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Report: Steve Smith release coming later today

Steve Smith AP

Much like the Buccaneers in their futile attempt to move Darrelle Revis and his contract, the Panthers have been dragging their heels on Steve Smith, praying someone would trade for him.

They’ve apparently realized that’s not happening.

According to Bill Voth of SportsXchange, the Panthers will release Smith today, ending his 13-year career with the team.

Smith has already indicated on his Twitter feed that he intends to keep playing, which will make for a fascinating choice.

His wife is pregnant with their fourth child and he’s settled in Charlotte, so he doesn’t want to go far. And while he’s matured, he has enough spite left in him that sticking it to the Panthers after a graceless exit is something that might appeal to him.

That makes Tampa Bay (where his close friend Josh McCown just signed) a possibility, though he’ll have several options.

Teams may not be buying the same game-breaking player he once was. But they’re getting one that’s highly motivated to prove a point.

Just as Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman apparently was.

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Revis calls Brady “probably the best player to play the game”

bradyrevis AP

Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis has faced plenty of good quarterbacks, but he thinks the one he faces in practice is the best.

And when Revis says that, he doesn’t just mean Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL right now. According to Revis, Brady will likely be remembered as the single greatest player in the history of the game of football.

“It’s pretty awesome to go up against Brady all the time,” Revis said today. “This guy is probably going to go down as probably the best player to play the game, the best quarterback to play the game. It’s great to get that competition when we practice against him in practice.”

That’s a bold statement. Whether Brady or Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of their era is a frequent topic of conversation in the NFL world, but Revis is going beyond just calling Brady the best of his day. Revis is saying Brady will likely be remembered as a greater player than Jim Brown or Jerry Rice or Sammy Baugh or Lawrence Taylor or Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana.

Revis may be going a little far in proclaiming Brady that great. But if Brady were to add another Super Bowl MVP to his resume on Sunday, perhaps it will be time to consider whether Revis is right, and Brady is the best ever.

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Josh McDaniels defends ineligible receiver plays

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While not everyone thinks it is within the sporting bounds, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Wednesday opponents have had plenty of time to adjust.

When asked about running an uptempo offense and using deception, McDaniels cut off a question to make a point.

One thing about that that I’d like to clear up is we didn’t do any of those things [with ineligible receivers] without huddling,” McDaniels said, via Mike Reiss of “When we did those things the last couple of games, we huddled every time we did it with the ineligible player. We substituted, we huddled, we declared him ineligible, the official declared him ineligible, and then we lined up.”

The Ravens might not agree, after they got caught with their collective pants down in the divisional round.

But McDaniels insisted everything was within the rules.

“I think we’ve only done it five times all year; we’ve huddled every time,” he said. “We’ve reported every time ineligible and once we did that we broke the huddle, we lined up and we ran the play. We didn’t try to hurry. We didn’t try to do anything that was deceptive in that manner. I think it was unique for a few plays. We ran it a couple times last week against Indianapolis and got nothing out of it [incomplete pass and sack]. Everybody talks about those couple Baltimore plays, but Indianapolis defended it very well. It’s just something we tried the one week and it gave us a little spark.”

If nothing else, it has given the Seahawks one more thing to think about and prepare for, which might be as effective as any yards they gain on the plays.

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Browns hiring Joker Phillips as wide receivers coach

Joker Phillips AP

The Browns are still looking for a quarterbacks coach to join Mike Pettine’s staff for the 2015 season, but they’ve found someone to work with their wide receivers.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the team will hire Joker Phillips to fill that role. Phillips was most recently the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Florida in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, a job he took after spending three years as the head coach at the University of Kentucky. He led the Wildcats to a 13-24 record during those seasons and the Browns job will be his first in the NFL.

Phillips will be tasked with shaping up a group that likely won’t include Josh Gordon. Gordon is expected to serve a suspension for the 2015 season after a positive test for alcohol triggered a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. With Miles Austin set to become a free agent, the top receivers currently under contract and expected to be available are Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel.

