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PFT’s Week 17 picks

Charles Tillman, Eddie Lacy AP

After a pathetic, season-worst 6-10 showing by yours truly and a four-game sweep by MDS, I was tempted to try to guess which team he’d pick for each of the 16 games to end the regular season, and then hope for the best.

But the spirit of this game is to try to get as many games right as possible, even if my outcome from last week would suggest that the better approach for me would be to select a winner — and then to do the opposite.

This week, we disagree on three games, which means MDS will win the regular-season competition by at least nine games.

For the year, MDS has generated a record of 157-83.  I’m 145-95.

The only good news is that it all resets to 0-0 for the postseason picks competition.

Panthers at Falcons

MDS’s take: Give the Falcons credit for playing competitive football against good teams, as they did on Monday night against the 49ers. This Atlanta team hasn’t quit. But the Panthers’ defense should shut down the Falcons’ offense as the Panthers clinch the NFC South.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Falcons 10.

Florio’s take:  The Panthers need a win to nail down the No. 2 seed.  An immature, undisciplined team would stumble in this spot.  If nothing else, the 2013 Panthers have proven that they are both mature and disciplined.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Falcons 20.

Packers at Bears

MDS’s take: As of the time I’m making this pick I don’t know if Aaron Rodgers is playing, so this is a tough one. But I’ll go with the Bears to clinch the NFC North in a high-scoring affair.

MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Packers 27.

Florio’s take:  If Aaron Rodgers can play, the Packers have a chance to peak in January.  If they can get to January.  If Rodgers plays on Sunday, the Packers will get to January.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 34, Bears 30.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Ravens suffered a huge letdown last week against the Patriots, and I see the defending champions’ season ending on Sunday in Cincinnati.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals need a win and some help in order to secure the No. 2 seed.  The Ravens need a win and some help to extend their streak of playoff appearances to six.  While the Bengals are unbeaten at home, the Ravens have the greater incentive and enough talent to capitalize.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 20, Bengals 17.

Jaguars at Colts

MDS’s take: The Jaguars aren’t going down without a fight, but the Colts showed last week against the Chiefs that they’re real contenders. Indianapolis will win this one and head into the playoffs with a full head of steam for a likely rematch with Kansas City.

MDS’s pick: Colts 34, Jaguars 20.

Florio’s take:  Indy is building some momentum in the hopes of advancing beyond the wild-card round.  The Jaguars have shown enough progress to create plausible hope for 2014 — if they can find a decent quarterback.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 30, Jaguars 20.

Jets at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Last week the Dolphins laid an egg, while the Jets kept fighting despite having no shot at the playoffs. This week, however, I think the Dolphins’ pass rush will get to Geno Smith and Miami will win a low-scoring game and the right to play in the first round of the playoffs, probably at Cincinnati.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  After his first season as Jets coach, Rex Ryan gave the finger to a Miami MMA crowd.  On Sunday, in perhaps his final act as Jets coach, he can give a figurative finger to Fins fans by knocking the home team out of the playoffs.  Rex will pull out all the stops, and the Dolphins will follow two wins in games they should have lost with two losses in games they should have won.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 23, Dolphins 20.

Lions at Vikings

MDS’s take: After appearing to be in control of the NFC North for much of the season, the Lions have gone into free fall. The fall will continue in Minnesota.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Lions 17.

Florio’s take:  The final game at the Metrodome coincides with what likely will be the final game of Jim Schwartz’s tenure and Lions coach.  Adrian Peterson won’t let his team exit its 31-year home with anything other than a victory to cap a lost season.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 31, Lions 23.

Bills at Patriots

MDS’s take: Buffalo isn’t going anywhere, but the Bills’ defense is a lot better than most people realize, as the Dolphins found out the hard way last week. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Bills pull off the upset, but I expect the Patriots’ defense to shut down the Bills’ offense to win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 14, Bills 10.

Florio’s take:  The Pats still have a shot at securing the No. 1 seed — and also at having to play in the wild-card round.  Either way, a home loss wouldn’t be the best way to embark on a playoff run in a wide-open AFC.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 38, Bills 20.

