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PFT’s Week 15 picks

AP

Last week was a good week.  But not as good as it could have been.

With a 14-1 mark through Sunday’s games and a 3-0 record in the disagreements with MDS, a Cowboys win would mean a 15-1 week, a four-game sweep of MDS, and a six-game deficit with three weeks to go.

But the team that once went 15-1 for a full season thumped the Cowboys, and the gap was only narrowed by two games.

Through 14 weeks, MDS now has an eight-game lead.

For the week, I was 14-2 and he was 12-4.  For the year, he’s 138-70.  I’m 130-78.

This week, we differ once again on four games.  All of our prognostications appear below.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Chargers can put a lot of points on the board, but Peyton Manning will carve up a weak San Diego defense, and the Chargers won’t be able to keep up. Denver takes another step toward home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Chargers 28.

Florio’s take:  The sun won’t be shining on a night when critics will have another chance to stick the narrative that Peyton Manning struggles in the cold where the sun doesn’t shine.  A week after thrashing Eli Manning’s team, Philip Rivers and company will be reminded that Peyton’s squad currently is a lot better.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 42, Chargers 24.

Redskins at Falcons

MDS’s take: This terrible game is interesting to draft watchers and to friends and family of Kirk Cousins, but not to anyone else. Atlanta is bad, but they haven’t totally quit on their season like Washington has, so I’ll go with the Falcons.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 27, Redskins 17.

Florio’s take:  A pair of 2012 playoff teams currently are jockeying for the first pick in the draft.  The Rams, who hold Washington’s first-round selection, are rooting for their old NFC West rivals to wake up and take down Kirk Cousins and company.  If anyone actually shows up at the Georgia Dome, they may be pleased with the results.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Redskins 13.

Bears at Browns

MDS’s take: Jason Campbell and Josh Gordon can put up some points against this Bears defense, but I expect Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall to put up more points against Cleveland’s defense.

MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Browns 21.

Florio’s take:  Two of the best young wideouts in the NFL meet in Cleveland.  Josh Gordon will once again have a big game in a loss.  Alshon Jeffery will once again have a big game in a win.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 24, Browns 20.

Texans at Colts

MDS’s take: Injuries are killing the Colts, and I think they’re going to be one-and-done in the playoffs. But they’re still better than the Texans, who are marching toward the first overall pick in the draft.

MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Texans 20.

Florio’s take:  If it wasn’t for teams that currently are in Houston or that used to be in Houston, the Colts would be winless since beating the quarterback who used to be in Indy.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 28, Texans 17.

Bills at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Credit the Jaguars for the way they’re continuing to play hard after a lot of teams would have quit, but I think it comes to an end on Sunday, when EJ Manuel will thrive on the scaled-back offense that the Bills’ coaches are giving him.

MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 24.

Florio’s take:  For the second straight week, the Bills visit a team that started the season 0-8.  For the second straight week, the Bills will fall victim to that team’s stunning turnaround.

Florio’s pick:  Jaguars 24, Bills 10.

Patriots at Dolphins

MDS’s take: In one of this week’s few games matching up two teams with realistic playoff hopes, the Patriots will remind the Dolphins who owns the AFC East.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take:  A couple of teams in the AFC East get together in a game that profoundly impacts a couple of teams in the AFC North.  The Dolphins will continue an unlikely run to January, which is bad news for the Ravens — but good news for the Bengals, who are trying to catch New England for the No. 2 seed in the conference.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 28, Patriots 27.

Eagles at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Eagles are rolling right now, and although the Vikings have been playing competitive football, they don’t have the personnel on defense to stop Philadelphia’s offense. This should be an easy win for the Eagles.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 27, Vikings 14.

Florio’s take:  The three-win Vikings have three opportunities to play spoiler.  Spoiling the next-to-last game at the Metrodome will be an Eagles team that has won five in a row and is 5-1 on the road.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 27, Vikings 20.

Seahawks at Giants

MDS’s take: The Giants’ defense couldn’t stop the Chargers last week and they won’t be able to stop the Seahawks this week. Throw in a couple of Eli Manning interceptions against a great Seahawks defense, and this game won’t be close.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Giants 14.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks make their first of two visits to MetLife Stadium.  Next time, they’ll be playing an AFC team there.  And it won’t be the Jets.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 40, Giants 21.