Phillips replaces Mike McDaniel, who left the team along with former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan at the end of the season.

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Ravens finalize coaching staff

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The Ravens filled the most prominent opening on John Harbaugh’s coaching staff by hiring Marc Trestman as their new offensive coordinator last week and they’ve taken care of the other open spots.

The team announced one new arrival and several promotions on Wednesday. The newcomer is Andy Bischoff, who was on Trestman’s staff in Chicago as the tight ends coach and will be the offensive quality control coach in Baltimore.

Richard Angulo has been promoted from offensive assistant to tight ends coach, where he will replace Brian Pariani. Pariani went to Denver with former offensive coordinator and new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak.

The team has also promoted assistant secondary coach Chris Hewitt to the head position coach job vacated by Steve Spagnuolo, who returned for a second stint as Tom Coughlin’s defensive coordinator with the Giants. Matt Weiss has made the move from defensive quality control and linebackers coach to assist Hewitt as the cornerbacks coach.

Finally, Drew Wilkins and Mike Macdonald have both been named defensive assistants after serving in other capacities with the team during the 2014 season.

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Marshawn Lynch to media: “You know why I’m here”

Super Bowl XLIX Media Day Fueled by Gatorade Getty Images

Marshawn Lynch’s second press conference of Super Bowl week was similar to his first.

One day after repeatedly answering questions by saying he was “just here so I won’t get fined,” Lynch responded to numerous reporters’ queries Wednesday with this response:

“You know why I’m here.”

The “why” is obvious — avoiding fines from the NFL for not complying with media policy. The “how” is clear, too — the Seahawks’ star tailback will appear at these press conferences, but he will appear on his terms.

“I’m still the same person I was yesterday, and I’ve got the same thing for you that I had yesterday,” Lynch told reporters at the beginning of his press conference Wednesday.

When a reporter asked the tailback why he wouldn’t use press conferences as a way to communicate with fans, Lynch replied: “They know why I’m here.”

According to Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean, Lynch used a timer to measure how long he would stay, and after four minutes and 58 seconds, he left, thanking reporters before departing.

As was the case Tuesday, Lynch wore a cap with a “Beast Mode” logo emblazoned on the crest. According to ESPN, the NFL “will review” whether the hat is allowable under the league’s brand apparel policy. If not, Lynch could be fined.

Lynch’s final compulsory media session is Thursday.

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Report: Eagles assistant doesn’t want 49ers coordinator job

Carolina Panthers v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The 49ers chose tranquility and control over Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff.

And now, it looks like they’re having a hard time finding people willing to join new coach Jim Tomsula’s staff.

Via Geoff Mosher of, Tomsula and Eagles receivers coach Bob Bicknell talked about the vacant 49ers offensive coordinator job, but Bicknell wants to stay with the Eagles.

The 49ers were also denied a chance to talk to Colts assistant Rob Chudzinski, and .they could be scrambling to fill a staff.

Moving quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst into that job might be the most sensible option they have with other reported additions to the staff.

But very little about the 49ers can be described as sensible the last several months, so that may not matter.

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Undrafted Patriots are thankful Belichick noticed them

klineconnolly AP

Bill Belichick hasn’t always had a great track record for effectively using his high draft picks. But one area where Belichick excels as a General Manager is in finding undrafted free agents, many of whom will play important roles on Super Bowl Sunday.

Several of the Patriots’ undrafted players told PFT today that they think of New England as a good place for undrafted players, because Belichick’s mindset is that the players who earn playing time will play, regardless of their draft status, their contracts or anything else.

Patriots offensive lineman Ryan Wendell arrived as an undrafted free agent from Fresno State in 2008. He said he had several offers from other teams to sign on their offseason rosters, but when Belichick called it became an easy decision.

“When Bill Belichick calls, it’s hard to say no,” Wendell said.

Wendell said he wasn’t expecting to get drafted and only hoped for a shot in the NFL.

“I knew there was a slim chance,” Wendell said. “Playing in the NFL has been a dream. It’s been an amazing experience.”

