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Thursday night wrap-up: Seahawks dominant on offense

Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The Seahawks won a championship with defense.

But their offense showed enough signs Thursday night that they’re going to be able to carry more of the load this season as teams try to adjust.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was his efficient best, as the Seahawks beat the Packers 36-16 to open the season.

But it was the variety of plays and playmakers that stood out, rather than any individual performance.

Their first touchdown was a work of art, a read-option pass for a touchdown that seemed cribbed straight out of Gus Malzahn’s Auburn playbook.

With Wilson going read-option, a look toward Marshawn Lynch is a dangerous thing, and when the Packers reacted to the fake, Ricardo Lockette was standing all alone for an easy score.

They’re also deploying Percy Harvin in multiple roles (get to know the words “jet sweep,” you’re going to hear them a lot), and his home run threat creates multiple problems. They only got one catch for 17 yards from him in the regular season a year ago, but he had 11 touches for 100 yards from scrimmage Thursday.

All that makes it easy to overlook tight end Zach Miller, who stood out as both a blocker and a frisbee-catching dog (with a one-handed grab downfield which might have been the play of the night).

With Wilson running the offense smartly, and Lynch running the ball so physically (ho-hum, 20 carries for 110 yards), and Harvin running just so fast, they might prove hard to stop.

They haven’t had to do so much because of the dominance of their defense, but they’re showing they can do more than just manage.

Here are five more things we learned during the Thursday night kickoff edition of Sunday Night Football:

1. Aaron Rodgers already has his Super Bowl ring and an MVP trophy.

But if he didn’t, he’d be getting a lot more scrutiny for some of his outbursts.

Barking at rookie center Corey Linsley in front of the world when he had to burn a timeout in the first half was a bad look for the Packers quarterback. Linsley, bless his heart, was thrown into a tough spot in his first game, unable to hear or imagine what was coming next. That doesn’t make his error excusable, but the reaction seemed over the top.

It’s not that the yelling was out of the ordinary, but it’s a great example of context in the NFL.

When Rodgers or Tom Brady does it, it’s competitiveness. When Jay Cutler does it, it’s a sign of immaturity. God forbid Cam Newton took the towel off his head and did the same.

If Rodgers really wanted to bark at someone, he might have chosen the folks who put together the game plan. He was throwing almost nothing but dump-offs (18 passes for 86 yards in the first half) when the game was competitive, and the circus that was a fourth-down attempt in the second half will be dissected for days.

2. Richard Sherman is going to get bored.

He stayed put on the left, and the Packers responded by just ignoring that side of the ball.

Eventually, that’s going to lead to plays like the interception Byron Maxwell made, but at some point, Sherman is going to have to do something, if only for fun.

3. Bobbling a first-half punt was a bad look for Seahawks safety/punt returner Earl Thomas. But there were other little signs that their approach to special teams might not be a prudent one.

Thomas apparently failed to make the “peter call” on a bouncing punt later, and it nearly bounced into one of his teammates for what was dangerously close to a Packers score.

Coupled with Harvin returning kickoffs (and not getting much out of them), and Sherman blocking a guy into Thomas on the fumble, it’s easy to question Pete Carroll’s allocation of resources.

Sure, the Seahawks were dealing with some injuries in the secondary (and those backups make up a big part of special teams everywhere). But they’re taking a big risk rolling so many stars out there, stars who don’t always get as many practice reps in the kicking game as you need to be good at it.

4. Packers Bryan Bulaga left the game in the first half to get his left knee looked at, and didn’t return.

That’s concerning because Bulaga blew the ACL in his left knee last year, but also because of what it leaves them with.

Derek Sherrod replaced him at right tackle, and struggled with speed rushes all night (most obviously on a strip-sack for a fumble in the third quarter which resulted in a safety).

The Packers are dealing with injuries up front, but Bulaga’s a consistent player, who won’t be easy to replace if his injury is serious.

5. The Packers appear to have found a competent pass-rush duo in Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers (at least once Peppers learns to play on his feet).

But it’s all the other parts of their defense that should be a concern.

The Packers were routinely pushed around up front, and the early returns on that smaller, quicker defensive line were not good.

