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NFL morning after: Return of Rodgers a magical moment

aaronrodgers AP

You couldn’t have scripted it any better.

The great thing about sport is that it’s the ultimate drama because even the players don’t know the ending. But sometimes a football season gives us that perfect ending that would have seemed contrived if it came from a Hollywood screenwriter. And that’s what happened with the Green Bay Packers this year.

After the Packers’ star quarterback got hurt against the rival Bears, after the Packers went to their second-string quarterback and then their third-string quarterback and their fourth-string quarterback in an effort to save the season, the star came back and — after shaking off some rust — threw the incredible touchdown pass in the game’s final minute to deliver his team the division title.

Aaron Rodgers‘ return to the Packers wasn’t perfect. He had two early interceptions and the Packers’ offense struggled to get into a rhythm. But the best moments in an athlete’s career are the ones in which he overcomes adversity, and when Rodgers shook off the rust of missing two months with a broken collarbone and made his biggest play at the biggest time, that’s what made this one of the great moments in NFL history.

It was heartbreaking for Bears fans, exhilarating for Packers fans, and a perfect culmination of a wonderful NFL season.

Now we bring on the playoffs. But first, some final thoughts on the final Sunday of the regular season:

Nice touch. The Falcons sent Tony Gonzalez to midfield alone, as the only captain representing the team for the pregame coin toss. It was a great way to give Gonzalez a moment of recognition before the final game of his Hall of Fame career. Gonzalez finished his career with 1,325 catches for 15,127 yards and 111 touchdowns.

Sheldon Richardson joins Refrigerator Perry. Richardson, the Jets’ rookie defensive tackle, ran for a one-yard touchdown on Sunday against the Dolphins. Richardson and Perry, the former Bears defensive tackle, are the only players in NFL history to have three sacks and two rushing touchdowns in the same season. Perry played under Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan when he did it in 1985, and perhaps Jets coach Rex Ryan is paying tribute to his dad by using Richardson on offense.

Eli Manning concluded a miserable season. Manning completed 10 of 24 passes for 152 yards, a touchdown and an interception before leaving Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. That gave Manning a whopping 27 interceptions on the season. Only Brett Favre, who threw 29 interceptions in 2005, had more interceptions in any season in the 21st Century. In the same year that his big brother Peyton clinched his fifth MVP award, Eli had a year to forget.

Cordarrelle Patterson is something special. Patterson had a two-touchdown game in Sunday’s win over the Lions and became the first player in NFL history to have four receiving touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns and two kickoff-return touchdowns in NFL history. Patterson also became the first player in NFL history to have a 100-yard kickoff-return touchdown, 75-yard receiving touchdown and 50-yard rushing touchdown in a season. Patterson had a whopping 2,020 all-purpose yards in his rookie year. What a weapon this guy is going to be in Minnesota for years to come.

Anquan Boldin will have a major impact on the playoffs. Boldin had an outstanding game in the 49ers’ win over the Cardinals on Sunday, catching nine passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. And Boldin also had a huge game in the 49ers’ Week One win over the Packers. Now that the 49ers are preparing for a playoff rematch against the Packers, I fully expect Boldin to have another big game. Even though there were salary-cap issues, if the Ravens had it to do all over again, I think they would have made the necessary roster moves elsewhere to keep Boldin under the cap, rather than ship him to San Francisco. That trade made the 49ers better and the Ravens worse.

Drew Brees had a great game to cap a brilliant season. Brees threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns as the Saints clinched a playoff berth on Sunday, and I can’t help but think that Brees didn’t get enough credit for his great season simply because everyone was so in awe of the season Peyton Manning was having. This was Brees’s third straight year with more than 5,000 yards passing. Overall, there have been eight 5,000-yard seasons in NFL history, and Brees has four of them. That’s incredible.

Robert Mathis wraps up his best year. The 32-year-old Mathis spent most of his career as the “other” pass rusher in Indianapolis, generally overshadowed by Dwight Freeney. But this year Mathis led the league with 19.5 sacks and played the best he’s ever played. I actually think Mathis is an even better fit in the 3-4 scheme of Colts coach Chuck Pagano than he was in the 4-3 scheme when he played for Tony Dungy — and Mathis was plenty good in that scheme, too. Mathis is my choice for defensive player of the year.

