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Marcus Lattimore to begin practicing next week

Marcus Lattimore AP

The 49ers, with a wealth of draft picks, were able to use one on former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore knowing he might not help them this year.

And while returning to a game after his horrific college knee injury is still a long shot, he’s at least getting on the practice field.

According to Matt Maiocco of, Lattimore will begin practicing next week. He was placed on the non-football injury list at the beginning of the year, and the 49ers didn’t expect anything from him this season.

If nothing else, some football-like action serves as a carrot for his rehab, giving him a target to shoot for. The 49ers already had more backs than they could keep happy with the action they’re getting, so it’s not as if he’s a need.

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Robert Mathis not cleared for camp

Mathis Getty Images

The big news on the Monday after the start of the 2015 regular season would have been the torn Achilles suffered by Colts linebacker Robert Mathis while working out on his own during a four-game PED suspension, but for the whole Ray Rice video thing.

Nearly a year later, Mathis still isn’t ready to return to practice. And it’s still not clear when he will be.

“The good news is Robert is trending in the right direction,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said Monday, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “We’re all very excited and pleased with the progress that he’s making. The timetable is unknown. Will it be October 15? Will it be September 15? . . . At this point, no one knows.”

Mathis has vowed to be back for Week One.

“We just want to make sure that he’s ready-ready when it’s time to go,” Irsay said. “He can come in, have a couple of years with us at this point in his career, and be the difference-maker he was.”

Two years ago, he was a difference maker indeed, with 19.5 sacks. At 34, he still may have some gas in the tank.

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Four more days for Seahawks, Wilson talks

Wilson Getty Images

More than a week ago, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson will pull the plug on contract negotiations if a deal isn’t done before training camp opens. On Monday, John Clayton and Jim Trotter of ESPN reported the same thing, with different words.

The real news (sort of) comes from the notion that the Seahawks are willing to pay Wilson a contract “worth slightly less” than the contract given earlier this year to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who averages $21.85 million in new money. Over the weekend, both Rapoport and PFT reported that the Seahawks’ current offer is in the range of $21 million per year.

The sticking point, as Rapoport reported, arises from the signing bonus and guaranteed money. Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, has represented baseball players exclusively in recent years, and their contracts are always fully guaranteed. The NFL has resisted bringing that trend to pro football, hiding behind the rule that requires future guarantees to be fully funded at signing. (Seahawks owner Paul Allen, the richest owner in the NFL, can afford to do that.)

Although the deadline is artificial, if the two sides regard it as real, there’s a good chance a deal will be done. A separate item from Clayton adds more beef to the notion that Wilson should consider taking the best offer the team makes now, since he’d replace his $1.5 million salary for 2015 with a much higher compensation package — driving up dramatically the new-money average.

If, for example, Wilson signs a four-year, $100 million deal in 2016 (a $25 million annual average), he will have made $101.5 million over five years, an average of only (only?) $20.3 million.

Clayton also points out that, in order to make what the Seahawks are willing to give Wilson now, he’d need a deal worth $26 million per year next year.

It’s all the more reason for Rodgers to keep squeezing the Seahawks as much as he can, ultimately taking the best offer, whatever it may be. But if Rodgers and Wilson eventually reject the best offer the Seahawks are willing to make now, the message will be that Rodgers and Wilson are looking for a lot more later.

They’ll need it, because they’ll have to make up for nearly $20 million that Wilson will have lost by not doing a deal in 2015.

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Cardinals hire league’s first female assistant, also Levon Kirkland

female-player-1 AP

The NFL is adding its first full-time female official this season, and one team is breaking another barrier during training camp.

Via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, the Cardinals are hiring Jen Welter for a coaching position through training camp and the preseason, making her what is believed to be (and almost certainly) the first female to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL.

They’re also hiring former Steelers linebacker Levon Kirkland as the inaugural participant in the Bill Bidwill Coaching Fellowship, and that’s great.