Buccaneers at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints are a bad road team but a good home team. That’s a bad thing to be if you’re going to the playoffs as a wild card, but in New Orleans on Sunday, the Saints will clinch a playoff berth.

MDS’s pick: Saints 27, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Saints could end the day as the No. 2 seed.  The Saints also could end the day out of the playoffs.  If Carolina wins earlier, forcing the Saints to leave the Superdome in the wild-card round, they may be tempted to not delay the inevitable.  Coach Sean Payton won’t let that happen.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Buccaneers 13.

Redskins at Giants

MDS’s take: Both of these teams stink, but Washington is a much lower level of stink. This game will be ugly, and the Giants will win.

MDS’s pick: Giants 23, Redskins 16.

Florio’s take:  The Giants hoped to finish their season with a win at MetLife Stadium in February.  They’ll have to settle for finishing their season with a win at MetLife Stadium in late December.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 28, Redskins 17.

Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers dug a deep hole for themselves with their lousy start to the season, but they’re playing good football now. They probably won’t get all the help they need to make the playoffs, but the Steelers will take care of business against the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 34, Browns 13.

Florio’s take:  If the Steelers get to the playoffs, they’ll be tough to beat.  But not as tough as they’ll be to beat in the game that can help get them to the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 34, Browns 17.

Texans at Titans

MDS’s take: The Texans will clinch the first overall pick in the draft by losing to the Titans. And draft order is the only reason to pay any attention to this game.

MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Texans 13.

Florio’s take:  New Houston meets old Houston at a time when both Houstons have a problem too big for one meaningless game to fix.  If Mike Munchak is leaving after more than 30 years with the Oilers/Titans franchise, he’s going out with a win.

Florio’s pick:  Titans 24, Texans 17.

49ers at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals have had an impressive season, and there’s a good team being assembled in Arizona. I think the Cardinals will make a big statement by defeating the playoff-bound 49ers, although Arizona won’t get the help it needs to make the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  Arizona finishes laying the foundation for a run at the top of the division in 2014.  The 49ers will be happy to get out of Arizona healthy enough to function the following weekend.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.

Broncos at Raiders

MDS’s take: With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs on the line, Denver will cruise to an easy win in Oakland.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Raiders 14.

Florio’s take:  With 265 yards passing on Sunday, Peyton Manning emerges from the 2013 season with the record for passing touchdowns and passing yards.  With more points than the Raiders on Sunday, the Broncos emerge from the 2013 season with the No. 1 seed, again.  What they do with it remains to be seen.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 41, Raiders 20.

Chiefs at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Chiefs are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC and are therefore the only playoff team with nothing to play for. As a result, I think they’ll take it easy on Sunday and the Chargers will cruise to a win.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 30, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take:  By the time this one starts, the Chargers will know whether a win gets them in the playoffs.  Chances are they’ll be done.  But with the Chiefs likely resting starters, the Chargers will finish on the right side of .500.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 31, Chiefs 21.

Rams at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Rams are playing competitively and this won’t be easy for the Seahawks, but Seattle will be highly motivated to win this one and clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 31, Rams 20.

Florio’s take:  Last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals gave the Seahawks a much-needed wake-up call.  They’ll answer the bell by roughing up the Rams and locking up the No. 1 seed.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 27, Rams 10.

Eagles at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Even with Tony Romo I’d lean toward the Eagles to take this one, but with Romo’s back injury this looks to me like a game the Eagles take to clinch the NFC East.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 17.

Florio’s take:  With or without Tony Romo, the Cowboys don’t have the defense to once again hold Philly to three points — especially without Sean Lee available.  Another year, another 8-8 finish, another loss in the de facto NFC East championship game.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 27, Cowboys 23.

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Gerald McCoy: People are about to see how good Josh McCown is

Josh McCown AP

As training camps spring to life across the NFL, hope springs eternal in a league defined by its parity.

Praise of players and teammates also comes easily as everyone is “way better than last year,” “ready to take a step forward” or “poised for big things this season.”

One such player getting glowing reviews from teammates is Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown.

According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, defensive end Gerald McCoy believes the league isn’t giving McCown enough credit for his ability.

