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Aldon Smith in L.A. for hearing to wrap up incident at LAX

Aldon Smith AP

49ers linebacker Aldon Smith isn’t facing any charges from an April incident at Los Angeles International Airport, but he still had some housekeeping to take care of regarding the issue on Wednesday.

Bill Williamson of ESPN was the first to report that Smith is in Los Angeles instead of at practice on Wednesday to take part in a hearing that will officially close the case. Smith ran afoul of authorities at LAX when he made reference to having a bomb that he did not actually possess. Coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed Smith was absent, but wouldn’t confirm the reason.

“He’s going through a process,” Harbaugh said, via Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group.

Smith was recently sentenced to 12 days in jail on gun and DUI charges from a different incident, but has not yet heard anything about any discipline from the league for his walks on the wrong side of the law. Smith said last week that he expects to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell soon for a discussion on that front.

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Green Bay Police: Datone Jones became upset, identified himself as a Packer

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Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones wasted no time in trying to start enjoying his offseason.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Jones was arrested for marijuana possession just a couple hours after the Packers’ team plane landed following their season-ending loss to the Seahawks in Seattle.

The Green Bay Police Department says that Jones “became emotionally upset, and told officers he was the first-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers.”

It’s to the credit of the Green Bay Police that Jones wasn’t able to employ the “Do you know who I am?” card successfully. It’s odd, though, that news of Jones’s arrest never became public until after the NFL announced that he had been suspended for the first game of the 2015 season.

Jones resolved the legal matter by paying an $880 fine. The suspension could cost him $122,765.

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Seattle hopes to get better performance from its offensive line

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As the Seahawks fret about how they’ll pay quarterback Russell Wilson while having enough money left for other key players on the team, they currently don’t have to worry about the offensive linemen busting the budget.

Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a position-by-position look at the team’s potential starting lineup along the offensive line for 2015. With center Max Unger and left guard James Carpenter gone, the expected configuration consists of Russell Okung at left tackle, Alvin Bailey at left guard, Lemuel Jeanpierre at center, J.R. Sweezy at right guard, and Justin Britt at right tackle.

Per Bell, the Seahawks may begin to groom Gary Gilliam at left tackle as the season progresses, given that Okung is in the last year of his contract. Also, rookie Mark Glowinski eventually could push Sweezy at right guard.

Regardless of who plays in 2015, they’ll need to play better than they have. Quarterback Russell Wilson has faced consistent pressure in passing situations, which if it continues could make it difficult for the Seahawks to take full advantage of tight end Jimmy Graham.

And it could make running back Marshawn Lynch more likely to call it quits following a season of getting banged around by defenders that the offensive line fails to keep away from him.

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Eight days left for long-term franchise-tag deals

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At one point in the life of the franchise tag, the window for negotiating long-term deals with franchise-tagged players reopened on July 15. It now closes then.

Which means that, after July 15, the five players on whom the tag was used in 2015 (Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, Giants defensive end Jason-Pierre Paul, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, and Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski) can sign only one-year contracts.

For Thomas and Houston, there are no signs of progress. For Pierre-Paul, it’s all gotten very complicated in the aftermath of his July 4 fireworks mishap. For Gostkowski, who already has signed the franchise tender but who can still sign a long-term deal through July 15, no one knows whether anything is happening in large part because the Patriots have found a way to keep that stuff quiet until they want someone to know about it.

Bryant’s situation has become the most fluid. News that agent Tom Condon negotiated with the Cowboys last month resulted a few days later in scattered rumors and reports that a deal is imminent. Eight days since those rumors and reports of an imminent first emerged, there’s still no deal — even though the latest round of equivocal bet-hedging out of Dallas seemed to vaguely suggest that the Cowboys and Bryant had a deal in place that would be unveiled on the Monday after the holiday weekend.

Monday has come and gone, with still no announcement or other tangible signs of a deal between the Cowboys and Bryant. Some will likely continue to suggest a deal is “imminent,” and then they’ll claim to have been right all along if a deal gets done just before the July 15 deadline, regardless of whether a deal was truly “imminent” at any point since Condon met with the Cowboys.

