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49ers may make draft trade, but say they aren’t planning LaMichael James trade

LaMichael James, Colin Kaepernick AP

There has been speculation this offseason that the 49ers might try to make a trade up the draft board from the 30th pick and General Manager Trent Baalke admitted Friday that it is a real possibility.

With six of the first 100 picks in the draft, Baalke said at Friday’s pre-draft press conference that the team has the “ammunition” to make a big move up the draft board.

“Do we have the motivation to do that? It depends,” Baalke said.

The variables that would impact a final decision aren’t clear, but one imagines that the price tag and availability of a coveted player are at the top of the list. One direction the 49ers could look is wide receiver, where they could use an injection of talent and Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are the top prospects and are expected to go in the top 10.

That wasn’t the only potential trade on Baalke’s agenda. He also addressed talk of a desire to deal running back LaMichael James by saying, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, that the team has no plans to trade James and that his understanding was that James did not report for voluntary workouts because he is working out in Texas after the birth of his child. Teams rarely wave a banner signaling their intention to trade one of their players, so you can’t totally rule out more to come involving a player the 49ers had very little use for last season.

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Cecil Shorts says he’s ready to play “the whole game”

Cecil Shorts, Sherrod Martin AP

Somebody call Roddy White and let him know for his fantasy team — Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts is back.

I plan on playing the whole game,” Shorts said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “Let’s go.

“The last few days went really well. It’s exciting to go back out there with my teammates and play again. It’s been a long wait with an up-and-down off-season.”

Shorts has missed the first two games with a hamstring strain, and is listed as probable for this week against the Colts. But since that’s the same as a virtual certainty he’ll play, there’s no real mystery.

He missed time in OTAs with a calf strain and three weeks of training camp with a hamstring problem, before pulling the other hamstring most recently.
The Jaguars obviously need any offensive boost they can find, but unless he can play offensive line (Chad Henne has been sacked 13 times), it’s hard to imagine he’s a one-man fix.
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Falcons knew Devin Hester still had “gas in the tank”

Hester Getty Images

When free agency began in March, receiver Devin Hester wasn’t near the top of anyone’s list.  Anyone except the Falcons.

“We’d been talking for a number of years about what we’re going to do with our return specialist situation and what we’re going to do with our receiver group,” G.M. Thomas Dimitroff told PFT Live on Friday.  “We thought if we could land a legitimate return guy, both punt and kickoff return, and then mix him into that group of three or four [receivers], that was going to help our production on the offensive side of the ball as well.  Our feeling was that with Devin, he is an electric type of player as we all know, and that we truly felt that he still had gas in the tank, he still had the explosiveness, and we saw last night, when he gets in the open space how he creates is something that is unparalleled quite honestly, and it’s fun to watch him.”

So how did the Falcons evaluate a guy’s potential on offense when he hasn’t played much offense lately?  Last year with the Bears, Hester didn’t participate in a single snap from scrimmage.

“I’m a big believer in assessing the athleticism, the movement, the ability to start, stop, the body control,” Dimitroff said.  “That’s something that there’s no question he has.  The fact that he can catch the ball naturally is another big point.  And you have an assistant head coach in Terry Robiskie here and [offensive coordinator] Dirk Koetter, who are creative minds.  It’s putting him in the right spot to be successful.  We all know how important that is and some of the best coaches in this league are able to do that.  Know the talent, know their strengths, and accentuate their strengths. . . .

“We’re getting out of him what we wanted and more, no question about it.”

There’s also no question that the 2014 Falcons look to be much better than their 2013 counterparts.  For more from Dimitroff, click the box below.

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Dee Milliner has quad tightness in addition to ankle sprain

Dee Milliner AP

The Jets got cornerback Dee Milliner back in the lineup against the Packers last week after Milliner missed a good chunk of time with a high ankle sprain, but Milliner didn’t finish the game after he felt the ankle tighten up in the second half.

That’s created some uncertainty about his ability to play against the Bears on Monday night and that uncertainty will only grow now that quad tightness has been added to the ankle injury as the reason why Milliner missed practice on Friday.

