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Incognito “cheering on” the Dolphins


Suspended guard Richie Incognito may never play again for the Dolphins.  But he can’t be suspended from being a fan of the team.

I love these guys,” Incognito told Jeff Darlington of NFL Network.  “I talk to them every single day, so I feel like I’m out there with them in spirit.  I talk to the coaches after the game, the players.”

But Incognito remains not a part of the team, willingly agreeing to transform a four-game suspension without pay into an eight-game suspension, with only two the games unpaid.  The ongoing banishment results from his communications with tackle Jonathan Martin, who left the Dolphins in late October.  Martin also continues to be paid for not playing with the team.

“I’ve done everything to cooperate,” Incognito said.  “I’ve done my part, I’ve told my side, and that’s it.  I told them everything I know — all of the information I’ve got — and I’m just waiting for the report.  In the meantime, I’m just cheering my guys on.”

Incognito didn’t explain why he decided to accept pay checks from the Dolphins for the final two weeks of the season in lieu of forcing the Dolphins to bring him back or cut him.  If he’d been cut, he quite possibly would have been signed by a playoff contender.  And in nine NFL seasons, Incognito has never played in a playoff game.

The answer likely would have been that Incognito decided to go along in order to get along with the league office.  Though the Dolphins can do nothing more to him, he remains subject to the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.

Plenty of discretion can be exercised by the folks at 345 Park Avenue.  By helping keep the league out of the awkward position of having to welcome Incognito back before investigator Ted Wells finishes his report, Incognito could end up realizing a final outcome that allows him to return to the NFL in 2014 without any further suspension.

Until then, Incognito has every reason to support the Dolphins.  In addition to receiving another $470,000 or the final two regular-season games, he’ll get checks for any playoff games for which the team qualifies — and in which he doesn’t play.

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Brandin Cooks would like some clarity on bow and arrow celebration


The NFL eased the rules on celebrations this week, but shooting a bow and arrow may still be forbidden.

Last year the NFL fined and flagged players who mimed shooting a bow and arrow, saying there’s no place for pretending to have a weapon on the field. This year’s relaxed celebration rules still don’t allow anything relating to weapons, so it appears the bow and arrow is still outlawed.

Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks, who along with Josh Norman was among the players who employed the bow and arrow in celebrations, would like some clarity on whether or not it’s allowed.

It’s for God, so if that’s threatening, then I think we’ve got a problem, but I’m going to be respectful,” Cooks said. “If it’s a penalty, it’s a penalty. I’m not going to do anything to hurt the team.”

The NFL has specifically carved out an exception to the penalty against going to the ground for players who are going to the ground in prayer, so if Cooks says his celebration is religious in nature, perhaps the NFL will make an exception for him as well.

Regardless, even with the newly relaxed rules, players aren’t clear on exactly where the lines are drawn. There will be fewer celebration penalties this year, but the controversy isn’t going away entirely.

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Saints see “same old” Adrian Peterson


Fullback John Kuhn saw a lot of Adrian Peterson while Kuhn was with the Packers watching Peterson run against the Green Bay defense as a member of the Vikings.

The two players are now part of the same backfield in New Orleans, something Kuhn said on Thursday that he dreamed about while standing on the opposite sideline. Kuhn also said that Peterson looks like that player despite the passage of time and accumulation of injuries over the years.

“He looks the same way he looked when I was watching him from the other sideline for all those years,” Kuhn said, via “He looks like the same old AP, and I’m just excited to see him in the same team colors.”

One difference from the “same old AP” in Thursday’s practice was the way he factored into the offense as a receiver, something he didn’t do much in Minnesota. Coach Sean Payton said he looked comfortable and was “on top of the protections,” which are important traits for Peterson to have if he’s going to play a lot in an offense with Drew Brees at quarterback.

Peterson’s presence at the workouts also represented a different approach from the one he usually took with the Vikings as Peterson would often work out on his own during the voluntary stages of the offseason program. That’s likely part of the reason why Payton says the veteran has “picked things up well” and the Saints will hope that all continues to run smoothly once they’re doing more than running plays against air.

