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Ray Farmer: Johnny Manziel “right where he’s supposed to be” right now

manzielfarmer AP

Browns coach Mike Pettine said what most people were thinking after Saturday night’s game against the Rams when he pointed out that quarterback Brian Hoyer needs to be better if he’s going to be the starting quarterback in Cleveland.

Pettine didn’t say that a lack of progress from Hoyer would put Johnny Manziel back into the mix for the starting job, but he didn’t really need to make that point explicit after already leaving the door open to Manziel playing a package of plays in games that Hoyer starts. That makes it sound like it is just a matter of time before Manziel is on top of the depth chart and General Manager Ray Farmer’s comment send a similar message.

“I think he is right where he’s supposed to be. I laugh because it’s four weeks into his first training camp and everyone is waiting to see Steve Young run out the tunnel. I don’t know where the reality in that lies,” Farmer said, via ESPN.com. “It’s like anything else. If you’re learning a foreign language, guess what, you’re not going to go to Spain tomorrow and in four weeks feel like you’re fluent in the language and just start talking. It just doesn’t happen like that. You may be able to communicate, but not effectively.”

Manziel surely hopes that he won’t have to wait as long as Young waited for his chance to become established as an NFL starter, a dream that should be helped by the fact that Hoyer doesn’t appear to be the second coming of Joe Montana.

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Report: Peyton Manning won’t sue Al Jazeera

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 17:  Former NFL quarterback, Peyton Manning, huddles with crew chief Greg Ives and the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet crew in their hauler prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Getty Images

Peyton Manning has plenty of decisions to make, now that he has retired. One of the first decisions he made was a smart one.

Christine Brennan of USA Today reports that Manning won’t be suing Al Jazeera over the report that HGH was delivered to Manning’s wife in 2011, while Manning was dealing with chronic neck problems. Per Brennan, the decision came “after a dozen conference calls with attorneys” prompted Manning to conclude “that he doesn’t want to spend the time and money necessary to file a lawsuit that would make public the personal records and private lives of both he and his wife Ashley.”

That’s precisely what a defamation case would do, especially since truth is the ultimate defense to a claim of libel or slander. A lawsuit would give Al Jazeera license to demand the production of all medical records reflecting treatment received by Peyton or Ashley Manning at the Guyer Institute in Indianapolis, and anywhere else.

Brennan also explains that Manning is watching closely defamation lawsuits filed by baseball players Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard against Al Jazeera arising from the same documentary. If/when those cases are dismissed, Manning will know that his case would have been dismissed, too.

Frankly, dismissal would have been the least of Peyton Manning’s problems. If the medical records suggest that Ashley Manning did indeed receive HGH for use by Peyton, that information could then be used by the NFL as part of its own investigation that according to Brennan remains stuck in neutral, five months after the report came to light. With Manning possibly aspiring to run an NFL team in the future, its possible that he’d be disciplined as an executive for violations occurring as a player.

Without litigation or some other court proceeding that will bring the information to light, the NFL has no way of obtaining the documents. Unless, of course, Peyton and Ashley Manning execute the appropriate legal documents authorizing the Guyer Institute to provide that information.

At one point, Peyton Manning suggested that he’d allow the NFL to examine that information. He may have a different feeling on that issue, now that his playing career is over.

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Report: Decker absent from OTAs in protest of Fitzpatrick situation

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 29:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets celebrates his touchdown with  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 in the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins on November 29, 2015 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker has been absent from the team’s organized team activity (OTA) practices this week, and Brian Costello of the New York Post reported Wednesday night that Decker’s absence is related to the team’s ongoing contract standoff with free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Citing a source, Costello reported that Decker stayed away from the practices because he’s upset with the organization that Fitzpatrick remains unsigned.

The dots there are pretty easy to connect, though there are many reasons players miss OTA practices. With the quarterback market seemingly stagnant, it does seem time that the Jets and Fitzpatrick just do a deal. Whether or not Decker’s reported protest could impact that, we probably won’t ever know. We do know that Decker had a big season with Fitzpatrick throwing to him in 2015, and that Fitzpatrick has said he’d like to get a deal done to return.