Saints at Rams

MDS’s take: The Saints bounced back nicely from their blowout loss to the Seahawks by blowing out the Panthers. New Orleans will win another blowout on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Saints 34, Rams 16.

Florio’s take:  Taking the Saints out of the Superdome increases the chances of beating them.  Putting them in a different dome against a so-so team decreases the chances of beating them.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, Rams 20.

49ers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Give Greg Schiano a lot of credit for the way he got his team to turn things around late in the season, but Mike Glennon is going to struggle against a tough 49ers defense, and San Francisco will win.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Buccaneers 10.

Florio’s take:  What once appeared to be a cakewalk for the Niners becomes a tougher task.  Tough enough for the Niners to stumble.  If Jim Harbaugh thought last week’s win over the Seahawks was a three-and-a-half-hour root canal, he’ll think this week’s game is a three-and-a-half-hour encounter at the bottom of the pile with Steelers center Cody Wallace.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 17, 49ers 16.

Cardinals at Titans

MDS’s take: Arizona’s defense will miss injured cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, but the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Titans offense still won’t be able to do much of anything. The Cardinals will win and keep their playoff hopes alive, although they look like they’re going to be the best team to miss the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, Titans 10.

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals make only their second trip ever to Tennessee, where they lost in 2009.  This time, they get the job done.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 24, Titans 21.

Jets at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Jets’ offense had a surprisingly effective game last week against the Raiders, but the Panthers are not the Raiders. This will be a blowout.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 34, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  The advice given by Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to his twin brother Rex  regarding beating the Panthers consisted of this:  Get a time machine, go back to 2006, and sign Drew Brees.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Jets 17.

Chiefs at Raiders

MDS’s take: Give Kansas City credit for consistency.  The Chiefs have been destroying bad teams all season long. They’ll do it again on on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 36, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take:  The Chiefs are locked in to the No. 5 seed.  The Raiders are locked in to irrelevance.  Advantage playoff team.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Raiders 20.

Packers at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Packers are pessimistic about Aaron Rodgers‘ chances, and that makes me pessimistic about the Packers’ chances. Although the Cowboys’ defense is bad enough that a Matt Flynn-led Packers offense can score some points on them, the Packers’ defense is every bit as bad, and a Tony Romo-led Cowboys offense will score more.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Packers 28.

Florio’s take:  Jerry Jones said there’s no one he’d rather have running his defense than Monte Kiffin.  Maybe Jones meant to say he’d rather have no one running his defense than Kiffin.  Anyone could coordinate the Cowboys defense to hold down the Packers, if they again don’t have Aaron Rodgers.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Packers 14.

Bengals at Steelers

MDS’s take: If Antonio Brown had kept his foot inbounds on the Steelers’ wild last play on Sunday, Pittsburgh would be right in the thick of the playoff race and this would be a very big game. Instead, the Steelers are all but eliminated, and the Bengals should cruise toward the AFC North title.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Steelers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals roll back into Pittsburgh with the better team and better prospects for the balance of the season and beyond.  The bigger question is whether Cincy can finally win in the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 17, Steelers 14.

Ravens at Lions

MDS’s take: The NFC North is wide open for the Lions, and yet the Lions aren’t playing like a team that wants to take it, with losses in three of their last four games even though they had fourth-quarter leads in all three. And yet I believe the Lions are going to show up on Monday night and make a statement against a Ravens team that is also fighting for a playoff spot.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Ravens 21.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens know how to get the playoffs.  The Lions know how to not get to the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 30, Lions 27.

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Justin Pugh: Giants are “ready to win tomorrow”

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The Giants returned to the playoffs last season after making major changes to their defense during the offseason and reaping the benefits of those moves during the regular season.

They didn’t go on the same kind of spending spree this offseason, but they did make a couple of tweaks to an offense that fell short of reaching the desired results last year. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Rhett Ellison are both new to the unit and guard Justin Pugh cited them when asked if the Giants are set to win tomorrow or if it will take longer than that.

