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Bill Belichick: Why not let coaches challenge everything?

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a simple solution for the NFL’s often impenetrable rules about which plays can be reviewed on instant replay and which plays can’t: Just let coaches challenge everything.

Belichick notes that coaches only get two challenges anyway (and a third if the firs two are successful), so it’s not like coaches could throw their red challenge flags after every play. As Belichick sees it, if a coach is confident that replay will show indisputable evidence that the officials got something wrong on the field, that coach should be allowed to initiate a replay review.

“When you have two challenges, I don’t see anything wrong with the concept of ‘you can challenge any two plays that you want,'” Belichick said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “I understand that judgment calls are judgment calls, but to say that an important play can’t be reviewed, I don’t think that’s really in the spirit of trying to get everything right and making sure the most important plays are officiated properly.

“If you get a situation where they call a guy for being offside, and you don’t think he was offside and you’re willing to use one of your challenges on that to let them go back and take a look at it — I understand if the evidence isn’t conclusive that the call stands. If it is [conclusive] than they’d overturn it.

“If it’s offensive holding, if you think one of the offensive linemen tackles your guy as he’s rushing the quarterback, and the ball hasn’t been thrown, they go back and look at it and if it’s that egregious of a violation they would make a call. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t. We have to live with that anyway but now it’s only on certain plays and certain situations.

“It’s kind of confusing for me as to which plays are, and which plays aren’t challengeable. I’m sure it’s confusing to the fans to know what they all are. There are multiple pages explaining what you can and can’t challenge. Then you have the officials come over to you in a controversial type of play and say, ‘Well, you can challenge this, or you can’t challenge it’ which is helpful. But I’m just saying the whole idea of simplifying the game and trying to get the important plays right, I wouldn’t have any problem if any play was open to a challenge, understanding that if it’s not conclusive, then it’s not conclusive and the ruling on the field would stand. That’s the way it is anyway. You have to make it a lot simpler in my mind.”

As I wrote last week, there are a lot of obviously bad calls that could easily be corrected if only the referee were allowed to use replay. For instance, when Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk blatantly grabbed and twisted Adrian Peterson’s facemask before forcing Peterson to fumble, the play was automatically reviewed because it was a turnover — but the officials weren’t allowed to call the obvious facemask they had missed, even though it was right there in front of them on the video monitor, because facemasking isn’t reviewable.

Members of the competition committee have said in the past that they don’t want judgment calls like holding and pass interference to be subject to replay reviews, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense considering that the league office uses replay reviews during the week to grade officials on those same judgment calls. If replays are going to be used to say whether an official got a call right or wrong during the week, why not let the referee use the replay right then and there when the call is made to get it right at the time?

Belichick makes a good point. Instead of byzantine rules that allow certain elements of certain calls to be reviewed, while forcing referees to ignore other things they see on replay, it would make more sense to simply tell every coach that he has two challenges, and he can challenge any call that he thinks replay can correct.

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We can breathe now, the Bears have a long snapper

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Sometimes the flurry of post-cutdown day moves can leave a team short at certain spots. But now, the Bears can actually fill an entire depth chart.

The team announced they signed long snapper Jeremy Cain Monday, giving them one at every position.

Cain spent two games with the team in 2013, and gets the first chance to be Patrick Mannelly’s replacement, after the long-time Bears’ retirement.

The Bears also signed 10 players to their practice squad, adding wide receiver Josh Bellamy, center Taylor Boggs, defensive tackle Brandon Dunn, cornerback Isaiah Frey, guard Ryan Groy, linebacker DeDe Lattimore, cornerback Al Louis-Jean, cornerback Terrance Mitchell, defensive tackle Roy Philon and wide receiver Rashad Ross.

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Jaguars add Mickey Shuler to active roster, seven to practice squad

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The Jaguars dropped from the top waiver position in the league last season to No. 3 this year, but they were still able to add a player they think can help the team in 2014.

Tight end Mickey Shuler has joined the team after being waived by the Falcons. Jacksonville is the latest stop in Shuler’s extensive travels around the league. He was a seventh-round pick by the Vikings in 2010, moved on to Miami (where he saw his only regular season action) and then returned to the Vikings before moving on for short stints with the Raiders, Cardinals and Bills.

Tight end Marcel Jensen was waived to make room for Shuler on the 53-man roster.

In addition to Shuler’s addition, the Jaguars also announced the first seven members of their practice squad. They are tackle Cody Booth, defensive tackle DeAndre Coleman, safety Craig Loston, quarterback Stephen Morris, wide receiver Kerry Taylor, linebacker Marcus Whitfield and wide receiver Tony Washington. Washington was cut by the Colts last week, but all the others spent camp with the Jags.

