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Manti Te’o out at least a week with sprained foot

AP

In the preseason before his rookie year, Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o sprained his right foot against the Seahawks and wound up missing five weeks while he recovered.

The Chargers played the Seahawks again on Friday night and Te’o again left the game with a sprained foot. It’s the left one this time and Chargers coach Mike McCoy said that Te’o is expected to miss at least a week, including the team’s third preseason game, before he’ll be well enough to return to the lineup.

“It’s not the same foot, it’s not the same injury — it’s something completely different,” McCoy said, via U-T San Diego.

Te’o had surgery on his left foot early in the offseason and has spent the summer trying to work himself into a three down role on the Chargers defense. If he’s only out a week, there shouldn’t be much cost to that effort. Kavell Conner and Reggie Walker are the likeliest replacements for Te’o in the starting lineup.

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Will Dez Bryant return to 2014 form in an offense featuring Ezekiel Elliott?

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Dez Bryant has never ranked higher than seventh in targets. That came in 2013. In his All-Pro season of 2014, Bryant ranked only 12th in targets with 136 but made 88 catches for 1,320 yards and a league-best 16 touchdowns.

Bryant has battled injuries the past two seasons, missing 10 total games. His combined catches (81), yards (1,197) and touchdowns (11) combined in 2015-16 don’t equal his output in 2014.

Can Bryant get back to his 2014 level in an offense that attempted only 38 passes that traveled 20 or more yards through the air last season, that drafted another slot receiver in Ryan Switzer and that plans to make running back Ezekiel Elliott an even bigger part of the offense this season?

“We’re just going to see what happens,” Bryant said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Like I said, I feel good. Also what a lot of these people have to understand, hey, man, we’re not a pass friendly offense. That’s no disrespect. I respect what we do around here, and I accepted that. But when that ball comes my way, I’m going to do what I’ve got to do.

“I sit here and say, ‘I don’t think nobody has been more productive with the amount of targets that I get.’ I don’t get as many, and I’m not complaining. At the same time, if I was getting that many passes, I’d be doing that much damage [as other feature receivers] too.”

This stands as an important year for Bryant, 28. He enters the third year of a five-year, $70 million deal with a $17 million cap hit this year and $16.5 million each of the next two seasons. The Cowboys need a healthy Bryant to show them he remains among the best at his position.

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Raiders release Taiwan Jones

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The Raiders won’t be bringing Taiwan Jones with them to training camp this year.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Raiders are releasing the six-year veteran ahead of their first camp practice this Saturday.

Jones was drafted by the Raiders as a running back in 2011, but they moved him to cornerback a couple of years later before reversing the switch when Jack Del Rio became the head coach ahead of the 2015 season. Regardless of his listed position, Jones saw the great majority of his playing time on special teams.

Jones both covered and returned kicks over his time with the Raiders and that would figure to be his path toward playing time if he finds another home for the 2017 season.

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John Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick: What’s his priority?

AP

As the Ravens consider signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick, coach John Harbaugh hinted today that they want to know whether Kaepernick is all-in on football.

Harbaugh said he wants to find out what Kaepernick’s passion and priority is, suggesting perhaps that the team wonders if Kaepernick is more interested in his social justice work than in living and breathing football.

“He’s a really good football player and I believe he’s a really good person,” Harbaugh said of Kaepernick. “It all depends on a lot of things. It depends on Colin, first of all, what he wants to do. What’s his passion? What’s his priority? What’s he want to do? What kind of shape he’s in, and if he’s ready to go, then our needs. So we’ll kind of see where it goes. I don’t think that’s different for us than any other team. We’re definitely going to get another arm in here. But he’s not an arm, obviously. He’s an accomplished football player and we always like having good football players around.”

Kaepernick played for Harbaugh’s brother Jim in San Francisco, and Jim Harbaugh has vouched for Kaepernick many times. So if John Harbaugh wants to know about Kaepernick’s passion for football, his brother would be a good reference — unless Harbaugh suspects Kaepernick once made football his priority but now has other priorities.

