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Chip Kelly on LeSean McCoy: Hopefully he thinks last year was scratching the surface

LeSean McCoy, Chip Kelly AP

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said recently that he’s set a goal of rushing for 2,000 yards this season, which would make him the eighth runner in league history to reach that milestone.

Coach Chip Kelly said Wednesday that he doesn’t care about McCoy’s individual goals because his interest is in winning football games over personal accomplishments. Kelly said he thought McCoy feels the same way, but none of that means Kelly isn’t interested in what McCoy does personally this season. The opposite is probably more accurate as Kelly said he’s pushing for McCoy to be even better in 2014 than he was last season.

“He can do everything better.  I know we get that question about all the guys and I get the same question all the time but until someone plays a perfect game, I think that’s what we are all striving for,” Kelly said during his press conference. “But he can do a better job in pass protection, he can do a better job in short yardage situations, he can do a better job in eliminating negative plays where maybe the hole is not exactly there but second and nine is better than second and 14 where all of a sudden every play he’s trying to run has to be a home run. I think we are seeing that.  … I don’t think he’s complacent or happy in terms of where he is.  Hopefully he thinks that last year was just him scratching the surface in terms of what his potential can be.”

If Kelly’s right about McCoy having room for improvement, a 2,000-yard season might not be that crazy an idea. The Eagles have an offense that will get him plenty of touches and a good offensive line, both of which should keep McCoy as one of the more prolific offensive players in the league. The good news is for the Eagles is that McCoy’s contributions should give them a lot to work with even if he fails to reach such a gaudy level.

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Report: Raiders ramp up efforts to relocate

Davis Getty Images

Whether it’s San Antonio or somewhere else, the Raiders seem to be serious about moving the franchise to a place other than Oakland.

Via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, owner Mark Davis “is stepping up his efforts” to find a new stadium in a new city, as talks to keep the team in its current town languish.

Tafur also reports that Davis apparently has the NFL’s support.  Of course, the destination ultimately selected by Davis will determine whether 23 other owners approve a move.

Davis and the Raiders have a one-year lease at O.Co Coliseum.  Per Tafur, Davis hasn’t requested an extension, and he doesn’t plan to do so.

Despite opposition from the Spurs and expected resistance from the Cowboys and Texans, San Antonio remains a viable option.

“It was a serious conversation,” Davis told Tafur regarding last month’s meetings in Texas.  “I don’t waste my time just having meetings.  But we continue to try to get something done in Oakland.”

Tafur raises an intriguing possibility regarding a potential return by the Raiders to Los Angeles.  With influential Cowboys owner Jerry Jones surely hoping to keep the Raiders out of San Antonio, Jones could be helping Davis get the appropriate blessings to take the team back to Los Angeles.

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Report: Texans won’t be trading for Brian Hoyer

obrien_patriots AP

The Texans went through the offseason without adding a starting quarterback.

The Browns had one, and drafted another.

But those dots apparently do not connect.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans “won’t be trading for” Browns starter-for-now Brian Hoyer.

It makes sense at a certain level, given Hoyer’s New England ties with Texans coach Bill O’Brien, and the utter lack of anything else at the position on the Texans roster at the moment.

But the Browns have maintained that Johnny Manziel’s going to have to earn the starting job away from Hoyer, and after one preseason game, it’s hard to declare that mission accomplished.

Hoyer was a temp from the moment the Browns chose Manziel, but there’s no reason for them to punt him now.

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Raiders believe tight end Nick Kasa tore his ACL

Oakland Raiders Rookie Camp Getty Images

The Raiders are looking a little thin at tight end right now.

David Ausberry has been out since early August after having a procedure on his knee and coach Dennis Allen announced the loss of another player at the position on Wednesday. Allen said that preliminary tests show that Nick Kasa tore his ACL during Tuesday’s joint practice with the Cowboys. The injuries leave the Raiders with Mychal Rivera and not much else at tight end, which may necessitate a roster move.

“That’s something we have to look at,  to see if we can add someone to the roster,” Allen said via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com.

Kasa played all 16 games for the Raiders last season, though much of his work came on special teams. He had one catch for 14 yards and a touchdown, but is probably best known for being asked if he liked girls before the 2013 combine.

There’s been no timetable laid out by the team for Ausberry’s return, but Bair reports that he isn’t expected to be out for the long term if his recovery goes well.

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Titans sign some cover for players injured in preseason opener

Steve Vallos AP

The Titans suffered some injuries to regulars in the preseason opener, so they brought in some guys with experience to get them through the next few weeks of preseason.

According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean, the Titans signed veteran center Steve Vallos and linebacker Kendrick Adams. To make the room, they waived linebacker David Gilbert and offensive lineman Viondy Merisma.

Vallos played in 15 games last year with the Broncos, and has also played for the Eagles, Jaguars, Browns and Seahawks.

Adams entered the league with the Jaguars, and is a practice-squad veteran of the Buccaneers, Lions, Bengals and Giants.

With center Chris Spencer and linebacker Colin McCarthy in Saturday’s game, the Titans needed some short-term cover. McCarthy’s likely out for the year with a shoulder injury though he’s getting a second opinion.

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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

NBCUniversal Logos

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 ESPNNewYork.com. “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 Jaguars.com.

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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