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Report: Titans reach deal with Quentin Groves

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Quentin Groves is set for a third tour with a Ray Horton-led defense.

The Titans have reached a deal with Groves, a veteran outside linebacker, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported on Monday.

The 30-year-old Groves played for Horton, now the Titans’ defensive coordinator, in Arizona (2012) and Cleveland (2013). Groves spent the 2014 preseason with the Texans, who released him on Saturday.

A seventh-year pro from Auburn, Groves has recorded 157 tackles and 8.5 sacks in his NFL career. The majority of the sacks have come in Horton-run defenses the last two seasons.

Groves is likely to provide depth behind starters Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley for Tennessee, which employs a 3-4 scheme.

UPDATE 10:51 a.m. ET: With Groves arriving, the Titans are releasing another outside linebacker. The club is parting ways with Patrick Bailey, Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean reported.

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Steve Keim: Jonathan Cooper has to understand how to manage playing in pain

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The Cardinals drafted guard Jonathan Cooper seventh overall last season, but haven’t seen much return on that investment.

Cooper missed all of last season with a broken leg and eventually worked his way back onto the field this summer only to see a case of turf toe slow his progress. Now Cooper is running with the second team while Ted Larsen prepares to start at left guard, a situation that’s left Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim hoping that Cooper can figure out a way to play when he’s less than 100 percent physically.

“The guy had a tremendous career at North Carolina, and to my knowledge was never hurt or ever had a significant injury. So now this offseason, he’s had to deal not only with a significant lower-leg injury, now he has a significant turf-toe injury. Turf toes can be major issues,” Keim said, via the Arizona Republic. “I think it’s going to come down to the fact that he’s going to have to feel comfortable getting back on the field and, on top of that, a guy who has never been hurt is going to have to understand how to play and manage playing in pain. That’s going to be awkward for him, but the most time he is out here … he’s just going to have to get used to it. He understands that. It’s sad because we all have such high expectations. I’m disappointed in the injuries; I’m not disappointed in the player.”

It’s hard enough for young players to transition to the NFL when they’re totally healthy, which makes Cooper’s situation a doubly difficult one. He needs playing time to improve, but the injuries make it hard to give him that time and leave him right back at square one.

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NFL doesn’t seem inclined to press Jerry Jones tampering charges

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It’s clear that there was an unfortunate conversation between Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

But it doesn’t appear the league is inclined to do anything about it.

Peter King of The MMQB writes this morning that there’s no sense the league is going to press for tampering charges, since the general impression is the General Manager was too “tipsy and waving his arms” for it to have been an actual football conversation.

That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have happened.

But on the scale of NFL justice, it doesn’t seem like this one is going to get anything more than a call to remind him to be careful what he does with his cell phone.

Kind of like Brett Favre.

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Ryan Lindley lands on Chargers practice squad

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Quarterback Ryan Lindley got his first shot in the NFL when Ken Whisenhunt was the head coach of the Cardinals in 2012.

Lindley’s second shot will come with the team Whisenhunt worked for last season. The Chargers have signed Lindley and eight others to their practice squad.

Lindley will see a familiar face at San Diego’s practices in offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who was an assistant under Whisenhunt during Lindley’s rookie season. He also brings a summer’s worth of insight into the Arizona offense, something that could come in handy for the Chargers as they prepare to open their season against Lindley’s old team.

Wide receiver Javontee Herndon, outside linebacker Cordarro Law, guard/tackle Jeremiah Sirles, wide receiver Torrence Allen, guard Craig Watts, defensive end Chas Alecxih, cornerback Greg Ducre and safety Adrian Phillips were also added to the practice squad. All eight were with the Chargers during training camp.

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Buccaneers claim Garrett Gilkey, sign Jeff Demps to practice squad

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The Buccaneers swung a trade for former Patriots guard Logan Mankins, but that isn’t the only new addition to their offensive line.

The team announced that they have claimed Garrett Gilkey off of waivers from the Browns. Gilkey was a seventh-round choice in Cleveland last season and has experience playing guard and tackle. With Mankins set at left guard, he’ll likely go into the mix of options to play at right guard in Tampa at some point this season.

The Bucs also started filling out their practice squad. Running back Jeff Demps is back in the organization after being waived and will try to use his spot on the auxiliary roster to show that he brings more than world class speed to the table.

Also returning to the team after being cut over the weekend are tight end Cameron Brate, quarterback Mike Kafka, linebacker Brandon Magee, defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo and kick returner Solomon Patton. Tampa still has four open spots on the practice squad.

