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Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney visit the Texans

Johnny Manziel, Kaleb Eulls

It’s a big day in Houston, as the Texans are hosting two players they’ll consider drafting with the first overall pick.

Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney are both in Houston for visits today, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Manziel appears to be a long shot for the first overall pick. His scrambling, improvising style doesn’t appear to be a great fit for Houston coach Bill O’Brien’s offense, and the closer we get to the draft, the more it appears that the Texans do not plan to take any quarterback first overall.

Clowney has long been viewed as the most talented player in this year’s draft and one of the most talented players to enter the NFL in many years. However, Texans General Manager Rick Smith reportedly prefers Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack to Clowney.

But the Texans still have 17 days left to decide, and from all indications their minds are not made up. Which means Manziel and Clowney still have a chance to sell themselves to the team with the top pick.

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Jets have spoken to Evan Mathis, but price too high

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Guard Evan Mathis was set to make $5.5 million for the Eagles this season, but stayed away from Philly during offseason workouts before being released amid conflicting accounts about whether or not that’s what he wanted.

Mathis hasn’t landed another job for the 2015 season yet and Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan indicated that a big part of the reason is Mathis’s desire to get as close to that $5.5 million as possible.

“We’ve had talks with Evan’s agent,” Maccagnan said, via the New York Daily News. “They’re kind of getting a feel for where – they have a range for where they want to be. The other thing with a lot of teams honestly at this point in time, you almost want to kind of see what you have first to a certain degree. Obviously Evan’s a good player, but as this thing plays out a bit we’ll get a better feel for that. The thing is too is that Evan might have a value he’s looking for right now that may not be in the value that some of the teams want to potentially spend on him. But we’ll see how that develops.”

The Jets have several players under consideration for the right guard job this season. Mathis would almost certainly be an upgrade on Willie Colon, Brian Winters, Oday Aboushi or Brent Qvale, but, for now at least, that potential upgrade appears to come at too high a cost for the team’s pocketbook.

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Jameis Winston says he’s “matured” since his college days

Jameis Winston AP

The Buccaneers have put all their faith in Jameis Winston, after making him the first pick in the draft and the face-off the franchise.

And despite his problems at Florida State, Winston said he’s learned and is better for it.

I’ve matured since I was an 18-year-old kid, just getting into mischievous things,”Winston said, via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com. “But now I love this opportunity that I’ve been given. It’s a blessing. The best thing about it is my dream always was to be a professional quarterback, and I’ve achieved that dream.”

Of course, there’s more to his time in Tallahassee than mischief, as he was accused of sexual assault but never charged, was questioned by police for a BB gun fight between players, cited for stealing crab legs and suspended for a game after shouting a vulgar internet phrase on campus.

But the Bucs did their research, and made their deal, and now Winston says he’s simply trying to fit in.

“On this team, I’m just accepting my role,” Winston said. “We have a lot of veterans. Vincent [Jackson], Gerald [McCoy] — those guys are our leaders. My job right now is just to play quarterback.”

So far, all the reviews on Winston have been good, and he’s fit in nicely. Now, we get to see if he can play.

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Quarterback competition gets underway at Texans camp

Brian Hoyer AP

The Texans held their first practice of training camp on Saturday with a session that also resumed the competition for the team’s starting quarterback job.

Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle reports that Brian Hoyer got most of the work with the starting offense and that his short passes were “crisp and on target.” Ryan Mallett also played to advance billing with good deep balls mixed in with throws that were off target. None of what happened on Saturday moved coach Bill O’Brien to declare a leader or a timeline for making a choice.

“I thought both guys had some good plays [and] both guys had some plays they probably want to have back,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “Hopefully we can continue to keep that going in the right direction as far as more good than bad. I thought both guys came out and competed today. We don’t look at it as a first team and a second team and all that.”

Mallett responded to a question about the competition by asking if he was being counted out before going on to say that he felt O’Brien would give him a “fair shot” and that he’s focused on improving rather than just thinking about beating out Hoyer. Hoyer’s experience may give him an edge for the opener, but improvement for Mallett will only make it likelier that both players get their chances during the regular season.

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Eric Weddle “making the most” of final Chargers camp

Eric Weddle AP

Safety Eric Weddle wasn’t happy that the Chargers wouldn’t talk about a contract extension this offseason, which led him to skip voluntary work this offseason before returning for mandatory minicamp.