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Cam Newton on running less often: Do you ask a lion not to roar?

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The selection of running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel in the first two rounds of this year’s draft led to a lot of offseason discussion about the Panthers’ offensive plans for the 2017 season.

A lot of that discussion focused on getting the ball out of quarterback Cam Newton’s hands more quickly than in past years, which would allow receivers a chance to make plays after the catch as well as allow Newton to avoid some of the hits that lead to injury issues. The latter point has also been part of talk about Newton running the ball less often, although the quarterback didn’t sound like he’s planning any major changes on that front when asked about it on Thursday.

“That’s my edge,” Newton said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “You going to expect a lion not to roar?”

Adding shorter passes and less predictability to the offensive menu would seem to be a step in the right direction for the Panthers offense, but any gains there could be mitigated by taking away something that Newton has done very successfully during his career. As Newton said, his running ability gives him an edge that can be exploited to the team’s benefit so it’s likely to remain a central part of the offensive picture in Carolina.

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Titans sign Erik Walden

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The Titans have beefed up their pass rush as training camps open.

Outside linebacker Erik Walden is signing with Tennessee, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

The 31-year-old Walden is coming off his best career season, having started all 16 games and recorded 11 sacks last year in Indianapolis. A 2008 sixth-round pick of the Cowboys, Walden has also played for the Chiefs, Dolphins and Packers.

Walden was one of the few remaining free agents around the NFL who has the potential to make a significant impact on the field this season. The Titans hope they just made their defense better.

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NFL has generated plenty of embarrassing moments

In an effort to make PFT Live interactive (and in an effort to fill the full three hours), we try to come up with a question of the day.

And by “we” I mean someone other than me who, as Barstool Big Cat learned earlier this week, does all the heavy lifting while I just staple my toupee in place, show up, and talk.

For Wednesday, Rob “Stats” Guerrera had a good idea. (For a change.) Inspired by the Lucky Whitehead situation, which clearly was embarrassing for the Cowboys, what was the most embarrassing moment in NFL history?

The response was overwhelming, both on Twitter and in the comments. Here’s a list of the best.

The Fail Mary.

The Butt Fumble.

The Colts Fake Punt Debacle.

Dan Orlovsky’s Extended Run Out of the End Zone.

Odell vs. The Kicking Net.

Gus Frerotte vs. The Wall.

Leon Lett vs. Common Sense I.

Leon Lett vs. Common Sense II.

Tony Romo vs. The Field Goal Snap.

Jim Marshall’s Wrong-Way Run.

Najeh Davenport’s Hamper Dump.

The Elvis Dumervil Fax Machine Faux Pas.

The Super Bowl XLVII Power Outage.

The Vikings Screw Up The Draft I.

The Vikings Screw Up The Draft II.

The Love Boat.

The Hall of Fame Game Cancellation.

The Super Bowl XLV Seating Debacle.

Thanks to everyone who responded, and who listens to or watches the show. We hope you enjoy it at least 10 percent as much as we do.

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Teddy Bridgewater: I’m in it for the long haul

AP

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater met with the media on Thursday for the first time since suffering the knee injury that kept him from playing at all last season and said that he thought spending the last year rehabbing has made him a better person.

Bridgewater said that the injury made him more “appreciative” of the things he has in life because he’s seen how quickly things you love can be taken away. Bridgewater said he’s “learning my body all over again” now that he’s been able to get on the field to take snaps and make throws, something he called a “constant grind” that he makes it through by drawing inspiration from his mother’s battle with breast cancer.

“You have days when you don’t see the progress, but it’s a long process,” Bridgewater said. “I’m in it for the long haul. I want to be the best version of Teddy I can be.”

Bridgewater said that the injury hasn’t changed his goals as a football player and that he hasn’t had any doctors tell him that he won’t be able to resume playing again. He doesn’t know when that will be, but said it will be a significant milestone when he’s ready to face a live defense again.

