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Kyle Shanahan on tough 2013: It will make me and RGIII better in long run

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Kyle Shanahan is the new offensive coordinator of the Browns, which means that he is no longer one of the coaches guiding the development of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The first year of their partnership was a smashing success as Griffin shone on the field while leading the Redskins to an NFC East title. Then he smashed his knee in a playoff loss to the Seahawks, missed the offseason and never recaptured the heights of his rookie season during a 3-13 2013 season that also featured plenty of reports of animosity between Griffin and former head coach Mike Shanahan.

The younger Shanahan said Thursday that the season was a challenge, but that he and Griffin were able to keep their relationship intact throughout the season. He also believes that both of them will be better for the experience.

“I’m not going to say it was easy. Nothing’s easy when you go through something like that. But I do believe going through it, Robert and I in the long run, it’ll make both of us better,” Shanahan said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s something that is a challenge, and I do believe going through that, as hard as it was, will help me. I think when it’s all said and done and Robert and I look back on it, I’m really appreciative of some of the stuff he did for me, and I really believe he’ll be appreciative of some of the stuff I did for him.”

One way Shanahan believes it will make him a better coach is that he learned how to work with a promising rookie quarterback. Shanahan said you have to “make sure you put them in a situation to be successful” and work on the other parts of the quarterback’s game while focusing on what he does best early in his career. The Browns may be adding such a quarterback to the roster this year, so Shanahan’s feelings could get put to a quick test in Cleveland.

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Brian Hoyer isn’t thinking about what his teammates do off the field

Brian Hoyer AP

After LeBron James announced he’d be returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer tweeted that he appreciated that James wrote that “everything is earned” for athletes in Northeast Ohio.

It wasn’t hard to see why such a thought would resonate with Hoyer, who is trying to remain ahead of Johnny Manziel as the starter in Cleveland. On Saturday, Hoyer again mentioned James when told Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan that he’s not looking for “anything to be handed to me” and that he’s looking forward to competing against Manziel. He also said that he hasn’t been paying attention to any of Manziel’s off-field exploits.

“Not really. I’m not really focused on my teammates, what they do in their off life so that’s none of my business,” Hoyer said. “They can make those decisions on their own. All that matters is that we come back ready to go for the season.”

Hoyer said his knee is totally healthy after last year’s torn ACL and that he’s been throwing to Browns receivers Andrew Hawkins and Charles Johnson during the time off before training camp in order to be as sharp as possible when his competition with Manziel heats up later this month. He’ll need to be to remain on top of the depth chart and it’s clear that Hoyer isn’t taking that spot for granted.

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E.J. Manuel: I’m stronger than I was last year

EJ Manuel AP

It’s shaping up to be a big year for Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel.

Injuries kept him from practicing fully leading up to his rookie season and then cost him six games during the season, leaving the Bills unsure whether their 2013 first-round pick could be the long-term starter that they have been looking for in Buffalo. With a new owner coming soon, there’s a chance that the front office and coaching staff could be shaken up so Manuel will have to offer more convincing evidence that he can be that guy during his second season or run the risk that the franchise will start looking in other directions.

Manuel says that he has more confidence in himself as he moves toward the 2014 season and that he’s learned some things about staying healthy that leave him feeling like a stronger player than he was a year ago.

“I think that’s one thing I had to learn to be smart when I take off with the football. Instead of trying to get an extra three yards, either step out-of-bounds or slide. Those are all of the nuisances I had to learn,” Manuel said, via the Bills website. “Obviously, I didn’t want to go down with an injury because I’m a competitive player. I go hard each and every time I step on the field. It just so happened that I had to come down with an injury. I moved past it. Thankfully, I am 100 percent healthy right now. I feel like I’m stronger than I was last year, so I’m looking forward to moving on.”

There were some shaky reports about Manuel’s play during the spring, particularly when it came to accuracy, and Manuel says he’s been working on developing chemistry with new wideouts Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams. The hope is that increased familiarity will help Manuel’s passes find their target more frequently because anything less will leave the Bills with bigger questions to answer next offseason.

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Rams are 20th in PFT’s preseason power rankings

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The St. Louis Rams are no longer one of the worst teams in the NFL.

The Rams won just 15 games in five seasons between 2007 and 2011 but have risen back into the middle class of the league over the past two seasons. St. Louis has won seven games in each of the last two years but has yet to mount a true challenge against the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers for control of the division. The Arizona Cardinals even usurped the Rams as the biggest threat to the Seahawks and 49ers in 2013.

