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Maine’s governor threatens NFL boycott over Ray Rice suspension

LePage AP

Either Maine’s governor moves really slowly, or the Ray Rice suspension really continues to resonate.

According to the Associated Press, Republican Paul LePage sent a “scathing” letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday.  The letter accuses the NFL of sending the message via the two-game Rice suspension that it’s permissible “for professional athletes to beat women, just for the sake of ratings.”

“Taking thugs and wife-beaters off the field may be bad for business, but you are playing games with people’s lives,” LePage wrote, threatening a boycott of the league.

Per the AP, LePage argued last week in a radio interview that Rice should have been suspended for three years.  LePage also believes that the Ravens should have responded to his violence with violence of their own.

“As a matter of fact, the team should have taken him out in the back shed and taken care of him,” LePage said.

While few will disagree with the idea that the two-game suspension was too light, no one has suggested that a multi-year suspension or a visit to the woodshed would have been appropriate.

But LePage currently faces a three-way re-election battle involving both a Democratic candidate and an independent.  He apparently believes that three-year suspensions and/or punishment inflicted via woodsheds will motivate the base and/or appeal to the fence-sitters.Regardless, it would be hard to accuse LePage of being rash with his irrational positions, given that he sent his letter nearly a month after the suspension was imposed.

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Tom Brady knows how to build a relationship with centers

Tom Brady, LeSean McCoy AP

At the moment, Tom Brady’s not sure who his center’s going to be, with Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell competing for the job.

But whichever one ends up in front of Brady will have a familiar feel.

Brady nearly broke the 10-year-old humor scale when discussing the chemistry he’s built with the two.

“I’ve got confidence in those guys,” Brady said, via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I love both Dan and Wendy. I love those guys. They work so hard. The center-quarterback relationship is a pretty special one. I’ve got my hands on their butts probably more than their wives, so it’s a pretty unique trust and relationship you have.”

There have been no immediate responses from the wives, but we’ll keep you posted.

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Cowboys won’t discipline B.W. Webb for practice altercation

B.W. Webb AP

The routine training camp scuffle took a different turn at the joint practice between the Cowboys and Raiders on Tuesday when an on-field scrap wandered close enough to fans that one of them took a swing at Cowboys cornerback B.W. Webb with a helmet.

Webb took a retaliatory shot toward the fan and others finally intervened to cool things down before anything else happened. On Wednesday, coach Jason Garrett said that the team would not discipline Webb for making an advance toward the fan and that he hasn’t heard anything about the league imposing discipline of their own.

Despite the issue with the helmet swinging, Garrett sounded pleased with the practice. He called it “as electric an atmosphere” as he’s ever seen for a training camp and said that he wasn’t upset by the way the team reacted when the fracas broke out after a tackle by cornerback Morris Claiborne during a drill.

“At some point you have to as a player defend your teammate, get yourself in there and make sure he’s going to be OK,” Garrett said, via the Dallas Morning News. “Always have your guy’s back. That’s an important part of building a football team. At the same time poise in that situation is important. I felt we demonstrated both and you kind of move on.”

There would have been no question about discipline for Webb or anyone else if not for the fan’s decision to interject himself into the proceedings and more thought should go into securing the practice area in the future to make sure no such questions need to be asked again.

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Mike Zimmer likes Teddy Bridgewater’s confidence

Teddy Bridgewater AP

Teddy Bridgewater followed up a so-so performance in the preseason opener with a so-bad effort in practice.

But the Vikings are encouraged by the chances he’s taking, even if they end up in the hands of the defense.

Mike Zimmer obviously will change his tune about turnovers come the regular season, but said he wasn’t necessarily bothered by a three-interception day.

Obviously we don’t want to throw interceptions in the red zone,” Zimmer said, via Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “That’s one of our core goals. But it happens. You know, like the DBs, I would always tell them that sometimes you’ve got to get beat in practice to find out how tight you can play them. If you never get beat in practice, you’re probably playing too far off of a guy. If you’re going to get beat, let’s get beat in practice. Let’s learn from what we do out here. And I think that is for everything position. This is where we learn.”