However “imminent” is defined, Bryant, the Cowboys, and the other four players and teams have eight days to do a long-term deal. Otherwise, it’ll be a one-year arrangement and then a 20-percent raise to do the franchise-tag dance all over again in 2016 — unless one of the teams dangles a promise not to use the tag again as a way to get the player to show up for training camp at the earliest, and before the Tuesday after Week 10 at the latest.

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Breshad Perriman hoping to make Ravens starting job his own

Breshad Perriman AP

With Torrey Smith chasing the money out the door and Jacoby Jones cut, the Ravens need a speed guy to make a quick impact.

And first-round pick Breshad Perriman is hoping to provide just that.

The rookie wide receiver has a clear path to a starting job opposite Steve Smith, but he’s trying to keep his focus narrower.

It’s a goal of mine, but at the same time, it’s not really on my mind,” Perriman said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “I’m just really trying to focus on getting better every day, just going out there, take it day by day and see how it plays out.

“I just take it day by day, try to not think about the starting job or anything like that, because I feel like I’d get thrown off track. For the most part, I just try to come out and compete and work on craft, the little things I need to work on to make me become a good receiver.”

The Ravens have an odd lot of receivers behind him, with Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro also in the mix for the job. But it’s clearly there for Perriman to take. His speed was the reason he was drafted in the first round, but he has to become more consistent catching things to be effective.

“I really just talk to myself,” Perriman said. “It’s really all mental. I talk to myself, tell myself the things that I need to do to complete those passes and just try to step it up a notch more.”

Others are talking to him as well, knowing they have to refine him, and fast.

“He’s a worker,” Ravens receivers coach Bobby Engram said. “On the field, we just keep working the fundamentals, getting in and out of breaks, transitioning, tracking the ball, being aggressive back to the ball – all the things he’s working on since he started playing receiver.

“I love what I see. We’ve just got to continue to build on it.”

And with the offseason changes in their offense, they need to get it built quickly.

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Andrew Luck isn’t circling Patriots game on his schedule

AFC Championship - Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Getty Images

The Colts have seen their last two seasons come to an end on the wrong side of blowout losses to the Patriots in the playoffs and they also took a thumping from New England during the 2014 regular season, leaving the unshakable impression that the Colts are going to need to find a way to beat the Patriots if they ever hope to win the Super Bowl.

Quarterback Andrew Luck thinks his team has a “realistic chance” of doing that after the 2015 season, although that doesn’t mean he’s looking at the team’s Week Six game as a referendum on how realistic those chances will be. The Colts will host the Patriots that Sunday night, but Luck says it is just one of 16 games.

“The Patriots are obviously the defending Super Bowl champs and our defending conference champs so there’s a high amount of respect for that team and what they do,” Luck said, via Neil Reynolds of Sky Sports and “They’re the kings of the league right now and everybody would like to de-throne them — we’d like to de-throne them but you have to look at the season as 16 games. There are fans and media who will hype up certain games and circle them in red on the calendar but, as a player, you lose sight of what’s important if you get into that mode.”

People are circling that game in red for reasons beyond the Patriots’ status as defending champions. The Colts were involved in getting the ball rolling on Deflategate and the Week Six matchup would be quarterback Tom Brady’s first week back with the Patriots if his suspension is not altered by Commissioner Roger Goodell as a result of Brady’s recent appeal.

Those sidebars and the results of the last three games with the Patriots make it feel like a lot more than one of 16 games even if the result will count the same as the result of the Jaguars’ visit to Indy in Week Four.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

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WR Caleb Holley is trying to overcome the odds and make the Bills.

Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry threw out the first pitch at a Marlins game.

CSN New England ranks OL Dan Koppen as the No. 22 player of the Bill Belichick era with the Patriots.

Forecasting LB Calvin Pace’s role on the Jets Defense.

