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Jerry Jones: There’s nobody I’d rather have than Monte Kiffin

George Straight 2014 The Cowboy Rides Away Tour Press Conference Getty Images

The Cowboys’ defense has a lot of problems it needs to fix, but owner and General Manager Jerry Jones says there’s no one he’d rather have to fix it than defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

Jones indicated in an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas that he still believes in Kiffin, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and the rest of the Cowboys’ defensive staff.

“To fix what we’re doing, there’s nobody I’d rather have than him and Rod Marinelli, and where we are today to get this fixed over the next week, two weeks, three weeks,” Jones said. “There’s nobody I’d rather have than him to fix it. First of all, he knows what we’re doing better than anyone, and if there are adjustments to be made, he’s the right man for the job right now.”

So for anyone thinking the Cowboys should do this year what the Ravens did last year — fire an under-performing coordinator and attempt to turn the team around late in the season — Jones says that’s not going to happen. Instead, Jones said, he expects Kiffin to get to work at improving the defense to get the Cowboys to the playoffs.

“He takes it personally. It’s hard on him. It’s very hard on him. He’s been doing it a long time at his age and he’s had a lot of different experiences,” Jones said. “He doesn’t in any way reject the responsibility. As a matter of fact, he invites it on himself.”

Jones says the Cowboys are disappointed to now be a game behind the Eagles in the NFC East, but they’re still optimistic, knowing that if they win their last three games (including a Week 17 meeting with the Eagles), they win the division.

“That’s hard to take, and particularly hard to take under the circumstances. We start the weekend off thinking about really having a good situation as far as our next three ballgames are concerned, and now our backs are against the wall and we have a real challenge on Sunday,” Jones said.

And Kiffin will be the man getting the Cowboys’ defense ready for that challenge.

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Todd Bowles will be ready for camp after knee surgery

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles talks to the media after practice at the team's NFL football rookie minicamp, Saturday, May 9, 2015, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz) AP

Todd Bowles might be glad there are no more two-a-days, and not just for the welfare of his players.

Via Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, the Jets coach had a partial knee replacement on July 6, but is expected to be ready when the Jets report to camp and begin practicing this week.

The 51-year-old Bowles played in the NFL, so some wear and tear is expected. He joked about a sore knee when he got on a podium to talk to reporters earlier this spring, and wore a sleeve on one knee.

He’s not expected to be limited when practices start, keeping him from having to be listed on the physically unable to perform list.

We’ll see this week if he’s holding up better than 72-year-old Jerry Jones, as the Cowboys owner had his hip replaced last week.

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Bills release Chris Williams after failed physical

Chris Williams Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills released guard Chris Williams after he failed a physical with the team on Tuesday.

The former 2008 first-round pick of the Chicago Bears played in three games for the Bills last season after signing a four-year deal with the team last offseason. However, a back injury led to Williams being placed on injured reserve in October.

Williams hasn’t been able to perform at a high level consistently throughout his career. After five sub-par seasons with the Bears, Williams signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2012. He appeared in 19 games for the Rams over two season, including starting all 16 games in 2013 before moving on to Buffalo.

Richie Incognito appears to be the favorite to replace Williams as the team’s starting left guard this season.

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Eric Berry is cleared to practice on Wednesday

Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

And now it’s time for a little good news. Or a lot of great news.

The Chiefs have announced that safety Eric Berry has been cleared to return to practice on Wednesday, when the team launches training camp. The final decision came Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, coach Andy Reid and trainer Rick Burkholder will address the situation at a press conference.

Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December of 2014. He immediately started treatments, and he concluded the process in June.

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Brady offered to help NFL gather missing text messages

Phone Getty Images

If nothing else, the NFL can (when it wants to) master the art of public relations. Sure, the league screwed the pooch in the Ray Rice debacle last year, failing to realize that a video existed or that it would inevitably be leaked. But while the #DeflateGate episode has featured many very real flaws regarding the substance of the case, the league has done a great job of getting its messages out in a strong, clear way.