“We’re ready to win tomorrow,” Pugh said on NFL Network, via the Giants’ website. “I think that you look at the NFC, we’ve brought some guys in, bringing in Brandon Marshall, a guy who’s my size, we brought in Rhett Ellison, a tight end. His numbers aren’t going to jump off the board, but he comes in and blocks. If you look at our personnel last year, we were, 95 percent of the time, three wide receiver sets [with] one tight end, one running back. Now we can switch up personnel. We can get in multiple formations. I think our offense is going to be better, and our defense returned everybody besides Johnathan Hankins. So I think we’re going to be a pretty good team to play.”

A more versatile scheme should be a good thing for the Giants, but questions remain about how well Pugh and his fellow offensive linemen will fare after the Giants left the group alone this offseason. Pugh said left tackle Ereck Flowers is “light years” ahead of where he was last season and similar growth for the entire unit would provide even more reason to believe in the Giants’ chances in 2017.

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Rob Gronkowski gets in his workout at “random high school” in Texas

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It is not often that Rob Gronkowski goes unnoticed, but he managed to sneak into a Dallas-Fort Worth high school for his workout Tuesday. He documented his workout with two friends.

“We snuck onto some random high school, baby … Because we gotta get that work in … No days off, baby … Let’s go,” the Patriots tight end said in a video.

He thanked the school, Southlake Carroll, “for a great workout” as he exited the field through a gate.

Southlake, an affluent Fort Worth suburb, might take issue with “random high school.” It has created a football powerhouse at its only high school, annually competing for a state championship. Quarterbacks Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy and Kenny Hill played there.

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Chip Kelly: Titans wanted Marcus Mariota, not interested in trade

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Chip Kelly disputes reports from 2015 that the Eagles offered the Titans a package of picks and players to trade up and select Marcus Mariota. Kelly, who coached Mariota at Oregon, said the Titans made it clear all along that they were holding on to the No. 2 choice.

That question didn’t come up very often,” Kelly told Adam Schefter’s Know Them From Adam podcast, via Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media. “With Tennessee, they weren’t moving off the pick. Rightly so. They were looking for the same thing we were, to get themselves a really top-quality quarterback. It really wasn’t like…. We didn’t really get into a conversation of what we can offer or what we can’t offer, because they made it known that they really weren’t looking to trade the pick. 

“That’s all speculation that’s out there, you hear stories that ‘we offered this; we offered that.’ We didn’t offer anything because they weren’t taking any offers for it.”

The Titans ended up selecting Mariota, who has shown promise as a potential franchise quarterback. The Eagles traded Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford in March 2015, which didn’t work out for either Bradford or Kelly.

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Report: Clinton Portis was ready to kill a man who lost his money

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Former NFL running back Clinton Portis wouldn’t have been the first player to have lost most of his career earnings.

But he came perilously close to making things much worse.

According to a story by Brian Burnsed of Sports Illustrated, Portis was considering killing one of his former managers who was responsible for losing millions of dollars.

Portis was sitting outside a building with a gun, and had to be talked out of shooting the man by a friend.

“It wasn’t no beat up,” Portis told the magazine. “It was kill.”

He added that if he hadn’t been calmed down before seeing the man: “We’d probably be doing this interview from prison.”

Portis made $43.1 million during his career with Denver and Washington, but most of it was either spent or lost through bad investments and alleged withdrawals from his accounts without his consent.

He’s filed multiple lawsuits against former financial advisers, and was caught up in a Ponzi scheme. He filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and acknoweldged that he spent too lavishly during his heyday.

“Portis was on a different level,” former teammate Santana Moss said. “He didn’t think about tomorrow.”

At least someone intervened before he made matters worse, or his tomorrows might have been spent behind bars. Portis is now living in an apartment in Virginia, where he does some television work for his old team.

“Most people would have offed themselves if they had to deal with what I had to deal with,” Portis said. “Life is so much clearer after coming out of that storm.”

The story features a number of disturbing details, and should serve as a cautionary tale to other players.

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Bruce Smith wants to mentor Myles Garrett

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After watching film with Myles Garrett on draft day, Bruce Smith’s observation, according to Garrett, was that the former Texas A&M star is “slow off the ball.”

Smith said it was intended as constructive criticism. He wants to help Garrett live up to expectations.