The Jets have an extra day to prepare for Chicago, but they’ll need to think long and hard about the risks involved with Milliner playing given the frequency that he’s been banged up in his short NFL career. Having him on Monday to help defend Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery would be ideal, but not if he’s too compromised to play at a high level and the move could come back to haunt them if Milliner aggravates an injury during the game.

As evidence of the potential for a setback, the Jets need only look to wide receiver Eric Decker. Decker missed practice again with the hamstring injury that he aggravated last Sunday, which isn’t a great sign for his chances of playing even though coach Rex Ryan said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, that the wideout didn’t have to practice in order to play.

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DeSean Jackson “very limited” in practice, questionable for Sunday

DeSean Jackson AP

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson may play when the Redskins roll into Philadelphia on Sunday, but he isn’t going to be 100 percent.

Jackson was listed as questionable on Washington’s final injury report of the week. Jackson, who injured his shoulder against the Jaguars last Sunday, was able to practice for the first time this week on Friday, although coach Jay Gruden said he was “very limited” during the workout.

“He did good today, but we’ll see,” Gruden said, via “He was very limited, as you well know. But I think it was a step in a positive direction. We’ll get another look at him tomorrow with the trainers, then we’ll gauge him on Sunday morning and see where he’s at.”

Jackson has vowed to play in the game, which is his first opportunity to play against the Eagles since they released him in the offseason.

Tight end Jordan Reed remains sidelined with a hamstring injury for Washington, who will also be without quarterback Robert Griffin III, linebacker Akeem Jordan and cornerback Tracy Porter. Neither Jordan nor Porter has played in a regular season game this year.

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Eagles rule out Mychal Kendricks

Mychal Kendricks, Trent Richardson AP

The Eagles may give first-round pick Marcus Smith some playing time this weekend.

Smith has been working at inside linebacker at practice this week, which was seen as a sign that the team was pessimistic about Mychal Kendricks’s chances of playing against the Redskins on Sunday.

That pessimism was justified. Kendricks was ruled out by the Eagles on Friday after missing the entire week of practice because of a calf injury suffered in Monday night’s victory over the Colts.

Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho have been seeing time in Kendricks’s place at practice this week, although Smith has been the Eagles’ choice for the nickel package since both Matthews and Acho struggle in pass coverage. Smith was drafted in May to help bolster the team’s pass rush, but didn’t get on the field the first week and was inactive on Monday night as he’s not ready to help the team in that area yet.

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Goodell press conference will be televised on NBCSN

NBCUniversal Logos

At roughly 11:00 a.m. ET on Friday, the NFL announced that Commissioner Roger Goodell will conduct a press conference at 3:00 p.m. ET.  While that didn’t leave me with enough time to make it from West Virginia to Midtown Manhattan, NBC keeps some of its cameras a lot closer.  And those cameras will be connected via satellite to the NBC Sports Group headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.

The pictures and words sent via satellite will be broadcast on NBCSN, in a special edition of Pro Football Talk.  Paul Burmeister and yours truly will react to and analyze the opening comments from Goodell, the questions he receives, and the answers he provides.

Look for Goodell to answer any and all questions, and to accommodate every media member who shows up for the event.  After the events of the last two weeks, Goodell can’t let one of the league’s P.R. representatives cut off the conference before all questions have been answered.  Which explains the fairly short notice; he plans to answer all questions, and by announcing the event only four hours before it happened, the universe of questions will be smaller.

Whatever the questions and answers, you’ll see and hear them all on NBCSN at 3:00 p.m. ET.  And then you’ll see and hear us talk about what it all means.

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Colts defensive starters Jerrell Freeman, Arthur Jones out Sunday

arthurjones AP

The Colts will be down two defensive starters on Sunday against the Jaguars.

Jerrell Freeman and Arthur Jones have both been ruled out, coach Chuck Pagano confirmed today.

Freeman has been nursing a hamstring injury that also forced him to miss Monday night’s game against the Eagles. Jones suffered an ankle injury in that game and has been out of practice this week.

The good news for the Colts is that the Jaguars’ offense has been inept this season: Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne has been sacked a league-high 13 times, while running back Toby Gerhart has gained just 50 yards on 25 carries. Even shorthanded, the Colts should be able to handle the Jaguars.

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John Abraham placed on injured reserve

John Abraham, Kellen Clemens, Calais Campbell AP

John Abraham’s season has reached a close.