These things happen — these absences and these negotiations — and at this point it seems like the Jets and Fitzpatrick will eventually get a deal done. Decker isn’t required to attend OTAs, and the front office obviously has its reasons and its stance in this matter.

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Kendall Fuller gets some OTA work

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - SEPTEMBER 19: Kendall Fuller #11 of the Virginia Tech Hokies makes the tackle on Austin Appleby #12 of the Purdue Boilermakers as he fumbles the football that would be returned for a touchdown at Ross-Ade Stadium on September 19, 2015 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Maybe he’s well ahead of schedule or maybe he’s right on it. Either way, the Redskins have to see having rookie cornerback Kendall Fuller in uniform for organized team activity (OTA) practices as a positive.

Fuller suffered a torn ACL last September that ended his third and final season at Virginia Tech. He was a spectator during rookie minicamp earlier this month but said he would “definitely” be ready for training camp.

Though the Redskins are monitoring him closely, Fuller participated in Wednesday’s OTA practice. Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said the team will be “cautious” and that Fuller will be eased into full work, but Gruden said he’s progressing well.

A healthy Fuller and the late April addition of Josh Norman potentially give the Redskins depth and talent at cornerback they didn’t have last season. Fuller was projected by many as a first-round pick had he been healthy during the pre-draft process; he was drafted by the Redskins in the third round.

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Goodell blames unfamiliarity with Congressional report on travel

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL’s response to the Congressional report regarding alleged efforts to interfere with a National Institutes of Health study has looked nothing like the scorched-earth approach taken earlier this year when the NFL strenuously objected to an article from the New York Times that accused the league of shoddy concussion research and haphazardly compared pro football to Big Tobacco. As the hours passed on Monday during ESPN’s incessant trumpet-blasting of the report, with public opinion hardening like reinforced concrete, the league remained silent.

On Tuesday, when Commissioner Roger Goodell met the media at the conclusion of the quarterly ownership meetings in Charlotte, Goodell initially downplayed the situation with this response: “I didn’t see the report, we were traveling down here.”

I engaged in a full analysis of the answer during Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. In lieu of me typing it up, you should just listen to it.

Here’s a quick summary: I didn’t like the response very much. If the league plans to devise a winning P.R. strategy to combat the siege mentality arising from the ongoing concussion crisis, the league should start with a more plausible strategy for adopting a dismissive tone regarding one of the more important Congressional reports generated regarding the league in recent years.

For the longer version, click play below.

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After fireworks accident, C.J. Wilson hopes to resume career in CFL

Mike Evans, C.J. Wilson AP

The Buccaneers waived cornerback C.J. Wilson from their reserve-retired list Wednesday, clearing the way for Wilson to resume his career in the Canadian Football League.

Wilson lost two fingers on his right hand in a fireworks accident last July 4. Per his hometown newspaper, the Lincoln Times-News in Lincolnton, N.C., Wilson left last weekend for Winnipeg. Wilson’s agent confirmed Wednesday to the Tampa Bay Times that Wilson has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

CFL teams are opening training camps this week. The regular season starts in late June.

Wilson, 26, played in two games with the Bears in 2013 as an undrafted rookie and two for the Bucs in 2014.

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Jarvis Jones “motivated” by Steelers declining his option

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones has plenty to play for in 2016 after the team declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract, and Jones called that situation “motivation” to have his best season yet.

The Steelers waited until just before the early May deadline before declining the option on Jones, meaning 2016 will be the final year of his rookie contract.

Jones started 15 games in 2015 and had his most productive season, recording two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. He has started 26 of 36 career games but has just five sacks in three seasons.

“Obviously I have to be more productive than I have been the past three years,” Jones said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think everybody knows that, and I know that myself. Nothing’s changed.”

Jones can still play his way into the team’s long-term plans, and the sides can still negotiate a long-term deal. What would be best for both sides is Jones playing well enough this season for the Steelers that both his original team and potential outside suitors are interested in his services.