“There were occasions in which he was just a little slow off the ball, and that fraction of a second of being slow off the ball is the difference of whether that offensive lineman is set in a certain position to be able to take you on,” Smith told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “If you get off the ball simultaneously to that ball being snapped, sometimes you’re going to beat that offensive lineman out of his stance, and then on other occasions, it’s going to be the difference of whether you get a sack, forced fumble or just a hit on the quarterback or just a hurry.

“Then there are some other areas where the play went away from him, and those are situations that he potentially could have had an impact on the play. But I think sometimes we as players take for granted that someone else is going to make the play, and we can’t do that.”

The Hall of Fame defensive end wants to mentor the No. 1 overall pick. Smith likes what he has seen from Garrett both on and off the field, believing that Garrett can become something special.

“He’s got all of the physical talents, the God-given talents,” Smith said. “He just needs to learn how to be a pro now. There’s a difference between being a college player and being a pro in the NFL. That’s the process that he has to undergo. We all had to go through it.

“He’s going to be successful. It’s just the level of success that he reaches could be contingent upon the decisions that are made for him at an early stage of his career. The advice, the coaching, the tutelage that he gets right now could determine whether he’s an impact player in his first or second year or his fourth or fifth year.”

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Michael Vick throws eight touchdowns in inaugural flag football game

AP

Michael Vick is still capable of putting up big numbers.

The former Falcons quarterback led his team of retirees to a 64-41 win over the team led by wide receiver Terrell Owens in last night’s debut of the American Flag Football League in San Jose.

Via JuliaKate Culpepper of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Vick threw for 547 yards and eight touchdowns. And that may or may not really mean anything within the context of flag football (one game, small sample size, and we haven’t seen opposing quarterback Jimmy Clausen’s stat line), but it’s a big number so it’s the kind of thing that catches your eye.

Amazingly, numbers like that weren’t enough to win him MVP honors for the game. That would be former Bears, Bills and Buccaneers tight end Evan Rodriguez, who had nine catches for 210 yards and four touchdowns.

“Tonight’s game was a massive success and displayed how exhilarating and competitive flag football can be when played by the best athletes in the world,” AFFL founder Jeff Lewis said. “Every player was very dedicated to this brand of football out on the Avaya Stadium field. They had that competitive spirit it takes to be a pro athlete – Michael and Evan’s performances were outstanding.”

Last night’s game was a test-drive for the launch of the league next year, and in the middle of the summer when nothing else is happening, if they can put an entertaining product on the field, people will probably watch it.

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Will Zachary Orr pass a physical?

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So why did recently-retired linebacker Zachary Orr unretire? As one league source put it on Wednesday morning, “He found a doctor who told him what he wanted to hear.”

The real question is whether Orr will find a doctor with one of the NFL’s various teams that will do the same thing. If the Ravens’ doctors thought Orr could have played without an unacceptable degree of risk due to a rare neck condition that could result in a serious, life-changing injury, he wouldn’t have been “forced” to retire in January.

Whether Orr will be able to continue his career will hinge on whether a doctor is willing to sign off on Orr’s ability to perform in a safe and adequate manner, without risk of a serious neck injury. Although some doctors will say whatever the person paying them wants the doctor to say, most won’t be inclined to put their name on a document that could become the gateway to a debilitating injury.

Surely, the Ravens would have liked to keep Orr around. He went from undrafted free agent to the team’s leading tackler in 2016. In Baltimore, doctors were able to set that aside and opt for a recommendation aimed at ensuring the player’s long-term health and safety. If any other doctor with any other team comes to a different conclusion, it will be interesting to hear the reasoning for it, because that doctor will essentially be saying the Ravens doctors got it wrong.

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Could other RFAs follow Zachary Orr’s lead?

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Linebacker Zachary Orr’s decision to try to play football in 2017 was an unexpected one based on his January announcement that he was halting his playing career because of a neck injury and the timing of that announcement has left him as an unrestricted free agent at this point in the offseason.

That probably would not have been the case had Orr waited a little longer to share his initial plan for the future. Just before Orr announced his “retirement,” there was a report that he and the Ravens were discussing a long-term contract and, failing that, Orr was set to be a restricted free agent who likely would have received a tender offer from Baltimore.

As a source with knowledge of the situation told PFT, the team did not do that because Orr said he was retiring. The source also asked “what would stop [another] player from doing that to escape” restricted free agency?

