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McCoy returns to practice after X-ray, MRI on toe

McCoy AP

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy wants to rush for 2,000 yards in 2014.  It will be hard to do that if he misses any games due to injury.

His first injury scare has come — and apparently gone — via a toe problem that caused him to miss practice on Sunday.  John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com explains that McCoy returned to practice on Monday, explaining that he was absent due to a “small version of turf toe.”

“If it hurts too much, I’ll shut it down,” McCoy said. “I warmed up [Monday] and it felt good.  I can feel it still, but I pushed through it.  In this league, you have to learn how to play through pain if you can.  And if you can, you have to go out there and work hard. . . .  [M]y track record, I don’t miss a lot of games, I don’t miss a lot of practices.”

McCoy had an X-ray and an MRI on the toe, which shows that there was sufficient concern about the injury to justify thorough diagnostic testing.  But not enough to result in shutting it down for more than one practice.

For now.  But if McCoy already has a condition through which he needs to push in August, it makes sense to keep an eye on the situation.

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Texans stadium needs $50 million in upgrades for Super Bowl LI

NRG Stadium Getty Images

Houston will host its third Super Bowl in February 2017 when Super Bowl LI is played at NRG Stadium.

However, the stadium itself requires some significant upgrades over the next two years before the AFC and NFC Champions line up for kickoff.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the upgrades required for NRG Stadium could cost upwards of $50 million. The money would go toward installing Wi-Fi in the stadium and upgraded the club and suite areas of the building.

The improvements to the stadium were promised as a part of Houston’s Super Bowl bid.

“There are investments that need to be made to have that special Super Bowl experience – those commitments that were made within the bid when Houston was awarded the Super Bowl,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s senior vice president of events.

The majority – if not all – of the money for those upgrades are expected to come from Harris County.

“Some of those (expenses) may be the responsibility of the county, and some may not be,” said Edgar Colon, chairman of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. “We’re analyzing all that and going through the contracts and the documents and having conversations with our major tenants to resolve all of these contractual obligations. I’m sure all are going to be resolved in time.”

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Reports: Browns still in the mix for Josh McCown

Josh McCown AP

If it’s not the Josh McCown Derby, it’s at least a match race.

The Browns, like the Bills, are vying to sign McCown, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday night.

Furthermore, John Wawrow of the Associated Press reported McCown has engaged in “contract discussions” with Buffalo and Cleveland.

Both reports, it should be noted, said the Bills and Browns were “at least” the teams interested in McCown at the moment. What that means in terms of McCown’s market is unclear.

Now, we wait to see with whom McCown signs and what he garners. The signing team will likely be out of the mix for a veteran quarterback, which could winnow the options for soon-to-be free agents like Brian Hoyer (Cleveland) and Mark Sanchez (Philadelphia).

For McCown, the motivation to get a deal done now is clear. Released by the Buccaneers earlier this month, he’s the only veteran passer currently getting any interest before free agency begins on Tuesday, March 10.

The Bills and Browns have reason to get a contract done, too. Their shopping at the position would be finished, and the cost would be on the books. They could turn their attention to other options when the market opens next month.

And the needs of both clubs go beyond quarterback.

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Steven Jackson has no plans to retire

Bradley McDougald, Steven Jackson AP

Yes, he’s played 11 years in the NFL. Sure, he’s 31. Yep, he was cut by the Falcons on Thursday. But none of that means running back Steven Jackson is calling it quits.

“A lot has been written lately about my future,” Jackson wrote on his official website. “There are questions about my age, and what I have left in the tank. Of that, I will simply say this. For the first nine years of my career, I was used like a battering ram, punishing opposing defense over four quarters of a game. Maybe you stopped me the first five times I got the ball, but by the 15th or 20th time I got it, late in a game — let’s just say you were really feeling me at that point.

“Make no mistake: I can still punish a defense. I still have a warrior’s heart. There are 1,000-yard seasons left in these legs. I know what I am still capable of, and I have every intention of proving it.”

Jackson enters the market at a time when tailbacks like Reggie Bush, Chris Johnson, and DeAngelo Williams, and Jackson is older and has more wear and tear than each of them. At a time when teams are opting for multiple tailbacks who are on the young and cheap side, Jackson could have a hard time getting an acceptable offer. He could have an even harder time getting the reps necessary to churn out more 1,000-yard seasons.

