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Jay Gruden warns Brandon Meriweather not to hit high in practice

Meriweather AP

Washington safety Brandon Meriweather was suspended for a game last year for helmet-to-helmet hits. Washington coach Jay Gruden is warning Meriweather that the same offense will get him suspended from practice as well.

“Brandon, he plays a very physical style of football,” Gruden said. “That’s all he knows. But there is a rule now obviously and he’s had to pay the price for it. And he understands the next one is going to be a longer suspension. We talked about that today, actually. I told him he is going to get a two-practice suspension if he doesn’t lower his target.”

Gruden expects Meriweather to be a big part of Washington’s defense, but only if he can remember to avoid helmet-to-helmet hits.

“He’s a good football player,” Gruden said. “He’s tough, he’s physical, he wants to do the right thing but sometimes at that position though and the ball is in the air, he’s trying to knock the ball out and sometimes they unfortunately make contact head-to-head and it’s not intentional. I don’t think he has the intent to injure people. I think he has the intent to get the player down and get the ball out. Sometimes those instances look worse than they are but he does have to really watch his area of target and hopefully we will keep him on the field for 16 weeks because he is much needed in the secondary.”

The NFL doesn’t take kindly to repeat offenders, and if Meriweather hits another opponent high in a game, he’s likely looking at a multiple-game suspension. Gruden is hoping to break Meriweather of the habit permanently.

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Now that Russell Wilson said a number, his agent’s pumping it up


With the news on Russell Wilson’s contract situation trickling out in tweets (sub- and otherwise) and thinly veiled references to leaving town in radio interviews, it was notable last night that the Seahawks quarterback finally said a number.

As you might imagine, his agent wishes he’d have said a bigger one.

Shortly after Wilson floated the number $25 million in his meandering way, agent Mark Rodgers replied with his own take on the situation which has taken on a life of its own this offseason.

I wish he had said $40 million,” Rodgers wrote on Twitter. “Then this would be really interesting. #patience #relax #no_deadline.”

The hashtags have been staple messages of both Wilson and his agent since this process began.

And continuing to talk about big numbers and patience at the same time does nothing to deter one from thinking their end game is to see what an open market would bear for them — assuming the Seahawks let them reach it unfettered.

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NFL’s next Los Angeles meeting limited to owners only

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We knew NFL owners were meeting in Chicago on Aug. 11 to discuss the future of the Los Angeles situation, that fact alone makes it noteworthy.

But when they call the roll, it’s going to be even more clear they’re there to do business.

According to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, this meeting will be a rare one-per-club meeting, meaning the 32 owners will be alone in a room.

The sense is that without team presidents and other officials who are around for the annual spring meetings in the room, the owners will more comfortable to push through difficult issues with fewer people clattering about.

With only principal owners in the room (plus one family member each), it creates an opportunity for real movement on the issue in a behind-the-scenes-while-being-the-scene way.

At that meeting, they’re not expected to make a final decision on who goes to L.A. and where they play. But they will hear presentations from the Inglewood and Carson stadium sites, which are being forwarded by the Rams and the Chargers/Raiders jointly, respectively.

Having three teams and two stadium possibilities mean that deals going to be too tough to strike in any one day. But they are expected to refine and announce a new schedule for both accepting relocation applications and making the final decisions for the site of the team(s) involved.

It could also stem the tide of leaks (if fewer leaks is what they want), as fewer people in the room mean fewer people to spread the information shared within.

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Walter Thurmond says Tom Coughlin isn’t a fan of new-age medical practices

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At 68 years old, Tom Coughlin is the oldest head coach in the National Football League. His personality and coaching style has always been rooted in the old-school ways of football.

While Coughlin has softened his demeanor in recent years, there may be one aspect of the game where he has yet to adapt to the changing norms of the NFL.

At least according to former New York Giants cornerback Walter Thurmond.

Thurmond played in just two games for the Giants last year before being lost for the season with a torn pectoral. It was just another in a long line of injuries that have helped derail the last several seasons for the Giants.