Coupled with a 6-of-13 passing night in the preseason game, Bridgewater’s had better weeks. But his coach said he’s not worried about confidence.

“His confidence is not shaken,” Zimmer said. “He’s fine.”

If he can push through some of his rookie jitters quickly, it would help. The Vikings seem content with starting Matt Cassel until Bridgewater’s ready, but the sooner that happens, the sooner they can make some real progress.

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Jason Garrett: I see DeMarco Murray as leader of running back committee

T.J. McDonald, DeMarco Murray AP

The Cowboys got career highs in games, rushing yards, catches and touchdowns from running back DeMarco Murray in 2013, an effort that fulfilled the flashes of promise that he showed between injuries in his first two seasons.

While Murray showed he was able to handle a larger workload, he still missed a pair of games because of injury and it doesn’t sound like the Cowboys are going to press their luck by working Murray even harder this season. Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reports that Garrett said that he views Murray as “the leader of a committee” in the backfield, although he adds that Murray definitely has “bell cow” traits as a runner.

There’s been a lot of buzz out of Cowboys camp about Lance Dunbar, who appears to be set as Murray’s No. 2 heading into the season after Garrett made him a healthy scratch for the preseason opener because they want to be “selective” about using key players in the preseason. If Dunbar fulfills the hype, he and Murray would make for a strong duo for the Cowboys to match with their strong passing game.

Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams are also possibilities for the committee, depending on how many members Garrett decides to appoint.

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PFT on NBCSN looks at Jets, Jags, Panthers

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With only 22 days until the 2014 regular season begins, we’ve increased our daily load of training-camp storylines and previews to three.

On today’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, the Jets, Jaguars, and Panthers get the deep-dive treatment.

So join Hines Ward, Ross Tucker, and Russ Thaler in Stamford and yours truly in West Virginia for the one-hour program that ends with the unveiling of the answer to today’s poll question regarding the health, or lack thereof, of various starting quarterbacks.

And then tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday and every weekday.

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Jon Beason’s recovery from toe injury “coming along”

New York Giants v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Giants linebacker Jon Beason wants to play in the team’s season opener, but the foot injury that has kept him out of action since the spring has not recovered enough for him to start practicing with the team.

Beason says that things are “coming along” in his recovery and he spends part of each day running in place of the practice sessions that occupy the time for his teammates. Beason hopes that the slow process leads to the strength he needs to join the team for the game against the Lions on September 8.

“You try to get out there and tax it a little bit, see how it feels, and then everything is based on gauging it the next day,” Beason said, via “Is it really sore? Is it just a little bit sore? And then if you can have consistent days, then you know you’re kind of building up a tolerance. So that’s usually the process in any rehab. Toes are a little iffy, because it doesn’t take much pain to have irritated feet, makes it hard to change direction, especially as a defensive player where you have to do a lot of reacting.”

Beason pointed out that the Giants play on Monday night in their opening game, which may be a reference to having a little more time to get healthy. The difference of 30 or so hours probably won’t sway the outcome nearly as much as what Beason is able to do in the intervening weeks to prove to the Giants that he’s sound enough to reclaim the middle of the defense.

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Marshawn Lynch may be ready to go for Seahawks this week

Seahawks Camp Football AP

Marshawn Lynch was late to training camp, and then was distracted by an investigation the team called “bogus.”

But he may  get his first shot at actual football this week.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on KJR-AM (via the Seattle Times), that Lynch might play friday night against the Chargers.

You may see a little bit of Marshawn in this game,” Carroll said. “We”ll see how this week wraps up.”

Lynch didn’t even make the trip to Denver last week after his delayed arrival.

Carroll also said left tackle Russell Okung wasn’t ready to play despite practicing this week, while center Max Unger and left guard James Carpenter would return to action. He also added that “you’ll see a little bit more out of” wide receiver Percy Harvin, after this week’s ankle scare.

