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Death at Arrowhead did not result from dispute among fans

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Police continue to investigate a death that occurred in a parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium.  Kansas City Police Chief Daryle Forte says via Twitter than the incident did not involve a dispute among fans.

According to Glenn E. Rice of the Kansas City Star, a man was caught in a vehicle that he didn’t own.  A fight ensued, and the man after being taken to a local hospital.  The cause of death, per Rice, was not obvious.

“I know it had nothing to do with the actual game itself.  Everything happened out here in the parking lot,” KCPD Public Safety Officer Darin Snapp told FOX 4.  “The hospital has told us that there were no obvious signs of how the person passed away so, we don’t know. The witnesses say that there were no guns or anything.”

Chief Forte added that multiple parties were being interviewed at police headquarters.  According to Rice, police took a total of three persons into custody.

The incident occurred on the one-year anniversary of linebacker Jovan Belcher killing his girlfriend and then committing suicide in a parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium.

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Mick Tingelhoff this year’s Seniors nominee to Hall of Fame

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With the addition of a pair of contributor nominees, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is only nominating one player from the Seniors Committee this year.

And that player is one of the most durable and productive players in football history.

The Hall announced this afternoon that longtime Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff was this year’s lone Seniors nominee.

He won’t be competing for a spot in Canton with modern players, as he will be subject to a yes/no vote, and needs 80 percent to earn his spot. While not a rubber stamp, the recent record is good for those presented by the seniors committee.

A six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro, Tingelhoff started all 240 games he played for the Vikings over a 17-year career.

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Jadeveon Clowney finishes practice early after trip to medical tent

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Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney didn’t impress Falcons running back Antone Smith when he buried Smith in the backfield during last weekend’s preseason game, but he’s impressed most other people with his first couple of performances in the NFL.

He impressed the Broncos during Tuesday’s joint practice with Houston as well, but Wednesday didn’t go as well for the first overall pick. Lindsay Jones of USA Today reports that Clowney left the session during 9-on-7 drills and went to the medical tent. Per Jones, Clowney “was walking OK, but looked uncomfortable” on his way to get checked out by the doctors.

Clowney didn’t return to practice after heading to the tent and Jones reports that he took off his shoulder pads so trainers could have a look at the left side of his neck.

We’ll have to wait to get a more detailed update on Clowney’s condition, but it seems a safe bet that the Texans will take every precaution necessary to make sure that their first-round pick is clear of any concerns before he returns to the field.

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Orlando Scandrick has two-a-days in his future

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Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick is going to work harder during his suspension than he had to during training camp.

Scandrick, who was suspended four games for violating the league’s PED policy, said he intends to be ready when he walks back in the door, and will be putting himself through two-a-days each day while he’s away from the team. He’s going back to Los Angeles to work with the personal trainer he uses in the offseason.

“I’m not going to do anything but train and prepare myself to play every day,” Scandrick said, via Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “I’m going to come back ready.”

While it’s impossible to duplicate football practice without the benefit of a team, he will be doing defensive back drills and catching tennis balls out of a machine in addition to his strength and conditioning.

With a little luck, none of those sessions will be in Mexico, and he’ll always know what he’s drinking.

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DeAngelo Hall on penalty emphasis: Seahawks got their ring, now we have to deal with consequences

DeAngelo Hall AP

The amount of flags for defensive holding and illegal contact have been a major talking point throughout the preseason and one player affected by them thinks he knows why the league moved to emphasize those calls this season.

Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said there are “no ifs, ands or buts” about the league’s reaction coming as a result of the Seahawks’ victory over the Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks secondary was one of the most, if not the most, physical defenses in the league and Hall thinks they used that to their advantage and that the rest of the league’s defensive backs are paying the price.

“Seahawks got their ring, they did it their way … now we have to pay the consequences,” Hall said, via Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Washington.