Ravens rookie WR Breshad Perriman has his eye on a starting job.

Spreading optimism about the Bengals.

The Browns have announced their training camp schedule.

Steelers DE Ethan Hemer likes Pittsburgh more than he thought he would.

A couple of positive takes about what’s ahead for the Texans.

No defenses are overlooking Colts WR T.Y. Hilton.

Five Jaguars rookies to watch during training camp.

Fans visiting the Titans stadium for a soccer match weren’t impressed with how the facility handled the event.

Breaking down the tight ends and fullbacks with the Broncos.

Rookie Mitch Morse has made a good early impression on the Chiefs coaching staff.

The Raiders’ record book for kickers is heavy on Sebastian Janikowski’s accomplishments.

Everything you need to know about Chargers CB Brandon Flowers.

T Doug Free is the veteran leader on the Cowboys offensive line.

How does the Giants defensive line measure up to the one in Philly?

Eagles rookie WR Nelson Agholor already has some admirers around the league.

Is T Trent Williams going to get a long-term contract with the Redskins?

Rex Ryan and the Bills want their defense to perform like the one Buddy Ryan put together for the 1985 Bears.

WR T.J. Jones is fighting for a role with the Lions after injury ruined his rookie year.

Packers CB Casey Hayward could be asked to do more this season.

The Josh Robinson injury hasn’t left the Vikings too thin at cornerback.

Panthers QB Cam Newton hit Australia during his time off before camp.

The Saints have more intriguing matchups in 2015 than their meeting with the Jaguars.

Buccaneers fans can share their love for the team on a license plate.

Are opposing defenses worried about Cardinals QB Carson Palmer?

Some of the most impressive statistics in Rams history.

The first practice of 49ers camp will be open to the public.

The Seahawks are sorting out their offensive line.

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Pierre-Paul’s best move could be to hold out until he’s healed


With the Giants yanking a long-term offer that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul wasn’t going to accept, it’s now likely that he’ll spend 2015 under the one-year franchise tag. But if he’s going to miss all of training camp and possibly the start of the regular season as he recovers from hand injuries suffered during a fireworks mishap, his best move could be to not sign the tender until he’s cleared to play.

By showing up before he’s ready, Pierre-Paul forces the Giants to decide what to do with him. While it would be easy to carry him on the non-football injury list through the preseason, a decision would have to be made before Week One: Move him to the active roster (and pay him) or keep him on NFI (and not pay him, if the Giants so choose) for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

If Pierre-Paul is on track to be cleared in, for example, the middle of September, a decision to stay away until he’s cleared would allow the Giants to activate him as soon as he’s ready to go, circumventing the requisite six-week absence arising from the regular-season NFI list.

These various moving parts suggest that it would make far more sense for the Giants and Pierre-Paul to work cooperatively toward finding a solution, with a clear understanding as to whether the Giants would or wouldn’t pay Pierre-Paul while on NFI being the most important factor in their talks. While the most important factor for Pierre-Paul currently remains getting himself healthy, a complicated situation looms in September, with more than $870,000 on the line, each and every week.

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Harry Douglas: Mariota’s “unbelievable accuracy” will increase yards after catch

Marcus Mariota AP

During the Titans’ offseason program, wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson was impressed by quarterback Marcus Mariota’s “deadly accurate” passing during the team’s practices.

Mariota’s accuracy and overall feel for the offense left Jefferson feeling “giddy” about the future of the offense with Mariota at the controls and he’s not the only one feeling good about the rookie’s ability to put his teammates in position to succeed. Wide receiver Harry Douglas said that Mariota has shown “unbelievable accuracy” that he thinks will lead to bigger gains after the catch for him and his fellow receivers.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” Douglas said, via Paul Kuharsky of “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic — first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”

Kuharsky points out that a high completion percentage and yards after the catch totals don’t always go hand in hand and that they don’t always lead to great offenses when they are linked, as evidenced by Pittsburgh and Washington finishing in the top five of both categories last season. That may be the case, but it’s hard to see the Titans getting any better on offense if they aren’t a more accurate team throwing the ball and that’s obviously going to have almost everything to do with Mariota’s performance.

