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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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Jake Long won’t be signing with Ravens after all

Jake Long AP

Tackle Jake Long appeared to be taking a job with the Ravens this week, but doubts about the health of his knee from the Ravens have led Long to pass on the chance to sign in Baltimore.

Long went to see Dr. James Andrews for an examination of his knee as part of the physical the Ravens gave him and told Adam Schefter of ESPN that he was “enthused” by the physician’s assessment and that he also passed an exit physical with the Falcons in January, which contributed to his decision to pass on signing an injury waiver that Baltimore wanted as part of the deal. As a result, Long remains a free agent.

Long told Schefter that his knee feels great and that he still looks forward to playing this season. He had a visit with the Bears earlier in the offseason and may have to wait until the first days of camp change plans for a team to land another shot at continuing his career.

The Ravens may have to do the same if they want to add a veteran tackle to the roster as one that interests them could become available as teams becoming surer of their plans on the offensive line.

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Sammy Watkins among 10 Bills not cleared for practice

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills attempts to catch a pass in the end zone under pressure from Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins wavered over the course of the offseason about how much time he expected to miss during Bills training camp after having surgery on his left foot in May and now we know that he won’t be on the active roster for the opening practice.

The Bills placed Watkins on the physically unable to perform list on Friday, leaving him ineligible to practice with the team as long as he still carries that designation. The latest update on his condition suggested it won’t be a long absence and there’s no apparent concern that he’ll be missing come the start of the regular season.

Wide receiver Marcus Easley, defensive tackle Kyle Williams and rookie defensive end/linebacker Shaq Lawson are also on the PUP list. Lawson is recovering from shoulder surgery that has clouded his availability for the season, although General Manager Doug Whaley said all signs from his rehab are positive at this point.

Linebacker Manny Lawson landed on the non-football injury list after injuring himself in a recent workout. Wide receiver Kolby Listenbee is on the same list while defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, defensive back Jonathan Dowling, tackle Seantrel Henderson and running back Karlos Williams are all on the non-football illness list.

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Geno Smith knows he’s auditioning for the rest of the league now

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets looks on from the sideline during the game against the Buffalo Bills on November 12, 2015 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Geno Smith lost his shot at the Jets starting job when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick signed earlier this week.

But even if that opportunity goes by the wayside, there could be others.

Smith admitted that this preseason will also be a chance to polish his resume for what feels like an eventual return to the job market.

“It’s no disrespect to anyone, but I’m auditioning for this team and 31 other teams in the NFL,” Smith said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “The way you handle all of this says a lot about your character. I’ve got little kids back home [in South Florida] seeing how I react. Everyone will watch to see how I react.

“I’m not going to allow this situation — because it’s not the worst situation I’ve been in — to deter me from my ultimate goal.”

The Jets have said Smith will remain the backup to Fitzpatrick, who is established as their quarterback of the present. And the recent draft picks spent on Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg make it clear they no longer see Smith as the future.

But while other displaced quarterbacks have asked for releases and gotten them, Smith’s not banging for that now. That might be because he knows he doesn’t have enough recent or quality tape to convince someone else to give him an opportunity, but whatever the reason, he’s not making any waves.

With the state of the quarterback market being what it is, someone will likely offer a chance to a former second-round pick. And being a grown-up about things now won’t hurt that process.

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LeSean McCoy on bar fight: Things like that can’t happen

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 06:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills runs the ball past Quintin Demps #27 of the Houston Texans during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills running back LeSean McCoy said earlier this month that he didn’t really care about anyone whose opinion of him may have changed as a result of his involvement in a bar fight with off-duty Philadelphia police officers in February, but he sounded a bit different while speaking to reporters at Bills camp on Friday.

McCoy wasn’t charged with a crime and won’t be disciplined by the NFL as a result of the fight, but said that a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell helped him realize that “as a leader, the guy that I want to be for this team, things like that just can’t happen.”

“You don’t hear about other guys like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady getting into incidents like that,” McCoy said, via ESPN.com. “So I think sometimes you get so lackadaisical about being successful as a football player, and then you let all the minor, small things go. In a situation like that, [if] you got security or you got even off-duty officers working for me at the time, and this thing never even gets out of hand.”

With that out of the way, McCoy can turn his full attention toward football. He said he’s at his lightest weight since his second season and has “lots to prove” on the field in his second season with the Bills.

