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Kaepernick shrugs off questions about his team-friendly deal

Kaepernick AP

More than two weeks ago, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick got his new contract.  Full analysis of the contract suggested that Kaepernick got hosed.

Exacerbating the problem was a misguided effort by the Kaepernick camp to make the numbers look bigger than they are, worth “up to $126 million” and carrying $61 million guaranteed.

On the final day of the team’s mandatory minicamp, Kaepernick addressed the perception (reality) that the 49ers got the much better end of the bargain.

“You can skew things however you want,” Kaepernick told reporters.  “At the end of the day, a lot of the way the contract is set up is how every other quarterback’s contract is set up.  And the things that aren’t set up like those contracts are because we wanted them that way so we can sign other players. . . .  It was very deliberate by [my] agents, the organization and myself that we want things done this way so we can keep a solid team here.”

Kaepernick still hasn’t explained how the deal helps the 49ers sign other players, apart from the obvious fact that it pays him well below top-of-the-market value in the first few years and that, by the time his annual averages moves toward the top of the current market, ongoing spikes in the salary cap will keep the deal in the middle of the pack.

In 2013, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did a much-publicized team friendly five-year deal.  And he received $30 million at the time he signed it.  Kaepernick committed for two more years — and got $18 million less to sign.

Nearly $50 million in the rest of Kaepernick’s supposedly “guaranteed” money isn’t fully guaranteed.  It’s guaranteed only if he has a career-ending injury, and he has been required to buy a $20 million insurance policy payable to the team in the event that happens.

The money becomes fully guaranteed over the next five years, with the 49ers having the ability in each and every year to move on from Kaepernick — and to wait until the end of March to make a decision.

The end of March.  Every year.  The 49ers can explore all other options in free agency and trades, and the team can do a lot of its pre-draft homework before having to renew vows with Kaepernick.  If/when the team decides to go in a different direction, Kaepernick could end up on the market after the money has flowed in free agency, and after all other teams have addressed their needs at the quarterback position.

As a result, Kaepernick needs to keep playing at a high level, year in and year out.  Kaepernick acknowledged on Thursday that he is betting on himself with that arrangement.

The far better bet would have been to go all in for 2014, telling the 49ers, “Let’s talk after the season.”  He opted to take the money now, and as a result he took a lot less than he could have gotten.  Now he has to keep playing at a high level in order to get everything he has been promised.

Otherwise, there will be a flurry of blurbs in 2017 or so regarding Kaepernick’s public lament that the 49ers did him wrong by waiting so long to cut him.

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Davante Adams says last year’s ankle injury “more difficult to deal with”

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11: Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers catches a pass for a touchdown during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Getty Images

Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams is not practicing this week and his status for Sunday’s NFC Championship game is still in doubt after an ankle injury sustained in the fourth quarter of last week’s win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Adams injured his ankle when his left foot was caught awkwardly underneath Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr after a 16-yard completion. It’s the same ankle Adams injured a season ago that impeded his productivity. But unlike that injury, Adams doesn’t believe this issue is quite as significant.

It was pretty painful, but it’s not the worst,” Adams said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “Last year was definitely more difficult to deal with so far at this point.”

Adams’ injury a season ago forced him to miss three games and significantly limited his effectiveness. After the injury, he had just three games where he recorded at least 50 receiving yards.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Adams likely would not play if it were a regular season game. However, a trip to the Super Bowl rides on the outcome of Sunday’s game with Atlanta and that will certainly factor in to the decision regarding Adams’ availability.

“I mean, it’s a big game,” Adams said. “It’s definitely going to have a lot to do with what’s going on come Sunday. But until then, I’m not sure.”

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Who will win the AFC championship?

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is pursued by Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots after making a catch in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

Thursday’s PFT Live presented a question of the day based on the NFC championship. Friday’s PFT Live flips things over to the other conference.

Who wins the AFC title game between the Steelers and Patriots? Vote below, comment, and then tune in for the show.

Guests include Rams coach Sean McVay, whose team once played the Steelers and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Which is the only connection between the Rams and the AFC title game I could muster.