But the news here is a female coach, at a time when Sarah Thomas is about to go to work for the league in stripes, and when Becky Hammon just coached the NBA San Antonio Spurs’ summer league team after spending last year as an assistant coach on Gregg Popovich’s staff.

“I wanted to open that door,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “Coaching is nothing more than teaching. The one thing I’ve learned from players: all they want to know is ‘How you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t [care] if you’re the Green Hornet. I’ll listen.’

“I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity through this internship to open some doors.”

Arians said after checking with several veteran players, ‘they were all cool” and added: “It’s not going to be a distraction in any way.”

Welter will work with the inside linebackers, and she’ll bring a unique background. In 2014, she played running back and special teams for the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution, becoming the first female to play a non-kicking position in a men’s pro football league. This spring, she was hired to coach linebackers and special teams.

She played rugby at Boston College, and has played women’s football at several levels. The 37-year-old also holds a master’s degree in sport psychology and a PhD in psychology.

Kirkland’s position is a two-year gig as part of the fellowship, and reunites him with a number of former Steelers with the Cardinals. On its own, it’s a significant piece of news, and furthers Bidwill’s commitment to creating minority opportunities in the NFL.

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Rams sign Isaiah Battle

Battle Getty Images

When the Colts signed a pair of third-round picks on Friday, all 2015 draft picks were under contract. On Monday, the entire 2015 supplemental draft class agreed to terms.

It was a class of one.

The Rams have announced that Clemson tackle Isaiah Battle is under contract, 18 days after being taken in the fifth-round of the supplemental selection process.

The Rams gave up their corresponding pick for 2016 to get Battle, and they undoubtedly gave Battle a slotted contract based on the contract given to the player taken in the same spot during the regular 2015 draft.

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Lawyer: HOF told Seau family that Sydney could speak

No.55 jersey seen on display at Qualcomm Stadium as part of "Celebration of Life" memorial, held in memory of Seau in San Dieg Reuters

The Seau family members are OK with the Hall of Fame’s policy on posthumously-inducted players. Unless they aren’t.

Seau family lawyer Steve Strauss has issued a statement to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal in which Strauss says Seau’s family still objects to the decision to prevent Seau’s daughter from speaking at the upcoming induction ceremony.

“The Seau family appreciates the overwhelming support for Sydney Seau to be able to accept Junior’s induction into the Hall of Fame live and in her own words,” Strauss said. “Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame is unwilling to reverse its decision despite communicating to the family earlier this year that Sydney would be able to speak at the ceremony. Contrary to the most recent statement by the Hall of Fame, the family does not support the current policy that prevents family members from delivering live remarks on behalf of deceased inductees. However, the Seau family does not want this issue to become a distraction to Junior’s accomplishments and legacy or those of the other inductees. The Seau family never intended to use the Hall of Fame as a platform to discuss the serious mental health issues facing the NFL today which are most appropriately addressed in a legal forum. The Seau family looks forward to celebrating Junior’s extraordinary accomplishments at the Hall of Fame.”

Although the end result is still the same — the Seau family is accepting the policy — the suggestion from Strauss that the Hall of Fame previously told the Seau family that his daughter, Sydney, would be able to speak is news. And it conflicts directly with the five-year-old policy that the Hall of Fame adopted in 2010.

It’s no surprise that Strauss released the statement. Eventually, he may be trying to persuade a jury as to the merits of Seau’s wrongful-death case. Everyone in the jurisdiction where the case would be tried is a potential juror, and if they feel better about the Seau family and/or worse about the NFL now, that could come in handy later.

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Irsay: I have not talked to Goodell about Deflategate since January

Colts owner Jim Irsay says he isn’t trying to get NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to deny Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s appeal of his Deflategate suspension.

Shortly after Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti denied lobbying Goodell to uphold Brady’s four-game suspension, Irsay offered a similar denial.

“That’s not true at all,” Irsay told the Indianapolis Star. “I haven’t talked to Roger Goodell about DeflateGate since late January. Not true. That’s not the way things work involving someone else’s business and someone else’s team. It’s not something I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been around ownership [in the NFL] for half a century.”