This year’s shift hasn’t really hurt the Seahawks, who have been called for a relatively low three illegal contact penalties, although it’s not the first time that anyone has drawn a line between the Seahawks’ style of play and the league’s decision to crack down on those types of infractions. It is hardly the first time that the league has moved to make life more difficult on pass defenders in recent years, though. Defensive backs have been paying the consequences of the league’s moves to create more passing offense for a while now and this year’s emphasis on holding and illegal contact falls right in the same line.

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Report: Jaguars agree with fullback Eric Kettani

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The Jaguars are reportedly set to add another fullback.

The club will sign blocking back Eric Kettani, who was most recently with the Chiefs, Aaron Wilson of National Football Post reported Wednesday. Kansas City waived the 27-year-old Kettani in May.

To sign Kettani, the Jaguars will have to clear a roster spot, as they are at the 90-player limit.

A Navy product, Kettani (5-11, 240) has also had stints with Washington and New England. His NFL career has twice been put on hold for naval service.

Before adding Kettani, the Jaguars had two fullbacks — Will Ta’ufo’ou and Harvey Unga.

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Five questions: Miami Dolphins

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The Dolphins held their playoff destiny in their hands heading into the last two weeks of the regular season, a fairly remarkable position given the turmoil on and off the field caused by an offensive line that was far harder on members of the Dolphins than they were on the opposition.

Miami couldn’t beat either the Jets or the Bills in those final weeks, however, and Miami missed the playoffs before making major changes this offseason. General Manager Jeff Ireland was fired, four-fifths of the starting offensive line changed and a new offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, was brought in to help coach Joe Philbin try to make the playoffs for the first time since coming to Miami.

If you saw our preseason power rankings, you’ll know that there isn’t much optimism at PFT about that happening. If the Dolphins are going to prove us wrong, these are five areas where they’ll need to get positive answers.

1. Is Ryan Tannehill the answer at quarterback?

Tannehill entered the NFL with limited experience as a starting quarterback, but the Dolphins took him eighth overall in 2012 and teamed him with his college coach Mike Sherman in hopes of making a quick transition to the NFL. Tannehill has done that in one respect as he’s made all 32 starts through his first two seasons and he’s shown the kind of tools that you want to see from a starting quarterback. Consistency has been an issue, though, and it remains unclear whether or not he can vault to the next level.

Having an offensive line interested in stopping defenses from pounding him to the turf would be a good start, but Tannehill can also help himself by making quicker decisions before the pressure gets to him. Playing in Lazor’s system should help with that, although there will still be a need for Tannehill to show he can make the right decisions whether or not a defender is bearing down on him.

One way to help could be to get Tannehill throwing on the move more often as he’s been more successful in that area than he’s been when he delivers his passes from the pocket. His athleticism has always been a plus and Sherman’s scheme didn’t always take full advantage of that in Tannehill’s first two seasons. He’s played well in the first two preseason games, which creates some optimism for what’s to follow.

2. Will shuffling the linebackers lead to better results?

The Dolphins brought in two free agent linebackers last year and said goodbye to Karlos Dansby only to see Dansby thrive in Arizona while Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler helped man a linebacking corps that struggled against the run and the pass. Ellerbe played in the middle last year with Wheeler and Misi flanking him, but things will look different this time around.

Misi is in the middle, a new position for him, while Ellerbe has kicked outside in hopes that he’ll be freed up to make more plays from that spot in the defense. The group had a poor first preseason outing, which has opened the door for fifth-round pick Jordan Tripp to gain some snaps with the first team. Whoever winds up filling out the group come the regular season, there needs to be a serious improvement in execution if the Dolphins defense is going to be stingy.

3. Will Mike Wallace’s second year in Miami be more productive than his first?

Wallace came to Miami with a contract that says he’s a centerpiece of the offense, but he didn’t wind up making that kind of impact on the field. Wallace caught 73 passes, but averaged a career-worst 12.7 yards per catch as his speed never led to the kinds of big plays down the field (six catches in 36 attempts of more than 20 yards) that marked his career with the Steelers.

Lazor has plans to use Wallace in a wider variety of ways this season, but neither reports from camp nor preseason play has shown a serious difference on the field. As the most dynamic receiver on the team, Wallace will have to be a major part of the offense for Tannehill to make the kinds of strides that the team wants to see him take this season.