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Adam Gase noncommittal on Dion Jordan

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 20:  Thad Lewis #9 of the Buffalo Bills throws the ball under pressure from  Dion Jordan #95 of the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 20, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL has reinstated Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan. The team has not yet embraced him.

Asked for a reaction to the news, coach Adam Gase said of Jordan, “I’ve never met him so . . . I mean it’s hard for me to answer.”

Gase separately explained to reporters the team’s overall approach to Jordan, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft.

“Well, obviously [we are] still getting all the details of kind of what’s going on,” Gase said. “I know at some point this afternoon, I’ll get with Mike [Tannenbaum] and [General Manager] Chris [Grier] and we’ll be able to go through every little thing that the league’s informed us on. So we’re still at the beginning stages of this. I know that’s the boring answer but that’s what it is right now. Obviously [we are] just coming off the field and you get the quick update, ‘Hey, here’s what little we know,’ and then the good thing is, we’ll have a plan. We’ll have an understanding of what we need to do and the steps we need to take moving forward.”

The phrase “we’ll have a plan” implies that a plan possibly doesn’t already exist. Which means decisions will need to be made quickly, especially with Jordan owed a $1.7 million roster bonus on Monday.

It sounds as if Gase is inclined (for now) to give Jordan a chance to earn the money.

“Like I said, I don’t know him,” Gase said. “I just know when he gets here, like I said, [it’s a] fresh start with me. So I guess that’s really all that matters.”

Jordan played in 16 games as a rookie, with no starts. In 2014, he appeared in 10 games with one start. He has three career sacks.

Ultimately, the most immediate question is whether they’ll keep him or cut him before the $1.7 million is due. Before answering that, the Dolphins need to know the exact moment on which the $1.7 million becomes due.

 

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Andre Johnson signing with Titans

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 03:  Andre Johnson #81 of the Indianapolis Colts makes a catch against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Andre Johnson is down to the Jaguars on the list of AFC South teams that he’s never played for during his NFL career.

According to multiple reports, the Titans have signed Johnson to their 90-man roster. Johnson visited the Titans earlier this week.

Johnson spent the first 12 years of his career with the Texans, catching more than 100 passes five times and crossing 1,000 receiving yards seven times while being named a first-team All-Pro twice. He slowed down a bit in 2014, leading to his departure from the Texans and a move to the Colts that preceded the least productive season of his career.

The Titans hope there’s a little bit more left in Johnson’s tank so he can help quarterback Marcus Mariota continue to develop in his second season. If some of his knowledge were to rub off on wideout Dorial Green-Beckham as well, they’d be even happier.

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Tom Coughlin will be a “senior advisor” to NFL football operations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 20:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants looks on in the first half against the Carolina Panthers during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Getty Images

Yes, former Jaguars and Giants coach Tom Coughlin has joined the league office. More details regarding his role have emerged.

He’ll be a “senior advisor” to the league’s football operations department. In that capacity, the two-time Super Bowl winner will work closely with executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent and all game-related committees, from the Competition Committee to the Health and Safety Committee, the Coaches Subcommittee, the General Managers Advisory Committee, the Combine Review Committee, and the NCAA Rules and Oversight Committee.

Coughlin, per a source with knowledge of the situation, also will provide strategic guidance on matters like the draft, the Pro Bowl, playing rules, coaching techniques, and football personnel development.

It’s a great way for Coughlin to stay in the game, and teams that may soon be hiring new coaches should consider adding Coughlin to the list of candidates.

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Adrian Peterson doesn’t think he’s slowing down with age

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 03:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Adrian Peterson proved last season that 30 was just a number.

And now, as he embarks on his 31-year-old season, the Vikings running back said he’s using the doubts about his ability to age well as motivation.

“The talk about being 31, that’s something that’s deep down inside, that I think in my mind that I’ll prove people wrong,” Peterson said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Peterson’s been running with a young crowd, including offseason workouts with second-year back Melvin Gordon. But he’s set his sights on one of the old-age records, after becoming the second-oldest player to win a rushing title with 1,485 yards last year.

“That’s definitely motivation for me,” Peterson said. “I haven’t noticed any decline in my performance and what I’m able to do when I’m working out with younger guys. So I’m pretty confident.”