Despite the denials from Irsay and Bisciotti, Goodell finds himself in a difficult position. If he upholds Brady’s suspension, he’s putting a black mark on the legacy of one of the league’s best and most popular players, while risking a lawsuit from Brady. But if he sets the suspension aside, there’s little doubt that other teams — particularly other AFC playoff contenders like the Ravens and Colts — will be upset.

No matter how Goodell rules, he’s going to have people angry at him. Maybe that’s why it’s taking him so long to make up his mind.

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CFL teams are converting two-point attempts at a high rate

kick Getty Images

The upcoming NFL season has a wild-card in the form of a new rule pushing the one-point post-touchdown try to the 15 from the two. It’s unclear how it will unfold, but a preview is playing out north of the border, up Canada way.

The CFL has moved the one-point attempt to the 25, which makes the kick the same length as in the NFL, since the CFL goal post is at the front of the 25-yard end zone. The early results suggest that it could make more sense to go for two more often.

Via Yahoo! Sports Canada, CFL teams have gone for two 29 out of 101 times this season, converting 22 of them. That’s a 28.7-percent utilization rate of the two-point try, with a 72.4-percent success rate.

Conversely, teams have converted only 58 of 72 one-point attempts, an 80.6-percent rate.

That 25-yard end zone may have something to do with the two-point success rate, since it give receivers more room to maneuver. With only a 10-yard window, NFL teams may be better off running than throwing, especially after way the Super Bowl ended.

From the NFL’s perspective, the more relevant stat comes from the reduced conversion rate on a one-point try. Previously, the extra-point attempts in Canada came from the five yard line, and kickers made 99.4 percent of the 13-yard kicks. If the one-point try becomes a four-out-of-five proposition for the NFL, coaches could decide to go for two more often.

Still, football coaches like to do what is conventional, because when the conventional fails, there’s no criticism. When the unconventional fails, that’s when the pitchforks and torches come out.

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Texans place Jadeveon Clowney on PUP list

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Texans’ team doctor said recently that linebacker Jadeveon Clowney’s recovery from microfracture surgery has been “spectacular” but that’s enough for him to avoid the physically unable to perform list to start training camp.

The Texans have placed Clowney on the PUP list, which means he won’t be practicing with the team until they’ve had more time to make sure his knee is ready for a full workload. It also keeps open the possibility that the Texans could put him on the regular season version of the list if he’s not able to practice this summer.

That option would keep Clowney from rejoining the team for at least the first six weeks of the year, which is obviously not what the Texans would like but it’s the most prudent approach for a player coming off that kind of procedure.

The Texans also placed linebacker Akeem Dent on the PUP list. Offensive lineman David Quessenberry is on the non-football injury list as he continues to recover from lymphoma and wide receiver Alan Bonner is on the non-football injury list. All four players can be activated at any point during training camp.

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NFL releases list of fines for 2015 season

Miami Dolphins OTA's Getty Images

NFL players who want to budget for fines during the 2015 season now know how much money they need to set aside.

The league has released the list of fines for offenses committed on the field this season.

The most expensive fines are for fighting and physical contact with officials. Those fines are $28,940 for a first offense and $57,881 for a second offense.

Some of the fines are a little hard to understand. For instance, the fine for taunting is the same as the fine for late hits and chop blocks: $8,681. At a time when the NFL says player safety is its top priority, you’d think that taking a cheap shot at an opponent would be treated more harshly than taunting an opponent, but in reality the fine is the same for both.

The full list of fines is here.

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Buccaneers bring back defensive end Da’Quan Bowers

San Francisco 49ers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The Buccaneers haven’t needed Da’Quan Bowers all offseason.

But now that camp’s about to start, they realized some depth at defensive end might not be bad to have.

The Bucs announced they had re-signed the free agent, who had sat on the market untouched all offseason.