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Dolphins selling off old Sun Life Stadium seats

Sun Life Stadium construction Getty Images

In case what you were looking for to tie the room together was an brightly colored plastic chair, you’re in luck.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Dolphins are selling old seats from Sun Life Stadium this week, including some autographed by past and present stars.

The seats were removed during this offseason’s renovations, and will be sold to benefit the team’s foundation to support education, health and volunteer work in the region.

Seats are being sold as pairs or singles, with season ticket-holders from the 1960s and 1970s having first priority for the sale that starts at 11 a.m. The general public gets their crack at 2 p.m.

They’re also auctioning off seats signed by players including Don Shula, Bob Griese and Dan Marino, along with Jason Taylor, Mark Duper, Larry Little, Nat Moore and Ryan Tannehill.

Now you just have to convince your wife to let you put this ugly orange chair in the living room, and with their record in recent years, have fun describing it as your lucky seat.

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Patriots, Colts providing the most bang for the buck in NFL

Divisional Playoffs - Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Getty Images

Having a great quarterback on a cheap rookie deal can help build a roster, as well as support the bottom line.

Having a great quarterback who takes less than he could make helps too.

Via Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star, the Patriots and Colts come out winners in a study that showed which teams provided the most wins per dollar spent.

The study by NerdWallet took into account on-field success and how much was spent to get there to determine efficiency. The Patriots topped the list, followed by the NBA Spurs, three baseball teams (the Marlins, Rays and As) and the Colts.

The study looked at the last 15 years, and in 14 of those, the Colts had a franchise quarterback who kept them competitive. The last three years, they’ve had a cheap one in Andrew Luck.

Of course, they’re about to have to spend some money on him, which could change their ranking, and their ability to keep talent around him.

The NBA’s Knicks were last on the list, with the Lions, baseball’s Yankees, and the Browns and Raiders making up the bottom five.

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No signs of progress for Broncos and Demaryius Thomas

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas remains unsigned with just over a week to go before the July 15 deadline for franchise players to reach long-term deals. And there are few signs that the two sides are getting close to a contract.

The Denver Post reports that Thomas wants Calvin Johnson money. That’s just not going to happen. As good as Thomas is, he’s not Calvin Johnson. And even Calvin Johnson isn’t worth Calvin Johnson money: Johnson will cost more than $65 million against the Lions’ cap over the next three years, and the Lions will likely either ask Johnson to take a pay cut or cut him before he plays out his contract.

So if Thomas isn’t worth Calvin Johnson money, what is he worth? According to the report, Thomas feels that it would be hard to take less than $40 million guaranteed, and the Broncos aren’t inclined to give him that.

Which means Thomas and the Broncos probably won’t come to terms, and Thomas will probably play this season on the $12.8 million franchise tag. The question then is whether Thomas will sign the franchise tag this month and report to camp on time, or hold out until the end of the preseason and come into the regular season having done no work in new coach Gary Kubiak’s offense. If it’s the latter, the Broncos will be starting the season with their best offensive playmaker trying to play catch-up.

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Jack Steadman, former Kansas City Chiefs GM, dies at 86

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Jack Steadman, the general manager in charge for the only Super Bowl victory in Kansas City Chiefs history, has died at the age of 86.

The team announced Steadman’s passing on Sunday with a statement from team CEO Clark Hunt.

“My entire family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jack Steadman. Jack was more than a dedicated and talented businessman, but a dear friend to my family. He was one of my father’s greatest business associates and the two of them accomplished much during the more than four decades they worked together. Jack played a key role in the development of the American Football League and was also an influential figure in the success of the Chiefs. During his tenure as General Manager, the team won four championships including Super Bowl IV.