It started, of course, with the mistaken air pressure information from the initial letter to the Patriots, in which league executive Dave Gardi told the team that one of the footballs measured at 10.1 PSI — even though none of them were that low. It quickly continued with the leak of blatantly false information to ESPN that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were a full two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. This cemented the notion that someone deflated the footballs, leaving only two questions: (1) who did it?; and (2) who knew about it?

Months later, it became clear that the information was incorrect. But the damage already had been done, with a curiosity instantly morphing into a multi-million-dollar investigation and the Patriots thrown against the ropes from the outset of the fight.

The P.R. mastery continued with the release of the Ted Wells report, which created the initial widespread impression that the Patriots cheated, and that quarterback Tom Brady knew about it. By the time those in the media inclined to digest the 243-page opus began to notice the warts, the narrative had been locked in by those who admittedly didn’t bother to roll up their sleeves and start reading.

The coup de grâce came Tuesday morning, when the league leaked to ESPN that “Brady destroyed his cell phone,” locking in the notion that something sinister — and irreparable — had occurred. The press release announcing the decision likewise focused on the destruction of the cell phone, raising eyebrows from sea to shining sea and reinforcing for many the idea that Brady had something to hide, and that he tried to hide it.

But like the much longer Wells report, closer inspection of the Goodell decision undermines the primary conclusion. And, as usual, the Achilles heel can be found in a footnote.

Specifically, it can be found at footnote 11 on page 12: “After the hearing and after the submission of post-hearing briefs, Mr. Brady’s certified agents offered to provide a spreadsheet that would identify all of the individuals with whom Mr. Brady had exchanged text messages during [the relevant time] period; the agents suggested that the League could contact those individuals and request production of any relevant text messages that they retained. Aside from the fact that, under Article 46, Section 2(f) of the CBA, such information could and should have been provided long before the hearing, the approach suggested in the agents’ letter — which would require tracking down numerous individuals and seeking consent from each to retrieve from their cellphones detailed information about their text message communications during the relevant period — is simply not practical.”

In English, here’s what the footnote means: Although the text messages couldn’t be retrieved directly from Brady’s phone, his agents provided all of the phone numbers with which Brady exchanged text messages. His agents also said that the league could attempt to get the actual text messages from the phones of the people with whom Brady communicated, but the league refused to attempt to try, claiming that it would be too hard to track down the various people and to persuade them to cooperate.

How hard would it be? Goodell’s ruling points out that “nearly 10,000 text messages” were exchanged on Brady’s phone in a four-month period, but Goodell’s ruling doesn’t provide the total volume of numbers that sent text messages to or received text messages from Brady’s “destroyed” phone. At an average of 2,500 text messages sent and received per month, which works out to an average of 83 sent and received per day (with some people surely sending and receiving a lot of short messages to and from Brady), how many people was he actually communicating with?

More importantly, how many of those people are Patriots employees, how many are family members, how many are friends, how many are people who would have no reason to be saying anything to or hearing anything from Brady about this specific case?

“I very much look forward to hearing from Mr. Brady and to considering any new information or evidence that he may bring to my attention,” Goodell said last month. And so Brady admits that he has a habit of dismantling his phone when he buys a new one, he provides the full list of phone numbers with which the dismantled phone communicated, and Goodell nevertheless refuses to try to identify the persons with whom Brady exchanged messages or to obtain the actual content of them, despite the commitment to “considering any new information or evidence.”

The league arguably opted not to track down the text messages or to match them up with text messages that the league already harvested from other phones, like the one used by John Jastremski, because the league already had the silver bullet it needed to win convincingly in the court of public opinion.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone. 

It was expertly leaked to ESPN by the same league office that had expertly leaked the 11-of-12 footballs falsehood to ESPN.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

It’s a theme that will be adhered to even though Brady made available the phone numbers necessary to reconstructing the contents of the messages.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

The details don’t matter once the message takes root. For #DeflateGate, a couple of giant oaks are growing at the NFL’s equivalent of Toomer’s Corner. The first one? 11 of 12 footballs were two pounds under the minimum PSI.