The Packers also rotated safeties Micah Hyde and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, and the first-rounder from Alabama had a rough night. He was left to suffer the highlight reels alone on the first Seahawks touchdown (thanks to Sam Shields biting hard on a run fake). He covers plenty of ground, but didn’t appear the sure tackler he was billed to be at Alabama.

The Seahawks gashed them for 221 yards in the first half alone, and when you couple a Matthews sack wiped out by a penalty and a few dropped interceptions, there were plenty of opportunities to make that number smaller.

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Poll finds Nevada residents don’t want a taxpayer-funded stadium


A proposed deal to move the Raiders to Las Vegas will only happen if the Nevada state legislature approves public funding to build a stadium. And a new poll suggests that the legislators’ constituents may not be on board with that.

A KTNV-Rasmussen Reports poll asked likely voters, “Do you favor or oppose the use of up to $500 million in state taxpayer money to help finance a stadium that would bring the NFL’s Raiders franchise to Las Vegas?”

The result was that 60 percent of Nevada voters opposed the idea, and only 28 percent supported it. The stadium proposal did better among residents of Clark County, where Las Vegas is, but only a little better: 55 percent opposed the plan, while 35 percent supported it.

It’s important to note, however, that the wording of the poll could have had an effect on the results: The question didn’t make clear that the proposal is for a tax on hotel rooms to finance the stadium, which means the money would largely be coming from people outside the state.

“The survey question leaves out critical information,” said Las Vegas Sands executive Andy Abboud, one of the proponents of the stadium. “Specifically, the public funding would come from an increase in the hotel tax, which is predominantly paid by those visiting Clark County, not its residents.”

Nonetheless, hotel tax dollars that go toward a stadium are still tax dollars that go toward a stadium. And most Nevada residents are skeptical of that.

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Multiple suspensions expose Cowboys, Steelers to major fines

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28:  A man takes money from a cash machine at a branch of Lloyds Bank on July 28, 2016 in London, England. The part state-owned banking group today announced it will cut 3,000 jobs and close 200 more branches despite reporting a doubling of pre-tax profits.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images) Getty Images

Nearly a decade ago, the NFL crafted a policy aimed at promoting good player behavior by requiring teams to surrender a portion of a suspended player’s lost salary as a fine, if multiple players are suspended in a given year.

In 2013, the then-five-year-old policy likely cost the Seahawks more than $60,000 for a trio of suspensions to offensive lineman Allen Barbre, safety Winston Guy, and cornerback Brandon Browner. The Rams likely faced a similar problem in 2013, due to multiple player suspensions.

As noted by Adam Schefter of, the policy that was first applied to the Cowboys in 2008 will be applied to them again, given the suspensions of Randy Gregory, Demarcus Lawrence, and Rolando McClain. The policy as currently written requires in the event of three suspensions the payment of 25 percent of the collective forfeited base salary to the league, with a maximum payment of $250,000.

With Gregory due to make $608,406 in 2016, Lawrence on the books this year for $920,604, and McClain owed $1.25 million, the Cowboys easily got to the $250,000 ceiling. (Absent the limit, they would have owed 25 percent of $1.095 million, or $273,750.) If another player is suspended, the Cowboys will be required to cough up a full third of the lost wages for each suspended player.

The Steelers could be facing a similar problem, with the full-season suspension of Martavis Bryant and the looming suspension of running back Le’Veon Bell. The policy requires the forfeiture of 15 percent of the lost salary when two players are suspended. With Bryant due to make $600,000 this year (he’ll lose all of it) and Bell slated to earn $966,900 (he’ll lose $235,294 if the suspension is upheld), 15 percent of the lost salary equates to $125,294.

“It’s obviously so important to us in drafting guys with the right character but sometimes things happen that are unforeseen,” Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said earlier this year. “Right now, I totally get that it may not look like it in terms of the mishaps we’ve had here, but it’s certainly very important to us and something we’ll continue to evaluate and try to be better.”

Ultimately, giving up a chunk of the salary that otherwise won’t be paid won’t deter teams from taking risks on players who may be predisposed to engaging in behavior that could get them suspended or provide an even stronger incentive to keep troubled players out of trouble. To get the attention of teams, they must face the potential loss of draft picks.