Bowers, who might have been a top-10 pick before a knee injury in college derailed his career, was ultimately picked in the second round by the Bucs.

He’s responded with 7.0 sacks in four seasons, but could still contribute, as he’s versatile enough to play inside as well. But the fact they brought him back also speaks to their depth chart at the position, where Jacquies Smith and George Johnson are the starters.

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DUI arrest of former Colts QB generates massive blood-alcohol reading

Trudeau Getty Images

The headline is the former Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau was arrested for DUI. The real story is the amount of alcohol that was in his system at the time.

Via the Associated Press, portable breath-testing showed Trudeau’s blood-alcohol concentration to be 0.31 percent.

That’s nearly four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, and it’s at the low end of the “life threatening” range of alcohol poisoning.

The Sunday night arrest includes a charge of intimidating a police officer.

A second-round pick in 1986, Trudeau played for the Colts through 1993. He also spent time with the Jets and Panthers.

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Paolantonio says owners aren’t pressuring Goodell

Goodell AP

A Friday appearance by ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio on the Mighty 1090 in San Diego, coupled with prior reports suggesting that NFL owners are lobbying Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding appeal of the four-game suspension imposed on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, sparked Sunday’s statement from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti that he’s not pressuring Goodell.

On Monday, Paolantonio appeared on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore to explain the situation in further detail. And, as some may characterize the remarks, to backpedal like Darrell Green in his prime.

“He hasn’t put any pressure on Roger Goodell,” Paolantonio said of Bisciotti. “And he hasn’t talked about DeflateGate at all, publicly or privately from what I was told. . . . Reports up in New England were that I said that owners were pressuring Goodell. . . . I never said that owners were pressuring Goodell. But what I said about Steve Bisciotti, I shouldn’t have even said that. Because it’s pretty clear when he read his statement, that it sounds like he doesn’t care what the Commissioner does. He just wants the Commissioner to act. . . .

“I think I was wrong to say what I said, because clearly it sounds like Steve Bisciotti doesn’t care. And what I was able to find out pretty clearly is that the owners are not pressuring Roger Goodell, at all. So I never would have reported that. And the other thing too is that it was not a report. It was just me talking on a radio station. It was my opinion, and it was speculation.”

Here’s what Paolantonio initially said on the Mighty 1090: “If they do vacate the suspension and exonerate Brady, then of course you’re totally undermining [executive V.P. of football operations] Troy Vincent . . . and you’re undermining the authority of the very Commissioner making the ruling, since he was the one that signed off on the initial four-game suspension in the first place. Not only that, you’re angering some of the hard core owners out there, And I know who they are, and I’m gonna name them right now. Jim Irsay of the Colts, Steve Bisciotti of the Ravens and others in the AFC who believe that the Patriots have gotten away with murder for years and have not been publicly punished properly.”

Paolantonio didn’t say that Bisciotti, Irsay, or anyone else was “pressuring” Goodell. Instead, Paolantonio said that Bisciotti and Irsay (and others) would be angered by a reduction. Some in the media apparently took the prior report that a small group of owners are pushing Goodell to uphold the suspension and the opinion/speculation/whatever from Paolantonio that Irsay and Bisciotti would be angered by a reduction as the parts of a two-piece puzzle.

And that would have been the easiest way for Paolantonio to explain the reaction to his comments from Friday.

Still, regardless of whether their potential anger with the outcome ever became affirmative pressure on Goodell, it’s possible that some owners would be angry with a reduction, but that those owners aren’t overtly pressuring Goodell.

It’s also possible that Bisciotti chose the term “pressure” in his Sunday statement not as a pun (although it was a good one) but in recognition of the possibility that he and other owners have merely communicated their views on the subject to the league office, without applying any “pressure” to the Commissioner.