Considering the way he dispelled the notion that backs hit a wall at 30, there’s no reason for him not to be.

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NFL hires former NFLPA official to run player engagement

arthur-mcafee-600x600

Last year, Arthur McAfee tried to become the executive director of the NFL Players Association. This year, he has become an executive with the NFL.

The league has announced that McAfee is the new Senior Vice President of Player Engagement.

“McAfee will oversee the NFL Player Engagement staff,” the release states, “part of the NFL Football Operations team under the direction of Executive Vice President Troy Vincent, which assists players in reaching their highest potential on and off the field by providing guidance, support and resources before, during and after their NFL experiences.”

McAfee previously served as an in-house lawyer with the NFLPA. He was one of nine candidates for the job that DeMaurice Smith retained in 2015.

Vincent, before becoming the NFL’s executive V.P. of football operations, was NFLPA president and at one point believed to be the successor to the late Gene Upshaw.

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Joey Bosa officially becomes a holdout soon

539142112 Getty Images

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, the third overall pick in the draft, still doesn’t have a contract. In roughly an hour, he officially becomes a holdout.

As noted by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the team has a meeting at 10:30 a.m. PT. Bosa won’t be there.

Bosa’s agents and the team continue to be far apart on a contract, reportedly due to offset language and cash flow. Bosa’s camp has opted to dig in, possibly because they know that the Chargers need all hands on deck in order to start the season strong enough to lay the foundation for a successful stadium vote in November.

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Darren McFadden, Jaylon Smith placed on Cowboys NFI list

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 27:   Darren McFadden #20 of the Dallas Cowboys breaks the showstring tackle by Kevin Reddick #51 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

There was some confusion about just how Cowboys running back Darren McFadden injured his elbow this offseason, but there was wasn’t much doubt that McFadden would miss some practice time this summer as a result.

Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports that the Cowboys confirmed that assumption by placing McFadden on the non-football injury list Friday. Per Archer, McFadden had a recent scan of the break that showed improvement and that he is expected to be back to work for the first week of the regular season.

There’s no such optimism about linebacker Jaylon Smith. The rookie suffered a severe knee injury late last season and is suffering from nerve damage that has cast serious doubt about his chances of playing at all this season. Smith has also been placed on the NFI list and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t remain there into the regular season.

Running back Lance Dunbar, defensive end Benson Mayowa and defensive tackle Maliek Collins were all placed on the physically unable to perform list. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who is coming off a torn ACL, and likebacker Sean Lee, who had a knee scope this offseason, avoided the PUP list and are cleared to practice.

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Lions extend Darius Slay

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 18:  Cornerback Darius Slay #23 of the Detroit Lions reacts after a defensive stop against the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter of the NFL game at Ford Field on October 18, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Bears 37-34 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Lions cornerback Darius Slay was due to make $976,269 this year. He’ll do slightly better than that.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Lions have signed Slay to a four-year extension with a value of $50.2 million. He also receives $23 million fully guaranteed at signing.

The deal puts Slay under contract through 2020, at a total value of more than $51 million.

His original four-year contract as a second-round draft pick was worth $5.2 million. So it’s safe to say he has taken a step up.

The move keeps Slay from becoming a free agent in March, shifting the risk of injury and ineffectiveness from player to team in 2016.

Slay has started every game the past two seasons for the Lions. He said last month that he hoped to have a new deal in place before the start of the season.

I’m a top guy, that’s it,” Slay said. “I ain’t no real cocky guy like that, but I’m just confident in my game and what I put on film. I’ve been very, very productive for the past two years. Every year I has got better, so I feel like this year is going to be the best year and I’m going to make that.”

He’s now a key part of the Lions defense moving into 2016 and beyond.

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Marqise Lee sits out Friday with hamstring injury

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 7: Wide receviver Marqise Lee #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 7, 2014 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the 2014 draft, the Jaguars took a pair of wide receivers in the second round with hopes of injecting some life into their passing game.

They hit on Allen Robinson with one of those picks and scored again when they signed Allen Hurns as an undrafted free agent, but Marqise Lee’s time in Jacksonville hasn’t been as successful. A string of injuries, including a hamstring issue last summer, have limited his availability and productivity.