Joe Flacco was this season’s biggest disappointment. After his outstanding postseason run that culminated in a Super Bowl MVP 11 months ago, the Ravens rewarded Flacco with a six-year, $120 million contract. And Flacco did not reward the Ravens with a year worthy of that kind of money. Flacco finished his season completing just 59.0 percent of his passes, with 19 touchdowns, 22 interceptions and eight fumbles, and the Ravens missed the playoffs. If Flacco isn’t a whole lot better next year, that contract is going to start to look like a millstone around the Ravens’ necks.

It felt like the postseason started a week early. Wasn’t that a thrilling NFL Sunday? Packers-Bears and Eagles-Cowboys were essentially playoff games, and several more games had a playoff feel to them. It’s been a great NFL season. Let the playoffs begin.

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Tunsil’s lawyer says stepdad had nothing to do with hacking

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss walks on stage after being picked #13 overall by the Miami Dolphins during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

As Laremy Tunsil dropped in the draft as a result of embarrassing information being put on his social media by a hacker, suspicion turned to his stepfather, who recently filed a lawsuit against Tunsil. But Tunsil’s lawyer says he and his client don’t think the stepdad had any involvement.

Tunsil’s attorney, Steve Farese, said on SiriusXM that initial assumptions about Tunsil’s stepdad being involved proved false.

“Initially, that would be the low-hanging fruit,” Farese said. “Now I’ve drifted away from those thoughts and don’t believe he had anything to do with it.”

Interviewing Tunsil on NFL Network immediately after the Dolphins drafted him, Deion Sanders flat-out accused Tunsil’s stepdad of being behind the hacking. Whatever has gone on with Tunsil and his stepdad to lead to the lawsuit, it’s unfortunate that his stepdad was accused of doing something he didn’t do.

Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post reported that the Dolphins believe Tunsil’s former financial advisor was behind the hacking. Farese said he has heard that but doesn’t know it to be true.

“There’s rumors out there about some financial agent, but that’s only something I read, and until we get to some facts of the situation, who can say?” he said.

Farese said Tunsil will consider a civil lawsuit against the hacker. Just as soon as he finds out who it was.

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Bidwill helped Cardinals feel comfortable about Nkemdiche


One of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the 2016 draft landed in Arizona, where he’ll beef up their pass rush if he doesn’t fall out of a window while trying to get away from a large house cat who has developed a taste for man meat.

To get to the point where the Cardinals felt comfortable scrawling “Nkemdiche” on a draft card, they relied on an in-house resource with a skill set that most of his ilk don’t have.

Michael [Bidwill] is a former federal prosecutor, and so his BS-meter is pretty good,” Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim told Peter King of regarding the team’s owner. “Sometimes, we’ll be at the combine and we’ll interview a guy who’s had some problems in college and the scouts will say, ‘Well, he sounds pretty good,’ and Michael will say, ‘Oh, he’s full of crap. Don’t trust him.’”

Bidwill spent 90 minutes last Monday with Nkemdiche, and Bidwill decided to trust Nkemdiche. Which means that, ultimately, Nkemdiche will either confirm the quality of Bidwill’s crap filter or show it may need further calibration.

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Dear agents, don’t let draft picks work without a contract


This year’s 250-plus draft picks have been officially welcomed to the family. And they’ll quickly be expected to do some chores. Without much of an allowance.

Now that they have teams, the draft picks will be absorbed into minicamps and offseason programs, regardless of whether they sign their first NFL contracts. In past years, few if any draft picks signed before July 4. Now, most will sign before Memorial Day weekend.

All should insist on being signed — and thus employed — before doing anything that would resemble work.

Yes, draft picks can (and will) sign letters of protection, ensuring that they’ll be paid in 2016 what they would have made if they end up suffering a serious injury. Regardless, there’s an overriding principle at work here. The draft picks are expected to show up, practice, participate in meetings, and begin getting to know their playbook. Why shouldn’t they have the same status as everyone else on the team?