The second?

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

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Jeromey Mincey a no-show for Cowboys camp

Unknown Getty Images

Dez Bryant will be at Cowboys training camp. At least for now, Jeremey Mincey won’t be.

Per multiple reports surfacing at roughly the same time (i.e., group text message from agent), Mincey has not reported to the team’s training camp in Oxnard, California.

Via Adam Schefter of ESPN, Mincey ranks 70th on the league-wide list of defensive ends. Efforts to get him a raise have been unsuccessful.

Mincey signed a two-year, $3 million contract last year, which included a $500,000 signing bonus. Since he’s still under contract, Mincey risks fines in the amount of $30,000 per day.

He’s due to earn a base salary of $1.5 million, with a cap hit of $1.75 million. Mincey started all 16 games last year, racking up six sacks.

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Antonio Smith will participate in training camp for Broncos

antonio-smith-ninja Getty Images

As Texas authorities continue to investigate Broncos defensive lineman Antonio Smith, the Broncos won’t continue to keep Smith on the shelf.

Smith will report to training camp, pending whatever prosecutors or the NFL decide to do about his situation.

“We’ve been in communication with Antonio and the league for the last couple of months,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “Based on those discussions, it’s appropriate for Antonio to be here and compete with the rest of the team as we begin training camp.”

While it’s unclear whether Smith will face child abuse charges in a case reportedly sexual in nature, it appears that he’s not destined for paid leave in the imminent future. Which means that any preliminary investigation conducted by the NFL has yet to result in a conclusion that it’s more likely that not that Smith engaged in any type of misconduct.

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NFL offered Brady “at least 50 percent” reduction in exchange for admission of guilt

MakeADeal

Before Roger Goodell the Arbitrator upheld Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four game suspension, Roger Goodell the Commissioner offered to make a deal with Brady.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL was willing to drop the suspension by “at least 50 percent” if Brady: (1) admitted to having knowledge of whatever John Jastremski and Jim McNally were doing to the footballs; (2) admitted to failing to cooperate with the Ted Wells investigation; and (3) apologized.

It’s believed that Brady’s suspension would have been dropped at least to two games, with the possibility of dropping it to one if he were sufficiently persuasive and profuse in his acceptance of guilt.

Although Goodell has ruled, settlement talks can continue because the litigation is just getting started. And if Brady were inclined to cry “uncle,” he could get the suspension reduced by two (or maybe three) games.

Unless the federal judge who ultimately handles the case tells Brady that he’ll definitely lose in court if he doesn’t take the deal, Brady likely won’t be settling. Even then, he may prefer not accepting responsibility and sitting out four games to confessing and cutting it in half.

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Jen Welter: Coaching in the NFL is a dream girls can have

Arizona Cardinals Introduce Levon Kirkland and Jen Welter Getty Images

New Cardinals coaching intern Jen Welter, the first woman to work on an NFL coaching staff, is hoping girls will see what she’s doing and dream of being not just the next Jen Welter, but the next Pete Carroll or Bill Belichick.

Welter said today that she fell in love with football as a little girl, but she didn’t think there was a future in football for women. Playing in a minor professional football league, however, made her think differently and begin to look for opportunities in coaching.

“I didn’t even dream that it was possible. And I think the beauty of this is that though it’s a dream I never had, now it’s a dream that other girls can have. I guess if that makes me a trailblazer, then I’m honored,” Welter said.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians noted that two of his previous interns were hired this year as full-time assistant coaches, and Welter may get that opportunity some day. And a generation of girls watching Welter today may one day live in a world where it’s not even news when an NFL team hires a female coach.

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John Mara: “Very disappointing” Pierre-Paul didn’t let team see him

John Mara AP

Jason Pierre-Paul kept the Giants at arm’s length while recovering from the loss of a finger in a fireworks accident.

And Giants co-owner John Mara thinks his franchise-tagged defensive end is receiving bad counsel.