Previously, the possibility has been considered in connection with multiple violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. That idea never went anywhere. If the league truly wants to reduce suspensions under all policies, that’s the best (and perhaps only) way to do it.

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Jack Del Rio: I don’t spend any time on hype

Jack Del Rio AP

It’s been hard to miss the optimistic buzz that’s built around the Raiders this offseason as there’s been no shortage of people predicting a winning season in Oakland for the first time since 2002.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio has heard that chatter, but says he isn’t letting it seep into his thinking. Del Rio told Albert Breer of that he has “seen potential come and go” so he is focused on more tangible things as the team continues its preparations for the 2016 season.

“That goes into all the noise, that has nothing to do with executing on third-and-8,” Del Rio said. “All those words mean nothing, so I don’t spend any time on it. What matters is doing the work.”

Del Rio is still emphasizing chopping the wood — in spirit if not action this time around — but he recognizes the reasons why people are bullish about his team. They’ve added a slew of free agents to players acquired through the draft like quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end Khalil Mack to build a roster that Del Rio said “all fit together” over the course of their work in the spring.

That doesn’t guarantee anything in the fall, however, and that’s why Del Rio will be working to keep the team focused on the tasks at hand and leaving the projections to those outside the organization.

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Bills and Tyrod Taylor talking about extension, possibly before season

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills acknowledges the crowd after the Bills beat the New York Jets 22-17 at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills haven’t made any progress on a long-term contract for cornerback Stephon Gilmore, but they apparently have when it comes to an extension for quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

According to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, the possibility of a deal for Taylor before the start of the season is real.

A source said the team and Taylor’s reps were talking “relatively frequently,” as they pursue a contract.

What makes the efforts interesting is the short time Taylor has produced as a starter (14 games), and the hot seat all his bosses seem to be sitting on. With many thinking Bills coach Rex Ryan is out if they don’t make the playoffs, a long-term commitment to a skill player with a distinctly Ryan style is a bit of a risk.

But all Taylor has to point to is the sight-unseen $18 million-a-year deal Brock Osweiler got in Houston for half as many starts to justify a deal.

And it sounds like there’s at least a chance that gets done.

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Ryan Pace on Alshon Jeffery: He knows he has to stay healthy

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 08:  Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears participates in warm-ups before a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on August 8, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Eagles 34-28.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery didn’t come to agreement on a multi-year deal this offseason, which leaves Jeffery playing out this year for the franchise tender of $14.6 million and on track for free agency after he season.

That situation has created some discomfort between teams and players in the past, but General Manager Ryan Pace is confident that it isn’t “going to affect him at all.” Jeffery signed his tender early in the process, so he’ll be at camp and Pace believes that the negotiating process didn’t leave any scars that will preclude the two sides from coming together after the season.

Pace also noted that Jeffery’s ability to stay healthy — the wideout missed seven games in 2015 — this season will impact any future talks.

“Those negotiations were friendly the whole time,” Pace said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t think it’s uncommon when you’re negotiating off the franchise tag to sometimes not come to an agreement. But that doesn’t mean there’s any ill will. We can revisit it after the season. But I’m optimistic. He’s a talented player. He knows he has to stay healthy. And we’ll see going forward.”

Jeffery produced well when he was on the field last season, just as he did while playing in every game during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. If he can do that again in 2016, one big obstacle to a long-term deal will be a little smaller in next year’s contract talks.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick: “It’s been a long six months for sure”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets jumps on the back of  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets during a television interview after their 26-20 overtime win against the New England Patriots  at MetLife Stadium on December 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been without a job for six months, and that means he’s been out of the context he’s most comfortable in.

The once-and-future Jets quarterback told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News he’s relieved to be back and get to work.

“Oh my gosh… it’s been a long six months for sure,” Fitzpatrick said. “The biggest feeling was relief. Just relief to have it over and done with. And then when I was driving in [Wednesday night to the team facility] and walking up to the team meeting, it was like the first day of school. I was just all excited to see everybody and to be back in the building. Because through the entire offseason program, I wasn’t allowed to be there.

“It was such a weird feeling. I was 10 minutes away just sitting at home getting calls and texts every day. After every practice, talking with the guys and not being allowed in the building to participate and compete with them. That made it an awfully long offseason for me. Now I’m ready to get to work.”