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Jaguars sign center/guard Antoine Caldwell

Houston Texans v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Jaguars have added an experienced interior lineman who can play center and guard.

The club has reached a deal with former Texans and Bills offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell, the club’s website said Wednesday. In a corresponding roster move, the club waived center Matt Stankiewitch with an “injured” designation, per

The 28-year-old Caldwell has primarily played offensive guard in the pros, but he was a 34-game starter at center at the University of Alabama, and the Jaguars are listing him as a center.

Caldwell (6-3, 315) played 39 regular season games with the Texans (19 starts) from 2009 through 2012. He spent the 2013 preseason with the Bills before being released in late August.

Caldwell tried out at the Jaguars’ 2014 rookie minicamp but was not signed, according to the club’s website.

The Jaguars have all 90 roster spots filled.

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Brady keeps praising LaFell

Weatherford AP

When Patriots quarterback Tom Brady last praised new receiver Brandon LaFell, Brady distinguished LaFell from “little pygmies” like Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.

This time around, Brady found a way to talk up LaFell without throwing stones at guys who could easily duck them.

“I’ve really enjoyed being with him,” Brady told reporters regarding LaFell.  “He’s added a lot.  He’s got a real love for the game, and he does a great job out there getting open.  He just keeps making more plays.  It’s really fun for a quarterback to see guys out there really working hard to make the improvements and then really do it, and hopefully it continues to carry over.  It’s been a lot of fun to be with him.”

Then came the praise for the guys Brady slighted the last time around.

“And Julian [Edelman] and Danny [Amendola] — [it’s the] same thing,” Brady said.  “[Kebrell Thompkins] has been making a bunch of plays.  All those guys who have been out there are great. The offensive line keeps building, and they’re really the strength of our team. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our group, but we’ve just got to go out and keep doing it, keep making improvements and learn from our mistakes, and then go out and execute when it matters.”

For the Patriots, it matters most when the playoffs come along.  By then, we’ll know a lot more about whether Brady’s weapons are getting it done.

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Colts expect LaRon Landry, Vontae Davis in lineup against Giants

LaRon Landry AP

The Colts broke training camp on Wednesday with two bits of good news about their secondary.

Coach Chuck Pagano said that the team expects to have cornerback Vontae Davis and safety LaRon Landry in the lineup when they face the Giants on Saturday night. Both players have been bothered by groin injuries that kept them from practicing in the spring and early in camp and neither one played against the Jets in last week’s preseason opener, but it seems their time has come.

“It looks like [Davis] and LaRon are going to get some playing time on Saturday, which is a great thing,” Pagano said, via the Indianapolis Star. “How many reps that is, I don’t know.”

With Davis and Landry back in the lineup, the Colts will be pretty close to starting their expected lineup for the first week of the regular season. They still need to settle on a safety next to Landry and their first 11 won’t include linebacker Robert Mathis until Mathis has served his four-game suspension to open up the year.

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Hernandez cousin avoids jail time on contempt charge

Singleton AP

Tanya Singleton won’t be going back to jail.

The cousin of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez refused to testify before a grand jury investigating the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.  She pleaded guilty to criminal contempt for failing to cooperate even though she had been granted immunity from potential prosecution.

Due to a cancer diagnosis, she’ll spend a year on house arrest and another year on probation.

“Miss Singleton’s willful conduct constitutes an assault on the rule of law and the effective administration of criminal justice,” Judge Susan Garsh said, via the Boston Globe. “Miss Singleton’s health is the only reason she is not being placed in jail.”

Prosecutors accused Singelton, who already spent 196 days behind bars while the Lloyd grand jury was in session, of having a “perverted her sense of loyalty” and an “utter disdain” for the legal process, via the Associated Press.  Prosecutor William McCauley said that Singleton put Hernandez above her own children, who were four and seven at the time she was initially jailed.

