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Report: Loucheiz Purifoy was caught with drugs, avoided arrest

loucheizpurifoy AP

Loucheiz Purifoy, a former Florida cornerback who is expected to be drafted next month, reportedly was caught with drugs last month and avoided arrest by agreeing to work as a police informant.

Now the matter of how Purifoy avoided arrest is the subject of an investigation. The Gainesville Sun reports that Purifoy never made himself available to officers to serve as an informant, so the Alachua County sheriff, whose officers originally stopped Purifoy, has asked the Gainesville Police Department to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.

According to the report, Purifoy was caught with marijuana and the synthetic drug known as bath salts. Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell wrote in a letter to Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones that after Purifoy failed to act as an informant an arrest warrant issued for him was quashed, and now the matter needs to be investigated.

“Based on probable cause developed by the deputy, an arrest warrant was issued for Loucheiz Purifoy for April 4, 2014, after he failed to fulfill his end of the bargain,” Darnell wrote. “The action to quash the warrant is highly unusual and, as a result, I have numerous questions as to the propriety of how this occurred.”

Purifoy was previously arrested for marijuana possession in February of 2013, and the Gators suspended him for the first game of the season. If he can stay out of trouble off the field, Purifoy has the talent to be a major contributor in the NFL: At Florida he was a starting cornerback, played a little wide receiver and was outstanding on special teams as a returner, on kick coverage and in blocking kicks.

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DeMarcus Lawrence carted off from Cowboys practice

Lawrence AP

An historically bad Cowboys defense won’t get any better in 2014 if its players can’t stay healthy.  While no injury this year can be as bad for the effort as the one suffered in the offseason by middle linebacker Sean Lee, each and every additional injury makes it harder for the Cowboys to turn things around.

The latest injury happened at practice on Tuesday night, with rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence exiting practice via cart ride, per multiple reports.  Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says it could be an ankle injury.

Whatever the specific injury, it’s not a good development for a team that had an embarrassingly bad defense in 2013.

Lawrence, the 34th overall pick in the 2014 draft, is expected to help fill the void created by the release of DeMarcus Ware, a rare bright spot who was dumped due to concerns that his salary is to high — and who then got more money this year from the Broncos.

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Stephen A. Smith gets a one-week suspension

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Ray Rice’s suspension has spawned another one.

Stephen A. Smith, who foolishly suggested that women may play a role in provoking illegal violence from the men in their lives and then doubled down on Twitter before finally apologizing via teleprompter, has been suspended for a week by ESPN.  He won’t appear on ESPN2’s First Take or ESPN Radio (which he’s leaving for Sirius Mad Dog Radio anyway) until August 6.

“I believe his apology was sincere and that he and we have learned from what we’ve collectively experienced,” ESPN president John Skipper said, via the Associated Press.

While Smith’s apology may have been sincere, it apparently wasn’t a one-time slip of the tongue.

Given that the suspension came four days after the comments were uttered, the suspension likely was the result of a more lengthy and detailed conversation that possibly considered other options.  Those options may have included a longer suspension, or maybe a permanent one.

On one hand, stupid opinions and/or good opinions articulated stupidly can be stupid enough to result in tangible employment consequences.  On the other hand, the “embrace debate” premise of First Take creates an environment in which stupid opinions and/or good opinions articulated stupidly are encouraged, if not required.

Last year, stupid opinions about Robert Griffin III on First Take got Rob Parker fired.  Now, Smith has been suspended and possibly placed on a leash so short that he’ll have to tiptoe on eggshells to avoid stepping on a land mine.

Maybe the problem isn’t Parker or Smith but the show itself.  Debate should be authentic and organic.  When a network demands that a pair of analysts come up with diametrically opposed and yet equally hot takes on multiple topics per day, it’s somewhat amazing that the format hasn’t claimed more careers.

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Five questions: Cleveland Browns

Manziel AP

Since returning to the NFL in 1999 after a three-year hiatus, the Browns have had more lows than highs.  One playoff appearance a dozen years ago, one other winning season, and otherwise futility.

In recent years, the futility has flowed in large part from inconsistency, with four coaches and four General Managers since 2009.  Before the Browns can contend, the front office and the coaching staff need to stabilize.  It’s unclear whether that will happen.  But that’s not one of the five specific questions I’ve selected to address as the season approaches.

These are.

1.  Who will be the quarterback?

After the Browns traded up from No. 26 to No. 22 in round one to snag Johnny Manziel, the Browns opted not to install Manziel as the starter.  It’s possible, if not likely, that it was part of the effort to short-circuit the immediate ascension of Manziel to the same kind of power Robert Griffin III had (and likely still has) in Washington.