4. Can the offensive line come together on the fly?

The good news for the Dolphins is that the bar was set so low in 2013 that it shouldn’t be hard for this year’s group to be better. The bad news is that being better than the 2013 Dolphins doesn’t mean that the line will be good enough to keep the offense moving.

Left tackle Branden Albert is a clear and big upgrade, but the rest of the line is still a mystery. Center Mike Pouncey hopes to avoid the PUP list, but will miss some time as he recovers from hip surgery and the loss of that anchor could have a ripple effect on a line that will start inexperienced players (tackle Ja’Wuan James, guard Dallas Thomas and guard Billy Turner) and/or underwhelming veterans Shelley Smith, Daryn Colledge and Dallas Thomas.

While the pass protection got all the notice last year, the Dolphins also fell short in the ground game. The backs on hand aren’t world-beaters, so there will be pressure on the line to be much better in that area as well because a little more balance would go a long way in Miami.

5. Do they have enough in the secondary?

The Dolphins were dealt a blow this summer when starting safety Reshad Jones was suspended for the first four games of the regular season, leaving cornerback Brent Grimes as the only sure thing in the secondary to start the season.

They are going to need safety Louis Delmas to stay healthy, cornerback Cortland Finnegan to rebound from a poor 2013 season and at least one member of the Jamar Taylor/Will Davis/Walt Aikens group of young players to make strides in order to be a group that scares opposing offenses. If those things don’t fall into place, they’ll be short even after Jones returns to the lineup and there will likely be some long days for the Miami defense.

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Mike Ditka wants anti-Redskins liberals to get off his lawn

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Mike Ditka is the crusty old coot of the football world, the grandpa you love even as he says things that make you cringe. So now that Ditka has waded into the controversy over the Washington NFL team’s name, it’s tempting to ignore him, just as you try to ignore the old neighbor who talks your ear off about how everything was better back in his day, when men were men and Herbert Hoover was president.

Still, the 74-year-old Ditka’s recent comments about the Redskins name have received enough attention that they probably merit a response. Ditka talked to a totally unbiased website called RedskinsHistorian.com, and he made it clear that he’s angry about this newfangled effort to change the name of the team in Washington.

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said. “It’s so much horse s–t it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world.”

Ditka has never made any secret of his dislike of liberals. Ditka briefly considered running against Barack Obama in the 2004 U.S. Senate race in Illinois, and he has said declining to do that is his greatest regret in life, because he believes he could have prevented Obama from becoming president. But if Ditka thinks only liberals oppose the use of a racial slur as the name of an NFL team, he’s sorely mistaken. John McCain, who unlike Ditka really did run against Obama, has said the Redskins should probably change their name. Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post who is among the most conservative voices in the American media, has written that the team should change its name. Tom Cole, a Republican who is one of only two Native Americans in Congress, wrote to Commissioner Roger Goodell that, “The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur.”

Whether opponents of the team name are liberal or conservative, Ditka believes they’re wrong. Just as Daniel Snyder has, Ditka insists that the team’s name is meant as a sign of respect.

“It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Brownskin? This is so stupid, it’s appalling,” Ditka said.

But right there, with his own example, Ditka is showing the problem with the name “Redskins.” Ditka seems to realize that we would never tolerate a team being called the Brownskins. So why does he think we should tolerate a team being called the Redskins? Ditka appeals to tradition in support of his beliefs.

“It’s been the name of the team since the beginning of football. It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. I mean, leave it alone,” Ditka said.

Ditka is wrong that “Redskins” has been the team’s name since the beginning of football. It’s actually been the team name only since 1933. It’s also true that the owner who gave them the Redskins name, George Preston Marshall, was a vicious racist who refused to sign black players until 1962, when the federal government told him his team wouldn’t be permitted to play in Washington, D.C., anymore if he didn’t agree to integrate. Times change.

Snyder won’t change, however, and Ditka believes that Snyder deserves respect for his stubborn stance against changing his team’s name.