We have the Rams ranked 20th in the league as teams close in on their reporting dates for training camp. Sam Bradford’s performance will go a long way toward determining the fate of the Rams this season and whether St. Louis will be in the quarterback market again next spring.

Our full Rams preview is located here. Tell us in the poll below if you feel the Rams deserve the ranking we gave them heading into the season.

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Ravens’ Jimmy Smith arrested for disorderly conduct

Jimmy Smith AP

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has been arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, the fifth arrest for a Ravens player this offseason.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Smith was cited for failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer after authorities arrived at a bar, responding to a call about an unconscious woman in a bathroom. When police arrived, Smith was with the woman and said he was trying to assist her, but he would not move way after police repeatedly asked him to step aside so paramedics could attend to her.

“We’re gathering information about this,” Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne told the paper.

Smith was released from custody at 11:15 p.m. on Saturday. The woman was taken to a hospital, and police say she was intoxicated.

The Ravens’ other arrests this offseason: Lorenzo Taliaferro for destruction of property and public intoxication, Jah Reid for two counts of battery, Deonte Thompson for suspicion of possession of marijuana and Ray Rice for assault.

Although Smith has stayed out of trouble previously in his NFL career, he had several off-field incidents in both high school and college that led him to drop to the end of the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. Smith has looked like a good draft pick in the three seasons since then, but this arrest only adds to a disappointing offseason in Baltimore.

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Sunday morning one-liners

Jason Witten AP

Can DE Jacquies Smith win a spot on the Bills roster?

Matt Moore has embraced his role as backup quarterback for the Dolphins.

Checking in on the progress of the Patriots’ second-year players.

Setting the training camp stage for the Jets quarterbacks.

Ravens OL John Urschel is also a promising mathematician.

The Bengals website provided 58 things to ponder with 58 days to go before the season starts.

QB Brian Hoyer’s Cleveland pride goes deeper than his presence on the Browns roster.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin will wait for the team’s running backs to sort out their pecking order by themselves.

The home of the Texans will play host to a soccer match between Italian team A.C. Milan and Mexican team Chivas in August.

Burning questions are hard to find when it comes to the Colts quarterbacks.

What are the most daunting matchups for the Jaguars this season?

Everything you ever needed to know about the Titans’ shower habits.

Previewing the Broncos special teams units.

Chiefs S Husain Abdullah took part in a traditional “Ghagba” dinner in Qatar.

Discussing Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew’s belief that London is ready for an NFL team.

The Chargers hosted the Alex Spanos All-Star Classic for local high school football standouts.

Said Cowboys DE Anthony Spencer of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, “Football is like a religion to him. You can tell in the way he talks about it. He is like a preacher. He believes in it so much. He believes that if you do the right things on the football field you also become a good person off it.”

The Giants website identifies potential sleepers to watch at training camp.

LB Connor Barwin and other Eagles showed off their hoop skills at RB LeSean McCoy’s charity game.

How many new faces will there be on the Redskins this season?

Safety looks like the hottest position battle for the Bears this summer.

How will the Lions’ backup cornerback depth chart shake out during camp?

The Packers website shares some memories of RB Dorsey Levens.

Former Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper thinks his old team got a gem in Teddy Bridgewater.

Previewing the state of affairs at wide receiver for the Falcons.

Former Panthers DL Brentson Buckner shares his thoughts on the current Panthers team.

Saints CB Keenan Lewis hosted a football camp with Dolphins WR Mike Wallace.

T Jeremy Trueblood makes this list of 20 underwhelming Buccaneers.

Can the Cardinals back up the confidence they bring into the 2014 season?

A look back at the Rams’ first trip to the Super Bowl.

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick got a big new tattoo before camp.

Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin says his hip is feeling much better.

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Report: DEA investigating prescription drug distribution in the NFL

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NFL locker rooms are reportedly the focus of a federal investigation into abuse of prescription medication.

The New York Daily News reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration has launched an investigation into the abuse of prescription medication in the NFL. Agents are talking to former players about how NFL doctors and trainers treat players with drugs like Percodan, Vicodin and Toradol, all of which players have said they are given by members of their teams’ medical staff.

“They want to find out who provided and distributed the drugs to football players,” one source told the newspaper.