In an interview with Bleacher Report, Thurmond said Coughlin hasn’t accepted some of the new-age medical practices for football players Thurmond is familiar with under Pete Carroll in Seattle and Chip Kelly in Philadelphia and Oregon.

“I’ll start by saying they all have one thing in common: They are driven to win a championship,” Thurmond said. “And they believe with every fiber in their bodies all the way to their core in their philosophies. They realize some coaches would belittle the situation once the playoffs came by just trying to win this or that game. When the coach is confident in saying, ‘We’re here to win a championship, and that’s our sole purpose,’ I think guys react that way.

“Coach Coughlin is the same type of person, but we battled through injuries last season,” Thurmond continued. “Yes, he’s a little old-school, but he’s starting to come around to the times. He doesn’t believe in the sport-science aspect like Coach Carroll or Coach Kelly and the newfound technology for the players. His style takes a hit, because he doesn’t believe in this aspect. He believes in winning, but he doesn’t believe in the modern medicine to progress the players to that next level.”

Kelly implemented personalized smoothies for players after practice, in addition to installing his high-paced offense. Carroll has added the smoothies to the players’ regimen in Seattle as well and tries to strategically find ways to get players off their feet to recover throughout the week.

Is Coughlin’s supposed unwillingness to adapt to this shift in techniques a reason the Giants have suffered so many injuries in recent seasons? There’s no way to know. But for a league that tries to seek out every advantage possible during the week to gain an advantage on game days, the Giants may be lagging a step behind.

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Marshawn dives into Skittles, talks about “grabbing my ding-ding”

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While Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was talking about his contract on ESPN, running back Marshawn Lynch was on TBS discussing slightly more sophisticated matters.

“I done got in a lot of trouble for grabbing my ding-ding,” Lynch told Conan O’Brien during Monday night’s show regarding the player’s habit of putting a hand on his crotch while diving into the end zone. (He grabbed said ding-ding at least twice while talking to Conan.)

Lynch also dove into a end zone full of Skittles. And, naturally, he grabbed his ding-ding while in the air.

Before that, Lynch said he was convinced he’d be getting the ball at the end of the Super Bowl, but  he said he’s not mad about the situation. (Lynch didn’t reiterate any of his remarks from Turkey about someone possibly not wanting him to become Super Bowl MVP and in turn the “face of the nation.”)

Lynch likewise admitted to contemplating retirement but explained that when the Seahawks “put 12 in front of you for a year, you start to think, maybe I could do this again.”

Said Conan, wistfully: “12 thousand dollars.”

Replied Lynch: “Yeah, something like that.”

It’s actually $12 million. Which allows Lynch to grab his ding-ding and pay the fine pretty much every play he touches the football. And pretty much every time he doesn’t.

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Russell Wilson mentions a figure: $25 million

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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has yet again been interviewed. And he has yet again avoided questions about his contract with the team.

But Wilson has finally floated a figure, during an interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith.

Said Smith, “Nobody’s won more than you in the last several years. We’ve seen what some of your peers have gotten on the market recently. Based on the current market for the quarterback and based on your resume, what do you deserve?”

Wilson opted to be coy. “I don’t know, how much would you pay me, Marty?” Wilson said with a laugh.

“I mean, you have a Super Bowl and you took ’em to another Super Bowl,” Smith said.

“I think ultimately it comes down to the play,” Wilson said. “Just let my play speak for itself, and let the rest take care of itself. Continue to love the game for what it is, continue to fight, continue to play.  No matter how much I’m getting paid, whether it’s $25 million or $1.5 million. I’ll be ready to go.”

The second number is what Wilson is due to make this year. The first number could be what Wilson is aiming to get, a possible slip of the tongue. (Or maybe he was simply thinking about the jersey number worn by teammate Richard Sherman.)

Wilson also called his relationship with the Seahawks “great” and “I don’t think it’s a bad relationship by any means.” He also reiterated his desire to stay in Seattle.