Indeed, but for the draft picks, everyone else has a contract. Including the undrafted rookies (other than the ones who will show up for minicamp on a tryout basis). Why not sign all draft picks now, before they step foot into the weight room or onto the practice field?

Some teams (like the Bears) will quickly commence signing draft picks. Others (like the Rams) will wait until the offseason program has ended. Regardless, each draft pick should insist on having a contract before doing anything.

This isn’t something that will originate with the players. Their agents need to be the ones taking a stand. Quietly, some already are. Until enough do the same, players will continue to provide more of the same unpaid services that they provided for the last several years in college.

At least in college they got room, board, tuition, and snacks.

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Bruce Gradkowski returns to Steelers

Bruce Gradkowski, Dan Connor AP

At a time when some quarterbacks are grandstanding because they haven’t been handed a starting job with an open-ended guarantee that they’ll keep it, another guy keeps plugging away, embracing on a year-to-year basis the chance to compete for a job.

PFT has confirmed that veteran quarterback Bruce Gradkowski will sign a one-year contract on Monday with the Steelers.

The 33-year-old Pittsburgh native entered the league in 2006 as a sixth-round draft choice of the Buccaneers. He has played for the Bucs (starting 11 games as a rookie), the Browns, the Raiders, the Bengals ant the Steelers.

A finger injury suffered last August landed Gradkowski on injured reserve, opening the door for the signing of Mike Vick. Gradkowski will compete with fourth-year veteran Landry Jones for the No. 2 spot behind Ben Roethlisberger.

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Bears part ways with Matt Slauson, too


A pair of veteran players are now former members of the Bears. On Sunday evening, the Bears officially released offensive lineman Matt Slauson and safety Antrel Rolle.

“We thank Matt and Antrel for the dedication and leadership they brought to our organization,” Bears G.M. Ryan Pace said in a press release.  “Both men did everything we asked of them.  Part of growing as a team is making difficult decisions like the ones we made today.  We never take them lightly given the respect we have for everyone who has put on a Bears uniform.  We wish each of them the very best as they move forward.”

Slauson, 30, started all 16 games last year, his third with the Bears. He previously played for the Jets.

Due to make $2.887 million in 2016, Slauson will count $835,000 against the cap. If the Bears made him a post-June 1 cut, that amount will be split over the next two years.

Both Slauson and Rolle become immediate free agents. Still, it would have been far better for both to become free agents long before the draft, and definitely not after it ended.

Pace can say what he wants about respecting Rolle and Slauson, but if the team truly respected them they would have been cut at a time when they would have had a much better opportunity to find work elsewhere. Now that teams with needs at those positions have filled them through the draft, it becomes much harder.

But Welcome to the Family anyway, all you draft picks who eventually could be treated the same way by the Bears or one of the other 31 franchises.

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Giants draft no linemen, on either side of the ball

81347134-defensive-linemen-andy-robustelli-dick-gettyimages Getty Images

When the Giants won their last two Super Bowls, they had very strong line play, offensively and defensively. Currently, they don’t have a very strong offensive or defensive line. During the 2016 draft, the Giants drafted no offensive linemen and no defensive linemen.

As pointed out by Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, it’s the first time in franchise history that neither line was addressed in the draft.

“[W]e weren’t going to force anything,” Giants V.P. of player evaluation Marc Ross said after the draft ended, via Vacchiano. “You always want big bodies, but you want the right big bodies.”

Ross noted, per Vacchiano, that the Giants have a pair of former first-rounders (Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh) and a second-rounder (Weston Richburg). Tackle Jack Conklin was a possibility, but he was gone before the Giants selected. The Giants also spent millions on defensive linemen Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon.

“There were discussions here or there,” Ross said regarding the possibility of drafting a lineman. “But nobody at the time who was the highest-ranked player on our board, or close to that.”

The question now becomes, as Vacchiano points out, whether the Giants will end up with 49ers tackle Anthony Davis. Unretired for now, he wants to play in 2016 but not in San Francisco. G.M. Jerry Reese (wisely) declined to talk about Davis, but said that the team will “continue to upgrade our roster every day.”