The investigation began after a group of former players sued the NFL, saying they were not warned of possible side effects of taking the prescription medication that team doctors gave out. When that lawsuit was filed, it was easy to assume that the owners could make it go away with a settlement, just as they’ve managed to find a settlement to the concussion litigation that will satisfy most of the plaintiffs without bankrupting the league.

But a DEA investigation is very different, and potentially a much more serious problem for the NFL.

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Broncos view anything short of a championship as a disappointment

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Losing the Super Bowl left a bitter taste in the Broncos’ mouths.

That’s why, as Denver cornerback Chris Harris says, this year there’s no satisfaction with being the second-best team in the NFL. The Broncos view a championship as their only goal, and anything less as a disappointment.

“Guys know what’s at stake this year, at least they should — it’s Super Bowl or bust for us,” Harris told ESPN. “It means a lot for this team for all of us to come back and hit the ground running fast. Especially the young guys, if they weren’t paying attention at OTAs and minicamp, but to make this Broncos team this year, these cats on defense better be working out because Peyton Manning will make you look crazy.”

In a sense, that’s every team’s view: At this time of year, every team in the league is dreaming of hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy. But the Broncos may feel that urgency more than any other team. A great season last year ended with a terrible performance in the Super Bowl, and all of the Broncos’ offseason moves indicated that they’re trying to win now, while Manning is still the top quarterback in the league. Compared to most teams, the Broncos’ 2013 season was a success. But a repeat of last year would be viewed as a disappointment in Denver.

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Eli Manning says new system has “reenergized” him

Eli Manning AP

The easy thing for the Giants to have done this offseason is point to Super Bowl trophies and let Eli Manning do what he’s been doing.

Instead, the veteran quarterback is learning a new offense this offseason, which he said is exciting for him.

It’s reenergized me,” Manning said, via Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News. “I’m trying to speed up the process of getting comfortable in the new system. I don’t have 10 years. I have a few months.”

Manning is using his last few days before training camp getting some extra work in. While helping run the Manning Passing Academy back in Louisiana, he’s getting some extra work in on the side with new wide receiver Odell Beckham, the Giants’ first-rounder.

“Good to get some one-on-one time here,” Manning said.

Between the new offense and having ankle surgery in April, Manning will have more pressure than ever when he goes to camp. If he handles both challenges well, the Giants have an opportunity to make a jump in a division full of uncertainty.

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Will Vernon Davis show up for training camp?

Super Bowl XLVII Media Day Getty Images

With 49ers guard Alex Boone reportedly intent on holding out of training camp until he gets a new deal, the bigger question for the franchise is whether tight end Vernon Davis will do the same.

Davis has sent mixed signals in recent weeks regarding his intentions and his objectives.  Most recently, he created the impression that, if he doesn’t get a new deal, he’ll show up for camp after skipping the offseason program.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that, at the present time, Davis would not be reporting.  That doesn’t mean he won’t show; with nine days to go, Davis can change his mind and change it back again a few times or more before the time comes to report for duty.

The 49ers reportedly won’t negotiate with Boone or Davis until they show up.  If they boycott camp, the team will be able to fine them $30,000 per day and also to pursue a portion of any signing bonus money previously paid.

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Tomlin says Archer will play running back and receiver

Archer AP

Steelers rookie third-rounder Dri Archer recently said he’s not sure what his duties will be in his first NFL season, but that he expects to have a big role.  His coach provided some clarity on Friday.

Appearing on NFL Network, Mike Tomlin said that Archer will play both running back and receiver in 2014.

“We’re gonna work to get the ball in his hands in space,” Tomlin said.

It’s still unclear how many reps Archer will get at tailback, especially with Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount at the top of the depth chart.  Tomlin added that the “division of labor” among the tailbacks will sort itself out during camp.

Archer also is expected to compete for opportunities in the return game, which could make him a multi-purpose weapon, if his speed translates to the next level.

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Joe Haden thinks the Browns and Cavs can both win big

Joe Haden AP

The Browns are approaching legitimacy, building a strong defense which could buy time for an offense that’s losing a key part, but adding a potential star in quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Their NBA neighbors got the quick-fix Friday, gaining superstar LeBron James.

But Browns cornerback Joe Haden said he wasn’t sure which team would win a title first.

“LeBron makes things happen pretty quickly, so we’re going to have to get to it,” Haden said during an NFL Network appearance, via the Akron Beacon Journal. ” I say it’s going to be a tight fight. I know me and Manziel will be pushing to make that happen before. That’s why LeBron is coming here to bring a championship to the city and I’m trying to do the same thing.”