“That first initial hit or contact will tell me I can do this,” Bridgewater said. “If I can do it one time, I can do it forever.”

The uncertain time line explains why Bridgewater said he isn’t spending time worrying about the fact that the Vikings didn’t exercise their option on his contract for the 2018 season as there’s not much point thinking about contracts until he’s all the way back into action. The biggest message Bridgewater sent on Thursday is that he has little doubt that day will come.

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Jarvis Landry didn’t want his contract hindering the team

AP

The Dolphins and receiver Jarvis Landry are not yet negotiating a new contract. That hasn’t affected Landry’s willingness to report for duty.

“No, there was not,” Landry told reporters when asked whether there was any question as to whether he’d show up for the first day of training camp practice.

“Like I said, for me, being a leader and having an opportunity to take another step, we don’t need anything hindering us off that path,” Landry said. “So for me to be here and to show the guys that it is about them and it’s about the team, that’s what I’m here to do.”

That’s great news for the Dolphins, but it doesn’t change the fact that, absent a contract extension before the end of the season, they’ll have to decide between paying him, letting him his the open market, or using the franchise tag.

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Bengals credit Vontaze Burfict for losing weight this offseason

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Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is coming off his first healthy offseason in three years, and he made the most of his ability to work out in the spring.

The Bengals’ coaches asked Burfict to report to camp slimmed down and in better shape, and he’s drawing praise because for doing exactly that. Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Burfict has gone from the 260s to the 240s and looks better as a result.

“He’s probably in the high 240s. He’s played at 260, 265. He’s moving good,” Guenther said, via Katherine Terrell of ESPN. “I told him it’ll add three years to your career if you stay at that level. He can be just as physical at 245, 250 as he can be at 265.”

Burfict is heading into the last year of his contract and will make a $3.75 million salary this year, after collecting a $200,000 workout bonus for the offseason. Up next, he hopes, is a big 2017 that makes him a prized free agent in 2018.

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Mike Pouncey emotional talking about “brother” Aaron Hernandez

AP

Not everyone had sympathy when Aaron Hernandez’s life ended by suicide in his jail cell.

But Dolphins center Mike Pouncey has never been shy about his feelings for his friend and former college teammate, and became emotional Thursday when discussing the former Patriots tight end who was serving a life sentence for murder at the time.

“It was tough,” Pouncey said, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “Obviously, I don’t condone any of the things that he was accused of, but just to have a friend I was so close with, that I felt like was my brother and I know that he felt the same way, it’s tough. It’s tough for anyone to have a loss in their family, but that one right there hit my and my brother really hard.”

Hernandez wasn’t simply accused, he was convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd, though he had just been acquitted in a separate double-murder trial days before his death. Pouncey said the last time he talked to Hernandez, his friend was in “great spirits.”

“Just, you know, about the case that he had just won,” Pouncey said. “He was excited, ready to fight the first one again. Just a lot of different stuff. Happy for him.

“It was just tough, man. . . . We’re still shocked to this day that we’re even at this point.”

As difficult as it is for some to imagine, it’s evident that Pouncey never backed away from his friend, when many did all they could to distance themselves from Hernandez.

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John Harbaugh: Ravens will add a QB, maybe Kaepernick

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Of all the teams that could be a match for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the Ravens make the most sense. The brother of their head coach, John Harbaugh, coached Kaepernick in San Francisco, and still raves about him. Their Senior Offensive Assistant (and possible offensive coordinator in waiting), Greg Roman, served as offensive coordinator in San Francisco when Kaepernick played as well as ever.

And the Ravens could indeed sign him.

Via multiple Twitter accounts of reporters at practice, Harbaugh said the Ravens plan to add a quarterback, and he didn’t rule out Kaepernick.

Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun notes that Harbaugh said it all “depends on what Kaepernick wants to do.” Harbaugh also said that the Ravens have been talking to Kaepernick throughout the summer.