But we wish him the best as he embarks on finding a new home. He’s been a great leader by example on a lot of bad teams. He deserves to get a chance to play for a good team.

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Nelson Peterson mentions three teams as potential destinations for Adrian

Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

Officially, the Vikings can now speak to running back Adrian Peterson. Unofficially, it sounds like multiple teams have been talking to someone.

On Thursday, Adrian’s father, Nelson Peterson, told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the elder Peterson has heard “rumors” of three potential destinations for Adrian.

“I’ve heard rumors, Arizona,” Nelson Peterson told Tomasson. “I’ve also heard the rumors of Indianapolis and the Colts, going there with a quarterback the caliber of [Andrew] Luck. I’ve also heard the Cowboys, coming back home with the Cowboys, behind that offensive line that they have.”

Nelson Peterson didn’t say who he heard the rumors from. All three teams make sense, and they mesh with rumors that have been making the rounds in league circles for the past few months.

Regardless of whether Adrian ends up in Arizona now, Nelson has strong feelings about where the Cardinals currently would be if they’d taken Adrian eight years ago.

“Arizona had the opportunity to draft him and they didn’t,” Nelson Peterson said. “They had an opportunity to take him in 2007 with the No. 4 pick and they went and picked Levi Brown. If they would have taken Adrian Peterson, then [quarterback] Kurt Warner would probably still be playing and they probably would have numerous Super Bowls.

“Can you imagine [Adrian] with Kurt Warner and with Larry Fitzgerald in his prime? Oh, man, Arizona would probably have a couple of Super Bowls by now.”

With Adrian turning 30 next month, the window toward being a key piece of a Super Bowl contender is closing. Before he leaves Minnesota in search of a team that may be on the doorstep, he needs to ask himself whether the Vikings may be laying the foundation to get there, sooner than later.

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Report: Raiders releasing safety Tyvon Branch

Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Raiders are reportedly parting ways with one of their starters in the secondary.

Oakland will release strong safety Tyvon Branch, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported Thursday night.

When healthy, Branch has been a productive starter, notching more than 100 tackles in every season in which he’s played all 16 games (2009, 2010, 2011). However, injuries have limited the 28-year-old Branch to a combined five games in the last two seasons. He missed 13 games with a broken foot in 2014, and the previous season, he sat out 14 games with a broken leg.

Branch was slated to make $5.5 million in salary in 2015, per NFL Players Association data.

With Branch departing, the Raiders could turn to Brandian Ross at strong safety. Ross notched 55 tackles and intercepted two passes in 2014. He is slated to be a restricted free agent.

The Raiders re-signed starting free safety Charles Woodson last month.

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Report: Buster Skrine could get up to $7 million per season

Buster Skrine AP

If the Browns are to bring back free agent cornerback Buster Skrine, it could cost them quite a bit.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Skrine is anticipated to garner between $5.5 million and $7 million per season in his next contract. Skrine is expected to be in demand in free agency, the newspaper reported, citing several unnamed sources.

The 25-year-old Skrine intercepted a career-high four passes in 2014 for Cleveland. He has defended 18 passes in each of the last two seasons.

Skrine (5-9, 185) is No. 46 on PFT’s Free Agent Hot 100.

If the Browns were to re-sign Skrine, it would likely keep second-year cornerback Justin Gilbert in a reserve role. The No. 8 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Gilbert had a disappointing rookie season.

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Colts hang onto Matt Hasselbeck for another year

Matt Hasselbeck AP

Having Andrew Luck as their starting quarterback minimizes the need for a Plan B for the Colts.

But they’re hanging onto theirs, just in case.

The Colts announced they had signed pending free agent quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to a one-year deal, keeping their trusted backup in house.

Hasselbeck, 39, hasn’t started a game since he was in Tennessee in 2012. And frankly, the Colts hope he doesn’t change that anytime soon.

But the former Seahawks starter has added some gravity to the locker room, and been a good sounding board for Luck during his development, so keeping him made sense for both sides.

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Falcons release Steven Jackson

steven-jackson Getty Images

The man who currently sits at 16 on the all-time rushing list will have to continue his climb through the record book with a new team.

The Falcons have announced that running back Steven Jackson has been released.

