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McCarron’s slide ends in Cincinnati

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Finally, former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron has found a new home in the NFL.

McCarron, who believed he’d be taken between picks No. 16 and 35, was selected in the 164th slot by the Cincinnati Bengals.

With Andy Dalton entering the final year of his contract and with an 0-3 record in the postseason, McCarron provides the Bengals with an intriguing Plan B, in the event the Bengals ultimately choose to move on from Bengals.

That said, the Bengals have shown no inclination to move on from Dalton.  If they were truly looking for a potential replacement, the Bengals would have taken someone a lot earlier.

Still, the Bengals arguably got a bargain with McCarron, thanks to a self-assessment that one scout calls “delusional” and poor decision-making that included not attending the Senior Bowl.

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In January, Mort told WEEI he reconfirmed PSI info

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On Friday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen pulled the plug on a planned appearance on WEEI in Boston to discuss his #DeflateGate floodgates report that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. As it turns out, Mortensen previously addressed the report on WEEI back in January, in an appearance with Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria.

Told about the PFT report from that same time frame that 10 of the 11 Patriots footballs were closer to one pound under the minimum than two pounds under it (which turned out to be accurate in light of the measurements first published by Ted Wells in May), Mortensen elaborated on his report.

“Listen, I went back . . .  and I can’t go through too many of the steps I took because it wasn’t just a single source,” Mortensen said. “Even before that report came back that maybe they were one pound underneath because I agree maybe it’s a huge difference, but you know what I was told was, I said, ‘Listen,’ I said, ‘is there any discrepancies in what I reported, because I want to know.’ Because even on a small detail like that. And I was just told, ‘No, you were right on.'”

Mortensen then speculated that maybe the frame of reference was 13.5 PSI, and that the sources meant that the footballs were two pounds under that. And then he essentially said that it didn’t matter because of other things his sources told him.

“They said, ‘Use common sense,’ Mortensen said. ‘One team’s footballs, basically all of them were underinflated. The other team’s footballs — they like them on the low end, too, by the way, the Colts — were all within regulation. So all the scientific minutiae that’s been thrown at us, be careful about buying into it.”

So, basically, Mortensen was lied to by his sources on multiple occasions. In addition to being told when he double-checked that he was “right on,” he was told that the Colts footballs “were all within regulation.” The truth, as demonstrated by the Ted Wells report, is that only four Colts footballs were tested — and on one of the gauges used three of the four balls were under 12.5 PSI.

Moreover, the Colts footballs didn’t start on the low end of the 12.5 to 13.5 PSI range, but right in the middle, at 13.0 or 13.1 PSI. But that’s not what Mortensen’s sources told him.

“I was told they prefer theirs at the lower level, too,” Mortensen said. Which means that his sources wanted him to believe the footballs started at the same point, and that only the Patriots dropped while exposed to cold, wet conditions. Which we now know is completely, you know, not true.

Moreover, the four (not 12, but only four) Colts footballs that were tested sat inside the warmer atmosphere of the locker room, readjusting to those conditions as the Patriots footballs were tested twice and then refilled to 13.0 PSI.

If anything, Mort’s January appearance on WEEI shows that he wasn’t lied to by one person on one occasion, but by multiple people on multiple occasions, regarding key facts beyond the notion that the Patriots footballs were two pounds under the minimum. It’s also now obvious that his sources were within the league office; who else would be lobbying Mort to “use common sense” by comparing the false information that was being provided to him about the Patriots footballs with false information that was being provided to him about the Colts footballs?

Mortensen then was asked if Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft sounded off in the days preceding the Super Bowl because they were irritated by the publication of misinformation. Mortensen bristled at the implication.

“You’re saying that they’re telling the truth and we’re disseminating misinformation,” Mortensen said.

It’s now clear that ESPN, through multiple league-office sources, was indeed disseminating misinformation. And ESPN still has not adequately answered for that, beyond Adam Schefter’s recent suggestion that Mort was indeed lied to by multiple high-level sources.

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Sunday morning one-liners

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Bills DT Marcell Dareus is in line for a big new contract.

G Jamil Douglas is in the mix for a starting job with the Dolphins.

RB LeGarrette Blount is back at practice for the Patriots.

WR Chris Owusu is off to a good start at Jets camp.

The Ravens practiced without WR Breshad Perriman and LB Terrell Suggs.

Said Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther of CB Dre Kirkpatrick, “He’s really grown a lot as a person, aside from football. What it takes to be a good pro and the consistency you need to be a good pro. I think he has figured that out.”

The Browns may be without running backs Duke Johnson and Terrance West for a bit.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley isn’t hearing much criticism of his work with the Steelers anymore.

DL Jared Crick is expecting a bigger role with the Texans this year.

The Colts are aware that expectations have gone up this season.

WR Allen Robinson stood out during Saturday’s Jaguars practice.

Those wanting Titans QB Marcus Mariota’s autograph had to put up with a long wait.

S T.J. Ward has big goals for the Broncos secondary.

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles sees himself as the LeBron James of football.

LB Sio Moore has been cleared for practice by the Raiders.