“I don’t know how much people really know how good Josh McCown is,” McCoy said. “I think a lot of people are about to see how good he really is.”

“He’s (35), but with the amount of time he’s played, he’s 28. His mental capacity is as old as it gets. He’s been around for a while. His leadership ability is incredible, and he’s going to lead this team.”

McCown is the favorite to start for the Buccaneers this season. Entering his 12th season in the NFL, it would be only McCown’s second opportunity as a full-time starter. He also started 13 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.

However, McCown parlayed a strong season in relief of Jay Cutler in Chicago into a starting job with the Buccaneers. McCown appeared in eight games with five starts for the Bears last year. He completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns and one interception.

While it helps having arguably the best receiver tandem in the league in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, McCown took full advantage of the opportunity and earned his chance in Tampa Bay. With Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins among the targets McCoy will have to throw too, the league should find out if McCown can live up to the praise this season.

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Report: Josh Gordon went to rehab after latest arrest

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Getty Images

It’s been a tumultuous offseason for Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon that has seen him suspended (pending an Aug. 1 appeal) for another substance-abuse policy violation, ticketed for speeding and arrested for a DUI charge.

However, Gordon has apparently taken his latest infraction more seriously and has begun to seek help for his string of problems.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Gordon checked into a rehab facility following his DUI arrest in North Carolina earlier this month. Gordon is still expected to report to training camp with the Browns on Friday and the team currently has no intention of releasing him.

The move to attend rehab won’t do anything to help him avoid suspension. It likely won’t help him avoid further possible punishment stemming from the DUI arrest either. But it may be the first step toward Gordon getting his life in order to be able to return to football at some point in the future.

Or Gordon won’t learn from his mistakes and he’ll follow in Tanard Jackson’s footsteps instead. No matter what choice Gordon makes, the decision is up to him. Checking into rehab and admitting he has a problem is a good first step.

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Seahawks, Lynch have been talking new deal for four months

Lynch AP

Running back Marshawn Lynch wants a new deal from the Seahawks.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, there’s a “zero percent chance” he’ll show up for the start of training camp without a contract that replaces the final two seasons of his four-year, $30 million contract.

Talks have been occurring on and off, according to the source, for four months.  The Seahawks have resisted due to concerns that giving a player a new contract with two years left on his current agreement would set a bad precedent.

If that’s the case, it’s hard to see how rewarding the offensive player most critical to the team’s success in the last two years would set a bad precedent.  If, moving forward, other players with two years left on a contract want new deals because Marshawn Lynch got one, the easy answer is, “You’re not Marshawn Lynch.”

Besides, if Lynch waits until he has one year left on his contract, he may have far less value to the team than he does right now.  Indeed, the Seahawks may decide by next year to move on to someone else at tailback.

And so Lynch won’t be moving in to camp until he gets a new deal.  Given his personality and temperament, there’s a chance he’ll stay away as long as it takes, even if it never happens.

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Report: Bon Jovi’s ownership group has explored building Toronto stadium

Bon Jovi Getty Images

While the potential Bills ownership group fronted by Jon Bon Jovi may currently be saying all the right things about keeping the team in Buffalo, Bon Jovi and company reportedly have explored the possibility of moving the team to Toronto.

According to the Associated Press, the Bon Jovi group has conducted a feasibility study regarding the construction of a stadium in the Toronto area.  The study identified at least three potential sites.

Andy Bergmann, who oversees the group’s stadium plan, denied that any feasibility study has been conducted.

“We have undertaken engineering and design studies,” Bergmann told the AP via email.  “All of our work has been about a generic site and whether it was more rural or urban. We are aware of potential sites in the western NY and southern Ontario region, and are in fact meeting with two Buffalo area developers next week.”

Despite reports that the Bon Jovi group wouldn’t move the team, many aren’t buying it — including Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

“It is my personal opinion that any bid associated with the Toronto group has a long-term interest in moving the team to Toronto,” Poloncarz told the AP.

Any group that would move the team can’t say it would move the team until the time comes to actually move the team, for a variety of reasons.  So none of the groups looking to buy the team will admit they want to move the team, and the question then becomes whether anyone believes the statements of intention to remain in Buffalo.