Judge Garsh denied a request from the mother of Odin Lloyd to make an impact statement during the hearing, concluding that Ursula Ward was not a direct victim of the crime.  Ward spoke to reporters after the hearing.

“What would you do or say to help the other family heal with the truth?” Ward said.  “My baby was my only son, my first born   My baby’s gone without me saying goodbye.”

That makes Lloyd’s family a direct victim of Singleton’s affront on the justice system.  Singleton knows something about what happened to Lloyd, and Singleton has refused to share information that could help Ward and the rest of Lloyd’s family obtain closure.  It also strongly suggests that the information would implicate, not exonerate, her cousin.

If Hernandez had any loyalty to Singleton, he would have insisted both privately and publicly that she tell the truth, without fear of the potential consequences.  Instead, he has allowed her to suffer behind bars and to spend what may be the final months of her life confined to her home.

While it’s still not proven that Hernandez killed anyone, what he has done to Singleton by not unequivocally and unconditionally giving her blanket permission to cooperate with the justice system is criminal in the moral sense.  Especially since there’s a chance her silence doesn’t come from a “perverted sense of loyalty” but from a very rational fear of retaliation.

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PFT Live 08/13: Peyton Manning, PFT Planet

Mike Florio chats with Denver Broncos Quarterback, Peyton Manning about his goals this season, Montee Ball, and his “ability” to rap. Then, Florio takes calls and tweets from NFL fans.





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Michael Oher is tired of getting disrespected

michaeloher AP

Titans offensive tackle Michael Oher says his critics don’t know what they’re talking about, and he’s sick of it.

Asked about speculation that Oher might end up on the bench behind rookie first-round draft pick Taylor Lewan, Oher said he hasn’t heard it. And then he proceeded to indicate that he has heard it, and he doesn’t appreciate it.

“I don’t know anything about any speculation because I know what type of player I am,” Oher told the Tennessean. “I’m kind of tired of getting disrespected by a lot of people who don’t know anything about the work I put in and how hard I work, and the love and passion I have for this game.”

It was surprising that the Titans drafted Lewan so soon after signing Oher to a four-year, $20 million contract, and the presence of Lewan on the roster has led to plenty of talk that Oher may be gone well before those four years are done. But for now, Lewan is backing up Michael Roos at left tackle, and Oher is manning the right side. And Oher doesn’t want to hear anything different.

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Steelers sign RB Stephen Houston

New England Patriots Rookie Minicamp Getty Images

The Steelers have filled one of their open roster spots, signing rookie tailback Stephen Houston, according to Bob Labriola of the club’s website.

Houston (6-0, 225) was waived by the Patriots on Monday. He played four snaps on offense in New England’s preseason opener on Thursday, losing a fumble early in the fourth quarter.

The 22-year-old Houston played three seasons for Indiana, racking up 2,304 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground and adding 658 yards receiving and four TDs for the Hoosiers.

The Steelers now have eight tailbacks, including Dri Archer, who is also listed as a wide receiver. They have one open roster spot.

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Jeremy Maclin cuts practice short after hamstring tweak

Jeremy Maclin AP

The Eagles and Patriots are practicing with each other this week, a setting that offers wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to try out his knee against cornerback Darrelle Revis.

That test seemed to go well for Maclin. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Maclin drew three holding penalties on Revis during Tuesday’s practice and added that Maclin continued “to toast” Revis during Wednesday’s session. Even with the caveat that Revis is not be giving every ounce of himself during the workouts, that’s a positive sign for a player coming off a serious injury.

Less positive is the fact that Maclin pulled himself out of practice early on Wednesday. He said after the session was over that it was a left hamstring tweak that caused him to sit out the remainder of practice, but that he still hopes to play in Friday’s preseason game. McLane also reports that Maclin was icing his right knee, the same one with the torn ACL, although that appears to be a precautionary measure.

If he does play this week, he’ll likely get a chance to face a more spirited Revis and another measurement of how far he’s come in his recovery.

