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Vikings go deep to beat the Eagles 48-30

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The Vikings might have been short-handed, but their replacements came up big.

Playing without running back Adrian Peterson, his backup Toby Gerhart and half their secondary, the rest of the Vikings responded with an impressive 41-30 win over the Eagles.

Symbolic of the day for the Vikings was star defensive end Jared Allen. Not only did he have a pair of sacks, but he also stepped in to long snap on a punt after Cullen Loeffler was injured.

Their effort against an ostensible playoff team was a solid showing for embattled coach Leslie Frazier, who is under the kind of scrutiny you’d imagine when you follow a playoff berth with a 4-9-1 mark.

Matt Cassel was spectacular for the Vikings passing for 382 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a touchdown as well. Running back Matt Asiata had three touchdowns, which obscured his 1.7 yards per carry average (30 carries for 51 yards)

The Eagles dropped to 8-6 with the loss, snapping a five-game winning streak that had vaulted them to the top of the NFC East.

They had some flashes in the second half, but never got running back LeSean McCoy established. McCoy finished with just eight carries for 38 yards, as he was outrushed by Nick Foles (five carries for 41 yards).

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Steelers draft quarterback Josh Dobbs

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If Ben Roethlisberger really plans to retire soon, the Steelers may have just found his successor.

Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs went to the Steelers in the fourth round of the NFL draft, with the 135th overall pick.

Dobbs is perhaps the smartest quarterback in this year’s draft, an aerospace engineering major who says learning an NFL playbook should be a breeze after the kind of studying he’s done in college. On the field, Dobbs says he has learned a lot from picking the brain of his fellow Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning.

Although he wasn’t always a consistent passer at Tennessee, Dobbs has the physical tools and the smarts to be an NFL starter. He’ll be a third-stringer behind Roethlisberger and Landry Jones at first, but he may have a big role in the Steelers’ future.

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49ers make another trade, add another running back

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Before the 49ers made their first pick of the final day of the draft, they made a trade with the Broncos that landed them running back Kapri Bibbs.

Adding Bibbs didn’t completely satisfy their desire to bolster their backfield, however. They traded the 143rd and 161st picks in this year’s draft to the Colts for the 121st pick and used it on Utah running back Joe Williams.

Williams played an abbreviated season in 2016 after giving up football for part of the year. Williams said his decision to walk away from the game resulted from his need to deal with the death of his seven-year-old sister and the time off didn’t seem to hurt his game as he ran for the majority of his 1,407 yards and scored all 10 of his touchdowns after returning to the Utes in October.

Williams and Bibbs join Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, DuJuan Harris and Mike Davis in a crowded backfield. Given how much the 49ers have been trading during this draft — six deals thus far — that could change before the day is out.

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Samaje Perine heads to Washington

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Former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon received plenty of attention prior to and during the draft. To some extent, that diminished the amount of attention that could have been (and should have been) paid to fellow former Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine.

Perine, who set an NCAA single-game record with 427 yards in 2014, has exited the board in round four, and he’ll start his NFL career in Washington.

With Matt Jones on the block, it very well could be Rob Kelley and Perine sharing touches in 2017. Perine made it clear during a recent visit to PFT Live that he has no problem with doing that, given that he eventually did it with Mixon in Norman.

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Air Force draft hopeful Jalen Robinette required to serve on active duty

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Air Force receiver Jalen Robinette was expected to be drafted today, but a policy preventing him from deferring military service may change that.

The Air Force Academy said in a statement that Robinette or any other player drafted will be required to serve on active duty for two years, meaning his NFL career wouldn’t be able to start until the 2019 season at the earliest.

“The Air Force notified Academy officials [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military service commitments for cadet athletes,” the statement said, via the Denver Post. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve status, which would permit their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Last year the Department of Defense adopted a new policy that allowed service academy athletes to serve in the reserves, rather than active duty, so that they could begin their athletic careers immediately after graduating. That policy worked out well for Ravens receiver Keenan Reynolds and long snapper Joe Cardona, both of whom were allowed to go straight from the Naval Academy to the NFL.

