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Vikings’ Chris Cook: Packers are “definitely vulnerable”

AP

Vikings cornerback Chris Cook, an apparent scholar of the game, has unearthed something that could be important to his team.

It seems that the Packers might be harder to beat with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the field than Scott Tolzien, and that difference is something opponents might take advantage of.

They’re definitely vulnerable right now,” Cook said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Rodgers is a key guy for them and he pretty much makes their offense go.”

Do tell.

Cook went on to say: “This is definitely a must-win [game] for us” — establishing that everything is, in fact, relative.

Granted, the Packers have lost three straight since Rogers broke his collarbone.

But if anyone knows about vulnerable quarterback situations, it should be the 2-8 Vikings, who have looked vulnerable with all three of theirs this year.

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Bears G.M. makes it clear: Mike Glennon’s the starting quarterback

AP

There are plenty of questions about the Bears as they enter training camp. The identity of their starting quarterback is not among them, as General Manager Ryan Pace has already declared.

It’s not Mitchell Trubisky, the guy Pace traded up to No. 2 overall to take in this year’s draft. It’s Mike Glennon, the free agent he dropped a three-year, $45 million contract on.

“Glennon’s here for a reason,” Pace said, via J.J. Stankevitz of CSNChicago.com. “We evaluated him over the years. We’re very confident in him. Glennon’s our starter and we’re confident with that.

“This thing is going to have to play out. But Mike Glennon is our starting quarterback and I don’t think now is the time to deal in hypotheticals going forward.”

With that settled, the Bears can go on to figuring out who the starters around him will be, as Trubisky interns. Of course, with coach John Fox in a prove-it year anyway (and with a long-held preference for veteran quarterbacks instead of rookies), that might have been a moot point.

Whether Trubisky eventually wins the backup job from Mark Sanchez remains to be seen, but at the moment, No. 2 is as high on the depth chart as he’ll go.

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Coach, quarterback have little to say about Duane Brown

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Texans left tackle Duane Brown is holding out of training camp. The man who coaches him and the guy he primarily protects both tiptoed around the situation when talking to reporters on Wednesday.

“I’m just coaching the guys that are here,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien told reporters. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Duane. He’s been a captain for us my first three years here and he means a lot to me, but I’m going to really concentrate on the guys that are here and I’ll let [G.M.] Rick [Smith] handle that side of things.”

Smith is handling the contract dispute by claiming there’s no contract dispute. Which will do little to get the contract dispute resolved.

Quarterback Tom Savage took a similar approach to O’Brien’s.

“I guess all that stuff’s between him and the coach and the G.M. and all that,” Savage said. “I can’t really say much on that. He’s a good guy, though.”

It’s a smart play by Savage. Of course the quarterback wants Brown there. But he won’t be helping his own cause if he pressures Brown to show up or otherwise abandon his desire to improve his financial situation.

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Jets waive WR Devin Street

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The Jets claimed a former Cowboys receiver, cutting another ex-Cowboys receiver to make room. The Jets waived Devin Street on Wednesday after claiming Lucky Whitehead.

The Cowboys drafted Street in the fifth round in 2014. He spent two seasons in Dallas, playing in 30 games, mostly on special teams. He made nine catches for 132 yards and a touchdown with the Cowboys.

Dallas waived Street last year coming out of the preseason, and the Patriots signed him to their practice squad. He didn’t last long in New England, and the Colts added him to their active roster. Indianapolis released him before this year’s draft.

The Patriots claimed Street and then released him, and he signed with the Jets early last month.

Street, 26, played in five games with the Colts last season, making one catch for 20 yards.

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Bengals rookie John Ross still weeks away from debut

AP

John Ross broke the NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard dash record this spring, laying down a blazing 4.22-second time.

But he hasn’t done anything since, and won’t when the Bengals open training camp.

According to Geoff Hobson of the team’s official website, Ross “isn’t expected to make his Bengals practice debut for a couple of weeks.”

The first-rounder is coming off shoulder surgery, and hasn’t taken part in any of their offseason workouts or OTAs.

The Bengals were hoping he’d add a deep speed element to complement A.J. Green, but for the moment they’ll rely on veteran Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd in practice, until Ross gets back on the field.

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Jordan Reed to open camp on PUP list

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Injuries have proven to be the most effective method of slowing down tight end Jordan Reed over the course of his career and he’s apparently dealing with something physical again as camp gets underway.

The Redskins announced on Wednesday that Reed has been placed on the physically unable to perform list, which leaves him ineligible to practice with the team until he’s activated.

The team did not identify a particular ailment for Reed and he was a participant in the team’s offseason work, so it’s not clear what led to their decision. Given Reed’s lengthy injury history, including several concussions, it may just be a case of playing it safe until they feel comfortable ramping up his workload.