Via Steve Serby of the New York Post, Mara said it was “very disappointing” that Pierre-Paul would not allow Giants officials to visit him in the hospital, and that he had “no idea” when Pierre-Paul would report.

“I don’t think JPP is receiving very good advice right now,’’ Mara said. “He has told people that he’s fine and he’s going to be ready to play, but until we see the hand, we’re just not sure.”

The Giants report to camp Thursday, though Pierre-Paul is not expected to be there after the severe injuries suffered on July 4th.

When asked his initial reaction to the news, Mara said it wasn’t fit for print.

“I think I may have used some language that I wouldn’t like my grandchildren to hear me use,’’ Mara said. “I could not believe, that here we haven’t even gone to training camp yet and we’ve lost two starters — one [left tackle Will Beatty] in the weight room and one to a fireworks accident. So it was more of a state of disbelief that I was in. I’ve been around a long time, seen a lot of things, . . . but this one was a shock.’’

Mara also wasn’t prepared to discuss how it would affect Pierre-Paul’s contractual future with the team. He hasn’t signed his $14.8 million tender and the team hasn’t rescinded it, though they did pull their long-term offer off the table.

But until they can get a good look at him, they won’t know how to proceed.

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Patriots: “Extremely disappointed” in Goodell’s Brady decision

Roger Goodell, Robert Kraft

Patriots owner Robert Kraft effectively threw up his hands in regards to the team penalties which stemmed from #DeflateGate.

But that doesn’t mean they’re going along quietly with the four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady, issuing a strongly worded statement regarding commissioner Roger Goodell’s refusal to overturn his own sentence, basically saying the league is assassinating Brady’s character.

“We are extremely disappointed in today’s ruling by Commissioner Goodell,” the team statement read. “We cannot comprehend the league’s position in this matter. Most would agree that the penalties levied originally were excessive and unprecedented, especially in light of the fact that the league has no hard evidence of wrongdoing. We continue to unequivocally believe in and support Tom Brady. We also believe that the laws of science continue to underscore the folly of this entire ordeal.

“Given all of this, it is incomprehensible as to why the league is attempting to destroy the reputation of one of its greatest players and representatives.”

Brady already has the NFLPA eager to fight on his behalf, and Kraft took the position of a good company man when he yielded to the league’s $1 million fine and loss of first- and fourth-round draft picks. Based on today’s statement, you wonder if he’d be so willing again.

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NFLPA calls Brady decision “outrageous”

outrageous

In response to the decision upholding his four-game suspension, Tom Brady has spoken. Through his agent.

Brady also has spoken, sort of, through his union.

“The Commissioner’s ruling today did nothing to address the legal deficiencies of due process,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement. “The NFL remains stuck with the following facts.”

The statement then lists the following facts, with bullet points: (1) the NFL “had no policy that applied to players”; (2) the NFL “provided no notice of any such policy or potential discipline to players”; (3) the NFL “resorted to a nebulous standard of ‘general awareness’ to predicate a legally unjustified punishment; (4) the NFL “had no procedures in place until two days ago to test air pressure in footballs”; and (5) the NFL “violated the plain meaning” of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors,” the statement asserts. “The NFLPA will appeal this outrageous decision on behalf of Tom Brady.”

The points raised in the statement surely will be reflected in the forthcoming legal documents from the NFLPA, which surely will not focus on Brady’s admission that he destroyed his cell phone on the same day he was due to meet with Ted Wells but on the overall flaws in the process.

But here’s the thing. If those are the arguments the NFLPA had previously planned to make on Brady’s behalf, why did he even testify at the appeal hearing? The points raised above could have been established via stipulation or other evidence. Having Brady admit that he destroyed the phone interjected an issue that will hamper Brady in the court of public opinion — and that could prompt a judge to conclude at a visceral level that justice requires upholding the suspension.

Although the destruction of the phone may not be relevant to any of the issues raised in the litigation challenging the suspension, skilled judges can find a way to get to whichever conclusion they believe is justified, even if the motivation to arrive at that destination comes from facts technically irrelevant to the specific issues presented in a given case.