Fitzpatrick said — as everyone believed — that he always thought a deal would get done. He didn’t anticipate it taking this long, but remained positive through a stretch when Jets offers were being leaked.

“Unfortunately, we had to go through that long process to get to the end result,” he said. “But I didn’t have any doubts that at some point it would work itself out. . . . Everybody’s trying to get a leg up on the bargaining table with negotiations. I thought for the most part it was good that it stayed behind closed doors.

“There was obviously that one period where they released some of the numbers on the contract. Then all the numbers came out. There was such a he said-she said back-and-forth going on. I didn’t really love that part of it. Like I said, I’m ready to go and get to work and put it all behind us. And I’m glad that it’s over.”

The 34-year-old quarterback said he never considered retirement, and feels like he’s still getting better. After a productive season and 10 wins, he’s hoping to build on what the Jets did last year.

And now that he’s finally under contract, he can get back to what he enjoys most.

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Dak Prescott found not guilty of DUI

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 14:  Dak Prescott #15 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs looks to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Davis Wade Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Starkville, Mississippi.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before quarterback Dak Prescott was selected by the Cowboys in the fourth round of the draft, he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in March.

The arrest in Starkville, Mississippi may have affected Prescott’s landing spot in the draft, but he won’t have the charges hanging over his head at Cowboys camp this summer. Prescott was found not guilty of DUI and speeding in Starkville, where he attended Mississippi State, on Wednesday.

“Dak is obviously extremely relieved this process is over,” Prescott’s lawyer Jay Perry said, via the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “He’s looking forward to going back to Dallas and then to California to compete in camp and learn from Tony Romo.”

In addition to Romo, Prescott is joined by Kellen Moore and Jameill Showers on the depth chart at quarterback in Dallas. Moore is expected to be Romo’s backup barring an outside addition or a summer showing from Prescott that elevates him more rapidly than expected.

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Tyler Varga: Fans should get used to players retiring earlier

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 3: Tyler Varga #38 of the Indianapolis Colts runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Running back Tyler Varga was willing to speak out last year, when he didn’t want to take a medication the Colts offered in the wake of a concussion.

And now that he’s retired from the NFL after one season, he says stories like his are going to become more and more common.

People shouldn’t be surprised when they hear about players retiring young,” Varga told Bob Kravitz of WTHR. “You’re seeing it more and more often these days.

“Players are far more educated now about the risks involved in playing football. Guys are more aware of the risks involved.”

For Varga, the risk was a drug which had side effects he feared, which included possible psychotic behavior. The Colts offered it in the wake of his concussion, but after researching, he chose to decline the offer.

“In the end, you just have to weigh the risk versus reward, do a cost/benefit analysis, and I ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the risk,” Varga said. “I didn’t want to risk another big one [concussion] and having it impact my quality of life down the road. It was a difficult decision; it always is when you work so hard toward a goal and finally reach that goal, but after a long period of reflection, I felt like this was the best decision for my future.”

Varga laughed and said “I think I’ll take a pass on that one,” when asked if he trusted the league and its teams on the long-term effects of concussions.

The NFL has at least shown some interest in changing that perception, farming out controversial Dr. Elliott Pellman last week, removing someone viewed as a symbol of years of concussion-denial. And Varga’s well-prepared for his future without football, with a Yale degree in hand and likely the ability to make a living beyond what he’d have in a few more years of playing in the NFL.

And he considers himself one of the lucky ones.

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Josh Doctson opens first camp on PUP list

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Wide receiver Josh Doctson of TCU participates in a drill during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

When wide receiver Josh Doctson missed some practice time this spring with an Achilles injury, the word from the Redskins was that their first-round pick was being cautious in order to be ready to go for training camp.

That precaution may have kept the injury from getting worse, but Doctson isn’t going to be on the field with his teammates for the first practice of camp. The Redskins announced that Doctson was placed on the physically unable to perform list Thursday, leaving him unable to do more than work on the side until he’s activated from the list.

With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon at the top of the depth chart, Doctson joins Jamison Crowder as options to join them in multiple receiver sets. Any missed time will work against Doctson seeing many of those snaps early in the season.