But the policy handled players’ requests on a case-by-case basis, and while the Naval Academy allowed Reynolds and Cardona to play, the Air Force Academy is not allowing Robinette to play. Barring a change in policy, Robinette won’t play in the NFL until 2019.

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Jaguars take a chance on DeDe Westbrook

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DeDe Westbrook is in for a rude awakening.

The former Oklahoma receiver, with multiple behavior questions that surely caused him to drop, has landed in Jacksonville near the top of the fourth round of the draft. In Jacksonville, he’ll have both executive V.P. of football operations Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone laying down the law.

Westbrook tried to distinguish himself from guys like Joe Mixon at the Scouting Combine.

“I got in some trouble and I did some things as well, but I was never convicted of anything,” Westbrook told reporters in Indianapolis. “Like, I’ve been to jail, but all the charges [were] dropped. I have no pending charges or anything. So I think I’m just like you.”

Sure, but for the “been to jail” part. And also for the “kicked out of a job interview part.” During ESPN’s coverage of the draft, Todd McShay said Westbrook was actually ejected from one of the 15-minute team interviews.

Westbrook was accused in 2012 of throwing the mother of his two children to the ground. He was accused in 2013 of biting her arm and punching her in the face. Last year, he was arrested for criminal trespass.

There will be no gray away in the land of two-toned football helmets. Westbrook will either comply fully and completely with the standards of behavior that Coughlin and Marrone demand, or he’ll be gone quickly — possibly before they ever even sign him to a contract.

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49ers trade 2018 fourth-round pick for Kapri Bibbs and 2017 fifth-rounder

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New 49ers General Manager John Lynch has been an active trader in his first draft and that continued on Saturday.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the 49ers have sent a 2018 fourth-round pick to the Broncos in exchange for running back Kapri Bibbs and a fifth-round pick this year. The 49ers now have seven picks on Saturday while the Broncos have five left.

Bibbs ran 29 times for 129 yards in 12 games last season and also had two catches for 75 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown. C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker are at the top of the running back depth chart for the Broncos, but more help may be coming before the day is out.

Bibbs will join Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, DuJuan Harris and Mike Davis as backfield options for the Niners in 2017.

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Steelers bring Keenan Lewis in for a visit

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The Steelers added a cornerback to the roster on Friday when they drafted Cam Sutton in the third round and they’re spending some time on Saturday with one of their former third-round picks at the position as well.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the team has Keenan Lewis in for a visit. Lewis was released by the Saints last summer and visited the Steelers at that point as well, but concerns about his hip injuries helped keep a deal from coming together.

Lewis didn’t wind up playing at all last season and played in just six games in 2015, so it has been some time since he’s been a regular on the field. He has a good amount of starting experience, however, and the Steelers could give him an extended look this offseason if they feel he’s healthy enough to do something with it.

While Lewis visits, the Steelers have four more picks — one in each round — to use on the final day of the draft.

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No sign of Goodell as Day Three of the draft begins

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The NFL gradually is figuring out that no benefit is derived from having the Man Who Runs Big Shield absorbing relentless booing at the draft.

After using Ron Jaworski on Friday night in a failed effort to get the fans to go easy on Roger Goodell, the Commissioner was out of sight when the third day of the draft began. Instead, former Eagles standout (and current NFL executive V.P. of football operations) Troy Vincent led the way, with a pair of locally beloved Brians at his side: Westbrook and Dawkins.

That’s not how it happened last year in Chicago, when Goodell found out that the zeal for booing him had not subsided by Saturday. What we saw and heard this Saturday is how it should have been from the outset. The unforgettable scene from Thursday night in Philly would have been enhanced by having, for example, Sylvester Stallone get things started. Instead, the loud boos took away from it.

The biggest question for the 2017 draft is whether Goodell’s bosses will take away his podium privileges, permanently. Surely he realizes by now that it doesn’t help him, it doesn’t help the league, and it doesn’t help the draft for the Commissioner to continue to be the face of the event.