Players could try it, but the Ravens or another team could shut the loophole by simply tendering them at the lowest level regardless of their stated desire to stop playing. The player might not sign the tender, but if they aren’t going to play for another team because their original club would still hold onto their rights if they file retirement paperwork from the league.

The Ravens didn’t do that in this case, which may mean Orr winds up playing somewhere else in 2017 and should mean that teams approach any similar situations differently in the future.

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Report: Zachary Orr to visit Lions

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Linebacker Zachary Orr reversed course on Wednesday morning when he announced that he wants to play in 2017 after saying earlier this year that he planned to retire from the NFL due to a neck injury.

Orr was set to be a restricted free agent with the Ravens, but the team didn’t tender him a contract as a result of his initial plan to walk away from the game. That means he’s an unrestricted free agent now and his announcement has led to a quick response around the league.

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports that Orr will visit with the Lions on Thursday and that he has heard from eight teams since his appearance on NFL Network Wednesday morning. Medical checks will likely be a big part of his visit with Detroit and anyone else who brings Orr in for a meeting in the coming days and weeks.

The Lions drafted Jarrad Davis in the first round in April and he’s slated to start in the middle of the Detroit defense. Tahir Whitehead is expected to start on the weak side, but was limited this spring because of a knee injury. Paul Worrilow, Antwione Williams and 2017 fourth-rounder Jalen Reeves-Maybin are also in the mix at linebacker for Detroit.

 

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St. Lucie Mets already cashing in on Tebow effect

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The St. Lucie Mets already are witnessing the Tebowmania, even if he still hasn’t played a game for the Single-A affiliate of the New York National League team.

Tuesday’s debut, which was rained out, had 500 advance tickets sales, via David Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Typically, the St. Lucie Mets have no advance ticket sales.

“This is to see if he can walk on water,” said one fan who showed up for the game that wasn’t played due to the weather.

And so the ice cream stand that was opened for the first time this season will have to wait a day, as will the tables of No. 15 T-shirts at $28 a pop. Likewise, Tebow will have to wait until a Wednesday doubleheader for the next step in what started last year as a One-Man Fantasy Baseball Camp.

I’ve got a long way to go,” Tebow said, via Hyde. “But I’ve come a ways, too.”

Not as far as his recent elevation would suggest, however. As Hyde notes, Tebow’s .220 batting average with the low-A Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies was higher than only 10 other players in the entire league. Tebow also struck out 69 times in 64 games, against low-A pitching.

The real question is whether he can do enough to pass the eyeball test at this level to go the next one. Eventually, chances are he’ll land against a level of competition that puts him not only on the wrong side of the Mendoza line, but also dangerously close to the Blutarski line.

Wisely, Tebow isn’t obsessing over that possibility.

“It’s a scary place to get caught up in, the ‘Where’s this going to lead?,’ ‘What’s going to happen to my future?’, ‘What is the next day?'” Tebow said Tuesday, per Hyde. “I get today. Tomorrow’s not promised. I’m going to make the most of today.”

The mindset is admirable. The circumstances remain daunting. For as much as he has overcome to get to this point, it’s about to get a whole lot harder. As long as it remains profitable for the minor league teams that will see an influx of cash thanks to Tebow’s presence, that may not matter.

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Drew Brees wants to “save the game of football” with flag football

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A bunch of retired guys played flag football in San Jose last night, in hopes of creating a product someone will watch on television.

But Saints quarterback Drew Brees is aiming even higher with his attempt to popularize the safer version of his sport.

According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, Brees is launching a co-ed youth flag football enterprise called the Football ‘N’ America League with an eye toward the future of the game.

“I think that this has the opportunity to really save the game of football, honestly,” Brees said. “I think we’re filling a void that is much-needed.

“We felt like, you know what, we have the opportunity here to really create what will be the premier youth co-ed flag football league in America.”

Brees said he came upon the idea while coaching a kids team in San Diego the last few offseasons. The league will begin in New Orleans and around Louisiana this fall, before expanding to other states next year.

Brees played flag football as a kid in Texas and didn’t play tackle until his freshman year in high school And he’s turned out OK. But now that he has four kids, he’s even more sure of the need for such programs.