Tight end Derek Carrier, linebacker Perry Riley and guard Shaun Lauvao are on the PUP list as well. Carrier tore his ACL last year, Riley had foot surgery this offseason and Lauvao spent most of last year on injured reserve with ankle problems.

The Redskins also placed linebacker Junior Galette on the non-football injury list as a result of the Achilles he tore while working out last week. It’s the second straight year that Galette has suffered the injury, although it was a different leg this time around.

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Back injury lands DeMarcus Ware on NFI list

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 17:  DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Denver Broncos strikes a pose during player introduction before the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos will have linebacker Von Miller on the field at the start of training camp, but his partner at the other outside linebacker spot isn’t quite ready to go at this point.

DeMarcus Ware will be on the non-football injury list as camp gets underway as he continues to deal with a back injury that hampered him at times last season and kept him from practicing with the team during their offseason program. Ware can’t practice as long as he’s on the list, but General Manager John Elway said that the veteran was going to handled with care whether he was on the NFI list or not.

“We’ll continue to monitor what he’s done,” Elway said, via the Denver Post. “DeMarcus was somebody that was going to be very managed through the preseason anyway.”

Coach Gary Kubiak said that Ware’s moving in the right direction to be ready for the start of the regular season. Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett gives the Broncos options of players to match with Miller until Ware is back and options to limit Ware’s workload down the road.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Ed Reed AP

Bills assistant coach Ed Reed is developing a following.

A new defensive scheme should help the Dolphins create pass-rush.

The Patriots are hoping to build some continuity up front for whichever QB is on the field.

Jets QB Geno Smith was “this close” to being a starter again.

Ravens RB Justin Forsett isn’t interested in hearing about a committee.

The Bengals have some options in the return game.

The Browns latest QB competition can now begin.

Injuries could be the only thing keeping the Steelers from being Super Bowl favorites.

The Texans have some healthy CBs again.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s not looking back.

The Jaguars have former NFL RB Leon Washington among their summer coaching interns.

Titans DE Jurrell Casey is promising more Pro Bowls.

The Broncos are still in the process of determining which of owner Pat Bowlen’s children will take over the team.

Chiefs CB Phillip Gaines gets the first crack at replacing Sean Smith.

Raiders pass-rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin have become fast friends.

The Chargers are still waiting to see rookie Joey Bosa, one of the last two unsigned draft picks.

Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin says he’s been bitten by the coaching bug.

New Giants coach Ben McAdoo needs to establish his voice quickly.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson isn’t worried about how young his LB corps is.

Washington QB Kirk Cousins can focus on football now that the time for finances has passed.

The Bears are displaying a new attitude already.

The Lions have spent the offseason fixing their lines.

Packers rookie WR Trevor Davis could be their next underground sensation.

Vikings RG Brandon Fusco is ready for a bounceback season.

The Falcons want to keep both their big-play RBs fresh.

The Panthers’ most experienced CB is starting training camp on PUP.

Saints S Jairus Byrd will finally begin training camp healthy.

Buccaneers RB Doug Martin is excited to build on last year.

The Cardinals refined their playbook without adding pages.

The Rams are paying $10 million to have training camp at UC Irvine for three years.

The 49ers have Torrey Smith and a bunch of question marks at wide receiver.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is the star of a corny poster.

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Terrell Suggs trying to be smart, but wants to be back on field soon

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10:  Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up before the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs rarely holds back — as people who have been given nicknames like T-Sizzle are wont to do.

But while he promised he’d be back on the practice field soon following last year’s torn Achilles, there wasn’t so much of a firm timetable.

We’re close to where we want to be,” Suggs said , via Jamison Hensley of “I’ll be honest with you: The Ravens side of me is like, ‘[F—] it, Sizz, let’s go. Let’s play some football.’ But I’ve got to be smart with it. I can’t be timid, but I’ve got to be smart.

“It won’t be long before I’ll be off of it and out there practicing with the guys.”

Suggs hadn’t talked to reporters there in nearly 11 months, after tearing his Achilles in the regular season opener. He’s on the physically unable to perform list now, but can be activated at any time.

And you can tell the 33-year-old Suggs is motivated to get going, to prove he can still play at a high level. But mostly he’s glad to be back with the team. He basically disappeared after the injury, but said it was for the best.