“I admire him for it,” Ditka said. “Really, I think it’s tradition, it’s history, it’s part of the National Football League. It was about Sammy Baugh and all the guys who were Redskins way back then. I didn’t think that Lombardi and Halas never had a problem with it, why would all these other idiots have a problem with the name? I’m sorry. I’m not very tolerant when it comes to the liberals who complain about everything.”

It may be true that Vince Lombardi and George Halas had no problem with the name “Redskins” when they were involved in the NFL, many decades ago. It is also utterly irrelevant to the question of whether “Redskins” is an appropriate name for a team in 2014.

There’s a lot to respect about Ditka, a Hall of Fame tight end turned Super Bowl-winning coach who has been a great ambassador for the game of football. But Ditka also talks a lot about that which he knows nothing. This is one of those times.

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Buccaneers release Lavelle Hawkins

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The Buccaneers have some time before they have to start making any cuts, but they’ve already made at least one decision about players currently on the roster who won’t be there when the regular season gets underway.

Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune reports that the team has released veteran wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins. Hawkins signed with Tampa shortly after they traded Mike Williams to the Bills in April and some thought his prior relationship with offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford might help him nail down a spot on the final roster. Things didn’t play out that way.

Getting released now could potentially help Hawkins land somewhere else before the preseason comes to a close, although there are going to be plenty of other players hitting the street in the coming days. Hawkins played four games for the Chargers last season and was with the Titans for the previous five seasons, but has only caught five regular season passes over the last two seasons.

With Hawkins gone, it looks like Chris Owusu and Louis Murphy will be joining Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans on the team this year. Tommy Streeter, Eric Page and Skye Dawson have played the most preseason snaps of the other receivers on the roster.

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Leodis McKelvin’s return from hip surgery slowed by groin injury

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Cornerback Leodis McKelvin has been limited all spring and summer as he recovers from offseason hip surgery, but he recently made the move to full practice and looked like he was on track to make his preseason debut against the Buccaneers on Saturday.

That debut may have to be put on hold. Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports that McKelvin had to leave Wednesday’s practice early because of a groin injury. Coach Doug Marrone said after the practice that there was no decision yet about whether or not McKelvin would be able to play come the weekend.

“I have no idea. They haven’t told me that yet,” Marrone said.

Marrone made it clear while discussing wide receiver Sammy Watkins’s rib injury that he won’t be giving timetables for returns this season, so we’ll have to wait and see when McKelvin is ready to go. Given McKelvin’s spot as a starter across from Stephon Gilmore and the multiple injury issues that he’s working through, it wouldn’t come as a great shock if the Bills opt for a cautious approach to giving him any preseason action.

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Eagles waive RB David Fluellen

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One day after acquiring tailback Kenjon Barner from Carolina, the Eagles parted ways with a running back, announcing the waiving of rookie David Fluellen on Wednesday.

An undrafted free agent from Toledo, Fluellen (5-11, 224) rushed for 25 yards on six carries and caught a 14-yard TD pass in the Eagles’ preseason opener at Chicago. However, he did not play in the club’s Friday preseason game at New England, reportedly because of an injury. However, he was back practicing on Sunday, according to the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal.

The 22-year-old Fluellen rushed for 3,336 yards and 28 touchdowns in four collegiate seasons (2010-2013).

The departure of Fluellen leaves the Eagles with six tailbacks. The Eagles carried just three running backs on the roster in Week One of the 2013 regular season.

Philadelphia has one open roster spot.

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Mike Carey reveals he declined to referee Redskins games

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Mike Carey, long one of the NFL’s best referees and now a TV analyst, has revealed something that hadn’t previously been disclosed: Over the last several years of his career, he declined to work Redskins games because he was offended by the team’s name.

“The league respectfully honored my request not to officiate Washington,” Carey told the Washington Post. “It happened sometime after I refereed their playoff game in 2006, I think.”

Carey, who was the first African-American to referee a Super Bowl, said that he decided he had had enough after working that playoff game in January of 2006.