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Ryan Tannehill says ACL is fully healed and “totally normal”

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Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill chose to not have surgery on his partially torn ACL, and said that the ligament is healed thanks to stem cell treatments.

“Yeah, it’s really strong and ready to go,” Tannehill said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “I feel good. I’m feeling back to 100 percent.

Everything feels totally normal. I’m going to keep pushing to get better next year.”

Tannehill said he’d continue to wear a knee brace, and that he started feeling strong enough to rehab every day by January. Now, he said there are “no more checkpoints,” and he’s confident about going out in Organized Team Activities.

“I feel like I can make any cut,” he said. “I trust it. That’s the biggest thing, do you trust it? Are you able to move without thinking about whether something’s going to happen. Once it got to that point I felt great about it.”

Tannehill showed progress as a passer last year, and the injury late in the regular season left the Dolphins listless in the playoffs. And as long as he holds up, they should have a chance to build on that this year.

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Former NFL running back Michael Bennett gets five years in prison

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Former NFL running back Michael Bennett will spend the next five years in prison, after pleading no contest to felony charges of burglary and identity theft.

According to Filipa Ioannou of the San Francisco Chronicle, the 38-year-old Bennett took out $225,000 in loans in the name of his girlfriend’s parents. He broke into their home to steal paperwork he used to steal their identities and apply for the loans.

At the time of the incident, he was on probation in Florida for a wire fraud incident.

“The defendant used a position of trust within this victim’s family to exploit and take advantage of them,” district attorney Jill Ravitch said in a statement.

Bennett, the 27th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Vikings, was a former Pro Bowler. He also played for the Saints, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Chargers, and Raiders. He made the Pro Bowl after the 2002 season, when he ran for 1,296 yards. But injuries derailed his career after that, and he never rushed for more than 500 yards in any other season.

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It’s huge, jam-packed Friday PFT Live

The unofficial start of summer begins with, unofficially, one of the biggest PFT Live episodes we’ve had since the last time we had a really big episode of PFT Live.

As most of us embark on a three-day Memorial Day weekend (programming note: not us), a three-guest show gets you the football fix you need before you spend your time fixing up all sorts of grilled meats. We’ll speak live with former Jets and Browns coach Eric Mangini, along with Seth Wickersham of ESPN The Magazine, whose article about the Seahawks drew sharp reactions both from Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman and Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett.

The show also includes a two-part interview taped earlier this week with Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff. The segments come from a 70-minute, no-break sit-down from earlier in the week; the full audio has been posted as a PFT Live podcast, and the full video will be posted later today right here.

For right now, get to NBC Sports Radio at 6:00 a.m. ET, and then slide over to NBCSN for the two-hour simulcast.

For now, here’s a quick slice of the Dimitroff interview.

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Victor Cruz just wanted to be loved, feels it in Chicago

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It was clear from Victor Cruz’s recent remarks about his departure from the Giants that he wasn’t feeling loved by his old team.

His new one made sure he got the message.

During an appearance on ESPN Radio’s Waddle & Silvy show, the veteran wide receiver said he was greeted with open arms by the Bears.

“I just wanted to hear that I can have an opportunity to play,” Cruz said of the free-agent process. “To come and be a direct impact to a football team. And Chicago showed me a lot of love. . . . Everyone was adamant about how they felt I could contribute to the football team and be a factor immediately coming right in. And not just as a player but as someone who’s been around football a long time and can come in and provide an insight to different teams and different nuances of the game.

“And I think Chicago presented the best opportunity for me.”

The Bears certainly present that, as they lack proven options in the passing game after losing Alshon Jeffery to the Eagles in free agency. With former first-rounder Kevin White yet to make an impact, they needed targets for Mike Glennon or Mitchell Trubisky.

“I looked at that receiver room and I saw a lot of young guys and a lot of talent in there as well,” Cruz said. “A lot of guys that can benefit from just having someone like me in the room, to pick my brain and for me to tell them how I think we can get better.”