That’s fine, but at some point the desire to stay in Seattle and the desire to get paid will conflict, especially if he’s serious about making $25 million per year — which is $3 million more per year than the current high-water mark in the NFL set two years ago by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

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The NFL’s scientific consultant has bigger problems than the Wells report

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After the NFL hired outside investigator Ted Wells to handle the #DeflateGate probe, Wells retained a firm known as Exponent to provide scientific and mathematical support.

Initially, Columbia University was mentioned as a potential consultant for Wells, but that never materialized — possibly because Columbia wouldn’t reach the conclusion Wells wanted Columbia to reach. Instead, Wells picked Exponent, litigation-support firm that once concluded second-hand smoke doesn’t cause cancer in exchange for a likely sizable fee from one or more tobacco companies.

“Exponent’s research has come under fire from critics, including engineers, attorneys and academics who say the company tends to deliver to clients the reports they need to mount a public defense,” the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2010. (Exponent predictably denied the allegation.)

Most recently, Exponent has come under fire not for what it delivered but for what it didn’t deliver. Via, a court order entered earlier this month in Illinois found Exponent to be in violation of a court order requiring the company to produce certain documents in a civil lawsuit. Exponent tried to advance a couple of flimsy legal privileges for failing to comply, but the court ultimately found Exponent to be in violation of a prior court order — and the violation of a court order is a big deal in any form of litigation.

“[T]he Court cannot allow Exponent to stand in violation of a valid Court order compelling the production of documents which were demanded pursuant to a lawful subpoena and found relevant by the Court,” Judge Stephen A. Stobbs wrote in the June 2, 2015 order. “Methodologically sound science has nothing to fear from full and open disclosure.”

The last part makes a lot of sense, and it bolster our prior argument that the NFL should release all communications between Wells and Exponent, in order to allow the Patriots, Tom Brady, and the media to scrutinize whether Exponent provided an honest and objective analysis to Wells or whether Exponent gave Wells precisely what Wells was buying — a finding that the Patriots tampered with the air pressure in the footballs used in the AFC title game.

In the Illinois case, Exponent was required to reimburse the party seeking the documents for all legal fees relating to the pursuit of the materials, along with a $1,000 fine for each day that the company failed to deliver the documents, if the documents weren’t produced by June 23, 2015.

In this case, Exponent is facing no financial liability. But Exponent is facing a significant potential blow to its credibility. If it had any remaining credibility after claiming that second-hand smoke doesn’t cause cancer.

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J.J. Watt wipes out fan at concert, with a tackle that likely was staged

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Mike Curtis approves this message.

On Sunday night, a fan at a Zac Brown Band concert put his toes on the stage — and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt put his ass on the ground. Watt posted the video of the moment on his Twitter page with the message, “Nobody messes with @zacbrownband.”

Was it staged? As noted by Tania Ganguli of, the fan at the Milwaukee show was wearing an Alabama T-shirt, and Wisconsin (Watt’s alma mater) faces the Crimson Tide to launch the 2015 college football season. Which strongly suggests that the moment was staged.

Still, it was an impressive wipeout by the guy who recently slapped a hockey puck past a goalie who dove away from the goal just as the shot was coming.

Neither moment was as impressive as the knee-jerk shoulder slam from the Colts linebacker who in 1971 stopped a fan who stormed the field and tried to abscond with the football.

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Did Brady give up his phone to Goodell?

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With both sides of the Tom Brady appeal keeping mostly quiet about what did or didn’t happen at last week’s full-day hearing, a question remains regarding whether Brady accepted Commissioner Roger Goodell’s indirect invitation to give to Goodell what Brady refused to give to investigator Ted Wells: The contents of Brady’s phone.

“[H]e refused to permit us to review electronic data from his telephone or other instruments,” Wells said during a May 12 media conference call. “Most of the key evidence in this case as in most cases comes from people’s cell phones and he refused to let us review the phone. And I want to be crystal clear, I told Mr. Brady and his agents I was willing to not take possession of the phone, I don’t want to see any private communications, I said, ‘You keep the phone, you give me documents that are responsive to this investigation and I will take your word for it’ and they still refused.”