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Jaguars say Cam Robinson will compete at left tackle

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The Jaguars traded up one spot in the second round on Friday night in order to select Alabama tackle Cam Robinson.

It’s the second time the Jaguars have made a trade to acquire a tackle this offseason with Branden Albert coming to Jacksonville in an earlier deal with the Dolphins. Albert was pencilled in as the team’s left tackle, but he has not been at offseason workouts in a reported bid for a new contract.

Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell said after the pick that the Jags see Robinson as a left tackle as well and that they wanted to have their “bases covered” with Albert absent from voluntary work. He did leave open the possibility that Robinson could move inside as well.

“They’ll compete,” Caldwell said, via 1010XL. “They’ll compete for the spot. … I think we’ll leave [Robinson] at tackle for the time being. Never say never, but he’s got the skillset to move inside if that’s what you’re asking.”

That move inside could become more likely if Albert begins attending the offseason program and better offensive line play is vital for Jacksonville however they line up come Week One.

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Patriots trade with Chiefs for TE James O’Shaughnessy

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The Patriots have picked up a tight end ahead of the start of the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Patriots traded a fifth-round pick (No. 183 overall) to the Chiefs for tight end James O’Shaughnessy and a sixth-round pick (No. 216 overall) on Saturday morning. The Chiefs now have three fifth-round picks while the Patriots now have one pick in each of the final four rounds.

O’Shaughnessy was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and has played in 23 games for the Chiefs over his first two NFL seasons. He has eight catches for 86 yards.

O’Shaughnessy played behind Travis Kelce in Kansas City and the Patriots have a pair of tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen in front of him in New England. Both of them have missed time with injuries over the course of their careers, however, so O’Shaughnessy will give them some depth at the very least.

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Jake Butt makes $10,000 each time he doesn’t hear his name

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Most players who had expected to be drafted by now mutter expletives with each passing pick that doesn’t result in their name being called. Former Michigan tight end Jake Butt has less reason to dabble in words containing as many letters as his last name.

Via Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, Butt has a loss-of-value policy that began paying him $10,000 for each spot he fell in the draft, starting with the middle of the third round. By the end of the night, per Rovell, Butt had become eligible for roughly $150,000. (The math seems a little fuzzy, given that round three included 11 extra compensatory picks.)

Butt tore an ACL in the Orange Bowl. Rovell reports that Butt purchased a $2 million total disability policy with a $2 million loss-of-value policy rider before the start of his final season at Michigan. The loss-of-value protection cost $25,000; the report doesn’t mention the price of the base policy.

While it’s good that Butt has financial protection, he’s losing more than $10,000 in contractual value with each passing pick. Also, collecting on an insurance policy is slightly more difficult than getting cash from an ATM. Since money is the sole commodity of the insurance industry, insurance companies love to take it in — and they hate to pay it out. If they can find any plausible reason (and maybe a few implausible ones) to deny or limit payment, they will.

Besides, it’s always better to not have to collect on an insurance policy, since that necessarily means something less than ideal has occurred. For Butt, who played in a postseason game that didn’t have championship implications, the incremental risk resulted in a worst-case scenario. Given that both Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey passed on their bowl games and still went in the top 10, more college football players who are expected to make plenty of money for playing football after playing football for free for three or four years should consider making a business decision.

Eventually, someone is going to make that business decision not before the last game of the season, but before the first one, sitting out a full season before finally becoming draft eligible.

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D’Onta Foreman got his wish: A job close to home

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You’ve probably seen or heard by now my belief that professional sports drafts wouldn’t be tolerated in any other American industry, where the employee picks the employer and not vice-versa. One reason I don’t like them comes from the fact that a kid who has spent his whole life in one specific city and state should be allowed to stay as close to there as possible to play professional football if he wants, without being whisked several thousand miles away to a place where he has no family, no friends, no connections.

For former Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, it worked out the way he wanted.