In other words, if the presiding judge (whoever it ends up being) believes Brady’s hands are dirty, the judge will likely be able to find a way to rule accordingly, even if the written decision never mentions the destruction of the cell phone.

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Saints release Brodrick Bunkley

Mark Ingram, Brodrick Bunkley AP

The Saints have said goodbye to another member of last year’s defense.

Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley was released on Tuesday after failing a physical. Bunkley tore his quad last season and ended the year on injured reserve before taking a pay cut to remain with the team this offseason. The team also released linebacker Junior Galette this week.

Bunkley started 11 games with the Saints last season and spent the last three seasons as a regular on the team’s defensive line. He had 18 tackles and could help someone’s rotation as a run defender if he can show he’s healthy enough to contribute this season. The Saints

The Saints signed Kevin Williams this offseason to increase their options up front and 2013 third-round pick John Jenkins returns for a third year with the team.

New Orleans also placed safety Jairus Byrd, wide receiver Marques Colston and defensive tackle Glenn Foster on the physically unable to perform list. Byrd did limited work this offseason after last year’s season-ending knee injury while neither Foster nor Colston did much work during the spring. Cornerback Brian Dixon was also placed on the non-football injury list.

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Carlos Hyde, three other 49ers land on non-football injury list

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The 49ers will likely be looking for a bigger contribution from running back Carlos Hyde this season, but they’ll have to wait a little bit before he makes any contribution on the practice field.

Hyde was one of four 49ers placed on the non-football injury list on Tuesday. The 49ers didn’t reveal the reason for the move and Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the only health news about Hyde this offseason was a muscle pull in late May. Branch also reports that Hyde isn’t expected to be on the NFI list for long, so it doesn’t appear to be anything serious.

Branch offers the same report for the expected return of linebacker Aaron Lynch and offensive lineman Trent Brown, who join Hyde and wide receiver DeAndre Smelter on the list to open camp. Offensive lineman Daniel Kilgore was placed on the physically unable to perform list.

All five players are eligible to be activated at any point during training camp and will be ineligible for the regular season version of the lists when and if they are given the green light.

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Dontari Poe could miss start of season after back surgery

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers AP

The Chiefs defense will be without cornerback Sean Smith while he serves a suspension to start the season and they may also be without nose tackle Dontari Poe.

The team revealed, via the Associated Press, Tuesday that Poe had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back on July 15. Poe initially hurt his back during the team’s offseason workouts and aggravated the injury while working out on his own to prepare for training camp.

Trainer Rick Burkholder said that Poe is out indefinitely and his absence could stretch into the regular season. Jaye Howard will step into Poe’s spot on the defensive line with Mike DeVito and sixth-round pick Rakeem Nunez-Roches also possibilities to see time on the nose while Poe recovers from the surgery.

Whoever is in Poe’s place will be hard pressed to provide the team with the same kind of impact that Poe gives them up front. With trips to Houston and Green Bay sandwiched around a visit from the Broncos in the first three weeks, the Chiefs will need everyone on defense to step up to avoid a rough start to the season in the event Poe can’t go.

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Panthers sign two tackles

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Tackle Jonathan Martin chose to retire on Monday and the Panthers responded on Tuesday by adding a pair of players at the position.

The team announced that they have signed Tony Hills and Davonte Wallace while also releasing running back Darrin Reaves.

Hills was a fourth-round pick of the Steelers in 2008 and played four games for them in 2010 before moving on to stints with the Broncos, Colts and Cowboys. He started one game for Indianapolis in 2012 and saw action in four contests for the Cowboys last season. Wallace spent time with the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie last year, but has never played in a regular season game.

The new arrivals join Michael Oher, Mike Remmers, Nate Chandler and fourth-round pick Daryl Williams on the depth chart. Oher and Remmers are projected to be the starters come September.

Reaves ran for 78 yards on 31 carries and caught five passes in six appearances with Carolina last season.

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