“I had the privilege of knowing Jack my entire life, and he taught me much about both business and life. He always brought a strong, innovative perspective to the room. Jack was an outstanding man of character, who greatly valued his faith and family. While today we are saddened by his passing, his contributions to the Chiefs, the Kansas City community and my family will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Judy, and the entire Steadman family.”

Steadman was a member of the organization from the founding of the franchise in the AFL in 1960 as the Dallas Texans until his retirement in 2007. He also served as the team’s president, vice president and chairman during his 47 years with the organization.

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Florida State dumps DeAndre Johnson

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Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has developed plenty of quarterbacks into NFL prospects. De’Andre Johnson won’t be one of them.

Johnson has been dismissed from the school. The move was announced tonight.

Florida State previously suspended Johnson indefinitely. After Monday’s footage surfaced of Johnson punching a female at a Tallahassee bar, Johnson was kicked out.

Named Florida’s Mr. Football as a senior in Jacksonville, Johnson now will have to look for another school to give him a second chance. But second chances in sports have become far less easy to obtain for men who commit violence against women — especially when the violence is preserved via video.

If no major college gives Johnson a second chance, it becomes easier for the NFL to avoid giving him a first chance. But even if Johnson goes the Randy Moss route, transferring from Florida State to an FCS school, playing right away, and becoming a superstar, Johnson will still have a very hard time getting an NFL team to roll the dice on a guy who punched a member of the opposite sex while a camera was rolling.

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Report: Packers plan to keep Andrew Quarless

Quarless Getty Images

With Packers tight end Andrew Quarless likely headed for leave with pay, the Packers apparently don’t intend to ask him to leave without pay.

Rob Demovsky of, citing two unnamed sources, reports that the Packers have no plans to release Quarless after a July 4 arrest including allegations that he fired a gun twice during a dispute with a car full of females.

Per Demovsky, the gun was legally registered to Quarless. This doesn’t change the fact that Quarless used the gun in an illegal way, allegedly or actually.

The Packers have issued the perfunctory no-comment comment about Quarless, and the NFL has said nothing about the situation.

It’s unclear when Packers G.M. Ted Thompson will say something about the situation, or whether a member of the Green Bay media will appropriately ask him what happens if Quarless fires his gun into the air in Wisconsin and kills someone?

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Rivers hopes PED suspension doesn’t hurt Gates’ reputation

Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers believes Antonio Gates when he says that his four-game suspension was the result of accidentally taking a banned substance.

Rivers says that although he can’t be positive that Gates wouldn’t cheat by taking performance-enhancing drugs, he thinks he knows Gates well enough to know that’s not the kind of person Gates is.

“Can I 100 percent say that? I don’t know that I can, but I feel like our relationship is such that if it was intentional, he would say, ‘I messed up. I’ve been doing this, I made a mistake, I just couldn’t do it anymore the way I was doing it.’ You know what I mean? I feel like he would say that to me. So that’s why I say I know, and that’s the only reason I say it. Could I be wrong? I guess. But I don’t think so. I don’t think so. The trust and relationship and the friendship that we’ve built over 12 years, he’d have no reason to tell me anything but the truth,” Rivers said on The Mighty 1090 AM.

Rivers said Gates told him before the suspension was announced on Thursday. Rivers said he and the Chargers will have a tough time with the loss of their longtime starting tight end.

“I knew it was coming, I had talked to him beforehand. It’s really tough,” Rivers said. “Any time you lose one of the top tight ends to ever play, and one of our best players, for four games, it’s certainly going to have an effect.”

Rivers said he hopes Gates’s reputation isn’t tarnished.

“As a friend you just hate it for him. I feel for him as a friend. I really do,” Rivers said. “You hate it for him because of what perception and what thoughts people are going to have that you can’t really change their minds on. And me, knowing him, the kind of guy he is, I know it was without knowing that he was doing that. He’s first class in every way. So it’s tough knowing that he’s going to have that tied to him in some way and some people will always think something about it.”

Whether or not Gates’s reputation around the NFL has taken a hit, it’s clear that Rivers remains a big believer in his longtime tight end.

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