Here’s hoping you’ll muster the will to tune in for the show, which starts on NBC Sports Radio at 6:00 a.m. ET and slides over to NBCSN for the simulcast at 7:00 a.m. ET.

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Oakland mayor issues statement regarding Raiders relocation

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 1:  Oakland Raiders fans hold signs before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders, as expected, have filed for permission to move to Las Vegas. The team’s current home, as expected, has issued a statement cloaked in political cover.

“It’s no surprise that the Raiders have filed for relocation,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said, via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal. “Oakland welcomes the chance to show them and the NFL’s other owners why Oakland is the only home for the Raiders and always will be. Our winning team of the Lott Group, the County and my colleagues on the Oakland City Council has accomplished so much in the last few months. We’ve identified the mechanisms to responsibly finance public infrastructure improvements, we have in the Lott Group a private partner prepared to finance stadium construction, and we have an entitled site for a world-class NFL stadium and new development that enhances fan experience while invigorating East Oakland’s economy.

“But this isn’t all Oakland has to offer. Oakland’s Raiders stadium will be on the most transit-accessible site in the nation, in the sixth largest television market, and in one of the wealthiest and most innovative regions in the world. But above all else, Oakland has something no other city ever will — a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty.

“I look forward to the League giving our team a chance to compete.”

The problem is that Raiders owner Mark Davis has no desire to permit a competition to occur. And there currently aren’t, and likely won’t be, enough owners willing to block the move.

Oakland surely knows this. But they need to create the impression that they did all they could to keep the Raiders, even if there’s no way Oakland will ever be able to do enough.

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Report: Browns close to new deal with Jamie Collins

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 11:  Jamie Collins #51 of the Cleveland Browns tackles Brandon LaFell #11 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns are close to finalizing a multi-year contract with linebacker Jamie Collins, CBS Sports reported Thursday.

The report said “significant progress” has been made between the sides and that the deal will be done by the weekend.

Absent a new deal, Collins would have had hit the open market in March and would have been one of the most coveted free agents at any position. The Browns hope locking him up will be the first step in an important and busy offseason; they come out of last season with the most salary cap room of any team and hold the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.

The Browns acquired Collins in a trade before the trade deadline last November. They gave up a fourth-round pick that reportedly will actually become a compensatory pick at the end of the third round. The Browns would have received a compensatory pick had Collins left via free agency.

The Patriots traded him figuring they wouldn’t be able to meet his salary demands, and Collins started all eight games he played with the Browns. He had two sacks and a forced fumble in those eight games.

Collins has 12.5 sacks and five interceptions over his four-year career. He said at the end of the season he was open to returning to the Browns but would only do so if the money was right.

A second-round pick in 2013, Collins had been a starter since his second year with the Patriots before the trade.

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49ers may have trouble hiring a G.M.

81419378 Getty Images

As the 49ers continue to look for a G.M. who, as a practical matter, will be working for coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers could be facing a different set of challenges.

If control over the roster was promised to Shanahan in order to get him to take the job at a time when everyone else had bailed, the current employers of the candidates for the G.M. job could block the move, since it wouldn’t entail the typical powers of a G.M.

Throw in the perception/reality that Paraag Marathe will be involved in football operations (and possibly negotiating contracts), and more of the finalists for the G.M. job could decide to pass, in the same way that Packers executive Eliot Wolf has done.

For Wolf, why swap the opportunity to eventually (if not sooner) run the Packers’ football operation for being a third spoke in the wheel at best, a glorified scout at worst?

The other candidates will need to ask themselves those same questions, before, during, and/or after their upcoming interviews with the presumed next coach of the team. And it will be important to know whether the G.M. will indeed have final say, since that aspect of the job could be the thing that ultimately keeps the 49ers from getting the guy they want.

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Gregg Williams: No one will be more aggressive or physical than us

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 8: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams of the St. Louis Rams walks the sidelines during the second half of a pre-season game against the New Orleans Saints at the Edward Jones Dome on August 8, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Saints beat the Rams 26-24.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

New Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams says his players will love playing for him in Cleveland because they’re going to be the toughest defense in the league.