After nine seasons with the Rams, Jackson joined the Falcons two years ago. Jackson gained 1,250 yards on 347 carries, scoring 12 touchdowns.

For his career, Jackson has 11,388 yards, more than Hall of Famers John Riggins and O.J. Simpson.

The Falcons won only 10 of 32 games with Jackson on the team, a slump that came after five straight winning seasons.

For Jackson, the sub-.500 seasons continue a career trend. He has never played on a team that finished the year with a winning record. As a rookie in 2004, the Rams qualified for a wild-card berth with an 8-8 record.

The move creates $3.75 million in cap space. Jackson will still count for $1.1 million based on previously-paid bonus money. He immediately becomes a free agent, able to sign with any other team.

For Jackson’s sake, here’s hoping he lands with a team that finally finishes the year with a winning record.

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Vikings can now talk to Adrian Peterson

Adrian Getty Images

The statement they issued didn’t expressly address the question of whether the Vikings can now speak directly to running back Adrian Peterson, who has been restored from suspended status to the Commissioner-Exempt list. Per a team source, they can.

That’s a huge development for the Vikings, who hadn’t been able to make their case directly to Peterson as to why he should return for a ninth season with the team. In a visit last week to PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, coach Mike Zimmer made the case that he’d make directly to Peterson.

Now, Zimmer can make that case directly to Peterson, and the Vikings can try to secure from him a renewed commitment to remain in Minnesota.

Ultimately, the decision could come down to money. For now, the Vikings have the ability to mend fences and rebuild bridges before allowing him to once again break the bank with a base salary of $12.75 million.

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Jean Francois lands in D.C.

Super Bowl XLVII Media Day Getty Images

The Ricky Jean Francois free-agency tour has ended. Jean Francois, per a source with knowledge of the situation, has signed a three-year deal in Washington.

Cut by the Colts earlier this month, Jean Francois attracted interest from several teams (Washington, 49ers, Seahawks) in a process shepherded by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Per the source, the agreement has a base value of $9 million, with $4 million guaranteed. It’s unclear how much of that is fully guaranteed at signing. With incentives, the deal could be worth up to $11.25 million.

Jean Francois spent the last two seasons in Indianapolis after starting his career with the 49ers as a draft pick of former 49ers G.M. (and new Washington G.M.) Scot McCloughan.

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Washington hires Dave Ragone as quality control coach

Dave Ragone, Ryan Fitzpatrick AP

A former Titans position coach has been added to Jay Gruden’s coaching staff.

Washington has hired Dave Ragone as an offensive quality control coach, the club announced Thursday.

The 35-year-old Ragone was the Titans’ quarterbacks coach in 2013 and their wide receivers coach in 2011 and 2012. He also coached quarterbacks for the UFL’s Hartford Colonials in 2010.

Ragone played three seasons at quarterback with the Texans (2003-2005), starting two games as a rookie. He also had stints with the Bengals and Rams in 2006.

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Vikings continue to focus on welcoming Adrian Peterson back

Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The Vikings have been silent in the hours since Judge David Doty vacated the suspension of running back Adrian Peterson. Earlier in the hour, they issued a statement which makes it clear that, for now, they’ll continue to be silent when it comes to talking directly to Peterson.

“Adrian Peterson is an important member of the Minnesota Vikings, and our focus remains on welcoming him back when he is able to rejoin our organization,” the Vikings said in a statement. “Today’s ruling leaves Adrian’s status under the control of the NFL, the NFLPA and the legal system, and we will have no further comment at this time.”

Peterson already was due to have his suspension revisited on April 15, with the possibility of a reinstatement at that time. It’s unclear whether the NFL’s appeal and/or further proceedings before arbitrator Harold Henderson will alter that timeline.

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Recalling the Raymond Berry era and New England’s failed run at Bill Walsh

Raymond Berry on the sideline Getty Images

Bill Belichick. Pete Carroll. Bill Parcells. As coaching goes, the Patriots couldn’t have done much better over the last 22 seasons.

Parcells is a Hall of Famer, and Belichick will surely have his day in Canton, too. Carroll, meanwhile, went on to lead title-winning teams at USC and with the Seattle Seahawks after leaving New England, so the Patriots were on the right track.

But let’s go back a little further, to December 1989, when the Patriots tried to hire another Hall of Fame coach.