Does anyone really think owners haven’t been lobbying the league office on this issue? One of the clearest points to emerge from the murky morass known as #DeflateGate is that teams piss and moan to 345 Park Avenue about so many issues that the league has gotten numb to the complaints. Otherwise, the league would have done a much better job checking the Patriots footballs only one day after the Colts complained about suspicions of underinflation. (At a minimum, referee Walt Anderson would have put two and two together when the balls went missing before the game, for the first time in his career.)

Likewise, does anyone think other owners were placated by the punishment imposed on the Patriots, and that they’ll all simply shrug if the Commissioner reduces or eliminates the Brady suspension? If that were the case, the suspension surely would have been reduced or eliminated by now.

With or without pressure, lobbying, or influence, the Commissioner understands the various pros and cons of his options. And that’s perhaps one of the reasons why he has yet to select one.

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Browns not “guaranteeing” Josh McCown will start Week One

Josh McCown AP

The Browns gave Josh McCown starter reps at quarterback throughout the offseason and there hasn’t been much indication from the team that the team’s starter in the regular season will be anyone other than McCown.

Despite that, coach Mike Pettine isn’t ready to etch anything in stone at this point. On the same day that he left the door open to Terrelle Pryor making a return to quarterback, Pettine also opted not to shut the door completely on the possibility that Johnny Manziel would be the team’s starter when they meet the Jets in Week One.

“I don’t think anything’s changed,” Pettine said, via “The repetitions will be handled that way with Josh as the [No. 1]. I wouldn’t say I’m guaranteeing today that Josh McCown is going to be the starter against the Jets. A lot can happen in preseason.”

Pettine said McCown’s experience gave him a pronounced edge on Manziel, whose recent work with Jon Gruden was seen as “nothing but a positive” by his head coach. Unless it led to a profound change from the Manziel that the Browns have seen for the last year-plus and McCown flops once the preseason gets underway, it’s hard to see the Browns turning away from McCown. Then again, it’s been hard to forecast many of the twists and turns that the Browns have taken since re-entering the NFL so it’s probably best not to be surprised by anything that might happen in Cleveland.

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Shane Ray declares himself “100 percent” healed from toe problem

Shane Ray AP

Broncos first-rounder Shane Ray fell to 23rd in the draft in part because of concerns about his health.

But the rookie outside linebacker said that won’t be the case when training camp opens, as the toe problem that plagued him through the offseason is behind him.

“I’m 100 percent—full go,” Ray said in comments distributed by the team. “All drills, 100 percent. The issue was that I didn’t have any time to rest during the pre-draft process and get the proper treatment. As soon as I got here, I got the things that I needed, the treatment that I needed and the orthotics that I needed, and my recovery happened like it was supposed to. Now it is not an issue.”

With that issue behind him, Ray said he’s ready to get back to “having fun.” He didn’t have as much of that this offseason, as the marijuana possession arrest just before the draft also contributed to his slide.

But the benefit of falling in the draft also meant he gets to work his way into the NFL behind a pair of productive veterans in DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller, giving the Broncos a potentially explosive group of pass-rushers for new coordinator Wade Phillips to work with.

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Osi Umenyiora expected to sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

When the offseason was getting underway, Osi Umenyiora said that he had no plans to retire.

Whether because of a change of heart or lack of the desired interest level in his services around the league, it appears that Umenyiora has had a change of heart. Dan Graziano and Adam Caplan of ESPN reported Monday that Umenyiora is talking to the Giants about signing with the team, but not as an option to help them while Jason Pierre-Paul is healing. It will be a one-day contract to retire with the team he spent most of his career with and several other Giants beat writers have subsequently reported the same plan.

Umenyiora played for the Giants from 2003-2012 and recorded 75 sacks for the team as a defensive end. That’s good for fourth all-time in team history and Umenyiora also won a pair of Super Bowl rings during his time in New Jersey. Those highlights were interspersed with frequent complaints about his contract and/or role, but the sum total of Umenyiora’s time with the Giants were positive for both the team and the player.

He spent the last two seasons in Atlanta, recording 7.5 sacks in 2013 before slumping along with many other Falcons last season.

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