“From an attitude standpoint, they’re never going to play for anybody that’s going to let them play more attacking, more physical, more aggressive than me. I’ll back them up,” he said. “I’ve only coached two or three guys in the league that I’ve ever had to put my hand on and back up. My whole life I’ve been trying to speed up your decisions and speed up your toughness and get you to play harder, get you to play tougher, get you to play meaner, and so that will be the way.”

Of course, Williams’ coaching career was almost derailed because he was allegedly too aggressive, too physical and too mean during the Bountygate scandal in New Orleans. Asked about that, Williams quickly shut down that line of questioning.

“Yeah, we’re not here to talk about that,” Williams told reporters. “What else do you want to talk about?”

What folks in Cleveland will want to talk about is whether Williams can turn around one of the worst defenses in football. He thinks his aggressive and physical system will do just that.

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Bills hire Rick Dennison as offensive coordinator

Denver Broncos introduce new coaches Getty Images

New Bills head coach Sean McDermott has made the most important hire on his staff.

Rick Dennison will be the Bills’ offensive coordinator, the team announced.

Dennison spent the last two years as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator under Gary Kubiak but was not retained by new head coach Vance Joseph. Dennison was in his second stint as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator, having also served in that role from 2006 to 2008, and he was also offensive coordinator of the Texans from 2010 to 2013.

In Buffalo, Dennison will run the offense for a new head coach who comes from the defensive side of the ball. Dennison and McDermott have never worked together, but McDermott apparently feels confident that Dennison is the right coach for the job.

Dennison joins a Bills team that has a big decision to make on whether to keep Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback. Dennison was the quarterbacks coach of the Ravens in 2014 when Taylor was in Baltimore as Joe Flacco’s backup, so that could be a sign that Taylor remains in the Bills’ offensive plans.

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Robert Kraft is still salty about #DeflateGate

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots fans who are still salty about #DeflateGate aren’t alone. The man who owns the team remains miffed, too.

“Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly,” Robert Kraft told the New York Times as part of a broader profile. “But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything . . . I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse.”

That quote from Kraft reflects plenty of truths about the debacle arising from a dynamic the league had never previously considered before an in-game complaint from the Colts two years and one day ago prompted a dusty-garage laboratory experiment with miscalibrated equipment, flawed assumptions, and ultimately an agenda to work backward and find that cheating happened even if it didn’t. All of it seemed to be fueled by lingering resentment that has set a standard that plenty of other teams can’t compete with, so they claim that the success came from something other than hard work, careful planning, and superior execution.

This year, with the Patriots generating an overall record of 16-2 despite not having Tom Brady for four games, no one can claim that anything happening other than hard work, careful planning, and superior execution. With two wins, it could culminate in Kraft, Bill Belichick, and/or Tom Brady telling Commissioner Roger Goodell to stick this in his trophy case.

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Hall of Fame obtains full Super Bowl I post-game audio

Super Bowl I - Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has obtained a full audio recording of the post-game show following Super Bowl I, and it’s a fascinating 30 minutes for anyone who’s interested in the history of football.

Pat Summerall, who was then 36 years old and recently retired as a player, handled the post-game proceedings and deftly showed the broadcasting talent that would make him the smoothest voice in pro football for decades to come. Summerall handled interviews with players, coaches and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who had recently been named commissioner of the American Football League as well.

The Super Bowl wasn’t always called the Super Bowl back then; some referred to it as the “AFL-NFL Championship Game,” and although others used the term “Super Bowl,” it hadn’t yet been formally adopted.

One thing that stands out in listening to the broadcast is that virtually everyone took it as obvious that the NFL was a superior league to the AFL, and even though the NFL’s Packers had blown out the AFL’s Chiefs 35-10, Summerall acted surprised that the Chiefs were even able to keep it that close.

“I think if you watched, you were surprised, possibly — or possibly you knew — that Kansas City was as strong as they are,” Summerall said.

Packers coach Vince Lombardi scoffed when asked after the game whether AFL teams were on the same level as NFL teams.

“That’s a good football team and it doesn’t compare with the National Football League teams,” Lombardi said of the Chiefs. “I think the Kansas City team is a real tough football team but it doesn’t rate with the top teams in our league.”