The 30-year-old Cruz said he has “a lot left in the tank” after seven seasons in New York, two of which were lost to knee and calf injuries. The Giants cut him in a cap-saving move this offseason, and he said yesterday that the team was trying to hold him down last year to make it easier to release him.

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Ravens holding Terrell Suggs out of OTAs


The Baltimore Ravens fully understand its May and they don’t need to see anything from Terrell Suggs on the field at this stage of the offseason.

According to Jamison Hensley of, the Ravens are holding the 34-year old linebacker out of the early stages of OTAs.

He probably could practice but I’m holding him out,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s in here training every single day and doing a great job on the conditioning part of it.”

Suggs sustained a torn biceps last October. Despite the injury, he missed just one game before returning the field and playing the rest of the season for the Ravens. He finished the year with 35 tackles and a team-high eight sacks.

The Ravens will need Suggs ready to go in September. They don’t need to see him on the field in May.

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Falcons visited league office to determine limits of OTA contact

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Last year, excessive contact during offseason workouts resulted in the Falcons losing a week of Organized Team Activities. This year, the Falcons left nothing to chance.

G.M. Thomas Dimitroff, appearing on a special 70-minute special edition of PFT Live, explained that he and coach Dan Quinn traveled to the league office to obtain specific guidance regarding the things that can and can’t be done during non-contact practices. The Falcons engaged in a comprehensive review of their offseason workouts with the NFL in order to determine the limits of the process.

For full details, check out the video. For the full, 70-minute interview with Dimitroff download and subscribe to PFT Live in Apple podcasts, audioBoom, and wherever else podcasts are sold. For free.

Money back guarantee.

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Report: Draft bust Justin Gilbert suspended four games


One of the biggest draft busts in recent NFL history has seen his career dealt another blow.

Former Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert, the eighth overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, has been suspended four games, according to Courtney Fallon of NFL Network. There has been no word on the reason for the suspension.

Of course, a suspension only matters if the player has a team to play for, and Gilbert doesn’t. The Browns got rid of Gilbert after only two seasons, and the Steelers cut him this offseason. He’s been unemployed since.

It remains to be seen whether any team will want to pick Gilbert up now, or in the future. It’s possible that this player with Top 10 talent could be done at age 25.

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Malik McDowell signs with Seahawks


The Seahawks have agreed to a contract with their top pick from this year’s draft.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team has signed defensive lineman Malik McDowell to a four-year deal. The Seahawks traded down three times before eventually selecting McDowell with the 35th overall pick.

McDowell had 24.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks at Michigan State and disrupted offenses on plenty of occasions during his time in East Lansing. There were also periods where McDowell was a non-factor, leading to critiques of his work ethic during the pre-draft process.

The best of McDowell would make him a good fit in the rotation up front for the Seahawks, who also added Nazair Jones to the mix in the third round.

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Jets sign Corey White

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The Jets continued retooling their secondary on Thursday.

The team announced that they have signed defensive back Corey White to their 90-man roster. They waived/injured wide receiver Brisly Estime in a corresponding move.

White has mainly played corner since entering the league as a fifth-round pick of the Saints in 2012. He spent last season with the Bills and had 30 tackles and two interceptions in 15 games with the Jets’ divisional mates. He’s also played with the Cowboys and Cardinals, although his time in Arizona came after Todd Bowles left to become the Jets’ head coach.

The Jets also used four draft picks on defensive backs and signed cornerback Morris Claiborne this offseason while cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Marcus Gilchrist were released.

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Buccaneers sign second-rounder Justin Evans

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The Buccaneers waited a while before signing their draft picks, but they have made quick work of it since getting the ball rolling.

First-round pick O.J. Howard signed his deal on Monday, three more picks agreed to terms on Tuesday and the team announced on Thursday that second-round safety Justin Evans has signed his contract as well. That leaves third-round wide receiver Chris Godwin as the only remaining unsigned pick in Tampa.

Evans started for Texas A&M the last two years and made an impression as a big hitter in the secondary for the Aggies. He also had four interceptions, so could wind up filling different roles for the Bucs depending on who else is on the field with him.