“I would not let my kids play tackle football right now, because I don’t think that’s necessary, and I don’t think it’s as fun at this level, and I just think there’s too much risk associated with putting pads on right now at this age,” Brees said. “So how can I still allow them to enjoy the game and learn about the game and develop a passion for the game and enjoy everything it has to offer? Well, flag football.

“I think that flag football is the perfect alternative to the parents who have concerns about concussions and the injuries around football. Because you’re still able to enjoy the game of football, but in a very fun, safe and yet competitive environment. And you can still learn all the same life lessons and values from a game of flag as you would tackle.”

Between concussion concerns and the cost of equipment and insurance, it’s possible that the move toward flag football becomes a trend anyway. But while Brees is getting in this is as a business venture, he also raises some valid points, and his support can only help the movement.

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Report: LeGarrette Blount gets 50K if he weighs 240-245 pounds at start of camp

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After running back LeGarrette Blount signed with the Eagles in May, he said that he was the “weight I need to be at” when asked about his physical condition.

He reportedly has some financial incentive to get to the weight the Eagles want him at for the coming season. Field Yates of ESPN reports that Blount will make $50,000 if he weighs between 240-245 pounds when he reports to training camp next month.

Blount was listed at 250 pounds while with the Patriots last season, which doesn’t leave him with a tremendous amount of weight to drop if he was around that number this offseason. A minimal drop in weight makes sense as Blount’s greatest value to the Eagles comes as a battering ram and the team wouldn’t want to make him less effective in that role by losing too much of his bulk.

Players start reporting to Eagles camp on July 24 with the first full-team practice set for July 27.

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Dak Prescott joins special edition of PFT Live on Wednesday

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The curious decision of FOX Sports to completely dump online written content carries at least a grain of non-stupidity: People are consuming video content via the Internet more frequently and zealously than ever.

The challenge for those generating the video content will be to provide something that’s relevant and interesting, and not simply a couple of dudes fake-yelling at each other about the latest low-hanging fruit of the day. Here’s something that should be relevant and interesting: Later today, we’ll be posting an interview with Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott’s appearance will occur in conjunction with the campaign dubbed “Ready. Raise. Rise.” It’s a Bristol-Myers Squibb initiative aimed at raising awareness of Immuno-Oncology, a rapidly-evolving area of research that seeks to offer renewed hope for people with cancer. Dak lost his mother to colon cancer, and chances are that everyone reading this has had a close family member or friend who has battled cancer in some form or fashion.

Stay tuned to PFT throughout the day for the interview to be posted. That’s not a deliberate device for getting you to keep coming back all day long looking for it. But if you do, I won’t complain.

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Todd Downing “pleasantly surprised” by Marshawn Lynch

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The true measure of how much running back Marshawn Lynch has left in the tank after sitting out the 2016 season will come once the Raiders take the field in September, but it sounds like what the team has seen so far is a bit more than they may have been expecting.

During an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan, Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing was asked about the impression the running back made during his offseason work with the team.

“This is being as genuine as I can be,” Downing said. “He has pleasantly surprised me at every turn. It’s been really neat to be around him. … So everything that we’ve seen on him thus far — and, of course, we’ve only been in pajamas out there practicing — but what we’ve seen has been fantastic. And I’m as excited as the rest of Raider Nation to see what he’s got.”

Lynch will have to continue to impress once he’s out of pajamas and into full pads, but his past success and the quality of the Raiders’ offensive line provide reason to believe Downing won’t have to seriously downgrade his read on Lynch down the line.

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Zachary Orr trying to make a comeback

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Zachary Orr is making a comeback, after initially retiring because of neck issues.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Ravens linebacker has received new word from doctors that the neck and spine condition which caused him to call it a career in January isn’t as bad as initially thought, and that he can continue to play.

Orr was the Ravens leading tackler last year, and they were talking to him about a contract extension at the time he retired.

He was also a restricted free agent, and the Ravens didn’t offer him a tender (which made sense considering they thought he was retired). As such, he’s now an unrestricted free agent, free to talk to anyone.

Teams will want to do their own (thorough) checks to make sure they’re comfortable with his condition, but Orr immediately becomes one of the most interesting names on the market at the moment.

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