The ceiling is high, so that shouldn’t be hard. At some point, the hay will be in the barn. As to the process of obtaining talent with the involuntary process of calling digs on incoming players, the hay (or lack of it) is already there.

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Derek Watt predicts a possible mutual knockout with J.J.

MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 31: Corey Clement #6 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates with Derek Watt #34 after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Camp Randall Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption *** Corey Clement; Derek Watt Getty Images

J.J. Watt and Derek Watt could have a couple of reunions over Thanksgiving weekend. One at the dinner table on Thursday, and another on the football field on Sunday.

The Chargers and Texans are due to meet in Houston on November 27, and if pick No. 198 in the 2016 draft makes the team in San Diego and contributes, he’ll have a chance to say a different kind of hello to his brother.

We might just knock each other out,” Derek Watt said after being drafted, via the Associated Press.

Most would put their money on J.J., primary since Derek is an unknown commodity. He’s not unknown to one specific member of the Chargers — the running back for whom Derek Watt blocked at Wisconsin.

“He was hoping they could get me there,” Derek Watt said of 2015 first-rounder Melvin Gordon. “He was extremely happy and looking forward to me being back out there with him. . . . He’s definitely an extremely talented guy. He’s got a year under his belt now so I think that definitely helps him out. I’m going to go out there and try to help him do everything I can. We’re going to pick up right where we left off, I think.”

That would be great news for Gordon, who didn’t rush for 100 yards once in 2015 and who averaged 3.5 yards per carry.

“We already know how each other kind of thinks and what each other sees,” Derek Watt said. “We’ve been in the same meetings, we’ve been involved in the same plays and we communicate what we see on the field to each other. He’ll tell me if he thinks I should have done something differently or if he saw something other than what I saw, and I’ll do the same. I’ll tell him, ‘Hey, I thought you could have done this or that.'”

Coach Mike McCoy seems to think that having a true fullback will help, but that it’s won’t magically improve the quality of the team’s running game.

“You could very easily argue, ‘Eliminate that guy and he should be able to see better,'” McCoy said, via the AP. “It’s a matter of everybody doing their jobs better, and I’ll say, committing to the run more. Running the ball more.”

Whether the Chargers will be able to run the ball or otherwise move it against the Texans in Week 12 could depend on whether Derek Watt or anyone else on the field wearing lightning bolts on his helmet is able to neutralize Derek Watt’s big brother.

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DeMarco Murray tells Titans’ coaches he’ll mentor Derrick Henry

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12:  DeMarco Murray attends Sports Illustrated's Fashionable 50 NYC Event at Vandal on April 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images) Getty Images

Titans running back DeMarco Murray isn’t worried about second-round draft pick Derrick Henry taking carries away from him.

Murray told the Titans’ coaches he’s looking forward to playing with Henry and helping the Heisman Trophy winner develop into an NFL player. Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he called Murray to make sure he understood that Henry wasn’t coming to take the starting job away from Murray, and Mularkey said he and Murray are on the same page.

“You don’t do it for everybody, but there’s certain circumstances that you feel like it is necessary to make sure you are clear on the motive and why you are doing things,’’ Mularkey said of calling Murray. “Out of respect [for DeMarco] I wanted to do that.”

Mularkey said he was pleased with how eager Murray sounded to work with Henry.

“First of all, he loved the pick,’’ Mularkey said of Murray. “And he said, ‘He’s going to make me better and I am going to do the same for him.’ He said, ‘I’m going to do whatever I can to make him a great player‘.”

According to Mularkey, Henry’s job will be to back Murray up.

“I told DeMarco, ‘Nothing has changed since we made the trade for you. You’re still going to be the guy who is going to carry the load for us and I know when you need to take a break and come off the field there will be no letdown when the next running back comes in, whoever that is’,’’ Mularkey said. “That is our mindset and I told him that directly not long after we made that pick, that he was clear with the direction we were going to go with it.”

With Henry joining Murray in the backfield, running behind a line featuring first-round offensive tackle Jack Conklin, Mularkey’s promised “exotic smash mouth” offense is coming together. And Murray is glad to be a part of it.