Nevertheless empowered by the team’s apparent acceptance of a “Work Hard, Play Harder” two-sided offseason T-shirt motto, Manziel eventually took it too far, hanging out with Justin Bieber and rolling up a dollar bill after the team told him to tone it down.

With an owner who isn’t bashful about handing out pink slips but with termination not an option, the next best way to send a message to Manziel becomes sending him to the bench.  Which is what the Browns now apparently plan to do, given the ongoing praise heaped upon Brian Hoyer.

It’s a dangerous game, for multiple reasons.  First, making Manziel the backup means exposing him to injury in the preseason behind the No. 2 offensive line.  Second, it opens the door for another Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn do-si-do that could delay the date on which Manziel ascends to the job they surely want him to have.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t have drafted him.

2.  Who will run the ball?

Ben Tate arrived via free agency, Terrance West comes to Cleveland through the draft.  Tate presumably will get the first crack at becoming the primary ball carrier, but his contract doesn’t point inescapably to Tate being the clear-cut bell cow.

“Competition is needed to have a good team,” Tate recently told reporters.  “You look at San Francisco. You look at Seattle. There’s competition at every position. Obviously you know who their guy is, but there are guys behind them that are good that can push them.  That’s what’s needed so I don’t see it as a threat.”

It’s only a threat for Tate if the competition results in a conclusion that West is a better option that Tate.

3.  What’s the plan at receiver?

Josh Gordon may or may not be suspended for the year, and the Browns haven’t done much to plan for life without him.  Miles Austin and Nate Burleson arrived via free agency, but both guys aren’t who they used to be.

G.M. Ray Farmer has defended the failure to make a move to replace Gordon by explaining that Super Bowl champs rarely have dominant receivers.  Of course, Super Bowl champs also often don’t have elite left tackles, but it’s unlikely that the Browns will be cutting Joe Thomas any time soon.

Perhaps the Browns ultimately played it right, if Gordon’s low concentration of marijuana metabolites and luck-of-the-draw “A” bottle/”B” bottle discrepancy results in a short suspension or none at all.  One way or another, we’ll know the answer soon enough.

4.  Will Kyle Shanahan be more flexible with Manziel?

The Browns possibly would like a Mulligan when it comes to drafting Manziel.  New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan possibly would like a Mulligan of his own when it comes to taking a job with the team that drafted Manziel.

Kyle Shanahan ensured two years of RGIII in D.C., with plenty of dysfunction fueled by a quarterback who wouldn’t or couldn’t be coached the way Shanahan wanted to coach him to the degree that Shanahan likes to coach/control all of his quarterbacks.

Shanahan wants everything done according to his plan.  Manziel does some of his best work when the plan disintegrates into no plan at all.  Whenever Manziel plays, Shanahan will need to become more flexible, or he’ll lose whatever is left of his mind after 2012 and 2013.

5.  How good is the defense?

Pretty good.

Lost in all the talk about the team’s offense is a defense that finished in the top 10 both for yards and points allowed.  Sure, coordinator Ray Horton is gone after a year, and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and safety T.J. Ward have been swapped out for Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner, respectively.  But head coach Mike Pettine, who made a major impact during his only season with the Bills after stepping out of Rex Ryan’s shrinking shadow, could push the finished product to even greater heights.

To get there, Pettine needs to get more out of pass rushers Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo.  If forgotten top-10 cornerback Justin Gilbert can make a quick impact, he and Joe Haden could quickly become of the best tandems in the league.

The end result could be a defense that’s even better than it was a year ago, and in turn an offense that benefits from fewer points allowed, better field position, and more turnovers.

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Mike Smith: Steven Jackson “will be ready” for Week One after hamstring injury

Steven Jackson AP

We may have to wait until the regular season to see whether Steven Jackson has returned to top form.

Jackson, the Falcons’ starting tailback, sustained a left hamstring injury on Monday, coach Mike Smith told reporters today.

The good news? Smith anticipates Jackson will be available for the September 7 regular season opener against New Orleans.

“I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s going to be real significant. He will be ready for the first game,” Smith said.

Jackson dealt with hamstring and toe injuries and missed four games in 2013, his first season with Atlanta. However, Smith said Jackson injured the opposite hamstring on Monday.

The 31-year-old Jackson rushed for a career-low 543 yards on 157 carries last season, gaining just 3.5 yards per carry.

Fourth-year pro Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Devonta Freeman are among the top reserve options behind Jackson, who’s entering his 11th NFL season.