Twice since then, Goodell has invited Brady to provide “new information,” without mentioning the phone.

“As I have said publicly, I very much look forward to hearing from Mr. Brady and to considering any new information or evidence that he may bring to my attention,” Goodell said in the letter to the NFL Players Association explaining his decision not to step aside from the appeal.

It’s not known what, if anything, Brady gave to Goodell either before or during the appeal hearing. As one source with knowledge of the situation explained it to PFT, Brady likely did not surrender enough to prompt Goodell to conclude that Brady fully cooperated with the investigation on a belated basis.

But “full cooperation” and “reasonable cooperation” are two different things. Brady had a duty only to reasonably cooperate. He and Goodell may disagree on whether Brady’s cooperation was reasonable.

Ultimately, the question of whether Brady reasonably cooperated could be one for a federal court to consider, as part of the broader question of whether the outcome of his appeal hearing should be overturned.

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Report: Free agent linebacker Kyle Knox suspended four games

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Free agent linebacker Kyle Knox has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season, according to Howard Balzer of the Sports Xchange.

Knox, 26, has spent time with the Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys during his three seasons in the league. He was most recently signed by Dallas on June 2, only to be waived three days later.

Knox appeared in four games for Jacksonville in 2013 and 12 games last season for the Saints. He recorded three tackles for New Orleans while primarily serving on special teams duty.

The league policy Knox violated in order to incur the suspension was not stated in the report.

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Marcell Dareus is in his happy place, ready to play

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It’s not that Marcell Dareus didn’t play well last year, but he was nearly more trouble than he was worth on his way to that point.

And when you’re the third overall pick in the draft, and a Pro Bowler, that’s saying something.

But after years of being out of shape and dealing with off-field issues, Dareus rebounded last year, and credited his teammates and the organization for helping him to that point.

I’m in my Zen mode right now. Nothing’s bothering me,” Dareus said, via John Kryk of the Toronto Sun.

That wasn’t always the case, after offseasons marked by arrests and conditioning concerns. But last year, he looked like a new man, with 10.0 sacks, the most of any defensive tackle in the league.

He dealt with his share of personal tragedies, but also fell victim to some of the bad influences that remained in his life.

“I am gonna alter my life now, and alter my way of living — drastically,” Dareus said. “I’ve dropped a lot of friends that I thought were friends, just in the last couple of months. I don’t go around certain areas that I used to go around. I don’t hang with certain people. I don’t do certain things.”

He’s still suspended for the first week of the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, following his synthetic marijuana arrest. But he says he’s back on track after years of personal turmoil, and entering a contract year coming off his best performance, he’s just in time.

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Bills think they can have the greatest defense ever

Alex Smith, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams

Confidence continues to pour out of Buffalo, as the arrival of Rex Ryan has made a major impact on the attitude of the Bills.

Multiple players on the Bills’ defense have said that they believe they can have the best defense in the history of the NFL this season.

We want to be the best in history — one of the greatest,” linebacker Nigel Bradham told the Toronto Sun. “That’s what we’re striving for … the greatest of all time, not just this year or last year.”

Asked about the defense’s goal for the season, Marcell Dareus answered, “Best ever. It’s so obtainable. All we have to do is continue to do what we want, and not what we can. If we do what we want, and do everything to head in that direction, why can’t we? Why can’t we?”

Dareus has bought into everything that Ryan is selling.

“We finally have a coach who will really lay it on the line for us,” he said. “I mean, Rex will make the tough calls and really put us in the position to win, regardless of whatever the stakes are. And he’s not going to be buddy-buddy. He’s like, ‘You’re a grown man and I’m going to tell it to you like it is.’ And that’s what we all need. We’re all grown men. To have somebody babying us, or somebody trying to micro-manage us — I mean, no man really wants to ever be under somebody’s thumb all the time. Rex is just that type of guy where he’s going to let you play ball, he’s going to put you in the best situations, and he’s going to do his best not to let you fail.”

Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams echoed those sentiments.

“Yeah, I think big goals and big dreams produce pretty great things,” Williams said. “And if you’re not willing to put yourself out there and be held accountable to that, you’ll just be happy with any results that you get. That’s not what we want. We want to be the best.”

The Bills had one of the NFL’s best defenses last year and should have one of the NFL’s best defenses this year, too. But best ever? That’s a title often given to the 1985 Bears Defense coached by Rex’s father, Buddy Ryan. The Bills have a long way to go before they’re in that company.

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Lions fan fined for using laser pointer to distract Kyle Orton


Then-Bills quarterback Kyle Orton said after last season’s game at Detroit that a fan had been distracting him on the field with a laser pointer. That fan has now been fined and sentenced to community service.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Marko Beslach, an 18-year-old from West Bloomfield, Michigan, paid a $235 fine and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in connection with the incident.

After last year’s game (which the Bills won), the Lions issued a statement saying that laser pointers were banned at the stadium and that the team was made aware that the Bills had complained. Beslach was caught in part because he bragged on Twitter that he had distracted Bills players with a laser.

Beslach has been banned from Ford Field. The Lions revoked the season tickets of the fan who brought Beslach to the game.

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Eric Winston: Don’t expect too much from Jake Fisher too soon

Jake Fisher, C.J. Uzomah AP

The Bengals took offensive linemen with each of their first two picks in this year’s draft, although first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi is likely to have a delayed start to his pro career after tearing his ACL in Texas A&M’s bowl game after last season.

Second-round pick Jake Fisher has been much busier, however. Fisher saw time at left tackle, right tackle and left guard during spring work and drawn good reviews for his athleticism after playing in the high-tempo Oregon system. That system is different than what we’re used to seeing in the NFL and veteran tackle Eric Winston says Fisher’s going to need time before he’s able to handle life in the professional trenches.

“He’s going to go through a lot of growing pains,” Winston said, via “To anoint him or think he’s going to be able to step in Day 1 and be able to do it, hell, I can’t do that. There’s not a lot of guys that can do that and step in Day 1 and be a guy the team can rely on, especially at one of the tougher spots like the tackle position. It’s rough. It’s not easy.”

Ultimately, Winston thinks the struggles will be a necessary part of Fisher’s growth as a player because it will force him to figure out the right ways to approach difficult situations. It should also help that the Bengals have players on hand — tackles Winston, Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith and guards Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler — who should allow them to give Fisher time to grow before he’s thrust into the lineup.

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Eagles announce signing of John Moffitt

John Moffitt AP

The Eagles have officially added John Moffitt to their offensive line.

Moffitt, a guard who abruptly retired from the Broncos during the 2013 season, will now compete for a roster spot in Philadelphia, the team announced today.

The 28-year-old Moffitt has faced legal troubles and been charged with assault, public urination and possession of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. But he has reportedly gone to rehab and has worked to get his life back on track. Now he’ll hope to get his career back on track as well.

The Eagles released guard Cole Manhart to make room for Moffitt on the roster.

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Vernon Davis: Very good at football, less so at Family Feud

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New 49ers coach Jim Tomsula might be off the hook.

Tight end Vernon Davis may have created the most unintentionally hilarious video of their offseason, with one of the worst Family Feud answers in the history of the game.

Via The Diamondback, Davis was part of the celebrity version of the popular game show last night, in an episode pitting AFC players against NFC players, when he came up with his own version of the football follies.

When host Steve Harvey asked players to “Name something that follows the word strip,” Davis thought he had hit one out of the park.

“Pers,” he replied with a bit of a confused look, dropping a solid suffix but something less than a good answer.

“Club,” perhaps. “Mall,” even. “Steak,” makes sense. Heck, “mining” would have been a better answer than “pers.”

While that was the best of the night, it wasn’t his only memorable answer. Earlier in the show, he was asked: “If you’re good at reading body language, what part of a woman speaks the loudest?”

He replied “feet,” which may tell us something about the kind of pers Davis is into.

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