The Cardinals placed the veteran outside linebacker on injured reserve Friday, the team’s website said. The 36-year-old Abraham suffered a concussion in the Cardinals’ Sept. 8 win vs. San Diego.

A 15th-year pro from West Virginia, Abraham has recorded 133.5 career sacks. He is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Given his age and his health, it’s reasonable to wonder if he will return to NFL play in 2015.

To replace Abraham on the roster, the Cardinals re-signed punter Drew Butler, who has kicked in each of the first two games. The re-signing of Butler suggests Dave Zastudil’s status for Sunday’s game vs. San Francisco could be in doubt because of the groin injury that’s ailed him.

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Bill Belichick’s come a long way from the ice pick days

Bill Belichick AP

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick got his start in coaching, he learned a system of coding plays which involved index cards, hole punches and ice picks.

So naturally, the idea he can look to a tablet computer on the sidelines on have immediate access to so much information kind of blows his mind.

The latest in Belichick’s semi-regular series of expansive Friday press conferences touched on the rapid pace of technology and how it impacts his job.

I’m overwhelmed,” Belichick said, via Phil Perry of “I’m totally overwhelmed by it. There’s no way I could, without somebody holding my hand and helping me through it, there’s no way I’d get a fraction of what I would get. When we were with the Colts, . . .What I did with the Colts, I wrote every play on a card. I drew the card, drew the play, and then every category that the play fit into, I checked off on the outside edge of the card. So if it was first-and-10, plus-territory, gain of over four yards, screen pass, half back was the receiver, the defense ran a blitz, whatever categories that those fit into, then I would check those off. I’d take the hole puncher. There was like 200 holes around the edge of the card and I would punch out the holes that I’d checked off. Then you’d have a whole stack of cards here, slide the ice pick in there for third down and boom, all the third down cards drop out. Then you take all those cards, look at them and then you put them all back and put the whole deck of cards back together, stick the ice pick in there and all the screens fall out. Here’s 15 screens. You look at them, how many were strong, how many were weak, how many were to the half back, how many were play action, how many were third down, how many were second down? Figure all that out. OK stuck ‘em back in there again. I would do like, you know, 200 of those. Screens, third down, red area, goal line, short yardage, what they ran against blitzes, what they ran from slot, what they ran from motion. All of that.

“That’s, I mean, about as archaic as you can get: the ice-pick method. But it worked.”

As someone known for his ability to process information, Belichick can only benefit from more efficient methods of delivery. And he was quick to praise Patriots IT specialist Dan Famosi for helping him learn how all the fancy gadgets work.

As Belichick explained, the key to coaching is teaching, and the key to teaching is realizing that every student learns differently.

So being able to show the visual learners replays on a tablet computer helps as much as running them through plays on the chalk board on practice field.

The whole conversation is fascinating, and the kind of insight Belichick doesn’t always share.

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DeAngelo Williams practicing Friday

DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert AP

Panthers tailback DeAngelo Williams appears to be practicing for the first time in more than a week.

Williams (thigh) was spotted participating in Friday’s workout, as was fullback Mike Tolbert (chest), according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

Williams was inactive for Sunday’s win vs. Detroit because of his injury. Tolbert caught three passes in the victory over the Lions, but he sat out the first practice of this week, and he was limited on Thursday.

The presence of Williams and Tolbert could be a good sign for Carolina as it readies for Sunday night’s game vs. Pittsburgh. The Steelers have surrendered 348 combined rushing yards in the first two weeks of the season. Williams, Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart are the Panthers’ top three options in the backfield.

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Vikings won’t be doing an Adrian Peterson jersey exchange “at this time”

Peterson AP

Given that the Ravens have offered to exchange Ray Rice jerseys for those bearing the names and numbers of other players, some Vikings fans want to do the same thing with their Adrian Peterson jerseys.

One fan forwarded to PFT earlier today his request to exchange five Adrian Peterson jerseys that he purchased for himself, and for his wife and three children.  The fan was informed that the Peterson jerseys will not be exchanged.