Jackson probably didn’t figure to get too much work in the exhibition games; he had a combined 25 carries in three preseason games in 2013, and he didn’t play at all in the finale. The play of Rodgers and Freeman now becomes something to watch all the more closely during the summer. Freeman, a fourth-rounder from Florida State, is the key new addition to a running game that struggled a season ago.

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Urban Meyer doesn’t get why the NFL doesn’t want a 47.9% passer

Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow AP

Tim Tebow remains out of the NFL, as he has for 11 months since the Patriots cut him at the end of last preseason. And Tebow’s coach at Florida, Urban Meyer, remains baffled that no NFL team will sign Tebow.

Meyer, now the coach at Ohio State, said at Big Ten Media Day that he can’t figure out why Tebow isn’t in a training camp.

I still don’t get that part of it,” Meyer said. “He’s the second-most efficient passer ever to play college football. . . . He’ll be successful in whatever he does, but he’s such a good player. I just wish it would work out for him.”

Since Meyer can’t figure it out, let me explain it to him: Tebow can’t get an NFL job because the essence of playing quarterback in the NFL is throwing a football accurately, and Tebow is not an accurate passer. Tebow has a career completion rate of 47.9 percent. That is, frankly, awful. Name a terrible NFL quarterback, and you can just about guarantee that he has a better career completion percentage than Tebow. Brandon Weeden? 55.9 percent. Blaine Gabbert? 53.3 percent. JaMarcus Russell? 52.1 percent.

It’s easy to see why Meyer loves Tebow, given the success the two had together at Florida. And in a world where Weeden and Gabbert still have jobs, it’s not unfair to ask why Tebow can’t get one. Tebow did, after all, provide the Broncos with a spark in 2011, leading them to a playoff victory. But even in that 2011 season, Tebow’s inaccurate passing was a huge problem. Tebow completed just 126 of 271 passes that season, a completion rate of 46.5 percent. Tebow remains the only NFL quarterback this century to throw more than 270 passes in a season while completing less than 47 percent of them. The last time an NFL quarterback threw that many passes with a completion percentage that low, it was San Diego’s Craig Whelihan in 1998. Whelihan never played in the NFL again.

And Tebow will never play in the NFL again. He will be remembered for that crazy season in Denver in 2011, when it seemed like every week the most exciting game in the NFL was a game featuring the Broncos, a game that came down to Tebow doing something in the closing moments. But Tebow will also be remembered as a quarterback who simply did not pass the ball well enough to last in the NFL.

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Winston saw a great opportunity in Seattle

Winston AP

Veteran right tackle Eric Winston, who has started 16 games every year since 2007, will try to extend that streak in Seattle.  His decision to sign there comes after an extended stretch of free agency.  His patience apparently paid off.

“I think the opportunity, not only at my position but the opportunity with the team,” Winston told reporters on Tuesday regarding the reasons for choosing the Seahawks.  “I wanted to go somewhere and win.  I think this had everything, so I looked at the situation – obviously I wanted to be a part of something special and I think these guys have a chance to do something special again this year.”

Winston can do something special in the zone-blocking scheme employed by offensive line coach Tom Cable.

“I think some of my best years have been in that zone scheme, obviously with Alex Gibbs, way back in Houston and that whole scheme after that and so I’ve had some of my best years and some of the best teams I’ve played on have used it,” Winston said.  “I think it’s a perfect fit for me and it definitely helps me with the learning process.  Obviously you got to learn how they call things, some of it is the same and some of it is different, but I think it will definitely help me learn quicker, just knowing the techniques and not having to learn everything completely new.”

For rookie second-round draft pick Justin Britt, it’s all new.  But Winston’s desire to play won’t keep him from helping the youngster, if he wants help.

“I think anytime you become a vet in this league, you’ve got an obligation to the young guys that come after you – to help them, teach them and obviously to compete against them,” Winston said.  “I had the same when I was coming up in Houston. I had older guys that I was competing against but at the same time, took me under their wing.  If Britt wants me to do that, then I’ll do that, and if he doesn’t want to hear it, then I won’t.  But I’ll be here for him and always be here to help him, that’s for sure.”

Whether he plays or not, Winston is the kind of guy the Seahawks need to avoid the complacency that comes from climbing the mountain and then having to go to the bottom and try to climb it again.  Winston, who has had only one taste of the postseason three years ago in Houston before spending a year with the Chiefs and then with the Cardinals, has every reason to push himself and his teammates back up the mountain.

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49ers waive QB Kory Faulkner, add OL Michael Philipp

Jim Harbaugh, Kori Faulkner AP

The only NFL club with five quarterbacks on the active roster parted ways with one of their passers on Tuesday.