Offensive lineman Josh Kline wasn’t expecting to be drafted, either, but during the seventh round of the 2013 draft he started getting phone calls from teams offering him invitations to rookie minicamps. He said he felt like the Patriots were going to be a better fit for him than any other teams that showed interest because he believed they’d give him an honest shot of making the roster.

“The Patriots see more potential than other teams,” Kline said. “They find talent that other teams don’t see.”

Guard Dan Connolly signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2005, spent two years as a backup in Jacksonville, and then signed in New England after the Jaguars cut him. Connolly has become a consistent starter with the Patriots, and he said in New England, it’s understood that every player is always trying to prove himself — just as an undrafted rookie has to do in training camp.

“I was coming out of a small school [Southeast Missouri State] and just hoping to find a place in the NFL,” Connolly said. “Even after years in the NFL, I can always improve.”

Players with that mindset are Belichick’s kind of players.

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Pete Carroll backs Marshawn Lynch’s silent act

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

As Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch braces himself for two more days of scheduled availability, his coach is doing his best to defend his player.

Pete Carroll just finished a well-explained explanation for Lynch’s reticence to play along with the media, saying he’s a team leader and simply not comfortable in the role.

“You’re seeing a guy being himself, and not being what everyone else wants him to be,” Carroll said.

Which is fine, such that it fits within a system with rules and consequences.

While we’ve long passed the point of gleaning any insights from Lynch at a podium, the only thing happening now is turning him into a martyr — which he clearly relishes.

Teammates rally around him, fans love the anti-hero quality, and the media’s an easy pinata. Everyone gets that.

But as he’s made commercials for insurance and candy recently, Lynch is showing that he’s not camera-shy. He just wants to engage in communication on his own terms.

And as long as he’s willing to pay the cover charge, he can party in that club all he wants.

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Report: Browns interview Kevin O’Connell for QBs coach role

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots Getty Images

A former Patriots backup quarterback is reportedly being considered for the Browns’ quarterbacks coach position.

Kevin O’Connell, a third-round pick of New England in 2008, is meeting with Cleveland on Wednesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.

The 29-year-old O’Connell appeared in just two regular season games with New England, both as a reserve as a rookie. The Patriots parted ways with him before the 2009 regular season. He later had stints with the Jets, Lions, Dolphins and Chargers.

More recently, O’Connell has been a quarterbacking tutor, and he worked with Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel before the 2014 draft. Manziel comes off a disappointing rookie season, one that saw his play and preparation come under criticism. And as the 2015 offseason begins, Manziel’s development figures a top priority for Cleveland.

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Marshawn Lynch faces a possible fine, but not for not talking


Seahawks running might Marshawn Lynch might have avoided a fine yesterday by saying he was just there to avoid a fine, but his plan might have had a hitch.

Via Adam Schefter of ESPN, Lynch’s wearing a non-licensed hat could subject him to another financial penalty.

The league’s going to review it after the Super Bowl, but there’s plenty of precedent for guys taking big financial hits for promoting brands that the league’s not promoting. Brian Urlacher was docked $100,000 for wearing a hat promoting a beverage that was not the beverage which paid the league a lot more money than that for promotional exclusivity.

Lynch’s hat was to promote his personal brand, which makes the case a bit different. The league didn’t comment, and we’re guessing Lynch won’t either.

But it’s clear he doesn’t feel subject to the same rules as everyone else, and is all too happy to build a counter-culture stick-it-to-the-man image for his own financial benefit.

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It’s easy to quickly deflate a football

Football Getty Images

As the news regarding #DeflateGate has slowed to an enlarged-prostate trickle (for now), the biggest remaining questions are:  (1) what did that Patriots employee do with a bag of footballs in 90 seconds behind a closed door?; and (2) is 90 seconds enough time to let air out of nearly a dozen footballs?

Barring a deathbed (or sooner) confession, we’ll never know the answer to the first question.  As to the second question, plenty of folks have been experimenting with footballs and needles.

On Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, for example, I inserted a needle for a few seconds into a ball that had been inflated to 13.5 PSI.  A loud hiss emerged, and when the needle was removed it was easier to squeeze the ball.  It became clear to me then that, if someone wanted to deflate 10-12 balls in 90 seconds, it would indeed be possible.

Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Daily News performed a more organized test, taking 12 balls that had been inflated to 13 PSI and removed two PSI in a total of 40 seconds.  Adding in the time necessary to open the bag and to access the balls and to enter and exit the bathroom, the exercise took 77 seconds.

Kuntzman isn’t the only one who has done it.  One highly-placed official with an NFL team “took the top off” a dozen balls in a mere 56 seconds.

“Next time I’m gonna pee as well,” the source said.

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PFT Live comes to you from Super Bowl Radio Row at noon ET

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Getty Images

We’ve drawn a day closer to the Super Bowl and gotten through Media Day, but there’s still plenty to talk about regarding the Patriots and Seahawks before Sunday.

We’ll be doing it with several great guests on Wednesday’s installment of PFT Live. Former NFL rushing leader LaDainian Tomlinson and former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward will give us the view from former NFL stars while current Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor and Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will share their thoughts on the Super Bowl while also talking about their own futures in the game. Greg Cosell of NFL Films is also scheduled to be on the show.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. You can call the show by dialing 855-323-4NBC, email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. And, again, you can also watch a simulcast of all three hours of the show by clicking right here.

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Tom Brady Has a Cold

Tom Brady AP

As he met the Super Bowl media Wednesday morning, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared to be dealing with a cold, sounding congested, sniffling on occasion and wiping his nose on sleeve a couple times.

Asked about the cold, Brady indicated it was . . . well, a cold.

“Yeah, I’ve had it for four or five days,” Brady said. “My kids got sick, and then my wife’s pretty sick right now, so I brought it, unfortunately, to Phoenix. But I’ll be fine. I’ll be good.”

Asked a follow-up about how Patriots fans might be a little concerned about his health, Brady replied: “I’ll be at 100 percent. Yeah, I’ll be great. I’m not worried about it all.”

Patriots fans probably shouldn’t worry, either. And if they are, we have the perfect prescription to help pass a little time.

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Washington hires Mark Clark as strength and conditioning coach

The Philadelphia Eagles play the Washington Redskins Getty Images

The Redskins continued turning over their coaching staff on Tuesday with a pair of hires.

The team made official the addition of former Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell as their new defensive backs coach and also announced that Mark Clark will be joining the team as their new strength and conditioning coach.

Clark worked for the Bears in the same role for the last three years and was in Kansas City for three years before that. His first NFL job came with the Seahawks, who hired him in 2004 and kept him on the staff until he departed after the 2009 season. He spent 23 years in the college ranks before that and was twice named the Strength Coach of the Year by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association when he was at Texas A&M.

Clark replaces Ray Wright, who was fired early this month after five years with the club. The moves continue a busy offseason that’s seen the Redskins make defensive coordinator Joe Barry and offensive line coach Bill Callahan a pair of high-profile additions to Jay Gruden’s staff.

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Seahawks G.M.: John Idzik just needed more time

John Idzik AP

Former Jets General Manager John Idzik was a part of a good front office in Seattle, and his old boss thinks the Jets didn’t give him enough time to succeed.

Via Brian Costello of the New York Post, Seahawks G.M. John Schneider thinks Idzik could have succeeded eventually.

I felt bad for him,” Schneider said. “I think that, it’s just my personal opinion that you should be able to hire a head coach. If you’re going into a situation like that, try to make it work with the coach that’s there and then if it doesn’t, hire your own coach and see where it goes. . . .

“It’s an entertainment industry, so you know going in that it’s tough, especially in New York City. We just talked about staying positive and what his next step is going to be. We’re just good friends.”

Of course, Idzik never got a chance to hire that coach, as he and Rex Ryan were swept out after two years, and it remains to be seen when or if there is a next step for Idzik.

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