This suggests that the outcome hinges on whether Kaepernick would take whatever money the Ravens have budgeted for the position. If he does, he’ll have a job. And a chance to supplant Ryan Mallet as the No. 2 guy on the roster. And an opportunity to be in position to play if Joe Flacco’s back injury is something more than a minor inconvenience.

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Owa Odighizuwa at Giants training camp

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Giants defensive end Owa Odighizuwa created some uncertainty about his football future this offseason when he announced he needed some time away from the game in April before showing up for some of the team’s offseason workouts.

Odighizuwa did not take part in the team’s minicamp in June after being excused for personal reasons, which created more doubt about what he was going to do during the 2017 season. Odighizuwa apparently wants to play.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo said on Thursday that Odighizuwa reported to training camp and will presumably be trying to hold onto his role as a backup on the defensive line. He played in 14 games last season and saw 169 snaps on defense. Romeo Okwara, Devin Taylor, Kerry Wynn and fifth-round pick Avery Moss are also vying for roles behind Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon.

McAdoo said all players on the roster reported for camp, although running back Shaun Draughn and cornerback Valentino Blake are not practicing after being placed on the physically unable to perform list.

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Patriots sign two with training camp underway

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The Patriots have added a couple of players to their 90-man roster with training camp underway in Foxborough.

The team announced that they have signed wide receiver Tony Washington and defensive end Caleb Kidder. They had open roster spots so did not need to make any corresponding moves to create space for the new arrivals.

Washington arrives after veteran wideout Andrew Hawkins announced his retirement this week. Washington played in six games for the Jaguars over the last two seasons and caught one pass for nine yards. The path to the final roster for Washington is an uphill one, but he’ll get a chance to put some play on film in the preseason if the Patriots don’t churn the roster again before games get underway.

Kidder signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in May, but was dropped by the team in June. He had 14 sacks during his college career at the University of Montana.

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RGIII workout may have helped Chargers land Cardale Jones

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When word emerged of the Chargers working out quarterback Robert Griffin III, the motivation for it wasn’t clear. When someone with the Chargers leaked to ESPN that Griffin looked good, the motivation for it wasn’t clear. When the Chargers didn’t sign Griffin after such a supposedly good workout, the motivation for it wasn’t clear.

On Wednesday, it all became clear when the Chargers traded for quarterback Cardale Jones.

Griffin was the leverage for the Chargers in their talks with the Bills. Bringing Griffin in for a workout and leaking a positive review to ESPN made it clear to Buffalo that the Chargers had an alternative, in the event that Buffalo tried to put a thumb on the scale and get more from a guy who probably was on the way out if there hadn’t been a trade.

So why would Griffin allow himself to be used in this way? He likely didn’t know that the Chargers were trying to get Jones from the Bills. Even if Griffin had known what was happening, the workout knocked the dust off his name for the first time in months, reminding all other teams that he still exists.

Thus, it was a win-win-win. The Chargers got a quarterback they want, the Bills got rid of one they didn’t want, and Griffin got his name in circulation.

And maybe the Bills will be interested in giving Griffin his next workout. Right before they trade for someone else.

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Devontae Booker having surgery Friday, Broncos expect him for Week One

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Broncos running back Devontae Booker is set to miss time due to a wrist injury, but the team does not currently expect his absence to spill over into the regular season.

That was the word from Broncos coach Vance Joseph on Thursday during an interview with Orange and Blue 760. Joseph said that Booker will have surgery on Friday to repair what Mike Klis of KUSA reports is a fracture that was discovered when he reported lingering discomfort in the wrist from offseason workouts.

Joseph said that Booker could play without having the surgery, but fixing it now keeps it from being a “long-term” issue for the running back. He also said that Booker should be ready for the regular season given a six-week timeline to recover from the operation.

That outlook could change and the Broncos will get longer looks at rookie De’Angelo Henderson and veteran Jamaal Charles as potential complements to C.J. Anderson while Booker is recovering.

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