Weddle said at the time that he would play out the 2015 season and look forward to free agency in 2016. That still appears to be the plan since there’s been no talk of a contract in the last couple of months, although arriving at training camp has made Weddle a bit more sentimental about the eight years he’s spent with the team.

Weddle said he looked at things differently heading into his “last year” with the team and is “making the most” of time with longtime teammates this summer.

“I’ve come to realize you never know how long you’ll play,” Weddle said, via NFL.com. “Especially with this group, there is not many of us that were here just four years ago – I think there is just five or six of us left. We are definitely taking every moment together, relishing the moments we have and the time we have and will most likely be the last year for a lot of us in this situation, we’ll move on to other teams. So we are going to make the most of it, play our hearts out for each other and go from there.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates are two other veteran Chargers heading into the final year of their deal and even the team’s future in San Diego is in doubt, which could make this the end of an era for the organization in several ways.

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Panthers coach on Stephen Hill injury: “You knew it wasn’t good”

Stephen Hill AP

The Panthers saw something in Stephen Hill the rest of us didn’t, and were willing to stick by him despite his arrest just before camp on drug paraphernalia charges.

That’s why it was painful for them to see the wide receiver go down in a heap yesterday in practice. The former Jets second-rounder, who joined the Panthers last year and spent time on the practice squad, suffered a serious-looking knee injury Saturday afternoon.

I felt like someone shot me in the gut,” Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl told Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “When you saw him good down, you knew it wasn’t good. He had such a great summer. You feel for him, all the hard work he’s put in. He was ready, he was ready. He had a great opportunity to help our football team. . . .

“He’s a great kid. He’s done nothing but work his tail off since Day One. For a guy to be drafted in the second round, come to us and be on the practice squad – he checked his ego at the door and did nothing but learn our offense, work his tail off, give our defense a great look at year. I just told him, ‘Your opportunity’s going to come, just keep working.’ He did everything I asked him to do, and I hurt for him, I really do.”

Hill’s getting an MRI on his right knee, but no one is expecting good news, after he went down awkwardly, screaming in pain while clutching the back of his right knee. He stayed down for several moments, as practice fell silent, with General Manager Dave Gettleman rushing over after trainers.

The team didn’t offer any updates, primarily since head coach Ron Rivera is at his brother’s funeral and they wanted to give him a little more bad news first. And clearly, it’s bad news.

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Jeremy Mincey appears close to ending his holdout

Jeremy Mincey AP

Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey may be ready to end his holdout.

The Cowboys’ website says Mincey has reported to Cowboys training camp and plans to practice Sunday. Other reports, however, suggest that his holdout isn’t completely over: The Dallas Morning News reported early Sunday morning that the holdout isn’t over yet, but that it could soon be resolved.

Mincey led the team in sacks last year and wants a raise this year. The Cowboys have indicated that they’re not going to talk contract with him while he’s holding out and will fine him for missed training camp practices, so reporting to camp may be the best way for Mincey to get the money he wants.

Unfortunately for Mincey, whether he’s in camp or not he doesn’t have a lot of leverage. The Cowboys have drafted Randy Gregory and signed Greg Hardy this offseason, so they’re in better shape at defensive end than they were last year. Mincey may have already concluded that a holdout isn’t going to work.

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$43 million in “new money” for Bobby Wagner

Wagner Getty Images

The Seahawks have paid linebacker Bobby Wagner on a four-year deal half of what they will pay Russell Wilson on a four-year deal. And it still makes Wagner the highest-paid middle linebacker in the NFL.

Per a league source, the four-year extension pays out $43 million. That’s a new-money average of $10.75 million per year.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that $22 million of the amount is guaranteed. It’s not yet known how much of that is fully guaranteed at signing.

Adding in the $977,000 Wagner was due to make this year under his rookie deal, it’s a five-year, $43.977 million contract, with a total average of $8.7954 million. But the convention in the NFL is to look at the new money; for Wagner, the average if $10.75 million per year.

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League hasn’t contacted Patriots about email release, yet

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On Friday, the New England Patriots took their concerns about the league office’s handling of the #DeflateGate controversy to the proverbial next level, releasing a chain of email communications expressing displeasure with leaks from the league office and requesting that the Ted Wells investigation include that topic.