Chargers DE Tenny Palepoi fractured his foot on Saturday.

The Cowboys lost LB Justin Jackson to a torn ACL.

Giants players said they felt for DE Jason Pierre-Paul after seeing pictures of his bandaged hand.

Some thoughts about the Eagles’ decision to trade CB Brandon Boykin.

The Redskins have added CB Deshazor Everett to the roster.

Bears DT Eddie Goldman is keeping a close eye on his hydration.

The Lions lost some players on defense, but aren’t expecting to take a step back.

The Packers are being cautious with G Josh Sitton to make sure he’s healthy for the season.

Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater likes what he’s seen from rookie WR Stefon Diggs.

The competition for running back snaps is picking up at Falcons camp.

Panthers CB Josh Norman is concerned about the “wildlife” at the team’s training camp.

Luke McCown is sharing advice with his competition for the Saints backup quarterback job.

Bad weather interfered with the Buccaneers schedule on Saturday.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer thinks his arm might be stronger now than in past years.

QB Nick Foles got off on the right foot in his first Rams camp.

The 49ers have gotten a taste of WR Torrey Smith’s ability to reel in deep balls.

TE Jimmy Graham’s integration into the Seahawks offense continues at camp.

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Maccagnan “very” disappointed in Richardson, but supportive for now

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The news that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson had gotten arrested for street racing and resisting arrest was news to the Jets. And the Jets aren’t happy about that. But since Richardson is really good at football, they’re going to be patient with him, for now.

“That was something that was disappointing, very disappointing,” Jets G.M. Mike Maccagnan told reporters on Saturday, via quotes distributed by the team. “It was not something that we were aware of until it kind of came across the Internet on the media. [Coach] Todd [Bowles] sort of said this the other day and I am going to agree with him, we do worry about Sheldon in terms of the decisions he has made off the field. There is a degree of trust that has been broken, but we are supportive of him and there are a lot of resources in this building that we want to make available to him. Our doors are always open. There definitely has to be a better line of communication between Sheldon and us, but we are going to do everything in our power just to help him not just as a football player develop, but make sure he’s doing the right things off the field.”

Maccagnan declined to make any long-term commitment to Richardson, although it’s clear they’re not going to part ways with him in the short term, even though the four-game suspension imposed last month likely wiped out the remaining guarantees in his rookie deal.

“I think at this point in time and going forward, we will see how this progresses,” Maccagnan said. “He has obviously made some decisions that have consequences in terms of the NFL and the substance abuse policy that he is going to have to deal with. Now, he has had an issue off the field [and just] like all other players, it affects the Personal Conduct Policy and it’s really a league issue so they are going to sort of find out how the league proceeds with this.”

It also could result in another substance-abuse policy complication for Richardson, if the smell of marijuana that police detected when arresting him translates into another failed test for Richardson, whose next positive would trigger a 10-game suspension. With marijuana metabolites remaining in a person’s system for up to 30 days and Richardson subject to up to 10 unannounced tests per month, the Jets should also be bracing for a second suspension under the substance-abuse policy, in addition to consequences under the Personal Conduct Policy.

Since Richardson was the 2013 NFL defensive rookie of the year, and given that defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson remains a year away from free agency without a new contract, the Jets won’t be doing anything rash. If Richardson were an undrafted free agent at the bottom of the roster, the Jets surely wouldn’t be displaying so much patience.

Maccagnan tiptoed around the question of whether Richardson would already be gone if he were at the bottom of the 90-man roster.

“I think we try to do that with any player that we have, to a certain degree to see if there is something we can help them with on or off the field,” Maccagnan said. “I wouldn’t frame it in that kind of context.”

Unless Richardson can prove that he somehow was framed, the context is going to entail Richardson not playing football when the real games arrive, with the only question for now the extent of any additional suspensions that the NFL will impose on Richardson — and whether he can refrain from smoking marijuana long enough to avoid a looming one-year banishment from the sport.

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Marc Trestman: Emphasis is on being “a great running team”

Justin Forsett AP

During Marc Trestman’s two years as the head coach in Chicago, the Bears ranked 24th and 30th in rushing attempts and threw the ball 65 percent of the time.

That didn’t do much to erase the label that Trestman had earned in previous stops as an offensive coach who prefers moving the ball through the air. That offensive approach seems at odds with the one the Ravens rode to 5,838 yards and 409 points last season as they had the eighth-best rushing attack in the league with Gary Kubiak as their offensive coordinator, but Trestman says he isn’t throwing away what his predecessor did in Baltimore.

“Ravens football starts with the running game, and that doesn’t mean you’re not going to throw the ball,” Trestman said, via “But the emphasis here is we want to be a great running football team and we have the players to do that. So that’s where we start.”

Trestman says it’s an “overblown perception” that he’s locked into a pass-centric offense, saying that he’s utilized the players he’s had on his rosters to do the things that they did well. Some of those players have been “good running backs,” but Trestman said they were best suited for a different style than Justin Forsett and the Ravens line.

Time will tell how things play out in Baltimore, but it definitely seems unwise to veer too far away from what worked so well for a Ravens team that brings back Forsett and their entire line.

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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 “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 “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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