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Report: Ryan Succop could sign with Titans Monday

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The Titans spent the summer pitting Travis Coons and Maikon Bonani against each other in a competition for the kicking job and Coons came out on top when Bonani was released over the weekend.

His prize may be short-lived, however. Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that the team has a strong interest in former Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop and that they could sign him on Monday.

The Titans worked out several veteran kickers last week before Succop was available, so it is hardly a surprise to see that they are thinking about replacing Coons. Succop was 22-of-28 on field goals last season and had 47 touchbacks in 91 kickoffs. He lost out to rookie Cairo Santos in Kansas City, a decision that may have been influenced by Succop’s scheduled salary of $1.95 million against that of an undrafted rookie.

Coons, an undrafted free agent from Washington, hit 2-of-3 field goals during the preseason.

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Orton deal leaves some scratching their heads

Kyle Orton AP

Kyle Orton quit on the Cowboys, forcing the team to eventually cut him and walking away with a full $5 million signing bonus despite putting in only two of five years of work.  Orton then one-upped Brett Favre, waiting until training camp and the preseason ended before going back to work, signing a contract with the Bills.

Some look at the deal that reportedly will pay Orton $5 million this year and scratch their heads.  He has created a perception that he doesn’t really want to play, and that he simply wants to cash large checks.

Despite a league-wide lack of talented quarterbacks, only the Bills took the bait, allowing Orton to breeze in a week before the season opener and giving him high-end backup money that could become low-end starter money, if EJ Manuel gets injured or doesn’t perform.

Looking at the bigger picture in Western New York, it’s not surprising that the Bills would roll the dice.  With a new owner coming and said new owner unlikely to keep the current football operation in place unless the team is playing so well that the fans wouldn’t accept a changing of the guard, the Bills need a break-glass-in-the-event-of-emergency option, in the event EJ doesn’t quickly take it to the proverbial next level.

The players may be skeptical that EJ will be the guy, what with the whole not-a-captain thing.  Which opens the door for the locker room to clamor for Orton, if Manuel regresses.

If/when Orton takes over, look for no one to display consternation or resentment over the fact that Orton swooped in at the last possible minute to get paid, without regard to whether he’s prepared to actually play.  But if he doesn’t play well, it’s fair to question whether Orton’s lack of desire to work from March through August has affected his ability to thrive from September to December.

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Bills name team captains, none of whom are E.J. Manuel

Detroit Lions v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Votes for team captains can be telling, as they’re a barometer of who leads in the locker room (if you trust the veracity of the count).

But sometimes, they can also be signs of pending change.

The Bills just announced their six captains for the coming season, none of whom are starting quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Cornerback Corey Graham, running back Fred Jackson, linebacker Brandon Spikes, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, defensive end Mario Williams and center Eric Wood received that honor.

Granted, Wood and Jackson have been around Buffalo much longer than Manuel, and have the kind of qualities you want in a leader.

But last year in Tampa Bay, quarterback Josh Freeman lost his C, and very quickly his starting job then his roster spot. There’s no indication that Manuel’s in that kind of jeopardy, but it might speak to how he’s viewed by his peers.

Assuming the voting is legitimate, of course.

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Mike Tice: Falcons’ O-line “won’t be punked over by anybody”

miketice AP

The toughness of the Falcons’ offensive line has been questioned often in the last year, most notably by owner Arthur Blank, who said he was bothered when none of the Falcons’ offensive linemen reacted to a hit on quarterback Matt Ryan. This year, Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice says his unit’s toughness won’t be in question.

Tice approved of the way his linemen went after defensive players who hit Ryan during the preseason, and he said opposing defenses had better know there will be no free shots at the Falcons’ quarterback this year.

“The one thing they won’t be, they won’t be punked over by anybody,” Tice said of his line, via ESPN. “That’s encouraging.”

The Falcons’ offensive line may be tougher, but it remains to be seen whether the Falcons’ offensive line will be better. The loss of left tackle Sam Baker will force Atlanta to start rookie Jake Matthews at left tackle this season, which means an unproven player is protecting Ryan’s blind side. The Falcons’ offensive line may not “be punked over,” but they still may struggle against good pass rushers.

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Ryan Shazier set to join exclusive club for Steelers

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No pressure, kid.

It’s not very often a defensive rookie starts the opener for the Steelers, but linebacker Ryan Shazier is about to do just that.

According to Ron Musselman of the Beaver County Times, Shazier will be the first since Kendrell Bell 13 years ago, and he went onto win defensive rookie of the year honors.