“I’m so close to Houston,” Foreman told reporters on Friday night. “I’m from Texas City. I’m really close to Houston and my dad has always been a Texans fan. He’s a diehard Texans fan. As the process was going on — I played for Texas City and then I went to Texas — so why not be a Texan? That was my thing, just play for the Texans from where I’m from. I really wanted to just be a Texan. I don’t know, it was just kind of something that grew on me.”

Foreman helped himself out by embracing the chance to participate in the team’s annual local prospect day, a clusterfudge of candidates with ties to the area who don’t count toward the limit of 30 visits per year — and who may work out at the team’s facility.

“My agent told me they wanted to have me for the area day,” Foreman said. “I was glad to be there. I actually had a workout the day before, but nothing was going to make me miss that. I really wanted to be there and just showcase my talent. I really wanted to be a Texan, so that’s something that I wouldn’t pass up.”

The Texans weren’t going to pass him up, either. They had him as the best available player when the time came to use pick 89.

“I do a little bit of a wish list,” G.M. Rick Smith told reporters, “guys that I would just would love to have on our football team, and he’s one of those guys that was starred, that was on that list because obviously you watch him here, it’s close and you see — I joked with him in Indy in our interview and I said, ‘Hey, that might have been the quietest 2,000 yards I’ve ever seen,’ and his response was, ‘Well, I did win the Doak Walker Award, so it wasn’t too quiet.’ He’s a good young man and we are excited to have him as a part of our organization.”

With Deshaun Watson and D’Onta Foreman joining an offense that already has DeAndre Hopkins, Lamar Miller, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller, fans could finally be excited by the team’s ability to gain yards and score points.

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Report: Randy Gregory failed another drug test, NFL future in doubt

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Two years after the Cowboys chose Randy Gregory in the second round of the NFL draft, his career may be over because of repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Gregory is currently serving a suspension of at least one year, and in order to be reinstated he will need to demonstrate that he has taken steps toward treatment for his drug problem. However, TMZ now reports that Gregory failed another drug test and then blew off the NFL officials who attempted to contact him in connection with his status in the league’s drug program.

Another failed drug test makes it a near certainty that Gregory won’t be reinstated at the end of his current year-long ban. And if he won’t participate in the league’s drug treatment program, he’ll never be reinstated.

According to TMZ, Gregory has now failed at least seven drug tests and people close to him are concerned about his well-being and don’t know if he’ll ever return to football.

Although Gregory was considered a Top 10 talent as a pass rusher, he dropped until the late second round of the draft because of concerns about off-field issues, concerns which included a positive drug test at the 2015 Scouting Combine. He was suspended twice last season, first for four games and then for 10 games, before playing in the final two games of the season only to get suspended a third time, for a full year.

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Patriots pick up option on Brandin Cooks deal

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The Patriots traded a first-round pick for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, so you knew it wasn’t going to be a one-year rental.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Patriots have in fact picked up the 2018 option on the former first-rounder’s contract.

This was as obvious as any of the option decisions around the league, and they’re all due next week.

You can keep an eye on all of them here, in one spot.

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Cowboys deny report they want to trade Orlando Scandrick

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One of the 32 owners of NFL Network is denying an NFL Network report about his team’s trade plans.

Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones said an NFL Network report that he was looking to trade cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

“Absolutely not. That’s completely erroneous,” Jones said. “Orlando is a valued member of our team.”

Even after the denial from Jones, Ian Rapoport said on NFL Network this morning that “the situation is not quite over yet.” So it bears watching, even as Jones insists there’s nothing to it.

Scandrick told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “It’s out of my control. If they don’t want me, I’m just waiting it out.”

The Cowboys made two additions at cornerback yesterday, drafting Chidobe Awuzie from Colorado in the second round and Jourdan Lewis from Michigan in the third round. But head coach Jason Garrett said that was simply a matter of upgrading at a position where you can never have too many good players, and not a commentary on the 30-year-old Scandrick, who has spent his entire career with the Cowboys.

“We felt good about coming in here and getting some depth at that position,” Garrett said. “We don’t really know where everyone is going to start out right now. We just want them to get in here and get to work.”

When the full squat gets together, Jones says those two rookies will be working with Scandrick.

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