As previously reported, safety DeAngelo Hall and linebacker Houston Bates will also open camp on the PUP list. Wide receiver Kendal Thompson rounds out the group of players that aren’t ready to get on the field at the moment.

UPDATE 5:58 p.m. ET: A team spokesman announced, via Mike Jones of the Washington Post, that Reed has a big toe sprain. Some might say that the team’s offense without Reed is like an army without a leader or a foot without a big toe, so their caution is understandable given the point in the calendar.

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D’Onta Foreman’s lawyer is working to get charges dropped

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Another day, another arrested NFL player in Texas professing his innocence.

Texans running back D’Onta Foreman, who technically is in West Virginia, told reporters that his lawyer is working to resolve marijuana and weapons charges quickly.

“I definitely feel good about it,” Foreman said. “My lawyer is great. He’s doing everything possible to get everything dropped, and like I said, I’m innocent and I feel like — it’s the truth, I am innocent — so we’re looking forward to getting everything dropped and everything will take care of itself.”

Foreman nevertheless learned a valuable lesson from the experience.

“I just learned that it’s certain things and certain people that I can’t always involve myself with,” Foreman said. “Those guys that I was with are my friends but we understand now, with that happening, that there’s certain ways that we have to move and certain ways that we have to go about doing things. I think, my friend, he understands that and I understand that and we’ll definitely be better.”

The stakes are high for Foreman. Anything other than abandonment of the marijuana charges will result in a one-game suspension. If the weapons charges aren’t dropped, he could face other discipline.

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John Elway promoted to president of football operations/GM

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The Broncos gave John Elway a new five-year contract this week. Then, they gave him a promotion.

Elway received a bump from executive vice president of football operations/General Manager to president of football operations/GM. He retains full autonomy over the team’s football decisions.

“We’re football first here at the Broncos and obviously John is our leader of the team,” Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis said in a press release. “I think he is definitely deserving of this title elevation. It’s really a recognition that he deserves for all that he does and all that he has done for this team over the years since he arrived here in 1984.”

Elway has guided the Broncos to the second-most overall wins (73) in the NFL since 2011 when he became the team’s top football executive. The Broncos also have won AFC West titles in five of the past six years while winning Super Bowl 50 to end the 2015 season.

 

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Titans sign Dennis Kelly to contract extension

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The Titans traded wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to the Eagles last year for offensive lineman Dennis Kelly, but Green-Beckham’s stay in Philadelphia came to an end when the Eagles waived him in late June.

Kelly is set for a much longer stay in Tennessee. The Titans announced on Wednesday that they have signed Kelly to a multi-year contract extension. They did not announce any of the terms of the deal.

Kelly played in all 16 games for the Titans last year and made six starts as an extra offensive lineman during his first year in Nashville. Kelly also played most of a seventh game after left tackle Taylor Lewan was ejected in the first quarter of what turned out to be a 47-25 rout of the Packers.

He also made starts at right tackle, right guard and left guard during his time in Philadelphia and Wednesday’s extension makes it clear that the Titans value that versatility up front.

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J.J. Watt says Twitter shots at Big Baller were to promote his shoes

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J.J. Watt now is a part-time shoe salesman, which explains why the Texans defensive end recently took a shot at LaVar Ball’s Big Baller brand.

Watt’s Reebok shoes cost $99. Ball sells his brand for $495.

While he was promoting the shoes before their release, Watt tweeted “400 dollars less than some shoes on the market and 100% more effective.”

On Wednesday, Watt said taking on Big Baller on social media provided free marketing.

“I was just promoting my shoe,” he said, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “They look great. I was just trying to sell some shoes. It worked. You guys [media] blew it up. I appreciate it. You guys marketed it way more than I did, so thank you. It worked really well.”

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Raiders sign Obi Melifonwu

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Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said this week that he thought unsigned first-round cornerback Gareon Conley and second-round safety Obi Melifonwu would have their contracts “resolved shortly.”

One down, one to go.

Melifonwu’s agent Sean Stellato passed along word on Wednesday that his client has agreed to terms with the Raiders on a four-year contract and the Raiders announced it a short time later. Melifonwu was the only player drafted after the first round without a contract and his signing leaves Conley and two other first-rounders — 49ers defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and Titans wide receiver Corey Davis — as the only 2017 picks without deals.

Melifonwu started 47 games at the University of Connecticut and, like Cowboys safety and fellow Huskie Byron Jones, turned in a stellar performance at the combine. He’ll join Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson at safety in Oakland and his athleticism could lead to early playing time as a rookie.

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Plenty of teams were interested in Lucky Whitehead

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The Jets won waivers dibs for former Cowboys receiver Lucky Whitehead. It’s not yet known which teams lower in the priority made a claim for him. However, multiple other teams showed interest in the 24 hours or so between when it became clear that Whitehead was innocent and when the window closed on trying to get him.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Colts, Chiefs, and Saints showed interest. The Bears likewise demonstrated a little interest in Whitehead.