“First, we want to be clear that we have a strong stance on the protection and welfare of children, which is why we needed to get this decision right,” customer service supervisor Lane Lewis told the fan.  “We understand and appreciate the range of emotions our fans have expressed throughout the process, and we hope they can respect our decision.  At this time we do not have a jersey exchange program in place.  Adrian remains a member of the Vikings organization, and we will continue to support him through this legal and personal process.”

The Vikings confirmed the validity of the email, and separately provided this statement to PFT:  “No, we are not contemplating a jersey exchange program.  Adrian remains a member of this organization and we will support him through the legal and personal process.”

Eventually, that could change.  If Peterson eventually is convicted of or pleads guilty to child abuse, the Vikings could opt to accept the thousands of jerseys that have been sold with his name and number on them.

Either way, some fans want to unload their Peterson jerseys now.  That group could grow.  And if the voices are loud enough, the Vikings could end up deciding to include a jersey exchange within their ad nauseum effort to “get this right.”

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Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict not seen at practice on Friday

Vontaze Burfict AP

One of the Bengals’ key defensive players could be missing his third straight practice.

Starting weak-side linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion) wasn’t present at the beginning on Friday’s workout, according to Geoff Hobson of

Considering Burfict has been in the league’s concussion protocol in each of the last two weeks, his status for Sunday’s game vs. Tennessee could be in doubt.

The 23-year-old Burfict has started 32 straight regular season games for Cincinnati since joining the club in 2012. He has never missed a game. Burfict made the Pro Bowl in 2013 after a 171-tackle, three-sack season for the AFC North-winning Bengals.

The Bengals will release their final injury report later today.

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PFT Live: Thomas Dimitroff, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Devin Hester AP

Thursday night was a good one for the Falcons as they scored eight touchdowns in the first three quarters of their game with the Buccaneers on the way to a 56-14 pasting of their division rivals.

The man who put the team together will be on Friday’s PFT Live to share his thoughts about that game. General Manager Thomas Dimitroff will join Mike Florio for a discussion that will cover plenty of other things as well, including the first two weeks of the season and the fast start for Devin Hester as both a returner and an offensive contributor.

We’ll also be taking questions from PFT Planet during the show, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets going at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Roger Goodell holding press conference on Friday afternoon

Roger Goodell AP

There have been calls from all corners of the football world for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to come out from behind the curtain and address the myriad issues that have been plaguing the NFL over the last two weeks and Goodell will finally do it on Friday afternoon.

Goodell will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. ET in New York City, which will mark the first time that he’s spoken to any media member since doing a pair of one-on-one interviews last week.

Friday’s press conference comes after Goodell sent a memo to the 32 NFL teams outlining some of the initiatives that the league will undertake to help organizations devoted to assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Those initiatives fit with Goodell’s promise to have the league act to make positive change in the future and the future is sure to be a major talking point on Friday.

It’s a safe bet, though, that there will be plenty of questions about the way Goodell and the league behaved in the past when it comes to these issues as well as questions about the concrete ways the league will deal with those that commit these kinds of criminal acts in the future after two weeks of constantly shifting reactions as public opinion came down strongly against the way the NFL handled the cases of Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and others.

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NFL loses a corporate partner for its breast cancer initiative

pink Getty Images

The NFL doesn’t seem to be losing any money over the ongoing domestic violence mess, but it is losing plenty of good will.

The latest example of that comes from the folks at Procter & Gamble, who have decided they don’t want their brand to be affiliated with the NFL during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Procter & Gamble had been planning to sponsor an initiative where one player on each team would use a pink mouth guard in October, with the players raising awareness about breast cancer and Procter & Gamble donating money. Now, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS, Procter & Gamble has decided to go ahead with the monetary donation but scrap the plans for the pink mouth guards, because Procter & Gamble isn’t comfortable with playing a part in the NFL’s efforts to appeal to women at a time when the NFL is facing criticism for players abusing women.

There was a time when it would have been unthinkable that any corporate entity wouldn’t want to be associated with a brand as popular as the NFL and a feel-good cause like breast cancer awareness, but that time was before the Ray Rice elevator video became public.

With October just around the corner, the NFL is sure to face withering scrutiny about the fact that it dons pink clothing when it wants to appeal to female fans, but doesn’t act quickly when players commit acts of violence against women.

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