According to the late, great Will McDonough of the Boston Globe, then-Patriots owner Victor Kiam offered New England’s head coaching/G.M. roles to former 49ers coach Bill Walsh. However, Walsh turned down the offer, citing his commitment to continue working for NBC, the Globe reported.

Still, a coaching change was coming for New England, which fell to 5-11 in ’89.

Twenty-five years ago Thursday, the Patriots parted ways with head coach Raymond Berry, reportedly because of a conflict over the hiring of New England’s offensive and defensive coordinators.

A Hall of Fame wide receiver, Berry was a successful NFL head coach, too. He led the Patriots to a 51-41 mark, with New England making the Super Bowl for the first time in its history in his first full season on the job. Overall, the Patriots posted winning records in his first four full campaigns (1985-1988).

The Patriots would tab Steelers defensive coordinator Rod Rust to replace Berry, but he was fired after New England was a league-worst 1-15 in 1990. The Pats then turned to Syracuse head coach Dick McPherson, who led New England to a 6-10 mark in ’91. However, New England was 2-14 in ’92, with McPherson missing seven games because of illness. He was replaced in January 1993.

From there, the Patriots hired Parcells, who led New England to the playoffs in his second season and the Super Bowl in his fourth. Then came the three-season stint for Carroll (1997-1999), who was then replaced by Belichick.

But before that trio of coaches came the 9-39 stretch the franchise endured in the three seasons after Berry’s departure. Would things have been different if the Patriots lured Walsh east, or if Berry stayed on? If Walsh succeeded in New England, would Parcells ever have had reason to join the franchise? How would franchise history have been altered?

We’ll never know. But we do know this: Raymond Berry, like Belichick and Carroll, won more than he lost in his time in Foxborough, and he has his own spot in Patriots history.

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NFL appeals ruling in Adrian Peterson case

Peterson Getty Images

Like the Ray Rice grievance process, the NFL lost the legal challenge in the Adrian Peterson suspension.  Unlike the Rice case, the league has the power to appeal the Peterson ruling.

“[W]e believe strongly that Judge Doty’s order is incorrect and fundamentally at odds with well-established legal precedent governing the district court’s role in reviewing arbitration decisions,” the NFL said in statement released to PFT.  “As a result, we have filed a notice of appeal to have the ruling reviewed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  In the interim, Adrian Peterson will be returned to the Commissioner Exempt List pending further proceedings by appeals officer Harold Henderson or a determination by the Eighth Circuit Court.”

It’s unclear how Peterson’s placement on the Commissioner-Exempt list affects his ability to speak to the Vikings about topics such as returning to the team when his suspension ends.  Peterson previously was scheduled to have his suspension revisited by the league on April 15.

It’s also unclear whether the appeal will be expedited.  The new league year, which opens the windows for trades, launches on March 10.

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Lancaster police say they don’t have Wal-Mart video

Camera Getty Images

When Ian Rapoport of NFL Media secured and published the police report from a July 11, 2011 incident at a Lancaster, Texas Wal-Mart, the chase for the surveillance video corresponding to that incident intensified.

First up, the Dallas Morning News attempted to get the video from the Lancaster, Texas police.

“Rona Stringfellow, assistant city manager for Lancaster, said in an email that the police department has no video of the incident,” writes David Moore of the Morning News.

It’s not surprising that the Lancaster police doesn’t have the video.  The responding officer, M.L. Johnson, makes no mention of reviewing the video or of preserving it in his report.  Absent a follow-up report, there’s no reason to think the Lancaster, Texas police ever had a copy of the video in their files.

The more likely custodians of the video are Wal-Mart, which undoubtedly had a video of what happened in the parking lot at some point in time, and the Dallas County District Attorney.  On Friday, February 20, I made a written request to the Dallas County District Attorney for the incident report and video under the Texas Public Information Act; I’ve yet to get a response.

Wal-Mart may have the video either at its Lancaster, Texas store or at the corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas.  It has no legal obligation to release the video, but there’s likely no legal prohibition on doing so, either.

In addition to the inevitable requests that will be made to the potential custodians of the video, don’t be surprised to learn that members of the media are actively seeking comment from Carl King, Christopher Mitchell, Alex Penson, and the alleged victim.  All four are mentioned in the report, and all four may be able to answer some of the lingering questions regarding the incident and the investigation of it.

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