Given that attitude, it’s unsurprising that the AFL Jets’ victory over the NFL Colts in Super Bowl III is still considered the greatest upset in the history of pro football.

Rozelle talked about the future of football with the NFL and AFL finally meeting on the same field, and he sounded particularly interested in how the two leagues would merge their rules. Rozelle said he hadn’t decided whether the two-point conversion, a staple of the AFL, would make its way to the NFL.

“One of the main ones left open was that two-point conversion,” Rozelle said. “As to the future of the two-point conversion, we’ll take it up after this summer, perhaps.”

As it turned out, the old-school NFL decided not to implement the newfangled two-point conversion until 1994.

The audio also includes Rozelle giving Lombardi the now-famous silver trophy and saying, “Vinny, this is the first Super Bowl trophy, and something Green Bay can keep — we’re going to have a new trophy each year.” That trophy, of course, continues to go to the winner of the Super Bowl each year, and now bears Lombardi’s name.

The Super Bowl I post-game audio was believed to be lost to history, as is the full TV broadcast of the Super Bowl I game. But a former production manager for an Ohio television station recently informed the Hall of Fame that he had recorded the show at the time that it aired and still had the tape. For fans of football history, that’s like finding buried treasure.

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NFL moves Commissioner’s Super Bowl press conference from Friday to Wednesday

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference prior to Super Bowl 50 at the Moscone Center West on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images) Getty Images

Super Bowl week typically ends with a Friday press conference involving the Commissioner. Although he speaks on various other occasions throughout the year (but hardly “almost every day“), there’s a different feel for the Super Bowl press conference, especially given the sheer number of reporters present and the lingering sense that a curveball, a screwball, and/or a spitball could be coming for him at any given moment.

This year, there will be a change. Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the Commissioner’s press conference has been moved from Friday to Wednesday.

As Kaplan notes, it’s a “major break” from tradition, which could mean that fewer reporters will attend, since plenty don’t arrive until the final few days of the week.

“Our overall thinking is by Friday people are really focused on the game,” NFL executive V.P. of communications Joe Lockhart told Kaplan.

I’ve been to the site of the Super Bowl every week since 2009, and that’s just not the case. Monday through Friday (and in many cases Saturday) is about everything but the game, save for the pool reports from team practices, which in most cases really don’t tell the people anything they don’t already know. The overall activity builds exponentially throughout the week, and by Friday every nook and cranny of the Super Bowl media center has maximum attendance and maximum buzz. Wednesday’s overall crowd typically a fraction of the throng that attends on Friday.

Maybe the goal is to get more people there earlier in the week. If that was the case, however, the league should have disclosed the change far earlier than precisely two weeks before the event.

The logical conclusion, then, is that the people responsible for the care and feeding of the Commissioner’s image hope to expose him to a crowd of reporters that will be smaller and, in turn, more predictable and more manageable.

There’s one major flaw in that logic. If the Patriots make it, the concentration of reporters who will be more inclined to pose tough, aggressive questions about #DeflateGate will be much greater, since the folks who cover the Patriots definitely will be there on Wednesday if the Patriots are there all week.

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Championship week PA and Florio podcast is up

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It’s AFC and NFC title-game time, and the PA and Florio podcast will help get you ready for the games.

The latest edition of the half-hour-or-so discussion is available wherever podcasts can be obtained, specifically at  iTunes and audioBoom, and free of charge as always.

PA is, for those of you who ask every week, Paul Allen. He’s not the Paul Allen who owns the Seahawks; he’s the Paul Allen of KFAN and the Vikings Radio Network.

He’s also often very annoying with his over-the-top positive demeanor, which tends to bring out the worst in me.

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Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison remain out of practice for Packers

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Geronimo Allison #81 of the Green Bay Packers reacts in the first half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers didn’t have a change in status for any of their injured wide receivers during Thursday’s practice.

Jordy Nelson was on the field for the second straight day, but media in Green Bay report that he wasn’t wearing pads while going through drills with his teammates. Nelson said on Wednesday that the team was still waiting to see that he was “fully functional” after breaking ribs during the Wild Card round.

Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison remained out as well with an ankle and hamstring injury respectively. Coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t made a ruling about Sunday for any of them, but said that he would probably be ruling them out if it were the regular season.

“They’re still working,” McCarthy said, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “They’re mentally getting ready. This is an injury threshold all three of those guys have, Jordy, Davante and Geronimo. They all have three distinctly different injuries. In the regular season mindset, I would think none of them would play in this game. But obviously this is a different time, this is a different point where we are in the season. Everybody understands what’s on the line here.”

McCarthy said the team wouldn’t look to the practice squad or outside the organization in the event all three can’t play against the Falcons. Randall Cobb, Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis are the other wideouts on the active roster with Ty Montgomery also experienced at the position in his pre-running back days and tight end Jared Cook playing a big role as a receiver.

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Several Steelers have the flu, Mike Tomlin says they’ll be fine

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 18:  Head Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates while walking off of the field after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 24-20 at Paul Brown Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

An illness is going around the Steelers’ locker room, but coach Mike Tomlin says he’s not overly concerned about it.

Four players missed practice with an illness today, and there are reportedly more than a dozen people in the Steelers facility feeling sick. Tomlin, however, said he believes everyone will be good to go in New England on Sunday.

“I’m just thankful that I’ve stayed out of the line of fire,” Tomlin said. “We’re not making excuses. There won’t be. We’ll be there, we’ll be ready to play, this is just part of normal things that happen over the course of a season”

Players who missed Wednesday’s practice with the illness were back on the practice field today, so it appears that it’s not an illness that will keep players laid up for long. The Steelers will hope to have it all out of their systems by Sunday.

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Interpreting Jim Irsay’s tweet about Andrew Luck

jim_irsay_colts_owner Getty Images

At a time when plenty of eyes had been watching the Twitter page of Colts owner Jim Irsay to see if he’ll say anything about the status of G.M. Ryan Grigson and/or coach Chuck Pagano, Irsay threw everyone a curve ball by disclosing that quarterback Andrew Luck had shoulder surgery.

There’s no requirement that the Colts disclose any information about player health until September, as they approach their regular-season opener. So why would Irsay provide that information on Twitter?

The easy answer is why does Irsay provide any revelations on Twitter? From time to time in the past, he has caused plenty of head scratching with his Twitter habits. And if he’s going to be disclosing information that he has every right to keep to himself for the next eight months, why wouldn’t he mention the status of Grigson and/or Pagano?

While it’s admittedly dangerous and at times even shocking to try to discern meaning from the words people use, here’s my take on what Irsay is saying, as it relates to Grigson and Pagano: He plans to say nothing at all about either of them.

It’s actually a smart move, if his effort to find two in the bush while still gripping a bird in the hand has, as it appears, failed. At this point, an announcement that they’ll be back would operate as indirect confirmation that they were in trouble, which would serve only to further undermine them.

So we endorse and applaud the “Flick? Flick who?” strategy. It’s the only good way out of a mess that became a mess because Irsay didn’t want to fire his current key football employees unless and until he landed new ones.

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James Harrison, Ladarius Green don’t practice Thursday

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is seen on the field after a play during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Running back Le’Veon Bell wasn’t the only player to miss practice for the Steelers on Thursday.

Steelers tight end Ladarius Green returned to the practice field as a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice, the first time he’d been on the field in almost two weeks as he deals with a concussion that has kept him from playing in the team’s last four games.

Green didn’t run his streak to two straight days, although the team says the reason was illness rather than a setback with his head injury. The Steelers had four players out with a stomach bug during Wednesday’s practice and word from those around the team is that Green is dealing with the same issue.

The Steelers have grown accustomed to playing without Green this season, which likely makes linebacker James Harrison’s absence with shoulder and triceps injuries a bigger deal. Harrison practiced in full on Wednesday, a day after coach Mike Tomlin said the veteran would be limited, and Friday will bring an official designation for Sunday’s game.

Harrison has been productive in the first two rounds with 2.5 sacks and the team will be hoping he’s healthy enough to join Bud Dupree in creating pressure on Tom Brady that can keep the Patriots offense from getting in gear.

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