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Bears release Antrel Rolle

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Antrel Rolle #26 of the Chicago Bears warms up before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on November 9, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears took three defensive backs during the final day of the draft on Saturday and it appears those rookie additions to the roster were a precursor to a veteran deletion.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Bears have released Antrel Rolle and Rolle has tweeted a farewell to Chicago. Rolle signed a three-year contract with the team before last season and was set to make a base salary of $2.4 million in 2016.

None of that money is guaranteed, so the Bears wouldn’t be on the hook for any money if Rolle remained with the team into camp but his first year in Chicago was apparently enough to leave the Bears feeling confident about moving on. Rolle played in seven games and ended the year on injured reserve with a knee injury, neither of which is a good omen for a player turning 34 in December.

Rolle never missed a game in five previous seasons with the Giants, however, and played well enough when healthy that he could get a look elsewhere this offseason.

The Bears took Deon Bush and Deiondre’ Hall in the fourth round before adding DeAndre Houston-Carson in the sixth round. Bush and Houston-Carson are listed as safeties. Hall is listed as a corner, but some think his best shot at an NFL future will come with a position switch.

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Su’a Cravens listed as a safety

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 19:  Su'a Cravens #21 of the University of Southern California Trojans awaits the snap against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 19, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated USC 14-10.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Su’a Cravens was drafted by the Redskins in the second round of the draft, he said that the late Sean Taylor was his all-time favorite safety and hoped that he would “be half as good as” one of his predecessors in the organization.

Cravens’ link to Taylor will go beyond just sharing an employer. Cravens will wear No. 36 as a rookie, which was the same number that Taylor wore during his first season with the team. Taylor then switched to No. 21, which Cravens wore while at USC.

A player wearing the same number as Taylor might as well play the same position and the Redskins announced that they are listing Cravens as a safety. He was listed as a linebacker in college.

Whichever way the Redskins choose to list Cravens is fine as his role is expected to be a hybrid of the two spots that sees Cravens line up in a variety of positions and fulfilling a variety of responsibilities. It’s an approach that we’ve seen more and more of around the league and the Redskins hope it’s part of the plan for a better defense in 2016.

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Lions “followed through” on Bob Quinn’s goal of getting tougher up front

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Taylor Decker of Ohio State holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #16 overall by the Detroit Lions during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The last time the Lions took a total of five offensive and defensive linemen in a draft was in 1989, when the proceedings lasted for 12 rounds.

It’s a seven-round affair these days, but the Lions were able to match that figure because General Manager Bob Quinn made improving the group in the trenches a priority. The Lions took offensive tackle Taylor Decker in the first round, then followed with defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and center Graham Glasgow on the second day. Offensive lineman Joe Dahl and defensive end Anthony Zettel closed things out on Saturday.

The group — “the bigger, the better,” Quinn said of what he was looking for on both sides of the ball — left Quinn feeling satisfied about his efforts to give the team a more physical attitude up front.

“Absolutely, that was one of my goals going into the draft and I felt like there was a lot of players at different levels of the draft that we could do that,” Quinn said, via the Detroit News. “So, it was a goal of mine, it was a goal of coach [Jim] Caldwell’s, and I think we followed through on that.”

The Lions aren’t locking Decker into the left or right side, although he played left tackle at Ohio State and improving on Riley Rieff was seen as a goal for the Lions this offseason. Robinson will likely be part of the rotation on the interior of the defense right away and Quinn said Glasgow will compete with incumbent center Travis Swanson, so there should be plenty of chances to see how well Quinn did in adding fight up front.

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Bradford could blow starting job if he stays away too long


Sam Bradford remains an Eagle. He also remains the team’s starting quarterback. One of those things could change in time — and not the one Bradford wants to change.

Comments from coach Doug Pederson make it clear that, at some point, Bradford’s absence will affect his status at the top of the depth chart.

“Anybody that’s not in any of the 32 offseason programs is losing valuable time at that club,” Pederson said, via Josh Paunil of “So anybody that’s not in the offseason program, yes, would lose the time.”

Bradford reportedly isn’t taking calls from Pederson, and Pederson told reporters on Saturday that he hasn’t spoken to Bradford since Bradford commenced his quest for a trade.