The Chiefs stand out among that group because they already have a dynamic return specialist in Tyreek Hill. But with the team apparently planning to use Hill, who averaged only 5.3 offensive touches per game, more this year, they could be thinking about taking him out of harm’s way from time to time and relying on someone else to return kicks and punts.

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Eagles trade Allen Barbre to Broncos

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The Eagles announced today that they released offensive lineman Allen Barbre. But not so fast.

Barbre has instead been traded to the Broncos, the team announced.

The Eagles didn’t get much for Barbre — just a conditional draft pick in 2019 — but getting anything at all for a player the team already announced it would cut is a plus. Apparently after the Eagles put out the announcement of the decision to release Barbre, they decided to see if there were any offers for him, and it turned out that the Broncos were willing to make an offer.

The Broncos had been looking to add some depth to their offensive line, and now they’ve got it. Barbre is no lock to make the roster, but he’s got a shot, and if he does contribute in Denver, Philadelphia will get something for him. It’s a move that has the potential to work for both teams.

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Hue Jackson will determine QB competition by “feel”

AP

Browns coach Hue Jackson indeed said Wednesday that Cody Kessler will be the first quarterback to get first-team reps in camp. Jackson also said the other three contenders for the job will get reps, too.

So how will it all play out?

“You have to kind of do that by feel,” Jackson told reporters. “Like I said, Cody is going to walk out there first, DeShone [Kizer] is going to get reps, Brock [Osweiler] is going to get reps, and Kevin [Hogan] is going to get reps, and then as we go through the process, we will evaluate and see where we are. There will be markers as we go. There will be data that we will look at to make very important decisions as we move forward. It could change. It could not change. That is all going to play out as we go through training camp.”

This implies that it may take a while to narrow it from four to one. Which necessarily could make the guy who finishes No. 1 less prepared to start than he could be, or maybe should be. Unless the winner makes himself obvious early.

“As you start to see guys start to distance themselves, you start to move into a different direction,” Jackson said. “I think that is what was asked earlier: How will it all turn out? I can’t tell you exactly how fast it is going to happen, but I think we all know that old saying, ‘The cream kind of rises to the top.’ They will start to separate themselves as we go. As that happens, we will make that decision and make sure that guy gets enough reps to be ready to play.”

Kessler shouldn’t read much in to the fact that he’s the first one to get a chance to take the reps.

“Somebody has to walk out there first,” Jackson said. “We have made a decision that it will be Cody and we will kind of go from there. . . . He is still the guy who demonstrates knowing the offense the best. He is the guy that has played the most football for us in that group, and I think he deserves a chance to walk out there first.”

Jackson emphasized that all four players will have a chance, even though rookie DeShone Kizer gets plenty of attention.

“I know we talk about DeShone more than we do Brock [Osweiler] and more than we do Kevin [Hogan], but all four of those guys are going to have to have an opportunity to walk out there and compete because that is the right way to run this.”

Does even Osweiler, the footnote on a trade for a second-round pick, have a chance to win the job?

“Yes, he does,” Jackson said. “He is here competing. Brock did a good job in OTAs and our offseason program. He is going to walk out there and compete just like the other guys.”

In the recent PFT Live draft of quarterbacks on the hot seat, Barstool Big Cat selected the Browns quarterbacks generally. And he has a point; the guy who eventually wins the job likely also wins the right to be the first guy to lose the job, inevitably.

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Fabian Moreau will avoid NFI to start camp

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Washington will not have to place cornerback Fabian Moreau on the non-football injury list to start camp, coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday. It was good news for the third-round pick who missed all of the offseason program.

Moreau tore a pectoral muscle in pre-draft training but will start on the active list only four months after surgery.

“I think he’ll be limited,” Gruden said, via Rick Tandler of CSN. “He can do some individual stuff and walkthroughs. . . .He’ll be limited as far as contact.”

Gruden did not announce the team’s entire PUP list but confirmed safety DeAngelo Hall and outside linebacker Houston Bates will start on it. Both players are returning from torn anterior cruciate ligaments.

Gruden expects “probably a couple more” players on the list when it is announced before practice starts Thursday.

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Bills place Colt Anderson on PUP

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The Bills have placed safety Colt Anderson the physically unable to perform list, the team announced Wednesday. Anderson has a foot injury.

Anderson has played seven NFL seasons, including last season with the Bills. He re-signed with the team in January after playing in two games.

Anderson was a walk-on at the University of Montana, went undrafted and signed with the Vikings in 2009. He played four seasons (2010-13) with the Eagles, two seasons with the Colts and last season with the Bills.

In 79 games played, with seven starts, he has 102 tackles and an interception. He is more valuable as a core special teams player, with the ability to play on all the units.

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