The Bucs also signed J.J. Wilcox as a free agent this offseason and the two newcomers will join Chris Conte and Keith Tandy in the mix for playing time at the back end of the defense.

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Sonny Randle, All-Pro receiver and college coach, dies at 81

Sonny Randle, one of the best players in the history of the Cardinals franchise and later a college head coach, has died at the age of 81.

A high school track star, Randle enrolled at the University of Virginia with little football experience and wasn’t even on the team as a freshman. But he made the team as a walk-on during his sophomore year and eventually became a star, leading the ACC in catches, receiving yards, kickoff return yards and all-purpose yards in 1958.

The Chicago Cardinals took early notice of Randle’s talent and used a 19th-round draft pick on him in 1958, even though he still had a year of college ahead of him. In those days, a team could draft a player who wasn’t done playing college football and own his rights until he finished his college career, and the Cardinals were happy to wait until he could sign a pro contract in 1959.

In 1960 the Cardinals moved to St. Louis and Randle became one of the top players in the league, leading the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns and earning first-team All-Pro recognition. He would have three more Pro Bowl seasons for the Cardinals after that, but injuries began to take their toll, and later in his career he bounced around the league in San Francisco, Dallas and Washington without matching the success he had in St. Louis.

Randle was a natural as a coach, starting while he was still an active player and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team noticed his speed and asked him to give baseball players instructions on sprinting techniques. Cardinals outfielder Lou Brock, who would go on to lead the National League in stolen bases eight times, said Randle helped him become a faster runner.

In retirement Randle became a college football coach and had a great deal of success early on, leading East Carolina to back-to-back Southern Conference championships. That got him hired at his alma mater, Virginia, but he struggled there and was fired after two losing seasons. He eventually got another shot as a head coach, at Marshall, but there were allegations of mistreatment of players, more losing, and he was fired again.

Randle found success later in life as a broadcaster, including working as a color commentator on Marshall games. He worked in broadcasting into his late 70s, retiring in 2014.

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Josh Norman: S–t is going to get really ugly in NFC East this year

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Cornerback Josh Norman is heading into his second season in the NFC East and the league office could be busy if it plays out the way he says it will.

Norman will meet up with old antagonists like Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham and the Redskins corner had some choice words for both of them in an interview with Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report. Norman said Bryant is “just a guy” and that Beckham is “a big kid” who isn’t as tough as he acts.

Those comments are likely to rile the two wideouts and Norman is predicting ugliness when the teams meet on the field later this year.

“Trust me when I tell you, it’s going to be bad blood this year,” Norman said. “You think the NFC East didn’t like each other before? This year right here? There’s going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I’m going to be honest with you: This s–t is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don’t give a f–k and I definitely don’t. And I know they don’t have that many people on the offense who do on their side.”

Norman was more complimentary of Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, but the main thrust of the interview was Norman’s insistence that he won’t be backing down from any fights this year. He said he wants his legacy to be one of a player that went about his business with “violence and ruthlessness,” which should guarantee a continued relationship with the league’s disciplinary office if nothing else.

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Odell Beckham won’t say if he’ll be at any OTAs

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A report that Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham would take part in Thursday’s Organized Team Activity was proven incorrect when the wideout failed to make the trip from Los Angeles to New Jersey for the voluntary workout.

Beckham wasn’t at any of the team’s first set of OTAs this week and he wouldn’t give an answer to Kim Jones of NFL Media when she asked if he’ll be at any of the remaining seven on the team’s calendar.

“I love my team and am excited about the season,” Beckham said before offering a no comment on his plans for the rest of voluntary work.

Beckham is heading into the final year of his rookie contract — the Giants have exercised their option for 2018, which is guaranteed against injury only — and that’s the first time when players are eligible to sign an extension with the team that drafted them.

Beckham hasn’t said anything publicly about his deal and isn’t required to be at any Giants practices until their mandatory minicamp in June. He told Jones he will be there for those workouts, which may also present an opportunity to hear his thoughts about a new contract.

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