Few Bills fans believe that Bon Jovi would keep the team in Buffalo.  The latest report from the AP will do nothing to change the minds of those who are convinced that on a steel horse the franchise will ride to Toronto.

I knew if I babbled long enough I’d eventually come up with a way to force a Bon Jovi song reference into this thing.

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Seahawks to sign David Gilreath, C.J. Davis

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Following the retirement of Sidney Rice and a handful of roster moves earlier on Thursday, the Seattle Seahawks had two open roster spots ahead of the start of training camp on Friday morning.

The Seahawks have apparently found the two players that will fill those vacancies prior to camp getting underway.

According to his agent, Neil Schwartz, the Seahawks have agreed to terms with guard C.J. Davis. In addition, the team has signed receiver David Gilreath to a one-year deal, per Mike Garafolo of FOXSports.com.

Davis appeared in seven games for the Carolina Panthers in 2010, and seven games for the Denver Broncos in 2012.

Gilreath has been an NFL vagabond during his previous three seasons. He has played for seven teams – the Oakland Raiders being the most recent pit stop. The Seahawks will be his eighth team.

Gilreath appeared in three games for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012 with one carry for seven yards.

The additions will get the Seahawks to their roster limit of 90 players.

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Steelers waive LB Kion Wilson, sign rookie CB Lew Toler

Pittsburgh Steelers helmets AP

The Steelers have signed undrafted rookie cornerback Lew Toler and waived veteran inside linebacker Kion Wilson. The roster moves were disclosed in the NFL’s Thursday transactions.

Wilson, 27, appeared in seven games for Pittsburgh in 2013, notching 12 tackles. He started at left inside linebacker in Weeks Two and Three before being replaced by Vince Williams.

Toler (5-11, 189) played collegiately at Western Michigan and Rutgers, recording 180 tackles and picking off eight passes in 43 games (41 starts). The 23-year-old Toler is one of nine cornerbacks on the Steelers’ roster.

The Steelers begin training camp on Friday.

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Seahawks don’t seem to be inclined to give Lynch a raise

Lynch AP

It was quite the coincidence, or perhaps not a coincidence at all, that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch called former teammate Michael Robinson while Robinson was spending several hours on the air at NFL Network and told Robinson that Lynch plans to hold out.

Lynch has been making noise for weeks about wanting a new deal, but he has yet to take concrete action toward that end.  He showed up for a mandatory minicamp amid reports he wouldn’t.  Now, Lynch potentially is throwing a Hail Mary pass in the hopes the Seahawks will blink.

It would be a surprise if they do.  As the Seahawks see it, Lynch has completed half of a four-year, $30 million contract.  He has two years left, and by the time those two years have expired, if not sooner, the team may begin to devote a sizable chunk of Lynch’s touches to Christine Michael or Robert Turbin.

Lynch knows that, given his age (28) and the hits he has absorbed, now is the time to get one last payday.  By next year or the year after, he’ll be at best among the smattering of veterans fetching $3.5 million annually, at best, on the open market.

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Saints host is a Parcells impersonator

Parcells Getty Images

Two years ago, Hall of Famer Bill Parcells nearly served as the interim head coach for the Saints.  In 2014, Parcells will be at Saints training camp.

Sort of.

West Virginia coal baron Jim Justice, the billionaire who owns The Greenbrier, is a Parcells doppleganger.  And Justice has been known to have some fun with it.

“I’ve been in airports and people walk up and say, ‘Coach Parcells, can I have your autograph?‘” Justice told Tom Corbett of USA Today.  “And I say, ‘Oh, sure.’  And I sign, ‘Best wishes, Bill Parcells’ — because it’s the happiest they can be.  [Parcells] is a lot better looking guy than I am.”

Justice said he plunked down $30 million of his own money to build a practice facility for the Saints.

“The Saints are paying for their rooms and their meals,” Justice said.  “Basically, that’s it. The Saints didn’t put money in this deal.”

It’s a bit surprising the Saints are even doing that, given the potential economic impact on a resort like The Greenbrier, both during camp and after.  Other resorts could be tempted to do the same thing in the future, luring an NFL team to town for an old-school camp experience that either saves the team a lot of money, or possibly puts some extra money into the team’s coffers.