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Ben McAdoo: Giants need to take “leap of faith” with new offense

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The Giants’ starting offense didn’t complete a pass during their preseason game against the Steelers and didn’t make any big plays through the air in their preseason opener either, leading to some concerns that the new offense installed by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo won’t overcome last year’s offensive doldrums.

The team doesn’t see things that way. To McAdoo, coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, it’s a matter of trusting the offense and having confidence in what you’re doing within it.

“We need to take that leap of faith,” McAdoo said, via the New York Post. “We need to play fast, we need to trust our instincts. It’s a game of anticipation and [you have to] believe in your teammates. If you don’t do that, we’re not going to grow. You can’t be afraid to make mistakes.”

Coughlin and Manning shared similar takes on the need to trust the offense before things can really take off on that side of the ball.

Trust can be tough to find when a team makes as many changes as the Giants made this offseason, especially when they’ve also been playing without players like Odell Beckham, David Wilson and Chris Snee that were expected to have some role this season. That said, the Giants don’t have much choice other than taking that leap of faith because anything less will mean a tentative, ineffective offense that certainly won’t move beyond last season. They’re just going to have to hope that McAdoo’s work this summer leads to an offense that will break their fall.

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49ers sign LB Kion Wilson

San Diego Chargers 2011 Headshots Getty Images

The 49ers made a change to their depth chart at inside linebacker on Wednesday, announcing the signing of ex-Steeler Kion Wilson and the placement of Blake Costanzo on injured reserve.

A third-year pro from South Florida, the 27-year-old Wilson figures to play a similar role to Costanzo, contributing on special teams while trying to earn a reserve role on defense.

The 6-foot-1, 239-pound Wilson appeared in seven games for the Steelers in 2013, starting two games in September before becoming a backup. He has also had stints with the Chargers (2010) and Panthers (2011). Wilson has played in 15 regular season games since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent with San Diego four years ago.

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Jaguars holding firm on holding the reins back on Blake Bortles

Chad Henne, Blake Bortles AP

Chad Henne knows as well as anyone that Blake Bortles “is the future, I understand that.”

But that hasn’t put the Jaguars in any hurry to push him out there in the near future.

Jaguars coach reiterated to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports and Bill Polian on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Henne is still their starter looking to the regular season opener, a position which hasn’t wavered despite a strong first showing from the first-round pick.

“Chad has done a nice job,” Bradley said. “I know that Chad has a body of work that he can really rely on. We’ve seen really good progress as far as his mentality and mindset from OTAs. We think that coupled with his experience and the way he’s performed to this point really puts him in that position.

“Blake has done some good things, but he’s missing kind of that body of work. We’re in the process of building that.”

General Manager Dave Caldwell took over a team which burned a first-rounder on a quarterback who wasn’t ready and never developed (Blaine Gabbert), so he’s in no hurry to rush Bortles out there.

“He was a junior and he didn’t come out in the most conventional pro-style offense [at Central Florida],” Caldwell said. “There are a lot of nuances with the quarterback position that it’s going to take him a little while before we can really hone in those skills to where they’re second nature for him.”

If Bortles continues to light it up in the preseason and Henne continues to be Henne, it will get harder and harder for the Jaguars to resist the pressure to play the kid.

But to their credit, they’ve held firm so far, willing to take the long road to stability at the position.

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PFT Live: Peyton Manning, PFT Planet calls and tweets

Peyton Manning AP

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is entering his 17th NFL season and we’ll find out what’s on his mind during Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live.

Manning will join Mike Florio to discuss the work that the Broncos are doing at training camp to prepare themselves for a run at another AFC West title and AFC championship. They’ll also talk about what the Broncos need to do to take the final step they weren’t able to take at the Super Bowl last season, which should bring some discussion of the changes to the defense on Denver this offseason.

We’ll then find out what PFT Planet is thinking about as we inch ever closer to the start of the 2014 season. Florio will answer your questions, so send them in on Twitter — @ProFootballTalk — or give a call to 888-237-5269 during the show to share your thoughts.

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

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