Lee was on the field for OTAs, but the injury bug has reared its head again early in camp. Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports that Lee is sitting out Friday’s practice because of a left hamstring injury. There’s no word on how much time it will cost Lee, but any time lost is a negative for a player who has already missed so much action in his first two seasons.

Adding Lee to Robinson and Hurns has a lot of promise for the continued improvement of the Jacksonville offense, but it will remain something the Jags have to look at as a bonus until Lee shows he can remain on the field.

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Belichick displays disgust with reporter’s question (again)

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Fans hold a sign depicting head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and the words "Get Some" during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

If Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t have four pelts on the wall, he probably wouldn’t still be an NFL head coach.

He’d be a defensive coordinator, most likely. But not a head coach. He simply doesn’t have the temperament to survive as a head coach if he were anything another than one of the best head coaches in NFL history.

With those accomplishments comes the ability to consistently choose not to cooperate with the media, and also to periodically bristle at questions he regards as foolish or otherwise beneath him. Two years ago, his annoyed reaction to questions about Tom Brady from Albert Breer, then working for NFL Media, after the notorious “on to Cincinnati” loss to the Chiefs apparently have resulted in Breer being yanked from the Patriots beat — even though he lives in Boston.

On Friday, Belichick became annoyed (again) when asked (again) about Brady. Specifically, Belichick was asked if he can think of an occasion where he ever has clarified the starting quarterback position so early into camp.

“I don’t know,” Belichick said.

He then was asked, “What happens if Jimmy Garoppolo plays better?”

“Look, I told you what’s going to happen,” Belichick said, referring to Brady returning as the starter when his suspension ends.

The reporter followed with, “So there’s no . . . .”

And then a more-disgusted-than-usual Belichick shook his head and said, “Jesus Christ.”

Patriots fans and media haters alike loved the moment. The Patriots apparently weren’t proud of it; otherwise, it wouldn’t have been scrubbed from the official transcript.

Was it a dumb question? Sure. Is there a way to be a little more respectful (or a little less disrespectful) to someone who asks a stupid question? Absolutely.

Belichick isn’t the first, and hardly will be the last, coach to act that way. But plenty of coaches treat the media — even those who ask stupid questions — with respect, recognizing that coaches get paid what they get paid because people care about the sport, and because the media is one of the main conduits of the relationship between teams and fans.

As I argued (ranted) on Friday’s PFT Live regarding the unreasonably restrictive media policy adopted by the Bears, everything the media does in covering the NFL and its teams amounts to free advertising. The media promotes the sport at no cost to the sport, and those involved in the sport benefit from that.

So why not show at least a minor degree of respect to those employed to promote the sport for free? Yes, it’s fun at times to see a coach behave in a way that few of us ever would in public. At a time when that passionate rooting interest can’t be satiated by games that count, a great sound bite or other compelling moment from the coach may be the next best thing.

It’s not all that much fun for the folks doing the job of promoting the sport for free to be on the wrong end of that treatment, and it surely makes everyone in the team’s press room afraid of saying anything that would make him or her become the next reporter who provokes an eye roll, a head shake, a verbal rebuke, and then a zealous round of digital applause from fans of the team and/or those jockeying for access to a coach who wants to keep all of them tiptoeing on eggshells.

I’m probably alone or close to it in thinking that Belichick was out of line on Friday. Then again, someone with the Patriots apparently agrees with me. Otherwise, the key question and answer would have appeared in the official transcript distributed by the franchise.

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Eifert: I’ll never go back to the Pro Bowl

Tyler Eifert AP

After a Pro Bowl injury led to surgery that’s left Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert on the physically unable to perform list for now and uncertain if he’ll be ready for the season opener, Eifert told reporters Friday that he’ll never go to the Pro Bowl again, even if he’s invited.

He sounded like he hoped someone at the NFL office is listening.

It’s just not worth it,” Eifert said.

Though his initial injury was deemed minor, Eifert later had ankle surgery and has missed the entire offseason program.

Eifert said Friday that he only expects to have to wear a protective boot on his ankle for another week, but he also said there’s no exact timetable for his return to real action and that his only goal is just to be healthy as soon as possible.

Eifert led all NFL tight ends with 13 touchdown catches last season despite missing games due to a concussion. An elbow injury limited him to one game in 2014.

As for the Pro Bowl, people watch. And recently signed contracts say the game* isn’t going away anytime soon.

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