“It’s not about the money,” he said. “I don’t play the game for the money. I play the game because it’s something I’m passionate about. If I do what I have to do, eventually I’ll get the money. That’s not what I’m worried about right now. I’m worried about playing football and being a football player.”

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Arian Foster says he “probably” needs another month to be back to where he was

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 25:  Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

He’s still not yet 30, but people think he’s washed up. They could be rethinking that position soon.

Free-agent running back Arian Foster, still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and still looking for a new job after being cut by the Texans, believes he’s getting closer to a return to full strength.

“I probably need another month to get where I am, the person everyone is use to seeing,” Foster told abc13.com in Houston. “I can definitely play, but I need another month to be where I want to be and be at that Pro Bowl level I can be at.”

Can he get there? Foster’s brother, Abdul, believes Arian can be “probably better.”

Two years ago, Foster was pretty good, with 1,246 yards rushing and an average of 4.8 yards per carry. From 2011 through 2013, Foster had three straight 1,000-yard seasons, with a total of 4,264 rushing yards.

Despite his track record, Foster seems to be concerned that his personality could be an impediment to getting work.

“I am not one of those Captain America, ‘Yes sir, no sir,’ kind of cats, and a lot of that comes across as arrogance. But if anyone has spent any real time with me, they’ll say I’m not arrogant,” Foster said.

Most teams seem to have filled their needs at tailback, but injuries are inevitable. Someone will give Foster a chance, and there’s a decent chance he’ll still be pretty good, if not better.

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Feeling “10 times better,” Terrelle Pryor is ready to “beat up on some corners”

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20: Linebacker Cliff Avril #56 of the Seattle Seahawks tries to tackle wide receiver Terrelle Pryor #17 of the Cleveland Browns during the second half of a football game at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won the game 30-13. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) Getty Images

Reunited with his first NFL head coach but learning a new position, Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor has high hopes for 2016.

[I’m] 10 times [better than last year],” Pryor said Wednesday, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I look at the film and it amazes me, and I give that to [receivers coach Al] Saunders, because just sitting there and doing the extra meeting time with him and him really breaking down certain routes to me and how he wants them run, it’s awesome.”

So what does Browns coach Hue Jackson’s former quarterback in Oakland want to do?

“I just really want to go beat up on some corners,” Pryor said. “Catch the ball over them, run past them, catch the ball, stiff-arm them, whatever, it doesn’t matter.  Every time I touch the field, practice, game, I’m going to bring high energy, high effort.”

He also brings a high level of disagreement to the idea that he’s making the transition from quarterback to receiver.

“I don’t even call it a transition anymore,” Pryor said in comments distributed by the team. “I feel like I’m there. I already transitioned. It’s just now continuing to get better at my craft and try to be the best I can be and do the things every single day to be the best player — like Coach Al [Saunders] says in our meeting room to all the receivers – ‘to be the best player you can be, better than the players in the room, player in the league, player in the division.’ Obviously, there are great players around the league. There are great players in our room. It’s not going to always be like that, but you’ve got to have that mindset that you want to be the best every single day. We go out there like brothers and we go out there and we help each other and make sure we work hard.”

Pryor still has plenty of work to do to persuade the Browns and the rest of the league that he can become a receiver. Nearly five years after being drafted, however, he could finally be moving toward the rare feat of becoming a starter at both NFL quarterback and another position on offense.

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Browns not giving up on Justin Gilbert

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 30:  Justin Gilbert #21 of the Cleveland Browns returns a kickoff during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

For two seasons, Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert has been a first-round bust overshadowed by a flashier, better-known first-round bust in his own locker room.

Now, Johnny Manziel and everyone who drafted and coached Manziel and Gilbert in their first two seasons are gone. And Gilbert still has a chance to become a contributor.

The Browns are thin at cornerback, and top cornerback Joe Haden is sitting out this spring while rehabbing an ankle injury. That means Gilbert is getting plenty of snaps as he tries to prove he belongs in the NFL.