It’s unclear how much time Bradford would have to miss before he’d slide on the depth chart. At some point, however, that will happen.

“I think it depends on how and when he does come back and how fast we can catch him up and put him back in that situation and see where he’s at at that time,” Pederson said, via Paunil. “Again, no one makes the team in April. We’re not making any roster adjustments and letting people go. It’s all about evaluation, and he’s in that evaluation process. But as I’ve said in the past, he was one, Chase [Daniel] is two and we’re moving on from there.”

The Eagles have insisted that they won’t trade Bradford, who apparently isn’t willing to compete after having playing time handed to him since 2010, thanks to the last windfall No. 1 overall contract.

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Jaguars sign nine undrafted free agents

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 26: Max Wittek #13 of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors throws the football in warm ups before the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars loaded up on defensive players in the draft by using six of their seven picks on that side of the ball.

They announced a group of undrafted free agent signings on Sunday that was more balanced. The team has signed nine undrafted rookies and five of them play on the offensive side of the ball.

One of those additions is quarterback Max Wittek of Hawaii, who signs with the team a day after they drafted Brandon Allen in the sixth round. With Chad Henne back for another year backing up Blake Bortles, there’s likely only going to be room for one of those two in Jacksonville once the summer comes to an end. Wittek spent one year in Hawaii after transferring from USC, where he was beaten out by Browns third-round pick Cody Kessler.

The Jaguars also signed South Alabama tight end Braedon Bowman, Southern Miss tackle Rashod Hill, Louisiana-Lafayette wide receiver Jamal Robinson and San Diego State tackle Pearce Slater on the offensive side of the ball. Minnesota cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Ole Miss cornerback Mike Hilton and Michigan safety Jarrod Wilson were added on defense and Texas kicker Jaden Oberkrom joins the specialists.

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Subscribe to the PFT Live podcast now, please (but now)


Every Sunday (when I remember), I point out to the audience that there are more ways to get PFT content. Specifically, the podcast for the PFT Live radio show can be downloaded for free.

The best way to download it is to subscribe to it. That way, you don’t have to remember to download it.

If you subscribe to the PFT Live podcast, you’ll have constant access to NFL news, analysis, debate, and interviews presented in a way intended to be humorous at times, and entertaining always. (Key word: Intended. Whether it’s actually humorous or entertaining is a different question.)

Judge for yourself whether there’s anything informative, humorous, and/or entertaining about the PFT Live podcast by checking it out at iTunes or audioBoom.

Last week’s shows featured visits from folks like Adam Gase, Howie Roseman, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Connor Cook, Laquon TreadwellMatt Forte, DeMaurice Smith. This week’s shows will pack in plenty of conversations with General Managers who just stocked their rosters via the draft.

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DeAndre Hopkins looking forward to fewer double teams in 2016

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 28:   DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans reacts to a call during the second half of their game against the Buffalo Bills at NRG Stadium on September 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins played with four different starting quarterbacks and without a big threat at the other wideout spot, but still caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns to help the Texans to the playoffs.

The Texans have worked to remedy both of those issues this offseason. Brock Osweiler is the new quarterback and Houston spent two of its first three draft picks on wide receivers. After the Texans added first-round pick Will Fuller and third-round pick Braxton Miller, Hopkins shared his excitement on Twitter.

“Ain’t no more double teams baby!” Hopkins wrote.

Fuller and Miller both have the speed to stretch defenses and open up other parts of the field for Hopkins. Fuller needs to be more consistent catching the ball and Miller is still new to the position, leading coach Bill O’Brien to point out that teams are going to make the rookies prove they can do it while discussing the motivation for the moves.

“Trying to get it where he could be more one-on-one and things like that,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I think that’s what we’ve done with this offensive skill draft class. We’ve taken some guys that we think can really help us in space, help us at the receiver position and help us do a lot of different things, which in turn will help DeAndre and free him up a little bit more.”

Lamar Miller and fourth-round pick Tyler Ervin are new at running back, so there’s a lot of integration to be done before the season starts. If all comes together, everyone in Houston should be happier about the offensive situation than they were last year.

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