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Tony Romo: You’ll see the best version of me in the next 4-5 years

tonyromo AP

A 34-year-old coming off back surgery isn’t exactly the perfect description of an athlete entering his prime. But that’s what Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo says he is.

Romo told reporters today that he thinks he’s going to be better than ever this year, and for a few more years to come.

“I feel personally like I’ve just started to come into the player that I wanted to be six, seven years ago,” Romo said, via the Star-Telegram. “I think over the course of the next four or five years, you’ll see the best version of me that I’ve had throughout my career. That’s for a lot of different reasons, but I really believe that. I believe that will show as we go forward, so I’m excited about that.”

Romo had a strong season statistically last year, with 31 touchdown passes and only 10 interceptions in 15 games. Given the sorry state of the Cowboys’ defense, Romo may have to be even better than that this year if the Cowboys are going to break their streak of three straight 8-8 seasons and reach the playoffs.

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Peyton disappointed fans can’t attend Broncos camp

peyton AP

The Broncos have closed training camp to fans this year because of construction at the team facilities, and Peyton Manning says that makes this year’s camp different.

“As great as these facilities are going to be, the disappointing thing is that just due to the safety issues we couldn’t have fans here, and I’m disappointed in it – it was not the same today,” Manning told Tom Jackson on ESPN.

Manning said he and his teammates have always enjoyed hearing the fans cheering them on at practice, and this year that won’t be the case.

“You need fans out here in training camp. The energy, you get into the padded practices, those third and fourth padded practices, just a little shout out from the fans . . . it makes a difference and I missed it today,” Manning said. “I know we’re really going to miss it as these training camp practices go on. I just want them to know it will be missed and it was an unavoidable situation.”

The Broncos are planning some open practices at Mile High, but that’s not the same as the day-in, day-out close contact with fans that teams have when they open up training camp.

“We’ve got a couple practices at the stadium. Hopefully we’ll have a great turnout there,” Manning said. “But fans, to me, are a part of training camp, and this will be different this year, and it’s sad for me. Especially these Broncos fans, I know these are some loyal fans, I know fans that have been planning vacations around training camp. I’ve seen them for the past two years and [John] Elway said they’ve been here since he’s been playing so that tells you the kinds of fans we’re playing for and we’re sorry not to see them this year.”

The Broncos say this year’s construction will improve the facilities and make future training camps a better experience for fans. In Manning’s view, that will also make training camp a better experience for players.

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Seahawks waive two players, sign WR Morrell Presley

Paul Richardson AP

The Seahawks signed rookie wide receiver Morrell Presley and waived second-year offensive guard Jared Smith and rookie tight end Chase Dixon on Thursday, according to the NFL’s transactions.

Presley (6-4, 225) tried out for Seattle in the spring. He played at UCLA (2009-2010) and California (Pa.) (2012). As PFT’s Curtis Crabtree noted, Presley — whose addition was first reported yesterday — adds a little more size to the club’s receiving corps after the retirement of Sidney Rice.

Smith, a seventh-round pick of Seattle in 2013, was waived/injured. According to the club’s website, Smith sustained a leg injury last year.

Dixon is an undrafted free agent out of Central Arkansas.

The roster moves leave the Seahawks with 88 players, leaving them two open roster spots in case they wanted to, you know, add another running back.

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Marshawn Lynch will be holding out

Marshawn Lynch AP

The Seahawks managed to coax running back Marshawn Lynch to show up for a mandatory minicamp amid concerns he would hold out.  Now, Lynch won’t be showing up for training camp.

Former teammate Michael Robinson, who’s currently working for NFL Network, said on the air moments ago that Lynch said he’ll hold out.

The move exposes Lynch to $30,000 per day in fines, along with (after five days) partial forfeiture of his $6 million signing bonus.

In 2012, Lynch signed a four-year, $30 million contract.  He’s due to earn $5.5 million in 2014, with a cap number of $7 million.

The move comes a day after the Chiefs bumped the 2014 pay of Jamaal Charles from $3.9 million to $8.3 million, via a two-year extension that puts him under contract for four years, $28 million.