According to the NFL’s Tuesday transactions, the 49ers waived rookie quarterback Kory Faulkner, an undrafted free agent from Southern Illinois. This leaves Blaine Gabbert, McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Josh Johnson as the three passers vying to back up starter Colin Kaepernick.

To replace Faulkner on the roster, the 49ers added undrafted free agent rookie offensive tackle Michael Philipp on waivers from Miami. The 22-year-old Philipp started 48 games at left tackle for Oregon State.

The 49ers have all 90 roster spots filled. However, eight spots belong to players on active-reserve lists, meaning they must pass physicals to return to the practice field. In short, the 49ers are a little shorter on depth than the 90-player limit would indicate.

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Report: Raiders could move to San Antonio

Daniel Snyder, Mark Davis AP

Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn’t make threats.  He makes plans.

With the Raiders on a one-year lease at O.co Coliseum and with the A’s possibly getting a 10-year lease that would complicate efforts to tear the Cow (Pie) Palace down and build a new venue on the same site, Davis is exploring options in a state that already has a pair of NFL teams.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Davis and a pair of “top lieutenants” recently met with San Antonio officials to talk about a move of the Raiders.

Per the report, the meeting began on July 18, with Davis and company touring the Alamodome and other locations during a two-to-three day visit.

If a move happens, the Alamodome likely would be the temporary home until a new stadium is built.

Davis reportedly wants “a small, intimate” stadium in front of which he can place a statue of his father, the late Al Davis.

“We don’t have any information about it, so there is no reason for us to comment,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Express-News on Tuesday. “We have received no applications from any of our teams to relocate at this point, so there is nothing for us to respond to.”

The window for filing an application to relocate opens after the season, and it’s possible that Davis will make an application to move somewhere/anywhere absent a tangible plan to build a new home for the Raiders in the Bay Area.

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Peterson, Cardinals talking, deal may or may not happen soon

Patrick Peterson AP

The Cardinals and cornerback Patrick Peterson are close to a new contract.  Unless they aren’t.

Informed of the report from Yahoo Sports that a deal is close, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told PFT, “What does close mean?”

Per the source, the two sides have been talking about a new contract on and off for months.  Talks eventually broke down.  Within the past 48 hours, those talks have resumed.

Multiple sticking points still remain, including at least one that falls into the “deal breaker” category.  If that and the other issues can be resolved, the deal will be done.  If not, no deal happens, and Peterson will continue to be under contract for the next two years.

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Lack of HGH testing could contribute to Gordon suspension

marijuana-justi-sullivan-getty Getty Images

A difference of reporting exists as to whether an agreement on HGH testing would or wouldn’t result in a relaxed marijuana testing threshold for NFL players.  While no tentative agreement to use a higher limit for marijuana metabolites has been reached, it’s clear that the NFL would listen, if the NFLPA makes a request along those lines in an effort to break the lingering logjam arising from the authority of the Commissioner in PED/HGH appeals.

Regardless, the NFL’s current limit of 15 ng/ml needs to change, especially since (as pointed out by ESPN’s Bomani Jones) the World Anti-Doping Agency raised its limit by an order or magnitude in 2013, from 15 to 150 ng/ml.

A low limit of 15 ng/ml can be reached via second-hand smoke.  As pointed out by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gordon’s appeal also will advance that argument.

No matter how or why or when the NFL adopts a higher limit, it will be grossly overdue and any positive tests or suspensions based on anything lower than the WADA limits will be grossly unfair — especially since the NFL has been consistently pointing to WADA to support its proposed HGH testing protocol.

Under the current policy as previously negotiated by the NFL and the NFLPA, arguments based on the disparity between Gordon’s “A” bottle and “B” bottle and whether the average concentration (based on the split sample) of 14.8 ng/ml in the two bottles came from second-hand smoke won’t matter.  A strict, literal application of the policy will result in Gordon being suspended for a full year, during which time he’ll be completely banished from his team and required to continue to pass up to 10 tests per months, or he won’t be reinstated.

If any notion of fairness and common sense is applied to the appeal process, Gordon won’t be suspended at all.  Especially since the NFL apparently hasn’t and won’t subject Colts owner Jim Irsay to the same kind of rigorous testing for an admitted addiction that, if it’s not cured, eventually would result in Irsay being kicked out of the league for at least a year, too.

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Report: Cardinals, Patrick Peterson close to extension

Patrick Peterson AP

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has gone a few rounds with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman this offseason about which of them is the best cornerback in the NFL and Peterson may soon have a new contract to use as further ammunition for his case.

Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports reports that the Cardinals and Peterson are close to an agreement on a contract extension that would keep Peterson in Arizona for the near future. Per Getlin, there are still some hurdles to cross but there’s a “good chance” something gets done shortly.

It’s unclear if one of the hurdles is structuring the deal so that it puts him above Sherman and Browns cornerback Joe Haden in the league’s pecking order. Sherman signed a four-year deal this year that includes $40 million in guaranteed money while Haden signed his name on a five-year deal that has $45 million in guarantees, although some of those guarantees are against injury only.

Peterson is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal, which is set to pay him more than $2.8 million, and the Cardinals exercised their fifth-year option on the 2011 first-round pick’s pact earlier this offseason.

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David Wilson sent to hospital for battery of tests

David Wilson AP

After suffering a “burner” in practice Tuesday, the Giants are going to take no chances with running back David Wilson.

The team announced that Wilson was being taken to the Hospital for Special Surgery for a battery of tests and a complete workup. Wilson had neck surgery this offseason, so it’s an obvious concern.

They don’t know much at this point, but any injury anywhere near his neck is worrisome for the Giants.

We were all praying that it would be not an issue,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, via Tom Rock of Newsday

Rock also points out, the other name for a burner is “transient neurapraxia,” which doesn’t fit as neatly into the world of fantasy football.

Given what Wilson has gone through already, lending some gravity to the situation isn’t the worst idea.

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Steelers seize on Ben saying, “I want to be here”

Ben AP

The not-so-subtle media tug-of-war continues between the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger regarding his future with the team, which will depend in large part on the size of the dollars the Steelers plan to pay him on his next contract.  If Ben leaves, his legacy in Pittsburgh will be adversely affected — especially if he leaves after repeatedly saying he never wants to leave.

And so it’s no surprise that Roethlisberger saying he doesn’t want to leave Pittsburgh became a headline on the team’s official website.

I want to be here,” Roethlisberger said Monday, after G.M. Kevin Colbert declared that he doesn’t envision a set of circumstances in which Roethlisberger plays for another team.  And Steelers.com pounced.

“That’s always been what I’ve said, too,” Roethlisberger said. “I said it last year when the erroneous NFL Network reports came out.”

The “erroneous” reports from NFL Network, partially owned by the Steelers, were attributed to unnamed Steelers sources.  And those leaks may have been calculated to provoke Ben to declare that he doesn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, making it easier for the Steelers to low ball Big Ben and persuade him to accept whatever their best offer is — even if it doesn’t come close to reflecting his market value or making up for the hometown discount he believes he’s already giving the team.

If it all falls apart, the team will blame the player and the player will be the team and more leaks undoubtedly will flow to NFLN and others aimed at ensuring the fans agree with the organization’s position that Ben abandoned Pittsburgh.

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Rueben Randle skips practice with sore hamstring

Rueben Randle AP

The Giants trainers have been busier than they might like in the early part of training camp.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham has been out since last week with a hamstring problem, running back David Wilson’s return from neck surgery was hampered by a burner on Tuesday and wide receiver Rueben Randle didn’t take part in Tuesday’s practice because of a hamstring issue of his own.

“He was sore in the hamstring, so we held him,” Coughlin said, via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

Graziano reports that it didn’t sound like something the Giants think is a serious problem, but they need only look to Beckham for an example of how a seemingly minor hamstring injury can turn into something more if it doesn’t get the proper time to heal.

The team is off on Wednesday before getting back to work ahead of Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game against the Bills. There’s no word now on Randle’s status for that contest, but the larger goal of having Randle on the field come the regular season could lead the team to hold off on Randle’s preseason debut a little while longer.

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Cowboys giving Tony Romo a day off, say no setbacks

Tony Romo AP

It’s been so far, so good as Tony Romo comes back from back surgery.

So the Cowboys don’t feel compelled to push it.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Romo won’t practice today, as the team installs its two-minute offense.

He hasn’t had any setback but the biggest thing that we talked to Tony about and really all of our players about, is honest feedback,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We recognize that you’re a tough player, I saw what you did against the Redskins last year. You just got to tell us how you’re doing, how it’s going and make sure we handle it the right way each and every day.

“There’s an old adage in football, a day off can be really valuable. Two days off can be life changing, so when you get in this kind of a situation, we had yesterday off, got some good work this morning in the walk-through, some mental work of some of the different situations we’re working on. Off this afternoon and hopefully back as it tomorrow.”

Romo didn’t practice last Friday either, as the team handles him with the utmost care. It also gives them a chance to give new backup Brandon Weeden more reps, in case he’s ever needed.

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