“We weren’t here and we don’t know what went on the last two years,” Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton told reporters Wednesday, per the team’s official transcript. “All we know is what went on film and tape from today. Everybody has a clean slate, and you go out and work hard. Is [Gilbert] a work in progress? Yes. Is he carrying anything from four months ago? Not in my book he’s not. He’s just one of the players that we want to help us win a championship here.”

The Browns drafted Gilbert with the No. 8 overall pick in 2014, 14 spots ahead of where they picked Manziel. And Gilbert’s struggles on and off the field the last two seasons were overshadowed by Manziel’s more public exploits.

Horton said the new Browns staff is treating Gilbert “fairly” but not differently and wants Gilbert to know he has a chance to turn his career around.

“He has a lot of God-given ability that was, as coaches, have to get out,” Horton said.

Gilbert faced team discipline multiple times over his first two seasons, had multiple injury issues last season and was involved in a road rage incident last fall. Though he had an interception for a touchdown against Andrew Luck as a rookie, he never earned much significant playing time. Gilbert has played in 23 games over two seasons. He played in nine, starting one, last season.

On the field, Horton said the Browns have tinkered with Gilbert’s “elongated” stance, and that Gilbert offered no resistance. Gilbert said the right things last offseason about growing up and learning from his mistakes, and maybe this year the fresh start inside the Browns’ building will help him get his career on track.

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Derek Wolfe says he doesn’t regret skipping free agency

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 02:  Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe speaks to the media at the Broncos media availability at the Santa Clara Marriott on February 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Perhaps no player since Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown capitalized on Super Bowl success in free agency the way Malik Jackson did.

But that also made the deal Jackson’s former Broncos teammate signed before the playoffs look that much worse.

Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe said Wednesday he didn’t regret the four-year, $36.75 million contract he signed in January, just before the Broncos won a title and Jackson hit the jackpot with a six-year, $90 million deal in Jacksonville. Had he waited for free agency, Wolfe would have certainly made more money, but he said he wouldn’t have changed things.

“Absolutely not,” Wolfe said. “I did what I felt what was right. I’m happy for Malik. He deserves it. I’m where I wanted to be.

“You can’t put a price on happiness. I’m happy and that’s all that really matters.”

That kind of loyalty is admirable, at least until the Broncos decide they don’t feel the same way. But Wolfe sounds like he’s OK with that reality.

“I love the city, the fans,” he said in comments distributed by the team. “The people here are great. I couldn’t imagine playing in another city. I don’t really want to ever have to play in another city. I’ll probably just play here until I decided to just be done. That’s my plan. . . .

“To me, I have to prove my worth, prove that I was worth that much money. I have to go out there and prove to the fans, to the team, to the organization, to my teammates and to everybody that I’m worth that much money. To me, it puts a little bit more pressure on me actually.”

The real pressure might come when Wolfe is finished playing, since he’ll have far less in the bank than Jackson will, with a 24.5 million difference in guarantees in their deals ($17.5 million for Wolfe, $42 million for Jackson).

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Dez Bryant getting back to his old self

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 19:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys prepares to take on the New York Jets at AT&T Stadium on December 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant isn’t working in full at OTAs this week as the team continues to bring him along slowly after January foot and ankle surgeries, but he’s catching passes and doing individual work while waiting for full clearance.

Bryant hopes to get that after another round of X-rays in the near future, but said Wednesday that even his limited workload leaves him feeling ahead of where he was while mired in a contract standoff with the Cowboys at this time last year. Bryant eventually signed a long-term deal, but a broken foot in the season opener set the tone for a disappointing season all around in Dallas.

The injuries have healed now, though, and Bryant said Tuesday that he feels like he’s rounding into form bit by bit.

“I feel fine; I’ve been working out real good,” Bryant said, via the team’s website. “I’m getting back to my old self. … It feels good. I’m right on time. I actually feel a little ahead of the game. But I’m going to stay patient.”