“It was just a sucky feeling. It was a sucky time for me,” Suggs said. “We didn’t start too good. It was just a really bad time. I didn’t want it to be about me that I was gone. It was kind of like, ‘Just let the smoke clear, and let everything happen.’ That’s what happened.”

The smoke never cleared for the Ravens last year after that injury (or the ones that followed which decimated the roster). And any bounce they get this year is going to be partly determined by whether they get the consistent pass-rush they’ve come to expect from Suggs.

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Packers applying pressure to Matthews, Peppers to submit to PED interviews

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 13: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears passes under pressure from Julius Peppers #56 and Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 31-23. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The impasse between the NFL and the NFL Players Association over the investigation regarding the Al Jazeera documentary containing allegations against four active NFL players lingers, with the league wanting to interview them, the union declining to make them available, and the league not yet saying, “The interview will occur at this specific time. Show up and cooperate or be punished for failure to do so.”

It’s unclear whether the league will make such an ultimatum. Behind the scenes, however, efforts are ongoing to persuade the players to comply. In Green Bay, for example, a league source tells PFT that some pressure is being applied by the Packers to linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers to submit to the requested interviews.

There’s not much the team can do other than appeal to their desire to be exonerated, to avoid negative P.R., to get the matter behind them, and to minimize the possibility of a potential distraction. If the players are clean, it’s easy to argue that they should want to submit to the interviews so that the league eventually could issue a press release exonerating them, like the one issued earlier this week to exonerate Peyton Manning.

The NFLPA, which still harbors some lingering ill will toward Packers president and former player Mark Murphy from the CBA talks of 2011, nevertheless believes that allowing players to be interviewed based only on the recanted allegations of Charles Sly creates a bad precedent. The fact that the league ultimately regarded Sly’s allegations against Manning to be not credible makes it even more important to insist on something more than Sly’s shaky word before allowing the league to launch a fishing expedition aimed at getting them to say something that could be used against them.

For now, the active players have held firm. Even free-agent Mike Neal, who has linked his ongoing unemployment to the lingering cloud of PED suspicion, has not yielded. As long as they do, the ball will be in the NFL’s court — and the question will be whether the league wants to draw a line in the sand based on allegations from someone whom the league already has determined to be, as it related to Peyton Manning, not believable.

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Jarryd Hayne: If the NFL had a minor league I’d still be playing

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Rugby star Jarryd Hayne had never played American football when he left his Australian team in 2014 to try to make it in the NFL. Although he made it on the 49ers’ roster last year, he didn’t get a lot of playing time and quit football to go back to rugby this year.

Now Hayne is telling the NFL that if it wants to attract international talent like him, it needs a minor league.

“If there was a second division team where I could get those mental reps of being on the field, 100 per cent I’d go back to the NFL,” Hayne told the New Zealand Herald. “I’m at the end of my career where I really (have) just got to get on the field. I just want to be on the field. I’ve played eight games in two years. If I went back there to the NFL it’d be one of those things where I’d be a second or third string guy helping out but not really getting a lot of game time.”

The NFL tried, with NFL Europe, to have a minor league that would attract international attention. That experiment failed. And the NFL doesn’t really need a minor league because the NCAA does that for the NFL, without the NFL having to pay for it.

But the NFL might some day try some type of developmental league. It could be a way to get international talent like Hayne on the field.

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Dan Snyder pays for funeral of Redskins’ super fan “Chief Zee”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder stepped up to cover the funeral expenses of one of the team’s biggest supporters.

According to Carol Maloney of NBC 4 in Washington D.C., Snyder was the anonymous donor that paid for the funeral of Zema Williams, a.k.a. “Chief Zee.”

Williams, who passed away earlier this month, would attend games in full Native American-style headdresses while decked out in team colors.

Snyder isn’t exactly the most revered figure in the D.C. sports scene. The Redskins have won just one playoff games since Snyder assumed ownership of the franchise in 1999. He’s meddled with personnel decisions, had eight different head coaches in 17 years and been involved in several questionable lawsuits during his ownership of the team.

However, the gesture to cover the funeral costs of one of the team’s most visible fans is a nice one to make.

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