In response to one of the most aggressive tactics taken to date by the Patriots, the NFL has not contacted the team. Yet.

Per a league source, the Patriots assume they’ll hear something at some point from 345 Park Avenue. However, it’s also possible that the NFL will ignore the situation in order to avoid making the story bigger than it is.

Or maybe the league office will simply warn the Patriots. You know, the same way the league office warned the Patriots after the Colts complained about the — wait, never mind.

The Patriots declined comment on whether the NFL has contacted the team regarding the situation. The NFL has not responded to repeated requests for comment regarding the team’s decision to release emails exchanged by Patriots general counsel Robyn Glaser and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash.

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Report: Seahawks, Bobby Wagner work out a deal

Wagner Getty Images

On Friday, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner responded to the news of a new deal for quarterback Russell Wilson by tweeting: “Can’t keep everyone.”

Wagner may be right, but the Seahawks will be keeping him.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Seahawks and Wagner have agreed to terms on a contract extension.

No other details have yet been reported or released. For Seahawks fans, they don’t matter; the team’s two biggest pending free agents as of 48 hours ago now aren’t.

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Von Miller exits substance-abuse program

Cardinals Broncos Football AP

Two years ago, Broncos linebacker Von Miller missed the first six games of the season as part of a negotiated resolution under the substance abuse policy, based on allegations that he conspired with a sample collector to beat drug tests.

Now, Miller has stayed clean long enough to exit the substance-abuse program entirely, according to Mike Klis of KUSA-TV.

Miller’s exit from the program is one of the new wrinkles of the substance-abuse policy as revised in 2014. Previously, a player who landed in Stage 3 of the program remained there for the rest of his career. Now, the player has a path not only out of Stage 3 but also out of the program entirely, if he avoids any violation for 24 months.

The development increases Miller’s marketability, as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. It also means that, like all players not in the program, he faces only one substance-abuse test per year, in a window that ironically opens on 4/20. After that, he won’t be tested against until the next year.

If Miller fails one of the annual tests, he would return to Stage 1 of the program. He’d then be subject to the new formula for determining disciplining: two-game fine, four-game fine, four-game suspension, 10-game suspension, and minimum one-year banishment.

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Eagles trade Brandon Boykin to Steelers

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In an unusual trade at the start of training camp, cornerback Brandon Boykin is heading from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers gave up a conditional 2016 fifth-round pick to get Boykin from the Eagles.

At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Boykin was viewed as too small for what the Eagles were trying to do defensively. Still, this trade comes as a surprise, especially considering that Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis had been saying that Boykin was one of his favorite players and could start in the slot.

In Pittsburgh, Boykin joins a secondary where Cortez Allen and William Gay are the likely starting cornerbacks. Pittsburgh also drafted cornerback Senquez Golson in the second round and cornerback Doran Grant in the fourth round.

A 2012 fourth-round pick of the Eagles, the 25-year-old Boykin is heading into the final season of his rookie contract.

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Typo for now: NFL calls San Antonio a “team market”

SanAntonio Getty Images

When I was a kid, I’d study the back of the cereal box while eating breakfast. In time, it became the baseball box scores from the local newspaper — back when they actually put box scores in the local paper and still had, you know, local newspapers.

Now, I’ve trade the Crunch Berries box and the box scores for the NFL Record & Fact Book. An annual publication I’ve acquired every year since 2000, it’s a great tool for eating with one hand and flipping pages with the other, with virtually stop teaching me something I didn’t already know or giving me an idea for something to share with you.

Here’s something that caught my attention, at page 320 of the 2015 edition, which has Malcolm Butler making an interception and Tom Brady hoisting a trophy on the cover.

At page 320, the book lists the top 100 TV markets for 2015, with NFL team markets in bold. Sandwiched between Columbus at No. 32 (not in bold) and Salt Lake City at No. 34 (not in bold) is San Antonio at (you guessed it) No. 33. In bold.

First thought: Maybe it’s a team market because it’s close enough to Dallas or Houston. So I checked the 2014 version. San Antonio was No. 36, and it didn’t appear in bold print.