The Bryant of 2015 wasn’t the one that earned that big contract and it isn’t one that’s going to help the Cowboys moving back in a positive direction this season. The same could be said of quarterback Tony Romo, leaving little doubt about the players that the team will be counting on to lead them back to the right side of .500.

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Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold skipping Jets OTAs

112915-NFL-NY-Jets-Eric-Decker-Brandon-Marshall-celebrate-4Q-TD-MM-PI.vadapt.980.high.39 Getty Images

Advantage Fitz.

With the Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick willing to continue their relationship but unable to work out a new contract, a trio of Fitzpatrick’s biggest supporters coincidentally have skipped the last two days of Organized Team Activities.

Per multiple reports, receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and center Nick Mangold haven’t shown up either of the last two days.

Via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, coach Todd Bowles downplayed the absences, pointing out that the workouts are voluntary.

Bowles said he doesn’t think the players are making a statement by staying away. Common sense suggests otherwise. With the team unwilling to pay Fitzpatrick an amount similar to what other starters make, it’s likely no accident that these three key members of the offense are choosing not to do something that most NFL players choose to do.

The development makes it even more important that the two sides get together as soon as possible, get in a room, lock the door, and work out a contract. Every days, parties engaged in acrimonious, hostile civil litigation submit to mediation sessions that result in a settlement of their claims. If two sides that hate each other can get in a room and resolve their differences, two sides that like each other surely can do the same.

If they don’t do it soon, these two sides that like each other could quickly end up not liking each other.

UPDATE 5:25 p.m. ET: Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that Mangold’s wife gave birth on Tuesday. This doesn’t explain the absences of Marshall and Decker, obviously.

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Chip Kelly back at it with up-tempo practicing in 49ers OTAs

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 20:  Chip Kelly speaks to the media during a press conference where he announced as the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on January 20, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers are getting a crash course in Chip Kelly during OTAs, learning in a hurry about the kind of pace he wants to keep.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the 49ers ran 24 offensive plays during an eight-minute team period today.

That’s an average of one snap every 20 seconds (#math).

If that sounds familiar, it should, as his first days with the Eagles were also about establishing his tempo, which is usually charming in the first days of any regime. Of course, when the results stopped showing his Eagles players quickly got tired of it (and tired).

Tackle Lane Johnson was among the loudest, saying keeping up such a pace from OTAs through the season left players exhausted by the end of the season.

If it works, the 49ers might be able to gain some kind of advantage on offense. But considering their quarterbacks are either Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert, it could also mean a lot of long days for their defense.

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Jerome Cunningham claimed off waivers by Titans

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15:  Jerome Cunningham #86 of the New York Giants runs against  Jonathan Freeny #55 of the New England Patriots during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The first time that tight end Jerome Cunningham was waived this offseason, he didn’t have to move far to join his new team.

He’ll get a few frequent flier miles the second time around, though. The Titans announced on Wednesday that they used their top spot on the league’s waiver list to add Cunningham to their 90-man roster. Tennessee only had 89 players under contract so they didn’t need to make a corresponding roster move.

Cunningham was waived by the Jets on Tuesday when they signed running back Romar Morris. He joined the team earlier this month after being dropped by the Giants, who he played nine games for during the 2015 season.

Cunningham joins Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Anthony Fasano, Phillip Supernaw and Alex Ellis at tight end in Tennessee.

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Bengals sign fourth-rounder Billings

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 26:  Driphus Jackson #6 of the Rice Owls carries the ball against Andrew Billings #75 of the Baylor Bears in the first quarter at McLane Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Fourth-round defensive tackle Andrew Billings has signed his rookie contract with the Bengals.

A first-team AP All-American last season at Baylor, the 311-pound Billings was also named the Big 12’s co-Defensive Player of the Year. He should immediately see some snaps in the Bengals’ talented defensive line rotation.

The signing of Billings leaves only first-round cornerback William Jackson III unsigned among the team’s seven draft choices.

The Bengals also announced the signing of undrafted rookie fullback Andrew Bonnet, who signed with the Panthers after the draft and was released last week. To make room on the roster for Bonnet, kicker Jonathan Brown was waived-injured.

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