Prior to that, the last one was Jack Lambert in 1974, so Shazier realizes the expectations.

It’s been a dream of mine my whole life, to play in the NFL, and then the first game of my career is going to be a start,” Shazier said. “Words will not even be able to describe it. It puts me in nice company.”

Yes it does.

While their defense has been traditionally good, they’ve needed a shot of youth over there for some time. Shazier’s shown the athleticism and instincts needed, and should help immediately.

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Cowboys bringing in new defensive options

Lance Moore, C.J. Spillman AP

The Cowboys defense has been the subject of nothing but pessimistic prognostications, but the team is working to find improvement over the players they kept on the initial 53-man roster.

They’re looking to the NFC West for two additions. According to multiple reports, former 49ers safety C.J. Spillman and former Seahawks linebacker Korey Toomer will be signing with the team.

Spillman is the more experienced of the two players and has played in every game for the 49ers over the last three seasons. The majority of that work has come on special teams, although the Cowboys probably won’t be looking down their noses at anyone who might be able to help the defense. If the 49ers are lax about securing their signals, Spilman could also give the Cowboys an edge come Sunday in the opener for both teams.

Toomer was on waivers, but the Cowboys did not claim him and will instead be signing him directly to the 53-man roster. Injuries have kept the 2012 fifth-round pick from contributing, but his ability has led to plenty of offseason notice and, again, the Cowboys need all the help they can find.

The Cowboys will need to open two roster spots with the move of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to injured reserve/return one possibility.

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Chiefs claim Damion Square, sign nine to practice squad

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When you see a player move from the Eagles to the Chiefs, the impulse is to say that Chiefs coach Andy Reid made the move because of some knowledge he gleaned while he was still in Philadelphia.

That’s not the case with defensive lineman Damion Square, however. Square didn’t join the Eagles until Reid was already in Kansas City, so the Chiefs’ decision to claim him off of waivers wasn’t based on insider information.

Square played 10 games for the Eagles as a rookie and made four tackles. His addition gives them six defensive linemen and Square will likely work to earn snaps at end in the coming days. The Chiefs released tight end Richard Gordon to make room for him on the roster.

The Chiefs also announced that linebacker Nico Johnson, center Ben Gottschalk, running back Charcandrick West, guard Ricky Henry, wide receiver Darryl Surgent, wide receiver Fred Williams, fullback Jordan Campbell and defensive end Kona Schwenke have signed to the practice squad. The agent for former Bears linebacker Jerry Franklin said his client has also joined the practice squad in Kansas City, where Franklin will reunite with Chiefs (and former Bears) special teams coach Dave Toub.

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Monday morning one-liners

Andre Holmes, Shareece Wright AP

Five things the Bills want you to know about QB Kyle Orton.

Lamenting the departure of S Jordan Kovacs from the Dolphins.

LB Steve Beauharnais accepted an injury settlement from the Patriots.

Things have broken right for Jets WR David Nelson.

Ravens RB Ray Rice and S Will Hill have to work out on their own for a while.

How long will Bengals QB A.J. McCarron be sidelined by injury?

Browns QB Brian Hoyer will face the Steelers, a team he’s played for, in Week One.

WR Markus Wheaton is looking forward to playing a big role for the Steelers.

How quickly will QB Ryan Mallett be able to help the Texans?

Colts WR Reggie Wayne is preparing to be on the opposite sideline from former teammate Peyton Manning.

The Jags are working to get better on special teams.

The Titans know the benefits of a quick start.

Broncos CB Chris Harris is excited about getting back on the field.

The Chiefs are buying into QB Alex Smith.

It isn’t easy to project the Raiders 53-man roster way in advance.

Chargers CB Shareece Wright feels like he’s matured.

Newcomers will play a big role for the Cowboys this year.

The Giants defense will be tested right out of the gate.

Injuries to others have kicked up the pressure on the healthy Eagles linebackers.

The Redskins didn’t bring RB Lache Seastrunk back to the practice squad.

Bears coach Marc Trestman says he’ll spend more time with the defense this season.

Several players felt the impact of playing the Lions in the preseason.

C Corey Linsley is set for an integral role with the Packers.

Vikings rookie LB Anthony Barr is excited about his regular season debut.

Falcons DT Ra’Shede Hageman has been miked up a lot this summer.

The Panthers went with familiar faces on their practice squad.

WR Brandon Coleman hopes to make a good impression on the Saints in practice.

Breaking down the Buccaneers roster after cutdown day.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald is working to get back into the flow.

Revisiting 10 questions about the Rams.

49ers players were popular on the waiver wire.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson spent some time rooting for Wisconsin this weekend.

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