Eating healthier than I ever have and just really trying to build my endurance up, trying to build my body as much as I can because, as you know, the season will break it down.”

The yoga has a specific purpose for the player who’ll soon by 27.

“I’m just trying to loosen up my [hamstrings] and my hips, my groin, just so I can get a longer stride,” Tate said. “Just trying to set myself up to get better this year. The older I get, the more people want to say, ‘He’s losing a step.’ In my case, I want, ‘The older I get, the better he’s getting.'”

He was better than ever in 2014, with 99 catches, 1,331 yards, and his first-ever trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

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Monday morning one-liners

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Getty Images

TE MarQueis Gray has found a home with the Bills.

CB Zack Bowman looks like he’s on the roster bubble heading into camp.

What can the Patriots learn from their last Super Bowl repeat?

The Jets are taking a look at Dakota Dozier at center.

Breaking down the competition for playing time at defensive tackle with the Ravens.

Looking back at the last five Bengals drafts.

Comparing the Browns secondary with the rest of the units in the league.

What might a Super Bowl hosted by the Steelers look like?

Texans P Shane Lechler is filling his down time by doing some fishing.

Are there more roster moves coming before the Colts start camp?

The Jaguars have made a smooth transition on offense this offseason.

Vegas doesn’t have much love for the Titans.

How many yards will Broncos RB C.J. Anderson get this season?

Longtime Chiefs executive Jack Steadman died at 86.

Remembering the Raiders’ role in the “Golden Age” of Bay Area sports.

Everything you need to know about Chargers DL Corey Liuget.

Assessing the fallout from LB Rolando McClain’s suspension for the Cowboys.

Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News scolds Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul for injuring himself while setting off fireworks.

T Isaiah Battle could be a fit for the Eagles in the supplemental draft.

Taking a look at RB Alfred Morris’s future with the Redskins.

Forecasting WR Kevin White’s role in the Bears Offense as a rookie.

Will WR Ryan Broyles win the slot receiver job with the Lions?

Donny Anderson and Jim Grabowski remain connected to the Packers long after their playing days.

A lot of people are waiting to see if the Vikings move their headquarters.

Falcons CB Desmond Trufant threw out the first pitch at a recent Braves game.

A look at why Panthers LB Luke Kuechly ranks at No. 14 in NFL Network’s list of the top players in the game.

Saints players were among those cheering on the U.S. soccer team on Sunday night.

The Buccaneers find comparisons from the past for their current players.

Three suggested additions to the Cardinals Ring of Honor.

Rams rookie QB Sean Mannion is adjusting to life in the NFL.

Some things the 49ers won’t miss about former coach Jim Harbaugh.

What will DE Cliff Avril’s role be for the Seahawks?

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Tony Romo on Dez Bryant talks: “I think it will work out with Dez”

Dez Bryant, Tony Romo AP

Maybe it’s just because he’s on vacation and back home in Wisconsin, but Tony Romo doesn’t seem worried.

Asked at his football camp back home about the Cowboys’ ongoing negotiations with wide receiver Dez Bryant, Romo expressed confidence a deal would get done.

“The NFL is a business, it really is, ” Romo said, via Mike Ramczyk of You’ll see that side sometimes, with DeMarco [Murray] leaving and Dez not being part of the offseason.

I think it will work out with Dez.”

Asked about the way the business side of the game affects the locker room, Romo took an equally que sera, sera approach.

“Once you play in the NFL, you recognize there’s turnover,” he said. “One of the big flaws for a football team will be if you have a little bit of success, you think you’re just going to pick up where you left off. You have to start over every year. Your team will be different each year.

“You’re not worried about much more than improvement on an individual basis. Collectively, you don’t worry about people that aren’t there. Over time, everyone will get better if you take that certain approach.”

If Bryant had stayed away in a huff all offseason, it would be easy enough to stretch that comment into a dig at the star wideout. But because Bryant’s been hanging around, joking with Romo on the sidelines during minicamp, it’s easy to see where the quarterback’s confidence comes from.

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Jason Pierre-Paul has burns, but his fingers remain intact

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Getty Images

When the initial reports of Jason Pierre-Paul’s fireworks injury came out, there were few details beyond the term “severely injured.”

But while he has plenty of doctors visits in his future, it appears he may have escaped the worst of the damage.

According to  Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, some of the flesh on the Giants defensive ends’ hand was burned off his palm and fingers, but his fingers are intact. (Sorry if you were eating breakfast while reading this.)

While there was some speculation on the internet that he might have lost fingers or part of his hand, a Giants source told the Post those were “overblown.” We can only imagine what that same source said when Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last night that the injury wasn’t career-threatening, and colleague Chris Mortensen followed that up by saying it “may not be game or season threatening either.”

Of course, massive burns, the kind that would result from an explosive device going off in one’s hand, are obviously still a serious issue. And that will likely have the Giants reviewing all their options with Pierre-Paul, who had yet to sign his $14.8 million franchise tender.

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Chris Borland says money was never a factor in retirement call

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Former 49ers linebacker Chris Borland has been widely supported for his decision to walk away from the NFL after a year because of long-term health concerns.

But when he talks to people, he hears a common refrain, wondering how he could step away from NFL paychecks.

“That has been the biggest surprise for me,” Borland said, via Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “People can’t get over the money.

“That’s all they think about. But your health is a little more important.”

Borland volunteered to hand back three-fourths of his signing bonus, or $463,077 from the $2.3 million deal he signed.

“I think people were surprised,” he said. “But I signed a contract. I was living by the contract.”

Borland suffered a concussion during his rookie training camp with the 49ers but didn’t report it, but as time went on, that began to weigh on him.

“Just a combination of my own experience, along with a lot of data that is out there regarding long-term health effects of head injuries,” he said of leaving. “And I play a position and a style of play where I was susceptible to the worst of it.

“I played a physical brand of football and played through some things where it makes sense for me.”

Borland said he’s still exploring “a few pretty decent options,” but wasn’t in a hurry to begin his next career. As with other calls, he seems willing to wait to make the right one at the right time.

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