“It just became clear to me that to be in the middle of the field, where something disrespectful is happening, was probably not the best thing for me,” Carey said.

Although Carey didn’t want to make a big public show of his opposition to the Washington team’s name, he did say that he didn’t feel right about being a part of games that featured a team whose name is a racial slur.

“Human beings take social stances,” he said. “And if you’re respectful of all human beings, you have to decide what you’re going to do and why you’re going to do it.”

The NFL was able to handle the Carey situation quietly, but this is a growing problem for the league: There’s a substantial portion of the population that opposes the Washington team’s name, and that includes people who work within the NFL.

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Mike Wallace: Dolphins receivers don’t get same calls as other teams

Mike Wallace AP

One of the biggest topics of conversation during the preseason has been the frequent flags thrown for defensive holding and illegal contact following the league’s decision to put a higher emphasis on those calls this season.

Many people have complained about the increase with reasons varying from making it harder to defend the pass to the stultifying pace that games take when flags fly on nearly every play, but at least one player feels that there haven’t been enough flags. Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace said that he and his teammates don’t see the same kind of treatment from the officials as the rest of the league.

“Not on our team. We don’t get those calls,” Wallace said, via the Palm Beach Post. “I don’t know why. That’s not our job to play for calls. We play to play football and make plays. The call, that’s extra.”

Wallace was answering a question about flags because he said he felt he was held while trying to catch a deep pass from Ryan Tannehill against the Buccaneers last week. The response about the hold came to the latest question about when Wallace and Tannehill might find the chemistry that’s eluded them since Wallace signed with the team last season.

Officials may have missed a call last week, but there’s not likely to be much sympathy for further comments about a lack of calls if those two don’t find a way to click in their second year together.

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Steelers sign Brett Keisel to two-year deal

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It’s official — Brett Keisel is returning to the club for whom he’s played his entire career.

The Steelers announced Wednesday they had signed Keisel, a long-time defensive end in the club’s 3-4 scheme, to a two-year contract. The announcement was made on the club’s website.

The 35-year-old Keisel has appeared in 144 regular season games for Pittsburgh since 2002, making 110 starts.

Keisel’s re-signing with Pittsburgh came after Arizona — a popular landing spot for former Steelers in recent years — expressed interest in the veteran defensive lineman.

In a corresponding roster move Wednesday, the Steelers waived first-year defensive tackle Al Lapuaho.

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Former NFL running back is in a pile of trouble now

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Armond Smith wasn’t able to rake up enough yards to keep an NFL job, and the latest news about him is going to leaf a lot of people disappointed.

According to Aimee Jones of the Rockdale (Ga.) Citizen, the former Panthers and Browns running back was arrested for stealing a leaf-blower out of the back of a landscaper’s truck parked outside the county courthouse.

Smith was charged with theft by taking (no word on whether he sped away by going fast) after a witness said he saw Smith place a $500 Stihl leaf blower in the back of his own truck.

The witness said Smith’s license plate was obscured by a T-shirt, but courthouse surveillance footage showed him, since he was at the courthouse regarding a domestic violence matter earlier in the day.

So it sounds like his issues may be really piling up.

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Rex Ryan shrugs off Bengals’ criticism of his late blitzes

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Andy Dalton routinely lights up the Jets anyway.

But the next time they see each other, the Bengals have another reason to play their best.

Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander took exception to Rex Ryan’s blitz calls late in Saturday’s game.

Notice he didn’t bring that stuff when our starters were out there,” Alexander said, according to Cincinnati.com. “We’d have scored quicker. If he wants to put his starting defense out there and blitz all that garbage against our third-stringers, if he feels good about it, then all the power to him.”

Ryan wasn’t fazed by the criticism at all.

“I don’t know why they’d be shocked,” Ryan said, via the New York Daily News. “I don’t worry about their team.”

The Jets eventually came back to win the game, but not until Andy Dalton strafed them, going 8-of-8 for 144 yards and a touchdown.

Sadly, the two don’t play in the regular season, but it feels like this one has the legs to last until the postseason, or into future seasons.

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