Lynch’s holdout represents the first significant negative development for the defending Super Bowl champions, who gave long-term contracts in the offseason to safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman.

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Browns may use Manziel in a specialty package

Manziel AP

For a guy who lived through the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow debacle in New York, Browns coach Mike Pettine doesn’t seem to be concerned about his quarterback competition in Cleveland becoming a potential two-man show.  In fact, it looks like that’s what Pettine wants.

During his interview with Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, Pettine said that the team is considering using Manziel as a Wildcat-style change-of-pace in his rookie year.

We’ve already talked about it,” Pettine said regarding the possibility of using both Manziel and Brian Hoyer in the same game.
“We’ve already installed elements of it in the spring.  We ran some of the zone-read stuff in practice and Kyle [Shanahan] incorporated some of the mobile quarterback elements of what he did in Washington.  We’re still going to go back to the beginning in pads, but as we get going, some of the stuff that’s more game-plan-specific that we don’t want to show, we might work on in our walk-throughs as opposed to a public practice.”

Pettine wisely didn’t point to the Sanchez-Tebow experiment as justification for doing it.

“That’s how Colin Kaepernick got his start in the NFL, as a package quarterback,” Pettine said of the former 49ers backup.  “On the other side of the ball, I’ve seen that give defenses some trouble.  I think there’s positives and negatives to it.  You’re taking your starter off the field.  You have his rhythm and continuity to take into account, but at the same time defensively you’re now forcing a team to basically come up with two game plans.  I mean, there are pluses and minuses to it and it’s something I’m sure will be discussed at some point.”

In theory, the Jets wanted Tebow because of the pressure that preparing for two quarterbacks puts on a defense.  And if former offensive coordinator Tony Sporano had any faith at all in Tebow, the Jets may have actually used him.

The Jets and Pettine nevertheless got a first-hand look at the challenge of dealing with two quarterbacks in September 2012, when Kaepernick rushed five time for 50 yards and a touchdown coming off the bench and showing the Jets how to properly employ a two-quarterback system.

If the Browns could pull it off, the dilution of the ability of the opposing defense to fully prepare for each guy could help both guys thrive.  The only downside is that, as Manziel has more and more success, more and more fans will be clamoring for him to be something other than a part-time player.

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Marcell Dareus passes physical

Marcell Dareus AP

Bills defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Alan Branch passed physicals on Thursday, per the NFL’s transactions.

By passing their physicals, Dareus and Branch are now cleared to practice. The 24-year-old Dareus failed a conditioning test last week and had been placed on the non-football injury list, while Branch was placed on the non-football illness list.

ESPN’s Field Yates first reported Dareus and Branch had passed physicals.

Dareus and Branch are key members of the Bills’ defensive line, with Dareus (7.5 sacks in 2013) a potential standout. However, off-field issues have been a concern with Dareus, the Bills’ 2011 first-round pick.

In other Bills roster moves, the club waived/injured first-year cornerback Brandon Smith and was awarded undrafted rookie center Jared Wheeler on waivers from Carolina. Wheeler is a Miami (Fla.) product.

The Bills are at the 90-player roster limit.

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Knowshon Moreno on PUP list, but “won’t be too long”

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The Dolphins made a couple of procedural moves on Thursday, placing running back Knowshon Moreno and center Mike Pouncey on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Pouncey is a good bet to remain on that list into the regular season after having hip surgery that will reportedly keep him out for half the year. Pouncey can go on the regular season version of the PUP list, which will require him to miss practice for at least six weeks but he won’t count against Miami’s 53-man roster.

Moreno’s stay shouldn’t be that long. The veteran back had knee surgery during the offseason and coach Joe Philbin said his conditioning needed some work, but Philbin doesn’t think it will be long before Moreno is in the mix with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas.

“Not full throttle 100% reps yet but won’t be too long,” Philbin said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Moreno signed with the Dolphins after running for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, his best production in any of his five NFL campaigns. Doing the same without Peyton Manning running a high-powered passing game may be difficult, especially if any other issues cut into his ability to compete for playing time this summer.

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