It’s surely a typo, with whoever formatted the page accidentally putting San Antonio in bold even though San Antonio isn’t an NFL team market. Still, with the Raiders unable to work out a new stadium deal in Oakland, with the Rams and Chargers hoping to get the two seats in L.A., and with limited temporary locations for a pair of teams to play in Los Angeles while the new stadium is built, San Antonio remains a viable destination for the Raiders, either as a permanent home or as a temporary alternative to L.A., if the Raiders get the green light to return to Southern California.

Ten years ago, San Antonio provided a temporary location for three Saints games after a hurricane ravaged New Orleans. Last year, the Raiders openly flirted with San Antonio. And San Antonio presumably remains interested in bringing the Raiders or another team to town — especially since it’s bigger than five markets that already host NFL teams: Cincinnati (No. 36), Jacksonville (No. 48), New Orleans (No. 51), Buffalo (No. 52), and Green Bay (No. 68).

Again, it undoubtedly was a typo. But the fact that someone who works for the league saw “San Antonio” and mistakenly thought “team market” shows that San Antonio is indeed on the fringes of cities that could lure a team — especially if San Antonio is willing to kick in the kind of taxpayer money that plenty of other cities currently aren’t.

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Hall of Fame softens its stance on Sydney Seau speaking

Seau Getty Images

Five-year-old policies were made to be modified.

Sydney Seau, daughter of deceased linebacker Junior Seau, will be given opportunities to speak at next week’s Hall of Fame induction activities, according to Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com.

She won’t be giving an induction speech in place of her late father. However, Sydney and her three brothers will participate in the unveiling of Seau’s bust, and Sydney will be interviewed on stage after the sheet is removed from the permanent bronze memorial to Junior Seau.

Sydney also will be given an opportunity to make remarks during Thursday night’s “Gold Jacket” ceremony, which will be televised by NFL Network.

“Our goal was to try and keep our policy but also show some compassion and understanding,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker told FOX Sports. “Through all the conversations, Sydney has always been great.”

In 2010, the Hall of Fame adopted a policy preventing speeches to be given on behalf of deceased inductees. Failure to publicize or communicate the policy helped create a controversy regarding whether Sydney Seau was being silenced, due to the family’s pursuit of a lawsuit against the NFL alleging that concussions triggered Junior Seau’s 2012 suicide.

“She will have the opportunity to say whatever she wants to say but we will still maintain our policy,” Baker said. “We want this to be a great day for Sydney and her family. Should she choose not to speak afterward, that should be OK.”

The induction ceremony also will include an extended video presentation on behalf of Seau. At 6.5 minutes, the Seau video exceeds the normal video introduction by three minutes.

Now, here’s hoping that the speeches given by the living inductees will each come in at under 30 minutes. Or 20. Or ten.

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Haslam: Despite what you’ve heard, we still believe in Manziel

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Reports out of Cleveland this offseason that the Browns have given up on Johnny Manziel were unfounded, according to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

“Despite what everybody reads and says, we’ve not at all given up on Johnny,” Haslam said, via Cleveland.com. “We think he has the potential to be a good football player. Now, having the potential and doing it are two different things, but I think we’ve said numerous times that you’re not going to win consistently in this league without a good quarterback and we’re trying to make that happen.”

Haslam said the Browns are willing to be patient with Manziel and wait for him to be their starter. Josh McCown is expected to start this year, although Browns coach Mike Pettine has said McCown isn’t just being handed the job.

“I think it’s important — everybody forgets he’s barely 22 years old,” said Haslam. “He’s still young, so I think over the next couple of years we’ve got to see if Johnny can be a legitimate quarterback or not. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him or our coaches to say it has to happen this year.”

Still, if Manziel doesn’t show anything this year, that would be two seasons in which he gave the Browns nothing. That’s not what they thought they were getting when they chose him in the first round of the 2014 draft. At some point, Manziel has to show he can play, or the Browns really will give up on him.

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Report: Devin Smith has punctured lung

Devin Smith AP

With the inevitable launch of training camps comes the inevitable parade of injuries. For the Jets, it turns out that the broken ribs suffered by rookie receiver Devin Smith also include damage to an internal organ.

Via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, Smith suffered a “slightly” punctured lung as part of the injury that occurred after making a leaping catch at training camp.

His status for the regular-season opener against the Browns remains unknown. He’s expected to at least miss the rest of camp.

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