Haden joked that he’d give James his jersey number 23 if he’d join the Browns, but noted that the buzz around the NBA team didn’t discount the progress they’ve made.

“Even if LeBron hadn’t have come, I felt really confident about what we got going on as far as the Browns organization and the way the direction that we’re going,” he said. “This is just nothing but add-on to it. This just boosts peoples’ spirits up. I think at the end of the day, what we have with the Browns we feel like we can games, we feel like our defense is very, very, very strong. With [Johnny] Manziel and [Brian] Hoyer fighting for the quarterback position, Ben Tate at running back — we’ve got a lot of different moving positions on offense. It could be special for us. I think with this team, we’re going to have a really big push.”

The simple math of 22 starters vs. five means it’s easier for one player to make a huge difference for the team, but if Manziel can play to the star-status he’s reached by hanging around James, the Browns could be interesting in the next few years.

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Archie Manning: 2014 Saints may be the best in franchise history

Former NFL quarterback Archie Manning arrives for the Inaugural National Football League Honors at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis Reuters

Archie Manning spent 11 seasons in New Orleans, and he was never on a good team: The Saints’ record in games he started was 35-91-3, and never did they finish a season above .500. So it should go without saying that the Saints today are a much better team than the Saints teams that Manning played on.

But Manning would go further than that: He believes that the 2014 Saints are the best team the franchise has ever seen.

The Saints are really good,” Manning told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “They’re really good — what [coordinator] Rob Ryan did with their defense last year, and they’ve still got [coach] Sean Payton and Drew [Brees]. I think the Saints’ lineup on paper to start the season is maybe as strong as I’ve ever seen before.”

Manning may be right. There are plenty of reasons for Saints fans to be optimistic that this year’s Saints could be a Super Bowl team. Maybe a team good enough to beat Archie’s son Peyton in the Super Bowl. Again.

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Lions check in at No. 21 in our preseason power rankings

stafford AP

Jim Schwartz is out and Jim Caldwell is in as the head coach of the Lions, but will they be any better this year?

Not really, at least as we see it. The Lions, who squandered a golden opportunity to run away with the NFC North late last season and ended the year at 7-9, look like they’re going to finish this season in the same range: We’ve got them at No. 21 in our preseason power rankings.

You can read the full Lions preview right here, but what it basically comes down to is that we’re not sold on Matthew Stafford developing as the kind of franchise quarterback Detroit needs, and we’re not sold that the Lions have any cornerbacks who can shut down opposing wide receivers.

PFT Planet, let us know if you think we’re too high, too low or right on the money in our ranking of the Lions.

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Source says evidence indicates Pounceys did not assault accuser

Maurkice Pouncey AP

Although police are investigating after a man claimed early this morning that he was assaulted by Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT the preliminary evidence indicates the Pounceys were not involved in the alleged assault.

The Pouncey twins were having their annual birthday party at the Cameo nightclub in Miami Beach on Friday night and into Saturday morning. A man named Ricky Vasquez posted several messages on Twitter and Instagram saying he was assaulted at the club by four bouncers and the Pouncey twins.

Vasquez said he went to the hospital for medical treatment that included 10 stitches.

Police have confirmed they are investigating the situation but have not confirmed that the Pounceys are the subjects of the investigation.

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Joel Dreessen: Low pay for tight ends is frustrating

Joel Dreessen AP

Add Denver’s Joel Dreessen to the list of NFL tight ends who aren’t thrilled with the way they get paid.

Dreessen said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that in the wake of Saints tight end Jimmy Graham losing his arbitration ruling, tight ends are feeling underpaid. Dreessen agreed with Tony Gonzalez, who said players should be paid based on production, not their position.

“It actually kind of strikes a nerve,” Dreessen said. “Tight end was historically one of the lowest-paid positions in the league. We don’t get paid as much as offensive linemen, we certainly don’t get paid as much as wide receivers for those top-tier contracts. But we’re asked to do so much. We’re asked to play special teams, we’ve got to know every single pass pattern, protection and run game. So it’s kind of frustrating that the guys who get asked to do probably the second most behind the quarterback are kind of down there on the pay scale.”

Dreessen is a backup who caught only seven passes last season, so it’s not like he would be making top-shelf money even if elite tight ends were paid as much as elite wide receivers. But on principle, he believes the best tight ends’ contracts should be on par with the contracts of the best wide receivers in the NFL. In reality, the tight end pay scale is well behind the scale for wide receivers.

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